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Christmas Secrets at Villa Limoncello by Daisy James

Escape to Villa Limoncello… where dreams come true in the most unexpected ways.

With Christmas around the corner, Izzie Jenkins is ready to kickstart the new ‘Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes’ course at Villa Limoncello with chef and business partner, Luca Castelotti.

However, secrets are stirring with their latest guests and when nasty accidents keep befalling the group it looks like Izzie will have to turn detective once more to protect the Villa’s fledgling reputation. On top of all this, Izzie’s been offered the job of a lifetime – back home in Cornwall. Will she be coming home for Christmas, or will Tuscany work its magic to keep her at Villa Limoncello with Luca?

My review

This is a winning combination of festivity, fabulous food, romance and mystery. Add in fascinating characters, a beautiful setting and a clever, captivating plot and you just can’t ask for more.

The book is the third in a series but it works fine as a standalone as we’re quickly given all the information we need to know what’s what.

The author writes beautifully. The words dance off the page and sweep you along. There’s humour, tension, mystery and romance, all superbly handled.

This is a Christmas parcel of perfection.

Purchase Link

Author Bio

Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her peppermint-and-green summerhouse (garden shed), she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.
Daisy would love to hear from readers via her Facebook page or you can follow her on Twitter @daisyjamesbooks or on Instagram @daisyjamesstories.

Social Media Links – Facebook https://www.facebook.com/daisyjamesbooks/

Twitter @daisyjamesbooks

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/daisyjamesstories/

 

 

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‘Devon and Hell: Four Seasons by the Sea’ by Karen Wheeler: disasters, triumphs and an indomitable spirit

Blurb

One woman, one dog and a disastrous move to Devon. Throw in an estranged mother who has just been diagnosed with dementia and the result is a brilliantly written comic memoir with more ups and downs than the South West Coastal Path.

This is not your usual tale of ‘I moved to a chocolate-box cottage by the sea and lived happily ever after’. Instead, it is a powerful and gripping story of relocation – and a maternal relationship – gone wrong.

Ultimately this is an uplifting, feel-good story as Karen triumphs over adversity and finds new peace following the death of her mother.

 

My review

I’m a sucker for books with witty titles, and for ones by this wonderful author, so how could I resist Devon and Hell.

In this memoir Karen Wheeler leaves France behind after living there for eight years and buys the idyllic sounding Plum Tree Cottage on the Devon coast. Unfortunately, she discovers that there’s more to the cottage than meets the eye – lots of little eyes glistening in the darkness. Thus begins a difficult time when instead of moving in and making her new home, she has to tackle lawyers and various trade professionals to sort out the potential problem.

While she’s doing so, there’s more bad news. Her difficult mother, with whom the author has never had an easy relationship, becomes seriously mentally ill. Together with her brothers they deal with the wide-spreading fall-out of this.

Poor Karen begins to feel that the cottage is unlucky and one or two happenings seem to confirm that it is. However, she determinedly continues her work on it, and dealing with her mother, until momentous events bring her closure on her unhappy childhood and new hope for her future.

What you take away from this book is Karen Wheeler’s indomitable spirit. She never gives up, even when right up against the ropes. She retains a sense of humour and a pragmatic approach. She details her experiences in an enjoyable, accessible, honest way, able to present her own foibles as well as her many strengths.

She recreates the beautiful scenery of Devon in wonderful detail, making us feel like we’re walking along the sandy beaches with her.

It’s challenging in that we accompany the author through a difficult time of her life but we learn to respect and admire her, and rejoice that so much that’s positive emerges.

 

Author Bio

Karen Wheeler is a former journalist and national newspaper fashion editor who has successfully published five comic travel memoirs about her life in France, starting with Tout Sweet: Hanging up my High Heels for a New Life in France, which made it to #1 in Amazon’s travel writing book chart.

She wrote for the Financial Times for over fifteen years and is a former fashion editor of the Mail on Sunday. She studied Modern History at Kings College, London University and worked briefly at Sotheby’s art auctioneers before embarking on a career in fashion journalism.

