Archive for the ‘Adult’ Category

If Only They Could Talk

Ian Walker

Miles Goodyear’s whole life has been planned out for him. Born into a wealthy brewing family in Chesterfield between the wars, he knows he will go to the local grammar school, followed by St John’s College, Oxford. After graduating, he will then follow his older brother into the family business where he will remain until the next generation eventually takes over when he retires.
But life – and a series of bad decisions – go against him and, as a result, things turn out very differently from what was originally planned.
If Only They Could Talk is the story of one man’s reflection on his life, his failed relationships, his regrets and his dashed hopes. It’s about someone born with so much, who loses everything as he struggles to cope with a changing world. Or at least that’s what his relatives are led to believe as they clear out his house following his death.
Gradually, the house reveals its secrets, but nothing his relatives find there can prepare them for the final twist to Miles’s story.


Five Favourite Things About My Protagonist

On the face of it, it’s difficult to like too many things about my main character Miles Goodyear. For a start, he is one of life’s losers. Most men can only dream of the start in life that he had. After all, he was born into a wealthy brewing family and was destined to have the best possible education at the local Grammar School. Following this, he would go on to study at the illustrious St John’s College Oxford. This would have prepared him to take up a job for life as a director in the family firm. Yet despite all the privileges that his upbringing bestowed on him, he still managed to lose everything. Miles is also a drinker, an adulterer and a person who abuses his position at work. Nevertheless, you can’t help but like him. Would I want to go on a night out with him? Yes, I would. Would I want him to run my company? No, never! Would I ask him to give me advice regarding affairs of the heart? Absolutely not.

At the centre of Miles’s story is his friendship with Sprout and Herman. He meets the two of them on his first day at school and they remain close friends for the rest of their lives. That is something not many of us manage to do and it demonstrates the type of person he is.

In some ways, Miles is a bit like King George VI. Miles was never meant to run the family business. In the same way – albeit further up the social ladder – George VI was never meant to become king. Those were the roles their brothers were destined to take on, but didn’t. As a result Miles is a person who is deeply conscious of precisely what his family has achieved. He is fully aware of the responsibility he has to pass that legacy onto the next generation. In many ways it is a chain around his neck, a burden he has to bear. However he realises it’s his duty and he refuses to shirk his responsibilities both to his family and his employees. That’s despite the fact that he would have been financially better off if he’d decided just to sell up.

Miles is also a trier. As the world is changing about him and all his competitors start to fail, he strives to adjust, to bring in new ideas and new products in order to save his family business. Ultimately he’s not successful but at least he can say he tried his best.

One of the great things about Miles is that he is able to re-invent himself. Having failed as a businessman he tries his hand at something completely different. I’ve always admired people who are able to succeed in two quite distinct fields. People like George Forman who went from being a professional boxer to selling his grill on TV, or Glenda Jackson who successfully changed career from being a famous actor to becoming an astute politician. Nobody could claim that Miles was a successful businessman. But at least he was able to start all over again as a teacher in the school where he was a pupil in his youth. Eventually he even becomes moderately successful and is relatively happy in his new profession.

Finally, Miles is no cold fish. He’s the type of person who usually lets his heart rule his head and ultimately this leads to his downfall. We all love a flawed character like him. It’s the same reason why Nelson has a column in Trafalgar Square, despite the fact he was both impulsive and an adulterer. In contrast, the cool, calculating Wellington only has a very practical pair of waterproof boots named after him.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: May 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 270
Genre: Historical Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: N/A
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Walk a Narrow Line

Rod Graham

Driven on unrelentlessly not to be beaten down by failure, this is one man’s extraordinary true-life story, which highlights the ever-present need to find your way in the world. Across the diverse life adventures over a seventy-year period, a picture is painted of a life that has led from neglect to success and from abuse to knowledge. This book will inspire those who read it to do better.


Extract

That 1976 summer was¬¬¬ proving to be a really hot one; it’s on record as being one of the driest summers we’ve had; which is interesting because we had never heard of ‘climate change’ in 1976, it was just a great summer. If you thought about it; you could just imagine yourself jumping in to the river off a boat deck, splashing about in the water, creating waves, wild swim¬¬¬ming, the whole scene seemed to beckon ever harder with each longing thought you gave it.

This cabin cruiser was no Queen Mary, what did you expect for £50 in 1976? She was made of wood; marine ply, to be exact, you could be forgiven for being apprehensive about stepping aboard her, after all, wood was the customary material used to build boats for years. However, this particular craft may have been one of Noah’s castoffs; except that he probably didn’t have access to what looked like white emulsion paint. The whole boat had been liberally coated in it, you could see that someone had done a real job of freshening her up with a very clumsy hand and brush; even the windows had not been spared a daub or two of paint.

Our son Trevor; who was eleven years old at the time, couldn’t contain his excitement at the thought of this adventure. On to the boat he jumped right behind Nigel, the owner, a scruffy guy with long greasy brown hair, who was either a really good salesman or very proud of his vessel. He certainly had the gift of the gab. My wife Frances and I gave each other a sidelong look of disappointment at the sight of this shipwreck. My heart sank; like this boat probably would. I remember thinking, ‘what a mess; well… one man’s meat is another man’s poison’. Still; we both tried to keep an open mind.

