blog tour · contemporary fiction · Giveaways · women's fiction

Blog Tour – Where Are We Tomorrow?

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Welcome to the blog tour for award-winning novel, Where Are We Tomorrow by Tavi Taylor Black! Read on for more info and a chance to win a $25 Amazon e-Gift Card!

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Where We Are Tomorrow

Publication Date: May 31st, 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Women’s Fiction

Publisher: TouchPoint Press

Alex Evans, a thirty-six year old touring electrician, discovers through an accidental pregnancy and then the pain of miscarriage that she truly wants a family. But to attempt another pregnancy, she’ll have to change both her career and her relationship; her partner Connor, ten years her senior, isn’t prepared to become a father again.

When Alex is implicated in an accident involving the female pop star she works for, she and three other women on tour rent a house together in Tuscany. While the tour regroups, confessions are made, secrets are spilled: the guitar tech conceals a forbidden love, the production assistant’s ambition knows no limits, and the personal assistant battles mental issues.

Through arguments and accidents, combating drug use and religion, the women help each other look back on the choices they’ve made, eventually buoying each other, offering up strength to face tough decisions ahead.

TRIGGER WARNING: MISCARRIAGE/ ADDICTION/ GRIEF

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Excerpt

Inside the concrete arena, programmed lights whirred and spun in rhythm; eleven thousand fans watched, mesmerized, as vibrant magenta and violet beams sliced through midnight black. On stage, the band regurgitated the same set as the night before, and the night before that. They’d performed the set in Mexico City and Guadalajara. As far south as Santiago and Lima. The road crew for Sadie Estrada’s Home Remedy tour knew each dip in volume, each drop in the beat. They knew exactly, down to the second, how much time it required to step outside and suck down a Marlboro. These time-zone travelers planned bathroom breaks by the songs’ measures; no one missed a cue to mute the stage mics, to hand out room-temp bottled water for set breaks, to pull up house lights.

Behind heavy velvet curtains, separated from the frenzied pace of the show, Alex unscrewed the cover of a moving light to expose the core: circuit boards and capacitors, motors connected to color wheels. Deep bass, feedback, and the fevered pitch of collective voices penetrated the curtain, the familiar, almost comforting reverberations of life on the road. Alex continued her diagnosis, removing the light harness as a mother removes a soiled diaper— routinely, with a touch of tenderness. While she located and replaced the broken part, she kept an ear to the music, alert to the final measure of the set, ready to repack her multi-wheeled toolbox, move on to the next city, set up again.

Alex ran the light through all its functions, testing and retesting once she’d replaced the gobo wheel. The body of the light panned and tilted, working fine. A small victory.

“Sure you know what you’re doing, little lady?” Alex turned at the familiar voice of the tour’s production manager.

“Funny,” she said. “Very original. For that, you get to help me put it away.” Alex waited for another barb, one about her not being able to lift the seventy pounds by herself, but Joe simply helped her flip and crate the unit, a harder task for him at 5’2” than it was for Alex, a good five inches taller.

The arena crackled in anticipation of the show’s climax. Thousands of voices swelled and surged, a unified congregation. The body of the moving light settled into the carved Styrofoam, and Alex tucked its tail inside the handle. As she slammed the case shut, Joe’s laminate got caught inside the box, and he was jerked down by the lanyard around his neck. He freed the latches and yanked it clear, smoothing the wrinkles from the photo of his two young children, a wallet-sized clipping he’d taped behind his backstage pass. Joe caught Alex eyeing the photo.

“When are you gonna give in and pop out a few yourself?” Joe asked.

Alex breathed slowly, letting a brief sadness settle into her body, though her face wore a practiced, blank expression. She gestured into the smothering dark, into the roar of the crowd and sweat-filled air. “And give up all this?”

Amazon | Bookshop | IndieBound | B&N

About the Author

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Tavi Black lives on an island near Seattle where she designs sets for the ballet, works as the tour manager for a musical mantra group, and has founded an anti-domestic violence non-profit organization. Before earning an MFA from Lesley University, Tavi spent 14 years touring with rock bands. Several of Tavi’s short stories have been shortlisted for prizes, including Aesthetica Magazine’s Competition, and the Donald Barthelme Prize for Short Prose.

Tavi Taylor Black | Instagram | Kirkus Reviews | Indie Reader

Giveaway: Click the link below for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

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book blitz · contemporary fiction · humour · literary fiction

Book Blitz – Everyday Magic

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Great news! If you pre-order a copy of Everyday Magic by Charlie Laidlaw, you will receive a signed edition! But you have to order before May 26th!

Everyday Magic Front cover FINALEveryday Magic

Expected Publication Date: May 26th, 2021

Genre: Literary fiction/ Contemporary Fiction/ Humour

Publisher: Ringwood Publishing

Carole Gunn leads an unfulfilled life and knows it. She’s married to someone who may, or may not, be in New York on business and, to make things worse, the family’s deaf cat has been run over by an electric car.

But something has been changing in Carole’s mind. She’s decided to revisit places that hold special significance for her. She wants to better understand herself, and whether the person she is now is simply an older version of the person she once was.

Instead, she’s taken on an unlikely journey to confront her past, present and future.

Everyday Magic is an uplifting book filled with humour and poignancy, and reminds us that, while our pasts make us who we are, we can always change the course of our futures.

Pre-Order HERE!

About the Author

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Charlie Laidlaw lives in East Lothian, one of the main settings for Everyday Magic. He has four other published novels: Being Alert!, The Space Between Time, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead and Love Potions and Other Calamities. Previously a journalist and defence intelligence analyst, Charlie now teaches Creative Writing in addition to his writing career.

Charlie Laidlaw | Facebook | Twitter

 

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blog tour · book review · contemporary fiction · interaction · mystery

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Tipping Point

Tipping Point

The sun … the ocean … the farmhouse … the scammer… the police… the 3-legged dog?

George and Ellen have retired to sunny Mallorca. Social butterfly Ellen is itching to make yacht-owning friends while George’s heart is set on a secluded farmhouse in the country. In fact, now that they’re no longer living busy London lives, they’re beginning to realise they have very different ideas of happiness.

Private investigator Salva specialises in cases of adultery. That’s why it’s particularly embarrassing that he didn’t realise his long-term girlfriend has been cheating on him. He has no time to nurse a broken heart, since his family are the victims of a property scam they urgently need him to solve.

Robyn Chase is giving talks on her self-help book, No More Toxic Relationships – 7 Years, 7 Lessons. She’s finding it awkward being a relationship guru when her own boyfriend is avoiding her.

The sun is shining in Mallorca and everything looks beautiful. But the residents of one particular apartment block are about to discover it all might be too good to be true.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tipping-Point-Emily-Benet-ebook/dp/B0887FVYR9

US – https://www.amazon.com/Tipping-Point-Emily-Benet-ebook/dp/B0887FVYR9

 

Author Bio

Emily Benet is a journalist, award-winning blogger and author of contemporary fiction.

Her books include the blog-to-book Shop Girl Diaries, Wattpad hit Spray Painted Bananas and social media romcom #PleaseRetweet.

She lives in Mallorca with her husband and daughter and the sunny island is the setting for her latest novels The Hen Party and Tipping Point. She writes regularly for the luxury lifestyle magazine abcMallorca.

Social Media Links 

www.facebook.com/EmilyBenetAuthor

www.instagram.com/emilybenetauthor

https://twitter.com/EmilyBenet

My Review

This was a fascinating read, a truly circular plot that connected the inhabitants of an apartment block in more ways than you might possibly imagine.

Salva is a private investigator, wondering if his business will ever be as successful as he’d like it to be. He’s also feeling a tad sorry for himself after his girlfriend of six years recently left him. While he’s in this state of despondency, his family descend on him from Madrid. They had originally booked a farmhouse/villa for their holiday but the booking now seems to be nothing but a scam. Can Salva sort it out for them? Find the scammer and get his apartment back.

Ellen & George are renting an apartment in the same block while looking for a place to buy. George wants to purchase a place inland, where his money goes further and they can live off the land and fully integrate into Spanish life. Ellen yearns to be by the coast, joining the yachting set and having a whale of a time with the expat community. When George is sorely tempted by a remote farmhouse, Ellen fears becoming a hermit and dying or boredom. When a local surveyor offers to do a survey on the place, Ellen hopes he’ll find the place is falling to bits. The fact that the surveyor is a huge flirt and owns a boat soon sees her drooling over a different lifestyle, possibly without George.

The final main resident of the apartment block is Robyn, author of a hugely successful book about relationships. Is she the guru who can help mend Salva’s broken heart, or give Ellen and George hope for a future together. Well, of course, all is not as it seems. Robyn has her own secrets, as well as a relationship that has seen better days.

The story is told from their perspectives, and the interconnectivity of the three stories is hugely satisfying. How they connect is very clever and revealed in a drip-drip manner, making it a great mystery yet also an insight into the different lifestyles of the residents of a single apartment block.

It reminded me of living in Granada, when the landlady would pop in with vats of olive oil, the residents would gather at the postboxes and on the stairways to chat, or they’d be talking across balconies. The noise and vibrancy of those days came flooding back 🙂

A most enjoyable story.

