The Madonna of Bolton by Matt Cain #BlogTour #GuestPost (@MattCainWriter) @unbounders @annecater #RandomThingsTours #MadonnaOfBolton

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“Charlie Matthews’ love story begins in a pebble-dashed house in suburban Bolton, at a time when most little boys want to grow up to be Michael Jackson, and girls want to be Princess Di. Remembering the Green Cross Code and getting out of football are the most important things in his life, until Auntie Jan gives him a gift that will last a lifetime: a seven-inch single called ‘Lucky Star’…

On his ninth birthday, Charlie discovers Madonna, and falls in love. His obsession sees him through some tough times in life: being persecuted at school, fitting in at a posh university, a glamorous career in London, finding boyfriends, getting rid of boyfriends, and family heartbreak. Madonna’s music and videos inspire him, and her fierce determination to succeed gives him the confidence to do the same – and, ultimately, to let go of his idol, and find his own voice.”

Delighted to be on the blog tour today for the totally fabulous The Madonna of Bolton by Matt Cain which was published yesterday. I want to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and the publisher for my copy of the book which is Unbound’s fastest-ever-funded novel, with pledges from David Walliams, S.J. Watson, and Mark Gatiss, as well as from countries where to be gay is currently still illegal and is published to coincide with Madonna’s sixtieth birthday.

To celebrate publication of the book, I am absolutely thrilled to bring you a guest post by none other than….Madonna! No, not really but the next best thing in the author himself, Matt Cain, who has unveiled for you:

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Me’

* I may have been brought up in Bolton but I was born in the neighbouring town of Bury, where I lived till I was two, and I went to secondary school and sixth-form college there, as both of my parents worked in the town.

* Yes, I loved Madonna when I was growing up but I was obsessed with pop music in general. Acts like Five Star, A-Ha, the Pet Shop Boys, Kylie Minogue, Janet Jackson, Take That and Erasure were all firm favourites at various stages of my teens.

* Before I went to university I spent my gap year working as an au pair in France. I’d asked the agency to place me with a family in central Paris but I was sent to a tiny village 50 minutes outside the capital, with a host family that was very unhappy as the parents’ marriage was falling apart. It was a pretty miserable year for me but I did get lots of time to read and travel into Paris on my days off to drink in everything the city had to offer.

* People always assume I studied English at university but I actually did French and Spanish and also spent a year working as a language assistant in Madrid. And before you ask, yes I did used to be fluent in both but the truth is my languages have gone to rack and ruin now. I did have a French boyfriend for a while and that helped but it’s been downhill all the way since we split up. Once I’ve established myself as a novelist I need to rectify the situation and bring my languages back to life!

* I didn’t move straight to London after university; I spent a very happy year in Manchester, working for a cable TV channel called Granada Men and Motors, which was the equivalent of Page 3 on the screen and starred various glamour models in series like 4Play, Lady Lust’s Lovelies and The Centrefolds. I’m not particularly proud of the work I did here but I got on well with all the girls and, as the saying goes, I was young and needed the money!

* Once I’d moved to London, I spent eight years working on The South Bank Show for ITV. One of the first profiles I made was of Craig David and we were filming in the studio one day when he needed someone to translate the chorus of a new song he was working on into Spanish. I obliged, was given a thank-you in the album notes, and when Spanish was released as a single, it reached number 8 in the UK Top 40. So I like to think I can cross having a top ten hit off my bucket list!

* In order to get the job as the first ever Culture Editor on Channel 4 News I had to do seven interviews and tests over the course of twelve weeks. Every night at home I’d practise speaking into a little camera on my own until I gradually grew more and more relaxed. When it came time to record my screentest we did it on location on the University College London campus and I had to record a mock report and live broadcast on some minor controversy surrounding the film Slumdog Millionaire. I’ve no idea where the footage is now and dread to think how bad I must have been but it did the trick at the time and I was offered the job a few weeks later.

* While working at Channel 4 News I had a pacemaker installed in my heart. I have a rare health condition that means my heart cuts out for up to twenty seconds at a time and then starts again. It was misdiagnosed for over thirty years (including as epilepsy for a while), until doctors finally worked out what it was in 2012. My condition has the rather snappy name of autonomically mediated syncope with asystole and it made me an anxious wreck for decades. Now my pacemaker kicks in whenever my heart cuts out so I don’t lose consciousness anymore. It’s my most treasured possession – there isn’t a day goes by that I’m not thankful for it. It genuinely changed my life and I’ve never looked back since.

