Archive for the ‘Adult’ Category

Into The Summerland

Julian Cundy

The eternal question – what happens when we die? Is there a consequence from how we lived? Is there a reckoning?
Henry Ashton’s turbulent life is at an end. As he moves on from this world, he discovers how elusive the final peace can be.
With a spirit companion by his side, Henry learns there can be no peace without reconciliation, no rest without acceptance. He must walk his own path to absolution.
“For some souls the transition from mortal life to eternal peace is an easy one, soon completed. For others, who have been troubled in their life or who cannot reconcile the events and their part in them, the journey is longer…and harder. But every soul will find its rest.”

What is your favourite thing about writing books? Who is your favourite character in your book and why? What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
My favourite thing when writing books is that moment when you hit the synergy. You’ve got the idea, you’ve figured out how you are going to express it and – finally – you’ve got the right words to set down. I have been sitting chuckling away to myself, sometimes with tears, sometimes with electricity crackling in my veins at that moment when it all comes together.
That’s when you don’t care if it’s a best seller or just one that your Mum likes. It’s the moment that you validate yourself as a writer and enjoy the achievement.
In a wider sense, the great thing about writing books is that you have time and space to develop your ideas, opinions and present them in a measured way. In the heat of discussion, debate, argument and confrontation it is often hard to remain focused. At the desk, you can take your time, articulate your thoughts and let the words flow.
My favourite character in my new novella Into the Summerland is the main protagonist Henry. He has all attributes we admire and find frustrating in the war baby generation: Stoic and principled, stubborn and prejudiced. His development and eventual reclamation, whilst keeping his dignity intact is what I’d wish for to all those souls.
My favourite writing drink is tea (of course!) Steaming hot, strong with a little sugar to taste.
If I’m wanting to relax my mind into the nocturnal zone, I will quaff some Southern Comfort with Coke.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Since I quit smoking (5 years and counting!) I’ve been on the look-out for a new bad habit.
Since most of my downtime waiting for the next burst of inspiration involves walking miles and miles along the Essex coast, I don’t really suffer from indulging in any foodie treats.
I guess the worst thing that those around would say is that when I’m in the writing mindset, I get real tunnel vision to the point that the house could be on fire and I’d keep typing. But they’re all pretty considerate and I do take everyone out to dinner to celebrate once it’s all done!

How do you research your books?
With Into the Summerland there were many references to faiths both old and new. Not overtly, I wanted to keep them subtle! But it’s critical if you are going to stray into areas that are special to people that you get it right. The old religions as well as new ones, along with general philosophies and modern life coaching tips have more in common than their followers would admit, but woe betide you for a misplaced edict! My collection of online bookmarks and library of reference books grew quite a lot during that period.
If I’m writing in the ‘real’ world then I spend a lot of time checking timetables for planes, trains and ferries. Time zones, languages and currencies all have to be right if you want to be taken seriously when writing an international thriller.
It’s also always good fun to go out and meet the experts where you can. I walked into Chelmsford Police station a few years ago to check the exact wording of a caution, much to the desk sergeant’s bemusement. Maybe I should have reflected that “You do not have to say anything…”
On a very practical level, when I’m reviewing the manuscript, I’ll make sure the story is hanging together, whilst drawing big blue crosses next to the entries where something needs to be checked. It’s important to get things right, but not as important as making sure you’ve written a great story!

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
When I get the first sketch of an idea, I figure out how it’s going to start and end. What the key plot slices are and which characters need to end up where. Then it’s just a case of how they all get there.
Which I guess makes me the classic Planster. I need the signposts, but I need freedom so the story can be flexible.
I can’t imagine having everything worked out in advance. That would be too restrictive. But I can’t imagine an open-ended writing odyssey without even the slightest notion of a destination.
When writing a previous book, things were really not working out right. I’d completed the manuscript but wasn’t happy. So I changed the ending, removed a couple of chapters and gave one of the main characters a wife.
All of which needed new back stories and a new plot line to get the now-married character to the critical part of the story. As well as a forensic line-by-line re-examination for impacts.
It was at times tortuous, but I came out with a much better book. Upshot being I guess that I need to work on my inner panster!

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
As my Steampunk style would suggest, something within the 19th century, where the worlds of Charles Dickens and HG Wells would come together in a cacophony of social rectitude and dazzling, anarchic adventure!
I’d revel in the exchanges of social niceties, knowing the underlying tensions that crackle under the surface. I’d join the mad inventors, reaching to the skies and beyond in challenging all known laws of physics, time and gravity.
I’d pick from the finest collection of gentleman’s attire and walk out along the fine streets of London, then donate the rest to the desperately poor that even to this day still live among us.
I’d attend the presentations of the most overblown, sumptuous launches, toasting the lunatics pledging to venture to the moon and back before the smoky chimes of Big Ben call all good subjects to their beds.
There must be fun, or life has no meaning. And there must be compassion or life has no purpose.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities. A tragic hero. A waster who falls in love with Lucie Manette, already pledged and then married to Charles Darnay.
Sydney has no time for social niceties and apparently has no concern over how he is perceived. His careless manner belies the relentless drive – initially we believe catapulting him towards an early demise.
Whatever Dickens plugged into to bring this fascinating character to life, I recognise and understand totally. In a world that requires conformity, the rebel shall find mischief, mirth but a long road to peace.
His triumph – and final valediction is by laying down his life for the man who makes his true love happy. He has no affection for Darnay, but complete devotion to his unattainable wife.
I’m sure that Sydney would be highly suspicious, if not highly amused by my interest in him. But he would be splendid company. And spending an evening with a bowl of punch in a tavern with him would be wonderful!

