Blog Tour: The Little Theatre on Halfpenny Lane by Clodagh Murphy

Aoife and her sisters know exactly what to do when they inherit their Great-aunt Detta’s theatre on Halfpenny Lane:

  • Restore the dilapidated building to its former glory. 
  • Perform together on its stage to packed houses and rapturous applause.
  • Live happily ever after.

But they didn’t count on Detta leaving a share in the theatre to her godson, Jonathan. Now they’ll have to persuade him to buy into their vision of stardust and magic – or find the money to buy him out.

As they fight to save the theatre, Aoife also battles her growing feelings for Jonathan. Because she can’t let herself fall for the man who’s about to bring the curtain down on their dreams.

What I Thought:

A very happy publication day to Clodagh Murphy, as The Little Theatre on Halfpenny Lane is published today.

This tale of three sisters who are left reeling when their great aunt’s will is read and they find that the inheritance they’ve been promised has been further split to include a man they all hardly know.

That certainly isn’t to say that the sisters are being mercenary – it’s very clear from the start that they would much rather have their great aunt Detta still with them, than the inheritance. The problems arise when the other party has no interest in owning or running a theatre and wants to sell the little theatre from the title of the book.

What follows is basically a ‘Let’s Put on A Show!’ story, which I am fully in favour of, and which is real fun to read. The sisters devise a plan to raise the money required to buy out Jonathan, the other party, and begin to call in favours from the great and good of Irish theatre who all know and remember the wonderful Detta. Without ever appearing in the book, Detta has a real presence – the goodwill towards her drives the fundraising, but there are very good reasons for including Jonathan in her will, which the sisters must find out for themselves.

As the sisters work hard on raising the huge amount of money needed, Aoife finds herself becoming more attached to Jonathan – unsuitable since he’s the one intruding on their dreams of running the theatre – but could he be the one to help Aoife follow her own dreams for once?

This was a great, really fun novel and I loved the nuts and bolts as the girls went about putting on their show, plus the growing affection between all of them and Jonathan as they realise that he is not the big, bad wolf.

I always think the mark of a good book is that you’re keen to know what happens after the final page, and that’s what I felt with this book – I would really like to know how the theatre fares, and how the sisters thrive in the future – a really great group of characters and a heart-warming story!

About the Author:

Clodagh Murphy lives in Dublin, Ireland. She has worked as a bar waitress, cleaner, secretary, editorial assistant, mystery shopper and movie extra. But she always dreamed of being an author, and after more jobs than she cares to (or can) remember, she now writes full-time. For more information about her books or to sign up to her newsletter, visit her website.

This post is part of a blog tour celebrating the publication of The Little Theatre on Halfpenny Lane. Check out some of the other fantastic blogs below for more reviews and exclusive content.

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: This Wild, Wild Country by Inga Vesper

Three women. An isolated town. A decades-old mystery.

They hate me down there, in Boldville. I can read it in their eyes, smell it on their noxious breaths. That dreaded little town hates everything about me: not just my personality and form, the clothes I wear, but the way I think. The things that I know. 

1933. Cornelia Stover is headstrong and business-minded – not the kind of woman the men of Boldville, New Mexico, expect her to be. Then she stumbles upon a secret hidden out in the hills…

1970. Decades later, Joanna Riley, a former cop, packs up her car in the middle of the night and drives west, fleeing an abusive marriage and a life she can no longer bear. Eventually, she runs out of gas and finds herself in Boldville, a sleepy desert town in the foothills of the Gila Mountains.

Joanna was looking for somewhere to retreat, to hide, but something is off about this place. In a commune on the outskirts a young man has been found dead and Joanna knows a cover up when she sees it. Soon, she and Glitter, a young, disaffected hippie, find themselves caught up in a dark mystery that goes to the very heart of Boldville, where for too long people have kept their eyes shut and turned their heads away. A mystery that leads them all the way back to the unexplained disappearance of Glitter’s grandmother Cornelia forty years before…

What I Thought:

It’s the start of a new blog tour and also publication day for This Wild, Wild Country by Inga Vesper, so I’m pleased to be able to start it all off on an enthusiastic note.

Although neither of the dual timelines in this novel feature the Old West, it really does have that feel to it. Perhaps it’s because, even though Joanna is living in the 20th Century, the town of Boldville really isn’t. Even in the 1970s, the men still hold sway and the old American ways are refusing to make way for the new.

When Glitter returns to her home town with her friends and attempts to set up a commune, bad things start to happen including the death of her cousin – are the authorities too quick to write it off as a tragic accident?

As Joanna’s cop-sense starts to tingle, she and Glitter delve into a decades-old mystery that has its roots in the Gold Rush and led to the disappearance of Glitter’s grandmother. A wall of silence, the Wheeler-Howard act and Glitter’s distrust of Joanna as one of the ‘Pigs’ all stand in the way of the truth…

I love a dual timeline novel and this one handles the switch between timelines really well. There are similarities between the two time periods that Inga Vesper has chosen, and the spirit and determination of the women in these time periods really shines through.

