Tag Archives: #blogtour

Tunes on a Penny Whistle by Doris Coates

I have received a free e-copy of the book Tunes on a Penny Whistle: A Derbyshire Childhood by Doris E Coates to review.

Tunes on a Penny Whistle by Doris Coates

Here is the book blurb.

The early 1900s were a period of great hardship for many working-class families, particularly in rural areas. However, they were also times of pride and self-sufficiency, with fun and laughter derived from simple pleasures as well as mutual support and courage when poverty could have become unbearable.

This book is a personal history of a childhood in the village of Eyam – known as the Plague Village – in the Peak District of Derbyshire. Doris recalls how her mother confronted tough living conditions without labour-saving devices and often with little or no money.

She remembers, too, her father, who fought for the right for union representation, worked for self-help groups, and organised political meetings and village entertainments. He was a talented self-taught musician, producing a wide range of music on his Canadian organ and penny whistle. His fighting spirit made him a remarkable and influential character within the village community.

Both humourous and shocking, this description of domestic and community life at the beginning of the twentieth century is illustrated with many contemporary photographs, documents, and line drawings by George Coates, the author’s husband.

This book is a biography originally published in 1983, mainly about the author’s father Harry Dawson, but also all their family life during her childhood. This new edition has been edited by Doris’s son Richard with supplemental information from ancestry databases and also includes plenty of period photos.

Doris was born in 1908 in Eyam, Derbyshire into poverty. The cottage had no plumbed water, gas or electricity. An earth closet at the far end of the garden and baths in front of the living room fire. But the family had a good quality of life despite the lack of facilities and shortage of money. Lots of foraging walks and selling teas to passing ramblers helped.

Eyam was a rural industrial village where shoe making was the main industry. Harry worked long 12 hour shifts, five and a half days a week in the shoe factory, but still found time for newspaper reporting, local temperance and friendly societies, cycling and music. The working conditions were dreadful and the pay appalling with wages at about half the national average. The union didn’t reach Eyam until 1918 when Harry was sacked on suspicion of having joined the union. He hadn’t but soon did. And of course with no income, things became even more difficult for the family. And worse still in 1922 when the shoe factory owners tried to evict the family by putting their rented cottage up for auction. But Harry went into debt and bid 3 times over its value to buy the cottage that his family had lived in for at least 3 generations.

Doris’s grandfather George Dawson was famed for his tune to “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and his musical prowess led to the family being held in high esteem locally even though they had no social status.

And Doris’s mother Margaret spearheaded the campaign to get a district nurse.

School was stressful for Doris aged 8 with physical punishments from the teacher and she was near a nervous breakdown when the school medical inspector intervened on his annual inspection. 2 months off school and then a different teacher improved the situation. He encouraged her to sit the Grammar school scholarship examination, which she passed but there was no transportation and the family couldn’t afford the boarding fees. But even so in 1926, Doris became the first non-Grammar school student to qualify for higher education at Goldsmiths’ College, London. Again money was a problem but was overcome with a loan.

Tunes on a Penny Whistle is available on Amazon, currently priced at £11.95 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format or hardback. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. A fascinating insight into the local and social history of the early twentieth century.


Here is an extract from the book to give you a flavour.

No Power to the Workers
(Chapter 7 page 93)

So it was that our district nurse arrived in 1917, a crucial time in the life of the village. Self-help and thrift had done something to ameliorate life’s perpetual difficulties, but with wartime strains, long working hours and wages in the factories barely half the national average, morale was low. When the suggestion was made that workers should join a union and fight for their rights, some were apathetic, while others saw this as the only hope of improving their conditions.

Trade unions had strengthened during the war, when there was a great demand for labour to fulfil Government contracts. The National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives (NUBSO) had achieved good conditions for workers in Northampton, Leicester and other large centres. A working week of forty-eight hours was agreed, and with wage increases and bonuses it was possible to earn 45-55s a week (£2.25–£2.75).

By 1917 the union was turning its attention to smaller centres. John Buckle was appointed organiser to recruit members in Eyam and Stoney Middleton, and to try to bring conditions in the factories up to union standards. He met with obdurate resistance from the bosses. Any worker who was suspected to joining the union was sacked instantly.

Seven firms were involved in the dispute. Four, in Stoney Middleton, all made heavy boots for men, pit boots, army boots and carters’ boots. Three factories in Eyam manufactured light shoes for women and children. They were all family firms, and the bosses were what was known as ‘little masters’ who came from the same background as most of their employees, and spoke with the same Derbyshire accent. They had no pretence to culture or education, and treated with suspicion people like my parents who were well read (through self-educated) and who were not afraid to express their opinions.

Context

Chapter 7 describes in detail the working conditions in the shoe factories in Eyam and the neighbouring village, Stoney Middleton. The author’s father, Harry, had worked in one of these for all his working life – 30 years or so.

Through the contemporary notes of the professional union organiser, this chapter describes the ultimately futile fight for union recognition and nationally agreed pay rates. Harry lost his job on suspicion of joining the union (which at that point he had not), and was never able to work again in the village again through what today would be regarded as victimisation.

2018 is the Centenary of the strike in Eyam and Stoney Middleton, and Eyam Museum is promoting events and exhibitions to commemorate it.


About the Authors

Born in Eyam in the Peak District of Derbyshire, Doris E. Coates achieved a successful and varied career as a teacher in both Derbyshire and later in Norfolk. Along with her husband George, she was an active member of her community promoting local groups, enjoyed singing in the local choir and, after retirement, turned her talents to writing. Her son, Richard Coates, now based in Bath enjoyed a happy childhood and grew up appreciating the importance of a strong education. After gaining a scholarship at Oxford University he went on to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Later as a management consultant he worked for international companies including Audi, British Airways and Mars in both the UK and oversees and continues to sit on the board of Davos Consultancy. Now retired, and in memory of his mother, Richard has decided to republish her books with fascinating new additions after researching further into his family history.


