Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Till The Dust Settles by Pat Young.

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Book summary

The lives of two women who never meet are about to collide.

Lucie married young. Her husband has become abusive, controlling and violent. Having lost everything as a result of the marriage, Lucie decides it is time to walk away.

As she leaves the house on the morning of September 11th, heading to a job interview at the World Trade Centre and the promise of a new life, the unthinkable happens.

On a street in New York, choking on the dust, Lucie stumbles upon an opportunity for a new life.

She thought the grass would be greener. But starting again is never that simple…

Sometimes, what lies ahead is even more deadly.

Review

Many thanks to Pat Young, Bloodhound books and blog tour organiser Sarah Hardy for the ARC copy of the book in return for an honest review.

From chaos can come rebirth, a chance to begin again, to start life afresh and put past mistakes behind you. This is the essence of Pat Young’s book Till The Dust Settles.  Two young women who never meet, come to together in a tale of violence, betrayal,  deception and love; but more importantly their chance meeting in the dust clouds that result from the attacks on New York’s World Trade Centre, begins a tale of the search for justice and the possibility of a life renewed.

Pat Young has delivered a first debut class thriller. She skilfully uses the horror of the collaspse of the Twin Towers and the madness that followed to weave a story that rises from the dust and horror of that day.  She gives us in Lucie, a character whom you desperately want to escape a violent marriage, and a protagonist so believeable you can almost feel wealth and power radiating from him.

From page one of Till The Dust Settles the tension leaps from the pages and what I loved about this book was the relentless pace of the story.  You can’t help turning the pages to discover Lucie’s fate.  If a book compels you to read on and on into the early hours of the morning, then its good and I was still awake past one in the morning even though my desk beckoned me the following morning. While the sense of atmosphere is skilfully written, because you can almost feel the choking cloud of dust clogging your throat, as it does the characters who live through the horrors of 9/11.

The sign of a good thriller is that it has a nugget of truth at it’s core, from which the writer weaves an intricate story, taking that as their starting point, but creating from it a tale that thrills and excites the reader. In Till The Dust Settles, Pat Young has done this very thing! A world shattering event, into which she submerges the reader, then draws them forward to a thrilling conclusion. It’s tense, exciting and just when you think its safe to relax, delivers a punch to the gut. Which forces you to sit up and readjust what you thought would be the fate of characters you had found yourself invested in.

This is yet again a first class thriller from a publisher that recognises great writing and delivers it to it’s eager readers.

Till The Dust Settles can be purchased from Amazon

Author Bio

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Pat Young grew up in the south west of Scotland where she still lives, sometimes. She often goes to the other extreme, the south west of France, in search of sunlight.

Pat never expected to be a writer. Then she found a discarded book with a wad of cash tucked in the flyleaf. ‘What if something awful happened to the person who lost this book?’ she thought, and she was off.

Pat knew nothing of writing, but she knew a thing or two about books, having studied English, French and German at Glasgow University. A passion for languages led to a career she loved and then a successful part-time business that allowed her some free-time, at last.

Pat had plans, none of which included sitting at her desk from daybreak till dusk. But some days she has to. Because there’s a story to be told. And when it’s done, she can go out to play. On zip-wires and abseil ropes, or just the tennis court.

Pat writes psychological thrillers. Till the Dust Settles is her debut, from Bloodhound Books.

Pat Young can be followed on Twitter

The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler. Translated by Charlotte Collins.

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Review

A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler was one of my favourite reads of last year.  A joy to read and proof that short novella’s can be as affecting to read as their full length cousins.  Seethaler gifted us an exquisite tale of whole life of a simple, gentle and brave man.

In The Tobacconist he again tells the tale of ordinary lives that are profoundly affected by events on the world stage.  We have 17 year old Franz, apprenticed to the tobacconist Otto Trsnyek and friend to Professor Freud.  Its a simple tale of bravery, friendship, darkness and the evil nature of those who succumbed to the influence of the Third Reich.

It’s deeply moving and painful to read on times.  Not just because of the events that rage in the background of the story, but because the simplicity of the writing seeps deep into your soul.  You’d think that reading graphic descriptions of the evil’s of the Natzi party would affect you more, but Seethaler by taking us into the heart of the people affected, makes them all too real, and when they grieve or suffer, your in the moment with them.   He shows us that there are always those who will fight to protect those they love, that hero’s don’t always wear uniforms.  The Third Reich may have been monumental and hateful, but against the compassion and courage of young men like Franz, they are ultimately impodent.

The writer has gifted us a tale that although set in a time of great evil, is radiant with the power of the human spirit at its best.  It manages to be devastatingly complex, but simple in its delivery.  Seethaler has an intimate understanding that wars and politics are grand events, but it is the simple lives that become tangled in them, when told with his wise observation, that make a far more powerful story.

