A Lover of Books

Book Launch – ‘Kings and Queens’ by Terry Tyler


Terry Tyler’s brand new novel ‘Kings and Queens’ is out today and is available on Amazon.  Just click on the link below:- 


Terry Tyler’s seventh novel is a romantic drama spanning the years 1971 – 2007, with an unusual echo from history …

KINGS AND QUEENS tells of the life and loves of charismatic Harry Lanchester, which just happen to mirror the story of Henry VIII and his six wives. All the passion and suspense of the Tudor court, but set in modern times!

Harry’s realm is his south of England property developing company, Lanchester Estates, while his ‘wives’ are the twentieth century sisters of their historic counterparts: Anne Boleyn is reincarnated as the equally intriguing Annette Hever, and Henry VIII’s fifth wife with the risque past, Catherine Howard, lives again in 1999 as Keira Howard, a former lap dancer.

The saga is narrated by each of the six women, in turn, interspersed with short chapters from the point of view of Harry’s lifelong friend, Will Brandon.

Don’t worry if you know nothing of this period in history – Kings and Queens can be enjoyed just as a contemporary family drama, very much in the vein of Ms Tyler’s previous novels. Readers with an interest in the Tudors, though, will pick up on many similarities and references, some very subtle, and some amusing ~ a rock band called Traitors’ Gate, for instance! For those non-Tudor fanatics who would like a brief look at the life of Henry VIII before reading, the author has included, in the Kindle book, a link to a mini-biography on her blog.

A sequel, following the lives of Harry’s three children, is already planned.

‘Tiny Acts of Love’ by Lucy Lawrie

Tiny Acts of Love

Black and White Publishing very kindly sent me ‘Tiny Acts of Love’ to review. This is Lucy Lawrie’s debut novel and having read it I am already really looking forward to her next book.

Cassie, a lawyer and new mum has just arrived home from hospital having given birth to Sophie only to discover that Jonathan, her husband, has made a bit of an embarrassing mistake. He converses mainly through jokes, her best friend lives on the other side of the world and the mums in the Babycraft group aren’t exactly a help. Cassie finds herself struggling, but Jonathan doesn’t seem to be paying proper attention to her and dismisses her maternal anxieties.

Five months later Cassie returns to work part-time. She bangs into ex-boyfriend Malkie. Although he dumped her years ago he still stirs up old feelings inside her. On top of all the emotional turmoil she is going through, she also finds amongst other things that she has to advise a funeral director on ghost protocol. It just gets madder and madder. Cassie is about to discover that marriage and motherhood isn’t the fairytale she thought it would be.

I had the feeling I would enjoy ‘Tiny Acts of Love’ and I wasn’t wrong. For a start off the cover caught my eye. It’s just so lovely and it tells you all you need to know about the book. The story is set in Edinburgh which brought back memories of my holiday there last year.

‘Tiny Acts of Love’ takes a real look at motherhood.   I warmed to Cassie right from the start. I’m not a mum but I could still sympathise with her. How difficult must it be when you’re married and have just had a baby only to find that an old flame comes back into your life? Though this story is primarily about Cassie it also looks at her husband and the issues he is having. There are also a number of other characters, some of whom are really interesting.

Hilarious, touching and at times sad ‘Tiny Acts of Love’ is a winner.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

Interview with Elle Field


Elle Field is a twenty-something chick lit author who lives in South London with her boyfriend. Her debut chick lit novel Kept was released last year, which was followed by Geli Voyante’s Hot or Not.

Elle was interested in being interviewed for my blog and kindly answered some questions.


What type of books do you write?

I write chick lit books, which some would call contemporary romantic women’s fiction. It seems that a lot people really don’t like the connotations of ‘chick lit’, but I think this rule should be applied: You should never judge a book by its cover; likewise, you should never judge a book by its genre!


Can you tell me a bit about your latest novel please?

My last novel to hit the shelves was Geli Voyante’s Hot or Not. Geli works in the Gherkin as a newspaper’s Hot or Not writer. As well as scoring plenty of freebies, her job also has the added bonus of sitting next to Theodore Bones, the very hot political columnist who Geli has had a crush on ever since she started her job.

When her arch-nemesis Tiggy Boodles gets engaged, Geli finally sets about to try and convince Theo that she’s not as shallow as her light-hearted column suggests and, more importantly, that she’s the one for him. Geli soon realises though that like there are two sides to every story, that also applies to people…

Set in wintry London and sunny South Africa, Geli Voyante’s Hot or Not is full of twists and turns, glamour and glitz, as well as frolics and fashion. Make sure you read it to find out whether Geli gets her man!

