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bluegoldcover

Published: 11 May 2017

Description:

The near future. Climate change and geopolitical tension have given rise to a new international threat – a world war for water. This most vital of resources has become a precious commodity and some will stop at nothing to control its flow.

When a satellite disappears over Iceland, Sim Atkins thinks he knows why. He is given the chance to join the hallowed Overseas Division and hunt for the terrorists responsible. But his new partner Freda Brightwell is aggrieved to be stuck with a rookie on such a deadly mission. Freda’s misgivings are well founded when their first assignment ends in disaster – a bomb destroys a valuable airship and those responsible evade capture. Seeking redemption, the British agents follow the trail to a billionaires’ tax haven in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and uncover a web of deceit that threatens global war. Whom can they trust?

As the world edges ever closer to destruction Sim and Freda must put their lives on the line to prevent Armageddon – and protect the future of ‘blue gold’. David Barker’s gripping debut will thrill fans of Scott Mariani, Steve Berry and Richard North Patterson.

My Thoughts & Review:

The plot of this book piqued my interest when I first heard about it, it’s a thriller with a very scientific and future world feel.  I don’t tend to read many scientific based novels, I’m a reader who likes the action to be set in the current world (or indeed a time period  that has already elapsed), but there was something about the way that this was written that made it very readable and captivating.

I’m sure most people will say that the start of this book really grabs their attention but it really does, the writing is so taut and atmospheric.  It’s hard for the reader not to feel like they are surrounded by the massive snowdrifts, gun toting choppers and danger.  And just as you prepare to get lost in a world of action and peril, the perspective shifts to a perilous situation of a different kind, Sim Atkins reminiscing that things had been so different two months previously when he was sat at home playing a computer game.

It is in the first section of the book that we meet the main characters and learn about their histories, and the concept of an international war over water.  Water is a resource that you don’t often think of as running out, and so by featuring it in this way it gives the reader something new.  I also found that this sparked a great conversation with my husband on “what if”, it was quite interesting to allow my imagination to wander freely for a while pondering this.

Sim is a character that readers will quickly come to like, his sense of humour and personality are on the right side of fun to lighten the situations he finds himself in.  Freda Brightwell is a character that has a backstory and one that as a reader I could not wait to delve into.  The snippets of her childhood she shares through classic film quotes are brilliant and show off a side of this character that I’d love to see developed in future novels.  Sim of course will feature in the next novel, the sneak preview of the sequel at the back of this book well and truly ensured that I would be hooked for “Rose Gold”, now I just need to find out when I can read it!

This is a very intelligently written novel, the timeline throughout is disjointed but in a way it gives the reader a wonderful feeling of being immersed in the action and means that they experience the unravelling of salient plot points at just the right time, however this may not be preferential for all readers.  The level of detail that David Barker includes in both the description of this characters as well as settings is top rate.  I felt that I was able to see the activity at the airstrip, taste the sands in the desert and feel the painful chill of the Himalayas as well as the perilous situations the characters found themselves in.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one and flew through it, eager to find out what happens next, now the wait for “Rose Gold”…..please don’t leave us waiting too long Mr Barker!!

You can buy a copy of “Blue Gold” via:

Urbane Publications
Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to David Barker and Urbane Publications for the opportunity to read this and take part in the blog tour.


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

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I am absolutely thrilled to welcome you along to my stop on the blog tour for “Death’s Silent Judgement” today.  I have a wonderful guest piece written by Anne Coates to share with you.  “Death’s Silent Judgement” is the sequel to “Dancers in the Wind” (I reviewed this back in December 2016 here’s the link to the review).

Description:  

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Following the deadly events of Dancers in the Wind, freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is thrown into the heart of a horrific murder investigation when a close friend, Liz Rayman, is found with her throat slashed at her pro bono dental practice at St John the Evangelist church in Waterloo. The free surgery Hannah runs is attended by the homeless people who comprise Cardboard City nearby and initially the police are quick to place the blame in their direction.

Hannah is not convinced and nor is Lady Rayman, Liz’s mother who employs the journalist to investigate.

With few clues to the apparently motiveless crime Hannah throws herself into discovering the reason for her friend’s brutal murder, and is determined to unmask the killer. But before long Hannah’s investigations place her in mortal danger, her hunt for the truth placing her in the path of a remorseless killer…

You can buy a copy of “Death’s Silent Judgement”  via:

Amazon
Urbane Publications
Wordery


My Inspiration for Death’s Silent Judgement

Many people have assumed that my protagonist Hannah Weybridge and her situation are, at least in parts, autobiographical. Of course this is true to a certain extent and I couldn’t put it better than Virginia Woolf who wrote: “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” Although I would probably have changed his to her!

