Tag Archives: book tour

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.

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The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp to review.

The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp

Here is the book blurb.

The keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won’t be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War – evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work – Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

The book starts when 15 year old Pat’s school is evacuated to Leatherhead in September 1939. Pat, Janet and Becky end up at Givons House, where they are under-fed, but get rehomed after complaints from their parents. Pat misses her new best friend Becky but has to leave her next billet when relatives are due and ends up in a bed far too short for her.

She goes back home to Brixton for Christmas, where her childhood friend Bill now wants her to be his sweetheart. But Pat doesn’t want to be anyone’s girl, she dreams of going to sixth form, then training to become a teacher.

Shortly after returning to Leatherhead, the short bed fails an inspection and Pat is rehomed again, this time in a small flat with Mr & Mrs Grice. When Mr Grice is called up, Mrs Grice moves to a larger bungalow and finally Becky is able to lodge with Pat again. But it is not just Leatherhead where she keeps moving, as her grandmother forces the family to move from Brixton to West Norwood due to a rent dispute, just before she goes back for May half-term.

Whilst home, she heads into London for a visit to the National Gallery and en-route pops into the Beaver Club, where her mother works. But she accidentally collides into one of the Canadian servicemen, Group Captain James Bonar, who was about to do some sightseeing before returning to duties. She ends up acting as an unofficial tour guide and James then asks her to be a pen pal.

A couple of weeks later, Pat turns 16 and with her school friends, goes for a cycle ride picnic where they inadvertently end up amidst a military training exercise on Esher Common. The officer in charge forbids them to speak of it to anyone, so she can’t include it in her pen pal news. Meanwhile James asks if she will show him more of London when he next gets leave, so she uses a visit to Becky as a cover excuse. And a week later they go to a dance and kiss. Several months pass before James next has leave and this time they sleep together and James proposes. Pat turns him down saying she wishes she was 10 years older. James had mistakenly assumed she was 21. But disaster intervenes when a week later, James’ plane is shot down.

We then move into part 2 of the book, where we continue to follow Pat, who is now blaming herself for James’ death and bottling up her biggest secret. Bill alternates between trying to cheer her up and feeling jealous that somebody else had been keen on Pat. She then meets Bill’s friend Jon whom she becomes keen on. Of course Bill starts resenting that Jon likes Pat. There’s lots more to come in the story, but I’m going to stop now.

The Keeping of Secrets is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. A nice story which I recommend.


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

Pat has taken James, a Canadian airman, on a whistle stop tour of London’s attractions:

‘No tour guide worth her salt could allow a tour to end without a cup of tea at a Lyons Corner House,’ I declared grandly, and James inclined his head for me to lead on. I took him to the one on the opposite corner to Charing Cross Station and we were placed at a table at one side of the room towards the back. James extracted a cigarette packet as we waited for our tea, a quirk of an eyebrow as I refused the proffered cigarette, but he made no comment, dragging deeply before blowing the smoke out of his flared nostrils. He said, ‘It’s been a very pleasant afternoon. You’ve been kind to a stranger in a foreign land and made me feel at home. Could I ask one more thing of you?’

At that moment the waitress arrived and we were busy for a few minutes with the flurry of activity. Once cups of tea were in front of us, unable to contain my curiosity, I asked, ‘What’s the one more thing you’d like me to do?’

James was in no hurry to reply, sipping his tea and helping himself to a small gingerbread cake, which he ate slowly, his even white teeth flashing as he bit into its soft brown depths, his lips meeting firmly, a slight lift to the side of his mouth as he chewed and watched me watching him. I blushed a little as if I had caught him in some kind of personal ritual and he swallowed and nodded slightly, as if coming to a decision, smiling more broadly now, the crow’s feet crinkling, and I felt a melting inside me, and I thought, I’d like to draw him, and, blushing again, busied myself with cutting up my scone and butter.

James leaned forward and spoke quietly so as to not be overheard.


About the author

Born and raised in the Home Counties, Alice Graysharp has enjoyed a varied working life from hospitality to office work and retail. She currently lives in Surrey. This is her first novel, and the first title in a two book series, she is also already working on a seventeenth century trilogy. Published in the anniversary month of the outbreak of the Second World War and the Battle of Britain.

Website: https://www.alicegraysharp.com/


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

The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp

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.

Summer Blogival – Soho Honey by AW Rock

I have received a free e-copy of the book Soho Honey by AW Rock to review, as part of Clink Street Publishing’s Summer Blogival.

Soho Honey by AW Rock

Here is the book blurb.

