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Archive for March, 2018

It’s with great delight that I welcome you to today’s “Celebrating Indie Publishing” post, today I am opening the wonderful Claire MacLeary’s blog tour for her latest mystery thriller.  I had the privilege of reading Claire’s first novel to feature Maggie and Big Wilma in Aberdeen and utterly loved it, so when offered the chance to read the second book I jumped at it!

Burnout is published by Contraband, which is part of Saraband and is available to pre order now, publication date is 29th March.

 


Book Feature:

Description:

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My husband is trying to kill me : a new client gets straight to the point.

This is a whole new ball game for Maggie Laird, who is trying to rebuild her late husband s detective agency and clear his name.

Her partner, Big Wilma, sees the case as a non-starter, but Maggie is drawn in. With her client’s life on the line, Maggie must get to the ugly truth that lies behind Aberdeen’s closed doors.

But who knows what really goes on between husbands and wives?
And will the agency’s reputation and Maggie and Wilma’s friendship remain intact?

 

 

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit, when a book is set in the city I grew up in I feel some pull towards it.  I love discovering Aberdeen through the eyes of others, through the characters and their writers and so seeing how Claire MacLeary brings it alive with her wonderful writing is a must read for me.

Burnout sees the return of Maggie Laird and Wilma Harcus, two women in Aberdeen brought together through less than brilliant circumstances but nonetheless, a wonderful friendship blossomed between the two and since their adventures in Cross Purpose, the women have successfully kept their private investigation business going and even thriving on the cases they have brought in.

Having met Claire recently at Granite Noir, I can confirm that she is absolutely lovely and so to think that she can write these incredibly gritty and compelling books is mind boggling.
She has a wonderful way with words, and can set the scene so vividly, her characters come to life from the pages so realistically that the menace and danger that pose seems to escape from the pages.  I do particular love the way that she’s given a true authenticity to the dialogue in places with the use of Doric phrases.  For those not familiar with Doric, it’s the dialect spoken in Aberdeen (and Shire), and if you do find it hard to fathom then there is the helpful “Doric Dictionary” that can help translate for you.

The characters in this are so complex and three dimensional, the personalities of Maggie and Wilma leap off the pages at you whilst reading and it’s hard not to take these two women into your heart.  If you’ve read Cross Purpose which was Claire’s previous novel, then it’s almost like catching up with old friends when you read about them.  Equally, the supporting characters are so multifaceted and complex, trying to work out their motivations keeps the reader on their toes.

Just when I thought the book couldn’t get any better, Claire MacLeary sneaks some absolutely superb writing in right under my nose and catches me off guard entirely!  I hate when people state “I didn’t see that twist coming” or “that ending was so unexpected” but in this case, for fear of giving anything away, I shall have to use a a non committal phrase and say that this book was bloody brilliant and I NEEEEEEED another one to find out what happens next for Maggie and Wilma!!!

You can buy a copy of Burnout via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

About the Author:

Claire MacLeary lived for many years in Aberdeen and St Andrews, but describes herself as “a feisty Glaswegian with a full life to draw on”. Following a career in business, she gained an MLitt with Distinction from the University of Dundee and her short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies. She has appeared at Granite Noir, Noir at the Bar and other literary events. Claire’s debut novel, Cross Purpose, has been longlisted for the prestigious McIlvanney Prize, Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award 2017. She is now working on Burnout, the sequel to Cross Purpose.

 

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The Dog Ate My Homework

** My thanks to Rachel at Authoright for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

The Dog Ate My Homework by Aaron James is a collection of short poems that will capture your imagination. Filled with fun stories that make you think, laugh and tell your friends. Do you remember your first day at school? Or when you tried to convince your teacher you actually done your homework? Or the excitement you felt when you bought your new pair of trainers? In The Dog Ate My Homework you will get a chance to read all these stories and many more!

