Top Ten Books of 2018 (@TaylorHelen_M @Jo_Furniss @patrickkincaid @cmccrudden @OneNightStanzas @rebeccamascull @authorjessb @antti_tuomainen @ItsEmmaCooper)

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So, I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon and do a list of my Top 10 books of the year. Like every other blogger, I have found this a really difficult task as I have read over 150 books this year and so many of them have been amazing. However, I have been ruthless and narrowed it down to the ten that have stood out for me for a variety of reasons.

These have been the ones that have made me laugh, made me cry, made me think, made me feel, inspired me or have felt very innovative, sometimes all at the same time.

I am sure my choices will be very different to anyone else’s, but that is the joy of reading – there is something for everyone and every mood.

My thanks to all of the authors whose fabulous books I have enjoyed this year, not just those on this list, and I look forward to enjoying more times with you next year.

10. The Backstreets of Purgatory by Helen Taylor

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9. The Music of the Deep by Elizabeth Hall

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8. All The Little Children by Jo Furniss

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7. The Continuity Girl by Patrick Kincaid

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6. Battlestar Suburbia by Chris McCrudden

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5. All The Hidden Truths by Claire Askew

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4. Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye with Rebecca Mascull

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3. The Guilt of the Sparrow by Jess B. Moore

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2. Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen

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1. The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper

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So there we go, my Top 10 books or the year. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my list. Have you read and enjoyed any of my top 10? will you be adding any to your TBR for 2019? Do you have a list of your own? Let me have you thoughts.

Now, a few weeks ago I promised that, if I reached 2,000 followers by the end of the year, I would give away copies of my top 5 books from this list to one of my followers. My stats now stand at 2,038 followers, so my thanks to all of you for helping me reach this goal, I am absolutely overwhelmed. The winner of the books, drawn at random, is Louise Heather. Congratulations, Louise, I have emailed you about your prize.

Thank you all for following my blog this year, may I just wish you all a Happy New Year and I will see you in 2019.

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The Kindness of Strangers by Julie Newman: Urbane Extravaganza #Extract (@julesmnewman) @urbanebooks #LoveBooksGroupTours

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Today I am delighted to be taking my turn on the Urbane Extravaganza where, between 24 November and 31 December, a host of bloggers will be showcasing a different Urbane publication each day. My thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group tours for asking me to take part in this great celebration.

I have drawn The Kindness of Strangers bu Julie Newman, so let’s take a look at the book and the extract that I have kindly been invited to publish for you.

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Widow Helen is desperate for a perfect family life, and will do everything she can to get what she wants.

A veteran of the Afghanistan conflict Martin is adrift and seemingly without hope – can he ever win back his estranged family?

Pregnant teenager Charley is striking out on her own to create a new life for her unborn child, but her mother Lizzie has other ideas.

When three seemingly disparate lives connect, the past and the present collide to reveal secrets, lies and how far people are willing to go to hide the truth.

Following the gripping and controversial Beware the Cuckoo, Julie Newman’s thrilling new novel lifts the lid on the dark past that haunts a seemingly happy household.

I just love the cover of this book, don’t you? Here is the extract, as promised, to whet your appetite.

