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Posts Tagged ‘Urbane Publications’

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

 


Book Feature:

Published: 18 May 2017

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

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

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

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

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

My Thoughts & Review:

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

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

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


Author Feature:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hello and happy Friday!  Welcome along to another post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing” and this week I’m excited to share a review of “The Scarlet Coven” by David Stuart Davis and shine the spotlight firmly into the eyes of James Silvester to see if I can make him squirm with my questions!


Book Feature:

Published: 20 April 2017

Description:

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New York 1936. Leading New York detective Simon Finch has received an unexpected inheritance and left the force to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. But a true detective is never far from finding trouble…or trouble finding him… A stranger approaches Finch in the Algonquin Hotel, asking him to help find his sister who has disappeared. When he later visits the man’s hotel room he discovers that he has been murdered – stabbed with a dagger decorated with strange markings. As Finch investigates further he discovers recently acquitted crime boss Fats Molloy is mixed up with the man’s murder and the missing sister. The trail leads him to an occult bookshop …has the missing woman been kidnapped by a group of Satanists, The Scarlet Coven? Joining forces with a black private eye, Patrick Murphy, who is also investigating the cult, they endure a series of wild adventures and close calls with demonic forces as they seek the truth about the mysterious leader of the Coven…and the nefarious plans for death and mayhem…

My Thoughts & Review:

From the moment I started reading this book I knew I was onto something good, the opening chapter piqued my interest and I needed to keep reading.  Simon Finch was a character that I wanted to know more about, what was going to happen in the court case he was part of, who was the strange man that approached him in the Algonquin Hotel,  and who murders the man just hours after speaking to Finch?

As a fan of crime thrillers this book was a perfect read for me, the fantasy element did give me a little pause but part of this feature is about me stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something different.  Thank goodness I did, not only does the plot sound intriguing, it also works really well.  There is layer upon layer of mystery within the plot, on one hand there is the investigation that Finch becomes entangled with but there is also the riddle of who the master of the secret satanic coven is and how far the reach of the coven extends, and the two become mixed together in a whirlwind of mayhem.

The pace of the book moves along briskly, pithy and witty dialogue between characters keeps the narrative interesting whilst giving glimpses into the personalities in play.  Both Simon Finch and his wife Laura are characters that I loved.  They work well together and they way they play off one another makes for some funny reading but there is a genuine concern between the pair that is touching to read.
The prevailing menace that emanates from the pages where Ambrose De Lacy is concerned is well written, the reader is aware that this is a character to distrust, someone who holds dark secrets as well as power.

Whilst a step away from my usual gritty crime thrillers, this was an enjoyable read nonetheless and one I would recommend to fans of thrillers with a fantasy edge.

You can buy a copy of “The Scarlet Coven” directly from directly from Urbane Publications here, or alternatively via  Amazon UK | Book Depository

 


Author Feature:

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Years after marvelling at the stories of the 1968 Spring and the Velvet Revolution, James found himself sat in a Prague Blues Bar falling in love with the city in person. A graduate of Politics and Modern History, and a long standing blues DJ for Modradiouk.net, James’s affection for the atmospheric, dark and seedy Cold War thrillers of old was reawakened by his growing affection for this cobbled land of gothic secrets and his writing bone began to itch. James’s career has covered a myriad of roles across the public and private sectors including high level technical recruitment and business development, to his current role within HR Consultancy; and it was a bad day at the office which persuaded him to finally act upon his long held dream of writing. The result was his 2015 debut novel Escape to Perdition, which reflected his love both of central Europe and the espionage genre and was met with wide spread acclaim. James has also written for The Prague Times and his work has been featured by Doctor Who Worldwide and travel site An Englishman in Slovakia. He is currently developing a number of projects across a variety of media. A diehard Whovian, Man City fan, Rum drinker and Christian, James is an unrepentent member of the 48%.

The Prague Ultimatum is his second book and will be published by Urbane in April 2017.

 

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

Good question, and there are many contenders! I’m tempted to say the moment you first open the parcel from your publisher, containing your book, and lift out that first copy; the smell of it, the feel of it, and the knowledge that the words inside it are yours… that takes some beating. But ultimately, for me at least, it’s each time a review, good or bad, is posted online, or you see your book move up the charts. That’s the moment that it hits home that people, maybe a few, maybe a lot, are reading your words and care enough one way or the other to give an opinion on them. That’s the most satisfying bit.

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

The time constraints. I still have a day job and I have young kids to look after, as well as an elderly parent whom I’m the primary carer for, so finding the time to write consistently can be difficult. I have to admit that when I’m working on a project I can be a bit of a grumpy sod and it’s inevitably the people around me who suffer my moods. I very much dislike that about myself.

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

Oooh… To be honest, my thoughts on this change quite frequently. When I look at the world today I’d say 1984 because you can see the seeds of so much in that book being sown all around us, and it becomes more important on a daily basis. From the point of view of ‘my genre’, of espionage thrillers, then I’d love to have written The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.  That remains a masterpiece which completely redefined the genre. No-one has come close to capturing the mood of that book, in my opinion.

