One law for the Rest of Us – Blog Tour

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When Audrey Marshall sends her daughter Emily to the religious boarding school where she herself was educated a generation before, memories return – memories of a culture of child sexual abuse presided over by a highly-regarded priest. Audrey turns to barrister Ben Schroeder in search of justice for Emily and herself. But there are powerful men involved, men determined to protect themselves at all costs. Will they succeed? Is there indeed one law for the rich and powerful, and one law for…?

I was so excited to be invited onto the Blog Tour for One Law For The Rest Of Us, the newest Ben Schroeder thriller by Peter Murphy.  Thank you so much to the lovely Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part on the tour and for introducing me to a completely new writer that I might not have discovered otherwise.

I was really intrigued by the premise of this book and I was totally drawn in, both by the captivating storyline and the well drawn characters of this shocking and compelling read.  It will make you think hard about how just our justice system actually is and how the laws are enforced and for whose benefit too…

I was delighted after finishing this book to discover that it was the sixth book in a series featuring the sharp mind of  barrister Ben Schroeder. Don’t be put off by the fact that it has 5 predecessors though – because although this is the sixth book featuring Ben and his talents,  it also works as a stand alone read  and I did not feel that my reading experience was affected by my lack of awareness of what had gone before. I’m actually excited to ‘travel back in time’ with Ben and treat myself to some of his other cases over the Christmas Break…

 

 

The case in question, in this sixth book concerns the awful news that Audrey Marshall discovers – that her daughter has been abused at the boarding school she went to years before. This discovery sets a whole chain of events in motion as she is determined to find out who has done this to her daughter. Her efforts, herculean though they are, are increasingly thwarted by people working from within – who seem determined to cover up the truth at any cost.

This novel is so compelling because you can absolutely believe in it – it’s all too real at times that sometimes people in power can work together to suppress information or keep secrets hidden so that crimes can continue undetected. Audrey’s situation is fictional – but Audrey clearly represents so many people who feel like they have been battling to get recognition and justice for things that happened to them and were ignored and silenced for far too long.

If this is a sensitive subject for you, then you might find certain aspects of the plot quite difficult – although the topic is dealt with compassionately and with sensitivity in this novel. It really allows you an inside seat at the investigation of these matters and you might rethink your attitudes to some things that you might never have thought about before reading this thought provoking read.

If you like being drawn into a story and feeling really immersed in it, you will find much to admire here. I feel like Peter Murphy’s own professional background gives a real feeling of plausibility to this book and that’s maybe why I’m so keen to go on and read the rest of the series. It’s far more Silks than LA Law and its attention to detail and slow build of information and burden of proof evidence is extremely well done and will make you think harder about the hard work and dedication that goes into putting people behind bars every single day of the year in the law courts of our land. .

 

One Law For The Rest Of Us is out 13 December and you can pre-order a copy here.

If you enjoyed this insight and would like yto hear what thew other bloggers had to say about One Law For The Rest Of Us, then you can follow the rest of the tour at these sites

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Writer On The Shelf

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Peter Murphy graduated from Cambridge University and spent a career in the law, as an advocate, teacher, and judge. He has worked both in England and the United States, and served for several years as counsel at the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

He has written seven novels: two political thrillers about the US presidency, Removal and Test of Resolve; five historical/ legal thrillers featuring Ben Schroeder, A Higher Duty, A Matter For The Jury, And Is There Honey Still For Tea?, The Heirs of Owain Glyndwr and Calling Down the Storm.

He is also the author of Walden of Bermondsey and Judge Walden: Back in Session and Judge Walden: Call The Next Case, which is due to be published in 2019.

 Peter’s own Website

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The Importance of Being Aisling – Blog Tour

 

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You can take the small-town girl out of the big city – but can you take the big city out of the girl?
Job. Flat. Boyfriend. Tick. Tick. Tick.
Aisling (seems) to be winning at life. But life has other ideas.
Fired. Homeless. Dumped. Tick. Tick. Tick.
When everything comes crashing down around her, moving back in with her mam seems like a disaster.
But might returning to her roots provide the answers Aisling’s looking for?

So I am a confirmed fan of Aisling. I have bought precisely 9 copies for friends’ birthdays, talked about it to everyone at my Book Group and tweeted about it incessantly. I was SO excited to be emailed and invited on the tour for #TOIBA , I can’t even tell you! Aisling has become a real word-of-mouth phenomenon and I am so thrilled to be part of it.  I don’t think you have to be from Ireland to recognise an Aisling and I think that whether you’ve met one, are best pals with one or are an Aisling, you’re going to love this book just as much as #OMGWACA – and I bloody loved that!

 

I’d like to thank Olivia Thomas from Penguin  for inviting me on the tour and recommend that you follow it and see what all the other fab bloggers had to say about this unfogettable sequel. I loved it so much I had to make a #GIF in its honour!

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Author John Boyne has said: “Aisling is the real Voice of Ireland, and I couldn’t agree more. I had the nervousness you get when you’ve REALLY LOVED a book and you’re opening the first page of the sequel – that ‘It can’t possibly be as funny and engaging and dead-on as OMGWACA FEELING…’

However, all of my fears were groundless lads! – I literally could not put this book down, I was so caught up in Aisling’s journey and I’m sure you will be too. Her combination of modern woman and old fashioned romantic; good daughter with streak of rebellion and country girl with city dweller mean that everyone can identify with her – she’s a representation of all the things that we all struggle with in modern life – how to be ourselves in a world that’s always telling us that our plain old self just isn’t good enough.. It’s hard to feel like that – that your life is just waiting to begin and if only this one thing happened then everything else will just fall into place. Even if for you it wasn’t a white frock and a feck-off reception at a swanky venue , you’ll still be able to connect with Aisling’s feeling of ‘Why me’ when her life plan which seemed so logical, just never seems to pan out the way she expects it to…

This sequel retains all of the familiar Aisling qualities that you loved and adds some new ingredients into the mix as she grows up and begins to see the world in a slightly less rose-tinted way. I loved the idea behind this book: that our future might not always be written the way that we think it is and that we can change our destiny without having to leave behind the things which make us our essential selves. There’s surely a lesson for all of us there as Aisling grits her teeth and gets on with things, even when its something as shattering as  the death of her beloved father and this sequel lets us see that this very relatable character has real-life struggles coping with this, but get on with life she does. His posthumous advice for her to get herself ‘something nice’ would bring a tear to a glass eye and was just one more reason why I love this book so much.

