Go Book Yourself is featured in #IrelandsBeautifulDrives eBook

09:26




Hello all. I wanted to share some exciting news with you all. My blog has been featured in the Ireland's Beautiful Drives eBook by Chill Insurance





Ireland is home to some of the most beautiful and breathtaking scenery in the world and in my opinion the best way to see it is to just hop in car and take off.  If you've thought about doing just that but are not sure where to start then this book is for you. 

 Some of the featured drives include:

Bantry to Killarney
Galway to Westport
The Dingle Peninsula


The book also features some great tips and tricks to help you on your way.






It's packed full of recommended drives that everyone is sure to enjoy whether you're visiting Ireland on holidays or you've lived here all your life. I can't wait for the summer to hit so I can jump in my car and experience some of these places for myself. 


Here is the best news. The book is completely free and you can read it yourself here:


https://www.chill.ie/blog/irelands-beautiful-drives-ebook/




Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I have not been compensated for this post in any way. 




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#Giveaway: #Win a copy of The Last Queen of India by Michelle Moran

17:04




1857, India.

At nineteen years old, Sita is the shining star of Queen Lakshmi of India's imperial guard, having pledged herself to a life of celibacy in the name of protecting the young ruler.

When Sita agrees to train Lakshmi in the art of military combat, a close friendship develops between the two women. But trouble soon threatens - Lakshmi's court is dangerously divided and rumours are rife that the country is at risk. Meanwhile, in London, advisors to Queen Victoria are looking to extend the power of the Commonwealth, and India is coveted as the next jewel in the imperial crown.

In the ensuing battle, will the bond between Lakshmi and Sita be broken for ever?


--------------------------------

I have read The last Queen of India and it was one of my favorites of 2015. I am delighted to be able to post and extract and give you the chance to win your own copy!
--------------------------------


Extract:

Seventy-five years’ worth of diaries are spread across my bed,
nearly covering the blanket Raashi sewed for me last winter.
Th eir spines all open, the books look like old moths, just too
worn out and tired to fl y away. At eighty-fi ve, I fi nd it diffi cult to
read my own handwriting. But I have read these words so many
times that they are imprinted on my mind; they are the patterns on
a butterfly’s black-and-orange wings.
I take an envelope from my desk and bring it to my bed. Most
of my writing now is done here. I address the envelope carefully to
“Miss Pennywell,” and I am proud of the fact that I’ve remembered
to call her Miss and not Mrs. It was this kind of detail that saved
my life when her countrymen came, looking to turn my home into
a little England—only with the added benefi t of exotic women
and chai. But if what Miss Pennywell believes is correct, and the
English will read this old woman’s story, perhaps that will change.
You see, when I was a child I lived in the small kingdom of
Jhansi, under the rule of Maharaja Gangadhar and his queen, Rani
Lakshmi. Now, I live in a vast country called India, with borders
that stretch from Burma to Kashmir. Instead of a maharaja, we are
ruled by a foreign emperor, the grandson of Queen Victoria, King
George V. And where carved stupas once pierced the sky, enclosing
our sacred images of the Hindu prince Siddhartha (who eventually
became Buddha), we have tall English crosses perched on church
steeples. Yes, I am old, and no one can expect to reach my age
without witnessing great change. But I have also lived through a
terrible war between India and England, and have watched for
almost a century as our ancient traditions have slowly been erased.
Th ere is an old Hindi saying that my father once taught me.
Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swad. It means, “What does a monkey
know about the taste of ginger?” And I expect that this is true for
the English. Th ey know nothing about the people they came to
rule. So why should we expect them to preserve our temples and
respect our gods? At best, they view them as foreign decorations.
At worst, reminders of the “heathen barbarism” that runs rampant
in a country that gave the world chess and the number zero.
I look down at the address, which Miss Pennywell gave to me
two months ago. I was standing with Raashi at the railway station
in Bombay when a woman rushed up, the sound of her sharp heels
clacking against the stone. In a country of red saris and saff ron
dupattas, she was dressed in a gray shirt and a matching gray hat.
Her black skirt made its way only to her calves. She was English.
“I’m terribly sorry to disturb you, Mrs. Rathod. It is Mrs. Rathod,
isn’t it?”
I hesitated for a moment. But the British government no longer
cares about hunting down rebels, so I told her the truth. “Yes.”
She held out her hand, and I knew from my schooling in English
manners that I was supposed to shake it. “Emma Pennywell,”
she said.
I assumed she was another reporter, wanting to ask me what
had happened to the rani’s wealth after she was killed. Instead she
said, “Sixty-five years ago my grandfather escorted you to London.
His name was Wilkes. He’d like to speak with you again.”
It took several moments for me to comprehend what she was
saying. When I did, I shook my head. “I’m sorry. Th at was a different
life.” I took Raashi’s arm and we started walking toward the
train. “I was from a diff erent India then.”
“Which is why I’ve come.” When she saw I wasn’t interested,
she began to speak faster. “My grandfather is a publisher and he’s
interested in memoirs set in the colonies. He wants to tell your
story. I know you have a train—”
I stopped walking to explain to her there were things in my past
I never wished to revisit, but she didn’t even have the decency to
look shocked.
“We’ve all done things we’d rather keep in the dark. It’s only by
shedding light on them that our demons can disappear.”
Miss Pennywell was no more than twenty-two. What did she
know about darkness and demons? “Miss Pennywell, I just don’t
see the purpose of such a book.”
“Don’t you regret how the British have changed your country?”
“Some of it has been for the good,” I said, hoping to end our
conversation. “Th is train station, for instance. Without the British,
it could not have been built.”
“But think of all the temples that have been destroyed.”
I kept my expression neutral. I didn’t want her to know how
often I thought of this.
“Please, just consider it,” she said, then pressed a calling card
into my hand. “What if your story convinces the British that Indian
traditions are important? What if the King of England himself
were to read it and decide that your rani was right? Th at she
wasn’t a Rebel Queen, as they’ve been calling her in England, but a
true queen, willing to take up a sword to defend her people against
empire builders. Just as you did, Mrs. Rathod.”
Now she was baiting me. I knew it. But I took her card, and
after two months of persistent letters, she has fi nally changed my
mind.
Raashi thinks I am brave to write about my past. But my guess
is that she really means foolish. After all, memoirs are not open
doors into another person’s house. Th ey are more like broken windows,
with the owner trying to explain away all of the damage.
And I’m not blinded to the truth. I am writing this as much for
myself as I am for India.
Th e sweet scents of garam masala and coriander fi ll the house,
and I know that Raashi is cooking. I should probably begin before
this cool morning thaws into a scorching afternoon when nothing
but sleeping can be done. But I continue to look at my friends,
their worn leather covers as creased and familiar as the backs of my
hands. When this memoir is fi nished, I will not save my diaries.
I will take them to the Ganges during Vasant Navratri, when everyone
is fl oating their old calendars down the water, and I will let
the goddess of the river determine if the things I did were right; if
what happened to my sister, and to India’s bravest queen, should
still weigh so heavily on an old woman’s heart.


