Book Review

The Recovery Toolkit – Sue Penna

It is my honour today to be joining the blog tour for Sue Penna’s The Recovery Toolkit. My thanks to Sue for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Jennifer Gilmour for arranging the tour and inviting me to be a part of it.

BLURB:

Have you left an abusive relationship?

Are you still carrying guilt?

Would you like to understand, challenge and remove the voice of the perpetrator?

Do you still think what happened to you was your fault?

Do you find dealing with new people in your life something to be scared about?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to the above questions you are not alone.

Many people who leave an abusive relationship behind are affected by that former relationship in many different ways. Perhaps you feel guilty when making decisions on your own? You may worry about what motivates others to befriend you? Maybe your children are having to re-learn who it is that’s the adult in the room now that your ex-partner has gone from their lives.

If this all sounds familiar then The Recovery Toolkit is the book for you. Written in an easy and accessible style, the book will take you on a journey that is part discovery, part guide.

RTK Book Cover

FURTHER DETAILS:

The book is based on the successful 12-week group programme of the same name created by author Sue Penna. It is also based on Sue’s professional and lived experience, having worked for more than 20 years for the NHS’s Mental Health Services. For the last 15 years, Sue has specialised in working with individuals who have experienced domestic abuse.

The Recovery Toolkit is crammed with superb observations and suggestions that will help you recognise that you weren’t to blame for the abuse you suffered in the first place and that the real you is still there, ready to emerge.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase here

99p_99c Kindle

REVIEW:

I feel I should preface my review of this book by saying that I have never personally been in an abusive relationship, and as such I have not followed the programme. However, I wanted to be involved in the tour to help raise awareness of the programme and maybe help even just one person find the support they need. I also wanted to read this book to educate myself about domestic abuse and maybe find ways to help a friend who had previously found herself in an abusive situation. Of course, this was the 90s/00s and we were barely out of our teens, so although we could see it wasn’t the healthiest of relationships, the phrase coercive control wasn’t even part of our vocabulary. Looking back now I can see that that’s exactly what it was and reading about how my friend must have been feeling just broke my heart. Happily she is in a relationship with a wonderful man now and her abuser is thankfully ancient history.

The Recovery Toolkit explains the psychology behind the weekly exercises in a clear, accessible manner. It is written in a conversational style, giving the feeling that you are chatting with a trusted friend. It is an easy programme, and some of the exercise will be challenging, but reading Jennifer’s anecdotes as a survivor, advocate and someone who has worked through the programme are infinitely reassuring.

Although I am not the target audience for this book, as I was reading it I found there were elements of what was being said and of the exercises that I could pull out to use with my own self-esteem issues and insecurities as a result of being badly bullied at school, and also the guilt and uselessness I feel as someone with a chronic illness. There are chapters that I know I will be revisiting and trying to put into practice.

Reading this book, and knowing how successful the programme can be, makes me want to locate my nearest support service for domestic abuse victims and make sure they are aware of Rockpool and this book/programme.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sue Penna HeadshotSue has worked with individuals who have psychological trauma as a result of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) for over 30 years in her professional life as a clinician, trainer and supervisor both within the NHS and independently.

Sue has worked with individuals who have psychological trauma as a result of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) for over 30 years in her professional life as a clinician, trainer and supervisor both within the NHS and independently.Sue has worked with individuals who have psychological trauma as a result of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) for over 30 years in her professional life as a clinician, trainer and supervisor both within the NHS and independently.

She has specialised in writing psycho-educational programmes that promote trauma informed practice and a recovery model. Sue is passionate for the need for multi-agency working and committed to supporting front line workers to have the skills to support families with a trauma informed approach.

Sue has an extensive background in the domestic abuse sector and has written trauma informed domestic abuse programmes including the Inspiring Families Programme, Adult and Children and Young People Domestic Abuse Recovery Toolkit and the Sexual Violence Recovery Toolkit. Sue has also devised the ACE Recovery Toolkit written for parents and the ACE Recovery Toolkit for children and young people.

ABOUT ROCK POOL:

Our vision is a society that is trauma-informed.