“Helen
A SLIVER OF SUNLIGHT forces its way through the tiny gap between the blind and the window frame; it’s enough to tell me that night has given way to day.
I stretch and realise I’m precariously close to the edge of the bed. I roll over and move towards the centre of the bed reaching out with my arm, searching for him, for his touch and his warmth. The coldness stills me. I allow my eyes to focus properly, and the outline of his pillow greets me. It is smooth and free of indentation suggesting no head has lain upon it. I sit up and stare at the space where he should be, wondering where he is and worrying that he is okay. Then it descends, the gloom and the anguish, for now I remember…
One
I DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START. I’ve never felt so daunted by a task, ever. Which is quite ridiculous as it is a relatively simple task, not one that requires any particular skill; and yet it challenges me. I’ve brokered million-pound deals, chaired more meetings than I care to remember and managed teams of people. Yet I can’t seem to do this one simple thing.
As I stand in the doorway of his dressing room I am immobilised; I feel like I’m standing on the high board at a swimming pool, not only afraid to jump but unsure if I can swim when I hit the water. And I feel like a trespasser. This was his space, as my dressing room was mine; is mine, for I’m still here. Not that we weren’t allowed into one another’s rooms, of course we were, but rarely was there a need. Yes, I know, his and her dressing rooms sounds rather grand and over-indulgent, but to be honest it suited our lifestyle. It was a necessary convenience. A convenience that allowed us to have our own space and time, either to get ready for whatever the day held or to unwind at the end of the day. There were many occasions when one of us had a function to attend or a late night at the office. I recall reading somewhere that it’s quite common for couples to argue before going out as they often get in each other’s way while getting ready – and let’s be honest, men can leave bathrooms in a complete state of disarray. Therefore these additional rooms probably prevented many cross words or heated exchanges. Robert’s mother couldn’t understand why we didn’t just use one of the guest rooms if either of us were late home. She thought the dressing rooms an unnecessary extravagance; but then she thought that of most things we had or did, unless it involved her of course. She was happy enough to accompany us on luxury holidays, and she didn’t refuse when we paid for her new kitchen. What she didn’t understand was that despite having these rooms we still liked to spend the night together; we rarely spent a night apart. There was the odd overseas business trip, but whenever possible we would accompany each other on those trips. In fact, I can count on one hand the nights we’ve spent apart. Well I could, before …
We bought this house over twenty-five years ago. It was a house we would often drive past and admire, both saying we’d like to have something similar one day; although at the time that notion was just fanciful daydreaming. Over time the house began to look a little shabby and uncared for, eventually becoming rundown and derelict. Such a shame we thought; we hoped someone would come along with time and money to restore it to its former glory. Never daring to think it might be us who would take on that mantle.
It was 1992 and we were in a taxi on our way home, following a very boozy evening. We’d been out celebrating Robert’s bonus – which was unexpected and an extraordinary amount – when we passed this house. There was a sign outside saying it was for sale at auction. Robert got the taxi driver to stop and we both got out of the car.
What do you reckon?” Robert asked. I looked at him and shrugged, thinking he was asking me how much I thought it was worth. “It might need work, but with my bonus, well I think we could do it.
“Do what?” I asked a little densely, for I was feeling the effects of my alcohol intake in the cold night air.
“Buy it.”
“Really?”
“Yes, really. We’ve always loved this house and as you keep telling me, we have outgrown the flat.”
“That’s true, but I’m not s–”
“Meter’s running pal and I do have another job to get to,” interrupted the taxi driver.
We got back into the car and headed home, but I could tell Robert wanted this. It wasn’t just an alcohol fuelled fantasy, this was a long-held dream that now seemed attainable. For him, it felt like the stars had aligned and it was the right thing to do. He was convinced it was what his bonus was meant for. So we bought it. It was two years before we moved in though, two long years. It needed a lot of attention: wiring, plumbing, structural reinforcement. And none of these things were cheap. We seemed to be writing endless cheques, and to me the house didn’t look any different from the day we first picked up the keys for it.
“That’s because all these improvements are unseen,” said Robert, “but they’re essential. I know you just want to get on with the business of decorating and furnishing and you will, soon. Then you‘ll see the difference.” He was right, as he so often was.
The house is magnificent, it oozes charm and character. It has a large entrance hall with a wonderful sweeping staircase in the centre. The original stairs were removed as they were rotten; I wanted the staircase to be a strong feature, make a statement, which it now does. Up the stairs and to the right are two guest bedrooms and a bathroom, and to the left is our bedroom and the dressing rooms. When we first moved in we didn’t have his and her dressing rooms. There were three bedrooms, one fair sized, one and two smaller ones; we knocked down walls and created a master bedroom with an en-suite bathroom and just one dressing room, a dressing room that in time would become the nursery. Well, that was the plan, but as time went on we realised that it probably wasn’t the best use of the space. I think it was me who first suggested each of us having our own dressing rooms with bathrooms. I love a bath, laying in the water, relaxing, allowing the cares of the day to float free from you. And back then was no different, I liked nothing more than an uninterrupted soak. Increasingly I’d been using the bathroom across the landing. Self- indulgent, uninterrupted me time; time for solitude, during which to reflect and contemplate without Robert’s analytical input. He liked to talk, find a solution or reason for every problem or situation, but sometimes there is no reason. Sometimes things just are. So we had our own dressing rooms and very soon we forgot that the room was ever meant for anything else.
I step across the threshold and into the room, still keeping hold of the door jamb, steadying myself. This feels wrong. I would never come in here without him being here, but I have to do this, it’s time. Tentatively I take another step. I decide to start with the wardrobe. I slide open the door; it’s very ordered, shirts together, trousers together, etc. and all arranged by colour. Many of his clothes are still draped in the plastic covers that the dry-cleaners put on. I begin with the shirts and they are as good as new; all sharply ironed and neatly hanging in regimented rows. It seems a shame to remove them from the hangers, so I don’t. I lay them on the bed as I sort through them. It seems he liked blue, almost all of his shirts are blue: blue stripes, blue checks, plain blue.
I hadn’t noticed this before. If anyone had ever asked me what colour he likes to wear I would have said … actually what would I have said? I don’t know, I don’t know what he liked anymore. Why don’t I know? Did I ever know? Clearly it was blue as that is the over-whelming colour of his wardrobe, but I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think blue was his favourite colour at all. As I struggle to recall this one thing which I feel I should know, my eyes moisten. I didn’t think it would be this hard. I coped just fine with the legalities and financial issues that had to be dealt with, but this is different. It could be because these are his personal things, maybe that’s the difference; clothes he wore, books he read, music he played, the things he touched and that touched him. I have to do this. If I can just sort out his clothes today; that would be something. I dab my eyes with a tissue and continue removing things from his wardrobe. When it’s empty I look at the mountain of clothes on the bed. Nothing has made the throwaway pile, it’s all too good, but as I have no-one to give them to I’ll take it all to the charity shop – tomorrow, I’ll do that tomorrow.”

