Friday Night Drinks with…. Eleanor Harkstead & Catherine Curzon @e_harkstead @MadameGilflurt @Totally_Bound #FridayNightDrinks #TheGhostGarden

cocktail-2098458_1920

I have a rather delayed Friday Night Drinks tonight, as this should have appeared in April, until I was suddenly struck down by illness. However, better late than never, and it is a double whammy as, for the first time, I am having drinks with two authors tonight who are co-authors of a series of historical novels. You know what they say, two’s company, three is a party, so I am delighted to welcome to the blog…. Eleanor Harkstead and Catherine Curzon.

Thank you both for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

EH: Give me gin or give me death. Or alternatively a nice white wine.

CC: Tea! I will happily order tea in a pub, because there’s no finer drink under the sun. If I must have something a little more dramatic, Mason’s do a stunning tea gin. They do a lot of stunning gins, but that one is particularly special. 

 You are ladies after my own heart, as I have been a gin devotee since long before it became trendy. I have never tried the tea gin, though, so I must track that down. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you ​​be taking me for a night out?

EH: There’s a place in Birmingham called The Jekyll and Hyde. It has an amazing “gin palace” room where they sell nothing but gin! 

Unknown-1

CC: There’s no better way to start an evening out than a gorgeous meal and no better place to have a gorgeous meal than Salvo’s in Headingley. I’m not sponsored by them, but I wish I was — send me free food, Salvos! It’s the best Italian you’ll ever eat at, and has been family run for something like forty years. They won Best Neighbourhood Italian on Gordon Ramsey’s The F Word too, which isn’t to be sniffed (or sworn) at.

Unknown

If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on ​​our night out, who would we be drinking with?

EH: Byron and his pet bear. I’m not sure if the bear was male or female, but I’m sure no one’ll mind. Byron would be a laugh on the gin (or a morality black hole, it’s hard to say which), and the bear would be an excellent conversation piece. Besides, you never know when a bear might come in handy on a night out. It could keep an eye on your drinks while you’re dancing or deal with any argy-bargy. 

byron

CC: In my other writing life, I write nonfiction about the 18th century and that means there can only be one correct answer to this question. Laurence Sterne on one side and Caroline of Brunswick on the other. Sterne was known for wit and fabulous conversation and could hold a room in the palm of his hand with his stories. It’d be a privilege to meet the great man.

Caroline of Brunswick, meanwhile, was the scandalous estranged wife of George IV. She famously danced in diaphanous gowns on the Italian coast, shared a bed with a soldier noted for his dramatic whiskers and didn’t always wear her stays in polite company. I’d love to discover if the stories about Prinny are true, as well as find out if Caroline’s own hygiene was as shocking as her husband claimed it was!

Sounds like this could turn into quite a raucous night out, even without the bear. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going ​on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

EH/CC: We’re celebrating the publication of The Ghost Garden. We’re also writing something in our sandbox just for fun, but as usually happens, I’m sure the grain of an idea will make itself known and we’ll be off to turn it into a novel.

the-ghost-garden

Within the tangled vines of a forgotten garden, can a blossoming new love overcome an ancient evil that threatens both the living and the dead?

After losing her brother in the trenches of the Great War, Cecily James is a prisoner of Whitmore Hall, the respected but remote boys’ school where her brutish husband reigns as headmaster. With its forsaken walled garden, a hauntingly tragic past, and midnight footsteps heard from an unoccupied clocktower, Whitmore Hall is a place where the dead are rumored to walk.

Whitmore Hall is a place filled with mysteries and as a ghost garden emerges from the sun-bleached soil, long-buried secrets cry out to be told.

When new teacher Raf de Chastelaine blunders into an impromptu seance, Cecily finds an unlikely and eccentric ally. In a world of discipline and respectability, barefoot Raf is unlike any teacher Cecily has ever met. With his tales of the Carpathian mountains and a love of midnight gardening, he shakes Whitmore Hall to its foundations. Could there be more to Raf than meets the eye? And as he and Cecily realise that their feelings run deeper than friendship, dare they dream of a world beyond Whitmore Hall?

