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Archive for the tag “debut novel”

Blog Tour – ‘Dead Ernest’ by Frances Garrood

‘Dead Ernest’ is being published as an eBook tomorrow the 1st March 2018 by Sapere Books.  It is also out in paperback.  I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off this blog tour today along with two other bloggers.

I have an exclusive extract from the book for all of you to read, but first here’s what its about.


Book Blurb

No one had expected Ernest to die, least of all Ernest…

Ernest Bentley was a pillar of the community. But when he suddenly dies of a heart attack his wife Annie refuses to have the words ‘beloved husband’ added to his gravestone. Their son, Billy, is exasperated with his mother and worries about how she will cope on her own. Unwilling to take time out of his own busy schedule to take care of her, he enlists the services of the local vicar, Andrew, to keep an eye on her.

Before she knows what is happening, Annie finds herself telling Andrew things she has kept hidden for years. Dark secrets that had plagued her sixty-year marriage to Ernest. When Annie’s estranged granddaughter, Ophelia, turns up for a visit, the two bond over their mutual contempt for Billy and his controlling behaviour. But when Ophelia meets Andrew, the unhappily married vicar, things start to get very complicated…

What is the truth about Ernest? Why is Annie behaving so strangely now that he is dead? And how can Andrew reconcile his growing feelings for Ophelia with his respect for his marriage and his religion?

Spanning from the Second World War to the present day, Dead Ernest by Frances Garrood is a poignant, moving and, at times, very funny look at what really goes on behind closed doors in the ordinary lives of ordinary people.




Dead Ernest

No one had expected Ernest to die, least of all Ernest. He prided himself on coming from tough, Yorkshire stock, and had often told Annie that he would easily outlive her. So, when he had his heart attack, Annie’s feelings were at first of surprise rather than anything else.

“Are you sure?” she asked the policewoman, who was making tea in the kitchen. (How odd that it was always the police who were sent to break bad news; almost as though dying in the street were an offence against the law). “Are you sure he’s dead?”

“Quite sure. I’m so sorry, dear.” The policewoman handed her the tea (much too sweet, and not hot enough) and put an arm around her shoulders. “It must be a terrible shock. Is there anyone you’d like us to contact?”

“Billy. My son Billy. You’ll need to contact him.”

Because, of course, Billy must be told. Strangely, Annie had rather wanted to keep the news to herself for a while; to taste it and think about it on her own before sharing it with anyone else. But Billy would think it odd if she didn’t tell him at once, and besides, there would be things that would need doing. Annie had only the vaguest idea of what those things were, but she was sure Billy would know how to deal with them. Billy was good at that sort of thing.

“How do you know it was a heart attack?” Annie asked. “How can they tell?”

“Well, they can’t tell. Not for certain. But that’s what it looks like. There’ll have to be a post-mortem, of course.”

“Ernest wouldn’t like that,” Annie said, remembering Ernest’s dislike of being touched and even greater dislike of anyone seeing him in a position of disadvantage. A post-mortem, she could see, was going to place him in a position of considerable disadvantage.

“It has to be done, dear. It’s the law. Because he didn’t die in hospital.” The policewoman poured herself a cup of tea, although Annie hadn’t invited her to have one. Death, it would seem, muddled up all the rules of normal behaviour.

Ernest would have hated dying in the street like that, with everyone watching. Dying in hospital would have been acceptable, with dignity and nurses and clean sheets. But then Annie might have had to sit with him while he was doing it, and she wasn’t sure she could have managed that. Perhaps, after all, it was a blessing that he had died in the street.

“Where was he?” she asked. “Where did Ernest die?”

“Outside the fish and chip shop.”

“Outside the fish and chip shop,” Annie repeated, surprised. It seemed such an odd place to die. She wondered what he had been doing there. The fish and chip shop was the wrong end of town for the barber’s, which was where Ernest was supposed to be, and he’d only just had his lunch, so he couldn’t have been hungry. But now she would never know. Nobody would ever know what Ernest was doing before he died outside the fish and chip shop.

Annie was aware of the policewoman watching her, waiting to see how she would behave. “What do people usually do?” she asked, suddenly interested.

“Do?” The policewoman looked bemused.

“Yes. When someone dies. You must see a lot of them. When you tell them, what do they do?”

“Everyone’s different of course,” said the policewoman carefully. “They cry, of course, and some people even scream. And sometimes they’re just shocked and quiet. Trying to understand what’s happened.”

“And what am I?”

“What are you?” The policewoman’s teacup paused, trembling, halfway to her lips.

“Yes. How would you say I was taking it?”

“I would say,” the teacup returned firmly to its saucer, “I would say that you were being very brave. Perhaps it hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” she added gently. “It’s a terrible shock for you.”

Was it? Was it really a terrible shock? A surprise, certainly, but a shock? Annie wished the policewoman would go away and let her think. She needed time to sort herself out; to get to grips with what had happened. Ernest was dead, and she didn’t feel anything much at all. Not sad, not happy, not anything. Was she normal? Was it okay to feel like this?

“Ernest is dead.” She tried the words to see what they felt like. “Ernest — is — dead. It sounds so strange.” She paused. “He had this little joke he used to tell: ‘Once upon a time there were two worms fighting in dead Ernest.’ I never thought it was funny, and Billy didn’t like it, but it always made Ernest laugh.”

The policewoman smiled.

“Did he have a sense of humour then, your Ernest?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that. Ernest only had the two jokes, and I’ve forgotten the other one.”

“Would you like another cup of tea?” the policewoman asked.

“No thank you. I think I’d like you to go now,” Annie said.

“But we can’t leave you here on your own. Not at a time like this. Is there a neighbour who might sit with you? Just until your son gets here.”

