SWANSEA UNIVERSITY DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE SHORTLIST #SUDTP22 @dylanthomprize

Exciting news today as it’s time to reveal the shortlist for this years Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize 2022……

UNDER-REPRESENTED VOICES DOMINATE THE 2022 SWANSEA UNIVERSITY DYLAN THOMAS PRIZE SHORTLIST

ANUK ARUDPRAGASAM | NIDHI ZAK/ARIA EIPE | NATHAN HARRIS

PATRICIA LOCKWOOD | CALEB AZUMAH NELSON | BRANDON TAYLOR

www.swansea.ac.uk/dylan-thomas-prize 

 From Sri Lanka to Texas, and Ireland via the Middle East, this year’s shortlist features a powerful, international collection of writers who are offering platforms for under-represented voices.

Comprising four novels, one poetry collection, and one short story collection, the shortlist also includes three debuts:

·       A Passage North – Anuk Arudpragasam (Sri Lankan, Novel)

·       Auguries of a Minor God – Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe (Indian, Poetry Debut)

·       The Sweetness of Water – Nathan Harris (American, Debut Novel)

·       No One is Talking About This – Patricia Lockwood (American, Novel)

·       Open Water – Caleb Azumah Nelson (British-Ghanaian, Debut Novel)

·       Filthy Animals – Brandon Taylor (American, Collection of Short Stories)

The debuts on this year’s shortlist includeIndian-born Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe whose first poetry collection Auguries of a Minor Godfollows two different journeys, the first of love and the wounds it makes and the second following a family of refugees who have fled to the West from conflict in an unspecified Middle Eastern country; the contemporary classic The Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris who fuses together historical fiction with the complex reality of today’s society; and the achingly beautiful love story Open Water (now sold in 13 territories worldwide) by 25-year-old British-Ghanaian writer Caleb Azumah Nelson who shines a light on race and masculinity.

Also amongst the contenders for this prestigious £20,000 prize are: American novelist and international bestseller Patricia Lockwood for No One is Talking About This, hermeditation on love, language and human connection which was also shortlisted for The Booker Prize; Sri Lankan writer Anuk Arudpragasam for his masterful novel, A Passage North, also shortlisted for The Booker Prize which explores age and youth, as well as loss and survival in the wake of Sri Lanka’s 30-year civil war; and Brandon Taylor’sFilthy Animals that brings together quietly devastating stories of young people caught up in violence and desire, while longing for intimacy.

The six strong shortlist was selected by a judging panel chaired by co-founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival and award-winning author Namita Gokhale, alongside an impressive panel of judges including Welsh novelist, playwright, and winner of the 2006 Dylan Thomas Prize Rachel Trezise; celebratedpoet and novelist Luke Kennard,winner of the 2021 Forward poetry prize; novelist and Swansea University lecturer Alan Bilton; and Nigerian-British author Irenosen Okojie who was awarded an MBE For Services to Literature in 2021.

The Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes as well as the world’s largest literary prize for young writers. Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the Prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama.

Namita Gokhale, Chair of Judges, said: “The longlist for the 2022 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize was one of the strongest ever. The jury has whittled this down to a shortlist that is riveting and compelling on so many levels. It presents a rich diversity of accomplished young and debut voices, and their explorations of the poetic, the historical, and the contemporary.”

The Winner’s Ceremony will be held in Swansea on 12th May, two days before International Dylan Thomas Day.

#CoverReveal APPLES NEVER FALL by LIANNE MORIARTY @MichaelJBooks #ApplesNeverFall

Delighted to be able to share with you a cover reveal for the Summer today courtesy of Michael Joseph books.  One book you don’t want to miss out on this Summer!

 ‘A tour-de-force of a novel; brilliantly plotted and superbly written . . . The tension builds to a conclusion alive with ingenious twists. Smart, sharp and utterly riveting’ DAILY MAIL
‘Utterly and completely wonderful. I’ve loved all of Liane’s books but Apples Never Fall is next-level writing: an intelligent, forensic portrait of a family’ MARIAN KEYES

‘A fantastic storyteller. Apples Never Fall is gripping, getting to the dark underbelly of a seemingly perfect family. A cracking read’ ITV’s LORRAINE KELLY

_______The Delaney family love one another dearly – it’s just that sometimes they want to murder each other . . .

Joy Delaney and husband Stan have done well. Four wonderful grown-up children. A family business to envy. The golden years of retirement ahead of them.

So when Joy Delaney vanishes – no note, no calls, her bike missing – it’s natural that tongues will wag.

