Tuesday Night Drinks with…. Jane Cable @JaneCable @SapereBooks @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks

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Due to an unfortunate incident with an excitable cocker spaniel, a doorbell and a collision between an iMac and a wooden floor (neither of which came out of the altercation well), I did not manage to get my anticipated Friday Night Drinks post up last week so, instead, I am going out on a school night and having Tuesday Night Drinks with author and fellow RNA member…..Jane Cable.

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Jane, welcome to the blog and thank you so much for being gracious about the postponement of our night out. Now we have finally got round to it, what can I get you?

Hi Julie – thanks for inviting me. Actually I’ve brought along some champagne because Another You was published last week. It’s my first with Sapere Books so I’m really excited.

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Congratulations! I will happily drink to its success with you. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

It would definitely be my local pub, The Victory Inn at Towan Cross. It just has to be the friendliest pub in Cornwall so you’d be welcomed with open arms. I’d probably take you on a Monday though, especially the first Monday in the month, because that’s book club night.

Oh, that would have been yesterday. I would love that. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Despite writing slightly ghostly stories I don’t really believe in disturbing the dead. I’m very keen on history and archaeology though, so perhaps Michael Wood and Alice Roberts. It should turn out to be a fascinating evening.

So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

As I said when I arrived, my third novel, Another You, has just been published. It tells the story of Marie, a pub chef trying to escape from her poisonous marriage, and how the sixtieth anniversary of D-Day changes her life in ways she could never imagine. It isn’t a dual timeline but the effects of World War Two definitely have an impact on the present in some unexpected ways.

The book didn’t start that way, however; it was the beauty of Studland Bay in Dorset that inspired me. But as I delved deeper into the history of the area the wartime story was so poignant it was just screaming to be told.

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What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment was back in 2011 when The Cheesemaker’s House reached the final of the Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition. It was a big achievement which involved two television appearances and judging by notable writers such as Cathy Kelly and Jeffery Archer. My mother had persuaded me to enter and I think it was the proudest moment of her life too.

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In terms of challenge, it was undoubtedly getting a publishing deal. In general the industry is wary of ghosts when it comes to romantic fiction, although generally I find readers love them. For a long while I thought ‘you write well but…’ would end up being my epitaph!

I love a ghost in a romance story! What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, it’s just us talking after all!

I would like one of my books to become a bestseller and not just on Amazon. I’d love to see paperbacks with my name on sitting on the three-for-the-price-of-two table in Waterstones.

Everyone’s dream (well, amongst writers, at least). What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’m in the process of editing my next book for Sapere. Like Another You, Winter Skies looks back to World War Two, but this time through the eyes of an archaeologist with a real talent for picking the wrong men. Rachel is so feisty she’s a joy to write and I’m sure readers will relate to her.

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

Oh, I love to travel too, but we’ve only really had time for long trips since moving to Cornwall a couple of years ago and giving up our business. That means the bucket list is incredibly long but we’re planning a trip to the States for 2021 which will take in Tucson (where my great great uncle was killed by Apaches), a tour of Texas wineries, walking in the Colorado Rockies (I see Estes is on your bucket list too!) then on to Seattle and Puget Sound. 

To pick one favourite place is hard – we’ve had some brilliant trips; an archaeological tour of Orkney was well up there, as was Iceland to see the Northern Lights. I guess overall it would be the Maldives. We’re keen snorkelers so we’ve been a number of times, but most recently we swam with Manta Rays and it was incredible.

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Sounds like you have an amazing trip planned. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

When I was in sixth form I entered the Miss Cardiff competition for a dare and had to parade around the Top Rank dance floor in a swimsuit and high heels. Not my proudest moment.

OMG! That might be the best secret we’ve had on this feature so far. Are there any photos? Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

Only one? That’s so hard. Watership Down stands the test of time and isn’t just for children, but I suspect you’ve read it. I’d guess the same goes for Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers, so how about Tracy Rees’ The Hourglass? It was the best book I read last year.

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I have this on my TBR but it hasn’t made its way to the top yet. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Honestly… not to drink too much in the first place! But soluble paracetamol before bed is a good thing if the headache’s already starting.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

We had a pretty perfect weekend in February when my bestie and some other close friends came to stay to kick of the celebrations for her 60th birthday. We walked for miles, played the fool on various beaches and had a fabulous lunch in Padstow. I’d just improve the weather and upgrade our choice of restaurant to Paul Ainsworth’s No 6, which is one of my favourites.

