A Song From the Heart

‘To Kill A Troubadour’ by Martin Walker

Author Martin Walker was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to talk to me ahead of the release of ‘To Kill a Troubadour’. You can read that Q&A with him here:

It is summer in St Denis and Bruno is busy organising the annual village concert. He’s hired a local Périgord folk group, Les Troubadours, to perform their latest hit ‘A Song for Catalonia’. But when the song unexpectedly goes viral, the Spanish government, clamping down on the Catalonian bid for independence, bans Les Troubadours from performing it.

The timing couldn’t be worse, and Bruno finds himself under yet more pressure when a specialist sniper’s bullet is found in a wrecked car near Bergerac. The car was reportedly stolen on the Spanish frontier and the Spanish government sends warning that a group of nationalist extremists may be planning an assassination in France. Bruno immediately suspects that Les Troubadours and their audience might be in danger.

Bruno must organise security and ensure that his beloved town and its people are safe – the stakes are high for France’s favourite policeman.

What’s the point of life? Is it to work and strive to attain the baubles and trinkets of accomplishment and the trappings of a late stage capitalist lifestyle?

Or is it food and wine and friends and spending your days embraced at the bosom of those who love you?

I don’t know the answer to these tricky philosophical questions – although I have a suspicion I know what my own answer would be – but what I do know is that once a year, Martin Walker releases another instalment in the career of Chief of Police Bruno Courreges and I am welcomed back to the Perigord like one returning to the arms of their family.

This time out, Bruno has a pair of nationalist Spanish extremists on the loose in his region and they appear to have a sniper’s rifle with them. Police National colleague, and frequent lunch companion, JJ’s antennae is twitching and Bruno must be at his best if the concert in St Denis is going to go ahead safely.

Walker wields his pen lightly and his love of the Perigord comes through on every page like steam from the freshly lifted lid on a dinner dish.

Now, full warning, I’m not objective about this series of novels. I’ve read each one since the inception and am often at risk of just, you know, prosthelytizing over them. It is fair to note that this is not ‘The Wire’ – although they are often harder-edged than people give them credit for.

What Walker has managed, however, is to use his illustrious career from before he turned to writing novels in think tanks and the press to thread an internationalism and entanglements from the world of intelligence and the media through his storylines.

Allowing Bruno to interact with the various levels of the French bureaucratic state as well as balancing the politics of his Mayor, his eternal flickering flame Isabelle and the Police National, the Gendarmerie and the UK Security Services (as embodied by retired chief of the JIC, Jack Crimson), allows Walker to pull off the neat trick of turning St Denis into a crucible for international relations.

Fifteen novels into the cycle, perhaps this might be beginning to take on an air of contrivance but the warm glow of Walker’s prose manages to stop this being the case.

Instead, the stories feel like a warm bath for the body and soul. No investigation must be allowed to halt a good dinner or delay the town tennis tournament. These familiar, much-loved characters mean that each novel is like pulling up a chair around a family dining room and I, for one, am looking forward to catching up with them again at the earliest possibility.

Another delightful outing to the Dordogne, highly recommended.

Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/search/ref=sr_adv_b/?field-isbn=9781529413632&tag=hachetteuk-21

Book Depository (free shipping to the US): https://www.bookdepository.com/Kill-Troubadour-Martin-Walker/9781529413632?ref=grid-view&qid=1654698342492&sr=1-1

Blackwells: https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/9781529413632

Bookshop.org: https://uk.bookshop.org/a/10403/9781529413632

Foyles: https://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/to-kill-a-troubadour-brunos-latest-and,martin-walker-9781529413632

Author Bio:

After a long career of working in international journalism and for think tanks, Martin Walker now gardens, cooks, explores vineyards, writes, travels, and has never been more busy. He divides his time between Washington, D.C., and the Dordogne. You can find more about Walker at his website, http://www.brunochiefofpolice.com/about-the-author.html

Questions and Answers with Martin Walker

Questions for Martin Walker

Author of the Bruno novel, To Kill a Troubadour, kindly took time out of his busy day to answer some questions around the publication of his latest novel and to speak about his writing life. You can find a review of the book, here:

PAJNewman: To Kill a Troubadour is book 15 in the Bruno series. How do you feel that this novel stacks up against your previous work? Are you pleased with it?

