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

The Bespokist Society Guide to…London

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

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“sparse… some glaring omissions” FoodPorn London

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bespokist Society Guide to…London Full Tour Banner

About the Author

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

Website: https://www.bespokistsociety.com

Twitter: @TheBespokist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Backstreets of Purgatory Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

Helen Taylor

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

Connect with Helen:

Website: https://helenmtaylor.com

Twitter: @TaylorHelen_M

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Confessions of a First Time Mum by Poppy Dolan #BookReview (@PoppyDwriter) @canelo_co #ConfessionsOfAFirstTimeMum #NetGalley

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“Stevie’s life has changed beyond recognition since having her first baby. Stevie loves being a mum, but between the isolation and being vomited on five times a day, she really wishes she had someone to talk to.

With husband Ted working hard to keep the family afloat, Stevie really doesn’t want to burden him with her feelings. Turning to the internet, Stevie starts the anonymous First-Time Mum blog and blasts the rose-tinted glasses of parenthood right off her readers.

In the real world, Stevie meets the formidable Nelle and gorgeous Will, along with their own little treasures, and starts to realise that being a ‘perfect mum’ isn’t everything. But when the secret blog goes viral, Stevie must make some tough choices about who she wants to be, and whether she’s ready for the world to know the truth…”

This book is going to ring very loud, funny and sometimes cringe-inducing bells for any woman who has ever had a baby.

My eldest daughter is thirteen and my youngest is now ten, so it has been a while since I was a new mum, but the memories of those early days are still clear and it seems not much has changed in the intervening years if this book is anything to go by. So many of the events in this book brought back those days and made me laugh out loud, especially the ‘poo-splosion’ incident. On my very first trip out of the house after my first daughter was born, when she was about a week old, I experienced one of these in the Mamas and Papas at Birstall Retail Park and I was ill-equipped to deal with public excretions of that magnitude, given my rookie status. We still talk about it – my daughter had a mass of curly hair when she was born that was very absorbent…

I recognised myself in the heroine (which is definitely the word for every mum there ever was) of this book, Stevie, fumbling her way blindly through the mystery that is parenthood when you first take your very first baby home. I remember so well those feelings of ineptitude, loneliness and failure, because you are now in charge of a whole person that you don’t yet know, don’t understand and who doesn’t come with an instruction manual. It can be a scary time. Stevie tries to manage some of these feelings and frustrations, particularly in the small, dark hours of the night when you feel like you are the only soul on earth awake and worries are magnified a thousand-fold in the silence, by expressing her feelings on a blog that she believes no one else is reading. However, she soon finds out that nothing is ever private in cyberspace and she is perhaps not alone after all.

Mummy bloggers weren’t a thing when my children were babies, but the rise of parenting blogs is a phenomenon that has not passed me by in recent years and this book does a lovely job of exploring the highs and potential lows of baring your soul, warts and all, to the world. I really felt for Stevie – her struggles are the struggles of all new mums but exacerbated by the fact that she is sharing them with the world and loses control of who is privy to those humiliating moments and thoughts and what their reaction to them will be. A cautionary tale for all bloggers perhaps, but it also brings friendship and support – something I can definitely relate to as a member of the ever friendly and supportive book blogging community.

This is a great fun read, studded with nuggets of painful truth about parenthood and I really enjoyed it.

Confessions of a First Time Mum is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to NetGalley and Canelo for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

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Poppy Dolan is in her mid thirties and lives in Berkshire with her husband. She’s a near-obsessive baker and a keen crafter, so on a typical weekend can be found moving between the haberdashery and kitchenware floors of a department store, adding to her birthday wish list. She has written four previous novels: The Bad Boyfriends Bootcamp, There’s More to Life than Cupcakes, The Bluebell Bunting Society and most recently The Woolly Hat Knitting Club.

