A Lover of Books

‘Someone Is Watching’ by Joy Fielding

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‘Someone Is Watching’ is out today in paperback and as an eBook, published by Zaffre Publishing. I was very kindly sent a copy to review.

Bailey Carpenter is young, confident and a very savvy private investigator. Or at least she was. A violent attack leaves her living in fear and crippled with paranoia. Bailey is a prisoner in her own home, totally unable to leave her Miami high-rise apartment.

Everywhere Bailey looks she sees her attacker, including in the apartment directly opposite her where she is sure someone is watching. Is her mind playing tricks on her or is something more sinister at play?

I have never read a book by Joy Fielding before. I hadn’t even heard of her! One of the joys of blogging and reviewing is that you get to discover loads of new authors including ones who have written lots of books. I thought ‘Someone Is Watching’ to be a gripping and exciting read. I liked the writing style and I think the author has portrayed what Bailey Carpenter went through after being raped really well. There was much more to this story than I thought there would be which I was pleased about as at first I feared that it would drag on a bit. I have to say I was really quite surprised and shocked by the ending.

I liked Bailey and hoped that she would be able to get on with life eventually. She naturally wanted to find her attacker and took some risks which could have landed her in a lot of trouble. Though I understood why she did what she did, I could have given her a good shake at times. I took an instant liking to her niece, Jade. She was wise beyond her years and was really good for Bailey.

‘Someone Is Watching’ is a psychological thriller which will keep you in suspense.  It will have you turning the pages.

Will I read any more books by Joy Fielding? I certainly hope to.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

‘Someone Is Watching’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Someone-Watching-Joy-Fielding/dp/1785762532/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1480545491&sr=1-1

 

Guest Post by Louise Voss

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I’m delighted to welcome Louise Voss to my blog today.  Louise has written a very interesting guest post which I’m sure you’ll enjoy as much as I did.

 

The Seven Deadly Sins of a Writer

Although a writer’s life can be wonderful, most of us experience a whole raft of emotional side-effects to this perilous way of earning a crust. I suspect we all have a pretty full house of the Seven Deadly Sins bubbling away under the surface. But put a different slant to them, and you can, I reckon, turn each one into something positive… I hope this doesn’t sound too Pollyanna-ish – what do you think?

SLOTH – Whenever I say I’ve finished another book, people often respond with admiration and comments like, ‘wow, you’re so prolific!’ I confess that, without fail, this makes me feel like a fraud. Yes, I have written six novels and co-authored six more – but this is over a period of seventeen years. Compared to many of my crime-writing peers, my output is meagre, verging on embarrassingly so. I mean, some people routinely write two novels a year! But it’s all relative, and we all work at different paces, so I remind myself that it takes as long as it takes.

PRIDE – those rare but wonderful occasions when you get a great review, a sniff of film interest, or perhaps hit the higher echelons of the Amazon charts. My feeling is that pride, if kept in check, is actually the reward for all the other disappointments that a writer’s life inevitably brings – but obviously no-one likes a braggard. So if you do find you have something to boast about, best be aware of the fine line between self-promotion and arrogance…

ENVY – that’s a very obvious one, one which I challenge any living writer not to have experienced at some point or another. One of the things I most love about the writing community is how supportive we all are of each other, and we are all genuinely delighted when one of our number gets a fabulous new book deal or a No.1 chart position. It doesn’t mean we don’t secretly feel envy too on occasion. But it’s completely natural, and I reckon envy can be a good incentive to work a bit harder. A bit of healthy competition never hurt anyone.

GREED – the constant ‘could do better’ness about the business – have I got into the top 500? Great, but I need to be in the Top 100! Top 100? Not good enough. Need to be in the Top 20….Top 10…how great would it be to get into the Top 5?…etc. etc. But again, is this greed or ambition?

