The Anarchists’ Club by Alex Reeve

This is the second book in the Leo Stanhope series, and if you haven’t read the first one yet, The House on Half Moon Street, then please do, because you are missing out on a great book.

Leo gets called to identify the body of a woman who has been buried in the midst of a burrow of rooms and hallways that harbour a group of anarchists. His first instinct is to lie and his second one is to worry about who wasn’t found with the corpse.

Leo and Rosie end up as a sleuthing duo again in this story, although their relationship is quite rocky. Leo finds it difficult to forgive Rosie for what happened to Leo in that room. They need to have clarification on why Leo feels so betrayed. Not that it was her fault that they ended up there, but perhaps it has more to do with seeing his vulnerable side and being a witness to the worst thing that could possibly happen to Leo or Rosie. She has seen his shame, but then wasn’t she the one who opened that door?

The premise is absolutely refreshing. Reeve wants the reader to understand the limitations for transgender people in this particular era, which can’t really be compared to those in the 21st century. Although, to be completely fair there are still plenty of countries with laws comparable to those in the dark ages.

It’s historical crime fiction with a compelling main character. Reeve has a natural flair for crime and for telling a story. This isn’t a writer who has decided to throw in a transgender character to shake a genre up or be in vogue. He has created a main character with longevity and potential, and it certainly wouldn’t work if he wasn’t such a talented scribe. Luckily he is, which hopefully means we will be hearing a lot more from Reeve in the future.

Buy The Anarchists’ Club (Leo Stanhope 2) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Raven Books; pub date 2 May 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Read my review of Half Moon Street by Alex Reeve.

Follow Alex Reeves @storyjoy or @BloomsburyRaven onTwitter

#BlogTour One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly

Today it’s the BlogTour One Last Summer by Victoria Connelly. It’s a story about friendship, loyalty and relationships. It’s also about maintaining control of your life in a difficult situation.About the Author

Victoria Connelly studied English literature at Worcester University, got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and now lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a young springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens.

She is the author of two bestselling series, Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in 2008 by Ziegler Films in Germany. The Runaway Actress was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Comedy Novel award.

Ms Connelly loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden, with either a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.

Follow @VictoriaDarcy on Twitter and @VictoriaConnellyAuthor in Instagram, Visit victoriaconnelly.com

Buy One Last Summer

About the book

They have the whole summer ahead of them. Is it enough to rekindle the friendship they once shared?

Harriet Greenleaf dreams of spending the summer in a beautiful ancient priory on the Somerset coast with her two best friends—but her dream is bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s a chance to reconnect three lives that have drifted apart; on the other, she has a devastating secret to share that will change everything between them forever.

First to arrive is Audrey—the workaholic who’s heading for a heart attack unless she slows down and makes time for herself. Then Lisa, the happy-go-lucky flirt who’s always struggled to commit to anyone—or anything. Ever the optimist, can Harriet remind them of the joy in their lives and the importance of celebrating good friendship before it’s gone?

Through the highs and lows of a long, glorious summer, these three women will rediscover what it means to be there for each other—before they face the hardest of goodbyes.

Review

Harriet has received the devastating news that her cancer is back and it’s terminal. She wants to spend one last summer with her best friends. She rents an old abbey in a beautiful location so they can all enjoy peace, serenity and being cut off from the responsibilities and stresses of everyday life.

Harriet wants to say goodbye, but without the other two being aware of that being her intention. It makes the situation slightly difficult, because Audrey and Lisa can only react to the facts when they know what they are dealing with. It makes them come off as insensitive and self absorbed.

I liked the fact the author didn’t feel the need to make the relationships Harriet and Lisa have with new men automatically be sexual. Men and women can have close friendships without any extra commitments. They can bond and have satisfying conversations without going the full mile within the first few days of meeting each other.

I found it a little unusual that Harriet hadn’t shared anything about her illness with her ‘best’ friends. I understand it makes for a more emotional read, but surely losing an important part of herself and image as a woman would be something she might want to share with the women she says are the closest to her.

It’s a story about friendship, loyalty and relationships. It’s also about maintaining control of your life when life decides to throw a spanner in between the spokes of your wheel of life. Harriet decides, it is her choice. She might not be able to dictate the when or the how, but she can try and determine the time leading up to it. It’s a thoughtful and emotional premise.

