The Lady Evelyn Mysteries: The Goldon Hour by Malia Zaidi

The Golden Hour cover

 

London 1927

Lady Evelyn Carlisle has barely arrived in London when familial duty calls her away again. Her cousin Gemma is desperate for help with her ailing mother before her imminent wedding, which Evelyn knew nothing about! Aunt Agnes in tow, she journeys to Scotland, expecting to find Malmo Manor in turmoil. To her surprise, her Scottish family has been keeping far more secrets than the troubled state of their matriarch. Adding to the tension in the house a neighbour has opened his home, Elderbrooke Park, as a retreat for artistic veterans of the Great War. This development does not sit well with everyone in the community. Is the suspicion towards the residents a catalyst for murder? A tragedy at Elderbrooke Park’s May Day celebration awakens Evelyn’s sleuthing instinct, which is strengthened when the story of another unsolved death emerges, connected to her own family. What she uncovers on her quest to expose the truth will change several lives forever, including her own.

With the shadow of history looming over her, Evelyn must trust in her instinct and ability to comb through the past to understand the present, before the murderer can stop her and tragedy strikes again.

I’m welcoming Malia Zaidi to booksaremycwtches today with a fascinating post about how an author decides on the setting of their novel. 

Writing What You Know

I have heard the advice “Write what you know” from many well-known authors, and I am sure, if you are interested in writing yourself, so have you. Though to an extent, I agree, it does help to write about a subject or a setting familiar to you, so much of the writing process takes you almost unconsciously into realms of the unknown. Certainly, this is the case when writing fiction. Part of the pleasure of writing is escaping into the unknown and exploring what will come of the leap. You can lose yourself in a realms and characters’ minds of your own making. A writer of fiction will revel in the bliss of allowing his or her imagination to stretch to places they have never been and faces they will never encounter in real life. Of this, great heroes can be born, the worst villains, or simply very human characters with very human problems readers can identify with.
That being so, I must acknowledge it also depends on the genre in which you write. In terms of fantasy or science fiction, you are likely creating a whole new world with your imagination, while historical or literary fiction do tend to require adherence to a recognizable reality and significant research can be demanded. For my own books, I have tried to find a sort of middle ground between writing what I know and allowing my creative energies free reign. I write historical mysteries and thus a considerable amount of research and a grounding in fact is necessary. The characters are entirely of my own making and the setting – though I have visited it before – is essentially unknown to me the way it was in the period my novels are set in, the 1920s. The Golden Hour is largely set in Scotland, and though I was lucky to visit the village of Falkland and St. Andrews to form an idea of both places in my mind, the atmosphere of life there a century ago was not entirely accessible to me. Nonetheless, I had studied this time period before for my previous books and could blend what I knew with what I had seen and the workings of my imagination to craft what I hope is a believable setting. My prior research and eagerness to absorb and learn as much as I could about this time gave me a grounding which I could use to place my story, a story that was still unfolding in my mind as I wrote it. Striking a balance between the known and leaping into the exciting black hole of mystery involved in the writing process is what makes it so enjoyable to me.
In the end of the day, the important thing is simply to sit down and write and be consistent. If writing what you know helps you to get a story down on paper (or rather Word Doc), do it. If you need the unknown to spur your imagination to mysterious places, ignore any rules and just go for it. That’s the beauty of writing and of storytelling, there are no limits.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

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About the author

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Malia Zaidi is the author of the Lady Evelyn Mysteries. She studied at the University of Pittsburgh and at the University of Oxford. Having grown up in Germany, she currently lives in Washington DC, though through her love of reading, she resides vicariously (if temporarily) in countries around the world.

You can follow the author on Twitter, Facebook, WebsiteBlog and Goodreads.

The Golden Hour Blog Tour

 

 

#Review #BlogTour~After Jessica by Morgen Bailey

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Jessica is an ordinary girl who comes across extraordinary circumstances and pays for them with her life. As well as identifying her body, her brother Simon then has to wind up her affairs but gets more than he bargains for. Who is Alexis, and why are Veronica and Daniel searching for her? Why is there a roll of cash in Jessica’s house, and what’s the connection between his sister and Alexis?

