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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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:

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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

 

Drugs to Forget – Blog Tour and Review

Yes, yes..another blog tour!  Most unusual for me to have 2 in one week, but this book sounded too good to miss – and today is publication day in paperback!

With many thanks to Kelly at LoveBooksGroup for the opportunity to be included in this book tour in return for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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Natalie Thompson is an investigative film director, tasked with making a documentary on the threat of bioterrorism.  She is quickly made aware of an Ebola outbreak in central Africa which is being kept under wraps by the authorities, and the journalist in Natalie seeks to find a way into the local healthcare system in order to search for answers.  She gains the trust of medical staff by posing as a film maker for a Western aid charity who wishes to learn more about their vaccination programme.  Whilst in Africa, a contact introduces her to a Zimbabwean terrorist group and she must take on yet another undercover persona, posing as a blogger and Western African rights sympathiser.  Is it possible that these terrorists are really planning to give the West a dose of “African disease”?

Meanwhile in London Tom is a new rookie to the investigative film world and is set to work doing research for Natalie’s project.  He uncovers suspicious activities in a laboratory in Java and soon finds himself dispatched off to investigate – and with a minder in tow!  They make contact with a young chemist who is concerned about the research work that she is being asked to undertake. When Natalie and Tom touch base with each other, they find that there are various strands to their stories that are linking to each other and to the terrorist group.  Certain names in pharmaceutical companies keep cropping up too, alongside studies into Alzheimer’s disease. Now the question is do they continue with the sole purpose of making a documentary or should the authorities be alerted to the very real prospect of a bioterrorist attack?

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Action, suspense, intrigue, danger, fear, excitement…..just some of the words to sum up this novel.  I believe that Natalie Thompson has appeared in several other novels by the author, but this can be read as a stand-alone book – I haven’t read the others.  This novel is so current and the author’s background in investigative documentary films is very evident with the detailed descriptions of both fieldwork and the editorial offices.  The devastation of Ebola has been on our television screens for several years now and the Western world is well aware of the havoc that it can wreak.  Add to this the recent happenings in the UK with the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter, this storyline becomes completely plausible and for that reason more frightening.

I do love the fact that the lead character is a woman – but then I would say that, I suppose!  Natalie is gutsy, strong, intelligent and driven.  At times I was fearful for her when she appeared to be reckless in her actions, but this for me is an indication of the great suspense that Mr Granger conjures with his writing.  The complexities of her character develop as she becomes more involved with the medical programmes in Africa and meets the real people who are affected.  She is empathetic and finds herself conflicted between the story that she is out to uncover and the other very human stories that she is finds thrown into, including research trials into drugs for Alzheimer’s disease. Essentially, she is lying to people who believe that she is there to help and I like the fact that I can feel her grappling with her conscience when recording in an undercover capacity.

The other characters develop nicely through the story too –  young Tom who finds himself in dangerous situations that he would never have dreamt of and using his sexuality to win the confidence of a source; Nick the ex-soldier sent to babysit Tom who has useful contacts within various police/ authorities; and Geoff the boss, who is spinning so many plates in his office that it feels at times that he can’t possibly keep everyone happy and produce a great programme.  I learnt so much about film production from the great descriptions of the actual filming to the editing and beyond.

The author does cover moral and ethical conflicts that I imagine are a daily occurrence for any documentary maker.  In this case the issues are around the findings of the investigations as it becomes apparent just what the terrorists are planning and just how the pharmaceutical companies are linked.  Should the team continue filming in order to get a fantastic story?  Just when is the right time to inform the authorities what they have discovered? What happens if the authorities in other countries don’t listen or are just too corrupt themselves to act?  Then Mr Granger introduces us to the legal implications!

I loved this book from start to finish.  The fact that at times my heart was in my mouth for me shows how well it is written – the suspense created through the investigation was great.  For an action-packed, exciting, believable investigative read with a twist in the tail, I would definitely recommend “Drugs to Forget” – this gets full marks form me! Now I am off to find the other books from this author.   5 stars.

Available from:

Book Depositary

Amazon: on Kindle & Paperback

Publisher: RedDoor Publishing Ltd (31 May 2018)

About the Author

Martin Granger

Martin Granger HeadshotMartin has been making documentary films for thirty years. In that time he has won more than 100 international film awards. His work has ranged from directing BBC’s Horizon to producing a BAFTA nominated science series for Channel 4.His novels, although fiction, are based upon his experience in the film industry. He lives in Wimbledon with his wife Jacqueline.

