Friday, June 16, 2017

Book Promotion

Book promotion nowadays is done by the authors themselves. Twitter and FaceBook are two ways of getting your book's name out there. 

A blog tour is another. Here's mine coming up next week to celebrate the re-release of Perfect Score.

I chose a book review tour, so I'm pretty scared about what's going to happen next week. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Where Rainbows End by AnneMarie Brear - Book Review

 I enjoyed this historical read about the hardships that the settlers encountered in 1850s Australia.

Starting their journey in Sydney, Philippa, or Pippa, Noble and family have recently arrived from England. Her father, Gerald, has gambled most of their money away and taken a loan out from a cousin.

He uses the money to buy land in the outback and create a stud-farm, several days journey from Sydney. Pippa is a perfect, feisty heroine who, her father says, should have been a boy. She insists on accompanying her father into rather dangerous country to view the land he's been granted. It isn't a comfortable journey but, when she sees their land, she falls in love with it. Her father is ill and returns to Sydney, leaving his daughter to start the development.

There is much to enjoy about "Where Rainbows End", the fabulous and surprising settings, the hardships the characters face and how they overcome them. I was pulled in by the romance too. Pippa might be a "take-no-prisoners" heroine but she's got a soft, feminine side about her. I very much enjoyed the heartbreaks, the friendships and the would-be lovers that she encounters and I was rooting for her every time.

This is my first AnneMarie Brear book and it won't be my last. I enjoy her simple, yet suspenseful, way of writing that created a compelling story. I found it difficult to put down. Can't say better than that, can you?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Dianne Noble - author of intriguing books.

On Monday I posted a book review here of Dianne Noble's latest novel "Oppression". 
Today, I'm so pleased that she agreed to come onto my blog to tell us something about her wonderful (and intriguing) books. Here's Dianne:

The first time I saw Egypt I was seven years old and sitting on the deck of the troopship Dunera with my head buried in Enid Blyton’s Ring-o-Bells Mystery. I looked up when we docked in Port Said to see the gully gully man. He was an Egyptian magician who fascinated everyone, young and old alike, and accentuated the other world atmosphere of this exotic country. As we sailed down the Suez Canal – much narrower than expected – Lawrence of Arabia figures seated on camels appeared on the desert banks. I can truly say Egypt was the first place interesting enough to get my head out of a book.
Three years later, in December 1957, the Canal had been closed and we flew back from Singapore in an RAF Hermes plane. The journey took almost three days, stopping in several countries to re-fuel and de-ice the wings. This time there were no hot and vibrant sights and I didn’t see Egypt again until I reached my early forties, when I travelled by train from Cairo to Aswan, glued to the windows as we passed by villages which looked like they’d come straight from the pages of the Bible. My lifelong love affair with Egypt had begun and I’ve been back many times. The last time, I visited the City of the Dead in Cairo, a necropolis which features in Oppression and houses many poor people.
This novel is the story of Beth who prevents the abduction of a young girl in a North Yorkshire town, but is powerless to stop her subsequent forced marriage. In time to come Beth travels to Egypt to search for the girl, Layla, and finds her living in the City of the Dead. Oppression is the tale of two very different women, both of whom are oppressed in their lives, and how they triumph despite the odds.

Dianne's two previous books, set in Calcutta:
Outcast and A Hundred Hands
Amazon UK
Ten years ago I volunteered to spend a winter teaching English to street children in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, in India. While there I realised what it is I love about the country –it’s the people. Despite great deprivation they laugh and are joyful. This time in Kolkata proved to be the hardest thing I have ever done. Broken, crumbling buildings sit amid lakes of raw sewage; filthy children encrusted with sores are homeless; families live on a patch of pavement so narrow they take it in turns to lie down. They give birth – and die – there. Yet their indomitable spirit shines through.
I feared I couldn’t do it, felt my resolve dying daily amid the horrors and hardship, but I started writing a journal and it saved me. Every night, no matter how dirty and exhausted I felt, I recorded one child’s progress with the alphabet, another’s disappearance, how many times I’d been hugged. It was a form of de-briefing but also cathartic. It got me through and these diaries formed the basis for A Hundred Hands and Outcast.
India remains my favourite place in the world and I re-visit whenever I can afford it. I have often thought about living there and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel rekindled that desire!
Amazon UK

Twitter: @dianneanoble1

Monday, May 08, 2017

Book Review: Oppression by Dianne Noble

I love it when one of my favourite authors releases a new book (and, you know, I only post GOOD book reviews on here. If I don't like a book, I don't review it).

I’ve read all of Dianne Noble’s books: the first two were set in India. Her third, “Oppression”, is divided between the peaceful landscape of Yorkshire and the frenzy of Cairo, Egypt.

