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Posts Tagged ‘Indie Reads’

As Christmas draws closer I thought it might be nice to feature a Christmas book in the spotlight. Today’s book is Christmas at the Little Cottage by the Sea by the lovely Rachel Griffiths.

  • Title: Christmas at the Little Cottage by the Sea
  • Author: Rachel Griffiths
  • Publisher: Cosy Cottage Books
  • Publication Date: 15th November 2019

Copy purchased via http://www.amazon.co.uk

Description:

This winter, curl up with the new festive novella from the author of The Cosy Cottage Cafe series.

Driving around unfamiliar country lanes, while enduring the scorn of her teenage daughter, wasn’t how Pippa Hardy thought she’d start the Christmas holidays, but her satnav seems to be more confused than she is.

Joe Roberts has had a difficult year following the loss of his mother. Added to this, he’s trying to run his own business while dealing with pressure from his sister about when he’ll finish renovating their mother’s house. So when his best friend, Luke Hardy, invites him to a remote Welsh cottage to join his family for Christmas, it seems like the break he needs.

Christmas at a cottage by the sea sounds appealing, but sometimes having all the people you care about together in one place can be a festive recipe for disaster — especially when unexpected guests arrive.

As snow falls, carols play and Pippa and Joe face the ghosts of Christmas past under the mistletoe, they realise that there might actually be more than festive magic sparkling between them.

My Thoughts:

There’s something so lovely about grabbing a book by one of your favourite authors, and as soon as I hear that Rachel Griffiths has a book due out I have a pre-order in. I was absolutely thrilled to see Christmas at the Little Cottage by the Sea pop onto my Kindle last month, but I did have a sneaky preview of this book in my role as a proofreader over at Noble Owl Proofreading.

Pippa Hardy is a character that many readers will connect with, she’s a wonderfully kind and compassionate character that cares deeply about her family and friends. Being a mum, sister, daughter, friend … her time is spent putting everyone else first. So this Christmas, with her daughter being that little bit older, Pippa can look forward to a break and relaxing. Finding an old friend joining their family gathering makes Pippa falter, but that’s not the only expected guest to appear.

A Christmas tale usually needs laughter, mishaps and love, and Rachel Griffiths gives her fans all of these and more! I laughed at the way things played out, I gasped in shock when revelations were uttered and I smiled so much while reading this story. The wonderfully rich details woven throughout make this such a treat for readers, the atmospheric setting comes alive through Rachel’s writing, you can smell the mince pies that are baking, you can see the delights in the farm shop and the Christmas market … she has such a way with words that you feel you’re there, watching the story play out right in front of you as if it were on a TV.

If you’ve read any of her other books, you will know that there’s a cosy loveliness that emanates from the pages, and in Christmas at the Little Cottage by the Sea, Rachel Griffiths manages to pull together characters that are genuine, and relatable, some may well remind you of your own family members. Their lives reflect a lot of what we have going on around us and seeing them struggle and find a course to follow is ultimately heartwarming.

It’s fair to say this book is also a wonderful escape from the festive madness of shopping, wrapping, cooking … it’s the perfect accompaniment to a hot mug of cocoa, tea or coffee, one warms the stomach and the other warms the soul.

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I’ve decided to make today a Celebrating Indie Publishing day, sometimes there are just so many brilliant indie books that I won’t have a chance to squash them all in on Fridays. So I’m sharing a review of a book I discovered by chance. Today’s post sees a delve into the world of a historical novel, WWII to be precise. The book in the spotlight is The Knife-Edge Path by Patrick T. Leahy, published by Amsterdam Publishers in 2019.

  • Title: The Knife-Edge Path
  • Author: Patrick T. Leahy
  • Publisher: Amsterdam Publishers
  • Publication Date: 6th December 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

Driven by destitution in war-torn Berlin, a beguiling woman is cornered into accepting a precarious role in espionage to keep from being thrown out on the street.
As Geli Straub becomes the seductive Mlle. Simone Miroux, on orders to discover whether SS officer Kurt Langsdorff is all he seems to be, her plot to betray him falters on conflicted feelings. Drawn past the point of no return into his life, she cannot sell him out.
How, then, is she to save him without shedding the identity of the woman who deceived him, and on whom her life depends?