Find Martin here:

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Review of Books in Divided World Series by G. L. Cromarty – Divided Serenity & Serenity Falling

Divided World Series by G.L. Cromarty

Divided Serenity (book 1) and Serenity Falling (book 2)

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I was fortunate to be given copies of these books through The Book Club on Facebook and the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Serenity.  A world that is divided.  The Aterran people live inside a “virtual” wall with a land is progressive and based upon technology.  Outside the wall live the Shadowlanders and the Jaru, two groups of people sharing as much hatred for each other as for the Aterrans.

Bill Bremmer and John Tanis are sworn enemies, once best friends.  Bremmer is the leader of the Aterran people whilst Tanis has been banished from Aterra and is now a fully-fledged Shadowlander.  When the normal pattern of war between the Shadowlanders and the Jaru seems to have changed, and Bremmer receives intelligence that there might be Aterran technology within the hands of the Shadowlanders, the already shaky status quo is threatened.

Aterran technology is maintained with the help of so called “ancient technology” stations situated beyond the wall in the heart of Shadowland.  When one of these stations misfunctions and power the Aterran is lost, teams of field agents and scientists are sent to repair the technology.  The youngest and brightest of these scientists is Hannah Duvall, who is in a relationship with Bill Bremmer and has never been into Shadowland before.  The question is why is the Aterran leader sending his partner to near certain death? Or is there more fuelling Bremmer’s motives, such as his intense hatred for Tanis?  Is his need to see John Tanis dead taking over everything?

Hannah and her party must ride on horses to the station, making their journey perilous and prone to attack.  But who will attack the small group and who will accompany them to the station?  Jaru or Shadowlanders?  Can Aterrans be accepted in the Shadowland and how will Hannah fare when she comes face to face with John Tanis, half Aterran half Shadowlander?

I could continue with a plot synopsis, but I can’t write more without giving away spoilers!

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This is not a genre that I would normally reach for, but since joining various book clubs I am enjoying reading different styles of storyline – plus my children have introduced me to Game of Thrones type dystopian fantasy in both books and television!  Initially I struggled to get into the story as it felt slow and slightly disjointed – but after a couple of chapters, once Hannah was in Shadowland, I was completely hooked.  Honestly, I could not put these books down and read them back to back.

Once the story got going I found the plot to be pacey and action packed with some very complex characters. Warning: this is not for the squeamish as the battle scenes are described in great detail – there is blood and gore in copious amounts, and life has little value amongst the soldiers.  The characters really develop throughout the novels and are fleshed out as their past is disclosed to the reader.  Bremmer remains an unlikeable man and as the story moves into the second book, it becomes increasingly apparent that he is a deeply flawed character.  Tanis should also be equally unlikeable, with his apparent lack of emotion and his bloodthirsty warrior gene, yet for me I felt that I started to understand him and actually empathise with him the more I found out about him.  Hannah, as the only female main character, seemed weak and too naïve early on in the story, particularly regarding her relationship with Bremmer.  However, it is her character that probably grows the most and the quickest, to show an inner strength and steely core that surprises Hannah herself.

Secondary characters include the geneticist mother of Tanis, disabled genius scientist and mentor to Hannah – Dan, Hannah’s sister Ella, Tanis’s half brothers and father, and the mysterious Theo and Nate.  The fate of all the characters became important enough that I wanted to know what happened to them!

The premise of the story is good, and for me the book is well structured and well written. The fine line between a world entirely led by technology alongside one that is so primitive is explored well with a survival of the fittest theme, and I love the idea of the virtual wall.  The conflict, the power struggles, and the personal emotions spilling into the professional world is fascinating and could just as easily be in our world as in this dystopian land.  I am itching to get my hands on the third book.

