Saturday, 5 December 2015

Stop! … don’t go any further | Serendipity – A miscellany of short stories | Book Excerpt

Fiction: Short Stories
by John Butler

With trembling hand, the driving instructor wiped the beads of cold sweat off his brow. It was not that it was a particularly warm day, in fact, now, as autumn drew to a close, there was that foreboding snap in the air that reminded us that winter would soon be upon us.
His face was a sickly shade of white and his eyes were closed in an unnatural tightness. For several moments he said nothing, then, making a visible effort to control his breathing, broke the long silence.
The driver, Miss Jarvis, an attractive young woman of about eighteen, turned in her seat and looked at him.
“Are you all right sir?” she asked in her best caring voice. At his command she had slammed on the brakes of the little red Fiesta and brought it to a shuddering halt.
So far, the examiner had sat through her test in stony silence. As he turned to answer her enquiry, she noticed his deathly pallor had slowly given way to an angry red. He looked like a ripe tomato about to burst.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Folly Under the Lake - Book Excerpt - Chapter 1

Genre: Fiction: Crime and mystery
Author: Salema Nazzal

“We can’t possibly turn down an invitation to stay the weekend at Witton Park!” exclaimed Florence Brewer heatedly to her husband Joseph. “Walter and Blanche would be most upset. Walter has spent a small fortune getting the folly built, and he’s dying to show it off to us.”
“It’s not so much a folly as an underwater smoking room by all accounts,” mused Joseph, leaning back in his chair, and looking up at the ceiling. “They say the domed roof is made of glass and you can observe the fish swimming by while you’re puffing on your pipe. I must say I’m rather keen to view the thing, but a weekend with the Sinnet family is almost more than I can stand. I know he’s my father’s oldest friend, but the way he constantly clears his throat in that way. He never used to do it and I find it bally annoying. Blanche is pleasant enough but I just can’t fathom either of them. I must say, I think…”
“I don’t care what you think. We’re going and that’s final,” interrupted Florence, peering at her reflection in her powder compact through half narrowed eyes. “It’s not like we’re inundated with invitations, though I can’t work out why. The word about town is that he’s imported some marvellous marble statues that are dotted about all over the estate. I’d like to feast my eyes on them, plus all the improvements he’s been making to the house and grounds.”
“It certainly sounds like he’s been splashing his cash around,” said Joseph in a jovial voice. “I’ve heard the three lakes are quite fascinating.”

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Treachery and Triumph - An Anthology of World War II Stories

Genre: Fiction: History / World War II (Anthology)

Darkness and Light By Steve Morris
This story is based on a true account of an escape from Auschwitz


Is that a straight enough answer for you?

There is no other word for it. It was hell.

People ask me how it felt to escape and assume it was a wonderful feeling. I can tell you that I’ve spent every single day of my life since then thinking about the place and the prisoners in there. For that reason, in many ways, I’m not sure I ever really escaped from it.
19 June 1942

We talked secretly. Saturday morning would soon come around (although the fact that it was Saturday rather than any other day meant absolutely nothing in there).  Saturday was a work day. Saturday was a cold day, like the rest.  Stanislaw, Jozef and Eugeniusz were with me. Together we would make the four. It would take all four of us and a whole lot of luck. We had decided that Saturday was to be the day because there was always a change of routine. At noon. There was a tiny window of opportunity. We had been watching our captors carefully in our fear and our hatred. On Saturdays some SS men always left the camp to go to spend time with their families until Monday. That left gaps. The camp had grown and merged with a neighbouring camp. By then there were thousands of SS guards there. There were many more of us, but we never seemed to be around for long. The camp ran like clockwork. The clock, however was a cold ticking killing machine. 

Although I had long lost track of calendar dates and lived in a time when weekends and holidays were a long-distant dream in a living nightmare, I seemed to have lasted longer than many others. My survival for the length of time was largely due to ‘luck’ after having being given relatively light work by one of the Kapos1. I kept out of the way of trouble by means of my ‘cleaning’ job of dragging the dead to the crematorium. I worked as part of a pair. My partner carried legs, I carried the arms. That didn’t mean I escaped the constant kicking, however. Nothing was ever done quickly enough for them. In ultimate irony, work indoors often meant a better chance of survival, especially during winter where there was some warmth to be found. Seasons never seemed to change. Time meant nothing. The weather was bitter. It was always bitter. We barely felt glad to be alive. No one escaped, we were told. We also knew that a punishment for escape attempts was death by starvation.  They wouldn’t have shot us. That would have been easier for us. I’d seen it. They liked to reduce us to food-craving animals. Some lost their faith. ‘There is no God,’ they said. ‘How can he let this happen?’

Friday, 2 October 2015

Fierce Thunder - SOMMERS

Genre: Thriller / Suspense, Adventure
Author: Courtney Silberberg and Jacquelyn Kinkade Silberberg

Mountain biking at the Big Bear Ski Resort, high above the Los Angeles basin in the middle of summer, was like being on a different planet. The once crowded, manicured ski runs where virgin powder once lay were now unpatrolled, barren, mountain bike trails. An accountant, who was also an extreme sports enthusiast at the corporate offices, had realized a ski resort could run basically year round, hence, greater revenues and stronger balance sheets.
Chairlifts carried both bikes and bikers up to the top, where lodges that fed hundreds during the winter months, now worked with a skeleton staff, parading in bikinis and shorts.  It was in sharp contrast to the congested, smoggy metropolitan area below, as it was pure up there, the air and water clean. The crisp blue sky canopied any danger for the rough and tumble adrenaline junkies the trails attracted, making for an exhilarating place to go, as it was supposed to be fun.
It probably wasn’t fair. At least that’s how Dr. Brad Sommers saw it in that glimpse of time and space that passed before he was forced to react. Of course “fair” wasn’t one of his favorite words at the moment.
An athlete, the twenty-nine year old Sommers was riding hard, too hard, stressing the mountain bike to its limits, pointing down a narrow, winding chute. The gravel and sand rooster-tailed up from the trail as his rear, knobby tire found grooves and then hopped between them, inches from peril.
Sommers tightened the muscles in his strong arms, gingerly maintaining and sensing his precious balance… shifting, leaning. He was a good biker, instinctive, but it was almost futile, as this downhill ride was equivalent to gliding over shiny black ice, and going down or catching an edge here meant falling off the mountain. But Sommers didn’t care about that. He was on a mission, trying to forget, cope maybe; with the odd hand fate had dealt him.
The phones kept ringing in his head and cryptic messages about appeal decisions, court dates and where his case was headed if he didn’t respond bounced around in his brain like his tires skirting between the ruts for precious traction.
His case.

