Friday, 27 May 2022

Unaccustomed To Grace by Lesley Bannatyne BLOG TOUR #UnaccustomedToGrace @BannatyneLesley @RandomTTours


Unaccustomed to Grace is a collection of short stories where the unlikely outcome for irresponsible acts and unfortunate events result in redemption. 

Bannatyne's mastery of the written word informs these stories of common conflict with a brilliantine magic rarely found in contemporary literature. 

From the unlikely romance between a zoo employee and a spiritualist/activist to the redemption of a grandmother's long-rehearsed vengeance, these heart-warming stories are the contemporary fables we need in these stressful days.



Unaccustomed to Grace by Lesley Bannatyne was published on 8 March 2022 by Kallisto Gaia Press. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 



Extract from Unaccustomed To Grace 
by Lesley Bannatyne


Corpse Walks into a Bar

JUST ME THERE AROUND CLOSING and Sid the owner is back in the kitchen loading highball glasses into the dishwasher and this corpse stumbles in and starts going on about how I gotta bury him. The juke is pumping heavy metal because that’s what Sid likes and it’s just me in the bar so he doesn’t care. Well it’s not just me and that’s the problem here.

“You’re none of my business,” I say to the corpse. “I don’t know you. I don’t know your people.”

“A decent person would honor a dead man’s request,” the corpse says. “A decent man would help a pal,” he says.

“You’re not my pal,” I say, eyes steady on my glass. “And I’m not a decent man.”

“You don’t have to be a decent man to do a decent thing.”

“Right.” I grab my jacket and head for the door. The corpse lets out this long spew of rot breath and starts to wail. I mean, really wail, like he’s crying for the sadness of everyone that ever lived, for the mothers that lost their babies right inside their own stomachs, for the little kids that wandered into swim- ming pools. I mean a deep, shin-splitting, gutted kind of crying.

I take a good look at him. Skinny guy, couldn’t have been much to him even when he was alive. Feet too big for his body. Not that old, maybe 50s. Thinning black hair combed straight back and shellacked. Hands—a little pulpy.

“What’s your name?” I ask.

“Dick Doyle.” He smooths his rumpled button-down. 

“Can you walk alright?”

“No,” he says, rubbing his eyes with a filthy sleeve. 

Every instinct says leave the bar. Go home. But when a man cries, well, I don’t know. What’s the harm, I think. I put on my jacket, sling the corpse’s arm over my shoulder. I know that this is not my last mistake.

Fucker still weighs about 120 pounds and I got arthritis in my shoulder from when I dislocated it when I was ten. August, me and Ray down by the Neponset River behind the power plant where the water’s always warm. Tied a fat rope to a sycamore and climbed up to swing out. But Ray pantsed me and shoved me from the tree so I flew out over the water with one arm holding onto the rope and the other holding onto my shorts. Doc eventually snapped the shoulder back into place. Man that hurt, but we laughed for years about me swinging Tarzan-style over the river with my white ass hanging out. It used to make me happy to think of us all as kids—me, my little sister Patty, Ray. Now I stuff the memories as far down as I can. When they pop up, I hammer them back.

“I can pay you,” the corpse says. “I’m serious. You bury me and I’ll sign over my store.”

“What store?”


“Stationery store. I’m not nobody, you know.”


I couldn’t turn it over in my head. I tried to picture the guy not as a corpse. Like a regular guy, with all his skin. Tried to imagine him in a sweater, pushing buttons on a cash register. Couldn’t do it.

I’m thinking I should leave the corpse at a shelter or church where someone would find out who he was and call the right people. Guy’d get put in a potter’s field. Or maybe they’d make his ashes into diamonds and sell them. They do that now, turn bodies into diamonds. The carbon. Only takes a pound of ashes, says my ex-buddy Ray, and he reads the Globe every day. I wouldn’t have turned Patty into diamonds for a million bucks. Buried her right, in a nice coffin, St. Mary’s. Rose quartz stone.


