#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours / #Excerpt : Family Business #FamilyBusiness – Mark Eklid @MarkEklid

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Family Business BT Poster

Today I’m on the ‘Family Business’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Mark Eklid Author picIt took until I was 57 to finally fulfil my dream to become a published author but seeing my work in print was far from a new experience.
Sunbeam, my debut novel, was self-published in November 2019 and was followed by Family Business on June 3 this year. Both are fast-moving, plot-twisting contemporary thrillers which use the city of my birth, Sheffield, as their backdrop, though Family Business is also part-set in my current home city, Derby.
My writing background is a career as a newspaper journalist, starting out as a trainee reporter with the South Yorkshire Times in 1984 before, three years later, joining the sports desk of the Derby Telegraph, where I have been ever since.
Most of that time in Derby has been as the newspaper’s cricket writer, a role that brought national recognition in the 2012 and 2013 England and Wales Cricket Board awards. I have also been a contributor for the last nine years to the Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack and have had many articles published in national magazines, annuals and newspapers.
The hefty workload of writing as a profession meant writing for pleasure was largely left on the back burner but changed priorities at work made it possible – essential, even – to pick up the threads of one of the many half-formed novels in my computer files and, this time, see it through to publication.
Sunbeam was the result but it was never the intention to stop there. Family Business was well on the way by the time Sunbeam was published and a third novel, possibly the start of a series, is already well into the planning stage.
I was born in Sheffield and have lived in Derby since 1988 with my partner, Sue. We have two sons.

Synopsis :

Family Business CoverFamily historian Graham Hasselhoff thought there were no skeletons in his cupboard. That is, until the day he met the son he never knew he had.Getting to know Andreas, who is now the boss of a road haulage firm, soon leads him to a trail of arson, beatings, mysterious warnings – and murder. Can his son really be behind this deadly business? Graham has to quickly work out if Andreas is an impetuous eccentric – or a dangerously ruthless criminal.

Amazon

Excerpt :

The noise jolted him out of his deep sleep with the violence of an explosion. Five mini-explosions. He sat upright with a shocked gasp and attempted to calibrate his addled senses in the unrevealing darkness of an unfamiliar bedroom but could not even be certain if he was suddenly awake or remained locked in the false reality of a panicked dream.
There were the noises again. Five loud bangs. They came from below and this time there was a voice, shouting, demanding.
‘Open the door!’
Graham fumbled on the bedside cabinet for his glasses and tried to focus on the digital figures of the alarm clock. 3:58.
‘Graham! What is it? What’s that noise?’ Janet was sitting up now and had grabbed his arm.
‘I don’t know. It’s the middle of the night.’
What the hell could it be? It sounded like the noise was coming from the front door.
Five more bangs.
‘Open the door! Last chance, open the door!’
‘God, Gray – who is it?’ She was almost hysterical, frantic, frightened.
‘I don’t …Christ, what the …Jeez.’
He shot to his feet and stumbled towards the bedroom light, switching it on and instinctively looking around for anything he could grab as a weapon to defend himself against whoever was announcing themselves with such undisguised threat. He stood blinking, in his baggy t-shirt and loose cotton shorts, moving only in sharp, jerky twitches and feeling like his heart was about to burst out of his throat, struggling to make any sense of this nightmarish awakening.
There was another noise, heavier and louder than the others, a thud against the door which shook the whole house. Two seconds later and there was another.
‘Gray! They’re breaking in! They’re trying to break the door down! They’re coming in for us!’

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @RandomTTours / #QandAs : The Last Lemming #TheLastLemming – Chris Chalmers @CCsw19

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

The Last Lemming BT Poster

Today I’m on the ‘The Last Lemming’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tour.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Chris Chalmers Author picChris Chalmers was born in Lancashire and lives in south-west London. He’s been the understudy on Mastermind, visited 40 countries and swum with marine iguanas. His first novel, ‘Five To One’, was winner of a debut novel competition and nominated for the Polari First Book Prize; his latest, ‘The Last Lemming’, is out now in paperback and ebook. He has written a diary for 42 years and never missed a night.
Click on a reading from ‘The Last Lemming’, or a Five-To-ONE-MINUTE-MOVIE for a 60-second intro to the main characters and themes of ‘Five To One’. Or search ‘chris chalmers novelist’ on YouTube, for clips of Chris reading from his other books, poems about Christmas Eve and butcher’s shops, and fox cubs dancing to ABBA. (Yep, it’s as high-brow as that.)

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Synopsis :

• Paperback: 334 pages
• Publisher: J.Mendel Books (20 May 2020)
• Language: English
• ISBN-10: 0993323944
• ISBN-13: 978-0993323942

The Last Lemming Front CoverTV naturalist ‘Prof Leo’ Sanders makes it to his deathbed without a whiff of scandal — then confesses his career-defining wildlife discovery was a hoax.
A National Treasure shattering his own reputation on YouTube is enough to spark a media frenzy, and the curiosity of part-time journalism student Claire Webster who makes him the subject of her dissertation.
Her investigations lead to Prof Leo’s estranged family, and a high-flying advertising guru he also slandered in the video.
Ultimately Claire uncovers the truth behind the discovery of the Potley Hill Lemming — the first new species of British mammal in a century.
It’s a mystery spanning four decades; a tale of greed, obsession and long-forgotten murder at a lonely beauty spot.