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That sounds wonderful. Thank you so much for joining me, albeit belatedly, it has been a wonderful evening.

Jane’s new book, Another You, is out now and you can buy a copy here.

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Sometimes the hardest person to save is yourself…

Marie Johnson fell in love with The Smugglers pub when she first moved to Dorset with her husband, Stephen.

But when Stephen’s wandering eye caused the breakdown of their marriage, and the costs of running the pub started to mount, Marie felt her dreams crashing down around her. 

With local celebrations planned for the 60th anniversary of D-Day, Marie is hopeful things will turn around.

But she could never have predicted the ways her life will soon be changed forever.

A charming American soldier walks into Marie’s life, but it becomes clear nothing is really as it seems…

Why is Marie suddenly plagued by headaches? Is her American soldier everything he seems to be?

Or could the D-Day re-enactments be stirring up something from the past…?

Jane Cable started to take her scribbling seriously when the manuscript that would become her debut novel reached the final of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition. After that she took time out to hone her craft and with two successful independently published novels under her belt is delighted to be joining Sapere Books.

The timing is perfect because last year Jane and her husband fulfilled their dream of moving to Cornwall and, despite the obvious distractions of surf, sand and the great outdoors, she has now become a full time author.

Jane writes contemporary romance with a twist of mystery and a glance back over the shoulder at the past. More than anything she is inspired by a place, delving back into its history to find stories which resonate with her modern characters – and her readers – alike.

An enthusiastic member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Jane also writes a weekly column about publishing and books for Frost online magazine. Connect with Jane via her website, Facebook and Twitter.

This Friday, bizarre and unlikely accidents permitting, I will be joined for Friday Night Drinks by debut author, Gail Aldwin, please do join us.

The Case by Leopold Borstinski #BookReview #BlogTour (@borstinski) @damppebbles #damppebblestours #TheCase

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One Private Eye. One Case. One sackful of trouble.

When Jake agrees to take a package across America, he doesn’t know if he’ll live to tell the tale. If the CIA, the Feds and the British Secret Service don’t get him then the mob will.

How’s a cowardly private dick going to survive in these bloody times?

Delighted to be one of the blogs kicking off the tour today for The Case, a noir thriller by Leopold Borstinski. My thanks to Emma Welton at damp pebbles tours for inviting me on to the tours and to the author for my e-copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This was a really different read for me in more ways than one and, for that reason alone, I really enjoyed it. My favourite thing about taking part in blog tours is getting pushed out of my comfort zone and picking up books that I would not normally read. Expanding our reading horizons is a great thing, I learn things I would never have known before, become exposed to different styles of writing, different genres and different life experiences. All of this helps with my own writing, and also my own experience and empathy in life. A lot to gain from one little book, hey? This is the secret that avid and diverse readers know and want to share with the rest of the world!

Anyway, enough waxing lyrical about the advantages of reading widely and back to the book in hand. This is a an old school pulp fiction-style novel of a kind I would never normally pick up under my own volition. It’s protagonist is a low-level gumshoe with dubious morals, grifting his way through life doing PI work for suspicious spouses and local hoodlums, until he gets entangled with the Mob and becomes embroiled in events above his usual pay grade which offer him greater rewards and greater dangers than he usually experiences.

The way the book is structured is quite unusual, because it involves the biggest case of the MC’s career, recovering a missing case for a Mafia boss (The Case of the title, but also a play on words because it is his biggest case. Clever.) But, whilst we are following this investigation, the PI is also reminicising about previous cases that have shaped him and his business over the years, so the book jumps around between different time periods, different cities and different investigations. This is a really interesting and informative way of informing us about the character and providing a lot of interesting stories. In fact, I felt like this actually read like a collection of short stories, rather than a contiguous novel, which I quite liked but I guess may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, the fact that it jumps around, and not always in a very obvious way, requires a higher level of concentration than may otherwise be needed for this type of book and it did get confusing a couple of times, particularly when I was reading late at night.