* When I was working as Editor-in-Chief of Attitude, I received a lot of attention for stripping naked for our Body issue, writing about my experience of taking HIV prevention drug PrEP, and going on an undercover mission to Russia to report on the impact of Putin’s anti-gay legislation on the country’s LGBT population. But I was perhaps most proud of a less attention-grabbing article I wrote about the LGBT homelessness crisis here in the UK. Did you know that a massive 24% of young homeless people identify as LGBT and of these, 77% say their sexuality or gender identity is the principal cause of their homelessness? I’ve since been made an ambassador for the Albert Kennedy Trust, the UK’s LGBT youth homelessness charity, and it’s a role I fulfil with pride.

* My novel The Madonna of Bolton may have been rejected by over thirty mainstream publishers before I crowd-funded it in record time but I also have another novel and a non-fiction book that were roundly rejected and are now ready to go. If this book is a hit I can’t wait to unleash the others onto the world! Oh and I’ve promised my publisher I’ll write a sequel to The Madonna of Bolton too!

Thanks Matt for being a guest on the blog today and best of luck with the book, it deserves to do brilliantly. Watch out for my review of the book in a future blog post.

The Madonna of Bolton is out now and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to find out what my fellow bloggers thought of the book, you can follow the tour here:

Madonna Of Bolton Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

Matt Cain Author

 Matt Cain was born in Bury and brought up in Bolton. He spent ten years making arts and entertainment programmes for ITV before stepping in front of the camera in 2010 to become Channel 4 News’ first ever culture editor. His first novel, Shot Through the Heart, was published in 2014 and his second, Nothing But Trouble, followed in 2015. As a journalist he has contributed articles to all the major UK newspapers and is currently Editor-in-Chief of Attitude, the UK’s biggest-selling magazine for gay men, and its sister publication, Winq. In 2017 he was voted Diversity in Media’s Journalist of the Year. He lives in London. 

Connect with Matt:

Website: http://www.mattcainwriter.com

Twitter: @MattCainWriter

Instagram: @mattcainwriter

Goodreads: Matt Cain

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The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle #BookReview (@doyle_cat) @KidsBloomsbury #TheStormKeepersIsland #NetGalley

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“When Fionn Boyle sets foot on Arranmore Island, it begins to stir beneath his feet.

Once in a generation, the island chooses a new Storm Keeper – someone to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has finally come for Fionn’s grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new Keeper will rise.

Fionn’s ancestral home has been waiting for him. But deep underground, someone else has been waiting, too. As a battle rages, over who will become the island’s next champion, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war.”

This book is a mystical story of ancient magic and family legacies, brought right up to date with modern story-telling. Fionn Boyle goes to visit his grandfather on the island of Arranmore, a place his mother doesn’t talk about and where tragedy has befallen his family. Once there, Fionn discovers he is descended from an ancient line of families integral to the history of the island, which is full of magic and with an ancient evil lurking beneath the earth. Fionn doesn’t think he is anything special, or that he has what it takes to live up to his legacy, but he may not have a choice.

As someone who has always loved traditional myths and folklore, I would have loved this book as a child and still found plenty to enchant me in adulthood. The setting was perfect – an isolated storm-swept island full of history and legend, magic and secrets – just the kind of place to capture the imagination of any child. Fionn is an easy hero to relate to as well, as he seems ordinary in the beginning, possessing no special skills and riddled with fear and self-doubt, and with a fractious relationship with his older sister. I am sure most children will recognise aspects of themselves in Fionn and be able to identify with him and his journey.

The relationship Fionn has with his grandfather is particularly touching and emotional and was at the heart of the story for me. The idea of seeing ourselves in previous generations and how we can carry down the best aspects of our family through the generation and maintain those links is charming and heart-warming. The relationship he has with his sister is also drawn very naturally and authentically. Their bickering, the way she annoys him and how frustrated he gets with her were very true to life and extremely entertaining. The suitably appalling boyfriend who is a rival to Fionn’s place in island history was also good fun to read.

There was plenty of action and great ideas in this book. The way the Storm Keeper was able to capture moments in time and preserve them to be revisited in future was a great hook for creating some exciting moments of drama in the book, and it was pacy enough to carry the reader along through chapter after chapter.

