Tuesday, 30 December 2014

An atmosphere is captured within this short book so well that you can keep it as a souvenir

A candid review of Pomp and Circumstances by Thomasin Sayers

The Review "The royal wedding of Will and Kate centred around romance and celebration; 'Pomp and Circumstances' introduces its own aspects of London life where similar situations occur on a level to which the reader can relate. Events throughout the story touch on the themes of romance, loss and celebration, however they are all brought together through a nationwide sense of joy. These events do, however, create a bigger picture from the events of the Royal Wedding day, and remind the reader that this was not the case for everyone in Britain. It takes us back to consider and remember where we were at the time of the wedding - who we were with and to what extent it was an important event to us.

Monday, 29 December 2014

"a good read and the end left me wanting more"

"I enjoyed reading this novel so much because of the author's talent to create the perfect plot. I liked all the twists and different directions he was taking me. Definitely a page turner! I couldn't put it down. The author has the ability to write description that made me feel like I was part of the story. I could see everything the author wanted me to see, like in a movie. It's well written and the characters all perfectly described. It's definitely a book that I will read again. It was a good read and the end left me wanting more. I recommend this book to everyone! Two thumbs up!"

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Iron Dogs - Chapter 2

Iron Dogs | Fiction: Thriller / Suspense
by Cliff Robertson

As the small and bloody pieces of Dan Burford, (code named Jeremiah by the British secret service,) had been flying through the pure Scottish air mixed with fragments of his swordstick and Dave,  his one time friend Sam Butler was returning from a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico. Sam had with him several companions, all of them local businessmen and highly respected in their own communities. None of them were aware of his dubious past.  Sam had no need to consort with the unsavoury types he had kept company with for most of his adult life. Only the best of company would do for Sam now.
It had been a wonderful day and Sam was glowing with satisfaction as he turned to his friends, who were taking photographs of the day’s catch, and raised his glass before drinking the contents and then throwing the empty glass over the side. It was just the kind of flamboyant gesture that his friends expected of him and they loved him for it.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

“The Remainder”

In All Probability: A Collection of Short Stories | Fiction: Stories Stories
by Steve Morris

“I had always wanted to run my own company. I had always wanted a big successful company. And we couldn’t get much bigger that Holden Securities now could we?”
I smiled as I interviewed this young hotshot developer. I liked him. He was sharp, logical and keen with just a little bit of mischief about him. His background was in programming, much like my own.  He understood raw code just like myself.  I was going to give him a job but he would have to work harder in the interview. I like to see them under a little pressure to see what they are made of. I decided to make him sweat for a while I bragged a little more about my company’s achievements.
“I don’t even know how much we are worth at the moment. The company is worth millions.  Heaven knows what the next accounts will say.  Pretty much everyone is using Holden Securities’ software at the moment.”

Friday, 26 December 2014

Flight of Fancy

Short stories Volume 1 | Fiction: Short Stories
by Neal James

He should have known that there was something in the air from the moment that his toothbrush did a suicide dive into the laundry basket. Looking back now,  the signs had been there for a while and he had been just too blind and wrapped up in his work to see them.
George had worked at the bank for nearly twenty years, and had risen through the ranks by a combination of sheer hard work and a flair for information technology. He had been instrumental in setting up all of the financial systems and the computer networking throughout the country. Now they had sidelined him into an area which they felt best suited his abilities. What that had meant in practice, was that his new boss’ son needed a job, and George had become the target. The lad had come through university, had a degree and clearly knew his stuff - of that there was no doubt - but George had the bank’s name etched into him – it was his reason for getting up in the morning.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Does it all end happily ever after?

