Friday 31 January 2020

Till Morning Is Nigh by Rob Parker @robparkerauthor BLOG TOUR @Endeavour_Media #BrackenIsBack

Dragged half dead from a river, Ben Bracken, fugitive ex-soldier, is in a bad way.

But, too valuable to discard and too dangerous to set free, an old friend offers him a choice: abandon his identity and become a desk-bound advisor to the National Crime Agency, or go back to the prison he broke out of – a place where he is extremely unpopular.

Bracken is forced to accept – and he’s becoming a different man.

But all this changes when, days before Christmas, an undercover narcotics officer is murdered in horrific circumstances, and only Bracken has the inside track on the key suspect. Throwing himself into the fray, Bracken finds himself in a very present-day ideological conflict, uncovering a plot which has huge implications for both Manchester’s political, socio-economic landscape, and the nation at large – coming to an explosive conclusion amidst the twinkling fairy lights and frost-tipped boughs of Christmas Eve...

Till Morning Is Nigh by Rob Parker is published by Endeavour Media. My thanks to the author, and the publisher who sent my copy for review, and invited me to take part on this Blog Tour

I'm a fairly new covert to Rob Parker's Ben Bracken series, and I reviewed the previous one in the series; The Penny Black back in September last year.

Once again, I've been totally blown away by this author's wonderful way with words; there's a brutal beauty in some of his descriptions of people, and place that add so much to the enjoyment of reading.

Ben Bracken has moved on, quite a long way to be honest. He's settled in Manchester and is now a father. He's also using an assumed name and has been contracted to advise the National Crime Agency. This is a different side to Bracken and it was interesting to get more of an insight into his character.
However, whilst Bracken may have changed his life; the world is still turning. Still crime, still hate and still people to put away.

I don't like to get all political, but I think it's ironic that I'm reviewing this one on 31 January 2020 - the day the UK leave the European Union. Things have changed since the results of referendum back in 2016, I've seen things and read things written by people that have totally opened my eyes. Maybe I was blind back then, but the level of hate within communities has certainly ratcheted up, in my view, and Rob Parker has captured these tensions and changes so very well within his story.
Back to the book .... and, the reason I mentioned Brexit.  Bracken finds himself caught up in a grimy, murky underworld that revolves around hate. Ex military guys; extreme right wing and shocked that 'their country' has changed so much. They are hell bent on changing it back, and nothing will stand in their way.

Once again, this clever author has written a no-holds-barred, punchy, gritty crime novel. He's incorporated some really important messages here; especially about community, and how extreme beliefs can cause terror and mayhem.

Action-packed, wonderfully written with a lead character who gets under the skin! 

Robert Parker is a married father of three, who lives in a village near Manchester, UK. The author of the Ben Bracken books A Wanted Man and Morte Point, and the standalone post-Brexit country-noir Crook’s Hollow, he enjoys a rural life on an old pig farm (now minus pigs), writing horrible things between school runs.

He writes full time, as well as organising and attending various author events across the UK - while boxing regularly for charity. Passionate about inspiring a love of the written word in young people, he spends a lot of time in schools across the North West, encouraging literacy, story-telling, creative-writing and how good old fashioned hard work tends to help good things happen.

Website :
Twitter : @robparkerauthor

Thursday 30 January 2020

Develop Your Brand ~ Training for Writers ~ KURIOUS ART @AnnaCaig #BrandDevelopment #MediaTraining

Develop your brand and reach more customers: the ultimate training day with Anna Caig

​Writers write. That is what you do. But what happens when your creation is complete and you’re ready to share it with the world? How can you ensure it reaches the widest audience possible? 

What is a personal brand? How can you create one and use it to find more customers? Do you need your own website? How do you choose the right social media channels for you and what content should you be sharing?

Many creative people see their work and the marketing of their work as two separate things. But this workshop will get to the heart of why you create and use this to build an effective marketing strategy.

