Synopsis

One long summer changes Faith forever…

Faith Coombes should be over the moon when her long-term boyfriend proposes to her. But instead, she breaks up with him. Rob is safe, reliable, nice and … boring. Nothing like the only person who has ever broken her heart…

Unable to afford the rent on another flat and desperate for a new start, Faith takes the plunge and moves back to the village she grew up in, returning to the house that holds so many memories for her. Hollyhock House, the family home of her best-friend Minel, also belongs to the boy who meant so much to her all those years ago…

As Faith falls back in love with the sprawling surroundings at Hollyhock she also finds herself falling all over again for the only person who has truly hurt her.

Can Faith come to terms with her past? Did she make the wrong decision in breaking up with Rob? Or does her heart really lie at Hollyhock House?

 

My review

There’s been a mass blooming recently of romcoms in settings with flower names – bluebell hills, rose cottages, primrose bays and so on. And why not! Everyone loves flowers, and who doesn’t love a romcom. And flowers and romance go hand in hand. But this book, Summer at Hollyhock House, for me is the cream of the crop, the brightest bloom in the meadow.

Two things make it stand out: the flowing writing that’s just so easy to read and filled with marvellous descriptions and imagery, and the courage of many of the characters we meet. Several of them are in unsatisfactory relationships or positions but they have the resolve and strength to break out of the rut they find themselves in. As many of us might know from experience, that is a difficult and frightening thing to do. There’s an atmosphere of positivity and self-belief in the novel which is very uplifting.

Faith is a wonderful heroine. She’s down to earth, genuine and very empathetic. She knows the now Rob-free path ahead won’t be easy, at least initially, but she grits her teeth and gets on with it, ignoring the disapproval from her mother. Fortunately she has supportive friends, and the chance to sink those gritted teeth into an exciting new project: redesigning the garden at Hollyhock House. This brings her into contact with her ex, Rik, and his flighty new girlfriend Lucinda. However, Faith copes well, on the whole, but her heart is heavy.

We get the ending we want, which is de rigueur in romcoms, of course, but the twisting path we have to follow we get there is clever and tantalising. A truly enjoyable,  rewarding and, appropriately, heartening novel.

 

Author Cathy Bussey is a novelist, non-fiction author, journalist for The Telegraph, cycle commentator and editorial consultant. She has a website at www.cathybussey.com.

Summer at Hollyhock House is published by Sapere Books and is available at all Amazon stores.

 

 

See what other book reviewers think of Summer at Hollyhock House by visiting their blogs too.

 

 

Synopsis

1910 – A compelling tale of female empowerment in Bath’s leading department store. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath’s premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.

Determined to break from her father’s iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington’s into a new decade, embracing woman’s equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.

Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington’s plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?

My review

Elizabeth, our heroine, is ahead of her time in her ambition for the family department store, but her father doesn’t share her plans. He’s the sort of domineering, intolerant and narrow-minded man we associate with the Victorian era. In contrast, Joseph, the glove-maker, is far more modern in his views and is prepared to listen to and consider what women have to say. His wife Lillian, tragically murdered, was a proactive woman, like Elizabeth, and so he values women for their intelligence and insight, and not just their looks. He shares Elizabeth’s vision for catering to women customers considerably more. The two work well together, and inevitably attraction follows. But there are other impediments besides Edward Pennington: class conventions, political issues and personal agendas are there too.  As well as struggling to be mistress of Pennington’s store, Elizabeth also struggles to be mistress of her own fate.

Elizabeth has built a shell around herself to protect herself from her father’s constant belittlement. She thus appears somewhat stiff and distant at first, but as we get to know her better as the book progresses we see her hidden side. She’s sensitive and motivated, very much her lively mother’s daughter. Or at least her mother was lively until Edward finally stifled her joie de vivre. Elizabeth fortunately seems to be made of sterner stuff and we have faith that she’ll escape from her father’s shadow.

I especially liked the atmosphere created in the book. In scenes with Edward there’s oppressiveness and stuffiness, but Elizabeth always seems to bring light and hope. Joseph carries sadness with him, but a growing air of optimism. Pennington’s, brightly lit, shines out like a beacon beckoning to the future, like Elizabeth herself.

The author recreates an exciting time in history in her novel and furnishes it with fascinating, contrasting characters and a clever plot. This makes for very enjoyable reading.

