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Spring Reading Week – Addicted to Death by Matthew Redford

I have received a free e-copy of the book Addicted to Death: A Food Related Crime Investigation by Matthew Redford to review, as part of Clink Street Publishing’s #SpringReads Week.

Addicted to Death by Matthew Redford

Here is the book blurb.

Following the murder of Benedict and Darcy Blacktail, two eggs savagely beaten to death outside their home by an unknown, fedora wearing assailant brandishing a large metal spoon, Detective Inspector Willie Wortel, carrot and the leading food detective in the police force, is called in to investigate. When the only food sapiens minister in the Government, Professor Perry Partridge, is murdered at the Strawberry Strip Club, run by the young damson Victoria Plum, DI Wortel suspects that the two cases may somehow be linked. As the Head of the Food Related Crime Division, DI Wortel is ably assisted by his human colleague Sergeant Dorothy Knox. But as their investigation begins, four celebrity chefs are sent death threats. It’s a recipe for disaster as the incarcerated evil genius MadCow McBeef is seeking parole; someone appears to have crumbled Mr Bramley’s apples; and there is an anti-GM food protestor on the prowl. And why do Oranges and Lemons think they owe someone five farthings? DI Wortel and his team must find out who is seemingly addicted to death. It will take all efforts – human, fruit and vegetable – to figure this one out.

This story is crazily silly with half the characters being foods. Most have corny names too based on real-life celebrities, like footballer Wayne Rooster, a potato who plays for Breadenham Hotspuds or pop icon Curly Kale Minogue, plus a smattering of references to well-known nursery rhymes. If you can ignore the corniness and concentrate, the plot is actually quite good.

The book begins with two eggs, Benedict and Darcy Blacktail being murdered with a spoon on their doorstep, as they returned home from a night at the theatre. The Detective Inspector investigating the crime is Willie Wortel, a carrot. Another murder follows, that of government minister for DAFaRT (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Trade), Professor Perry Partridge, a pear. Initial chief suspect is Alex Pine, an anti-GM food protestor. And then Victoria Plum who discovered the dead Perry Partridge, goes missing. Meanwhile four celebrity chefs are sent death threats, so DI Wortel goes to meet the chefs.

Wortel gets lumbered with two new team members, Oranges and Lemons, who tend to mostly be more of a liability than an asset. He also keeps receiving foreign texts, which he ignores as he doesn’t understand them. Looks like a cue for the next story.

Addicted to Death is Matthew Redford’s debut novel and is available on Amazon, currently priced at £8.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. and is published by Clink Street Publishing. I usually love food related stories, but this one was just too over the top for me with all the silliness. Even though it had a good plot, I think I’ll be giving his next book “Who Killed The Mince Spy” which also features DI Wortel, a miss.


Here is an extract from the book for you to read.
Detective Inspector Willie Wortel, carrot and head of the Food Related Crime Team is trying to find out who is sending death threats to celebrity chefs, when a chocolate bomb cake is placed at Goodeatery, the restaurant of famous chef, Scottie Rodgers.

A startled Wortel was pushed aside by Scottie Rodgers who bounded towards the restaurant at full speed. Wortel turned and started to run after the celebrity chef who was surprisingly fleet of foot. When Wortel caught up with Rodgers he was already at the site of the bomb, spatula in one hand, whipped cream being vigorously shaken in the other.

The timer read 2:15.

Rodgers spoke first without looking up.

“It’s more complex than I thought Wortel. This wiring is intertwined, one wrong swish of this spatula and we’re goners. Take the whipped cream and keep shaking it. I’m going to cut a wire and then you need to spray that cream on it quick. That’ll prevent the bomb from detonating accidently.”

Wortel looked unconvinced.

“Trust me.”

Wortel took the whipped cream and carried on shaking the can as Rodgers separated the wires using the spatula.

The timer read 1:45.

“Blast,” said Rodgers, “oh sorry, wrong word at this time I guess.”

“What’s wrong?”

“If I cut the blue wire, that’ll trip the green wire. And if I cut the green wire that’ll trip the red wire.”

“So cut the red wire first then.”

“My god, I know you’re a carrot but are you just plain raving bonkers? Cutting the red wire is suicide.”

“Then what?”

“We need to divert the red wire and make the bomb think it’s still connected before I cut it. Don’t you see?”

“Actually no, and you’re talking about the bomb as though it has a brain and can think for itself.”

Rodgers looked quite disappointedly at Wortel. “You really know nothing about bombs do you. Of course they can think for themselves once armed. That’s why we have to trick it.”

“Not the time for a lecture Mr Rodgers. What do you need?”

The timer read 60 seconds.

“Something thin and wire like. Any thoughts?”