My Thoughts:

All too often espionage tales feature a lead character that goes deep undercover, risks everything for the good of their country … willingly. But The Knife-Edge Path is different, here we have a protagonist who is left with little choice but to take on a guise and act as a spy for the SS.

Geli Straub plays a dangerous game when she “agrees” to become Mlle. Simone Miroux for an SS officer to spy on one of their own. Asking favours of her new SS friend is dangerous, and initially she thinks nothing of using her connections for information, cigarettes … whatever it is that she might need. However, the life of a double agent is a precarious one, never knowing who’s watching and if everyone is who they say they are. For Geli/Simone this is only one aspect that is making life difficult. Whether as Frau Straub or Mlle. Miroux, she is a target of suspicion, her motives are questioned and her life is in danger.

Delving into the world of WWII espionage, the author takes readers on a journey filled with intrigue and danger as his characters face perilous situations and risk everything for what they think is right. As she gets to know SS officer Kurt Langsdorff, Simone Miroux sees there’s a side to him that is at odds with his SS facade and develops feelings for him that she knows she shouldn’t have, clashing with her mission and potentially putting everything as risk.

The writing is everything I would look for in a book set in this era, crisp details of the characters and their lives, the unnerving feeling of danger lurking ahead, the harrowing details of atrocious acts carried out in the name of the Third Reich and above all, it’s hugely emotive.

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Celebrating Indie Publishing today sees a review of Heleen Kist’s latest book, Stay Mad, Sweetheart, a thought-provoking read that has readers shouting and cheering in equal measure.

  • Title: Stay Mad, Sweetheart
  • Author: Heleen Kist
  • Publisher: Red Dog Press
  • Publication Date: 13th November 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

There’s a fine line between innocence and guilt. An even finer line between justice and revenge.

Data scientist Laura prefers the company of her books to the real world – let alone that cesspit online. But when her best friend Emily becomes the victim of horrific cyberbullying, she makes it her all-engulfing mission to track down the worst culprits.

Petite corporate financier Suki is about to outshine the stupid boys at her firm: she’s leading the acquisition of Edinburgh’s most exciting start-up. If only she could get its brilliant, but distracted, co-founder Laura to engage.

Event planner Claire is left to salvage the start-up’s annual conference after her colleague Emily fails to return to work. She’s determined to get a promotion out of it, but her boss isn’t playing ball.

As the women’s paths intertwine, the insidious discrimination they each face comes to light. Emboldened by Emily’s tragic experience, they join forces to plot the downfall of all those who’ve wronged them.

But with emotions running high, will the punishments fit the crimes?

My Thoughts:

Heleen Kist is a hugely talented writer who never shies away from the harsh realities and uncomfortable truths. In Stay Mad, Sweetheart, Kist offers readers a glimpse into the world of a devastated friend who will utilise every skill she has to track down those responsible for tormenting her best friend online, and ultimately pushing her to commit suicide. Cyberbulling is something we are becoming more and more aware of in recent years, and so seeing how data scientist Laura approaches her investigation is fascinating, her frustrations at things never being straightforward or easy are understandable and realistic.
But Laura isn’t the only character that readers follow, the narration comes from the perspective of Suki, another hugely intelligent character. Through Suki, readers see another side of Laura, the side of a client who is frustratingly busy and unable to engage in the discussions necessary for the successful conclusion of the biggest deal of Suki’s corporate financial career. And there’s also Claire who is trying to pull off a conference, against impossible odds, and juggle things as best as she can to prove she deserves a promotion and the recognition that comes with all of her hard work. The lives of these three women are linked, and like many women they face hostility, discrimination and sexism.

Through her writing, Heleen Kist ensures that readers are engaged constantly, but they are also furious and horrified at what they read. The characters are ones that many will connect with, will perhaps recognise from their own circles of friends or family, but most importantly, these characters are ones that readers cannot help become invested in.
The plot is emotive, immersive and utterly compelling. It forces readers to think and has them pondering the dangers of social media, the ramifications of mob mentality when it comes to the frenzied activity we witness across the various platforms. It reminds us that sexism and bullying exist in many workplaces and situations, and it is totally unacceptable.
Revenge and justice are vastly different, and there is a fine line between them. In chasing for justice, what happens when you become so focused that it borders on obsession? When do the actions of the pursuer become unacceptable and too like those they are pursuing? Kist throws so many questions to her readers, asking them to stop and think about everything they read and look around at the world around them.

