Saturday, 21 February 2015

The Calgary Chessman by Yvonne Marjot

Happy Saturday! 

I'm delighted to day that this blog has just had a kick-start again and it couldn't have been by anything better! 

(I have quite a few reviews to catch up on so it might seem like lots of buses have arrived at the same time!)

I've just finished reading The Calgary Chessman by Yvonne Marjot. This a superb 5* read from Crooked Cat Publishing.

Here's what I thought:

5 *

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. The pace throughout is great as the story of Cas and her life on Mull is unveiled. The geographical detail is excellently done, for me, and gives me a wonderful picture of what’s in front of Cas. The historical aspects of the Viking/Norse legacies in the Western Isles of Scotland are sufficient to whet the appetite to find out more. Reading the book made me want to dig out my own set of Lewis chess pieces to compare MS. Marjot’s Queen with my own replica queen. There are some twists and turns to the story which make the whole premise very believable in today’s world. The story is very well written and well edited.

 I don't hesitate to recommend you buy yourself a copy!


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Temporarily not in use...but just for a while.

My apologies for the underuse of this blog. My time for posting on this blog, during the second half of 2014, was seriously tight.

We'll see how 2015 reveals itself but my intentions are to re-use it again.

Watch out for updates...


Monday, 4 August 2014

Diamonds and Dust by Carol Hedges

Victorian Life through a modern lens.

I recently read Diamonds and Dust by Carol Hedges and these are my thoughts on it: 

The writing style I found more like an extended play script, yet it is not a play. I could easily imagine a narrator just off stage- perhaps in a box as would have been in a Victorian Music Hall or Variety Theatre – egging on the reader to interact, shout and bawl. The Victorian Melodrama isn’t left out either in this fast moving plot with quirky trips over Victorian bridges. 

When I accepted the unusual style, I found the novel an engaging and entertaining read. I’ve read a number of paranormal novels recently -this doesn’t fit and yet the perpetrator is not normal either. Carol Hedges doesn’t leave aspects all to the imagination but she does leave the events blurred enough to make you wonder what isn’t told in the story. 

I enjoyed secondary characters like Oi who made a tragic, and probably typically short, life seem very day to day; the character names imaginatively chosen.  There are so many scenes, names and situations that are so familiar they have a ‘borrowed’ ticket on them, but they are skilfully woven into the refreshing style that is Diamonds and Dust. 


Thursday, 31 July 2014

Vienna- Does Keira Love it or not?

A Facebook friend mentioned having a great holiday in Vienna, so today I'm sharing an excerpt from Topaz Eyes. 

At this point in the novel, Keira Drummond is on her own in Vienna. Though she's come to the city to seek a meeting with Teun Zeger's third cousin she has time to spare to do some sightseeing. The problem is she thinks she's alone but is she?

Instead of walking back to her hotel, Keira hopped onto the Ring-tram as it squeaked to a halt outside the impressive museum frontage. Entering through the middle doors, she punched her ticket and squeezed her way to the rear of the car. It was jam-packed, but she found an empty seat when a couple made an impromptu late choice to get off at the stop, jumping up in a flurry. As she settled down, her gaze drifted to the front of the tram. Just before the doors closed and the car slid into motion, a man forced his way through the closing space at the front doors.

            Oh God! That shit again?

            Panic set in. She stared out the window for guidance, from who knows what, or whom. The grip on her bag threatened to break the leather strap, her fingers trembling against her chest.

            Rat in a trap.

            Not absorbing a thing outside, she willed calm to descend. She was being ridiculous again. The back of one hand snaked up to towel her sweaty brow. The tram was packed full of people, the man trailing her couldn’t do anything to her while she was on… but when she got off? Her eyes tracked her surroundings. Wide open.             
 Squelching down her fear, she made plans. Exit really quickly, so fast her hunter would be unable to follow her. He was still wedged down near the front and that was a good thing. Wasn’t it?

            Oh God! Why was the tram so hot? The window close to her was open, but she felt as if she was a tasty bit of meat on a spit… just ready for the picking. Or more like the meat in amongst all the vegetables on a plate: her pursuer the fork, poised and ready.

            Having got on at the Museumplatz area, she guessed the tram might get less busy by the time it reached the University quarter. That was a good few stops ahead. She had to get off before then to lose her shadow. Once she lost him, she could do normal things like... find somewhere to eat? She felt nauseous already. Drawing on reserves of strength, she fought back the bile threatening to erupt and concentrated on the elusive being-normal thing.

