Read an extract: An essential guide to London – global epicentre of Bespokist consciousness, community and culture

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The_Bespokist_Society_Guide_to_London_COVER Large (002)And now for something completely different: The Bespokist Society Guide to…London

“sparse… some glaring omissions” FoodPorn London

“only page 23 is of mild interest” http://www.londonpetlover.com

“Wow!!! A genuinely bespoke city guide!!!” Tommy Sponge, chairman, The Bespokist Society

You have in your hands one of the most curated city guides ever created. As the first travel book produced by Continue reading

Review: Audrey Davies wraps up Hattie Hastings trilogy with a frothy flourish

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CoverIf you’ve already read the first two parts in the wickedly funny Hattie Hastings trilogy by Audrey Davis, you don’t need me to tell you The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part Three is an equal delight.

And, if you haven’t read the series openers, why not?

You’re missing a treat.

Because, despite what can only be described as an ever so slightly bonkers plot – Hattie’s dead husband, Gary keeps popping back from the after-life to ensure his darling wife is getting her life back on track – this trio of novellas are pure sunshine.

Part Two ended with Hattie heading for Edinburgh to deliver a message on behalf of husband Gary’s other-world companion, Marty, aged eight-and-a-half, who wants to tell his mum and dad…

What the blurb says:

The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part Three: A ghostly and witty romantic comedy
Some people just won’t take death lying down …
Nothing lasts forever…

Could it be that Gary’s time on earth is coming to an end? His visits are less frequent and his visibility is fading fast.

But Gary still has a mission to accomplish, which involves Hattie and her ability to pass on a heart-rending message. And there’s something else he needs to do, but spirit guide Clarence isn’t proving very helpful.

Hattie’s best friend Cat’s ex-husband is determined to prove that he deserves another chance, but do leopards really change their spots?

Times are tough for Hattie’s mother Rachel, but, where there’s life, there’s always hope …

Meanwhile, is there someone already in Hattie’s life who can help her move on when it’s finally time to say goodbye?

Get your tissues at the ready – both for laughter and tears – with the final instalment of a trilogy that has been hailed as ‘brilliant’, ‘hilarious’, and ‘a great feel-good read’.

Sorry, it would be too much of a spoiler to tell you exactly what Marty wants to say – or how his parents reacted.

But, if a strange woman turned up on your doorstep, and said your dead son had something to tell you, I’m guessing you might be a trifle discombobulated.

Witty one-liners

And that’s what makes Davis such a great read: she has an almost Roald Dahl-ish ability to take a simple, slightly wacky idea and follow it through to a logical conclusion.

Best of all, she peppers the story with witty one-liners that’ll keep a smile on your face from first page to last.

This is feel-good fiction at its frothy, funny best.

Review by Sue Featherstone.

Available to buy on Amazon.

About the author:

Audrey Davis​Audrey Davis survived secondary school on the west coast of Scotland.

Rubbish at science, but not too bad at English, she originally wanted to be an actress but was persuaded that journalism was a safer option.

Probably wise.

She studied at Napier College in Edinburgh, the only place in Scotland at that time to offer a journalism course.

Her first foray into the hard-nosed newspaper world was as a junior reporter in Dumfriesshire. Duties included interviewing farmers about the prize-winning heifers to reporting on family tragedies.

Taggart

Davis eventually persuaded her editor to let her launch an entertainment column which meant meeting the odd celebrity – or just the downright odd. From there, she moved to the loftier rank of senior reporter back in her home patch. Slightly more money, less farm animals but a higher crime rate.

As Taggart would say: ‘There’s been a murrrrder!’

After a stint in London on a video magazine – yes, she is that old – Davis moved to Singapore with her fiancé. She tried valiantly to embrace the stinking heat, humidity and lack of jobs, although she did work briefly on a magazine which was banned by the government for ‘artistic’ use of naked men’s bottoms.

Next on her adventures was a land Down Under where her main focus was raising Cost Centre One (aka firstborn) and coming to terms with the imminent arrival of Number Two.

Still, she loved the Aussie way of life – BBQs, beaches and bring your own booze to restaurants – so it came as a blow when OH announced a move back to the UK.

Not a job between them, the climate a possible deal breaker and an Exorcist-style vomiting infant on the flight home didn’t bode well …

Bombshell

Always a survivor, Audrey sought out similar-minded friends (i.e. slightly bonkers), got the children into a good school and thought about taking up writing again.

