#BlogTour – Jim Webster – Tallis Steelyard – Two more Books!

Time for another visitor!

It’s Jim Webster again, with another of his fantastical tales!

Let’s start with a photo…

Followed by a tale…

Getting Rich Moderately Rapidly
Some people seem to drift into jobs that don’t really suit them. If they’re 
lucky then their lives get shaken up and they finally find themselves where 
they ought to be. Still it can be a traumatic experience and you end up 
hoping that it was worth the effort.
I knew one couple who went through this process. Both were in jobs which 
they didn’t particularly like but weren’t quite sure how they could escape 
from them. One was Roa. She was a young woman who somehow ended up a downstairs maid. Even though it was a large establishments she found herself doing a fair bit of kitchen work as well. Many women quite take to the life and even look back on it with a degree of affection, once matrimony was whisked them away from it. Others frankly loath it and get out as soon as possible. Roa was trapped because whilst she didn’t like the job, her 
dislike wasn’t intense enough to drive her to do something about it.
She was, after a fashion, courted by Erlman. His job was a little 
specialist. He was employed by a legal practice who would hire him out to 
householders worried about the honesty of their servants. Erlman would be
sent to the household and would try and entice the servants into corrupt 
practices. If he succeeded the servant would be sacked.
The problems became apparent when Erlman started to ‘test’ Roa as his 
contract of employment demanded. Firstly he was smitten with her. Secondly, when he suggested some minor peculation, Roa scolded him, not for his dishonesty but for his lack of imagination. Erlman had suggested she add a couple of bottles of wine to the order when the household wanted to top up their wine cellar. His cunning plan would be that they wouldn’t be missed when she spirited them away and they resold them.
Roa pointed out that it would make far more sense to put in an extra grocery order. Rather than just have it delivered, tell the supplier it was for the family’s rural estate and so Erlman and her could hire a wagon, collect the extra and then sell that
As I said, Erlman was probably more than a little in love with Roa at this 
point. So not only was he swayed by her genius, he also saw it as a way for 
him to get out of a job he disliked. Roa put in the order; Erlman collected 
it and then started a grocer’s business, selling produce from the back of a 
wagon. Obviously they couldn’t put too many extra orders on thehousehold
budget because somebody would notice. Roa came up with the idea of putting in extra orders for other households as well. It was all quite informal, Erlman would present his list and whilst that was being fulfilled, then he would present a second, much shorter list. This he asked them to put on another account. He merely commented that as he was virtually passing the door of one establishment on his way to the other, everybody seemed to think it made sense for him to collect the extra. By sounding somewhat ‘put-upon’ he managed to convince everybody.
The system worked remarkably well, they even bought their own wagon, pulled by two horses. Yet eventually the housekeeper in one of the establishments noticed that they seemed to be buying an awfully large amount of carbolic soap (one of Erlman’s best sellers,) and yet could never find any when they wanted it.
Everything rushed headlong to an embarrassing climax. Roa was summoned by the housekeeper to the Master’s Study to discuss matters with an officer from the watch. She managed to slip away and ran to where Erlman should be to tell him that the game was up and they’d better flee. Alas when she found him, he was already under arrest. She was arrested and the pair of them were incarcerated awaiting trial.
Their future looked grave. In such cases the city sells the indenture of the 
guilty party, and they labour in the Houses of Licentiousness, sorting 
through the eggs of shore clams in the great tanks, sorting male and female 
for immediate consumption or further growth. One is always cold and wet, and because the cost of food is deducted from your wages, one is probably hungry as well.
Roa and Erlman were comparatively lucky. Lord Cartin was taking his 
condottieri east along the Paraeba to assist the cities of the upper river 
against the Scar nomads. These savages were raiding south of the river and 
Lord Cartin was contracted to put together an expeditionary force with some urgency. Obviously he had his own men-at-arms and crossbowmen, but he was desperately short of supply wagons. In Partann, one is never short of villages or towns from which to buy supplies. On the Red Steppe and in the foothills of the Madrigals there is no point in attempting to live off the land. Everything you need, you have to carry with you.
So Lord Cartin bought Roa and Erlman’s indenture, on the understanding that their horses and wagon were included. They found themselves indentured as sutlers. They bought military and non-military supplies and attempted to make a profit selling them to the troops.
It was not an easy role to take on. Making excess profits by overcharging 
your customers was dangerous. Lord Cartin disapproved, but even more to the point, so did the customers, and they were heavily armed and often 
belligerent. On the other hand Roa and Erlman soon realised that it was 
relatively easy to purchase their stock at very competitive prices. They 
merely had to ask Lord Cartin to let them have an armed escort when they 
went to restock, and the presence of a dozen truculent crossbowmen soon 
encouraged even the most avaricious wholesaler to reason.
Still, it wasn’t what one would call an easy life. More than once, Scar 
raiders attempted to hit a small relief column they were part of. Erlman 
soon acquired a sword and a crossbow whilst Roa learned to drive a horse 
team with one hand, whilst fending off questing light horsemen with a whip held in the other. They finally paid off their indenture by presenting Lord Cartin with the ponies of three Scar braves who’d attempted to run off the wagon. Two had fallen to Erlman’s crossbow; the third had died under the wheels of the wagon, having fallen off his pony when entangled in the whip.
Lord Cartin asked them to serve out the campaign for wages. This they did, 
before settling in Oiphallarian to set up a grocer’s business.
Strangely enough I know met both of them after the siege of Oiphallarian. 
They’d both survived, Roa had brained a Scar warrior with a dolly peg, and 
Erlman had been appointed captain of one of the many militia companies which were formed to help man the walls. They were in Port Naain, buying a boat load of food to take to the stricken city. Just for old time’s sake, they 
managed to split the cost between the accounts of a dozen wealthy households who might not notice for months.

