Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Gods Children by Mabi Roberts #honno #Godschildren #damppebblesblogtours

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‘Kate Marsden: nurse, intrepid adventurer, saviour of the lepers or devious manipulator, immoral and dishonest?’ As she lies on her deathbed visited by the ghosts of her past, who should we believe, Kate or those who accuse her of duplicity? Memory is a fickle thing: recollections may be frozen in time or distorted by the mirror of wishful thinking. Kate’s own story is one of incredible achievements, illicit love affairs and desperate longing; those of her accusers paint a very different portrait – of a woman determined on fame and fortune. The reader navigates a narrative as fractured as the Siberian ice Kate crosses in search of a cure for leprosy, and as beautiful as Rose, her lost love, as the full picture emerges of a life lived when women were not expected to break the mould.

Review

I would like to thank the author, Hono Press and blog tour organiser Emma Welton for the ARC in return for an honest review.

I would like to thank the author, Hono Press and blog tour organiser Emma Welton for the ARC in return for an honest review.

“Memories are bullets. Some whiz by and only spook you. Others tear you open and leave you in pieces.” ― Richard Kadrey, Kill the Dead

The beauty of Gods Children is the way it takes this idea, that memories can be duplicitous and weave around it the story of Kate Marsden, nurse, explorer and savour of Lepers. Or is she? As Kate lies in a hospital bed, approaching the end of her life, we learn of her extraordinary story through a series of jumbled and fractured memories. As we read, we learn her version of events and that of the ghosts from her past who accuse her of falsehood. We have to decide whom to believe, which memories to place our faith in, for based on this, she is heroine or charlatan.

It is utterly intriguing, the way we never really know, and for me it created an atmosphere of contradictory emotions and diverging thoughts. I was torn as I read, who did I place my faith in, this flawed, passionate women or the ghosts that plague her last days. I don’t think I have felt so conflicted when reading a book before about a character and it was exhilarating, because it so beautifully written, the story so cleverly constructed. I liked it a lot, because its’s so different from many other books, it felt open ended to me and I enjoyed that uncertainty that lingered in my mind and still does days after finishing it. Other readers may feel differently, might be able to decide if they believe Kate’s memories one way or another and that is great. Simply because this is the type of story that really will mean different things to different readers. It created a wealth of interpretations not normally open to readers of more traditionally told linear stories. The use of memories, some we can trust, some we cannot be sure of, created a sense mistrust of all the characters and left me with a palatable unease at the end. But this disquiet only served to make this novel, one of the best I’ve read so far this year, because you can’t Pidgeon hole it! You can’t simply put it down and move on, the story and my feelings are still lingering, as I continue to think about the motivations of Kate and those who seek to judge her.

What makes this story even more fascinating is that Kate Marsden, complex and depending on whose version of her life you believe, was a real life nurse and missionary. At a time when women were expected to say at home, when men were the intrepid explorers, she investigated a cure of leprosy and created a treatment centre. Dogged by accusations of financial irregularity and condemned because of her sexuality, her life was far from the ‘normal’ of that period. The character in Gods Children reflects both her visionary outlook and the persecution she faced as an LGBT women. However, it doesn’t paint her as perfect, it reflects the contractionary way she was seen. It asks us to look at her attackers and ask, did they pursue her unfairly, was it rooted in homophobia, or was she all of these things, reflecting both her great works and her failings. She is complex and magnificent and it’s up to us as readers to decide if she should be celebrated as a character in this novel or vilified. To me, her complex personality will stay with me for a long time and I will continue to wonder about who she really was. Lost to history, Mabli Roberts should be celebrated for giving her a voice and creating a character of such richness that she will never be forgotten by those that read this novel. I know how I feel about her and I will be fascinated to know how others feel!

A five star read that for its complexity and emotional impact, really should be on the reading list of all lovers of historical literature. The voices of both Kate and the ghosts of her past, shine from the pages and the use of memory in all its flawed glory, gives this novel a feeling of being lost in time. Memories are all that are left to Kate and for us they a are a route into the story of an incredible women.

You can purchase God’s Children from

Amazon UK

Google Books,

Foyles,

Blackwells

Hive

About the author

Mabli Roberts Colour med

Mabli Roberts lives in a wild, mountainous part of Wales. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and has worked as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Wales, Newport. Most of her inspiration comes from her love of history and from long walks in the timeless landscape around her.

Mabli also writes as Paula Brackston, PJ Brackston and PJ Davy. Nutters was shortlisted for the Mind Book Award and The Witch’s Daughter was a New York Times bestseller.

Her work has been translated into five languages and is sold around the world. You can find out more about her books on her website www.paulabrackston.com, her Author’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/worldofpaulabrackston/ and YouTube channel https://m.youtube.com/paulabrackstonbooks?uid=Kk6GiSUE_AJLagHLfM3dyA as well as the God’s Children Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Gods-Children-1476228589147399/

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Blog Tour ~The Disappeared by Amy Lord.

The Disappeared Cover

What if reading the wrong book could get you arrested?

In a decaying city controlled by the First General and his army, expressing the wrong opinion can have terrible consequences. Clara Winter knows this better than anyone. When she was a child, her father was taken by the Authorisation Bureau for the crime of teaching banned books to his students. She is still haunted by his disappearance.

Now Clara teaches at the same university, determined to rebel against the regime that cost her family so much – and her weapons are the banned books her father left behind. But she has started something dangerous, something that brings her to the attention of the Authorisation Bureau and its most feared interrogator, Major Jackson. The same man who arrested Clara’s father.

With her rights stripped away, in a country where democracy has been replaced with something more sinister, will she be the next one to disappear?