There are apparently constant contrasts within the story, but as I read, I realised that maybe there are many similarities too.

Beth is mentally abused, and probably soon to be physically abused by her controlling husband. Her miserable life, although affluent and, as seen from the outside, very comfortable, continues because she feels she’s not strong enough to do anything about it. Until the day she rescues Egyptian Muslim girl, Layla, from the brutal hands of her two brothers. Layla has, to save family face, been promised in marriage to an Egyptian man many years her senior.

When Layla disappears, Beth finds she’s been sent to Egypt which spurs mild Beth into uncharacteristic action. She finds courage from somewhere and makes her way, on her own, to the underbelly of Cairo where wife-beating is the norm.

Reading about life for the poor of Cairo was greatly interesting: the dirt, poverty (cockroaches that scuttle about in the night), the lack of water for showering, the way the men ogle blonde Beth. Fantatics. Yet fanatical is also Beth’s mother – an unforgiving (and completely non-Christian to my way of thinking) Methodist who spurns her own family because of her twisted views.

“Oppression”, I think, is a profound story – oppression on so many levels proving the West has certain similarities with the Middle East. Ms Noble writes a powerful story with her incredible knack of creating settings so real that the reader is transported to the backstreets of Cairo and the rolling hills of Yorkshire. The story kept me up reading all night. Top marks!

Buy links: Amazon uk
                  Amazon US

Tomorrow (Tuesday), Dianne will be a guest on my blog so do come back to hear how she writes these incredibly atmospheric books

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Girl in Red Velvet by Margaret James - Five Stars. Book Review.


Will loving two men tear your heart apart?
It’s the 1960s and Lily Denham is about to begin her studies at Oxford University.
On her first day she meets Harry Gale and Max Farley, two fellow undergraduates who are both full of mischievous charm. The three of them become firm great friends and enjoy exploring everything Oxford has to offer, from riotous parties to punting up the river on sunny afternoons.
However, something threatens to disrupt the fun, because Lily soon realises she’s falling for both of her new-found friends, men who might offer her two very different futures  – but who will she pick? Harry is generous and kind, reliable and trustworthy. Max embodies the spirit of the sixties; adventurous and rebellious, but possibly a little bit dangerous as well.
As university ends and Lily struggles to make her mark on the vibrant fashion scene, she must make a decision. But she soon becomes aware that the wrong decision could have devastating consequences for her own future and for Max’s and Harry’s futures, too … 
Girl in Red Velvet is book 6 in the Charton Minster Series (The Silver LocketThe Golden ChainThe Penny BangleThe Wedding Diary & Magic Sometimes Happens)

My review:

Author Margaret James has such a great writing track record that I could expect nothing less from her except a 5 star book! And she hasn't disappointed with "Girl in  Red Velvet. Her "writing voice" (if I can say that) is so soothing, even when the plot is taking a surprising turn. And the plot is full of such turns. Take the beginning, for instance, when Lily does a runner at her own wedding, leaving the reader to wonder who she's supposed to be marrying and why doesn't she want to, such a brilliant cliffhanger that keeps the reader guessing for a good part of the book.

Ms James also manages to convey Max's bold, adventurous spirit without resorting to piles of adjectives. His character is amazing, as is feisty Lily's whose journey from a frightened girl on her first day at Oxford to that of a mature, take-no-prisoners, woman is smoothly transitioned. Harry's quieter ways prove a perfect foil. The author has a way with words that evoke images of the story in the reader's mind, and makes the characters real.

If you lived in the sixties, you'll be reminded of life at that time and how undergraduates lived  (I'd forgotten all about Wimpeys), and the foreign lands that Max finds himself are so well researched and portrayed. 

This is no mere "chic-lit". Ms James takes light literary fiction several steps further and goes deeper (there are three main characters, remember) and produces a story that will keep the reader on his/her toes right to the end.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hewhay Hall and First Chapter

Thanks to JULIA KAVAN for the wonderful graphic. Contact her for professional editing too!

Hewhay Hall is on promotion this week : 99p Amazon UK

                                                           $  1.24

Read the first chapter: 