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on the sequel to Kept, which was my debut novel, so you’ll be able to find out how Arielle gets on now she’s back in London. I won’t spoil it for those who still have Kept on their TBR pile, but I can tell you that there will be more of Obélix and Felicity in this book, as well as some interesting new characters who might not be all that they seem on first appearances…

Lost will be out this summer, and I can’t wait to share what happens next to Arielle!

How do you feel once you’ve had a new book published?

It’s the strangest feeling. It’s exciting, of course, but it’s also a day tinged with sadness as you’ve now done all you can for your characters. I imagine it’s akin to having your grown children go off to explore the big, wide world!

Have you got any advice for anyone wanting to write their first novel?

Never give up. It might take you six months to publish your first novel, or it might take six years… if you give up though, it never will. Sometimes you will want to, but you must keep at it!

What do you like doing in your spare time?

It goes without saying that I do a lot of reading in my spare time. I love exploring and photographing Blighty’s capital, seeing far too many musicals, and eating my way around London’s culinary delights. I’m also a massive fan of The Killers, Milka Daim, giraffes, caipirinhas, Audrey Hepburn movies, balsamic vinegar, Scrabble, sunshine and champagne, so I like my life to involve these as much as possible, too!

Who are your favourite authors and have any of them influenced your writing?

Maggie Alderson, Meg Cabot, Dorothy Koomson, Sophie Kinsella and Sarra Manning are some of my favourite chick lit authors, and they’ve definitely inspired my writing.

If you could be Prime Minister for a day what would you do?

I would probably get distracted and spend a hefty chunk of that day poking and peering into the secret nooks and crannies of Number 10 and the Houses of Parliament. It would certainly be the opportune time to garner some unique insight for a future book!


Below are some useful links:-

Kept: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kept-ebook/dp/B00CHCOO7E

Geli Voyante’s Hot or Not: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Geli-Voyantes-Hot-Not-ebook/dp/B00FY12QUM

You can read Elle’s literary, London and life adventures on her blog: http://www.ellefield.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter: @ellefie

Like her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ellefieldauthor

Connect with her on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7060681.Elle_Field

‘Sabre Six – File 51′ by Jamie Fineran

Sabre Six - File 51

Percy Publishing is an independent publishing house specialising in adult fiction. They very kindly sent me a number of their books to review. I chose to read ‘Sabre Six – File 51’ by Jamie Fineran first. An ex-soldier, this is his debut novel.

Set in 2013, this story is about Michael Fox, an ex-SAS soldier who served in many countries including Northern Ireland, Africa, Iraq and Canada. He now works for a private security firm abroad.

Michael is at Gare du Nord Station, Paris, waiting for his train to London. He can’t wait to get home to his family. However, he is waylaid by an old friend from the Regiment who needs a rather big favour. Michael soon finds himself working for the British Intelligence Agency M15, his task being to follow Ryan Killeen, an ex-IRA boss who now trades guns for the Taliban. Michael doesn’t realise it, but his whole life is about to be turned upside down.

This novel only took me a couple of days to read. It’s compact, fast-paced and thrilling which made me want to read on. The story itself goes back and forth a little bit giving the reader a good insight into the job Michael has just completed, plus his time in Iraq.

I would say that this book is more for men, but I’m sure like me other women will find it just as enjoyable. There is a lot of swearing throughout although I think that it is to be expected. It also gets graphic in places for which you might just need a strong stomach.

I give this book 4 out of 5.


‘Sabre Six – File 51’ has been shortlisted for The People’s Book Prize 2014. If you do read this book and find that you like it you can vote for it here:-


For more information about Percy Publishing visit their website here:-


‘Surrounded by Water’ by Stephanie Butland – Blog Tour

Blog Tour Poster


‘Surrounded by Water’ is Stephanie Butland’s debut novel.  It was published on the 10th April 2014 by Transworld in hardback and eBook.  We are celebrating the release of this wonderful book with this blog tour.




Elizabeth’s world is turned upside down when her husband dies in a tragic drowning accident.

How typical of her kind, generous husband – a respected police officer – to sacrifice his own life saving a complete stranger’s.

Or so she thinks.

