blog tours, book extract, debut author, extract

#BlogTour #Extract Song by Michelle Jana Chan @michellejchan @unbounders #song #blogtour #RandomThingsTour

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How amazing is this cover?!! I couldn’t resist it so I’m happy to close the blog tour for Song by  Michelle Jana Chan with an extract.

Blurb:

Song Cover ImageOpening in the mid-nineteenth-century, this dazzling debut novel traces the voyage of Song, a boy who leaves his impoverished family in rural China to seek his fortune. Song may have survived the perilous journey to the colony of British Guiana in the Caribbean, but once there he discovers riches are hard to come by, as he finds himself working as an indentured plantation worker.

Between places, between peoples, and increasingly aware that circumstances of birth carry more weight than accomplishments or good deeds, Song fears he may live as an outsider forever. This is a far-reaching and atmospheric story spanning nearly half a century and half the globe, and though it is set in the past, Song’s story of emigration and the quest for opportunity is, in many ways, a very contemporary tale.

Extract:

Lishui Village, China, 1878At first they were glad the rains came early. They had already finished their planting and the seedlings were beginning to push through. The men and women of Lishui straightened their backs, buckled from years of labouring, led the buffalo away and waited for the fields to turn green. With such early rains there might be three rice harvests if the weather continued to be clement. But they quickly lost hope of that the sun did not emerge to bronze the crop. Instead the clouds hung heavy. More rain beat down upon an already sodden earth and lakes were born where even the old people said they could not remember seeing standing water. The Li rose higher and higher. Every morning the men of the village walked to the river to watch the water lap at its banks like flames. Sometimes they stood there for hours, their faces as grey as the at slate light. Still the rain fell, yet no one cared about their clothes becoming wet or the nagging coughs the chill brought on. Occasionally a man lifted his arm to wipe his face. But mostly they stood still like figures in a painting, staring upstream, watching the water barrel down, bulging under its own mass.

Before the end of the week the Li had spilled over its banks. A few days later the water had covered the footpaths and cart tracks, spreading like a tide across the land and sweeping away all the new shoots of newly planted rice. Further upstream the river broke up carts, bamboo bridges and outbuildings; it knocked over vats of clean water and seeped beneath the doors of homes. Carried on its swirling currents were splintered planks of wood, rotting food, and shreds of sacking and rattan. Song awoke to feel the straw mat wet beneath him. He reached out his hand. e water was gently rising and ebbing as if it was breathing. His brother Xiao Bo was crying in his sleep. The little boy had rolled off his mat and was lying curled up in the water. He was hugging his knees as if to stop himself from floating away.

Song’s father was not home yet. He and the other men had been working through the night trying to raise walls of mud and rein back the river’s strength. But the earthen barriers washed away even as they built them; they could only watch, hunched over their shovels. The men did not return that day. As the hours passed the women grew anxious. They stopped by each other’s homes, asking for news, but nobody had anything to say. Song’s mother Zhang Je was short with the children. The little ones whimpered, sensing something was wrong.

Song huddled low with his sisters and brothers around the smoking re which sizzled and spat but gave o no heat. They had wedged among the rewood an iron bowl but the rice inside was not warming. at was all they had le to eat now. Xiao Wan curled up closer to Song. His little brother followed him every- where nowadays. His sisters Xiao Mei and San San sat opposite him, adding wet wood to the re and poking at the ash with a stick. His mother stood in the doorway, the silhouette of Xiao Bo strapped to her back and her large rounded stomach tight with child.

The children dipped their hands into the bowl, squeezing grains of rice together, careful not to take more than their share. Song was trying to feed Xiao Wan but he was too weak even to swallow. e little boy closed his eyes and rested his head in Song’s lap, wheezing with each breath. Their mother continued to look out towards the fields, waiting, with Xiao Bo’s head slumped unnaturally to the side as he slept.

‘I don’t think they’re coming back.’

Song could barely hear what his mother was saying.

‘They’re too late,’ she muttered.

Song wasn’t sure if she was talking to him. ‘

Mama?’

