A Summer Holiday Read! Blog Tour and Book Review : The Heat is On by Helen Bridgett #LoveBooksGroupTours

Heat is On (1)

I am delighted to be a part of another LoveBooksGroup Blog Tour!  Just right for summer.

The wonderful middle aged ladies Angie and Patty, along with their best friend Charlie are back to add some sparkle to the summer.  Angie and Charlie are running their successful travel agency, the Mercury Travel Club, their friend Patty has just returned from performing on cruise ships and all three are in new relationships.

Angie has bought her first home since her divorce; her daughter Zoe is living in New York and she has a wonderful new man in her life.  She has won a local Business Entrepreneur Award and the travel agency has been going from strength to strength.  Life is good!  But this is all to change when Lorenzo enters their world with his new brand of travel agency that he opens in a shop directly opposite The Mercury Travel Club.  Suddenly the friends find themselves desperately fighting for their business as they are undercut and thwarted at every turn by the devious Lorenzo – can they find ways to remain one step ahead with innovative and fun ideas, to maintain their loyal customer base and to woo new clients?

A unique opportunity presents itself in the shape of a beautiful island retreat, which could give the friends the USP that they need for the survival of the Mercury Travel Club.  Add maintaining their personal relationships and growing new ones into the mix – what could possibly go wrong?

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Heat is On Pin

This is the second book in the series, and whilst I always recommend reading a series from the start, The Heat is On can definitely be read as a stand-alone – there really is enough explanation to understand the back stories.  The antics of the pals make this the perfect light, romantic comedy to pack in your suitcase and read on the beach!  The book is fun, witty and easy to read – maybe not a great literary novel, but certainly a very enjoyable one!

Angie, Patty and Charlie are funny, lovable and in possession of real human traits.  For me some of their most endearing qualities are those that are reflective of real life and not some magazine styled ideal – failed relationships, insecurities, less than perfect bodies, inability to cook, embarrassing parents, turbulent love lives and a love of life.  They show that it is possible to be middle aged and still have a sense of adventure and joie de vivre.  The friends are loyal, protective and love each other – this gives the book a real feel good factor.

The characters are funny, scatty and seem to invite disaster at every turn.  But they are also lovable, believable and it felt joyful to be a part of their story.  I love a well written classic piece of literature, but I equally love a well written, contemporary, light hearted tale and would definitely describe this book in this category.  Angie is a great character and I can easily both laugh with her and cry with her – this woman has soul!  Patty is larger than life and just makes me smile every time she enters the room.  Charlie provides the balance to his female friends – the voice of reason yet also passionate and driven.  Perhaps my favourite character is Angie’s mum – so funny and always there at just the wrong moment to make an entrance.

A joy to read, this is a light hearted, romantic comedy that doesn’t pretend to be anything else – a perfect, unpretentious read for the summer!  4 stars

With thanks to Kelly at LoveBooksGroup for including me on this blog tour.

Available from:

Amazon:

Book 1 –

Book 2 –

 

Waterstones

WHSmith

 

About the Author

Helen has always loved books and always loved writing. One year she decided her New Year’s resolution would be “Write a novel to give as a Christmas present”. She spent the year writing and The Mercury Travel Club was born.

Helen hails from the North East but now lives in Manchester. bridgett
Following a career in Marketing, Helen took an MA in TV and Radio Scriptwriting and created short films before writing her first novel. She loves nothing more than a glass of wine and witty banter with friends; her love of dialogue feeds into her work and has given her the perfect excuse to eavesdrop on conversations. Helen lives with her husband and their chocolate Labrador, Angus; all three can often be found wandering the Cumbrian hills or in country pubs.

Like many people, Helen believes that the music you grow up with as a teenager stays with you for the whole of your life. Being a child of 80’s rock, when she hears the opening riff to Sweet Child of Mine, she cannot be held responsible for her actions!

Find Helen:

Website: Helen Bridgett.com

Twitter: @Helen_Bridgett

Goodreads

Publisher: Red Door Publishing

June Link Up Party with A Chronic Voice

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I have been saying for months now that I would get my act together and join in with Sheryl’s Link Up Party over on A Chronic Voice…..so this is finally me getting my act together, just in time to sneak into June!  Sheryl provides prompts so that we bloggers can learn just a little bit about each other – and ourselves!

Prompts for the Month

  1. Reminding
  2. Pacing
  3. Surrendering
  4. Improving
  5. Flowing

 

Reminding

Over the last couple of weeks my kids lives have been galloping at  a great speed, reminding me that I really am that middle aged woman who stares out from the mirror!  The household exams came to a finish this week as our girl took her final GCSE – as a parent I have been through them 3 times and that is it, no more!  Then my baby went off with her bag containing a party dress, shoes and makeup to get ready with friends for their end of year party – I doubt that she will let me post a picture, so you will have to take my word for it that the girls looked beautiful.  Reminding me how long ago I was 16!

Lucy & Sharelle

I have been allowed to post – my lovely girl and her beautiful friend!

