Blog Tour: Drinking Custard by Lucy Beaumont

Known for her sharp, witty and surreal view on everyday life, Lucy shares the unpredictable craziness of being a mum in this brilliant and laugh-out-loud ‘mumoir’.

Mums everywhere will recognise the madness of it all. From when Lucy was hospitalised with indigestion in her third trimester (blame the burrito), to when she was this close to slapping her hypnobirthing instructor, to finding herself drinking a whole pint of custard in one sitting.

Drinking Custard also captures Lucy’s marriage to comedian Jon, as they navigate Lucy’s raging pregnancy hormones and balk at pram prices together.

What I Thought:

I’ll never tire of motherhood books that tell it like it is and I take a very dim view of those parenting manuals that assure you that baby should be running to your routine, will go down for a nap when you say, and go to bed when you say – especially when my youngest didn’t go to sleep unless he was being held FOR THREE YEARS.

So, in Drinking Custard, when Lucy Beaumont’s daughter Elsie says ‘Right, I’m in charge.’ we may chuckle, because we all know it’s true…

If you’ve ever had a little tyrant in your life then this is the book for you, as reading Lucy’s adventures in motherhood strikes home on many levels – from having your boob grabbed by a well-meaning breastfeeding nurse, to feeling the pressure of living up to the Instagram-Mummy-Blog images of How To Be a MumTM Lucy’s book is honest, and that’s really all I ever wanted from a parenting book when my kids were young. There are amazing things about being a parent, but there are an equal number of shitty things and, despite things like Why Mummy Drinks, the shitty bits are still not talked about enough.

I know I don’t really need to say this, given that she’s a comedian, but Lucy’s writing is so funny, and yet there is a great mix of the hilarious and those touching, emotional moments that come with being a parent – a child that doesn’t look back as they head into school is a testament to your abilities as a parent, but it sure is a dagger to the heart too! This comes across really well in this book and will have you nodding in agreement as you read.

Lucy’s voice is warm and relatable, and I couldn’t help hearing it in her voice as I read, and the corrections and clarifications from Jon Richardson set the tone early on. They seem like a nice couple when they’re on TV things, and that comes across here too.

I highly recommend you step away from Instagram and grab this book instead – with or without a tin of custard!

Drinking Custard is published by Octopus Books.

About the Author:

Lucy Beaumont is a talented stand-up, comedy actress and writer. She is the writer and star of BBC Radio 4’s To Hull and Back, writer of Channel 4’s Hullraisers and cowriter of Dave’s Meet The Richardsons which returns for a second series this year.

Lucy is a well-known daughter of Hull and is passionate about her hometown. She has appeared on numerous entertainment shows; Artsnight (BBC2), Jon Richardson: Ultimate Worrier (Dave), Alan Davies’ As Yet Untitled (Dave), QI (BBC2), Drunk History (Comedy Central), Jonathan Ross Show (ITV), The One Show (BBC1), Cats Does Countdown (C4), What’s Going to Kill Us (C5), Live At The Electric (BBC Three) and featured in a Maltesers advertising campaign.

This post is part of a blog tour celebrating the release of Drinking Custard. For more reviews and exclusive content, check out the other participating blogs below.

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour: A Wild Winter Swan by Gregory Maguire

Following her brother’s death and her mother’s emotional breakdown, Laura now lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in a lonely townhouse she shares with her old-world, strict, often querulous grandparents. But the arrangement may be temporary. The quiet, awkward teenager has been getting into trouble at home and has been expelled from her high school for throwing a record album at a popular girl who bullied her. When Christmas is over and the new year begins, Laura may find herself at boarding school in Montreal.

Nearly unmoored from reality through her panic and submerged grief, Laura is startled when a handsome swan boy with only one wing lands on her roof. Hiding him from her ever-bickering grandparents, Laura tries to build the swan boy a wing so he can fly home. But the task is too difficult to accomplish herself. Little does Laura know that her struggle to find help for her new friend parallels that of her grandparents, who are desperate for a distant relative’s financial aid to save the family store.

As he explores themes of class, isolation, family, and the dangerous yearning to be saved by a power greater than ourselves, Gregory Maguire conjures a haunting, beautiful tale of magical realism that illuminates one young woman’s heartbreak and hope as she begins the inevitable journey to adulthood.

What I Thought:

I think by now that Gregory Maguire is acknowledged as the master of retellings – as I’m sure is the case with many people, I was introduced to his work by Wicked after loving the musical but that book is so different to the show, with much, much greater depth than what you see on stage. The book also uses fantasy to explore important and pertinent issues in modern life woven into the story in twisty and creative ways.