How did Stan scratch his face? And who was the stranger who entered and suddenly left their lives? What are they all hiding?But for the Delaney children there is a much more terrifying question: did they ever know their parents at all?_______‘An engrossing mashup of family drama and psychological suspense that offers a mystery. Complex and satisfying. Perfect holiday reading’ GUARDIAN

‘The perfect mix of edge-of-your-seat plotting, well-crafted characters and a satisfying ending’ 
GOOD HOUSEKEEPING

‘Clever & relatable . . . Explores sibling bonds, parental relationships & how events can change your future forever’ 
WOMAN & HOME

PURCHASE LINK

AMAZON

🍎🍎🍎

#GuestPost KEEPING UP WITH THE KERSHAWS by HELEN BUCKLEY #Extract @ChocLituk @HelenCBuckley

So happy to be with you today to share an exclusive extract from the rather fabulous KEEPING UP WITH THE KERSHAWS by HELEN BUCKLEY, which was released yesterday. If you’ve not got your copy, WHY NOT?!!!  Go grab yours now! You will not be disappointed!! I promise!! 

Over to Helen with the exclusive extract for you to enjoy!!

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Exclusive Extract: Keeping Up with the Kershaws by Helen Buckley

Yesterday Helen Buckley celebrated the release of her fourth book with Choc Lit, Keeping up with the Kershaws – the Kershaws being a family with so much drama they could give the Kardashians a run for their money! Are you ready to meet ruthless ice queen Portia, master manipulator Gabriel, Botox fanatic Arabella, and ladies’ man Rafe, as well as poor Karrie Morgan, the devoted carer to the Kershaws’ father, who has to put up with them all? Read this extract and see if you can resist finding out what happens next …

From: Keeping Up with the Kershaws by Helen Buckley

Karrie

Karrie knocked gently on the heavy oak door. She traced the whorls of the wood with her fingertips as she waited for a reply. It often took Harold a moment to respond when he was taking his afternoon rest, and she didn’t want to rush him.

The balmy summer air breezed in from the open windows where the hallway overlooked the gardens. Karrie breathed in the scent of the grass, freshly mown that morning by the gardener. The birds were in fine voice as they serenaded the sky, an endless cornflower blue without a cloud in sight. It was the most beautiful July day and Karrie hoped Harold might like to go for a stroll in the gardens that afternoon.

Karrie rested her fingers on the door and nudged it open a little way.

‘Harold?’ she called softly. ‘It’s 4 p.m. I’ve got your tea.’

The room remained silent and dark. Karrie pushed the door open further, feeling invasive, but knowing Harold prized his routine and would need his medication soon.

She could make out a rumpled figure on the bed, seemingly undisturbed by her entrance. She went to the window and opened the heavy curtains halfway to allow the sunshine to permeate the dark cool air, and turned to Harold. The world-renowned antiquities expert lay still and quiet, curled up on top of the covers.

Karrie paused, her eyes tracing his features, taking in the slack jaw and the waxy skin, a wan pallor unusual even for a man who hated the sun. Her chest tightened and her breathing became shallow as she knew instinctively that something was very wrong. She put a hand to her mouth and tried to will herself to move forwards, but her feet wouldn’t budge.

She wanted to cry out and she opened her mouth, but she couldn’t make any sound. Instead she heaved a ragged gasp, dropping onto her knees, knowing that there was nothing to be done, knowing that from this moment on her world would be very different.

It was quite clear to Karrie that Harold Kershaw was dead.

Rafe

Rafe scowled with annoyance as his phone rang. The jarring ringtone, which he kept meaning to change, completely disrupted his focus on his eyebrows, which needed some work before his club appearance that evening. He needed to finish getting ready and he wasn’t in the mood for chit-chat.

He glanced over at the phone to see his sister’s name flashing at him, the persistent shrill ringing as irritating as seeing her name on the screen. Rafe carried on tweezing. Portia could wait.

He sighed with relief when the phone fell silent, only for it to start ringing again almost immediately. He frowned at it and set down his tweezers with a groan of frustration. He checked his appearance in the mirror, neatened a stray hair or two, and swiped the phone off the table, stabbing at the answer button.

‘Portia, I’m just in the middle of something …’ he began, but his eldest sister’s voice cut him off before he could make an excuse for dodging her calls.

‘Daddy’s dead,’ Portia announced. Though the words she said were far from ordinary, she spoke in her usual icy tone, devoid of emotion, and entirely brusque. Despite her voice being instantly recognisable, Rafe still wondered if this was a prank call, so unbelievable were the words she had just said.

‘Wait, what?’ he said. He must have heard her wrong.

Portia sighed and he could imagine her tapping her immaculate nails impatiently on the nearest hard surface.