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Aisling definitely isn’t just for an Irish audience though, there is lots here that you’ll recognise wherever you grew up. I totally fell for Aisling; she’s my favourite fictional character that I’ve ‘met’ as an adult and that’s some competition!   I think that what I love about her most is that she is uncompromisingly herself throughout both books- regardless of what life throws at her or how much her life differs from her original hopes and dreams

This is the kind of book you’ll be buying for all your friends and begging them to read as you will want to spend hours talking about Aisling and thinking of all the ways you’ve either been like her or met someone who’s done exactly the same thing.

I loved the story behind the book too:

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Authors Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen are Aislings. Maybe not complete Aislings but about 42%. The Aisling character was conceived in their sitting room in 2008, when they began to observe the many traits, characteristics and quirks of a very particular type of Irish girl; one they identified around them and one they identified with.

The Aisling character started as an in-joke between two best friends on a Facebook group which now boasts nearly 50,000 followers – you can’t get much more of a phenomenon than that, surely. I cannot wait to see this brought to the screen and know that I’m going to absolutely love it, given the pair’s writing credentials, I think it’s going to be amazing!

 

Check them out over on Facebook ~ Oh My God What a Complete Aisling

And check out some of the other fantastic bloggers on the tour – I loved hearing what they thought about Aisling and I love it when they reveal their own wee Aisling moments in their review. Mine was breaking up with an ex boyfriend and leaving a whole uni folder at his flat – then having to go back after my grand exit and shamefacedly retrieve my folder of notes on 18th-century poetry whilst totally avoiding the sniggers of his flatmates who had totally been slagging me off as I arrived.

There’s a wee bit of Aisling in us all – I recommend you get out and treat yourself to a copy so that you can find out for yourself how much of an Aisling you really are…

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Writers On The Shelf

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​Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen conceived the character of Aisling in their sitting room in 2008, when they began to observe the many traits, characteristics and quirks of a very particular type of Irish girl; one they identified around them and one they identified with.
Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling was an instant sensation in their native Ireland and the Number One bestselling adult fiction title of 2017.
Emer McLysaght is the former editor of The Daily Edge and has worked extensively in journalism and radio.
Sarah Breen is a journalist whose work has appeared in Stellar, Image, U, the Irish Independent and The Gloss.

 

 

URBANE Extravaganza – Her Secret

You know something.

You can’t share it.

You can’t discuss it.

You can’t stop thinking about it.

Audrey Fox never thought she’d tie the knot, especially after wasting eight years of her life with a man who couldn’t commit. But at the age of forty-two, fate throws her a lifeline and she finally has it all; gorgeous husband, thriving career, beautiful family and fabulous friends. Life couldn’t be better….until someone tells her a secret at a boozy dinner party; something that she wishes she could unhear; something that could wreck lives.

Burdened by the secret, Audrey’s perfect life begins to spiral out of control and the cracks begin to show. She longs to tell her husband but is fearful of the consequences; she’s desperate to discuss it with her friends, but her hands are tied. Then one morning, on impulse, Audrey does something drastic, but will she live to regret it? Because there’s no smoke without fire and everyone has secrets…don’t they?