The book is beautifully presented with an eye-catching cover. However, my one criticism of this book is in relation to the cover. It would look even better without the ‘Welcome to Bath’s finest department store’ on the right hand side. To me it is a completely unnecessary addition, and it detracts from  the symmetry and perspective. But maybe that’s just me – I admit I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about slogans plastered on covers!

Super book, thoroughly enjoyable and one to add to your ‘to be read’ list.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK: http://amzn.eu/2SvRcqp

Amazon US: http://a.co/bYr2KHM

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mistress-of-penningtons-rachel-brimble/1128920728?ean=9781788546508

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-mistress-of-pennington-s

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rachel_Brimble_The_Mistress_of_Pennington_s?id=dIFSDwAAQBAJ

Author Bio

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a brand new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s, released July 2018.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

Social Media Links

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Facebook Street Team – Rachel’s Readers

Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Brimble/e/B007829ZRM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1490948101&sr=8-1

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1806411.Rachel_Brimble

Giveaway to win £20 / $20 Amazon Gift Card (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494121/

Synopsis

It’s 1943 and young Leo tries to protect his disabled sister Ruby as the Nazis invade Italy.  After his mother is arrested, he turns to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty to save them.  But he is no ordinary priest.  Known as ‘The Pimpernel of the Vatican’, the Monsignor is the legendary organizer of the Rome Escape Line.  Soon Leo is helping out with this secret network dedicated to saving the lives of escaped prisoners of war, partisans and Jews.  But as the sinister Nazi leader Kappler closes in on the network, can Leo and his sister stay out of his evil clutches?

My review

This is a beautifully written, lively, inspiring children’s story. The opening is wonderful, a quick summary of the events leading up to the Second World War from a twelve-year-old’s point of view. The key figures include Spitler and Muscle-weany. We later get a more official version of events which is very clearly explained, without bogging the young reader down in detail.

Leo is an Irish boy who’s caught in Italy at just the wrong time. His Anglo-American mother has travelled there to learn about educating young people from Maria Montessori. This is particularly important to her as Ruby, Leo’s young sister, suffers from cerebral palsy. As bright as a button, she’s restricted by her physical difficulties. The Nazis are advancing and the Leo’s mother is taken away. Fortunately the children had snuck off for a midnight feast in the barn and so escape capture. Then begins their perilous and arduous journey to Rome to find Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty. Leo’s Aunt Delia had told him what to do should he ever find himself in danger. Leo uses his sharp wits, engaging personality and resourcefulness to make the trip safely with his sister. But when he arrives, his work is far from over.

This story is perfect for children, but older readers can enjoy it too. We have two really likeable characters in Leo and Ruby. There’s excitement and humour, mystery and danger to thrill the audience, but not terrify them. Leo finds himself in sticky predicaments but he always finds a way out, and we know he will. It’s just a question of how.

The story is based on real events. Patricia Murphy weaves fact and fiction together in a marvellous way to bring the brave actions of Hugh O’Flaherty to life for us through the fictional Leo. However, as the author says, there were many children who were incredibly brave during the war and this novel is to celebrate them. War brings out the worst in people, but also the best. Loyal, lovable Leo embodies the latter.

 

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Leos-War-1943-1944-Patricia-Murphy/dp/1781998159/

https://www.bookdepository.com/Leos-War-Patricia-Murphy/9781781998151

https://poolbeg.com/home/680-leo-s-war.html

https://www.easons.com/leos-diary-patricia-murphy-9781781998151

 

Author Bio

Patricia Murphy is the bestselling author of The Easter Rising 1916 – Molly’s Diary and Dan’s Diary – the War of Independence 1920-22 published by Poolbeg.

She has also written the prize-winning “The Chingles” trilogy of children’s Celtic fantasy novels.   Patricia is also an award winning Producer/Director of documentaries including Children of Helen House, the BBC series on a children’s hospice and Born to Be Different Channel 4’s flagship series following children born with disabilities. Many of her groundbreaking programmes are about children’s rights and topics such as growing up in care, crime and the criminal justice system. She has also made a number of history programmes including Worst Jobs in History with Tony Robinson for Channel 4 and has produced and directed films for the Open University.

 

Patricia grew up in Dublin and is a graduate in English and History from Trinity College Dublin and of Journalism at Dublin City University. She now lives in Oxford with her husband and young daughter.

