[BLOG TOUR: EXTRACT] Three Days in Florence by Chrissie Manby #ThreeDaysinFlorence @HodderBooks

I’m very pleased to share an extract of Chrissie Manby’s Three Days in Florence with you today!

SYNOPSIS:

When a mini-break becomes make or break…

Kathy Courage has never visited the famous Italian city of Florence before, so she’s thrilled when she and her boyfriend Neil are invited there for a wedding. Unfortunately, with Neil’s constant complaining and his teenage children in tow, it’s not exactly the romantic break Kathy was hoping for.

But when a mix-up with her flights leaves Kathy stranded in the city, she decides to embrace the unexpected and stay on alone.

What follows is a life-changing few days in the Tuscan sun, as Kathy begins to question the choices that have led her here. With the help of the colourful Innocenti family, who offer Kathy a place to stay, she gradually begins to realise that there’s a much bigger world out there, if only she can be brave enough to explore it.

Could Italy hold the answers to her future happiness? Or is Kathy destined to return to her old life?

BOOK EXTRACT

Thoughts?

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Add ‘Three Days in Florence‘ to your TBR: 

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Chrissie Manby is the author of twenty five romantic comedies including A PROPER FAMILY HOLIDAY, THE MATCHBREAKER and SEVEN SUNNY DAYS. She has had several Sunday Times bestsellers and her novel about behaving badly after a break-up, GETTING OVER MR RIGHT, was nominated for the 2011 Melissa Nathan Award. Chrissie was raised in Gloucester, in the west of England, and now lives in London. Contrary to the popular conception of chick-lit writers, she is such a bad home-baker that her own father threatened to put her last creation on http://www.cakewrecks.com. She is, however, partial to white wine and shoes she can’t walk in. You can follow her on Twitter @chrissiemanby, or visit her website http://www.chrissiemanby.co.uk to find out more.

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[BLOG TOUR: EXTRACT] Careless Whisper by T.S. Hunter @TSHunter5 @RedDogTweets #SohoNoir

I’m so excited to share an extract of T.S. Hunter’s new Soho Noir thriller – Careless Whisper – as part of my blog tour stop with you all!

SYNOPSIS:

LOOSE LIPS COST LIVES.

It’s 1986, and Adam Cave, lead singer of the pop sensation Loose Lips, is struggling to stay in the closet, especially as his group is going through a messy split, and media speculation about the reasons behind it are high.

Joe Stone is assigned to Adam as a runner for the behind-the-scenes, warts and all expose of the recording of the bands last album, and an unlikely friendship begins to form.

But when Adam’s manager, Jack Eddy, is found dead in Adam’s hotel room, in what looks like a sex game gone wrong, Joe turns to his flatmate, Russell, to help him clear the pop star’s name, and keep his secret.

Russell, meanwhile, has a secret of his own. He’s just been for a test, the results of which may change his life forever

BOOK EXTRACT

Thoughts?

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Add ‘Careless Whisper‘ to your TBR: 

*Purchase ‘ Careless Whisper‘ here:

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

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

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

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

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

Find him on: Goodreads and Twitter.

[BLOG TOUR: EXTRACT] Wanderers by Chuck Wendig @ChuckWendig @RebellionPub @Tr4cyF3nt0n #TheWanderers

I’m so excited to share an excerpt from Wanderers by Chuck Wendig with you all! Ahh! I am so in love with it so far and I cannot wait to share my review with you soon as well! Thank you so much to Tracy Fenton at CompulsiveReaders for organising the blog tour!

BOOK EXTRACT

1

The First Sleepwalker

Last night’s amateur astronomers got a treat in the form of clear skies, a new moon, and Comet Sakamoto. The last three Great Comets were Lovejoy in 2011, McNaught in 2007, and the famous—­or infamous?—­Hale-­Bopp in 1997, which of course spawned the Heaven’s Gate cult, whose members committed mass suicide in the belief it would allow them to hitch a ride with an extraterrestrial spaceship following that comet. You’re listening to Tom Stonekettle of Stonekettle Radio, 970 BRG.