This contemporary crime story takes place over three weeks in November and unfolds against the multi-cultural backdrop of Soho, London. Branen had to leave the UK six years before to escape his complex clandestine history and the consequences of a crime that achieved worldwide notoriety. When his daughter is brutally murdered in Soho he believes that he could be the reason. He returns to his old hunting grounds to find the killer. His search brings him into conflict with the British Secret Service and Soho’s underworld. He is forced to flee Soho again after a tragic meeting with his ex-wife. His past has caught up with him and the hunter becomes the hunted. Now forty years old Branen wants to stop running and to remove forever the continuing threat to his life. In an effort to get rid of his pursuers he is faced with the prospect that his only chance of survival could lead to his death.

The story starts when 17 year old Branen got a job in Soho as a doorman at Ronnie Scott’s. A couple of years later he met Jane and they had a daughter Carrie. However a few years later he is also seeing Rita, when he narrowly avoids being set-up for Rita’s murder. But by now, he is hooked on adrenalin rushes, so he agreed to be driver for a gang who are planning to steal a consignment of heroin. However they get grassed up and he ends up in prison. It is the final straw for his relationship with Jane and when he gets released on parole, he only manages to keep one parole appointment before he breaches his parole by going back to Soho where is supposed to be excluded from. So he runs away to France and joins the Foreign Legion for 5 years.

As soon as he arrives back at Heathrow, the Secret Service approach him with an offer and he trains as a photo-journalist. This is his cover for when they request his involvement in a mission in Paris in 1997 to eliminate Princess Diana. After this, he wants out of the world of violence and he buys a small-holding in Italy.

The story then moves to the present day. Branen’s daughter Carrie is aged 20 when she is approached by the Secret Service. They dangle a carrot saying they can put her in touch with her father, train her up and she moves into a flat in Soho. But things go wrong and she is murdered. The Secret Service call Branen via satellite phone and request his help to solve the crime. He heads to the UK via a false trail. He arranges a meeting with Jane in Soho, so that he can tell her the awful news about their daughter’s death, but Jane is mistakenly shot in front of him. The bullet was meant for him.

Meanwhile we meet characters from Soho’s seedy underworld and many of the chapters are from their point of view, as well as following what Branen is up to. Can he escape?

Soho Honey is available on Amazon, currently priced at £8.95 in paperback and is also available in Kindle format. This is a very dark gripping story with plenty of twists and turns which I highly recommend.

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


Here are three extracts from the book for you to read.

1. The Associates is a secret cadre which the Government will resort to in extremis… 

All governments carry out secret operations and they must be more savvy and brutal than the criminal gangs and terrorists who inhabit their countries. The more democratic a government, the more illicit its operations have to be. Despite sophisticated technology, the government also employs deniable operation officers and their agents for covert assignments, without the knowledge of politicians or the public.
The Associates is a project run by the Senior Civil Servant within the Home Office and total secrecy is essential to its existence. He is known as the SCS, is answerable only to the Home Secretary and is protected by the Public Interest Immunity Certificate.
The Associates’ employees are known only to the SCS and his personal assistant, and are usually ex-Home or Foreign Office. They set up small legitimate businesses and employ agents assigned to them by the SCS; these agents are usually former SIS officers, security screened mercenaries or retired special forces soldiers.
The Operations Officers and their agents are given backup personnel when necessary. These operatives are only given case-specific information on a need to know basis.
In the 1970s and 80s a similar secret cadre called Group 13 was set up by the SIS to infiltrate the IRA and execute Margaret Thatcher’s alleged ‘shoot to kill’ policy. It was hidden within an organisation known as the Increment or ‘Inc’ and employed a dozen ex-Special Service soldiers to carry out assassinations and deniable operations in Ireland. When a controversial mission became compromised, it had to be disbanded before its activities became public knowledge.
Two Group 13 agents were then employed by the SCS as Operations Officers to set up The Associates. In the UK there is a photographic bureau, an Indian travel agency and a Chinese fruit wholesaler, employing in total seven agents.
The SCS can brief the Operations Officer or an agent directly by secure satellite phone. The agent validates the operation with his catch-word, known only to his Operations Officer and the SCS.
Simple but effective.

2. Branen meets Jane for the first time… 

He first saw Jane a couple of years later at the Marquee in Wardour Street when he went to see a punk band called Ferking Nouveau. She was wearing a thin sweater and tight leather trousers. She was sex on legs and dancing with a man who didn’t have a lot of natural rhythm. Ben sat in the shadows and waited nearly an hour for a chance to talk to her. Eventually she went up to the bar and he slid in beside her.
“Hello… can I, er… buy you a drink?” he asked her.
“No thanks… but maybe later,” she said.
“What’s your name?” Ben asked.
“I’ll save that for later too…” she said, smiling.
“Will there be a later?”
“You’ll know later…”
“I can hardly wait…”
“I hope that doesn’t apply to everything you do,” she said, turning back to the dance floor.
Ben was left hanging. He kept making eye contact, which left him with a permanent wooden smile and his mind frozen in the flashing lights. He was infatuated and completely at her mercy.
He went out onto the street. He had been set up by the most desirable woman he’d ever seen and his nerve had given out. But if he went home now he would never forgive himself.
The rubber stamp on the back of his hand, proving that he’d paid to get in, had faded.
The guy on the door, who was only slightly smaller than an elephant, blocked his way.
“C’mon… you remember me…” said Ben, “…I only just left.”
“Let me see the stamp on your hand…”
“C’mon man… don’t be a…”
“I can’t see no stamp… I can’t let you in without the stamp, so you can piss off, mate.”
She appeared from behind the bouncer.
“He’s with me,” she said, smiling.
“What’s her name?” the doorman asked Ben.
“I’ll tell you later,” said Ben.