Annie thought of her neighbours. Of odd, secretive Mr Adams, a tiny man of indeterminate age who lived alone and who hoarded things. Annie had only once been inside his house and had been left with an impression of disturbing smells and what appeared to be wall-to-wall jumble and bric-a-brac. The piles were neat and appeared to be in some kind of order, but the impression was not welcoming. On the other side lived a young couple, with a frog-faced toddler who screamed a lot. Annie certainly didn’t want to involve them, and she quite definitely didn’t need the toddler.

“I don’t really have much to do with the neighbours.” She stood up. “I want to be by myself now. I don’t need anyone else.”

After the policewoman had gone, Annie locked and bolted the door. Then, because it was getting dark, she drew the curtains and turned on the gas fire. Ernest would be home any time now, and wanting his tea. Ernest was very particular about his tea. He always had it at six o’clock on the dot, the same time as he used to have his meal when he got home from work. Ernest liked routine and order, and because it was easier to do what Ernest wanted, Annie had always gone along with it. Yes. She must get Ernest’s tea ready. A nice piece of fish (it was Friday) and some mashed potatoes and cabbage. Annie thought it was odd to have cabbage with fish, but Ernest had read a book about green vegetables being particularly good for you, and recently he had insisted on having them with everything.

But Ernest is dead, she realised again. Ernest is dead. He isn’t coming home for his tea. The green-vegetable book came too late to save him. He won’t be coming home at all; not ever. His heavy tread on the gravel (a slight limp because of his bad hip), his key in the door, his voice calling her name as he hung up his coat and cap. None of these things would ever happen again. The coat and the cap were — where? At the hospital, presumably. And Ernest himself; where exactly was he? Lying somewhere, cold, waiting for the post-mortem. Annie shivered. At least she wouldn’t have to go and identify him. Billy would see to that. She couldn’t understand why anyone had to go and identify Ernest, when he’d been carrying his pension book.


‘Dead Ernest’ can be purchased in paperback from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Ernest-behind-closed-doors/dp/1912546019/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1519756569&sr=8-1 

The eBook can be pre-ordered – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Ernest-behind-closed-doors-ebook/dp/B077Y1R7PP/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1519756569&sr=8-1


About Frances Garrood

My main career was in nursing, but I also trained and worked for many years as a relationship counsellor with Relate. Widowed in 1992, I re-married and now live with my husband in Wiltshire, where I enjoy riding my horse in the beautiful Pewsey Vale, reading, writing, singing in our large church choir and keeping up with my grandchildren. I also write regularly to a prisoner on Texas Death Row and do local voluntary work with homeless and vulnerable adults.

I first started writing as a child; mainly poetry, but there was one horrific novel (mercifully, never finished) in which a woman gives birth to a hideously deformed child in a thunderstorm. While I was bringing up my four children, I began writing and selling short stories to magazines before the enforced immobility following a fractured spine gave me the time to tackle my first novel, Dead Ernest.

All my books are very strongly relationship-based. My writing has also been affected by my widowhood and my experiences with my Relate clients, and my books sometimes include issues of death and bereavement. Strangely (and not by design) they all seem to include pet animal funerals (not a subject which normally occupies my mind!).



“Frances Garrood is a magnificent writer.” — thebookbag.co.uk

“Dead Ernest is remarkably well written, well constructed.” — Grumpy Old Bookworm

“Light-hearted, heartwarming and enjoyable.” —writers-online.co.uk



Website – http://www.francesgarrood.com/

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



Lynne Milford’s (aka LM Milford’s) Monthly Guest Post

I am delighted to welcome the lovely Lynne Milford aka LM Milford back to my blog.  Lynne was the winner of my competition to feature on my blog for a whole year.  Here is her second guest post.


Where did A Deadly Rejection come from?

When you’re starting out as a writer, one of the first pieces of advice you’re given is ‘write what you know’. There are several schools of thought on whether this is good advice or not – some say you can write about what you like as long as you’ve done the research. But I think when you’re first starting out, writing about something you know well means you can concentrate on learning how to write, without having to stop and research every step. That can come later, once you have writing experience.

In a former life, I was a local newspaper reporter for about 8 years. In that time I did some great jobs and some awful jobs. One of the not-quite-so-bad jobs was covering council meetings. I’d been to them all – planning, licensing, governance, for example. These meetings could be fascinating and dull in equal measures. Sometimes you had to dig to get a story from them, but there was always something there if you looked hard enough.

It was during a meeting of the ‘Innovation Panel’ that my brain started to stir.

The meeting had run on for two hours, with very little innovation taking place, when the councillors decided they’d better have a comfort break. My heart sank at the idea of yet more time wasted. Bear in mind that it was now after 8pm and I’d been working since 9am. In addition, I have to file what stories I could glean from the meeting before I could go to bed (to fill any spaces left in the next day’s edition). I had pages and pages of shorthand notes and began to review them to make writing up easier. Near me, as I sat at the desk kept for the press, was a small gaggle of councillors and officers deep in whispered conversation. As I picked up my pen to make a note in the margin by a useful quote, they all stopped talking, stared at me and then, as a group shuffled away to the back of the room.

Immediately my suspicious journalist brain lit up with ‘what were they talking about that they thought I’d overheard?’. It was probably nothing, but for the next few weeks I couldn’t shake that idea from my head, that if something was going on, what would they do to stop me from printing what they thought I’d overheard?

There would have been a lot of ways to do that without going to the extremes of what happens to Dan, the reporter in A Deadly Rejection, but I’ve always been somewhat over-dramatic about this type of thing – a good skill for a crime writer to have, don’t you think?

