The Soulful Reads Book Promotion

Hi Everyone,

What a great title for a book promotion! The tagline reads ‘Enjoy books that will touch your heart and mind.’ So I was attracted to this as a reader (and an author). https://books.bookfunnel.com/soulfulreads/t6p3xc0jiz

Those of you that joined me in the middle of June will know that my book ‘1962, A Nostalgic Tale of 1960s Lancashire’ is lucky enough to be part of this promotion, which runs until the 19th of July 21.

I’ve read one of the books so far, ‘The Woman Who Lost Her Love’ by Jo Lobato. I thought this was a beautiful story and like the promotion promised it did touch my heart and mind.

The Woman Who Lost Her Love by Jo Lobato

The story is about a woman called Diane who sets off with her husband, David on a holiday to Australia. But as the story unfolds, Diane’s holiday turns into a different journey to the one she expected.

Photo by Sheila on Pexels.com

Here’s what the blurb says:

The Woman Who Lost Her Love: the life-affirming book of the spring!

A heart-warming and uplifting story of a single woman on an emotional journey of rediscovery. Perfect for fans of Mike Gayle, Gail Honeyman and Sarah Haywood.

Meet Diane, a woman in her fifties who’s lost her creativity and love of art. When her husband abandons her en route to their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary in Australia, she is forced to confront the reason he’s left, the prickly woman she has become and the secrets she’s hiding.

As Diane uncovers the passions and creativity she’s been stifling, and meets characters mysteriously connected to her past, will she manage to keep her carefully curated persona in check?

And what is the heartbreaking truth from which she’s desperately trying to flee?

A page-turning holiday read, this emotional popular women’s fiction will have you rooting for single woman Diane to find her inner strength. A book that’s both heartbreaking and heart-warming, about the power of female friendship and the importance of holding onto the passions that make us unique.

“UPLIFTING, LIFE-AFFIRMING, REDEMPTIVE.” Debi Alper.

“‘EAT, PRAY, LOVE’ MEETS ‘THE MAN WHO DIDN’T CALL’ IN THIS BRILLIANT BOOK.” Goodreads Review

And here’s my little review (five stars)

Brilliant! Diane heads out on holiday to Australia with her husband, David. Except, David is the type to choose Diane’s clothes (the horror!), and he has something to say about her hairdo. Then… as the blurb says, David abandons Diane on the plane. With no husband and no luggage (imagine), Diane has no choice but to continue a journey. Don’t worry, the women in Diane’s life back in England (book club friends and sister) are in her head telling her what to do and how to behave. Then there is her daughter, Bertie, who Diane continually emails and imagines what she would think of her Australian adventures. Diane’s transformation is truly uplifting, and as the plot unfolds, you’ll need something to wipe your tears away with.

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

Don’t forget the promotion link to help you find the book : https://books.bookfunnel.com/soulfulreads/t6p3xc0jiz

Here are some more covers from the promotion (but the best thing to do is click on the link to see the books)

Soul Deep by Angela Kay Austin
1960: My Black Skin by Angela Kay Austin
A Journal of Cosmic Memories: The Dimension of Trees by Ben Benyamin
The Sun Rose in Paris: Portraits in Blue - Book One by Penny Fields-Schneider
Friend of My Enemy by Raven Banks
The Valley of the Dogs, Dark Stories by James Musgrave

Coming next… I will probably write one of my mini-drama posts there is always plenty going on in my sit-com life. AND Curmudgeon Avenue has just joined a Christmas book promotion, in JULY! Click here for Christmas books: https://books.bookfunnel.com/christmasjuly21/p2re6562xn

Happy reading everyone, see you soon, Samantha 🙂

PS: I wrote the Curmudgeon Avenue series

The Final What’s in a (Character) Name #Guestpost with Christopher Wilson @mojo_books + #BookReview #IARTG

Hi Everyone!

Did I mention that multi-award-winning author Christopher Wilson is my second cousin? You can read all about how I found out about my dad’s side of the family in last week’s blog HERE

Finding out that I have a cousin who is an established author has been a valuable inspiration to me. It is a bonus that I think his books are awesome!

This will be the final in my ‘What’s in a (Character) Name guest posts and I am absolutely honoured to welcome Christopher Wilson

Christopher P. Wilson

I’ve been involved in naming two children, a few cats and dogs, a wife who needed a stage-name for Equity, and a rude horde of fictional characters. It’s always tortuous, with frequent revisions, and a terminal sense of failure. But there’s reassurance too in the problems other writers meet – even some greats.

Some splash the fluorescent paint in primary colours. Some are just plain explicit. With ‘Little Miss Naughty’ or ‘Mister Tickle’you know you’ll get what you pay for.  Holly did Golightly. And Miss de vil was indeed Cruella. And in Ian Fleming’s mind, Pussy was Galore. Dostoyevsky could be pretty upfront too, with characters that translate from the Russian as Bone-crusher or Mister Marmalade. And (surprise, surprise) in ‘Catch 22’, Major MajorMajor getspromoted to become Major MajorMajorMajor

            Dickens was shameless too, offering usSerjeantBuzfuz, Charity Pecksniff, Mr m’Choakumchild, Uncle Pumblechook, Uriah Heep,DecimusTite Barnacle, Master Bates and Dick Swiveller (who ‘ejaculated with difficulty’ in chapter 7).

Sometimes, innocuous names can gain an added twist as Time plays unkind tricks. I’m thinking ofJane Austen’s Fanny Price (that wasn’t intended, surely?), or  Panty in E. Nesbitt, and Titty in Swallows and Amazons.

            For Graham Greene character names became painfully problematic. As soon as he published a new novel people with the same surnames would form an orderly queue to sue him. So he started calling his characters Smith, Jones and Brown.

There’s a dryer game authors play with readers – of being suggestive with characters’ names without being blindingly obvious. I remember feeling wryly suckered when I’d failed to spot at the outset that Louis Cyphre in ‘Angel Heart’ would turn out to be Lucifer.