So welcome back to Port Naain. This blog tour is to celebrate the genius of 
Tallis Steelyard, and to promote two novella length collections of his 
tales.

So meet Tallis Steelyard, the jobbing poet from the city of Port Naain. This 
great city is situated on the fringes of the Land of the Three Seas. Tallis 
makes his living as a poet, living with his wife, Shena, on a barge tied to 
a wharf in the Paraeba estuary. Tallis scrapes a meagre living giving poetry 
readings, acting as a master of ceremonies, and helping his patrons run 
their soirees.
These are his stories, the anecdotes of somebody who knows Port Naain and 
its denizens like nobody else. With Tallis as a guide you’ll meet petty 
criminals and criminals so wealthy they’ve become respectable. You’ll meet 
musicians, dark mages, condottieri and street children. All human life is 
here, and perhaps even a little more.

Firstly;-
Tallis Steelyard, Deep waters, and other stories.

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Discover 
the damage done by the Bucolic poets, wonder at the commode of Falan 
Birling, and read the tales better not told. We have squid wrestling, lady 
writers, and occasions when it probably wasn’t Tallis’s fault. He even asks 
the great question, who are the innocent anyway?

And then there is;-
Tallis Steelyard. Playing the game, and other stories.

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Marvel at 
the delicate sensitivities of an assassin, wonder at the unexpected revolt 
of Callin Dorg. Beware of the dangers of fine dining, and of a Lady in red. 
Travel with Tallis as his poetical wanderings have him meandering through 
the pretty villages of the north. Who but Tallis Steelyard could cheat death 
by changing the rules?

If you want to see more of the stories from the Land of the Three Seas, some 
of them featuring Tallis Steelyard, go to my Amazon page at

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jim-Webster/e/B009UT450I/

https://www.amazon.com/Jim-Webster/e/B009UT450I/

Tallis even has a blog of his own at https://tallissteelyard.wordpress.com/

March’s Books #BookReview

And we are ending the third month of the year… how many did I manage to read this time? I know it was much less than the last two, but what with parents evenings, moderations and observations, I was falling asleep holding my books or kindles this month! Still, I made another small dent in my Goodreads challenge! And some that I read were from authors I know from the Blogisphere, like Geoff Le Pard and Vashti Quiroz-Vega. One book in particular, I found really hard to read, it took me nearly two weeks, so the numbers are much less…

Bitmoji Image
The Perfect Betrayal

The Perfect Betrayal by Lauren North

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow!
What a twist!
Grief can affect a person in many ways, and losing your partner, your soulmate and loved one can tip you over the edge, and boy was Tess tipped when her husband Mark was killed in a horrific plane accident.
The effect his loss has on the life of Tess and all those around her is horrific. The paranoia, the needing to keep her son Jamie safe, the suspicions of those who were trying to help….
And I won’t mention the ending but what I can say is that as soon as I read it, I sat bolt upright and was in shock… I hadn’t expected that twist AT ALL!
Brilliantly written and hugely captivating.
Many thanks to Random House UK and NetGalley for offering me an arc in exchange for an honest review.

Life In A Flash

Life In A Flash by Geoff Le Pard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Geoff Le Pard has done it again!
I loved his Life in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash was no different, with a whole heap of flash fiction tales that make you laugh, cry, cringe and sigh.
Often short 500 word pieces, this is a book you can devour in one sitting, or pick up at will, and read a whole story in a snippet!

Life in a Conversation

Life in a Conversation by Geoff Le Pard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When life gives you lemons, go find Geoff Le Pard’s short stories and you’ll forget to suck on the lemons, but instead, cut them up and pop a slice into a G & T, sit back and enjoy the ride through Le Pard’s fantastical mind!
Small snippets of stories that range from emotional to hysterical to pure silliness.
Go read.
Enjoy!

Son of the Serpent (Fantasy Angels Series Book 2)

Son of the Serpent by Vashti Quiroz-Vega

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Loved it!
I read the first in the series, The Fall Of Lilith and really enjoyed the story, and was excited to read this sequel.
I was NOT disappointed!
We follow Dracule, son of Lilith and Satan, abandoned as a babe by his mother – his father disappeared.
Reading about his struggle to control the evil that appears to be within him, and trying his hardest to always do good was a page-turner.
I loved the familiar biblical characters that were woven into the story, giving a different sense of realism to the mythical story.
You really should read, not just this, but the first book too!

M for Mammy

M for Mammy by Eleanor O’Reilly

My rating: 3 of 5 star
M for Mammy sounded like a truly intriguing read.
It covers some pretty important issues, such as Autism and having a stroke.
I was really quite excited to read it, but sadly I found it very hard to follow because of the disjointed nature of the set-out.
I understand the three viewpoints were important, and the thoughts of an autistic child, Jacob, would be all over the place, and again the way we were put in the mother Annette’s shoes, who has suffered a stroke, and all the confusion your mind goes through. Then we had Jenny, a young girl who is battling through trying to understand life, her brother and an absent mother.
Three very different ways of thinking, and the premise was really clever. But I just got confused!
I loved Granny and would have liked to know her more.
I wish I could rate more, but it took me so long to read, because I couldn’t engage, therefore my rating is as such.

Many thanks to NetGalley, Two Roads and John Murray Press for an arc, in exchange for an honest review.