During her career she has interviewed many of fashion’s top names including Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein. Her work has also appeared frequently in Vogue Japan, You magazine, the Daily Mail and Sunday Times Style.

Originally hailing from the north of England, Karen is one of the many ex-pats now returning to the UK – as she points out the food is much better here. She has run holiday cottages, knows the Farrow and Ball colour chart inside out, never turns down a glass of pink champagne and lives near Budleigh Salterton in East Devon with her boyfriend and her dog Biff.

You can read more about her life at www.toutsweet.net – the blog she started while living in rural France; and follow her on Twitter at @mimipompom1

 

Devon and Hell will appeal to fans of Eleanor Oliphant, as well as the armchair renovators who enjoy watching Grand Designs, Homes by the? Sea and Amazing Spaces and to the large number of Brits who are moving to the coast or taking ‘staycations’ in the UK. Devon and Hell is set in Lympstone, an aspirational and newly fashionable area of Devon, which was recently shortlisted in Penelope Keith’s C4 series, Britain’s Best Villages: Village of the Year 2017 and recently saw ?the opening of Lympstone Manor, by Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines.

 

Devon and Hell: Four Seasons by the Sea will be released in e-book format on 28th October 2019, £9.99, by Sweet Pea Publishing. The print version will be published in October 2020.

Purchase Link


 

 

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Cover reveal: Sparky the Dragon Bus by Sue Wickstead

Sparky the Dragon Bus
Sparky isn’t your typical double-decker bus.
Behind the dragon and magical paintings, she’s full of fun and adventures for all children.
Jump aboard to find out what makes Sparky so special.

Purchase Link:

Here’s the cover!!!

 

Author bio –
I am an author and a teacher and have written six children’s picture books, all with a bus included somewhere.
Having been able to share my first book, ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’, it was time to think about writing a book for younger readers.
While visiting a local school the children were writing stories about a journey, we read Jay-Jay’s book and then I remembered a book that I had written some years before and I read this to the class too, and they loved it.
The original story was based on a walk with my class around the neighbourhood of Bewbush, Crawley. The walk had led to map work and sequencing. Then together with the class I wrote an imaginative adventure.
The events we imagined were put into a class book. The book was shared with many classes and it was always a favourite.
Now years later I decided it was time to update, improve and look at publishing the book.
There is indeed a walk around the district of Bewbush. and following the publication of the book I went back to see if and how the neighbourhood had changed.
‘Oh, I see you have written a book without a bus!’ commented a friend.
But, look through the pages and you will see there always has to be a bus!
The neighbourhood of Bewbush was a new estate built in Crawley town in the 1970’s. The area was built without any shops, school or safe places for children to play. It was an area of high need and was supported by a special playbus which offered a much-needed playgroup venue.
I also undertake events and author bookings and love to share my stories. There are also a few more stories in the writing process, with links to real events and buses.

Social Media Links –
Facebook: – Author Page https://www.facebook.com/storiesSue/
Facebook – Playbus page https://www.facebook.com/BewbushPlaybus/
Twitter https://twitter.com/JayJayBus
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jayjaybusbooks/
Website : www.suewickstead.co.uk

 

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Silent Money by G D Harper: clever, complex and engrossing

Silent Money

Glasgow, 1972. Michael Mitchell is ambitious, talented and determined to succeed. But he learns the hard way that he will never achieve his goals in life – unless he plays by a different set of rules.

He partners with a small-time crook to help the Glasgow underworld launder the proceeds of their crimes. As the operation grows, Michael is forced to become more and more ruthless to protect what he has built.

Shocked by who he has become, he vows to leave the criminal world behind and start a new life. But the past has a way of catching up. Finally, he gambles everything on one last desperate attempt to break free.

 

My review

This is a thoroughly absorbing novel. It’s enjoyable too, although it carries the message that it’s all too easy to be driven by circumstances, and against your own better judgement, down a certain path that turns out to be a one-way street.

