Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Espionage - Spy - Thriller, Guest post, Historical Fiction, Humour

The Spy Who Inspired Me Stephen Clarke 5*#Review @sclarkewriter #PAF @RichardsonHelen #humour #historical #WW2 #France #Female #Spy #satirical #BlogTour #BookReview #TheSpyWhoInspiredMe

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author via Helen Richardson PR in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story highlights the role of female spies in WW2. Their commitment and courage is something often overlooked, but many died in service of their country. This story parodies a well-known male fictitious spy as he finds himself in an uncomfortable alliance with a female spy who is everything he isn’t, but would like to be.

Lemming’s major contribution to the war effort appears to be working his way through the females who work alongside him until he meets his match in Margaux. She flatters his ego but makes him uneasy. When they meet again, he realises why.

Thrown in an uneasy alliance the unlikely couple travel to occupied France where Margaux shows Lemming what really happens behind enemy lines. Comically, and once you get to know him predictably, Lemming retreats into his vast imagination and rewrites the story covering himself in glory.

The immersive writing style and relatable characters draw the reader into the fictitious world from the start. Good use of sensory imagery brings the history and location vividly to life, so the reader feels they are on the mission too.

Humour and satire underpin this story making it an enjoyable read with characters, events and places that resonate.

Guest author Post – Stephen Clarke – The Spy Who Inspired Me

My new novel The Spy Who Inspired Me is a reaction against the old-fashioned Bond girl. The most Bond-girlish of them all, for me, is the dubiously named Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. In the original novel, she’s the feisty leader of a lesbian criminal gang, one of the key players in a plan to rob West Point. Then she meets 007, decides he’s cute, and suddenly she’s betraying her criminal chums and turning straight. It’s the same with the clairvoyant Solitaire in Live and Let Die – she sleeps with Bond (her first lover), loses her powers and becomes more or less enslaved to him.

The suggestion is that a woman will abandon all her ill-advised feminine foibles as soon as she meets a “real” man. It’s old-school gender nonsense.

This is why for The Spy Who Inspired Me, I decided to reverse the roles. The spy on the cover, Margaux Lynd, is a tough, highly-trained agent with plenty of mission experience. But when she lands in Occupied France in April 1944, she gets saddled with a scared, inexperienced, older male sidekick who just wants to go home to his clean shirts and his limitless supply of handmade cigarettes. The man is modelled on, but – for legal reasons mainly – not named after Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming. My character’s name is Ian Lemming. (You see, nothing at all like “Fleming”.)

The real Fleming was a suave playboy who spent most of the war in a comfortable Admiralty Office, a world away from the harsh everyday realities of spying. Meanwhile, dozens of women were being sent undercover into Occupied Europe. And they were the inspiration for Margaux Lynd. These real-life heroines joined up with the Resistance and acted as radio operators, go-betweens, recruiters and spies. Many were caught by the Gestapo, and then there was no Bond-like banter with their interrogator before a miraculous dash for freedom and a finale in a luxury bed. It was usually a short trip from the torture chamber to the firing squad.

Women agents were valued by the Allies because they exploited Nazi sexism – most Gestapo officers thought that German Frauen existed to breed Aryan babies, and found it hard to believe that a woman would do perilous “male” work like spying. In many ways, that is what Ian Lemming in The Spy Who Inspired Me believes, too. Only gradually does he come to respect, and then fear, the ruthless female secret agent he is forced to work with.

And as the two of them sneak across Occupied France and into Paris, Lemming begins to fantasize about a world in which a suave male spy would lord it over the ladies, while enjoying all the comforts he’s missing from back home – champagne, hot water, a change of underwear. As a reaction to the humiliations and deprivations he’s suffering, we sense that a macho superhero is being created in his head. And while Lemming fantasizes, his female mentor Margaux Lynd has to concentrate on completing her mission – and begging him never to attempt real undercover work ever again.

The Spy Who Inspired Me published on November 12 by pAf Books.

Stephen Clarke – Image Credit Marie Liss

Stephen Clarke is the bestselling author of the Merde series of comedy
novels (A Year in the Merde, Merde Actually, Dial M for Merde et al) which
have been translated into more than 20 languages and sold more than a
million copies worldwide.