My Thoughts & Review:

The Dog Ate My Homework is a lovely short book filled with some great poems that will make children and grown ups laugh.  And coupled with the bright and cheery artwork, this makes for a great wee read.  My daughter was soon giggling aloud at the poem from which the book takes its title, asking whether her dogs might eat her homework one day.  The poems have their own story to tell, Sports Day and School Dinners were strong favourites in our house, being reread on our snow days this past week.

The illustrations in the book are lovely and bright, making this a book that holds the interest of young readers who may not be able to read it alone.  We took great delight pointing out all of the things in each picture and linking them back to the lines of the poem.
With the content of the poems, this might be a good book for children just starting out on their school journey, giving them some lighthearted anecdotes about school and what it’s like on the first day, what school lunches are like etc.  I know that I may well pop this book aside for a wee while to use for explaining about starting school when my daughter progresses to that stage.

A fun and entertaining read that can be enjoyed no matter the age of the reader!

 

You can buy a copy of The Dog Ate My Homework  via Amazon UK

 

About the Author:

Born and raised in Tottenham, North London and today living in Bromley, South London with his wife, Aaron James works as a poet and spoken word artist. The Dog Ate My Homework is his first children’s poetry book.

 

Aaron James - Blog Tour Banner

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absent-man-ebook

** My thanks to the lovely Robert Enright for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the publication blog tour **

 

Description:

When will you discover The Otherside?

There is more to the shadows than just darkness

The Otherside is located at the fringes of our world, hiding in plain sight and existing within our shadows. Shielded from humanity, the Otherside is watched over by the BTCO, a highly secret government agency, whose members all possess ‘The Knack’, a genetic anomaly that allows them to see this other world.

Franklyn ‘Bermuda’ Jones is the BTCO’s finest agent, the only human to have passed to the Otherside and returned. Gifted with the ability to physically interact with both worlds, Bermuda reluctantly stands between both worlds, pining for the life he had to leave behind and the daughter he can no longer see. Teamed with Argyle, an enigmatic Otherside warrior, Bermuda is assigned the case of a missing woman who has vanished under mysterious circumstances.

As Bermuda delves further into the disappearance, he uncovers a threat that could destroy the truce between two worlds…and finds himself in a race against time to safeguard humanity’s very existence.

Discover a new world in this fast-paced urban fantasy packed with thrills, action and the odd one liner.

My Thoughts & Review:

Since reading Doorways last year, my perception of fantasy reads has been turned on around entirely.  Usually I don’t tend to stray down that darkened alley, much preferring my reads to be a little more “real” and less “otherworldly” but somehow, Doorways and the main character Franklyn “Bermuda” Jones got into my head and had me hooked.

I was thrilled when the author contacted me to foolishly ask if I would like to read an early copy for review…I might have scared him slightly with my overly excited response, poor man didn’t quite realise how much I’d been waiting to find out what would happen next.

Without going over the blurb or giving anything away about the plot, I will say that this case that Bermuda and Argyle are working on is one of their most taxing.  There are so many aspects to the case and as the plot progresses it just gets more intriguing and exciting!  There were chapters that I found I was racing through, absolutely gripped and desperate to find out what was going to happen, so much so that I had my kindle propped up against the cookbook stand in the kitchen as I made supper!

The characterisation in this is brilliant, the witty one liners and dark humour that are dashed throughout had me chuckling out loud at times and Argyle’s bemusement at sarcasm just made this even more hilarious to read.  The plotting is excellent, whilst I tried to guess ahead to what might happen,  Robert Enright ensured that he kept readers entirely in the dark until he was ready to shock them with some details, and I do love a book that can catch me off guard!

I loved the atmospheric settings and vivid descriptions detailed throughout the book, even the small details about Argyle’s armour and weaponry helped me to conjure such a crisp image in my head of the protective plating that he wore.

An enjoyable read that takes readers on a journey through the realms of shadows and darkness.

