The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon #BookReview #BlogTour (@VandaSymon) @OrendaBooks @AnneCater #TheRingmaster #RandomThingsTours #NewZealandNoir

The Ringmaster Final Cover

Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand…

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…
Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new book by Vanda Symon. The Ringmaster is the second book in the Sam Shepard detective series (you can read my review of the first book, Overkillhere.) and I was really excited to see what Sam was up to. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my place on the tour and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Things have moved on for Sam Shephard since the events of Overkill. She has moved from the small town of Matuara to the bright lights of Dunedin and started her training as a detective. However, she is now at the bottom of the pecking order and not everyone is happy with her fast-tracking to CIB, particularly her boss, who seems to have it in for her and makes her life as difficult as possible.

The books kicks off to a flying start with the disturbing murder of a female student from the university at the same time as a protest at a circus which is visiting the town. As Sam gets involved in investigating the antics at the circus, she becomes convinced that it may have some connection to the murder and she is determined to work out how.

I absolutely loved the character of Sam in the first book and she has lost none of her drive or feistiness since moving to the city, despite her boss’s best efforts to keep her ‘in her place.’ She has a natural aptitude for police work and is determined to do her bit, whatever the personal cost, which makes her an admirable and entertaining protagonist for the story. We also get to see more complications in her personal life in this book through her relationship with her parents, and a potential new love interest, which serves to give the reader further human connection with Sam and draws us further into her story. I was hooked in from the start, firmly on Sam’s side and willing her to solve the case and prove her worth in her new role.

Even if I hadn’t read the first book, I would still have been tempted to pick this up, as I am a sucker for a book with a circus theme so the cover alone would have drawn me in and this book would work perfectly as standalone for anyone who hasn’t read the first one. The circus provides colour and excitement to the story, and some healthy moments of humour and pathos, which gives the book a really nice balance. Thus us one thing I find particularly attractive about Vanda’s writing, she manages to balance the light and shade beautifully to give the reader a real series of highs and lows throughout the story which makes for a very rewarding reading experience.

New Zealand plays a distinctive role in these books, and it was nice to discover a new side to the country with the author’s descriptions of the setting, scenery, flora and fauna of the area. I think the Kiwi flavour is a big part of what makes these books a standout for me, and such an enjoyable read. That, together with the easy flow of the writing, the great characterisation and a gripping plot, of course! I did feel that there was one tiny loose end that wasn’t quite tidied up satisfactorily to do with the motivation behind one of the sub-plot points (it’s hard to say more without including a spoiler) but it wasn’t a major let down for the book, more a niggle for my particularly anal brain. All in all, this was a very satisfying read and I look forward to reading the next one.

I have bought a paperback copy of this book, you should too.

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

Make sure you visit the rest of the blogs taking part in the tour to get a range of views on the book:

The Ringmaster blog poster 2019 (1)

About the Author

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Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

Connect with Vanda:

Website: http://vandasymon.com/index.php

Facebook: Vanda Simon

Twitter: @vandasymon

Instagram: @vandasymon

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The Liars by Naomi Joy #BookReview #BlogTour (@naomijoyauthor) @Aria_Fiction @HoZ_Books #NetGalley #TheLiars

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Two women. One deadly secret. A rivalry that could destroy them.

Ava Wells is perfect. She has the boyfriend, the career, the looks. One night changes everything and her life isn’t so seamless anymore.

Jade Fernleigh is ambitious. She’s worked hard to get where she is. And she’s not about to let Ava take the job she rightly deserves.

Both women share a secret that could destroy them, but who will crumble first?

I am delighted today to be taking part in the blog tour for The Liars by Naomi Joy. My thanks to Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus for inviting me to take part and for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Firstly, I owe an apology to Naomi and to Victoria as I have just realised that this review should have been posted yesterday. Sorry, I am on holiday with the family this week and have completely lost track of the day and the date, I have no other excuse.

On the plus side, if you are looking for a gripping book to accompany you on your own holiday this Easter, or to get you through the long holiday weekend, this might just be the book for you. It kept me glued to the pages at the beginning of the week, as far as the kids’ demands for trips to the beach and for ice cream would allow, desperate as I was to know how it would all pan out.