Stephen Clarke has also written several serious-yet-humorous books on Anglo-French history, such as 1000 Years of Annoying the French (a UK number-one bestseller in both
hardback and paperback), How the French Won Waterloo (or Think They Did), and The French Revolution & What Went Wrong. He lives in Paris.

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Posted in Audiobook Review, Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Humour, Romance

The Terraced House Diaries Samantha Henthorn 5*#Review @SamanthaHfinds #Narrator Lindsay McKinnon @LindzMcKinnon @RandomTTours #Audiobook #Review #BlogTour #CurmudgeonAvenueSeries #satire #TheTerracedHouseDiaries #humour #Romance #Family#Drama

When Curmudgeon Avenue introduces sisters Edna and Edith Payne, their presence is not welcomed by the proud, yet grouchy Victorian terrace. 

Widowed Edith is looking for love and dates one of Edna’s ex-boyfriends, Maurice. 

This does not end well, especially for the cat. 

Edna is heartbroken after her long term partner moved to France and is now unhappily cohabiting with her idiot sister. 

Edith’s son Ricky Ricketts permanently hangs around Curmudgeon Avenue with his on/off girlfriend Wantha, her sister Toonan and all the tomfoolery they bring.

The sisters decide to advertise for a lodger, and the notable Harold Goatshed moves in. 

He is yet another of Edna’s exes. 

Still vulnerable from the Maurice incident, Edith falls for his charms. 

This delightful social satire tells of the quarrels, romances and dramas of the intertwined lives of Curmudgeon Avenue’s residents.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this audiobook from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a quirky story about a house and its occupants in the North West of England. The house at number one Curmudgeon Avenue is gossipy, opinionated and snobby. Drawn into a strange world of family drama, romance and secrets, the reader is treated to a unique insight into life within the walls of Curmudgeon Avenue.

The story has lots of characters brought to life by the narrator. Sensual imagery makes listening to this story an inclusive experience, though there are some scenes you wish were described less well.

The humour is plentiful and quintessentially English, I loved it. Irreverence and satire lift the story out of the everyday into something special.

The narration is professional and makes the story an addictive listening experience.

The next book in the series previews at the end of the audiobook and that sounds just as good.

Samantha Henthorn

Samantha Henthorn was born in 1970something in Bury, England. She has had short stories and poetry published in magazines. Her books include the Curmudgeon Avenue series (The Terraced House Diaries and The Harold and Edith adventures). ‘1962’, ‘Quirky Tales to Make Your Day’ and ‘Piccalilly’ 

She has two cats, one dog, one gorgeous grown up daughter and one husband. When not reading or writing, she is listening to heavy metal and would be thrilled to bits if someone read her books. 

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Bookstagram, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Literary Humour

Daisy J.P.Henderson 4* #Review @noexitpress #RandomThingsTours @annecater #LiteraryFiction #friendship #Love #Life #travel #BlogTour #BookReview #Paperback #DaisyBook

MEET DAISY. A PICTURE OF GRACE AND DIGNITY.

MEET HEROD. A… DISAPPOINTMENT.

Written in his own words, and guided by a man who collects glasses in a local pub, this is the story of Herod ‘Rod’ Pinkney’s search for Daisy Lamprich, a young woman he first sees on a decade-old episode of the Judge Judy Show, and who he now intends to marry.

When Daisy is located in the coastal city of Huntington Beach, California, he travels there with his good friend and next-door neighbour, Donald, a man who once fought in the tunnels of Cu Chi during the Vietnam War and who now spends most of his time in Herod’s basement.

Herod is confident that the outcome will be favourable, but there’s a problem… Will the course of true love ever run smoothly for this unlikely hero?

A funny and touching story of an improbable and heart-warming quest to find true love

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from no exit press in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

If you like character-driven literary humour, with personable characters and a quirky, lighthearted yet sometimes poignant and satirical plot Daisy will please you. Herod or Rod is an enigma. After being a disappointment to those who should care for him, he is now happy with his life and content to just live. His two friends are equally quirky. Setting out on a quest for true love is out of Herod’s comfort zone. Seeing Daisy on TV changes everything for him and his story is funny, romantic and a little sad.

This story has many tangents, not all of them relevant to the quest, but all pertinent to Herod. This story has an immersive quality, told from Herod’s point of view. Something different, engaging and humorous, with a character who resonates.

