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** My thanks to the wonderful Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place. Dark, chilling and complex, Whiteout is a haunting, atmospheric and stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.

My Thoughts & Review:

For fans of Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series a huge sigh of relief can be breathed, the next instalment has landed!

Whiteout sees readers reunited with Ari Thór who is investigating the case of a young woman found dead at the bottom of the cliffs in Kálfshamarvík, a deserted village.  He and Tómas have their work cut out for them with a tight time frame to solve this one, but when they discover that the young woman’s mother and young sister died at the same spot some years ago the investigation becomes as dark and chilling as an Icelandic winter.
The plot also has a wonderful strand relating to the personal lives of Ari, Tómas and Ari’s girlfriend Kristen.  Kristen is heavily pregnant and ends up agreeing to join Ari and Tómas on their trip to Kálfshamarvík, using the time to research her family history.

If you are new to the Dark Island series, I would thoroughly recommend going back and reading the books in order, this will build up a better picture of Ari Thór and give you a wonderful grounding of the skill of Ragnar Jónasson.  He incorporates the eeriness of the setting perfectly into the plot of his novels leaving a reader feeling chilled and wrapped up in the darkness.  I love the way that this feels more like an old fashioned investigation story, relying on intuition and investigative techniques, and it feels like an exercise in mental capabilities trying to puzzle the mystery together with Ari.

There is so much more to this novel than I first expected and I truly am glad.  The character development was superb, it was good to see more about the personalities and  felt that I learned more about Ari and Kristen in Whiteout.  The other characters in this were equally interesting in their own way, some that readers can empathise with and feel invested in, but equally there were ones that you could not help but loathe.

As always, the wonderful scenery that is described in Ragnar’s books really sets the scene and tone for the novel.  I’ve never been to Iceland, and only ever googled images but from what I’ve read in the series it feels like I’ve trudged through the snow, battled biting winds and been lost in the dark of Iceland on several occasions.  The imagery that the writing conjures is so powerful and intense.  The narrative holds your attention perfectly and draws you in slowly making this a superb read!

A thank you to Quentin Bates for this wonderful translation, it’s always a joy when you see him listed as the translator of a book as you know that he will have ensured that the English version of a book will read as though it were the original.

 

You can buy a copy of Whiteout via:

Orenda Books eBookstore
Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

About the Author

Ragnar_Photo_TwoRagnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 18 countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

Follow Ragnar on Twitter and his website.

Follow the blog tour:

WOBTP

 

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Hello, it’s Friday and that means it’s time for a post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing”, the publisher this week is Urbane Publications, the book being featured is All The Colours In Between by Eva Jordan, a thoroughly moving and wonderful book that deserves to be loved and read by all.

I also have the lovely Lloyd Otis in the hot seat for the author feature, his debut Dead Lands was published in October 2017.


Book Feature:

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Eva Jordan’s much-anticipated follow up to the bestselling 183 Times a Year It’s not a life, it’s an adventure!

Lizzie is fast approaching 50. Her once angst ridden teenage daughters, now grown and in their twenties, have flown the nest, Cassie to London and Maisy to Australia. And, although Connor, Lizzie’s sulky, surly teenage son,is now on his own tormented passage to adulthood, his quest to get there, for the most part, is a far quieter journey than that of his sisters. The hard years, Lizzie believes, are behind her.

Embracing her new career as a writer; divorce, money worries and the constant battle to weather the stormy complexities of the blended family, are all but a distant memory. It’s time for Lizzie to focus on herself for a change. Stepdaughter Maisy is embracing life down under and daughter Cassie is working for a famous record producer in London. Lizzie’s only concern, albeit a mild one, is for the arrested development of her Facebook-Tweeting, Snapchatting, music and mobile phone obsessed, teenage son. With communication skills, more akin to an intermittent series of unintelligible grunts, conversation is futile. However, Lizzie is not particularly perturbed. With deadlines to meet and book tours to attend, Lizzie has other distractions to concentrate on. But all in all, life is good. Life is very good.

Only, things are never quite as black and white as they seem…

A visit to her daughter in London leaves Lizzie troubled. Cassie is still the same incessant chattering Queen of malaprops and spoonerisms she ever was, however something is clouding her normally cheery disposition. Not to mention her extreme weight loss. And that is just the start. Add to that an unexpected visitor, a disturbing phone call, a son acting suspiciously, a run in with her ex husband and a new man in her life who quite simply takes her breath away; Lizzie quickly realises life is something that happens while plans are being made.