This is a book that reminds you not to fall into the trap of taking people at face value. Things are not always what they seem and appearances can be deceptive. There was one character in this book to whom I took an instant dislike, as no doubt the author intended, but by the end everything I believed about all the characters had been turned on its head and I was truly astounded by the conclusion, although it did require quite a suspension of disbelief to buy in to it. Not necessarily a negative in a book of this sort where you don’t expect absolute realism in the plot. In fact, I’d hate to meet some of these characters in real life!

Despite the fact that many of the characters in this book were not particularly likeable and some of them were downright despicable, the author did a good job of making them believable and giving them realistic motives for their actions. She managed to take me with them and make me invested in their stories, despite the fact they were largely unpleasant, which is quite a skill and the writing was very clever in this regard.

There were quite a few twists in the plot that I didn’t see coming and they were slotted in cleverly at intervals that took the story off in a different direction than the way I had thought it was going and kept me turning the pages. Despite the fact that the confines of the story are quite narrow and ordinary, the author managed to imbue it with a real sense of intrigue and tension and maintained the momentum to the end. I think this is an accomplished bit of writing for a debut and it has made me interested to see what she will do with her next book.

This book did have its faults, mainly that I felt events escalated rather quickly at the end to the point where I really did have to stretch my credulity to its limits to believe it but, I was willing to do this because I had enjoyed the story to this point. Beyond that, this was an engaging, twisty thriller with some interesting ideas and if you are looking for an undemanding but gripping read, pick this up.

The Liars is out now and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour for this book, please check out the blogs detailed on the posters below:

About the Author

Naomi Joy

Naomi Joy is a pen name of a young PR professional who was formerly an account director at prestigious Storm Communications. Writing from experience, she draws the reader in the darker side of the uptown and glamorous, presenting realism that is life or death, unreliable and thrilling to page-turn.

Connect with Naomi:

Twitter: @naomijoyauthor

Island in the Sun by Janice Horton #BookReview #BlogTour (@JaniceHorton) @RaRaResources #RachelsRandomResources #IslandInTheSun

Island In The Sun

Delighted to be on the blog tour today for Island in the Sun by Janice Horton, which is a gorgeous, summery-looking book. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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When successful jewellery designer Isla Ashton unexpectedly inherits her eccentric Aunt Kate’s Caribbean island, she is obligated to return to the place she associates with heartache and regret. To where she grew up and fell in love with her childhood friend, Leo Fernandez. Fully intent on selling the island and finally putting the past behind her, Isla is soon compelled to put together the pieces of what really happened on a fateful night ten-years before. She begins to believe that in going to prison, Leo hadn’t only been shielding her from the same fate. She also starts to suspect that her late Aunt hadn’t been entirely honest in sending her away under the guise of recriminations. Who had they both been protecting and why?

My first book by the backpacking housewife, Janice Horton, but I will definitely be tracking down more of her writing, as this book was right up my street for a fantastic escapist read. Exotic locales, mystery, scandal, a whiff of piracy and romance – what more could one ask from one little book?

This book follows Isla back to the idyllic island paradise where she was brought up by her stern aunt Kate after Kate’s death, determined to get the job of settling her aunt’s estate done as quickly as possible so she can leave the place that brings back bad memories and, most of all avoid a meeting with the man who lied to her and broke her heart years before. Of course, nothing is ever that straight forward and Isla is drawn back into the past and finds out all may not have been as she assumed.

I thought this book had a great balance of intrigue and romance. I was very drawn in to the story of Isla and her troubled history and I loved finding out more about the history of Kate and why she had ended up on Pearl Island and why she behaved the way she did towards Isla and Leo. I thought the plot was constructed really well and the devices used to reveal the past were really well done. The plot flowed quite easily for me and I was eager to follow it through to the end.

The characters were well drawn and compelling and I was fully invested in their story arcs. I liked hearing the different voices telling their stories, which allowed us to get to know the different characters and see things from their perspective. The stories are far-fetched, but that doesn’t detract from the fun if you suspend your disbelief .

A great, glamorous setting for an exciting tale full of romance and drama. If you are looking for a light book to take you to far flung shores and life you can only imagine, this is the book for you.