            When I started writing, I then tried it for myself.  Gallimauf was a French speaking philosopher. Count Baa Mindeberg was a bleating  Scandinavianaristocrat and  total stranger to his psyche. Duckworth was an undervalued Amazonian foundling. Saint Odo of Here and There had two bodies that went their own ways. Gob was the first human-beingever to speak. FrankEnstein Ph.D. created a monster. Yuri Zipit couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Joey Blueglass saw the world through a perpetual erotic filter. Liselotte Berg probably lied a lot.Leifur Nils Kristjansson Saint Marie du Cotton was the biggest challenge because, through the course of the novel, s/he had to die and be reborn, change skin colour,  gender, and  sexual orientation, before growing wings to turn into an angel. So maybe I missed a trick with her/him/them.

            I’ve got a new novel on the go. The central character is half human and half something else. I haven’t quite got the name yet. It’s something like Hugh Mobo.

 

Wow! Thank you, Christopher, that post is awesome. he ‘wrote it in a rush’! Genius!

I have read seven of Christopher’s books so far and it is difficult to choose a favourite. I know that his latest WIP is titled ‘Hurdy Gurdy’. His most recent publication is The Zoo  . The setting is Stalin’s last days and is a brilliantly cutting satire told through the voice of one incredible boy. 

The Zoo by [Christopher Wilson]

It won prizes: An Observer and Spectator Book of the Year
Shortlisted for the Historical Writing Association Gold Crown Award

The Blurb:

Meet Yuri Zipit.

A boy who’s had a bang on the head in a collision with a Moscow milk truck.

He has a kind face, makes friends easily, and likes to help. People want to tell him their secrets.

Including the Great Leader himself, who takes a shine to Yuri when he employs him for his natural talents.

In his new job, Yuri will witness it all – betrayals, body doubles, buffoonery. Who knew that a man could be in five places at once? That someone could break your nose as a sign of friendship? That people could be disinvented . . .?

The Zoo is a brilliantly cutting satire told through the voice of one incredible boy.

What I thought:

*****

Shhhh

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 August 2017

A great read, I was really drawn in by the believable characters. I have read a tiny bit of Russian history during my degree, and I enjoyed this satirical take.
Well, I didn’t say much when I read it in 2017, I must have been in a rush, three years on, I do remember this book. There is nothing like a memorable book. I enjoyed how it was told by the boy, whose father sort of gets kidnapped. Yuri does get to meet (and chat to Stalin) but he never quite knows who is who because of the Stalin body doubles. Christopher’s dry sense of humour comes through in his writing a cutting social satire.
The Ballad of Lee Cotton Kindle Edition
The Ballad of Lee Cotton  is one of my favourites, a Bildungsroman first-person narrative from Lee’s birth, his formative years and his (several) transformations.
The blurb:
Review –

Written with all the imaginative gusto of a heavy-weight novelist (FT MAGAZINE)

Exuberant (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

Wildly entertaining (DAILY MAIL)

An exuberant, joyful ride. Outrageously funny, it combines high farce with biting satire (INDEPENDENT)

Book Description –

A brilliant, funny novel about survival and identity in the tradition of Jeff Eugenides’ MIDDLESEX.

“[Wilson’s ] sense of humor and snappy pacing make this an appealing tale of a bygone America where truly anything can happen.” —People
* A Washington Post Best Book of the Year
“If you re looking for a breathless ride of a novel, one that s filled with more plot twists than most authors could even dream of, let alone include in one 320-page book, don t miss Cotton . . . Irresistible.” –Nancy Pearl, author of Book Lust
Meet the unforgettable Leifur Kristjansson Saint Marie du Cotton (you can call him Lee). Lee is a black boy born white-skinned in segregated Eureka, Mississippi, in 1950. As if that weren t trouble enough, he s also inherited the ability to hear les voix spirits from his Mambo grandmother. By the age of twenty he has fallen in love with a Klansman s daughter, been kicked senseless and left for dead on a northbound freight train, and gotten drafted into a psy-ops corps in Nevada. Before he returns to Mississippi, he will experience up close and personal the women s liberation movement and the dawn of the Lesbian Nation.
Lee Cotton s voice equal parts Delta Blues and Motown takes us on an exhilarating freedom ride through the upheavals of three decades, and whispers its secret: The freaks and oddities of this world may well be divine.”Huck Finn meets Myra Breckinridge? Candide meets Yossarian? . . . [Cotton] is, paradoxically, a complete original.” —The Washington Post Book World

“Brilliant, scathing and hilarious . . . Cotton is an odd, inventive, entertaining and whip-smart novel–a rare combination in fiction. Enjoy it.”–The Denver Post

 

Shortlisted for the Whitbread prize.

What I thought:

Shhhh

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 August 2018

Verified Purchase

 

The most recent book I read by Christopher Wilson is Nookie which is about the 1960s Profumo affair.

Nookie: A novel of the Christine Keeler Affair by [Christopher Wilson]

Those Christine Keeler photographs are famous, but it wasn’t until I read this book that I was aware of just how young she was when the scandal happened. Written with Christopher Wilson’s wit, this is not non-fiction, although it is based on a true story.

The Blurb:

It’s the early 1960’s. London’s set to swing. Sex has just been invented. They’re a strange set of bedfellows – Christine, a hungry, chaotic teen, with the looks of Aphrodite, fleeing the tedium of suburban Staines; Percy, who runs a Soho Burlesque Club by the rules of a girl’s boarding school; Bill, Lord Astor, whose wives don’t understand him (though his dominatrix does); the slum landlord, and concentration camp survivor, Peter Rachman; Mandy, the feisty, giggler from Birmingham who’s skilled at pleasing rich, old men; Stephen, friend of stars and royalty, a charming osteopath, and modern Pygmalion, who picks up waifs and strays at the kerbside and nurtures them into models, actresses, celebrities and trophy-wives; the Kray twins, East End mobsters; Yvgeny, charmer and diplomat-cum-spy at the Soviet Embassy; John Lewis the defrocked Labour MP who plays games with prostitutes and guns; Mariella, sexual athlete and amateur social-worker, who organises West End orgies for the great and the good; President Jack Fitzgerald Kennedy and his brother Bobby who can’t always remember who they’ve met in bed; J Edgar Hoover, curator of sordid secrets; the passionate Johnny, jewel-thief, pimp, shebeen owner, with anger-management issues and a penchant for firearms; ‘Lucky’ the jazz musician who gets in the way of his razor; Bob, the peer of the realm, with a taste for rent-boys; Francis the Fleet Street crime reporter who can sniff a sexual act half a mile away; Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister, whose wayward wife, Dorothy, causes him concerns; Jack Profumo, rising star of the Conservative Party, husband of film actress Valerie Hobson, and Minister for War; Stanley the freelance assassin without a pension-plan; Sam the flexible policeman, who becomes unaccountably rich in the course of his investigations; Keith, the well-meaning, vegetarian, civil servant, who does his best for MI5; Colin the dentist from Cockfosters, who’s indulging his wife Charmian, while simply looking on: Alfred, Lord Denning, whose report on the shenanigans shamelessly exonerates anyone official, prominent, powerful or aristocratic. And from the mix of this cast you get enacted that Great Sex Kerfuffle of 1963, the Profumo Scandal – perhaps better styled the Stephen Ward Affair.

