Category Archives: Guest Posts

Blog Tour! – Kin of Cain by Matthew Harffy

Today I’m very glad to be the next stop on the Kin of Cain blog tour. First let me tell you I jumped at the chance and did receive a copy of the book in advance but as always with Harffy’s work it was already on my pre-order list so I’ve paid for my copy too 🙂

Other stops on the tour

1st March – Hoover Book Reviews
2nd March – Speesh Reads
4th March – Parmenion Books
5th March – For Winter Nights
6th March – History…The Interesting Bits!
7th March – Lives and Loves of a Book Nerd

Matthew has kindly wrote a post about what the future holds which will follow on from my review so sit back and enjoy! My thanks go to the author and Yasemin at Head of Zeus for making this blog tour happen!

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Title – Kin of Cain
Author – Matthew Harffy
Genre –  Historical Fiction
Length – 86 Pages
Publication –1st March 2017
My Rating –5/5 Stars

Synopsis

AD 630. Anglo-Saxon Britain. A gripping, action-packed historical tale set in the world of The Bernicia Chronicles. Perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell.

Winter grips the land in its icy fist. Terror stalks the hills, moors and marshes of Bernicia. Livestock and men have been found ripped asunder, their bones gnawed, flesh gorged upon. People cower in their halls in fear of the monster that prowls the night.

King Edwin sends his champions, Bassus, Octa and band of trusted thegns, to hunt down the beast and to rid his people of this evil.

Bassus leads the warriors into the chill wastes of the northern winter, and they soon question whether they are the hunters or the prey. Death follows them as they head deeper into the ice-rimed marshes, and there is ever only one ending for the mission: a welter of blood that will sow the seeds of a tale that will echo down through the ages.

Review

When I first read The Serpent Sword I was shocked at how quickly Octa disappeared from the tale, it’s this murder that sets Beobrand on his journey but I was  left wondering who Octa really was.. was he anything like his brother?

Well now we have the chance to see a little of the man himself in a short story set before the events The Serpent Sword.

86 pages is a decent amount of pages for a short tale in my opinion and Harffy doesn’t hold back. For me what I really enjoyed was this tale has a bit of fantasy and mystery to it. The unknown force that is attacking people..is it human or beast.. either way the King wants it dead!

Octa sets out with a band of men to prove himself to his King and one of my favorite characters is included in this group, Bassus! oh how I love that man.

Harffy weaves a tale which includes the death and gore we are used to but it also manages to give some depth to Octa that wasn’t possible before.

The tale is full of suspense, it’s dark, gritty and gruesome..what more could you possibly want?

When I was reading the tale I couldn’t help but see Octa as Beowulf and reading the author note it was really great to see the Harffy’s thought process on this. It really made the tale stand out.

Personally I feel Harffy has loads to offer and I hope to see  more shorts in the future as I feel they bring depth to the authors world and allow them the chance to share some great stories with us the readers. When I commit to an authors work I want to feel like they are committing to me also..to give me their best and Harffy never disappoints.

Kin of Cain is thriller/mystery/fantasy/myth/folklore and so much more wrapped in to 86 glorious pages and it’s well worth the asking price.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon


What the future holds for me and my writing – Matthew Harffy

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If you’d asked me four years ago what the future held for me and my writing I would have said I hope to find an agent and then get published. In February 2013 I was close to finishing the first draft of my debut novel, The Serpent Sword. I’d never written anything longer than a few hundred words before and I could see no further than completing the book and somehow getting it out in front of readers who hopefully would like it. That was it. I really had no ambition beyond that, apart, of course, from the secret dream of selling millions of books and becoming rich enough to retire to a tropical island somewhere. But we won’t talk about that.

So much has changed in the last four years. I finished The Serpent Sword and found an agent. I then wrote the sequel, The Cross and the Curse, while my newly-acquired agent tried to sell the first book, and, unfortunately, failed. This failure pushed me to self-publish both books, whilst pressing on with the writing that had somehow become part of my life by this point. Both books were doing well and garnered many positive reviews. This finally piqued the interest of a publisher, so I signed a contract with Aria, a new imprint of publisher, Head of Zeus. Aria re-published the first two books and then published book three of the Bernicia Chronicles, Blood and Blade. They also managed to sell the rights for the three novels to Audible, who have now released the audio books for them, narrated by a great actor called Barnaby Edwards.

I have also written a prequel novella, Kin of Cain, which is out now, and completed book four in the Bernicia Chronicles, Killer of Kings, which is due out in June.

I am now well into the first draft of book five in the series, which will also be published by Aria, who have plans to release all the books in hardcover and mass market paperback in the coming months and years. I am even hearing talk of possible translations of the books in the works!