Son number 2 came home from his first year at university sporting a slightly shaggy, slightly ginger beard and looking skinnier and taller.  Last night the hall was suddenly full of very large shoes as a group of 19 year old males gathered for drinks and football before heading off to a party. “Don’t wait up!” reminding me yet again that my youthful days of partying are long behind me.

The final straw came in the form of a large white envelope addressed to son number 1 bearing the stamp of Companies House.  “This is really happening” said my girl at the realisation that her annoying big brother has finished university and is entering the big wide world with a tech Start-Up! Reminding me that I really do have adult kids!

Pacing

If yours truly had remembered all that I read on a regular basis and tell myself about pacing, perhaps today (Saturday) wouldn’t have been a “crash & burn” day.  It has been a major crash at that, meaning PJs and sofa all day.  But it is not every week that hubby goes away on a school trip to France and my birthday falls slap bang in the middle of said week.  Now of course hubby going away means that my new carers for the week are the kids, so pacing in the house goes out of the window immediately.  But add into the equation several lovely groups of friends wanting to take me out to celebrate and the kids actually arranging a meal out too, then there is the recipe for an epic failure at pacing.  It has been great though!

Surrendering

Recently I have recognised that “surrendering” to my diagnoses and accepting my limitations need not be a negative.  Too often we think of ill health in terms of “cure”, and with ever changing medical advances there can be an unrealistic expectation of the medical profession to be able to put everything right.  But the reality of many chronic conditions is that there is not a cure and the best that can be done is to manage symptoms and keep as healthy as possible.  I know that some people didn’t understand why I started to use a wheelchair when I can still walk, and they will view my surrendering as something very different.

Surrendering & liberating

June Link Up with A Chronic Voice

But for me surrendering to my conditions and accepting them has been liberating.  No, I’m not “giving in” and am definitely not negative, but rather acknowledging that to live my life in the best way possible way sometimes I need a bit of extra help.  If using a wheelchair means that I can still go round the shops, or on a family walk then so be it!  If I need to rest and binge watch on Netflix, I won’t feel guilty (that is a work in progress!).

Improving

Much to the disgust of my kids, I think that my computer and social media skills are really improving.  If you listened to them you would be forgiven for thinking that I am the mother who constantly posts pictures of my little darlings every move.  Get over your selves, kids – I have other things in life to tweet, post to Facebook and Instagram!!  I have finally swapped to a .com blog account with wordpress, I am now able to link up all the relevant SM sites on my book reviews, I have set up several Facebook pages and I am an admin to a group.  Of course when I asked the then student engineer to set me up a blog when I had my spinal cord stimulator, it was just laughable in the kids’ minds that anyone would want to read anything their dopey mum had to say.  But my followers have grown slowly and steadily from all walks of life, and this old girl is pleased to report ongoing, improving IT skills!

Flowing

I’m going in a completely different direction with this prompt and want to share some fun that we had a few weeks ago.  For the past couple of years I have made the birthday cakes for the daughters of a friend, varying from My Little Pony to Cat Woman to a magic unicorn tiered cake.  This year the brief was sent by the soon to be 8 year old in the form a photograph with attaching note – NO fondant or buttercream icing!  “OK, leave it with me” I said to mum, wondering on earth I would achieve anything vaguely resembling the finish on the picture.  Then I learnt about “Mirror glaze” cakes!!!

Cake suggestion

The picture I was sent!

So, with cake made and Youtube videos watched and admired, the lovely girl, hubby and I set to work creating.  The covering is made using a combination of gelatine, white chocolate, condensed milk and a few other goodies.  Then the colourings are added before pouring the icing over the cake until it is flowing down the sides and completely covers the cake.  Depending upon when the colouring is added and how many are added to one layer will alter the final cake covering.  It was great fun, the kitchen saw more flowing condensed milk than it has ever seen but for a first time I was pretty happy with our Mirror glaze galaxy cake!

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Our cake!

 

Hope you have enjoyed my prompts!

Claire x

 

 

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Good afternoon, PainPals!

Another week has flown by and here we are passing the Summer Equinox and arriving half way through the year.  The exams have finished in our house, with the lovely girl completing her GCSEs  last week and now we just sit and await the results.  The boys should both receive their results any day – one for his first year politics, the other for his full Masters in Engineering – is it awful to say that I am so glad it isn’t me!!  It really is bad enough being the parent-in-waiting.

Pin for later!

Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You! (25 June)

Hubby had a great week away with year 6 in Paris, with fantastic weather and an action packed timetable, including all the highest rides in Parc Asterix – apparently it has the highest and fastest rides in Europe! IMG_1716 My own week felt pretty action packed too as friends and family rallied round knowing hubby was missing my birthday – I have been wined and dined and spoilt rotten.  Incidentally it must mean something that National Martini Day fell on my birthday!! I have also watched more football than in the rest of my life – probably due to the politics student being home – and have become strangely entranced by the world Cup.  I still have no idea of the various rules for off side, free kicks, fouls etc, but reckon I’m doing well to just know the terms.  Yesterday I watched the whole England game surrounded by mainly young men at the games field of my old school – the actual event being a cricket match and BBQ. When the football draw was announced and we saw that an England match was on the day of our annual cricket match for Past versus Present, we knew that we had to screen the match.  Not the easiest thing to position a screen outside in bright sunshine where four cricket teams and guests would all be able to see it.  I have had dreams over the past week that the TV wouldn’t work and I feared it was premonition when I arrived to be told we didn’t have an aerial or a device to stream it – aghhhhh!!!

