Saturday, 29 October 2016

Blog Tour: After the Texans by Declan Milling

I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an arc copy of this book in return for an honest review.  Today I am delighted to share my review along with an extract from the book as part of the blog tour.


At the start of the book, Bull Griffith, coal mine owner and Australia’s richest man, is reflecting on a meeting with Australia’s Prime Minister and Treasurer. Having helped put them into government, he’s unhappy with them and is letting them know. This sets the scene for the plot as it unfolds.

The trip had been an utter waste of time. But he’d had to try. His partners expected it. Those two bastards, Mendicane and Hounganis, didn’t want to hear what he had to say. But he’d told them anyway. And he’d tell ‘em again, if he had to. As for that smarmy little monkey, Mendicane, who had him to thank for being resident in the Lodge: well, just as he gave, so he could take away.
They’d met a couple of days earlier, in Canberra, the Prime Minister’s suite at Parliament House. Mendicane’s chief of staff had shown him in.
“Bull, good to see you, mate,” Mendicane had said, looking at Bull over the top of his reading glasses, a mannerism he had picked up since becoming Prime Minister. His minders had coached him into it as a way of giving him more gravitas, something in which he was sorely lacking. With his hunched, rolling gait and big ears, the satirical cartoonists were showing no mercy.
Shaking the offered hand, Griffith wondered what had possessed him to throw his substantial wealth and political clout behind such a nincompoop. It had guaranteed Mendicane success in the party-room coup that Griffith himself had orchestrated, after one too many anti-mining policy decisions by the previous incumbent. But why, why, had he supported Michael Mendicane MP, the gaff-prone member from a snooty part of Melbourne? He shook his head in a private acknowledgement of his own stupidity.
“I invited Tony to pack down with us.”
“Uh, the other half of the dynamic duo,” grunted Griffith as Tony Hounganis, Mendicane’s Deputy and Treasurer, waddled in through the door from his adjoining office suite.
Griffith looked around the office: behind him, a wall of redwood-panelled doors concealed cupboards and who knew what else, although he guessed they would be pretty much empty; in front, a cluster of armchairs and sofa that looked like giant, spongy, cup mushrooms, inverted; cream-coloured on the outside and brown in the middle. At the far end of the room a large, simple redwood desk on which some papers were scattered and behind which more redwood shelves were sparingly arranged with family photos and a couple of mementos of official visits.
To Bull Griffith, there was little evidence of any serious activity.
“I see you’ve settled in.”
Mendicane gestured for them to sit in the armchairs and Griffith deposited his ample frame in one.
“I’ll get straight to the point. If you go ahead with this policy review you’ve been gabbing about in the press, that’s the end of it. You’ll have lost my support, just like your predecessor did. And don’t forget, that’s how you got to where you are now.”
He fixed them both with his hard, squinting stare.
“Fair go, Bull,” said Mendicane, “you wait until the High Court dumps us on the bottom of the ruck, then you start putting the boot in!”
“Don’t gimme that High Court excuse bullshit, Mick. You know as well as I do that the government could legislate to get around that.”
“Bull, look, be reasonable,” said Hounganis. “The High Court’s just about threatening us. Their judgment was so critical of the government – it said if we keep funding Queensland’s activities with the coal loader and port facilities, we’d be breaking the law. Not just our own laws, international law, too!
“I told you – you can legislate your way round it.”
It’s not that simple, Bull! We’ve got the bloody tourism industry virtually camped in our offices.”
“Those poofters! ‘Camped’ is about right! Wait’ll you get a few miners moving in here.”
“And you might have noticed there were a couple of hundred thousand protesters out in the streets of the capital cities each of the last three weekends.”
“Lefties with nothing better to do. What about the silent majority?”
Jeez, anyone would think we were facing the West Indies speed attack from the nineties, we’ve had so many bouncers bowled at us lately,” said Mendicane. “We’ve been ducking and weaving, rolling with the punches, as far as we can, but we’ve got to start hitting some runs soon, Bull. That’s what the polls are telling us.”
“You’re only interested in saving your own skins, you weak bastards. These policy changes you’ve been talkin’ about – they’ll wreck this country’s economy. They’re pure populist fairy floss. Wind and solar – them so-called ‘renewables – they’re never gonna replace coal in this country.”
He poked a finger in Hounganis’s direction, making him pull back instinctively in fright.
“And if you think you’ll ever balance a budget without exportincoal, just go ahead and try. You’ll never do it.”
“Now, Bull, you don’t need to get like that,” Hounganis responded. We’ve got a very difficult political situation here, mate. Politically, the coal loader is dead in the water.
Bull, mate, we’ve got to listen to what the people are yelling at us. Think of it like a Test match. Over the five days, you’ve got to adapt your tactics to suit changes in the pitch, and the weather, you change your fields, and your bowlers, to suit the batsmen, play to their weaknesses. We’ve got to adapt our strategy, otherwise the crowd’s going to get restless and, and ...Mendicane searched for the right sporting analogy to finish the point he was making, “... and start a Mexican wave.”
Griffith jumped to his feet surprisingly quickly for such a big man. As far as he was concerned, the meeting was over. These two boofheads simply weren’t listening, so there was nothing left to discuss.
“Well, they’ll be wavin good-bye to thousands of jobs, billions of investment, and to this country’s future. That’s just for starters. And they’ll be waving bye-bye to you two and this government!”
“Bull, what the-bloody-hell else do you think we can do faced with a front-row of liberal, left-leaning High Court judges – they’re not binding straight, but the ref’s not watching, is he?” pleaded Mendicane.
“I don’t know, Mick, that’s what you and Tony are here to sort out. That’s why I helped put you here!”
“We might be on the canvas, Bull, but we’re not down for the count!” Mendicane tried.
“I don’t care, Mick, that’s it for me. The next lot of political funding I provide is goin into my own party and my own candidates, not you and your lot. At least, then, I know I’ll get what I pay for.” 

