book review · dystopian · murder mystery · post apocalyptic

Book Review – The Visitor: A Post Apocalyptic Murder Mystery

by Terry Tyler

Summary

In 2024, a mystery virus ravages the entire world. ‘Bat Fever’ is highly contagious and a hundred per cent lethal.

A cottage tucked away in an isolated Norfolk village seems like the ideal place to sit out a catastrophic pandemic, but some residents of Hincham resent the arrival of Jack, Sarah and their friends, while others want to know too much about them.

What the villagers don’t know is that beneath Sarah’s cottage is a fully-stocked, luxury survival bunker. A post-apocalyptic ‘des res’.

Hincham isolates itself from the rest of the country, but the deaths continue―and not from the virus. There’s a killer on the loose, but is it a member of the much-depleted community, or someone from outside? As the body count rises, paranoia sets in; friend suspects friend, and everyone suspects the newcomers.

Most terrifying of all is that no one knows who’s next on the list…

The Visitor is Terry Tyler’s twenty-second Amazon publication, and is set in the same world as her Project Renova series, while being a completely separate, stand-alone novel.

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My Review

I realise reading about a deadly virus during a global pandemic might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it certainly gives perspective. The 2024 virus in The Visitor has basically said to Covid-19, “Hold my beer”, which is as good a reason as any to read on. I mean did any of us believe a year ago that we’d be in the position we are today? Of course not! So, with that in mind – and knowing there’s a vaccine on its way – I’m putting dystopian fiction back in the bottle.

Let’s set the scene: it’s 2024 and life after Covid-19 has returned to some degree of normality since 2020, but the term ‘pandemic’ returns to the world’s vocabulary when a new virus strikes, and this time it’s much more deadly. This time, the virus kills everyone who gets it; there’s no recovery. People die in droves and the authorities cannot cope. Bodies are bagged up and left in the streets for disposal, hospitals are attacked by vaccine-hunters, and the army is on the streets to reinforce some sort of order. But for how long?

There are four initial main characters: Jack, Sarah, Rexy & Daisy, friends since their university days when they shared a house. Still in touch, they reunite to visit the house in Hincham left to Sarah by her Uncle Jerry. On finding its hidden bunker with stocks and supplies of everything imaginable, they joke about meeting up again should there ever be another pandemic. Words that come back to haunt them.

However, each has moved on in life, so when the virus hits, they are not all able to flee for the safety of the bunker. In fact, two of them do not survive, but instead their loved ones turn up at the house in their place. I really enjoyed this part of the story, seeing their individual stories develop before they make their way to the village of Hincham.

Not everyone is pleased to see them, and it takes a while for them to be accepted by the villagers. So, it comes as no surprise that when a villager is found murdered, fingers are immediately pointed at the new arrivals.

They need to prove their worth if they are to avoid further criticism, and keep their secret bunker secret. The four characters have very differing views on how to respond to the villagers’ accusations – from sharing out their stocks to appease them, to not giving a damn about what is said about them. The story is told through their different viewpoints, interspersed with chapters by The Visitor, so the readers get unfettered access to their innermost thoughts. But, don’t even think that the identity of The Visitor is going to be revealed through these thoughts, because …well, it’s a mystery, and such a thing ain’t gonna happen. (Don’t ask me why I went all American-movie there, it just felt right 😉 – maybe it’s a prediction that this should be dramatised)

More deaths occur, the vitriol towards them ebbs and flows, but the anti-newcomer vibe is strong for a long time despite them doing their level best to integrate and be helpful. Just when you think there’s a pattern that could lead to revealing the killer, The Visitor mixes things up again. When even the army turn them down after they ask for help to find the killer, there seems to be little anyone can do except to hope the killer has moved on – which, of course, is pie in the sky.

However, as time goes on, it transpires someone is close to the truth. The killer’s time in the village is short lived and fleeing is the only option. For me, this is where the story began to drag a little as the killer’s story is told, and the reason for each of the murders is explained. I appreciate the reader needed to understand how The Visitor came to be, but it did feel a tad drawn out to me (it’s a long book). However, it’s worth hanging on in there, because someone is out to find the killer and make The Visitor face those back in Hincham. Unfortunately, the killer is still ahead of the game and the final twist is sublime, and leaves the door open for a sequel.

