#Blogtour The Hangaman’s Hold by Michael Wood @MichaelHWood @KillerReads @HarperCollins

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The Hangman’s Hold by Michael Wood   Killer Reads September 20th 2018

Your life is in his hands.

In the gripping new serial killer thriller from Michael Wood, Matilda Darke faces a vicious killer pursuing his own brand of lethal justice. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Helen Fields.

There’s a killer in your house.
The Hangman waits in the darkness.He knows your darkest secrets.
He’ll make you pay for all the crimes you have tried desperately to forget.And he is closer than you think.
DCI Matilda Darke is running out of time. Fear is spreading throughout the city. As the body count rises, Matilda is targeted and her most trusted colleagues fall under suspicion. But can she keep those closest to her from harm? Or is it already too late?
My Review
This is my first foray into the life of DCI Matilda Darke and it won’t be my last, in fact I’m not sure why it took me so long to discover this brilliant crime series.
What struck me about DCI Darke was not just her skills as a detective but that she wasn’t your typical hardnosed, nothing is going to get me kind of detective. It was so refreshing to read a detective who had feelings, and vulnerabilities and wasn’t afraid to let everyone around her see the real her.
I think what would have helped me understand her better was if I had read the previous three novels but I soon picked up on some of the background and can honestly say that it did not spoil my enjoyment.
The storyline is grim, tense and terrifying, the opening pages lulled me into a false sense of security until suddenly I was engulfed in scenes that were certainly not pleasant and definitely the stuff of nightmares.
All at once characters marched in demanding my attention, some out to catch the killer, others with questionable motives, an aura of suspicion hanging around them.
As DCI Darke investigated I was pulled further and further in, the myriad of possible killers and outcomes swirling around, putting my head in quite a spin at times. It’s definitely one of the best things about this novel, that you never quite know who to trust and just where Wood will take you next.
I loved Wood’s narrative, fast, but never skimming the surface, always going that little bit further, to dig that little bit deeper into the characters, the background into the investigation, before the great unveiling and a satisfying resolution.
I have read a lot of serial killer novels, but I have to say that The Hangman’s Hold is a cut above the rest, it has depth, a great storyline and the writing is fantastic.
Thank you to Killer Reads for a copy fo The Hangman’s Hold to read and review and to the author Michael Wood for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
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Sheffield based crime writer and author of the DCI Matilda Darke novels. Published by Killer Reads at HarperCollins.

#Blogtour Pull Up Pray by Angel Luis Colon @GoshDarnMyLife @DownAndOutBooks #DampPebblesBlogtours

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Pull and Pray by Angel Luis Colon  Down and Out Books  July 30th 2018

An estranged family member! A score to end all scores! Continued gastrointestinal issues! Five years after surviving the most harrowing heist of her life, Fantine Park is lured back to the United States by her aunt. The bait: a lead on the identity of her mother’s killer and a score known as the ‘pension plan’, a piece of software that can literally pay out in perpetuity if they can get their hands on it in time.

Working with a team of actual professionals with their own motivations; Fan’s loyalties and beliefs will be tested as nothing is as it seems; especially when one of the members of this crew may have been the last person to see her mother alive.

It’s going to be lies, murder, and gas station hot dogs all the way down as Fan races to get the answers about the day her mother died and maybe, just maybe, the kind of cash that will pull her away from a continued life of crime.

My Review

Pull and Pray is short but definitely not sweet, in fact, the grittiness of the novel oozed from the pages.

It’s main protagonist, Fan, was a woman out to settle a score, to find the person who killed her mother, and if that involved working with her Aunt Matty on last heist then that is what she would do.

Fan was most definitely hardcore, not one to mess around, even if that meant throwing the odd punch, and that is what I liked about her. It was so refreshing to have a very strong female character, one who could stand up for herself, a match fro any man!

Fan was very direct and to the point perfectly matching Colon’s narrative. It was a narrative that had no frills, that was economical and sparse, a word never wasted. There were very dark undertones, violence never faraway, as the promise of a once in a life time payout drove Fan and Matty to take more risks, the stakes rising higher with every page that I turned.

Yet, I could sense that underneath Fan, in particular had a softer, mellower side, that she longed for a normal, ordinary life, a victim of her up bringing, that somehow trapped her. I am not sure that it was the authors intention to raise such issues but it did make me think about real life, and how easy it is for people to be trapped in a criminal lifestyle just like Fan, with no means of fighting their way out.

