Liberation Square by Gareth Rubin | @GarethRubin @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90 | #blogtour #bookreview

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Liberation Square by Gareth Rubin! My thanks to Jenny Platt at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join and the wonderful review copy!

Author : Gareth Rubin
Title : Liberation Square
Pages : 340
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : April 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

After the disastrous failure of D-Day, Britain is occupied by Nazi Germany, and only rescued by Russian soldiers arriving from the east and Americans from the west. The two superpowers divide the nation between them, a wall running through London like a scar.

On the Soviet side of the wall, Jane Cawson calls into her husband’s medical practice, hoping to surprise him. But instead she detects the perfume worn by his former wife, Lorelei, star of propaganda films for the new Marxist regime.

Jane rushes to confront them, but soon finds herself caught up in the glamorous actress’s death.

Her husband Nick is arrested for murder. Desperate to clear his name, Jane must risk the attention of the brutal secret police as she follows a trail of corruption right to the highest levels of the state.

And she might find she never really knew her husband at all.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Well, here is a frightening scenario.

The year is 1952. The setting is London. But not the London we all know. D-Day was an enormous failure and the war was lost. The United Kingdom has been divided in two with a wall running through London. Jane and her husband Nick live in the Republic, under Russian control. Jane suspects her husband of having an affair with his first wife, Lorelei. When Jane decides to confront them, she finds Lorelei dead in the bathtub and soon, husband Nick is arrested by the National Secret Service. But all is not what it seems.

Jane is just your average woman who suddenly finds herself in the middle of extraordinary circumstances. Not only is goodness knows what happening to her husband while he’s being held but she also suddenly finds herself responsible for his daughter from his previous marriage. Desperate to find evidence that will help free her husband, she soon ends up in situations she is wholly unprepared for.

Life is not a bed of roses on this side of the wall. Corruption is rife and the things that have been promised do not come to fruition. Danger lurks around every corner. People are arrested and disappear. You can’t even trust your neighbours, who seem to be watching your every move, ready to inform the authorities. Some try to escape, making desperate attempts to reach the other side of the wall. Most fail.

The cover of this book is black and white with some red highlights standing out and that’s exactly how I saw things in my head while reading. At its heart, Liberation Square is a murder mystery and I felt it had a bit of a noir vibe to it. As Jane digs deeper, trying to figure out who was responsible for Lorelei’s death, she uncovers a multitude of secrets and is left to wonder if she knows her husband at all. With so much deceit going on everywhere, I ended up being suspicious of just about everyone and had a hard time imagining living my life like that. Scary.

With a fascinating and original premise, Liberation Square turned into quite the surprising read for me. I say that because dystopian stories don’t always hit the right spot with me but this one most definitely did. Having the added bonus of a murder mystery and a bit of a spy thriller touch to it, made this an enjoyable, atmospheric and gripping story. One that had me guessing until the end and in awe of the utterly believable alternative scenario.

Liberation Square is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Gareth Rubin is a British journalist and author. His journalism covers social affairs, travel, architecture, arts and health. His novel Liberation Square is a mystery thriller set in Soviet-occupied London.

In 2013 he directed a documentary, Images of Bedlam, about the connection between art and mental illness and how art can help people express that which they cannot put into words. It was filmed at the Bethlem Royal Hospital (‘Bedlam’) and interviews artists with a history of psychiatric illness.

He previously worked as an actor on stage and television.

The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans | @HarrietEvans @headlinepg @annecater | #blogtour #bookreview #publicationday

Delighted to host a stop on publication day for The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my beautiful review copy.

Author : Harriet Evans
Title : The Garden of Lost and Found
Pages : 480
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : April 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.

Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.

One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…

When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.

Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

| MY THOUGHTS |

It’s been a while since I read a family saga but I was quickly reminded of why they make such engrossing stories. Especially when they are as brilliantly written as this one. It took just a few pages for me to be swept along and become absolutely captivated.

The Garden of Lost and Found is centred around the Horner family and a painting. Ned Horner used to be quite the well-known artist and “The Garden of Lost and Found” was his masterpiece. It captured his children on a beautiful day, playing in the garden of their beloved home, Nightingale House. But in 1919, a few days before his death, Ned destroys the painting.

Now, Ned’s great-granddaughter Juliet returns to Nightingale House for the first time since her grandmother died. True to form, there are a lot of family secrets to discover but most importantly, there is a mystery to be solved. Because what could possibly have driven Ned to destroy his most famous painting?

The Garden of Lost and Found is full of complex characters, some a bit more flawed and unlikeable than others, yet all incredibly realistic and believable. For most of the novel, I was mostly drawn to the chapters set in the past. I suspect that’s the crime fiction lover in me, who was desperately trying to figure out the answers before Juliet did in the modern day setting. And to be quite fair, her children drove me up the wall. Yet it also brought home how different things were generations back when the kind of behaviour they display wouldn’t have been tolerated for a second.

Despite having had The Wildflowers on my shelf for the longest time, this was my first introduction to Harriet Evans. I really enjoyed her writing style as it’s beautifully descriptive. At times it felt as if I was right there at Nightingale House, hearing the rain patter on the windows, smelling the glorious scents from the garden, maybe even hear a mouse skitter across the floorboards.

