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Archive for June, 2017

Hello and welcome along to another Friday, it’s time to celebrate another great book from another brilliant indie publisher!  This time I am shining the light on The Dome Press and sharing a review of J.D. Fennell’s debut novel “Sleeper”.


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Book Feature:

Description:

Sixteen-year-old Will Starling is pulled from the sea with no memory of his past. In his blazer is a strange notebook with a bullet lodged inside: a bullet meant for him. As London prepares for the Blitz, Will soon finds himself pursued by vicious agents and a ruthless killer known as the Pastor. All of them want Will’s notebook and will do anything to get it.

As Will’s memory starts to return, he realises he is no ordinary sixteen-year old. He has skills that make him a match for any assassin. But there is something else. At his core is a deep-rooted rage that he cannot explain. Where is his family and why has no one reported him missing?

Fighting for survival with the help of Mi5 agent-in-training, Anna Wilder, Will follows leads across London in a race against time to find the Stones of Fire before the next air raid makes a direct hit and destroys London forever.

My Thoughts & Review:

When I first heard about “Sleeper” I was intrigued, tales set during the Blitz always hold a fascination for me, throw in the fact that this is a fast paced, adventure thriller and you’re on to a winner in my eyes.

From the moment I picked up this book to flick through it I was hooked, there was something about the style of writing that captured my attention and drove me to read on.  Short chapters make this a quick and thrilling read, and there is action a plenty to entertain readers.
Will Starling is an interesting character, in the first three chapters he is portrayed as someone who is trying to do the best that he can in a difficult situation, yes he is somewhat of a suspicious young man what with his connections in the beginning, but his conscience seems to hold him in check, he has a sense of morality when it comes to the greater good and protecting others.  As the plot moves on, Will becomes victim to an amnesia and struggles with the mental block in place.  Who is he?  How did he get here?  Why is there a bullet in the notebook in his blazer pocket?  As the adrenaline surges through Will when he realises he’s in danger the pace of the book turns this into a frantic page turner.  Trying to work out who is after him and why, Will faces the impossible task of finding safety and working out who he can trust.

The action crackles throughout this book, and even in the “quieter” moments of the story the still moves on at an exciting pace.  Mystery and intrigue lurk in the shadows, the setting of Blitz London makes this wonderfully intense as events taking place provide great cover for some of the goings on in this story.  The way in which the settings are described is skilfully done, the reader can conjure vivid images of the the locations mentioned in the book, and I particularly liked the descriptions of the school that Will ends up at, my imagination was happily wandering down corridors.

The characters in this are so well fleshed out, Will granted is a little enigma, his amnesia making him a potentially unreliable narrator, but nonetheless he is still very interesting, and a character that readers will feel drawn to.  Whether readers are a fan of his action packed assassin skills or feel sympathetic to his remorse towards the casualties that occur along the way, this is a well created persona that draws the audience in.

Although this book is aimed towards a Young Adult audience, I think it would be a hit with many fans of action thrillers, there is certainly enough in the plot to entertain most fans and the ending sets things up perfectly for another instalment.

My thanks to Emily Glenister at The Dome Press for a copy of this book to read and review.

You can buy a copy of “Sleeper” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository


Author Feature:

JD Fennell Headshot

J.D. was born in Belfast at the start of the Troubles, and began writing stories at a young age to help understand the madness unfolding around him. A lover of reading, he devoured a diverse range of books – his early influences include Fleming, Tolkien, Shakespeare and the Brontës.

He left Belfast at the age of nineteen and worked as a chef, bartender, waiter and later began a career in writing for the software industry.

These days he divides his time between Brighton and London, where he lives with his partner and their two dogs.

 

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

I love being “in the zone” of writing a book, where, on a daily basis, I can slip from reality and into the head of someone else in another world or time. That is the gift of writing.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

My least favourite thing about being a writer is that I don’t have a magical time stopping device that would allow me the luxury of banging out all the ideas that are whirling around in my head  on or ahead of schedule.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why? 

There are so many, however, my choice is The North Water, by Ian McGuire. This book is a disturbing, fast-paced tale of an ill-fated Yorkshire whaling ship bound for the Arctic Circle. It is the story of Patrick Summer, an Irish ex-army doctor with a broken reputation, and the brutal and bloodthirsty, Henry Drax. The story builds to a gripping confrontation between the two men against the backdrop of a bleak Arctic landscape. Full of surprises, and wonderfully written, I absolutely wished I had written this book.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I am not one of those authors that makes a living from writing, so I have a day job, which takes up a lot of my time and headspace. Out of work, I read as much fiction as I can and always have a book to hand. I also love to cook and travel.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

I only write long hand for notes and post-its. I can pretty much write anywhere, however, I normally do so in the morning, sometimes starting as early as 6 am. I work in my kitchen, sitting at the kitchen table overlooking the garden. I have no rituals as such. However if I walk in to find unwashed dishes, then I won’t be able to write until everything has been cleaned and tidied. It’s like I am shifting the clutter from my head and clearing a path for the next block of words.  Come evening time, if my brain is not fried, then I will squeeze out more words.

 

A huge thank you to J.D. Fennell for joining me today and sharing a little more about himself and his writing process, there’s always dishes to be done in this house so feel free to bring your marigolds!

For more information about this author and his fantastic book check out his website https://www.sleeperbook.com/ or follow him on Twitter @jd_fennell

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If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page

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Published: 26 January 2017

Description:

She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.

After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start. Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died.

Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though.

But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie. And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.

Her husband’s lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her?

My Thoughts & Review:

Her Husband’s Lover is a psychological thriller that deserves to be read with your full attention – turn off your mobile, unhook the landline, send everyone out of the house for the day and get comfy because this is a book that once started will draw you in and keep you reading all day.

