Game Show : Blog Tour

Game Show by Allie Cresswell

Buy your copy here : £1.99

Imagine that for one night only you could do absolutely anything you wanted and get away with it.
Welcome to Game Show.
It is 1992, and in a Bosnian town a small family cowers in their basement. The Serbian militia is coming – an assorted rabble of malcontents given authority by a uniform and inflamed by the idea that they’re owed something, big-time, and the Bosnians are going to pay. When they get to the town they will ransack the houses, round-up the men and rape the women. Who’s to stop them? Who’s to accuse them? Who will be left, to tell the tale?
Meanwhile, in a nondescript northern UK town, a group of contestants make their way to the TV studios to take part in a radical new Game Show. There’s money to be won, and fun to be had. They’ll be able to throw off their inhibitions and do what they want because they’ll all be in disguise and no-one will ever know.
In a disturbing denouement, war and game meld into each other as action and consequence are divided, the words ‘blame’ and ‘fault’ have no meaning and impunity reigns.
Game Show asks whether the situation which fostered the Bosnian war, the genocide in Rwanda, the rise of so-called Islamic State in Syria and the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar could ever happen in the West. The answer will shock you.

This is a compelling and forceful book which I highly recommend everyone to read. As an historian, it took me to past events that I wish hadn’t crammed themselves into my mind all at once, but in the context of this book they are important to remember.  More of these later.

I found it difficult to get hooked into the reading at first. There are many characters introduced to the reader quite quickly, and repeatedly being engaged with one and then pulled to another could have resulted in putting the book down. The author’s writing however, is consistent, intelligent, and seductive; you want to know where these characters’ experiences will take them, so you must keep reading. The slow build throughout the first part of the novel reaches its apex about halfway, and from there on all the strands start to come together ever more tightly.

The characters are well-defined, and you will have mixed feelings about some of them, like others, and detest some. The overlapping of lives, and the stark contrast between the Game Show and its contestants and the wretched desperation of the family and people in Bosnia, are handled with unmitigated skill. The pace and tension build to a crescendo in one story, only to sweep you up and do it all again in the next, leaving you both mentally and emotionally exhausted by the end. Thankfully there are moments of ‘comic relief’ to ease your reading journey.

The question posed in the synopsis asks – could this happen in the West? Well it has…the Holocaust. Germany was a civilised land of art, literature, music, and more, and was no more anti-Semitic than many other nations. It took poverty, hunger, greed, a desire for power and someone to blame, coupled to an extreme political party and its leader, for people to turn on one another. Sounds remote? This book is set in 1992, but speaks directly to us now. Currently, we are in a situation where ‘poverty, hunger, greed, a desire for power and someone to blame’ are causing problems in many nations, including First World countries. So no, the answer did not shock, and Game Show goes much deeper than that.

The use and abuse of power against people has been repeated many times by the West just since 1945; Kenya, Vietnam, Abu Ghraib, are three that spring to mind, as well as the several waves of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. The use of rape as a weapon of war is well documented, and while it is right that this is an important theme in the book, I feel it was over-used. Sexual violence encompasses a broad spectrum, as does torture, and it would have been fitting to have included those too.

What the author does highlight most effectively, is the political constipation that allows these events not only to happen, but to continue to happen and to spiral out of control, with none taking action to stop it. Leaders can be caught up in the chaos, as demonstrated by the Stanford Experiment (see end notes and appendices in the book). They can also be so caught up in their political careers, busy cow-towing to political behemoths, they become too paralysed to do what they know is the right thing.

Game Show - Allie CresswellIn addition, the advent of reality TV and its repeated pushing of the boundaries of acceptability, is also most powerfully highlighted. To my mind, the author’s big question isn’t ‘could it happen’, but who will stop it? If we can treat our fellow human beings so viciously and brutally, then without restrictions and rules, it is inevitable that reality TV will continue to push boundaries. Where will it end? Allie Cresswell shows us a very real possibility ‘Game Show’.