I’m participating in the book tour and you may like to check out some of the other blog stops on the tour, including my own review of Tuppenny Rice and Treacle, in which I try out the Bible Cake recipe.

Tunes on a Penny Whistle by Doris Coates

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MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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Tuppenny Rice and Treacle by Doris Coates

I have received a free e-copy of the book Tuppenny Rice and Treacle: Cottage Housekeeping 1900-1920 by Doris E Coates to review.

Tuppenny Rice and Treacle by Doris Coates

Here is the book blurb.

Feeding a family on a limited budget is always a challenge. Yet even with a budget as low as ten shillings (50p) a week in the early part of the twentieth century, it is remarkable how interesting and varied the menu could be.

This delightful book draws on recipes compiled by Doris’s mother in Derbyshire and mother-in-law in Cumberland, and contains detailed records of weekly expenditure.

It includes numerous recipes for nutritious and filling meals for working men and growing families, taking full advantage of what was available – hearty meat dishes, with lots of root vegetables, puddings and dumplings to fill them out, cakes and buns, sweets and jams, and beverages to go with them (some highly alcoholic!). The recipes work just as well now as then.

It is also full of household and cleaning hints and products, illustrating immense pride in the home, as well as medicines, lotions and potions that would ‘kill or cure’.

This book originally published in 1975, is mainly based on the recipes and notebooks of both Doris’s mother Margaret Dawson and mother-in-law Jane Coates from the period 1900 – 1920. This new edition includes additional material sourced by Doris’s son Richard Coates.

The notebooks would have included household accounts and money saving tips. And the recipes weren’t all food, they also encompassed how to make your own medicines and cleaning materials. It was very difficult for Margaret to balance the £1 budget and if she overspent one fortnight, she would have to cut back the following, as there was a family horror of debt. She supplemented the income with paying guests, teas for ramblers and piecework for the shoe factory, although this only earned 9d per dozen.

However her accounts for several years show no record of purchase of boots, shoes, major items of clothing or toiletries. Items like tinned fruit were beyond their means, but however short of money, she still had to fill the store cupboard for the winter, so there are recipes for preserves, pickles and bottled fruit. All such a fascinating insight.

Then recipes for cheap cuts of meat – rook pie for instance. Followed by substantial filling puddings, some were regional specialities like Coniston Pudding and Felixstowe Tart. And the interesting names of others like High Church Pudding and Duchess of Sutherland Pudding. Of course not missing out teatime favourites, again many are regional like Northumberland Griddle Cakes and Sledmere Gingerbread.

And I loved the fact that the teetotal family were of the opinion that potent homemade drinks were innocuous, so we see the likes of Nettle Beer and Cowslip Wine.

At least the author warns us not to try the cough mixture recipes, as I see ingredients like laudanum. And I love the household tips like how to test the heat of the oven.

Tuppenny Rice and Treacle is available on Amazon, currently priced at £11.95 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format or hardback. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. A wonderful glimpse into the early twentieth century household accounts, with plenty of recipes to browse.


And I’ve been busy trying out the Bible Cake recipe. This is not just a recipe, but a puzzle too, with the ingredients all being listed as Bible references.

Bible cake

Bible Cake

This ‘puzzle recipe’ has been known in the North of England at least from the turn of the century.

  1. ½ lb Judges 5, verse 25 (last clause)
  2. ½ lb Jeremiah 6, verse 203. 1 tbsp 1 Samuel 14, verse 25
  3. 3 of Jeremiah 17, verse 11
  4. ½ lb 1 Samuel 30, verse 12
  5. ½ lb Nahum 3, verse 12 (chopped)
  6. 2 oz Numbers 17, verse 8 (blanched and chopped)
  7. 1 lb 1 Kings 4, verse 22
  8. season to taste with 2 Chronicles 9, verse 9
  9. a pinch of Leviticus 2, verse 13
  10. 1 tsp Amos 4, verse 5
  11. 1 tbsp Judges 4, verse 19

Note: leaven means baking powder.

Beat Nos 1, 2 and 3 to a cream; add 4 one at a time, still beating; then 5, 6 and 7, and beat again; add 8, 9, 10 and 11 having previously mixed them, and lastly No 12. Bake in a slow oven for one and a half hours.

Bible cake

Here is the solution to the puzzle:

  1. She brought forth butter in a lordly dish – ½ lb butter
  2. The sweet cane from a far country (sugar) – ½ lb sugar
  3. There was honey upon the ground – 1 tbsp honey
  4. As the partridge sitteth on eggs and hatcheth them not – 3 eggs
  5. And they gave him a piece of cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins – ½ lb raisins
  6. All thy strongholds shall be like fig trees with first-ripe figs – ½ lb figs (chopped)
  7. The rod of Aaron… yielded almonds – 2 oz almonds (chopped)
  8. Soloman’s provision was… thirty measures of fine flour – 1 lb flour
  9. Spices in great abundance – Season with spices to taste
  10. Thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt – Pinch salt
  11. A sacrifice with leaven (yeast) – 1 tsp baking powder
  12. And she opened a bottle of milk – 3 tbsp milk

This made a very large quantity of mixture, so I had to split it across 2 tins, as I didn’t have a large enough tin. I followed the quantities stipulated exactly and was quite surprised how stiff the mixture was for a cake, more like the consistency of rock buns. Also I had to guess what temperature a slow oven would be. I opted for 160 degree in my fan oven but with hindsight, this may have been too high. I ended up covering the cakes with greaseproof paper after 45 minutes to avoid the outside over-cooking and took them out of the oven at 65 minutes compared to the expected 90 minutes.

