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Archive for October, 2017

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*** My thanks to the amazingly lovely people at First Monday Crime for my copy of this book and for asking me to be part of their review panel ***

 

Description:

She can’t prove he did it. But she might die trying…

From the Sunday Times No.1 bestselling author of the Logan McRae series, comes a standalone spinoff featuring DS Roberta Steel.

Revenge is a dangerous thing…

Detective Chief Inspector Roberta Steel got caught fitting up Jack Wallace – that’s why they demoted her and quashed his sentence. Now he’s back on the streets and women are being attacked again. Wallace has to be responsible, but if Detective Sergeant Steel goes anywhere near him, his lawyers will get her thrown off the force for good.

The Powers That Be won’t listen to her, not after what happened last time. According to them, she’s got more than enough ongoing cases to keep her busy. Perhaps she could try solving a few instead of harassing an innocent man?

Steel knows Wallace is guilty. And the longer he gets away with it, the more women will suffer. The question is: how much is she willing to sacrifice to stop him?

My Thoughts & Review:

Firstly, apologies to my dad for rubbing it in that I got to read this before he did…..usually he buys Stuart MacBride’s books the minute they’re released and lords it over me that he’ll have read it before me, but revenge is sweet….I gloated that I knew the book was coming out before him, I got a copy before him and most importantly I read the whole thing before publication day (insert smug daughter face here).

Right, now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me talk about this book.  For fans of Stuart MacBride’s books, you are in for a treat.  Anyone that loves his books will no doubt have a soft spot for Roberta Steel and her unique ways, her morale boosting techniques and ever so delicately eloquent phrases.  I was so excited to hear that this book would feature Steel, there’s something about this character that I’ve watched develop over the many books that she’s appeared in.  That’s not to say that you can’t pick this book up without having read any of the previous books, this is a stand alone book from the Logan McRae series and there is more than enough detail to confidently understand what has transpired previously to result in our leading lady’s demotion from DCI to DS.

I won’t go into the ins and outs of the plot, mainly because I don’t want to give anything away.  But you are guaranteed laughter from the very opening pages with MacBride’s wonderful descriptive writing – who else would describe their leading character in such a way as:

…..grey hair sticking out in all directions like a

demented ferret. Face set in a grimace. Probably hadn’t done
any serious running since she was a kid – trying not to get
eaten by dinosaurs.

If you know the various colourful descriptions of Roberta Steel from previous books then you can be sure that nothing has been lost at all with her having her own book – the spotlight hasn’t gone to her head and made her all glamorous that’s for sure!

It was also nice to see DC Quirrel, a.k.a. Tufty who first appeared in the Logan McRae books.  His unique brand of humour works perfectly alongside Steel’s brusque manner, but there’s definitely an excellent pairing with these two.  I think Tufty helps to bring out Steel’s softer side, dragging her caring side kicking and screaming into the light.  She acts as a good mentor to him (in her own unique way), and there’s definitely a genuine air of care towards her young DC.  Tufty is one of those characters that you cannot help but love, he’s funny, caring and embarrassingly shy at times, something that Steel abuses when it comes to a certain colleague (PC Kate Mackintosh).

Dark humour is a trademark of MacBride’s novels and this one has it in spades.  This coupled with the local dialect, Doric just means this book scores highly with me.  Seeing “aye aye” and “hoy” in the narrative just made me smile, always nice to see a little bit of home in a book.  The great descriptions of Aberdeen and surrounding areas felt really authentic, and I found I was recalling the layout of Union Street etc from memory as the story played out in my head.  The plot is superb, despite being very dark and somewhat disturbing at times, the humour woven throughout provides light relief.  But Stuart, how could you, that poor wee wifie Mrs Galloway….

If you get the chance to read this I would highly recommend it, it’s sharp, it’s witty and it’s everything you love about Stuart MacBride’s writing.  Oh and check out Tufty’s super secret map of Aberdeen, it’s pretty spot on (comes with this Aberdonian’s seal of approval).

I could probably blether on more about this book but I’ll stop while the going is good and before I start mentioning things I shouldn’t (there are so many bits I’ve deleted from this review because they hint towards stuff, and it’s taken me over a week to get this review done!)

