[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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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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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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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.

[REVIEW] Enigma Variations by André Aciman @FaberBooks @aaciman

Aciman’s short story collection Enigma Variations title comes from Edward Elgar’s piece called Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma), Op. 36 (1898), better known as Enigma Variations. I wasn’t aware of this connection until I finished the book and googled the title. I’ve spent about 40 minutes listening to Elgar’s piece and I just love it! It’s so beautiful!

I honestly don’t wish to butcher the synopsis of this short story collection so I’ll post the synopsis I found on Goodreads: “From a youthful infatuation with a cabinet maker in a small Italian fishing village, to a passionate yet sporadic affair with a woman in New York, to an obsession with a man he meets at a tennis court, Enigma Variations charts one man’s path through the great loves of his life. Paul’s intense desires, losses and longings draw him closer, not to a defined orientation, but to an understanding that ‘heartache, like love, like low-grade fevers, like the longing to reach out and touch a hand across the table, is easy enough to live down’.” I feel like this synopsis sums up the book wonderfully and if I tried to do it I’d ruin its magic.

Enigma Variations consists of five short stories dealing with love, loss, infatuation and more. Aciman has the ability to masterfully showcase human emotion through words. In reading Call Me by Your Name  I’ve noticed that Aciman’s so skilled in entering the human psyche and making the reader infatuated with words they’re reading. Although his stories are often sad Aciman writes with such precision that it feels as if he’s softening the ‘blow’. I have to say that the first two stories were my favourite because I loved Aciman’s writing in them the most and the way he described the village as well as the tennis court were perfection to me! By reading this review you’ve probably guessed that I adore Aciman’s writing style and the way he has with words so I’ll bore you no more with that. If I dive deeper into the analysis of each story I feel like I’ll ruin it for future readers so I won’t be sharing anything further but I have to say that Enigma Variations was a phenomenal read where although each story has about 50 (or more) pages it contains everything that satisfies the reader – from wonderful writing to a brilliantly crafted main character.

Fans of Aciman will definitely enjoy reading this short story collection and even if you’re not familiar with Aciman, you’ll fall in love with his writing in Enigma Variations.

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

My rating: 

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André Aciman was born in Alexandria, Egypt and is an American memoirist, essayist, novelist, and scholar of seventeenth-century literature. He has also written many essays and reviews on Marcel Proust. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times, The Paris Review, The New Republic, Condé Nast Traveler as well as in many volumes of The Best American Essays. Aciman received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University, has taught at Princeton and Bard and is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at The CUNY Graduate Center. He is currently chair of the Ph. D. Program in Comparative Literature and founder and director of The Writers’ Institute at the Graduate Center.

Find him on:  Twitter and Goodreads

[BOOK REVIEW] The Rapture by Claire McGlasson #TheRapture @FaberBooks

Having read both Clare and Amanda’s amazing reviews of The Rapture by Claire McGlasson I knew that this book would be for me! Luckily, I got my copy from the wonderful publisher Faber&Faber and I have to say that I loved reading it!

The Rapture is a book revolving around The Panacea Society, an English cult which existed back in the 1920s, and one particular person called Dilys who’s a member of the cult. The cult was founded by Mabel Barltrop, better known as Octavia, who was self-proclaimed as the Daughter of God. The cult consists of mostly single ladies and Dilys is the youngest member in her mid twenties. One day she meets a woman named Grace and invites her to visit The Panacea Society and find out more about it. Grace soon becomes a new recruit and begins living in the Society as help. The friendship between Dilys and Grace becomes stronger and closer as time passes and while that is going on the Society begins to change. Each person has something to hide. Dilys, once a full-blown believer, now becomes suspicious as to how the Society actually works.

I read The Rapture in two sittings – it was captivating, interesting and compelling. The story being based on truth is quite interesting as well! I loved the atmosphere in the novel, the whole unease surrounding the cult. Dilys as a character was very interesting and I found her to be well-written because her psyche matched her actions. I also liked how the author included some queer aspects into the novel making it much more interesting to me! I really loved the descriptions of Dilys’ feelings for Grace. The Rapture being a book that surrounds around a cult felt very eeire and I was at times scared for Dilys and was anticipating her next actions. The story in itself included many revelations that I liked and gasped at some of them because I was not expecting that. The author addressing Octavia as Her in the book sent shivers down my spine because you could sense that Octavia is someone who’s in charge. The ending of the book left me feeling satisfied which I appreciated although I wouldn’t have predicted it’d end like that because in my mind I had something darker as the ending. There is no particular reason why I’m giving this book four out of five stars but it didn’t feel like a five star read although it was a great and compelling one.