A review of Pomp and Circumstances by Steve Campen, Radio Producer

The Review "Love and marriage and what better backdrop than the biggest marriage, so far, this century. Sue really brings the whole day back to life again. Like many I was non-plussed about the Kate and William wedding but really rather enjoyed the whole event, much like this book, filled with teenage angst royal splendour and a touch of genuine love. Does it all end happily ever after? I suggest you read Sue's book to find out."
Steve Campen, Radio Producer 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Dog | Short Stories

Serendipity – A miscellany of short stories
by John Butler

I was hungry – very hungry. All right, dogs are always hungry. I know that but this time it was a hunger that gnawed at my very being. Marian, that’s my mistress and Joe, her husband, weren’t exactly dog lovers. Why then, you might ask, had they got a dog? From scraps of conversation I’d overheard during the couple of years I’d been with them I gathered they thought I might be some sort of security for them.
Joe had a kind of scrap business and their backyard was where most of the junk lay until it was replaced by other junk. They had given me a kennel in the yard and I was supposed to bark and make a fuss if anyone came near during the night.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

"beautifully written and one that will be read over and over again"

"I absolutely loved these stories. They all gave me that warm fuzzy Christmassy feeling. The descriptions in the stories are amazing and really help you to picture what's going on…This book deserves to be very successful. It is absolutely delightful.
Heather Pretty, school librarian

"I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.  Imaginative stories and great illustrations. Well done."
Jenefer Llewllyn Ferguson, Teifi Scribblers

About the book Sue Hampton captures the spirit of Christmas with three warm-hearted stories full of humour, mystery and magic – starring a boy who’d rather be an angel than a globalob, a donkey called Trouble and a girl with a cracker-sized lamb. With illustrations by children from schools Sue has visited, this is a book to make you smile at any time of year.

Ebook Kobo | Google Play | Amazon Kindle | Apple iBook | Nook

Monday, 22 December 2014

"If you are looking for a special something for a child on Christmas, I suggest this book"

"I have had the privilege to read Aliens and Angels by Sue Hampton before many other young readers who I am sure are anxious to read. I do not want to give away much of the stories because I don't want to disappoint anyone in any way whatsoever. What I can say is as I started reading the book I straight away started to get into the first story, and then the second story called Not without a carrot. This story is based on a donkey called Trouble who doesn't do ANYTHING without a carrot, and oh my...the third story!!!! The third story is called Bootee for Etta. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL STORY! It creates mixed emotions throughout the story. This story was based on a little girl called Etta who was left without her parents on Christmas. You will have to read the story to understand why it was such an amazing

Sunday, 21 December 2014

"a story of hope in a dark place, a super book that is to be highly recommended."

"My reaction to reading these three stories was to marvel at the breadth of Sue's imagination. In the first story, from which the book takes its title, a young boy feels different from his classmates, he suffers from name calling and is quite unhappy with his part in the school nativity play. The story leads him through wonderful adventures of his imagination - or is it reality? I was not sure and it didn't seem to matter anyway - to a very satisfying conclusion. The second story was first published in this newsletter after Sue read it for our crib service. I was again moved by its great joy and laughed at the humour. The third story "Bootee for Etta" is a story of hope in a dark place for a young girl whose mother is rushed into hospital and she is bundled off to spend Christmas with her family’s cleaning lady. She is worried

"Beautifully written with rich visual imagery, makes us see three familiar aspects of Christmas in a different light"

"Sue Hampton is a well-known local writer with over 20 books for children and young adults to her name. Her latest book, Aliens and Angels, is a collection of three stories with a Christmas theme. Sue’s stories are always beautifully written with rich visual imagery, and they are full of humour and imagination. Her new collection makes us see three familiar aspects of Christmas in a different light. The first story is about a boy who wanted to be an angel in his school nativity play rather than one of the aliens, which all have to be clumsy, spotty and hop about with their legs tied together. Nobody can understand what the problem is or why he doesn't like his role. The second story is about an obstinate donkey with a passion for carrots whose owner loses patience with her and sells her to someone called Joseph. The donkey

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Full Marks | Crime Detective Mystery

Full Marks
by Neal James

The stench was almost overpowering, and it hit them as soon as they had forced open the front door of the house. Detective Sergeant Marks recognised it immediately – the smell of death and decomposition. He had experienced body discovery before but nothing as bad as this, and they were yet to locate the source. Ten years earlier, as a uniformed PC, he had been called to a house on the local council estate where neighbours had reported an unpleasant odour coming from a property at the end of their street. They had noticed rats going in and out of the place, and hadn’t seen the occupier, a single woman in her late fifties, for some time. It had been down to him as the neighbourhood policeman to gain entry and assess the situation.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Me and the Foreign Girl | Suspense