You can order a copy of Now We Are Dead via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

About the Author

SM

Image and bio courtesy of HarperCollins

Stuart MacBride was born in Dumbarton, near Glasgow and moved to Aberdeen at the age of two. After dropping out of university to work offshore he went to work for himself as a graphic designer, eventually becoming studio manager for a nationwide marketing company. He gave it all up to have a go at becoming an actor, until it became clear to him that he was never going to be good enough to make a decent living out of it.

Whilst progressing through a whole new career in the IT sector, ending up as project manager for a global IT company, Stuart also wrote in his spare time. He is now the No.1 bestselling author of the Logan McRae series and the Ash Henderson series.

His novels have won him the CWA Dagger in the Library, the Barry Award for Best Debut Novel, and Best Breakthrough Author at the ITV3 Crime Thriller awards. In 2012 Stuart was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Hall of Fame.

Stuart’s other works include Halfhead, a near-future thriller, Sawbones, a novella aimed at adult emergent readers, and several short stories.

He lives in the north-east of Scotland with his wife, Fiona and cats Grendel, Gherkin, Onion, and Beetroot, some hens, horses, and a vast collection of assorted weeds..

Social Media links:  Twitter | Facebook | Website

 

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I am so excited to be able to share with you a preview of the prologue of Broken Bones by the wonderful Angela Marsons.  For fans on the Kim Stones series, you are in for a treat!! Publication date is Friday 3rd November so why not head over to Amazon and pre order your copy now to avoid disappointment?!

 

cover

 

Black Country: Christmas Day

Lauren Goddard sat on the roof of the thirteen-storey block of flats. The winter sun shone a grid onto her bare feet dangling over the edge. The cold breeze nipped at her wiggling toes.

The protective grate had been erected some years ago after a father of seven had thrown himself over. By the time she was eleven she had stolen a pair of wire cutters from the pound shop and fashioned herself an access point to the narrow ledge that was her place of reflection. From this vantage point she could look to the beauty of the Clent Hills in the distance, block out the dank, grubby reality of below.

Hollytree was the place you were sent if Hell was having a spring clean. Problem families from the entire West Midlands were evicted from other estates and housed in Hollytree. It was displacement capital. Communities around the borough breathed sighs of relief as families were evicted. No one cared where they went. It was enough that they were gone and one more ingredient was added to the melting pot.

There was a clear perimeter around the estate over which the police rarely crossed. It was a place where the rapists, child molesters, thieves and ASBO families were put together in one major arena. And then guarded by police from the outside.

But today a peace settled around the estate, giving the illusion that the normal activities of robbing, raping and molesting were on pause because it was Christmas Day. That was bollocks. It was all still going on but to the backdrop of the Queen’s Speech.

Her mother was still slurring her way around the cheerless flat with a glass of gin in her hand. Her one concession to the event was the line of tinsel wrapped haphazardly around her neck as she stumbled from the living room to the kitchen for a refill.

Lauren didn’t expect a present or a card any more. She had once mentioned the excitement of her friends. How they had enjoyed presents, laughter, a roast dinner, a chocolate-filled stocking.

Her mother had laughed and asked if that was the kind of Christmas she wanted.

Lauren had innocently nodded yes.

The woman had clicked the television to the Hallmark Channel and told her to ‘fill her boots’.

Christmas meant nothing to Lauren. But at least she had this. Her one piece of Heaven. Always her safe place. Her escape.

She had disappeared unnoticed up here when she was seven years old and her mother had been falling all over the flat pissed as a fart.

How lucky was she to have been the only one of the four kids her mother had been allowed to keep?

She had escaped up here when her mother’s drinking partner, Roddy, had started pawing at her groin and slobbering into her hair. Her mother had pulled him off, angrily, shouting something about ruining her retirement plan.

She hadn’t understood it when she was nine years old but she had come to understand it now.

She had cried up here on her sixteenth birthday when her mother had introduced her to the family business and to their pimp, Kai Lord.

She’d been up here two months earlier when he had finally found her.

And she’d been up here when she’d told him to fuck right off.

She didn’t want to be saved. It was too late.

Sixteen years of age and already it was too damn late.

Many times she had fantasised about how it would feel to lurch forward onto the wind. She had envisioned herself floating to and fro, gently making the journey like a stray pigeon feather all the way to the ground. Had imagined the feeling of weightlessness of both her body and her mind.