My Review:
I want to start off by saying that this is not my usual read, but when the opportunity arose for me to review this book as part of the blog tour, I decided to take a chance on After the Texans and I was so pleasantly surprised by this book.  I'm not sure what I expected, but what I got is really well written, gripping thriller, that I absolutely loved.

I found that I flew through this book and I had it read in one sitting, in a matter of a few hours.  I enjoyed how action packed the book is, never having a dull moment, with yet another twist or turn always just around the corner. 

While this is the second book in a trilogy, it is also a great stand alone book.  I have not read the first book in the series myself, and I didn't feel as if I was missing out on any part of the story.  I still got to know the characters very well and I really began to like Emil as a character the more the book went on. 

I am very impressed by what I read in this book.  I know that if I wasn't a book reviewer I would never come across some of the great books that I have, and I know for sure that this is not a book that I would have taken a chance on in any other circumstances.  I am very lucky that I decided to take the chance and that I got to discover what it a brilliantly written, thoroughly written story.  
4 stars

After The Texans Blurb
Having exposed the corrupt government in Papua New Guinea, the UN’s carbon market watchdog is riding high. But Emil Pfeffer, its head of market integrity, is in meltdown. The UN investigation has been shelved and his girlfriend, Johanna, has been kidnapped as insurance that his inquiries will go no further. 
Wracked by guilt and desperate to find her, Emil finds himself thrust into the high-stakes battle being waged for control of the world’s remaining fossil fuel resources. 
It's economic war for hegemony over the future of global energy, being played out against a backdrop of Australian domestic politics, where coal mining and the Great Barrier Reef are locked in a fight to the death.
After The Texans is the second novel in the Carbon Black series.
About Declan Milling
Declan Milling has over thirty years experience as an environmental lawyer. Born in Australia,he holds degrees in science and law and a masters degree in environmental law. Currently based in the United Kingdom, Milling divides his time between London and Edinburgh. His first novel, Carbon Black, was released in 2014.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern

I would like to thank the publishers, Harper Collins for an arc copy of this book in return for an honest review.

