#BLOGTOUR THE HUNTINGFIELD PAINTRESS by PAMELA HOLMES #BOOKREVIEW #LoveBooksTours @UrbaneBooks @Pammieholmes

Hugely delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for The Huntingfield Paintress by Pamela Holmes!  My thanks to the Author, Publisher and Kelly of Love Books Tours for the copy of the book and putting together such a great tour for me to be part of!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Plucky and headstrong Mildred Holland revelled in the eight years she and her husband, the vicar William Holland, spent travelling 1840s Europe, finding inspiration in recording beautiful artistic treasures and collecting exotic artifacts. But William’s new posting in a tiny Suffolk village is a world apart and Mildred finds a life of tea and sympathy dull and stifling in comparison. When a longed-for baby does not arrive, she sinks into despondency and despair. What options exist for a clever, creative woman in such a cossetted environment? A sudden chance encounter fires Mildred’s creative imagination and she embarks on a herculean task that demands courage and passion. Defying her loving but exasperated husband, and mistrustful locals who suspect her of supernatural powers, Mildred rediscovers her passion and lives again through her dreams of beauty. 

Inspired by the true story of the real Mildred Holland and the parish church of Huntingfield in Suffolk, the novel is unique, emotive and beautifully crafted, just like the history that inspired it.  

PUBLISHED BY URBANE PUBLICATIONS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £8.46

hive.co.uk  £6.69

whsmith  £6.47

Author Info


Pamela Holmes was born in Charleston, South Carolina. At the age of eight, she moved with her family to England. She studied nursing at London University as a mature student having spent three years living on a commune in Somerset where she developed a love of gardening, milking cows and laying hedges. She became a health journalist and on-screen reporter. She now works and volunteers to improve the lives of older people including those with dementia, and she sings in a rock band. The Huntingfield Paintress is her first novel. She won the Jane Austen Short Story Award in 2014 and her latest work was awarded Highly Recommended in the HISSAC competition 2015. Pamela is the mother of two boys and lives in London with her husband.

MY REVIEW

Enchanting and Inspiring  were the first words I thought of after finishing this charming story, based on real characters and a true story and it makes you realise the little acts can often be the most impressive and the devotion shown by Mildred Holland shows towards her project was extremely powerful and has meant this story has really touched me.


In 1848, Millie and Wiliam arrive at their new home at the rectory in a quiet little village in Suffolk,  a world away from their normal exotic travels and the routine life that awaits them seems to fill Millie with dread.  She does her best to fit in but often finds the villagers wary of her despite her best efforts to help them and be part of things.  Her husband is busy with his work amongst the parishioners but notices the ever changing moods of his wife but seems unable to lift her spirits.


The church of St Mary’s the Virgin is a very run down little church and captures Millie’s heart and attention and she has the amazing idea to paint the ceiling – she’s seen so many churches on her travel and was drawn to those beautifully decorated so why can’t she do the same in their little church?!  So that’s what she sets her mind to – most unheard of especially by a woman at that time, and even a woman buying a pair of trousers to hide her modesty while she paints turns out to be a big shock!


Her determination is truly mind blowing! she’s not put off by having to lie down for long periods to adorn the ceiling but once she decides on something, she’s not one for turning! Not all the locals are keen on her project though and some will go to desperate lengths to stop her.


As the story progresses you learn more of what drives her – the heartbreaking reasons behind her changing moods, and even her own failiing health fails to stop her as she is determined to finish what she started.


I just loved everything about this book – the characters, the setting and to feature such an amazing woman who I’d never heard about was a revelation and has had me researching her more and the amazing work that she did.  A real treat of a read and a such a wonderful first novel from this author – I can’t wait for more!!


★★★★★


While researching more about this  amazing woman I discovered this great blog post about the church at Huntingfield over at East of Elveden which you can read here

Don’t forget to check out more of the Blog Tour for this amazing book!

#BookReview Eden Interrupted by Beverley Harvey @urbanebooks @BevHarvey_

ABOUT THE BOOK

From the writer of Seeking Eden, Eden Interrupted is another sizzling slice-of-life drama – with sprinkles.

Rocker Ben Wilde and his bride Lisa return from honeymoon to find a cuckoo in the nest and a surprise European tour in the diary. With the honeymoon cut short, at least they can rely on good neighbors, new arrivals Nigel and Rosemary Bradshaw…can’t they? But next door, the Bradshaws harbor their own secrets; will Rosemary’s grim suspicions be confirmed?

At the other end of Eden Hill, Jan and Martin Bevan move into their new home following a devastating fire, but an altercation with the local dog fraternity leaves them wondering if they’ve made a huge mistake. Meanwhile, Eden Hill’s coffee shop is under new management, when Chloe, divorced mum of teenage Jake, fulfils her long-term dream. But serving flat-whites all day leaves Chloe feeling…well, flat…until she meets gorgeous Caleb, the father of her son’s girlfriend, who’s guaranteed to tip her angst-ridden son over the edge.

Suburbia: dull and ordinary? In Eden Hill, there’s no such thing

Published by  Urbane Publications

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK  £8.99

hive.co.uk  £7.49

whsmith  £6.47

MY REVIEW

The residents of Eden Hill are back, and there’s newbies moving into the neighbourhood too which means more drama and more to enjoy as a reader – having loved the first in this series – Seeking Eden – I couldn’t wait to get back for more curtain twitching and absolutely loved being back amongst this community to reconnect with some familiar faces and also getting to know the new kids on the block!

Set in the suburbs this book is a delicious slice of a life we can all relate to – it almost feels like you’re one of the neighbourhood as you watch over the comings and goings of everyone as they deal with daily life and the stresses and strains it puts on everyone, alongside the lighter moments and it’s funny when you can recognise characters from your own neighbourhood.. no names mentioned!!

Ben and Lisa are back from their honeymoon and the rockstar life has gone very quiet for Ben so he’s wondering with what to do with his life now, while Martin and Jan who run the local carpet shop are having to deal with major life changes at a later stage in their lives and it’s not plain sailing!

