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Book Review – ‘A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza’ by Pete Adams ~ @damppebbles @nextchapterpb @Peteadams8

On Monday I took part in the blog tour for ‘A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza’ by Pete Adams and did a spotlight post.  You can see it here:-


I now have my review of this book for you all.  It was originally planned for Wednesday but that wasn’t to be.  I would like to thank both Emma Welton of Damppebbles Blog Tours and the author for my review copy.  Before you find out what I thought about ‘A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza’ here is the book blurb again.


Book Blurb

Surviving a terrorist explosion, a tutu incident, and a night of celebratory drinking, hungover hero DCI Jack Austin proposes an ill-advised alliance with a newly-turned criminal informant.

After a string of high-profile murders is committed, Austin goes deep undercover – and uncovers a villainous scheme that threatens the Star Chamber.

His world turned upside down, Austin needs to rely on courage, skill and improbable luck. But can he bring the perpetrators of the far-reaching scheme to justice?


My Review

Having read the first two books in the series I was really looking forward to getting stuck into ‘A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza’. I love the author’s style of writing; the words just jump off the pages. I also find that I never quite know what to expect next.

I felt as if I was meeting up with old friends again. I really couldn’t wait to catch up with Jack and Amanda as things seemed to be hotting up for them. OMG! Jack is just totally hilarious. The things he comes out with and seems to get away with.

There was just so much packed into ‘A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza’ and things seemed to happen at full speed. I really feared for Jack when he went and did what he felt he had to do. It showed how dedicated he was though in both his work and his beliefs. I would describe Jack as a cat with nine lives, although he would probably say he is more like a dog. So much has happened to him in such a short space of time and he is still living to tell the tale.

Some very interesting revelations came to light in this book, one of which I think the author was hinting at all along. I have so many questions though and can’t wait to see how things progress for Jack, Amanda and their families.

Pete Adams has done a good job of introducing a number of the characters and has mentioned various parts of the storyline from the previous books for the benefit of new readers. However, I would still advise to read the series from the start to get the full picture.

I really do not want this series to end and am just so glad that there are two more books to read. After that I don’t know what I’ll do.


Purchase Links

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Barrow-Boys-Cadenza-Hearts-Martinets-ebook/dp/B07RLTXLFY/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1568113734&sr=8-1

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Barrow-Boys-Cadenza-Hearts-Martinets-ebook/dp/B07RLTXLFY/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=a+barrow+boys+cadenza&qid=1568113857&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Barrow-Boys-Cadenza-Pete-Adams/9781077738805?ref=grid-view&qid=1568113887010&sr=1-1


Guest Post by Andrew Smith

I’m delighted to welcome Andrew Smith back to my blog for this event.  Last year his book, ‘The Speech’ was published and it has been doing well.  Andrew has written a guest post.



You’d think that when M.P. Harold Wilson, who was destined to become Prime Minister, patted me on my six-year-old head, he may have endowed me with an instant interest in politics. But the truth is I was a disappointment to my parents, staunch Labour supporters at the time, who’d placed me in front of Wilson at a Labour Party event. As I grew older it was painfully obvious to everybody that I had no interest whatsoever in political debate. Later, as I watched my fellow art students campaign and demonstrate, I couldn’t understand the point of making such a fuss. I was a spoilt recipient of the considerable benefits of a post-war welfare state. What reason was there for me to protest? It wasn’t until the draconian days of Margaret Thatcher, when the country became more polarised than ever, that my interest was aroused. And then it was less about policies and more about individuals. Thatcher in particular fascinated me. I wondered about a person who could inflict obvious harm on so many — miners and their families in particular, but others too — with absolutely no apparent regret, or any attempt to compensate. As politicians came and went, it was their personalities that interested me, more than any particular policy or platform.