Without regurgitating the plot, I will say that Crouch sets up the intensely twisting tale with a wonderful opening gambit – a woman frantically fleeing a pursuer, she is desperate, she is scared and is running for the freedom of herself and her children.  An opening like that instantly grabs the attention of the reader and draws then in.
Louisa does escape, but the subsequent crash is devastating for her, it claims the life of her children and the husband she had been fleeing.  And her injuries were so severe that she was comatose and then had to undergo intensive physio and psychotherapies as part of her recovery.  However her recovery is hampered somewhat by the vendetta of Sophie, the girlfriend of her late husband.  Sophie refuses to believe any of the “lies” that Louisa tells at the inquest about Sam, and the ruling that his death was not her fault is the catalyst for a dark and twisted quest for vengeance against Louisa.

Julia Crouch writes with a wonderful ability to get under the skin of her readers, her characters are superb creations that evoke great emotion from the captive audience.  She writes scenes that cause a reader to squirm uncomfortably but all the while they are powerless to put the book down, driven on by the urge to know what happens next.
Cleverly weaving narration by Louisa and Sophie that encompasses the past and the present, Crouch builds tension and suspense effortlessly.  This slow build allows for an incredibly powerful climactic ending that will stay with the reader after finishing.

You can pre-order a copy of My Husband’s Lover here.

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BlackHornet FINAL

Published 12 June 2017

 

Description:

The Black Hornet: an action packed and utterly gripping thriller from the best-selling James Ryker series

What do you do when the love of your life vanishes without a trace? If you’re ex-intelligence agent James Ryker you search for the answers whatever the cost, however much blood and sacrifice it takes…

Six months ago Lisa was taken from Ryker, and he’ll stop at nothing to find out who is responsible and why. Following a trail to Mexico, the ex-Joint Intelligence Agency asset soon finds himself in the firing line of enemies he long thought he’d left behind. Set-up for the murder of a former informant, Ryker is thrown into a crumbling jail run by The Black Hornet, the notorious leader of a Mexican drug cartel. But what connects the cartel to the informant’s murder, and to Lisa’s disappearance? And just who is the mystery American claiming he can help Ryker in his hour of need?

The Black Hornet is the second book in the bestselling James Ryker series. Part Bourne, part Reacher, it’s an explosive and action-packed thriller to rival any other.

My Thoughts & Review:

When I heard that Rob Sinclair’s follow up to “The Red Cobra” was coming out I was ecstatic, I absolutely loved this book and was keen to find out what happened next with Ryker.  It’s only fair to mention now that if you’ve not read “The Red Cobra” I would recommend heading over to Amazon and buying a copy so that you can get background on Ryker but also for the fact that “The Black Hornet” picks up where the first book left off.

Ryker heads to Mexico in search of information that will lead him to his missing wife Lisa, but things don’t go to plan and soon ends up in jail with some colourful members of the local cartels, a very precarious position for our protagonist to be in.  Some of the prison scenes make for difficult reading, and there were moments I wanted to hide behind my hands but all credit to Rob Sinclair, he really knows how to write these scenes for maximum impact and make his readers wince.  I really don’t want to say too much about the plot through fear of letting anything slip.
And as with the first book in the series, this is an action packed read with fights, chases and all the necessary ingredients to make a spectacular thriller.  The plotting of this is excellent, so taut and peppered with clever subtleties that readers will curse themselves for missing when all is revealed – yes I admit I missed some of those as I was so caught up in the moment reading I almost forgot I was supposed to be reviewing the book!

This was the second book I’ve read from this author, and it’s safe to say that Rob Sinclair has secured his place on my bookshelf next to my Lee Child collection.  My fascination with James Ryker continues to develop and I find myself wondering if he will ever be free of the JIA and live the quiet life he covets.  This book also left me struggling to make my mind up about other characters, Sinclair managing to keep me questioning their trustworthiness and their motives throughout.

A fantastic instalment in a promising series, and I cannot wait for the next one!

You can buy a copy of “The Black Hornet” via Amazon here

 

My thanks to Rob Sinclair and Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the opportunity to read this and take part in the blog tour.

About the Author:

Rob is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Enemy series of espionage thrillers featuring embattled agent Carl Logan. Together the explosive series (comprising Dance with the Enemy, Rise of the Enemy and Hunt for the Enemy) has now sold more than 150,000 copies worldwide. His work has been praised for its relentless pace, multiple twists and breathtaking action.

Although Rob has more Logan books in the pipeline, his upcoming release with Bloodhound Books marks a slight change in direction, moving away from pure action thrills to psychological suspense (albeit still with a healthy dose of action!).

Rob began writing in 2009 following a promise to his wife, an avid reader, that he could pen a ‘can’t put down’ thriller. He worked for nearly 13 years for a global accounting firm after graduating from The University of Nottingham in 2002, specialising in forensic fraud investigations at both national and international levels. Rob now writes full time.

Rob’s website is www.robsinclairauthor.com and he can be followed on twitter at @RSinclairAuthor

Why not follow the blog tour and head over to Liz Loves Books

Blog Tour (11)

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Paperback published 1 June 2017

 

Description:

The pain woke him up. He was grateful for it. The train had stopped and somewhere, up above them, the drone of aircraft engines filled the night sky. He could almost remember her smile . . . It must be the morphine . . . He had managed not to think about her for months now.

1944. Paul Brandt, a soldier in the German army, returns wounded and ashamed from the bloody chaos of the Eastern front to find his village home much changed and existing in the dark shadow of an SS rest hut – a luxurious retreat for those who manage the concentration camps, run with the help of a small group of female prisoners who – against all odds – have so far survived the war.

When, by chance, Brandt glimpses one of these prisoners, he realizes that he must find a way to access the hut. For inside is the woman to whom his fate has been tied since their arrest five years before, and now he must do all he can to protect her.

But as the Russian offensive moves ever closer, the days of this rest hut and its SS inhabitants are numbered. And while hope – for Brandt and the female prisoners – grows tantalizingly close, the danger too is now greater than ever.

And, in a forest to the east, a young female Soviet tank driver awaits her orders to advance . .

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Constant Soldier” is an incredibly wonderful novel set in 1944 following Paul Brandt a German soldier.  After being severely wounded in the line of duty on the Eastern Front he is sent home to convalesce and it is from here that the tale really begins.  Paul’s return home brings him face to face with the devastation left in the wake of the ongoing war, life has changed immeasurably for German citizens, the villagers that he remembers are different people – whether aiding in the war effort, victims of the Nazis or simply gone.  As Paul and his father make their way towards the family farm, Paul’s eyes are drawn to an SS rest hut and the female prisoners working there, and he is startled to realise he recognises one of them.