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So excited to be participating in Kelly’s from #LoveBooksGroupTours‘s Urbane Extravaganza today, where I’ll be introducing an extract from the fantastic ‘Her Secret’ by Kelly Florentia.
Dip into Chapter One below and I guarantee that you won’t want to stop there…
Urbane have a fantastic list at the moment so keep your eyes on the hashtag #UrbaneExtravaganza and see what other fantastic recommendations the other bloggers are suggesting.
There will be something for everyone and just in time for Christmas too!
CHAPTER 1
IF YOU COULD TURN BACK TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU DO
DIFFERENTLY?
I stare at the swirly white writing set against the backdrop of a
sunset in wry amusement. It’s just the type of thing you’d expect
from Vicky, right up her street. I heart my sister-in-law’s Instagram
post, just to show my support, notching up her likes to thirty-six.
She’ll love that. I don’t bother adding a comment to the twenty-four
already listed. I’m not into dwelling on the past, not anymore.
I’ve let go – moved on. I’m a new woman now with a new name.
I slide my thumb up lazily, a picture of a fluffy cat fills the screen
followed by a bouquet of flowers, then a photo of my gorgeous
nephews with George, my brother, looking awful, eyes half closed,
mouth ajar. George will have a fit when he sees it. I laugh as I pinch
the screen to zoom in, but as I gaze at their familiar faces on my
iPhone, curiosity burns in my chest like a hot rod. I flick back to
Vicky’s meme and click on ‘View all 24 comments.’ A quick peek
at what her followers think won’t hurt, will it?
Comment 1: I’d stay on at school – Did that and came away with
two A levels, not a great help in my job as a junior web designer
but nice to have all the same.
Comment 2: I would have had my kids later in life – of no
interest. I slide my thumb up the screen.
Comment 3 (from someone called xx_timetraveller_x99): I’d
travel more – I’m not that keen on flying, to be honest. The furthest
I’ve travelled is the four and a half hour flight to Cyprus, and that
was only to visit my parents, because, much too my protest, they
retired there earlier this year. But no sooner had I waved them
off at Heathrow Airport blubbing hysterically like a five-year-old
child abandoned by her parents, than I was sipping a vodka and
tonic on a British Airways flight to Larnaca. Pathetic, I know, for
a grown, married woman. What can I say? I miss them terribly.
Comment 4: I’d have started using anti-wrinkle cream as soon
as I could read! – I snort at that one. I suppose we’d all like to turn
the clock back where youth is concerned. Although, thanks to my
mum’s genes, I’m often told I look much younger than my fortytwo
years. I certainly feel it.
I read the next few comments with a smile on my face. Vicky’s
got some amusing friends, no wonder she spends so much time
on social media, despite my brother’s protests. But it’s the eighth
comment that catches my attention. That makes me sit bolt upright
in my seat.
Comment 8: I wouldn’t have rushed into marriage.
The writing becomes a blur and I have to blink a few times,
then as I glance up at the road I cry out in horror. “Watch out!” My
mobile phone almost hits the dashboard as Fearne presses hard
on the brakes bringing us to a screeching halt at the traffic lights
on Archway Road. “Flipping hell, Fearne,” I gasp, wishing that I’d
joined that long bus queue on Oxford Street instead of accepting
a lift home from my Formula 1 wannabe driver colleague. “You’re
going to get us killed!”
“It’s that bloody bell-end behind us,” she complains, glaring into
her rear view mirror, thin lips twisted in anger. “He’s been right up
our arse since sodding Camden. I mean, what’s the effing hurry?
We’re in rush hour traffic, for crying out loud.” She blows a loose
strand of wiry ash blonde hair off her sweaty forehead. Road rage.I’ve never succumbed to it but Daniel, my husband, is plagued
with it. In fact, I fear for my life each time I sit in the passenger seat
of his brand new white Audi Q7.
Twisting in my seat, I duck my head for a better view of the bellend,
seat belt digging into my shoulder. Fearne does have a point.
That black four-by-four tank of a car with its elusive dark tinted
windows is uncomfortably close to us. “Oh, don’t let him get to
you, Fearne, he’s an arsehole,” I say, returning to Instagram. “Just
let him overtake us, that’s what I always do with impatient drivers.”
Fearne ignores me and puts her foot down the moment the
lights turn amber, hands gripping the steering wheel tightly,
brows furrowed. The four-by-four keeps its distance for a while
then suddenly overtakes us, swerves past the two cars in front,
then disappears in a cloud of smoke, leaving an orchestra of car
horns from irate drivers behind him. I shake my head. “He can
add dangerous driving to his list. Where’s the police when you
need them?”
“Bloody idiot,” Fearne yells, shaking her fist, as if the driver can
see her. I smile as I sink back into my seat, and we travel the rest of
the journey in companionable silence. I, pondering on comment
eight, and she happily humming the tune of my ten-year-old
nephew’s favourite song by Little Mix.
“Where’s your yard, Audrey?” Fearne asks ten minutes later, slowing
down over a road bump. Fearne likes to keep up with the street
lingo. She thinks it’s cool, but doesn’t realise that it doesn’t sound so
hip coming from a middle aged woman driving a Fiat 500.
Putting my phone into standby, I shove it into the pocket of my
beige mackintosh. “Just over here on the right please, Fearne.”
Crunching the car into second gear, she pulls up outside my flat
on Dukes Avenue.“Nice pad,” she says, pressing her chest against the steering
wheel and eyeing-up the three-storey building. “I’ve always wanted
to live in Muswell Hill, but it’s bit too expensive for me,” she sniffs,
dabbing her nose. Fearne always seems to have a constant cold,
which she blames on a host of allergies. “I think I’ll be living in
my pokey two-bedroom flat in Edmonton forever,” she groans,
“You’re lucky to have a husband in the trade.”
I unzip my black leather Birkin. “I bought the flat long before I
married Daniel,” I say, fishing for my door keys in the abyss of my
handbag, which Daniel refers to as the Bermuda Triangle. But all
women’s bags are cluttered, aren’t they? It’s a girl thing.
Fearne looks at me, mouth agape. “Oh, gosh, Audrey. I’m so
sorry. Did you….I mean… was it…were you with, you know…?”
She waves the tatty tissue in the air and I instinctively jerk my
head back. I’ve got a thing about germs. I think it stems from
mum wearing a mask whenever she had a cold when George and
I were little. “Whatshisname?” Fearne says. I can virtually feel the
heat radiating from her red face; her dry hair looks as if it’s almost
standing on end. “When you bought the flat, I mean?”
“It’s okay, you can say his name, you know.” I fold my arms
over my leather bag and it hisses. We stare at each other in
silence for a few moments, and then, “Nick and I were together
when I bought it, yes,” I say finally, and a little whimpering sound
tumbles from her thin lips. “But I bought the flat on my own. It’s
all mine.”
I wish people would stop treading on eggshells whenever my ex
is mentioned. Yes, he was the love of my life, and yes, I did want to
run away and marry him. Although God only knows why. He’s the
most unreliable, selfish man on the planet. But that’s all in the past
now. I’m a big girl. I won’t crack if I hear his name, for goodness’
sake.Louise, my childhood friend who’s hated Nick for as long as
I can remember, refers to him as It. Jess, her nineteen-year-old
daughter, calls him by the C word, with Daniel it’s always Him,
and to my family he’s known as That Twat. All plausible metaphors
given that he left me days before our wedding last summer and
then did a runner when I was mad enough to give him a second
chance just before Christmas. I think Tina, probably the easiest
going friend I’ve ever had, is the only person who actually calls
him by his name, but that might have something to do with them
being in-laws. Well, sort of. She’s dating his cousin Ronan, second
time around. They’ve got history.
“I’m so sorry.” Fearne’s voice again. “I didn’t think. I just
assumed that Daniel had some stake in it, what with him being
in the business. Oh, God, Audrey. Soz.” She covers her face with
her hands.
