Donkey Boy and other stories by Mary Smith #amreading

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Donkey Boy and other stories is a pot-pourri of tales that could accompany you on a journey to pick up and read in instalments, or you might find, like me, that you end up reading one story after another, late into the night.

 
Each tale introduces a character, either from home or abroad, with whom the reader can empathise. Their concerns may be amusing or distressing but they all concern human nature, good and bad.

 
I was particularly taken by two stories which have been performed; Trouble with Socks and Asylum Seekers. The latter, an ironic monologue of prejudice, pertinent to the world we live in today and Trouble with Socks expressing the feelings of the delightful George who is patronised by a “caring” auxiliary. The last story The Thing in Your Eye was a surprise and I am still unsure of my response. I think I need to re-read it.

 
There is great sadness in some of the early tales but also determination to walk away from grief, but for me Donkey Boy, about Ali, who drives a donkey cart for his father, deserves its place as the title story. It shows the contrast between different values; in the first and third world, between men and women and between youthful hope and cynicism. These stories are easy to read quickly, but they stay in your mind to mull over for some time.

 

You can buy Donkey Boy and other stories on Amazon UK

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Mary Smith has always loved writing. As a child she wrote stories in homemade books made from wallpaper trimmings – but she never thought people could grow up and become real writers. She spent a year working in a bank, which she hated – all numbers, very few words – ten years with Oxfam in the UK, followed by ten years working in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She wanted others to share her amazing, life-changing experiences so she wrote about them – fiction, non-fiction, poetry and journalism. And she discovered the little girl who wrote stories had become a real writer after all.

 
Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women is an account of her time in Afghanistan and her debut novel No More Mulberries is also set in Afghanistan.

 
Mary loves interacting with her readers and her website is www.marysmith.co.uk.

 

My review of Mary’s book No More Mulberries is here

 

 

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How I Motivated Myself to Succeed by @ShelleyWilson72 #GuestPost

I am a great admirer of the energy and creativity of Shelley Wilson, so I’m thrilled to be part of the Blog Tour for her new book How I Motivated Myself to Succeed.  In her Guest Post below, Shelley explains how to set goals for yourself.

Blog Tour Banner for Shelley Wilson HIMMTS

How to Write a Successful Bucket List

It still feels strange when I’m asked to speak at networking events, or run workshops about goal setting and list writing. It’s only in the last ten years that I’ve actively taken steps to write a bucket list and pushed myself to achieve the goals I decided upon. To suddenly be called upon to help others embrace the goal setting phenomenon is both humbling and exciting.

When I ran my holistic health spa, I felt honoured to be included in my clients’ journey of self-care and personal development. We all face those times in our life when enough is enough, and things need to change. There are numerous reasons for this of course, from health related issues to loss and grief or redundancy.

For many years I drifted through life without any clear path. In my thirties, I became a single mum to three very small children, and so goal setting was the furthest thing from my mind. It was only as my children reached their teenage years, and grew in confidence, that I began to think about myself.

Looking after my own needs was an alien concept at first. Surely it’s a selfish act to think about oneself when you have three children to look after, friends to care about, parents to worry about? When I did eventually begin to write my bucket list, I realised how important it was to look after myself. I’m a great believer in the concept of ‘you can’t fix others if you are broken.’ And so my goal setting journey began.

Whether you decide to call this your bucket list, goal setting, resolutions, or a to-do list makes no difference to the outcome. It’s all about the action you take to make things happen.

I started small. My first goal was the relatively simple task of attracting ten new Facebook followers to my author page by the end of the month.

Eventually, my ambitions grew until my bucket list included more variety. These included:

Write two books a year.

Travel to one new holiday destination a year with my children.

Enjoy family fun days once a month (minimum).

It was thanks to my goal setting techniques that I began blogging back in 2013.

How successful you are at achieving your goals is dependent on several factors. The first is whether or not you are one-hundred per-cent committed to your goal, and the second is factoring in time to work on what you’ve written down.

For my ‘write two books a year’ goal I need to be dedicated and organised with my time. Only then will I achieve success. Enjoying a family fun day once a month means I need to coordinate my children so we all know what day we are heading off and where we are going.

There’s one question I get asked more often about setting goals, and that’s ‘when is the best time to start?’ My answer is always the same ‘Now! Don’t wait for a Monday, a New Year, or the right time because it’ll never arrive. Write your bucket list today and take those action steps to achieve your dreams.’