The story itself is gritty and does not pull any punches. This book is dark, containing a lot of violent scenes, graphic descriptions and gratuitous sex. Anyone who is not a fan of any of these things in books will not enjoy this because it runs unapologeticically throughout. I had no problem with it as I’m not squeamish and it felt very true to the story and the character and the style of novel being written, but it certainly will not be for everyone. The characters in this book are not pleasant people, they do very unpleasant things to one another and feel no remorse. This is even true of the main character, although he does seem to have a moral line which he will not cross and, because we get an insight into his motivations and inner thoughts, the reader does end up having some sympathy and affection for him, despite his many failings. I think it is a cleverly written book.

This was a really interesting and diverting read for me which stretched my mind and my reading experiences out of my normal safe zone. Has it converted me to a huge fan of dark pulp fiction? Probably not, it will still not be my genre of choice. However, if you do like this style of book, I think you will get a lot from this interesting new take on it and the writing is great. Have a look and see what you think.

The Case is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the blogs coming up on the tour, please check out the poster below:

The Case Blog Tour

About the Author

Leopold Borstinski

Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Connect with Leopold:

Website: http://www.leopoldborstinski.com

Facebook: Leo Borstinski

Twitter: @borstinski

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Friday Night Drinks with…. Rosie Travers @RosieTravers @crookedcatbooks @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks

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I am delighted to welcome to Friday Night Drinks tonight, fellow RNA member and author….Rosie Travers.

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Hi Rosie. Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

A glass of white wine. A fresh, crisp Sauvignon Blanc is my favourite tipple.

If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Anywhere beside water.  I grew up on the coast and I tend to get a bit panicky if I’m away from the water for too long. When I was writing my second novel, Your Secret’s Safe With Me, I was lucky enough to have a very quaint old waterside pub within walking distance of my house – I’ll admit the location did provide a lot of inspiration for the story.  

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Sounds lovely. I also find water, particularly the sea, inspirational. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

I think it would have to be William Shakespeare – although I imagine he might be a bit full of himself – would we get a word in edgeways? And JK Rowling – for writing tips!

That would be an interesting evening. I’d love it if Shakespeare actually was like David Mitchell in Upstart Crow! So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I am currently working on a new romantic comedy. I’m a complete pantser, so at the moment it’s very organic and fluid as the characters develop.  Originally a search for a missing family heirloom was at the crux of the story, but now another subplot has developed which might take precedence. I write escapism – the world is grim enough without me adding to it – although I do like my stories  to have deeper undercurrents and unpredictable twists and turns. Ultimately, I want my readers to feel uplifted and entertained by my books, even if they have to shed a tear or hold their breath along the way.

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

Obviously the publication of my first novel, The Theatre of Dreams, was my big ‘moment’. That book was so close to my heart – I actually turned down a publishing contract for the first book I’d written because I didn’t want to have to dilute the grittier aspects of The Theatre of Dreams to fit into a required series. I took a huge leap of faith and put the first book to one side to concentrate on finding a publisher who would let me keep the Theatre of Dreams intact – which I did with Crooked Cat. Having said that, it has been a challenge promoting books which don’t fit into a specific genre! Your Secret’s Safe With Me is more of a traditional romantic suspense, but it still has its quirkier moments. Crooked Cat are a small indie publishing house and marketing has been very much to up to me. I think it would be fair to say writing is what I do best, and social media/self-promotion what I do worse! 

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That was a brave thing to do, to stay true to your book. What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I would love one of my books to suddenly take off and subsequently be picked up by one of the big publishing houses. Obviously there would be a film, or a TV series – although personally I think the Theatre of Dreams would make a great stage musical – it’s got all the aspects, OTT characters, tragedy, drama, dance, comedy and of course, music! I live in hope.

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

My current WIP, despite being in a somewhat chaotic state is coming along nicely. It’s a dual time-line which is something I’ve never done before but I wanted to set myself a challenge. It’s had to take a bit of a backseat while I move house but once I’ve unpacked all my boxes I’m looking forward to picking it up again – my characters keep nagging me to get back to the keyboard!

Sounds exciting! I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I am so lucky to have had opportunities to travel and also to live abroad. I spent three years in California and three living in the Netherlands due to my husband’s job.  The Netherlands was great – I gave up my car and rode my bike everywhere – I’ve never been so fit. Definitely one of my favourite places! I don’t have a bucket list as such, I’m not a great one for setting goals and I have spent an awful lot of time in airport lounges in recent years. Now I’d actually like to see more of the UK. I’ve been all the way to  the Middle East, China, Australia and New Zealand but I’m ashamed to say as an English southerner, I’ve rarely ventured north of Watford. 

