I’m delighted to be hosting ‘Duck Egg Blues’ today here at Books Are Cool!

Synopsis

Duck Egg Blues is funny, sad, mysterious and thrilling. “A robot butler detective, what’s not to love?”

‘A clever and ambitious story’

This perfect slice of ‘cozy crime’ is narrated in the voice of a pre-war English butler and concerns a rich and powerful businesswoman whose daughter goes missing from their country house estate. That the story- teller is a robot belonging to an impoverished detective brings a fresh and original take on ‘cozy’, and as for ‘crime’… well, it does begin to escalate, what with MI6, criminal gangs, corrupt police, and that’s not to mention international cybercrime!

As the plot strands weave together, we discover that behind one mystery lurks a greater threat. No one is safe, not even PArdew…

This is without doubt the robot-butler-detective thriller you have been waiting for!

Martin Ungless is a WCN Escalator Prize winning author who has twice been shortlisted by the Crime Writers’ Association for their Debut Dagger Award.

My review

It’s always great to discover a novel that’s definitely different, and the quirky Duck Egg Blues fits that bill. Cozy with robots, an unusual but excellent combination.

PArdew, the robot butler, is a wonderful character. His aim is to serve, and if he can make his master happy whilst doing so then all the better, but he’ll settle for doing what he’s told. His very logical, uncritical take on life and programmed acceptance that humans know best, even when they so patently obviously don’t, makes for lots of humour. I’m really not sure Don, his dour master, deserves him! However, Don does lighten up a bit as the story progresses, and his kinder side emerges.

Don is a private investigator. He’s looking into car thefts as the story opens. Not the most exciting thing, you might think, but it’s amazing how, with input from Pardew, Don soon finds himself caught up in a thrilling mystery that goes very deep. Things get progressively more complex, and Don and PArdew find themselves up against some rather intimidating adversaries. There’s mystery, tension, excitement and, whenever we need it most, comic relief in this fast-paced, clever story.

The whole novel is as charming and idiosyncratic as its main character. You don’t have to be either a hard-boiled mystery and thriller lover, or a sci-fi aficionado to enjoy this book. If you like being entertained and made to chuckle every now and again, then this is absolutely for you.

Purchase Link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Duck-Egg-Blues-PArdew-Book-ebook/dp/B071226XSW

For the duration of this blog tour, Duck Egg Blues will be on a Kindle Countdown Deal, so if you are tempted, purchase before the price rises

Author Bio – Following this year’s success, Martin Ungless had now been shortlisted three times by the Crime Writers’ Association for their Debut Dagger. He has won a WCN Escalator Award, and been successful in a number short-story competitions. Martin started life as an architect though now lives in the Norfolk countryside and writes full time. Martin is currently studying for the prestigious MA in Fiction (Crime) at UEA.

Social Media Links – https://twitter.com/UnglessM

An exciting cover reveal for you today at Books Are Cool!

Suddenly single and unexpectedly poor, it’s definitely safe to say that Alexis Harland is not living the life of her dreams.

Although she’s determined that nothing, not one little thing, will stop her return from poverty. Well, almost nothing. Her pride might get in the way a little. And possibly her family. And maybe the fact that she hasn’t got a clue where to start.

Many years ago, Alexis was swept away from life on a caravan park and introduced to a world of riches and glamour. All thanks to a wealthy man who married her, reinvented her… and then dumped her for a younger model at the first sign of cellulite.

Now Alexis is stranded, struggling to keep her head above water and her history a secret from her highbrow friends.

As if that isn’t enough for a woman to deal with, one night she comes home to find a sexy man has landed, quite literally, on her doorstep. A man hell-bent on testing everything Alexis thinks she knows about true happiness.

Caught between the life she knows and her blossoming love, can Alexis afford to let go of her unwavering pride, kiss her social status goodbye and accept that stepping back to square one is sometimes a huge leap forward?

Publication Date 30th August

Want to know when Dating Down is available for pre-order / purchase? https://www.subscribepage.com/DatingDown

Author Bio –

Diane Louise is a dairy farmer’s wife from the UK who doesn’t know a Holstein from a Hereford.

But what she does know is how to write a funny story. Three years ago she tried to write steamy romance and sucked at it. Honestly, her stiff upper lip made her heroes more wet blankets than wet dreams. With a steely determination to avoid milking the cows, she turned her hand to Romantic Comedy and a star was born. Well, in her mind at least.

