A Lover of Books

Archive for the month “March, 2019”

Interview with Samantha Priestley ~ @sampriestley

I am thrilled to have Samantha Priestley on my blog today.  Her new book, ‘Rose Villa’ is out in paperback and as an eBook on the 29th March 2019, published by ASJ Publishing.

Samantha has kindly answered some questions for me.  I hope you enjoy reading this interview.

 

Firstly, can you tell me about your new novel.

It’s called Rose Villa and is about a house that was cursed on being built in 1843. I wanted to write a book where the house itself becomes a character along with the people who live in it. In Rose Villa the curse affects everyone who comes into contact with the house and ultimately drives them mad. I also wanted to write about how social media and technology allows us to present a version of ourselves we want others to believe, and that we never really know anyone fully.

How long did it take you to write it?

Gosh, ages! A first draft usually takes me around 3 months, but with this one I went back and re-wrote whole sections of it and shifted quite a lot from my original draft, so the re-writes probably took me closer to 3 years!

 

Can you relate to any of the characters in your book?

Yes, I can probably relate to most of them in one or another. The main female character, Kirsty, is a bit of a passenger in her own life until she’s forced into taking action, but I think a lot of us do go through life allowing things to happen until one day we are faced with something that makes us wake up.

 

You answer the door to find one of your characters standing on the doorstep. What would your first reaction be?

Depends which one it is! I’d probably be quite alarmed, and not only because a character I’d written was on my doorstep! Most of my characters are a bit…unstable, so I’d probably be worried about where this was going and what they might do!

 

What do you hope readers will get from your book?

I suppose I was trying to make a point about our connections to others and how we assume we know someone just because we’ve known them a long time or we spend a lot of time with them, or because we spend time with them online, when really we don’t. I’m endlessly fascinated by people and people lie about who they are all the time, even if it’s only in small ways. But mostly I want people to enjoy the story. If readers just enjoy reading the book, I’ve done my job!

 

Do you have any other writing projects on the go?

Yes, I’ve just finished writing my first non fiction book for Pen and Sword Books, The History of Gibbeting, and I also write plays. I have a play, The Devil is in the Timing, on at The Bread and Roses Theatre in London 2-6 April (come along!). I’m working on a couple of novels and I’m working with another theatre producer on my next play.

 

Will you be doing any book signings?

I am, yes! I’ll be signing at W H Smith in Sheffield on 30th March and at W H Smith Meadowhall (date to be confirmed). I’ll also be at the Derby Book festival Book fair on Saturday 8th June.

 

Did you always want to write?

When I was growing up I always thought I’d do art, though I did always write. I just didn’t think writing was something ordinary people did. It was only when I worked for Blackwells bookshop and met a few authors that I realised some of them are actually ordinary people! I think it was when I worked at the bookshop that I realised I wanted to be on the other side of the business. I wanted to be writing the books rather than selling them. I don’t think I’d thought of it as a job before then, or as a possibility.

 

How has social media helped you?

Social media is great for getting your name out there and for reaching people, but it can also be a massive time drain! I used to be much more active on social media than I am now. I try to keep up, but the busier I get with work then less time I have for checking social media. I think in your early days it is hugely helpful, but you have to be careful you don’t get too sucked in by it! I have met a lot of fantastic people and made some important contacts through social media, so it’s very useful for that. And of course, it can be a lot of fun.

 

What has the publishing process been like?

I’m published by various independent presses, so it does differ depending who is dealing with it, but on the whole I’ve found it to a very positive experience. The more experienced editors are more brutal, but once you’ve got over the initial shock of opening up the manuscript to see line after line of red notes, it’s actually quite satisfying. You certainly come out with a better book after a thorough edit. The most exciting bit is still holding the physical copy at the end of it all. I love seeing the cover designs and how the inside is laid out. The finished product always makes all the time and effort worth it.

 

What advice have you got for anyone wanting to write their first novel?

You need a lot of patience and you must be able to take criticism and rejection. The first novel I ever wrote was awful, but I took every piece of advice every agent and publisher ever gave me when they read it, and I learned from it. It’s a slow process at times, but writing is all about experience. The most important advice is to read a lot, write a lot and submit a lot. That’s the only way you’re really going to learn how to do this and make a success of it.

 

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I like going for walks, going to the cinema and eating out, shopping with my daughters, and simple things like cooking and watching endless crime documentaries! And I love a good stately home tour. ‘Spare time’ is a weird concept when you write for a living. There isn’t a lot of it and when there is you’re usually still working in your head. I do love seeing new places and discovering new things. My partner always jokes what a tourist I am wherever we go, but I still get excited about seeing places I’ve never been before.

 

Approximately how many books do you read a year?

Oh, nowhere near enough! I’m a really slow reader. Literally everybody I know reads more than me. I struggle to make one a month, it’s nearer one every two months, so I’d have to say a miserable six a year. I used to read a lot more than I do now and I’m always trying to make time for it.

 

Book Blurb

Rose Villa has held a curse in its bricks since 1843, and the Yorkshire village it stands in has held the secret of a murder since 1987. In 2007, Jonathan and Kirsty meet on Facebook twenty years after they last saw each other and Kirsty visits Jonathan in his home, Rose Villa, only to find the house has affected him and he’s no longer the person she once knew.

In 1843 in a Yorkshire village two gypsy women are evicted from their home by men planning to build new houses. The youngest gypsy, Matilda, curses the land, anything built on it, and those who live there.