The Rosie Result (Don Tillman, #3)

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Having read the previous two books, I was looking forward to this, the conclusion of the series, and I was definitely not disappointed!

Geneticist, Don Tillman is back with his family – wife, Rosie and son Hudson.

And they are back in Melbourne after 10 years in New York.

I always find any book that deals with people on the spectrum extremely interesting, and this was a humdinger of one!

Reading about how Don, who has Aspergers, ends up nearly sacked from his new job, due to his social ‘inadequacies’, reading situations wrong, and thinking rather laterally, rather than with the emotion that a neurotypical person would, was done in an extremely funny, yet sensitive way.

I love how Rosie interacts with him, knowing his quirks and traits, gently reminding him of how he should be reacting to situations.

It was great to follow his journey through his next project, which was to guide his son, Hudson, through a particularly tough transition from his US school to his new one in Australia. Don recognises many similarities between his own school life, and that of his son’s, and his sole aim is then to coach his son through school, teaching him acceptable behaviours and emotions, especially after the Head and Hudson’s class teacher are convinced he should go through testing to see if he has Autism.

I don’t want to go into a lot of detail, I hate to leave spoilers, so I will leave you with this.

It’s a great read, handling a sensitive topic with delicacy and humour, and an extremely satisfying end to an all-round fantastic series!

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for an arc of this book.

Releases April 4th 2019

Reasons to be Cheerful

Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a delightful read!

This was the first of Nina Stibbe’s books that I have read and I really enjoyed it. A light-hearted read that left you feeling good.

I have to say, as the daughter of a dentist whose family lived in a large flat about the surgery, there were some scenes that really had me giggling, like JP rushing upstairs for a quick toilet visit, or nap… like my dad!

The characters were well formed, and I loved Lizzie and her quirks.

And I have also been made aware of the fact that there are two previous books about Lizzie… may just have to get them as well…

Many thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Books (UK) and Viking for providing me with an arc, in exchange for an honest review.

So, seven books this month!

I have the Easter holidays soon, so I hope to read plenty in that time!!

What are you reading?



February’s Books #BookReview

Yet another month has flown by, and for me, amidst all the family birthdays… My brother in law’s, my Hubby Dearest’s and Mother-in-law’s on the same day, Lil Princess and my Father-in-law’s (again on the same day) as well as Valentines Day, a little snow, the in-law’s departing for the Motherland and half term… I have managed to read another epic amount of books! Thirteen, including a new Julia Donaldson picture book! Exciting! 

peacefully reading

There are a few NetGalley ARCs, but I did steam through a good few from my TBR pile too! So, here goes!

Christmas For One (No Greater Love, #5)

Christmas For One by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wonderful to open a book and fall straight into the swing of the story, as it is based on characters you already know!
I am a huge Amanda Prowse fan and this is yet another page turner, following Meg’s life, after becoming a single mother, albeit with some fantastic surrogate family by her side. There’s love, drama, cute hikd and New York! What more do you want!

The Go-Away Bird

The Go-Away Bird by Julia Donaldson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Many thanks to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for providing me with an arc for my honest review.

As a mother I have loved Julia Donaldson’s books, to read to my children. As an aunt, I have ensured my nephews have received many of her books so they can enjoy them in Finland. As a teacher, I have used her stories to enhance learning and entrance my students with her beautifully crafted stories.

I always love the underlying messages in the stories, and The Go-Away Bird is no different.

Using flowing rhyming verse to tell the story of a rather pompous bird who seems to think itself too good for all the other birds who wish to befriend it. Yet in its hour of need, those same birds come back to help him.

A story of friendship, and learning to look beyond the ‘cover’ of a person, to discover the real goodness inside.

I really enjoyed the premise of the book, and the illustrations by Catherine Rayner are simply stunning.

Definitely a book I would read to my class, to encourage friendship, no matter what.

Many thanks to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for providing me with an arc for my honest review.

Publication date: 7th March

Chicken Shift

Chicken Shift by D. Avery
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Made me giggle. A whole poetry book, crammed with verses about chickens crossing roads!
Loved this one:

A chicken crossed the road, as happens now and then
Philosophers and passersby
Did their bit and wondered why
But the farmer wondered how it escaped the pen.

Twin Desires

Twin Desires by Pamela Wight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Rae has had a hard life already.
Losing her mother as a young girl, in tragic circumstances, then after looking after her father and herself, losing him to the demon drink, she finds herself alone in this world.
She manages to build a good life for herself, quiet and steady, doing well for herself, until she has a chance encounter with the CEO of her company, Blake.
What she didn’t count on was the drama that accompanied him, in the form of his psychotic twin brother Alex, and scorned ex-wife Phyllis.
There is a lot in the story to keep a reader gripped, and I really enjoyed the twists the tale took.

Life on Hold

Life on Hold by Karen McQuestion
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My first novel by Karen McQuestion and I enjoyed it.
A YA book exploring relationships at a most fragile age.
I almost wanted the book to go on… It was a shorter read than I usually choose, but that just meant I enjoyed its end quicker!

The Christmas Cafe (No Greater Love, #8)

The Christmas Cafe by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 star
Yet another wonderful book by Amanda Prowse.
A heartwrenching story of Bea, recently widowed, and dealing with her wayward granddaughter.
Its a learning curve of a story, where both grandma and gran daughter learn a lot about themselves.
Letting love find you, finding first loves and a trip from Oz to Scotland.
A truly lovely read and a bonus when I read of some old favourite characters too!