However the resulting cakes were delicious. But surely ingredients like figs would have been difficult to source in Margaret’s time, so I imagine this would have been a cake for a special occasion in those days.

Bible cake


About the Authors

Born in Eyam in the Peak District of Derbyshire, Doris E. Coates achieved a successful and varied career as a teacher in both Derbyshire and later in Norfolk. Along with her husband George, she was an active member of her community promoting local groups, enjoyed singing in the local choir and, after retirement, turned her talents to writing. Her son, Richard Coates, now based in Bath enjoyed a happy childhood and grew up appreciating the importance of a strong education. After gaining a scholarship at Oxford University he went on to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics. Later as a management consultant he worked for international companies including Audi, British Airways and Mars in both the UK and oversees and continues to sit on the board of Davos Consultancy. Now retired, and in memory of his mother, Richard has decided to republish her books with fascinating new additions after researching further into his family history.


I’m kicking off the book tour and you may like to check out some of the other blog stops on the tour. I’ll be back on January 29th with my review of Tunes on a Penny Whistle.

Tunes on a Penny Whistle by Doris Coates

Visit Yet Another Blogging Mummy on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram

MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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The Prisoner’s Wife by Gerard Macdonald

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Prisoner’s Wife by Gerard Macdonald to review.

The Prisoner's Wife by Gerard Macdonald

Here is the book blurb.

From the CIA headquarters to the danger zones of Morocco and Pakistan, undercover agent Shawn Maguire is embroiled in a sinister conspiracy and an unlikely romance in this exhilarating debut spy thriller.

Shawn Maguire, unemployed American spy, has been paid to find a young Iranian now being interrogated in one of the CIA’s black prisons. The prisoner’s location remains unknown – he may be in Fes, Cairo or even Peshawar – but Shawn has every confidence that he’ll find his man eventually. Based on his time as an agent, it’s an assignment he knows he can handle. But there’s one person he’s not sure even he can handle:  the prisoner’s wife.

The Prisoner’s Wife is a political thriller ripped from today’s headlines; a tense trip through the murky worlds of state–sponsored terrorism, nuclear politics, secret American jails and lawless rendition. Conspiracies abound in this sophisticated and suspenseful novel, with its crackling dialogue and evocative, lawless landscapes. Maguire is a first-rate protagonist, complicated and heroic, and writer Gerard Macdonald does an expert job of capturing the casual ambivalence of the American intelligence officers in their rendition campaigns and keenly observes the cynical manner in which operatives prop up or depose criminal leaders depending on America’s own needs.

A pulse-pounding account of political intrigue in the Middle-East starring complex hero Shawn Maguire, The Prisoner’s Wife is the perfect next read for fans of espionage and international thrillers.

This book is mainly set in 2004, with a few flashbacks to 2000. It starts with the prisoner Osmani being abducted in Paris by CIA agents Calvin and Hassan. A few weeks later Abbasi pays suspended CIA agent Shawn to find Osmani.

Shawn begins his search by meeting Osmani’s wife Danielle whom he is attracted to. She comes back to his Sussex home, from where a game of cat and mouse with the CIA continues throughout the story, as they pair head to Morocco, Egypt and Pakistan trying to locate Osmani, whom the CIA are torturing and regularly relocating.

Danielle quizzes Shawn on his past relationships, but she is very much a closed book herself.

Plenty of conspiracies at every turn..

The Prisoner’s Wife is available on Amazon, currently priced at £3.99 in Kindle format and is also available in hardback. An interesting read.


Here is an extract from the book to whet your appetite.

Shawn shook his head. He glanced back at the bundles of notes in the summer house.

‘Serious money. How do you know I won’t take it, and run?’

‘You have many faults,’ Abbasi said. ‘I have never heard dishonesty was one of them.’ He made a comprehensive gesture, taking in house and garden. ‘Also, as they say in movies, we know where you live.’ His tone changed. ‘There is something else. When he was not riding shotgun with the Taliban, Osmani claims he was conducting an archaeological dig in Afghanistan. Excavating cellars in Ghorid ruins, somewhere on the Turquoise Mountain. Near Chist, I think. Now, whether he was doing that or not, he claims he found something of interest.’

‘Claims, how?’

‘He called me from Paris. Before your colleagues picked him up. Some time ago.’ From his diary Abbasi took a handwritten note. ‘Osmani wanted money for information. A great deal of money. There you have the phone number. The address, in the quatrieme.’ Abbasi paused. ‘I had a second call, from the same number. This time, it was his wife.’

Shawn paid attention.

‘Is that surprising?’ Abbasi asked, noting the reaction. ‘The man has a wife?’

‘It’s a lead,’ Shawn said. ‘It’s interesting. So, tell me. What’s Osmani claim he found? What does he believe you’ll pay for?’

‘A small nuclear device, a mobile device, built under the direction of Dr.. Qadir Khan. You do know of Dr.. Khan?’

Shawn said, ‘I worked on his proliferation file. He’s a problem for us.’

‘And for us, for Pakistan, a national hero.’

‘Well,’ Shawn said, ‘you got my attention. If I do take your money, where do I start?’

 

 


About the author

Author Gerard Macdonald lives in West London and is currently working on a short series of political fiction books.

Website – http://gerardmacdonald.net/


I’m participating in the book tour and you may like to check out some of the other blog stops on the tour.

The Prisoner's Wife by Gerard Macdonald

 

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MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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The Second Son by Andy Blackman

I have received a free e-copy of the book “The Second Son” by Andy Blackman to review.

The Second Son by Andy Blackman

Here is the book blurb.