I have been a huge fan of Cecelia Ahern since I was a teenager.  I feel so in love with her books, each one taking me off to a different place and a different time.  Cecelia Ahern is the reason I read, and I wait patiently each year for her new book to come out, so I can't tell you what an honour it was to see this coming in my letterbox.  I was half way through another book at the time but I dropped everything to get my teeth stuck into this.  I hold Cecelia's books in such high esteem that it is always nerve wracking starting a new one, I always have the worry that I won't like it or that it won't be for me.  When starting this, I had the same worries, but as usual, there was no need to worry, because she had never disappointed me before and she definitely did't disappoint this time around, because in my opinion, this is hands down Cecelia Ahern's best novel to date.

Set in the wilds of Cork, Lyrebird follows an award winning documentary crew as they make their way back to Cork to attend the funeral of one of the Toolin twins, two brothers that they made a documentary on a few years previously.  With one of the brothers now dead and the other left with a huge farm, the documentary crew made up of Bo, Solomon and Rachel decide to follow him in his quest to run the farm on his own.  But when they find a beautiful twenty six year old woman, who has the gift of mimicking sounds living on the property, that no one knew about only the deceased brother, the documentary crew decide to give her a way out of the life she is living now, but to do that she will have to become a public figure, but for Laura or Lyrebird as she becomes known, that is going to take her right out of her comfort zone and she's not sure she's ready to live her life in the spotlight after living a secluded life up until now.

The thing that I enjoyed most about this novel was that it is set very close to my home place.  I live eleven miles from Macroom, I go to college there, I do my shopping there, so to have the book set in a place that I go on a daily basis was a fantastic treat for me.  I adored that the story was set in a place that I could really indentify with and this made the story seem much more real to me.  

Lyrebird is like no book that I have ever read before.  It picked me up and pulled me into this spellbinding story and transported me to Gougan Barra and Galway and Dublin and even to Australia for a short period of time.  I have never read a book that has taken my breathe away as much as Lyrebird has and I don't think I will find another one that will for a very long time.

Everything about this book is simply stunning and I adore everything about it.  The characters are amazing and I adore each and every one of them.  Laura is such a special character and she written with so much love and care, that she turned into a real person for me.  She became a friend and I loved that I was able to spend so much time with her.  Soloman is another character that seemed to capture my heart while I was immersed in this amazing story.

It is very rare that a story this mesmirising and alluring comes along, which is what makes Lyrebird a very special book.  I was utterly captivated the whole way through and I loved every bit of this story, with every turn of the page bringing even more adventure and charisma.  Lyrebird is simply stunning and will dazzle everyone who picks up this amazing book.  I can't recommend it highly enough, all I can tell you is that this is an adventure that you do not want to miss.  As always an exceptionally good read from an incredibly gifted author.

5 stars

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Blog Tour: Preceded by Chaos by M Wheeler

I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an arc copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Preceded by chaos is an illustrated short story.  I can't believe how much I really liked this book.  It is so original and has such a fresh outlook on story telling.  It really is unlike anything that I have ever read before and probably ever will read again.

Initially, I had trouble getting this book onto my kindle and ended up reading it on my laptop instead, which gave me a much better view of the illustrations within the book.  This book gave the main character Mitchell a great introduction and really showed the stresses and strains that working in Emergency Medicine can bring.  Mitchell is at a point in his life where he feels a little bit, a feeling that most people will get at some stage in their life and a feeling that I myself have been familiar with in the past. 

There isn't too much that I can say about this book without giving too much of the story away.  Preceded by Chaos is short, sweet and to the point, taking the reader straight into the story.  I adore that the story is told through illustrations, as this is such a fresh and innovative way of story telling, and one that I hope will catch on more in the future.