Her voice was more brisk. ‘They’re not coming back, I said.’

Song didn’t reply. He looked across at his sisters, who were continuing to push squashed grains of cold rice into their mouths. Song’s breathing quickened, losing its rhythm. He felt his body tighten. Lying across Song’s lap, Xiao Wan woke up and started to cry.

That night Song slept on the wet woven matting between his sisters and brothers, and dreamed of a place far away which resembled land but in fact was a gigantic lake whose surface was covered in broken rice shoots. At first it seemed beautiful. But then in Song’s mind he saw the bloated bodies floating face up and staring wide- eyed at something beyond the cloudless blue sky.

Song woke with a jolt and tried to shut out the image. He pressed himself closer against the bodies of Xiao Wan and San San. their skin was cold. Song reached his arm across San San’s waist and realised how thin she had become. He could hear Xiao Bo moaning in his sleep. Song stared up at the underside of the roof above him. In the darkness he could just make out the curves and ridges of the pottery tiles. Another land began to appear in his mind, this time protected by giant roof tiles ten times as big as the ones above him, keeping everyone dry, allowing them all to scramble up to safety.

Song sat upright and shook himself. e night was quiet except for the heavy breathing of his family.

Xiao Mei had a raw cough, but it didn’t wake her. Xiao Bo continued to moan rhythmically in his sleep. He was too small to pretend he wasn’t hungry. Song had been pretending ever since he could remember. Taking less than his share. Knowing that he, the eldest, at the age of nine, was stronger than his sisters and brothers.

‘Song’ll make it,’ he had once overheard his mother tell his father. ‘He came to us in a good year. Not like his sisters and brothers. They were born at the wrong time.’

Song shivered in the cold damp room. It was then that he remembered the words of Zhu Wei, the medicine man who travelled between villages, carrying his chinking bottles of tinctures and pots of sweet-smelling balsam, all the while telling stories of places he had seen.

‘This world is sweet, my friend. Go. Take yourself away.’ Song tried to piece together what he had heard.

‘Malaya. Heady with spices. India. With its regal princes, elephants dressed up in finery, and the vivid colours. Ah, and then there’s Guiana. The sugarcane whispers in a sea breeze so salty you can lick it. Mangoes. Mangoes so full of juice they split on the tree and seep nectar. Like sunshine might taste. Rubber trees bleed without so much as a tap and a full bucket fetches a price so high that you don’t have to work for the rest of the month. There’s nothing to spend money on anyway, with fruit hanging off every tree: papaya, guava, carambola, sapodilla. No one is ever wanting. And don’t start me on the gold. Even babies of the poorest families wear solid gold bangles around their wrists and ankles. Diamonds too.

They say there are whole cities built of gold and precious stones.’ Song screwed up his eyes and tried to believe in the place Zhu Wei had described.

‘The Englishmen take you there for nothing – not a penny – on huge wooden boats which use the wind and the stars and their magic to reach these new lands. Hundreds are going every day, boy. You don’t want to be le behind. Hail down one of the carts. They’re sweeping through the villages collecting up young men with dreams and courage, the ones looking for adventure and who are willing to work. You want to get on your way before these places are full.

‘The boats leave from Guangzhou. A terrible place. Don’t get waylaid, I warn you, or you won’t make it to the end of the month. Keep moving. There’s a world beyond what you know. Every boy should travel. Go and see new places. Find work. Get rich. Come back if you want to. But see the world first. Don’t die here, boy. You’re too young to die here.’

Song pictured himself boarding one of the wooden English boats and arriving among lush plantations of sweet sugarcane bordered by trees bearing plump fruit on bowed branches. He licked his lips around the taste of a mango and felt burning cramps in his stomach. Then he imagined himself returning home laden with sugar and gold and diamonds, and the wide disbelieving shining eyes of his sisters and brothers.