Monday, 14 September 2015

How I (almost) Dodged The Draft

A Reluctant Recruit | Wartime History / Biography
by Derek Rosser

There were seven of us in that poky little office. They are scattered far and wide across the globe now but I expect that, if they ever read this, they will recognise themselves.
We were all engaged in a common pursuit called ‘Avoiding Conscription’. The last ‘War to end wars’ had been over for about eight years but the government of the day, in its wisdom, found it necessary to maintain the armed forces at full strength to ensure our continued survival.
Needless to say those of us upon whom the burden was likely to fall did not support this point of view. We were, however, given little opportunity to argue our case.
The ritual began at the age of eighteen when all males were obliged to register for National Service and be subjected to medical examination. The examination appeared to consist of coughing while the examiner retained a firm hold upon your vital appendages. To make absolutely certain, you were instructed to touch your toes while he carried out a close scrutiny of your posterior orifice.

Friday, 19 June 2015

The Cottage in Melody Lane

Captain Damnation and other strange Tales | Fiction: Short stories
by Harry Riley

...We scoured the ‘houses for sale’ market, and spotted a glorious bargain in the village of Lower Crutchley, a period cottage, set in an acre of garden with unspoilt views over open countryside, plenty of room for Jimmy to play in safety.

The purchase went through like a dream and I asked the estate agent “how come it is so cheap?” He replied that the previous owner had died; the new owners had no wish to keep it, and wanted a quick sale.
Our new dwelling was really old, having been originally built two centuries earlier.
It was all ancient twisted beams and quaint doorways with an ingle-nook fireplace, the sort of cottage we’d dreamed about, but never expected to own.
After the excitement of moving in, we settled down to explore the house and garden properly and to plan the changes we would make.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

And so it began...

Same same, but different | Travel
by Sally Wootton

‘Mum, can I go to Greenland?’ I was just seventeen years old when I first got the travelling bug. I was at school, in the first year of my A-levels and had no real idea what I wanted to do with my life. I’d toyed with the idea of being a teacher when I was ten and liked to boss my sister around from the front of our pretend classroom and there was a time I thought I’d fancy being an architect, until I realised it required seven years of dedicated study. I’d never been further than the South   of France on holiday with my parents and that was quite exotic considering the years of caravanning on the Isle of Wight and Cornwall.
Then one day as I sat, a newly appointed sixth former looking out onto the rest of the school and listening to another boring assembly, something caught my attention.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Never Mind Where the Ball Went

Never Mind Where the Ball Went and Other Golf Stories | Hobbies / True Short Stories
by Forbes Abercrombie

Lessons are fun. It is always pleasant to enjoy the undivided attention of a professional for half an hour or so and there is the pleasure of doing what one is told and hitting the ball better for it.  But it is an intimidating moment when you go to a new pro for teaching.  You are required to demonstrate for critical review your swing to a person who is by definition much more of an expert at it than yourself.  The pro knows this and seeks to put you at ease.
“Have a practice swing or two and then play a shot with your favourite club, a 4-wood or a 7-iron perhaps.”
Unless he is very careful there is a faintly patronising air. One of two things will happen; infrequently the shot is perfect, rifling down the practice ground and falling lifeless by the target. This rather irritates the pro who cannot think why this super golfer is coming for help he plainly doesn’t need. The pro bustles forward.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

The Wichenford Court Murder - Chapter Two

The Wichenford Court Murder | Fiction: Crime Detective Mystery
by Julius Falconer

...‘This is madness,’ Constance said. ‘You’d never get away with it, for a start. And for another thing, how can you both sit here calmly discussing the murder of your own father and grandfather? It’s grotesque, that’s what it is.’ Ignoring his mother’s outburst, Fletcher continued.
‘I’ve come up with quite a few cases of murders on farms dressed up to look like accidents. Here’s one. In July 1648, at the height of the civil war, Sir Thomas Fairfax came to Ossett, near Wakefield in Yorkshire, to attack Thornhill Hall, which had been occupied and fortified by Royalists under Captain Thomas Paulden. He used the farm buildings adjacent to the hall as cover for his cannon, allowed some of the retainers to leave and then began to bombard the main house. All of a sudden, the Parliamentarian powder-store blew up and took not just the farm-buildings but the hall as well with it. It transpired later that one of his former farm-hands, frightened that Sir Henry Savile, the owner, would surrender and survive, deliberately threw a torch into the powder-store. There was some story of revenge for losing his job.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Boxed In