You can buy a copy of The Absent Man via:

Amazon UK

 

About the Author:

Author Photo

Born and raised in North West London and now residing in Hertfordshire, Robert Enright has been writing for over 10 years. His debut novel – ONE BY ONE – was self published on Amazon in March 2015, receiving critical acclaim and was nominated for Books Go Social Book of the Year 2015. The violent, revenge thriller gave Rob a path into crime fiction, but the constantly embraced geek within him went a different way. 2016 will see the release of DOORWAYS – published by Urbane Publications – the first in the Bermuda Jones series, a dark sci-fi about an agency dealing with the threat of a parallel world. He can’t wait to write the whole series – if he can put down his Xbox controller or his Nerf Guns!

For more information about Rob and his upcoming books, feel free to check him out on social media:

Twitter – @REnright_Author
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/robenrightauthor

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Beneath the Water Cover 2

** My thanks to Anne Cater and Lake Union Publishing for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Munro House is the new start Stella needs. But it will also draw her back to a dark past…

Devastated by a broken engagement, Stella Jackson leaves her old life behind for a new start in rural Scotland. But when she arrives in the remote coastal village of Arisaig, nothing is what she expected.

At the edge of Arisaig sits Munro House; grand, imposing and said to be cursed by a string of tragic deaths. No less intriguing is its eccentric and handsome young owner, Jamie Munro, who hires Stella as his assistant while he pursues a seemingly impossible aim. Working through the great house’s archives, Stella soon finds herself drawn in by a cache of increasingly erratic letters from a young Victorian woman about her husband, Dr James Lockhart, a man whose single-minded ambition has strange parallels with Jamie’s.

Just as Stella begins developing feelings for Jamie, she discovers that the connection between the Lockharts and the Munros could have sinister repercussions for them both. She’s finally found the life she wants to live—but is it all an illusion?

My Thoughts & Review:

Beneath The Water was a book that jumped out at me when I read the burb, perhaps it was the promise of mystery set in the Victoria era…I’ve been on a historical fiction hunt recently.

The parallel timelines of the plot run alongside each other, although there are several chapters where the modern day thread of the plot is the only one being narrated.  The action from the Victorian era comes in the form of letters between a newly married young woman and someone she holds very dear, her sister.  Jessie Lockhart regales her sister with snippets from her early days as a married woman, asking advice and generally asking after family back home.  Initially I did wonder how this would tie into Stella’s tale and what connection it all had with the big house in Arisaig.

Stella’s story was one of heartbreak and rebuilding, leaving life behind her in tatters she heads north to the highland village to visit friends from her university days.  Determined to clear her head and get over the trauma of a breakup she quickly falls in love with the picturesque village.  The details about the setting were superb, readers could conjure such clear images of the village and the local pub, the local shop and the big house.  The details about the Scottish weather were very authentic (yep, I’ve been up that way and can confirm that the weather can be as unruly and harsh!).

I found it hard to connect with Stella at times, granted the more I read about her the clearer my understanding of her thinking became.  She does develop throughout the book, growing in confidence and trusting her own instincts but I couldn’t help feeling that she was sometimes using excuses too often.  Whilst she wasn’t my favourite character, she did make me think and wonder how I would react in her situation.  The same could be said for another prominent character, Jamie Munro was another character that I wasn’t entirely sure of.  His mannerisms and attitude were not the most endearing and at times I really disliked him but the author has a great way opening a character up and revealing things that change your thinking.

I would have loved to read more of the Victorian story, it almost fascinating me more than the mystery and intrigue of the modern day plot.

Overall an enjoyable read, well written and well thought out.

You can buy a copy of Beneath The Water via:

Amazon UK

 

Follow the blog tour:

Beneath The Water Final BT Poster(1)

 

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Have You Seen the Sleep Fairy ebook cover

** My thanks to Rachel at Authoright for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Have YOU seen the Sleep Fairy? This is the story of a sleep deprived mother and father who are rescued by this shyest of fairies, who only comes out at night when all the children in the home are asleep. She helps children get into the habit of sleeping through by leaving tiny items of interest under their beds for a few days until she can trust them to sleep through on their own. This sweet story is simply told by the author and beautifully bought to life in this new illustrated children’s story. Get your children into the habit of sleeping through by reading The Sleep Fairy to them and applying the idea to your family routine. Here’s to you and a peaceful night’s sleep.