Wortel scanned the kitchen, all the time shaking the whipped cream violently in one hand. He looked across left at the suet chef’s station and saw nothing. He turned to the right and scanned the soup chef’s station and saw something which looked like salvation.

“Will noodles do?”

“Jolly good show Wortel. Yes, noodles are great.”

Wortel lunged forward and grabbed the noodles, turning in one fluid movement and throwing them to Rodgers who had briefly put down the spatula.

The timer read 30 seconds.

Rodgers grabbed plain flour from the suet chef’s station, patted some onto his hands to dry his nervous sweaty palms, and went to work. Wortel moved to his side and looked on as the celebrity chef who held a degree in physics and engineering began to trick the bomb into thinking it still had a red wire, which was now nothing more than a noodle.

The time timer read 15 seconds.

Rodgers put down the noodles and raised the spatula. “I have to say DI Wortel that it’s been a pleasure. Do you think we’ve enough time to take a selfie?”

“Not now Mr Rodgers.”

“Fair point. It’s now or never old bean.”

The timer read 7 seconds.

“Mr Rodgers.”

“Yes.”

“Cut that wire – FAST.”

The spatula came down and swiped through the wires, red followed by blue followed by green. As the wires were separated Wortel sprayed the whipped cream covering the bomb in a coating of white froth.

The timer came to a stop with just two seconds remaining.


About the author

Born in 1980, Matthew Redford grew up with his parents and elder brother on a council estate in Bermondsey, south-east London. He now lives in Longfield, Kent, takes masochistic pleasure in watching his favourite football team snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, is a keen chess player and is planning future food related crime novels. To counterbalance the quirkiness of his crime fiction Redford is an accountant. His unconventional debut crime thriller, Addicted to Death: A Food Related Crime Investigation was published by Clink Street Publishing last summer.

Website – http://www.matthewredford.com/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/matthew_redford


I’m participating in the Clink Street Spring Reading Week book tour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts, which cover a wide range of reading tastes.

Spring Reads Blogival Calendar

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

The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne to review.

The Horse's Arse by Laura Gascoigne

Here is the book blurb.

Patrick Phelan is an ageing artist who has never made it big but who somehow manages to live on air in a North London suburb.

When not running art classes for amateurs, Patrick wrestles in the shed at the bottom of his garden with his life’s work: a series of visionary canvases of The Seven Seals.

When his wheeler-dealer son Marty turns up with a commission from a rich client for some copies of paintings by modern masters, Phelan reluctantly agrees; it means money for his ex-wife Moira. However the deal with Marty is, typically, not what it seems.

What follows is a complex chain of events involving fakery, fraud, kidnapping, murder, the Russian Mafia and a cast of dubious art world characters. A contemporary spin on Joyce Cary’s classic satire The Horse’s Mouth, The Horse’s Arse by Laura Gascoigne is a crime thriller-cum-comic-fable that poses the serious question: where does art go from here?

Although enjoyable, I found the first few chapters very disjointed as the scene gets set. The book starts with Pat in the shed at the bottom of his garden, painting a copy of a Degas. We then meet Pat’s son Martin with art dealer James Duval who is researching for a lost painting. Pat also teaches an amateur art class called the Blue Orangers in his shed. What a lovely name. Pat then earns another £3000 copying a Derain in between working on his own series The Seven Seals.

There were lots of other characters to come to grips with from the art world and I kept getting confused. Gallery directors, auctioneers, art journalists, art critics, even a police art expert, etc. But the story packs a lot in besides the fake paintings – burglary, murder, kidnapping, romance between Daniel and Yasmin who are on the trail to work out what is going on.

The Horse’s Arse is available for pre-order on Amazon, currently priced at £8.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A nice story, but you do need to concentrate, as it is so busy.


An extract from Chapter XXXII of The Horse’s Arse, where art magazine editor Fay Lacey-Piggott has just discovered that her young intern Daniel Colvin has made a sensational scoop.  

“By 7pm the preview for RDV’s Boegemann sale would be in full swing, but Fay Lacey-Piggott – the woman known in the trade as Network Southeast for her dedication to social linkage – was still at her desk. The joke was unfair on Fay, who was a lot more punctual, although tonight she’d be missing the speeches and perhaps, in these times of austerity, even the champagne.

To be perfectly honest, she wasn’t that bothered. She’d seen it all where Boegemann was concerned – there were only so many shades of grey a girl could take – and any VIPs who turned up to this evening’s reception would have been at the State exhibition a few months before.

Been there, done that. So the little black dress she had collected from the dry cleaners that morning was still hanging on the back of her office door, its plastic cover bloating in the air from the fan heater she had switched on against the autumn chill.

Outside Fay’s office window it was spitting with rain. Inside, the editor’s mouse scurried over the face of her hot pink Marilyn mouse mat, whiskers twitching with unusual nervous excitement.