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my wonderful host, Liz, for being a part of my blog tour. Thank you for reading and be sure to check out the other host spots for more inspiration, motivation, and a sprinkle of fun.

 

If you would like to read more about Shelley’s goal setting techniques then take a look at her new release, How I Motivated Myself to Succeed, out now in paperback and eBook, and packed full of information on self-care, freeing yourself from fear, organising your life, and much more.  You can order it on Amazon UK or Amazon US

 

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Shelley is a multi-genre author of non-fiction self-help and young adult fantasy fiction. Her latest release, How I Motivated Myself to Succeed is being dubbed as the sequel-that’s-not-a-sequel to her bestselling book, How I Changed My Life in a Year. She writes a personal development blog (www.motivatemenow.co.uk) as well as an author blog (www.shelleywilsonauthor.com) where she shares book reviews, author interviews, and random musings about writing. Shelley was thrilled to win the Most Inspirational Blogger.  She is also on Twitter www.twitter.com/ShelleyWilson72 and Facebook www.facebook.com/MotivateMeBlog and Instagram www.instagram.com/authorslwilson

Blog Tour Schedule - HIMMTS

 

 

Merle: A French Murder Mystery by Angela Wren #BookTour

 

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After reading Messandrierre earlier in the year I was looking forward to the next Jacques Forêt mystery set in rural France. Jacques is a considerate likeable detective who has now left the police force and is a private investigator working for Alain Vaux of Vaux Investments. Initially his task was to find the source of industrial espionage which is causing Alain’s company to loss contracts and money, but as we learn at the beginning of the book, there is now a link to murder.

On the personal front, Beth Samuels has returned from England. Will he be able to persuade her to move in with him and stay in France? She is looking into the possibility of setting up a photography business and in the meantime, is helping Jacques to follow leads.

The plot is complex, involving several employees, one of them Jacques’ old flame, Madeleine Cloutier. She seems to be flirting with him but he tries to keep his distance since she is one of the suspects. This reminds Jacques of his reason for leaving the gendarmerie in Paris and adds depth to our understanding of his character.

The investigation of weaknesses in IT security and unprofessional behaviour from some of the employees occurs against the background of a sinister figure who is a threat to Jacques and Beth. I would have liked to have read more about Jacques and Beth’s relationship but the intriguing murder mystery builds up to a thrilling conclusion.

Book Blurb

Jacques Forêt, a former gendarme turned investigator, delves into the murky world of commercial sabotage – a place where people lie and misrepresent, and where information is traded and used as a threat.

The Vaux organisation is losing contracts and money, and Jacques is asked to undertake an internal investigation. As he works through the complexity of all the evidence, he finds more than he bargained for, and his own life is threatened. 

When a body of a woman is found, it appears to be suicide. But as the investigation takes another turn, Jacques suspects there is more to it. 

Who is behind it all…and why? Will Jacques find the answer before another person ends up dead?

Angela Wren

Angela Wren

You can read my review of the first Jacques Forêt mystery Messandriere here

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Buy the book on AmazonUK

Tipping Point by Terry Tyler #BookReview #NewRelease

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How would we cope if all social media disappeared followed by Google and the whole internet, if family and friends fell ill and died and public utilities ceased to function?

“Only Twitter, the domain of conspiracy theorists, anarchists, artists and writers clung on.”

I have always enjoyed Terry Tyler’s character driven contemporary stories about realistic people I felt I knew but I was unsure of how I would react to a post-apocalypse novel, which is not my usual choice of genre. Well, I was blown away by how compelling I found this story. There are thrilling, edge of the seat events, a very likeable heroine and a convincing plot.

What struck me early in the story, when young mother, Vicky described events leading up to the “tipping point,” in August 2024, was that the book addresses the concerns we have now, of intolerance, reduction of public services and the burden of providing for an increasing population.

Vicky lived in a small Norfolk town on the coast with her partner Dex and teenage daughter, Lottie. Dex, a college lecturer, is concerned about covert Government intelligence agencies and advises Vicky not to give away too much about her private life, online. He belongs to an organisation called Unicorn who distrust government motives and action. As a new social networking site called Private Lives, promising absolute security, replaces the established websites, there is news of a lethal epidemic in Africa, which might spread.