A hugely engaging and powerful read, one that I think will have people talking for quite some time, and would be perfect for book groups.

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Welcome to another Celebrating Indie Publishing post! Today I am thrilled to indulge another of my great interests, true crime, with a review of Krays: The Final Word.

  • Title: Krays: The Final Word
  • Author: James Morton
  • Publisher: Mirror Books
  • Publication Date: 14th November 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

Think you know everything about the Krays? 

Think again.

Britain’s most notorious gangsters as you’ve never seen them before.

Britain’s most infamous criminals: the Kray twins. The extent of their activities has always been uncertain. But now, it is time for the conclusive account of their story, from their East End beginnings, to becoming the kingpins of London’s underworld.

This objective account, compiled by best-selling crime author and criminal lawyer James Morton, cuts through the conflicting versions of their stories and answers burning questions still being asked, 50 years after their infamous conviction. How was the clergy involved in evading police action? What was Charlie Kray’s true position with his brothers? Just how many did they kill?

Featuring an in-depth discussion at the supposed claims they killed up to 30, and a deep dive into the death of champion boxer Freddie Mills, The Final Word compiles all previous accounts and then some to find the truth behind their legendary status.

This is the Krays – all facts, no fiction.

My Thoughts:

There have been so many books published about the Krays over the years, each proclaiming to give an insight into the gangland legends that were Ronnie and Reggie Kray, but many are sensationalist or controversial, so I was keen to read this and see what James Morton could offer.

Before getting into this book, I looked up the author to get an idea about who he is and what his background is to get a feel for what sort of book I was embarking on. As a best-selling crime writer, criminal lawyer and the ghost writer for Frankie Fraser, I felt that I was in safe hands with James Morton.

The examination of the lives of the Kray brothers is fascinating and feels to steer away from the usual sensationalism that is rife in many true crime books. Whether this is down to Morton’s time as a lawyer or his own personal writing style, it makes this much easier to read and feels somewhat more authentic.

Exploring the impact these two men had on society as well as the criminal world, Morton also gives information about how the brothers rose to the heights they did and the route they took, the people they were involved with and what brought about their eventual downfall.

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Today I am thrilled to share a review of a book that I’d followed eagerly on Twitter. I first heard of this book in 2018 when I happened to spot a tweet by a local author, I had sporadically read blog posts with local connections by her and was quite intrigued by the idea of her book. Witchcraft is something intrinsically woven throughout Scottish history, but the majority of the tales seem to be concentrated in the central belt of the country, with little mention of anything near Aberdeen. But with research and a determined outlook, Ailish Sinclair has taken the stories of three of these accused women and crafted it into a story.

  • Title: The Mermaid and the Bear
  • Author: Ailish Sinclair
  • Publisher: GWL Publishing
  • Publication Date: 16th October 2019

Copy purchased via amazon.co.uk

Description:

Isobell needs to escape. She has to. Her life depends on it.

She has a plan and it’s a well thought-out, well observed plan, to flee her privileged life in London and the cruel man who would marry her, and ruin her, and make a fresh start in Scotland.

She dreams of faery castles, surrounded by ancient woodlands and misty lochs… and maybe even romance, in the dark and haunted eyes of a mysterious Laird.

Despite the superstitious nature of the time and place, her dreams seem to be coming true, as she finds friendship and warmth, love and safety. And the chance for a new beginning…

Until the past catches up with her.

Set in the late sixteenth century, at the height of the Scottish witchcraft accusations, The Mermaid and the Bear is a story of triumph over evil, hope through adversity, faith in humankind and – above all – love.

My Thoughts:

The moment I heard about this book I was intrigued, I do love a historical read and if you throw in a tale with some witchcraft, well you’re pretty much guarantee to grab my attention. The publication date couldn’t roll around quick enough for me and so on 16th October it magically arrived on my kindle and I instantly started reading.