As a murder-mystery, this book is a very satisfying read. At times, I felt convinced I knew who the killer was, then there’d be a sharp twist that threw my suspicions off course. The post-apocalyptic setting is both fascinating and terrifying especially given the current climate. Multi-layered characters with complex personalities make you believe one thing and then another: it’s a complete roller-coaster ride to the big reveal, only to be topped by such a perfectly devious ending.

Highly recommended to readers who enjoy a thought-provoking murder-mystery. I received an ebook copy via Reads & Reels to read in exchange for an honest review.

As always,


book review · NetGalley · psychological suspense

Book Review – Unfaithful

by Natalie Barelli

“Thank you,” I say sweetly when she tells me I’m lucky to have such a beautiful family. But I want to tell her it’s not just luck. A family is like a fortress you have to defend all the time. You can’t relax because there’s always someone looking for a breach, always someone trying to get in. Someone just like her…

When I arrive unannounced at my husband’s studio in need of a shoulder to cry on after hearing that my best student, Alex, has died, I see a pair of wineglasses drying by the sink and my deepest fear is confirmed: my husband is having an affair.

Most women would fall to their knees in tears and throw him out of the house—but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Instead, I go home and cook a healthy dinner for our children, walk the dog and unload the dishwasher without complaint. I will make him see that I’m still the woman he married; attractive, successful, the glue that holds our perfect family together. I need this marriage to work to protect a terrible secret of my own, something that would destroy everything I’ve already sacrificed so much for.

But when the police arrive at my door asking questions about Alex’s death that I can’t answer, and threatening text messages start appearing on my phone, I know that someone close has been watching me very carefully.

The truth is, there are three people in my marriage, but only one of them is deadly…

My Review

I’d seen such a lot being said about this book, and all of it good. There was no doubt in my mind that I had to read it. And, everything they were saying about it was true!

It was a slow start, but far from dull as the reader is introduced to Anna and her family, and then her colleagues. She’s a maths professor, a numbers geek, working at the university mentoring students – it’s all pretty normal. Her husband, Luis, is an artist in the throes of an exhibition that could be awesome for his career. With two wonderful kids and a dog, life really is perfect.

It all starts to go wrong when Anna is passed over for a tenured position. Then one of her students, with whom she has solved a high-profile maths theory declares he’s going to publish alone, leaving her name off the paper. When he falls to his death, she wonders if she was responsible in some way. Will the police come for her? They do, but only to question her, but Anna is extremely paranoid and has moments of introspection that last forever.

She’s faced with the dilemma of whether to publish now as the sole author. But on top of that, she senses her husband is having an affair. Then her boss, Geoff, is a slimeball who can’t take no for an answer. Anna feels like her life is out of control, and she’s not about to sit back and be walked all over again. Trouble is, it seems anything Anna touches simply creates more problems for her, and by getting drunk she does actually lose control … and then cannot recall what she might have or might not have done (which is kind of important when there are more fatal accidents and she has no alibi)

Told in first person, with Anna as the most unreliable narrator, you might feel the plot is more than a little unrealistic at times. But, oh is it fun. Is Anna going mad with everything that’s going on? You have to wonder, and in doing so, you’ll be hooked till the very end which will blow you away with an almighty bonkers turn of events. The clues are there, but will you see them? I didn’t.

If you enjoy a fun, crazy ride with a hefty dose of paranoia and oodles of suspense, then check it out.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher – Bookouture -and have reviewed this voluntarily.

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blog tour · book review · Christmas · Christmas novella · Disney · Happy Ever After

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Mistletoe and the Mouse

Mistletoe and the Mouse

Can a magical Christmas melt a frozen heart?

Join Belle and James as they visit Mickey Mouse for a sparkling holiday season at Disneyland Paris.

Belle has been numb since her mother died, and she can’t face Christmas at home without her. Instead she books a surprise holiday to her “happy place” – the Magic Kingdom. But her boyfriend James has problems of his own. He doesn’t “do Disney” and what will his mother think of him missing their family Christmas to go to Disneyland with Belle?

A festive romance with a sprinkling of Pixie Dust.