At almost 500 pages, this isn’t exactly a quick read but at no point did it drag or become boring. It never felt like a long book as I became completely immersed and invested in these characters’ lives, losing myself within the pages. The Garden of Lost and Found is an engrossing, enchanting and sometimes emotional story about family, love and secrets. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with these characters and I will definitely be reading more by Harriet Evans.

The Garden of Lost and Found is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Harriet Evans is the author, Going Home, A Hopeless Romantic, The Love of Her Life, I Remember You, Love Always, Happily Ever After and Not Without You. Before becoming a full time writer Harriet was a successful editor for a London publishing house. She lives in London with her family.

White Leaves of Peace by Tracey Iceton | @BultiauwBooks | #blogtour #guestpost

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for White Leaves of Peace by Tracey Iceton. My thanks to Karen Bultiauw for the invitation to join. White Leaves of Peace is the final instalment in the Celtic Colour Trilogy and today, Tracey visits my blog to talk about the research that went into this series.

Author : Tracey Iceton
Title : White Leaves of Peace
Series : Celtic Colours Trilogy #3
Pages : 200
Publisher : Cinnamon Press
Publication date : March 4, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

The final part of the explosive Celtic Colours Trilogy. When the big men get around the table on Good Friday of 1998 and sign up to peace in Northern Ireland nine year old Cian Duffy’s story should have ended. Instead it is the beginning of a decade of Troubles for him. Haunted by his mother’s IRA past and chased by present day violence sectarianism, Cian ends up being forced to flee peace-torn Belfast. Facing a life in exile, he reconciles himself the past and makes a new life for himself, somewhere he feels he belongs. 

Then Britain votes for Brexit; the old adage of England’s difficulty being Ireland’s opportunity is tabled yet again and Cian has to confront the past and the future. 

White Leaves of Peace is a stark reminder that ending a war takes more than the signing of a treaty. Peace is hard won. You have to fight for it.

Available to buy from Amazon UK

| GUEST POST |

Researching the Celtic Colours Trilogy

The Celtic Colours trilogy has been my most heavily researched fiction project, weaving real historical events into the plots and using real people as characters alongside invented characters and imagined storylines.  Doing so I discovered the advantages of research-based fiction writing.

Parts one and two, Green Dawn at St Enda’s and Herself Alone in Orange Rain required extensive research.  Green Dawn, set 1911-1916, tells the story of fictional schoolboy Finn Devoy who ends up fighting in the Dublin Easter Rising.  I knew little about the topic so read widely and visited relevant places, including the Pearse Museum in Dublin which is as it was when it was St Enda’s.  This all helped recreate period and place in the book and ensure accuracy.  Orange Rain is set during the 1980s, when I was a child.  The book centres on Caoilainn Devoy, Finn’s granddaughter, and her experiences as an IRA volunteer.  Again it needed much research, reading accounts by/about IRA women and uncovering pertinent facts.  I also talked to people who lived through this period and drew on that during the writing.  Though somewhat problematic, this firsthand research added an extra dynamic, bringing the story to life for me; I hope this comes over in the novel.

Set in my own lifetime, I thought White Leaves of Peace would require the least research.  I was wrong.  When did ipods come out?  What was the craze in kids’ toys in 1998?  Who was in the charts in the early 2000s?  I made work for myself by having the main character, Cian Duffy (Caoilainn’s son) be a computer nerd and I’m expecting letters from IT experts pointing out my ‘tech’ errors.  More significantly, reading around events in Northern Ireland during the period I realised how much I didn’t know, news that didn’t cross the Irish sea.  It was a lesson to never assume I know what I need to in order to write about something.  I also did more firsthand research, talking to people who knew what Cian’s life would have been like which was invaluable.  And I was able to draw on my own experiences, particularly for the Australia section of the novel – I lived there for a year.  If you can use what you know you should, although I wouldn’t let lack of knowledge restrict me.  If a topic interests me enough to write about it, it interests me enough to research it also.

So to anyone considering research-heavy novel projects I say don’t be deterred.  Researching can take fiction to exciting places, uncovering unexpected angles to stories and introducing writers to people who will make for engaging characters.  Researching, although time-consuming, can make writing easier, giving you a framework for the story.  And truth really can be wilder than fiction so why not use it to your advantage?

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Tracey Iceton is an author and creative writing tutor from Teesside who completed a PhD in creative writing at Northumbria University. An English teacher experienced in delivering creating writing courses and workshops, Tracey won the 2013 HISSAC short story prize for ‘Butterfly Wings’, was runner up in the 2013 and 2014 Cinnamon Press short story competitions with ‘Slag’ and ‘As the world (re)turns’, which appear in the anthologies Journey Planner and Patria. She also won the 2011 Writers Block NE Home Tomorrow Short Story Competition and has been shortlisted for the 2012 Bristol Short Story Competition with ‘Apple Shot’ and the 2015 Mslexia Women’s Short Story Competition for ‘Ask Not’. 