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blog tour · book review · contemporary fiction · crime · police procedural · thriller

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Broken Silence

Broken Silence

When DS Felicity Springer is reported missing after a police training conference, the countdown to find her begins…

On her way home after an exhausting weekend, with colleagues she can’t wait to escape, Felicity notices something odd about the white van in front of her. A hand has punched through the car’s rear light and is frantically waving, trying to catch her attention.

Desperate to help, Felicity dials 999 and calls it in. But whilst on the phone, she loses control of the car on the icy road, crashing straight into the vehicle ahead.

Pinned in the seat and unable to move, Felicity feels a sudden whoosh of cold air across her face. Someone has opened the passenger door… and they have a gun.

With Felicity missing and no knowledge of whether she is dead or alive, DS Nikki Parekh and DC Sajid Malik race to find their friend and colleague.

But Felicity was harbouring a terrible secret, and with her life now hanging in the balance, Nikki can only hope that someone will come forward and break the silence…

Purchase Links

E book https://www.amazon.co.uk/Broken-Silence-absolutely-gripping-thriller-ebook/dp/B083Z3ZZ61

Paperback https://www.amazon.co.uk/Liz-Mistry-2-3/dp/0008358370

Author Bio 

Born in Scotland, Made in Bradford sums up Liz Mistry’s life. Over thirty years ago she moved from a small village in West Lothian to Yorkshire to get her teaching degree. Once here, Liz fell in love with three things; curries, the rich cultural diversity of the city … and her Indian husband (not necessarily in this order). Now thirty years, three children, two cats (Winky and Scumpy) and a huge extended family later, Liz uses her experiences of living and working in the inner city to flavour her writing. Her gritty crime fiction police procedural novels set in Bradford embrace the city she describes as ‘Warm, Rich and Fearless’ whilst exploring the darkness that lurks beneath.

Struggling with severe clinical depression and anxiety for a large number of years, Liz often includes mental health themes in her writing. She credits the MA in Creative Writing she took at Leeds Trinity University with helping her find a way of using her writing to navigate her ongoing mental health struggles. Being a debut novelist in her fifties was something Liz had only dreamed of and she counts herself lucky, whilst pinching herself regularly to make sure it’s all real. One of the nicest things about being a published author is chatting with and responding to readers’ feedback and Liz regularly does events at local libraries, universities, literature festivals and open mics. She also teaches creative writing too. Now, having nearly completed a PhD in Creative Writing focussing on ‘the absence of the teen voice in adult crime fiction’ and ‘why expansive narratives matter’, Liz is chock full of ideas to continue writing.

In her spare time, Liz loves pub quizzes (although she admits to being rubbish at them), dancing (she does a mean jig to Proud Mary – her opinion, not ratified by her family), visiting the varied Yorkshire landscape, with Robin Hoods Bay being one of her favourite coastal destinations, listening to music, reading and blogging about all things crime fiction on her blog, The Crime Warp.

Social Media Links 

FB https://www.facebook.com/LizMistrybooks/

Twitter @LizMistryAuthor

Website: https://www.lizmistry.com/

My Review

This is a real find! As my first book by Liz Mistry, I know I’ll be reading much more of her work from here on.

DS Felicity Springer leaves the conference centre feeling wiped-out, as though she’d drunk too much when she’s convinces she hadn’t but can barely remember what happened at all. To avoid the likelihood of being stopped by police on her way home she takes the back roads. the weather is awful but she makes out a hand sticking out of the rear light on the van in front of her and, ever the policewoman, decides to pursue. Still not feeling great, she puts in a call to the police but then drops her phone …

The police are alerted to Springer’s call, and when she doesn’t reply they race to track her vehicle …only to find it empty apart from her bag and some blood.

Nikki Parekh and her colleague Saj Malik are charged with finding her, a daunting task given that Nikki and Felicity aren’t exactly bosom buddies. But Springer’s disappearance is not the only crime occurring in Bradford over the coming days. Bodies are found in remote locations, fires break out throughout the city and the emergency services are overwhelmed. It appears there’s a new Mister Big in town and he intends to make his mark.

This is a gritty novel that had me enthralled from the outset. It covers contemporary themes such as homophobia, sexism, racism and the story revolves around modern-day slavery. It’s compelling and utterly addictive. 

Highly recommended! Readers who enjoy fast-paced stories with intriguing and interesting characters will enjoy this tense slice of reality. An amazing story. 

For more news and reviews, check out these blogs: 

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book review · contemporary fiction · women's fiction

Book Review – The Day She Came Back

The Day She Came Back

Amanda Prowse

The Blurb

From the bestselling author of The Girl in the Corner comes a story that asks: how do you forgive the family that lied to you, and love the mum you never had?

When her loving, free-spirited grandmother Primrose passes away, Victoria is bereft, yet resilient—she has survived tragedy before. But even her strength is tested when a mysterious woman attends Prim’s funeral and claims to be the mother Victoria thought was dead.

As the two women get to know each other and Victoria begins to learn more about her past, it becomes clear that her beloved grandmother had been keeping life-changing secrets from her. Desperate for answers, she still struggles to trust anyone to tell her the truth.

To live a full and happy life, Victoria knows she must not only uncover the truth, but find a way to forgive her family. But after so many years, is trusting them even possible?
 

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About the author:

Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write.

Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.

 

My Review

This is the first book I’ve read by Amanda Prowse, though I’ve seen her a lot on TV and always liked the sound of her stories. In person (on TV, I mean) , she has the ability to draw people in and captivate them with her account of  even the most mundane thing, so I had high hopes. I wasn’t disappointed.

The Day She Came Back tells the story of Victoria (about to turn 19), her grandmother, Prim (who raised her), and Sarah, the mother Victoria never knew. 

Victoria’s world falls apart when her grandmother passes, but with the help of her best friend, Daksha, she plans Prim’s funeral and the ensuing wake, only to meet a familiar-looking woman in the grounds of Rosebank (the home bequeathed to her by Prim) when she escapes for some fresh air.

The woman, Sarah, claims she is Victoria’s mother, and the story takes off in a whirlwind of sorrow, anger, pain, but above all, love, as the secrets of the past are revealed. The author never overwhelms the story with unnecessary detail; instead she sprinkles snippets of information about them as the story unfolds, enabling the reader to get a slow, but complete impression of their personalities. Sarah, who now lives in Oslo, shares letters between her and Prim with Victoria, so her daughter can a contemporaneous account of how things turned out the way they did. Through the letters, you see the pain, sadness, anger, frustration, and love that  kept Prim and Sarah, and ultimately Victoria, apart. 

But, Victoria has questions, lots and lots of them, and decides to visit Sarah in Oslo. It is the start of a beautiful relationship for  them both, and paves the way for Victoria’s “happy ever after”.

It’s a quick read, as once you’re drawn in, you cannot stop reading. Stunning locations, believable people, and a bucketful of emotion. Highly recommended to fans of intense women fiction where family is at the heart off the story. 

As always, 

 

 

blog tour · book review · contemporary fiction · literary fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Surviving Me

Surviving Me

Deceit has a certain allure when your life doesn’t match up to the ideal of what it means to be a modern man.

Tom’s lost his job and now he’s been labelled ‘spermless’. He doesn’t exactly feel like a modern man, although his double life helps. Yet when his secret identity threatens to unravel, he starts to lose the plot and comes perilously close to the edge.

All the while Adam has his own duplicity, albeit for very different reasons, reasons which will blow the family’s future out of the water.

If they can’t be honest with themselves, and everyone else, then things are going to get a whole lot more complicated.

This book tackles hard issues such as male depression, dysfunctional families and degenerative diseases in an honest, life-affirming and often humorous way. It focuses particularly on the challenges of being male in today’s world and explores how our silence on these big issues can help push men to the brink.



Purchase Links

https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/48660416-surviving-me

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Surviving-Me-Jo-Johnson/dp/1789650615

https://www.amazon.com/Surviving-Me-Jo-Johnson/dp/1789650615

 

Author Bio

I’m very excited that my debut novel ‘Surviving Me’ is due to be published on the 14 November. The novel is about male minds and what pushes a regular man to the edge. The novel combines all the themes I can write about with authenticity.

I qualified as a clinical psychologist in 1992 and initially worked with people with learning disabilities before moving into the field of neurology in 1996. I worked in the NHS until 2008 when i left to write and explore new projects.

I now work as an independent clinical psychologist in West Sussex.

Jo speaks and writes for several national neurology charities including Headway and the MS Trust. Client and family related publications include, “Talking to your kids about MS”, “My mum makes the best cakes” and “Shrinking the Smirch”. 

In the last few years Jo has been offering psychological intervention using the acceptance and commitment therapeutic model (ACT) which is the most up to date version of CBT. She is now using THE ACT model in a range of organisations such as the police to help employees protect their minds in order to avoid symptoms of stress and work related burnout.


Social Media Links 

https://en-gb.facebook.com/shrinkingthesmirch/

Giveaway to Win two signed copies of Surviving Me & five Surviving Me fridge magnets (Open INT)

1st Prize – 2 winners each winning a signed copy of Surviving Me

5 Runners Up – each winning a Surviving Me Fridge Magnet

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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My Review

5/5 stars

This has been probably one of the most engaging books I’ve read this year.  The reason: it’s very real, believable, and features topics that we just don’t talk enough about. I loved it!