But all’s well that ends well as they say – with a small TV aerial, several gazebos and me directing the fit & healthy in erecting said gazebos, we achieved a picture that was watchable and created some shade as an added bonus.  So yours truly, as Chair of the “Past” pupils’ committee, parked her wheelchair up in prime position alongside the headmaster who declared that if we couldn’t pull rank to watch the football then when could we?!  I don’t need to tell you what the atmosphere was like as England scored 6 goals – something I don’t remember happening before!

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So my posts today have been chosen in a little haste – sofa day Saturday and then cricket Sunday – but I am sure that I still have ten top posts for you to enjoy!  If you are a parent with kids about to start the long summer holidays, do not miss the Chocolate slime post!! Turn off the phone, grab a cuppa and have a read…..

clear cocktail glass on orange surface

National Martini Day! Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

https://foodimentary.com/2018/06/19/cheer-june-19th-is-national-martini-day/

http://www.spectrummum.com/2018/06/a-glimpse-into-our-autism-cure.html?m=1

https://www.abookloversadventures.com/best-summer-beach-reads-2018/

https://mummyhereandthere.co.uk/2018/06/21/sleep-tight/

https://cfswarrior.weebly.com/blog/for-my-lovely-boyfriend

https://schoolrunshop.com/edible-chocolate-slime-recipe/

https://bloggingastrid.com/2018/06/21/book-review-doctors-notes-by-rosemary-leonard/

https://www.sizzlingtowardssixty.com.au/over-50-thriving-guest-series-what-keeps-you-on-track-to-thrive/

http://www.momshomerun.com/2018/06/good-can-sometimes-come-from-bad.html

https://extradrymartini.com/2018/06/22/june/

Share some love and comment, like & share these posts!

Have a great week,

Claire x

 

 

Fiction in Anglo Saxon Britain – Blog Tour and Review of “The Warrior with the Pierced Heart” by Chris Bishop #LoveBooksGroup

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Wessex 878AD.  Matthew, christened Edward, is third born son of Edwulf the Ealdorman and brother of the Saxon warrior Lord Edwin.  He is a novice monk turned warrior, who starts his tale whilst marching to celebrate King Alfred’s great victory at Edington but soon he and his men fall victim to an ambush by Viking raiders.  He is wounded with an arrow to the heart and believes his injury to be fatal as he feels the life ebbing from him.  But he is found and helped by a mysterious woman called Ingar who proclaims herself to be a healer, deriving her knowledge and skills from Mother Earth.

The book follows Matthew on his road to recovery and the many more battles which lie ahead, both physical and metaphorical, as he attempts to return to Saxon King Alfred.  He finds himself rapidly moving from one disaster to another, whilst making both friends and enemies along the way on a journey that is full of adversity, hope and triumph….no spoilers!!

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Review Warrior with Pierced Heart

 

This is the second book in the Shadow of the Raven series and I have to stick my hand up and admit that I didn’t realise this when I started it.  However, the book can be read as a stand-alone as there are plenty of references to the story so far – but I think that if I were to read it again I would read the first part (Blood and Destiny) to gain a better background as it did take me a little while to “get into it”.

I do enjoy historical novels, and whilst this is a period that I have watched on television dramas such as The last Kingdom, I haven’t read many books covering Anglo Saxon times.  This is only the author’s second novel in a field that is dominated by the like of Bernard Cornwell.  The detail felt very well researched by the author – although I can’t vouch for the historical accuracy as I just don’t know! – and I felt immersed into the Britain of the Dark Ages.  The brutality of the Vikings and the severity of the battles are not sugar coated in this tale!

The book is written in the first person – that is with the main character Matthew narrating the story – and I always feel that this is a much tougher style to write in.  As a result, I think that at times the fast paced tale feels slightly stilted as Matthew’s narration lurches from one disaster to another.  I do admire the author for attempting this though, as a first person narrative can take on a list like quality. I personally would have liked Mr Bishop to expand on his descriptions a little more, as those that he does write paint such a vivid picture – for instance the descriptions of Ingar using herbs for healing, the ruffian gang of Viking slavers and the description of sailing up the Thames and Matthew’s first impressions of London.  For me the descriptions of Leatherhead were great as it is only up the road from my home – we were at the the theatre there last month and believe me that it there is no resemblance between then and now!

