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Posts Tagged ‘Urbane Publications’

Today I am thrilled to welcome you to another post to Celebrate Indie Publishing and share a review of the latest of the series to feature the brilliant Rina Walker, a kick ass character that thrills readers and leaves them breathless! Rina is the creation of Hugh Fraser, author, actor and theatre director, and a man I would recommend seeing at any book event/launch/talk that you can!


Book Feature:

Book Description:41lohuxt0fl-_sx324_bo1204203200_

When a step out of line means a fight to the death…London 1967. A working girl is brutally murdered in a Soho club. Rina Walker takes out the killer and attracts the attention of a sinister line-up of gangland enforcers with a great deal to prove.

When a member of British Military Intelligence becomes aware of her failure to fulfill a contract issued by an inmate of Broadmoor, he forces her into the deadly arena of the Cold War, with orders to kill an enemy agent.

Rina needs to call upon all her dark skills, not simply to survive, but to protect the ones she loves.

 

 

 

My Thoughts & Review:

It’s not often that you eagerly go into a book knowing that danger and thrills lie in wait for you but that’s something you’re guaranteed with a book in the Rina Walker series by Hugh Fraser.

Set in 1960s London, readers are led into the darkness of the underworld and aristocracy as they follow Rina Walker as she attempts to right wrongs, meet obligations and protect those she loves. The themes covered in this book are topical and Fraser does not shy away from the uncomfortable topics when portraying the gang related interactions – violence, torture and abuse featuring within the context of the scenes. There are however themes which some readers may feel difficult to read about.

The writing is rich in atmosphere, the mentions of music throughout evoke a great sense of the period and quite often had me singing along in my head as I read. Tension mounts swiftly as the pace quickens, the situations that Rina becomes involved in make for utterly thrilling reading.

Rina is a character that many readers will take a liking to almost instantly, there’s something so relatable about her, and admirable at the same time. Her quirks and personality are written so that it’s possible to get into the head of this character and appreciate the decisions she makes, understand her actions and in some cases, I found that I was almost cheering for her. The clever juxtaposition of this character’s ruthless side with her softer, caring and passionate traits is one I loved watching develop. She is calm in the face of danger and not fazed by violence, but at the same time, she bears mental scars from events that have moulded her into the assassin she has become. But none of the brutal or violent scenes can remove the humanity from this character, her love for her partner and her family allows her to show a softer side.
The more I read about her the more invested in her fate I became, almost unable to put the book down through fear of missing something!

Whilst this is the fourth book in the series, it can be read as a stand alone. Rina’s past and connections are well detailed throughout the narrative and give a great sense of what has passed before, but if you really want to get the full experience then I would heartily recommend reading the entire series.

You can buy a copy of Stealth via:

Amazon UK
Waterstones

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Description:

Hellcorp sparkles like a blood-black diamond. Satan’s got his work cut out in this darkly comic crime tale. A cracking read! – Mark Leggatt

Life is hard for The Devil and he desperately wants to take a holiday. Growing weary from playing the cosmic bad guy, he resolves to set up a company that will do his job for him so the sins of the world will tick over while he takes a vacation. God tells him he can have his vacation just as soon as he solves an ancient crime.

But nothing is ever easy and before long he is up to his pitchfork in solving murders, desperate to crack the case so he can finally take the holiday he so badly needs…

This is a perfectly-pitched darkly comic crime novel that is ideal for fans of Christopher Fowler and Ben Aaranovitch.

My Thoughts & Review:

After featuring the author of this book on Celebrating Indie Publishing last week, I was so curious about his book that I just had to read it! Who doesn’t like a bit of dark humour with their crime? I certainly do, and was thrilled to see that this book definitely hit the mark.

The Devil is a fantastic character and the most unlikely detective, but detect he must in order to prove himself to God and legitimise Hell before taking a much needed break. It would appear that The Devil isn’t the only smart thinking one around, God tasks him with a challenge that proves to be less than straightforward. But to make matters trickier, The Devil is cast into human form, an injured one at that, and ends up in hospital in Glasgow. Thankfully he encounters Dr Jill Gideon, the Terry McCann to his Arthur Daley, well it would seem that she is the one that keeps him from getting into some serious trouble at times.
What then follows is one of the funniest, madcap reads of this year. The scrapes they end up getting into make this such an entertaining read and you cannot help but laugh out loud in places whilst seeing logic in what The Devil says and agreeing with him.

Whitelaw’s style of writing makes this such an enjoyable read, it’s clever and funny with just the right amount of dry wit added in for good measure. Both Dr Gideon and The Devil are brilliantly created characters, they work well together and remind me a little of the main characters in the TV show Lucifer.  And even though he’s the bad guy, you can’t help but like him, there’s just something relatable there.

A quirky and enjoyable read, and one I would highly recommend.

You can buy a copy of HellCorp via:

Amazon UK
Waterstones

 

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Today’s Celebrating Indie Publishing features an author from Scotland who has just recently published his second novel, Hellcorp with Urbane Publications.  I am delighted to welcome Johnathan Whitelaw to join me today to share a little about himself, the ups and downs of being an author, and making time to write.