As Cecily and Raf team up to unite long-dead lovers and do battle with an ancient evil that has long haunted Whitmore Hall, Cecily finds her chance of happiness threatened by her tyrannical husband. But is the controlling headmaster acting of his own free will, or is he the puppet of a malevolent power from beyond the grave?

 What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has ​​​been your biggest challenge?

CC/EH: Definitely when Pride signed up our first Captivating Captains novel, The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper. Our first published work with Pride was a short story, An Actor’s Guide To Romance, and that was a really special moment for us as co-writers, but to see our first joint novel out there was fantastic. Even better was when Pride decided to launch the Captivating Captains series of novels, which cross genres and eras to tell stand alone stories featuring… some captivating captains!

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as ​​you like, its just us talking after all!

EH/CC: I suppose every writer hopes this, and it’s not very realistic, but we’d love it if one of our stories was dramatised. But (again unrealistically!) we’d like to oversee the casting. 

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

CC/EH: We’ve just put the final finishing touches to the first draft of the sequel to The Ghost Garden and we’re ready to shout it from the rooftops, but we can’t just yet! 

We’re really excited to introduce readers to the village where Raf’s family have lived for generations and to the people who live there. Although it’s the second book in our series, The de Chastelaine Chronicles, it can be read as a stand alone too, so readers who aren’t familiar with Raf and Cecily will still be able to jump right in and uncover their latest supernatural investigation!

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the ​​​future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of ​​your bucket list?

EH: I have two favourite places, which are in fact weirdly similar — Edinburgh and Granada. They’re both modern cities but ancient too with lovely old towns and castles. Granada is a magical place — I went in December once in the snow and it was beautiful. The Alhambra Palace is an amazing place to visit, but also to see peering over the buildings of the city as you wander about. And the view from the Albayzin (the Old Town) of the Alhambra with mountains behind it is breathtaking. I love Edinburgh — the Georgian New Town is gorgeous, and the higgledy-piggledy Old Town around The Royal Mile is fascinating. And Edinburgh’s old cemeteries are fantastic to visit.

alhambra

Top of my bucket list is Japan — I studied Japanese for two years but have never had the chance to go. One day, maybe!

CC: I’m going to choose two places for this question, one at home and one abroad. 

My first choice is the breathtaking Niagara Falls. It’s a place everyone should experience if they can for its wildness and the sheer scale and strength of the falls. I’m a bit of a waterfall fan!

niagara-falls

A little closer to home, there’s nowhere better than the rugged North Yorkshire coast. Not only can one have the best fish and chips, there’s miles of wonderful walking, gorgeous views and friendly Yorkshire folk – like me (though I’m only honorary Yorkshire!). 

At the top of my bucket list is only one thing: I am utterly obsessed with seeing the Northern Lights. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing and something I hope will happen one day!

Well, we are honoured to have you in Yorkshire and I agree that the North Yorkshire coast is as beautiful as any you will find anywhere. Lots of places there that are also on my bucket list! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know ​​​about you.

EH: I was once, by accident, in a documentary about students from the Middle East. I’m actually from East Anglia, which isn’t quite the same thing. I still don’t know how that happened.

CC: I spent many years working in the House of Commons. At some point during this occasionally surreal decade, a Home Secretary stole my shoe whilst he was drunk. I won’t name him!

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for ​​​​recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

EH: Chingiz Aytmatov’s Jamila (also known as Jamilia). It’s a beautiful, quietly rebellious love story set in Soviet Kyrgyzstan — so exquisitely moving and will stay with you long after you’ve read it. James Riordan’s translation is nothing short of lyrical.

51yN6ZR9YEL._AC_UL436_

The Second World War is raging, and Jamilia’s husband is off fighting at the front. Accompanied by Daniyar, a sullen newcomer who was wounded on the battlefield, Jamilia spends her days hauling sacks of grain from the threshing floor to the train station in their village in the Central Asia.