‘A revered TV naturalist with a guilty secret, a cute critter, a brand of stout and a lovelorn personal trainer all collide with tragi-comic results in this witty whydunnit. The Last Lemming combines pathos, humour and mystery to irresistible effect.’
– Suzi Feay, literary critic

The Last Lemming Graphic 2

Amazon

Q&A :

Hi

First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂

Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’m originally from Lancashire but have spent most of my life in London. I’d been working as an advertising copywriter for fifteen years when I decided to go freelance and try and write that novel I was always talking about. Never really expected to finish it. Eight months later I’d written Dinner At The Happy Skeleton. You could have knocked me down with a feather.

Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
I grew up on Dr Who books (like Sarah Waters). Now I mostly read contemporary fiction. King of the Badgers by Philip Hensher and Capital by John Lanchester are big favourites. But I struggle to find things I really like, and that’s what drives me as a novelist. Consciously or not, I’m trying to write the books I want to read.

Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Out of curiosity, any really successful thriller writer. It’s not a genre I’d attempt because my brain isn’t twisty enough, but I’m in awe of people who do can it well.

If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
Glory, from my novel Five To One. More than any other character, she’s the one people tell me they love. She has a heart of gold and she’d be the perfect guest.

Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I won’t let myself succumb to rituals. The only way to write a book is head-down, bum-on-seat, no excuses. I usually start about 8am, break from 11 till 2 for gym and lunch, then work through till Channel Four news at 7pm. I aim for a thousand words a day and that’s usually about right.

Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
If I look hard enough at almost anything I’ve written, I can usually trace it back to my own experience, however loosely. I’ve travelled quite a lot so I only
ever write about places I know; I’d just been to the Galapagos Islands when I wrote my second novel, so making sure that was in there somehow was a key criterion! … And FYI I only know lovely people, so of course they’ve nothing to worry about …

Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
Plotter. I’d like to be the kind of writer who dives in regardless. But the idea I could get 30K words in then not have a clue what happens next scares the pants off me.

Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
In total contradiction to the above: dive in! Nothing is as daunting as a blank page, so get something — anything — down. It’s far easier to work with something than nothing.

What are your futureplans as an author?
I’m currently on the fourth draft of my next novel, Fenella Woodruff’s Fair Share (title TBC). Likely publication summer 2021.

Last, but not least: Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Those chirpy TV pundits … You never know what’s going on beneath the surface …

Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Chris Chalmers.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

 

 

 

P.S. Are you an author (or publisher) who also wants a FREE interview like this? You can always contact me via e-mail!

 

#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @annecater / #PromoPost : The City Among Stars #TheCityAmongTheStars – Francis Carsac @flametreepress

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

FINALThe City Among the Stars

Today I’m on the ‘The City Among Stars’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tour.
To promote this book I have a some ‘basic’ information for you.

About the Author :

Francis CarsacFrancis Carsac, a pseudonym for the world-renowned French scientist, geologist, and archaeologist Francois Bordes, wrote and published six novels during the golden age of science fiction.
Never before published in English, these novels resonate with timely issues ranging from climate control to racism and greed and tell the stories of characters whose challenges and triumphs clearly relate to many of the problems we encounter today. He has been translated and published into Russian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Hungarian, Estonian amongst others.

Synopsis :

City Among Stars CoverThe first English translation of the celebrated Golden Age Science Fiction Classic.

Tankar Holroy, Lieutenant in the Stellar Guard of earth’s Empire, floats in space after his spaceship is sabotaged. Rescued by an enormous, unknown ship, he awakes to discover himself saved by the People of the Stars who are born and live in space with minimal contact with planets and their occupants whom they call, with contempt, planetaries.
The chilly welcome he receives from the ship’s leader, the Teknor, is followed by overt hostility from the other inhabitants of the Tilsin. Only a woman named Orena reaches out to him.
Tankar soon realizes that he was rescued for his knowledge of tracers, the technology that allows Empire ships to track others through hyperspace, a technology the People of the Stars lack. Out of spite, he refuses to deliver the one piece of knowledge that can protect the people who saved but now spurn him – and the consequences will be catastrophic.

“This stunning classic stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Arthur C. Clark, Asimov, and Heinlein. No devotee of great SF should miss The City of the Stars.”
– New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear

Amazon

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @annecater / #Excerpt : The Heron Kings – Eric Lewis @TheHeronKing @FlameTreePress

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

FINAL Heron Kings BT Poster

Today I’m on the ‘The Heron Kings’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Eric Lewis Author PicBy day Eric Lewis is a PhD research chemist weathering the latest rounds of mergers and layoffs and still trying to remember how to be a person again long after surviving grad school. In addition to subjecting his writing to one rejection after another, he can be found gathering to himself as many different sharp and pointies as possible and searching for the perfect hiking trail, archery range of single malt Scotch. Don’t ask where, because he’s never lived anywhere for longer than five years.
His short fiction has been published in Nature, Electric Spec, Allegory, Bards and Sages Quarterly, the anthologies Into Darkness Peering, Best Indie Speculative Fiction Vol. 1 and Crash Code, as well as other venues detailed at ericlewis.ink. THE HERON KINGS is his first novel.