Social Media Links –

Website: https://www.patriciamurphyonline.com

Twitter: @_PatriciaMurphy

Facebook – h https://www.facebook.com/Leos-War-Irelands-Secret-World-War-2-Hero-714055598929732

Facebook  –  https://www.facebook.com/Mollys-Diary-The-1916-Rising-277254289106782/

 

Giveaway to win a £30 Amazon Gift Voucher (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494122/?

 

 

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for this very original and thought-provoking dystopian mystery.

The blurb
The year is 2039. The setting is the British Isles – but not the British Isles as we know them today.

The brutal economic impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, together with the ever-accelerating effects of global warming have led to a very different environment indeed, in almost every way. Politics, geography and technology are all in flux.

But some things remain the same – greed, murder, conspiracy and corruption among them. When Stephanie Flack, licensed private eye in the Royal Province of Anglia, is asked to track down some missing diamonds, she soon finds the trail leading her into some very unexpected and highly dangerous places, with dead bodies appearing with alarming regularity. Including, very nearly, her own.

R M Cartmel’s skilful characterisation, sharp observation and quiet irony provide a glimpse into a future which we can almost recognise. A brilliant, gentle, wry dystopian murder mystery.

My review
North Sea Rising is a gritty, imaginative political noir thriller – a potent combination! The author has used his imagination to create a bleak future for the UK, but one that is actually perfectly feasible given the chaos that a hard Brexit might easily result in. Mix in climate change resulting in rising sea levels swallowing chunks of the country, thus putting extra pressure on the remaining land and resources and adding to the existing considerable tension between the various provinces into which the nation is now divided, and things are bound to get pretty exciting. They certainly do in this novel.

Private detective Stephanie Flack is our main character. She is capable, lively and confident. She’s very likeable and makes for a great heroine. DCS Siobhan Flynn, aka Shove, shares a house with Stephanie, and also Mr and Mrs Grubbs, refugees from when The Wash was immersed by the rising sea level. There’s also Sabrina, Steph’s secretary, and Dwayne, her associate. There’s an assortment of other equally interesting people to come across, and their interactions are always enjoyable.

As described in the blurb, the main thrust of the story is Stephanie’s investigation of missing diamonds and their equally missing courier, and all the trouble this leads her into. There are other minor incidents too, such as a short thread of the story that involves disappearing e-books, something I particularly enjoyed. In the background the volcano in Yellowstone Park is erupting, humans are beginning to colonise Mars. References are made to the new technology of this time, such as pods for travelling, wristies (tiny wearable computers), 3D tablets and airships. What’s more, academics are governing things these days, a great improvement on the “half witted idiots” who facilitated Brexit. There are so many clever touches like this in the writing and so you’re constantly surprised and impressed.

It’s a very mobile book, in that’s there lots travelling around, lots of momentum and impetus. There are many different settings to the action, and most of them are somewhat desolate and ominous. For example, there’s snow in August at the start of the book, and later we encounter with Stephanie the roofs of houses sticking out of the water that is reclaiming the land. Because of the ‘busyness’ of this book, the pace is high and it’s a real page-turner with lots happening, and a little bit of romance too.

There’s an extra twist in the ingenious plot that gives us a cliff-hanger ending so we’ll be meeting Stephanie Flack again in another adventure, which is very good news.

So in conclusion, this is an unusual, thought provoking and intriguing novel. Absolutely one to read.

About the author
Following a highly successful career as a GP, RM Cartmel returned to his first love and took up writing again.
Well-known for his wine and crime series set in France, The Inspector Truchaud Mysteries, he also has a second, rather more offbeat series of North Sea Noir, which can be read as stand alone but connected novels, set in Peterborough. North Sea Rising is the second of these.

 

 

Other books by R M Cartmel:
The Inspector Truchaud Mysteries:
The Charlemagne Connection
The Richebourg Affair
The Romanee Vintage
The German Crossing ( coming 2019)

The North Sea Noir Novels:
50 Miles from Anywhere
North sea Rising

My review

‘A Plague on Mr Pepys’ is a fascinating work of historical fiction. It’s based firmly on fact, but the author has used her imagination to bring real people from the past to vibrant life.

