Monday, April 17, 2017

Cink Street Spring Reading Week: "Peanuts & Eggcups" by Sara Mendes da Costa Guest Post

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Book: Peanuts and Eggcups

Author: Sara Mendes da Costa

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

Synopsis: For Maggie Parsons there’s only ever been one man: the stunningly delicious Luke Henderson. Unfortunately, he left her, without explanation, after their ‘first night’ together …breaking her heart in the process. 

Now ten years on, without any contact, he’s back and going to her school reunion. Great! And, to confuse matters…so is his suave, sexy, brother Tony who makes a major play for Maggie, then turns up with his insufferable - supposedly ex – fiancée! 

Via the reunion, a black eye, getting the sack (as a result) a madcap girlie holiday and juggling her confused emotions around the two alluring brothers…Maggie starts to build a picture of what she really wants in life. 

Trouble is, Maggie’s a pawn in a game she doesn’t even know she’s playing …and things are about to get a whole lot more complicated. 

Guest Author Post

Magical spring

Well, how fabulous is spring! I have to say I simply love it.
Fresh starts, more sunshine, longer days, people smiling more, getting out and about into the world. It’s like spring is Britain’s morning. It’s our awakening time after the long sleep of winter. It’s when we rouse and stretch and say: ‘Hey world, we’re up, we’re awake, we’re ready – what’s in store for this year?’

I so love the different seasons but spring brings something a little extra special.
For me, it feels like the season of hope, of possibilities and of that extra ‘spring’ in the step. We’ve done our hard graft, we’ve survived the dark days, we’ve done our hibernating and it’s time to venture out, to not rely on Netflix in quite the same way (actually, I’m not sure that’ll ever happen for me!) and it’s time to think about adding more colour to our wardrobe. To pack away the long boots in favour of ankle boots. To shake off the thick winter coats in favour of thinner, lighter, brighter layers and, certainly for me, to wear less black. That in itself feels pretty healthy.

There’s nothing quite like the wonderful energised, newness of spring and everywhere I look in nature, there’s a gorgeous sense of fresh growth and evidence of a new cycle. I simply love the first stirring sightings of the spring flowers, particularly the yellow ones. Funnily enough yellow isn’t a colour I’m drawn to or ever wear, it’s not a colour which features in my home either, but when it comes to the garden and nature, yellow flowers are so uplifting. The wonderful first daffodils then the crocuses and later on freesias (my favourites) …and then mix those with the glorious blues of the forget-me-nots, the bluebells and the purple irises and it’s quite a heady combination. And how fabulous do spring flowers smell; delicious!

There’s also the promise of warmer, longer days and summer just a little out of reach but up ahead for sure. For me, in particular, there’s the knowledge that it’ll soon be time to sit out in the garden on the garden swing chair, gin & tonic beside me on the old tree stump, wiling away the hours dreamily; bliss.

I love the bees beginning to buzz around and even the ants building their nests. Everywhere I look in the garden, there is something new sprouting up and coming alive and there’s that wonderful fresh green that you don’t quite match at any other time of year. Out of the old comes the new; the gardens die down in winter and are reborn in spring.

There’s a difference in the way I feel too, I imagine it’s the same for so many of us; we fill up with renewed energy. I always think it’s wonderful that we are lucky enough to have real changing seasons. I know we all complain about the lack of sun and warmth but one of the great things about our good old British weather is that we do have variety – perhaps a little more wind, rain and cloud than we might like, but still. We have defined seasons and with spring, there’s a very definite change and a reminder of what we’ve been missing, with memories of the previous year ‘spring’ing up to prompt us. It’s the one time where the buds grow in this unique way, we have the random pockets of warm sun we’ve missed for so long and we can finally start venturing out a little more.

I think that witnessing the newness all around me promotes positive emotions; I feel better. Things inspire me. Spring gives me ideas for new projects and renewed enthusiasm to tackle things I didn’t want to do during the darker days of winter. I certainly have more energy in the longer lighter days and I can set about clearing my space, my home, my garden, my office and my mind… as if there’s something inside me telling me it’s going to be a good thing for me to do – to create a clear canvas on which to paint a new chapter.

You can probably tell by now – I’m a fan! This is such a positive time of year, full of possibilities and hope…and anything that helps us to feel good, has my vote.

So, thank you spring – I think you’re rather ‘blooming’ special.

About the Author

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Sara Mendes da Costa is the voice of the BT Speaking Clock; the fourth person to hold this prestigious title since 1936.