As the second son of the Duke of Hampshire, Grenville St John Hampton isn’t likely to inherit his family’s title or estate, leaving him pondering an empty, aimless future. During the summer break from university, he impulsively decides to go backpacking with one of his oldest friends, Johnathan; their destination is Belize.

One sultry night on the Central American coastline, Grenville and Jonathan meet Tom. A game of darts takes a vicious turn. Realising he has nothing to look forward to back at home, Grenville decides to stay on in Belize with Tom, in pursuit of adventure. Together, the new friends establish an import business, and for the first time in his life, Grenville has a sense of purpose.

But back in England all is not well. The sudden death of his brother leaves Grenville with an unexpected – and now unwanted – inheritance, with new consequences and responsibilities. He will return to claim the family’s seat with a dark secret in tow.

I couldn’t wait to start reading this, as I really enjoyed Andy Blackman’s first novel “For the Love of Grace” and could immediately tell from the blurb, that it was a sequel.

I was most impressed how well this story linked in with the original but equally would work very well as a stand-alone book too. In fact, I can say it is the best book I have read in a long while.

The book starts when Grenville has just finished his first year at Cambridge University, but then to set the scene, goes back to his school days at Rayleigh School, where he met his 2 best friends Hugo and Jonathan. We also see his poor relationship with his older brother Stephan and Stephen’s friend Dexter Simon-Smyth.

Grenville and Jonathan head to Belize for the summer backpacking and this is where the story starts interacting with the previous novel. Tom rescues them when Grenville is stabbed in a bar for winning a darts match against the locals. Jonathan flies home but Grenville decides to remain in Belize with Tom where he learns Tom’s unorthodox way of life.

Meanwhile 5 years later back in England, Grenville’s brother Stephen dies in a car crash, whilst fiancée Sara escapes with scrapes and bruises. Jonathan writes to Grenville care of Tom’s PO Box, to pass on his parents request that he return home, with a reminder of the family motto “Duty before honour”.

Grenville returns but continues assisting Tom from afar in their secret dealings, registering Tom’s import business in the UK. He also finds the family estate in dire straits. I can’t say too much more for fear of spoilers, but he reunites with both Jonathan and Hugo, plus forms new relationships. Loads of twists and turns before Tom arrives in London for plenty more interaction with the first story.

The Second Son is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. I loved this story and highly recommend it. A real page turner.


Here is an extract from the book to whet your appetite.

This is where Grenville first meets the two boys who are going to be his closest friends, and later in life help him to achieve his secret with Tom.

Grenville moved towards the waving boy, and as he approached another boy asked him his name, Grenville replied, and the boy told him to stand with the other five boys already there. As Grenville approached, one of the boys smiled and said, “Hi I am Jonathan Spencer,” holding out his hand.

Grenville took the offered hand, and said, “Grenville Hampton, pleased to meet you,” and smiled for the first time since his arrival. Another boy introduced himself as Hugo Thorpe, and the three started to chat while they waited. Eventually there were eight boys standing in the huddle.

The boy with the blue hanky said, “follow me to the Walpole House, where we will meet Mr Raymond, the Walpole House Master.”

Turning, the boy smartly took off followed by the eight boys. Eventually they arrived at Walpole House, and were told to take a seat in the common room and wait for Mr Raymond. Mr Raymond eventually stepped into the middle of the common room and looked about at the eight boys and said, “Welcome to Walpole House, this will be your house and home whilst you are at Raleigh School, until you leave for future endeavours. I am Mr Raymond, the House Master of Walpole House. I am your first point of contact, if you have any problems or concerns whilst you are at Raleigh School or Walpole House, do not hesitate to contact me or if you require my assistance anytime night or day, my house is next door, please do not hesitate to knock. If I am not about, my wife Margret will know where I am at all times.” Smiling, Mr Raymond asked if there were any questions, all eight heads nodded in unison. Mr Raymond went on, “I know for most of you this is the first time you have ever been away from home and all this seems very daunting to you, but I know in a few days this place will seem like home as well.

“In your white envelopes that you are all clutching are the School and House Rules, plus your timetables for your days, evenings and weekends. We at Raleigh School and especially Walpole House expect great things from you freshman boys and I no doubt have the greatest faith in all your abilities to make Rayleigh School and Walpole House proud. That is all for now, I will get Graves here to take you to your new dormitory where your luggage has been delivered, so you can unpack and settle in for the night. I shall meet you all back in here tomorrow morning after breakfast. Graves will be with you in the morning to escort you to the Walpole Dining Hall for breakfast and give you a quick tour of Walpole House, so I will see you all tomorrow morning. Any questions?” And before anyone had a chance to answer, Mr Raymond strolled out of the common room.

Graves stood and said, “Follow me.” Leading the boys up three flights of stairs to the top floor, he opened a door onto eight beds with eight lockers; four on each side of the room. At the bottom was a washroom. “Find a bed and I will see you all at seven in the morning for breakfast,” said Graves before he closed the door on them.

Grenville took the last bed on the right near the washroom; Jonathan took the one next to him and Hugo the one opposite. The room was totally silent as the boys located their luggage from the assembled pile in the middle of the room. Eventually they all started to unpack and placed all their belongings into the lockers and small bedside cabinets. After a time, Grenville lay on his bed and thought of home and his grandfather, but before he had time to wallow, Hugo had come over and said, “Grenville, my dear chap, got any scoff, I am bloody well starving.”

Grenville started to laugh, and that seemed to break the tension in the room and before long, on the table in the middle of the room, a feast had been laid out of all the food the boys had brought with them, and they were all chatting and getting to know each other.


About Andy Blackman

After serving in the British Army for over twenty-five years in the Parachute Regiment, Andy Blackman today lives in Bedworth, Warwickshire and works within the IT sector. In his spare time he can be found visiting his three daughters and grandchildren. His previous novel, For the Love of Grace, was published in 2016.