Island in the Sun is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To find out what my fellow bloggers on the tour thought of the book, make sure you visit their blogs as detailed below:

Island in the Sun Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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Janice Horton, also affectionately known as the backpacking housewife, writes contemporary romantic fiction with a dash of humour and a sense of adventure. Once her three children had grown up, Janice and her backpacking husband sold their empty nest in Scotland UK along with almost everything they owned and set off to travel the world. Since then they have been traveling full-time and have explored over 50 countries, living out of an apartment, a hut, or wherever they happen to find themselves.

Janice works as a writer wherever she is in the world. When not writing bestselling romantic adventure novels, she writes lifestyle and travel features for her website and her work has featured in national and international magazines like ‘Prima’ in the UK and ‘Friday’ in Dubai. She has also been involved in BBC Scotland’s Write Here Write Now project and has been interviewed on many podcasts and radio shows including Loose Women’s Kaye Adams’ prime time BBC Radio Scotland Show.

Connect with Janice:

Website: https://thebackpackinghousewife.com

Facebook: Jance Horton Author

Twitter: @JaniceHorton

Instagram: @janicehortonwriter

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves #BookReview #BlogTour (@tgarvisgraves) @orionbooks @AlainnaGeorgiou @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #NetGalley #TheGirlHeUsedToKnow

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What if you had a second chance at first love?

Annika Rose likes being alone.

She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way. She just can’t read people. She prefers the quiet solitude of books or playing chess to being around others. Apart from Jonathan. She liked being around him, but she hasn’t seen him for ten years. Until now that is. And she’s not sure he’ll want to see her again after what happened all those years ago.

Annika Rose likes being alone.

Except that, actually, she doesn’t like being alone at all.

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves. My thanks Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me on to the tour and to Orion for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This book totally took me by surprise to be honest. I thought it was just going to be a straight forward romance, and it certainly started out that way, and then it became one of those books that just grabs your heart and compels you to keep reading. I ended up staying up until three a.m. to finish it and I don’t regret it for a second.

The main character is Annika, a girl who isn’t quite like everyone else. She has always been branded weird and has severe social anxiety, so has led a sheltered life without friends until she goes to college, where she finally finds a couple of people who understand her and help her come out of her shell.

One of these is Jonathan, a boy she meets at chess club, who finally seems to be someone who can accept her and love her for who she really is. But then, something happens that sends their relationship off the rails and they part and don’t see each other for ten years until fate brings them together again and they try and find out if they can work through what went wrong all those years ago.

This is a split timeline book, as we follow events while Annika and Jonathan are at college, and then when they meet again ten years later, so we can see how they have both changed over that time. The structure works really well and was very clear and easy to follow. I connected with Annika’s character immediately, even though she is someone who walks her own path. She is someone you can’t help wanting to protect, and for things to go right for her because she is such a sweet and gentle person, who is just out of step with the rest of the world. Jonathan was a bit more of a problematic character as, although he was good to Annika and she loved him, I had glimpses of times when he needed things from her that weren’t quite true to herself. However, it was obvious that the relationship has certain unique difficulties for him, so I guess that was only to be expected and was kind of the point, showing the challenges of being in love with someone that doesn’t quite fit in to the definition of the norm.

The plot of this book is very gentle most of the way through, which was not a problem, I loved it for what it was and would have been happy if it had carried on that way to the end. The writer is very accomplished and her portrayal of two people and their relationship was enough for me to enjoy the book just for that. However, something then happens that jolted me out of my complacency and took the book to a totally new place and a different level that I was not expecting. The last 20% of the book had an extremely dramatic effect on me, hence the late night reading binge, and elevated the reading experience to something quite out of the ordinary. It is difficult for me to say more without giving away any spoilers, you will have to read it for yourself. I read another review of this book that said this book contained no surprises. I can honestly say this absolutely was not true for me (maybe other readers are more astute), the ending was like a punch to the gut.

This book deals with some sensitive issues and some things which some people may find problematic or upsetting. I applaud the writer’s bravery in tackling them, I think these are things that need to be written about and we, as readers, should not shy away from reading books with tough themes. These things are the truth of human experience and by engaging with them, we can only gain insight into and empathy for our fellow man. I have to say that some of the issues discussed are not ones with which I have had personal experience so, although they felt authentic and sensitively handled to me, I am not really in a position to attest to whether this is actually the case.