Harsh but tender, thought provoking but light-hearted, dark but brilliantly funny, this is a story of contemporary family life in all its 21st century glory. A story of mothers and sons, of fathers and daughters, of brothers and sisters, and friends. A tale of love and loss, of friendships and betrayals and a tale of coming of age and end of life. Nobody said it would be easy and as Lizzie knows only too well, life is never straightforward when you see all the colours in between.

My Thoughts & Review:

After falling in love with Eva Jordan’s writing with her debut novel 183 Times a Year, I was ecstatic to learn she had penned a follow up that would see me catching up with Lizzie and Cassie again, but I wasn’t prepared for the raft of emotions I would feel reading this and a huge hat tip to Eva for her superb writing for turning me into a blubbering wreck.

So where to begin…..even just thinking back to this book catches my breath and reminds me of some of the most inspired and moving narrative I’d read lately.
Right, so, time has moved on from where we left Lizzie in the previous book, she’s now concentrating on her writing career and careering towards the big Five Oh, her daughter Cassie is off to London, her son Connor is exactly what you would expect from a teenager and Maisy, her stepdaughter is in Australia with her partner.  For once, life seems to be settled and everyone knows what they’re doing…..or so it would seem.  Poor Lizzie is never one for a quiet and easy life, and sure enough life finds a way to complicate itself.

Poor Lizzie, my heart goes out to her, she is a parent who wants the best for her kids.  And as most parents will agree, no matter the age of your children, they are still your babies and you will care about them and want the best for them whether they are 5 or 45.  And this applies to Lizzie and Cassie.
Cassie has a secret and despite wanting to give her her independence, Lizzie also wants to help her daughter with whatever it is that’s bothering her.
Connor is a character I could not help but like, despite his moody teenage ways he’s lovely.  All too often we forget what it’s like to be on the brink of growing up, shaking off the shell of childhood and stepping into the new adult world and I think that Eva Jordan has written Conner perfectly.  The narration from his perspective felt authentic.

When it comes to the plot, I will say that this is a book to read with a box of tissues near by.  As I mentioned above, I ended up a blubbering mess reading parts of this book.  At points I didn’t even realise there were tears streaming down my face, so strong was the emotional pull of the story and the characters.  That said, there were also bits in the book where I laughed and smiled, it’s a book that really has the whole gamut of emotion woven throughout.

If you’ve not read either of Eva’s books then I wholeheartedly recommend you do, and whilst I think that All The Colours In Between can be read as a stand alone, why deprive yourself?  Go on, spoil yourself to two new books and get lost in some exquisite writing.

 

You can buy your copy of All The Colours In Between via:

Amazon UK
Urbane Publications
Wordery
Book Depository


Author Feature:

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Lloyd was born in London and graduated in Media and Communication. An avid movie fan, he wrote film reviews for his university magazine and enjoyed a stint in a television production company where he helped with props and scripts. He went on to write reviews for music sites, including ilikemusic, and after gaining several years of valuable experience within the finance and digital sectors, completed a course in journalism.

Under the pen name of ‘Paige’ he has interviewed a host of bestselling authors, such as Mark Billingham, Hugh Howey, Kerry Hudson, and Lawrence Block, and has blogged for The Bookseller, and The Huffington Post. He also wrote a regular book review column for WUWO Magazine and two of his short stories were selected for publication in the ‘Out of My Window’ anthology. He has also had articles appear on the Crime Readers’ Association website, and in the Writers’ Forum magazine. He currently works as an Editor.

 

 

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

For me, there are many favourite things about being an author such as publication day and seeing my book in a bookstore, but most of all it’s feeling like one. That’s awesome.

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

Having to do rewrites and edits with only a short time to implement them.

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

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger for its observations of a particular place and time, and Orwell’s 1984 for its amazing futuristic foresight.

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

I strum a few chords on the guitar when I can so that I’ll be able to solo like Slash one day and I also read a lot too. Fiction and non-fiction.