We support organisations that want to improve practice, share knowledge and expertise, and enable their workforce to inspire hope, promote resilience and aid recovery for people affected by trauma. Our innovative, practical solutions and training opportunities are informed by lived experience and what is known to work.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Rockpool Website

Rockpool on Facebook

Rockpool on Twitter

Sue Penna on Twitter

GIVEAWAY:

For the chance to win a signed paperback of The Recovery Toolkit, click HERE.

Visit the other blogs taking part in the tour for more information on this book.

Blog Tour Stops

Book Review

The House Party – Mary Grand

Today is my stop on the blog tour for thriller novel, The House Party by Mary Grand. Many thanks to Mary for providing me a copy of the book and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

Someone is about to die… Someone is about to lie…

At the intimate house-warming party for her glorious ‘grand design’, Kathleen confides in her best friend Beth that she is terrified of one of their close friends, but daren’t reveal which one. The guests are a tight-knit group, but Kathleen is convinced one of them is dangerous.

The next day Kathleen’s body is found at the foot of a cliff and Beth must face the sickening truth that she may have been killed by one of their trusted friends. With little help from the police, Beth’s decides to seek answers.

All the friends have secrets they are desperate to hide, but only one of them is ready to kill to keep theirs safe…

The House Party is set on the Isle of Wight – insular,claustrophobic, and with nowhere to run. Mary Grand has written a heart-stopping novel of secretsbetrayal and desire, perfect for fans of Louise Candlish and Lucy Foley.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon

thehouseparty

REVIEW:

When I saw the comparisons between this book and those of Lucy Foley, I knew I had to read it, and I wasn’t disappointed. The House Party has all the twists and turns and intrigue you could wish for in a mystery thriller, and I flew through reading it.

Another big draw for this book was its setting on the Isle of Wight. Living just a short hop over the water, I visited the Isle of Wight many times growing up and it was lovely to see so many familiar places included.

The House Party features a cast of incredibly complex characters, each with deeply hidden secrets, which some of them will go to extreme lengths to protect. At different times through the book, I believed each and every one of them would have been capable of murdering Kathleen.

Beth was a tricky character for me – there were times when I wanted to shake her and tell her to go the police with everything she was finding out, but most of the time, I could totally understand her almost obsessive need to uncover the truth herself, and I suspect I would have reacted in a similar fashion in her situation.

The House Party moves from a slow, simmering tension to fast paced action, keeping the reader permanently on their toes, not knowing who to trust, from start to finish.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The House Party Mary Grand Author PhotoMary Grand is the author of five novels and writes gripping, page-turning suspense, with a dark and often murderous underside. She grew up in Wales, was for many years a teacher of deaf children and now lives on the Isle of Wight where her new novel, The House Party, which will be published by Boldwood in July 2020, is set.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

BookBub

Website

Check out the other blogs taking part in the tour for more information.

The House Party Full Tour Banner

Book Review

The Mechanical Maestro – Emily Owen

I have something a bit different for you today as historical fiction meets steampunk in The Mechanical Maestro by Emily Owen. Many thanks to Emily for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour.

BLURB:

London, 1857.

Brothers George and Douglas Abernathy are clockmakers who are barely scraping a living in their family’s shop. They are also brilliant inventors with a sideline building custombuilt androids and other technology ahead of its time. Their sixteen-year-old sister, Molly, is also a genius, specialising in transformative plant biology, but earns her keep by sewing.

The Abernathys’ fortunes improve dramatically when the brothers invent a clockwork automaton composer named Maestro, whose musical artistry takes London by storm. But there are those who believe Maestro is a fake, and others who think him a monstrosity.

As Maestro tries to make sense of the world of London’s high society which he is thrown into, he incites the interest of sinister figures who would go to any lengths to discover what makes him tick.

Immerse yourself in the world of three brilliant siblings and their musical automaton, Maestro.

The Mechanical Maestro is the first book in an upcoming series following the adventures of the Abernathy family and their clockwork creations.

This novel is sure to delight fans of historical fiction, steampunk, music lovers and engineers alike.