Through atmospheric flashbacks the reader is immersed in Paul’s life before the army, giving a wonderful insight to the man he was before the Nazi war machine spat him out and more importantly hinting towards the link between Paul and the female prisoner.
The sights that Paul saw during the war have undoubtedly left their mark on him, he is haunted by what has been done in the name of Germany and for victory and wants to atone for these sins.

William Ryan has written an exceptionally emotive novel, the writing itself is a thing of sheer beauty.  The fragility of the characters juxtaposes expertly with the danger and harshness of their situations.  The female prisoners surviving from one day to the next, fearfully alert for any punishment that might be meted out is just one example.  Another is the wonderful imagery of the advancing Soviet forces with young Polya the tank driver.  A young female who has worked on her tank from the moment it came into creation, she cares for her tank and cares about it even though it is an instrument of war.  This contrasts well with the menacing edge that builds with the advancement of the Soviets.
The physical descriptions of characters and settings are almost overpowering in places, the omnipotence of the German officers is evident through the writing, their actions inspiring abhorrence from the reader.  The brutality of the treatment faced by prisoners is not sugar coated, the atrocious acts carried out by the German army are detailed in places to add depth and authenticity and in doing so, William Ryan does his readers a service.  The portrayal of life during WWII depicts the harsh realities and the determination of partisans to do what they could to obstruct the ruling forces.

Paul Brandt is an extraordinary character, whilst not proud of what he has done, he wants to redeem himself.  Drawing a metaphorical line in the sand, he intends to live a life of atonement from that point onwards.

“The Constant Soldier” is a very special book, one that I will be marking out to read again very soon.  The emotion that it evoked from me was powerful and I absolutely loved every frantic moment of this book, my heart broke for the characters, I felt elation for those fleeting moments of victory for some characters but best of all I felt utterly immersed in this book.

Now I’m off to treat myself to other books by this author…..

My thanks to Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin for the recommendation and to William Ryan for sending me a copy of this truly exquisite book, I am forever in your debts.

You can buy a copy of “The Constant Soldier” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

 

 

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Hello and welcome along to my stop on the blog tour for “Winter Downs” by Jan Edwards.  I am thrilled to be able to share chapter one of this book, which is the first in the “Bunch Courtney Investigates” series.

Description:

Winter Downs Jan Edwards front cover

In January of 1940 a small rural community on the Sussex Downs, already preparing for invasion from across the Channel, finds itself deep in the grip of a snowy landscape, with an ice-cold killer on the loose.

Bunch Courtney stumbles upon the body of Jonathan Frampton in a woodland clearing. Is this a case of suicide, or is it murder? Bunch is determined to discover the truth but can she persuade the dour Chief Inspector Wright to take her seriously?

 

 

 

You can buy a copy of “Winter Downs” via:

Amazon


Book Extract:
Chapter One

The first gunshot flushed a clamour of rooks into a yellowish sky to circle their tribal elms. Rose Courtney glanced at Daphne and wondered if she even noticed them. Since George’s funeral it was so difficult to know whether her younger sibling was wool gathering or had sunk so deep into mourning she simply failed to acknowledge her surroundings.  Understandable, Rose thought, but it’s still frustrating. She had intended this hack across the Downs to lift the spirits. It would be Rose and Daphne – or Bunch and Dodo as their family knew them – riding out just like old times. Except that it was anything but the old times, and even Bunch was beginning to concede that, on this occasion, horse riding might not provide the answer. She tucked rogue strands of dark hair beneath her hat, secured her plaid scarf, and thought how tempting it would be to return home. The sky had grown heavier in the half hour they had been out and fresh snow was beginning to fall in earnest.  The second blast was louder and deeper than the first, scattering rooks and pigeons in a fresh flurry, setting Dodo’s horse into a fidget. Bunch waited without comment for her sister to bring the animal under control.  ‘Pigeons.’ Dodo looked upwards, allowing snowflakes to flutter across her cheeks. ‘Georgie loved them. Cook bakes them with pears and a little port.’ It was the first time Bunch had heard Dodo mention her husband without prompting, and without tears, since the funeral. That’s a good sign, surely? ‘They don’t have a lot of meat on them,’ she said aloud. ‘Hardly worth the cartridge.’ She slapped her Fell pony’s neck, muttering, ‘Easy Perry, steady lad,’ though her mount had barely twitched so much as an ear. Her sister’s mare sidled nervously again so that its hooves slithered on the snow covered slope. ‘Everything all right, Dodo?’