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Description:

Sometimes even the Devil deserves a break!

Life is hard for The Devil and he desperately wants to take a holiday. Growing weary from playing the cosmic bad guy, he resolves to set up a company that will do his job for him so the sins of the world will tick over while he takes a vacation. God tells him he can have his vacation just as soon as he solves an ancient crime.

But nothing is ever easy and before long he is up to his pitchfork in solving murders, desperate to crack the case so he can finally take the holiday he so badly needs…

This is a perfectly-pitched darkly comic crime novel that is ideal for fans of Christopher Fowler and Ben Aaranovitch.

You can buy a copy of Hellcorp via:

Amazon UK


Author Feature:

johnathan_whitelaw-745x1024

Author Image & bio courtesy of Urbane Publications

Jonathan Whitelaw is an author, journalist and broadcaster. After working on the frontline of Scottish politics, he moved into journalism. Subjects he has covered have varied from breaking news, the arts, culture and sport to fashion, music and even radioactive waste – with everything in between. He’s also a regular reviewer and talking head on shows for the BBC and STV. HellCorp is his second novel following his debut, Morbid Relations.

 

 

 

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

This is a really difficult one – and to start off with too! You’re cruel!

Being an author is a real privilege – and I truly mean that. Just being able to call myself that is a huge reward for all the hours, days, months and years spent crafting characters, settings and terrible things to do to them. So being part of a collective that dates all the way back centuries, eons even, truly is a joy and I’m immensely humbled and proud to call myself an author.

Another part of the job that I love is the creativity. Not everybody can say at the end of a working day that they’ve catalogued a conversation between God and The Devil about holiday plans. HellCorp, in this case, gave me that opportunity and allowed me to say it to people without sounding completely bonkers!

You never really know what a new day or writing session will bring. I love that and I know it’s something I don’t acknowledge enough. So thank you for making me appreciate just how creative, vibrant and sometimes whacky my job can be. I love it!

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

Another tough question! That’s a one, two punch. I think I might feel like I’ve gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson after this!

In all honesty, I don’t think I have a least favourite part of being an author. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do from pretty much as soon as I could think. So to be able to do it really is wonderful.

There’s no part of being an author I don’t enjoy. Whether that’s editing, promotion, speaking about my work or giving advice, I enjoy it so much. And I’ve been lucky enough in my career so far to be able to do all of those things. I mean, how can you not love being able to say you opened for Christopher Brookmyre and were the first speaker EVER at a book festival. Or that you’ve had people all over the world send you pictures of your work and say how much they enjoy it. Really, that’s very special.

But I know that’s a cop out of an answer. And as a journalist, I know how infuriating it is to get a cop out answer.

So if I had to pick a least favourite part I would say the indecision.

With HellCorp,its characters and overall mood – there are a lot of different genres and styles at work. From sci-fi to fantasy, crime to thriller and a little bit of romance in there too, I found there were a great many avenues I could go down, almost at every turn. Deciding what to do, when to do it and who to do it with and to can be an infuriating and liberating experience.

I can also thank the wonderful people at my publisher Urbane for making this a whole lot easier. Matthew Smith and the crew have been so supportive with HellCorp, always happy to answer questions and offer advice – it can make a big difference for a writer. To know there’s a team who believe in you and your work as much as Urbane do really is an honour. And I can’t thank them enough.

In the end, and I’m not sure how other authors do this, when it comes to indecision I go with my gut. But it can be a long, hard wait until the very end before you realise you’ve made the right decision.

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

Now this is something I CAN answer.

When I was about ten or 11, my mum brought home a copy of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13.75 by the late, great and much missed Sue Townsend. My parents both worked for a national newspaper so they would often bring back press editions, previews, all kinds of stuff that was sent in. And it really was all sorts, from video games two months early to videos and of course books.

This would have been the mid-90s so I’m not sure if it was a re-release of the novel. But regardless, I was hooked from page one. I don’t know what it was, it still gives me shivers today – I’m 32!

While I’d always been a keen reader before, Townsend’s style, her knack for putting down on page almost exactly what I was feeling and going through as a young lad, and above all else her humour, meant I fell in love with the novel and reading in general. And I can safely say that I wouldn’t be the writer, or maybe even the person too, without it as a companion.

So if I got the opportunity to write any book, it would be that one. Really capturing lightning in a bottle the way Townsend did time and time again is something very special. But I know no matter how hard I tried, I’d never match her opus.

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

I love sport, the theatre, cinema and all aspects of pop culture really. I guess it’s a byproduct of my generation.

Writing is a huge part of my life and I like to get something down every day. But when I’m not doing that I always like to stay up to date on the latest news, reviews, TV shows and happenings. It also comes about from being a journalist – being a right nosy bugger.

And of course I love to read. As I mentioned before, this is a pastime that’s been with me all of my life. My P1 teacher told my mother that I should be encouraged to read more. It could be anything, even The Beano she said. And it worked. I even still get a Beano annual every Christmas!