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Well, staycations are very in these days! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

Actually a lot of people – friends and former work colleagues – were very surprised when they’d heard I’d written a book! Seriously, I’m quite a creative person and very much into re-cycling and up-cycling. I’ve turned my hand to a few furniture projects and would like to do more, I just need a bigger workspace, or a barn.

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

I always recommend Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon because it is my favourite book of all time, but a close second is Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald. Everyone raves about The Great Gatsby but I think Tender is the Night has much more depth to it and it often gets overlooked. 

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So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

I always hope a large glass of water before I go to bed will do the trick, but failing that fresh air is the answer. A long walk by the sea usually blows the cobwebs away.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

A perfect weekend would be catching up with family – my husband and two daughters.  Family time is precious as we have spent time living overseas so having chances to be together is actually quite rare. I am super excited my oldest daughter is moving back to the UK from Hungary this summer and for the first time in nearly 10 years we will all be living in the same country. I’d probably be in my garden, as gardening is my second love after writing – and I find it very therapeutic! Inspiration for writers block can often occur while tugging up the root of big weed!

Well, you are welcome to come round and dig around in my garden any time, I can provide plenty of big weeds to inspire you as I hate gardening! Rosie, thank you for joining me on the blog tonight, it has been a real pleasure.

Rosie’s new novel, Your Secret’s Safe With Me is out now, and you can buy a copy here.

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Romantic Novelist Pearl makes a surprise announcement and sends daughter Becca’s organised life reeling into chaos. The pair quit their London home and move to a tight-knit waterside community on the south coast. As Pearl embraces her new life amongst local sailing fraternity, Becca receives a grim warning that if she wants to keep her family safe, she should keep them away. But why should Becca trust the man who has betrayed her before, the man who broke her heart, the man who thinks he knows all her secrets?

Rosie Travers grew up in Southampton and began scribbling stories at a very early age. After juggling a career in local government with raising her family, she moved to Southern California with her husband in 2009. She began a blog about her life as an ex-pat wife which re-kindled a teenage desire to become a writer. Her first novel The Theatre of Dreams was published by Crooked Cat Books in August 2018 and her second Your Secret’s Safe With Me in February 2019.   Rosie takes inspiration from her local surroundings for her writing and both books are set in fictional locations along the south coast. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association and endeavours to entertain her readers with quirky stories populated by colourful characters, intrigue, romance and good dose of humour. You can connect with Rosie via her website, on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Next week I will be joined on the blog for Friday Night Drinks by author, Jane Cable.

 

The Gingerbread Houses by Benedict J Jones #BookReview (@benedictjjones) @crimewavepress #thriller #crime #london #charliebars #TheGingerbreadHouses

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A dark secret lies at the heart of the British government; a secret so appalling that they will kill to protect it.

Charlie Bars is back in London and has taken on a missing persons case. Easy money –or so he thinks. The man he is looking for is inextricably linked to the evil perpetrated in the Gingerbread Houses and as Charlie’s search progresses, he finds himself drawn into the seedy underbelly of the capital; a world of abuse, exploitation and deviancy that threatens to destroy his soul.

Others are looking for the missing man too and hunter soon becomes hunted as Charlie finds himself the target of an insane torturer haunted by the ghosts of his military past.

As he descends into the darkest depths of human depravity, Charlie desperately tries to stay out of prison, on the right side of his morality and, most importantly, alive as he seeks to uncover the buried secrets of the Gingerbread Houses.

Something a bit grittier on the blog today with a review of The Gingerbread Houses, the latest Charlie Bars thriller from Benedict J JonesMy thanks go to Henry Roi at Crime Wave Press for inviting me to review the book and for my digital copy, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is the third Charlie Bars thriller, but the first I have read, and my first book by this author. Having had a nosey through his back catalogue, I can see a diverse array of titles and genres and quite a few that I would be interested in reading once I have my teetering TBR cut down to a more manageable level. The fact that I had not read the previous two books featuring the main character did not detract from my enjoyment or understanding of this novel at all, it works perfectly well as a standalone book, although I would very much like to go back and read the previous books to gain some more insight into Charlie’s back story and how his relationship with Ellie came about.