GLUTTONY – yup. And many of us have a writer’s bottom to show for it. Come on, give me a break, it can be pretty tedious sitting at the kitchen table on a laptop all day long, with the fridge just yards away, calling to us. And yet, I know that I reward myself when I’ve worked hard, with a few chocs or a decent bottle of wine. That’s not gluttony, is it? My mum’s voice comes to me: ‘Everything, but in moderation…’

LUST… well, that’s one of the least of them, unless you bracket it with envy when lusting after someone else’s advance, book jacket, sales figures, TV appearances, killer twists, and so on.

WRATH is an interesting one. We’ve all read about these spats between authors, or authors and their publishers, or – often – authors and people who leave them horrible reviews. I guess that mostly comes down to personality though.

It’s all about the perspective, really, isn’t it, like most things in life.

Which would be the worst of your seven deadly sins?

 

About Louise Voss

Louise Voss is a no.1 best-selling author with twelve novels under her belt, encompassing both contemporary and crime fiction.   Six of the latter are co-written thrillers with Mark Edwards, the most recent being two DI Lennon titles, From The Cradle and The Blissfully Dead.   She has just completed her latest solo psychological suspense novel, The Old You , which will be out in 2017.

 

Links

Books on today’s Kindle Daily Deal:-

To Be Someone – http://amzn.to/2gBGH8aQ 

Games People Play – http://amzn.to/2fxGITm

Social Media:-

Twitter – @LouiseVoss1

 

Cover Reveal – ‘The Escape’ by C.L. Taylor

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I am thrilled to be taking part in the cover reveal for C.L. Taylor’s fourth novel, ‘The Escape’, which is being published both as an eBook and in paperback by Avon on the 23rd March 2017.  Don’t you just love this cover?  It’s shouting out “Read Me!”  Here’s what the book is all about.

 

Book Blurb

The Sunday Times bestseller and No.1 Kindle bestseller returns…

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

 

‘The Escape’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Escape-C-L-Taylor/dp/0008118078/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1480360077&sr=1-1

 

Blog Tour – ‘Frozen Minds’ by Cheryl Rees-Price

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I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour celebrating Cheryl Rees-Price’s new book, ‘Frozen Minds’, the second in the Winter Meadows series.  It was published on the 14th October 2016 both as an eBook and in paperback by Accent Press.   Cheryl has written a guest post for my blog which I hope you enjoy reading.  First though, here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

When a man is found murdered at Bethesda House, a home for adults with learning difficulties, local people start to accuse the home’s residents of being behind the killing. The victim was a manager at the home, and seemingly a respectable and well-liked family man. DI Winter Meadows knows there’s more to the case than meets the eye. As he and his team investigate, Meadows discovers a culture of fear at the home – and some unscrupulous dealings going on between the staff. Does the answer to the case lie in the relationships between the staff and the residents – or is there something even more sinister afoot?

 

Guest Post

THE DETECTIVE

There are so many good detective series books available now that it is a challenge to create a new character. One that is appealing and not the stereo typical drunk troubled detective. There is no magic formula to creating the perfect character (I wish there was). When I started writing The Winter Meadows series I wanted to create a different sort of detective while also making him memorable and appealing. To research I looked at some of my favourite detectives and tried to analyse their characteristics. See if they would make suitable dinner guests, and look for similarities to find out what makes them interesting, and so appealing that the reader starts hunting down the next book. The following is just a sample from my list.

D Wingfield’s Inspector Frost is one of my favourite detectives. I’ve read all nine books, more than once and thoroughly enjoyed the television adaptation where Sir David Jason superbly portrays Frost. Jack Frost is disordered, shabby, and hopeless at paperwork. A widower with a wicked sense of humour, sometimes crude, especially in the books. Yet he is perceptive, sometimes sensitive, and excels at crime solving. Jack Frost is modest and treats everyone, rich or homeless, equally. He’s certainly no action man yet will put himself in danger to catch his quarry. There is something endearing about Frost, he is a character you could have around for dinner and know you would have an entertaining evening.

