Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Grand Book Sale and Extract from Joseph Barnaby

 My publisher, Crooked Cat Books, has a grand Halloween Book Sale between 30th and 1st October. So many books now reduced to 99p or 99c.

My books, "Joseph Barnaby" and "Forest Dancer" are both reduced, and you might enjoy them. 

Here's an extract from "Joseph Barnaby": 

The first chapter:

The noise level in The Rose and Crown pub grew in proportion to the amount the clientele drank, but Joe Barnaby’s father managed to make himself heard as he shouted, “My son is the best farrier in the business.”
Joseph Barnaby laughed and raised his glass. “And what my dad doesn’t know about horse farming isn’t worth knowing.”
There was a cheer, then a brief lull as glasses chinked and someone threw a bag of nacho chips in the air, which was a signal for the noise to start up again.
“He sure is,” one of the farmers cried, joining Joe and his father at their table. “And make sure you’re at my stables tomorrow at nine, young Joe! You need to renew the hoof dressings you put on the bay the other day.”
“It’s in my diary,” Joe confirmed. “And the chestnut’s hooves are due for trimming too.” He picked up his pint of beer and downed it. He had the best job in the world, he decided: great friends and clients, and the opportunity to work all day in the beautiful countryside with his favourite animal.
 A stud-farmer Joe had worked with came over and spoke to him. “My grandson wants to be a farrier. Could he come out with you one day?”
“Sure. But tell him he’ll have to deal with everything, from sombre, heavy-footed brewery horses to skittish, highly valuable racehorses who could explode into a nervous rage at any moment.”
The man nodded his understanding. “They can hurt themselves when they spook, can’t they?”
“And me. I’m talking from experience, here, mind. I’ve had enough kicks up the backside to last me a lifetime. Sometimes a nervous horse can turn you as vulnerable as a crash-dummy. Tell your grandson that, and then see if he still wants to come.”
Joe was chatting to a farmer who’d been one of his customers for years about the merits of one vet over another when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to face a man he thought he should know, but couldn’t put a name to. The man’s squashed-in face was familiar. He was a little shorter than Joe, but blonder, and he had a red goatee. He smiled, showing long yellow teeth that would look better on a horse. What was his name?
“Bobby Shaw.” The man stuck his calloused hand out.
Joe hoped his eyes weren’t popping in surprise. The Bobby Shaw. Not from Joe’s area, certainly, but famous in the farrier world – not only because he part-owned one of the biggest thoroughbred race-horse training stables in the area, but also because he was trainer to Starlight, the champion thoroughbred steeplechaser, who’d recently romped home a good thirty yards ahead of his rivals to win the Champions Cup for the third time in a row.
“Can we talk outside?” Shaw gestured with his head at the door. “Quieter.”
“Sure.” Joe followed him out, saying, “It’s good to meet you.”
Outside, lit by the glow from the pub, Shaw licked his lips. The guy’s permanent grin was weird, Joe thought.
“Mutual,” Shaw said, finally responding to Joe’s greeting. He studied Joe’s features as if committing them to memory, and the grin made it look as if he found them amusing. “Looks like you’ve built up a good network here,” Shaw remarked.
“Can’t complain.”
“When I walked into the pub tonight I only came in for a quiet drink. Didn’t know I’d get to meet a farrier. I’d never heard of you before, but I’ve spoken to a couple of guys here tonight who say you’re a quiet character who likes to get on with the job. Someone who doesn’t meddle, if you get my meaning.”
Joe wasn’t sure he did get his meaning, so he kept quiet.
“Someone who can be trusted. Also hear you mainly work with farm horses but you do have some dealings with thoroughbreds.”
“Yes,” Joe admitted. “I do. Not many, but I can handle them if needs be.” He was curious. Surely this man from the country’s most famous thoroughbred racehorse training farm wasn’t going to ask him to check Starlight’s hooves?
“Thing is,” Shaw said, looking around him as if he wanted to make sure no-one could hear him. “We have a little problem.”
Joe made a sound he hoped conveyed sympathy and wondered, again, what this had to do with him.
“Grand National is coming up, and I need a farrier.”
Joe considered saying that was very careless of him, but decided against it. “I’m sorry about that. What happened to your regular one?”
Shaw shrugged. “They come and go.”
Could have been an illegal worker who took off, Joe thought. These things happened, although he’d have expected more from this stables.
“You interested in giving a hand with three horses? They’re the ones the other farrier was working with, and they’re running in the hurdles at Kempton Park next week.”
Interested? Who’d say they weren’t interested in working for the Norchester yard?
“You won’t be working with Starlight. I cater for all his needs, and these three you will be working on are rank outsiders in their next races. So nothing fancy expected of them. But,” Shaw waggled his head, “if you do a good job, keep your head down, mind your own business, you might find it worth your while.”
How could he refuse?
After they’d fixed for Joe to be at the stables in a couple of days’ time, Shaw headed for the exit, leaving Joe to ponder on the fact that if this job led to regular appointments (or, please God, a contract), then Joe’s career would rise like Starlight leaping the The Chair at Aintree racecourse.
When Joe returned on his own to the pub, the stud-farmer who’d talked about his grandson spending the day with him, came up to him. His face was grim as he said, “Saw you talking to Shaw. Just watch your back. OK?”