I didn't expect to love this book, but more and more recently I'm finding a love of new genres and I am reading books that I would not have considered reading in the past.  I am so glad that I decided to take a chance on this book.  I am also delighted to find that this is the first installment in a series.  I am so looking forward to getting my hands on more books in this series, as I love this way of story telling.

Preceded By Chaos Vol. 0

…Preceded by Chaos is an illustrated short story. The protagonist, Mitchell Weaver, is a young Emergency Medicine doctor. Mitchell has entered a high stress, distinguished profession with the burden of a variety of particularly disturbing personal demons that he must battle every day in order to maintain the fa├žade of sanity and control. The initial instalment of the series, Volume 0, introduces the reader to Mitchell at a point in his life where he has begun to realize that many of his prior indulgences and deficits are no longer compatible with his current life of responsibility.

About M. Wheeler

M. Wheeler held an eclectic series of jobs - including working as a studio engineer and a teacher -
before he entered medical school in his thirties. During his residency while living in New York City, he wrote his first two books which would eventually become the Preceded by Chaos series. Wheeler travels extensively for his job but currently lives in Miami.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Blog Tour: Q and A with Jon Rance

Today I am delighted to host a Q and A with author Jon Rance as part of the Dan and Nat Got Married blog tour. 

What inspired you to write this story? 

Hello. Thank you so much for having me on your blog today. I’m very excited to be here! Dan And Nat Got Married, was inspired by a few things. When I sat down to write my fifth novel, I already knew I wanted to write a really good romantic comedy. Even though all of my novels have been comedies to some extent, I’ve never really tried to write a rom com. So when I started thinking about this book, I wanted a unique hook. I knew my main characters had to meet in an interesting way and that would set the tone for the book. Of course, once I had the idea of two strangers waking up married in Las Vegas, that was it. Everything else took off from there.  

The idea was also influenced by the idea that there are so many ways a relationship or marriage can work. My wife and I met and were married within eleven months and we’ve been happily married for twelve years this year. Some couples can date for years, live together, be engaged for a long time, and plan the perfect wedding and can still be divorced within years. It just goes to show that there isn’t a right or wrong way to be married and I wanted to explore this idea. 

I adored the characters in this book, especially Nat. How did you manage to write such relatable, likeable characters? 

Firstly, thank you very much and I’m so glad you loved the characters. I love them too! For me the most important thing about a romantic comedy is the characters. Yes, you need to have an interesting story, a great hook, and a catchy title helps, but without great characters everything else will fall apart. It’s probably more important than in any other genre because when you’re dealing with love, you have to want the characters to be together and this means caring about them and liking them. I read a lot of reviews of romantic comedies - films and novels - and one of the things that’s clear is that if people don’t like the characters they inevitably didn’t enjoy it. I tried really hard with this book to create a lot of really interesting, likeable, real, and flawed characters that hopefully readers will fall in love with. We have Dan and Nat, but also their best friends, Adam and Ellie, who I think steal a lot of scenes in the book! 

4. Dan and Nat Got Married is a story full of laughs. How do you find the balance between making people laugh and still writing a believable story? 

I forget where I read it, but I read a quote from someone who said that writing a comedy is the same as writing a drama, only with laughs. The essence is that you never start off by writing a comedy, you start writing a drama and then add the laughs later. All of my first, second, third, and probably fourth drafts, are never very funny. I focus entirely on the characters and the story. Once that is done I go back and find where it’s funny and just make it funnier. For me writing is about real life. I’m trying my best to make my books feel as real as possible and life isn’t always funny or dramatic, it’s a combination of both. My old editor at Hodder always told me, comedy is about light and dark because unless you have contrast you can’t appreciate the other. I hope that all makes sense.  

The cover for Dan and Nat Got Married is striking and very eye catching. Did you have any input into the designing of the cover? 