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

I tend to keep my stationary environment linear without too many distractions so that I can immerse myself fully into the story. Getting a consistent writing pattern is key for me and I can’t bear the thought of missing out on writing time if I am out and about, so I write on-the-move. On the bus or on the train.

 

A huge thank you to Lloyd for taking part and for sharing some more about himself, it’s always nice to get to know the person behind a book.  Especially when they’re a guitar playing rockstar – the book world’s answer to Slash perhaps?!  Love the idea that if you see Lloyd whilst he’s out he might be writing furiously on the train as an idea hits him for his next book!
If you would like to know more about Lloyd and his work, check out the following link:

Website: https://lloydotis.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lloydotiswriter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LloydOtisWriter

 

** My thanks to the ever wonderful Matthew Smith at Urbane Publications for my copy of this wonderful book and for taking part in Celebrating Indie Publishing **

I am so excited to share a guest post with you today by Angelena Boden about the destructive grip of obsession as part of the blog tour for her latest book The Future Can’t Wait.

Description:

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The Future Can’t Wait is the emotive and compelling second novel from Angelena Boden, author of the gripping The Cruelty of Lambs.

Kendra Blackmore is trying to be a good mother and a good wife, as well as pursuing her pressurised teaching career. Then Kendra’s half-Iranian daughter Ariana (Rani) undergoes an identity crisis which results in her running away from home and cutting off all contact with her family.

Sick with worry and desperate to understand why her home-loving daughter would do this, Kendra becomes increasingly desperate for answers – and to find any way possible to discover the truth and bring her estranged daughter home…

The Future Can’t Wait is a gripping story of a mother’s love, and the lengths we would all go to in order to know our children are safe.

You can buy a copy of The Future Can’t Wait via:

Amazon UK
Urbane Publications


Guest Post:

THE DESTRUCTIVE GRIP OF OBSESSION (and the title of the book)

Many of us get mocked for having little rituals we carry out daily: checking the door to make sure it really is locked or the electric hob to test that all the rings are cold. My friend has to make a dramatic show of pulling out her iron from the socket to help manage her obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  It’s a visualisation exercise in case you were wondering. When you’ve read this blog, have a cuppa and think about the rituals that shape your life.

Irrational thoughts flood our brain from time to time like when our child is late home. We can’t concentrate on anything other than ringing round their friends or zapping out numerous text messages Call me NOW. Really worried.

Is it only a certain type of person that becomes obsessive? No. It can happen to anyone in different forms. The most talked about is obsessive-compulsive hand-washing and cleaning. Think of the TV programmes featuring cleanaholics. No doubt you’ve wondered what drives someone to scrub their house for twelve hours a day.

In The Future Can’t Wait, Kendra becomes obsessive or even addicted to consulting psychics, triggered by a casual flick through a magazine. She’s a good example of a grounded personality who, in a time a deep distress, develops a set of behaviours to help cope with anxiety. It’s about taking back some control. Whilst research into the biological factors relating to the cause and development of OCD is ongoing, there is no definitive explanation as to why one person might become obsessive in their thinking and another not.

Anxiety is certainly a trigger and a driving force behind this distressing condition, which can affect relationships, work and everyday living, (think hoarders) and it is has been proposed that there might be some genetic link.

I can talk about this a little bit from a personal point of view as from time to time I get sucked into the vortex of rumination and nothing anyone can say will end it until it’s run its course, normally four days. I liken it to having your rational mind squeezed through a colander. Mine developed along with PTSD in the mid –nineties when I needed to regain some control over events that were spiralling out of control. Many anxiety-related disorders come from some sort of conflict – inner or outer. Thankfully many can be successfully treated.

To help manager her anxiety, although she did not realise this at the time, Kendra develops an obsession with her daily horoscope. Unlike most people who dismiss it as a bit of fun, she allows this multi-million pound industry of psychics and mediums to become her oracle. Operating from phone hotlines, they guarantee success from “genuine” psychics whilst milking enormous amounts of money from the gullible and desperate.

Some research coming out of the USA about this alarming phenomenon, indicates that psychic addiction is becoming an epidemic with no boundaries. Once someone gets drawn in they find it difficult to stop.

It becomes a problem is when you consult several people over a short period of time about the same issue. Psychic dependency is now classified as having more than two readings in the same year about the same issue i.e psychic hopping. The soothing words of the clairvoyant are a life line, hence the risk of addiction. As with a substance addiction, it is always about the next fix.