In 2007 Jonathan is coming to terms with his girlfriend leaving him and Kirsty is facing the break-up of her marriage. Old school friends, and former boyfriend and girlfriend, the two meet again on Facebook and Jonathan invites Kirsty to his house, Rose Villa. Rose Villa was built on the cursed land and has caused its inhabitants over the years to go mad and become violent.

When Kirsty goes to Jonathan’s house he talks about his girlfriend in an increasingly resentful way. Kirsty begins to remember the last time she was in this village, 20 years ago, when she came to find her grandmother’s grave. That day she saw a girl crying over a letter down behind the church, and she met an older woman in the graveyard who seemed to know Kirsty.

Kirsty is finding Jonathan’s behaviour more and more erratic and he doesn’t seem like the same person she knew twenty years ago. She asks his neighbour, Mrs Daniels, what she knows about Kirsty’s family, and she receives a shock, and a warning.

Back in 1987 violence lay beneath the surface in Rose Villa and on the day Kirsty was in the village all those years ago, it finally found its way out.

Jonathan is getting more unstable and as Rose Villa takes over completely, dark secrets emerge from its walls and from Jonathan.

~~~~~

Rose Villa’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rose-Villa-Samantha-Priestley/dp/0648477126/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=samantha+priestley&qid=1553351306&s=gateway&sr=8-3

 

About Samantha Priestley

Samantha is a writer based in Sheffield, England. She won the H E Bates competition and The Tacchi-Morris Prize for short stories. Her chapbooks, Dreamers and Orange Balloon, are published by Folded Word. Her novels Reliability of Rope and A Bad Winter, are published by Armley Press and her latest novel, Rose Villa, is published by ASJ. She has also written two plays, Greenwood and The Devil is in the Timing, to be staged this year.

 

Links

Website – www.samanthapriestley.co.uk

Facebook:-

https://www.facebook.com/samantha.priestley.1

https://www.facebook.com/Samantha-Priestley-68196846263/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/sampriestley

Instagram – @sampriestleybooks

 

‘The Girl Across the Street’ by Vikki Patis ~ @bookouture @PatisVikki

‘The Girl Across the Street’ was published as an eBook on the 8th March 2019 by Bookouture and is also available in paperback and audiobook.  I received my review copy of this book via NetGalley and would like to thank the publisher for approving my request.

I cannot wait to tell you exactly what I thought about this book.  First though here’s the blurb.

 

Book Blurb

You’re hiding a secret that only she can see.

Her name is Beth. She came into my life when I needed her the most. We lead very different lives, but she’s the only person who understands me.

She was the only other witness to the terrible accident on the street between our homes. The only person who saw the cracks in my perfect life before I had the chance to cover them up.

It’s been so long since I’ve had a friend. Someone to talk to, to listen to, to laugh and dream with.

Beth would never do anything to hurt me.

She only wants what’s best for me, for my marriage.

Doesn’t she?

An unputdownable psychological suspense thriller that will grip you until the very last page. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Couple Next Door.

 

My Review

Having read the description of this book and really liking the sound of it, I was thrilled when my request to read it was approved. The prologue was just so intriguing and I soon found myself totally absorbed. I loved the author’s style of writing and the way the story was set out.

The chapters were narrated by two of the main characters, Isla and Beth, which I thought worked really well. Beth didn’t have a very easy life at all. She slogged away trying to make ends meet whilst her lazy boyfriend didn’t work or even help out around the home. I did feel for her and thought it was a shame that she was trapped in this situation. Isla on the other hand seemed to have it all, but first appearances can be deceptive as I was about to find out.

The accident seemed to bring Isla and Beth together and an unlikely friendship developed. They got on so well and it was nice to see them happy. Isla hadn’t had a friend in a long time and it was good that she was going out a bit more. All appeared to be well. Or was it? By this point my intuition was telling me that something wasn’t quite right and I really couldn’t wait to see how the story developed.

Beth seemed to genuinely care about Isla and wanted to help her, but things were never going to be that easy were they. Oh no, not with Jake around. He acted like he owned Isla and he wasn’t going to let her go anywhere.

‘The Girl Across the Street’ is a dark and gripping psychological thriller which will keep you reading. I personally didn’t want it to end.

I cannot wait to read more by this author and I will definitely be buying myself a copy of ‘The Diary’.

~~~~~

‘The Girl Across the Street’ is available to purchase from:-

Amazon UK – https://amzn.to/2Wn1JkK

Amazon US – https://amzn.to/2JDA3q3

About Vikki Patis

Vikki Patis is the author of psychological thrillers THE DIARY and THE GIRL ACROSS THE STREET, published by Bookouture. She is also the author of WELTANSCHAUUNG, a self-published short story collection, and her BSc dissertation, I INK, THEREFORE I AM, was published by Lambert Publishing in 2016.

When she isn’t writing or working as a Regulatory & Compliance Manager, she can usually be found drinking tea, baking cakes, or taking walks in the Hertfordshire countryside. She lives with her partner and two cats.

 

Links

Website – http://www.vikkipatis.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/vikkipatis

Twitter – https://twitter.com/PatisVikki

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15340101.Vikki_Patis

 

Guest Post by Angelena Boden ~ @matadorbooks

I am delighted to welcome the lovely Angelena Boden back to my blog.  Her latest book, ‘Edna’s Death Cafe’ was published last September as an eBook by Matador and it has been getting quite a few good reviews.

Angelena has written a post about the fear of dying for my blog.  There is also the chance to win copies of the book.  First though, lets take a look at what ‘Edna’s Death Cafe’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

As in life, death is not without its agenda. This is something seventy-nine year old Edna Reid finds out when her partner, Ted, suddenly dies.