Song shivered again. His mother had propped open the front door and the room was cool. He looked up, trying to imagine his father’s silhouette in the doorway, but nobody was there. Not that Song ever particularly noticed his father coming home. He was a man who spoke quietly and was so of foot. But in his head Song could hear his father’s voice telling him how to move through life:

‘strangers don’t like strangers’; ‘trouble only comes to those who stand out’; ‘keep your head down’. The memory of his words triggered something inside Song. He felt the sudden weight of his family; now he must not only take care of himself but everyone else, too. Song felt himself fold, sobbing, covering his face with his hands.

The village of Lishui felt their way through the days and weeks ahead in a daze. For the women and children le behind there was too much to do to think about mourning men. They could no longer drink clean water from the wells. ere was no dry re- wood. e babies lay listless, too emaciated to cry. e old people had stopped eating. e rest of the village sifted through the debris carried by the floodwater trying to salvage anything useful: a sack of wet seed, odd rice shoots, rotten wood, a sodden shred of cloth.

Every morning they hoped to wake to see the land steaming dry and to feel the heat of the sun, but instead clouds brooded heavy and low in the sky before bursting like blisters. Rain fell so hard it bounced from the ground, raining up as well as down. e grey air and reflecting water drained the land of colour. Song knew what he had to do. He thought of the sugar, the gold, the diamonds in far-off lands. But he also remembered the dark stories about the city called Guangzhou and how some men returned broken. ‘Stay away from them men,’ the women told the children, even when it was their own husbands. And the children listened and stayed away, frightened by the way the men sat all day staring out, as if they were asleep with their eyes open. Song shuddered, but he had made up his mind.

He went to find his mother. She was at the back of the house keeping the re alight. He watched her as she shifted around a pot of water, trying to catch the heat of a flickering flame before it extinguished with a fizz.

‘Mama.’

Zhang Je looked up. There were dark shadows under her glazed eyes, red and streaming from the smoke. Her face was drawn. She did not seem to see Song. He crouched down and took the pot from his mother. ‘Let me.’ She let the stick fall from her hands. Song used it to poke at the charred embers and blew into the refi. A cloud of ash billowed up.

‘I’m going to Guangzhou to look for work, Mama.’They both watched a small flame momentarily light up.‘I’ll go with the next cart,’ Song said. ‘They’re looking for boys like me. It doesn’t cost anything to go, they say. There’s lots of work. I’ll bring back money and food for everyone.’

About The Author:

Michelle Chan Author PictureI am the Editor of Vanity Fair On Travel.
My debut novel, Song is being published by Unbound in July 2018.

I’m a BBC presenter and video journalist on The Travel Show, and Contributing Editor at Condé Nast Traveller where I had a weekly column for a year Where I want to be right now.
I was formerly Deputy Editor of The Telegraph’s Ultratravel magazine and am the Destination Expert on China, Cambodia, Nepal and the Himalayas for The Telegraph newspaper.
I also write for The Wall Street Journal, Travel and Leisure and Tatler.

My career in journalism began with Newsweek magazine in New York in 1994, and I continued to report for them from Xi’an, Beijing and Taipei. I then took the position of Asia-Pacific Editor for Deutsche Welle Radio in Cologne, transitioning into television as a news producer for CNN International in London.
I am the winner of the Travel Writer of the Year 2016; winner of the AITO Travel Writer of the Year 2016, and winner of the Consumer Magazine Feature of the Year Award at the Ecoventura LATA Media Awards 2016.
I am a regular speaker and moderator on travel and adventure; judge writing and photography awards; teach travel writing courses; am a qualified performance coach (focusing on creative writing) and conduct media training.

Song by Michelle Jana Chan is out now and available from Amazon UK.

5*, book review, debut author

#BookReview Only Child by Rhiannon Navin. @rhiannonnavin @MantleBooks #bookblogger #greatread #5star

onlychild
Only Child by Rhiannon Navin.

My Review:

Sometimes a book comes along that climbs right inside of you and lodges itself right into your heart. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does you know that the book is really something very special.

That is what happened to me when reading Only Child by Rhiannon Navin. It isn’t an easy book to read, I think that even the most hardened reader will struggle to stop the storyline from affecting them.

This book grabbed me from the start when Zach was hiding in the cupboard at school listening to the pop pop pop of a gun going off. Little does he know that his life is about to change forever. I loved Zach as a character, aged only six that could have been very different, but he is believable and just wonderful in so many ways.