Fancy getting to know the woman behind the words?

She hangs around Facebook daily, desperately avoiding housework, and loves nothing more than chatting to fellow lovers of Romantic Comedy over at Di’s Romantic Comedy Club. Or, if you don’t do Facebook, that’s cool, because she also sends a monthly email to her readers, making sure they never miss a new release and sharing behind the scene info about her books. You can join The Monthly Club here.

Social Media Links –

Facebook Group – Di’s Romantic Comedy Club – https://www.facebook.com/groups/954521864707822/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16873120.Diane_Louise

Mailerlite Newsletter Sign Up – https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/r9i1b8

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/DianeLouise12

Synopsis

When a ghost ship is spotted on the horizon one spring evening, bookseller Eleanor Mace decides to investigate the myths and legends of Combemouth, the seaside town where she runs The Reading Room. As Eleanor digs deeper into the town’s history, she becomes intrigued by a Victorian crime report and is determined to find out what happened to a boy at the centre the case – one with intriguing links to the present.

As Eleanor begins to uncover the truth – aided by the vicar but somewhat stalled by the local librarian – she has an unexpected challenge on her own horizon. Daniel – her husband of six months – is determined that they give up their separate homes and find a new place together. But Eleanor adores her cottage by the sea and resists, guaranteeing that things turn a little frosty as the summer begins.

A celebrity book launch, an exploding dress and some salsa-dancing pensioners make this a mystery with a difference.

 

My Review

This book is the third in ‘The Bookshop by the Sea’ series, but you don’t need to read the earlier books to enjoy it. We are succinctly introduced to the characters and given enough background to be quickly able to work out who’s who and how everyone is connected.

Legends are rife about ghost ships (sometimes called phantom ships) – mysterious empty ships, either real or imagined, that sail the seas with no-one on board. The Flying Dutchman and the Princess Augusta are famous mythical examples and everyone’s heard of the Mary Celeste. So it’s an evocative image to use at the beginning of this book. The spotting of the Santa Ana leads Eleanor Mace, our heroine, into a spot of investigating that ends up with her researching a Victorian crime.

The novel is as much about Eleanor herself as her investigations – her role in the town, her relationships, especially with new husband Daniel and her family, and her development as a character. She’s likeable, funny, resolute and altogether a fascinating person to know. I particularly admire how good she is with her sometimes grumpy husband as they deal with the thorny issue of where to live.

There’s a cast of interesting secondary but distinctive characters to meet, all of whom have their important role in the novel. No stereotypes or shadowy figures here, they’re all rounded and memorable.

The writing is crisp yet flowing, and you’re swept along by the story, just like our ghost ship is swept along by the wind and the sea. You might just intend to read a chapter or two but it’s hard to put this excellent book down. As is typical of the cosy mystery, there may not be any major showdowns or violent confrontations, but there’s gentle tension building up and a denouement that surprises. It’s a delightful read that won’t give you nightmares, thank goodness!, but will give you plenty to think about and make you want to read more books by this author.

 

Details

Title: The Bookshop Detective (The Bookshop by the Sea series)

Publisher: Waverley Books

Publication Date: May 2017

Formats: Kindle and Paperback

ISBN: 978-1849344456

Genre: Contemporary women’s fiction/humour/mystery

Page Count: 256

Buy Links: Kindle – https://amzn.to/2KLTNqO

Paperback – https://amzn.to/2KwD7Ew

 

About the author

Jan Ellis began writing fiction by accident in 2013. Until then, she had led a blameless life as a publisher, editor and historian of early modern Spain. She fell into fiction when a digital publisher approached her to write a history book, then made the mistake of mentioning women’s fiction, which sounded much more fun.

In 2017, her four e-novellas were published in paperback by Waverley Books who also commissioned a brand-new title, The Bookshop Detective.

Jan describes her books as romcom/mystery with the emphasis firmly on family, friendship and humour. She specialises in small-town settings, with realistic characters who range in age from young teens to 80-somethings.

As well as being an author, Jan continues to work at the heart of the book trade. Jan Ellis is a nom-de-plume.

 

Other Details From The Author:

 

Website: www.janelliswriter.com

See also Stellar Scribes website: https://stellarscribes5.wixsite.com/stellarscribes

Facebook: Jan Ellis (Writer)

Instagram (even if I don’t know how it works…)

https://www.instagram.com/jan_ellis_writer/

 

Events:

I chaired a ‘romcom’ panel at WestonLitFest this spring (and have been invited back for 2019) and have also spoken at Tiverton Literary Festival. Thanks to The Bookshop Detective, I was part of a crime and mystery evening at The Big Green Bookshop in North London with best-selling authors Lisa Cutts, Simon Booker and William Shaw. In October 2018, I will again be talking about the book at the Yeovil Literary Festival.