I really liked Glitter as a character – she has left home at the earliest opportunity to find a new way to live, and she’s returned home still determined to live her own life, but disillusioned with much of what she’s experienced. I felt she really grew as a character as she discovered more about her grandmother and her determination.

There are some really tricky subjects covered in the book, and they are very sensitively handled. Domestic violence is a big part of Joanna’s story and, although she is in a better place after the novel is finished, I would love to know how she fares after the final chapter.

A thoroughly enjoyable book, and a group of strong, inspirational women – highly recommended.

This Wild, Wild Country is published by Manilla Press.

About the Author:

Inga Vesper is a journalist and editor. She moved to the UK from Germany to work as a carer, before the urge to write and explore brought her to journalism. As a reporter, she covered the coroner’s court and was able to observe how family, neighbours and police react to a suspicious death. Inga has worked in Syria and Tanzania, but now lives in Glasgow, because there’s no better way to find a good story than eavesdropping on the chatter in a Scottish cafe on a rainy day.

This post is part of a blog tour celebrating the publication of This Wild, Wild Country. Check out some of the other participating blogs below for more reviews and exclusive content.

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: Solo by Jenny Tough

Jenny Tough is an endurance athlete who’s best known for running and cycling in some of world’s most challenging events – achieving accolades that are an inspiration to outdoor adventurers everywhere. But SOLO tells the story of a much more personal project: Jenny’s quest to come to terms with feelings and emotions that were holding her back.

Like runners at any level, she knew already that running made her feel better, and like so many of us, she knew that completing goals independently was empowering, too. So, she set herself an audacious objective: to run – solo, unsupported, on her own
– across mountain ranges on six continents, starting with one of the most remote locations on Earth in Kyrgyzstan.

SOLO chronicles Jenny’s journey every step of the way across the Tien Shan (Asia), the High Atlas (Africa), the Bolivian Andes (South America), the Southern Alps (Oceania), the Canadian Rockies (North America) and the Transylvanian Alps (Europe), as she learns lessons in self-esteem, resilience, bravery and so much more.

What Jenny’s story tells us most of all is that setting out to do things solo – whether the ambitious or the everyday – can be invigorating, encouraging and joyful. And her call to action to find strength, confidence and self-belief in everything we do will inspire and motivate.

What I Thought:

As a woman who’s knocking on a bit now, I have huge admiration for younger women who get out there and make their mark in their chosen field – one such woman is Jenny Tough, who chronicles her project to run across a mountain range on each continent in Solo.

This book was really an incredible read as it was about Jenny’s plans, routes and the runs themselves, but Jenny is unafraid of including the bad time. There were times when she felt that she may not be able to carry on, times when illness forced her to stop and times when her own self-doubt crept in. It’s really powerful to know that an adventure athlete such as her – although she is uncomfortable applying the term to herself – is sometimes affected by the thoughts and feelings that can hold us all back.

Through blistered feet, broken equipment and the unwanted protection of local police, this journey across the world is incredibly compelling, and the beauty of each destination leaps off the page. As local people across the world scoff and doubt Jenny’s plans, it’s fascinating to feel that you’re cheering her on, even while knowing that these journeys have been completed! It really gave me a lift to read about this inspiring woman and her determination to succeed on this solo project.

Just superb, and an encouragement for me to both step back into my running shoes, and also to read more of these types of memoir!

Solo is published by Aster.

About the Author:

Jenny Tough is an adventure traveller originally from Canada. She enjoys writing about her solo mountain expeditions and tales of world travel as a solo female. Jenny has been featured by National Geographic, BBC Scotland, Women’s Running, The Great Outdoors and more. In 2020 she edited Tough Women Adventure Stories, published by Summersdale.

When she’s not exploring the mountains of the world, she lives in Scotland, and occasionally wherever she parks her adventure van.

This post is part of a blog tour to celebrate the publication of Solo – check out some of the other reviews and more exclusive content on 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: Cold Cold Bones by Kathy Reichs

Sometimes, revisiting the past is the only way to rescue the present…

Winter has come to North Carolina and, with it, a drop in crime. For a while, temporarily idle forensic anthropologist Tempe Brennan is content to dote on her daughter Katy, finally returned to civilian life from the army. But when mother and daughter meet at Tempe’s place one night for dinner, they find a box on the back porch. Inside: a very fresh human eyeball.

GPS coordinates etched into the eyeball lead to a Benedictine Monastery where an equally macabre discovery awaits. Soon after, Tempe examines a mummified corpse in a state park, and her anxiety deepens.

There seems to be no pattern to these random killings, except that each mimics in some way a killing that a younger Tempe witnessed, analysed, or barely escaped.

