Archive for August, 2019

Beginning to End

Paul Hughes

The real story of ‘swinging’ London in the wild and crazy 1960’s as seen through the eyes of two New Scotland Yard detectives – D I Andy Spearing and D S Kevin Devlin. (Book 1 in the series) – Drugs and booze flow like rivers resulting in depravity and corruption from the highest levels in the UK establishment down to the common working man. For some the 1960’s were their halcyon days, but for so many others it was the start of a fall into depravity and those were the lucky ones who survived!


An Interview with Paul Hughes

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
It is mostly being able to create characters and mould their lives.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
It started out with Detective Devlin as I had an affinity with him coming from the Glasgow area in Scotland. As I developed the Detective Spearing character I began to like him more as does Detective Devlin in the storyline. Then I began to develop the character of ‘The Fox’ – the assassin and now waver between all three.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
To be honest it started with a glass of wine with lunch as I continued writing into the afternoon, but the glass turned to a few glasses, so nowadays it is usually tea!

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Lots, but the main one is lack of concentration on the immediate story line – usually my mind wanders into how I develop the story and I continually have to pull myself back to the immediate story line.

How do you research your books?
The first three books in the series I used personal experiences in the music business with groups in the 60’s and 70’s, plus friends who worked with New Scotland Yard. I also used my work experience in the defence industry. I also used Google a lot to help with dates and happenings.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
To be honest a bit of both – I usually have a basic plot, but as the plot develops I do play a lot by the seat of my pants!

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
A world without religion or hate. I don’t think I have to say why?

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Detective Bosh from Michael Connelly books – A real character with all the human failings – not a super hero.

Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: May 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 391
Genre: Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Adventures of Billy Bog Brush: The Lost Boy

Ian Campbell and Tim Constable

While Billy is out for a walk, he comes across a lady who is looking rather worried. Offering to help, he discovers that her son hasn’t come home for his tea when he should have. Billy, who knows all the places where the local children go to play, suggests that he could look for him, which leads to an adventure involving various people and places in his home town, Flushington! In this intriguing story Billy once again demonstrates his willingness to help others and work out a way to do something which at first seems beyond him.


A Fascinating Morale Boosting Story

Having read and enjoyed the first book in this series, I was excited to find out that there was going to be a second book published. The Lost Boy goes a little bit deeper than the first book and I think I liked it just a little bit more for that very reason. It was a very interesting read as we follow Billy Bog Brush helping out a mother who has lost her son. On his adventures this time, Billy helps and is helped by a multitude of characters which really boosts how good it is to help others. This book definitely has an uplifting message and I think that a lot of children would be able to take a lot away from this book – it is certainly one that would allow you to talk to your child about helping others.

Overall, a wonderful read and one that I would definitely recommend.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: August 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 40
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Children
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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There’s A Giraffe In My Bath

Louise Andrews

When four toy animals come to life, they become unlikely friends. The toys try to help each other out in a fun bath time adventure. But they might just need some extra help..! There’s A Giraffe In My Bath! is the first story for children between the ages of 3 and 6 by Louise Andrews. Illustrations are by Nick Roberts.


A Fun Rhyming Read

I cannot lie to you. I absolutely adored this book. It read really well with a wonderful rhyme that rolls of the tongue and was full of bright and beautiful illustrations that bring the whole story to life. This book tells the story of a Giraffe falling into the bath and the rest of the toys on the bath’s edge, trying to save the poor Giraffe. It is full of imagination and I am positive that it will be a true delight to hundreds of children as they try and make their own bath times just as fun and creative.

I highly recommend this book so go and make sure you get a copy now!

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: July 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 20
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Children
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Big Boys Cry

Charlotte Moncrieff and Helena Maxwell

It’s Billy’s seventh birthday and no one is more excited than he is to finally be a big boy! At the park later that day, Billy finds himself in tears after getting hurt in a small accident. When a passing stranger scolds him, telling him that ‘Big Boys don’t cry – only silly ones do’, Billy questions what it means to be a big boy. Thankfully, Mum and Dad and some new friends help Billy understand that crying is normal and that everyone does it, including some of Billy’s favourite and most admired members of his family.
For many boys today, there is a fear that expressing emotion is seen as a sign of weakness. This only becomes more evident as they move from boyhood into adolescence.
This book helps parents frame emotions in a positive light, normalising the idea that all boys cry, whether they are seven years old, in the armed forces, a fireman or a father – all big boys cry, it does not make them silly!


