Guest post: 10 Things you need to know about author @CarrieJoHowe @unbounders #RandomThingsTours @annecater #islandlifesentence

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About Island Life Sentence:

Peg Savage has contractually agreed to move to Key West, Florida. The smudged signatures on the damp cocktail napkin are irrefutable proof.
“An adventure…” her husband Clark says.

Peg can’t swim; she’s afraid of bridges (there are 42 of them); and she doesn’t want to leave her friends. However, after a bottle of Cabernet, a move from Chicago to the southernmost city in the United States seems like the best decision ever.

But now Clark has taken a long term job in Cuba and she’s on her own.
Neither her dog Nipper, nor the ghosts in the attic, offer up any good advice. But how hard can it be living in paradise?

Peg dives into island life but the more effort she makes, the wider her wake of catastrophes. She is tortured by a paddle board, a giant poisonous toad, the local Conservation group, and the patron saint of hurricanes. Not to mention the persistent sweat rash under her left breast.

A tropical depression descends on the island – one that can’t be cured with medication. Peg must gather her strength if she has any hope of surviving the storm.


10 Things You Need to Know about Carrie Jo Howe:

  1. I’ve written 2 books:

Book Review: Days of Wonder by @keefstuart @LittleBrownUK

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Magical, heartbreaking, beautiful - Days of Wonder reminds us that stories have the power to save lives.


Tom, single father to Hannah, is the manager of a tiny local theatre. On the same day each year, he and its colourful cast of part-time actors have staged a fantastical production just for his little girl, a moment of magic to make her childhood unforgettable.

But there is another reason behind these annual shows: the very first production followed Hannah's diagnosis with a heart condition that both of them know will end her life early. And now, with Hannah a funny, tough girl of fifteen on the brink of adulthood, that time is coming.

With the theatre under threat of closure, Hannah and Tom have more than one fight on their hands to stop the stories ending. But maybe, just maybe, one final day of magic might just save them both.

A tale about growing up, the beauty of a special bond between father and daughter, and finding magic in everyday life, Days of Wonder is the most moving novel you'll read all year.



Days of Wonder Book Review:

I really loved A Boy Made of Blocks. It was such a touching story so I was delighted when Little Brown asked me to take part in the blog tour for Days of Wonder.

I found A Boy Made of Blocks to be a slow burner. It was clear the author really wanted the reader to get to know his characters so I was not surprised to see that Days of Wonder followed the same path. Sometimes it's really nice to read a book that's about the characters rather than just the pace of the plot. 

The story is told from two viewpoints - Tom the father and Hannah the daughter who suffers from a heart condition. As someone with a chronic illness, I could really relate to Hannah and her being mature beyond her years. It's a common trait among people who are ill and it was a nice addition to her character. It shows the level of research the author did into children who suffer from illness from a young age. 

Blog Tour Guest Post: Ten Things You Need to Know About #AskMetoDance Author @SylviaColley @MuswellPress #RandomThingsTours

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Sylvia Colley's extraordinary understanding of a woman's struggle to deal with grief, the denial, the anger, the loneliness, is described without sentimentality. A beautifully written and moving story.


Guest Post:

Ten Things You Need to Know About Author Sylvia Colley


1. When I see the word ‘Blog’ I have to lie down. I panic. Then I curse myself for being so - well- stupid and wish I was part of the younger generation. But probably I’m just lazy.  

2. I keep chickens on my allotment at the bottom of the garden. Brown ones with names like Queenie and Jumper. I sit and watch the way they scrabble at the earth and continually peck up bits of this and that, their heads dipping and rising, their tails upwards. Busy Busy.  And it’s been really useful in the novel I’m writing at the moment because one of the characters is an artist who paints like a modern Stubbs and he does paint chickens sometimes.

3. Now I come to think of it, animals feature in all my books. In Lights on Dark Water the cat, Fido, the only reminder of Anna’s husband left in her life, is stolen and dumped by some roadside by a jealous work colleague  and in Ask Me to Dance (just published), an old, simple-minded monk who had been brought up cruelly in a Catholic boys home, is allowed to keep a wild rabbit - brought in to the kitchen by the monastery cat - much to the disapproval of some the brothers who make life very difficult for him  