I can’t recall the moment I sat down to write the book, but it probably began to emerge over the next few weeks. It seems strange to look back now, when the book has been edited and changed so much, and think that without that one moment, that one reaction to a journalist, A Deadly Rejection might not have happened.

The book took over my life for many an evening, weekend, holiday for years but finally I’ve got it onto the virtual bookshelves and readers are enjoying it (most importantly).

I thank those councillors and officers for the inspiration. I promise that none of them is in the finished book, nor is the innovation panel. After all, who would believe that such a thing existed? You couldn’t make it up.


You can read Lynne’s first guest post about her writing journey here https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/lynne-milfords-monthly-guest-post/


Book Blurb

How far would you go to get what you want?

Beneath the bustling, respectable exterior of the Kent town of Allensbury lies a world of corruption and greed.

When local news reporter Dan Sullivan scents a story in the local council, he begins to ask questions. But when his source dies in mysterious circumstances, Dan is implicated. He is quickly drawn into a world of lies, ambition and avarice as he fights to clear his name.

The more he digs, the more someone tries to stop the story from ever seeing the light of day.

Dan must decide what’s more important to him…the story, or his life.



Book shortlink to Amazon http://ow.ly/57IG30fS5F5

Long link UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deadly-Rejection-would-what-want-ebook/dp/B0768WP1SB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507972626&sr=8-1&keywords=a+deadly+rejection

LM Milford’s blog – http://www.lmmilford.wordpress.com/

Twitter – @lmmilford


Lynne Milford’s Monthly Guest Post

Last year I ran a competition on Twitter, the prize being for an author to feature on my blog for a whole year.  The lucky winner was Lynne Milford aka LM Milford.  During the course of this year Lynne will be writing a variety of guest posts which I hope you all enjoy.


My writing journey

If you’d asked me as a child what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer would, without any thought, have been ‘a writer’. By that, I meant a published author with a shelf groaning with my books. I think I was about seven or eight-years-old when I developed this ambition. It was last year, at the age of 36 and a half, that I finally achieved that aim. That should tell you just how long my writing journey has been!

But in actual fact, I’ve been a writer since the day I picked up a pencil at the age of seven or eight and started to try and write a story. When I look back at my work it’s clear what I was reading at the time because my writing very much mirrors it. When I was in my Famous Five phase, it was always children having adventures without the problem of parents stopping you from having fun. When I hit my teens and moved on to Sweet Valley High and other romantic fiction, I tried my hand at that but soon realised it wasn’t for me. I simply couldn’t create a heroine who wasn’t a carbon copy of any other heroines out there. Maybe it was that I didn’t really believe in romance – it was something that hadn’t really touched me and so I couldn’t express it.

Then I met (figuratively speaking) a nice lady called Agatha Christie. Suddenly reading, and writing, took on a new dimension. I’d found my home – my genre – in the tightly plotted mystery. I recently said to a friend that Agatha Christie was one of my major influencers and she said you can see it in my book – what a compliment! So it’s clear that you learn to write by reading extensively in your genre.

It was an exercise in a Year 9 English literature class that really set me off on my journey to being a crime writer. We were told to write the opening scene of a novel, using a number of set words. Mine turned into a private detective heading down to a country house party to tackle a mysterious circumstance. You can see Agatha Christie’s influence there, can’t you? I never finished that book (I may one day, who knows) but it gave me the taste for sitting down and creating people and a mystery that my main character had to solve. And, of course, he would be the only person who could solve it!

I’ve always been aware that a career as a full-time writer is a long way off – if not out of my grasp – and so I’ve always had a full-time job. I started out in journalism and it was during a very dull council meeting that the book that became A Deadly Rejection started to develop. That was in about 2007, so that will also tell you how long the writing journey is (or can be). Over the next two years I poured the unplanned story onto the page and then learned, the hard way, that a novel needs to be plotted out before you start writing. Otherwise you spend ages going up blind alleys and wasting a lot of time. At the end of the two years I was quite pleased with the story and after a bit of tinkering sent it out to a few agents. I now recognise this was a bit of a mistake because the book was nowhere near ready, but I have a very nice rejection letter from one agent which I’ve kept all these years.

When nothing happened with Book One, I decided to sit down and write another. Again it took two years, thanks to my full time job and a period of illness. It was also unplanned. However, this gave me the confidence that I could do it again – by which I mean finish something. That’s a big challenge in writing – to not decide that what you’re writing is a load of rubbish (it probably isn’t) and give up.

Since then, I’ve learned a lot. I revised A Deadly Rejection over and over again, learning more and more about the plotting and editing process as I went along. It’s been slow progress and has taken longer than it took to write to kick the book into shape. It’s taken blood, sweat and tears (literally in some cases) to get the book to where it is, but it’s been worth every second. To stand there holding your paperback, knowing that you did it all yourself (it’s self-published) is a feeling that’s second to none.

Publishing the first book is fantastic, but it’s not the end – it’s only the beginning. I’m currently kicking Book Two into shape and am hoping to publish it later this year. Then it’s onto writing Book Three and editing the novella that I’ve already written.

Sometimes writing is hard work. Just getting into the writing chair feels impossible. But it’s worth it for the end result!

A Deadly Rejection is available in paperback and ebook through Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0768WP1SB


About Lynne Milford

By day, I work in PR and communications; by night (and at weekends) I write crime fiction (as well as baking pies and chocolate brownies).

In a previous life I worked as a local newspaper reporter. This gave me the inspiration for the story that has become my first novel, A Deadly Rejection.

I live in Kent and spend far too much time on trains commuting into London for work, which does however give me time to work on plotting and writing my books.