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

…All he had to ‘do’ was sit (or lie) it out in a comatose, death-like state six feet down waiting for his resurrection at the hands of his wife and a few friends with shovels. They would come, he was sure. They would have to fairly soon before he ran out of air in his normal revived state. Mustn’t panic – that would stimulate his respiratory system and use up the available air too quickly. His pulse was racing; he could hear it inside his head. Must slow that down – breathe slowly, calm down, they’ll be here soon.
Mandy, his wife, was the beneficiary named on the insurance policy and the payout was in excess of a million pounds. They had planned out to the last detail what they were going to do once he was free again from his current confined situation. Off would come his beard and moustache, and a radical haircut, together with contact lenses, would fool all but his closest friends and business acquaintances. He would then slip quietly away from the area and await Mandy’s arrival with the proceeds of their scam, together with the funds from the sale of their house, which had always been in her name. The company would fold, unsecured creditors being left to fend for themselves in the feeding frenzy, and the two of them would slip out of the country with the false documents he had been provided with by the friend of a friend of a friend. That was the plan.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Brook Breasting - Chapter Eight

Brook Breasting | FICTION: General
by John White

...David studied the river of juveniles flowing past him. The only time he could remember moving faster than a snail’s pace between lessons was when his next period was PE or football. For the most part, academia had passed him by without a glance. A year after leaving school, realising that all the future held for him was one dead end job after another, he signed on at Night School. It was something he would look back on as a moment of inspiration. Algebra, calculus, punctuation and grammar became subjects he not only began to understand, but looked forward to tackling. After that he changed tack completely and joined the army.

David found himself standing in front of the Headmaster’s door. He knocked, perhaps a little too loudly and was left feeling like a nervous first year sent by his Form Master for some misdemeanour.

Friday, 29 May 2015

One Last Time - Chapter Four

One Last Time | FICTION: Thriller Suspense
by Mark Beggs

…For the next twenty minutes, David outlined what he had done and the problem he now faced. He explained about the sales audit in less than four weeks and how he had received sizable commissions based on false sales. He also explained what the money had been used for. He felt he had to let Boyle know everything in case Boyle thought he had used it for something illegal or perhaps even for drugs. As he listened, Boyle scribbled down notes on his yellow notepad. Only sporadically did he interrupt David to clarify some point. When David was finished, Boyle sat there in silence, his mind at work turning over his client’s problem, his expression giving nothing away.
The diminutive man finally spoke, “Well, David, this is a serious situation. No matter which way you look at it, it’s robbery, or call it by its posh name - fraud. But let me think.”

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Jagger - Prolegomenon

Jagger | FICTION:Crime Detective Mystery
by Julius Falconer

‘Have you ever killed a man?’ Jagger asked his companion.
‘No, of course not. Why, have you?’ Crudson replied with a question of his own.
‘Yes, I’m afraid I have.’
‘Are you going to tell me about it, or was that not the purpose of your question?’
‘Yes, I think I’d like to tell you – if you’ve the time to listen.’
The two men were seated in easy chairs in front of a log fire on a cold winter’s evening. While the snow-storm raged outside, all within was quiet, except for the stately tick-tock of the nineteenth-century French long-case clock that stood in the corner (made by Le Couvé in Napoléonville to celebrate the events of 24 February 1848 – although its present owner had never been able to confirm the clockmaker’s identity or location with other information). The friends each held a glass of golden cognac, which they sipped with appreciation, knowledgeably. Cigar smoke wound up to the ceiling. It was precisely the right place and moment for a story.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Back to the Future

Earning A Crust | BIOGRAPHY
by Derek Rosser

Anyone who has read the story of ‘A Reluctant Recruit’ will realise that my adventures as a member of the Royal Air Force had, eventually, to come to an end. For two years I had been looking forward to that happy day, the day when I would be demobilised and returned to life in Civvy Street.
Jean (My loving wife and the light of my life) was, of course, overjoyed that I had been returned to the comfort and privileges of marriage. She would, no longer, need to sport ten shillings (50p) to fund the train ticket which would carry me back to camp on Sunday evenings. She would, no longer, need to provide my favourite homemade cake by packing it into a cardboard box and relying on the auspices of the Royal Mail to get it to me in one piece.
She had, moreover, warned me that her hot water bottle was beginning to show the ravages of time and I was required to provide a nice warm spot for her feet. I had had some prior knowledge of this particular aspect of married life and was not too enthusiastic about repeating the experience. She pointed out that if her feet were cold, she could not concentrate on any other subject so I reluctantly agreed to take the place of the rubber bottle.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

In Search of Ireland Again - XLII

In Search of Ireland Again | TRAVEL
by John Butler

On Sunday night the town is deserted. It appears plague-stricken. There are lines of parked cars but no sign of a living soul.
Accommodation was not difficult to find. The hotel overlooking the harbour seemed quiet and empty but on entering the dining-room there was a sharp contrast.
The large room was full of diners. Waiters and waitresses in traditional black and white, darted about attending to every need, while concealed speakers blasted out the same aggressive, cacophony of discordant ‘musak’ as one meets in England.
If there is depression in N. Ireland, it is certainly ‘not here’ in this room.
I remember my history. Here in 1778, a ship disguised as a merchantman appeared off Carrckfergus. It was the notorious ‘Ranger’ commanded by that son of a Scottish gardener, Paul Jones. The crew of a fishing smack boarded her and Paul Jones, on learning that they were pilots, detained them. They told him that the ship he could see lying in Belfast Lough was the British Sloop-o-war, ‘Drake’ of twenty guns. Paul Jones then planned an attack that was to reverberate all over Britain, and, incidentally lead to the independence of Ireland.

