The Accident by CL Taylor @callytaylor #BookReview

The Accident cover

My review…..

This is the first book I’ve read by C L Taylor and I’m not sure how I’ve managed that, but it most certainly won’t be the last!

In The Accident we meet Sue who, along with her husband, is dealing with the most heartbreaking situation. Their daughter, Charlotte, is in a coma having been hit by a bus. It seems she stepped in front of it on purpose, but what would drive a seemingly happy 15 year old to do such a thing? As a parent of teenagers, I can’t even imagine how I would cope in the same situation. To make matters worse, Sue has a past she fears is catching up with her and she is scared, but she is determined to find out what led Charlotte to attempt to end her life. She is convinced Charlotte is too scared to wake up and the truth as to why is shocking.

I really felt for Sue. To feel so petrified most of the time must be absolutely exhausting, especially when others think you’re losing the plot. I could almost physically feel her pain and frustration. I’m not surprised, given her past, that she’s paranoid about her husband. I did feel a bit sorry for him though, as it can’t be easy living with someone who has been through, and is still going through, so much.

This book tackles some sensitive subjects, such as physical and emotional abuse, which make it an uncomfortable read at times, but compelling. It’s fast-paced with plot twists, but is very much character driven, I think. It’s full of suspense with a satisfying ending and I think anyone who likes a good psychological thriller will enjoy it.

For more information and to buy a copy…..



A Home at Honeysuckle Farm by Christie Barlow📚 @ChristieJBarlow @HarperImpulse #BlogTour #BookReview @rararesources

I am absolutely over the moon to be joining in with Christie Barlow’s A Home at Honeysuckle Farm blog tour! 🙂

A Home at Honeysuckle Farm banner

My review…..

A Home at Honeysuckle Farm is one of those books I wish I could have curled up with and read from cover to cover without any interruptions. I truly envy people who can read a book in a day. It’s something I am yet to achieve. Unfortunately, as for most of us, this isn’t a very realistic option. As much as I’d love to read all day, there is always something else to do, but I can honestly say that this story still had me hooked from the start. Whenever I picked up my kindle I was instantly immersed in Alice Parker’s world again and when I wasn’t reading I was wondering what might happen next. I couldn’t wait to carry on reading.

Alice is a lovely character and one I warmed to straight away. I really felt for her being torn between her loyalty to her mother and missing her old life back in England. I can’t even imagine being whisked off to live in New York at 10 years old and not seeing the rest of my family again. It would have felt like moving to another planet to me at that age. It would now! I’m a bit of a home bird.

Alice remembers an argument between her Mum and her Grandie, but has no idea what it was all about. What could be so bad that they had to cut ties all together? I have to say the truth was quite a shock!

As is often the case in real life, illness and the fear of running out of time to make amends, makes Alice re-assess her life. Does she really want to go back to New York when she has a chance of a brighter future back home? She needs to find out the truth though before being able to move on completely. Can she convince her Mum to come home?

Honeysuckle Farm sounds idyllic and not far from where I live. I wonder if I can visit 😉 I’m not surprised Alice feels right at home again when she returns. Meeting Sam only makes the prospect of staying all the more appealing and who can blame her, he sounds so lovely. The chemistry between them is obvious from the start. He’s worried his family history will get in the way of their relationship though, as some people seem unable to let go of the past, but Alice is determined to turn things around for her family and her community.

This is such a heart warming story. One which might make you think about your own family relationships and friendships. We never know how long we have people for and although some things are hard to forget, we have to do our best to forgive.

I can’t imagine anyone not loving this story. Why not treat yourself.

Many thanks to the author and publisher for my ARC via Netgalley. I will be more than happy to recommend.

A Home at Honeysuckle Farm cover

A Home at Honeysuckle Farm

A family secret

One shocking argument and ten-year-old Alice Parker’s world was turned upside down. Her peaceful life at Honeysuckle Farm in the quiet rural village of Brook Bridge swapped for the bustling metropolis of New York City. Alice’s life was changed forever…

A second chance

Now, thirteen years later, Alice’s American dream is over. With her life in tatters, there is only one place Alice wants to be… home at Honeysuckle Farm. So, when Alice learns her beloved Grandie is ill, she knows this is her last chance to heal the family rift.

A forever home?

But secrets still swirl in Brook Bridge, and Alice is no closer to discovering the truth. And for some reason her new friendship with local heartthrob Sam Reid seems to be making the locals tense.

Sick of the lies Alice knows it’s time to lay the past to rest once and for all. But could the truth ruin her hopes of ever calling Honeysuckle Farm home again?

Purchase Link –

About Christie Barlow

Christie Barlow

Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, Lizzie’s Christmas Escape, Evie’s Year of Taking Chances, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream and A Home at Honeysuckle Farm. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA & Australia. Christie is an ambassador for @ZuriProject raising money/awareness and engaging with impoverished people in Uganda through organisations to improve their well-being as well as Literary Editor for bringing you all the latest news and reviews from the book world. She loves to hear from her readers and you can get in touch via her website Twitter @ChristieJBarlow and Facebook page Christie Barlow author

Check out the rest of the blog tour with other reviews, and more, with these awesome book bloggers…..

A Home at Honeysuckle Farm blog tour



Evanthia’s Gift by Effie Kammenou @EffieKammenou #BlogTour #AuthorInterview @LoveBooksGroup

Hi, I have the pleasure of welcoming Effie Kammenou to Chat About Books today 🙂

Effie Kammenou

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

Evanthia’s Gift is a multigenerational love story and family saga. The story begins in 1956 and continues through the 1990s. I split the book into two parts, and by doing so, the reader not only experiences life through the mind of Anastacia and her daughter, Sophia individually, they also move through time with the characters during decades that were ever-changing in lifestyle and tone.

Where did/do you get your ideas from?