You can keep tabs on what I’m up to by following me on Twitter @lmmilford or by checking out my blog www.lmmilford.wordpress.com. I write about what I’m working on, advice on what I’ve learned through my work and how to move forward with writing.


Blog Tour – ‘Just One Time’ by K.S. Hunter

I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off this blog tour along with two other fellow book bloggers.  ‘Just One Time’ is K.S. Hunter’s debut novel and it is being published as an eBook on the 7th December 2017.  I was invited to take part by the author and the blog tour itself was organised by the wonderful Rachel’s Random Resources.

I interviewed K.S. Hunter for this tour.  I hope you enjoy reading it.



Can you tell me a bit about ‘Just One Time’ please?

Just One Time is about a married man whose marriage is on the rocks because of an affair he had two years before the novel starts. He goes to the theatre alone and there meets a woman called Nina. During their encounter, he unwittingly gives her his phone number and from that moment on she won’t get out of his life. In fact, the only way she will leave, she says, is if he sleeps with her just one time.


What made you decide to write a different genre?

I saw the popularity of erotic fiction and thought I could blend it with the psychological thriller aspects of the crime fiction I was already writing. Just One Time is not erotica, but it does borrow elements from the genre and that’s why I’ve termed it a steamy psychological thriller.


Where did you get the idea from for this book?

I went to the theatre. In the dark, I dropped my phone and couldn’t find it. While I was on all fours, a stranger asked for my phone number and said she’d call it to help me find it. It was at that moment that the seeds of Just One Time were planted. My imagination took over and I wondered what it would be like if that kind lady was actually an obsessive sociopath who wouldn’t leave me alone.


How long did it take you to write?

It took two years altogether, but that includes a year’s break. My son was born and so sleep became the stuff of memories. I didn’t write at all during that period. I came back to the book, which was about half written, last summer. I sat down with alcohol and completed it in about ten days. That’s the quickest I’ve ever written. Of course, I’ve edited it a lot since then, so it has changed quite a lot, but being that productive was genuinely surprising. Thank you, Mr Daniel’s.


Did you have to do any research for it at all?

The novel is divided into three main sections. Part two is set in New York. There’s a particularly important scene at the World Trade Center memorial, so I spent time there. It is a haunting place. Broadway also plays an important role.


Do you see yourself in any of the characters?

No, no, no. They are all horrible! But it was fun to write them because I got to say and do things that I would never say and do. All in all, it was quite a liberating experience.


Are there more books in the pipeline?

If Just One Time is successful, I will continue writing as K.S. Hunter side by side with my other fiction. That’s my hope, but we’ll see… it’s an unpredictable business.


Can you describe your typical writing day?

I don’t have one. I’m very undisciplined, so I write whenever I can get myself to do it, usually in the evening and into the early hours. I work best late in the day. I also write articles for magazines, so I save all my limited discipline for those because they come with tight deadlines.


Do you have a favourite place where you go to do your writing?

I spend quite a bit of time in Poland and I tend to manage to write quite a lot when I’m there. In the UK, I have an office in which I write. I’m surrounded by books – I collect signed first editions – and signed posters – I’m really a big film and theatre buff.


What do you hope readers will get from this book?

As K.S. Hunter, the opportunity to write another!


Will you be celebrating on publication day?

I don’t normally celebrate. There’s still a long way to go after publication day. I will more than likely obsessively check its sales rank every five minutes.


If you could live life all over again would you still write?

Yes, it’s the only thing I’ve ever felt I can do well.


Have you found social media helpful?

Social media is what made my bestseller the success it was – it reached the top ten in the UK and it got to number one in Australia. A large number of authors supported it with blurbs and helped to promote it online, and then a huge number of authors and other celebrities who are prolific on Twitter gave it attention. I don’t think that Twitter works as well any more, unfortunately, but that was five years ago.


What do you like doing in your spare time?

Going to the theatre (without it, Just One Time wouldn’t exist!), watching films (although I can’t stomach most of what’s made today), playing tennis and reading. That’s me talking, not K.S. Hunter. K.S. Hunter has no hobbies, apart from something kinky.


If you were only allowed to keep three books what would they be?

  1. Enduring Love by Ian McEwan. That’s the epitome of the literary thriller. A stunning portrayal of obsession.
  2. Stoner by John Williams. Just the most moving and delightful story of a simple life. Read the blurb and you won’t think it could possibly work. But it does, beautifully.
  3. The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. It contains the most sublimely written stage directions, I think, in all of drama, and the characters are so well drawn out. It’s eternally depressing, but strangely uplifting.


Book Blurb

The first novel by K.S. Hunter, the alter ego of an international bestselling author, whose identity will remain a secret.

Desire can have dire consequences

Two years ago, David Madden made a mistake that almost cost him his marriage. His wife, Alison, gave him another chance, but she has not forgotten, nor has she forgiven.

She is irresistible

Then David meets the alluring Nina at a theatre in London. When he loses his phone in the dark, she helps him find it, and by giving her his number he unwittingly invites her into his life.

What David initially views as an innocent flirt turns into a dangerous game of deception. His increasingly suspicious wife thinks something is up, and each lie he tells pushes them further apart.

She is insatiable

Nina pursues David relentlessly, following him to New York where she gives him an ultimatum: sleep with her, just one time, and then she’ll get out of his life forever; or she’ll ruin everything he holds dear.

She is unstoppable

Of course, once won’t be enough for Nina, and what David hoped would be the end is merely the beginning.

A modern-day Fatal Attraction, Just One Time is a steamy psychological thriller that will have you hooked from the first page and holding your breath until its shocking conclusion.