Our heroine is Bess Bagwell, a very determined and likeable woman. She’s the driving force in the household. Husband Will is a very talented carpenter but lacks ambition. His stern father destroyed his self-confidence when he was young. Will is also hampered by his cousin Jack Sutherland, a rogue who doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of anyone or any situation. He’s a millstone around the Bagwells’ necks.

Bess just wants to better herself and her situation, since, as she observes, there are only masters and servants in this world and she’s not going to be the latter, and this desire brings her into dramatic contact with Mr Pepys. The latter remains something of an enigmatic figure and secondary character in the book although he plays a crucial role. However, for various reasons, of which kindness is prominent, the Bagwells keep finding themselves in financial difficulties. This leads to Bess earning money in a decidedly controversial manner.

The plague has been bubbling in the background during the early action of the book, and then it comes destructively to the forefront throwing society into turmoil. Few households escape of it, the Bagwells’ included. This part of the story hammers home the horror this disease represented at that thime, and brings to life for us, or rather death, both its devastating impact and the helplessness of people when faced with it.

I must give a quick mention to Bess’s mother, Agatha. She’s made a mess of things in the past, falling prey to the evils of drink and Bess holds many grudges. However, Agatha is a changed person and family ties are strong, against all odds. She plays an important role in the story, and the difficult relationship between mother and daughter is both heartwrenching and warming.

The book is a delight to read. The author grabs our attention from the very start and keeps us riveted. She has clearly done much detailed research, and this all adds to the authenticity of the story. We learn what a farthing would buy, what people wore, how guilds were organised and so on, and this is all really interesting. There’s no info-dumping, these little snippets of information are dropped in when necessary and make the writing all the richer.

Definitely one to add to your shelves or Kindle. It’s the second in a series, but works perfectly well as a standalone. A wonderful read.

 

Details and synopsis

Series: Women of Pepys Diary Series #2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: July 5th 2018
Publisher: Accent Press
The second novel in the series based on the different women in Samuel Pepys’s famous diary.

Sometimes the pursuit of money costs too much…

Ambitious Bess Bagwell is determined that her carpenter husband, Will, should make a name for himself in the Navy shipyards. To further his career, she schemes for him to meet Samuel Pepys, diarist, friend of the King and an important man in the Navy.

But Pepys has his own motive for cultivating the attractive Bess, and it’s certainly not to benefit her husband. Bess soon finds she is caught in a trap of her own making.

As the summer heat rises, the Great Plague has London in its grip. Red crosses mark the doors, wealthy citizens flee and only the poor remain to face the march of death.
With pestilence rife in the city, all trade ceases.

With no work as a carpenter, Will is forced to invest in his unscrupulous cousin Jack’s dubious ‘cure’ for the pestilence which horrifies Bess and leaves them deeper in debt.
Now they are desperate for money and the dreaded disease is moving ever closer. Will Mr Pepys honour his promises or break them? And will they be able to heal the divide that threatens to tear their marriage apart?