A successful, world-renowned voiceover artist, her dulcet tones are easily recognisable on television, radio, film and across countless media.

Never far from the press, she’s known for her appearances on BBC Breakfast, ITV This Morning, Children in Need, Wake up to Wogan and The Today Programme, and balances her prolific voiceover career with her passion and commitment as a novelist.

Peanuts & Eggcups, her debut novel - hotly anticipated by the industry - is “The perfect & highly addictive reading companion for women’s fiction fans”. `

A lover of laughter, creativity, great storytelling and a wee dram, Sara adores writing novels and seeks to entertain, uplift and inspire.

Her upcoming novels: Time & Time Again & Maggie Ever After, are expected in 2017.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"The Book of Air" by Joe Treasure Blog Tour Guest Author Post

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Book: The Book of Air

Author: Joe Treasure

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

Release Date: April 4, 2017

Synopsis: Retreating from an airborne virus with a uniquely unsettling symptom, property developer Jason escapes London for his country estate, where he is forced to negotiate a new way of living with an assortment of fellow survivors.

Far in the future, an isolated community of descendants continue to farm this same estate. Among their most treasured possessions are a few books, including a copy of Jane Eyre, from which they have constructed their hierarchies, rituals and beliefs. When 15-year-old Agnes begins to record the events of her life, she has no idea what consequences will follow. Locked away for her transgressions, she escapes to the urban ruins and a kind of freedom, but must decide where her future lies.

These two stories interweave, illuminating each other in unexpected ways and offering long vistas of loss, regeneration and wonder.

The Book of Air is a story of survival, the shaping of memory and the enduring impulse to find meaning in a turbulent world.

Guest Author Post

Why did you choose Jane Eyre as the book that governs Agnes’s society?

What if a random book, that we know to be a work of fiction, were to survive a cataclysmic event? And what if a future community, with no concept of narrative fiction, were to take that book as a unique guide to life’s purpose? What would that community look like? What rules would it live by? What kind of rituals would it have constructed for itself under the book’s influence? These were some of the questions I had in my mind, before I began The Book of Air.

I didn’t know, at this point, that I was going to use Jane Eyre. I just knew it would have to be something familiar enough that readers would at least have heard of it. I didn’t want to start by shutting people out. When I’d completed a draft, one of the people I gave it to was a guy in his twenties, very bright but with no literary background, just now beginning to get into reading. He’d never read Jane Eyre, never seen a film or TV adaptation of it, never heard the name Rochester. I wanted the book to work for him as well as for the Bronte fan, and for everyone in between.  

I have a resistance to writing that parades its own cleverness. Narrative writing that’s full of intellectual references creates a problem whether you get them or not. If you don’t get them, you flounder. If you do, you’re constantly being bounced into a cognitive place. You’re stuck in your head, when you want to be free to experience emotions. Above all, a story has to evoke feeling.

So I knew I was setting myself a challenge. It would only work if I started with a book that was not only well-known, but had a central plot that could be easily grasped. I briefly considered Oliver Twist, whose main character people know through films and musicals as well as reading. But I quickly ruled out Dickens as too urban, too dependent on the social mechanisms of city life. Dickens is interested in institutions, law courts, prisons. I was envisioning a rural community, isolated, materially self-sufficient. Jane Austen wouldn’t do, either, but for different reasons. Her small communities would be on a recognizable scale, but the subtle rules of decorum that governed their interactions would baffle my imaginary villagers.

It didn’t take me long to settle on Jane Eyre. I saw in Charlotte Bronte’s fictional world the clash of elemental forces that these future readers would respond to. Austen’s Lydia Bennett, eloping with Mr Wickham, risks social ruin. But when Jane Eyre discovers that her employer Edward Rochester has a mad wife locked upstairs in the house and runs away to escape his advances and the temptations of her own desire, she almost starves to death on the moor.  The passions, of love or enmity, are starkly drawn. The elements are vitally present.

To tell the story of that community, I imagined a young woman called Agnes. Though dutiful in many ways, and devoted to the study of Jane’s life, Agnes chafes against the limitations imposed on her. The story is told in her voice, through a journal she is secretly writing. Through her eyes we see how food is worked for, how order is kept, how matters of love and marriage are regulated, how sexual transgressions are punished or covered up, how the dead are buried. It’s a story of disobedience and punishment, of the impulse to escape in sharp conflict with the desire to belong.