So on to A Wild Winter Swan – a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Wild Swans. In case you’re not familiar, the story tells of a girl whose brothers are turned into swans until she can weave moonlight into garments, and cover them, to turn them back. She is not quite able to turn them all back, so one brother is destined to go through life with one swan wing.

In this story, social misfit Laura finds the swan boy crashed on her roof one snowy night and has to help him go free, while she is also struggling to find her own place in a world where she is the weird girl with no social connections. In helping the boy, can she find help and friendship in unexpected places?

Once again, the fantastical elements of the story are rooted in the real world – this time 1960s New York – as Laura deals with personal tragedy with little support from her hard-working grandparents. Is she still part of a family when so many of the family are no longer there? Is the swan boy still part of his family when he is alone, and still part-swan?

I think this story is going to be one of my go-to Christmas re-reads – it has such a warm, Christmassy feeling, despite the sadness and grief that runs through the Ciardi household and Laura herself, as the wintery scene is so vividly captured in the falling snow and city slush.

I’m reminded by this book that I must make more time for Gregory Maguire’s books – his writing has such a sense of poetry to it, even when capturing the modern. He even manages to turn a slushy, city street into something beautiful!

Although the book is a retelling of The Wild Swans, it hints at it, rather than absorbing full elements of that story into it. Using it as an exploration of grief and the experience of immigrant families is much more the basis of the novel, which I think comes across very well.

A Wild Winter Swan is published by HarperCollins.

About the Author

Gregory Maguire received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University, and his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany. He was a professor and co-director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children’s Literature from 1979-1985. In 1987 he co-founded Children’s Literature New England. He still serves as co-director of CLNE, although that organization has announced its intention to close after its 2006 institute.

The bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Lost, Mirror Mirror, and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men. Wicked, now a beloved classic, is the basis for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad.

He has three adopted children and is married to painter Andy Newman. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

This post is part of a blog tour celebrating A Wild Winter Swan. For more reviews and exclusive content, check out the participating blogs below:

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour: Sunrise Over Pebble Bay by Della Galton

Talented, yet relatively unknown actress and celebration cake baker extraordinaire Olivia Lambert is running out of time.

Approaching forty, she’s yet to land the role that will launch her television career and she’s desperate to be a mum.

Her new man, Phil Grimshaw from the Bluebell Cliff Hotel, seems the perfect match, but seems to be in no rush to settle down.

Having ditched her childhood sweetheart and fiancé, Tom Boyd, when he backtracked about being a dad, Olivia dreads making the same mistake again.

Rocked by confessions from both her sister Ruby and Tom, Olivia knows it’s time to make some life changing decisions.

Then a terrifying incident off Chesil Beach changes the course of her future and brings Olivia to question everything she values and loves.

What I Thought:

Della Galton is back with the latest in her heartwarming, Dorset-based series, Sunrise Over Pebble Bay.

I’ve really taken to this series where, although characters from other books do pop up, you can safely read them in any order without losing any relevant information – I think I’ve read them all bar the first book at the moment, something I’ll put right over the coming weeks.

As a Dorset local myself, it’s great to see such detail in the descriptions of the locations and some fantastic historical details included too – Visit Dorset could use some of them in their advertising – but all of this builds seemlessly into the story.

The main character, Olivia, is really easy to like as she deals with heartache, her family, and the fact that her life and career dreams may not be coming true, but always stays positive and hopes for the best.

Fun and escapism are the fundamental words here, but this book – more so than some of the others – has real peril in it, which I thought was very well done.

This whole series is highly recommended – a great location (but I’m biased) and always the romantic pay off we’re looking for. A masterclass in romantic fiction.

About the Author:

Della Galton is the author of 15 books, including Ice and a Slice. She writes short stories, teaches writing groups and is Agony Aunt for Writers Forum Magazine. She lives in Dorset. Della launched her new fiction series set around The Bluebell Cliff Hotel with Boldwood in April 2020.

This post is part of a blog tour to celebrate the publication of Sunrise Over Pebble Bay. Why not check out the other participating blogs below?

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book via Netgalley for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour: The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All by Josh Ritter

In the tiny timber town of Cordelia, Idaho, everyone has heard tales of the Applegates. Local legend says their family line boasts some of the greatest lumberjacks to ever roam the American West, and from the moment young Weldon stepped foot in the deep Cordelia woods as a child, he dreamed of joining the rowdy ranks of his ancestors in their epic, axe-swinging adventures. But at the beginning of the twentieth century, times are changing fast, and the jacks are dying out.