Me and the Foreign Girl
by James McCarthy

An explosion rocked the trawler from stem to stern, and threw Pat O’Malley forward on to the spokes of the steering wheel. His chest took the brunt of it. He couldn’t be sure but he thought he heard a scream before he landed on the floor with a thump. He couldn’t breathe properly because of the pain in his chest. As this eased he looked around for Tarja; she was sitting on the wheelhouse floor behind him sobbing. Propelled off the bench she must have hit the floor hard.
‘Are you all right?’ he asked, while checking his ribs for fractures. They were sore to touch but none had broken.
‘I’m OK. Did we hit something?’ She was now sitting up and rubbing her right shoulder.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Late Night Vigil

The Laird of Castle Ballantine
by Harry Riley

“This is a crazy waste of time,” whispers Hilary.
“I agree, but we have to be here, you know we do!”
“I can’t think why, it’s pretty obvious nothing’s going to happen and I’m absolutely freezing.”
Another muted voice cuts in from the darkness at the edge of the crowd, from someone who is listening intently: “I’ve got my camera with me just in case.”
It is bitterly cold and the mist is swirling up from the flooded River Tweed, just below the small churchyard where they are now clustered. Leonard McFadden pulls his coat collar higher to protect his bare neck. Enviously he turns around and glares at the man standing behind him who had the foresight to bring his camera and to be wearing a warm woolly hat.
Leonard thinks he is coming down with the flu; he should be tucked up in bed with a glass of brandy, snug in his room at the Towers Hotel, back at Berwick Upon Tweed. Raising a hand to his mouth he tries vainly to stifle a cough that has been itching to burst out: watching as his exposed breath lingers visibly in the cold night air. He feels he should at least be waiting on the other side of the heavy wrought iron gates, in the old Singer Gazelle, with the engine running, and the heater going full blast, after all, Hilary is right, nothing’s really going to happen…is it?
There are over a dozen journalists, each of them rubbing their hands together and thumping their feet heavily on the sodden ground, trying frantically to stamp some life back into their ice cold toes–clustering together in this ice covered churchyard, and making an untidy circle around the grave…

Paperback | Waterstones | Amazon UK

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

A Fearful Madness | Crime Detective Mystery

A Fearful Madness
by Julius Falconer

It has been said, by whom and when I have forgotten, that the four ingredients of a good story are religion, sex, aristocracy and mystery. In line with this recipe, one practised hand penned the following line:
‘My God,’ said the duchess, ‘I’m pregnant. I wonder whodunnit.’
This might qualify as the shortest short story ever told – and I doubt whether it could be expressed in more compressed form even in an inflected language. The following account of the case of a death by curtain-tie will, I hope, provide you with more extended interest on the basis of the same recipe. It begins with sex and religion, and, if the circumstances strike you as sordid, I cannot help it: I recount the facts as I find them, and they are a necessary prelude to what follows.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

