LUCINDA’S BOOK CHOICE 2021 (3)

These are the last 4 of my top 12 books for this year.

A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE Barbara Taylor Bradford  

One of the top-ten bestselling novels ever written. “An extravagant, absorbing novel of love, courage, ambition, war, death and passion.” —The New York Times
 
Barbara Taylor Bradford’s The Emma Harte Saga begins with this record-shattering New York Times bestseller that traces Emma Harte’s legacy through multiple generations of indomitable women.
 
From the servants’ quarters of a manor house on the brooding Yorkshire moors to the helm of a profitable international business, Emma Harte’s life is a sweeping saga of unbreakable spirit and resolve. Rising from abject poverty to glittering wealth at the upper echelons of society, there is only one man the indomitable Emma cannot have—and only one she yearns for. For me, this series has stood the test of time.

THE MUNICH GIRL  Phyllis Edgerly Ring

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01AC4FHI8

Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun.
Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends.
Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante—and a tyrant’s lover—Anna finds her every belief about right and wrong challenged. With Hannes’s help, she retraces the path of two women who met as teenagers, shared a friendship that spanned the years that Eva Braun was Hitler’s mistress, yet never knew that the men they loved had opposing ambitions.
Eva’s story reveals that she never joined the Nazi party, had Jewish friends, and was credited at the Nuremberg Trials with saving 35,000 Allied lives. As Anna’s journey leads back through the treacherous years in wartime Germany, it uncovers long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war.

This is an interesting take on a woman most of us know little about. It certainly provides food for thought. It’s been on my kindle for years and I wished I had read it sooner.

THE CHAINMAKERS’ DAUGHTER  Rebecca Bryn

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B089FGZ1NT

“Some make chains. Some wear them.” Rosie Wallace survives on three slices of bread a day. Scarred by flame and metal, she makes her life as her ancestors have: making chains for the rich chain master, Matthew Joshua. There is no hope for a better future. No hope even for a green vegetable on the table. Her life will be making chains, marrying Jack, the boy she loves, and babies every year. But when an assault by the chain master’s son threatens the very fabric of her tenuous existence, Rosie finds the courage and the reason to fight for her own survival and the lives of her family and neighbours. Set in the first decade of the 20th century The Chainmakers’ Daughter is a haunting portrayal of abject poverty, ever-present death, and modern-day slavery. The Chainmakers’ Daughter is set in England, the Black Country from 1901 – 1910.

I have shown book one, but all three in this amazing family saga were a truly great read and contain shocking historical facts of which /I was totally unaware.

This last book is one that is so well written I lived in the story, I was there, lying helpless, and how terrifying that was. The dishes went unwashed, the bed unmade as nothing was going to tear me away from my kindle.

SOMEONE CLOSE TO HOME    Alex Craigie

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016X2RPR4

Talented pianist Megan Youngblood has it all – fame, fortune and Gideon.
But Gideon isn’t good enough for Megan’s ambitious, manipulative mother, whose meddling has devastating repercussions for Megan and for those close to her.
Now, trapped inside her own body, she is unable to communicate her needs or fears as she faces institutional neglect in an inadequate care home.
And she faces Annie. Sadistic Annie who has reason to hate her. Damaged Annie who shouldn’t work with vulnerable people. Just how far will Annie go?

I have found a new author in Alex Craigie and I love her work. As I read this book I could feel and experience what it must be like to lie helpless, dependent on others, not even able to speak. A chilling and emotive a book I will remember for years.

I’ve read over a hundred books this year, not all listed in my Goodreads challenge, but I have listed the top twelve that stood out for me and enriched my life. A huge thank you to all the authors, even if many are not on this list, but so many books have enriched my life.

Lucinda Spain December 2021

LUCINDA’S BEST BOOKS OF 2021 (2)

Here are the next four books that made a huge impact on me this year that took me to times and places during the lockdown.

ACTS OF CONVENIENCE   Alex Craigie

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0825BL839
 

Imagine, if you will, a near future where governments adopt policies that suit them rather than the people they were elected to represent.
Imagine a near-future where old age and chronic problems are swept away with expedient legislation.
I know; it’s an unlikely scenario.
However, it’s a scenario in which Cassie Lincoln finds herself.
It’s a scenario that compels her to take action.
It’s a scenario that leads to despair and danger.

This rang eerily true for me in the wake of the Covid restrictions and sent chills down my spine. Again, I was glued to the pages. This is a new author I’ve discovered and I will read every book she writes.