Green Dawn at St Enda’s, her debut novel and part one of her Celtic Colours Trilogy, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2016 followed by Herself Alone in Orange Rain in 2017. White Leaves of Peace is the final part of the companion trilogy. 

Tracey regularly reads at literary events. Her stories have appeared in; Prole, Litro, Neon, Tears in the Fence, The Momaya Annual Review, The Yellow Room and Writer’s Muse. 

You can find her online on her website www.trywriting.co.uk.

Suddenly Single by Carol Wyer | @carolewyer @canelo_co | #blogtour #extract #SuddenlySingle

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Suddenly Single by Carol Wyer today! My thanks to Ellie at Canelo for the invitation to join! I have an extract to share with you but first, here is what the book is all about.

Author : Carol Wyer
Title : Suddenly Single
Pages : 308
Publisher : Canelo
Publication date : April 8, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When bestselling romance author Chloe Piper’s marriage implodes a week before Christmas, she flees her cheating ex and the village gossips for the solitude of the newly built Sunny Meadow Farm and the company of her hapless dog, Ronnie.

But Chloe is soon pushed out of her comfort zone. Because with a lively development building crew – headed up by charming Alex – and a larger-than-life neighbour determined to make Chloe’s love life her pet project, Chloe finds herself in a whole new world of chaos…

| EXTRACT |

Faith was the first to comment. ‘Chloe, it’s perfect. So you.’ 

The kitchen was a blend of contemporary trends of industrial and neutral tones, while holding on to a warm essence. Open shelving created a relaxed atmosphere and the designer Italian stools that stood by a large rustic island would be ideal for casual dining. Mood lighting over the island and task lighting over the kitchen units created a great balance while the natural light that flooded through the huge windows softly illuminated the entire space.

Faith pointed to it. ‘I can picture myself sitting there, glass of wine in hand and snacking on some warm, crusty bread. Ah, bliss!’

‘You’ll definitely come and visit me here in the wilds of Staffordshire, then.’

‘You bet. It has a certain appeal,’ she added, her eye drawn to the figure tapping on the window attempting to attract Thomas’s attention. It was Jack. Thomas stuck up a thumb in acknowledgement and the carpenter departed.

‘They’re all keen to know if you’re happy with it,’ said Thomas.

‘Very,’ replied Chloe, savouring being in her own home.

The island’s pale marble top had a hint of pink that was reflected in pink roses that stood in a light pink flower bag. She hastened towards them breathing in their delicate perfume.

‘The flowers are beautiful. You shouldn’t have bought them.’ Her cheeks had turned the same shade of pink as the petals. Thomas merely smiled a response, his attention on Ronnie, who scuttled about the kitchen checking every corner and sniffing the length of every skirting board.

‘Is this the lounge?’ asked Faith, wandering towards the wooden door at the far end of the kitchen. She opened it and emitted a squeal of delight. ‘A whopper of a log burner, and it’s alight! It’s gorgeous. How toasty! Ooh, lovely huge settees. You have good taste, Chloe. These are much nicer than those leather things you had at the old place. Okay, forget the island and the crusty bread. I’m thinking more of snuggling up in front of this with a glass of mulled wine.’

The smile on Thomas’s face broadened. He turned towards Chloe. ’Couldn’t have you coming into a chilly house, could we? I got my lad, Alex, to fetch up some wood for you. We stacked it around the back of the house and you should have enough to last you over Christmas.’

‘I really don’t know what to say. You’ve been amazing. I’m sure you’ve done more than you ought to have for me. You’ve been here to take delivery of my furniture, bought me light shades, sorted out the television aerial man, advised me on materials and design and held my hand during the whole process.’

‘We all need a little hand-holding from time to time. The lads and I work on developments all the time. It’s our business and it’s easier for us to find those little necessary bits and pieces, like toilet roll holders and outside lamps or doorstops, than for you to mess about. We only help out the clients we like though,’ he added with a wink. ‘Now, can I ask you a favour?’ He put his large hand into his coat pocket and extracted a copy of a book.

‘My missus would love you to sign this.’

Chloe looked at the cover and gasped. ‘How did you find out? I thought I was anonymous here. No one is supposed to know I wrote it. I wanted to keep it quiet.’

Thomas tapped the side of his nose. ‘I like to find out as much as possible about the folk who buy my houses and I have a particular fondness for this development. This is going to be my last project ever before I retire and I want it to be special with only the “right” people living here. I’ve turned down many folks who have put in offers on these properties. I’m only accepting those from people I feel ought to be here. Call me old. Call me stupid, or quirky, but that’s what I’ve decided to do. It’s taken four years of planning and arguing with authorities to get it this far. I designed all the houses myself so I want them to be cared for and loved as much as I care about them. Don’t worry. I won’t spill the beans about you. An old pal in Appletree told me about you. He heard a rumour. You will sign the book, won’t you? Patricia loved it. She can’t wait for your next one.’

Faith, who had returned from the lounge, pricked up her ears. ‘You’d better get that laptop out pretty quickly. You have fans. And they can’t get enough of your naughty vicar stories. What a great place to write. It’s so peaceful and calm. I expect many more bonkbuster novels from you, Chloe Piper. I’m depending on you to keep me in designer clothes and expensive holidays.’