To cope with her loss, she sets up a Death Cafe to break down the taboo around death and to encourage other members of the community to discuss it openly. Over tea and cake, the participants hide their fears behind a veil of dark humour.

Religious fanaticism clashes with Victorian spiritualism as Edna’s meetings trigger lively conversations on the fragility of life, anxiety over dying, cost of funerals, and making sure long-lost greedy relatives don’t benefit from inheritances.

Soon, a series of events begin to unfold which threaten to undermine Edna’s livelihood and the Death Cafe meetings. These events just happen to coincide with the arrival of a mysterious stranger into the village.

Who is she and why is she so hostile to Edna?

~~~~~

‘Edna’s Death Cafe’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://amzn.to/2Q046aN

 

Guest Post

THANATOPHOBIA – The Fear of Dying

Death isn’t something we like to talk about. If it pops up in conversation we suddenly find the floor covering very interesting. In researching for my new book, Edna’s Death Cafe I talked to many people about how they feel about death, particularly their own, and the response was the same – they didn’t want to think about it because it made them feel anxious. I can relate to that as I suffered for a long time with a similar affliction which verged on panic, usually in the early hours of the morning.

I would spring out of bed, grabbing my throat, unable to swallow or breathe. Breathing into a paper bag or my cupped hands helped to calm the nervous system enough to make a cup of tea and put things back into proportion.

Now in my sixties I’ve experienced many losses as you would expect.  When my father died a few years ago, I realised on a very conscious level that I would be next in line (according to the natural order of things). It’s a sobering thought.

I became obsessed with everything to do with the dying process, funerals, body disposal and the age old question of whether consciousness really continues. I read voraciously the stories of near death experiences, the works of doctors such as Pym Van Lommel and Raymond Moody. My mind was having great difficulty in accepting that death was the end – hence the anxiety. I no longer had control over my life at that point.

For two years it made living in the moment impossible.  Every waking thought was controlled by the ‘horror’ that one day I was going to be no more – such is the power of the ego. I thought I was going crazy but death anxiety is very, real and very common.

In trying to avoid my own premature death I took ridiculous precautions.  Germs were monsters and my hands became raw from scrubbing them clean. I feared leaving the house in case a bus happened to mount the pavement and squash me. Everything I did had to be risk assessed until I found myself sobbing in front of my doctor. Fortunately she was understanding and suggested something to calm me down as well as a grief counsellor who was trained in this field.

My condition was exacerbated by the fact I had post- traumatic stress syndrome which, despite therapy, was recurring especially when under stress. Death of a loved one is the number one stressor so my thought processes were understandable.

As well as these excellent therapies which help sort out the muddle between the rational and irrational I discovered my own path through the nightmare.

I trained as a funeral celebrant which put me in contact with the fundamentals of the dying process and of course with grieving relatives. I had to be the strong one and keep things together for the families. My work desensitised me to the fear of dying but strengthened my new belief that you can die well following a fulfilling life. Being at a burial site or in a crematorium for the final goodbye is a privilege but also provides a form of exposure therapy. It’s the fear of the unknown that gives the demons something to play with.

Writing about those things that make us anxious can be healing. My novel, inspired by the international death café movement provided succour and support. Through the main character Edna, an octogenarian who sets a good example of how to celebrate life we learn how we can talk about this last taboo. I think we need to name it properly: – death, dying and dead as opposed to the many euphemisms we use to lessen the impact of the reality.

We might not wear black or cover the clocks and mirrors as the Victorians did or have a religious belief – many funerals result in natural burials in woodlands – but we need to allow ourselves to mourn and not stiffen the upper lip or maintain a dry eye when someone kindly asks us how we are doing.

The only way to get through grief is through that painful, but necessary act of grieving, in our own time and at our own pace. We need to allow ourselves to feel the tidal wave of emotions knowing that we won’t drown. Grief doesn’t mean neglecting everything and everyone or shutting ourselves away in a darkened room. It means nurturing yourself with good food, fresh air, walks in nature and slowing down to appreciate that we’ve been lucky to be given this opportunity to experience life in all its glory.

The best things we can do for ourselves when faced with crippling anxiety over our eventual demise is to learn to relax. Yoga, gentle exercise, breathing exercises, meditation all help. When things get overwhelming, you can focus on counting backwards or reciting a bit of poetry – whatever will distract your mind from the mental pain.

So if you can relate to any of these feelings, don’t despair. You are normal and it will get easier.  ‘Sometimes a bit of humour can really help too. This is what Mark Twain had to say,   ‘I do not fear death: I had been dead for billions of years before I was born and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.’

 

Competition

Angelena is giving away 4 eBook copies of ‘Edna’s Death Cafe’.  2 lucky winners will receive their book via Amazon UK and 2 will receive an iBooks code.  To enter just leave a comment and let me know how you would prefer to receive your book.

 

Terms and Conditions

This competition is open to UK residents only.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 31st March 2019.

Winners will be randomly chosen within 7 days of the closing date and their email addresses will be sent to Angelena Boden.

 

About Angelena Boden

Angelena Boden has spent thirty-five years as an international training consultant, specialising in behavioural management and conflict resolution. She trained in Transactional Analysis, the psychology of communication and behaviour, her preferred tool for counselling and coaching.

She originates from the Peak District which is where her new book is set. Angelena has spent a life time travelling and living in places as far apart as Vancouver, Dubai, Paris, Seville and Iran. Now semi-retired in Worcestershire, she writes every morning, walks the hills and paints landscapes, fitting family and reading in between.

Angelena is writing stories for her new grandson about a little dachshund called Digger who is a very special sort of detective!

She is the author of two traditionally published novels and many articles and blogs.

Her most recent novel, Edna’s Death Cafe is published as an e-book by Matador. A new Edna Investigates will be available for Christmas 2019.

Angelena is keen to meet readers, old and new, and is available for book talks, events, and always chatting over a cuppa (within 60 miles of Worcester).

 

Links

Website – http://angelenaboden.com/

 

Cover Reveal – ‘A Wanted Man’ and ‘Morte Point’ by Rob Parker ~ #LoveBooksGroupTours #BenBracken @LoveBooksGroup @robparkerauthor @EndeavourQuill

Have I got a treat for all of you today or what!  Rob Parker’s covers for his books, ‘A Wanted Man’, the first in the Ben Bracken series and ‘Morte Point’, the second book in the Ben Bracken series, both of which have been published in paperback and as eBooks by Endeavour Quill, have had a makeover and they look absolutely fabulous.

Together with a few other book bloggers I am helping to share them for Kelly Lacey of Love Books Group, the author and the publisher.

Right, are you ready to see them?

Was that a YES??

Are you sure???

Okay, I won’t keep you waiting any longer…….

 

Book Blurb

It’s down to fathers and fatherhood.

Ben Bracken, ex-soldier, has just got out of Strangeways.

Not by the front door.

With him, he has his ‘insurance policy’ – a bag of evidence that will guarantee his freedom, provided he can keep it safe – and he has money, carefully looked after by a friend, Jack Brooker.

Rejected by the army, disowned by his father, and any hopes of parenthood long since shattered, Ben has no anchors in his life.

No one to keep him steady.

No one to stop his cause…

The plan: to wreak justice on the man who had put him in prison in the first place.

Terry ‘The Turn-Up’ Masters, a nasty piece of work, whose crime organisation is based in London.

But before Ben can get started on his mission, another matter is brought to his attention: Jack’s father has been murdered and he will not rest until the killers are found.

Suddenly, Ben finds himself drawn in to helping Jack in his quest for revenge.

In the process, he descends into the fold of Manchester’s most notorious crime organisation – the Berg – the very people he wants to bring down…

This action-packed and fast-paced story will keep you turning the pages. Manchester is vividly portrayed as Ben races around the city seeking vengeance.

