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King of Hearts by Mark Stibbe - Book Tour

By 5:00 AM , , , , , , , ,


King of Hearts tells the gripping story of Jake Graystone, a struggling teacher, husband, and father, who looks for easy money playing poker. When his wife Sally exposes his secret addiction on Christmas Eve, he walks out and heads north for Casino City, leaving his family for a dark world of gambling, prostitution and murder.
How will the cards fall for Jake in this brutal, urban wasteland? And, as the stakes get higher and higher, will this modern Desperado ever come to his senses?

King of Hearts is a winter, festive story to sit alongside It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. Raw yet redemptive, it is a Christmas tale you'll not be able to put down.

At the end of each chapter, you will want to twist, not fold.  

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Just as he was about to yield to the numbing cold, he sensed something wet snuffling around his head and then all over his face. This is it, Jake thought. Game over.
But the game wasn’t over. It was only when Jake felt thin, long whiskers brushing against his cheeks, tickling his skin, that he began to realise what it was. The sound of sniffing was the final giveaway, as was a warm, rough tongue that dragged across his icy cheeks. It was a large, stray dog – a German Shepherd – that had sought and found some warmth on a bitter night.
Jake opened the top of his sleeping bag and unzipped the edge, offering his canine friend the opportunity of shelter. The dog, desperate to get warm, clambered inside headfirst, before turning somewhere about Jake’s waist and returning with its dribbling nose to the top again.
Jake drew the blankets and the cardboard back above him. Within seconds he began to benefit from the warm body. There they lay without moving, drawing strength and comfort from each other’s body heat, until the blackened firmament turned leaden grey and the first hint of a morning sky began to appear above them.
Jake woke first to find the dog nestled into the scarf around his neck, her long and bony back pressed close into his stomach, her tail down to his shins. He looked at her eyes, which were still closed tight. She looked old and weary. A large scar extended from just above her left eye towards her tall and pointed left ear. When she opened her eyes as Jake began to stir, he saw that the pupil of this eye was damaged too, and what looked like a thin and milky membrane had drawn itself like a curtain over her tired retina.
‘Hello,’ said Jake.
The German Shepherd squinted as he spoke, drawing her face into what looked like the makings of a canine smile. This was confirmed by the dog’s long tail wagging against his legs beneath in the folds of the sleeping bag.
Jake reached out into his capsized trolley, groping for a packet of biscuits or some crisps. Withdrawing a red bag, he tore open the top with his stained teeth before removing a few crisps in his hands. The German Shepherd lifted her head, her ears pricking, and started sniffing vigorously at the edge of the bag.
‘Oh no you don’t,’ Jake said, fearing that the dog would do to the crisp bag what she had done to his sleeping bag the night before.
He pushed her eager nose away and held two crisps in his cold fingers before her face. She leaned her head to one side and took the food from his hands without touching his fingers at all, crunching it before swallowing. No sooner had she done this than she began to stare at the crisps once more, moving her hungry eyes from the bag to Jake and back again, her brown and black ears at full stretch and maximum anticipation, her chops revealing a thin layer of white saliva.
‘Oh, go on then,’ Jake said, tipping the whole bag onto some cardboard just beyond her face, watching as she consumed the larger pieces before licking every tiny fragment she could find.
‘I’ll call you Sandy,’ he said, ‘because you kept me warm last night.’ 

Author Bio

Mark Stibbe, “An acclaimed Christian author,” New York Times.

Mark started writing when he was very young, publishing his first book - an anthology of poetry entitled The Drawing out of Days - when he was just 17. Since then, he has been a prolific author and professional writer, with over 50 books published, and countless articles in broadsheet newspapers, journals and magazines. One of his most successful recent books has been Home at Last, offering a faith-based journey of recovery for those who were deeply affected by the trauma of being sent away to boarding school. He has also ghost written over thirty books, of many different genres.

In 2013, Mark migrated from writing nonfiction to fiction and this resulted in the co-authored historical spy thriller The Fate of Kings and now his debut, single-authored novel, King of Hearts, a raw but redemptive Christmas tale in the tradition of A Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Life. In early 2020, as the official storyteller for the award-winning Arokah Puzzle Game, he and Steve Brazier, the inventor of the puzzle, will publish the first in a series of Sci Fi Fantasy novels based around Arokah and starring Khali, an autistic, mixed-race hero. These are aimed at the 9-13 age group. 

Mark runs BookLab with his wife Cherith, a company dedicated to equipping aspiring writers to become great authors. He is a frequent and much in-demand speaker at workshops for writers and conferences in which the subjects of his books are featured. He has often been interviewed on BBC (Radio and TV), Channel 4 and other media, and writes articles for The Times. Having been brought up by an adoptive father who dined fortnightly with CS Lewis, his whole life has been devoted to books and to writing. He lives in Kent with his wife Cherith and their Black Labrador, Bella.



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