Putting the characters aside, the premise of the novel, a heist to end all heists, required s little concentration to understand the complexities. Once instilled in my brain, I admired Colon’s ingenuity and the research that had obviously gone into creating such a criminal feat. The operation was not without its mishaps making for some frantic page turning at times to discover what would happen next.

The shortness of the novel meant that it was fast paced, and full of tension and drama, and an ending that was surprising. I did feel that Colon left the door open for Fan to return at some point in the future and it would be very interesting to see what gets upto next.

So, if you are looking for dark, gritty, fast paced with great female characters then Pull and Pray is the novel for you.

I would like to thank Down and Out Books for a copy of Pull and Pray to read and review and to Damp Pebbles Blogtours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Angel Luis Colón is a Derringer and Anthony Award shortlisted author. His published works include the titles: PULL & PRAY, NO HAPPY ENDINGS, the BLACKY JAGUAR series of novellas, the short story anthology; MEAT CITY ON FIRE (AND OTHER ASSORTED DEBACLES), and the upcoming HELL CHOSE ME (2019).

His short fiction has appeared in multiple web and print publications including Thuglit, Literary Orphans, and Great Jones Street. He also hosts the podcast, the bastard title.

Keep up with him on Twitter via @GoshDarnMyLife

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#Blogtour The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney @danielmoonbags @Legend_Press #friendship #poignant

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The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney  Legend Press  August 15th 2018

If you’re going to end it, you better make it big. No slipping off bridges, it’s undignified for men of our vintage. Go big or don’t bother.”

Joel lives in a nursing home and he’s not one bit happy about it. He doesn’t like being told when to eat, when to sleep, when to take his pills. In fact, he doesn’t like living at all, and he’s decided he’s going to end his life on his terms.

When he tells retired soap-actor Frank about his dark plan, Frank urges him to go out with a bang. Together, they embark on a mission to find the perfect suicide, and along the way, discover the strength of friendship when you really feel alone.

My Review

What happens when we start the slow decline into old age? For some it’s being looked after by relatives whilst for others it’s the care home, a place of safety, 24 hour care and hopefully happiness.

But what if the care home you reside in is not your happy place, but instead your prison, where others tell you what you can do, when you eat, when you take your pills, and treat you like the 5 year old you once were.

This is how Joel wakes up every morning, the bed next to him occupied by a comatose resident, who to his delight doesn’t answer back and doesn’t complain about his TV choices. In fact Joel is so unhappy, he’s depressed and decides the only way out is to kill himself. The death of his room mate and the arrival of Frank, retired soap opera star, are where this novel suddenly takes off, offering a glimpse into old age, the world of care homes and more importantly the life of someone who lives in one of them.

What struck me about The Great Unexpected was Mooney’s grasp and understanding of his character, Joel. He showed us a man who had watched his wife die, who had had his independence stripped from him, who saw no reason to carry on. I couldn’t help but feel desperately sorry for Joel, no one asked what he wanted, or considered his feelings, he was merely a problem that needed fixing.

Mooney’s genius addition, Frank, instantly lifted the mood of the novel. I loved Frank’s charisma, his personality, his ability to only see the positive, and ultimately his skill in getting under Joel’s skin and to pop the depressive bubble he lived in.

Their antics reminded me of a couple of teenagers, escaping at night to have fun, only to be caught the next day and punished. There were a couple of scenes that really made me chuckle and my imagination ran wild as I visualised Joel and Frank’s nightly escapades!

Mooney’s skill was the way in which he used their antics to unlock Joel, to force those around him, to think about his feelings and more importantly what he wanted. It was the slow realisation of Joel’s family and nursing staff that he still had something to offer society, that he required respect and the courtesy of being treated like an adult.

I did wonder if Mooney had had personal experience, so realistic and true his portrayal of Joel and his circumstances. The poignancy he evoked was extremely touching at times, yet he didn’t delve the novel into one entire depressive monologue, interspersing great swathes of humour that made for a real rollercoaster of a read.

I loved Joel, and I loved Frank, they were naughty, funny, and real, their friendship so moving and delightful, that I hope all those living in care homes can have the same friendship, the same fun, be treated with the respect and courtesy they deserve

I would like to thank Legend Press for a copy of The Great Unexpected to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

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Dan Mooney is a writer, air traffic controller and amateur filmmaker, with one of his short films broadcast on national TV. Dan is also a fan of amateur dramatics, rugby and is a friend to many cats. He wrote his first piece of fiction for a child-operated local newspaper at age ten and has been writing ever since.