~~~~~

‘A Wanted Man’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B072333TYM?pf_rd_p=71cb17e9-f468-4d3f-94d5-a0de44c50a7e&pf_rd_r=1T3VSCZ1Q6NCZSHXQXSH

 

Book Blurb

Morte Point is a wonderful spot for a holiday. Only that’s not why Ben Bracken is here.

He’s here because in this sleepy part of England, events are now unfolding that could cause death and mayhem, and not just for the unfortunates in the plane that has just crashed into the sea off the North Devon coast.

Sent to locate the source of the problem, ex-soldier and patriot Ben finds himself both hunter and hunted. But who is after him, and why do they want to capture him so desperately?

It’s only when, on the edge of physical and mental exhaustion, he meets a young Kosovan microbiologist, that he begins to understand the scale of the plot he has been drawn into, and the weight of responsibility that the authorities have placed on his shoulders. So it’s probably just as well they don’t know about his slightly shady past.

But then, as Ben is rapidly finding out, those in authority aren’t always what they seem, either.

Morte Point is an original, non-stop action tale with twists and turns that will keep you enthralled from start to finish, and a memorable lead character who is far from the typical action hero. Fans of Lee Child and Andy McNab will be hooked!

~~~~~

‘Morte Point’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Morte-Point-explosive-thriller-Bracken-ebook/dp/B07F8ZNR2G/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

Coming Soon….

 

About Rob Parker

Robert Parker is a married father of three, who lives in a village near Manchester, UK. The author of the Ben Bracken books A Wanted Man and Morte Point, and the standalone post-Brexit country-noir Crook’s Hollow, he enjoys a rural life on an old pig farm (now minus pigs), writing horrible things between school runs.

He writes full time, as well as organising and attending various author events across the UK – while boxing regularly for charity. Passionate about inspiring a love of the written word in young people, he spends a lot of time in schools across the North West, encouraging literacy, story-telling, creative-writing and how good old fashioned hard work tends to help good things happen.

 

Links

Author

Twitter – https://twitter.com/robparkerauthor

Publisher

Twitter – https://twitter.com/EndeavourQuill

Book Launch – ‘Crossing the Line’ by Laura Wilkinson ~ @ScorpioScribble @AccentPress

Big congratulations to Laura Wilkinson whose book, ‘Crossing the Line’ (previously called ‘Public Battles, Private Wars’) is out today in paperback, published by Accent Press.  I just love that cover.

I read ‘Public Battles, Private Wars’ a few years ago and am posting my review again.  First though lets look at what ‘Crossing the Line’ is about.

 

Book Blurb

Miner’s wife Mandy Walker lives a quiet life. She’s hopeless at everything apart from looking after her boys and baking. Life is fine.

But she knows it could be better.

Her husband’s a drinker and best friend Ruth is busy with a teaching career. Mandy dreams of a different life – an impossible, unachievable life. Only Ruth’s husband Dan believes in her and, after serving during the Falklands war, he’s damaged.

But when the men come out on strike, Mandy joins a support group. She finds friends and strength in surprising places. And secrets and enemies where she least expected them.

Mandy must decide which side of the line to stand on and determine her fate.

 

My Review

‘Crossing the Line’ is set in Yorkshire, Fenley Down in the 1980’s, and tells the story of the miners’ strike.

Mandy is 23 years old, married to Rob who works in the mines, and has children.  Mandy feels as if she is stuck in a rut and wants to do more.  However, a life as a housewife and bringing up the children seems inevitable.  Mandy’s childhood friend, Ruth, who left Fenley years ago, returns with her Falkland’s war hero husband, Dan.  But something just doesn’t add up and Ruth isn’t the person she appears to be.

Conflict with the Coal Board turns to war and the men go out on strike.  The community and its whole way of life is badly threatened and Mandy finds herself joining the Fenley Action Group (FAG) which gives her a whole lot of confidence.  As the strike goes on relationships are tested and Mandy discovers just who her true friends are.

This book is just so different from Laura Wilkinson’s debut novel.  I really enjoyed it and I liked her writing style.  I could actually hear the Yorkshire accent.  Whilst this story was about the miners’ strike it also took a good look at the people affected by it and their families, bringing with it a couple of interesting plots.

Mandy was one of my favourite characters.  She was of strong character no matter what life threw at her and a woman to be admired.  The cakes she baked and the descriptions throughout the book are enough to make anyone’s mouth water.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