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Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse is another well-loved character. Featured in 13 novels and played by the late John Thaw in the television series. Morse is snobbish, bad-tempered and has a dislike of grammatical errors. He has a love of classic cars, opera music, real ale, and cryptic crossword puzzles. He can be sensitive, hard-working and is highly intelligent and logical.

Morse’s interesting first name, Endeavour, was not revealed until later in the series and was chosen by his Quaker mother and his father, an admirer of Captain James Cook. Information of Morse’s past is cleverly drip fed throughout the series. Again Morse is not a young fit action hero but uses intellect to fight crime.

A memorable character and despite his haughty exterior Morse is well loved and admired. I imagine he would make a difficult dinner guest, quite possibly unintentionally making the other guests feel inferior.

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The list wouldn’t be complete without Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot. The unforgettable Belgian detective is the star of 33 novels and is admirably portrayed by David Suchet among others in the television series. Poirot is known for his impeccable dress code, stiff moustache and walking stick. He could almost be described as having O.C.D with his fussiness over food, and ordered life.

One of Poirot’s most famous phases is “The little grey cells,” and it is doubtless that he has more than his fair share. Highly intelligent and methodical, he uses logical clue based detection to catch the guilty party. Poirot appears to be a solitary figure with few friends and no love interest. He is not known for being emotional. He would make an unassuming, but interesting dinner guest.

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These above detectives are all very different characters yet do have some similarities. Unusual names which makes them instantly memorable. Each has a particular dress code with Poirot and Frost being at opposite ends. All are intellectually gifted and don’t always stick to the rules. More importantly they are all betrayed with imperfections and traits that could make them difficult companions, yet are among the best loved and most memorable characters.

When naming my character I wanted to give him a name that would suit his personality and background. ‘Winter Meadows’ seemed appropriate. Born to hippy parents and raised in a commune, he is intelligent, modest, and compassionate. He likes to see the best in people which is sometimes his downfall. He has difficulty fitting in with the team and is oblivious to the attention he draws from the opposite sex. I hope that readers will grow to love him despite his flaws.

 

About Cheryl Rees-Price

Cheryl Rees-Price was born in Cardiff and moved as a Young child to a small ex-mining village on the edge of the Black Mountains, South Wales, where she still lives with her husband, daughters and two cats.  After leaving school she worked as a legal clerk for several years before leaving to raise her two daughters.

Cheryl returned to education, studying philosophy, sociology and accountancy whilst working as a part time book keeper. She now works as a finance director for a company that delivers project management and accounting services.

In her spare time Cheryl indulges in her passion for writing, the success of writing plays for local performances gave her the confidence to write her first novel. Her other hobbies include walking, and gardening which free her mind to develop plots and create colourful characters.

 

Links

Frozen Minds Amazon

Website

Facebook

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime’ by Lynsey James

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‘The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime’ was published on the 10th November 2016 by HQ Digital UK. Having previously read one of Lynsey James’ books I was delighted to get involved in this blog tour. Read on for my review.

The story is set in Luna Bay, a small village in Yorkshire. It’s getting close to Christmas and the annual pantomime is about to be the talk of the town. It could really do with some help. Unfortunate then that Alice Woods who used to be on Broadway isn’t feeling Christmassy.

When the pantomime comes under threat Alice is forced to push her personal pain aside and step in. With some help from her recently new found friends and a very gorgeous Hollywood A-list celebrity the play starts to come together. Will the pantomime be a success and will Alice finally start believing that Christmas can be a time for miracles?

I really enjoyed reading ‘The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime’. I thought it to be such a delightful, relaxing and fun story. I like the way Lynsey James writes and makes her characters come to life. It didn’t take long to meet them all and I soon felt as if I had known them for a while.

Luna Bay was definitely a magical village and one I would have liked to visit. Most of the people there seemed to be really warm and loving. The Moonlight Café sounded amazing and the cakes to die for.