A Powerful Important Read

It’s so important to ensure that boys and men are aware that it is okay to be sad and to cry when they need to and I definitely think that this book is a good stepping stone towards having open and honest conversations about it. It is set out in a way that makes it easy to talk to the child while you’re reading it. It shows children, both boys and girls, that is is okay to cry no matter your age or gender. Everyone cries and it’s okay to do so.

As well as an important discussion, the book is also colourful and fun and I think that it will go down really well with children. I definitely recommend this book as one to read with your kids as well, as it is something that should definitely be spoken about carefully and frankly. It is time that we change how society views mental health – especially when it comes to males and this book is definitely a stepping stone in the right direction.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: July 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 26
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Children
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Scotland and Aye

Sophia Wasiak Butler

What could possibly go wrong when a London girl, (or penniless student armed with a hefty collection of literary gems), falls in love with a much older and dashing Scotsman, and tries her hand at goat-keeping, vegetable growing and life in a tiny Scottish hamlet?!
Sophia Wasiak Butler grew up as an inner-city London teen who always fostered a dream of country life. After graduating from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne University with her English Literature degree in her pocket, deaf to the unappealing and empty promises of the rat-race, she invites us to accompany her as she takes the daring jump into a world where the universal melds seamlessly with the personal. The path is bursting with literary sages, Eastern wisdom, the gritty reality of dirt-stained nails, self-reflection and a good dose of common sense on this adventure, always interwoven through the multicultural tapestry which defines the author.


An Interview with Sophia Wasiak Butler

Why did you write this book?
My book started it’s life as a series of articles in a newspaper. The editors thought that the subject of a newly graduated London-girl moving to remote hamlet in the Scottish countryside had it’s merit in times of economic hardship and recession. And so, my monthly column began. Writing on demand with serious deadlines and a stern editor, are wonderful things for somebody without discipline and a solid routine! Little did I know, that writing was my life-saving companion, along with cheap wine and cigarettes! I found myself seriously balancing on the tightrope of love and life. It was unknown territory and I was insecure on all fronts. And then, a magical thing happened. Readers started to respond to my story, to the point that I got advice on small-holding, life-long penpals and invitations to other let’s say ‘pastures’! Writing became my life, and my life made sense because of it.
This transition into ‘real life’, (however that looks for each of us), felt so personal at the time, but I have come to realise, it is a fundamental moment, which marks a before and an after for all of us. That’s why I wanted to share it.

What was your favourite part of writing this book?
My answer now is different to when I was writing the book. At that time, writing became my outlet, the way in which I processed life. Re-discovering writing as a primal need for me was incredibly special, after churning out essays and dissertations on command at university.

At this moment, I am supremely grateful to have been able to leave a tangible chronicle of my first steps into being a grown woman. As much of a cliché as it may sound, it is when we affront what we are carrying in our ‘backpack’, whilst juggling ideas of what life is ‘meant’ to be. At which point we step on a rake and come face to face with what is really there.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
No hesitation on this one! Definitely red wine.
After leaving my ‘Lambrini’ student tastes behind, I was determined to join the realm of writerly sophistication, after being impacted by the words of Galileo: “Wine is sunlight, held together by water”, and those of Hemingway, “Wine…offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” I began a journey!
Countless bottles were put to the test, (even the odd unforgivable carton), to hone a decent palate. I arrived to the conclusion that I favour a chilled glass of pinot noir on a summer’s evening, or a heavier rioja on a winter’s night. However, now that I live in Galicia, I enjoy Mencia (red wine) when it’s nippy outdoors and a chilled glass of crisp cava when it’s hot. It’s worth mentioning that both are best when accompanied by Galician octopus and Padron peppers!

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Yes, when I’m writing mode, I’m uncharacteristically unsociable. The first sign is glasses, not contacts and the most crucial is the donning of the bright-orange beret. This ensures that I will not leave the house!

For me, the creative process is intrinsically hermitic. It is lonely. Often we forget what stirs within, whether it be a creative idea, or our own feelings. All reflection requires silence. Thankfully, my stoic companion who lays by my feet, is fluent in hermit, mantras, Polish, English, Spanish and non-verbal communication! He also comes with an inbuilt timer for playtime!
I live in awe of writers with such self-discipline as Isabel Allende who writes for an allotted time each day and produces a novel per year on average.