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

It read like a dream, so much so, I finished it in virtually one sitting! Cwtched up in bed on Saturday night, I whizzed through it and loved every moment. Great escapism and a really enjoyable read, all rolled into a perfectly formed novella. It was only when I looked up after finishing it, that I realised how much time had passed, lost in the story the writer had created. For a few hours I was able to leave the world behind and all the political turmoil and get lost in an extremely readable story.

As for the story itself, it is a good old fashioned mystery. Not overly complicated, it starts from the premise, that from the death of one person the repercussions can reverberate out affecting so many people, especially when the death is tragic and unexpected. Jessica leads a double life, the strands of which begin to unravel after her death. The writer weaves all of the people affected by this in and out of the story and does so in imaginative ways. No thread is left unresolved and it makes for a very satisfactory read. There were a few characters I would have liked to get to know a bit better, what happens to Simon’s budding relationship for example, but this is a novella and therefore should be judged against how well the story was formed within the shorter narrative! The writer packs a lot into the story and does so both in an entertaining and enjoyable way and therefore it works. On top of that it is nice to be left wondering sometimes and not have everything tied up neatly at the end!

The story was exciting, addictive and very enjoyable. I would definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a short read that doesn’t compromise on story and entertainment.

You can purchase this novella from Amazon

About the author 

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Morgen Bailey (Morgen with an E) is an author (of novels, short stories, writing and editing guides), freelance editor (for publishers and indie authors), writing tutor (in person and online), Writers’ Forum magazine ‘Competitive Edge’ columnist, blogger, speaker, and co-founder of Northants Authors. The former Chair of three writing groups, she has judged the H.E. Bates Short Story Competition, RONE, as well as the BBC Radio 2, BeaconLit, and Althorp Literary Festival children’s short story competitions. She also runs her own monthly 100-word competition. 2018 events include talks and workshops at Troubador’s Self Publishing Conference speakers, workshops and panels at Delapre Book Festival, interviewing and workshops at BeaconLit, and NAWG Fest with her ‘Editing your Fiction’ weekend residential course. Morgen can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and many others. Her blog is http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, and email address morgen@morgenbailey.com.

You can follow the author on Twitter and Facebook.

BLOG TOUR (3)

#Review #Blogtour Chicken’s Eat Pasta: Escape To Umbria by Claire Pendrick.

Chickens Eat Pasta Cover

Not just another romance, but a story of escapism, coincidences, friendship, luck and most of all… love. Chickens Eat Pasta is the tale of how a young Englishwoman starts a new life after watching a video showing a chicken eating spaghetti in a mediaeval hill village in central Italy.  “Here I was, 26 years old, alone and numb with boredom at the prospect of a future which until recently had seemed to be just what I wanted.” Unlike some recent bestsellers, this is not simply an account of a foreigner’s move to Italy, but a love story written from the unusual perspective of both within and outside of the story. As events unfold, the strong storyline carries with it a rich portrayal of Italian life from the inside, with a supporting cast of memorable characters. Along the way, the book explores and captures the warmth and colour of Italy, as well as some of the cultural differences – between England and Italy, but also between regional Italian lifestyles and behaviour. It is a story with a happy ending. The author and her husband are still married, with three children, who love the old house on the hill (now much restored) almost as much as she does.  Chickens Eat Pasta is Clare’s autobiography, and ultimately a love story – with the house itself and with the man that Clare met there and went on to marry. If you yearn for a happy ending, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a story that proves anything is possible if you only try.

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Review

You can purchase this from Amazon UK and America in book format.

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.
There were many things that I enjoyed about this book, the sense that anything in life is possible if you are willing to take a leap into the dark, to take a chance on a new life. It really comes across in such a positive way, even with the all the hurdles she faces, you really feel that she made a life many of us dream about. I also loved that this is not one of those women makes romantic move to be with the man of her dreams, it is all about the leap of faith she took as a single, capable women and the new life she forged for herself.
I also loved the style in which it was written. You feel throughout that your there in Italy with her! The friends she makes are written in such a way, it sometimes felt that I knew them myself, so vivid were the descriptions of their characteristics, even down to the gestures they make when they are agitated or happy. The writer also built up in my mind the beauty of the area she moved to and when I saw the pictures provided of the house she had purchased and renovated, it was exactly how I thought it would look, just from reading the text. The writing imbues the story with a sense of love and creates images of where she was living after moving there from Brighton.
It takes bravery to make a new life away from what is familiar, create a home, start a new job and that really comes across. Yes there are dips and wobbles, but that all part of what made this book such an interesting read for me. I’m not the type of person who could take a leap of faith in this way, but reading this book, gave me a window into what it is like to do so. It opened up a new world for me as a reader. Books enable us to take journeys from the comfort of our homes, if it’s not possible for us take up our own challenge and then we can do so with others and Chickens Eat pasta gave me that chance to gaze into another world and it was a genuinely enjoyable read. For a few hours I was in Italy and I recommend that others do the same by reading this charming book.