Praise for Unaccustomed to Grace 


 
There is a clear-hearted and humane writer at work here, whose work holds room for both suffering and grace.
--Shruti Swami, A House is a Body and The Archer

 
Bannatyne’s stories are full of heartache and loss, but they are never bleak or cynical. [She] is a superb writer of the mind, but an even greater reader of the heart. This book, filled with characters caught in between futility and redemption, was, for me, an exercise—a deliberation—in empathy."
--Sui Li, 5 Under 35 honoree, Transoceanic Lights

 
From macabre fantasy to raw reality, Lesley Bannatyne's terrific stories introduce an authentic voice and unique vision. UNACCUSTOMED TO GRACE revels in danger, in warped heroes, in ebullient—sometimes devastating—fearlessness. A wise and thoroughly enjoyable book!”
Daphne Kalotay, Russian Winter, The Blue Hours

 
These carefully observed, sometimes surreal stories capture characters in freefall. Each one—wolf wrangler, tarot card reader, guru, anthropologist, Soviet farmer, or parents of children taken, gone, returned, or fragile—will find a place in your heart.
—Vanessa Diffenbaugh, The Language of Flowers

 
Lesley Bannatyne’s stories in Unaccustomed to Grace are harrowing, funny, magical, and heartbreakingly, reassuringly human. Here we are with our flaws and troubles, and also our insight and even our grace. There’s a shimmering mythic streak through them, too, that sets Bannatyne in the tradition of seanchaithe – storytellers – who wield the old enchantments with an unerring instinct for revealing the soul’s sickness and its perfect cure. She seems to have x-ray vision that peers straight into the human heart, and a flawless ear for the bumps and rhythms of talk. This is a marvelous book, full of wonder, courage, and truth, and it’s a great pleasure to read. I loved it!
--Dr. Kate Chadbourne, A November Visit
 

These are stories to read and ponder, to share with others, to admire, and then to read again. Bannatyne’s themes are universal and her storytelling completely original. Pick up this book as you would a shining stone on the beach. Carry it with you and don’t let it go.
—Lynn C. Miller, The Day After Death and The Unmasking


LESLEY BANNATYNE is an American author who writes extensively on Halloween, especially its history, literature, and contemporary celebration.  
She also writes short stories, many of which are included in this debut collection Unaccustomed to Grace (Kallisto Gaia Press, 2022). 
Her work has been published in the Boston Globe, Smithsonian, Christian Science Monitor, and Zone 3, Pangyrus, Shooter, Craft, Ocotillo Review, Fish, and Bosque Literary Magazines. 
She won the 2018 Bosque fiction prize and received the 2019 Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award for fiction, the 2020 Ghoststory.com fiction prize, and was a finalist for many others, including the Tennessee William Literary Festival Writing Award, the Carve Prose & Poetry Contest, and the Hudson Prize. 
As a freelance journalist, she has covered stories ranging from druids in Massachusetts to relief workers in Bolivia. 
Lesley is a graduate of Wheaton College (MA) and holds an ALM from Harvard University Extension Studies. 
She lives and works in Somerville, Massachusetts.








Thursday, 26 May 2022

One of The Girls by Lucy Clarke BLOG TOUR #OneOfTheGirls @lucyclarkebooks @fictionpubteam @RandomTTours #BookReview

 


WE WERE DYING FOR A HOLIDAY

The six of us arrived on that beautiful Greek island dreaming of sun-drenched beaches and blood orange sunsets, ready to lose ourselves in the wild freedom of a weekend away with friends.

On the first night we swam under a blanket of stars.

On the second night the games began on our clifftop terrace.

On the third night the idyll cracked, secrets and lies whispering on the breeze.

And by the final night there was a body on the rocks below . . .

WHO WOULD KILL FOR IT?