As you may have guessed, this book touched me deeply. It is powerful and emotional,  BUT it is exceptional.  I highly recommend reading it.

Game Show Blog Tour brought to you by @rararesources

Game Show Tour Dates

Blog Tour – Elle Spellman Interview

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The joy of asking an author questions is that you can be as imaginative as you want to be with the questions. Of course they don’t have to answer, but when they do, what an interesting insight you get into the author.

Today we have Elle Spellman, author of the great fun read She’s Bad News, who hasShe's Bad News - Author Photo ES HSBS agreed to join the fun Here are the questions with her repleis.answer my questions.

Here are her replies:

If you had to spend a day with Bella, what would the two of you do?

Fight crime! Well, maybe. Bella is definitely someone I’d like to hang out with. I’d love to be part of her slightly crazy life if just for one day, as she tries to find some interesting stories for the Hartleybourne Gazette. I’d love to meet Chloe too. And yes, I would love to head out in the night and catch some criminals with her. Sure, I don’t have powers, but I could be the lookout!

If you could have any, what super-power would you choose and why?

Oh, that’s such a tricky question (but definitely one of my favourites)! There are so many possibilities that it’d be hard to choose. I mean, I’d love to have superhuman strength, for a variety of reasons. But I’d also like to have sentient hair like Marvel’s Medusa. I guess it would have to come down to what would be the most useful. So for me, my super-power would probably be something like the ability to control or freeze time, so that I’d have more hours in the day!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?

I think the main problem I have is being overly-cautious when it comes to writing male characters. I tend to worry that I might be writing a stereotype, or adhering to certain traits often found in women’s fiction. That’s normally just me overthinking things! Luckily I have a lot of male friends, so it helps me to draw from experience, or that of my friends.

When writing, do you have a favourite snack and/or drink?

Definitely tea! I’m not so particular when it comes to snacks, but I have to have a mug of tea as I’m writing.

 How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I’ve just put aside my third book (which I’ve only just started) in order to rewrite my second. Both books are standalone novels and not related to She’s Bad News, although I do have ideas for a sequel. Currently I’m enjoying working on other projects so if I do decide to write a second Bella book, it won’t be for a little while yet. After that, I have a fourth book planned, which is currently just a fun personal project. There’s also a YA novel that’s been in my head for over a decade so hopefully at some point in the near future I can sit down to work on it. (And this is why I need that time-stopping power!)

If you could invite any fictional character to dinner, who would it be and why?

Can I stick with the superhero theme here and say Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman? Catwoman has always intrigued me, and she’s one of my all-time favourite Batman characters. Most people would recognise her as a villain (especially when working with fellow Sirens: Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn) but personally I’ve always found her to be neutral. An anti-hero. Sure, she’s an expert thief, but she only hurts those who truly deserve it. She does her bit to help Gotham, and often Batman, in her own special way. Her attitude and willingness to fight often masks the fact she has a big heart. Plus, she’s sassy, strong and kick-ass. What’s not to love about Catwoman?

What was your favourite childhood book?

I had many! I learned to read with Ladybird Books, so had a big collection of those, which included the Garden Gang series and a lot of fairytales. I still love reading fairytales, but nowadays I like to read the original, much older versions that are were a lot more sinister! But I think my all-time favourite childhood book is Roald Dahl’s Matilda. Everything about it is wonderful. I read it again and again, and still love it to this day.

What is the naughtiest thing you did as a child?

I don’t think I was a particularly naughty child but I did play the game ‘knock down ginger’ (when you knock on someone’s door and run away) a couple of times with friends in my street even though I would have been in a LOT of trouble if my mum knew!

What books are currently on your bedside table?

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, because I’ve wanted to read the James Bond novels for so long and it’s about damn time! I’m also about to start The Babysitter by Sheryl Browne, followed by The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. As for comics, I’m currently reading Gotham Central #2, by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka.

If Heaven is a library, in which section will you spend eternity?

It would have to be fiction! I would spend every blissful day in a different fictional world. I would never feel alone. The very idea of Heaven being a library is an amazing one indeed.

