A new Crooke and Loch story escaped into the rainforest …. the first time I have ever published in three formats, the e-book, the paperback and the new baby a hard cover format edition.
There are two problems with the hard cover version. One for me, the other is for you.
My problem is with the set up. All my paperbacks are in the 8 x 5 inch layout beloved of major publishers of paperbacks such as Penguin. The closest available from the ‘Zon for their hardback format is 8.5 x 5.5! That means a separate Word manuscript for each. Not hard to do but a pain.
The other issue that comes with the change of template size … is the need for a size new cover. To add to the pain there it has to have much wider safety margins. “No problem!” just resize the images.
Nope, you need them to fit in the guide lines.
No problem Amazon have templates!
Yes, but at the minute they are for the paperback formats and sizes and don’t fit, as you are told in an overnight e-mail. Ages spent creating, uploading and adjusting to get the right; dimensions, content in the right place and getting rid of the stuff on the standard templates.
So after hours of labour … here it is …
The downside for you the customer … the rather hefty price compared with the e-book. Three pints rather than some change from one.
Then again, it will take longer to ingest than the drinks … even after the bars, pubs and clubs are re-opened
Death Beside the Seaside (A Lady Hardcastle Mystery Book 6) by T E Kinsey (author)
Tiny Flo’ and Lady Hardcastle are back!
On holiday in wonderful Weston, the dynamic duo find themselves embroiled in a multiple murder, spy, hotel mystery. Lots of murders, most of the guests at the hotel involved in espionage and the biggest mystery … who are Chub and Perch or is Antelope and Gazelle? Maybe Flo was correct to name them Leftie and Rightie after their gun hands.
An other rollicking adventure, revealing more of the past adventures of Lady H and her tiny companion, that bustles along like a hat in the breeze along Weston Promenade. At least it prevented Flo’ getting bored waiting for the tide to bring the sea to her!
As ever another fun read, just pipped to book of the month.
A fabulous read 5 Stars
The Reed Ferguson Series: Books 1-3 & Books 4-6 by Renee Pawlish (author)
A couple of box sets, the start of at least 18 stories featuring “not quite a rich boy anymore” detective Reed Ferguson. (Book 5 reveals why!)
The cast of characters are laid down in book 1 and they remain very true to themselves throughout, no sudden super-powers … then with Goofball Brothers as main support players; you wouldn’t expect them too. The plots are all different even if Reed’s technique, a bit like Dick Francis’s detective Sid Halley’s “crash about a bit until someone beats me up”, approach.
I found them to be easy to read and kept me turning the pages.
Good reads 4 Stars
See You at the Bar (A Harry Gilmour Novel Book 5) by David Black (author)
Harry Gilmour continues to fight his war beneath the waves of the Mediterranean. Except in this story he is on the surface of the sea much of the time. His would be nemesis, The Bonnyboy, is still trying to kill the one and only officer who knows the truth about his final patrol.
A less tension riddled tale than earlier books. Instead you worry for poor Harry’s mental and physical health and that of his crew as the submarine is pushed well beyond the normal deployment.
A bit weaker than normal from David Black
A final fling, 3 (+1/2) Stars
The Prisoner’s Key (Glass and Steele Book 8) by CJ Archer
This is really a Steele and Steele book, picking up the story soon after Matt and India return from their honeymoon. A metal magician wants to work with India to create new spells, then he becomes embroiled in a murder. India, Matt and the rest of the crew set out to provide the police with the identity of the real killer.
If you have enjoyed the previous seven stories, you’ll like this one too. It doesn’t, however, give you a reason to read on if you have lost enthusiasm for the series.
A fun read 4 Stars
The Last Dance (The Near-Earth Mysteries Book 1) by Martin L. Shoemaker
The Captain of a ship on an endless voyage is charged with mutiny by the military forces under the control of BIG money. The very junior Inspector General, Park Yerim, is the only inspector available in the narrow time frame available to conduct an independent investigation.