The Mechanical Maestro Front cover

REVIEW:

When you pick up The Mechanical Maestro, you enter a beautifully detailed world, and meet a cast of extraordinarily colourful characters. Alongside this, you have a story of discovery and intrigue as people plot to get their hands on the titular Maestro.

The eccentric Abernathy family are instantly appealing, George and Douglas with their incredibly advanced automata, and Molly with her (sometimes out of control) botanical experiments. I was particularly fond of Douglas and Molly, but George is a character I found a little harder to fathom – I look forward to getting to know him better in the upcoming books in this series. In my mind their home and shop is a higgeldy-piggeldy affair full of nooks and crannies and strange contraptions. It felt like the kind of place you could spend hours exploring and still not discover all of its secrets.

As well as being story about the talented Abernathys, The Mechanical Maestro is also a tale of their most advanced creation to date, the wonderful Maestro himself, and I was delighted to see that there were chapters in the book told from his point of view. As I was reading, I could almost here the music he composed, and it created a kind of ache to hear it for real. Watching him discover the world and his place in it, and his attachment to Douglas was incredibly endearing.

Emily Owen’s writing has a charm to it that put me in mind of both The Binding and The Toymakers in different ways, and I know she is an author I will return to time and again.

The Mechanical Maestro Back Cover

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Since completing her Masters by Research, Emily Owen has worked as an Archives Assistant at the University of Huddersfield. She lives in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part on this tour.

Mechanical Maestro BT Poster

Book Review

Hinton Hollow Death Trip – Will Carver

It’s time for another Orenda published book, as I join the blog tour for Hinton Hollow Death Trip, by Will Carver. Many thanks to Will and Orenda for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

It’s a small story. A small town with small lives that you would never have heard about if none of this had happened.

Hinton Hollow. Population 5,120.

Little Henry Wallace was eight years old and one hundred miles from home before anyone talked to him. His mother placed him on a train with a label around his neck, asking for him to be kept safe for a week, kept away from Hinton Hollow.

Because something was coming.

Narrated by Evil itself, Hinton Hollow Death Trip recounts five days in the history of this small rural town, when darkness paid a visit and infected its residents. A visit that made them act in unnatural ways. Prodding at their insecurities. Nudging at their secrets and desires. Coaxing out the malevolence suppressed within them. Showing their true selves.

Making them cheat.

Making them steal.

Making them kill.

Detective Sergeant Pace had returned to his childhood home. To escape the things he had done in the city. To go back to something simple. But he was not alone. Evil had a plan.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Hinton Hollow Death Trip Cover

REVIEW:

I have grappled with writing this review for some time – in fact it has been twelve days since I finished reading to now where I find myself finally ready to put words into sentences. This is not because I didn’t enjoy the book by any means, just that it is one of those books that is so totally brilliant in its construction that it completely blows your mind. Even now, I am fairly sure that whatever I say here simply won’t do the genius of Will Carver justice.

Hinton Hollow Death Trip marks the return of Detective Sergeant Pace, a character who I first met in the equally brilliant Nothing Important Happened Today although this is in fact his third outing. I really need to backtrack and read Good Samaritans, the first book in the series, although that said if you haven’t read the series, this book stands up perfectly well as a standalone.

The short disjointed sentences make for snappy reading, and although there was a part of me that wanted to heed Evil’s warning and turn away while I still could, there was a larger part of me that felt compelled to keep reading and find out just why I was being told to run for the hills!

Our narrator for our brief sojourn to Hinton Hollow, Evil himself, is a curious character. He feels almost reluctant to enact his true nature, wishing humans could be better, kinder, so that he needs to cultivate less evil to create a balance. However, in a world where genuine goodness is rare, and what was normal is now good and what was bad is considered normal behaviour, he feels compelled to create worse and worse acts, and this is not something that seems to sit comfortably with him. Although the innate evil of the human race is chilling, there is a dark humour to Evil’s observations and narration, and he has a surprising amount of empathy and a strong sense of justice. Over the course of the book, I found myself seeing not, as expected, a character to dislike, but instead one that I grew rather fond of in a strange way.

Hinton Hollow is a book full of uncomfortably truths, and Carver once again proves that he is an expert at tapping into the human mind, and getting right under the skin of his readers.

