Back to Reality: A Novel (Audiobook) by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton: A Parallel Universe/Body Swap Story Story Full of Laughs and Heart


Back to Reality

Back to Reality

by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton (Narrator)

Unabridged Audiobook, 10 hrs., 6 Min.
The Bestseller Experiment, 2019

Read: March 19-25, 2020


Oh, boy… how do I talk about this? I thought about calling this a bundle of joy, but that means something else. A bundle of audio joy, maybe? This was just so much fun that I want to start with that. If you’re looking to have a good time, this is a book for you.

If you read the Book Spotlight I just posted, you’ve got a good idea about the plot (and if you haven’t read the Spotlight, why not?). But for the sake of completeness here’s the gist: connected by something across the multiple parallel universes, two versions (one 18 and one almost 2 decades older) of one woman swap bodies for a few days. The older version works in PR, is the mother of a teen who can’t stand her, with marriage problems. The younger version is a pop star on the verge of breaking through in the ’90s. If they don’t swap back, there’s every sign that they won’t survive in this new world. But how can they do that?

That sounds sort of intriguing, I hope. But the book never really feels like that kind of Fringe-inspired take on a Back to the Future/Freaky Friday mashup, because of the voice, the style and approach of Stay and Oliver—which is characterized by humor and heart. It’s like early-Rainbow Rowell/Jennifer Weiner/Emily Giffin/Sophie Kinsella. These are strong women in very strange circumstances, surrounded by interesting characters responding to unbelievable situations.

We meet Jo on a night out with people from the office, which turns into an alcohol-fueled karaoke sensation (Jo has a fantastic voice, but a lot of stage fright). I enjoyed this chapter so much that I probably could’ve written 3-4 paragraphs about it alone and would’ve read an entire book about this woman’s life (especially because what happens to her in the next couple of chapters deserved a complete novel to see her respond to). It took me a little longer to get invested in “Yolo” (the 90’s version), but I came around and started rooting for her, too.

I am not the target audience for this (note the authors I mentioned above—some of which I only know through my wife’s description). And there were a few times I asked myself why I was listening to this—each time, I decided I was enjoying myself enough that I didn’t care if this was my typical read or not. There’s just a hint of SF, a dollop of Time Travel (more like jumping between parallel universes), and a healthy amount of “women’s commercial fiction.” This is a recipe for a wonderful literary dessert.

I’ll frequently (maybe too frequently?) talk about an audiobook narrator bringing the text to life. And Kim Bretton does that. But she does more than that—she fills it with life. Dynamic, energetic, vibrant…are just some of the adjectives that spring to mind. I was very happy when I just looked over her other audiobook credits and saw a couple of titles I was already thinking about—if she’s doing them, I’m giving them a try. (although, if I never hear her do another American male accent, I’d be more than okay).

Funny, sweet, amusing, heartfelt, laugh-inducing, touching, comic, imaginative—and did I mention humorous? This is 606 minutes of pure entertainment. I really encourage you to put this in your ear-holes. It’d probably work almost as well in print—Bretton’s great, but she has to have something to work with—but in audio? It’s close to a must-listen.


4 Stars

My thanks to Overview Media for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) they provided.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Back to Reality: A Novel (Audiobook) by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton

Today I’m pleased to welcome the Book Tour for the delightful audiobook of Back to Reality by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton (Narrator). Following this spotlight post, I’ll be giving my take on the novel here in a bit. But let’s start by learning a little about this here book, okay?


Book Details:

Book Title: Back to Reality by Mark Stay & Mark Oliver, Kim Bretton (Narrator)
Release date: September 25, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: The Bestseller Experiment
Length: 10 hours and 6 minutes

Book Blurb:

The bestselling ’90s nostalgia time travel comedy

Jo’s world is about to change forever, and it’s about time

Her marriage is on auto-pilot, daughter hates her, job sucks and it’s not even Tuesday.

As Jo’s life implodes, a freak event hurls her back to ‘90s Los Angeles where, in a parallel universe, she’s about to hit the big time as a rock star.