Lauren took a deep breath and exhaled. In just a few minutes it would be time to go to work. Heavy rain, sleet, snow, Christmas – nothing kept the punters away. Trade might be slow but it would still be there. It always was.

She didn’t hear the roof door open or the footsteps that slowly strode towards her.

She didn’t see the hand that pushed her forward.

She only saw the ground as it hurtled towards her.

Pre order links for Amazon:

UK 🇬🇧 http://amzn.to/2wwkvci

US 🇺🇸  http://amzn.to/2vDLPsP

 

About the Author:

Angie - updated author photo - no credit needed

Angela lives in the heart of the Black Country with her partner, bouncy puppy and potty mouthed parrot.

It has taken many novels to find that one character who just refused to go away. And so D.I. Kim Stone was born. The D.I. Kim Stone series has now sold over 2 million copies.

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Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend.  I am delighted to share an extract from this funny and heart warming book with you!

MGPEB_artwork KINDLE_1

 

Description:

Adrian Turner, Mountaineer, Secret Agent, Fireman… Ade would dearly like to be any of these things, though he’d trade them all to win the heart of feisty Public Relations Executive, Paige.

Instead, he’s a disillusioned school teacher, on suspension, after an unfortunate incident with a heavy piece of computer equipment. And somebody’s foot. And Paige? Despite being his girlfriend for the past eighteen months, she still seems to have one foot out of the door and hasn’t quite committed to leaving a toothbrush in the bathroom.

Of course, it doesn’t help that she’s working with her ex-boyfriend, Sebastian. A man who in almost every way imaginable is better, taller, wealthier, hairier, and infinitely more successful than Ade.

Is Paige still in love with Sebastian? Why then did she suggest they get away for a few days? Some place romantic…

But when Adrian finds himself in Slovenia – with Sebastian in the room down the hall – he realises there’s serious possibility that he’s in danger of losing his job, his mind, and the woman he loves…

From best-selling author Peter Jones comes this hilarious romp about love, and the things people do to keep it from getting away.


Extract:

So in this scene, Adrian Turner (burnt out, disillusioned computer science teacher… and our hero) and his girlfriend Paige, have arrived on holiday in Slovenia, only to discover that Paige’s ex-Boyfriend (Sebastian) is in the same hotel. But more than that, he seems to have a new love in his life…

 

“Aren’t you going to introduce us?” says Paige. So much for playing our cards close to our respective chests. Sebastian’s companion turns to face us, and a deliberate moment later, so does Sebastian.

“Paigeypoos,” he says in mock surprise. “Adrian! Hi guys.”

“Hi,” says Paige flatly, her arms folded again.

“I don’t believe you’ve met Nikki—”

“Nikita,” corrects the woman.

“Or Nikki for short,” says Sebastian, nodding his head from side to side.

“I prefer Nikita,” she says.

“Yes,” says Sebastian. “Of course you do. My love.”

“Nikita is very nice name,” she says, and offers me her hand. I’m not sure what to do at first – in the end I shake it.

“Nikki’s nice too,” says Sebastian.

“Meh, not so much,” she replies, moving on to shake the hand of my reluctant girlfriend. Sebastian forces a laugh, though it’s barely in the same league as his usual rat-a-tat-tat guffaws.

“You’re… not English,” I find myself saying.

“Polish,” she says. “Though I live in England now for the very long time.”

“Right,” I say, painfully aware that my girlfriend is just staring at Nikita so intently I swear I can hear the fizz of dust particles being incinerated as they float into Paige’s narrow field of vision. “And what is it… that you… do… Nikita?”

“I am detective,” she says. Out of the corner of my eye I see Sebastian wince.

“A detective?”

“Yes.”

“You mean, a police detective?”

“More like the Private Eye.”

“How fascinating.”

“It is very interesting work,” she continues. “I meet all kinds of peoples.”

“Yes,” I agree. “I’m sure you do.”

“And what is it you do, Adrian?” she says earnestly.

“I’m a schoolteacher,” I say without thinking, but as the words tumble out of my mouth, I’m reminded – for the first time since this morning – that actually I might not be a teacher for very much longer, and that I’m standing next to the man who at the very least is the catalyst of my current dilemma, and could, with a couple of quick phone calls, save my doomed career. “At least I…” I shoot Sebastian a look, but his face gives nothing away. “For the moment at least,” I continue, “… I’m a… teacher.”