‘Daddy’s dead,’ she repeated.

‘He’s dead,’ Rafe repeated dully.

‘Yes, that’s what I said. Dead.’

‘How? When?’ Rafe sat down on the bed, the energy draining from his legs as the news began to sink in. His chest felt heavy as he tried to take a deep breath, but all he could manage was a shallow gasp.

‘He passed away this afternoon, while he was taking his nap,’ Portia said. ‘Apparently it wasn’t painful.’

Rafe detected a slight softening in her voice as she said it. Even Portia wasn’t made entirely of stone, he thought, despite being known for her flinty nature.

‘That’s good,’ he said. The words sounded flat and odd to him, the lack of emotion in his voice not reflecting the turmoil in his head where all his thoughts were suddenly entangled with so many memories. He put a hand to his mouth as a powerful wave of sadness crashed over him, and he swallowed hard against the lump in his throat.

‘What happens now?’ he asked, knowing Portia and Gabriel would sort everything. Although he had suffered under their authoritative and manipulative dominion when he was younger, in some ways it was a relief knowing that his two eldest siblings would have everything under control at a time like this. He didn’t need, and wasn’t expected, to take responsibility. They would never have let him anyway.

‘We’re going to start making funeral arrangements. I’ll text you the details of when to come to the house to meet,’ Portia said, as if she were discussing a business meeting and this were merely a work call rather than a family tragedy. She hung up before Rafe could reply.

He sat for a moment, his hands twisting in the sheets, trying to remember the last time he had seen his dad. He felt a chill shiver of shame run through him when he realised it had been over six months ago, at Christmas. Since then he had been too busy wrapping up filming the latest series of Raised in Richmond and trying to find other projects, to visit his elderly father.

He flopped backwards onto the bed and lay down with a heavy sigh. He would have to cancel his club appearance tonight, he thought; a shame as he was really desperate for a drink right now. He reached out to the bedside table, where a glass stood with a double Scotch he had poured sometime last night and fallen asleep before drinking. It would do for this moment when he didn’t want to move off the bed. He extended his arm and grabbed the glass, tipping the tepid amber liquid down his throat with a single flick of his wrist.

He closed his eyes for a moment and thought back to Christmas, remembering how his dad’s hazel eyes, misty with cataracts, had been brightened by the candles and the Christmas lights. Rafe scrolled through the photos on his phone, looking for photos of them together, but there weren’t any recent ones. The last one he had was from two years ago at a garden party, when Raised in Richmond had the best ratings it had ever had, and his engagement to Megara was all over the magazines. He and his dad were standing side by side, clinking a glass. His dad’s usual solemn expression was lightened, a real pleasure sparkling in his eyes. Rafe would have liked to think that his dad’s joyful look was to do with the success of Raised in Richmond, but he knew that was unlikely. His dad’s happiness that day was caused by the success of his fundraiser, and not anything that Rafe had achieved.

He clicked on the photo and uploaded it to Instagram to share with his 900,000 followers, carefully choosing the best filter, cropping out a little of the background so he and his dad were framed exactly in the centre of the image.

#RIPdad. He typed the caption, and pressed Share. He waited for the inevitable slew of likes and comments and buried his face in his pillow to allow his grief to finally take hold.

© Helen Buckley

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About the Book:

What do you do when your life becomes more dramatic than reality TV?

As the devoted carer for famous antique expert Harold Kershaw, Karrie Morgan was always happy to keep a professional distance from his four spoilt grown-up children, who rarely made time for their father. But then a surprise involving Harold’s Will means Karrie is flung headlong into a press scandal, and into the chaotic world of the surviving Kershaws.

With the support of her trusted childhood friend Andrew, mild-mannered Karrie must face down ruthless ice queen Portia, master manipulator Gabriel, Botox fanatic Arabella, and ladies’ man Rafe, star of reality TV show Raised in Richmond … although perhaps not as fake and flashy as he initially seems?

As vicious rumours circulate and Karrie’s past comes back to haunt her, she struggles to know who to trust. Can she keep up with the Kershaws’ schemes?

Buying links: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3NkarLM

 Kobo: https://bit.ly/3wyer5n 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3LjiQ0d 

Nook: https://bit.ly/3DasoYi

About the Author: 

Helen Buckley lives in Bedfordshire with her husband and two sons. After working in the charity sector in the UK and abroad, she turned her hand to writing and her first novel, Star in the Shadows, was published in 2019. She writes any moment that she can, enthralled by stories of fame, romance and happy ever afters. Apart from being addicted to writing and enjoying soft play with her sons, she’s an avid reader, action-movie fan and chocolate addict.