Purchase Links

https://amzn.to/31o1Cu3 (Amazon)

Theme Park Press website: http://themeparkpress.com/

 

Author Bio

Elsa Simonetti was born in the same year as Walt Disney World, but many miles away in the north of England. Her earliest Disney memory is crying during Bambi at the Saturday morning cinema club! It wasn’t until her own children were small that her husband introduced her to the magic of Disneyland Paris, and since then she has become obsessed, proving Walt Disney’s own belief that “Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age and dreams are forever”. That was the seed of this story – that Disneyland is not just for children, but for anyone who is young at heart.

Elsa also writes romantic women’s fiction under the name of Liz Taylorson

Social Media Links

Twitter: @Elsasimonetti

@taylorson_liz

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElsaSimonettiAuthor

https://www.facebook.com/TaylorsonLiz

My Review

For me, every Christmas is better with a sprinkle of Disney but this year even more so. I had to squeeze this one in. 

Belle is still mourning the loss of her mother, and her relationship with James accelerated as he stepped in to comfort her. But Belle and James are very different people, and she wonders if their relationship had been allowed to develop at its normal would they still be together. Belle is Disney-obsessed (nothing wrong with that at all 😉 ) while James is into his rugby big-time, both playing and watching. Belle hasn’t even seen him play yet. So, booking a break to Disneyland Paris over the Christmas holidays seems like the perfect way for them to spend more time together as a couple. But, first, they have to tell his mother. 

James does his best to show enthusiasm, but it’s clear a Disney holiday is not his idea of fun, especially at Christmas when his mother likes all the family to gather round. 

But, of course, his mother is gracious in agreeing for James to accompany Belle to Paris. That graciousness becomes ever more evident when we later learn her reason for keeping her family close by over the festive season. 

Belle’s awe and delight is not immediately reflected in her boyfriend’s eyes and she begins to regret asking him along. However, this wouldn’t be Disney without some magic, and James is soon won over by “proper” restaurants and “big” rides, despite Belle’s love for the gentler side of the park with all the lights and fireworks. Can a sprinkle of pixie dust be enough to realign them and their future together?

As a big Disney fan, and a frequent visitor to Disneyland Paris – without kids, because …well, just because 😉  – Belle’s wonderment mirrors my own. “It’s a Small World” is my happy place too. Like Belle, my mum loved it too, and I can empathise with her as she recalls how much her mum would have enjoyed the Christmas theme. That said, I understand there are people like James who don’t “do Disney”, but that’s generally because they haven’t tried it, or they think it’s only for kids. this book did more to disprove that argument than I ever could. 

This was such a heartwarming story, and James’s mum turns out not to be the Evil (Step)Mother thanks to a delightful twist in the tale that sees Belle’s reconsider her impression of the woman.  As with all Disney stories, there’s a message here: don’t judge people until you really know them. Belle’s own grief cut her off from others a little, but with the help of Disney she was able to see through the tears and welcome in a new future for herself … and maybe James too. 

I enjoyed reminiscing over the sights and sounds, the queues (!?), the real food in the restaurants, and the utter magic of  the Parade. Belle and James were the perfect hosts, and they thoroughly deserve a happy ending. 

Thank you to the author and Theme Park Press for my copy of this book which I have voluntarily read and honestly reviewed.

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blog tour · book review · crime · detective · noir fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Return to Hiroshima

About Return to Hiroshima

1995, Japan struggles with a severe economic crisis.
Xavier Douterloigne, the son of a Belgian diplomat, returns to Hiroshima, where he spent his youth, to come to terms with the death of his sister.
Inspector Takeda finds a deformed baby lying dead at the foot of the Peace Monument, a reminder of Hiroshima’s war history.
A Yakuza-lord, rumored to be the incarnation of the Japanese demon Rokurobei, mercilessly defends his criminal empire against his daughter Mitsuko, whom he considers insane.
And the punk author Reizo, obsessed by the ultra-nationalistic ideals of his literary idol Mishima, recoils at nothing to write the novel that will “overturn Japan’s foundations”….
Hiroshima’s indelible war-past simmers in the background of this ultra-noir novel.
Clandestine experiments conducted by Japanese Secret Service Unit 731 during WWII are unveiled and leave a sinister stain on the reputation of the imperial family and Japanese society.

Praise for Return to Hiroshima:

MMM named Return to Hiroshima as ” one of the ten best international crime novels of 2018

“Author Bob Van Laerhoven pulls together an outlandish ensemble cast of peculiar personalities; fierce, fragile individuals who claw their way under your skin. Their predicaments –and their potential to unleash chaos – drag you into the narrative’s darkening abyss.” — Murder Mayhem & MoreRating: 5 out of 5.