The new characters really add to the story too – Chloe is a single mum, running the local cafe and dealing with the issues that having a teenage son bring her way! Jake, her son, is also not dealing too well with life as a teenage boy full of angst, and it’s fascinating to see life from both of their perspectives. And the Bradshaws seemingly have the perfect life, with their daughter Iris going to private school. All I can say is that Rosemary is a blooming saint for putting up with all the s*** her husband Nigel puts her through!!

With a wide range of characters it means that this book can touch on a variety of subjects – depression, teenage issues, dementia, parenting issues,moving to a new area and trying to fit in ..just to name a few – and that is this books strength I think! We can all relate to something that is featured and being part of a neighbourhood and the gossip and speculation of what goes on behind others’ closed doors is always at the forefront. But having that sense of community where people help one another out in times of need is also very touching.

I absolutely loved being back in the Eden Hill neighbourhood again and hope there maybe room to revisit the characters again in the future!

★★★★★

My thanks to the author for the copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BlogTour Urbane Extravaganza!! Song Castle by Luke Waterson #excerpt @UrbaneBooks @Lukeandhiswords #LoveBooksGroupTours

Extremely delighted to be taking part in the URBANE EXTRAVAGANZA as it’s a publisher I’m very fond of – even if Matthew does support a rubbish football team!!😂 – so today I’m happy to be sharing an extract from Song Castle by Luke Waterson.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Kelly of LoveBooksGroup for letting me be part of it all! 


So many good books to share with you over this tour, so here’s a bit more about Song Castle before you get to enjoy an extract!

About the book

Song Castle vividly brings to life the Wales of the 12th century: its extreme wealth, its abject poverty, its senseless violence, the growing tension between the Normans and the native Welsh and the region’s increasingly pivotal place in medieval culture. In doing so, this book touches on a time and place rarely tackled in literature, a time when Welsh national identity was in the first stages of its development. But Song Castle also tells, through the colourful voices of its characters, a true story. It tells of one man’s desire, in a land rocked by upheaval, for the territory over which he presided to be remembered for something truly remarkable.

Published by Urbane Publications

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

About the Author

Luke Waterson has plied a trade from writing for over a decade, often with a travel slant. A Creative Writing graduate from the University of East Anglia, Luke has written for publications including the BBC, the Independent, the Telegraph, the Guardian and travel publishers Lonely Planet, for whom he specialises in telling the world about the Amazon Basin – present and past. His travels here inspired his debut novel, Roebuck (2015).

His second novel, Song Castle, set in 12th century Wales, and following a disparate group of bards on their hazard-fraught journey to perform at a festival of song, published in April 2018.

Twitter

Song Castle – the extract

Preface

The land that for simplicity’s sake is referred to in this book as Wales was, in the 12th century, a very fragmented place.

To the Welsh their native land was perhaps already called Cymru, although what that really meant was liable to interpretation. They perhaps also knew it still as Britannia, even though that referred to the lands of the Brythonic-speaking peoples generally, including areas of northern England and southern Scotland. To the Anglo-Normans Wallia might have been the term used, but this in turn could refer to Marchia Wallie or the Welsh Marches, the part of Wales they believed they had brought under their control and Pura Wallia or native Wales, the part they had not.

More meaningful points of reference for most were the warring factions into which Wales had split. It was divided into dynasties: principalities and lordships that often vied against each other for increasing amounts of power and the territory that would augment it, rather than unite. Conflict between different domains was more or less constant, and invariably violent. Loyalties were localised: most likely to one’s family, quite possibly to the nearest village, perhaps to the cantref (district) and at a stretch to the region or realm. But when boundaries between these zones were changing almost as often as the famously fickle weather, and with dangerous consequences for those caught on the wrong side of the line, conceiving of an amalgamated country was not at the forefront of people’s minds. There were more pressing concerns.

In fact, there were but a few things capable of bringing this fractious collection of territories together. One of these things was language. And the mouthpieces for this were the bards: through the tales that they told and the songs that they sung.

And in the 12th century, the bards changed their tunes.

In their performances, the bards of the land that would become Wales had always drawn on a rich history of spectacular people, spectacular deeds, spectacular places; they had probably instilled in their audiences a certain shared nostalgia for when Britons still ruled Britain. But now they stepped up their act. Menaces to all of Wales-to-be—the Anglo-Normans—were encroaching from the east, pushing into its territory with unprecedented ferocity. And the bards, the gogynfeirdd as they became known, responded in kind. Performing in courts and halls from Gwynedd to Gwent, they used ever stronger, more evocative, more elegiac verses to call on the leading men of the land to rise up as one and repel these invaders. In the words of these bards, Wales became geographically and spiritually united. A disparate people were given cultural cohesion. Wales got its Welshness.

With clatter of meadhorns,

great liberality!

From The Hirlas of Owain by Owain Cyfeiliog

Written by various monks in various abbeys over several hundred years, the Brut Y Tywysogion chronicles Welsh history from the 7th century to the 14th. In this, one of the principal historic sources for Wales during this tumultuous period in its past, is a somewhat scant paragraph for the year 1176 beginning as follows:

‘And the lord Rhys held a grand festival at the castle of Aberteivi [Cardigan], wherein he appointed two sorts of contention; one between the bards and poets, and the other between the harpers, fiddlers, pipers and various performers of instrumental music; and he assigned two chairs for the victors in these contentions; and these he enriched with vast gifts.’

Those monks left out the juiciest bits.

Part One:

A SLAP OF STRONG WIND IN THE FACE

Rhys

(March, 1194)

“My son…”

The trapdoor opened. He struggled to prop himself on his elbows and better see the figure framed in the torchlight above, but his eyes were too long accustomed to the gloom of the cell and the glare blinded him. He could discern no features. Yet he was certain, now.

“I know it is you. A father knows his first-born…”

The figure started on the descent, taking the rungs of the ladder hesitantly: bare feet, and bad-smelling ones.

“Why, son? Why are you doing this?”