When Payday Loans Go Wrong: - The beginning

When Payday Loans Go Wrong | Self-help / Personal finance
by Steve Perry

When I woke up on the 3rd May I knew very little about Steve Perry and almost nothing about payday lending as a whole, and to be quite frank, neither did I care. A four hour trip up North was my punishment for getting a little too close to the truth on my last story. Not that I am bitter, but the amount of sleaze these celebrities get away with make politicians look like angels, but hey that’s showbiz and that was my calling in life. Fast cars, bright lights, stalking the city streets to dig the dirt out of every story I could, for one purpose–to make headline news.
I don’t know which I hated the most, the alarm sounding at 5am telling me it’s time to get up, the battering of rain against my bedroom window, or the ticking time bomb waiting to explode in my head that said Jack, you should not have been out last night. All I did know was one thing–there is no justice in this world.
Two snooze buttons later and I was up, quick cup of coffee, wash and shave and I was on the road heading up to the delights of Wigan. Driving up the M6 I soon began to realise I should be thinking about questions to ask, I have never been one for researching a case, “just turn up, take it on board and roll with it” that was always my approach. I began to review in my mind what I did know, we had a 29 year old guy that was about as capable of controlling his finances as I had holding down a London Kebab at 2am on a Wednesday morning! I was almost certain this would turn out to be another one of those cases of self pity, “blame the system not me, I was just another innocent victim” I thought.
After a quick stop at the self service for a well earned coffee and bacon sandwich I was off on my travels once again, it was 10am, a meeting arranged with Steve for 11am and only 40 minutes on the sat-nav to go, I was laughing.
As I turned off at the motorway I was soon met by the most ominous of signs…

Paperback | Waterstones | Amazon UK

Monday, 15 December 2014

News Headlines You Won't Read | Short Stories

Skateboarding on the Appian Way
by Dominic Macchiaroli

The State Department announced a few days ago that it had “run out of patience” in it’s dealings with Iran over that country’s unwillingness to hold meaningful negotiations over its budding nuclear program. However, the next day a spare bag of patience was stumbled over in a White House men’s room by the Vice President who was searching for his last remaining bit of intelligence among the lavatory stalls.
In a tradition that dates back to the days of Lincoln, the White House announced that this year’s Thanksgiving turkey has been given an official pardon by the President, and its life will be spared. In spite of the news, the Attorney General has decided to conduct a federal trial of the hapless bird in New York City anyway, with the turkey being given full constitutional rights despite the fact that it is not a US citizen.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Game on...

Once Upon a Game...  my precarious career as a games inventor!
by Michael Kindred

A welcome interruption
"Phone for you, Michael." The receptionist's voice echoed up the stairs at the offices where I worked as a finance assistant in the early 70s.
"Who is it?"
"I think he said Invicta."
My heart leapt. About a month previously I had visited the firm's offices and demonstrated four games ideas to the Product Director. If he were simply rejecting the ideas, surely a letter with a parcel returning the prototypes would have been sufficient. Perhaps he was interested in at least one of them. So was this the breakthrough I'd been hoping for?
After exchanging the usual pleasantries, he said "We like your games." Had I heard correctly – a plural – games? I was right. He confirmed that they were interested in marketing three of them.
This was the sort of news I had hoped to hear during the seventeen or so years I had been thinking up ideas for games as a hobby and submitting them to manufacturers, steadily creating a rather depressing pile of rejection letters. There would be a long way to go yet with Invicta – more of that anon.

Paperback | Waterstones | Amazon UK

Friday, 5 December 2014

One Day in School

Drifting Beneath the "Red Duster” | Biography
by Neil J. Morton

Our new headmaster a Welshman, Mr Morris by name, had tipped the old curriculum on its head. In 1953 his predecessor, a man firmly entrenched in pre-war methods, retired. He took with him the shiny black jacket and pinstripe trousers that he habitually wore, with a stiff wing collar and a cravat fastened by a gold pin and all the other out-dated teaching methods and Edwardian stuffiness. Now we had more sports, even the assembly hall was turned into a gymnasium. We were given status as members of a house, and became proud of our athletic and sports ability. The houses were named Garth, Kings, Staines, and Keyes, and the house emblems became part of our new school badge, quartered on a blue and gold shield. Even the name of this red brick pile changed for the better. We became Garth Secondary College. In later years Surrey County Council embraced co-education and my sister followed in my footsteps.