“Van Laerhoven’s mastery of his subject and his flawless maneuvering through Japan’s unique past make one forget the depth of his narrative. There are many layers to Return to Hiroshima, and Van Laerhoven’s gift is crafting many intriguing subplots to create an energetic whole. But ‘layered’ is not quite right. Like an iceberg, a predictable part of Japan is visible for anyone to see. But beneath the surface lies mortal danger. And Van Laerhoven bravely plumbs those depths, for what’s underneath is a separate universe. What’s unsaid. What’s unaccounted for. Secrets no one admits to. Furious, revengeful rages hide beneath cool facades. Unspoken but understood conspiracies feed quests to right ultimate wrongs”. Joseph Brewer, Amazon

“The farther and deeper you progress into this often disturbing and yet captivating tale, the more you will be rewarded as the different and complex strands eventually draw together. Be warned though, this is no easy story to read and one that demands the reader’s full attention and concentration. Nor as I’ve intimated is this a book for the faint-hearted or those who prefer neatly packaged happy endings or a book filled with easily identified characters you’re supposed to either like or hate. Nonetheless, a powerful and multilayered story for those willing to stray from the more conventional thriller style and setting.” Rudders Reviews

“What a fine book. .. I was fascinated, intrigued and puzzled all the way through what is a fairly hefty read. Nothing is predictable. The puzzles are clear, their answers apparently transparent but in fact often opaque. No character is exactly what they seem, and the ways the characters present themselves are written with a seriously sure hand. The historical events behind the story are generously under-dramatized, and the level of detail is very high indeed. A great book.” Frank Westworth, Amazon

About the Author:

Van Laerhoven is a 67-year-old Belgian/Flemish author who has published (traditionally) more than 45 books in Holland and Belgium. His cross-over oeuvre between literary and noir/suspense is published in French, English, German, Spanish, Swedish, Slovenian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Chinese.

In Belgium, Laerhoven was a four-time finalist of the ‘Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Mystery Novel of the Year’ with the novels ‘Djinn’, ‘The Finger of God’, ‘Return to Hiroshima’, and ‘The Firehand Files’.

In 2007, he became the winner of the coveted Hercule Poirot Prize with ‘Baudelaire’s Revenge’, which, in English translation, also won the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category ‘mystery/suspense’.

His first collection of short stories ‘Dangerous Obsessions’, published in the USA in 2015, was chosen as the ‘best short story collection of 2015’ by the San Diego Book Review. The collection has been translated into Italian, (Brazilian) Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. 

‘Return to Hiroshima’, his second crime novel in English, was published in May 2018 by Crime Wave Press(Hong Kong).  The British quality review blog Murder, Mayhem & More has chosen ‘Return to Hiroshima’ as one of the ten best international crime novels of 2018. MMM reviews around 200 novels annually by international authors.

Also in 2018, the Anaphora Literary Press published ‘Heart Fever’, his second collection of short stories. ‘Heart Fever’ was one of the five finalists of the American Silver Falchion Award. Laerhoven was the only non-American finalist. The collection has been translated into Italian and Spanish. A German translation is currently in production.

Author links:

My Review

Having recently read the memoir of a survivor of Hiroshima, I was “in the zone” and keen to read this book.

The story began slowly as the author introduced us to lots of characters, each with their own chapter and story. The transitions from one chapter to another were abrupt and choppy; this was a book that demanded concentration to keep up with the many characters and how they would eventually fit together. I did find it quite difficult to follow, but as the story developed and more was revealed about the characters it became almost compulsive reading to see what happened next. By the midpoint I was totally invested and intrigued. The author’s quirky style had won me over.

Without a shadow of a doubt I can say this story had a varied cast unlike any other book I’ve ever read ( to name but a few there was a Japanese “demon” figure (both masked and unmasked quite a terrifying character), a detective who is singled out for not being 100% Japanese, a fearsome German photographer with an eye for dark subject matter and ready to take risks for the right shot, a giant daughter figure with a dubious version of the truth, and her manga-influenced friend). Their back stories were detailed and complex, and – for me – a little too in-depth at times. Although I admired how the author tied together the past and the present, bringing the traumatic events of 1945 to life as he mingled the aftermath into the lives of his characters. I’ll be honest, though – with some characters I’m still not overly sure who to believe as many their stories contradicted each other and I couldn’t see the truth for the blurring of the lines. Definitely a story to keep you thinking!