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Synopsis :

The Heron KIngs Final CoverAfter a warlord slaughters her patients, Sister Alessia quits the cloister and strikes out on her own to heal the victims of a brutal dynastic conflict. Her roaming forest camp unwittingly becomes the center of a vengeful peasant insurgency, raiding the forces of both sides to survive. Alessia struggles to temper their fury as well as tend wounds, consenting to ever greater violence to keep her new charges safe. When they uncover proof of a foreign conspiracy prolonging the bloodshed, Alessia risks the very lives she’s saved to expose the truth and bring the war to an end.

Amazon

Excerpt :

PART ONE
CHAPTER ONE
An Absurd World

A fresh spurt of blood spattered into Alessia’s face, painting a smear across her cheek. She didn’t flinch this time, barely noticed it with all her attention focused on the task at hand – the sharp instruments, the rent flesh, her own precise movements. The soldier lying before her howled, and the walls of the temple chamber echoed it back tenfold.
“Mother of gods, stop!”
“Oh, shut up,” said Alessia, bracing her elbow against his clavicle to try and stop the squirming. “And hold still, you’re only making it worse.”
“You’re makin’ it worse! It hurts!”
“Good! That’s how you know you’re not dead. Which is probably what you deserve, but not…quite…yet.” She stabbed her needle around the jagged hole in his side again. One last time and it’d be over, one last time he screamed.
“Aargh! Damned evil witches, damned temples—”
Alessia slapped her victim, hard. “Insult me all you like, but you will not blaspheme against the Polytheon in here. There, done. You’ll live, for what it’s worth.”
With the bleeding stopped, Alessia turned away, bone-weary. Across the nave a dozen and more like scenes played out – some with screamed profanities, some with moans, and some in silence. The sisters flitted about like angels of death, praying for the lost souls of some and sending others back into the world for another measure of misery.
The convent temple was a circular, sepulchral space of hewn stone, capped by a great dome painted with frescoes of gods and saints and men reaching up toward a precious disc of colored glass at its apex that turned noonday sunlight blue. In days of peace that seemed now so ancient, worshipers would assemble around that circle to receive the benediction of the gods from the Mother tending the altar. Now the greatest blessing to be hoped for was survival, and a hazy mist of steam and desperate sweat hung in the air. Alessia dipped her hands into the basin set in the midst of it all, the water near scalding though she’d been scrubbed too numb to feel it. A young acolyte rushed past to replace the pink rags on the altar with fresh ones before disappearing again.
“You enjoyed that.” The accusing voice behind her did make her flinch, even after three years. Still, she tried and failed to hold back a little grin.
“Is it not proper,” Alessia said, turning slowly, “to take joy from one’s work, Mother?”
“Don’t play clever with me girl, you well know what I mean.” Mother Tanusia was herself covered in gore that lent her glare of disapproval an unsettling aspect.
“Well, why not? Hard to drum up much sympathy – these men are the lucky ones. Those they killed not as much.”
Tanusia shook a gnarly finger in Alessia’s red-streaked face. “That is not your concern, nor mine! Nothing outside these walls is. I’ve told you a thousand times.”
“I know, I know. Where’s this lot from, anyway?”
“Who can say anymore?” Tanusia sighed. “Some pointless skirmish not far away, come to us from both sides. Hard to believe, but it was less savage when it was professionals doing the fighting. These poor fools know nothing but to hack at each other like lunatics. This war has to end soon. They’re running out of men to fight it.”
“Maybe they’ll start drafting women.”
“Don’t you even think that! You just try to find new reserves of patience and sympathy. Be a shame for a bright thing like you to turn cynic so young.”
“Yes, Mother.”
“And remember, this temple serves as a hospital, not a torture chamber. Try to find some opiphine, or wolfsbane, something before you cut men open again.” There’d been no opiphine to be found since the first season of the war.
“Yes, Mother.” As Tanusia turned away to some other task, Alessia’s patient put an emphasis on the point by crying out anew.
“And will you please shut him up!”
“Yes, Mother.”

Magic of Worlds - Map

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @annecater / #Excerpt : Vulcan’s Forge – Robert Mitchell Evans @rmitchellevans @flametreepress

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Vulcan's Forge BT Poster

Today I’m on the ‘Vulcan’s Forge’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Robert Mitchell EvansRobert Mitchell Evans was born in North Caroline but split his early life between that state and sunny Florida before brief and ultimately unsuccessful tour in the United States Navy.
A life-long enthusiastic fan of film and genre fiction Robert’s interests include all form of science, history, and politics. He has played role-playing games since the early 80s and enjoys a wide array of board and card games as well. He haunts local conventions and his favorite Shakespearean play is Macbeth. Like so many ex-sailors he lives in San Diego with his sweetie-wife and an ever-growing film library.

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Synopsis :

Vulcans Forge CoverJason Kessler doesn’t fit in the society of Nocturnia, the sole colony that survived the Earth’s destruction. Between the colony’s dedication to a distorted vision of mid-twentieth century Americana, its sexually repressive culture, and the expectation that his most important duty is marriage and children Jason rebels, throwing himself into an illicit and dangerous affair with Pamela Guest, but Pamela harbors a secret. Soon the lovers are engaged in a lethal game of cat and mouse with the colony’s underworld head and the secrets Jason unlocks upend everything he knew, exposing dangers far beyond Nocturnia and its obsessions.