Jo has to choose between her dreams and her family in an adventure that propels her from London to Hollywood then Glastonbury, the world’s greatest music festival.

Jo encounters a disgraced guru, a movie star with a fetish for double-decker buses, and the biggest pop star in the world… who just happens to want to kill her.

Back to Reality is a funny, heartwarming story about second chances, with a heroine to rival Bridget Jones and the rock n roll nostalgia of Keith A Pearson.

The novel from the Bestseller Experiment podcast presenters Mark Stay and Mark Desvaux. The Two Marks went to more gigs in the ’90s than in any other decade and are currently working on a time machine to see Prince in concert.


Praise for Back to Reality

“Like if Nick Hornby wrote a time travel, body swap adventure!”—New York Times bestselling author Mimi Strong

“Everything the world loves about British comedy. For those who wished Simon Pegg wrote novels, you now have the Two Marks.”USA Today bestselling author Shannon Mayer

“Written with an authentic touch and plenty of good humour. A tough book to put down.”—Mark Dawson, USA Today bestselling author of the million-selling John Milton series

“A compelling story where the comedy compliments the drama and keeps you turning the page… A delight.”—Bestselling author of The Dublin Trilogy, Caimh McDonnell

“I LOVE IT! It’s Back to the Future meets Freaky Friday.”—#1 Kindle bestselling author of Hot Mess, Lucy Vine

“Crackles with all the addictive energy of a pop hit, and the heart of a soul classic.”—Samantha King, bestselling author of The Choice

“Like a book version of Hot Tub Time Machine with fabulous female characters and great music.”—Kate Harrison, author of the bestselling 5:2 series

“If you love time travel and rock and roll, you’ll love this book!”—Julie Cohen, author of Together

Sliding Doors meets Back to the Future in a story to make you sing with joy.”—Karen Ball, Speckled Pen

“A magnificent book! Loved every page. Beautifully written.”—Callan McAuliffe, actor The Walking Dead


What Amazon readers are saying:

★★★★★ ‘A real page-turner overflowing with humour.’
★★★★★ ‘All kinds of funny, from laugh out loud to quiet snorts of recognition.’
★★★★★ ‘I miss the characters so much I think I’ll start reading it again!’
★★★★★ ‘Pure pleasure to read. You won’t put it down until you reach the last page.’
★★★★★ ‘An absolutely cracking read. It’s funny, it’s clever, it’s heartwarming, and completely impossible to put down.’
★★★★★ ‘It’s —Spinal Tap meets —Back to the Future meets —Freaky Friday.’
★★★★★ ‘Funny, fast and massively entertaining. Hugely recommend.’
★★★★★ ‘—Back To Reality has it all; It’s funny, it’s thrilling, its thought-provoking and inspiring, but be warned, once you start reading this book you won’t want to put it down.’
★★★★★ ‘Think —Peggy Sue Got Married meets MTV. Funny and warmhearted. Highly Recommended.’
★★★★★ ‘This book reads like the best comedy movies. Great pace, humour and loads of action. Recommended for fans of Douglas Adams and Helen Fielding.’
★★★★★ ‘Belts along at a cracking pace, at times reminding me of Douglas Adams.’

About the Authors:

Mark Stay

Mark StayMark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. Author of the fantasy novel The End of Magic, he is also co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com

Mark Oliver

Mark OliverMark Desvaux writes fiction as Mark Oliver. He also authors inspirational non-fiction and online courses, and is a professional speaker in the fields of self-development and spiritual growth. He is chairman and co-founder of the charity Foodshare. As a bestselling recording artist (Urban Myth Club), Mark’s two critically-acclaimed albums have led to appearances at festivals such as Glastonbury (which he tries to mention on every podcast). He lives on Vancouver Island with his family, surrounded by the beautiful mountains and seas, with chickens, bees and very tall trees.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US

My thanks to Overview Media for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) they provided.

