The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers @randysusanmeyer @AtriaBooks #guestreview

Christine is back on the blog today with her review of The Widow of Wall Street. Read on for her thoughts!

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Author : Randy Susan Meyers
Title : The Widow of Wall Street
Pages : 339
Publisher : Atria Books
Publication date : April 11, 2017

aboutthebook

What’s real in a marriage built on sand and how do you abandon a man you’ve loved since the age of fifteen?

Phoebe sees the fire in Jake Pierce’s belly from the moment they meet as teenagers in Brooklyn. Eventually he creates a financial dynasty and she trusts him without hesitation—unaware his hunger for success hides a dark talent for deception.

When Phoebe learns—along with the rest of the world—that her husband’s triumphs are the result of an elaborate Ponzi scheme her world unravels. Lies underpin her life and marriage. As Jake’s crime is uncovered, the world obsesses about Phoebe. Did she know her life was fabricated by fraud? Did she partner with her husband in hustling billions from pensioners, charities, and CEOs? Was she his accomplice in stealing from their family and neighbors?

Debate rages as to whether love and loyalty blinded her to his crimes or if she chose to live in denial. While Jake is trapped in the web of his own deceit, Phoebe is faced with an unbearable choice. Her children refuse to see her if she remains at their father’s side, but abandoning Jake, a man she’s known since childhood, feels cruel and impossible.

christine

Outstanding! What a HEFTY piece of women’s fiction this is.

The tale is spun over 5 decades. We learn in chapter one that Jake Pierce, a high echelon broker, ends up in prison for fraud in his mid 60s, 45 years or so after marrying 18-year-old Phoebe. This is their story.

I must say the first half of the book was slow in places. This was not helped by the fact that I had really mixed feelings about Jake, with more bad than good vibes. During that time frame I had not made up my mind about Phoebe. I don’t care how nice someone is; when they spend $20,000 on something I would spend $20 on, there is a disconnect.

But then, approximately midway through the book, the story suddenly reeled me in like a prize-winning fisherman—hook, line and sinker.

The themes of this story are numerous and are handled extremely well. What is real love? What is family? How well do you know your family? How does one carry on when struck by major blow after major blow? We see deception galore, we see people put in positions where decisions are almost impossible to make and there is seemingly no way out, we see how people rise or fall when faced with tragic circumstances. And that’s only some of it. Again, the novel is meaty and a real thinker. I will remember this one for a long time.

Let me not fail to mention that a total noninterest in financial matters should not deter anyone from reading this book. Ms. Meyers does a phenomenal job in making that part of the book not only understandable, but engrossing. I’m sure this took intense research on her part and explains to me what she was doing between the time Accidents of Marriage (which I loved) was published in 2014 and this one came out. The wait was worth it. Kudos, Ms. Meyers, not only for learning your stuff, but for keeping it from being boring.

I never like to go into any detail about the plot in my reviews as I am a “go in as cold as possible on all books” type of reader. I do however want to emphasize the brilliant job the author did on the characterization of Phoebe. Her struggles to deal with her situation and to  try to salvage her life throughout the second half of the book were written beautifully, profoundly, and poignantly.  This is what pushed my 4.5 rating to 5 stars.

Randy Susan Meyers has written a couple of older books that I have yet to read. They are now holding two spots on my very selective TBR. I strongly recommend The Widow of Wall Street for anyone looking for a strongly written and powerful story.

Thank you Net Galley, Atria Books, and Ms. Randy Susan Meyers for an e-copy of this novel. The opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.

The Widow of Wall Street is available now!

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Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear @Bonnierzaffre

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Author : Caz Frear
Pages : 479
Publisher : Bonnier Zaffre
Publication date : June 29, 2017

aboutthebook

What happens when the trust has gone?

Cat Kinsella was always a daddy’s girl. Until the summer of 1998 when she sees her father flirting with seventeen-year-old Maryanne Doyle.

When Maryanne later disappears and Cat’s father denies ever knowing her, Cat’s relationship with him is changed forever.

Eighteen years later, Cat is now a Detective Constable with the Met. Called to the scene of a murder in Islington, she discovers a woman’s body: Alice Lapaine has been found strangled, not far from the pub that Cat’s father runs.

When evidence links Alice to the still missing Maryanne, all Cat’s fears about her father resurface. Could he really be a killer? Determined to confront the past and find out what really happened to Maryanne all those years ago, Cat begins to dig into the case. But the problem with looking into the past is that sometimes you might not like what you find.

mythoughts

Cat Kinsella was always a bit of a daddy’s girl. But when seventeen year old Maryanne disappears and Cat’s father lies about having known her, their relationship changes forever. Now, years later, Cat is a DC working in London. When the body of a woman is found near her father’s workplace, all Cat’s fears about him being a killer return.

Cat is flawed and carries around a ton of baggage. She’s currently in therapy after suffering a bit of a meltdown at a crime scene but her issues are mostly connected to her father and past events. I found it hard to warm to her adult self but eight year old Cat was lovely. We get to know her through diary entries, written when she still worshipped her father and then ultimately caught him in a lie. There were some interesting family dynamics but I failed to see the significance of Cat’s brother. It’s clear something is going on in that relationship but it’s never really explained which I found a bit annoying.