The Tobacconist can be purchased from Amazon  and Waterstones.

Author Bio

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Robert Seethaler was born in Vienna in 1966 and is the author of several novels including A Whole Life and The TobacconistA Whole Life was a top ten-bestseller in Germany, and has garnered huge acclaim.

 

 

Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Little Bird by Sharon Dempsy.

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Book summary

Some secrets are best kept quiet.

Declan Wells, a forensic psychologist, has a lot on his plate. He has been struggling with the aftermath of a car bomb, which has left him in a wheelchair, his wife has been dutiful but Declan is certain she is having an affair, and his eldest daughter Lara’s new property developer husband, has dubious business practices.

Meanwhile, Anna Cole is running away from her mother’s death and a stale relationship. On secondment to the Police Service of Northern Ireland from Wales, Anna hopes that she can throw herself into work to distract herself from her guilt.

Then the murders begin and the killer leaves behind some very strange messages.

Can Anna and Declan work together to catch this deranged murderer?

Will either of them be able to get over their turbulent pasts?

Review

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour of Sharon Dempsey’s first class thriller.

Many thanks to the publisher Bloodhound books, blog tour organiser Sarah Hardy and author Sharon Dempsey for the ARC copy of the book in return for an honest review.

I’m glad to be able to say this is another top class thriller, from a publisher that just has a knack for picking fabously addictive reads and real page turners.

Sharon Dempsey has delivered an exciting new serial killer thriller! It has an edge that means its stands alone against other similar reads, the little bird of the title.  What is the connection between this little bird and the killer? Reading to sort out the connection resulted in many delightful reading hours. The story flowed perfectly, with the right balance of character development and story development.

The characters are superb. I’ve mentioned this in previous reviews, but having a strong female lead in crime novels is important.  Most such books normally feature male leads and while that is absoulutely fine, it’s good to have this addressed by a writer as skilful as Sharon Dempsey. It’s fresh, original and makes for a great role model for young aspiring readers and writers.  Anna Cole is suitably flawed enough to make her interesting enough to identify with.  Her emotional connection to her cases a powerful reflection of how such horrific cases can take over the lives of the people investigating them.

I also loved that Sharon Dempsey gave the killer a voice in this story. We get to hear his thought processes and are gifted a glance into his twisted and disturbed mind.

The fact that Anna is originally from Cardiff gave the book a personal connection to me that made it an even more enjoyable read.  It’s always a thrill to recognise places familiar to your everyday life.

The fact that we see the post troubles era in northern Ireland from her outsiders point of view gives this book another unique edge. Its fascinating how it still features so heavily in everyday life for many Irish people.  The writer uses the unnerving fact that violence still breaks out to keep the reader perched on the edge of their reading seat.  The history of the troubles is never allowed to swamp the story, but at the same time its integral to the overall unerving feel to this superb read.

I would definitely recommend it to readers looking for a thriller guaranteed to keep you turning the pages desperate to know what happens in the thrilling conculsion.

Little Bird can be purchased from Amazon

Author Bio 

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Sharon Dempsey is a Belfast based writer of fiction and non-fiction books, with four health books published. She facilitates therapeutic creative writing classes for people affected by cancer and other health challenges and runs a creative writing group for young people, called Young Scribblers, at the Crescent Arts Centre.

Sharon studied Politics and English at Queen’s University and went on to City University, London to do a postgraduate diploma in journalism.  She has written for a variety of publications and newspapers, including the Irish Times.

Through the Arts Council NI’s Support for the Individual Artist Programme (SIAP), Sharon was awarded funding, which she used to acquire mentoring from, bestselling Irish crime writer, Louise Phillips. Louise was a great support while Sharon was writing Little Bird, her first crime novel.

Sharon can be followed on Facebook.

She also has a Blog and on Twitter.

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Review~Fun, informative and inspiring reads for little people~ The Jungle Jam Books by Louise and Noam Lederman

In an inspired move husband and wife team Louise and Noam Lederman have developed a series of books aimed at 0-5 year olds. Realising that early years is lacking in innovative and inspired learning resources they decided to write a series of books.

The Jungle Jam books are fun, colourful and informative reads for parents and their little ones. While teachers can use the adventures of Mikey the Monkey and his friends to make learning fun and inspiring. The illustrations are bold and guaranteed to catch the attention of young readers, while the themes of friendship and music as an educational tool, will open their minds to such themes as accepting difference and embracing a love of adventure.

Everything about these books radiates with the love and passion Louise and Noam have for making learning fun and joyful.  The minds of very young children soak up new knowledge like a sponge, but their imaginations need to be captivated, making learning a process they want to engage in. The Jungle Jam gives parents, teachers and children a resource that will have them laughing and learning by combining reading, music and rhyming text.

