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.

Synopsis

It is May 1968. Students are rioting, civil rights are being fought and died for, nuclear bombs are being tested, and war is raging in Vietnam. For three ordinary women in Lisbon, London and Washington life must go on as usual. For them, just to survive is an act of courage. How much has really changed in fift years?

 

My review

The title quotation comes from something Amalia observes about her son, Ricardo – how he sleeps so soundly, how he can “sleep through war”. Our three lead characters, Amalia, Rose and Mrs Johnson, all experiences ‘wars’ of one sort or another, whether it’s war between cultures, races or actual military conflict. It seems that the whole world is at war in 1968 in one way or another with so much turbulence, social unrest and hostility as well as battles between soldiers. This is what unites these three disparate women.

It’s fascinating to have three such different characters woven together: we have a young Portuguese mother who is doing whatever it takes to earn money to educate her father less son and give him the best start in life she can. Then there is a West Indian nurse who has come to England to work, but isn’t always appreciated. And we have a mother whose son is fighting in Vietnam. She writes newsy, chatty letters to her son, but you can see she’s racked with worry about him.

News reports are interspersed throughout the women’s narrations which give the wider, factual background to their stories.

This is a gentle, poignant read, but that’s not to say that shocking things and cruel twists of fate don’t happen. However, our heroines take events in their stride. Each woman is brave, although each considers themselves to be perfectly ordinary, in the difficult circumstances they find themselves in and cope in what ways they can. It’s the contrast between their apparent normalness and the upheavals they tackle without fuss in their daily lives that is so powerful.

The author has a deft way with words and a sharp eye for detail. It’s the little touches, the smallest o brushstrokes, to the broad canvas of this book that make it so convincing. If you enjoy a book that is rich with imagery, touching, thoughtful, firmly rooted in reality yet imaginative and innovative, then this is one for you.

Just one negative comment, which concerns the book’s presentation and most definitely not its creative content. The narrations of two of the women are delivered in italic text, which I didn’t feel was necessary but which accounts for about two thirds of the book. Personally I don’t find italic text the easiest thing to read and it is a little off-putting when used for long passages.

 

Purchase links

https://wordery.com/sleeping-through-war-jackie-carreira-9781788038539?cTrk=OTI4NjYyNTF8NWIzNGE4OGEyMTcwNzoxOjE6NWIzNGE4ODE5OTMzZjQuMDY5MzQ4MzE6NTNkMGNjYzU%3D

https://www.waterstones.com/book/sleeping-through-war/jackie-carreira/9781788038539

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleeping-Through-War-Jackie-Carreira-ebook/dp/B078XF7351/

About the author
Jackie Carreira is a writer, musician, designer, co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company, and award-winning playwright. She mostly grew up and went to school in Hackney, East London, but spent part of her early childhood with grandparents in Lisbon’s Old Quarter. Her colourful early life has greatly influenced this novel. Jackie now lives in leafy Suffolk with her actor husband, AJ Deane, two cats and too many books.

Social Media Links –  FACEBOOK: @SleepingThroughWar
WEBSITE:
jackiecarreira.co.uk

 

Synopsis

1910 – A compelling tale of female empowerment in Bath’s leading department store. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath’s premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.

Determined to break from her father’s iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington’s into a new decade, embracing woman’s equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.

Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington’s plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?

My review

Elizabeth, our heroine, is ahead of her time in her ambition for the family department store, but her father doesn’t share her plans. He’s the sort of domineering, intolerant and narrow-minded man we associate with the Victorian era. In contrast, Joseph, the glove-maker, is far more modern in his views and is prepared to listen to and consider what women have to say. His wife Lillian, tragically murdered, was a proactive woman, like Elizabeth, and so he values women for their intelligence and insight, and not just their looks. He shares Elizabeth’s vision for catering to women customers considerably more. The two work well together, and inevitably attraction follows. But there are other impediments besides Edward Pennington: class conventions, political issues and personal agendas are there too.  As well as struggling to be mistress of Pennington’s store, Elizabeth also struggles to be mistress of her own fate.

Elizabeth has built a shell around herself to protect herself from her father’s constant belittlement. She thus appears somewhat stiff and distant at first, but as we get to know her better as the book progresses we see her hidden side. She’s sensitive and motivated, very much her lively mother’s daughter. Or at least her mother was lively until Edward finally stifled her joie de vivre. Elizabeth fortunately seems to be made of sterner stuff and we have faith that she’ll escape from her father’s shadow.

I especially liked the atmosphere created in the book. In scenes with Edward there’s oppressiveness and stuffiness, but Elizabeth always seems to bring light and hope. Joseph carries sadness with him, but a growing air of optimism. Pennington’s, brightly lit, shines out like a beacon beckoning to the future, like Elizabeth herself.