Martin Walker: Yes, I’m very pleased with the way I was able to bring in my growing fascination with the degree to which medieval Europe was civilised and educated by the Moors of Spain and also by the Saracens of the Holy Land. Our musical instruments and much of our lyrical tradition comes from them, transmitted through the court of the Dukes of Aquitaine. The more I learn about Eleanor of Aquitaine, the more I think of her as the most extraordinary person – not just woman – of her day. Courtly love, the Arthurian saga, regent of England, the only queen who went to the Holy Land on Crusade, and the only woman to have been married to a King of France and King of England – and the mother of Richard Lionheart. When the troops became dispirited on the way to Jerusalem, she rode barebreated – ‘to dazzle them,’ as she put it. What a woman!

Especially in the early parts of the novel, there are some observations regarding the issues role of the Russians in Eastern Europe which look positively prophetic at this range. How important is for you to root Bruno in real world events?

Very important, because it allows me to write something with which we can all identify. I have used the IRA, Basque and, Islamic terrorists, Russian agents, American FBI agents, East Germans and assorted bad guys because they are part of the mental and political furniture of our age. Moreover, I know Russia well, having been the Guardian correspondent in Moscow for over 4 years in the Gorbachev period and I have returned often. So I was not at all surprised, after Putin’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, his grab of Crimea and the Donbas in 2014, that he was aching to swallow the lot. He even wrote an essay on the great Russian space which signalled his intentions.

How long did To Kill a Troubadour take from beginning to end to write?

About nine months, half for research, half for writing.

You, obviously, had an illustrious career before you turned to becoming a novelist. Do you find the influences of your previous work seeping into the book?

Indeed, it would be odd if they did not, since you tend to write what you know. And it does not all stem from my years in journalism, but also from what I learned in my years in think-tanks, working on globalisation, AI, technology, demographics and so on.

Who are your biggest influences as a writer?

I revere Conan Doyle since Sherlock Holmes got me interested in detective fiction and his historical novels (Sir Nigel, The White Company) made me fascinated by the Hundred Years War. And I always like to read popular historians like Trevelyan, Michelet, Carlyle and so on. The biggest influence was probably a woman called Jean Stead, my news editor at the Guardian, who made me cut the flourishes and rambles.

What is the question you wish interviewers and readers would ask but never do?

Don’t you get bored writing Bruno?

The answer is never, because I can write other stuff in between: a wine column I write each month; travel pieces about the Perigord, a new book that comes out in Germany this year on the history and culture of the region called ‘Bruno’s Perigord.’ And I’m thinking of updating my 1993 non-fiction book, ‘The Cold War – a History.’

The novel obviously appears to exist pre-Covid. I know a lot of writers are grappling with this dilemma but will Covid play a part in your future work, do you think?

No, I think after the deaths and woes and sadness of the last two years, we are going to get used to it, as we did to TB and smallpox and AIDS. And being locked down in the Perigord with my chickens and garden and dog was hardly insufferable, and in my village we were relatively lightly affected.

What is a typical writing day for you? Has it changed as you have produced a novel a year?

Not much. In my days in journalism I regularly wrote between a thousand and two thousand words a day, and I learned to write anywhere; on trains, in aircraft, in famines, even in trenches and under fire. There was an old Fleet St motto – ‘Don’t get it right, get it written,’ and the Americans made it sound better by calling journalism ‘the first rough draft of history.’ Whichever one is nearer the truth, all of us hacks learned to write fast and often.

I’m sure you get asked this a lot, but do you ever think about Bruno being adapted for the screen? Is this something you would be interested in?

Yes, film rights have been sold but there are endless discussions over whether to film Bruno in English, French or German. I’m just a bystander in this process.

Am I correct in thinking that this year will finally see the English-language publication of Bruno’s Cookbook? How have you gone about sourcing the recipes for this?