Written primarily from the male viewpoint of Tom, with occasional chapters headed up by his wife, Siri, the story eases us into their everyday life. Siri wants a baby, but it’s not happening which starts to create tensions. So when Tom loses his job, he’s wary of telling Siri, and hopes to find a new one quickly and then break the news.

But the new job doesn’t happen, and Tom’s insecurities mount. Rather than face up to the truth, he continues his regular routine, pretending to go to work, and with each passing day it becomes harder to tell her. 

What does he do then, when he’s pretending to be at work? He drives around, not too far because fuel costs money, but eventually stops off at a café in a small village where he can be anonymous while applying for jobs on his laptop. Here there are no expectations, no judgements to be made. 

But this is no ordinary café, or rather the owner and the regulars are not so easily duped. While keeping their distance, they notice him …and his visits become more frequent and longer lasting. He finds himself intrigued by them too, especially a young girl, Lydia, who sits alone by the window, lost in her own world.

At home, Siri is still fretting about not conceiving, so both of them visit the doctors for tests. When Tom finds out he is infertile, this is another blow to his confidence … and another secret to keep for as long as he can. Already feeling pretty worthless, knowing he can’t give Siri the one thing she wants tips him over the edge. His own personal depression is not helped by other worries about his brother-in-law’s odd behaviour. In all, everything seems to be going wrong. 

You’ll have to read for yourself what happens next – you won’t be disappointed. There are moments of sadness, poignancy, hope and despair, but above all, there’s a sense of love, togetherness, and community.  

I don’t have any personal experience of depression, but there is a genuine sense of vulnerability in many of the characters. They are real people, with real flaws and issues, and a very real British approach to such issues – i.e. say nothing and it’ll all go away! Asking for help seems so hard, but absolutely nothing to be worried about or ashamed of.

I don’t want to give the impression that this story is a hard or a heavy read; it’s not. It flows effortlessly and will scoop you up for the ride. Emotions are laid bare, but that means humour and hope rise to the surface and will make you smile. I particularly appreciated the author writing much of this from a male perspective given that suicide is such a major problem among younger men. It’s easy to see how life can become too much, and by not talking about it, the future seems too bleak. Kudos to the author for tackling this head on and with such clarity. 

The ending is possibly one of the greatest twists I’ve read in recent months. Delivered with great subtlety but with the power of a sledgehammer! Fabulous, and I hope it leads to a sequel.

For more news & reviews, 

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blog tour · contemporary fiction

Blog Tour – A Kind of Family and GIVEAWAY!

Akindoffamily

Welcome to the blog tour for A Kind of Family by Bonnie Meekums. We’ll have loads of exclusive content and a guest post from the author herself, so be sure to follow along!

KofFamily digital cover.jpgA Kind of Family

Publication Date: January 7th, 2020

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Publisher: Willow River Press

Forty-something Northern UK psychotherapist and university lecturer Rachel longs for a close family when, a year after their parents die her brother decides to cut off all contact. Out of the blue she meets Fran, a petite, attractive and outgoing community artist who disturbs and excites her. Shortly after this Aggie appears, looking like a relic from the 1960s and with a strong working-class London accent. She takes a strong interest in Rachel’s relationship with Fran. But who is she, and why is Rachel the only one that can see and hear her?

When Fran’s mother dies, the two women discover a family secret that impacts on their decision to try for a baby. But there is more shock and heartache to come, a visit to New Zealand for Fran and a tough decision for Rachel to make before she finally finds her own kind of family. This is a story that challenges traditional ideas about what constitutes family. It is also about overcoming grief, and healing the past; about love, loss, and ultimately hope. You won’t want to put it down.

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Excerpt

A cough. Annie cocked her ears in alert preparedness. Rachel was not ‘hearing things’. She looked in the direction of the shadow she had seen earlier, her own pulse assaulting her ears. The cough had seemed to come from the kitchen. Had an intruder got in despite the locked door, or had she somehow forgotten to turn the key? She looked around for something with which she could defend herself if push came to shove. Nothing. She tried to remember the women’s self-defence she had learned in her undergraduate days after a particularly nasty rape on campus. Her brain turned to mush.

Then an older woman appeared on the other side of the door from Rachel’s study into the kitchen, and Rachel’s fear turned to confusion mixed with a fair dose of irritation. It was as if she had come out of nowhere. Rachel could only see the top half of her through the half-glazed door. The old woman’s face looked as if someone had scored deep marks on a dark canvas. Her eyes were like two dark pools that seemed to draw Rachel in despite her wariness. The visitor smiled and raised her eyebrows as if asking to be let in. Sighing, Rachel got up and opened the door as it occurred to her that this must be one of the people who had recently moved into number twenty.

‘Fanks, love. I’m sorry. I must’ve give you such a fright. I don’t mean to. Can I come in?’

Rachel looked beyond the woman to the outer door, which was closed.

She was already in.

Available on Amazon!

Guest PostLife doesn’t have neat edges

By Bonnie Meekums

In March 2011, my husband and I drove across the Pennine hills from west to east, turning right for the long journey south. At Dartford, as we climbed over the bridge I looked to my right, towards where I once lived as a child on the south-eastern river banks of London, wishing for just a moment that I could fold back the years, to see my mother young again.

After that visit, I wrote a short story, crafting recent experience into fiction, about an old woman whose body no longer did her bidding. After reading it aloud, my writing tutor Ian Clayton said, with a softness I will never forget:

‘That’s your mam, isn’t it?’

That short story was later woven into my debut novel, A Kind of Family. I remember not having to do much reworking on that section, unlike others. I sat in front of my screen in tears, reliving that day and my sense of loss for the woman she had once been. Grief was layered like one of her sponge cakes, the jam in the middle being relief that we had managed to coax her out, for a short trip in our car. She sat beside me, no longer big enough for an adult sized seat belt, terrified to be out and yet loving it more with every second. I stopped at a garage when she declared she was thirsty, and bought her a child’s ‘fruit shoot’, because that was the only thing she would be able to hold. Three months later, she was dead. 

All novelists make use of their own experience, inserting themselves into memory and imagined scenarios, creating a patchwork that holds up a mirror to human experience, yet is not autobiography. Still, I would argue that one of our tasks is not to overdo the jam in the sponge. Life doesn’t always work out as we hope. If it did, we would not be able to recognise those times when we feel blessed, or very lucky, or just plain deliriously happy. 

One of the things that helps me enter into the embodiment of emotion, is the work I do when I am not writing. I am a Dance Movement Psychotherapist – a psychotherapist who works with metaphors like ‘sinking into the abyss’, ‘growing apart’, ‘wanting to hold onto what has been’, or ‘treading on eggshells’. All these figures of speech, as Lave and Wenger in their seminal work Metaphors We Live By highlighted, have reference to the body – and what interests me, is their capacity to suggest forms of movement. When those movements become a dance improvisation, the possibility arises that new ways of being can be explored, without having to sit right in the middle of a paralysing whirlwind of emotion. Metaphor also seems to be understood by others (did you intuitively understand my reference to a whirlwind there?), without the need for lengthy explanation. Add to this, the fact that all Dance Movement Psychotherapists must have their own therapy, and you end up with a writer whose capacity for self-analysis on an embodied level is honed. 

Of course, I am not claiming my skill is any more developed than most other writers, but perhaps it has been an easier transition for me, from bland description (which I most certainly have done my fair share of), to close encounters with my characters. 

One other interesting thing about writing is, writers often (especially in their first few novels, until they have worked it all out of their systems) make use of their own unconscious preoccupations. One of mine, I realise, concerns abandonment, and when I look at my early years, that is no surprise. My parents were good enough; I just happened to be hospitalized and in isolation at a crucial time in my childhood. A recent article by Arabel Charlaff, in issue no. 84 of Mslexia Magazine, suggests that writers can learn a lot from psychotherapy theory in order to produce more rounded and interesting characters. Unsurprisingly, she suggests writers ask themselves what early experience led a character to be the way they are. What I am proposing is, that when the writer also understands herself, she can spot when she is using the technique effectively, and when she is overlaying her own story onto another character when it simply doesn’t fit, or when the only story she tells is the broken record of her own sad song. 

I could go on. There are so many instances where my own, or my family’s story has impacted on my urge to write about particular topics, but I will end with a positive one. Twenty-seven years ago, I married a man. At the time we got together, we each had two children. We did not live together before the wedding, because we agreed this had to work; the kids had been through enough. And so, we blindly stepped into the territory of step-family life, holding onto each other for fear of falling and failing. Another child came along two and a half years later. Now, we have seven grandchildren, none of whom will experience any difference in my love for them, though some are genetically related, and others not. For all of them, I am Nana. Together, my husband and I created our own ‘kind of family’. My journey inspired me to write about non-traditional families, from which came the title of the book. I chose not to write about a step family. Instead, there is a same sex couple at the heart of my novel. My hope is, readers will find something of themselves sewn into the pages, will be moved by the characters they get to know, and will feel at the end that all is exactly as it should be. Because life doesn’t have neat edges, but what we create as we stumble along can be far more beautiful. 

A Kind of Family is published on January 7th, 2020, by Between the Lines Publishing.

Links for purchase and pre-order:

Barnes & Noble

Amazon UK

Amazon US

About the Author

bonnie meekums_possible marketing pic - CHOSEN.JPG

Born and brought up in working-class London, Bonnie crossed classes when she went to university in the 1970s, eventually gaining a PhD in arts therapies in the 1990s. In the 1980s she crossed the invisible borders from South to North in England, first living in West Yorkshire and settling eventually in an old mill town near Manchester. A mother, step-mother and grandmother, she also travels annually to New Zealand to be with part of her far-flung family.