Friday, 15 May 2015

A Bomber’s Moon

Wild Strawberries | HISTORY/War
by Derek Smith

It was not the bombing that had driven young James to aspire to become an evacuee, for indeed, he had probably survived the worst of it. Air raids had become part of his nine year old life and he accepted them with the same resignation with which he accepted rain on a Saturday morning after a week of fine sunny days when he had been at school, or the loss of a favourite marble down a drain - they were part of the ‘sod’s law’ of life and you just got on with it.
The tail fins of the falling bombs made a screaming noise as they fell, but panic attacks were to be an invention that would not come along until much later. You didn’t have panic attacks because you didn’t know that you could have one; you just kept your head down and hoped that the bomb that you could hear screaming down did not have your name on it.
James had two younger brothers and a sister. At first their air raid shelter had been the dining table with two armchairs tipped up over the ends and the settee pushed up against one side. The theory was that should the house come down around your ears, then at least you stood a chance of not being completely buried and had some air-space where you could survive until hopefully, someone came to dig you out.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Small things in life

Poems and Rhymes for all Times | POETRY
by Natalie Mason

Small things in life; stop and think of the small things!
Sight, hearing, sense of smell, to have what each sense brings
Arms, legs, you have all of your limbs,
See, hear, smell and touch, enjoy daylight until it dims

Feel the sunshine as you walk through a park,
Watch the moon and stars in a sky so dark
Watching loved ones, see children growing up around you each day,
Enjoy colour, all surroundings, using your eyes to find your way

Blue sky, sunshine, a white fluffy cloud,
Birds singing, hearing noises, quiet and loud

Friday, 8 May 2015

Pomp & Circumstances - Chapter One

Book Title: Pomp & Circumstances
Genre: FICTION: Children/YA
Author: Sue Hampton

James woke without the usual help. No shouts from downstairs, no knock on the door and no complaints or threats. He breathed out hard, as if the night had been an effort. But in fact he’d crashed out and slept through in one long stretch. Effort didn’t cover an evening with Eleanor Langridge, one-to-one. It was his first date, and he’d needed to blank it. As far as Eleanor was concerned, it was definitely the last.

At eight twenty-nine, outside the restaurant, came the first missed kiss. Standing aside for Eleanor to walk in ahead, James noticed her hesitation. With a clientele as young as the waiters and music to fit, he’d thought the place was safe. The last tomato-stained high chair was being wiped and folded up as families made way for groups of student-age friends, and couples who seemed casual, established, easy. But from the start, his evening was full of empty pauses, pricked now and then by jagged conversation.
“I don’t normally go to pizza places,” she said, to the cutlery.
James let his eyebrows do the talking. It was a trick that amused his sister Faith, but Eleanor didn’t seem to notice. Mainly because she was preoccupied with the fork, angling it like a diamond – found in a cesspit.
“It’s dirty,” she said.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Julius Falconer Style, an in-depth analysis

A Review by Margaret, BooksPlease blog
Style is often a matter of taste. I daresay that the Falconer style, for reasons that are beyond me, is not to everyone’s taste, but at least his writing:
  • is clear and unambiguous
  • is grammatically, syntactically and orthographically correct in every detail
  • has (I like to think) a certain elegance
  • evinces an old-world charm too often lacking in today’s writing
  • springs no surprises (no sex, profanities or violence)
  • in short, provides good, wholesome, family entertainment!

Friday, 1 May 2015

The Two Lands - Chapter One

The Two Lands | Fiction: fantasy
by Paul Purday

Peter Freeman was running furiously, breathlessly. Fifty metres behind, a bunch of young thugs appeared to be closing in on him; he was not a coward but he knew the odds of six to one were not positive.
With his sense, sharpened in the adrenalin rush of the hunted, he found himself thinking clearly – in fact not unlike someone who is drowning – his mind was as crystal and his life flashed before him. Like a gazelle side-stepping a cheetah he ducked through gates; swerved down side-turnings and then thought – Whitefoot Lane! Quiet and hedge-lined with no entrance from the road he was on. A large oak planted nearby concealed a gap in a garden hedge. He was able to squeeze one-side of the oak and nearly fall through the narrow gap that he had observed there in the past. Hopefully his pursuers (who were not reviewing their lives) would pass the oak on the easy side and would not realize his short, diagonal cut across a well-manicured lawn into Whitefoot Lane. Frantically, wrecking another hedge he fell into the lane and listened to the satisfactory diminishing of his pursuers’ cries.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Serendipity - The Camel’s Story

Serendipity – A miscellany of short stories | Fiction: Short Stories
by John Butler

Reincarnation! Surely, that was for Buddhists or Sikhs, or stupid women who think they might have been Cleopatra once. Not so, apparently! One minute I had been a man, then the heart-attack and now I was being considered for reincarnation. I was hopeful. Maybe I’d be sent back to earth as someone young, rich and handsome or a pop-star or a footballer. What the heck! I’d even settle for back as me…
“Stttttttttt,” the Thatcher look-alike, hissed out of the screen. She explained the system to me.
“All creatures move up or down in their next life according to how good or bad they have been.”
“Up or down?”
“Well for example, ‘down’ for a man would be a next life as one of the larger quadrupeds, say an antelope, bison, gazelle…that kind of thing.”
“I can see that but surely man is at the very pinnacle of the animal kingdom so I don’t quite see the other alternative. What is up? What could he possibly become that is better than being a man?”
“A WOMAN! you idiot!” She glared then continued … “

Friday, 24 April 2015

Chester to Chepstow - January 2006

Chester to Chepstow | Travel
by John Davies

There was an old man from Glamorgan
Who could not play a tune on the organ
So he got on his bike
And round Wales did hike
Till he returned once again to Glamorgan

Quite unexpectedly on a dreary January day my son, Ian, said to me, “Hey Dad, what about that bike ride you’ve been talking about? When are you going to do that?” Good question, when am I going to do it?
It’s something I’d thought about for many years, but other things kept getting in the way. It lodged in my mind though, so after a few days gestation I decided to start planning for it straight away. After all, at 57 years of age with the old knees playing up, if I left it any longer I’d probably never do it.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Gift Horse - Chapter One

Book Title: Gift Horse
Genre: Fiction / Romance
Author: Polly Morten

‘I don’t believe it.’ Sarah dropped the letter on the breakfast table, and the colour slowly drained from her rosy cheeks, leaving her freckles standing out like a splatter of cold tea across her snub nose.
‘What’s up sunshine?’ Paddy put down her spoon, pushed her fair hair out of her eyes, and looked up from her bowl of cornflakes. The expression on her cousin’s face was so strangely out of character, that, for a moment, she didn’t look like herself at all.
‘My sainted mother.’ Sarah’s voice hardened, and the black Labrador at her side put a sympathetic paw on her knee. Her hand automatically went to his head to knead the comforting silky velvet of his ears.
‘What about her?’

