December Review Schedule

Just because it’s that time of year, it doesn’t mean I’m slacking off. These are the reviews I have booked in for definite. There will be others, I have a couple of books on my Kindle that I’ve received from Netgalley that I want to review. Some are even seasonably appropriate. As you can see, one a week is scheduled for the entire month, and there is on blog tour planned. I hope you enjoy the variety in books this month.

  • 2nd December
    • Matthew Redford
      • Who Killed The Mince Spy?
        12 Days of Clink Street Christmas
  • 6th December
    • Jane Robins
      • White Bodies
  • 13th December
    • Mikayla Elliot
      • Snow
  • 20th December
    • George Billions
      • Fidget Spinners Destroyed my Life!
  • 27th December
    • Bolivar Beato
      • Pangaea: The End of Days, Revelations

The World Of Fire: A Tourist’s Guide To Albon – Hythe and King’s Ford

In a follow up to my previous post about Erce, I thought I’d take you to visit Albon for a tour. Albon is the home of my main character, Lizzy Albon. I present a leaflet from Erce’s Premier Travel Agency: The Traveller’s Union of Camar and Bemose.

Continue reading “The World Of Fire: A Tourist’s Guide To Albon – Hythe and King’s Ford”

A World of Fire: Welcome to Erce

Evening, we’re four days from the publication of Fire Betrayed. If you order your Kindle copy now it’ll arrive on your account just after midnight 1st December 2017. If you order a paperback copy on Friday you should have it a few days later. And remember, there will be some special offers just for release day.

Anyway, back to the point of this post. Erce, the world of the Fire Series, and the short stories that should be published sometime next year, is part of the story as much as any of the human characters. Part of writing the stories has been the process of feeling out the world the characters lived in. Erce built itself as I tried to work out why the Empress of Belenos would interfere in Northern Isles politics, or why attitudes to magic and technology would differ between kingdoms. Later novels in the series will bring up bits of information about Sumoast and the relationship between Umar and Camar that make sense in the context of the novels but opened up the rest of the world as I was writing. I had to put the information somewhere so it didn’t overwhelm the narrative.

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Review: ‘Dark Days of Georgian Britain’, by James Hobson

Dark Days of Georgian Britain

Published by: Pen and Sword Books

Publication Date: 15th November 2017

ISBN: 9781526702548

Format: Hardback

Price: £15.99

Blurb

In Dark Days of Georgian Britain, James Hobson challenges the long established view of high society during the Regency, and instead details an account of a society in change.

Often upheld as a period of elegance with many achievements in the fine arts and architecture, the Regency era also encompassed a time of great social, political and economic upheaval. In this insightful social history the emphasis is on the life of the every-man, on the lives of the poor and the challenges they faced.

Using a wide range of sources, Hobson shares the stories of real people. He explores corruption in government and elections; “bread or blood” rioting, the political discontent felt and the revolutionaries involved. He explores attitudes to adultery and marriage, and the moral panic about homosexuality. Grave robbery is exposed, along with the sharp pinch of food scarcity, prison and punishment. It is not a gentle portrayal akin to Jane Austen’s England, this is a society where the popular hatred of the Prince Regent was widespread and where laws and new capitalist attitudes oppressed the poor. With Hobson’s illustrative account, it is time to rethink the Regency.

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Author Spotlight: Lyndsy Spence

Lyndsy Spence got in touch with me after I reviewed A Pearl For My Mistress last week, and I’ve agreed to do an author spotlight post for her. She has a new novel out and will also be publishing her fifth biography soon.

Over to you, Lyndsy.

Lyndsy Spence Author Photo

I am an historian and author who specialises in writing about aristocratic (and badly behaved) women from the 20th century. The period between the World Wars fascinates me, as it was a time of great progression in women’s lives, and although society was yet to catch up, it seemed women were beginning to live as they pleased. With period dramas such as Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs gaining great popularity one would be forgiven for thinking upper-class ladies sat around in their finery, drinking tea, and fainting at a hint of scandal. However, in reality many were quite rebellious, even if their shortcomings were swept under the carpet. I love to write about high society women who dabbled in politics, who had love affairs with whom they pleased, and who laughed in the face of tradition. My biographical subjects include a courtesan who became a viscountess and confidante of Winston Churchill, a society girl who turned her back on a gilded life and was imprisoned during WW2, a peeress who played a part during Ireland’s Civil War, a wine heiress who buried four husbands, a debutante who beguiled a prime minister and became privy to state secrets, and a chorus girl who married 2 lords, 2 film stars, and a prince.