~~~~~

‘Crossing the Line’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crossing-Line-Laura-Wilkinson/dp/1786157381/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1552505894&sr=1-5&keywords=laura+wilkinson

 

About Laura Wilkinson

Laura Wilkinson is a feminist and lover of ginger hair. A resident of an unfashionable quarter of Brighton, she likes to write stories which entertain and provide food for thought. Her novels are Crossing the Line, The Family Line, Redemption Song and Skin Deep. Her work has been described variously as ‘compelling’, ‘poignant’, and ‘emotional’. Alongside writing, she works as an editor and mentor, and speaks at events nationwide. She has a passion for fashion and anything which glitters. In another life, she’d make a good magpie.

 

Links

Website – http://laura-wilkinson.co.uk/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ScorpioScribble

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/laurawilkinsonwriter

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7170702.Laura_Wilkinson

Book Review – ‘A Letter From Sarah’ by Dan Proops ~ @urbanebooks @Dan_Proops

‘A Letter From Sarah’ is being published in paperback and as an eBook on the 7th March 2019 by Urbane Publications.  I would like to thank the publisher for my review copy of this book.

You will find out in a minute what I thought about ‘A Letter From Sarah’.  First though, here is the blurb.

 

Book Blurb

Adam’s sister, Sarah, has been missing for seven years, but he hasn’t given up hope of finding her. He is a sculptor and lives with his bedridden father who is a bully and a curmudgeon.

One morning, as the anniversary of Sarah’s disappearance nears, Adam receives a letter from her and she is apparently alive and well, living in New York. Adam travels to Brooklyn to search for Sarah as he’s desperate to see her, but she seems determined to avoid him.

Sarah’s letters arrive weekly, but she continues to remain elusive. Adam is perplexed by Sarah’s requests for secrecy, as is his father and his girlfriend, Cassandra.

He is determined to find her, whatever the cost to his wellbeing, health and sanity….

 

My Review

I really liked the sound of this book and was looking forward to reading it. The author has written a beautiful and poignant story. I found it to be very thought provoking and different to other books I have read.

When Adam received a letter from Sarah out of the blue I really wanted to believe that it was from her. It seemed too good to be true though. After all he hadn’t heard from her at all in the past seven years. But then as the letters started arriving regularly I had no doubt that they were from her, especially with the things she was mentioning in them. Like Adam, I found myself eagerly awaiting the next letter from Sarah and I hoped that one day she would say she wanted to meet up with him.

There were some interesting characters in this story. I liked how the author portrayed them along with their flaws. I really wasn’t very keen on Adam’s friend at all and felt he took advantage of things. Yes, he had problems but the way he behaved wasn’t great.

As I was reading this book I had a number of questions going through my mind. Something just didn’t add up and I was right. I have to say I never expected the story to unfold as it did though and was quite shocked.

‘A Letter From Sarah’ deals with many issues including loss, family and mental health. It will not let go of you even when you put the book down and you will find yourself thinking about it often and wondering what is going to happen next. This is not a story that you will be likely to forget either.

I look forward to more from this author.

~~~~~

‘A Letter From Sarah’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Letter-Sarah-Dan-Proops/dp/1912666219/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1551723199&sr=8-1&keywords=a+letter+from+sarah

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Letter-Sarah-Dan-Proops/dp/1912666219/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=a+letter+from+sarah&qid=1551723262&s=gateway&sr=8-3

 

About Dan Proops


Dan Proops has been a full time writer for six years and has completed four novels and a memoir. Previous to this he was a professional artist, organising a one man show at the age of fourteen. He has had many exhibitions over a long career and his artwork was purchased by internationally acclaimed art dealer, Eric Franck. His artwork appeared frequently in the national press and his painting was featured in Image of the Week in the Times. One of his exhibitions was previewed in the Telegraph by columnist Colin Gleadell.

Dan is a Twitter influencer and has a following of 22,000; last year 1.2 million people read his tweets, and he currently attends the advanced writing class at Morley College, run by the renowned radio four dramatist Mike Walker. Dan Proops is also the grandson of legendary advice columnist, Marjorie Proops. He lives and works in London.

 

Links

Website – http://dan-proops.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Dan_Proops

Book Launch – Guest Post by Julie Shackman ~ @G13Julie @foreververlag

Big congratulations to Julie Shackman whose book, ‘A Room at the Manor’ is published today as an eBook in Germany.  Julie has written a guest post all about it, but first you’ll be wanting to see the cover in all its glory.

 

Gorgeous isn’t it!  Over to Julie now….

 

Guest Post

Forever Grateful to Forever

Being told by my agent that my first traditionally published novel, A Room at the Manor, had been bought by a prolific publisher in Germany, was a very special moment.

The romance imprint of Ullstein, Forever, have a genuine passion for the genre and so when they said they loved my story and declared that they wished to release it in both kindle and paperback, I was delighted.

I can’t quite believe that on 4 March, the kindle is out, with the paperback following on 2 May.

From the beginning, the lovely Forever team, headed up by my wonderful editor Caroline Funke, have enthused about A Room at the Manor, titled in Germany as Das Kleine Café Im Gutshaus.

When I took a browse through their website, I was struck by how beautiful and original their covers are, as well as the talented family of authors that are published by them.

They produced a gorgeous cover for my German edition; drew up a comprehensive marketing plan and messaged me frequently, expressing their excitement and enthusiasm for Lara and Vaughan’s story.

(I should admit at this point, that my knowledge of German is extremely limited and is something I think I should rectify!)

There is a real team effort to what they do and seeing “my baby” in their creative hands, is a wonderful experience.

Knowing that A Room at the Manor is being introduced to another audience in another country, is a very humbling experience and one which I am very excited about.

I hope that German readers enjoy reading about Lara and Vaughan every bit as much as I enjoyed writing about them.

Thank you to everybody at Forever for allowing me to bring my story to German readers!

Julie XX