A pause. It was a moment of consideration, perhaps. Even when the figure stood still, the toes twitched. Then, still saying nothing, they rapidly clambered back up. The trapdoor banged shut; the bolts shot across. He was alone again.

“Why?” When he had voiced the word, it had seemed an admission of age. He was an old man alone on a bed in the darkness.

Those first few days of his imprisonment he had felt too despondent to do much besides tend his wounds as best he could. They had been none too serious, but he was none too good at tending wounds. The back of his head had caused him most pain.

Whoever dealt that blow must have come at him from behind, the coward. He preferred dealings with brave men. There was brute’s honesty in the duel or the raid or the battle. You charged, and your weapons clashed, and you lived or died. But the coward was a cat backed into a corner, could spring at you in a way you did not anticipate.

He dreamed a lot those first few days. Such dreams. The early times came back most vividly. Attacking some fortress or other with his brothers. A band of desperate gaunt men in threadbare tunics, they had been. Mostly up against Englishmen or Frenchmen or Flemish men with superior arsenal and greater numbers but often battling other Welshmen, too; often up against themselves. The fight against one’s own: the hardest fight of all.

Once the pain had dulled he had begun to focus on where he was. The basement of a tower. Gaps in the stonework through which the wind shrilled. An odour of damp earth. No light save for a grill about head height, which emitted a pale grey chink of the morning but lapsed back into shadow again by mid-afternoon. This was March, after all, and a particularly foul one. Somewhere else, spring was coming.

He had not been captive long before the visits commenced. At first the figure had seemed contented with a head through the hatchway, but that had not been enough. Soon they were venturing several steps down the ladder. Soon the scrutiny was lasting longer. The watcher had uttered no words as yet. But he sensed that was about to change.

The figure tried to conceal things from him. The fact they suffered from a diabolical cold, for instance: after the bolts thrust home their racking cough would start up, although there was no coughing during the visits. They kept the left side of their face turned away from him, too. But whilst most of the country had their health afflicted on account of this damnable weather, and whilst a fair few of those might choose to hide any disfigurement upon their countenance, something else put the matter of the figure’s identity beyond doubt. Madness. Once the trapdoor had closed, his gaoler’s footfalls receded only so far then broke into a horrible, erratic little dance. Whoever was holding him prisoner was plainly deranged, and in the entire realm it was known such madness coursed through the veins of one man alone: his son.

His first-born had always embarrassed him. At the zenith of his power—the victory banquets, the meets with the King—there had always been that anxious glance over his shoulder partway through proceedings at what his eldest might be doing.

The visit of the Archbishop, for example: it should have been his proudest moment. The kind of moment chroniclers should chronicle.

His castle had been the equal of any Norman: sheer walls of stone, dominating the horizon. The whole town had turned out to the river bridge for the welcome. The Archbishop had been impressed, quite possibly awed; he had endeavoured to put the reverent fellow at ease; the procession had filed up towards the castle gates where, as he recalled, he had arranged for musicians to serenade them all.

Then—he would never forget it—came the squeal from the Archbishop’s attendant as, whilst passing the assembled townsfolk, the poor man had been pinched hard enough on the buttocks to startle him right out of formation and trip over his cassock. His suspicions as to the cause were confirmed a moment later when he and that company of upstanding churchmen had observed several of his younger sons fleeing shrieking from the scene and his eldest, a brawny man in body by then, but still with the mind of a wilful child, smirking with the glee only the orchestrator of an event can muster. Of the entire mortifying occasion, what lodged most firmly in his memory were the words, murmured disapprovingly as an aside later that same evening between two of his guests but overheard by him: ‘if only he could control his children.’

He slumped back on the bed, exhausted through inertia. That was some clobber about the head he had received. A column of ants swarmed over the dirt floor. He wondered briefly whether it was the same few hundred, disappearing through that crevice then circling around the tower wall in order to repeat the procedure, or whether there were thousands more out there, lining up to march across the mud in front of him. Wales was going to the dogs, he thought.

When he opened his eyes, it was to the torchlight again. His captor stood at the foot of the bed, the scar gouging out the left cheek hideous in the flame.

“My father,” the figure sneered, “the greatest of all the great men in Wales.”

And this was true: he had been. There had not been a realm to rival his. Others had asked him how he achieved it and he happily told them: revelry. No hall in Christendom had witnessed the like. The best men had come to pay their respects. And the best women, he allowed himself a smile at this, thinking now of that time; that feast to end all feasts; those weeks that changed everything. It had been spectacular; despite the atrocities, spectacular. He had surpassed himself. Only great men could do that.

“What is it you want?” he asked, but on sighting the knife his son brandished, the question stuck in his throat. “So you have come to end it,” he said quietly.

“End!” his first-born repeated mockingly. “My dear father, I have not even begun!”

He had imagined death. One did not rise to where he had risen without having imagined it. But he had imagined a cathedral, and his coffin being borne with much ceremony down the aisle, not murder in the darkness at the hands of a snivelling, scarred wretch, his own flesh and blood.

“At least tell me why,” he said again. “Why, when I gave you everything?”

“Because of that,” his son advanced to the bedside, stroking the knife blade with absurd tenderness. “Because you were always so damnably perfect.”

٭٭٭٭٭

Don’t forget to check out all the other stops on this amazing Urbane extravaganza!