This novel of the scandal gives voice to all the major characters, and affords them the time and space to explain themselves. The account sets out to do justice to Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies, spirited teenagers, who became the targets of a raucous, national hypocrisy and took the blame for the misbehaviors of the rich and powerful men who bedded them. The novel also sets out to redeem the admirable Stephen Ward – sensualist, artist, free-spirit, and convivial character – who, in the course of the scandal, lost everything that mattered to him – his friends, his reputation, and finally his life.

Christopher Wilson is the author of eight previous novels and has been shortlisted twice for the Whitbread Fiction Prize.

What I thought:

Shhhh

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 March 2020

Verified Purchase

 

Well, I have spotlighted three of Christopher Wilson’s books, I don’t want to go on too long. Apparently, long posts put people off…

Oh! But I forgot to mention Blueglass which was long-listed for the Booker Prize, in the 1990s.

Blueglass by [Chris Wilson]
There’s no doubt about it. Joey Blueglass is a talented man. How many people can sing any song after hearing it once, read a newspaper then repeat its contents word for word backwards, or recall their life in the womb? Joey can and makes it pay by performing as a Memory Man in the smoky music halls of Victorian London, until it turns out there are some key events that Joey has forgotten…

What I thought:

Shhhh

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 November 2016

Verified Purchase

Well, I hope you have enjoyed the final ‘What’s in a (Character) Name’ guest post. I have. Please have a look at the rest of Christopher Wilson’s books HERE on his website mojo-books.com (click on the word HERE for the direct link). And/or buy read and review them Books available from Christopher Wilson’s Amazon page. And just to make sure, here is the link for Christopher Wilson’s Goodreads page

 

Who knows where my ‘writerly rambling’ posts will take me next. I do need a bit of time now to write book number five of my series. For the time being, I will continue to report on the goings on in Curmudgeon Avenue.

Happy reading, and stay safe everyone! Samantha xx

A Touch of History #BookReview Rosalind Minett @MinettRosalind @BookFunnel #IARTG Intrusion – A Relative Invasion

Hi everyone! I am still part of this fab BookFunnel promotion of 28 books written with a historical flair. As promised, I have been reading some of these books, so that I could pop a review on.

This is the BookFunnel Link – have a browse and see if you fancy any of these lovely books while they are on offer until the 19th of March.

I read Rosalind Minett’s INTRUSION A Relative Invasion from this promotion and it was beautiful.

Intrusion by Rosalind Minett

WAR THREATENS AT THE VERY SHORES OF HOME . . .  WITH RUTHLESS HITLER IN EUROPE AND DEVIOUS COUSIN KENNETH AT THE DOORSTEP. A fateful rivalry is born . . .

Lonely Billy’s excitement at having a playmate turns to dismay. Frail, artistic Kenneth is hideously devious, Uncle Frank is an outright bully and Billy’s parents fail to see further than Kenneth’s porcelain looks to his darker soul. Those very emotions that enable Hitler’s rise – envy over strength, desire for new territory – now ferment in the Wilson home.

Only his secret sighting of a precious Cossack sabre can comfort Billy by imagining he has its power.

As war becomes a reality, this becomes an icon that sustains Billy through evacuation and hardship, but is it destined to damage as well as protect?

Image result for evacuees ww2

(Photo from Google search WWII evacuees labelled for reuse)

Rosalind Minett

Rosalind Minett writes novels and short stories, with several short and long-listed in competitions. Several stories have been performed at Story Friday, Bath, and others, including flash fiction, included in anthologies.

Rosalind trained as a dancer, but grew to love acting more. She gained a place at RADA, but took parental advice and let academic life take over. She gained a B.A. Cert. Ed and Ph.D then became a psychologist working with both children and adults. If she hadn’t, she would have spent her life interpreting characters that dramatists and scriptwriters had created instead of working with real people. Now, later, she very happily creates them herself especially their quirks. In her career, she met and worked with a wealth of characters whose characteristics she can draw upon. However, she does not write biographically, much preferring to work from imagination.

Not surprisingly, it is the inner life of her characters that determines their fate in her stories, whether humorous, historical or criminal. Whatever the genre, Rosalind’s stories always have a keen touch of humour and a dark edge. This is evident in her first short story collection “Me-time Tales: tea breaks for mature women and curious men”, quirky and satirical.

Her ironic avatar – Girl Before Word Processor – (with thanks to Picasso) suits her background and personality. Its two faces suggest her two selves, the serious and the irreverent. They also refer to the watcher and the seen, the inner and the outer person.

Rosalind lives in the South West of England and spends non-family time enjoying the scenery, sculpture, theatre and fine art of the region.

She blogs at http://characterfulwriter.com

 

My little review (also on Amazon and Goodreads) *****

I enjoyed that the word ‘umpteen’ appeared in the first chapter, reminding me of how older relatives used to talk when I was a child in the 70s and 80s. I knew then that the prose was going to be lovely and fitting. Billy, aged five is excited about his cousin Kenneth staying. He turns out to be a real bully – his parents believe anything he says. I noticed his character so why didn’t they, even when Kenneth’s eyelashes were compared to a camel Billy’s dad commented ‘Displays calm, the camel, but they can turn nasty’ (quote from the book). This was a great piece of foreshadowing. Billy’s only saviour is his neighbour who has a fancy Russian knife (for display purposes, but looking at it made Billy feel brave). Not only is Billy’s life intruded by his cousin, but World War II is about to start. The reader learns from Billy’s observations of his parents how scary this is going to be. Billy is evacuated early on, his journey to the country is so enthralling, children wondering where their next meal is coming from – and some sharing out food. The heartbreaking bit when Billy is the last to be chosen. Gas masks, uncles returning from Dunkirk, it’s all in there. The most heartwarming bit for me was Billy’s stay with Mrs Youlden, her two younger children and another evacuee Alan. Billy has never experienced poverty before or been cold and dirty but here, he is loved and makes a true friend with Alan. Reading this book was like going back in time to childhood.