Yes, Bruno’s Cookbook comes out next autumn in the US and UK, which is great because it has now been awarded by Gourmet International the title Best French Cookbook of the Last Twenty Years.’ The recipes come from neighbours, from some local restaurants, from hunting clubs in the Perigord, and from my wife (a food writer for the Sunday Times, Washington Post etc). I cook every single recipe that we use in the cookbook and in the Bruno novels, but with my wife watching at my side.

I know Donna Leon is not keen to have her novels translated into Italian as she is worried about what her Venetian neighbours will say. What sort of a readership do you have with the readers in the Perigourd and do you find people trying to spot themselves in the novels?

I was a little nervous when the books came out in French, but my friends and neighbours all seem delighted, and many claim to have been the model for various characters – even when they are not. I think what they love most is the remarkable impact the Bruno novels have had on tourism, which is why the French Foreign Ministry gave me a gold medal, and why the regional council named me ‘Ambassador of Perigord,. The winemakers made me a Grand Consul de la Vinee de Bergerac. Guess which one makes me most proud.

Will Bruno ever find happiness, or at least the wife and family he longs for?

I really don’t know. I keep putting interesting and attractive women in his way but Bruno seems to have a mind of his own. It’s wonderful in a way, as an author to have created a character who seems so real and independent to me, but I keep hoping that I’ll be able some day to write a chapter about his marital bliss. What a woman she would have to be!

Here and No

‘Then and Now’ by RJ Gould

Sandy is about to retire following an illustrious career as editor of an upmarket fashion magazine.

Michael can’t retire, he thinks his work to explain the dangers of climate change is far too important.

Jonathan is considering retiring from running his fundraising consultancy.

These three were the best of friends at university before a tragedy wrecked their friendship. They haven’t spoken since.

Fifty years on, they arrange to meet at a reunion. Having reminisced about student life during a wild and self-indulgent era with its heady mix of free love, drugs and ground-breaking music, they share their life journeys since the Swinging Sixties – the successes and failures, the happiness and despair, and their optimism and fears for the future.

The reunion is drawing to a close. Dare they tackle the incident that tore them apart, an event that has brought guilt for so many years? If they are to have any chance of reconciliation they have to, but the clock is ticking.

I first encountered the work of RJ Gould last year when I reviewed his novel ‘Dream Café’ (Very good, by the way, would recommend.) https://pajnewman.com/2021/09/06/catering-to-the-romantics/

A fellow male aficionado of the romance genre, both that novel and this one allow Gould to explore the hope and bittersweet experiences which beset lives as people grow, develop and get older.

Here the protagonists are coming towards the end of their careers – or not as the case maybe – and are wrestling with the way society views the Baby Boomers as well as fallout from a long buried event from their youth.

Oddly, perhaps the text which ‘Then and Now’ most reminded me of, however, was ‘Our Friends in the North’. Gould is a jolly writer and one who’s characters burst with joie de vivre but there is a lovely tonal shift in the characterisation which allows him to explore the melancholia and less upbeat experiences of life too.

Having said that, I think Sandy is my favourite. She’s a lovely character. A successful woman, downing champagne and exactly the sort of life and soul of the party person it would be fun to share a glass or two of fizz with.

‘Then and Now’ is another engaging outing from Mr RJ Gould.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/R-J-Gould/e/B006QLQZ8S

US – https://www.amazon.com/R-J-Gould/e/B006QLQZ8S

Author Bio –

R J Gould writes contemporary fiction about relationships, using a mix of humour and pathos to describe the tragi-comic life journeys of his characters. Then and now is his seventh novel, following The Engagement Party, Jack and Jill Went Downhill, Mid-life follies, The bench by Cromer beach, Nothing Man and Dream Café. He is a member of Cambridge Writers and a rare male member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Before becoming a full-time author he worked in the educational and charity sectors.

R J Gould lives in Cambridge.