If I had a minor niggle about this book, it was that it was obviously setting itself up for a sequel and the ending was not perhaps satisfying enough in relation to the subject of the evil lurking beneath the earth which does not fully materialise. There are a lot of hints and developments that are obviously leading to a major battle occurring in a future book that we will have to wait for, so this definitely feels like a prequel. This did not stop it being an enjoyable read but I was most certainly left wondering about what is going to happen to Fionn and the island next.

A small quirk I also came across was with the name of the main character – Fionn – which my eye, unfamiliar with this name, kept reading as Fiona and I had to mentally check myself each time I read it which was a niggling annoyance but that might just be me!

Those tiny issues aside, this is a great book that is a welcome addition to the strong canon of middle grade literature that has sprung up over the past few years and I am sure any child who loves stories of magic and adventure will quickly get lost in this book over the long summer holiday. I would definitely encourage my younger daughter and nieces and nephews to read it and I will be waiting eagerly for the next instalment in Fionn’s story.

The Storm Keeper’s Island is out now and you can buy a copy here.

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

About the Author

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Catherine Doyle grew up beside the Atlantic Ocean in the west of Ireland. Her love of reading began with great Irish myths and legends, and fostered in her an ambition to one day write her own. She holds a first class BA in Psychology and a first class MA in Publishing from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and is the author of the YA Blood for Blood trilogy. The Storm Keeper’s Island is her debut middle-grade novel and was inspired by her real-life ancestral home of Arranmore Island, where her grandparents grew up, and the adventures of her many seafaring ancestors. After living in Dublin City for two years, Catherine is now based in Galway but spends a lot of her time in London and the US.

Connect with Catherine”

Website: https://www.catherinedoylebooks.com

Twitter: @doyle_cat

Instagram: @cat_doyle0

Goodreads: Catherine Doyle

Wrecker by Noel O’Reilly #BookReview #PublicationDay @HQstories @NetGalley #Wrecker #NetGalley

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“Shipwrecks are part of life in the remote village of Porthmorven, Cornwall. And as the sea washes the bodies of the drowned onto the beach, it also brings treasures: barrels of liquor, exotic fruit, the chance to lift a fine pair of boots from a corpse, maybe even a jewel or two.

When, after a fierce storm, Mary Blight rescues a man half-dead from the sea, she ignores the whispers of her neighbours and carries him home to nurse better. Gideon Stone is a Methodist minister from Newlyn, a married man. Touched by Mary’s sacrifice and horrified by the superstitions and pagan beliefs the villagers cling to, Gideon sets out to bring light and salvation to Porthmorven by building a chapel on the hill.

But the village has many secrets and not everyone wants to be saved. As Mary and Gideon find themselves increasingly drawn together, jealousy, rumour and suspicion is rife. Gideon has demons of his own to face, and soon Mary’s enemies are plotting against her…”

I first came across stories of wreckers in one Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books when I was quite young. Five Go Down To The Sea was a book that had me reading saucer-eyed, late in to the night, as I heard the story of wicked people who used lights to lure boats onto the treacherous rocks of the Cornish coast so they could plunder the cargo of the sinking ship, careless of the lives of any passengers or crew on board. I was truly horrified that people could do something so evil, but fascinated at the same time and it must be true that childhood impressions stick because I have remained fascinated ever since.

Subsequently I discovered the books of Daphne du Maurier and, of course, Jamaica Inn deals with the same subject matter and has always been one of my favourites. So when I saw Wrecker on Netgalley, firstly its beautiful cover caught my eye but then, when I read the description, I knew I had to read it. However, I have ended up with mixed feelings about the book.

In some ways it did remind me of Jamaica Inn – the setting, the squalor of living conditions, the roughness of the people, plus they both have a mystery at the heart of them. However, there were a few ways in which Wrecker was the paler shadow of Jamaica Inn.

The writing was good. The author did a fantastic job of portraying the time period and the way of life of the people in this remote area of Cornwall at this time and the reasons why they would turn to such a heinous crime to enhance a way of life that was otherwise poverty-stricken. The book paints a very clear picture of the people, their dress and how they lived and there were some fascinating characters throughout the book. He captured the way of speaking in a way that felt authentic to the time period and differing social classes within the story.  There is also a strong thread of superstition running through it which was really interesting to explore.