Or in Audio format UK and America.

You can also enter a Giveaway to Win an audiobook copy of Chickens Eat Pasta (Open Internationally) by following this LINK.
Winner gets to pick between audible and ibooks audio code
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

About the author

Chickens Eat Pasta Author Photo

Clare Pedrick is a British journalist who studied Italian at Cambridge University before becoming a reporter. She went on to work as the Rome correspondent for the Washington Post and as European Editor of an international features agency. She still lives in Italy with her husband, whom she met in the village where she bought her house.

Chickens Eat Pasta
You can follow Clare on her Facebook Book page, her own Facebook page and Twitter.
Read her blog about life in Umbria here.

Chickens Eat Pasta Full Tour

#Extract #BlogTour – Culmfield Cuckoo by Celia Moore.

Culmfield Cuckoo Cover (1)

Culmfield Cuckoo
When Billy reaches out to help, her kindness brings many changes which threaten hopes, homes, and even the people she loves the most.
Who is the Culmfield Cuckoo?
Will they help Billy get her life back? Or is the Cuckoo the cause of everything that is going wrong?
Who is telling the truth?

EXTRACT ~ BLOG TOUR ~ culmfield cuckoo BY CELIA MOORE #SAGA #ROMANCE #mystery
In March, I shared an extract from Celia Moore’s Fox Halt Farm, so today, I am delighted to be featuring an extract from its sequel, Culmfield Cuckoo. Celia’s recently published Culmfield Cuckoo can also be read as a standalone novel.

Extract:
“… ‘Nothing for me, thank you,’ Jessie says, cutting through my thoughts. ‘I’m going to ring Michael and ask him to pick us up.’
‘Can’t you leave it for a while?’ I ask. ‘As soon as he knows where you are, he’ll come. Why don’t you let Mary have some time to talk things through with you?’ I look at the girl. ‘She might talk to me?’ I say.
Mary keeps her head down; just like Wallace, who is still paying no attention to the dog.
Jessie follows my lead. ‘It’s always good to talk, don’t you think?’ she asks me, again talking loudly.
‘Definitely,’ I agree but Mary still doesn’t react.
‘Okay, Billy, I won’t ring him yet,’ Jessie says, her eyes fixed on her daughter.
‘May I go and see how the cheese is made?’ Mary asks, and I realise this is the best idea yet, my mother can get anyone to confide in her. ‘Yes, sweetheart, of course you can,’ I reply.
‘Thank you, Auntie. I’ll have the drink later.’ Mary transfers the cat to her mother’s knees.
‘Come on then,’ I say.
Inside the dairy, I kit Mary out with wellington boots, my protective white coat, hat and hairnet. My mother is thrilled to see her visitor and immediately steers her away. ‘I’ll show you everything,’ she tells Mary. ‘I have a little job you can help me with.’
The white coats walk away without another word…”

You can purchase the novel from Amazon UK and Amazon US

You can also enter a Giveaway to Win a £15 / $15 Amazon Gift Card (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Rafflecopter Link.

About the author

Culmfield Cuckoo Author Photo

Celia Moore (1967-now) grew up on a small farm near Exeter. She had a successful career as a Chartered Surveyor working in the City of London before working her way back to Devon. In 2000, she left the office to start a new adventure as an outdoor instructor, teaching rock climbing and mountaineering. Today she gardens for a few lovely customers, runs and writes (accompanied at all times by a border terrier x jack russell called Tizzy). She is running the London Marathon in April 2019 for three cancer charities.

You can follow the author on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Culmfield Cuckoo Full Tour Banner

#Extract #Blog Tour ~ The American Agent – A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear.

