I’m delighted to be taking part in the book tour for this truly fascinating novel.

The Second Footman of the title is a man of many names, but Max is the one he settles on for himself. In his footman role he is Jean, the name of his predecessor. It won’t do for his mistress, the Duchess de Claireville, to have to learn a new name.

Max is nineteen. He has a somewhat mysterious past that we gradually learn more about as the story proceeds. We quickly learn that he’s ambitious and has a plan to further and improve himself up his sleeve. This book, the first in a trilogy, sets the scene for his future machinations which will involve Armand de Miremont.

The setting is nineteenth-century France and the author evokes this superbly. If we thought life then was all elegance then we’re soon disabused. The wealthy citizens might appear to be lucky with their big houses and indulgent lifestyles, but there are many constraints,  social, moral and religious. Servants live in squalor, with sweat-stiffened uniforms and stuffed into tiny, shared, stifling rooms.  Our eyes are really opened to such details.

The language and style of writing sets this book firmly in its time too. You can easily believe you’re reading something by an author of the period that the book is set in. Aptly, the book is quite slow-moving but never becomes bogged down. The author gives back story and detailed character portrayals where appropriate alongside the action. So occasionally it’s two steps forward, one step back but we need to cover our bases so that this book and the rest of the trilogy can be firmly established.

Despite the rigid class structure and outward appearances, it is still possible although not easy to indulge passions. Same-sex love has to be expressed in private.

This is a story of dark secrets, opportunism, selfishness but also self-truth and slightly menacing romance. It’s captivating.

Synopsis

Nineteen year-old Max is the duchesse de Claireville’s second footman, but he does not intend to endure the indignities of service for long. He has a plan-to find an aristocratic patron who will become his unwitting accomplice in an audacious fraud. It is true that in 1880s’ France, despite nearly a century of revolution and social turmoil, the aristocracy is still firmly entrenched in privilege, and the gulf between the salon and the servants’ hall is as wide as ever. But Max is handsome, quick to learn and confident of his abilities as a seducer of both men and women. Whether ladling soup into noble plates beneath crystal chandeliers, or reading biographies of the great generals in his squalid footman’s dormitory, he is planning his strategy. He, Max, is the man of the future – ruthless, above morality and sentimental attachments. Yet, when, after a couple of false starts, he at last acquires his patron, he finds himself ambushed by instinctive longings-for friendship, for affection-that threaten his grand plan. ‘Be true to yourself…’ the saying goes. But to which self? And what is ‘truth’?

 

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2J2ry2e

Author Bio 

Jasper Barry graduated from Cambridge with a degree in English and has worked in

advertising, then in journalism. Jasper lives in London with too many books and three

obstreperous cats.

Social Media Links –

http://jasperbarry.co.uk

https://twitter.com/jasperbarry2?lang=en

https://www.facebook.com/jasper.barry.1

The Hattie Hastings trilogy is a heart-warming delight to read. Part three brings this lovely story to an end.
Hattie’s husband Gary has died, but he’s not ready to leave her just yet and so haunts her, in a friendly comforting way, during these three short novellas.
In the last of these, Gary needs Hattie to perform a very difficult duty. She’s not sure she can possibly succeed but, supported by her close friends, she undertakes to do her very best.
Hattie is a charming character, likeable and strong, and her friends and family are equally pleasant to know, despite their flaws and foibles. Those are what them all so very believable in a story that calls for the suspense of disbelief when it comes to the plot.
Expect to be whisked along on an emotional roller-coaster ride by the author in this fresh and original trilogy. Great fun.

 

Synopsis

Nothing lasts foreverGary’s time on earth seems to be coming to an end. His visits are less frequent and his visibility is fading fast. But he still has a mission to accomplish, which involves Hattie and her ability to pass on a heart-rending message.

Best friend Cat’s ex-husband is determined to prove that he deserves another chance, but do leopards really change their spots?

Times are tough for Hattie’s mother Rachel, but where there’s life, there’s hope …

Meanwhile, is there someone already in Hattie’s life who can help her move on when it’s finally time to say goodbye?

Get your tissues at the ready – both for laughter and tears – with the final instalment of a trilogy that has been hailed ‘brilliant’, ‘hilarious’, and ‘a great feel-good read’.

 

Purchase from Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Haunting-Hattie-Hastings-Part-Three-ebook/dp/B07DT2P5Q3

 

About Audrey Davis

Audrey Davis survived secondary school on the West coast of Scotland. Rubbish at science but not too bad at English, she originally wanted to be an actress but was persuaded that journalism was a safer option. Probably wise. She studied at Napier College in Edinburgh, the only place in Scotland at that time to offer a journalism course.