I really enjoyed this book – don’t forget to click the link

Happy reading everyone!

Samantha xx

PS, my book ‘1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire)’ Is also part of this promotion.

Add a heading

 

#BookReview #WizardRing by Clare Blanchard @CBcrime @BookFunnel A Touch of History #IARTG

WELL! Hello everyone, I have just finished reading yet another book that I could not put down Wizard Ring: From darkness into light (Wizards Series Book 1)

Wizard Ring by Clare Blanchard

 

I told you all the other day that my book 1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire) has been lucky enough to take part in a BookFunnel promotion called ‘A Touch of History’ this promotion includes some great looking books (I have read two of them now) and runs until the 19th of March 2020. The books are all on special offer and there is a great selection. If you like books written with historical flair, then this sales promo should be right up your street! Including an interesting mix of fiction styles and themes, all with a strong historical element. Click this link to see if you fancy reading any of the titles.

 

Wizard Ring: From darkness into light (Wizards Series Book 1) by [Blanchard, Clare]

BOOK BLURB:

I knew nothing about the alchemist John Dee until one winter’s night in Prague when I met the ghost of a barber.
My name is Sylvia. I was just a burnt-out teacher with a subversive sense of humour. Then my mother gave me a magic ring made in the Prague workshop of John Dee.
I’ve never been the same since.

Image result for John Dee

John Dee, alchemist to Queen Elizabeth I

MY REVIEW: 5/5

Brilliant! Part contemporary, part history. Sylvia is a world-weary teacher, she lives with her mother Svetlana (originally from Prague) and son Rusty. The three make for interesting characters and in-depth family dynamics. The internal politics of the school open up a great storyline – sorcery is all around Sylvia (most of it personality-driven!) Clare Blanchard has provided a clever observation of school on both sides of the desk, the stressful impact of working in any public sector environment, and the notion that the supernatural could save you from this stress. Sylvia’s mother has given her a ring, made in Prague by the alchemist John Dee – history books report he was in Queen Elizabeth I inner trusted circle and sent to Czechoslovakia by the Queen sometime in the 16th century as a spy. This is where the intrigue lies for the history lover, Tudor Royal courts were reportedly ruled by jealous paranoia – completely believable that a sorcerer would manufacture an energy-giving ring capable of influencing those around. Will Sylvia manage this power? A well-observed, interesting and lighthearted glimpse of history influencing today.

 

Clare Blanchard

Clare Blanchard is a British author who lives in the wine-growing country of Czechia near Lower Austria in Central Europe. She writes crime mysteries and urban fantasy novels with a strong historical flavour.
Her debut novel was the crime mystery The Tainted Vintage, published by Fahrenheit Press in July 2018. Set in a small town in Czechia, the novel opens a series featuring the somewhat ill-matched but oddly effective detective duo, Dvorska and Dambersky. It is to be followed soon by the second book in the series, The Russian Dolls, which deals with the world of international art theft, as well as a classic murder mystery.
A fan of Nordic noir, Clare Blanchard likes to treat the locations and historical eras in her books as if they were actual characters in the book. This goes not only for her crime fiction, but also for her new Wizards series, which takes the reader into the realm of historical urban fantasy on the murky borders between magic and science. Wizard Ring is the first of a planned series dealing with the dark arts in modern life that are hidden in plain sight.

silver colored pendant with green gemstone
Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

 

I am going to see how many books I can read during the promotion, next on the list for me is The Witches of Helcolmbe by Harry Bradford.

 

The Witches of Helcombe.: Book 1 of The Devon Witches Series (The Devon Witches Series.) by [Bradford, Harry]

Thank you for reading, and please join me next time I post about this historical fiction book promotion

Happy reading, Samantha x

#BookReview M J Dees @mjdeeswriter Fred and Leah #HistoricalFiction Book Promotion #IARTG

Hello everybody! I am honoured to be taking part in a historical fiction promotion called A Touch of History at the moment with my book 1962 (An Uplifting Tale of 1960s Lancashire).

When I looked at the other books involved, I thought ‘I need to read some of those!’ 

Have a look at this link to see if you fancy reading any yourself: PROMOTION LINK They are all on special offer and can be downloaded to any device.

This morning, I finished reading Fred and Leah by M J Dees.

Fred and Leah: A True Life Second World War Drama of Love, Loss and Captivity

This is a heartwrenching must-read, the tag line being:

A True Life Second World War Drama of Love, Loss and Captivity

And the blurb:

It’s World War II and soldiers are not the only casualties.

On September 3rd, 1939, Fred knew he would have no choice but to go to France and fight.

However, when he found himself among the thousands of men stranded after the Dunkirk evacuation, he had no idea when he would see his wife Leah and his two children again.

Leah is left trying to raise her two children by herself but, even she can’t stop the bombs from falling on her street.

M J Dees’ fourth novel and his first historical novel, Fred and Leah, is based on a real life love story of two people whose lives were irrevocably altered by war.

Outstanding, yet Heart Wrenching
This book described what soldiers had to deal with in time of war as well as in captivity. It also showed what families had to deal with at home. Leah had to raise two small children while Fred was overseas fighting and then as a prisoner. She had to protect her children from the bombing and hide in the bomb shelters. It showed the mental anguish the soldiers had worrying about their families at home and how they were surviving. Then the mental anguish those at home suffered worrying about their loved ones fighting and if they were ever going to come home. Then the adjustments after the war. How some adjusted while others never did or at the least had trouble. Fred had to find the strength to not only survive the war himself but to help his fellow soldiers survive the best he could. This book showed the horrors of war both on the front and at home. This is a must read book if you want to learn about WWII. It made me feel as though I was with Fred and also experiencing what Leah was feeling during those years. Peggy Coppolo (5 star Amazon.com review)

M J Dees

M J Dees was born and raised in Kingston-upon-Hull in the East Riding of Yorkshire. He has worked in a variety of jobs in a variety of countries and is currently living with his wife, daughter and two cats in São Paulo, Brazil. LIVING WITH SACI is his first novel and is set in São Paulo. THE ASTONISHING ANNIVERSARIES OF JAMES AND DAVID is about two twins growing up in Yorkshire in England. WHEN THE WELL RUNS DRY set in a dystopian future. FRED & LEAH is a second world war drama based on the true story of his grandparents. His fifth novel, LIVING WITH THE HEADLESS MULE a prequel/sequel to LIVING WITH SACI and has just released his new sci-fi series, MASTERY OF THE STARS.