One Of The Girls by Lucy Clarke is published today, 26 May 2022 by HarperCollins in hardback. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour



I do love a novel set in Greece and Lucy Clarke has created an idyllic Greek island that anyone would want to visit. 
However, as isolated and serene as the location is, the events that take place during this hen party holiday are certainly not what one expects from a girl's break away.

Narrated by each of the female characters, the story begins as they all arrive in the luxury villa on the Greek island to celebrate Lexi's forthcoming wedding. These women are a tight unit, some have been friends for years, some are newer to the scene. There's an established couple, a grieving sister-in-law, a frazzled new Mum amongst them and they all have their own issues. 

On the face of it, it seems as though this will be the perfect break, but as the reader learns more about each woman, it soon becomes clear that there are deep-rooted issues and hidden secrets eating away at some of them. Plus, we have an anonymous narrator, whose occasional input into the story just adds more tension and mystery. 

The reader knows that something is going to happen, there's going to be a murder, but trying to work out who the victim will be, and why certainly kept me on my toes. My guesses changed with almost every chapter!

Some of the women are more rounded and more interesting than the others, but that's reflective of any group of people I guess. 

If you want a dash of Greek sunshine, mixed with the complexities of modern female relationships and a murder thrown in too, this one is for you. I really enjoyed it and it would be absolutely perfect for reading on a sun bed, on a Greek beach! 




Sunday Times bestseller, Lucy Clarke, writes from a beach hut, using the inspiration from the wild south coast to craft her stories. 

Her debut novel, THE SEA SISTERS, was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick, and she has since published A SINGLE BREATH, THE BLUE/NO ESCAPE, LAST SEEN, YOU LET ME IN, and THE CASTAWAYS, which was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month. 

Lucy's seventh novel, ONE OF THE GIRLS, is 'an electric, sun-soaked thriller', which will be published in May 2022. Her books are published in twenty territories. THE BLUE, is currently being filmed for a major international TV series for Paramount+ and will be on screens in 2023.

Lucy is a passionate traveller and fresh air enthusiast. She's married to a professional windsurfer and, together with their two children, they spend their winters travelling and their summers at home by the sea.











Friday, 20 May 2022

The Age of Static by Phil Harrison #TheAgeOfStatic @MrPMHarrison @melvillehouse BLOG TOUR #MH20 #BookReview

 


You can tell a lot about British society by its television. More than any other country, Britain still gets a sense of itself from the output of its national broadcasters. So what can we learn from the TV of the last two decades?

Beginning in 2000, this book explores the televisual contours of Britain, via five themed chapters: Britain's identity crisis; property and the class system; 'banter' and political correctness; the role of the BBC; and the impact of reality TV on politics. Over this period, Britain has become more divided, more fractious and less certain of its place in the world.

What did Jamie's School Dinners tell us about our perceptions of the working classes? What does our love of Downton Abbey say about the national psyche under duress? And how did Top Gear help to ignite Britain's culture wars? In this lively and wide-ranging account of twenty tumultuous years, Phil Harrison asks how we got here - and the role television played in the process


The Age of Static by Phil Harrison was published on 22 October 2020 by Melville House. I am delighted to join this special blog tour that celebrates twenty years of publishing by Melville House. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 



The Age of Static by Phil Harrison does exactly what the sub-title says. In it, the author looks at how TV explains modern Britain, from the year 2000 through the next twenty years. 

This is a book that I've dipped in and out of over the past month or so, it's not the type of book that I'd read straight through but it is fascinating and telling. Phil Harrison is a TV critic and his observations within the text are precise and on the mark.

For most of us, the television burbles away in the corner of the room. We all have our favourite, must-watch shows, and if you are anything like me, there are hundreds, probably thousands of other shows that people will avoid. The beauty of the growth of TV over the years is the amount of choice. I'm old enough to remember when we had three channel and these all shut down at night. No scrolling through hundreds of channels, and watching TV through the night for us!