—­Stonekettle Radio Show, 970AM WBRG, Pittsburgh

June 3

Maker’s Bell, Pennsylvania

Shana stood there looking at her little sister’s empty bed, and her first thought was: Nessie ran away again.

She called to her a few times. Honestly, after Nessie had stayed up late last night to watch the comet through Dad’s shitty telescope, Shana figured the younger girl would still be in bed, snoring up little earthquakes. She wasn’t sure where the hell else Nessie could be—­Shana had been up for an hour already, making their lunches, finishing the laundry, putting the trash and recycling together so she could haul it up the long driveway for tomorrow’s pickup. So she knew Nessie wasn’t in the kitchen. Maybe she was in the upstairs bathroom.

“Nessie?” She paused. Listened. “Nessie, c’mon.”

But nothing.

Again the thought: Nessie ran away again.

It didn’t make much sense. First time Nessie ran away, that made sense. They’d just lost their mother—­lost her in a very literal way. The four of them went to the grocery store, and only three of them came back. They feared Mom had been taken and hurt, but eventually security cameras from the Giant Eagle showed that nobody kidnapped her; she strolled out the automatic doors like nothing was wrong and then walked out of their lives
for good. Mom became a big question mark stuck in their cheeks like a fishhook.

But it was clear that their mother didn’t want to be a part of their lives anymore. That, Shana knew even then, had been a long time coming, but the realization did not hit Nessie—­and still had not reached her, even now. Nessie believed then that it was Dad’s fault. And maybe Shana’s, too. So two years ago almost to the day, after school was done for the year, Nessie packed a backpack full of canned goods and bottled water (plus a couple of candy bars), and ran away.

They found Nessie four hours later at the wooden bus shelter on Granger, hiding from a sudden rain squall. Shivering like a stray puppy. When Dad picked her up she kicked and thrashed, and it was like watching a wrestler try to pin a tornado. But then he gave up, said to her, “You want to run away, you run away, but if you’re thinking of going after your mother, I don’t think she wants to be found.”

It was like watching a glass of water tip in slow motion. Nessie collapsed in his arms and wept so hard she could only catch her breath in these keening, air-­sucking hitches. Her shoulders shook and she pressed both hands under her armpits as if hugging herself. They got her home. She slept for two days and then, slowly but surely, came back to life.

That was two years ago.

Today, though, Shana could not figure out why Nessie would want to run away again. Girl was fifteen now and hadn’t hit the wall like Shana had at that age—­as Dad put it, Shana “went full teenager.” Mopey and mad and hormones like a kicking horse. Shana was almost eighteen, now. She was better these days. Mostly.

Nessie was still all right, hadn’t turned into a werewolf. Still happy. Still optimistic. Eyes bright like new nickels. She had a little notebook, in which she wrote all the things she wanted to do (scuba dive with sharks, study bats, knit her own slippers like Mom-­Mom used to do), all the places she wanted to go (Edinburgh, Tibet, San Diego), all the people she wanted to meet (the president, an astronaut, her future husband). She said to Shana one day, “I heard that if you complain it reprograms your brain like a computer virus and it just makes you more and more unhappy, so I’m going to stay positive because I bet the opposite is true, too.”

That notebook sat there on her empty bed. Next to the bed was an open box—­Nessie had gotten some package in the mail, some science thing she must’ve ordered. (Shana borrowed a part of it, a little test tube, to hold weed.) Her daffodil-­yellow sheets looked rumpled and slept-­in. Her pink pillow still showed her head-­dent.

Shana peeked at the notebook. Nessie had started a new list: jobs i might like?? Included: zookeeper, beekeeper, alpaca farmer, photographer. Photographer? Shana thought. That’s my bag. A weird flare of anger lanced through her. Nessie was good at everything. If she decided to do the thing that Shana wanted to do, she’d do it better and that would suck and they’d hate each other forever. (Well, no. Shana would hate Nessie. Nessie would love her unconditionally because that was Nessie.)

Shana called out for her again. “Ness? Nessie?” Her voice echoed and nothing but the echo answered. Shit.