I hadn’t gone far into telling this story before it occurred to me that its readers might reasonably expect an account of how this community came into existence. Why this isolation, why this piece of land and these buildings, and why, particularly, this book?

A parallel narrative was required – the story of how our world gave way to theirs. I found myself being launched into something much more daunting, because of its scale and it catastrophic trajectory – an account of how everything we are familiar with comes to an end. For Agnes’s story to be possible, nature must thrive, but people and social structures must be destroyed. There would be pockets of survivors, the ancestors of Agnes’s community being one.

My novel became more complicated but also richer. I found myself thinking about the essential experience of loss, the way memories are constructed, and the basic human urge to create meaning.  

About the Author

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Raised sixth in a family of nine, Joe Treasure enjoyed a capriciously Bohemian childhood. Having received his educational grounding at the hands of Carmelite priests, he escaped to Cheltenham Grammar School where he excelled only in music and art. His architectural ambitions were thwarted by low grades in maths and physics. The local college of further education allowed him to pursue more congenial subjects, after which he surprised everyone, not least himself, by winning a place to read English at Keble College, Oxford.

Settling in Monmouth, Wales, Joe taught English and ran an innovative drama programme. He moved to Los Angeles at the turn of the millennium to join his wife, Leni Wildflower. Temporarily unemployed, he set about fixing up Leni’s house and turned to writing fiction.

In 2004, at the end of George W Bush’s first explosive term in office, they relocated to London where Joe studied creative writing at Royal Holloway. He wrote The Male Gaze, a novel that drew on his American experience, mingling social comedy with political drama. Offered a two-book publishing contract with Picador, he went on to explore the divided loyalties of an Anglo-Irish family in Besotted, a novel that celebrates the enduring bonds of brotherhood.

The Book of Air is Joe’s first venture into speculative fiction. He and Leni currently live in Balham, London.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Clink Street Spring Reading Week: "Kate vs The Dirtboffins" Guest Post + Excerpt

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Book: Kate vs. The Dirtboffins

Author: Nolan Parker

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

Synopsis: Kate Smith, a woman with the world at her Jimmy Choo clad feet. Just one more job and she can buy out her business partner to finally be her own boss.
That job? The Horticulture Investigation Agency, a government quango sheltering in a Cambridgeshire backwater. MP Desmond Barrington believes closing this will make his career.
But the scientists don’t want to play ball, starting with a militant researcher dressed as a cabbage taking his protest to the roof. Clambering up to save him ruins Kate’s perfectly picked outfit.
As he plummets on to the arriving MP’s car, Kate thinks that things can’t get any worse. Then a familiar face comes in to view – Dave Thomas, the man she fell in love with at University and now Barrington’s aide. The one who broke her heart.
When potato blight claims another outfit and a rampaging hoard of protestors take over the site, she wonders if she will ever get to her goal, and can love be part of the master plan? 

Guest Author Post

All about the Dirtboffins

What are Dirtboffins?  We all know a Dirtboffin.  They are the unassuming, friend of a friend who works in ‘research’ for a government related entity.  We don’t really know what they do or what fills their 9-5 and when they try to explain, it’s in so much detail you switch off.  They are the one with the best Christmas Jumper, found nursing an ale at the beer festival or going to some obscure gig of a band you haven’t heard of, probably in a field.

Why are they Dirtboffins?  Well they have one area of specialism, plants.  If you watch the American TV show ‘Bones’, Hodgins is a Bug Boffin, another member of this type of group.  He gets excited about larva and growth periods, and finding unusual spiders.  A Dirtboffin is similar, but they like to dig up veg, comment on plants and talk about Latin names as if everyone knows exactly what they mean.

This particular group of Dirtboffins have done a very good job of hiding themselves in the outskirts of Cambridge for many years doing God knows what.  Seriously, no one knows what they have been doing but with the joys of Labour Governments and Quangos they have got away with it for so long no one questions the paper work when it goes in for the next budget request.  Along comes a new Government, and hey presto, all change.  Suddenly, all these big public section initiatives are out, and cost cutting exercises are in.  So along comes Kate.  Go getting, second in command at a business consultancy Kate.  The woman charged with helping the new leaders making those savings, which means that well-meaning, crazy jumper wearing, research scientists are for the chop.

And so the trouble breaks out.  Kate is only trying to do her job, though she lacks the empathy button which doesn’t help when trying to have well-meaning conversations about people losing their job. In her eyes, as long as the deadline is hit and the client it happy, then she is happy.  The Boffins aren’t so sure and they fight back, leading to all kinds of fun and games before we find out who wins the game of ‘Kate vs the Dirtboffins’.