The author recreates an exciting time in history in her novel and furnishes it with fascinating, contrasting characters and a clever plot. This makes for very enjoyable reading.

The book is beautifully presented with an eye-catching cover. However, my one criticism of this book is in relation to the cover. It would look even better without the ‘Welcome to Bath’s finest department store’ on the right hand side. To me it is a completely unnecessary addition, and it detracts from  the symmetry and perspective. But maybe that’s just me – I admit I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about slogans plastered on covers!

Super book, thoroughly enjoyable and one to add to your ‘to be read’ list.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK: http://amzn.eu/2SvRcqp

Amazon US: http://a.co/bYr2KHM

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mistress-of-penningtons-rachel-brimble/1128920728?ean=9781788546508

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-mistress-of-pennington-s

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rachel_Brimble_The_Mistress_of_Pennington_s?id=dIFSDwAAQBAJ

Author Bio

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a brand new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s, released July 2018.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

Social Media Links

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Facebook Street Team – Rachel’s Readers

Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Brimble/e/B007829ZRM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1490948101&sr=8-1

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1806411.Rachel_Brimble

Giveaway to win £20 / $20 Amazon Gift Card (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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494121/

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/?

 

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

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for ‘Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties’ by Andy Rausch. This collection of three very different but all equally gritty and gripping noir stories makes for exciting but thoughtful reading. The intriguing title immediately piques the reader’s curiosity, and the cover certainly catches the eye.

As the title implies, there’s a Western theme to this book and we meet a selection of outlaws, both criminal and social, dating from the 1930s to the present day. Our first, in the first story ‘Easy Peezy’, is Emmet Dalton, one-time bank robber now author. Reading in the newspapers about current bank jobs going on tempts him back into his old lifestyle, if only to show these youngsters a thing or two. So he recruits two sidekicks who, like himself, aren’t in the first flush of youth, and thus the Old Timers Gang comes into being. That’s not the name Emmet has chosen for his gang but it’s the one the public have settled on, to his extreme annoyance. Melvin Purvis, FBI agent, is also something of an annoyance too.

‘Riding Shotgun’, the second story, sees Joe Gibson, mystery writer, finds himself in a truly nightmare scenario where he is forced into taking actions he really doesn’t want to take in order to save the life of his kidnapped daughter. Despite keeping his side of the agreement, Emily is not released and this drives him further into the depths. He teams up with an assortment of unsavoury characters to track her down and gain revenge at the same time. Mertis Whitlock is the cop relentlessly on his trail. This is a bitter-sweet story, very grey morally as who of us wouldn’t take extreme actions to save their own child.

‘$crilla’ (scrilla is a slang term for money) is more of a romp, but no less destructive. Charlie Grimes, ex-cop with a roving eye, finds himself trying to solve the kidnapping of Davis Cartwright, a record producer specialising in promoting gangsta rap stars. Some of these turn out to be true gangsters, and another complex and riveting tale of revenge, deception and misunderstandings ensues.

These are all no-hold-barred stories. Many of the characters are amoral and dangerous, with hair-trigger tempers. Some are just plain dumb. Others are thoughtful, deeper, more complex but just as tough. What emerges clearly from all three stories is how situations can rapidly spiral out of control, how unintended actions have disastrous consequences. The pointlessness of violence is illuminated too. What have the deaths achieved, other than some personal satisfaction for the killer, but not even always that. There’s a truly tragi-comic face-off between two characters in one of the stories: they’re as aware their actions are as futile and life-wasting as the reader is. But it’s what they have to do.

There’s redemption amongst the chaos and bloodshed. Our main characters are empathetic despite being deeply flawed. They’re likeable rogues, much as we might try to not be won over by them given the bad things they do. They’re capable of good, of recognising that what they do isn’t the right thing. The last words of one of our villains is “I’m sorry,” and he genuinely is, but, of course, it’s too late.

Engaging and entertaining, with plenty of wry humour alongside the splashes of horror, this book shakes you up and makes you think. Excellent.

 

Riding Shotgun: And Other American Cruelties

RIDING SHOTGUN AND OTHER AMERICAN CRUELTIES is a unique collection of quirky, Tarantinoesque crime novellas, representing three very different sub-genres. In the first story, “Easy-Peezy,” a band of elderly Old West bank robbers return to their wicked ways robbing banks in the 1930s John Dillinger era. The second story, “Riding Shotgun,” is a bitter tale about a man pushed to the limits of human endurance and forced to take up arms to protect those he loves. The third tale, “$crilla,” is an urban crime fantasy in which a fledgling hip-hop group kidnaps a record mogul in the hopes of finally making the kind of loot they’ve always dreamed of.

