How exciting to be taking part in this blog tour on its opening day!

Synopsis
Ben longs to be prime minister one day. But with no political connections, he is about to crash out of a Masters degree with no future ahead. So when by chance he becomes fast friends with a young Arab prince, and is offered a job in his government, he jumps at the chance to get on the political ladder.

Amal dreads the throne. And with Ben’s help he wants to reform his country, steering it onto a path towards democracy. But with the king’s health failing, revolutionaries in the streets, and terrorism threatening everyone, the country is ready to tear itself apart.

Alone in a hostile land, Ben must help Amal weigh what is best against what is right, making decisions that will risk his country, his family, and his life.

My review
This short book is the story of two idealistic young men. One, Ben, is a British student with political ambitions, the other an Arab prince, Amal. They meet at an inter-university debate, with the subject under debate being the very pertinent ‘ideology is dead’. Here and elsewhere in the novella, there’s some very interesting philosophical and political discussion.

Ben rather suddenly finds himself recruited as Amal’s advisor, but mainly friend, in Amal’s home of Argolis. The differences he encounters between his own culture and this one are sharply observed and create the atmosphere of somewhere fascinating, yet also menacing and obdurate. It’s also vicious, with public executions and other extreme punishments being meted out somewhat enthusiastically.

Just as suddenly, Amal finds himself the new king after the untimely and suspicious death of his older brother and then, soon after, his father. The moment has come for Amal to instigate that ‘ benevolent monarchy’ that he’s dreamed of. Ben determines to help him do exactly that.

However, there are just two of them fighting for change, and one only half-heartedly. Amal feels obliged to honour his father’s legacy, one very much centred on keeping power at all costs, and the young king has a stubborn entourage who like things the way they are. Rebels choose this unsettled moment to start causing trouble, and clearly there’s someone close to Amal who’s feeding them information. Unfortunately, some important people decide it must be Ben. His and Amal’s hopes collapse, with fatal yet inevitable consequences. Throughout the book, as on the cover, there are reflections of Shelley’s sonnet ‘Ozymandias’, which is one both young men know.

is a fast-paced and exciting book, yet there’s so much to think about too. Who, for example, actually is the benevolent dictator in the end? Amal? Or is it Ben, who has naively tried to instil Western values in his Arab friend? It’s all too easy to assume you are right and try to influence other to your own way of thinking.

There’s a strong and moving theme of friendship throughout too – of nominal friends and true friends, of superficiality and loyalty. So if you like a page-turner that also has you pausing and contemplating amidst the action, then this is most definitely a book for you.

Purchase links
https://tomtrott.com/tbd
www.amazon.co.uk/Benevolent-Dictator-Tom-Trott-ebook/dp/B07BZQHTDB

Author bio

Tom Trott was born in Brighton. He first started writing at Junior School, where he and a group of friends devised and performed comedy plays for school assemblies, much to the amusement of their fellow pupils. Since leaving school and growing up to be a big boy, he has written a short comedy play that was performed at the Theatre Royal Brighton in May 2014 as part of the Brighton Festival; he has written Daye’s Work, a television pilot for the local Brighton channel, and he has won the Empire Award (thriller category) in the 2015 New York Screenplay Contest. He is the proverbial Brighton rock, and currently lives in the city with his wife.

Social Media Links – www.twitter.com/tjtrott, www.facebook.com/tomtrottbooks, www.tomtrott.com

 

 

Follow the tour as it continues:

Synopsis: lies and misdirection rule the game

To some, Fiona O’Dell is clever and manipulative. To others, she is a dangerous sociopath. One thing is certain – she’s trouble wherever she goes. Now she has vanished from her job, but not before being seen leaving a motel room where one man is found dead, another on the edge of death. Is this grizzly crime scene a BDSM encounter gone wrong? Or is it related to a company data breach where all three are employed?

Private security expert Lee Stone and NYPD Detective Belle Hughes are assigned to the case. In a race to find Fiona, they track her across four states and shocked to find men from her past are being murdered. With little information and even less evidence, each new crime scene brings more questions than answers.

While secrets are revealed, there is only one conclusion: Fiona controls the game, the players, even the course of the investigation. The danger escalates, and the game must be mastered, or all fall victim to it. As Lee and Belle struggle to put all the pieces together, the two investigators find their relationship heats up as they are drawn to each other. Looking for a murder mystery with a feisty female detective that’s filled with twists and turns? Explore The Last Lie She Told for a thrill ride that leaves you guessing until the end.

My review

This is a really polished and contemporary mystery novel. As well as the elusive Fiona, ex-cop Lee and Belle, mentioned in the blurb, there are two other characters we need to know about. First is Jackson, who has left the FBI and established his own security firm. Money’s been tight so he’s allowed Mary to buy an interest in the firm. Mary, the second person in question, is an elderly lady. She’s a fantastic character, surprisingly lively, quick-witted and astute. She’s a tough cookie but she has a soft side and is eager to find a love match for her colleague, Lee.