She’d been right about Daniel. This was dynamite. Suddenly it all made sense; the story held water. But could Marquette run it? That was the question.”


About Laura Gascoigne

Currently living in Hampstead, North London, Laura Gascoigne has worked as an art journalist for over twenty years, editing Artists & Illustrators (1994-1999) before going freelance. Laura was born in Cairo in 1950, the daughter of a bookseller and an Italian teacher, and grew up in Brussels and Cambridge before studying Classics at Oxford University. Her sister is the writer Marina Warner. Surrounded as a child by the paintings her father collected, she has always had a passion for art and when not writing about it, she paints.


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

The Horse's Arse by Laura Gascoigne

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

Guest Post: Inspiration behind Porcelain

Guest post by Lee Cockburn, author of “Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents”.

Porcelain Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

Porcelain was the name I had actually chosen for my first book, but I don’t think it would have been right for the theme of Devil’s Demise.

Re Porcelain, I’ve never liked porcelain dolls, they give me the creeps and I think they frighten adults far less children.

I wouldn’t say I was inspired to write Porcelain, I was more drawn to the unspoken topic it portrays, the silent suffering of many, the great unsaid.

So many people I have encountered, some friends and others acquaintances, and just folk you meet, have been touched by this evil brush, that scars you deep inside, but very few ever share their dark secret, a fear of releasing a truth that can never be untold, and the irreversible affect on everybody involved, and disbelief that somebody they love could be capable of things like this.

It is a harrowing topic, and as a mother if bores fear deep inside me, but creates a ferocious protector of those little ones that depend on you, they are so precious, and should be treated as such, so innocent and vulnerable.

It took me two weeks to write the beginning of the abduction scene, wondering how I could write this with minimum affect on the child, because even though this topic is hideous, I’m still a mother, and don’t want to harm children, even in writing, I don’t want to harm anyone for that matter.

My theme for all of my books will be good versus evil, harrowing topics that happen in the darkest recesses of evil minds, it may be a difficult to read some of the graphic horror, but hopefully right will defeat wrong before the end.

Enjoy the read.

Lee Cockburn

Porcelain Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

And you may read my review of Lee’s new book Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents here.

Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

I have received a free e-copy of the book Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn to review.

Porcelain Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

Here is the book blurb.

Detective Sergeant Taylor Nick is back and in charge of tracking down a sadistic vigilante, with a penchant for torturing paedophiles, in this unsettling crime thriller by a real-life police sergeant.

High-powered businessmen are turning up tortured, and traumatised, around the city of Edinburgh with one specific thing in common -a sinister double life involving pedophilia. Leaving his ‘victims’ in a disturbing state, the individual responsible calls the police and lays bare the evidence of their targets twisted misdemeanours to discover, along with a special memento of their own troubled past —a chilling calling card.

Once again heading the investigation team is Detective Sergeant Taylor Nicks, along with her partner Detective Constable Marcus Black, who are tasked not only with tracking the perpetrator down, but dealing with the unusual scenario of having to arrest the victims for their own barbarous crimes. But with the wounded piling up the predator’s thirst for revenge intensifies and Nicks soon discovers that she is no longer chasing down a sinister attacker but a deadly serial killer.

Inspired by her vast professional experience as a police officer both on the beat and in specialist riot squads in Edinburgh, Porcelain is the second in Lee Cockburn’s DS Taylor Nick’s series.

This book Is very dark. It starts 22 years ago with very young twins Amy and Nathan being abused by their mother and her boyfriend. We then fast forward to the current day to see the police investigating a series of crimes where paedophiles are tortured. And we also follow the investigating officers’ personal lives, which includes explicit lesbian sex scenes. We meet both Amy and Nathan again, who are still troubled by their past.

By chance Amy and Nathan find each other after being separated when they were taken into care. Then a paedophile is murdered rather than tortured. Next a young boy is abducted – it is the son of DC Marcus Black. Can he be found in time? And who is targeting the paedophiles?

Each time a porcelain doll is left at the crime scene. I found this really spooky as I was always scared as a child by the two china dolls that had belonged to my mum and now lived on the bottom shelf of my toy cupboard. I deliberately wouldn’t put any of my toys in there to avoid looking at them.

I won’t say any more about the storyline. but I did sometimes get confused as to whether I was reading about Nathan or Amy.

Porcelain: Flesh of Innocents is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A dark story which is definitely worth a read if you can handle the subject matter.

This book is recommended for adult readers only, due to its graphic content.


About Lee Cockburn

Lee Cockburn has worked for Police Scotland for sixteen years including as a police sergeant in Edinburgh for seven years and also as a public order officer. Before joining the force, she played for Scotland Women’s rugby team for fifteen years, earning over eighty caps for the Scottish ladies and British Lionesses teams. She also swam competitively for twelve years, successfully representing Edinburgh at the age of fifteen in the youth Olympics in Denmark in 1984. Lee lives in Edinburgh with her civil partner Emily and their two young sons Jamie and Harry. Her first book Devil’s Demise was published by Clink Street Publishing November 2014.