There is a great deal of humour in this novel, particularly the way in which certain characters are described and little comments that Matthew makes.  I liked the characters – even some of the blood thirsty Vikings – and I loved the way that Matthew plays with his infamy as the story of “the warrior with the pierced heart”, returning from the dead, spreads far and wide.  The character of young Matthew, who was a monk and is now a warrior whilst still in his teens, develops and grows both emotionally and physically throughout the course of the book.  This growth mirrors his personal healing and recovery after his near fatal wounds sustained at the beginning of the book.  As this young man describes his physical strength growing from day to day, I believe that the reader also witnesses his mental strength and personality growing and maturing from day to day.  Matthew does seem to find himself in one sticky situation after another though, and I don’t think that I would want to take a journey with him!

This is an action packed historical novel from a new author that I think will appeal to many historical fiction fans. The writing style is not quite my cup of tea, but nevertheless I did enjoy it.  I believe that the author will go from strength to strength in his writing and I look forward to further novels in the future……and I should mention that I have purchased the first book which I will go back and read now!  3.5 stars

Thank you to Kelly at Love Books Group for giving me the opportunity to be on this tour!

More Information Available from

Amazon:

Waterstones

Goodreads

Red Door Publishing

About the Author

Chris BisshopChris Bishop is a retired chartered surveyor who has pursued his love of writing for as long as he can remember. He is an intrepid traveller and a retired Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. He is married with two children and four granddaughters and lives in London. His other interests are travel, windsurfing and fly fishing.

Website: theshadowoftheraven.com

Twitter: @CBishop_author

 

 

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Good evening! It has felt like a busy week in the PainPals household and an equally busy day, hence my later hour posting.  We have had a house guest – a friend of the young engineer needing somewhere to bunk down on his way to a bright new tech job in San Francisco – another young man for our old dog to bark furiously at.  So imagine our surprise when in walks said friend and our old boy Sam wandered over, had a sniff and an ear rub without so much as a murmur!  There are a couple of the lovely girl’s friends who are here so regularly that they are virtually family, and yet he still will not make friends with them!  I suppose this is the prerogative of an old man – he is 16, which is about 87 in human years.

Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You!

 

Meanwhile the middle child has returned from university, complete with dirty washing and a box full of crockery that yours truly uncovered lurking in the hall – yuk!  He is of course penniless, but at least he knows that we are unable and unwilling to pick up the pieces, so he asked for a message to go out requesting babysitting, dog walking and odd jobs.  Home Saturday, first job gardening from a friend on Sunday.  Long may it continue!  When he gets home from watching the football tonight, he will be shown the dishwasher though.

Talking of football, of course World Cup fever has struck and this house is divided between those who watch, and those who do not.  The eldest’s better half has slotted nicely into the watch group, alongside hubby and the politics student – whilst the eldest and the lovely girl appreciate my bloggy pal Gill’s mindset : 25 Ways to Annoy a Football Fanatic during the World Cup!! Yours truly is not usually a footie fan, but even I will watch the World Cup – to a point – but I don’t pretend to know anything about anything, even some of the shirt colours just don’t seem right!

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Hubby, having enjoyed Father’s Day yesterday,  left for Paris at the crack of dawn with year 6 – that is 60 eleven year olds – for his fourth year running.  The Eiffel Tower, Parc Asterix and the Hard Rock Cafe all beckon, but I know that they will all be glued to the big screen at their chateau this evening watching the England football match.  So that leaves me with 3 carers – capable hands, hmmm not sure, thoughtful, sometimes – but so long as they don’t forget a very important birthday tomorrow and spoil me rotten they will be in the good books.

Thanks to the fantastic Bloggers Tribe thread on Twitter, I have found some great new blogs for you this week alongside some old favourites.  So whilst I sit back with a glass of wine and cheer on young Harry Kane and his crew,  I wish you a happy Monday evening with some fantastic bloggers!

Bloggers Tribe

 

https://veroniiiica.com/2018/06/14/the-real-villain-in-incredibles-2-strobe-lights/

https://www.vickyviews.co.uk/never-used-to-like-having-my-photo-taken/

http://octoberslallu.blogspot.com/2018/05/that-feeling.html

https://survivorbunny.com/the-power-of-naps/

http://jademarie.co.uk/5-ways-practice-self-care/

https://www.ajourneythroughthefog.co.uk/2018/04/what-its-like-to-live-with-the-pain-of-fibromyalgia/

https://chronicallystrong.com/what-to-do-when-toxic-people-steal-joy/

https://www.travelbreatherepeat.com/nana-with-lam/

https://crookedbearcreekorganicherbs.com/2018/06/18/powerful-herbal-pain-relief/

https://fashiontechnology.co.uk/2018/06/18/how-accessible-is-on-line-shopping-ux-interviews-fashion-technology/

Please comment, like and share some love if you enjoy these blogs!

Have a great week,

Claire x

 

Down the Tubes by Kate Rigby – Book Review : Gritty novel based in the world of addiction

I’m getting into the swing of regular book reviews – here is this week’s offering!