Her first foray into the hard-nosed newspaper world was as a junior reporter in Dumfriesshire. Duties included interviewing farmers about the prize-winning heifers to reporting on family tragedies. She persuaded her editor to let her launch an entertainment column which meant meeting the odd celebrity – or just the downright odd. From there, she moved to the loftier rank of senior reporter back in her home patch. Slightly more money, fewer farm animals but a higher crime rate. As Taggart would say: ‘There’s been a murrrrder!’

After a stint in London on a video magazine – yes, she is that old – Audrey moved to Singapore with her fiancé. She tried valiantly to embrace the stinking heat, humidity and lack of jobs, although she did work briefly on a magazine which was banned by the government for ‘artistic’ use of naked men’s bottoms.

Next on her adventures was a land Down Under where her main focus was raising Cost Centre One (aka firstborn) and coming to terms with the imminent arrival of Number Two. Still, she loved the Aussie way of life – BBQs, beaches and bring your own booze to restaurants – so it came as a blow when OH announced a move back to the UK. Not a job between them, the climate a possible deal breaker and an Exorcist-style vomiting infant on the flight home didn’t bode well …

Always a survivor, Audrey sought out similar-minded friends (i.e. slightly bonkers), got the children into a good school and thought about taking up writing again. Sadly, thinking about it was as far as she got, unless you count shopping lists. Then, hubby drops another bombshell. Switzerland. As in – it’s packing time again. Off to the land of cheese, chocolate, scarily efficient trains and a couple of teeny, tiny issues. Like driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and speaking a foreign language (French). The former was conquered fairly quickly (we’ll skip over the wall demolition in week two), the latter remains an ongoing battle of the hopeful against the hopeless. At least she provides amusement for the local workforce.
It wasn’t until 2016 that Audrey rediscovered her writing mojo with an online Writing Fiction course. From there, her first novel – A Clean Sweep – was born, although it took a bit longer than nine months from conception. A short, darker prequel – A Clean Break – followed, and in November 2017 she published the first in a novella trilogy, The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part One. Part Two is published on 21 March 2018, with the conclusion following in July. After which she might have a wee lie down …

 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/audreydavisbooks

Twitter- https://twitter.com/audbyname

 

Synopsis

A shocking death turns a homecoming into a nightmare. 

It’s Easter 1970 in the seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, and for one family the first Easter of a new decade brings a shocking tragedy. Amateur sleuth and professional librarian, Janie Juke, is settling into motherhood and looking forward to spending time with her family. When her Aunt Jessica is due back from Rome after nine years travelling around Europe, she arrives back in town with a new Italian friend, Luigi, and the whole family soon get embroiled in a tangle of mystery and suspicion, with death and passion at the heart of the story.

As time runs out on Luigi as prime suspect for murder, Janie has to use all of her powers of deduction in the footsteps of her hero, Hercule Poirot, to uncover the facts. Why did Luigi come to Tamarisk Bay? What is the truth about his family?
As Luigi’s story unfolds, tragedy seems to haunt the past, present and unless Janie acts fast, possibly what is yet to come.

 

My review
The main action of this story is set in Tamarisk Bay, after the theft of a briefcase on a train which is what sets events in motion. The book opens with a little map of the small town to give us an idea of where everything is. That’s a nice touch.
As mentioned, the story begins with a theft. The suitcase belongs to Luigi, who is the friend of Janie’s Aunt Jessica and that is how our librarian and new mother heroine Janie becomes involved. This apparently random crime turns out to be anything but, and brings some dark, passionate secrets to the fore.
The 1960s setting is evocatively created, and brings back memories for those of us who remember that period! The travelling in trains and ferries at the start of the book are both so well described you can feel the tray swaying and the boat heaving on the rough sea. This trait of beautiful, vivid descriptions remains throughout. It’s enhanced by the fact that Janie’s father is blind, so she always gives him very detailed accounts of things he can no longer see, and this really lifts the images from the page.
The book is filled with engaging, interesting characters, all distinct and convincing. Family relationships are central to the story, both close and happy ones, and difficult, strained ones.
The author has a down-to-earth style that is very approachable and flowing. You quickly find yourself immersed in the writing and whisked along by events. The story is complex rather than complicated, with interesting twists and turns and it keeps us on our toes. There’s a strong Italian flavour to it, which adds to the richness.
It’s an enjoyable and absorbing read.