This is very much a dark noir novel with an extremely disturbing premise at the heart of the story, and one that will not be unfamiliar to those of us who have been paying attention to the news over the last decade. The fact that the story covered in this book is not too far distant from real life events made it even more upsetting as far as I was concerned and, if you are not a fan of your crime on the darker side, this book will not be for you. That being said, my tastes err on the safer side of twisted and there are lines that I am not comfortable with books crossing and this novel stayed on the acceptable side of those, so it is not damningly dark as far as I am concerned. Given the subject matter, I was glad that the author did not go into very graphic detail on some of the crimes committed, and some things were suggested rather than explicitly described. I think the author walked the line between dark and too dark perfectly and I was comfortable reading to the end, although not too comfortable, it was definitely disturbing.

The book revolves around private eye, Charlie Constantinou, a man who has had been on the wrong side of the law more than once, now earning a living as a gumshoe, but one with a conscience of sorts. It may not be honour as we would recognise it, but there are crimes that are even too low for him to condone and he finds himself mixed up in a scandal that goes right to the top of power in the country and is almost too much for him to handle. I found him to be a compelling and fascinating character, a tough guy with a softer side and a particular sense of right and wrong, that made him likeable despite his shady side. It is quite hard to write a convincing anti-hero, but the author here manages it magnificently and the reader finds themselves firmly of the side of a man with dubious  morals, mainly because he is dealing with people even more deplorable than he is.

And there are certainly plenty of those in the book, ranging from the perverted and corrupt to the mentally unstable. This is a book that mines a very seedy seam of the London underworld for its inspiration and reflects that dark crucible perfectly. There is a lot of graphic violence and unpleasantness in this book, it is not a happy crime caper like the book featured in my last review, but if you like your thrillers on the noir side, you will really enjoy this. The plot twists and turns with cross and double cross, red herrings, unexpected twists and shock events from chapter to chapter and will keep the reader hooked from page to page. I was glued to it and read it in just under 24 hours, definitely a book with plenty of plot propulsion.

Aside from the crime aspect, I really enjoyed the relationships between Charlie and Mazza, which felt very authentic and well-written, and between Charlie and Ellie, which showed a different side to him as a character. The best bit for me though was the reflection in the writing of the dark side of London. One that, as someone who only visits as a tourist, I don’t really get to see. It felt grimy and sordid and completely convincing. One of the main reasons I read is to immerse myself in places and experiences that I will never have in my day to day life, and this book really delivered on that score. I highly recommend it for lovers of dark noir crime fiction.

The Gingerbread Houses is out now in ebook format and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Benedict J Jones is an author of crime, horror and western fiction from south east London. His work has been published in various anthologies and magazines. Since 2008, he has published almost thirty short stories.

Connect with Benedict:

Website: https://benedictjjones.webs.com

Twitter: @benedictjjones

Last Victim of the Monsoon Express by Vaseem Khan #BookReview #novella (@VaseemKhanUK) @MulhollandUK #BabyGaneshAgency #LastVictimOfTheMonsoonExpress

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In a symbolic journey of reconciliation, the Monsoon Express is travelling between hostile neighbours India and Pakistan. The passenger list includes politicians, celebrities, former Mumbai policeman Inspector Chopra and his baby elephant ward Ganesha.

Then a senior diplomat is found murdered in his cabin. Accusations fly, tensions rise, and an international incident seems certain. But is the murder political – or personal?

Tasked to investigate, Chopra has just hours before the train reaches its destination and the news goes public. He must unmask the killer quickly if he’s to stop the last journey of the Monsoon Express going entirely off the rails…

If, like me, you are a huge fan of Vaseem Khan’s Baby Ganesh Agency detective series and you are waiting impatiently for the next book in the series to be released, you can damp your impatience in the meantime by reading this little novella featuring Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick, Ganesha, as they solve a murder mystery on the Monsoon Express.

That’s right, in this book Chopra becomes India’s answer to Hercule Poirot as he is embroiled in a mystery on a diplomatic train journey between India and Pakistan and the peace and prosperity of both countries may rest on the outcome of his investigation, so no pressure there!

This book contains all the usual charm and fun you will have come to expect from the Inspector Chopra books and Ganesha has a starring role in the investigation which makes me happy as the little elephant is my favourite character in the series. It only took me a couple of hours to read, so perfect for a rainy afternoon, and was just enough to tide me over while I wait for the next full-length book. I missed Poppy and Rangwalla, as there was not really enough room in the novella format for them to have a role, but I know they will feature in the next book and I enjoyed this for the fun story it was.