(The rest of the novel is set in beautiful Madeira Island - on this place (a fajã))

"Forest Dancer" is also reduced. Instead of Madeira Island, this book is set in the wooded hills just outside Lisbon, Portugal - in Sintra. 

Here's the blurb:

Work to impress, dance to express.

It’s a long way to go to create a new life for yourself.

Classical ballerina, Flora Gatehouse, has no choice but to take a risk. Having failed an important ballet audition in London, she moves to a small cottage in a forest just outside Lisbon, Portugal, her only inheritance following her father’s death. 

Soon, Flora is involved in village life, where fate takes a new twist when she becomes attracted to forest ranger, Marco. But they are off to a shaky start.

Can Flora find acceptance in a foreign land, in a magical place that harbours secrets and heartache?

The books can be found here:  mybook.to/ForestDancer1

Friday, October 26, 2018

Damned by the Ancients by Catherine Cavendish

Talented dark fantasy / thriller / horror author, Catherine Cavendish, is always welcome on my blog. I love her books - they're spooky but so well written and easy to read, even if you do keep the light on at night for a few days. I'm so happy to announce that "Damned by the Ancients" (book 3 in the series "Nemesis of the Gods") has just been launched.  You can get your copy here. (I've got mine and I'll be reviewing it soon). In the meantime, over to Catherine:

The Many Ghosts of Penrhyn Old Hall

In my novel, Damned by the Ancients, the magnificent house inhabited by the Mortimer family is haunted by the evil and long dead former owner, Dr. Emeryk Quintillus. Dead he might be, but he is certainly not resting in peace. Quintillus knows a new family has moved in and he has designs on them. Ones which will terrify and threaten their lives and souls.

Wales has a well-deserved reputation as a land of myths and legends. It is also a ghost-hunter’s paradise, with so many haunted locations to choose from. Today, I am focusing my attention on Penrhyn Old Hall near Llandudno. This is now a public house and restaurant, proud of its ghostly heritage – so much so that it holds regular paranormal evenings.

The Hall gets its first mention in 1327 although these days, most of the building dates from Tudor times. It has a number of ghosts who wander its rooms and corridors.

In a room above the Baronial Hall, a monk has been seen on a number of occasions. He also ventures out into the passage. A young girl haunts the stairway. She is a descendant of the Pugh family who owned the house in the 16th century. They were a strict Catholic family who harboured renegade priests during times of persecution of the Catholic clergy and faith. In the Tudor bar, the fireplace hides a priest hole where they would have hidden when suspicious soldiers arrived. At one point, Robert Pugh and a priest named William Davies fled for their lives to the nearby headland known as the Little Orme. They lived in a cave there and smuggled in a printing press. Here they could print Catholic literature. Their cave home was raided in 1587 but they managed to evade capture, finally being caught in Holyhead in 1592. Pugh escaped but Davies was convicted of being a Catholic priest and was hanged, drawn and quartered. Many years later, a withered hand was discovered in a hidden case at Penrhyn Old Hall. It is presumed to be that of William Davies – maybe he is the one who haunts the upstairs room?

Given such firm Catholic convictions, imagine then the family’s distress on finding out that one of the daughters wanted to marry a Protestant. Worse than that she planned to elope with him, knowing her family’s displeasure. Even worse than that. She was pregnant. Clearly she had to be stopped. Her sisters did so – by killing her. No wonder she hasn’t left.

In the seating area of the Function Room, sits a young man in a perpetually foul mood who reacts badly if disturbed, while on the dance floor is a soldier who was injured and unable to return to the war. He is not happy about it.