The point of this rambling on about the past and all the great things that have happened in the last four years is that I had no idea what would happen then, and I don’t really know what the future will bring in the next four years. But what I do know is that there will be more novels in the Bernicia Chronicles. Beobrand’s tale marches on into the seventh century and he will see more kings come and go. He will face his foes in the clash of shieldwalls in battles throughout the island of Albion and, who knows, perhaps even beyond its shores.

And when I decide to move on from Beobrand? When I am done with the mead hall and the shieldwall? What then? Well, I would love to write a western, but I am told there is no money in them. If I am ever close to living in my dream where I have enough money to write what I want and not care about how many people will read it, I will probably turn my hand to the American West. I can almost smell the rotgut whiskey and the pungent stench of gunpowder in the air of a rowdy cattle town when the ranchers and their cowhands have rolled in from the dusty trail. If you look carefully, you will see much of the so-called Wild West in the Bernicia Chronicles, but I would relish the chance to write at least one book set on the Frontier of civilization in the 19th century.

If, as is much more likely, I will have to write books that might sell and which appeal to readers of my books, I have an idea for a Viking saga, which actually has elements of a western in it. But I can say no more now, as it is just a twinkle in this author’s eye! It’s either that or romance, which my wife assures me sells better than the violent books I write. I’m not sure I would do very well at that, but I might have to think of pen name if I want to find out!

I am sometimes tempted to write a fantasy. I am a huge fan of writers like J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard and David Gemmell, so I have a firm understanding of the genre. And the thing that I like most about it, is that I would not have to stick to historical facts! In many ways, the stories I tell could easily be transposed into a word of epic fantasy. But as I am writing historical fiction, I am constrained by what is known to have happened, the technology available, and when things occurred. Oh, and no dragons or magic!

I would love the chance to be able to just create a plot and write whatever I wanted because I would be in total control and nobody could tell me I had got something wrong, as it would be my creation!

So, what of the future? I think we’ll have to wait and see. But if people keep buying my books, I think I can safely say I’ll continue to write them.

Hopefully others will enjoy whatever directions in which the muse takes me.

Author info:

Matthew Harffy is the author of the Bernicia Chronicles, a series of novels set in seventh century Britain. The first three books in the series, The Serpent Sword, The Cross and the Curse and Blood and Blade are available on Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, and all good online bookstores.

Kin of Cain, a standalone prequel novella set in the same world as the Bernicia Chronicles was published on Amazon and all good online bookstores on March 1st 2017.

Killer of Kings , the fourth of the Bernicia Chronicles, is available for pre-order now on Amazon and all good online bookstores.

Website: www.matthewharffy.com

Twitter: @MatthewHarffy

Facebook: MatthewHarffyAuthor

Guest Post – VIKINGS TO VIRGIN – The Hazards of being a King by Trisha Hughes (@TrishaHughes_ )

Today I open my blog to author Trisha Hughes. Her novel Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of being a King is to be released on the 28th February and I’ll be reviewing just as soon as I can so I thought why not highlight the release by letting Trisha take control of my blog for a little bit.

Click here to view the book on Amazon!

I hope you enjoy the post 🙂


When we think of Britain’s monarchs, most of us would agree that early periods of time are clearly muddled. Many are hidden in the mists of time while some have almost completely disappeared. What we do know is that there were kings who ruled for only a few months and there are some who ruled for over fifty years. There are also some who should never have ruled at all.

If you know anything about the British, you’ll know that among the good and the well-meaning monarchs, some of them were ruthless, not to mention greedy, murderous and totally corrupt. Their story is better than a thriller about a serial killer on the loose because ‘Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of being King’ is absolutely true. Don’t imagine a fairy story with handsome kings whisking off princesses on their white horses to the sound of trumpets and the cheers of their people. Imagine powerful individuals who were brutal and would stop at nothing to get what they wanted and who were more than happy to get rid of the odd family member or two who were standing in the way of their progress to the throne.

1Monarchs of Britain all share one thing in common. In their lifetimes, they were the most powerful individuals in the land.

Their story spans 1500 years and is full of lust, betrayal, heroism, murder, cruelty and mysteries. It’s a journey through time when the Romans began their march through Britain and travels through Saxon times, the Vikings, the Normans, the Plantagents and finally the Tudors.

Their stories are full of savagery and cruelty but there is no story more brutal than the War of the Roses during the Plantagenet dynasty. It was a dangerous period full of unfathomable brutality, shifting alliances, murders, betrayals, plots and savage elimination and it only ended when Henry Tudor usurped the throne. His reign began in a bloodbath and he continued on with gusto.