He is the author of Me, Myself and Them (June 2017) and The Great Unexpected (2018).

Follow Dan on Twitter @danielmoonbags

Further details and where you can purchase The Great Unexpected can be found at http://www.legendtimesgroup.co.uk/legend-press/books/1915-the-great-unexpected

An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire #EmilyMaguire @EyeAndLightning @meandmybigmouth @EllieFBeadle

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An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire  Eye and Lightning Books  August 7th 2018

When 25-year-old Bella Michaels is brutally murdered in the small town of Strathdee, the community is stunned and a media storm ensues.

Unwillingly thrust into the eye of that storm are Bella’s beloved older sister, Chris, a barmaid at the local pub, whose apparently easy-going nature conceals hard-won wisdom and the kind of street-smarts that only experience can bring, and May Norman, a young reporter with high ideals sent to cover the story.

An Isolated Incident is a humane and beautifully observed tale of everyday violence, the media’s obsession with the murders of pretty young women and the absence left in the world when someone die.

SHORTLISTED: Miles Franklin Literary Award

SHORTLISTED: Stella Prize

SHORTLISTED: Ned Kelly Prize for Best Crime Novel

My review

An Isolated Incident is good, it is very good. Labelled as a crime novel, it is so much more and in no way typical of your everyday crime novel on today’s overflowing bookshop shelves.

Yes, there is a crime, the unfortunate murder of Bell Michaels, but it is more about what happens to those left behind. How do they rationlise what has happened, how do they cope with such trauma on a daily basis, how do they deal with the do gooders and most importantly the media.

Using Bella’s sister, Chris as the focus of the novel, Maguire writes of a woman who is consumed with grief whose every thought is not about who did the crime but how she can cope with the loss of her sister. I think what made it so much worse for Chris is that she had lost the one good thing about her life, a life that was lonely, that consisted of working in the same bar for over ten years with no obvious way out. In a way it also woke her up, made her examine her life, what she could have done differently, what choices she should have made but didn’t. It is what I liked about Chris, she was full of flaws, not glamorous, not out for revenge, or attention, making her believable, more real.

The so called baddies of the novel were the press, their need for a story overriding Chris’s need for peace, for anonymity. May Norman was one such journalist who wanted to get to close to Chris, to find the killer and although I admired her tenaciousness, I also felt repulsion at her need for the big story and invasion of Chris’s privacy. As I read I hoped that May would be different, would have some morals and some respect.

Maguire didn’t stop there, what I felt she did brilliantly was to highlight how events can effect not just those close to a murder but also the community in which they reside. Strathdee suddenly became the centre of the universe, its flaws laid bare for all to see, individuals with pasts they would rather remain hidden had their skeletons thrust out of cupboards, leaving no places for people to hide. Maguire certainly didn’t show the pretty side and that made it all the more interesting and thought provoking.

There is no huge drama in An Isolated Incident, there are no screaming police sirens, no hard nosed detectives looking for the killer, no dramatic ending as the killer is revealed. It is a novel based around the emotions of the characters, and in particular, Chris. Her all consuming grief and sense of desolation and darkness emanates from the pages,

I found it to be hugely thought provoking, and dark with a unique rawness about it that I found hugely refreshing. The writing is sublime, and I felt myself fully immersed in Chris’s story.

It is not a novel to read quickly but one to read slowly, to savour the wonderful narrative and admire the skills of one very talented author.

I would like to thank Scott Pack and Eye and Lightning books for a copy of An Isolated Incident to read and review.

About the author

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Emily Maguire is the author of five novels, including the Miles Franklin Award and Stella Prize shortlisted An Isolated Incident, and two works of non-fiction.

Emily’s articles and essays on sex, feminism, culture and literature have been published widely including in The Sydney Morning HeraldThe AustralianThe Observer and The Age.

Vox by Christina Dachler @CVDalcher @HQstories #100WORDS

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Vox by Christina Dachler  HQ August 23rd 2018

Neurolinguist Dr Jean McClellan, has become a woman of few words. One hundred words per day to be exact; any more and a thousand volts of electricity will course through her veins. She is not alone. Now that the new government is in power, no woman is able to speak over this limit without punishment. Books are forbidden, bank accounts transferred to the closest male relative and all female employment suspended,
while young girls are no longer taught to read and write. But when the President’s brother suffers a stroke, Jean is temporarily given back her voice in order to work on the cure. But things are not as they seem and Jean soon discovers that she is part of a much larger plan, to silence voices around the world for good.