About the Author

Living in Westcliff-on-Sea Essex, Julian Cundy is a British adventurer, dedicated day dreamer, wordsmith and observer of life and all its absurdities. He is a recognisable character in his home town thanks to his eye-catching outfits comprising fine hats, cravats, tails and spats.

Publisher: Little Bang Publishing
Publication Date: March 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 77
Genre: Spiritual
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

The Past is Present

Kathleen Webb

After the untimely death of her mother and father, twenty-four year old Catherine Morgan leaves the Cambridge home where she has spent the better part of her life, to move to Cornwall. She takes a job as a teacher, working in an old rambling school which has been converted from a domestic home, perched high up on a hilltop, overlooking the beautiful Cornish coastline.
Out of the blue a letter arrives from a bank in Switzerland, advising Catherine that she is the sole heir to a fortune of over thirty million dollars. With no living relatives, save for a great aunt in the USA, Catherine sets out to uncover the source of this staggering inheritance, and to unravel the mystery that lies behind it.
With the help of her great aunt, Catherine begins to dig deep into long forgotten family secrets. Strange dreams begin to plague her. She is haunted by the eerie feeling that someone from her family’s past is trying to help her. Catherine must work to make sense of the past while defending herself, and her fortune, from someone in the present who will stop at nothing to secure the money for themselves.
The Past is Present is the debut novel by Kathleen Webb.

My favourite thing about writing books
I think my favourite aspect of writing is plotting the story line. All the twist and turns gradually come together and the characters come to life!

My favourite character in my book
My favourite character in my book is Great Aunt Izzy. She is quirky and a little eccentric. At the age of 83 she wears long Laura Ashley floral frocks, floppy hats and trainers, but she is highly intelligent and quite canny!

My favourite drink while writing
My favourite drink when I write is a nice cup of tea, several in fact, together with a slice of homemade cake!

Bad habits whilst writing
The only bad habit I think I have is ‘grazing’. I tend to graze on nuts, chopped fruit, dates etc. It helps me concentrate on the plot and keeps my energy levels up. Not good for the waistline!!

How do I research
I research nearly all information on line. I do have a set of encyclopaedias which I refer to from time to time.

Am I a plotter or a pantser
I am definitely a plotter. I devise the beginning and the end and fill in the body of the story as I go along.

Which fictional world would I live in?
I would live in the world of St. Mary Meade; the village in which Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple lives. This period of history is fascinating and the village looks beautiful.

Which fictional character would I befriend?
This would definitely be Miss Marple. She is such an interesting clever character. She comes across as unassuming, but has a wonderful knack of solving all the mysteries.

About the Author

Living in Hertfordshire, Kathleen Webb has always held a passion for writing and since retiring she’s finally found the time to realise her dream and complete her first novel. When not writing she can be found spending quality time with her grandchildren and children and baking delicious decorative cakes.

Publisher: ClinkStreet Publishing
Publication Date: June 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256
Genre: Contemporary Horror
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

Fabulous Riders

Ryan Bloodworth

Hackney, east London in the early 90’s and jungle music —a fusion of Caribbean culture, rave music and the multicultural city itself— is erupting from its roots to capture the imagination of people from all walks of life. Raves are taking over the city’s underground music scene and the likes of M-Beat, General Levy and Kenny Ken are dominating the pirate radio stations. People are queueing down the street on Saturday nights to enter Paradise Club in Islington, continuing the party on Sundays at Thunder & Joy on Tottenham Court Road and later would be lining up to listen to early Fabio and Grooverider at Rage, Charing Cross. Amongst the energetic beats blaring out across the city, east Londoner and DJ Alex, of Jamaican descent, is adding his own sound to the mix alongside his mate Nathan.
Through their shared love of music and nights spent at the cutting houses a strong and beautiful friendship arises. But with the rave scene of the 90’s came the pills, certain rivalries and the ‘haters’. And one night, Nathan discovers Alex in his flat in a state of psychotic paranoia…

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I write at night and I love the feeling of being cocooned in my living room exploring the depths of my mind. I usually read for a couple of hours and then I will write further into the night. I love how ideas create themselves as my writing progresses – the writing takes on a life of its own and I feel a great sense of satisfaction from thoroughly expressing myself.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Naturally, my favourite character is Alex – who is the main focus of the novel. Many of my heroes are Black musicians; this includes John Coltrane, Bob Marley, and many Blues and Jazz musicians. I also have more contemporary heroes from Drum and Base music and Detroit Techno with DJs such as Fabio and Grooverider, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. Quite honestly, I am very impressed with these people as men. They are truly great men. I wanted to express this admiration through the character Alex and illustrate how we have a firm basis for friendship.