What exactly was her husband doing at the lake that night? And what if his death isn’t the most difficult thing she will have to deal with?

Elizabeth must face the consequences of her husband’s actions. As she does so, it seems that the end of Mike’s life is only the beginning of his wife truly getting to know him.


As part of the tour I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie.

I have really been enjoying ‘Surrounded by Water’.  How long did it take you to write?

It took a long time for SURROUNDED BY WATER to find the right shape. An early NaNoWriMo version stalled and sat waiting to be developed for about a year. Once I found the key to the story, the first completed draft took about three months. And then when I started to work with my editor we changed the structure of the book and it was about another three months to get into the form that it’s now in. So the genesis of SURROUNDED BY WATER was probably two-and-a-half years, and within that about eight months of serious, solid writing.

Where did you get your ideas for this novel from?

They grew. Believe it or not, SURROUNDED BY WATER started life as a comic novel about a committee. Feedback from an early reader persuaded me to drop the committee and then the real story of Elizabeth and her grief emerged. More than that though I believe the stories should be character driven, so once I was clear about the people in the book everything flowed from there.

Have you always wanted to write or is something you fancied doing later on in life?

As a child I wanted to be a writer. Life took me in other directions but cancer brought me back to the page, when I wrote two memoirs of my dance with the disease.

Can we expect more novels from you?

Yes! THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE YOU is well through the editorial process at the moment and will come out next year. I’m just started working on IT COULD BE TRUE. These novels are set in Throckton too, although they bring in new characters.

Have you got any good advice for anyone wanting to write their debut novel?

Yes. Just do it. It’s better to find 20 minutes a day and write something that you don’t think is very good than it is to wait until you think you have the time and the right words.


One very lucky person has the chance to win a signed copy of ‘Surrounded by Water’.  To enter just leave a comment about this interview.

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 4th May 2014.

The winner will be notified within 7 days and his or hers details will be passed on to Transworld who will send out the prize.

Good luck everyone! :-)


Visit http://www.theloveofagoodbook.wordpress.com tomorrow for another interview with Stephanie Butland.

Stephanie is on Twitter – @under_blue_sky


Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Stephanie.  You are one amazing lady and I am really looking forward to reading your next two novels.

Sonya x


Leigh Russell’s ‘Fatal Act’ Blog Tour

Blog Tour Schedule


Leigh Russell’s brand new book ‘Fatal Act’, the sixth and latest DI Geraldine Steel Mystery is being published by No Exit Press on the 29th May 2014.  This is Leigh Russell’s very first UK blog tour which I am honoured to be involved in.




A glamorous young TV soap star dies in a car crash. Returning for her sixth case, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is baffled as the driver of the second vehicle miraculously survives – and vanishes. Another young actress is murdered and, once again, the killer mysteriously disappears. Geraldine unwittingly risks her sergeant’s life in their struggle to track down a serial killer who leaves no clues.



All she wanted to do now was get home safely. She drove slowly, looking out for a side road she could turn into. With luck she could slip away before her pursuer realised what she was doing. She passed a turning on the right, displaying a no entry sign. She braked abruptly. Her phone flew off the passenger seat. The van slowed down behind her. Worn out and stressed, she couldn’t even remember why she had been so angry with Piers. It had been a stupid argument in the first place. She wished she was back at home, away from the road at night and its wildness. Leaning forward to retrieve her phone from the floor, she punched Piers’ speed dial key. His phone rang, but there was no answer. She glanced in her mirror and glimpsed the other driver, his face a black mask in the darkness.


As part of this tour I was interested in learning about Leigh’s writing space.

My Writing Space


My desk is by a window. I like to be able to look out at the sky when I’m writing. It gives me an inspiring sense of freedom. I sit here for hours and hours, when the mood takes me – and when I have that much time. If you spend a lot of time writing, as I do, you have to think about a comfortable seating position, in order to avoid back ache. To add to my physical comfort, my chair swivels, so when my anyone else is in the room, I can turn round and talk to them without standing up. (How lazy is that?!)

You would think just sitting down, typing, would be relaxing, but it can be mentally exhausting. So I usually have a cup of tea and a few snacks available… I even have a little thermos flask, to keep my drink hot. When I’m on a roll with my writing, I often forget to eat. If I lived alone, I would probably starve. Fortunately I’m well looked after, sharing a house with three people who love to cook.