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The first book in the series Jungle Jam, is about Mikey the Monkey who loves singing.  He sets off on a musical adventure and meets some friendly jungle animals who each play a different musical instrument.  Mikey and his new friends form a band calling it Jungle Jam.

Its an informative learning tool, but more importantly it’s a fun and engaging read.  Not only do you have gorgeous and bright illustrations from Jason James, you have rhyming text that has a musical feel to it. It reads out loud as if your singing the words and you find yourself smiling as you follow the band on their adventures. This is guaranteed to bring a smile to the face of any adult and child, lucky enough to be given this wonderfully fun book.

It doesn’t stop there! As an added bonus there is an activity section at the back, showing you how to make your own instruments from items that are easy to buy or probably lying around in your home.

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In the second of the series Jungle Jam In Brazil the band of friends go on a musical adventure in this exotic country.  The friends learn important life lessons and support their friend Gina the Giraffe as she learns to over come her fear of trying new things.

Once again you have a book brimming with gorgeous pictures and a story written with huge skill and a understanding of that learning needs to be fun for young children. Louise and Noam have written an absoulutely joyful book. Once again learning is through combining a rhyming text that leaps of the page, because its so beautifully thought out.  I find myself repeating the word fun over and over in this blog, but that’s because both books are packed with this very important element to young children. If a story is fun to listen to, they will want to read it over and over, and by repitation increase not only their language skills, but find a joy in reading that will follow them through not only their formative years, but give them a foundation for learning that will never leave them. At the back you have an activity page where the children are encouraged to look for musical instruments hidden in the picture and a series of informative facts about Brazil.

If your a teacher looking for a valuable learning resource for your early years class then both Jungle Jam books should be in your classroom.

If your a parent who loves to read to your child then you too should invest in this fabulous books.

They can be combined with Jungle Jam songs that can be downloaded from and child friendly products which can also be purchased from the website.

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I am excited that these two amazing children’s books will be followed by Jungle Jam in Spain in August 2017, Jungle Jam in India (September 2017) and the last in the series Jungle Jam in the U.S (October 2017).

The books can be purchased from the Jungle Jam website, while Jungle Jam and Jungle Jam in Brazil can be purchased from Amazon.  These delightful books can also be bought from Waterstones.

Author bio

The Jungle Jam series of books is published by Jungle Jam Publishing. They were created and written by husband and wife team Louise and Noam Lederman from Edgware, North London.

Noam is an author, educator and musician. He has published over 100 academic music books which have sold over a million copies wordwide. He is also the pincipal of a chain of music schools in Asia.

Louise Lederman spent many years working in Marketing, PR and Events, predominantly for charities and education companies. She worked for numerous disability charities including the National Autistic Society, Sense and Langdon, and feels she has a deep understanding of disability and SEN (Special Educational Needs). With her experience and knowledge, Louise Lederman has a vision to tailor Jungle Jam for children with SEN.

They can be followed on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Blog Tour~ Japanese Ghost Story ~The Shogun Queen

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Today I’m lucky to be part of the blog tour for Lesley Downer’s The Shogun Queen.  Lesley is taking over the blog today with a Japanese Ghost Story.  My thanks to Lesley for the invite to be part of her blog tour and I look forward to reading her debut novel.

Book summary 

The year is 1853, and a young Japanese girl’s world is about to be turned upside down.

When black ships carrying barbarians arrive on the shores of Japan, the Satsuma clan’s way of life is threatened. But it’s not just the samurai who must come together to fight: the beautiful, headstrong Okatsu is also given a new destiny by her feudal lord – to save the realm.

Armed only with a new name, Princess Atsu, as she is now known, journeys to the women’s palace of Edo Castle, a place so secret it cannot be marked on any map. Behind the palace’s immaculate façade, amid rumours of murder and whispers of ghosts, Atsu must uncover the secret of the man whose fate, it seems, is irrevocably linked to hers – the shogun himself – if she is to rescue her people . . .

Hello, Susan. Thank you for allowing me to post on your blog today! I greatly appreciate it.
I’d like to tell you and your readers a little about the world of The Shogun’s Queen – a world where people took ghosts for granted – and how I crossed paths with a Japanese ghost myself.

