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.

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.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Avenge the Dead by Jackie Baldwin (AND GIVEAWAY)

Today I’m pleased to welcome the Book Tour for the police procedural Avenge the Dead by Jackie Baldwin. Along with this spotlight post, I’ll be giving my take on the novel here in a bit. Be sure to check out the Giveaway at the bottom of this post. But let’s start by learning a little about this here book, okay?


Book Details:

Book Title: Avenge the Dead by Jackie Baldwin
Release date: 28th February 2020 (Ebook); April 2020 (Paperback)
Format: Paperback/Ebook
Length: 310 pages

Book Blurb:

Sometimes murder is the only way to get even…

Four friends with dark secrets. One killer out for revenge.

DI Frank Farrell and DS McLeod are tasked with investigating the brutal murder of a defence solicitor’s wife in Dumfries.

It’s been over a year since they left the town after an investigation robbed them of a dear friend. But now they’re back and must find a way to move on.

When the son of another defence solicitor is murdered, a strange tattoo etched on his body, the case takes them into darker, more disturbing territory.

It leads them back into the past – to a horrific fire in a cottage that took a woman’s life, to four friends harbouring dark secrets – and finally to a killer waiting patiently for revenge.

About Jackie Baldwin:

Jackie BaldwinJackie Baldwin is a Scottish crime writer. Her debut crime novel, Dead Man’s Prayer, was published by Killer Reads on 2nd September 2016. The second in the series, Perfect Dead was published on 15th June 2018. For most of her working life, she has been a solicitor specialising in Family and Criminal Law. She later retrained as a hypnotherapist. Married with a grown family, she recently moved from Dumfries to East Lothian.

Social Networks:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Website

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK ~ Waterstones ~ Hive.co.uk ~ Google Books ~ Blackwells

Giveaway:

WIN an Avenge the Dead Prize Bundle featuring all three books in the DI Frank Farrell series signed by the author plus extra treats!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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If the Rafflecopter widget doesn’t work there, simply click here.

Terms and Conditions
The giveaway will end at 00:00 (GMT) on Sunday 15th March 2020 and is open internationally. The winner will be contacted by email on Monday 16th March 2020 and will need to provide their postal address which will be passed to Jackie Baldwin for dispatch of the prize. No personal information will be stored as a result of this giveaway. There is no cash alternative. Good luck!


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: Venators: Magic Unleashed by Devri Walls

I’m very pleased today to welcome The Ultimate Blog Tour for Venators: Magic Unleashed by Devri Walls. So I’ve got this little spotlight post and my take on the audiobook coming along in a bit. But let’s start by learning a little about this novel, okay?

Book Details:

Book Title: Venators: Magic Unleashed by Devri Walls
Publisher: Brown Books Publishing Group
Release date: April 10, 2018
Format: Ebook/Paperback/Audiobook
Length: 236 pages

Book Blurb:

THE DARK UNKNOWN BECKONS

Welcome to Eon. An alternate dimension where fantasy and paranormal is reality, and humans sit at the bottom of the food chain. In this world of unadulterated power and ability, the innocent suffer greatly. The ruling council of Eon has selected two humans, born of the Venator bloodline, and brought them through the gate—wishing to manipulate their strength and special abilities for the council’s corrupt purposes. But, Grey and Rune have very different ideas.

When their college dorm is infiltrated by creatures from another realm, Rune Jenkins, her twin brother Ryker, and old friend Grey Malteer are thrown into unexpected, twisted chaos. While Rune and Gray are able to escape, Ryker is kidnapped away to Eon, the alternate world from whence these dark beings came.

With the help of a supernatural guide, Rune and Gray must now travel to Eon to save Ryker, and discover the illuminating truth about their ancestry. In this new world of fae, vampires, werewolves, and wizards, power is abundant and always in flux. Rune and Grey are being set up as pawns in a very dangerous game and must find their way through – and out of – Eon before it consumes them.