The Rapture is a spine-chilling and fascinating book about a woman living a cult who slowly begins to find out that not everything is what it seems.

I would like to thank the publisher Faber&Faber for providing me with a review 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:

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Claire McGlasson is a journalist who works for ITV News Anglia and enjoys the variety of life on the road with a TV camera. Her role gives her access to high-profile interviewees, and takes her behind-the-scenes at places that she’d never ordinarily get to go. But the biggest privilege of her job is spending time with people at the very best, and very worst, times of their lives and helping them to tell their stories. She lives in Cambridgeshire with her favourite people – her husband, daughter and son.

Her first novel, THE RAPTURE, which is based on true events in an Edwardian women’s cult, was published by Faber in Spring 2019. McGlasson’s debut novel about a real-life cult, set in 1920s England, is being turned into a television series after Hillbilly Television optioned the rights.

Find her on: Goodreads and Twitter.

[BOOK REVIEW] Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov is a book I’ve wanted to read for quite some time but what pushed me to finally do it is My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell coming out to the book scene as well as Putney by Sofka Zinovieff because they are a response to Lolita. I wanted to know what was so controversial about Lolita and then I found out.

I think we all know what Lolita is about but if not here’s the skinny – an older man called Humbert Humbert becomes infatued by a twelve/thirteen year old girl called Dolores Haze or Lolita. From the moment he sets eyes on her on his tenants garden he becomes obsessed with her beauty. What happens later is that Humbert Humbert in his pursuit to win Lolita over does many many things which set a chain of events. I feel like that’s quite a good non-spoilery, if-you-wish-to-know-little-about-the-book description.

I won’t go into length with this review because there’s a lot to go through so I’ll just feature some key points that I found interesting. Before going in I honestly had no idea what to expect because I had in mind that since it was written in 1955 it wouldn’t be that controversial but I was wrong. Having read the book I now get why the public reacted to it the way they did – it is a very controversial subject to write about [especially at that time]. I didn’t expect certain scenes to be described with such precision and depth e.g. sexual parts. I found this book to be very well written and I love how Nabokov made the character of Humbert Humbert somewhat real in a sense that you can see that Humbert is a well-educated man whose actions are so wrong. I feel like if this book were written now it would cause a different sort of reaction because nowadays people don’t shy away from writing the goriest, darkest things. I found the first part of the book to be most compelling but the second part was something I found to be very dry and uninteresting in a way. This will sound weird but I expected more from the story in a way. The ending was something I found to be quite meh. What can one say in the end – it’s an interesting read but definitely not for everyone.

My rating:

Add ‘Lolita‘ 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.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin, was a Russian-American novelist. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist. He also made significant contributions to lepidoptery, and had a big interest in chess problems.

Nabokov’s Lolita (1955) is frequently cited as his most important novel, and is at any rate his most widely known one, exhibiting the love of intricate wordplay and descriptive detail that characterized all his works.

Lolita was ranked fourth in the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels; Pale Fire (1962) was ranked 53rd on the same list, and his memoir, Speak, Memory (1951), was listed eighth on the publisher’s list of the 20th century’s greatest nonfiction. He was also a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction seven times.

[BOOK REVIEW] Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin @TitanBooks #OtherWordsforSmoke

The synopsis for Other Words for Smoke reminded me of The Diviners by Libba Bray with its supernatural element. Having read the book, I can still say that it gave me The Diviners vibe which I loved!

Other Words for Smoke centers around two twins – Mae and Rossa – who spend two summers with their aunt Rita and her teenage ward Bevan in an unusual house. Having spent two summers in the house they’ve been looped in on its happenings. During their first summer with Rita and Bevan, Mae finds out that they’re witches who also have a talking cat… but that’s not all, evil lurks in this house in the form of a spirit that lurks behind the wallpaper called Sweet James. Sweet James has an effect on Bevan and he whispers things he can do for her but only if she brings him gifts. Mae begins to fall for Bevan, not knowing what secrets she holds, and Sweet James becomes intrigued by the new flesh that has come to the house.

Although I wouldn’t call this book amazing, I did find it very enjoyable and it offered me escape when life was hectic. I love how the author has gorgeous writing skills and certain scenes she created made me escape this world. The twin characters were great although annoying at times but that’s understandable since they’re almost-teenagers (if not already). The whole mystery surrounding Sweet James was so enjoyable to read and creepy as well! I loved reading about Bevan and the trance in which Sweet James put her in order to get his way. I found the storyline to end very abruptly because I wanted more from it – I wanted to be lost in it fully. I felt like certain parts ended abruptly which made me frustrated because I was enjoying them. I love how the author included an LGBTQ+ character to her story and made us experience that feeling of first love. The story in itself was very enjoyable for me and I really had a great time reading it.