A fast, exciting, bloody read – 5 stars

Available on Amazon:

 

Barnes and Noble

 

About the Author

(from the author’s website – GLCromarty.com)

g l cromartyBorn in England, G.L. Cromarty grew up exploring castles and watching Star Wars. As an avid reader, she has been influenced by a wide variety of writers ranging from Tolkien to George R.R. Martin and Anne McCaffrey, and Harry Harrison to Isaac Asimov. Now living in Perth, Western Australia with her husband and two oddball cats, she spends her spare time writing. Divided Serenity is her debut novel – her latest writing blog post is here

 

Follow me on Twitter @TheLittleBod

Join me on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16170181.G_L_Cromarty

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Book review: The Pursuit of Ordinary by Nigel Jay Cooper

I was given an advance copy of this book through The Book club on Facebook in exchange for a fair and honest review.

What would it be like to one day be walking along the road with your wife, feeling the impact as a car crashes into you and then to be watching your wife cradling your dying body?  But then you realise that you aren’t watching yourself die from some faraway place, but you are actually in a body and have a voice….that belong to someone else?!

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Dan is a homeless man, wandering the streets of Brighton when he witnesses this fatal car crash and his life changes completely.  His head is suddenly inhabited by someone else, claiming to be called Joe and saying that he is the dead man.  How can this be happening?  Add into the equation the wife of dead Joe, staring at him at the scene of the crash and asking over and over if he saw it….Dan/Joe doesn’t know what is happening!  Sometime later he comes across the wife, Natalie, sitting in the park and after he speaks to her, he determines to follow her home and Joe wants to tell her that he is still here.

Natalie is stunned when the homeless man turns up on her doorstep several months after the death of her husband Joe with his story.  She surprises herself and Dan when she lets him into her home, and then into her life.  Does Natalie truly believe that her husband is somehow now inhabiting another man’s body, or does she have a different motive for inviting a stranger into her home?  Does she even understand this herself – after all she is a grieving widow?  As Dan starts to open up about his life before he found himself on the streets, is it possible that Natalie can help him to find his way home again?

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This is a beautifully crafted surprise of a book.  The storyline is actually very simple, dealing primarily with human relationships and emotion. The writer manages to explore bereavement, grief, love and anger, whilst also including domestic abuse, family conflict, manipulation, miscommunication and mental illness.  The growing relationship between Natalie and Dan is fascinating as they learn to trust each other and themselves.  They are flawed characters and yet the way that they change and grow made me alter my opinions of them along the way.  Mr Cooper has written these characters with such compassion and tenderness that it is impossible not to care for them.  I felt that this care was also shown toward the secondary characters – Dan’s father, Natalie’s parents and even Joe’s mother.

This book is not what it seems to be at the outset.  But then the title should give us a clue, as what is the definition of “Ordinary” – it will be different for all of us.  In the current climate it is wonderful to read a novel that has such a positive and empathetic insight into mental health and mental illness.  There are surprises for both the reader and the characters as to who has the greater needs and the importance to have insight into one’s own situation.  Whilst the story is simple and focuses on these two, or maybe it is three people, there are many twists and turns that will pull you in and certainly had me hooked.

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I found this an intense and emotional read from start to finish and would describe The Pursuit of Ordinary to be absolutely extraordinary. A huge 5 stars!

Publisher: Roundfire (27 april 2018)

Goodreads Author: Nigel Jay Cooper

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nigeljaycooper/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nijay

 

Available from

AmazonUK:

AmazonUS

Waterstones

Barnes and Noble

Foyles

WHSmith

About the Author – Nigel Jay Cooper

Writer and author, born in London, England. He now lives in Brighton (via Nottingham) with his partner, their two children and greying ginger dog.

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Following on from the success of his bestselling debut novel, Beat The Rain, Nigel’s second novel The Pursuit of Ordinary will be published on 27 April 2018 and is available to pre-order now. Nigel was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award in the Best Debut Author for Beat The Rain. Nigel previously worked as a writer and editor for Channel 4 Television and as a newspaper sub editor.

He’s a sometime marathon runner and occasional actor and singer in local musical theatre productions. Sometimes his brain switches off and lets him sleep, but not that often.

Book Review: Restitution(#Crazy Amy 3) by Rose Edmunds

I was fortunate to be given a copy of this book by the author and through The Book Club on Facebook in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Pin Restitution review

 

After leaving her job as a top city, high earning accountant, Amy fancies herself as a private eye, a super sleuth, and she has taken a job that will immerse her in history across Europe.  Hired by 84-year-old George Smithies, she finds herself tracking down art work that was confiscated by Nazi Germany and may or may not have been part of a haul found in the flat of an eccentric hoarder, Novak, in Prague.  Amy and George set out for Prague to battle through the Czech restitution law and in the process meet Amy’s old “friend” Mel and “art historian” Beresford, who is keen to help track down the missing painting thought to have been owned by George’s parents in the 1930s.