The workshop also includes an introductory session of media training, which is all about understanding the rules of engagement when you work with the media, and will help you feel more confident in an interview setting. It’s not just about the traditional media these days, though. Creatives are now faced with a wide range of opportunities to communicate. Whether this is through simple video content for your own website or taking a guest slot on a podcast, this training will help you focus, convey your messages and, most importantly, feel as relaxed as possible doing so.

About Anna Caig 

Anna Caig has worked in communications for 16 years, specialising in media relations, corporate reputation management and strategic marketing campaigns. 

By day she is Head of Communications at Sheffield City Council and MA Journalism tutor at The University of Sheffield. By night she writes crime and historical fiction, and reviews books for the Sheffield Telegraph and on her blog Murder Underground Broke The Camel’s Back.

Anna has trained media spokespeople to deliver information in the most challenging and high pressure situations. She began her training business to support writers to build their brand and reach more readers. She now works with traditionally, indie and self-published writers, as well as helping creatives in any discipline find a wider audience. She helps people spread the word about their work in a way that is authentic to why they create in the first place.

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Forgotten Royal Women : The King and I by Erin Lawless @rinylou @penswordbooks #BookReview

Great women are hidden behind great men, or so they say, and no man is greater than the king. For centuries, royal aunts, cousins, sisters and mothers have watched history unfold from the shadows, their battlefields the bedchamber or the birthing room, their often short lives remembered only through the lens of others.

But for those who want to hear them, great stories are still there to be told: the medieval princess who was kidnapped by pirates; the duchess found guilty of procuring love potions; the queen who was imprisoned in a castle for decades.

Bringing thirty of these royal women out of the shadows, along with the footnotes of their families, this collection of bite-sized biographies will tell forgotten tales and shine much needed light into the darkened corners of women's history.

Forgotten Royal Women : The King and I by Erin Lawless was published in February last year by Pen & Sword Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I read quite a lot of non-fiction, often dipping in and out of the book over a few weeks. I do like to discover things that I know little about, and I certainly knew nothing about the majority of these forgotten royal women.

Erin Lawless writes about thirty women, ranging from Scota; a pseudohistorical character in Irish and Scottish mythology, right through to Princess Charlotte; the only child of George, Prince of Wales (later to become King George IV) and Caroline of Brunswick.

Erin Lawless writes in a very accessible way. All too often, non-fiction can be a little like reading a school text book, but she really engages her reader. The short chapters, almost conversational in style are both interesting and easily understood.  I found it interesting to read about how the Royal lineage has changed down the centuries, whether because of death, or marriage.

At the moment, the media is full of stories about our current Royal women, and I found it fascinating to compare and contrast how Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex is being portrayed in today's press. She certainly will never be a 'forgotten royal woman', and I wonder how many of those featured in this book would be better remembered if they'd lived during times of Social Media?

This an ideal way to begin to find out more about these forgotten women. The book has certainly sparked an interest for me. I was particularly interested in the stories of Eleanor Cobham and Princess Charlotte.

The book is illustrated with black and white portraits of the women, and line drawings of scenes from their lives.

Erin Lawless is the bestselling author of several works of contemporary fiction with Harper Collins. 
A Classicist by training, graduating from the University of London, Erin decided to combine her love of a good narrative with her love of history, blogging regularly about any fascinating historical titbit, anecdote or personage that appealed. 
With her trade mark humour and just a smidge of irreverence, Erin gives the bite-size biography a modern and accessible flavour. 

Find out more at
Twitter @rinylou
Author Page on Facebook

Monday 27 January 2020

Chasing Hares by Christina James @CAJamesWriter BLOG TOUR @saltpublishing @EmmaDowson1 #ChasingHares