I am the author of four (soon-to-be five) biographies- they are The Mitford Girls’ Guide to Life; Mrs Guinness: The Rise and Fall of Diana Mitford; Margaret Lockwood: Queen of the Silver Screen; The Mistress of Mayfair: Men, Money and the Marriage of Doris Delevingne. I have written a volume of pen portraits, entitled These Great Ladies: Peeresses and Pariahs, and I edit The Mitford Society annuals. The Mistress of Mayfair has been optioned by Atlantic Screen Productions and will be adapted into a TV series. I have also written for BBC News Magazine, Social and Personal, Vintage Life, Daily Express, Silhouette, and The Lady.  My forthcoming book, The Grit in the Pearl, is a biography on Margaret, Duchess of Argyll – most famous for being Deb of the Year in 1930 and for her divorce from the Duke of Argyll in which her nude photos were used as evidence and over eighty-eight men were listed as her lovers.

 

house_of_lies.jpg

House of Lies is my first fiction book. I drew on the aforementioned when creating my characters, and also my fascination with houses and the energies they hold. The main characters of my book are George and Marina Greenwood, and their only child, Daphne. It focuses on the struggles Marina faces as an upper-class wife and mother during the late 1930s, leading into WW2; her background haunts her, and I suppose she has what we would today call Imposter Syndrome. There are also some unresolved issues relating to her husband and child, to whom she is distant and with whom she struggles to bond, and that opens up a Pandora’s box of challenges. Daphne herself is in her early teens and struggling with her identity and relationships to those closest to her. And George, the product of abusive parents, is forever trying to please Marina, and yet he harbours a possessive and deceitful side. Their environment is a stage for which they play their parts, and yet it is a place where they can hide their secrets. When war is declared it upsets everything, and the past begins to creep into their present lives.

The synopsis:

It’s 1920, and England is recovering from war. Evangelina Belfry, a woman of questionable reputation  and morals, has fallen down the stairs at her home, breaking her neck and dying. Her daughter Marina shows up to discover Evangelina’s landlord, George Greenwood, on the scene. He says he discovered Evangelina at the bottom of the stairs, but in fact he was with her when they struggled and she fell. Guilty, he runs from the house and stumbles into his sister Louisa and her partner. He tells them he killed Evangelina, and they agree to provide an alibi. But betrayal is afoot, and they then set out to blackmail George, bleeding him dry of what little money he makes as a banker. By 1938, to save her from an indecent fate, George has married Evangelina’s daughter Marina, but there is no love in the marriage. Marina is frigid, and loathes most things and most people, including George’s controlling mother Sybil, who lives with them at High Greenwood, the family estate George has inherited, but now cannot afford to run. Marina writes romance novels, saving the money in the hopes of leaving George, but once she gives birth to their daughter, Daphne, escape seems more and more remote. Cold and unmaternal, Marina sends Daphne to boarding school at the age of eleven. Marina simply wants her gone and convinces George this is necessary for health reasons. But at boarding school, Daphne meets Celia Hartley, who’s loud, brash, and starts a volatile friendship with Daphne, that will change both girls’ lives. What’s more, with war looming and George enlisted in the army, Daphne and Marina are left on their own, as the past comes back to haunt them and the future seems uncertain.

Catch up with Lyndsy and find out more about her books at:

www.themitfordsociety.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/lyndsyspencewriter

 

Extract: ‘Become The Force’

Become the Force

In this extract again drawing on his own life experience Daniel talks about the power of feelings to shape your life:

Jediism isn’t just about training your mind it is also about following the beat of your heart.

The love in your heart is eternal and the part of you that is one with the Force or living life energy that exists within and all around you. To demonstrate the awesome power of the heart ponder this: When you die nobody remembers what you said or did but they will remember how you made them feel. That is why Obi-Wan tells Darth Vader that when he dies he will rise more powerful because he knows his loving energy will join the Force and be with Luke at all times guiding and inspiring his heart – an invisible loving presence infinitely more powerful than his human form.

If there is no love in your heart you will never be in tune with the Force. It is only when mind and heart are in harmony that you are a magnet for the light. In my own life I have repeatedly found that thoughts alone aren’t enough and it is only when my thoughts and deeds are heartfelt that good things happen, weaknesses are turned into strengths, setbacks into stepping stones.