My Review

You are female, you are not worthy of a proper education, holding down a job, making decisions, you cannot read a book, have an email account or even check the post. So what can you do? Well if your Jean McClellan, previously a world leading neurolinguist, you can stay at home, be subservient to your husband, look after the home and your children and be very bored and unhappy.  But what marks Jean McClellan and all the other women in Dachler’s novel from all the rest is that in any one day they may only speak #100WORDS.

Their #100WORDS are chosen with care and precision, there are no throwaway comments, no jokes no detailed conversations. One word over the #100WORDS an electric shock is delivered via a locked wristband. To say I was shocked when I started Vox would be an understatement, and the first thing I did was to try and imagine what I would do in similar circumstances. To be honest I am not really sure what I would do but I knew I would be just as miserable and as unhappy as Jean, but that I would also fight, fight for my rights to be a woman, to live a normal life.

What I loved above all else about Vox was Dachler’s portrayal of her main protagonist Jean. Yes, Jean was highly intelligent, but she had guts and determination, she grasped every opportunity to push the boundaries and to fight, not only for herself but also her daughter and the countless other women silenced and cowed by a male dominated society. Where Dachler excelled was her ability to highlight Jean’s vulnerabilities, her lack of confidence and her continual questioning of her actions, in particular her loyalty toward her husband and son. Her situation was extreme but, to some extent, women face the same dilemmas in everyday life, how much of ourselves do we give up, without losing who we are, or who we want to be? How many societies, in the world today still suppress women, deny them an education and more importantly a voice?

That is what was so good about Vox, it wasn’t just your average run of the mill thriller, it was so much more. It constantly asked questions, made me think, what #100WORDS would I chose, how would I feel to be silenced, to have my identity stripped from me, to have my male children question me, look down on me and have a husband who could do what the hell he liked with me.

Using other female characters Dachler was able to show an alternative version of Jean, the women who clearly embraced their silence and who were happy with their role within society, providing a balanced and two sided view of their world.

One of the most scariest aspects of the novel and again can be found in certain places today, is the power one man or a small group can wield within Government, how social media, TV, Radio, school and colleges can be used for rhetroic and propaganda to make a society believe whatever they want them to believe.

There is so much to Vox that it would take forever to write it all down, but whilst the suppression of women was at the heart of the novel, it was also a damn fine thriller. The pace is unrelenting, my page turning furious, the drama never ending and a couple of superb twists that made VOX unputdownable.

It is definitley one of the best novels I have read so far this year and I urge everyone to borrow from you library or go out and buy as it is just superb.

I would like to thank Lily Capewell at HQ for a copy of Vox to read and review.

About the author

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Christina Dalcher earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown
University. She specializes in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British
dialects and has taught at universities in the United States, England, and the United
Arab Emirates.
Over one hundred of her short stories and flash fiction appear in journals worldwide.
Recognitions include the Bath Flash Award’s Short List; nominations for The Pushcart
Prize, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions; and multiple other awards. She teaches
flash fiction as a member of the faculty at The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, Virginia.
VOX is her first novel, and has been longlisted for the 2018 Not The Booker Prize.

#Blogtour The Trailing Spouse by Jo Furniss @Jo_Furniss #LakeUnion Publishing #RandomThingsTours

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The Trailing Spouse by Jo Furniss   Lake Union Publishing August 14th 2018

Do you really want to know the truth?

Amanda Bonham moved halfway around the world to be with the man she loves. Although expat life in Singapore can be difficult, Edward Bonham is a dream husband and a doting father to his teenage daughter, Josie.

But when their maid dies in an apparent suicide—and Amanda discovers the woman was pregnant and hiding a stash of drugs prescribed to Edward—she can’t help but wonder if her perfect husband has a fatal flaw. And if he can’t resist temptation under their own roof, what does he get up to when he travels?

Camille Kemble also has questions for Edward. Recently returned to Singapore, Camille is determined to resolve a family mystery. Amid a jumble of faded childhood memories, she keeps seeing Edward’s handsome face. And she wants to know why.