There were indeed four bunks, which, amazingly, all seemed to be dry, there was a galley area with a gas cooker and sink. Nigel told us that you call the kitchen area ‘The Galley’ on a boat. There was a cassette toilet that smelt and looked a bit like an old-fashioned sewerage farm with a small sink for washing beside it. The mirror above the sink was interesting in that you couldn’t actually see your reflection in it properly for grime. I turned around and looked to make sure Nigel wasn’t watching me as I quickly drew a smiley face on the mirror’s dirty surface. I’m lucky in that I have a fairly good memory for faces; especially mine! The thing is, if you wanted to clean yourself up, comb your hair, shave or make yourself look pretty; you were going to need a good memory for faces with this mirror. The shipwreck did have a nice sitting area at the back, or stern if I’m to be correct with an outboard motor that had its own removable fuel tank, I noticed that Nigel didn’t offer to start the engine; he just pointed it out, saying that it was a good runner. But no matter, as this trip looked like it had been a waste of time anyway.

We climbed off the boat, although I had to practically drag Trevor off, as he already thought he owned it and was involved with cruising down the Caribbean, so he had a reluctance to end his adventure; Paula had not dared to come aboard, she remained on dry land pretending to be disinterested as she stroked someone’s golden Labrador that had wandered over inquiringly from another boat.

I told Nigel that we would like to look around, as there were other boats for sale in the marina.

Well, after looking over a few of those boats and hearing the amazing sums of money their owners were hoping to sell them for; it has to be said that Willie – that is what the shipwreck was called – started to look like a good proposition; after all, beggars can’t be choosers, she was still afloat, she had an engine and was dry-ish inside; we could hopefully make something of her.

Back to see Nigel we went, then after a bit of haggling for the boat and for the mooring which was rented, we were shortly the proud owners of Willie our very own cabin cruiser.

Every Sunday for the rest of that long hot summer would find us doing what must have been the equivalent of an hours training in a gym; just pulling the cord trying to start that outboard motor. Messing about on the river usually had to wait a while! Some days though, things would be messier than others.

There was that time when our daughter, Paula; who was a year older than Trevor; got a little too boisterous in the stern section and nearly fell overboard. Yes, she could swim but we were cruising along with the outboard motor running at the time and she went over the stern right beside it. As I watched her loose her balance, I had visions of my daughter being chewed up by the engine propeller. Don’t ask me how, but I turned around from steering the boat and caught her in mid-air before she even hit the water and hauled her back into the boat. It was one of those moments of magic. I have no idea what happened, or how I managed it, just like when you knock something off a shelf by accident, then react so fast, that with no effort at all, you actually catch it before it hits the floor and breaks, I expect you will have done that yourself.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: May 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 156
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: N/A
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Change Leadership

Bill Mann

80% of change projects fail. It’s a staggering amount. The most common reason is a reluctance to change by the people involved. It’s not surprising really: people make up a business and it’s those same people who must accept and adapt to change. The difference between change management and change leadership is making the connection between organisational change and the human impact on all involved. This book will show you how to lead change, not just manage it. Bill Mann, founder of The Keep Calm Guy, has learnt the hard way about change. After a long career delivering change projects for many businesses it was his personal experiences of coping with the trauma of a suicide bomb attack, and losing his wife to cancer, that taught him how to find a path through change that other people will follow. www.thekeepcalmguy.co.uk.


Extract

Businesses of all sizes, and across every industry, are constantly changing. It may be organically by growing or evolving products and services, or maturing and optimising, or possibly even declining and downsizing. It may be by specific actions such as a merger or acquisition, or a reorganisation, relocation, or simply by recruiting and moving staff to new positions. It may be something seemingly small such as changing the reporting lines of one individual, or something that affects the entire organisation. It could even be something routine such as an annual performance appraisal and pay review. Whatever the reason no business stands still – change is constant.

Walk into any business with more than a handful of staff and there will be change planned, being made, or people struggling with the unintended consequences of change. Structures will change, people are promoted, moved in to new roles, or even demoted or fired. The larger the organisation the larger the change programme you will find. If may be a formal transformation programme, or it may just be a collection of smaller changes spanning the organisation.

Change is always made for good business reasons at the time, and with the best intentions of those leading the change. There will be an objective regarding the future of the business and goals set that have to be achieved. Much work will be done looking at future sales, markets, competition, organisational performance, budgets, resources, operating models, functions, staffing levels, resource levels, roles, etc., etc. All of these are the nuts and bolts of the business, and the organisational design puts it all together to achieve a desired end state. There is only one thing missing, one thing hardly ever considered – the emotional engagement of the people that will either make it work or not. Winning their hearts and minds. This is not simply communication, people management, or a token gesture towards keeping staff on-side to be seen to be doing the right thing, it is an authentic and genuine care for the impact on people, and delivered with complete integrity.