I have dug deeply into some of my own experiences to create Hannah however her life has been refracted through various prisms. How she reacts to situations is part of her personality not mine. She is, like other characters, one of my imaginary friends. I confess I love the way characters arrive in my narratives – sometimes uninvited. I remember a spiritualist telling me she saw spirits vying for her attention and that’s how I feel. Sometimes they are all clamouring for a bigger role. It can get quite noisy in my head.

So where did the idea of discovering one’s best friend dead in the crypt of a church where she held a free dental clinic for the homeless, came from? In truth I have no idea. I had never been into St John the Evangelist at Waterloo and I do not have friends who are dentists – dead or alive. However I have experienced – as most people have – the loss of a friend either through circumstance or death. In particular I lost touch with one close friend when I was pregnant and I have used that situation to explore feelings and emotions in the interaction between Hannah and Liz, which I have done via flashbacks in Death’s Silent Judgement. But that is a kernel of truth that expands fictionally. A “what if…” that that takes me into the fictional world.

A sense of place is also important to me. The murders in Dancers in the Wind began in Kings Cross. In the sequel, the killings and much of the action has moved further south to Waterloo. This is an area I knew and know well. My mother was born there and a lot of her family lived there. As she was the only child of a second marriage, her half-siblings were between ten and 18 years older than her and died years ago. I modelled two minor characters, Eileen and Kit, on one of her sisters-in-law and her half-sister. That’s to say I took them as a starting point. Although I know the area well from when we visited family when I was a child, I also got to know the area as an adult when I worked at IPC Magazines in Stamford Street. The homeless people in the cardboard city of the Bull Ring (now the Imax Cinema) were a familiar sight.

Another source of inspiration is the amazing work individuals do to make life better for other people. WaterAid is a charity I support and they do such important and life-saving work. I have a charity in Death’s Silent Judgement – but I deliberately made the organisation a small, fictitious one. At the outpost where Liz was based, girls suffered rape and abuse through lack of amenities. Sadly this is a situation which continues today.

As a journalist I have been privileged to share and write about many people’s experiences and situations from celeb interviews to talking to prostitutes (my starting point for Dancers in the Wind) and like most writers I love eavesdropping on other people’s conversations. I always have a notebook at the ready for priceless gems! Plus I am fascinated by how people are dressed and present themselves. I make notes and keep them handy for my characters. (I wish I had a hidden camera that Hannah uses to take photos of people who intrigue me.) And I am indebted to friends who offer insights into their lives and careers.

All of this goes into my mind’s melting pot. I use nuggets of information to go off on a journey in my imagination. Often a character will lead me down a different path and reveal his or her secrets in an unexpected way. I was stunned by how this happened with one character in Death’s Silent Judgement and then I realised that the character had been giving me clues all along the way. I just hadn’t been paying close enough attention!


A huge thank you to Anne for joining me today and sharing where she gets her inspiration from.  I’m sure you will all agree that it’s always fun to find out where ideas for characters and plots come from, just be sure never to say anything too juicy around Anne, she might have that notebook handy to jot down all the details!

Hello and happy Friday!  Welcome along to another post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing” and this week the book being featured is “Beware the Cuckoo” by Julie Newman, and the author in the spotlight is Simon Michael.

 


Book Feature:

Published: 18 May 2017

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“Lies, deceit and dark secrets – this is a wonderfully addictive read” – Sheree Murphy, actress and television presenter

They were reunited at his funeral, school friends with a shared past. A past that is anything but straightforward. A past that harbours secrets and untruths.

Karen has a seemingly perfect life. An adoring husband, two wonderful children and a beautiful home. She has all she has ever wanted, living the dream. She also has a secret.

Sandra’s once perfect life is rapidly unravelling. The man who meant everything to her had a dark side and her business is failing. To get her life back on track she needs to reclaim what is rightfully hers. She knows the secret.

As the past meets the present, truths are revealed – and both women understand the true cost of betrayal.

My Thoughts & Review:

It’s not often that a book leaves me genuinely stumped about how to review it.  On the one hand there was a very luring mystery aspect to the plot of this book, but there was also a plot line that I found very uncomfortable to read and if I’m honest I don’t think I would have picked this book up had I known about it.   Abuse of any sort makes for harrowing reading but when it features heavily in a book it puts a reader in a difficult position.  Do they continue reading and hope that this aspect of the plot is handled sensitively and remains utterly relevant to the story or do they stop reading there and then and forever wonder what happens in the other parts of the plot?  This was  a quandary I found myself in earlier this week.