Readers meet Isobell as she flees for her life under the cover of darkness with her brother and friend, and their escape brings them to the safety of Scotland. There they have jobs waiting for them, safety and a new lives, which all seems idyllic in the setting of a castle surrounded by woodlands, lochs and a stone circle.
As a young lass finding her feet in a new place, Isobell soon finds an ally in the cook, Bessie Thom. Through her chats with Bessie, readers find out more about the Laird and the Manteith family. And the more Isobell finds out about the elusive Laird and his son, the more she comes to like them, and indeed a chance meeting with Thomas Manteith sets in motion events that change everything.

With beautifully flowing narrative, it’s not difficult to get caught up in the story. Rich, atmospheric descriptions bring the scenes alive, readers can see the delights that Bessie and Isobell create to serve at the feasts, can feel the crispness of the cool air and waters of the loch.
The characters are brought to life so well, each of their individual personalities become so real as they develop from being mere names on a page. I found myself becoming infuriated by the actions of some, feeling appreciation for others, and will admit that I did find a fondness towards others.

This wonderful magical tale then takes a deviation towards the darkness and from here Sinclair’s research and writing really shines. Her portrayal of 16th century Scotland is entrancing, and the details of the witch-hunts taking place in that time are fascinating. Taking inspiration from events that took place in Aberdeen during this time, Sinclair has highlighted a horrific world where power wielded over innocent people under the guise of religion or witchery. The actions of those heading up the hunts were deplorable, but at the time, this was accepted as the “norm”, there was little understanding of things fell outside these parameters.

Although there is a romantic arc to the plot, there is so much more to this book and I would urge any fans of historical fiction involving tales of witchcraft to look into reading this book.

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  • Title: The Crown Agent
  • Authors: Stephen O’Rourke
  • Publisher: Sandstone Press
  • Publication Date: 7th November 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:
In 1829, disillusioned young doctor, Mungo Lyon, is recruited by the Crown to investigate a mysterious murder and shipwreck off the coast of Scotland. His adventures lead him on a pursuit across the Scottish countryside, to kidnap and treason, an unwanted trip to the West Indies, an insurrection and love.

My Thoughts:
I can see why Stephen O’Rourke won a a short story competition in 2012 when he used the basis for this story as his submission, and I am mightily glad that he went on to write The Crown Agent in all it’s glory. This is a stunning book, the plotting is superb, characterisation is brilliant and I loved the style of writing.

Every so often, there’s a book that blows you away and I admit, I have been pretty lucky recently as there have been a few books that have stopped me in my tracks and pulled me in to discover the worlds inside their covers. The Crown Agent is one of those books, while I read it I was very aware of how invested I was in the story, feeling a great intrigue about the characters and their schemes, wondering what was going to happen to our disillusioned protagonist and how would he get out of this seemingly impossible situation!

Dr Mungo Lyon becomes involved with an investigation of murder and shipwreck on behalf of the Crown after those in the medical profession find their reputations blackened after the fallout of the body snatching escapades of Burke and Hare. But he has no idea of the danger that lies ahead on his journey, nothing is as it seems and help comes in the most unlikely forms. Weaving through the Scottish countryside, readers are treated to some wonderfully atmospheric scenes, and the vivid descriptions allow crisp mental images to form of the barges used, the rugged terrain and the ports of call along the way. I found myself carried off with the descriptions, I could imagine it all so clearly and it had me keen to go off and look up images online to compare.

Historical tales are always fascinating when they cover aspects I’m not always overly familiar with and I have to say that I felt I’d learned something from reading this book. Although this book is a work of fiction, a lot of research has gone in to making it fit the period of the setting, and making the characters feel authentic and realistic. The plotting is clever, the writing is crisp and O’Rourke sets a pace that keeps readers turning pages as they devour the information to find out the fate of Dr Mungo Lyon.

I think this is a book that fans of historical fiction will be desperate to get their hands on!

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One of the things I love most about this feature is that it brings my attention to books that I might not have normally picked up or discovered otherwise, and today’s book is one of those. Tam O’Shanter is a tale that I’ve always been aware of, indeed I heard about it at school when I was young, various aspects of it woven into other stories and popular culture but the presentation of this book really intrigued me. Adapting the work of Robert Burns and turning it into a graphic novel makes it infinitely exciting, vibrant and accessible for younger readers.