Find out more about Helen here:

https://www.facebook.com/Helenbuckleyauthor

https://www.instagram.com/helencatherinebuckley/

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My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 26th March 2022

Hello and Happy Saturday!!  Weather has been absolutely glorious here this week and the butterflies are already out in force making me very happy!! I do love chasing them around to get a photo!

And on to another happy – books! I’ve actually been much slower reading recently and I’m not sure what it is!  The TBR mountain hasn’t disappeared, but I’m just not picking up and racing through the books like I have done! Hopefully things will pick up after my brain has been given a little break!  But I still managed to finish 2 books this week and there may have been some purchasing going on too! Oops!!

Here’s my look back…

BOOKS FINISHED

THE WINTER SEA by SUSANNA KEARSLEY – 4 STARS

THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO by TAYLOR JENKINS REID (audiobook) – 5 STARS

BOOKHAUL


none (yep, zero!) visits to Netgalley this week so no newbies!! BUT…


I received a copy of this from Tinder Press for review.

THE WILDERNESS by SARAH DUGUID

publication date – 21st July 2022

Once it was a family home. Now they are all at sea…

When Anna and David receive a phone call late one evening, their lives are upturned. Within minutes, they are travelling to the west coast of Scotland, preparing to care for two young sisters, tragically and suddenly orphaned.

It’s a beautiful place, the heather is in bloom, the birds wheel above the waves, the deer graze peacefully in the distance. But the large granite house is no longer a home for the girls, and Anna knows she can never take the place of their mother. Then David invites his friend to stay, to ‘ease them through’ and Anna finds herself increasingly isolated, with everything she – and the girls – once knew of life discarded and overruled by a man of whom she is deeply suspicious.

And then I had a little shopping spree over at SALT PUBLISHING because, why not!!

THE RETREAT by ALISON MOORE

Since childhood, Sandra Peters has been fascinated by the small, private island of Lieloh, home to the reclusive silent-film star Valerie Swanson. Having dreamed of going to art college, Sandra is now in her forties and working as a receptionist, but she still harbours artistic ambitions. When she sees an advert for a two-week artists’ retreat on Lieloh, Sandra sets out on what might be a life-changing journey.

WHITE SPINES by NICHOLAS ROYLE

White Lines is about Nicholas Royle’s passion for Picador’s fiction publishing from the 1970s to the end of the 1990s. It explores the bookshops and charity shops, the books themselves and the way a unique collection grew and became a literary obsession.

’ELEPHANT by PAUL PICKERING

In a country house in England a precocious teenage exile from revolutionary Russia sets down his adventures on paper, beginning with his first ball in St Petersburg and how he frees a huge African elephant from a cruel circus. But a hundred years later an American academic feels the boy may have invented the elephant as the only kind and uplifting being in dark times.

CURRENTLY READING

THE BOOKSHOP OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS by EMILY BLAINE


HAPPY READING

#BlogTour THE GREEN INDIAN PROBLEM by JADE LEAF WILLETTS #BookReview @renardpress @jade_leaf_w

Delighted to be with you today for my turn on the Blog Tour for the wonderful THE GREEN INDIAN PROBLEM by JADE LEAF WILLETTS.

My thanks to the author, and publisher for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Green Indian Problem by Jade Leaf Willetts

ISBN: 9781913724528

Paperback • 208pp • £10

30th March 2022

Set in the valleys of South Wales at the tail end of Thatcher’s Britain, The Green Indian Problem is the story of Green, a seven year-old with intelligence beyond his years – an ordinary boy with an extraordinary problem: everyone thinks he’s a girl.

Green sets out to try and solve the mystery of his identity, but other issues keep cropping up – God, Father Christmas, cancer – and one day his best friend goes missing, leaving a rift in the community and even more unanswered questions. Dealing with deep themes of friendship, identity, child abuse and grief, The Green Indian Problem is, at heart, an all-too-real story of a young boy trying to find out why he’s not like the other boys in his class.

Longlisted for the Bridport Prize (in the Peggy Chapman-Andrews category)

Jade Leaf Willetts is a writer from Llanbradach, a strange, beautiful village in South Wales. He writes about extraordinary characters in ordinary worlds and has a penchant for unreliable narrators. The Green Indian Problem, his first novel, was longlisted for the 2020 Bridport Prize in the Peggy Chapman-Andrews category. Jade’s poetry has been published by Empty Mirror, PoV Magazine and Unknown Press. His short story, ‘An Aversion to Popular Amusements’ was shortlisted for the inaugural Janus Literary Prize. He is currently working on a coming of age follow-up to The Green Indian Problem.