One of the main strengths of the book for me was the depiction of the very clearly delineated social structures within the population at this time, along both class and gender lines and how much this affected individual’s lives and what they were able to do. The main character, Mary, is a maverick who is fighting against both her class and her gender which are holding her back. Even within their mean and lowly village, she is at the bottom of the pecking order and is being kept down by the ‘bettermost’ when she tries to alleviate herself, and also shamed as a woman for wanting any kind of autonomy or self-determination. Lack of a male figure in their household exacerbates the problem. It is a fascinating inside into a time period and way of life that is totally alien to us and I loved this aspect of the book.

The downside was the fact that none of the characters were very sympathetic. Mary is rough and prickly and bitter, which is understandable and forgivable, but she is also very selfish and entirely motivated by avarice. Her goals are shallow and self-serving. Even when she thinks about bettering herself, she wants to do so purely with her own increased comfort and importance in mind, with no thought given to also raising up her mother and sister and I found it very hard to be too sympathetic to her for this reason. Most of the problems she is having are self-inflicted, she is no victim of circumstance. Even when she sets her cap at other people’s partners, it is not from genuine love but either lust or materialism, which are hard motivations to make a reader get behind a protagonist. Similarly, the main male character is weak and not particularly compelling as a romantic hero. The only really likeable character in the book is Mary’s sister Tegen.

That being said, having a deeply flawed protagonist is not totally fatal to the book,  the plot was still involved enough to make it no hardship to read to the end. I was involved enough in watching the struggles within the social hierarchy play out that it carried me to the end. The mystery at the centre was a minor side interest and I was mildly interested but not desperate to know who did it. Everything got resolved very quickly at the end and it was quite dramatic but for some reason felt like a bit of a cop out.

My main complaint was that there was barely any reference to wrecking in this book, despite the title and I was a bit disappointed. There is a wreck at the beginning but we begin in the aftermath, but no clear details about how it is done, or whether it is the work or wreckers or an accident. It was not what I was hoping for and this has definitely coloured my opinion as well.

Overall, this is not a bad book and as an examination of social mores in a time and place long past it is fascinating but the actual characters and story left me unmoved and a little disappointed. The writing itself is good but not enough in itself to make this a book I will return to. This book has had a lot of hype and was snapped up quickly and for a substantial sum which added to my expectations but my overall feeling at the end was it did not live up to them and left me feeling ‘meh’.

Wrecker is out today and you buy a copy here.

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

About the Author

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Noel O’Reilly was a student on the New Writing South Advanced writing course. He has worked as a journalist and editor at the international business media company RBI, and is now a freelance writer. Wrecker is his first novel. He lived in Brighton with his wife and children.

Connect with Noel:

Website: https://noeloreilly.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/noeloreilly

 

An Artisan Lovestyle by Kiltie Jackson #BlogTour #BookReview (@KiltieJackson) @RaRaResources #Giveaway #AnArtisanLovestyle #FictionCafeWriters

An Artisan Lovestyle Blog Tour

My turn on the blog tour for my fellow Fiction Cafe Writer Kiltie Jackson’s second book, An Artisan Lovestyle, today and I am extremely happy to be taking part. Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and to Kiltie for having me on the tour and for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. There is a great giveaway at the end of the review for you to enter so make sure you read down to the end.

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“Are you ‘living’ your life or just living your life?

Elsa Clairmont was widowed barely five years after marrying her childhood sweetheart. She has struggled to come to terms with the loss and, six years later, has almost ceased to live herself. She does just enough to get by.

Danny Delaney is the ultimate ‘Mr Nice Guy’. He’s kind, caring and sweet. A talented artist in his teens, his abusive mother ruined his career in art and he turned his back on his exceptional gift. Now, he does just enough to get by.

On New Year’s Eve, both Danny and Elsa die in unrelated accidents.

Thanks to some poker playing shenanigans, Elsa’s husband Harry, and Danny’s old Art teacher, William, manage to orchestrate a deal with Death that allows Danny and Elsa to live for one more year on the condition they both agree to complete three tasks.

They have until the last chime of Big Ben on the 31st December to fulfil their quests.

If they succeed, they stay in the world of the living.

If they should fail however…

‘An Artisan Lovestyle’ is a story of personal growth and self-discovery as two people find themselves forced to make overdue changes in their lives, changes in other people’s lives, and all with the added challenge of finding true love before their time runs out.