Bonnie is well known across the globe within the small professional world of Dance Movement Therapy (DMT). She is sole author of two books on arts therapies, one of which (Dance Movement Therapy, London: Sage, 2002) is on many training course essential reading lists and has sold more than 2,000 copies. She has also published numerous research articles and has been invited to teach in New Zealand, the USA, India, China and many European countries.

Whilst still being active in DMT practice, teaching and supervision, these days Bonnie’s writing focusses on novels and short stories. She also writes a blog about becoming an older woman who rambles (a play on words), to be found at https://mamabonnie.wordpress.com/. Her short creative nonfiction The Story Hunter about how her father influenced her love of stories was featured by the online writing collective Dear Damsels on February 10th 2019. Her debut novel A Kind of Family is published by Between the Lines Publishing in January 2020.

Bonnie Meekums

Blog Tour Schedule

January 20th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Guest Post) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/

January 21st

Tales of a Natural Spoonie (Review) https://talesofanaturalspoonie.com/

My Bookish Bliss (Review) http://www.mybookishbliss.com

January 22nd

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

Just 4 My Books (Spotlight) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com

January 23rd

Where Dragons Reside (Spotlight) https://kernerangelina.live/  

Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com

The Genre Minx Book Reviews (Spotlight)  http://www.thegenreminx.com/

January 24th

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Blog Tour Organized By:

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As always,

blog tour · contemporary fiction · family

Blog Tour – Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the ’80s

Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the '80s by Steven Manchester Banner

Bread Bags & Bullies:

Surviving the ’80s

by Steven Manchester

on Tour November 1 – December 31, 2019

 

Synopsis:

It’s the winter of 1984. Twelve-year-old Herbie and his two brothers—Wally and Cockroach—are enjoying the mayhem of winter break when a late Nor’easter blows through New England, trapping their quirky family in the house. The power goes out and playing Space Invaders to AC DC’s Back in Black album is suddenly silenced—forcing them to use their twisted imaginations in beating back the boredom. At a time when the brothers must overcome one fear after the next, they learn that courage is the one character trait that guarantees all others.

This hysterical coming-of-age tale is jam-packed with enough nostalgia to satisfy anyone who grew up in the ‘80s or at least had the good fortune to travel through them.

Praise for Bread Bags & Bullies

“If you loved the ever popular A Christmas Story, be prepared for another classic. Bread Bags & Bullies is a must read! Funny, poignant, and heartwarming—Steven Manchester is a master storyteller.” – Jamie Farr, Actor, M.A.S.H.“Bread Bags & Bullies is a detailed eye-opening experience of the Big Hair decade. Enjoyable whether you were there or not—or just can’t quite remember it.” – Barry Williams, Actor, The Brady Bunch

“Steven Manchester’s Bread Bags & Bullies captures a simpler time, just before technology began dominating America’s time and attention. This nostalgic story is hilarious, told by a family of characters you won’t soon forget. A must read!” – Ed Asner, Actor, Lou Grant

“Steve Manchester’s Bread Bags & Bullies is a fantastic blast from the past, evoking all the fun and nostalgia of the ‘80s—even my big hair!” – Audrey Landers, Actress, Dallas

“An extraordinary recall of 1980s pop cultural, Bread Bags & Bullies will make you laugh out loud as you revisit the pains and pleasures of growing up. The book made me want to pick up the phone, call my brother in Nebraska and reminisce about our own snow day adventures.” – Douglas Barr, Actor, The Fall Guy

“In Bread Bags & Bullies, the writing is so vivid, the pace and rhythm so quick, that I truly felt I was watching it on screen.” – Joan van Ark, Actress, Knots Landing

“Steven Manchester’s latest book, Bread Bags & Bullies, made me recall the town I ‘grew up in’— mythical Mayfield. Instantly taking you back to 1984, the characters and situations are so believable that you’ll want to keep turning the pages.” – Tony Dow, Actor, Leave It to Beaver

“It’s always fun to be a part of history and pop culture. Reading the Waltons’ famous ‘Goodnight, John-boy’ referenced in Bread Bags & Bullies was a special treat—especially since the reply was ‘Night, Erin.’” – Mary McDonough, Actress, The Waltons

“A determined effort. Bread Bags & Bullies rocks!” – Billy Squier, ‘80s Rock Icon, Stroke Me

“You can like this book if you want to. You can leave your friends behind. Because if your friends don’t like this book…well, they’re no friends of mine.” – Ivan Doroschuk, Lead Singer of Men Without Hats, Safety Dance

“In Bread Bags & Bullies, Steven Manchester captures the ‘80s to the smallest detail. With each page turned, memories flood back. Using the lightest of touch, he tells his story with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Bread Bags & Bullies is a delight!” – Nick van Eede, Lead Singer of Cutting Crew, Died In Your Arms

“Steve Manchester’s newest novel, Bread Bags & Bullies, is a well-written love letter to the ‘80s—bringing me home with every page turned.” – Bertie Higgins, ‘80s Recording Artist, Key Largo

Bread Bags & Bullies is so—like, totally—‘84, it makes me want to get out my leg warmers and glow sticks, backcomb my hair, and romp around the room to Footloose. And then I remember, I don’t have any hair.” – Thomas Dolby, ‘80s Recording Artist, She Blinded Me with Science

“Manchester’s book, Bread Bags & Bullies, brings to mind many of our techno ditties. ‘How you gonna keep ‘em down on Maggie’s Farm once they’ve seen Devo?’” – Gerald V. Casale of DEVO, Whip It

 

Book Details

Genre: Commercial Fiction
Published by: Luna Bella Press
Publication Date: November 19, 2019
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0-9841842-7-9
Purchase Links: Amazon | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