I love to read almost any and every genre of fiction and more recently I’ve branched into political and ancient history. It helps that research is a big part of my writing so it always feels a little like a busman’s holiday.

I adore football and I’ve been a long-suffering Everton supporter for all of my life. My dad and step-mother are from Liverpool so I’ve got a strong link to that fantastic city.

And this year I’ve also been planning for a wedding! HellCorp is dedicated to my partner Anne-Marie and I’m delighted to say that we’re looking forward to our big day in the autumn. That’s been a fantastic experience of course and, along with HellCorp coming out, it’s made 2018 really a wonderful and special year for me.

But writing is still a huge part of my life. The enjoyment I get from it really does mean that it’s never very far away from what’s going on in my life. Inspiration comes from quite literally anywhere and everywhere. So I’m always on the lookout.

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

I used to. I used to have a very intense, rigid routine that I stuck to religiously.

For my debut novel Morbid Relations (2015) I completed the first draft in just six weeks. What would end up the final edition was done in about two months. I’m a fast worker but I admit there was a bit of a cheat for this.

Myself and Anne-Marie had moved from Glasgow to Edinburgh but I was still commuting for work. That meant an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening on the train – uninterrupted, focussed. I’m used to noisy, busy newsrooms so rush hour trains were no problem at all.

My circumstances changed not long after Morbid Relations came out and I didn’t have that two-hour window every day. And in hindsight, I don’t think I would go back to such a concentrated, intense style of writing. I think it worked really well for Morbid Relations but I know now, in terms of my writing style, my approach and what I know works, it wouldn’t do.

I don’t really have any set routines when it comes to writing. As I mentioned before I like to write SOMETHING every day. It can be 50 words, it can be 5,000, it doesn’t really matter. Making progress, making time for whatever I’m working on is important. I get to write all day as a journalist so the transition to my fiction work is normally very smooth and easy.

And I pride myself on being able to write anywhere and everywhere. It’s a byproduct of being a  journalist, where you’re ALWAYS up against the clock and often not in the most comfortable or amicable scenarios.

For HellCorp I was able to work on this at a more relaxed pace. That didn’t stop me from going on huge five, ten, sometimes twenty thousand word marathon sessions. What I found with HellCorp, and in particular the character of The Devil, was the enthusiasm that I threw myself into it with. Unlike any other project I’ve worked on before, I really couldn’t wait to get back into that world and it’s characters.

It’s a novel about relationships, about growing, about acceptance. And being able to explore those themes through a great story, some fantastic characters and setting meant that it never, ever felt like a chore to work. And I’m glad to say that’s carried over into the next adventure. But no spoilers!

Sat down at the laptop, a cup of tea and a rich tea biscuit (the single greatest biscuit of all time I should add) suits me just fine.

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

I’m always working. I’ve got a notebook filled with ideas of novels, novellas, comic books, scripts, you name it that I want to write. It just depends on what’s on the go.

As I briefly alluded to, I have a couple of ideas for more adventures with The Devil and the HellCorp cast. I don’t want to give too much away because it’s not fair on those who haven’t read the book yet (even though I love being a big spoil-sport! Wicked I know)

What I will say is that if there was ever a case of proving you can do something well you’ll get asked to do so again then The Devil is that. What that is, who it involves and whether he’s up to the challenge, well you’ll just have to wait and see!

 

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

And a nice tricky one to finish with. Lovely!

Whenever I’m asked to offer some advice or wisdom, I always go back to the best I was given.

When I was in university (I studied psychology before going on to creative writing and journalism) I got a tidbit from a lecturer that barely a day goes by where I don’t think about it.

“You can’t edit a blank page.”

On the face of it, it’s pretty handy for authors and writers. Get something down on the page – even if it’s absolute tosh, you’ve at least got something to start with. Sit down, write it and take it from there. By the time you’re finished that initial scribble might be absolutely unrecognisable. Or it’s the start of something really special. Regardless, it’s a start and it gets you started.

And I suppose it’s a mantra I’ve used in the rest of my life too. If you just get started with SOMETHING, then you’ve gotten over the hardest part. Everything from then on in is a learning curve and that, ultimately, will get you where you want to be.

The best advice, I’ve found, is usually the simplest. And that usually makes it the easiest to forget. So sometimes all you need is to hear it from somebody else.

It works for me. And hopefully other people too.

 

A huge thank you to Johnathan for joining me today and being so open and entertaining.  There is some extremely good advice in here for aspiring authors, and some wonderfully chuckle worthy answers to some tricky questions, and I doff my hat to you planning a wedding whilst writing and publicizing a novel!  Good luck to you and Anne-Marie for the Autumn, and yes, rich teas are awesome biscuits!!

 

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @JDWhitelaw13
Facebook: JonathanWhitelawAuthor

 

 

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As we’re almost half way through the year I figured that it might be a good time to round up some of the great indie books that I’ve featured so far, and some of the great authors who have given their time to take part in the author interviews.

Links to each of the book features and author features are below, alternatively if you want to use the search function at the top of the page just type in the name of the book or author to bring up the relevant page.