Maybe some of you lovely readers might want to debate the validity of psychics but that’s for another day. My issue is about how a well-balanced individuals can develop a behaviour addiction when desperate to solve a problem and its destructive nature. There are healthier avenues to explore. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for one.

I’ve heard it said from those who are the most susceptible is that the worst thing in life is the not knowing and the desperate need to bring the future forward. Hence the title of the book.

If you’ve been affected by any of the content of this blog, here are some sources of help.

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cognitive-behavioural-therapy/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://ocduk.org/

http://www.psychic-readings-guide.com/psychic-dependency/   Ignore the pop-ups from the sales peddlers.

NEW BANNER

I am so excited to be part of the blog tour for The Good Samaritan by John Marrs, not only because I’ve enjoyed a lot of his books, but because I am joining some of the best book reviewers and bloggers on this tour, especially my tour buddy Sharon Bairden who blogs over at Chapterinmylife she’s also my go to person when I need recommendations for Scottish Crime Fiction – seriously, head over there and check out her blog if you’ve not done so already…but perhaps after you’ve read my review.

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** My thanks to Tracy Fenton and Thomas & Mercer for my copy of this and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

She’s a friendly voice on the phone. But can you trust her?

The people who call End of the Line need hope. They need reassurance that life is worth living. But some are unlucky enough to get through to Laura. Laura doesn’t want them to hope. She wants them to die.

Laura hasn’t had it easy: she’s survived sickness and a difficult marriage only to find herself heading for forty, unsettled and angry. She doesn’t love talking to people worse off than she is. She craves it.

But now someone’s on to her—Ryan, whose world falls apart when his pregnant wife ends her life, hand in hand with a stranger. Who was this man, and why did they choose to die together?

The sinister truth is within Ryan’s grasp, but he has no idea of the desperate lengths Laura will go to…

Because the best thing about being a Good Samaritan is that you can get away with murder.

My Thoughts & Review:

After I read and enjoyed The One by John Marrs earlier this year I was delighted to hear that he had written another book and was ecstatic to be offered an early copy to read for the blog tour (the perks of being a complete book nerd!).
I do love the creeping unease that builds throughout John’s books, there’s a danger that lurks just out of sight in the narrative that you can’t quite put your finger on, but you know that it’s coming and you know that it will catch you completely unawares but you can’t help but devour the book waiting for it to jump out at you.

In The Good Samaritan we meet Laura who is the epitome of the perfect character written by John Marrs, you can’t quite work her out.  To others, she seems perfect.  She’s caring, helpful, bakes cakes to bring into her co-workers, offers to sew clothing that’s lost a button or needs hemming, and on top of all of this, she has survived cancer so she stands out as someone who is noticeable.  But underneath it all, there’s something sinister about her, she gets a kick out of helping people end their lives and working in  a call centre where suicidal people call is the perfect setting for her to cherry pick her victims.

With some impressive plotting, readers are taken on a journey through Laura’s twisted and fiendishly devious mind as she recounts moments from her past that shock and alarm at times, she’s tortured by her earlier life and wants to escape the memories by helping others who truly want to die.  And I admit, I did feel incredibly saddened for her at times, but like a yo-yo my sympathies lessened when I learned more about her, she seemed ruthless and cruel, before sneakily John Marrs changed tact and had me feeling empathy towards her again.  This is offset perfectly with the character of Ryan.  Where Laura evokes horror and shock, Ryan elicits emotions of sadness, pity and sympathy, but as the plot moves on at a rate of knots the emotions switch around as each of the lead characters assume the position of power.

The way that the story hooks readers in is absolutely key, and for those out there who love an unreliable narrator then you’re in for a treat with The Good Samaritan.  There are moments where you think you can preempt where the plot is heading only for John Marrs to swiftly pull the carpet from underneath you and leave you reeling.  The plot twists are clever and downright brilliant in places.
This is the sort of book that you can’t read whilst cooking supper or you may well end up cremating it all, or end up reading into the wee hours of the morning because you’ve been so wrapped in what happens.  And if you do manage to put the book down, you may well find that it plays out in your head, taunting you to get back to reading, making you wonder what might happen next, or make you ask what you might do in that situation.