In 2012 I found myself looking around for a subject for a second novel. My first had had an actual event at its centre — the internment of Italian men living in Britain during World War II. I’d enjoyed writing imaginary characters whose lives were immeasurably altered by that dark episode in Britain’s history. I was hoping for a similar phenomena around which to build a story worthy of a full-length novel. Then, one day, listening to a particularly bigoted and racist speech by a UKIP member — perhaps Nigel Farage — the name Enoch Powell popped into my head. I remembered the brouhaha Powell had caused when he gave his so-called Rivers of Blood speech back in 1968, when I was a student. I felt the excitement every writer wishes for when a light bulb turns on in one’s head. The late 1960s was certainly a defining time, and one with which I was familiar. And if I’ve had any small-p political zeal at all, it’s been in defence of the victimization of the less fortunate, hence my interest in the cruel internment of innocent British Italians in my first novel — the objects of UKIP’s and Powell’s racist rhetoric also had my heartfelt sympathy. The elements were all present for a project tailor-made for me.

I spent the following months researching everything I could find that concerned Enoch Powell. I poured over two comprehensive biographies, numerous newspaper and magazine articles, TV and radio interviews, documentaries, several books and academic papers on the Rivers of Blood speech, Powell’s own papers stored in Churchill College, Cambridge, and various other ephemera about him and his family. And, perhaps most valuable of all, I talked to the few surviving people who’d actually known Powell.

I remember distinctly a moment during my research when the thought occurred to me that, whatever I eventually wrote, I had a duty to do Enoch Powell justice — flawed and prejudiced as he obviously was. My resolve to portray him in an unbiased and accurate manner may have come when I began to have intimations of the complexity of his character. When, for example, I learnt that he’d voted to decriminalise homosexuality. Or when he voted to abolish capital punishment. Or maybe it was simply when I learnt from various sources, his own writing included, what a solitary and pressured childhood he’d had. The sense of journalistic fairness I experienced may well derive from my time working for a newsmagazine for which I was art director. I well remember the endless debates at editorial meetings about what could and couldn’t be reported. There were huge efforts to ensure that whatever was published was true, fair, and as unbiased as possible. The exact opposite, it seems, to the policies of some publications today, in the age of so-called ‘post-truth.’ But most of all, I realised that it was vital to make Enoch Powell — as one ought to do for any character in a novel — as fully-formed, rounded, and complete as possible.

I believe this to be true of all aspects in any historical fiction, particularly political historical fiction. And what historical fiction is not, in some shape or form, political? Successful historical fiction takes a vast amount of research coupled with a burning desire to accurately portray whatever era and individuals appear. I certainly strived to do this in The Speech — for the 1960s, for the imaginary characters who represent the population of the time, and for Enoch Powell.



‘The Speech’ is available from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/the-speech/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Speech-gripping-historical-thriller/dp/1911129511/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1489314980&sr=1-1

Twitter – @andrewaxiom


Interview with Stuart Thomson

Stuart Thomson

Stuart Thomson’s new book, ‘Public Affairs: A Global Perspective’ is out on the 24th March 2016.  I asked him a few questions.


Could you tell me a bit about your book, ‘Public Affairs: A Global Perspective’, please?

I’ve worked in public affairs for nearly 20 years and I’ve always wondered whether what I do to help organisations engage in politics and policy-making in the UK, which is what public affairs is, is the same as others do across the world, for instance in the US or New Zealand.  So that was really the starting point for this book.

It explores public affairs and lobbying in established, new and emerging democracies around the world with each chapter looking at the techniques and methods as well as discussing the political structures.

Its written by practitioners so readers really get an insight into what is involved and what people do to work with Governments.

I was really pleased when Tim Bale, Professor of Politics, at Queen Mary University London said the book “provides myriad, real-world insights into a business every bit as vital to politics and policy these days as elections are. Highly recommended for practitioners, academics, and anyone wanting to find out what it’s all about.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself!


What do you hope your readers will gain from this book?

I’m really pleased with how the book has turned out.  All the chapters are really strong but each has its own different style.  I was conscious of the need to make sure there was some variety otherwise it could get quite boring just reading about structures of government.