What this did mean was that most people watched the same shows and the amount of viewing numbers meant that the issues raised in the programmes often became things that the whole country talked about. It was a form of community, as we all looked on at the escapades of various soap characters - some were even mention in the House of Commons! 

What Phil Harrison does so very well in this book is align our behaviours to the things that play out on screen, from small community values, to the rise of social media and 'banter', the celebrity of the often untalented reality show contestant, to the searing political wit that screen writers so often include in their scripts. 

It's a fascinating book that not only brought back memories, it also made me think hard about how that box in the corner can influence the nation. Enjoyable and informative read, written with style and authority.





Wednesday, 18 May 2022

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan BLOG TOUR #TheMurderRule @DervlaMcTiernan @RandomTTours @fictionpubteam #BookReview

 


No one is innocent in this story.

First Rule: Make them like you.

Second Rule: Make them need you.

Third Rule: Make them pay.

 They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.

 They think I’m working hard to impress them.

 They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.

  They're wrong. I’m going to bury him.


The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan was published on 12 May 2022 in hardback by HarperCollins. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour 




Dervla McTiernan's The Murder Rule is her first stand alone novel and instead of her usual Irish setting, in this story, the reader is transported to the southern states of the USA.

Hannah Rokeby is a young law student who is determined to become part of The Innocence Project. This project actually does exist in America, and the people who work there spend their time trying to free the innocent, prevent wrongful convictions and create a fair justice system.
Hannah manages to secure a voluntary post at the project, and it is clear from the outset that she is quite an unconventional character. Her method of ensuring her place on the project is unusual and shows her total determination to get what she believes is correct. 

Leaving her mother at home, Hannah moves to Virginia and the story really begins.  Michael Dandridge is the prisoner who Hannah is really interested, and once again, she manages to get just where she wants to be ... right in the middle of the case being prepared to free him.

However, the reader is aware that Hannah may not have the same reasons for working on this case as the other volunteers and staff. We are privy to the contents of a diary, written many years ago. The words in this diary are Hannah's fuel, she knows what she wants and she will do nothing to stop it happening. 

With a fairly slow start, the author settles the reader into the story, the background, and most imporantly of all, to Hannah's inner feelings. I really know very little about the legal system in America and have to admit that there are events within the plot that did surprise me, I'm not sure if these were poetic licence taken by the author, or whether the system really does work like that. 

The Murder Rule is a well structured novel that kept my attention throughout. Whilst not always likeable, Hannah is certainly complex and I enjoyed the way she was built by the author. 

Great storytelling, with a fascinating premise. I will certainly look out for more from this author. 






Award-winning, number one bestseller Dervla McTiernan has established herself as one of the
biggest names in crime fiction. Her books have garnered critical acclaim around the world and sold over 400,000 copies in Australia and New Zealand alone.

In 2022, McTiernan returns with her first ever standalone thriller, The Murder Rule. Inspired by the true story of a young law student who worked at the Innocence Project and eventually uncovered evidence which exonerated a man who had been in prison for 26 years, McTiernan has created an unforgettable, twisty thriller – the must-read novel of the year.

Sign up for Dervla's Newsletter at https://dervlamctiernan.com/newsletter/

About Dervla:

Dervla McTiernan’s debut novel, The RĂșin, is a critically acclaimed international bestseller published around the world. The RĂșin won the Ned Kelly, Davitt and Barry Awards and was shortlisted for numerous others. It was on the Amazon US Best Book of the Year list 2018 and screen rights were snapped up by Colin Farrell’s production company and Hopscotch Features. Dervla’s second book, The Scholar, won the International Thriller Award and debuted straight into the Nielsen Bookscan Top 5 on release in 2019, and her third, The Good Turn, went straight to no.1, confirming her place as one of Australia's best crime writers.