I’m participating in the book tour and you may like to check out some of the other blog stops on the tour.

The Second Son by Andy Blackman

Visit Yet Another Blogging Mummy on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram

MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

The Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas to review.

The Watcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas

Here is the book blurb.

It’s 1949 when Netta’s father Max is released from a Siberian POW camp and returns to his home in occupied Germany. But he is not the man the little girl is expecting – the brave, handsome doctor her mother Erika told her stories of. Erika too struggles to reconcile this withdrawn, volatile figure with the husband she knew and loved before, and, as she strives to break through the wall Max has built around himself, Netta is both frightened and jealous of this interloper in the previously cosy household she shared with her mother and doting grandparents. Now, if family life isn’t tough enough, it is about to get even tougher, when a murder sparks a police investigation, which begins to unearth dark secrets they all hoped had been forgotten.

I found this book quite confusing as the timeline kept swapping between nightmare flashbacks to when Max was imprisoned at a POW camp in Siberia and current 1949 occupied Germany described mainly from Max’s young daughter Netta’s viewpoint.

It is a full household with Max, his wife Erika, Netta, Max’s parents Martha and Karl, invalid Tante Bertel and servant Karin. Things get even more complicated as Karin is dating Roderick, who the reader has already learnt had an affair with Erika whilst Max was a POW. Martha knows about this and warns Karin she will lose her job if she doesn’t stop seeing Roderick.

The reader discovers that Netta seems to have an eating disorder, although her family seem unaware. And she tells her father that someone has been watching her. She also has a bad cough due to pollution. Her parents are just deciding to send her away to the seaside where the air will be better, when police arrive. There has been a murder. Are some of them suspects?

There are more characters to meet including some from Max’s time at the POW camp, but I’m going to stop now as I don’t wish to reveal who was murdered. This happened quite near the start of the story, but as I said before I found it all quite confusing.

The Watcher is available on Amazon, currently priced at £8.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A challenging read and not one that I hugely enjoyed, although okay.

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MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

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Hit by P S Bridge

I have received a free e-copy of the book Hit by P S Bridge to review.

Hit by P S Bridge

Here is the book blurb.

A terrorist threat, a sinister organisation, and a threat to the security of the free world.
Renowned British lawyer and Sandhurst military academy dropout, Mark Lucas King is assigned the case of his career: to prosecute known terrorist Mohammed Al-Azidi.
All King wants is justice and to do his job successfully. But his peaceful life is shattered when a team of merciless hitmen targets him and his family and the court case collapses. Framed for assault and suspected of his wife’s murder, King must leave his legal career behind and go back to his old career as a British Army sniper in order to catch those responsible and hold them to account. Mark King’s brand of justice doesn’t involve a court room.
Forced to battle against highly trained hitmen to clear his name, King discovers that a sinister organisation known as Invictus Advoca is operating behind the scenes. What is their connection to him and the Al-Azidi case?
As the hunt for those responsible takes him far across Europe, can Mark unravel the mysteries that shroud this secretive organisation and peel back the layers to discover why he and his family have found themselves the target of professional hitmen?
Time is not on Mark King’s side as he races to prevent a global terror threat, discover who killed his wife, and find out who wants him dead, and why.

Mark King is presenting the case for the prosecution of terrorist Mohammed Al-Azidi for the murder of Richard Wilkinson, who sacrificed his life to prevent a mass terrorist atrocity. However Mark has received mysterious phone calls, threatening him if he doesn’t drop the case. Meanwhile Marie, his wife keeps seeing a strange car with smoked windows parked outside their home. Also Ian Hawking, one of the journalists, who has been heckling Mark for years, turns up at their house.

Mark asks the car driver, Roman Vose what he is doing there and instead finds himself framed for assault, by Roman and his accomplice, with Ian snapping photos. Mark’s boss, Hugo suspends him and he heads to the shooting range to cool down. But worse is to follow when he gets home and finds Marie has been murdered. Mark is a suspect.

After Marie’s funeral, Mark sets off on a personal mission to try to find the hitmen and whoever is paying them and to find out what is the link with the Al-Azidi case. Plenty of exciting twists and turns as the hunt leads him across Europe.

Hit is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A great story that kept me on the edge of my seat which I highly recommend.


I’m participating in the blogtour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts.

Hit by P S Bridge - #blogtour

Visit Yet Another Blogging Mummy on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram

MamaMummyMum

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

After The Texans by Declan Milling

I have received a free e-copy of the book “After The Texans” by Declan Milling to review. To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

After The Texans by Declan Millin

Here is the book blurb.

Having exposed the corrupt government in Papua New Guinea, the UN’s carbon market watchdog is riding high. But Emil Pfeffer, its head of market integrity, is in meltdown. The UN investigation has been shelved and his girlfriend, Johanna, has been kidnapped as insurance that his inquiries will go no further. 

Wracked by guilt and desperate to find her, Emil finds himself thrust into the high-stakes battle being waged for control of the world’s remaining fossil fuel resources. 

It’s economic war for hegemony over the future of global energy, being played out against a backdrop of Australian domestic politics, where coal mining and the Great Barrier Reef are locked in a fight to the death.

After The Texans is the second novel in the Carbon Black series.