‘The old girl’s a bit fresh from the box but I won’t let her get her head.’ Dodo backed her horse a few paces to prove control. ‘See? All tickety-boo.’ A seedling smile touched her face as she adjusted immaculate gloves and cuffs. Trust Dodo, Bunch thought. Middle of a windblown Sussex hillside and she still thinks it’s a fashion parade. Her own passions had been fixated on horses since she could first reach a stirrup which, their mother maintained, was why her eldest daughter had descended into old maid-dom at the ripe age of thirty-two. Bunch had always considered her habit of speaking her mind had far more to do with it. ‘You’re looking chilled, old thing. Want to go back?’  ‘No, I’m happy to carry on.’ Dodo resettled her tweed fedora over silk headscarf and waved toward the trees. ‘Let’s cut through Hascombe Wood. We’ll be out of the wind.’ ‘Absolutely. After you.’ Bunch allowed Dodo to take the lead and used the moment to stand in her stirrups to ease damaged joints. A few months on from the accident in France she still ached. She maintained that riding out every day would see it heal itself, and that Dodo would be fine if she would only follow suit. As this was Dodo’s first real show of animation since George’s death, Bunch was reluctant to squash that tiny spark by heading home. ‘Heel, Roger. Come here, damn you!’ She put two fingers in her mouth and whistled up her yellow Labrador. Roger snapped at the patch of snow as he ran, mouth wide in a canine grin, and in no special hurry to obey despite her cussing. He was getting on in years but allowing him to become victim to the pet culls of the previous year had been unthinkable for her boy.  A southerly gust, straight off the Channel, sliced across Bunch’s forehead. She pulled her hat down and scarf up to lessen the expanse of skin open to the elements. ‘Best keep moving,’ she mumbled, ‘before we freeze to death.’ They followed the wood’s perimeter to the bridle path that cut through its centre. Hascombe Wood now covered around fifteen acres, a mere scrap of the ancient forest that had once carpeted both the Sussex Weald and the Downs in a single swathe of green.  The rooks had circled back to their roost and were calling to each other in more conversational tones, and somewhere in a nearby field the estate’s David Brown tractor was being pushed to its limits; they were the only sounds to be heard as the women entered the wood.  They rode in near silence until they reached the first large clearing where several woodland giants had been felled and stacked to one side of the glade. Bunch pulled off her tweed hat and ruffled her wool-itched scalp. With her ears uncovered, the pitter-patter of gritty snow in the trees, the odd creak of branches, and the steady clumping of hooves on centuries of leaf litter were clearly audible. She breathed in the scents of sheer cold mixed with the rich tang of the old leaves stirred up beneath hoof. A peaceful moment until the dog cut across the stillness with a frantic barking.  ‘Roger, do shut up,’ Bunch shouted. ‘Be quiet!’ The Labrador ceased his yammering but continued with something closer to a howl. His tail and hackles were up as he harried a stand of sweet chestnut that sprouted at drunken angles to each other. Bunch slid from the saddle and walked to the trees but stopped just short of them as she glimpsed a motionless figure seated between the trunks.  ‘Hey, you there.’ Bunch edged forward. There had been many displaced people passing through in recent months, people who might take refuge in the wood, but it took a strange sort of person who did not to react to Roger’s noise. ‘Hello? Are you all right? Are you … oh, good heavens.’ She caught hold of Roger’s collar and tugged him into a sit as she realised what she was seeing. ‘Dear God,’ she muttered. A man was slumped in the bowl of a split tree. His hands hung loosely along thighs, legs stretched out before him. His head lolled forward obscuring what was left of its features. The rear of his skull had been blown away and smears of dark pinkish brain matter had spattered across the bark immediately behind, dotted with shards of bone. Bunch flexed her fingers against the blood rush tingling through them and released one deep breath before taking another, and edged forward for a closer look. Though she could not see his face she knew this was not the corpse of someone unknown. This body had a name, and she would have known him anywhere. Calm, she told herself, be calm. Bunch recognised the Westley Richards near the dead man’s feet and it left little doubt as to what had caused the massive damage to his skull. She clapped a hand across her mouth to stop her stomach adding more colour to the scene. She had seen a few corpses during her brief stint driving BEF staff cars in France. Many of the corpses had been far more mutilated than this one. Beside, they had been different. They had lacked identity but this corpse had a face and a name that Bunch had known all of her life. This body had not been slaughtered by a mindless steel capsule packed with explosives, dropped from far above. This corpse had come to be through a deliberate and very personal act of violence. This was Jonathan Frampton. She wiped at her eyes and shuddered out another draconic steaming into the cold air. Pull yourself together. Never waver. That’s the Courtney way.  ‘Oh Jonny,’ she whispered, ‘what in hell has been going on here?’ Bracing herself for the routine she had last practised with the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, Bunch crouched to feel beneath his collar for the carotid artery though she knew finding a pulse would be highly unlikely. His flesh was cold in the refrigerating winter wind and unyielding to her touch, but not yet fully stiffened in rigor. The red splattering all around was dulling to brown, telling her that the blood had ceased flowing several hours ago. Long before those shots we’d heard just moments ago.  ‘Bunch?’ Dodo was dismounting and looping the reins of both horses over a fallen tree. ‘What’s going on?’ Bunch held her left hand, palm out, toward her sister as she pulled the excited dog away from the corpse with the other. ‘Stay there, Dodo. Please. Just stay there.’ ‘What is it? Oh dear, is he dead?’ ‘Yes, he is.’ ‘Is it … is it someone we know?’ Dodo craned her neck to see around Bunch, taking another step forward.  ‘You don’t need to see, truly. It’s Jonny. Jonathan Frampton.’ ‘No, it can’t be. Jonny’s away up north for another month or more. He told me so himself.’ ‘It is him. Absolutely. No question.’  Dodo stared at the body, her features asserting the quiet control they had both been raised to practise. The trembling in her hands that she held close to her face was evidence to the contrary.  Best get her as far away from this as quickly as possible. Bunch slipped her hand beneath her sister’s elbow and guided her back to the horses. ‘There may be evidence here so we shouldn’t trample around too much. Look Dodo, why don’t you ride on home and telephone for PC Botting? I’ll wait here. Somebody should.’ ‘Are you certain?’ ‘I am. Absolutely. Take Roger with you. He’ll only be a bloody nuisance here.’ She gave Dodo a boost into the saddle and watched her ride out of sight, with only a few words but a few dozen misgivings.  Perry nodded vigorously, snickering after his stable mate. Bunch worried that he would chill standing in the flow of the wind, and led him around to the far side of the log stack where there was some respite. She adjusted his quarter sheet to cover as much of his rump as possible and went to sit on the end of the log pile where she could watch over the body.  The trees towered around her; they felt not unlike a cathedral with the building’s whispered sibilance echoed by the surrounding woodland. Keeping vigil, she thought and shivered, not entirely through the chill. She missed Roger’s comforting presence. Dodo will need it more though, silly old sausage. She scrabbled through her inside pocket for the hip-flask and raised it toward the corpse. ‘God speed,’ she called, and took a small mouthful, swilling it around her gums and swallowing, feeling the warmth welling into her throat. She rattled the container and pulled a face. It was half empty and there was a good hour to wait before anyone came to help. It’s a long time cold. Bunch took another quick swig and swapped the flask for a cigarette case, taking her time in tapping the white cylinder on the silvered lid, glancing around the clearing, her gaze skating over the body. She struck a match, cupping her long hands to protect the flame, and once sure the tobacco glowed red leaned her head back to send the first lungful of smoke upwards into the falling snow. It was a ritual calming, a gathering of wits that came from habit. Even alone she would not willingly permit emotion to surface. The horse muttered at the waft of sulphurous match and tobacco smoke, which made her smile. ‘Yes, Perry, I know. All the bloody vices. You’re starting to sound like Mother.’ She flicked the spent matchstick in his general direction and drew again on the tailor-made cigarette, expelling blue-grey mist at the trees. There are matters that need to be addressed and I shall address them like a Courtney – once I’ve gathered a few wits about me.  Bunch waited and smoked and gazed across the space between her and the lifeless body of her old friend. She had a clear view of Jonny’s legs and torso but his face was obscured, and she was glad of that. She did not relish staring at what remained of it for however long it took Stan Botting to arrive.  Her attention began to wander over the surrounding terrain. Tracks in the snow were masked by dark slices of leaf mould, and she amused herself by guessing the cause of each line and heap. Her own boot prints were clearly discernible and Roger was the likely culprit for most of the rest. Other dips and furrows, however, had been made indistinct by fresh snow so that none could be read with any certainty. They could have been made by deer or sheep – or by Jonny. She lit another cigarette and as she scuffed the cold match beneath her boot a metallic glint caught her attention. Bunch bent to retrieve a spent .22 cartridge and held it up at eye level. Its strong cordite odour cut through the tobacco smoke. This was a fresh firing, no question in her mind. The Westley Richards lying at Jonny’s feet certainly posed another query.  There’s every chance the .22 has been ejected from some poacher’s rifle. The Jenner brothers are in these woods several times a week, she thought. Yet, it was in the surface snow. It can’t have been here much longer than poor Jonny has. She slipped the cartridge into her pocket and wandered across to stare at Jonny’s remains. He might be wearing his boots and a good wool suit but where’s his coat and scarf? And gloves? Jonny is – was – a chilly morsel despite all those years in drafty farm houses and freezing school dorms. ‘What were you doing out here, dressed this way?’ she said aloud.  Bunch rubbed at her arms, chilled now by more than the iced wind. ‘I do not believe you would kill yourself. I don’t believe it. I won’t believe it.’ Crouching down she stared long into his bloodied face. What were you thinking, my darling boy? This is not who you are. You were in the choir. You talked about taking the cloth. You’d never kill yourself. So what is this about? ‘Oh, damn it all to hell. It makes no sense.’ She wheeled back to her log seat, scrubbing out the cigarette against the bark before lighting another within a minute. She knew what this looked like, what other people would see, yet she could not, would not, believe that Jonathan Frampton would take his own life. The image of his placing the Westley’s barrel beneath his chin and pulling the trigger denied all he had ever believed in. What or who had brought her old friend to this secluded spot, surely it was not to kill himself. Of that she was utterly convinced.  ~~~ Noises coming from beyond the trees drew Bunch to her feet and she took out the flask for one final nip. As she returned the empty container to her pocket her fingers brushed against the brass cartridge. She drew it out and turned it end over end just a few inches from her eyes, mesmerised by its brilliance. ‘Whatever else happens, Jonny,’ she murmured, ‘I shall get to the truth.’ ‘Miss Rose.’ PC Stan Botting scrunched along the woodland path with a steady tread that spoke of many nights on the beat. He was a tall man of even proportions, his most defining features being a neatly trimmed moustache and serious brown eyes, which took in the scene with a professional calm. ‘This is a sorry thing, Miss Courtney.’ He saluted Bunch gravely. ‘Not what you might expect.’ ‘It certainly is not.’ She watched him pick his way over to the corpse and go through the same pointless ritual of confirming death. ‘Where is my sister?’ ‘Miss Daphne – beg pardon – Mrs Tinsley stayed at Perringham House, I imagine.’ He picked up the shotgun, out of the deepening snow, and trudged back to her. ‘A sorry day, indeed. He’s dead of course. No question. And from the state of him it’s the worst kind of passing.’ ‘What could possibly be worse than being killed?’ ‘Suicide, Miss. From what I can see here it’s the most logical explanation. He took his own life. Sad thing for a young man to do.’  It was all Bunch could do not to shout at him. Botting was not a stupid man and this stating of the seemingly obvious was beneath him. ‘Jonny would never do that,’ she muttered. ‘There’s folks do it every week of the year. Always a tragedy,’ Botting continued. ‘We’ll need the Coroner to confirm it, of course, but there’s little doubt in my mind.’ ‘Is the Coroner coming now?’ ‘Eventually. But you don’t need to stand around waitin’ for him, Miss. No need for you to catch your death. You pop along home now.’ He gestured at the path. ‘Someone’s coming now, so you cut along and I’ll be down the house for your statement later.’ ‘No, I’ll wait,’ she said.  ‘If you’re sure now?’ ‘I’m certain.’ She had barely sat back on her tree trunk before Major Barty Tinsley stumbled into view, puffing steam far harder than Botting had with the exertion of the climb.  ‘Rose, good to see you. Or it would be if it wasn’t in such sad circumstances.’ Dodo’s father-in-law swept off his Europeanstyled fur hat and used it to beat snow from his coat before cramming it back on his balding head. Barty was a big boned man, shorter then Botting by half a head, yet muscular enough to fill any doorway. He went to examine the scene at closer quarters and rose within moments, shaking his head emphatically. ‘Very sad. Suicide quite obviously. Is there a note?’ ‘I’ve looked,’ Bunch replied, ‘but nothing, so far as I can see.’ ‘That would be unusual. In my experience people are usually compelled to leave some final words. Perhaps it was blown away. Or he left it at the farm.’ Tinsley looked around the clearing with obvious disgust. ‘It hardly matters. The circumstances are clear enough.’ ‘I am not so sure about that,’ said Bunch. ‘Besides, it’s not for you or me to say. It’s up to the Coroner. What brings you here, in any case, Barty?’ ‘I was at lunch with Lewis when Botting called. I thought I should offer to assist.’ I bet you did, she thought. Never miss a chance to play at Army with your bloody LDV. ‘Where is Doctor Lewis?’ She looked past him. ‘He must be here to pronounce death before the Coroner arrives, one would think.’