Jude stared down the hill at the glint on the water and then across to the fields baked hard by weeks of sun. He’d followed the directions to the letter, so this was the right place. But where was Hewhay Hall?
A row of swallows balanced on a wire stretching overhead, each facing the same way as Jude, who rested against a five-bar gate. They too seemed to be eyeing the fallen tree trunks that littered the overgrown path down the rocky hillside. They were lucky—they could fly, but Jude had to hobble.
The air moved on the other side of the marshland. He didn’t imagine it. A definite ripple, the kind that alters your vision when a migraine’s about to start. Although the shift was fleeting, he had the idea something was down there after all, very faint and hard to describe. The outline of a building? Or maybe just heat haze. Whatever, he’d come this far—he’d go and investigate.
The latch and hinges on the gate were so rusted, Jude couldn’t open it. Nothing for it, then, but to climb over. He propped his crutches against the wooden bars, placed his hands on the top, and hauled himself up so his right leg got a footing on a lower rung. Now he could sit on the top. He bent down, picked up what was left of his other leg, and maneuvered it over until he straddled the gate. It creaked under his weight. As he swung his right leg over, he teetered, tried to grab the top bar but lost his balance and fell headlong into a bramble patch.
Prickles stabbed him as he lay on his back, his whirling gaze locked on a wiggly jet trail in the cloudless sky. Once the world righted itself, he pushed himself up on his elbows and extracted some of the more painful brambles before rolling onto his right knee. His bum in the air, he hoped no one was looking and that he retained a shred of dignity as he balanced on his right leg and wobbled his way upright. As he tried to stand, his knee locked. He was a second away from landing back on the ground but he grabbed an oak tree trunk for support.
Bloody hell. Wasn’t it about time they gave him a prosthesis? He bent to rub his stump, still raw after all this time. Why wasn’t he healing?
The thought was barely out of his head when the gate clicked and glided open behind him as if the latch and hinges had been well-oiled. He scratched his head and glared down the valley at the space where he thought he’d seen the outline of a house a moment ago. Was someone having a laugh at him here? Watch the ugly cripple struggle over the gate then open it on remote control? I tell you, he silently told the marshes, if I find out who did that, I’m going to nail him to this oak tree by his ears.
Fat chance. Even if the culprit were five years old, he’d still be stronger than Jude—and able to run faster.
A rifle shot resounded, the boom echoing off the hillside. Jude dove into the tall grass, his arms over his head, his chest bruised by the stony ground. When his heartbeat slowed, he lowered his arms and parted the weeds he was lying in to check out his surroundings. Of course it was only a local farmer scaring crows. God dammit, why did every little noise set him off?
Post traumatic stress disorder, the shrink had told him. Having experienced a bomb blast, you’re bound to get flashbacks.
I’m an idiot, he wanted to shout at the now-darting swallows, but until he got his trembling under control, he was speechless. Anyway, he had to find the strength to get back on his feet, or rather, foot.
Maybe he’d better just sit a moment, catch his breath and get his thoughts in order. Up to his chest in seed-grass, he wondered why the place called Hewhay Hall wasn’t here. The leaflet had said to follow the track as far as it goes, then to park when you got to the gate leading to Hewhay Hall because you could go no farther.
He reached over and grabbed his fallen crutches. With their help, he clambered upright, fitted his arms in, and squinted against the glare of the light. Even his damned eyesight seemed to be going these days. Anyone would think he was ninety, not thirty. What a wuss.
He scrubbed his hands over his face. Christ, he was tired. He’d lain awake for most of last night, tossing and turning, wondering if coming here was the right thing to do.
“It looks all wrong to me,” Tess, his wife, had said when he’d said good-bye to her this morning at home. And she’d thrown him that look—the one she’d acquired over the past year that had pity written all through it
Now he had two choices: go down and look for this Hewhay Hall or head back and admit his failure to assess a situation—again.
Another shot rang out, scattering a flock of crows. Jude swayed like a wind-blown sapling but kept his balance, even though his mind was thrown back to his final call-out…
 “Jude, code 10-79.”
Code 79. For a moment he’d forgotten what a 79 was—he had been on duty at the fire station for twenty-four hours, it was a wonder he remembered his own name. Oh yes: bomb threat. Imminent. Needing senior officer, on scene, stat. Hostage situation.
“OK,” he’d told his divisional officer, reaching for his white helmet. “Let’s hit the road. Who are the hostages?”
“A family at the top of the building. Woman—mother—has a bomb attached to her.”
“She’s a suicide bomber?”
“No, it was a break-in. The perp held the husband at gunpoint—heavy weaponry—and forced the woman to put on a waistcoat with the armed device.”
“Jesus. What is the guy? An octopus?”
“Nope, typical fucking terrorist.”
“Where is he now?”
“He lit outta there somehow. Bloody cops. Sheer incompetence, if you want my opinion. But he evaporated into thin air.”
Now, standing on the wasteland, Jude pictured the children who’d been held hostage with their parents. Kids he’d seen and heard crying before they were blown to smithereens.

He clasped his hands together to stop them from trembling as he relived the blanket of dust, the earsplitting crack as the ceiling gave way, and the rubble falling on him, tons, crashing down from above. It hadn’t hurt at the time—pain and repercussions had come later. Maybe it hadn’t been his job as a firefighter to go in like he had, maybe he had been disobeying orders. But he’d been driven by an overwhelming instinct to help.