Will they do it?

Can they do it?

After all, it’s a matter of Life or Death…”

Wow, so this is a bit of a departure from Kiltie’s first novel, A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle, which I enjoyed reading at the end of last year. If you haven’t picked up that book, set in the snowy delights of a wintry Salzburg, I can highly recommend it. The author has taken an unexpected turn in the realms of the supernatural this time with the premise that the two protagonists have been saved from death (small ‘d’) for one year by the machinations of their two deceased saviours and their gambling games with Death (capital ‘D’). a situation they could make permanent if they make some drastic changes to their unsatisfactory lives before next New Year’s Eve. If not, it is curtains permanently.

An outlandish idea but boy does she manage to pull it off with panache. This book is a delight from start to finish and I totally bought in to the story and was rooting for both Danny and Elsa to succeed and carve out the happy futures that were eluding them but they both so heartily deserved.

It took my a while to gel with the main character in the last book, but I did not have the same issue this time. I was invested in the story from the off and warmed to both Danny and Elsa immediately. I think this is testament to how much the author has learnt and matured as an author from her debut. She launches into this story with so much poise and confidence this time that you can’t help but be carried along with it to such an extent that even the supernatural elements flow with a naturalness and normality that you can’t help but but in to. It also helps that there is a huge dose of humour and warmth infused throughout that makes it a joy to read.

There are some wonderful characters in the novel. Death is a delight, if that isn’t an oxymoron, and I was chuckling out loud at every scene he was in. Sukie and Peter from book one return, and I really enjoyed seeing how their lives had moved on. Sukie is a brilliant character, so ballsy and down-to-earth, despite her situation (excuse me for being a little cryptic, I don’t want to include any spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read Kiltie’s first book). I think my favourite scene in the whole book was the one in the library at her birthday party. I get the feeling that there may be a little (or even a lot) or the author in this character and you can tell she enjoys writing her, it shines from the pages.

One of the characters, and I won’t say which one but it is easy to know who I am talking about if you read it, is possibly the most appalling, loathsome person I have ever had the misfortune to meet between the pages of a novel but they are also brilliantly written and great fun – we all love a good villain don’t we? All of the characters in this book are a joy to read. Some of them are very OTT, but in a way that fits in with the book, and they all feel like they could exist (well. maybe not Death but I’d like to imagine he could!). The main two characters, Danny and Elsa, were fabulous people to carry a book, likeable but not nauseatingly so, so it was easy to wish them a happy ending. Elsa in particular had enough edge to make her really interesting and a modern woman, not a swooning drip.

There are a lot of relevant themes running through this book. Loss and coming to terms with that; lost chances and it never being too late to do those things you always wished you had; finding out who you really are and working to become the best and truest version of yourself; never giving up hope and grabbing those chances when they come along with both hands because life is short. It gives you  a surprising amount to think about for a book in this genre and it left me at the end with a lump in my throat and a very satisfied feeling.

Forget that difficult second book conundrum, this is a assured and successful follow up, even better than the first. Any doubts, struggles and tussles are not evident in the finished product. This is a great book. You feckin’ nailed it, Kiltie, and I’m really, really pleased for you.

An Artisan Lovestyle is out now and you can buy a copy here. The first book in the Lovestyle series, A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle, is available here.

If you would like to read more reviews of the book, you can follow the blog tour below:

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Giveaway

To enter the giveaway to win a £40/$40 Amazing gift voucher, please click on the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494104/?

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide 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

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Kiltie grew up in Glasgow in Scotland. This is a very unique city with a very unique way of looking at life.

When she was old enough to do so, she moved to London and then,
after several years of obtaining interesting experiences -which are
finding their way into her writing – she moved up to the Midlands.

Kiltie currently lives in Staffordshire with five cats and one grumpy husband.
Her little home is known as Moggy Towers, even though despite having
plenty of moggies, there are no towers!

The cats kindly allow her and Mr Mogs to share their house on the
condition they keep paying the mortgage!

She loves reading, watching movies, and visiting old castles.
She really dislikes going to the gym!

Her biggest desire is that one day she can give up the day job
and write her stories for a living.

Kiltie’s debut novel, ‘A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle’, was released in September 2017 and won a “Chill With A Book – Reader Award” in December 2017.

She first began writing her debut novel eleven years before it was released but shelved
it as she didn’t think it was very good.