Extract

I was eleven when my father disappeared. It’s almost twenty years since the night I last saw him. I still remember that knock at the door; it echoes down through the years, as it echoed that night through the walls of our home.
I use the word ‘disappeared’, but it always feels like a lie. My father didn’t vanish. He didn’t walk to the shops for a packet of cigarettes and fail to come back. He didn’t run away to start another life somewhere, another family. He didn’t even leave behind a body, washed up on some riverbank, or slowly spinning from a straining tree branch.
That last night with my father was like every other. He returned late from his job at the university, where he lectured in English Literature. Public transport was unreliable in those days, when the regime was still taking hold. He would walk the five miles home each day, carrying his bag, heavy with papers. I would watch from our sixth-floor window as he made his way across the car park, past the burned-out shells of old hatchbacks, where the braver children would sometimes play army, machine-gunning each other with sticks or old bits of piping. His ragged hair would take on a life of its own in the breeze, his thin shoulders tensed beneath the weight of his students’ words, twitching uneasily at every fake bullet that came his way.
By then we had been moved into the flat. Shared accommodation, they called it. We weren’t allowed to live in our house in the suburbs any more. My mother mourned the loss of her rose garden and the expensive paper that lined our living room walls, its delicate floral pattern climbing from oak floor to corniced ceiling. She wept about the silverware she was forced to leave behind, a wedding gift from the grandmother who passed away weeks after her marriage.
Our new home became a one-bedroom flat, former housing association detritus that stank of cat piss and had holes in the plaster the size of fists. I slept in the bedroom while my parents shared an old sofa bed in the main room, which was littered with piles of my father’s books, the vibrancy of their spines bringing life to the beige world we found ourselves adrift in. He had salvaged as much as he could from our house, but my mother wouldn’t let him risk rescuing anything more. He would fret sometimes, struck by a jolt of longing for a particular book that had been abandoned.
We hadn’t long fallen asleep when the knock came. I sat up in bed, disorientated. The knock came again. It was dark, but I could hear my parents whispering in the front room, my mother’s voice low and pleading.
‘You can’t let them in. Think of Clara.’
My father snapped, ‘I have to, Lucia.’ I listened to them half dressing in haste. I could picture my mother smoothing her hair as he opened the door, a nervous smile on his face. I crept out from beneath the covers to peep through the slit in my bedroom door. The sudden light made my eyes water.
They barged in without invitation: four men in the black and grey uniforms of the Authorisation Bureau.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon

About the author 

Amy Lord Author Pic 2

Amy Lord is a writer, blogger and digital marketer form north-east England. She won a Northern Writers’ Award in 2015 for The Disappeared and was also longlisted in the inaugural Bath Novel Award.  An earlier manuscript saw her shortlisted for Route Publishing’s Next Great Novelist Award.  Amy is currently working on a new novel, which was developed as part of a year-long mentoring scheme with Writers’ Block NE.

You can follow the author on Twitter

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

Those Who Are Loved Cover

The gripping new novel by Sunday Times Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade.
Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.

In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.

Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee. And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.

As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.

This powerful new novel from Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Greece’s past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life.

Review

.I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.
Those Who Are Loved is a sweeping tale of a land and its people torn apart by war, both magnificent and ambitious in equal measure, I was left utterly captivated by the wonderful story and dazzling characterisation.

.From the moment, I read the first page I was caught up Themis’s life as she and her family were buffeted and torn apart, first by World War II and then the Greek civil war.
.The story is wrapped up in a delicious retelling of this period of Greek History, which for me was heavenly, but for those not as excited by historical detail, it is never at any point allowed to swamp the story. In fact, it creates a richness and depth that gives it an almost filmic quality and it sets the scene for characters who were shaped by what was a period of almost unpatrolled trauma, which tore not only the nation apart, but also created fault lines in families that never truly healed. It is all part of what makes this book such a compelling read, you feel that your there, not just in the families crowded family home, but also with Themis on the prison camps on islands such as Makronisos and Trikeri. For an historical novel to feel authentic the setting must make you feel you’re not only there in Greece, but also immersed in the period itself, and this novel does that with ease, when reading I was in the streets of Athens and the surrounding hills, as war and civil breakdown, ravaged the country and its people. It is at all times a compelling read, that I found it hard to put down, so immersed in both Themis story and that of the people of Greece itself.
.The characters are so real and vivid, that they have stuck with me long after finishing the book. Themis is shaped by her surroundings and the political turmoil that led to not only a war between nations, but also a civil war that engulfed her country and family! She is a stunning character, passionate, both capable of great compassion and love, yet also capable of acts resistance against her own people. She evolves as the story progresses and is a product not just of political passion and history, but her own personal demons and emotions. Rounded and capable of change, she is one of my favourite female characters in quite some time. The other characters are there to support her story, yet all are as deeply fleshed out as she is, especially her older brother and grandmother, who stand astride the political divisions that rock her family. There she sits a commited communist and yet her older brother, sits firmly on the side of the government of the day. Put these two characters together and you have the perfect assemble cast of characters, who represent how families were torn apart by political differences. They are all utterly memorable and play their part in this story of war, loss, love and survival.

You can purchase the novel from AmazonWaterstones and any independent bookshop.

Victoria Hislop said:
‘Those Who Are Loved has been germinating for a decade now, from the moment I first saw the island of Makronisos from the Greek mainland. I was told it was uninhabited, but had been a prison camp for communists. The discovery compelled me to read about the Greek civil war (in which many women played a role), but of course it also meant researching the events that led to that conflict as well as the long-term after-effects that are still seen in Greece even today. Everyone knows how much I love Greece, but exploring this story has taken me to some new and disquieting places.’

 

About the author

Inspired by a visit to Spinalonga, the abandoned Greek leprosy colony, Victoria Hislop wrote The Island in 2005. It became an international bestseller and a 26-part Greek TV series. She was named Newcomer of the Year at the British Book Awards and is now an ambassador for Lepra. The Island has sold over 1.2million copies in the UK and more than 5 million worldwide.
Her affection for the Mediterranean then took her to Spain, which inspired her second bestseller The Return, and she returned to Greece to tell the turbulent tale of Thessaloniki in The Thread, shortlisted for a British Book Award and confirming her reputation as an inspirational storyteller. It was followed by her much-admired Greece-set short story collection, The Last Dance and Other Stories. The Sunrise, a Sunday Times Number One bestseller about the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, was published to widespread acclaim in 2014.  Victoria’s most recent book, Cartes Postales from Greece was a Sunday Times Number One bestseller and one of the Top Ten biggest selling paperbacks of 2017.  Her novels have sold 10 million copies worldwide.