“How interesting,” says Nikita, her eyes never leaving mine. “I think perhaps you are teacher of science.”

“Science?” I say. “No! No. Computing. IT and Computing.” I glance again at Sebastian. Still nothing.

“And your wife?” All eyes turn to Paige, who says nothing.

“Oh, er, Paige isn’t my… at least not yet! You work in PR, don’t you. Paige. For Sebastian, in fact.”

“Really,” says Nikita. “I did not know this.”

“So,” says Paige in the same casual manner that you might adopt were you, for instance, tightening a set of thumb screws, “how did you two meet?”

Sebastian jumps in. “Oh, it’s a very long story,” he says.

“But very romantic,” adds Nikita.

“Yes, but we don’t want to bore them with it, do we. Darling.”

“It can not be boring if it is romantic,” reasons Nikita.

“Well, no,” admits Sebastian, “not to us maybe, but to others…”

“We met in Istanbul,” says Nikita.

“Really?” says Paige, suddenly becoming very interested indeed. “In Turkey?” She looks directly at Sebastian. “When were you in Turkey?”

“Oh, a while back,” he says, shuffling slightly from one foot to the other. “It was on the way back from one of my African trips. The flight got diverted – you remember?”

“No,” says Paige.

“Really? I’m sure I mentioned it.”

“Anyway,” continues Nikita, “Sebastian was buying the carpets.”

“You were?” asks Paige, again directing her question to Sebastian, rather than Nikita.

“I, er…”

“So you left the airport, and went into the city… to buy a carpet?”

“Well, as I was in… Istanbul… so… I figured… why not!”

“Exactly,” says Nikita. “And I was also buying the carpets,” she adds.

“In Istanbul?” asks Paige.

“Yes,” says Nikita, “my sister she lives there, and she says, ‘come to Istanbul, it is like carpet capital of the world.’”

“I didn’t know that,” says Paige.

“I see this carpet,” continues Nikita, “And it is like the most beautiful of carpets, many colours – and I must have it, for my lovely apartment, in London. But suddenly, now there is this very tall man. And I think maybe I have the big problem.”

“Really?” asks Paige. “Why?”

“Because he is very handsome,” she says. “But also, he is annoying.”

“Annoying?!” says Sebastian, offended.

“Yes,” says Nikita matter-of-factly. “Because you are trying to buy my carpet.”

“Honestly, darling, I don’t think Paige or Adrian want to hear about our carpet buying antics!”

“No, really,” says Paige, an humourless grin plastered all over her face, “please go on. It’s all absolutely fascinating. So this is how the two of you met?”

“Exactly,” says Nikita.

“And remind me when this was again?” asks Paige, but before Nikita or Sebastian have a chance to reply, the lights flicker, and then die, plunging the room into semi-darkness, the setting sun through the windows overlooking the lake, our only illumination.

 

I don’t know about you, but that has me really keen to read more!

You can buy a copy of My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend via Amazon UK

 

About the author:

 

Peter Jones started professional life as a particularly rubbish graphic designer, followed by a stint as a mediocre petrol pump attendant. After that he got embroiled in the murky world of credit card banking. Fun times.

Nowadays, Peter spends his days writing, or talking about writing. He’s written three novels; a Rom-Com (Romantic Comedy), A Crim-Com (Crime Comedy), and a Rom-Com-Ding-Dong (a sort-of Romantic-ish Comedy, with attitude). He’s currently working on his fourth novel, which – if it’s a musical – he’ll no doubt describe as a Rom-Com-Sing-Song. (Spoiler: It isn’t).

He is also the author of three and a half popular self-help books on the subjects of happiness, staying slim and dating. If you’re overweight, lonely, or unhappy – he’s your guy.

Peter doesn’t own a large departmental store and probably isn’t the same guy you’ve seen on the TV show Dragons’ Den.

Follow Peter Jones

Website  http://www.peterjonesauthor.com

Amazon  http://amzn.to/2h17Tav

Twitter: https://twitter.com/peterjonesauth
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peterjonesauthor

 

Follow the blog tour:

MGPEB - Blog Tour Banner Full

 

** My thanks to the lovely Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be part of this tour **

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Hello and happy Friday!  And you all know what Friday brings, yes,  its time to share another post to celebrate Indie Publishing and this time it’s Elliott & Thompson in the spotlight!   Today the book being featured is The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities by Paul Anthony Jones.