Buy One Last Summer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Lake Union Publishing; pub date 5 Feb. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

#LoveonTour #BlogTour Love and Other Things to Live For by Louise Leverett

Today it’s Hardcover Publication Day! And it is definitely is an absolute pleasure to take part in the #LoveonTour BlogTour for Love And Other Things to Live For by Louise Leverett. It’s literary fiction, women’s fiction and it is contemporary fiction.

About the Author

Louise Leverett graduated from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London on a full scholarship before moving on to study at the Lee Strasberg Institute of Film in New York.

Since establishing her own business ‘Rock the Tribes’ she is now working on a collection of writings that will eventually be turned into adaptations for screen.

Follow @LouiseLeverett on Twitter, on Amazonon Goodreads, Visit rockthetribes.com and louiseleverett.com

Buy Love and Other Things to Live For

About the book

Jessica Wood is an aspiring photographer living in London. She’s had her heart broken, and her friends have pieced it back together again.

But across the neon lights of Soho, in the smell of alcohol and cigarette smoke, on every night bus, in every song, every time she tries to forget: she remembers him.

Now, in a battle between the past and the future, choosing between having a life and making a living, finding her feet or spreading her wings, Jessica must ask herself: who is she really living for?

Love and Other Things to Live For is an ode to modern girls and triumph over heartbreak, perfect for fans of Holly Bourne and Dolly Alderton.Review

One wouldn’t be wrong for thinking, just purely based on the playful and colourful title and cover, that this is a spirited and funny story about life and love. It is so much more. It’s literary fiction, it’s a work of great depth even though it purports to glide glibly across the surface of emotions, relationships and the meaning of life.

It’s the story of Jessica as she navigates her discovery of self, after the collapse of her romantic relationship throws her into a self-destructive spin. The blurb describes how she searches for him in every smoke filled room, in the bottom of every glass and between every sheet. I don’t think she is. I think, without actually realising it, that she is searching for and has always been looking for herself.

Whilst reading the voice of the twentysomething of the 21st century I realise just how lucky I was to have lived my younger years in a time before the digital age. In a time where human connection was the first priority in building relationships, and especially in romantic relationships. Actual face to face interaction, talking, handwritten cards and letters, phone calls on telephones that don’t pre-warn you of the presence on the other end. In a way it must sound incredibly intimate, scary and dangerous to younger generations or bold, brassy and old-fashioned.

I’m not sure if I would want to be a young person, or older one for that matter, who has to try and find someone to love in a world of digital devices, apps and images. A world of catfish, photoshopped images and enhanced bios. Is there any truth left at all in a century driven by technology, where the human touch is being slowly eradicated by industrial development and robotics. In an era where the masses thrive off social media and are influenced by false facts and manipulated by monopolised media outlets.

All of that may seem incredibly deep, but then so is this book in my opinion.

It’s literary fiction, women’s fiction and it is contemporary fiction. Jessica is all of us, Jessica could be Jeff and would still be all of us, because her insights and experiences aren’t exclusive. At the same time her very personal experience speaks volumes about the struggles women have living in a patriarchal society. Expected to bow down to the whims of others in our career, life, relationships and families.

This story asks readers to take a step back and slowly cover the image of everyone close to them until nothing remains but the person holding these pages and reading the words. Who is it that remains? Who are we living for? The answer must be for ourselves, the rest and the others should always be secondary. Is that selfishness or self-preservation. Either way it’s food for thought.

Buy Love And Other Things to Live For at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ pub date 18 April 2019. Buy at Amazon com. Book Depository.

#BlogTour The Fire Priest by Stephen Murdoch

Today it’s my turn on the Blog Book Tour for The Fire Priest (Pawns of the God #1). It’s the melded worlds of fantasy, magic, mythology and even historical fiction with a coming-of-age element to it. There is a great Q&A with Stephen Murdoch for you to enjoy, my review, and a chance to win a copy of The Fire Priest.

Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below at the bottom of this post to win a copy of The Fire Priest.