There are some gory and violent scenes, and while these make for some uncomfortable reading, I’d consider these scenes pertinent to the overall tone of the story. I will admit that at times I didn’t understand all aspects of the plot, but the author’s intricate details kept me interested, and I rooted for Detective Takeda all the way. The twist at the end was dramatic and unexpected, yet also sublimely appropriate. This was certainly not a story where anything was predictable.

4 stars from me.

As always,

blog tour · book review · romance · starting over · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – The Villa of Dreams

The Villa of Dreams

‘Beautifully written, comforting and utterly uplifting, Lucy Coleman’s stories are the perfect tonic when life is a little grey.’ Holly Martin

Seren Maddison left behind a rainy Britain to follow her dreams and live and work in Lisbon. The vibrancy, the beautiful scenery and the sunshine, made her fall in love and she knew, instantly, that it would be her forever home.

International artist Reid Henderson has homes in Lisbon and London. Following his painful divorce, his dream is to turn his luxurious home into an art school and gallery.

When Seren and Reid first meet there is an instant attraction, but they are both people who have been hurt, and each have dreams that are so far apart, they aren’t even on the same page. 

Can they enjoy one summer of happiness together, as life bestows a gift of memories to cherish for the rest of their lives? Or is their destiny to chart a path into the future, in a home where dreams can come true?

Seren and Reid may be about to discover that love is as much about what you are prepared to give up, as what you are prepared to keep hold of.

Let Lucy Coleman transport you away to sun-drenched Portugal where true love really can conquer all, and home is where the heart is. Perfect for all fans of Trisha Ashley, Holly Martin and Sue Moorcroft.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3hIk99I

Author Bio

Lucy Coleman is a #1 bestselling romance writer, whose recent novels include Summer in Provence and Snowflakes over Holly Cove.

She also writes under the name Linn B. Halton.

She won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award and lives in the Welsh Valleys.

 

 

Social Media Links 

My Review

4/5 stars

I always enjoy reading about characters who have packed up and moved away to another country where both the language and culture are so very different to what they are used to. As an immigrant myself, I find myself smiling and nodding along as the character gets to grips with their new life. The author paints such a beautiful picture of Lisbon, invoking memories of visiting there as a child and being overwhelmed by the hugeness of the Cristo Rei.  Admittedly, while I appreciated the attention to detail, it did have the effect of slowing the story down at the beginning. That said, the scene where she has her first Pastéis de nata with her colleagues had me salivating! 🙂 

The core theme of the novel is the exhibition Seren has proposed to her new bosses; ambitious it may be, but she is convinced she can pull it off – in spite of Rafael, one of the big draws to the event, who isn’t as involved or as enthusiastic as she is. Luckily, she has another one of the main artists, Reid, on her side. He has his own family issues to contend with – divorce, his daughter, and an ex-wife who is still involved in his business.  he and Seren have very different goals, and their slow-burn of a romance sometimes looks as though it might never get off the ground despite the very obvious spark between them. 

Seren’s own artistic streak is enjoyably original, creating sculptures from metal. It’s demonstrative of her need to break free from the family business back in the UK, where her father had been over-domineering. Both she and Reid have baggage to deal with, and hopes and dreams that don’t align, but can they find a way through? 

This is such a lovely story, combining travel, art and new starts with a gentle, easy to read style – what’s not to love about it? 
With thanks to Boldwood Books, NetGalley and Rachel’s Random Resources for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

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blog tour · British · Guest Post · historical · series

Guest Post for “Becoming Alfie” – a new historical fiction series.

Becoming Alfie

Alfie Norrington was born into poverty in London’s East End in the first minute of the twentieth century. His life was a battle. From the Brick Lane markets where young Alfie pilfered and pickpocketed, to the trenches of Flanders, Alfie fought every step of the way.

Almost killed by a trench bomb he battled to recover and while in a military hospital Alfie made a promise that dramatically change’s his life. A true East End hero, Alfie begins his journey away from poverty armed with a robust moral compass and an open heart.