Praise for K.S. Hunter

‘An author to watch out for – always interesting and unpredictable’ Sophie Hannah

‘Just One Time’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK:- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Just-One-Time-K-S-Hunter-ebook/dp/B077CXFVK3/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510866031&sr=1-1&keywords=just+one+time


About K.S. Hunter

K.S. Hunter is the pseudonym of an international bestselling author. The identity of the author, who lives in the United Kingdom, will remain a mystery.

Website – http://www.AuthorKSHunter.com

Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/author.kshunter

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Author_KSHunter


Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources organises many blog tours and is very professional.  Follow her on Twitter @rararesources.


Blog Tour – ‘Last Stop Tokyo’ by James Buckler

‘Last Stop Tokyo’ is James Buckler’s debut novel. It is being published on the 24th August 2017 in hardback and as an eBook by Doubleday and Transworld Digital. The lovely Anne Cater invited me to participate in this blog tour and I would like to say thank you for my review copy.

Alex thought running away from all his mistakes would make everything better. He decides to move to Tokyo where he’ll have a new life.

The bright lights and dark corners of this alien and fascinating city intoxicate Alex and he finds himself transfixed. Not long after he arrives in Tokyo, Alex meets the enigmatic and alluring Naoko. He doesn’t realise it at the time but the peace he is after is about to slip even further from his grasp.

Alex is about to discover that there’s no such thing as hitting rock bottom. Things could get even worse.

Wow! Are you sure this is really a debut novel? It was absolutely fantastic and had me totally hooked. This was such an exciting and fast-paced read and I felt as if I had come off a rollercoaster by the end of it. I loved the author’s writing style and the storyline. I also enjoyed reading about the events which led to Alex deciding to make a new life for himself.

It was interesting reading about Tokyo. Life there seemed to go on non-stop and it sounded like a very modern city. This book is such a good example of being able to travel to another country without actually leaving your seat.

Out of all the characters Alex was my favourite. He thought starting off afresh in another country would solve his problems but unfortunately things weren’t that simple. He found himself in an extremely difficult situation and one that to me seemed impossible to get out of. I didn’t really know what to make of Naoko. She appeared to be nice at first, but there was just something about her. I admired her though for her gutsiness.

I would never have guessed how the story was going to end and I was left quite shocked. I didn’t know who could be trusted anymore.

‘Last Stop Tokyo’ is not a story I will forget in a hurry. It is definitely going to be on my list of favourite books of the year. I am looking forward to more from James Buckler.

I give this book 5 out of 5.


About James Buckler

James Buckler grew up in the South West of England and currently lives in London. In the past he lived in America and Japan, where he worked as an English teacher, providing inspiration for Last Stop Tokyo. He studied Film at the University of Westminster and worked in film & TV for many years, most notably as a post-production specialist for MTV and BBC Films. Last Stop Tokyo is his debut novel.


‘Last Stop Tokyo’ can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Stop-Tokyo-James-Buckler/dp/0857524968/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1503130393&sr=1-2


Blog Tour – ‘The Companion’ by Sarah Dunnakey

‘The Companion’ is Sarah Dunnakey’s debut novel. It was published in hardback and as an eBook on the 27th July 2017 by Orion Books. I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour for which I was kindly sent a copy of the book to review.

Set in Yorkshire from 1932 onwards, Billy Shaw has spent the first twelve years of his life living in a palace. Potter’s Pleasure Palace is the best entertainment venue there. His ma runs the tea rooms and Billy is looking forward to becoming Mr Potter’s assistant when he’s a bit older. But Mr Potter has other plans and Billy soon finds himself going up to the High Hob on the moors to be a companion to Jasper Harper who is a wild and very unpredictable young man. Jasper lives with his mother Edie and Uncle Charles who are brother and sister authors. For four years the boys are mostly inseparable but when Charles and Edie are found dead, apparently having committed suicide, Billy has already left with the intention of starting a new life in London.

Almost a century later, Anna Sallis, the newly appointed custodian of Ackerdean Mill, formerly the Palace, arrives. She begins to sort through the chaotic archives of the Mill, the Palace and the Harper siblings and it is left to her to unravel the knots and discover the truth. Just what will she find out?

I firstly want to mention the cover which I absolutely love. The design and the colours are beautiful and it caught my eye straight away. I really liked the sound of ‘The Companion’ and was looking forward to reading it. This book was right up my street and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I literally could have read it forever. I loved Sarah Dunnakey’s style of writing. The story is set in two different timelines, 1932 onwards and the present day and is narrated by Billy and Anna.

I so enjoyed reading Billy’s story. I wish I could have been there exploring the moors. I liked Billy but I didn’t really warm so much to Jasper. I also really liked Anna and I felt that in a short time she did so much for the community. Some things were maybe best left in the past though, but all the same it was interesting seeing what Anna discovered.

Although Anna’s story is set in the present day I do feel it would have been better if the chapters had been headed up with the year and not just the months. There could also have been a map at the beginning of the book.

I really hope there will be more from Sarah Dunnakey. A great first novel and one I recommend.

I give this book 5 out of 5.


About Sarah Dunnakey

When she’s not writing fiction, Sarah writes and verifies questions and answers for a variety of TV quiz shows including Mastermind, University Challenge and Pointless. She has an honours degree in History and has previously worked as a librarian, an education officer in a Victorian cemetery and an oral history interviewer.

Sarah has won or been shortlisted in several short story competitions and her work has been published in anthologies and broadcast on Radio 4. In 2014 she won a Northern Writer’s Award, from New Writing North after submitting part of The Companion. She lives with her husband and daughter in West Yorkshire on the edge of the Pennine Moors.