 

photo of a man holding a gun
Photo by Alex Andrews on Pexels.com

 

My review: (Five stars) My mother was a ‘war baby’ and often spoke of this fact when I was growing up. So when I saw this historical fiction novel, I wanted to read it. Leah gives birth just as Fred goes off to war. Leah stays at home with her young son Jim and baby girl Beattie. The couple has moved around because of Fred’s army career – fortunately, Leah can rely on her father, a shopkeeper from Northumberland.
I believe this is a true story, based on the author’s family well written with literary flair—an essential part of life writing is to recount historical events for future generations. The chapters told about Fred detail his lengthy time as a POW in harrowing detail – the realism used here is superb, highlighting the physical and emotional effect on WWII soldiers. I have often heard that these men will not talk about what happened during the war; there must have been some heavy-duty research that went into this book. As the pages turned, I was taking note of the dates 1940, 1941, 1942… Was Fred going to get home to rescue Leah from the nightmare she was going through? If things weren’t bad enough for her with only her father to support her and the two children, Leah suffers a serious illness. Mental illness is one of the cruellest things a person can experience. It could have been a puerperal psychosis or a stress reaction to the war, but poor Leah ended up in hospital for a long time – without advancements in treatment in the years since this period of history. And I think this is the crucial part of this book – would things have been different for Leah had her husband not been taken away from her by war? Fred and Leah’s story provides a snapshot of the human devastation of war. A dramatic, heartwrenching must-read.

Join me on Friday, when I read the next book in this BookFunnel promotion – Wizard Ring by Clare Blanchard

Wizard Ring by Clare Blanchard

Happy reading, Samantha xx

On My BBC Radio Lancashire Appearance, With VO Actor Lindsay McKinnon @LindzMcKinnon @GillyLancs

#BBC Radio Lancashire #IARTG

I had an awesome day last Friday (15th November). I was interviewed on the John Gillmore show on BBC Radio Lancashire with voice-over actor Lindsay McKinnon. We were interviewed about my book Curmudgeon Avenue #1: The Terraced House Diaries. Lindsay is currently turning this into an audiobook which will be released early next year – and generally bringing an entirely new dimension to the book, bringing it to life with her fantastic author voice. Lindsay can swap from narrative to dialogue in a variety of voices and accents. She’s extremely talented, I cannot wait to share this audiobook with everyone.

The Curmudgeon Avenue series really lends itself to spoken word. 

This is the BBC Radio Lancashire studio in Blackburn town centre – it’s a lovely building :

8237391972b85a4fef8d9120a68b770ad1d15347

I have never appeared on the radio before, I was a bag of nerves but I had a word with myself ‘YOU ARE MEANT TO BE DOING THIS!’ Lindsay knew what to say and gave a top performance of reading from the first chapter. John Gillmore (local hero) and lovely co-host Nishma Hindocha had prepared some questions, which guided me through. There are a lot of ‘erms’ on my end, but at least I didn’t collapse into nervous giggling!

20191115_152849

Lindsay and me moments before we had to speak into these massive green and yellow microphones.

This whole experience happened because of Lindsay – she contacted John Gillmore and made the interview happen. I’ve been very lucky that she chose my book to narrate.

I had help – I cannot drive on motorways because of MS, Lindsay offered to drive but this would mean coming back on herself and although she didn’t mind, I would’ve felt guilty. So I made Mr Henthorn drive – LoL!  He looked like super proud husband when we came out of the studio – and then made fun of me for saying too many ‘erms’ ! Actually, this audiobook adventure is all down to Mark’s encouragement – I had been shy about putting my book forward for audiobooks, I eventually gave in and it’s all happened at the right time.

During the interview, I was asked about the good reviews Curmudgeon Avenue has been getting. I waffled on, of course, and missed my chance. I should have thanked the reviewers … and asked for more! Yes, I am not too shy to ask Curmudgeon Avenue needs reviews. 

20191115_152901Local hero – John Gillmore.

20191115_152905 Beautiful co-host – Nishma Hindocha hiding behind her computer screen. She wasn’t really hiding, this was so weird for me having a conversation with radio folk – you don’t get to look at them! You just have to chat like everything’s normal! Sigh… that’s showbiz I suppose…

75472861_10162738946995714_88804977195089920_n A lovely snap of us all after the interview.

I left paperback copies of the Curmudgeon Avenue series with John and Nishma – I forgot/didn’t remember to ask if they wanted them signing – this is still weird for me I was brought up not to write in books!

THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION OF CURMUDGEON AVENUE WILL BE RELEASED EARLY 2020. If you can’t wait, here is the link for the interview on BBC listen again – it will be available until the start of December. (We are 2 hours 20 minutes in).

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07s1dp9

And if you really can’t wait, Curmudgeon Avenue: The Terraced House Diaries is available in E-book and Paperback Here UK Here US

Happy reading/listening everyone! Samantha x

 

 

Book review: Lizzie Lamb’s Three Contemporary Romances Set in The Highlands of Scotland

Thank you for joining me in this month’s what Samantha read next.

When I was a little girl, my mum used to watch a programme set in Scotland called Take the High Road. I remember very little about the programme apart from the warm Scottish accents. In 2014, I was introduced to the 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith. And, one day, several years ago, when visiting my Northumberland based in-laws we walked over a bridge, and Father-in-law said ‘WE’RE IN SCOTLAND NOW!’