~~~~~

Here is the purchase link for readers in Germany:-

https://www.amazon.de/Das-kleine-Café-im-Gutshaus-ebook/dp/B07J2NH287/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1549367682&sr=8-1

 

About Julie Shackman

Julie trained as a journalist and studied Communication & Media.

Her first two novels, Rock My World & and Hero or Zero were published digitally by Not So Noble Books. A Room at the Manor is her first traditionally published novel.

When not writing women’s commercial fiction, she also writes verses and captions for greetings card companies.

She is an avid reader and is currently trying to reduce her To Be Read pile.

Julie has a passion for handbags and pretty stationery and is married with two teenage sons.

 

Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/G13Julie

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/julie.shackman

Blog – http://julieshackman.wordpress.com/

 

Blog Tour – ‘An Abiding Fire’ by M. J. Logue ~ @SapereBooks @Hollie_Babbitt

I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off the blog tour for ‘An Abiding Fire’ by M. J. Logue, the first Thomazine and Major Russell Thrillers book, published in paperback and as an eBook by Sapere Books.  I would like to thank Caoimhe O’Brien for inviting me to take part.

I have an extract for you to read, but first here’s what the book is about.

 

 

Book Blurb

How do you solve a murder when you are one of the suspects?

1664, London

Life should be good for Major Thankful Russell and his new bride, Thomazine. Russell, middle-aged and battle-scarred, isn’t everyone’s idea of the perfect husband for an eligible young woman but the moment Thomazine set eyes on her childhood hero, she knew they were destined for one another.

But Russell, a former Roundhead, now working for the King’s intelligence service, was never going to have a simple life in Restoration London.

Unable to shake suspicions of his Parliamentarian past, someone seems hell-bent on ruining his reputation — and his life.

Whispers about his sister’s violent murder follow him and accusations of treason abound.

When more deaths occur Russell finds himself under suspicion.

He is ready to escape from the capital, but Thomazine is determined to find the truth and clear the name of the man she loves.

But who is the real killer and why are they so keen to frame Russell? More importantly, will they succeed?

And has Thomazine’s quest put them all in mortal danger?

 

Extract

Prologue

Four Ashes, Buckinghamshire, England

November 1663

She looked up as he entered the room, her eyes narrowing to see him in the gloom of a few meagre tapers. A paltry display for such a family, and on such a bitter midwinter night. It gave him enough light to see her clearly, though, and he was astonished at the change in her: but then it had been ten years and they had not been kind years for Fly-Fornication Coventry.

She had always been for the King, during the late wars, and it must have gone hard with her to have had a brother who was not only a most notorious rebel and subversive, but who had narrowly escaped being executed for his political beliefs with a pack of fellow Dissenters and horse-thieves calling themselves the Levellers. And he had not had the grace to slide into obscurity after his grudging pardon, but instead had gone on to serve quite conspicuously in the Army of General Monck after the King was restored.

It must have been bitter as wormwood for her to know that he was still out there in the world, that those sins of which she had spoken, at such length, with such contempt, had gone unpunished and that he was still unrepentant.

Bitterness had withered her. Her hair was hidden by the same stiff starched cap, untouched by fashion or flattery, but her eyebrows were as dark and uncompromising as ever. She was not an unattractive woman for a widow in her late fifties. She was as tall and slender as her brother and her shoulders were straight. He found himself quite admiring her, actually. Not as a woman, but as a fierce thing of beauty, like a falcon or a well-made sword.

“Well,” she said. And that was all.

He bowed with as much ostentation as he could because he had been on the peripheries of court these four years and more and he had learned the weapons of vicious courtesy. “I am glad to see you well, Mistress Coventry. After so long absent.”

“As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly. Should I say I am as glad to see you? Well, I won’t.” She smiled, which was unexpected. “I do not lie, sir. I am not in the least glad to see you. Prinked out in your degenerate finery — ‘For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness.’ Do you seek to impress me, you nasty, womanish thing?”

“Good lord, no,” he said mildly, and she lowered her head and glowered at him.

“Less of your blasphemy. This is a godly house. What do you want?”

She had not invited him to sit or offered him hospitality and he was glad of that. She still made him nervous, for all he had not set eyes on her in ten years, though she had no power over him because for all her malice she was no more than a woman, and a thin, bloodless, bitter one at that.