Alice had been grieving for quite a while and she really needed something to get her out of herself and to help her to move on. Luckily she had some very supportive friends, plus Ethan coming into her life was a godsend. The change in Alice was absolutely astounding and she did an amazing job with the pantomime.

I think readers will get a lot out of this story. It’s sure to leave you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

About Lynsey James

Lynsey James was born in Fife in 1991 and has been telling people how to spell her name ever since. She’s an incurable bookworm who loves nothing more than getting lost in a good story with memorable characters. She started writing when she was really young and credits her lovely Grandad- and possibly a bump on the head from a Mr Frosty machine- with her love of telling stories. She used to write her own episodes of Friends and act them out in front of her family (in fact she’s sure she put Ross and Rachel together first!)

A careers adviser at school once told Lynsey writing wasn’t a “good option” and for a few years, she believed her. She tried a little bit of everything, including make-up artistry, teaching and doing admin for a chocolate fountain company. The free chocolate was brilliant. When Lynsey left my job a couple of years ago, she started writing full-time while she looked for another one. As soon as she started working on her story, Lynsey fell in love and decided to finally pursue her dream. She haven’t looked back since.

When Lynsey’s not writing, eating cake or drinking tea, she’s daydreaming about the day Dylan O’Brien FINALLY realises they’re meant to be together. It’ll happen one day…

 

Links

Amazon: –

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Silver-Bells-Christmas-Pantomime-Luna-ebook/dp/B01D4WRFCG/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1474730052&sr=8-5&keywords=lynsey+james

Goodreads:-

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30376050-the-silver-bells-christmas-pantomime

 

Blog Tour – ‘A Brush With Death’ by Malcolm Parnell

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‘A Brush With Death’ was published as an eBook on the 9th July 2016 by 3P Publishing.  All week a number of bloggers have been taking part in a blog tour for this book and today it is my turn.  I have an extract to give you all a little taster, but first let’s get to know Malcolm Parnell.

 

What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you?

The Island of Adventure – Enid Blyton

Who is your favourite literary character?

Matthew Shardlake Created by CJ Sansom

Which book have you always meant to get around to reading, but still not read?

1984

If you could only take one book with you on a desert island, which would it be?

The False Inspector Dew – Peter Lovesey

What are you currently reading?

The Various Haunts of Men – Susan Hill

Who would be at your dream dinner party (alive, dead or fictional)?

Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Agatha Christie

What’s the best advice you have ever received?

Anyone who ever accomplished anything, did not know how they were going to do it. They only knew they were going to do it. Bob Proctor

What’s the worst advice you have ever received?

Know your place, expect nothing else. My Mother

Who is your hero or heroine (real or fictional)?

Bob Proctor. Motivational speaker

Where are you happiest?

In a restaurant surrounded by family and friends.

Who would you like to star in the film of your life?

Bill Nighy

Describe your best ever holiday.

Mediterranean cruise

If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do? (easy, tiger!)

Behind the scenes at a TV or film production

If I joined you on your perfect day, what would we be doing?

Sitting in a street café in the south of France eating scones and fresh cream

What do you think is the best thing about social media?

People sharing good ideas and offering support.

And the worst…?!

People sharing drivel

What is the most important item you require for a quiet night in?

A good book

Is it best to always tell the truth or is it sometimes better to tell a little white lie?

Sometimes tell a little white lie

What’s your signature dish?

A Sunday roast

Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook, why?

No idea

Which book character do you wish you had written?

Matthew Shardlake

Why did you write a book?

To fulfil an ambition and to entertain

Why did you choose your genre?

I love mysteries and I love humour so I tried to combine the two

If you had to write in a different genre, which would you choose?

Children’s adventure

What’s the worst thing about writing a book?

Staring at a blank page

What’s the best thing about writing a book?

Seeing the finished published product

If you could be anyone for the day, who would you be?