 

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When Catherine Saxon, an American correspondent reporting on the war in Europe, is found murdered in her London digs, news of her death is concealed by British authorities. Serving as a linchpin between Scotland Yard and the Secret Service, Robert MacFarlane pays a visit to Maisie Dobbs, seeking her help. Accompanied by an agent from the US Department of Justice—Mark Scott, the American who helped Maisie escape Hitler’s Munich in 1938—he asks Maisie to work with Scott to uncover the truth about Saxon’s death.

As the Germans unleash the full terror of their blitzkrieg upon the citizens of London, raining death and destruction from the skies, Maisie must balance the demands of solving this dangerous case with her need to protect the young evacuee she has grown to love. Entangled in an investigation linked to the power of wartime propaganda and American political intrigue being played out in Britain, Maisie will face losing her dearest friend—and the possibility that she might be falling in love again.

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I’m delighted  today to be featuring an extract from The American Agent on booksaremycwtches.

Extract

Maisie had just begun to draw back the blackout curtains at her Holland Park flat when the telephone in the sitting room began to ring.
“Blast!” She had a mind to ignore the call, but thought better of it—she had not been able to return to her property in Kent for several days, and as much as she would like nothing more than to sink into a bath filled with hot water, the call might be about Anna—and there were many things to concern her about Anna.
“Good morning,” said Maisie. “Busy night?” The voice was unmistakable. “Robbie MacFarlane, you should know better than to ask, and in that tone—it was a terrible night, and it’s not a bloody joke you know.” Maisie knew her reply was uncharacteristically short, but at that mo- ment she was too tired to deal with Robert MacFarlane.
“My apologies. Yes, you’re right. I heard you were out on more than a few runs to the hospitals last night. I’m sorry.”
Maisie chewed her lip. It wasn’t like MacFarlane to request forgive- ness. She knew him only too well, and if he was rude, it was generally by design, not an error.
“Why are you calling me, Robbie? You’ve let me know you’re keep- ing tabs on me, but I am bone tired and I want to rest my weary head before I try to get some work done today, and then take my ambulance out again.”
“It’s about an American. One of those press people over here on a quest to keep our good friends on the other side of the Atlantic informed about the war. Name of Catherine Saxon. In fact, Miss Cath- erine Angelica Saxon, to give the woman her full moniker.”
“Angelica? ” “No accounting for the Yanks, Maisie.” Maisie rubbed her neck, following the path of an old scar now barely visible, and shivered. “No, it’s just that . . . well, she was with us on the ambulance last night, just for a couple of runs because she had to make her first broadcast—she told us that she had previously only had her reports printed in the newspapers. I can’t remember which papers she’s working for. More than one. Anyway, I was just listen- ing to her on the wireless at Mrs. Partridge’s house—her report was broadcast for the Americans last night. In fact, she told us she was very excited because it was also going out in London this morning, and she hoped she would get to be as popular as Mr. Murrow, who is as well known here as he is over there in America. I’ve heard him a few times myself. Anyway, it’s just that she didn’t strike me as an Angelica, that’s all, even if it’s only a middle name.” Maisie was aware that she was rambling, staving off whatever news MacFarlane had called to convey. She’d wanted to escape war and death if only for the time it took to wallow in a hot bath.
“Well, hold on to your seat, Maisie, because she’s with the angels now.”
“Robbie? What’s happened? Was the poor girl caught in the bomb- ing on her way home? Or were her lodgings hit?” Maisie felt a chill envelop her. She knew the gist of MacFarlane’s response even before he spoke.
“No, lass. She’s been found dead in her rooms at a house on Wel- beck Street this morning. And we can’t lay this one at Hitler’s feet— she was murdered. Twenty-six years of age and someone saw fit to slit her throat.”

You can purchase the book from Amazon

About the author

jacqueline-winspear-press

Jacqueline Winspear is the author of the New York Times bestselling Maisie Dobbs series, which includes In This Grave Hour, Journey to MunichA Dangerous PlaceLeaving Everything Most LovedElegy for Eddie, and eight other novels. Her standalone novel, The Care and Management of Lies, was also a New York Times bestseller and a Dayton Literary Peace Prize finalist. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in California.

You can follow the author on Facebook and her website.

The American Agent Blog Tour Poster