To set the scene.  Kate and the team from her company KOD have been on site for a few days sorting out the closure.  The Minister who commissioned them has decided to visit (mainly for a PR opportunity).  He turns up with his Aide, Dave, the man that Kate fell in love with at University but never told how she felt.  While the MP does a tour of the grounds, Kate and Dave have been chatting and ended up locked in a shed.  After been set free, they return to make a presentation to the Minister and Dirtboffin team from HIA.

‘Kate looked at the assembled group. At the front sat the Minister and next to him Dave. Nothing on Dave’s face betrayed their recent activities although he very studiously avoiding looking at her too much. There was an aisle down the middle of the chairs and on the left side sat Andrew and the HIA bods. No one from the institute was going to be seen sitting with the enemy.

Gareth stumbled through the door, apologised for being late and quickly found a seat on the empty side of the room. This was going to be tough. On the left no one wanted to hear what she had to say, on the right they might be enjoying the other’s discomfort a little too much.

This was an opportunity. And Kate knew that opportunities had to be grabbed when they were as big and juicy as this could be.  Put on a good show for the Minister and then watch the government business flow in. One day she might look back on this presentation as a turning point in her career. Despite the pressure, Kate wasn’t worried; she knew she gave good Powerpoint. The audience was about have its socks blown off.

Andrew was also seeing an opportunity. He had a feeling that whoever was feeding information to the minister about HIA was in the room. As subtly as possible, he kept a watch on Barrington to see if he appeared to be making special eye contact with anyone.

The projector lit up and the first slide appeared on screen. It was just the K.O.D. logo with the title of the talk – “Horticultural Investigation Agency, transitioning into the future”. Kate started to introduce her subject. It was mostly management jargon but came across better than that ‘This is how we close you down’. Not that she minded being harsh, it was just that the day had been eventful enough without the nerds starting a riot.

            “Can we turn the lights down a bit; I can’t see the screen properly.” Piped up a member of the audience.

She didn’t see the speaker but was happy to comply. Sometimes you don’t want to see the whites of your audience’s eyes. Kelvin, in his role as technician, did the honours. With the blinds down and lights off the room seemed cooler and a bit more relaxed.

            “As I was saying, I’m going to outline the transitional journey that we intend to take HIA along in the next few months.”

            “Miss Smith, can I stop you there a moment,” interrupted Andrew. “Have you been investigating our potato shed recently?”
Kate felt her temperature rise. She hoped the dark was hiding her blushes. How could he know?

            “Well I was just taking a look around. Err, helping the Minister’s aide to get a proper understanding of the geography if the site... Is there a problem?”

With a little chuckle in his voice, Andrew said, “It’s just that you appear to have picked us some blight on your clothes”.

Blight? What the hell was he on about? She looked down and saw to her horror that there were blobs on her suit. Luminous yellow blobs. Great big glowing blobs! Good God, her boobs were lighting up the room!

Looking up in a panic she saw Dave. All over his jacket and trousers were the same blobs. What the hell was happening?

As Kate’s mind raced for an explanation that didn’t involve the truth, the rest of the audience worked out what was happening. Sniggers turned to outright laughter when they saw that there were two people glowing in the dark.

            “Kelvin, turn the lights back on,” Kate barked and then wished she hadn’t. Dave was blushing and furiously trying to wipe the glow off his clothes. She knew that her face was the colour of a lobster.

            “What’s going on here?” asked Barrington his eyes darting between Dave and Kate like a tennis spectator. After a few seconds he stopped and stared at Dave aghast then looked over to Andrew who was sitting back with a quiet smile on his face.

            “I fear that our, erm, colleagues have been spending some time in the potato packing shed recently. In fact judging by the state of their clothes the, erm, investigations must have been very thorough.” Andrew continued trying to suppress a chuckle.

            “What do you mean?”

            “Well you see we are carrying out a little trial. It’s very hush-hush obviously. Genetic modification stuff you understand. The Department did approve the work”

            “GM? You are doing GM here? Why did no one tell me?” The Minister’s face was getting as red as Kate’s but with annoyance rather than embarrassment. He was supposed to have been briefed on this place and there had been no mention of any GM stuff. No mention of anything controversial at all. Whoever agreed that this could happen was going to find himself out of a job sharpish. Dave looked bewildered.