THE ASSASSIN   Thomas Baeur

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B097CFY4PG

During the Napoleonic era, Umberto Guardo, a naive son of a baker in an insignificant Italian village, falls under the spell of a radical revolutionary. When the great general himself sets foot in the village, the awe-stricken lad is given a task that could alter the course of history. The Assassin portrays an Italy that once was and a small village, isolated and unaware of the world beyond its borders until the unexpected intrusion by the most famous man in the world.

This was a book I was asked to review and it was absolutely delightful! Not only was there a smile on every page, it sums up the human condition with a sharp eye for detail. How do you rouse a group of young men to go on the offense when all they want to do is drink and chase girls? I laughed and I cried as I turned the pages.

THE ARCHITECT Lesley Hayes

 
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B095N3YQSN

September 2020, and Covid has swept the world with devastating consequences. In England, after months of lockdown followed by a cautious loosening of restrictions, friends and family are now allowed to gather if they abide by the government’s ‘rule of six’. Ric is an architect, both by profession and by nature. He has invited guests he refers to jokingly as ‘the usual suspects’ to celebrate his son Noah’s thirtieth birthday. His crazy ex-wife Allegra will be there, and his dependable business partner Jake, together with his nubile girlfriend Eden, and of course Ric’s long-suffering partner, Sally. Secrets and lies and the bitter taste of corruption are items on the menu, and they all have reasons to be suspicious and resentful. Not one of them is exactly who they seem to be. Can anything they say be trusted? Will this be the occasion when one of ‘the usual suspects’ is pushed too far?

I am a huge fan of this author, who writes books with depth and meaning that brings them above the thriller level into the literary world.

FALL OF GIANTS   Ken Follett

Ken Follett’s magnificent historical epic begins as five interrelated families move through the momentous dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage.

A thirteen-year-old Welsh boy enters a man’s world in the mining pits. . . . An American law student rejected in love finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson’s White House. . . . A housekeeper for the aristocratic Fitzherberts takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she falls in love with a German spy. . . . And two orphaned Russian brothers embark on radically different paths when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and revolution. 

Another spellbinding family saga that moves through the decades. I could not turn the pages fast enough.

The last four choices next week.

LUCINDA’S BEST BOOKS 2021

It’s that time of year when I list the books I most enjoyed in 2021. In the latter part of the year I chose to revisit some old favourites to see if they still held an magic.

Daily, I’m bombarded with emails and blogs with invites to courses and workshops and tips and writing and sales techniques, the list is endless. I’ve beta read dozens of books, reviewed many more and still the question remained in my mind, what makes a book special? Can I improve my own writing by learning from those authors who have stood the test of time? A few I revisited didn’t, but many did.

The answer? Those books which still captivated me had a story with characters I really cared about. Narratives that did not drag, dropped in a few new facts and threw one disaster after another at the heroes and heroines. These books were written from the heart and this is the lesson I learned from all of them. The more recent books in this year’s list were the ones that blew me away, for their originality, their awakening of emotions and the passion enclosed within the covers. My grateful thanks to all the authors I’ve chosen this year.

Thirteen Hours   Deon Mayor

They killed her best friend. Now they are chasing Rachel Anderson through the streets of Cape Town. The young tourist doesn’t dare trust anyone – except her father, back home in America. When he puts pressure on the politicians, they know that to protect their country’s image, they must find Rachel’s hiding place before the killers.

A fast-paced book that kept me on the edge of my seat from the first page to the last.

PURPLE HIBISCUS    Chimamanda-Ngozi-Adichie

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They’re completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home—a home that is silent and suffocating.
As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s authority. 

A fascinating glimpse into another world and culture.

THE BOY KING   Janet Wertman

His mother, Jane Seymour, died at his birth. Now his father, King Henry VIII, has died as well. Nine-year old Edward Tudor ascends to the throne of England and quickly learns that he cannot trust anyone, even himself.
While Edward can bring frustratingly little direction to the Council’s policies, he refuses to abandon his one firm conviction: that Catholicism has no place in England. When Edward falls ill, this steadfast belief threatens England’s best hope for a smooth succession: the transfer of the throne to Edward’s very Catholic half-sister, Mary Tudor, whose heart’s desire is to return the realm to the way it worshipped in her mother’s day.