‘He hoped to be along with the stretcher party but there was an emergency call. He thought the needs of the living were more urgent.’ ‘Of course. Anyway, the Coroner will be here soon.’ ‘Unlikely before the morning,’ said Tinsley. ‘I heard that snow has set in deeper along the coast road and if we have another fall tonight then he will be delayed further still. I am here as his proxy, in my official capacity as a magistrate, of course.’ Tinsley raised his chin, challenging Bunch to disagree. ‘Daphne told Botting it looked like suicide,’ he added. ‘She would appear to have been correct.’ He nodded agreement with his own judgement. ‘Jonathan was involved in some rather delicate war work, from what I gather. Pressure was too much for him, perhaps?’ He glanced at Bunch and clamped his lips together in a white line. ‘Saul Frampton told me the boy failed his RAF medical. Some chaps are just not up to the mark.’ There was an implication that Jonathan had somehow deliberately evaded service and it stung. Bunch had always recognised Jonny as a gentle man and it angered her that men like Tinsley mistook that for weakness. ‘I don’t think he did it. Jonny wasn’t the sort. I can’t quite see what’s what as yet but something very wrong occurred up here.’ ‘Wrong? Of course there is something wrong. A young man takes his own life? There’s nothing right in tha—’ He shook his head. ‘Not the time or place.’ ‘I concur, Barty. The Coroner will make a decision at the inquest, of course. I don’t know what procedure is but shouldn’t we make sure he views the scene intact?’ ‘There were two military incidents out at sea and the Coroner has a mortuary filled to the gunwales as a result. He can’t get along before tomorrow, and if we are in for a heavy snow tonight we cannot leave the body where it is. It simply is not practical, especially when the circumstances are so clear. You get along home before the snow gets any worse, Rose. Leave all this to us. No need to bother your head about it in the least bit.’ Bunch breathed harshly through her nose, fighting her impulse to be unspeakably rude. How dare he? The pompous arrogant old dinosaur. The shock of finding her old friend dead in such a ghastly fashion was painful enough. She had been closer to Jonny than almost anyone she knew; she had known him in every sense possible. They had grown from childhood friends into fumbling lovers, exploring the secrets of each other’s bodies in mutual wonder. To her lasting regret the affair had foundered though they had remained the best of friends. Being so comprehensively patronised by Barty Tinsley regarding somebody he barely knew, and who was so close to herself, was positively breath taking. She glanced at Botting, who looked away. Plainly he was not going to argue with the magistrate on her behalf. ‘I think we should wait for Doctor Lewis to give us the benefit of his experience. We two can agree to differ another time.’ She felt pleased at keeping so remarkably collected. Mother would be proud. Tinsley regarded her coldly. ‘What happened here is a terrible shame and totally obvious to everyone – except you, it seems. I realise you mean well, Rose, but you mustn’t get yourself involved. It’s not the right sort of thing for a young lady.’ ‘Jonathan was Georgie’s best pal. They were at Harrow together, and Balliol. It can only help Dodo if we can say Jonny didn’t do such an awful thing, surely?’ She smiled, dropping her chin to come as close as possible to looking up at someone shorter than herself. She was not a flatterer or a flirt by nature but it seemed to work on Tinsley well enough. ‘If speaking with Lewis will put your mind at rest then by all means,’ he said. ‘I’ve seen this sort of thing on the Bench, you know.’ He shook his head. ‘One has to feel sorry for the boy. He found himself unable to carry on with the responsibilities he had been given and shot himself. Some people are simply not cut out for times like these.’ ‘Times like what, exactly?’ said Bunch. ‘War, obviously.’ ‘Jonathan knew as much about war as any of us. Probably more. He was joining some new special Whitehall department,’ she said. ‘Look at him. Look at the shotgun,’ Tinsley said. ‘Stop digging around in things that don’t concern you, Rose Courtney. Or must I speak to your father about it? What young Frampton was working on is not for discussion. Careless tongues, my dear. There’s quite enough for you to worry about without making more.’

