Blog Tour Extract: The Distance

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Title: The Distance
Author: Zoe Folbigg
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Aria
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: July 1, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Synopsis:

Under the midnight sun of Arctic Norway, Cecilie Wiig goes online and stumbles across Hector Herrera in a band fan forum. They start chatting and soon realise they might be more than kindred spirits. But there are two big problems: Hector lives 8,909km away in Mexico. And he’s about to get married.

Can Cecilie, who’s anchored to two jobs she loves in the library and a cafe full of colourful characters in the town in which she grew up, overcome the hurdles of having fallen for someone she’s never met? Will Hector escape his turbulent past and the temptations of his hectic hedonistic life and make a leap of faith to change the path he’s on?

Zoë Folbigg’s latest novel is a story of two people, living two very different lives, and whether they can cross a gulf, ocean, sea and fjord to give their love a chance.

Extract:

One

March 2018, Tromsø, Norway

So, ro, lilleman, nå er dagen over… Sleep tight, little one, now the day is overCecilie can’t stop the blasted lullaby from spinning around her head, twinkling like a hanging mobile doing revolutions above a sleeping baby. Alle mus i alle land, ligger nå og sover… The song is rotating calmly and methodically in Cecilie’s brain, distracting her from the couple sitting in front of her as they wait for her to take their order. It is also distancing her from The Thing That’s Happening Today that she’s been dreading for weeks, hoping someone will put a stop to it or change their mind.

The lullaby must have been swirling in Cecilie’s head since she sang it in a quiet corner of the library this morning; to mothers with grey crescent moons clinging to their lower lashlines; to fathers, over the moon to be enjoying their parental leave in a much more relaxed way than they think their partners did. Mothers and fathers and gurglers, all joined in with Cecilie to sing nursery rhymes in the basement of the library, but now those songs and the sweet and happy voices are taunting her.

So, ro, lilleman…

Cecilie thinks of the large print above the fireplace in the living room at home. The room is an elegant haven of greys, browns and whites, dominated by a long, wooden dining table that stands out against the modern touches of the alternate grey and sable plastic Vitra chairs around it. It’s a table where everyone is welcome for heart-to-hearts and hygge at Christmas, although most of the time Cecilie eats breakfast there alone. She likes the grey chairs best and always chooses to sit on one of those while she eats her soda bread smeared with honey and stares out of the window, to the vast and sparse garden beyond. On the white wall above the fireplace hangs a print of a static Alexander Calder mobile that her mother Karin picked up on a trip to London.

‘Isn’t it wonderful, Cecilie?’ she exclaimed, her blue eyes lighting up against the silver of her bobbed hair, as Cecilie’s brother and his boyfriend lifted the black matt frame onto the mantelpiece with a heave.

‘Wonderful,’ concurred Morten, the partner of Cecilie’s twin brother Espen, as he pushed his glasses up his little snub nose. ‘The beauty and intelligence is astounding,’ he added. ‘I just wish I could see it in motion.’

Karin nodded with vigour; Espen had already left the room.

Cecilie looked at the print dreamily, her pale green eyes gazing up at the black Vertical Fern, while it didn’t oscillate as it had in the gallery, or might have done in a breeze. Still, Cecilie imagined herself, fluttering up to the largest of its black fronds to see what it would look like to gaze down at her mother and Morten’s faces from above. Cecilie had a knack for drifting out of position on a whim or a daydream, and seeing the world from above.

Karin, a pragmatist and a politician, found it hard to understand her otherworldly daughter.

‘Cecilie?’ Karin had urged.

Cecilie crinkled her nose and snapped back into the room with a blink.

‘It’s wonderful, Mamma,’ she agreed, although she couldn’t fathom why her mother had bought an inanimate print of something that ought to be in gentle movement. It seemed so unlike her. Karin Wiig was the least static person Cecilie knew.

‘Well yes,’ confirmed Karin with authority. ‘They were just so stunning, you really ought to go to London and see them in motion before the exhibition ends,’ she said with a wave of her hand, although everyone knew she was really only talking to Morten. Even if Espen had still been in the room to hear, he was too wrapped up in his life at the i-Scand hotel on the harbour to bother with the inconvenience of a weekend break, and Cecilie had never travelled to a latitude below Oslo, which was something a diplomat and an adventurer like Karin couldn’t understand.

‘Why is your sister so happy to stay in one place?’ she once asked Espen in despair.

‘Perhaps Cecilie’s daydreams take her to better places than a flight ever could, Mamma,’ Espen had replied.

So, ro, lilleman…

The flash of the frond in her mind awakens Cecilie and she wriggles her inert feet inside her black Dr Martens boots. The lullaby evaporates and disappears, and Cecilie is back with the couple sitting in front of her, at their usual table.

‘Pickle, are you all right?’ asks Gjertrud, her kindly weathered face looking up at Cecilie. ‘It’s just Ole asked you three times for the spiced Arctic cloudberry cake, but you seem a little… in the clouds yourself today, my dear.’