“I wanted to assure myself of your continued good health,” he said and dropped his eyes to hide that particular lie.

“Did you. Well. I wonder why, since you never did before when you were drinking and whoring all over the county, keeping your low company?”

“They say hereabouts that you are grown … odd, mistress. That you grow overly zealous, even more than you were previous, and that none of your servants will stay longer than a few weeks with you, for your harshness. That you can be cruel and whimsical in your ways.” He took a deep breath and went on, “That you are often alone in this house at night, for such staff as can bear your intolerance will not stay under the same roof. Is that true?”

Her dark eyes, ringed about with tender blue shadows, lifted to his face. “True? What concern is it of yours?”

He was still on his feet. It was easy to go and stand over her and set his hands on her shoulders. Such slight, narrow shoulders, for all their straightness. Her bodice, close to, was shabby: a little shrunken at the seams, unevenly faded, as if it had been remade from another garment and covered by an old-fashioned linen collar that had a darn at the fold. A fine darn, but a darn, nonetheless. “There is not the money here to pay a servant’s hire, is there, mistress?” he said gently. “You have lost all, since the wars. Have you not?”

She almost rose from her seat, an unlovely blush mottling her cheeks and her neck. “How dare you, sir —”

And he put his hands about her slight throat and snapped her neck, as simply as that. Like snapping a coney’s when it was snared, and with as little emotion.

She was not expecting it and she did not struggle, after that initial convulsion; she only hung between his two hands with her dark eyes blank and staring at him and her mouth slightly ajar.

He was not as frightened as he thought he would be. She was dead and it had been easy. He did not feel anything, apart from a slight repulsion as a sliver of saliva drooled from her lolling mouth.

Such little bones. So frail. Not like her brother, not at all like her brother, in the end. For Thankful Russell was still alive and Fly was distinctly dead.

~~~~~

‘An Abiding Fire’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

http://getbook.at/AnAbidingFire

 

About M. J. Logue

M. J. Logue (as in cataLOGUE and epiLOGUE and not, ever, loge, which is apparently a kind of private box in a theatre) wrote her first short novel on a manual typewriter aged seven. It wasn’t very good, being about talking horses, but she made her parents sit through endless readings of it anyway.

Thirty-something years later she is still writing, although horses only come into it occasionally these days. Born and brought up in Lancashire, she moved to Cornwall at the turn of the century (and has always wanted to write that) and now lives in a granite cottage with her husband, and son, five cats, and various itinerant wildlife.

After periods of employment as a tarot reader, complaints call handler, executive PA, copywriter and civil servant, she decided to start writing historical fiction about the period of British history that fascinates her – the 17th century.

Her first series, covering the less than stellar career of a disreputable troop of Parliamentarian cavalry during the civil wars, was acclaimed by reviewers as “historical fiction written with elegance, wit and black humour” – but so many readers wanted to know whether fierce young lieutenant Thankful Russell ever did get his Happy Ever After, that the upcoming series of romantic thrillers for Sapere Books began.

Get in touch with MJ

She can be found on Twitter @Hollie_Babbitt, lurking on the web at asweetdisorder.com, and posting photos of cake, cats and extreme embroidery on Instagram as asweetdisorder.

Blog Tour – ‘Sea Babies’ by Tracey Scott-Townsend ~ #LoveBooksGroupTours @LoveBooksGroup @authortrace @Wildpressed

It is a real pleasure to be taking part in this blog tour.  ‘Sea Babies’ was published as an eBook on the 21st February 2019 by Wild Pressed Books and will be available in paperback from the 1st May 2019.  I would like to thank Kelly Lacey of Love Books Group for inviting me to participate in this tour.

I have an extract from ‘Sea Babies’ for all of you.  First though, here’s what the book is about.

 


Book Blurb

Lauren Wilson is travelling by ferry to the Outer Hebrides, about to begin a new job as a social worker. When somebody sits opposite her at the cafeteria table, she refuses to look up, annoyed at having her privacy disturbed. But a hand is pushing a mug of tea towards her, and a livid scar on the back of the hand releases a flood of memories.                                                   

Some people believe in the existence of a parallel universe. Does Lauren have a retrospective choice about the outcome of a terrible recent accident, or is it the bearer of that much older scar who has the power to decide what happens to her now? 

 

Extract

I picture a slightly older Sheena with a toddler in her arms, the little girl’s skin the colour of toffee just like in the photos of Sheena before she messed up her face with piercings, and her neck with a foster-brother’s attempt at a home-made tattoo.

The ends of my fingers go numb from pressing so hard into Sheena’s handiwork.

I’ll lose myself in my book. I wish I could revisit my young self and give her some helpful advice like Henry in The Time Traveller’s Wife. He also visits his future wife when she’s only six years old, and gently eases her into the difficulties to come. If I could go back in time there are several things I’d put right. One would be rectifying the biggest regret of my life. Another would be to stick with Sheena – see her through her troubled adolescence. If I could only pay her a visit when she was six, take her away before things got too bad. In the end I gave Sheena five years, which is more than I gave the other special girl in my life.

The ferry lurches. My fingers tighten on the Kindle and I concentrate on breathing steadily in, out. It feels cold in my head. But I read doggedly on and before long I’ve re-immersed myself in the story of Henry and Claire. I’m at the part where Claire sees Henry in the present for the first time when she’s visiting the—

What the…?

Some bawheid is sliding into the seat opposite me. Plonking a couple of mugs of tea down, both of which overspill slightly when a galumphing foot nudges one of the metal poles that hold up the table. For God’s sake, it’s not as if there are no empty tables around. I deliberately came in late for this reason. I just wannae be alone. So I keep my head down to avoid acknowledging whoever’s squeezed himself (I catch a glimpse of a hairy hand) into the bench opposite me and is now, I notice from the corner of my eye, pushing one of the mugs towards me.

The cheek o’ it!

Despite my struggles to avoid looking, something about the hand nudges my consciousness.

The thing that’s familiar. A scar, running across the back of it from the bottom knuckle of the forefinger to just below the wrist bones.

It’s Neil’s scar, the one I gave him with the vegetable knife shortly before we split up.

