Extract from Melody Bittersweet and The Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency

So today is Halloween and the perfect time for ghost stories and all other spooky things.  It’s also the perfect time to post an extract from this brilliant book, the extract I got a while back and forgot about because life got in the way. Oops!  However, what could be better timed for today than reading this and deciding that you have to read the rest of this book today, THE perfect day for a ghostbusting story. So read on, buy, devour and most of all, enjoy!

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An absolutely hilarious, totally entertaining, spookily sexy read that you won’t be able to put down!

Life’s tricky for Melody Bittersweet. She’s single, she’s addicted to sugar and super heroes, her family are officially bonkers and … she sees dead people. Is it any wonder no-one’s swiping right on Tinder? 

Waking up lonely on her twenty-seventh birthday, Melody finally snaps. She can’t carry on basing all of her life decisions on the advice of her magic 8 ball; things havegot to change. 

Fast forward two months, and she’s now the proud proprietor of her very own ghostbusting agency – kind of like in the movies but without the dodgy white jumpsuits. She’s also flirting with her ex Leo Dark, fraternising with her sexy enemy in alleyways, and she’s somehow ended up with a pug called Lestat. 

Life just went from dull to dynamite and it’s showing no sign of slowing up anytime soon. Melody’s been hired to clear Scarborough House of its incumbent ghosts, there’s the small matter of a murder to solve, and then there are the two very handsome, totally inappropriate men hoping to distract her from the job… 

Welcome to Chapelwick, home of the brand new and hilarious Girls Ghostbusting Agency series, where things really do go bump in the night. 

UK: http://amzn.to/1TCU5Q7

US: http://amzn.to/1Z2CQpB

 

Extract:  

Chapter One

So, what do you do with your spare time, Melody?’

I look my date square in his pretty brown eyes and lie to him. ‘Oh, you know. The usual.’ I shrug to convey how incredibly normal I am. ‘I read a lot . . . Go to the movies. That kind of thing.’

I watch Lenny digest my words, and breathe a sigh of relief when his eyes brighten.

‘Which genre?’

‘Movies or books?’ I ask, stalling for time because, in truth, I don’t get much in the way of spare time to do either.

‘Movies. Action or romance? No, let me guess.’ He narrows his eyes and studies me intently. ‘You look like a sucker for a rom-com.’

‘Do I?’ I’m genuinely surprised. I’m five foot three and look more like Wednesday Addams than a Disney princess. Maybe Wednesday Addams is over-egging it, but you get the idea; I’m brunette and my dress sense errs on the side of edgy. I don’t think anyone has ever looked at me and thought whimsy. Maybe Lenny sees something everyone else has missed, me included. I quite like that idea, mainly because everyone who knows my family has a head full of preconceptions about me, based on the fact that my family are all crackers.

Four Weddings?’ He shrugs hopefully.

I nod, not mentioning that the only part of that particular movie I enjoyed was the funeral.

The Holiday?’

Again, I try to look interested and hold my tongue, because I’m sure he doesn’t want to hear that I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than ever watch an over-optimistic Kate Winslet drag some old guy around a swimming pool again.

I’m relieved when the bill arrives and we can get out of there, because so far Lenny has turned out to be a pretty stellar guy and somehow I’ve managed to convince him that I walk on the right side of the tracks. Maybe this time, things will be different.

Lenny pulls his dull, salesman’s saloon into the cobbled cartway beside my building and kills the engine. I don’t mind dull. In fact, my life could really use a bit of dull right now, so I shoot him my most seductive smile, cross my fingers that my mother will be in bed, and invite him in for coffee.

Oh, just when it had all been going so well. Why couldn’t I have just given him a goodnight kiss, with maybe the smallest hint of tongue as a promise, then sent him on his way? He’d have called for a second date, I’m sure of it.

But no. I got greedy, pulled him by the hand through the dark back door, placing my finger against my lips to signal he should be quiet as we tip-toed past my mother’s apartment and up the old wooden staircase to my place.