Sweet Little Lies is quite slow and I admit I struggled with it and almost considered throwing in the towel altogether. However, I persevered and I’m glad I did as there is a rather intricate plot tying the past to the present. With a host of unreliable characters and a few twists and turns, this had all the potential of being a great crime fiction story. I just felt it had a bit too much angst and not enough action to really hook me.

Many thanks to Bonnier Zaffre for my advanced copy, which I received through Netgalley and chose to review honestly.

Sweet Little Lies will be published on June 29th.

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After I’ve Gone by Linda Green @QuercusBooks

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Author : Linda Green
Title : After I’ve Gone
Pages : 432
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : June 15, 2017

aboutthebook

On a wet Monday in January, Jess Mount checks Facebook and discovers her timeline appears to have skipped forward 18 months, to a day when shocked family and friends are posting heartbreaking tributes to her following her death in an accident. Jess is left scared and confused: is she the target of a cruel online prank or is this a terrifying glimpse of her true fate?

Amongst the posts are photos of a gorgeous son she has not yet conceived. But when new posts suggest her death was deliberate, Jess realises that if she changes the future to save her own life, the baby boy she has fallen in love with may never exist.

mythoughts

This is the kind of story that keeps me up at night and gives me nightmares because I can’t stop thinking about it and it roots itself firmly into my pea-sized brain!

Imagine waking up one morning, checking Facebook, and seeing posts on your timeline dated 18 months from now, from people utterly heartbroken because you passed away. Now, I don’t know about you but a) I’d rather not know upfront about my untimely demise and b) even if I did, I would most likely do whatever it took to postpone said unfortunate event. But our main character, Jess, realises that if she tries to change the future, her baby son will never be born.

What a genius idea for a plot! That in itself already blew my mind. I was glued to the pages and completely engrossed. For the first time ever, I had to resist the urge to flip to the last page to see how this story would end. I was that curious and impatient. It’s like a whodunnit with a difference and incredibly compelling.

I love that the reader gets to know Jess before these Facebook posts start. I warmed to her immediately. She has a wonderful sense of humour and many a moment between her and her best friend, Sadie, made me chuckle. The transformation Jess goes through after the Facebook posts is that much more interesting because you know the kind of person she used to be. But despite the lighter moments, this book deals with some serious topics that I won’t mention to avoid spoiling it for everyone else.

The author mentions a reviewer in her acknowledgements who vowed never to pick up any of her books again. This is the second book I’ve read by Linda Green and unlike that reviewer, I’ll definitely be picking up another one!

After I’ve Gone was published on June 15th.

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Curves, Kisses and Chocolate Ice Cream by Sue Watson @suewatsonwriter @bookouture #blogtour

Absoluted thrilled to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for this delightful book by Sue Watson! Many thanks to Kim at Bookouture for the opportunity!

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Author : Sue Watson
Title : Curves, Kisses and Chocolate Ice Cream
Series : Ice Cream Café
Pages : 280
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : June 27, 2017

aboutthebook

Dani’s on a mission to get her life back on track by the end of the Summer. Running, rowing, aerobics and more, but perhaps all she needs are sweet treats and a second chance?

Twenty years ago, Dani fled Appledore with a broken-heart and a suitcase full of shattered dreams. Only now is she brave enough to put her past behind her and return for a summer selling homemade ice-cream and getting fit by doing sit-ups by the sea.

But the new-look cafe is filled with old memories of Jude, her teenage sweetheart-turned-sour. She thinks of him every time she swirls warm sauce onto a “chocolate-bockaglory” and even with the help of Chris, her gorgeous personal trainer, the urge to break her diet is everywhere she turns.

mythoughts

You may remember from my review of the first book in this series, Ella’s Ice-Cream Summer, that this isn’t my typical type of read. But after having enjoyed the first one so much, I couldn’t resist picking this one up as well and it’s every bit as heartwarming.

Dani has a bit of an unhealthy relationship with food. Twenty years ago, she left Appledore but life didn’t quite pan out the way she thought it would and now she’s back. Determined to finally let go of the past and get fit in the meantime, she signs up for gym lessons with a gorgeous personal trainer, Chris. But temptation is everywhere, especially when you work in an ice-cream parlour.

I found Curves, Kisses and Chocolate Ice Cream a bit more of an emotional ride than its predecessor but that’s not a bad thing. The story is incredibly realistic and believable and I’m sure us women can all relate to Dani’s circumstances as far as body issues and low self-esteem are concerned. Yet she’s an amazing and funny lady and I warmed to her instantly. Her diary entries about numerous diets she’s tried are hilarious!

There are appearances from characters from the first book which I thoroughly enjoyed. They may not be the main attractions in this story but they leave their mark regardless. Their help and support is invaluable to Dani. I found myself truly caring and by the end of the book, all I really wanted to do was hug Dani and say “you go, girl!”