24th NovChat About Books@chataboutbooks1 

25th NovOver The Rainbow Book Blog@JoannaLouisePar

26th NovBeing Anne@Williams13Anne

27th NovOn The Shelf Bookblog@OnTheShelfBooks

28th NovNicki’s Book Blog@nickijmurphy1

29th NovMy Reading Corner@karendennise

30th NovPortable Magic@bantambookworm

1st DecBlack books blog@SimonJLeonard

2nd DecRae Reads@rae_reads1

3rd DecSo Many Books, So Little Time@smbslt

4th DecOrchard Book Club@OrchardBookClub

5th DecZooloo’s Book DiaryZooloo2008

6th DecNemesis Book Blog@NemesisBlogs

7th DecKatie’s Book Cave@katiejones88

8th DecBooks and Me@bookkaz

9th DecTangents and Tissues@tangentsbb

10th DecGo Buy the Book@karen55555

11th DecCheekypee reads and reviews@cheekypee27

12th DecNicki`s Life Of Crime@NickiRichards7

13th DecEmma the Little Bookworm@EmmaMitchellFPR

14th DecRather Too Fond of Books@hayleysbookblog

15th DecSeansbookreviews@Seant1977

16th DecLizzums Lives Life@LizzumsBB

17th DecThe Magic Of Wor(l)ds@MagicOfWorldsBE

18th DecOn The Shelf Reviews@ljwrites85

19th DecGrab This Book@grabthisbook

20th DecLife Of A Nerdish Mum@NerdishMum

21st DecThe Quiet Geordie@thequietgeordie

22nd DeceBook Addicts@ebookadditsuk

23rd DecOn The Shelf Reviews@ljwrites85

24th DecVarietats@Sweeet83

25th DeceBook Addicts@ebookadditsuk

26th DecPortable Magic@bantambookworm

27th DecLove Books Group@LoveBooksGroup

28th DecA Little Book Problem@book_problem

29th DecIt’s all about the books@DeeCee334

30th DecThe Quiet Geordie@thequietgeordie

31st DecZooloo’s Book Diary@Zooloo2008

#BookReview The Story Collector by Evie Gaughan

About the Book

A beautiful and mysterious historical romance from the author of The Heirloom and The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris. Thornwood Village, 1910. Anna, a young farm girl, volunteers to help an intriguing American visitor, Harold Griffin-Krauss, translate ‘fairy stories’ from Irish to English. But all is not as it seems and Anna soon finds herself at the heart of a mystery that threatens the future of her community and her very way of life….. Captivated by the land of myth, folklore and superstition, Sarah Harper finds herself walking in the footsteps of Harold and Anna one hundred years later, unearthing dark secrets that both enchant and unnerve. The Story Collector treads the intriguing line between the everyday and the otherworldly, the seen and the unseen. With a taste for the magical in everyday life, Evie Gaughan’s latest novel is full of ordinary characters with extraordinary tales to tell. Perfect for fans of Jess Kidd and Eowyn Ivey.

Publisher Urbane Publications

Publication Date   14th June 2018

Purchase Links

Hive.co.uk

Amazon UK

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

What a stunning book! Both inside and out!  It was the cover that initially drew me to pick this book up, but once I’d read the blur and it promised folklore and myth, I was convinced this was my kind of book – and I was right!

The story is set in 2 timelines – 2010 with the character of Sarah who has recently split from her husband, and is at that point in her life where she doesn’t know what is next for her – and also 1910 with the character of Anna whose story we hear of through her diary entries. The way these stories blend together is extremely clever and enthralling and I loved both characters for the ways they dealt with the issues that faced them.  

Set in the village of Thornwood over the years, the stories of ‘The Good People’ have always been part of the folklore and there has always been a huge interest in the ways of the fairies – some curse them, others see them as a good power watching over them, and as Sarah traces the steps of Anna and Harold, the American who is in the village to collect stories of local folklore, she begins to see similarities between her own life and finds herself falling under the spell of Thornwood herself.  With the help of Hazel, a local, she finds herself using the thoughts and experiences of Anna to understand her own life and how to move on.  

This was a beautifully written story that had me captivated from start to finish.   It was full of the magical elements that I love alongside some fascinating characters and that the power of belief is such a powerful thing to many.

Highly recommended!!

✵✵✵

My thanks to the publishers for the advanced review copy in return for a fair and honest review.

The Kindness of Strangers by Julie Newman #bookreview

Deception abounds in Julie Newman’s breath-taking new novel. Widow Helen is desperate for a perfect family life, and will do everything she can to get what she wants. A veteran of the Afghanistan conflict Martin is adrift and seemingly without hope – can he ever win back his estranged family? Pregnant teenager Charley is striking out on her own to create a new life for her unborn child, but her mother Lizzie has other ideas. When three seemingly disparate lives connect, the past and the present collide to reveal secrets, lies and how far people are willing to go to hide the truth. Following the gripping and controversial Beware the Cuckoo, Julie Newman’s thrilling new novel lifts the lid on the dark past that haunts a seemingly happy household.

Publisher – Urbane Publications

BUYING LINKS

Amazon UK  £8.46

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support a local bookstore   £7.49

MY REVIEW

Prepare to be shocked!! I know I was!! This book will take you on a much different journey than where you thought it would take you! Believe me!! And that is such a brilliant thing to happen while you’re reading!  I had absolutely no clue of what was going to happen and that is probably why I enjoyed reading this so much!

It’s the story of 3 strangers and how their paths cross and their lives connect. And they’re all such different characters that the author can explore so many different subjects with them and the challenges that they face.

In Part One we get to meet the main characters – Helen is a widow and dealing with the loss of her beloved husband. Through donating her husbands’ clothes to a nearby charity shop, she meets Audrey who works in there and seems to have a knack of finding those in need of help.  Audrey is one of the good guys in the world and is always willing to help those in need and becomes a much needed friend to Helen who is struggling.  And when Helen then comes across some secrets from her husbands past she is completely thrown and all she thought she knew goes out the window.  But that does give her a new focus in life….

Martin is an ex solider and  suffering from PTSD.  His home life has suffered and is a mess and he’s living on the street looking for a way back to his ex and their children.   He ends up with a social worker who is there to help him find work and a new future and he finds himself at the charity shop where Audrey works looking for some clothes.

Charley is a teenager who finds herself pregnant.  Her mum is not the best role model and seems to find her daughter an irritation and throws her daughter out when Charley wants to keep the baby. She too finds herself at the charity shop and the life of her and her baby are set to change. 

The way the chapters are set out really helps each character get under your skin as you learn more about them and helps you connect more to the positions they find themselves in.  Fate works in mysterious ways so they say, and no more so than in this book!