For one woman, the search for answers threatens everything she has. For another, it’s the key to all she lost. Both will follow his trail of secrets into the darkness to find the truth.

My Review

My first question when I started this novel was, what is a trailing spouse? As I soon discovered, a trailing spouse is a wife or partner who follows their significant other to anywhere in the world where they may may be working. What is most extraordinary in our modern society is that the trailing spouse has no rights. If their partner dies etc then they are given thirty days to leave the country, pretty harsh, I thought.

The trailing spouse in this instance is Amanda Bonham. Younger than her husband Edward, she is reduced to living a life of leisure and luxury, with her only responsibility to look after Edwards teenage daughter. I am sure we would all love such a lifestyle but Amanda’s life changes forever when her maid commits suicide and that’s when this book got very interesting.

Furniss used Amanda’s lack of genuine friends to highlight how many expats can feel totally isolated and what was particularly brilliant was the amount of free time it gave Amanda to mull things over, to build events into epic proportions, not least her suspicions concerning her husband. Throw in an errant and strange stepdaughter and Amanda definitely had issues.

What I liked was the way in which Furniss broadened the storyline, bringing in another expat, Camilla, and her search for the truth about the disappearance of her parents many years ago. I loved Camilla’s tenacious and determined nature to discover the truth and as her and Amanda’s stories developed I began to wonder if they had some kind of connection.

Furniss drip fed little clues and hints, intertwining Amanda and Camilla’s stories until I thought I had it all worked out and then she threw in a huge twist that took me completely by surprise. the ending was certainly very dramatic and not what I was expecting which I always like in a good domestic thriller.

Yet, The Trailing Spouse is more than a domestic thriller. The characters have depth, are believable, and in Amanda and Camilla’s case, extremely likeable. I loved reading about expat life in Singapore and indeed about Singapore itself and, coupled with the humid, warm climate, provided the perfect setting for the novel.

It is a novel that I found both addictive and immersive, and could quite easily have read in one sitting.

I would like to thank Lake Union Publishing for a copy of The Trailing Spouse to read and review and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Jo Furniss

After spending a decade as a broadcast journalist for the BBC, Jo Furniss gave up the glamour of night shifts to become a freelance writer and serial expatriate. Originally from the UK, she lived in Switzerland and Cameroon, and currently resides with her family in Singapore.

As a journalist, Jo has worked for numerous online outlets and magazines, including Monocle, The Economist, Business Traveller, Expat Living (Singapore) and Swiss News. Jo has also edited books for a Nobel Laureate and the Palace of the Sultan of Brunei. She has a Distinction in MA Professional Writing from Falmouth University. In 2015 she founded http://www.SWAGlit.com—an online literary magazine for writers in Singapore.

All the Little Children is Jo’s debut novel and she is working on a second domestic thriller to be released in 2018.

Connect with her via Facebook (/JoFurnissAuthor) and Twitter (@Jo_Furniss) or through her website: http://www.jofurniss.com/

Discover what my fellow bloggers thought by following the blogtour

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#Blogtour In Bloom by C J Skuse @CJSkuse @HQStories #SweetPea

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In Bloom by C J Skuse  HQ August 9th 2018

If only they knew the real truth. It should be my face on those front pages. My headlines. I did those things, not him. I just want to stand on that doorstep and scream it: IT WAS ME. ME. ME. ME. ME!

Rhiannon Lewis has successfully fooled the world and framed her cheating fianc Craig for the depraved and bloody killing spree she committed. She should be ecstatic that she’s free.

Except for one small problem. She’s pregnant with her ex lover’s child. The ex-lover she only recently chopped up and buried in her in-laws garden. And as much as Rhiannon wants to continue making her way through her kill lists, a small voice inside is trying to make her stop.

But can a killer’s urges ever really be curbed?

My review

I have to say I loved the cover of In Bloom, the beautiful flowers are very striking, but that is the only beautiful thing about this novel. As I opened the first few pages I was greeted by Rhiannon or Sweetpea attempting to deal with a dead body as loud knocks beat on her door, instantly immersing me in the crazed and somewhat warped world of Rhiannon.

She is not a character I warmed to and, as I read, I looked for glimpses of her past or indications of any redeeming features only to discover nothing. Rhiannon was a woman who loved to kill, who got her kicks from seeing those who had hurt others suffer. I did admire her cunning, her manipulative behaviour and her quick thinking intelligence in escaping detection.