Becoming Alfie is the first in the Alfie Norrington series. It follows the life of a man who positively influenced thousands of people. The world needs more individuals like Alfie Norrington, that give much more than they take.

Purchase Links

www.alfienorrington.com

https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Alfie-Norrington-Book-One-ebook/dp/B08KD57DFW

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Becoming-Alfie-Norrington-Book-One-ebook/dp/B08KD57DFW

Author Bio – Born in South Essex close to the River Thames and directly East of London, my childhood was peppered with memories of the mighty river itself.

We would swim, fish and discover hidden treasure in the tidal mudflats with the fragments of clay pipes we found taking us back to another era. It was here that my inspiration for writing was born. I began to keep a diary of my observations from life and documented my feelings and thoughts.

My wife was twenty two and I was twenty four when we migrated to Australia with a glorious expectation. The sun was shining, the people were friendly and Sydney Harbour simply magnificent. Together we were committed to making the most of this opportunity beginning the next step in our lives. Everything was new which gave me endless writing opportunities that I recorded in my diary which had spilled over into a number of books. We travelled around this incredible country meeting people from all walks of life and from many nationalities. We lived and worked in a variety of capital cities enjoying each and every experience. All this was tremendous fodder for my writing.

I began to write short stories and poetry, none of which I sought to publish. By my fifty second birthday I was able to finish working and focus full time on my writing, the results so far are The Alfie Norrington Series with Becoming Alfie the first in the series of four. I hope that you enjoy reading Becoming Alfie as much as I did writing it.

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Author-Neil-Patterson-102404418274110

Website. www.alfienorrington.com

Guest Post by Neil Patterson

The freedom to write without constraint is one of the most wonderful aspects of being human. The citizens of the UK along with the majority of people in the world, can write whatever they wish, publish it in some form and discuss the contents locally or globally. It can be shared around the world at the press of a button. These are the two aspects that I would like to dig further into, the freedom of expression and the technology that allows us to hold, share and discuss our musings. Note, this is not about technology, just the concepts thereof.

Many of us have been terribly constrained by the Coronavirus pandemic for the better part of six months, with more to come so it seems. Hand-sanitising, face masks, isolation, devastation for some, loss of income and the rest, you know what I mean. Not one of us has needed to don our safety suits, boots and gloves to sit at our home computer and write. They concerned governments cannot fine me for writing without squirting clean smelling liquid on my hands prior to, or not registering that I am, in fact, about to write. Writing is Covid free, and whilst my trusty old computer may attract the odd virus I am certain it won’t be the virus that sounds like a famous Mexican beer, that has shut down our planet.

So we have complete freedom to write whenever we want to…. but do we have the freedom to write whatever we want to? Some years ago I was extremely lucky to meet with a truly inspirational man called Dennis Waitley and we discussed the concept of freedom in its broader sense. After a few minutes he said to me “Freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. There can be no freedom without responsible action.” He was absolutely correct with that simple statement so let me apply this to the freedom to write. If the writer holds no responsibility for what they write, but just blurt out irresponsible tomes, is this acceptable? Or a leader (think of him as a fictional character, a former reality TV Show host who now is heavily involved in politics, you know him, he has a fabulous comb-over!) that ridicules other world leaders on twitter, is this acceptable? The amount of written violence, as I call it, that pollutes social media, is a perfect example of no consequence writing.

My point on the first part of this blog is that, as writers, if we crave freedom to write, then we must be cogniscent of the implications of our words. The written word, its power, its ability to evoke passion, to make your readers cry and laugh and all emotions in-between, is in your hands. Use it wisely Luke Penwalker!

The second point I raise is more an observation and for any of you who are under thirty and reading this, it will sound almost Victorian. Myself and my beautiful young wife arrived in Australia in February 1981 we had migrated. Sydney was just so far away from London in every aspect. We thought that we may never see our families again, a bit dramatic I know, but that is how isolated we both felt.

Now for the shock; this was pre-internet, pre mobile phone technology, pre desktop computing, pre any communications technology that you can think of, except the telephone. Can you, for just one minute, imagine writing your poems/stories by hand? There were no methods of contacting our families outside of Air Mail (I used to send my Mum an aerogramme each week, google it if you want to know more) and the telephone. Our rented flat didn’t have a phone so we used to book a call to speak with our families every other Sunday night at 8.00pm. We were ushered into a booth at Sydney’s main Post Office in Martin Place moments prior to the call and with one minute of our ten minute call remaining, the operator would come over the line and tell us. On the ten minute mark we would be rudely cut-off, then pay our $20 and miserably head home, some 20 minutes away.