I’m just setting the scene of how Scotland to me, as a proud Mancunian is a place of romance and comfort. I’ve always held this romantic view – then I read three of Lizzie Lamb’s books… sigh… The three books I will mention here have confirmed my idealised view of a romantic Scotland and I recommend you read them all, especially if you’re all heart. Put the kettle on, sit in your favourite comfy chair and put these three on your reading list immediately!

Scotch on the Rocks: A contemporary romance set in the highlands of Scotland

The blurb:


Where men are men and women are glad of it!

ISHABEL STUART is at the crossroads of her life.
Her wealthy industrialist father has died unexpectedly, leaving her a half-share in a ruined whisky distillery and the task of scattering his ashes on a Munro. After discovering her fiancé playing away from home, she cancels their lavish Christmas wedding at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh and heads for the only place she feels safe – Eilean na Sgairbh, a windswept island on Scotland’s west coast – where the cormorants outnumber the inhabitants, ten to one.
When she arrives at her family home – now a bed and breakfast managed by her left-wing, firebrand Aunt Esme, she finds a guest in situ – BRODIE. Issy longs for peace and the chance to lick her wounds, but gorgeous, sexy American, Brodie, turns her world upside down.
In spite of her vow to steer clear of men, she grows to rely on Brodie. However, she suspects him of having an ulterior motive for staying at her aunt’s Bed and Breakfast on remote Cormorant Island. Having been let down by the men in her life, will it be third time lucky for Issy? Is she wise to trust a man she knows nothing about – a man who presents her with more questions than answers?
As for Aunt Esme, she has secrets of her own . . .

 

My review:

*****

‘Where the men wear kilts and the women are glad of it!’ Well, with a tagline like that, I just had to read it. The book made me (temporarily) wish I was Scottish. I really enjoyed the plot, Issy does not like Brodie… at first… She’s got a lot on, heartbreak, bereavement, loss of job enter hero in a kilt (with an American accent)… I don’t think anyone needs to read my review to want to read this. How romantic! Sigh…

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25849896-scotch-on-the-rocks

Girl in the Castle: Henriette's Highland Hideaway

The blurb:

Her academic career in tatters, Dr Henriette Bruar needs somewhere to lay low, plan her comeback and restore her tarnished reputation. Fate takes her to a remote Scottish castle to auction the contents of an ancient library to pay the laird’s mounting debts. The family are in deep mourning over a tragedy which happened years before, resulting in a toxic relationship between the laird and his son, Keir MacKenzie. Cue a phantom piper, a lost Jacobite treasure, and a cast of characters who – with Henri’s help, encourage the MacKenzies to confront the past and move on. However – will the Girl in the Castle be able to return to university once her task is completed, and leave gorgeous, sexy Keir MacKenzie behind?

My review: *****

Oh my goodness! I read this book to myself with a Scottish accent (I’m from Manchester). What a great setting, a castle with its own moat, Henriette is a historian with a doctorate using all her girl power to rebuild her career and reputation following a misunderstanding with a hockey stick. Enter hero Keir, the heir of the castle. Initially, Henri was warned off him by a potential bride he was promised to. Henri was not bothered at the time, she was too busy being good at her job in the library. Will romance get the better of her? Any more would be a spoiler. Like I said, great setting, Scottish dialogue feeds into the castle image. I enjoyed it.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34950267-girl-in-the-castle

Tall, Dark and Kilted

The blurb: Notting Hill Meets Monarch of the Glen . . . Fliss Bagshawe longs for a passport out of Pimlico where she works as a holistic therapist. After attending a party in Notting Hill she loses her job and with it her dream of one day being her own boss. When she’s offered the chance to take over a failing therapy centre, she grabs it with both hands. But there’s a catch – the centre lies five hundred miles away – in Wester Ross, Scotland. Fliss’s romantic view of the highlands populated by hunky Men in Kilts is soon shattered when she has an up close and very personal encounter with the Laird of Kinloch Mara, Ruairi Urquhart. He’s determined to pull the plug on the business, bring his eccentric family to heel and eject undesirables from his estate – starting with Fliss. Faced with the dole queue once more, Fliss resolves to make sexy, infuriating Ruairi revise his unflattering opinion of her, turn the therapy centre around and sort out the dysfunctional Urquhart family. Will Fliss tame the Monarch of the Glen and find the happiness she deserves? Read Tall, Dark and Kilted to find out . ..

My review: *****

I am recommending this book for those of you who enjoy an uplifting romance. Fliss’ story is the type of thing that gives hope. We meet Cat and Isla in their swanky home in Notting Hill – they are so young and so naughty, Fliss is caught in the middle. During a party, Fliss gets to speak to their older brother – enter Ruairi (which I read as being pronounced ‘Rory’ – hope that’s correct). The story unfolds into a plot involving Fliss being asked to work at their family castle in Scotland. This is a romance novel, but I won’t spoil it for you! There is something so heartwarming about the setting, sigh!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18884924-tall-dark-and-kilted

 

A lot of heart warmed sighs went on when I was reading those books, so it seems!

Here’s Lizzie Lamb’s blog: https://lizzielamb.co.uk/

Thank you for reading this month, join me at the same time next month when I may just share what I have been reading for my creative writing degree module ‘The Novel and Beyond’. It’s all getting serious on my bookshelf.

Happy reading, Samantha xx

Book Review Earthbound (Jim Stone series #1&#2 Mass Exodus) by Paul Falk

Thank you for joining me on this month’s what Samantha read next. 

Climate change is all over the news – and rightly so. Now, these two books that I have read recently by Paul Falk are not directly about climate change but they sort of are. An asteroid is hurtling towards the earth and it is not going to end well. These books have haunted me, the end of the world could happen – and it will happen (although I haven’t read book 3 yet – I presume/hope it is being written). Here are my reviews:

Earthbound (Jim Stone, #1)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46834504-earthbound

Oh! I just had to read this immediately, a book about one of my worst (probably unfounded) fears, an asteroid colliding with earth. Honestly, I used to have a recurring dream about this kind of thing and I know I’m not alone. Nightmares or not, this is a gripping read, an alternative to the Brexit story, thirty-two days until the big event plastered all over the news for 24 hours a day, except in this novel, the characters are more likeable and agreeable. Jim Stone is a proper hero, gathering his family and friends around him as the local community collapses. Set in California, many of the residents own guns, this and the hunter-gatherer instinct does not bode well for the people of Jim Stone’s neighbourhood. Eventually, the army gets involved. There’s a transatlantic political alliance and a standoff providing a nice bit of foreshadowing. But what is going to happen with this asteroid hurtling its way towards the earth? This novel has an abrupt ending, leaving the reader wondering – has it landed? No, there’s more to come.