I wouldn’t be spoiling it if I also mentioned that Rhiannon was also pregnant, and its her love hate relationship with the baby growing inside her that was particularly interesting. I was continually asking myself if perhaps she would change as she felt the baby move or indeed when it was born. Skuse was brilliant at portraying Rhiannon’s love hate relationship with the unborn baby, and it raised a lot of questions in my mind as to the type of mother she would be.

From the first page to the last, In Bloom moves at a furious pace and was at times quite exhausting too read. Yet I don’t think Skuse could have written it any other way, it wouldn’t have had the same intensity, the same feeling of being on a rollercoaster never knowing when the next stomach churning moment would happen. In someways it was reflective of Rhiannon’s mind as she constantly sought ways to deflect blame onto others as she planned her next move.

If you are expecting a believable plot then forget it, In Bloom is totally outrageous fun. It’s a book where you can immerse yourself in the mad world of Rhiannon and forget real life on the outside. It might not be for everyone, but if you can suspend reality, then In Bloom is pure and utter escapism, ending on a cliffhanger leaving you wanting more.

My only regret is that I hadn’t read Sweetpea, the first instalment in Rhiannon’s story, but I shall definitely be borrowing a copy from my local library. I just want Skuse to hurry up and write the next novel, if there is one as I want to know what happens next!

I would like to thank  HQ Stories for a copy of In Bloom and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

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C.J. SKUSE is the author of the Young Adult novels PRETTY BAD THINGS, ROCKOHOLIC and DEAD ROMANTIC (Chicken House), MONSTER and THE DEVIANTS (Mira Ink). She was born in 1980 in Weston-super-Mare, England. She has First Class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Children and, aside from writing novels lectures in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. C.J. first adult novel SWEETPEA for was published by HQ/HarperCollins in  April 2017.

C.J. loves Masterchef, Gummy Bears and murder sites. She hates carnivals, hard-boiled eggs and coughing. The movies Titanic, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Ruby Sparks were all probably based on her ideas; she just didn’t get to write them down in time. Before she dies, she would like to go to Japan, try clay-pigeon shooting and have Ryan Gosling present her with the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

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#Blogtour Sky’s The Limit by Janie Millman @ChezCastillon @DomePress #AVintageYear

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Sky’s The Limit by Janie Millman  The Dome Press  August 2nd 2108

I am absolutely delighted to be part of the blogtour for Janie Millman’s novel Sky’s The Limit. Janie has very kindly written a short piece for my blog where she shares her love for wine and the region of France in which he noe resides, and which provided the inspiration for her novel.

I do hope you enjoy it and it inspires you , like myself to read the novel.

Before Janie’s article here is a brief synopsis of Sky’s The Limit.

Sky is devastated when she finds that her husband is in love with someone else, even more
that it is her oldest friend, Nick. She has lost the two most important men in her life and
can’t ever trust either of them again.
To escape, she goes alone on a dream trip to Marrakesh and meets Gail, on a mission to
meet the father of her child, a man she loved but thought did not want her.
In Marrakesh, Sky and Gail both find unexpected joys – and surprises. For Sky, these lead to France, to a
beautiful Chateau and a family whose relationships seem as complicated as her own.
With a rich cast of characters, beautiful locations and an ending that will make you smile, this is the perfect
summer read.

 

A VINTAGE YEAR

I’ve always loved wine. I’ve never been much of a connoisseur but I’ve always known what I like to drink. I like a dry white, a fresh rose, a fruity red – and I like fizz, in fact I especially like fizz.

Living ten minutes from St Emilion and forty minutes from Bordeaux, in what is arguably one of the most famous wine regions in the world, you do tend to pick up a few things along the way and my knowledge of wine has improved vastly since living here.

I have swirled and gurgled and swallowed and spat – well actually I never really do much of the spitting! I have been on numerous tastings, visited the large and the not so large chateaus and sampled some of the best and some of the worst the area has to offer.

We are lucky to include amongst our friends a couple of chateau owners, an oenologist and a flying wine maker – no that really is his title! It is fascinating to learn how the wine is made, how it is blended, what percentage of which grape is used and why; what makes a vintage year… It is a magical mix between science and nature.

My hometown of Castillon La Bataille is surrounded by vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see, and I became intrigued by the idea of the wine business passing down the generations. I wondered how they kept up with the competition, what marked out a truly great wine. I tried to imagine the conversations around the dinner table, the differing opinions, the various roles of the family members. I so wished I could be a fly on the wall but the next best thing was to write about it so that’s what I decided to do.