The books that have featured:

Book Feature Links:

Goblin – Ever Dundas
The Wreck of The Argyll – John K. Fulton
Blue Night – Simone Buchholz
The Trouble Boys – E.R. Fallon
Last Orders – Caimh McDonnell
Never Rest – Jon Richter
Spanish Crossings – John Simmons
Rose Gold – David Barker
Bermuda – Robert Enright
The Story Collector – Evie Gaughan
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter – Cherry Radford
Rebellious Spirits – Ruth Ball
Ten Year Stretch – Various
The Soldier’s Home – George Costigan
Burnout – Claire MacLeary

 

The authors who have taken part in author features, either alongside a book feature or alone:

 

Author Feature Links:

E.R. Fallon
Derek Farrell
Heather Osborne
Jon Richter
Steve Catto
Mark Tilbury
David Barker
Evie Gaughan
Cherry Radford
Anne Stormont
George Costigan

As always, I am forever grateful to the authors, publishers, and publicists for taking part in my Celebrating Indie Publishing feature.  I’m also deeply grateful to you, the reader for joining me each Friday and sharing my love of indie publishing, joining in, commenting, sharing posts and buying some of these wonderful books.

Without each of the fantastic people mentioned above, none of this would be possible!

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Welcome to another Friday, and a post to celebrate another great book from a brilliant indie publisher.  Today’s book is the magnificent The Story Collector by Evie Gaughan which was published Urbane Publications on 14th June 2018.


Book Feature:

thestorycollector-667x1024Description:

A beautiful and mysterious historical romance from the author of The Heirloom and The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris.

Thornwood Village, 1910. Anna, a young farm girl, volunteers to help an intriguing American visitor, Harold Griffin-Krauss, translate ‘fairy stories’ from Irish to English.

But all is not as it seems and Anna soon finds herself at the heart of a mystery that threatens the future of her community and her very way of life…..

Captivated by the land of myth, folklore and superstition, Sarah Harper finds herself walking in the footsteps of Harold and Anna one hundred years later, unearthing dark secrets that both enchant and unnerve.

The Story Collector treads the intriguing line between the everyday and the otherworldly, the seen and the unseen. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, Evie Gaughan’s latest novel is full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell. Perfect for fans of Jess Kidd and Eowyn Ivey.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Every now and again a book comes along that utterly captures your attention, takes your breath away and roots itself deeply in your heart….
I’ve been fortunate enough to have encountered a rare handful of these books, Rose McGinty’s Electric Souk, Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin, and William Ryan’s The Constant Soldier instantly spring to mind, but it’s fair to say that Evie Gaughan’s The Story Collector will be joining them.

This is a beautifully written tale that captures the heart and imagination of readers as it deftly weaves together two stories from different timelines that pull a range of emotion from the audience.  Readers first encounter a hint of mysticism, folklore and sadness from the opening pages, setting the tone perfectly for what lies ahead.

The two lead female characters in this book are not dissimilar in their struggles – both trying to find their place in the world and rebuilding after heartbreaking loss.  2010 sees the reader meet Sarah Harper, an American woman on a slow spiral of self destruction.  Life hasn’t worked out fairly for her, events have robber her of joy and happiness, her marriage has broken down and she seeks solace in alcohol.
Alcohol being the catalyst for a journey that takes her hundreds of miles from home, where she discovers a diary written by Anna, a young Irish woman in 1910.
Anna is an eighteen year old woman who lives in Thornwood Village, surrounded by tales of fairies, superstition and folklore, tales that the villagers are fiercely proud of.  An American scholar, Harold Griffin-Kraus, arrives in the village with the desire to hear the tales and collect them for publishing and soon takes Anna on as his assistant.  Their joint explorations of folklore and myth are beautifully and hauntingly captured through Gaughan’s awe inspiring writing.  The tales, whilst “otherworldly” are entrancing and having an interest in mythology and folklore, I found these utterly beguiling, wanting to read more.

Clever use of diary entries give narration from Anna’s perspective and breaks up Sarah’s story, slowly giving readers a heartbreaking tale from both of the main characters.  Only when the time is right does Gaughan reveal the full extent of the tragedy that befell her characters and by doing so, ensures that readers have become invested in her wonderfully crafted creations.

The exploration of emotion and human nature is beautifully written, at times the decisions made by the characters may not be fully understandable.  But when faced with the facts of what they have encountered, you soon begin to see that the decisions, actions etc are those of a fragile and damaged person, trying to do “the right thing”, without any concrete idea what the right course may be.  The evocative and descriptive writing is magical!  I found that I could see the grandeur of Thornwood House, the cramped but homely cottage of the Butler family, the warmth of Anna’s love for Betsy the family cow, but also the vivid rawness of Sarah’s emotional state.
Initially I struggled to connect with Sarah, something about this character felt hard and unreachable but the more I read, the greater my understanding became.  I found that I needed to know what went so wrong in her life, I want to find out more about her and I wanted her to stop and take a moment to just ‘be’.

An absolutely enchanting story that captures the heart of readers and transports them.