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first.”
– Richard Branson

The people that make a business what it is are not ‘Human Resources’. Resources suggest a business asset to be utilised (which is how many see them), and ‘Human’ is just a depersonalised term to refer to the fact they are living breathing human beings. The people that walk through the office door every morning are husbands, wives, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, friends, carers, and so on. They have ambitions, fears, worries, stresses, beliefs, and values. They have ups and downs, good days and bad. They are all unique and how they respond to change is what makes the difference to any business. The best plans and models will be extremely painful and costly to deliver without the support of the people that will make it a reality. In practice people are pushed, cajoled, bribed, and otherwise encouraged and forced into the organisational structure and new roles. If they don’t fit, then ultimately, they are pushed out. They are simply expected to ‘get on board’ with the changes.

Every change has an effect on the most important component – the people that run the business. From boardroom to shop floor everyone one is potentially impacted by even the most modest of changes. How they respond has very little to do with their role, skillset, or career path. It has everything to do with who they are as a person, what else is going on in their lives at that time, and what they value. By making sure every individual is understood and supported through the change with empathy and integrity, many if not all can be kept completely engaged – the critical difference between success and failure. This should not be dismissed as being ‘soft’ or unnecessary, this should be encouraged as enlightened leadership. Emotional intelligence is widely reported as a critical leadership skill for the 21st century.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: April 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 116
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: N/A
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Music as Medicine

Daphne Bryan PhD

Music can play an important part in our lives yet how many of us appreciate the effect it has on our brains, bodies and moods, or understand how we can use music as a medicine? Music has the power to reduce everyday symptoms, such as stress, insomnia, pain, depression, and even snoring, as well as helping challenges found in neurological conditions such as freezing and gait problems, and difficulties with voice and swallowing.
With modern advances in technology, scientists are now able to measure the precise effect of music on body and brain. Music as Medicine presents many research studies which have examined the effect of music on various conditions, and offers clear suggestions as to how readers can use music to reduce various symptoms, whether a person thinks themselves musical or not. It covers three aspects of musical involvement: listening to music, moving to music and making music.
Daphne Bryan, PhD, takes a special look at the benefits of music for neurological conditions, Parkinson’s in particular. Music stimulates many areas of the brain and in the case of damaged brains, it can activate alternative pathways to act in the place of damaged ones. Many of the symptoms discussed are also experienced by people with other diagnoses and by those who are otherwise fit and healthy so this book contains much that is relevant to all.


Extract

Using music to heal body and affect mood is not new. In the course of human history, music has been used not only as an art form but also as a tool for healing. Frescoes dating from 4000 BC, depicting harp playing priests and musicians, are probably the oldest examples which suggest that music was believed to have healing properties at that time.

In the Bible’s Old Testament, Saul was said to suffer from depressive symptoms and his servants suggested that they find someone who was a “cunning player on the harp” (1 Samuel chapter 16 v 16 Revised Version).

“And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took the harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.” (1 Samuel Chapter 16 v 23. Revised Version)

The ancient Greeks developed music as therapy, with Pythagoras proposing that body and soul could be influenced by music, through the understanding of music’s law and order (Dobrzinska et al 2006). The Pythagoreans employed music in their daily routine, playing music before bedtime to calm them and provide a good night’s sleep with pleasant dreams. On waking, they would play particular compositions on the lyre to shake off sleep and prepare them for the rigours of the day.

The philosopher Plato considered music to be “the medicine of the soul” (Gfeller 2002). He claimed in The Republic:

“Music is most sovereign because rhythm and harmony find their way to the inmost soul and take strongest hold upon it, imparting grace, if one is rightly trained.”

Aristotle also believed in music’s ability to heal, seeing it as providing relief from negative emotions (Dobrzinska et al 2006). He had a theory that song, wine, and women were the three necessary components to create an optimal environment for man (Ansdell 2004).

Many primitive cultures considered music an important part of everyday life. Native Americans used music in their healing rituals, often in the form of singing and chanting with percussive instruments. The United States Indian Bureau contains 1,500 songs used by Native Americans for healing purposes. In the Middle Ages, the importance of music for keeping well was so highly regarded that the law mandated that those studying medicine should also appreciate music. At this time, specific musical applications were suggested for particular medical problems, for example, music which alternated flute and harp was believed to be a remedy for gout.

A plague occurred in Germany in 1374 in which sufferers danced uncontrollably till they became unconscious through exhaustion. Thousands died, and more outbreaks occurred across Europe over the next two centuries. The only way of stopping the mania was to have a musician play for the afflicted dancer (Harvey 1980). At a similar time, the illness tarantism, thought to be caused by the bite of a tarantula, was believed to be cured by listening and dancing to the music of a ‘tarantella’, a folk dance with a fast, upbeat tempo. It is possible that the wild dancing helped the problem by separating the venom from the sufferer’s blood.

During the Renaissance, music continued to be used to treat mania and depression. The Italian sixteenth century theorist, Gioseffo Zarlino, believed that musical harmony had healing abilities. He suggested music could be used to relieve pain, depression, mania, the plague and even restore hearing. In 1899, an article in The Lancet by J.T.R. Davison titled ‘Music in Medicine’ led to the now growing interest in investigating music and health (Davison 1899).