“It’s all right, Fearne,” I reach out for her forearm. Her blue eyes
look big and wild between the gaps in her fingers. “Nick and I are
history. Over. We’ve both moved on now. He’s somewhere on the
globe finding himself and I’m happily married, remember?” I hold
up my hand and wriggle my fingers at her.
“Oh, phew.” She hiccups then presses a hand on her heaving
chest. “Daniel moved in here with you then?” she asks rhetorically,
hiccupping again. “You’ll be like an old married couple before you
know it.” Hiccup.
“What do you mean?” I unfasten my seatbelt and it flies across
my body.
“Oh, n..n..no.. what I meant was we tend to fall into complacency
once we’re married, don’t we?” Another hiccup accompanied
by an expression that makes her look as if she urgently needs
the loo. Now, usually I’d brush something like this off but given
what happened this morning, because of what I heard Daniel say,
my face is deadpan. “Do you know what I mean?” Fearne says,
desperate for reassurance. `
“Yes, yes, of course,” I say, reason kicking in. Poor Fearne. It’s
only a bit of banter. It’s not her fault that I’m in a shitty mood.
A thunderous sound filters through the car window and I look
round. My new neighbour is wheeling her bin onto the street,
reminding me that it’s collection day. Daniel’s in charge of bin
duties these days, which is just as well because I did have a bit of
a reputation for being the midnight wheelie bin taker-outer when
I was single, often disturbing the neighbourhood in my dressing
gown and fluffy slippers at ungodly hours. Although miserable as
sin, this new neighbour puts us all to shame. She’s like an alarm,
a wheelie-bin sergeant major, which we all secretly appreciate,
especially during the festive months when we’ve no idea what day
it is, let alone collection day.
“The Greeks had thirty different definitions of love,” Fearne says
randomly, gazing up at the grey clouds hanging ominously above
us. “Shame my husband couldn’t find it in his heart to remotely
feel one of them for me. Mind you, serves me right for marrying
him in haste. My mother did warn me.” Fearne’s husband walked
out on her recently, leaving her to bring up Kylie, his fifteen-yearold
daughter. Alone.
“How long were you together before you got married?” I ask,
comment number eight flashing in my mind.
“Oh, about six, seven months,” Fearne says absently to the
ruckus of wheels rolling against the pavement. “Stupid, I know.”
Lining up her bins in military fashion, my new neighbour
darts a glance at us, as if we have no right to look at her, and then,
with one final glare, she turns on her heel and scurries down
the path, black ponytail swinging from side to side like a bladed
pendulum.“And he’d been married four times before,” Fearne points out
to the thump of misery-guts-neighbour’s front door. “Bloody
lothario. I should’ve read the road signs, really. He had form.”
Nodding, I pull a bottle of water out of my bag and offer her a sip;
she shakes her head without pausing, “Apart from his first wife,
who passed away, bless her, the other three couldn’t have all been
at fault, could they?” she reasons. I shake my head in agreement,
mouth full of water. “Anyway, what about you? I know you had a
bit of a whirlwind romance before you got hitched, but how long
have you actually known Daniel for? Years, isn’t it?” She watches
me as I take another glug of water. I’m so thirsty – must be that
pastrami baguette Raymond, our boss, treated us to at lunchtime.
Fearne waits out my water binge, her chest rising and falling
quickly with a silent hiccup. I hold up seven fingers, swallowing.
“Seven years.” Fearne nods approvingly, blowing her nose into a
fresh tissue. “Good girl. He’s an old family friend, isn’t he? Yes, I
remember you saying now. I wish I was as wise as you.”
“Months.” I screw the cap back on firmly, licking my lips. “My
parents only met him in Cyprus last September. And I’m wife
number three.”
“OMG!” Fearne swallows hard, eyes glistening. “Audrey, I don’t
know what to say. I keep putting my foot in it today. It’s this frigging
menopause.” Hmm…Fearne blames a lot on her menopause, but I
didn’t realise that putting one’s foot in it was one of the symptoms.
Then suddenly her voice speeds up, this always happens when
she’s nervous. “Oh, please just ignore me. It’s just that when you
said your parents introduced you, I assumed you and Daniel went
way back. I mean, I know you were with…with….” She licks her
dry lips. I think she’s hyperventilating.
“N..i..c..k,” I say slowly as if I’m teaching a toddler a new word.
“Yes, yes, of course, with Nick. For years.” She drums her pink
varnished fingernails against the steering wheel nervously. No
wonder they’re all chipped. “But I genuinely thought that you
and Daniel were childhood sweethearts or something. It’s just, I
dunno, the way you talk about him, I suppose. My cousin only
knew her husband for six weeks before they got married,” she
prattles. “They met in Italy. A holiday romance in Rimini. He’s a
native.” She stares dreamily at shy Bob from number 32 chucking
a loaded bin bag into his wheelie, head down, long, thinning, dark
blonde hair falling onto his face. “They’ll be celebrating their silver
anniversary this year. They’ve hired a place in – ”
“Fearne.” I lay a hand on her arm to silence her. “It really is fine.
Don’t worry.” The poor woman looks exhausted. I bet this is the
last time she’ll offer me a lift home from work when there’s a tube
strike on. “Look, why don’t you come in for a drink?” It’s the least
I can do, and you’re allowed one drink, aren’t you? “I’ll show you
around.” I collect my M&S shopping bags from between my feet
and open the passenger door. “Or stay for dinner. Daniel will be
home soon, you can meet him.”
The idea of my dinner invitation seems to fill her with dread.
“Thanks, but I’d better get off, Audrey.” She turns the ignition on
quickly. “I’ve got to get home and cook for a hormonal teenager
whose only interest these days is Little Mix and Snapchat.” Ah,
that explains the Little Mix rendition earlier then. “And remember,
we’ve got an early start tomorrow.”
I nod. Raymond’s organised a board meeting for 8 a.m. to
discuss the particulars for a new client – Sam Knight, the famous
author and body language expert. Fearne and I are working on
his website together. It’s an exciting new project, and it’ll give me
a chance to show Raymond what I’ve learnt on the web design
course he sent me on recently. I can’t wait to get stuck in and I
don’t want to let him down.I watch as Fearne’s little red Fiat becomes a red blob in the
distance before stepping onto the black and white chequered tiles
of my porch where I find Mr Gingernut, Alan and Margaret’s
one-eyed rescue cat from upstairs, whining at the door, sniffing at
something in the corner of my doorway. I hope he hasn’t brought
them another gift in the form of a dead bird or rat. I bend down
and stroke his back, and he purrs and pushes his head under my
palm.
“What are you up to, Mr Gingernut?” He meows and turns
full circle as I get to my feet, and that’s when I spot them, nestled
behind my pot plant. I shake my head, smiling to myself halfheartedly
as I read the note attached – Whatever I’ve done. I’m
sorry. X
I fill my lungs with the cold evening air, exhaling loudly to the
swish of a pedal bike and a woman’s voice yelling, ‘Zach.’ Flowers
on my doorstep? Daniel must be gutted. He usually buys me shoes
– it’s our thing, how we met.
Mr Gingernut meows and winds around my legs as I get to my
feet, tulips secured under my arm, then as I push the key into the
lock guilt darts along my spine like a stone skimming in water and
I shudder. Perhaps I was a bit harsh with Daniel this morning.
I mean, leaping out of bed and locking myself in the bathroom
does seem a bit childish now. I should’ve just come clean and told
him why I was upset instead of screaming ‘NOTHING!’ when he
rapped on the bathroom door and asked what was wrong. Because
I’m sure even Daniel knows that when a woman says nothing she
really means something, and it’s usually a mega something, isn’t it?
But what did he expect after what he said as we lay naked in bed,
limbs wrapped around each other?
Still, at least he’s sorry, and the flowers are beautiful. That’s a
start. But he’s still got a lot of explaining to do, because it’s going
to take a lot more than a bunch of my favourite flowers to forgive
him for calling out his ex-wife’s name while we were making love
this morning.