‘Oh, I’m so sorry, so much to think about…’ Cecilie replies, as she writes cloudberry onto a pad in a wisp of ink.

About the Author:

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Zoë Folbigg is a magazine journalist and digital editor, starting at Cosmopolitan in 2001 and since freelancing for titles including Glamour, Fabulous, Daily Mail, Healthy, LOOK, Top Santé, Mother & Baby, ELLE, Sunday Times Style, and Style.com. In 2008 she had a weekly column in Fabulous magazine documenting her year-long round-the-world trip with “Train Man” – a man she had met on her daily commute. She has since married Train Man and lives in Hertfordshire with him and their two young sons. She is the bestselling author of The Note.

Follow Zoe
Website: http://www.zoefolbigg.com/
Twitter: @zolington
Facebook: @zoefolbiggauthor

Buy the book:

Amazon: mybook.to/TheDistance
Kobo: https://bit.ly/2H1MHxn
iBooks: https://apple.co/2EMMLv3
Google play: http://bit.ly/2l7RakV

 

Follow Aria:
Website: www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

Review: The Showrunner

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Title: The Showrunner
Author: Kim Moritsugu
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Dundurn
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: June 26, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Rising-star showrunner Stacey McCreedy has one goal: to leave behind her nerd-girl origins and become a power player — like Ann Dalloni, her former mentor and current producing partner. Ann, meanwhile, is feeling her age and losing her mind. But she’ll be damned if she cedes control of their hit primetime TV show to Stacey.

After Ann hires Jenna, a young actress hoping to restart her stalled career, as an assistant, the relationship between Ann and Stacey deteriorates into a blood feud. Soon, Jenna must choose whom to support and whom to betray to achieve her own ends. And Stacey will find out if she possesses the killer instinct needed to stay on top.

Review:

This story was entertaining and unpredictable!

I enjoy stories that are about television or movie production. It’s an industry that I don’t know much about, in terms of the behind the scenes work, but I watch TV and movies. It’s interesting to see how movies and shows are created, as well as the drama behind the camera.

I liked the dynamic of the three main characters. Ann is the matriarch, who is close to retiring age, though she won’t give up the reins of the show. Stacey is her business partner, who is constantly put down by Ann. Jenna is a young actress who is trying her hand behind the scenes. This gave three different perspectives of the industry from three different generations and positions of power.

There was an interesting scene of inappropriate behaviour in the work place between a man and a woman. It was initiated by the woman, and made the man uncomfortable. This wasn’t taken as seriously, because she was a woman who was abusing her position of power, rather than a man. It’s interesting to see how these gender dynamics can play out, even though they aren’t right. Women can be abusers just like men.

The ending was so shocking! I never would have predicted what would happen when I started reading this book. It was very dramatic!

I really enjoyed this story! Have you read it? What did you think?

Review: Providence

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Title: Providence
Author: Caroline Kepnes
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Random House
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: June 19, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the acclaimed author of YOU comes a novel that is part love story, part detective story, and part supernatural thriller.

Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other and their intense connection. But just when Jon is ready to confess the depth of his feelings, he’s kidnapped by his substitute teacher, a discredited scientist who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity.
After four years in captivity, Jon finally escapes, only to discover that he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to Providence to protect Chloe while he searches for answers. Across town from Jon, Detective Charles “Eggs” DeBenedictus is fascinated by a series of strange deaths–young, healthy people whose hearts just . . . stop. Convinced these deaths are a series of connected, vigilante killings, he jeopardizes his job and already strained marriage to uncover the truth.
With heart, insight, and a keen eye on human frailty, Kepnes whisks us on a journey through New England and crashes these characters’ lives together in the most unexpected ways, exploring the complex relationship between the powerful and the powerless, love and identity, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two.

Review:

This is a great thriller. Throughout the book, I had no idea how it would end, but I was satisfied with the final pages.

This was quite an emotional story. Both Jon and Chloe struggled with the loss of each other. It was heartbreaking to see them apart, because they really were meant to be together.

Jon’s condition reminded me of the main character in the Joe Hill book Horns. In that book, the character grows horns, like the devil, and people tell him their worst secrets. He can’t escape it, just like Jon.

I have never read any Lovecraft stories before, but now I’m tempted to. Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Sundays in Bed With… Save the Date

The meme that dares to ask what book has been in your bed this morning? Come share what book you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed, or which book you wish you had time to read today! This meme is hosted by Midnight Book Girl.

This Sunday I reading Save the Date by Morgan Matson.


Goodreads Synopsis:

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future. 

What book are you in bed with today?

Review: The Kiss Quotient

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Title: The Kiss Quotient
Author: Helen Hoang
Genre: Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

Review:

I loved this steamy romance.

I loved the diversity of the characters. Michael was biracial, which played an important part in the scenes with his family. He introduced Stella to Vietnamese cuisine. Stella has Asperger’s syndrome, which is a form of autism. However, it isn’t obvious from her outward appearance so many people don’t realize she has it. This was great representation of this condition.