3. Carrie is Branen’s and Jane’s 20 year old daughter…

Carrie’s earliest memories of her father were vague.
She was fourteen when he had unexpectedly turned up again. She had been excited to see him but her mother told her that he couldn’t stay and he was soon gone again. She remembered him as a quiet man who had swept her up in his arms and held her close. As she grew up she began to understand how sometimes relationships didn’t last, but she missed her father. His visit had made a deep impression on her and she couldn’t forget him.
She didn’t hold any resentment towards him and because her mother never said a bad word about him she realised Jane still held a candle for him. Her mother rarely mentioned him after that, but if she did it was always with affection.
Carrie left school at eighteen and went to a provincial university to study psychology. College life proved to be a difficult time for her. Her self-possession alienated the other girls who were wary of her, while the male students were never comfortable in her presence. Although it was nearly seven years since she had last seen her father, she still held a deep desire to see him again. It affected her attitude towards men and instead of dating her contemporaries she became involved with one of her tutors. Their affair came to the notice of the Principal and in the summer of her second year, at twenty years old, she left university. She convinced herself it was all too boring. She wanted results now, not years in the future.


About the author

Based in London, AW Rock has been a regular on the Soho scene since the 1960’s working in various sectors of the entertainment industry.

Website – http://sohohoney.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/SohoHoney
Twitter – https://twitter.com/sohohoney
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/sohohoney/
Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbobu4S36R9CSMklBZ4AEMA


I’m participating in the Clink Street Summer Blogival. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts, which cover a wide range of reading tastes.

Summer blogival

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 Thousand Tiny Miracles of Living Twice by Katarina West

I have received a free advance PDF copy of the book “The Thousand Tiny Miracles of Living Twice” by Katarina West  to review. I was looking forward to this, having read Katarina’s previous novel “Absolute Truth For Beginners” back in 2015. To find out more about the author you may visit her website or blog.

The Thousand Tiny Miracles of Living Twice by Katarina West

Here is the book blurb.

Meet Irene Nylander, a frumpy housewife from Finland… and a yo-yo dieter. She feels trapped in an unhappy marriage, looking after her domineering mother-in-law and living vicariously through romantic movies.

Meanwhile, in Florence, Mimi Kavanough’s star is rising. She has the body of a Barbie princess, the iron will of an army sergeant – and Hollywood in her sights.

On her fiftieth birthday, Irene discovers her husband is having an affair. Devastated, she prays for a way out: she wants to die.

In heaven, a mischievous angel called Aaron hears her prayers. He decides to make Irene and Mimi swap bodies.

How will the two women cope with their unexpected, and very different, second lives? And will Aaron’s meddling get him evicted from heaven?
What will happen if he has to transform into a human being and live on Earth?

This book is set over the course of a fortnight commencing 23 June. It starts with Irene heading to Helsinki for a night out to celebrate her 50th birthday with her best friend Saara after more rudeness from her mother-in-law Horrible Harriet. But Saara doesn’t show, giving an excuse about working late. Irene decides to go to the restaurant alone, but then she spots her husband Henrik, who is supposedly on business in Stockholm. Instead he is having a cosy intimate meal with Saara. Irene rushes out and back to her car, just praying to die, as her life is so unhappy.

Meanwhile up in Little Heaven, prankster punk angel Aaron has already caused havoc that day by pretending he spotted a demon. Now he realises Irene needs help and he says Jump as her car is just about to crash.

At the same time, Hollywood star and model Mimi is enjoying herself on a yacht near the Italian island of Monte Cristo when she hears a voice in her head saying Jump. It makes perfect sense to her, as she jumps into the sea.

And just like that Irene and Mimi swap bodies. But what will happen to Aaron, since angels are not permitted to meddle with humans like that. And how will Irene and Mimi get on in their new lives? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

This book is available on Amazon and is currently 99p in Kindle format. I loved this book with its mixture of fantasy and chick-lit. It is the first story in the Angel Aid series, so I’m really looking forward to book 2.

And the author is hosting a rafflecopter competition to giveaway 10 Amazon Kindle copies of The Thousand Tiny Miracles of Living Twice. Open worldwide.

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

And you may see my other giveaways here.