I would urge caution to readers who may find the abuse detail too much.  The mystery element of the book is written well, the creeping darkness that looms as Karen and Sandra’s shared past is recounted gives the reader a gripping read and the prologue really does grab you.  The pace of this is quite brisk, and the number of secrets that are buried in the plot keep readers on their toes.
Sandra was a character that I struggled to connect with, she was very vain and spoiled as a youth and seemed not have changed much in adulthood.  Karen on the other hand, a vulnerable youth, that survives to adulthood but is troubled by her past and the memories associated with it.  Neither of these women were particularly likeable but I think this helped give a sense of detachment when reading this.

You can buy a copy of “Beware the Cuckoo” directly from directly from Urbane Publications here, or alternatively via  Amazon UK | Book Depository


Author Feature:

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Simon Michael is the author of the best-selling London 1960s noir gangster series featuring his antihero barrister, Charles Holborne.  Simon writes from personal experience: he was a barrister for 37 years and worked in the Old Bailey and other criminal courts defending and prosecuting a wide selection of murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy during what was often considered the “Wild West” of British justice.  The 1960s was a time when the Krays and the Richardsons and other violent gangs fought for control of London’s organised crime, and the corrupt Metropolitan Police beat up suspects, twisted the evidence and took their share of the criminal proceeds.   Simon weaves into his thrillers genuine court documents from cases on which he worked and the big stories of the 1960s.

Simon was a successful author in the 1980s, published here and in the USA, and returned to writing when he retired from the Bar in 2016.  The first two books in the Charles Holborne series, The Brief published in September 2015 and An Honest Man published in July 2016, have both garnered rave reviews for their authenticity and excitement.  The theme of Simon’s books is alienation; Holborne, who dabbled in crime and in serious violence before becoming a barrister, is an outsider both in the East End where he grew up and in the Temples of the law where he now practices, where he faces daily class and religious prejudice.  He has been compared to Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe and Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, honourable men surrounded by corruption and violence, trying to steer an honest course.

The third book in the series, THE LIGHTERMAN, will be published in June 2017 and looks set to be another bestseller.

Simon lives with his wife and youngest child in Bedfordshire. He is a founder member of the Ampthill Literary Festival and a former trustee and chairman of the Road Victims Trust, a charity devoted to supporting those bereaved or suffering life changing injury on the roads.

 

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

I can lose myself in a parallel world, one very similar to the one I inhabit, but where I control the outcomes.  I can present my characters, in particular Charles Holborne – who bears more than a passing resemblance to me – with the same life choices, the same moral dilemmas and the same dangers that I have faced and have him do better than I did.  It’s a mixture of escapism and self-therapy.

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

The inverse of the previous answer: the area where I have no control, i.e. the business side of things.  Like every author I feel that I’m writing something worth reading.  More than that, I also believe I have something to say about the darker side of human nature, how we are all a mix of good and evil, and how in the end good usually prevails.  But having spent months crafting, tweaking and polishing to produce work of the best possible quality I can manage, I have no control over whether the book is a bestseller or it sinks into the abyss with thousands of others.  There’s a huge market out there, and it’s so disheartening how authors of the highest quality (and I’m not talking about myself) just don’t get noticed; so often authors with distinctive voices don’t get the prominence or the sales they deserve.  On the other hand complete and utter copycat pap finds its way onto the best-seller lists because it happens to be the flavour of the month, or because the Amazon behemoth decides to put its marketing heft behind it.  It’s iniquitous, random and dispiriting.

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

There are too many to mention, but one book that I have returned to over and again during my life is The Adventures of Hiram Holliday by Paul Gallico.  I first read it in my late teens or perhaps early 20s when I was quite impressionable, and it had a lasting impact on me.  It is set in the late 1930s just as the Nazis are taking over Germany, against the backdrop of a Europe that was shortly to disappear forever.  It is the story of a mild-mannered rather portly old-fashioned American gent who turns out to have the heart and soul of a real hero, and some surprisingly useful talents.  He is not in the least brash and hides his light under a bushel.  He is the sort of gentleman (and hero) I have always aspired to be.