Who or what is targeting her, and why?

Helping Tempe discover the answers is Detective Erskine ‘Skinny’ Slidell, retired but still volunteering with the CMPD cold case unit – and still displaying his gallows humour. But as the two infiltrate a bizarre survivalist’s lair, even Skinny’s mood darkens.

And then Tempe’s daughter Katy disappears.

Electrifying, heart-stopping and compulsive, this is Tempe’s most personal and dangerous case yet…

What I Thought:

Kathy Reichs is one of a select group of authors whose work I will instantly buy. After reading Deja Dead many years ago, I have been a dedicated fan of the Temperance Brennan series and, with Cold Cold Bones, Kathy Reichs shows no signs of running out of steam!

A suitably cold and bleak Charlotte is the backdrop for a bizarre series of crimes that, seemingly, have no connection, but get Tempe’s sub-conscious pinging. After ignoring those little voices for a while, she realises that the connection might be her. But what point is the killer trying to make?

What follows is a white-knuckle ride as Tempe and Skinny Slidell try to work out the answer, and outside forces threaten Tempe where she is most vulnerable.

This is a superb return for Tempe Brennan – as ever, the novel just cries out to be read in one sitting and while I try not to use the term ‘page-turner’, this really is! The plot throws out drama and excitement, but backs it all up with forensic details that are so obviously gleaned from Kathy Reichs’ years of work as a forensic anthropologist. While there is a great deal of this detail, it is always explained in a way that the reader will understand, and it only ever serves to enhance the plot, and never overwhelms it.

Part of the storyline deals with homeless veterans, as Tempe’s daughter Katy decides to pay back after her own experiences in combat, by volunteering at a local shelter. It’s great to see this topic featured in a sympathetic way and with no judgement.

As I said, the Tempe Brennan books are an instant pre-order for me, so it was a delight to find that Cold Cold Bones is just a good as I had hoped – definitely recommended!

Cold Cold Bones is published by Simon & Schuster.

About the Author:

Kathy Reichs’s first novel Déjà Dead, published in 1997, won the Ellis Award for Best First Novel and was an international bestseller. Kathy was also a producer of Fox Television’s longest running scripted drama Bones, which is based on her work and her novels. Kathy uses her own dramatic experiences as a forensic anthropologist to bring her mesmerizing thrillers to life. One of very few forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, Kathy divides her time between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Montreal, Québec.

This post is part of a blog tour celebrating the publication of Cold Cold Bones by Kathy Reichs. Check out some of the other reviews and exclusive content at the participating blogs below:

Please note: I was sent a copy of this book for review (although I also bought a hard copy with my own pennies), but all opinions are, as ever, my own.

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Blog Tour: Lucky Jack by S. Bavey

“One of the perils of being a sniper during the First World War was the likelihood of a grenade going off right next to you and burying you alive”.

Meet Jack Rogers. Born in 1894, he once locked eyes with Queen Victoria and was one of the first travellers on London’s ‘Tube’. An early car owner, he had many escapades on his days out to Brighton, including a time when his brakes failed and he had to drive through central London without them!

His skills as an entertainer earned him popularity throughout his life, and kept him out of the deadly mines while a prisoner during the First World War. At the tender age of 103 Jack earned the title of ‘The World’s Oldest Columnist’ as he began dictating his life’s exploits to a reporter from the local newspaper.

What I Thought:

It’s a rare trip into biography for me today with Lucky Jack, the remarkable story of an ordinary man.

His story begins like that of many, many others, born into a working class family in the 19th Century, but living through the 20th Century is where this story of one man and his family shows just how the world changed in 100 years.

‘Lucky Jack’ is certainly well-named, as Jack survived as a child when infant mortality was still incredibly high, and he then went on to dodge death through two world wars and the advent of the motor car!

In the book, he always claims that he has been lucky and while I agree, I think a lot of your luck in life comes from your attitude towards it. In the book you get a real sense that Jack was a positive and warm person, with a realistic but positive view of life. He was able to work his way up to care for his family and build a good life for them and his descendants.

The tone throughout the book is quite matter of fact – you get the idea that Jack Rogers never saw himself as anything other than ordinary, despite the huge events and social changes he experienced throughout his life.

It’s a fascinating snapshot of one man’s experiences in a time of changes in class, work and wealth and these types of biographies, those of ordinary people are a treasure trove for social historians.

About the Author:

Sue Bavey is an English Mum of two, living in Massachussetts since 2003 with her husband, kids, a cat named Midnight, a bunny named Nutmeg, a leopard gecko named Ziggy Stardust and occasional frogs and salamanders. Lucky Jack is her grandfather, Henry John Rogers’ biography.

This post is part of a blog tour to celebrate publication of Lucky Jack. Check out some of the other reviews and exclusive content on the 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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