Park gathers testimony from the diverse crew, painting a complex picture of Captain Aames’s character: his heroism, his failures, even his personal passions. As the investigation unfolds, Park finds herself having to hold off powerful interests, each pushing and pulling her in a different direction to the one she wants to pursue. Corruption, conflicting loyalties, and clashing accounts make it nearly impossible to see the truth in fifty million miles of darkness, and Park faces danger from every direction. All eyes are on her: one way or another, her findings will have astronomical implications for all involved
A classic country house style mystery, just the country house is missing. A well-told, enthralling story.
Undoubtedly The Book of the Month 5 Stars
Other Halves (Hannah series Book 2) by Nick Alexander
A typically well crafted book by Nick Alexander. A marriage falls apart when Hanna leaves husband Cliff for his brother James. Cliff then has to struggle, coming to terms with suppressed feeling from his teenage years. In the middle of this turmoil is Luke, the only child and weapon of choice for the warring couple.
An eclectic bunch of books caught my eye this April. Here we go
In the past, I have read most of the genuine Dick Francis books. The Sid Halley stories being in among the best of them. I was tempted into this one by while doing some research for a story.
Sadly, Felix is not his father. The book moves forward in leaps and pauses. The character of Sid has changed, much more than marriage and fatherhood alone should have done.
The secondary characters get very little development, even Chico becomes a cypher of his former self.
If you are new to the Francis canon, it is a perfectly acceptable ripping yarn, but …. 3 Stars
I read this as an almost new book while serving in the RAF and enjoyed it. Many years later I read Starship Troopers the story it was supposed to be antidote too.
Re-reading on the Kindle it was just as engaging as i remembered. The story follows Private Mandella as he manages to reach the heights of command simply by being just one of just two people to survive 2000 years of war, the other is his lover of choice. Haldeman manages to avoid the cliches of war fiction, by leaving most of it out. Probably as a result of being a Vietnam veteran. The end is a clever twist too.
A Good read. 4 Star
The Burning Issue of the Day
The return of Lady Hardcastle delighted me.
It meant one of my favourite characters was back to, the diminutive, violent and supreme deflator of the pompous, Lady H’s maid, Flo.
The story appears to have been carefully researched and is a well written cosy mystery. If murder, arson and explosions are cosy.
Tucked into the mix are some wonderful observations on the class structure from the pocket lady’s maid. Plus there is a little bit of the history of the suffragette movement to round out the mix.
Well worth reading the whole series.
The return to form continues 5 Star fun
You Then, Me Now
A cleverly constructed tale of two visits to the Island of Santorini. (The Greek island where they take the classic white house, blue sea tourist pictures.)
For Becky, the two trips are a lifetime apart. For Laura, it is a painful return to try and find closure for the loss of the love of her life on the island.
Nick Alexander cleverly keeps the two stories separate and yet allows the reader to see how interwoven they are. Without revealing too much of the plot, let’s say there is a twist in the tail that I didn’t see coming until very close to the reveal.
Mr Alexander manages to weave an abusive, controlling, alcohol addicted character through the story. The hardship of life for the Greek people in the post-bail-out economy features too. This is not all the fluffy Shirley Valentine paradise.
An Excellent Read, worth every one of 5 Stars
A Dead End (A Saints & Strangers Cozy Mystery Book 1)
Keeley Bates, Annabel Chase
As the blurb says “Kit Wilder is all washed up at the ripe old age of twenty-three. Blackballed by the producers of her hit TV show, she returns home to the affluent town of Westdale, chock full of Mayflower descendants, to enroll in college and lead a quiet life…until she discovers a skeleton in her house.” An absurd plot, ex-TV Cop helps solve murder. PS Mother is stinking rich, the must know person in town. The whole concept stinks.
On the other hand it is written with a deftness of touch that allows the authors to get away with a romantic lead … called Romeo.
Fun, a lot of good clean fun. 4 Stars
Going Home: The Barely Normal Life
It’s not a novel, it is not even a good TV script (which is what it looks like)
No review, I didn’t read it beyond a few pages.
Funny, appalling, appealing and very contemporary … Classic Nick Spalding.
Kate and Scott have a wonderful fun-filled marriage. The partying hard and enjoying the odd drink, they drink a lot to find the odd one they enjoy. Sadly for them, it is destroying their lives, their marriage and their daughter’s life. Until their daughter posts a video of Christmas at home on the web …
The infamy is enough to get the couple onto the wagon … Can they stay there, can survive a year? What do the thousands of follows of various online gurus think ..