What is your favourite drink to consume while your writing?
I drink lots of coffee! This is partly to get me through the night but also I like a caffeine buzz to get my mind working.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Yes I do. I smoke. I find smoking very helpful to get my mind working and I like to contemplate with a cigarette.

How do you research your books?
I spend several hours a day reading anything from philosophy to history and politics. I also listen to a lot of music. I find the best way to learn about anything is to have a real interest in the subject. I find learning about history and music a great pleasure. This way I retain a lot of information.

Are you a plotter or a panter?
This is my first novel and really I think I am still developing my writing technique. Having said that, my general approach to writing a novel is to firstly spend a lot of time thinking creatively about it. Whether I’m watching TV or driving, I’ll spend hours just thinking about what I want to write. I then read and research widely. I start writing when I feel I have a good idea of what I want to write – I may write several drafts as I hone my writing. I do not strictly plot my novels – I really like my writing to take on a creative energy in the moment and I see what comes out. I like to write in a way that an improvising jazz musician would play.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
I am a huge Tolkien fan. It would be great to explore the world of the Lord of the Rings. It is a mythical world full of wonders and magic. I like to think of myself as something of an ancient warrior. Although, I might find the orcs a bit scary!

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Again, as a Tolkien fan it would be a character in the Lord of the Rings. It is very hard to choose between the central heroes of Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragon. I think perhaps I would choose Aragon as I have a great love for the archetypal warrior heroes. I would like to be a guest in Gondor and enjoy the splendour of his Kingship.

About the Author

Ryan Bloodworth lives in Surrey, UK. He has studied western philosophy at academic level and has an interest in Eastern religions and spirituality. Since clubbing in the 90s, Ryan has developed a love and vast knowledge of electronic dance music. From Detroit Techno to UK Drum n Bass, Ryan has sought to bring these inspiring music forms into his writing..

Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: March 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 159
Genre: Contemporary
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

The World is Never Enough

Sarah Donohue

This is the action packed story of a female racing driver and stuntwoman who lives life on the edge and enjoys every extreme moment of it… A thrill-seeker by day and glamorous showgirl by night, Sarah Donohue believes in living out her dreams and living life to the full bringing colour and laughter to the lives of everyone around her.
Even after a high-speed powerboat crash putting her on a life-support machine, Sarah didn’t let dying for four minutes or a face held together by titanium plates dampen her spirits. The crash was documented as one of the worst crashes seen in powerboat racings history yet Sarah returned back to racing with BBC’s ‘999’ and ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ hiring her as the stuntwoman to re-enact her own near fatal experience. Soon after she became the European powerboat champion. Her journey of triumph over adversity is both inspiring and extreme.
This story of life will take the reader through a roller coaster of emotions as Sarah experiences the highest of highs on podium tops to the lowest of lows as she suffers jealous cyber abusers. The funny stories recalled as a forces pinup and staunch supporter of the military through to the not so funny story of Sarah enduring Donald Trump, the now president of the United States of America and his legal team for almost four years.
This feisty girl from Yorkshire loves life and puts as much into it as she can whilst taking anything it throws back at her remaining positive and up beat. This shows that even the impossible can be made possible with the right attitude no matter who you are or where you come from. A motivational, funny and inspirational book showing one woman’s journey on taking on any challenge head to head and her world-renowned success in the male dominated sport of offshore powerboat racing. Even death becomes her.

What was your favourite thing about writing The World is Never Enough?
For me the best thing about writing The World Is Never Enough was recalling events and stories. I took a notebook everywhere I went and when I remembered something I wrote it down.
One memory led to another memory which would then spark off even more memories and in the life of racing in an all male environment or doing stunt work there are so many stories that unless you were there would have hard time believing they were true.
I loved that stories once buried and forgotten could be remembered and injected with life and I would telephone my race friends who were a part of the story to make sure they were happy for me to use their real names. They would then jolt my memory into other stories and it was almost like reliving the past and the best moments of my life. Writing it has had me laughing out loud at some points and remembering friends past and present with great fondness.

How important is it to you that women feel empowered in life?
Women feeling empowered is very important. I come from a childhood where I was brought up with 6 boys and then I started racing powerboats which is male dominated, so I have never felt any form of weakness or that of being afraid or lacking in anything. I have always been incredibly confident where if people couldn’t see me they could hear me. Nothing had ever bothered me, even my racing crash had little effect, only the cyber abuse hit me hard. I was naturally a powerful female without even knowing it.
It was when I started running Miss Galaxy Universe which was an athletics show for women I realised just how much normal life affected so many women and how many women seemed broken in some way. I then geared my show into an empowerment show and changed many aspects to be able to assess, help and give strength and knowledge to those that needed it by motivating them. Myself and my team changed the lives of 100s of women over the years and gave them a new outlook in life, taught them how to walk with their head held high.
One woman who had cried her heart out the first day I met her and ran out of the class because she was so scared about being in the same room as other women she deemed stronger than herself, I spent much time with. A matter of months went by and she was a changed person and soon burst into one of our fitness and motivation classes with the joys of spring saying hello to everyone and told me she had left her husband, quit her job, moved out of the house she shared with him and had a new job and was feeling great!
I have tons of stories like this. I love it when a girl grabs life and shakes it and changes direction releasing herself from the shackles and becomes stronger. I also loved the fact that my girls always worked as a team. A group of girls is very powerful and they inject strength into each other. Empowering females is what I’m most proud of because myself and my team did it so well and helped so many achieve goals and overcome obstacles and self-doubt.