Dad was probably already in the so-­called milking parlor (he said if they’re going to be part of the artisanal cheese movement here in Pennsylvania they needed to start talking like it, damnit), and he would be expecting Ness and Shana to staff the little shop up by the road. Then eventually he’d come get one of them to head into the cheese barn to check the curds on that Gouda or get the blues draining—­then mix the silage and feed the cows and ah, hell, the vet was coming today to look at poor Belinda’s red, crusty udders and—­

Maybe that’s why Nessie ran away. School was out already and summer vacation wasn’t much of one: Everything was work, work, work. (Shana wondered if Nessie had the right idea. She could run away, too. Even for the day. Call up her buddy Zig in his Honda, smoke some weed, read comic books, talk shit about the seniors who just graduated . . .)

(God, she had to get out of here.)

(If she didn’t get out of here soon, she’d stay here forever. This place felt like quicksand.)

Of course, Nessie was too good a girl to have run away again, so maybe she got the jump on Shana and was already out in the shop. Little worker bee, that one. What was the song on Dad’s old REM album? “Shiny Happy People”? That was Nessie.

Shana’d already eaten, so she went in search of the little clip-­on macro lens she used over her phone’s camera to let her take photos of things real close-­up, magnified. Little worlds revealed, the micro made macro. She didn’t have a proper camera, but she was saving up to get a DSLR one day. In the meantime, that meant using the phone. Maybe she’d find something in the stable or in the cheesemaking room that would look cool up close: flaking rust, the red needle in the thermometer, the bubbles or crystals in the cheese itself.

It hit her where she’d left the lens last time—­she was taking pictures of a house spider hanging in her window, and she left the lens on the sill. So she went there to grab it—­

Something outside caught her eye. Movement up the driveway. One of the cows loose was her first thought.

Shana headed to the window.

Someone was out there, walking.

No. Not someone.

Little dum-­dum was halfway up the driveway in her PJ pants and pink T-­shirt. Barefoot, too, by the look of it. Oh, what the hell, Nessie?

Shana ran to the kitchen, forgetting her lens. She hurriedly popped on her sneakers and ran out the door to the back porch, nearly tripping on the one sneaker that wasn’t all the way on yet, but she quick smashed her heel down into the shoe and kept on running.

She thought to yell to her little sister, but decided against it. No need to draw Dad’s attention. He’d see they weren’t out in the shop yet and give them a ration of hot shit about it, and Shana didn’t want to hear it. This was not a morning for nonsense, and already the nonsense was mounting.

Instead she ran up along the driveway, the red gravel crunching underneath her sneaks. The Holsteins on the left bleated and mooed. A young calf—­she thought it was Moo Radley—­stood there on knock-­knees watching her hurry to catch up to her tweedledum sister. “Nessie,” she hissed. “Nessie, hey!”

But Nessie didn’t turn around. She just kept on walking.

What a little asshole.

Shana jogged up ahead of her and planted her feet like roots.

“God, Nessie, what the hell are you—­”

It was then she saw the girl’s eyes. They were open. Her sister’s gaze stood fixed at nothing, like she was looking through Shana or staring around her.

Dead eyes, dead like the flat tops of fat nails. Gone was the luster of wonder, that spark.

Barefoot, Nessie continued on. Shana didn’t know what to do—­move out of her way? Stand planted like a telephone pole? Her indecision forced her to do a little of both—­she shifted left just a little, but still in her sister’s inevitable path.

The girl’s shoulder clipped her hard. Shana staggered left, taking the hit. The laugh that came up out of her was one of surprise. It was a pissed-­off laugh, a bark of incredulity.

“That hurt, dummy,” she said, and then grabbed for the girl’s shoulder and shook her.

Nothing. Nessie just pulled away and kept going.

“Nessie. Nessie.”

Shana waved her hand in front of Nessie’s eyes. Wave, wave, wave. She had the thought then, a stray thought she pretended could be true even though she knew deep down it couldn’t be, She’s just playing a joke on me. Even though Shana was the prankster and Nessie’s only real joke was a cabinet of knock-­knock jokes so bad it made their bad-­joke-­loving father wince. Still, just in case, she took her finger and poked Nessie’s nose as if it were a button.