Instagram: @dervlamctiernan

Facebook and Twitter: @DervlaMcTiernan





Tuesday, 17 May 2022

It Never Rains But It Paws by Jacqueline Lambert BLOG TOUR #ItNeverRainsButItPaws #JacquelineLambert @RandomTTours #WorldwideWalkies

 


Five years after giving up work to travel full time, Dog-ma Jacqueline (Jackie) and Dogfather Mark race against time to leave the UK before Britain exits the EU. If Brexit happens, their four Cavapoos (Cavalier/Poodle cross) Kai, Rosie, Ruby, and Lani will lose their puppy passports, and the Lambert Family will be unable to travel together. But Brexit isn’t their only obstacle. A few months into their adventure, the pandemic suddenly shatters their plans, and leaves them trapped in the epicentre of Europe’s No. 1 coronavirus hotspot.

The fourth road trip Europe adventure in author Jacqueline Lambert’s “inspirational and hilarious” series of true travel memoirs invites you to join the couple as they discover even more amazing and little-known places, this time in France and Italy. However, this isn’t just a priceless escape travel story filled with humorous mishaps and mountain adventure. The coronavirus pandemic separates the family from their loved ones at home, and leaves Jackie stranded alone during a blizzard in a remote Italian village, with Mark thousands of miles away, back in the UK.

Between terrible weather, political mayhem, and a global pandemic, Jackie and Mark try to take lessons from each hardship. Yet, even with a positive attitude, a sense of adventure, and a caravan full of loved ones, you can’t stop all the obstacles life rolls your way. These “amusing and informative” travel stories are certainly proof that It Never Rains… But It Paws!


It Never Rains But It Paws by Jacqueline Lambert was published on 21 April 2022 by World Wide Walkies. 

As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you here today. 



Extract from It Never Rains But It Paws by Jacqueline Lambert

Our Exit Before Brexit – An Out of Season Odyssey

To guarantee a clean exit from the UK, like the one Boris Johnson promised Britain from the EU, we definitely had to leave before the deadline – no ifs, no buts...

The first time Mark and I set off for Spain, there was an unprecedented heatwave. Temperatures in Iberia soared above 50°C and people died from the heat. On that occasion, we decided to turn left, and towed Caravan Kismet (‘Fate’) to Romania.

This time, two days before our ferry to Santander was due to depart, Mark opened an email and detonated instantly into a rant.
“I don’t believe it! Our tenant has given notice!”

A short delay to redecorate, re-let and restore our income would not usually be a problem. We were nimble retirees; open to spontaneity and not terrorised by schedules. Except a huge, fanged monster
called Immovable Deadline loomed over our plans. The Three Sisters of Fate had waved their distaffs and unleashed their Furies upon us.

After toppling his predecessor, the UK had an illustrious new Prime Minister. Many refer to him as Boris, or BoJo, which I feel is somewhat informal, given his position. An innate reverence for authority demands I show him due respect. As such, I always use his full title, which is befitting a Right Honourable Male Member, and call him ‘The Johnson’.

Elected on a single promise to ‘Get Brexit Done’, The Johnson’s primary Prime Ministerial proclamation determined that Britain would exit the European Union (EU) by 31st October 2019, “no ifs, no buts.” He omitted to say that in the interests of serving democracy, this also meant regardless of whether it flouted any minor inconveniences, such as UK law or the will of a democratically elected parliament.1 Famous for quoting his number of offspring as, “five or six,” it is very clear; The Johnson just isn’t a detail man.

He claimed to have an ‘oven-ready deal’,2 carefully prepared to tickle the EU’s tastebuds. The idea was simple – Britain should keep all the perks of being in the club without paying for membership. Unfortunately, if it existed at all, the deal was still a bunch of disparate ingredients, and he didn’t have a recipe. And it was all on a metal plate that would blow up the second it was placed in the EU’s microwave.

His assertion that he “would rather be dead in a ditch” than extend Brexit beyond Halloween, even if it meant a No Deal Brexit,3 concerned us.