Friday, 17 April 2015

Two Dachshunds at Troy - Chapter One

Two Dachshunds at Troy | PETS
by Jeremy Lousada

This is a dog’s tale, or rather a tale of two dogs, small dogs. Those of you who keep and love pet giraffes, baby crocodiles and cats need read no further. Small dogs they may be, and perhaps like Pooh, of small brain, but few can have had such adventurous lives. They were almost certainly the first dogs ever to cross Europe by water from the North Sea to the Black Sea, they walked on the same stones the Turkish fleet was tied on before Lepanto, they chased baboons in Africa, hunted rabbits in the High Jura and lizards in the ruins of Troy. What they thought of it all we cannot be sure, communications were generally good but not perfect. In some cases, such as Rommel’s perplexity with sea water, the thought processes were obvious, in others the nuances of thought were beyond our communication levels and I have had to use some poetic licence. But let me start at the beginning.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Why I Dumped 2011 By The Side Of The Road

Book Title: A Vaporous Collection of Moments
Genre: FICTION/Short Stories
Author: Dominic Macchiaroli

2011 and I parted ways for the last time on New Year’s Eve. It was our one–year anniversary. I actually kicked her out of the car, left her by the side of the road. That sounds like a petty, petulant, childish act and it was, but I’d finally had enough. She was a tough year to get along with.
We met last January, awash in a swirling tide of fresh hope and new beginnings. At first I was attracted to her because she was an odd number. I saw her in passing a year ago, all young and modestly attractive. 2010 had had enough of me by then, and I was soon available. 2011 had already walked out of her way past my apartment a few times, given me the sultry eye, staring. I was smitten immediately. I loved everything about her initially. She was young, beautiful, funny smart, full of hope and slashing wit. But during the course of the year, those qualities peeled away like the rotting epidermis of an overcooked onion, although her looks never did.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Erections in the Far East: Chapter Five - THAILAND

Book Title: Erections in the Far East
Genre: Travel
Author: David Rowley

…The first job was frustrating in that I’d arrive at site and invariably there were tower parts and bolts
missing, or incorrect member sizes. The towers were supplied by a large Thai steel producer and we were well down the pecking order, merely building the towers for a smaller company. There was no interface with the steel conglomerate and when any problems arose our line of communication was with a middleman, who in turn would report to a larger company above, and so on. It was a long game of cat and mouse by the time we eventually received a complete tower. If we could have directly contacted the fabricator then it might have sped up the whole process, but we were only small fry. The main supplier gave out no contact details whatsoever, they’d probably had enough grief and criticism on previous jobs to know that hiding away was best. I wouldn’t have minded if the deadline hadn’t been so tight but we were supposed to perform miracles by building towers with parts missing. Looking back we should have just roped the whole lot together and inserted bamboo wherever parts were missing, and left them with it.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The Longdon Murders - Chapter One

The Longdon Murders | Fiction: Crime Detective Mystery
by Julius Falconer

I hardly know where to begin with this story. One would naturally wish to begin at the beginning, but which beginning? Do you mean the very start of the affair, deep in the scheming villain’s heart, or the moment of my first involvement? The different starting-points would give you a different view of the case, and I am naturally anxious to present my best side. Let me, however, plunge medias in res without more ado, and we shall see where that leads us. By the way, my name is Wickfield, Stan Wickfield, of Worcestershire CID, and you may already be wondering why the egregious Mr Falconer is not talking to you as usual in my place.  It is a melancholy fact to which I have become reconciled that Falconer does not trust me to tell a story effectively. His argument is that I am an inspector of police, not a literary sophisticate, and that my stories lack style. However, I am fortunate, because he is laid up with a bad attack of housemaid’s knee or tennis elbow or some such distemper – too much vigorous exercise, but he would not be warned - and you know the adage: While the cat’s away …

Friday, 3 April 2015

Silver Eagle: Chapter Two - Earning Our Wings

Book Title: Silver Eagle - The Official Biography Of “Band Of Brothers” Veteran Clancy Lyall
Genre: Biography / Military history
Author: Ronald Ooms

First of all, I want you guys to understand that this is my recollection of the story. The events which I have seen through my eyes, from my actual position and from right within my squad. Someone else can sit a hundred yards away from where I am standing and he might probably tell you a whole different story. If one of them said he'd shot down an enemy plane with his side-arm for instance... well, he probably could have. I'm not the one who is going to deny it as I actually don't know about it. I wasn't where he was and he wasn't where I was. He could have. Why not? I can only tell you what happened in my squad. There are different sides of stories and this is the one I recall.
Going to the army was a whole new experience for me. I did not know the training was going to be that brutal. But they did that for a reason and one reason only, it was to get rid of those who couldn't take it you see. Once I found out about that I would rather die than drop out! And most of the guys thought the same way as I did! It was a weeding-out process, you know. It was some very hard training. I said it before and say it again, I was a farm boy. I was built as hard as a rock. And I could run for hours and hours. So the hard training didn't bother me so much really. But what really bothered me was doing those twenty-mile hikes with a full field pack and stuff like that on our shoulders. But it was for a good cause because it all paid off in the end. We did exercises like that every day and when we went overseas and into combat we did such things with ease. So that was pretty neat. They really got us ready to go, you know.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Wichenford Court Murder - Chapter Three

Book Title: The Winchenford Court Murder
Genre: Crime Detective Mystery
Author: Julius Falconer