Book Review: Dancing Over the Hill by @CathyHopkins1 @fictionpubteam

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Image is from my Instagram

When a boxset of Broadchurch is more appealing than having sex with your husband, then perhaps it’s time to hide the remote…
Cait and Matt have been married for 30 years. They are rock solid; an inspiration to others; stuck together like glue – aren’t they?
But Cait can’t shake off the feeling that something is missing. They are fit and healthy, if a bit skint – but the whole world should be their oyster now that Matt has retired, giving them the time to do those things that really matter – and more importantly – together. So why is she left wondering if this is all there is? Has Matt always been this annoying and infuriating? And where have those ants-in-her-pants suddenly come from?
It’s not helped by the reappearance in her life of Tom Lewis, the love of her life who broke her heart at university and who, despite the fact she hasn’t she hasn't seen him for decades, is still exerting his magnetic pull.
Her friends are Lorna, who recently lost her husband, and Debs whose husband recently left her. The three women must all question what they want out of the rest of their lives – and how they are going to get it…

Review:


I discovered Dancing Over the Hill through a Netgalley email from Harper Collins. I was looking for a change from all the crime fiction and psychological thrillers I'd been reading. All I can say is I am so glad I didn't pass this gem up and I will be purchasing Cathy's previous book ASAP.

What immediately endeared me towards Dancing Over the Hill were the two main characters, Cait and Matt. They weren't young, success hungry go-getters as is typical of this genre. They both are in their 60's and facing retirement while wondering, "Is this all there is?" 

Matt has lost his job, the only thing he's ever felt good at. He find's it difficult to fill in his time and feels like a nuisance around the house. Cait, on the other hand, is used to her alone time, filling her days with choir practice, yoga, and lunches with friends. She finds it difficult to make time for her newly unemployed husband and is completely unimpressed with his lazing about the house in his dressing gown.

Blog Tour: Read an Extract from Saving the Word by @paoladiana_ @quartetbooks @midaspr

10:00


A passionate call for international gender equality by a leading entrepreneur; this smart, accessible and inspiring book makes the case for why all nations need more women at the top of politics and economics. `The status of women is a global challenge; it touches every human being without exception. How is it possible that countries where women have achieved political, economic and social rights after exhausting struggles remain seemingly indifferent to the egregiousness of other nations where the status of women is still tragic? The time has come to help those left behind.

Read an Extract from Saving the World:


It is important here to reflect briefly on the word ‘feminist’ and its implications. Very often, negative connotations are undeservedly attached to the term. In discussing the subject with a Member of the Italian Parliament of my acquaintance, I was confirmed in my belief that there is considerable confusion as to the actual meaning of the word. In commenting on yet another case of violence towards a woman, I said it would be nice if, after death, there was a feminist paradise where the souls of all women could find peace for themselves. He agreed that it would be nice for them, just as a ‘macho’ paradise would be nice for men. Looking at him in astonishment, I explained that there is a huge difference between the two terms: being a feminist doesn’t mean being against someone; it is rather about promoting respect for women’s rights. Being ‘macho’, on the other hand, means rejecting equality of rights between the genders.

‘Feminism’ is virtually a synonym for parity and equality. A man who believes in the values of freedom and fairness can himself be thought of as a ‘feminist’. Machismo, on the other hand, champions male primacy in support of a patriarchal society. If this simple distinction is not clear to a representative of the state, I thought, whatever must be the understanding of most of the population? Historically, feminists have been hostile and even violent towards men on occasions, but this was only when men had sought to perpetuate a culture of oppression and violence. We owe much to the women who fought against all odds for those rights, such as votes for women, that we now take for granted.

Blog Tour Guest Post: If you go Down to the Woods by @SethCAdams @KillerReads

18:32




SOMETHING IS HIDING IN THE SHADOWS…


We were so young when it all happened. Just 13-years-old, making the most of the long, hot, lazy days of summer, thinking we had the world at our feet. That was us – me, Fat Bobby, Jim and Tara – the four members of the Outsiders’ Club.

The day we found a burnt-out car in the woods was the day everything changed. Cold, hard cash in the front seat and a body in the trunk… it started out as a mystery we were desperate to solve.

Then, the Collector arrived. He knew we had found his secret. And suddenly, our summer of innocence turned into the stuff of nightmares.

Nothing would ever be the same again…

Guest Post by Seth C Adams:


On Being a Working Class Stiff, Dogs, and Other True Things

by

Seth C. Adams


'Writing what you know' happens to be one of those clichés that is good, sound advice that every writer should follow. I grew up in a working class family, learning traditional working class values of honesty, integrity, and pride in hard work done well. I grew up with dogs nearly ever present in my life, and have continued that trend into adulthood. And with a consistent circle of friends through my formative primary school years, I was blessed to discover the meaning of loyalty at an early age.