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EBook available from:

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

 

She’s Bad News – Blog Tour

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She’s Bad News – Elle Spellman

What would you do if you woke up with super powers?
For Bella Brown, life hasn’t gone according to plan. She’s almost thirty, still living in her uneventful hometown, and her dreams of becoming an investigative reporter have fallen by the wayside.
That is, until she wakes up one morning to find she’s been gifted with some amazing new abilities. What’s a girl to do with heightened senses, super speed and the ability to lift a truck one-handed? Bella quickly discovers that her new powers can easily help her land front-page leads at local newspaper, The Hartleybourne Gazette. 
Soon Bella’s out every night chasing down local criminals for stories, while keeping her powers a secret from everyone besides flatmate Chloe. But when a burglary-gone-wrong accidentally turns her into the mysterious Hartleybourne Heroine, Bella finds herself on the front page for the wrong reasons. Her secret becomes harder to keep as she tries to track down the source of her powers, and especially when crime reporter Matt Gilmore is intent on unmasking the town’s new vigilante…
Suddenly, having an extraordinary life is far more dangerous than she ever imagined.

She's Bad News - Author Photo ES HSBSIt would be very easy for any reviewer to classify this story as a nice easy read with nothing much to think about, or that it is a silly book, and over the top. Yes, it is all those things, but it is also much more. It very subtly addresses weight issues, the diet industry, workplace bullying, amongst other things.

Elle Spellman has written a fun superhero novel, where an ordinary girl accidently acquires some super-powers. It is funny, cringeworthy, sad, and scary. Yes, there are sections that could have been edited more tightly, others that should have been cut or condensed, but all in all this author has given us a book that covers some interesting issues and does it within the confines of a delightfully eccentric, entertaining, and thoroughly enjoyable story.

Bella, our heroine, can be irritating, but is adorable. She is the girl who left her mundane life, went to university and graduated with a journalism degree, and hoped for a bright future in London with a national newspaper. Sadly, she finds herself locked into a job with the local newspaper where she writes the Better Self column, covering slimming aids, the health benefits of asparagus, and such trivia, but not anything she regards as journalism. Layla, her boss, is a bitch, and belittles Bella at every opportunity. No matter how many article idea Bella tries to get approval for, Layla cruelly shuts her down, telling her that she is overstepping, and to leave the journalism to the reporters.

‘You’re responsible for Better Self, not Bella Brown Investigates…read the PR, write the reviews and the copy. It’s all I want you to do.’

Alice, Bella’s sister, doesn’t treat her much better. Everything is about Alice. She contacts Bella at anytime she deems fit, ignoring the fact that Bella is at work, for example, or anything else Bella may be doing. Bella may as well answer her mobile at work, she not a reporter, after all she failed at journalism.  As Bella tells us:

‘She would either call my desk phone all day, hire a sniper to take me out, or worse, take a three-hour drive…and turn up at my office just to make a point.’

Chloe is a health and fitness trainer and Bella’s best friend. She’s as mad as Bella, and though a bit annoying and ‘preachy’ at times, she has Bella’s best interests at heart, and helps and supports her. Add to the character mix the attractive crime reporter and the mysterious CEO of the company that produces NARCIS Ultra-Boost, the slimming pill that Bella must review, and the stage is set for madness, mayhem, and mishaps.

She's Bad News Cover HSBSShe’s Bad News is pure escapist fun, with a subtle lifting of a mirror to reflect the insanity of our world. A world that bullies, denigrates, and belittles those who don’t meet the standards of others. One of the things I liked about Bella and her acquisition of superpowers, is that she remained the same – a curvy overweight, awkward, sweet, down to earth girl. The superpowers gave her back the confidence and self-worth that was being slowly chipped away by her boss, her family, and others.

There is plenty of laughter, plenty of action, and some scary moments, as Bella uses her powers for crime-fighting investigative good. I just couldn’t read the last few chapters fast enough. Whatever the need for editing, She’s Bad News is a one of the most fun and enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time. I’m keen to read whatever Elle Spellman writes next and I hope she’ll bring us a Bella sequel.