If you asked people which monarch they find the most interesting, the answer is often either Henry VIII or Richard III. Sometimes King John. And the reason for this is because they were the bad boys of history. Henry VIII’s reign will forever be remembered for the treatment of his six wives who were divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived, in that order. John is remembered for generally annoying his brother Richard Lionheart, and Richard III, well, didn’t he kill his nephews? But when you look at all three individually, did they really deserve their terrible reputations? Were there extenuating circumstances for each of them?

This question has been asked many times in history. All three kings had certainly done some terrible things during their reigns and none of them were shy when it came to getting rid of someone who stood in their way, including their wives. But standing back and putting things into perspective, were all the grizzly stories told about them actually true?

The character of King John is well known. His brother Richard I has been likened to a lion, hence the name Richard Lionheart, and most would agree that there was no animal in nature that combines the conflicting qualities of John. He was a hardened warrior with the subtlety and cunning of a Machiavellian and from time to time during his furious rages, his cruelties were executed with cold, inhumane intelligence. He lied, he cheated, he manipulated and he more than likely had his nephew Arthur murdered, if he didn’t do it himself, because Arthur was next in line in the queue to the throne after his uncle Richard. John wasn’t the first to do this and he certainly wouldn’t be the last. It almost seems like a predisposition for most rulers in history.

But when you think about it, most of the books transcribed in the Middle Ages were written by monks and we know that John quarrelled endlessly with the Church, was even excommunicated, so most monks hated him. And sure, he lost Normandy to King Philip II of France and he ripped up the Magna Carta after promising, with his hand over his heart, to uphold it.

But of late, some historians are thinking outside the box. He was a hard-working king who improved the law courts and made the barons, who had free reign due to Richard’s absence, obey the law.

2Without condoning anything that John did, perhaps in his own way, he was doing the best he could in a very difficult situation while trying to stop the English economy from going belly up. He may have gone about it rather badly by throwing tantrums and taxing everyone to the max and he certainly had an escalating cruel streak, but maybe this escalation began for a very good reason. He had an unreliable brother who was taking every bit of spare cash he could lay his hands on out of England leaving John frustrated and scrambling around trying to make ends meet.

At the time, Richard had gone on his merry way to the Crusades with every bit of available cash he could find to fund his crusades. In my humble opinion, the minute Richard set foot in England he regarded the country as a cash cow that he fully intended to milk leaving John struggling during his absence.                                                                                                         

To me, it seems to have been the catalyst that started John on his downward spiral into absolute cunning, cruelty and deviousness. But then again, he was a Plantagenet.

And then we have Richard III, evil incarnate if we are to believe some historians. His two nephews certainly would have thought that as they sat captive in the Tower of London waiting to be released. But we know they never left the Tower and were never seen again after Richard kissed them both on the cheeks and virtually shoved them through the gate.

Richard’s story is a story not too different from many in history. It’s a story of ambition gone awry and the damage it leaves in its wake. That he loved the boys was never questioned but it’s difficult to place a date on when he had a change of heart regarding his nephews’ right to the throne.

That they died is understood. And presumably Richard had them murdered. But was it actually Richard as we have been led to believe or was it someone else who orchestrated their death?

There have been many suspects’ names drawn out of the hat and of course, Richard’s name always comes up first. He had the most to gain from their death and he’d already been implicated in his brother, Edward IV’s death.

But let’s not forget Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII’s mother. No other mother in history seems to have been as dedicated as she was to have her son sit on the throne. And then of course, there’s Henry himself. It was only after his coronation that rumours began to circulate that Richard had killed the boys. This could easily have been to cover up his own involvement in their murder. Let’s not forget that if Richard had merely stashed the boys away in the Tower for their own good, Henry would have had to get rid of them because their claim to the throne was by far better than his. In actual fact, Henry had barely any claim at all. The princes would have simply had to go if they were in fact alive in the Tower when he usurped the throne from Richard.

As for Henry VIII, we all know that his biggest concern was producing a male heir to pass on the throne and continue the Tudor dynasty. It controlled his life and it’s a terrible blot on his record that his reign should be remembered for his cruelness and executions. The sufferings of his wives and devout men and women stand in shocking contrast to the welcome he received as an energetic, lovable, charismatic 19-year-old when he took the throne. But by 55 years of age, he had become morbidly obese and ill, and as a consequence he was harsh, egotistical and cruel.

But a new theory proposes that Henry actually may have had McLeod syndrome, a recessively inherited genetic disorder that can affect the blood, brain, nerves, muscles and heart. Furthermore, by tracing the reproductive history of his great grandmother, Catherine of Valois, (whose brother was King Charles VI of France, otherwise known as ‘Crazy Charles’), there’s little doubt that he may have inherited a mental instability gene from her. It could explain Henry’s transformation from gentle prince to terrible tyrant.

Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of being King’ is a rambling narrative beginning when the Britons first glimpsed a square sail and a dragon-headed prow on the horizon, churned by oars through the waves as blue water foamed around the hull of a mighty ship one cold, miserable January morning. No one heard the muffled sounds over the water. They were still rubbing sleep out of their eyes after a savage night of arctic air had cut its way through cracks in the walls.

It’s a story of kings who struggled to hold on to their throne, of horrendous bloody battles, of tiny boys becoming rulers, of ruthless usurpers and of queens who proved to be more powerful than anyone could have ever imagined. It’s a story of invading armies, of rival family members, of spies and conspiracies.

And I’ve loved every minute of writing it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Trisha Hughes started her writing career with her memoire ‘Daughters of Nazareth’ eighteen years ago. The debut novel was first published by Pan Macmillan Australia and became a bestseller in 1997 beating the current Stephen King book to the top 10 bestsellers at the time.  Since then she has discovered a thirst for writing.  She’s written crime novels but her latest book, the first in her ‘V 2 V’ trilogy, ‘Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of being King’, is her passion and due for release on 28th February 2017. Click here to view the book on Amazon! She has a crime thriller due for release next year and she is currently working on the second in the series ‘Virgin to Victoria – The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen.’

You can connect with Trisha through:

Trisha’s Website: www.trishahughesauthor.com

Or: www.vikingstovirgin.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/TrishaHughes_

 

 

Guest post – Lake of Sins character hierarchy – L. S. O’Dea

The 3rd book in the Lake of Sins series, Hangman’s Army by L. S. O’Dea has just been released and I can’t wait to read my copy. Look out for a review in February!

If you havent already you can see my reviews for the previous titles in the series here :-

Book 1 – Escape

Book 2 – Secrets In Blood

It’s fantasy..dark and gruesome secrets will be revealed!

To get your free copy for the first two books in the series click the image below!

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Another bonus is that the author has kindly agreed to a guest post to give some background to the hierarchy within the series. Enjoy!


 

David was kind enough to ask me to write a guest blog on the hierarchy of the world of the Lake of Sins.

Book one in the series (Lake Of Sins: Escape) is told from the point of view  (POV) of two Producers.  This is probably not the best way to start the series since Producers are the lowest of the classes and have a very limited view of the world as a whole.  Originally, the first two books were combined, so you did get a broader world view due to parts of the story being told through the POV of Almightys and a Guard.

However, the book was too long for traditional publication and I was told by an agent to either delete about 100,000 words or break it into two books.  I reworked the original to create two books and here we are.  For some, the hierarchy of the world of the Lake of Sins is confusing, until they read book two.

This should help readers who haven’t read book two.

Think of Producers as field slaves who are kept uneducated and isolated.  Field slaves unlike house-slaves (or in this world House Servants) do not know the structure of the society as a whole.  They only know their world.  They understand that there are different levels of “masters” but they have no idea about the government and even the workings of a small town.  They know their village and farming and that’s it.

Now, Trinity, the main character (MC) is a little different because her father, who is a House Servant, taught her to read.  She knows a little about his life with Almightys and has a slightly broader world view but not much (although she understands a lot more by the end of book one).

So, let me present to you the Hierarchy of the Lake of Sins!

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I really hope this post gives you some interesting background to the social structure. It’s very easy to follow during the books but for me this is a unique series and I wanted you to know more about the world L. S. O’Dea has created . Here’s some useful links :-

Authors Facebook:
Authors website
Links to Amazon to purchase
Other places to buy! –

Remember to get the first two books in the series for free click the image below!

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12 days of Clink Street Christmas Event: Review & Guest Post! – The Learn by Tony Halker

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As part of the 12 days of Clink Street Christmas blog tour I’m very happy to bring you a guest post from Tony Halker author of The Learn who will give us a bit of an insight into his work..but first.. here’s my review of the book. 🙂

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Here’s the book blurb –

Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.
A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior.  Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging.
Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.
At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by.
A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.

Review 

The Learn follows Owayne on his journey from being a boy, a local beach scavenger to that of a priest.

What i really enjoyed about this book was that the author really made me think about development, growth and learning within the human race. We take so much for granted but at one point humans didn’t have things such as paracetamol, cars, bricks even..the list is endless.

It was really good to see the author show different views to learning. As you could imagine some people would be open to new ideas but even in this day and age some people are stuck in there ways and don’t see things as progress.

My personal view is Owayne’s journey is one of  enlightenment as he opens his mind and his eyes to all the possibilities out there in the world..all the wonders waiting to be shared.

For me the pace of the tale was a little 0n the slow side..i like a fast paced tale after all, but the pace did offer the chance for you to see the spiritualistic or even sometimes simplistic and differing views on knowledge and development.

This book isn’t a hard read as such but it needs your time and focus to really understand and enjoy the tale. The language used takes time to digest to fully immerse yourself  in “The Learn”.