Description:

Cabinet Cover PC.indd

A whole year’s worth of linguistic curiosities, just waiting to be discovered.

Within these pages you might leap back in time, learn about linguistic trivia, follow a curious thread or wonder at the web of connections in the English language.

1 January quaaltagh (n.) the first person you meet on New Year’s Day

1 April dorbellist (n.) a fool, a dull-witted dolt
12 May word-grubber (n.) someone who uses obscure or difficult words in everyday conversation

25 September theic (adj.) an excessive drinker of tea

24 December doniferous (adj.) carrying a gift

Paul Anthony Jones has unearthed a wealth of strange and forgotten words: illuminating some aspect of the day, or simply telling a cracking good yarn, each reveals a story. Written with a light touch that belies the depth of research it contains, this is both a fascinating compendium of etymology and a captivating historical miscellany. Dip into this beautiful book to be delighted and intrigued throughout the year.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Forgotten words are something of a fascination for me, actually if I’m honest, words in general are a love of mine.  I was that kid who kept a notebook of my favourite words, ones that sounded exciting or mystical, words that were funny to pronounce or just ones that I liked the look of written down.  I think I still have some of the notebooks somewhere, and occasionally I read something and think that I should start a new notebook to collect the new words I’ve found.  But then  I discovered the books bu Paul Anthony Jones, and now there’s someone out there making a book of words for me to enjoy!

Like most readers, the moment I got hold of this book I instantly went to see what word appeared on my  birthday, it’s just one of those things you do isn’t it?

hiemate (v.) to spend the winter

Derived from hiems, a Latin word for ‘winter’, hiemate is a seventeenth-century word meaning to spend or see out the winter.

What does seeing out the coldest season of the year have to do with a date at the height of summer? Well, despite the fact that the summer solstice typically takes place around 20–22 June – so that from now until the end of the year the nights are drawing in – today’s date is linked to an unfortunate incident in global exploration that led to the mutiny and death of one of England’s greatest explorers.

In April 1610, Henry Hudson set sail on his fourth trans- atlantic voyage, hoping to locate a long-sought-after easterly route through the Arctic and on to Asia. Sailing north to Iceland and Greenland, Hudson’s ship Discovery reached the Labrador
Peninsula on the far east coast of Canada in June, and from there sailed into a vast, open bay. Believing they had found the fabled Northwest Passage, Hudson spent the following months carefully mapping the bay’s shoreline – but as winter set in, no passage to Asia ever materialised. Before long the Discovery had become trapped in the ice and her crew were forced to head to the shoreline to see out the winter on land.

During the long Canadian winter, discontent began to grow among Hudson’s crew and the following year they mutinied.
When the ice retreated and the Discovery was freed, on 22 June 1611, Hudson, his teenage son John and a handful of loyal crewmembers were set adrift in a small, open-topped boat. They were never seen again.

Hudson’s fate remains unknown – but the vast bay he dis-
covered, and into which he was eventually cast adrift, still bears his name to this day.

Learn something new every day eh?

The best things about this book, and indeed the other books by Paul Anthony Jones is that you can dip in and out of them at your leisure to unearth some wonderful treasures.  If you don’t want to check up each day for the particular word, why not head to the index and randomly pick one?  For instance, lunette or yule-hole and then flick to the corresponding page to find out what they mean.  This was something I particularity enjoyed, then reading them out to my bemused husband after quizzing him on what he thought they might mean.  There were also a few that had us giggling like scugways or beaglepuss, the words themselves just funny to say and then finding out the meanings just made us smile even more.  The discovery that I could be classed as a theic did give us a laugh too.

I would say that this is the perfect book for fans of language, people who thrive on knowing the unique meanings of words, the origins and the history of phrases. I would thoroughly recommend this book, and it would probably make a great Christmas present (just in case you’ve started to think about shopping).

It’s obvious that a lot of time and effort has gone into the research for this book, each nugget of information has an explanation to go with it and a beautiful image of an ornate key.  It’s the small things that capture the eye sometimes, and although not small, the cover is exceptionally beautiful.  It needs to be seen to be fully appreciated, as do each and every one of the entries in this awesome book.