With a nod to ‘Murder on the Orient Express,’ fans of Agatha Christie will get a kick of reading this story and spotting the similarities whilst enjoying the Indian twist that adds a delightful colour and flavour to the story. The story is very quick, so not too much room for a lot of character development or lengthy plot twists but the author makes the most of the small word count and includes enough to keep the reader interested throughout. There is nothing not to like about this book, I was thoroughly entertained and would highly recommend. If you haven’t read any of the Inspector Chopra mysteries before, this book will give you a delicious taste, and I’m sure you will find it very more-ish.

Last Victim of the Monsoon Express is out now as an ebook and you can buy a copy here. The next full length novel in the Baby Ganesh Agency series, A Bad Day at the Vulture Club, is out on 8 August and you can pre-order it here.

About the Author

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Vaseem Khan first saw an elephant lumbering down the middle of the road in 1997 when he arrived in India to work as a management consultant. It was the most unusual thing he had ever encountered and served as the inspiration behind his series of crime novels.

He returned to the UK in 2006 and now works at University College London for the Department of Security and Crime Science where he is astonished on a daily basis by the way modern science is being employed to tackle crime. Elephants are third on his list of passions, first and second being great literature and cricket, not always in that order.

Connect with Vaseem:

Website: https://vaseemkhan.com

Facebook: Vaseem Khan

Twitter: @VaseemKhanUK

The Hotel Where We Met by Belinda Jones #BookReview (@belindatravels) @NottingHillPR @delcoronado #TheHotelWhereWeMet #california #travel

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There’s a very particular reason why Chloe Sinclair has not met her Mr Right – he doesn’t exist. And he doesn’t exist because he was never born. And the reason he was never born is because the right couples in history did not get together. It now falls to Chloe to travel back in time to matchmake like her love-life depended on it…

Each of Chloe’s trips revolves around the iconic Hotel Del Coronado – part historic landmark, part Californian fairytale. Here she experiences the Victorian era when the doors first opened, the Roaring Twenties, the Fifties during the filming of Some Like It Hot and the Eighties karaoke party of your dreams!

A very special friendship has guided her to this point but the adventures go way beyond Chloe’s expectations and she soon learns that, when it comes to love, it’s all in the timing…

About flipping time! It has been waaaaaaay too long since I had a new Belinda Jones book to read, so I was absolutely delighted when I found out that Belinda had a new book coming out and that she was looking for bloggers to give it some early reviews. I have been a huge fan since I read her first book (Divas Las Vegasstill one of my favourites) so I jumped at the chance to get my hands on an early copy of her latest book, The Hotel Where We Met. Huge thanks to Belinda for sending my an e-copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

For anyone who has never read a book by Belinda before (and why not, I ask?), she writes fabulous, fun romance stories set in exotic locations, and this is no exception. The story revolves around the famous Hotel Del Coronado set on Coranado Island, just off the coast of California near San Diego. Many of you will recognise it as the setting for the movie Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis, and this fact does not escape comment in the book, but you’ll have to read it to find out the significance. Disney lovers will also recognise the hotel as the inspiration for the Grand Floridian Resort at Walt Disney World.

The main reason that I love Belinda’s books so much is that she is a genius at bringing the settings of her book to life in the mind of her reader. She whisks you away from whatever mundane location you happen to be reading the book in and straight into the heart of the book, so they are perfect for armchair travellers such as myself. There is not a book of hers that I have read without wanting to jump on a plane and head off to its setting immediately. The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo has been on my bucket list for years after it featured in The California Club (my one chance to go was thwarted by heavy rain washing the road into the sea just before our Highway 1 trip was due to happen. One day I’ll try again!) and Quebec City jumped straight to the top of my dream destination list after I read Winter WonderlandNow I am busy Googling holiday packages to California so I can visit the Del. (I think I’ve got a good chance on this one as The Irishman is desperate to do a California trip.) This book sells the destination and lifestyle better than any glossy travel brochure or expensive commercial could do. I could picture the hotel clearly in my minds eye and was right there with Chloe. Now I want to be right there for real.