Although I’m not normally a tidy person, I keep my desk clear of anything that is not essential to my current work. Everything else is packed away out of sight. Appropriately enough, the computer on which I wrote my debut, Cut Short, died soon after the book was finished. Since then I’ve gone through another PC and have finally abandoned desktops in favour of tablets. I now have an ipad at home and an ipad mini which goes everywhere with me. I never leave the house without it, just as I always used to keep a paper notepad and pen in my bag. You never know when you might have a few minutes free to write. When I work away from my desk, whatever I type on my ipad mini magically appears on the mother ship at home (my full size ipad). It saves having to worry about losing memory sticks…

Since I moved from PCs to iPads, my writing pattern has changed, because I can now write anywhere. The epilogue to Race to Death, which is available to download in May, was written in a cafe on a Greek hillside, overlooking the ocean. In fact, I could be sitting in a cafe right now, writing this post…

The truth is that it doesn’t matter where I am, because the real writing space exists inside my head.



Author Biography

Leigh Russell studied at the University of Kent, gaining a Masters degree in English. For many years a secondary school English teacher, she is a creative writing tutor for adults. She is married, has two daughters, and lives in North West London. Her first novel, Cut Short, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger Award in 2010. This was followed by Road Closed, Dead End, Death Bed, Stop Dead and Fatal Act, in the Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel series. Cold Sacrifice is the first title in a spin off series featuring Geraldine Steel’s sergeant, Ian Peterson.


Below are some useful author links:-

For information about Leigh Russell and her books, click on this link – noexit.co.uk/leighrussell

Leigh Russell’s website can be found here – leighrussell.co.uk

Facebook Page – facebook.com/pages/Geraldine-Steel-British-detective/713349595357054

Twitter – @LeighRussell



Stop Dead by Leigh Russell has been nominated for The People’s Book Prize.

If you have read this book do please take a couple of moments to visit http://www.peoplesbookprize.com/book.php?id=1070 and cast your vote in support.


The tour continues tomorrow at the From First Page to Last blog - fromfirstpagetolast.wordpress.com.

Interview with Vivienne Tuffnell + Competition


Vivienne Tuffnell kindly agreed to an interview for my blog.  Vivienne has written several books.


When did you first start writing?

I began creating stories before I could read or write. My father had a typewriter that I was sometimes allowed to use and I used to bash out strings of letters on that. I somehow believed that the story in my head would appear on the paper. I was about three or four years of age, and one of life’s optimists.

I wrote my first novel when I was ten. I burned it about three years later because my brother gave me such a hard time over it, telling me it was rubbish. I’d begun another one by then which I do still have somewhere, buried deep in a packing crate in the loft.


Where do you get your ideas from?

That’s the question most writers dread because there’s no simple easy answer. Story ideas can pop up from almost anywhere, from a conversation overheard in a station to a musical phrase without words that sets off a feeling. Many of mine come through a process of letting impressions and thoughts sink in, and then I incubate them using active dreaming. I write down vivid scenes from dreams, and some of those start to grow into new concepts, characters and even plots for novels. I also draw a lot of inspiration from poetry.


Can we expect more books from you soon?

I’m in the final stages of getting a new book ready to publish. It’s called Square Peg, and I’m waiting on final edits before the proofreader gets her hands on it. I’m also waiting on news about a cover. The hope is to have it on the market for Easter but as I have a major operation between now and then, I’m not convinced I’ll manage it all. Here’s the blurb so far:

“Chloe is a square peg in an increasingly uncomfortable round hole. Brought up by her wildly unconventional grandmother, she’s a true free spirit and has never learned to pull her punches. She’s just married trainee Church of England clergyman Clifford, and is living at the theological college and trying to figure out what’s going on around her. She’s had very little connection with formal religion, and has a talent for stepping on all sorts of emotional land-mines with the wives of the other ordinands. That would probably be fine if it wasn’t for the fact that her grandmother has inconsiderately died, and left her a house full of exotic souvenirs of her days as a travelling doctor, instructions to track down her father and sister, and what everyone else regards as a really bad attitude. She’s also lost her job, her temper, but not the will to live.

Chloe’s life begins to unravel in ways she could never have imagined as she tries to understand her own background by setting out to find out what became of her sister and father. But trying to integrate her uncompromising approach to life brings her into escalating conflict with the other women of the college, leaving her isolated and friendless. In Clifford’s final year of training, Chloe meets the arty, anarchic Isobel and together they concoct a plan whereby the irrepressible Isobel becomes the mole amid the college wives and they start to undermine and sabotage the status quo with a series of practical jokes and psychological warfare that has terrible consequences for Chloe when things go horribly wrong.”