What is your favourite thing about powerboat racing?
My favourite part of racing has always been the lads I race with. Depending where you race and what you race depends who you meet but all the guys all over the world are amazing. All my closest friends past and present are racers. I never met a racer I didn’t like and I have such a laugh with all of them as I have the same sense of humour being brought up with six boys. We always joke and say powerboating gets in the way of a really good weekend.
The post race banter and drinks is always fun and I just feel at home when I’m with the lads, there isn’t a safer or more comfortable place I could be than with them, all of them and as time moves on and as they retire I miss them but still keep in contact.

What advice would you give to a female who wants to learn how to powerboat race?
If there is a female wanting to race then I am more than happy for her to contact me via my website. I can then put her in touch with someone who gives opportunities but they have to work hard and it will be a different type of racing than I do but more accessible.
Remember it will take up all your weekends with training and preparing or being away at races. Your races will be all over the UK so don’t expect glam locations and hot weather. It gets cold and wet and miserable however the enjoyment out weighs all of that.
Even girls new in the sport will have to pay their own way unless they have someone who can sponsor them, but it would be rare to get a sponsor if they are new. So always remember even if you are taken on to trial to see if you like it. Accommodation, travel and expenses will always be your own. But if you aren’t willing to shell out when the real costs are being covered then the sport isn’t for you. Powerboat racing is about long hard days, but it’s also the most wonderful community of amazing people and is a huge family.
There isn’t a school to learn to race, in reality you either need to know someone who races or have money. You won’t be handed anything on a plate.

Do you have a favourite race that you’ve participated in?
A favourite race is a hard one to choose. No two races are the same and every event is special for different reasons. In one of the chapters I talk about a race with Martin Lai I think in Portugal where I tensed and made myself a small target whilst in the boat going at speed because I thought we were pretty much dead as my steering had broken. I loved the near death experience and the rush I got when it was over and we were still alive. It was so funny.
Favourite races aren’t always about being on the water and winning and being on that podium. Winning the European title was great, but sometimes it’s the fun we have in and around the pits and I think that all my favourite races have been in Italy because I love the Italian racers and they always treat me like a sister and for me that’s important. We know that every time we get in a boat it’s going to be exciting and we will get the desired adrenaline rush, so sometimes the camaraderie teamed with the weather and hospitality makes the entire event special.

About the Author

Born and raised in Saddleworth, Yorkshire born Sarah Donohue has enjoyed over twenty five years competing as a powerboat racer, and is currently the most successful female competitor within the sport. She’ll be returning to race again this year in the US and Hong Kong as the face of the Asia Powerboat Series. As well as racing, Sarah is a qualified personal trainer, international Tri-Fitness champion and, between the years of 2011-2017, created and ran the annual Miss Galaxy Universe fitness competitions in the UK.

Publisher: Deringer Publishing
Publication Date: June 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 232
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

Life Satisfaction: A Scientists Guide

Dr Leo Lafferty-Whyte

Feeling Stuck? Sick of trying to improve your life only to give up half way or, worse, not feel much better when you get there? Then this approach is for you! In this tale of two halves Dr. Leo presents his no-nonsense Triple ‘H’ approach to improving your life satisfaction. In the first part of the book you’ll be provided with everything you need to identify the areas to work on for maximum results: you will set goals and install the framework around them for lasting success! In the second part you will read Leo’s personal journey using the Triple ‘H’ approach, documenting the successes and challenges he faced along the way and the astounding results he got in just four weeks

About the Author

Dr Leo Lafferty-Whyte grew up in the North East of Scotland in the 80’s and 90’s. Leo’s young life was traumatic in a number of ways. Sexually abused at the age of 5 he blocked out much of his younger childhood to allow him to survive the trauma. As a teenager he suffered mental and physical abuse on a daily basis simply for being gay. Fellow students would spit on, kick punch and shout at him every day. Over the years it escalated to assaults and attempted murder. Despite the abuse he was blessed with an attitude of not letting them win and work hard to gain the qualifications that would allow him to move on to a better life.

He used his past traumas to fuel his hunger for self improvement and adopted the life goal of leaving the world a better place than when he entered it.

Upon the death of his beloved grandfather he decided to do that by entering science and trying to contribute to the knowledge that may one day lead to effective treatments for cance. Upon leaving home he therefore went to university in Aberdeen to study Genetics and Immunology and later a PhD in Molecular Oncology at the University of Glasgow. After publishing multiple scientific publications and a successful PhD he entered the industrial and commercial side of science with an aim of helping as many scientists as possible be successful in their research either through provision of services, information or support. During his time in industry he has held roles in direct customer support, global support management, sales and as director of a product division. Throughout his scientific career Leo had used various life coaches to help him to grow and remain motivated towards his goals. In 2015 he worked with Aaron Swales from Virtual Trainer to finally beat his weight issues. Brimming with new found self-belief, and after several years management experience, Leo realized that his true skill was in coaching and mentoring people to success. This was a further way to meet his life goal and help improve the world one person at a time.