‘The Companion’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Companion-Sarah-Dunnakey/1409168557/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501612303&sr=1-1

Twitter – @SarahDeeWrites


Blog Tour – ‘Blue Gold’ by David Barker

Congratulations to David Barker whose debut novel, ‘Blue Gold’ was published yesterday the 11th May by Urbane Publications.  For a taster of David’s book click on the link below:-


It’s my turn on the blog tour celebrating the publication of ‘Blue Gold’ and I am delighted to be hosting a guest post written by David Barker.


Water, water, everywhere…

And not a drop to drink, as the Ancient Mariner once said. Hopefully by now you know that Blue Gold is a thriller set in the near future during a world war for water. Articles about water shortages are becoming more common. I’ve been thinking about this for the past seven years or so as I tried to craft a setting for my novel. So, what’s the problem and why is it getting worse?

Many of you may know that only 2.5% of the world’s water is drinkable, the rest being seawater. And two-thirds of the freshwater is locked up in polar icecaps or glaciers. That in itself is scary but not a problem; our ecosystem has always been like that.

The problem is a combination of three factors: demographics, economics and climate change. The demographics part is quite easy to follow. Over the next twenty years the global population is expected to rise by 20%, that’s 1½ billion people who need food and water. Unfortunately, most of those extra people are likely to be born in regions of the world already stressed by water shortages: Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Many of the countries with the biggest populations are showing economic success, raising families out of poverty towards better incomes. That, of course, is fantastic news – and an oft forgotten aspect of the global inequality debate – but richer families tend to consume more water. Their diets shift away from vegetarian to meat-based. Cattle require ten times as much water as crops do to grow. And when a family can afford its own apartment, with their own bathroom, they use more water.

So, it’s obvious that demographics and economics will boost the demand for water significantly over the next 20-30 years. The effects of climate change are more subtle. A hotter atmosphere doesn’t change the amount of water in the ecosystem. But extreme weather events – droughts and floods – are becoming more common. California just went through its worst drought in over a thousand years. Floods, oddly, are unhelpful for water supplies too because rivers and drains can’t cope with the deluge; the excess water is often contaminated and can’t be stored. The effective supply of rainwater is declining with weather extremes.

What can we do about this problem? In the first instance, we simply tap into the underground stores of water known as aquifers. But these take millennium to refill, and the rate of depletion in most suggests a looming problem.

People often assume that desalination – removing salt from seawater – can solve the problem, but even with technological improvements it’s still expensive. It leaves behind a concentration of salt that can be devastating for the local environment. Water is very heavy. If the city you are trying to supply is miles from the sea, or as in Yemen’s capital Sana’a, 7000 feet up an escarpment, you can forget about desalination as a practical source of freshwater. And desalination uses a lot of energy. It will be hard enough for us to meet the Paris Agreement on carbon emissions without the extra burden of powering desalination plants and transporting water inland.

The real solution lies in using our freshwater more carefully. Educating households and businesses on the importance of looking after this precious commodity. Reducing pollution in our rivers. Building homes that catch rainwater and use that to flush our toilets. Modernising our sewage systems. Inevitably, all of this will require a helping hand from Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’. The price of water will have to rise significantly to persuade people to take the issue seriously and to reward the innovators.

What will happen in the poorest parts of the world then? It was probably no coincidence that the Arab Spring of 2010-12 occurred during a period of rapid increases in the price of flour and bread. People like to grumble when luxury items become more expensive. People riot when basic, essential items becomes unaffordable. I hope it doesn’t come to that. It’s one prediction I’ll gladly get wrong.


Find out more about Blue Gold and me on my website:



About David Barker

David was born in Cheshire but now lives in Berkshire. He is married to an author of children’s picture books, with a daughter who loves stories. His working life has been spent in the City, first for the Bank of England and now as Chief Economist for an international fund. So his job entails trying to predict the future all the time.

David’s writing ambitions received a major boost after he attended the Faber Academy six-month course in 2014 and he still meets up with his inspirational fellow students. He loves reading, especially adventure stories, sci-fi and military history. Outside of family life, his other interests include tennis, golf and surfing.


‘Blue Gold’ can be purchased from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/blue-gold/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blue-Gold-David-Barker-x/dp/1911331655/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488657122&sr=1-1&keywords=blue+gold+by+david+barker


Blog Tour – ‘Trust Me’ by Gemma Metcalfe

I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in this blog tour celebrating Gemma Metcalfe’s debut novel. ‘Trust Me’ was published as an eBook on the 10th March 2017 by HQ Digital. I got my review copy from NetGalley.

Lana is stuck in a dead-end job working for a callcentre in Tenerife, making the sort of phone calls most people find annoying. Her boss is breathing down her neck as she hasn’t been able to sell even one holiday yet. Time is running out for her. If she doesn’t make a sale she’ll be out of a job. Dialling yet another number Lana hopes that this will be the one. Never in a million years did she expect the response she got.

Hundreds of miles away in Manchester, Liam has decided that life just isn’t worth living anymore. As he contemplates the best way to commit suicide the phone rings. At first he doesn’t intend to answer but then he decides that at least one person should know the truth before he dies, even if it is a complete stranger.

As the clock ticks, Lana and Liam find themselves sharing their deepest secrets. Will Lana be able to help Liam and stop him from committing suicide?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading ‘Trust Me’. I have to say there wasn’t much in the way of happiness in this story and I thought it to be a bit too depressing at first, but I soon found myself totally hooked and wanting to learn more about both Lana and Liam. I thought the plot based loosely on Gemma Metcalfe’s experience as a callcentre operative worked really well. Spread out over an afternoon, this story is about two complete strangers opening up to each other.