Purchase Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Riding-Shotgun-Other-American-Cruelties-ebook/dp/B073RT1353/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Riding-Shotgun-Other-American-Cruelties-ebook/dp/B073RT1353/

Author Bio –  Andy Rausch is a freelance film journalist, author, and celebrity interviewer. He has published more than twenty books on the subject of popular culture, including The Films of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, Making Movies with Orson Welles (with Gary Graver), and The Cinematic Misadventures of Ed Wood (with Charles E. Pratt, Jr.). His work has appeared in Shock Cinema, both Screem and Scream magazines, Senses of Cinema, Diabolique, Creative Screenwriting, Film Threat, Bright Lights Film Journal, and Images: A Journal of Film and Popular Culture. He has written several works of fiction including Mad World, Elvis Presley: CIA Assassin, Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties, and the short story collection Death Rattles. He has also worked as a screenwriter, producer, and actor on numerous straight-to-video horror films.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/writerrausch1

So what is this book about? Here’s the blurb:

Blood Ribbon

When there’s more than secrets buried, where do you start digging?

When Brooke Adams is found battered, bleeding, and barely conscious, the police are at a loss as to who her attacker is or why she was targeted.

Then, PI Rod Morgan turns up convinced that Brooke’s attack is the latest in a string of unsolved disappearances dating back twenty-five years.

The police, however, aren’t convinced, so Brooke and Rod must investigate the cases themselves.

As secrets from the past start unravelling, will they find Brooke’s attacker before he strikes again, or is that one secret that will stay buried forever?

Publication Date – 10th August 2018

And now here’s the cover…

Isn’t it tantalising? I’m definitely looking forward to reading this.

About Roger Bray

I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops.

My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider.

Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing.

Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school.

So here we are, two books published and another on track.

Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.

 

Social Media Links  

https://twitter.com/rogerbray22

https://www.facebook.com/rogerbraybooks/

https://rogerbraybooks.com/

 

 

 

I’m delighted to be taking part in the virtual tour for this super book!

My review

Rebecca is the younger, slightly-disorganised, not-quite-fulfilling-expectations sister of over-achieving Jennifer. So when Jennifer suddenly needs her help when her golden world starts to fall apart, Rebecca is as surprised as everyone else. However, she could do with getting away for a while, following an embarrassing incident when she’d had a drop too much to drink, to let the gossip die down and she feels loyalty towards her sister.

Rebecca is plunged into a hectic life of child-minding and helping at the cookery school, and it’s only made bearable by two men, Ciaran in Ireland and David in New Zealand. Is Rebecca about to get her act together and find happiness and fulfilment, or will she just continue to muddle through life?

Everything about this book is just perfect. There are detailed, atmospheric settings in the bustling city of Dublin and the seaside village of Akaroa, both of which make you want to visit these places for yourself. We meet a whole host of sparkling, distinctive characters who, with their flaws as well as their charm, are a delight to know.

There’s wonderful humour and wit, but you’ll also cringe with embarrassment alongside Rebecca too at times, and feel the tension from the stresses and imperfections of real life that find their way into the story too. It’s a diverting and absorbing read, and one I highly recommend.

Synopsis

Nobody’s Perfect Are They?

Rebecca Loughton’s bumbled her way through her thirty-something years making a few cock-ups along the way. Of course, these wouldn’t be so obvious if it wasn’t for her golden haired, older sister Jennifer.

In a bid to escape Jennifer’s lengthy shadow and to find her happy ever after Rebecca, high-tails it out of her hometown of Christchurch to the other side of the world landing a legal secretary job in the buzzing city of Dublin. A few drinks later, all she has to show for her new life is an embarrassing one-night stand and a dollop of flirtatious banter with her boss Ciaran, who just happens to have a predatory receptionist in hot pursuit of him.

Amidst plans of preventing such a merger, Rebecca receives news that Jennifer’s picture perfect life has a big, fat crack down the middle of it in the form of a philandering husband. Summoned home to look after her sister’s children and cooking school while she works on her marriage, Rebecca finds the reality of looking after two young children along with the bizarre array of guests booked into the cooking school grim. The only bright spot on her horizon are Ciaran’s e-mails but then she meets David Seagar whom she thinks might just be the ending to her happy ever after but will he prove to be far from perfect too?

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1494802112

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1494802112

Author Bio –

bty

Hello, my name is Michelle Vernal, and by way of introduction, I’m Mum to Josh and Daniel and am married to the super supportive Paul. We live in the garden city of Christchurch, New Zealand with our three-legged, black cat called Blue. BC (before children) Paul and I lived and worked in Ireland, the experiences we had there have flavoured my books.