You can buy a copy of The Story Collector via:

Amazon UK


Author Feature:

evie-goodreads

Evie Gaughan is the author of The Heirloom, a fusion of historical and contemporary fiction set in Ireland and The Mysterious Bakery On Rue De Paris, a magical story about a French boulangerie.  Her third novel, The Story Collector, will be published by Urbane Publications in June 2018.

Living on the West Coast of Ireland, which is not renowned for its sunny climate, Evie escapes from the inclement weather into a converted attic, to write stories and dream about underfloor heating. Growing up in a walled medieval city, Evie developed a love of storytelling and all things historical. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, her stories are full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell.

Evie is also an artist and has been known to hold the odd exhibit of her works in her native Galway.

 

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

Escaping into my imagination and creating something tangible out of nothing.  Seeing my manuscript make the journey from my head, to my laptop and ultimately to a book that I can hold in my hands.  I don’t think any author takes that process for granted, because from the moment that little idea pops into your head, you’re never really sure if it’s going to make it.

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

Aside from the crippling self-doubt??  I suppose, it’s having to fight to be taken seriously.  I think when people hear that you are a writer, but they haven’t heard of your books, they assume you’re delusional!  Lots of people are writers, it’s not some sacred vocation, we don’t wear robes (well, not all the time!)  So yes, that can get a bit tiring.

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

Oh my God, this is tough!  Actually, I’m going to give myself a get-out clause and choose a non-fiction book.  I wish I had written The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  It’s like a bible for creative types and has inspired millions of people around the world to pursue a more creative life.  I don’t know if I would be a writer today, had I not read that book – so yes, I would love to have written something that helps others find their inner spark!

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

Honestly, I’m not sure I know how to switch off properly!  Do any of us?  But when I do, I like the simple things in life like being in nature, being with people I love.

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

If being disorganised is a routine, then yes!  My favourite place to write is in my attic (when it’s warm enough).  I feel high above the world up there, so I put on some music and try to escape into the world I’m creating.  I’m not so much disciplined as dedicated.

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

I’m slowly piecing together the beginnings of my fourth novel, which I’m hoping will be a bit like Cloud Atlas but not as confusing!

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

Read what makes you happy – life is too short to read books you don’t enjoy.

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


The Story Collector begins in 1910, in a small lrish village called Thornwood, where a young American scholar undertakes a study to prove the existence of fairies.  He hires a local girl, Anna Butler, to help with his research, but before he can finish his work, he is thrown into prison and charged with murder.  One hundred years later, a young American woman arrives by chance in the same village, uncovering the true story that has been kept hidden for a century.

The Story Collector is a novel full of folklore and superstition.  It explores the unseen world that lies just beyond our fingertips, the fluttering of wings against the windowpane, blurring the lines between reality and imagination.

If you love stories that find magic in the everyday, then this one is for you!

 

Social Media Links:

Website: https://eviegaughan.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/evgaughan
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/evgaughan/

 

 

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Today I am delighted to welcome you to another Friday’s “Celebrating Indie Publishing” feature, and share a review of George Costigan’s The Soldier’s Home.  George has also kindly taken some time out of his busy acting work to join me for a quick author Q&A to talk all things books, writing and what’s coming next.

Book Feature:

Description:

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‘The Soldier’s Home’ is the stunning sequel to the bestselling debut, ‘The Single Soldier’, by renowned actor and writer George Costigan.

The war is over and his home was re-built … but a home is just a set of empty rooms without people and love. After surviving the war under German occupation, can a community now rekindle their lives, and rediscover their reasons for surviving?

As the soldier waits for the return of his love, the world keeps moving, threatening to leave his hopes and dreams behind.

History, secrets and painful truths collide in his troubled soul until peace arrives finally from a very unexpected source …

My Thoughts & Review:

For those who fell in love with Costigan’s writing last year when The Single Soldier was published then you will be delighted to know that the follow up is available to purchase now.

In this book, the tale of Jacques has moved on, and the reader picks up the story of Simone in 1940s America.  Through a series of heartbreaking and frustrating letters, readers share in Simone’s heartache at being separated from her love Jacques, they read about her worries about raising their child alone and her irritation that there are few letters being sent in return.  Her desperation for word from Jacques is almost painful at times for the reader, even word about the works of the house he is rebuilding or the people she once knew in France would suffice.  Her letters take on an almost one sided conversation tone, the easy flow of them making them all the more readable and you sense a passing of time despite there being no indication of dates given throughout.

Time moves on to 1988 and we then meet Enid, a woman on path that she no longer wants to be.  She makes the decision to move to France and from here the stories of Jacques, Simone and Enid intertwine.  Enid’s journey to the life of peace and solitude is beautifully written through a series of recollections.

I am loathe to say too much more about the plot, this is a book that’s best discovered at your own pace and it’s one that you want to read at a relaxed pace to fully absorb the wonderful writing.  The themes of relationships and love is carefully and intricately explored through some incredible writing.  The use of the letters in the first part of the book is clever and allows readers to see more than what’s on the surface, allows them to peek into the minds of characters to try and understand them.  The writing is powerful and complex but at the same time there’s a beautiful poetic feel to it.