I love historical novels and this blending of facts with a fictional narrative made for an excellent read.

CLIFTON CHRONICLES   Jeffrey Archer

The box set

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1529014255This Was a Man is the captivating final installment of the Clifton Chronicles, a series of seven novels that has topped the bestseller lists around the world. Cometh the Hour opens with the reading of a suicide note and book 3  opens with an IRA bomb exploding during the MV Buckingham’s maiden voyage across the Atlantic. So continues the lives of the Cliftons and the Barringtons throughout the twentieth century.,

There are seven books in this series and I devoured them one after the other. I really like
Archer’s easy read books but it is the story which makes them good. There are several main characters to relate to and you care about them. It’s not surprising his work has stood the test of time.

Four more choices next week.

OK, SO IT’S ANOTHER BOOK

As those who know me well will tell you the moment I finished a video script, a programme or a book I hate it. Yes, I push it out into the world almost hoping no one will notice.

But not this latest book. Now, it will either sink without trace or hit the heights. It will mess with the reader’s mind, puzzle them, infuriate them or thrill them. I have no idea how it will be received.

However, it is different, very different. I’m not exactly breaking new ground here, but there is a Reader Beware warning before you get to page one, so if Amazon takes you to Chapter One, please press the Go To Button and flip on from the cover.

Polly London was found on the steps of a polyclinic in London when she was only a few hours old. She was approaching thirty when she received a text telling her she had won over £150 million in the national lottery.
A whole new world opened up, but would it change her for better or for worse?
How do you react to winning a fortune? Do you keep it a secret or shout from the rooftops?
Polly did both, with alarming consequences. From that moment, her life took two separate paths, but at every step of the way, she was unaware of a shadowy figure that followed her all over the world.
Who was he and what did he want?
This is a book with a difference, with an ending you’ll never expect!

And I promise you it all becomes clear in the end.

mybook.to/Polly1

Available in eBook and print, also read for free in KU and only $/£0.99 for this week only. You can save $/£2.00 by grabbing it now.

And I’d love some feedback if you have a moment to spare.

Take care

Lucinda

GUEST POST DAMYANTI BISWAS

I have no idea where I found Damyanti’s book, only that I was visiting Delhi at the time, which is the setting for her novel “You Beneath Your Skin.”  Every moment we were not sightseeing I dived back in, observing the sights and sounds of the city which were so beautifully and honestly portrayed in her book.  I was so impressed that I emailed her to tell her how much I’d loved the story. So, I am really thrilled to welcome her as my guest this week.

Dimyanti

Damyanti Biswas lives in Singapore, and supports Delhi’s underprivileged women and children, volunteering with organisations who work for this cause. Her short stories have been published in magazines in the US, UK, and Asia, and she helps edit the Forge Literary Magazine. You can find her on her blog.

She also sends out monthly newsletters with book recommendations and writing resources, which you can grab here.

ABOUT THE NOVEL: YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN.

PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster IN

Promotion: Free on Amazon Kindle in all markets from the 7th -11 th August

Optioned for TV screens by Endemol Shine.

You Beneath Your Skin is a crime novel about the investigation of an acid attack on a woman from Delhi’s upper class, set against the backdrop of crimes against underprivileged women. They are assaulted, disfigured with acid, and murdered.

It is a  whodunit, but also a whydunit, because violent crime unravels those affected: the people, the relationships, the very fabric of society, and we get a glimpse of what lies beneath. That’s why the title, You Beneath Your Skin.

All the author proceeds from You Beneath Your Skin will support the education and empowerment of women at Project WHY and Stop Acid Attacks.

You Beneath Your Skin has been optioned for TV screens by Endemol Shine, as announced by Hollywood Deadline.

Lies. Ambition. Family. 

It’s a dark, smog-choked New  Delhi winter. Indian American single mother Anjali Morgan juggles her job as a psychiatrist with caring for her autistic teenage son. She is  in a long-standing affair with ambitious Police Commissioner Jatin Bhatt  – an irresistible attraction that could destroy both their lives.

Jatin’s home life is falling apart: his handsome and charming son is not all he appears to be, and his wife has too much on her plate to pay attention to either husband or son. But Jatin refuses to listen to anyone, not even the sister to whom he is deeply attached.