Fast-paced and supernaturally entertaining. It will leave you hungry for more!” –Addison Moore, New York Times bestselling author of the Celestra series

What an original and captivating fantasy! Venators: Magic Unleashed will suck you in, keep you guessing, and leave you breathless for more. I can’t wait for the next book!” –Chelsea Fine, bestselling author of the Archers of Avalon series.

About the Author:

Devri WallsDevri Walls is an international best selling author. She lives in Meridian, Idaho with her husband, two children and one adorable little mutt. Writing in all things fantasy, she would do just about anything for a working magic wand.

Mostly because she’s a walking disaster and a wand would be of enormous help…although she’d probably trip and break it. So, there’s that.

She graduated with a degree in theater and has studied vocal performance most of her life. She now teaches voice lessons when she’s not writing novels, cooking dinner, playing taxi, spending time with her amazingly supportive husband or trying to read.

Social Media:

Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Youtube ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest ~ Bookbub ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads

My thanks to The Write Reads for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: The Gene Wizards by Clare Blanchard

Today is my day for the Book Tour for The Gene Wizards by Clare Blanchard, the follow up to Wizard Ring (that I talked about a month ago). Along with 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: The Gene Wizards (Wizards Series #2) by Clare Blanchard
Publisher: CB Books
Release date: September 18, 2019
Format: Ebook
Length: 155 pages

Book Blurb:

It’s bad enough you’re from a family of rich bankers, without having to deal with secret genetic engineering factories in the Dakotas.

Especially when you wake up one morning after a tab of E and find you’re thinking in Hebrew.

Follow the adventures of the Vanpyre family as they wrestle with the Dark Side of money and power.

Brilliant, strange, and fantastic

“Deep…”; “Laugh out loud funny…..”

If you enjoy more experimental writing styles and brilliant writing …then this is the book for you.” 5 out of 5 stars, by J.S. Menefee, author of the Rephaim: Bloodlines series

 

About Clare Blanchard:

 Clare BlanchardOriginally from the North Yorkshire coast in England, Clare Blanchard spent half her lifetime in Czechia in Central Europe, where her books are mainly set. Inspired by noir fiction, her settings are often like another character in the plot. She writes crime mysteries and dark urban fantasy with a historical twist.

Clare loves beautiful landscapes and architecture, cross-country skiing, the wine of South Moravia, and of course Czech beer. When she’s not being literary she knits funky socks.

Social Networks:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Website ~ Instagram

Purchase Links:

Scribd ~ Kobo ~ Nook
The Gene Wizards will be reduced in price from $2.99 to $0.99 until 1st March 2020.

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: Hidden Steel by Stuart Field

Today is my day for the Book Tour for Hidden Steel by Stuart Field. Along with 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: Hidden Steel (John Steel #2) by Stuart Field
Publisher: Next Chapter
Release date: December 25, 2019
Format: Ebook/Paperback
Length: 618 pages

Book Blurb:

In the UK, Detective John Steel is investigating the organization who killed his family. When he comes across information that something big is going to happen on the cruise ship Neptune, Steel goes undercover. He has fourteen days to figure out what is going to happen – and to stop it.

In New York, Steel’s NYPD partner, Detective Samantha McCall, is investigating a series of deaths. All seems run of the mill for the homicide detective until they find out that the deaths are somehow connected to the cruise ship John Steel is on.

McCall is convinced there is a mole in the department, but can she figure out who he is – and who he’s working for? Meanwhile, Steel is running out of options… and the clock is ticking.

About Stuart Field:

Stuart FieldStuart Field was born in the UK, in the West Midlands. He spent his early years in the army, seeing service in all the known (and some unknown) hotspots around the world. He now lives in Germany with his wife Ani. When not engaged in highly confidential security work, he writes thrillers which perhaps mimic his life-experience more than the reader would like to believe.

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK ~ Amazon US

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.