Social Media Links –

Website:                          http://www.rjgould.info

Twitter:                            https://twitter.com/RJGould_author

Email:                               rjgould.author@gmail.com

Facebook:                       https://www.facebook.com/RJGouldauthor

Instagram:                        https://www.instagram.com/rjgould_author             

Goodreads                     https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6432126.R_J_Gould

COVER REVEAL: ‘Murder at the Summer Fete’

I reviewed the first instalment of the Dedley End Mystery series, ‘Murder at the House on the Hill’ in September of last year. My headline, (“If Downton did Homicide”) seemed to summarize the plot pretty well and I can’t wait to catch up with the gang as they go after another murder in the countryside.

The cover of Dedley End Mystery, Book 2, ‘Murder at the Summer Fete’

Synopsis:

A fete worse than death…

After finding the killer of Lucy Roth six months ago, life has settled back to normal for bookshop owner, Nancy Hunter, and her grandmother, Jane. The annual Dedley End village fete is just around the corner, and Nancy is delighted when bestselling author, Thomas Green, agrees to launch his first new novel in ten years there.

But then a series of sinister events lead Nancy to realise someone is trying to sabotage their fete, so she, along with Jane and their journalist friend Jonathan, must turn detective to discover who isn’t at all thrilled about the return of Thomas Green.

When a body is discovered at the summer fete, the death scene mirroring that in Thomas’ latest bestseller, they realise that there’s another killer in Dedley End, but can they outsmart someone who appears to have pulled off the perfect crime?

The clues are right under Nancy and Jane’s noses, if only they can find them. Because the answers to life’s questions can always be found in a book…!

A twisty, unputdownable cozy mystery that fans of Richard Osman, S.J. Bennett and ‘The Marlow Murder Club’ will love.

Author Bio

Victoria Walters writes up-lifting and inspiring stories. She’s the author of the bestselling GLENDALE HALL series, which continues with its third book HOPEFUL HEARTS at GLENDALE HALL in September, as well as two other standalone novels – SUMMER at the KINDNESS CAFE, and THE SECOND LOVE of my LIFE. She has been chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent and shortlisted for two RNA awards. Victoria was also picked as an Amazon Rising Star, and her books have won wide reader acclaim.

Victoria is a full-time author. She lives in Surrey with her cat Harry, and loves books, clothes, music, going out for tea and cake, and posting photos on Instagram.

Find out more about Victoria by following on Instagram at @vickyjwalters,

Twitter: @Vicky_Walters 

She blogs at https://www.victoria-writes.com/.

You can pre-order ‘Murder at the Summer Fete’ ahead of it’s March 17th release here:

Win a signed copy of ‘A Leap of Faith at the Vineyard in Alsace’ as well as Festive Goodies

Giveaway to Win a signed copy of A Leap of Faith at the Vineyard in Alsace plus some festive goodies (Open to UK Only)

Prize contains the following:

  • a signed paperback copy of A Leap of Faith at the Vineyard in Alsace
  • a sachet of Galaxy instant hot chocolate
  • a tin of RHS stem ginger cookies
  • a RHS Christmas bauble with a snowdrop decoration on it.

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below or follow the link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email.

If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information.

This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494458/

To read a review of ‘A Leap of Faith in the Vineyard in Alsace’ just follow THIS LINK

WIN ONE OF 5 PAPERBACK COPIES OF ‘THE MURKY WORLD OF TIMOTHY WALL (UK ONLY)

Giveaway to Win 5 x Paperback copies of The Murky World of Timothy Wall (Open to UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. 

Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  

I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494459/?

No Coal Here Just Backstories to Be Mined

‘The Murky World of Timothy Wall’ by Ian McFadyen

TO WIN A COPY OF ‘THE MURKY WORLD OF TIMOTHY WALL’ FOLLOW THIS LINK

When the body of Timothy Wall, a Private Detective, is fo und in his office, the querulous Inspector Carmichael discovers some surprising revelations and curious contradictions about the dead man. Loved by many and seemingly despised by others in equal measure, Timothy Wall’s whole world seems to be strewn with paradoxes.   

This fast-moving whodunnit, based in the North West of England, sees McFadyen’s detective team tackle one of their most taxing cases yet.

Who killed Timothy Wall? Will one of his numerous lovers or ex-partners provide the answer to the conundrum? And what about Tim’s involvement with the brothers Baybutt, the local bookmakers. Do they know more than they are telling?