  • Title: Tam O’Shanter
  • Author: Robert Burns
  • Adapted by: Richmond Clements
  • Illustration : Manga artist Inko
  • Publisher: Cranachan Books
  • Publication Date: 31st October 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

When Tam has one too many drinks on a big night out, his journey home turns into a terrifying ordeal as he runs into witches, warlocks—and the devil himself—in the local graveyard… Will Tam live to tell the tale?

This vibrant and appealing adaptation of Tam O’Shanter brings one of Roberts Burns’ best-loved works, and the Scots language, to life for a new generation through the medium of Manga.

My Thoughts:

I’ve been aware of the tale of Tam O’Shanter for years, but never actually read it fully, so when I heard that Cranachan Books were publishing a Manga style graphic novel of the tale, I was really intrigued. Would this make reading the story easier? Would the storytelling be improved with the illustrations?

As I read through the book, I was thrilled to see it come to life through the vibrant and fun artwork, the Scots language flows well and carries the reader off on the exciting adventure that Tam and his trusty mare embark on. The beasties and ghouls that Tam sees on the ride home after a skinful of drink intrigue and worry him. But our intrepid and inebriated hero soon calls out and draws attention to himself when he calls out to the dancing witch, Nannie. The ensuing chase towards the River Doon sees Tam fleeing for his life and brings about the reason for Maggie losing her tail.

I enjoyed exploring the story, finding out details that I’d not known before. The vibrancy of the illustrations makes the story easier to read and understand, the Scots language is often hard to interpret written down and so the artwork by Inko gives great context to allow readers to grasp what’s happening even if they don’t fully “get” what the words are telling them. I raise my hat to the the team behind this publication, it’s fun and accessible so that youngsters might feel an excitement at learning a tale from Burns, unlike the dread I and some of my classmates felt at school when we learned we were to study Burns. The language was like wading through treacle and we didn’t have the wonderful illustrations like these to capture our attentions.

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I am thrilled to welcome another fantastic author to join me today for a chat about books and writing processes, what’s on the horizon and cause some giggles! Today’s author is none other than the lovely Gina Kirkham, the woman behind the Constable Mavis Upton series. Her previous books are Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot – The Further Adventures of Constable Mavis Upton, both are available via these Amazon links.


Gina was born during the not-so-swinging 50s to a mum who frequently abandoned her in a pram outside Woolworths and a dad who, after two pints of beer, could play a mean Boogie Woogie on the piano in the front room of their 3-bed semi on the Wirral.

Trundling a bicycle along a leafy path one wintry day, a lifelong passion to be a police officer gave her simultaneously an epiphany and fond memories of her favourite author Enid Blyton and moments of solving mysteries. And thus began an enjoyable and fulfilling career with Merseyside Police. On reaching an age most women lie about, she quickly adapted to retirement by utilising her policing skills to chase after two granddaughters, two dogs and one previously used, but still in excellent condition, husband. Having said goodbye to what had been a huge part of her life, she suddenly had another life-changing epiphany. This time it was to put pen to paper to write a book based on her experiences as a police officer. Mavis Upton was born, ready to star in a humorous and sometimes poignant look at the life, loves and career of an everyday girl who followed a dream and embarked upon a search for the missing piece of her childhood.

Constable Mavis Upton is back in July 2018 in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

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

The lovely people I meet, either in person at events, LitFest, talks etc., or through social media, has got to be one of my favourites. Being an author has gifted me that opportunity. The reading/blogging/writing communities are not only supportive, they’re great fun too!
I love being able to create and describe characters too, give them a voice, express feelings, sights and smells through words and if a reader gets my sense of humour or suffers a bout of watery eyes at a poignant moment, it makes the many hours of self-doubt worthwhile.
To have someone say they enjoyed my book, that it cheered them up or made them giggle is the icing on the cake.

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

Oh gosh, I think it’s got to be when you get a not so good review. You know you will get them, but if you’re not naturally comfortable in putting yourself out there, then it can really knock what little confidence you have. Having said that, reviews can be negative but still constructive so you can learn and develop your writing with help from the readers and reviewers. It’s the ones that are a little mean that sting, like when someone hasn’t enjoyed your book, calls it a ‘turkey’ and tags you on Twitter to let you and the world know how dreadful they thought it was…….
…..I don’t think I’ll ever be able to enjoy a Christmas dinner again (unless we have chicken) without squirming in embarrassment at the memory of that one!