For many thousands of years, therefore, people have believed music to have a place in healing, but what properties in music give it this power?

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: April 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 112
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: N/A
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Charles Dickens: My Life

Derwin Hope

When Charles Dickens died prematurely on the 9th June 1870 aged only 58, he left behind a legacy unsurpassed in English fictional literature. But he also wanted to write his true life story and this remained undone. 150 years on from his death, I have found that sufficient material has now been uncovered to enable that narrative of his life story to be produced for the first time. Research amongst 15,000 of his letters, journalistic articles, documents and other relevant material connected to him have all combined to make it possible for me to piece together that evidence and, guided by the way he wrote his two travel books, has resulted in the production of this personal story in his own words that he so desired to tell. It shows exactly how, from difficult beginnings, he descended into acute humiliation and abject poverty, before then emerging due to his talent and incredible resolve, into one of the most famous men and popular authors the world has ever known. It chronicles his enormous public triumphs and his profound private turmoils, as well as the secret life he led when, on his own admission, he became “seized with lunacy”. It includes his two momentous visits to America, and his withering and radical opinions of institutions and situations he found there, as well as those he encountered at home – all expressed in his own inimitable style. This is his compelling and personal narrative, put together for the first time in a way that he wished his legacy to be told. It is the real and true story of his life.


How I Researched My Book

After hearing that Dickens may have led a secret life, I began by reading modern biographies of him to try and find out more and then turned the clock back to read the 3 volumes on his life produced by his friend John Forster shortly after Dickens had died in1870. I still did not feel I knew the real and true story about him when, by chance in 2004, I became a Judge in Portsmouth. I visited the humble house of his birth and as I stood in the bedroom where he was born, the question went through my mind: ”How did he get from here to the life of fame he went on to lead, and how much of this did he explain in his own words?” I then began further research, focussing only on things that Dickens had said about his life. This included not only what he had told Forster in secret about his childhood, but studying in detail 15,000 of his letters that had now been published, details of what he had written in his journalism and other documents relating to him, as well as verbatim transcripts of his speeches and faithful reports from people who had witnessed other things that he had said. I put this gigantic jigsaw of his reporting of his life into a continuous narrative form using his words, so that for the first time in 150 years the true sequence of his life is set out as he had wanted to do himself, but had left undone by the time of his untimely death at the age of 58.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: May 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 536
Genre: Non-Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Loss of Some Detail

Mandi Martin

Forget all you know, for all you know might well be false.
That is how is often seems to asylum worker James Grey as he tends to the patients abandoned to Oculus Mentis, an austere asylum lost to the world. His day to day quite literally forgettable.
Until now.
Slowly the world around him starts to change. Plagued by lucid dreams, a haunting drawing and visions of a pleading female he feels his mind is dissolving.
Aided by the enigmatic Silas and silent Marianne he seeks to solve the mysteries that are tormenting him.


Favourite Things About The Main Protagonist

When it comes to my favourite things about my main protagonist, in this case; James Grey, it is quite hard to answer.
I like all of my characters, including those less pleasant, for different reasons, they are after all a part of me.
The first thing that springs to mind is his compassion. He is trapped in a world of woeful treatment and surroundings that would take whatever sanity one possesses. Despite that he is able to hold on to his heart and still care for people who others long since gave up on.
He simply sees people as people, despite their quirks and difficulties. After all, we aren’t here to judge others.
I tried to think back to when I was on a psychiatric unit, being bounced between there and the main hospital, for over six months. The staff were putting up with a great deal of stress and strain and seeing the worst in life more than the best.
Yet they were always so caring and comforting. Without them I wouldn’t have managed to last.
I took inspiration from that and I believe in some ways it shows in James.
In the Victorian era the mentally ill were the dregs of society and the asylums were little more than a dumping ground or a place for experimental ‘treatment’.
Staff maybe started with the best intentions but slowly many of them were worn down, becoming bitter and distant and not seeing the patients as people anymore.
The name ‘Bedlam’ was an apt name for an asylum.
The staff James works around are very similar to that but James himself has maintained his caring nature even though it is tested greatly as well as his own sanity. Many believed that getting too close to the afflicted would mean they ‘caught’ their deficiencies, a mind-set that made conditions worse.
He also has an inner strength that might not seem obvious but when one reads the entire book they will see what I mean. Life is fragile and is very easy to give up but he holds onto it, even though there would be many an occasion where it would be simple to cut those narrow strands that tie us here.
I think he finds solace in the fact he has at least two people he can confide in, despite them not being able to solve what bothers him they can still offer an ear to listen and to accept that small aid is strength in itself.
Consequently he has to rely on himself, a hard ask and a struggle when one is conflicted and fearful.
Compassion and strength are two things I admire in anyone and that stretches to fictional characters also. They are important traits that I strive for in my own life and I hope others do as well. I like to try and get across that people are different but that doesn’t mean we cannot like each other, appreciate each other’s uniqueness and I hope that comes across.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: March 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 162
Genre: Historical
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Russian Lieutenant

Peter Marshall

When a Russian warship arrives in Portsmouth Dockyard, a handsome uniformed officer strides down the gangway to meet Marina Peters, an English girl of Russian ancestry, who had discovered him on a dating website. She works for the Royal Navy, so they have much in common.
What they do not know is that their romantic quayside tryst is being observed by agents from MI5, leading to a series of dramatic events involving the security services of the UK and USA.
Marina, a bright and intelligent thirty-year-old career woman, has been seeking something new in her life. So it is with a mixture of expectation and anxiety that she has “waited for her ship to come home”. But what follows is an unexpected introduction into the ruthless world of international espionage.