About the Author

Stephen Murdoch is a writer and investor who lives in England with his wife and three daughters. He is the author of the non-fiction book IQ: A Smart History of a Failed Idea (Wiley, 2007). He has written for various publications, including Newsweek, The Washington Post, and PRI’s Marketplace. The Fire Priest is his first work of fiction. Murdoch is the chairman of two healthcare providers in the UK that provide cutting edge digital and bricks-and-mortar solutions to the mental health sector.

Follow Stephen on Goodreads, on AmazonBuy The Fire Priest

About the book

Seventeen-year-old Jack Kulinski is the best mixed martial arts fighter of his generation. So why does fighting scare him so much? In the ring, the sound of swarming bees mysteriously fills his head, and it takes all of his effort to not flee in panic. But when his best friend disappears, and Jack, alone, discovers that he’s been magicked to a terrible land ruled by a murderous god and his violent people, he needs to learn how to face his fears and to fight better than he ever has before.

Q&A

Before we get down to business (i.e. talking about your book) I would like to ask a set of questions I call ‘Breaking the Ice.’

The last book you read? (Inquisitive bookworms would like to know) I’ve just finished On Hitler’s Mountain: Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood, by Irmgard Hunt. I really enjoy memoirs that involve important and compelling issues. The first person, story-telling format makes the content so much more accessible. In this book, Hunt illustrates how and why average Germans (including her parents) supported someone as awful as Hitler. The facts of the history are well-known: the Germans suffered terrible poverty and inflation in the 1920s, making people more receptive to a strong man who made promises, and to some extent delivered. But, for me, the details of Hunt’s story as she goes from young girl in the Hitler Youth to growing scepticism makes the history all the more understandable. She loved her mother and father, and they were a loving family, who happened to be Nazi supporters. Her story explains how such a thing is possible.

I think it’s important to read this kind of material as a writer of fantasy fiction, which often involves the violent clash of good versus evil. First of all, people who commit terrible acts and support evil movements almost always believe they are good people in a righteous cause. To write an “evil” character involves understanding why that person believes he or she is helping the world and doing the right thing. In The Fire Priest, one tribe of people have dominated their continent for 300 years, enslaved other tribes, and often sacrificed people they consider “other” to their god. There were many times when I was writing the story when I thought, hang on a second, is this too outlandish? Surely a people wouldn’t act so terribly for 300 years! But sadly I think it’s entirely possible. The bulk of Germans only started to lose faith in the Nazis when the war stopped going well for them. If the Third Reich had been successful for longer who knows how long the people would have supported them? When people believe something as a group, and constantly reinforce their beliefs through laws, customs, and religion, they can do terrible things. Fantasy fiction should be otherworldly, but still ring true, and part of what The Fire Priest is doing is exploring evil perpetrated by an entire people under the rule of religious leaders. 

Writers or books who have inspired you to put pen to paper? There are so many excellent writers and we readers are overwhelmed by the number of good books out there. It’s why I think you should put a book down in the first 20-30 pages if it doesn’t work for you. There are too many good ones out there to waste your time on ones that don’t grab you. 

My tastes have changed over the years, and who has inspired me and who I’d want to meet varies depending on what age we’re talking about. Right now, at the age of 51, I’d probably want to meet the great non-fiction writer Michael Lewis (Flash Boys, Moneyball, The Big Short, and others). He can convey ideas in a way that renders them a joy to consume, and he writes about compelling issues of the day with narrative ability. He’s very good at reporting and writing, which I think is rare. Often non-fiction writers and journalists are better at one or the other. 

But back when I was a teenager, for sure I would have wanted to meet Michael Moorcock. (Okay, I’ll be honest: I’d still love to meet the man.) He definitely inspired me to become a writer, and especially his Elric/eternal champion series. I read a lot of him as a teenager, and probably only had a vague sense of his abilities and breadth. Moorcock wrote for and was an editor for magazines (Tarzan Adventures, when he was just a teenager!), wrote fantasy and “speculative” fiction novels, edited anthologies, wrote higher-brow literature, and even played in bands. The short of it is that I’m intimidated and impressed by a writer like Moorcock. He told bold stories fearlessly and famously wrote novels in less than a week at 15,000 words a day. To be so confident and be able to turn on the creative juice like that is just stunning. 