A funny moving story with a moral.
It hurt, I’ve cut back on the booze. 5 Stars
It has been a busy period, has December and November 2018. What with the new covers for the Uncovered Policeman books having to be done, uploaded and approved by Amazon.
Then there was finishing The Uncovered Policeman:THE LONG ROAD in time for the publication date 23rd December … so two months reading in a single post. Buy it
The Body In the Dales (A Yorkshire Murder Mystery Book 1)
The Quartet Murders (A Yorkshire Murder Mystery book 2)
The Body in the Dales is an interesting whodunnit. Featuring a taciturn, cultured, separated DCI who has a reputation for solving complex cases by taking the path less travelled. A new DS joins the team and they set off to solve the murder of a thoroughly disliked potholer. The caver’s body has been found at the bottom of a cave complex but since he was dead before his body dumped. Lots of suspects with motive, but the means and the opportunity?
The Quartet Murders once again features DCI Oldroyd and DS Carter and starts with a violinist being shot on stage while the DCI is watching and the disappearance of the very valuable Stradavarius at the same time takes the story into the murky world of collectable musical instruments.
Lots of suspects with motive, but the means and the opportunity? (sound familiar) Lots of description of another DCI’s sweet eating habits, the violin is always called the ‘Strad’ no variation, The Violin, the instrument, the precious antique whatever.
Security expert Logan Kennedy flies into Schiphol airport to be met by Marianne and the first moments of a romance starts. The story is set mainly in the Rotterdam area against the background growing extremism, From Environmentalist, Radicalised Muslims and Right Wing Political Parties. Logan is here to protect an oil company from attack.
The other two girls are from the Muslim tradition, one very westernised the other trying to escape a strongly orthodox family.
So there are the ingredients for the story.
The plot weaves its way in and out of the characters lives, the oil company which they all work for providing the link until it reaches its conclusion. There is very little tension in this easy to read novel so it is a romance, with social comment rather than a thriller A Good Read 4 Stars****
The Filey Connection (#1 Stanford Third Age Club Mystery)
David W Robinson
Joe Murray, Cafe Owner, Curmudgeon, Divorcee, President of the Stanford Third Age Club and Amature Detective, gets involves in the hit and run killing of a member of his club. The killing has left a space on the Club’s weekend trip to Filey. A space Eddie Dobson is keen to fill. Then things get worse.
On the downside, the characters, especially Joe, failed to engage me and I never developed an interest in them.
I picked this because the whole series was high in the Amazon charts. It turned out to be a bit of a potboiler whodunit, with no tension in the story. I’m not going to be reading the other 15 books in the series.
Well, others like it 2 Stars**
More Unsworth Manor Nudes
The follow up to the original Unsworth Manor story starts at the other end of world war 1.
The Manor is up for sale and American War Hero Avery Montague is looking for a new home in the United Kingdom. A match made in heaven?
Well, it is after Avery finds a document left by the late Lady of the House.
A full on Cosy International Crime story, with a sprinkle of a Romance (or two, you old dog “War Hero!”)
It would benefit from another run through by the author. Great Story, Could read better 4 Stars ****
The Mortal Word
The latest instalment of the tales from the Invisible Library has been on my pre-order list for months. I was slightly disappointed in the end. The characters are all there, Irene the Librarian, Kai the Dragon princeling, Vale the human detective and Silver the Fae. Once again they all meet in a world that is foreign to them all. This time they are there to save a peace conference between the Fae and Dragons.
The plot is well mapped out and keeps you engaged throughout but where has the quirky humour, that had silverfish attacking Irene in book one, gone? All the threats to the lives of the heroes were all too real. Hopefully the absurd will be back for book 6. A Slightly below par Good Read 4 Stars ****
The Lodger – The sequel to Requiem for a Page Boy
When you open an Andrew Calow book expect to find a convoluted story littered with classical music references and a smattering of incidental social nudity.
This book is no different, it ties together the Holding Briefs loose ends and the Brothers Head with many of the characters from Requiem for a Page Boy.
It is a well-crafted story, that twists and turns as much as the River Thwait on its way to Kingsthorpe Harbour, past a repurposed pub and on the North Sea.