Across the city there is a crime spree: slum women found stuffed in trash bags,  faces and bodies disfigured by acid. And as events spiral out of control Anjali is horrifyingly at the centre of it all.

damyanti 2

In a sordid world of poverty, misogyny, and political corruption, Jatin must make some hard choices. But what he unearths is only the tip of the iceberg. Together with Anjali he must confront old wounds and uncover long-held secrets before it is too late.

damyanti 3

Amazon: mybook.to/YouBeneathYourSkin

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47634028-you-beneath-your-skin

AUDIENCE FOR YOU BENEATH YOUR SKIN:

Bookclubs, because of the discussion questions: Within the framework of a thriller the novel tackles various social issues: crimes against women and why they occur, the nexus between political corruption, police and big money; the abuse of the underprivileged, be it adults or children, and the scourge of acid attacks.

Parents, because of the issues tackled: How do you bring up a good human being in today’s troubled times? If you’re the parent of a special child, what challenges do you face and what sort of support can you expect?

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS IN ORDER TO RECEIVE SHARES OF YOUR POST:

To get shares, pls tag at @damyantig on Twitter and Insta.

@SimonandSchusterIN : Insta

@SimonSchusterIN : Twitter

@Simon & Schuster IN: Facebook

@projectwhydelhi and @stopacidattacks on Twitter, Instagram and FB

Damyanti also sent me the following:-

Do You Like Your Stories Read to You?

Some of my earliest memories are of my grandma reading to me—poetry she herself had written, and of course the great Indian epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana. The winters at my childhood home in central India were balmy, but the summers could get blazing hot, 45 degrees in the shade. On those summer afternoons, sitting next to a cooling fan that gave off more noise than air, my grandma would read slowly in Bengali, my mother tongue, which I could speak, but neither read nor write. The words on the page looked like insects gone for walks, and yet they contained such magic and so much life.

Stories meant grandma’s wrinkly animated face, bright eyes, and the way her loose bun of hair slid this way and that as she described the slaying of a demon or a monkey-god carrying a mountain. I came to know much later that in those years, she battled cancer, a fight she lost when I was eleven.

When I read books I sometimes experience them like four-dimensional movies—complete with colours, music, scent, taste and texture, but nothing like those childhood afternoons with my grandmother. When audiobooks first grew mainstream, I picked them up and was disappointed. Perhaps the stories were not familiar, the readers not skilled enough, or my expectations too high. I would start listening but get side-tracked with my thoughts—especially when I listened to audiobooks in bed. My bed is my reading joint—I like curling up under the sheets and getting lost in a different world.

I’ve gone back to audiobooks time and again, and each time I’ve found myself getting lost. Sometimes I want to skip the dragging bits and end up skipping important parts as well. I have to rewind and play it again a few times before I understand what’s going on. Once in a while, a good one comes along: I’ve recently enjoyed Where the Crawdads Sing—possibly because it is so atmospheric, the voice of the character so strong that it is hard to lose track.

Stories were, after all, an entirely oral form once, until they turned into theatre, into choral performances. Written stories came much later. With an increasingly busy life, I have less and less time set aside for reading: the pandemic ensures that I have an entirely new set of chores, and writing deadlines loom. I’ve decided to try more audiobooks now, find the ones that hold my interest and thus keep me ‘reading’ books even as I go for my daily walks, or cook or clean or fold clothes.

My own debut crime novel, You Beneath Your Skin, has been optioned for TV screens and might turn into an audiobook as well, one of these days. Maybe some day I’ll get to listen to Anjali and Jatin’s adventures in New Delhi, their story spread across slums and malls, bedrooms and hotels, police stations and hospitals, all enveloped by the choking smog of a Delhi winter.

When that happens, I’ll know whether the love of stories that my grandma gave me has borne fruit. She was married at thirteen to a man much older than her, suffered many miscarriages before giving birth to my father and aunt, and over the years of encouraging them to study, taught herself to read. She learned enough that she read the classics in our mother tongue and wrote her own poetry, snippets of which lie fading in my cupboards, carefully wrapped in plastic.

In the meanwhile, I’ll try and read what books I can fit into my life, and listen to audiobooks if one catches my fancy. As I grow older though, I find that very few of them stand up to the dynamic, vivacious narrations by my grandmother who, while herself suffering from cancer, took time out to keep her grand-daughter entertained on those long Indian summer afternoons.

——————————————–

I wonder how many of us remember having stories told to us when we were little? Thank you so much for being my guest today Damyanti and I look forward to seeing your book on my television screen soon!