Amazon

Excerpt :

I went through the door and found Forge sitting on a desk just as Pamela had described. It presented a display with a few controls on its top, and aside from a power cable only one cord connected it directly to the colonial network. I disconnected the network connection first, switched off the main power, and as I reached for the power cord gunshots rang out.
I dashed into the office; Pamela took a cool step backward as Eddie, up and beside the desk, reached out toward her with one hand, blood spreading across his wide chest. Her gun fired again. A fragment of my mind noted how soft the shot sounded, not what I had expected. Eddie jerked, his face went slack, and then he toppled face-first, bounced off the desk and hit the floor with a dull, wet smack.
Pamela’s eyes turned toward to me and she flew into my arms.
“He came at me,” she sobbed into my ear. “I had to do it.”
I looked down at Eddie on the floor, a pool of blood spreading from the body.
“I didn’t want to,” she continued as I held her, stroking her like a child.
What the hell do we do now?
“We’ve got to get out of here,” I said. “Before anyone comes looking.”
The gunshot was so soft that I doubted anyone outside of the suite heard a thing.
“Is Forge disconnected?”
“Almost.”
I released her and started back toward the other room. She grabbed my hand and pulled my attention to her.
“Not yet. We can use it to get rid of Eddie,” she said.
“You already did that.”
“No, I mean his body. We can’t have anyone finding it. Not while we’re still trying to escape.”
I looked past her to Eddie, face-down and unmoving.
“Forge?”
“Eddie’s done it before,” she explained. “Forge fabricates some sort of enzyme stuff that just dissolves bodies.”
My stomach flipped and threatened to empty itself. She was starting toward the other room when Eddie moaned.
She stopped and we both stared at him. A finger twitched but other than that he didn’t move. I stepped one pace closer and studied him. His back moved as he breathed short shallow breaths. Pamela moved around me and knelt next to Eddie, pointing her gun at his head.
“No!”
I rushed over and grabbed the pistol, pulling it out of line. She fought me for a moment and then let me point the gun harmlessly toward a wall. I tried to look her in the eye, but she stared at Eddie with intense, burning hatred.
I said, “We can’t just kill him.”
“It’s only finishing what we started.”
I managed to walk her a step or two away from Eddie, carefully avoiding the growing pool of blood.
“Defending yourself is one thing,” I explained. “Shooting him in the head, when he’s wounded and helpless, is plain murder.”
“He’s dangerous.” She tore her eyes away from Eddie and looked at me. “You have no idea. If you did, if you knew half the things he’s done, you’d shoot.”
“I hope not.” Again I moved her a bit farther away. “He can’t hurt us. Nothing has changed. We take Forge, we cover our tracks, and he can’t find us.”
Her face turned hard and grim and for a moment I expected her to throw a punch at me, but then she sighed and her shoulders dropped.
“He’s probably going to die anyway.”
She was right. We couldn’t risk calling any of his people for help.
Maybe they’d find him in time, maybe they wouldn’t. Either way I wanted to get out of there without becoming a murderer.
“Help me with Forge,” I said and pulled her toward the other room.
Pamela had acquiesced but I wouldn’t have bet that her anger had run its course. She gave Eddie one last glare and followed me.
Quickly we disconnected Forge and slipped it into a bag. I was hefting it over one shoulder when an alarm sounded. Pamela, moving faster than me, hurried to the desk and snatched up Eddie’s slate.
She cursed and yelled, “More customers coming!”
Teetering under Forge’s weight, I hurried to her side. The slate announced Phil and Stewart had already cleared new arrivals. A bright red icon flashed as the elevator climbed the building.
“This way.”

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @annecater / #Excerpt : Eileen: The Making of George Orwell #Eileen #GeorgeOrwell – Sylvia Topp @sylviatopp @unbounders

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Eileen BT Poster

Today I’m on the ‘Eileen: The Making of George Orwell’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Sylvia Topp Author PicSylvia Topp has worked in publishing since college, starting as a copy editor on medical journals, then moving to freelance editing at major literary publishing houses. She was the long-time wife and partner of Tuli Kupferberg, a Beat poet who later was a co-founder, in 1964, of the Fugs, a legendary rock and roll band. Together Sylvia and Tuli wrote, edited, and designed over thirty books and magazines, including As They Were, 1001 Ways to Live Without Working, and Yeah! magazine. Sylvia joined the staff at The Soho Weekly News and later The Village Voice, before finishing her publishing career at Vanity Fair. Eileen is her first book. She lives in Kingston, Ontario.

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Synopsis :

Eileen CoverIn 1934, Eileen O’Shaughnessy’s futuristic poem, ‘End of the Century, 1984′, was published. The next year, she would meet George Orwell, then known as Eric Blair, at a party. “Now,’ he remarked that night, ‘that’s the kind of girl I would like to marry.’ Years later, Orwell would name his greatest work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, in homage to the memory of Eileen, the woman who shaped his life and his art in ways that have never been acknowledged by history, until now.
From the time they spent in a tiny village tending goats and chickens, through the Spanish Civil War, the couple’s narrow escape from the destruction of their London flat during a German bombing raid, and their adoption of a baby boy, this is the first account of the Blairs’ nine-year marriage, up until Eileen’s untimely death in 1945. It is also a vivid picture of bohemianism, political engagement, and sexual freedom in the 1930s and ’40s.
Through impressive depth of research, illustrated throughout with photos and images from the time, this captivating and inspiring biography offers a completely new perspective on Orwell himself, and most importantly tells the life story of an exceptional woman who has been unjustly overlooked.