‘This is my agent, PR guru, right-hand woman and best friend, Faith Hopkins,’ said Chloe, spotting Thomas’s eyebrows lifting in interest. He held out a hand. Faith obliged and shook it.

‘You in publishing?’

‘I am and Chloe is my star client.’

Chloe took the copy of Spank Me Harder, Vicar together with the pen Thomas offered, and wrote a brief message. He read it, smiled, and thanked her.

‘Patricia will be stoked and the ladies at her book club are going to be very jealous she has a signed copy. Thank you. By the way, the flowers aren’t from me. They’re from an anonymous admirer,’ he said, tapping the side of his nose with a broad forefinger again. He opened the fridge and pulled out a bottle of champagne which he handed over. ‘But this is. From the first time I met you I knew you were the right person to buy Sunny Meadow Barn. I hope you’ll be very happy here, Chloe. Now I’m going to leave you and your lovely friend to settle in and if there’s anything you need, just come over to the big barn. The lads will be there until four o’clock.’

Chloe thanked the man again and watched as he plodded carefully around the house and onto the gravel drive towards the as yet unfinished outbuildings.

Has this extract piqued your interest? Do you want read more? Then you’re in luck, because Suddenly Single is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

As a child Carol Wyer was always moving, and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published and journalism in many magazines.

Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

Punch by Kate North | @katetnorth @BultiauwBooks | #blogtour #Punch #guestpost

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Punch by Kate North! My thanks to Karen Bultiauw for the invitation to join! Author Kate North visits my blog today to talk about short stories but first, here is what Punch is all about.

Author : Kate North
Title : Punch
Pages : 114
Publisher : Cinnamon Press
Publication date : March 4, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Punch is a collection of stories exploring the uncanny, the uncomfortable and the surreal in the everyday, at home and abroad.

Whether its a man with a growth on his hand, a couple trying for a baby, a woman finishing a book, a pope with penis envy, or a bullied girl, characters throughout the collection assess their surroundings and are often forced to reassess themselves. 

Punch offers the reader a humorous and disturbing take on life in the twenty-first century.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon UK | Wordery

| GUEST POST |

Hi, I’m Kate North and I’m absolutely thrilled that Eva has handed over the blog spot to me today for the blog tour of my short story collection Punch

I love writing short stories.  I think they are the perfect vehicle for diving into action just before the crux of things.  They also allow you to get out when you have given the reader just enough so they can imagine what might happen next for themselves.  I like short stories that stay with me, stories that unsettle or calm me in some way.  I enjoy working out how and why later.  Writers like Anna Kavan and Ali Smith are really excellent at doing this.  When I was younger I enjoyed the TV shows Tales of the Unexpected and The Twilight Zone for the same reasons.  

The stories in Punch are set in a number of places throughout the UK and across various  European countries.  They are told from a range of perspectives, young through to old, male and female.  What they all have in common is the fact that they explore the weird and how it exists in and amongst the everyday.  I am fascinated by the strange and the un-nerving, how the uncanny can emerge in the most average of settings.  Those moments when you do a double take and say to yourself, ‘did I really just see that?’, the times when you are thinking ‘am I the only person in the room who thinks this is odd?’.  In these instances you can find yourself questioning your own sanity and even facts you know to be true.  These are scenarios that I explore in my stories. I write about how characters respond, whether on a first date or having just moved into a new home.

My stories have characters who are surprised and encounter the unexpected in some way or other.  How they react to a given situation depends upon personality and background, but also on the environment in which they find themselves.  The title story of the collection follows a girl being relentlessly bullied at school, but it isn’t until she finds herself outside of the school that she feels able to respond to her tormentors.  

I also write poetry and I think that may be another reason I am drawn to the short story.  The poem and the short story have a lot in common.  The intense and the lyrical are at home in a short narrative.   You don’t necessarily want or need the expanse of a novel to think about why a character makes a specific decision or how they may react in a particular place.  I think that commuters may like these stories, they are the ideal size for a train or bus trip.  They are short, sharp tales that pack a punch, they are written to make you think.  I’m really looking forward to people reading them.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Kate! I’m always quite impressed at how much information an author can pack into a short story.

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Kate North’s first novel, Eva Shell, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2008 and her poetry collection, Bistro, in 2012. She writes and edits for a number of journals and publications.

She has a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from Cardiff University and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. She lives and teaches in Cardiff.

Visit her website:  www.katenorth.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @katetnorth.

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay | @Tatianaderosnay @WorldEdBooks | #blogtour #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Rainwatcher by Tatiana de Rosnay. My thanks to Julia Forster at World Editions for the invitation to join. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, let’s find out a bit more about the novel.

Author : Tatiana de Rosnay
Title : The Rain Watcher
Pages : 288
Publisher : World Editions
Publication date : March 5, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

It is raining non-stop over Paris. The Malegarde family – split between France, London, and the US – is reunited for the first time in years.

When Paul, a famous yet withdrawn arborist, suffers a stroke in the middle of his 70th birthday celebrations, his son Linden is stuck in a city that is undergoing a stunning natural disaster.