I’ve always been a people watcher. I think it must have been somehow linked to my training as a drama major in college. I can develop a character or a storyline from observing nuances and brief exchanges.

For Evanthia’s Gift it was far more personal, though. When my mother passed away from pancreatic cancer, I needed an outlet for my grief. Writing this story was a way to honor my mother’s beautiful spirit and our heritage, which she was so proud of.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

Many of the characters are based on people I know. Anastacia is based loosely on my mother. They both leave Athens to come and study at NYU, get married and stay in the States. I have to remind readers who know my family that the similarity in the plot begins and ends there. Anastacia finds her husband in bed with another woman and divorces him. That was not the case in reality, yet people ask me about it as if it were. However, what is true and portrayed throughout the story is my mother’s strong will, affection for her family and her grace.

People I’m acquainted with have inspired many of the characters in this book. My own personality traits, habits or interests also came through in several characters.

The most common question I’m asked about a character, other than if Alexandros and Dean are based on real men, is about Irini. She is the antagonist in the story and often, readers assume she’s been created as an extreme personality to spice up the story. The truth is that she is real. I actually had to tone her down a bit to make her believable.

Readers will get a better sense of how much evil she’s capable of in the second book in the saga, Waiting For Aegina.

How do you pick your characters names?

Most of the characters in my books are Greek, so I chose ones that were definitively Greek. There were various reasons for the different names I chose. Some were random. Some names sounded pleasant to the ear and others had special meaning for the character. Anastacia was chosen because Easter was her favorite holiday and quite a few chapters revolve around this religious period. Her name comes from the Greek word Anastasi, which means resurrection. Alexandros was my grandfather’s name. It was a way to remember him, and it happens to be one of my favorite masculine names. Sophia means wisdom in Greek. I thought it was fitting for this young girl. She was idealistic and in love, yet levelheaded, mature and sensible. Dean is a nickname for Konstantinos. Dean has so many names in this book – Konstantinos, Kostas, Dean, and Dino. In a sense all his name changes represented the turmoil in his head and the struggle he had with his heritage.

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

I basically have a story in my head and my mind never seems to rest. I often jot down notes throughout the day. I’ve even pulled my car to the side of the road to enter notes in my phone, and I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to do the same. I don’t outline. I simply begin writing. I keep an index card for each character for reference. Once the story is out of my head and on paper (computer actually), I start my rewrites – many, many rewrites. Then I work with a critique partner, beta readers and finally a professional editor.

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

You ask tough questions. Classic or contemporary?

Classic – Jane Austen, John Steinbeck, William Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Victor Hugo

Contemporary – Sylvain Reynard, Adriana Trigiani, Deborah Harkness, Kristin

Hannah, Colleen Hoover

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

I don’t know. I never thought about it. Maybe Sophocles? It’s quite a bizarre story he came up with in the Oedipus Plays.

Were you a big reader as a child?

I was not a big reader as a child, which was odd because my mother was. She loved the classics and was the one who exposed me to them. My appreciation for reading didn’t come until I was in my teens. I had a good friend growing up who lived next door and she loved to read. She was a good influence on me and recommended books she knew I’d like.

When did you start to write?

My quick answer to that question is 2012, about six months after my mother passed away. But that’s not accurate. I’d been writing a food blog for several years before that. But I didn’t simply share recipes because food is so much more to me than that. I wrote about a tradition, story or memory that went along with the food. Each of the books in The Gift Saga contains recipes that coincide with the storylines. I just couldn’t help myself, and as it turns out, readers love it! Before I published my first novel, I’d also contributed to a regional magazine, writing restaurant and book reviews and an occasional feature article.

I remember as a young girl in junior high school, writing a play with a friend of mine. It was a memory I’d forgotten until recently. Maybe the passion was there all the time.

If you could re-write the ending to any book what would it be and what would you change?

All these questions I never though about! I’m a sucker for a happy ending. Jenny doesn’t die in Love Story. She’s miraculously cured and she and Oliver live to be old and gray together. Or, Scarlett runs after Rhett in Gone With The Wind, and after a lot of groveling and promising to change and redeem herself to everyone she’s wronged, he takes her back.

Is there a book you wish you had written?

No. When an author writes it comes from his soul. It’s personal and everyone’s perspective is his own. I don’t wish to write what is in someone else’s heart or experience. I do occasionally read a passage and think to myself, ‘Why can’t I express myself as eloquently?’

If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?

Living with Keffie. It’s a play on words. Kefi is the joy of life particular to the Greek spirit. Living with Kefi is to enjoy each day and relish each moment. Anyone who has been to Greece would understand what I mean. I’ve always been a positive person. I smile, laugh, joke and have fun. I enjoy my family, friends, entertaining, dancing and anything that brings joy to my day.

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

That’s a dangerous question since I really like sensual love stories and I happen to be quite enamored with a certain professor immortalized by the Canadian bestselling author, Sylvain Reynard In the Gabriel Series. However, Gabriel is now a happily married man to the lovely Julia, so it would be quite nice to meet with both of them for an espresso in Florence. Afterward, I’d ask the Dante specialist to kindly escort me to view the Botticelli drawings he’s loaned the Uffizi Gallery.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on book three in The Gift Saga. This will conclude the series. I’m hoping for a summer release for this currently untitled book. I’m anxious to begin the new project I have in mind, but I’m sad to say goodbye to these characters who have become an extension of me.

Tell us about your last release?

Waiting for Aegina is book two in The Gift Saga. Evanthia’s Gift focuses on the core families and their love stories, but Waiting for Aegina touches on different themes. Life’s expectations verses reality for five young women is the center of the story, but the heart and soul is the friendship and loyalty they share. Sophia is the character in the forefront of the action along with the four close friends readers met in Evanthia’s Gift.

Do you have a new release due?