Our quest to Live the Dream is all about a voyage of discovery. We wanted to explore Spain, then spend the winter skiing in Italy. If Britain left the EU without a deal in place, which looked increasingly likely, all agreements with the EU would be void.

Never mind the catastrophe predicted for Britain, our personal No Deal fallout would mean invalid UK pet passports and four fur babies who could no longer travel with us to Europe.
Hence, our pressing need to make our exit before Brexit.

***

The ‘Phew! What a scorcher!’ headlines and pictures of packed beaches that accompany British
heatwaves, however brief, quickly yielded to the mother of all monsoons. Gale force winds cleared the path for ex-hurricane Lorenzo’s boisterous approach to the fair shores of Blighty. With over seventy flood warnings in place across the British Isles, it could mean only one thing.

The Ca-Lamberti, as our friends call us, were back on tour!

Four years previously, when we departed on our very first road trip, cramming our life into a box on wheels was a work of art. This time, we intended to be away for a year, not a paltry three months. Our expedition would incorporate a full span of the seasons, which compelled us to find space for a few extras normally consigned to storage between junkets. 

This included three boxes of ski gear, four pairs of skis, a set of winter tyres for our van, Big Blue, plus the new portable caravan air conditioning system we’d purchased as indemnity against simmering Spanish temperatures. It arrived the day before we had to cancel our ferry.

To compensate for this extra baggage, we left behind the caravan awning (the tent-like extension that goes on the side) and reduced our arsenal of windsurfing equipment by a couple of boards and sails. Mark weighed everything fastidiously: we were within our weight limits.

Just!

“I’ve missed this!” I said to my beloved, as we lay in bed with Michael Flatley and the full cast of Riverdance practising their steps on the caravan roof.





Jacqueline (Jackie) Lambert is a dedicated doggie travel blogger and author.


B.C. (Before Canines) she rafted, rock-climbed and backpacked around six of the seven continents. A passionate windsurfer and skier, she can fly a plane, has been bitten by a lion, and appeared as a fire eater on Japanese T.V.

A.D. (After Dog), she quit work in 2016 to hit the road permanently with her husband and four pooches. Initially, they were Adventure Caravanners, who aimed To Boldly Go Where No Van Has Gone Before. 

Now, they’re at large in a self-converted six-wheel army lorry, with Mongolia in their sights.  
Jacqueline has published four books about how she and Mark went from wage slaves to living the dream. Fur Babies In France, Dog on the Rhine, Dogs ‘n’ Dracula and Pups on Piste all fall within one of her favourite genres; light-hearted travel memoirs. Her forthcoming books will chronicle their tour of Poland in a pandemic, and their new life as Trucking Idiots.

All Jacqueline’s books have received multiple five-star reviews and Dogs ‘n’ Dracula was a finalist in the Romania Insider Awards for Best Promotion of Romania Abroad. Dog on the Rhine has been a bestseller in Amazon’s German Travel and Rhine Travel categories, and on release, Fur Babies in France outsold Bill Bryson, albeit for a very short time! 








Monday, 16 May 2022

Keep Her Sweet by Helen Fitzgerald BLOG TOUR #KeepHerSweet @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks #BookReview #SiblingRivalry

 


Desperate to enjoy their empty nest, Penny and Andeep downsize to the countryside, to forage, upcycle and fall in love again, only to be joined by their two twenty-something daughters, Asha and Camille.

Living on top of each other in a tiny house, with no way to make money, tensions simmer, and as Penny and Andeep focus increasingly on themselves, the girls become isolated, argumentative and violent.

When Asha injures Camille, a family therapist is called in, but she shrugs off the escalating violence between the sisters as a classic case of sibling rivalry … and the stress of the family move. 

But this is not sibling rivalry. The sisters are in far too deep for that.