The worrying thing is that Hinton Hollow could so easily be the town I have lived in for my whole life, right down to the finer details of the cash machine theft, and reading it made me wonder just how far we had slipped from the safe, friendly place of my childhood.

Hinton Hollow Death Trip is not a light read, not a particularly comfortable one, but it is this that make it such a great book. It is far too near the knuckle to be easy reading, but it is a fascinating look at how little ripples can change people and entire communities forever. As unsettling as it was, it was totally gripping and I couldn’t put it down.

Anyone else who has read this book already, please feel free to get in touch. I have things I need to discuss that I cannot mention here without spoilers!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Will Carver 2Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Facebook

Orenda Books

Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part in the tour for this fantastic book.

FINAL Hinton Hollow BT Poster

Book Review

Deadly Wishes – Rachel McLean

I am delighted to once again welcome Rachel McLean to my blog, as I join the blog tour for her latest book, Deadly Wishes. Many thanks to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Meet Zoe Finch, West Midlands Police’s newest Detective Inspector. She’s outspoken, ambitious, and damaged. And she’s working a case that could make her career, or cost her everything…

Fresh from the success of the Canary investigation into depravity and corruption at the highest levels, Zoe has attracted attention. Not least from Assistant Chief Constable Bryn Jackson.

But when Jackson is brutally murdered on the night of his retirement party, Zoe is dragged into a case that’s deeply personal.

All the evidence points to the victim’s downtrodden wife, who has secrets of her own. But Zoe begins to suspect all isn’t as it seems. Could Jackson’s death be linked to the Canary case? And what is her new boss, DCI David Randle, hiding?

Seeking out the truth will force Zoe to confront her own past and put her career, and her team’s lives, on the line.

Deadly Wishes is a gritty crime thriller perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Caroline Mitchell, and the BBC’s Line of Duty.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

FZF1 cover 0.1

REVIEW:

As you will all know by now, I am always eager to read anything that Rachel McLean writes, and I am never disappointed when I do. Deadly Wishes is no exception to this, and I thoroughly enjoyed it – it’s not the first time that Rachel’s books have kept me up for most of the night because I just can’t stop reading, and I am sure it won’t be the last.

Deadly Wishes, book one of the Detective Zoe Finch series, shows a different side to Rachel McLean’s writing, and in some ways it feels a lighter read than her previous books – although it feels strange to say that given the subject matter. Where her other books have a slow burning, almost sinister undercurrent running through them, Deadly Wishes is more upfront and faster paced, and I think this is perhaps why it feels an easier read (that and the fact that I can’t resist a good crime drama in any shape or form).

In Bryn Jackson, we are presented with a thoroughly unlikable murder victim, who in all honesty, I had absolutely no sympathy for. His murder made for a fascinating plot because there were just so many people who had good reason to want him dead – even when I thought I had it all worked out, I was never 100% certain, nor, as it turned out, was I even close to actually having worked it out. Personally speaking, I prefer it if I haven’t solved the crime myself, so this was perfect for me.

Zoe Finch is a character who I instantly connected with. A little unsure of herself in her new role, Zoe is someone who doesn’t always make the right decision, or even the sensible one, but it is these flaws that make her feel so real. I really enjoyed the relationship she had with her team, and I am keen to see how this develops as the series progresses.

This is a series that has the potential to grow and grow and I look forward to reading future instalments.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

rachel mcleanMy name’s Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.

What does that mean?

In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.

Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?

My books aim to fill that gap.

If you’d like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub. I’ll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I’ll let you know when my books are on offer.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Website

Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in the tour for more thoughts on this book.

Deadly Wishes Full Tour Banner

Guest Posts

Space Academy – Hannah Hopkins

I’d like to give a very warm welcome to Hannah Hopkins, who has kindly written a guest post on her mission as a writer, as part of the blog tour for her MG Fantasy novel, Space Academy. Many thanks to Hannah for taking the time to do this, and also to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

It’s the year 2100. Earth is dying. A young woman, Elsie, has risked everything to get her newborn son, Will, aboard ‘The Mayflower’ – a spaceship that will transport a select number of people to a new planet they can call home. Elsie’s luck takes a turn when she discovers the captain of ‘The Mayflower’ is an old friend. He allows her to board with her son, giving them a place on the luxurious Floor One, where they live amongst the most honoured of ‘The Mayflower’s’ passengers.