I really admired Lana and how she risked her job to try her best to help a stranger in his hour of need. At the same time though Liam was also of some comfort to Lana as she felt able to reveal her past to him. I was just itching to know why Lana had no choice but to up and leave with her daughter and to run away to a different country. Surely things couldn’t have been that bad? But as I read on things became very clear indeed and I was left shocked at what happened to Lana. Equally shocking was Liam’s story and what he had been through. I felt so very bad at the way he had been treated. I couldn’t help but hope that there would be a happy ending for them both. I think that what happens next though is left to the reader’s imagination.

‘Trust Me’ is a gripping read which will leave you absolutely aghast.

I give this book 5 out of 5.



There is a giveaway being run throughout this blog tour.  It is open to UK residents only.  For you chance to win a Boots voucher, a hardcopy of Trust Me and some surprise Boots goodies click on this link Rafflecopter Giveaway.


About Gemma Metcalfe

Gemma Metcalfe is a Manchester born author who now lives in sunny Tenerife with her husband Danny and two crazy rescue dogs Dora and Diego. By day, Gemma can be found working as a Primary school teacher, but as the sun sets, she ditches the glitter and glue and becomes a writer of psychological thrillers. An established drama queen, she admits to having a rather warped imagination, and loves writing original plots with shocking twists. The plot for her debut novel ´Trust Me,´ is loosely based on her experiences as a call centre operative, where she was never quite sure who would answer the phone…



Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01M4KBUBM/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33853393-trust-me?ac=1&from_search=true

Twitter: @gemmakmetcalfe


Interview with Patrick Garratt

It’s time for another interview now.  Patrick Garratt’s debut novel, ‘Deg’ was published last year and I asked him all about it.


Can you tell me a bit about your book, ‘Deg’ please?

Deg is screen culture paranoia, anarchic politics and drug exploration written in an automatic, surrealist style. I wrote it in a fit of desperation I doubt I could ever replicate. The diary element to its method set the form of my further books, but it now seems that opinion and inspiration based on imaginary input will alway be subservient to reportage for me. Deg was likely a once in a lifetime event.


Is this a book you’ve always wanted to write?

In a way, I suppose. I’d been working on another novel called The Ooning, which I eventually canned after two rewrites, and was spending a lot of time reading twentieth century postmodernism. That these authors could write as they pleased, with little thought for the traditional notion of readability, was revelatory. In that sense I’d always wanted to write Deg. I was just ignorant of the fact.


Where did you get your ideas for it from?

Deg is my life story, a psychedelic diary. Thematically it’s a product of my family’s environment at the time of writing. Roughly three years before I wrote Deg we’d emigrated from the UK to Corrèze, a rural department in the Limousin region of southwest France. My wife and I lived in a huge house surrounded by forests with our three small children. Corrèze is so sparsely populated that it’s possible to get back to nature in a way I didn’t realise still existed in western Europe, and I allowed myself to start using cannabis again after a long abstinence from any drugs at all, including alcohol. The result was explosive. I just let it come out.


How long did it take you to write?

I wrote the first draft in around three months. It was a little like vomiting.


Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

Absolutely, yeah. As I said, it’s a thinly-veiled diary.


What was the publication process like for you?

A little bizarre, but ultimately amazing. I tried to get Deg published via the traditional route of finding an agent, but, unsurprisingly, it got rejected everywhere. I’d moved onto writing the next book, and had given up reasonable hope of seeing Deg published at all. On the advice of a friend I approached video game artist Ste Pickford to draw the cover as a precursor to self-publication, and he liked it so much he decided to illustrate every chapter. I saw Matthew Smith, Urbane’s boss, requesting book pitches on Twitter, and he showed immediate interest.

From then the process was incredibly relaxed. Matthew is eminently professional and I couldn’t be happier with the result. The hardback really is a thing of beauty, from the physical materials to the reproduction of Ste’s drawings, and that’s all I could have hoped for. Being published by Urbane was a great experience.


Have you got any good advice for anyone wishing to write a novel?

Jeepers. So much of this depends on your goals. Many people approach writing as a career, as a job. There’s a financial element to it, as in they want to make money from novels. They attend seminars and buy places on courses and do degrees in creative writing and whatever else, eventually (hopefully) becoming trained in the creation of commercial fiction. If that’s what you want, then off you go. There’s an entire coaching industry waiting for your cash.

I always wanted to be a literary author, meaning the route to success is far muddier. The truth is that if you “want to be a writer” then you must write. Write anything, everything, in any way you want, but you must be productive. Embrace your fear and write your brain, not someone else’s. Don’t worry about making money or getting published or getting an agent. Just be as good as you can be, and that means a constant striving for personal betterment, for self-tuition and the overcoming of internal struggle. If you want to create art then learn art. Allowing yourself to be the person you want to be, to be you, could well be the hardest thing you ever do, but you’ll only reach your core by remorselessly breaching personal barriers. Stop giving a shit about the opinions of others. You won’t be recognised for replication.

To give an example. While I was working on the book following Deg, I lapsed into quite a serious period of self-doubt (yes, this is normal: few people are more pitiable than unpublished novelists), and signed myself up for a distance learning course in novel-writing. After I’d completed the first lesson, part of which was to outline my goals as a writer, the tutor told me I would never secure an agent or a deal if my work wasn’t “accessible”. Urbane signed Deg the following week. I never got round to lesson two.


Are you working on any other writing projects?

It never stops. I’ve written two full novels since Deg and I’m about to start another.


Have any authors influenced your work and if so, who?

The more experimental twentieth century postmodernists, such as Gaddis, Burroughs, Ballard, Acker and Pynchon, have heavily influenced me. Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition (it’s noteworthy as I read it just before starting writing Deg) showed me how strange fiction could be, that writing could be powerful as a result of being simultaneously formless and structured. It had a strong impact on my work.

