Posts Tagged ‘Extract’

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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Dawn of the Patriot

Okimi Peters

Plagued by the mysterious death of his older brother, the unassuming yet highly spirited 19 year old Ziik will be thrust on the daunting path to becoming a vigilante in the Third World. Progressively finding himself as a symbol of light through the shadows of Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, Ziik must not only weave through the present day complexities of his homeland on his quest for justice; he must also learn to overcome himself to find peace.


Extract

Click here to see a few pages from the Graphic Novel!

Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 30
Genre: Graphic Novel
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: N/A
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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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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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The Princess and the Valley Man

Dorota Kluza and Evan Williams

The Princess and the Valley Man is an enthralling, educational tale of adventure, fantastic creatures, and dashing acts of bravery!
Join Solis and Princess Luna, on an amazing journey through the Earth’s most unusual place: Death Valley. Luna, a princess from a kingdom in a far-away star, is curious to see the sights in Death Valley. And Solis, smitten by Luna’s beauty, is only too happy to indulge her.
They travel through landscapes – from the exhilarating Sea of Sand to the majestic Canyon of Marble to the eerily frightening Mysterious Cave – forming new friendships and gaining a deep understanding of each other.
Meet fantastic creatures – from moving rock formations, to Kiko the talking bird, even mysterious inhabitants of a ghost town – and be with Solis and Princess Luna as they dodge challenges, solve puzzles, craft clever solutions and find a way out of hairy situations.
More important, discover how to love with all your heart, the most seemingly unlovable place on Earth.


Exclusive Extract

There was a place on Earth that was considered most unusual: Death Valley, which was in California in the United States. Now you might be asking yourself: what make’s Death Valley so unusual? Well, it was a land of extremes. While it had towering mountains, it also had below-sea-level salt flats and even sand dunes. All strewn across the landscape were rock formations of many colors, some of which held mystery. Sometimes, when the rain comes at the right time, the landscape would bloom with an explosion of flowers. These mostly grow from the many seeds that had been waiting in the dirt; sometimes they wait many years for the rain to come. Mostly, though, it is the heat that makes this place famous. You see, Death Valley is the hottest place on Earth!

One day, because of Death Valley’s unique terrain and features that focused the sun’s energy upon itself, it reached a temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56,6 Celsius degrees) – the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth. Something very special also happened on that day: a child was born in this place of extremes. This child, some say, got something even more special from the sun on that day, an inexplicable kind of energy that would be with him wherever he went which kept him safe and protected him from harm. His parents called him Solis. He was an extraordinary boy who grew up in this most interesting and unusual place. He was not afraid of anything and he made lots of friends, including local animals that he used to play with. A born explorer who never gets sick, decided one day to take it upon himself to protect and preserve Death Valley, which he loved with all his heart.

As a young man, Solis travelled to many places far and wide and has seen many kingdoms. In fact, as a former soldier in his kingdom’s army, he had fought in many battles. His exploits were famous throughout the lands, especially among schoolchildren who were studying history. Living in Death Valley, he worked by helping those who came to seek adventure and see the amazing sights.

One day, on his way back home after a deeply exhausting day at work, he came upon a group of travelers who had become trapped in their big coach within a massive sand cloud. He sped up his wagon to reach them quickly and to help them get out of it. He knew it was not a typical sand cloud caused by the wind, but a monstrous attack of a deadly sand creature living in this area that could not stand any noise. Luckily for the travellers, Solis was not afraid of it!

“Do not leave your coach!” Solis screamed. “Close the windows and your doors, and be as quiet as possible!”

But the travellers were overwhelmed with fear and panic. “Help us and get us out of here!” They screamed. “Get us out of here, please!”

Solis jumped off his wagon as quickly as he could. He looked like a cowboy wearing an old Western-looking bandana on his face and a special pair of shoes designed to not sink on any surface. He ran to them, then tied a big thick cotton rope from his wagon to their coach. But at this moment, the scary sand creature came out of the sand cloud and started to shake the noisy coach violently from one side to the other.

The travellers were screaming loudly from fear, but Solis was not afraid of the creature at all. He stayed calm, carefully connecting the rope. He made a few quick steps, like he was floating on the sand on his wide flat shoes, and was back in his wagon in a second, pulling the tourists and their coach away from this dangerous sand monster.

Once they all were on safe ground, Solis emerged from his wagon covered in sand. “Are you all okay? Is anyone hurt?” His voice was calm, reassuring. “This was the sand beast living in this area. I hope she did not scare you too much. Next time you must be more careful here and must follow some precautions. By the way, my name is Solis.”

Just as he introduced himself to the travellers, he saw among them the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He was entranced. But the travellers interrupted his reverie, crying with happiness and saying, “You saved us! You saved us! Thank you so much, Solis!”

“Oh my goodness, you are all covered in sand,” one of them said, helping Solis dust the dirt off his shirt. “We are very sorry for this trouble, but we got confused by the intense heat of this place. Luckily, we found the coach. But when we tried to drive out, the beast attacked us. You know the rest of the story, Solis. You are our hero!”