As his family falls apart Zach struggles to understand what has happened and how he can get his family working together again, as they once did. I really liked Zach’s Dad, while his mother fell apart he struggled to keep things as normal as possible for Zach and although he hadn’t been the best Dad before he works hard to make things better. I think that he was underused as a character and I loved reading the scenes between Zach and his Dad.

Readers of my blog will know that I love reading crime and thriller books, but once I finished Only Child I really struggled to read anything with a gun in it. Very unlike me but that is the impact that this book had on me. It didn’t last (thankfully), but this book did have a strong and long lasting impact on me. It really was a wonderful read but not an easy one. For a debut novel it is nothing short of outstanding, I can’t wait to read more from the author and I am pretty sure that Only Child will be on my top reads of 2018 though.

Thank you to the publisher Mantle, for a copy of Only Child by Rhiannon Navin. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

Readers of Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty will also like this tenderhearted debut about healing and family, narrated by an unforgettable six-year-old boy who reminds us that sometimes the littlest bodies hold the biggest hearts and the quietest voices speak the loudest.

Squeezed into a coat closet with his classmates and teacher, first grader Zach Taylor can hear gunshots ringing through the halls of his school. A gunman has entered the building, taking nineteen lives and irrevocably changing the very fabric of this close-knit community. While Zach’s mother pursues a quest for justice against the shooter’s parents, holding them responsible for their son’s actions, Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and art. Armed with his newfound understanding, and with the optimism and stubbornness only a child could have, Zach sets out on a captivating journey towards healing and forgiveness, determined to help the adults in his life rediscover the universal truths of love and compassion needed to pull them through their darkest hours.

About The Author:

Rhiannon+Navin,+AuthorRhiannon Navin grew up in Bremen, Germany, in a family of book-crazy women. Her career in advertising brought her to New York City, where she worked for several large agencies before becoming a full-time mother and writer. She now lives outside of New York City with her husband, three children, two cats, and one dog. Only Child is her first novel.

 

You can follow the author on TwitterFacebookGoodreads and on her website.

 

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

3.5*, blog tours, book review, debut author

#BlogTour #Review Too Close To Breathe by Olivia Kiernan @LivKiernan #TooCloseToBreathe @riverrunbooks

tooclosetobreathe

My Review:

I love the cover for Too Close To Breathe, just looking at it made me want to read the book and I don’t think that I even read the blurb. So that meant that when I started the book I had absolutely no idea what to expect, which is how I like it when I read a book.

Too Close To Breathe is the first book in a new series, but I did have to double check that when reading it as I felt as though I was missing something, but nope, it is definitely the first book. It is also quite a slow burner, most detective series takes place over a few days or maybe weeks, but this book takes place over months, but it is an intriguing story that keeps the reader wondering as the story twists and turns and many different suspects come under suspicion.

There were a few instances where plotlines seemed to be forgotten halfway through or character traits. A heavy cold suddenly disappearing, or characters that started off swearing colourfully and then suddenly stopping and not swearing again for the rest of the book.

Many of the characters are pretty unlikeable, even the victims, which is unusual but I quite like. I did want to find out more about Baz, the sidekick detective. There is the promise of a good series and it will be interesting to see where the characters go next.

Too Close To Breathe is an original book and is definitely not your standard detective book which can only be a good thing.

Blurb:

9781786489869 (1)Perfect for fans of Tana French, Jane Casey and Gillian Flynn

TOO SOON TO SEE

Polished. Professional. Perfect. Dead. Respected scientist Dr Eleanor Costello is found hanging in her immaculate home: the scene the very picture of a suicide.

TOO LATE TO HIDE

DCS Frankie Sheehan is handed the case, and almost immediately spots foul play. Sheehan, a trained profiler, is seeking a murderer with a talent for death.

TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE

As Frankie strives to paint a picture of the killer, and their victim, she starts to sense they are part of a larger, darker canvas, on which the lines between the two blur.