Follow Lee Cockburn on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lee_leecockburn


Porcelain Flesh of Innocents by Lee Cockburn

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

And you may see a guest post by Lee, detailing her Inspiration for the book on my blog 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.

The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt to review.

The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt

Here is the book blurb.

Tragedy and comedy in perfect proportion.

Kim and Flow are the best of friends, living on a council estate, making money selling drugs.

Just around the corner in a smarter part of Fulham is Clea, a well-heeled young woman coping with a violent home life at the hands of her twisted step-father.
The Principal runs a famous college for problem teens. Fostering guilty secrets which distance her from her own children, she resists the advances of a man she sees on the train every day.

When Kim and Clea meet by chance, Kim is smitten but worried about her. Using the anecdote of the frog theory – that it will jump straight out of boiling water and live, but stay in and die if heated slowly from cold – he wakes her up to the dangerous situation she’s in at home.

Serendipity and a cake-fuelled food fight that goes viral will bring Kim, Clea, Flow and The Principal together in weird and wonderful ways in this frenetic, laugh-out-loud story about love, conscience and lion-hearted nerve.

The book starts by introducing the four main characters – Kim, Clate, the principal and Flow. Kim and Flow who live on a council estate in Fulham are best friends, but none of the others have crossed paths yet. Middle-class 18yr old Clate has a violent step-father Hugo and is still at school. We never get to know the name of the principal, but she is a single mother, who is principal at one of the roughest colleges in London.

Clate is grounded but is allowed to go to cleaner Maureen’s 70th birthday. There she meets Kim and Maureen’s grandson Flow. Shortly afterwards when Clate with a split lip, coutesy of Hugo, bumps into Flow, he invites her to go out with them next Friday. However Flow had “forgotten” that it was his and Jackie’s engagement dinner, so asks Kim to go round and let Clate know.

Clate opens up about her home life to Kim and questions herself as to why she doesn’t leave. Kim tells her it is “The Frog Theory” – when you put a frog in boiling water, it jumps out and lives, but if you put it in cold water, then gently heat up, it stays in and dies. They talk for hours and then Clate asks Kim to kiss her, but he is too loyal to Flow.

Shortly afterwards Clate inherits a large sum of money from her biological father. She reverts from her nickname Clate back to her real name Clea and plucks up courage to leave home. Meanwhile Kim has realised that Flow is staying with girlfriend Jackie, so as he doesn’t have Clate’s number, he leaves a note in a beer bottle, hidden in the ivy outside Clate’s bedroom window, not realising she has already left.

Kim’s probation officer suggests he apply for college, and this is how we are introduced to the principal, when he signs up for a business planning course. He and Flow set up their own business.

There is lots more to come in the story, such as how does the principal feature and Flow bumping into Clea when she returns to England and asking her to join him and Kim for dinner. But I shall say no more.

The Frog Theory will be published on 14th February and is available for pre-order on Amazon, currently priced at £6.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A great story which I highly recommend.


Here is an extract from the book for you to read.
Excerpt from The PartyThe moment Kim sees Clea for the first time, known for the moment by her nickname, Clate.

Kim looked Clate up and down. She was medium height and dying of embarrassment. She had long, blondish hair, which was covering most of her face, and she was wearing a shapeless dress, which didn’t give any clue as to what her future might be like.
‘You look like Cousin Itt off The Munsters under all that hair,’ said Kim, as an ill-chosen icebreaker.
‘I think you’ll find that Cousin Itt featured in The Addams Family, actually,’ she replied tartly.
La di da! Thought Kim, Jackie and Flow simultaneously.
‘He was only kidding,’ said Flow, trying to save the day ‘Can I get you a drink?’
‘Sauvignon blanc, please,’ said Clate, without thinking much. It was the only white wine she had heard of.
‘Errrrr…’ said Flow, exchanging glances with Kim. ‘I’m not sure they’ll feature any of that at this bar! It’s a white wine, isn’t it?’
‘Actually, I’ll have whatever you’re drinking,’ she said, eager to get the attention away from herself as soon as possible.
‘A pint of lager?’
‘No… not that…’ She looked at Jackie’s drink. ‘What are you drinking?’ she asked shyly, in a glazed millisecond taking in Jackie’s dark good looks and beautifully fitted top and skirt combo, complementing her curly, compact figure. Her bra strap was showing and it was red. Clate had never owned red underwear.
‘Vodka and lemonade,’ said Jackie, still looking her up and down.
‘I’ll have one of those, then,’ she said, going red again as Flow beckoned for the barman.
They stood in embarrassed silence and Clate stared downwards at Jackie’s shapely legs, black strappy high sandals wrapped around neat feet sporting immaculately polished red toenails, Flow’s well-worn trainers that looked loved and comfortable below some sort of dark trousers.
‘So… What brings you here?’ said Jackie at last. Clate look up, flicking her hair out of her face.
Kim couldn’t work out whether she was beautiful or ugly; she had the kind of looks that needed a second opinion.