I’m a member of ‘Stellar Scribes‘ and together we speak at libraries and run creative writing workshops. I’ve also appeared in the local press and spoken on the radio about my books which, at their core, are about family, friendship and the humour inherent in everyday life.

My paperbacks are widely available from libraries, and Waterstones currently stock them in five of their South West branches. I’ve also been lucky enough to earn shelf space on the shelves of independent bookshops across the country.

When I’m not being Jan Ellis, I do sales and marketing for part of the Booksellers Association of the UK and Ireland (BA) and I’m a non-fiction publisher by trade, which means that I’ve been attending the London and Frankfurt Book Fairs for more years than I care to remember…

Other paperback titles:

An Unexpected Affair and A Summer of Surprises (no. 1 in The Bookshop by the Sea series)

French Kisses and A London Affair

 

Contact: [email protected]

 

Books are Cool is joining the promo blitz for an exciting forthcoming novel by Florence Keeling – Reflected Destinies.

Laura is happy and content, she has a new boyfriend and loves her job teaching primary school pupils in London. But when she inherits a rundown house from a stranger on her 30th birthday, memories of her prom night come flooding back, memories of a scary encounter and an antique mirror in the very same house.

Laura visits the house with all its secrets and as she unravels the clues she reveals the biggest secret of all: her own destiny. But how can you change the future if it’s already written in the past?

Purchase Link – http://mybook.to/reflecteddestinies

About Florence Keeling

Florence Keeling adopted for her pen-name her great-grandmother’s name, chosen because of the shared birthday of April Fool’s Day. She is married with two teenage chidren. Born and raised in Coventry, England she now lives just outside in Nuneaton. Reflected Destinies is her first novel.

Florence Keeling also writes for children under the name of Lily Mae Walters.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/florence.keeling.7
Twitter – https://twitter.com/KeelingFlorence
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/florence.keeling/

 

Hooray – a giveaway!

1st Prize – Signed copy of Reflected Destinies (UK Only)
2nd Prize – E-copy of Reflected Destinies (International)
*Terms and Conditions –You are only eligible to win the signed copy if you are in the UK. 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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494116/?

I’m delighted to be taking part in the book tour for this truly fascinating novel.

The Second Footman of the title is a man of many names, but Max is the one he settles on for himself. In his footman role he is Jean, the name of his predecessor. It won’t do for his mistress, the Duchess de Claireville, to have to learn a new name.

Max is nineteen. He has a somewhat mysterious past that we gradually learn more about as the story proceeds. We quickly learn that he’s ambitious and has a plan to further and improve himself up his sleeve. This book, the first in a trilogy, sets the scene for his future machinations which will involve Armand de Miremont.

The setting is nineteenth-century France and the author evokes this superbly. If we thought life then was all elegance then we’re soon disabused. The wealthy citizens might appear to be lucky with their big houses and indulgent lifestyles, but there are many constraints,  social, moral and religious. Servants live in squalor, with sweat-stiffened uniforms and stuffed into tiny, shared, stifling rooms.  Our eyes are really opened to such details.

The language and style of writing sets this book firmly in its time too. You can easily believe you’re reading something by an author of the period that the book is set in. Aptly, the book is quite slow-moving but never becomes bogged down. The author gives back story and detailed character portrayals where appropriate alongside the action. So occasionally it’s two steps forward, one step back but we need to cover our bases so that this book and the rest of the trilogy can be firmly established.

Despite the rigid class structure and outward appearances, it is still possible although not easy to indulge passions. Same-sex love has to be expressed in private.

This is a story of dark secrets, opportunism, selfishness but also self-truth and slightly menacing romance. It’s captivating.