If you would like a guest post, please leave a comment below or contact me on my FB messenger.

Take care and stay safe.

Lucinda

SO GUILTY

Yes, I’m ashamed since once I begin a project, I’m like a dog with a bone and I don’t let go.

For example, in 1984, when I wrote my first radio script, I had a broadcast time to deliver, and I made it – just. Since then, I’ve never missed one.

During this lockdown, I made my own deadline for getting the next book written and launched. I’ve made it, though it was hard. Like many of us, I just wanted to binge on Netflix and chomp chocolate.

But I set a goal of 3,000 words a day and stuck to it.

Now, in my bumbling fashion, I’m trying to get the word out.

So, why do I feel guilty?

I have not blogged for ages. I’ve promised to write about my travels to Australia and India and I have all the stuff to hand, but I’ve yet to find the energy. Any spare? Please send it over.

The new book?  It’s a sequel to A Year in the Life of Leah Brand.

A gentle, meek, housewife is driven to the edge of madness as objects in the house begin to mysteriously move around. Her best friend Andrea was there for her in the dark times, but then they lost touch.

A Year in the Life of Andrea Coe follows straight on, and although it can be read as a standalone, it makes more sense to read them in order.

“How well do you know your best friend?” What was the attraction between a quiet, insecure housewife and an outrageous, confident, outspoken woman who lived life to the full? Was she all she seemed to be?

Belinda makes an appearance, several in fact – readers told me she was a favourite character. Still sassy, still raiding the fridge and possibly into something a lot more serious.

So, does Andrea have a hidden agenda and if so, what is it?

I’ll be back soon and that’s a promise – guest posts and my travelogue. Just give me a few weeks to get my breath back while I try to tell about 7 billion people, (I’ll settle for 6 billion) that I have a new psychological thriller out.

Take care and stay safe.

 

 

 

I HAD A DREAM

I had a dream last night, not as earth shattering as Martin Luther King,

Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.

I’m not that famous and important, and frankly although I was standing on a stage too, no one was listening to me. Sad isn’t it?

Now most of us might dream of receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature and then being interviewed on a national Breakfast Show, simpering as the interviewer gushed about our brilliant book – right?

Well, my dream wasn’t like that. The stage morphed into a television studio and my interview went something like this:

tv STUDIO

INT: So, I understand Lucinda that hardly anyone bought your new book?

ME: Well a few did …

INT: Looking at this pre-order number on Amazon, well it’s a disgrace.

ME: I have at least 3 fans! I’m sure they ordered one and DH promised he would …

INT: I presume you told people about it?

ME: Oh yes, I twittered and popped it on a couple of Facebook pages, but we’re always told not to spam, ‘cos then people won’t like us. So it’s difficult …

INT: Other writers manage to do it. Look at JK Rowling and that 50 shades woman, they got thousands of sales.

ME: But they weren’t indies and they …

INT: Is that your excuse? Haven’t you studied those self-help books on how those authors sold 80,000 copies in 10 minutes?

ME: Yes, but most of those were self-help books, mostly about how to sell books!

INT: That’s an answer I’ve heard so many times before. Don’t you have a product page on Facebook?

ME; Oh yes, two, one for Amie and one for my memoirs, but I can’t seem to get them to behave like my author page and …

INT: And you sent copies to all the major newspapers with a press release?

ME: Well no I haven’t done that yet …

INT: And Princes Harry and William?

William-Harry-734730 (1)
Daily express

ME: You’ve got to be kidding! I don’t even know their postal addresses. But I did get a street team together – but it turns out they were mostly an older generation and not many were on social media.

INT: Have you told anyone what it’s about?

ME: Well that’s a bit difficult you see, as it’s a subject that’s only talked about behind closed doors, but affects thousands of young women even here in Britain. I don’t want to give the storyline away as …

INT: Well I’ve heard of some reasons in my time but that one is the weirdest.

ME: I can tell them it’s set in Africa and Amie is a fully fledged, albeit a reluctant spy. There are lots of twists and turns and page-turning surprises. And, there is some love interest there too.

INT: Lots of steamy sex scenes?

ME: Er, no, I’m not good at writing sex scenes I get the giggles.

INT: Well there’s your answer then.

ME: That’s not fair! When did Jeffrey Archer or James Patterson insert steamy stuff into their books!

INT: They are household names and you’re not.