Treat yourself to a copy below

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https://amzn.to/2BkmXHZ


@UrbaneBooks#LoveBooksGroupTours

And The Swans Began To Sing – Blog Tour

And The Swans Begin To Sing Cover

 

The swans on the pond, quite abruptly began to sing. It was a singing so loud they were almost screaming. The swans were screaming, screaming as if they saw the horror of the world.

Gudbjorg Thorisdottir has been hiding from the ghost of an ugly secret for most of her life. When she finally faces the truth of what happened throughout her childhood, the ghost floats away. Painting an evocative picture of her life in Iceland, this is the story of a little girl who didn’t know how unnatural it was to experience both heaven and hell in the same house.

 

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In this profoundly affecting novel, we are told that “Stories heal the soul” and this story will definitely move yours…

Thank you so much to the wonderful Anne Cater for inviting me onto the tour and introducing me to this striking and memorable novel. I absolutely loved it.

Gudbjorg Thorisdottir is born into a happy Icelandic family in 1952, the second child of loving parents and followed by three further siblings. They live upstairs in Mörk, a painted corrugated iron house in Reykjavik that has been in the family for generations. Their home is dominated by Gudgjorg’s grandfather, who lives in the ground-floor apartment with her aunt, uncle and cousins.

Next door to Mörk is Little-Farm, the original old stone house with a coal cellar that Gudbjorg calls the Black Hole.Gudbjorg is frightened of the Black Hole because horrible things happen down there. She lives with a secret that she can’t tell anybody, because Grandpa says that her family will lose their home if she does. Grandpa buys her presents and gives her caramels in a lovely white jug, so that makes him a good person, doesn’t it?

On the wall above Grandpa’s bed is a black and white reproduction of a Madonna and Child that Gudbjorg likes to gaze upon, as it comforts her when Grandpa is making her feel bad. When she has grown into a teenager, and her family has moved away from Mörk, she realises that what has happened throughout her childhood is wrong. But still she takes the blame, and the shame of her experiences upon herself. After all, she seems to be the only girl in the family that this has happened to.

Gudbjorg emerges into womanhood accompanied by the ghost of Grandpa’s abuse. Every time she wants to say anything, the ghost tightens its hand over her mouth and she remains dumb. It’s not until she takes a new job as Principle of a Reykjavik primary school that she accepts she needs to get help.It’s Gudbjorg’s daughter, Thora Karitas Arnadottir, who has taken her mother’s true story and brought it out into the light. Weaving together fact, fiction and poetic prose, her resulting testament bears all the magic of a fairy tale.

A fairy tale incorporating endurance and survival, violence and tenderness and the heroism of a character who refuses to be crushed by the monster at the bottom of the Black Hole. Despite the darkness at the heart of Gudbjorg’s story, Thora Karitas has created a compelling narrative nonfiction account of life in Iceland from the time of her great-great-grandparents, right into the present.

A story full of rural charm and ancestral memories, often encapsulated in the familial objects Gudbjorg has collected around her – each opening a window into the past and placing us in a particular moment – bringing back into sharp focus members of her family and ways of life that have long passed.

 

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This is a book that will make you think hard, make you reflect on things you might never have contemplated before and make you coma back to it to re-read certain parts so you can drink in their beauty, whilst at the same time be shocked and affected by some of its troubling and darker passages.