In November 2016 when, having read more on a best-selling author who had begun
her own career as a self-published author, she was inspired to revisit the unfinished manuscript and finally finish what she had started.

Since beginning to write again, the ideas have not stopped flowing.
‘An Artisan Lovestyle’ is the second book in the Lovestyle Series.

Work is due to begin on book three (not yet titled but also part of the Lovestyle Series)
in the Summer of 2018.

She currently has a further ten plots and ideas stored in her file (it’s costing a
fortune in USB drives as each story has its own memory stick!) and
the ideas still keep on coming.

Kiltie now lives her life around the following three quotes:
“I love having weird dreams, they’re great fodder for book plots!”
“Why wait for your ship to come in when you can swim out to meet it?”
“Old enough to know better, young enough not to care!”

Connect with Kiltie:

Website: http://www.kiltiejackson.com

Facebook: Kiltie Jackson

Twitter: @KiltieJackson

Instagram: @kiltiejackson

Goodreads: Kiltie Jackson

 

 

Summer at The Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green #BlogTour #BookReview (@Rosie_Green1988) @RaRaResources #LittleDuckPondCafe

Summer at the Little Duck Pond Cafe Blog Tour

Delighted to be on the blog tour today for the second book in Rosie Green’s trilogy of books sent in Sunnybrook, Summer at The Little Duck Pond Cafe. You can find my review of the first book, Spring at The Little Duck Pond Cafe here. Thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and to Rosie for accepting me on to the tour and for my copy of the book.

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“Jaz Winters stuck a pin in a map and fled to the village of Sunnybrook, looking for a brand new life – and after a rocky start, it’s beginning to look as if she made the right decision. Her blossoming friendship with Ellie and Fen has seen her through some dark times, and she’s managed to land two jobs – waitress at The Little Duck Pond Café and working as a weekend tour guide at Brambleberry Manor, the country house that’s been in Fen’s family for generations.

Sure, life isn’t totally perfect. There’s the irritating know-it-all guy who keeps popping up on her manor tours, for a start. He seems determined to get under Jaz’s skin whether she likes it or not. But she supposes it’s a small price to pay for the relative peace she’s found, living in Sunnybrook.

But just as Jaz is beginning to think rosier times are on the horizon, a shock encounter looks set to shatter her fragile happiness.

Will she be forced to flee from Sunnybrook and everyone she’s grown so fond of? Or will she find the strength to stand her ground and finally face up to the nightmares of the past?”

We’re back in Sunnybrook today for the second part of Rosie Green’s trilogy set in the village, and the focus has moved on to Jaz Winters as the central character of this book. If you have read part one, you will remember Jaz as the slightly prickly girl who ran the local Zumba class, and she wasn’t one of my favourite characters in the first book so I was intrigued to see how the author was going to persuade me to warm to her enough for her to carry the success of book two on her shoulders.

Well, she managed it by taking us back to the beginning of Jaz’s story and a terrible event that befalls her in Christmas Eve. I don’t want to give away any of the plot but I was rendered speechless by the way in which she was treated by someone very close to her, and from that point on I was firmly on her side and very willing to overlook her sometimes defensive behaviour as completely understandable in the circumstances.

Again, Rosie has managed to cram a lot of action into a compact novella and I warmed to this one even more than the first. This may be partly due to some familiar characters making a welcome reappearance, namely Ellie and Fen from book one, who have become firm friends with Jaz now, despite the fact they know she is holding back from them. There were a number of new characters to enjoy as well, my favourite being Fen’s mother, the formidable Lady Redpath, who I firmly believe I would turn into if I were given a stately home to run. I absolutely loved her and had such a clear mental picture of her – I could actually hear her voice in my head when she was speaking (rather booming, if you’d like to know!)

I particularly enjoyed the scenes set in Brambleberry Manor and again without giving anything away, if you are a fan of Jane Austen you will enjoy this book and the author’s homage to the great lady. There are some real laugh out loud moments in this book, as well as some very serious ones – it was a good balance that took my emotions on an appealing ride and kept me interested until the end.

There is also another hunky love interest to swoon over, although I found him less compelling as a leading man than Zak in book one. However, I personally felt the romance was more of a secondary issue in this book, rather than being the central theme. For me, what stood out was the exploration of family relationships, and whether blood really matters when it comes to forming strong bonds, the importance of friendship and finding where you really belong. On these points, it packed a big punch for a short book and was another winner. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens in book three (I have my fingers crossed for Fen!)