Michael Mitchell has worked hard to get to his position of responsibility in the bank. He knows he’d make a brilliant manager, since he’s diligent and very knowledgeable, but he’s passed over not once but twice. The people who land the job rely on him but never give him the credit he deserves. Michael has had enough.

Michael is such a reasonable, decent guy that it’s all the more shocking and impelling that he turns to the ‘dark side’. He strikes up acquaintanceships with some shady characters, sure that he can drop them once he’s achieved his goal. However, that’s not going to be as easy as he expects and he finds himself pushed further into nefarious dealings. How far exactly will he go?

The financial world Michael inhabits is carefully created for us in great detail. The wheelings and dealings are clearly explained so even if the reader isn’t familiar with how banks operate we learn enough to make sense of this clever, complex story.

An excellent read.

 

Purchase Links

 

Author bio

I was placed third in the 2015 Lightship Prize for first-time authors, won a 2016 Wishing Shelf Award Red Ribbon, been shortlisted at the UK Festival of Writing for Best First Chapter, longlisted in the 2017 UK Novel Writing Competition.

In 2017, I was one of twelve authors selected for Authors in the Spotlight at the Bloody Scotland book festival in Stirling, showcasing who they considered to be the best emerging talent in crime fiction, and was the only self-published author to be chosen. I have spoken at numerous other book events, including Blackwells’ Writers at the Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a stand-alone slot at the Byres Road Book Festival in Glasgow, and the Aye Write! Book Festival, also in Glasgow.

I went to Glasgow University in 1975 and lived in the city’s West End, the time and place for the setting of the majority of Silent Money.

 

Social Media Links – www.gdharper.com

Facebook: @gdharperauthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/harper_author

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Charles and Ada by James Essinger

Charles and Ada: the computer’s most passionate partnership

The partnership of Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace was one that would change science forever.

 

They were an unlikely pair – one the professor son of a banker, the other the only child of an acclaimed poet and a social-reforming mathematician – but perhaps that is why their work is so revolutionary.

 

They were the pioneers of computer science, creating plans for what could have been the first computer. They each saw things the other did not; it may have been Charles who designed the machines, but it was Ada who could see their potential.

 

But what were they like? And how did they work together? Using previously unpublished correspondence between them , Charles and Ada explores the relationship between two remarkable people who shared dreams far ahead of their time.

 

My review

I’ve only recently discovered this talented author so it’s a real pleasure to review another of his books.

Most people have probably heard of Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace in relation to computing but perhaps don’t know about their collaboration. Both are fascinating, gifted people, and in Ada’s case definitely flamboyant, so writing about these two innovators is a huge undertaking. However, James Essinger is easily up to the task. He gives an engrossing insight into their lives, how their paths crossed, how their interests coincided, and how and why they formed such a ground-breaking partnership.

The author has done an immense amount of research which, coupled with his obvious admiration of and enthusiasm about Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, makes for a captivating read.

 

Purchase Links

Author bio

James Essinger was born in Leicester in 1957 and has lived in Canterbury in Kent since 1986. He was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys, Leicester, and at Lincoln College, Oxford, where he read English Language and Literature. He spent much of his time between 1981 and 1983 teaching English in Finland before working in public relations in London and then in Canterbury. Since 1988, James has been a professional writer.

His non-fiction books include Jacquard’s Web (2004), Ada’s Algorithm (2013), which is to be filmed by Monumental Pictures, and Charles and Ada: the computer’s most passionate partnership (2019) His novels include The Mating Game (2016) with Jovanka Houska, the film rights of which have been optioned, Rollercoaster (2019) and The Ada Lovelace Project (forthcoming in 2020).

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/james.essinger  

https://twitter.com/jamesessinger

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Notting Hill in the Snow by Jules Wake

Synopsis

It’s mayhem in Bethlehem…unless they can work together!