Of course there are some emotional moments where I almost shed a tear and that doesn’t happen often, let me tell you. But there’s ice cream and the beach, romance, plenty of chuckles and laugh-out-loud moments and so yes, this is a perfect feel-good summer read!

Many thanks to Bookouture for my advanced copy which I received via Netgalley and chose to review honestly!

Curves, Kisses and Chocolate Ice Cream was published on June 27th.

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abouttheauthor

Sue Watson was a TV Producer with the BBC who combined motherhood and family life with a busy career. However, one day it dawned on Sue that Cosmo magazine may have been telling porkies about ‘having it all,’ and her life had become a slightly crazed juggling act.

So after much soul searching (and comfort eating) Sue abandoned her TV career, bought a pink laptop and wrote a novel. ‘Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes,’ tells the story of Stella Weston, whose life is a constant struggle with a nasty boss at work, the weighing scales and being a mum, wife and daughter.

Originally from Manchester, Sue now lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Worcestershire. When she’s not toiling over her latest novel, Sue bakes (and eats) cake and enjoys very large tubs of Caramel Chew Chew ice cream all to herself while watching ‘The Biggest Loser USA.’

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This Week in Books (June 28)

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Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

Last book I finished reading :

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Frank Miller, hero of the best-selling mystery novels written by The Man Upstairs, works the weird streets of Chapeltown as a private detective. During the legendary case of the Black Widow everything changed when Frank became aware of his fictional existence. Proclaimed at the time as a work of genius, Frank wonders if it was the first sign that The Man Upstairs was sick. This latest case, involving the death of a care worker, and coinciding with the appointment of Chapeltown’s first elected mayor, has Frank baffled. The Man Upstairs appears to be losing the plot, giving the womanising Frank a steady girlfriend, Marge, who warns him that to survive he must change from the tired cliche that he has become. As the case darkens Frank recognises the depth of his creator’s sickness. His days are numbered as clearly as the pages in the books in which he features.

The book I’m currently reading :

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‘The first one had been an accident. He had never intended to kill her. But as he looked down at her body, he knew there would be a next one…’

When the body of Lola Evans is found in a local park on a cold winter’s morning, Detective Alex King and her new recruit Chloe Lane are called in to lead the hunt for the killer. Days later, a second girl goes missing. It seems the two shared a troubled history, and were members of the same support group. Who is the monster preying on these vulnerable girls?

As the detectives start to piece together the clues, Chloe realises that she too is in danger – as she uncovers secrets about her own brother’s death which someone will kill to keep hidden.

Alex and Chloe are determined to find the killer before more lives are lost.

What I’m reading next :

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A dead father, a sex-trafficked daughter, and a cunning killer hiding deadly talents in apparent suicide.

Ari Wilburn’s life ended long ago—the day she watched her little sister die in a tragic accident. Crippled with self-blame and resented by her parents, Ari stumbles through life and into an unlikely clue that casts doubt on whether the death was accidental.

A psychological wreck, Ari joins a suicide support group where she meets Tina, a sex-enslaved escapee who suspects foul play in her father’s death. In a pursuit of justice, Tina drags Ari into playing a dangerous game with a killer.

Faced with a murderous wake-up call, and desperate to salve her conscience, Ari’s investigation fuels the killer’s desire to see her dead. Will Ari find closure and stop a killer, or make those she loves suffer more?

***

Anything here taking your fancy? What are you reading this week? Let me know!

Happy reading! xx

We Have Lost the Coffee by Paul Mathews @emmamitchellfpr #blogtour #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for We Have Lost The Coffee by Paul Mathews. My thanks to Emma for having me on the tour! I’ll be sharing an extract with you, right after I’ve told you a wee bit about the book.

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Author : Paul Mathews
Pages : 325
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : June 28, 2017

aboutthebook

London, 2045. Three months into the Coffee Wars and Britain’s caffeine supplies are at critical levels. Brits are drinking even more tea than usual, keeping a stiff upper lip and praying for an end to it all. A secret Government coffee stockpile could save the day…but then mysteriously disappears overnight.

One man is asked to unravel the missing-coffee mystery. His name is Pond. Howie Pond. And he’s in desperate need of a triple espresso. Meanwhile, his journalist wife, Britt, is hunting royal fugitive Emma Windsor on the streets of the capital.

Can Howie save the British Republic from caffeine-starved chaos? Will the runaway royal be found? And just what will desperate coffee drinkers do for their next caffeine fix? Find out, in Paul Mathews’ latest comedy-thriller set in the Britain of the future.

extract

Chapter 1

Howie sank into his synth-leather office chair, shoved a pile of newspapers to one side, and slapped a white plastic cup on his desk. As steam rose from the small opening in the top of the cup, the faint aroma of coffee entered his nostrils. Except that it wasn’t coffee. At least, not coffee as he knew it. The last real cup of coffee had been served in the Buckingham Palace canteen last week. And now he and all the other civil servants who spent Mondays to Fridays toiling away in this building for the good of the British Republic were being expected to jumpstart their days with something called ‘pseudo-caf’. It was a dumb name, Howie thought. Probably dreamt up by some hyperactive marketing trainee fresh out of college who’d never had to consume any kind of workplace stimulant in their life. And the adverts the marketeers had devised were even more annoying than the name of the product they were promoting. The thirty-second commercials had been popping up on Howie’s digi-screen all weekend, with bold promises that coffee drinkers would ‘be surprised’. But Howie didn’t want to be surprised.