GUEST POST: GenTech in the Workplace: A Fresh Perspective Employing Generations

GenTech in the Workplace: A Fresh Perspective Employing Generations

by Guest Blogger Dr. Rick Chromey

The Millennial is creative but lazy and entitled. The Gen Xer is hardworking but rude and disloyal. The Boomer is reliable but old and out of touch. It’s a generational cocktail that produces derision and indecision, doubt and depression.

So, let’s say you’re a 35-year old and you lead a diverse team of three different ages. You have a worker who’s 18, another is 56 and yet one more aged 65. Traditionally, you view them as Gen Z, Gen X, and Boomer, but you could also see them from a different perspective.

Recast them through their generational technologies, to bring out the best performance.

Let me show you how.

The 18-year old

The 18-year old was born in 2001. She’s part of the Net (1990-2010) and iTech (2000-2020) generations. She’s been coming of age since 2011 and will reach full adult maturity in 2026. She’s known only a digital, cyberculture. The internet is like electricity. Her first technology was the smartphone and the iPad. She’s been baptized in social media. As a young employee, she is fluid in digital media, embraces diversity and is constantly connected. She doesn’t do email nor Facebook but enjoys Snapchat and Instagram. She wants to be a YouTube entrepreneur. The Gen Zer likes long breaks and often calls in sick.

The 56-year old

The 56-year old was born in 1963. He’s part of the Space (1950-1970) and Gamer (1960-1980) generations. He came of age between 1973 and 1988. His whole life has been like a video game and a rocket ride. He’s seen revolutions and recessions, a man landing on the moon and a teacher dying at takeoff. He remembers Nixon’s resignation, Reagan’s near assassination and Clinton’s impeachment. He grew up on rabbit ears, snowy channels, and black and white television. Consequently, he’s a bit jaded. He’s a realist. He struggles with newer tech. He still prefers old-school letters but has fully embraced email. He got hit hard by the Big Recession and has little saved for retirement. He’s working for every last penny. The Gen Xer has had five jobs in twenty years.

The 65-year old

The 65-year old was born in 1954. She’s part of the Television (1940-1960) and Space (1950-1960) generations. She came of age between 1964 and 1979. She watched JFK’s assassination, the Beatles and Walter Cronkite on television. She had an 8-Track in her car and a stack of records on her bedroom floor. She’s an idealist with a bit of hippie in her. She doesn’t mind the tech but thinks it’s over-rated. She prefers to talk face-to-face. She’s worked for the company for thirty years. She’s Ms. Reliable and she struggles with the team at times.

You – the 35-year old

And then there’s you. You were born in 1984. You’re part of the Cable Television (1970-1990) and Personal Computer-Cell Phone (1980-2000) generations. You came of age between 1994 and 2009. You grew up in a modem, flip phone, desktop culture. You watched the 9-11 terrorist attacks on CNN and suckled on an MTV cribs reality culture. You are computer literate and tech-savvy. You’re confident, verbal and view the world differently than older workers. You don’t mind email but prefer texts.

Your team is a reflection of their “coming of age” technology. One travels life (and work) like a video game while another freely swims in social media. One prefers texts and another wants face-to-face. One is company-loyal and another works to play.

Now you have a good picture of who’s on your team. How will you now delegate workflow? What will change?

The people working for you are the products of their generation’s technology.

 

We are giving away GenTech for free for one hour on AMAZON

GenTech is having a best-seller party, Thursday, March 26, 2020, 7-8pm EST and the book will be free for 1-hour on Amazon. Join us, and please share!

Want to learn more about GenTech? Go to http://www.mygentech.us, and we are on Facebook: @authorrichchromey, Twitter: @MyGenTech2020, and Instagram @MyGenTech. You can reach Dr. Rick Chromey at rick@rickchromey.com.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change and Who We Really Are by Dr. Rick Chromey

Welcome to the Irresponsible Reader’s tour stop for Dr. Rick Chromey’s GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change and Who We Really Are! In addition to this Book Spotlight, I’ve got a Guest Post from the author coming up in a bit, too. Give this book a second-look folks, maybe more. There’s a giveaway at the end of this post (and information on how to get a free copy in the Guest Post, too!)—be sure you check them out!