Amazon

Excerpt :

Chapter 5
A WHIRLWIND COURTSHIP

As Eileen and Lydia walked up Parliament Hill Road to the last house before the climb onto Hampstead Heath, Lydia slipped and her knee started bleeding. So she was in “a far from festive mood” as they neared the house where the party was being held. But that was not uncommon for her. Her husband had recently left her for another woman, which had shocked and depressed her, and Eileen might even have had to persuade her friend to venture out that night. Eileen, who would turn 30 soon, hadn’t yet found anyone she cared enough about to marry, and she’d been intrigued when Rosalind had promised they would meet some published authors at the party. Being occasional writers themselves, she and Lydia were curious enough to make the long trip, although neither of them had heard of the two authors mentioned, Richard Rees and George Orwell.
The party soon spread from Orwell’s small room into Rosalind’s larger quarters across the hall. When Eileen and Lydia entered what Lydia remembered as a “sparsely furnished and poorly lit” room, they noticed in particular, among the dozen or so guests, two very tall men “draped over an unlit fireplace” in deep conversation. Lydia was not at all impressed with their appearance, saying, “Their clothes were drab and their faces lined and unhealthy.” Russian was her native language, and she went on to elaborate that they looked, “in Chekhov’s immortal phrase, rather ‘moth eaten.’ ”1 However, the description “moth-eaten” does not appear in the English versions of any of Chekhov’s plays. It has recently been suggested that this was Lydia’s own translation of “oblezly barin,” as used in The Cherry Orchard, meaning literally a “shabby-looking gentleman.”2
One of these tall men stopped in mid-conversation to admire Eileen as he watched her for a moment from across the room. He then quickly approached her and introduced himself as Eric Blair, the name Orwell still used with his friends and for all his writing except his novels. Orwell must have been remembering this electric moment when he wrote, a few years later, that some beautiful images in Yeats’s poetry could “suddenly overwhelm one like a girl’s face seen across a room.”3 Lydia didn’t record what she did the rest of the evening, but Rosalind noticed that Orwell “paid a good bit of attention to Eileen,” and that Eileen welcomed it.4 It’s significant, considering later events, that when seeing the two women for the first time Orwell immediately chose Eileen. Perhaps his first preference for her helped shape Lydia’s early distaste for the man.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @annecater / #GuestPost : The Last Cuckoo #TheLastCuckoo – Maria Frankland @writermaria_f

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

The Last Cuckoo BT Poster

Today I’m on the ‘The Last Cuckoo’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tour.
To promote this book I have a guest post written by its author, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Maria Frankland Author PicMaria Frankland’s life began at 40 when she escaped an unhappy marriage and began making a living from her own writing and becoming a teacher of creative writing.
The rich tapestry of life with all its turbulent times has enabled her to pour experience, angst and lessons learned into the writing of her novels and poetry.
She recognises that the darkest places can exist within family relationships and this is reflected in the domestic thrillers she writes.
She is a ‘born ‘n’ bred’ Yorkshirewoman, a mother of two and has recently found her own ‘happy ever after’ after marrying again.
Still in her forties, she is now going to dedicate the rest of her working life to writing books and inspiring other writers to also achieve their dreams too!

Website
Twitter

Synopsis :

• Format: Kindle Edition
• File Size: 7824 KB
• Print Length: 291 pages
• Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
• Publisher: Autonomy Press (4 Mar. 2020)

MAR1433 ArtworkDo you listen to your mother? Even after she’s dead?
Anna Hardaker is following you …
This seemingly innocent Tweet fills Jamie Hardaker with confusion and fear. After all, his mother Anna has been dead for nearly three weeks.
What follows is an orchestrated Twitter campaign to lead those Anna loved, and didn’t love so much, to the truth behind her “accidental” death.

Amazon

Guest Post :

Thank you for giving me the opportunity of writing this guest blog. It is a privilege to be featured amongst such a high calibre of authors that have written or been featured here before me.
This guest post is inspired by the title of your blog – the magic of worlds. I have written since my very difficult childhood, at which time, I loved nothing more than creating magical, dreamy, perfect worlds which I could escape to.
I was also drawn to read books that offered this experience like The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and anything by Enid Blyton or Roald Dahl.
As a writer, I feel that the worlds we create in our novels are an essential component and it is vital to bring each setting to life in order that our readers can be immersed. I teach creative writing and often talk about the importance of readers experiencing our worlds through all the senses. Whilst visualisation is the most important aspect, readers must also be enabled to smell, hear, feel and even taste within the worlds we have created for them.
Once they are ‘there’ alongside the characters, they can then fully engage with the story and find the empathy and concern required to keep the pages turning.
I write domestic thrillers, therefore magical, escapist worlds do not exist in the writing I now do as an adult. My novels shine a light on the darkness that exists in situations that are supposed to be safe and secure. Even seemingly ordinary settings must be brought to life so the reader can inhabit them.
I always advise my writing students to try and write in the settings they are setting their books in, if possible. The Last Cuckoo (Autonomy Press) is set in my own house and I have also written in the pub, other people’s houses, the supermarket – all very ordinary places but which still need brining to life and with a unique edge. I have based certain scenes, such as in the chapel of rest and crematorium on personal experience.
As a writer, I naturally absorb my surroundings and then can breathe them back out into my writing in an authentic way. I try to treat setting as though it is almost another character in my story. It can really help to create and effect mood. The use of darkness, the weather and whether somewhere is silent or bustling sets a tone and helps foreshadow what is to come.
I realise that readers will read the words and create their own images and ideas on where the story is set based on their own experience and find it exciting. I am handing my settings over to them and allowing them to become theirs. I find, as well, that it’s the smaller details that bring a place to life. The creak on the stairs, the heated hallway on a winter evening or the view from a window. We gift these to our readers and draw them out of their own worlds and into ours for a while. It’s a wonderful partnership.
Here is an extract which focusses on setting from chapter three of ‘The Last Cuckoo.’

“I feel so alone as I walk up our path, bracing myself for the empty house. Normally it would smell of clean laundry, candles and dinner being prepared. As I push the door open, there’s the slightest whiff of our former life, the plug-in air freshener and hint of your perfume. Then as I walk into the lounge, I gag at the stench of lilies. They were OK when they first arrived after the funeral date was announced, but now that they’ve opened, they stink. I wrench them all from their vases, march back out the front door and dump them into the garden recycle bin.
I storm back in and gather up the sympathy cards. At first, they were a comfort but now I can’t stand looking at them anymore. I start doing the same with the framed photographs. They’re all over the place.”

I’ll end this guest blog by ‘interpretating’ the other meaning of the title of this blog, ‘the magic of words.’ Words have always been and always will be magical to me. Both as a reader and a writer, they have provided me with escapism, inspiration and therapy. But the biggest magic is the unsigned contract that exists between the writer and the reader. ‘If you stay with me, I will stay with you.”

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #DamppebblesBlogTours @damppebbles / #GuestPost : Paper Sparrows #PaperSparrows – Nathalie Abi-Ezzi @EzziAbi @HhouseBooks

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Paper Sparrows banner

Today I’m on the ‘Paper Sparrows’ blogtour, organised by Damppebbles Blog Tour.
To promote this book I have a guest post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Nathalie Abi-EzziNathalie Abi-Ezzi was born in Beirut, and has lived in Lebanon, Austria and the UK.
It was while working on her Ph.D in English Literature at King’s College London that she realized that she wanted to write her own novels rather than just analyse other people’s. So, while working variously as an editor, teacher and tutor, she wrote and published several prize-winning short stories and her first novel, A Girl Made of Dust (4th Estate, 2008), which was short-listed for the Desmond Elliot Prize and the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, and was the winner of the LiBeraturpreis in 2011.
She has, for better or worse, always been given to utterly pointless yet entirely joyful activities like playing music, drawing, painting, reading, and going on long walks. She has a particular interest in animal welfare, and has volunteered at shelters and rescue centres for many years. She always has a rescue dog by her side while writing, which is perhaps why animals invariably find their way into her work …

Social Media:
Twitter
Instagram
Website

Synopsis :

Paper Sparrow HR coverIt is the summer of 2006, and nineteen-year-old London music student, Layla, returns home for the holidays to a now peaceful Lebanon. When she arrives, though, she finds that her troubled younger brother has gone missing. “Borrowing” her father’s car, she heads to Beirut to search for him, meeting a variety of people along the way. But her quest is cut short when, without warning, Beirut comes under heavy artillery fire. A new war has begun, and now she is trapped in the middle of it.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Waterstones
Foyles
WHSmith

Publishing Information:
Published in paperback and digital format by Holland House Books on 5th March 2020.

Guest Post :

War and Music

At the age of about seven or eight, I attended a performance by Humphrey Lyttelton and his band in my home town. The noteworthy part is that the small town was in Lebanon, and this was the middle of the civil war. I had heard nothing like that music before, and nor, to judge by the audience’s discomfort, had they. When Humph took out what looked like the rubber end of a kitchen plunger and clamped it onto the end of his trumpet, I didn’t know whether to laugh or be embarrassed. Either way, the experience left a deep impression on me, not least because this man should have bothered to leave the safety of his home country and come to my war-torn one, and to a small town nobody had heard of, to play his music for us.
In the days of face-to-face warfare, military bands would lead the soldiers onto the battlefield and the music they played would (in theory anyway) inspire patriotic feeling and courage for the fight ahead. With the widespread ownership of radios during WWII, music became a propaganda tool, blaring out in camps, factories and hospitals, providing a morale boost for those who were away and comfort to those waiting at home.
Perhaps more than any other art-form, music is a token of people’s need to rise above the violence of their everyday lives at such times. Shostakovich worked feverishly to complete his seventh symphony, which was performed by a starving orchestra dressed in suits and bow ties. St. Petersburg, then Leningrad, had been under siege for nearly a year, and the musicians were weak with hunger, but the concert received an hour-long ovation. Some fifty years later, during the siege of another city, the “cellist of Sarajevo”, Vedran Smailovic, took his stool and cello to a small square where twenty-two people had been killed while waiting to buy bread. Disregarding the shelling and sniper fire, he sat and played Albinoni’s Adagio in G minor, and did so every day for twenty-two days.
In Paper Sparrows, my second novel, Layla is a London music undergrad who goes back home to Lebanon for the summer break. Her mother plays the piano but never had the opportunity to pursue or develop her talent. Layla does have that opportunity, but when she arrives home and finds that her younger brother is missing, she abandons everything to go and find him. On her journey, she meets another student, Joe, and that first evening, in a university hall in Beirut, she sits down at a small, rickety plastic keyboard to play.
‘The Royal College, with its twenty-six practice rooms, and another twenty-two sound-proof practice rooms, a sum total of one hundred and fifty-six pianos, has vanished like a stone into water. She looks up at the window, through which she can see part of an awning, branches of pine tree, a piece of evening sky. So, five octaves instead of seven. That means almost nothing after Mozart. She needs something compact and precise, a Baroque cut jewel.’ It’s far from ideal, but when she starts to play, ‘everything else, including herself, ceases to exist. It is no longer her brain that generates sound, but little engines in her fingers, tiny brains that already know the shape of the music. She does not have to think, and there is a feeling in her mind like light.’
But that night, the so-called ‘July War’ of 2006 breaks out. Beirut comes under heavy aerial bombardment, and music takes on a new meaning.
Years later, I heard Humphrey Lyttelton play again in London. By then I was a jazz lover, and the experience was wonderful. Yet the evening imprinted more clearly on my memory is the one where I sat in the darkness of my local childhood cinema and listened to sounds that carried.

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

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#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @annecater / #Excerpt : The Goblets Immortal #TheGobletsImmortal – Beth Overmyer @Bethyo @flametreepress

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

FINAL Goblets Immortal BT Poster

Today I’m on the ‘The Goblets Immortal’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Beth OvermyerBeth Overmyer has authored several books—In a Pickle, a middle grade novella, and Circus in a Shot Glass, a women’s fiction novel, being among them. She’s in love with the fantasy genre, mysteries—especially when there’s tea and/or a quirky sleuth involved—, and wouldn’t say no to reading and writing in every genre but hardcore horror and erotica. Influencers to her writing include J.R.R. Tolkien and Brandon Sanderson, though Douglas Adams may be lurking in there somewhere.
Love of writing and reading has led to her leading a creative writing group at her local public library, where she once was a pupil. But she doesn’t see herself as a teacher: she’s more of a facilitator and encourager when needed. Every other week during the school year, they meet and perform various writing exercises, which each individual’s encouraged to then share.
When she’s not writing, reading, editing, drinking tea, or facilitating creative writing meetings, Beth enjoys hanging out with her writing pals for fellowship, brainstorming, and great company.

Beth’s website
Twitter

Synopsis :

Goblets Immortal CoverIn a land where magic’s feared, a rare magical kind exists: the Blest, products of the Goblets Immortal. Aidan’s a Blest on the run, forced to return home. He made his family vanish decades ago, but believes there’s a way to bring them back.
Whispers of a new fear take shape in Meraude, a mage who hates all magic-kind. When she appears in Aidan’s dreams offering a bargain for the return of his family, Aidan’s desires battle with his self-preservation.
Is it wise for Aidan to seek the Goblets Immortal for Meraude’s unknown purposes? Friend and foe blur the magical lines, and Aidan must discern who will shake his hand or slit his throat.

Amazon

Excerpt :

…Aidan tore from the room, Calling objects to his side as he ran, only to Release them as he realised their uselessness. “I’ve been a fool.” He made it to the back door, Calling a paring knife from the kitchen, the only object of use he could feel. It jammed into the wall before it even got to his hand.
“Aidan Ingledark,” boomed a deep voice from the front of the house. Footsteps crashed overhead. How had he not felt the hidden soldiers’ Pulls? “More iron,” he snarled. Had Tristram padded rooms with panels of the metal in anticipation of this visit?
“Wound him if you have to, but I’d rather take him whole,” said a voice belonging to Lord Dewhurst.
Aidan ducked into the kitchen, sending the scullery maid scuttling up the servants’ staircase. He raced out the kitchen door.
Three arrows whizzed past his face and embedded into the wooden frame. He felt the archers’ Pulls. Five of them in the brush, two in the haymow in the barn. Those had been warning shots; Lord Dewhurst’s bowmen were renowned for their accuracy.
The arrow tips, of course, were iron. But the bows were mere wood. Those he could deal with.
Aidan closed his eyes, feeling for the bows and, one by one, Dismissed them from their respective archers. It was on the fourth bow that another arrow flew. Aidan felt its approach, and hastily Dismissed the shaft. Unbalanced, the arrow tip missed its mark yet still came within dangerous proximity to Aidan’s person.
He grimaced as he ran across the yard. Get to Triumph and you’ll be free. Get to Triumph, Aidan told himself.
But the archers were not through with him, and the men in the house and around the house were closing in. The bowmen in the loft threw wood at Aidan, but he Pushed each log, block, and board back at them, not pausing to see if his aim was true.
The men in the brush charged with their iron pokers. Aidan sensed the Pull of the new bows being drawn behind his back.
He didn’t stand a chance running backward, forward, left or right. There was only one option open, the trick up his sleeve. Aidan stopped and closed his eyes. He hadn’t done this since he was a boy, hadn’t needed or, rather, wanted to. Not even Tristram knew of this part of his blasted abilities.
Aidan let the tension leak out of his body as if Dismissing it. His knees became weak. He relaxed, Releasing every object and every person’s Pull on him.
He was now surrounded, and he could still feel at least two persons whom he’d yet to Release himself from.
“What is he doing? Seize him.”
They were too late. Aidan let go of his Existence, and Dismissed himself into Nothingness…

The-Goblets-Immortal-ISBN-9781787584396.99.0

The Magic of Wor(l)ds

#BlogTour #RandomThingsTours @annecater / #Excerpt : The Blood Dimmed Tide #TheBloodDimmedTide – Michael R. Johnston @MREJohnston @flametreepress

– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –

Blood Dimmed Tide BT Poster

Today I’m on the ‘The Blood Dimmed Tide’ blogtour, organised by Random Things Tours.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.