Yes I enjoyed the book, even as it swung into areas that in the end had nothing to do with the story … this time
December Book of the Month 5 Stars *****
Live From The Northsea and Other Places
Tales from ships with tall masts. Stuart Vincent worked as a radio engineer on several pirate radio stations during the 1980s. The book is his recollections of his time with the Voice of Peace, Radio Caroline and Laser. The author is a radio engineer so not surprisingly, if a little sadly, we learn more about RF Modulation than we do about the personalities of his shipmates, what they ate, how they lived and how they stayed sane for periods of up to twenty-nine weeks stuck on a ship in the Northsea with irregular supplies of … well, everything. These things are touched on but never developed.
It is an interesting, if slightly chaotic, account of one man’s experiences. Sadly that is the downfall of this book as a read. It is very poorly edited, stories begin in one chapter and then again in another, only this time with an ending. Still if like me you are an Offshore Radio nerd it is an important record of the time and the technicalities of the ships.
An Interesting Read if you are Interested 3 Stars ***
The Watchmaker’s Daughter (Glass and Steele Book 1)
The Mapmaker’s Apprentice (Glass and Steele Book 2)
The Apothecary’s Poison (Glass and Steele Book 3)
C J Archer
The slightly magical stories of the Watchmakers Daughter, Londoner, India Steele and her struggle with her magic, her employer American (or is he an English Lord) Matthew Glass’s uncertain future and the romance between them. Matthew has to find Chronos another magical watchmaker the only person who can stop him dying. However, Chronos has disappeared and there are other people in pursuit of Matthew. They are seeking to take revenge on him for other actions in his past. No wonder the romance is in denial!
Very well written and very engaging main characters I read the first three of the seven stories on the bounce. I’ll be reading the rest soon, I expect Joint November Best Read 5 Stars *****
Announcing the New Cover Art for the Rags to Riches Series
I have been fortunate to be given permission to use the images from Andrew Chambers to use as the cover art for the Rags to Riches (the Uncovered Policeman) books.
Andrew, who was the creative talent behind Chamber Cards and now runs Chambers Concrete, making concrete candle in Byfleet in the UK. Sounds whacky but take a look, I recommend them for that ‘awkward’ gift purchase. https://www.chambersconcrete.com/
So the New Covers
Starting with the original story ….
We meet PC Adiscombe and he meets Beatrice Johnson
The Second Story
A holiday in the South of France … Hand luggage only?
Ted ,great job, once again. Having read Andrew’s books recently made the story that much more enjoyable. I was also impressed with the Stonewall Jack storyline. I know Bea really pushed your patience in this one but it was well worth it. I also made sure to recommend Andrew’s trilogy in my review because without his good work this story wouldn’t have been possible
Once again excellent addition. I’m sure you’re getting ready for the summer season. It won’t be long. It’s already pushing 90F here, so it shouldn’t be much longer now for you. Scott
Email Subject; Re: Made for TV
Thanks for the great review of the new book, I might have been able to do the story without Andrew’s book BUT having said in a review of one of them that it had the makings of a good TV drama … I asked Andrew for permission and we batted the idea around for a few messages which helped focus me on Rags to Riches story rather than Holding Briefs.
Bea wasn’t too bad really. Although she was a bit tangential at one stage and I had to chop quite a bit of the story out. It was Rags wanting to tell another story that was the problem! Then Fran and Jerry were on at me … and the ‘foundationers’ who you’ll get to meet one day soon.
It looks like the weather starts to change next week … so I’ll have to get busy on the pool and the garden (or get Jerry to do it!!)
This is the one that might have been out of sequence, but it appears to have a sequel in preparation.
We meet Penny Bristol, a young woman with known but suppressed magical talent, standing outside a church in New Orleans. She is supposed to be attending a magical retreat. Somehow the dates have gotten confused. Preparations for a battle between good and evil are underway. The question is who’s side should she be on?
After having accidentally helped to turn a coven of witches into zombies she ends up hiding in a cupboard while a pitch battle rages around her. Being found by a self declared ‘good guy’ another young woman dressed in leather armed with a gun and sword she survives and is taken into the care of an older couple of ‘mages’ (magicians).