There was one chateau in particular that always caught my eye. It was on the road to St Emilion, it certainly wasn’t the grandest but it had a certain magic about it, a certain fairy like quality and it became Chateau Fontaine in Sky’s The Limit.

I very much doubt that it has a young girl cartwheeling on the front lawn watched by a small piglet or an elf on a unicycle but there may well be a rather handsome owner striding between his army of vines. I hope so.

I’ve taken endless photographs but I’ve never actually been inside. I’m not sure that I really want to because it may spoil the magic for me. I can picture this chateau so vividly in my imagination so I’m not sure that I want to see the reality.

I also learned that, like any other commerce, the wine trade has a murky side. I’ve heard rumours and whispers of secret scams, scandals, bribery and corruption.

Frankly I always love hearing about the seedier side of life, it fascinates me and I wanted to explore this further and write about this darker side of the wine business.

I am so lucky to be living here. I’ve fallen in love with the grace and charm of the area and the gentle pace of life. I adore the food, the drink, and of course the markets. I wanted to give my readers a small slice of South West France with all that it has to offer.

I would to thank The Dome Press for a copy of Sky’s The Limit to read and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Janie Millman Headshot

Janie Millman is an actress, writer and co-owner of Chez Castillon.
She met Mickey, her husband, playing romantic leads in a summer season of comedies at The Little Theatre, Sheringham, on the Norfolk coast. Both actors for more than twenty years, their roles have ranged from Ninja Turtles, to acting in Olivier Award-winning stage productions and working on-screen with Hollywood stars.
Although still acting, Janie is now concentrating on writing. Her debut novel, Life’s A Drag, was published first in July 2015 by Accent Press and went on to receive highly acclaimed reviews.
It was then rebranded by The Dome Press and republished in February 2017.
Janie’s next book with The Dome Press, Sky’s the Limit, will be published in August 2018.

Twitter: @ChezCastillon
Website: http://www.chez-castillon.com

If you enjoyed Janie’s article follow the rest of the blogtour to discover what my fellow bloggers thought about her novel Sky’s The Limit.

Sky's the Limit Blog Tour Poster

#Blogtour The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway by Rhys Thomas @rhysthomashello @Wildfirebks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Unlikely Heroics Cover

The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway by Rhys Thomas  Wildfire Books  August 9th 2018

This is no ordinary love story and Sam is no typical hero…but he is a hero.
Sam Holloway has survived the worst that life can throw at you. But he’s not
really living. His meticulous routines keep everything nice and safe – with just one
exception…
Three nights a week, Sam dons his superhero costume and patrols the streets. It
makes him feel invincible – but his unlikely heroics are getting him into some
sticky, and increasingly dangerous, situations.
Then a girl comes into his life, and his ordered world is thrown into chaos … and
now Sam needs to decide whether he can be brave enough to finally take off the
mask.
Both hilarious and heart-warming, this is a story about love, loneliness, grief, and
the life-changing power of kindness.

My review

We all love a superhero and San Holloway was no exception, except Sam was a superhero with a difference. Sam had no superpowers and his myriad of natty gadgets were bought from EBay and Amazon, his brushes with the forces of evil both funny and endearing. In fact Sam was totally endearing throughout, almost childlike at times as he fought to control the events around him, and envelop him in his safe cocoon that prevented grief and things past from swamping him. I loved his naivety when faced with his growing love for Sarah, his inability to recognise or ignore his emotions and let love in.

When Sam finally revealed the reasons for is present life I could not help but feel huge sorrow, tinged with a small bit of frustration at Sam’s present life, at the opportunities and his inability to live the life that every twenty odd year old should live. I loved the way in which Thomas used Sarah and the other characters within the novel to slowly chip away at Sam’s armour, to break the outer shell and allow Sam to try and reconcile the past, to deal with his emotions and try and move on.

Whilst many characters in the novel chose drugs or alcohol as their addiction Sam’s superhero addiction was both funny and moving. It was a persona that allowed Sam to escape the everyday mundanity of life, not least his emotions. I loved his fearlessness as his nightly escapades became more dangerous and he became somehow braver in his pursuit for justice, driven by his inner demons. I felt, that at times he was hurtling towards self destruction, pushing the boundaries, yet I admired his attempts to right the wrongs of a modern day society.