I was fortunate to be given a copy of this book via The Book Club on Facebook in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Down the tubes

In her own mind Cheryl West tried really hard to be a good wife and mother, but it just didn’t work out.  For Cheryl there was always something missing and when her children (Elaine, Michael, Stephen and little Juliet) grew beyond the baby years, they lost their appeal and maybe her husband and then her boyfriend never had much appeal.  But now she wants to be a different woman, a woman with a career and that takes her back to London leaving a family behind in Bournemouth.  She becomes a worker in a drugs unit and there she experiences a side to life that is new to her as she speaks with clients and visits their homes.  The reality of the decisions that they have made and the impact they have had upon others forces her to evaluate some of the decisions that she has made.  This is coupled with the unwelcome visits paid to her by eldest daughter Elaine who only serves as a reminder of the life that she would like to forget.

The second family member who is key in this storyline is son Michael, who has had no contact with his mother, Cheryl, or other family members since walking out when just 16 years old.  Whilst Michael is mentioned regularly in Cheryl’s story, mainly for the lack of contact and wondering what has become of him, the individual family members are mentioned rarely in Michael’s story.  Ironically Michael’s life has also revolved around drugs as he has become an addict in his attempts to rid himself of memories of family life.

The mother and son “miss” each other by minutes in what could have been a chance meeting during a support worker visit from Cheryl to a client whilst in London.  Their paths seem destined to cross again when Cheryl takes a new post in a rural drug rehabilitation unit in Hampshire where Michael has previously been a patient.  Whilst Michael is trying to come to terms with the past in order to move on with a new chapter in his life, Cheryl finds some case notes that uncover secrets from that past life that she cannot accept.

Review Down the Tubes

I cannot sit here and yell from the roof tops that this book is an easy, enjoyable read because it is not.  But this is not a criticism.  Dysfunctional families and drug addiction should not be easy topics to write about or read about.  The feelings of discomfort and at times disgust that the reader feels are testament to the powerful writing of Kate Rigby.  She writes a novel that uses language and scene setting that is not only gritty and realistic, but also shows the soft under belly of the human psyche and the fragility of life.

It is difficult to like Cheryl at times.  She appears self centred and completely at odds with being a mother of four, yet she has her own addiction and that is to babies.  The descriptions of her feelings towards tiny babies are quite unnerving, but even more upsetting are how she views her own infants as they start to grow.  How much of the family’s past issues have been a direct consequence of Cheryl’s actions?  Even her response to certain actions by her husband (no spoilers!) has probably had a huge impact on certain family members.  Her chosen career as a drugs rehabilitation support worker seems completely at odds with her character and some of the thoughts that she has and her actions demonstrate her to be ill suited to the job.  Yet she skilfully manipulates her colleagues in both London and Hampshire to believe that she is doing a wonderful job and that she believes in what she is doing.  Her selfish ways remain even when she does realise that Michael has been a client, with her first thoughts for herself and how his “stories” might affect her.

Meanwhile Michael shows himself to have backbone and courage, even when in the depths of addiction and despair.  I find it interesting that it is the addict who I felt the empathy toward even as his life spiralled.  There are glimpses of Michael’s loving side early on as he firstly develops a relationship with Nicky, and then with his dog Woodstock.  He has no idea that whilst he physically removed himself from her, his life is still winding around his mother’s like a plant shoot binding around the main plant stem.  The way in which Ms Rigby writes leads the reader to feel that much of this confused young man’s angst is as a direct result of his mother’s actions in the past.  In his mind she favoured his younger brother and nothing that he did was good enough.  The reality is probably more that Cheryl was only ever truly able to relate to new-borns and that she struggled with his close relationship with his father.

However, this father /son relationship is another area so well described from the tension of making contact after years apart, the difficulties of acknowledging just what the relationship was in the past and a way forward for both men now.  Ms Rigby carefully and cleverly incorporates the different back stories from the individual family members into a tapestry that makes a whole.  The reader learns to care about the characters and becomes invested in their stories.

The language and description of life for the various different drug addicts within the story add both colour and steel to the tapestry.  The harsh truths of the impact that drugs have on both individuals and the family are not sugar coated in this novel.  The author shows that drugs can be found in the midst of any family from any walk of life and that the devastation of lies, deceit and thieving is far reaching.  I include in this the street families that many of the addicts in this find themselves a part of.

Abandonment, selfishness, dysfunctionality, abuse, addiction, love, relationships…..all huge topics that this book throws at the reader.  I applaud the author for not tying up the storylines as it would have been very easy to do so – although she did leave me very frustrated as I want to know what happens!  But this is about real life and we all know that not everyone lives happily ever after.  In my humble opinion a fantastic study of human life. 5 stars

Find out more:

Amazon:

Goodreads

Facebook

About the Author (from the author’s Amazon page)

Kate RigbyKate Rigby has been writing for several decades. She realized her unhip credentials were mounting so decided to write about it.

However she’s not completely unhip. Her punk novel, Fall Of The Flamingo Circus was published by Allison & Busby (1990) and by Villard (American hardback 1990). Skrev Press published her novels Seaview Terrace (2003) Sucka! (2004) and Break Point (2006) and other shorter work has appeared in Skrev’s avant garde magazine Texts’ Bones including a version of her satirical novella Lost The Plot.

Thalidomide Kid was published by Bewrite Books (2007).