The revolution in technology has changed the above forever. It has given us writers so much more scope, a greater audience, tools to help us find our audience and so much more. What a great time to be alive. You have the skill, you have the desire, you have the technology. Use it wisely Luke Penwalker

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book birthday · book blitz · book review · non fiction · travel

Book Birthday Blitz ‘n’ Review – Solo

Solo: A Down to Earth Guide for Travelling the World Alone

Feeling alone? Trapped? Lost?

Time for an adventure!

The bad times won’t last forever, and for more than five years, Aaron Hodges has journeyed the globe alone, visiting everywhere from Istanbul to Argentina. Honest and insightful, SOLO is packed with his personal travel tips and humorous stories. Learn about the ups and downs, the triumphs and the pitfalls of venturing off the beaten path. Follow his guidelines for exploring the world alone and be inspired to take the trip you’ve always dreamed of.

Discover the world of solo travel.

Go Solo!

Purchase Links

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082P8W1BD/

books2read.com/u/meBM8g

Author Bio

Aaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelors of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job in 2014 and see the world. One year later, he published his first novel – Stormwielder – while in Guatemala. Since then, he has honed his skills while travelling through parts of SE Asia, India, North and South America, Turkey and Europe, and now has over a dozen works to his name. Today, his adventures continue…

Social Media Links

https://instagram.com/aaronhodgesauthor

https://www.facebook.com/aaronhodgesauthor/

My Review

5/5 stars

Wow! That was such fun. Just like having a personal adviser to answer all your travel questions. Great job, Aaron!

With info based on actual experience – I, for one, love an expert – peppered with funny anecdotes, it’s impossible not to get the travel bug after reading this gem. Delivered with a personal touch, the author treats the reader like a friend with his chatty, conversational style. You can tell this author writes fiction too, as he doesn’t just tell you what you need to do, he shows you – warts and all! 

Whatever your age or budget, travelling solo is an option open to everyone (once the world gets back on its vaccinated feet, that is) From the planning stages right through to arriving at your destination and moving around, the authors inspires and encourages with suggestions and tips specific to many countries. 

If this doesn’t give you itchy feet, then nothing will.

¡Buen viaje!

blog tour · book review · family · real life · truth

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Mine

Mine

What’s mine, I keep.”

London, 1968.

Lily’s dreams of a better life for her family are shattered when her teenage daughter refuses to give up her illegitimate child. It doesn’t help that Lily’s husband, Jack, takes their daughter’s side.

Taking refuge in her work at a law firm in the City, Lily’s growing feelings for her married boss soon provides a dangerous distraction.

Will Lily be able to resist temptation? Or will the decisions made by these ordinary people lead them down an extraordinary path that could destroy them all?

Mine – a powerful story of class, ambition and sexual politics.

Purchase Links

UK –  https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08JQF4JQT

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JQF4JQT

Author Bio

Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

Mine is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops(www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk) as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

Social Media Links

Websites: www.alisonroseknight.com www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk www.darkstroke.com/dark-stroke/alison-knight/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

Twitter: @Alison_Knight59

My Review

4/5 stars

I remember choosing to read this story and adding it to my Kindle a long time before I began reading it. And I jumped right in without re-reading the blurb, only to learn – at the end – that it was based on a true story.

The author dropped us effortlessly in the 60s with intricate details of the era, from the food (chops and boiled potatoes for tea) to colour TVs, Brylcreem, and housecoats. It was such a depiction of family life, that I began to wonder what the story was – was this a memoir or was there more to come? Well, now I know it was a bit of both but with so much more to come.