Friday, 10 October 2014

The Waif - Chapter Two

The Waif | Fiction: Crime Detective Mystery
by Julius Falconer

‘It’s the truth, I tell you,’ Sweetman insisted. ‘I wouldn’t tell lies to you two, now, would I?’ Beads of sweat glistened on his low forehead. He puffed away nervously, wondering, I suppose, whether I was going to press him for the true explanation. He had not long to wait.
‘Eric’s widow,’ I said, ‘told us you and he had planned some sort of raid on the industrial estate outside Sherburn.’
‘Well, maybe she did.’
‘So she was wrong?’
‘Well, maybe not altogether wrong.’
‘Come on, sunshine, for crying out loud, how can we hope to catch Eric’s murderer when you won’t tell us what happened last night?’ Nobs took a last drag at his cigarette before throwing the remains into the hearth. He sat for a moment stony-faced. Then he told us a rambling story, in which - Nobs happily confessed - all the names but his and Eric’s were false, to protect himself and his wife from repercussions. The gist of what he said is as follows.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

My Parakeet was an Anarchist | Fiction: Short Stories

Growing up as I did in the hinterlands of Nebraska was a profound and moving experience. The relentless winds of the Great Plains howled maudlin concerts across the prairie, with seething fields of golden grain set waving and heaving back and forth by torrid currents of the same. This was the land of my forefathers, and those who had come before had cultivated an untamed and wild soil in the latter days of Manifest Destiny. We who came after could only hope to follow their hearty example. It was a fantastic and exotic place to grow up.
As kids do, we would dash across those same fields of sod and furrow until our hearts fairly leapt from our chests in protest and exhaustion. The expanse of flat and endless black earth made the world seem infinite, and our dreams were rooted as fast as the mulch we turned. The triumphs of our collective youth were realized in these vistas, and along for the ride of a lifetime was Melancholy, our happy spaniel.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Over and Doubt - Crime Detective Mystery

...Leave it!’ I commanded peremptorily but kindly. ‘It’s nothing, nothing at all. Masters and Joseph will set it all to rights in no time. Shall we go into the drawing-room?’, and when I led the way, the company had no choice but to follow me. Tristram, however, delayed a few seconds to set upright a bottle of wine that was gently putting forth its contents on to the dining-room floor, and he moved quickly to draw back the curtains over the French windows which the alcoholic tide threatened to discolour irremediably. A movement in the late Mr Trentham’s garden attracted his attention. He caught a glimpse of a figure disappearing through the back gate in the museum garden wall, which was always kept bolted. He found it impossible to say with certainty whether the figure was male or female, although he inclined to the former. Thinking that the museum had perhaps been burgled, he ran into our garden and peered over the fence that divided us from the late Ralph Trentham’s premises. He saw on the lawn a shape that looked suspiciously like a body. Wasting no time on going round to Solomon Fothergill’s, he scaled the fence, approached the shape and, with a gasp …

Thursday, 25 September 2014

To Know the Road: Chapter Six - The Road North

To Know the Road | Historical Fiction / Romance
by Annie Coyle Martin

Victoria’s thoughts raced. What would happen? Would she be called down one day and told a husband had been found for her? Would she ever get out of this bedroom, where the walls leaned in over her? From her window she could see three houses opposite and the short lane down to the sea. The house faced east and on one side she could see a lime tree in the neighbour’s garden, on the other side, the street. The late summer had wound wearily away and finally it was September. Every day she checked the calendar, heard the bells of the Catholic Church ring at eight, at midday, and at six; on Sundays she heard the Protestant bell. She listened always for the sounds of the house, but saw no one but Kathleen who brought her meals. She read and reread the same books from her shelf, Jane Austen, Stevenson, Dickens. She was appalled at how accustomed she had become to her prison. Sunny afternoons she watched for a black cat with a white spot on its breast to step delicately round the corner of the house opposite and settle in the sun. She looked at the larch tree in the garden on the other side of the street and saw the edges of its leaves had become dried and crinkled. When the sun moved round to the back of the house and dusk shadowed her room, another day was ending. When rain washed down the window, obscuring the view, she was unbearably sad. At night, she awoke drowned in sweat and with a strange metal taste in her mouth, as if she sucked a copper coin; and she thought they were trying to poison her.