Spurning men’s advances and wincing at the dispassionate letters she receives from her husband, Jamilia falls helplessly in love with the mysterious Daniyar in this heartbreakingly beautiful tale.

CC: The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. I guarantee you’ve never read anything like it before, and you never will again. My interest in history and writing was awakened by my grandad, who was a born storyteller. Tristram Shandy is just like sitting beside grandad’s hearth and listening to him tell tales. It wanders, stops and starts, and leaves you hanging. Perfect storytelling!

51NSZgOyXoL._AC_UL436_

Sterne’s great comic novel is the fictional autobiography of Tristram Shandy, a hero who fails even to get born in the first two volumes. It contains some of the best-known and best-loved characters in English literature, including Uncle Toby, Corporal Trim, Parson Yorick, Dr Slop and the Widow Wadman. Beginning with Tristram’s conception, the novel recounts his progress in ‘this scurvy and disasterous world of ours’, including his misnaming during baptism and his accidental circumcision by a falling sash-window at the age of five; unsurprisingly, Tristram declares that he has been ‘the continual sport of what the world calls Fortune’. Tristram Shandy also offers the narrator’s ‘opinions’, at once facetious and highly serious, on books and learning in an age of rapidly expanding print culture, and on the changing understanding of the roles of writers and readers alike.

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and ​​​your go-to cure if you do end up with one?​

EH: Drink lots of water, keep paracetamol by the bed and get lots of sleep! To be honest, I’d also say that in order to avoid hangovers never pass the age of thirty. And don’t have more than one or two drinks, definitely never on an empty stomach. (Thus speaks the voice of bitter experience. And the least said about that the better, I think!)

CC: I’ve never been drunk, so I’ve never had a hangover. My failsafe plan is, therefore, don’t get drunk! Easier said than done sometimes, I know, but it works for me!

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect ​​​weekend?

EH: Almost inevitably, there will be writing and maybe podcasting. Other than that, I might be in the garden. I’ve just planted a clematis, a honeysuckle and a passion flower to climb my boring fences, and I now have a red bottlebrush — it’s a magnificent Australian plant which reminds me of my auntie’s garden in Perth.

CC: There’d definitely be some writing in there somewhere! I’d also catch a football match (and hopefully, unlike this season, we might even win!) then pack my airband radio and binoculars and head off to the airport. I’m not a plane spotter so much as a plane watcher. We sit at the end of the runway, eat fish and chips, drink tea and watch the planes come and go whilst listening to pilots and tower. It’s more fun than it sounds, believe me, you see some really unexpected sights!

Some diverse weekend plans there! Thank you very much for joining me on the blog tonight, it has been a great evening.

As well as their book, The Ghost Garden, which is described above and which you can buy here,, Eleanor and Catherine have a new book coming out on 3 September. The Captain and the Theatrical is the third book in the Captivating Captains series and you can buy a copy here.

51At7iCuCuL

When Captain Pendleton needs an emergency fiancée, who better to turn to than his male best friend? After all, for Amadeo Orsini, life’s one long, happy drag!

Captain Ambrose “Pen” Pendleton might have distinguished himself on the battlefield at Waterloo but since he’s come home to civvy street, he’s struggled to make his mark.

Pen dreams of becoming a playwright but his ambitious father has other ideas, including a trophy wife and a new job in America. If he’s to stand a hope of staying in England and pursuing his dream, Pen needs to find a fiancée fast.

Amadeo Orsini never made it as a leading man, but as a leading lady he’s the toast of the continental stage. Now Cosima is about to face her most challenging role yet, that of Captain Pendleton’s secret amour.

With the help of a talking theatrical parrot who never forgets his lines, Orsini throws on his best frock, slaps on the rouge and sets out to save Pen from the clutches of Miss Harriet Tarbottom and her scheming parents.

As friendship turns into love, will the captain be able to write a happy ending for himself and Orsini before the curtain falls?

Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead began writing together in the spring of 2017 and swiftly discovered a shared love of sauce, well-dressed gents and a uniquely British sort of romance. They drink gallons of tea, spend hours discussing the importance of good tailoring and are never at a loss for a double entendre.

Their short stories and the Captivating Captains series are published by Pride. Don’t miss the de Chastelaine Chronicles, coming in 2019 from Totally Bound.

You can find more information on their writing partnership on their website.

Catherine Curzon is an author and royal historian of the 18th century.

In addition to her four non-fiction books on Georgian royalty, available from Pen & Sword, she written extensively for a number of internationally-published publications,  and has spoken at venues and events across the United Kingdom.

Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine can often be found cheering for the mighty Huddersfield Town. She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill with a rakish colonial gentleman, a long-suffering cat and a lively dog.

Connect with Catherine via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She knows rather a lot about poisons, and can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens, and has a huge collection of vintage hats. She is the winner of the Best Dressed Sixth Former award and came third in the under-11s race at the Colchester Fire Swim.

Originally from the south-east of England, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking.

Connect with Eleanor via FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Next week, I will be joined by the fabulous Cressida Mclaughlin to celebrate the publication of her latest paperback, so make sure you join us.

The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson #BookReview (@DorothyKoomson) @penguinrandom #TheBrightonMermaid

51SatD6GsCL._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_

Brighton Beach, 1993

Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell is forced to quit her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust…

I’m writing this review from a very interesting place today, because I have just come away from a weekend spent at the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference in Lancaster where one of the highlights of the weekend for me was listening to Dorothy Koomson in conversation about her writing with RNA Chair, Alison May.

I have been in love with Dorothy Koomson’s writing since the very first book of hers that I picked up more than ten years ago. That book was Goodnight, Beautiful and it has remained very special to me because, not only was it a book I loved as a reader, but it is one of the books that has influenced me very deeply as a writer. The way I felt whilst reading this book is the way I want to make people feel when I write.

Dorothy’s writing has moved on a great deal since that book and she is one of the few authors writing who has managed to change genres very successfully. In fact, she has done this more than once, and it was fascinating to hear her talk about the resistance she had to these changes from others involved in her career and the absolute conviction in her own writing that has carried her through. It is this passion, this conviction, that comes through so clearly in her writing and carries we, the reader, along with her wherever she chooses to take us. I, for one, am always happy to follow and never regret the journey.

The Brighton Mermaid is no exception, it was an outstanding read for me. I finished it just before the conference, and was fascinated to hear some of the stories behind the writing of this book afterwards, which would never have been apparent from the finished product. Dorothy joked that she has invented a new genre, the emotional thriller, and this label definitely sums up the journey in this novel. It is quite unlike anything that anyone else is writing and I really felt that I were reading something new and interesting, that made me think and feel differently to anything else I had read when I had finished it.

The book follows the story of Nell, who has an experience in her teenage years that has a deep and lasting effect on her and all of the people who are close to her. A simple act on one night ripples through her family and friends and changes all of their lives forever. Nell is haunted by the experience and is still searching for answers when we catch up with her in her thirties in the present day. Her sister has also been impacted in a way that has left her with mental health issues and her parents lives were turned upside down. Her best friend disappeared and has left a question hanging over them all which has never been answered. Nell’s pursuit of the truth and a resolution to all their difficulties draws us in and holds us captive to the very last page.

This is not a traditional detective story or psychological thriller but a fascinating blend of the two, with a complex layer of emotional truth woven through it that asks more questions than it answers. Despite the fact that this is a very different book than the first Dorothy Koomson I fell in love with all those years ago, I was left with many of the same feelings by the end: riveted, moved, challenged and, ultimately, blown away by the skill of the author. This book could not have been written by anyone other than Dorothy Koomson and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I’m looking forward to reading the next one, and I have a copy of this which I will cherish.

The Brighton Mermaid is out now in all formats and you can buy a copy here. Dorothy’s latest book is Tell Me Your Secret and it is also out now in hardback.