Olivia Kiernan’s debut is a bold, brilliant thriller that will keep you guessing and leave you breathless.

About The Author:

7128026Olivia Kiernan is the author of TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE, a crime thriller where DCS Frankie Sheehan investigates the murder of Dr Eleanor Costello. At first glance the murder appears uncomplicated but soon spills out onto a dark canvas of fear, lies and murder.

Olivia Kiernan grew up in the Irish countryside, a background which left her with a great appreciation of storytelling. Being almost sensible she shelved aspirations of becoming a writer and embarked on a career in science, spending six years in university studying anatomy and physiology before receiving a BSc in Chiropractic in 2003. She worked in this vein for over a decade, always writing in the evenings after work and completing an MA in Creative Writing through part-time study in 2012.
In 2015, she began writing TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE as part of National Novel Writing Month, polishing off half the first draft by the end of the month-long writing marathon. After hiding the manuscript on her hard drive for close to a year, revisiting it from time to time to add a scene or remove one, she sent it out to agents. Within a month she had signed with a literary agent and in 2017 a dream was realised when TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE sold.

Follow on Twitter: @LivKiernan 
On Facebook: Olivia Kiernan Author

Too Close To Breathe by Olivia Kiernan is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

3.5*, blog blast, blog tours, book review, debut author, psychological thriller

#BlogBlitz The Choice by Jake Cross @JakeCrossAuthor @Bookouture

The Choice - Blog Tour

My Review:

I enjoyed The Choice by Jake Cross, it’s a fast-paced read with lots happening, but in order to enjoy this book I think that you really need to just go with the book and not think about how realistic something is (or isn’t).

If you were driving along a road when it is dark and there are no houses or other cars around and suddenly in front of your car was a woman, you slam on the brakes and she begs you to help her, would you help? That’s what Karl is faced with at the start of this book, it is clear that the woman is terrified and so he decides to help her. But it soon becomes clear that people are after the woman and Karl knows that they have seen his van. The woman, Liz, insists that Karl is at risk, that the men she is running from will find him but he dismisses it. She also refuses to go to the police, something that Karl goes along with.

It soon becomes clear that Karl and his pregnant wife are in danger and Karl teams up with Liz to try and survive. This is when things get a little bit far-fetched, but if you ignore that then you’ll enjoy the ride!

Thank you to Bookouture for a copy of The Choice by Jake Cross, I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.

Blurb:

The-Choice-Kindle‘You’ve got to help me,’ she pleads.
On a wet road in the black of night, Karl Seabury is driving home to his pregnant wife. Suddenly, caught in his headlights in the middle of the road is a woman shaking with fright.

The woman says her name is Liz Smith, that her home was attacked, and that she was the only one to escape.

In a split-second decision, Karl decides to help her to safety. But Liz is hiding a dark secret and now his good deed has put his family in terrible danger…

An absolutely unputdownable thriller, with twist after twist after twist, that will leave you breathless. Perfect for fans of Robert Dugoni, John Marrs and Harlan Coben.

About The Author:

davJake has been making stuff up from a real early age. His parents never believed his silly lies when he was young, so he still has no idea why he thought he could invent a decent story as an adult. But he kept trying, and here we are. THE CHOICE is his first novel, the first of three thrillers to be published by Bookouture, and he hopes you like it. If you don’t, he at least hopes you don’t ask for a refund.

 

The Choice by Jake Cross is out today and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, book review, debut author

#BookReview Home by Amanda Berriman. @DoubledayUK @MandyBerriman @jounwin @TransworldBooks @bookreview

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Home by Amanda Berriman.

My Review:

When I read the blurb for Home I knew that I wanted to read it, I then started to hear from others who had read it and they all seemed to love it so I was even more determined to read it. And I’m so pleased that I did.

From literally the very first page I was hooked. The book is narrated by Jesika, a four year old who lives with her Mummy and little brother Toby after her Father moved to Poland, never to be heard from again. Jesika’s Mum is struggling with life, she doesn’t have enough money and they live in a flat that’s got many things wrong with it, including mold. As a result Toby and their Mum both have a bad cough that won’t go away. Life is about to get very difficult for Jesika.