The blurb:

The world reels in shock upon the discovery of a huge asteroid on a collision course with Earth. No one ever thought the day would come. Only thirty-two days remain until impact. Pandemonium and mayhem have inundated cities, suburbs – the world. Overnight, societal values vanished from the face of the earth.

Government intervention took a barbaric turn for the worst with billions of lives hanging in the balance. Jim Stone decides to take drastic measures into his own hands. A man on a mission, he had no idea what he would be getting himself into. No matter what happens, there would be no turning back.

 

2.

EARTHBOUND: MASS EXODUS

*****

Continuing the descent into chaos. Book two of the Earthbound series sees Jim Stone recalled to the navy and even though an asteroid is hurtling towards the earth, human nature takes over and brings out the worst in international relations. Pay attention! This is not an easy read it’s not supposed to be! Tense and thought-provoking.

 

The blurb: With a huge asteroid bearing down on planet Earth, time was quickly running out. A mass exodus had begun from all corners of the globe. Anywhere within 4,000 miles from point of impact was deemed the dead zone. Millions of people from around the world were on the run.
After Jim Stone’s standoff at the airport, the population in the Orient had set their sights on San Diego, a sanctuary city. Now the problem was what to do with the endless onslaught of refugees.

 

Join me at the same time next month to find out what happened when I read Lizzie Lamb’s books set in Scotland. Happy reading, Samantha xx

Memorable books I have read during the last twelve months or so.

It has been a while since I’ve reviewed a book on my blog. I only read books that I like and have chosen to read myself, so I’m by no means a professional reviewer. By that I mean I am not the true definition of a reviewer (someone who appraises by providing a critique) if I only read books that I like, then I am already biased, because I know I’m going to enjoy and give a high star review – if you understand me.

That said, I do review most books I read on Amazon UK and Goodreads. As you may or may not know, I am halfway through a Creative Writing and English Literature degree. My next module involves reading lots of books that I haven’t chosen myself. What if I don’t like them? I’m even putting off looking on the list to see what I have to read…

Without further ado… here are some books that I chose to read myself, loved and reviewed they have stuck in my mind and now I’m sharing with you like all good readers should.

Peddling Doomsday by Petra Jacob. This is memorable because of the main character, Deirdre and the satire was top class.

Here’s my review:  Wow that was amazing! I’ve just finished reading this book and couldn’t put it down. We get to meet poor Deirdre who is cajoled into joining a weird cult where everyone gets a new name apart from… well I wouldn’t want to spoil that bit it’s priceless! This dystopian mayhem tells of the wrongs of modern life .. I was reading and giving the author an imaginary high five!

Peddling Doomsday by Petra Jacob

Here’s the blurb: ‘You don’t know how significant you are. We need you.’

No matter where she is, Deirdre feels out of place. So when a cult known as the Center contacts her, wanting her join up, she’s intrigued. They say a terrible war is coming, humanity is in danger and without explaining why, say she’s needed for the fight. Suddenly the chance to be spectacular is within her grasp. With the charismatic Myra as the cult leader, and talk of prophecies and psychic abilities, Deirdre is soon seduced and ditches her humdrum life to join up.

Once inside, her understanding of the world shifts. She learns the truth about the elite, a secret organisation that has meddled with humanity since the beginning of time. The elite use entertainment and the media as a constant distraction to stop people from reaching their true potential. To free themselves of this conditioning, the followers must give up ‘excessive’ food and sleep. They also carry out increasingly bizarre rituals under the critical eye of the Captain, a minor leader of the new followers. He seems to take pleasure from turning them against one another.

Tensions increase. The followers gain odd new abilities, but bullying and hysteria also grow. Meanwhile Myra’s prophecies become increasingly extreme. As paranoia intensifies, Deirdre questions where the belief ends, and delusion begins.

Peddling Doomsday by Petra Jacob is available here UK or here US

 

An Englishwoman’s Guide to The Cowboy by June Kearns. This book has stuck in my head because it was just so beautiful. I felt like my Nana would have read it had she still been with us. I noticed another blogger review this book recently and I thought OH I’ve been meaning to do a blog of memorable books…

Here’s my review:

I remember my mum telling me that my nana used to stay awake all night reading ‘Westerns’, and here I was last night reading this beautiful book, getting little sleep because I could not put it down! Goodness knows which books Nana was reading, but you hardly ever hear the term ‘Western’ as a genre anymore. I would say if anything this was an excellent adventure romance written of the time and setting. Good for Annie, escaping her matronly Aunt Bea, cousin Charlotte, and unwanted suitor, whilst collecting the affections of the moody and mysterious Colt. She managed to rescue a puppy and solve a mystery about her father too. Go, Annie! I was so pleased for the character, that’s how well this book was written

An Englishwoman's Guide to the Cowboy

Here’s the blurb: Jane Austen meets Zane Grey

The American West, after the Civil War -a wild and restless place.
Into this background, wanders a party of Englishwomen. Well-bred, bookish spinster, Annie Haddon – (product of mustn’t take off your hat, mustn’t take off your gloves, mustn’t get hot or perspire Victorian society)- together with an aunt the last word in snobbery, and a spoiled and brittle cousin.

After a stagecoach wreck, Annie is thrown into the company of Colt McCall – a man who lives by his own rules and hates the English.

Can two people, moulded by their backgrounds and pasts, overcome that conditioning? Annie and McCall find out on their journey across the haunting, mystical landscape of the West.

An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy is available here UK or here US

 

Orchard View by Deborah J. Miles. This book stuck in my mind because of the chilling way that one of the characters was written out (no spoilers!)