Thirteen years later, and Will is ready to start school at Space Academy, an institute specialising in subjects such as Alien Studies, Technology, and Rocket Control. While a pupil there, Will starts to uncover secrets about his father’s death, becoming wrapped in a mystery that he and his friends must solve if they are to have any hope of saving humanity from the threat that lies in wait.

Lose yourself in this brilliantly addictive novel as it takes you on a journey through the stars. But be warned – you might be surprised by what you find.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Space Academy Cover

I’ll pass you over to Hannah now so she can tell you all what she wants readers to take away from her stories.

As a writer, first and foremost I want to entertain my readers. I fell in love with the magic of the written word at a young age, and have since spent my life either buried in books or my own imagination. Giving somebody the opportunity to escape into a different reality and explore another world brings me such joy, and I love the idea that my readers can connect to characters and settings that I have invented. It’s like sharing a piece of your imagination or a piece of your soul, and it creates a unique and enduring bond. I love it when readers become invested in my stories, and hearing phrases like ‘when is the sequel?’ or ‘I felt really sad when I finished the book,’ is so rewarding! I know how it feels when I fall in love with a novel, and knowing I can give that to someone else is giddying.

 In terms of a message, I think the most valuable thing I can give to readers is the feeling they are not alone. Whether they befriend the characters in their mind or simply relate to what they’re growing to, I truly believe the best power of a story is allowing you to feel as though you are understood. The idea that as human beings, we all experience the same hardships is incredibly unifying, and helps release the burden of thinking we are the only ones who struggle. Stories can help us make sense of our own lives. They use beautiful prose to summarise ideas and feelings we cannot articulate, and make us feel a part of something bigger. They give us hope when we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and help us believe in the magic and mystery of life. Part of my mission as a writer is to reach people who feel alone and give them something that eases their pain. Whether that is a piece of entertainment or a deeper message of support, a story is a tremendously important and valuable tool.

 Recently, I have tried my hand at writing as advocacy. As a young woman, the feminist cause is incredibly important to me, and is something that I have become deeply passionate about. I have always been fascinated and saddened by the stories of well-known women in history, and I started to imagine how things might have been if we had had more power. I started writing about a fictional world, where inherited power is passed from woman to daughter instead of father to son, and began to realise the issues I was exploring in the novel are extremely relevant to real life and modern society. If I can create a gripping and immersive story which also serves to further a cause I care about, then I feel I will have completed my mission as a writer! Writing makes the world a better place, and it is a privilege to be able to tap into that power.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Space Academy - hannah hIn 2017, Hannah Hopkins released a self-published novel entitled ‘The Split’; the story of four teenagers navigating life after Earth as they journey through space to a new planet. Two years later, the book was picked up by ‘The Conrad Press’ and re-vamped as ‘Space Academy,’ with a new cover, new title and new additions to the story. ‘Space Academy’ was released in 2020, kickstarting Hannah’s career as a writer.

Hannah is currently busy writing a historical fiction novel with a feminist twist. She spends the rest of her time working at a University and caring for her two young children in the UK.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook

Instagram

Website

Have a look at the other blogs taking part in this tour for more on Hannah and Space Academy.

Space Academy Full Tour Banner

Book Review

Empire’s Reckoning – Marian L Thorpe

When I heard that Marian L Thorpe was writing a follow up trilogy to Empire’s Legacy, I was over the moon, and I am delighted to be able to introduce it to you all today, as I join the blog tour for Empire’s Reckoning, the first book in the new series. Many thanks to Marian, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

How many secrets does your family have?

For 13 years, Sorley has taught music alongside the man he loves, war and betrayal nearly forgotten. But behind their calm and ordered life, there are hidden truths. When a young girl’s question demands an answer, does he break the most important oath he has ever sworn by lying – or tell the truth, risking the destruction of both his family and a fragile political alliance?

Empire’s Reckoning asks if love – of country, of an individual, of family – can be enough to leave behind the expectations of history and culture, and to chart a way to peace.