I found this book very difficult to get into which I put down to it being book 2 in a series for which I haven’t read book 1, although I had been advised that it could be read as a stand-alone book. The first bit I actually enjoyed wasn’t until chapter 4 when Emil followed Lesley home as he was hoping she might help him locate her ex-husband, Rodger Beckwith, (shortly before the extract below). Lesley gives him an address but before he can visit, his boss sends him to Hong Kong to assist an Australian legal team. There by chance he spots another person he wanted to find, Geoffrey. Cue more following but Emil loses him in the crowd. Since there is an Interpol notice out on Geoffrey. Emil reports it to Tang at the Hong Kong police. Meanwhile Ms Cheng, one of the opposing legal team delivers him a mysterious package containing a disk. Emil is sickened by what he sees on the disk, but he does recognise Mr Law, the chairman presiding over the legal case he is involved with.

Cheng disappears and Tang questions Emil about it however he doesn’t reveal about the disk. He returns to his hotel where he finds his room has been ransacked. The police find Cheng dead and request Emil to remain in Hong Kong. Meanwhile Emil takes the bull by the horns and accuses Mr Law of child rape and then follows him. However he gets caught himself and dumped into a garbage truck and from there into the waste tip. Luckily someone spots and rescues him.

He goes back to the same apartment block again, but this time gets taken into police custody, where he has to hand the disk over this time. Tang takes him to see Zhong from Beijing, who does a deal with him to go to Australia to find out what he can about Beckwith, otherwise face imprisonment in Hong Kong for possession of the offensive material on the disk. I’ll leave you to read what happens next in Australia.

I think I need to go back and read book 1 as this story didn’t really flow for me, especially any meeting discussions which truth be told I found yawn worthy, although there were other parts that I enjoyed a lot. And it ends with the feeling that I also need to read book 3 to piece everything together.

So a mixed response from me, but if you like the sound of it, this book can be purchased via Amazon.


Here is an extract from the book for you to read.

Emil, the main character, has been sent to London by his boss to attend a conference in her place. He has a chance encounter with Lesley Beckwith who might be able to give him a lead to help him find his kidnapped girlfriend, Johanna. But they’ve both had a few drinks after the conference, and things start going in an unexpected direction.

She was looking Emil directly in the eye. Her own big, dreamy, brown eyes now slightly glassy.

“It was only by chance, I found out why he was away so much. He was screwing her. His assistant. Another bloody Swiss. Now I don’t even have the kids with me.”

Having followed Lesley Beckwith with the intent of getting her to talk about her husband, Emil found all he wanted to do now was get her off the topic.

“My girlfriend has disappeared, so I’m alone as well.” That didn’t come out the right way, he thought, having said it. “What I mean is, she took a flight from Papua New Guinea to Frankfurt, but without any explanation, got off at Singapore. Nobody’s heard from her since.”

“Maybe it was for someone else.”

“Yes, that’s a possibility, I suppose.” He paused, thinking. “But there’s nothing to suggest that …” his voice trailed off as he remembered, with a sudden uneasiness, what Robert had told him. She’d been on the same flight as Gerry Johnstone. And he’d been booked only as far as Singapore.

“People often do things you don’t expect they would. It’s the little signs, changes that you don’t notice, don’t pick up on. I didn’t notice, until it was way too late. Even then, it was only because he slipped up.”

“I think she might have been kidnapped … by the people who were financing your husband’s bank …”

He looked at her and, in his increasingly wine-befuddled mind, got the feeling that she was looking at him somehow differently.

“Why do you think my husband would leave me for another woman? Don’t you think I’m attractive, Emil?”

“I think you’re, er, quite beautiful, actually.”

Wrong answer! He knew, as soon as he’d said it.

“Do you think I’m sexy?”

“Well, er, yes, but…”

“Don’t you think men would want to fuck me?”

The word hit him like a punch, a king hit, knocking him off whatever remaining balance he had. She’d moved closer to him on the sofa. With a surprise, he felt her hand was on his knee.

“I think half the men in the firm would. But they’d just do it so they could boast to their friends. The rest of them are gay.”

“I, I …”

“Do you want to fuck me, Emil? Is that, really, why you followed me?”


About Declan Milling

Declan Milling has over thirty years experience as an environmental lawyer. Born in Australia,he holds degrees in science and law and a masters degree in environmental law. Currently based in the United Kingdom, Milling divides his time between London and Edinburgh. His first novel, Carbon Black, was released in 2014.


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After The Texans by Declan Milling

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

Spotlight on Preceded By Chaos

I haven’t read this book but today I have a Spotlight on the graphic novel Preceded By Chaos, vol 0 written by the author M Wheeler to share with my followers.

Preceded By Chaos

Here is the book blurb.

…Preceded by Chaos is an illustrated short story. The protagonist, Mitchell Weaver, is a young Emergency Medicine doctor. Mitchell has entered a high stress, distinguished profession with the burden of a variety of particularly disturbing personal demons that he must battle every day in order to maintain the façade of sanity and control. The initial instalment of the series, Volume 0, introduces the reader to Mitchell at a point in his life where he has begun to realize that many of his prior indulgences and deficits are no longer compatible with his current life of responsibility.


“…Preceded by Chaos, Vol. 0” is an illustrated short story. Why an illustrated short story? Well I would attribute that and, in many respects my writing style to my mother. She is neither an author nor an editor but she possibly embodies the single most influential impact on my writing style. You see, I love her immensely, but my mother is chaos personified. She is overtly anxious and her energy, similar to the symbol of chaos, extends in any direction at any time, with varying degrees, and without warning or notice. Like many children, I always had some element of misdirected resentment towards my mother for the less desirable personality traits that I inherited from her, until I understood how to own them and make them work for me. Two examples that stand out most to me are our short attention spans and our ability to find drama in the mundane and the mundane within the drama. In addition to these traits providing me with a perfect temperament for the fast pace and stress of Emergency Medicine they have also defined my writing style. For those scarce on time and attention, my stories are short and designed to keep you engaged for a quick flight, a lunch break or the short break that life offers while the kids are at karate. Like the varying energies of mom, my short stories fluctuate between text and illustration to use different modes of media to stimulate the reader and move the story along. It is our shared second trait, of finding the spectacle in the silent moments, which truly make the stories work, and I hope the reader agrees. Thanks for the style mom.