It was 9.00am on a Monday morning at the end of one of the toughest months in the British Republic’s sixteen-year history. He wanted the same thing he’d always wanted at the start of his working week: to jolt his body into first gear with a massive caffeine injection. This would allow him to gradually move up the gears, until his unread e-comms were only in the low hundreds. Then he could refuel at lunchtime with a pie and a pint at the Two Chairmen pub in St James’ Park. And, on his return, he would ease off the accelerator by immersing himself in the day’s press coverage, delegating journalist enquiries to his press officers, and generally making himself look busy so no one would disturb him. Yes, that was how he liked to start his working week in Westminster. But there was just one small problem with his Monday masterplan. Pseudo-caf, as its name suggested, contained no actual caffeine – just a low-grade substitute. So there was only one thing that this cheap and miserable excuse for a morning beverage was guaranteed to stimulate – a massive sense of disappointment.

As Howie picked up the cup, all the espressos, mochas and cappuccinos that had stood on his desk over the last fifteen years flashed before his eyes. He realised now that he hadn’t fully appreciated them at the time. Back then, they’d been just another part of his working day. But now they were gone, they were all he could think about. He was filled with a sickening sense of guilt when he remembered how one or two of them had sat there, going cold, and had eventually ended up being tossed in the rubbish. Then an idea came to him. Perhaps there was still a discarded coffee cup round here from last week, with traces of real coffee clinging to the bottom? Just a few drops of the real stuff might kick-start his system. But he quickly jettisoned that idea. He wasn’t that desperate. Not yet. Though he might review the situation in ten minutes’ time.

Howie reached out his right hand, picked up the plastic cup and brought it to his nose. It no longer smelt of coffee, so the chances of it tasting anything remotely like it were practically zero by now. But he’d paid ten pounds for it, so he should at least try some. He muttered a quick prayer to the caffeine gods and then jerked the cup back to his lips. A brown sludge hit his tongue like a hilltop mudslide. Before he had time to react, a cocktail of chemicals smothered his taste buds and instantly made him want to vomit. He somehow managed to slap a hand across his mouth, massage his throat and force it down. Once he was sure his mouth was sludge-free, he grimaced and released the kind of lingering groan usually only expressed by newly disturbed corpses.

Once the urge to be sick finally subsided, he stood up and marched to the waste disposal area in the corridor outside. While he was deciding which of the twenty-four different metal plates to place the cup on, a booming Irish voice interrupted his thoughts. It belonged to his chief press officer, Conor O’Brean.

‘I see you’ve already experienced the delights of pseudo-caf, sir.’

‘That’s one way of putting it,’ replied Howie, dropping the cup onto a random waste disposal plate. A hole opened up and the cup disappeared down a chute with an impressive whooshing sound.

‘I managed to drink half a cup of it by holding my nose. But I don’t feel stimulated in the slightest.’ Conor put his hand against the wall for support. ‘When do you think this coffee chaos is going to end, sir?’

‘It depends on how long these Coffee Wars drag on. Though with that idiot Ruffle in charge of global trade negotiations, I don’t hold out much hope for a swift resolution.’

Conor fumbled with his emerald-green tie. ‘You know me, sir. I never like to say a bad word about our esteemed political colleagues. But, in Vice President Ruffle’s case, I’ll make an exception.’ He took a step nearer to Howie and lowered his voice. ‘You know, I caught him stealing one of our doughnuts on his last visit to the press office.’

Howie took a moment to digest this shocking news. ‘You are joking?’

Conor shook his head. ‘Doughnut theft is no laughing matter, sir. He was as drunk as a prince, which is the only mitigating factor in his defence.’

‘For king’s sake!’ cursed Howie. ‘Was this on Friday?’

‘Yes, sir.’

Howie rolled his eyes. ‘Ruffle is always drunk on a Friday.’

‘And a good few Thursdays, too. And one or two Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, now I come to think about it.’

An authoritative electronic voice interrupted their conversation. ‘Incorrect waste disposal selection. Please try again.’ Howie’s plastic coffee cup zipped back out of the chute and the hole closed below it, so it stood once again on a metal plate.

‘Even the waste disposal units won’t drink this synthetic muck,’ grumbled Howie.

‘Allow me,’ replied Conor, picking up the cup and placing it on a different metal plate. ‘This chute accepts any old rubbish.’ And the cup disappeared with a whoosh for a second time.

‘Yeah, well, I think you’ll find the British public only accept the best when it comes to their coffee. They won’t put up with drinking this crap for too long.’