BOOK ONE OF THE EMPIRE’S REPRISE SERIES

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase Link

Empires Reckoning front cover

REVIEW:

Let me start by saying if you haven’t already read the Empire’s Legacy trilogy, go away and do that now, and then come back to read this review. Although I think there is enough backstory in Empire’s Reckoning for it to make sense if you picked it up with reading the first trilogy, you will be missing out on a really wonderful series if you don’t read it, and it adds so much depth to this book too. I also thoroughly recommend reading the novella Oraiáphon in between the two trilogies. It is a wonderful book, and offers a deeply emotional insight into what happens immediately after the Battle of the Taiva at the end of Empire’s Exile. It also works as a really good way of easing you in to the narrator change that occurs for Empire’s Reckoning.

Getting back to Empire’s Reckoning, I am pleased to report that I loved this book just as much, if not more, than the Empire’s Legacy trilogy. It has a gentler, more emotional feel to it than the first trilogy, which I feel is reflective of the differences between Lena and Sorley’s personalities. Sorley has long been a favourite of mine and him picking up the narrative felt like the perfect way to move forward. Empire’s Reckoning is a tale of love and shared history, and could really only be told by a scaeli of Linrathe.

Picking up some years after the end of Empire’s Exile, Empire’s Reckoning offers a fascinating look at what happened next for some of the much loved characters, and gave an insight into how they had changed and grown in the intervening years. That said, as much as liked reading about where everyone was now, it was the slow unpeeling of the years between the two books that I really enjoyed, seeing how each of them got to the point they were now at, and unveiling the intricacies of their relationships and betrayals.

Often with fantasy and alternate world books, it is easy to completely separate them from the reality of the world that we live in, and I think it is testament to Marian L Thorpe’s writing skill that this book really made me stop and think about various prejudices that exist throughout the world, and how these can be set aside to create something better.

I could gush about this book for ages, but that would eat into valuable reading time for you, so instead I will let you head off to your favourite outlet for books so you can buy all five of the books set in this wonderfully rich world and settle down for a few happy days reading.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Empires Hostage AuthorNot content with two careers as a research scientist and an educator, Marian L Thorpe decided to go back to what she’d always wanted to do and be a writer. Author of the medieval trilogy Empire’s Legacy and the companion novella Oraiáphon, described as ‘historical fiction of another world’, Marian also has published short stories and poetry. Her life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history informs her novels, while her avocations of landscape archaeology and birding provide background to her settings. Empire’s Reckoning is the first of a planned trilogy, Empire’s Reprise.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Make sure you visit the other blogs that make up the tour for this book.

Empires Reckoning Full Tour Banner

Guest Posts

The English Wife – Adrienne Chinn

In the second of today’s guests posts, I am delighted to welcome Adrienne Chinn to my blog, along with lots of seriously tempting photographs! Many thanks Adrienne for taking the time to write a guest post for me, and also to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part in the blog tour for Adrienne’s book, The English Wife.

BLURB:

Two women, a world apart.

A secret waiting to be discovered…

VE Day 1945: As victory bells ring out across the country, war bride Ellie Burgess’ happiness is overshadowed by grief. Her charismatic Newfoundlander husband Thomas is still missing in action.
 
Until a letter arrives explaining Thomas is back at home on the other side of the Atlantic recovering from his injuries.

Travelling to a distant country to live with a man she barely knows is the bravest thing Ellie has ever had to do. But nothing can prepare her for the harsh realities of her new home…

September 11th 2001: Sophie Parry is on a plane to New York on the most tragic day in the city’s history. While the world watches the news in horror, Sophie’s flight is rerouted to a tiny town in Newfoundland and she is forced to seek refuge with her estranged aunt Ellie.
 
Determined to discover what it was that forced her family apart all those years ago, newfound secrets may change her life forever…
 
This is a timeless story of love, sacrifice and resilience perfect for fans of Lorna Cook and Gill Paul.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

The English Wife Hi Res Cover

Now, without further ado, here is Adrienne to tell us about eating like a Newfoundlander, and those photos I promised you.