‘I doubt we’ve got a Jerry spy hiding in the leaf mould. Oh, and I found this.’ She scrabbled in her pocket and held out the cartridge casing. ‘It was fired today. You can still smell it.’ ‘A .22 wouldn’t make so much mess,’ Tinsley said, ‘not even at point blank. That, however, would be more than capable.’ He pointed to the shotgun. ‘The Major is right, Miss Courtney.’ Botting hefted the Westley and frowned at her. ‘It’s not your place to interfere with the process of law. You cut along, Miss. You’ve had a shock.’ Bunch glanced down at Botting’s other hand clamping her elbow and gently urging her toward the horse. She shook his hand free. She was cold and shocked, of course, but perfectly lucid and starting to realise she was getting nowhere. Tinsley was convinced he was right and Botting would agree out of deference to the magistrate, and because he had little choice. She mounted Perry in silence, compliant only because she was outnumbered. She had no intention of letting it drop. Jonathan Frampton had more joie de vivre than anyone she knew. You will not be remembered for blowing out your own brains, Jonny. I swear by all we held dear that I shall prove it.

 


About the Author:

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Jan Edwards is a Sussex-born writer now living in the West Midlands with her husband and obligatory cats. She was a Master Locksmith for 20 years but also tried her hand at bookselling, microfiche photography, livery stable work, motorcycle sales and market gardening. She is a practising Reiki Master. She won a Winchester Slim Volume prize and her short fiction can be found in crime, horror and fantasy anthologies in UK, US and Europe; including The Mammoth Book of Dracula and The Mammoth Book of Moriarty. Jan edits anthologies for The Alchemy Press and Fox Spirit Press, and has written for Dr Who spinoffs with Reel Time Pictures.

For further information please contact Penkhull Press at: https://thepenkhullpress.wordpress.com/

 

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Hello and happy Friday!
Welcome along to another post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing” , the publisher this week is Urbane Publications, and the book being featured is “The Secret Wound” by Deirdre Quiery.