About the Author :

Michael R JohnstonBorn in the San Francisco bay area and raised in Napa, California, Michael R. Johnston grew up steeped in everything Science Fiction and Fantasy from Asimov to Zelazny, as well as endless terrible SF TV shows he still has a slightly embarrassed fondness for.
In the early 90s, he took “a year” off from college. He spent time as a court process server, a retail sales associate, a sandwich maker, and a data entry tech, before finding himself in a management position with a research firm.
A decade later, burnt out from his job in political research and facing 30, he decided he’d had enough and returned to college, graduating with honors from California State University, Sacramento.
In fall 2006, he became a high school English teacher, a job he likens to herding a swarm of angry bees. It’s the best job he’s ever had.
He currently lives in Sacramento, California, with his wife and daughter. When he’s not writing or teaching, he spends time with his family, plays video games and tabletop RPGs, and reads.
He can be found here and on Twitter.

Synopsis :

Blood Dimmed Tide CoverThe sequel to The Widening Gyre, praised by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal and more!
Reclaiming Earth from the Zhen was only the first battle. Now Tajen Hunt and his fellow colonists must fight for their fledgling colony’s survival. Tajen’s mission to seek aid from the Kelvaki Assembly is cut short when the Zhen invade Earth. Now he, Liam, and Kiri must return to Earth and liberate the colony from brutal occupation. When Tajen learns the Zhen plan to destroy a human fleet amassing in preparation to help Earth, he and his crew must escape the planet once more and warn them.

Amazon

Excerpt :

…The new Earth Council gathered in the colony administration centre’s conference room an hour later, mugs of steaming tea in our hands. Since we’d defeated the Zhen force that had tried to pry us off the reclaimed Earth a year ago, we’d been rebuilding the civilisation they’d destroyed over a thousand years before. Many humans had left Zhen and Terra, the human colony world in the Zhen Empire, and taken up residence on our ancestral homeworld.
It was still a rough world, with a lot to be rediscovered, but it was coming along nicely. We’d built a small city, with the astoundingly unoriginal name ‘Landing’, and were moving outward slowly. There were some isolated settlements on other parts of the planet, some with reclaimed Old Earth names, and some with names inspired in the years of what was now becoming known as ‘the Big Lie’, the period of time in which we’d thought of the Zhen as our saviours, and not the architects of our misfortunes. I had never intended to become the leader of a colony, so when the original group of colonists who arrived with me had tried to make me the colony’s head, I immediately, without reservation, refused. We held elections a few weeks later, and chose Diana Adakai, a woman from Terra who had come with the first wave of humans, to join us. She headed a large group of people she called ‘Diné’, who she told me had worked very hard to remain ‘whole’ during the eight hundred years of the Big Lie. Ben had joined them, and was learning the language. It turned out his mother had been one of them, but he’d been raised by his father and hadn’t learned as a child.
Diana sat in her place at the head of the table and looked around the table. “While we have urgent matters to discuss, let us begin with the standard reports, please,” she said, setting her cup down on the table.
Kiri, to her immediate left, spoke first. “Network security has been upgraded with a new cypher,” she said, brushing her red hair back from her face. “I removed the Zhen back doors from all the software – and, by the way, you’re not paying me enough. It was damned difficult to do without crashing the whole system. We’re continuing to scour the system for more software traps, but I think we’ve got them all. We’re also replacing some of the most vulnerable Zhen equipment with Kelvaki equivalents, giving us another layer of security.”
“What about comms?” I asked, from beside her.
“All the ships in the fleet are now using the same comms equipment, and they’re protected by a Kelvaki encryption code. So far as we or the Kelvaki are aware, the Zhen haven’t broken this encryption. We’ll continue to update the keys and frequencies often.”
Diana nodded. “All the ships in the fleet,” she repeated softly. Her eyes met mine, and she sighed. “How many is that now, Tajen?”
I took a deep breath as I composed my answer. “Not enough,” I said. “We’ve only got two squads left – twenty-four ships in total. The Zhen attacks of the last month have been whittling us down even before today’s disaster.”
“What are they doing?” she asked.
I frowned; we’d discussed this before. I realised she was asking for the benefit of the others around the table. “It’s an attrition tactic,” I said.
“They could just come in with a huge fleet and overwhelm us, but the Zhen like to toy with their enemies when they can. This is designed to brutalise us psychologically. They want us at the edge so they can just push us over. They don’t just want to take Earth back. They want to break us completely as a people.”
“How many personnel did we lose today?”
“One hundred and fifteen,” I said.
“How long can we survive with our current numbers?”
“If they continue this campaign?” I bit my lip. “Maybe six months, at the current rate. But I’d say probably less – a lot less. My pilots were already beginning to fray. Today may have accelerated the process.”
She frowned. “So. We need more ships.”
“Yes.”…

The-Blood-Dimmed-Tide-ISBN-9781787583122.99.0

The Magic of Wor(l)ds