As Carmichael and his team seek answers to these questions it becomes crystal clear that all was not quite how it seemed in the life of Timothy Wall. This, the nineth book in the Carmichael series, is full of twists, turns and red herrings that will keep the reader guessing right up to the bitter end. 

What is it about detective fiction that we like so much? I have no definitive answer, although like all great detectives I have my theories.

Something I do know is that I like the conclusion of the mystery, the detective proven correct, the world put to rights – at least for today.

I’m not sure what it was that attracted me to this latest in the Detective Carmichael series by Ian McFadyen. I’d not come across the stories before, I have no connection to Lancashire where they are set (in fact, to the best of my recollection, I’ve never been to Lancashire).

But, I do like a Private Investigator story and I do like a nice police procedural and here was a nice intersection of both: I was in.

Do I regret my choice? Not at all. The characters and setting are obviously well set after so many books and, as in Martin Walker’s Bruno Chief of Police novels which I have written about elsewhere, by now, they are living, breathing people in their own right. McFadyen approaches something like this with Carmichael’s family and his passion for his special pinotage wine.

And, for all Carmichael’s back story and intricate relationships with his colleagues, McFadyen is going to keep the story zipping along at pace and is not afraid to make sure the reader is never allowed to become bored.

Sometimes, the dialogue does tip a little towards the stilted for my taste, but in a novel of well fleshed out characters, with convincing motivations, backstories and plenty of mysteries to be unravelled, this is a small complaint which shouldn’t deter anyone from exploring the world of McFadyen’s Carmichael universe.

Purchase Links

Book Guild – https://www.bookguild.co.uk/bookshop/book/302/The%20Murky%20Wall%20of%20Timothy%20Wall/

Bookshop.org – https://uk.bookshop.org/books/the-murky-world-of-timothy-wall/9781913913441

Waterstones – https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-murky-world-of-timothy-wall/ian-mcfadyen/9781913913441

Foyles – https://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/the-murky-world-of-timothy-wall,ian-mcfadyen-9781913913441

WHSmith – https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/the-murky-world-of-timothy-wall/ian-mcfadyen/paperback/9781913913441.html

Amazon – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Murky-World-Timothy-Wall/dp/1913913449/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=The+Murky+World+of+Timothy+Wall&qid=1632920646&sr=8-1

Book Depository – https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Murky-World-of-Timothy-Wall-Ian-McFadyen/9781913913441

Author Bio –

AUTHOR — Author Ian McFadyen visits Ulverston Library to talk to local people about his books. Thursday 30th October 2014. HARRY ATKINSON REF:

Ian McFadyen grew up in Lancashire, the setting for the Carmichael series of detective novels. Having studied marketing at Huddersfield University he had a 30-year career in sales and marketing with leading global companies in the electronics industry before switching full-time to writing. He has published eight books in the Carmichael series so far, several of which are available in large print, two have been translated and published in Italian and two in Czech. He lives in Bishop’s Stortford, Herts.

Social Media Links –

FB : Facebook.com/ianmcfadyenauthor

Twitter : @ianMcFadyen1

“Jesus Only Had 12 and One of Those Was a Double…”

‘Judas 62’ by Charles Cumming

A spy in one of the most dangerous places on Earth…

1993: Student Lachlan Kite is sent to post-Soviet Russia in the guise of a language teacher. In reality, he is there as a spy. Top secret intelligence agency BOX 88 has ordered Kite to extract a chemical weapons scientist before his groundbreaking research falls into the wrong hands. But Kite’s mission soon goes wrong and he is left stranded in a hostile city with a former KGB officer on his trail.

