March additions to my bookblog

Three new indie titles added to my bookblog in March.

A fabulous, fantastical debut novel from Mark Mayes,
the long-awaited return of Esme Quentin in Wendy Percival's new genealogical mystery novella and a laugh-out-loud, who-dunnit from Ian Thompson.

The Gift Maker: Spellbinding and beautifully written, impossible to put down
by Mark Mayes 


Death of a Cuckoo: An Esme Quentin Short Read
by Wendy Percival 


Murder At The Jolly Jester (The Ronald Rowntree Mysteries Book 1)
by Ian Thompson 


15 Kindle books I really enjoyed reading.

At the start of March I awoke my bookblog from hibernation 

and after a Spring Clean and a Make-Over started to post comments on the books I'd read during the Big Sleep.

And what a great selection of titles they are!

The Devil You Know
by Terry Tyler


I Came to Find a Girl
by Jaq Hazell


54th State
by Ian Thompson


Silent Trauma
by Judith Barrow


The Geisha Hummingbird: a travel mystery
by Jeffrey Perren


Is it Her?
by Jonathan Hill and Kath Middleton


The Grayson Trilogy
by Georgia Rose


Chosen Child
by Linda Huber


Last Bite of the Cherry
by Margaret Cullingford


The Hollow Heart: Love will find a way (The Heartfelt Series Book 1)
by Adrienne Vaughan


An Off-Piste Christmas
by Julie Houston 


Never Again
by Nicky Clifford 


Only The Dead (DCI Bennett Book 1)
by Malcolm Hollingdrake 


The Other Son
by Nick Alexander 


Blind Date in Gibraltar
by Margaret M Dunlop 


Click here to read about the March additions to my bookblog.

Murder At The Jolly Jester by Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson is an interesting writer: part satirist, part humorist and overall great story-teller.

I've read both his earlier books:


by Ian Thompson

54th State 

by Ian Thompson

and found them to be unusual, engaging and very, very readable. 

But the book description for Ian Thompson's latest novel, Murder at The Jolly Jester, seemed to be taking the humour to a whole new level:

"Enjoy this laugh-out-loud dozy mystery as Ronald blunders from one crisis to the next."

Ronald is Ronald Rowntree the manager of the Jolly Jester Pub.
He lives and works at the Jolly Jester where one morning a corpse is found in the saloon bar......

Essentially the novel is a who-dunnit 

of the classic body in a room, how did it get there, who did the deed variety. Murder at the Jolly Jester also spins off into an exploration of village life which has all the overtones of big city crime and misdemeanours.

Sharply written with some hilarious one-liners, 

the zero-hours contract gag is my favourite, Murder at the Jolly Jester is Ronald's story throughout.
At first Ronald appears to be an unattractive, self-indulgent pub landlord but as the story develops so does Ronald's character. His journey of self-discovery and involvement in new relationships underpins the novel's complex plot. Ronald becomes more heroic and reveals unexpected strengths and traits.
Sharing village life with Ronald are a catalogue of characters who in many cases are also seen in a new light as the novel moves towards its unexpected finale.

In places the novel lives up to its laugh-out-loud billing but it's also dramatic, tense and quietly emotional. However, overall Murder at the Jolly Jester is funny and entertaining and I really enjoyed reading it.

Download details of Murder at the Jolly Jester can be found here:

The Other Son and Let the Light Shine by Nick Alexander

The first novel by Nick Alexander that I read was The Photographer's Wife. 

It's really good and my comments are here if you would like to read them although the formatting of the post seems to have become a little odd with the passing of time. During my blog's hibernation period I've read some more books by this marvelous author.

The Other Son is another great novel from Nick Alexander

The characters are so real that within a few chapters I felt like they were people I'd actually met. The author has a remarkable ability to get into the heads of older characters especially Alice.

From the book description:

Alice has been lying to herself for years, holding fast to the belief that the needs of her family far outweigh her own. But her outwardly successful marriage hides dark secrets, and for much of her life, the children were the only reason she stuck around. These days, though her successful banker son lives nearby, his young wife seems to do everything she can to keep Alice at bay. As for Alice's other son, he has always been something of a stranger and has been traveling for so long that Alice isn't even sure what continent he is on anymore. Alice can't help but wonder if the effort she expends presenting a united front to the outside world is actually helping anyone and what would happen if she suddenly stopped pretending. Could life, like the novels she devours, hold surprises in its closing chapters? And if she did shake everything up by admitting the truth about her marriage, would anyone be on her side? Has the time finally come for Alice to put her own needs first? For the first time in years, her heart is racing. Can Alice really change her life? Dare she even imagine such a thing?
I loved the way the author plays with the reader's feelings towards the characters by presenting contrasting facets of their personalities from the viewpoint of different characters.
The story-line is riveting and this is one of those books you're sorry to finish.
Although highly entertaining the novel gives you plenty to think about and lingers on for several days after finishing it.
You can imagine how thrilled I was to discover

The Other Son (Christmas Bonus):
A short-story length sequel for The Other Son

which tells you what happened next.
What a good idea!
The main novel reaches a satisfying conclusion leaving the reader to speculate over future developments.
The outcome as described here is unexpected and highly enjoyable to read.
It says on the book description that this short novel will be offered free of charge for 5 days every quarter so that's worth looking out for once you've read the main novel.

I went on to read
Let the Light Shine
and although I've enjoyed each of the Nick Alexander novels I've read,  this is the best yet. 

It's a serious book which deals with some important contemporary issues but it is so readable. I read it with my Kindle Unlimited subscription and could hardly put it down.
Penny and Victoria are about as different as two siblings can be, one with a smart London lifestyle, the other struggling to make ends meet.
But they are joined by more than blood, and their shared past is affecting the present more than they realise.
When events begin to tug at the fabric beneath which dark secrets are hidden, the resulting chaos threatens to tear the two families apart. 
Could there be aspects of the past that youngest child Penny doesn’t remember?
Could the truth of Marge be more complex than the beloved mother the girls choose to perceive?
And could the true story of Christmas 1975 be the key to understanding Victoria, Marge, and much much more?
The characterisation is fantastic and the main characters' development as the story unfolds is remarkably good. The twists and turns of the plot make for an entertaining and engaging read with an ultimately very satisfying ending. Stunningly good!

Details of all his novels are on Nick Alexander's Amazon Author Page.

Blind Date in Gibraltar by Margaret M Dunlop

Blind Date in Gibraltar by Margaret M Dunlop 

is an entertaining mix of romance and suspense.
Set amongst the villas, bars and cafes of the Spanish holiday and retirement coast, the writer uses lots of interesting local details to create the scenes.

From the book description, the novel is based in part on the author's real-life experiences.

The author lived from time to time over a period of years on the Costa del Sol in Spain where the action in the novel takes place. And once, when she was younger and still living in Scotland, she was offered a blind date in Gibraltar. All this gives the novel authenticity. Margaret Dunlop is a sharp observer who writes with insight, humour and compassion. She recognizes the hopes, fears and aspirations of people and creates a picture of the charm of the country as well as its rougher edges.

Georgie, the main character, is looking for romance but also a fresh start in life. 

She is an attractive forty something – too attractive to men for her own good. But she has been lonely and so an invitation for life in Spain, away from the traumas of her past, seems a good idea. But things intrude on her plans, some good, some bad and some outright menacing. How will she cope with the ex-pat way of life – with the men and women she meets? Readers will hate some of them and love others and perhaps be surprised as they identify with the characters – something easy to do with Margaret Dunlop’s keen style of writing.

Georgie's blind date in Gibraltar leads to a lot more than she (or the reader) expects.

Well written and engaging, this novel would be an ideal holiday read and is very enjoyable from the highly unusual beginning to the satisfying end.

Download details on the Amazon Book Page. 

Only the Dead by Malcolm Hollingdrake

Another of the books I enjoyed reading while my bookblog was hibernating:

Only the Dead 

by Malcolm Hollingdrake.

The novel runs two separate, exciting story-lines alongside each other. The link between the two is DCI Bennett and his team who pull out all the stops to solve both cases although there are plenty of challenges for them along the way.

From the book description:

Meet DCI Cyril Bennett, a man with a passion for manners and efficiency, as well as an eye for the ladies. His partner, DS David Owen, is na├»ve and untidy but keen. Together they make a formidable pair. When the discovery of two infants’ bodies is made at a Teacher Training College, Bennett and Owen are given the case. Soon a number of suspects are identified.
At the same time, a killer is on the loose staging attacks using sulphur mustard.
Is there a link between the infants’ bodies and the sulphur mustard attacks? 
Do the answers lie in the past or the present?
Bennett and Owen must work together to bring to justice a killer with revenge on his mind.

There's lots of interesting detail about the cases and not too much off task detail about the characters, just enough to make them interesting.
The settings in Harrogate and France are created well.

It's a very good read and I'm looking forward to reading another DCI Cyril Bennett soon.

Download details on the Author's Amazon Page.

Never Again by Nicky Clifford

Mountains, Mystery, Romance

What more do you want for a great holiday read?

Harriet Anderson’s life is spiralling out of control. Unused to such mayhem, she ditches her high-powered job to take refuge in the Swiss Alps where she meets Philippe Smith, a crime writer with a dark and shadowy past. Thrown together by chance, is their fate intertwined? Will the karma and romance of the mountains and the quaintness of the Alps soothe their troubled souls?
Or will their rocky paths create avalanches that cannot be avoided...

I enjoyed reading this debut novel from Nicky Clifford.

In Never Again

the on-off romance shared by Harriet and Phillippe has a wonderful variety of complexities and the Alpine setting where the romance commences is charming and beautifully described.
Greg, Harriet's ex, must be in the running for a worst boyfriend of the year award but otherwise the supporting cast is full of interesting and delightful characters.

Definitely an author to read again.

More details from Nicky Clifford's Amazon Author Page.

An Off-Piste Christmas by Julie Houston

Just in time for Christmas
 when my bookblog was in hibernation, Julie Houston released an 

Off-Piste Christmas. 

I've read all Julie Houston's other novels and feel that I know the main characters, Harriet and Grace, so well they're almost old friends. 

You can read my comments on other Julie Houston novels if you follow this link

From the book description:

The last thing Harriet Westmoreland wants is Christmas away from home, 
particularly when skiing, snow, heights and freezing her backside off are on the menu. While her own family, together with her best friend Grace's, are soon whizzing down ridiculously high and scary mountains in the fashionable Italian resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo, Harriet is stuck in the remedial class on the nursery slopes unable, it seems, to remain vertical.
Tired of trying to stay upright in the dunces' class, Harriet decides to overcome her fear of heights and take her bruised body off to explore the refugios in the magnificent Dolomites above Cortina. And maybe catch a glance of George Clooney, rumoured to be in town... But what happens next triggers a totally unexpected avalanche of events which proves that, for friends Harriet and Grace and all their families, Christmas really is a time for little miracles...

Lovely to meet up with Harriet and Grace again in this new Christmas special from Julie Houston.

An ideal read for the holiday season with lots of references back to previous stories and a whole new set of plot developments. 

A lovely winter sports setting (for which Harriet expresses a healthy disregard) provides the backdrop to another can't put it down read. 

Excellent characterisation makes you feel like the fly-on-the-wall as the story unfolds. Amusing - entertaining - really enjoyed reading it.

Details of this and her other novels on Julie Houston's Amazon Author Page.

Last Bite of the Cherry by Margaret Cullingford

During the period when my bookblog was hibernating, I read

Last Bite of the Cherry by Margaret Cullingford.

From the book description:

Monica Sommers, during counselling sesions with depressed Rosaleen Westlake, is reminded of her own tumultuous past. Monica, only child of warring parents, loves unwisely. Insecure, impulsive, she betrays with irreversible consequences, Will Ackroyd, the love of her young life. Will loves her above all else. Seeking atonement, she meets and falls in love with Malachy O'Brien, her chance of a last bite of the cherry, if love, like life, is a bowl of cherries. Malachy is everything any woman would want in a man. But, can he love her in return? Malachy is a priest. Cherries have stones.

In Last Bite of the Cherry, 

two fascinating life stories become enmeshed in an unusual and superbly well written novel.
The author has a marvellous eye for detail and an ability to explore deep and complex emotions in an imaginative and beautiful manner.
The main characters are strong and completely engaging and the multiplicity of sub-plots and minor characters make the novel a joy to read.
The novel tackles some very meaty issues without becoming heavy or depressing.

A powerful and thought-provoking novel. 

Download details on the Author's Amazon Page.

The Heartfelt Series by Adrienne Vaughan

The Heartfelt Series by Adrienne Vaughan 

comprises three novels which together tell the romantic story of Marianne and Ryan who have more ups and downs in their relationship than you can even begin to imagine.

Set on the beautiful west coast of Ireland 

the three books are a charming and delightful  escape into a world of intrigue and mystery as well as romance.

Book One - The Hollow Heart - introduces Marianne Coltrane, 

a feisty, award-winning journalist who uncovers a devastating travesty of justice involving the sale of babies by the church in Ireland. Fighting her corner in the male-dominated world of newspapers she witnesses a terrorist attack that changes how she thinks about her future and what she really wants. Taking herself off to the wilds of the west of Ireland to re-evaluate her life, she encounters the soon to be world-famous actor Ryan O'Gorman, to her mind the most conceited, infuriating man in the world. He in turn loathes journalists, especially female ones. One thing they do have in common is they both think their chance of true love has passed them by. As they both begin to fall in love with Innishmahon, their spiritual home, they discover the very fabric of the island is threatened and as the islanders find themselves in grave danger, Marianne and Ryan join forces to save that which they hold most dear. But the road is rocky for this fiery, opinionated pair ... and when Ryan discovers his ex-fiance is carrying his child, things take a turn for the worst. Can he talk his way out of this one? And will Marianne even care, when she unwittingly reveals the most devastating secret of all, the truth behind her past and her own parentage.

I really enjoyed reading The Hollow Heart 

and especially liked the main character, Marianne. The story line is great and the ups and downs of her relationship with Ryan makes it a really engaging read. I read Book One almost without stopping and was straight onto Book Two.

The next book in the trilogy is A Change of Heart.

The main character, Marianne, continues to develop and there are ever more ups and downs in her relationship with Ryan. It's a really entertaining and exciting read filled with glamour, mystery and intrigue from start to finish. The characters develop well and the plot is nicely complex ensuring a high level of reader engagement. Naturally, I was straight on to Book Three to find out what was going to happen next.

The final part of the Heartfelt Series is Secrets of the Heart.

 Finally free to be together on the remote Irish isle of Innishmahon, Marianne Coltrane and Ryan are looking forward to life away from the bright lights of Hollywood and the constant pursuit of the paparazzi. 
However, when nature conspires to keep them apart and Ryan puts both his own and his son's life at risk, Marianne finally realises how determined he is they should be a family. She now needs to put aside her own, deep rooted fear of commitment and come to terms with the sinister secrets buried within her family history.
Yet when Ryan's own devastating secret is revealed, and their world is turned upside down, Marianne has to call upon more than determination to see them through. She has to believe in love with every fibre of her being, because if she cannot, it could mean not only the end of their relationship, but even life itself.

Doesn't Secrets of the Heart sound compelling? 

And it really is a can't-put-it-down book.
I enjoyed all three books in the series and this final installment brought the trilogy to a great ending. I liked the way the author recapped some of the characters who reappeared as the story evolved. The main characters are well developed and there's a large cast of fascinating minor characters too. The island setting is lovely and beautifully described. The plot is a mix of romance, adventure, mystery and glamour and keeps you in suspense for the final outcome right to the very end. Very enjoyable!
You can get details of all three parts of the Heartfelt Series on author Adrienne Vaughan's Amazon Author Page. I read all three volumes of the Heartfelt Series while my bookblog was hibernating over the Winter but it would make an ideal holiday read, Winter or Summer.

Chosen Child and Ward Zero by Linda Huber

I read two novels by Linda Huber while my blog was hibernating. 

I enjoyed reading them both very much.

Chosen Child 

was the first novel I read by this author.

The tantalising book description more than lives up to its promise.

A disappearance. A sudden death. A betrayal of the worst kind. 
Ella longs for a child of her own, but a gruesome find during an adoption process deepens the cracks in her marriage. A family visit starts off a horrifying chain of events, and Ella can only hope she won’t lose the person she loves most of all. Amanda is expecting her second child when her husband vanishes. She is tortured by thoughts of violence and loss, but nothing prepares her for the shocking conclusion to the police investigation. And in the middle of it all, a little girl is looking for a home of her own with a ‘forever’ mummy and daddy.
You'd go a long way to find a worse marital betrayal than the one that opens this novel. Quite shocking! The novel is a gripping thriller with an emotional exploration of the subject of adoption enmeshed. It's one of those stories that hooks you from the outset and keeps drawing you back in until you reach the dramatic conclusion. I was definitely on the lookout for something else from this talented author.

I went for:

Ward Zero: the dead ward.

From the book description:

On Sarah’s first visit to see her foster mother, Mim, in Brockburn General Hospital, she is sucked into a world that isn’t what it should be.
Someone is lying, someone is stealing. And someone is killing – but who? With a grieving child to take care of, as well as Mim, Sarah has to put family first. She doesn’t see where danger lies – until it’s too late.
If you think you’re safe in a hospital, think again.
In this novel you're hanging on right to the end to know who's the villain of the piece. The author cleverly takes the reader one way and then the other in this well plotted story which builds up steadily to a dramatic climax. The characters are very real and the reader shares their emotions as the gripping plot develops.

Another can't-put-it-down read from Linda Huber.
Links to all Linda Huber's books are on her Amazon Author Page.

I Came to Find a Girl by Jaq Hazell

I downloaded Shopping at Tesco, 

a short story by Jaq Hazell, because of the quirky title.
It's also free - seemingly permanently.
I enjoyed reading Shopping at Tesco so much, I read it twice and immediately downloaded the author's collection of short stories,

London Tsunami & Other Stories.

What a marvellous set of short stories.

Such a variety of content and characters and so well written - not a word wasted.

So, on to reading
I Came to Find a Girl

with high expectations that it was going to be something special.
And, it certainly was.

From the book description:

When art student Mia meets famous artist Jack Flood, she later wakes naked in his hotel room with no idea what has occurred. She fears she may have been filmed for one of his future artworks. Should she go to the police? And what has happened to her missing friend? Women are being murdered, and the city seems a more dangerous place.

I Came to Find a Girl is a gripping and enthralling psychological thriller.

Set in Nottingham this is the story of a young art student's twisted relationship with the famous artist, Jack Flood.
Every page crackles with unspoken menace and Jaq Hazell's dark, edgy style takes the reader right into the heart of student life and Mia's disastrous encounter with Flood.

I couldn't stop reading until I reached the dramatic finale.

This really is a stunning novel and well deserving of all the accolades that have been heaped upon it.

I Came to Find a Girl is available to download from the Amazon Kindle Store and

further details can be found on the author's Amazon page.

I Came to Find a Girl is available "free" for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
Thanks for visiting Indie Bookworm today.
Catch me on Twitter @spurwing_ 

Death of a Cuckoo by Wendy Percival

I've been looking forward to reading another book featuring the genealogical sleuth, Esme Quentin, for ages. 

I enjoyed both of Wendy Percival's earlier novels, Blood-Tied and The Indelible Stain and although a shorter read, Death of a Cuckoo is well up to form. 

Author Wendy Percival can tell a good tale 

and her personal knowledge and understanding of genealogical matters permeates her writing.

From the book description:

When Gina Vincent receives a letter of condolence from a stranger following her mother’s death, a photograph slipped inside reveals a disturbing truth – everything she’s ever known is based on a lie. Shocked and disorientated, she engages genealogy detective Esme Quentin to help search for answers.
I'm sure all Family History enthusiasts are amateur detectives and the author creates a very satisfying fusion of mystery, crime and genealogy for us.
In Death of a Cuckoo, the main character is Gina Vincent who calls on Esme Quentin for help in unravelling an unexpected complication in her family story.
From the book description:
The trail leads to an isolated and abandoned property on the edge of Exmoor, once the home of a strict Victorian institution called The House of Mercy and its enigmatic founder, whose influence seems to linger still in the fabric of the derelict building.
As they dig deeper, Esme realises that the house itself hides a dark and chilling secret, one which must be exposed to unravel the mystery behind Gina’s past.

What happens next has a good plot with unexpected developments leading to a very satisfying and heart-warming conclusion.

Esme Quentin is a strong but supporting character in Death of a Cuckoo

But this is really Gina's story and the author has chosen to explore a difficult subject after it's revealed to Gina that her whole life has been based on a lie. 

The issues uncovered in the story are handled with sensitivity although the author isn't afraid to confront the emotional truths that are revealed as the tale unfolds.
Gina is a very likable character and the reader experiences a sense of relief for Gina in the book's outcome.
I'm sure Death of a Cuckoo will be a must-read for all Esme Quentin and Wendy Percival fans but it also serves as a good introduction for new readers.
I'm looking forward to reading the next one!
Sample and download Death of a Cuckoo from the Amazon Kindle Store.

The Grayson Trilogy by Georgia Rose

The Grayson Trilogy by Georgia Rose comprises

Book 1: A Single Step
Book 2: Before the Dawn
Book 3: Thicker Than Water 

I read each book in The Grayson Trilogy one after the other as I was enjoying the series so much.
They're a very readable set of romances with thriller overtones.

From the book description for A Single Step: 

Emma Grayson was left devastated when her life was torn apart by tragedy and betrayal. 
Now someone believes it’s time for her to start again and puts an advert for a job through her door which leads her to the Melton Estate. 
Despite her desire for a solitary existence she finds herself discovering a life she could never have imagined, challenging her independence, her fears and her resistance to love.

Emma Grayson is a complex personality. 

Her back story is very emotional and poignant and the author explores this with great sensitivity.
Author Georgia Rose has created in Emma an interesting character whose love life across all three books has so many wonderful ups and downs.
Her romantic attachment is enhanced by the exciting thriller into which her love story is woven.

Trent, the leading man, is a complex character too.

He has as many hang-ups as Emma and the author takes her time over all three novels to reveal the explanations for his behaviours.

Emma and Trent dominate the novels 

but there is a large supporting cast too.
The main characters and all the subsidiary characters develop well as the series progresses.
It's easy to keep track of who's who and what's what as the three books evolve.
The author references back to previous main story points so that a reader who picks up one of the books out of sequence will know what's going on.
However, this is done with a light touch and doesn't get in the way for readers who are following through sequentially.

I liked the horsey setting which I found unusual and interesting and life on "The Manor" is certainly different and filled with surprises.

Although there is the predictability about the ending associated with this genre there are some plot developments and revelations about key characters which are completely unexpected and these bring the series to a very satisfying conclusion.

The Grayson Trilogy would be a great holiday read and it's available to download from the Amazon Kindle Store.

As it's in Kindle Unlimited, subscribers can read the series, like I did, for "free".

Further details can be found on the author's Amazon page.

Thanks for visiting Indie Bookworm today.
Catch me on Twitter @spurwing_ 

You don't need a Kindle to read Kindle books

You don't need a Kindle to read Kindle books

I've just posted this on one of my other blogs 

because it still amazes me 

how many readers don't know about the free Kindle App. 

So, just in case you've stumbled onto this blog by chance 

and you are one of those readers, 

please take a look at my blogpost 

which tells you how to get yourself the free Kindle app. 

NEWS of two #mustreads coming soon to a Kindle Store near you.

I've spotted news of two books approaching publication that are #mustreads for me.

Check out this blogpost to find out more about Kath Middleton's next title
this blogpost to enjoy Lizzie Lamb's birthday celebrations and get the latest on her next book.

I've read all three novels written by Lizzie Lamb and enjoyed them all immensely so am looking forward to the next. Check out my reviews of Lizzie's books here.

I've read nearly everything that Kath Middleton has written. She's an amazingly eclectic writer and I'm intrigued to see what her next publication will be. Check out my reviews of Kath's books here.

Thanks for visiting Indie Bookworm today.
Catch me on Twitter @spurwing_ 

Novellas from Kath Middleton and Jonathan Hill

In March last year two of my favourite authors, Jonathan Hill and Kath Middleton, collaborated in an unusual writing project. 

They each wrote a novella using the same atmospheric painting as a starting point. 

The novellas were published together in the same volume entitled "Is it Her?" and it was fascinating to read each story inspired by different interpretations of the painting.

You can read more about "Is It Her?" 

in this review from my guest reviewer, Michael Murray (aka he with whom I share my life!)

Towards the end of 2016, while Indie Bookworm was hibernating, 

Kath Middleton published a collection of three novellas just in time for Hallowe'en. 

Each of the three supernatural tales in "Souls Disturbed" is focused on an artefact - an antique mirror, a family heirloom and an ancient well - which has supernatural properties.

The book description tells more: 

Martin buys an old mirror, but when the moon shines on the glass it’s not his own reflection he can see.
On her twenty-first birthday, Vanessa inherits her great-grandmother’s pendant. The classic style appeals to her and she wears it constantly – until she discovers her darker inheritance.
While archaeologists dig out the old well in Karen and Ben’s garden, a neighbour’s child goes missing – and Karen can hear a child’s cry coming from the well.
And, yes, the three stories live up to their promise and are as intriguing as they sound.
I particularly like the way Kath Middleton writes about ordinary people living ordinary lives for whom something very out of the ordinary happens.
The author's down-to-earth writing style ensures that the supernatural is completely plausible and very readable.

Three excellent tales with just the right degree of spookiness and well worth reading.

October 2016 saw the publication of "Not Just a Boy" by Jonathan Hill. 

I'd been very impressed with Jonathan Hill's award winning novel "FAG" and his novella "Pride" and was looking forward to reading "Not Just a Boy".
Writing with his usual talent for economy, Jonathan Hill's latest was a poignant tale of an angsty teenager which concluded with an unexpected finale.

From the book description:

When two friends move to a new school, they expect some change but nothing like the events that unfold over several terms.
A schoolboy crush takes hold and refuses to let go, propelling both boys towards a moment so devastating it will change their lives forever. 
The author has created a main character who reveals his confusions and complexities with captivating honesty. Through "the boy's" experiences the reader shares the torment of school based bullying and the difficulties of adolescent relationships with peers and parents.
At the end of the book the writer states his belief that writing should "not only entertain but also enhance and change the way readers view the world". As far as this reader is concerned, that mission was accomplished.

Christmas 2016 brought a short story from each writer.

Jonathan Hill gave us (literally as it was free for a few days) a feel-good comedy short story, "A Christmas Outing".

The book description gives a hint of what is to follow:
It's that time of year again, when Mum insists on dragging us to the Christmas markets. This year is a bit different, though, as my friend Jamie is coming too.
Mum is so stressed about enjoying the evening that she probably won't enjoy it, Dad has conveniently developed a sudden fear of crowds to try to get out of it, and I'm waiting for the right moment to tell them both that Jamie is more than just a friend...
I found the short story to be amusing but insightful and certainly not just for Christmas!

Kath Middleton came up with Stir-up Sunday: a ghost story for the Christmas season.

As tradition dictates, Hannah is making the family Christmas pudding on Stir-up Sunday. Over two hundred years previously, Lizzy had been doing the same job, in the same place, but she stirred up more than a pudding.
Hannah now feels her own life slipping out of her control, as she is drawn helplessly to a Christmas past and its dark secret.
I enjoyed the mix of old traditions in a contemporary setting with an historical tale that has an unexpected ending. Nicely spooky but not too much! A really enjoyable Christmas ghost story.

And coming up to date I saw this on Twitter:

which I shall certainly be looking out for.

You can find details of Kath Middleton's book on her Amazon author page

and books by Jonathan Hill are listed on his Amazon author page. 

You can find my reviews of both these authors' books on these Indie Bookworm pages:

Jonathan Hill

Kath Middleton

Thanks for visiting Indie Bookworm today.
Catch me on Twitter @spurwing_ 

Catching Up with Genealogical Mystery Writer Wendy Percival

I’m currently reading Death of a Cuckoo: An Esme Quentin Short Read by Wendy Percival. The novella was published on Monday by sBooks and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I’ll publish my review in the next few days.

I met genealogical mystery writer Wendy Percival early in 2014 when I read her first novel, Blood-Tied. I was an early reader of her second novel, The Indelible Stain and was delighted when Wendy agreed to an interview for Indie Bookworm in October 2014 .

This week I've been catching up with Wendy on-line.

Hi Wendy! Congratulations on the launch of your new book. I was wondering what's been happening in your writing life since The Indelible Stain?

Since The Indelible Stain I've been plotting the next Esme mystery, writing posts for my Family History Secrets blog as well as a couple of articles for the Shropshire Family History Society's quarterly journal and I was thrilled to have an article published in Family Tree Magazine last May.

I've read some of your Family History Secrets blogposts, Wendy. And some of them were rather shocking…. I bet the Shropshire Family History Society had a thing or two to say about them!
You're obviously very busy with your Family History researches. Do you have any writing plans for 2017?

My writing plans for 2017 include: 
completing the editing for the third full-length Esme mystery for publication later in the year, 
begin writing my own memories, as I delve into the photograph & mementos archive I inherited last year, 
continue with my blog 
and maybe pen another article for Family Tree Magazine.

That sounds like a busy schedule to me. I can't wait to read the next full-length Esme Quentin mystery; she's a great character. And thanks, Wendy, for telling us about your writing life; I really appreciate you taking the time in your busy book-launch week to answer my questions.

Death of a Cuckoo is available to download from the Amazon Kindle Store.

Wendy's Family Secrets Blog is here and you can get a link to her article in Family Tree Magazine here.

Thanks for visiting Indie Bookworm today.
Catch me on Twitter @spurwing_ 

The Gift Maker by Mark Mayes

I noticed a comment on Twitter about The Gift Maker by Mark Mayes and thought the book cover was lovely. 

I'm not usually influenced by book covers being of the generation that selected books in public libraries squashed together on the shelves with only the spines on display. However this book was an exception and I was hooked by the cover.

And I am so glad because I absolutely loved it.

Released by Urbane Books on 27/2/2017, The Gift Maker is a wonderful mix of fantasy, dystopia and magic. 

Although in no way similar in plot or characterisation there is something about The Gift Maker which reminded me of Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books. And they were my favourite books when I was in my twenties.
The Gift Maker has the same sense of other worldliness rooted in reality and is equally

compelling reading.

The book description explains that:

 Late one night, Thomas Ruder receives a strange package: a small blue box. Another such item is delivered to his friend Liselotte Hauptmann. These 'gifts' will change their lives forever. In the far-off border town of Grenze, a play is to be performed at the Sheol Theatre. Reynard the impresario expects a very special audience. Thomas and Liselotte, together with their friend Johann, are drawn into Reynard's seductive web, as Daumen, the gift maker, must decide who his master really is.

These characters, 

Thomas, Liselotte, Johann, Reynard and Daumen, evolve strongly as the novel progresses and although their journeys take different routes they all end up at the same destination. The plotting is complex and full of unexpected developments and as a story the book works really well.

However, it is the quality of the writing which stands out. 

The novel is hugely readable but so beautifully written that sometimes I stopped to re-read a section for the sheer pleasure of the language.
There is poetic beauty in some of the writing as well as scenes that are genuinely scary. There are hints of childhood and tantalising references to well-remembered fairy tales, bible stories and mythology.

The book description says that

The Gift Maker is a story about identity, about fulfilling your dreams and becoming the person you always were ... at whatever cost.

It's all that and more: a remarkable novel that leaves the reader with so much to think about and a wish to read it all over again.

The Gift Maker by Mark Mayes 

is available to download from the Amazon Kindle Store.

Further details can be found on the publisher's website.

The Gift Maker is available "free" for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Thanks for visiting Indie Bookworm today.
Catch me on Twitter @spurwing_ 

Silent Trauma by Judith Barrow

Silent Trauma by Judith Barrow is such an unusual book. 

I read it last year when my bookblog was hibernating and found it to be one of the most powerful and thought-provoking novels I'd read for a long time.
Silent Trauma combines a detailed account of one of the worst drugs scandals I've ever read about with a well-constructed novel about four fictional characters whose lives are deeply scarred by the drug.
The drug in question is DES - Diethylstilboestrol - which was given out to thousands of pregnant women in the forties, fifties and sixties to help overcome the threat of miscarriage.
It's success was negligible and the after effects on the children and grandchildren truly shocking.
And particularly shocking because of the apparent silence relating to the scandal.

So, this book is making a substantial contribution to awareness raising but in addition it's a powerful novel that has many more dimensions to it as well as the main theme. 

The characterisation is a real strength of the novel 

and the reader is soon deeply involved in the backstories and relationships of the four women.

At times it's a stark and bleak novel 

but there is an overarching sense of resilience derived from standing together which prevents the novel from becoming depressing.
I found that the book took a bit of getting into and I diverted to google Diethylstilboestrol to understand more that this was a fictionalised account of a genuine disaster.
I'm so glad I persevered: the juxtaposition of the factual account into a fictionalised narrative makes for a fascinating, moving and surprisingly entertaining novel which I'm really glad I read.

Silent Trauma is available to download from the Amazon Kindle Store.

Further details can be found on the author's Amazon page.

Silent Trauma is available "free" for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Thanks for visiting Indie Bookworm today.
Catch me on Twitter @spurwing_ 

54th State by Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson is the author of Ezicash, 

a satirical and highly entertaining novel set in a sanitised, post-EU dystopian future.

I read Ezicash last year 

(check out my blogpost) and was looking out for more books by this author.

I read 54th State while my blog was in hibernation 

but I can still remember how much I enjoyed reading the book.

54th State is another unusual, very well written satirical novel 

which combines three storylines into an entertaining whole.

The novel is humorous but thought provoking too. 

Set in the not too distant future with some very apt contemporary resonances the novel introduces a British Prime Minister, Barnaby Chamberlain, who isn't one bit fazed when asked by his assistant, "what's more important, your principles or your political future?"
When he realises that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has bankrupted the country Barnaby comes up with a dramatic and life-changing solution.
Meanwhile, a space mission is going dreadfully wrong and looks set for a big disaster not only for the astronauts on board.

To write more would risk revealing too much of the fast moving plot. 

So, suffice to say 54th State is well worth reading.
It's engaging,
and edgy.
And, if you're a Kindle Unlimited subscriber you can get it for "free".
This is a link to the 54th State book page in the Amazon Kindle Store.
Ian Thompson has a more recent title, Murder At The Jolly Jester which I haven't read yet but judging by the free sample it's going to be another good read. 

NEW RELEASE! Death of a Cuckoo: An Esme Quentin Short Read by Wendy Percival

Great news!

The fantastic Esme Quentin is back!

There's a new release out today from genealogical mystery writer, Wendy Percival.

Wendy is the author of Blood-Tied and The Indelible Stain which feature the marvellous sleuth, Esme Quentin.

I enjoyed reading both books and was delighted when I learned that a new book from Wendy Percival was about to be released.

Read my reviews of
The Indelible Stain

Death of a Cuckoo, is an Esme Quentin Short Read.

From the book description:

A letter. A photograph. A devastating truth.

When Gina Vincent receives a letter of condolence from a stranger following her mother’s death, a photograph slipped inside reveals a disturbing truth – everything she’s ever known is based on a lie. Shocked and disorientated, she engages genealogy detective Esme Quentin to help search for answers.

The trail leads to an isolated and abandoned property on the edge of Exmoor, once the home of a strict Victorian institution called The House of Mercy and its enigmatic founder, whose influence seems to linger still in the fabric of the derelict building.

As they dig deeper, Esme realises that the house itself hides a dark and chilling secret, one which must be exposed to unravel the mystery behind Gina’s past.

But someone is intent on keeping the secret hidden. Whatever it takes.

Doesn't that sound intriguing?

I can't wait to read Death of a Cuckoo.
You can get your copy from the Amazon Kindle Store or visit the author's website for more information.

The Devil You Know by Terry Tyler

I've read all Terry Tyler's books and enjoyed each one. 

If you hit this link you'll get my reviews of Terry Tyler's books together on one page. And what a great collection she's written.

The Devil You Know was released last year when Indie Bookworm was hibernating but I'm delighted to post my review here today.

The Devil You Know is a psychological thriller which explores contemporary issues within a gripping multi-plot structure.

As always with this author, the characterisation is superb and it's easy to identify with the main characters as the story evolves.

Each story line encompasses some unexpected and surprising twists and developments.

The structure is chronological and each plot moves forward a bit and then when all plots have reached the same place in time moves on again.

This is a trademark Terry Tyler style which is really well executed in this novel resulting in a compulsive read.

I read the novel with my  KindleUnlimited subscription and recommend it highly.

From the book description:

Every serial killer is someone's friend, spouse, lover or child....

Young women are being murdered in the Lincolnshire town of Lyndford, where five people fear someone close to them might be the monster the police are searching for.

One of them is right.

Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? 

And, believe  me it is.
Apart from sleep and a visit to the dentist I couldn't put it down. 

Sample and download The Devil You Know from the Amazon Kindle Store.