Resource links:

Author’s website: https://jadeleafwilletts.com 

Purchase links:

Renard Press: https://renardpress.com/books/the-green-indian-problem/

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-green-indian-problem/j-l-willetts/9781913724528 

Bookshop.org: https://uk.bookshop.org/books/the-green-indian-problem/9781913724528 


Blackwells: https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/The-Green-Indian-Problem-by-J-L-Willetts-author/9781913724528

MY REVIEW

Don’t you just love it when you discover a character that you take to your heart immediately?! That is what happened when I started reading the story of Green – a 7 year old boy who is very very smart, but disappointed by those around him who think he’s a girl!  He just wants to discover who he is and that isn’t easy when society keeps pushing you in a direction where you don’t feel comfortable.

Green is a switched on little boy, and  a typical kid who questions everything. He wants answers and he isn’t afraid to ask questions.  His parents live apart and he has a strong dislike for Dennis, the boyfriend of  his mum as he sees the way he treats her and knows it is very wrong. 

While Green is dealing with home issues, he’s also dealing with pressures at school and all that society throws his way expecting him to be someone he isn’t.  Set amongst the backdrop of the 80’s, I loved all the retro references and it really sets the scene perfectly.   And anyone who loves Ghostbusters is fine by me!!

When his best friend from school goes missing, Green is plunged into a dark time in his life where he just wants to find out the truth of what happened and uses his inquisitive mind to good use to get some answers and you just can’t help but be swept along with the gusto of this gutsy little boy who just wants to be himself and be accepted.

This was just an utter delight to read and really made you feel so protective towards Green.  He sees the world in very simple terms and makes you wish that more people could see things his way!!  Wonderful!

★★★★★

#GuestPost IT’S ONLY ROCK AND ROLL by BERNI STEVENS #PublicationDay @ChocLituk @Berni_Stevens1

Hello and welcome!! Happy Tuesday and also Happy Publication Day to the fabulous BERNI STEVENS for the release of IT’S ONLY ROCK AND ROLL!!!

And to celebrate that fact, I’m handing over the blog to her today so she can share an excerpt from the book with you… and then you can rush out and buy yourself a copy as it’s another wonderful book from her!!

Over to you Berni….

Exclusive Release Day Extract: It’s Only Rock and Roll by Berni Stevens

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in a relationship with an internationally famous rock star? Would you travel with him? Or would you stay at home, following your own career path? Can you even imagine what it must be like going to every social occasion alone, because your man’s away on the other side of the world?

How fragile the balance within the band must be sometimes, and how easily it can all go horribly wrong. Everything could collapse in a drumbeat if that balance is upset.

There’s the soaring egos amongst the band’s main personnel, the competition and the jealousies, and then there’s the girlfriends and wives …

Here’s a couple of sneaky peeks at the book, firstly when Izzy and Seth arrive in Adelaide for the final leg of the tour before everyone enjoys a few weeks’ holiday, followed by Izzy’s arrival at Seth’s beautiful country pile in Sussex …

I hope you enjoy them.

Berni x

From: It’s Only Rock and Roll by Berni Stevens

Seth cast a cursory look over their cases and nodded.

‘All there,’ he said.

One less thing to worry about. Their luggage had arrived safely with them in Adelaide and not careered off to Bangkok.

Zach was indeed waiting with Anna in Arrivals, standing with a bunch of other drivers all holding up notices. Zach’s said: Mr Rock God and his lovely lady. Seth laughed aloud when he saw it, and Izzy, in spite of the weird feeling that she’d somehow landed on a different planet, joined in.

‘Hey man, how’s it going?’ He shook hands with Zach and dropped a kiss on Anna’s cheek. ‘How’s my second favourite girl?’

‘Good to have you back,’ said Zach. ‘Really.’

‘Sounds ominous.’ Seth shot him a look.

‘Nothing you can’t sort,’ said Zach quickly. ‘The odious Sophie arrived a couple of days ago.’

Seth rolled his eyes. ‘Now I know it’s ominous.’

‘Sophie?’ Izzy looked at Anna, fearing Sophie might be another Gracie, and, to be honest, one of those was enough for any one lifetime. Gracie was one of Seth’s ex-girlfriends – demanding, jealous and verging on stalker-like.

‘The love of Jonno’s life – apparently,’ said Anna. ‘Interfering and really annoying – just like the woman in Spinal Tap.’

‘I’m betting Iz has never seen Spinal Tap,’ said Seth with a grin. He raised his eyebrows at Izzy in question.

‘Sounds like an affliction,’ muttered Izzy.