The Thousand Tiny Miracles of Living Twice by Katarina West

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

13 June, Tuesday

Rocksprings Crafts

14 June, Wednesday

The Cosy Dragon

Creative Misfit

15 June, Thursday

Hall Ways

The Writing Desk

16 June, Friday

Joyful Antidotes

Mademoiselle Women

17 June, Saturday

Linda’s Book Bag

18 June, Sunday

Novel Gossip

19 June, Monday

Yet another blogging mummy!!!

20 June, Tuesday

Sarah Smiles

Leila’s Bookshelf

Kraftireader

22 June, Thursday

Hello Booklover

Katarina West

You can find Katarina West on social media as follows:-
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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 Kazak Contract by Paul Purnell

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Kazak Contract by Paul Purnell to review.

The Kazak Contract by Paul Purnell

Here is the book blurb.

James Ballantyne travels to Kazakhstan on a minor diplomatic assignment. A simple task, but he falls for the glamorous aide Ocksana Petrova, sent to guide him through the process. Fate leads him to the rescue of a US special agent who is the target of assassination by the Kazak authorities.

What should Ballantyne do? Should he be led by duty or compassion?

Events force his hand and he recruits smugglers to get the agent away from Kazakhstan. The escape route is dangerous and it becomes clear they are being monitored every inch of the way. Is his new love, Ocksana, behind the surveillance? Or has his own team been infiltrated?

Getting out of Kazakhstan alive will draw upon all of James’s military skills, and a lot of luck. With ambush and deception along the way, will he make it to the border and safety? How can he protect his lover? This journey through a wild country stretches every nerve.

James Ballantyne works for the British Foreign Office and is sent to Kazakhstan to secure a major energy deal. He is met at the airport by Ocksana Petrova, the Energy Minister’s personal assistant. Secretly, Ocksana is also working for the Bureau. At his hotel, James starts chatting with Bill Hammond, an American businessman , who hints that Ocksana’s role is to sweeten the deal. Bill invites James to join him in a card game, but he can see Bill is being set up to lose. He leaves and heads to bed, but is woken by a shot. He dashes down the corridor and finds that Hammond has been shot by one of the other gamblers. Hammond is taken to hospital and when James visits him the next day, Hammond begs him for help to flee, asking him to track down Gilda for assistance. Meanwhile James sleeps with Ocksana. Does she have true feelings for him? And will he help Hammond?

The Kazak Contract 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 the book for you to read.

This is an excerpt from Chapter 14 where the fugitives (including Ballantyne and the smugglers) are confronting the pursuing Special Branch Team. One of the smugglers, a girl called Gilda distracts the enemy while Ballantyne takes on the group.

“Picking a spot about four hundred metres from the target, he waited for the shot which would set off the trap. She fired two shots, one after the other. Within a second, a burst of automatic fire lit up a man standing beside the first car in the ditch. He fired six single rounds into the flame, remembering to keep his aim down as the gun jerked in his hands. Then he dived to the right and watched the effect.

Someone shouted, but he could not catch the words. A second shadow moved towards the ditched car and he fired again. This time he thumbed the automatic lever and sprayed a long burst into the moving shadow. A cry from the dark outline told him he had hit someone and he moved to a new spot, awaiting Gilda’s next shot.

She fired again and sparks flew upwards like a small firework; some piece of car body had taken the hit. Again, a burst of firing replied to her shot, but this from the third car and from two weapons. The aim was wild, and he realised they were simply returning fire to saturate the area.

OK. Keep it up, more the merrier.’

They wasted at least two magazines that way. He took up another position and prepared to respond to Gilda’s lead when he felt a snick as something touched his elbow. Looking down, he realised a bullet had just passed him, catching his jacket. He knew at once what it was. It was a high velocity round, and it changed the game. Down there was a sniper with some sort of night lens, and he was on to him.”


About the author

Based in London, Paul Purnell has worked for over forty-years as a Criminal Law barrister. After serving five years stationed in Germany with the British Army, Purnell began his career as a trial lawyer prosecuting and defending in serious criminal cases across the country. Later he was appointed Queen’s Counsel, a role which has seen him engaged in court cases both across the country and to far flung destinations including the Cayman Islands and Kazakhstan. His extensive experience and understanding of the criminal world has provided the inspiration for his short stories and his latest Jack Ballantyne series. When not writing, or in court, he enjoys racing around the country on his motorbike and spending time with his three children and grandchildren.

Previous titles include a series of well-received short stories; The Hireling (2015), Scaramouche (2015) and The Storm (2016).

Website: http://paulpurnell.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/purnell14


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

The Kazak Contract by Paul Purnell

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.

Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club by Jane Evans

This post ties in nicely with Learning Success that I blogged about yesterday. If you haven’t read it yet, do check it out later. There is also a Learning Success giveaway, value £230.

I have received a free copy of the childrens’ book Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club by Jane Evans for son2 to review. Penguins are one of his three favourite creatures, so he was delighted to see some on the front cover.

Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club by Jane Evans

Here is the book blurb.

Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club written and illustrated by Scottish duo Jane Evans and Ruth Mutch follows the adventures of lively young characters who display dyspraxia, dyslexia and autism including Vera McLuckie —who hates school. Mainly because she struggles with stuff the other kids find easy. Oh, and because she keeps getting into trouble for doing what she is really good at…daydreaming.

Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club by Jane Evans

I like Ricky, Henry, Helen and mini 15 penguins 🐧

I also like Shakespeare the dog 🐶🐕🐩 Woof Woof.

The two sentences above are what son2 has written for his review. He doesn’t share much with us about the storyline, so let me elaborate. This story is about a primary school girl Vera McLuckie who has a penguin adventure with her two best friends Harry and Max. Although not explicitly mentioned in the book, all three have learning difficulties. Vera has Dyspraxia, Harry is Dyslexic and Max has Asperger’s and we see how they often get picked on by Bethany, the coolest, cleverest child in the school. In the adventure, the children see a fantastic swimming display by the penguins, but hear how sad they are to be teased by the other birds, for not being able to fly. This gives Vera a light-bulb moment regarding their own talents. But is the adventure, real or a daydream and how will Vera succeed in putting her story-telling talent into words?

At the back of the book, there is a mission to find 15 tiny penguins hidden in Ruth Mutch’s lovely illustrations and follow the instructions to unlock the code word. With some help, son2 had great fun doing this challenge, although it certainly took some time, as the penguins are very well hidden.

And son2 has drawn a cute picture of the three penguins.

Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club

Vera McLuckie and the Daydream Club is published by Your Stories Matter and is available on Amazon, currently priced at £6.99 in paperback. Targetted at children age 7-9, this a lovely story in its own right, that a lot of children may identify with. But it is also a learning resource that can assist teachers or parents in positive discussion with younger children, what it is like to have a learning difficulty. This should help to raise awareness and improve understanding of neurodiversity.

About Your Stories Matter: Based in Kendal, Cumbria Paul Johnson is the founder of Your Stories Matter and the parent publishing company Explainer HQ —which provides creative video, audio, animation and print to the business and education sector. All Your Stories Matters titles are published in paperback and are available to order from online retailers including amazon.co.uk.

For more information please visit: https://www.yourstoriesmatter.org and follow on Twitter @ysm_books

And some of the illustrations are available to download as colouring sheets here.


Your Stories Matter

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

Your Stories Matter Blog Tour

14th May

Kid-Lit Reviews

15th May

Yet Another Blogging Mummy

16th May

The Book Corner

Whispering Stories

Book Babble

17th May

Linda’s Book Bag

#redhead.with.book

18th May

The Autism Cafe

19th May

Sinceley Stacie

20th May

Book Room Reviews

Book Babble

21st May

Book Babble

22nd May

Bookworm for Kids

23rd May

Kid-Lit Reviews

Book Babble

25th May

Twirling Book Princess

28th May

Kid-Lit Reviews

29th May

Steph’s Two Girls

30th May

The Book Corner

31st May

Embracing the Spectrum

And you may see a guest post by author Jane Evans, sharing her thoughts on being a little bit naughty on my blog here.

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

Outremer by D N Carter

I have received a free e-copy of the book Outremer by D N Carter to review.

Outremer by D N Carter

Here is the book blurb.

Who Controls The Past Controls The Future

 An epic love story must overcome religious divide and a plot to eradicate two blood lines, as the Crusades and the search for the ancient mysteries of the Holy Grail gather momentum.

Raised by his father in La Rochelle, France, Paul Plantavalu is known for his artistic nature, inquisitive mind and Christian faith. He also has an unshakable love for his Muslim childhood friend, Alisha al Komaty. Courageous and outspoken, she returns Paul’s love. But their path is paved with obstacles; religion, war, political chaos and a mysterious enemy determined to destroy their family lines.

Sometime between 1110 AD and 1120 AD in the aftermath of the first crusade, a small band of nine knights — the founding knights Templar — recover ancient precious artefacts left by a former, advanced civilisation, beneath the City of Jerusalem. Ruthlessly guarded, the secrets revealed by this discovery are highly prized by powerful and dangerous forces far and wide; the repercussions of their capture are inextricably linked to Paul and Alisha. As Paul starts to experience dark and vivid dreams and the fragile balance of peace starts to crumble, it will fall to an enigmatic man known as Kratos and his female warrior protégée Abi Shadana, to safeguard Paul and Alisha.

Paul and Alisha’s love story weaves between the threads of our reality and other realms — from the Druids to the Sufi mystics, the Magi of the East, the secret political arm of the Knights Templar and the Isma’ilis, the Assassins. Knights and pilgrims alike will witness some of the darkest battles ever fought. The discovery of a unique sword’s lethal power and whispered connections to King Arthur and the Holy Grail lead Paul and Alisha to question if their lives ever be the same again.