Extract

Like thousands of others over the years, Marina was waiting on the sea wall by the old Semaphore Tower at the entrance to Portsmouth harbour, peering anxiously out to sea. Through the October morning mist, she was looking for that first glimpse of an approaching ship, just as wives and girlfriends had done since the years of sailing ships, always hopeful they were bringing their menfolk safely home.
But unlike all the others before her, Marina was waiting to welcome a man she had never met.

After spending her childhood, schooldays and early working career in South London, Marina Peters now felt at home in Portsmouth, a vibrant and expanding city combining a long seafaring history with modern developments. As she waited, she reflected on how much she had enjoyed the first three years of her new life there and being by the sea. There were all the attractions of the resort area of Southsea – with its seafront and beaches and the ferries chugging their way to the Isle of Wight and Gosport – and the enticing sight of large cruise liners passing through the Solent to and from Southampton. And of course, there was the glamour of the Royal Navy, its ships and its sailors, and the always impressive Royal Marines.

She had made new friends in her office in the Portsmouth Dockyard, went to occasional parties and had started a couple of new relationships with interesting men she met –which had both fizzled out too soon. She signed up to join a local choir group, doing occasional concerts and widening her circle of friends. She enjoyed evenings at the cinema and tried not to become too dependent on the temptations of computer games and online shopping … until one life-changing evening.

Encouraged and intrigued by the experiences she heard about from others in her office, and from stories she read in magazines and newspapers, she decided to explore social media and dating websites.

Soon, she was hooked. Two or three times a week, at home in her small Southsea flat, she sat at her laptop computer late into the evening scanning the “find a friend” sites. In reality, she found very few pictures and descriptions which deserved more than a passing glance … until her attention focussed, one night, on Nikolai Aldanov. He was a handsome 35-year-old Russian, wearing a smart uniform, who said he was a widower with no children. He said he spoke good English and had special interests in literature and history and wanted to meet a lady who would help him to know more about these subjects, particularly from a British angle. But it was Marina’s own Russian ancestry which made her read this entry more than once.

Her grandparents, Vlad and Marina Petrov, were Russian immigrants to Britain in the 1930s. Through friends, they had both found work in the warehouse of a London company in the docklands importing fabrics from Eastern Europe and the Far East. They were ambitious and, after working hard for a couple of years, they had learned enough about the business to rent a small shop, with a flat above, in a South London suburb. And there, with their savings, they started a small shop retailing those imported fabrics.

It became a struggle in the years after the outbreak of war in September 1939, but they were accustomed to difficult times and kept going. They had two sons, Viktor and Anatoly, who were born during the early days of the war, and like so many East London families, they prayed and kept going and their home and business were fortunate to survive the wartime bombing unscathed.

In 1945, they were proud survivors and decided to become British citizens, Anglicising their name to Peters. It was Marina’s father, now Victor Peters, and her uncle, now called Andrew, who eventually followed in their parents’ footsteps and started work in the shop when they left school at 16. The fabrics business had flourished and expanded in the post-war rebuilding of London, and in the 1960s, Vlad retired, and his ambitious sons took over and continued to grow the business successfully.

The Peters family also grew. Victor married Shona, who had become one of his best customers. She was an Irish-born interior designer working in London’s West End, and they settled into a new and comfortable home in the Thamesside suburb of Putney. It was there, in the late 1980s, that all the family gathered to celebrate the arrival of Marina, the new baby who was given her grandmother’s name.

As she grew up, and especially at family gatherings, Marina was fascinated by the stories they told, particularly those about her ancestors’ struggles in the impoverished city of Voronezh in Southwest Russia and how her grandfather, Vlad Petrov, and his wife had decided to seek a new life in Britain. They were ambitious and bold and had heard stories from others in the town about the new opportunities to be found by travelling westwards.