Connect with Poppy:

Website: http://poppydolan.com

Facebook: Poppy Dolan

Twitter: @poppydwriter

Instagram: #poppydolan

Goodreads: Poppy Dolan

Disco Sour by Giuseppe Porcaro #BlogTour #BookReview (@porcarorama) @unbounders @annecater #DiscoSour #RandomThings Tours

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“A politician addicted to dating apps embarks on an existential odyssey to save democracy from being swiped away.

In the aftermath of a continental civil-war, nation-states have collapsed, the European Union™ holds on, preventing anarchy. 
Bastian Balthazar Bux is a leading member of The Federation®, the European network of civil society and local governments. Bastian has just been unexpectedly dumped through an app, the BreakupShop™ service. Heavy hearted, he just wants to drink, get on with work and forget his romantic woes. 

However, he discovers that Nathan Ziggy Zukowsky is planning to sell Plebiscitum®, a dating-style app that is meant to replace elections with a simple swipe, at the same conference he is invited to attend in Chile. Haunted by the ghosts of his recent relationship, he finds himself without his all-important Morph® phone, just a few hours before embarking on his trip to try to save democracy. 

Will he make it to his conference on the other side of the world? Will he stop Zukowsky from selling his app? And will he ever find a way to deal with his breakup?”

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Disco Sour by Giuseppe Porcaro. A big thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for allowing me to take part in the tour for this unique book.

One of the aims I had when I started volunteering for blog tours was to find new genres and books that I would not normally choose in a book store and to push my reading out of its comfort zone, to stretch my literary horizons. This book marks the zenith of that goal so far.

We are dropped into a dystopian future, around one thousand years from now, as seen through the eyes of the main protagonist, Bastian Balthazar Bux. There has been a civil war in Europe which has destroyed the previous political delineations and the new zones are struggling to set up a different type of society. Balthazar is head of a European organisation that is trying to establish its influence in the new world order and he must travel from Eastern Europe across the globe to a conference in Chile, where he will launch an initiative to cement his organisation’s place in the international arena, and prevent the adoption of a political system run entirely by technology that he fears will effectively destroy democracy. Are you with me so far?

Despite the importance of this mission, Balthazar is side-tracked by his love life. He has just been dumped by an app which effectively wipes all your relationship history and contact with your former partner – the ultimate form of ‘ghosting’ – and this leads him to reflect on his previous relationship with Janine. Throw in the journey from hell where he keeps missing flights, has no sleep, and the fact that he has lost his phone, which is an even more tragic event in a world entirely beholden to technology, and Balthazar is having a hellish time.

This book is rich soup of events, memories, flashbacks, virtual conversations, dreams and hallucinations that had my head spinning and trying to figure out which parts were real and which were delusions, which was the authors clever way of reflecting the increasingly disoriented state that Balthazar finds himself in during his nightmare trip. I have never done drugs and this book is about as close as I imagine I am going to get to tripping.

One of the main themes of the book is the increasing reliance on technology and how far we should let it take over our lives, the dangers of becoming dependent on it for everything to the point where there is no longer such a thing as free will. This has been explored in books and films before but, despite the feeling on general unreality in the narration of this book, its predictions feel all too scarily possible. This coupled with the background of a disintegration of Europe and how the resultant power struggle might play out brings the story uncomfortably close to home in the current political climate we find ourselves in. Whilst reading the book, I had the same sense of unease I felt when first reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the feeling that the dystopian future portrayed in the book was not beyond the realms of possibility.

The main difference between this and many other dystopian books is the strong thread of humour running through the novel. You could boil this book down to being a story of misadventure in travel (if you ignored all the surrounding political themes) and we all know how funny stories of travel mishaps can be. The dating disasters were also relatable and amusing, and the humour lifts the whole book to a lightness that makes reading about some serious and thought-provoking topics easier. The sugar encasing the pill.