Overall The Learn is a very creative and interesting tale about knowledge and development along with the dangers surroundings it. The final few chapters of the tale really had me hooked with the injection of action right when you needed it.

The tale really does make me think about what it must have been like when things were discovered.. and would have i been one of those scared, or would i have embraced it?

It’s a calm story for the most part and the book would be really suited for those who have the time to devote to it, to embrace the tale like  Owayne must embrace “The Learn”

For me it’s a solid 4* 🙂

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

My thanks go to Authoright for the chance to read/review the book and to Tony who shares with us his insight to “The Learn” below.

 


“The Learn”

“The Learn” is about technology change, the values and beliefs that emerge in us from technology, the confidence or fear those changes engender; the angst that emerges in us when we perceive we have lost or will lose some control or power. It is also about belief, blasphemy, equality, power and authority and our reactions to those things

My canvas is the bronze age, it enables me to add a dimension that is Nature, the environment, what it gives, takes and threatens. Some readers have wanted to say that “The Learn” is about the bronze age. I prefer to express that it is simply set there because that age offers real places that are fertile territory and lend other dimensions to a rich story. That context lets me challenge on issues of interest.

I love the mountain beach landscape of “The Learn”, I can wander there today. It is full of stone age and bronze age artefacts, remnant dwellings and even jewellery of skill and imagination. I envision peoples who emerged from the land, were formed by its gifts and pressures, yet faced the same comforts and fears as we do now. I think they were like us, laying foundations for us to build on in many areas of technology, values and beliefs.

I wanted to write a book that is not a quick fix; that draws people in with effort, that is not sensational; is as much about landscape, place, voice, nature and atmosphere as about particular events. I want a reader to live within my novel. I hope that a few may grieve a little when a character joins his or her ancestors or just slips from view. I hope at the end of the story I am leaving questions about the people and their future developments that will have readers seeking out a sequel, the next stage of The Learn

We have so much folklore to build on to make a rich story. We know the names of Celtic/Druid Deities, we have the Romans’ view of their defeated enemies that they clearly feared. I have taken the festivals of summer and winter, their transition and what we know about them today and tried to re-imagine them in the place where they were first formed, performed and meant so much for the coming season, harvests, weather and the goodwill of The Deities.

We know the Romans twice tried to eliminate the seat of Druid power in North Wales. It was not just people they feared but power, culture and values, a belief system to challenge that of Rome; where women ruled alongside men and Druids controlled belief and trade.  Societies and cultures, tribes and families prosper or fail based upon cohesion, shared values and joint vision, as well as effort and purpose. I wanted to weave that into “The Learn”, since I hoped to form a historical novel that considers the issues we face today and acknowledges that our forebears so far back were intelligent, worthy ancestors whose spirit and blood runs in our veins.

I wanted my characters to be ordinary, yet interesting. There are damaged small people whose bodies are malformed, by poor diet, over work in the dark, the challenges of nature and the ill will of superstition. There are lonely souls of uncertain gender whose purpose of being has been taken by time and technology change, but who find some comfort and will to live by fulfilling the purpose they were taught, even though that no longer has merit or use to society.

Nature, Anu the Goddess looks down on all of this. She challenges in order to see the development of Knowledge of human peoples. She values fortitude.

We are here because we have struggled and survived through hunger, cold, heat, climate change and competition for resources. We are the ones who made it this far, yet as a species we have lived for only a couple of million years, (the Dinosaurs lived for about 180 million years). Our spirit needs to be on edge, alert to threats, planning how to manage, to fight or flee. We need daily challenge and purpose if our biology is not to shut down. I wanted to write about that and how our ancestors may have acknowledged these issues and managed them.

Purchase from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Learn-Tony-Halker-ebook/dp/B01JQVQKSE/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1473955705&sr=1-1&keywords=tony+halker

Purchase from Foyleshttp://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/the-learn,tony-halker-9781911110576


About Tony Halker

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Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tec business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places. His two daughters were born in North Wales. He lives with his wife there and in Hertfordshire.

Website – http://www.tonyhalker.com/

Blog – http://www.tonyhalker.com/blog

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12 days of Clink Street Christmas Event: Guest Post – Peter Worthington (@CatshillPeter )

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As part of the 12 days of Clink Street Christmas blog tour i’m very happy to bring you a guest post from Peter Worthington, author of “The Eden Tree” which i reviewed back in July. If you missed the review click the image below to open a new window 🙂

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I’m very glad to say Peter has kindly offered to share with us a little flashback revolving around the charterers in The Eden Tree. I hope you enjoy


The Last Christmas at Kirmingsham Hall

Back in 2006 – before his grandson Wesley was diagnosed with cancer – John Morgan had said: “Christmas is made for grandads.” Thanks to a chance meeting with a flower-seller John traveled to Israel and returned with a mysterious antique box the contents of which saved Wesley’s life and led John to an amazing adventure. One considered his destiny.