An old enemy looking for revenge…

2020: Now the director of BOX 88 operations in the UK, Kite discovers he has been placed on the ‘JUDAS’ list – a record of enemies of Russia who have been targeted for assassination. Kite’s fight for survival takes him to Dubai, where he must confront the Russian secret state head on… (Synopsis courtesy of Harper Collins)

For some time, Charles Cumming has been one of the best working spy writer’s today. Alongside Simon Conway and Mick Herron, he has been producing first-rate work in novels such as Typhoon, Trinity Six and his Thomas Kell trilogy (‘A Foreign Country’, ‘A Colder War’ and ‘A Divided Spy’)

It has always struck me as unfair for these writers to be consistently referenced alongside John Le Carre – a writer whom I hold in the highest regard. Whilst Cumming has been one of our best for 20 years, Le Carre was obviously a genre defining author whose very language of espionage has entered their trade. Now THAT is a legacy.

Last year’s ‘Box 88’ was a delight. It was spy ficiton as Proust, Cumming luxuriating in the school days of his lead character and (apparently) mining his own biography to weave a tapestry of a period as evocatively rendered as a tea soaked madeleine. Ironically, it was also the novel which arguably brought Cumming closest to Le Carre territory.

‘Box 88’, intercutting as it did Lachlan Kite’s present day problems as a team of skilled operatives invade and abduct his wife, with his recruitment into the shadowy organisation Box, has echoes of Le Carre’s ‘A Perfect Spy’. (‘A Perfect Spy’ is, lest anyone forget, the work labelled by no less an authority than Phillip Roth as, “the best English novel since the war” so this is far from a criticism.  

As much as I enjoyed ‘Box 88’, the structure was – if anything – the biggest issue with it. It was fairly obviously the beginning of a series and this meant that neither the story set in the 1980s nor that of the contemporary events really had an opportunity to ratchet up the tension. Kite obviously survived in the flashback, he was almost certain to survive in the present too.

‘Judas 62’ is obviously going to suffer from the same thing. But, here, Cumming avoids the trap by slightly altering the structure. We are reintroduced to Kite as Covid lockdowns are making espionage even more tricky and Box are working as a skeleton crew. Instead of then intercutting the narrative every other chapter, here Cumming chooses to tell one story then the other. Although we know Kite is not going to peg out any time soon, there is a greater tension and some fantastically palm-sweat inducing descriptions of his operation and the harrowing fall out which follows.

Few people can write such convincing action and conjure a world so effectively as Cumming. His ability to render the mundane – WhatsApp conversations, a cricket match –  and contrast with the high stakes of the missions of his characters.

There are few writers as adept at creating characters you care about and tension on a minute by minute basis as Cummings and, in Lachlan Kite, he has a flawed hero of self awareness and a lorry load of festering regrets.

‘Judas 62’ is a triumph of a novel and I look forward to the third instalment as soon as I can get my hands on it. This is vintage Cummings and I just hope he has ready access to the French patisserie and the old pot of tea if he’s going to use any more of remembrance of things past.

Purchase Links

Amazon: http://ads.harpercollins.co.uk/hcuk?isbn=9780008363468&retailer=amazon

Blackwells: https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/9780008363468

Bookshop: https://uk.bookshop.org/a/1153/9780008363468

Foyles: http://ads.harpercollins.co.uk/hcuk?isbn=9780008363468&retailer=foyles

Waterstones: https://www.awin1.com/cread.php?awinmid=3787&awinaffid=802343&ued=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.waterstones.com%2Fbook%2F9780008363468

Charles Cumming

Charles Cumming was born in Scotland in 1971. He was educated at Eton and graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1994 with First Class Honours in English Literature. The Observer has described him as “the best of the new generation of British spy writers who are taking over where John le Carré and Len Deighton left off”. In the summer of 1995, Charles was approached for recruitment by the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). A year later he moved to Montreal where he began working on a novel based on his experiences with MI6. A Spy By Nature was published in the UK in 2001. (Biography courtesy of Harper Collins)

No Need to Fall Off This Log

‘Book Review Log Book’ by Jennifer Gilmour

Keep a track of your reading progress and your book reviews in one place:

  • Reading Goals
  • To Be Read List
  • Book Release Dates
  • Word Cloud
  • Your Reviews
  • Your Notes

Purchase Link – mybook.to/bookreview

Some book blog tours are such a delight to be on and Jennifer Gilmour’s Book Review Log Book is one such.