Bread is the staff of life, so they say, but Newfoundlanders don’t limit themselves to a single fundamental like bread. Oh, no, m’dear. Newfoundlanders love their food, and I couldn’t write a book where half of it is set in Newfoundland, without talking about food (and drink, of course). If you visit, be sure to try bottled iceberg water!

In The English Wife, Florie is constantly cooking up hardy Newfoundland staples like Jiggs Dinner and stew and dumplings. Ellie, trying to navigate herself around her new life as a fisherman’s wife in a remote outport after the war, is faced with learning how to make salt cod and brewis (pronounced “brews”) with scrunchions.

So, exactly what are some of these local culinary delights? Jiggs Dinner is a favourite weekend dinner meal. You place a whole piece of corned beef in a pot on the hob with enough water to cover the meat. Cook for several hours until tender, then add cabbage, carrots, potatoes, swede, turnip… and boil. Then eat. I like mine with HP Sauce.

I remember growing up on fish and brewis as a kid in Newfoundland – I teethed on Purity hard tack biscuits – biscuits literally as hard as rocks, which, when soaked overnight soften into a dense bread which becomes brewis. Cooking up fish and brewis is easy – soak the hard tack overnight in one pot, and the salt cod in another. Change the cod water again in the morning and simmer until cooked.  Then you heat the hard tack until it comes to a boil and drain it. Cook up some chopped onions and diced salt pork in some butter, add the flaked up cod and fry it all up with the brewis until golden. Believe me, this is very tasty.

Newfoundland is full of delicious berry plants, from red partridgeberries and orange, raspberry-like cloudberries to the best blueberries on the planet – tiny balls of blue deliciousness. You haven’t had a blueberry until you’ve had a Newfoundland blueberry. Here’s an easy recipe for Newfoundland blueberry duff (a steamed pudding):

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups (500 grams) of flour

3 tsp baking powder

½ cup (170 grams) sugar

½ tsp salt

½ cup milk (235 ml) whole or half-fat milk

1 egg

¼ cup (85 grams) unsalted butter

1 cup  (340 grams) fresh blueberries

Preparation:

Cream butter with sugar, salt and egg with a mixer. In a separate bowl combine flower and baking powder. Add milk and the flour alternately to the butter mixture. Fold in blueberries. Note: If you use frozen blueberries, these will stain the whole pudding blue. Grease a pudding bowl with some butter and pour in the batter. Cover with greaseproof paper or aluminium foil tied with a string or held in place with a large elastic band. Put a couple of inches of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Set in the pudding bowl and cover with a lid, letting it boil for about 1 ½ hours. Be sure it doesn’t boil dry – add more water if necessary. Place the bowl upside down on a rack to cool for 15 minutes then slowly lift off the bowl.

Sweet Sauce:

Ingredients:

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

¼ tsp salt

1/3 cup (115 grams) brown sugar

1 cup (470 ml) boiling water

¼ tsp vanilla

Preparation:

Melt the butter in a pot. Add flour and salt and stir till smooth. Add brown sugar, stirring constantly. Remove the pot from the heat and add boiling water. Stir till smooth. Place pot back on the heat and continue to stir until it comes to a boil. Add vanilla and serve with pudding and clotted cream. Yum! A million calories but worth every one.

If you don’t have time to cook up a Jiggs Dinner or make a blueberry duff, just do like a Newfoundlander and grab a couple of Jam Jams and a mug of tea with Carnation tinned milk and a few teaspoons of sugar. You’ll be a Newfoundlander in no time.

If you visit Newfoundland, be sure to stop by these terrific restaurants if you want to taste some delicious Newfoundand food: Norton’s Cove Café in Badger’s Quay, The Bonavista Social Club on the Bonavista Peninsula, Fogo Island Inn on Fogo Island, and Mallard Cottage in St John’s.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The English Wife Author PhotoAdrienne Chinn was born in Grand Falls, Newfoundland, grew up in Quebec, and eventually made her way to London, England after a career as a journalist. In England she worked as a TV and film researcher before embarking on a career as an interior designer, lecturer, and writer. When not up a ladder or at the computer, she can usually be found rummaging through flea markets or haggling in the Marrakech souk. Her second novel, The English Wife — a timeslip story set in World War II England and contemporary Newfoundland — is published in June 2020. Her debut novel, The Lost Letter from Morocco, was published by Avon Books UK in 2019. She is currently writing her third novel, The Photographer’s Daughters, the first of a 3-book series, to be published in 2021.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part on this tour.