Me with a million pounds

~~~~~

Extract

PROLOGUE

25 years ago

The boy pulled back the curtains and peered through his bedroom window. The view was to most eyes nothing spectacular, but for him it was magical. Straight ahead he could see across open farmland. Over to his left, separated from the farm by a meandering brook lay an area of marsh land. Mundane and of no practical value to some, to him it was a very special place, a place where all things were possible, a place where you might encounter lizards, snakes and all manner of creeping things. Rats and voles lived there and further on where the earth sloped upwards onto drier ground, foxes, rabbits and who knows what else roamed free. The boy watched his world unfold as light from the sun transformed the grass from a colourless mass to every shade of green. Each blade dancing as the lightest of breezes touched the tips bringing movement like the rolling sea.

Inside, the house was quiet. The only other occupant was his father and he had yet to awake, still clinging to the last vestiges of sleep. His day had not yet begun, but when it did the boy doubted it would involve snakes and lizards.

…………………………….

Water droplets fell like diamonds shimmering in the morning sun as the small net swung round in an arc and then hovered expectantly over the waiting glass jar. Peering into the net, the boy held his breath as he examined his prize. Scooped from its watery lair the great crested newt clambered up the sides of the net before falling back exposing its fiery belly. With a shout of triumph the boy plucked the newt from the net and dropped it into the jar. Holding it up to his face both boy and newt scrutinized each other, the captor and the captured caught in a moment of time, both bathed in the glow of the rising sun, one relishing it, the other, desperate to hide.

The stream gleamed and sparkled, bent and fragmented by stones and tree roots, it seemed to go forever twisting like a coil of rope through the meadows.  Where he was standing was the widest point and the water was calmer here among the shallows, providing the perfect home for frogs and fish. The reed fringed banks giving way to a vast bed of water lilies that constantly nudged and swayed against his wellington boots. Further on, the banks grew more steeply and behind the blackthorn bush the lichen covered bricks of the old bridge could just be seen. How long the bridge had spanned the stream no-one knew. Neither could anyone fathom the reason for it being there. No road ran across it and either side was overgrown with wild blackthorn and holly. Those of a fanciful nature suggested it was a bridge to another world, but there seemed nothing other worldly about its overgrown walls and wild flower covered floor, although it is true that if one wandered into the darkness beneath the arch a gap in the bricks could be found. The boy had once explored this further, but after negotiating the almost un-penetrable array of spikey leaves and thorns, he eventually came disappointedly into the open air of the meadow which could have been accessed by the easier route of skirting the bridge further downstream.

The boy gave the newt one final look and lowered the jar into the water. He watched as the newt eager to be free, swam down into the depths and disappeared amongst the vegetation.

A sudden splash caught his attention and without turning his head he said, “You came then?”

From behind, a cheerful voice said, “’Course. I said I would, didn’t I?”

“I thought you were going to be dragged off shopping.”

“Nah, made a bit of a fuss. Mum chucked me out. So, Peter me lad, it’s you and me.”

The boy turned to greet his friend. John lived a few doors down from him and they had grown up together.  People in the street saw it as a strange alliance as the boys were like chalk and cheese, both physically and in temperament. His friend was short and dark with a mercurial nature, subject to whims and flights of fancy. His attention span was short and he got bored easily which often led him into trouble as his need for thrills caused conflict with the elders. Peter, on the other hand was tall and willowy, prone to deep thought and consideration. He was a shy boy and considered by some to be easily led, but he had a sharp mind and inquisitive nature.

“Not caught anything then?” his friend asked surveying the now empty jam jar.

“I had a crested, just let it go.”

“Have you had a go for Billy?”

“No not yet.”

Billy was a fish, a bullhead, commonly known as a millers thumb. He inhabited a half-submerged rusty oil drum that lay on its side further downstream, here the brook flowed through a small coppice. As bullheads go he was big, at least the size of the boy’s hand and though often seen, was elusive, as the water was deeper there and once the bottom was disturbed, clouds of silt would obscure the view.

“Still, there’s plenty of time.”