And so, with few possessions and little money, the two of them had journeyed in stages across Europe by trains and buses and, finally, the cross-channel ferry to Dover. From there, tired and almost penniless, they had travelled by bus to seek out their only contact, “the friend of a friend” who lived in south London’s Russian community. These family conversations often went on to recall the story of how much of the home city they had left behind in 1935, had become a battle-scarred ruin in the Second World War; and how
many of their friends and relations back there had perished or were driven out to become homeless in the surrounding areas; and how Voronezh, ignored for many years, had
now been rebuilt into a thriving, modern metropolis. As she grew into her teens, Marina’s ambition to visit her roots grew stronger and stronger.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: March 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 178
Genre: Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Hypnos

Jon Biddle

What if the unthinkable became a reality? What if technology could be used against you? A software program has been stolen from the digital vaults of the CIA. It is capable of bridging the gap between A.I. and human consciousness, making a person do whatever the controller wants, creating a potentially terrifying new world. The organisation responsible has racist, right-wing views and a perverted desire to reduce population growth by culling it using the software. Only the rich and the powerful can be part of Asclepius. The software is uploaded to the brain via eye movement using a smartphone, leaving open the possibility for entire countries to be controlled remotely.
Alex Brown, newly-appointed to the B5 Intelligence cell of British intelligence while hunting for the serial killer Dale Broc who has kidnapped her daughter, has been assigned to the case and now has to choose. Will she save the country or her daughter? Hypnos is the second novel in the Alex Brown series. Author Jon Biddle brings extensive medical knowledge coupled with military and law enforcement experience that combines to produce an exciting sequel to The Harvester.


Extract

Jamal was thinking that if time could be reversed now, this would be the time to do it. His right hand was gripped in a vice in his dad’s old shed, with a lunatic screaming in his ear. He watched the South African reach for the lump hammer on the shed wall, leaving a white outline showing where it should always belong.
Like a golfer, Van Den Jong, or Jongy to his mates, took couple of dry swings to the tips of Jamal’s fingers. On the fourth swing it connected. The middle finger was the first to snap, followed immediately by the ring then the forefinger and finally the little one.
Jongy stood back. “Fuckin’ ’ell eh, look at that eh,” he said to Errol. “The little bastard pinky finger Errol, only bashed the top of it, eh.”
Errol shuffled on his feet. A small Zulu from Bulawayo peered at the hand trapped in the vice. Jamal was hang¬ing from said vice, trying to support his trapped arm. Screaming, the pain searing through the limb like a hot needle. He daren’t look at the vice, eyes fixed to the floor, sweat pouring down his face.
Errol reached for a pair of pliers that was marked out next to the lump hammer, felt the weight, like a plier connoisseur.
“What are you doing?” Jongy asked Errol, who looked at
him, showed him the pliers and then motioned to the little finger, still standing proudly next to the other smashed digits.
Jongy looked at Jamal. “Errol just wants to tidy up your hand, your little finger isn’t as smashed up as he would like, eh.”
Jamal looked up. “Fuck you! I’m connected you know, I know people.”
“Oooooo,” Jongy taunted, before tapping Errol who laughed as well.
Errol turned and Jamal screamed as the pliers came closer.
“Errol, the boy has been through enough eh, let’s see if he cooperates.”
Errol nodded and moved out of the way, Jongy crouched. He looked at the hand, which was turning dusky blue around the edges of the vice.
“Tut tut,” he said, he grabbed Jamal’s hair and pulled his head up with it.
“You only have to agree to our terms and I’ll let you go,” Jongy said.
He was well dressed, cropped hair, six foot three and made of what Jamal could only assume was human steel. There was a coldness to his attitude that was unnerving. Well turned out, he didn’t fit the usual reprobate he dealt with. His South African accent was menacing and threaten¬ing. Jamal fought a hard corner. He knew he had a winner, he just needed to hang on a bit longer.
The week previous, Jamal had been hacking American government files and had come across a file marked, ‘Gamma top secret.’
The details of the file were titled HYPNOS. After deep searches on the conventional web and the dark web, he finally made it to the locked vaults of the CIA in Langley. Within minutes, he had download the entire HYPNOS file including the software driver, still not knowing fully what he had. Files and software that had this much security often meant secrets that shouldn’t be made public, or access to software drivers that could be used to aide further his crim¬inal behavior.
When Jamal opened the file, it seemed unbelievable. A software program that could upload instructions to the receiver and the receiver could be made to do whatever the operator wanted. All the software needed was an app-based game, which used eye movement to control the game and soundtrack. This caused a triad of hypnosis to the user, opening the brain-waves for the software to be uploaded.
“Bollocks,” he said out loud.
He quickly found the game that fitted the parameters of the software on the app store, and invited his friends to play the game. Jamal had already hacked most of his friend’s phones, using their location signals to baffle the police for ongoing jobs he did for the criminal underworld. They agreed to play and when he knew they were playing the game, the software did everything else.
Rufus, Jamal’s longtime friend from school, was playing the game in the local pub. Watching him, he had access to the front camera, he could see the progress that he was making while playing it and uploaded the software. Jamal hacked into the security camera at the back of the bar.
With free text, Jamal typed, ‘Steal some beer from the beer tap, and drink it in front of the landlord.’ The software ran algorithms. A few seconds later, the information was being uploaded to the game.
Not more than five seconds later, Rufus put his phone down and walked off. He came into view of the CCTV camera and stopped. He turned almost robotically to the bar, took a step, picked up a half full pint of beer and tipped it on the floor.
The owner of the pint took a step back, demonstrating his anger at what Rufus had done, being quickly held back by the man’s friend.
Rufus didn’t even skip a beat. Leaned over the bar and pulled on the tap. The beer, clear in the footage, was filling up the glass. The beer drinker now incensed. Jamal stifled a laugh.
When the glass was almost full, Rufus took it and started to drink, leaving the tap on, spilling beer all over the floor. At this point, the landlord came into view and was remon-strating. Rufus stood back and drained the beer while stick¬ing his two fingers up at the bar. It was at this point Rufus was wrestled to the ground and dragged out of the bar by the bouncers.
A more sinister exercise – Jamal’s cousin Salma. She worked in the bank as a cashier. He instructed her to steal one thousand pounds secretly, in a way no one would ever know. Deliver it to one of his dead drops by 9 pm that night. Jamal went to the dead drop, scoped the area, then reached into the bush by the phone box. His fingers found the bundle of notes, his heart quickened as he touched them. Pulling them out, he didn’t need to count it. He knew he was on to a winner.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: March 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 334
Genre: Horror
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Tusker