My Thoughts & Review:

Having a young child means I spend a lot of time reading story books, and so when I saw this book I wondered if it might be a good one to add to our collection for bedtime reading.  With a cover that catches the eye, this book was grabbed quickly by small hands and “can we please read this?” soon followed.

Have You Seen The Sleep Fairy is a lovely story about a family helping their children sleep through the night by introducing The Sleep Fairy.  I know as a parent that there have been nights (and will probably be ones to come,) where sleeping is the last thing that a child wants to do, there are games to play, books to read, cars to play with…the list is endless really.  So the idea of a Sleep Fairy is really lovely, coming to bring good sleep for those who manage to sleep well all through the night and for those who don’t sleep so well there is a small surprise under the bed just for them.

When we read the book at bedtime, my daughter asked lots of questions about The Sleep Fairy, asking how she knows when you’re asleep, how she knows if you’ve had good sleep, how she knows what surprises to leave under the bed….yes I’ve got an inquisitive child….we decided that we would name the sleep fairy for our family.  Now we have Rosie the sleep fairy who comes to make sure we all have good sleep.
This makes for a lovely bedtime read, the story is just the right length to hold the attention of younger audiences without being too short and with a lovely illustration on each page it means there’s something to look at with each page turn and my daughter enjoyed being able to tell us the story through the pictures.

We very much enjoyed the story and will definitely be revisiting this one again soon (probably tonight as it seems to have wound up in the pile to read regularly….)

You can buy a copy of Have You Met The Sleep Fairy? via Amazon UK

 

Monika Cover 2

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MEET A LITERARY AGENT AT THE LONDON BOOK FAIR!

Bookings now open for LBF’s Agent One-to-One programme

The London Book Fair (LBF), the UK’s biggest gathering of international publishers and agents, has announced bookings are now open for its Agent One-to-One programme, which will take place in LBF’s Author HQ – the area of the Fair dedicated to writers and aspiring writers.

The Agent One-to-One programme offers Author HQ attendees the opportunity to meet with a leading literary agent, who will be on hand to offer advice on the publishing process and provide feedback on authors’ pitches and ideas.

Participating agents this year include representatives from AM Heath, Darley Anderson, David Higham Associates, DKW Literary Agency, MBA, Peters Fraser & Dunlop, Sheil Land Associates and Susanna Lea Associates.  Between them, the agents’ areas of interest cover everything from children’s publishing, middle grade and YA, to SF and fantasy, as well as literary fiction, commercial fiction, historical fiction and crime thrillers.  Narrative non-fiction and memoir are also covered.

Meetings are by appointment only, and need to be booked in advance of the Fair.

How to book:

Asif Sardar, previous participant in LBF’s Agent One-to-One programme said: “It was a pleasure to meet up with a professional agent who was interested in my work and offered insightful opinions.  Highly recommended for anyone looking to step out from the secret garden of isolated authoring into the daunting world of commercial publishing.”

Author HQ, one of the most popular features of the Fair, will have plenty on offer for both established and aspiring writers, including a three-day seminar programme with industry experts and authors taking to the stage to share their expertise and experience.  All Author HQ events are free-to-attend with the purchase of a three-day pass, required to access The London Book Fair.

 

 

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Today on The Quiet Knitter I am so pleased to share a book from the brilliant Urbane Publications, a publisher who puts wonderful books into the hands and hearts of readers.  Today the book in the spotlight is The Trouble Boys, and I am honoured to have a short interview with the author E.R. Fallon to share with you too.


Book Feature:

Description:

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The Godfather meets Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, but with Gaelic complications, in E.R.Fallon’s thrilling new novel.