Have you got any advice for people wishing to write their first novel?

Yes, start about twenty years ago! Seriously, most strong story-lines have been brewing in the unconscious for many years.

I’d also say to read more than you write, in every genre, including ones you don’t like. When you come to write, though, just write. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Get a draft down on paper, shove it in a drawer and forget about it for a good six months, preferably longer. Then you can take a long cold look at it and begin to work with it. Don’t slam it up onto Amazon three days after writing The End. Let it settle first, and then work with what you have. The more expertise you develop, the more likely it is you’ll be able to produce a decent enough first draft that doesn’t need a total rewrite. The figure often quoted is a million words and I suspect that’s not far off. The more you’ve absorbed unconsciously from reading books by respected authors, the more readily your own unconscious learns to shape your work. If a million words sounds daunting, remember a reasonable length of novel is perhaps one hundred thousand words. That means around ten novels is a fair apprenticeship. The ones you write before then will often be reworked much later; it’s probably only your execution of the ideas that’s been at fault, not the ideas themselves. Don’t expect perfection of yourself; that way lies madness. Also, don’t model yourself on a favourite author. Fan fiction is all very well but it’s self-defeating if you want to achieve something truly your own.


Describe a day in your life

I lead a very dull life at present. Most of the excitement and interest goes on in my head.


Who are your favourite authors and have any of them influenced your work?

I did a degree in English and Latin so I have a lot of authors I’ve loved. I’m not sure if any one in particular has influenced me that much; it’s more a general thing. When I graduated, I’d told the careers’ advisor that I wanted to be a writer and she laughed at me. It was several years after I graduated that I read again for pleasure and it was the same for writing. I couldn’t write because my soul was still in such awe of the superb authors I’d spent three years studying. It seemed the height of hubris to start writing after that.


What do you like doing in your spare time?

Watching the fish in my pond. I’ve had some serious health issues so what I like doing and what I’m able to do are rather different things. I used to love long walks in the countryside away from the hurly-burly. I love museums and art galleries and I do enjoy drawing and painting too.


If you had to stay on a desert island and were only allowed to take one book, which would it be?

It’d be a nice big plain journal so I could write down my account of life on the island. Preferably a leather-bound one; I have a thing about lovely leather covered journals.

If I had to say an actual book, it’d be the S.A.S Survival Guide. I have the pocket version of it. I don’t think I’d need anything fictional; I’d stay sane by telling myself stories.


For more information about Vivienne, visit her blog – http://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com

Vivienne’s Amazon pages:-

UK –  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Vivienne-Tuffnell/e/B00766135C/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

USA – http://www.amazon.com/Vivienne-Tuffnell/e/B00766135C/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Facebook fan page – https://www.facebook.com/VivienneTuffnellAuthor

Twitter – @guineapig66


3 lucky people have the chance to win a paperback copy of Vivienne Tuffnell’s latest book ‘The Moth’s Kiss’, which is a collection of ten short spooky and creepy stories.

To enter just leave a comment telling me why you love reading.


Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 13th April 2014.

Winners will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to Vivienne Tuffnell who will send out the prizes.


Good luck! :-)

Blog Tour – ‘Keep Your Friends Close’ by Paula Daly + Competition


Last year I reviewed Paula Daly’s debut novel, ‘Just What Kind of Mother Are You?’  You can read what I thought about it here:-


Since then I have been waiting patiently for Paula’s next book to come out and was thrilled when I found out it was being released soon.  As part of this blog tour I was asked to review ‘Keep Your Friends Close’.


‘Keep Your Friends Close’ was published by Bantam Press on the 13th March 2014.  I was sent an advance reading copy from Alison Barrow at Transworld Publishers.

Natty and Sean Wainwright have a good marriage, two lovely teenage daughters and a successful business running a hotel in Windermere.  Everyday life might be that little bit mundane at times but in general things are okay.

Felicity, the youngest of the two daughters has gone on a school trip to France.  Natty’s oldest friend, Eve who has been living in America for the past few years decides to come and visit.  Whilst they are sitting together catching up on things Natty receives a telephone call.  Felicity has been taken seriously ill and is in hospital.  Natty travels to France alone safe in the knowledge that Eve is there to help Sean out.

