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Monday, 20 August 2018

The Rave - Nicky Black

The Rave is a brutal and accurate portrayal of life in the late 1980's which makes for an addictive read.

It's said that life up north is grim and that's exactly how it's portrayed in The Rave. With high unemployment, drugs, dodgy dealing and raves - The Valley Park Estate has a diverse community of characters.

Tommy Collins certainly hasn't had it easy, but he's one of the few who is looking to better himself, earn himself some money and get away from the estate with his wife and young daughter. Organising raves is the way forward in Tommy's eyes but there's always going to be someone else who wants a piece of the action and has ulterior motives for wanting to be involved.

DCI Peach is a single parent to Sally and when he finds himself praying for his daughter's life he holds Tommy personally responsible and is hell-bent on making him pay for what he's sure is Tommy's fault.

Paul Smart is the top-dog on the estate and everyone knows that you don't mess with him so why does Tommy get involved way over his head with this despicable character?

This isn't a depressing and bleak tale though, far from it. It's a fascinating glimpse into life during a challenging era that took me through a whole host of emotions. Nicky Black has a wonderful way with words and it almost felt like I was watching a fly on the wall documentary, following the lives of the residents of the estate, experiencing the highs, as well as the lows, but unable to look away when the going got tough.

The Rave is a gritty read that pulls no punches and had me completely hooked from the first page.

With kind thanks to author NIcky Black for the review copy.

Friday, 10 August 2018

#BlogTour - The Promise - Michelle Vernal

I'm delighted to be one of today's stop on the blog tour for The Promise by Michelle Vernal. Despite having never read anything by this author before, as soon as I read the blurb I knew that it sounded like a book that I would enjoy, I just didn't realise how much.

Isabel Stark is back-packing in New Zealand when she witnesses a car accident. Before the car's only occupant, Ginny Havelock, takes her last breath she makes Isabel promise to pass on a message to someone she refers to only as Constance. Feeling a sense of duty along with a mild dose of curiosity, Isabel attends Ginny's funeral before heading back home to the UK.

Once she's home, she can't get Ginny and the promise she made her out of her head so she decides to see if she can track down Constance. She knows that it's a long shot but she's determined to try so, armed with the information she gleaned at Ginny's funeral, she head's off to the Isle of Wight.

Isabel's journey to find Constance is a beautifully written and touching tale that slips back in time to a love story set in World War Two cleverly combined with Isabel's own journey of self-discovery. The author did a brilliant job of highlighting how lonely the elderly can be and how easily this problem can be resolved with a little companionship and care. I think Constance was my favourite character overall, she was vibrant and forthright despite having a very sad tale to tell.

I fell in love with the characters in this wonderful book, they were written so well that they felt real and I was totally invested in their story. I'm a huge fan of dual-time novels and this one was exceptional. I've been to the Isle of Wight a few times over the years and the descriptions of the island transported me right back there, complete with the smell of the sea air.

The Promise is an uplifting and touching story that I didn't want to end and I will definitely be hunting down Michelle Vernal's other books to read in the future.

                                                         Author bio

Photo courtesy of Michelle Vernal

Michelle Vernal is a Harper Collins author who loves a happy ending. She lives with her husband, their two boys and a needy three-legged black cat in Christchurch, New Zealand. She’s partial to a glass of wine, loves a cheese scone and has recently taken up yoga—a sight to behold indeed. She is a freelance writer for a Canterbury lifestyle magazine who is currently working on her seventh novel. Michelle’s a firm believer in happy endings, and all of her stories are written with humour and warmth.

You can find out more about Michelle, her books and connect with her using the links below:

You can also check out the other fantastic blogs on the tour

With kind thanks to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for my review copy and my slot on the blog tour.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Blog Blitz - The Stranger Within - Tara Lyons

I'm delighted to be one of several blogs kicking off the blog blitz for The Stranger Within by Tara Lyons on publication day.

I love DI Denis Hamilton and I was really looking forward to hooking up with him again in this, the fourth book in a series that just gets better and better with each book.

A face from Hamilton's past is back and this time the case forces him to examine parts of his life that he would rather forget. The pressure is really ramped up when one of his colleagues is kidnapped and he's told he has just twenty-four hours to find them but with a list of multiple places to look will he find the right place before time runs out?