Summer at The Little Duck Pond Cafe is out now and you can buy a copy here. The final part of the trilogy, Christmas at The Little Duck Pond Cafe will be released on 3 September and you can pre-order it here.

Follow the rest of the blog tour below:

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About the Author

Rosie Green has been scribbling stories ever since she was little. Back then they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’. Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all, unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred on life in a village café. Summer at The Little Duck Pond Café, published on 18th June 2018, follows the first in the series, Spring at The Little Duck Pond Café.

Connect with Rosie:

Twitter: @rosie_green1988

The Guilt of A Sparrow by Jess B. Moore #BlogTour #BookReview (@authorjessb) @crookedcatbooks @RaRaResources #TheGuiltOfASparrow

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Today on the blog I am hosting a stop on the blog tour for The Guilt of A Sparrow, the debut novel by Jess B. Moore. A big thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for having me on the tour and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book.

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“Magnolia Porter has spent the entirety of her twenty-four years satisfying her mother’s guilt. She was the good girl to her trouble making brother, Lucian – the one left behind to hold her mother together after he died. She is an invisible girl in a small town carrying the burden of her family’s loss and pain. Maggie was nobody trying desperately to be somebody.  

Cotton MacKenna is the one with the temper. Of the five MacKenna boys, he’s the one most likely to throw the first punch. Never mind all those fights were a decade ago, all in an attempt to save a sweet girl from her bullying older brother. Now, Cotton has grown up, with his own photography business, yet as the fourth in the line of MacKennas, he would only ever be known for his past. Time for a change.  

Maggie and Cotton are more than the labels placed on them, put there by their families, the town, and themselves.  

A meddling best friend. Bluegrass jams. Small town gossiping. Love, loss, and family ties. Learning how to be who you are outside of who you were told to be. With humor and plenty of romance, of course.”

Oh, this book is just beautiful. I am so surprised by how much I have fallen in love with it, as it was one that wasn’t high on my radar amongst the books I have signed up to read this month. Outshone on the shelf by some more highly-hyped books and authors, it has secretly and stealthy snuck up and stolen my heart piece by piece as I turned the pages.

This is the story of Magnolia and Cotton, two lonely and over-looked, misunderstood people in a small, remote town in the mountains of North Carolina. Family and community pressures have placed them both in positions that they are fighting to escape, and finding each other might just help them do that, if they can let go of all that is holding them back.

This is a book entirely driven by character. Told in alternating viewpoints between Magnolia and Cotton, everything is filtered through their individual perspectives and it is joyous. The writing gets us deep under their skins, into their psyches and we are able to feel every tiny emotion they are feeling. The author does the most amazing job of bringing these two troubled people to life and making the reader experience every nuance of emotion they are going through. I haven’t read a book recently in which I have been so closely aligned with a character’s emotions, and the fact that she manages to do it with both of them is astounding. I was desperate for things to work out for them both, tense when it looked like it was going wrong, feeling the highs and lows along with each of them. I was riding the rollercoaster of emotions so completely with them that I felt these things were happening to me.

Indeed, some of these things have happened to me. Jess has managed to capture those feelings of falling intensely in love with someone so accurately that it immediately took me back to those times when I have felt this myself, and that nostalgia was a bittersweet feeling that carried me all the way through with the characters. I remembered being Magnolia, all those sensations she was having I relived and I think this was the main reason I loved this book so much. It felt real. It felt like something that had actually happened, rather than just a story. I was totally immersed in it and carried along with it. I felt like it might be my heart that was broken if things didn’t work out the way I so fervently hoped they would.

Because the book is so intimately involved with the emotions of two characters and so closely written from their perspectives, this is not going to appeal to anyone who is looking for a lot of action in a book. It is a gentle tale set in a small town where nothing huge happens. There are no grand external dramas or events, no major crises that force things to happen. If you looked it from the outside, you wouldn’t see anything extraordinary happening, because all the drama is on the inside of these two people. I revelled in this but it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.