About the Author

B1fPPTDttiS._US230_

Dorothy Koomson is the award-winning author of 14 novels and has been making up stories since she was 13 when she used to share her stories with her convent school friends. Her published titles include: The Friend, When I Was Invisible, That Girl From Nowhere, The Flavours of Love, The Woman He Loved Before, Goodnight, Beautiful and The Chocolate Run.

Dorothy’s first novel, The Cupid Effect, was published in 2003 (when she was quite a bit older than 13). Her third book, My Best Friend’s Girl, was selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Reads of 2006 and went on to sell over 500,000 copies. While her fourth novel, Marshmallows For Breakfast, has sold in excess of 250,000 copies. Dorothy’s books, The Ice Cream Girls and The Rose Petal Beach were both shortlisted for the popular fiction category of the British Book Awards in 2010 and 2013, respectively.

Dorothy’s novels have been translated into over 30 languages, and a TV adaptation loosely based on The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1 in 2013. After briefly living in Australia, Dorothy now lives in Brighton.

Connect with Dorothy:

Website: https://www.dorothykoomson.co.uk

Facebook: Dorothy Koomson Writer

Twitter: @DorothyKoomson

Instagram: @dorothykoomson_author

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane by Emily Harvale #BookReview #BlogTour (@emilyharvale) @RaRaResources #Giveaway #RaRaResources #LilyPondLane

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane

This is, sadly, my final visit to Little Pondale as I take part in the blog tour for Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane by Emily Harvale. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour to finish the journey with these characters and to Emily for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. Make sure you enter the giveaway detailed below!

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on LPL -FLAT-KINDLE-JUNE9

Everyone’s got a secret wish in Little Pondale this summer.

Mia’s been exceptionally lucky since moving to Lily Pond Lane. But even on her honeymoon with the man of her dreams, she still has one remaining wish.

Ella wishes Gill would propose. But since Mia’s wedding something’s changed in their relationship. Now he’s spending time with newcomer, Tabbie Talbaine, Ella wishes Tabbie will leave as quickly as she arrived.

Tabbie wishes she hadn’t driven her car into a pond. But it could be the best thing that’s ever happened to her. When she discovers Hollywood heartthrob, Justin Lake’s staying in the village, getting an interview for her popular blog isn’t her only wish.

Bree was told she couldn’t have a baby. Now she’s expecting twins and is simply wishing it all goes well.

And as for Hettie … she wishes she could get her hands on an old map of the village. Because there’s something hidden in Little Pondale that Hettie Turner really wants to find.

I have truly loved visiting Lily Pond Lane on and off with Emily Harvale over the last year to see how Mia, Jet and her friends were getting on, so I was happy to get one last chance to see how things had moved on after Jet and Mia’s wedding. What more could possibly happen?

Well, plenty is the answer, although mostly to people other than Jet and Mia, since their happy ending was pretty definitively sewn up in the last episode. It was the turn of the other characters to have their stories completed, along with newcomer Tabbie. There was just room for me to join Mia on her enviable honeymoon in the South Pacific, though, and for her to have a final surprise for the reader.

Emily, with her trademark charm provided me with plenty of feel good romance in this book, and some round ups for the characters we have come to know and love in Little Pondale, as well as introducing some new ones. I particularly loved the introduction of the reclusive Aurelia Jenkins, a woman who gives Hattie a run for her money through the course of the book. There is an extra dose of the Little Pondale magic in this book, literally in the plot and figuratively in the writing, and I was charmed from beginning to end.

This book, as the others do, will work as a standalone, but I think readers will get most out of it if they have read at least some of the proceeding titles in the series first. It definitely felt like a ‘tying up of loose ends’ novel, with some of the unresolved stories being concluded, and had less of a meaty, although still rewarding, plot of its own. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and have continued to fall in love with Emily’s writing throughout the series, but it one more for established fans rather than one I would advise new readers to start with. But what better excuse could there be for buying them all? You definitely will not regret it.