All heart

If you know anything about Asperger’s you will know that emotional intelligence is not my strong point. I’m a logical person. I can understand and reprogram my thoughts. However, feelings are different. The heart is unpredictable by its very nature and can’t be controlled or even at times understand. You can’t fake feelings, you just feel them and sometimes you feel them for absolutely no reason. Many times in my life I have been at a loss to understand and explain my feelings and the tension and frustration of that triggers irrational meltdowns where I lash out physically.

Given the emphasis I have put here on the importance of the heart in Jediism you can see that the universe handed me my greatest challenge from the moment I was born. My dream is to found a new spiritual movement that hopes to awaken a generation of people’s hearts to the potential within and around them. But don’t psychologists tell us that people with Asperger’s struggle with expressing their feelings?

I truly believe that I have Asperger’s for a reason. If I hadn’t had Asperger’s I might have taken my feelings for granted or not paid enough attention to the theme of love inspiring or guiding others coming up time and time again in every religious and spiritual tradition I studied. My desire to try to understand this thing called love helped me discover the true meaning of life and how love connects us to the Force in a way that thoughts never can. Love, of course, is right up there as a central theme in every Star Wars movie with Han and Leia setting the gold standard.

Just as I found a way to read widely through audio tapes despite my dyslexia, I found a way to connect with and express my heart despite my Asperger’s. The way I found was Jediism. My first love was Star Wars and I expressed my love for the Star Wars universe by founding a spiritual movement that could truly help not just me but others follow their hearts and lead meaningful lives.

Of course, I’m saying all this in hindsight and at the time I wasn’t aware of what I was doing and didn’t even know I had Asperger’s, but I can clearly see now that through creating and founding Jediism I followed my heart. If I hadn’t had Asperger’s I sometimes wonder if I would have had the burning desire to pour my love into creating something that would enable me to express my heart. Of course, it’s impossible to say what I might have done with my life without Asperger’s, as I am who I am, but what I do know is that the heart must find a way to sing whether a person has autism or not. The way I found was through my obsession for a movie franchise. In short, founding Jediism was my act of love.

Early reaction

Another seemingly insurmountable obstacle for me to overcome in the early days of the church was the inevitable opposition and criticism. Early reaction was largely positive and curious but there were also voices telling me to abandon the Force. These voices never came from inside my head but they certainly did from friends, the media, religious groups, educators, comments posted online and so on. Here’s a snap shot.

“You’re crazy.”

“Who do you think you are?”

“Why can’t you just grow up?”

“It’s a movie Daniel. It’s fiction, not a way of life.”

After my road to Damascus moment on the beach when I just knew that the universe was calling out to me to found Jediism there were many harsh critics who told me I needed to put away my lightsaber and grow up.  Indeed, giving up on my dream of Jediism becoming a global force of love and kindness was by far the easiest thing to do. I don’t enjoy being called ‘odd’ or ‘deluded’ because of my love for Star Wars and belief in the power of Force but perhaps again Asperger’s was my salvation as criticism doesn’t typically get to me. I’m naturally thick-skinned. For me criticism is just data that I can either use or discard. I realise now that is quite an unusual quality. I see how others doubt themselves when faced with criticism but any criticism I got just made me want to spread the word about Jediism even more.

During this time my family had by now accepted that unusual was always going to be the norm for me and Jediism was here to stay. My biggest ally was always my brother Barney who worked closely with me to found the church in 2007. Barney and I worked long hours setting up a basic website, answering emails, creating and distributing leaflets and information online and promoting Jediism in person as much as we could. Visits to the website went from the hundreds to the thousands rapidly. I advertised the church on My Space and it was fairly easy to spread the word there.

When handing out church leaflets in my local area the reactions ranged from delight and interest to shock and surprise to anger and disbelief, but more often than not our leaflets were always greeted with a smile. For me just a smile was response enough as I truly believe religion and spirituality should place a stronger emphasis on the importance of joy. Humour can be the greatest teacher sometimes and a life without laughter is a life not lived. That’s why I am always absolutely fine to have my photograph taken complete with lightsaber and cloak or even a Stormtrooper or two lurking in the background. These images make people smile! ……………..