A TRUE JAPANESE GHOST STORY

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The Women’s Palace at Edo Castle, where most of my novel The Shogun’s Queen takes place, was full of ghosts. It was a kind of harem where three thousand women lived and only one man could enter – the shogun. The women hoped and prayed to be the mother of a child who would be the shogun’s heir, which would give them unimaginable wealth, power and influence. Amidst the endless jealousy and back biting, quite a few boy babies mysteriously died. Their spirits remained, haunting the long corridors of the castle. You could almost hear the ghostly whispers and feel the breeze of ghosts swirling around.
The Japan of my novel is a place where the natural and the supernatural regularly brush up against each other. People lived side by side with all sorts of beings, some of whom bothered them but most of whom just lived alongside them so that they came to take the supernatural for granted. There were many sorts of supernatural beings – ghosts of dead babies or of spurned women and one rather strange creature which looked like a furled paper umbrella and hopped around on its handle like a single leg, wearing a single clog and with one big eye. It was called an obaké and I once crossed paths with one. It happened when I was living in a haunted house in the small city of Kamakura …
Kamakura is to Tokyo as Oxford is to London, exactly an hour away by train. Back in the twelfth century it was the old capital. It’s a beautiful place that rambles across wooded hills, full of mossy old temples and vermilion painted shrines. It’s also a cultural centre. Many poets and artists have made their homes there.
I lived there for three years. I’d already been in Japan for two years, spoke Japanese and was familiar with the culture, language and customs.
I lived in a haunted house. No Japanese would live there, which made it very cheap to rent. As is well known, Japanese ghosts have localised interests; they torment their own family members or whoever’s done them harm but they don’t trouble people at random. They don’t bother foreigners. In any case foreigners are so radically different that even the most ferocious of Japanese ghosts would probably be a little in awe of one.
My western friends and I had no fear of Japanese ghosts and lived happily in this large, rambling, rather shabby house.
It was actually a beautiful old house. There was a tea ceremony hut and a pond with carp in it and a very overgrown garden. I never found out who the landlord was or why he kept the house. Many old houses were being torn down and replaced by apartment blocks which could be rented out for far more. But for some reason this house remained. And the ghosts kept well away – or so we thought.
Everything was fine until the third summer. That year by chance everyone went away at the same time leaving me alone in the house. I had Japanese friends over to stay.
‘Lucky you,’ I said. ‘You can have a room each!’
‘No, thank you,’ they replied. ‘That would be too frightening.’
I’d almost forgotten that the house was supposed to be haunted, added to which Japanese almost never sleep alone. In fact they all slept together in one room with their mattresses side by side down the middle of the room, not off to one side as we would put them.
Then they all left. The night after was my first on my own in the house. I was lying in my futon bedding on the straw mats of my room when I heard a distinct banging. It came from the other end of the house, from the far end of a long dark corridor.
I listened hard. It sounded like boxes being thrown around. There was no one else in the house. I was definitely all alone. It couldn’t be a human being making all that noise. I guessed it must be an obaké – an umbrella ghost – but I certainly wasn’t going to go and investigate. I pulled my covers over my head, screwed my eyes tight shut and hoped for the best.
Thereafter I stayed well clear of the end of the corridor. And when I finally came back to Britain Japan was so alive in my mind that I had to start writing about it. The latest of my novels set in this strange yet familiar world is The Shogun’s Queen.

Lesley Downer

The Shogun Queen can be purchased from Amazon

Author Bio

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Lesley Downer is an author, novelist and journalist. Her mother Chinese and father a professor of Chinese, so she grew up in a house full of books on Asia. Having travelled to Japan she became fascinated by the country, its culture and its people. Lesley lived there on and off for fifteen years and has written many books,  about this fascinating country.

Lesley can be followed on her author website.

She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter

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Blog Tour ~ Extract ~ Back story ~ Dying To Live By Michael Stanley.

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Book summary

When the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles … but where is the entry wound? When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who’d befriended the old Bushman?

As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow. A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane heroes.

Backstory

In this blog, we’d like to talk about backstories. We do so for a couple of reasons: first, backstories are very important to our stories; and second, they are often neglected in favour of a focus on character, setting, or something similar. Some crime stories don’t have or even need a clear backstory.

For us, the backstory is important because it sets our mysteries apart from a number of excellent South African writers, such as Deon Meyer, Mike Nicol, and Jassy Mackenzie to name but a few. All of them set their books in post-apartheid South Africa. The aftermath of apartheid is so strong that it is impossible to avoid if you set a book in that country.

However, by setting our mysteries in neighbouring Botswana, we can avoid the fallout from apartheid and can use other important issues present in southern Africa as a backstory.

You may ask why even have a backstory. Why not just tell the story of your mystery?

For us, the backstory is the foundation on which the story is built. And like most foundations, it shouldn’t stick out or be prominent. It would be a huge mistake to let the backstory become the story, or for the book to try to teach about the backstory. It should just be there, lying in the background.

One of the great pleasures of having backstories that are important contemporary issues is that we get to do a lot of research, reading widely, often travelling to particular locations, and sometimes talking to people with knowledge of the topic.

During our research for DEATH OF THE MANTIS, we learned that the Bushmen of the Kalahari are remarkable botanists, using their knowledge of plants to survive. They know which plants to eat, which to use for healing, and which to use for making poisons for hunting.