Jackson’s friend Benjamin Hightower comes to him with a case to solve. And to do so, Fiona must be found. Thus the hunt for her begins and we are plunged into the investigation which goes along all sorts of blind alleys and takes plenty of wrong turns before it reaches its tantalising conclusion.

The novel is written in the first person from the point of every main character in the book. This works really well, and adds depth and interest as we can compare and contrast what each person says about themselves with what the others tell us. This fits in very well with the general theme of things not being quite as they seem: there’s one than one side to every story.

The book is a true page-turner. The action isn’t always breathlessly fast but there’s a sense of increasing momentum as the story unfolds. The complex plot is very clever and there’s a lot to think about as you read. It’s an absorbing and hugely entertaining novel, and what’s best of all it’s only the first in a series so there will be more similar treats to come.

 

Purchase Links

Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FBSY51Y

Amazon UK  – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FBSY51Y

The Last Lie She Told is 99p/c for until the 14th August.

Author Bio – K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right?

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/KJMcGillickauthor/

Kathleen McGillick

@KJMcGillickAuth

http://www.kjmcgillick.com/

https://twitter.com/KJMcGillickAuth

11th – 13th August –  Three: Deception  Love Murder also by K.J. McGilick will be FREE

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B078VFT9PJ

 

 

I’m thrilled to be one of the first stops in the blog tour for Little Pink Taxi by Marie Laval, an enchanting, heart-warming and very modern novel.

Description

Rosalie Heart is a well-known face in Irlwick – well, if you drive a bright pink taxi and your signature style is a pink anorak, you’re going to draw a bit of attention! But Rosalie’s company Love Taxis is more than just a gimmick – for many people in the remote Scottish village, it’s a lifeline.

Which is something that Marc Petersen will never understand. Marc’s ruthless approach to business doesn’t extend to pink taxi companies running at a loss. When he arrives in Irlwick to see to a new acquisition – Raventhorn, a rundown castle – it’s apparent he poses a threat to Rosalie’s entire existence; not just her business, but her childhood home too.

On the face of it Marc and Rosalie should loathe each other, but what they didn’t count on was somebody playing cupid …

 

My review

This is a delightful and lively novel, which is romcom with a touch of the supernatural, history and mystery. Our heroine, Rosalie, is bubbly and bright, as cheering as the bright pink anorak she wears. She’s like a breath of fresh air or a sunshiney day. In complete contrast is Marc Petersen, the dour client she collects from the airport. He’s irritable, humourless and critical. He’s a dark cloud on her horizon, in more ways than one. He’s not just miserable company, but he’s come to Raventhorne Castle, which has belonged to Rosalie’s boss Geoff and where she’s lived for a long time, to sell it. Marc has recently inherited the castle from his father, to whom Geoff had sold it without saying a world to anyone. And  it’s not just the castle, but also Rosalie’s taxi company that he’ll be getting rid of. That could spell disaster for the whole community of Irlwick.

Rosalie is a wonderful character, so charming and genuine. In fact, everyone we meet, likeable or otherwise, is rounded, convincing and human! No stereotypes or cardboard cut-outs here. Marc is particularly complex and it’s fascinating to see how he develops through the book, but not without a few stumbles on the way.

The setting in Scotland is picturesque and portrayed in great detail. It’s exquisite. We also get a powerful sense of community which is warm and inviting. There is so much to enjoy in this story!

The writing flows and you get swept away by the action. There’s tension, humour, puzzles, a little ghostly intervention, romance, the inevitable misunderstandings  – every thing you need to thoroughly engage and entertain you from the catchy front cover to the back one. The author mixes them together in an unusual and clever way and the result is a truly enjoyable novel. 

Purchase Links

Kindle UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Pink-Taxi-Choc-Lit-ebook/dp/B078KCQ5G3/
Kindle US:
https://www.amazon.com/Little-Pink-Taxi-Choc-Lit-ebook/dp/B078KCQ5G3/
Kobo:
https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/little-pink-taxi-choc-lit
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/little-pink-taxi/id1326824583

Author bio 

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire with her family. She works full-time as a modern languages teacher, and in her spare times loves writing romance and dreaming about romantic heroes. She writes both historical and contemporary romance, and her historical romance The Lion’s Embrace won the Gold Medal at the Global eBook Awards 2015 (category Historical Romance). She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors. Her native France, as well as her passion for history and research, very much influences her writing, and all her novels have what she likes to call ‘a French twist’!