I think readers will see how lobbying is part of the democratic process and how good public affairs leads to better policy-making.  Its all a long way from the idea of brown envelopes changing hands so the book busts a few myths and misconceptions as well.

The book will also help readers see beyond their own national boundaries as well. That can give confidence as well as ideas and inspiration.  Readers can learn about some of the practices that work and a bit about what to avoid as well.


How long did it take you to write?

It’s an edited book so there were periods of intense activity and periods where each of the individual authors were busy doing their own thing.  From the initial conversation with Matthew at Urbane, through to identifying and contacting authors, providing them with a clear brief and requirements, getting the chapters back, commenting and discussing with authors through to finalising took around 18 months.  Now we have the marketing to deliver and sales to secure!


Have you always been interested in politics?

Totally.  From watching John Craven’s Newsround (a BBC children’s news programme) through to actively discussing issues at home when I was young, politics has always been there.  I don’t want to come across too much like a geek (well, maybe just a little bit!) but I always took great delight in having a political opinion at school and being ready to discuss points with friends and teachers.  I’m not sure all the teachers enjoyed that but I certainly did.

I did politics and economics at University and have been fortunate enough to be involved in politics through my work as well so I suppose that is a bit of an obsession.


Do you give talks on politics at all?

I do.  I often give talks on business and politics but also on public affairs as well, sometimes to graduates or those wanting to know more about what a career in public affairs might mean for them.  I’m also fortunate enough to do some media work as well so in recent months I’ve talked about the EU referendum, the Google tax issue, business growth and back in 2015 I spoke quite a lot about the General Election.

As well as talking about politics, I also run training on public affairs as well. As well as demystifying what it is all about, the training also gets some great discussions going about the challenges people and organisations have faced in engaging with government and politics, and we talk how they could have overcome them.


Are you currently working on any other writing projects?

I am hoping that a chapter I’ve contributed to a book of political ‘what ifs’ for Biteback has made the grade.  I also write quite a few articles for trade publications around more specialist technical issues as well so the writing is ongoing.  It’s something about my job that I really enjoy and value.

I’ve got a couple of other ideas as well but Matthew doesn’t know about them yet!


How did you come to discover Urbane Publications?

I worked with Matthew, the founder of Urbane, in one of his previous roles so when he went ‘solo’, I was delighted he came to me with an idea.  My first book with Urbane, ‘Public Affairs: News, Views and Hullabaloos’, was based on my blog.  To be able to work with an enthusiastic, ideas-based publisher is a dream come true.  Matthew is a pleasure to work with and I am honoured to be part of the Urbane family and it really does feel like a family.  Just without the drunken arguments at Christmas…  Actually, does that make Matthew, the patriarch of the family, a publishing Peggy Mitchell?


I see you have a blog as well.  What do you mainly write about on there?

I’ve been writing the blog for over 3 years now and it focuses on public affairs.  That gives me latitude to write about politics, communications and business.  Its quite a broad field but for those work in public affairs, we tend to have to deal with challenges from a number of sources, all the things that can come the way of politicians.  So I try to explore all of these in the blog.  I also blog for the Huffington Post and get to contribute guest posts to other sites as well.  I’m always happy to submit pieces.


What do you think about the Government?

That’s a loaded question!  This Government, and David Cameron in particular, did really well to secure a majority at the last election.  The question now is what they want to do with the five years they have in government.  There is a danger that the EU referendum takes over and then, whatever the outcome, the Conservative Party fixates on who takes over from Cameron, as he ‘pre-announced’ his intention to stand down. They are though being helped by the lack of a coherent opposition at the present time.  Jeremy Corbyn, as leader of the Labour Party, has still to assert himself on his party or the country as a whole.  I spend my time as work helping organisations work all this into the way they engage with politicians and build their reputations.  It’s a complicated time.


Are there any past Prime Ministers you’ve really admired?