Victoria Hislop Author Picture

 

You can follow the author on her website and Twitter.

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Review ~ Blog Tour ~ The Path Keeper by N J Simmonds

The Path Keeper Front cover

What if our lives were mapped out before birth? Does anyone have the power to change their destiny?

Ella hates London. She misses her old life in Spain and is struggling to get over her past—until she meets Zac. He’s always loved her but isn’t meant to be part of her story. Not this time. Not ever. Little does she know that his secret is the one thing that will tear them apart and force her to live in a world that no longer makes sense. A world full of danger, lies and magic.

The Path Keeper is a passionate tale of first loves, second chances and the invisible threads that bind us. Can love ever be stronger than fate?

Trigger Warning

Review

I  would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.
I have to admit that though I had slight reservations about this book, I really enjoyed it.
Essentially it is about love and second chances, in that the human soul lives more than one life, reincarnated into a new body over and over and given the chance to try a better way of doing things in each new life they live. Their guides in this are angelic figures and it is pre-ordained when they live and die.
Now, I struggled with this concept at first, just because I like to believe that our moment of death is not set in the stars, and it took me a while to get past that and into the flow of the story! Yet having taken a step away and thought over these themes, I can see that it is in fact what defines the story and shapes the love affair. Yet as a reader and especially as non-religious one, this spiritual feel to it, is really what affected how I enjoyed it.
The story itself is actually exciting and thought provoking and by the point, I had finished it I had grown to be very fond of the characters and left wanting more. However, I actually had to take a step away from the book and think about the themes before I could identify why I liked it.
There was one major reason, the originality of the love story itself that is both passionate and all consuming. I wanted Zac and Ella to find a way to be together. I believed in there love and was gripped by a need to know if it was doomed or if they could find a path to happiness. N J Simmonds gives them a connection and then weaves it into a story that transcends the world as we know it, carrying them and us on a journey that will test their love and left me both a little crushed and yet full of hope. It is quite a journey, but one, when looking back on the book, I realise required me to be more open to the possibility of more than one way to view the journey we take. Once I began to do that, this epic fantasy was a real winner and one I would recommend to lovers of fantasy and love stories.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon

The Path Keeper EBook PB Cover

 

About the author 

Natali Drake, who writes under the pen name of N.J. Simmonds, has written articles for various UK newspapers and online publications. In 2015 she cofounded the online magazine The Glass House Girls and is a regular contributor. Originally from north London, she now divides her time between her two homes in the Netherlands and Spain with her husband and two daughters.

NJ Simmonds Author Picture

You can follow the author on her website and Twitter

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Blog Tour ~ Extract ~ Time of Lies by Douglas Board

Douglas - The Time of Lies

In 2020 the United Kingdom elects its own Donald Trump.
Bob Grant, former football hooligan, now the charismatic leader of the Britain’s Great party, has swept to power on a populist tide. With his itchy finger hovering over the nuclear trigger, Bob presides over a brave new Britain where armed drones fill the skies, ex-bankers and foreigners are vilified, and the Millwall football chant ‘No one likes us, we don’t care’ has become an unofficial national anthem.
Meanwhile, Bob’s under-achieving, Guardian-reading brother Zack gets a tap on the shoulder from a shady Whitehall mandarin. A daring plot is afoot to defy the will of the people and unseat the increasingly unstable PM. Can Zack stop his brother before he launches a nuclear strike on Belgium? And just what is ACERBIC, Britain’s most closely-guarded military secret?
A darkly comic political thriller, Time of Lies is also a terrifyingly believable portrait of an alternative Britain. It couldn’t happen here… could it?

Extract

“TIME OF LIES” by Douglas Board

In 2020 the UK elects its own Donald Trump as Prime Minister – Bob Grant, uneducated Bermondsey geezer and self-made millionaire. The election slogan of Bob’s BG party is ‘Britain’s Great! End of!’.

Zack, a Guardian-reading out-of-work actor, can’t believe that his brother Bob has his finger on Britain’s nuclear trigger. Meanwhile Patrick Smath, the Eton-educated permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, is wetting himself and having to tell Bob Britain’s most closely-guarded secret for the last 25 years.

‘Time of Lies’ is about the mutual ignorance and contempt between ruling class and ruled. This contempt is mirrored between the two brothers. In this extract in Bermondsey we’re at one of the points where their paths diverge. Jack Grant goes to university to become Zack Parris, the Guardian-reading actor, while Bob will soon figure out how to make his first million. Jack tells the story.