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

I do a lot of talks to book groups, clubs and associations (for example the WI), and really enjoy it.  Unlike most authors, I don’t talk directly about my writing but about my family’s unusual history, my journey from council labourer to barrister, some of the entertaining stories and personalities I have encountered at the Bar and the themes which inspire my books.  After 38 years of public speaking, I hadn’t realised the extent to which I would miss it when I retired from active practice.  Speaking to these groups allows me to continue performing.

I also spend a lot of time doing research (which I like – and which can be very seductive unless you force yourself eventually to get down to the actual writing); marketing (which I dislike) and social media (which I loathe, but see as a necessary evil).

Finally, I have bought a very old rambling farmhouse in Gascony, which I adore, and I go there for peace and tranquillity as often as I can.  My wife still works, so she and my adult children join me as often as their schedules permit.

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

I don’t have any routine for writing and I desperately need to create one!  My wife and family accuse me of having a “butterfly mind”, which flits from subject to subject and task to task.  If my wife is to be believed, it makes me extremely unproductive.  I point out that I had a very successful career at the Bar for over 30 years, and in less than three years since I took on my last case I have written four novels, not to mention creating the website, doing the marketing, social media, blogging, and so on.  Not bad for someone who is unproductive.

However, she is right to this extent: I need to work to a proper schedule and divide the day into sections for social media/marketing chores, actual writing, and domestic/childcare stuff.  At present it’s the writing time which gets squeezed and squeezed, moved further and further towards the end of the list, and sometimes never reached at all.  And, after all, that’s the bit I like the best.

I have no particular rituals.  When I do get to the writing I sit at my desk, wake up the computer and start.  Once there, four or five hours will pass without my even noticing.

A huge thank you to Simon for taking part and for sharing some more about himself, and I have to say that I did go and look up The Adventures of Hiram Holliday after it was mentioned as it sounds like a book I’d enjoy, and it’s currently at the top of my birthday wish list for next month along with The Lighterman .
If you would like to know more about Simon and his books check out his website or follow him on twitter @simonmichaeluk

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

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Published: 4 May 2017

Description:

How far would you go to save your reputation? The stunning new noir thriller from the author of the bestselling The Missing One and The Other Child. Perfect for fans of I Let You Go and Lie With Me.

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation?

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Night Visitor” is the first book by Lucy Atkins that I’ve read, and if I’m honest I really had no idea what to expect when I picked this up.  I’d seen a fair bit of praise for this book and was curious to see if it lived up to the hype.

Following two characters, Olivia Sweetman and Vivian Tester, the author expertly weaves an intricate plot that will leave readers stunned, the story makes for uncomfortable reading in places but it is also spectacularly clever.  The way in which this book has been written is magnificent, each word, each phrase, each nuance is used for maximum effect and is perfectly placed to ensure that readers are entranced under Atkins spell.
Olivia Sweetman is an interesting character who on the surface appears to have the quintessential perfect life.  She is a highly successful academic, a minor celebrity, has a happy marriage and three children.  But below the surface there is tension bubbling, from the very beginning it is clear there is something bothering her, and the relationships around her are not as stable as they might seem.
Vivian Tester, well there’s a character that I found incredibly difficult to work out.  A true hat tip to Atkins here, as this must have been a character that took time and work to get just right on paper.  Vivian Tester is cold, distant, blunt and for want of a better word, strange.  She likes routine, and does not like anyone upsetting it.  She clearly has a secret or two to hide, but what could be behind her sinister aura.
Both of these women make for unreliable narrators, but it’s up to the reader to decide which is the most unreliable……

At times there is a claustrophobic feel to reading this book, suspicion runs rife throughout the plot, there are secrets being kept that could potentially ruin the lives of many and there is an underlying menace that presents in many forms – the book perfectly titled when you consider the events in the tower in France and Vivian’s terrifying nightmares.  All of this combines to form an incredibly rich and atmospheric read, and one that is filled with intrigue.

The attention to detail in the writing absolutely blew me away, Lucy Atkins has clearly spent a lot of time researching her subject matter, intricate details given about dung beetles, the publishing world and academia add a real feeling of authenticity as well as providing fascinating in-depth reading.

A wonderfully gripping thriller, that haunts the reader long after they’ve turned the final pages.

My thanks to Alainna Hadjigeorgiou and Quercus Books for the opportunity to read this book and take part in the blog tour.

You can buy a copy of “The Night Visitor” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, guest posts and extracts!

 

Night Visitor Blog Tour Poster

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Published: 17 April 2017

 

Description:

It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams.

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time.

My Thoughts & Review:

Every so often you read a book that speaks directly to your heart and that book becomes a very special one indeed.  “The Sewing Machine” has become a very special book to me, one that I loved reading and will no doubt be reading again before the year is out.