 Part Two of the book is really about how the characters face up to the situations that life has dealt them and also gives you a chance to see more of Audrey and the role she plays in these characters lives.  It also features a much darker side to the story and I loved the change in atmosphere and tempo!  I can’t say much more than that but it really took my breath away as things evolved and made for such  a memorable read!!! Prepare for the unexpected!!

                                                                       💮💮💮💮💮

Urbane’s 12 days of Christmas Blog Tour – Seeking Eden by Beverley Harvey #QandA #bookreview #giveaway

Hello and welcome to my stop on this fabulously festive Blog Tour that celebrates all things Urbane!!  It is my pleasure to be hosting this stop dedicated to the wonderful Beverley Harvey, and her debut novel Seeking Eden.   She has kindly answered some questions for us today, and I’m also including my review so you can find out a little bit more!  And, even more importantly, Matthew at Urbane has kindly allowed me to share a GIVEAWAY so that 3 of you lucky people can win your own paperback copy of Seeking Eden!!  The  perfect christmas gift to yourself!!

Time to get on with the Q & A!!  Take it away Beverley!!

Q&A

Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I’ve spent decades working in corporate communications but now I’m concentrating on writing fiction. Seeking Eden is my debut novel and was published by Urbane in July 2017.

Seeking Eden is set in home-counties suburbia and the central themes are relationship dramas in middle age and the lure of materialism. The story opens when forty-something Kate and Neil leave London for a new life in prosperous Eden Hill, Kent. But it isn’t long before Kate becomes lonely and homesick, making her vulnerable when Ben, an old boyfriend and former pop star, comes sniffing around, hoping to rekindle both his relationship with Kate and his faded music career.

Kate befriends Lisa; glamour girl, former WAG, and another newcomer to Eden Hill. Newly divorced Lisa is excited by the idea of a fresh start – until her footballer ex-husband is found dead from a drinking accident and she is vilified in the tabloids.

Enter Martin, a straight-laced shop owner from a neighbouring town. Trapped in a dutiful marriage and in the throes of a midlife crisis, Martin becomes obsessed with Lisa and her wealthier friends in Eden Hill.

The book is about the fallout of living in a community where everyone wants what they don’t have.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) The idea for Seeking Eden was inspired by my own experience of leaving an organic, established London ‘village’ for a new town similar to Eden Hill. It can be a very isolating experience for newcomers. In terms of ‘getting it all down’, apart from four terms on a creative writing course, I had no experience, so I wrote from the heart and took a year to complete a first draft. I then spent another six months editing and polishing Seeking Eden before I began contacting agents. I got a handful of rejections, but most didn’t even come back to me. I considered self-publishing but didn’t feel confident to go it alone. I found Urbane through Twitter and thought ‘Wow! A third way exists!’ And it made total sense, especially when I met Matthew Smith and he was so approachable and constructive. It was desperately exciting to think that my story was to become a living breathing BOOK!

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) This year has been a real mixed. Highlights have included a couple of Urbane titles; The Gift Maker by Mark Mayes, and No Way Back by Kelly Florentia. I’ve also enjoyed some great thrillers; Girl on the Train by Paula

Hawkins, Gone Girl and Dark Places by Gillian Flynn and The Girlfriend by Michelle Francis. When I was younger I devoured anything and everything by certain authors, particularly Anita Brookner, Fay Weldon and Joanna Trollope – that’s not really the case now as my tastes have become broader and more eclectic. Last year, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson really stayed with me; I found it very unsettling.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Ha! I went from one extreme to the other. As a child I loved Enid Blyton – especially the Mallory Towers and St Claire’s yarns. In my teens, I covertly read bonk-busters by Jaqueline Susanne and Jackie Collins; these women contributed hugely to my sex education.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) Seeing Seeking Eden as a fat glossy paperback for the first time was very satisfying. And the reviews; every time I get five-stars, I think; wow! Somebody has been moved and entertained and it amazes me.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) My partner Mark has been unshakeable in his support. He really believes that I have talent and that the time is NOW to get on with it! I had a wonderful creative writing tutor for two years in Tonbridge, Beth McNeilly; Beth went back to the States before Seeking Eden was published, but I have so much to thank her for. Matthew Smith at Urbane has been incredibly supportive and patient as I feel my way through becoming an author.

You can read more about me at www.beverleyharvey.co.uk or follow me on Twitter @BevHarvey_

*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career

THE BLURB

’50 is the new 30 – haven’t you heard?’

Or so says Ben Wilde’s record producer on the eve of his comeback. If only Ben could win back ex-girlfriend, Kate, he’d be a happy man.

But married Kate has moved on, and moved out – to Eden Hill, a quiet housing estate in the suburbs. Lonely and homesick for London, can Kate resist ego-maniac Ben’s advances and save her own flagging marriage?

Streets away, Kate’s new friend Lisa, a Chihuahua toting ex-WAG, is primed for a fresh start – until her footballer ex-husband is found dead and she is vilified in the gutter press.

But Kate, Lisa and Ben aren’t the only ones having a midlife crisis; local shop owner Martin dreams of escaping his dutiful marriage, and develops an unhealthy obsession with Lisa and her friends in Eden Hill.

Alongside a colourful cast of friends and family, Kate, Lisa, Ben and Martin are living proof that older does not always mean wiser because in Eden Hill, there’s temptation around every corner

Amazon UK

Urbane Publications

Waterstones

Book Depository

MY REVIEW

If you are looking for a book that is a delicious slice of suburbia life, then look no further! This debut novel from Beverley Harvey had me hooked from page one and I just loved the way she captures a wide range of people and their experiences of life in the neighbourhood of Eden Hill.

The story is mainly centred around Kate and Neil who are burgled in London, thus prompting a move out of town into the upmarket community of Eden Hills. Neil works in London for most of the week, so Kate is left to her own devices – is she ready for suburbia?! From reading about her exploits it seems not! She gets a dog – Ludo – which helps her get out and about and talking to a number of neighbours, not least Lisa who used to be married to a footballer and is the glamorous side of the community and becomes her closest friend.