Sadly, thinking about it was as far as she got, unless you count shopping lists. Then, hubby drops another bombshell.

Switzerland. As in – it’s packing time again. Off to the land of cheese, chocolate, scarily efficient trains and a couple of teeny, tiny issues. Like driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and speaking a foreign language (French).

The former was conquered fairly quickly (we’ll skip over the wall demolition in week two), the latter remains an ongoing battle of the hopeful against the hopeless.

Writing Fiction

At least she provides amusement for the local workforce.

It wasn’t until 2016 that Audrey rediscovered her writing mojo with an online Writing Fiction course. From there, her first novel – A Clean Sweep – was born, although it took a bit longer than nine months from conception.

A short, darker prequel – A Clean Break – followed, and in November 2017 she published the first in a novella trilogy, The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part One. Part Two followed in  March 2018 and Part Three is published today (July 30).

And now Davis may have a wee lie down…

Follow Audrey Davis on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

Review: Murder in the Med, twisty thriller from Peter Mayle, author of A Year in Provence

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Murder in the MedWho knew Peter Mayle wrote deft, very enjoyable thrillers?

Not me.

Until now my knowledge of Mayle’s writing was confined to the highly successful, semi-autobiographical A Year in Provence, which my husband liked a lot…and me, not so much.

Accordingly, Murder in the Med was a delightful surprise.

Mayle, a former advertising executive, is an economical writer who doesn’t waste a word. Continue reading

Review: Best-selling author Samatha Tonge takes a new direction with new novel Forgive Me Not

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Forgive Me Not 2 (002)Every reader knows never to judge a book by its cover.

So true – because the pretty, canary yellow, sunshine cover of Forgive Me Not doesn’t even begin to hint at some of the difficult themes explored by author Samantha Tonge.

It’s a bit of a departure for Tonge, who’s better known as a best-selling romance novelist.

But her own battles with alcohol and addiction and her journey towards well-being provided the inspiration for Emma, the recovering alcoholic heroine of Forgive Me Not.

But this is not just the story of Emma’s struggle for sobriety, as well as sibling rivalry, Continue reading

Review: Opening a bookshop in a small town seemed a good idea. But was it?

An explanation: this review is about a book – but it’s also about a film. It’s a film review – but the film is an adaptation of the book – and it mentions the book too. OK?

The Bookshop

The film is The Bookshop, currently doing the cinema rounds, and based on the book of the same name by Penelope Fitzgerald. The original was published in 1978 and shortlisted for the Booker – and I simply can’t understand why I hadn’t heard of it until now. Continue reading

Review: JV Baptie makes a layered and intriguing debut with The Forgotten

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CoverWhat happens when your dad goes to work one day and doesn’t come home?

‘We waited and waited for him,’ says the person, who decided the murdered man would not be forgotten.

And years later the memory of Detective Sergeant Helen Carter’s father comes back to haunt her when her first job in CID is a murder inquiry.

Her boss Detective Inspector Jack Craven doesn’t want a woman on his team.  Continue reading

Review: It’s a smile-a-minute in Helen Bridgett’s witty rom-com The Heat is On

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coverIf you’ve got your wits about you, you’ll know when you’ve had too many glasses of schnapps.

It’s the moment when it starts tasting okay.

Thank 50-something travel agent Angie for the advice.

She’s the down-to-earth heroine of Helen Bridgett’s sparkling new romantic comedy The Heat is On, which is peppered with similar smile-a-minute nuggets.

Want another taster? Continue reading

Meet the author: don’t cross swords with Death on Dartmoor author BA Steadman

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Death on DartmoorWhatever you do, don’t mess with crime writer BA Steadman, author of Death on Dartmoor.

She’s a dab hand with a sword!

Although it’s a little while since she went into battle, Steadman’s a second Dan in the Japanese martial art laidō, which roughly translates into English as ‘the way of mental presence and immediate reaction’. Continue reading

Review: Best friend, Soulmate and Confidante… but someone’s Faking.

I’d been wanting to get hold of a copy of this since first reading about television producer Jane Fallon’s latest book. It was the title that did it: Faking Friends.

Faking 1

Anything to do with ‘Friends’ is of interest to my co-author, Sue, and I, given that we’re soon to complete our Friends trilogy, which so far consists of A Falling Friend, A Forsaken Friend and the third which has the working title of A Forgiven Friend. Continue reading