‘In all the years I’ve worked for the band, I’ve never ever known Gina and Caz to argue. They’re like twin sisters, but the moment she arrived, they’ve been arguing,’ said Anna with a sigh.

Seth frowned. ‘Over what?’

‘Sophie “borrowed” Caz’s personal mic, so she could sing Jonno’s track yesterday. Without asking I might add, and her voice is bloody awful. When challenged, she told Caz that Gina said she could use it, so it was Gina who got yelled at.’

Izzy didn’t know much about band politics, but even she knew personal equipment was just that – personal.

‘What fun she’s having,’ said Seth grimly.

***

The gates clanged shut behind her, and she drove up towards the property. The beautiful red-brick Tudor house came into view after the first bend in the drive. She remembered the first time he’d brought her here, and it did feel strange to just turn up without him. Almost voyeuristic. He must trust me implicitly to allow me to come here, she thought. The London flat was one thing, but this was his special place: his retreat from the mad world of rock and roll. And yet he’d allowed her in without any doubts at all, it appeared.

Unsure where she should park, Izzy followed the sweeping drive round to the back of the house, to the big wooden door she knew opened on to his very impressive kitchen – the kitchen nobody ever cooked in. A gunmetal coloured VW Golf was parked under the trees opposite the back door, so Izzy parked next to it, wondering who it belonged to. She got out of her car and stretched, feeling the need to walk off the hours spent driving.

The back door opened, and a sturdy-looking woman with grey-streaked brown hair pulled back in a severe bun stepped out.

‘You Isabelle?’ she called.

‘That’s me,’ said Izzy.

‘I’m Sarah, Seth’s housekeeper.’

Another housekeeper. Izzy really hoped she didn’t live in.

‘Hello, Sarah,’ she said, hauling her case out of the boot. ‘How’s everything?’

‘Quiet with Seth away,’ Sarah replied with a quick survey of Izzy’s belongings. ‘How long are you here for?’

‘I’m not sure yet.’ Suddenly Izzy didn’t feel very welcome.

‘I don’t cook,’ Sarah continued. ‘You’ll have to fend for yourself. And I don’t clean either. I’m only here now to see you in.’

‘Fair enough,’ said Izzy, wondering what, in fact, she did do. ‘I’ve brought supplies, and I’ll be visiting my family a fair bit too.’

‘Couldn’t stay with them then?’

Izzy hid an inward sigh. This woman would take some winning over, it seemed.

‘I could have, yes,’ was all she said. She continued pulling bags of supermarket shopping out of the boot, and her laptop bag, but decided to leave her wellies where they were. Something told her she shouldn’t appear to be moving in to this territorial woman. Slamming the boot shut, she locked the car and began taking her stuff into the kitchen. Sarah made no attempt to help, just continued standing in the wide doorway with her arms folded, so Izzy had to say ‘excuse me’ every time she wanted to get by.

‘There’s no milk either,’ she said, seemingly as a last ditch attempt to rattle Izzy.

‘I brought some,’ said Izzy abruptly, wishing the woman would just go home.

‘Or tea,’ she continued.

‘Don’t drink it,’ said Izzy, almost beginning to enjoy the exchange now.

‘Or coffee.’

Izzy burst out laughing. She couldn’t help it. What was her problem?

© Berni Stevens

About the Book:

Is the rock and roll lifestyle all it’s cracked up to be?

Being the girlfriend of a rock star isn’t all glitz and glamour – at least that’s what Izzy Grant has found since she started dating Seth Roberts of Scarlet Gryphon fame; it’s actually a lot of waiting and wondering and worrying as Seth travels the world whilst she’s stuck in London. Can she ever rely on Mr Cool to settle down?

But rock gods get insecure too, and whilst Seth is jetting off to far-flung locations to perform sold-out shows, he worries that Izzy will find a “Joe Normal” and opt for a more ordinary life. Plus, he could do with some support when a certain entitled rock star girlfriend gets too big for her Jimmy Choos and threatens to break up the band.

There is a solution, but are either of them willing to take the plunge?

Buying links: 

Kindle: https://amzn.to/3q6cE3r 

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3taumEU

 Apple Books: https://apple.co/3IfN5Df 

Nook: https://bit.ly/3KMLs1C

About the Author: 

Berni Stevens lives in a four-hundred-year-old cottage in Hertfordshire, England, with her husband, son and black cat. She trained in graphic design and has worked as a book cover designer for more than twenty years.

Books and art remain her passion, and her love of the paranormal began when she first read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, aged fourteen. She is now on both the committee and the book panel of the Dracula Society, a society for fans of gothic literature and film.

Berni writes contemporary and fantasy romance.