Looking back, after reading the whole story, it points to the author’s skill as a writer that those normal, everyday activities coupled with strong family drama (of the kind we now see as normal – unmarried mums, career women, & divorce but which, back then, were considered anything but the norm), built up to such an emotional and compelling story. I have to admit to not liking Lily very much at first. Her husband Jack seemed such a lovely bloke, and it hurt to see him get so upset. I was Team Jack all the way but grew to understand Lily better. How could I look down on her for following her heart? Yes, she had a touch of the Margo Leadbetter about her (The Good Life -1970s sitcom) and her sneering of Jack’s simple contentment grated on me, but what was her crime really? That she outgrew her environment, her husband and friends? This wasn’t a new development, for she had always aspired to be more than a housewife, and getting the job at a prestigious law firm proved she was more than capable. Of course, the 60s were the age of enlightenment for many, Lily included. She had more choices than women before her – though burning her “brassiere” was not for her – was she wrong to take advantage of those choices, even if it meant leaving Jack?

This was one of those stories that made me rethink my initial impression of the main character, in this case, Lily, realising that she was no monster, just a woman who fell in love with a man who wasn’t her husband. Of course, there were consequences, principally her relationship with her daughters. Who’s to say things would have been better had she stayed with Jack? Lily and Bev clashed long before that.

For me, this novel highlighted how much life has changed in just a few decades. Today, Lily’s actions wouldn’t be seen as a family scandal – of course, even today, families have to pick up the pieces and deal with the consequences, but not with the same outcry and outrage from onlookers. Lily did what she felt she had to do to be happy; she didn’t set out to ruin anyone’s life, in fact quite the opposite.

Having read how life turned out for the real Jack, Bev & Caroline, it only emphasises further that we are masters of our destinies. This is a warts-and-all story, balanced in no-one’s favour and with no blame apportioned to either side. Beautifully written, emotionally powerful and truthfully told. I look forward to reading more by this author.

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blog tour · book review · family · friendship · fun · romance · romantic comedy · women's fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – This Year, Maybe

This Year Maybe

Alison and David have been engaged for so long that even Alison’s mother has given up asking when, but it’s second time around for both of them and they’re not in any particular hurry.
That said, Alison is beginning to wonder if living with her has put David off the idea of marriage so when he suggests they set a date she is delighted. But that date is six months’ away and a lot can happen in six months – especially if you’re Alison!

‘My son’s been arrested, Great-aunt Millie’s fallen in love, my best friend suspects her husband of having an affair, and I still need to lose weight. How on earth can I think about getting married?’

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Year-Maybe-Alisss-Adventures-ebook/dp/B08LLDZ9NP/

US – https://www.amazon.com/This-Year-Maybe-Alisss-Adventures-ebook/dp/B08LLDZ9NP/

Author Bio – I’m a golden-retriever-loving granny, who enjoys walking by the sea or in the woods, who eats too much chocolate, and who gets over-excited when the Welsh team plays rugby.

I have self-published two novels, This Time Last Year, and The Dog-walking Club, but I’m also an experienced freelance writer and author of several non-fiction books published by Hodder & Stoughton, Scripture Union and Kevin Mayhew.

Social Media Links

Facebook – LizHindsAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LizHindsAuthor

Website – http://lizhinds.online

My Review

4/5 stars

This was not my first book by this author because I know I can rely on her to make the world a better place for a few hours. You simply cannot read This Year, Maybe without smiling, and frequently laughing both with and at the characters. Talking of characters, there are a lot of them … an awful lot, because Alison has a busy if rather quirky life. I don’t imagine anything is ever straightforward for her, because if something can go wrong, it will. Sod’s Law (aka Murphy’s Law) was written for people like Alison. At times, I did feel as though I had to suspend belief at events that “happened” to her – the kidnapping during her Hen week being a prime example, and how her sister-in-law, Trish, always seemed to have the right skills at exactly the right time.

There’s a plethora of side stories that build to create even more problems for Alison. If she were ever to write her memoirs, be prepared for a War & Peace sized tome. I felt the overall story could have been shorter; it seemed to run out of steam towards the end, but I guess even Alison’s life has to allow for a breather now and then. That said, there was more than enough fun and humour to keep me reading. Writing comedy is no easy task, but the laughs roll off the page with a natural ease, so much so it feels as though you’re in the scene with the characters. I also love the author’s use of realistic dialogue; it glued me to my Kindle because these were real people in extraordinary , if somewhat chaotic, situations. The essence of the story centres on love, family and friendships, and the humour and mayhem are extra bonuses.

I’ll definitely be reading more from this author, and I love the cover: it’s bright and breezy and certain to lift the mood on a wintery day. Enjoy a few hours of chaos and fun – you’ll feel better for it!

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