FRIDAY

It was the afternoon of Friday 13th, the last day before February vacation. A whole week off from stupid middle school, I thought, excitedly.
From the moment I stepped onto the bus, the atmosphere felt electric, everyone happy for the much-needed winter break. Nena’s song, 99 Luftballoons, was playing on some concealed boom box in the back.
Many of the bus’s green fake leather bench seats were split and duct-taped. As I made my way down the narrow aisle in search of a seat, I heard the usual remarks offered to most eighth graders from the high school kids who’d already claimed their territory.
“You can’t sit here, dufus.”
“This seat’s taken.”
Even on such a joyous afternoon, I was quickly reminded that riding the bus was a hard kick in the teeth. It didn’t matter whether they were wearing black leather vests and chain wallets or Swatch watches and turned-up collars on their pastel IZOD Polo shirts, the high school kids were just plain mean.
As I made my way further down the line, the objections got even stronger.
“Oh, I don’t think so, dweeb.”
“If you even think about sitting, you dink, I’ll beat you to a pulp.”
Eat shit and die, I replied in my head, but never out loud.
I hated sitting with the nerds or the kids that smelled like spoiled lunchmeat, but after receiving enough rejections I began to wonder, Maybe the older kids see me the same way?
Although school had its social order, this mobile environment was even less forgiving. At a time in life when the mind is impressionable—constantly worrying about what others think of you, even about what you think of yourself—the bus’s sadistic hierarchy created scar tissue that would help to define many lives for years to come. It was a cruel testing ground for survival, where the tougher or more popular kids claimed the back of the bus. Those coveted seats were sacred territory that most of us spent years aspiring to. On the big, yellow school bus, physical threats were the least of our worries. This is psychological warfare, I realized early on.
Besides having to deal with the pecking order, there was incredible peer pressure to do things most of us would have never dreamed of doing—like distracting the elderly driver, Mr. Gifford. Given that the bus had no seat belts, this daily practice seemed pretty insane to me. I’d never actually seen Mr. Gifford’s eyes; the two narrow slits were usually squinting into the rear-view mirror. “Sit down!” he constantly yelled.
There was always the smell of smoke wafting from the back, though I was never really sure it was cigarette smoke. Usually, there were two kids making out—a boy and girl—and it wasn’t always the same couple. The bus had its own sub-culture, a microcosm of the twisted society we were growing up in.
It’s amazing Old Man Gifford can keep this giant bus on the road and not in one of the ditches we pass on our way home, I thought.
As I claimed my seat beside another outcast Junior High-Schooler, I spotted my brother, Wally, sitting toward the middle of the vessel. Wally had straight brown hair, serious brown eyes and the chunky Bloomfield nose. He looked like my father. Unfortunately, a terrible case of acne was in full bloom, taking away from his rugged handsome looks. Our eyes locked. I nodded toward him. Although he returned the gesture, he was much more subtle in his action. You’re such a butthead, I thought.
A cold breeze tapped me on the shoulder. It’s freezing in here, I realized, turning around to see that the windows were open in the back of the yellow torture chamber. As I turned, I caught a whiff of my bus mate. And thank God they’re open, I thought, trying to place the unusual smell. Fried Spam? I guessed, before noticing that the stinky kid was wearing a Smokey the Bear sweatshirt that read, Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires. I had to do a double-take. No way, I thought in disbelief, it looks like Beetlejuice, here, has a death wish…wearing a lame pullover like that. I’m surprised he doesn’t have a Just Say No campaign button pinned to the front of it. I chuckled aloud, drawing a look from my new best friend. I pity the fool, I thought, quoting Mr. T.—one of my favorite TV personalities—in my head.
I’d just popped my last Luden’s cherry cough drop into my mouth when I heard it. There was a commotion behind us, much louder than the usual raucous. What the hell? No sooner did I turn in my seat to investigate the ruckus when my heart plummeted past my stone-washed jeans straight into my worn Chuck Taylor high tops.
Owen Audet—the most feared enforcer on Bus 6—was standing toe-to-toe with Wally. He was more than a head taller than my poor brother. Oh no, I thought, Wally’s gotta be shittin’ bricks right now. I swallowed hard. I know I would be. Owen was big, dumb and mean—and heavy on the mean.
“I need to borrow another book,” the Missing Link barked, looming over my brother.
There were a few laughs from the bully’s brain-dead minions.
My mouth instantly went dry, while my heart began to race. Although my brother was on the “big-boned” side, built like a Sherman tank, he still looked so small next to Owen. That dude’s a Clydesdale, I thought, and Wally’s road pizza.
“Sor…sorry, but I can’t do it,” Wally refused, his voice three octaves higher than normal. Even though he sounded like a yipping dog, he somehow stood his ground.
Owen’s face turned beet red. He obviously didn’t appreciate being challenged in front of the crowd.
It’s Friday the 13th, I remembered, and Jason’s back.
Owen grabbed for Wally’s backpack, who pulled away violently.
“Ooooh,” the crowd groaned.
“You must be out of your damn mind, loser,” the aggressor hissed.
“I…I would be if…” Wally stuttered, looking like a terrified Kindergartner, “…if I let you take another book.”
I didn’t blame him. After the way Pop reacted the last time this same nightmare happened, I thought, Wally has no choice. My find quickly flashed back.

~~~

A month earlier, Owen had snatched one of Wally’s school books, opened the bus window and tossed it out—while everyone laughed nervously, hoping they weren’t next.
This could never happen to me, I realized, priding myself on the fact that I never took a book home. This wasn’t because I wasn’t supposed to, or didn’t need to. I’d simply decided early on that if the material couldn’t be learned in the classroom, there was no way I was going to “get it” at home.
When we got home, Wally explained that he’d been “bullied on the bus.”
Our father’s reaction was even worst than the crime Wally had reported. “Bullied?” Pop roared, addressing Wally, me and our little brother in the living room, “there’s no such thing as being bullied unless you allow it, right?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “Lions are not bullied by sheep,” he barked, “and I hope to God I’m not raising sheep!”
“Okay, Pop,” Wally mumbled at a little more than a whisper, “I get it.”
“There’s only one way to set a bully straight,” Pop added, staring my older brother in the eye.
Any one of us could have recited his next words by heart.
“Punch him square in the nose as hard as you can.”
“Walt!” my mother yelled from the kitchen, clearly opposed to the tough lesson.
Pop peered even harder into Wally’s eyes. “As hard as you can,” he repeated through gritted teeth.
Three heads nodded.
Message received, I thought, loud and clear. When teaching us, Pop never gently peeled back the onion. He always sliced it right down the middle, cutting straight to the bitter tears.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Wally had heard two earfuls over the missing book—not just from our father but from his teacher, as well. My brother had reported that his book was missing; that he’d lost it. It was better than the alternative. If he’d told the truth, it would have been so much worse. Owen would have been enraged and Wally’s classmates would have labeled him a stool pigeon. And Pop, well, Pop would have thought he was a coward—a fate worse than death itself.
Yup, it’s so much better to lie sometimes, I decided.

~~~

Back on the bus, the crowd grew louder. “Oooooh…” they sang in chorus; everyone was now up on their knees to witness the inevitable pummeling.
I’d always looked up to my brother. Now, I just felt bad for him.
As Owen’s jaw muscles flexed violently, his beady eyes darted back and forth—his baby brain clearly considering his options. He looked toward Mr. Gifford, whose squinted eyes were looking into the giant rear view mirror positioned directly above his head.
“You’re lucky, you little queer,” Owen spat at my brother.
Wally kept his ground. “Why don’t you pick on…on someone your own size?” he stammered.
I couldn’t believe my ears. It was like experiencing a scene from Karate Kid. Wally’s sticking up for himself, even though Magilla Gorilla’s threatening to bash his squash in. Although my brother had found the courage to stare the predator down, I knew he wasn’t crazy enough to accept the giant’s invitation to tussle.
Owen laughed, cynically. “Oh, you’re my bitch now,” he said, “and I’m gonna take care of you good when we get back from vacation. You got it, bitch?”
The crowd didn’t laugh this time; everyone feeling bad for Wally. It could be any one of us at any time, I thought. Owen was an equal opportunity bully who didn’t discriminate.
“I’m gonna beat you down,” Owen promised Wally, “and it’s gonna be like that for the rest of the year.” He chuckled. “And next year, too.” By now, his putrid breath was inches from my brother’s crimson face, spittle flying with every terrifying word he spouted.
I’d never felt so freaked out, and the scumbag wasn’t even talking to me. I don’t know how Wally’s staying on his feet, I thought, proud that my brother’s eyes never left Owen’s.
As the bus screeched to a stop in front of our house, Wally turned to leave. The brakes weren’t done squealing when Owen pushed him in the back, collapsing him to the filthy floor.
Eyes wide, Wally looked up from his prone position.
“Say one word,” Owen growled, “and I’ll kick your friggin’ teeth in right here.”
Wally scrambled to his feet and glared at him again before marching off the bus, hyperventilating from either fear or anger. Most likely both, I figured.
As the bus’s folding door closed and the air brakes belched out a sigh, I turned to Wally. “Do you think the Sleestak will actually…” I began to ask.
“Shut your damn mouth before I kick your teeth in!” he barked.
“Well, okay then,” I mumbled. My big brother was a master of wedgies and Indian sunburns, with years of experience under his belt. I hope you get yours after vacation, I thought.

As we entered the house, Ma was at the stove, making a vat of hot dog stew. “How was everyone’s day?” the short woman asked. She had the kindest eyes and most loving smile—except on those moody days when she’d eaten a bowl of spiders for breakfast.
“Just great,” Wally said, storming toward our bedroom.
“Better than his,” I said, pointing at my brother.
Wally stopped at our bedroom’s plastic accordion door, spinning on his heels to stare me into silence.
The menacing look worked. “I had a good day,” I told my mother, prepared to quell any questions she might have. “Mr. Timmons, my science teacher, nearly choked to death on an apple in class today,” I told her, laughing.
“And you think that’s funny, Herbie?” she asked, disgustedly.
I shrugged. “You would have too, Ma, if you’d been there,” I told her. “He was just starting to turn blue when he coughed it out.”
“Dear God,” she said, “that’s enough. I don’t want to hear another word about it.”
I smiled. Mission accomplished, I thought, knowing there was no way she’d remember my comment about Wally. “Oh, and we’re on vacation all next week,” I reminded her.
“I know, I know,” she said, her face incapable of concealing her disappointment. “When Alphonse gets home, I want the three of you to clean up that pig sty you call a bedroom.”
“Why would we clean it now, before vacation week?” I asked. “It doesn’t make sense, Ma. We’re only going to mess it up all week.”
“Because I said so, that’s why.” She stared at me for a moment. “If you want, I can have your father…”
“Fine,” I quickly surrendered, “we’ll get started when Cockroach gets home from school.”
My younger brother was still in elementary school and took a later bus. I have a half hour to play Atari, I thought, and that new Donkey Kong game is mint.

The Atari gaming system was the best Christmas gift my brothers and I had ever received. Although I’d begged for Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Ma adamantly refused. “Not on your life,” she told me, “the last thing you guys need is more encouragement to fight.” Instead, we received a much better—and completely unexpected—Christmas present.
The Atari 2600 came with two joystick controllers with red buttons, a conjoined pair of paddle controllers, and black game cartridges that looked a lot like Pop’s 8-track tapes.

Wally stormed out of the room just as I was entering.
“Where are you heading?” I asked.
“To do my paper route.”
“Can I come with you?”
“No.”
“Come on, Wally,” I said. “I can help you and…”
“I said no,” he barked. “Besides, I need to hurry today and get it done quick.”
“Why?”
“None of your business.” He stepped through the kitchen, heading for the front door.
“Be back for supper,” my mother told him.
“I will, Ma,” he said, walking out of the house and slamming the door behind him.
“What’s wrong with Wally today?” my mother called out, just as I was starting to control the block-headed ape on the black-and-white TV screen.
Nice try, Ma, I thought, confident that I’d never make the same mistake twice. “He’s just wiggin’ to get his paper route done, so he can veg out tonight,” I told her. “The Dukes of Hazzard are on and he’s in love with Daisy.” I smiled, thinking, We all are.
“Well, there’ll be no Dukes of Hazzard, if you boys don’t get that room cleaned up.”
“We’ll get it done, Ma,” I yelled from the bedroom. “Me and Cockroach will tackle it when the space cadet gets home.”
I returned my attention to the TV screen, and began jumping barrels with my two-dimensional video ape.