“Boop,” she said. “Power down, little robot.”

Nessie registered nothing. Didn’t even blink.

Had she blinked the whole time? Shana didn’t think so.

Then she saw, ahead, a big rain puddle. She warned her sister: “Nessie, watch out, there’s a—­”

Too late. Nessie plodded right through it. Splish. Splash. Feet in the water almost up to the ankles. Still going and going. Like a windup toy set to beeline in one direction.

Still staring ahead.

Still moving forward.

Arms stiff by her sides. Her gait sure and steady.

Something’s wrong.

The thought hit Shana in the heart like a fist. Her guts went cold, her blood to slush. She couldn’t hold back the chills. But she tried anyway and said to herself, Maybe she’s just sleepwalking. That’s probably what this is. Okay, no, Nessie had never done that before, but maybe this was how her brain chose to handle those hormones running through her like a pack of racehorses right now.

The question was: Go get Dad?

Ahead, the end of their driveway stretched out. There, the cheese and dairy shop made to look like a little red barn. There, the mailbox made to also look like a little barn, this one blue (and with a cow silhouette cut out of tin and stuck on top). And there, too, the road.

The road.

God, if Nessie walked to the road and a car came by . . .

She yelled for her dad. Screamed for him. “Dad! Dad!” But nothing. No response. He might’ve been out in the pasture or in the barn. Going to get him meant leaving Nessie alone . . .

In her head she could hear the make-­believe sound of a truck grille hitting her sister, knocking her forward. The crunch of bones under tires. The thought made her queasy.

I can’t get Dad. I’ll stay with her.

This can’t go on for long.

Sleepwalkers eventually wake up.

Don’t they?

Thoughts?

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Add ‘Wanderers‘ to your TBR: 

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Chuck Wendig is a novelist, a screenwriter, and a freelance penmonkey.
He has contributed over two million words to the roleplaying game industry, and was the developer of the popular Hunter: The Vigil game line (White Wolf Game Studios / CCP).
He, along with writing partner Lance Weiler, is a fellow of the Sundance Film Festival Screenwriter’s Lab (2010). Their short film, Pandemic, will show at the Sundance Film Festival 2011, and their feature film HiM is in development with producer Ted Hope.
Chuck’s novel Double Dead will be out in November, 2011.
He’s written too much. He should probably stop. Give him a wide berth, as he might be drunk and untrustworthy. He currently lives in the wilds of Pennsyltucky with a wonderful wife and two very stupid dogs. He is represented by Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Find him on: Website, Goodreads and Twitter.

[SOCIAL MEDIA BLAST: BOOK EXTRACT] The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary @QuercusBooks #TheFlatshare @OLearyBeth

Today is the publication day of The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary! As part of my social media tour stop I’m sharing the first chapter with you! Yay!

BOOK EXTRACT

This tour involves many book bloggers! Make sure to check them out!

Add ‘The Flatshare‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘The Flatshare‘ here:

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Beth O’Leary 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).
Find her on: Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.

[BLOG TOUR: BOOK REVIEW] A Good Enough Mother by Bev Thomas @FaberBooks @BevThomas20

A Good Enough Mother is Faber’s lead debut which comes out on 4th April. When I got the blog tour invite I jumped right in because after reading that synopsis I couldn’t resist! It ticks all the boxes when it comes to a book for me.

What’s it about? A Good Enough Mother follows Dr. Ruth Hartland who is a director in a well-known trauma unit. Ruth’s job consists of seeing different patients and helping them through their traumas and she’s quite a good therapist. Our main character Ruth has a few issues of her own – her son Tom disappeared without a word and that is something that haunts her daily [understandably so]. On one particular day Ruth is assigned a new case, a boy called Dan Griffin who resembles her son a lot. This is where the line between professional and personal intertwine. Ruth, who has years of experience in her practice knows what is to be done in these scenarios but something in her is stopping her from doing the right thing. She cannot get the likeness out of her head and so she begins treating him. Was that the right choice or the greatest mistake? Well, you have to read the book to find out..