As the Seine bursts its banks and floods the streets, the family will have to fight to keep their unity as hidden fears and secrets also begin to rise.

In this profound and intense novel of love and redemption, De Rosnay demonstrates her wealth of skills both as an incredible storyteller and also as a connoisseur of the human soul.

| EXTRACT |

Opening to The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay

“It’s been like this for the past two weeks,” says the listless taxi driver. The rain pours down, a silver curtain, hissing, obstructing all daylight. It is only ten o’clock in the morning, but to Linden, it feels like dusk glimmering with wetness. The taxi driver says he wants to move away for good, flee Paris, find the sun, go back to balmy Martinique, where he is from. As the car leaves Charles de Gaulle Airport and edges along the jammed highway and ring road that circles the city, Linden cannot help agreeing with him. The sodden suburbs are dismal, clustered contours of cubic volumes bedecked with garish neon billboards flickering in the drizzle. He asks the driver to turn on the radio, and the man comments upon his perfect French, “for an American.” Linden grins. This happens every time he returns to Paris. He replies he’s Franco-American, born in France, French father, American mother, he speaks both languages fluently, with no accent at all. How about that, eh? The driver chortles, fumbles with the radio, well, monsieur certainly looks like an American, doesn’t he, tall, athletic, jeans, sneakers, not like those Parisians with their fancy ties and suits.

The news is all about the Seine. Linden listens while squeaky windshield wipers thrust away rivulets in a never-ending battle. The river has been rising for five days now, since January 15, lapping around the Zouave’s ankles. The huge stone statue of a colonial soldier situated just below the pont de l’Alma is, Linden knows, the popular indicator of the river’s level. In 1910, during the major overflows that inundated the city, the water had crept all the way up to the Zouave’s shoulders. The driver exhales, there’s nothing to be done to prevent a river from flooding, no use fighting nature. Men need to stop tampering with nature; all this is her way of lashing back. As the car inches along sluggish circulation, unrelenting rain pounding on the car roof, Linden is reminded of the email the hotel sent him on Tuesday.

Dear Mr. Malegarde,

We are looking forward to your arrival and stay with us as from Friday, January 19th, at noon, until Sunday, January 21, in the evening (with a late checkout, as requested). However, the traffic situation in Paris might be problematic due to the level of the river Seine. Fortunately, the Chatterton Hotel, situated in the fourteenth arrondissement, is not located in an area liable to inundations, and therefore will not be concerned by the inconvenience. For the moment, the prefecture informs us there is nothing to worry about, but our policy is to update our guests. Please let us know if you need any assistance. Kind regards.

Linden read it at the airport on his way from LA to New York, where he was booked to photograph a British actress for Vanity Fair. He forwarded the message to his sister, Tilia, in London, and to his mother, Lauren, in the Drôme valley, who were to join him in Paris that Friday. Linden had not included Paul in the email because his father only appreciated letters and postcards, not emails. His sister’s answer, which he received when he landed hours later at JFK, made him chuckle.

Floodings?! What?! Again? Don’t you remember there was already a scary flood in Paris last November? And what about the one in June 2016? It took us years to organize this bloody weekend, and now this?! She signed off with a series of scowling emoticons.

Later, his mother replied to both of them: Will come by boat if we have to, dragging your father away from his trees! To at last be together! No way will we cancel this family gathering! See you on Friday, my loves!

The Malegarde family was meeting in Paris to celebrate Paul’s seventieth birthday, as well as Lauren and Paul’s fortieth wedding anniversary.

Linden had not given the hotel’s warning another thought. When he left New York for Paris on Thursday evening, he felt weary. It had been two full days, and before that, weeks of hard work around the globe. He would have preferred to fly back home to San Francisco, to Elizabeth Street, to Sacha and the cats. He had not seen much of Sacha, nor the cats, in the past month. Rachel Yellan, his dynamic agent, had landed him one job after the other, a dizzying swirl from city to city that left him depleted and longing for a break. The narrow blue house in Noe Valley and its cherished inhabitants would have to wait until this special family event was over.

“Just the four of us,” his mother had said, all those months ago, when she had booked hotel and restaurant. Was he looking forward to this? he wondered as the plane took off. They had not often been together, just the four of them, since his teenage years at Sévral, where he grew up, and more so, since he had left Vénozan, his father’s familial domain, in 1997, at nearly sixteen. He saw his parents once or twice a year, and his sister whenever he went to London, which was frequently. Why did “just the four of us” sound both so cozy and ominous? 

On the flight to Paris, Linden read Le Figaro and realized with a jab of apprehension that the situation described by the hotel was, in fact, disquieting. The Seine had already flooded in late November, as Tilia pointed out, after a wet summer and autumn, and previously, in June 2016. Parisians had kept a wary eye on the Zouave, and the little waves lapping up his shins. Fortunately, the flow had stopped increasing. Le Figaro explained that thanks to modern technology, one could predict the river’s engorgement three days ahead, which left ample time for evacuating. But the actual problem was the torrential rain, which had not lessened. The river was on the rise again, and threateningly fast…

If this extract and Tatiana de Rosnay’s beautiful writing has left you wanting more, then why not buy yourself a copy of The Rain Watcher!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Tatiana de Rosnay, of English, French, and Russian descent, was born in 1961, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, and raised in Boston and Paris.