I’m hoping for a June release date. But if it takes longer, then so be it. I want to give my readers a conclusion to this saga they’ll remember.

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

Nothing, really. I’m pretty low-key about this, which is surprising because I make a big deal of everything. At least when it comes to my daughters I do!

How can readers keep in touch with you?

I’m very easy to contact and I enjoy engaging with my readers. I can be contacted through social media or email.





Goodreads page

Food blog

Fan contact e-mail

Newsletter signup page

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Effie 🙂

Thank you for this interview!

Many thanks to Kelly Lacey for arranging the interview and for the opportunity to join in with Effie’s blog tour!

Evanthia's Gift cover

This Greek American family saga follows a multigenerational story of love, loyalty, and culture. An emotional novel about family bonds and the difficult pull between home and heritage.

In the year 1956, Anastacia Fotopoulos finds herself pregnant and betrayed, fleeing from a bad marriage. With the love and support of her dear friends Stavros and Soula Papadakis, Ana is able to face the challenges of single motherhood. Left with emotional wounds, she resists her growing affection for Alexandros Giannakos, an old acquaintance. But his persistence and unconditional love for Ana and her child is eventually rewarded and his love is returned. In a misguided, but well-intentioned effort to protect the ones they love, both Ana and Alex keep secrets – ones that could threaten the delicate balance of their family.

The story continues in the 1970’s as Dean and Demi Papadakis, and Sophia Giannakos attempt to negotiate between two cultures. Now Greek-American teenagers, Sophia and Dean,
who have shared a special connection since childhood, become lovers. Sophia is shattered when Dean rebels against the pressure his father places on him to uphold his Greek heritage and hides his feelings for her. When he pulls away from his family, culture and ultimately his love for her, Sophia is left with no choice but to find a life different from the one she’d hoped for.

EVANTHIA’S GIFT is a multigenerational love story spanning fifty years and crossing two continents, chronicling the lives that unify two families.


Check out the rest of the blog tour for reviews, and more, with these awesome book bloggers…..

Evanthia's Gift blog tour

The Gift Saga


Looking at the Stars by Lewis Hine @hine_hin @BlinkPublishing @bonnier_publish @friendfinder10 #mylifemybigprom #BookReview #lookingatthestars

Looking at the Stars cover

My review…..

Looking at the Stars by Lewis Hine is a honest, matter-of-fact account of his life so far which has made me smile, giggle at times and has also brought tears to my eyes. This young man is just amazing. What he has been through, and continues to go through, doesn’t seem to dampen his spirit at all. It just makes him all the more determined to live his life to the fullest extent possible and do whatever he can to make other disabled children’s lives better. (Check out his website, for more info.) I am in awe of him and his family. I am a mother of a seventeen year old son and a sixteen year old daughter and I can’t even imagine how Lewis’ mother must feel on a day to day basis. I know none of us knows what’s around the corner, but she must be terrified a lot of the time! She sounds like an amazing lady. It’s obvious how proud she is of Lewis though and I’m not at all surprised. He is an inspiration! I’m not surprised he’s attracted the attention of many a famous person either and it’s great to see so many people getting behind Lewis and supporting his charity. The prom Lewis, and his team, organised looked like a fantastic night and if you watch the video on the website you will see for yourself just how much it meant to those who attended. With so much hate in this world, stories like these restore my faith in humankind.

I have absolutely loved getting to know Lewis. He is someone I will be talking about often and for a long time to come.

I don’t know if you will read this review Lewis, but on the off chance you do, keep up the good work. You are awesome!

Many, many thanks to Karen Browning, at Blink Publishing, for my beautiful hardback copy of this incredible book. I will be recommending it to anyone and everyone.

Buy your copy…..



#FlashbackFriday with @SandyTaylorAuth @lucy_dillon @RSinclairAuthor @TillyTenWriter @Caroline_writes @SteveScaffardi

Hi and welcome to my #FlashbackFriday feature. 

On the first Friday of each month I like to have a little look back at the books I was reading at the same time in previous years, since starting my blog.

Here are my reviews from April 2017 (including a link to 2016)…..

When We Danced At The End Of The Pier

When We Danced At The End Of The Pier by @SandyTaylorAuth @bookouture #BlogTour #BookReview

All I Ever Wanted


All I Ever Wanted @lucy_dillon @HodderBooks #BookReview

Red Cobra final

The Red Cobra #BlogTour @RSinclairAuthor @Bloodhoundbook #BookReview #bloghounds @sarahhardy681


A Wedding In Italy #BlogTour #BookReview @TillyTenWriter @bookouture

Sleep Tight cover

Sleep Tight #BlogTour @Caroline_writes @bookouture #BookReview

The Drought Steven Scaffardi

#LadLitSunday The Drought by @SteveScaffardi #BookReview


#FlashbackFriday with Alison Lingwood @SharonSant Rob Ewing @VRonan


Have you read any of the above?

What were you reading this time last year?

Feel free to join in with #FlashbackFriday 🙂 Don’t forget to share your link with us in the comments if you do.

Thanks for reading,

Kerry x

#AuthorInterview with Jennifer S. Alderson @JSAauthor #PublicationDay

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Jennifer S Alderson to Chat About Books 🙂

Jennifer S Alderson

Happy Publication Day, Jennifer 🙂

For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book(s) please?

Hi, Kerry, and thanks for inviting me to share more about my books with your readers!

I am an American expat and author of four books. I was born in San Francisco and raised in Seattle, Washington, a gorgeous yet rainy city on the West Coast of America. A serious dose of wanderlust combined with burnout drove me to quit my job and travel through Asia, Central America, Europe, and Oceania for four years. I even lived in Darwin, Australia for eighteen months, until the heat and cyclones got to be too much. Home is now Amsterdam, where I live with my Dutch husband and young son.