The English Wife Full Tour Banner

Guest Posts

War Bringer – Aaron Hodges

Happy book birthday to Aaron Hodges and War Bringer, and welcome to Aaron who has written a fascinating guest post for us today. Many thanks to Aaron, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the birthday celebrations.

BLURB:

Centuries ago, the world fell.
From the ashes rose a terrible new species—the Tangata.
Now they wage war against the kingdoms of man.
And humanity is losing.

Recruited straight from his academy, twenty-year-old Lukys hopes the frontier will make a soldier out of him. But Tangata are massing in the south, and the allied armies are desperate. They will do anything to halt the enemy advance—including sending untrained men and women into battle. Determined to survive, Lukys seeks aid from the only man who seems to care: Romaine, the last warrior of an extinct kingdom.

Meanwhile, the Queen’s Archivist leads an expedition deep beneath the earth. She seeks to uncover the secrets of the Gods. Their magic has been lost to the ages, yet artifacts remain, objects of power that could turn the tide of the war. But salvation is not all that waits beneath the surface. Something else slumbers in the darkness. Something old. Something evil.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Warbringer Cover Final

Now I will hand you over to Aaron to talk about plotting versus pantsing in fantasy writing (which is perhaps the perfect guest post for me at the moment!)

They say there are two types of writers—plotters (those who carefully plot out every detail of their novel before writing a single word) and pantsers (those who make things up as they go along). in my experience in discussions with my author friends, I’ve found this to be more or less true, with the exception that its less of a duel choice and more of a continuum between the two.

Certainly, there are elements of epic fantasy novels spanning multiple characters and grand plot arcs that are likely to require a certain amount of plotting before hand in order to create a coherent story. That’s not to say it can’t be done—if I’m honest, most of my first trilogy was written while I was pantsing in my early days as a writer. However, that series required a lot of rewriting when the time eventually came to publish it, in order to remove dues ex machina scenes and create a more cohesive plot.

For my later series I’ve managed to find what I think is a good balance between plotting and pantsing. I usually by a pantsing mind map session in which I put down every interesting scene I can think of that might fit into the realms of my story. This usually takes place over the course of a week and I’m always having to jot down ideas on the go, as you never know when one will come to you! After that, I then begin to connect the dots, so to speak, and work out what order the scenes come together. Once I have a skeleton of a plot in place, I’ll start to write outlines for each chapter/scene in the story that will help trigger my writing in the coming months.

At the point I have about two thirds of my chapters outlined, I begin to feel confident about starting to write. On the first draft, while I have those outlines to follow, I often find myself veering off-track because of plot points that didn’t work or characters that develop a life of their own (I’m serious, some of my characters over the years have been a real pain!). For this reason, I generally write my first draft as quickly as possible and don’t worry too much about details in this early version—as often chapters will need to be completely rewritten or even deleted in later drafts.

Which brings me to the second draft. By this point I have usually developed a good understanding of my main characters, so I am able to return and rewrite earlier chapters to ensure a clean plot arc throughout the book. I’ll also add in more important details, names (sometimes I just leave them blank in the first draft!), and settings

Once the second draft is complete, I send it off to my editor who finds all my repeated words and incorrect grammar, before I go over it one more time myself. In the third draft I am mostly just polishing sentences and paragraphs to make sure they flow, as well as hopefully catching spelling mistakes—although my proofreader and ARC readers then have one last read over the manuscript to catch the last of these.

And walluh, I have a complete book!

When I’m working full-time, all of that generally only takes me 3 months from start to finish.

Not bad ay?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Warbringer Aaron Hodges Author PictureAaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and explore the world. During his travels he picked up an old draft of a novel he once wrote in High School (titled The Sword of Light) and began to rewrite the story. Six months later he published his first novel, Stormwielder, and hasn’t looked back since.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Facebook