So that's what I sat down to write about when I wrote If You Go Down to the Woods. In the back of mind were the old dog-and-boy classics everyone reads in American grade school: the likes of Old Yeller, Big Red, and Where the Red Fern Grows. Also rattling around up there in my skull were the modern coming-of-age genre classics like Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, Stephen King's It and the short story "The Body", and Robert McCammon's Boy's Life. And of course there were my own memories of my childhood, and the friends and family I shared it with. 

Spotlight: Q&A with author Kelly Ann Gonzales @KellyRGonzales @xlibrispub

17:49




Sienna and Declan are young high-profile NYC executives with an opaque marriage. Neither closed nor open, their mutual arrangement has been left to a laissez-faire interpretation. The rules are simple: never bring a lover to their home, and never fall in love with their affairs. Sienna feels trapped by the own rules she agreed to with Declan when she realizes shes fallen in love with her best friend from college.

What follows is an affair of the heart and mind, their permitted sexual lifestyle against the unsanctioned emotional infidelity. Sienna must choose between emotional stability and marital security versus passion and excitement. Through an Opaque Window takes a solid view through the open windows of marital life, looking at what happens when we leave our lives ajar.


Buy the Book

Q&A with author Kelly Ann Gonzales:



1. What inspired you to write this book? 


The book is very loosely based on my life and served as an alternate reality asking the big, “What If?” I asked hard and uncomfortable questions to get to the root of the different kinds of loves driving the varied motivations of the three main characters. 



2. Summarize your book in one to three sentences as if you were speaking to someone unfamiliar with your book and its topic. 
     

Sienna and Declan are young, high profile NYC executives with an opaque marriage. Neither closed nor open, their mutual arrangement has been left to a laissez-faire interpretation until Sienna realizes she’s fallen in love with her best friend from college. What follows is an affair of the heart and mind, their permitted sexual lifestyle against the unsanctioned emotional infidelity. 


Blog Tour: Read an extract from The Duchess Deal by @TessaDare @MillsandBoon #DuchessDeal

19:20



When the Duke of Ashbury returns from war scarred, he realises he needs an heir – which means he needs a wife! When Emma Gladstone, a vicar's daughter turned seamstress visits wearing a wedding dress, he decides on the spot that she'll do.

His terms are simple:
- They will be husband and wife by night only.
- No lights, no kissing.
- No questions about his battle scars.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she's pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has secrets and some rules of her own:
- They will have dinner together every evening.
- With conversation.
- And teasing.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she's seen the man beneath the scars, he can't stop her from falling in love…

Read an Extract:

“Isn’t it silly of me?” Miss Palmer stood in a draped corner of Madame Bissette’s shop, holding
still as Emma measured her waistline. “More and more plump by the day. I suppose I’ve been
eating too many teacakes.”
Emma doubted it. This was the second time in a month Davina Palmer had visited the shop to have a dress let out, and Emma had been stitching her wardrobe since her first Season. She’d
never known the young woman to gain weight, and certainly not this rapidly.
Teacakes were not to blame.
Strictly speaking, it wasn’t Emma’s place to say anything. But she’d taken a liking to Miss
Palmer. She was the only daughter of a shipping magnate, and heiress to his fortune. A bit spoiled
and sheltered, but she had a sparkle to her. She was a customer who always made Emma’s day
better rather than worse, and that said something. Most of the ladies who came into the shop
looked right through her.
Today, when she met Miss Palmer’s gaze, there was no sparkle. Only terror. The poor girl so
clearly needed a confidante.
“How many months along?” Emma asked softly. 
Miss Palmer dissolved into tears. “Almost four, I think.”
“Does the gentleman know?”
“I can’t tell him. He’s a painter. I met him when he came to paint the portrait of our dogs, and I . . . It doesn’t matter. He’s gone. Went to Albania in search of ‘romantic inspiration,’ whatever that means.”
It means he’s a scoundrel, Emma thought. “What of your family? Do they know?”
“No.” She shook her head with vigor. “There’s only Papa. He has such high expectations for
me. If he knew I’d been so careless, he . . . he’d never look at me the same.” She buried her
face in her hands and broke into quiet sobs. “I couldn’t bear it.”
Emma drew the girl into a hug, rubbing her back in a soothing rhythm. “Oh, you poor dear.
I’m so sorry.”
“I don’t know what to do. I’m so frightened.” She pulled away from the hug. “I can’t raise a
child on my own. I’ve been thinking, if only I could place the babe with a family in the country.
Then I could visit from time to time. I know it’s done.” Miss Palmer placed a hand on her belly and looked down at it. “But I’m growing larger every day. I won’t be able to hide it much longer.”
Emma offered the girl a handkerchief. “Is there anywhere you can go? A friend or cousin,
perhaps. In the country, or on the Continent … Anyone who might take you in until you give birth?”
“There’s no one. No one who would keep the secret, at any rate.” She clutched the handkerchief in her fist. “Oh, if only I hadn’t been so stupid. I knew it was wrong, but he was ever so romantic. He called me his muse. He made me feel . . .”
Treasured. Wanted. Loved.
Miss Palmer didn’t have to explain it. Emma knew exactly how the girl felt.
“You mustn’t be hard on yourself. You aren’t the first young woman to trust the wrong man,
and you won’t be the last.”
And yet somehow, the woman always paid the price.