Paperback | Waterstones | Amazon UK

Friday, 19 September 2014

A Genuine Fake - Chapter One

A Genuine Fake | Fiction: Thriller / Suspense
by Fred Maddox

Tracy was oblivious to the dozen or so people gathered around the frozen earth of the graveside. Or of Father James’ words as he conducted the burial service, his voice nothing more than a faraway drone. She stared vacantly at the solitary old oak tree, just beyond the moss covered dry stone wall which marked the ancient churchyard’s boundary. Its thick, gnarled trunk, scarred from the scores of lovers carving their undying love for each other into its weather beaten bark, giving testament to its decades of claiming that lone position as its own. Its bare misshapen branches creaked and groaned as the chilling north east wind whistled through them. What tales this mighty oak could tell, of the many christenings and weddings and funerals it had witnessed, and indeed, it would be more than likely this magnificent tree had witnessed all three services for the same person.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Sharks that Walk on Land - Chapter One

Sharks that Walk on Land | Fiction: Historical
by Ron Palmer

Monday, 8th February 1779
The summer had been unusually hot. The old people were claiming that they had known nothing like it in living memory. For weeks now, the temperatures had been extremely high during the day with precious little relief at night. There hadn’t been a cloud in the sky for more than two weeks and the air was so clear and still as to allow the sounds of the farm workers harvesting the corn to be carried for great distances across the fields. Hot it might be but as country folk often do, they could see the advantages as well as the downside in these matters. In this particular case, the harvest could be brought in and stacked. The weather was ideal for that at least. After the harvest, the rain and the cooler weather would be welcome.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

The Spider’s Banquet - Chapter Two

The Spider’s Banquet | Crime Detective Mystery
by Julius Falconer

…‘Well, gentlemen,’ he said, ‘it does not require the brains of St Thomas Aquinas to guess what you have called about.  I shall be happy to help, but I don’t know that there is anything I can add to what you probably already know from the missing woman’s sister.’  He spoke in a quiet, measured tone of voice, the voice of a man of study and meditation.
‘No, maybe not,’ I replied, ‘but I need to start somewhere, and you are the obvious starting-point, as superior of this monastery.  We could hardly begin elsewhere without grave offence to protocol.’
He acknowledged my little joke with a nod of the head.
‘What would you like to know?’
‘Tell us, if you would, exactly what happened on Saturday, in so far as you have been able to piece it together.  It doesn’t matter at all if you repeat what we know already.’

Friday, 5 September 2014

To Boldly Go - Day 1

To Boldly Go | Biography
by Ron Palmer
Freedom alone substitutes from time to time for the love of material comfort.
At 0900 I slipped the moorings at Thieves Bay, Pender Island and headed directly into a south-westerly wind of 21 knots. The wind blowing hard against the ebb tide created a short standing sea and the forward movement of the boat soon brought spray over the bow. The fact that the sky was overcast and a continuous drizzle had set in didn’t make for an auspicious start to this grand adventure. By noon though the wind had died a little and the sun came out, so my spirits lifted a little. Not the spirits consumed the previous evening, fortunately. The effect of those was still lurking in the darkest corners of my brain.

Friday, 29 August 2014

A Figure in the Mist - PART 1

A Figure in the Mist | Crime Detective Mystery
by Julius Falconer

Her Honour Judge Hines Q.C. looked impassive as the trial entered its second day. The preliminaries had been dealt with, and the prosecution was about to open its case. Court 12 at the Court House in Leeds on that 27th day of July, 2010, contained as many members of the press and public, and almost as many legal staff, as it was physically possible to squeeze in, in the light of Health and Safety regulations, the requirements of good order and the rules that governed considerations of what was seemly in a court of law. The case of Regina v. Purbright had aroused much interest amongst the inhabitants of Monk Fryston village, where the murder of Amelia Walden at the Hall Hotel was the most exciting event since a lorry travelling too fast had left the road and demolished the public urinal in 1931.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

'Dreams' - Poetry Video.

A poem by Natalie Mason, titled: 'Dreams', taken from her book: 'Poems and Rhymes for all Times'.