The first of a four-part series, Outremer is an historical epic, which sweeps across England, Scotland and France, to Syria, Jerusalem and Egypt. Discover the truth — and crack the ancient code — behind the great mysteries of the High Middle Ages for yourself.

This is an epic of a book and it is only part 1 of 4. The first few pages are set in 1109, but most of the book is set in two timelines 1178-79  and a storyteller recounting the tale in 1191. It is never revealed who the storyteller is, but I have my own theory. However I’m sure we have to wait until part 4 to find that out. The main timeline follows 15 year old Paul Plantavalu in La Rochelle, France, his father Philip and their close Muslim friends Firgany Al Komati, son Taqi, daughter Alisha and sister Raja. Paul along with Taqi enrages his elder brother Stewart by spying on his Templar initiation ceremony.

Paul and Alisha fall in love. Their fathers are against this. The old man Niccolas gives Paul and Taqi scrolls of their destinies and future path choices. Firgany and family are due to return home to Mawsil and then both families will move to Alexandria next year where Philip and Raja will marry. Paul writes a poem for Alisha before his father sends him to collect a horse from Rochefort-sur-Terre. There he makes an enemy of Templar Seneschal Gerard de Ridefort and a new friend Rick who gives him a gift. When he returns home the next day, Firgany and family have already left.

On the boat back, Raja gets ill. So she remains at Castle Blanc in the Levant whilst Firgany and Taqi continue. Alisha accompanies them part way to collect some medicinal hemp, but they are ambushed. All survive due to the intervention of Abi Shadana. But sadly Raja dies in Alisha’s arms before Firgany and Taqi return. This causes a change in plan and they all return to La Rochelle to break the bad news.

Paul doesn’t see how he can continue to pursue his love for Alisha when his father has lost Raja. By the time he resolves his confusion, Alisha is so hurt that she rejects him. We’re not even half way through the book at this point, but I shall stop now, leaving you to wonder how Paul and Alisha will sort out their differences.

I could certainly imagine a film based on this, but I have to say I skimmed through sections of Bible references, symbols and other philosophies which I just found too deep. I still enjoyed the story though and marvelled at how much of it is based on fact. I was particularly fascinated by the idea of secrets being carved into cathedrals as they were built.

Outremer is available on Amazon, currently priced at £14.99 in paperback and is also available in hardback or kindle format. A challenging read but enjoyable.


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

This scene is set at the ancient Dolmen site in the South of France at ‘Draguignan Pierre des feé’. The convoy Alisha was in stopped there for the night on their way to Freju. This is where she discovers for the first time her ability to heal. It is also where Theodoric makes his first proper appearance. Paul and Taqi hearing a commotion of villagers outside their caravan rushed to check.

“Clear off you, whoever you are this has no business of your like,” one of the male villagers shouted back.

“Taqi, what happens here?” Paul asked as he stood next to him.

“Tis not your problem boys…now be away with you,” the overweight lady stated still holding the broom high above her head.

Paul rapidly studied the situation. The crowd were clearly angry and hostile, the man on the floor bloodied, his face swollen already and both his eyes closed from bruising. As the man rolled onto his back, Paul saw a worn patch where a cross had once been sewn.

“This man has leprosy yet he denies it and drank from our mead barrels…” a tall muscled man stated and moved to kick the man again.

“No!” Paul shouted and without hesitation ran forwards and pushed the muscled man back hard nearly causing him to stumble but his colleagues behind him steadied him.

“Oh…look…we have a young hero here,” the muscled man mocked.

Paul immediately knelt down next to the man, supported him and lifted him so he could look at his face. Blood was oozing from his split lip and several cuts to his face, his eyes closed due to swelling and his forehead and hands were covered in blisters and scabs. He coughed as he tried to speak.

“Are you mad boy…he has leprosy,” someone at the back shouted.

Paul looked at the subdued area where a badge was once sewn,

“Rick, tis me…Paul” Paul whispered.

“The boy knows this leper,” the overweight woman shouted as the muscled man leant forward to grab Paul from behind.

“Touch him and you will regret it,” Taqi stated sternly.

The muscled man paused briefly to look at Taqi, grinned and then grabbed Paul and lifted him up hard to his feet. Quickly Paul turned to face him as the muscled man pulled his fist back to punch him. Suddenly the man’s face contorted in pain and he started to go backwards and to his knees. Paul looked ahead. Tenno was standing behind the muscled man using just one hand to squeeze the man’s right hand, Tenno’s gaze staring hard at all the villagers who watched amazed. The muscled man squirmed in agony and tried to twist away from Tenno, but Tenno did not move.

“Please…Please…please I beg of you…let go,” the muscled man pleaded in agony, sweat beading across his forehead. Tenno continued his stare at the crowd. The overweight woman lowered her broom and they all began to back away slowly.