Book Feature:

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Published: 9th June 2017

Description:

Deirdre Quiery’s follow up to the critical success of Eden Burning, The Secret Wound draws the reader into a complex web of relationships within the ex-pat community in Mallorca, discovering their dangerous secrets…and a potential murderer in their midst. One of their number carries a dark and deadly secret from their past, and has murderous plans for a fellow ex-pat. Can any of the close- knit community discover the brutal plans before they are all put in mortal danger? Deirdre Quiery’s gripping thriller is not just an addictive page turner, but provides a compelling exploration of human emotion and desires, and the terrible costs of jealousy and ambition. Perfect for fans of Jane Corry and Amanda Brooke.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The idea of “The Secret Wound” intrigued me from the outset, it’s a book that holds a multitude of secrets but also heavily features the theme of forgiveness and the idea of finding oneself.  Sounds like quite a lot in one book doesn’t it?  But somehow Deirdre Quiery pulls it off.

We first meet Gurtha who is struggling with the loss of his mother Nuala, her murder leaving him confused and questioning the meaning of life.  On the advice of family friends he heads to Mallorca to take time away from his responsibilities, to try and find himself and more importantly find the answers that make up the meaning of life.  It is during Gurtha’s  day stay in Mallorca that the tale of “The Secret Wound” unfolds and we see things are not as they first seemed.  That’s all I want to say about the plot, otherwise I might give something away!

Beautifully vivid descriptions of settings really bring this book to life, small details about Gurtha sitting in on the bed and hearing the bells of  the sheep on the mountain side, the noise of the birds combine with the description of  La Torretta to conjure a vivid and atmospheric image in my head.  Even descriptions of the sky are wonderfully poetic “The sky was a flowing emerald with streaks of ruby.  Golden light reflected onto the waves, twisting in turquoise and yellow hues into waves which looked like molten olive branches.” Beautifully flowing descriptions transport the reader into another world.

There is a thought provoking quality to this, indeed Gurtha’s realisation “human beings do have a conscience and it will triumph in the end” leads him to think that living a simple life will be more fulfilling and rewarding, that he would be best relying on a moral compass in life.  The way that Nuala lived her life also gives pause for thought, highly thought of for the best of reasons – knowing when to speak up and when not, not judging people but knowing the right thing to do, being content with what you have and enjoying life to the fullest.  I can’t help but wonder if we all were a little more like Nuala there might be less unhappiness around.

You can buy a copy of “The Secret Wound” directly from directly from Urbane Publications here, or alternatively via  Amazon UK | Book Depository


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If you are an independent publisher or author and would like to feature on “Celebrating Indie Publishing” Friday please get in touch – email and twitter links are on the “About Me & Review Policy” page.

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I am delighted to be able to take part in the cover reveal for Paul Mathews’ new book “We Have Lost the Coffee, which sounds to be a witty satire filled read!

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London, 2045. Three months into the Coffee Wars and Britain’s caffeine supplies are at critical levels. Brits are drinking even more tea than usual, keeping a stiff upper lip and praying for an end to it all.

A secret Government coffee stockpile could save the day … but then mysteriously disappears overnight.

One man is asked to unravel the missing-coffee mystery. His name is Pond. Howie Pond. And he’s in desperate need of a triple espresso. Meanwhile, his journalist wife, Britt, is hunting royal fugitive Emma Windsor on the streets of the capital.

Can Howie save the British Republic from caffeine-starved chaos? Will the runaway royal be found? And just what will desperate coffee drinkers do for their next caffeine fix? Find out, in Paul Mathews’ latest comedy-thriller set in the Britain of the future…

‘We Have Lost The Coffee’ is packed with dry British humour, political satire, dozens of comedy characters and enough coffee jokes to keep you awake all night. It’s full of crazy action and adventure in London, and beyond, and is guaranteed to set your pulse racing faster than a quadruple espresso.

So, join Howie, Britt and friends – as well as some enemies – as you travel forward in time to 2040s London.

You can pre order a copy via Amazon now!

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Published: 15 June 2017

Description:

A chilling, exquisitely written and evocative thriller set in the Lake District, centring on the obsessive relationship that develops between two writers…

Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.

Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.

When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops… Or does it?

Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

My Thoughts & Review:

Never before has a book been so perfectly titled, the writing, the plotting, the characterisation, the setting are all utterly exquisite.  There is a raw intensity in this book that is so thought provoking and continuously challenges the reader.  I absolutely loved this book and devoured it in a day, it’s always a good sign with me when I cannot bear to put a book down.

The plot is so clever and so sinister.  All the time I was reading it I was mindful of the passages from the Women’s Prison in Yorkshire, wondering which of the characters had ended up there, guessing and second guessing after reading the chapters that followed.
I loved the way that the reader is left wondering which of the lead characters is the unreliable narrator, and by giving the reader Bo’s point of view initially,  Stovell has very cleverly set the groundwork for her masterful plan.   The flaws of both characters are laid bare for the reader to judge as they chose.  The juxtaposition of how fate plays out for both of these characters is almost poetic – both are from broken backgrounds, neither has a good relationship with their mother and indeed suffered directly and indirectly by their hands, and the psychology of it is well played out through the development of Bo and Alice.

The way that this leaves a reader feeling so disturbed whilst reading is key, it almost drives the reader on to find out if they are right, to see whether their suspicions are right, and the way in which it builds to the penultimate section, so intense and riveting, if readers can guess what is going to happen next I’d be amazed!  I didn’t see what was coming at all, and I’ve read many thrillers (too many in some cases!) but this caught me well and truly off guard and I absolutely loved it!

The descriptions of settings in this are perfection, having been to the Lakes many times I felt that the writing really conjured some amazing imagery in my head, the way in which Grasmere was described made me feel that I was transported to the village and was craving Grasmere gingerbread.
I have no doubt that this book will feature heavily in the top books of 2017  with many readers, and it absolutely deserves to!  A truly magnificent debut from a promising author, and quite possibly one of the finest thrillers I’ve read this year!
You can buy a copy of “Exquisite” via:
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EYES OF THE ACCUSED 2

Description:

A dark and gripping psychological mystery.