‘I think the more high-end synthetic coffee is a bit more drinkable, sir. You’ve got to pay for it, though – up to six times the price of the real thing.’

‘Six times?! That’s ridiculous!’

‘Supply and demand, sir. Someone’s making money out of it, that’s for sure.’ Conor tapped his nose. ‘And, of course, some people round here have their own plentiful supplies of the real stuff.’

Howie’s ears pricked up. ‘Who do you mean? Retail coffee ran out six weeks ago. And the rules were the same for everyone – one coffee item per citizen per week until the shelves were empty.’

Conor checked that no one was within listening distance. ‘Let’s just say, some people in positions of power consider themselves to have more rights than the average citizen.’

‘You mean vice presidents?’

‘Higher than that.’

‘You’re saying the president has got a secret coffee stash?’

‘Correct, sir. I saw it with my own eyes.’

This was a stunning revelation. President Winner prided himself on his man-of-the-people image. If word got out that he was secretly stashing coffee, it could create a media storm that Howie and his press officers would be dealing with for weeks. But, much more importantly, it meant there was real coffee within a hundred-metre radius.

‘When did you see this?’ asked Howie.

‘I turned up a little early for President Winner’s interview with The Republican newspaper last Tuesday. He was getting ready for his Las Vegas trip and his office was a terrible mess. I was waiting for the great man to get himself organised, when I spotted the packets of coffee in one of his desk drawers.’

Howie could feel his pulse quickening. ‘What were they? Just your normal instant or something a bit more special?’

‘Oh, they were special, sir.’ Conor’s eyes drifted upwards as he relived the memory. ‘Very special.’

‘Come on,’ urged Howie. ‘Don’t keep me in suspense. What was it?’

‘Brazilian premium roasted,’ announced Conor, as if delivering a message from the caffeine gods.

Howie gasped. ‘How many packets?’

‘Half a dozen, I’d say. Enough to keep you and me in triple espressos for a fortnight, at least.’

‘Does anyone else know about it?’ asked Howie, his voice trembling.

‘No one within my personal coffee-drinking circle, sir. I was thinking we could just keep this between ourselves. And …’ Conor turned away.

‘And what, Conor?’

‘No. It’s a bad idea.’

‘What is?’

‘Forget I said anything.’

‘You haven’t said anything yet, so just tell me what you were going to say!’ shouted Howie, loudly enough for someone fifty metres down the corridor to stick their head out of an office door, tut in his direction and then retreat back inside.

Conor fished a handkerchief from his trouser pocket, placed it over his mouth and began explaining. ‘I was thinking that maybe we could locate some of that coffee in the president’s private office and … how shall we say, sir? Borrow it.’

‘Borrow it?’

‘Yes. Until such time as Brazilian premium roasted is back on the supermarket shelves.’

‘But what about the private secretaries? They’re always in there.’

‘Not right now, sir. I popped round five minutes ago. There’s a message on the digi-screen above the door saying they’re having one of those new VideoSat conferences with the president in the Tech lounge and they’ll be back at ten o’clock.’ He cleared his throat noisily. ‘So we could go round there right now. Our new digi-passes should get us in.’

Howie’s head was telling him that breaking into the president’s desk while he was away at a presidential summit and ‘borrowing’ his coffee probably wasn’t the professional or ethical thing to do. But it was a Monday and he was already feeling ratty without his usual caffeine fix. So what the hell. ‘Okay, let’s do it.’ He took a deep breath. ‘And there’s no time like the present.’

Without another word, they hurtled up the corridor as fast as two overweight, caffeine-starved, middle-aged men could travel until they arrived at the office of President Zayn Winner. Conor touched his digi-pass to a keypad and the metal door slid open. Just as the digi-screen outside had promised, there was nobody in the office.

‘Which desk was it?’ asked Howie, as the door slid shut.

Conor pointed towards the far corner of the room. ‘That one over there, sir – bottom drawer.’

Howie rushed over to the desk and grabbed the drawer’s handle. But it wouldn’t budge. ‘It’s locked. Do you know where the key is?’

‘No. But it can’t be far away.’ Conor wandered over and began searching through the various stationery holders on the desk. ‘He usually hides his keys in one of these little fellas.’

After a few minutes of frantic searching, they still hadn’t located the key.

‘I know!’ announced Howie, pointing at a row of golden trophies on one of the bookshelves. ‘Let’s try under his Hollywood awards.’

Conor, who was considerably taller than Howie, reached up and grabbed the biggest statue – a large golden orb. He brought it down and squinted at the inscription. ‘First place in the 2037 Hollywood all-comers ping-pong tournament.’

‘The pinnacle of his career,’ noted Howie drily.

Conor rummaged on the shelf where the award had been standing. ‘No key here, sir. I’ll try the one next to it.’ Conor replaced the trophy and picked up its neighbour – a mounted silver face mask – and read its inscription. ‘This one is for Hollywood nose job of the year, 2035.’

‘Are there any you can see for his acting?’

