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Cover reveal: Isolation Junction by Jennifer Gilmour

Isolation Junction

Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. Through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t, will she be able to do it?

Will Tim help her? Will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiraling life she so desperately wants to change?

Pre-order Links:

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Isolation-Junction-Breaking-isolation-emotional-ebook/dp/B01LX4HLT0/

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Isolation-Junction-Breaking-isolation-emotional-ebook/dp/B01LX4HLT0/

This  new edition of Isolation Junction publishes on 22nd October, and Jennifer Gilmour would love to invite you to the online launch party on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/events/699087493784429/

Author Bio

Born in the North East, I am a young, married mum with three children. I assist in running a family business from my home-base and I have a large readership of other young mums in business for my blog posts.

From an early age I have had a passion for writing and have been gathering ideas and plot lines from my teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, I have amalgamated and fictionalised other survivors experiences alongside my own to write my first novel detailing the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again. I hope that in reading my debut novel, I will raise awareness of this often hidden and unseen behaviour and empower women in abusive relationships to seek help for themselves and find the confidence to change their lives.

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Street Cat Blues by Alison O’Leary: a cosy mystery with cattitude!

My turn today to review this wonderful book.

 

BLURB: A quiet life for Aubrey?

After spending several months banged up in Sunny Banks rescue centre, Aubrey, a large tabby cat, has finally found his forever home with Molly and Jeremy Goodman, and life is looking good.

However, all that changes when a serial killer begins to target elderly victims in the neighbourhood.

Aubrey wasn’t particularly upset by the death of some of the previous victims, including Miss Jenkins whom Aubrey recalls as a vinegar-lipped bitch of an old woman who enjoyed throwing stones at cats, but Mr Telling was different.

Mr Telling was a mate…

 

My review

This is definitely a cosy with a difference. Actually, several differences. Not only do we have an unassuming feline sleuth, instead of the usual redoubtable female human, but this is a cosy with a definite hard edge to it. Through Aubrey and his investigations, with assistance from cats and humans alike, we are brought fact to face with some pretty tough social issues, such as poverty, discrimination, murder, naturally given the genre, illegal immigration and bullying. However, the author doesn’t get bogged down in them, merely brings them to our attention in a succinct and telling way as part of the story. Aubrey himself is a rescue cat and as such is himself a comment on people’s tendency to see animals as throwaway items. But at last it seems like he has found his forever home with Jeremy and Molly.

Mr Telling was his back-up plan, however, should things ever go pear-shaped with the Goodmans. Aubrey is nothing if not a realist who has no illusions about how cruel life can be. But he remains upbeat and wryly humorous, and always take the pragmatic view of things. Thus his decision to keep a possible home in reserve should the Goodmans change their minds about him. So when Mr Telling is the next in a series of murders, it’s time for him to stick his whiskered nose in with his characteristic cattitude. He’s quite a force to be reckoned with when he gets going. We just have to hope that curiosity won’t kill this cat!

The author has a lively, witty style that’s hugely entertaining. It’s an ambitious book, since writing for adults from the point of view of an animal isn’t an easy thing to do. Such a project could easily become twee or childish, but not here. Absolutely not. At times you almost forget Aubrey’s a cat as he’s portrayed with such conviction and detail. He quickly becomes our friend and we’re with him all the way as he attempts to get the bottom of this murderous skulduggery. His feline colleagues are a varied and fascinating bunch, all distinctly different with foibles, good and bad. We discover that there’s a lot more to life as a cat than me might imagine.

The human characters are superbly portrayed too, from the gentle Goodmans to the brash Maria. There are some interesting and, I suspect, heartfelt insights into the world of teaching which seems quite the quagmire at times!

I really enjoyed this original, clever story with its challenging depth and broad outlook. An excellent read and one I highly recommend.

 

Book info

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
  • Language: English

 https://www.crookedcatbooks.com/product/street-cat-blues/

 

About the author:  Alison was born in London and spent her teenage years in Hertfordshire.

She has also lived in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

After studying Law she decided to teach rather than go into practice and for many years taught Criminal Law to adults and young people.

Since moving to the south coast, Alison has been involved in qualification and assessment development for major awarding bodies.