Find out more about Berni here:

https://www.instagram.com/berni.stevens.5/

https://www.facebook.com/berni.stevens.5/

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 19th March 2022

Hello! The sunshine has returned and the butterflies are returning!! This lovely Comma was in my garden this week doing some sunbathing…. hopefully I’ll be joining him soon!!

On to books!  Another ok week on the book front! I seem to have slowed down speed wise as gardening is distracting me, but hopefully I can pick up the pace again soon! I did avoid NetGalley though and just made one book purchase!

Here’s my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED

DEATH AT FRIAR’S INN by ROB KEELEY – 5 STARS

THE PARIS APARTMENT by LUCY FOLEY – 4 STARS

WHISPERS UNDERGROUND by BEN AARONOVITCH (audiobook) – 4 STARS

BOOKHAUL

I treated myself to this beauty from Red Dog Press!

THE STONEBRIDGE MYSTERIES 1-6 by CHRIS MCDONALD

ABOUT THE SERIES:
Stonebridge is a small town on the north coast of Northern Ireland. Most of its inhabitants are friendly, happy people. Most of them... Because bad things happen even in the happiest of places. It’s a good thing, then, that Adam Whyte and Colin McLaughlin call Stonebridge home. Armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of detective shows, a misplaced sense of confidence and a keen desire to see justice done, these two are the closest thing the town has to saviours. Which isn’t that reassuring... Get your hands on this signed bookplated compilation of the first six books in the series. 
                  What's inside:
              The Curious Dispatch of Daniel Costello
               Dead in the Water
              Meat is Murder
        The Case of the Missing Firefly
Mistletoe and Crime
All at Sea

CURRENTLY READING

http://THE WINTER SEA by SUSANNA KEARSLEY

HAPPY READING!!

#BlogTour THE DAISY CHAIN by AL CAMPBELL #BookReview @RedDoorBooks

Delighted to be joining you today as part of the Blog Tour for the wonderful THE DAISY CHAIN by AL CAMPBELL.

My thanks to the author and publisher for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Kew Gardens, 1771. Four women – the first is Daisy, a talented orphaned botanical painter and scientist, newly arrived in London from Suffolk. The second is Fanny, her sister, locked in a loveless marriage with an oafish nobleman. The third, Kate, is an enslaved black lady’s maid. The fourth, Charlotte, Queen of England, uncomplaining but confined to a life bearing King George 15 children.

When Daisy meets eminent scientist Joseph Banks and not only becomes Artist in Residence at Kew Gardens, but ‘Lady-in-Painting’ to Queen Charlotte, life changes for everybody. However, whilst expecting a quiet and studious life, Daisy is unwittingly inveigled into espionage, tea smuggling and the ‘triangular trade’ by mysterious Dutchman Johannes Van der Humm.

When a fabulous flower is discovered in South Africa and sent back to Kew for the Queen’s birthday, the women little guess it offers a route to freedom. But only if Daisy can foil a plot to steal it from under the King’s nose. Who is friend and who is foe? Can she work out whom to trust before disaster strikes?

Set in an incredibly exciting period of history, The Daisy Chain is a pacy debut novel, brimming with adventure and romance.

PUBLISHED BY RED DOOR PRESS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

PUBLISHER WEBSITE SHOP

MY REVIEW

This was a wonderful historical romp! Combining my love of gardening, with some strong female characters, this was an exciting read from start to finish and does a wonderful job of transporting you back in time to a fascinating period of history and takes a look back at some of the excitement while new plants were being discovered, alongside the more questionable events of those years involving slavery.


After the death of her father Daisy has no option but to move to London to live with her sister and her unsufferable husband.  She becomes governess to her niece, but her true love is her artwork and she soon finds her work gets noticed in high places.  One of those being by the director of Kew Gardens who invites her to work for them, cataloguing all the new flowers and plants.


While there she ‘blossoms’ and becomes confidante to a royal visitor and I loved how the women were at the fore of this story!  She also catches the eye of a mystery Dutchman and finds herself wondering just who to trust.. one person definitely not worthy of trust is her sisters’ husband! Awful man!!


This book worked for me on many levels – especially that of the plant links alongside the royal mix!  And the fact that the story ventures into the darker side of life at the time with slavery and smuggling really added to the mix. It also gave a good insight into the excitement of the times with new things being discovered in far off lands and brought to these shores.


An exciting historical debut – looking forward to more from this author in the future!