A gripping thriller that really gets into your head!

You can buy a copy of The Good Samaritan via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

Tour Poster 1

Hello and a happy Tuesday to you all!  Today on The Quiet Knitter I am delighted to share something different with you, the book featuring today is A Recipe For Disaster by Stephen Phelps which is a cookbook, a travelogue and the companion to Cookucina, a six-part TV series available on Amazon Video, iTunes and Google Play – see www.cookucina.com 

And I have a guest post to share with you today written by Stephen on the most troubling aspect of the project.  There’s also a giveaway with an amazing prize (details below).   A wee video taster below:

Recipe for Disaster Cover

Description:

A Recipe for Disaster is a cookbook, a travelogue and the companion to Cookucina, a six-part TV series available on Amazon Video, iTunes and Google Play – see www.cookucina.com .

It’s also the entertaining journey of an Englishman struggling with the ups and downs of living in rural Italy. After giving up a successful career in television, Stephen found himself dragged back into a world he had happily given up when his neighbour, Lia, persuaded him to listen to her Big Idea – making a TV cookery series. But Lia speaks no English.

And Stephen’s partner, Tam, can’t cook. So, much against Stephen’s better judgement, the three of them embarked on a six-part series set among the rolling hills of the little-known, but spectacularly beautiful, Italian region of Le Marche. In the Cookucina TV series Lia teaches Tam to cook alla Marchigiana, while Tam translates. A Recipe for Disaster follows their many encounters with the real Italy – a world away from the picture-book ideal of summer holidays in Tuscany.

As the team try to construct a professional series with no funding they come to rely on the generosity of the Marchigiana people, while attempting to overcome the constant difficulties thrown up by those whose stubborn adherence to their age-old way of life is rooted in their beloved fields and woods. A Recipe for Disaster is a goldmine of simple yet delicious recipes, while peeling back the veneer of television professionalism and opening the door to a world of Italian surprise and delight.

A Recipe for Disaster comes with unique access to Cookucina, the final six-part TV series, so you can see for yourself how the team cracked their problems and (just about) held it all together in a blistering heatwave. Experience this contradictory world of vendettas and kind hearts through the laughter and frustrations of Stephen and the team, as you follow A Recipe for Disaster slowly coming to its surprising fruition.

You can buy a copy of A Recipe for Disaster via the following links:

iBooks                  http://bit.ly/iRecDis

Kindle                   http://bit.ly/KdleRecipe

Paperback           http://bit.ly/RecDis

Goodreads         http://bit.ly/GoodRec

Smashwords      http://bit.ly/SmaRec


Guest Post:

What has been the most troubling aspect of the project? 

When I started on the long and tortuous road that would eventually lead to the online TV cookery series COOKUCINA, and my book A RECIPE FOR DISASTER that tells the story of that journey and life in the Italian countryside where the series is set, I had no idea whether any of it would actually come to fruition. I had spent many years working in broadcast television for the BBC and Channel 4, so I knew how to make TV, no trouble. But in our desire to make this series in the way we wanted without some broadcaster trying to shape it into one of their tried and tested (and boring) formulas, I had completely underestimated the issue of how anyone would get to watch it once it had burst into life. The years I had spent in mainstream TV had rather spoilt me when it came to finding an audience for my work. Make a programme for the BBC or ITV and you are guaranteed several million viewers. But once we had completed Cookucina, and had a genuinely professional product, there was no immediate outlet, and no-one to view it.

In truth we did see this problem coming, so we had done a deal with a Distributor. His job was to flog the series to broadcast TV stations around the world. Trouble was, by the time we’d finished it, his mind was elsewhere. Our “Distributor” had bigger fish to fry. The writing was on the wall from the moment we turned up at his office to proudly reveal the finished series that he’d promised to promote at MIPCOM in Cannes, the world’s biggest TV market. Firstly, all his viewing rooms were busy. Nowhere to play the show on a giant screen with Dolby surround sound. But he did have another idea. Here’s how I tell the story in A Recipe For Disaster.