This book isn’t going to be for everyone. It has a style and subject matter outside the mainstream which I think a lot of people will shy away from. There are elements that make it tricky to read (the constant inclusion of trademark and copyright symbols in the text is distracting and seems odd and unnecessary to begin with, disrupting the reading flow, which annoyed me until I got to the explanation for it a third of the way through). However, it is a book that pays off for anyone willing to put in the effort and it addresses a lot of topical and relevant issues for today and tomorrow.

Disco Sour is out now in both paperback and digital format and you can buy a copy here.

If you would like to follow the tour and get a different take on the book, here are the details:

Disco Sour Blog Tour Poster

About the Author

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As a political geographer, Giuseppe has always been interested in how the intersection between technology and politics is moving towards uncharted territories in the future. He has recently published a series of scientific articles about how the internet of things and algorithms will change policymaking. DISCO SOUR is his first experiment with fiction. it has been inspired by a mission to Chile he had in 2013. Back then, he was Secretary General of the European Youth Forum, the platform of youth organisations advocating for youth rights. And on his way to Santiago, he missed three connecting flights across two continents within the span of 72 hours.

Giuseppe works now as the head of communications for Bruegel, an international think tank specialised in economic policy. During the rest of the time, he DJs, reads, dreams, writes.

Connect with Giuseppe and Disco Sour:

Website: http://discosour.net

Facebook: Disco Sour

Twitter: @porcarorama

Instagram: @porcarorama

Goodreads: Giuseppe Porcaro

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The Bakery at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke #BookReview (@karenclarke123) @bookouture #TheBakeryAtSeashellCove #NetGalley

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“A warm welcome and delicious chocolate gateau are always on the menu at the Bakery at Seashell Cove – and this summer, romance is in the air…

Meg Larson thought she had everything she wanted: she works in the local bakery, she’s months away from marrying her high-school sweetheart, and home is beautiful, sunny Seashell Cove, where the sky is blue, the sea is turquoise and the sand is golden.

Except that the bakery is up for sale and her fiancé Sam’s more interested in bikes than their relationship. When Meg receives shocking news about her family, he’s on a cycling tour and ignoring her calls – and posting selfies on Facebook with a female cyclist he looks far too cosy with…

Luckily the bakery’s estate agent, Nathan, is understanding and funny, and as the summer goes on an unexpected friendship blossoms. When the bakery is given a second lease of life under a mysterious new owner, Meg realises a change might be exactly what she needs too.

Will Meg find the happy-ever-after she dreams of in Seashell Cove?”

This is my first book by this author although I have been meaning to read one of her books for a while as the covers are so alluring, don’t you think? This one perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the book which is a deliciously sweet, summery read.

I love the character os Meg, she is so warm and friendly but slightly hapless and I was rooting for her to get everything she wanted, which is mainly to run The Old Bakery at Seashell Cove – closed since its elderly owner died – which is now up for sale. This is more than Meg’s self-obsessed fiancé, Nathan, wants. He is too wrapped up in his obsession with cycling and being babied by his mother to take much interest in what Meg wants.

Meg is given an amazing opportunity to boost the bakery’s profile when she appears on TV. I really enjoyed this segment of the book, it was terribly funny and a great way to set up other aspects of the story.

The book has twists and turns in the way of Meg’s complicated family and a little whodunnit which keeps us guessing until the end. This is all done in a gentle, amusing way but it keeps the book rolling along nicely.

Meg’s future mother-in-law is a complete horror from who I would have run screaming a lot sooner than Meg did but she provides some great comic moments. There are a lot of fun characters in this book, include a bitchy sister, friendly baker and Meg has a couple of fabulous friends who obviously have their own stories.

The whole thing is an undemanding, easy, fun read, perfect for a hot summer’s day on a sun lounger with a glass of something cool within reach. I can’t wait to catch up on Karen Clarke’s back catalogue.

The Bakery at Seashell Cove is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

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After giving up her job as a library assistant, Karen now writes full-time. She’s had over 300 stories published in women’s magazines in the UK and abroad, and has written three paranormal romantic comedies, published by Little, Brown/Corsair. When she’s not writing she reads avidly, walks dogs at her local rescue centre, and is eagerly awaiting the next season of The Walking Dead. She lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband and three grown-up children.