All of the above questions are actually a pretty elaborate pysch evaluation disguised as random questions. Have no fear here come the real ones. Let’s talk about The Fire Priest (Pawns of the Gods).

It’s fair to say that The Fire Priest is quite an ambitious piece of fiction. The two worlds collide with the present, with history and the two main characters evolve and transform during the reading experience.

Tell us about your inspiration for The Fire Priest. At a basic level, I wanted to take two young relatable Californians (Jack and his friend, Denny) and put them in very stressful, otherworldly circumstances. I thought it would make them sympathetic and it’s simply a good starting point for a novel that holds your attention. But I also just like gateway fantasy, wherein characters from our world are taken to a very different world. This can be terribly clichéd, so I worried over the mechanism for taking the characters to the world of Tal’alli. Ultimately, the characters have to get there somehow, so hopefully readers who like this sub-genre are receptive to its tropes.

Through the structure of the story I tried to make Jack and Denny’s journey to Tal’alli mysterious, but as the characters begin to understand the new world the reader does, as well. Hopefully, I haven’t made it downright confusing and inaccessible at the beginning of the story; I thought there was a fine balance between creating curiosity and confusion in the reader. But it’s a fun one if I’ve got it right.

One of the elements of the story I was interested in was Jack and his ability or lack of ability to fight, despite proving his ability to do so at an earlier point in time. Was proving himself and facing his insecurities an important part of his development as a character? Most definitely there’s something going on with Jack’s relationship to fighting. He has a struggle within himself that must be resolved before he can fight to the best of his abilities. He isn’t aware of his inner struggle, though. He is in terrifying circumstances and a tremendously gifted fighter, so his innate strengths and outer obstacles are well matched, even if he doesn’t think so. Belief in oneself can either be a tired or evergreen theme of Hollywood movies, but there’s a reason why it so often resonates: it comports resoundingly with our own lives. So many of us are overly hard on ourselves, which doesn’t help because all too often the world is keen to join in. Plus, young men, in particular, are often angry. I remember the feeling myself. At some stage, self-criticism and anger must morph into something healthier and more productive. Jack, like the rest of us, is on that journey.

You have drawn upon the Mesoamerican culture and religion for the world the boys become involved in. Why Mesoamerican, what about it spoke to you so much it ended up determining the direction of your story? Mesoamerican religion hasn’t been drawn upon much in American fiction, but if an author is looking for tension it is ripe subject matter. For me, Aztec religious violence—mainly the sacrifice—was a starting point. The main Aztec god Tezcatlipoca was both a creator and a destroyer, and most certainly terrifying. In The Fire Priest, I very roughly based Lord Tezca on him, but dropped the creator aspect of his character.

Lord Tezca is singularly voracious and greedy. The more he consumes the more he wants, and his people must feed him or suffer consequences. I did this purposefully. People create the religions that they want to; their beliefs are a reflection of themselves. The idea that Jesus Christ wants us to be successful in business is a decidedly 20th century American idea. Fourteenth Century European priests didn’t preach to their congregated peasants that Jesus wanted them to become rich. The Innu’chat, the dominant tribe of the world Jack is taken to, have pushed their religion in the direction of dominance and violence, because that has been a successful strategy for them. But ultimately, people get to choose who, how, and whether they worship, no matter what priests tell them and this is an undercurrent of The Fire Priest. 

There is much ado made about the difference between Jack the awkward and plain one, and Denny the incredibly handsome one. Without revealing any spoilers, the balance is switched a little later in the book. Is that a subliminal message about inner/outer beauty and self-worth? Most certainly. I think this theme arose in the story naturally for me. I was born and raised in Southern California, where looks are given a premium. Of course, looks are valued everywhere, and that’s not a terrible thing, but some cultures value them more than others, and I’d say that California comes high on that list. I also think it’s common for boys to objectify girls (everywhere!), and for very beautiful girls to become defined by their looks, even by their own measure. I turned this slightly on its head by making Denny gorgeous, and self-defined by this, which surely is rarer for a boy simply because society doesn’t emphasize it as much.