On his deathbed nearly a century later, Weldon Applegate recounts his life in all its glory, filled with tall tales writ large with murder, mayhem, avalanches and bootlegging. It’s the story of dark pine forests brewing with ancient magic, and Weldon’s struggle as a boy to keep his father’s inherited timber claim, the Lost Lot, from the ravenous clutches of Linden Laughlin.

Braided with haunting saloon tunes and just the right dose of magic, The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All is a novel bursting with heart, humor, and an utterly transporting adventure that is sure to sweep you away into the beauty of the tall snowy mountain timber.

What I Thought:

The Great Glorious Goodamn of It All is a fascinating slice of Americana, showing a bygone age when men were men, and mechanisation had yet to tear the heart out of the western nations.

Weldon Applegate lies in a hospital bed – for reasons that we will find out – and falls back into his memories of being a 13-year-old boy, living in lumberjack country in the early 1900s. He remembers the townsfolk – including bootlegger Peg Ramsey and Annie, the maker of the finest hooch in the St Anne.

In his 13th year, Weldon’s reasonably quiet life becomes dominated by a parcel of land his father owns. The Lost Lot has been abandoned by companies and individuals as just too darn hard and dangerous to cut trees from, but Weldon’s father is lured back into the lumberjack life by Linden Laughlin who is a legend in the trade, but not at all what he seems…

The phrase ‘coming of age novel’ is often overused, but it’s really apt with this book. Young Weldon is forced to learn some hard lessons while coming face-to-face with real evil – this is proper, biblical good versus evil stuff, set down in the middle of America.

We know that Weldon ultimately triumphs as he is now 99 years of age, but how he second guesses himself and eventually learns how to lead is really stirring stuff, especially when in the bulk of the book he is so young.

Much of this book is a love letter to a bygone era, and some of it is sheer poetry – some of it is profanity, which many people are not fond of, but I felt it was perfectly in keeping with a rough-and-tumble gang of lumberjacks.

I really would have loved to see some of this old America – much of what Josh Ritter writes about so evocatively is gone now and only exists in novels like this – but that world is so beautifully described here that you can begin to get a sense of it, and it’s written so that you can almost smell the pine trees and hear the manual labour of those men. Very nicely done.

The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All is published by Harper360.

About the Author:

Josh Ritter is a songwriter from Moscow, Idaho. His albums include The Animal Years and So Runs the World Away. Bright’s Passage was his first novel. He lives in New York.

You can find out more about Josh, his writing, and his music on his website.

This post is part of a blog tour to celebrate the UK release of The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All – why not check out some of the other participating blogs, as below?

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Blitz: A Little Piece of Paradise by T. A. Williams

The inheritance of a lifetime… with a catch

When Sophie’s uncle leaves her a castle in the Italian Riviera in his will, she can’t believe her luck. The catch? She and her estranged sister, Rachel, must live there together for three months in order to inherit it.  

Having worked in Rome for four years, Sophie’s excited to revisit to Italy, even if it reignites memories of a cheating ex who soon learns of her return and wants to rekindle their spark. Sophie realises that distance does indeed make the heart grow fonder – but for her friend back home, Chris, who she discovers is more to her than just a friend.

With the clock ticking, can Sophie and Rachel stick it out and heal old wounds, or are the sisters destined to go their own way at the end of the three months? And does Chris feel the same way about Sophie as she does for him?

What I Thought:

I make no secret of the fact that I love T. A Williams’ romance novels, so I was thrilled be able to drag summer a little further into the year this year by reading A Little Piece of Paradise.

A hot Italian climate and hot Italian men abound in this romantic tale that actually has family at its heart, as we join Sophie on a mission that has been devised by her beloved uncle and which will (hopefully) see her inherit a fortune and a huge castle, and see her reunited with her estranged sister.

As ever, this book is filled with sumptuous descriptions of Italy, which could only come from someone who knows and loves it. The food, the landscape and so much of the history (which I love) makes a T. A. Williams book what it is, and makes it instantly recognisable – you can’t help but get caught up in it, especially now that the chilly nights are drawing in here!

T. A. Williams writes primarily about women. His main female characters are smart and resourceful and always – most importantly – three dimensional. You can always imagine these women as properly fleshed-out people so they’re very easy to relate to – even if I’ll never know what it’s like to inherit a whopping great castle in Italy…

Another heartwarming novel from T. A. Williams – keep them coming!

A Little Piece of Paradise is published by Canelo Escape.

About the Author:

I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing escapist romance is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.

Catch up with T. A. Williams on Twitter.

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book via Netgalley for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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