Whenever I come across a book where our main character is a therapist or someone in the field of mental health I immediately add it to my TBR because I can’t resist those books. I love finding out about human psyche and what influences most of our behaviour. The author of this book, Bev Thomas, was a clinical psychologist who worked for the NHS and who’s now a consultant when it comes to mental health. I love how her knowledge as well as many years of practice influenced the book and she even mentioned Winnicotts theory of ‘Good Enough Parent/Mother’ which I wasn’t familiar with before. The characters in the book were well crafted and Ruth’s character had a lot of flaws which made her relatable. Now, when it comes to Ruth’s decisions I wanted to yell at her a few times but I have to take into account that she has went through hell with Tom’s disappearance and that’s something very very stressful and can cloud someone’s judgement. I did find issues with a few of her decisions that I couldn’t credit to her trauma and I seriously wanted to shout ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOOOING!!? NOO!’. The book is very readable and it has a nice pace so you can actually fly through it and experience a lot of emotions. Did I feel for Dan? No, I didn’t. I just didn’t like him as a character although I understood Ruth’s ‘pull’ towards him. This book doesn’t jump straight into the action so if you’re someone who wants a fast-paced read you won’t find it here [although the end is wild]. It’s a slow burner which I enjoyed and I especially loved finding out about Ruth’s job and what she did. Although I didn’t like Ruth’s decisions I enjoyed this book a lot and the last few pages were quite hopeful  which was a bonus for me.

A Good Enough Mother is an interesting look into a life of a therapist who while battlng her own demons tries her best to help her patients and a good study of what happens when personal and professional  lives mix.

I would like to thank the publisher Faber & Faber for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got this book from the publisher.

My rating:

Make sure to follow other bloggers on this tour!

Add ‘A Good Enough Mother‘ to your TBR:  

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Bev Thomas was a clinical psychologist in the NHS for many years. She currently works as an organisational consultant in mental health and other services.  She lives in London with her family.

Her upcoming novel A Good Enough Mother will be published by Faber & Faber in Spring 2019.

Find her on: Goodreads and Twitter

[BLOG TOUR: BOOK EXTRACT] She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge @MichaelJBooks

Today is my stop on the She Lies in Wait blog tour! I am delighted to share the first chapter with you! Let me know your thoughts on it below!

BOOK EXTRACT

Thanks for visiting! Make sure to follow other book bloggers on this tour!

Add ‘She Lies in Wait‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘She Lies in Wait‘ here:

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Gytha Lodge is a multi-award-winning playwright, novelist and writer for video games and screen. She is also a single parent who blogs about the ridiculousness of bringing up a mega-nerd small boy. She has a profound addiction to tea, crosswords and awful puns. When not writing, she heads up a copywriting team at a global translation firm, where she generally tries to keep all the video-game writing to herself. She studied English at Cambridge, where she became known quite quickly for her brand of twisty, dark yet entertaining drama. She later took the Creative Writing MA at UEA. She has signed with Penguin Random House worldwide for the first three books in her crime series featuring DCI Jonah Sheens

Find her on: Goodreads and Twitter

[BLOG TOUR: BOOK REVIEW] Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson @FaberBooks @PeterSwanson3

Whenever I see a new Peter Swanson book coming out I immediately get excited. Swanson is that author you just love and whose writing pulls you in – he’s seriously one of my favourite thriller writers ever. When I saw that he had a new book coming out I got so excited! When I see a Swanson book I just get so excited because his books are something I love getting lost in.

Before She Knew Him follows Hen who moves in with her husband Lloyd to a new home. One night at a neighbourhood party Hen and Lloyd meet Matthew and Mira Dolamore, a couple with who they can most relate since they’re the only childless couple in the neighbourhood. Both couples agreed to meet up one night for dinner at the Dolamores so they can get to know each other better. While staying at dinner Hen gets a tour of the house from Mira and sees something that shocks her – a fencing trophy. She immediately gets chills because it can’t be! From this point on Hen starts suspecting that Matthew – a seemingly normal professor – is hiding a dark secret. Hen tells her concerns to her husband who dimisses this insane thought but she isn’t sure she’s being irrational in this situation. Hen begins getting interested in Dolamores more and more and this obsession will spark up an unusual bond with Matthew.