After studying literature in England at the University of East Anglia, Tatiana worked in Paris as a reporter for Vanity FairPsychologies Magazine, and ELLE.

She has published twelve novels in French and three in English including New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, which sold over eleven million copies worldwide, and was made into a film starring Kristin Scott Thomas in 2010.

Her books have been published in 42 countries and in 2011 she was listed by Le Figaro as the fifth most-read French author worldwide.

Looker by Laura Sims | @ljsims50 @Bookish_Becky @TinderPress | #Looker

Author : Laura Sims
Title : Looker
Pages : 180
Publisher : Tinder Press
Publication date : January 8, 2019 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Have you ever wanted to steal someone else’s life?

The Professor lives in Brooklyn; her partner Nathan has left her; she can’t have a baby. All she’s left with is Nathan’s old moggy, Cat. Who she doesn’t even like.

Then a celebrity actress moves into the area. She’s beautiful, with long auburn hair, perfect skin, a lovely smile. She’s got children – a baby, even. And a husband who seems to adore her. She leaves discarded household items and toys outside for thrift collection. She leaves her windows open, even at night.

There’s no harm, the Professor thinks, in recycling those items. Or looking in through the illuminated glass at that shiny, happy family. Is there?

| MY THOUGHTS |

Wow! For a mere 180 pages, this packs quite the punch!

Looker is the story of an unnamed professor whose life and mind slowly start to unravel after a series of unsuccessful IVF attempts and the departure of her husband. All she’s left with is the cat, and she doesn’t even like it. The unnamed professor becomes fixated and obsessed with the unnamed actress who lives on her street. The actress has everything : good looks, a handsome husband, three children, a nice house and a career. Everything the professor doesn’t have.

This is not an easy read. It’s incredibly unsettling and made me rather uncomfortable at times. But it’s also intensely compelling and slightly voyeuristic in that way where you’re just standing by, watching someone fall apart. It’s like you want to look away but you can’t. While the professor might not be a character to specifically like, she is one to feel some sympathy for because it’s easy to imagine her pain and the jealousy she has to deal with when something that so many other women seemingly effortlessly have in their lives, is completely out of her grasp.

Laura Sims does an incredible job in blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. At times I myself was left to wonder what was real and what wasn’t. I wasn’t entirely sure about how much of the professor’s narration I could trust. Throughout the storyline, a feeling of extreme unease kept growing. This sinking feeling in your bones that lets you know something is coming but you have no idea what. And I didn’t have a clue, as I couldn’t predict the outcome at all.

I’m not entirely sure how to label this book. It isn’t your typical psychological thriller, although it seems to be marketed that way. I really hesitate to call it that. It’s more of a fascinating character study about a woman losing her grip on reality. Looker is slightly disturbing, somewhat sad and also creepy all at once. To be honest, at the end of it I was desperate for something fluffy. Yet, it’s brilliantly written and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Huge thanks to Becky Hunter for the review copy!

Looker is available to buy in ebook format. The paperback will be published in July.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Wordery

What Happens in France by Carol Wyer | @carolewyer @canelo_ca @ElliePilcher95 | #blogtour #Biggie

It’s such a pleasure to join the blog tour for What Happens in France by Carol Wyer today! My thanks to the author and the publisher for the invitation to join and for the review copy!

Author : Carol Wyer
Title : What Happens in France
Pages : n/a
Publisher : Canelo
Publication date : January 28, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Bryony Masters has been looking for her long-lost sister, Hannah, for years, but when their father has a stroke her search takes on new urgency. So when primetime game show, What Happens in France, puts a call-out for new contestants, Bryony spots the ultimate public platform to find her reality TV-obsessed sister, and finally reunite their family.

With the help of handsome teammate Lewis, it’s not long before she’s on a private jet heading for the stunning beauty of rural France. With a social media star dog, a high maintenance quiz host and a cast of truly unique characters, Bryony and Lewis have their work cut out for them to stay on the show and in the public eye.

Yet as the audience grows and the grand prize beckons they find that the search that brought them together may just fulfil more than one heart’s wish… 

| MY THOUGHTS |

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of Carol Wyer’s books. I’m pretty sure I mentioned at one point that I’ll read whatever she writes. And so that is why you now find me reviewing something I’d normally never pick up. Because Carol Wyer has apparently decided to put my words to the test by leaving the dark side of crime fiction momentarily behind to bring us a romantic comedy.

At the age of sixteen, Bryony’s sister Hannah ran away from home. Since then, there has been no word from her and her family don’t know if she’s still alive or not. When Bryony’s father suffers a stroke and keeps asking about his eldest daughter, Bryony decides to make one final push in trying to find her sister. Encouraged by her best friend, Bryony signs up for an audition for a new game show. She and her sister used to love watching them and Bryony hopes her exposure on the show might lead to news about Hannah’s whereabouts.