I Won't Be Home For Christmas

I Won’t Be Home For Christmas by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Another lovely read from one of my fave authors.
This wasn’t my favourite of her books. It one that dealt with hard hitting issues. However, an easy read that had an important lesson within. One my mother has always hammered into me. You shouldn’t ever change yourself for anyone. Love should be based upon a true knowledge of each other, not a facade.
Thank you Mandy.

Don't You Forget About Me

Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was my first Mhairi McFarlane book and I wasn’t disappointed,
The story of Georgina and Lucas,
I loved how the story looped around, tying the beginning to the end.
There are plenty of women out there who had dreams and aspirations, yet the world doesn’t work in their favour, and they get stuck in the loop of bad job/bad relationships/bad fortune. Women like Georgina who thought life would be so much better.
Things don’t always work out for her, and the digs from her family don’t help.
But the chance offer of a one-off job leads to more, and some interesting twists and turns in her life.
I really enjoyed the story, reading it in one day, The characters were relatable, and there was the romance, interlaced with doses of the reality of dating life nowadays.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review.

Happiness for Beginners

Happiness for Beginners by Carole Matthews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Carole Matthews does it again!
I have long been a fan of her novels and was thrilled to get a chance to review her newest novel.
This was another book I devoured in a day.
The story of Molly and her farm full of rejected animals, developing into a school for those children who are almost rejected from society.
Here we meet actor Shelby who brings his wayward teen some, Lucas, as a last resort.
There is fun, disaster, poetry, romance and so many fantastic animals with real characters.
What’s not to love!
Many thanks to NetGalley for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review.

One Minute Later

One Minute Later by Susan Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What an emotionally beautiful story!
I have read a few of Susan Lewis’s books before and this was a stunning new one from her.
The number of times my heart was literally on edge as the twists and turns of the stories were revealed… I cannot even count.
I was entranced by the story of Vivi and Josh, and all the history, which had me almost cringing at one point, willing what I thought would happen to not happen… I’m not going to enter into any spoilers here!
The issue with organ donation is such a huge one and handled with true sensitivity by Susan Lewis.
I have to admit to teary eyes by the end of the book.
Definitely, one to recommend. Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for providing me with an arc in exchange for my honest review.

Good Man, Dalton

Good Man, Dalton by Karen McQuestion
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second of Karen McQuestion’s books I have read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it,

It was an easy read, and entwines the story of Greta Hanson and her cousin CeCe Vanderhaven, two girls with a close connection but lives worlds apart, and that of Dalton Bishop, a young man from a well to do family, but with much to prove to his family.

I love how the story gives a subtle warning about how overpowering Social Media can be, and tackles the issues of Military Vets returning home without adequate support – a problem that is worldwide, not just in the US of A.

This is definitely a book I would happily give my daughter to read, as a young adult too.

Many thanks to NetGalley, Lake Union Authors, Amazon Publishing and Karen McQuestion for an arc of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
Out 12th March 2019

Nanny Returns (Nanny, #2)

Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I read the first book a while ago, and this sequel has been lying on my shelf in my TBR list for a long time.
We meet Nan Hutchinson again, 12 years after the first book ends, and here she is faced with her old charge again, many years after having accusations from his parents thrown at her.
Nan ends up trying to save the day in a bit of a crazy situation.
It took me an age to really get into the story, unfortunately, and I really struggled to finish it. The mid to end of the book took on more momentum for me.

If Only I Could Tell You

If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Imagine the way the mind of a child works.
They haven’t had the experience of the world, and life itself yet, enough to be able to make judgements that make sense. The sense of a ten-year-old is exactly that, only a decade old.
In this book, we followed the life of Jess and Lily, and their mother Audrey, following double tragedies in their family, and the far-reaching effects of not being able to talk to each other, because of preconceived ideas.
I rooted for Audrey the whole way through the book, and though I had an inkling of the secret, call it readers intuition, I was still captivated enough to want to read on and find out if a resolution was ever reached.
The bonds of siblings can be the strongest you will ever know, yet they can also be the most fragile.
A beautifully written story with lessons to learn.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Orion Publishing Group for providing me with an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.






The Plight Of The Gingerlily – Jim Webster #blogtour

Today, I am delighted to host fantastic author Jim Webster as he is going on a tour of the Blogosphere for his new release, The Plight of the Lady Gingerlily.

Without further ado, I shall pass you over to Jim!

We shall start with a photo, and the story that was inspired by it!