Before She Knew Him is out now in both US and UK! Swanson has a way of engaging the reader when it comes to his books. I have to say that of all the works I’ve read by him nothing can top The Kind Worth Killing which amazed me and made me fall in love with Swanson.

Before She Knew Him is such a fast-paced book and I loved spending every hour and every minute reading it. The characters in it have depth and even the side-characters are given a voice which I found to be excellent when it came to this story. I love how Swanson created Hen who even though has mental health problems still stays true to what she believes and doesn’t let it stop her from finding out the truth. The Dolamores as characters were amazing especially Matthew whose mind was so complex. When it comes to the plot I just loved it – especially the last twenty pages which had me gasping! Now, since I’m on the subject of the ending I kind of felt that it was rushed and would’ve loved that it was more thought-out because the whole idea was so amazing but cut abruptly. Something I love about Swanson is the Hitchcock-ian feel that he adds to his stories and this one had that as well – I mean that twist at the end! As I’ve mentioned, the characters are something I loved finding out more about and Swanson did that perfectly [getting into their psyche] but the ending felt a bit rushed for my taste. Although I had an issue with the ending of this book I still found it thoroughly enjoyable and something I would definitely recommend you pick up if you’re a fan of brilliant psychological thrillers!

I would like to thank the publisher Faber&Faber for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and weren’t influenced by the fact that I got this book for free from the publisher.

My rating:

Add ‘Before She Knew Him‘ to your TBR:  

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Peter Swanson is the author of four novels: The Girl With a Clock For a Heart, an LA Times Book Award finalist; The Kind Worth Killing, winner of the New England Society Book Award, and finalist for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger; Her Every Fear, an NPR book of the year; and his most recent, All the Beautiful Lies. His books have been translated into 30 languages, and his stories, poetry, and features have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly, Measure, The Guardian, The Strand Magazine, and Yankee Magazine. A graduate of Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Emerson College, he lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

Find him on: Website, Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter.

[BLOG TOUR: GUEST POST] The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond #TheGoldenOrphans @GaryRaymond_ @parthianbooks

Today is my stop at the blog tour for The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond and I’m excited to share a guest post with you! Thank you very much to Emma (@damppebbles) for inviting me to join the blog tour as well as a huge thank you to the author for taking the time to write a guest post for Breathing Through Pages.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Within the dark heart of an abandoned city, on an island once torn by betrayal and war, lies a terrible secret…

Francis Benthem is a successful artist; he’s created a new life on an island in the sun. He works all night, painting the dreams of his mysterious Russian benefactor, Illy Prostakov. He writes letters to old friends and students back in cold, far away London. But now Francis Benthem is found dead. The funeral is planned and his old friend from art school arrives to finish what Benthem had started. The painting of dreams on a faraway island. But you can also paint nightmares and Illy has secrets of his own that are not ready for the light. Of promises made and broken, betrayal and murder…

The Golden Orphans offers a new twist on the literary thriller.

Published by Parthian Books on 30th June 2018

GUEST POST

Gary Raymond explores how he turned his own experiences in Cyprus into a fast-paced literary thriller.

My latest novel, The Golden Orphans (Parthian Books), is a fast-paced literary thriller, about a seen-better-days artist who finds himself getting mixed up in the very strange world of a Russian gangster when he goes to attend the funeral of his former mentor on the island of Cyprus. It’s a dark, peculiar story, in which I consciously evoke some of my favourite writers, like Patricia Highsmith, Dorothy Hughes, and particularly Graham Greene. To some extent it’s a genre novel, but then again it shares a lot in common with my earlier work. But whatever it is, The Golden Orphans, is my best piece of fiction, and certainly marks a bit of a watershed moment for me. Let me tell you why I think that is.