The uniqueness of this book comes in the form that the reader follows the tale of a Singer Sewing machine from it’s “birth” on the production line in Clydebank, Glasgow in the early 1900s.  It is at the Singer factory that we meet the first of the wonderfully rich characters, Jean.  A young woman, who believes in doing the right thing and following her heart, Jean takes part in a strike at the factory which in turn leads to a change of life for her.

The inheritance of the sewing machine by Fred brings the reader to current times and a different world from when the sewing machine first appeared.  It is through Fred that the reader finds out about the history of this particular machine, he unearths notebooks kept by his grandmother and great grandmother detailing all of the projects sewn on this machine.  The author expertly crafts together an intensely rich tale that flows over several time periods from different perspectives but all the while keeps everything linked, you could say her anchor stitching is perfect.

The exploration of each of the main characters in this book is so well thought out and detailed, it is evident that numerous hours of research has been done in planning of this story, including the small details of nursing uniforms and practices in the set time period add a real authenticity.
The lives of Connie and Alfred stuck out for me reading this, perhaps there was something about them that reminded me of my grandparents, certainly some of Fred’s younger memories of his grandparents did strike a chord with me, hours spent pottering in the garden with my grandfather, or creating things with my grandmother like little play dens etc.  theirs is a wonderful example of loving relationship, one filled with respect, care and genuine concern for others.
Fred is another character that found his way into my heart, through his blog entries the reader finds out more about him, how his life has changed following the death of his beloved grandfather and his decisions to remain in Edinburgh.
Kathleen’s story was one that I found troubling at times, not quite knowing how to take her, but I think that some of this has to be credited to Natalie Fergie.  In her writing of this character she invokes a very good representation of a woman who has faced troubling times but still remains vulnerable.  Hers was a tale that I found saddening but empowering, her notebooks proving just how strong she was.

This is a wonderfully charming read, a story that has numerous threads running through it, and like a patchwork quilt, each part is dovetailed seamlessly to form a beautiful creation.  I absolutely loved reading this book, it made me smile, it made me laugh, it made me weep but at the end I felt such a great satisfaction at how things worked out.

My heartfelt thanks to Natalie Fergie for the opportunity to read and review this book, and for inviting me to participate in her blog tour.

You can buy a copy of “The Sewing Machine” via
Amazon

Natalie has advised that paperback has sold out at the wholesalers, however Blackwell’s bookshop in Edinburgh will do a special Free Postage deal if people ring the shop and order on the phone 0131 622 8222.  And in London, The Big Green Bookshop have copies (and Free Postage) if people ring 0208 881 6767 – please note that there may be no guarantees how long they will have copies for, this book is absolutely brilliant and flying off the shelves!

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews, guest posts and fantastic features with the author of The Sewing Machine.

Yesterday’s host was the lovely Joanne over at Portobello Book Blog why not pop over and read her review.  Tomorrow’s host is Abby, a smashing lass that writes amazing reviews over on Anne Bonny Book Reviews

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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 I am honoured to share my review of “Hitler’s Forgotten Children” written by Ingrid Von Oelhafen and Tim Tate and I’m equally excited that this post is also part of the blog tour for this book.


Description:

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‘More than 70 years ago I was a “gift” for Adolf Hitler. I was stolen as a baby to be part of one of the most terrible of all Nazi experiments: Lebensborn.’

The Lebensborn programme was the brainchild of Himmler: an extraordinary plan to create an Aryan master race, leaving behind thousands of displaced victims in the wake of the Nazi regime.

In Hitler’s Forgotten Children Ingrid von Oelhafen shares her incredible story as a child of the Lebensborn: a lonely childhood with a distant foster family; her painstaking and difficult search for answers in post-war Germany; and finally being reunited with her biological family – with one last shocking truth to be discovered.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The Lebensborn programme was not something I was familiar with before reading this book.  I was aware of the Nazi desire to create a “master race” through carefully planned marriages within the SS etc but “Hitler’s Forgotten Children” has opened my eyes to the true scale of the horror and devious lengths that would be aspired to by such villainous perpetrators.

Ingrid von Oelhafen tells the painful story of how she ended up “stateless”, taken as a young child from her homeland and placed into various homes until being fostered by an approved German family to be “Germanised”.  In essence this is part memoir and part history book, Ingrid recounting the memories of her childhood, the journey she undertakes to find out her identity and her roots, but she also provides detail on a chapter of history that many people may not have heard about.  The inclusion of text from Nazi documents, orders and letters provides readers with a glimpse of the shocking truth about what happened during those dark years.