Lovers of fantasy, magic, witchy kind of books will definitely devour this book!

I would like to thank the publisher Titan Books 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:

Add ‘Other Words for Smoke‘ 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.

Sarah Maria Griffin lives in Dublin, Ireland, in a small red brick house by the sea, with her husband and cat. She writes about monsters, growing up, and everything those two things have in common. Her first book, SPARE AND FOUND PARTS, is out now.
Find her on: Goodreads and Twitter

[Q&A with the author] In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids by Travis Rieder @TNREthx @HarperBooks

I’m very pleased to share a Q&A with Travis Rieder, the author of In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids which came out yesterday (18th of June; Harper Books). Let’s get to the Q&A!

Q&A with Travis Rieder

BTP: First of all, thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to answer a few questions of mine! As you already know, I’ve very much enjoyed reading In Pain and found it to be well-researched as well as written and engaging. I’ve come up with a few questions that I find to be interesting and may relate to the book as well as some general ones.

Q: Did you always know you were going to write a book (become a writer) or was it something that came spontaneously?

A: That’s a hard question. I’ve loved to write since I was a kid, and I always kind of daydreamed about having something I wrote read by the general public. I idolize good writers, and have longed to publish a trade book for years. As a scholar, though, I’m not exactly trained for that. I spent many (many!) years in graduate school learning precision and rigor in writing, which can often lead to prose that is, well, boring. So I’ve successfully published for years, but I still didn’t consider myself a writer.

After my motorcycle accident, I slowly came around to the idea of writing a popular book. I didn’t go straight there, though. I wrote a well-regarded scholarly article, and eventually pitched the book to an academic press. They told me that I really should find an agent and pitch to a trade press, because my story—which I wanted to use to push along some important lessons about pain and opioids—was compelling enough to warrant wider distribution. So I ended up giving it a try.

To be honest, though, I was totally unsure it would ever happen. It seemed too far and too foreign. I’m completely thrilled that I eventually found my way and am getting to share this book with a bigger audience than academic publishing affords.

Q: How long did it take you to write this book? Did you find anything particularly challenging while writing it?

A: In some sense, I began writing In Pain while still in the hospital. Family and friends told me to record what was happening—maybe for pragmatic reasons (remembering facts that might be necessary when dealing with insurance, for example) and maybe for therapeutic reasons (it would help me to process my trauma). I’m very glad they did, as both were true. I would have forgotten nearly everything if I hadn’t done the writing, as both drugs and trauma are very good for erasing memories. It also did make me feel better to put on paper how I saw the events unfolding; it gave me a sense of control.

So if you date it from the hospital, it took about three years. The most active period, though, after I found an agent and then once we sold the book to HarperCollins, lasted about 15 months.

Q: I’m interesting in the process of writing In Pain, did you write it every day or did you take breaks?

A: Related to my previous answer: there were lots of breaks in the beginning, when I didn’t know who I was writing for (or even whether I would ever be willing to publicly share my story). Once I knew that the book would happen, and then even more when I negotiated deadlines with the publisher, I tended to write on a schedule. During the school year, when I was teaching and mentoring my graduate students, I wrote about 3-4 days per week—always at night, typically after my daughter and partner went to bed. 9pm-12pm was the time slot when the vast majority of the book was drafted. During the summer, I wrote every weekday—still at night, but adding early morning writing if I could carve it out from my other research.

Q: How did you find the research process for In Pain? Was it fun and interesting?

A: I absolutely adored every aspect of writing a book. It’s the most satisfying thing I’ve done in my professional life. The writing of my story was profoundly therapeutic; I feel like I took this pain and suffering, pulled it out of myself, and locked it into the pages. Turning in the final revisions felt like saying goodbye to self-pity. And the research aspect was just delightful fun. I got to think of how best to tell stories about the ideas I wanted to convey, which is not how academic writing happens. I would run drafts past my agent or editor, and they’d constantly say, “Travis, you’re being an academic in this section.” Looking to where they pointed, I’d immediately understand, and go back to the drawing board. I loved this process of finding the best way to communicate a complex idea, and every time I got feedback, I felt like I got closer to really being a writer.

Q: While reading In Pain I stumbled upon something – when you write examples for certain situations you use ‘she’ while generally people use ‘he’ when they write something like the following: If he goes to the clinic to take meds…Was this something that was intentional?