Our bedroom door opened and closed like a cheap accordion, catching Cockroach’s fingers within its folds. “Ouch!” he yelled out.
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. In fact, each time my little brother screamed out in pain, Wally and I laughed like it was the first time he’d ever hurt himself. Cockroach’s injuries never get old, I thought.
As soon as he stopped his belly-aching, Cockroach and I went straight to work. “Either that,” I told him, “or Ma won’t let us watch Dukes of Hazzard.”
“She wouldn’t do that,” he said.
I shrugged. “You wanna risk it?”
“What about Wally?” he asked. “Isn’t he gonna help us?”
“He’s on his paper route.” I thought about it, surprised that I still felt bad for my older brother. “Let’s just get it done, you little cabbage patch kid.”
He flipped me the bird.
Our bedroom consisted of single bed and a set of bunkbeds that was also used as a fort, a spaceship, or anything our cross-wired brains could conjure up—with a bed sheet draped down from the top bunk. There were two bureaus, Cockroach’s padlocked toy box and a small black-and-white TV that sat on a rickety fake wooden stand, the Atari console and joysticks lying in front on the shag carpeted floor. Three beanbag chairs helped to complete the cluttered room.
Cleaning was not as simple as it sounded. Not long ago, Ma had insisted, “You guys are gross and, from now on, you’ll be doing your own laundry and making your own beds.” I had KISS bedding that once belonged to Wally. Although Cockroach liked to pretend he was sleeping on Star Wars bedding, he enjoyed my hand-me-down astronaut set. It wasn’t easy changing the bedding on a bunkbed, but we finally got it done.
For the next hour, while we put away clothes and moved things around—mostly kicking everything under the beds—Steven Tyler from Aerosmith wailed away on Cockroach’s massive silver boom box. Although we each owned a portable stereo system, Cockroach’s was in the best shape. He takes good care of his stuff, I thought, in case he ever wants to unload it to the highest bidder. It was in pristine condition, with no stickers or corroded battery compartment,. He barely used it, so this was a treat.
When we were done straightening up, I turned to Cockroach. “Looks schweet, huh?”
He nodded in agreement. Without a proper inspection, the place looked immaculate—or at least as clean as it had been in a very long time. “Schweet,” he repeated.
It was amazing to me how different my brothers were. Being stuck in the middle of them, I usually played the family diplomat. Cockroach’s real name was Alphonse, after our Pepere—but we always called him Cockroach. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the way he scurried about, or because no matter how badly Wally and I beat on him we couldn’t seem to kill him. I learned later on that he’d actually been nicknamed after a character on one of Pop’s favorite TV shows, Hogan’s Heroes.
Cockroach was more like a skeleton wrapped in olive skin, while I was built on the sturdy side like my older brother. Although we also shared the small potato-shaped nose, I had blue eyes with curly blonde hair, which made more than a few people confuse me for a girl when I was young. Cockroach had darker eyes and a nose as slender as his build, making him appear like the one piece that didn’t quite fit into the family portrait.
“What do you want to play?” he asked me once we’d finished cleaning. His deep dimples framed a grin that was sure to make most females crane their necks.
“We could play with your Stretch Armstrong doll,” I teased.
His handsome face went white.
I laughed, remembering that ridiculously violent day.

~~~

My brothers and I had enjoyed a few rare days of peace, until turning into our usual slugfest. During the melee, Wally grabbed Cockroach’s Stretch Armstrong doll, who ended up getting the worst of it.
Wearing blue bikini underwear, the bare-chested, blonde-haired rubber doll could take a real thrashing. We could stretch him and even tie him into a knot before he went back to his original bulky form. Whether catapulted high into the air or used as the rope in a heated tug of war match, the action figure was reputed to be indestructible.
Screaming for mercy, Cockroach watched on in horror, while Wally and I put that poor doll to the test. We pulled and pulled, both of us ending up on our backsides, digging in our heels to create more distance between us.
As the first break in the skin revealed itself, Cockroach cried out, “You’re hurting him!”
That’s when something came over me and Wally—who was also known as the Mangler. We pulled harder, mutilating Mr. Armstrong beyond recognition and dispelling the fact that he couldn’t be destroyed. As Wally and I finished ripping the arms off of old Stretch, a clear gel that looked a lot like Crazy Glue oozed out.
“No!” Cockroach wailed.
“That’s weird,” Wally commented, nonchalantly, “the jelly doesn’t have any smell.”
Inconsolable, Cockroach went down on all fours to mourn the death of his favorite playmate.

~~~

“You guys suck,” Cockroach said, back in the present.
I couldn’t argue with him. Our job as big brothers is to toughen you up, I thought, justifying the cruel act. I then realized that Wally the Mangler destroyed everything in his path. The new Merlin six-in-one hand-held electronic game I’d gotten for Christmas a couple of years ago, the table-top motorcycle game he unwrapped last year…everything.
“You want to play Operation?” Cockroach asked me.
“Nah.”
“Perfection?”
“Half the pieces are missing,” I reminded him.
“Battleship?”
I shook my head. “Can’t, the batteries are dead.” I smiled. “What about Twister?”
“No way,” he said, “it just turns into a pig pile with me on the bottom.”
I laughed. That’s right.
His eyes went wide with excitement. “What about G.I. Joe’s, Herbie?” he asked. “We haven’t played war in a long time.”
I was well beyond the cusp of being too old to play soldier, but making Cockroach happy was the perfect excuse for me to play. It’s the least I can do after helping to murder Stretch Armstrong, I thought. Besides, war is not an individual sport.

Wally and I had received the entire G.I. Joe Command Center a few years earlier when we’d both gotten our tonsils removed. “It’s for all three of you to share,” our mother had announced, referring to the large gift. In recent months, Cockroach claimed the cool play set as his own, and we were good with it.
It didn’t take long for my little brother to set up everything on the floor we’d just cleared. The grey G.I. Joe Headquarters Command Center was walled in the front and wide open in the back, allowing for the tank to drive in and out of its bay, and the Jeep to enter the Motor Pool. Multiple G.I. Joe action figures manned the communication tactical station with colorful stickers illustrating the security monitors. An armory, filled with weapons, was located directly beneath the Heli-Pad—home to the awesome Dragonfly Helicopter. A holding cell for captured enemies was normally empty—as Cockroach and I rarely took enemies—while machine guns and canons defended strategic positions on top of the spot-lit wall.
For the next hour or so, we fought—and defeated—battalions of imaginary enemies.
“Come in, Flying Squirrel,” I called into a damaged walkie-talkie, “this is Swamp Yankee. How copy, over?”
“I read you, Swamp Yankee,” Cockroach called back on his matching broken walkie-talkie. “The enemy has been neutralized.”
I laughed. Cockroach is too smart for his age, I thought. It must be from all the TV he watches. It didn’t really matter that our walkie talkies had been broken since we’d gotten them. We were kneeling side-by-side only a few feet apart.
“So you really like this girl, Donna Torres, huh?” Cockroach commented, parking the Jeep in front of our perimeter.
I wheeled the tank through the Headquarters compound. “Like totally,” I said, never looking up. Donna’s different, I thought, she’s beautiful. Most girls aren’t too hard to look at, but Donna’s in a class all her own.
“Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” Cockroach joked, mimicking the funny commercial of an elderly woman pushing a panic button on her necklace.
That’s clever, bro, I thought. After a few moments of tank patrol, I blurted, “I think she’s the one.”
Chuckling, my little brother took the plastic helicopter into the air. “Sure she is, Herbie. You said the same thing about Abby Gerwitz last summer.”
He’s right, I thought. For as long as I could remember, I had a huge crush on Abby Gerwitz. But who hasn’t? I thought. “She likes Richard Giles and everyone knows it,” I told him, and because of that my feelings for her had died a very cruel death. “Donna’s the one,” I repeated, hammering my point home.
Cockroach stopped playing. “Have you told her?” he asked, giving me his undivided attention.
“Sort of.”
“Sort of?”
For weeks, I couldn’t stop thinking about exchanging valentines with Donna; giving her those small chalk hearts that said everything I didn’t have the courage to tell her: Be Mine and I Love You. I decided that these colorful messages of affection were much safer to give than a greeting card or a box of chocolates. But what if she doesn’t like me? I kept thinking, torturing myself. I’ll be a laughing stock at school. I began getting heated, picturing Paul Roberts laughing at me, and then me punching his smug face over-and-over-and-over again. Even young, I sensed that love never went unpunished.
On Valentine’s Day, I got to homeroom early and left a box of the chalk hearts in Donna’s desk. I signed the gift, From Herbie. While my heart pounded out of my chest, I watched from the back of the room as she found the candy. She looked back at me and smiled. “Thank you,” she said, and I nodded—my face feeling like it was on fire.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Donna had never gotten the real message I was trying to send.
“I gave her a Valentine’s,” I explained to Cockroach, “but I’m not sure if she thinks I gave it to her as a friend.”
“Oh…” He thought for a moment. “That’s pretty lame.”
“What do you know?” I snapped back. Cockroach was still too young to understand the risk and devastation associated with being rejected by a girl—especially a girl as perfect as Donna. It was like being picked for teams in gym class; no big deal unless you were picked last. And you only have so many shots in Middle School, I thought. If you’re rejected by more than one girl, then you’re destined to be stuck in Loserville for life.
“So what are you going to do?” he asked, bringing me back into the moment.
“I think I’m going to write her a letter.”
“Really?”
“No question.”
While we played, I began to daydream about my crush. I could picture Donna as plain as the bearded G.I. Joe doll I was holding.