Conor went on tiptoes and surveyed the row of golden trophies. ‘No, I can’t see any accolades for his thespian pursuits, sir.’

‘Not surprising, if you’ve seen his movies.’ Howie surveyed the office. ‘The president’s autobiography is around here somewhere. He reads it every day. I’m pretty sure it’s the only book he’s ever read – not counting comic books. He probably slips the desk key in between the pages.’

Conor picked up a book in the middle of the president’s desk and read the title. ‘Once a Winner, Always a Winner.’

‘That’s the one. Have a quick flick through it.’

Conor obeyed the instruction and, to Howie’s delight, a small key dropped out.

‘We’ve struck caffeine gold, sir!’ shouted Conor.

Howie couldn’t help whooping in delight and performing a little jig around the desk. ‘Howie Pond and Conor O’Brean – coffee hunters of the year, 2045!’

Conor grinned. ‘Your Irish dancing leaves a lot to be desired, sir.’

‘Just get that key in the bloody lock and let’s free this coffee from captivity!’

The pair of them giggled like naughty schoolboys and knelt down beside the drawer. The key fitted perfectly, the drawer slid open and they were soon each holding three packets of Brazilian premium roasted coffee.

They barely had time to congratulate themselves before the office door slid open and the familiar figure of Martha Blake, Head of the National Security and Intelligence Service, was standing in front of them – looking slightly startled.

Martha’s eyes flicked around the scene of the caffeine crime. ‘Would one of you two gentlemen care to explain what you’re doing?’

Howie raised his eyebrows in greeting. ‘Ah, how lovely to see you, Martha. The two of us were just, erm …’ He turned to Conor. ‘Remind me what we were doing again, Conor.’

‘Erm … just testing the robustness of the president’s desk security, madam. And I regret to inform you that the key to the president’s desk drawer was relatively easy for us to locate.’

‘Yes, th-th-that’s right,’ stuttered Howie. ‘I’ll have a word with the security people.’ He gazed down at his coffee booty. ‘Probably best if Conor and I look after this little lot for the time being – until the president gets back from Vegas.’

Martha stared at them in disbelief. ‘I wasn’t born yesterday. You were liberating the president’s personal coffee stash.’ She sighed wearily. ‘And I suggest you put it back.’

Howie paused to think. ‘Could we maybe just take a packet each?’

Martha’s arched eyebrows informed them this wasn’t going to be an option.

‘Maybe we could just share a packet between us?’ suggested Conor.

‘Put it all back where you found it. And then, as far as I’m concerned, if anyone asks, that’s all you did – find it and put it back.’

‘Don’t people who return things to their rightful owner normally receive a reward?’ enquired Conor, with a hopeful grin.

‘Not always. Now go back to the press office, Conor. I have business with your boss.’

This was a double blow. Not only was Howie having to give up his recently discovered coffee treasure, Martha had business with him. And that could only mean one thing – large amounts of work for Howie on a Monday. Possibly running into Tuesday. Maybe even for the rest of the week.

Howie and Conor reluctantly returned the coffee to its hiding place. Then Conor popped the key back in the book and left the room in chastened silence.

Martha walked up to Howie with a determined glint in her eyes. ‘Now, Howie, you can escort me to the White Drawing Room. You and I are going to have a little chat.’

Howie’s heart sank into his socks. Little chats always meant big trouble.

***

We Have Lost The Coffee is published today! Happy publication day, Paul Mathews!

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abouttheauthor

Paul Mathews is a 40-something British guy who’s given up his 9-to-5 job in London to become a full-time comedy novelist. Why did he make this bold step? Well, he’d had enough of crazy managers and uncooperative printers. So one afternoon, after nearly 20 years working at the heart of the British Government, he shut down his computer, deleted all his emails and escaped the office – never to return. (Okay, it wasn’t quite as dramatic as that, but he is a fiction writer, so please cut him a little slack.)

His two decades working as a Government press officer gave him an invaluable insight into all the key elements of modern government: bureaucracy, bungling, buffoonery, buck-passing and other things that don’t begin with the letter ‘b’ – such as politicians with huge egos and very little talent. He’s now putting that knowledge to use by writing about a British Government of the future – where, believe it or not, the politicians are even bigger idiots than the current lot.

Before becoming a PR guy, he was an accountant. But he doesn’t like to talk about that. And going back further, he went to Cambridge University and studied philosophy. Despite thousands of hours of thoughtful contemplation, he still hasn’t worked out how that happened. The highlight of his university years was receiving a £300 travel grant to visit Prague and ‘study philosophy’. It was a trip which ignited his love of Eastern Europe where he spends a lot of time writing and drinking black beer.

Other interests include wearing sunglasses and having his photograph taken. Visit his website for more info on this (allegedly) humorous man: www.iamthe.website

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Edna & Luna by Gleah Powers @GPwriterartist #guestreview

Christine returns to the blog today with her thoughts on Edna & Luna, a novella which was a finalist in the 2017 New Generation Indie Book Awards.