Connect with Karen:

Website: https://www.karenclarkewriter.com

Facebook: Karen Clarke Writer

Twitter: @karenclarke123

Instagram: @karenanne37

#BlogTour The Cornish Village School – Breaking The Rules by Kitty Wilson #BookReview (@KittyWilson23) @canelo_co #PublicationDay #TheCornishVillageSchool #BreakingTheRules #NetGalley

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Delighted today to be one of the first stops on the blog tour for this enchanting debut by Kitty Wilson, and on publication day too. Happy Publication Day, Kitty! Huge thanks Ellie Pilcher at Canelo for inviting me to take part in this tour.

The Cornish Village School

“Rosy Winter is definitely not looking for love

Following heartbreak, Rosy has rebuilt her life in the beautiful Cornish village of Penmenna. Now, headmistress of the local school, she is living by The Rule: no dating anyone in the village. Easy right? But Rosy Winter has a new neighbour, handsome gardener Matt.

In Penmenna for his new gardening TV show, this guy next door will do everything he can to persuade her to break her rule and win her heart. Meanwhile, Penmenna Village School is threatened with closure and it’s up to Rosy to rally the local community and #SaveOurSchool. Can she bring her worlds together and accept help from the most unlikely of sources? One thing’s for sure… she won’t be giving up without a fight.

This heartwarming romance is perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant, Holly Martin and A. L. Michael.”

Rosy has put her turbulent past relationship behind her and has built a contented new life in the delightful Cornish village of Penmenna, where she runs the happy local school and lives a solitary but settled life in her tiny cottage. That is until a threat of closure of the school, and a threat to her personal equilibrium in the face of a handsome new neighbour disrupt everything.

This is a delightful debut from Kitty Wilson. The plot is a departure from the usual Cornish novels which seem to centre around cafes, shops and guesthouses and gets right into the heart of the community at the village school. Rosy is a character that I warmed to immediately so I was very quickly invested in her story. Her new neighbour, Matt, is pretty much the perfect man – handsome, thoughtful, charming, good with children – but Kitty still manages to make him believable and you will be screaming at Rosy to see what we see in him throughout the course of the book.

The plot isn’t earth-shattering, with no shocking twists and turns, it is a more gentle and straight-forward with a series of misunderstandings and complicated emotional barriers being the main devices to carry the story which make it an easy read and largely convincing but no less gripping. There did come a point when I was getting a little frustrated with Rosy’s insistence on sticking to ‘The Rule’ and her complete over-reaction at one point in the book but it did become clear later why she reacted this way which made sense to me eventually. Matt showed amazing fortitude in the face of her erratic behaviour, but I guess he had plenty of experience in dealing with his sister.

Matt’s sister, Angelina, is a nightmare in human form and the one flaw he had, as far as i could see (and one I would have found difficult to stomach had I been Rosy) was how much he let her get away with. However, she did provide a lot of comic value in this book, along with Marion, the scourge of the PTA, who had pretty much become my favourite character by the end of the book. In fact, the book had many laugh out loud/cringe inside moments, my particular highlight being Rosy’s blind date.

Throw in a cute but mischievous dog, a school full of adorable children, a fabulous country house garden and the gorgeous Cornish setting, peopled with eccentric local customs, and you have a winning formula that it is impossible not to enjoy. I read this book in a couple of hours.

This book is as sweet and tempting as a Cornish cream tea and I enjoyed every mouthful.

The Cornish Village School: Breaking The Rules is out today and you can purchase a copy here.

Thank you to NetGalley and Canelo for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

If you would like to follow the tour and find out what other bloggers think of the book, the details are below”

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About the Author

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Kitty Wilson has lived in Cornwall for the last twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard or hiding out at the beach and has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind.