I thought this book was quite stunning. It stood out as something very different and brilliantly written. I was left feeling like the time I invested in this book had been repaid tenfold by the reading experience and I am excited to find a new writer that I can’t wait to read more of. Please read it.

The Girls He Used To Know is out now in ebook and in August in paperback and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, please check out the other blogs taking part as detailed below:

The Girl He Used to Know blog tour v2

About the Author

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Tracey Garvis Graves is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction. Her debut novel, On the Island, spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has been translated into thirty-one languages, and is in development with MGM and Temple Hill Productions for a feature film. She is also the author of Uncharted, Covet, Every Time I Think of You, Cherish, Heart-Shaped Hack, White-Hot Hack, and The Girl He Used to Know. She is hard at work on her next book.

Connect with Tracey:

Website: https://traceygarvisgraves.com

Facebook: T Garvis Graves

Twitter: @tgarvisgraves

Instagram: @traceygarvisgraves

 

The Mill on Magnolia Lane by Tilly Tennant #BookReview #BlogTour (@TillyTenWriter) @bookouture #NetGalley #TheMillOnMagnoliaLane

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The sky is cornflower blue, the air is scented with the smell of fresh apple blossom and Lizzie Lovell can’t wait to start her new life in the mill on Magnolia Lane. But is she just about to fall in love with someone she shouldn’t? 

When Lizzie loses her larger-than-life Dad she doesn’t know how to move forward. Encouraged by a childhood dream she shared with her beloved father, she is determined to continue his legacy and moves to the old Mill on Magnolia Lane, a place he had always longed to own.

Restoring the old windmill is a much bigger job than Lizzie bargained for, especially when she is distracted by her new next door neighbour Jude, who has temptingly twinkly eyes and a body to die for. But when Jude’s ex- girlfriend Harriet arrives back on the scene, Lizzie begins to wonder if life wasn’t far simpler before she moved to the mill. Especially when it emerges that Harriet knows something about Jude’s past, something that could shatter her new start and her heart into smithereens …

It’s publication day for The Mill on Magnolia Lane, the latest book by Tilly Tennant so I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour on this special day. Happy Publication Day, Tilly! Huge thanks to Noelle Holten of Bookouture for inviting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I know there will be a lot of people out there who, like me, are huge fans of Tilly Tennant and who will be waiting eagerly for this new book and I can confirm that I don’t think they will be disappointed by her latest offering.

This book joins Lizzie at a very sad time in her life when she has just lost her dad and she is feeling a little adrift. She decides to buy the derelict old mill on Magnolia Lane that her father always longed to own and decides to renovate it in his honour, and so her adventure starts. Living in a cramped caravan onsite, trying to deal with all the issues that inevitably come with restoring a crumbling, old building and dealing with her dishy neighbour and her fractured family in to the bargain was never going to be plain sailing.

Having built by own house from scratch (not literally, of course, I had builders!), I could relate to Lizzie’s dilemmas in the book and thought Tilly captured the problems with taking on a huge building project very well and it was a great driver for the book. The parts describing the renovation of the mill were some of my favourites in the book and anyone who enjoys these kind of stories about the renovation of old buildings, breathing new life into the and, thus, bringing to life the hopes and dreams for the future of the owners (because that is what building or renovating a house is, trying to bring to life your dream home) will love this book.

Although this is a romance, it is actually a book more about family relationships and how turbulent they can be and how we need to work at them sometimes, but that it can be worth it. Lizzie has a very troubled family. Divorce has led to conflict between her mother and siblings and her stepmother, to whom Lizzie alone is friendly and this causes friction. Lizzie’s stepmother was actually one of my favourite characters in the book and I loved the scenes she was in. Lizzie’s sister is high maintenance, and comes into the book with a lot of issues which she then burdens her sister with. All of this rang very true to life and brought a really interesting thread of questions and plot and tension to the book. It felt like a realistic portrayal of family to me. I thought the issues regarding Lizzie’s brother were rather glossed over or rushed and could have been developed more fully if they were to be included but I loved the rest of it.