He rests his hand on my waist as I turn the key, and a small thrill shoots down my back. Look at me, winning at this being-an-adult thing today! Dinner with an attractive man, sparkling conversation, and now back to mine for coffee . . . and maybe even a little fooling around. It’s not that I’m a virgin or anything, but it would be fair to call my love life patchy of late. By ‘of late’ I mean the last two years, ever since Leo Dark and I called things off. Well, by Leo and I, I mean Leo called things off, citing conflict of interests. Ha. Given that he was referring to the fact that my mad-as-a-bag-of-cats family are the only other psychics in town besides him, he was, at least in part, right.

But enough of Leo and my lamentable love life. Right now, all I want is for Lenny not to know anything at all about my peculiar family, to keep seeing me as a cool, regular, completely normal girl, and then to kiss me.

‘You remind me of Clara Oswald,’ Lenny whispers behind me at the top of the stairs. ‘All big brown eyes and clever one-liners. It’s very sexy.’

Lord, I think he’s just brushed a kiss against the back of my neck! My door sticks sometimes so I shoulder it open, aiming for firm and graceful but, I fear, ending up looking more like a burly police SWAT guy ramming it down. Thankfully, Lenny seems to take it in his stride and follows me into my apartment. Then I flick on the table lamp only to discover that my mother is standing on my coffee table in a too-short, too-sheer, baby-blue negligee with her arms raised towards the ceiling and her head thrown back.

‘Shit!’ Lenny swears down my ear, clearly startled. He isn’t to blame. My mother’s a striking woman, ballerina-tall and slender with silver hair that falls in waves well beyond her shoulder blades. It isn’t grey. It’s been pure silver since the day she was born, and right now she looks as if she’s just been freshly crucified on my coffee table.

I sigh as I drop my bag down by the lamp. So much for me being normal.

‘Err, mother?’

Slowly, she takes several heaving breaths and opens her eyes, changing from crazy lady to almost normal human lady. She stares at us.

‘For God’s sake, Melody,’ she grumbles, taking her hands from above her head and planting them on her hips. ‘I almost had the connection then. He’s hiding out in the loft, I’m sure of it.’

I risk a glance over my shoulder at Lenny, who sure isn’t kissing my neck anymore.

He lifts his eyebrows at me, a silent ‘what the hell?’ and then looks away when my mother beckons to him like a siren luring a fisherman onto the rocks.

‘Your hand, please, young man.’

‘No!’ I almost yell, but Lenny is already across the room with his hand out to help her down. My mother eyes me slyly as she steps from the table, keeping a firm hold of Lenny’s hand.

‘Long lifeline,’ she murmurs, tracing her red talon across Lenny’s palm.

‘Mother,’ I warn, but my somber, cautionary tone falls on her selectively deaf ears. I expected nothing else, because she’s pulled this trick before. Admittedly, the standing-on-the-table thing is a new twist, but she’s got form in scoping out my prospective boyfriends to make sure they’ll fit in with our screwball family from the outset. Not that her romantic gauge is something to put any stock in; Leo passed her tests with flying colours and look how that ended up. I got my heart broken and he got a spot on morning TV as the resident psychic. Where’s the justice in that?

Look, we may as well get the clanky old skeleton out of the family closet early on here, people. It’s going to come out sooner or later, and despite my attempts to pull the wool over Lenny’s eyes, there’s never any running away from this thing for long.

My name’s Melody Bittersweet, and I see dead people.

It’s not only me. I’m just the latest in a long line of Bittersweets to have the gift, or the curse, depending on how you look at it. My family has long since celebrated our weirdness; hence the well-established presence of our family business, Blithe Spirits, on Chapelwick High Street. We’ve likely been here longer than the actual chapel at the far end of the street. That’s probably why, by and large, we’re accepted by the residents of the town, in a ‘they’re a bunch of eccentrics, but they’re our bunch of eccentrics,’ kind of way. What began as a tiny, mullion-windowed, one-room shop has spread out along the entire row over the last two hundred years; we now own a run of three terraced properties haphazardly knocked into one, big, rambling place that is both business and home to not only me, but also to my mother, Silvana, and her mother, Dicey. Gran’s name isn’t actually Dicey, it’s Paradise, officially, but she’s gone by Dicey ever since she met my Grandpa Duke on her fifteenth birthday and he wrote Dicey and Duke inside a chalk heart on the back wall of the building. He may as well have written it on her own racing heart.