ME: You don’t have to keep reminding me. A few years ago I was …

INT: If there is anyone out there who is deranged enough to pick up Lucinda’s, uh, latest scribbling –  what’s it called again?

ME: Amie: Cut for Life. It’s book 4 in the Amie in Africa adventure/thriller series.

 

At this point, I hold up the paperback book to the camera but it zooms away and focuses on the interviewer who smiles sweetly and says:

INT: Now our next interview is about a subject that’s only talked about behind closed doors, but affects thousands of young women even here in Britain today. For whatever reasons, family honour, ancient tribal custom, or an attempt to keep women from straying from their husbands by destroying any enjoyment in sex. I’m talking about female circumcision and my next guest is …

At this point I am forcibly removed from my chair and booted out the back door while trying to shout out, ‘but that’s exactly what Amie faces in Cut for Life!’

And then I wake up.

Amie 4 Front 100 dpi v8

Amie Cut for Life is up on pre-order on Amazon for the exorbitant price of $/£0.99 and will be released on September 30th – in case you’re inclined to go and have a look, or you could mention it to someone?  I can but dream!!   myBook.to/Amie4 

MEET GRAHAM HIGSON

OK, I have to admit I’ve not read Graham’s book – yet – but I will, the title is enough to make me smile and I know we have the same sense of humour. However, that said Graham and I have met, over Skype as he was kind enough to allow me on his Showtime uTube programme. I’ll be posting the links everywhere once it’s finalized. We had great fun doing it and chatted for ages. A really nice guy and I’m pleased he’s agreed to be a guest this week.

GrahamHigson (2)

How much was that little screw?

The phone number could have been one of those despicable cold-callers telling me I was eligible to compensation for an accident I’d not had. I usually ignore these, but I’m so glad I answered this time.

“I read your book,” the woman said, in a voice I didn’t recognize, yet with a hint of familiarity.

“I know that voice,” I said, hoping I wasn’t mistaken.

“You bloody well don’t!” she spat, breaking into a delectable Cockney accent that I’d last heard … well, when writing her dialogue for my book. “You never ‘eard me speak like vat before!”

Sharon was an expert on voices, and I can’t remember the number of occasions she had time off working in the shop so she could attend auditions, from Emmerdale to Eastenders, from Minder to Midsomer Murders.

“So what did you fink – I mean, think – to it, the book, I mean?”

“Well, you got an awful lot in there, fings I’d forgotten all about. And that Doctor Who story what I told you that time – fancy you rememb’ring that. I fink you’re a good storyteller.”

“You’re not so bad, yourself…”

And so it went on, talking as if we’d seen each other only the day before, yet it was getting on for over 15 years. Such was the immeasurable bonding we’d had, an intangible spirit that held us together when things were going bad.

How Much For a Little Screw? isn’t a misery memoir, yet it has its lows, as well as highs. I’ve been told by industry professionals that, in a suitable adaptation, it would stand as comedy screen drama, which cannot, and should never be, merely one laugh after another; variation is the key, with happiness and humour tempered with desperation, frustration, and the occasional sorrow.

LittleScrew_NL1-6X9-Hardcover-Book-Ereader-COVERVAULT

The book isn’t only a collection of anecdotes about what goes on behind a shop counter; I think, more than that, it was my celebration of the team I was a part of, the people I may have taken for granted at the time – some of who are no longer with us – and a realisation of what was good.

And it was Sharon, bit-part actress (she won’t like that) and people expert extraordinaire, who would occasionally take me to one side and tell me that these were good times, that in years to come I would look back on and wish to recapture and see them for what they truly were: life’s treasures.

www.grahamhigson.com

http://smarturl.it/littlescrew

Twitter  http://twitter.com/grahamhigson  @grahamhigson

Thank you Graham and if you need a good laugh do take a look at his book.

MEET SALLY CRONIN

I’m really thrilled to have Sally as my guest this week. She is a tireless supporter of us Indie authors with lots of exposure (of the polite kind). She’s set up an online book store where she features authors and their books so it’s the very least I can do to return the favour. Do look out for her blogs, Smorgasbord – Variety is the Spice of Life they are always fun to read. How Sally finds the time to write books with all the time she spends helping other writers I’ve not the faintest idea, and moving from Spain to Ireland – I hope I’ve got that right Sally?

But that’s quite enough from me over to Sally, and we are all about to learn something very, very important.

sally wedding day 1980

What’s in Name?