Trouble Boys is an historical crime novel about the Irish mob in New York City from the 1930s to the 1950s.
The story opens in pre-WWII Europe when young Irish immigrant Colin O’Brien settles with his family in New York City. There Colin befriends a Cuban-American boy named Johnny Garcia. Life in America isn’t what Colin’s family expects and he experiences a shocking tragedy that alters his life. As Johnny and Colin grow into men, their friendship changes.

They begin working for different crime syndicates, with Colin joining the ranks of charismatic Tom McPhalen’s Irish mob and Johnny becoming a member of debonair Tito Bernal’s Cuban gang. As Colin’s rise in the ranks of organized crime becomes increasingly more brutal and demeaning and his friendship with Johnny deteriorates, he begins to question his place in the seductive yet violent world he’s found himself in.

My Thoughts & Review:

I’ve been sticking to local settings with my crime reading lately, but this book sounded too good not to read.  There’s just something that grabs my attention with a mob setting, perhaps it harks back to the days of reading The Godfather and other works of Mario Puzo, but I just had a feeling that I needed to pick this book up and read it.

The book opens with young Colin O’Brien and his family in Ireland, but the O’Brien family are soon on their travels and emigrate to America, the land of opportunity….the land of the free….or so they think.  Life isn’t as grand as Colin and his siblings had hoped, and certainly there seems to be less happiness and joy than there was back home.  One thing’s for sure though, Colin makes a friend in Johnny, another outsider in the immigrant community and it is this friendship that proves to be one of the stable factors in Colin’s life when things begin to go wrong.
The friendship between Colin and Johnny is so important, their shared adolescence in the grim setting is one that sets the tone for their later lives, each of them has to decide on showing loyalty to their own kind or being loyal to their family.

The mob connections that run through the plot of this book are so tantalisingly thrilling, the danger that emanates from characters pulses from the pages, the uncertainty of the danger posed by some characters makes this such an atmospheric read and when coupled with the wonderfully descriptive settings this becomes such an immersive read.

You can buy a copy of The Trouble Boys via:

Amazon UK
Wordery

Author Feature:

elizabeth_fallon-745x1024

ER Fallon spent a lot of her life in and around NYC and knows well the gritty city streets of which she write, with first-hand knowledge of the localized crime world through family. She studied criminology in college and was mentored by a leading advocate for the family members of homicide victims. She has been the recipient of writing awards and has published several stories with crime elements, including two Amazon bestselling novels. The New York Times bestselling author Da Chen has said the author writes the kind of stories that ‘we stay up all night to finish.

 

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

Hearing that someone enjoyed reading my book.

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

Self-editing a first draft of a manuscript.

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

The Remains of the Day because of its lyrical writing and intelligent storyline.

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

I try to spend as much time outdoors as possible when I’m not working.

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

I like to write in the evenings, as that is usually when I have the most time, sometimes with music, sometimes without, but always with a cup of coffee close by.

What’s on the horizon? What can your fans look forward to next?

I’m making progress on another historical gangland book that takes place in a very different setting. I hope to finish it in 2018.

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be?

The only thing you need to accomplish something is belief in yourself.

 

My thanks to E.R. Fallon for taking some time out to join me today and share a little about herself, I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Trouble Boys and am looking forward to finding out more about her current project.

 

 

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Today I am so excited to share the cover of Barbara Henderson’s new book with you!  If you’ve been following my blog for the past year or so, you will have seen that I have a real soft spot for Barbara’s books.  There’s something so magical about the way she weaves together her stories, the characters pop off the pages and each of her books holds a special place in my heart so it’s a great honour to be able to share the cover of Wilderness Wars with you along with a wee guest post written by Barbara too.

Publication date for Wilderness Wars is 16 August 2018 and I’m pretty sure that preorder links will be available soon (as soon as I get them I will be placing my order so will let you all know!), but meantime, here’s the book blurb before you see THAT cover!

Description:

What if nature fights back?