I am going to miss the gang in Little Pondale but I hope they all enjoy their futures in the village. See, they have become real friends to me. Thank you, Emily, for this series, a great addition to the romantic comedy genre.

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, make sure you visit the blogs detailed on the poster below:

Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses on Lily Pond Lane Full Tour Banner

Giveaway

Secret Wishes Blog tour giveaway

To win a signed paperback of Secret Wishes and Summer Kisses, a pen, novelty sticky notes and a bookmark, 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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

About the Author

EPSON scanner image

Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now spends her days writing… and chatting on social media. Emily is a Member of the SoA, a PAN member of the RWA and a Pro Member of ALLi. She’s an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. Emily loves writing and her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.


Emily says, “I write about friendship, family and falling in love. I believe in happing endings.” When she isn’t writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both.

Connect with Emily:

Website: https://www.emilyharvale.com/

Facebook: Emily Harvale Writer

Twitter: @emilyharvale

Instagram: @emilyharvale

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

Book Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

Naomi Joy

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

Connect with Naomi:

Twitter: @naomijoyauthor

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech #BookReview #BlogTour (@LouiseWriter) @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #CallMeStarGirl

Call Me Star Girl Cover

Stirring up secrets can be deadly … especially if they’re yours…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

With echoes of the Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

I am so thrilled to be taking my turn today on the blog tour for Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to Orenda Books for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I am struggling to gather adequate words to express my thoughts about this book, mainly because it has raised such a tumult of thoughts and emotions in me that it is almost impossible to sort them into a coherent thread. I haven’t read anything quite like it.

This has been billed as Louise Beech’s first psychological thriller, and it is, but that description doesn’t really do justice to the complexity of ideas and themes running through the novel. The psychological thriller genre has become saturated over the past few years and some of us have become a little jaded with it, given the uneven quality of writing that has appeared. However, this is a book that rises to the top of the heap, as the cream always does, going beyond the mere shock twist trope that has become the almost tired signature of the genre, to offer such a labyrinth of concepts and issues that I am still mentally mining them for my ultimate conclusions, which may take a while. I think it may even need a second, third or fourth reading to fully wring the nuances from it. However, the review is due today, so I’ll do the best I can with my initial thoughts!

The book follows Stella, a woman working as a presenter on a late night radio show, who has become consumed by the mystery of the recent murder of a local woman not far from where she works. Stella carries her own set of hang ups, resulting from her abandonment by her mother years before, a mother who has recently returned and stirred up a hornet’s nest of emotions that need to be addressed. In addition, she has an intense relationship to contend with, and a mystery caller who is suggesting he knows the killer – but why is he calling Stella?

The book is written from dual viewpoints, those of Stella and her mother, Elizabeth, and it jumps through different timelines, present and in to the past when Elizabeth left Stella as a child. This works really well, as the past gradually informs the present, and we are shown the motives of both parties in their current and former behaviour, all of which begins slowly to shed light on the current mystery.

The book is intricately plotted and had me making wild guesses as to who was responsible for what, which changed rapidly from chapter to chapter as more information was revealed, the layers of action and motive gradually peeling back like the slowly opening petals of a rose, to reveal the perfectly formed pistil at the centre which holds the essence of the flower. By the end, I had tied myself in knots trying to guess what was at the heart of the story, but I hadn’t got close to the truth of it, when it was finally revealed.

The basic mystery of the plot is not the essence of the story, though, it is simply the skeleton on which Louise hangs the complicated musculature of the book, which is the relationship between Stella, her mother, her anonymous father and her partner, Tom. The dynamics of these relationships, and how the actions of one impact the feelings and behaviour of the others, is the meat of the book, and it is a rich and fascinating topic that Louise exploits fully to make the reader think. There are so many questions raised – nature versus nurture; the nature of the parent/child bond; at what point does an obsessive love become unhealthy; does there come point at which the actions of a person you love become unforgivable, and so many more. I am sure, if I go back to the book again, I will find more and more questions to ponder. This is not a book to be read once and discarded as having given all it can, this is a book that demands thought and attention and detailed consideration of its issues. It is a book that may well leave you with more questions than answers.