Her book Little Guide to Unhip was published by Night Publishing (2010).

She has had other short stories published and shortlisted including Hard Workers and Headboards, first published in The Diva Book of Short Stories and also as part of the Dancing In The Dark erotic anthology (Pfoxmoor 2011).

She also received a Southern Arts bursary for her novel Where A Shadow Played (now ‘Did You Whisper Back?’).

Titles now available on Kindle and other e-books are:

Little Guide to Unhip (also in paperback*)
Thalidomide Kid
Seaview Terrace
Far Cry From The Turquoise Room (also in paperback*)
Break Point
Suckers n Scallies
Down The Tubes (also in paperback*)
Tales By Kindlelight (available as a collection – She Looks Pale & Other Stories*)
Savage To Savvy (also available in paperback*)
Did You Whisper Back?
Fall Of The Flamingo Circus
She Looks Pale (available as a collection – She Looks Pale & Other Stories*)
The Dead Club (also available in paperback*)
Fruit Woman (coming soon in paperback)

Short Stories:

Family Tradition
Coats
On Your Half Century
Sharing Sarah
Cutting Edge
Hard Workers

* paperbacks available by following the Amazon link where listed

Details about Kate’s work can be found at her website:

http://kjrbooks.yolasite.com/

Or her occasional blogs can be found at:

http://bubbitybooks.blogspot.com/Facebook

 

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Another beautiful day here in South London for me to whip up some Monday Magic for you! The boys returned from Sorrento and are in my good books as they came bearing gifts – yes, you guessed it, Limoncello!  A trip to Pompeii, a glimpse of Capri and some general R&R on the Amalfi coast have done the soon to be young engineer the world of good – he has returned happy and relaxed.  Or maybe that is down to finishing his course!!  His sister says that his good mood and his being nice is “freaking her out”.  We are sending him to collect his brother from university, so this might put a damper on his good mood!Monday Magic 11th June

The last few days have been particularly hectic as we helped to re home a little pug for a friend of the young engineer.  This little lady had been badly used and abused by breeders and had far too many litters of puppies in her first years of life.  On a visit home, said friend fell completely in love with this little dog who was being fostered by his parents.  He took her home but as work commitments increased, he realised that it would be tough leaving her alone and sent a plea to friends asking to re-home her.  Hubby’s parents have always had dogs – from dachshunds to Bassett hounds – and recently one of their bull terriers died, leaving both them and the remaining dog Penny devastated.  Lech and Penny – as painted by the lovely girl.

It was Lech who died – and this little girl is called Lexi…..

Anyway, hubby & the engineer set out on a road trip which ended with Lexi settling into her new home in Hereford with the in laws and Penny.  Lexi.JPGThe little minx is loving exploring the garden – I had no idea such a small dog could be so speedy! – and having her there has put a spring back into Penny’s stride.  We don’t know how bereavement affects dogs, but she was definitely missing her brother.  So far, so good….I understand Lexi is already ruling the roost and have no doubt she will be spoilt rotten in her new home.  IMG_4823

 

I had a few hours to kill over the weekend, being just us girls at home. so was able to do some serious blog reading.  The blogs i have picked for you this week range from artisan bread to a weight loss journey with Slimmers World to stay at home mums.  There is a lovely review for a fantastic book about a bear called Wojtek, but on a slightly more serious side I have included a health post about an important, yet slightly taboo subject – STDs – please read it before you dismiss it.  The final blog is brand new and written by a lovely young friend of mine who has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.  Last year her condition declined rapidly and when diagnosed with a brain tumour alongside her many other conditions, she had to stop blogging.  Now she is back and ready to write again, so some support for her would be fantastic!

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Grab a cuppa, sit back and enjoy!

 

https://motivatemenow.co.uk/2018/06/08/five-minutes-with-hayley-from-just-another-blog-from-a-woman-thebeasley-blogging/

https://gobuythebook.wordpress.com/2018/06/07/blog-tour-wojtek-war-hero-bear-by-jenny-robertson/

http://confluencenutrition.com/5-reasons-chronic-illness-symptoms-flare/

https://www.london-unattached.com/easy-artisan-bread/

https://www.diaryofafibrogirl.com/2018/06/my-weight-loss-journey-so-far.html?m=1

https://libertyonthelighterside.com/what-will-make-me-happy-today/

https://insideoutblog.co.uk/down-but-not-out/

https://www.morganprince.com/2018/06/stay-at-home-mums-dont-be-ashamed.html

http://bladder-help.com/have-you-been-tested-for-stds/

https://vvmusings.wordpress.com/blog-posts/

As ever please remember to share some love for these bloggers!

Have a great week,

Claire x

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Blog Tour & Book Review of “Danube Street” by Linda Tweedie & Kate McGregor #LoveBooksGroupTours

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I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to be part of this blog tour by Kelly at LoveBooksGroup. This is a fair and honest review, and all opinions are my own.