At the beginning of the story, he’s not motivated in school, isn’t an athlete, and doesn’t have many interests beyond being handsome, dating girls, and being Jack’s best friend (who has currency, in Denny’s mind, because of his phenomenal fighting ability). But it’s dangerous for people to be defined by one thing, whether it’s looks, money, professional standing, or athletic prowess. The monomaniacal focus renders them boring for a start, but if that one, all-important thing is taken away they are in serious trouble. Physical beauty, in particular, whatever amount we’ve got, gets taken from us all as we age. Something happens to Denny in The Fire Priest and he is only at the beginning of thinking about it. 

This is the first book in the Pawns of the Gods series, what comes next in the series and when can we expect book two? I’m quite close to being finished with the second book, which is currently called The Priest Slayer. Maybe I shouldn’t say this as, obviously, I’m trying to promote The Fire Priest at the moment, but I think it’s better than the first book. Perhaps a smoother way of saying that is if you liked The Fire Priest, you’ll like the The Priest Slayer even more. Ha! The Fire Priest was my first novel, though, and for most of us mortals (I’m sure Michael Moorcock aside) there’s a whole heap of learning that goes into that. In the second book the characters develop more, I’m better with perspective switches and the pacing in general. What’s more, the world of Tal’alli changes dramatically, allowing me to explore and develop it more, which was fun. 

Thank you for answering all of my questions, especially the odder ones! I’m a middle-aged man who sits alone in his office thinking about magic. Odd is my familiar. 

Review

This is an ambitious piece of fantasy fiction, which has plenty of potential and room for development. The human world is drawn into a world of demons, sacrifice and a land governed by a ruthless violent god.

When I say the human world it’s actually two teenage boys, Jack and Denny, who happen to catch the eye of the fire priest and priestess. They want to use the two unassuming lads for their own nefarious plans. These two worlds collide with the present, with history and the two main characters evolve and transform during the reading experience from carefree teenagers to young men willing to fight for themselves and others to destroy evil.

Jack is supposedly the best mixed martial arts fighter of his generation, except lately he keeps losing. As soon as he enters the ring he lacks concentration, determination and in general just an instinct to win. There is something going on that he is unaware of, perhaps an inner battle of self-doubt or whether he should be using his talents for something more worthwhile.

What’s interesting about Denny is the correlation the author draws between his physical appearance and his worth or the way his treated and the way people react to him because of it, and what happens when that element is taken away. It’s a thought to ponder on.

I’m not going to go into all of the characters, despite how interesting a certain one is and how much I would love to pick their persona and role in this story completely apart bit by bit. *Cough cough Uncle Rabbit* Keep your eye on the rabbit. Just saying.

Murdoch draws upon the Mesoamerican culture and religion for his story, especially the more volatile aspects of the Aztec religion. Sacrifice and violence play an important role in this book. In a way he has incorporated a coming-of-age element into this story of melded worlds of fantasy, magic, mythology and even historical fiction. I wonder how much bolder the sequel will be.

Buy The Fire Priest (Pawns of the Gods #1) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble, Indiebound, BookDepository.

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below to win a copy of The Fire Priest by Stephen Murdoch

Click here to Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions – This giveaway is for 3 winners choice of one print or ebook copy of the book, open worldwide. This giveaway ends May 10, 2019, midnight pacific time. Entries are accepted via Rafflecopter only.*

#SocialMediaBlast The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary

It’s Hardcover Publication Day! And it’s also a pleasure to take part in the social media blast for The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary. It’s a witty contemporary rom-com with endearing characters and a compelling plot.

About the Author

Beth studied English at university before going into children’s publishing. She lives as close to the countryside as she can get while still being within reach of London, and wrote her first novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from work.

You’ll usually find her curled up with a book, a cup of tea, and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather).

Follow @OLearyBeth @QuercusBooks on Twitter, on Instagram, on Goodreads, Visit theflatshare.co.uk

Buy The Flat ShareAbout the book

Tiffy Moore and Leon Twomey each have a problem and need a quick fix. Tiffy’s been dumped by her cheating boyfriend and urgently needs a new flat. But earning minimum wage at a quirky publishing house means that her choices are limited in London.

Leon, a palliative care nurse, is more concerned with other people’s welfare than his own. Along with working night shifts looking after the terminally ill, his sole focus is on raising money to fight his brother’s unfair imprisonment.