Leo therefore went on to study and receive his life coaching accreditation and launch Triple ‘H’ Coaching in Glasgow in 2016. He quickly noticed however that not everyone could afford a coach but everyone would benefit from one. Leo therefore aimed to try and find ways to help as many people as possible through coaching without the barrier of fees for most. As well as providing one to one paid and pro bono coaching, Leo launched the Triple H Coaching mobile app in 2016. By providing videos and exercises for free in the app Leo aimed to ensure that life coaching was available to everyone without the often high barrier of fees. He also continues to provide frequent tips and tricks by video through social media as well as 7 days free coaching to members of his Facebook group: I DESERVE more! In 2017 Leo’s past traumas caught up with him and he suffered a serious mental health crisis leading him to put a pause on coaching until he recovered in 2018. Diagnosed with PTSD he underwent extensive therapy and found the healing powers of writing. He undertook an exercise to air his deamons by writing his traumas and then addressing himself at those times with advise in the form of letters. The exercise went on to form his first book, Reliving the Past to Release the Present. This surprisingly hit the top 10 ranking in kindle LGBT true Life stories shortly after publication. Leo launched his second book, Life Satisfaction: A Scientist’s Guide on the 5th of May 2018 where he shares his life coaching methodologies that have been developed over the course of 20 years, alongside his own success story in applying them.

With a PhD in Molecular Oncology as well as an experienced accredited Life Coach Leo brings an unusual mix of scientific and motivational tones to his work alongside an often humourous and captivating voice. Leo’s coaching methodologies try to bring a light tone to what could otherwise be heavy work and his autobiography makes light from the darkness by pulling out lessons learned that others can learn from without experiencing the trauma.

Leo currently lives in North Ayrshire with his partner of 12 years and Newfoundland “Bear” (who is also the Chief Executive Animal of Triple H Coaching). A self-confessed gaming addict, LARP enthusiast and nature lover Leo when not found fighting evil in a fantasy game (live or otherwise) he can often be found up a hill or in a woodland enjoying the beauty of nature. For more information or to apply to be coached directly by Leo see or email here.

Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: April 2018
Format: Kindle
Pages: 208
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

Granite Grit

Lee Cooper

Young family man Joe is haunted by demons from a childhood blighted by his father, a notorious criminal and brutal street fighter. When he beat up Joe’s mother, she killed herself, then the bully abandoned him.
When Joe loses his job and spirals into debt, he turns to what he knows: Boxing. He’s forced into the clutches of criminal Mr Dean, and the brutal world of unlicensed bare knuckle fighting, relishing his bloody victories…until he realises he’s becoming like his father he despises.
Joe is desperate to confront his father…and kill him. The only way is to defeat The Reaper, a psychopathic fighter and killer, to gain the notoriety to enter his father’s murky world. Bur first, Joe must overcome his demons. Will he Win?

About the Author

Lee Cooper was born in the seaside town of Banff, Aberdeenshire in 1984, and faced adversity from birth with a severe club foot. Growing up in Turriff. Learning to walk in a plaster, he endured many operations up to the age of 17. Against all odds, he became an electrician, and in his late teens, took up kickboxing at the Satorishido club in Fraserbough. He won two Scottish titles and a Celtic title, competing for 5 years. A few years ago, life hit Lee hard, with his beloved granny and mum suffering from cancer at the same time. His mental health took a battering, like his kickboxing opponents in the boxing-rings. Yet, the determined fighter says he sometimes lacked the killer instinct. He found it with his blistering debut page-turner…

Publisher: Feed a Read Publishers
Publication Date: December 2015
Format: Kindle
Pages: 277
Genre: Contemporary
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

The Well Deceived

Isaac Kuhnberg

A thought-provoking mystery in turns comic and disturbing, set in a country that resembles England in the 1950s, with one crucial difference. No women.
William Riddle is a scholar at Bune, the ancient public school where the sons of Anglia’s first families are prepared for a leading role in society. His first few weeks are a miserable round of bullying and abuse, until he makes a friend: Paul Purkis, son of a government minister. Together they create a grotesque private world, known as Malcaster, populated by criminals and deviants, as an outlet for their contempt for the school and its staff.
Overnight William’s world collapses. He is called into the headmaster’s office and told that his scientist father has committed an unspecified act of treason. William is hauled off to a detention centre to be interrogated. Escaping, he finds refuge in the louche sub-culture of the capital city, and comes to learn that everything he has ever been taught is a complete fabrication.

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
Getting an insight as I write a scene – as often as not this is something I had never realised before.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Paul Purkis, because he befriends someone who is unpopular, and remains loyal to him.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
It has to be coffee, I’m afraid – it kick-starts the writing process and keeps me writing. I drink it strong and black, served in small measures from a stainless steel cafetière, which keeps it warm for hours.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
Drinking coffee, as I said before. It raises my blood pressure, makes me jittery, and stops me sleeping, but I drink it all the same.