‘Silvana!’

Speak of the devil. Does no one go to bed around here?

I open my door to find Gran on the threshold with her hand raised, poised to knock. I guess I should be glad she’s slightly more respectably dressed, if a floor-length, purple shot-silk kimono, bearing huge technicolor dragons could be considered as such. Her usually pin-curled gold hair is piled elegantly on her head and she wears a slash of fire-engine-scarlet lipstick for good measure. Most people couldn’t carry the look off, but thanks to her poise, confidence and couldn’t-care-less attitude, Grandma Dicey wears it with artful success. She glides past me without invitation and gazes at my mother and Lenny, who are still hand-in-hand on the rug.

God.

First thing tomorrow morning, I swear, I’m going to look for a new place to live, somewhere, anywhere, that is not in the same building as my mother and my gran. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a charming old place and I love my family dearly. It’s not even as if I don’t have my own space here, because, theoretically at least, I do. Mum and Gran have the ground floor apartment behind Blithe Spirits, and I have the smaller flat upstairs, at the back. In lots of ways this makes me fortunate; I get to have a nice little home of my own and stay close to my family. It would all be fine and dandy, were it not for the fact that my family are officially bonkers and liable to come up and let themselves into my flat – using the spare key I gave them for dire emergencies only – and embarrass the shit out if me.

‘Why is Silvana entertaining a man half her age in your flat?’ Gran looks from me to my mother. ‘You should have said you were expecting company, darling. I’d have gone out.’ She touches her hand lightly against her hair. ‘Put a towel on the doorknob or something, isn’t that the modern way to signal these things? Don’t come a knockin’ if the caravan’s rockin’?’

She looks spectacularly pleased with herself, and one glance at Lenny tells me that he knows he’s way out of his depth with these two and is in the process of writing me off as the worst date he’s ever had. His eyes slide from me to the door, and I can almost hear him begging me to let him go unharmed.

‘He’s not mum’s date, he’s mine. Or else, he was,’ I mutter, and then I’m distracted as a beer-bellied pensioner in a soup-stained shirt slowly materialises through the ceiling, his flannel trousers not quite meeting his bony ankles. Stay with me; I see dead people, remember? As do my mother and my grandmother, who also watch him descend with matching expressions of distaste.

‘Finally,’ my mother spits, dropping Lenny’s hand so she can round on the new arrival. ‘Two hours I’ve been chasing you around this bloody building. Your wife wants to know what you’ve done with the housekeeping she’d hidden in the green teapot. She says you better not have lost it on the horses or she’s had it with you.’

Grandma Dicey rolls her eyes. ‘I rather think she’s had it with him anyway. He’s been dead for six weeks.’

‘You’re a fine one to talk, given that you still sleep with your husband twenty years after he died.’ Mother flicks her silver hair sharply. Touché.

Lenny whimpers and bolts for my front door, turning back to me just long enough to splutter ‘something’s come up, gotta go,’ before he hoofs it out and down the stairs two at a time.

I listen to the outside door bang on its hinges and wonder what came up. Probably his dinner.

 

 

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Blog Tour: Guest post by J.A. Schneider author of Her Last Breath

You may remember recently I took part in the cover reveal for this book.   Well, despite not being able to commit to reading the book I didn’t want to miss out on taking part in the blog tour so today I have a guest post by the author about why murder thrillers are so comforting, to read or to write. Enjoy!