There are so many fascinating characters who we get to see life from their point of view – Martin, who owns the local carpet shop, and the issues he faces with his depressive wife Jan, Ben who is Kates’ ex and has now decided he wants her back, and Lisa and her complicated past that comes back to haunt her, and it just reads like a soap opera as you dip in and out of each story and how their paths cross.

It was also nice to read about characters who aren’t in their 20’s and 30’s, and how being slightly older doesn’t mean that they’ve figured life out and they have just as many insecurities as those who are younger. There’s nice dashes of humour too along the way and it just made for a really enjoyable read and I’m just hoping we get to revisit some of the characters in other books in the future!!

GIVEAWAY

As I mentioned earlier, the publisher has allowed me to giveaway 3 paperback copies of this fabulous book to 3 lucky winners!! And all you have to do is comment on this blog post by 9pm on Sunday the 17th December 2017 and I will then pick 3 winners at random!!  

Winners can be UK or INTERNATIONAL!!! We want to share the Seeking Eden love far and wide!! So comment below and I could be in touch with you very soon!  GOOD LUCK ALL!!

HAPPY READING!!

The Killing Rock by Robert Daws #coverreveal

Good Morning to you all!! And welcome along for a fabulous cover reveal courtesy of Matthew at Urbane Publications , ahead of the release date of 7th June 2018.  It is my pleasure to bring you the stunning cover reveal for the 3rd book of the Sullivan and Broderick Investigations series by Robert Daws.

So, without further ado, here is your first look at THE KILLING ROCK

PUB DATE:  7TH June 2018, paperback and ebook

ISBN: 978-1-911583134

PRICE: £8.99

THE BLURB

The mummified remains of a woman’s body have been discovered at a demolition site on the Eastern side of the Rock of Gibraltar. A family are massacred in the grounds of a millionaire’s mansion near Puerto Banus on the Costa del Sol.

The Royal Gibraltar Police Force and their Spanish counterparts in Marbella, begin their separate investigations.

Detective Sergeant Tamara Sullivan and Chief Inspector Gus Broderick soon find themselves at the centre of a gruesome, dangerous and elusive murder investigation. Their nightmarish quest to stop more killings, leads them to the ghosts of murders past and a very real threat to their own lives in the present.

Beneath the heat of the Mediterranean sun, Sullivan and Broderick are on the murder trail once again.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robert Daws is a British theatre and television actor best known for his roles in long running tv series such as the award winning Outside Edge, Jeeves and Wooster, Roger,Roger, The Royal, Rock and Chips, Casualty, Midsomer Murders, Sword of Honour, Take A Girl Like You and most recently, as Dr Thomas Choake in Poldark. His most recent theatre work includes Michael Frayn’s Alarms and Excursions, The Secret of Sherlock Holmes and Yes Prime Minister in London’s West End.

Author Website

@RobertDaws

If you haven’t read  The Poisoned Rock and The Rock in this series, then I highly recommend you hunt them down, and it gives you plenty of time to read them before The Killing Rock gets released!

Urbane Publications Book Club Book Haul

My favourite time of the month has arrived!! I knew it was going to be fun when I signed up to the Urbane Publications Book Club at the start of the year! For the princely sum of £99.99 you  receive a copy of EVERY book they publishe throughout the year!  My bookshelves are now creaking under the weight of all the fabulous releases that they’ve sent out this year, and this is the October and November releases which contain a little bit of everything! So I thought I’d share this as a separate book haul and let you read a little bit about each book – to see if any tempt you! I’m struggling to decide which one to start with, although I have already read Dead Lands and loved that so can highly recommend that one if you’re looking for a new read!!

DEAD LANDS by LLOYD OTIS

Dead Lands is a thrilling crime story set in the 1970s. When a woman’s body is found a special team is called in to investigate and prime suspect Alex Troy is arrested for the murder. Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence, but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked and suspicions deepen. When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt. Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge. Breck has his suspicions and she wants to keep it from him, and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy. Lloyd Otis brings a startling account of the past back to life over a burgeoning ’70s landscape, and delivers a thrilling piece of crime fiction that will excite any fan of the genre

ALL THE COLOURS IN BETWEEN by EVA JORDAN

Eva Jordan’s much-anticipated follow up to the bestselling 183 Times a Year It’s not a life, it’s an adventure!

Lizzie is fast approaching 50. Her once angst ridden teenage daughters, now grown and in their twenties, have flown the nest, Cassie to London and Maisy to Australia. And, although Connor, Lizzie’s sulky, surly teenage son,is now on his own tormented passage to adulthood, his quest to get there, for the most part, is a far quieter journey than that of his sisters. The hard years, Lizzie believes, are behind her.

Embracing her new career as a writer; divorce, money worries and the constant battle to weather the stormy complexities of the blended family, are all but a distant memory. It’s time for Lizzie to focus on herself for a change. Stepdaughter Maisy is embracing life down under and daughter Cassie is working for a famous record producer in London. Lizzie’s only concern, albeit a mild one, is for the arrested development of her Facebook-Tweeting, Snapchatting, music and mobile phone obsessed, teenage son. With communication skills, more akin to an intermittent series of unintelligible grunts, conversation is futile. However, Lizzie is not particularly perturbed. With deadlines to meet and book tours to attend, Lizzie has other distractions to concentrate on. But all in all, life is good. Life is very good.

Only, things are never quite as black and white as they seem…

A visit to her daughter in London leaves Lizzie troubled. Cassie is still the same incessant chattering Queen of malaprops and spoonerisms she ever was, however something is clouding her normally cheery disposition. Not to mention her extreme weight loss. And that is just the start. Add to that an unexpected visitor, a disturbing phone call, a son acting suspiciously, a run in with her ex husband and a new man in her life who quite simply takes her breath away; Lizzie quickly realises life is something that happens while plans are being made.