How do you research your books?
Mostly these days on the internet, but I also keep a good atlas and other reference books beside my desk, including a dictionary of quotations, a dictionary of proverbs, and an encyclopaedia of anatomy.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Both. I mull over a situation, decide on a narrator, then when I am in front of the keyboard I put the two together, and let the narrator do the work.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Narnia, as it was in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; because I could enjoy a wonderful tea with Mr Tumnus, and be there for the return of Aslan and the end of winter.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
Ralph Touchett in Portrait of a Lady, because he is clever and entertaining and truthful, and an infallible judge of character.

About the Author
Splitting his time between the South of France and Cambridge, Issac Kuhnberg enjoys spending his time writing and painting. At The University of Hull he gained his PhD in English focussing on the novels and authors of the 1930’s, including Christopher Isherwood and Evelyn Waugh, which would later inspired his own writing. His debut novel The Well Deceived by Issac Kuhnberg (published by Clink Street Publishing 15th May 2018) is available to purchase from online retailers including Amazon and to order from all good bookstores.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: May 2018
Format: Paperback
Genre: Dystopia
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

The Legacy of Old Gran Parks

Isobel Blackthorn

Set in Cann River in Australia’s rugged southern wilderness, The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is a tale of a remote town haunted by a legacy, a legacy with ominous consequences.
It’s a warm evening in the autumn of 1983 when Miriam Forster rolls into town in her broken down car.
Frankie the deer hunter, is up in the forested hinterland with her gun. Old Pearl the fisherwoman sits on her front deck down by the lagoon with her whisky and her dog. And Emily, the English backpacker, scrubs out the pie-encrusted kitchen at the roadhouse.
All is not well. There’s a hoon doing donuts at the crossroads and screaming down the fire trails in the woods; a suspicious-looking city-slicker with two small children, squatting in Fred’s shack down by the lake; a beanie-headed gaunt guy convalescing at the lighthouse; and an acne festooned creature in the hotel room next to Miriam, thrashing about in the night.
Gran Parks is stirring. Who will survive? Who will get away? Who will stay?

The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is a very unique, very fascinating but ultimately savage and dark read that I very much enjoyed. If you are a fan of Tarrantino movies, you are more than likely going to enjoy this book which starts out a little bit eerie and odd and then turns violent and dark. It was a book unlike any I have read before but I actually really loved it. It’s not something I think I would have as I tend to shy away from gruesome books but as this has a bit of a Tarantino-fakeness to it, it wasn’t as gruesome as I was actually expecting. It’s hard to describe exactly what I mean by this but needless to say that I somehow very much appreciated reading this book and would even go so far as to recommend it. I think it’s also a little bit like Scary Movie, or Final Destination, so if you like those types of films (as opposed to say Saw which I cannot stomach!), then this book is probably the perfect read for you.

One of the things I liked about the book was how it featured four women as protagonists and how they all took things into their own hands. I didn’t exactly (*cough*atall*cough*) agree with how they dealt with things but it was still fascinating to read a book with women like this at the forefront. I was, oddly enough, rooting for them all to make it through to the end of the book too. In an odd twist and turn of events anyhow. If you’re looking for a book with a feminist feel but that is also a bit horrific and dramatic, than this is the book you should pick up.

Lastly, but certainly not least, what made this book entertaining was the setting and the narration. The way the setting was almost used as a different character in itself was genius in my opinion. It made everything feel claustrophobic but also as though everyone was under its clutches and this was further endorsed at the end of the book as well. And the narration was just addictive. The lives of the women were made to seem very ordinary and boring but the truth was they were doing some very un-ordinary and far from boring things which is a true testimony to how well this book was actually written. In all honesty, the best comparison I can come up with is Death Proof, so if you have seen that film and enjoyed it, you should definitely read this book. And vice versa, of course!

Verdict: A very unique book about justice with a strong female class and a darkly humourous centre.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Hell Bound Books
Publication Date: February 2018
Format: ebook
Pages: 273
Genre: Dark Comedy Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy

Christmas at Woolworths

Elaine Everest
Even though there was a war on, the Woolworths girls brought Christmas cheer to their customers.
Best friends Sarah, Maisie and Freda are brought together by their jobs at Woolworths. With their loved ones away on the front line, their bonds of friendship strengthen each day. Betty Billington is the manager at Woolworths, and a rock for the girls, having given up on love . . . Until a mysterious stranger turns up one day – could he reignite a spark in Betty?
As the year draws to a close, and Christmas approaches, the girls must rely on each other to navigate the dark days that lie ahead . . .
With so much change, can their friendship survive the war?