Leon has a flat that he only uses 9 to 5. Tiffy works 9 to 5 and needs a place to sleep. The solution to their problems? To share a bed of course…

As Leon and Tiffy’s unusual arrangement becomes a reality, they start to connect through Post-It notes left for each other around the flat.

Can true love blossom even in the unlikeliest of situations? Can true love blossom even if you never see one another? Or does true love blossom when you are least expecting it?

Review

This book surprised me. It has the kind of charm that makes it memorable. The main character, Tiffy, is a kind of anti-Eleanor Oliphant and yet at the same time in a way a part of her is an Eleanor. This book has the same kind of quaint je ne sais quoi. An indescribable element which draws readers in.

Tiffy is looking for a place to live and Leon is looking for a flat mate. Neither of them have a lot of choice, which is how they end up coming up with a strange living arrangement. Sharing the same bed, but never at the same time – sounds like a really bizarre way to share a living space.

Leon’s girlfriend, yes he has a girlfriend, just has one rule. Never the twain shall meet. Tiffy and Leon must never be in the flat at the same time.

This is how the most entertaining part of the story evolves, as the two of them inadvertently become involved in each others lives and build a friendship without ever meeting each other. The fine lines of friendship are woven through communication, common concerns and an instantaneous emotional connection.

The other aspect of this book is how Tiffy slowly comes to the realisation that her relationship with her ex might have been anything but perfect. It’s interesting, albeit perhaps not what friends would do, how they are all invested in Tiffy making the connections herself. She isn’t swayed or convinced by anyone, she just starts to see events, actions and remarks in a different light.

The flashbacks she experiences are the beginning of an epiphany. Instead of remembering the loving boyfriend she suddenly feels different emotions. Fear, apprehension and the feeling of being manipulated. Is this because she wants to hate him for leaving her and for cheating? Or is there something more nefarious going on?

It’s a witty contemporary rom-com with endearing characters and a compelling plot. O’Leary brings humour, emotional turmoil and intense relationships to the table, she also weaves more serious topics into the story.

How easy it is to be controlled and abused without realising it and how some people can suck the life out of their partners with their sheer selfishness. Simultaneously it’s also about the fragile bridges of love and romance that can be built over distance and time without any physical interaction at all. It’s a really lovely read.

Buy The Flat Share on Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Quercus; pub date 18 April 2019. Buy at Amazon com. at Waterstones.

#BlogTour The Start of Something Wonderful by Jane Lambert

It’s my turn on the Audiobook Blog Tour for The Star of Something Wonderful by Jane Lambert. It’s contemporary and women’s fiction. It’s all about taking charge in life and reaching out to grab your dreams.About the Author

Jane taught English in Vienna then travelled the world as cabin crew, before making the life-changing decision to become an actor and voiceover artist in her mid-thirties. She has appeared in “Calendar Girls”, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time”, “Deathtrap”,  and most recently “True West” in London’s West End.  She has recorded audiobooks for BBC AudioGo, Isis Publishing and HarperCollins. She is currently adapting “The Start of Something Wonderful” into a 6-part comedy drama for TV.

Follow @JaneLambert22 @HQDigitalUK on Twitter,

Buy The Start of Something Wonderful

About the book

It’s never too late to follow your dreams….

Forty-year-old air stewardess Emily Forsyth thought she had everything a woman could wish for: a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, a designer wardrobe and a dishy pilot boyfriend. Until he breaks up with her…

Catapulted into a midlife crisis she wishes she’d had earlier, she decides to turn her life upside down, quitting her job and instead beginning to chase her long-held dreams of becoming an actress! Leaving the skies behind her, Emily heads for the bright lights of London’s West End – but is it too late to reach for the stars?Review

When her boyfriend breaks up with her, Emily decides it’s time to change her entire life. She decides to try and achieve a dream of hers that she tucked away a long time ago. Now, in the midst of a midlife crisis of sorts she changes her entire life to chase that dream again.

It isn’t exactly an easy dream either, becoming an actress, especially when it’s harder to get into the business the older you are. Well, perhaps more of a problem for women that is. What follows are quite a few difficult, ironic and entertaining situations, as Emily fights for what she really wants.

I actually bought the ecopy of this after listening to the audiobook. I wanted to compare the written version and the audio version.