One such plant, has been used for centuries by Bushmen when they run after an antelope they have shot with a poisoned error. They use this plant, hoodia, as both an appetite suppressant and a provider of energy.

So, it is not surprising that South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) spotted the possible value of such a compound in the western world, where people eat too much and are trying to cut down their calorie intake. In 1972, they analyzed the plant for an active ingredient and came up with one they named P57. They then engaged in a joint venture with a British pharmaceutical company that managed to isolate the ingredient.  However, the company claimed it was difficult to synthesize and subsequently released the rights to the material. Unilever snapped them up and reportedly spent ten million pounds on trying to develop a weight-loss drug from it.

Meanwhile, various groups had mounted a campaign to ensure that the Bushmen received compensation for their indigenous knowledge that had led directly to what could be a bonanza. Amid accusations of what was called biopiracy, the CSIR was forced to respond and set up a royalty arrangement for the Bushmen.

The story didn’t have a happy ending. Unilever cancelled the project. Trials hadn’t shown significant weight loss, and had indicated a variety of side effects. The Bushmen got nothing.

We knew about this from our research and realized what a powerful backstory it would make for one of our mysteries. And it is this backstory that underpins our recently released DYING TO LIVE.

We took the Hoodia idea and asked what if a Bushman knew of a plant that would extend life for fifty or a hundred years? What would be the consequences? What would people do to get hold of the plant?

You can see how this could become the basis of a murder mystery.

So that is a brief explanation why backstories play such a strong role in our books. They give a contemporary context for our stories and provide a foundation on which to build our stories.

Michael and Stanley aka Michael Stanley

Before giving you some insight into the backstory of DYING TO LIVE, we’d like to tell you about our previous backstories. In A CARRION DEATH, the backstory is the issue of blood diamonds, which are diamonds that are illegally sold often to finance wars. Botswana has the two richest diamond mines in the world, Jwaneng and Orapa, and there are plenty of other places to find diamonds. We thought we had come up with a unique twist on blood diamonds, but discovered that some people in the small country of Lesotho thought of it also. They were sent to jail.

Our second book, THE SECOND DEATH OF GOODLUK TINUBU, has as its backstory the aftermath of the nasty Rhodesian civil war. One often reads abut the end of such wars, bt, of course, although hostilities may have ceased, the ramifications continue for a long time. We thought it would be interesting to explore what happens when two men on opposite sides of the civil war find themselves in the same guust camp.

The saddest of our backstories occurs in DEATH OF THE MANTIS, which is about the Bushmen people, the oppression they have had to suffer, and their dreams and difficulties of maintaining their culture.

DEADLY HARVEST also has a tragic backstory, namely the use of human body parts for magic potions. This story is based on a true story that happened in Botswana in the 1990s.

A DEATH IN THE FAMILY sets a mystery on a backdrop of the increasing presence in Africa of the Chinese. They are everywhere, not always welcomed, and sometimes ruthlessly exploiting the local people and economies.

And so to DYING TO LIVE.

Dying To Live can be purchased from Amazon

 

Author Bio

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Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip.

Both are retired professors who have worked in academia and business. Sears is a mathematician, specializing in geological remote sensing. Trollip is an educational psychologist, specializing in the application of computers to teaching and learning, and a pilot. They were both born in South Africa.

They have been on a number of flying safaris to Botswana and Zimbabwe, where it was always exciting to buzz a dirt airstrip to shoo the elephants off. They have had many adventures on these trips including tracking lions at night, fighting bush fires on the Savuti plains in northern Botswana, being charged by an elephant, and having their plane’s door pop open over the Kalahari, scattering navigation maps over the desert.. These trips have fed their love both for the bush, and for Botswana.

It was on one of these trips that the idea surfaced for a novel set in Botswana.

Keep up with the adventures of Detective Kubu on the author’s Webpage

They can also be followed on Twitter

 

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Blog Tour ~Review~Thomas The Troll’s Travels by Nicolas Starling.

 

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Book summary

Thomas the Troll comes from Norway. Like most Trolls he is mischievous, naughty and full of adventure.
One day, he has to leave Norway because the troll elders are going to punish him for being so cheeky.
Thomas decides to live in England and has had all kinds of adventures on the way there.
He meets elves, gnomes and brings Ticklefish with him; Ticklefish are great fun and nearly as naughty as Trolls.
Thomas meets pirates a friendly ghost and even thinks he’s sees the queen!
Some people think Trolls are a fairy tale. I don’t. Do you?

Review

Many thanks to the author, Clink Street Publishing and Rachel Gilbey for the ARC copy of Thomas The Troll’s Travels in return for an honest review.

This a sweet and amusing tale for young readers.  Ideal for parents to read to very young children or for more independant readers as one of their first full length books.