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Case-heartbreaking-tragedy-cold-blooded-ebook/dp/B07D5BLMG6/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invisible-Case-heartbreaking-tragedy-cold-blooded-ebook/dp/B07D5BLMG6/

Author Bio –

Isabella Muir is the author of Janie Juke series of crime mysteries – all set in Sussex.

‘The Tapestry Bag’ is the first in the series, followed by ‘Lost Property’. Now – ‘The Invisible Case’ – the latest in the series is available for pre-order from Amazon.

The ‘Janie Juke mysteries’ are set in Sussex in the sixties and seventies and feature a young librarian with a passion for Agatha Christie. All that Janie has learned from her hero, Hercule Poirot, she is able to put into action as she sets off to solve a series of crimes and mysteries.

Isabella has also published ‘Ivory Vellum’ – a collection of short stories.

She has been surrounded by books her whole life and – after working for twenty years as a technical editor and having successfully completed her MA in Professional Writing – she was inspired to focus on fiction writing.

Aside from books, Isabella has a love of all things caravan-like. She has spent many winters caravanning in Europe and now, together with her husband, she runs a small caravan site in Sussex. They are ably assisted by their much-loved Scottie, Hamish.

Social Media Links –

TWITTER  @SussexMysteries

FACEBOOK  https://www.facebook.com/isabel.muir.96

WEBSITE: www.isabellamuir.com

Giveaway – Win a signed copy of The Invisible Case (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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

My review

It’s hard to classify this lively novel – it’s detective story, with steampunk, supernatural and fantasy elements. Quite unique and definitely admirable. I’m a firm believer that any book that can’t be pigeonholed neatly is definitely worth a read.

And this one is. It’s extremely entertaining.

The novel has a Victorian setting and the language and characters and their situations are entirely apt for this. Barnabas Tew, a Sherlock Holmes wannabe with sidekick Wilfred, isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. He tends to solve the crimes after he’s lost his clients – either because they’ve given up on him or been killed by the stalkers he was hired to find! However, nothing daunted he tackles his next undertaking with zeal, and some surprise. A trip to view the new Egyptian treasures display at the British Museum leads neatly into this particular adventure. His new client is none other than Anubis, the Egyptian god, and since the sun god (the scarab beetle of the title) has gone missing, the fate of humankind is at stake if BT can’t solve the mystery so that the sun can continue to be rolled across the sky. Could this be the case that will rocket Barnabas Tew to fame and give him an equal ranking with his hero? Or will he fail miserably, as seems to be the pattern of his sleuthing attempts?

The book is a breathless and romp through the underworld, and immense good fun. There’s lots of wit and wryness, imaginative action and comedy. There’s great chemistry between Barnabas and the unflappable, sensible Wilfred who does his best to keep his boss safe. Both take dealing with Egyptian mythological figures and all that entails firmly in their stride with Britishly stiff upper lips and get on with the unlikely task at hand.  

If you enjoy novels that are quirky and escapist, then this is one for you. I loved it and will be following Barnabas’s future adventures with keen interest. You have to wonder what he can possibly do for an encore…

Synopsis

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab
Barnabas Tew, a detective in Victorian London, is having a hard time making a name for himself, probably because most of his clients end up dead before he can solve their cases. His luck is about to change, though, for better or worse: Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead, notices him and calls him to the Egyptian underworld. A terrible kidnapping has occurred; one that promises to put an end to the status quo and could perhaps even put an end to the entire world. It is up to Barnabas (along with his trusty assistant, Wilfred) to discover the culprit and set things to right. Can he turn his luck around and solve the most important case of his life?
Purchase Link – mybook.to/Barnabas

Author Bio

Columbkill Noonan lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where she teaches yoga and Anatomy and Physiology. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her first novel, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” by Crooked Cat Books, was released in 2017, and her latest work, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds”, is set to be released in September 2018.
In her spare time, Columbkill enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, aerial yoga, and riding her rescue horse, Mittens. To learn more about Columbkill please feel free to visit her website (www.columbkill.weebly.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ColumbkillNoonan) or on Twitter (@ColumbkillNoon1).
Social Media Links – Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ColumbkillNoonan/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/columbkillnoon1?lang=en

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/?

It’s an absolute delight to be taking part in the blog tour for this fascinating book.

The Vanished Child will tug at your heartstrings. It’s very powerful, extremely moving and unputdownable.

Jayne, a genealogist, takes on a job for her new step-mother, Vera. On her death bed, Vera’s mother, Freda, revealed to her that she has an older brother who was illegitimate. The boy, Harry, was sent to a home and then foster parents. Freda hoped to claim him again, but when she was ready to do so she discovered he’d been shipped, as did an obscene number of children over many years, out to the old ‘colonies’ purportedly for new, rich lives with loving families, but that was frequently far from the truth. Freda is filled with regret for what happened. 