Giveaway:

Win a hard copy of The Last Queen of India
Open to UK readers only 





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#Giveaway: #win a copy of Secrets of Empowerment @charlesgordonuk@TsoeQuotes

08:52


Extract:


If you enjoy the thrilling and challenge of thinking and living outside the mind-numbing figurative box, then the Secrets of Empowerment is the book that will propel you into the big league. For those who lack such boldness, the recommendations is that you shut the pages of this book and choose more mainstream reading, with all it’s comfortable limitations and normalites. 

As the intrepid go through the pages of Empowerment, they will discover a host of priceless principles which have traditionally been hidden by those in power. The result has been that those in the higher income brackets remain at the top, while those with only a few pennies have remained at the bottom of the earnings league, because of not being privy to the secrets of financial success. 

What makes Empowerment unique is that it has been compiled by someone who is part of the financial elite, who has tried and tested the formula for financial success, and is willing to ‘spill the beans’. In other words, Empowerment is not just theory, written by a university lecturer who drives an Skoda, but by someone who is the ‘real deal’. 

Empowerment is inspired by the experience of Charles Gordon, one of the UK’s most flamboyant multi-millionaires, who made his wealth primarily in property development. In recent time he has successfully ventured into the British Urban music business, and plans to monopolise what he believes has the potential to make him billions. 

For the average Joe Bloggs, the book illustrates that even the most disadvantaged can get out of the inner city estates and government funded housing developments to ‘make it’; if of course, there is a plan and a honed mental attitude. 

In writing Empowerment, Charles Gordon was motivated by his concern for the youths of the inner cities, many of whom face a bleak future. His message for those considering a career of drugs, guns and shady deals is: “Don’t do it”. His logic is, why put yourself through a life of hide and seek with the police, burly underworld figures, knives and bullets when you can earn it legitimately, without the grief?