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Synopsis: chilling psychological thriller, titled HER LAST BREATH, about a woman caught between two men…

Mari Gill wakes to horror in a strange apartment next to a murdered man. Protesting her innocence, she feels torn between her husband, a successful defense attorney, and a mysterious, kind man who wants to help. Can she trust either of them – or even her closest friends? Detective Kerri Blasco, investigating, battles her police bosses believing that Mari is innocent…but is she?

Her Last Breath is available now. Purchase link: ‪http://getBook.at/HerLastBreath 

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Guest post:  Why is it so comforting to write or read murder thrillers?

Serial killers, murder most foul, murder stories called “cozy”…the whole range of this genre called “commercial” has one thing in common: the reader knows that good will triumph in the end. We know it’s fiction, but really, that’s why we read commercial fiction – for entertainment, sure, but also for reassurance.

The real world is chaos, unpredictability, upsetting even if you’re just watching the TV news. You or your loved one could have been on that commuter train, in that shopping mall, driving over that bridge that collapsed. The odds are greatly in our favor, but we still feel awful hearing about innocents struck by random horror.

Randomness is terrifying.

But commercial thrillers offer worlds which we know promise control, with a clear beginning, middle and end; nothing vague or chaotic that will leave us hanging and feeling helpless. Characters we love or loathe struggle and slug it out, while, like a clear road map, their inherent nature predicts their outcome. In Gone Girl, Amy Dunne is a sociopath – but does she really get away with what she’s done? Who’d want her life after the end of that story? She’s poisoned every relationship she’ll ever have.

True, the writing of Gone Girl was so ice pick brilliant that it rises to the level of literature…but there was nobody innocent in that book. No good guys suffered, so that brings it right back to the realm of a satisfying commercial thriller.

Heavy duty literature more often mirrors real life, where good too often suffers and corruption crushes. “Literature” can be depressing. As a French major, I was told no, we couldn’t read Victor Hugo or Jules Verne, it had to be term papers on Balzac’s Father Goriot suffering and Sartre’s “life is oppressive” opus. I’m glad I read those books, especially Balzac – but I’ve never re-read them.

I keep meaning to. Someday. As soon as I finish re-reading Silence of the Lambs, and that terrific James Patterson thriller waiting next in the pile…

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
J.A. (Joyce Anne) Schneider is a former staffer at Newsweek Magazine, a wife, mom, and reading addict. She loves thrillers…which may seem odd, since she was once a major in French Literature – wonderful but sometimes heavy stuff. Now, for years, she has become increasingly fascinated with medicine, forensic science, and police procedure. Decades of being married to a physician who loves explaining medical concepts and reliving his experiences means there’ll often be medical angles even in “regular” thrillers that she writes. She lives with her family in Connecticut, USA.

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour Review: Celebrations and Confetti by Rebecca Raisin

I first discovered Rebecca’s books when I heard about The Little Bookshop on the Seine.  As someone who fell in love with Paris on their one and only visit years ago and also loves books it seemed liked this book was made for me and I adored it.  Since then I’ve read a few more of Rebecca’s books and have enjoyed them immensely.  I  was delighted to be able to be involved in this blog tour as I’ve been looking forward to this new series coming out and even more excited to be starting the tour on my blog AND on the book’s release date!  So, read on and hopefully when you reach the end you’ll be downloading book 1 (this one) and pre-ordering 2 and 3.

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Blurb:

Part one in a feel-good romantic serial from bestselling author Rebecca Raisin!

Clio Winters is finally fulfilling her childhood dream of renovating the gorgeous old Cedarwood Lodge in Evergreen. Turning it into the perfect destination for big celebrations, weddings and parties has brought her back home, but Cedarwood Lodge is in need of a lot of tender loving care.

Perhaps all the work will be the perfect distraction from the real reason she had to leave her glamorous New York life behind.

Will coming home be the best decision of her life… or her biggest regret?

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part One.