            According to her guidebook, there were plenty of good restaurants around the area called Schottenkirche, and it wasn’t too far from her hotel. She yanked open her map so fast a split screeched down the middle. Her eye movements were feverish as she blinked to a clear vision, one finger tracing her route. When her tram passed along the Rathaus Park, she could get off and walk down the street named Schottengasse, and stop at some place when she was sure the man wasn’t following her.  

            She avidly scanned to confirm her bearings. When the car hissed to a halt at the next stop, lots of people around her were exiting. Finding no street name, she swallowed her alarm. She must be at Schottengasse already! How did that happen?  Scrambling from the seat, she ducked down as low as she could and followed the queue. When she was almost out of the door, she leaned to the side to track her snowy-haired follower.

            Her stomach almost heaved up its contents. He’d forced his way to the nearest doors. Panic overtook her; her foot froze on the lowest step, her body fully out of the vehicle. In slow freeze frames, her pursuer got off. A pile of travellers surged behind him and forced him to move further onto the pavement. 

            Keira’s chin whipped around. No-one exited behind her. Zipping back inside, the doors hissed to a close before the tram wheezed into motion. Thumping down onto the nearest seat, her eyes gravitated to the window. Her stalker speed-walked alongside the tram. She was terrified. He looked furious. Now he wasn’t just a white head as his features imprinted on her memory banks. An aquiline nose sat above tightly-drawn thin lips. Strong blue eyes flared his anger. 

            Keira shut her eyes tight. She couldn’t look out the window any more. Her hand willed the rapid pulse at her neck to still. Involuntarily, her lips curled up in a nervous smile. Her nerves were still a jingle, but she also felt exhilaration, a heady excitement. She’d lost him. Steeling herself to be braver, she scanned the street up ahead. He’d have to run much faster to keep up since the stretch they were travelling on moved alongside the edges of the Rathaus Park, now a greater distance between the tram stops.

            That was confusing.

            Pulling up her map, she checked again. A genuine smile of delight split her face; her body slid even further down the vinyl seat, beginning to relax a little. All those people had exited at the Burgtheatre, the city theatre, and there was still a bit of park to pass along before the next stop. She wasn’t near Schottengasse yet. Relief flooded as the tram clicked into an even faster pace. No-one got off or entered at the next stop. Keira heaved a sigh of relief when there was no sign of her shadow alongside.

            Her legs trembled like mad when she got off at Schottengasse.  As she walked down the fairly major thoroughfare, she willed her nerves to calm. She sporadically scanned back on her speed-walk, relieved there was no sign of her pursuer. After a few long blocks, she slowed her pace and regained her breath. She couldn’t truly appreciate the marvellous architecture around her, though she tried. When she was close to the Schottenkirche, the local parish church, she selected a place to eat.

To find out what happens next...grab a copy from:

Crooked Cat Bookstore
Barnes And Noble: 


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Deep Deception by James North

 My thoughts on Deep Deception are...

 Don't get lost in the crowds in a huge demonstration!

Or you might find that dreadful things happen to you. However, the general public may not be given the real truth of what has occured if your dead body is the evidence that you've been there...or maybe even been somewhere nearby.

Accidental death? Or deliberate murder?

Deep deception is spattered with incidents of questionable causes. You have to read the novel to get below the surface of what is transpiring in the politically volatile situations the characters find themselves in. 

World ecological summits are potentially hazardous for those who may be able to expose details which may be globally catastrophic. 

This was a very enjoyable read which lured me in. The pace throughout is excellent, and the topic is one which is very believable in this contemporary world. The lives of the most senior members of organisations who attempt to combat global warming and ecological issues may well be under many different sorts of threats on a daily basis but the public will only hear about them if serious enough to hit the main headlines, or if a situation is exposed as a political disaster. The plot was intriguing with plenty of political machinations to entertain along the way. The character of Caroline Dupre is well rounded- she’s a lady of many talents who can keep her head in difficult circumstances. Other characters are less likeable, the villains of the piece. However, I really liked the way James North has imbued some shreds of conscience into the hit-men dedicated to duty and into the pursuit of financial gain regardless of the task involved. 

In the past, I haven't read much of the political thriller genre but Deep Deception makes me want to read more.

Kill Zone
A highly contentious international conference on climate change triggers a wave of assassinations, but the killing of one particular political activist throws human rights worker Caroline Dupré unwittingly into the center of a deadly conspiracy. Before long, she is in a race against time, struggling for her life against killers hired by one of the world's most powerful men.

The killers are closing in and Caroline is running out of time. Can she expose the diabolical plan, before it is set in motion?

Will she survive?


Monday, 28 July 2014

If You Only Knew

Monday Moments with... Zanna Mackenzie 


As first of a new series of promotional days for Crooked Cat novels, I'm welcoming Zanna to tell us about her novel - If You Only Knew.  