 

During their journey, the Czech law isn’t the only maze to unravel as Amy establishes family ties between her client and the hoarder Novak, flaws in the history of the business partnership of George’s father, and an interest in her investigation from an unknown third party which puts Amy and George in real danger. No one is quite who or what they claim to be and with her own troubled background, and her dependence on alcohol, Amy is not always best placed to play super sleuth!

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This is the third in the Crazy Amy series and I have to admit to not having read the first two – or even realising that there were two others!  It can be read as a stand-alone, but I think that I would recommend reading from the beginning as Amy’s personal dysfunctional history and her relationships with Mel and George have already been established and there are references that I didn’t get!  But I really took to Amy.  She has so many imperfections, a massive chip on her shoulder, an alcohol problem and an alter ego called Little Amy (who I didn’t understand at first having not read the other books)….but she is so real.  I love the humour that Rose Edmunds has infused into the writing of this character!  She constantly describes the extra weight she has gained round her middle (so many women relate to this!) and Amy refuses to acknowledge her alcohol problem, deeming the staff at the infamous Priory to be “idiots” for suggesting it. She builds up a relationship with both the smelly hoarder Novak, who says “I admire a woman who can drink”, and the aristocratic Rudolf Strnad.  She has a love/hate relationship with Mel.  The bitchy description by Amy of eating a slap-up meal in front of the newly skinny Mel as she “turns over a couple of lettuce leaves” is hilarious.  Amy’s flaws should make her the worst candidate as a private investigator, but she is a clever young lady who proves to be surprisingly good at solving problems.

 

The historical information in this novel has been well researched, drawing upon the real art haul found in 2010 in the Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt, son of an art dealer known to have dealings with the Nazis during the second world war.  I enjoyed the pace of the story which was fast, yet also mindful of having an elderly man as one of the main characters.  The network of deceit and corruption took the tale through Europe and back to the UK, showing the extent of the spread of the international underworld.  Ms Edmunds painted a vivid picture of historic Europe, alongside the contemporary world of sleek lines and minimalism – for instance Amy’s flat and the offices in London.

 

I always say it, but I don’t wish to give away any spoilers….so I will conclude that this is a really enjoyable, pacy thriller with some fantastic main characters, humour, danger and cunning.  Definitely worth a read – although I would personally read the first two books for a proper background!  4 stars!

By the way…I do now have #Crazy Amy 1 & 2!

Books available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Published 19th March 2018

About the Author – Rose Edmunds (from author website)

Rose EdmundsAfter a successful career advising entrepreneurial businesses, Rose jumped off the corporate hamster wheel and began writing thrillers inspired by her experiences. Her books have a strong ethical theme, and shine a light on the moral challenges presented by capitalism. Typically her protagonists are just as flawed as the villains, if not more so…

Rose’s debut thriller, Never Say Sorry, was about a Big Pharma conspiracy to suppress a cancer cure. Since then, she has been working on the Crazy Amy thriller series—an ambitious project which will follow Amy Robinson on her journey from senior finance executive to who knows where…

The first trilogy is now available on Amazon, with further books planned for 2019 and beyond.

 

Book Blog Tour – Book Review of “Evanthia’s Gift” Book 1 The Gift Saga by Effie Kammenou

I have been fortunate to be given a copy of this book by the author through Love Books Group in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.

EG & WFA Facebook-Twitter 1

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga – Women’s fiction/ contemporary romance – Women’s fiction 2106 Reader’s Favorite Award finalist – Available in print, kindle and audible

Review

Anastacia Fotopoulos has moved to the USA after the horrors of the second world war in order to educate herself and so take a step closer to fulfilling her dreams.  She hadn’t anticipated falling in love and marrying the first handsome man to come her way, nor less to then be cruelly betrayed by those closest to her.  It is 1956 and she finds herself alone, pregnant and ashamed to return home to Greece.  She is fortunate in the support of her wonderful friends Stavros and Soula, also first generation Greek immigrants, and her Uncle who gives her employment to keep a roof over her and her new baby daughter’s heads.  The last thing that she expects is to attract the attentions of another young Greek man from her student days, and when her friends try to match make her with Alex she is determined to resist.  She will never put her future in the hands of a man again.