When not writing, she enjoys crosswords, walking by the sea and playing Scrabble on her iPad – which she always sets to beginner level because, hey, why take chances?

Alison lives with her husband John and cat Archie.

 

Twitter @alisonoleary81

 

 

 

 

 

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Cover reveal for ‘Strand of Faith’ by Rachel J Bonner

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

About ‘Strand of Faith’

When the choice is between love and life, how can anyone decide?

A girl and a monk, both with extraordinary mental powers, have compelling reasons not to fall in love.  But those from whom they expect support are manipulating them both because their choices will have consequences for the rest of the world.

After a stormy youth, Brother Prospero has found comfort and fulfilment in the monastery.  That is, until he discovers something that forces him to reconsider his whole vocation.  To follow his heart, he’ll have to face his demons again, outside the security of the monastery. Is it worth the risk?  Can he beat them this time? Or will they finally destroy him?

Orphaned and mistreated, Leonie has found sanctuary and safety at the abbey.  All she wants is to learn how to manage her unusual abilities so that she is not a danger to those around her.  When she comes into contact with Prospero everything threatens to spiral out of her control.  Whether she leaves or whether she stays, how can she possibly avoid destroying – yet again – those she has come to care about?

Abbot Gabriel is faced with an impossible choice.  He can do nothing and watch the world descend into war.  Or he can manipulate events and ensure peace – at the cost of two lives that he is responsible for.  He knows what he has to do but is he strong enough to sacrifice those he loves?

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Strand-Faith-Choices-Consequences-Book-ebook/dp/B07GKZT8LF

http://www.books2read.com/strandoffaith

 

And here’s the remarkable cover:

 

Author Bio

Rachel J Bonner is the author of the four book Choices and Consequences series, the first of which, ‘Strand of Faith’, is due out in November 2018.

Getting a degree in engineering, followed by a career in accountancy is probably not a conventional path to becoming an author, particularly in paranormal romance.  Rachel says that, although accountancy isn’t anything like as boring as everyone thinks, writing is a lot more fun.  When not writing, she can be found walking in the beautiful countryside near where she lives, which has influenced much of the scenery in her books, or shooting things with her local archery club.  Target shooting only, honest.  Nothing to worry about.

She also enjoys swimming, eating chocolate chip cookies and growing aromatic herbs, especially thyme and rosemary.  It’s no coincidence that her heroine likes the same things.

You can find out more about her books and sign up for Rachel’s newsletters at www.racheljbonner.co.uk.

https://twitter.com/RachelJBonner1

Cover Designer’s Social Media

www.oliverpengilley.co.uk

www.facebook.com/pengilleyart

@oliverpengilley  

www.patreon.com/oliverpengilley

www.etsy.com/uk/shop/oliverpengilley

 

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Turning Left Around the World by David C Moore: impressive and inspiring

Blurb

For some people, retirement dreams can consist of comfy slippers and gardening. Not so David and Helene, whose dream was of adventure. They presented Audley Travel with the challenge of exploring the history, landscape, wildlife, people and food in fifteen countries over ten months.

Fortunately, they were up to the task so David and Helene traded their slippers and gardening gloves for 53 flights, 30 trains, 8 boats, 3 cruise ships, 1 light aircraft, I hot air balloon, a motorbike and sidecar, countless speedboats, taxis, tuk-tuks, cyclos and bicycles. And a disobedient horse.

Turning Left Around the World is an entertaining account of their adventure, often intriguing, frequently funny and occasionally tragic. Share their adventure, enjoy the surprises and meet some fascinating people along the way.

The book is published by Mirador Publishing.

My review

This is a truly impressive and inspiring travelogue.

At an age when some people might consider putting their feet up after a busy career, David sets off to see those places in the world he’s always wanted to. He’s given a gentle prod – or maybe it’s more like a shove, at least to start with  – from his partner Helene, who sounds to be one of those wonderfully organised and energetic people that many of us wish we were, but never quite find the energy! They take in the places Helene’s longed to see too.