And so off to France we go for fun, games and some surprisingly difficult questions. If I had been a contestant on this show, I would have been sent home on day one! A week full of obstacle courses, general knowledge quizzes and even a treasure hunt in delightfully wee cars will change Bryony’s life forever. She meets the most fabulous characters : hot Lewis, the wonderful Jim, brilliant Oscar and let’s not forgot Biggie Smalls, a dog so famous he has his own Instagram account.

True to form in this genre, there are some ups and downs and misunderstandings along the way. But I guarantee you will be rooting for these characters throughout the story. We also get a great glimpse into all the behind the scenes action and it’s quite obvious Carol Wyer has done her research on this. All that waiting and redoing takes would drive me mental.

Will Bryony find love in France? Will she win the game show? But more importantly, will she finally find out what happened to her sister and why she left all those years ago? There’s only one way to find out. Buy yourself a copy and go on a delightful and entertaining adventure to France. Fans of this genre will not be disappointed!

What Happens in France is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

As a child Carol Wyer was always moving, and relied on humour to fit in at new schools. A funny short story won her popularity, planting the seed of becoming a writer. Her career spans dry cleaning, running a language teaching company, and boxercise coaching. Now writing full-time, Carol has several books published and journalism in many magazines.

Carol won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015), and can sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

Author links : Facebook | Twitter

The Cold Years by Joel Hames | @joel_hames @Tr4cyF3nt0n | #blogtour #bookreview

I’m delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for The Cold Years by Joel Hames today! My thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invitation to join!

Author : Joel Hames
Title : The Cold Years
Series : Sam Williams #3
Pages : 314
Publisher : Mainsail Books
Publication date : November 26, 2018

Everyone needs to be heard: if there’s one thing Sam Williams has learned it’s that. Which is why he finds himself defending Richard Fothergill against accusations that date back decades.

But Sam’s real problems are closer to home. His nemesis, Trawden, is finally dead, but so are those he once called friends. The people he used to count on, the ones who aren’t in the ground, aren’t what they once were, either. DI Martins is on his back again, and she’s got company. And Sam’s girlfriend Claire might be recovering from her breakdown, but she’s not telling him everything.

Life would be so much easier if Sam knew the answers. Instead, all he’s got are questions.

Who is following him, and what do they want?

What did Fothergill really do to the children he taught?

And where was Claire the day Edward Trawden was killed? 

Everyone has a secret to hide, but some secrets are too close to home.

The Cold Years is the third instalment in the Sam Williams series but there’s no need to worry as this can be read quite well as a stand-alone. If you have read the previous books but need some help, the author has very kindly added a link at the beginning of the book to refresh your memory. 

For those who don’t know, Sam Williams is a lawyer but not a really successful one. While events in this instalment do connect to those from the previous books, there is enough background story for a new reader not to feel like they’re missing out on too much. However, for me personally, I’m glad I did read the previous ones though as it’s been incredibly fun to watch Joel Hames manage to keep a truckload of balls juggling in the air. So if you have the time, I’d definitely recommend reading all three books in order to give you a better understanding of the characters and their various relationships.

Surprisingly, Sam does actually manage to get hold of a case, defending Richard Fothergill against decades old accusations. But his real problems are a lot closer to home. His girlfriend, Claire, is acting weird. She may very well be recovering from a breakdown but it’s also becoming increasingly apparent that she’s keeping secrets. Friends have died and others aren’t what they used to be, leaving Sam with lots of questions and very little answers.

Sam’s world remains as complicated as ever and there are quite a few players to keep track of but I never found myself at a loss or utterly confused. Although there are various threads to sink your teeth into, the one that stood out for me and really held my attention was the one involving Claire. Just like Sam, I became increasingly suspicious of her behaviour but I couldn’t at all figure out whether or not it was justified, and if she was up to something, what that could possibly be.

The Cold Years is another thrilling addition to the Sam Williams series. It’s intricately plotted, with some delightful twists and will keep you guessing until the end. Sam remains a remarkably likeable character, someone to get behind and root for and solving mysteries alongside a lawyer makes a nice change from all the detective stories out there. I’m not sure if there will be more from Sam in the future. If there is, that’d be wonderful, but if not, it’s been a fabulous adventure!

The Cold Years is out now!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

Joel Hames lives in rural Lancashire, England, with his wife and two daughters, where he works hard at looking serious and pretending to be a proper novelist.

After a varied career in London which involved City law firms, a picture frame warehouse, an investment bank and a number of market stalls (he has been known to cry out “Belgian chocolates going cheap over ‘ere” in his sleep), Joel relocated from the Big Smoke to be his own boss. As a result, he now writes what he wants, when he wants to (which by coincidence is when the rest of the family choose to let him).

Joel’s first novel, Bankers Town, was published in 2014, and The Art of Staying Dead followed in 2015. The novellas Brexecution (written and published in the space of ten days following the UK’s Brexit referendum, with half of the profits going to charity) and Victims were published in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

Joel’s website can be found at http://www.joelhamesauthor.com/, where you can find out more about the writer and the books, and sign up to his email newsletter. If you want to know what Joel has planned for the future, what he thinks right now, or just stalk him a little, you can find him on Facebook at facebook.com/joelhamesauthor or Twitter at @joel_hames.