A decade later on Christmas Day John’s thoughts were of a familiar aroma floating towards his nostrils. He reminisced of his grandma’s baking and entered the Kirmingsham Hall kitchen to the dulcet tones of “Mary’s Boy Child” playing in the background.

“Is that mince pies I can smell?” he said, taking a long sniff, and reached for the overflowing plate.

“Yes, John, we’re baking for the party tomorrow,” his wife said, tapping a wooden spoon in her palm, “and don’t touch again.”

He kissed her cheek, ignored her chastisement, quickly grabbed a pie, and ran for the lounge, crumbs falling onto the hall tiles. His eyes found the faces of family and friends relaxing on blue leather sofas, chairs, or cross-legged on soft pillows and red carpet. The spacious Tudor property had been their home since John and Liz married in the summer of 1986.

The gathering was planned for weeks. The Morgan Christmas Day celebrations would begin with a full English breakfast at The Black Swan and continue with traditional turkey dinner at home. Traditions would be broken, however, in ways that were staggering.

“Mince pies. Yum.” James said as he followed his wife Alyanna through the swing door.

“Keep ya’ mitts off them, James my boy,” Sean said with a wink as he grabbed one off the plate. “Jesus, these are hot” he blew on his fingers as Rachel play-punched his shoulder.

Rebecca, their toddler, was in the lounge playing horsey on Goliath’s back. Goliath – aptly named as he was six foot eight and weighed twenty-six stone –  was Aly’s cousin. Rebecca and her mum had benefitted from a miracle too. On Christmas Day the family would travel together to the mysterious garden. Probably for the last time.

The laughing toddler’s tiny legs hardly encompassed the giant’s massive frame. Roisin, Goliath’s fiancée, knelt close as guardian angel.  The lounge door opened and two teenage boys bounded in to take their turn at the rodeo.

“Mum and Josh have just arrived,” Wesley said, looking through the patio window.

“Oh great,” Iggy said, “now we have ex SAS and Mossad here. What Christmas party-poopers!” He slapped Goliath on his rear as he mounted his back. “Gee up, horsey.” The man mountain twisted and Iggy fell off laughing.

Watching her labours devoured Liz said with a shrug, “I can make some more.”

The two family dogs lay by the stone hearth. Presents under the tree testified that Christmas was for dogs too.

After a sumptuous breakfast handshakes and farewells were given to the landlord and staff. Sadness and anticipation in the air. Cars made their way past the iced-over pond, the remnants of festivity strewn around the village. Steering his BMW through the double gates for the last time John grasped Liz’s hand and pushed open the front door.

Christmas carols by choristers played over the hi-fi as the household opened presents. A pile of multi-coloured wrapping paper growing on the carpet.

“Slippers. Bleedin’ slippers,” Sean tore at his parcel.

“Language, Captain,” Rachel pointed to a toddler placing Lego blocks together to make a huge tower which toppled to her exasperation. Periodically someone carried turkey remnants, mashed potato, sprouts and other greens on a platter, alongside pizzas, chilli and rice. The group dined until the Queen’s speech after which James called out “Okay, Rambo, you can come back in now.”  Sean returned and gave a thumbs up.

“Can we have some games?” Wesley said, winking at Iggy.

“Yes of course, Sweetheart,” Becky said, “and you were a brilliant innkeeper.” Wesley blushed as his mum smiled proudly.

Through the late afternoon and early evening there was laughter, fun and merriment as various games were played. After a very competitive final attempt at Twister Becky surrendered and John realised it was time.

“Okay everyone. It’s time to go.” John gathered everyone for a massive group hug.

One by one the family and friends stepped through the portal and entered Eden –  never to return.

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The Eden Tree Blurb

” Mark Twain said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” John James Morgan knew the day he was born. Two days before his sixty-first birthday he found out why. John is a happily married businessman, father and grandfather, living in Cheshire, in the heart of England. Happy, that is, until his family face a crisis. A terminal one. At the local market, a flower-seller tells John a story that changes his life. Assured his destiny is in his own hands, John crosses the globe in pursuit of a religious artefact which has remained hidden for two thousand years. Presented with an antique box containing maps, parchments and a bag of leaves, John returns to the UK and witnesses a miracle. With the box in his possession, John and his family find new friends and enemies; lives are threatened and people die, although some will be healed. With the help of many different people, from all walks of life, John’s journey will finally lead him to the discovery of an extraordinary and mysterious tree. But what will this Eden tree mean to John, his family, their faith and their future? The Eden Tree is author Peter Worthington’s first novel; a fictional account based on his own experiences with his son, John Wesley, who underwent treatment for cancer but sadly passed away shortly after his seventh birthday. The Eden Tree has allowed Peter to give his much-loved son “a happier ending.”