The challenges the characters are facing are those arising from living up to family expectations. From having to try and break out of unhealthy patterns of behaviour and relationships that are holding us back and stopping us being happy in the way we know we deserve. Of facing and defying the opinions and censure of a small town where we have been labelled with traits that are no longer who we are. Of finding the courage to stand up and be who we are truly meant to be, to go after what we want, in the face of opposition. These ARE the big issues of life, the dramas that we are all facing on a daily basis and it is refreshing to see a book that focuses on these as enough of a plot in themselves to eschew throwing in external conflict for the sake of spicing things up. This book is proof that it is not necessary to rely on such props if the writing is good and true.

This was an unexpected treat that I know I will return to again and I am going to buy myself a paperback copy to enjoy in the future.

The Guilt of the Sparrow is out now and you can get a copy here.

If you would like to see what my fellow bloggers make of the book, you find details of the other stops on the tour below:

The Guilt of a Sparrow Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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Jess B Moore is a writer of love stories.  When she’s not writing, she’s busy mothering her talented and stubborn children, reading obscene numbers of books, and knitting scarves she’ll likely never finish.

Jess lives in small town North Carolina with her bluegrass obsessed family.  She takes too many pictures of her cat, thinking the Internet loves him as much as she does.  She is a firm believer of swapping stories over coffee or wine, and that there should always be dark chocolate involved.

The Guilt of a Sparrow is her debut novel combining her interests in family, music, and small towns into a thoughtful tale of growing up and falling in love.  Her second book, Fierce Grace, follows similar themes in a whole new way, and will be available later in 2018.

Connect with Jess:

Website: https://jessbmoore.com

Facebook: Jess B. Moore

Twitter: @authorjessb

Instagram: @authorjessb

Goodreads: Jess B. Moore

Spring at The Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green #BookReview (@Rosie_Green1988) #LittleDuckPondCafe

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“Fleeing from a romance gone wrong, Ellie Farmer arrives in the pretty little village of Sunnybrook, hoping for a brand new start that most definitely does not include love! Following an unscheduled soak in the village duck pond, she meets Sylvia, who runs the nearby Duck Pond Café. Renting the little flat above the café seems like the answer to Ellie’s prayers. It’s only for six months, which will give her time to sort out her life, far away from cheating boyfriend Richard.

But is running away from your past ever really the answer?

Clashing with the mysterious and brooding Zack Chamberlain, an author with a bad case of writer’s block, is definitely not what Ellie needs right now. And then there’s Sylvia, who’s clinging so hard to her past, she’s in danger of losing the quaint but run-down Duck Pond Café altogether.

Can Ellie find the answers she desperately needs in Sunnybrook? And will she be able to help save Sylvia’s little Duck Pond Café from closure?”

I knew I was going to enjoy this cute little novella as soon as the author started talking about knickers when we had got no further than the beginning of Chapter Two. I can easily get on board with a writer who isn’t afraid to shoehorn wet undies into a book early on for the sake of laughs!

Humour was one of the strongest thread running through this story, along with romance and friendship, so it was an easy book to take to quickly. You are going to get exactly what you expect from the cover – a sweet, happy story set in a cute village with added ducks. What’s not to like? What you will also be getting are some real family issues, well-formed characters and a healthy dose of the warm fuzzies, so this is the perfect read when you are wanting a mood-lifting book. It’s also short so you can get your happiness hit quickly if you are pushed for time.

Because it is only a short novella, a lot happens very quickly so there isn’t much time for the reader to draw breath or for the characters to spend navel-gazing. Problems arise and get resolved very quickly out of necessity and you might find that you are questioning whether things can honestly happen that quickly in real life – fast friendships and romances formed, heartbreak forgotten and new jobs and homes found. Don’t bother, of course they can’t, but who cares? This isn’t real life, it’s pure escapism and all the better for it. That is exactly what you are looking for in this type of book.

This is a speedy and satisfying read for an idle ninety minutes when you are looking for an undemanding distraction. It’s a little ray of sunshine on your Kindle, with enough going on to be satisfying. I’m looking forward to reading the next one.

Spring at The Little Duck Pond Cafe is out now and you can buy a copy here. I will be reviewing Summer at The Little Duck Pond Cafe on the blog on Saturday as part of Rosie’s blog tour so check back then!

About the Author

Rosie Green has been scribbling stories ever since she was little. Back then they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’. Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all, unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred on life in a village café. Summer at The Little Duck Pond Café, published on 18th June 2018, follows the first in the series, Spring at The Little Duck Pond Café.

Connect with Rosie:

Twitter: @rosie_green1988