And the Swans Began to Sing tells the moving and enduring story of Thora’s mother Gudbjorg, and her years of abuse from her own grandfather. Its closed world of secrets and lies are painstakingly drawn in such a way as to bring them to life right before our eyes. The curtains are drawn, throwing light on this hidden period in her life and allowing us to see the truth after so many years of it being a dark secret.

This beautiful book – for beautiful it most definitely is, despite its sometimes harrowing subject matter – is  so much more than a story about abuse, it is much more than a ‘misery memoir’  – it’s a story about the small moments within a family that define them as a family; a story about darkness transfigured into light and most of all a story about the other side and what it means to ‘come through the fire’ of an experience like this and survive it.

The book gives a real insight into the upbringing she had in this small rural community which definitely added a counterpoint to the darker elements of the story. If you are Scottish like me and enjoyed Sunset Sing by Lewis Grassic Gibbon, you’ll have some idea of this blending of the personal with the atmosphere of community and the darkness and bleak aspects with the rhythmic and soothing sense of the changes in nature that come with the seasons and the small movements of pleasure and kindness in a small rural community.

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This book might not be for everyone, owing to the nature of its content, but please be reassured that although it does not skirt around the subject or diminish the horror of its impact, the abuse itself is handled with sensitivity and is certainly far from sensationalised during the novel. The story is about the abuse, about life through its prism and its aftermath too. There is much to think about here and its blending of the beautiful and the horror is deftly done, leading to a reading experience like no other. It is very hard to put into words – the closest I can come to is that this book holds you in its spell and does not release you until long after you’ve finished reading it.

And the Swans Began to Sing is a book that you won’t forget easily. A beautifully wrought piece of prose that glimmers with the hope of the future even as it looks back on the hurt and pain of the past. It is a redemptive read that will leave you feeling like you see the world around you with new eyes and a read that will keep coming back to you at the quieter moments of the days as your thoughts drift, some of the moments of this book will creep back into your consciousness and make you appreciate the small moments in your day, the positive relationships that you have and the power of love to change things forever. It looks absolutely stunning in my #OnTheShelfie too

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Buy yourself a copy of this challenging and beautiful read here

 

Writer On The Shelf

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Thora Karitas Arnadottir (b. 1979) studied drama in the UK, and is a producer as well as appearing on stage and television.

And the Swans Began to Sing is her first published book; her mother’s story, and formed the final dissertation for her MA in Creative Writing.

The book was nominated for the Icelandic Women’s Literary prize Fjoruverdlaunin in 2016.

Supernova Hangover Blog Tour

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Two girls meet on a train with a shared mission to have it all…

Toots Silver, a young, local news reporter from the North West, lands in London with little more than her ambition. Against the odds, she talks her way into a dream job at a celebrity magazine, riding high on a new craving for showbiz gossip.

The shimmering nightlife of Cool Britannia lures her into an exhilarating, twilight world – and an explosive affair with an A-list interviewee. But the comedown forces her to confront the soulless desires of her generation.

In New York, she’s on the trail of the defining exclusive of her age. But conflict erupts between personal integrity and journalistic ruthlessness – which might jeopardise the success that will secure her position in a looming post-millennial world.
Can you live the high-life, without it getting you down?

 

As a huge fan of Smash Hits in my heyday – I was already familiar with Emma and her work and really excited to read this book to get a ‘reader’s eye view’ of the celebrity world that she mingled with during her career. The world she is writing about was certainly the zenith of celebrity culture as shows like Pop Stars and Big Brother meant that the population could not seem to get enough of celebrity gossip and PR stunts disguised as exclusives.

This fictionalised account made for compelling reading precisely because of Emma’s credentials and a big part of the fun for me was speculating which celebrities formed part of the personalities of the characters we meet here and which ‘real life’ celebrity moments had to be toned down and edited to make it into these pages.

Toots Silver is not only a great name, but a great character too. Coming to London from the North West at this time allows her to see this so-called ‘glittering world’ from an outsider’s perspective and that really adds a lot to this narrative. At heart, Toots is far removed from the shallow and artificial world that she’s permeated and despite its allure she eventually comes to realise how different she is from the ‘beautiful people’ that she’s been rubbing rather more than shoulders with.

The magazine and all the goings on there is fantastically realised and really drew me in – giving the reader an opportunity to see the other side of the process and get an insight into being a producer, rather than consumer of celebrity gossip. Like Toots, we too begin to see that ‘all that glisters is not gold’ and the glamour and excitement that we might have imagined is shown as being rather more tarnished and tawdry than we all suspected at the dazzling heights of the ‘Cool Brittania’ myth.

Journalistic and personal integrity have never been more topical and I think that instead of the fun and exciting romp I was imagining, this novel is actually much more thought-provoking than I initially imagined. The price that we have to pay for ruthlessly pursuing people – whatever the cost is explored here in much more detail than I anticipated and Toots’ character had much more substance than I would have given her credit for before opening Emma’s book.

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I really enjoyed this read – on so many levels – and think that it’s going to be a real word-of-mouth success this year. I think it looks fantastic in my #OnTheShelfie too! It doesn’t just have great characters that you’ll really enjoy reading about but has real moral questions at its heart about what constitutes journalistic integrity and where we should draw the line in terms of our careers and our soul.

I think that anyone who came of age in this era will love this book as it contains the perfect mixture of a compelling story with something to think and talk about afterwards. I think that it’d make a great reading group book if you grew up in this era as you’ll certainly enjoy this insight into the celebrity bubble and looking back on it through a 2018 prism might make for some very interesting discussions.