Buy the Book:


About the Author: 


Tessa Dare is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fourteen historical romance novels and five novellas. Her books have won numerous accolades, including Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award (twice) and the RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence. Booklist magazine named her one of the “new stars of historical romance,” and her books have been contracted for translation in more than a dozen languages.

Mixing wit, sensuality, and emotion, Tessa writes Regency-set romance novels that feel relatable to modern readers. With her bestselling “Spindle Cove” and “Castles Ever After” series, she has had great fun creating heroines who defy the conventions of their time—engaging in “unladylike” pursuits that range from paleontology to beer-making—and dreaming up the strong-willed, sexy heroes who find their hearts ensnared by them.

A librarian by training and a booklover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and a trio of cosmic kitties. 

Visit Tessa's Website | Follow Tessa on Twitter


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Giveaway: Win 3 copies of Dexter Boomstick @dexterboomstick (US)

14:46



When the world descends into a madman's twisted imagination, Dexter “Boomstick” Reynolds, a 30-year-old sporting goods store manager with legendary bat-swinging power, must find his way back to the beautiful Roxanne before she lands in the clutches of the self-proclaimed Pig Monster, Roy Hecht. Will the mysterious Golden Slugger baseball bat, business casual attire, and devilishly good looks be enough for Dexter to prevail?

I am delighted to show case Dexter Boomstick on the blog today. To celebrate the release the author has provided 3 copies to giveaway. 

Giveaway:


3 copies to giveaway
Open to US residents only


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Blog Tour Guest Post: My Mother the Liar by @TroupAnn @HQDigitalUK

17:58



Every family has a secret…


When Rachel Porter’s estranged mother dies, she returns to her family home filled with dread about having to face her past, and the people who populated it.

Little does she know that there are dead bodies waiting to be discovered, and a lifetime of secrets are about to unravel.

Buy the book: UK/Ireland | US

Guest Post: 5 Things I'd like people to Know about my Books


1 – You’re probably not going to find too many ‘likeable’ characters in my books. Nice, good, appealing people don’t tend to do bad things and my books are full of people doing awful things. Even my protagonists have their faults, because people are imperfect and most of my characters will have been victims of the acts perpetrated by the bad guys. It would be unrealistic to expect a character to come out of that unscathed, so even my heroes and heroines are a bit flaky and tend towards the dark side of life on occasion. The good news is that I like a bit of redemption and always give them a positive in the end. 

2 – There will be more than one or two characters and things will get twisty. When you are trying to construct a fictitious plot involving preposterous goings on there is a need to suspend the reader’s disbelief. Very few situations in real-life involve only one or two people and the reasons why we do awful things are rarely simple. For suspension of disbelief to happen I think it’s important to have a realistic cast of characters involved. Some will be more important than others, but they all play a part. Quite a few won’t make it to the end, so if you didn’t like them there’s a good chance you’ll see them bumped off or at least get their comeuppance!

3 – There will likely be a creepy old house. Our homes are often a visual representation of who we are – how we live, what we own and who we live with are often outward representation of our personalities and values. The houses in my books are often characters in their own right, setting the scene for a dark history and representing a sense of the cloying nature of living with misdeeds and their consequences. I also love old houses and find their histories fascinating. One of the joys of storytelling is the advantage of being able to construct whatever world your imagination conjures and being able to insert whatever object/symbol/artefact takes your fancy.

4 – Every book I have written has a basis in truth. All four of the stories I’ve told stem from real stories involving real people. What I do is strip them back, mix and mingle them to create drama and suspense and throw in many fictional elements to make them more exiting. Truth is very much stranger than fiction and though the ‘truth’ in my stories is heavily disguised (and involves far more dead bodies than the real-life situations that inspired them) it is there as a grain of inspiration.


5 – All four books will be available as audiobooks from April this year. I don’t know about you but one of my favourite things in life is being read to, I am a great fan of audiobooks and love listening to a good story well told. So, if you fancy a bit of grown up Jackanory time you know where to look!


Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog Amanda, it’s been a pleasure.