Aside from the exotic setting, this book has a great romance story and fantastic characters that you will absolutely fall head over heels for, but what sets this book apart is the time travel twist. I don’t want to say much and include any spoilers in my review, what I will say is that Belinda is a genius and has really pulled the plot of all plots out of the bag for this book. I absolutely loved it, and loved how it enabled her to twist lots of fun time periods and historical detail together. It is like she has taken everything I ever loved about my all-time favourite romantic fiction books and crammed them all in to this story. I feel like she wrote it just to make me happy, it warmed every cockle of my heart. I raced through it, but didn’t want it to end. It was summer reading perfection, especially for a week that has been damp and dreary here in Yorkshire. Escapism, in every sense of the word, at its best.

Belinda Jones fans will not be disappointed in this book, and those of you who haven’t read any of her books before will get a great introduction to what makes her books so special. As for me, I have a question and a suggestion for Belinda. Firstly, when is the paperback coming out, because I need it for my ‘Belinda Jones’ shelf? Secondly, please don’t leave it so long before you write another book, I have really missed you.

The Hotel Where We Met is out now in ebook format and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Belinda Jones is the bestselling author of 12 travelicious novels set in dream locations from Tahiti to Capri. Her latest novel – THE HOTEL WHERE WE MET – takes the travel theme a step further with time travel to the Victorian era, Roaring Twenties, Fifties and Eighties for the best music party – all set on a dreamy Californian beach!

If you like Red Velvet Cake, Whoopie Pie or pink cupcakes, join four generations of women on a cake-themed odyssey around New England with THE TRAVELLING TEA SHOP

If you’re a Dog-lover or USA-lover you’ll enjoy Belinda’s real life memoir BODIE ON THE ROAD – The Dogged Pursuit of Happiness. (Think EAT PRAY LOVE meet MARLEY & ME!) There’s also a matching website with lots of fun dog travel tips & guides: http://www.bodieontheroad.com

Belinda’s first real-life road trip memoir – ON THE ROAD TO MR RIGHT: The Search For The American Dream Guy – made the Sunday Times Top 10 alongside her hero Bill Bryson.

The Romantic Novelists’ Association nominated her one snowy story – WINTER WONDERLAND – for Best Romantic Comedy of the Year. The action takes place during the magical Quebec Winter Carnival and features husky puppies (hence the pic!)

For everyone who wishes life could be one long holiday but has a short attention span, Belinda has teamed up with some of the hottest writers in women’s fiction to take you Around the World in 80+ Stories with the bumper SUNLOUNGER & SUNLOUNGER 2 short story anthologies! Visit http://www.sunloungerstories.com to discover more about the talent involved, including Milly Johnson, Alexandra Potter, Ruth Saberton, Talli Roland and Victoria Fox.

Belinda’s dream home is the paradise island of Coronado (the setting for THE HOTEL WHERE WE MET) but she and Bodie are currently spending the summer in Devon, UK doing intensive Cream Tea research.

Connect with Belinda:

Website: https://www.bodieontheroad.com

Facebook: Belinda Jones Travel Club

Twitter: @belindatravels

Instagram: @bodieontheroad

Pinterest: @belindatravels

Friday Night Drinks with…. Liam Livings @LiamLivings @RNATweets #FridayNightDrinks

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So, it’s been a while since I’ve been well enough to indulge in Friday Night Drinks, but tonight I am back with a bang with one of my most fabulous virtual nights out so far. Tonight I’m joined by someone I’ve been lucky enough to meet IRL, and who has produced probably the best set of images I’ve ever had for one of these guests spots, author and fellow RNA member, the lovely…Liam Livings.

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Liam, thank you so much for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

A strawberry daiquiri please. In a large glass, with a glace cherry and a straw. 

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Oooh, one of my favourites! But we should really be drinking these in Sloppy Joe’s down in Key West, preferably when Hemingway was still frequenting the joint. But hey, this is your night so,  if we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Heaven. A gay club over 4 floors, right next to Charing Cross station. They have cheesy pop music and live acts on Saturday night – GAY is the name of the night since the Astoria was demolished. Himself, my boyfriend, used to be a member of the VIP lounge there. Oh, if those walls could talk, the celebrities we used to see! 

I’m in! If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Goldie Hawn and Chris Hemsworth. Goldie Hawn because I’ve loved her so much since forever. Seeing her in interviews I reckon she’d be a great laugh. And Chris Hemsworth, because he’s fun, but also because Thor. 