Ana has no idea that Alexandros Giannakos has loved her since he first knew her, and he wins her over with his perseverance and love for both her and daughter Sophia.  Their friends have had two children, Dean and Demi, and life for the close Greek American families is good.  But secrets have been kept, with the best of intentions by all involved, and these will affect life in the future.  The storyline skips forward to the teenage years of the children, and whilst the girls are closer than sisters, a deeper relationship develops between Dean and Sophia.  Their Greek heritage remains extremely important to the families, particularly the older generation, and teen Dean cannot bear to have his life mapped out by his parents – he wants to be an American boy who goes to college and finds his own way in the world.  As a result, he refuses to acknowledge his feelings openly for Sophia and as he pulls away from the family traditions, Sophia too has her young heart broken.

Life continues for the families.  Dean marries a college girl and goes to work for his father in law, Demi marries her secret childhood sweetheart and Sophia throws herself into her career as a dancer.  Along the way family secrets emerge that threaten to splinter relationships, and the rock the families to the core.

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Evanthia pin

If you enjoy family dramas that span generations, without sugar coating life, then you will love this novel.  The historical element of life in war torn Greece was fascinating, as was the story that was so common to many immigrant New York families be they Greek, Italian, Irish….the author is herself a second generation Greek American, and she appears to have exactly the right understanding between the need for embracing their heritage and culture for the older family members, to the desire to be American youngsters and growing up in America for the youngsters.  The friction was palpable in the writing.

The characters all grow and develop throughout the course of the novel as life throws both expected and unexpected joys and sorrows at them.  Ana remains at the core of the story, and I love the way in which both she and Soula are presented as the strong women keeping the wheels of their family life oiled and turning.  The secret to this is food!  I recognised in this book one of my own close friends, who moved to London from Athens in the 1980s, and is the most amazing homemaker and cook.  My kids love to go to her house and she feeds us all in a very similar way to Ana and Soula in the story.  The descriptions of the food are enough to make the reader’s mouth water, but then the author will offer up a wonderful gem every few chapters with a complete Greek recipe.  Imagine my delight when I also found that the author has a recipe website! I am so excited to try cooking some of these mouth-watering delicacies!

Evanthia’s Gift is a love story that covers generations, continents, different loves lost and found – but it is so much more than a love story, it is a story of human life and emotions over a fifty-year period.  I wanted to shout at the characters when the miscommunication caused problems and altered the course of lives and changed choices made.  I cheered when decisions ended well, and I shouted and cried at the bad decisions and the sorrows that life dishes up.  This book depicts real life – not everything can be planned, not everything is sugar coated and joy is tempered with sadness.  If you haven’t guessed I loved this book and am really looking forward to the next one in the series….and yes, you will find out who Evanthia is and just what her gift is.

Five Stars from me!

Karithopita

Karithopita – An Easy to Make Greek Walnut Cake from Cheffie’s Kitchen

About the Author (from Goodreads)

Effie Kammenou is a believer that it is never too late to chase your dreams, follow your heart or change your career. She is proof of that. At one time, long ago, she’d thought that, by her age, she would have had an Oscar in her hand after a successful career as an actor. Instead, she worked in the optical field for 40 years and is the proud mother of two accomplished young women. cover photo 2.jpg

Her debut novel, Evanthia’s Gift, is a women’s fiction multigenerational love story and family saga, influenced by her Greek heritage, and the many real life accounts that have been passed down. She continues to pick her father’s brain for stories of his family’s life in Lesvos, Greece, and their journey to America. Her interview with him was published in a nationally circulated magazine.

Evanthia’s Gift: Book One in The Gift Saga was a 2016 award finalist in the Readers Favorite Awards in the Women’s Fiction category. Waiting for Aegina: Book Two in The Gift Saga is Kammenou’s latest release.

Effie Kammenou is a first generation Greek-American who lives on Long Island with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not writing, or posting recipes on her food blog, cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com, you can find her cooking for her family and friends.

As an avid cook and baker, a skill she learned from watching her Athenian mother, she incorporated traditional Greek family recipes throughout the books.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater Arts from Hofstra University.