★★★★

#BookReview THE THOUSAND EYES by A.K.LARKWOOD #TheThousandEyes

ABOUT THE BOOK

The sequel to A. K. Larkwood’s stunning debut fantasy, The Unspoken NameThe Thousand Eyes continues The Serpent Gates series–perfect for fans of Jenn Lyons, Joe Abercrombie, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

Two years ago, Csorwe and Shuthmili defied the wizard Belthandros Sethennai and stole his gauntlets. The gauntlets have made Shuthmili extraordinarily powerful, but they’re beginning to take a sinister toll on her. She and Csorwe travel to a distant world to discover how to use the gauntlets safely, but when an old enemy arrives on the scene, Shuthmili finds herself torn between clinging to her humanity and embracing eldritch power.

Meanwhile, Tal Charossa returns to Tlaanthothe to find that Sethennai has gone missing. As well as being a wizard of unimaginable power, Sethennai is Tal’s old boss and former lover, and Tal wants nothing to do with him. When a magical catastrophe befalls the city, Tal tries to run rather than face his past, but soon learns that something even worse may lurk in the future. Throughout the worlds of the Echo Maze, fragments of an undead goddess begin to awaken, and not all confrontations can be put off forever…

 PUBLISHED BY TOR BOOKS


PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon


Blackwell’s  £12.99


MY REVIEW

This was a fitting end to an exciting duology and what a journey we’ve been on in the 2 books!! Thankfully there was a little refresh at the start of this book to help me get back on track with the characters, so it all came back to me and the story hits the ground running and doesn’t really let up until that final page!It’s 2 years on since the last book and life for Csorwe and Shuthmili still finding ways to earn a living with tomb raiding being their favourite way! but that also throws up a discovery that changes their lives – yet again! – and lets the story take you on a completely different journey to what you were expecting. The twists and turns again are epic and that’s all I can say about them! But they work! They don’t take away from the character dynamics, but allows growth and because you grow so attached to these characters it also becomes quite emotional, especially with all the drama they are to face.

Tal was great again in this book especially the banter with Csorwe and you just felt like you were among friends as the characters have been so well fleshed out over these 2 books.

It flows really well, never lulls in action or snark, and I will miss the world created and the characters that inhabit it!!

★★★★

my thanks to Tor Books and Black Crow PR for the advanced copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BlogTour OUR LADY OF MYSTERIOUS AILMENTS by T.L.HUCHU #BookReview #OLOMA @UKTor @BlackCrow-PR

Delighted to be with you today as part of the awesome Blog Tour for the fabulous OUR LADY OF MYSTERIOUS AILMENTS by T.L.HUCHU. My thanks to the author, publisher and team at Black Crow PR for letting me be part of it all!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Some secrets are meant to stay buried

When Ropa Moyo discovered an occult underground library, she expected great things. She’s really into Edinburgh’s secret societies – but turns out they are less into her. So instead of getting paid to work magic, she’s had to accept a crummy unpaid internship. And her with bills to pay and a pet fox to feed.

Then her friend Priya offers her a job on the side. Priya works at Our Lady of Mysterious Maladies, a very specialized hospital, where a new illness is resisting magical and medical remedies alike. The first patient was a teenage boy, Max Wu, and his healers are baffled. If Ropa can solve the case, she might earn as she learns – and impress her mentor, Sir Callander.

Her sleuthing will lead her to a lost fortune, an avenging spirit and a secret buried deep in Scotland’s past. But how are they connected? Lives are at stake and Ropa is running out of time.

PUBLISHED BY PAN MACMILLAN

PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

MY REVIEW

The fun and intrigue continues here in Book 2 of the Edinburgh Nights series, and once more I couldn’t get enough!  The odd goings on continue and Ropa is at the heart of it all again as she is keen to find out more about the underground library, along with doing all she can to assist those in need, and take care of her family!

Her life as a ghosttalker means there’s never a dull moment, and they still pop up whenever they are in need of assistance and make it very difficult for her to ignore! No matter how hard she tries! Money is at the heart of the matter for her as she wants to help out more at home, with her grandmother and sister so when she’s offered money to help investigate some strange illnesses at the hospital she can’t turn it down and it leads to some rather shocking discoveries. She goes into full ‘detective’ mode as she tries to figure out who the patient – Max – was in touch with before he became ill and what he’s mixed up in that isn’t of this world!

I loved this latest installment!  There were no lulls, there’s great banter galore and you’re just drawn into this world so easily.  It has a really fresh feel about it and plenty of snark in the humour – I do love that aspect of a story!!  It has a great mix of the supernatural, the mystery, history and all things in between, and I think the character of Ropa is such a fascinating creature! She’s pro-active, hard working and has a great sense of fairness about it.  She could easily crumble but has this inner resilience that is really empowering!

Brilliant!!

★★★★★