Synopsis

Nineteen year-old Max is the duchesse de Claireville’s second footman, but he does not intend to endure the indignities of service for long. He has a plan-to find an aristocratic patron who will become his unwitting accomplice in an audacious fraud. It is true that in 1880s’ France, despite nearly a century of revolution and social turmoil, the aristocracy is still firmly entrenched in privilege, and the gulf between the salon and the servants’ hall is as wide as ever. But Max is handsome, quick to learn and confident of his abilities as a seducer of both men and women. Whether ladling soup into noble plates beneath crystal chandeliers, or reading biographies of the great generals in his squalid footman’s dormitory, he is planning his strategy. He, Max, is the man of the future – ruthless, above morality and sentimental attachments. Yet, when, after a couple of false starts, he at last acquires his patron, he finds himself ambushed by instinctive longings-for friendship, for affection-that threaten his grand plan. ‘Be true to yourself…’ the saying goes. But to which self? And what is ‘truth’?

 

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2J2ry2e

Author Bio 

Jasper Barry graduated from Cambridge with a degree in English and has worked in

advertising, then in journalism. Jasper lives in London with too many books and three

obstreperous cats.

Social Media Links –

http://jasperbarry.co.uk

https://twitter.com/jasperbarry2?lang=en

https://www.facebook.com/jasper.barry.1

The Hattie Hastings trilogy is a heart-warming delight to read. Part three brings this lovely story to an end.
Hattie’s husband Gary has died, but he’s not ready to leave her just yet and so haunts her, in a friendly comforting way, during these three short novellas.
In the last of these, Gary needs Hattie to perform a very difficult duty. She’s not sure she can possibly succeed but, supported by her close friends, she undertakes to do her very best.
Hattie is a charming character, likeable and strong, and her friends and family are equally pleasant to know, despite their flaws and foibles. Those are what them all so very believable in a story that calls for the suspense of disbelief when it comes to the plot.
Expect to be whisked along on an emotional roller-coaster ride by the author in this fresh and original trilogy. Great fun.

 

Synopsis

Nothing lasts foreverGary’s time on earth seems to be coming to an end. His visits are less frequent and his visibility is fading fast. But he still has a mission to accomplish, which involves Hattie and her ability to pass on a heart-rending message.

Best friend Cat’s ex-husband is determined to prove that he deserves another chance, but do leopards really change their spots?

Times are tough for Hattie’s mother Rachel, but where there’s life, there’s hope …

Meanwhile, is there someone already in Hattie’s life who can help her move on when it’s finally time to say goodbye?

Get your tissues at the ready – both for laughter and tears – with the final instalment of a trilogy that has been hailed ‘brilliant’, ‘hilarious’, and ‘a great feel-good read’.

 

Purchase from Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Haunting-Hattie-Hastings-Part-Three-ebook/dp/B07DT2P5Q3

 

About Audrey Davis

Audrey Davis survived secondary school on the West coast of Scotland. Rubbish at science but not too bad at English, she originally wanted to be an actress but was persuaded that journalism was a safer option. Probably wise. She studied at Napier College in Edinburgh, the only place in Scotland at that time to offer a journalism course.

Her first foray into the hard-nosed newspaper world was as a junior reporter in Dumfriesshire. Duties included interviewing farmers about the prize-winning heifers to reporting on family tragedies. She persuaded her editor to let her launch an entertainment column which meant meeting the odd celebrity – or just the downright odd. From there, she moved to the loftier rank of senior reporter back in her home patch. Slightly more money, fewer farm animals but a higher crime rate. As Taggart would say: ‘There’s been a murrrrder!’

After a stint in London on a video magazine – yes, she is that old – Audrey moved to Singapore with her fiancé. She tried valiantly to embrace the stinking heat, humidity and lack of jobs, although she did work briefly on a magazine which was banned by the government for ‘artistic’ use of naked men’s bottoms.

Next on her adventures was a land Down Under where her main focus was raising Cost Centre One (aka firstborn) and coming to terms with the imminent arrival of Number Two. Still, she loved the Aussie way of life – BBQs, beaches and bring your own booze to restaurants – so it came as a blow when OH announced a move back to the UK. Not a job between them, the climate a possible deal breaker and an Exorcist-style vomiting infant on the flight home didn’t bode well …

Always a survivor, Audrey sought out similar-minded friends (i.e. slightly bonkers), got the children into a good school and thought about taking up writing again. Sadly, thinking about it was as far as she got, unless you count shopping lists. Then, hubby drops another bombshell. Switzerland. As in – it’s packing time again. Off to the land of cheese, chocolate, scarily efficient trains and a couple of teeny, tiny issues. Like driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road and speaking a foreign language (French). The former was conquered fairly quickly (we’ll skip over the wall demolition in week two), the latter remains an ongoing battle of the hopeful against the hopeless. At least she provides amusement for the local workforce.
It wasn’t until 2016 that Audrey rediscovered her writing mojo with an online Writing Fiction course. From there, her first novel – A Clean Sweep – was born, although it took a bit longer than nine months from conception. A short, darker prequel – A Clean Break – followed, and in November 2017 she published the first in a novella trilogy, The Haunting of Hattie Hastings Part One. Part Two is published on 21 March 2018, with the conclusion following in July. After which she might have a wee lie down …

 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/audreydavisbooks

Twitter- https://twitter.com/audbyname

 

Synopsis

A shocking death turns a homecoming into a nightmare. 