After secondary school, which he had enjoyed, Gibson Buckenham attended the London School of Business and Finance for a three-year ACCA qualification. Armed with this, he had returned to his home county to start work as an accounting technician with the county council. After five years he had graduated to the post of finance officer, with responsibilities that included the payroll, budgets and financial systems of the council. Now in his forties, he could congratulate himself on being one of the council’s finance managers, with oversight of personnel, efficiency and savings, financial processes, legal requirements and so forth. He was a person of considerable standing locally, although quite unknown to the public at large. During his first years of work at Worcester, he had made the acquaintance of Catherine Warbeck, three years his junior, who, after an extensive courtship, had agreed to be his wife. She worked as a hair-stylist and beautician for ‘Hairs Something New’ in The Cross, Worcester - facials, manicure, waxing, massage, make-up, eyelash extensions: a bit of everything to make the modern woman elegant, attractive and feeling good about herself. She argued that modern beauty treatments were the logical development of the (perhaps) less sophisticated techniques practised by that all-time siren Cleopatra, who, if ancient sources are to be believed, bathed in asses’ milk and honey, used sea salt as a cleansing agent, rubbed in a cream compounded of olive oil and lime to tone up her skin and, as a final touch, dabbed on myrrh oil or frankincense oil – or both - to create the ultimate and irresistible fragrance.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Alles Fur Deutschland: "Recon"

Alles Fur Deutschland | Wartime Historical - World War 2
by Karl Brockmann

The rain continues to fall just as it has done for the last three days. Small ripples chase each other across the puddles as each drop falls from the night sky. We pull our collars up a little higher hoping against all odds to stop the water from finding a way in to soak our bodies. The only blessing is with this heavy low cloud the enemy aircraft have been forced to stay on the ground which has given us some relief from their constant attention inflicting heavy losses upon us the moment we try to move any troops or vehicles during daylight hours.
A hundred or so yards from where we lay hidden within the trees, two broken T34s light up the night skies with hungry flames licking around the destroyed tanks, both had ventured too close to our positions a few hours earlier. These lumbering beasts had disturbed us whilst we were preparing to set off into the night. Within moments of them being spotted two of our young Grenadiers Burgdorf and Schlieben were dispatched to stop the Russians before they could go any further. As they halted at the crossroads, the tank commanders checked their maps and argued about which direction to go. In the end this was academic as both tank crews had reached the end of the road.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Short Stories Volume One - Change of a Lifetime

Book Title: Short Stories Volume One
Genre: Fiction: Short Stories
Author: Neal James

They just didn’t get on. It just seemed to be that way with brothers and sisters. From early childhood there were always arguments between them, and usually when either mum or dad stepped in it would result in one of them being either forced to apologise or lose some privilege or other. It was worse now. Since the car crash which deprived them of their parents, Julia’s brother Jack had seemed to make it his aim in life to cause as many problems as possible for her. He had always been a spendthrift, and when dad left control of the family printing business to her, she threw herself into the job with a passion.
A university degree in English together with five years spent under her father’s expert tuition in the ways of the printing world had given her a sound basis for moving the Derby firm onwards, and she had succeeded remarkably well in a short time. This went down like a dose of the flu with Jack. Despite her father’s attempts to bring them both into the business, he had done nothing himself to earn any share of the company’s success. Mum and dad had made financial provision for him in their wills, but after the fatal accident which ended their lives, Jack had blown his portion in a very short time.

Friday, 20 March 2015

A Death Twice Avenged - Two

A Death Twice Avenged | Crime Detective Mystery
by Julius Falconer

The little girl sitting on the stairs in her night-clothes heard the voices raised in anger. The shouting had woken her, and she had crept out of bed, frightened and uncertain. She dared not descend the staircase but sat trembling at the top, unable to return to bed. She could see light streaming through the living-room door into the hall, and the familiar furniture – the hall-stand, a telephone-stool, a wooden settle containing the croquet set - reassured her that this was not a nightmare; and she recognised her father’s voice.
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ she heard her father saying. ‘Have some sense, man, before you say something stupid.  I’m not going in with you, and that’s final. I can’t afford it, for a start, and I think your scheme’s risky.  You can play for high stakes, if you like, but I’ve got a kid to consider, and I’m not going to put my hard-earned money where I might lose the lot.’

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Iron Dogs - Chapter Three

Book Title: Iron Dogs
Genre: Fiction: Thriller / Suspence
Author: Cliff Robertson 

…When the officers had taken Peterson back to his boat he had sworn to himself that he would stay on board until the situation had been sorted out one way or another. He did not believe the authorities in Ottawa would allow him to be prosecuted but they would most likely move him away from St Johns. He needed a change anyway and he needed to sort his drinking problem out. He was sick of being in constant trouble but it had got to be a habit that was hard to kick.
He had meant it about staying on the boat when he had first come back aboard but after four days and nights of being cooped up he was getting itchy feet. The boat was beginning to feel like a prison cell. Finally giving in to temptation he slipped off the boat on the evening of the fifth day as soon as it was dark. He convinced himself that he only wanted to stretch his legs. There was a wooded pontoon along the length of the mooring measuring about seventy metres. It gave access from the quayside to the boats. He stepped it out several times back and forth along the length of the pontoon. It was a warm evening and he was beginning to feel better already. There was no harm in doing this surely? It was unrealistic of them to expect him to stay on board, and unreasonable. If he had been living in a house with a big garden to wander around in he could have understood it but a boat? How could anybody stay on a boat twenty-four hours a day without going mad? It was their fault; they had forced him to break their stupid rules.