The author actually narrates the book herself, which isn’t as common as one would imagine. What I can say unequivocally is that Lambert gives the audiobook an entirely different feel to it, as opposed to the written words.

It’s upbeat, witty, fast, quirky, breathless and some kind of wonderful. If I am being entirely honest I think Lambert infuses the audio version with all the emotions and expectations she wants her readers to experience with the story, whereas the written version can seem a little more downbeat at times. I would certainly recommend picking up the audiobook to hear the character of Emily as Jane imagines her to be and not just read about her.

Apparently Lambert is adapting this book into a six part comedy drama for television. I can absolutely see that being a hoot, because Emily is the kind of character who is inadvertently amusing and very snarky. The premise will work well on the screen.

It’s contemporary and women’s fiction. It’s all about taking charge in life and reaching out to grab your dreams.

Buy The Start of Something Wonderful – Audiobook at Amazon Uk or Ecopy, or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited and HQ Digital. Buy the Audiobook at Amazon com.

#BlogTour Pilgrim by Loiuse Hall

Today it’s the BlogTour Pilgrim by Louise Hall. It’s contemporary fiction with spiritual, theological and addiction issues woven into the fabric of the story.About the Author

Louise Hall is from Malahide, Co. Dublin. She has previously published two works of non-fiction, Medjugorje: What it Means to Me and Medjugorje and Me: A Collection of Stories from Across the World. Her fiction has been published in The Irish Times and been shortlisted for numerous competitions, such as the RTÉ Guide/Penguin Short Story Award, the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Competition and the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards. Pilgrim is her debut novel.

Follow @LouHallWriter on Twitter, on Instagram, Visit louisehall.ie

Buy Pilgrim

pilgrim2444

About the book

In Dublin, fourteen-year-old Jen and her father, Charlie, are struggling to cope with the death of their mother/wife. Charlie, in particular, seems to have given up on life. When Jen’s aunt, Suzanne, convinces them to go on a pilgrimage to a strange village in Yugoslavia, there is hope that some solace or healing may be brought to their broken lives.

On their arrival, however, they find a village in upheaval. An influx of pilgrims have swarmed into the village, each looking for their own miracle. Then there are the local police, who aim to suppress this so-called `revolution’. Amid all this, Jen makes a friend, Iva – one of the children who claims to have seen the Virgin Mary.

Told with a deep humanity and grace, Pilgrim is a story about a man who feels he has nothing to live for, and a daughter who is determined to prove him wrong. A nuanced and moving exploration of grief and faith. Unique subject matter based around the famed Medjugorje apparitions. The author already has a dedicated readership built up from her two non-fiction books on Medjugorje. This is her first fictional take on the story.Review

The majority of the book is based upon the Medjugorje apparitions. Medjugorje is a small village in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The area is now known as Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1981 six Herzegovinian children claimed to see the ‘Gospa’ (which is Croatian for lady), when they returned to the same place the next day they saw her again. This time she spoke to them.

All of the above is based on a true story.

The fictional family in this story travels to the village on a pilgrimage. The father thinks it is a bunch of rubbish, but for the young daughter, Jen, it is a glimmer of light in a life filled with fog. After the death of her mother she is struggling to be seen by her father, a man who is drowning in grief. He can do nothing other than wallow in his loss.

Humans like miracles, especially people who find comfort and security in religion and faith. They flock to places that purport to see and experience connections to God. Often in the hope they will experience their own miracle or enlightenment. It’s certainly an interesting phenomenon.

The Yugoslav wars are only hinted upon, aside from the mention of militia and the chapter on the priest in prison. The author doesn’t really go into the atrocities, mass murder, rapes and genocide. I think that was done intentionally, so the focus would be on faith and grief.

For me this was all about how we are linked and connected without knowing it, especially when we live in the same geographical areas. Without being aware of it we are all dominoes on a global stage and when one of us topples we inadvertently touch or hit the next person in the row. It’s also about coping with grief, with loss and trying to reconnect as a family.

It’s contemporary fiction with spiritual, theological and addiction issues woven into the fabric of the story.

Buy Pilgrim at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: The Mercier Press Ltd (14 Sept. 2018)