Delicate work
A casual observer might have assumed that Benor Dorfinngil was in a good mood. He had a spring in his step and might even be whistling a merry tune. 
There was good reason for his high spirits. Things were going rather well. 
He had funds. Admittedly he’d ended up giving two of the ten alar coins to 
Shena, on the grounds that the costs entailed in purchasing a dress might well come within the definition of legitimate expenses incurred during the investigation. On the other hand, he’d been firm with Tallis. Benor couldn’t see why Tallis needed compensating for the strain of looking after innumerable grandchildren. Given that the alternative would have been accompanying Shena to purchase a dress, Benor felt he’d taken the easy option. Once she’d accepted the coins, Benor had mentioned the name, Salat 
Wheelstrain, to her and Shena had, in good grace, promised to ask around.
Another of the coins had been broken into a most commendable quantity of small change and Mutt was using this to marshal his array of watchers. If 
the two sisters left the house their movements were tracked and their 
conversations overheard by a collection of inconspicuous and apparently 
innocent children. Benor had been surprised just how much activity Mutt 
could command for a comparatively small outlay.
Now he was intent on seeing Faldon the priest. As Faldon had been the instigator of the inquiry, Benor felt that it was only right that he occasionally reported back on what had been achieved. There was the problem that Faldon was disinclined to support anything to unethical, but Benor felt he could gloss over some matters. There was also the hope that Faldon would keep his eyes and ears open and might even have something to contribute to 
the investigation.
When Benor arrived at the house he found Faldon sitting out in the street enjoying the afternoon sun. Unwilling to accept payment for cutting the hair of passers-by, Faldon tended to be paid in kind. Obviously, somebody had gifted him a bench of solid but inelegant construction, and this was set against the front wall of the house. Faldon sat on it, but when Benor appeared, the priest moved to one end to allow the younger man space to sit 
down.
“So how are things progressing?”
Airily Benor said, “I now have the two women watched by experts.”
“Hopefully we shall be ready if she makes a move against the child.” Faldon shifted his position on the bench as if his comment had left him uncomfortable. Then he changed the subject, “So what do you know about 
Jorrocks Boat Yard?”
“Well, they bought a lot of very poor quality second-hand timber. Also it 
appears Minny thought it important that Santon handled the Jorrocks Boat 
Yard account for Raswil Muldecker the usurer.”
“What do we know about the yard?”
“I’d never heard of them,” Benor admitted. “But then I thought to ask Shena. 
They are one of the smaller yards. Old Yalla Jorrocks had a good name, his son, Belan, wasn’t a bad boat builder, but by all accounts, he wasn’t the cheapest and apparently you had to keep an eye on him or corners were cut. 
Of the current generation, Ardal is in charge and he is, apparently, the person to go to if you’re planning an insurance swindle or want something
doing that isn’t particularly legal. The smugglers tend to deal with him.”
Faldon asked, “So would it be worth having a look at the yard?”
“It could be. But I doubt they’d welcome casual visitors. I suspect I’d have 
to look round at night.”
Hesitantly Faldon asked, “Would you like me to come with you?”
Surprised Benor said, “Certainly, it’s good to have support, but it didn’t 
strike me as the sort of thing you’d want to get involved in.”
“I’m feeling a bit guilty,” Faldon admitted. “I dumped this job on you and 
haven’t really done a lot to help.”
“Fair enough. If Mutt can spare the time I’ll get him to come as well. Today 
has been overcast so it looks like we’ll get a dark night.”