Thomas the Troll is delightfully mischievous and full of a sense of adventure.  He travels from his home in Norway and undertakes an journey through London and all the way up to Scotland.  The supporting cast of new friends he makes, give the novel its sense of joyful inclusion.  We have Thomas’s Troll girlfriend, an Elf, a Gnome, the Queen of England and some magical fish that tickle those they come across.

The book’s strength, comes from the simplicity of the story.  The focus is on captivating its audience with the themes of adventure, friendship, fun and enjoyment.  The language is easy to read and importantly never uses words that might trip up the reading age it is aimed at. Thinking of my god children running around the garden together, with imaginations running riot, adventures being had, reminds me of the feel of Thomas The Troll’s Travels.  

If you are looking for a sweet and endearing book for the little people in your life, then give this lovely book a read.

You can buy this book from Amazon

Author Bio 

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Living in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, retired Butcher Nicolas Starling has always enjoyed entertaining people both young and old with his vivid imagination.

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Blog Tour ~ Inspiration behind a novel ~The Shield by C J Bentley

 

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Book Summary

People lose their belongings. That is a fact of life. It can happen by accident, but sometimes it can happen when you put them in a very safe place and forget where that safe place is. Not many people are good at finding them again.
A young, gutsy girl with a kind heart, who’s searching for her own identity growing up in the 1960s, just happens to be very good at finding things. Can she be the one to help return whatever is lost – anywhere and at any time – to its original owner?
With the help of a beautiful yet mysterious wise woman and a chivalrous knight she does just that. She finds and returns his shield, lost in battle, which unbeknown to her holds a secret that is important to his King, the safety of the Kingdom and the life of the daughter of his best friend. The Shield is the first story in The Finder Series, taking our heroine on extraordinary journeys back in time. Her first adventure takes place in Medieval England in 1340 where she meets King Edward III, his wife Philippa and their son, who will later become the Black Prince.

The inspiration behind the writing of The Shield

When writing “The Shield” the memory that as a young girl and whilst fishing for small fish in the local stream close to where we lived, a friend and I found a shield in the silt at the bottom of the stream. As there were just the two of us and it was very heavy we, having identified it, returned it to the silt. The idea for the book was then firmly lodged in my brain waiting for the correct time for me to write about what might happen if it had been found and kept. Therefore the period really chose me rather than my choosing the period. It had to be a time when shields were used and so from researching when to pinpoint Sir Kay, (it was always going to be Sir Kay) losing his shield in battle against villains, I felt compelled to find out when was a particularly lawless time in English history and I had plenty to choose from.

King Edward the third’s reign with his constant fighting against the French, Welsh, Scots and his barons drew me towards further research, when I further discovered he and his Queen were married in York Minster and held their court at York when they travelled to the North, discovering that their son was born in 1330 I decided to set this story in 1340, thus the young Prince Edward was ten years old and therefore the same age as the main protagonist.
It all very strangely seemed to fall into place as I was researching. The Battle of Sluys, where Edward’s English navy fought the French fleet and won, was an important battle of the time as it saved England from another French invasion, the first being 1066. The shields secret was to help warn Edward of the coming battle to make sure the English won. I did ‘bend time’ a little as the battle is recorded as taking place in June 1340 and my story takes place at the start of the school summer holidays towards the end of July. As the story takes place in two periods of time, the sixties when the girl is growing up and 1340 where she is taken back to have her adventure then my ‘bending’ of the time period by a month I felt was vindicated.
During the summer months we live in France, close to ‘La Route de Richard Coeur de Lion’ in the Limousin, a very beautiful area of France. Being on his route down to the south coast of France where he sailed to the crusades in the Holy Lands, it is an area full of Richard the Lionheart’s staging castles, some built by his great grandfather Henry the second and some by Kings of France. The castle at Chalus is where Richard was fatally injured by an arrow fired by a cook who worked in the castle kitchens. Not a very glamorous way for the great soldier to die.
We have found large worked stones in our garden, (but now utilised in our house) that previous owners from the past collected from the ruins of the local chateau. It never ceases to amaze me of the ability of the stone masons to face these stones and carve intricate markings on them with the basic of tools. If I take a walk from our hamlet to the next one, you pass ancient and interesting buildings with Templar markings on their walls as the Templars and the Hospitaliers were everywhere in this area in years gone by. Living with all of this history on my door step and being naturally curious and with so many medieval buildings in villages surrounding where I live, this has obviously had an effect on me. I read books on that period of history about Richard the Lionheart and the life he led as a great soldier, away from home as a young man fighting in wars overseas and as a man who was unsure of his sexuality, his hatred for his father and love for his mother. The more I read about the time the more curious I become and may even research and write more about that period in the future, although Richard was not the greatest of the Kings of England, even though Hollywood might portray him as a handsome and charismatic man the truth was very different. Most of his time as King was spent abroad with the actual time of his reign in his Kingdom being recorded as a matter of months.