Donna’s so choice, I thought. She had the prettiest chocolate-colored eyes and a smile that made me feel like I was the only eighth-grade boy walking the earth. Every day at school, she either wore Jordache or Sergio Valente jeans; these were skin-tight right down to a pair of jelly shoes or clogs. Unlike most of the other girls who wore big hair with bangs—mall hair, as we called it— or tied up in a scrunchy, Donna’s dirty blonde hair was parted in the middle and feathered back. Just like Farah Fawcett on Charlie’s Angels, I thought. She usually wore a shirt with shoulder pads and her jewelry was simple; gel bracelets and friendship beads. I’d only seen her in leg warmers and a colorful headband once, realizing she’d look good no matter what she wore.
Yup, I thought, I definitely have to write her a letter. It’s the only way she’ll ever know that I…

“Herbie!” I heard someone scream.
I looked up. Cockroach was gone and I was sitting on the floor alone. Wow, that’s weird, I thought.
“Herbie!” I heard again, struggling to register reality.
It’s Ma, I realized. “Sorry, Ma, I didn’t hear you.”
“How could you not hear me? I’ve been yelling for you for ten minutes.”
Now there’s an exaggeration, I thought. “Sorry, Ma,” I repeated.
“Your father’s home from work. Go get cleaned up for supper.”
“Okay.”
“Now,” she said.

When I pulled my chair out from the kitchen table, Pop was already sitting at the head of it—wearing his faded dungarees and graying crew-neck t-shirt. Thankfully, his same-colored handkerchief—used to blow his nose and then yank out our loose teeth, sometimes one right after the other—remained in his back pocket.
Wally was also there, his face ruddy from the cold.
“How was school today?” Pop asked, blowing on his hot bowl of stew.
“Fine,” Wally mumbled, his eyes on his steaming meal.
“Good,” I added, “we’re on vacation next week.”
The old man looked across the table at Ma. “Lucky Mom,” he said, grinning.
“And we cleaned our room,” Cockroach reported.
“Well, what do you know,” he said, “it’s a winter miracle.”
For the next half hour, besides the occasional grunt or groan, we ate in silence. “Lots of hot dogs tonight,” Pop commented, dunking a slice of buttered bread into his bowl. “Did we hit the lottery or something?”
Ma grinned. “They were on sale, Walt.”
As they discussed the expensive price of groceries, my mind drifted off again. I couldn’t help it. I don’t even care that Donna has a crush on Kevin Bacon, I thought, shrugging to myself. All those hearts on her Trapper Keeper, with his initials written inside each one—who cares. I inhaled deeply. I love it when she wears that Luvs Baby Soft perfume. I could actually smell the liquid baby powder when I closed my eyes. Ahhhh…
“I’m done,” Wally announced loudly, bringing me back to the table. After placing the plastic bowl into the sink, my brother grabbed his heavy winter jacket and put it on.
“Where are you going now?” Ma asked him.
“The cellar,” he said.
“Good,” she said, getting up. “Why don’t you throw a load of towels into the wash while you’re down there?”
Although Wally’s face contorted, he nodded in surrender. “Fine, Ma.”
Within seconds, she was back in the kitchen with an overflowing laundry basket of mismatched towels.
“Bo and Luke Duke are on tonight,” Cockroach reminded him.
“I’ll be back by then,” Wally said, wrestling the bulky basket out the front door.
My father was finishing his second bowl of soup when he asked, “What the hell’s he do down there, anyway?”
“Laundry,” Ma said, standing to fetch him another bowl of stew.

At eight o’clock, Wally, Cockroach and I watched our favorite show—the Dukes of Hazzard. While we sat entranced by Bo and Luke’s unrealistic car jumps in the General Lee—as well as Daisy’s really short cut-off jeans—Ma treated us to our favorite Friday treat: hand-cut French fries, salted and shaken in a brown paper bag. There’s no better snack on a Friday night, I thought. Hold the vinegar, please.
Once the show was done, the TV belonged to Ma—who watched Dallas at nine o’clock, immediately followed by Falcon Crest. For two full hours, she snubbed out one cigarette butt after the next into a giant ashtray that rested atop its decorative wrought iron stand right beside the couch. In no time, the living room was engulfed in smoke, a low-clinging fog that had quietly crept in. While Pop snored on and off in his worn recliner—a half-empty beer can in hand—my brothers and I decided to call it a night. We’d already second-hand smoked a full pack that day.

My brothers and I wrapped up the night with a lively game of Atari Pong.
Cockroach preferred the longer paddles, while I was a bit more skilled and liked the shorter rectangles. I loved it. With virtual reality, there was much less need for actual reality.

Once Cockroach turned out the light and we retired to our beds, I called out to Wally, “Goodnight, John-boy…”
My big brother normally responded like we were part of the Walton Family, but there was no reply tonight. There was no laughter—just silence.
It suddenly hit me. Wally’s still buggn’ out, I thought, realizing that my brother’s fear was so great that it was swallowing him whole. All because of that bullshit on the bus today. I shook my head. He just needs to take a chill pill. I mean, we’re off for an entire week.

Excerpt from Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the ’80s by Steven Manchester. Copyright © 2019 by Steven Manchester. Reproduced with permission from Steven Manchester. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Steven ManchesterSteven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, Pressed Pennies and Gooseberry Island; the national bestsellers, Ashes, The Changing Season and Three Shoeboxes; and the multi-award winning novels, Goodnight Brian and The Thursday Night Club. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning and BET’s Nightly News. Three of Steven’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for Chicken Soup for the Soul series. He is a multi-produced playwright, as well as the winner of the 2017 Los Angeles Book Festival and the 2018 New York Book Festival. When not spending time with his beautiful wife, Paula, or their four children, this Massachusetts author is promoting his works or writing.

Find Steven Manchester Online:

StevenManchester.com | Goodreads | BookBub | Twitter | Facebook

 

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This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Providence Book Promotions for Steven Manchester. There will be 7 winners. Two (2) winners will each receive an Amazon GC and five (5) winners will each win one (1) copy of Bread Bags & Bullies: Surviving the ’80s by Steven Manchester (eBook). The giveaway begins on November 1, 2019 and runs through January 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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Audiobook · contemporary fiction

Audiobook Blog Tour – The Art of Remembering

Author: Alison Ragsdale

Narrator: Heather McRae

Length: 11 hours 49 minutes

Publisher: Alison Ragsdale

Released: Sep. 23, 2019

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Professional ballerina Ailsa MacIntyre is at the peak of her career when her world is shattered by a shocking diagnosis. Life-saving surgery leaves her with a fractured memory, little recollection of her husband, Evan, and none of her career as a principal dancer.

While recuperating at home, Ailsa hears beautiful music coming from the apartment upstairs, and the sound of the grand piano at the hands of a talented new neighbor sparks her muscle memory. As her recovery progresses, the broken pieces of her past gradually re-emerge, a picture not quite as idyllic as Evan would have her remember. Ailsa must navigate the conflicting visions of her past, and potential future, as they collide.

Buy on Audible

A former professional dancer, and marketing executive, originally from Edinburgh, Alison now lives near Washington DC with her husband and dog. She was educated in England and holds an MBA from Leicester University.

Alison is the author of five, bestselling novels: TUESDAY’S SOCKS, THE FATHER-DAUGHTER CLUB, FINDING HEATHER, A LIFE UNEXPECTED and THE ART OF REMEMBERING. She is also a two-time IPPY Award winner with THE FATHER DAUGHTER CLUB being awarded the IPPY 2016, Bronze Medal for Best Regional Fiction – Europe, and A LIFE UNEXPECTED, winning a Bronze Medal in the 2018 Popular Fiction category.

THE ART OF REMEMBERING, released in July, 2019 debuted as an Amazon bestseller, was a finalist in the American Fiction Awards Literary Category and was selected by BookBub for their Best Book Club Book list in both July and August, 2019.

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Narrator Bio

Heather McRae is from Falkirk in Central Scotland, but met her husband whilst studying at Lancaster University in the North of England, where both were very involved with the Theatre Group. Having moved back to Scotland in 2006, she and her brother took over the music and advertising business their grandfather had started back in the ’60s, and she’s currently in the process of setting up a glamping business to support the maintenance of a listed building. She also sings in two choirs, and she and her husband breed pedigree Tiffanie cats and are very involved in the cat show world.

Reading and writing have been lifelong passions, and Heather won numerous awards for poetry recital and public speaking growing up (though now prefers to be backstage). In 2018, some people commenting on a video she had uploaded to social media mentioned that she has a soothing voice, that would be good for audiobook narration. Seeing this, one of her friends pointed her in the direction of Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange, and helping authors to bring their books to life has become a new source of much enjoyment in her free time. She has developed a fascination for dialects and accents, and now drives her husband mad by trying to learn to mimic every new accent she encounters.