For some writers, it’s easier to write about things outside of your own story than it is to draw on autobiography. For some of us, there is such a thing as being too close to home. My new novel, The Golden Orphans, was me finding a way to explore my own experiences. I lived in Cyprus, where the novel is set, for a short while in the mid-00s, and for a decade or so I had never considered using that time as the basis for a book. It sounds counter-intuitive; by I was interested in writing about things beyond my experience. But there came a time, pushed by my publishers, where my Cypriot adventures began to move into a place in my mind where aspects would had a role to play in my fiction. When my publisher said, “Write about those people you met in Cyprus,” I was neck deep in the works and craft of Graham Greene, who was teaching me a thing or two about constructing fiction out of real life. Greene frequently used real people to populate his stories of intrigue, and the more I began to understand how – and why – he did it, the more I felt I had something to work with.

Looking back it sounds extremely naïve of me. Here I was with a stable of characters – gangsters, misfits, miscreants, tragic figures – at my disposal, and I had never really thought of using them. I see the writing of The Golden Orphans now as a major step in me becoming the writer I was destined to become. I found, when looking back at these characters, that I could construct a narrative that explored the themes that interest me in fiction, and yet have a thrilling page-turner at the same time. Writing The Golden Orphans was… shock horror… enormous fun to do, and I’m told that translates to the reading experience.

Almost every character in The Golden Orphans is based on a real person who I met during my time there. I have just given them a fictional story in which to roam about in. I have pushed many of them to the brink, given them different backgrounds, extreme motivations, but at the same time I have tried to retain that sense of oddness and mystery that I felt was integral to my time in Cyprus. Cyprus is, you see, a uniquely curious place; a place that attracts a certain kind of outcast – and I have no doubt I was one myself back then, in my mid-twenties at the time, looking for a role in life – struggling to become a writer without ever really believing I would become one. I was there working for a friend, who was himself a crook avoiding the attentions of some “business associates” back in England. It was through this friend that I was introduced to the underground of Cypriot society. And that Cypriot experience is one not easily described in a form such as this, but one that can be captured in fiction. Graham Greene of course mastered this kind of looking around corners in his novels – he did it with Cold War Europe, with Africa, Asia, Haiti and other places. After finishing the first draft of The Golden Orphans and sending it off to my publisher with mixed feelings about what I had produced, I found an essay on Greene by Christopher Hitchens (sitting the whole time on my bookshelf for 10 years or more, and never previously noticed), in which he begins by reminiscing a time when he was sat in a sweaty taverna in Nicosia, Cyprus’ capital, in 1974, just after the Turkish invasion, and looking around and wondering how on earth Graham Greene had never written a novel set there. So, in a very small way, I felt like I have maybe followed Greene’s hand, and put something out there that he may have approved of.

Again, thank you very much to Gary for taking the time to write a guest post for Breathing Through Pages.

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Gary Raymond

Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor and broadcaster. He is one of the founding editors of Wales Arts Review, and has been editor since 2014. He is the author of two novels, The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018) and For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015). He is a widely published critic and cultural commentator, and is the presenter of BBC Radio Wales’ The Review Show.

Find him on: Twitter and Goodreads.

[BLOG TOUR + GIVEAWAY] #RandomThingsTours Ladders to Heaven by Mike Shanahan @unbounders @annecater

Today is my stop on the Ladders to Heaven blog tour hosted by the amazing Anne Cater. Since today is the paperback publication day for LTD I am hosting a giveaway on Twitter and will also share it on Instagram so more people can enter. How to enter? Click on the link below About the Book.

ABOUT THE BOOK

They are trees of life and trees of knowledge. They are wish-fulfillers … rainforest royalty … more precious than gold. They are the fig trees, and they have affected humanity in profound but little-known ways. Ladders to Heaven tells their amazing story.

Fig trees fed our pre-human ancestors, influenced diverse cultures and played key roles in the dawn of civilisation. They feature in every major religion, starring alongside Adam and Eve, Krishna and Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad. This is no coincidence – fig trees are special. They evolved when giant dinosaurs still roamed and have been shaping our world ever since.

These trees intrigued Aristotle and amazed Alexander the Great. They were instrumental in Kenya’s struggle for independence and helped restore life after Krakatoa’s catastrophic eruption. Egypt’s Pharaohs hoped to meet fig trees in the afterlife and Queen Elizabeth II was asleep in one when she ascended the throne.
And all because 80 million years ago these trees cut a curious deal with some tiny wasps. Thanks to this deal, figs sustain more species of birds and mammals than any other trees, making them vital to rainforests. In a time of falling trees and rising temperatures, their story offers hope.