I am going to be buying it for quite a few of my friends’ Christmas and I think we will have a mini ‘books & chat’ meet-up afterwards to see what they thought of Toots and her journey to the dark heart of Celebrityville in Supernova Hangover.  As for Emma’s writing – it certainly hasn’t left me with a book hangover but rather feeling like I need some ‘Hair of the dog’ and I’m really looking forward to enjoying her next novel

Treat yourself to a copy of Supernova Hangover here

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Writer On The Shelf

Emma Jones is a former editor of Smash Hits magazine. As a news and showbusiness reporter, she worked for the Sunday MirrorMail on Sunday and the Sun. Emma became the youngest ever Fleet Street columnist whilst at the Sun. Television work includes live presenting for Channel Four and ITV. Emma’s Radio contributions range from Woman’s Hour to the Today programme. Her career has seen her interview stars including Britney Spears, George Clooney, the Rollings Stones, and Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor. Her writing also appears regularly in the New European newspaper and on Byline. She has four children and lives in London.

Supernova Hangover is her first novel.

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Settlement – Blog Tour #LoveBooksGroup

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Can love truly heal old wounds?  Can the past ever be put peacefully to rest? 

Falling in love is the easy bit. Happy ever after requires work, commitment and honesty.

When former Edinburgh policeman Jack Baxter met crofter and author Rachel Campbell at her home on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for them both.

But after Jack proposes marriage, it becomes clear they want different things.

Then, as Rachel prepares to return to the Middle East to work on a peacemaking project that’s close to her heart, and as Jack’s past catches up with him, it seems their relationship is doomed.

Can Rachel compromise on her need to maintain her hard-won independence?

Can Jack survive the life-threatening situation in which he finds himself?

Will they get the chance to put things right between them?

 

I love doing Kelly’s Tours with Love Books Group as no two books she ever wants me to review are the same. When I read that Anne Stormont was a fellow Scot I was intrigued as I always like supporting Scottish writers and think that promoting books from Independent publishers can be one of the best things about being a book blogger – as you get to read books that you might never have been exposed to before and hear what all your other blogging friends thought too. It’s like a virtual book group where you are waiting every day to see what other people enjoyed about your book…

I was really intrigued to read Settlement as even though I knew that it was a sequel, I was told it could be read as a stand-alone and I loved the fact that it had that ‘Scottish connection’  As soon as this book arrived,  I wanted to open it up and find out who Jack Baxter was and why he and Rachel were finding it so hard to maintain a life together after falling in love in such a gorgeous place.  I loved this initial premise and I found this book totally engrossing once I’d started: I really wanted to get to the heart of their relationship and discover what had brought them to this point.

I also enjoyed the way that Anne Stormont’s novel allows us to see the reality of love, rather than just the ‘happy ever after’ that we are so often presented with in fiction and I think that this is one of the things that I enjoyed most about this book.

The way that Anne builds in the uncertainties about what’s right for them and increases our understanding of what is going on in the heads of both of these characters is convincingly done and leads to you feeling like you can really imagine yourself sitting down and catching up with these characters. Rachel is an interesting and well-drawn character and I’m looking forward to hearing what my sister thought of her over a long coffee date as soon as possible.

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The scenes where these two are trying to deal with the ramifications of the past and the current pressures on their relationship have an incredibly realistic feel and the way they build up and threaten to overwhelm this pair mean that you really develop your sense of compassion for them as the novel progresses. I thoroughly enjoyed the idea of Rachel’s escape to the Middle East and felt that the balance between her future desires and Jack’s past was just right –  allowing the reader to keep being pulled forward to the next development to get a truer sense of what they both really need in life and what might happen as a result.

Settlement is a refreshing read as it dares to be more than just another romance and takes a genuine look at what we sometimes sacrifice in the pursuit of happiness in a way that never feels ‘worthy’ or sermonising. It allows us a glance into a relationship where peoples’ needs are complex and real and dares us to ask ourselves what we might have lost along the way in our own lives. Its dual setting in Skye and Israel is another aspect that I really enjoyed and it really made me feel like I was able to immerse myself in both settings – which are so different in atmosphere that this is a real testament to Anne’s writing.

I always enjoy a book much more if I’m not hyping myself up before I read it and Settlement was exactly that. It was definitely a grower and I found myself thinking about Jack and Rachel’s life choices and their repercussions whilst driving to work and marking my essays at school. I will definitely seek out more books by Anne Stormont and am keen to travel back in time and read the first novel, Displacement, as a prequel.  It’s a real testament to Anne Stormont’s writing that we really believe in their relationship and can empathise with their feelings of being torn between fulfilling your own dreams with loving another person with all the complications that brings.

You can buy yourself a copy of the book here

Writer On The Shelf

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Anne Stormont writes contemporary romantic fiction where the main characters are older but not necessarily wiser. She hopes the stories she tells will entertain, but she also hopes they will move, challenge and inspire her readers. She has written three novels so far – Change of Life was her first. This was followed by Displacement and its sequel Settlement.

Anne is a Scot, living in the land of her birth. She’s a retired teacher and when she’s not writing, she’s a compulsive crossworder, yoga practitioner, avid reader, keen walker and gardener. She also loves spending time with friends and family – especially her two grandchildren.

She has recently moved from the Isle of Skye to the Scottish Borders. She has travelled the world and has visited every continent except Antarctica –where considering her penchant for penguins she really must go.

She says she is a subversive old bat but maintains a kind heart.

You can find out more about Anne on her author websites: Anne Stormont and Anne McAlpine. She has a fantastic Blog.

You’ll also find Anne on her Facebook Author pages: Anne Stormont and Anne McAlpine and can follow Anne on Twitter @writeanne.

 

 

The Stranger Diaries Blog Tour

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A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries: Susan Hill meets Gone Girl and Disclaimer.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to tales of murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer R.M. Holland, she teaches a short course on them every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an R.M. Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers…

 

When Olivia Mead messaged me to ask me about taking part in  The Stranger Diaries Blog Tour, I was literally up early every morning waiting for the postman until it arrived. Having seen the stunning cover and read the blurb – as a real-life literature teacher who loves her  Gothic Literature, my anticipation had really reached fever pitch.