There are two storylines in The Vanished Child – one in the 1950s where we follow the events surrounding Harry and the other in the present day. This second one revolves around Jayne and her meticulous genealogical research. We move between the two which makes the book so alive and tantalising. Each period is depicted in detail, and the settings in both the UK and Australia are convincing and enveloping.  

Jayne is an interesting character with family mysteries of her own to discover. She’s very likeable, and also admirable as she’s conscientious, pleasant and determined. Her life comes over as familiar and cosy to us with her Nespresso machine, cat, and other homely details. This creates a very convincing character, one we care about. It’s fascinating to follow her research, and very interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes in this sort of investigation.

Harry’s life is far less cosy, and we cringe as we see what happens to him, but take heart from his strength and determination, especially in one so young. But so much time has passed and there are difficulties for Jayne and her work colleague Duncan to overcome in their search for the vanished child. Has it all been left too late? Can you really trace someone who’s half a world away after more than sixty years? You’ll have to read this poignant book for yourself to find out if there can be a happy ending for this fractured family. It’s absolutely to be recommended.

The Vanished Child

What would you do if you discovered you had a brother you never knew existed?

On her deathbed, Freda Duckworth confesses to giving birth to an illegitimate child in 1944 and temporarily placing him in a children’s home. She returned later but he had vanished.

What happened to the child? Why did he disappear? Where did he go?

Jayne Sinclair, genealogical investigator, is faced with lies, secrets, and one of the most shameful episodes in recent history as she attempts to uncover the truth.

Can she find the vanished child?

This book is the fourth in the Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery series, but can be read as a standalone novel.

Every childhood lasts a lifetime.

Purchase LinkmyBook.to/vanishedchild

Author Bio Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.

He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.

When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, researching his family history, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

Social Media Links

Website: www.writermjlee.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/WriterMJLee

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/writermjlee

 

Follow the book’s tour here:

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

This book is deliciously fascinating. What better way to learn about a country’s history than by being introduced to it around a certain food item, such as artichokes, wine or cheese. The author explains how politics, economics and culture link with food in ‘foodways’, which reveal a great deal about a country. We discover many such foodways in this book.

The book is like a plate of nibbles – bite-sized chunks of history and food at a time. We learn about Gauls as the same time as wine, Barbarians and table manners, The Battles of Tours and Poitiers and goat cheese, Charlemagne and honey, Viking invasions and Bénédictine liqueur, feudalism and diet, the Crusades and plums, Eleanor of Aquitaine and claret, Cathars and vegetarianism, taxes and seasalt, the Black Prince and cassoulet, the plague and vinegar, Charles the Mad and Roquefort, the Renaissance and oranges, colonisation and chocolate, sugar, forks and Catherine de Medici, chickens and King Henry IV… and that’s just for starters! Many other snippets of info are sprinkled like condiments over the main ingredients to pique our appetite. This really is a feast of a book.

Just as it’s hard to relinquish a plate a plate of moreish food, it’s very hard to put down the book once you’ve started reading. The author’s style is thoroughly engaging and enjoyable. He’s witty as well as wise, and you learn so much without realising it. He communicates so passionately and knowledgeably it’s hard not to be won over.

Like your favourite restaurant, this book is absolutely to be recommended.

The book is due out on 10 July 2018 from The New Press. My only quibble – it’s rather pricey. The Kindle edition is priced at €18.99 and the print copy at €24.24, which will surely affect its sales. This book has massive appeal but that price tag will put many purchasers off.    

This book

So what is this book about? Here’s the blurb:

Blood Ribbon

When there’s more than secrets buried, where do you start digging?

When Brooke Adams is found battered, bleeding, and barely conscious, the police are at a loss as to who her attacker is or why she was targeted.

Then, PI Rod Morgan turns up convinced that Brooke’s attack is the latest in a string of unsolved disappearances dating back twenty-five years.

The police, however, aren’t convinced, so Brooke and Rod must investigate the cases themselves.

As secrets from the past start unravelling, will they find Brooke’s attacker before he strikes again, or is that one secret that will stay buried forever?

Publication Date – 10th August 2018

And now here’s the cover…

Isn’t it tantalising? I’m definitely looking forward to reading this.

About Roger Bray

I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops.

My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider.

Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing.

Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school.

So here we are, two books published and another on track.

Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.

 

Social Media Links  

https://twitter.com/rogerbray22

https://www.facebook.com/rogerbraybooks/

https://rogerbraybooks.com/

 

 

 

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/