Ultimately, it’s a story about humanity’s relationship with nature. The story of the fig trees stretches back tens of millions of years, but it is as relevant to our future as it is to our past.

GIVEAWAY [CLOSED]:

The publisher has been kind enough to allow me to host a giveaway for a paperback copy of Ladders to Heaven. It will be UK only and you can enter by RT-ing this tweet.

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**I am in no way compensated by these sites. I am simply sharing it so people can find this book easier.

Mike Shanahan is a freelance writer with a doctorate in rainforest ecology. He has lived in a national park in Borneo, bred endangered penguins, investigated illegal bear farms, produced award-winning journalism and spent several weeks of his life at the annual United Nations climate change negotiations. He is interested in what people think about nature and our place in it. His writing includes work published by The Economist, Nature, The Ecologist and Ensia, and chapters of Dry: Life without Water (Harvard University Press); Climate Change and the Media (Peter Lang Publishing) and Culture and Climate Change: Narratives (Shed). He is the illustrator of Extraordinary Animals (Greenwood Publishing Group) and maintains a blog called Under the Banyan.

Find him on: BlogFacebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

(BLOG TOUR)[REVIEW] Kill For Me by Tom Wood @LittleBrownUK

When I was approached by a publicist from Little Brown UK to review this book I was thrilled because I haven’t read a thriller in a while and I was very excited to check Kill For Me and see how I’ll like it.

Victor is an assasin who gets hired by a variety of people to do the dirty work for them but what they don’t know is that Victor isn’t a regular assasin – he’s a highly intelligent and dangerous one. A war is taking place in Guatemala between two sisters who are drug lords. Both want to dominate the drug ‘scene’.  One of the sisters, Heloise, calls Victor and hires him to kill the other, Maria,  in order for her to rule the kingpin. From this point on we are taken on a whirlwind of events – from plotting a murder to Victor having another killer on his back. All of this takes place in Guatemala where every move has to be carefully calculated.

Kill For Me is the eighth book in the Victor the Assasin series by Tom Wood. I haven’t read the previous books in the series but can say with certainty that this book can be read as a standalone – you needn’t worry that you’ll miss something. Although at times there are a few events that reference past books a vast majority of it is very much new and it’s not confusing. Victor is such a interesting character and what makes him interesting is his profession – a killer you can hire to murder someone for you. It was very fun getting into the mind of this character and see how he operates as well as perceives the world and people around him. Victor is a very, very intelligent character and I assume that his past experiences gave him more insight into people and how they operate. He is manipulative, calculative, cunning and very dangerous. I seriously wouldn’t want to be his enemy!! What I found interesting in this book was the detail in it, the story was very complex and it gave the book life. At times there were other POVs which were great and gave more information to the reader. I rarely read these kinds of books but after this one I definitely need to read more of them! One thing I must say is that people might find Victor to be annoying, full of himself but that’s just who he is even though he did sound very pretentious at times.

I would recommend Kill For Me to every thriller/action genre reader because they won’t regret picking this book up. Tom Wood will take you on a thrilling rollercoaster of a ride into Guatemala and the dangers that lurk there.

I would like to thank the publisher Little Brown UK (Sphere) as well as Millie Seaward for sending a copy of this book my way in exchange for an honest review. All opinions written here are my own and are not influenced by anything.

My rating: 

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Add ‘Kill For Me‘ to your TBR: 

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Tom Wood is a full-time writer born in Burton-on-Trent, and who now lives in London. After a stint as freelance editor and film-maker, his first novel, The Hunter, was an instant bestseller and introduced readers to a genuine antihero, Victor, an assassin with a purely logical view on life and whose morals are deeply questionable. Tom is passionate about physical sport, being both a huge boxing fan and practising Krav Maga, which has seen him sustain a number of injuries. He has not, however, ever killed anyone.

Find him on: Website, Twitter and GoodReads.