Saturday morning. May 1997, the dawn of cool Britannia. Sellotaped to my bedroom mirror is the question, What is revealed, and concealed, about the character of Macbeth by the scene in which we first meet him? I’m cramming for my English and history re-takes at an FE/FF college. FE as in ‘further education’, FF as in ‘fixing failures’. They’re fixing me so I don’t mind. Drama at uni will be my way out of an estate where all the blocks are named after Shakespeare’s plays. The confusion between the two parts of Henry IV is massive.
I try to get out of my bedroom but legs block the way. Bob is propped against the hall radiator with a can of Tennents Super clutched precariously in his fist. A dead one lies by his side on the weather-beaten carpet. Early showers of 9% lager, clearing later, some risk of cigarette ash after dark ‒ that’s the kind of weather the carpet has seen over the years.
This must be Bob’s first night at home since he went to live on that boat two years ago. That didn’t last nine months. Still, the money he nicked got him a flat-share.
Ma got in about three this morning. Getting her key in the lock takes ten minutes, but she does insist on banging a bottle of Château Shit against the door-knocker at the same time. That’s her out ‒ as in ‘unconscious’ ‒ till lunchtime. I didn’t hear Bob let himself in after three, so he might be half-sober.
‘Jack,’ he says, waving dregs of lager in my direction. He adjusts his limb position so I can get out of the bedroom.
Will getting to the bathroom be worth the bother if he’s thrown up in the sink? Thanks to the half-sober bit, the bathroom’s fine. I pick ma’s polyester dressing gown off the bathroom floor and wear it into the kitchen. In England the answer is always the kettle and a bacon sarnie. Like hell am I going to the corner shop to get Bob breakfast, though, if that’s why he’s come round. I assert this vigorously but of course I do. Twenty minutes later his three strips of bacon lie fraternally alongside mine, deliquescing white gunk into the pan.
Bob starts fishing for £50 from the emergency stash that he knows I keep. Well, someone has to ‒ and someone has to keep moving it around to stop ma finding it. I tell him to eff off, who’s the one who keeps bending my ear about how much money he’s making? But he’s fishing out of habit, not need. Money isn’t the reason he’s come round.
‘You definitely going, Jack?’ he says.
‘Going where?’
‘To the University of the—’
‘—Elephant and Castle.’ I voice Bob’s sarcasm for him. ‘You found your way out; this is mine.’
‘More classrooms and no money is out?’
The fact that it makes no sense to him may be the reason why I’m doing it, but I don’t say so. Instead I serve up on the kitchen table. Bob’s left arm reaches for ketchup, exposing his scar. ‘I’m hoping you haven’t got any more of those,’ I say, pointing.
‘No,’ he replies. His eyes light up at an unopened two litres of Coke in the fridge. He pours himself some. ‘Do you want to know how I really got that?’
Do I look like I give a shit? But he’s going to tell me. This is the reason he has come round: I’m to see one more time his certificates from the University of Life.

You can purchase Time Of Lies from Amazon UK and US

About the author

douglas-4

Douglas Board is the author of the campus satire MBA (Lightning Books, 2015), which asked why so much of the business world is Managed By Arseholes. Time of Lies, his second novel, is a timely exploration of the collapse of democracy.
Born in Hong Kong, he has degrees from Cambridge and Harvard and worked for the UK Treasury and then as a headhunter. He has also had a distinguished career in public life, serving as treasurer of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and chairing the British Refugee Council.
As well as writing fiction, he is the author of two applied research books on leadership, which was the subject of his doctorate. He is currently a senior visiting fellow at the Cass Business School in London. He and his wife Tricia Sibbons live in London and Johannesburg.

The author can be followed on Twitter and his Website.

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Blog Tour ~ Extract ~ MBA by Douglas Board

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Why is so much of the world managed by arseholes? When workaholic business school hot shot Ben Stillman is fired, he has the chance to find out. Not a guy to sit still, Ben jumps head first into turning his former business school into a world-class madrassa of capitalism.
Ben has ten days to rescue the launch of its spectacular glass tower, and his own career – ten days during which he will have to confront terrorist plots, undercover police, the extravagant demands of the super-rich, and the only woman who can save him from this madness.
A satirical thriller, a love story, and a wry look at modern management ideology all rolled into one – MBA is a piercing yet hopeful enquiry into the mea

Extract

“MBA” by Douglas Board

Why is so much of the world managed by arseholes? ‘MBA’ – the abbreviation for a master’s degree in business administration – is a farce set at an English business school run by globe-trotting American professor William C Gyro. When Ben, a high-flying graduate of the college, is suddenly fired for no reason, Gyro asks him to rescue the very imminent, star-studded opening of a spectacular all-glass tower.

As the opening approaches, Ben’s frustration at not understanding why he was fired increases, until the morning of the opening when he gets his answer. Alex Bakhtin, business fat-cat and Ben’s former boss, turns up at the college – he’s a guest for the big event. Alex has made a big thing about looking after his people and taking a ‘selfless’ approach to business. Tom leads a technical crew doing snagging on the tower.

After breakfast Ben headed off towards his office with a detour to walk past the tower, which was ringed by security hired by the college. Tom and his engineers were making final checks. Tom’s BMW and another white van were parked at the base of the tower. The photograph on the flyers had not exaggerated: Luscious’ waves of psychedelically-coloured hair resembled a missing Beatles album cover. She was in jeans and a busty long-sleeved polo neck while a security guard helped wheel her sound system into the lift. Tom waved and gave a thumb’s up sign. Not looking where he was going, Ben walked into someone who had been on his mind a lot in the past week.

‘Alex! I mean, Lord Bakhtin.’

‘My goodness, Ben.’ The visitor ran his eyes over Ben from the satin interior of a £5,000 hand-made suit. ‘I had heard you were here. How is it all going?’

‘Very well up to a point.’

‘What point is that?’

‘This point. The point of bumping into you.’

Alex’s expression shifted slightly. ‘But you are expecting me, I think. Certainly your security people had me on their list. They gave me a lovely pink lapel pin.’

Different coloured pins would admit to different areas; Ben had not yet picked up his. ‘You fired me, you scheming coward. And you lied. You told me I was the best thing since sliced bread but you were lining up Charlie Driesman behind my back.’

Alex assessed the situation silently.

For Ben, nearly two weeks of suppressed anger was erupting. ‘Come out with it, you bastard. What didn’t I do that you wanted, you selfless git?’

‘Be careful whom you accuse of lying, Ben. When I said you were the best, I wasn’t lying. Some days Charlie hasn’t got a clue and I could string him up; I never had a day like that with you.’

‘Commitment, then? I didn’t give you enough hours in the day? Eighteen hours a day, seven days a week, for how many years?’

‘Oh, commitment. You were committed, Ben. Though these days everybody is committed – everybody who matters. It’s a sine qua non, not a competitive advantage. We’re at a business school, aren’t we, so let’s put some of their expensively taught concepts to use.’