The couple do things thoroughly and hire guides when they arrive at their various far-flung destinations so as to get an insider’s view of the place. They thus glean every interesting nugget of information possible, which the author then shares with us. The whole book is a rich tapestry of snatches of their interactions, historical and geological background facts, social commentary, people-watching and detailed observation of the cultures they immerse themselves in. It’s totally absorbing and immensely readable. There’s no overwhelming or impersonal info-dumping. The author has a wonderful flowing style that is so easy to take in. I can’t remember absolutely every fact he shares, but I’ve stored a lot of them away and hope to drop them smugly into those conversations that begin with ‘Did you know…?’!

David and Helene travel to an astounding assortment of fascinating places in Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia (the only spot on their itinerary that I’ve been to!), Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, China and Japan. And that’s possibly just for starters since Helene asks where they’re planning to go next. Maybe this wasn’t the once-in-a-lifetime trip David thought it was!

There are emotional ups and downs to match the physical ascents and descents they make, muddles, a few shocks and frustrations, but the overall mood is of excitement and optimism. They bump into all sorts of people, from quirky to downright scary! Truly never a dull moment.

Their massive undertaking is an inspiration, and a reminder that life is for living to the full. Hats off to David and Helene for having the courage and determination to go for their dream, and I can’t wait to see if there’ll be a sequel…

 

About the author

David owned and managed a London marketing agency for 15 years, creating advertising campaigns to promote iconic international brands including Mars, Kellogg’s, Disney and Coca-Cola. Following the sale of his agency in 1999 he became one of the leading Consultant Marketing Directors in the UK, steering business in the launch or re-launch of their consumer brands including B&Q, Direct Line and RBS. David lives in Berkshire with his wife Helene. www.davidcmoore.author.com

 

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Cover reveal for The Stepsister by Jenny O’Brien

Book blurb

When a stranger leaves step-sisters, Victoria and Ness, a half-share in a house in Holland, they think it must be a mistake.

But there’s no mistake when Ness goes missing.

Desperate for the truth, Victoria heads to Holland to find out what happened to her. Has she, as her texts show, embarked on a whirlwind romance? Has someone abducted her or even worse?

But there’s someone watching, and that person wants her dead.

Can Victoria find out the truth before it’s too late?

 

Pre-order on Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07H3TH4HT

So here’s that cover…

Isn’t it eye-catching! I think it’s very inviting and intriguing.

Here’s a sample from the novel:

Prologue

I died yesterday, or so I’ve been told.

Yesterday is the day my life changed but how or why is still a mystery. There are things I know and there are things that they’ve told me but I can’t seem to trust any of it.

I know I’m a woman but I don’t know my age. I know how to hold a cup in the same way I know it’s rude to stick the end of a knife in my mouth. So, somewhere along the way, someone cared enough to drill manners into me. Those are the things I know, the things I can trust but as for the rest…

They tell me I’m in Holland but can I believe them? I don’t remember if I’m Dutch but I also don’t remember if I’m not. I can’t speak Dutch. I’ve been trying all morning but can one lose a language overnight? I seem to have lost everything else. Who knows? Maybe I took the wrong train or something and just rolled up in the wrong city. That would make sense except that it’s not just my sense of place that’s missing. It’s my sense of everything. I have no name, no age and no identity. Yesterday I died and today I’m still here.

 

They’ve left me alone now while they try to puzzle out what to do and in the meantime I’m going to try to remember stuff. I don’t know how long they’ll leave me alone but I need to take this opportunity to come up with some answers to all the questions they’ve been throwing at me like who the hell I am.

Slipping out of bed I recoil as bare feet meets cold tiles, but that’s not going to stop me. Pulling the back of the hospital gown closed in an effort to retain some degree of dignity, I shuffle over to the bathroom and then the mirror only to stare into the face of a stranger.

It doesn’t matter what I look like or that I’m suffering from the worst case of bed-head known to man. It doesn’t matter that my eyes are green or that my hair is that shade of nondescript mouse that keeps colourists in business. The only thing that matters is my reflection, which holds no clues as to my identity. I’m a stranger to them. I’m a stranger to me.

My body holds a clue though – just one.

I push up my sleeve again to stare at the tattoo on my arm. The tattoo puzzles me. It’s not me, or part of me or who I think I am and yet it’s there, a large indelible letter V.