I’m starting to read more theatre and poetry. Fiona, my wife, just passed a Masters in translation studies (with distinction, I should add: I’m very proud to be married to a genius), and she focused on Peter Weiss’s Holocaust play The Investigation for her dissertation. This type of experimental form is currently interesting me as I’ve been fixated with novel-length fiction up to now. I’ve also just finished a collection of Daniil Kharms’s poems and plays, something completely different from my usual reading. Some of his pieces are so beautiful, so insightful. It’s hard to not be influenced by him.


How long have you been a journalist for?

Forever. I started working as a video gaming journalist in 1998.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

We now live in the Vosges, a mountain region in the northeast of France, so I’m able to ski when there’s snow and go mountain biking when there isn’t. I work out a lot. Travelling is becoming a lot more important to me, and, obviously, I love to read.


If you were only allowed to own two books what would they be?

Probably Infinite Jest and Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson. Ibbotson’s my children’s’ favourite author, so it’d always remind me of when they were young. I’d take Infinite Jest because I still haven’t read the endnotes. I’m such a fraud.



‘Deg’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/deg/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deg-Patrick-Garratt/dp/1911129481/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489694327&sr=1-1

Patrick Garratt’s Personal Website – https://patrickgarratt.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/patlike

Deg Illustrator Ste Pickford’s Instagram account – https://www.instagram.com/stepickford/

Guest Post by Adam Steiner

I would like to introduce you all to Adam Steiner.  His debut novel, ‘Politics of The Asylum’ is out this autumn.   Adam has written a guest post for this event.


Notes From the Abyss

Politics of The Asylum (PoTA), forthcoming from Urbane (Autumn 2017), is a nightmare vision of the modern NHS. Based on the author’s own experiences, the novel tells the story of a hospital in decline through the eyes of a downtrodden cleaner, Nathan Finewax. As things fall apart accidents, mistakes and cover-ups are on the rise and Nathan becomes institutionalised by hospital routines, finding it harder to escape his circumstances and the inevitable fate of one day becoming a patient himself.

I wrote Politics of The Asylum with a clear goal in mind: I wanted to provide a critique of the NHS pushed to breaking point, based upon some of my own experiences working as a hospital cleaner. I started writing the book back in 2013, and it has become ever more prescient in the intervening years.

My pervading memory is a Proustian hangover of bleach. Endless bleach, washing and re-washing surfaces, day in and day out, life reduced to the mode of repetition – which ultimately made me question what the staff and patients were living for. This sounds very OTT, but at the time, I was trapped in a very debauched and damaging cycle of early-morning work and mad, wild evenings driving around country lanes of the Warwickshire hinterland, trying to find something to do and somewhere meaningful to go, with not enough sleep and steadily going out of my mind. Needless to say, there were many scrapes and much unpleasantness, but I’m glad to say I came through it, more or less undamaged, but I remember everything – and what I experienced went straight into the book. Names are changed, identities erased and the real fictionalised; in an ironic meta-sense, I’ve been as paranoiac and controlling as the NHS itself. And I’ve tried to be as respectful and secretive as I can to the dead and the damaged – but without pulling the teeth from the book.

From a political, that is to say, personal, standpoint – I believe that if we are to call ourselves a democratic society, one of our most important is to critique and question the political and civil state in which we live. So it should be with the NHS – it is an institution more meaningful to our daily lives than any monarchy could ever hope to perform – although I expect they go private – which makes them the enemy, or at least part of the problem.

The people who work as part of the NHS, dedicating their lives in order to help others, are, in my view, a form of civil servant – they have chosen this role, and with it comes certain expectations – the most crucial being the duty of care. This applies to frontline, hands-on staff, but also to all administrative bodies, up to the highest managers and directors – they would do well to remember this.

In any large organisation there is always corruption, maladjustment and the power of ego corrupted by power. And while I have to emphasise that the majority of NHS staff are excellent people with the right intentions; the purposeful dismantling of the NHS by the current occupying government is the major source of the rot which has created a climate of fear and decline in NHS behaviour and standards. I have experienced staff pushed to breaking point, attacked by the media and deliberately undermined by the state. Ultimately, this leads me to a wider philosophical concept, that undermines the unity of the NHS, the Death of Affect.

One of the major themes of my book is the nature of power relationships between individual beings; from the level of atomic exchanges of heat and energy, people pushing and shoving, and psychological manipulation of patients, staff and civilians – all of which reside in power – a preoccupation of the French philosopher, Michel Foucault. He argued that through completing an archaeological account of social and civic institutions, hospitals, asylums etc. we can draw an arrow of time through to the present, and re-evaluate how we live now. So far, so straight edge.

The minutiae of these day-to-day power relationships is embodied in the simplest of tasks; from handing a thirsty person a glass of water, listening to the lubb-dupp of their heartbeat or helping them to the toilet. These are acts of kindness, driven by duty and obligation of a role – but ultimately, these individuals are motivated by their ability to be affected by the plight and need of others. The NHS staff member is placed in an intimate position of power and responsibility, they are faced with options in their daily lives, hard choices to be made; and must make decisions of how and when to act – or not.

Death of affect is comparable to the lack of empathy present in sociopathic mindsets and psychopathological traits; where people see no need to act, let alone care, in order to help others. The pressure and pejorative scrutiny placed upon NHS staff creates this same deadening of affect – creates a failure to care or to act to the utmost of their abilities – engendering a return to the state of nature and sheer individualism – it is in this environment in which cruelty breeds and failure is accepted as a day-to-day occurrence. It is this schism in human nature, these internal tensions that are throttling the NHS that my novel explores, challenges and struggles to find the answers to.

Adam Steiner, 2017.


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