About the author

After attending school for model-making, Mordaunt started Image Casting in 1998, specialising in customised body castings. Over the course of 13 years, she worked on such films as Atonement and The Wildest Dream, as well as for personal clients like Lionel Richie. In 2012, she relocated to Botswana with her husband and daughter where she currently resides.

http://www.fionamordaunt.com/


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

The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt

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

Taste of the French Caribbean by Chef Denis

I have received a free copy of the recipe book Taste of the French Caribbean by Chef Denis Rosembert to review.

Taste of the French Caribbean by Chef Denis

This is what it says on the back cover.

Stir up an authentic taste of the Caribbean at home with Chef Denis Rosembert’s first ever cookbook. The St Lucia born restauranteur lovingly curates his favourite dishes — from delicious jerk chicken to spicy mutton curry and sweet golden apple cake — for you to recreate, bringing the unique flavours and exotic aromas of the island — renowned for its seafood and exquisite chocolates — vividly to life in your own kitchen.

At his much-loved restaurant Chez Denis in Norwich, England, Denis Rosembert blends the eclectic cuisines of Africa, Europe and Eastern India that combine to make St Lucian food so rich and so special. His colourful, infectious, easy-to-follow recipes are the ultimate celebration of island life, food and drink and entertaining and will soon have you inviting friends and family round to experience your own taste of the Caribbean.

Regular readers of my blog will know that I enjoy cooking, so I was very much looking forward to reading the recipes in this book and trying some out. I’ve never been to St Lucia, so I was very interested to find out the cooking style. I was certainly expecting to find seafood recipes and jerk chicken, but surprised at the lack of curried goat. Obviously it must be from a different part of the Caribbean. Interestingly there was a big section of soups which I shall definitely be dipping into. I had assumed that soups wouldn’t feature heavily in a hot climate.

Most of the ingredients can be sourced from your local supermarket, but you will need to find a specialised supplier for the more exotic like golden apples. I had wrongly assumed this just referred to the golden delicious variety of apple, but no it is a totally different fruit to the apple we know here.

I really enjoyed reading the introduction and finding out that Chef Denis started cooking at age 6, when his grandmother taught him to grill fish with green bananas on a coal pot. He still enjoys making and eating this dish today.

The book has a detailed section on sauces that are used in other recipes, but unfortunately doesn’t have an index. Also I would prefer it if every recipe had a picture.

Taste of the French Caribbean has just been published and is available on Amazon, currently priced at £25 in hardback and is also available in Kindle format. A lovely recipe book, which has certainly whet my appetite.


Mango and Coconut Flan

I have tried out the Mango and Coconut Flan recipe. This requires either golden apple or lemon curd, so I opted to use lemon, since I don’t know anywhere local to purchase golden apples. You may see how I made the lemon curd here. I found the recipe reasonably straight-forward to follow, although I would say it serves 10, rather than 4 as stated. A quarter of the flan would be an absolutely enormous portion. And I had to skip the step of placing on a cooling rack, as I barely managed to move it from baking tray to serving plate.

Mango and Coconut Flan

Click on the image below and then zoom to see a fullsize copy of this recipe as it appears in the book.

Mango and Coconut Flan

It was really delicious. A very tasty dessert.

Mango and Coconut Flan


About Chef Denis

Denis Rosembert was born on the island of St.Lucia where he started training to be a chef in 1973. After a couple of years he was invited to England to continue his training. Since then Denis has worked in various hotels and restaurants across Britain and America in the role of Commis, Sous and finally Head Chef. In 1989 he moved to Norwich, where after a brief stint working for the Sports Village, he finally realised his dream and opened his own restaurant Chez Denis.

Website – http://www.chezdenis.co.uk/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Chezdenis1


I’m participating in the blogtour. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts to see what tasty recipes they have tried.

Taste of the French Caribbean by Chef Denis

I’d love to hear what dishes you love from the Caribbean?

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

Gilding the Lily by Justine John

I have received a free e-copy of the book Gilding the Lily by Justine John to review.

Gilding The Lily by Justine John

Here is the book blurb.

An invitation to her estranged, wealthy father’s surprise 75th birthday party in New York sees Amelia and her husband, Jack, set off across the pond to meet a whole new world of family politics.