Gordon Bemrose, a shady local businessman who lives in a large house on an island in the River Welland, decides he can make easy money from the property by using it for Country House murder weekends. For the first, introductory, weekend he recruits ten people from very different backgrounds: Ava and Reggie Dack and Lizzie and Jackson Fox, two self-made couples from Essex; Sonia and Richard Renwick, respectively a successful beautician and her husband, who is a failed writer; Dora Westerman, a lady of indeterminate age and obviously very slender means; Amelia Baker, an English literature student; and Margarett and Colin Franklin, a mixed-race couple of modest origins whom all the others look down upon. Reluctantly assisting with the festivities are Patti Gardner, Gordon s niece, who has been roped in to speak about the work of a SOCO, and Anton Greenweal, his nephew, who has achieved instant fame on a TV reality show and will be the lead actor in a short play to be performed during the weekend. The play is central to Gordon s plans: he intends it to be based on a popular farce, but with a macabre twist as its finale.
Events take an unexpected turn when a real murder takes place; and DI Yates, investigating, discovers that each of the guests had an ulterior motive for participating in the crime weekend. Everyone on the island becomes a suspect, including Patti, his former girlfriend. Meanwhile, an epidemic of hare coursing is sweeping the county. This illegal and cruel sport is pursued by cynical gamblers who bet high stakes on whose dog will catch the hare. On her way back to Spalding police station from a meeting in Bourne, DS Juliet Armstrong discovers a badly-wounded Saluki that has been abandoned by hare coursers and is determined to bring them to justice.
The eighth DI Yates novel is a modern take on the country house murder story; it also explores the crime of hare coursing, which is currently top of the agenda for police forces in Lincolnshire.

Chasing Hares by Christina James is published by Salt Publishing.
My thanks to the publisher who invited me to take part on this Blog Tour today. I am delighted to welcome the author to Random Things today with a fabulous guest post that's all about Lincolnshire!

Soldier Bob, Golden Age Crime and Hare Coursing: Chasing Hares, the new DI Yates novel
Chasing Hares is unique among the DI Yates novels in that its two (related) plots were both suggested to me by other people. 
In the summer of 2018, I called in on my friends Madelaine and Marc, who live in a very old cottage at the edge of Spalding, just at the start of Cowbit High Bank and a stone’s throw from the bridge that crosses the River Welland at Little London. There is an island in the river on the Cowbit side of the bridge. Locally it’s known as St Catherine’s Island, but I – or, rather, the crooked protagonist of Chasing Hares – have called it Holyrood Island in the novel. 
It was a hot, sunny day. Anthony and Marcus, the current residents of the house on the island, run the Spalding water taxi during the summer months and had offered us a trip up the river. Before we set off, Anthony showed us round the house and made coffee. As we sat in the garden outside, I said I had almost finished writing Gentleman Jack and the conversation turned to what I should tackle in my next novel. 
I can’t remember who suggested I should write about this island: it was Madelaine, Marc or Anthony, or a combination of all three. Marc, who’s a fount of knowledge when it comes to the local history of Spalding, said he’d heard there used to be a row of small cottages on the island – hovels, really – and that a retired soldier had lived in one of them between the wars. Local people called him Soldier Bob. Anthony had heard this story, too. 

Cottages at Locks Mill on St Catherine Island (now demolished)