Paperback | Waterstones | Amazon UK

Friday, 22 August 2014

A Time to Prey - Chapter 2

A Time to Prey | Crime Detective Mystery
by Julius Falconer

When news of the bishop’s death came through, Sergeant Hewitt and I drove out post haste to Hartlebury Castle to begin our investigation.  It was a cool autumn morning with the promise of some warmth later on as the mists cleared. The ten-mile journey on the A449 was pleasant if unexciting. Bevere Lane, Egg Lane, Lock Lane, Sinton Lane and other country roads tempted us to diverge from our chosen path of official business, but Hewitt drove determinedly on until we drew up at the front of the castle. We had hardly had time to get our bearings and admire the architecture, which I had not seen before, when a tall, lanky clergyman, doleful of countenance, stepped out to meet us.

Friday, 8 August 2014


No Cousin of Mine | Historical / Military
by Derek Smith

The young man sat with his back to the engine of a train heading north from a large midland city. As he had waited on the platform, he had been sure that he would not have been the only one from a city with a population of over a million to be making the same journey that day to the same destination, and confidently expected to see others of about his age waiting for the same train.  Like him, they would have been told that they were to bring only a holdall or a small case containing just a change of underwear and basic toiletries. He had seen no one of this description who appeared to be making the same journey, and so he was now travelling alone in an otherwise empty compartment.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Assembly Room - Chapter One

The Assembly Room | Fiction: Children/YA, Historical, Paranormal
by Bryony Allen

Looking back, Merryn wished she had trusted her instincts when she first saw The Assembly Room. She should have yelled at her father to turn round and take them back to their miserable rented house, in the most miserable estate in town, back to her miserable school. She should have told him that she could cope with her damp, tiny bedroom and the booming of music rattling pictures off her wall. She should have said that she could put up with the rubbish teachers who had given up on the idea of discipline, the gangs of children that had more power than the teachers and the universal mockery of her ambition to be a teacher.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Call Me Valentine

Call Me Valentine | Biography / History
by Derek Rosser

I was nine and a half years old when, on my way home from school, I read the news in large letters on a billboard:
I hurried home to find my parents listening to the radio with worried expressions on their faces. I thought it was all very exciting but, of course, a nine year old could not appreciate what was to come.
We all listened to Mr Chamberlain’s broadcast on September 3rd 1939 telling us that we were now at war with Germany. The papers were full of it. A British Expeditionary Force had been despatched to France and would support the French army in the defence of the Maginot line. The Germans meanwhile were mopping up the Polish cavalry and took about six weeks to reach the North Sea coast and turn their attention onto the French. The construction of the Maginot line proved to be a waste of money and effort since the Germans went around it by way of Belgium and the Netherlands.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Troubled Waters - Chapter One

Troubled Waters | Crime Detective Mystery
by Julius Falconer

‘With fearful steps pursuing
Hopes of high talk with the departed.’
Percy Bysshe SHELLEY
Hymn to Intellectual Beauty lines 51-52

Nothing was established from the early facts, although these were reconstituted in finest detail, except that the discovery made by the owners of the Hounslow Heath was difficult to explain. That Sunday – 2 August 1964 – it had started to rain heavily in the afternoon, and it was still raining. There were a number of boats in the pound above lock 38: two narrow-boats going down-stream, a cruiser and a wooden barge-cum-butty going upstream. A little after nine-thirty, as night was closing in under a leaden sky, a metal barge announced its arrival and entered the pound. The lock-keeper was none too helpful, as he had relatives visiting. With a wagging of his index-finger, he indicated that he would not open the gates. He had hardly gone back indoors when the skipper, whom he knew, knocked on his window.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

They’re all foreigners abroad - A

They’re all foreigners abroad | Travel / Humour
by Stuart Wright

A bargain holiday
Mr. and Mrs. ‘We got a real bargain holiday’ get right up my nostrils. Within a few hours of arriving at your hotel, I can almost guarantee that a couple will verbally force themselves upon you because they are dying to ask you how much you paid for your holiday. The reason for this is that they waited until the very last minute before booking theirs over the Internet or on Teletext. It’s as if they go out of their way to really naff you off. You paid over a thousand pounds for your two weeks holiday in the four star hotel, but they can’t wait to tell everyone that they only paid three hundred and fifty pounds. When they landed at the airport they didn’t have a clue which hotel they would get, but they struck lucky and got your very nice four star.
Never mind; there’s always next year and let’s hope they get put into a dustbin!