Amelia, now a successful businesswoman, feels guilty about never liking her father’s women, so does her upmost to give his new socialite partner, Evelyn, the benefit of the doubt. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could just all get along? But there’s something very dark, determined and dangerous about her…

When Amelia’s father, Roger, becomes ill, Jack grows suspicious that there is more to it. Amelia understands why, but no one else will believe them. They travel back to America to piece together the puzzle, but when Roger goes missing, the couple are driven to their wits’ end. It takes a DEA officer and a secret assassin to bring them answers, but the ruthless truth is something no one expected…

Amelia and husband Jack travel from London to New York to attend a surprise 75th birthday party for her father Roger, organised by his new partner Evelyn. There they meet Evelyn’s step-granddaughter Laura for the first time. Amelia finds it very difficult to get on with Evelyn, but makes friends with Laura, who visits them in London, the next year when over in the UK.

They return to the US for Thanksgiving, but at the airport waiting to go home, they receive a phone call from Miriam, Roger’s housekeeper saying that Roger had been taken into hospital the previous day. They postpone their flight, but Evelyn is not pleased to see them return.

Roger recovers but when he next visits the UK, they are shocked to see how unwell he looks. Ex-cop Jack starts to get suspicious as to why and begins to develop a theory, although there are some red herrings.  I’ll stop at this point to avoid spoilers.

The book switches chapters between narrative by Amelia, Jack and Evelyn, which I enjoyed the different perspective. And the chapters for Evelyn let the reader build up a picture of her history.

Gilding the Lily is available on Amazon, currently priced at £7.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A great story which I highly recommend.


Here is an extract from chapter 18 of the book for you to read.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But a strange dread ran through my veins, as I lay there in the dark. Jack was finally sleeping soundly – the odd snore and mumble emanated from his side of the bed. We’d talked for hours. And now, each thought linked to another in a never-ending chain. “She has enough money of her own so I know she’s not after mine” was what my father told me when they first met. Ironically, it comforted us both. Staring into the blackness, I began to get carried away with Jack’s theory. If it were true then we had to stop it. It would be murder. No, that couldn’t happen, surely, not to us. I tried to mentally rein in my thoughts, as they began to hurry away with me, like a runaway train. Who were we to interfere so belligerently when we could be so wrong? And then again, if we did nothing, and then something terrible happened… that was simply unthinkable.

I turned over to put my arms around my husband. He was warm and his breathing was soft and slow. I tried to relax into his body, and allowed his raising ribs to rock me.

I woke at 6a.m. with a feverish energy. A strange vitality or stamina had suddenly appeared in me – a drive to endure, a surge of power, like a battery charger. I wouldn’t let anyone hurt my dad. Something had to be done. Today.


About Justine John

After over thirty years of working in the corporate sector in London Justine John left the rat race for the stunning countryside of the Surrey Hills where she lives with her husband, horses and two dalmatians.

Website  – http://www.justinejohn.co.uk/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/JustineCJohn
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/justinejohnauthor/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15985439.Justine_John


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

Gilding The Lily by Justine John

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

Blogging For Smarties by Yvonne Wu

I have received a free e-copy of the book Blogging For Smarties by Yvonne Wu to review. To find out more about the author you may visit her website.

Blogging For Smarties by Yvonne Wu

Here is the book blurb.

The Internet is often the first place that people turn to for information about anything and anyone. Company addresses, information about a person, and reviews about a company are a click away. Potential visitors rely on the Internet to learn about specials, book releases, events, and information. Your website is your storefront and it enables you to reach a global market. Having a website that supplies this information is a necessary component of running a business.

As an author and speaker, the Internet becomes a business channel to network, advertise your products and services, and build a following on a global level. Learn how to create your first blog, effectively market your blog and create passive income opportunities in our new ebook, “Blogging for Smarties Blogging for Authors and Speakers,” which will walk you through the steps of building an extremely effective website.

In this guide, you will learn:

Blogging Basics for Beginners
How to Attract Readers
Popular Blogging Platforms
How to Setup WordPress
Discover How to Use WordPress
Useful Plugins for Authors and Speakers
Discover Effective Marketing Strategies for Your Website
Easy Tips on How to Make Money with Your Blog
Learn Effective Podcasting
How to Market Your Podcast
Important Links to Resources

I don’t usually read much non-fiction, but agreed to review this book when asked by the author. I did also warn Yvonne that I am neither an author nor a speaker. However I know that a number of my readers are authors, so I do hope that my review of this guide is particularly useful to you.

Yvonne did tell me this is also a blogging book for beginners. Although I do consider myself past the beginner stage, I was hoping I could pick up some useful tips.

It is a fairly short book at just over 100 pages. It begins by defining what is a blog and why we blog, then moving on to attracting visitors. This was interesting with regards to identifying your target audience, branding and the value of content. However I was reading it with my own blog in mind and although I am very pleased to have you lovely followers reading my posts, I created my blog with me as the number one audience in mind.