When Natty returns home with Felicity two weeks later she doesn’t expect the welcome back she receives.  Sean informs her that he has fallen in love with Eve and that their marriage is over.  Natty is naturally left feeling devastated and angry but she knows she has to put on a brave face for the children.

This novel asks a very important question: What would you do if your best friend stole your life?  I don’t think it’s one many of us would be able to answer somehow.  It’s just unthinkable!

From start to finish I found ‘Keep Your Friends Close’ very hard to put down.  It was just so gripping.  There were lots of twists and turns, plus some real shockers.  Paula Daly has proved once again that she can write a great psychological thriller.  She really does have a knack of getting right into her characters minds.

Beautifully written with lovely descriptions of the Lake District, for me ‘Keep Your Friends Close’ is another winner.

I give this book 5 out of 5.


I am giving away 2 copies of ‘Keep Your Friends Close’.  To enter leave a comment telling me why you want to win this book.

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 6th April 2014.

Winners will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to the publisher who will send out the prizes.

Good luck! :-)


Visit www.claremackintosh.com tomorrow for the next part of this blog tour.


Interview with H E Joyce

H E Joyce

H E Joyce is the bestselling author of ‘The Deadliest Game’ and ‘Miranda’s Fortune’.  He has had a passion for writing from an early age.  It has taken many years to finally pursue his dream of becoming a writer and publishing his work.  He was a firefighter for eighteen years, and also worked as a newspaper photographer and as a freelance artist; he still dabbles from time to time.  I was given the opportunity to interview him.

When did you first start writing?

I started writing seriously in 2010.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently fleshing out a sequel to The Deadliest Game.

Where do you get your ideas from?

Sometimes from small news items. More often than not though, I have no idea where they come from, they just come.

Can you describe a day in your life?

Most days are filled with writing. I start at around nine in the morning and work through until dinner in the evening. I try to relax in the evening, but my notepad is always nearby.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to write?

I would say, go for it. That is if it’s because you really want to write and not in the hope of getting rich.

Which types of books do you most enjoy reading?

My taste is varied, but mainly I enjoy reading the kind of books I write myself, thrillers.

As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

Apart from an astronaut? I always wanted to do something in the arts. I have always been a keen painter and I loved writing stories. However, my career took a different path for many years.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Relaxing in old traditional pubs and travel.


Below are some useful links:-

To find out more about H E Joyce visit his website - www.hejoyce.co.uk 

For details of all of H E Joyce’s books visit his Amazon page – http://viewauthor.at/HEJoyce

Follow H E Joyce on Twitter – @HEJoyce1

‘Volunteer’ by Gary McElkerney

VolunteerWrite Path NI Limited were looking for people to review ‘Volunteer’.  They are holding a fundraising night on the 15th March 2014 during which they will also be celebrating the publication of this novel.

Born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Gary McElkerney has done voluntary first aid work in Nicaragua, Hungary and Ethiopia.  The experiences Gary had gave him the idea for this book.

It is summer and Chris Johnston, a 22 year old university student from Belfast, has signed up to lead a team of young volunteers travelling to Ethiopia where they are to help build houses for charity.  Whilst there, Chris has an argument with the leaders.  He doesn’t feel appreciated and when a seemingly better opportunity comes up he abandons the team and travels north to work for Medical Aid Africa in a clinic.  He then agrees to join their make-shift ambulance crew in a bid to find the excitement and adventure he’s been searching for on the frontline.  However, he finds that life is very different off the beaten track.

Consumed by fear, Chris is terrified especially when he experiences the true horrors of war.  His dreams of heroism and adventure turn into a nightmare and he feels as if he has failed.  Chris returns home with the mental scars of war which will take some time to heal.

When I first started reading this novel I didn’t know if I would really enjoy it, but I was soon hooked.  Although ‘Volunteer’ has been written as fiction, it is actually based on what Gary went through and you would be forgiven for mistaking this as a non-fiction book.  The writing throughout was so good and the descriptions were excellent.

‘Volunteer’ tells it how it really is.  Though there is some humour, this is a heartbreaking story which will shock you.  It paints a good picture of what life is really like in Ethiopia and the terror innocent people have to go through.  Even children get caught in the crossfire, something which really shouldn’t be happening in this day and age.  A powerful read, ‘Volunteer’ is a stark reminder of how fortunate we really are.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

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