Dougie Arnold

The sudden and violent increase of elephant poaching in the remote Kenya game reserve of Uwingoni threatens its very existence. Those who have devoted themselves to the protection of its precious wildlife seem ill equipped to deal with this new menace.
However, the arrival of two young people with no experience of Africa might just prove a turning point. For the first time in his life Harry feels he has found somewhere he really belongs and something he can fight for and believe in. Ana, a journalist escaping the horrors of a different war, brings a fresh insight into the battle against poaching as she struggles with her own internal demons.
They soon realise they are up against forces far more powerful and brutal than they could ever have imagined. Foreign investors driven by greed, corrupt government officials and religious fanatics with no boundaries, draw them deeper into a web of evil.
Half of all the net profits due to the author will be used to help organisations committed to elephant conservation.


Author Interview

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
I become so engrossed in the characters I am writing about that they become totally real in my head. Their strengths and vulnerabilities in many ways mirror those of a mixture of people I have known in life and of course there is some of me in there too. I like them to be able to behave in ways that allow them dig deep and believe in themselves. So often in our own lives those we know who have real talents or ability don’t have enough self belief to become the person they really are. Combining that with writing about a subject I am really passionate about, in the case of Tusker, elephant poaching, is a strong combination and makes writing itself such a powerful experience.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
My favourite character is Ana. She really feels for the world around her. As a young journalist in a war zone she wants to tell the stories of ordinary people that so often get forgotten. Yet despite her inner strength, her experiences get close to breaking her. How living in a remote Kenyan game reserve helps her to overcome her fears and find herself again is a particularly powerful thread running through the book.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Ginger herbal tea.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I write in the north facing side of the house as the garden and sunshine on the other side distract me. However, people are often walking by, frequently the same ones at around the same time each day and I start to wonder about their lives. My mind is transported to imaginary homes and places of work and if they seem interesting individuals I find it quite hard to refocus on my writing.

How did you research your book?
The fifteen years I spent living in Kenya gave me a great insight into many sides of the country. However, I read up all sorts of additional information on elephants themselves as well as many in depth reports on elephant poaching and its devastating effects.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a pantser. I find that plays a vital part in my enjoyment of writing. I love not really knowing where my imagination is going to take me until I sit in front of the computer. Of course my head is endlessly full of ideas but the outline of the story is on a single sheet of A4 paper.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
I would live in Tolkien’s Middle-Earth. You can almost feel and breath it once you get drawn in. Although it is fantasy it has a remarkable knack of making us believe we are actually a part of it as we read. Who wouldn’t want to pass some time chatting contentedly in the Shire, marvel at the magic of Rivendell, overcome the darkness of Mirkwood and ultimately join the band of those fighting to overthrow the powers of evil. I believe Tolkien fell in love with his own mythology and showed the most amazing self belief to create new worlds, creatures and even languages which through books or films have been enjoyed by millions the world over.

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
When I first read Winnie the Pooh as a young boy I thought he was the most wonderful, happy, fun creation and all these years later he remains the fictional character I would most enjoy as a friend. There is a simplicity and innocence about him that is sorely missed in the stresses of today’s world. There is so much joy in his adventures and to be one of his friends and to share in them would be utterly magical. We all know Tiggers, Rabbits or Kangas in our daily lives but Pooh was the glue that held them all together. He said simple, profound things but this is probably my favourite, “Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.” Who wouldn’t want Winnie the Pooh as a special friend?

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: March 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 298
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Caught in a Cold War Trap

Miller Caldwell

Listening to a Radio Moscow broadcast on holiday on Jura, Glasgow schoolboy Robert Harvie finds errors in the programme which he reports to the Russians. Then, as a student, the Soviets give him a grant, and so Robert is inadvertently compromised. His first job takes him to Ghana, and soon he has murder on his hands. How can he escape Soviet attention?