We are uniquely shaped by innovations that influenced us during our “coming of age” years between 10 and 25.
It is the technological interactions in our adolescence and college
years that guide our generational frames more than anything else, not the day we were born.We are generations of technology. We are GenTech.
– Dr. Rick Chromey
Join us for this tour from Mar 23 to Apr 3, 2020!

Book Details:

Book Title:  GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change and Who We Really Are by Dr. Rick Chromey
Category:  Adult Non-fiction 18 yrs +,  328 pages
Genre:  History / Cultural & Technical History
Publisher:  Morgan James Publishing
Release date:   May 26, 2020
Tour dates: Mar 23 to Apr 3, 2020
Content Rating:  G : This is a non-fiction book about our technical history and how it has shaped our culture.

Book Description:

Every twenty years a new generation rises, but who and what defines
these generations? And could current generational tags mislead and miss
the point? In this insightful analysis of technology history since 1900,
Dr. Rick Chromey offers a fresh perspective for understanding what
makes a generation tick and differ from others. Within GenTech,
readers learn how every generation uniquely interacts with particular
technologies that define historical temperament and personality and why
current generational labels are more fluid than fixed, and more loopy
than linear. Consequently, three major generational constellations
emerge, each containing four, twenty-year generations that overlap,
merge, and blend:

 

  • The Audio Generations (1900-1950):
    Transportation-Telephone Generation (1900-1920), Motion Picture
    Generation (1910-1930), Radio Generation (1920-1940), Vinyl Record
    Generation (1930-1950)
  • The Visual Generations (1940-1990): Television
    Generation (1940-1960), Space Generation (1950-1970), Gamer Generation
    (1960-1980) and Cable Television Generation (1970-1990)
  • The Digital Generations (1980-2000): Personal
    Computer-Cell Phone Generation (1980-2000), Net Generation (1990-2010),
    iTech Generation (2000-2020), and Robotics Generation (2010-2030). Dive
    in and revel in this exciting, compelling, and novel perspective to
    understanding recent American generations with GenTech.

 

Official Scheduled Release Date is May 26, 2020.
Pre-Order Now:
Amazon.com ~ Barnes & Noble ~ IndieBound
BAM ~ Powell‘s ~ Indigo ~ Rediscovered Books

 

Meet the Author:  

Rick Chromey is a cultural explorer, social historian and generational
futurist. He’s also served as a pastor, professor, speaker/trainer, and
consultant. In 2017, he founded MANNA! Educational Services
International to inspire and equip leaders, teachers, pastors, and
parents. Rick has a doctorate in leadership and the emerging culture;
and travels the U.S. and world to speak on culture, faith, history,
education, and leadership topics. He has authored over a dozen books on
leadership, natural motivation, creative communication, and classroom
management. He lives with his wife, Linda, in Meridian, Idaho.
Connect with the Author: website ~ youtube ~ facebook ~ twitter ~ instagram

Enter the Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The Awful Truth About the Sushing Prize by Marco Ocram: Metaficton, Murders, and Tom Cruise, Oh My!

The Awful Truth About the Sushing Prizhttp://tattoolit.com/e

The Awful Truth About the Sushing Prize

by Marco Ocram
Series: The Awful Truth, #1

Kindle Edition, 346 pg.
Tiny Fox Press, 2019

Read: March 17-20, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!

With notable exceptions—among whom I would include you, my friend—writers are the most egotistical of all humans. The desire to be published is a desire for attention. When one writer draws less attention than another they suffer a humiliating insult to their psychological ego centres.

After compiling last Saturday’s Miscellany post, and thinking about this book, I’ve decided that I really should have read The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker before starting this one. Just what I’ve gleaned online about this book makes it seem like Denis Shaughnessy Marco Ocram was fairly influenced on it for at least the backstory and a couple of the character names for this present novel. I’m curious about how much more than that I’d have picked up if I’d read Dicker before the palindromic Ocram, but it’s not a necessary pre-requisite.

I have, however, read Mark Leyner’s Et Tu, Babe, which this novel also reminded me of. I’m pretty sure I haven’t come across anything in Crime Fiction that I could compare to Leyner before, so that’s saying something.