This is a murder, just waiting to happen…

Chilling, vicious and darkly funny, Keep Her Sweet is not just a tense, sinister psychological thriller, but a startling look at sister relationships and they bonds they share … or shatter.




Keep Her Sweet by Helen Fitzgerald is published in paperback and digitally on 26 May 2022 by Orenda Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour.


Helen Fitzgerald is one of my go-to authors. Her writing is sharp, shocking, dark and always laugh out loud funny. You do need a dark, almost macabre sense of humour to appreciate her scathing wit. There were passages in this book that I read out to my husband, they are funny, but shocking funny. Be warned!

Fitzgerald takes a family unit and breaks them down into four individual characters who have very few redeeming features between them. Penny and Andeep Malony-Singh are the parents. They thought that relocating to the countryside, to a smaller house where they could upcycle pieces of homeware (basically junk ...) would be their own  happily ever after. The problem here is that no matter where you may roam, your assorted baggage usually arrives too. It may be a little later, but it will arrive.

Penny and Andeep's baggage are their two adult daughters; Asha and Camille. You've heard of sibling rivalry? Well, take that and multiply by thousands and you get some sort of idea of this relationship. The new house is certainly not big enough for the four of them, and the chances of them living in harmony is almost nil. 

When things become violent, Joy is called in to help. A family therapist, in her seventies, widowed and with a grown up daughter of her own, Joy appears to be the salve that could help to heal these family wounds.  However, Joy herself says, in the very first line of the book; 'Unhappy families always cheer her up.'   A strange thing to think to oneself, and an indicator that all is not glorious in Joy's life either. 

The story gets darker and darker as the author cleverly untangles and lies bare the family dynamics in the Malony- Singh household. We come to learn that Andeep is a washed-up, unfunny comedian who really has no interest in his family. He just wants fame and glory. Penny is familiar with the bottom of a drinks glass and Asha and Camilla are totally f***** up beyond help. It's a car crash waiting to happen, and it's played out in glorious technicolour, every single step downwards into an actual pit of hell. 

I loved it. Its cruel and funny and true and violent. Helen Fitzgerald always challenges her reader, there's no hiding here, you will read things that leave a mark on your brain, something like staring at a bright light and then still seeing it when you close your eyes. 

All honour to Joy, who tries her best but is gradually worn down by her own family issues, culminating in a finale that I certainly didn't expect, but welcomed with open arms and a little bit of glee too. 

Read it, if you dare! 


Helen Fitzgerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and adapted for a major BBC drama. 

Her 2019 dark-comedy thriller Worst Case Scenario was a Book of the Year in the Literary Review, Herald Scotland, Guardian and Daily Telegraph, shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and won the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award. 

Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. 

She grew up in Victoria, Australia, and now lives in Glasgow with her husband. 

Follow Helen on Twitter @FitzHelen.






Misadventures in the Screen Trade by Alison Ripley Cubitt BLOG TOUR #MisadventuresintheScreenTrade @lambertnagle @RandomTTours #careermemoir #BookExtract

 


A young woman in a man's world takes on the media industry. Can she hit the heights of her dreams, or will she fall flat on her face?

Sydney 1981 Alison Ripley Cubitt couldn't wait to make her mark. Having escaped her fractured New Zealand family only to end up dying of boredom behind a Mad-Men-era reception desk, she was determined to shatter the media's glass ceiling. Thrilled to score an unpaid television internship in London, she still needed to survive alone...

Climbing her way up the career ladder, only to fall down again, Alison's life-changing moment finally arrived when she landed her dream job at Disney. But after a documentary presentation to the masters of animation ended in disaster, the driven young woman refused to let her march to the top miss out on a spectacular finale.

In this entertaining true tale of the reality of working in the cutthroat world of show business, Alison shares the highs-and-lows of chasing bold goals. Navigating a patriarchial industry with wit and determination, her straight-to-the-point style will have you laughing out loud, and in awe of her courage.