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | Goodreads

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2exYINl

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2b4Q04O

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/celebrations-and- confetti-at- cedarwood-lodge- rebecca-raisin/1124580558?ean=9781474058414

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rebecca_Raisin_Celebrations_and_Confetti_At_Cedarw?id=bGPJDAAAQBAJ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31423830-celebrations- and-confetti- at-cedarwood-lodge?from_search=true

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My Rating: 4.5/5

Review: I really enjoyed this book. This is a story of someone starting over, albeit somewhere familiar, after the life they had carefully built for themselves came crashing down around them. Clio Winters is clearly a hard working person who has vision and a lot of courage as not many people could attempt to do what she is doing. 

The description of both the characters and setting here are very well done and bring the lodge to life quite clearly. It was heartwarming to watch everything progress and the characters friendship/work bonds grow as the story progresses. 

I’m not a fan of books that have been split into 3 or 4 parts as I find the endings of each part can be quite abrupt which I don’t like. However, this is not like that. Going by this story, each novella is a story in itself though it also has unresolved questions and queries that will clearly continue into the next novella. This makes for a good read which you can enjoy and get a satisfactory pause before the next part is released. 

I would highly recommend this to anyone who has read any of Rebecca’s previous books or enjoys books by authors such as Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Cathy Bramley. I can’t wait for the next two parts to be released!

 

 

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Author Info:

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been published in various short story anthologies and in in fiction magazines, and is now focusing on writing romance.

Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly believe in true love.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Website: http://rebeccaraisin.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRaisinAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jaxandwillsmum

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6915386.Rebecca_Raisin

 

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Blog Tour: Rhuna by Barbara Underwood.

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Blurb:   This thrilling sequel to Rhuna: Crossroads is set in mystical Ancient Egypt where Black Magic was developed by the followers of the legendary villain, The Dark Master.

As strange and frightening curses plague the population, Rhuna discovers the underground organization that performs this uncanny new magic, but she can only combat it with the help of her long-lost father.

Having learned from her father amazing new skills to empower her on the Astral Plane, Rhuna once again strives to preserve peace and harmony in the idyllic Atlan civilization.

Far more challenging than fighting powerful Dark Forces, however, is Rhuna’s personal anguish when her daughter becomes involved with the leader of the Black Magic movement, and the once-perfect Atlan society based on utopian principles begins to crumble all around her.

Shocking events escalate Rhuna’s world to a breathless climax as she and her family undergo a momentous upheaval, and she is forced to make great personal sacrifices for her loved ones.

Website: http://www.rhunafantasybooks.com/-the-books.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01ANDQ73W/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30301577-rhuna-the-star-child

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/609503

 

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Extract: 

“A private word,” she said sternly, and Rhuna stepped aside to let the other Council members pass her as they left the room.

“Harbinger of Solace has given us specific instructions,” she began.  Rhuna noticed the many fine wrinkles around her eyes and lips which deepened when she scowled.

“His daughter, Melody of the Dawn, is to return to Atlán at the earliest convenience! Furthermore, she is being prevented from summoning his messages, and we have been given due authority to fulfil his wishes,”

His daughter?  She is as much my daughter, too!” Rhuna protested angrily.  “And I am not preventing her from summoning his messages.  She is afraid to summon any messages – afraid of returning to Atlán, returning to her father!”

“What is wrong here?” Aradin asked as he entered the Attendance Hall and stood next to Rhuna.  “I thought you might need me,” he said softly to her as he placed his arm supportively around her.

“Harbinger of Solace has given us clear instructions to carry out,” Sun of the Morning repeated, her face showing contempt for Aradin.

“She does not want to return to him,” Aradin said as gruffly as he could manage.

“The High Council of Atlán has set this command!”

“First you said it was by order of Harbinger of Solace, and now by the entire High Council,” Aradin said, tightening his grip around Rhuna.  “Which is it?  And since when does one member speak for the entire Council?”

“You cannot force my daughter to return to Atlán!”  Rhuna stated firmly.

“You must!  It has been deemed the only right action in view of your…status among Atlan society, and the banishment enforced against you!” spat the angry woman.

“No!  I will not make her leave, and I will not make her summon her father’s messages if she doesn’t want those things!”