Viola Smith plays the viola in an orchestra (yes really!), but this year she’s been asked to stretch her musical talents to organising Notting Hill’s local nativity.
Nate Williams isn’t looking forward to Christmas but as his small daughter, Grace, has the starring role in the show, he’s forced to stop being a Grinch and volunteer with Viola.

With the sparks between them hotter than the chestnuts roasting in Portobello market, Nate and Viola can’t deny their feelings. And as the snow starts to fall over London, they find themselves trapped together in more ways than one…

 

My review

This is a festive romcom with a bit of a twist in that we have a married person as one of the main protagonists.

Musician Viola can’t say no to her family members and as a consequence runs herself ragged and never puts herself first. She’s starting to spread herself too thin and over-committing. Nathan is struggling to be a good dad to Grace whilst his wife is away and he’s working very hard. A school Nativity play brings them together and there’s instant attraction but both have other priorities and calls on them.

The atmosphere is very festive and charming. Rather than an impersonal big city, this area of London comes over as a warm community where people know each other and interact.

The Christmas element is all there with a Nativity play, Christmas trees, decorations, stockings and so on. It’ll make you want to start wrapping presents!

Enjoyable, poignant, a tiny bit edgy this is fabulous, festive novel.

 

Purchase Links

Author Bio –

Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands and not so luxury brands. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to hone her writing and creative skills penning copy on a vast range of subjects from pig farming and watches, sunglasses and skincare through to beer and stationery.

She writes best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for One More Chapter as Jules Wake and under her pen name Julie Caplin, she writes the Romantic Escapes series.

Between them, the two Js have written twelve novels, Notting Hill in the Snow being the latest.

Social Media Links –

@Juleswake

https://www.facebook.com/juleswake.co.uk/

Instagram: juleswakeauthor

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A Cosy Christmas in Cornwall by Jane Linfoot

Synopsis

Christmas in a Cornish castle? Sign Ivy Starforth up! Hired to kit out the holiday rental as the world’s most Instagramable festive dreamland, there’s only one thing standing in the way of her hefty paycheque – the lord of the manor.

Bill Markham could give Scrooge a run for his money but Ivy is firmly #TeamChristmas…even if her handsome host seems to be doing everything he can to sabotage her staging. Maybe she shouldn’t have stumbled in on him starkers in the hot tub?

As the temperature outside cools, things inside the castle heat up. It’s been a long time since Ivy allowed herself to give in to temptation…surely one little kiss under the mistletoe won’t hurt?

 

My review

 

This is a charming and enjoyable festive romcom peopled by larger than life, fascinating characters.

Our main character is Ivy, a lively young woman. She’s been through a bad patch but she’s gung-ho about the future and excited about ‘Instagramising’ a Cornish castle.

To counterpoint her is Bill, who is distinctly lacking in the Christmas spirit and seems intent on thwarting Ivy’s ambitious plans.

There’s a lot of drama going on around Ivy and Bill, but they stay centre-stage. With love and support from family, and taking time to truly value themselves and each other, there’s a lot of healing going on which is rewarding and adds richness to this uplifting novel.

The book moves at a steady pace, with some momentum building up and an increasingly festive atmosphere. Lovely Christmas reading.

 

Purchase Links

 

Author Bio – Jane Linfoot is a best selling author, who lives in a cottage on a Derbyshire hillside with her family and their pets. Although she loves seeing cow noses over the garden wall, she’s happy she can walk to a supermarket.

Jane grew up in North Yorkshire where she spent a lot of her childhood avoiding horizontal gales blowing off the sea and wrote her first book by accident. While she loves to write feel good books that let readers escape, she’s always surprised to hear her stories make people laugh, admits to (occasionally) crying as she writes, and credits her characters for creating their own story lines.

Jane’s garden would be less brambly if she wasn’t on Facebook and Twitter so often. On days when she wants to be really scared, she rides a tandem.