EXTRACT
London, March 1663
‘Here’s the address,’ Bess said, pressing the paper down on the table in front of her husband. She patted him on the shoulder, which released a puff of dust. Will was a fine figure of a man – tall and blond, with arms muscled from lifting timber, and the fine-boned hands of a craftsman, but his clothes were always full of sawdust and wood-shavings.
He turned and smiled, with an expression that said he was ready to humour her.
‘It’s on the other side of the Thames, close to one of the shipyards. Big houses all round. A nice neighbourhood. Quiet.’
‘Where?’ Will asked, standing to pick up the paper, and stooping from habit because their attic room was so low.
‘Deptford.’ She held her breath.
‘Deptford?’ he said, throwing it back down. ‘We’re not living in Deptford.’
‘Oh, Will, it has to stop sometime. He won’t even know we’re there.’
‘You don’t know my father, he gets to know everyone’s business.’
‘That’s no reason. That terrible brimstone preacher lives just round the corner, and we manage well enough to avoid him.’
‘Ho, ho.’
‘We need never see your father. The Deptford yard is enormous. More than a mile end to end. Just think, you could work there fitting out ships, and you’d never set eyes on him.’ She tugged at his sleeve. ‘The workshop’s so fine – you should see the workbench. More than eight foot long, and it runs right under the window. You can nearly see the whole shipyard from there.’ She paused; she knew his weak spot well. ‘And the house will be perfect for your new commission. You won’t have to hire a work place again.’
‘It’s more than we can afford, love, to buy a house.’
‘You’ll get better commissions though, once people see Hertford’s chairs. You should see it! There’s room for your lathes and there’s already a wall with hooks for hanging tools. Just come and look, Will. That’s all.’
Will sighed. ‘Suppose looking won’t hurt.’
*
In the panelled chambers of Thavie’s Inn, Holborn, Will Bagwell lifted the quill and dipped it in the ink. His heart was pounding beneath the buttons of his doublet. The paper before him was thick vellum, as if to emphasise the serious nature of the agreement. Ten years’ of his wages in a good year. An enormous loan. He wanted to read it again, for it was a lot of writing to take in, in a language that took some fathoming. But they were all waiting.
Behind him, he could hear Bess breathing; feel the heat of her hand on his shoulder. He tapped the nib on the edge of the bottle to shake off the excess droplets of ink; Bess’s hand tightened. He swallowed. Just shy of sixty pounds. If he signed this, there would be no going back.
He hesitated, and looked up. Opposite him, the turtle-faced goldsmith, Kite, nodded and narrowed his eyes in a tight smile of encouragement. The notary, an official from the Inn of Chancery in a blindingly white cravat, was impatient, shifting from foot to foot. No doubt he’d seen such an agreement many times.
A deep breath. Will felt the nib touch the paper and suddenly, there it was – his signature flowing across the page. He had no sooner lifted the pen from the document than it was swiped out from under his gaze, and Kite the money-lender was scribbling his name under Will’s. Immediately, a serving boy came with a stub of smoking sealing wax, and even before Kite had time to press the metal die into the red puddle on the paper, the notary was adding his witness signature.
It was over in a few seconds and Will’s damp palm was gripped momentarily in Kite’s wrinkled one, before the duplicate loan agreement and the house deeds were thrust into his hand for him to sign.
‘My man Bastable will collect the repayments on the last day of each month,’ Kite said.
Will felt dazed. He wanted to turn back time, give the agreement back. But they were all smiling, Bess most of all. Her face lit up the room. She had her fine house now, and he couldn’t let her down, could he? But all he could think of was the feeling of his empty purse, like a lung with the breath squeezed out of it.
BUY LINK
mybook.to/PlaguePepys
Check out book 1 in the series!

https://goo.gl/j3uaeU

PRAISE FOR PLEASING MR PEPYS

‘Swift is a consummate historical novelist, basing her books on immaculate research and then filling the gaps between real events and real people with eloquent storytelling, atmospheric scene setting and imaginative plot lines’ The Visitor

‘Pepys and his world spring to vibrant life…Gripping, revealing and stunningly imagined, Pleasing Mr Pepys is guaranteed to please’ Lancashire Evening Post

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

From Deborah Swift:
I write historical fiction, a genre I love. I loved the Victorian classics such as Jane Eyre, Lorna Doone and Wuthering Heights. As I child I loved to read and when I had read my own library books, I used to borrow my mother’s library copies of Anya Seton and Daphne du Maurier. I have loved reading historical novels ever since; though I’m a bookaholic and I read widely – contemporary and classic fiction as well as historicals.

In the past I used to work as a set and costume designer for theatre and TV, so I enjoy the research aspect of creating historical fiction, something I loved doing as a scenographer. Each book takes about six months of research before I am ready to begin writing. More details of my research and writing process can be found on my website. I like to write about extraordinary characters set against the background of real historical events.

I live in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District, an area made famous by the Romantic Poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge.

I took an MA in Creative Writing in 2007 and now teach classes and courses in writing, and offer editorial advice from my home. A Plague on Mr Pepys is my ninth published novel.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authordeborahswift/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/deborahswift1/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/swiftstory
Blog: www.deborahswift.com/blog
Website: www.deborahswift.com

GIVEAWAY
1 paperback (UK only) & 1 ebook (international)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017298/?

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for ‘Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties’ by Andy Rausch. This collection of three very different but all equally gritty and gripping noir stories makes for exciting but thoughtful reading. The intriguing title immediately piques the reader’s curiosity, and the cover certainly catches the eye.