Highly recommended.

April Release Box Sets

Sometimes I enjoy just binge reading a series. If you want to catch up on some very read-worthy box-sets, here are April’s releases:

Lords of the Underworld Vol 2Lords of the Underworld Collection Volume 2 by Gena Showalter

New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter’s sizzling Lords of the Underworld series continues with three stories featuring dangerously seductive immortal warriors and the women who change them forever. Journey through this dark and sensual world, where the line between good and evil blurs and true love is put to the ultimate test. Bundle includes: The Darkest Prison, The Darkest Whisper, The Darkest Passion and The Darkest Lie. BONUS: The Darkest Facts and an excerpt from The Darkest Warrior!

 

Navy Series

Navy Brides by Debbie Macomber

Fall in love with the Navy! These popular stories salute the men and women in the U.S. Navy, and the families and friends who support them. Each is an emotional story, a dramatic romance featuring Debbie Macomber’s always-believable characters, as well as her trademark touches of humor. Each is highly enjoyable on its own, but together they create a memorable reading experience. Life and Love in the Navy. There’s nothing like it!

The six books, in chronological order, are:
NAVY WIFE;  NAVY BLUES;  NAVY BRAT;  NAVY WOMAN;  NAVY BABY; NAVY HUSBAND

Highland Grooms Vol 1The Highland Grooms Collection Volume 1 by Julia London

These Highlanders stay strong and true to their hearts… don’t miss a single classic story in this unforgettable collection from New York Times bestselling author Julia London!
Wild Wicked Scot
Born into riches and groomed in English luxury, Margot Armstrong didn’t belong in a Scottish chieftain’s devil-may-care world. Three years ago she fled their marriage of convenience and hasn’t looked back—except to relive the moments spent in wild, rugged Arran McKenzie’s passionate embrace. But as political tensions rise, Margot must return to her husband to uncover his role in the treachery before her family can be accused of it.

Lord for Every LadyA Lord for Every Lady – several authors

Every lady dreams about a dashing lord sweeping her off her feet and into her happily ever after. Immerse yourself in these six tales of romance and discover how each lady lands her lord.

TO LOVE A THIEF by Darcy Burke

Former constable Lord Daniel Carlyle thinks he’s met the girl of his dreams, until he catches her stealing from his mentor. Jocelyn Renwick vows to stop at nothing to recover her stolen treasures, but does that include risking a chance at love?

TO LURE A LOST DUKE by Christy Carlyle

Killian Graves, Duke of Strathmoor, doesn’t wish to be found. An unforgivable act in London and haunting memories of war have turned him into a recluse. Not even Octavia Fowler, the fetching lady detective Queen Victoria has set on his trail, can lure him back from seclusion. Though she may prove extremely dangerous to his heart.

SCANDALOUS INTENTIONS by Amanda Mariel

Lady Sarah Roseington is determined to marry for love or not at all, and she will do anything to obtain the freedom granted to a man. A blackguard like Lord Luvington could destroy her hard-won reputation, but marriage to him also offers her the opportunities she cannot achieve on her own. What’s a lady to do?

THE MAD COUNTESS by Erica Monroe

Bashful Teddy Lockwood, the Earl of Ashbrooke, has always loved his best friend. When they’re drawn together at a mysterious Gothic castle, he’ll have to break a wicked curse to win her heart.

THEODORA by Christina McKnight

When Lady Theodora Montgomery is unmasked while competing in an archery tournament, she fears her reputation is ruined. To save face, she accepts a marriage of convenience with her friend’s older brother, Alistair Price—who soon shoots arrows to her heart with perfect aim.

THE ART OF SEDUCTION by Eileen Richards

Reduced circumstances have taught spinster Elizabeth Bishop to be an independent woman. But when a chance meeting brings Michael Camden, Marquess of Langston, back into her life, will she give up her independence for love?