Alisha appeared beside Tenno carrying the large two edged sword in her right hand wearing a bright blue shawl around her shoulders. She placed her left hand upon Tenno’s that was crushing the muscled man’s hand. Gently she squeezed her hand over Tenno’s, his hand huge in comparison. Tenno broke his stare at the group and released his grip instantly, the muscled man falling to the floor holding his hand with his left still in agony. Alisha then stepped forwards and walked slowly in front of the crowd looking at them all in turn one by one. She said nothing as she looked into each of their eyes. Several of them looked away or down in shame. After she had walked past the last person, her left hand over her tummy, her right hand holding the sword, she moved to face Paul. She outstretched her right arm and offered him the sword. Despite its size, the sword was remarkably light due to its unique manufacture and material construction. Seeing this, one woman crossed her heart and knelt down and began asking for forgiveness. Taqi just starred bemused at what he was seeing as several Hospitaller’s came and stood behind them. Sister Lucy edged her way next to him shaking her head surprised at Alisha’s obvious affect upon all present. Two more villagers knelt down and crossed their hearts. The muscled man looked up at Alisha still in pain. Paul took the sword.

“You forgot this…do not ever enter into trouble again without it,” she said softly.

“Who…who are you?” the muscled man asked in pain nervously looking behind him at Tenno still towering over him.

Paul tied the sword around his waist quickly and looked at the crowd as they all stared at Alisha. Taqi moved to help the elderly injured man on the floor. Paul likewise knelt to help lift the man whom he knew to be Rick. As they both lifted him to his feet, the muscled man stood up holding his hand in pain. Alisha walked over toward him slowly looking directly into his eyes. He backed away hesitantly as she drew nearer. Paul looked on concerned as he struggled to hold the weight of Rick who could hardly stand, his head hung down.

“Wh…what are you going to do?” the muscled man asked nervously as he moved backwards, tripped on the edge of the track and fell to his knee. Alisha walked up and stood immediately in front of him and stared into his hazel green eyes. He stared back and all stood in silence as Paul watched. Taqi shook his head he had no idea what she was doing as Sister Lucy edged her way nearer to her. As Alisha stared into his eyes, hers wide and her pupils large, she did not blink. After what seemed an age, the muscled mans bottom lip started to quiver and tears began to well in his eyes as he was flooded with emotions. He was still holding his right hand up with his left when Alisha moved to place her hand upon his. He flinched momentarily, but then saw the slight smile start on her face. Very softly she placed her hand over his injured fist. She tilted her head slightly as she looked deeper into his eyes. Sister Lucy shot a look back at Paul bemused as Tenno watched, his face still fierce. The muscled man let out a nervous laugh as the pain simply left his hand. He blinked amazed and smiled as tears fell from his eyes totally unashamedly. Several in the crowd fell to their knees and crossed their hearts. Taqi looked at Paul totally confused. The muscled man knelt down in front of Alisha grasped her hand with both of his and kissed her hand softly and cried. Alisha looked at the crowd of people. One of the Hospitaller’s knelt down followed by another, then another until everyone was kneeling. Paul looked at them all in surprise and then at Alisha.

“Paul,” Rick coughed painfully as he tried to speak.

“This man knows you?” Taqi quizzed as he struggled to hold him up.

Alisha turned to look at Paul and Taqi holding Rick. She let go of the muscled man’s hands and walked across to them. She looked at Rick’s swollen and bruised face and gently placed her hand upon his cheek. Immediately he coughed, stood up straighter and shook his head and took his own weight on his legs. His eyes were still closed swollen as he placed his hand upon Alisha’s hand still on his face.

“Blessed are you mother of our Lord,” Rick coughed out.

Instantly several more in the crowd crossed their hearts and whispered prayers.

“No, I am just Alisha,” she replied softly and looked sadly at the state of Rick’s face. Sister Lucy approached and gently pulled Alisha’s hand away from Rick’s face. “Do not worry, ‘tis not leprosy.”

The muscled man stood to his feet looking at his hands still amazed. He looked at Tenno who narrowed his eyes. ‘Sorry’ the man mouthed to him.

“Come, child…with me,” Sister Lucy said aloud and began to usher Alisha away.

Paul looked on concerned as Alisha seemed to be in some kind of trance almost he thought. He had never seen her like this and Taqi shook his head also bemused.


About the author

After strange and vivid experiences whilst living in Cyprus as a child, author D N Carter has been fascinated by the history, myths and legends of the Middle Ages and mankind’s past. As he got older travels to Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the Languedoc region of France and the deserts of Arabia fuelled his enthusiasm. While not decoding maps and mathematical codes D N Carter enjoys adventure sports from parachuting to microlight flying. Today he divides his time between East Anglia in the UK and the south of France with his family.


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

Outremer by D N Carter

 

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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 Expansion by Christoph Martin

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Expansion by Christoph Martin to review.

The Expansion by Christoph Martin

Here is the book blurb.