My journeys inspire and inform my writing. The Adventures of Zelda Richardson mystery series transports readers to exotic locations around the globe. Down and Out in Kathmandu: A Backpacker Mystery is about a volunteer English teacher who gets entangled with diamond smugglers. The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery, my second book, is a suspenseful “whodunit?” that transports readers to wartime and present day Amsterdam. Art, religion, and anthropology collide in my third novel, Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery – available on April 6, 2018 as paperback and eBook!

Like the star of my mystery series, I am an avid traveler, multimedia developer, journalist, and art historian. Unlike Zelda, I have never been threatened with jail time, chased after by art thieves, tasked with tracking down illegally acquired artifacts, or gotten caught up in a diamond smuggling scheme.

I’ve also released a travelogue – Notes of a Naive Traveler – about my own experience volunteering and backpacking in Nepal and Thailand.

Where did/do you get your ideas from?

From everywhere! Seriously, a newspaper article, museum exhibition, chance conversation overheard on the tram, an issue at work, how a barista complains about a co-worker – these tiny snippets of information can all provide inspiration for a character, plot twist or even storyline.

I am a culture lover and spend a lot of time in museums and galleries as well as reading about art, so a lot of my ideas flow from a painting or sculpture I’ve seen, a biography of an artist I hadn’t yet read about, or a robbery at a local museum or gallery.

The nefarious characters and wonderfully kind locals I met in Nepal and Thailand inspired the plot of Down and Out in Kathmandu. The Lover’s Portrait draws heavily on my own experiences as a collection researcher and exhibition assistant at several Dutch museums. Rituals of the Dead is an artifact mystery about Asmat bis poles, missionaries and anthropologists in Dutch New Guinea (now Papua). The storyline was conceived during my time as a collection researcher at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, for a fascinating exhibition of Asmat bis poles held in Dutch museum collections.

Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?

Virtually every character I have created is based on a conglomeration of people I met while traveling and working, or those I’ve known all my life. However, none are based solely on one individual. For instance, my main character Zelda includes aspects of my personal history, combined with character traits of several friends, acquaintances and former co-workers, as well as people I don’t really like. She is not me, despite us having similar backgrounds and ambitions.

How do you pick your characters names?

My protagonist, Zelda Richardson, is named after my first cat; a petite black stray I found when I was eleven years old. She was my favorite pet. No one in my family knows why I chose that name and I can’t remember either. I was recently asked if I’d named her after the video game Legend of Zelda. To my relief, the game came out in 1986, three years after I found her! When I was trying to sort out the name of my mystery series’ protagonist, Zelda always topped the list. Because of the video game, I resisted for months. Yet I never did think of a name that felt right, so Zelda stuck.

Because the other characters in my novels are from all over the globe, I search for the most popular first and last names for a male or female in that country, born within a specific period. It is incredible what you can find on the internet these days!

Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?

I’m a big believer in writing up a tight outline before beginning the first draft. It takes a lot of time to work out all of the details and twists, but I’ve found it to be crucial for the book and my own motivation. I prefer to write out the first draft as quickly as possible, so I can get the essence of the story down on paper. When I sit at the computer to type it in the first time, I also do the first round of editing, add in descriptions or characters and settings, and tighten up the action and dialogue.

The initial outline and first draft have to be written in order. Once I get to the second draft, if I’m having trouble working out a chapter or scene, I’ll skip ahead and come back to it the next day. That happens quite a bit, so I guess it’s become part of my process.

Who are your top 5 favourite authors?

Honestly, the answer changes weekly! Here are five authors whose books have left a deep impression on me, for a variety of reasons.

Alex Garland’s novel The Beach is the reason I wrote my first book, Down and Out in Kathmandu. It made me realize travel fiction could be thrilling, as well as convey a strong sense of place. I’ve read his other books but they didn’t grab me like The Beach did.

I read all of Agatha Christie’s mysteries when I was a girl. I know they influenced my decision to write mysteries later in life. For this reason, she’s probably my favorite writer!

Chris Pavone’s The Expats is a thrilling amateur sleuth mystery and adventure through Europe. It’s a wild ride of a story, with excellent characters and plot twists. His other books are also interesting.

Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti series is one of my favorites. Each book is a wonderful trip to Venice and the surrounding countryside, as well as a tightly constructed mystery. How she’s able to write so many wonderful books set in the same city leaves me in awe!

Victoria Blake’s Return of the Courtesan (in hardback: Titian’s Boatman) was my favorite read of 2017. I also enjoyed her crime fiction novel, Jumping the Cracks. Titian’s Boatman is a captivating contemporary and historical fiction novel set in London, New York and Venice. As you can see, I have a thing for Venice (and Italy in general) and love to visit it via fiction.

If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Donna Leon. Not only because she’s an incredible author, but also because she is a longtime American expat. I would ask how she stays inspired to create engaging, interesting mysteries set in the same small city. Where does she find her inspiration? And after so many years as an expat, does she still consider herself an American? Does she think she could have written her Commissario Brunetti novels if she had stayed in America?

Were you a big reader as a child?

I was an avid reader and still am. My parents are too, and that helped get my brother and I interested in stories and reading in general. I devoured my mother’s predominantly cozy mystery books and many of my father’s horror and thriller novels before I reached puberty.

When did you start to write?

My fascination with writing fiction stems from a childhood game my father and I played; a series of ‘what ifs?’ which resulted in a short story. After completing a degree in journalism, I worked as a columnist, investigative journalist, and newspaper editor before life took me in other directions. My father’s unexpected death at the age of sixty-one motivated me to try writing a novel worthy of publication. It took eight years to finish my first, Down and Out in Kathmandu, but I did it!

Is there a book you wish you had written?

There are so many! The Ghost by Robert Harris is a thriller that keeps you guessing right down to the last word. I am in awe of his writing, pacing, storyline, characters, and subject matter. It’s truly a brilliant book!