For me, surprisingly, the romantic part of the book was the least compelling on this occasion. Part of the problem was that it just developed too quickly. I mean, unrealistically quickly. You really need to suspend your disbelief to buy in to this one, or maybe I am just old and jaded, who knows. Given her past history, I wasn’t quite buying it, particularly given the peculiar situation with Jude and his ex, Harriet. I didn’t blame Lizzie for her misgivings over that, although I did think that exploring this kind of situation was an interesting and relevant idea, as this is so common these days and something I have experienced myself but the portrayal didn’t quite ring true. Part of the problem was that Jude wasn’t quite doing it for me in his obliviousness. I did absolutely love Charlie as a character though, I could have read about him all day long. However, we all know that what we find compelling about men in books is very subjective (am I the only one who didn’t fall for Mr Rochester?), just as it is in real life. If we all liked the same, we’d be fighting over a very small pool of eligible men!

This is a really charming, summer read with a lot of strong points and an interesting premise that I know fans of Tilly will enjoy. Her appealing, breezy writing style is present and as strong as always and it is an easy and fun read. Just maybe one beat from perfect for me, but only for very personal reasons. You must read it and judge for yourself.

The Mill on Magnolia Lane is out today and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, see the stops detailed below:

The Mill on Magnolia Lane - Blog Tour

About the Author

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Tilly Tennant was born in Dorset, the oldest of four children, but now lives in Staffordshire with a family of her own. After years of dismal and disastrous jobs, including paper plate stacking, shop girl, newspaper promotions and waitressing (she never could carry a bowl of soup without spilling a bit), she decided to indulge her passion for the written word by embarking on a degree in English and creative writing. She wrote a novel in 2007 during her first summer break at university and has not stopped writing since. She also works as a freelance fiction editor, and considers herself very lucky that this enables her to read many wonderful books before the rest of the world gets them.

Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn was her debut novel; published in 2014 it was an Amazon bestseller in both the UK and Australia. In 2016 she signed to the hugely successful Bookouture and is currently working on her next Tilly Tennant novel. She also writes as Sharon Sant, where she explores the darker side of life, and Poppy Galbraith, where things get a little crazier.

Connect with Tilly:

Website: https://tillytennant.com

Facebook: Tilly Tennant

Twitter: @TillyTenWriter

Desert Island Books: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells @rwellswrites #BookReview #friendship #family #bookbloggers #bookblog #desertislandbooks #readinggoals

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When Siddalee Walker, oldest daughter of Vivi Abbott Walker, Ya-Ya extraordinaire, is interviewed in the New York Times about a hit play she’s directed, her mother gets described as a “tap-dancing child abuser.” Enraged, Vivi disowns Sidda.

Devastated, Sidda begs forgiveness, and postpones her upcoming wedding. All looks bleak until the Ya-Yas step in and convince Vivi to send Sidda a scrapbook of their girlhood mementos, called “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.”

As Sidda struggles to analyze her mother, she comes face to face with the tangled beauty of imperfect love, and the fact that forgiveness, more than understanding, is often what the heart longs for.

If you want to know if you are going to like this book or not, all you need to do is to read the prologue. It is only a page and a half long, but it perfectly encapsulates the setting, tone and characterisation of the book. It wraps you in the mood, sounds, tastes, smells and feelings of the Louisiana bayou and pulls you in to the book; a literary seductress of a prologue – I defy you to resist its siren call.

This is the third of the books I have chosen to accompany me to my Desert Island, to be read repeatedly in perpetuity and I had absolutely no doubt at all as to whether to include it in the list. I fell hopelessly and irrevocably in love with this book the first time I read it, and that love has remained unaltered – steadfast and true – through repeated readings over the intervening twenty-plus years. It is a book that has grown with me over that time, as I have matured from naive twenty-something to a woman in her mid-forties with now a history of relationships and children to inform my understanding of the book. It is a novel that gives you different things depending on from where in your life you come at it. A novel so rich in insight and understanding of the female condition that it will not age.