Connect with Kitty:

Twitter: @KittyWilson123

#BlogTour Island Life Sentence by Carrie Jo Howe #BookReview (@CarrieJoHowe) @Unbounders @annecater #RandomThingsTours #IslandLifeSentence #Tropical Fluff

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Delighted to be the first stop on the blog tour for Island Life Sentence by Carrie Jo Howe so a big thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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“Peg Savage has contractually agreed to move to Key West, Florida. The smudged signatures on the damp cocktail napkin are irrefutable proof. “An adventure…” her husband Clark says. Peg can’t swim; she’s afraid of bridges (there are 42 of them); and she doesn’t want to leave her friends. However, after a bottle of Cabernet, a move from Chicago to the southernmost city in the United States seems like the best decision ever. But now Clark has taken a long term job in Cuba and she’s on her own. Neither her dog Nipper, nor the ghosts in the attic, offer up any good advice. But how hard can it be living in paradise? Peg dives into island life but the more effort she makes, the wider her wake of catastrophes.”

Like the Key West book I reviewed a couple of weeks ago, Florida Straits, this is the story of a person from a northern US city transplanted to the alien world of Key West. This time, instead of New York the protagonist is moving from Chicago and rather than a low level gangster eager to start a new life we are following the story of a mid-life, Mid-Western woman who doesn’t want to move.

Peg is happy in Chicago with her dog, her friends and the money she and her husband have realised from the sale of their successful business. However, following a bribe, a lot of alcohol and a drunken contract written on a damp cocktail napkin (which seems to be a regular occurrence for this couple), she is persuaded to up sticks for a relaxed retirement in the Florida Keys by her beloved husband, Clark.

They find themselves in an old, Key West Conch house which may be haunted but, no sooner than they move in, Clark jets off to work in Cuba leaving Peg to adjust to their new surroundings and life alone. This is no easy feat since Peg is fairly incompetent and afraid of everything – bridges, swimming – and seems incapable of coping with the simplest every day task. Hence a flurry of mishaps involving poisonous frogs, paddleboard yoga, deadly coconuts and a disastrous attempt to participate in Fantasy Fest. Even an attempt to go swimming becomes a laugh-out-loud incident and the scenario involving humidity and a clothing mishap on the way to Mass had me howling.

To begin with, Peg is a complete drip who is in total thrall to her inconsiderate husband and is incapable of doing anything on her own. She manages to alienate the very few friends she has made in Key West with her unreliability and I found her immensely frustrating but this is an important part of the story arc. Her personal journey would not have been so emotive if she had been less incompetent to begin with and I was glad by the end that she has managed to find her feet, her backbone and a way forward in her life. The culmination of Peg’s journey in her survival of a hurricane, standing up to her selfish spouse and finding her place in Key West was suitably satisfying. Her best friend, Trudy, was possibly my favourite character and I would have liked to have seen more of her. Also, gotta have a chihuahua in a tutu!

The surreal involvement of a trio of notable Key Westians in Peg’s life in spectral form may have been a strange step too far but, hey, none of this book is grounded firmly in reality so if you suspend your disbelief as far as you can and take this book for what it is – a tongue-in-cheek comedy of errors – it is a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

Island Life Sentence is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

Carrie Jo Howe Author Image

After raising three boys in the suburbs of Chicago, Carrie Jo Howe now lives in Key West, Florida with her husband and her dog. Her new book, Island Life Sentence is a fictional account of an American Mid-western woman who feels like an alien in the “one human family” of Key West. Carrie Jo’s first book, Motherhood is NOT for Babies, received raved reviews, and works wonderfully as an alternate form of contraception. Her blog Florida Keys Crime Report, tells of all the goings on in the Keys, where bank robbers get away on bicycles, and perps caught with an undersized, pinched, out-of-season lobster get more jail time than drug runners. She is currently working on her second Key West book.

Connect with Carrie Jo:

Website: http://www.carriejohowe.com

Facebook: Carrie Jo Howe Author

Twitter: @CarrieJoHowe

Instagram: @carriejohowe