As for the story itself, the protagonist, Mitchell Weaver, is a young Emergency doctor. Mitchell has entered a high stress, distinguished profession with the burden of a variety of particularly disturbing personal demons that he must battle every day in order to maintain the façade of sanity and control. This book is part of series, which has an established and finite arc. When we first meet Mitchell, in Vol. 0, he has lost much of himself during the pursuit of his calling. Through the plus books the series follows Mitchell on his journey to find his true self; while through the minus books we trace his steps backward in attempt to identify how and where exactly he lost his himself. Symbolic of the series, which details Mitchell’s soul searching journey, Volume 0 is an important place to start because it documents Mitchell’s hunt to find an old friend who Mitchell feels can help set right some of the wrongs of his past that have found their way into his present.

Although the series is about a young doctor it approaches some common societal ailments that afflict all of human kind. For me, growing up in a family that produced more criminal charges and teenaged pregnancies then college degrees, once amongst the previously unfamiliar fraternity of physicians, I never expected to find so many commonalities between the common and the hyper-intellectual. I found that issues that we as a society and deal with, either directly or indirectly, such as mental illness, drug abuse and physical abuse are not stigmas associated to a particular social status but are unfortunate attributes that burden all of mankind. In order to create this series, I’ve taken interesting, and in some cases disturbing, situations and people that I have seen during my career and I have placed them in environments that I am familiar with.

PBC is a fictional series not based on any one individual’s life but rather a collage of individual lives amalgamated into Mitchell and put on display for the reader to understand that we all suffer from the human condition.

Thank you for the opportunity to entertain you.  I truly enjoyed writing “…Preceded by Chaos.”

Please visit the website, at www.precededbychaos.com, for free multimedia content and to learn more about the series. Like us on Face Book, at Preceded By Chaos, and follow us on Twitter, at @precededbychaos.

M. Wheeler


About M Wheeler
M. Wheeler held an eclectic series of jobs – including working as a studio engineer and a teacher – before he entered medical school in his thirties. During his residency while living in New York City, he wrote his first two books which would eventually become the Preceded by Chaos series. Wheeler travels extensively for his job but currently lives in Miami.

http://precededbychaos.com/

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/precededbychaos

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/PrecededByChaos/

This book can be purchased via Amazon.


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Preceded By Chaos by M Wheele

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Disclosure.  I have not received this product.  All opinions are my own.

The Learn by Tony Halker

I have received a free e-copy of the book “The Learn” by Tony Halker to review.

The Learn by Tony Halker

Here is the book blurb.

Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.

A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior.  Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging. Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.

At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by. A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.

Although I do read historical books from time to time, the Celtic Bronze Age is an era I am not at all familiar with. There is a list of Celtic tribes at the beginning of the book along with characters and places which I found very helpful to refer to. The book is set in North Wales.

The book starts by introducing the boy Owayne and his mother Rigantona. Owayne finds a large red pearl amongst the seaweed on the beach which the Celts believe are tears of the Goddess, so Rigatona negotiates a price for the pearl with druid Merle to train Owayne for the Test and Learn, so that he may become a priest or druid.

I did find it hard to relate to the Celtic ways like taking several chapters to decide whether a round wooden frame was blasphemy against the Goddess or new knowledge to be added to the Learn.

We meet Gwen, Huw and Nial, three others like Owayne, sworn to the Learn. Owayne, Gwen and Nial team together on the Learn challenge to each make a charcoal pit.

At Beltane, a small race called Syth join in the festivities as honoured guests but one of the Iceni tribe kills a Syth girl. Her mother demands justice. A life for a life.

Owayne also learns from the Syth and has to help defend the Learn when the Iceni and Gargani attack.

Although this book is well-written, I have to say it didn’t hit the spot for me.

You may purchase this book on Amazon


Here’s an extract to give you a taster of the story.

Pages 153-154. Beltane (Calain Mai) is the festival that celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of summer, when cattle are put to higher ground and crops sown. Fires are lit, danced over, put out by the rite, then relit. Syth come in the dark to join the celebrations, jumping fires running in the shadows.

Looking carefully I see that some Syth, a high number, are not quite like us, are misshapen with joints out of place, breaks of bone that have remained distorted, some have burn marks from metal, even stumps of hand or foot where liquid metal has made hole or break, all have energy, all tumble, fight and compete, all endure, struggling to be in this celebration. Misshapen in form they can be fluid beautiful in movement and in their commitment of energy.

Noise is ramping, rising, confused, screeching shell blown air merging with voices, bangs and calls, there is constant fire jumping, more reckless, screams with pain burning embers, drunk and foolhardy try to take burning sticks and branches. Lines of jumpers men and women running at the fire from different places and angles, jostling to be next, risking meeting another over the fire, falling into its flames, all miss, blessed.


About Tony Halker

Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tec business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places. His two daughters were born in North Wales. He lives with his wife there and in Hertfordshire.

Website – http://www.tonyhalker.com/

Blog – http://www.tonyhalker.com/blog


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The Learn by Tony Halker

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I Kill by Lex Lander

Earlier this year I reviewed End As An Assassin, the first book in the Manhunter series by Lex Lander. I have now received a free e-copy of book two “I Kill” to review.

I Kill by Lex Lander

Here is the book blurb.

When she was taken from him he went after her and sealed her fate – his too

Racked by guilt over his accidental killing of a young Italian girl, contract killer André Warner has effectively retired himself from his ‘profession’ and taken to drink and other palliatives, while sinking slowly into a mire of depression.