I think it’s safe to say that this is a book that I will be returning to regularly throughout the year and perhaps be appearing on my top books of 2017.

 

You can buy your copy of The Cabinet of Linguistic Curiosities via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

** My thanks to the lovely Alison Menzies and the folks at Elliot and Thompson for my copy of this wonderful book and for taking part in Celebrating Indie Publishing **

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As part of the blog tour for her new book Punch, the lovely Barbara Henderson has written a piece on “Animals in Punch”, so without further ado, let me hand over to Barbara.

Punch cover inc. quotes

I once had a one-to-one with a commissioning editor for a big, mainstream publisher. She had taken a look at a manuscript of mine which still sits unpublished and unloved in my drawer, but one thing she said stuck in my mind:

‘It’s good that you have a dog in it,’ she said. ‘If you can put a dog on the cover of a children’s book, it’s proven to sell more. It sells most if you have a Retriever on it.’

Really? Irrespective of subject, the story itself and countless other factors?

Needless to say, the dog alone didn’t sell her my manuscript. After a polite and non-decriptly positive-ish fifteen minutes, she walked away from me and the book-that-was-never-to-be, without taking it any further.

It was an easy decision to include some animal characters in Punch.

There wasn’t a pet as such in Fir for Luck, my previous novel, but Punch needed one – it came with the territory of travelling entertainers in Victorian times, almost like a small-scale circus. I did some digging and discovered that some travelling puppeteers used a live dog in their act. Necessity meant it had to be small (can you imagine a Retriever perching on the ledge of a Punch and Judy booth?), but it made the perfect companion for my main character. I imagine Toby, the dog in my book, as a cross between a Jack Russell and something a little bit shaggier, but I don’t need to know exactly – with children’s books, the readers do an awful lot of the filling in with their own imaginations. They don’t need me to spell out what a dog looks like – they simply want to know what happens to it.

Victorian Punch and Judy with live dog, image from

But I had to be careful. Children have a pretty strong reaction to any cruelty towards animals. I discovered this to my cost in the reactions to Fir for Luck, where a cat is mistreated pretty badly in a Highland Clearances context. There is good reason to believe that the incident with the cat actually happened, so it merited inclusion, but it is the only part of Fir for Luck I have got any flak for.

In Punch, things don’t end quite so badly for the dog:  Like the cat in Fir for Luck, it is a victim of abuse, but Phin rescues it!  Toby the dog becomes a side-kick, a vehicle for low-key comedy, and a comforting presence, too. A creature who loves my main character unconditionally. Another fabulous writing tip which floats around in my nebulous mind: If you struggle to make your hero lovable, make another character love them. A dog ticks that box pretty nicely.

I was dealing with Victorian times, so for practical reasons there is also a horse – a Clydesdale, in fact. I love horses and have always found this breed particularly impressive, with its flowing mane, hairy hooves and plate-size tracks in the mud. Only recently, I visited a heavy horse centre with my family and got up close. It was easy to imagine that a small-built 12-year-old was going to find a Clydesdale pretty daunting. But I am also fascinated by the way that fear is easily dispelled by familiarity- he has to get on with it, as they say. And as looking after the horse becomes part of his everyday routine, Phin doesn’t give it a second thought. It is hired for the season and is only ever referred to as ‘the Clydesdale’, a working animal without a name and without much emotional attachment. I think that may be an accurate reflection of how many viewed horses in those days.

But there is another animal which commands our imagination in Punch, and no spoilers here – it takes up a fair bit of the cover of the book. A dancing bear. Imposing, unpredictable, dangerous and impressive, it is a memorable creature. Dancing bears, on the whole, led a life of suffering, but far from a treatise on animal welfare, Punch is more of a snapshot of how life was, or could have been, in those days of changing attitudes and increased awareness of animals and their needs. Even then, although still legal, dancing bears were relics of a bygone age.

When I first pitched the novel to my writing group, the verdict was unanimous – you had us at ‘dancing bear’. ‘More about the bear,’ my publishers asked after every round of edits. There will be more detail about the dancing bear and how it gate-crashed my story in tomorrow’s blog tour stop on the LoveBooksGroup blog.