If you have enjoyed this extract from The Kindness of Strangers and would like to read the rest of the book, you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Julie was born in East London but now lives a rural life in North Essex. She is married with two children. Her working life has seen her have a variety of jobs, including running her own publishing company. She is the author of the children’s book Poppy and the Garden Monster.

Julie writes endlessly and when not writing she is reading. Other interests include theatre, music and running. Besides her family, the only thing she loves more than books is Bruce Springsteen…

Connect with Julie:

Website: https://julienewmanauthor.com

Twitter: @julesmnewman

 

If you would like to check out the other posts in the Urbane Extravaganza, here are the tour stops:

24th Nov Chat About Books @chataboutbooks1
25th Nov Over The Rainbow Book Blog @JoannaLouisePar
26th Nov Being Anne @Williams13Anne
27th Nov On The Shelf Bookblog @OnTheShelfBooks
28th Nov Nicki’s Book Blog @nickijmurphy1
29th Nov My Reading Corner @karendennise
30th Nov Portable Magic @bantambookworm
1st Dec Black books blog @SimonJLeonard
2nd Dec Rae Reads @rae_reads1
3rd Dec So Many Books, So Little Time @smbslt
4th Dec Orchard Book Club @OrchardBookClub
5th Dec Zooloo’s Book Diary Zooloo2008
6th Dec Nemesis Book Blog @NemesisBlogs
7th Dec Katie’s Book Cave @katiejones88
8th Dec Books and Me @bookkaz
9th Dec Tangents and Tissues @tangentsbb
10th Dec Go Buy the Book @karen55555
11th Dec Cheekypee reads and reviews @cheekypee27
12th Dec Nicki`s Life Of Crime @NickiRichards7
13th Dec Emma the Little Bookworm @EmmaMitchellFPR
14th Dec Rather Too Fond of Books @hayleysbookblog
15th Dec Seansbookreviews @Seant1977
16th Dec Lizzums Lives Life @LizzumsBB
17th Dec The Magic Of Wor(l)ds @MagicOfWorldsBE
18th Dec On The Shelf Reviews @ljwrites85
19th Dec Grab This Book @grabthisbook
20th Dec Life Of A Nerdish Mum @NerdishMum
21st Dec The Quiet Geordie @thequietgeordie
22nd Dec eBook Addicts @ebookadditsuk
23rd Dec On The Shelf Reviews @ljwrites85
24th Dec Varietats @Sweeet83
25th Dec eBook Addicts @ebookadditsuk
26th Dec Portable Magic @bantambookworm
27th Dec Love Books Group @LoveBooksGroup
28th Dec A Little Book Problem @book_problem
29th Dec It’s all about the books @DeeCee334
30th Dec The Quiet Geordie @thequietgeordie
31st Dec Zooloo’s Book Diary @Zooloo2008

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

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A geriatric coming-of-age story …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staying On Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

C M Taylor

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

Connect with the author:

Twitter: @CMTaylorStory

Instagram: @cmtaylor

Goodreads: C. M. Taylor

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

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

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

Forget Her Name by Jane Holland

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

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

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

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

Is Rachel still alive?

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

The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech

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Be careful what you wish for…

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

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

A Pinch of Magic by Michelle Harrison

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Three sisters trapped by an ancient curse.

Three magical objects with the power to change their fate.

Will they be enough to break the curse?

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

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

A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before I let you go

About the Author

Kelly Rimmer Author Picture

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

Connect with Kelly:

Website: https://kellyrimmer.com

Facebook: Kelly M Rimmer

Twitter: @KelRimmerWrites

Instagram: @kelrimmerwrites

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

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

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

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

Then reality TV comes knocking next door.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video Killed banner

About the Author

Author Picture- Duncan MacMaster

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

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

Connect with Duncan:

Twitter: @FuriousDShow

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

Joseph Barnaby

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

josephbarnaby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giveaway

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

2nd prize – 2 x signed paperbacks of Joseph Barnaby

3rd prize – 2 x ebooks of Joseph Barnaby

To enter, click on the Rafflecopter link below:

Rafflecopter

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

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

Joseph Barnaby Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Susan:

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

Facebook: Susan Roebuck Author

Twitter: @sueroebuck