A book narrated by such a young child could easily be awful but thankfully that is not the case here, not even close. It is written in a simple language but I really liked that. From the very start Jesika worked her way into my heart, she was such a wonderful little girl who felt so very real. Her innocence was wonderful and I loved seeing her world through her eyes, but this isn’t always an easy book to read.

Home gives a brilliant example of how grooming happens, the subtleties and ways in which an adult will convince a child to keep secrets for them. While it is not easy to read I thought that Amanda Berriman handled it sensitively and realistically, something that is impressive for any author, let along a debut author. But some will find this very difficult to read so be warned.

But despite this darkness, there is much light in the book. The love that Jesika has for her Mother is wonderful, but also for her little brother Toby. Jesika really is a special little girl who unknowingly brings out the best in people.

Home had me going to bed early so that I could read and check in on Jesika because I’d be worried about her and how she was doing, that is how real that she felt to me. When I finished the book at 2am I felt as though my heart had been shattered by little Jesika and what she went through, but filled with hope that her life was going to get better. The most upsetting thing? That I won’t get to check in on Jesika again and see how she is doing. Home really is a special book and for a debut author it is nothing short of brilliant.

Blurb:

Jesika is four and a half.

She lives in a flat with her mother and baby brother and she knows a lot. She knows their flat is high up and the stairs are smelly. She knows she shouldn’t draw on the peeling wallpaper or touch the broken window. And she knows she loves her mummy and baby brother Toby.

She does not know that their landlord is threatening to evict them and that Toby’s cough is going to get much worse. Or that Paige, her new best friend, has a secret that will explode their world.

About the Author:

Berriman-Mandy-Author-Pic-640x707Mandy was born in a British military hospital in Germany and grew up in Edinburgh, reading books, playing music, writing stories and climbing hills. She studied music at Sheffield University, where she met her husband, and they climbed some more hills in the Peak District before setting off to travel around the world. After learning to teach in Glasgow, she taught in a primary school in the Cambridgeshire fens (not very hilly), where she rediscovered the joy of making up stories and started writing again. She’s now a specialist music teacher at a primary school in Oldham and lives on the edge of the Peak District with her husband, two lego masterbuilders and dog.

Home by Amanda Berriman is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

5*, book review, debut author, psychological thriller

#BookReview The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks

 

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The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor

 

My Review:

Ok, so this review could be very, very short. Basically, all that I will say in it can be summed up in these few words ‘It is bloody brilliant and you should read it.’

If you’d like to know a little bit more about the book then keep reading, no spoilers obviously, but if not then you get the gist and that is all that you need to know.

I’d heard a lot about The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor and was desperate to read it, I just couldn’t wait until publication day so I totally abused my position as a book blogger and begged the publisher to let me read it earlier. Luckily for me, they were very obliging. I was so excited when it landed on my Kindle that I started to read it straight away and once I started I struggled to stop. It was just so so good I couldn’t put it down! Forget the washing/cleaning/cooking/shopping/kids/pets/work/tv/sleep/anything, it won’t get done until you finish reading this book. I’m a slow reader and I read it in two days, sleep didn’t matter, I just had to keep reading.

That this book is a debut is incredibly impressive, the writing is solid and the plot is twisted and well written, the characters are believable and realistic. It’s pretty much as close to a perfect book as you can get.

Blurb:

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy little English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code; little chalk stick figures they leave for each other as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing will ever be the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out his other friends got the same messages, they think it could be a prank… until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Expertly alternating between flashbacks and the present day, The Chalk Man is the very best kind of suspense novel, one where every character is wonderfully fleshed out and compelling, where every mystery has a satisfying payoff, and where the twists will shock even the savviest reader.

About The Author:

20374489_158877098004329_719442257321190286_nC. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.

She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.

In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.

While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.

She’s been writing since she was a child but only knuckled down to it properly in her thirties. Her English teacher once told her that if she ‘did not become Prime Minister or a best-selling author’ he would be ‘very disappointed.’