Harsh but tender, thought provoking but light-hearted, dark but brilliantly funny, this is a story of contemporary family life in all its 21st century glory. A story of mothers and sons, of fathers and daughters, of brothers and sisters, and friends. A tale of love and loss, of friendships and betrayals and a tale of coming of age and end of life. Nobody said it would be easy and as Lizzie knows only too well, life is never straightforward when you see all the colours in between.

A DEATH IN THE NIGHT by GUY FRASER-SAMPSON

Book 4 in the thrilling Hampstead Murders series!

When a woman identified as the wife of a prominent lawyer dies at an exclusive women’s club, the team from Hampstead police station find themselves thrown into a baffling investigation with very little evidence to offer any guidance.

By coincidence, Metcalfe, Collins and Willis were all attending a vintage dinner dance at the club at the estimated time of death. Can they remember anything between them which might indicate a solution?

Set against a background of professors, barristers, and serial adultery, the fourth in the Hampstead Murders series continues the pattern set by its predecessors: strong, character-driven contemporary narrative written in the spirit of the Golden Age of detective writing. Praised by leading crime-writers, and garnering rave reviews from book bloggers, the books have been described as elegant, intelligent, quirky and ‘a love letter to the detective novel’. All agree they are very ‘different’ from the standard fare of modern crime fiction.

JAVELIN by ROGER PEARCE

A gripping political thriller set over two weeks in the aftermath of Brexit, Javelin will not disappoint fans of Detective Chief Inspector John Kerr.

Two explosions in Victoria mark the beginning of a bombing campaign against banking institutions in London. The attacks bear the hallmarks of Irish republican dissidents but are disowned by IRA volunteers and politicians in Belfast.

Kerr believes the bombs are the work of the extremist group Anti-Capitalist Insurrection, with attacks in London the first stage of a devastatingly deadly campaign across Europe…can Kerr stop them in time?

THE FUTURE CAN’T WAIT by ANGELENA BODEN

Kendra Blackmore always believed she was a good mother, doing her best for her children. And she thought they were happy in life. But when her half-Iranian daughter Ariana (Rani) undergoes an identity crisis which results in her cutting of all contact with her family, Kendra begins to question everything. Has her daughter become radicalised by Islamic State? Her son Adam, a doctor, explains it’s a normal part of development and that it won’t last, but sick with worry Kendra is desperate to understand why her home loving daughter would do this. To the point that it pushes her to the edge of irrationality and denial. Where is Rani? Why would she forsake her family? Kendra is fighting not just to win back her daughter, but to save everything she holds dear.

OUR FOOD, OUR FUTURE by ALAN WATKINS & MATT SIMISTER

‘A brilliant book. It explores the complexities of the global food system and how we can fix the challenges. If you care about access to quality, affordable food then read this book’ – Heston Blumenthal

The third book in the critically acclaimed Wicked & Wise series offers a compelling analysis of the issue of food on an international scale. From nutrition to world hunger to GM farming, what are the impacts of food and food issues on regional, political, cultural, business and social priorities?

With 2 billion obese and 2 billion hungry, food is a key issue in the future development of the world’s population and its health. As with every wicked and wise issue, it throws up significant moral, political and economic concerns when tackling how we will keep the world’s population nourished in decades to come.

BLOOD RITES by DAVID STUART DAVIES

Blood Rites is the latest gripping DI Paul Snow thriller from renowned crime writer David Stiart Davies. 1980s Yorkshire. DI Paul Snow has a personal demon. He is a homosexual but is desperate to keep it secret, knowing it would finish his career in the intolerant police force. As this personal drama unfolds, he is involved in investigating a series of violent murders in the town. All the victims appear to be chosen at random and appear to have no connection with each other. After the fourth murder, he is removed from the case for not finding the killer but continues investigating the matter privately. Gradually, Paul manages to determine a link between the murder victims, but this places his own life in great danger. Can Paul unmask the killer as he wrestles with his own demons?

Not a bad little haul eh!!  Some rather intriguing titles there for me to enjoy over the winter months!!  Now to find space on my bookshelves for them all!!

HAPPY READING!!

DeadLands by Lloyd Otis #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview

 

deadlands

My pleasure to be hosting today on the Deadlands Blog Tour!  Hope you’re ready for a guest post from the author  and my review of this thrilling 70’s crime story!

lloyd

@LloydOtisWriter

Dead Lands: dialect and accents 

Dialect and accents slot firmly under the umbrella of the dialogue within a story, and can be important ingredients when telling that story. How your characters interact with each other during their conversations helps to shape your narrative and can set the scene. It can give them their own identity and make them memorable, so it’s best to decide from the outset how the protagonist will interact verbally with friends. Will they be relaxed or tense? Is it important for the reader see different dialects come into play? Will you decide to use a particular dialect or accent, or neither. Many people get the two confused so let’s address that first.

Dialect is a form of language specific to a social group of region, while accent is the unique pronunciation of a language, normally associated with a country, or area.

Both of these require knowledge of the area and group of which they are to be associated with. Accents are tricky, so if you plan to do them make sure that it’s done well. Yes, they can add an interesting flavour to your scene but if you’d rather not, then be rest assured that the audience are smart enough to play the proposed accent in their own mind when they’re reading. For example, if a character is from Leicester then they’d be able to differentiate the voice from that of someone from Bristol and so forth.

There may be some slang that is best served just as it is and that’s fine, but read it through and make sure that it all fits with the scene and the characters. Can it empower the scene or is it just window dressing?

With Dead Lands I haven’t gone overboard with using accents and dialects. The story is set mainly in London although DS Kearns is from Yorkshire, I trust the readers to envisage that fact whenever they read her dialogue. Just as I have done with the prime suspect’s American boss, Lizzie Daniels.

I doubt that anyone would want the narrative to become weighed down by constant accents, so striking the right balance works well, as I’ve done with smaller characters where I’ve felt their way of speaking would enhance the scene. However, it can work the other way too. For example, I have a scene where Breck speaks to a Norwegian friend of his over the phone and I’ve resisted trying to imagine his friend’s English wrapped within his natural Norwegian accent. Instead I’ve relied on the readers to interpret it in the way they want, and the way that they’ll each interpret it will differ I’m sure.