The night was as dark as Benor hoped. Mutt met them just outside the yard. 
He’d insisted on doing a private reconnaissance first. When they met he led them down a narrow lane between two boatyards leading to the estuary. The yards on either side of the lane had tall fences made of a mixture of second and third-hand timber; in various states of decay. As they got close enough to see the water glinting in the estuary, Mutt stopped.
“This bit is rotten; I got through. You two can follow me.”
Luckily both men were slender and wiry; a more thickset man would have had trouble. Still, by the time they’d pushed through, the hole was noticeably larger. They entered the yard behind a pile of timber. Fortunately, it hadn’t been piled against the fence, probably because it was unlikely that the fence could support the weight. The three of them crept out from behind the pile of wood and into the open. The entire area seemed to be a haphazard collection of piles of timber looming out of the darkness. Benor led the way. He could see something against the skyline which looked like a boat on the stocks.
He stopped and listened. There was no sound, just the noises of the city in the background. He stood up. Quietly he said, “I think we can walk. There 
doesn’t look to be anybody about.”
Cautiously the other two stood up. Mutt hissed, “I’ll go to the right a bit, 
see if there’s any sign of anybody over there. There’s some sort of hut near 
the gate in.”
Benor nodded and made his way towards the boat. Faldon moved off to the 
left, “There’s a pile of something over here.”
Benor kept his eye on Mutt, the boy disappeared around a pile of wood, but
there was still no sound. He waited but the boy didn’t come back, so he’d obviously not found anything. He moved forward and as he did so there was a 
ripping sound and then a scream to his left. He spun around and Faldon wasn’t there. Hastily he dropped down onto his hands and knees to make himself less conspicuous and crawled in the direction of the scream. Suddenly his hands touched canvas.
Quietly he said, “Faldon?”
From below him came Faldon’s voice. “Down here. I went through the canvas. 
The ground here is stone slabs!”
Benor reached out, found a torn end, and tore it further so he could see down. Below him, he could see the pale blob of Faldon’s face. Mutt appeared
next to him. “What ‘appened.”
From below Faldon commented, “There’s a boat down here.”
Benor explained, “So Faldon’s fallen through the cover over a dry dock.”
“Well get ‘im out. There’s a hut over there with a light in the windows. I 
heard the scream, they might of.”
Benor reached down. “Can you grab my hand?”
Faldon tried to stand up. “I’ve damaged my ankle.”
Benor tried to estimate the depth. “Is there a ladder, I don’t fancy the 
drop.”
“Yes, just along there.” Benor tried to see in the direction Faldon was pointing. There might be something. He tore the rotten canvas and made his way in that direction. Yes, there was a ladder. “Mutt, I’ll go down and help 
him up, you catch him.”
At the foot of the ladder, Faldon was waiting; he’d used the ladder to haul himself upright. Slowly and with Benor taking the weight, he climbed the ladder.
“Get on, someone coming.”
Benor put his shoulder under Faldon and pushed the other man out of the
hole. As he did so a rung, rotten with age, snapped and Benor fell onto the next which also snapped. At this, he tumbled back into the hole.
Mutt repeated, “Someone coming.”
“Get Faldon hidden, I’ll hide down here.”
“If they find owt, I’ll let ‘em chase me.”
Benor looked round for a hiding place. His eyes were becoming accustomed to the light. There was a boat here; perhaps he could hide inside the hull. He scrambled up the rope tied to the side, dashed across the deck and lowered himself over the combing and into the hold. In there it was dark. He stood completely still and listened.
A voice said, “Telled you there were someone. The sheet’s torn.”
A second voice said, “Better go down and look then.”
There was silence then a curse. “Watch the bluidy ladder, it’s knackered.”
“Here, stop moaning and I’ll pass you down the torch.”
Suddenly there was a hint of light inside the hull. Obviously, some of the planking hadn’t been caulked yet so light was coming in between them. Benor glanced around; he could make out the mast, seated in a block fastened to the keel. He moved and stood behind that. From outside he heard, “Nobody out 
here.”
“Then look inside the boat.”
“Waste of time.”
“Why, had you got something more interesting planned? Look inside the boat.”
Benor heard muffled cursing then there was the sound of booted feet on the deck above him. Suddenly there was light streaming in through the hatch. 
Benor pressed himself against the mast. Now with more illumination, he could see something strange at the stern of the boat. There was some sort of box.
From outside a voice said, “Well are you going in?”
“If I am you can bluidy well come up here and hold the ladder.”
Benor looked around desperately for a better place to hide. The box at the stern was the only possible place. He made his way carefully to the stern. 
He paused briefly. There were two large timber planks, curved to match the curve of the hull. There was one on the port side, another to starboard, and they appeared to be fastened to the timbers of the hull. For some reason, the two planks were linked, across the hold, by a rope. Benor carefully stepped over it. It appeared to be bar-tight.
Then he saw that running from this rope was another rope which led unto the box. Hastily Benor ducked under the second rope and climbed up into the box. 
It appeared to be full of canvas. Frantically he burrowed into it and lay there. Now whoever was holding the light was obviously in the hold. Benor could see it coming in through the gaps between the planks of the box.
“Still see nowt.”
A third voice said, “Well happen it’s because there’s nowt to see.”
The second voice replied. “Then stop wasting time and let us search the rest 
of the yard.”
The light grew dimmer. Benor lay utterly still in the darkness. He listened to men cross the deck and drop down onto the ground. He then heard somebody cursing the broken rungs of the ladder and finally he was alone in the silent darkness. He lay there, still listening; in the far distance he could hear voices but couldn’t make out the words. Carefully he pulled a stub of candle out of his belt pouch. Then he took a match out of its tin and with the small pliers provided by the manufacturer, crushed the bulb at the end of the match. It flared into flame and he hastily lit the candle. Then he looked around.
He found himself lying on neatly folded canvas in a box that was comfortably large enough to hold him and the canvas. When he looked, the back of the box was the stern of the boat, but it seemed to be hinged. Why would you want to get out of a boat under the waterline? Also, why was there a rope sewn to the canvas and disappearing out through a hole in the hatch?
Was it a drogue to slow the boat down or assist steering?
He climbed out of the box and lowered himself onto the bottom of the hold. 
He stepped over the taut robes. If the drogue was released into the water, 
it would pull on the cross rope, but the planks fastened to the sides of the hull would take the strain. That didn’t make a lot of sense. If asked to build something like this, he’d have fastened it to the keel, or even to the block in which the mast was seated. These were more substantial pieces of wood, and capable of taking the strain.
He made his way to the entrance hatch. He climbed up the ladder and onto the deck, shielding his candle with his hat lest the light be seen from outside. 
He walked silently across the deck and lowered himself over the edge, 
dropping down to the ground at the stern of the boat. From the outside the hatch was visible and it had a length of rope dangling from it. He shook his head, puzzled, and made his way along the side of the boat. A third of the way along, he came to a plank running vertically up the side of the boat. He held the candle nearer to it, lifting the hat slightly with his other hand to let more light shine on the hull. This plank seemed to be bolted to the plank inside the hull as if to ensure the strain was spread across more of the timbers. He looked at them carefully. They were freshly nailed, but the more he looked at them, the more incredulous he became.
He then looked round the dry dock. Stacked against the side of the dock there were some more planks. These had obviously come off the side of a 
boat; you could see the nail holes where they’d been fastened on. Now it wasn’t uncommon for a boatyard to replace ships timbers, but these were in excellent condition. They’d obviously been taken off the hull and replaced by wood in a very poor condition. At this point, Benor remembered what he’d heard about the yard buying a lot of very poor quality second-hand timber.
The only thing that made sense was an insurance fraud. The crew could wait until they were out at sea; get all sails set and then abandon ship. They would then pull on the rope at the back of the boat so that the drogue deployed and very rapidly this would put too much strain on the hull and would tear in two large areas of planking. Benor guessed that the water pouring in through the great gaps in the hull would sink the boat within minutes. He stopped and thought about it. It was a bit fussy and involved a lot of planning, but there again; it could be done perfectly safely by the person doing it.
He continued along the side of the boat. At the bow was a nameplate. He raised the candle to illuminate it. The Flower of Partann.
A shout from somewhere in the yard brought him back to the present. 
Somewhere out there was Faldon who needed help. Swiftly Benor snuffed out the candle and climbed the damaged ladder, avoiding the broken rungs. There were raised voices and angry shouting near the gate. He couldn’t imagine 
Mutt could have got Faldon to the gate on his own, so he made his way back towards the way they’d come in. He’d not passed the second pile of timber 
before he heard a soft voice saying, “Benor, this way.”
He ducked down behind the woodpile. Faldon lay there waiting for him. “Mutt 
has gone to get Tallis; he reckons it’ll take two of you to move me any 
distance.”
“How’s the ankle?”
“Probably broken.”
“Right, so which way will Tallis come?”
“Mutt said to go to the hole we came in through.”
”Right, I’ll try and get you there.”
Benor helped the other man to his feet and Faldon threw an arm over Benor’s shoulders. The priest’s inability to put his left foot on the ground slowed them considerably, and Benor kept looking over his shoulder towards the main entrance. “I hope Mutt got away.”
”He said there were other holes he could get through.”
As he glanced back, Benor could see light moving in their vague direction.”
“Down, we’ll have to crawl this bit.”
On hands and knees they made their way behind the pile of timber screening 
the hole in the fence.
A voice shouted, “Right, now search this bluidy yard properly. Cover every 
bluidy inch of it. That kid must be somewhere and he probably wasn’t alone.”
For the next half hour Benor watched the lights working methodically around 
the boatyard. More lights appeared as reinforcements were called in.
“I think I better help you through the hole.”
“What about Tallis?”
Benor bit his tongue and then said, “Tallis can look after himself. If the 
worst comes to the worst I can get you down to the Estuary and into the 
water.”
“I’ve never tried swimming with a broken ankle.”
“There’s a first time for everything. Don’t worry, I can support you and we’ll 
let the current carry us away from here.”
“Where will it take us?”
“That’s just an embarrassing detail; away from here is the important bit.”
Faldon fell silent and Benor helped him wiggle through the hole. Then on 
hands and knees they continued down the narrow lane towards the beach. By 
the water’s edge Benor said quietly, “I’ll go back to the hole. If Tallis 
gets here soon we might be able to go with him.”
Benor stood in the dark for what seemed like hours. The searchers were 
getting closer, at some point they would reach the hole in the fence. Then 
he heard another noise, footsteps. Somebody was coming down the lane. In the 
gloom he could see several men who appeared to be carrying something. Ahead 
of them was Tallis. “Where are you Benor?”
Benor hissed, “Keep your bluidy voice down.”
Tallis turned round. “We’re here. Put the chair down.”
He turned back to Benor, “Where’s the casualty.”
Silently Benor pointed down the lane to the estuary. Tallis nodded, “This 
way chaps.”
Benor looked on with astonishment as a two-person sedan chair with four 
chairmen made their way past him. He would have sworn that a lady smiled at 
him out of the window. He grabbed Tallis. “What in the forty-seven hells is 
going on?”
“Mutt found me at the house of the Widow Handwill. It was she who pointed 
out that a sedan chair was the obvious mode of transport, and that the 
presence of a lady would help maintain decorum.”
“Will it?” Benor asked, his tone indicating disbelief.
“If not, the presence of four sturdy chairmen will,” said Tallis with an air 
of absolute confidence. “And then there’s Mutt.”
“Why, what’s he doing?”
“A diversion, listen.” There were shouts from in the boatyard. Benor ducked 
down and looked through the hole. There were flames at the far end near 
where he’d assumed the offices were. “He’s set fire to something?”
The sedan chair came back past them, the bearers were grinning. Benor saw 
two faces smiling at him through the window. “Coming?” Asked Tallis, “or do 
you want to spend the night here?”