~~~~~

‘Sea Babies’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://amzn.to/2S4gydb

 

About Tracey Scott-Townsend

Tracey is the author of The Last Time We Saw Marion, Of His Bones, The Eliza Doll and Another Rebecca. Her fifth novel, Sea Babies will be released on 1st May 2019 in paperback. Her poetry collection, So Fast was published in January 2018.

Tracey is also a visual artist. All her work is inspired by the emotions of her own experiences and perceptions.

Tracey is the mother of four grown-up children and now spends a lot of time travelling in a small camper van with husband Phil and their rescue dogs, Pixie and Luna, gathering her thoughts and writing them down.

 

Links

Author

Twitter – https://twitter.com/authortrace

Publisher

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Wildpressed

 

Blog Tour – ‘Death Will Find Me’ by Vanessa Robertson ~ #LoveBooksGroupTours @LoveBooksGroup @Ness_Robertson

Back in January I took part in the cover reveal for ‘Death Will Find Me’, which I absolutely loved the sound of.  It was published as an eBook on the 20th February 2019 by Wild Justice Press and is also available in paperback.  Today I am taking part in the blog tour.  I would like to thank Kelly Lacey of Love Books Group Tours for inviting me to participate and both the author and Kelly for my review copy of the book.

I will tell you all in a minute exactly what I thought of this book.  First though, here is a reminder of what its about.


Book Blurb

Scotland, 1920.
Meet Tessa Kilpatrick; heiress and war-time covert operations agent.

Finding her husband – the feckless James – with another woman at a 1920s country house party, she demands a divorce. But when his body is discovered in a lonely stone bothy the next morning, Inspector Hamish Rasmussen sees Tessa as his only suspect.

Back in Edinburgh, links to another murder convince Rasmussen of her innocence. He enlists her help and together they set off on a pursuit that will bring Tessa once again face to face with the brutality of war as well as revealing to her the lengths that desperate people will go to in order to protect those they love.

Will Tessa be able to prevent a final murder or will she become the killer’s latest victim?

This book will be perfect for anyone who’s enjoyed the work of Catriona McPherson, Sara Sheridan and Jessica Fellowes.

 

My Review

When I first read the blurb of this book I just knew I was going to like it. One thing that really appealed to me was its setting, i.e. Scotland. I actually fell in love with Edinburgh the very first time I went there on holiday. It is a place I would like to visit again and again. It is just so beautiful with lots of history.

The opening, i.e. the prologue was absolutely fantastic and I thought it was a great start to the story. It was literally a wow moment and I couldn’t wait to read more. I totally loved the author’s style of writing. Her descriptions were simply wonderful; from what Tessa wore to the property she lived in.

I thought Tessa to be an extremely astute and courageous woman. Life knocked her down but she didn’t give up at all. She just dusted herself off and got up again. She fought for what she thought was right just like during the war. Her husband might have had several affairs with other women but it still didn’t mean that he deserved to die. Divorce would have been enough. Naturally Tessa wanted to see justice done and also to prove that she didn’t murder him.

As the body count rose, I found myself fearing for Tessa as it seemed she could also be in real danger. The finger could no longer be pointed at her though and I think Inspector Rasmussen was just glad of her assistance. Together with the help of her friend they tried to work out what the motive for murder really was and along the way made some rather startling discoveries.

‘Death Will Find Me’ is a gripping read that you really won’t want to put down for too long.

I am truly delighted that there is another Tessa Kilpatrick Mystery to come. I can’t wait to see what happens with Tessa next. If you like mysteries and historical fiction then I really recommend reading this book.

~~~~~

Like the sound of this book?  It is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://amzn.to/2T79REr

 

About Vanessa Robertson

I grew up in the Midlands where my main interests were horses and drama. Being a writer was a dream from childhood but I gave up on the idea of writing when I was a teenager, not long after I abandoned other childhood ambitions of being a trapeze artiste or a spy. After acquiring a couple of degrees and trying various ‘proper jobs’, I realised that I am fundamentally unsuited to office politics, bad coffee, and wearing tights.

My husband and I founded The Edinburgh Bookshop, winner of many awards. Bookselling is a wonderful profession and a good bookshop is a source of pure joy to me. I love independent bookshops and the amazing job they do in championing reading, supporting authors, and building communities. But, after a few years, it was time for a change and we sold the bookshop to make way for other projects.

I took the opportunity to start writing again and was a winner at Bloody Scotland’s Pitch Perfect event for unpublished authors in 2015. It was a fantastic opportunity and getting such positive feedback about my ideas gave me the push I needed to take my writing seriously.

I live in Edinburgh with my husband, our teenage son and an unfeasibly large Leonberger dog. I can usually be found walking on windy Scottish beaches, browsing in bookshops, or tapping away on my laptop in one of the scores of cafes near my home.

 

Links

Book Funnel – https://dl.bookfunnel.com/nkzqkoy5in?fbclid=IwAR3qIZZZqnHDKMWd3u50Jvp2rDFdcRKof80PnmIMMeBK5QaqvkIVfkk9Xow

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Ness_Robertson

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