This is not an especially complicated idea: it’s a log book in which to review your book reviews. But this simplicity is its beauty. A space for notes, a space for a word cloud to record your learning from your reading, a space to print out a copy of your book cover and stick it in! It’s like a nostalgic throwback to the scrapbooks of youth.

This is a well-timed release – I can’t help but think that the book worm in your life might well appreciate this as a Christmas gift. I know I would!

Author Bio –

Jennifer Gilmour is an author and advocate for women in abusive relationships, using her own experiences of domestic abuse as a catalyst to bring awareness and to help others. Jennifer has published two publications, Isolation Junction and Clipped Wings which have both been Amazon Best Sellers and received awards. Jennifer speaks at events across the UK and continues to raise awareness through her blog posts, public speaking, radio interviews and social media.

Most Informative Blogger Award 2018 (Bloggers Bash Annual Awards)
UK & European Award for using Social Media for Good 2019 (Social Day: Social Media Marketing Awards)

Jennifer says: “Together we are Louder”.

Social Media Links –

Website; www.jennifergilmour.com  

Facebook; www.facebook.com/JenLGilmour

Twitter; www.twitter.com/JenLGilmour  

Instagram; www.instagram.com/JenLGilmour  

Amazon author profile; http://author.to/jennifergilmour  

Goodreads author profile; https://www.goodreads.com/JenniferGilmour  

Huffington post blogger profile; http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/author/jennifer-gilmour

Catering to the Romantics

‘Dream Café’ by RJ Gould

“Why on earth am I here?” David wonders as he observes the juvenile antics of ex-classmates at the twenty-five year school reunion. Then he sees Bridget.

David draws up a list of all that he hopes to achieve to kick-start a new life now that his wife has moved in with his best friend – his ex-best friend. A relationship with Bridget is top of the list, opening an arts café is a close second.

Formidable women – an unfaithful wife, a reckless teenage daughter, a boss from hell, a disapproving policewoman – seem like insurmountable obstacles.

But it’s still OK to dream, isn’t it?

I don’t think I’m giving too much away to confess that I have a birthday coming up in the next couple of weeks. A “big” one. One with a zero at the end.

As it happens, it is a “big” birthday which puts me in close proximity to David, the lead character of ‘Dream Café’. Having decided against attending my own school reunion (to paraphrase a friend’s response, he’d rather defecate in his hands and clap) I really felt for the character as half remembered school contemporaries lunge at him as the novel opens.

As the book progresses, we learn that poor David has quite the complicated back story, with all sorts of unpleasant behaviour having been dealt to this rather nice, if vague, protagonist.

Personally, I think a nice romantic comedy which nips along with ease of reading and light touch charm and ‘Dream Café’ has this in abundance. David is a hero we can root for and, even including the necessary ups and downs which must befall all characters in this genre, it is comforting to know that all will – up to a point – turn out right with the world.

Incidentally, I too have a secret dream to abandon my career and relaunch ala David – but perhaps I’ll have to wait until nearer his age to do so 😉

Purchase Links –

Author Bio –

Richard writes under the pseudonym R J Gould and is a (rare male) member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA). His first novel was shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award following his participation on the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. Having been published by Headline Access and Lume Books, he now self-publishes.

He writes contemporary literary fiction about relationships, loosely though not prescriptively within the Romance genre, using both humour and pathos to describe the tragi-comic journeys of his protagonists in search of love. ‘Dream Café’ is his sixth novel, following ‘The Engagement Party’, ‘Jack and Jill Went Downhill’, ‘Mid-life follies’, ‘The Bench by Cromer Beach’ and ‘Nothing Man’. [It is a rewrite of ‘A Street Café Named Desire’].

Ahead of writing full time, Richard led a national educational charity. He has been published in a wide range of educational journals, national newspapers and magazines and is the co-author of a major work on educating able young people. He lives in Cambridge, England.

Social Media Links –

Website:                           http://www.rjgould.info

Twitter:               https://twitter.com/RJGould_author

Email:                                news@rjgould.info

Facebook:                         https://www.facebook.com/RJGouldauthor

Instagram:                        https://www.instagram.com/rjgould_author