Faith owns The Coffee Pot in the outdoor adventure sports mecca of Derbyshire’s Peak District. She hasn’t had a man in her life for a while, as she’s been too busy serving cakes to weary rock climbers and mountain bikers to find time for the complications of a relationship with the male of the species.
At least, that’s what she tells herself. The truth is that since she got her heart broken she’s had problems trusting men.
When she meets Zane, one of the new owners at the Carrdale Extreme Sports Centre, Faith finds herself enjoying his company even though part of her can’t help wondering why he’s so reluctant to talk about himself.
Then the past comes back to haunt her in the shape of Zane’s business partner Matt, who just happens to be the guy who broke Faith’s heart all those years ago.
With Matt out to cause trouble and Zane keeping secrets Faith’s life is about to get very complicated indeed…
Buy links:
Grab a copy of If You Only Knew:
*Amazon UK
*Amazon USA

Book extract:
“I guess that’s the man you’ve been waiting for.”
Sophie nudged Faith, almost knocking the fresh-from-the-oven apple pie from her hands, and pointed towards the door.
Faith chose to ignore the double meaning behind her friend’s words. She wasn’t waiting for any man, not in the romantic sense anyway, and certainly not a guy who reminded her of Aaron. Her café, which she had created from scratch six years ago, was hosting the meeting of the local Tourism Association. And the guy currently making his way towards her was Zane Ferguson, one half of the new ownership team of the Carrdale Outdoor Activity & Extreme Sports Centre. She’d reluctantly phoned him a few days ago when he’d arrived in the UK and invited him to the meeting to give everyone an update on the Centre.
“Faith, right?” he said, extending his hand and hopping onto one of the stools in front of the café’s counter. The hand was firm, slightly rough to the touch and warm. It was strangely comforting. “I’m Zane. Good to get to put a face to your name at last.”
Faith nodded, even though she was anything but pleased to put a face to the name of Zane Ferguson. What kind of a name was Zane anyway? It sounded all-American, as though he should be something like a baseball player, a superhero, or a cowboy – certainly not an English extreme sports instructor. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Sophie giving Zane the once-over. Sophie knew all about Aaron, knew every detail of what had happened…

Author bio:

Zanna Mackenzie lives in the UK on the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.
Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!
If You Only Knew is Zanna’s third novel; her previous books The Love Programme, and How Do You Spell Love? were both published in 2013.
Find out more about Zanna on her blog, on Twitter via @ZannaMacKenzie or on Facebook at
Follow Links:
Find out more about Zanna at:

Thank you for visiting today, Zanna, and best wishes with your writing.  


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Whom Evil Touches


It's a Welcome Wednesday author interview over on my main blog today and the writer being interviewed is the lovely D.E. Royce,  author of the murder mystery- Whom Evil Touches. I was fortunate enough to get to know D.E. a few months ago and was able to sample the novel prior to it's launch in June 2014. I thoroughly enjoyed the plotline and the varied and very interesting set of characters.
Here's my 5* review of the novel but carry on reading because you'll also be able to read short snippets from the book. 

I found this a very intriguing and enjoyable novel-one which I wanted to read on without interruptions. There’s excellently written narrative, great dialogue between the many different characters involved, it has a complicated plot that kept me guessing till the end, with plenty of tension to grip the reader in its clutches. I found myself asking questions at different times during the reading as in “Who is the murderer?” and “Can there be more than one murderer?”  I made a guess quite early on about which character had done such dire deeds - a guess which turned out to be accurate. However, by the time I was around half way through the story, I doubted my choice, and favoured another, this situation having been engendered through D.E. Royce’s skilful weaving in of other possible candidates as the murderer. There are a number of plot twists which are beautifully crafted, the entangled interactions between characters driving along the pace of the story. It’s easy to empathise with Will Kennedy and to want a good resolution for him by the end of the novel. His wife, Judy, on the other hand, is not really a character who appeals. Freddy Nunn is a very complex character with a lot of hang-ups – not too likeable either. Other characters are also well portrayed with all their little foibles on show, the writing of all this very well crafted. There are many misdeeds to resolve over the course of this entertaining novel. 

I recommend it for lovers of the murder mystery genre, and to those who enjoy a great story. 