Louise’s writing is tight and emotive. The world she creates in this book is the dark, lonely hour of the night when people are pondering the murkiest parts of their souls and coming to unhappy conclusions. The deserted radio station in the quiet hours is intensely claustrophobic, and provides the perfect backdrop for the bleak questions raised by the plot. I found the book deeply unsettling and strained, nerves jangling in anticipation of the alarming facts of the murder about to be revealed. I found it almost impossible to drag myself away from the page and break the tension. The book sucked me into its vortex and held me in a pincer grip, desperate to get to the truth. Not a word is wasted, the twanging tension almost unbearable in its relentlessness as Louise pulls the reader through the story without a moment’s respite. It is a startling accomplishment and left me breathless and disorientated at the end.

This book is something quite special, an achievement that would, in a live arena, be worthy of a standing ovation. My most rewarding read of the year so far.

Call Me Star Girl is out now in ebook and will be published in paperback on 18 April and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour for the book, make sure you check out the blogs listed below:

call me star girl blog poster 2019

About the Author

Louise Beech Author Photo

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Connect with Louise:

Website: https://louisebeech.co.uk

Facebook: Louise Beech

Twitter: @LouiseWriter

Instagram: @louisebeech13

random-thingstours-fb-header

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

Island In The Sun

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

Island in the Sun FINAL Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Island in the Sun Full Tour Banner

About the Author

Janice Horton Caribbean

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

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

Connect with Janice:

Website: https://thebackpackinghousewife.com

Facebook: Jance Horton Author

Twitter: @JaniceHorton

Instagram: @janicehortonwriter

The Haunting of Alice May by Tony Lee Moral #CoverReveal #PromoPost #PublicationDay (@TonyLeeMoral) #alfredhitchcock

coverHauntingofAliceMayKindlecoverc

Alice May Parker moves with her family to the sleepy town of Pacific Grove after her Mom dies, but little does she know the strange and terrifying events to come.

When she falls into the bay during a kayaking trip, she is rescued from drowning by the mysterious Henry Raphael. Handsome, old fashioned and cordial, he is unlike any other boy she has known before. Intelligent and romantic, he sees straight into her soul.

Soon Alice and Henry are swept up in a passionate and decidedly unorthodox romance until she finds out that Henry is not all what he seems. . .

I don’t very often do cover reveals for books but I wanted to share this one with you as I am very excited about reading it but, I’m going to have to wait a while due to pressures of other reading commitments. Boo! Doesn’t the cover do a brilliant job of drawing you in and making you want to find out what is going on on that sinister-looking island?

If, unlike me, you have some spare time on your hands and want to read this book before I can get to it, it is available in paperback and out for Kindle today. You can get both formats here.

Watch out for my review of the book coming in the next few weeks. If you manage to read it in the interim, don’t spoil it for me!

About the Author

Sign

Tony Lee Moral is an author specialising in mystery and suspense. He has written three books on the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock: Alfred Hitchcock’s Movie Making Masterclass (2013) published by MWP books; The Making of Hitchcock’s The Birds (2013) published by Kamera Books and Hitchcock and the Making of Marnie (2005) published by Scarecrow Press. Tony was born in Hastings, England in 1971, before moving to California. He lived in Monterey and Big Sur for two years which forms the inspiration for his latest thriller The Haunting of Alice May, which is published in March 2019 in Paperback and Kindle.

Hitchcock was a master storyteller, using plot, character, location and props to tell engaging stories of mystery, suspense, crime and retribution. Tony uses these principles to write his novels, including The Haunting of Alice May which has just been released in paperback and Kindle. Three more novels are along the way

Connect with Tony:

Website: http://www.tonyleemoral.com

Facebook: Tony Lee Moral Fans

Twitter: @TonyLeeMoral

Instagram: @tonyleemoral