Social Media Links –

Twitter:
www.twitter.com/MarieLaval1
Blog: http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/

Synopsis

Genre: Sweet romance/cosy mystery

Release Date: 1 February 2018

Publisher: Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus)

Packed full of French flavour and idyllic settings this is a romantic, heart-warming and unputdownable new novel about life and love, perfect for anyone who loves Milly Johnson, Lucy Diamond and Debbie Johnson.

Suddenly unemployed and single, Anna escapes to her parents’ beautiful house in France for a much-needed recharge – and to work out what she wants to do next with her life now her carefully mapped out plan has gone out the window.

Anna gives herself 6 months to recuperate, all the while helping renovate her parents’ adjoining gites into picturesque B&Bs. But working alongside the ruggedly handsome Sam on the renovation project, she didn’t expect for life to take an unexpected, if not unwelcome, twist…

 

 

My review

Everything about this book makes it a perfect summer read from its pretty, perky cover to its happy ever after ending.

We follow Anna from England, where she ends her relationship and job on the same day, to France where she seeks sanctuary with her parents who are working together contentedly to build themselves a new life abroad. Anna allows herself time to mend and re-prioritise her own life. She’s in for some surprising and unforeseen changes!

Back in England Anna worked alongside Karl in a strained atmosphere where it’s all about getting the right results, but in France she works alongside Sam companionably. She made what Karl called an ‘unbeatable’ team, but also an unhappy one. In England, Anna’s experience was that language deceived. People said what they didn’t mean. Karl said he loved Anna, but he didn’t mean it. He also lied when challenged over his relationship with her. In France, she finds that life is less about appearances and impressing others. People are true to their feelings and to their word. Can Anna learn to be true to herself?

The book is divided into months with further chirpily named subdivisions – for example, New Day, New Me and Getting Down and Dirty. The use of the present tense makes the writing crisp and immediate, and the author’s style is flowing and easy to read. I especially love how the author’s own cat Ziggy stars in the story!

Something that surprised me is that, as far as I can make out from her bio, the author’s never lived in France, although she’s obviously visited. She seems to have soaked up the French rural atmosphere so easily and in such detail I was sure she must have spent a lifetime there.

Don’t hesitate to treat yourself to this lovely novel. It will transport you to France in an instant, and introduce you to some fascinating characters and places, and warm the cockles of  your heart at the same time. 

 

Excerpt

The L Word

Two weeks today will be the first anniversary of our first real date. Being wined and dined in a chic little French restaurant was a gigantic step forward; it signalled the beginning of a new era in my relationship with Karl. Even though at least half of the meal was spent talking about work, his intentions were clear – we were no longer simply colleagues and romance was in the air.

Since then, Karl must have told me that he loves me more than a thousand times. You might think I’m exaggerating, but I can assure you that’s not the case. He usually manages to slip it into the conversation at least three times a day. The first time he said the L word to me, it slid off his tongue so easily I could almost have missed it. It wasn’t a staring into each other’s eyes moment of discovery, just a casual ‘love you, babe’.

As the months rolled by, I pushed aside my growing fear that it was only a word to him. Because it means so much more to me, I freeze whenever he tacks it onto a sentence.

And, yes, I’m very aware that my air of disapproval does make me sound ungrateful and undeserving. But it’s all about self-preservation, you see. I’ll never utter that word again until I’m one hundred per cent certain that the man I’m saying it to believes I’m their soul mate too – the perfect fit.

The last time I uttered the L word, was six years ago. It was to a guy I’d known since childhood and the man I genuinely believed I would marry when the time was right. He was handsome in a rugged way, fired up with ambition and exciting to be around. Sadly, everyone we knew thought we were the perfect couple too, except the guy in question, as it turned out…

 

BUY LINK

http://smarturl.it/TheFrenchAdventure

 

GOODREADS

https://goo.gl/k3hEkq

 

 

ABOUT LUCY COLEMAN

Lucy Coleman always knew that one day she would write, but first life took her on a wonderful journey of self-discovery for which she is very grateful.

Family life and two very diverse careers later she now spends most days glued to a keyboard, which she refers to as her personal quality time.

‘It’s only when you know who you are that you truly understand what makes you happy – and writing about love, life and relationships makes me leap out of bed every morning!’

If she isn’t online she’s either playing with the kids, whose imaginations seem to know no bounds, or painting something. As a serial house mover together with her lovely husband, there is always a new challenge to keep her occupied!

Lucy also writes under the name Linn B. Halton.

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucyColemanauth

Goodreads Author Page: http://ow.ly/mk3H30atV5h

Website:  http://linnbhalton.co.uk/

 

And look, there’s a competition!

Enter here:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4be03017301/?

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

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]

 

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

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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.
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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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Blog: www.deborahswift.com/blog
Website: www.deborahswift.com

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