In politics and big business, truth is a matter of opinion.

Straddling the storyworlds of Panama, Washington and London, The Expansion follows British-born geomatic engineer Max Burns, whose revolutionary water-saving system wins him the esteemed position of head engineer for one of the 21st century’s most politically contested megaprojects: the expansion of the Panama Canal.

For Max it is a dream come true: not only is he able to work closely with construction giant and old high-school friend Godfredo Roco in one of the most beautiful tropical environments, but it’s the kind of job Max has been working toward his entire career.

Yet in the arena of global trade and diplomacy, stakes are high, and when a senior official of the Panama Canal Administration is found dead, Max finds himself in the frame for sabotage and murder, and at the center of a web of political intrigue and betrayal that reaches far beyond the idyllic shores of Central America. The only person Max can trust is his new-found love, Karis Deen, a scientist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Except Karis herself holds a secret that could not only destroy Max, but could change the entire balance of world power.

The book begins with a prologue back in 1993 when 16 year old Max’s father deliberately crashes the plane he and Max’s mother are flying when they face arrest. Max leaves his Swiss boarding school and comes back to England to live with his Uncle Alan on a London housing estate. He gradually loses contact with his best school friend Godfredo.

We move to 2008 and Max, now a geomatic engineer gets a chance to work on a team bidding for the Panama Canal expansion tender. Coincidences abound as it is Godfredo’s father Paco’s construction firm who want Max on board. However there is a catch. He has just signed a contact for a new job, working for his future father-in-law.

Next we meet Karis, a scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, who are worried about the environmental impact of the expansion project. But why is Karis lying?

There appears to be various intrigues going on trying to discover about other teams bidding proposals. Who is informing on who? And why are the Chinese not bidding?

Fast forward a couple of years and construction is under way. Intelligence is still keeping an eye on the project. Karis is back on the scene when someone gets murdered. Max is framed. By whom and why?

The Expansion is available on Amazon, currently priced at £9.99 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.
Alan is the person closest to Max’s heart, and hearing his uncle’s words in this scene gives Max the green light to start living his life the way he wants to, even if it involves taking a huge risk …

“Would you be alright … if I go to Panama?”
“Me? Gawd! Never you mind about me.” Alan eyed Max as he chewed on a rasher of bacon. After a moment, he hit ‘mute’ on the remote. “So what’s holding you back, lad?”
Max stopped chewing. “Sarah. And her father. I don’t know how I’d face him.”
Alan was quiet, his large fingers enveloping his beer can.
Max looked at him. “I don’t want to be the guy who screws up everyone else’s life because he can’t face up to his responsibilities.”
Immediately, Alan planted his beer on the arm rest.
“Lad, if you’re talking about your father …” He leaned forward. “You’d do well to remember that your mother was no angel, neither. God rest her.”
“What do you mean?”
Perhaps his expression belied his surprise at his uncle’s words, because Alan continued, hurriedly: “Oh, don’t get me wrong: I agree with you. It was bloody irresponsible. I could’ve spit chips when he topped himself with that ruddy helicopter.” Alan’s eyes were blazing. “He well knew what he was doin’. He knew it, and he took our Helen with him.” His fist clenched tighter around his beer. “She may’ve been ashamed of me; of where she come from. But she was still my sister!”
Max felt the familiar ache of sorrow surfacing as he saw the blotches of red on his uncle’s cheeks.
He looked at his beans and toast. He wasn’t hungry any more.
Alan drew a deep breath. “Well, I was ready to blame everyone, wasn’t I? Especially those rich folks your parents hobnobbed around with. Doing deals and buying up businesses, and what-have-you.” He shook his head. “But then I come home after my shift one mornin’ and I see you snoring your head off on the chair right there, and I think to myself, ‘Alan, that lad is the best thing to ever happen to your sorry carcass.’ So if you’re asking me about screwing up other people’s lives …?” Alan sat back in his chair. “Ain’t no such thing.”
Max knew better than to hug his uncle.
“Thanks,” he said, fighting back a grin. “You’re not so bad yourself.”
But Alan had already raised the volume on the television, nodding his silent acknowledgement.


About the author

Christoph Martin is the writing team of Christoph Martin Zollinger and Libby O’Loghlin. Christoph Zollinger is a Swiss entrepreneur whose career spans legal, military, corporate and private enterprise. Christoph graduated with a law degree from the University of Zürich, after which time he went on to live and work in Panama in corporate and private enterprise for more than a decade. In 2012 he returned to Switzerland with his wife and children. He divides his time between his home in Zürich and a tiny Alpine village in Graubünden. Libby O’Loghlin is an Australian novelist and prize-winning short story writer who has a career in narrative media production, including film and television, as well as print and digital publishing. She has lived in the UK, USA and Malaysia, and she now lives with her family in Switzerland.


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

The Expansion by Christoph Martin

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

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.


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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.