Great choices, but we might have to arm wrestle for Chris! So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

I’m taking a break from self-editing a big backlog of my WIPs. I had 8 of them and have been working my way through and submitting them since late 2018. I’ve got one left to do and I’m just giving myself a week or so off for a change. I’m just about to read a RNA New Writers’ Scheme manuscript and write an appraisal. I’ve been a reader for the NWS since 2014 and think it’s a wonderful scheme. It’s given me lots of suggestions for common pitfalls when teaching writing workshops with my partner in sarcasm and writing crime, Virginia Heath – together we’re Real People Write Books. 

I’ve not submitted my NWS manuscript this year yet so I know it’s not mine you are reading! I agree, for new writers it is the most fantastic scheme, and I am so privileged to be a part of it. We all appreciate the helpful feedback from the readers so much, so thank you!

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment was being shortlisted for the romantic comedy novel award in the 2019 RONAs. I couldn’t believe that a story about a cross-dressing gay man looking for love in Hampshire in the 1990s would be published, never mind end up shortlisted. Kev is a secondary character in my Best Friends Perfect series – the first of my published books – and he screamed for his own story. So I wrote him a trilogy. 

My biggest challenge has been fitting in writing around the rest of my life. 

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I’d like one of my books to be for sale at airports. I’d love for one of my quirky British gay romance stories to be something holiday makers pick up to read on a sunbed by a pool. I think society has a while to go until that’s the case, but it’s definitely a big dream of mine. 

That would be a wonderful thing to see. Let’s hope we are moving in the right direction for that to happen soon. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I have at least three fiction novels I’m planning to write in 2019. The one that’s most exciting me at the moment is a historical gay romance. Set in the 1950s, with all the societal challenges of being gay then. It’s about a surgeon and a farm hand who at first hate one another as they’re complete opposites, but soon find there’s a mutual attraction. But they need to overcome societal, professional, emotional and legal challenges to be together. I’ve never written historical before, so this is going to be a special sort of challenge. I’m really looking forward to writing it from April on wards. 

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I love the Canary Islands – 4 hours from the UK and it’s so warm. I recently went to Florida for the first time and it won’t be the last. The climate, the food, the people, the laid-back nature of Key West and party atmosphere of Miami South Beach. I loved all of it. I’d like to visit India at some point, plus China and Japan. I’ve read that the combination of language and culture makes China and Japan about as different from the West as you can get without leaving the planet. 

I LOVE Key West, I’ll be back there in 6 weeks. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

I was born with bilateral (both) club feet. 

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

I can’t pick one, so here’s a list: Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Montana Sky by Nora Roberts. Romancing The Wrong Twin by Clare London. The World is Full of Married Men by Jackie Collins. Octavia by Jilly Cooper. 

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Great choices, Rachel’s Holiday is one of my all time favourite books too. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Alternate soft drinks with alcoholic ones. Have small drinks – singles and little glasses of wine. Stop drinking at 3 alcoholic beverages. Eat food while drinking. I had a rose wine based incident in Hampshire last summer and was completely useless for the whole of the next day. 

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

A walk in the forest. A long bath with a book. Making food – particularly baking a cake. 

Liam, thank you so much for joining me this evening, I’ve had a great time and look forward to seeing you in person again soon at the RNA Conference.

Liam’s book, Adventures in Dating…In Heels was shortlisted for the romantic comedy novel RONA 2019 award and you can buy a copy here.

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Kev Harrison is a teenager, looking for a boyfriend and friends who will accept his cross-dressing. Only thing is, he lives in a small village near Salisbury, England, and it’s the nineties.

Tony Collins is Kev’s best friend, a Goth with a passion for fashion and anything to do with the Human League. He stands as the voice of reason while Kev muddles his way through coming out, career choices, and dating…in heels.

Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He has a sweet tooth for food and entertainment: loving to escape from real life with a romantic book; enjoying a good cry at a sad, funny and camp film; and listening to musical cheesy pop from the eighties to now. He tirelessly watches an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’.

Published since 2013 by a number of British and American presses, his gay romance and gay fiction focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle. He’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. With a masters in creative writing from Kingston University, he teaches writing workshops with his partner in sarcasm and humour, Virginia Heath as https://www.realpeoplewritebooks.com/ and has also ghostwritten a client’s 5 Star reviewed autobiography. 

You can find out more about Liam via his website, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Next week I will be joined for Friday Night Drinks by author Rosie Travers, so you won’t want to miss that.