Monday, 31 March 2014

OTOLI was recently entered in The Wishing Shelf Awards, this is what readers thought...

OTOLI | Fiction: Children/YA, Bullying
by Bryony Allen

The readers thought the beginning was very powerful, pulling them into the story. Many noted that the author really seemed to understand what it is like to be the victim of a bully. They sympathised very much with Alice and her journey through the story and they also thought that you dealt well with ‘onlookers’ who feel sorry for the victim but do nothing. They also liked the cliffhanger at the end of the book.
A number of the boys felt the book was a little slow. They wanted (I quote) ‘More magic, wizards and cars.’ (Typical boys!)

STYLE 9/10
Excellent flow to the text. Speech worked particularly well. Character descriptions were superb but a few wanted more setting description. The teachers noted: ‘The vocab was perfect for this age group.’

The children discovered no spelling or grammatical errors.

From the feedback , the children (particularly the girls) loved this book. Really, it was only the cover which let it down. Might be worth re-doing it. From other feedback, kids always seem to love books with a picture of the characters on the front.

‘A thoughtful, well-crafted story. Perfect for any child battling with the up and downs of school life.’ The Wishing Shelf Awards

Paperback | Waterstones | Amazon UK

Thursday, 23 January 2014

CALL ME AMY - Chapter 1

Book Title: Call Me Amy
Genre: Fiction: Children/YA aged 8 – 14
Author: Marcia Strykowski

Synopsis: For 13-year-old Amy Henderson, 1973 has been a lonely year in her small Maine fishing village. With the help of a wounded seal pup, she gets to know Craig, a tough kid in an old army jacket. A new law against handling wild marine mammals brings suspense to the story. Where can they keep Pup until he heals? Their only hope is to trust Miss Cogshell, an elderly woman keeping to herself amidst jeers from the local kids. She catches them sneaking Pup into her woodshed in the middle of the night. Throughout the book, small challenges prepare Amy for her greatest one of all. A challenge that leads her to discover that everyone, herself included, has a voice worth hearing.

Excerpt: Chapter 1 (first two pages)
Sharp ocean air raced around my bedroom before I slammed the windows shut and headed downstairs.
My big sister Nancy called out to me. “Are you going for a walk by yourself again?” She swung her dark, glossy ponytail over one straight shoulder.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher - Chapter 3: Cahoots

Book Title: Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher
Genre: Fiction: Middle Grade Fantasy
Author: Kathryn Jacoby

“I’ve shown you how to earn your paycheck,” Aunt Rita said. She was still smiling. “Now I’m going to show you how to keep your job. Broom, let’s finish up!” she said and patted the hazel broom handle. Her broom headed for the nearest open window and began to pick up speed. The spider banged against the wall with a loud “Oomph!” before being dragged upward and out the window. Delores followed behind and raced to catch up with her aunt, who now flew at breakneck speed over the forest below.
A large blue body of water appeared below them. “How about dropping him into the lake over there?” Delores suggested to her aunt. “I can cut the cord and drop him like a pumpkin fritter into hot grease!”

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab - The Giant Cobra

Book Title: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab
Genre: Juvenile Fiction/Children/Middle grade/Tweens
Author: Fiona Ingram

Simultaneously they peeped out of their hiding places. The flashlight the men had dropped, now lying on the floor of the chamber, illuminated their worst fear. In the corner, a pile of silvery coils moved stealthily, light glinting on its silver-and-black speckled skin. Its enormous body began to undulate as it uncoiled in lazy ripples, a large, triangular head protruding from the gleaming mass. A whip-like tongue flicked in and out of its jaws.
"I think this is one of the eight-foot snakes you were talking about," Justin whispered. "Maybe longer."

The giant cobra slithered across the floor with a dry, scraping sound. They shrank back into their sarcophagi, shaking.