Friday, 13 March 2015

The Alkan Murder - Chapter Two

Book Title: The Alkan Murder
Genre: FICTION/Crime Detective Mystery
Author: Julius Falconer

Brenda and Darren first met one morning at the very start of the holidays. Brenda was idly leaning out of her bedroom window in her night-dress, admiring the fresh sun as it rose ever higher into a blue sky, when her eye was attracted by movement in the garden. Focussing, she spied a well-built man with his back to her, cutting roses, exhibiting not at all the shape or stance of old Martin. Curiosity obliged her to keep staring as the man worked his way very slowly down the short row of roses, still with his back to her, cutting the branches down to the lowest bud and discarding the detritus on the path behind him. At the end of the row, he straightened up, slipped his secateurs into the pocket of his jacket and turned to survey the path. The white of Brenda’s night-clothes caught his eye, and he looked up at her window. She ducked out of sight,

Friday, 6 March 2015

Call Me Valentine 1930 - 1932

Title: Call Me Valentine
Book Genre: Biography / History
Author: Derek Rosser

I made my first appearance on this planet on St Valentine’s Day of the year 1930. The event was apparently heard by all of the staff and patients in the hospital where I was born. The nurses, according to my mum, suggested that, in view of the date, I should be named ‘Valentine’. It was only the common sense displayed by my father that saved me from that ignominious fate. It is almost half a century since he departed this mortal coil but I shall remain grateful to him until my dying day, My mother spent the next ten years explaining to anyone that would listen that she had ‘Gone through Hell’ and did not intend to repeat the experience. Thus it was that I was doomed to be an ‘only child’. Do not let anyone tell you that an ‘only child’ is spoiled. Nothing could be further from the truth. My father, in his determination to ensure that I was NOT spoiled, showed a severe side. Not, you understand, that he was cruel. He simply wanted me to know that ‘nonsense’ would not be tolerated.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

"I felt so sorry for this book and the author, as it is currently sitting without a review..."

"I was lent this book by a friend, and was a little concerned as to whether I would enjoy it. It is not my usual type of book. I mostly read crime/murder mysteries. But I was drawn to this book because of it's location. It is set in part of South Staffordshire that I know very well. It tells the true story of the experience of a 9 year old boy who is evacuated from Birmingham during the second world war to the countryside. I was amazed by the courage of the little boy, even when facing adversity, and stuck in a terrible hospital/nursing home for a long time, he never lost his positive spirit, I can definitely say that I would not have coped so well in such miserable circumstances. This boy came from a modern home in the city of Birmingham to live in a very primitive house in the countryside in totally different surroundings.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Unexpected Death of Father Wilfred - Chapter 4

Unexpected Death of Father Wilfred | FICTION: Crime Detective Mystery
by Julius Falconer

...‘Who are your suspects, Inspector?  You can tell me!’
‘No, I can’t, Young Lady, and you know I can’t.  If it comes to that, you were there that evening: we have to consider the possibility that you could have done it.’
‘Me? Me, Inspector? What would I be doing going round murdering old priests?’
‘You might have thought he was an obstacle to the modernisation of the Church.’
‘But we all thought that! That’s no reason to murder the old man.’
‘You’re not very respectful, are you, Miss Bradford?’
‘I don’t mean any harm by it, but if the Church is to attract young people, make them feel at home, give them some sort of inspiration for living, doesn’t it have a duty to give us priests who can relate to us, speak on our wave-length, bring the Church into the twentieth century? Fr Tarbuck was old-fashioned and out of touch.  

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Erection in the Far East: Chapter 1 - BORNEO

Erection in the Far East | Travel
by David Rowley

“Who the heck was Babyface?” I pondered whilst chatting with the company driver on the way to Heathrow airport.  I told him that I was to meet Dave B in Brunei. “You know Babyface, everyone knows Babyface,” he told me whilst trying to describe him further, but I still couldn’t put a face to him.

I have flown to SE Asia some 30 or more times but that first flight remains the most vivid because of the two Scottish characters next to me. They were oil workers from Glasgow and could have made a brilliant comedy duo, only they failed to realise their own potential. Had I recorded their varied conversations on that flight then I fancy I could be a wealthy man by now. The topic that still stands out was a discussion

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

ALICE - Friday 4th May - Chapter Two

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

All day long at school, Alice had been in turmoil.
Number one: she knew that she had to return to the confectionery shop to replace her father’s present – it had become a bit of a tradition between them. Every year at birthdays and Christmas, father and daughter would give each other chocolate that they would insist on sharing. Even now, Alice enjoyed that brief moment of togetherness when she and her Dad sat and ate. Mum kept away out of appreciation, and Sophie left them alone as soon as she had tutted about her big sister being such a baby.
Number two: she knew that to go to the confectioners at the end of school meant another unavoidable encounter with the Populars. Why couldn’t they just leave her alone? She had never done anything to them; in fact, she always avoided them.  Alice had judged them on first glance as those to avoid. They were so obviously the popular girls: fashionable, confident, wearing heavy make-up that no-one dared to call tarty, pushing the boundaries of the uniform code by wearing skirts that were slightly too short yet never being reprimanded.

Friday, 13 February 2015

The Alkan Murder - Chapter 4

The Alkan Murder | Fiction: Crime Detective Mystery
by Julius Falconer

While these two elderly men were engaged in esoteric discussion in the study, another visitor slipped into the house round the back. This was Mrs Holdsworth’s nephew Alan, son of her brother William. Alan Wells was a disappointment to his aunt and a source of considerable antipathy to his uncle-by-marriage, Mr Stephen Holdsworth. He was an unprepossessing individual: scrawny, meagre, unappealing in appearance, unattractive in temperament, but no doubt a joy to his parents (except that his mother had long since abandoned his father for a more attractive life’s-companion). His greatest, and possibly his sole, talent was a technical turn of mind which attracted him to equipment and machines of all kinds, notably the mechanical and electronic contrivances which make living so much less arduous in the modern age than in previous ages. As usual, Alan was short of money, and he had come to call on his aunt in the hope of a subvention. His reasoning was that, because she had helped in the past, she might be persuaded to do so again, particularly as his present situation approached, in his estimation, the dire.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Blake Curse - Prologue

The Blake Curse | Fiction: Crime Detective Mystery
by I. C. Camilleri

He silently watched his twelve year old daughter eat the meagre dinner, the expired ham she had rescued from the supermarket’s trash can and the stale bread she had smuggled from her independent posh school’s bin. Outside, the wind howled and shook their flimsy two roomed caravan as the first snowflakes began to coat the frosty ground. The girl shivered and huddled her thin worn sweater around her.
“You can have my pullover,” he said as he gave her the only piece of warm clothing he now possessed.
“I’m all right dad.” She smiled at him and started clearing the table.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

"A great book to read when on holiday."