If you wrote an autobiography, what would your title be?

Adventures in Living. My life has been a series of happy coincidences I cannot fully explain. For whatever reason, I’m now in Amsterdam and love my expat life. I am truly thankful for every experience I’ve had along the way, even the bad ones.

If you could invite any fictional character for coffee who would it be and where would you take them?

It would be fun to walk around the Rijksmuseum with Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon and check the artwork for hidden clues.

Tell us about your last release? Do you have a new release due?

Rituals of the Dead is a thrilling mystery about Asmat artifacts, missionaries, smugglers and anthropologists. I cannot wait until April 6, when it is released as paperback and eBook!

It is set in present-day Amsterdam and Dutch New Guinea in the 1960s. I wanted to write a mystery around a bis pole, an ancestor object similar to a Native American totem pole. They are carved by the Asmat in Papua, a region in the Indonesian half of the island. Amsterdam plays a role because Zelda is working at an anthropological museum in the city on an exhibition of Asmat artifacts. However, Zelda’s experiences are far more thrilling than my own!

The storyline was inspired by collection research I conducted for a fascinating exhibition of Asmat art and artifacts called Bis poles: Sculptures of the Rainforest. It was held in the Amsterdam’s Tropenmuseum in 2008. While researching the histories of Asmat objects held in Dutch museum collections, I came across many bizarre stories about headhunting, crazy explorers and daring anthropologists. Those stories stuck with me long after the exhibition opened and eventually inspired this novel.

My intention in writing this book is not only to entertain readers, but also to inspire them to learn more about the Asmat and their fascinating culture. I can’t wait to share Rituals of the Dead with mystery and thriller fans!

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on book four in the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series. Zelda is once again embroiled in an art-related mystery. Italy will feature heavily in this novel about the mafia and art theft. It’s been fun researching the plot! Readers will have to wait a while for this one to be published as I’m only flushing out the first draft now. Though I think Zelda’s fans will enjoy the direction the series takes and the next art-related mystery to be solved.

What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?

An extended happy dance then a delicious meal and fine wine. The next day, it’s business as usual.

How can readers keep in touch with you?

I love to hear from readers! Facebook, my blog and Goodreads are the best places to ask questions or leave comments. You can also join my newsletter or connect with me on social media:





Instagram link:


Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Jennifer 🙂

Thank you for interviewing me, Kerry! I appreciate your insightful questions and interest in my books. Take care!


Rituals of the Dead: An Artifact Mystery

Rituals of the Dead

Art, religion, and anthropology collide in Alderson’s latest art mystery thriller, Rituals of the Dead, Book three of the Adventures of Zelda Richardson series.

Art history student Zelda Richardson is working at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam on an exhibition of bis poles from the Asmat region of Papua – the same area where a famous American anthropologist disappeared in 1962. When his journal is found inside one of the bis poles, Zelda is tasked with finding out more about the man’s last days and his connection to these ritual objects.

Zelda is pulled into a world of shady anthropologists, headhunters, missionaries, art collectors, and smugglers – where the only certainty is that sins of the past are never fully erased.

Join Zelda as she grapples with the anthropologist’s mysterious disappearance fifty years earlier, and a present-day murderer who will do anything to prevent her from discovering the truth.

Rituals of the Dead is now available as paperback and eBook on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Smashwords.

Purchase Book Links:








Author bio

Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. Her love of travel, art, and culture inspires her ongoing mystery series, the Adventures of Zelda Richardson. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels.

In Down and Out in Kathmandu, Zelda gets entangled with a gang of smugglers whose Thai leader believes she’s stolen his diamonds. The Lover’s Portrait is a suspenseful “whodunit?” about Nazi-looted artwork that transports readers to wartime and present-day Amsterdam. Art, religion, and anthropology collide in Rituals of the Dead, a thrilling artifact mystery set in Dutch New Guinea (Papua) and the Netherlands.

Her travelogue, Notes of a Naive Traveler, is a must read for those interested in learning more about – or wishing to – travel to Nepal and Thailand.

When not writing, Jennifer can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip. Visit Jennifer’s website to learn more about and buy her books:

Looking at the Stars by Lewis Hine @hine_hin #PublicationDay @BlinkPublishing @bonnier_publish @friendfinder10

Happy Publication Day, Lewis Hine 🙂

Looking at the Stars cover

I am currently reading this inspirational story, with thanks to Karen Browning at Blink Publishing for my beautiful hardback copy.

My review will follow shortly, but in the meantime I wanted to let you all know it is OUT TODAY 🙂

Buy your copy…..

Follow Lewis Hine on Twitter…..

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Follow on Facebook…..

Lewis Hine Official

Lewis Hine Friend Finder charity website –


88° North by J.F. Kirwan @kirwanjf #BlogTour #GuestPost @rararesources

88 North banner

Guest post by J. F. Kirwan…..

J F Kirwan

Writing realistic fight scenes

Guest blog by J F Kirwan

In 88 North, Nadia and her small entourage come up against a martial arts specialist called Blue Fan. The first third of the book is set in Hong Kong in triad territory, and there are several fight scenes without guns. This kind of stuff works well on the silver screen and gaming videos, but usually less so in books. Are you ever reading a thriller, and in a key scene there is a fight, but you get confused: the hero or villain seems to have three arms, or is facing one way then suddenly another, or else you just can’t visualise what is going on, and you really want to…?

Me too…

It’s not easy writing fight scenes – it’s hard for three main reasons. First, most writers have probably never been in a real fight, and being in a fight is completely different from watching one. Second, most readers don’t know karate, kung fu or wrestling, and so the various moves need to be explained in a way that is visual and understandable. If it’s simple and over quickly (e.g. A punched B in the gut, then knee’d B in the head as B doubled over), it can be done in a straightforward way. But if you want something more exotic, it’s harder. The third reason is related, since if you start over-describing things, many readers will disengage and lose interest just when you don’t want them to…

So, here are seven solutions I use.