About Peter Worthington

Today Peter Worthington lives in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire with his wife Margaret. Peter has enjoyed a bright and varied career as a church minister, financial adviser and internet consultant. Now retired he is busier than ever thanks to his three grandchildren, studying for an Open University Degree in Creative Writing, voluntary work, playing World of Warcraft, serving on the board of a housing association and writing. He has previously published short stories in a number of Christian magazines. His first novel, The Eden Tree (published by Clink Street Publishing 19th July 2016 RRP £8.99 paperback, RRP £2.99 ebook) is available to purchase from online retailers including amazon.co.uk and to order from all good bookstores. For more information you can follow Peter @CatshillPeter or visit http://www.edentree.co/

Short Story by AW Rock (Part Three) @SohoHoney #12DaysofClinkStreet

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As part of the 12 days of Clink Street Christmas blog tour i’m very happy to bring you part three in a short story from AW Rock, author of “Soho Honey” which i reviewed recently

If you didn’t see the review click the image below 🙂

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Before you read part 3 you can find parts 1 & 2 on the blogs below. Click the links to open a new window

Part one can be found on The Nerdgirl Review – http://thenerdgirlreview.blogspot.co.uk/ 

Part two can be found on Between The Lines Book Blog– https://betweenthelinesbookblog.com/ 


Soho Noel – Part Three

Father Christmas said, “Don’t jump to conclusions. You have no idea what this is all about. When I saw you I knew that you have seen things and experienced things that most people know nothing about.. that’s why I’m here.”

“How do you know?” I asked.

“I have had to deal with fear.. I have seen terror in people’s eyes too many times. I have learned to understand people.”

“You didn’t show much understanding earlier on today.”

Father Christmas jumped as Costas broke in, “Christmas isn’t on my agenda and I don’t know you..”

“I’m no threat to anyone..”, said Father Christmas.

I looked at him with disbelief.

“.. I’m celebrating having removed a cancer from the past and looking forward to spending Christmas with my kids.”

Costas was a Greek Cypriot and family life and traditions were part of his culture so he let it go. He turned to me, “You don’t usually have a snorter this early.. what are you up to?”

“It’s been a fascinating day so far, Costas, and I’ve no idea how it is going to end.”

Jack jumped in, “Well knowing you it’s either a fuck or a fight.”

“You don’t know me”, I said.

Charlie suddenly woke up and waved his glass in the air, “Get me another fucking drink, will you? Where’s that useless barman?”

Jack had moved over to be with the women in the corner.

Costas checked him out, “There’s too much testosterone in this place… Jack, get Charlie a drink.”

Jack, “Doing my best, Boss.”

Costas went over to the optics and poured Charlie’s drink.

I turned to Father Christmas, “So now what?”

“People put presents in stockings at the bottom of their children’s beds. That man violated many children and he got away with it.. and there is more, much more.”

“What do you think I’m going to do about it?” I asked.

 

Father Christmas didn’t answer. He got up and walked out. He knew I was no threat to him either.

 

THE END.


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Soho Honey

This contemporary crime story takes place over three weeks in November and unfolds against the multi-cultural backdrop of Soho, London. Branen had to leave the UK six years before to escape his complex clandestine history and the consequences of a crime that achieved worldwide notoriety. When his daughter is brutally murdered in Soho he believes that he could be the reason. He returns to his old hunting grounds to find the killer. His search brings him into conflict with the British Secret Service and Soho’s underworld. He is forced to flee Soho again after a tragic meeting with his ex-wife. His past has caught up with him and the hunter becomes the hunted. Now forty years old Branen wants to stop running and to remove forever the continuing threat to his life. In an effort to get rid of his pursuers he is faced with the prospect that his only chance of survival could lead to his death.

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Soho-Honey-W-Rock/dp/1911110241/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478775644&sr=8-1&keywords=soho+honey

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About AW Rock

Based in London AW.Rock has been a regular on the Soho scene since the 1960’s working in various sectors of the entertainment industry.

Website – http://sohohoney.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/SohoHoney

Twitter – https://twitter.com/sohohoney

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/sohohoney/

Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbobu4S36R9CSMklBZ4AEMA

12 days of Clink Street Christmas Event: Guest Post – Monika Jephcott Thomas

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As part of the 12 days of Clink Street Christmas blog tour i’m very happy to bring you a guest post from Monika Jephcott Thomas, author of “Fifteen Words” which i reviewed recently

If you didn’t see the review click the image below to open a new window 🙂

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I hope you all enjoy the guest post! My blog is yours Monika.