I have no idea what it stands for. Oh, I’m not stupid or anything or, at least I don’t think I am. I can’t quote which exams I’ve passed or if indeed I’ve ever attended school but I do know V stands for victory. But what does it mean to me? Am I victorious? Am I making a statement about something? It must be important because it’s the only tattoo I have. It’s also the only clue.

I’m tired now. My eyelids collapse over my eyes even as I struggle to shift them upwards as I remember the cocktail the nurse told me to swallow like a good girl. I want everything to go away. I want to hide under the blankets and forget. I’ve already forgotten…

 

Author bio

Jenny O’Brien was born in Ireland and, after a brief sojourn in Wales, now resides in Guernsey.
She’s an avid reader and book reviewer for NetGalley in addition to being a RoNA judge.
She writes for both children and adults with a new book coming out every six months or so. She’s also an avid collector of cats, broken laptops, dust and happy endings – two of which you’ll always find in her books.

In her spare time she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You’ll be pleased to note she won’t be entering Bake-Off.

Readers can find out more about Jenny from her blog: https://jennyobrienwriter.wordpress.com

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JennyOBrienWriter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScribblerJB

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‘Haircuts, Hens and Homicide’ goes on tour!

My cosy mystery / romcom ‘Haircuts, Hens and Homicide’ is currently on tour. For seven days various wonderful book bloggers will be hosting my novel. Do please call by and see what they have to say about my novel.

Here’s the running order:

It’s got off to a great start with some lovely reviews today 🙂 Books, Life and Everything says: “With plenty of humour and laugh out loud moments, the story proves to be an entertaining read and is nicely set up for a sequel.”

Katie’s Book Cave says: “Haircuts, Hens and Homicide is a fun and entertaining riot of a read that will have you laughing away as you follow the adventures of Megan and co. It’s well-written and set in a gorgeous place, I loved my trip to France via this book! I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.”

And Julie Palooza says: “Although the mystery aspect of the book is relatively light, its main joy is seeing Megan settle into small-town French life – avec des poulets – and meeting its cast of, variously, huge, handsome, haughty, homicidal, charming, clumsy and coiffure-ly-challenged residents.”

I hope those reviews have tempted you. If so, call by getbook.at/HHH to get your copy!

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The Holiday Cruise by Victoria Cooke: lovely, lively reading

Synopsis

As if it weren’t enough to be cheated on by her husband of ten years, Yorkshire lass Hannah Davis is losing her beauty salon business too. Luckily, her big sister is there to pick up the pieces, but Hannah is desperate to find some independence.

Impulsively, Hannah applies for a spa job…on a cruise ship! Christmas in the Caribbean, springtime in the Mediterranean, what’s not to like? But, despite being in her thirties, Hannah has never done anything on her own before, and she’s terrified.

As the ship sets sail, Hannah has never been further from home…or closer to discovering who she is and who she wants to be.

 

My review

This book makes for lovely, lively reading. The opening is quite brutal though, as we find Hannah just recovering from what’s pretty much a total breakdown after her husband of many years suddenly leaves her. She’s neglected her business for too long to save it so things look very bleak. Her stalwart of a sister, Jen, is there for her and helps her start to find her feet her again.

An expected nail-mending job introduces Hannah to the idea of working in a cruise ship, which Jen encourages her to do. So Hannah courageously decides to take this career leap, and with her we travel to many locations, deal with frustrations and tribulations, and possible heartache.

Hannah is a great character. She’s fun and feisty, but flawed in that, as her sister says, it’s a crisis if she misses her favourite TV soap. In this novel she faces a real crisis, and while it floors her to start with, she does cope, and with humour and fortitude. You can’t help but like and admire her.

The author has a lively sense of fun too, and creates some great people, places and happenings to entertain us. She gives both sides of the coin when it comes to the cruise ship – it’s not all excitement and glamour, in fact, there’s a lot more drudgery and rule-following.

This is an easy and enjoyable read, light but not without sharp comment here and there, and a super book to while away a few hours.