J.P. Henderson

J P HENDERSON is the author of three previous novels including Last Bus to Coffeeville, which was selected for World Book Night and longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award. By nature an internationalist, he lives in a cul-de-sac in West Yorkshire for practical reasons.

noexit.co.uk/j-p-henderson

Posted in Book Review, Fantasy, Friendship, Gothic Fiction, Humour, Mystery

Tuesday Mooney Wore Black Kate Racculia 4* #Review @kateracculia @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam #TuesdayMooney #Ghosts #BookReview #Fantasy #Mystery

You are cordially invited to play a game…

Tuesday Mooney loves a puzzle. So when an eccentric billionaire drops dead, leaving behind a fiendish treasure hunt – open to anyone – to his fortune, Tuesday can’t resist.

Although she works best alone, she soon finds herself partnering up with best friend Dex (money manager by day, karaoke-zealot by night) and the mysterious Nathaniel Arches, eldest son of a wealthy family who held a long-running feud with the dead man.

As the clues are solved, excitement across the city reaches fever pitch – but nothing is as it seems, and the puzzle-within-a-puzzle holds something much darker than a vast fortune at its heart…

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK- Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

You’d be forgiven for thinking you were about to read a Gothic horror story when reading the opening chapter of this story. ‘A dying house’, ‘a strange man’, and a ‘dark, menacing ethos’ that grips you as open the door to the house. This story is more than that. Whilst, it is noir, there are ghosts, both spiritual, and those which inhabit your psyche, there is also a strange puzzle to solve, and a quirky heroine whose keen intelligence is the match for any ghost.

Tuesday Mooney is a loner, yet she resonates with those she comes into contact with, whether they be work colleagues, or her few friends. As a lover of the eccentric, she is a hit with me, and I enjoyed the magical, mystery adventure she undertakes with her self-appointed best friend, Dex and Nathaniel, the heir to a vast fortune.

The plot is full of vivid imagery, that brings the mystery hunt to life. The pacing is perfect and the characters authentic and richly described. Boston, the arts and various literary figures feature spectacularly, as you are treated to a spectacle of mystery, horror and dark humour.

Perfect for those who love quirky, surprising, satirical literature.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Horror Fiction, Noir, Paranormal, Short stories, Suspense

Tales Of The What The F*ck D.A.Watson 5*#Review @DaveWatsonBooks @WildWolfPublish @rararesources #flashfiction #HorrorFiction #ShortStories #GhostStories #Crimefiction #Poetry #Satire #Originality #BookReview #BlogTour #Noir

Billionaire terminal cancer patient John Longmire’s going to die today, and he’s going out in style in the classiest euthanasia clinic in the world. But the strange nurse with the clipboard and the look of a goddess is spoiling the mood, with all her irksome questions about how he’s lived his life.

Recent retiree Gerald loves his wife Barbara and he loves his garden, but Barbara hates the garden. Because the garden’s taking Gerald over, and Barbara says he has to stop before he has another ‘incident’.

Bullied, ridiculed and unloved, moustachioed schoolgirl “Hairy” Mhairi Barry has never had any friends but the ones she finds on the shelves of the library where she’s spent most of her lonely childhood. But tonight, she’s going to a party with all the cool kids, to show them what she’s learned in all those books.

A suspicious smelling smorgasbord of lovelorn psychopaths, vengeful mugging victims, pawnshop philosophers and rhyming Glaswegian alien abduction, Tales of the What the F*ck is a dark, touching, horrific and hilarious collection of short stories, flash fiction and epic poetry from People’s Book Prize-nominated author D.A. Watson. Things are about to get weird.

Amazon UK Amazon

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

I enjoy reading well-written flash fiction, short stories and verse and this is an addictive medley of all three.

The overriding theme is darkness, within individuals, within society and within the other worlds, we can only imagine. Despite the noir ethos of the majority of stories, there are many satirical inferences, which make you smile. The author manages to capture the poignancy of life experiences and engenders empathy in characters, some of which may not deserve it.

The mix of genres is eclectic. Crime, horror and paranormal are predominant. The writer’s originality draws the reader into forbidden worlds, which are disturbing and horrific. As a reader, you don’t want to be there, but you do want to know what next, so you keep turning the pages and read on.

The commentary on the current state of the world and its inhabitants is astute. It showcases the darker side of human nature, probably present in all of us somewhere.

All the stories and verse reveal their secrets in an engaging way, each one reads like a longer story with a beginning, middle and ending that may shock, but does satisfy a reader’s need for completion.