It’s Easter 1970 in the seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, and for one family the first Easter of a new decade brings a shocking tragedy. Amateur sleuth and professional librarian, Janie Juke, is settling into motherhood and looking forward to spending time with her family. When her Aunt Jessica is due back from Rome after nine years travelling around Europe, she arrives back in town with a new Italian friend, Luigi, and the whole family soon get embroiled in a tangle of mystery and suspicion, with death and passion at the heart of the story.

As time runs out on Luigi as prime suspect for murder, Janie has to use all of her powers of deduction in the footsteps of her hero, Hercule Poirot, to uncover the facts. Why did Luigi come to Tamarisk Bay? What is the truth about his family?
As Luigi’s story unfolds, tragedy seems to haunt the past, present and unless Janie acts fast, possibly what is yet to come.

 

My review
The main action of this story is set in Tamarisk Bay, after the theft of a briefcase on a train which is what sets events in motion. The book opens with a little map of the small town to give us an idea of where everything is. That’s a nice touch.
As mentioned, the story begins with a theft. The suitcase belongs to Luigi, who is the friend of Janie’s Aunt Jessica and that is how our librarian and new mother heroine Janie becomes involved. This apparently random crime turns out to be anything but, and brings some dark, passionate secrets to the fore.
The 1960s setting is evocatively created, and brings back memories for those of us who remember that period! The travelling in trains and ferries at the start of the book are both so well described you can feel the tray swaying and the boat heaving on the rough sea. This trait of beautiful, vivid descriptions remains throughout. It’s enhanced by the fact that Janie’s father is blind, so she always gives him very detailed accounts of things he can no longer see, and this really lifts the images from the page.
The book is filled with engaging, interesting characters, all distinct and convincing. Family relationships are central to the story, both close and happy ones, and difficult, strained ones.
The author has a down-to-earth style that is very approachable and flowing. You quickly find yourself immersed in the writing and whisked along by events. The story is complex rather than complicated, with interesting twists and turns and it keeps us on our toes. There’s a strong Italian flavour to it, which adds to the richness.
It’s an enjoyable and absorbing read.

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Case-heartbreaking-tragedy-cold-blooded-ebook/dp/B07D5BLMG6/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invisible-Case-heartbreaking-tragedy-cold-blooded-ebook/dp/B07D5BLMG6/

Author Bio –

Isabella Muir is the author of Janie Juke series of crime mysteries – all set in Sussex.

‘The Tapestry Bag’ is the first in the series, followed by ‘Lost Property’. Now – ‘The Invisible Case’ – the latest in the series is available for pre-order from Amazon.

The ‘Janie Juke mysteries’ are set in Sussex in the sixties and seventies and feature a young librarian with a passion for Agatha Christie. All that Janie has learned from her hero, Hercule Poirot, she is able to put into action as she sets off to solve a series of crimes and mysteries.

Isabella has also published ‘Ivory Vellum’ – a collection of short stories.

She has been surrounded by books her whole life and – after working for twenty years as a technical editor and having successfully completed her MA in Professional Writing – she was inspired to focus on fiction writing.

Aside from books, Isabella has a love of all things caravan-like. She has spent many winters caravanning in Europe and now, together with her husband, she runs a small caravan site in Sussex. They are ably assisted by their much-loved Scottie, Hamish.

Social Media Links –

TWITTER  @SussexMysteries

FACEBOOK  https://www.facebook.com/isabel.muir.96

WEBSITE: www.isabellamuir.com

Giveaway – Win a signed copy of The Invisible Case (Open Internationally)

*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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

My review

It’s hard to classify this lively novel – it’s detective story, with steampunk, supernatural and fantasy elements. Quite unique and definitely admirable. I’m a firm believer that any book that can’t be pigeonholed neatly is definitely worth a read.

And this one is. It’s extremely entertaining.