 

Purchase linksmybook.to/TheHolidayCruise

Author bio

Victoria Cooke grew up in the city of Manchester before crossing the Pennines in pursuit of a career in education. She now lives in Huddersfield with her husband and two young daughters and when she’s not at home writing by the fire with a cup of coffee in hand, she loves working out in the gym and travelling. Victoria was first published at the tender age of eight by her classroom teacher who saw potential in a six-page story about an invisible man. Since then she’s always had a passion for reading and writing, undertaking several writers’ courses before completing her first novel, ‘The Secret to Falling in Love,’ in 2016

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaCookeAuthor/

https://twitter.com/VictoriaCooke10

https://www.instagram.com/victoriacookewriter/

 

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The Craft Room by Dave Holwill: wickedly funny

Hooray, my turn to take part in the blog tour for this excellent book!

Synopsis

Sylvia Blackwell is tired. Her grandchildren are being kept away from her, and the expected inheritance that might finally get her middle-aged son to move out has failed to materialise – thanks to her mother’s cat. It is becoming increasingly difficult to remain composed. On a romantic clifftop walk for her 47th Wedding Anniversary, an unexpected opportunity leads to a momentous decision that will irretrievably change the course of her life.

The Craft Room is a darkly comic tale of sex, crepe paper, murder and knitting in a sleepy Devon town, with a ‘truly original’ premise and genuinely jaw-dropping moments. What would you do if unexpectedly freed from bondage you never knew you were in? How would your children cope? How far would you go to protect them from an uncomfortable truth? You can only push a grandmother so far…

 

My review

This book is wickedly funny, absolutely dark comedy at its best. All Sylvia wants is her own craft room so she can outdo her nemesis Maureen at the local craft fairs. Now that Robert, her son, has moved out for the second time, having come to terms with his separation from his wife Alexa, she’s got his old room earmarked.

However, she’s temporarily distracted by her mother’s death, an event which doesn’t come as a surprise to Sylvia. Also, the fact her mother has left her next to nothing since she’s gambled it away or promised it to cats takes her focus for a while. Husband Ron swoops into the empty room before she knows it. He annexes it for a golf swing training room. Now, that really is going a bit too far. But he’s not a nice person, someone who delivers encouraging sarcasm and withering looks, and has always belittled their son. Robert moves back in for a while.

Another death in the family, that again doesn’t surprise Sylvia, and neither does the next one, which sees the demise of Ron’s mistress. Cops Frank and Don see the coincidence but rule kind old granny Sylvia out, although suspect she’s covering for someone. They therefore keep an eye on her nearest and dearest, the remaining ones…

The action intensifies from here on, with complications sneaking in. Will Sylvia ever realise her dream of a fully equipped craft room?

This is hugely entertaining. Once you start reading, you can’t stop. The dark humour is wonderful, and addictive! Sylvia is a brilliant heroine, one you can sympathise with – although perhaps you shouldn’t really. She’s larger than life, yet down to earth. She’s great. Robert, insipid at first, comes into his own as the story progresses, and other characters we meet entertain and fascinate.

The physical and social settings of the novel come over well, and contribute towards making this a remarkable and memorable read. I loved it!

Purchase Linkhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Craft-Room-Dave-Holwill/dp/1973974673

Author Bio

Dave Holwill was born in Guildford in 1977 and quickly decided that he preferred the Westcountry – moving to Devon in 1983 (with some input from his parents).
After an expensive (and possibly wasted) education there, he has worked variously as a postman, a framer, and a print department manager (though if you are the only person in the department then can you really be called a manager?) all whilst continuing to play in every kind of band imaginable on most instruments you can think of.

His debut novel, Weekend Rockstars, was published in August 2016 to favourable reviews and his second The Craft Room (a very dark comedy concerning death through misadventure) came out in August 2017. He is currently in editing hell with the third.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/daveholwill100

https://twitter.com/daveholwill

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15584279.Dave_Holwill

https://www.instagram.com/dave_holwill/

http://davedoesntwriteanythingever.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

 

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The Thirty-Five Timely &Untimely Deaths of Cumberland County by Mason Ball: an ambitious, enthralling book

Today I’m excited to be taking part in this blog tour:
Synopsis

1934: a doctor struggles with belief, mortality and murder. A novel inspired by real events

John M. Bischoffberger is a Pennsylvanian doctor adrift in the relative wilds of Maine during the dying years of the great depression. Struggling with a loss of religious faith and retreating from painful memories of The Great War, John has married and set up practice in the town of Naples.