A: Yup. It’s a habit from my feminist intellectual upbringing. There’s absolutely no reason to use ‘he’ exclusively except for an invisible cultural framework that allows ‘man’ to stand in for ‘human’. In the very near future, I expect it will be nearly universally acceptable to use ‘they’ as a non-gendered singular pronoun, and then I won’t have to make a point of using the feminine. But until then, if the rules of writing require picking a gender, I’ll choose to counter the backdrop of patriarchal influence.

Q: I’m sure there are people who will be left with wanting more after reading In Pain, could you recommend some books with a similar topic?

A: Absolutely! In no particular order, and on various themes that my book deals with: Beth Macy’s Dopesick, Sam Quinones’s Dreamland, Maia Szalavitz’s Unbroken Brain, Barry Meier’s Pain Killer, Carl Hart’s High Price, Johann Hari’s Chasing the Scream.

Q: What are some of your favourite books and what are you reading at the moment?

A: Favorite books—what a hard question! I’d have to say Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air, Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal (along with most anything else he writes), everything David Sedaris, and on the fiction side, every single one of Kurt Vonnegut’s books.

At the moment, I’m reading Lloyd I. Sederer’s The Addiction Solution, Jonathan Metzl’s Dying of Whiteness, David Wallace-Wells’s The Uninhabitable Earth, and Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. All very different books, and all good and interesting.

BTP: Thank you very much, Travis!

Travis: Thanks so much for reading and reviewing the book, and for inviting this Q&A—it’s been a real joy!

As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this post – Travis’ book came out yesterday and it’s such a fascinating and well-researched one! I will leave a link to my review of his book here.

Add ‘In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids‘ here:

*Purchase ‘In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids‘ with free international delivery here: 

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

Travis Rieder was born and raised in Indiana, after which he has slowly and steadily moved eastward. After completing his BA at Hanover College in southern Indiana, he moved to South Carolina to do an MA in philosophy. He then did a PhD in philosophy at Georgetown University before taking a faculty position at Johns Hopkins, where he currently teaches.

Travis’s writing is wide-ranging, but took a sharp turn in 2015 after a motorcycle accident and a traumatic experience with pain and pain management that resulted. Since that experience, he has worked to turn his intimate struggle with opioid painkillers into a research program and a mission to reduce harm from irresponsible prescribing. IN PAIN, published by HarperCollins in June 2019, combines his personal story with fascinating and disturbing facts about the history of pain and opioid use, the American healthcare system, and suggestions for how the tide can be turned on the interlocking epidemics of pain, opioids, and addiction.

Find him on: Website, Twitter and Goodreads.

[BOOK REVIEW] Naturally Tan: A Memoir by Tan France @tanfrance #NaturallyTan @EllieCrisp

Queer Eye is one of those shows you just adore watching and whilst watching you start falling in love with the cast. For me, Tan is the one I immediately fell in love and whose story I was interested in learning more about – and I got the chance to do that because of the awesome publisher! If you haven’t seen Queer Eye on Netflix yet then I highly recommend it because it’s so good and because of the brilliant cast –Tan, Antoni, Karamo, Bobby and Jonathan.

Naturally Tan is Tan France’s memoir where he tells us many stories – from his upbringing to him being cast as the fashion expert on QE. The UK hardcover is so gorgeous because underneath the jacket you also get illustrated Tan as well as on the inside of the book you get a lot of drawings [for each chapter] which are amazing!  In Naturally Tan, Tan talks about many things he’s gone through in his life – from racism to stardom. One thing I especially like is that Tan is someone who, when a situation asks for it, doesn’t shy away from telling it like it is – we get many instances where Tan speaks up described in the book e.g. Tan had to deal with an awful boss. Besides Tan’s life story we get some fashion advice from him as well as do’s and don’ts. Tan doesn’t shy away from talking about real issues e.g. racism where he [since he was a child] went through a lot of mental analysis on what to do, how to act when faced with racism. Whilst on the subject of race issues – Tan tells the reader that in his life he’s had twenty-four incidents where he had to stay longer at the airport to answer a few more questions such as when’s the last time you’ve visited Pakistan? when’s the last time you held a gun? [I’m paraphrasing these questions]. I’m glad that in his memoir Tan deals with those tough questions because they are issues still! This book made me feel so happy while reading because of many lovely stories Tan shared about his life. We also get more info on how the whole casting process of Queer Eye went and how Tan met Antoni, Bobby, Karamo and Jonathan! I also wanted more of Tan – more from his stories because I felt like some were very short and ended abruptly. I would’ve loved to know more about his childhood and him and his family [yes, he provides this information but I wish it was done more in-depth].