Accents and dialects can provide great support to an overall story as well as transport the reader to the exact time and place that the author wants them to be in. How much both are used depends on the story and if the author thinks it will add value, but they can definitely be effective if used right.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Dead Lands is a thrilling crime story set in the 1970s. When a woman’s body is found a special team is called in to investigate and prime suspect Alex Troy is arrested for the murder. Desperate to remain a free man, Troy protests his innocence, but refuses to use his alibi. Trying to protect the woman he loves becomes a dangerous game – questions are asked and suspicions deepen. When the prime suspect completes a daring escape from custody, DI Breck and DS Kearns begin the hunt. Breck wants out of the force while Kearns has her own agenda and seeks revenge. Breck has his suspicions and she wants to keep it from him, and a right-wing march provides an explosive backdrop to their hunt for Troy. Lloyd Otis brings a startling account of the past back to life over a burgeoning ’70s landscape, and delivers a thrilling piece of crime fiction that will excite any fan of the genre.

Publisher – Urbane Publications

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore

MY REVIEW

I found this to be a gritty and engaging crime thriller, brilliantly set in the 1970’s London so you get a great look back at how police work used to be conducted and how times have changed!  Door to Door enquiries and relying on nosy neighbours was the norm back then, and the author really picks up on the work and time that was put into each case.
Urbane have produced another fabulous looking – inside and out – crime thriller that kept my interest throughout as the intrigue built as to finding out the murderer of a young woman, and then ,as the body count increases, working out the links between each victim.
The opening really sets the scene as you get a glimpse inside a mind taught not to care, and that really follows on throughout as those involved survived on their own rules and didn’t care who got in their way.
Arlo Breck and DS Kearns are the lead investigators and make a great pairing as they each come to the case with their own baggage, and the politics of life in the SCU – serious crimes unit –  are never too far away.
The story is paced really well and just when you think they’re getting closer, there’s another spanner thrown in the works to make you change your mind as to the guilty parties and motives, and while the case looks ‘bang to rights’ with the name of a suspect left at the scenes,  that begins to look a little too staged for those inspecting and they find themselves investigating some brutal elements of society – there is definitely more to this than meets the eye!!
A fabulous read that was bold, gripping and full of intrigue and definitely an author to watch out for in the future!!

Thank you for stopping by today!

 

deadlandsblog

Handcuffs, Truncheon and a Polyester Thong by Gina Kirkham – my review!

Meet Mavis Upton.

As mummy to 7-year old Ella, surrogate to far too many pets and with a failed marriage under her belt, Mavis knows she needs to make some life-changing decisions. It’s time to strike out into the world, to stand on her own two feet … to pursue a lifelong ambition to become a Police Officer. I mean, what could go wrong?

Supported by her quirky, malapropism-suffering mum, Mavis throws herself headlong into a world of uncertainty, self-discovery, fearless escapades, laughter and extra-large knickers. And using her newly discovered investigative skills, she reluctantly embarks on a search to find her errant dad who was last seen years before, making off with her mum’s much needed coupon for a fabulous foam cup bra all the way from America.

Follow Mavis as she tackles everything life can throw at her, and revel in Gina Kirkham’s humorous, poignant and moving story of an everyday girl who one day followed a dream. 

Amazon UK

Urbane Publications

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gina was born during the not-so-swinging 50’s to a mum who frequently abandoned her in a pram outside Woolworths and a dad who, after two pints of beer, could play a mean Boogie Woogie on the piano in the front room of their 3-bed semi on the Wirral.  Being the less adventurous of three children, she remains there to this day – apart from a long weekend in Bognor Regis in 1982.

Her teenage years were filled with angst, a CSE in Arithmetic, pimples, PLJ juice, Barry White and rather large knickers until she suddenly and mysteriously slimmed down in her twenties.  Marriage and motherhood ensued, quickly followed by divorce in her early thirties and a desperate need for a career and some form of financial support for herself and her daughter.  Trundling a bicycle along a leafy path one wintry day, a lifelong passion to be a police officer gave her simultaneously an epiphany and fond memories of her favourite author Enid Blyton and moments of solving mysteries.

And thus began an enjoyable and fulfilling career with Merseyside Police.

On reaching an age most women lie about, she quickly adapted to retirement by utilising her policing skills to chase after two granddaughters, two dogs and one previously used, but still in excellent condition, husband.  Having said goodbye to what had been a huge part of her life, she suddenly had another wonderful epiphany. This time it was to put pen to paper to write a book based on her experiences as a police officer.

Lying in bed one night staring at the ceiling and contemplating life as she knew it, Gina’s alter-ego, Mavis Upton was born, ready to star in a humorous and sometimes poignant look at the life, loves and career of an everyday girl who followed a dream and embarked upon a search for the missing piece of her childhood. You can follow ‘Mavis’ on twitter @MAVISUPTON

MY REVIEW

If you are looking for a book to make you laugh out loud then look no further!! Mavis Upton is a wonderfully real character and her exploits as a single mum and as a rookie police officer will keep you entertained throughout!  I was in need of a lighter book after some recent darker reads, and this was the perfect antidote!  The world needs more funny books!!

From her challenges in motherhood, to dealing with her own mother, dating colleagues and going for a career change as a police officer this book takes you through such a range of emotions! I was in fits of laughter one minute, and then shedding tears the next! Every aspect of her police training is explored and many moments had you thinking they were more like the keystone cops! She isn’t the only quirky character featured and this adds to the fun, but the author even explores the darker side of police work with the reality of the sights they are often called out too that are tough for them to deal with – and then you understand why they need their often twisted sense of humour to get them through!

Mavis is such a delightful character – full of flaws but so determined, plucky and real! The humour mixes well with the more tender, emotional moments and I’m delighted to hear the author is already working on another book featuring this character! I can’t wait!!!

Thoroughly recommended!!

HAPPY READING!!