In a daze, I take it all in: the wind, the leaden skies, the churning moody sea.

And, far in the distance, a misty outline.

Skelsay.

Wilderness haven. Building-site. Luxury-retreat-to-be.

And now, home.

When her father’s construction work takes Em’s family to the uninhabited island of Skelsay, she is excited, but also a little uneasy. Soon Em and her friend Zac realise that the setbacks, mishaps and accidents on the island point to something altogether more sinister: the wilderness all around them has declared war.

Danger lurks everywhere. But can they persuade the adults to believe them it before it’s too late?

 

 

 

Wilderness Wars EBOOK.jpg

Wow!  What a cover, isn’t it spectacular?  I cannot wait to read this and find out what happens on the island of Skelsay!

 

And now, the fab guest piece by Barbara about the book, the journey to the cover image and why it’s perfect!

 

Wilderness Wars… great title!’ So said a writer friend at the beginning of the writing process. She had no idea what the book was going to be about, and to be fair, neither had I. All I had was the question which would become the tagline: What if nature fights back?

Intrigued by the concept, I began to spin a tale of mishaps and escalation, of real threat and frustration, of danger and ultimately, of disaster. I lived and breathed those moments with my characters. This was a story I didn’t like writing: I LOVED writing this story. The first draft was completed in 2013, and if anyone had asked me what my favourite of my seven completed novels was, I’d have chosen Wilderness Wars without hesitation.

I can’t even explain why – I think my writing is much more poetic in Fir for Luck, and the structure in Punch is probably tighter. But I had a connection with the subject which has only intensified with the subsequent years of Trumpish arrogance: When is it ok to impose our agenda on the natural world, and to take without giving back? And how far is too far? How can we protect the wild places we have left from short-term profiteers like Ian Pratt in my book? I was hugely invested in this book, whether it ever saw the light of day or not. I was ecstatic when Cranachan decided to take it on.

However, without realising it, I also had a fairly fixed idea in my head of what the cover needed:

Threat and darkness. Waves. Earth and sea colours, and drama – lots and lots of it! Could I get away with another running silhouette? How could a battle of such unequal parties be shown, and how could it captivate young people – and the adults who buy books for them

I hadn’t realised how inflexible I had become until Cranachan’s designer Anne Glennie and I had ‘the cover discussion’. I had sent her image after image of, essentially, the same thing: a stylised giant wave. In her patience with me she had a go at manipulating lots of options but also threw in some images which were very different. I dismissed them one after the other in my mind, but the vibrant blue, the jaggy shards of rock and the seemingly idyllic blue sky of this particular design drew me magnetically towards it. It wasn’t what I had thought of, but it was vibrant. Attractive and majestic, without being cosy – the birds have no eyes, for goodness’ sake! Creepy enough to suggest a threat, surely.

Time for the final test: I placed the image on the computer screen and walked away as far as I could in the house. Turning, I opened my eyes and wham! It would have the impact it needed, across a bookshop. The power to draw readers towards it.

This realisation was the thin wedge Anne needed, the seed of doubt which allowed me to finally let go of my boring wave.

And man, am I glad I did. It’s a stunner, this cover, and my screensaver for everything.

EVERYTHING!

I LOOOOOVE it!

About the Author:

IMG_2648

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. Having tried her hand at working as a puppeteer, relief librarian and receptionist, she now teaches Drama part-time at secondary school.
Writing predominantly for children, Barbara won the Nairn Festival Short Story Competition in 2012, the Creative Scotland Easter Monologue Competition in 2013 and was one of three writers shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize 2013. In 2015, wins include the US-based Pockets Magazine Fiction Contest and the Ballantrae Smuggler’s Story Competition. She blogs regularly at write4bairns.wordpress.com where full details of her writing achievements can also be found.
Barbara is currently based in Inverness.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.barbarahenderson.co.uk/
Twitter: @scattyscribbler
Blog: write4bairns.wordpress.com

 

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