 

Review: ‘Become The Force’, by Daniel M. Jones and Theresa Cheung

Become the Force

Publication Date:Watkins Publishing Ltd 

Published By: 16 Nov. 2017

I.S.B.N.: 9781786780904

Format: Paperback

Price: £12.38

Blurb

Become the Force: 9 Lessons on How to Live as a Jediist Master

Daniel M Jones founded the Church of Jediism in 2007, and it now has over 500,000 members around the world. This is the book his fans have been waiting for. In it Daniel outlines the Jedi perspective and provides practical tools for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of how to use the Force in everyday life. The Force is a metaphor for the universal life energy that connects us all, and it can be both light and dark, good and bad. Now, more than ever, it is our responsibility to overcome the dark side. This book does not aim to convert but to inspire its readers to live a life of meaning and purpose according to the universal spiritual teachings from ‘The Way of the Jedi’.

Become the Force covers:

Daniel’s own fascinating spiritual journey and how overcoming personal struggles has awakened him to his purpose.
How Jedi teachings can empower mind, body, heart and spirit.
A comprehensive toolkit that will allow anyone to genuinely embrace ‘the way of the Jedi’.
Compelling reasons why the spiritual teachings of Jediism are relevant today.
A comprehensive explanation of Jediism as a spiritual movement (a universal desire for self-awareness, spiritual awakening, peace, love and harmony) rather than a religion.
Shows that it’s plausible that the Jedi-minded among us today might usher in a new spirituality and shift in global consciousness towards peace and harmony that is more powerful than any we can possibly imagine.

Purchase from Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Become-Force-Lessons-Jediist-Master-ebook/dp/B0744HCP9B/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1508410541&sr=1-1&keywords=become+the+force

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
 Daniel M. Jones aka Morda Hehol is a philosopher, scientist and musician. In 2007 he became world famous when he founded the Church of Jediism at the age of twenty one. Since then he has appeared in many national newspapers and Time magazine, and has been interviewed by the BBC, Good Morning America, ITN and numerous other TV and radio stations. Daniel also has a degree in Chemistry from the University of Bangor, Wales. He is a member of pop punk band Straight Jacket Legends, whose debut album charted in Japan. He also dedicates his time to his the Aspie World YouTube Channel highlighting what life is like with Aspergers, after having been diagnosed in 2013. For more information please visit: https://thechurchofjediism.org/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/TheAspieWorld
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/theaspieworld/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/TheAspieWorld/
Theresa Cheung was born into a family of spiritualists and has a Masters in Theology and English from King’s College, Cambridge. She has sold almost half a million books and encyclopaedias about the psychic world, the afterlife and personal transformation over twenty years. Her spiritual books Heaven Called My Name (Piatkus 2016) and An Angel Healed Me (Simon & Schuster 2010) became Sunday Times Top 10 bestsellers and have been translated into thirty languages.
For more information please visit http://www.theresacheung.com or follow her on Facebook @TheresaCheungAuthor

Received in return for an honest review
Continue reading “Review: ‘Become The Force’, by Daniel M. Jones and Theresa Cheung”

Review: ‘Dance Like You Mean It’, by Jeanne Skartsiaris

Published By: Black Opal Books

Publication Date: 11th February 2017

I.S.B.N.: 9781626945746

Format: Paperback

Price: £13.99

Blurb

What if you wrote a steamy, erotic novel that was so hot bookstores couldn’t keep it on their shelves? What if you couldn’t tell anyone you wrote it?

With a mundane life as a nurse, a husband who is grazing other fields, and a daughter of an impressionable age, Cassie checks her horoscope one morning just for kicks and notices an article about romance novels and how profitable publishing could be if one could spin a good tale.

She pens Wild Rose under a pseudonym and it flies to the top of the charts, is the talk of the town, and people are clamoring to know who the author is. What would her children think if they knew? Or her own mother, who ‘taught her better’, and, worse, her husband who’d thought she’d turned back into a virgin since they’d not had sex in so long. How could she be thrown into the spotlight and still be a good mom?

Wild Rose, Cassie’s caldron of prose, is woven through this story. Set it the 70s, it is the story of Rosemary, a beautiful photographer who wants to be recognized for her body of work, not her haunting beauty. Although, a modern women, she is as adventurous sexually as she is with her camera and beds men like candy…until she falls in love.

Both novels parallel each other as Cassie realizes Rosemary is not so different from her

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