            “Yes Minister. It’s all perfectly above board, a little work for the crisp manufacturers. You see they have a problem with potato blight. It’s difficult to spot you see unless you look at the leaves closely and know what you are doing.

            “Now, with the cut backs in skilled labour, they need an easier way to spot the disease. What we’ve done is mutate Phytophthora infestans, that’s the blight mould for lay people, so that it glows in the dark. We’re very pleased with the results so far. There’s a bit more work required before we can market it commercially of course but the results are very promising.”

            “You’ve made luminous potatoes?”

            “Well not the potatoes themselves, I doubt there is much of a market for glow in the dark crisps! No, what we have done is made the blight luminous. That way a farmer can look at his crop at night and see where he needs to spray. It could revolutionise the industry. Perhaps you’d like to see a more detailed explanation from one of my scientific colleagues?”

The Minister didn’t want a more scientific explanation. What he wanted to know was why he didn’t know about this trial. And why his aides bollocks and that bolshie woman's boobs lit up like a Christmas tree as soon as the lights went out. He wanted know what the hell was going on and how he could avoid it being his fault.

            “Now it appears that our colleagues picked up some of the blight from the packing shed. It’s in the dust you see which is why we have strict bio controls in place. I will have to investigate why the door wasn’t locked. We don’t want it being released accidentally after all. In fact to be on safe side, we will need to impound your clothes and burn them. Just to ensure there is no cross-contamination you understand.”

As Andrew spoke, both Kate and Dave realised that people were backing away from them.

Andrew turned to Olive, “Would you ask the containment team to get up here please.”

She turned and looked apologetically at Kate before going to make a phone call.’

About the Author(s)

Nolan Parker are Candice Nolan and Phil Parker. We are currently working on a future best seller destined to blast its way to the top of the book charts.

Why did we start on this journey in the first place?  Well, it all began with being told we didn’t have a job. Minding our own business at an education quango in 2010, David Cameron got voted in to Government, and things went downhill from there.

Coming out of the big closure announcement meeting one said to the other, “We should write a book about this” and so ‘Kate and the Dirtboffins’ was born.  With a few weeks left on our contracts it was one way to fill the time!  So conversations across the partition between desks became chapter upon chapter of a book. Nearly five years later we are still going and things are finally coming to fruition. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

"Geekerella" by Ashley Poston Review

9:00:00 AM


Book: Geekerella

Author: Ashley Poston

Publisher: Quirk Books

Release Date: Febraury 4, 2017

My Rating: ★★★ 3/4 (3.75 Stars)

Synopsis: Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

Book Trailer

      First of all, I want to thank Quirk Books for sending me a review copy for an honest review as well as a super cool scented candle. I really appreciate it.

      On to the review. I don't want to say much because I think this is something that you should experience without much knowledge. It's a really cute book and I want you all to have fresh authentic feels. As most of you know, me and young adult, especially young adult contemporary don't have as strong of a relationship as we used to. The genre has been annoying me and I feel like I've been growing out of it. With this book though, I wasn't not annoyed, but instead filled with feels and entertained, for the most part. 

      As the name suggests, this novel is a spin on the ever so classic Cinderella. What I like about it, is that it doesn't stick to the story to a T, but rather is more flexible, while still keeping the important elements. I think fairytale retellings is one of my favorite tropes because I get to relive my favorite childhood tales in a new way that is different each time. Like for instance, as most of you know, I love ACOTAR/ACOMAF, which is a twist on Beauty and the Beast, which is interesting considering I absolutely hate Beauty and the Beast.

    Writing-wise, it was your pretty basic YA contemporary writing, nothing special. Part of it is told through text messages, which I really like that style of prose for some reason. Books with messages or emails like automatically go up 1/2 a star in my book just because I enjoy reading that style of writing.

      I don't want to say much about the plot or the relationship(s), but just know that they will not disspoint and that they are cute. Very cute. One thing I do want to talk about is how the fandom at the center of this is very much like Star Trek, despite Star Trek existing in the book. I love Star Trek, and the new fandom in this book kind of felt like a cop out of Star Trek with a mix of some other sci-fi shit.

real talk Bones is my spirit animal and I aspire to be a mixture of him and House when I'm a doctor

     Overall, it is was a nice, easy, light, quick read. If you want something cute to read or something to pick you up, this is the book for you.

My Rating System

★★★★★ This book is a gift from the literary gods
★★★★ This book was pretty damn good
★★★ This book had potential but missed the bar
★★ I probably didn't finish this book or it was god awful
★ Why does this book exist?



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