I love the fact that the animals add colour and drama to Punch – I think it’s a better book for it.

So much so that I have gone back to add a hamster into a previously petless manuscript. We all love a good pet story, right?

Watch this space!

Punch was published on 23rd October by Cranachan Publishing and can be purchased via:

Amazon
Wordery
Book Depository
Waterstones

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Punch cover inc. quotes

** My thanks to Barbara Henderson for my copy of Punch and for inviting me to be part of her blog tour **

 

Description:

Wrong place. Wrong time. A boy on the run.
THE MARKET’S ON FIRE. FIRE! FIRE! THE BOY DID IT!

Smoke belches out through the market entrance.

And me?

I turn and run.

Inverness 1889.

When 12-year-old Phin is accused of a terrible crime, his only option is to flee. In the unlikely company of an escaped prisoner and a group of travelling entertainers, he enters a new world of Punch and Judy shows and dancing bears.

But will Phin clear his name?

And what can he do when memories of a darker, more terrible crime begin to haunt him?

My Thoughts & Review:

Once in a while, an author comes along that possesses the rare gift of being a true storyteller.  A storyteller who can weave together a tale so wondrous and fascinating that you can barely pause for breath or tear your attention away, and for me that is Barbara Henderson.  From the first pages of her debut Fir For Luck I knew that this was an author I would be devotedly following from now on, and you cannot begin to imagine my happiness when I heard about her next book Punch.

A wonderfully rich and exciting plot awaits the reader behind such a vivid cover, and one of the most impressive things about this book is that it is narrated from the perspective of 12-year-old Phin which allows readers the opportunity to experience the world from a very different point of view.  The reason that I am most impressed with this is the fact that as a woman in her 30s, I rarely see the world without my over analytical (and sometimes anxious) mind, whilst the world is never black and white, through the eyes of Phin we see the world entirely different.  Phin’s take on the world around him, and indeed the adults that have thus far shaped his life make for interesting reading and really add another layer to this novel.  He is an exceptional character, and despite the cruel hand that has been dealt to him, he never fails to show compassion and decency towards others.  I was particularly struck by the compassion he showed towards the children in the audience at one of the shows of Professor Merriweather Moffat’s Royal Entertainment Show. 

Victorian Scotland really comes alive from the pages as Barbara Henderson masterfully casts her spell on readers.  The vivid descriptions are utterly beguiling, I could conjure clear images in my head of settings and characters, I felt like I was there in 19th Century Edinburgh and Balmoral.  It was almost like stepping back in time when reading this, and I loved every second of it.

A captivating novel that I have no doubt will steal the hearts of readers across the generations and I know I will be saving my copy of this remarkable book for my daughter to read in a few years time.

I would urge you to buy a copy, I cannot recommend this (and Fir For Luck) highly enough.

You can buy a copy of Punch via:

Amazon
Wordery
Book Depository
Waterstones

 

 

About the Author:

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Barbara Henderson has lived in Scotland since 1991, somehow acquiring an MA in English Language and Literature, a husband, three children and a shaggy dog along the way. She now teaches Drama, although if you dig deep in her past you will find that she has earned her crust as a relief librarian, receptionist and even a puppeteer. Her worst job ever was stacking and packing freshly pressed margarine tubs into cardboard boxes while the plastic was still hot – for eight hours a day. She is still traumatised!

Barbara has been interested in the history of the Highland Clearances since the early 90s. But it was when she stumbled across the crumbling ruins of Ceannabeinne, near the village of Durness on holiday, that her current novel Fir for Luck began to take shape in her imagination – and that story simply wouldn’t be ignored.

Over the years, writing has always been what she loves most: Barbara has won several national and international short story competitions and was one of three writers short-listed for the Kelpies Prize 2013 with a previous novel manuscript.
Barbara currently lives in Inverness and spends her time researching how on earth other people manage to make money from writing.

She blogs regularly at www.write4bairns.wordpress.com

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Hello and welcome along to another post to Celebrate Indie Publishing, today I am delighted to share a book from a publisher that is new to me, but by the looks of the books they have coming soon I’ll be a huge fan of them!  Today’s book in the spotlight is Literary Wonderlands, “a lavishly illustrated guide to almost 100 of the most perfectly imagined fictional worlds from mythology to 21 st century epics, literary allegory to pulp fiction”


Book Feature:

Literary Wonderlands_low res

Description:

A lavishly illustrated guide to almost 100 of the most perfectly imagined fictional worlds from mythology to 21st century epics, literary allegory to pulp fiction.