The Shield can be bought from Amazon

Author  C J Bentley 

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About the author: Originally heralding from the North of England, C.J Bentley has travelled extensively and enjoyed living in a variety of countries across the world from Dubai to Doha, Qatar and now the countryside in the South of France. A background in teaching and childcare she has always enjoyed creating adventure short stories. However, it was when she became a grandma and with her grandchildren growing up that she discovered that books seemed to contain only stories of vampires, zombies and farts that she decided seriously to take matters into her own hands and put pen to paper which today she calls The Finder Series.

The author can be followed on Facebook, Twitter , and her author website.

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Blog Tour ~ Extract ~ The Rainbow Player by David Kerby- Kendall.

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Welcome to my blog where today I’m proud to be able to share an extract from The Rainbow Player.

Many thanks to the author David Kerby-Kendall, the publishers Clink Street Publishers and tour organiser Rachel Gilbey for the chance to take part in the blog tour.

Book summary – The Rainbow Player

England footballer, Sammy Hatchington, has never considered sexuality before. As a teenager, Sammy broke the mould of his youthful peers with his desire to open the door to life’s endless possibilities. He escaped a deprived estate and, with the help of Old Thomas, his surrogate father, Davey, his soul-mate, and Gran, the connoisseur of footballer’s bottoms, launched himself on a path toward his personal and professional goals. Now, several years later, he must make a decision that could destroy everything he has fought for, and create a furious media frenzy……… David Kerby-Kendall’s joyous and witty novel challenges preconceptions about professional sportsmen and love, and is also a delightful and moving story of a young man’s journey to self-knowledge.

EXTRACT FROM
THE RAINBOW PLAYER
by DAVID KERBY-KENDALL

I didn’t question what was happening between us. Looking back I wonder why I didn’t. I’ve always been easily led, but I’m not entirely sure he was always leading. If he was, I acquiesced without any disagreement. I didn’t even consider what we were doing. I didn’t judge it; I didn’t search for reasons or excuses.

There can only really be two explanations for this. Maybe I was in denial and not to analyse the situation was the easiest option. Or maybe there were no problems to solve because there were no questions to answer. Whatever it was, I had accepted this new addition to my life as if I’d known all along that I would end up having a relationship with a man.

Of course, I’d always been tactile with my close male friends: Seb, New Tommy; Davey especially. And this was evident, too, in my footballing life. In the changing rooms, on the playing field, within the bubble of our own environment, there was no embarrassment at the touch of physicality. It was a weird mixture of masculinity and the innocence of boys at play. If Freud had still been around, he would, no doubt, have refereed the game; black shorts and shirt, blowing the whistle at every point where the aggression of physical contact, the feigned machismo of the playfight, the touch of crotch on crotch at the scoring of a goal, could be construed as a muslin-veiled substitute for sex.

I don’t know. If you constantly analyse life, there’s no time left to live it.

Prisoners use each other. Soldiers at war use each other. Perhaps because there are no women. Perhaps because there is some comfort in it, some escape from their situation. And many of them fall in love with each other. Maybe then, the brute physicality of the sexual act brings down the masculine barriers, the pre-set extents of male behaviour, and allows real feelings to surface.

I don’t know.

All I know is that, when I awoke the next morning, Alex’s breathing falling rhythmically on my back, I felt no embarrassment, no shame, no downgrading of my manhood. I felt happy, I felt normal. As sunlight engulfed his bedroom, I rolled onto my side and smiled at somebody I loved.

The Rainbow Player can be purchased from Amazon

About the author:

Originally from Leicester, David Kerby-Kendall now lives in Muswell Hill, North London. He is an actor who began writing in 2007. From the success of his first play, Save Your Kisses For Me, he became the in-house writer for Heartbreak Productions, writing and adapting plays for national tours, including three David Walliam’s novels (Mr Stink, Ratburger and Billionaire Boy) as well as several other novels: Pride And Prejudice, The Secret Garden, Peter Pan and Dracula. His second play, The Moon Is Halfway To Heaven, was produced at Jermyn Street Theatre, London. He has two new plays in the pipeline: 20:40 which deals with depression and Gay Pride And No Prejudice, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s famous novel.

The author can be followed via Twitter  and his author website.

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Blog Tour ~ Author Spotlight ~ Discoucia by Nick Lovelock.

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Welcome to my blog where today I am lucky to be able to share Nick Lovelock’s thoughts on his book Discoucia.

Many thanks to Nick Lovelock, publisher Clink Street publishers and blog tour organiser Rachel Gilbey for the invite to be part of his blog tour.