The next chapter was about WordPress and the advantages and disadvantages of being self-hosted or not. I’ve been pretty blinkered on this as I’m not planning to move to self-hosted, so it was eye-opening to find out what I am missing out on. Although as I say, I don’t plan to do anything about this. Continuing with WordPress, I read how to register a domain if I wished and how to use WordPress. Plugins are something again just available to self-hosted, apart from a basic set.

Then the book moved onto something that was very useful for me to learn about syndicating a blog. I plan to investigate that further. The next item was pingbacks and trackbacks but I have to say I still don’t understand the difference between them even after reading it. Google alerts is another new useful tip that I have discovered. This chapter also covered mailing lists.

The next chapter covered making money with your blog which is not something I am personally interested in, as my blog is purely my hobby. However it proved interesting reading about what rankings could be important and advertising.

Finally podcasting, if you want audio alongside your blog. Again something I haven’t considered but I can imagine this would be good for book extracts.

To summarise, even though this book is aimed at authors and speakers, yes I got some tips from it, so I can certainly see that it would appeal to the general blogging beginner. However it very noticeably focussed on WordPress. What about Blogger and other blogging platforms?

This book can be purchased via Amazon, currently priced at £3.66 in kindle format, but watch out for a price reduction between 23rd December to 1st January. This is the short version of the book. Alternatively there is a full version with videos.


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

Blogging For Smarties by Yvonne Wu - book tour

And the author is hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway a $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash. Open worldwide.

a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways 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.

12 Days of Clink Street Christmas – Red Scarf by John Hickling

I have received an exclusive special Christmas short story Red Scarf written by John Hickling, to share with you. Earlier this year, I read Champagne & Lemonade, a collection of his short stories, which I enjoyed, so I was looking forward to this. And I have to say, it certainly lived up to expectation. So I hope you like it too.

12 Days of Clink Street Christmas

Red Scarf

The snow was thick and blissful on 23rd of December. The beautiful white streets of this normally dirty City were bursting with life, people of all ages and race shopped for xmas presents for their loved ones. Christmas trees, decorations and lights were strewn all over, making the streets look like a delightfully pretty xmas scene painting. Unfortunately, not everything was perfect, as beggar’s, the unfortunates were dotted around the City. Shivering, wrapped up in anything they could get their hands on, to try and keep warm.

A couple of streets away were a married couple, both in their late forties, they were wrapped up in thick long coats and wore matching red scarves. They battled their way through the deep snow with bags full of xmas presents. Turning into a dark alleyway back to their parked car, there were a couple of beggars tucked up in old sleeping bags.

“Spare any change? Please” Croaked an elderly scruffy looking man. The man in the red scarf rummaged through his pockets and passed the beggar a couple of quid.

“Bless ya” mumbled the beggar. The couple smiled and carried on their walk. Further on, from nowhere, two men jumped out on the couple knocking the woman to the snow covered ground. Her husband fought back but was overpowered, one of the attackers pulled out a knife, the red scarfed man looked death in the eye, when a scruffy boy, hit the attacker with a traffic cone. The other assailant pushed the boy to the ground and grabbing what they could they ran away. The red scarfed man gingerly got to his feet. The boy jumped up and fled.

“Wait” yelled the man, then rushed to his aid his semi-conscious Wife.

The couple, whose names were Alan and Mandy, were drinking coffee in the police station. Mandy still had a groggy head which was not helped by ‘I wish It could be Christmas every day’ blaring out the radio. Alan who suffers from OCD was getting very irritated by the scruffy, leaning to the left Xmas tree.

The investigating officer read over the statement. Two men, both dark hair, one with a scruffy beard, 35 to 45 in age, both in black clothing. A boy in jeans, black ripped jacket, blue peaked woolly hat, 16 to 17 in age. Some bottles of wine, a games console and perfumes were taken. It was established that the couple had never seen the boy before or noticed where he came from.

“Transport has arrived to take you both home Sir. We will be in touch with any information”

“Thank you officer, will you please promise to search for the boy? He shouldn’t be on the streets, not just at Christmas, but at all” said the weak smiling woman, squeezing Alans hand.

“We will madam. Please go home and get some rest. The couple bid farewell and merry Christmas and left.

At the couple’s home, Mandy was in tears clutching a photograph of her, her husband and their daughter who had been swept of a pier on a daytrip to the coast over a year ago. They were all wearing matching red scarves, gloves and hats, that were Christmas presents, she was 13 at the time. Her body was never recovered.

“I do hope the boy is alright Alan” murmured Mandy. Alan held her tight.