Agnes McLeod is the bright, only daughter of a farmer living in the harsh wilds of Ayrshire.  When her pregnant cousin Mary comes to stay, she is fascinated by this young woman’s view of the world and her survival instinct.  Mary takes Agnes with her to Edinburgh and introduces her to a lifestyle far removed from the farm, rubbing shoulders with gangsters, prostitutes and police alike.  Agnes becomes Stella and the young women learn how to join the elite of “the oldest profession” amongst the hotels of the city. When an “accident” befalls Mary involving the infamous Williams brothers, Stella finds an unlikely ally in the city’s top barrister.

At this point Stella Gold, with the backing of the barrister, set out to turn a property in the Georgian terrace of Danube Street into Edinburgh’s most exclusive brothel.  Stella quickly becomes the city’s most respected Madame, entertaining clients ranging from sailors to councillors to clergy to police.  Surrounded by loyal friends, like young Jack and former prostitute Kitty who both work for her, and enemies, like the Williams brothers and working girls with grudges, Stella must remain astute and streetwise.

Into the picture comes fourteen-year-old runaway Rosie, picked up at the bus station by an infatuated Jack.  Rosie, the youngest of 3 daughters, is pregnant by an American GI and disowned by her father but the youngster has a survival instinct not unlike Stella’s and looks to match.  The older woman allows the youngster to stay at Danube Street until her baby is born, but Rosie soon finds herself at the receiving end of jealousy from some of the other working girls.  This is to have life changing outcomes for her.

Meanwhile Stella is finding herself the object of a vendetta by not only the criminal factions of the city, but also a corrupt Chief of Police, with several secrets of his own.  Stella is the ultimate survivor, but is time running out for her?  Who can she look to in order to ensure the future of Danube Street?

I have had to be so careful not to give away any spoilers as I get carried away in my description!  This novel had me interested from the moment that I realised that the premise is taken from the true story of 17 Danube Street – once an infamous exclusive brothel run by Madame Dora Noyce from soon after the end of World War 2 until her death aged 77 in the 10970s.  Links to articles of interest can be found at the end of my review.  The characters and storylines in this novel are fiction.

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Danube Street (PlanetEdinburgh Blog)

This was for me an easy read as I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline, the characters and the style of writing.  The plots are hard hitting, and the use of strong language, descriptive violence, drugs and abuse will mean that this is not for everyone.  But if you enjoy a fast moving, gritty drama that has a cast of characters that are human, flawed and believable, then this is a novel for you!

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Danube Street

The depiction of the young women and their back stories that led them into a life of prostitution is enlightening, and I think probably still rings true for today.   Whilst one could be led to believe that the life of a working girl in a smart hotel or in an “exclusive brothel” is glamorous, the writers also show the other side of the coin.  Jack’s mother Jeanie works the streets and is at the receiving end of vicious abuse, both physical and verbal, with “punters” rarely seeing her as a human being.  Yet when the writers take us back to her early years and the loss of her husband in the war, it becomes apparent that this story that could and should have been so different.  It is just one of many of a young woman doing anything and everything to support her family.  The girls who work for Stella definitely have a better life than the street girls – they are fed well and work in beautiful surroundings, but they are still very much at the mercy of the clients.  The writers also weave in the issue of sexual abuse from a young age and the fact that for some young people because this has been a “normal” for them, it continues to be the norm into adult life (no spoilers, but on reading the book I think you will understand).

I love the strong female lead characters in this book – Stella, obviously, for making her way and then holding her own as a respected business woman in a male dominated society; young Rosie who undoubtedly grows the most in this story, from spirited teen to a street wise young woman with a great head for business; Kitty, the older ex prostitute, whose wisdom, life experiences and loyalty are priceless for both Stella and Rosie.  Jack is the youngest of the male characters and understanding his back story, his mother’s decline into alcoholism and street prostitution, the obvious course for the writers to take him down (gangsters, drugs, alcohol) is not quite the route he follows. Certainly, his life is still set amidst this background, but he makes his life choices with a mature head following his own moral compass.

There are many truly unlikeable characters in this novel – psychopathic, vicious and violent Freddie Williams, Mags the aggrieved working girl – but for me the vilest is probably DCI Ross.  Whilst I detested the man, the writers were very clever to give us his childhood story – harsh conditions with equally harsh parenting – allowing the reader to have an understanding of why the man behaves as he does and almost feeling empathy for him.

The story is fast, packed with action and wonderfully rich characters – I might unpick them all, but you really can enjoy this without doing so! I applaud the wonderful descriptions of both Edinburgh and the isolated areas of Scotland.  This was a novel that I found difficult to put down as I became invested in the characters and genuinely wanted to know what happens to them.  Strange as it may seem, there are some very tender relationships and genuine feelings – the joys and despairs of parenthood, loss, grief and love. Many ends are tied up, but there are also many loose ends and new lives…. a sequel please, Ms Tweedie & Ms McGregor!! Meanwhile I plan to look out your other works.

I can’t help feeling that the original Madame, Dora Noyce, would approve of this version of Danube Street.  She always objected to the word brothel and wanted her house to be known as one of “leisure and pleasure”, where she gave glasses of wine to gentleman arriving and then tea and sandwiches for “afters”.  The opulent house of the book and the rich characters within its walls would get a nod of approval from the real Madame of Danube Street.