As Medical Examiner for Cumberland County, it is also John’s job to investigate deaths that occur under unusual or suspicious circumstances. Yet as he goes about his work, he begins to suspect that the deaths he is called upon to document are in fact far from routine.

Against his better judgement, he becomes convinced that an uneasy alliance of three itinerants is going about the county, killing. An old woman, a little girl and a thin man are fulfilling some strange and unspoken duty, drowning, suffocating, hanging and the like, men, women and children; each of the three harbouring a profound distrust of the other two, yet still this queer confederacy press on with their murderous work.

John confides in local outsider Joseph, an older man who becomes John’s only outlet for his impossible fears. All the while the three continue to kill, and the deaths seem to be drawing closer to John: others who may suspect foul play, then acquaintances of John, then perhaps friends, even family members.

As the storm clouds of a new world war gather in Europe, and John’s rationality slowly unravels, he must find a way to disprove what he has reluctantly come to believe, or to confirm his worst fears and take steps to end the killing spree of the three in the woods, whatever the cost.

With a narrative switching between the doctor and the trio of murderers, and inspired by, and including, genuine accounts made by the real Dr John M. Bischoffberger in his medical journal between 1934 and 1941, The Thirty Five Timely & Untimely Deaths of Cumberland County weaves about them a fictional and dreamlike story of faith, community, and how we deal with life in the shadow of mortality.

My review

This is an unusual,  emotive and ambitious book, which is an enthralling combination in this author’s hands. It all begins quite straightforwardly, with switches between narrators keeping us intrigued. There are also actual historical documents incorporated in the text, which is a fascinating and effective facet to the book.

As the various strands begin to weave themselves ever tighter together the novel becomes quite complex. Not complicated, but you need to concentrate a bit. As Dr Bischoffberger begins to slide into confusion, it becomes more of a challenging read, but you’ll be rewarded for your effort.

It’s definitely a haunting book, slightly uncomfortable almost, and certainly powerful. It’s one that stays with you once you’ve finished reading. I found much of the imagery very striking. A character is described as “like a shout you can see”, another  suffers the “hue and cry” of life. There are numerous superb images that make you think, ‘Oh my goodness, that’s so true! Why have I never thought of that.’ The author is also a poet and this shines through in the pictures he creates with his words.

There is so much you can say about this book, so many levels that it works on, but I think the best thing is to discover it for yourself. Reading a few things that the author has said about it will also be useful and tantalising.

 

The author talks about his book:

How did you come up with the idea for the book?

Some years ago, on my thirtieth birthday, my then girlfriend (now wife) decided that I should collect something and knowing me as she did, she decided that what I should collect was antique medical equipment. To this day I have a lovely cabinet of wonderful and grotesque… things, of varying archaic medical use and brutal if utilitarian aesthetic.

However, one day while searching the internet for something to add to my collection, she came across Bischoffberger’s Medical Examiner’s Record. A large hardcover book, a ledger of deaths stretching from 1934 to 1954, the record instantly drew me in. As I read, my previous disparate ideas and abortive attempts at the story coalesced into a whole (albeit a strange one) and the novel began to take shape in my mind.

 

How would you describe the 35 Deaths?

It’s not so much a historical novel as a novel based on real events and featuring some real people but which takes those incidents and characters and imposes a fictional, even fantastical, framework upon them.

 

Who has influenced you in the writing of this novel?  I’d say the novel’s biggest influences are probably Cormac McCarthy and David Lynch, though I’m not sure it’s that much like either of them; but I suppose every writer’s work is a conglomeration of their own influences, visible or not.

 

How did you go about researching Maine in the 1930s? This is the first piece I’ve written that is even close to being historical in setting and so, beyond the reading of the medical record itself, I had to embark on more research than ever before. The joy of research is that, no matter what, you will find incredible and unexpected things, many of which seem almost tailor made to fit into your narrative.