Follow D.E.Royce via her WEBSITE
Buy from AMAZON

D.E. Royce was born and raised around the bay area of Quincy, Massachusetts. After graduating from nursing school she married, raised two children, and devoted her time to family and learning the art of landscape and still life painting. After earning a BA in Communications she began writing short stories and spent the remainder of her nursing career as a clinical liaison and composing health care related documents.
“I was one of those children who loved to draw and write. For most of my life, I’ve held some type of tool in my hands related to creativity, including cooking utensils, gardening tools, pencils, paper, books and paint brushes. Living around Quincy Bay and the marshlands is inspiring and I’ve spent many happy hours sketching and landscape painting there. In fact, it was the marshlands that provided the inspiration for Whom Evil Touches.” 
Ms. Royce continues to live in Massachusetts, exhibits her paintings in several galleries and is working on her second novel.

Murder. Deceit. Lies.
Judy Lydon Kennedy led two lives. One her husband Will knew about, the other protected by her constant gamesmanship and smoldering anger. But when the police discover bits and pieces of her body, it's her husband the detectives finger as the prime suspect until they begin to dig deeper into her hidden life.
It turns out that Judy had a very special relationship with a fellow employee at the bank - a female who just happened to dump her shortly before Judy's disappearance and grisly return. Now the investigators must sort through those connected with Judy: a misguided, pathological liar who was in love with her, the bi-sexual lover at the bank, and the blackmailed bank president who had every reason to shut Judy up for good.
As the secrets of Judy's twisted life begin to emerge, a series of revelations bring with them a K-9 handler and his detection dog to shed light on who murdered Judy - and why. And for Will, it will bring a long lost flame to his side - and just maybe free his spirit once and for all.

A sensitive and thought provoking, first rate murder mystery filled with surprising twists and inventive turns. Whom Evil Touches is a top-notch page turner of whodunit that will keep you guessing until the final, shocking, revelation.

Excerpts from Whom Evil Touches…               
Will Kennedy had not always been at peace with himself, the law, or cops who enforced its boundaries on his long-past adolescent behavior. Once he grew up and finally ceased-fire on himself and a society he once so bitterly loathed, he realized that he had learned from it in more ways than one. Will knew that the headache he had now was just a sample of the one he would have after filing the missing persons report for his wife. His past would raise a red flag and the cops would be swarming around him like hornets.

Ginger checked in the mirror the look of her naked body, admired what she saw, but resisted the urge to fondle herself. There was no time; the detectives were due any minute. So she adjusted her bra and celebrated her appeal with a sip of scotch. Ginger was in the mood for sex, not discussion, and the more the merrier. She hoped that luck was on her side and that the detectives were nothing more than a couple of sex starved civil servants.

Detective Swenson gazed at Ginger and spoke up. “You know that Judy is missing, and we have reason to believe she’s dead.”
Ginger finished her wine and let out a laugh. “Boo-hoo. Any more questions?”

Freddy Nunn lifted his binoculars, fine-tuned the focus and scanned the neighborhood. Maureen Feeney was on vacation, so he ignored her bedroom.”

Ted slammed the notebook on the table. Freddy jumped. “I asked you a question, Freddy now what about it? Were you rolling around in the sack with Judy Kennedy?” He leaned towards Freddy and whispered. “It’s so easy to find things out. Forensic investigations are today’s way to go. A little DNA leaked on a sheet, a search warrant. Do you watch CSI or Law and Order?”
Freddy pulled off his ranger hat, blotted the sweat from his forehead and wiped the tears from his eyes. “It was supposed to be so wonderful. Judy was going to divorce Will and marry me.”

Attorney Charles Sudanski glanced away from his notes. “I know your marriage was on the rocks for a long time, Will, but was it that bad? I’m not sensing much grief.”
Kennedy ran his fingers through his hair, suspecting what Sudanski was thinking: would a jury understand? “Charlie,” he said firmly. “I’m not going to act like some grieving husband that I’m not. I’m sorry for the way she lived and sorry for the way she died. But I’m not sorry she’s out of my life. You’re going to have to find a way around it!”

Alfred Locke’s lips tightened. “Yes, I’m afraid Judy was having an affair.”
Detective Swenson’s eyes widened with interest. “Is he here? We need to talk with him.”
Locke leaned his head to one side, methodically massaging his right temple. “You’ll be speaking with a she not a he. Her name is Ginger Stoolman and she took the day off.”

Freddy Nunn anxiously approached the letter. It quivered in his trembling hands as he fumbled for the light switch. He sank into a chair and began to read. A prickly chill spread throughout his body. Freddy gawked at the words, read them aloud, to himself, and aloud again. While his teeth chattered, his body shook and quaked until, suddenly, it stopped. Nunn felt nothing. No words crossed his mind and he moved no muscles. Quite and alone he sat in the gathering dusk – his thoughts as bitter as a winter’s wind – his soul as cold as ice.
 Best wishes to D.E. and thank you for featuring here today.