An entrancing read, and highly recommended!

You can buy a copy of The Soldier’s Home via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
The Book Depository

Author Feature:

george_costigan-745x1024

George Costigan has been a motor-parts storeman, a trainee accountant, another trainee accountant (both failed) a steel-worker, an insurance clerk, a wood-cutter, a bookseller, a record salesman, a book-keeper for a wedding-dress business – and then someone asked him to be in a play. College followed and a career that started in children’s theatre, then took in Butlins Repetory Theatre in Filey and eventually landed him at the Liverpool Everyman theatre. It was here he met some hugely inf

luential people – Chris Bond, Alan Bleasedale, Alan Dossor and above all, Julia North. His acting career has included working with Sally Wainwright, Willy Russell, Alan Clarke and Clint Eastwood. He has directed Daniel Day-Lewis and Pete Postlethwaite, and his writing for the stage includes several Liverpool Everyman pub shows and ‘Trust Byron’, for which he was nominated for Best Actor at the 1990 Edinburgh Festival. He and Julia North have three sons and one grandson.

 

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

The notion that a total stranger might be reading – and enjoying – something I wrote. That’s a fantastic, nourishing, thought.

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

I haven’t yet discovered a negative. Well, realising some criticism is valid and the re-write will have to be total – that’s not jolly; but must be done…

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

I’m reading Sebastian Barry’s ‘Days Without End’ Awesome. To have written a sentence of it would do me.

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

The only answer to this is – with the rest of my life … I have a career as an actor, I’m a parent, a grandparent, I love to play the guitar, the piano … the garden is a mess – etc etc

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

Absolutely none. Except that when I’m on it I’m on it and can get {and want to be} tunnelled…

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

A strange love-story I need to re-write/re-arrange and then a thriller. No, a who-dun-it. Then there’s a musical for the theatre I need to sort out. That’s been waiting about seven years. I suspect it’s just jolly bollocks and utterly unfixable.

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

‘To my readers’? Nothing at all. To anyone thinking of writing I must quote Noel Coward’s advice, ‘Do not write on a type-writer {aka computer} – because it looks finished – and it isn’t…’

 

 

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

My latest, ‘The Soldier’s Home’ –  is a continuation/completion of the story I began with ‘The Single Soldier’.

It’s a long love story about a house…

The House that Jacques re-Built.

You ask why should we go read it?

In ALL honesty I have no answer to that – except I suppose – I believe you might enjoy it.

And I truly hope you do.

 

My thanks to George & Urbane Publications for taking part today to Celebrate Indie Publishing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today I am delighted to share a review of a book that’s the second in a series that I discovered by chance last year.  Rose Gold is the follow up to Blue Gold which I reviewed back in May 2017 and follows on the story of Sim Atkins in a futuristic Earth where water has become a resource to go to war over, a mining base has been set up on the moon.

Rose Gold was published by Urbane Publications on 10th May 2018 and is available to purchase now.


Book Feature:

Description:

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Rose Gold is the thrilling sequel to the bestselling Blue Gold.

 

In the aftermath of a world war for water, geopolitical tensions remain high and terrorism is a daily fact of life in the 2030s. But a mining base on the moon offers a rare example of international co-operation and a possible solution to the world’s energy problems. Yet not everyone on Earth is keen for this endeavour to succeed…

Sim Atkins and his wife are desperate to start a family. But a shocking message from the moon base tells Sim that he is already a father and that his son’s life is in danger. The mining station is full of suspects and, worse, the woman who fathered his child. Can Sim rescue his son and save his marriage?

Gopal and Rabten – the Gurkha and monk who helped Sim on his last assignment – are on the trail of terrorists and a giant airship. What the agents discover in the cargo hold makes Sim’s mission even more vital. When they get trapped, Freda Brightwell – Sim’s old partner in Overseas Division – is called out of retirement for one more mission.

Once again, corporate greed threatens the lives of millions. Overseas Divisions finest are back at the sharp end. And this time, the stakes are far more personal.

My Thoughts & Review:

When I found out that book two of this series was available to read early I jumped at the chance.  David Barker had cruelly included an extract of this book at the back of Blue Gold that had me desperate to find out what happened next for the main character Sim and I really, really needed to know where this series was going to go next after the shocking revelations uncovered.  Thankfully this book didn’t disappoint and I soon found that once I was curled up with this book I quickly shut off from the outside world around me and was fully immersed in the thrilling action that took place on the pages.

For those who have read Blue Gold, this is a continuation of the series and goes on to give a glimpse into Sim’s life upon his return to North Scotland, before he’s pulled back into the clutches of a government department that urgently needs his help.
I guess you could maybe read this without having read the previous book, there is detail given as to who people are, the backstories between them to give readers a grounding of how things are connected, but I do think that this series works best as read in order.