As the title implies, there’s a Western theme to this book and we meet a selection of outlaws, both criminal and social, dating from the 1930s to the present day. Our first, in the first story ‘Easy Peezy’, is Emmet Dalton, one-time bank robber now author. Reading in the newspapers about current bank jobs going on tempts him back into his old lifestyle, if only to show these youngsters a thing or two. So he recruits two sidekicks who, like himself, aren’t in the first flush of youth, and thus the Old Timers Gang comes into being. That’s not the name Emmet has chosen for his gang but it’s the one the public have settled on, to his extreme annoyance. Melvin Purvis, FBI agent, is also something of an annoyance too.

‘Riding Shotgun’, the second story, sees Joe Gibson, mystery writer, finds himself in a truly nightmare scenario where he is forced into taking actions he really doesn’t want to take in order to save the life of his kidnapped daughter. Despite keeping his side of the agreement, Emily is not released and this drives him further into the depths. He teams up with an assortment of unsavoury characters to track her down and gain revenge at the same time. Mertis Whitlock is the cop relentlessly on his trail. This is a bitter-sweet story, very grey morally as who of us wouldn’t take extreme actions to save their own child.

‘$crilla’ (scrilla is a slang term for money) is more of a romp, but no less destructive. Charlie Grimes, ex-cop with a roving eye, finds himself trying to solve the kidnapping of Davis Cartwright, a record producer specialising in promoting gangsta rap stars. Some of these turn out to be true gangsters, and another complex and riveting tale of revenge, deception and misunderstandings ensues.

These are all no-hold-barred stories. Many of the characters are amoral and dangerous, with hair-trigger tempers. Some are just plain dumb. Others are thoughtful, deeper, more complex but just as tough. What emerges clearly from all three stories is how situations can rapidly spiral out of control, how unintended actions have disastrous consequences. The pointlessness of violence is illuminated too. What have the deaths achieved, other than some personal satisfaction for the killer, but not even always that. There’s a truly tragi-comic face-off between two characters in one of the stories: they’re as aware their actions are as futile and life-wasting as the reader is. But it’s what they have to do.

There’s redemption amongst the chaos and bloodshed. Our main characters are empathetic despite being deeply flawed. They’re likeable rogues, much as we might try to not be won over by them given the bad things they do. They’re capable of good, of recognising that what they do isn’t the right thing. The last words of one of our villains is “I’m sorry,” and he genuinely is, but, of course, it’s too late.

Engaging and entertaining, with plenty of wry humour alongside the splashes of horror, this book shakes you up and makes you think. Excellent.

 

Riding Shotgun: And Other American Cruelties

RIDING SHOTGUN AND OTHER AMERICAN CRUELTIES is a unique collection of quirky, Tarantinoesque crime novellas, representing three very different sub-genres. In the first story, “Easy-Peezy,” a band of elderly Old West bank robbers return to their wicked ways robbing banks in the 1930s John Dillinger era. The second story, “Riding Shotgun,” is a bitter tale about a man pushed to the limits of human endurance and forced to take up arms to protect those he loves. The third tale, “$crilla,” is an urban crime fantasy in which a fledgling hip-hop group kidnaps a record mogul in the hopes of finally making the kind of loot they’ve always dreamed of.

Purchase Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Riding-Shotgun-Other-American-Cruelties-ebook/dp/B073RT1353/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Riding-Shotgun-Other-American-Cruelties-ebook/dp/B073RT1353/

Author Bio –  Andy Rausch is a freelance film journalist, author, and celebrity interviewer. He has published more than twenty books on the subject of popular culture, including The Films of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, Making Movies with Orson Welles (with Gary Graver), and The Cinematic Misadventures of Ed Wood (with Charles E. Pratt, Jr.). His work has appeared in Shock Cinema, both Screem and Scream magazines, Senses of Cinema, Diabolique, Creative Screenwriting, Film Threat, Bright Lights Film Journal, and Images: A Journal of Film and Popular Culture. He has written several works of fiction including Mad World, Elvis Presley: CIA Assassin, Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties, and the short story collection Death Rattles. He has also worked as a screenwriter, producer, and actor on numerous straight-to-video horror films.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/writerrausch1

 

I’m delighted to be taking part in the virtual tour for this super book!

My review

Rebecca is the younger, slightly-disorganised, not-quite-fulfilling-expectations sister of over-achieving Jennifer. So when Jennifer suddenly needs her help when her golden world starts to fall apart, Rebecca is as surprised as everyone else. However, she could do with getting away for a while, following an embarrassing incident when she’d had a drop too much to drink, to let the gossip die down and she feels loyalty towards her sister.