“What about respecting the will of others – isn’t that a prime Atlan principle?” interjected Aradin.

“In cases where the person is young and inexperienced, this respect is waived,” Sun of the Morning snapped.

“In all my solar cycles living in Atlán, I never heard of that exception,” Rhuna said as hatred for the woman grew rapidly inside her.

“This is the land of both my people, the Benshi, and the Atlan residents,” boomed The Reigning One’s voice behind them, startling everyone in the room, including his attendants. “There shall be no forcing of wills upon others in this land,” stated The Reigning One.  “Take your petty squabbles out of my residence,” he ordered Sun of the Morning, who was taken aback and immediately left the room without another word.

Rhuna walked silently outside with Aradin until they reached the outer courtyard area.  “You are disobeying an order directly from the High Council of Atlán?” Sun of the Morning asked viciously, her eyes darting between Rhuna and Aradin.

“I am refusing Harbinger of Solace’s request to have his daughter sent back to him,” Rhuna answered, glaring back at the woman.

“We are done here,” Aradin interrupted sharply, and took Rhuna’s arm as he began to walk away.

“They can’t force us to do anything, can they?” Rhuna asked as they walked home.

“No,” they can’t.  That woman is full of hatred towards you, and it’s making her unreasonable,” said Aradin.

“Let’s not even tell Lozira about any of this!” Rhuna said after a while.  ”She seems so happy right now, and so relieved to be here, thinking she is safe!”

 

About the author: As an only child of older migrant parents, I was exposed to a different culture and outlook as I growing up in the suburbs of Sydney. At the age of 10 I became interested in history and travel, and in sixth grade my teacher commented on my flair for writing.

After a lot of travel and reading about history – I started with Thor Heyerdahl’s adventures which led me to other books about unexplained mysteries such as pyramids and other megaliths around the world – I came to a point where I wanted to put it all together in an epic fantasy novel.

I have now written two further books following on from “Rhuna, Keeper of Wisdom.” The 2nd and 3rd books are both set in Ancient Egypt, and I am working on the fourth book in the series, so stay tuned and enjoy “Rhuna”!

Website: http://www.rhunafantasybooks.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/KeeperWisdom

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour Review: The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn.

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Blurb:  Two people in exile. Two secrets. As the past tightens its grip, there may be no escape…

TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough…

Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless.

MY RATING: 5/5

Review: So, this book, where do I start? Well it’s a book, it has pages and words, no quotation marks which I’ve never seen before, but plenty of words written in such a way that you get drawn into them.  This is so unlike any book I have ever previously read that this review will probably be quite different also. The writing is an unusual style but at the same time it is brilliant, the writing grabs you immediately. It’s not fast paced but steady and that works, steady and progressive, both the writing and the actual story. It starts off fairly normally and then slowly, insidiously it changes, it works its way into you so that you lose track of all time and of everything. At one point, towards the end, I had to remind myself to breathe because I wasn’t sure if I would otherwise.

There are only really two characters here. There are two others who appear briefly and some mentioned but never seen. Because of the story itself, two characters are all that is needed, more would change the dynamic and it wouldn’t be what it is. The descriptions of Allis’s daily duties, feelings and fears are very clear and well written. Her story is what drags you into this strange, isolated world which seems to exist almost without anything else, it’s almost as if there has been a worldwide disaster and these two are the only ones left. The majority of the story takes place at the house and in the garden, very little time is spent elsewhere which can make it claustrophobic at times and simply adds to the way in which the story affects you. It is haunting, something I doubt I will ever completely forget. It gets inside you somehow and takes root where it grows and makes you think, why is this happening, why does she stay, what has he done and what does it all mean. The ending is somehow expected and not at the same time. I wanted to rush through the last 20 pages so I could find out what happened but at the same time I wanted to take my time and savour every word because, somehow, this story makes you want to do that. It is definitely a story that needs to be read, but make sure you have no commitments to keep because you will probably forget them all when reading this. It’s like the bit in on of Lord of the Rings films where Gandalf says he fell out of time and space, that’s how I felt reading this. I can’t explain it better than that.