‘What then?’

‘You really don’t know, do you?’

‘I fucking don’t!’ The singer and the tower security guards looked over. A woman came out from the college building behind Ben and began to approach.

‘You’re not ruthless enough, Ben. I can only have one apprentice. You will probably be the best apprentice I ever have ‒ the best at being the apprentice. But I have an apprentice so that in ten years’ time there will be two or three senior people around the group, people whom I have trained and trust through and through, one of whom will have the potential to seize the business out of my hands and run it brilliantly after me. You would never be ruthless enough. So, onwards and upwards.’

You can purchase MBA from Amazon UK and US.

About the author 

douglas-4

Douglas Board is the author of the campus satire MBA (Lightning Books, 2015), which asked why so much of the business world is Managed By Arseholes. Time of Lies, his second novel, is a timely exploration of the collapse of democracy.
Born in Hong Kong, he has degrees from Cambridge and Harvard and worked for the UK Treasury and then as a headhunter. He has also had a distinguished career in public life, serving as treasurer of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and chairing the British Refugee Council.
As well as writing fiction, he is the author of two applied research books on leadership, which was the subject of his doctorate. He is currently a senior visiting fellow at the Cass Business School in London. He and his wife Tricia Sibbons live in London and Johannesburg.

You can follow the author on his Website and Twitter.

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Guest Post ~ Blog Tour ~ Who’s That Girl by T S Hunter. #SohoNoir #WhosThatGirl #LGBTBooks #CosyMystery

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A FEMME FATALE WITH A POINT TO PROVE

It’s the summer of 1985 in London’s Soho, and Joe Stone is settling into his new life living in the heart of London’s developing gay scene.

When Danny Devraux—the compere they’ve hired to host their charity ball, The Frock Show—is found dead backstage, it falls to Joe and his friend and flatmate, Russell, to figure out what happened.

All they have to go on is a broken stiletto found near the scene, and the briefest glimpse of a mystery woman fleeing the club. But who was she? And why did she kill the most loved man in cabaret?

Past secrets, bent coppers, drag queens and old lovers all play their part in this noirish murder mystery.

THE SECOND IN THE SOHO NOIR SERIES

Having read and Loved the first book in the series I’m delighted to welcome author T S Hunter back to booksaremycwtches with a guest post to celebrate the publication of Who’s That Girl. I can’t wait to review it later in the summer.

The Sounds of the Series

Music is always important to me when I write. I usually have something playing in the background to cover the noise of normal life going on around me. It creates a little bubble in which I can keep all the little strands of the story, characters and world together. Normally, my writing music is low key, non-invasive, moody—good to kill to. But for the Soho Noir series, everything had to be different. The soundtrack of my working day at the moment is bright, and electric and poppy, and nowhere near as distracting as I thought it might be.

Eighties music, for me, is a strange combination of songs that sound curiously upbeat, but when you listen to the lyrics, they are full of pain and tension, melancholy and hurt. It’s a fabulous juxtaposition, which means covers like the one Gary Jules did of Tears for Fears’s Mad World suddenly reveals a mournful song, poignant and heartbreaking. In the original, those lyrics were lost beneath the catchy electric beat, the big synth drone, the distinctive eighties electro-pop sound. It may only be in my head, but I hope that I am creating a similar juxtaposition of upbeat eighties nostalgia, coupled with the darker side to the world that the series explores.

I indulged myself with this series, too—the titles are all songs from my youth that bring with them, for me at least, memories of a brighter, more innocent time of discovery and youthful exuberance, though now that I reflect on both the songs, and that time, I realise the upbeat brightness has been layered on by my mind, to make the reality more palatable. So this soundtrack, and writing this series, has been a somewhat cathartic experience that I hadn’t realised I needed.

The playlist itself is over a hundred songs long—six hours and eighteen minutes of eighties pleasure, but I am not going to list them all out here. Instead, you get my top ten.

10 — Everybody Wants to Rule the World. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGCdLKXNF3w ) That other side of the eighties comes through strongly here, the desire to rule, to win, the corruption, capitalism and control. Pure Wall Street but with a New Wave pop heart.

9 — Don’t You (Forget About Me). ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdqoNKCCt7A ) I was a big Simple Minds fan anyway, but this song playing defiantly over the final shots of The Breakfast Club as Judd Nelson strode across the football fields, my look for the next few years was cemented—I wanted to be that character so badly. I think I still do. “Keep your unit on!”

8 — Karma Chameleon. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmcA9LIIXWw )Though Boy George can no longer really claim to be a man without convictions, this song is a classic. For me, Boy George is the epitome of eighties Soho. Friends of mine who lived and worked there at the time have regaled me with stories of nights and days spent hanging out with him—their stories are the backdrop to this series.

7 — Holding Out For a Hero. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWcASV2sey0 )Because, nothing says eighties like Bonnie Tyler. The big hair, that make-up, that voice. And there has to be a power ballad in the soundtrack somewhere, to get you through the slump when the plot holes start exposing themselves like that one mate at the wedding.

6 — Smalltown Boy. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88sARuFu-tc )The definitive gay song of the eighties. “The love that you need will never be found at home.” That’s the line, for me. In many ways, this should have been the title of the first book, since Joe (and Chris) were both small town boys who left home so that they could live the lives they wanted to. The video is a small movie in its own right.

5 — Killer Queen. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZBtPf7FOoM ) Ah, Queen. The vocal harmonies in this are exquisite. Freddie Mercury said of the song that “It’s one of those bowler hat, black suspender belt numbers.” The kind, he said, that you could expect to find Noel Coward singing. A departure from the big rock numbers they were famous for, but so incredibly intelligently written. This was the first title and story of the series to come to me. It’s a (suspender) belter.