The novel has a Victorian setting and the language and characters and their situations are entirely apt for this. Barnabas Tew, a Sherlock Holmes wannabe with sidekick Wilfred, isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. He tends to solve the crimes after he’s lost his clients – either because they’ve given up on him or been killed by the stalkers he was hired to find! However, nothing daunted he tackles his next undertaking with zeal, and some surprise. A trip to view the new Egyptian treasures display at the British Museum leads neatly into this particular adventure. His new client is none other than Anubis, the Egyptian god, and since the sun god (the scarab beetle of the title) has gone missing, the fate of humankind is at stake if BT can’t solve the mystery so that the sun can continue to be rolled across the sky. Could this be the case that will rocket Barnabas Tew to fame and give him an equal ranking with his hero? Or will he fail miserably, as seems to be the pattern of his sleuthing attempts?

The book is a breathless and romp through the underworld, and immense good fun. There’s lots of wit and wryness, imaginative action and comedy. There’s great chemistry between Barnabas and the unflappable, sensible Wilfred who does his best to keep his boss safe. Both take dealing with Egyptian mythological figures and all that entails firmly in their stride with Britishly stiff upper lips and get on with the unlikely task at hand.  

If you enjoy novels that are quirky and escapist, then this is one for you. I loved it and will be following Barnabas’s future adventures with keen interest. You have to wonder what he can possibly do for an encore…

Synopsis

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab
Barnabas Tew, a detective in Victorian London, is having a hard time making a name for himself, probably because most of his clients end up dead before he can solve their cases. His luck is about to change, though, for better or worse: Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead, notices him and calls him to the Egyptian underworld. A terrible kidnapping has occurred; one that promises to put an end to the status quo and could perhaps even put an end to the entire world. It is up to Barnabas (along with his trusty assistant, Wilfred) to discover the culprit and set things to right. Can he turn his luck around and solve the most important case of his life?
Purchase Link – mybook.to/Barnabas

Author Bio

Columbkill Noonan lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where she teaches yoga and Anatomy and Physiology. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines. Her first novel, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” by Crooked Cat Books, was released in 2017, and her latest work, “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Nine Worlds”, is set to be released in September 2018.
In her spare time, Columbkill enjoys hiking, paddle boarding, aerial yoga, and riding her rescue horse, Mittens. To learn more about Columbkill please feel free to visit her website (www.columbkill.weebly.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ColumbkillNoonan) or on Twitter (@ColumbkillNoon1).
Social Media Links – Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ColumbkillNoonan/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/columbkillnoon1?lang=en

My review

‘A Plague on Mr Pepys’ is a fascinating work of historical fiction. It’s based firmly on fact, but the author has used her imagination to bring real people from the past to vibrant life.

Our heroine is Bess Bagwell, a very determined and likeable woman. She’s the driving force in the household. Husband Will is a very talented carpenter but lacks ambition. His stern father destroyed his self-confidence when he was young. Will is also hampered by his cousin Jack Sutherland, a rogue who doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of anyone or any situation. He’s a millstone around the Bagwells’ necks.

Bess just wants to better herself and her situation, since, as she observes, there are only masters and servants in this world and she’s not going to be the latter, and this desire brings her into dramatic contact with Mr Pepys. The latter remains something of an enigmatic figure and secondary character in the book although he plays a crucial role. However, for various reasons, of which kindness is prominent, the Bagwells keep finding themselves in financial difficulties. This leads to Bess earning money in a decidedly controversial manner.

The plague has been bubbling in the background during the early action of the book, and then it comes destructively to the forefront throwing society into turmoil. Few households escape of it, the Bagwells’ included. This part of the story hammers home the horror this disease represented at that thime, and brings to life for us, or rather death, both its devastating impact and the helplessness of people when faced with it.

I must give a quick mention to Bess’s mother, Agatha. She’s made a mess of things in the past, falling prey to the evils of drink and Bess holds many grudges. However, Agatha is a changed person and family ties are strong, against all odds. She plays an important role in the story, and the difficult relationship between mother and daughter is both heartwrenching and warming.

The book is a delight to read. The author grabs our attention from the very start and keeps us riveted. She has clearly done much detailed research, and this all adds to the authenticity of the story. We learn what a farthing would buy, what people wore, how guilds were organised and so on, and this is all really interesting. There’s no info-dumping, these little snippets of information are dropped in when necessary and make the writing all the richer.