Reputedly the soldier was half-crazed – he was probably a First World War veteran suffering from shell-shock – and trigger-happy. He was also a recluse. He didn’t take kindly to having people disturb him. Someone approached his cottage one day and Soldier Bob shot the man dead. Anthony’s version of this was embellished by the detail that the victim was the postman and Soldier Bob had shot him through the letter-box. 
Soldier Bob was arrested and tried for murder but acquitted – and presumably taken into care – on the grounds of insanity. I found this story fascinating, not least because of the humanitarian verdict delivered by the jury at the trial. Particularly at that period, the people of Lincolnshire were better-known for their conservatism and staunch support of establishment values than letting offenders off the hook. It was astonishing, therefore, that this jury had taken an enlightened view of a murder committed by someone who was probably suffering from PTSD, long before the term itself was invented. Soldier Bob’s acquittal belongs to the period when the top military brass still considered that the army had been perfectly justified in shooting World War I deserters suffering from shell-shock; and was years at least thirty years before the death penalty for murder was abolished. 
Listening to the tale of Soldier Bob, I could see that setting the next novel on the island offered great possibilities. I didn’t want only to tell the tale of Soldier Bob, however – though it is mentioned in Chasing Hares – because for some time I’d been toying with the idea of writing a novel that drew inspiration from the Golden Age of crime fiction, but with a modern twist. 
A popular device used by Golden Age crime writers – I mean authors such as Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, and my favourite, Dorothy L. Sayers – is the country house crime story. It has a lot to recommend it: a group of people gather in a country house, usually secluded and some distance from civilisation; a murder is committed; one of the people present must have been the murderer; all turn out to have had motives for killing the victim; and the reader is titillated along the way with accounts of gracious living, exquisite dresses, sumptuous picnics, fine dinners, afternoon tea, torrid love affairs, the lot. 
I thought it would be interesting to create a modern-day version of such a gathering, spiced with a little bit of irony; and, to update it further, and as a double irony, instead of depicting an upper-class social event, to make the reason for the gathering a crime mystery weekend. Instead of being presided over by a suave and cultured society hostess, the party in Chasing Hares is hosted by a perennially mean and crooked wheeler-dealer, Gordon Bemrose. Instead of representing high society, his guests hail from humbler – and in some cases, dodgier - walks of life; and, like their more august Golden Age country house counterparts, all are potential murderers. Instead of being entertained by a chamber orchestra or string quartet, their entertainment is a play, a bowdlerised version of Arsenic and Old Lace, put on by the local amateur dramatic company but starring Gordon’s actor nephew, Anton Grunweal. 
The second part of the plot was suggested to me by a policeman who has been following my blog for some time. He contacted me to say that the biggest single problem modern rural police forces have to deal with, particularly in East Anglia and parts of Northern England, is hare coursing. I’ve since carried out quite a lot of research on this, and it’s a truly horrific crime. It’s not just the hares that are hurt – they’re horribly mutilated by the dogs before they die – but also the dogs themselves. They’re often badly injured by colliding with each other or spraining or breaking their legs by trying to follow the hare as it changes course rapidly to try to throw them off the scent. There’s nothing ironical or tongue-in-cheek about the hare coursing passages in the novel – they’re deadly serious.

All the members of the Lincolnshire police force I’ve communicated with while writing Chasing Hares have been friendly, humorous and approachable. They’re good fun and obviously get on well with most of the Lincolnshire folk they meet (the hare coursers mostly come from outside the county). I feel sure that if they’d known Soldier Bob, they would have approved of the result of his trial. As for Bob himself, I’d very much like to know how his story ended. It would be nice to think that he made a complete recovery, but somehow I doubt it: he’d been ill for too long, and the treatment available at the time would have been primitive. One thing is certain: he never returned to St Catherine’s Island. 
© Christina James, January 2020.

C.A. James was born in Spalding and sets her novels in the evocative Fenland countryside of South Lincolnshire.  
She works as a bookseller, researcher and teacher.  
She has a lifelong fascination with crime fiction and its history. 
She is also a well-established non-fiction writer, under a separate name. 

Twitter @CAJamesWriter

Friday 24 January 2020

Spirit Of Prophecy by Jill Hughes BLOG TOUR @BooksByJJHughes @CameronPMtweets #SpiritOfProphecy #Giveaway #Competition #Win