4 — Crazy For You. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izGwDsrQ1eQ )Despite her recent performance on the Eurovision stage, Madonna in the eighties was nothing short of spectacular. There is a personal drama in each of her songs, her emotions displayed clearly for all to hear, and yet, again, we get distracted by the cheerful beats and catchy chorus. “Swaying room as the music starts. Strangers making the most of the dark. Two by two their bodies become one.” If those lyrics didn’t cement Madonna’s place in every gay man’s heart, I don’t know what did.

3 — Careless Whisper. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izGwDsrQ1eQ ) Who can get past the sentiment that “guilty feet have got no rhythm? For me, the line that I had above my computer the whole time I was writing the book, Careless Whisper, was “There’s no comfort in the truth, pain is all you’ll find.” Each of the books had a guiding principle, and I think this was the one for that book.

2 — Who’s That Girl? ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5iDKWV6Chg )The Eurythmics’ version, sorry Madge—you can’t have two in one series. Have you seen the video for this song? It’s amazing. Did you know that the guy Annie kisses at the end is actually herself in drag. I did not know that before I started the series. So if I’ve learned nothing else from my research, that will do.

1 — Tainted Love, ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZVpR3Pk-r8 )the start of the series and in many ways, the song that kicked it all off. This song is everything I mean about awful, powerful lyrics with a chirpy beat. It had to be the start of the series, and it had to be my number 1. It is the first song I play every morning when I’m writing, and boom! I’m in Soho in the eighties, and all my lovely weird, freaky friends are telling me their stories.

You can buy directly from the publisher at Red Dog Press and from Amazon

About the writer

Claiming to be only half-Welsh, T.S. Hunter lived in South Wales for much of his latter teens, moving to London as soon as confidence and finances allowed. He never looked back.

He has variously been a teacher, a cocktail waiter, a podium dancer and a removal man, but his passion for writing has been the only constant.

He’s a confident and engaging speaker and guest, who is as passionate about writing and storytelling as he is about promoting mainstream LGBT fiction.

He now lives with his husband in the country, and is active on social media as @TSHunter5

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Blog Tour ~ Guest Post ~Gemenica by Nicholas Lovelock

Gemenicia

About Gemenicia 

The second part of Arthur and Jo’s strange adventures throughout the land of Discoucia, and a time when Archie the Water Goddess has made the ultimate sacrifice to rid the world of her nemesis, Cordelia Paradise, the Fire Goddess.

However, things rarely go to plan and Arthur finds himself at war with Archie’s hidden agenda rather than the insane task that he has to help Archie complete.

Hidden around Discoucia in its sixteen major cities are sixteen gems that Archie must collect before a year is up. If she wins then Cordelia will disappear to another dimension and not return until she agrees to stop causing forest fires, volcanic eruptions and droughts.

Team Archie has Arthur and Jo, who both have the understanding that by collecting these gems a natural order can be brought back and maybe Jo’s father will get well again. Team Cordelia has Alicia May, who has a talent for becoming anyone and a deep malicious streak; and Iren, who has a fanatical hatred for Archie, which Archie herself doesn’t like to talk about.

Along the way they meet old friends and old enemies, as well as Archie having to perform miracles without the use of divine power. From the murky ruins of Tanalos to the haunted corridors of Ashin Dance Academy, the frozen caverns of Icester and the verdant streets of Proceur, the adventure will take them around Discoucia and beyond, unless Cordelia and Alicia May can stop them first…

I’m delighted to welcome author Nicholas Lovelock to booksaremycwtches today with a guest post  about his top ten places to write as part of the blog tour for his new novel Gemenica. 

Top Places to Write

My usual place to write has always been my bedroom, where I lay on my bed propped up by a mountain of pillows either composing chapters or coming up with illustrations. I started coming up with ways of keeping my mind concentrated and as such have discovered that working on something while putting on a movie I have seen lots of times before. Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii is the perfect visual medium due to having such a fast functioning mind, two things at once puts me at ease much more than a peaceful forest setting. My Religious Studies teacher once gave me a very valuable advice when he was teaching me to play the guitar, he told me to watch something that didn’t require much mental thought while working on my Led Zeppelin solo’s, he said sit in your room and watch something like The Simpsons. That teacher was right then and he’s right now. Also in my room I have all my notebooks that I can constantly refer back to, as well as a large box that inside are all my notes and ideas that have not come to anything. That particular box is labelled ‘Household Objects’ in honour of the lost Pink Floyd album, and one day I will need some of those ideas so I always know where they are.
I like to write in Coffee Shops, there is a place I can sit in the background and get on with something while putting on my iPod. I write in sequences, as such I have just completed what I call the Freddy Psychology Sequence, where the child protagonist of book three who is also the son of Arthur is having his troubles taken away by High Advisor Kate. It will fit somewhere but I am unable to write in one strict timeline until I start the full book for good, until then the sequence will merely remain a sequence.
Pubs make great places to write, as most of life’s interesting things happen in them as far as I’ve seen. I sit at the bar or in a corner and people usually ask me what I’m writing, as being sat at the bar and writing in a notebook is not really the norm. They ask and I give them a vague description of what I’m working on and if they’re truly interested I get into more detail which leads to me thinking of more ideas to go in the book. That is the priceless and often hard to pin down mistress that is inspiration.
I write at work a lot, that’s a place where I get a lot of my ideas and I usually have to write a small note that I can expand on later. There are times when I am stood for a while with no other stimulus, and that is what gives me the ideas I wouldn’t normally get anywhere else.
Finally, being an author is a very insular job so I go riding around the Oxfordshire countryside at times when I get hit with writer’s block, which to be honest doesn’t happen very often as usually I have too much to do. It’s out there on the old country lanes that I see something that will turn into an idea that I never had before, that idea will grow into a sequence and that sequence will fit into a book perfectly.

You can purchase Gemenicia from Amazon

The first book in this series is Discoucia. 

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Revolution, romance and technological wonders are all in a day’s work for the decorated hero of Alavonia, Sir Arthur Pageon.