After Dex disappears, Vicky soon loses her naivety and she and Lottie become closer as they escape military forces trapping them in their home. Travelling to a “Safe House” in Tyne and Wear where they hope to see Dex, they find themselves in extremely dangerous situations and have to make judgements as to whom they can trust. In the Safe House, a group of disparate individuals must learn to live together and become aware that twenty first century life is never going to be the same again.

In other chapters, we meet Travis and Aria, who have been working for the government on “Project Renova,” but discover that they too are trapped, partly as a result of the actions of a socially inadequate individual who has deliberately created chaos. There is also Wedge, an escapee from a high security prison who is the last person any of them would wish to meet.

This is a story of how we can stumble blindly into disaster, not just as individuals but also as a nation. It is highly relevant to the present day where we are only concerned about our own small world. It is also a damn good read with the feel of a film script where we are both observers and closely involved in the experiences of Vicky and Lottie. A must read and ….. there will be more to follow.

You can find Tipping Point on Amazon UK

 

 

The Redoubtable Miss Fisher #amreading #BookReview #TVcrime

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I have recently become a fan of the wonderful Miss Fisher mysteries on TV. Set in Melbourne during the 1920s, the programmes show beautiful architecture and clothes to die for. The plots are reminiscent of Miss Marple or Agatha Raisin so I decided it was time to read one of the many books about this incredible heroine.

Looking for a story I had not seen on television I chose Book 9, Raisins and Almonds.

Raisins & Almonds

Phryne Fisher is a wealthy single woman with a busy household including two adopted daughters, Ebony the cat, Molly the puppy and her staff. Elegantly dressed, at all times, Miss Fisher is a passionate, pleasure loving woman who strives for justice, using her intellect to solve crimes which defeat the police force. She takes in waifs and strays because she remembers poverty in her childhood and her wealth has not made her proud or snobbish.

This mystery centres on the busy Eastern Market, where the victim has been murdered with strychnine, in a book shop belonging to Miss Lee. Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, a less attractive character than he appears in the TV series, immediately arrests Miss Lee as the chief suspect, but Phryne’s help is enlisted by Miss Lee’s Jewish landlord, Mr Abrahams, to find the real culprit. Embarking on an intimate love affair with Mr Abraham’s beautiful young son, Miss Fisher also explores the Jewish community and the dabbling in alchemy by those studying the Kabbalah.

Aided by her reliable assistant, Dot, and handy Jacks of all trades, Bert and Cec, while being consulted unofficially by Inspector Robinson, Phryne makes progress but brings herself and those she loves into danger. The author has thoroughly researched ancient Jewish beliefs as well as the problems of living in an anti-Semitic society.

The author has a witty turn of phrase and has created delightful characters. This mystery is an easy read, with an imaginative plot and a novel setting.

Raisins and Almonds is available at Amazon UK

Kerry

Kerry Greenwood

Kerry Greenwood was born in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray and after wandering far and wide, she returned to live there. She has a degree in English and Law from Melbourne University and was admitted to the legal profession on the 1st April 1982, a day which she finds both soothing and significant.

Kerry has written twenty novels, a number of plays, including The Troubadours with Stephen D’Arcy, is an award-winning children’s writer and has edited and contributed to several anthologies. In 1996 she published a book of essays on female murderers called Things She Loves: Why women Kill.

The Phryne Fisher series (pronounced Fry-knee, to rhyme with briny) began in 1989 with Cocaine Blues which was a great success. Kerry has written thirteen books in this series with no sign yet of Miss Fisher hanging up her pearl-handled pistol. Kerry says that as long as people want to read them, she can keep writing them.

Kerry Greenwood has worked as a folk singer, factory hand, director, producer, translator, costume-maker, cook and is currently a solicitor. When she is not writing, she works as a locum solicitor for the Victorian Legal Aid. She is also the unpaid curator of seven thousand books, three cats (Attila, Belladonna and Ashe) and a computer called Apple (which squeaks). She embroiders very well but cannot knit. She has flown planes and leapt out of them (with a parachute) in an attempt to cure her fear of heights (she is now terrified of jumping out of planes but can climb ladders without fear). She can detect second-hand bookshops from blocks away and is often found within them.

For fun Kerry reads science fiction/fantasy and detective stories. She is not married, has no children and lives with a registered wizard. When she is not doing any of the above she stares blankly out of the window.