Buy the bookUK/Ireland | US

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Bookish News: London Book Fair's Write Stuff competition is open for entries! @LondonBookFair

15:56



The London Book Fair’s ever-popular writing

competition issues Call for Entries for 2018!



London, 20 February 2018: The London Book Fair (LBF), the UK’s biggest gathering of international publishers and agents, has announced the Call for Entries for its ever-popular writing competition, The Write Stuff, which will take place on Thursday 12 April in LBF’s Author HQ - the area of the Fair dedicated to writers and aspiring writers, which is sponsored by IngramSpark and Kindle Direct Publishing.

The competition takes the form of a “Dragon’s Den” style panel event. Six authors will pitch their books to a panel of literary agents, and an Author HQ audience, for the chance to win a follow-up meeting with a literary agent and a free year’s membership to LBF’s Author Club. This year’s panel of judges includes representatives from Felicity Bryan Associates, Jo Unwin Literary Agency, Marjacq, MBA and Peters Fraser & Dunlop.

Authors will have three minutes each to pitch – to introduce themselves and present their work. The judging panel will then provide on-the-spot feedback to each pitch, as well as the authors’ writing, having received in advance of the competition sample chapters of each finalist’s work.

Book Review: The Woman in the Window by A.J Finn

19:28



Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times--and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, and their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems 

Review:

I'd seen a lot of advanced praise for The Woman in the Window so I was really excited when I was asked to be part of this tour. I eagerly waited for my copy to drop through the letter box.

I knew it would be good but I didn't expect it to be this addictive. Be prepared. Once you pick up this book you'll be lucky if you put it down before you turn the last page. 

Yes, as other reviewers have said, it's what we've seen before (ANOTHER book with girl in the title haha). We have the unreliable narrator and the plot twists that will leave you questioning everything. Is what Anna is seeing real or is what we're reading a product of her alcoholism or her obsession with thrillers? 

Even though we've seen these themes many times in the past few years I still really enjoyed this book. The chapters are short, dangerously short. The "ill just read one more chapter" and then all of a sudden it's 3am or the cooker is on fire  kind of short. I found it so easy to lose myself in the story.

So did I guess any of the plot twists? Yes, but there were a few surprises too so I wasn't disappointed. Sometimes half the fun is finding out whether you're right or not. 

Would I recommend it? Well that depends. Did you enjoy Gone Girl (I loved it) and Girl on the Train ( a 'meh' from me)? If it's a yes, I can say you'll enjoy The Woman in the Window. 

Rating:

★★★★ ☆

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Giveaway: Win a copy of Before I Let Go by @mariekeyn

12:25


Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated--and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town's lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she's a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets--chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter...

Giveaway:

Open to the UK and Ireland only


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Blog Tour: Read an extract from Close to Home by @CaraHunterBooks

10:48



HOW CAN A CHILD GO MISSING WITHOUT A TRACE?

Last night, eight-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from a family party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything - or at least that's what they're saying.

DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows the nine times out of ten, it's someone the victim knew.

That means someone is lying...
And that Daisy's time is running out.

Buy the book: UK/ IRE | US 

Read an Extract:

Interview with Fiona Webster, conducted at
11 Barge Close, Oxford
20 July 2016, 7.45 a.m.
In attendance, DC V. Everett

VE: Can you tell us how you know the Masons,
Mrs Webster?
FW: My daughter Megan is in the same class as
Daisy at Kit’s, and Alice is the year above.
VE: Kit’s?
FW: Sorry – Bishop Christopher’s. Everyone round
here just calls it Kit’s. And we’re
neighbours, of course. We lent them the
gazebo for the party.
VE: So you’re friends?
FW: I wouldn’t say ‘friends’ exactly. Sharon
keeps herself to herself. We talk at the
school gate, like you do, and sometimes I
go jogging with her. But she’s far more
disciplined about it than I am. She goes
every morning, even in the winter, after
she drops off the kids at school. She’s
worried about her weight – I mean she
hasn’t actually said so, but I can tell. We
had lunch once in town – more by accident
than anything - we bumped into each other
outside that pizza place on the High Street
and she couldn’t really say no. But she ate
next to nothing – just picked at a salad –
VE: So she doesn’t work, then, if she runs in
the mornings?
FW: No. I think she did once, but I don’t know
what. It’d drive me mad, being stuck indoors
all day, but she seems totally absorbed in
the kids.
VE: So she’s a good mum?
FW: I remember all she talked about at that
lunch was what great marks Daisy had got
for some test or other, and how she wants
to be a vet, and did I know which
university would be best for that.
VE: So a bit of a pushy parent?
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