The boys grinned. Today was the first day of the school holidays and the immediate future held six glorious weeks of climbing trees, hunting, fishing and exploring. New worlds would be discovered and the prospect was mouth-watering.

The next few hours were spent engrossed in the world of water. Taking turns, they pushed and prodded the fishing net through lily beds and rushes. Many fish were caught, including – to both boys delight – a small jack pike weighing around 1lb. By the middle of the afternoon they had wandered about half a mile upstream and had come to the spot where the blackthorn embraced the old bridge. Climbing out of the water, the boys scrambled through the thick thorns and holly roots before emerging, scratched and torn under the dark recesses of the bridge. Sitting on the moss covered stones they each produced packs of sandwiches and bottled water from their jacket pockets.

“This bridge is creepy.” His friend muttered, chewing on ham and tomato.

“Yeah it’s brill.” Peter answered also chewing on his lunch.

“It’s supposed to be haunted. Tommy Greenway says that a long time ago some kids disappeared from somewhere around here.”

Peter shrugged. He too had heard the story, but was unimpressed.

“Tommy Greenway’s a girlie. He’s scared of his own shadow.”

“Yeah, but, you’ve gotta admit it’s a funny place.  For one thing there’s no sound. I don’t like it, I’m going back.”

“What? Why?

“Don’t like it.” John got up to leave and turned his head. “You comin’?”

“No, not yet, I’ll catch you up.” Peter answered and watched his friend back track through the water until he reached the part where the brambles gave way to clear meadow. Soon John was out of sight.

Peter stopped chewing and tilted his head. It was true, it was quiet, the silence only punctuated by the occasional bickering of squabbling coots further upstream. But then, a sound could be heard, difficult to make out at first, a sort of scraping noise. The sound a knife makes when being honed to a sharp point across a sharpening stone. Peter quickly looked around, his eyes wide trying to penetrate the gloom. Then, terror struck as a shadow emerged from the walls of the bridge and moved towards him.

 

‘A Brush With Death’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brush-Death-Malcolm-Parnell-ebook/dp/B01I88X0YI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478029262&sr=8-1&keywords=a+brush+with+death

Cover Reveal – ‘Britain’s Wartime Evacuees’ by Gillian Mawson

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I am delighted to be revealing the cover of Gillian Mawson’s new book, which is out on the 30th November published by Frontline Books.  Isn’t it wonderful?

Gillian’s book contains the testimony of children, mothers and teachers who were evacuated during the Second World War in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are also stories from those who sought safety on the UK mainland from Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney and Gibraltar. Chapters focus on the difficult decisions made by parents to send their children away, the journeys by train and ship, adjustment to life in a new area and the kindness shown to evacuees by British communities.

The darker side of evacuation is also revealed – some households refused to care for evacuees, others were cruel to the children and some died. Evacuees were killed within days of arriving in supposedly ‘safe’ areas. They drowned, perished in air raids or were killed by military vehicles driving too quickly around narrow streets. An MP in the House of Commons voiced his fears that, if these incidents were revealed to the public, mothers might demand that their children be sent back home!

The book also reveals emotional letters written between evacuees, their parents and their wartime ‘foster parents’ which are still treasured today. Evacuees describe going home in 1945 after five years of separation from their parents. Some did not want to leave the ‘foster parents’ they had come to love – to them, this was ‘evacuation’ all over again and very traumatic. Many stayed in touch with their beloved foster parents for the rest of their lives.

‘Britain’s Wartime Evacuees: The People, Places and Stories of the Evacuations Told Through the Accounts of Those Who Were Thereis published on 30 November 2016 and can be pre ordered here: http://amzn.to/2cp8Wug

 

About Gillian Mawson

Gillian Mawson is a freelance historian with a huge interest in oral history. She has been interviewing evacuees since 2008 and this is her third book. She runs a community group for Guernsey evacuees who decided to remain in Manchester when the war ended. She lives in Derbyshire and her wartime blog can be found at: https://evacueesofworldwartwo.wordpress.com/

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange’ by James Calum Campbell

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‘The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange’ was published on the 1st November by Impress Books.  I took part in the cover reveal for this book and as I liked the sound of it I was sent a copy to review.