It's abundantly clear that the author has thoroughly researched the mental health issues raised in the book and she deals with them with such an understanding that I felt a genuine empathy for the killer. I know that there's never  a good reason to kill someone, but as I read the flashback parts of the story I could see just why things turned out the way they did.

I really enjoyed finding out more about Hamilton as well. He's a character who has his own demons but he battles through and is always focused on his job, sometimes to the detriment of his wife and although they speak, it never seems to be about the important stuff.

The Stranger Within is a breathtakingly tense and fast paced thriller that left me feeling like I'd lost a friend as I read the final words. Although it's book four of a series, I think that it could easily be read as a stand-alone but you'd be missing out on some amazing books, so I would definitely add the previous three little beauties to your TBR. *Whispers: You can buy all three in a box set here* I won't tell anyone, I promise!  😉

                                                           Author bio

Photo courtesy of Tara Lyons

Tara is a crime/psychological thriller author from London, UK. Turning 30 in 2015 propelled her to fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. She studied English Literature at Brunel University and was an Assistant Editor for an in-house magazine for eight years. 

In the Shadows is the author's solo debut novel published in March 2016, which later went on to be republished by Bloodhound Books after signing a contract with them in 2017. She has also co-written with New York Times bestselling author, M.A Comley - The Caller and Web of Deceit.

When she's not writing, Tara can be found at a local soft-play activity centre, bowling alley, trampoline park or cinema with her young, energetic son. 

You can follow the rest of the Blog Blitz with these fantastic blogs.

With kind thanks to Bloodhound Books and NetGalley for my review copy.

Monday, 30 July 2018

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - Gina Kirkham

Mavis Upton is one of the most hilarious and endearing characters I've ever had the privilege to 'meet' and after having read Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong (you can read my review here) I couldn't wait to find out what she was going to get up to next.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is packed full of humour as we pick up with Mavis where we left her at the end of Handcuffs. She's busy juggling planning her wedding to her beloved Joe, dealing with her teenage daughter Ella, getting reacquainted with her long-lost father as well as having to try and catch a flasher who has a penchant for Krispy Kreme doughnuts!

But it's not all sunshine and roses in Mavis's life. Alongside the hilarity of her bumbling colleague Petey managing to lock himself in the back of the police van, there are the poignant moments where she has to deal with her dad's dementia. Gina Kirkham deals with this sensitive issue with a deft touch and as well as showing the sad reality of watching someone you love slowly disappear in front of you, she also brings a touching sense of mirth to it as well, which is so very true to life with this cruel condition.

I love Gina's writing style, as she manages to convey each and every anecdote in such a way that I feel as though I'm right there with the characters and at one point I was literally in amongst them all. There I was strutting my stuff in a hippo costume along with Mavis and her friends on her hen night, the tears were literally streaming down my face as I read that particular incident!

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is based on the authors real life experiences, although there are some changes for artistic licence purposes, and Gina has a real talent for storytelling. I do hope that there will be more from Mavis/Gina as I feel that we have become great friends and as a biscuit dunker I need to know which are the best ones to buy on my next food shop.

If you're looking for something to add a little sparkle to your day then I would definitely recommend you grab yourself a copy of this delightful book and get to know the captivating characters inside.

With kind thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Book Tours and Urbane Publications for the review copy.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

The Hippo Hands Over . . . . to Jimmy Misfit

Today I'm excited to be handing over to Jimmy Misfit, who, according to his website is a writer, author, storyteller and a parakeet aficionado. I can already tell that this is going to be fun!

Let's kick things off with an introduction and a bit about Jimmy's latest book The Silliest Stories Out of Bustleburg.

Photo courtesy of Jimmy Misfit

As a child, Jimmy Misfit wrote soap-operatic letters on motel stationery and left them for the housekeepers to read. This ended when his mother informed Jimmy that heiresses saying goodbye to their husbands forever before jetting off to South America rarely stayed at Travelodge, that they likely didn’t write in green magic marker, and that if motel housekeepers were his target audience, he needed to be much less messy so they’d have time to read.