I designed the cover myself! One of the biggest things about the book is that it’s set in London and London is so important to the book. I knew that I wanted to have the London skyline on the cover and so I worked with that and went from there. For me covers are incredibly important and they really draw readers in. I’ll read the blurb of any book if I love the cover. I’m so glad you think it’s striking because I wanted it to stand out in a very packed market. I also wanted it to be a bit different from other romantic comedy covers. It has the essence of similar books so readers know what it is, but hopefully it is a bit different and people will be drawn to it and then the blurb will do the rest. 

If you had to describe this book in one sentence, what would it be? 

Marriage can be difficult. Especially when you’ve only just met.  

I adored everything about this book. When you were writing it, which came first, the characters or the storyline. 

Great question. Well it’s sort of a bit of both. The initial idea of two people waking up married was the starting point, which is storyline. But the hardest thing about the book from my perspective was giving both characters good and realistic reasons for giving the marriage a go. In reality most people would probably just get divorced and never see each other again, so I had to spend a lot of time working on the characters and giving them both valid reasons for wanting to give love a second chance. When writing the book, I sort of switched between working on the characters and the story. I’m also a very disorganised and spontaneous author. My first few drafts are always me trying to figure out the story and getting to know the characters. A lot can change between the first and third drafts! 

What can we expect from you next? 

I’m already working on my next book. It’s still very early on and again, until I actually start writing it, I’m not entirely sure where it will go. I do have a very good hook for a novel though and a title I love. I have the beginning and the end and some ideas about the middle, but it’s very much a work in progress. All I can say at the moment is that it’s going to be a lot bigger in scope, tone, and I think more dramatic than my previous books. It will definitely have some humour because as I said before, I’m trying to recreate real life, but the story definitely gives me more room for a bigger emotional journey. I hope that sparks some interest! 

I loved both Dan and Nat, but do you have a favourite? 

Oh that’s cruel! How can I choose? I really loved writing this book because it does have some great characters. I especially enjoying writing the scenes between Dan and Adam because they’re so typically blokey, but also touch on some difficult subjects that bring them closer together. I also really loved the scenes with Nat and her best friend, Ellie, because they’re so different as people, but love each other so much. I really couldn’t choose because I love them both so much. I also really enjoyed writing the scenes with Nat’s family, especially her strong, domineering Irish mother!  

What authors have influenced you in your work? 

Gosh, so many. I think the biggest influences for me have been Nick Hornby because reading ‘High Fidelity’ really changed how I thought about writing. Mike Gayle because reading ‘Turning Thirty’ inspired me to write my first novel. David Nicholls because he inspires me to be better. I think ‘One day’ is just the perfect book. I have friends like Matt Dunn and Andy Jones, who I talk to online a lot - although there’s a beer on the horizon - who constantly keep me going. They’re also both really great blokes. The writing community in general is so friendly and lovely.  

Thanks so much for having me on your blog. It’s been an absolute pleasure!  

The Blurb:

The British romantic comedy you need to read this year.

From the bestselling author of This Thirtysomething Life, Happy Endings and Sunday Dinners, comes a brilliantly funny romantic comedy, perfect for fans of Love Actually, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones.

Marriage can be difficult. Especially when you've only just met. Meet Dan Fox, 34, an online marketing manager from Clapham, who was jilted at the altar two years ago by the love of his life and hasn’t dated since.

Nat Howard, 32, is living back at home with her parents in Dorking after her perfect boyfriend dumped her and she had to move out of his bespoke flat in Putney.

On separate Stag and Hen weekends in Las Vegas, Dan and Nat wake up married. Both too drunk to remember what happened, they return to England and try to get on with their lives. But there was something about Nat that makes the usually cautious Dan think they should give their marriage a go. Nat’s still in love with her Ex, but maybe Dan can help mend her broken heart.

Can marriage between two relative strangers really work? And when Nat's ex-boyfriend - the gorgeous Charlie - comes back into her life, she must decide - something old or something new?  

Set in London, Dan And Nat Got Married, is a funny and full of heart modern romantic comedy about marriage, relationships, and giving love a second chance.


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