How would you entice people to read your book?
I hope that my book encourages people to take a chance in life and to help them not to go where the world is going, out of inertia, but where they want to go. Live your dreams, don’t just dream them, test them out! If you find that they are a huge disappointment, that they are no longer relevant, or that they evaporated the second they manifested: make new dreams. And if people ask: how many times can you start over? Be sure to tell them, ‘As many times as it takes’. When you don’t like the world around you, or you are stagnant, it’s time to change it. If you find yourself fighting for something which you believe in, and all around oppose you, be more stubborn than a mountain full of donkeys and find nourishment from others of the same mind.

The dreaded ‘unlived’ life must surely be the biggest regret. Don’t let it be yours.

Do you think you’ll write any other books?
It’s like pulling on a loose thread in a tapestry…you can’t stop!
Life certainly doesn’t cease to surprise me and I find myself cured of searching for that intangible feeling of home, in a 135 year-old traditional stone house in Galicia, Northern Spain. This is where I want to be and I wish to share the wonders of the Spanish “Fiesta Siesta and Manana” with my readers, so watch this space…

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Definitely one where animals could talk and good prevails! I would happily live with the hobbits or the elves in Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’, just as I would go to Narnia, my dog is actually called Aslan in homage! I think that we crave a connection with the natural world which peoples before us have always had.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?

It would definitely be Mary Shelley’s creature in ‘Frankenstein’. He is the embodiment of the innate innocence and vulnerability of all children and his journey is the one we all go through. I would talk to him for encouragement, and then to his creator Viktor Frankenstein, because his rejection of responsibility and subsequent victimisation of himself is a story which has not ceased to repeat itself. So many people live with the childhood wounds which Viktor inflicted on his ‘child’ and these things mark us so strongly that we continue to perpetrate the cycle ad infinitum.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: July 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 140
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Counterplay

Dennis Norman

Karl has been stealing money from Tesanee. When he realises that she has uncovered his deceit, he flees.
Tesanee’s son Ashley, furious about the betrayal, approaches a close friend of his late father, Alain, and asks him to find Karl and retrieve Tes’s money.
Alain has nothing much to do and is happy to honour his dead friend’s memory by helping his wife.
Alain and his brother set off together to track down Karl and confront him. Each time they close in, Karl manages to outsmart them, and disappears.
A game of cat and mouse is set in play. Alain has no idea what he’s let himself in for.


Favourite Things About my Protagonists

by Dennis Norman

The main protagonists in this story are Alain and Toby Dansen.

My favourite things about Alain are he is quiet and unassuming with a soft heart but he is also brave, with a tough exterior and a sense of humour. If he could he would help everyone but knows he can’t. I like his never say die attitude, striving to complete any task through the toughest opponents or the biggest obstacles. He also has a quick mind, unlike mine. He’s a problem solver with an opinion on everything from right to wrong. He is noble and thinks he ‘Does the Right Thing’. If he can solve something by himself, he will, if he can’t solve it, he will persuade someone to help him. He is good with people.

The thing is he’s not cut out to be Superman. He is a thinker, not a body builder or a fighter. He is a scene setter, working in the movie industry where nothing is real. He is an ordinary guy, husband, father. However, when his friends need him, he will go out of his way to help.

He loves gadgets and uses them extensively, not big flashy gadgets like the Bond movies but the small subtle ones that hide in plain sight. He has no interested in expensive cars or clothes or guns.

He’s not Mr perfect though by any means. He needs to support his family, so he has a price. If he thinks the task is a worthy one, he will work out a way to benefit from his solution.

He likes to spend time by himself, but his biggest fear is loneliness, he wants everyone to like him in some way. This is all in his mind as his character won’t allow him to be. He is a very likeable person, somebody somewhere will always like or even love him.
I like to think there is a bit of every hero in Alain. I suppose I wish I was him.

Then there is Toby. He is the opposite of Alain, he’s tall, strong and likes a fight. He literally would do anything for Alain. He’s supposed to be Alain’s bodyguard/minder but he’s not making a very good job of it. He likes a joke and keeps cracking them right through the story. He is honourable and cares for his brother dearly. So much so he gets upset when he feels he’s let him down. He also loves his wife and gets embarrassed when Alain askes him to dinner with another woman to make a foursome.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: July 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 180
Genre: Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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