First, I admit to having done a lot of martial arts over the years, including full-contact sparring, so I know what is possible, what is fantasy, and what it feels like (including being hit and even knocked out). You don’t have to know all that to write good fight scenes. But you do need a basic idea of anatomy…

Second, I write them out in full, as if choreographing a dance, because in a way that’s what such scenes are, and that’s how they are developed for the big screen. Then I pare the description back to give the minimal information that still makes it visualisable and understandable.

Third, I add in things that are visual to give it a cinematic feel so the reader can see these things even if the actual fight is less clear to them. Ordinary things – like the umbrella in the short extract below – rather than exotic artefacts.

Fourth I add in other visceral details (sound/touch/smell), to keep the reader engaged (thunder and warm rain in the extract below), so that it feels real rather than watching a video game.

Fifth, I raise the stakes for the reader by putting the central character in serious jeopardy, to engage the emotional connection between the reader and the central character. This is important: would you like a character that easily beat up someone? The line between hero and bully is quite thin (see for example the ‘ragged child’ in the extract below, who could so easily have become ‘collateral damage’).

Sixth, I add an environmental element, in the extract below, a cyclone, because the fight happens in Hong Kong (where I trained, incidentally) in August, which is cyclone season.

Last, I add a surprise, because, let’s face it, fight scenes have become ‘normal’, almost banal. It’s at the end of the Prologue (i.e. beyond the extract, as I have to leave you in some suspense J)

So, here’s a short extract from the Prologue, portraying two martial artists squaring up in a fight to the death on a market street in Wanchai district, Hong Kong, just as a cyclone hits the island…

Blue Fan heard it before she saw it: the stuttered hum of a bladed weapon tomahawking through the air. She dropped down low into a snake posture, right leg outstretched on the soggy ground, left leg bent double, as the axe missed her and squelched into the forehead of a balding man holding an umbrella, his shirt spattered by rain, a sheen of sweat on his face from the intense humidity. Until a moment ago he’d been next in line to buy fish. He keeled over, rigid, silent, already dead, eyes unseeing, the umbrella falling with him like a frozen parachute. Blue Fan triangulated the position of the attacker behind her, and was about to let one of her razor fan-knives slip from her fingers, when a ragged child ran across her path.

Time slowed. Her eyes met the assassin’s: an athletic male with jet black hair lashed back in a ponytail, a tiger tattoo on his inner forearm, its front claws outstretched, its jaw set in an eternal, angry roar. Others around her suddenly caught up with events. A woman screamed. The fishmonger vanished into the dark recesses of her shop, while another shopkeeper stumbled backwards and tripped over his wares, upsetting water-filled cartons, spilling gawping koi and angry crabs onto the cobbled pavement. People ran. The attacker removed two more short axes from his belt, one in each hand, and crossed them in front of him as he faced her. A male tourist tried to video them, until Blue Fan skewered his iPhone with one of her blades. He stared at it a moment, then dashed off.

Thunder cracked, loud and close. Warm rain lashed down, drenching everything. Wind whipped water into her eyes. The cyclone was early. On cue, the siren wailed, and everyone vanished.

Good. Now it was just the two of them.

Thanks so much for writing a great guest post for Chat About Books, J. F. Kirwan. It’s a pleasure to be a part of your blog tour!

Thanks, as always, to Rachel for her hard work and for the opportunity to take part.

88 North cover

88° North

The deadliest kind of assassin is one who is already dying…

As the radiation poisoning that Nadia Laksheva was exposed to in Chernobyl takes hold of her body, she knows she has mere weeks to live. But Salamander, the terrorist who murdered her father and sister has a deadly new plan to ‘make the sky bleed’. Nadia is determined to stop him again, even if it is the last thing she ever does.

The only clue she has are the coordinates 88˚ North, a ridge in the Arctic right above one of the largest oil fields in the world, three thousand metres below the ice. If Salamander takes hold of the oil field, he could change the climate of the whole planet for generations to come…

But can Nadia stop him before her own time runs out?

The gripping third and final novel in J.F. Kirwan’s brilliant spy thriller series. Perfect for fans of Charles Cumming, Mark Dawson and Adam Brookes.

Purchase from Amazon UK –

Author Bio

J. F. Kirwan is the author of the Nadia Laksheva thriller series for HarperCollins. Having worked in accident investigation and prevention in nuclear, offshore oil and gas and aviation sectors, he uses his experience of how accidents initially build slowly, then race towards a climax, to plot his novels. An instructor in both scuba diving and martial arts, he travels extensively all over the world, and loves to set his novels in exotic locations. He is also an insomniac who writes in the dead of night. His favourite authors include Lee Child, David Baldacci and Andy McNab.

J F Kirwan 2





Previous posts on Chat About Books featuring J. F. Kirwan and his books…..

66 Metres #BlogTour J.F. Kirwan @kirwanjf #GuestPost @rararesources

37 Hours by J.F. Kirwan @kirwanjf #BlogTour #AuthorInterview @rararesources


#Poetry #Events in #StokeonTrent @SoTLibraries

Postcard Poets.pdf

Postcard Poets

Saturday 14 April, 11am-12noon

City Central Library, Hanley

Cost: free

You may have seen some of the beautiful poetry postcards, produced by Poetry On Loan and available in libraries. We’re very pleased that three of the poets whose work is featured on these postcards – Jonny Fluffypunk, Simon Fletcher and Dave Reeves – will read and perform at City Central Library.