An acclaimed explorer and inventor, Sir Arthur Pageon takes his unofficial role as defender of the realm of Avalonia very seriously. A fantastical world, Avalonia is home to the Discoucian Monarchy, as well as monstrous creatures and secretive academies for the highly gifted.

Upon returning from his most recent exploits aboard on his personal flying galleon The Nostradamus, Pageon is treated to a hero’s welcome and celebratory procession through the streets of Avalonia’s capital, Evermore. Little does Pageon know he’s being followed by a mysterious group known as the Purple Guard, whose devious leader is his estranged sister, Queen Lily Pageon of Harrha Island. Fiercely intelligent, Lily specialises in dastardly technological inventions with the aim of bringing down the Discoucian Monarchy so that she may reign as its dictator. However, the heir to the throne is one Princes Josephine Oladine, whose youth and royal position masks her role in the Discoucian Secret Service.

Joining forces, Princess Josephine and Sir Arthur’s adventures will take them across the whole of Avalonia — from the fog-bound shores of Karga, to the secret underground shanty town beneath the frozen prison of Icester, south to the verdant city of Proceur and from there to the affluent Starfall Academy — in their quest to foil Lily’s revolutionary plans.

You can purchase Discoucia from Amazon

About the author

Nicholas Lovelock

Nicholas Lovelock lives in a small village in Oxfordshire and has already published Discoucia, the first part of the Alavonia Series which spans multiple novels set to be released in the future. He enjoys riding around the countryside as well as illustrating his own works, as can be seen in his second novel Gemenicia. These Illustrations in stark black and white provide a glimpse into the world of Alavonia and how he sees it, as well as showcasing the different locations and characters that make up the Alavonia series universe.

He is a keen musician capable of playing the electric guitar as well as the acoustic and the piano, often trying to play like his musical heroes David Gilmour, Jimmy Page and Jeff Lynne. His coin collection has transformed from a hobby to a passion and obsession as he attempts to collect one of every issued coin in Great Britain. He is over halfway in that respect collecting such treasures as a 1675 Charles the Second Crown and an extremely rare Edward the Seventh Half Crown of 1905, and has begun metal detecting in an effort to tick some boxes in the Hammered Coinage section.

His love of Steampunk literature and cinema has been with him from a young age when he first saw the film ‘Wild Wild West’, sought out the original series and discovered a world of fantasy that he has painstakingly tried to pay homage to in his novels, to bring the wild west to an English setting and to create something that has never been done before.

History has always been a major passion of his as he makes many references in his literature, from characters whose personalities resemble those of eccentric historical characters or monarchs. The ability to change history through literature was one of the things that attracted him to become an author in the first place, to create similar timelines and put a unique spin on the mundane.

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Gloved Heart by Charlotte Brentwood #Extract #Romance #Historicalfiction

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Can she ever trust again? Amy Miller is struggling to come to terms with her new life as a mother, while being a reluctant guest in a rigid gentry household. A victim of abuse, she is determined to never trust a man again. Henry Russell has loved Amy for as long as he can remember, but his family want nothing to do with her. A chance encounter with Amy rekindles a friendship which might save them both. The discovery of a secret which holds the key to Amy’s past will change them forever, and jeopardise any chance they have for happiness. Can Henry show Amy that true love will give her everything she could ever need?
Note, although this is a ‘sweet’ read, there is some subject matter that may offend sensitive readers, including mention of a rape and very mild violence and coarse language

A word from the author:

I hope readers enjoy the second book in the “Hearts of Amberley” series. GLOVED HEART can be read as a standalone but if you’ve read THE VAGABOND VICAR you’ll enjoy seeing your favourite characters again.

As a mother of a young baby, I was able to pour my heart into this story of a new mother, Amy Miller, adjusting to her life in less than ideal circumstances. She has sworn off men for good, but she comes to rely on the friendship of Henry Russell. She resists her growing feelings for him, building walls around her heart. Just as she begins to trust, the revelation of a secret will ruin everything.

This is also a book about strong women and the relationships between them. It’s really the women who drive the story and I loved exploring their unique bonds despite their different stations in life. The men provide the sparks and also the problems, just like in real life!