Rebecca is plunged into a hectic life of child-minding and helping at the cookery school, and it’s only made bearable by two men, Ciaran in Ireland and David in New Zealand. Is Rebecca about to get her act together and find happiness and fulfilment, or will she just continue to muddle through life?

Everything about this book is just perfect. There are detailed, atmospheric settings in the bustling city of Dublin and the seaside village of Akaroa, both of which make you want to visit these places for yourself. We meet a whole host of sparkling, distinctive characters who, with their flaws as well as their charm, are a delight to know.

There’s wonderful humour and wit, but you’ll also cringe with embarrassment alongside Rebecca too at times, and feel the tension from the stresses and imperfections of real life that find their way into the story too. It’s a diverting and absorbing read, and one I highly recommend.

Synopsis

Nobody’s Perfect Are They?

Rebecca Loughton’s bumbled her way through her thirty-something years making a few cock-ups along the way. Of course, these wouldn’t be so obvious if it wasn’t for her golden haired, older sister Jennifer.

In a bid to escape Jennifer’s lengthy shadow and to find her happy ever after Rebecca, high-tails it out of her hometown of Christchurch to the other side of the world landing a legal secretary job in the buzzing city of Dublin. A few drinks later, all she has to show for her new life is an embarrassing one-night stand and a dollop of flirtatious banter with her boss Ciaran, who just happens to have a predatory receptionist in hot pursuit of him.

Amidst plans of preventing such a merger, Rebecca receives news that Jennifer’s picture perfect life has a big, fat crack down the middle of it in the form of a philandering husband. Summoned home to look after her sister’s children and cooking school while she works on her marriage, Rebecca finds the reality of looking after two young children along with the bizarre array of guests booked into the cooking school grim. The only bright spot on her horizon are Ciaran’s e-mails but then she meets David Seagar whom she thinks might just be the ending to her happy ever after but will he prove to be far from perfect too?

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1494802112

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1494802112

Author Bio –

bty

Hello, my name is Michelle Vernal, and by way of introduction, I’m Mum to Josh and Daniel and am married to the super supportive Paul. We live in the garden city of Christchurch, New Zealand with our three-legged, black cat called Blue. BC (before children) Paul and I lived and worked in Ireland, the experiences we had there have flavoured my books.

I’ve always written, but it was only after my first son was born that I decided to attend a creative writing course at Canterbury University. Oh the guilt dropping him at pre-school so I could learn the basics of story writing, but oh the joy of having conversation to contribute other than the price of nappies that week!  The first piece I ever penned post course was published by a New Zealand parenting magazine. I went on to write humorous; opinion styled pieces of my take on parenting, but when the necessity for being politically correct got too much, I set myself the challenge of writing a novel. Six books later and a publishing deal with Harper Impulse here I am. These days I write for a North Canterbury lifestyle magazine and my latest book Sweet Home Summer has just been released by Harper Impulse.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/michellevernalnovelist/inbox/

https://twitter.com/michellevernal

https://www.instagram.com/vernalmichelle/

This is a thoroughly enjoyable cosy mystery set in Maine, although we get to find out a few other countries such as Egypt and the Sudan, and it all starts with a tourist ride on the Penhallow and Mooseland Lake Railway. What a wonderful name!

Rachel Tinker is a volunteer on the railway – she sells the tickets – so when a dead body is found on the train when it returns to base, she’s involved in inquiries. Her long-time colleague, the prickly Griffin Tate, a retired professor of Middle Easter history, becomes involved too as it seems that the Queen of Sheba may be behind all the murky deeds. Rachel and Griffin are drawn closer during their investigations. They make for an interesting and feisty pair. They’re both strong-willed, witty and, despite themselves, attracted to each other but Griffin has constructed a hard shell around himself and Rachel is under no illusions about the guy. Besides, Rachel is self-sufficient and has plenty of friends so doesn’t especially need a man in her life. But he is so very good looking…

So there’s banter and attraction alongside the delvings into dark doings with a link with the distant past. We encounter a wide cast of intriguing characters, all rounded and convincing. The story is very clever and the writing is lively. You’re kept guessing all the way through.

I’m looking forward to reading more books by this excellent author.