 

Q&A with Author Alison Ragsdale
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • I worked with ACX to find the perfect narrator for this book. Initially, I searched through the available narrators/producers who met the criteria I had: primarily a female and a native Scot, who was versatile with accents. Then I uploaded an audition script and waited to see who would submit an audition reel. I also sent direct messages to a couple of narrators whom I felt would be a good fit. Soon the audition reels began to come in and I listened to each one, closing my eyes and letting the voices soak in. When I heard Heather McRae’s reel, the hairs literally stood up on my arms and I knew she was the voice who could bring this cast of characters to life. When I contacted her, she agreed to take on the project and, the rest is history.
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?
    • I worked very closely with Heather, listening to each chapter as she uploaded them, making edits as we went along, and no doubt driving her crazy with my attention to detail. However, she dealt with all my concerns and edits, quickly and gracefully, so the book began to emerge exactly as I’d imagined it.
  • Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?
    • Yes. The book includes characters from various regions of Scotland, England, and from Sweden, both male and female, so it was important to clearly differentiate between them as they were read. The book is also choc-full of ballet terms that required some clarification, here and there, on pronunciation. I also gave Heather information on the characters’ motivations and emotional temperatures, in certain scenes, to help her interpret particularly intense sections of dialogue. She brought wonderful drama, where it was needed, that made me well-up when listening to it back.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • Yes, there were. I am a native Scot, a former professional dancer, and a brain tumor survivor, so to a large extent, I mined many of my personal experiences for this book. However, I always make a point of clarifying that it’s not MY story, and that those are the only things I have in common with Ailsa. It is still, however, a very personal book to me, in many ways.
  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
    • As far as avoiding burnout, I rely on mother nature. I take long walks every day, with my sweet dog Maddie, soaking in my surroundings without any technology invading my mind-space. It’s meditative, and lets me recharge my sense of calm and connectedness to the earth. I also do yoga, and spend time with my husband and sisters, who help keep me sane.
    • Maintaining my enthusiasm for writing hasn’t been a problem, so far. I am an avid reader and the more great books I read, the more motivated I am to keep learning, and producing books I’m proud of. In terms of my process, I give myself licence to take breaks from writing, even as long as a few weeks, in some cases. That way I’m removing some of the pressure to produce when I may not be feeling inspired, or the story just won’t come.
  • What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
    • I’d say, think again. Whatever method a reader uses to enjoy the written word is as legitimate as any other. Also, think about all the keen readers out there who aren’t gifted with sight, or those who are so busy with life that the only way they can absorb a book is to listen to it, while going from point A to point B. There are so many things that may influence this choice, that to judge it as an inferior method of ‘reading’ seems unfair.
  • How did you celebrate after finishing this novel?
    • It had been 3.5 years in the making, so felt like a major accomplishment. My husband cooked me a lovely dinner and we cracked open a special bottle of Tuscan red wine we’d been saving. It was the perfect way to celebrate, and mark reaching the finish line.
  • Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
    • Yes! Jeffrey Mere, the protagonist in my debut novel, TUESDAY’S SOCKS, first came to me in a dream. I woke at 3.00 am with his name, his face, his personality quirks and a basic outline of his story – all glowing in the dark. It also happened with Heather Forrester in FINDING HEATHER, and then again with Ailsa, in THE ART OF REMEMBERING.
  • What’s your favorite:
    • Food – I love rich, comfort foods like hearty soups, curries and veggie dishes. I also love fish, and the fresh mussels from the west of Scotland are the best in the world.
    • Song – Can’t think of a song, but my favorite piece of music is Vaughn Williams’, Lark Ascending.
    • Book – The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.
    • Television show – Call the Midwife
    • Movie – Julie and Julia
    • Band – Genesis
    • Sports team – I don’t follow sports
    • City – Edinburgh or Florence
  • What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
    • The best advice I can give would be to start writing. Don’t put it off because you feel as if you might not be good enough, or that others will judge your work. I was crippled by fear in the beginning – fear of failing, fear of letting myself down, fear of sharing my work etc etc. The best thing I ever did was join a writing group. I found a circle of wonderful people who all wrote from the heart, in a diverse range of genres. It was a safe place to share, and discuss each-others’ work, and we all grew as writers as a result. It was the first place I shared anything I’d written, outside of with my family, and it helped me get over what was holding me back.
  • What’s next for you?
    • I’m now working on the third draft of book number six, titled DIGNITY AND GRACE, which is a very poignant tale about family, loss and redemption. When that is ready to go back to my editor, I’ve already got book number seven planned out, so I’m excited to start writing that one. The wheels keep on turning.

 

Oct. 27th:

Nesie’s Place

Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author

Viviana MacKade

Southern Girl Bookaholic

Oct. 28th:

What Is That Book About

4 the Love of Audiobooks

Oct. 29th:

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Eileen Troemel

Oct. 30th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

Just 4 My Books

Oct. 31st:

Reading A Page Turner

Nov. 1st:

Cover Lover Book Review

Nov. 2nd:

All the Ups and Downs

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book review · contemporary fiction · dual timeline · historical fiction · NetGalley · women's fiction · WWII

Book Review – My Name is Eva

My Name Is Eva

by Suzanne Goldring

You can pay a terrible price for keeping a promise…

Evelyn Taylor-Clarke sits in her chair at Forest Lawns Care Home in the heart of the English countryside, surrounded by residents with minds not as sharp as hers. It would be easy to dismiss Evelyn as a muddled old woman, but her lipstick is applied perfectly, and her buttons done up correctly. Because Evelyn is a woman with secrets and Evelyn remembers everything. She can never forget the promise she made to the love of her life, to discover the truth about the mission that led to his death, no matter what it cost her…

When Evelyn’s niece Pat opens an old biscuit tin to find a photo of a small girl with a red ball entitled ‘Liese, 1951’ and a passport in another name, she has some questions for her aunt. And Evelyn is transported back to a place in Germany known as ‘The Forbidden Village,’ where a woman who called herself Eva went where no one else dared, amongst shivering prisoners, to find the man who gambled with her husband’s life…

A gripping, haunting and compelling read about love, courage and betrayal set in the war-battered landscape of Germany. Fans of The Letter, The Alice Network and The Nightingale will be hooked.

My Review

Evelyn Taylor-Clarke is one smart lady, and playing a forgetful old biddy in her later years as a resident at Forest Lawns Care Home is quite a challenge. But then, Evelyn has led a challenging life, and she hasn’t forgotten a single minute.

As a young woman, awaiting her husband’s return from the war, Evelyn is itching to “do her bit” for the war effort. When Hugh doesn’t return, then her mind is made up. After training, she is fully versed in the silent kill, the art of subterfuge, and her observational skills are perfectly honed. She ready to go into enemy territory, but then the war ends, and her skills see her going elsewhere – to a facility in Germany where she works as a translator, using the name Eva. What goes on there, she cannot tolerate. The “suspects” brought to the facility are badly mistreated in order to exact information they are supposed to have. And the man in charge – Colonel Stephen Robinson – is the same officer responsible for sending her husband to his death.

Her next job is more to her liking, as she helps displaced prison camp survivors to return home, or to get visas to move elsewhere, and rebuild their lives. When she returns to England herself, once more as Evelyn, she has a secret that it pains her to keep, but one she must. Besides, she has another job to do – and it involves dealing with the Colonel once and for all.

When she assumes ownership of the family home – Kingsley Manor – upon the death of her mother, she is able to put her plan in motion, using all the skills she has learnt over the years.

In her twilight years, she is compelled to move to the care home, and she is fairly certain she has covered her tracks … that is, until her niece, Pat, finds two suitcases on top of a wardrobe, with plenty of potentially incriminating evidence. Police interviews follow, and Evelyn’s performance is Oscar-worthy. She plays them like a virtuoso, giving contradictory comments, acting as though she has a bus to catch, and even arguing over the type of biscuits they’re given. Her niece is perplexed, the detective is bemused, and Evelyn is an innocent old lady … until she chooses not to be 😉

Told in multiple timelines and through letters to her husband, this story is fascinating, intriguing, uplifting, and hugely engrossing. I rooted for Evelyn from start to finish;  tiny details outlined her frame of mind and her intentions – it was sublimely addictive and entertaining. Suzanne Goldring is an author I will definitely seek out again.

Thanks go to NetGalley and the author for my copy, and this review is given voluntarily.

What others are saying about My Name is Eva:

‘Could not put this book down, and heaven help anyone that tried to disturb my reading !!…I absolutely loved this book !…I laughed, I cried, I cheered , I sympathized all because of Evelyn…I could so picture the setting and as Evelyn sets out to fool everyone, I thought you go girl !!I don’t want to say anything else but what a fantastic read…My first, not my last book by Suzanne Goldring. I can’t recommend this book enough !!’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

‘A phenomenal story of courage, love, murder and all the atrocities that go with war.Eva is an extraordinary character, strong, loyal, smart, funny, loving, and brave.A phenomenal read!!’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

‘This may be my new favorite book!!!! I absolutely love the premise of the heroine faking dementia in her retirement home to cover up her knowledge of questionable activities centering around WWII events. The tempo of this novel was perfect–kept me wondering until the very last page!’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

‘Absolutely loved this book and its riveting plot!… The author has successfully penned a debut novel that I would highly recommend without any hesitationAn excellent debut novel from Suzanne Goldring and I look forward to reading more of her work. Historical fiction is my favourite genre to read and this book was every bit as good as some of the well-known WW2-themed titles published in recent years.’ Goodreads Reviewer, 5 stars

‘A poignant and evocative story of love, betrayal and bravery that kept me page turning and completely engrossed from start to finish. Loved it and would definitely recommend.’ NetGalley Reviewer, 5 stars

This book was excellent! Totally kept my attention and I wanted to find out what would become of the main characters. Highly recommended.

As always,

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