A contract in Tangier to assassinate an Arab drug trafficker lures him out of retirement and self-pity. Soon after his arrival he encounters attractive American widow, Clair Power, and her precocious sixteen year-old daughter, Lizzy, who bears such a striking resemblance to the girl Warner killed that his waning anguish is instantly rekindled. He attempts to assuage it by embarking on a fling with Clair which brings him into conflict with a mysterious Dutchman named Rik de Bruin, who also appears to have designs on her.

The contract on the drug merchant is cancelled with no explanation given, but Warner, now seriously involved with Clair, is more relieved than disappointed. Their budding romance is not destined to blossom however. Clair disappears and Warner is landed with the role of de facto guardian to Lizzy.

In tracking down Clair, Warner crosses a line that brings him into conflict with the local police and he is deported from Tangier with a distraught Lizzy in tow. Back at his Andorra villa she slowly recovers from her mother’s disappearance and launches an assault on Warner’s good intentions. Her increasingly provocative behavior disturbs yet excites him, and when Rik de Bruin pitches up in Andorra and begins to take an interest in Lizzy too, Warner gets possessive the only way he knows.

Too late, alas, to save Lizzy from an unspeakable fate.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series so was looking forward to getting reacquainted with André again. And I wasn’t disappointed. Once again the story starts with André in retirement from his lucrative professional killer role. But he is tempted back out of the monotony of sex and drinks for a job in Tangier. He assumes a pseudonym, Alan Melville. There he meets Clair Power and daughter Lizzie. Clair is being pestered by Rik de Bruin but is only too happy to have a holiday romance with “Alan”.

De Bruin asks “Alan” to meet him at the Chico Bar to offer him a partnership in his porn movie business. All he wants in exchange is for “Alan” to cease contact with Clair and Lizzie. “Alan” turns down the offer, even with 200,000 euros included, (see extract below).

The next day “Alan” glimpses Clair and Lizzie in trouble by the roadside. Some thugs are bundling them into a car. “Alan” trys to give chase but only catches up when Lizzie jumps from the moving vehicle. “Alan” kills one of the kidnappers, but the others drive off with Clair. Meanwhile “Alan” attempts to convince the police with his version of events and then ends up with the British Consul.

“Alan” searches for de Bruin but finds he has returned to Holland. No leads. He and Lizzie are then mugged, by apparently the same gang as who kidnapped Clair. The police ask them to leave Morocco for their own safety. “Alan” attempts to take Lizzie to live with her uncle but on discovering that he is a drug addict living in squalor changes the plan and takes Lizzie home with him to Andorra.

However de Bruin tracks them down in Andorra and kidnaps Lizzie. I won’t tell you how or what happens next, but there are plenty more twists. I loved this book. A real page turner. Also it is a stand-alone story. No need to have read End As An Assassin.


Here is an extract from the book to give you a taster.

Mysterious Dutchman, Rik de Bruin, is pestering Clair and Lizzy, Warner’s new love and her daughter, and convenes a meeting to try and buy Warner off.strong>

De Bruin was holding a handkerchief to his flattened ear and hadn’t moved from the table. Beefcake slowly turned his head towards him, seeking guidance.
‘All right, all right,’ de Bruin shouted, flapping the handkerchief like a flag of surrender. ‘We let you go, Melville.’
Big of him. Being let go wasn’t enough though. I took a backward peek at the station wagon pair. They were behaving themselves, even to the extent of clasping their hands behind their necks, unasked. Arabs have a lot of respect for guns.
I beckoned de Bruin. ‘Come here. The rest of you, on your bellies.’ I repeated the instruction in French.
De Bruin stayed put. The rest, taking their cue from him, stayed vertical.
I lifted the gun and ripped off a three round mini-burst, a hacking cough of gunfire. Birds erupted by the hundred from every ledge and crevice, dimming the sun and blotting out all sound with their cries. The blizzard of thrashing wings took a while to disperse. When quiet was restored I lowered the long barrel to fire a second burst, a fraction above head height. To a man, and in concert, the minions hit terra firma, and de Bruin started walking towards me, albeit on dragging heels. Amazing what a little lead slinging will do.
De Bruin stopped, leaving a metre of so of space between us. He licked his slug-like lips.
‘Two hundred thousand euros,’ he said. ‘I will give two hundred thousand. A hundred and fifty now, the rest later today.’
‘You never give up, do you?’
I went up to him, and we stood there, a foot apart, breathing hard, glaring at each other. Then I lashed him across the bridge of his nose with the gun barrel, so abruptly he had no hope of avoiding the blow, and so violently that the jolt travelled all the way to my shoulder. A shout of pain, a gush of blood, and he fell to his knees in the gravel.
I stepped away from him, panting a little.
‘Let that be the end of it, de Bruin.’

I Kill is available on Amazon, currently priced at £3.49 on Kindle and is published by Kaybec Publishing. I loved it and highly recommend it, Looking forward to the third book in the Manhunter series.


About Lex Lander

British-born thriller writer Lex Lander was raised in France, earned his degree in French and Italian in New Zealand and currently lives in Montreal. Lander is the author of political thriller ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER JACKAL, published by Kaybec in 2013. Vol III in the series, THE MAN WHO HUNTED HIMSELF, will be published by Kaybec in the autumn. The first two volumes in the André Warner series, END AS AN ASSASSIN and I KILL by Lex Lander (published by Kaybec 1st May 2016) are available to buy online from retailers including amazon.co.uk. and all good bookstores including WHSmiths.

I’m participating in the book tour and you may like to check out some of the other blog stops on the tour.

I Kill by Lex Lander

And you can read a guest post by Lex Lander that I published previously on his inspiration for the Andre Warner series here.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.