If you murder your soulmate to save your tribe, when and how will revenge and retribution arrive? Karma is coming for you.Olympic event rider Juliet Jermaine may run, but can she hide……? 
A gifted psychic but an emotional wreck, Rosetta Barrett is much more than a simple Criminal Investigation Detective seconded to a sleepy, rural English constabulary. She's part of the International psychic CID and also a high-ranking member of EPIS (Elite Paranormal Intelligence Services) a super-secret, Inter-Governmental, global organization, based in Dulce, USA.EPIS is tasked with dealing with the new realities of the twenty-first century – the rise of AI and ensuring robotic deep-learning doesn't lead to humanity’s destruction; alien visitation and cracking their telepathic communication codes; expanding psychic powers, including prophecy, in order to automate crime prediction and prevention. Also, Inter-generational Karma and time-travel, as they straighten out and atone for the crime generated wrinkles causing contorted disasters throughout history.When Juliet Jermaine's Olympic Champion horse Gothic, and its teenage stable-hand rider, are callously murdered, in what appears to be a terrorist-inspired road-rage incident, Detective Barrett immediately knows there is more to this than meets the eye and feels a powerful karmic connection to an old Apache Chief and his horse, dating back to the 1800’s. Gold-medallist rider Juliet, and Rosetta must unravel the karmic connection and also nail the present day criminals before another cycle of revenge and retribution is unleashed. Can they stop the death count inexorably rising?With Barrett’s ex-husband, a power-obsessed Foreign Office Diplomat to Russia being the prime suspect, Jermaine not taking the karmic connection seriously and the EPIS time-portal out of action, since the ET's unexpectedly hijacked it, is Detective Barrett in way too deep this time? The murder investigation takes first Rosetta and then Juliet to Southern Ireland, where they both fall for the devilishly handsome, Irish-Traveller horse dealer, Tommy Rafferty. Does Tommy know more about the road rage deaths than he's letting on and ultimately will he betray his soul mate, to save his tribe?Finally, seeking closure, Juliet and Rosetta find themselves near EPIS headquarters, around a camp- fire on the red-tinged, wide rolling plains of the nearby Native American reservation.........

As part of the #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour for Spirit of Prophecy by Jill Hughes, I am delighted to offer one copy of the book to a lucky reader today.

Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget that's further down the post.  

UK Entries Only



Engrossing and thought provoking, Spirit of Prophecy takes readers not only on an exciting murder mystery but to a much deeper level of engagement. It explores, in these momentous times of change, how human awareness is expanding - not without challenge! - to re-member a greater understanding of who we really are.
And in inter-weaving the ordinary and extraordinary experiences of its heroine, its how's that her empowering intuitive and 'super-normal' perceptions are innate capabilities of all of us, if we choose to be open to them.
Hughes delivers a complex case of weighty history, violent trauma, and untold mystery in this debut paranormal thriller. The novel's short chapters and tight pacing keep the pages turning and allow for rapid shifts between characters' points of view without becoming confusing.
The prose never neglects description but tackles it efficiently, couching it in the characters' natural voices. The prose grounds the action quickly, and Rosetta, [a Psychic Detective,] as a character, connects with readers powerfully and immediately; her anger and sense of duty ring true from the outset.
KIRKUS REVIEWS [Professional Review]
The combination of paranormal, crime, and sci-fi genres with an intriguing premise will hook any readers who really appreciate a healthy fusion of themes.
The prose is clear cut and the transitions between different characters' POVs as well as the timeline are deftly handled. The plot is well thought out, and much more intricate and extensive than anticipated.
Overall, Spirit of Prophecy is a roller-coaster journey of intrigue and suspense, a very solid read from Hughes.

One Copy of Spirit Of Prophecy by Jill Hughes

Jill Hughes was born in Cottingley, a quaint little village in West Yorkshire, UK. Her grandfather Arthur Shackleton [was related to Sir Ernest Shackleton, the polar explorer - but the furthest grand-dad travelled perhaps was up the road to the men-only social club, but then he rose early and worked long and hard and filled the house with the amazing aromas of freshly baked cakes and could not be kneading dough and adventuring at the same time. Mouths always have to be fed, don't they and baking is hard, hot, thirsty work] Jill Hughes parents Margaret and Arnold Simpson lived with her grandfather above the shop, the house was large, old and rambling with a proliferation of attics and spider filled cellars, if you cared to look closely - generally the author did not, preferring to spend her time playing catch, hop-scotch and the like in the cobbled streets, catching minnows in the beck [a small stream] or swimming beneath the waterfall which is famous for fairies, after two local girls [Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths] photographed them in 1917 [Or did they?]. Subsequently the photo's proved to be fake, and this inspired a movie called 'Fairy Tale: A True Story' which starred Peter O'Toole playing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [the creator/author of Sherlock Holmes.] He was taken in by the hoax, but then again to this day Jill Hughes believes in elves/fairies/mermaids/unicorns and all things Elemental and Other Worldly.