Contact City Central Library to book your free place

Tel: 01782 238455



Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists

Friday 18 May, 7.30pm

City Central Library, Hanley

Cost: £3 including refreshments

What happens when three poets meet up in a pub and decide to put on a show? Join nationally-acclaimed poets Dave Pitt, Emma Purshouse and Steve Pottinger as they come together to plot their path to fame and fortune – will they be distracted by beer and scratchings? Will they put the world to rights? Creative performance poetry at its very best – may contain language!

Contact City Central Library to book your place

 Tel: 01782 238455




The Zero and the One by Ryan Ruby @Legend_Press #BlogTour #Extract & #Giveaway

Today I have the pleasure of joining in with Ryan Ruby’s The Zero and the One blog tour. 

Many thanks as always to Imogen, at Legend Press, for the opportunity to take part and for offering a paperback copy of The Zero and the One for me to giveaway to one of you lucky people!

Zero and the One blog tour



The ritual that can withstand the deadening weight of its own unbroken repetition has yet to be choreographed. Any ritual so rigid that it fails to include the means of its own periodic suspension is bound to go extinct. Pembroke is one of the smallest and poorest of Oxford’s colleges. The Cotswold stone buildings seem to turn inward, away from bustling St. Aldate’s, as if ashamed of the plainness of their features. The Old Quad, where I was given rooms, lies quite literally in the shadow of the fairer sister over the road. Tourists would come from round the world to visit Pembroke Square, only to turn their backs on our Porter’s Lodge so they could have a better angle from which to snap a photograph of Tom Tower, the lavishly ornamented gateway to Christ Church. The college was old enough to have produced a few notable alumni, but the most famous of them, Samuel Johnson, was sent down after a year for a lack of funds. Today, its students are better known for the speed of their oars on the Isis than the speed of their pens in the Exam Schools. It is largely made up of those like me, who have what the Student Union euphemistically calls non-traditional backgrounds, and who were only able to attend the oldest university in England by grace of what the Bursar called, rather less euphemistically, hardship grants. (Mine in particular were financed by the sale, a few years previously, of Man in a Chair, an early painting by Francis Bacon, a poster of which was the only decoration on the walls of my rooms.) Rounding out the Junior Common Room were the thicker products of the public schools, Erasmus scholars from the continent, and Americans on their year abroad. Of this last group there were around twenty, paying American tuition fees to add English polish to their CVs. The reason for their presence at Pembroke was nakedly economic, a way for a college whose endowment consisted almost entirely of subsidies from its wealthier neighbours to generate a bit of additional revenue. They were lodged in the back staircases of the North Quad, on the main site, with the rest of us first years. Though they were only two years older than I, and though they were living, many for the first time, in a country not their own, this slight difference in age lent them an air of cosmopolitan sophistication; I certainly wasn’t the only one to regard the visiting students, as they were called, more as elders than as peers. For better or worse, they generally had the run of the place. Zach was not long in distinguishing himself, mostly through skirmishes with various members of the college staff concerning the finer points of college etiquette. The first time I recall seeing him, he was being reprimanded by Richard Hughes, the Head Porter, a lean and sallow-faced man in his fifties, whose fingernails were worn longer than his sense of humour. I remember looking out my window to see what the fuss was about below. Zach, it seems, had walked across the immaculate square of lawn in the Old Quad on his way to the pantry. Not content to defer to authority — or local custom — he was demanding, in those flat syllables I’d come to know so well, the explanation for such an absurd rule. The one he was given (“only fellows and newlyweds are permitted to walk on the lawn of the Old Quad”) didn’t satisfy him. He demanded another. The exasperated Head Porter told him that it was “out of respect for the sleep of the dead monks who are buried there.” To this he nodded, convinced and perhaps a tad impressed. But whenever he walked through the Old Quad, he made sure to toe the cobblestones near the edge of the lawn, not seeming to care, now that he had been reprimanded, that he was liable to pay a fine if he lost his balance. A fortnight later, I was sitting alone at what had already become my regular seat at my regular table, reading whilst I waited for Formal Hall to begin. I was dressed subfusc— jacket, white bowtie (in my case poorly knotted), black commoner’s gown— the requisite attire. Zach arrived in the company of Gregory Glass, in the middle of a heated political debate. “I can’t believe what I’m hearing!” Gregory was saying. The other visiting student from Columbia, Gregory was short and barrel-chested, with long curly brown hair that was held off his face, no matter what time of day, by a sporty pair of sunglasses. I’d already seen him several times at macroeconomics lectures, furiously scribbling away in the front row. That term, not a single lecture would conclude without Gregory raising his hand to ask a question, or rather, to give a meandering observation in an interrogative tone. He asked me if they could sit at my table and, without waiting to hear my answer, continued talking to his friend. “Don’t tell me,” he said, in a voice that could be heard from one end of the hall to the other, “you’re going to throw your vote away on Nader!” “I’m not throwing away my vote,” Zach replied, perfectly calm. “I’m not voting.” “But it’s your duty to vote! You complain about the government all the time, but when you’re given the chance to actually change things, you throw it—” “See, that’s where you’re wrong. My vote doesn’t actually change anything. Nor does yours, Greg. You and I are registered in states that have already pledged their electors to Gore. And anyway, on the major issues there is a consensus between the two parties that differs only in rhetorical emphasis. During the presidential debates, the questions are never How should we organize our economy? but What flavor of capitalism would you like? Never What role should the United States have in the world? but How blatant should we be about our empire? Third-party candidates like Nader, who at least would give the election the veneer of choice, are marginalized into irrelevance by unregulated campaign finance laws and” — here he pointed a finger at Gregory — “the bad-faith scare tactics of pseudo-leftists and lesser-evil socialists like you.” Fuming, Gregory tried to respond to this accusation, but Zach sped to his next point before he