Her recent stand alone novels are all set in and around the (imaginary) seaside village of St Aidan in Cornwall. They are: Ivy’s Cornish Christmas, Edie’s Browne’s Cottage by the Sea, The Little Cornish Kitchen. Her four book Little Wedding Shop series are standalone stories, also set in St Aidan. They are: The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea, Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop, Summer at the Little Wedding Shop and Christmas Promises at the Little Wedding Shop. They are all published by the Harper Impulse and One More Chapter imprints of Harper Collins.

 

Follow Jane on Twitter @janelinfoot, or find her on her Author Page Facebook or her

Personal Page Facebook. She’s also on Instagram, and has lots of Pinterest boards relating to her novels.

 

Giveaway to Win a signed Jane Linfoot Book and some chocolate (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494290/

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Anything for Love by Gracie Bond: fun, frantic and touching

Synopsis

Leah Jensen, Yorkshire lass born and bred, needs money and she’ll do anything – yes, anything – to get it. Her Grandad Thomas is in pain and the cost of an operation on his bad knee is way beyond the family’s means. Leah tries everything to earn the fee – but in the end, and like so many before her, she turns to the world’s oldest profession.
Madam Butterfly’s exclusive escort agency in London is a different world to where Leah comes from. In Whitby, the sea air is sweet, and legends of Dracula jostle with jet-mining and whaling history; it’s a place where dog lovers meet and tourists come to marvel at the views.
Leah may be out of her comfort zone, but one daring, brief encounter will bring many surprises in this memorable romantic comedy full of pithy Yorkshire humour.

 

My review

This is a slightly madcap but touching novel! It’s packed full of energy and larger than life, exuberant characters.

Front of stage are Leah and her camp cousin Joey, who are devoted to each other and their grandfather. They need to raise money, and fast, to pay for his operation as the NHS waiting list is far too long. They try a few crazy and increasingly unlikely things, from dog walking to wing walking, before Leah turns to the oldest profession as a way to make money.

Wealthy, rather-full-of-himself Dan is the man of the hour. His encounter with Leah has unforeseen consequences, due to some sneaky skulduggery. And has our fair-haired, energetic heroine has the willpower and determination to cope with the unexpected…

It’s a fast-paced novel, with lots of humour and twists and turns. However, it touches on gritty issues – the failure of the NHS to look after vulnerable people properly, prostitution – but these are skilfully dealt with so that they don’t jar in this comic novel.

Fun and frantic, and definitely worth a read.

Purchase Link:

 

Gracie Bond loves a good romantic comedy, either to read or to watch on Netflix. Her favourite go-to novel is (Pride and Prejudice)- and she’s always happy to watch (Bridget Jonesany time of the dayAmong Gracie’s interests are Newfoundland dogs, horses, and handsome Yorkshire men. Her idea of fun would be to ride a spirited horse along a Northumberland beach, followed by a pack of her favourite dogs.

Gracie lives in Yorkshire with her partner John and she has close connections with Whitby, the setting for this novel.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/graciebondauthor/

https://twitter.com/gracie_author

https://www.instagram.com/graciebondauthor22/

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Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage by Katie Ginger: delightful and delicious!

Synopsis

On a grey, London day, Esme’s world crumbles around her when she loses her glitzy job on a top TV programme, her gorgeous, city-slicker boyfriend and her stunning apartment, all in one fell swoop just before Christmas.

Esme is forced suddenly to move back to her sleepy hometown of Sandchester, and despite the snow blanketing the roof and the fairy lights that twinkle in her rustic little cottage, everything is looking bleak. That is until she reconnects with an old crush and finds herself unexpectedly getting swept away.

But Joe, handsome and charming as he is, is not all he seems. Esme soon realises that he has a tragic past which he just might not be able to overcome…

Surrounded by her loving, if harebrained, family and with the support of her hilarious friends, Esme is determined to have a go at forging her own path, even if it all comes to nothing. But one question still lingers in her mind: will she find someone to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

 

My review

This is a warm, joyful, uplifting Christmas novel. If the season of goodwill isn’t the right time for second chances, family happiness and generally recovering from the slings and arrows of everyday life, then I don’t know what is! Oh, and baking!