Member of Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association & Romance Writers of America

Available from Amazon :

 

Amazon author page

https://www.amazon.com/Effie-Kammenou/e/B013NZRWLI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1488327067&sr=8-1

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/EffieKammenou/

 Twitter

https://twitter.com/EffieKammenou

Goodreads page

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14204724.Effie_Kammenou

 Food blog

https://cheffieskitchen.wordpress.com

 instagram

https://www.instagram.com/author_effie_cheffieskitchen/

Newsletter signup page

 http://eepurl.com/bIoJl1

evanthiasgift

Book Review : Mortiswood Evil Rising by Gina Dickerson

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I was fortunate to be given an ARC of this book by the author & publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.

 

This is the third book in the Mortiswood series, the young adult fantasy fiction following the story of Kaelia and in this case I would recommend that the other two books are read first: Mortiswood Kaelia Arising and Mortiswood Kaelia Falling. (Book Review “Mortiswood: Kaelia Awakening” – a little magic in the ordinary)

Kaelia

 

The story continues with Kaelia having been reunited with her mother and father, but also discovering that her mother is the goddess Vanadis who guided her early on in the tale.  After a short time with her family, Kaelia and Bay (her Vallesm boyfriend) must return to their own world to battle with the Salloki and their evil leader Thom, who plan to take over the human Earth.  They find that Thom and his new wife Cadence, previously human but now a Draugr, have wreaked havoc in Margate and killed many humans – and these bodies are now inhabited by Salloki souls preparing for battle.  Are you keeping up?

 

Bay is outraged to find that his father, head of the Vallesm (human/wolf), does not believe that his relationship with Kaelia can survive and instructs him to pair with a Vallesm girl.  This view point seems to be borne out when Kaelia disappears for weeks with Bran.  Do you remember him?  Bran and Kaelia are described as the opposite sides to a coin, he the darkness to her light and they draw on the other’s strengths enhancing their own powers.  There is an attraction between them that neither can shake off, even if Kaelia desperately wants to for Bay’s sake, and Bran has ulterior motives for winning Kaelia’s trust.  Kaelia is experiencing a darker side to her magic now as the darkness seems to speak to her more and more.

Determined not to let whatever magic was deceiving her, win, Kaelia charged
back out into the corridor and, using her magical speed, flew through corridor
after corridor, up and down staircase after staircase until the light outside had
slipped into darkness.

‘Why won’t you let me go?’ Kaelia pulled at her hair and collapsed in a heap
outside the room with the bed.
‘You don’t want to leave,’ Bran said, startling Kaelia. He held a crystal
candelabra in one hand, wax dripping from the burning tips of the three gold
candlesticks and running over the crystal.
‘Of course I do. Stop playing tricks on me. This is your doing. I don’t know what
you’re playing at and I don’t care, just stop whatever it is and let me out.’ She
jumped up and glared at Bran. ‘I’ll fight you if I have to.’
‘There’s no need to be stroppy with me, I’m not doing anything.’ Bran set the
candelabra on the small stand beside the chair outside of the bedroom and folded
his arms over his slender chest. ‘It’s all part of the tower’s protection. You can
leave if you want to but if you don’t want to, you can’t. It’ll keep you here until
you really want to leave. It’s the tower’s way of keeping you safe.’
‘I don’t want your stupid tower to keep me safe. I’m quite capable of looking
after myself.’
Bran reached her in two easy strides. Sparks of cool purple light crackled from
them both as he pressed close against Kaelia, trapping her between him and the
wall. ‘The tower knows the secrets you can’t speak, those you can’t admit even to
yourself.’
‘Rubbish!’ Kaelia shivered from the transference of power.
Such a feeling, a powerful, intoxicating feeling.
Only achievable with Bran.
No-one else.
No-one else could make her feel like this.
They were two sides of a coin.
Night and day.
Dark and light.
Kaelia shook her head. No, it was the power surge talking, not her, she was
nothing like him and needed nothing from him!
Yet part of her yearned for it, the power they shared whenever they touched.
Right then and there it was as if she needed it so much she couldn’t live without
it.

 

Meanwhile Calix, another human friend, has been taken by Thom to be turned into a Draugr – will Kaelia be able to reach him in time?  The battles and deceptions rage throughout the tale, until Kaelia is left at the end in no doubt as to what her destiny really means.