I found local history books online, sourced period maps of the area (I also used Google Earth a lot!) and even managed to find a book of historical photographs of the region; I cannot deny a slight shiver running through me upon finding within this book a picture of Doctor Bischoffberger himself looking back at me.

 

About the author

Photos by Sin Bozkurt©

Following his poem Fireworks Fireworks Bang Bang Bang at the age of six, Mason eventually took the whole writing thing a little more seriously, graduating in 2009 from London Metropolitan University, having received first class honours in Creative Writing.

In his second year, he won the Sandra Ashman award for his poem Mother Theresa in the Winner’s Enclosure.

He has subsequently had work published in Succour magazine and Brand magazine.

Mason is currently working on a number of writing projects, as well as developing his next novel.

In addition to this, he writes, co-produces and hosts the award-winning monthly cabaret night The Double R Club (as Benjamin Louche, winner of “Best Host” at the London Cabaret Awards). He also worked as a performer on Star Wars: The Force Awakens & The Last Jedi.

Mason is a trustee of East London charity Cabaret vs Cancer.

He lives in East London with his wife, a cat called Monkey, and a collection of antique medical equipment.

 

Social media links

Website: https://www.masonball.co.uk

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/MasonBall

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MasonBallAuthor 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/masonballauthor

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The Amber Maze by Christopher Bowden: erudite and intriguing

Synopsis

While staying in a Dorset cottage, Hugh Mullion finds a mysterious key down the side of an antique chair.  No one can say how long the key has been there or what it opens.

Hugh’s search for answers will unlock the secrets of the troubled life of a talented artist, destined to be hailed a neglected genius fifty years too late.  And no secret is darker than that of The Amber Maze, from whose malign influence he never escaped.

The trail takes Hugh from Edwardian Oxfordshire to 1960s Camden Town, where the ghosts of the past are finally laid to rest.

Delicately crafted noir fiction at its best.

 

My review

This novel is an intriguing and erudite mystery. More noir than cozy, it’s a thoughtful, intelligent story. There’s definite menace and a lurking threat, embodied by the maze that is the symbol of Assendene Court. You get a hint of that from the cover: what exactly is round that next bend

Our protagonist Hugh plunges into a maze of investigation. Progress is slow and cautious to start with, but gains momentum. However, there are wrong turns and dead ends. But like a determined terrier, once he’s got his teeth into this mystery he’s not going to let go. There’s an old box, paintings, a journal belonging to underrated artist Lionel Pybus and the amber maze itself of Assendene Court that all need investigating and, let’s move to a jigsaw analogy now, piecing together.

It’s nice to have a male protagonist, since this type of more literary and less violent mystery is generally the preserve of female sleuths, and a slightly more mature one too. He’s not a perfect person – he’s definitely on the obsessive side, can’t let things go. He’s sharp, curious, personable, and he works well with a number of knowledgeable people to delve deeper into this mystery. He’s methodical, almost a little plodding, but that just means we can keep up with events clearly and  understand exactly what’s going on.

His life partner, Kate, is a perfect foil for him. She’s more impulsive and upbeat, equally likeable and sharp, and is drawn into Hugh’s investigation despite herself. She’s very supportive. She’s just one of a compelling cast of characters that accompany Hugh through the story, all rounded and interesting.

Despite Hugh’s meticulous approach to his investigation, the story progresses steadily, gaining momentum, and the book is a real page-turner. You keep wanting to know what next, fascinating snippet he’ll uncover and how it will fit in with what we know so far.

A delightful and rewarding read.

 

Purchase links:

Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0955506751

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Amber-Maze-Christopher-Bowden-ebook/dp/B07FRH481F/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532280455&sr=1-1&keywords=the+amber+maze

Waterstones https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-amber-maze/christopher-bowden/9780955506758

Smashwordshttps://www.smashwords.com/books/view/880652

 

About the author

Christopher Bowden lives in south London. The Amber Maze is the sixth of his colour-themed novels, which have been praised variously by Andrew Marr, Julian Fellowes, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Shena Mackay. 

Social media links

https://www.facebook.com/christopher.bowden.90

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