Sally Cronin has always been fascinated by names and their origins. Having met a number of people over the years who had been named after historical or famous people, she thought it would be interesting to write stories about men and women who then have to live up to the previous owners reputation. The twenty stories are about life, love, celebration and the overcoming of challenges by extraordinary people.

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In the first volume of What’s in a Name, we discover how Brian carries on the family high flying tradition with its origins in the caves of ancient man. How David fought gallantly in the First World War against the might of the enemy, and now stands with his comrades each year to pay tribute to those who did not return. Or how Grace finally achieved her dreams that filled her days in the orphanage.  All of the men and women in the stories bring a new dimension to their names that they can be proud of or be remembered for.

In a day and age where those in the spotlight name their children after football teams, capital cities or simply a colour, it will be interesting to see if the classical names of the past will survive.

Reviews and buy Link for What’s in a Name

Publisher’s website at reduced price of £1.95: http://www.moyhill.com/wian/index.html

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N6Y8BK1

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N6Y8BK1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

All books available: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

Sally’s other passion is healthy eating.

Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 150 kilos by Sally Cronin

Thirty years ago obesity was a rarity amongst children, and adults, and the related health problems were restricted to a small proportion of the population. Today, it is an epidemic and as we expand our waistbands we are forced into increasing our financial investment in health care for the resulting medical problems that can be life threatening.

There are a number of factors involved in obesity and not all of them are related to the amount of food that we consume. But it is directly related to the type of food we eat.

Our current obesity crisis has been fuelled by the ‘expert’ governmental advice that demonised fats in favour of a high carbohydrate diet thirty years ago. Whilst moderate wholegrain carbohydrate consumption has nutritional benefits for the body, the wholesale reduction in our diet of healthy fats has had a devastating impact on our health.

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Healthy fats have an essential role in the health of our major organs including our brain and heart, and play a part in maintaining a healthy cholesterol balance. Cholesterol is another naturally occurring substance in our bodies that has been treated with a shotgun approach to reduce its levels. Cholesterol is needed in many chemical reactions within the body including the production of hormones. Which makes it even more ironic, that pills are being prescribed to reduce cholesterol in men and women, at precisely the same time their hormones are already on the decline.

If you have a population with a diet that is predominantly carbohydrate, especially when it is refined white and often sugar laden such as white rice, packaged white bread, cakes, biscuits, pies and desserts, there is an immediate rise in the number of people who have diabetes. When blood sugar levels are high, any excess sugar is turned to fat, usually around the belly area

This white diet begins in the womb with the mother’s consumption of white carbohydrates and continues in sweetened formula and canned baby food. Once a child is eating solids and is given industrialised foods, chemically concocted from white flour, sugary cereals with artificial sweeteners, refined sugars and Tran’s fats, the reason for the steep rise in childhood obesity is identified.

After studying nutrition and the human body twenty years ago, I stopped eating all industrially produced foods and cooked from scratch. I ate a handful of wholegrain carbohydrates and eliminated sugar except for honey. I lost 70 kilos in 18 months and my key indicators such as Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Cholesterol all returned to normal levels.

Size Matters was based on my journal that I kept for those 18 months and also the programme that I designed to help me lose the weight. I went on to share that programme with over 2000 clients over the last 18 years, and have seen the results in others, as they lost the substantial amounts of weight.

The reality is that you can have some of the foods we all enjoy such as ice-cream, chocolate and Danish pastries. But it cannot be every day and for every meal. They have gone from being weekly treats to daily staples and that is one of the key elements in the rise in obesity levels.

The other element is that our activity levels have dropped from childhood to middle-age.  We used to walk to school, play for a couple of hours each day in the street or garden, play games at school three times a week and spend hours out in the sunshine and fresh air.  The amount of PE offered in school continues to fall and is now under two hours per week. Children are also easier to protect when they are behind a computer or in front of a television.

Families were lucky to have one car in the family, now there are usually two. Instead of walking to the shops every day for fresh produce we go in the car once or twice a week. Or we order online and bulk out the order with extras to reach the £50 needed for a free delivery. We take advantage of the buy two get one free and we abide by the use by dates throwing away food, buying more and eating it all before it goes off.

We are eating more food each day than ever before without any thought of how many calories we need daily or how much we are consuming. Little realising that one Danish pastry would require a six mile walk to work off.