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Book review Mortiswood 3

 

It is very difficult to give a succinct outline of the story and give no spoilers…in fact there is so much action in this chapter of the Mortiswood tales that it impossible to make it succinct.  It feels like being on a rollercoaster ride as the tale lurches from one action packed event to another with such high energy and speed.  I love the way that the realms of the fantasy world are woven into our mundane world, with crucial battle scenes happening at the seafront at Margate!  The writing is colourful and bright, painting a great image of the characters and the action – the descriptions of the bone furniture in the Salloki fortress are particularly gruesome!  The characters all go from strength to strength – goodies & baddies! – developing their good or evil sides, their mystical powers and using their humanity.  The relationships between the characters continue to weave in and out of love, deception, alliances and sworn enemies.  This is not the final instalment of the Mortiswood story and Ms Dickerson leaves us on the edge of our seats with a cliff-hanger…..

Another thoroughly enjoyable, easy to read tale – Mortiswood remains a guilty pleasure for this middle-aged mum!! 4 stars.

Links:

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon US

 

About the author:

Gina Dickerson Profile pic
Gina Dickerson lives by the Thanet coast on the north-eastern tip of
Kent within the UK, with her family and bouncy Siberian husky.
Having previously worked for a Local Authority, and been a Systems
Supervisor for the departmental database, Gina is now a full-time
author and designer. Her books include the dark urban fantasy
Mortiswood Tales series, Lies Love Tells – part of the thrilling romantic
suspense Eastcove Lies series, dark fairy tales The Pennington
Christmas Curse and Always Golden, as well as a collection of her dark
short stories, Underleaf.
Gina has also written newspaper articles, and was a fashion and
shopping columnist for her local newspaper, as well as having had short
stories and poetry published in anthologies. She designs book covers
and other promotional material under the name RoseWolf Design, and
belongs to the author co-operative Authors Reach.

Links
https://www.ginadickersonwriter.co.uk/
https://www.authorsreach.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/GinaDWriter

https://www.facebook.com/ginadickersonwriter

Review of “We All Send Cards” website by Mum’s The Boss – and using my girl’s art for Zebra Girl Cards #EhlersDanlosSyndrome

Zebra Girl fb cover

I have written before in my best proud mum style about the beautiful girl’s art, and not so long ago a friend suggested that we look at getting her work some exposure.  This new website was suggested, where we could show her drawings and paintings, but also create some lovely unique greetings cards for the public to purchase.

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Cards by Zebra Girl (2)

 

Hubby and I talked about Unique Selling Points, the lovely girl just felt embarrassed and didn’t want her name on anything, so using the emblem for our genetic condition, Zebra Girl was born.  We are really hoping that alongside creating art, we might be able to fundraise for The Ehlers Danlos Support UK through selling some greetings cards.  I have just created a facebook page and would appreciate some likes and shares to get the word out there! Art by Zebra Girl facebook page

I know I am a hopeless salesperson and even worse at marketing, so that is why I am sharing a review from Debbie of Mum’s The Boss Blog.  She reviewed the We All Send Cards site, looking at it from an artist’s, business builder and customer perspective.  I hope you enjoy the review and take a look at the site by going direct to Zebra Girl or to the WASC site, – both links will help fundraise for EDSUK.

 

 

“Today I’m taking a look at WeAllSendCards  a new UK website for sending personalised printed cards, which also offers a fantastic business opportunity. There is also a giveaway at the end of the page so please read on…

How many cards do you send in a year? Even excluding the Christmas card marathon, how many do you send?

If you are anything like me, you probably don’t send as many as you would like to.  I’d love to send more birthday cards, thank you cards, and cards to celebrate all kinds of things. I love receiving cards and I think it is lovely to send them too. But the occasions creep up on me and I find I don’t have the right card at the right time and I can’t be bothered to go out and buy a stamp and post them…..does this sound familiar?

I sent myself a Thank you card  just to test out the concept – it was lovely to receive.  This would be great if you were in business – you could put company relevant images inside the card and thank your customers and suppliers. you could also put a coupon or QR code in there if you wanted to. But it’s also nice for your personal occasions.

You have two options for delivery with these cards.  Firstly you can have them totally printed and just send them directly to your recipient. Alternatively (and this is great), you can part-personalise them and then have them sent to you in cellophane – you can then hand write a bit on the card and send them on.  They tend to arrive at the first destination about 4-6 business days after you order them (more if you are posting abroad) but as long as you leave yourself a week or more of notice then this is a great service…….continued”

 

 

Debbie goes on to explain that as an artist or designer there are both business and creator opportunities at We All Send Cards.  For Debbie’s complete article please visit  Mum’s The Boss.