Joel has never seen the word “Joel” appear as frequently as it does right here, and wholeheartedly approves.

Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch | @Angela_Petch @rararesources | #blogtour #guestpost

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to join. Author Angela Petch joins me on the blog today to talk about what prompted her to write this novella.

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Author : Angela Petch
Title : Mavis and Dot
Pages : 206
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : November 14, 2018

aboutthebook

A warm slice of life, funny, feel-good, yet poignant. Introducing two eccentric ladies who form an unlikely friendship.Meet Mavis and Dot – two colourful, retired ladies who live in Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore. Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves in escapades involving illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees and more. And then there’s Mal, the lovable dog who nobody else wants. A gently humorous, often side-splitting, heart-warming snapshot of two memorable characters with past secrets and passions. Escape for a couple of hours into this snapshot of a faded, British seaside town. You’ll laugh and cry but probably laugh more.”This book is quirky and individual, and has great pathos…[it] will resonate with a lot of readers.” Gill Kaye – Editor of Ingenu(e). Written with a light touch in memory of a dear friend who passed away from ovarian cancer, Angela Petch’s seaside tale is a departure from her successful Tuscan novels. 

All profits from the sale of the books will go towards research into the cure for cancer.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

guestpost

Mavis and Dot is a departure from my usual historical novels and I’m apprehensive about how it will be received. But, it’s a novella I have wanted to write since losing my best friend to ovarian cancer twelve years ago.

Olga and I met at the school gates. Our daughters remain best friends – my Emily was bridesmaid last year to her Beth. A candle for Olga was lit and I am sure she was there… When she was alive we often went on “jaunts”, as we called them, hunting in charity shops for bargains. Sometimes we found monstrosities too and we basically had a good laugh. We called each other Mavis and Dot. When her diagnosis was terminal, I wrote her a silly story about us – but it wasn’t really about us. It was about the caricatures we’d invented for ourselves. She enjoyed it and drew a picture which I have framed on my loo door.

It’s taken me a long time to turn into something longer than one story and I hope it will entertain and raise some pennies and pounds for research into cancer. Because she and loads of other sufferers should still be here today.

There are ridiculous moments in Mavis and Dot, but there are poignant episodes too. Both ladies had difficult pasts. Recently retired to the seaside, they are lonely and, although very different, form a friendship; a kind of prop. Then, Mavis meets Lance, a singer in a night club who likes to wear frocks and in Chapter 22, he drags them out one autumn afternoon.

Two days later, Lance came to the door. ‘Right, ladies, I’ve come to whisk you both away for the afternoon.’

He stepped into the hall and Mal growled, the fur on his back rising, ‘It’s all right, mate, don’t you remember me?’ Lance said, bending to the dog who backed away, tail between his legs.

‘You have to admit,’ said Dot, ‘you do look rather different from the other day.’

Her gaze took in his knee-length black frock, fur jacket and crocodile-leather ankle boots.

‘Can’t your hound smell my scent, Dottie?’

‘She’s Dot, remember!’ Mavis intervened.

‘Oh, I don’t mind Lance calling me Dottie,’ said Dot.

‘Takes one dotty person to recognise another, eh?’ Lance giggled,

‘Yes, well…’ Dot said. ‘Anyway, Mal probably can’t recognise your scent today because of whatever you’ve drenched yourself in.’ She pinched her nose between finger and thumb. ‘What on earth is it?’

‘I stopped in Beale’s on the way to the bus and tried loads of perfume testers,’ Lance said, holding out his wrist to Dot, who wrinkled her nose. ‘I’m not sure I can come with you today,’ she said. ‘What if hospital lets baby Dorothea out early? I should be here for them.’

‘I’m taking no excuses, Dot. It will do you good to get out of the house,’ Lance said. ‘Mave, do you have a belt I could borrow? To nip this in at the waist?’ He pulled at the loose material of his dress.”

I’ll admit Mavis and Dot are caricatures – exaggerations or oversimplifications. But we all have our little ways, we are all products of our past and we are all individuals. One of my editors was annoyed by my ladies “of a certain age”. “I was a young woman in the 60s,” she said, “and I would never have behaved like Mavis.” We are all different, is my counter-argument.

I hope readers enjoy meeting Mavis and Dot.

abouttheauthor

A prize-winning author, Angela Petch lives half the year in West Sussex and the summer months in a remote valley in the Tuscan Apennines. She recently signed a two-book deal with Bookouture for her Tuscan novels and “Mavis and Dot” is a temporary departure from her usual genre. She has travelled all her life: born in Germany, she spent six years as a child living in Rome, worked in Amsterdam after finishing her degree in Italian, moved to Italy for her job, then to Tanzania for three years. Her head is full of stories and she always carries a pen and note-book to capture more ideas.

In May 2017, Angela Petch won PRIMA’S monthly short story competition and recently had a dozen stories published by The People’s Friend magazine.

“Mavis and Dot” was written in memory of a dear friend who lost her battle with ovarian cancer. All profits from sales of the book will go towards research into a cure for cancer. 

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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