Our heroine, Esme, is down on her luck but not deterred. A spell at home is what she needs to get herself back together again. Her loving, supportive family are a complete tonic. Esme son embarks on a new venture, and then bumps into Joe. Will they, won’t they? Neither feel inclined to rush into things so we all have to be patient to see how it will turn out.

I just love the atmosphere of the novel. It’s so comforting and festive. I can almost smell the delicious scents wafting from the oven. There’s humour, joyousness, some tension and setbacks, and the precise ending we’d wish for.

If you’re looking for a delightful and delicious Christmas read, look no further!

 

Purchase Links

 

About the author 

KATIE GINGER lives in the South East of England, by the sea, and apart from holidays to very hot places where you can sit by a pool and drink cocktails as big your head, she wouldn’t really want to be anywhere else. Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage is her third novel. She is also author of the Seafront series – The Little Theatre on the Seafront, shortlisted for the Katie Fforde Debut Novel of the Year award, and Summer Season on the Seafront.

When she’s not writing, Katie spends her time drinking gin, or with her husband, trying to keep alive her two children: Ellie, who believes everything in life should be performed like a musical number from a West End show; and Sam, who is basically a monkey with a boy’s face. And there’s also their adorable King Charles Spaniel, Wotsit (yes, he is named after the crisps!).

For more about Katie you can visit her website: www.keginger.com, find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/KatieGAuthor, or follow her on Twitter: @KatieGAuthor.

 

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Sacrificing Starlight by David Pipe: a dark, thrilling novel

Sacrificing Starlight

Time’s running out for DCI Hunter. His wife and child are missing, perhaps even dead. Unable to pursue those responsible he’s transferred to the wild landscape of Cornwall where another child has disappeared.

Alice Trevelyan’s father has his own agenda and wants retribution for the loss of his little girl and metes out his own violent justice.

Will Trevelyan help or hinder?

Hunter has to make his move if he wants to save Starlight.

But can anyone in this remote location be trusted?

 

My review

First up, I must apologise to the author for running late with this review. I’d marked down the wrong date in my diary for who knows what reason.

This is a challenging, disturbing novel dealing with the tough issue of child abuse. There’s graphic violence so this is very much a dark thriller, quite horrific at some points. But it certainly makes you sit up and take notice.

We have a good pair of lead characters in DCI Hunter and Iraqi war veteran Trevelyan They’re opposites in many ways, namely personality and their approaches to solving these heinous crimes, but united in their desire to put an end to an organised paedophile ring.

The action moves at a brisk pace and the plot is well thought-out. We are given different points of view on the action. The author keeps us guessing as to who the perpetrators are all the way to the exciting conclusion.

Bleak but realistic, this is a novel for anyone who enjoys a read that will shake them up and give them plenty to think about.

David Pipe is a talented and versatile writer.

 

Purchase Link

Author Bio –

David Pipe was born in 1949 in a small Essex village. He attended a local grammar school then the University of Hull where he took a B.Sc in chemistry. He worked in the pharmaceutical industry in England and South Africa before studying for a PhD in organic chemistry at Imperial College. After spells at universities in Geneva and Mulhouse he joined the oil industry in Germany where, aged 53, he gratefully took a redundancy package. Following a period of self-employment he wound down his business, eventually giving it up to scratch the writing itch which has produced Sacrificing Starlight, a timely reminder of the risks our children face and Henry’s Tale, where ghostwriting for his furry friend he describes the emotional growth of a puppy on the rollercoaster of life, compressed into a few weeks because puppies learn faster than their staff.

 

When he’s not writing David spends his time travelling, reading, swimming and jogging. He is married and lives in Hamburg with his wife and their Border terrier Henry.

 

Social Media Links –

Twitter @dfpwriter

FB https://www.facebook.com/DavidPipeBooks/