Giveaway:

Win one hard copy of Secrets of Empowerment
Open Worldwide




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Blog tour: Extract from What She Never Told Me by @KateMcQuaile @QuercusBooks #whatshenever

15:28





Louise Redmond left Ireland for London before she was twenty. Now, more than two decades later, her heart already breaking from a failing marriage, she is summoned home. Her mother is on her deathbed, and it is Louise's last chance to learn the whereabouts of a father she never knew.

Stubborn to the end, Marjorie refuses to fill in the pieces of her daughter's fragmented past. Then Louise unexpectedly finds a lead. A man called David Prescott . . . but is he really the father she's been trying to find? And who is the mysterious little girl who appears so often in her dreams? As each new piece of the puzzle leads to another question, Louise begins to suspect that the memories she most treasures could be a delicate web of lies.


Extract:



Prologue

The little girl is underdressed for the cold night. No coat, just a jumper

and pleated skirt, and knee socks that struggle to stay up as she canters

along the pavement towards the green postbox, clutching the letter she

has written to an old man with a white beard in a snowy, distant land

without borders.

Around the square, curtains are closed against the cold and the dark.

The street lights cast their beams as far as they can, but between each

wooden pole there is a dark space that momentarily eclipses the child,

causing your heart to miss a beat each time she disappears from view.

She’s at the postbox now, looking up at the slot that she can only reach

by standing on tiptoe. She stretches and strains to push the envelope

towards the oblong mouth of the box. You watch. And wait.



Chapter One

Outside, the light is fading across the stretch of the extended

town, past the estates towards the farmland and low hills beyond.

My mother, no longer conscious, is also fading. The nurses

haven’t spelled it out in so many words, but everything they

say makes me think she is close to the end.

‘Talk to her,’ the nurses say. ‘She’ll hear you. The hearing is

the last thing to go.’

So I talk to her in a low voice, mostly about long ago when

I was a child because that was the time we were closest. I talk

about our outings to the sea, the two of us walking down to

Amiens Street Station and taking the train to Skerries, where

we would change into our bathing costumes and run as fast as

we could into the waves so that there was no time to change

our minds. Sometimes we went further, taking the train all the

way to Drogheda and then a bus to Clogherhead.

I remind her of how hungry we used to be after our dips in

the cold water, so hungry that it didn’t matter that somehow the



sand always found its way into the sandwiches she had packed.

She would point into the distance at the Mourne Mountains,

miles away to the north. And always, before we went back home,

we would walk to the harbour to watch the seals that followed

the fishing boats in from the sea.

Those memories are real, as real as everything I see before

me now, except that the colours are muted, old-fashioned. They

almost have a smell to them, the way the dark green of the

old double-decker buses that carried us about seemed to have

a smell to it.

I talk on, hoping she can still hear, losing myself in those

memories as I recall them, so that the sound my mother makes

– a ssshhh sound, repeated over and over – comes as a shock. At

first, I think she’s saying, ‘Shush,’ telling me to be quiet. But

there’s distress in the sound, as if there’s something more she’s

trying to get out but can’t.

‘What is it, Mamma? What are you trying to say?’ I ask her

gently, but there’s no answer, only the ssshhh, again and again.

Eventually, the effort of it is too great for her and she sighs and

lapses back into silence. I watch and wait. She is so calm now

that I don’t even notice the point at which she finally stops

breathing.

Hours later, morning is creeping through a gap in the curtains

into the dark bedroom where I’ve lain awake through what was

left of the night. I’m frantic, physically and mentally, my body

trying to find a place in the bed that will bring some rest, my

head trying to keep track of the thoughts that dart like arrows

through it.

And, as if from a shell picked up on the beach and held to

the ear, I keep hearing that sound she made before she died, the

ssshhh sound. I hear it over and over again, ebbing and flowing,

relentless in its rhythm, haunting and tormenting.

I can’t bear to think that something I said might have penetrated

her unconscious state to hurt her. We had our moments,

my mother and I, but even at those times when I thought I had

come close to hating her I knew that there was no escaping the

bond we had.

I talked to her about memories last night. I don’t know

whether she heard me or not. But there’s another memory that

I didn’t bring up because it hurt her once, a memory that has

punctuated most of my life and that I have never understood.

It surfaces now, unbidden, and I see a green postbox and a

small hand stretching upwards to push an envelope into its

oblong mouth. The edges of the image are blurred. It’s as if

someone has opened an old tarnished locket to reveal a silent

film playing in slow motion inside. It’s always the same. It plays

over and over, the little hand never in any position but extending

upwards, the envelope always held in those childish fingers, the

mouth of the green postbox almost within reach.