He suggested we all go round the corner to a local cafe where we’d be able to watch on the laptop. We were a bit crestfallen by the idea that this man, who was going to get behind our series and promote it in the biggest and most competitive TV market in Europe, would be seeing our work on a laptop with tinny little speakers instead of on a big screen with professional audio. But at least this cafe (in the heart of TV land, in Soho, by the way) must be somewhere well-suited to this sort of thing. It wasn’t. We finally got to display our wares in a crowded workmen’s cafe, sharing a table with someone eating an egg and chip lunch, while a TV blared MTV in the background. Even I wasn’t much impressed with how the program looked in these less-than-ideal circumstances. This was a bad start to a relationship that would get slowly and inexorably worse over the next two years.

Those two years were almost entirely unproductive, and thereafter it took us a while to recover the rights to distribute our own series. But we did, and for a while it looked  like we might have landed the BIG ONE, when PBS, the American Public Television network showed an interest. Fame and fortune round the corner, we thought. But it turned out that PBS (unlike Britain’s public broadcaster, the BBC) have very little money. What they do have they spend on their major history and science series. Cookery shows like ours were another story altogether. WE would have to pay THEM to get the series on air. After that we could try to get a sponsor for the series, but the cost of getting that far was simply prohibitive.

In the end we decided to hold our breath and embrace the new world of digital, online TV, and now thankfully you can buy the series through Amazon, Google Play and iTunes

Oh, and by the way, the Distributor was not entirely unsuccessful. He did manage to sell the series to Croatian TV. So Lia and Tam, the stars of the show, are now household names in the kitchens of Zagreb!


And I for one am glad these guys went with the digital route for their series, and would heartily recommend you check them out!

Giveaway time

For your chance to win the bundle below please follow this link (this is a rafflecopter giveaway & is open internationally) – good luck everyone!

Prize bundle includes:
Biscotti artigianale
Local honey
3 x DVD of the Cookucina series

Plus a signed copy of A Recipe For Disaster

Recipe For Disaster - Prize Photo

 

About the Author:

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Educated at Oxford University, I began working with BBC Radio, moving to BBC TV where I launched Watchdog and produced the investigative legal series Rough Justice. In Hong Kong for BBC World Service Television I oversaw the start of BBC World. I then spent twelve years running my own TV production company, Just Television, specialising in investigative programmes in the field of law, justice and policing. In particular, Trial and Error for Channel 4 which exposed and investigated major miscarriages of justice, winning the Royal Television Society’s inaugural Specialist Journalism Award in 1999. Recently I have been working as a consultant for Aljazeera English on major documentary projects.

In 2002 I took an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Writing credits include many plays for BBC Radio, my most recent being a drama documentary for the 30th anniversary of the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster. Books: The Tizard Mission published by Westholme Publishing in the United States, tells the extraordinary story of how Britain’s top scientists travelled in secret to America in the autumn of 1940 to give away all their wartime secrets to secure US support in WWII. A Recipe for Disaster is a book about living in Italy while trying to make a TV cookery series, Cookucina (now available on Amazon Video, Google Play and iTunes.

I have several other books and three screenplays in development.

Social Media Links –

Twitter @StephenP_Writer

Faceboook  https://www.facebook.com/stanley.tinker

Instagram stephenp_writer

Medium  https://medium.com/@stephenphelps

Web  www.cookucina.com

 

Recipe For Disaster Full Banner

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** My thanks to the folks at Trapeze and NetGalley for my copy of this brilliantly laugh out loud book **

 

Description:

Part autobiography, part self help, part confession, part celebration of being a common-or-garden woman, part collection of synonyms for nunny, Sarah Millican’s debut book delves into her super normal life with daft stories, funny tales and proper advice on how to get past life’s blips – like being good at school but not good at friends, the excitement of IBS and how to blossom post divorce.

If you’ve ever worn glasses at the age of six, worn an off-the-shoulder gown with no confidence, been contacted by an old school bully, lived in your childhood bedroom in your thirties, been gloriously dumped in a Frankie and Benny’s, cried so much you felt great, been for a romantic walk with a dog, worn leggings two days in a row even though they smelt of wee from a distance, then this is YOUR BOOK. If you haven’t done those things but wish you had, THIS IS YOUR BOOK. If you just want to laugh on a train/sofa/toilet or under your desk at work, THIS IS YOUR BOOK.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

How to be Champion is a book that I wish had been written earlier, it’s sort of like a manual for life as a young un, and reminds us that bullies don’t always win.
If you’ve ever seen Sarah Millican live then this book reads as though she were there on the sofa with you recounting the tales of her past.  You can hear her voice as she describes how vital it was to find out if you could wear glasses to disco dance, or how big her admiration is of her parents.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sunshine in the garden, she does tell the reader about how rubbish life could be too, her warts and all frankness is refreshing and her sparkling wit shines though in her writing.