Exclusive Extract

Have you ever been to the island of Jura? Not many people have. If you are a whisky connoisseur you possibly toured the island’s distillery to taste the Isle of Jura single malt. Perhaps you were a climber assaulting the famous Paps of Jura, or a sailor assessing the treacherous cauldron of the Corryvreckan whirlpool from the safety of land. Maybe you needed to imbibe the presence of George Orwell (aka Eric Blair) who completed Nineteen Eighty-Four at Barnhill on the north of the island. That’s about all you can do on Jura, which is why not many go there. That however, may be its attraction. I was there during the Cold War and there my spying career took roots. I was on a family holiday in July 1967. In the third week, my life changed forever.
My name is Robert Harvie and on that holiday I turned sixteen years of age. My father was a Church of Scotland minister. Minister’s families were not rich, so the holidays were the only real perks we enjoyed. Dad would bring four sermons with him each summer and the pulpit exchange was complete when our manse in Glasgow was occupied by the minister whose manse we lived in for a month. We usually enjoyed somewhere with fresh sea air, while the other minister and his family explored the culture of the Gallus Glaswegians, their numerous parks and the animated city which ‘Smiles Better’ with its keen sense of humour.
It was a wet morning. I remember that well. A real humdinger of a downpour, I heard my father say. I stood in the small north facing wooden porch while the salty air filled my lungs. The rain made the nearby coastline of Mull of Kintyre invisible. I cursed this four-week island break for being neither summer, nor a holiday. I longed to be home in the city engaging in the many different interests I had.
By lunchtime, the rain had retreated. A tiny patch of blue sky fought through the grey cloud, offering a ray of hope. The land in slow progress began to have a re-birth. Colours became vibrant once more and the single track road’s tarmac glistened. I focussed on a snail crossing the road. It was not risking a car’s approach; few cars were on the island but I feared a seagull might be tempted to devour the slow-moving creature. I ran towards it in haste. I picked up the snail and placed it on the grass verge. It felt good—a good deed accomplished on a boring day. The snail was insecure and unwilling to reappear from its shell at first. I waited in silence. It did too. Then I smiled as it continued its journey into grassy cover.
I turned around and saw the sun settle on a verdant hillock behind the manse. I decided to get to its summit and take the family Bush radio with me. My mother approved my plan and I set off. It was a steep climb and my route was circuitous—to avoid calf strain. I stopped and turned around. I saw a tanker in the distance. It moved slowly like that reluctant snail I helped cross the road. I imagined myself on the ship, going somewhere exotic. It was sailing down the Firth of Clyde after all, and that perhaps meant an American trip, even South America. There again it might just be going to Ireland. My thoughts came back to land.
The swirling wind dictated which way my blond hair would flow as I arrived breathless on the crest of the hill. My foot caught a heather clad mound. Then I saw I had caused a disturbance to the zigzag of an angry adder. It moved like a retracting hose away from me and I relaxed. I forgot to mention—Jura had a number of vipers lurking in the undergrowth in the hills. On warm sunny days, they could be seen on any open land squirming around on the warm ground. I found a flat grassy bank and sat down.
The Bush radio gave me the Home Service and the Light programme. I could not concentrate on their urban offerings so changed the button at the top to short wave and turned the dial. I caught some French programme and lingered to hear an excited high-pitched Parisian woman. It could advance my French studies, which would resume in two weeks’ time back at school. However, after I had heard a sentence or two of her rapid French fire I could not follow her line of thought. I turned the dial further on. This time I heard a farming report. I gave up re-tuning. I kept the station on and lay back to absorb some sun. I could have fallen asleep in a matter of moments but there was something odd about the programme.
The announcer spoke about English Ayrshire cows. What a howler. That was akin to saying Eccles cakes come from Aberdeen. There was more to confuse me. The reporter spoke about the 12 coal mines in Suffolk, the powerhouse of energy for the south of England. Suffolk coal? I knew these facts to be wrong and waited for the punch line. It never came. When the programme ended the announcer informed me that Farming Matters would broadcast at the same time next week, on Radio Moscow.
It was not a comedy after all, but an inaccurate description of British farming and land use. I felt indignation; an urge to respond, to clear up their misinformation. After all, I had little else to occupy my time. So that night in bed I wrote a letter explaining that Ayrshire cows were from Ayrshire, in Scotland, and Suffolk was farming land and did not have a coal seam—as I recalled from my school geography notes.
The following day I took my letter, addressed to Radio Moscow, Moscow, U.S.S.R. to the Craighouse post office, which was in a cottage. A red post box outside gave the clue that the postmistress lived inside. I entered setting off a bell clanger above my head. A woman came through from her lounge, closed the door behind her and sat down on a floor screeching wooden chair by her ink padded desk. She read the address.
‘Moscow? That’s foreign,’ she confirmed in a matter-offact voice and opened a book. Two fingers ran down the columns like sprinters. ‘Anything in the letter I should know about?’ she asked.
I hesitated. My heart seemed to stop beating for a moment. I supposed I could share its contents with her. ‘I have written to them to show there were mistakes in one of their programmes.’
She looked at me through horn-rimmed glasses. ‘I don’t need to know what you write. So, is it just paper inside?’
I nodded somewhat embarrassed. She took her fingers from the list then snapped the book closed.
‘Then that’s nine pence postage. It might take a few days to get there.’
Phew, I expected to pay more. She returned the letter to me and I took it to the post box outside. As it dropped down into dark oblivion I wondered how soon she would retrieve it and have it sent seaward, landward and forward to Moscow.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: February 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 172
Genre: Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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