This book is, without doubt, the best book about female friendship that I have ever read, and given how much I read that is no minor feat. When I first read it in my early twenties, I was so moved by the depiction of the relationship between the four Ya-Yas, that I immediately bought a copy of the book for each of my three closest female friends, so I could share the experience with them, and I know I am not alone in feeling this. A whole movement of Ya-Ya clubs sprang up around this book as it moved readers to celebrate their own relationships with the women in their lives. Close female friendship is a unique and special thing, and Rebecca Wells portrays this perfectly. Just as in this book, my girlfriends have been there with me through all the important times in my life, good and bad. They have celebrated with me, commiserated, listened, advised, laughed and cried. At times they have literally carried me through periods when I thought I could not go on. They are always on my side, never judging, never criticising. They are the scaffolding that has kept me upright when my very foundations have been shaken by seismic life events, and this book dissects and celebrates the true bones of these relationships and their role in our lives.

As I’ve grown older and had relationships and family of my own, the dynamics of the mother/daughter relationship which is also central to this book have also come into sharper focus for me and meant more. I have come to understand it better from the perspective of Vivi, rather than Siddalee, and it has added an extra layer of richness to the narrative for me. There is always some new perspective to find on every reading, it is a book rich in nuance that takes more than one reading to mine and, as a result, I never get tired of it.

In addition to the above, this book also gives the most magnificent sense of place of any book I have read and was the reason that I fell in love with the Deep South of the USA before I even visited, and Louisiana in particular. I wanted to experience all the richness that this book promised awaited me there, the heavy warmth, the spice of the food, the twanging patois of the vernacular, so unique to this place and its mongrel history and when I finally got there, it exceeded every expectation. This book took part of my heart and planted it in Louisiana and the call to return and find it continues to draw me back to this day. This is an extraordinary feat for any book and reason enough to pick it up, if the preceding praise was not sufficient. If you want a book that transports you to a different time and place, look no further, this novel will carry you away; it is a book you can lose yourself in completely.

This book touches on some difficult subjects, but that is part of what makes it so glorious. This book is real. It deals with real people, real problems, real feelings, real relationships. The characters are flawed but compelling and the reader cannot help but be drawn into their drama. The writing is sublime. It is the kind of book that makes me want to write, to give people this experience, this connection with characters, this sense of empathy. When Rowan Coleman gave a talk at the RNA Conference last year about finding the three words to describe your writing, the top one on my list was affinity. I want people who read my book to feel an affinity with my characters and what they are going through, even if they have not been through the same experience themselves. That is what I feel for the characters in this book, even though they inhabit a different world than mine. And it makes me want to weep, because I know that I will never write anything as good as this.

If you haven’t got the message by now, I adore this book. It is one of those novels that, when you have read it, you feel that it has changed you.

You can get a copy of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood here and I think I might have to insist that you do.

About the Author

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Rebecca Wells was born and raised in Alexandria, Louisiana. “I grew up,” she says, “in the fertile world of story-telling, filled with flamboyance, flirting, futility, and fear.” Surrounded by Louisiana raconteurs, a large extended family, and Our Lady of Prompt Succor’s Parish, Rebecca’s imagination was stimulated at every turn. Early on, she fell in love with thinking up and acting in plays for her siblings—the beginnings of her career as an actress and writer for the stage. She recalls her early influences as being the land around her, harvest times, craw-fishing in the bayou, practicing piano after school, dancing with her mother and brothers and sister, and the close relationship to her black “mother” who cleaned for the Wells household. She counts black music and culture from Louisiana as something that will stay in her body’s memory forever.

In high school, she read Walt Whitman’s “I Sing the Body Electric,” which opened her up to the idea that everything in life is a poem, and that, as she says, “We are not born separately from one another.” She also read “Howl,” Allen Ginsberg’s indictment of the strangling consumer-driven American culture he saw around him. Acting in school and summer youth theater productions freed Rebecca to step out of the social hierarchies of high school and into the joys of walking inside another character and living in another world.

The day after she graduated from high school, Rebecca left for Yellowstone National Park, where she worked as a waitress. It was an introduction to the natural glories of the park—mountains, waterfalls, hot springs, and geysers—as well as to the art of hitchhiking.

Rebecca graduated from Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge, where she studied theater, English, and psychology. She performed in many college plays, but also stepped outside the theater department to become awakened to women’s politics. During this time she worked as a cocktail waitress–once accidentally kicking a man in the shins when he slipped a ten-dollar bill down the front of her dress—and began keeping a journal after reading Anais Nin, which she has done ever since.