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Author : Gleah Powers
Title : Edna & Luna
Pages : 164
Genre : Contemporary fiction
Publisher : Vine Leaves Press
Publication date : September 28, 2016

aboutthebook

Set in the American Southwest, Edna and Luna is the story of two women: a lonely, recently widowed eccentric and a much younger new age healer.

Facing old age and a hysterectomy, Edna, at 70, reminisces and ruminates about her losses as she makes unsuccessful attempts to start a new life. She tries to befriend her hairdresser, her gardener and a man she meets at a senior dance who makes sexual advances in the swimming pool.

Luna, at 35, ridiculed since childhood for her unorthodox gift of healing, has left a violent husband before moving to a local trailer park. Despite Edna’s initial suspicions that Luna is both out of her mind and after her money, their relationship becomes an odyssey filled with unpredictable depths and discoveries for both women.

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Edna and Luna is an unconventional little story (164 pages) by first time author Gleah Powers.  Reading Ms. Powers’ Goodreads profile, she has a lot of lifetime experience that prepared her for writing this tale. Write what you know, right?

The novella is set in the American Southwest. Edna is an older gal, a childless widow, who is finally realizing that she is not going to have anyone to take care of her when she is hit with the infirmities of the elderly. She can be curmudgeonly, but I really liked her. Luna is a 35- year-old free spirit who has a gift for healing and a heart of gold that she inherited from her dear father. Sadly, he disappeared when she was 16. She too is on her own and scrounges to make ends meet. She has always wished for a husband and baby, but those have not been in the cards.  Each of these two women tries her best to make a life for herself and to connect with others, but it’s very difficult for both. The stars finally align and these two are brought together. They couldn’t be more different, but they complement each other beautifully.

This story deals with the true meaning of caring, commitment and family; and the fact that blood isn’t always thicker than water. I found it heartening and poignant.  My only wish is that it had been longer in order to explore their relationship in more depth. A sweet epilogue partially compensated for this.

I enjoyed this little book and recommend it to all looking for a quick yet touching read.

Many thanks to Ms. Gleah Powers for gifting me a copy of Edna and Luna in exchange for an unbiased review.

Edna & Luna was published in September 2016.

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That One May Smile by @ValerieKeogh1 @TAsTPublicity #blogtour #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for That One May Smile by Valerie Keogh. I’ll be sharing an extract with you today right after the important bookish bits. Many thanks to Noelle and Kate for having me on the tour!

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Author : Valerie Keogh
Title : That One May Smile
Pages : 310
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : June 17, 2014

aboutthebook

When Kelly Johnson’s husband disappears, her perfect world in the Foxrock suburb of Dublin falls apart. Then she stumbles on a dead body in the graveyard behind her house.
A coincidence? Garda Sergeant Mike West thinks so until he finds a link between the dead body and Kelly’s missing husband.

And then to add to the problem, Kelly disappears.

The investigation takes West first to Cornwall and then to Cork, on the trail of a tangled case involving identity theft, blackmail and illegal drugs. And as if the complications of the case weren’t enough there is the constant, irritating – and definitely unsuitable – attraction, to the beautiful Kelly, who will keep disappearing!

extract

Climbing back into the car, West cast a glance over Kelly who appeared calmer and concentrated on turning the car in the narrow road. They had to return to Falmouth, to the Divisional Headquarters whose morgue now held the body of Cyril Pratt aka Simon Johnson.

‘Where did it happen?’ Kelly asked once the car was heading in the right direction. In her mind she was picturing Simon injured in his car, calling for her. She closed her eyes tightly on the image. My poor Simon!

West’s words shattered the image. ‘It wasn’t a car-crash, Kelly,’ he told her. He looked at her quickly seeing the expectant look on her face. There was no easy way to say it. There never was. ‘Your car was found on the outskirts of Falmouth yesterday evening. Simon was sitting in the front seat. He had been strangled.’

Kelly gasped. ‘He was murdered?’ She gave a high-pitched hysterical laugh. ‘Of course he was murdered, idiot. It’s impossible to strangle yourself.’ She wrung her hands together in distress, tears now flowing freely down her face. Simon was murdered, Simon was murdered, the three words repeating on a loop she thought she would hear forever.

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I hope that teaser has made you curious enough to go and pick up this book!

That One May Smile is available now!

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abouttheauthor

Valerie Keogh is from Dublin but currently lives with her husband and two cats ten miles from Bath, U.K. She works two to three days a week as a nurse and spends the other days writing. That One May Smile is the first of her crime series, the Garda West series, based in  Ireland. She also writes a series based in the U. K, the Hudson and Connolly series, about a female serial killer who works with the police. There is also a stand-alone psychological thriller, Exit Five from Charing Cross. When not working or writing she likes to walk along the Kennet and Avon canal, daydreaming and working out plots. She also loves to travel and usually comes home with a new story to write. She is partial to lemon drizzle cak, crusty bread with hummus, and wine.

Facebook: Valerie Keogh

Twitter: @ValerieKeogh1

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The Betrayed by Casey Kelleher @bookouture #blogtour

Thrilled to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for The Betrayed today. Thank you Noelle for inviting me! Feast your eyes on the bookish bits and then read on for my thoughts.