Extract

Amy was glad of the ride back to Briarwood. She was so weary she thought her legs might give way. Her emotions were close to the surface, threatening to brim over. Henry had touched on more than one nerve with his innocent line of questioning just now. He was right to wonder why a respectable couple such as the Fortescues, who she had hardly said a word to in her life, would stoop so low as to house an unwed mother when no one else wanted her. She had asked herself that question many times; it was reasonable for him to wonder too.
She wanted to believe his assertions that they wanted to make her more like them so she would belong. But she couldn’t bring herself to foster such a happy illusion; she was no more an innocent young girl who would see the best in people first. She knew most people were hiding something, and their actions were not always a good indicator of their motivations or intentions. In fact, sometimes they acted to deliberately deceive. She couldn’t believe the Fortescues would intentionally hurt her, as there was undeniably an altruistic motive for most of their actions. But their efforts to re-make her in the image of a lady were an affront to her very identity.
“Miss Miller?”
Amy turned to see Henry waiting for her on the cart. She laughed at him. “Come now, Henry, don’t address me as if you were my chauffeur. It’s only Amy, and it always has been.”
She stepped towards the box and he automatically offered his hand to help her up. She stared at it, dismayed.
It was perfectly natural for him to help her up into her seat, but despite her recent familiarity with him, she still could not stand to let their hands touch. She tried to fight the irrational terror which overtook her. Nothing bad would happen, it would be over in a matter of seconds and Henry was not going to abuse the situation, was he? But she could not bring herself to put her hands in his.
“I’m sorry,” she said.
He shook his head as if to dismiss her apology. “It’s nothing, just put your foot here, and hold on here, and you can pull yourself up.”
She nodded, did as he instructed, and managed to hoist herself up onto the seat.
Henry took up the reins. “Are you comfortable?”
She met his eyes and nodded again, startled by how close his face was to hers. “Thank you.” Her voice came out as a squeak and she immediately felt herself colouring. She focussed on the lane ahead as Henry brought the cart around and steered the mare down towards the road.
He sat as far as he could to the right of her while still maintaining control of the cart, but the seat was not very wide, so their thighs were still only inches apart. She could see his muscles flexing within his buckskin trousers. Suddenly she was unbearably warm.
Comfortable? Perhaps too comfortable.
She could not resist taking sly glances at him as they bounced along towards her home. The freckles across his nose had multiplied, giving him a boyish charm. His shock of fiery hair was tossed about in unruly waves like a turbulent sea. He caught him looking at her, and threw her a bashful smile, which she couldn’t help returning before forcing her eyes to her lap. She caught a whiff of his scent; he smelled of the grasses and earth and a rich, masculine aroma.
The motion of his hands guiding the reins caught her attention as they rounded a corner, and she took in his strong, toned forearms. He’d rolled his shirt up above his elbows, and even beneath all that fabric his upper arms bulged. His chest strained against his waistcoat. He was a robust working man, of course he would be… strapping. It was just that she’d never had such leisure to observe all this before. Or perhaps she had just never taken notice, never appreciated him in his masculinity. She’d been a slip of a girl when she’d last spent any length of time with him, without any notions of forming attachments. Now, she was all too aware of him, and the nearness of him. She began to feel a little light-headed, and her heart seemed to be pulsing through her entire body.
She hadn’t felt like this since… her breath quickened as a painful pang hit her heart. She’d rather not remember the last time.
“Amy? Are you all right?”
Henry was looking at her seriously as he guided the cart through the gates that led to Briarwood.
She tried to slow her breathing, but the rising panic could not be quelled.
The last time she had felt this way, it had nearly destroyed her. It had made her giddy, blind, defenceless. She’d been a gullible fool, and she had paid the price for her infatuation with her innocence.
Fear closed over her heart in a vice-like grip, and she clutched the sides of the seat with white knuckles. She could not explain to him, could not summon any words lest she begin to cry.
The cart came to a stop outside the house, and she leapt to the ground, nearly falling over.
“Amy!” Henry cried, dismounting in a flash and coming around to her side. “What on earth is the matter?”
She darted away from him, wishing she hadn’t let her fancies get the better of her, that she could go back to the simplicity of their recent friendship. Perhaps she still could if not tempted in such a way.
“Goodbye, Henry,” she called as she began walking away from him. “Thank you.”
Then she turned and took quick steps up to the front door, banging until she was granted admittance. Once inside, the house felt like a safe place for the first time. She was in no danger of being overcome by treacherous feelings here. She went to her room and closed the door, leaning back against it. She would have no reason to see Henry again, and it was just as well. She could not risk putting her heart in danger again.

You can purchase a copy of Gloved Heart from Amazon

About the author 

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Charlotte developed serious crushes on a series of men from age fifteen: Darcy, Knightley, Wentworth and Brandon. A bookworm and scribbler for as long as she can remember, Charlotte always dreamed of sharing her stories with the world.  Earning a degree in communication studies, she was seduced by the emerging digital world and has since worked with the web and in marketing. She is a member of the Auckland chapter of RWNZ.  Now mother to an adorable human tornado, Charlotte is trying to find the time for reading, seaside walks, warbling at the piano and quaffing far too many hot chocolates.

You can follow the author on the following social media sites –

Authors website

Goodreads

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

 

 

Review ~ Blog Tour ~ Jay-Jay And his Island Adventure by Sue Wickstead.

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Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus is not an ordinary bus taking you on a journey. He is a Playbus.Find out what happens when he is invited to an island where the children have never seen a double-decker bus – and certainly not one full of toys!

Review

I would like thank the author and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

There are so many things to love about this book. The story itself is full of joy, it’s fun and a beauty to read aloud to a child or for an early independent reader. Why? It uses simple, yet fun themes that they will be able to identify with, role playing and learning through play.  It takes them and Jay Jay on an adventure to an island when he overcomes his fear of sailing, to spend time with children as they play at being pirates. It makes you smile with every page you turn and the illustrations are fan and colourful. This book reminds me of some of my favourite books as a child, the ones I would nag my parents to read over and over. Jay Jay has all the makings of becoming a form family favourite and would bring joy to anyone lucky enough to read it.

You can purchase this book from Amazon

About the author

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Sue Wickstead is a teacher and an author and has currently written six children’s picture books with a bus theme.
In addition, she has also written a photographic history book about the real bus behind her story writing.
Her bus stories are about a playbus.
Have you ever been on a Playbus?
When Sue’s two children were young, they attended a playgroup on a bus, but not an ordinary bus taking you on a journey, exciting though this is, but a Playbus stuffed full of toys to capture their imagination!
For over 20 years, alongside her teaching career, she worked with the charity, the Bewbush Playbus Association.
As part of the committee she painted the bus, worked in the groups, helped raise the profile of the project and its work and was part of the team involved in raising funds to replace the old bus with a newer vehicle. This led her to write a photographic history book about it.
‘It really was a fun journey to be involved in’, said Sue. The bus really got into her blood and became a work of the heart.
Having written the history book Sue soon found that many children had never been on a bus before, let alone a ‘Playbus’ and they wanted to know more. So, she decided to write a fictional tale, his number plate JJK261, gave him his name.
‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus,’ came out in print in 2014. It is the story behind the original project and is his journey from a scrap-yard to being changed into a playbus for children to play in. From Fact to fiction the bus journey continues.
This story has now been followed by five more picture books.
‘A Spooky Tale’ and ‘The Christmas Play Rehearsal’ do indeed have a bus connection as well as links to her teaching journey.
Sue has undertaken events and author bookings and loves to share her stories, she is also proud to be ‘a patron of reading’.
The books have all received 5-star awards from ‘Readers Favourite. 
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