Misadventures in the Screen Trade is a dazzling peek into one woman's climb from rural New Zealand to Tinseltown. If you like fiery heroines, self-deprecating humour, and insightful tales from backstage, then you'll love this spirited memoir.


Misadventures in the Screen Trade by Alison Ripley Cubitt was published in February 2022. As part of this #RandomThingsTours blog tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 




Extract from Misadventures in the Screen Trade by Alison Ripley Cubitt


Malaysia, 1960s

My Brilliant Career
 I’m five years old and at the cinema in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with Dad while Mum’s in hospital having her appendix out. He’s taken me to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but I don’t understand a word the wicked Queen is saying. There’s been a mix-up, Dad explains. The cinema has received the German version of the film instead of the English one.
I don’t care. As the Queen talks into the mirror, ‘Spieglein, spieglein an der Wand,’ I can tell by her low, menacing tone that it had better tell her what she wants to hear.
Or else.
That voice gives me nightmares, yet I’m wide awake.
And now I’m going to work for the folks who dreamt up my scariest childhood movie experience. I hope it’s not an omen.



London, 1996
I work in a swanky office in West Kensington with a fancy job title: Producer, Television Specials at Buena Vista Productions, in the TV division of Walt Disney. It’s a staff job, with a pension plan, paid holidays and plenty of travel, plus I am invited to film previews and West End shows. For the office Christmas party, Disney books out Madame Tussaud’s for the night. I earn more than I ever thought was possible, doing what I love.
‘I’ll lead on the Cirque du Monde project. How about you take The Making of the Hunchback of Notre Dame?’ my boss Ros says. Ros is a warm-hearted, gregarious sort with Northern roots, maybe ten to fifteen years my senior. She’s one of a select few women in senior roles here in London.

Every Disney feature film release in the UK is accompanied by documentary footage as part of the marketing campaign. The USA studios record a version of bland and generic EPK (Electronic Press Kits) stitched together. In Europe, we produce a broadcast-quality 52-minute documentary, in this case commissioned by the BBC and due to be screened on BBC1 on a prime-time early weekend evening slot.
‘I’d love to. I’d better read the book,’ I say.
‘Get the kids’ version. I bet that’s what Feature Animation read,’ Ros says, laughing. I laugh too. ‘They’re ruffling a few feathers in France.’

I bet they are. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a classic of French literature given the Disney treatment and turned into an animated movie for children.
‘I have a director in mind. I’ve known him for a while, I think you’ll get on.’ She gives me his card, which I glance at briefly. I’ve never heard of him. ‘He’s not done television, but here’s his showreel,’ Ros says, passing it over. ‘He’s coming in for a meeting. He’ll be here in an hour.’

I return to my desk and watch a couple of the short films. They’re beautifully shot and edited, but there’s nothing on the showreel that indicates this Director—let’s call him Stephen—has worked on any commissions. I fast forward, hoping to find a commercial or a pop video so that I can talk to someone he has worked for and get a second opinion. I’m looking for evidence he can work under pressure. And I don’t find it.

How is someone new to TV expected to make the leap from a short film to a commissioned documentary? I don’t have the answer to that. But I realise I’m the one who has to make this happen.



Alison Ripley Cubitt left New Zealand with an arts degree and the ability to make a white sauce without a recipe, carry three plates at once and ride a horse (though not at the same time). Before she started writing memoir, non-fiction and screenplays, she received an MA in Scriptwriting from the Northern Film School at Leeds Beckett University.

She lives in a world of her own with her trophy husband. On occasion they co-write thrillers, writing as Lambert Nagle.

For the past two years, she has divided her time between home and the shops—all within the permitted five-kilometre radius. But in 2022, she hopes to travel further afield and finally get to use at least one of her three passports.

In her downtime, Alison volunteers with St Kilda Doggy Daycare and is a fully paid-up member of the Organisation for Australasian Insomniacs.

Keep in touch with Alison