The Ocram that’s the narrator of The Awful Truth About the Sushing Prize, like the protagonist Leyner, is a mega-selling author and celebrity, master of multiple disciplines. One thing that Ocram can do that Leyner couldn’t* is he can shape the course of the novel—or a scene he’s in the middle of—because he’s writing his reality. Which I hope makes sense. (Think of the movie Stranger than Fiction, but Will Ferrell’s character is calling the shots).

* As I recall, anyway. It’s been a couple of decades since my last re-read.

In an attempt to get out of watching sports with his friend, the Chief of Police Como Galahad, Ocram invents a body down at the port. The two go to investigate and end up in dealing with criminals from around the globe in a scheme that defies reason (but makes a lot of sense when the details are revealed).

Most of the book is truly outlandish and implausible, but it fits this tour of absurdity better than you could imagine.

The weakness of this book comes from its strength and premise, the novel is so clever and adheres so much to the conceit that it gets in the way of telling a good story with some depth to the characters. It’s still a decent story with amusing characters—but I think if the writer had pulled back a little from his commitment to the premise it’d be a better novel. Of course, if he had, I’d probably complain about him pulling his punches. So take this with a handful of salt.

“I heard six shots. You didn’t get him with any of them?”

“No, but they think I hit his car.”

“Good shooting. Next time I need to hit a barn door from ten paces I’ll ask you along for advice.”

“It’s easy to be sarcastic, but don’t forget I’ve never used a gun before.”

“That’s true. At least you worked out which was the shooty end. Could have been messy otherwise.

The humor is sometimes as subtle as a sledgehammer attacking a watermelon. Then within a sentence or two, something will be slipped in so cleverly that I had to re-read it a couple of times to make sure that what I thought was funny was supposed to be. I generally preferred the latter, but some of the obvious jokes were so well done that I don’t want to knock the frequent lack of subtlety. I’ve gone back to this next line so many times over the last couple of days, and still chuckle at it:

He’s meant to be one of the most intelligent people in the world. An autodidact too.”

“He can spout as much about cars as he likes…

The metafictional aspect of the novel is largely used for humorous ends—although sometimes it’s a tool to progress the plot, too. Sure, sometimes it’s used for loftier ends (à la Leyner’s work), but the emphasis here is for entertainment value. Which saves it from becoming a self-indulgent, pretentious mess rather than being what it is: self-indulgent fun. Here’s a few lines (I could produce many more) as illustration:

Which left the agency driver—just as I’d suspected when I made him up.

It was the oldest plot twist in the book (so far, anyway). I wagged my head at the thought of how predictable it all was.

Back in the car park, I made a convenient continuity error and climbed into my black Range Rover, hoping my readers wouldn’t remember that I’d left it at a burnt-out warehouse three chapters ago.

There are a couple of instances where the author switches from past tense to present because the events being described are so intense. I found myself grinning while reading each time it happened. It’s a delightfully inspired choice.

I chuckled, I looked up a couple of words, I wondered about the author’s sanity and really enjoyed myself while reading this. Sure, I wanted a little more depth, a little more reason to connect with any of the characters or the story—but I knew I wasn’t supposed to. The Awful Truth About the Sushing Prize is an impressive novel, clever and amusing—and if you can embrace the absurdity behind it, you’ll be glad you read it (and you’ll probably still enjoy it if you don’t fully get on board with the absurdity, but you’ll have to work harder for it).


3.5 Stars

This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase from it, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are my own.


My thanks to damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) they provided.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: The Awful Truth About the Sushing Prize by Marco Ocram

Today I’m pleased to welcome the Book Tour for the absurd metafictional humorous Crime Novel The Awful Truth About the Sushing Prize by Marco Ocram (did I get all the adjectives in there?). Following this spotlight post, I’ll be giving my take on the novel here in a bit. But let’s start by learning a little about this here book, okay?