I found I was reading this aloud in sections to my husband and laughing so hard that I had tears rolling down my face, some sections of this are outrageously hilarious and this book proved to be just the “pick me up” that I needed after a stressful week.  I applaud her for her stance on body image, self-esteem, and mental health.  Millican has become an unofficial spokesperson for our generation and does so with great effect.  In at least two of her stage shows she has made a very clear point of mentioning that she has accepted her body image and no longer cares what others think (paraphrasing here), she is who she is and is happy with that and it’s wonderful to see, there so many of us who can empathise with the sentiments and indeed she almost gives you the confidence to say “sod it, this is me, like it or bugger off”.  We’ve all been there, in a changing room trying on clothes that don’t fit and ended up buying a bag instead. 

Her brand of humour is stuffed into this book in spades and I for one love it.  As I mentioned above, it really does read as though you’re sharing a cuppa and a cake with Sarah, it feels like she’s telling her tales directly to you and only you despite the fact there are thousands of copies of this book out there in the hands of lucky readers.

This is a book that I will treasure, and probably keep to pass on to my daughter once she’s old enough.  A book that I wish I’d had in my teens to let me know that there  are some horrible people who will be bullies, there will be times when you wish the ground would swallow you up because of embarrassment but ultimately it’s ok, you can still be champion at the end of it all.

An uplifting and heart gladdening read that made me laugh, nod along in agreement and left me feeling bloody champion about it all!

You can buy a copy of How to be Champion via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

 

CWA HB AW.indd

 

** My thanks to the wonderful Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour.

Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood.

Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

Contributions from:
Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick

 

My Thoughts & Review:

For those of you who read this blog on a regular basis (you are much appreciated and I cannot thank you enough for stopping by), you will notice that I review the odd short story here and there, but never crimes ones.  The reason for this is that I like my crime reads to be meatier, to be more fleshed out and like to get carried away with the story.  But I decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone and see what I was missing out on.  Reading through the list of contributing authors for this anthology, it’s like a who’s who of the brilliant and best out there and with a few names that I am a huge fan of, how could Orenda Books do me wrong?

Like many readers, when I first picked this book up I instantly wondered how this would be best read…should I just start with the first tale by Ann Cleaves and work my way through?  Should I pick out stories that jumped out immediately and read them first?  Decisions, decisions…..
In the end, I went for the option of picking my favourite authors and honing in on their pieces first.  The first tale that I read was by William Ryan, who wrote one of my favourite novels The Constant Soldier, the piece that he has written is very different from his usual style of writing and I LOVED IT!  There’s so much detail and tension packed into a few pages, the story crackles and fizzes with excitement, it oozes suspense and had me desperate to see it expanded into a full length novel to find out more about the characters, especially Angela!
Fans of Anna Mazzola are in for a real treat, she manages to pack in some of the most tense and foreboding writing into just a few pages that will leave readers gasping.  From there I quickly raced to find the piece written by Ragnar Jónasson and was not disappointed.  Each and every one of the stories in this book is excellent, all different and all utterly fantastic!  Like a child in a sweetshop, I jumped from one spot to another, deciding to read stories as they jumped out to me, and it was the perfect book to pick up in between those pesky housework chores.  Do an load of ironing, reward yourself with a cuppa and a story or two….worked for me!

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely, in a heartbeat!  If there are authors that you’re not sure about whether you might like their style of writing then this is a great book for you.  I admit that previous to this, I had not read anything by one or two of the authors listed (their books are in my ever growing “to be read” pile, but other things keep sneaking in front of them), so it was nice to get a feel for their writing and it has meant that there’s a book snuck it’s way closer to the top as I really enjoyed what I found.  I won’t mention names (certain bloggers will chastise me for my glaring omission in crime fiction).

In short, this is a cornucopia of talented writers, writing some of their best ideas and sharing them with us very lucky readers!

 

You can buy a copy of CWA Anthology of Short Stories via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository
Blackwell’s

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