I’m sure you’ll all agree that was a fantastic story! But what about the book, time for Jim’s input…

Jim Webster
Here’s the man, himself!

I’ve thought long and hard about blog tours. I often wonder how much somebody reading a book wants to know about the author. After all, I as a 
writer have gone to a lot of trouble to produce an interesting world for my characters to frolic in. Hopefully, the characters and their story pull the
reader into the world with them. So does the reader really want me tampering with the fourth wall to tell them how wonderful I am? Indeed given the number of film stars and writers who have fallen from grace over the years, 
perhaps the less you know about me the better?
Still, ignoring me, you might want to know a bit about the world. Over the 
years I’ve written four novels and numerous novellas set in the Land of the 
Three Seas and a lot of the action has happened in the city of Port Naain. 
They’re not a series, they’re written to be a collection, so you can read 
them in any order, a bit like the Sherlock Holmes stories in that regard.
So I had a new novella I wanted to release. ‘Swimming for profit and 
pleasure.’ It’s one of the ‘Port Naain Intelligencer’ collection and I 
decided I’d like to put together a blog tour to promote it. But what sort of tour? Then I had a brainwave. I’d get bloggers who know Port Naain to send me suitable pictures and I’d do a short story about that picture. It would be an incident in the life of Benor as he gets to know Port Naain.
Except that when the pictures came in it was obvious that they linked together to form a story in their own right, which is how I ended up writing one novella to promote another! In simple terms, it’s a chapter with each picture. So you can read the novella by following the blogs in order. There is an afterword which does appear in the novella that isn’t on the blogs, 
but it’s more rounding things off and tying up the loose ends.
Given that the largest number of pictures was provided by a lady of my 
acquaintance, I felt I had to credit her in some way.
So the second novella I’m releasing is ‘The plight of the Lady Gingerlily.’ 
It too is part of the Port Naain Intelligencer collection.

So we have ‘Swimming for profit and pleasure’

Benor learns a new craft, joins the second-hand book trade, attempts to rescue a friend and awakens a terror from the deep. Meddling in the affairs of mages is unwise, even if they have been assumed to be dead for centuries.

And we have ‘

The Plight of the Lady Gingerlily

No good deed goes unpunished. To help make ends meet, Benor takes on a few small jobs, to find a lost husband, to vet potential suitors for two young ladies, and to find a tenant for an empty house. He began to feel that things were getting out of hand when somebody attempted to drown him.

Find Jim’s blog: http://jandbvwebster.wordpress.com/

And his Amazon author page here.