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

To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. I read this in my English Literature class at high school and it made such a huge impression on me. It is such a haunting tale of courage and passionate principles through the eyes of a child. I remember alternating between great sadness and anger that there were people in the world who could actually carry such prejudice in their hearts and act upon it. I think growing up with a mum who taught me to
be inclusive and accepting of everyone, it was such a shock to immerse myself in a story that was educating me to realise that not everyone thought or felt the same way as me.

How do you spend your time when you are not writing?

I am incredibly blessed to have three wonderful grandchildren, Olivia 10 years, Annie 7 years and a new addition this year, Arthur who is just 5 months old. They fill my hours with laughter, fun and silly games, I’m often squished into their Wendy House/teepee/pirate ship with my knees wedged under my chin drinking pretend tea and savouring mud pies. Hubby and I are very keen gardeners too, so we’re often found wandering around garden centres looking bemused whilst clutching money off coupons
and borrowing each other’s glasses to read how much spread a plant (not our waistlines) will have.

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

Oooh, definitely a massive mug of tea (or bucket as my hubby calls it) to start. Then my two Westie boys beside me in their Home Bargain fleecy beds, a view of the garden, a sneaky packet of biscuits that I promise myself will last my whole writing session but in truth are normally devoured before I’ve even typed two paragraphs, my Harry Potter notebook hubby bought me and complete silence. I tend to write when my characters speak to me, I get an uncontrollable urge to put their words down and that’s when I have my most productive days. The downside is when Mavis decides to strike up a conversation in my head at 3 am and won’t shut up. I have to get up, find the bucket mug and a packet of Garibaldi’s and write to keep her happy.

What’s on the horizon?

I have been doing a lot of Speaker events for branches of the Women’s Institute over the last eighteen months, which have been great fun. I’m a terrible ‘people watcher’ which is probably quiet disconcerting for those who come under the focus of my gaze, but it’s where I get my inspiration for characters from. These meetings are always full of wonderful ladies with fabulous stories to tell. Cora and Agatha in Blues, Twos and Baby Shoes are based on two WI ladies I met at one of my talks. I really enjoyed developing these two characters who were not police related, so now I’m busy drafting a new idea for a series of mystery books, still with humour but a touch of pathos and quirkiness too.

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

I know from experience that life is incredibly fragile and comes with no guarantees. Have dreams, bucket lists and savings, but don’t wait for that rainy day to enjoy them. There are plenty of wonderful days with sunshine to live those dreams now.
Don’t ever find yourself saying ‘I could have….’
When the time comes you want to be able to say ‘I did…’

….. oh, and there can never, ever be too many books in a bookcase! ☺

Can you tell me a little about your latest book? How would you describe it and why should we go read it?

Blues, Twos and Baby Shoes (The Further, Further Adventures of Constable Mavis Upton) is the third in the series of books loosely based on my career as a Police Officer with Merseyside Police. The trilogy follows a ‘thirty something’ single mum of a little girl, who reaches for her dream and joins the police. The stories chart the highs and lows of juggling everyday life, love, career and family with humour and a little sadness.

In Blues, Twos Mavis is pregnant, as is her daughter Ella, and whilst coming to terms with becoming a geriatric mum and a grandmother at the same time, the last thing she needs is problems at work. But a new sexist dinosaur of a Sergeant is more bully than mentor, and a mysterious case involving a blackmailer sending poison pen letters is baffling the police and tearing the community apart.

Can Mavis juggle late life motherhood and her career, maintain a loving relationship with her other half Joe and deal with being a grandmother, all whilst solving the case?

Well, this is Constable Mavis Upton…literally anything is possible!

Gina’s books are a wonderfully hilarious escape from everyday life and came highly recommended to me by some friends, especially the lovely Jill over at Jill’s Book Cafe. I’ve bought copies of the first two books to read before I get reading this new book and I cannot wait to find out what Constable Mavis has been up to!

A huge thank you to Gina for joining me today for a natter and being so open about her writing and her life outside of her books. I do love a wander around a garden centre too, and I’m so pleased that her grandchildren keep her out of mischief with their tea parties!