And then, as strangely as it has appeared, the grainy image

fades, leaving me puzzled and slightly disturbed, even a little

afraid.

I am never sure whether that small hand is mine. But if not

mine, whose?

My mother’s coffin stands in front of the altar. It felt strange to

leave her there through the night, alone in the locked church.

The last time she was here was for Dermot’s funeral. She wasn’t

religious. ‘You don’t need religion to be a good person,’ she used

to say. She didn’t leave any instructions for her own funeral

and probably wouldn’t have been too bothered if we had told

her we were going to put her body into a cardboard box and

tip it from a boat into the sea. The funeral is for me, because

I need something beautiful and soft and hopeful to take away

the memory of that terrible last night in the hospital. So the

choir sings Fauré’s Requiem, because, with no Dies Irae, no day of

judgement, it’s the sweetest, gentlest requiem of all, and as we

all shuffle to the altar for Communion the choir sings Duruflé’s

‘Ubi Caritas et Amor’.

We leave the church for the graveyard. It’s cold and wet,

a typical November day in Ireland, but when the undertaker

indicates one of the funeral cars I shake my head. I want to

walk behind my mother on her final journey. Ursula, my friend

since childhood, walks beside me.

A couple of relatives have turned up: my mother’s older

brother and his middle-aged son. We haven’t spoken yet. They

weren’t part of my life when I was growing up, though I had

known of their existence. Now, I have only the mildest curiosity

about them.

It’s the Keaveneys, Dermot’s people, I think of as my family,

even though I’m not related to them, and they’re out in

force—Angela and her husband, Joe, and their daughters and

grandchildren. I’ve kept my eyes on the coffin all through the

prayers at the graveside, but when it’s finally lowered I can

barely see anything because rain and tears are blurring my

sight.

Ronan, Angela’s grandson, tugs at my sleeve and puts his

little hand into mine.

‘Don’t cry, Auntie Lou,’ he says, his big eyes looking up at

me from a face filled with a kindness you don’t expect from a

five-year-old boy.

This makes me cry even more and his mother, Lizzie, squeezes

my shoulder and tries to move Ronan away, but he keeps his

grip of my hand and refuses to let it go.

‘He’s fine,’ I tell Lizzie.

After the burial, there’s a reception at one of the local hotels

and, with the worst of the funeral over and having downed a

large glass of wine, I begin to emerge from the fog that has

enveloped me over the past few days, the fog that has softened

the longing to call Sandy. Now, my mind clear but filled with

pain and loss, I am desperate to hear his voice. I slip outside to

a courtyard and dial his number.

‘Louise.’

The lack of expression in his voice hurts me almost as much

as the loss of my mother does. The end of a marriage is another

kind of bereavement and I’m still in mourning for it.

‘Sandy, I . . . my . . .’ I start choking. I can’t finish what I’m

trying to say.

‘Louise, what’s wrong?’

‘My mother died.’

‘When? What happened?’

‘A few days ago. It was lung cancer but it was very fast. We

had no idea anything was wrong. I should have told you. I’m

sorry – I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.’

‘Oh, God, I’m sorry. I wish I’d known. Where are you now?’

‘In Ireland. We buried her today.’

‘Would you like me to come over? Is there anything I can do?’

‘It’s all right . . . it’s over now. There’s not a lot else to be

done at the moment. I’m not going to stay much longer. I can

come back another time to sort her stuff out.’

‘Are you staying with Angela?’

‘Yes. She’s been great.’

‘Will you let me know when you’re back?’

‘Okay. I think I’d better go now. There are lots of people . . .

I have to talk to them.’

‘Call me when you’re back. Okay?’

‘Okay.’

There’s a faint thudding going on in my heart as I end the call.

Talking to Sandy has brought no comfort. It has just reinforced

my sense of having been cast adrift. I sit on one of the metal

garden chairs and, to take my mind away from the nothingness

of my marriage, I think about all the things I have to do.

My mother told me during her final days in the hospital that

she was leaving everything to me, everything being the small

house she moved into after Dermot died and whatever money

she had in the bank. I’ll have to go through her things and decide

whether or not to sell the house. But these are tasks I can put off

for a while. I can go back to London in the next few days and,

after a month or two, return to Ireland to sort everything out.

I don’t know how long I’ve been sitting there when Ursula

appears.

‘Oh, Lou, what are you doing out here? You’ll freeze to death

without a coat.’