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Christmas In Germany 

Christmas for me as a child was a wonderfully long drawn out affair. It started 4 weeks before X-mas with Advent and ended on the 6th of January on Epiphany. During that time there were highlights filled with long established traditions in our family.

There was no Father X-mas. Presents would be brought by ‘Christkind’ i.e. baby Jesus, on Christmas Eve.

Every Saturday night before the 4 Advent Sundays we children put our shoes outside our bedroom door, well cleaned and polished and lined with x-mas wrapping paper. If you had been a good girl the angels would come during the night and bring you little presents and on the first weekend also an Advent calendar. Not a bought one with doors to open and finding chocolate behind it but one that was made by my Mum, which must have taken her ages for all of us. Little felt bags on a string for every day with the dates on it.  When you opened it there might have been a couple of marbles, some sweets something little that I was really looking forward to.

On December the 4th , St Barbara, we would go into our garden and cut some branches from our fruit trees. These would blossom at Christmas and would decorate our dinner table.

On December  6th , St Nicholas was celebrated. In the early evening we would gather as a family in our living room and sing X-mas and Advent songs, read poems and my parents would read us stories. Then at some stage there would be a loud knock on our front door. St Nikolaus, dressed up as a bishop and Knecht Ruprecht, St Nikolaus’ slave, dressed up as a chimney sweep, black and dusty, would arrive when snow was outside, on a horse drawn sleigh. He would come into our living room with a golden book and a sack of presents. We would sit with big eyes and in expectations of what presents we would receive and also a bit frightened about how Knecht Ruprecht might punish us if we had not been good over the year. St Nikolaus would read out from his golden book all the good things we had done during the year and also remind us where we had to improve so Knecht Ruprecht would not have to be angry with us next year. Then he left the sack of presents and we waved to him good bye from our front door when he left in his sleigh. It was so realistic and I wondered for many years how he knew all the things we had done over the year.

On the 3rd Advent Saturday night we wrote a letter to Christkind with our wishes for presents for X-mas and the angels would take this to him.

Every day during Advent we also had a wooden crib on the window sill of our living room. Every night before going to bed my mother would take us to the crib. We had to either choose some hay if we had been good to put it into the crib or some straw if we had not. We were in other words responsible for how comfortable baby Jesus would be when he was born and would lie in the crib under the X-mas tree. An effective way for parents to get 4 weeks of good behaviour!

On X-mas eve we would gather up in our dining room and sing X-mas songs until a little bell rang and the angels had finished arranging our presents under the tree (a big fresh pine tree with real candles). After a delightful time of unwrapping all we had our dinner which was always fish and then went to Midnight Mass

X-mas day was spent with our grandparents and X-mas dinner always was a goose, red cabbage and Kloesse (dumplings)

We had a relaxing time playing with family, celebrated NY eve with fireworks in our garden and had a family holiday till Jan 6th, Epiphany. At breakfast my Mum would have baked a sponge cake and a coffee bean would be buried in it. Whoever got the slice with it was King for the day and could do what they liked (within limits of course.) After breakfast my father followed by us would go to our front and back door and write e.g. AD 19 C+M+B 56 (initials of the 3 kings) in chalk over the front door to bless the house for the coming year and the same on the back door which would first be opened to let the bad spirits out.

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Fifteen Words Blurb

Two young doctors form a profound and loving bond in Nazi Germany; a bond that will stretch them to the very limits of human endurance. Catholic Max – whose religious and moral beliefs are in conflict, has been conscripted to join the war effort as a medic, despite his hatred of Hitler’s regime. His beloved Erika, a privileged young woman, is herself a product of the Hitler Youth. In spite of their stark differences, Max and Erika defy convention and marry.

But when Max is stationed at the fortress city of Breslau, their worst nightmares are realised; his hospital is bombed, he is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Max experiences untold horrors, his one comfort the letters he is allowed to send home: messages that can only contain Fifteen Words. Back in Germany, Erika is struggling to survive and protect their young daughter, finding comfort in the arms of a local carpenter. Worlds apart and with only sparse words for comfort, will they ever find their way back to one another, and will Germany ever find peace?
Fifteen Words is a vivid and intimate portrayal of human love and perseverance, one which illuminates the German experience of the war, which has often been overshadowed by history.

Purchase on Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Fifteen-Words-Monika-Jephcott-Thomas-ebook/dp/B01MCWG3IJ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1477564925&sr=1-1&keywords=fifteen+words

About Monika Jephcott Thomas

Monika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. She moved to the UK in 1966, enjoying a thirty year career in education before retraining as a therapist. Along with her partner Jeff she established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy in order to support the twenty per cent of children who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts. A founder member of Play Therapy UK, Jephcott Thomas was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002.