Dr Alastair Cameron-Strange hasn’t had an easy time of it.  After a recent bereavement he decides to go to the other side of the world and is only just rediscovering his life when the British Authorities track him down.  After much persuasion, they manage to recruit him on a mission which will see Cameron-Strange travel to the furthest reaches of New Zealand, to Xanadu where Phineas Fox, the American business tycoon is.  Mr Fox seems to be involved in just about every venture going and he also has his eye on the White House.  There’s something really quite dodgy about him and Cameron-Strange with a bit of help is determined to find out exactly what it is.

Dr Cameron-Strange doesn’t know it yet but he is facing seven different ordeals and some of them are going to be very tough.  Will he survive them?

I found this to be a very enjoyable and well written book.  I really liked how the story opened and I found the medical terms throughout the story interesting.  ‘The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange’ was fast-paced and at times very exciting, especially towards the end.

I liked Cameron-Strange and thought it unusual for the main character to be a doctor getting involved in rescue missions and tasks.  He was a hero in his own way.  Phineas Fox really was a nasty piece of work even though he did appear quite charming at times.  He was rich beyond belief and had a number of house staff.  I loved the names of the staff and thought a couple of them were really funny.  Phineas wanted to run for presidency at the White House.  Imagine what a nightmare that would have been.

A good read, though I couldn’t help thinking that a glossary would have been useful as I did find myself having to look up some of the words.  It would also have been great if there had been a map of the volcanoes in Auckland rather than trying to picture them all in my mind.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

‘The Seven Trials of Cameron-Strange’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Seven-Trials-Cameron-Strange-Cameronstrange-Book/dp/1907605835/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1478460652&sr=1-1

Blog Tour – ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ by Julia Williams

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Fans of Julia Williams will be thrilled to know that she has a brand new book out.  ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was published as an eBook and in paperback on the 3rd November by Avon.  I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour for which Julia has written a guest post.  First though, here’s what the book is about.

 

Book Blurb

Christmas with the family. Cosy, relaxing…and a total nightmare?

Driving home for Christmas, Beth has everything she wants. The kids and the house, the career and the husband. So why is it that when the New Year comes, she can’t stop thinking about her old college boyfriend?

Her husband Daniel is tasked with bringing a struggling school up to scratch, but when family life catches up to him, can he be a good father and a good teacher at the same time?

Beth’s sister Lou has just been dumped…again. Single and childless, she can’t help but be jealous of her sibling’s success. But is the grass really always greener?

It’s a Wonderful Life is a heart-warming novel about the lives that could have been, and what happens when you start to question the choices you made…

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Getting in the festive mood

Let’s get one thing straight: I am not one of those people who starts posting the number of sleeps till Christmas in August. Call me old fashioned, but I can’t think about Winter until…well, Winter. I love the Autumn, with its falling leaves, and golden colours, and I’m just not prepared to think about Christmas till Autumn is done.

Having said that, there are lots of things that get me in the mood for festive season. Firstly, though I hate shopping the rest of the year, I do love Christmas shopping. There is something really satisfying about chasing down the perfect gift for someone you love. And thanks to the internet, these days you can do it without enduring the hurly-burly that is Christmas shopping…

…Having said that, I do like last minute scouring round the shops, when people are mainly cheerful with the thought of the holidays round the corner, and the air is filled with the sound of cheesy Christmas songs. No matter how many times I hear it, Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas time brings a smile to myself.

My second means of starting to feel festive is entertaining. I do really enjoy pre Christmas drinks with friends, complete with mulled wine and mince pies. And since I bought my husband a fire pit last Christmas, we can also get that really cosy feeling of sitting out by the fire and not freezing to death. Perfect!

But really, it’s not till closer to the day that I really start getting in the mood.