Let me tell you straight away that The Stranger Diaries did not disappoint.

The cover itself hinted at dark events blossoming and promised to contain within a mysterious tale where everything is not quite as it seems and I’d have to say that Elly Griffiths, you have done it again in the invention of Clare Cassidy and her extreme case of art imitating life…

There are so many fantastic ‘dark’ reads on offer right now that writers have to think outside the box if they want their readers to be genuinely drawn into their novels. My column this month fave 12 tips for dark & deadly reads – and if I’d read this book before submitting it to the editor – it’d most definitely been one of my dozen Autumn reads in 2018! I like a Gothic tale to keep me on my toes, I am happy to report that Elly Griffiths manages this with skill and originality. I am also determined to ensure that there are no spoilers as this ending really is worth the wait.

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I absolutely love a book with multiple narrators and really enjoyed all three characters that we meet in this ale. I was obviously most drawn to Clare as a fellow teacher but DS Harbinder Kaur and Claire’s teenage daughter Georgia are both wonderfully drawn characters in their own right and these three voices blend to keep you turning the pages late into the night. I feel that inThe Stranger Diaries you’re not just getting one voice that hints at there being more to their unfolding narrative than meets the eye, but three wonderfully contrasting voices that play with your mind and weave in and out of your sense of direction until you really are left wondering what on earth is going on and who to trust when we hear two very different versions of the same set of events…

I loved the contrasting voices of everyday Claire with her private diary as the novel unfolded and appreciated the skill with which Elly Griffiths manages to create both credible dialogue and mystical and inexplicable events coming together –  in a finely tuned balance that really made her prose sing. Added to this, her slow-burning sense of rising tension really made this a page-turner as you race to see if your ‘narrative compass’ is as reliable as you thought it was.

I read this in a single day, being utterly loath to drag myself away from the claustrophobic and intriguing world that Elly draws you into. I love books that are even better than the one you’ve been anticipating and I have to say that this novel was a real treat. This book is the narrative equivalent of a ‘Magic Eye’ painting – you know that there’s more going on below the surface and try as you might to decipher exactly why it is, things keep shifting before your very eyes and the final picture eludes you right to the very end. And perhaps even afterwards…

Anyone who has ever committed their most secret thoughts to paper in a diary will find much to relate to in the secret writings throughout this stunning novel I was very impressed by how much insight we got into the secrets that were being kept by so many of the characters we meet and how much access we got to their ‘inner landscape’ through the diaries and the natural and wholly credible conversations that evolve as things begin to close in on the culprit – nail biting is not the word and my light was on really late as I was so determined to get the answers and find out if what I suspected was true. I can’t wait for someone else I know to read it and I’ll definitely be recommending that my book group read it as I can’t wait to hear everyone’s response to what I feel is one of my reads of the year!

 

I loved this novel and I’ll be recommending it to everyone who likes their novels unpredictable, dark and with a fabulous set of characters that you’ll absolutely believe in. After loving Elly’s Ruth Galloway books,  I was nervous in case this stand-alone gothic number would fall short of their high standards. I needn’t have worried – this is an amazing book.  Elly Griffiths is one of my favourite writers for a reason, and if you haven’t devoured her entire back catalogue – what are you waiting for?

 

Treat yourself to a copy of The Stranger Diaries here – and buy the hardback – it’s blooming stunning and looks marvellous in my #OnTheShelfie below

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Writer On The Shelf

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I’ll let Elly introduce herself in her own words. To find out more, head over to her gorgeous-looking website Elly Griffiths

My name’s Elly Griffiths, except it’s not really.
My real name is Domenica de Rosa and I’ve written four books under that name (see link above). I was born in London in 1963 and my family moved to Brighton when I was five. I loved Brighton and still do – the town, the surrounding countryside and, most of all, the sea. I went to local state schools and wrote my first book when I was a 11, a murder mystery set in Rottingdean, near the village where I still live. At secondary school I used to write episodes of Starsky and Hutch (early fan fiction) and very much enjoyed making my readers cry.

I did all the right things to become a writer: I read English at King’s College London and, after graduating, worked in a library, for a magazine and then as a publicity assistant at HarperCollins. I loved working in publishing and eventually became Editorial Director for children’s books at HarperCollins. All this completely put me off writing and it wasn’t until I was on maternity leave in 1998 that I wrote what would become my first published novel, The Italian Quarter.

Three other books followed, all about Italy, families and identity. By now we had two children and my husband Andy had just given up his city job to become an archaeologist. We were on holiday in Norfolk, walking across Titchwell Marsh, when Andy mentioned that prehistoric man had thought that marshland was sacred. Because it’s neither land nor sea, but something in-between, they saw it as a kind of bridge to the afterlife. Neither land nor sea, neither life nor death. As he said these words the entire plot of The Crossing Places appeared, full formed, in my head and, walking towards me out of the mist, I saw Dr Ruth Galloway. I didn’t think that this new book was significantly different from my ‘Italy’ books but, when she read it, my agent said, ‘This is crime. You need a crime name.’

And that’s how I became Elly Griffiths.

You should also follow her on Twitter to hear all about her books and  hopefully get news of where she’s appearing in person

9781786487391Death lies between the lines. The chilling new stand-alone thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries

A dark story has been brought to terrifying life. Can the ending be rewritten in time?

‘Utterly bewitching … a pitch-perfect modern Gothic’ AJ FINN, author of THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW

‘Compelling, intelligent and increasingly mesmerising’ PETER JAMES

‘At once a homage to the Gothic thriller, and a re-imagining, it is goose-bump spooky, smart, and haunting, in every sense. I loved this book! And you will too’ LOUISE PENNY