Book Details:

Book Title: b>The Awful Truth About the Sushing Prize by Marco Ocram
Release date: June 4, 2019
Format: Ebook
Length: 346 pages

Book Blurb:

Should I tell him about Sushing or play dumb?

Sticking in my comfort zone, I played dumb.

Writer Marco Ocram has a secret superpower—whatever he writes actually happens, there and then. Hoping to win the million-dollar Sushing Prize, he uses his powers to write a true-crime thriller, quickly discovering a freakish murder. But Marco has a major problem—he’s a total idiot who can’t see beyond his next sentence. Losing control of his plot and his characters, and breaking all the rules of fiction, Marco writes himself into every kind of trouble, until only the world’s most incredible ending can save his bacon.

Fast, funny, and utterly different, welcome to the weird world of The Awful Truth.

About Marco Ocram:

Marco Ocram is the world’s first self-written author-cum-protagonist. First imagined in 2015, he has gone on to infect the world of literature with two awful anti-thrillers which subvert the tropes of mainstream fiction. Heavily dosed with nuanced intertextuality, the books make little literal sense, and will strike you either as hilarious spoofs or utter nonsense, depending upon your taste in such matters.

Social Networks:

Twitter ~ Website

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US ~ Waterstones ~ Book Depository

My thanks to damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials (including a copy of the novel) they provided.

COVER REVEAL: Death in Smoke by Barbara Elle

Welcome to The Irresponsible Reader’s part in the Cover Reveal for Barbara Elle’s Death in Smoke! Thanks to Time Zones and whatnot, this isn’t so much a Cover Reveal as much as it is a Cover Confirmation at this point, but that’s being a little pedantic. There’s a spiffy looking cover down below, but before the picture, I’ve got a few words to share about the book.

Book Blurb

She stumbled on a bloodied body buried in a snowbank. Will a cold case in Kansas lead her to the killer?

Against a canvas of crime and murder, artist and detective Leila Goodfriend investigates two brutal murders that happened a thousand miles—and decades apart.

As she unravels the truth about these two violent killings, she tracks a trail of blood and revenge, littered with smoke screens and stone relics of a perilous past. From Cape Cod to a casino in Kansas, Leila has to trust her instincts. And her developing relationship with Detective John Grace is put to a new, dangerous test.

Despite the detective’s warnings, Leila puts her life at risk, obsessed with proving her friend’s innocence, at least of murder.

She exposes new suspects and clues, and in the end, reveals a dark, deadly secret from her own past.

Death In Smoke, the new psychological thriller from acclaimed author Barbara Elle, takes readers on an inner and physical journey across time, challenging your assumptions about what is truth—what remains a mystery.

Buy Link

https://amzn.to/2SRgVYd


The Author

Barbara ElleIn her stunning debut thriller, Death In Vermilion (The Cape Mysteries Book 1), acclaimed author Barbara Elle paints a clever and twisted picture of women and sisters, whose lives are entwined by a brutal murder in a Cape Cod town. Who can you trust?

Now, Death In Smoke (The Cape Mysteries Book 2) asks what’s the connection between a bloodied body buried in a snow bank on a remote island off the Cape and a cold case in Kansas? Can artist and amateur sleuth Leila Goodfriend solve this new mystery?

Barbara Elle fell in love with books and writing at a young age, honing her writing chops as a copywriter at major publishers and as a freelance journalist.

Growing up in Boston, but she became a New Yorker as an adult. Her writing draws on people and places she remembers, setting The Cape Mysteries on Cape Cod, a place of memories.

Barbara Elle continues collecting characters and plots, often traveling the world with her touring musician husband, bass player and musical director for rock and roll icon Cyndi Lauper. In her travels, Barbara has explored Buddhist temples in Beijing, crypts in Vienna and Kabuki Theater in Tokyo.


Without further ado…

The Cover


That smoke just makes your eyes sting a bit, doesn’t it? Great moody cover.

You can get your hands on this cover (and the novel it goes with!) at https://amzn.to/2SRgVYd. I know I will.



My thanks to Love Books Group for the invitation to participate in this reveal and the materials they provided.

Love Books Group