Messandrierre: Murder in rural France by Angela Wren #TuesdayBookBlog

The First Jacques Forêt Mystery

Messandrierre

Jacques Forêt, an intelligent, considerate policeman, is vegetating in the small French village of Messandrierre, after leaving the challenging environment of Paris, so he is concerned when his unpleasant commander, Fournier, tells him to ignore the unexplained disappearance of three young adults, last seen nearby.  He is determined to continue his investigations, especially when he discovers that there have been more disappearances.

 

Meanwhile, Beth, a young British widow, has returned to the village intending to sell the cottage her husband had bought, but she is unsettled by the discovery that he had been keeping a secret from her for most of their married life.   Jacques tries to persuade her to stay in France but when she appears to be involved in his case, life becomes complicated.

 

Messandrierre is peopled by an assortment of French and British characters, who might all be suspects and there are plenty of red herrings.  The murder mystery is intriguing, as is the on/off romance between Jacques and Beth and the description of this part of rural France is vivid and believable.  I look forward to Jacques next investigation in Merle, published this month.

Angela Wren

From Angela Wren’s Author Page:

I’m an actor and director at a small theatre a few miles from where I live in the county of Yorkshire in the UK. I did work as a project and business change manager – very pressured and very demanding – but I managed to escape and now I write books.

I’ve always loved stories and story telling so it seemed a natural progression, to me, to try my hand at writing and I started with short stories. My first published story was in an anthology, which was put together by the magazine ‘Ireland’s Own’ and published in 2011.

I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.

My full-length stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year. I’m currently working on the follow-up to Messandrierre and an anthology of alternative fairy tales which I intend to self-publish.

Down and Out in Kathmandu: A Backpacker Mystery by Jennifer S Alderson #TuesdayBookBlog

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Down and Out in Kathmandu is the first adventure of Zelda Richardson.  I came to it having already met the determined Zelda on her second adventure in The Lover’s Portrait.  In this earlier story, Zelda has just left her secure IT job in Seattle to volunteer as an English teacher near Kathmandu for 3 months.  Nepal proves to be a culture shock and the work a hard task for a young woman with no teaching experience or training.  She must live with a Nepali family who live a more western life than she had expected and yet she has to adapt to a very different diet including freshly slaughtered goat.

But first Zelda encounters Ian, an Australian backpacker who has taken a break in his teaching career to find pleasure and marijuana in Kathmandu.  They spend time together exploring the city, but part when Zelda commences her volunteer work.  With his dreadlocks and casual attitude, Ian seems less appealing than Zelda, but gradually I warmed to him.

The third character in the novel was a surprise.  Tommy is an unpleasant wastrel, bumming around in Thailand but wishing to return to Toronto as a successful man.  He decides to make his fortune by double-crossing the Greek, a gangster for whom he smuggles jewels.  He is doomed to fail but what can this have to do with Ian and Zelda?

The three threads are drawn together towards the end of the story after we follow Zelda’s failure as a teacher and her anger at the way the Rana family try to use her to further their ambitions for their children.  Jennifer Alderson’s knowledge of Kathmandu bring the poverty, dirt, danger and beauty to life and add credibility to the dramatic later chapters.  It is events in the city which most caught my imagination but Zelda’s experiences based on Jennifer’s life are very interesting.  I would like to have read more about her experiences but this would have weakened the structure of the dramatic events.

A very readable story set in a fascinating world and a great introduction to this likeable heroine and I will follow my interest in Nepal and Thailand by reading Jennifer’s book Notes of a Naive Traveler

You can find Down and Out in Kathmandu on Amazon UK or Amazon US

 

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Jennifer S. Alderson worked as a journalist and website developer in Seattle, Washington before trading her financial security for a backpack. After travelling extensively around Asia and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before finally settling in the Netherlands. Home is now Amsterdam, where she lives with her Dutch husband and young son.

Jennifer’s travels and experiences colour and inform her internationally-oriented fiction.

Her first novel, Down and Out in Kathmandu: A Backpacker Mystery, is a travel fiction adventure through Nepal and Thailand.

The Lover’s Portrait: An Art Mystery, her second book, is a suspenseful ‘whodunit?’ which transports readers to wartime and present day Amsterdam.

Both are part of an on-going stand-alone series following the adventures of traveller and culture lover, Zelda Richardson. The third installment, another art-related travel thriller (working title: Smuggler’s Deceit) will be released in the Autumn 2017.

Her travelogue, Notes of a Naive Traveler: Nepal and Thailand, is now available as paperback and eBook. It is a must-read for those interested in learning more about, or wishing to travel to Nepal and Thailand.