There were some steamy love scenes, since Michael was an escort. I really liked how the romance was balanced out by the depth of their characters. Michael and Stella had faced hardships in their personal lives, so there was more to the story than just sex. There were some big love scenes at the beginning, but the story became more complex by the end.

I found the ending predictable, but I liked it. It ended the way I expected and hoped it would end, which was a good thing. Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: The Things We Learn When We’re Dead

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Title: The Things We Learn When We’re Dead
Author: Charlie Laidlaw
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Accent Press
Source: Reads & Reels
Release Date: January 26, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

With elements of The Wizard of Oz, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Lovely Bones, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead shows how small decisions can have profound and unintended consequences, and how sometimes we can get a second chance.

On the way home from a dinner party, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions. It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN. Because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident… Or does God have a higher purpose after all?

At first Lorna can remember nothing. As her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decision to make and that maybe she needs to find a way home.

Review:

I really liked this story. It was a unique sci-fi twist on The Wizard of Oz.

At the beginning of the story, I had no idea what was going to happen. I didn’t understand where Lorna went, but I was so curious to see what would happen. I noticed that there were a lot of things from Lorna’s life appearing around her on the ship, including her pet hamster and actors like Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant.

In the second half of the story, I found there was too much about Lorna’s life on Earth. The story alternated between her life on the ship and her life on Earth, but there was less about the ship in the latter half. I wished there was more about the ship, because it was so unusual. However, by the end of the story, I could see that the end of her life on Earth was important to the story.

I really liked this story. It ended on a cliffhanger, so I would love to see what happens next!

 

About the Author:

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I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault.  That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father.  That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.

I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh.  I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.

I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist.  I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.

I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries.  Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa.  What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember

Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then.  However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.

Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.

I am married with two grown-up children and live in central Scotland. And that’s about it.

 

Tour Schedule:

May 14th

Reads & Reels (Guest Post) http://www.readsandreels.com

The Lit Cottage (Review) http://shellybajwa.wordpress.com/

Valerie’s Musings (Excerpt) http://valeriesmusings76.wordpress.com

Tranquil Dreams (Review) http://klling.wordpress.com

May 15th

Insights into Books (Review) http://insightsintobooks.wordpress.com/

The Cozy Pages (Review) http://thecozypages.wordpress.com/

Touch My Spine Book Reviews (Review) https://touchmyspinebookreviews.com

Midwestern Ladies Who Lit (Excerpt) http://mwladieswholit.wordpress.com/

May 16th

What Cathy Read Next (Review) https://whatcathyreadnext.wordpress.com/

Ali the Dragon Slayer (Review) http://www.alithedragonslayer.co.uk

Speedy Reader (Review) https://speedyreadercom.wordpress.com

May 17th

Jill’s Book Blog (Review) http://www.jilljemmett.com/  

Where Dragon’s Reside (Excerpt) http://kernerangelina.wordpress.com/

May 18th

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

Cover 2 Cover (Review) http://liisthinks.blog

Nesie’s Place (Excerpt) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Bri’s Book Nook (Review) http://brisbooknook.wordpress.com

The Voluptuous Book Diva (Review) http://www.thevoluptuousbookdiva.com/

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Thank you to Reads & Reels for letting me participate in this blog tour.

 

 

Review: You Think It, I’ll Say It

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Title: You Think It, I’ll Say It
Author: Curtis Sittenfeld
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories
Publisher: Random House
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

‘Most people I know who have read anything by Curtis Sittenfeld would read anything else the woman wrote, me included’ The Times

In ‘The World Has Many Butterflies’, a married woman flirts with a man she meets at parties by playing You think it, I’ll say it, putting into words the bitchy things she guesses he’s thinking about their fellow guests. But she is in for a shock when, in time, she finds out what was really in his mind. ‘The Nominee’ sees Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail, confessing her surprising true feelings about a woman journalist she has sparred with over the years. In ‘Gender Studies’, a visiting academic sleeps with her taxi driver, for what turns out to be all the wrong reasons.

The theme that unites these stories in this dazzling first collection by Curtis Sittenfeld is how even the cleverest people tend to misread others, and how much we all deceive ourselves. Sharp and tender, funny and wise, this collection shows Sittenfeld’s knack for creating real, believable characters that spring off the page, while also skewering contemporary mores with brilliant dry wit.

Review:

I loved Curtis Sittenfeld’s novel Elgible! It is one of my favourite Pride and Prejudice adaptations. So I was excited to read her new collection of short stories.

I really enjoyed these stories. The stories all give the same message at the end: people are often misjudged, either by ourselves or others. This was more obvious in some of the stories than others. This message became clear in the second story entitled “The World Has Many Butterflies.” In that story a man and woman play a game which they call “I’ll Think It, You Say It,” where the woman judges people nearby, presumably saying what the man thinks about them. After that story, I understood the point of the collection.

Some of the stories were so detailed and hooked me right away, so I was left wanting more. I loved “Plausible Deniability.” It had a great twist that I didn’t see coming. “A Regular Couple” was also good, and kept me holding my breath to see how it would end. These stories could be expanded into great novels.

I liked this collection! It is clever and entertaining.