From then on we follow her tale as she tries to return to her old life, correcting the grammar on public notices with her friend Veronica, for example. However, her magic won’t let her and soon the corrupt Magicians Guild of Seattle have her in their sights.
Pace, humour and a strong internal logic hold this well written story together. A very entertaining read I’ll give it
A Good Read
I then followed back to the parent series, starting with;
Born in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy Book 1)
By KF Breene
The lead character in this series is a certain leather clad, sword wielding, female Super Natural Bounty Hunter, Reagan. As you may have surmised this is the same self proclaimed ‘good guy’ who appears in Natural Witch.
There is far more to Reagan, as learn across the rest of the series …
and that is a problem with trying to do a review of a series like this. The books are pretty well continuous and to review Fused in Fire without giving spoilers on the earlier stories is rather tricky. So I won’t go there other than to say that the journey to the Cracks of Doom in Fused in Fire is very derivative of the Lord of the Rings, not that that is a bad thing in its self!
If you enjoy magic, dragons, vampires and unicorns with a bit of violence and a twist of humour …. You should find the whole trilogy worth the read!
Three Good Reads!
All four KF Breene stories are free for Kindle Unlimited.
Just to prove that not everything gets a rave review
The Hundred Grand Banana (A Raucous Giles Curtis Comedy)
The third Mirror Earth series from the prolific pen of Paul Z Walker. This tale of travel between largely benign friendly worlds, all called Earth takes a twist and arrives at the beginning. Meanwhile the wicked Prof Holgar, the principle of the Laboratory where we started (on ‘our’ Earth) is still in pursuit of his dinosaurs that live on the first Mirror Earth. Add in strange ‘going ons’ at Ayers Rock, flowers with power and data, a few Aliens and we are dashing across curved, distorted time and Space with out rockets or pockets!
Announcing the publication of The Uncovered Policeman: Made for TV , Rags to Riches book 9!
The 9th book in Rags to Riches series is to be released on the 13th April.
Yes, Friday the 13th! A very inauspicious day for launching a new book or is it? To compensate for all the bad luck associated with the Friday 13th, a chance to read this happy story at a great price.
Available NOW for pre-order at a special price of
(The normal price, £2.99 will apply after publication!)
An email from an old friend piques the interest of Rags the Uncovered Policeman (retired).
I have had a visit from an old neighbour of mine and Gill’s, from back in the day. A guy called Ian Francis. He works in the TV industry, something to do with making light entertainment programmes. He is looking for a venue to make a drama programme. He visited us but after we had talked it through we decided that we couldn’t offer consistent enough weather for making a drama over several weeks.
Consequently, I suggested your place in early spring might be better. He said he would get in touch. It all seems really genuine, unlike some of the documentary programs we get asked to participate in. Give him a listen.
The popular holiday destination, L’Abeille Nue. A naturist resort in the French countryside between the historic cities of Carcassonne and Narbonne.
Who is making the show?
What is it all about?
What help is needed?
Who else involved?
How will it help their business?
Will Rags and Bea do it?
What a fabulous story, told through the eyes of one woman the story of the ‘Night Witches’ an all female bomber regiment of the Russian army from the start of the German invasion of Russia to the fall of Berlin.
It is a well written and captivating romance set against the barbaric background of the bloodiest fighting of World War 2. Both Katya and Vanna are serving as fliers in the Russian forces in separate war zones, so this is a long distance affair!
The strength of the female characters when confronted with deprivation, humiliation, hatred and violence, and all that from their comrades in arms, is impressive.
I enjoy this story from almost the very beginning to almost the very end.
I’ll give it 4+ Stars
The second story from the Kindle Family Share is set over much the same period of history is:
Set in France during the second World War this book follows the lives of two sisters as they struggle to survive under the brutal Nazi regime that followed the fall of France in 1940.
The murderous attacks on the refugees escaping the fall of Paris, the treatment of the Jews and Communists and their transport to the concentration camps. The appalling hardship of the women left behind, the lack of food and energy for cooking and heating.
One sister struggling with a family to protect, the other, the black sheep, trying to fight back. In the background the father who was destroyed by the 1914-18 conflict and was unable to care for his girls. The young communist criminal prepared to kill any and all who try to stop him.
An ending worthy of being called an ending making the difference.