The Chalk Man was inspired by a tub of chalks a friend bought for her daughter’s second birthday. One afternoon they drew chalk figures all over the driveway. Later that night she opened the back door to be confronted by weird stick men everywhere. In the dark, they looked incredibly sinister. She called to her partner: ‘These chalk men look really creepy in the dark . . .’

She is never knowingly over-dressed. She has never owned a handbag and the last time she wore heels (twelve years ago) she broke a tooth.

She loves The Killers, Foo Fighters and Frank Turner. Her favourite venue is Rock City.

Her favourite films are Ghostbusters and The Lost Boys. Her favourite authors are Stephen King, Michael Marshall and Harlan Coben.

She is SO glad she was a teenager in the eighties.

She firmly believes that there are no finer meals than takeaway pizza and champagne, or chips with curry sauce after a night out.

Everyone calls her Caz.

The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor is released on 11th January 2018 and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4*, blog tours, book review, debut author

#blogtour #bookreview Beneath The Skin by Caroline England. @CazEngland @AvonBooksUK

Blog tour banner BTS

Today it is my stop on the blog tour for Beneath The Skin by Caroline England, a debut author who has given herself a lot to live up to with her next book!

My Review:

Reading a debut novel is always like going into the unknown, unsure whether the author’s writing style will be one that you enjoy for a start. But Beneath The Skin appealed to me, the blurb, the cover and the publisher, so in I went.

Beneath The Skin focuses on the relationships of four couples who are all linked together. At first, I wasn’t so sure as I struggled with keeping up with all the different characters that were introduced to us, especially as some of them had a present and past to keep up with. But what that did was make me focus on what I was reading, and that was only a good thing. This is not a book to skim read as everything is linked together and nothing is told to us for no reason, and as the story progresses you will be pleased that you took notice.

I have to admit that I didn’t like many of the characters in Beneath The Skin, but that isn’t a bad thing. Some were mildly unlikeable and others were downright detestable. The worst was probably Sophie, a self-obsessed alcoholic who is keeping secrets from her husband Sami, who also happens to be keeping secrets from her. Her supposedly best friend is Antonia, who Sophie uses and abuses, but they have known each other since childhood and their relationship is complicated, they are both keeping secrets for the other. Antonia is married to David, we know something isn’t right with Antonia thanks to her weekly self-harm session while David is at the pub with his friends. But David is hiding something too, he is worried about something being found out by others, but what is it that he has done?

David’s best friend is Charlie, a likeable fellow who is married to the truly awful Helen. Their son, Rupert, is almost a stranger to them both, he attends the same boarding school that Charlie and David went to in their youth. Little do they know that events are going to change all of their lives forever, but will it be for the better?

Which leaves Mike and Olivia, seemly the most functional of the bunch, or so it seems…

I really loved reading about all of them and the tales of deceit, cheating and coming together. Caroline England weaves a wonderful tale that, once you get into it, is enthralling. The fact that she is a debut author makes it all the more impressive, and I am very excited to see what England does next.

This is a deep and twisted book that I’m sure I will be thinking of for a long time to come. One thing that I will say though, is that it made me very grateful to be single!!

Blurb:

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No-one remembers your past. But you do.

 

Three women. Three secrets.

Antonia is beautiful and happily married. Her life is perfect. So why does she hurt herself when nobody’s watching?

Sophie is witty, smart and married to the best-looking man in town. She likes a drink, but who doesn’t?

Olivia is pretending to be a happy wife and mother. But her secret could tear her family apart.

Their lies start small, they always do. But if they don’t watch out, the consequences will be deadly.

About the Author:

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Born Yorkshire lass, Caroline studied Law at the University of Manchester and stayed over the border. Caroline became a partner in a Solicitors practise and instigated her jottings when she deserted the law to bring up her three lovely daughters. In addition to the publication of her short story collection, Watching Horsepats Feed the Roses by ACHUKAbooks, Caroline has had short stories and poems published in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. Her debut novel, Beneath the Skin, will be published by Avon HarperCollins on 5 October 2017.

 

Beneath The Skin by Caroline England is out now and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.