Solis’s face blushed from the attention. “Oh, I’m not a hero, guys. I am just glad I could help and to make sure you are all fine. Travellers often get confused from the heat here. Ordinary folks could rarely stand the kind of heat we have in Death Valley. Just be more careful next time, wear a hat and drink lots of water, and watch out and take precautions to avoid the sand beasts in this area.” Solis flashed them a smile that was pure charm.

“We would love to thank you, somehow, Solis,” said someone from the group. “Please allow us to invite you for dinner tonight?”

“It is really not necessary,” he replied, but then he could not take his eyes off the beautiful girl. “But of course, I would love to have dinner with you all.”

“Hoooraay!” they cheered in unison. “See you tonight at the Last Kind Words Saloon?”
“See you then,” replied Solis happily.

On the way to their accommodation, the travellers could not stop talking about how Solis fought off the deadly sand creature, and how brave he was for saving them. And among them, the beautiful girl that Solis liked merely smiled, quietly anticipating to meet him again.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: January 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 100
Genre: Adventure
Age: MG
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Coffee Traveller

Fahad Ben G.

A collection of musings about travel, life, love, family, relationships, the future and growing up in Saudi Arabia, by the author and poet Fahad Ben G.


Exclusive Extract

Invisible lines tie me to you whether I like it or not.

No matter how much I travel away from you, no matter how far we are, and no matter how different our roads are;

No matter how distinct our stations are, and no matter how your routes and mine are different;

The invisible lines continue to tie me to you.

Constant they are… they exceed the multitude of people between you and me.

Tense they are…indifferent to the laws of the universe or the gravity of Earth.

Unaffected by the amount of rocks and dismal valleys,

That separate my icy mountain from your flaming mountain…

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: October 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 140
Genre: Poetry
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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The Magic Fairy Godmother

Libby Lake

Hesta is a beautiful but different creature , who everyone wonders about . This is until she meets a dashing Prince called Lance with Star, the unicorn. They are transformed by The Magic Fairy Godmother, but can they live happily ever after or is the spell about to be broken …


Today we’re sharing with you a short extract from this book. We hope you enjoy!

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: November 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 18
Genre: Picture Book
Age: Children
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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Demon’s Fire

Lee Cockburn

Demon’s Fire is the third instalment in the crime thriller series featuring DS Taylor Nicks and DC Marcus Black.
The City had barely settled back to normal when the sky turned orange as flames licked upwards and smoke billowed out from a quiet industrial estate in Edinburgh.

Blood-curdling screams of those trapped within were muffled by the sound-proofed room as the women climbed desperately over one another to try and escape, their efforts futile against their prison walls, their captors slain where they sat, bullet holes in their heads.
Human trafficking, prostitution, drug dealing, kidnapping, violence and murder hidden in plain sight in Edinburgh City Centre.
Drug dealer Burnett’s grip on the city has no limits, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that remains the case.
Nicks and Black struggle to secure evidence against him within the confines of the law, but an enemy of Burnett, hell-bent on revenge, doesn’t have to play by their rules.
A thrilling story of crime and retribution, good versus evil, Demon’s Fire will have you on the edge of your seat as the tentacles of despair take hold of your emotions.
Hearts are broken and others mended as the tale gathers momentum, the lives of the officers forever entwined by fate.


Exclusive Extract

Dressed in black from head to toe, a balaclava covering his face, he made his way swiftly down towards the tram line that ran parallel with the industrial estate. Once into the Gyle area, he popped with ease a window of the first decent motor he came across, his skills honed from his youth. He also started the car with very little effort and drove at speed towards the bypass that surrounded Edinburgh, only removing his headwear once he was out of view of the prying CCTV cameras in the area. He drove to the place where he planned to dump the vehicle and find another. His veins coursed with adrenaline, visible in his neck. His head felt like it was going to explode, the realisation of what he had just done hitting home. He continued to wonder who could have been in the warehouse. He did not know how Nelson Burnett, head of the city’s organised crime group, would respond, but he knew that this would certainly get his attention and that his own life was now in mortal danger. He would be hunted by many, and he would suffer badly if he was ever caught, but he smiled all the same.

Only now did he think of the scale of what he had done to get his revenge, the carnage and value of damage he had caused and what the fall out would be throughout the city. Others would try to move in on Burnett’s turf and there would be much violence and death required to restore the equilibrium, but he couldn’t allow this to deter him. The adrenaline subsided, and he thought back to the two men he had shot at the warehouse and where they had been sitting. Why had the door been barricaded from the outside? He thought it strange that the bar could be lifted easily, giving no security for what was kept inside. Anyone would be able to gain entry if required. His heart sank. He felt nauseous as he thought back to Nelson’s other trade, brothels and prostitution. There was always a constant supply of girls. He shook his head and tried to convince himself that all that was inside that building was drugs, and that the tapping he had heard was that of a few more scumbags that had got what was coming to them, but still his heart felt heavy. Burnett never revealed where he kept his girls, and he certainly didn’t trust them to live freely. What if? A tear appeared in the corner of his eye as he remembered his beautiful wife and unborn child and what had happened to them. He vomited uncontrollably, his heart sore at the thought that he might have inflicted the same terror on some other innocents.

Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Publication Date: November 2019
Format: Paperback
Pages: 322
Genre: Thriller
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Review Copy
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