This is an intelligently written novel that oozes detail and tension.  The plotting is superb, and pace is perfectly matched to the storyline.  There is an underlying menace keeps the pace of this punchy and sharp, and like the main character, readers don’t quite know who is behind the dangerous plot that threatens the lives of many.
It was nice to see the reappearance of Frida Brightwell after her retirement from active duty.  Such a strong character that I loved meeting in the first book, although I did miss her movie quotes, it was entertaining to see her TV series recommendation to Sim in light of his mission to the moon.  Seeing her back in action when she goes to rescue Gopal and Rabten when their mission goes wrong is thrilling and ultimately one of my favourite parts of the book, and I really can’t wait to see what happens in the third book!

Now the impatient wait for the next instalment ….

 

You can buy a copy of Rose Gold via:

Amazon UK

 

About the Author:david_barker-745x1024

David was born in Cheshire but now lives in Berkshire. He is married to an author of children’s picture books, with a daughter who loves stories. His working life has been spent in the City, first for the Bank of England and now as Chief Economist for an international fund. So his job entails trying to predict the future all the time. David’s writing ambitions received a major boost after he attended the Faber Academy six-month course in 2014 and he still meets up with his inspirational fellow students. He loves reading, especially adventure stories, sci-fi and military history. Outside of family life, his other interests include tennis, golf and surfing. Rose Gold, sequel to Blue Gold, publishes spring 2018.

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It’s Friday, so that means it’s time to celebrate another independently published author and their book.  Today’s book in the spotlight is The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter written by Cherry Radford.  It was published by Urbane Publications on 5th April 2018 and is available to purchase now.


Book Feature

Description:

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After the break-up of her marriage, Imogen escapes to her aunt’s converted lighthouse on Beachy Head. Writing for a tedious online magazine but hoping to start a novel, she wants to be alone until she finds an entrancing flamenco CD in her borrowed car and contacts the artist via Twitter. It turns out that actor-musician Santiago needs help with English, and is soon calling her profesora.

Through her window, the other lighthouse winks at her across the sea. The one where her father was a keeper, until he mysteriously drowned there in 1982. Her aunt is sending extracts from his diary, and Imogen is intrigued to learn that, like her and Santi, her father had a penfriend.

Meanwhile, despite their differences Imogen is surrounded by emotional and geographical barriers, Santi surrounded by family and land-locked Madrid their friendship develops. So, she reads, did her father’s but shocking revelations cause Imogen to question whether she ever really knew him.

Two stories of communication: the hilarious mistakes, the painful misunderstandings, and the miracle or tragedy of finding someone out there with whom you have an unforeseen, irresistible connection.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter is a unique book that opens with a wonderful playlist of tracks to play whilst reading the book, giving the reader a glimpse of the important role that music plays.  The connection of music is what draws two characters together, one a musician in Madrid and the other a journalist/author in Beachy Head.  The discovery of a CD in a borrowed car leading to a friendship between the two and setting off a chain of events that lead to self discoveries and uncover long buried secrets.

Imogen has sought the sanctuary of her aunt’s lighthouse following the break up of her marriage, relishing the peace and tranquility that the remote setting offers her, despite missing her teenage son terribly.  However, her sadness is only magnified when you realise that the lighthouse she is staying in has another in it’s view, the one that her father worked at and subsequently lost his life at.
The backdrop of the setting is poetically offset with the struggles that Imogen has to work through.  Heartache is something that Imogen has experienced before, but the diary extracts she reads from her father rock her and throw her into a deeper turmoil.

Musician and actor Santiago Montoya in Madrid is working on a soap opera and not able to spend as much time working on his music as he’d like, his band no longer performing.  He begins learning English in the hopes that it might open new opportunities up for him in his career and is one day surprised when a tweet comes from a woman in England saying how much she connected with this music, how it made her feel alive, made her “feel”.

Their connection through Twitter is like the beginnings of a modern day love story, social media linking them from one country to another.  Imogen’s personality shines through her messages to Santiago, her chatty happiness positively glows from the pages.   The easiness of their friendship makes for enjoyable reading, the budding friendship between them grows, Imogen helping Santi with his English and he in turn helping her with her Spanish.

The story of Imogen’s father is one that slowly unravels throughout the book, and one that I found I was desperately hooked upon, wanting to discover what drove him to take the course of action he decided upon.  The diary extracts give a great insight into the mind of her father, and an alternative view to Imogen of events from her childhood.

Themes of relationships and emotion are a huge part of the plot, this is a book that takes readers on a journey along with the characters.
Vivid descriptions of the settings help to transport the readers, from the rocky, windswept Beachy Head to the sunny and continental Madrid.

An enjoyable escape.

You can buy a copy of The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter via:

Amazon UK

 


Author Feature:

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Cherry Radford was a keyboard player in a band, a piano teacher at the Royal Ballet School and an optometrist/post-doctoral researcher at Moorfields Eye Hospital before suddenly starting her first novel in the middle of a scientific conference in 2009.

Following the publication of Men Dancing (2011) and Flamenco Baby (2013) by a small Brighton-based independent, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter is her first novel with Urbane Publications.

Cherry lives in Eastbourne and Almería (Spain).

She chats about writing and other passions on her BLA BLA LAND blog (https://cherryradforddotblog.wordpress.com), Twitter (@CherryRad), Instagram (cherry_radford) and website (http://cherryradford.co.uk).