Literary Wonderlands explores the timeless, captivating features of literature’s greatest fictional worlds and the minds that created them. This truly global collection chronicles over two thousand years of literary creation from Homer  to The Hunger Games.

Individual entries by a prestigious group of literary specialists are beautifully illustrated with the chosen texts’ original artworks, film and television interpretations, archive material, and sketches and manuscripts by the authors themselves.  Each section details the  plot of a famous fantasy world, the historical circumstances that surrounded its production, the author’s inspiration, and the place it holds in the public imagination.

International in breadth and scope, Literary Wonderlands is an enchanting read that book lovers will not be able to resist dipping into.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Have you ever read the description of a book and just been so stunned and awed?  The idea of this book just screamed “READ ME” when I looked over the description and saw the eye-catching artwork on the cover.

This book will appeal to a fair number of readers and I have to admit that I’m tempted to buy a copy for a Christmas gift that that hard to please someone (who shall remain nameless just in case he reads this and finds out what Santa is bringing him).  Covering a whole host of destinations and landscapes from literary creations, there seems to be something for most people.  I loved the appearance of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series in the Computer Age section, which also includes Margaret Atwoods’s The Handmaid’s Tale, The Game of Thrones by George R R Martin as well as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series.
For fans of New World Order fear not, you are catered for too.  Some of the wonderful works such as  Slaughterhouse-Five from the pen of Kurt Vonnegut, The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams are included.
Ok, so I’ve picked out some of my favourite books and headed straight to the pages that featured them, but can you blame me?  This is the sort of book that you look at the index and mutter “wow” or “oh I wonder what that one says?” then hurriedly flick to the specified pages to soak up the details.

Fear not however, if Computer Age or New World Order aren’t your thing, there are sections on Golden Age of Fantasy, Science and Romanticism as well as Ancient Myth and Legend which all have extensive lists of masterpieces included.

 

Now to make this Friday more fun, Alison Menzies who kindly let me know about this book has created a wee quiz to test the grey cells ….so what do you think folks?  Shall we give it a bash?  No prizes, just the satisfaction of having a head full of information that will make you a dream participant on a pub quiz, and of course the title of “smarty pants”.

  1. Which early 14th century poem describes a journey through Hell, Purgatory and Heaven?

  2. “I don’t want to go among mad people”. In which book does a Victorian young lady say this?

  3. Where would you find Captain Nemo’s Nautilus?

  4. In which Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel does X mark the spot?

  5. Which modern American fairy tale begins on a Kansas prairie?

  6. Peter Pan is closely associated with which London park?

  7. Aldous Huxley’s masterpiece sets his World State in the 2,540. What is the novel called?

  8. Which Scandinavian writer gave us the Moomin trolls?

  9. In which castle is Titus Groan born?

  10. Which novel, set in Oceania, gives us Room 101 and Big Brother?

  11. If you step into the enchanted wardrobe, which world do you enter?

  12. What is the name of the novel by Anthony Burgess in which characters speak Nadsat?

  13. The action of which novel is set on Betelgeuse, the subject of several feature films and a 1970s tv series?

  14. In which book is Earth scheduled to be demolished to make way for a galactic hyperspace bypass?

  15. Which author wrote more than 40 novels about his Discworld?

  16. Which Margaret Atwood novel is the subject of a recent hit tv series starring Elisabeth Moss?

  17. Iain M Banks wrote 10 novels spanning 1,500 years. They are known collectively as?

  18. Lyra Belacqua is the heroine of which trilogy by Philip Pullman?

  19. Who wrote The Game of Thrones?

  20. In which year did Harry Potter first appear in print?

  21. The Bas-Lag Cycle begins with Perdido Street Station. Who wrote it?

  22. Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss from District 12 in which 2012 movie version of Suzanne Collins’ series?

 

Well how did you get on?

You can buy your copy of Literary Wonderlands via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

** My thanks to the lovely Alison Menzies and the folks at Modern Books for my copy of this wonderful book and for taking part in Celebrating Indie Publishing **

 

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