Beside a fireplace in the Tudor Bar, an old lady sits, then stands and ascends the stairs.

Also in residence in the restaurant, is the ghost of a mischievous boy who sprinkles salt on the tables. He is only one of a number of mischievous child spirits who like to cause a little mayhem.
A paranormal investigation revealed the presence of a woman who stated that she lived there between 1750 and 1800, having arrived at the Hall when she became pregnant. According to the investigators, she didn’t appear to realise she was dead and appeared scared of two other ghosts alleged to have been in the room with her.

Outside the Hall, a lost and shadowy figure moves about so, all in all, you get a lot of ghosts for your money at Penrhyn Old Hall. You can find out more about this amazing building here. One thing is for sure, with all this activity, you’re never alone - even if the room you are standing in appears empty.
 Thankfully it appears the ghosts of Penrhyn Old Hall are mostly benevolent and pose no threat to anyone – as long as you don’t interfere with them. The same cannot be said for Emeryk Quintillus…


Vienna, 1908

Gabriele Ziegler is a young art student who becomes infatuated with charismatic archeologist Dr. Emeryk Quintillus. Only too late does she realize his true designs on her. He is obsessed with resurrecting Cleopatra and has retained the famed artist Gustav Klimt to render Gabriele as the Queen of the Nile, using ashes from Cleopatra’s mummy mixed with the paint. The result is a lifelike portrait emitting an aura of unholy evil . . .

Vienna, 2018

The Mortimer family has moved into Quintillus’s former home, Villa Dürnstein. In its basement they find an original Klimt masterpiece—a portrait of Cleopatra art scholars never knew existed. But that’s not all that resides within the villa’s vault. Nine-year-old Heidi Mortimer tells her parents that a strange man lives there.

Quintillus’s desire to be with Cleopatra transcends death. His spirit will not rest until he has brought her back from the netherworld. Even if he has to sacrifice the soul of a child . . .

Damned by the Ancients is available from:

About the author:

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy - Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.

Her novellas include Linden Manor, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, Dark Avenging Angel, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife.

She lives with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue. Cat and her family divide their time between Liverpool and a 260-year-old haunted apartment in North Wales.

You can connect with Cat here:


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Joan Livingston's "Redneck's Revenge" Book Review and Interview


Joan Livingston, author of the fabulous Isabel Long PI series, lives in the United States. But, she told me, she has a Portuguese background. So before we get onto her new book "Redneck's Revenge", here's her article entitled "Portuguese Forever" in which she talks about herself and her lovely main character in the series, Isabel Long:

Portuguese Forever
I am a hundred percent Portuguese and proud of it. My grandparents came over on the boat, as they say, from the Madeira and Azores islands. The same is true for Isabel Long, the protagonist of my mystery series, including the latest, Redneck’s Revenge. She’s proud of her heritage as well.
Isabel was born with the last name Ferreira but took Long when she married. I used Ferreira because that’s my mother’s family name. (My father’s family name is Medeiros.)
Let me tell you a little bit about her. Isabel was a long-time journalist who lost her job as a newspaper’s managing editor when it went corporate. With time on her hands, she decided to solve a missing person’s case — her first big story as a rookie reporter. The case also happened in the tiny hilltown where Isabel lives in rural Western Massachusetts. Also, Isabel was also coming off a bad year that included the death of her husband. She was ready to reinvent herself.
Her mother, Maria Ferreira also moved in with her. Here, I’ll let Isabel tell you about it.
Ma moved in with me last year because she was tired of living alone. I was alone, too, after my Sam died. Our three kids, Ruth, Matt, and Alex, are out of the house although they don’t live too far from me. It’s worked out well with Ma. She’s a fun companion. Who would have thought when I was younger and wilder? She’s a good cook, and like the fine Portuguese woman she is, she keeps me in kale soup, a staple of our people. Yes, Long is my married name. Ferreira is the name I got at birth. I’m a hundred percent Portagee and proud that I’ve invaded a Yankee stronghold in the hilltowns.
Yes, kale soup or Caldo Verde is a staple in their household, as it is mine, at least in the cold weather months. I love other dishes when I can get them, usually when I visit my hometown.
As a child I grew up in Southeastern Massachusetts, where many Portuguese immigrants settled. They found work on the fishing boats and in the case of my mother’s parents, the textile mills. It was a huge adjustment from the rural lives they once led “back home” although both sets of grandparents kept animals and large gardens to support their families. I have fond memories of the time I spent with them.
Let me tell you about my grandmother, Angela Ferreira. She was the youngest of a large family in Madeira. Her older sister worked for a wealthy family who wanted a companion for their daughter, so my grandmother went to live with them. Every day she carried the girl’s books to school and waited in the back of the room until they went home to play. One day the teacher caught her trying to read. She got permission for my grandmother to go to school.
When my grandmother was sixteen, she and her sister went by boat to the U.S., a trip that included a huge storm in which people were swept out to sea. I admire my grandmother’s bravery.
My childhood was a mixture of celebrating our heritage, especially at local feasts, still going strong in the New Bedford area, to being as American as possible.
I will admit there is a lot of me in Isabel Long. She’s sassy and savvy. She doesn’t take crap from anybody. She’s got a good heart and cares. Plus she has that arsenal of skills she acquired as a journalist.
All of this comes in handy for her second case, in Redneck’s Revenge. A woman hires her to find out how her father, an ornery so-and-so, died. The cops say he was passed-out drunk when his house caught fire. She says he was murdered.
But before she can take any case, Isabel has some business to attend to after the cops tell her there are legal requirements if she wants to be a P.I. She’s also a bit ungrounded after solving her first case — for personal and professional reasons. Here’s an excerpt.
Mostly, I moped.
Ma noticed it, too.
“When are you going to find something to do?” she asked me one day.
“What do you mean?”
“Like when you solved that mystery.”
“You heard what the state cop said about getting a license,” I reminded her. “I need to find a licensed P.I. to take me on.”
“What’s stopping you?”
Ma had a point. I have a hard head and an iron will. I suppose I’m generalizing when I say it’s because I’m a full-blooded Portagee. But I’m descended from people who went all over the world in tiny wooden ships. My grandparents came over from the Madeira and Azores islands in them.

Yes, try stopping us.

Thank you Joan! What a lovely story about your grandmother. In the book, I just loved Isabel and her mother's wonderful relationship. Let's get onto "Redneck's Revenge". It's the second in the series - the first being "Chasing the Case" (see HERE ). 
First the summary
Her next case. She’s in it for good.

Isabel Long is in a funk months after solving her first case. Her relationship with the Rooster Bar’s owner is over. Then cops say she must work for a licensed P.I. before working solo.

Encouraged by her Watson — her 92-year-old mother  — Isabel snaps out of it by hooking up with a P.I. and finding a new case.

The official ruling is Chet Waters, an ornery so-and-so, was passed out when his house caught fire. His daughter, who inherited the junkyard, believes he was murdered. Topping the list of suspects are dangerous drug-dealing brothers, a rival junkyard owner, and an ex-husband.
Could the man’s death simply be a case of redneck’s revenge? Isabel is about to find out.


Redneck’s Revenge is a novel that will stay with you for a long time. Well, it will with me because I rank it up there with Fanny Flagg’s “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café”, one of my favourite books, and that’s not because “Redneck’s Revenge” is set in a café or that there’s any sign of green tomatoes, hell, it’s not even the same genre. It’s because of the author’s brilliant voice, the way she lets the characters jump off the page: they’re so real, quirky and unforgettable. You have rednecks galore (I hope that’s not pejorative because I adored reading about the folk of the small hilltop towns in Massachusetts – the Old Farts, the junkyard owners, the bar owners…so many) but my favourite is Isabel Long herself – a sassy, adorable, down-to-earth but take-no-prisoners type of gal (see? I picked up the lingo) who has a mother as wise and courageous as Isabel.
I was immersed in the setting, which comes alive with the characters and as the story continues. The ending was a surprise, although I did pick up a hint of it earlier in the story, but dismissed it. Very clever plot.

Joan Livingston is a professional journalist and this shows in her excellent style of writing. She’s a born fiction writer and I dearly look forward to the next Isabel Long case.

Definitely a 5 star read and thoroughly recommended.

All about Joan:

Joan Livingston Bio
 Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Redneck’s Revenge, published by Crooked Cat Books, is the second in the mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a longtime journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. The first is Chasing the Case.
 An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and most recently the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure.

After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, she returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long series.

Joan Livingston on social media:

Twitter: @joanlivingston 

Book links to Chasing the Case and Redneck’s Revenge: