An Ocean of White Wings

Yöst has finally achieved his dream of becoming a fully-fledged cob, able to take to the skies, master of all he surveys. But the price is high and about to get higher. War is waiting on the horizon … and with it the arrival of Kapitein Death.
Once again Yöst will be faced with a choice. To fly with the carinatae, or stay and fight the enemy to keep those he loves safe.

My Review of An Ocean of White Wings by Barbara Spencer

This is a story that touches the heart and stays in the mind long after finishing reading it. Although I finished it two days ago, I find myself still thinking about it and feeling again the emotions aroused by the author’s skill in writing. I found myself fully immersed in the lives of the characters, especially Yost. I understood well Tante Maria’s fears for him and her desire to protect him, even though she knew she couldn’t. Although a caritanae, Yost doesn’t ‘fit’. Unlike the other members of the flock, he loves his family and wants to do all he can to protect them, especially when he discovers that the German officer, ‘Kapitein Death’,  is none other than the priest who led the slaughter of the caritanae left on the island when only Yost, Zande and Tata escaped.

I became so involved in the lives of Yost, Zande and Tata in the last book that it was like being back with old friends in this one. I fully admit that I don’t really like stories set during the war, because I know very well the horrors that happened then and have heard much about what people suffered at the hands of the Gestapo in German-occupied countries. However, I found this story riveting, the writing such that I could imagine everything vividly without getting bored with long passages of description. The little family, having fled the south, were now living on the edge of a lake in Holland with the city of Amsterdam on the other side of it and a farming community in another area at the edge of the lake, in a house designed by Yost and largely hidden from prying eyes. The flock lived in secret on an island in the middle of the lake, owned by Robert, their leader. Here they had lived for about five years, until the Germans arrived with their prisoners, determined to build a bridge across to the island.

I don’t want to give any spoilers, but I found that, although I don’t really like war stories, I was unable to put it down easily. I had to rush on, fearing for the family, but mostly for Yost’s safety and hoping he will achieve what he wants to achieve.

The story is about loyalty, love, that of knowing he doesn’t really ‘belong’ anywhere totally, not being entirely comfortable with who he is, longing to be with someone he can’t be with and for all that, facing danger to help those who need it and to save the person he loves above all.

Ms Spencer, I think this book is a triumph of wonderful writing. Now, I’m waiting for the next one…


My Review of Passage by Prue Batten

Ms Batten sent me a copy of her book for my opinion and an honest review. My reviews are always honest!

Firstly, I must apologise to the author for taking so long over it. I read about half of it while I was on holiday and when I came back, I became so busy doing a book of my own that I never got back to this one. Trouble is, I find reading on my kindle more convenient these days. Although I like books, it’s a nuisance having to find my specs and hold the book, whereas I can read my kindle without my specs and it’s so much easier to hold when in bed, where I do much of my reading. Anyway, last week I decided I needed to finish the book and so I did. Now for what I thought…

This book is a triumph. It’s the story of one woman’s acute pain of loss after her husband of many years dies suddenly in an accident on their farm. She retreats into herself, and lives with only her little Jack Russell for company; simple, undemanding and unconditional doggy love. It’s a year since the accident and Annie has had to live through many things within herself and is prone to panic attacks, triggered by her memories. She’s not able to go back to the farm, now managed by Charlie, one of her sons, and her other son, Harry, made her sad because he took off after his father’s death and had not contacted her since. Sad and confused and doubting her own strength, she now has to find a way to move on. Her seventieth birthday is coming up, and she and her husband Alex had planned to climb to the top of the Maria Island on her birthday. Now, she intends to do that, but to go alone, a fact which she’s not told anyone. Her son Charlie and her friend Lisette have been allowed to believe that she’s going with a group of other climbers. It’s at that point that I started reading again last week.

Ms Batten usually writes historical novels; this book was a completely different challenge. And my, did she rise to the challenge! She writes as if she has personally suffered this kind of loss. She shows the reader that she has understanding and empathy for someone in mourning for the other half of their being. Not an easy task. In many ways, I found the first half of the book hard to read because of Ms Batten’s depth of understanding; she makes you feel as though you are Annie, feeling these things, having those thoughts. I understand that it might well be a hard book to read if suffering from that kind of loss. But Annie has bright spots – her dog, Blighty and her friend, Lisette. An old university ‘boyfriend’ comes into the mix and, although she doesn’t like him and finds his attentions unwanted and irritating, the resolving of that issue becomes part of her healing. A new friend also comes into the mix, playing an important part in the future of her family.

I really enjoyed reading the second part of the book, where Annie goes to Maria Island to have her solitary adventure there and what actually happens. In reading the latter part of the book, I felt a lightening of spirit as Annie begins to realise that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

This book is wonderfully written; the settings breathtakingly beautiful and Annie’s emotions so sensitively portrayed that one can’t help admiring the great skill in producing such a book. This is a story that can help give hope to those who are bereaved and also help others to understand. It is a story of despair and triumph over darkness. A good read indeed, and a more worthy read than many books out there.

Viking Bride – Review

I’m not a blogger who specialises in reviews but occasionally I like to feature a book I’ve particularly enjoyed so when Jen asked me to blog review her latest book, I readily agreed because I’ve read and liked books previously published by her.

It was a marriage no one wanted, least of all the bride. She knew the groom loved someone else. But how would you avoid a forced marriage? Arrange a swift abduction? An accident? What happens when a third party takes a hand in the game and changes everything?
When chieftain Ragnar and his friend Grettir force the marriage on their offspring they have no idea of the powerful feelings they will unleash, nor the dreadful consequences that will follow. Set in the Hebrides in the eleventh century, when Christianity was taking hold in Viking communities settling down as farmers and neighbours but the old familiar gods had not quite been forgotten.

Those who read FAR AFTER GOLD will recognise Flane, who reappears in this story as wedding guest and distant cousin of chieftain Ragnar.

My Review:

I quickly became immersed in the story and in the time setting. It’s obvious that the author has done her homework and is able to write very convincingly about the life of the Vikings who settled in the Hebridean Islands. The story unfolds under Ms Black’s skilful story-telling and it was easy to ‘see’ everything that was happening in my mind’s eye. The characters are well-rounded and the reader can sympathise immediately with the young couple’s dilemma and pain when they discover that Asgeir’s father has arranged for him to marry the chieftain’s daughter.

The daughter, Breda, at first comes across as a very stiff, unlikeable person and one’s sympathies are not with her for a while but with the unwilling groom and his sweetheart. Then certain events happen that makes you see her in a different light and she becomes the focal-point of the story, although the other characters are far from forgotten, and you want things to come right for her and for her to be happy.

Human nature doesn’t change and people who lived centuries ago were afflicted by similar circumstances as they are today – children suffer from parents who leave a lot to be desired, or from the demands of those around them. So many complexities in the human nature are dealt with by Ms Black, showing how one young man, through his own strengths, manages to overcome and become the good person he wants to be and the other loses the battle. In some ways, I found the story sad and I couldn’t help sorrowing for poor Asgeir, who had suffered much at the hand of his father and didn’t have the strength of character to overcome in the way that Thorry had.

I thought the ending somewhat abrupt, but possibly that’s because there may be a sequel?

Jen’s home town is Newcastle upon Tyne in the north east of England, though she lived within sound of Durham Cathedral bells until she was seven. She attended Grangefield Grammar School in Stockton on Tees, and later went to Newcastle University as a mature student, where she gained an Honours degree in English Language & Literature. Work in various industrial, public and academic libraries in the north east followed. She was library manager at Gateshead College for a number of years and achieved publication with her first book, Banners of Alba.

She aims to update her blog three times a week:
and can also be found on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Enter – Two Ordinary Detectives

When I wrote Aunt Bea’s Legacy, I intended it to be a one-off; a gentle sort of ghostly mystery in a house that I once lived in many years ago. I had loved the house and wanted to write a story about it, albeit fiction. It’s a story that’s been read and loved by many people and they tell me how much they love the country setting, the jams, scones and cakes that Lucy bakes and the whole laid-back feel of the book, not to mention the ‘is-the-house-haunted-or-is-something-else-going-on’ thing. Also, there’s the ‘will-she-end-up-with-Jim-or-not?’ thing too…
Anyway, hot on the heels of the end of that book, came the idea for ‘By the Gate’, born out of the picture that appeared in my mind of Farmer Price finding a skeleton as he dug a hole for a new fence in his cow field. So begins an investigation into a seventy year old murder – re-enter DI Dan Cooke and DS Grant, who barely featured in the first book. ‘Tis true it was they who discovered the answers behind the mysterious happenings at River View, but I’d never intended for them to become ongoing characters. It seemed they had other ideas; once they’d come into being, they weren’t going to go away, and so, as from the second book on, they became more ‘front-line’ characters and Lucy took a step back, although she features heavily in all the books, as does her family and the village of Sutton-on-Wye.
Thing is, I now had a series of books that featured two investigating officers who were – well – featureless. DI Dan Cooke is married to Linda, a physio-therapist working in Hereford hospital and they have a loving and easy-going relationship. DS Graham Grant is just a hard-working detective who is DI Cooke’s shadow. A single man thus far, he meets the love of his life in the second book while in North Wales during the course of their investigations. She is a police constable. What’s wrong with that? Well…nothing. Except most crime stories involve detectives who are tough, determined fellows with lots of baggage, are hard drinkers, or maybe something from the past they have yet to resolve – and here am I with a pair of detectives who are normal men simply doing their job. Can readers believe in them? I hope so. Can readers cope with having detectives without dramatic background stories? Again, I hope so. Because if not, Dan and Grant need to bow out of my life and leave me peace…

My Review of Rosa by Jeanette Taylor Ford

Wow! I’m blown away by this review of my book, Rosa, by fellow writer, Katrina Marie

Katrina Marie

My Review of

Rosa by Jeanette Taylor Ford

I found Rosa both terrifying and emotional. The bond between Elizabeth and her grandfather spoke of love and how far one would go for those they love to save them from hurt and pain. I thought the author did a great job of keeping me as a reader on my toes. I couldn’t work out if the violence bestrode on Elizabeth with really the spirit of Rosa trying to find peace, or something more human and dark assaulting her in her sleep. Either way this book was very well written and I didn’t expect to have tears in my eyes by the end of the story.

The story itself follows Elizabeth as she leaves her job in the city and moves in with her grandad. However, soon she becomes a curios young lady and asks her grandad about a secret room in…

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The Dark Knight

A wonderful poem for the Summer Solstice




Whisper by Burak Ulker, from Deviantart

(Please click on the photo to see more of his work)

On midsummer’s eve dance, under the moonlight,

I met a dark man who stole my heart,

he held my hand to his lips,

and on the dance floor gave me a kiss.

A raven perched upon his shoulder, and said until daylight.

His black costume fitted like a glove,

at first look I’d fallen in love,

mesmerizing dark eyes held me captive,

the way he spoke was so attractive.

The raven came by and said lovers should not part.

He poured summer wine from the flask,

and told me stories from strange lands.

When he asked me to go there with him,

I accepted on a whim.

The raven flew over us and said now it’s time to depart.

I said, one moment, to bid farewell to my hosts,

when I…

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It’s Cover Reveal Time! Shelf Life by Rob Gregson

A long awaited work by my author friend, Greg

Mirror World Publishing

Rob Gregson is a new addition to the Mirror World family and we are ever so pleased to bring you his comedic fantasy/literary mashup, Shelf Life: The Book of Better Endings.

This book has it all: action, adventure, comedy, other worlds! And it’s another one of those books that really encompasses what we’re all about here at Mirror World. It’s a wacky adventure through the realms of literature that is both funny and thought provoking. And it all starts with bookseller, Cathy Finn.

Young bookseller Cathy Finn is having a bad day. First, there’s the assassin’s bullet. Then comes the realisation that she’s been living in a work of fiction. Worse, she wasn’t even the main character.

Cathy’s quiet, bit-part life may be over, but her troubles are only beginning. Her last day on Earth is also her first as a citizen of New Tybet. For over four hundred…

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A Crime Writer? Who? Me??

When I started writing in 2010, I did what many of us do, I drew on my personal experiences in life and came up with The Sixpenny Tiger, which was about a little boy abused by his step-mother. I set the book in Hereford, which is where I’d worked in a children’s home in the late 1960s.

Hereford wasn’t my first home; I was born and raised in Cromer, on the Norfolk coast, so I wanted to write a book set there and so my novella, Bell of Warning came into being. There followed Rosa and the Castell Glas Trilogy – The Hiraeth, Bronwen’s Revenge and Yr Aberth (The Sacrifice) – all of which were sort of ghostly but in different ways. And then I wrote Aunt Bea’s Legacy, which was a kind of mystery/romance, again with just a wee touch of a ghost, in the form of the departed Aunt Bea.

Well, that was okay. Having had some paranormal experiences in my life, it was almost inevitable that I’d write such stuff, although I never delved into the downright scary – with the possible exception of Bronwen – now she was a very nasty, murderous ghost!

What I didn’t bargain for, because I’d intended Aunt Bea’s Legacy to be a one-off, was for a story to come through me so quickly that I was astounded at how fast I wrote it – in less than a handful of weeks! It was By the Gate, a story of a seventy year old murder that came to light because a farmer dug a hole in the edge of a field because a fence fell over in a gale. It involved the community of Sutton-on-Wye where Lucy had come to live in Aunt Bea’s house – and the field belonged to her! So, the detectives that featured fairly lightly in Aunt Bea’s Legacy suddenly had front stage as they investigated this very old mystery. Oh my! I did enjoy writing it and loved the research I had to do for it. But it meant that my story of Lucy and her aunt’s house had suddenly become the first of a series – and a crime series no less!

After By the Gate, came Fear Has Long Fingers – and boy! That was, I think, my crowning glory! I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to write something better. It took me by surprise – and that of my readers. When I started to write, I never dreamed I’d end up writing crime – not ‘crime thrillers’, for I’m told that mine are ‘cosy crime’, which is a daft concept to my mind, for crime is never ‘cosy’, is it? But that’s what it has to be, for although I have detectives on the cases, my stories aren’t hard thrillers, although they certainly have a dark twist which mar the peacefulness of the Herefordshire village of Sutton-on-Wye.

Now I’m writing book four of the series; it involves murder and a runaway boy. I’m not sure it will be as riveting as Fear Has Long Fingers, but I’ll do my best.

In the meantime, if I think too much about what I’m writing, I clap my hand on my head and say to myself ‘me, a writer of crime? I must be crazy!’ But of course, all writers know that we have to be a little crazy or we wouldn’t be writers…