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

Marketing the last one! In all seriousness, part of the deal when you work in collaboration with an indie publisher is that you’ll match the effort the publisher puts in when trying to get your work ‘out there’ and noticed. Matthew Smith, the Urbane Founder is an absolute superstar and the effort he puts into his authors is immense; it’s only right that I do my best to match it. So, when I’m not actively writing or planning new projects, I’m all over social media trying to sell what I’ve done, trying to give fellow authors help wherever possible and just trying to grow my network. Success is a long game and you need to be patient.

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

It’s not a deliberate routine from any kind of superstitious perspective, but I pretty much inevitably end up doing most of my writing at night. It’s only when I’ve done the tea, got the kids to bed etc. that I can finally sit down and work on something, unless I take the day off work to write, in which case I go to my local library to do it.  I have to work either in silence or if I’m in public with earphones to avoid distraction (only instrumental music, no lyrics). If I’m under more pressure time wise due to my other commitments, I try and abide by a self-imposed rule of 1000 words per day.

A huge thank you to James for taking part and for sharing some more about himself, and I definitely agree with him on “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold” – nothing has come close to that yet!
If you would like to know more about James and his books check out his website or follow him on twitter @JamesSilvester1

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

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It’s not often that I post anything other than reviews on here, I do occasionally consider writing a “round up” each week of what I’ve read and what reviews are coming up, what blog tours The Quiet Knitter will be participating in etc but I never quite get around to it…..time slips away from me and well I forget entirely once I’ve written and scheduled another review.  But from Friday (10th February), I will be hosting a special feature to celebrate independent publishers, their books and their authors.

For those who have followed The Quiet Knitter over the last year you will probably be aware that I love Indie Publishers, their books are diverse and exciting.  I’m always keen to help put their books in the spotlight and share how great they are and I’ve decided that a good way to do this is to dedicate every Friday to sharing a post about a book/an author/or a publisher.  There are some fantastic publishers lined up to take part and the books that I have to share with you are some of the best ones I’ve had the privilege to read.  There’s also some wee giveaways lined up throughout the year so be sure to check back for details.

The first to feature will be Urbane Publications with a book review of The Gift Maker by Mark Mayes and also an author feature with David Gaffney

Here are some of the fantastic publishers taking part, and I cannot tell you how excited I am to be able to share their books with you.  A huge thanks to these guys and their authors for taking part and most importantly for their devotion to incredible books.

 

If you are an independent publisher and would like to take part in this feature please get in touch.

 

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Published: 22 September 2016
Reviewed: 12 October 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Urbane Publications in return for an honest review

 

Description:

Do you want to live forever? is THE question facing anyone pursuing immortality. But what happens when eternal life is disappointing, and everyone around you keeps dying?

Ben Ferguson-Cripps, a struggling writer with a surname that gets more attention than his creative endeavours, sets aside his literary ambitions to join the mysterious Life Assistance Agency. Their first case is to trace a missing person with links to the Elizabethan angel-caller Dr John Dee.

Pursued by a shadowy organisation – and the ghosts of Ben’s past – the trail leads through Europe into the historic streets of Prague, where the long-buried secrets of Dr Dee’s achievements are finally revealed, and Ben discovers there is far more to life than simply

My Thoughts & Review:

The Life Assistance Agency is a quirky and clever mystery, and a fabulous début for this author.
Ben Ferguson-Cripps finds a business card from The Life Assistance Agency and is intrigued, he is a struggling writer in need of help and a steady income so applies for a job, not realising it is run by an old acquaintance.  When he asks what is involved he finds out the Agency takes on any case, including but not limited to finding hitmen, finding jobs and bonsai trimming.
Ben and Scott work on the case of a missing man, Mr. Foxe, an eccentric lecturer.  Whilst investigating the circumstances of his disappearance they travel around Europe and desperately try to untangle the links to Alchemy and the work of a Doctor from the 1500s.  Just to make things more interesting, Ben and Scott are being followed by hired thugs from The Society of Psychical Research (The Society) who are tasked with minding all matters “otherworldly” for the safety of the general public.  

I read somewhere that this had been likened this to “The Da Vinci Code” the mystery and supernatural elements woven into an entertaining and thrilling story and I have to say I quite agree.  It’s a fun read, plenty comedic moments with some brilliant characters.  Ben is logical and serious, Scott on the other hand is the opposite so they contrast quite well.

The diary entries by Jane Dee (the wife of the 16th century Doctor) were a part of the book I can’t quite decide about.  Perhaps because the style of writing, they felt a little less like diary and more like a running narrative, however because they are written in the same style as the rest of the book it was sometimes difficult to tell where the entry stopped and the story took up again.  This could just be down to personal reading preference however, and I would urge you to read this and make up your own mind.

The author has done well to weave the past and the present together in this book to bring a fantastical tale that carries the reader off into a spiral of mayhem, madness and intrigue.

You can buy a copy of The Life Assistance Agency here.

About the Author:

Thomas Hocknell is from Kent and lives in London. He has been a social worker, car salesman and gardener. He attended the Faber Academy and The Life Assistance Agency is his first novel. His regular Idle Blogs of an Idle Fellow aims to embrace random topics of modern living, but mostly complains about other people’s inability to make decent tea. He also writes for Classic Pop magazine, the Good Men Project and The Line of Best Fit.

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