Food is wonderful and I certainly do not deprive myself but something always pulls me back from too much indulgence. The memory of how I felt when I weighed 150 kilos could not climb stairs, take a bath, go on an airplane or was told that I would be dead by the age of 45 from a combination of lifestyle related diseases.

We are the ones who decide what we put in our mouths and we should not hand that responsibility over to the marketing department of a food company whose only interest is getting you to consume more food.

Size Matters and Sally Cronin’s other books are available through Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2/

Further reviews: Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Blog: Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com

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MEET REBECCA BRYN

When I read the blurb Rebecca sent me for for her guest blog I was fascinated to learn she has a historical relative who was transported to Australia. Now that’s impressive it’s no wonder she can write good books – I should know I’ve read three of them and plan to read the rest. They’re all inspired by true tales of the past or modern day scenarios and her books cover a wide range of different topics and genres. There is something for everyone here. So, who is Rebecca Bryn?

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Someone recently asked me to describe myself in five words. The first five that popped into my head were lazy, driven, artistic, silent and old. As a child, I lived very much inside my own head, telling stories to imaginary listeners as I tramped the countryside with my cocker spaniel, so spoken words were rare from me, and I’m still not a chatty person. How can I be lazy and driven? It sounds like a contradiction. I procrastinate endlessly over housework: you can admire the dust in my house but don’t write in it. My mother would be ashamed of me.

I’m happiest when I have a project, be it painting the glorious Pembrokeshire coast of home, or creating characters who take me to the ends of the earth and break my heart. The necessity to create, maybe I should have used the word creative rather than artistic, is what drives me incessantly: I’m lazy where it comes to the myriad of daily chores, but never idle.

In my writing, I haven’t shied from things that have hurt me, the screw-ups I’ve made, or the regrets that haunt me: rather, I have embraced them for they’ve made me who I am and allowed me to write stories dragged kicking and screaming from the murky depths of my imperfect being.

Old, I can do nothing about: it crept up unnoticed while I was reading life’s small print and wondering if I could send myself back for a refund. No can do, apparently.

Do my novels have themes in common? Forgiveness and unbreakable love, for to forgive is divine, and true love never ends: it merely accompanies us on the paths along which life leads us.

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My novels:

http://mybook.to/SilenceoftheStones

A mystery/psychological thriller. Alana, a young artist, is left a cottage in West Wales by an aunt she didn’t know existed. She finds herself in the midst of a conspiracy of silence over two children who went missing thirty years before. Someone is out for revenge and threatens everyone Alana holds dear.  Inspired by the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and the release from prison of Angela Canning after the evidence regarding ‘cot-death syndrome’ was found unreliable.

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http://mybook.to/TouchingtheWire

Historical thriller set in Auschwitz and England. A Jewish nurse steps down from a cattle wagon into the heart of a young doctor. He attempts to save his patients from the gas chamber. 70 years later, his granddaughter uncovers his private past and seeks to keep his promise to his Jewish lover. Inspired by my sixth-form tutor, Professor Schaeler, who lost his family in the Holocaust.

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http://getbook.at/WhereHopeDares

A dystopian thriller set in the High Atlas Mountains. A young healer is kidnapped to fulfil an ancient prophecy. Her storyteller husband sets out to bring her home, with only a head full of stories and an old friend who must choose between his friends’ lives or mankind’s immortal souls.

Inspired by the horrific way in which mankind is destroying this beautiful, fragile planet.

 

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http://mybook.to/OnDifferentShores (Book One of ‘For Their Country’s Good’)

Historical series set in England and Van Diemen’s Land. A young poacher, convicted of killing Lord Northampton’s gamekeeper, is transported for life, leaving behind the girl he loves. Penniless and pregnant, she determines to follow him at any cost.

Inspired by my great-great-great uncle who did kill said gamekeeper and was transported for life. Books Two and Three coming this summer.

www.amazon.com/dp/B071HX3K8W  http://mybook.to/OnCommonGround

And here are all the other contact links for Rebecca. (Can you remember the day when we all had one postal adress? Wasn’t life simple then?)

www.rebeccabrynandsarahstuart-novels.co.uk

www.facebook.com/rebecca.bryn.novels

www.facebook.com/TouchingtheWire

www.facebook.com/ForTheirCountrysGood

www.twitter.com/rebeccabryn1

www.independentauthornetwork.com/rebecca-bryn

On Different Shores the first book in the series will be free on 8th and 9th June, today and tomorrow so grab it while you can! I’m off to do just that.