June 1942

Sitting astride the powerful motorbike, Freda Smith removed a large leather gauntlet from her hand in order to pull tight-fitting goggles from her eyes. She rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand and yawned. Although only the first day of June, the air was sultry and not a day for being covered from head to toe in a heavyweight motorcycle uniform. Freda felt sweaty and would have loved nothing more than to pull off her jacket and feel the wind on her skin as she sped through Kent towards her destination. It had been a long day and no doubt many hours lay ahead before she would see her bed. Gazing towards an angry orange glow that could be seen even in the afternoon sky, she knew her journey was almost at an end. She was close to Canterbury.

Freda had always thought the notion of travelling to Canterbury appealing and she’d planned to visit this famous city just as the pilgrims had done centuries before her. Never in a million years did she believe her trip would be to carry important orders to the Fire Service when Canterbury was under threat from the Luftwaffe. Ahead of her now was a city decimated by enemy action. As a volunteer dispatch rider for the Aux¬iliary Fire Service Freda had longed for excitement, but she now realized that what lay ahead was death and destruction for this beautiful Kentish city and many of the people who lived there. After nearly three years would this terrible war never end?

Freda fervently wished she was back behind her coun¬ter at Erith Woolworths, selling the popular Mighty Midget books and Lumar jigsaws that not only enter¬tained the families but gave youngsters something to concentrate on during long nights when the country was under fire from the enemy. Life seemed so much easier then, even though she was often on fire-watch duties and had to sleep in her landlady’s Anderson shelter on many occasions. Knowing how lucky she was had made Freda yearn to do more to help this beastly war come to an end. She wondered what she’d discover when she reached the city walls. How would she find the fire sta¬tion, where she was supposed to report once she reached Canterbury? Fear urged Freda to turn back and not get any closer to the burning city.

The petite young woman gave herself a silent talking-to. Her job was important and lives depended on her handing over the instructions tucked safely inside the breast pocket of her uniform jacket. She was lucky to be able to work both at Woolies and be a volunteer in the Auxiliary Fire Service. Many people did not have a choice. Freda pulled the goggles back over her eyes and, slipping her small hand back into the gauntlet, she fired up the powerful Triumph motorbike. The bike had been assigned to her when she had completed her training only two weeks ago. Another fifteen minutes and she would reach her destination. Once her duties were com¬plete Freda could do something about the worry that had been nagging at the back of her mind since she left Erith fire station. She would be able to look for her friends. The best place to start her search would be Woolworths. Surely someone could point her in the right direction?

‘Thank you,’ Freda said, as she was handed a tin mug containing piping hot cocoa along with a sandwich by one of the WVS ladies who were dispensing refreshments from a large van to the fire fighters, soldiers and the many civilians valiantly working to find those injured in the destruction of a once noble city and to dampen down the flames from incendiary bombs. Try as she might, Freda couldn’t quite block out the sound of ambulance bells and the shouts for ‘quiet’ as men nearby dug with their bare hands, searching for people trapped in the rubble of what was until recently street upon street of fine shops.

‘You look exhausted, love. Can you find somewhere to put your head down for a while before you head off again?’ a WVS woman said as she wiped the counter.

Freda, who would have liked nothing more than to close her eyes and sleep for a few hours to ease her aching body after the long journey across Kent, smiled at the kindly woman. ‘No, thank you all the same; I need to find my friends and put my mind at rest. Once I know they are safe I can head back home to Erith. Would you happen to know the best way to reach Woolworths? I’m sure staff there will be on fire watch duties and hopefully they can tell me where my friends are.’

The woman stopped and thought for a moment. ‘I do believe that Woolworths is a couple of streets from here, but the road’s been blocked off as there’s an unexploded bomb. I doubt you’d get there anyway, what with so many shops and houses having been bombed. There’s nothing but rubble. Hang on, I’ll check with one of my ladies. She’s a local and may know more than I do.’

Freda nodded her thanks and bit hungrily into the Spam sandwich while she waited for the woman to return. It had been an age since she’d last eaten, but the grey National bread with its scraping of margarine and thin slice of Spam tasted like a feast fit for a king. Since arriving in Erith from the Midlands at the end of 1938, Freda had come to enjoy her food after most of her childhood was spent going without. Her landlady, and grandmother to her best friend Sarah Gilbert, was a wonderful cook and Freda reckoned her mutton stews, fluffy dumplings and steak and kidney puddings wouldn’t look out of place on the tables of any posh London hotel. Even with rationing taking a grip on the nation’s food supplies, Ruby Caselton could be relied upon to conjure up a tasty meal for any occasion.

Freda had just swallowed the last of the cocoa when the WVS lady reappeared.

‘I was right. You can’t get to where Woolies is as the street’s shut off. It seems the buildings down there have taken a bit of a bashing so I hope your friends are all right. Do they work there?’
Freda tried not to become alarmed. It wouldn’t help matters. She made herself think of everyone back home who would be relying on her to stay strong. ‘Er, no, but one of them is manager of the Erith branch and my other friend works with her. I just need to know they are not hurt. Would you know where I could possibly find them? That’s if they are not badly injured or . . .’

The kindly woman patted Freda on the shoulder. ‘Now, don’t go getting yourself upset. Why, you’re no more than a child yourself and riding that great big motorbike. You’re a brave one and no mistake.’

Freda took a deep breath and composed herself. ‘I’ll be twenty-one later this year. I’m just a bit on the small side for my age.’