Full of vivid imagery, it’s easy to visualise what is happening. I enjoyed the variety and the balance of prose and verse, it is a riveting book, kept me reading until the end.

#DaveWatson

D.A. Watson was halfway through a music and media degree at the University of Glasgow and planning on being a teacher when he discovered he was actually a better writer than musician. He unleashed his debut novel In the Devil’s Name on an unsuspecting public in the summer of 2012, and plans of a stable career in education left firmly in the dust, later gained his masters in Creative Writing from the University of Stirling.

He has since published two more novels; The Wolves of Langabhat and Cuttin’ Heads, a collection of short fiction and poetry, Tales of the What the F*ck, and several acclaimed articles, poems and stories, including Durty Diana, which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in the US in 2016, and the Burns parody Tam O’ Shatner, prizewinner at the Falkirk Storytelling Festival and Dunedin Burns Poetry Competition, and nominated for the People’s Book Prize in 2018.

Watson’s writing has appeared in several anthologies and collections including 404 Ink, Dark Eclipse, Speculative Books, Haunted Voices and The Flexible Persona, and he is also a regular spoken word performer, with past gigs at Bloody Scotland, Tamfest, Sonnet Youth, Express Yourself, Clusterf*ck Circus, and the Burnsfest festival in 2018, where he appeared on the main stage as the warm-up act for the one and only Chesney Hawkes, a personal milestone and career highlight.

His fourth novel Adonias Low will be released by Stirling Publishing in 2021. He lives with his family in a witch infested village on the west coast of Scotland and continues to write some seriously weird sh*t.

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Posted in Book Review, Humour, Novella, Release Day Blitz

The Worst Couple in the World Holly Tierney-Bedord 3*#Review @HollyTierney @rararesources #Satire #Humour #Celebrity #reality #socialmedia #PublicationDay

#TheWorstCoupleInTheWorld

No longer content to just be Snappigram sensations, folk hop singers Zeke and Angelique are ready to move up from coffee house performances to the big stage. With songs like “Uh Huh, Future Baby Mama” and “Don’t Worry About the Bills, Little Missus” there’s pretty much no way they can fail.

But if their musical career takes off, will it leave their love behind?

Amazon Amazon UK

#PublicationDay

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review

My Thoughts…

This book fits its title perfectly, Angelique and Zeke are irritating and credible stereotypes of some of today’s celebrity media stars. The idea for this story is good, and it is amusing and satirical. However, the two main characters and their entourage are difficult to empathise and connect with. The reality doesn’t live up to the expectation, rather like Angelique and Zeke.

If you embrace the current obsession with celebrity and publicising life for all to see, this is a fun read. However, if you find it all shallow and not worth your time, this story is likely to reinforce your perceptions.

#HollyTierneyBedord

Holly Tierney-Bedord is the author of over twenty books ranging from serious women’s fiction to romantic comedies, domestic thrillers, humour, and cozy mysteries. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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Posted in Book Review

Killing It – Asia Mackay – 5* Review

Posted in Book Review

5* Review: Sunshine and Secrets (Willow Cottage #1-) Bella Osborne

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Poppy - Blurb

Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a safe place for little Leo.

When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.

Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…

Flowers - Buy Links

Amazon UK

Amazon

Flowers - My Review

Sunshine and Secrets (Willow Cottage, #1)

The auction scene at the beginning of this amusing serial definitely epitomises Beth as a romantic comedy heroine. Beth is the proverbial ‘fish out of water’ in the country idyll. Beth’s ‘townie’ observations about her surroundings are vivid and often comical. The story is a curious mix of laugh out loud hilarity and dark undercurrents of menace. Beth is running and a rundown cottage in an off the beaten track rural village is a better prospect than a glamorous apartment in London for Beth and her young son Leo.
Brusque and sexy Jack is more than a little attractive to heart worn Beth but what is he hiding? The villagers bring the story to vivid life. There is an atmosphere of secrets, hinted at but not explored, making reading the next part of this funny, poignant serial a must. Life in London continues without Beth through the eyes of her best friend Carly.
I can’t wait to read what happens next to Beth, Carly and Jack and of course Willow Cottage.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins Avon UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Sunshine and Secrets by Bella Osborne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Sunshine and Secrets (Willow Cottage, #1) by Bella Osborne

Bella Osborne

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