 

 

 

 

The-MondayMotivation

Just Out: The Year that Changed Everything” by Cathy Kelly – Book Review #SundayBlogShare

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Publication Day!

The Year That Changed Everything by Cathy Kelly

Disclaimer: Thanks to The Book Club on Facebook, I was fortunate to be given an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All views are my own.

When I was told I had been chosen to receive this book I was absolutely delighted – I am a huge Cathy Kelly fan and have always loved her brand of contemporary Irish female fiction.  But this also comes with the possibility of being disappointed by one of my favourite authors and having to write a review!

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Cathy Kelly

Ginger, Sam and Callie are three Irish women all about to reach a milestone birthday.  They have never met, lead completely different lives but share the same birthday – a day on which they will turn 30, 40 and 50.  Ginger is not celebrating her 30th how she had pictured it, in fact her personal life is far from anything she had dreamed of and she is now bridesmaid at her best friend’s wedding on her own birthday. Overweight, overlooked, overdressed in a hideous bridesmaid dress and single.  Meanwhile Sam is planning a quiet day for her 40th birthday as she prepares for the imminent arrival of a much-wanted baby.  After years of failing to conceive she is finally pregnant and feeling excited, yet terrified in equal measure when her waters break. Happy birthday, Sam!  Callie is the woman with everything.  She was a model in her youth and is still has beauty and poise, has a handsome, successful husband, a beautiful home and her greatest pride, her teenage daughter.  To the guests attending her lavish 50th birthday party she appears to live a charmed life.

The stories of these women are written in separate chapters, each chapter titled with one of their names. So, whilst the stories are completely separate, they weave around each other as the chapters progress over the following year of the title.  I enjoyed the way that the author wrote this, although I think I would have preferred reading it from a book rather than on the Kindle – just my preference as I tend to flip back in this style of writing.  Their birthdays all mark a huge change in circumstance for each of them with Ginger overhearing a damning conversation about herself, Sam giving birth to a beautiful daughter and the police breaking up the perfect party at Callie’s.  I am trying very hard here not to write any spoilers!

I have always the loved the passion that Cathy Kelly puts into her writing, and this book is no exception.  These women become real as their stories emerge from the page and their characters grow.  I don’t think that there will be a mother out there who can’t identify with Sam’s feelings of absolute fear as she takes her new born home – “how do I do this? How can I keep her safe? What if I can’t do this? What if I don’t bond? I don’t know what to do and I’m terrified of failing”.  Sam has another reason that is driving her fear and this is deeply connected with her family.  She has been a career woman, but not by choice, whilst her sister has a young family and seems to be the perfect mummy – their own mother is not the role model either of them would ask for, making for difficult relationships.  Ginger flourishes in front of our eyes as she throws herself, quite literally, into her work as a journalist (remember no spoilers) whilst grieving friendships and the lack of a man in her life, but that is not to say it is without some tremendous lows and heartbreak.  For Callie’s tale, all that I will say is that I grew to feel a huge respect for this woman as her world is literally pulled from beneath her feet, leaving her fighting for herself, her daughter and her self respect.

The chapters of the stories wind around each other like twines of ivy until there is one strengthened plant growing…a year on and an epilogue brings them to common ground.  Cathy Kelly has surpassed herself in the realms of female fiction here with warmth, wisdom, tears and laughter….I needn’t have worried as it completely lived up to my expectations. 5 stars

Publisher: Orion 22nd Feb 2018

Goodreads

Available from Amazon:

 

About the Author:

Cathy Kelly is published around the world, with millions of books in print. Cathy is the bestselling author of The Honey Queen, Once in a Lifetime and Between Sisters, and is a No.1 bestseller in the UK, Ireland and Australia. Her trademark is warm and witty Irish storytelling about modern life, always with an uplifting message, a sense of community and strong female characters at the heart.
She lives with her family and their three dogs in County Wicklow, Ireland. She is also an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland, raising funds and awareness for children orphaned by or living with HIV/AIDS.
Find out more at www.cathykelly.com or follow her on Twitter @cathykellybooks