Christmas probably starts in our house when we put the decorations up. Usually around the second week of December (which is way too early for me, but I’ve been long overruled on that one!)  When the children were small they put the decs wonkily on the tree, and we sneakily straightened them when they went to bed.  Nowadays we leave them in charge, and with two now at university decorating is not allowed to begin till they’re both home (suits me). They usually spend half the time decorating themselves with tinsel, while listening to a Christmas album, before the tree gets covered in baubles.

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Every year I like to add a new decoration or two if I can so they’re an eclectic mix of: cheesy and naff (cheap and cheerful baubles); cute (things the kids made when they were little ); off the wall (A tooth-shaped  dentist called Dave in honour of my husband); or charming (this year’s addition is a tiny little wooden bell from a German rellie). And once they’re on the tree, I really start to feel ready for the festive onslaught…

… a feeling which increases as we start the food shopping. Back in the day when the children were small, my husband paid scant attention to this, but now he gets very enthusiastic. Some might say overenthusiastic. His children perhaps, when he brings back huge bags of goodies from Sainsbury’s which would probably last us through a nuclear winter. But hey, ho, his heart is in the right place, and one things for sure, we’ll never starve…

And finally my favourite thing of all is decorating the table, and putting presents under the tree. I love wrapping the presents slightly less, but over the years have developed a strategy of wrapping in advance. This does mean long complicated lists and sudden dashes to get extra small things to make sure everyone has the same number of presents under the tree, but it’s worth it to see the fun everyone has trying to work out what Santa’s bought them this year…

It’s still a way off before I am going to get in the mood, but writing this actually has got me started early this year.  So I’m off to light the fire pit, and heat up the mulled wine…  You?

 

‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Its-Wonderful-Life-Christmas-romance/dp/1847563600/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1478290926&sr=1-1

 

‘Dancers in the Wind’ by Anne Coates

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‘Dancers in the Wind’ was published on the 13th October by Urbane Publications.  I was very kindly sent a proof copy to read and review.

This story is set in 1993.  Hannah Weybridge is a freelance journalist and single mother.  Commissioned by a national newspaper to write an article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross, Hannah interviews a prostitute called Princess and a police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan.

When Princess turns up at her house badly beaten up and barely recognisable, Hannah finds herself in a very difficult position and has to decide quickly what to do for the best.  She soon finds herself drawn ever deeper into a world of deceit and violence and knows that she must do her utmost best to expose the truth whilst staying alive.  Will she succeed in her quest?

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Dancers in the Wind’.  I loved the writing style and the element of suspense throughout.  The majority of the chapters were very short but I felt that this just added to the excitement.  I also absolutely loathe being unable to finish a chapter in one sitting or being interrupted halfway through it so the shorter chapters were better in that sense too.

I really liked Hannah Weybridge and thought she was a gutsy lady.  I don’t think she realised just what she was getting herself into in helping Princess and I feared for her and her adorable daughter.  I also liked Tom Jordan but like Hannah wasn’t too sure about him for quite a while.  I felt so sorry for Princess who hadn’t exactly had a great life and for others like her.

Anne Coates has written several non-fiction books and a number of short stories.  ‘Dancers in the Wind’ is actually her first novel but you would never guess it.  Anne writes with such confidence, it’s as if she’s been writing crime fiction for ages.  I also liked the fact that real events are used to base her stories on.

I bought a copy of ‘Dancers in the Wind’ at Anne’s wonderful book launch and it’s one I will certainly treasure.  At the end of the book you can read the first chapter of Anne’s next novel, ‘Death’s Silent Judgement’ which is the sequel to ‘Dancers in the Wind’, due out next Spring  I loved the opening to it and am already intrigued.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

‘Dancers in the Wind’ is available to buy from Urbane Publications:-

http://urbanepublications.com/books/dancers-in-the-wind/

 

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