‘I called Sandy.’

‘And?’

‘Nothing, really. He says to call him when I’m back in London.’

‘Good. Now, let’s get you inside and warmed up.’

My mother’s brother, Richard, comes over to talk to me with

his son, Peter, who has driven him down from Dublin. I have

no recollection of ever having met either of them, but Richard

tells me he remembers me as a very small child.

I’m not surprised when he tells me that he found out about

my mother’s death when he read the notice Angela placed in the

paper; people of a certain age in Ireland tend to go straight to

the death notices before they read the news. But I am surprised

when he tells me they had been in occasional contact over the

years. She had never mentioned it. His name rarely came up.

‘The last time we talked was during the summer. I had no

idea she was so ill,’ he says.

‘None of us did. She probably didn’t, either, until it was too

late.’

‘Still, I wish I had known. I might have been able to help.’

Richard speaks in the light, refined tones of Dublin’s more

affluent southern suburbs, as my mother did. I see the physical

resemblance between them, too. Like my mother, he’s tall and,

despite his age, moves lightly, fluidly. He’s a handsome man.

‘I’m very sorry you had to deal with Marjorie’s death by

yourself,’ he says.

‘I had Angela. Dermot’s daughter. She was very good to my

mother,’ I say, making the point that the person I have leaned

on most is not a blood relative.

He looks slightly uncomfortable, but I may be reading into

his expression what I want to see. A quick calculation tells me

that he must be close to eighty, but he wears his age well. Peter

is a different type, shorter than his father and stockier. Probably

a rugby player at whichever top boarding school he will have

attended. His slightly florid complexion, bordered by dark hair

that is flecked with grey, hints at future health issues. He won’t

age as gracefully as his father. I almost feel sorry for him; clearly,

neither of us has inherited the Redmond genes.

As Richard and I talk, Peter smiles occasionally, his small

and silent contribution to the short and difficult conversation.

Perhaps he senses some hostility from me, or maybe he feels

he has given enough of his time to the funeral of an aunt he

didn’t know, because before very long he looks at his watch and

apologises, saying they have to leave.

Richard, looking somewhat relieved, says goodbye to me. But

just as he starts to walk towards the door, he turns around and

takes my hand.

‘Will you come and see me in Dalkey, Louise?’ he says. ‘I have

some photographs you might like to see.’

I make a vague promise to visit him, but I have no intention

of keeping it. He has never been part of my life. Why should I

invite him into it now?


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Book Review: Beverly by @FionaPearse

17:15




Beverly sidesteps the need to interact with co-workers by working from home. When she must venture outside, she wears earphones so no one will bother her. Social niceties are designated to her best friend and flatmate, Ella.

Beverly would be jealous of Ella's gregarious charm and high-life, if she didn't have the security of her long-term boyfriend, Roland, who spared Beverly from the dating scene and gave her a future. Beverly won't speak for herself because she has a stutter. This is how she carefully arranges her life, until Roland breaks up with her... to date Ella.



Review:


I wasn't heading into Fiona's book blind. I'd read and thoroughly enjoyed Orla's Code (even if I didn't understand some of the coding jargon).

Saying that, Beverly surprised me. It was different to Orla's code. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. With Beverly Fiona seems to have really honed her character building skills. A few words came to mind after I'd read this book: real, authentic and flawed. 

I love an author that takes on difficulties that many people deal with in their everyday lives. Beverly has a stutter but rather than deal with it she adapts ways to side step words she finds difficult and completely avoids an situation that might lead to her speaking publicly. She rely's on her friend Ella to use her charms to get her through difficult situations.

There is real authenticity in the writing. I'm not sure if Fiona her self suffers from a speech impediment but either way she clearly thoroughly researched the subject prior to writing. That much is obvious. I could feel myself holding my breath with Beverly every time she struggled to say a certain word.

Lots of writers can do 'flawed' but many don't pull it off as convincingly as Fiona does. There is often this perceived notion that a disability comes with a shy 'lovely' personality. Not always. Frankly, Beverly is a bit of a bitch, she loves to party and she loves sex just as much as any other girl. She loves her boyfriend and is willing to do anything to make sure that she remains his favorite. 

I loved all of the above but I loved Beverly's development most of all. She learns that actions have consequences and that people won't always make allowances for you; no matter how much you think you deserve it. Sometimes you can't turn the clock back. You just have to deal with it and move forward. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a character driven novel. With Beverly. Fiona's unique voice has shone through again.


Rating:

★★★★★ 

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