Book summary

Revolution, romance and technological wonders are all in a day’s work for the decorated hero of Alavonia, Sir Arthur Pageon.
An acclaimed explorer and inventor, Sir Arthur Pageon takes his unofficial role as defender of the realm of Alavonia very seriously. A fantastical world, Alavonia is home to the Discoucian Monarchy, as well as monstrous creatures and secretive academies for the highly gifted.  Upon returning from his most recent exploits aboard on his personal flying galleon The Nostradamus, Pageon is treated to a hero’s welcome and celebratory procession through the streets of Alavonia’s capital, Evermore. Little does Pageon know he’s being followed by a mysterious group known as the Purple Guard, whose devious leader is his estranged sister, Queen Lily Pageon of Harrha Island. Fiercely intelligent, Lily specialises in dastardly technological inventions with the aim of bringing down the Discoucian Monarchy so that she may reign as its dictator. However, the heir to the throne is one Princess Josephine Olandine, whose youth and royal position masks her role in the Discoucian Secret Service.
Joining forces, Princess Josephine and Sir Arthur’s adventures will take them across the whole of Alavonia — from the fog-bound shores of Karga, to the secret underground shanty town beneath the frozen prison of Icester, south to the verdant city of Proceur and from there to the affluent Starfall Academy — in their quest to foil Lily’s revolutionary plans.

Books Spotlight

What I hope people will enjoy about Discoucia is the episodic content of how the action takes place. I like Anime series that have one story which is broken up into episodes and have action that is resolved in one episode but there are still overarching events that all come together on the penultimate or last episode. This makes the book easier to follow and allowed me to put the action in different elements, with Icester Prison representing Air, The Hot Fog of Karga representing Fire, The Blue Coven in Cesta is Water and Starfall Academy representing Earth.
The character of Archie is someone that I loved building up, since she started as an omnipotent god but became an elemental goddess in command of water. She has a lovely personality but gets into trouble since she has no idea how to act in true polite society. This becomes more apparent in books 4, 5 and 6 in what will be ‘The Air Trilogy’, when she changes her appearance to become a child again and assist Arthur and Jo’s children since they become more vulnerable after being raised with every privilege.
Sir Arthur Pageon as a character is the perfect foil of his sister Lilia, who has discovered that life becomes easier when you don’t fight the system or rock the boat but goes beyond his orders to save his sister from herself. He makes her bad qualities seem insignificant while trying to bring out her good qualities. Lilia wants to conquer the empire but by the time Arthur saves her she has all the ideas and the means but makes mistakes that can only come from her subconsciously wanting to fail and to go with her brother. She puts him into a mathematical trap that she knows he will escape from and leaves the time machine idling with one time stop left so she knows he will do something to stop her.
The moral of Arthur and Lilia’s tale is that the children suffer at the hands of the parents when they lose sight of what is important. Their father turned Lilia into a power hungry monster and drove Arthur away to the other side of the empire, while their mother died due to not escaping the family manor in time. It is slowly revealed that their mother was a morbid alcoholic and she left the raising of the children to a governess or a nanny as was the way in the Victorian and Edwardian era.
Princess Josephine begins to love Arthur for his loyalty to his family, and he proves to be an enigma to her thanks to what he does as opposed to what people say about him. All the information she has about him comes from his reputation and this is what she uses as a basis for her opinion of him. She wants to have a normal life and as such was relieved to find out that her sister Princess Alexandra was the one who would become Queen while she would remain a Princess. She doesn’t really behave as a Princess especially on the island of Availa when she does her best to beat Archie at an eating contest, it ends in a draw but her ladylike facade is destroyed with the copious amounts of barbecue sauce around her mouth.
The characters are what I loved to create the most because they could all have their own little identities and will develop over the course of the Alavonia Series, and my favourite character is that of Alicia May. She appears near the end of Discoucia and assists Archie’s nemesis Professor Cordelia Paradise in book number two before going off on her own in her own novel, The Goddess Called Alicia May. She begins as a school girl and moves up to becoming an arch villain in book 4 before undergoing a transition later on.
Discoucia continues on to Gemenicia, a quest to heal the continent using sixteen gems hidden in the sixteen cities, the only problem is that they are a beautiful treasure and no Lord or Lady would be prepared to part with. Archie, Arthur and Jo have to use their powers of persuasion and courage to capture the gems, since one is hidden deep below the sea in a sunken temple, another is kept by a secretive coven of Red Witches and one is kept in a pile of treasure so large it would take a lifetime to separate it from the other diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.

The book can be bought from Amazon.

Author spotlight

About the author: Based in a small village in Oxfordshire Nicholas Lovelock is the author of the Alavonia series. As well as a passion for history, Nick holds a keen interest in Numismatics —the study and collection of coins, banknotes and medals— counting a 200 year-old 1826 half-crown and coinage of monarchs like Queen Anne, Elizabeth the First and Henry the Eighth as part of his collection.

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