The book begins with the warning “Never meet your heroes”, since they have a tendency to turn out rather disappointing in real life, and initially that definitely seems to be the case for the narrator of this book. He has travelled to Greece to meet  his idol, the Greek author Irakles Bastounis. Bastounis is an era-defining author who has brushed shoulders with many others and been married to Miss Venezuela, amongst other wives. Not surprisingly our young man, whose name we never learn, is daunted when his dream actually comes true and so he fluffs up his initial meeting with the literary giant. However, he gets a second chance when Bastounis commands, not asks, him to drive him somewhere. This one somewhere becomes many as the two form an unlikely partnership as they travel through Greece together to places with significance in Greek mythology. “Myths are our roots,” according to Bastounis.

Another quote from the book is “Acclaim is a dangerous currency”, but I hope the author won’t mind if I acclaim his work. It’s compulsive reading and is rich and multi-layered. Throughout this excellent story are references to the twelve labours of Heracles (Hercules). Bastounis and his chauffeur share the same physical journey but embark on separate spiritual journeys, both facing their own labours – challenges they need to tackle. It’s probably our narrator who gets the most out of them, but Bastounis isn’t far behind. They learn more about each other too, and initially what the young man learns about his companion isn’t flattering. Opinionated, rude, privacy-invading, outspoken – other than an amazing way with words Bastounis doesn’t seem to have much going for him. However, perhaps this is another one of our young man’s challenges: to see beneath the surface, to see what’s really there in front of you.

As we and Bastounis discover, our narrator isn’t as insipid as he might first appear. He’s witty, wry, very observant and while it’s true he has a lot to learn, he’s definitely the man for this job as he’s receptive to all that Greece and Basounis have to offer him. He realises neither family nor friends will appreciate the enormity of what he’s going through with his irascible companion. They just think he’s wasting his time bumming around in Greece but he’s aware that it’s them living the vacuous, shallow lives.

This book gives you much to think about. Who actually is the real hero here, the Heracles? Our narrator or Bastounis? And who’s Cerberus? Cerberus was the three-headed Hound of Hades. It was his job to stop the dead escaping from the underworld. So if he’s collared, that means presumably that these lost souls can break free. They can live again. Does collaring our young man to act as his chauffeur allow Bastounis a last chance to make his mark, or by befriending and de-clawing Bastounis is it our narrator who can run from the shadows into the light?

As well as such fascinating teasing, there are wonderful, vibrant characters and vivid settings in the book that captivate. You’ll find the sights and soul of Greece within these pages. A marvellous novel.  

(Published by Thistle Publishing, available from Amazon stores.)

 

Summer at The Little Duck Pond Café

Jaz Winters stuck a pin in a map and fled to the village of Sunnybrook, looking for a brand new life – and after a rocky start, it’s beginning to look as if she made the right decision. Her blossoming friendship with Ellie and Fen has seen her through some dark times, and she’s managed to land two jobs – waitress at The Little Duck Pond Café and working as a weekend tour guide at Brambleberry Manor, the country house that’s been in Fen’s family for generations.

Sure, life isn’t totally perfect. There’s the irritating know-it-all guy who keeps popping up on her manor tours, for a start. He seems determined to get under Jaz’s skin whether she likes it or not. But she supposes it’s a small price to pay for the relative peace she’s found, living in Sunnybrook.

But just as Jaz is beginning to think rosier times are on the horizon, a shock encounter looks set to shatter her fragile happiness.

Will she be forced to flee from Sunnybrook and everyone she’s grown so fond of? Or will she find the strength to stand her ground and finally face up to the nightmares of the past?

This novella is part of a trilogy:

Spring at The Little Duck Pond Café

Summer at The Little Duck Pond Café

Winter at The Little Duck Pond Café

 

And here’s the fabulously summery cover!

 

Pre-order on Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Little-Duck-Pond-Cafe-ebook/dp/B07C5CL9XF/

 

And there’s another treat for you – Spring at the Little Duck Pond Café will be free on Amazon on 29th May to coincide with this cover reveal day. What are you waiting for? Grab yourself a copy to read, enjoy and review.

 

Author Bio

Rosie Green has been scribbling stories ever since she was little. Back then they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’. Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all, unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred on life in a village café. Summer at The Little Duck Pond Café, published on 18th June 2018, follows the first in the series, Spring at The Little Duck Pond Café.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Rosie_Green1988