Here’s my review:

My overall view of this book was that it gave me that wonderful feeling of wanting to carry on reading. The house, Orchard View tells her own story of people that have lived within her walls, judging their various misdemeanours whilst revealing her own quirks – who doesn’t love a mention of crazy paving? I enjoyed being taken back to 1980s aspiring suburbia here! Deborah J Miles has an intriguing and wonderful style, some of the chapters were almost stories within the story (I love that), chapters of the house’s life going back in time but brought together by the present; (set in the mid-90s) when builder Bill Maynard buys Orchard View and plans to convert it into bedsits the neighbours get involved, and here, the story unfolds into a web of drama that I dare not spoil but trust me it is a good read.

Orchard View

Here’s the blurb: Digging in the garden, builder and current owner, Bill Maynard, discovers some old bones. He worries that the discovery will upset his plans for renovating and selling the house.
Fortunately, his neighbour tells him the whole area was a burial site at the time of the Black Death and finding bones is commonplace.
“Well, as they’re so old and the museums have enough bones already, I suppose we can ignore them. It’s not like there’s been a murder and we’ve just found the body,” he justified his decision.
But had they?
His discovery sets off a chain of unfortunate events.

Orchard View by Deborah J Miles is available here UK and here US

 

The Witches of Castle Clair (2 book series) by Sharon Booth. This series sticks in my mind because when I was little, I was told that my name Samantha is a witches’ name. I’ve always believed I have special powers – any day now they will come into use I’m sure of it.

Here’s my review of book 1: I liked everything about this book, it is a Christmas read because of the setting, the festival of ‘yule’ and the anniversary of a legend. Sky St Clair finds herself in a situation where she has no choice but to return home, moving in with her two sisters in a house and (fictional I think but totally believable) town in Yorkshire that thrives off myths and legends about witchcraft. The characters were so real, their names their suggestion of mystery. Who is this bloke Sky meets on the train? Who does this cat belong to that seems to have made itself at home in the family shop? Why won’t her sister blow out that candle? I wanted to know, but then I didn’t want it to end!

Belle, Book and Christmas Candle (The Witches of Castle Clair 1) by [Booth, Sharon]My Favourite Witch (The Witches of Castle Clair Book 2)

Here’s the blurb from book 2: The world is full of magic, if you know where to look.

It hasn’t been an easy time for Star St Clair. Her father has heaped disgrace on the family, and the man she loves rejected her when he discovered the truth about her powers. But the St Clair family’s magical heritage goes back centuries, and no one could be prouder of that than Star. Neither her father, nor Benedict Greenwood, will be forgiven.

Fate, however, has a shock in store for her. Not only is her errant father back in town, along with his new fiancée, but her ex has arrived home with a new girlfriend in tow. Maths teacher Elsie is everything Benedict seems to want – bright, steady, normal. How can Star possibly compete with her? Not that she intends to, of course. She is a St Clair, after all, and Benedict won’t get a second chance.

Benedict is an anxious man. Bad enough to discover your girlfriend is, in fact, a witch, but running out on her was probably a big mistake. Who knows what she’s plotting in revenge? Taking Elsie home to meet his grandmother is a test of nerve, and Star’s behaviour doesn’t exactly bring him peace of mind. Just what is she up to?

Star couldn’t be sweeter to Elsie, and even presents her with a bouquet of flowers to welcome her to Castle Clair, but Benedict isn’t fooled. Star is plotting something, and when Elsie suffers from a mysterious ailment, he is convinced that it’s all down to his ex-girlfriend. After all, everyone knows witches can’t be trusted.

But events are about to unfold that will challenge both Star and Benedict, and everything they believe to be true. In an attic room in North Yorkshire and a village hall in Ireland, unpalatable truths must be told, secrets must unfold, and life-changing decisions must be made.

Is forgiveness truly impossible? Are witches really that scary? And can a solution be reached before time, patience, and all the bourbon biscuits run out?

A story of pride, prejudice, and a whole lot of magic …

Available here UK and here US

 

The Hopeless Husband series by Ahava Trivedi. This series stuck in my mind because aside from the fact I really enjoyed it, the hopeless husband series is the closest (close but not exactly the same) to my Curmudgeon Avenue series.

Here’s my review of book one: I did enjoy this book. John Webb truly is a hopeless husband, I’m ashamed to say his antics made me smile all the way through, his poor wife! If you’ve ever dated(and dumped) a narcissist, this book is a true picture of the bullet you dodged. Well worth a read, despite your romantic history!

The Anniversary by Ahava TrivediWife Swap (The Hopeless Husband Series, #2)Romantic Break (The Hopeless Husband Series, #3) And book four is out August 10th.

Here is the blurb from book 2: Franny and John Webb are back and they unwittingly find themselves in the midst of a wife swap. John Webb almost instantly hates his new set up but Franny is rather enjoying her new home – and husband.

Will Franny want to come home to John Webb and his consistent blunders, or will the dashing stranger be able to tempt Franny to start a new chapter in her life?

Here are the links to book one (which will lead you to the rest follow this link for all four books

Join me next month to find out which book has stuck.

Happy reading, Samantha xx

 

Publication day for my 6th book (3rd in Curmudgeon Avenue series)

Happy Valentine’s day everyone!

I am thrilled to bits to be able to bring to you book number three in the Curmudgeon Avenue series ‘Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue’ . I enjoyed writing this one so much, one of my proof readers told me this is the best thing I have ever written! As it’s Valentine’s day, why not treat yourself to a hilarious romantic comedy set in non other than the wonderful city we like to call Manchester.

When Genevieve returned to Curmudgeon Avenue in book one, she whisked Edna away to live in France (after a few months in Northumberland!) This time, we see the couple settled into the gorgeous Chateau le Grincheaux on the Bordeaux border, with their Scottish hosts Mr and Mrs Bove. A place called Rocamadour catches Edna’s eye, but Genevieve really does not want to visit – in actual fact, as Edna embraces all things European, Genevieve bends over backwards to shy away from her French roots. Why is Genevieve acting so strange?!

Meanwhile, back in Manchester, love is in the air for Small Paul and Toonan also, love birds Harold and Edith have their own little set of surprises – or is that two surprises!

Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue is available here (UK) or here (US)

Check out my Amazon page

I’m off to spend the rest of Valentine’s day eating, drinking and smelling roses.

PS Curmudgeon Avenue book 4 ‘The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue’ will be released later this year!

Edna and Genevieve cover_002Lol! That’s the cover I’m working on above!

Happy reading, happy Valentine’s day, Samantha xx