January’s Books #BookReview

January has flown by, don’t you think?

And in that time I have managed to devour eleven (yes, that’s ELEVEN!) books.

Bitmoji Image

I can thank my mile-long TBR list, as well as some fantastic new manuscripts that NetGalley approved for me to be an ARC reader!

Now I’m just going to pop a little photo here to show you what I have been reading…

See.

Told you I’d been busy! There was, of course, a reason for my ability to read so much, during term time. I credit that to a horrible sickness bug that rendered me prone to my bed, when not hugging the lavatory… but you don’t want to know about that!

So, the books.

I am giving you my reviews and a link to my GoodReads review, and if not available yet, a publication date.

Queenie Malone's Paradise Hotel

Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first book by Ruth Hogan, and I really enjoyed it.
A tale of a mother and a daughter, told by one person, but two perspectives.
Tilly the young girl, and Tilda the adult.
Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel is a story about ghosts. Past and present, and the ability to see them. Their ability to help a confused young woman to see her past more clearly, and her present and future with no regrets.
A touching read that made me think a little of Sixth Sense!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Two Roads books for allowing me to have an arc in exchange for my honest opinion.

Published 07/02/19

Stories from the Heart: Seven Short Stories

Stories from the Heart: Seven Short Stories by Amanda Prowse

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful set of short stories from a favourite author of mine!
Great to dip into when you can’t commit to a longer book, but want something that will give you that tingle.


Wildflower Heart (The Wildflower House #1)

Wildflower Heart by Grace Greene

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wildflower Heart is the first of Grace Greene’s books that I have read, and I was far from disappointed.

A story of a damaged woman, scarred, physically and emotionally, from situations in her life, including the disappearance and subsequent death of her mother, and then the loss of her husband, in a gruesome accident which injured her as well.
After a long time she finds herself healing in some way, due to Wildflower House, the project her father buys as his forever home, in his retirement.
I don’t want to go into too much detail, but suffice to say, I felt sadness, joy, anger, frustration and hope whilst reading.
I am now keenly awaiting the sequel, wanting to know what happens next in Kara’s Wildflower journey!

Many thanks to NetGalley, and Grace Greene for the Arc, in exchange for an honest review.

In at the Deep End

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting when I requested this book, but I have to say I was intrigued… I did have to read it in small spurts rather than in one or two sittings, as some areas were rather graphic!
I certainly have more of an idea about particular erotic activities now!
And I definitely had to be careful that my child wasn’t trying to read over my shoulder!
A sometimes funny, sometimes uncomfortable read, but a page-turner, nonetheless!

Published 21/02/19

Once Upon a River

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting concept but a bit slow for me. Thanks to Netgalley for an arc in return for an honest review.

The Ballad of Sean and Wilko

The Ballad of Sean and Wilko by Paul Charles

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A detective, murder mystery kind of vibe. Not really my sort of usual read. Engaging enough, but not the best, for me.

Beautiful Broken Things

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Engaging. A story of friendship, abuse and support.

Fierce Fragile Hearts

Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Okay, so yesterday I spent the day reading Pretty Broken Things in anticipation of reading Fierce Fragile Hearts, and I am glad I did.

What a touching, often heart-wrenching story, told, this time, from the viewpoint of Suzanne, a victim of childhood abuse.

We experience the maturing of a friendship between three girls growing into women, and share with Suzanne the slow acceptance of what happened, and how she learns to deal with the cards life dealt her, all the time, an inner strength growing within her.

I really enjoyed reading this book and devoured it in a few hours.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for providing me with an Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

What Happens in France: A laugh out loud romantic comedy that will touch your heart

What Happens in France: A laugh out loud romantic comedy that will touch your heart by Carol Wyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I literally read this in the space of two sittings in one day!

An easy to read story about Bryony Masters, who is trying desperately to find her older sister who ran away when she was a little girl.

I loved how it was kept lighthearted, with the manner in which she decides to find her sister, and the antics of her and the great characters who support her.

Of course, there is a love interest to keep the romantics among us happy too.

And Biggie Small, the pug – what an adorable character! I wanted to be able to pet him myself and take selfies too!

With thanks to Netgalley and Canelo for this ARC in exchange for an open and honest review

Not Our Daughter!: The true story of a daughter-in-law

Not Our Daughter!: The true story of a daughter-in-law by Kalbir Bains

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I wish I could give this more but I’m sorry. I can’t.
A sad story, but I felt annoyed so much. This happening in the 2000s… It feeds on all the stereotypes of an arranged marriage.
I wanted Harleen to get a backbone.
And the editing… Not good.

Enchantée

Enchantée by Gita Trelease

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a beautiful book!
I was most definitely Enchantée!
I do love a bit of historical fiction. Add a dash of magic, a sprinkling of romance and a splash of conflict, and you have a most wonderful, and (sorry to use the word again) enchanting story.
I have heard an awful lot about this book and seen it in the ‘to be read’ piles of a few others I follow and was so grateful to have been given the opportunity to read something so magical in advance.
The story of Camille and her sister, left bereft by the death of their parents, with a brother sinking deep into debt, and the claws, of a mysterious debtor, kept me gripped.
Weaving in the revolution, the beauty of Paris, the mystique of Versailles and the pure magic of those who had the knowledge, the story captivated me.
I was, of course, bowled over by the dashing Lazare – a hero who had morals as well as looks.
There are a host of secondary characters who intrigue a reader too,
Recommend it? Yes, definitely!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 21/02/19

And there you have it.

Lots of Ritu Reads, sometimes recommends, sometimes not!


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