If you’re a Queer Eye and/or a Tan France fan then this is definitely a must read! I honestly think that every reader will find something interesting in this book. Some life lessons and a lot of lovely stories that will warm your heart! [I’m now obsessed with Tan and his husband – so cute!]

I would like to thank the publisher Virgin Books (Ebury Publishing-Penguin Random House UK) 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 a free copy from the publisher.

My rating:

Add ‘Naturally Tan: A Memoir‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘Naturally Tan: A Memoir‘ here:

*Purchase ‘Naturally Tan: A Memoir‘ with free international delivery here: 

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

Tan France has been a successful fashion designer behind-the-scenes for over 15 years, and now steps into the spotlight as the star of Emmy-winning makeover hit, and Netflix re-boot, Queer Eye. Surrounded by an all new cast, France is the witty wardrobe wiz leading the charge in the fashion department and is ready to make America fabulous again one makeover at a time. This experience is so much more than just new clothes to the British born fashion advisor however, it’s about real-life issues, changes and acceptance on all sides. The epitome of style and class, Tan is the creative mind behind successful brands including the popular ladies clothing lines Kingdom & State and Rachel Parcell, Inc. Prior to his personal success as a designer, he spent his summers working in his grandfather’s denim factory while he secretly enrolled in fashion college in preparation to start a new chapter as a fabulous design star.

Find him on: Website, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram.

[BLOG TOUR: Q&A] The Body in the Castle Well by Martin Walker #BodyInTheCastleWell @QuercusBooks @MillsReid11

I’m very pleased to share with you a Q&A with Martin Walker, the author of The Body in the Castle, the newest book in the Bruno, Chief of Police series!

SYNOPSIS:

A rich American art student is found dead at the bottom of a well in an ancient hilltop castle. The young woman, Claudia, had been working in the archives of an eminent French art historian, a crippled Resistance war hero, at his art-filled chateau.

As Claudia’s White House connections get the US Embassy and the FBI involved, Bruno traces the people and events that led to her death – or was it murder?

Bruno learns that Claudia had been trying to buy the chateau and art collection of her tutor, even while her researches led her to suspect that some of his attributions may have been forged. This takes Bruno down a trail that leads him from the ruins of Berlin in 1945, to France’s colonial war in Algeria.

The long arm of French history has reached out to find a new victim, but can Bruno identify the killer – and prove his case?

Q&A 

Q: How long did it take you to write this book and was the writing process hard compared to your previous works?

A: The first draft took about 4 months, after 2 or 3 months planning and research which is about the usual pattern. This was a little easier than most books because I knew the site of Limeuil so well.

Q: How often do you write?

A: Every day, either a wine column or or some other journalism and for the new cookbook or a non-Bruno novel. As a journalist most of my life I am accustomed to writing every day.

Q: Did you always know you were going to write a book (become a writer) or was it something that came spontaneously?

A: I already knew from childhood that I wanted to write. I used to follow my mum around the house reading out to her poems or little stories I had written.

Q: Do you relate to the main character Bruno?

A: I wish I could cook and play tennis as well as he does. But although he was inspired by my village policeman, who is also my tennis partner, Bruno is an invention but I always liked the idea of a friendly and helpful policemen who see himself as a good neighbour as well as a cop.

Q: I love the title The Body in the Castle Well – were there any alternatives or were you set on this title from the beginning?

A: I’m never good with titles so my UK editor chose it, my working title was ‘the girl in the castle well’.

Q: What are some of your favourite books and what are you reading at the moment?

A: I always love Sherlock Holmes and Maigret, I am currently reading Adam Roberts on Napoleon and Gegard Fayolle’s ‘Les Trentes Glorieuses’.

Q: Do you have a routine of writing at a certain time for a couple of hours or do you do it spontaneously?

A: Once I start writing a book I have to write 3 pages – or 1000 words – every day until I am done.

Q: What authors have influenced you and made you fall in love with reading and eventually writing books?

A: Conan Doyle, Chandler, le Carre, Carlyle, Dickens, Mailer, Saul Bellow and Trollope.

Thank you s much to Martin as well as the publisher for making this Q&A possible!

Make sure to follow other book bloggers on this blog tour!

Add ‘The Body in the Castle Well‘ to your TBR:  

*Purchase ‘The Body in the Castle Well‘ here:

*Purchase ‘The Body in the Castle Well‘ with free international delivery here: 

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

Martin Walker is the U.S. bureau chief for The Guardian (London), a regular commentator for CNN, and a columnist for newspapers in the United States, Europe, and Moscow. A published novelist and poet, he lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, the novelist Julia Watson, and their two daughters.

Find him on: Website and Goodreads.