I apologise if this is a strange review but I can’t do better than this. To try to explain would be to ruin the story and that would be a shame because it is definitely one story that that should never happen to.
Many thanks to Karen Sullivan, Agnes Ratavn and Rosie Hedger for publishing, writing and translating this amazing book.

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                                                                                                      About the author:  Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian author and columnist. She made her literary début with the novel Week 53 in 2007. Since then she has written three critically acclaimed and
award-winning essay collections: Standing, Popular Reading and Operation Self-discipline, in which she recounts her experience with social media addiction, and how she overcame it. The Bird Tribunal won the cultural radio P2’s listener’s prize for this novel, a popular and important prize in Norway, in addition to The Youth’s Critic’s Prize. The Bird Tribunal was also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015.

 

You can see the rest of the tour participants and their dates below:

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Blog Tour Review: A Cotswold Christmas by Kate Hewitt

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Blurb: Welcome to Wychwood-on-Lea… a not-too-quaint village where frosty evenings, welcoming fires, and second chances will make this a Christmas you’ll never forget.

Anna Vere has escaped to the Cotswolds for Christmas to try to heal from her broken engagement and, far worse, her broken dreams. When her reserved room at a bed & breakfast is flooded, she takes up the offer of camping out in Willoughby Close, the converted stables of the nearby manor house… and is taken under the wing of sexy local carpenter Colin Heath.

What starts out as merely helping a neighbor in need turns into far more as Colin and Anna share a surprisingly intense and emotional connection, weaving their own Christmas magic as they spend the holiday together. But Anna has a secret she’s scared to reveal, something that could destroy the fragile bond they’ve just created, and Colin knows she’s only in England for a short time. Can these two sudden soul mates risk their hearts for a love that has yet to be tried and tested?

Get swept away by this poignant and heartwarming story, set in beautiful Wychwood-on-Lea, in the English Cotswolds. And look forward to four more books set in Willoughby Close, where everyday miracles and happily-ever-afters are guaranteed.

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32021986-a-cotswold-christmas?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01LWAV3O0/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

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My Rating: 4.5/5

Review: This is a lovely, heartwarming story, just what you want at Christmas when the weather is miserable and all you want to do is stay in and snuggle up on the sofa with a book. While this is a novella rather than a full length book there is a lot packed into it, there is a strong sense of each of the characters, even those who are only mentioned for a few lines and never heard from again. The descriptions of the village, the countryside and the interiors of the homes that the story visits are all incredibly well done. There were a few scenes where the description was so clear and vivid that not only could I visualise it perfectly but I wanted exactly the same for myself in that moment, right down to the Aga in the kitchen. 

Christmas for me is a time of too much television, lots of hours curled up reading, plenty of food and a few meals that are only eaten at that time of year and a general warmth and laziness that you only get then. That warmth and laziness, the comfort of knowing you can hole up at home for a few days and not worry about anything else, that is what this story is like. It’s a warm, fluffy blanket that you can pull round round yourself and not have to leave. There are some parts of the story where real life intrudes and we have to acknowledge that we can’t escape ourselves or our past even at Christmas, but they are tactfully done and don’t spoil the overall warmth of the story.  

This is an ideal story for Christmas or the lead up to it, the length makes it perfect for sneaking in a couple of hours reading when life is busy or you just want something different to read. It’s full of Christmas spirit and is a lovely, escapist read. It’s also a prequel to a new series which I think I’m going to enjoy reading when it comes out. 

 

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About Kate Hewitt: Kate is the USA Today-bestselling author of over 40 books of women’s fiction and romance. She is the author of the Hartley-by-the-Sea series, set in England’s Lake District and published by Penguin. She is also, under the name Katharine Swartz, the author of the Tales from Goswell books, a series of time-slip novels set in the village of Goswell. Other series include the Emigrants Trilogy, the Amherst Island Trilogy, and the Falling For The Freemans series.