Loads – they all have their own traits and simply getting to be Prime Minister is a sizeable achievement in is own right.  If I were to pick a few then I’d say Tony Blair for the way he enthused the country and won elections for the Labour Party (which historically doesn’t happen often), Clem Attlee for quite simply rebuilding the country after the devastation of World War Two and Margaret Thatcher for her dedication to her own beliefs (like them or not).


Do you find social media useful?

I love social media!  The way it allows you to engage with people is fantastic.  I know it has its much darker side but the openness and transparency it brings can only be good for democracy.  There are though still only a few politicians here that really understand it and do it well.  Done badly it just means that politicians have a new channel to broadcast their own voices and opinions.  It should all be about the engagement.  The same goes for organisations as well.


If you could be the Mayor of London for a day what would you do?

This might be a dull answer and I’d hate to end our chat on a really serious note but as the parent of a ‘soon to be going to secondary school child’ and with two others behind him, I’d sort out the availability of secondary school places.  There simply aren’t enough and that will hold London, and critically its children, back.  That and more housing, Crossrail 2, more cycle lanes, improving air quality…. I could come up with quite a list.


About Stuart Thomson

Stuart Thomson is a public affairs and communications consultant with leading law firm Bircham Dyson Bell. He advises clients on political and media engagement, reputation management and crisis communications.

As blogger for Bircham Dyson Bells ‘Public Affairs Blog’ and the author of ‘Public Affairs in Practice’, ‘New Activism and the Corporate Response’ and ‘The Dictionary of Labour Quotations’, Stuart’s reputation has seen him appear on the BBC and Sky News, judging for the PR Week and Public Affairs News awards. He now also blogs for leading news publisher, The Huffington Post.

Stuart is an honorary research fellow in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Aberdeen, and amongst it all finds time to tweet @redpolitics.


‘Public Affairs: A Global Perspective’ is available to pre-order from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/public-affairs-2/

Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/1R7L93N


Stuart Thomson’s Website – http://www.stuartthomson.co.uk/



Ringwood Publishing

Ringwood Publishing

I am very interested in learning about various publishers and what they do.  Ringwood Publishing kindly took the time to write a guest post for me.


First of all, we would like to thank Sonya for giving us the opportunity to write a piece for her blog.

Ringwood Publishing was founded by a group of Scottish friends who appreciated the difficulty of getting published in Scotland when you don’t have an agent or are not already known to the public. Creating Ringwood was an alternative to self-publishing for Managing Director and author Sandy Jamieson. His first published book, “Own Goal”, became a best-seller which allowed the company to go forward.

Ringwood quickly opened itself to other authors and has now for central mission to nurture and support new talented Scottish writers and established writers wishing to change the focus of their work. Its mission is to get their initial work published and then continue to support them and publish their further work, until such time as bigger, better–resourced publishers wish to publish them. All profits are directly re-injected in the company, in order to make future projects possible.

Ringwood is dedicated to publishing work of fiction and non-fiction, with a focus on Scottish key themes: politics, football, religion, money, sex and crime. Our catalogue contains a wide range of books, which include, amongst many fascinating titles: Carol Fox’s “Memoirs of a Feminist Mother”, a powerful and fascinating story about the author’s fight to become a single parent through infertility treatment; Sandy Jamieson’s “A Subtle Sadness”, an exploration of Scottish identity and politics; Stephen O’Donnell “Scotball”, a searing examination of the current state of Scottish football and the various social, political and economic forces that combine to strangle its integrity and potential; Jonathan Whitelaw’s “Morbid Relations”, a darkly comic take on modern Scottish life and family relationships; but also Gordon Johnston’s “Calling Card”, a crime novel which explores the impact of stress and trauma on individuals, encompassing their resort to addiction, recovery, and denial.

For more information, please visit www.ringwoodpublishing.com, where all our books can be ordered. Paperbacks and e-books are also available on Amazon.

Laure Deprez
Managing Director

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