The heartbreaking subject matter of this book can make for difficult reading at times, there were times I was horrified at what I was reading, shocked at the events that had taken place but I was also found this a compelling and addictive read.  I wanted to know how Ingrid would discover her true identity, I needed to know what happened when she met her long lost biological family, but more than that, I was enthralled by the way in which this was written.  Many times I paused whilst reading and considered how I would have reacted to the revelations that Ingrid had discovered during the course of her investigations.  I enjoyed the way that this book challenged my perceptions of nature versus nurture, and reading the accounts of the Lebensborn children certainly gave me pause for thought.

This was a very thought provoking read, that is well researched and thought out.  The struggles Ingrid faced to find out her true roots are similar to many of the victims of the Lebensborn programme, many of them being unable to reconcile the findings.

A highly recommended read!

You can buy a copy of “Hitler’s Forgotten Children” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

My thanks to Elliott & Thompson, especially Alison Menzies for sending me a copy of this wonderful book.


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

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for “Sleeper”, the brilliant YA crossover thriller written by J.D. Fennell and share with you a fantastic piece written by the author on the importance of strong characters.  In “Sleeper” there is no shortage of strong characters, indeed the main character is one that instantly challenges the reader as to his motives, an enigmatic character that reader’s can’t help but want to follow as the tale draws them in.  Usually when a book arrives I will flick through it, try to gauge what sort of read it will be etc, but this book instantly grabbed my attention and before I knew it, I’d read a fair few chapters and was hooked!

Description:

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

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

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

You can buy a copy of “Sleeper” via:

Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository
Goldsboro Books (signed, exclusive edition)


The importance of strong characters

If you are the kind of reader who likes pacey, gritty action thrillers then will you have certain expectations that must be met. First up you will want a story that takes you on a ride, delighting and shocking you in equal measure. You will also want a character to connect to: someone who draws you into the story and makes you feel what they feel. Remember, you are on a journey and you want to experience all it has to offer: love, fear, anger, happiness, rage, you name it. You – actually not it’s not just you, it’s we – we want it all.

Characters are the lifeblood of a novel whether they are good or bad. Not only do we want to be in a their head, we want to be in their heart and soul. Achieving this is the holy grail for any writer crafting a story.

So, characters are doers. They do not sit around, browsing Twitter for hours. Nor do they watch endless television. Off the page, these things are possibly true, however, we do not want to read about it. That would just make for a dull book. Characters are active players in the story who take control and make decisions that move the plot forward. They bring humanity to a story, and let’s be honest, without that, what do you have other than a sequence of events. It is this human element and the character’s emotions that make them real to us.

As an aside, people often ask which character is easier to write –  good guys or bad guys? For me, it is whoever is the most interesting. Let’s put this into the context of Sleeper, without giving away too many spoilers. I loved writing the Pastor. He is full of contradictions: a God-fearing man of the cloth with no moral compass. He does wicked, cruel things that he believes are right. It is a kind of extremism that make him a terrifying enemy for Will.

Will was the most fun to write. From the opening sequence I wanted readers to be unsure about his intentions. I really did not want to give too much away about him. Within the first chapter and on the dust cover of the hard back is the following passage:

“You are one of us, Will,” Frost had said. “Four years I have overseen your training and I could not be prouder. Today will be your baptism of blood. Do not fail me. Do not fail our masters.”

Masters! Will had almost baulked at that. His hands curl into fists at the thought. He had held his tongue, his expression fixed, his face a mask, a mask he had worn since this all began just over four years back. To this day it still surprises him how he has managed to hide the truth of who he is from Frost.

So what do we understand from this?

  1. We are in Will’s head, therefore it is his point of view (POV).
  2. Will is angry, but it is not a sudden surge of anger; it is a rage drawn out over four years.
  3. Will is clever. He has deceived Colonel Frost over those four years.
  4. Will has some sort of unpleasant mission to complete.

At a higher level we can figure out that Will is no wallflower. He has an ambiguity (is he good or is he bad?) and a rage that he conceals behind his mask of a face. He is also capable of doing things (“baptism of blood”) that readers don’t yet know about. As a writer, I hope this passage is a taster of what is to come. Will is your POV character; this is his story. He will take you on a journey and it may not be pleasant, so hold on tight.


A huge thank you to J.D. Fennell for joining me today and sharing this, hopefully it’s whet your appetite to check out the book.  Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour for reviews and guest posts.

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