Connect with Rebecca:

Website: https://www.rebeccawellsbooks.com

Facebook: Rebecca Wells Author

Twitter: @rwellswrites

Instagram: @mizrebeccawells

 

 

Disturbance by Marianne Kavanagh #BlogTour #GuestPost (@MarianneKav) @HodderBooks @ReadEatRetreat #Disturbance

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You don’t know what is going on in Sara’s house… or in her head.

Sara is lonely. No one talks to her – not even her bad-tempered workaholic husband or her two beloved sons. Her solace is her house, the biggest in the village, hidden away behind high hedges.

Then she strikes up a friendship with Katie, a college student living nearby, and a new world opens up. Her neighbours have been dying to get to know her, and they rush to help when Sara is devastated by a terrible accident.

But nothing is quite what it seems. And when new betrayals and shocking revelations disturb her peace, Sara realises she has no choice: she must act to protect the safety of those she loves.

I’m really thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour today for Disturbance by Marianne Kavanagh. My thanks to Kate Keehan at Hodder & Stoughton for asking me to be on the tour and for my copy of the book, which I will be reviewing on the blog at a later date.

For now, Marianne has very kindly agreed to be my guinea pig for a new feature I am considering introducing to the blog called 5W1H, where I will be asking authors a series of what, when, why, who, where and how questions about their writing process. Let’s see what Marianne made of my questions!

What inspired the plot for this book?

It’s difficult to answer this without giving too much away – Disturbance is full of twists and turns, and I hope you don’t realise what’s really going on until the very end of the book. But I was reading a lot of Patricia Highsmith, and thinking about how she makes you have sympathy for people who are behaving badly. I was also thinking about how the seven deadly sins are seen as normal pleasures these days – you’re encouraged to be full of pride, to envy other people, to laze about and eat too much. None of this is very apparent in the final novel – they were just ideas about good and evil that were running beneath the surface when I began.

 

When did you start writing this novel?

I just looked that up – August 2016.

 

Why do you choose Sara as the central character to carry the story?

It wasn’t Sara originally. In the first few drafts, everything was seen through Katie’s eyes. After about a year of struggling, I switched to Sara’s point of view. It was very hard, being inside Sara’s head, but the story came together for the first time, so it was the right decision.

 

Who is the first person who gets to read your work when you’ve finished it?

My husband Matt reads the very first draft, which is usually rubbish. Friends read later drafts, and my daughter Alice reads the final draft before I send it to my agent.

 

Where do you do most of your writing?

At home, in a room downstairs next to the kitchen. I used to find it really difficult to write if there was anyone in the house at all, because I got so distracted by noise. But nowadays I can blank out everything except for my tabby cat Mo wanting his dinner.

 

How did you set about writing the book? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Usually I’m a plotter. I write a few key scenes to get going, and then plan the whole novel. But that didn’t happen with Disturbance – I kept having to throw it all away and start again. But maybe that’s the point. So much of writing is re-writing. Sometimes you have to do everything the wrong way before you can work out the right way.

Thank you, Marianne, for answering my questions. As an aspiring writer myself, i find glimpses into other author’s processes absolutely fascinating.

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

Watch out for my review of the book coming soon but, if you can’t wait that long, please check out the other stops on the blog tour as detailed below to read some reviews from my fabulous fellow bloggers.

Disturbance Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

MK © Marzena Photography

Marianne Kavanagh is an author and journalist.

She has worked for Woman, the Tatler, the Sunday Telegraph magazine and British Marie Claire, and has contributed features to a wide variety of national newspapers, magazines and websites.

She has three grown-up children in their twenties – a journalist, a stand-up comic and a textiles designer.

She lives in south-east London with her husband Matt and two extraordinarily annoying cats.

Marianne’s first two novels have been translated into eight languages. Her third and fourth novels are published by Hodder & Stoughton – SHOULD YOU ASK ME is out now (hardback, paperback, ebook and audio) and DISTURBANCE will be published in March 2019.

Connect with Marianne:

Website: http://www.mariannekavanagh.com

Facebook: Marianne Kavanagh Writer

Twitter: @MarianneKav

Instagram: @mariannekavanaghwriter