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17 Danube Street (from Planet Edinburgh blog)

I loved it too! 4 stars

Articles of interest:

https://www.scotsman.com/news/lost-edinburgh-17-danube-street-1-3334496

https://planetedinburgh.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/17-danube-street-what-your-parents-never-told-you/

Find Danube Street on

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Goodreads

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Currently available on Kindle at Amazon here:

Publisher: Fledgling Press

Publication Date: 01/08/2018

ISBN-13: 9781912280131 

Details:

Type: Paperback

Format: Books

About the Authors

LINDA TWEEDIE lives in a small coastal town on the east coast of Scotland and has been a market trader, encyclopaedia salesperson and a drug rep (rep, not dealer) but for over 20 years, until her retirement, (early of course!) she spent most of her time behind a bar barring toilet breaks as landlady of numerous watering holes. Her first three novels came about through customers and friends telling her on almost a daily basis that she should write a book. Well, she did not just one but three The Life series, in collaboration with her best friend and cohort Kate McGregor. The Silence is their début crime novel set mainly in the dark and mean streets of Glasgow at the time of the infamous Ice Cream Wars. A fast-paced, gritty story which will keep you enthralled. 10458773_978010128897355_2150746344268007796_nKATE McGREGOR co-author was born in Paisley, once labelled the most dangerous town in the UK. But, it quietened down considerably once she left and went to work in London. Kate has been a beautician, logistics manager, advertising guru and sexy party planner who, after being made redundant twice in one year, decided it was time to be mistress of her own destiny and with the hindrance and interference of her best friend Linda, embarked on a seven year career in booze! Together they wrote The Life series, the first of which, Life Behind Bars, was a finalist in The People s Book Prize. The Silence is their début crime novel and if you like Martina Cole or Jessie Keane, you’ll love this.

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Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

I can’t quite believe that June is upon us.  We are nearly half way through the year and you know what that means?  Soon the shops will be stocking up for Christmas!!  The lovely girl (who wants me to change her name on here – all ideas gratefully received) is becoming very annoyed with her brothers – number 2 has just sent a message announcing he has only one exam left to go, whilst number 1 keeps sending her photos from Sorrento, Italy – whilst she is still revising.  Not many to go now though.

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Monday Magic Inspiring Blogs for You! 4 June

The student engineer finished his course after 4 years this week – so he too will need a new name – and to celebrate he and his better half jetted off at some unearthly hour to Italy.  There actually are some occasions when it is great being no longer able to drive, and a 4 am airport run is definitely one of them.  Today I received some photos and thought “ahhh, my boy is actually thinking ahead to my birthday in a couple of weeks”, only to be informed that Capri is well out of his price range!  The pool, sea view and cocktail shots all seem indicative that they are letting their hair down – so long as they don’t forget to pack the Limoncello in their homebound luggage for their mums, I don’t care!

Meanwhile I received a cake request from a very good friend for a BBQ that we went to on Saturday.  It started out as a birthday cake for his wife, then quickly incorporated another male friend’s birthday….OK so a birthday cake suitable for a lady & a man, with their names….but then the wedding anniversary of another couple cropped up as being Saturday too. Hmmm, thinking cap on at short notice….a gender neutral, celebration cake – what could be better than using my zebra colours?  Lovely evening had by all!  IMG_1700.JPGHubby’s biggest concern came the following morning when he found that the handle on his Chelsea football mug had cracked….he blames the government for turning down Abramovich’s visa!!

 

 

I couldn’t finish without a mention for the British TV show “Britain’s Got Talent” – not as a great fan, I don’t even watch the show – but to applaud the diversity of contestants that I have learnt have taken part this year.  Both the winner and the runner up have disabilities and this is written about beautifully in the first post here: Disability Horizons, alongside some clips of the contestants – well worth a watch!  There are a host of great posts here from endangered animal species to shoes to a lovely poem.

So turn your phone to silent, grab a coffee, sit back and enjoy!

http://disabilityhorizons.com/2018/06/disabled-comedian-lost-voice-guy-wins-britains-got-talent-2018/

https://beautifultraveller.com/endangered-species-day/

https://quintessentiallymeblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/fiv-debunked/

https://kateonthinice.com/looking-at-things-more-positively-with-the-great-what-if/

https://risingabovera.com/seven-go-to-shoes-those-living-with-rheumatoid-arthritis-must-know-about/

https://hannahthemaddog.com/if-i-didnt-have-lupus-i-probably-wouldnt-be-blogging/

https://3sistersabroad.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/world-wide-lam-awareness-month/

http://lifewithanillness.com/2018/05/29/my-2-year-anniversary-of-being-chronically-ill/

https://schoolrunshop.com/monday-motivation-know-mood-hoover/

https://natashatungare.wordpress.com/2018/06/04/none-knows-the-real-you/

Please comment, like and share these posts to your own social media!

Have a great week,

Claire x