She likes to read romance, mystery, the occasional straight historical and angsty women’s fiction; she particularly enjoys reading about well-drawn characters and avoids high-concept plots.

Having lived in both New York City and a tiny village on the windswept northwest coast of England, she now resides in the English Cotswolds with her husband, five children, and an overly affectionate Golden Retriever.

Blog: http://www.acumbrianlife.blogspot.co.uk/

Website: http://www.kate-hewitt.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/katehewitt1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour Review: A Suitable Lie by Michael J. Malone

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Blurb: Some secrets should never be kept…

Andy Boyd thinks he is the luckiest man alive. Widowed with a young child, after his wife dies in childbirth, he is certain that he will never again experience true love. Then he meets Anna. Feisty, fun and beautiful, she’s his perfect match … and she loves his son like he is her own. When Andy ends up in the hospital on his wedding night, he receives his first clue that Anna is not all that she seems.

Desperate for that happy-ever-after, he ignores it. A dangerous mistake that could cost him everything. A brave, deeply moving, page-turning psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie marks a stunning departure for one of Scotland’s finest crime writers, exploring the lengths people will go to hide their deepest secrets, even if it kills them…

 

My Rating: 4.5/5

Review: Domestic violence is something everyone is aware of.  The most common type is perpetrated by men against women and there is a lot, not enough, but a lot of support out there for female victims of domestic abuse.  However, this support doesn’t really extend to men who are abused by women, partly because this is less common and partly because, I believe, a lot of people either deny it happens or simply refuse to believe it.  I am a firm believer than abuse towards anyone should not happen and there should be support available to anyone affected regardless of gender but this will sadly take a long time to become a reality.

One thing that I believe will help is this book.  It is a well-written and very insightful view into the life and mind of someone affected by domestic abuse, the someone in this case happens to be a man, which I think is unusual in this genre of books.  I believe that and the story itself may make people stop and think about what goes on behind closed doors and the fact that you can never truly understand someone’s life unless you live it with them.  We start off with Andy and his son.  Andy’s first wife tragically died 4 years ago and his brother believes it’s time Andy moves on and finds someone new.  With this in mind he persuades Andy to come out the the pub one night and that’s where he meets Anna.  A few whirlwind weeks later and they are married and only then does Anna’s true character reveal itself.  The rest of the book takes us through a a period of approximately 2-3 years and shows the effect that Anna’s abuse has on Andy; on his self-esteem, his self-worth and his personality.  We see the decisions that Andy makes, the justifications he comes up with to defend Anna’s behaviour and how he feels about himself when he does that.  All along you get an understanding of why he tolerates this and why he stays.

This is not an easy read, but then it shouldn’t be because it’s a very serious subject that everyone needs to do more about.  This is a portrait of real life, someone somewhere will be living through this right now wondering what to do, how they got to this point and if there is ever any way they can escape.  While there are many dark moments in the book there are some light ones too, Andy’s son Pat is a lovely, intelligent child and the scenes with him break up the darker ones.  This stops this book from becoming something that is too dark and depressing to read.  While I found it a little difficult to get into at first, after the first few chapters that changed and I read 2/3 of the book in one night and the rest in one sitting the following day.  All sense of time disappeared as I was reading, no sounds penetrated my consciousness because I was so caught up in the story.  The way this is written is one of the reasons it works so well, I can’t explain how it works but it sort of slowly envelops you till there is nothing left but you and the story and that is something that not many authors can achieve, regardless of the genre they write in.

This is not a book to be taken on lightly, it will probably make you think and reconsider how you view the world, but it is definitely a book that should be read.  I hope that, because this is not a debut novel, it gets a lot of people reading and talking about such an important subject.  Individual actions can change the world and hopefully this book will be one of them.

Many thanks to the author and to Karen Sullivan of Orenda books for letting me have a copy of this book.  This review is my own work.

 

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About the author:

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes:

Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

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