I’ve always written, but it was only after my first son was born that I decided to attend a creative writing course at Canterbury University. Oh the guilt dropping him at pre-school so I could learn the basics of story writing, but oh the joy of having conversation to contribute other than the price of nappies that week!  The first piece I ever penned post course was published by a New Zealand parenting magazine. I went on to write humorous; opinion styled pieces of my take on parenting, but when the necessity for being politically correct got too much, I set myself the challenge of writing a novel. Six books later and a publishing deal with Harper Impulse here I am. These days I write for a North Canterbury lifestyle magazine and my latest book Sweet Home Summer has just been released by Harper Impulse.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/michellevernalnovelist/inbox/

https://twitter.com/michellevernal

https://www.instagram.com/vernalmichelle/

This is a thoroughly enjoyable cosy mystery set in Maine, although we get to find out a few other countries such as Egypt and the Sudan, and it all starts with a tourist ride on the Penhallow and Mooseland Lake Railway. What a wonderful name!

Rachel Tinker is a volunteer on the railway – she sells the tickets – so when a dead body is found on the train when it returns to base, she’s involved in inquiries. Her long-time colleague, the prickly Griffin Tate, a retired professor of Middle Easter history, becomes involved too as it seems that the Queen of Sheba may be behind all the murky deeds. Rachel and Griffin are drawn closer during their investigations. They make for an interesting and feisty pair. They’re both strong-willed, witty and, despite themselves, attracted to each other but Griffin has constructed a hard shell around himself and Rachel is under no illusions about the guy. Besides, Rachel is self-sufficient and has plenty of friends so doesn’t especially need a man in her life. But he is so very good looking…

So there’s banter and attraction alongside the delvings into dark doings with a link with the distant past. We encounter a wide cast of intriguing characters, all rounded and convincing. The story is very clever and the writing is lively. You’re kept guessing all the way through.

I’m looking forward to reading more books by this excellent author.

The book begins with the warning “Never meet your heroes”, since they have a tendency to turn out rather disappointing in real life, and initially that definitely seems to be the case for the narrator of this book. He has travelled to Greece to meet  his idol, the Greek author Irakles Bastounis. Bastounis is an era-defining author who has brushed shoulders with many others and been married to Miss Venezuela, amongst other wives. Not surprisingly our young man, whose name we never learn, is daunted when his dream actually comes true and so he fluffs up his initial meeting with the literary giant. However, he gets a second chance when Bastounis commands, not asks, him to drive him somewhere. This one somewhere becomes many as the two form an unlikely partnership as they travel through Greece together to places with significance in Greek mythology. “Myths are our roots,” according to Bastounis.

Another quote from the book is “Acclaim is a dangerous currency”, but I hope the author won’t mind if I acclaim his work. It’s compulsive reading and is rich and multi-layered. Throughout this excellent story are references to the twelve labours of Heracles (Hercules). Bastounis and his chauffeur share the same physical journey but embark on separate spiritual journeys, both facing their own labours – challenges they need to tackle. It’s probably our narrator who gets the most out of them, but Bastounis isn’t far behind. They learn more about each other too, and initially what the young man learns about his companion isn’t flattering. Opinionated, rude, privacy-invading, outspoken – other than an amazing way with words Bastounis doesn’t seem to have much going for him. However, perhaps this is another one of our young man’s challenges: to see beneath the surface, to see what’s really there in front of you.

As we and Bastounis discover, our narrator isn’t as insipid as he might first appear. He’s witty, wry, very observant and while it’s true he has a lot to learn, he’s definitely the man for this job as he’s receptive to all that Greece and Basounis have to offer him. He realises neither family nor friends will appreciate the enormity of what he’s going through with his irascible companion. They just think he’s wasting his time bumming around in Greece but he’s aware that it’s them living the vacuous, shallow lives.

This book gives you much to think about. Who actually is the real hero here, the Heracles? Our narrator or Bastounis? And who’s Cerberus? Cerberus was the three-headed Hound of Hades. It was his job to stop the dead escaping from the underworld. So if he’s collared, that means presumably that these lost souls can break free. They can live again. Does collaring our young man to act as his chauffeur allow Bastounis a last chance to make his mark, or by befriending and de-clawing Bastounis is it our narrator who can run from the shadows into the light?

As well as such fascinating teasing, there are wonderful, vibrant characters and vivid settings in the book that captivate. You’ll find the sights and soul of Greece within these pages. A marvellous novel.  

(Published by Thistle Publishing, available from Amazon stores.)