‘Well, twenty-one or not, the world’s a bloody scary place right now and we are entitled to be afraid. Just don’t go bottling it all up. Scream and shout at the Hun if you want to. It does me the power of good, I can tell you.’ She placed a protective hand on Freda’s shoulder and pointed with the other. ‘Now, if you take yourself off down that road and turn left, you will come across a church hall. It’s being used as a rest centre as well as a first-aid post. I reckon you’ll get news of your friends down there. Leave your motorbike and helmet here. You can park up behind our van. They’ll come to no harm. I’ll keep an eye on them for you.’

Freda thanked the woman and, after securing her bike, she hurried up the small road to the hall. Struggling to gain entry as the hall was full of people, she pushed and shoved her way through the crowd. So many looked to be in shock, wandering aimlessly about, no doubt look-ing for loved ones just as Freda was trying to do. Spotting an officious-looking ARP warden with a clipboard, she elbowed through the crowd. ‘Excuse me, do you know if my friends, Miss Betty Billington and Mrs Maisie Carlisle, are here?’

The man ran his pencil down a list of names and turned a page. ‘Here they are, Billington and Carlisle. Hmm,’ he said, tapping the pencil on his teeth as he peered at the list. ‘They’ve been moved to hospital. I assume they must be injured, but details haven’t been noted. I do wish people would complete the forms prop¬erly,’ he huffed.

Freda tried to stand on tiptoes to look at the list, but the man was having none of it and held it close to his body. ‘What hospital would that be?’ she asked.

‘Margate General. It’s not too far from here. Local hospitals are overstretched at the moment. Here, take a look at the map.’ He pointed to a large map pinned to the wall.

Freda felt sick as she peered at it. Her head started to spin as she attempted to focus on where her friends had been taken and tried not to think too much about their injuries. They are still alive, she told herself as she thanked the man and rushed back to where she’d left her motorbike. Although now late afternoon, it was still warm and around her she could see men sweating as they pulled at bricks and masonry that had once been thriving businesses and family homes, seeking the living and the dead. Firing up the bike’s engine, she headed off to find Betty and Maisie.

About Elaine Everest

Elaine Everest, author of Bestselling novel The Woolworths Girls and The Butlins Girls was born and brought up in North West Kent, where many of her books are set. She has been a freelance writer for twenty years and has written widely for women’s magazines and national newspapers, with both short stories and features. Her non-fiction books for dog owners have been very popular and led to broadcasting on radio about our four legged friends. Elaine has been heard discussing many topics on radio from canine subjects to living with a husband under her feet when redundancy looms.
When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school at The Howard Venue in Hextable, Kent and has a long list of published students.
Elaine lives with her husband, Michael, and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, in Swanley, Kent and is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Crime Writers Association, The Society of Women Writers & Journalists and The Society of Authors as well as Slimming World where she can been sitting in the naughty corner.

Publisher: Pan Mac
Publication Date: November 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 300
Genre: Historical Saga
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Challenge: None

The Red Thread

Dawn Farnham

Set against the backdrop of 1830s Singapore where piracy, crime, triads, and tigers are commonplace, this historical romance follows the struggle of two lovers Zhen, a Chinese coolie and triad member, and Charlotte, an 18-year-old Scots woman and sister of Singapores Head of Police. Two cultures bound together by the invisible threads of fate yet separated by cultural diversity.

What were your initial thoughts on the book?
I have to admit that I love reading books that are full of culture. Books that describe places that I have never visited and may never visit. So when I heard about The Red Thread, I was instantly curious. Normally I am not a big historical fan but the draw of the vibrant Singaporian landscape drew me into giving this book a try and I am so glad it did. This is a very fascinating and beautiful novel. Dawn Farnham has done a brilliant job at creating an atmosphere in this book with unique writing that truly describes everything for the reader. It is informative and entertaining all at the same time. While the book is slow due to the vivid descriptions, this just makes the book more beautiful and lyrical. I was truly mesmerized by this book and cannot wait to read the next books in this series.

Who was your favourite character and why?
There is a vast array of characters in this book which can seem a bit confusing at times. In one chapter near the beginning, Dawn describes just a small portion of the characters and it takes up a fair few pages. But the main characters are all very interesting and alluring to read about. My favourite character was probably Charlotte. She is new to Singapore, moving to be with her brother and I found her to be a spectacular character. She was curious and interesting to follow throughout the book. I won’t say too much more as I do not wish to spoil it!

Would you recommend this book?
I would and I wouldn’t. It honestly depends who I was talking to. I would recommend this to anyone who likes a slow burner, someone who is willing to put time into a book and allow the beautiful narration to sink over them. However if you’re looking for a book with a fast, exciting plot then I definitely would not recommend this book. The Red Thread is perfect for readers who like to be truly transported.

One Sentence Summary (Verdict)
A beautiful, exotic and wonderfully written novel that will capture your heart.

The Red Thread is currently free on Amazon. You can get a copy by clicking here.

Publisher: Monsoon Books
Publication Date: April 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 328
Genre: Historical
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by Publisher
Challenge: None