The love story element was poignant and at times very emotive and never descended into what I would call  mush, Thomas portraying two life wounded characters who struggled to break away from the past and let love in. All I wanted was them to realise their love and to have a happy ending, and it certainly made me turn the pages just that little bit quicker to find out if they really do have that happy ending!

I particularly admired the balance Thomas achieved between the serious and the humorous, never plunging the novel into total despair, even if some of its themes are not not necessarily happy ones.

It is a novel of loneliness, grief and love and the ability that we have in all of us to reconcile the past events, move on and find happiness. It is a novel that I loved, that made me laugh and smile and brought a tear to my eyes, whilst introducing to the most wonderful character, Sam Holloway. It is a novel that will stay with me for a long time.

I would like to thank Wildfire Books for a copy of the novel to read and review and toe Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Rhys Thomas Author Picture

Rhys Thomas lives in Cardiff with his long-term girlfriend and two cats, Henry VIII
and Sheldon Tilllikum Cooper.

FINAL Unlikely Heroics Blog Tour Poster

#Blogtour Bad by Chloe Esposito @ChloeJEsposito @MichaelJBooks @BTUkatie

Bad by Chloe Esposito  Michael Joseph  July 26th 2018
She stole the life she wanted. Now someone wants to steal it back . . . 

Alvie Knightly may be waking up in the Ritz, but her life is no bed of roses.

Firstly, she has the mother of all hangovers.

Secondly, her beautiful, spoiled twin sister Beth has just been found dead in Sicily – and the police want Alvie for questioning.

And thirdly, Alvie’s hot new boyfriend has vanished with every penny of the millions they stole from Beth.

But he picked the wrong girl to mess with.

Alvie will pursue her ex to Rome in a game of cat and mouse that only one of them can survive.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned . . .
But can Alvie get revenge before her crimes catch up with her?

My review

Just when I thought I had escaped the clutches of Alvie in Mad, she reappeared in Bad, and I did wonder if her antics would be quite as thrilling and outlandish as they were in Mad.

I needn’t have worried! In the more than capable hands of Chloe Esposito, Alvie was just as outrageous, and yes even worse than in Mad. Now if you haven’t read Mad, do not worry as the opening chapter recaps everything that happened, before picking up where Mad left off. Alvie’s opening scene, couldn’t have summed her up better, as she vomited in the toilet of her Ritz hotel bathroom, after drinking copious amounts of alcohol, drowning her sorrows after her supposed love interest Nino disappeared with all her money.

Things take a turn for the worst when her twin sisters body is found and her option of an alternative identity thrown out the window.  Never one for sitting down and doing nothing Alvie took me on a madcap journey across Europe as she hunted both Nino and her money.

Because Bad is the second part of a trilogy it allowed Esposito to develop and reveal more of Alvie’s character. She gave us glimpses of her past, her difficult relationship with her Mum and twin sister, perhaps a clue to the person she was now. Some of it made you feel sorry for her, but that didn’t last long as her behaviour made me laugh and exclaim in disbelief. I loved her inability to be practical, to think more of her appearance, of her need for expensive designer clothes and total superficiality. I was continually looking for a chink in her behaviour, in her selfishness, and perhaps a glimpse of a nicer person but no chink was forthcoming.

Yet, this was the whole point, here was a character running amok, every action more outrageous than the next, making me laugh out loud and wondering just what she would do next.

Esposito’s narrative was as fast and furious as Alvie, I never knew just what was going to happen next and when things did happen it was never predictable, always a surprise.

Bad is certainly not a book for the fainthearted, Esposito never skimped on violence, sex and drugs and it may not be to every readers liking, happily I loved it. I was moving house at the time, and Bad was perfect escapism, taking me faraway from packing boxes and numerous trips to the local tip!

It is the perfect summer beach read and I cannot wait for the final installment.

I would like to thank Michael Joseph for a copy of Bad to read and review and to Katie Ashworth for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Image result for chloe esposito author

Chloé Esposito is from Cheltenham and now lives in London. She has a BA and MA in English from Oxford University, where her dissertation focused on 19th-century feminist writers. She has been a senior management consultant, an English teacher at two of the UK’s top private schools and a fashion stylist at Condé Nast. She is a graduate of the Faber Academy and is now writing full-time.
Correct Bad Blog Tour

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