Sunday 25 February 2018

#Blog Tour - The Last Laugh - Tracy Bloom

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for The Last Laugh by Tracy Bloom today. I’ve never read anything by Tracy before but after reading a lot of crime/psychological thrillers I thought it was time for a chance of genre. Once I read the blurb I decided that this could be just the book I was looking for. . .  and I wasn’t wrong.

Imagine finding out that you’re terminally ill and when you go to your husband’s office to share the devastating news you find him in a compromising position with a leggy, blonde colleague. That’s exactly what happens to Jenny. Throw into the mix two teenage children, a father with dementia, a taxing mother, a brother who rarely makes an appearance and a job at the local care home and you’ve got Jenny’s life.

You’d think that Jenny would be wallowing around in self-pity, but with some guidance from Maureen, a resident at the care home where she works, she does some soul searching and makes an important decision.

Through flashbacks to 1996 we find out how Jenny met and fell in love with husband Mark. Life was obviously very different for Jenny then and she has lots of fond memories of that time in her life which is why she wants to reconnect with long lost friends.

This is the first book I’ve read by Tracy Bloom and I can honestly say that I was impressed with her writing style. The fact that she can take a sensitive subject like cancer and produce a story that’s sprinkled with humour and written with great sensitivity, shows just what a talented writer she is. I quickly warmed to Jenny’s character and found that as I was reading I was putting myself in her shoes and asking what I would do if I was in her position.  

The Last Laugh is one of those books that will make you take stock of your own life. It’s thought-provoking, funny and poignant all at the same time. If you’re looking for something a little different to read then I’d recommend that you give this little beauty a try.

Check out the rest of the blog tour with these fabulous blogs


With kind thanks to Kim Nash at Bookouture for the review copy.

Saturday 24 February 2018

The Hippo Hangs Out . . . . with Heide Goody & Iain Grant

Today I'm chatting with not one, but two authors. Heide Goody and Iain Grant have written several books together and I'm thrilled to welcome them both to The Hippo. 

Before I go any further I'd just like to wish Heide and Iain a belated happy publication day. Their latest book, A Spell in the Country, was published yesterday and I hope that you both celebrated in style!

Now that I’ve mentioned their new book why don’t I start by telling you all about that.


Dee is a Good Witch but she wonders if she could be a better witch.
She wonders if there’s more to life than Disney movie marathons, eating a whole box of chocolates for dinner and brewing up potions in her bathtub. So when she’s offered a chance to go on a personal development course in the English countryside, she packs her bags, says goodbye to the Shelter for Unloved Animals charity shop and sets a course for self-improvement.

Caroline isn’t just a Good Witch, she’s a fricking awesome witch.
She likes to find the easy path through life: what her good looks can’t get for her, a few magic charms can. But she’s bored of being a waitress and needs something different in her life. So when a one night stand offers her a place on an all-expenses-paid residential course in a big old country house, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

Jenny is a Wicked Witch. She just wishes she wasn’t.
On her fifteenth birthday, she got her first wart, her own imp and a Celine Dion CD. She still has the imp. She also has a barely controllable urge to eat human children which is socially awkward to say the least and not made any easier when a teenager on the run turns to her for help. With gangsters and bent cops on their trail, Jenny needs to find a place outside the city where they can lay low for a while.

For very different reasons, three very different witches end up on the same training course and land in a whole lot of trouble when they discover that there’s a reason why their free country break sounds too good to be true. Foul-mouthed imps, wererats, naked gardeners, tree monsters, ghosts and stampeding donkeys abound in a tale about discovering your inner witch.

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I absolutely love the sound of this book (as well as their others) and I’m pretty sure that at least one of them will be finding their way onto my kindle very soon!

I think it’s time that I introduced you to this writing duo, don’t you?

Photo courtesy of Heide Goody & Iain Grant

Heide Goody is the stupid one (her words, not mine!) in the writing partnership and Iain Grant is the sensible one. Together, they are the authors of seven novels, two short story collections and a novella. 

The ‘Clovenhoof’ series (in which Satan loses his job and has to move to Birmingham) has recently been optioned by a Hollywood production company. 

Heide and Iain are both married, but not to each other.

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Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
We briefly toyed with the idea of combining our surnames and becoming a single person called Grant Goody (in the style of Grant Naylor, which is the combined surnames of Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, who wrote Red Dwarf)

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Interesting? Or irritating? I have a terrible propensity to use the entirely ungrammatical phrases ‘was stood’ and ‘was sat’. Fortunately, that’s what editors and proof-readers are for. At the other end of the scale, I do like to be an absolute bloody pedant and use some words to mean what they should mean. When I write, something is only ‘terrific’ if it’s frightening and something is only ‘awful’ if it fill a person with awe. In everyday conversation, I enjoy those moments when I can respond to someone’s comments with ‘Wow, that’s incredible. Really fantastic’ and they think I’m impressed but I’m just saying they’re lying. Small pleasures. Small pedantic pleasures.

Do you often hear from your readers and what do they say?
We spend a lot of time interacting with readers, especially on Facebook, and quite often in real life. It would be very unusual to spend a day without chatting with some of them. Feedback about the books tends to be very positive. We’ve had several people tell us that the humour in our books has helped them through a difficult time in their lives, which is incredible and very touching.

What’s your favourite motivational phrase?
Not a phrase but a quote I hold to be utterly true. From the late Terry Pratchett: “If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.”

What do you think is more important: characters or plot?
I think that very much depends on the story you are telling. Characters are very important but you can have books with almost no character development in them. In my day job, I’m a teacher and I got a class to do some personality analysis of Sherlock Holmes. In the films and TV series he’s brimming over with character. In the original stories? He’s an almost entirely blank slate. The lovely thing about character is that you can get the reader to fill any gaps with their own imagination and that’s what the reading public have done with Sherlock Holmes. Heide and I rarely physically describe characters in our books and I think that’s mostly because YOUR mental image of the character is always going to be better than the one we put on the page.

If you could spend time with a character from your book who would it be and why?
What would you get up to? Jeremy Clovenhoof is the star of our Clovenhoof series of books. He is Satan, made redundant from Hell and sent to live in suburbia. The reason it would be fun to hang out with him is that he will always do the Thing That Should Not Be Done.

Whenever I think of Satan, which admittedly isn’t very often, I always imagine him with a pitchfork, so now I’m curious as to whether he was allowed to take it with him when he was made redundant? 🤔 That alone has got to be a good enough reason for adding these wonderful sounding books to my TBR! 😉

Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?
I love to sew, in fact I love to make things. If I can find an excuse to use that in the bookish world then I am in heaven. I made a monk’s habit for the launch of Hellzapoppin’, I set up a drop-in halo-making bench for the launch of Pigeonwings, I made a fake tentacle that we photographed in the canals of Birmingham for Oddjobs. Right now I am about to start work on a demonic rag doll for Oddjobs 2: this time it’s personnel.

If you were an animal in the zoo what would you be and why?
Writers are extremely nosy. It would be cool to be a giraffe so that you could have a good old snoop over high walls. And whack people with my nobbly horns.

You can find out more about Heide and Ian, their books and connect with them using the links below:

I’d like to thank Heide and Iain for stopping by today and hanging out with me, it’s been great to meet you both. I’d also like to wish you both lots of success with A Spell in the Country.  😉