could get a word in. “So don’t tell me it’s my duty to accept this state of affairs. It’s not my duty to give legitimacy to this farce we call democracy. Under the present conditions, voting is one of those customs more honored in the breach than the observance.” Gregory looked like he was going to lean across the table and grab Zach by the bowtie to get him to stop talking. To make sure he wouldn’t be interrupted again, he almost shouted his rejoinder. “Man, you’re so full of shit! I’d rather be a ‘pseudo-leftist’ than the beautiful soul who’s scared to get his hands dirty in actual politics. You think of yourself as a purist, but you’re just a cynic with a trust fund. You talk about not being able to opt out of capitalism? Why would you even want to? You’re its beneficiary! I’ve never met anyone more bourgeois than you.” “As Marx defined bourgeois, maybe,” Zach said, with a dismissive twirl of his wrist. “But not as Flaubert defined it. Speaking of cynicism, Comrade Glass, let’s say for the sake of discussion that your socialist dream is realized on earth. Poverty is eradicated, exploitation rooted out, war declared a thing of the past, and total freedom of thought is granted to all. That’s the idea, right? Now, will mankind hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, raise cattle in the evening, and criticize after dinner, as Marx predicted?” he asked, counting off each activity on his fingers before answering his own question. “No! They’ll shop in the morning, fill their prescriptions in the afternoon, watch TV in the evening, and die of boredom after dinner! Stupidity is not just the result of false consciousness and organized oppression. It’s the natural condition of the vast majority of mankind. It’s the one thing that is equally distributed among the rich and the poor. Solving our political and economic problems will do nothing to answer the question, Why bother? In fact, all evidence suggests that it will only make that question more difficult to answer.” Meanwhile, the hall had filled up with students and the fellows of the college had taken their places at the High Table. In a slow roll, the current of conversation ebbed and the hall flooded with the sound of bustling chairs as we all stood to hear the Classics Tutor recite the Latin Grace. All save Zach, that is, who remained seated. He took the opportunity to slide my book close enough to him to get a better view of the cover. He tapped the title with two fingers — I was reading The Birth of Tragedy — and nodded with approval. Grace concluded, the sound of conversation and sliding chairs and clanking cutlery resumed. The waiting staff appeared and began to place the starters on our plates. Gregory returned to his seat and gave Zach a stern look. “I bet you were the kid in homeroom who refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.” “We didn’t have homeroom at The Gansevoort School, Greg.” The Hall Manager had also noticed the sole seated student and went to enquire into this breach of conduct. The Hall Manager was called Mr. Stroop, a squat man well past middle age, whom I couldn’t stand. Stroop had worked at Pembroke for over a decade, but was far less convincing than the Head Porter in performing his role as the guardian of the college’s traditions and values. It was precisely in his comical assiduousness that he betrayed his working-class origins. No one who belonged at Oxford, who was slated to go there from birth, from before their birth, cared half so much for the college’s traditions and values as he did. This confounded and perplexed him, but as he did not understand why it was the case, he was undeterred in his mission. Queuing up at the pantry one day, I heard him correct the pronunciation of an American who had ordered his sandwich without tomato. “It’s toh-mah-toe,” he said. “Not toh-may-toe. You’ve come all this way to receive a proper education. You should at least learn how to order a sandwich.” A proper education. One he himself had not received. A fact that was not lost on the American, who sneered at this bit of servility and told him to bring the sandwich “without toh-mah-toe. Right quick!” Which Stroop did, causing me to wince. Implying he couldn’t hear what was being said over the general din, though he must have known quite well what the Hall Manager was there to discuss, Zach motioned him closer to his ear. Stroop stooped as he was told and the whole table quieted down to listen to what promised to be a duel of insincere politeness. “Mr. Foedern —” “How may I be of help, sir?” “I couldn’t help but notice that you — and you alone — were not standing during the recitation of Grace.” “Yes, sir, you’ll have to forgive me. You see, I don’t speak Latin.” “Don’t speak Latin? I’m afraid I don’t see what that’s got to do with it.” “I’ll explain. To stand means to assent, no?” “To stand? Yes, I reckon…” “Well, there you have it. I can’t assent if I don’t understand what’s being said. And I can’t stand if I don’t assent. So perhaps you’ll be so good as to translate the Grace for me so I can decide whether I assent or not.” Zach batted his eyelashes with feigned innocence and, receiving no response from the flustered Hall Manager — whose only Latin, needless to say, was Veni vidi vici and Dominus illuminatio mea — tucked into his prawns. Mr. Stroop interrupted him to escort him to the High Table so the Classics Tutor could translate the Grace for him. I watched Zach listen gravely, exchange a few words with Stroop, and return to his place at the table. But he did not sit down. He poured himself another glass of wine and drank it in a single swallow. “Now that I understand,” he told us, “I definitely do not assent.” “Where are you going?” Gregory demanded. “To Hassan’s,” Zach said, referring to the kebab van on Broad Street. “I’m sure they will agree with my position on the Latin Grace.” I never again saw Zach attend Formal Hall, but I noticed that during every subsequent Grace, one or two students remained seated, small acts of rebellion that would plague Mr. Stroop until the end of the year.

The Zero and the One cover

A bookish scholarship student, Owen Whiting has high hopes of Oxford, only to find himself immediately out of place. Then he meets Zachary Foedern from New York. Rich and charismatic, Zach takes Owen under his wing, introducing him to a world Owen has only ever read about.

From Oxford to the seedy underbelly of Berlin, they dare each other to transgress the boundaries of convention and morality, until Zach proposes the greatest transgression of all: a suicide pact. But when Zach’s plans go horribly awry, Owen is left to pick up the pieces and navigate the boundaries between illusion and reality to preserve a hold on his once bright future.
Ryan Ruby



For your chance to win a paperback copy of The Zero and the One (UK ONLY!) all you need to do is comment ‘Yes please’ at the bottom of this post and I will choose a winner at random.

*The book will be sent directly from the publisher once I have passed on the winner’s details*

Thanks is advance for taking part!

Good luck!