Definitely one to add to your shelves or Kindle. It’s the second in a series, but works perfectly well as a standalone. A wonderful read.

 

Details and synopsis

Series: Women of Pepys Diary Series #2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: July 5th 2018
Publisher: Accent Press
The second novel in the series based on the different women in Samuel Pepys’s famous diary.

Sometimes the pursuit of money costs too much…

Ambitious Bess Bagwell is determined that her carpenter husband, Will, should make a name for himself in the Navy shipyards. To further his career, she schemes for him to meet Samuel Pepys, diarist, friend of the King and an important man in the Navy.

But Pepys has his own motive for cultivating the attractive Bess, and it’s certainly not to benefit her husband. Bess soon finds she is caught in a trap of her own making.

As the summer heat rises, the Great Plague has London in its grip. Red crosses mark the doors, wealthy citizens flee and only the poor remain to face the march of death.
With pestilence rife in the city, all trade ceases.

With no work as a carpenter, Will is forced to invest in his unscrupulous cousin Jack’s dubious ‘cure’ for the pestilence which horrifies Bess and leaves them deeper in debt.
Now they are desperate for money and the dreaded disease is moving ever closer. Will Mr Pepys honour his promises or break them? And will they be able to heal the divide that threatens to tear their marriage apart?

EXTRACT
London, March 1663
‘Here’s the address,’ Bess said, pressing the paper down on the table in front of her husband. She patted him on the shoulder, which released a puff of dust. Will was a fine figure of a man – tall and blond, with arms muscled from lifting timber, and the fine-boned hands of a craftsman, but his clothes were always full of sawdust and wood-shavings.
He turned and smiled, with an expression that said he was ready to humour her.
‘It’s on the other side of the Thames, close to one of the shipyards. Big houses all round. A nice neighbourhood. Quiet.’
‘Where?’ Will asked, standing to pick up the paper, and stooping from habit because their attic room was so low.
‘Deptford.’ She held her breath.
‘Deptford?’ he said, throwing it back down. ‘We’re not living in Deptford.’
‘Oh, Will, it has to stop sometime. He won’t even know we’re there.’
‘You don’t know my father, he gets to know everyone’s business.’
‘That’s no reason. That terrible brimstone preacher lives just round the corner, and we manage well enough to avoid him.’
‘Ho, ho.’
‘We need never see your father. The Deptford yard is enormous. More than a mile end to end. Just think, you could work there fitting out ships, and you’d never set eyes on him.’ She tugged at his sleeve. ‘The workshop’s so fine – you should see the workbench. More than eight foot long, and it runs right under the window. You can nearly see the whole shipyard from there.’ She paused; she knew his weak spot well. ‘And the house will be perfect for your new commission. You won’t have to hire a work place again.’
‘It’s more than we can afford, love, to buy a house.’
‘You’ll get better commissions though, once people see Hertford’s chairs. You should see it! There’s room for your lathes and there’s already a wall with hooks for hanging tools. Just come and look, Will. That’s all.’
Will sighed. ‘Suppose looking won’t hurt.’
*
In the panelled chambers of Thavie’s Inn, Holborn, Will Bagwell lifted the quill and dipped it in the ink. His heart was pounding beneath the buttons of his doublet. The paper before him was thick vellum, as if to emphasise the serious nature of the agreement. Ten years’ of his wages in a good year. An enormous loan. He wanted to read it again, for it was a lot of writing to take in, in a language that took some fathoming. But they were all waiting.
Behind him, he could hear Bess breathing; feel the heat of her hand on his shoulder. He tapped the nib on the edge of the bottle to shake off the excess droplets of ink; Bess’s hand tightened. He swallowed. Just shy of sixty pounds. If he signed this, there would be no going back.
He hesitated, and looked up. Opposite him, the turtle-faced goldsmith, Kite, nodded and narrowed his eyes in a tight smile of encouragement. The notary, an official from the Inn of Chancery in a blindingly white cravat, was impatient, shifting from foot to foot. No doubt he’d seen such an agreement many times.
A deep breath. Will felt the nib touch the paper and suddenly, there it was – his signature flowing across the page. He had no sooner lifted the pen from the document than it was swiped out from under his gaze, and Kite the money-lender was scribbling his name under Will’s. Immediately, a serving boy came with a stub of smoking sealing wax, and even before Kite had time to press the metal die into the red puddle on the paper, the notary was adding his witness signature.
It was over in a few seconds and Will’s damp palm was gripped momentarily in Kite’s wrinkled one, before the duplicate loan agreement and the house deeds were thrust into his hand for him to sign.
‘My man Bastable will collect the repayments on the last day of each month,’ Kite said.
Will felt dazed. He wanted to turn back time, give the agreement back. But they were all smiling, Bess most of all. Her face lit up the room. She had her fine house now, and he couldn’t let her down, could he? But all he could think of was the feeling of his empty purse, like a lung with the breath squeezed out of it.
BUY LINK
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Check out book 1 in the series!