They're all foreigners abroad | Travel / Humorous
"If anybody is an expert on Brits antics abroad then that person is Stuart Wright. The author's life experiences are in full bloom in this offering of diverse, funny stories. His A to Z of recollections and anecdotes range from mildly amusing to hilarious. You are bound to recognize yourself in there somewhere. (I hate to say this but  I am one of those people who go online to check my emails; and yes I do miss my dog when I'm on holiday abroad.) The author also offers sound advice along the way and his post comments admirably round off each jocular entry. You will find Stuart's wit relentless as his humour spills from the pages. It is quite an achievement to write so much that is so funny. The best side-splitting entry for me came under 'Squeaky mattresses . . .' Nuff said! A great book to read when on holiday."

A review by Peter Hodgson, Author of Crime Novels

Friday, 9 January 2015

A Reluctant Recruit: Weapon Training, Marksmanship and attempted Murder

Genre: Biography / War History

A further fall of snow, this time substantial, had placed a soft, white mantle over the scene when we peered through the window at the first sound of ‘Reveille’ the following morning.
On Sundays, there was no mad scramble to get outside before Halliday turned up. The bugle call was a formality to mark the raising of the flag. We recruits, worn out by the rigours of the preceding week were permitted the luxury of a ‘Lie in’ normally followed by a day spent cleaning up the billet and our kit in preparation for ‘Bull Night’ on Monday and kit inspection on Tuesday morning.
Today, however, would be a little different. We, together with three other selected flights, would be attending compulsory Church Parade at 10:00. The service was to be conducted by the Commanding Officer, a creature of great importance and rarely seen.
The parade was to be assembled by the SWO assisted by the flight corporals.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Many a revolution has been borne on the wings of a book

Reading can Transform your Life

Paul left school with absolutely no qualifications, he was in and out of prison like a yo-yo. He was basically going no where fast, his life was pointless—like a broken pencil. The future looked bleak. The last time Paul was in prison he was given a job helping in the prison library. Surrounded by books he reckoned this might be his chance to improve his life and his reading. He began gradually; reading adventure books. At first reading was simply a means of escape to places far beyond the four walls of his miserable  prison surroundings, but before long he couldn't get enough of those books, the stories gave him so much hope and a sense of encouragement. This was really his first step to breaking out of the cycle of going in and out of prison. When he got out of prison he did several menial jobs, then he started his own business, got married, went to college, studied for a degree and later became a published author of a series of children’s books which are popular in schools. It was a long and difficult road for Paul Lloyd but the turning point came for him when he began to read in that prison library many years ago.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Revenge on a plate

In All Probability | Fiction: Short Stories
by Steve Morris

“Please don’t let ‘em go mister.”
My wife screamed “No. For God’s sake, No!” from the upstairs window.
I didn’t reply. I was literally seconds away from seeing a lot of blood.
I had waited a long time for it. It was what I had prepared for. They were the ones. I could recognise them from the police descriptions.
I just wanted them torn to red ribbons. My two central right fingers holding the Dobermans’ chain were nearly broken. The Terrier leash I had wrapped around my middle. It was getting difficult to breathe.
One of the Dobermans was almost there. He reached out at them with his beautiful front incisors.  One of the burglars was by then visibly urinating.
I had convinced myself I would do it ever since that time we got burgled.
I was still in control. I did not have to go through with it even then.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015


Captain Damnation and Other Strange Tales | Fiction / Short Stories
by Harry Riley

‘…within a few minutes he had poured out the sorry tale of his dismissal as an inept and bumbling constable in the police force…’

It was a boiling hot summer’s day as Osborn Lucky walked dejectedly away from the police station. His naturally cheerful countenance wore a frown as he considered his options. He’d just been sacked, in a loud and humiliating manner by his boss, following a series of blunders, culminating in his latest disaster which had wrecked a carefully planned, joint operation, with the Custom’s Authorities and wasted hundreds of man-hours. Osborn was a big clumsy-wild eyed Irishman and had been nicknamed ‘Born Lucky’ for as long as he could remember. At this moment though he felt far from lucky, in fact he felt just about as low as he had ever been.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Wishing Book: Prologue - PLANET MARS 1999

Wishing Book | Children
by Grahame Howard

Zezmatas was feeling happy with himself as he was transported to Planet Earth. He was well thought of by Zelmut, the Chief and Highness of the Martians on Planet Mars. He had been specially selected and trained to go on a mission to Planet Earth to locate and retrieve the little red wishing book which at the moment was known to be in the hands of the Armaz family on the Island of Tenerife in The Canary Islands.
It had come to the attention of Zelmut that this book had the power to grant wishes to whoever was holding the book. It had been given to a member of the Armaz family, word by word in a dream and his family had been given great wealth.
Zelmut had learned about this from the Leoxostone, a volcanic gemstone in his kingdom, and he wanted the book so that he could fulfil his dream and rule over the whole universe. The Leoxostone had revealed that the book was in the hands of the Armaz family in Los Christianos, in South Tenerife. It was probably at their home but he could not be sure of this.