Fresh from the horrors of their last case, private investigators Ben and Maddie are plunged into a disturbing world of terror as they search for missing pregnant girl, Hannah Heath.

Drawn to Frank Crowley, a suspect in Hannah’s disappearance, Maddie is about to come face to face with true evil. As she gets close to Crowley, Maddie will learn all is not what it seems.

Crowley is just a small part of something much larger. Something so terrible and deranged, it defies reason.

When Maddie disappears, Ben is left in a desperate race against time to find her and uncover the truth. 

But can Ben and Maddie both survive this time?

My Thoughts & Review:

This is the second book in the Ben Whittle series, and I would thoroughly recommend checking out the first book The Revelation Room.  However, this book can be read as a stand alone, there are details that link back to the first book but nothing that would impact on this story and leave you feeling like you’ve missed something.
Ben Whittle and Maddie White are Private Investigators working for Ben’s father who owns the Private Investigation company.  Having been hired to find a missing woman named Hannah, who happens to be pregnant and due to give birth soon they embark upon an investigation that will prove to be dangerous for all involved, and when Maddie goes missing Ben knows he must do everything he can to find both women before it’s too late. 
From the very first chapter the reader is hooked, the intensity of the terror and writing style really grab your attention and ensure you are sucked in for the duration of the story.  The narration from Hannah is exceptionally well written, dark and intense, her desperation really comes through, it’s hard not to feel some horror at how she’s been kept.  
The storyline well paced, I felt that it kept my attention throughout, combined with fantastic characters I really struggled to put this one down at bedtime!  The dark humour interjected into this was a thing of greatness, Mark Tilbury shows a brilliant sense of humour through his writing, it adds an extra something to his characters and really brings them alive.
I will definitely be looking out for more from this author, his writing style really appeals to me, the characters are great and I cannot wait to see where he takes them next.
You can buy a copy of “The Eyes of The Accused” via:
My thanks to the author and Sarah Hardy at Bloodhound Books for the opportunity to share my review as part of the blog tour.  Why not follow the blog tour for some fantastic reviews, guests posts and extracts from the book:
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Hello and welcome to the opening stop on the blog tour for “The Monk of Lantau”, I am delighted to be able to share an extract from this book with you.

Description:

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The search for a meaningful existence is as universal as it is elusive. When obstacles to happiness and personal goals seem to riddle our horizons, where do we turn for answers?

Meet Matthew, an average Londoner, a family man and a husband, intent on the all-too-normal pursuit of making a better life for himself and his family. When an accident threatens to become the proverbial straw that breaks his back in his pursuit of happiness and personal attainment, Matthew finds himself at a crossroad in his life.
In the way the Universe has of placing the right people in our lives at just the right time, Matthew happens upon a tale from an unlikely source, a tale of a man with mystical healing powers, someone Matthew can seek who can restore balance and harmony to his life and heal his daughter who is fighting for her own. As he traipses through Europe, the Middle East, India and Asia in search of the healer, nothing about the beautiful, trying, and challenging outward journey compares to the progress he makes as he travels into the depths of his own being.
Through Matthew’s journey, we are given the keys to finding the healer for ourselves. Most importantly, readers are invited to harness the beauty and prosperity that comes when we seek ways to recognize that we are all connected to each other and we are all marvellous and powerful creators of our own unique, stunning life story.

You can buy a copy of “The Monk of Lantau” via: Amazon


By now, the reader will know that Matthew has been in earlier chapters, a frantic person with a bit of a temper.

This is pivotal moment where Matthew, one of the main characters in the story starts to embrace the beauty of his surroundings, in this early chapter it is in the city of Istanbul.

In real life, I experienced the beauty of prayer and sitting in silence in some of the Worlds’ most beautiful buildings. To me, it did not matter whether I was sitting in a Church, Sikh Gurdwara, a Hindu Temple, a Buddhist Monestry or an Muslim Mosque, all of which I have experienced.

Extract: Chapter Four, Silence in Chaos

‘It was the scent of Istanbul that caught me off guard the most. Gone was the damp smell of rain soaking through discarded newspapers and dripping off of bricks coated with lime and moss that I was accustomed to in London. Here, the air was a veritable carnival of aromas that confused my senses and piqued my curiosity. Spices danced on the breeze, teasing me with questions of their origin, daring me to investigate this shop and that, challenging me to name them and remember them and savour them. People passing by me left the lingering, musky scent of their bodies, warm from the sun, not the overpowering mix of perfumes and cologne that made me sneeze in the business district I was accustomed to walking through back home.

A busy day in the merchant district though it was, the chaos of shoppers and onlookers and tourists taking it all in was anything but overwhelming. The barking of merchants across the alleyways, calling to those in the street to come to their shops; the laughing of barefoot children chasing each other through the streets; and the clucking of women as they examined trays overflowing with produce ricocheted off the stone walls of buildings and houses. I felt as though I were hearing an orchestra and their ode to humanity, to life, to being present. It was not chaos; no, it was music to my ears.

As I reached the Hagia Sophia, the disparity between the noise of the merchants behind me and the cool click of heels on the marble as I climbed the steps of the sanctuary made for an interesting dichotomy. The noise of the one was bustling and boisterous; the other was just as alive, but a hallowed sound, something sanctified and reverent. From the moment I read the history of the Hagia Sophia in the cab earlier that morning, I had wanted to see and experience this place for myself. Once inside, I held my breath and realised the elaborate exterior encased a far superior and surpassingly magical interior, where I could scarcely believe I was seeing such abundant opulence. It wasn’t just the architecture that drew my interest, nor the art of prayer rugs and mosaics, though both were compelling and stunning. I had always wanted to know what it would be like to sit in a place like this, where for centuries the masses of people long past had found solace and comfort in religious worship and the traditions of their spirituality. Truly, if there was a magical place on earth, this was it.’

 

My thanks to Rachel at Authoright Marketing & Publicity for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for insightful book.

 

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