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Author : Casey Kelleher
Title : The Betrayed
Pages : 328
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : June 21, 2017

aboutthebook

Those closest to you don’t stab you in the back. Do they?

Jimmy Byrne is one of the biggest faces on the Soho scene. Equally feared and respected, he’s clawed his way to the top. Money is his game, and he’ll make it by any means necessary.

When Jimmy sets his sights on shy young Colleen Walsh, she is quickly seduced by his sweet words and the life of luxury he offers her. But behind the diamonds and fur coats lies the reality of gangland violence – and by the time she realises the truth, she’s already in too deep.

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Well, now. This is my first introduction to Casey Kelleher (yes, I’ve been living under a rock, shut up) and if her previous work is as fantastic as this, I’ve most definitely been missing out!

Meet Jimmy Byrne. Handsome, charming, respected but also feared. By all appearances a wealthy businessman on the up, he guards quite a few secrets. Not least of all, how he really makes his money.

Then he meets Colleen. Young and shy, she quickly finds herself in the middle of a whirlwind romance which is making her mother, Edel, absolutely ecstatic. Because surely her daughter can’t do any better than Jimmy?

Despite her misgivings, Colleen falls in love with Jimmy. But he’s not who she thinks he is. Underneath the fancy suit, there’s something dark and evil and living a lie.

This is a story of lies, secrets and betrayal with some brilliant characterisation. But it was Edel who stole the show for me. What a fabulous character! A strong personality with an amazing sense of humour, she just wants what’s best for her daughter. No airs nor graces, and not giving a hoot what other people think about her. On the other hand, there’s Joanie. Jimmy’s mother is loathsome and her actions will affect those around her for years to come.

I don’t want to give away too much about the plot, which is also the reason I cut short the description of the book at the top of the page. But suffice to say the ending is left wide open for a sequel and if that happens, I’ll be right there with bells on!

Those closest to you don’t stab you in the back, do they? Yes. Yes, they do! As pretty much every character in this book will find out at some point, you can’t trust anyone. Ever! No, I don’t have trust issues. Why do you ask?

Many thanks to Kim and Noelle at Bookouture for my advanced copy and the opportunity to join the tour!

The Betrayed is out now!

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abouttheauthor

Casey Kelleher was born in Cuckfield, West Sussex. Growing up she became an avid reader, loving in particular gritty crime thrillers and gangland books.

For information and updates on Casey Kelleher, visit her at:

http://caseykelleher.co.uk

http://caseykelleher.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/OfficialCaseyKelleher/

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Weekly Wrap-Up (June 25)

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In case you missed it, it was superduper hot as a heatwave hit these shores so there was lots of ice-cream and very little sleep. The weather has done a complete u-turn and now I’m cold. I swear I was born in the wrong country. So, warm and sunny weather and of course, all those people who don’t have a garden come and hang out in yours. Bye bye reading time, which means I managed to read 7 books this week. Technically, seven and a half as there was one I didn’t finish but I’m not listing that one. And yes, I know, that’s not bad but I was kind of aiming for 9. 😄

Books I read this week :

Books I bought this week :

Only 1 since a little birdie told me last week that e-books don’t count. 😂 Although, as promised, I tried that theory out on the OH and failed miserably!

ARC’s received via Netgalley :

Technically, two. Because the last one is for a blog tour. I love how I’m constantly trying to find excuses.

This week’s book post :

I won a signed paperback of Exquisite over on My Reading Corner and Karen also kindly sent me her copy of The Friend. Camino Island was a bookdepository order that arrived this week and What She Lost was sent to me by the author.

On the blog this past week :

Monday : Reviewed One Wrong Turn

Tuesday : Hosted a stop on the A Deadly Game blog tour

Wednesday : Another blog tour, this time for Wolves in the Dark and This Week in Books

Thursday : I hosted a stop on the blog tour for Safe With Me and Christine shared her thought on Stateroom Tryst

Friday : Yes, another blog tour. This time for Guilty and I was tagged for The Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag which did indeed make me freak out.

Sunday : Shared my review for the brilliant Katharine of Aragon by Alison Weir and posted my Weekly Wrap-Up. Then I had a nap. Zzzzzzz.

Next week on noveldeelights :

I’ll be hosting stops on blog tours every day except for Friday. I don’t even know how that happened but there you go. Here’s a spoiler : one of them is an absolute corker!

In other news, I managed to get the Top Reviewer badge on Netgalley. I may have patted myself on the shoulder.

Question of the week : Why are some ebooks so expensive? No, really, why? I saw one a while ago that was listed at $20! Do you think it’s right that you sometimes pay the same price for an ebook as for a paperback? If the prices are nearly the same, do you opt for the ebook or the paperback? I tend to not want to pay more than $10 for an ebook. Especially when you can get the paperback for less sometimes, depending on where you shop. So, thoughts?

Have a stupendously awesome week and happy reading! xx