Jimmy later attended George Washington University, which very generously awarded him a bachelor’s in American Literature. Under other aliases, Jimmy has been published in SNReview, Nuvein, Help: The Preditors and Editors Anthology, and in the anthology, Foolish Hearts (Cleis Press, 2014). Inspired by David Sedaris and Dr. Seuss, Jimmy is now an author of “ridicu-lit” fiction, and his book, The Silliest Stories Out of Bustleburg: America’s Worst City is a 2018 release from JMS Books.

Jimmy currently lives in Houston, Texas. Also, Jimmy Misfit is not his real name. You probably knew that.

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The Simpsons’ Springfield may be horrible, but here’s an invitation to explore a far more dreadful community.

Welcome to Bustleburg, a dying American metropolis where the mayor has stolen the last eleven elections and polluting vampire industrialists hope to blot out the sun.

The local televangelist takes credit for hurricanes through his prayer attacks, a media giant that never tells the truth just bought the TV station, and with the fire department on strike, blazes are everywhere.

Prominent citizens of Bustleburg include mafia don Boss Vostic, who buries his victims in the only part of town where trees are legal, ditzy social climber Mauve Mertz whose fashion fiasco might get her exiled, and Queen Zina, the mystical wife of the mayor and possibly the source of all the city’s woes.

You’ll never enjoy misery so much as your visit to Bustleburg.

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Hello dear Readers: The following conversation between two major characters in The Silliest Stories Out of Bustleburg was secretly recorded by BustleLeaks.  What did alleged crime kingpin, Boris Vostic, and his rival, the corrupt Mayor Bromley Kakisto, have to say to one another? 

Mayor Kakisto:  Gee, thanks for meeting me, Mr. Vostic.  That’s a nice hat, by the way.  Now then, I’m supposed to ask you to stop doing all those illegal things you keep doing.  Worst of all, stealing all the syrup from the big French Toast Social.  

Boris Vostic:  Really?  The missing syrup is “worst of all?”

Kakisto:  Well…along with arson, racketeering, and distribution of controlled substances. 

Boris:  When cake is a controlled substance, I’m not certain I am the problem.  

Kakisto:  This is Bustleburg.  Reverend Maple believes if we ban sugar, we won’t have problems with drugs because people will be so busy sneaking in cookies. 

Boris:  So if someone were, hypothetically, dealing in smuggled cookies they would be doing everyone a favor? 

Kakisto:  Right!  Wait…no. Cake and cookies and, well, everything delicious, is reserved for members of Reverend Maple’s church. 

Boris:  Is that accurate?  As long as you go to his church, you can have cake?  

Kakisto:  Yes.  Well.  As long as you donate a few thousand a month. Then you get enough church points to go to parties!   So much fun.  And his French Toast Social would have been perfect if someone hadn’t run off with all the syrup!

Boris:  So here’s the thing, Mayor Kakisto, the Reverend thinks he controls who can have sugar in this town and who cannot, but you and I know that’s not true.  What do you see in this photo?

Kakisto:  Why that’s a box of your illegal HeavenDream cream-filled chocolate snack cakes.  

Boris:  And now here’s the full photo of you.  You with that box of snack cakes.  And here’s a recording of you saying you’ll hand people those snack cakes if they vote for you.

Kakisto:  Reverend Maple will have my head!  Okay, Vostic, what do you want?

Boris:  Stop the police, and the church, and the church police from seizing my snack cakes.  

Kakisto:  That’s all?

Boris:  And perform the chicken dance at my niece’s birthday party tomorrow.

Kakisto:  You fiend!  You won’t get away with this, Vost—what are you doing?

Boris:  Measuring you for your chicken costume.   You know, mayor, keep up the good work, and you may win my vote again…

To read more of the nefarious Bustleburg underworld, check out the book here or download the free story.  The people of Bustleburg can’t wait to meet you!

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I've read some reviews for The Silliest Stories Out of Bustleburg and it sounds like it's packed full of interesting characters and I think I might need to pay a little visit myself! 😉

You can find out more about Jimmy Misfit and connect with him using the links below:

Amazon UK
Amazon US

I'd like to thank Jimmy for taking the time to stop by today and for giving us a peek into the character's lives in Bustleburg.