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PRAISE FOR PLEASING MR PEPYS

‘Swift is a consummate historical novelist, basing her books on immaculate research and then filling the gaps between real events and real people with eloquent storytelling, atmospheric scene setting and imaginative plot lines’ The Visitor

‘Pepys and his world spring to vibrant life…Gripping, revealing and stunningly imagined, Pleasing Mr Pepys is guaranteed to please’ Lancashire Evening Post

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

From Deborah Swift:
I write historical fiction, a genre I love. I loved the Victorian classics such as Jane Eyre, Lorna Doone and Wuthering Heights. As I child I loved to read and when I had read my own library books, I used to borrow my mother’s library copies of Anya Seton and Daphne du Maurier. I have loved reading historical novels ever since; though I’m a bookaholic and I read widely – contemporary and classic fiction as well as historicals.

In the past I used to work as a set and costume designer for theatre and TV, so I enjoy the research aspect of creating historical fiction, something I loved doing as a scenographer. Each book takes about six months of research before I am ready to begin writing. More details of my research and writing process can be found on my website. I like to write about extraordinary characters set against the background of real historical events.

I live in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District, an area made famous by the Romantic Poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge.

I took an MA in Creative Writing in 2007 and now teach classes and courses in writing, and offer editorial advice from my home. A Plague on Mr Pepys is my ninth published novel.
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Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/deborahswift1/

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Blog: www.deborahswift.com/blog
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GIVEAWAY
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It’s an absolute delight to be taking part in the blog tour for this fascinating book.

The Vanished Child will tug at your heartstrings. It’s very powerful, extremely moving and unputdownable.

Jayne, a genealogist, takes on a job for her new step-mother, Vera. On her death bed, Vera’s mother, Freda, revealed to her that she has an older brother who was illegitimate. The boy, Harry, was sent to a home and then foster parents. Freda hoped to claim him again, but when she was ready to do so she discovered he’d been shipped, as did an obscene number of children over many years, out to the old ‘colonies’ purportedly for new, rich lives with loving families, but that was frequently far from the truth. Freda is filled with regret for what happened. 

There are two storylines in The Vanished Child – one in the 1950s where we follow the events surrounding Harry and the other in the present day. This second one revolves around Jayne and her meticulous genealogical research. We move between the two which makes the book so alive and tantalising. Each period is depicted in detail, and the settings in both the UK and Australia are convincing and enveloping.  

Jayne is an interesting character with family mysteries of her own to discover. She’s very likeable, and also admirable as she’s conscientious, pleasant and determined. Her life comes over as familiar and cosy to us with her Nespresso machine, cat, and other homely details. This creates a very convincing character, one we care about. It’s fascinating to follow her research, and very interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes in this sort of investigation.

Harry’s life is far less cosy, and we cringe as we see what happens to him, but take heart from his strength and determination, especially in one so young. But so much time has passed and there are difficulties for Jayne and her work colleague Duncan to overcome in their search for the vanished child. Has it all been left too late? Can you really trace someone who’s half a world away after more than sixty years? You’ll have to read this poignant book for yourself to find out if there can be a happy ending for this fractured family. It’s absolutely to be recommended.

The Vanished Child

What would you do if you discovered you had a brother you never knew existed?

On her deathbed, Freda Duckworth confesses to giving birth to an illegitimate child in 1944 and temporarily placing him in a children’s home. She returned later but he had vanished.

What happened to the child? Why did he disappear? Where did he go?

Jayne Sinclair, genealogical investigator, is faced with lies, secrets, and one of the most shameful episodes in recent history as she attempts to uncover the truth.

Can she find the vanished child?

This book is the fourth in the Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery series, but can be read as a standalone novel.

Every childhood lasts a lifetime.

Purchase LinkmyBook.to/vanishedchild

Author Bio Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.

He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.

When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, researching his family history, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

Social Media Links

Website: www.writermjlee.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/WriterMJLee

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