 

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

My favourite thing is being immersed in the world of my novel, particularly in the last few chapters. At that point, I’m way past the dreadful 25K doubting stage, I’ve come through the plot-tangling developments, and I pretty much know how it’s going to end – but love watching how the characters take over and decide the final details. This isn’t the favourite thing for people around me, however; apparently, I behave like a woman in that antsy stage of labour, and… well, on all three occasions I’ve been encouraged to book into a hotel!

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

Although I love Twitter, Instagram and running my BLA BLA LAND blog, I have far too many technotantrums about things like managing photos, uploading stuff and trying to figure out how the hell Goodreads works.

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

I love unusual romances that are written for both men and women – what I call People Fiction as opposed to Women’s Fiction. It would have to be one of the stellar examples, such as Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. I am totally in awe of that novel.

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

If I’m not plotting, I’m researching, writing or editing a novel – or possibly two of these, on different novels! I’m always reading something – a novel or some non-fiction for research – but spend far too much time Tweeting and Instagramming with all sorts of wonderful people e.g. other authors, flamenco musicians and an engineer who goes around the country fixing lighthouses! I try to swim or walk each day (both great for ideas), and two afternoons a week I have my lovely piano pupils.

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

Oh yes. I developed stationeryphilia through years of doing scientific research, and this condition was easily transferred to my writing when I started it nearly ten years ago. I have to write in pocket-size elasticated leather notebooks you can stick a (colour-matched, Pentel) biro into. The sight of a white screen page makes me nervous; I’m much happier scribbling by hand and later filtering as I transfer to the laptop. It also stops me fussing about word count, which I think is a daft way of measuring progress (does a painter count how many tubes of paint he’s using up?). It’s getting through the chapters that counts –  and not irritating readers by having too many words in them. I’m a recumbent writer – bed, sun-lounger or beach rug – but always get my break-through ideas when in the bath or swimming.

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

More seaside! I’m writing a saga about a family who own a pier, starting in 1930. At least, I hope I am; I’m still in the dreadful doubting stage.

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

Put down the phone and read – there are so many great novels out there, and only one lifetime to read them in!

Social Media Links:

Blog: https://cherryradforddotblog.wordpress.com)
Twitter: @CherryRad
Instagram: cherry_radford
Website: http://cherryradford.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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Today on The Quiet Knitter I am so pleased to share a review of a book from Urbane Publications.  Today the book in the spotlight is Spanish Crossings by John Simmons.


Book Feature:

Description:51n2b-r5ejl

Spanish Crossings is an epic tale of love, politics and conflict, with the yearning but elusive possibility of redemption. A woman’s life has been cast in shadow by her connection to the Spanish Civil War. We meet Lorna in Spain, 1937 as she falls in love with Harry, a member of the International Brigade who had been at Guernica when it was bombed. Harry is then killed in the fighting and Lorna fears she might have lost her best chance of happiness. Can she fill the void created by Harry’s death by helping the child refugees of the conflict? She finds a particular connection to one boy, Pepe, and as he grows up below the radar of the authorities in England their lives become increasingly intertwined. But can Lorna rely on Pepe as he remains deeply pulled towards the homeland and family that have been placed beyond his reach? Coming through the war, then the post-war rebuilding, Lorna and Pepe’s relationship will be tested by their tragic and emotive history.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Spanish Crossings is the first book I’ve read by John Simmons and I can safely say that it won’t be the last.  Simmons has a natural gift when it comes to storytelling which makes his books a real treat to read.  The detail in this is wonderful, it’s clear that so much research has gone into the writing of this book, the story that has been written around the events of the Spanish Civil War is truly remarkable and deserves to be appreciated.

The death of Harry leaves Lorna devastated, their lives together cruelly cut short when he is killed fighting in Spain.  Although they had just met, Lorna feels bereft, he was her first love, albeit a brief one.
Life takes on a new meaning for Lorna when she ‘adopts’ a Spanish child evacuated to the safety of England from his homeland.  She finds hope in her friendship with Pepe, a focus for her grief.   However, Pepe misses home, and his love of Spain does not diminish with either the passing of time or the distance between him and his beloved homeland.

There is so much more to this book that just the plot, which I am loathe to say too much about.  There are subtleties in the writing that make the story to poignant and moving, the descriptive quality of the writing is spellbinding.  I could feel the tension and fear, I could smell the smokey aftermath of the doodlebug attack in London, the way that this was so detailed just elevated this to another level.  The characters are engaging and vividly interesting, and will stay with you after you’ve finished reading.  I admit to having little knowledge of the Spanish Civil war prior to reading this book, but felt compelled to read up on it and find out more after reading this book.

Historical fiction that stands out from the crowd!

You can buy a copy of Spanish Crossings via:

Amazon UK

 

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


Book Feature:

Description:

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

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

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

My Thoughts & Review:

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

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

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

You can buy a copy of The Trouble Boys via:

Amazon UK
Wordery

Author Feature:

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

 

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

Hearing that someone enjoyed reading my book.

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

Self-editing a first draft of a manuscript.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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