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When I started this feature all those many moons ago, it was my way of shining a wee spotlight on a book or an author, and I had no idea about the many brilliant books or authors I would discover on this journey. But I am happy to say that the books I’ve bought have been fantastic, the authors who’ve taken part in the Q&As have all been brilliant and I’ve fallen in love with so many new books. I hope that others have found a new book or two to love!

Today’s book in the spotlight was written by a wonderful Irish author who I discovered a wee while ago, having read one of her recent books, I was keen to go back to her earlier books because I loved the way she could weave a tale effortlessly and bewitch me with her words.

  • Title: Betwixt
  • Author: Evie Gaughan
  • Publisher: Self published
  • Publication Date: 25th August 2015

Copy purchased via Amazon.

Description:

An atmospheric short story set in the Irish countryside.

Catherine returns to Hollowbrook Cottage on a cold November night, looking to escape her present life and lose herself in the past. However, her journey crosses the path of a mysterious stranger who will change her life forever.

My Thoughts:

I should admit that I’ve had Betwixt on my Kindle for a wee while now, I kept saying to myself that I would read it soon, but as we all know, the best laid plans and all that … so in an attempt to read more of what I fancy and when I hunted it out on my Kindle the other night and curled up on the sofa.

Although it’s a short story, only 36 pages, there’s a lot of detail and atmosphere packed into this story.
The emotions of the main character Catherine are so strong from the outset, taking readers along with her as she attempts to navigate the foul weather and reach Hollowbrook Cottage and the sanctuary it will provide, but first she has to contend with the owner of the cottage Mrs Donnelly. Mrs Donnelly is an old fashioned, perhaps brusque woman who is curious about the young woman renting her cottage in the winter season, but she’s not one for doing favours for anyone and soon makes it clear that the accommodation is barely adequate due to it being so out of season for rental.

Navigating narrow country lanes in pitch dark and torrential rain would be a challenge for any driver, but Catherine has a lot on her mind. She’s trying to remember exactly where along this unmarked stretch of road Hollowbrook Cottage is in relation to where she is when she happens upon another traveller on the road.

I’ll leave you to discover the plot for yourself, but I will say that I found myself utterly spellbound by this story. The scenes were brought to life with vivid descriptions, I could almost smell the peat that warmed the cottage, I could see the inside of the cottage, it all felt so real. The characters feel so real, their stories written in such a way that they come alive for the reader, even in a short story. I felt that I could understand the emotions of Catherine, make sense in the things she said and heard, absolutely loved one line in particular “Life doesn’t get easier, we get stronger”, so much sense in those seven words, a message from the author perhaps.

If you’re after a captivating tale to curl up with on an autumnal afternoon or evening then this is a book worth checking out. It’s packed with detail, beautifully descriptive and well written.

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Today on Celebrating Indie Publishing I am thrilled to share a mini review of a fun read that my little reader and I shared as a bedtime story this week and really enjoyed.

  • Title: Timothy Mean and the Time Machine
  • Author:William A.E. Ford
  • Publisher: Independently published
  • Publication Date: 17th January 2019

Copy kindly provided by the author for review purposes.

Description:

WINNER OF READERS FAVORITE SCI-FI FANTASY CHILDREN’S BOOK AWARD 2019
With Timothy Mean’s amazing imagination and time machine, anything and anywhere is possible!
Join Timothy on a magical rhyming adventure as he skips through time and pranks with pirates, gets daring with dragons, and even teases a T-Rex!
“It’s Monday. Hip hip hooray! Where shall we travel in time today?”
With Timothy Mean, every day is a rhyme in time!

My Thoughts:

We love a book that has a fun character, adventure and lots of moments for laughter, and so when we stumbled upon Timothy Mean and the Time Machine we couldn’t wait to read it! We enjoyed it so much we bought a paperback copy to add to our book shelf.

Fun illustrations help to bring the story of a bored Timothy alive as he adventures through time to visit different times and landscapes, causing mischief wherever he ends up. The pranks that Timothy plays in each new time gave us a great point for discussion as my daughter told me why she thought that some of his pranks were mean and how they might have affected people.
As well as speaking about the pranks, we also spoke about ideas the book brought on, where would we like to go if we had a time machine, what would we see? What is the moon made of? Where did the dinosaurs go? Were there dinosaurs around when daddy was a boy (he father was not so pleased about this idea), the list goes on and we’ve plans to use a box to make a time machine of our own for adventures.

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