The snow was now swirling down, it was very dark and cold. The boy, who was below a brick archway under a bridge, had managed to get a fire going and was munching on a sandwich he had bought from his begging takings. He bedded down in his smelly sleeping bag.

In an old abandoned warehouse, the two robbers were sat around an old oil drum that housed a fire. The robber with the beard was rubbing his head.

“I tell ya, that boy, he could blow on us if the coppers find him, we must find him first” The other robber nodded has he looked through the stolen bags.

Christmas Eve and Alan had just got off the phone from the police who had informed him that so far they had neither found the robbers or the boy. It was 630pm. Alan and Mandy were concerned for the boy’s safety. Alan felt it was his duty to at least look for him, after all he had saved his life. Alan wrapped his red scarf around his neck, donned his thick coat, hat and gloves.

“I must at least try Mandy I just hope to god those two scumbags are not after him” His wife hugged him. But that is what was happening, the two robbers had been searching for the boy.

Later, Alan asked a beggar, who he had given a fiver and a sandwich, if he knew of a young boy of his description. The beggar had told him to try the bridge brick archways, there are a few young uns that go there.

The boy was really feeling the cold, he hadn’t eaten since the sandwich and shivering he desperately tried to light a fire, when he thought he heard a noise. He looked around but couldn’t see anything, so attempted to light his fire.

“Well, well” yelled the bearded robber who was stood a few metres in front of the boy, the boy started to run but the other robber jumped on him. Both robbers had clubs and dragged the boy into the archway, the robber without the beard was about to whack the boy when he himself groaned and fell to the floor. Alan had hit him over the head with a stick, the bearded robber grabbed the boy, facing Alan

“Let the boy go” Alan shouted. The bearded robber laughed then pulled out a gun, the boy kicked the robbers leg and Alan threw the stick at his face, the gun dropped.

“Run” roared Alan, grabbing the boy. The robber grabbed his gun and gave chase. Alan and the boy struggled up a snow covered banking. The boy slipped and banged his head. Alan dragged the dazed boy to the top but the robber was right behind and fired a shot in the air. Alan and the boy stood with hands raised. The robber grinned

“Who’s first” he pressed the trigger but it jammed. Alan lunged at him pushing him down the bank, he and the boy ran.

At the police station, which was full of the usual xmas drunks, the two robbers were in custody, Alan and the scared boy were in a room, Mandy was also there. The police had constantly tried to quiz the boy who was looking more frightened by the second.

“Stop it” Said Mandy passing the boy a sandwich, the boy whose face was so dirty and bruised tucked in.

“We would like to thank you for helping us yesterday. We only want to help you. What is your name honey?” smiled Mandy, her husband and the police nodded. The confused looking boy, shrugged and mumbled.

“I am not sure; I can’t remember” tears welled up his eyes.

“Are you hurt? You did get a bang on the head when we slid down the banking” Prompted Alan. The boy held his dirty face in his hands and shrugged.

The officer was just about to go into another volley full of questioning, when Mandy pulled them all aside.

“Look the boy is hurt, confused and very scared, you will only frighten him more with the constant questions. Let me and Alan take him home, give him a nice meal, a bath and a bed, then I am sure he will come around” Alan smiled as he and his wife held hands. The police whispered among themselves for a couple of minutes, before agreeing with Mandy. Everyone was happy, even Mandy smiled at ‘I wish it could be Christmas every day’ on the radio.

Back at the couple’s house Alan had hung up their coats, red scarfs and hats, while Mandy put on the kettle. The boy stood near the fire looking confused.

“Please don’t be scared, I will make you something nice to eat. First I will run the bath” smiled Mandy. The boy smiled back.

“Let me hang up your coat” Alan said, gesturing for the boy to take of his dirty ripped jacket. The boy looked around at all the decorations then back at Alan and Mandy, smiling he proceeded to take of his woolly peaked hat and coat. The couple stood opened mouthed at the scruffy, thin looking blonde haired girl, with a red scarf around her neck.


About John Hickling

Proud father and grandfather, and jack of all trades John A.D. Hickling currently lives with his family in Nottingham. A lover of music, especially 60’s rock, John has previously recorded two independent albums, appeared in comedy band Space Cadets on Britain’s Got Talent and is an active member of Masque Productions amateur theatre group. His debut book, Champagne & Lemonade (published by Clink Street Publishing July 5th 2016 RRP £6.99 paperback, RRP £3.99 ebook) is available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores. For more information please visit www.johnchewyhickling.com or find John on Facebook or Twitter.

Champagne & Lemonade by John Hickling


I’m participating in the 12 Days of Clink Street Christmas blogival. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts, which cover a wide range of festive reading tastes.

12 days of Clink Street Christmas blogtour

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

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Disclosure. This post contains an exclusive short story 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.


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

After The Texans by Declan Milling

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

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