Imago by Celina Grace #FridayReads #BookReview

Imago

Imago is the third book of the Kate Redman Mystery series featuring a young, female detective, fighting crime and pursuing justice, in the fictional West Country town of Abbeyford.

Having read two other books in this series (though not in the right order!) I knew I would enjoy meeting this hard-working, compassionate policewoman again.  This time Kate, her friend Detective Sergeant Mark Olbeck and her boss, Detective Chief Inspector Anderton have to solve the murder of a young prostitute, stabbed with a steak knife, and soon they begin to wonder if the crime has been committed by a serial killer.

As Mark settles down in domestic harmony with his partner, Kate begins to realise how lonely she is, but she tries to keep to herself the growing feelings she has for her boss.  Meanwhile she is trying to build up her fitness to participate in a half marathon and at the same time, deal with the hostility of Jerry, an older police constable who resents her.

This book is filled with tension and thrilling episodes.  We read the murderer’s diary, looking for clues and motive.  The reason for the title of this novel is intriguing.  The plot builds up to an exciting climax, as Kate thinks she has identified the killer and there is an exciting final twist to the story which will keep you on the edge of your seat.

You can purchase Imago on Amazon UK

or on Amazon US

Celina Grace

Celina Grace

I tried to get traditionally published as a writer for a long time. A loooooooong time. I make it fifteen years and counting….

I’ve also been writing for as long as I can really remember. I wrote my first story, The Blue Ruby, when I was about seven. Throughout college and university, I experimented with screenplays and scripts (I was studying Film and English at the time at the University of East Anglia), as well as other more short stories. In my twenties, I started my first novel, finished it, then my second, then my third. In my thirties, I was slightly side-tracked by the birth of my son but, leaving aside that trifling distraction, managed to write my fourth..

I didn’t bother trying to get the first novel published as I saw it as more of a practise run at this business of being an author. With the second, I entered the 2004 Lit Idol competition and got to third place. That was my ticket to publication, I thought, surely? Hah! Just the first in a long line of disappointments, of which every writer must be familiar… hopes built up to then be smacked down again. I had an agent approach me after the competition and on their encouragement, I finished, edited and polished the manuscript, sent it off to them with happy hopes – to be told months later that they didn’t think it was quite right for them..

Gutted, but enthusiasm relatively undimmed, I started on a new novel, inspired in part by the dramatic events of 2005 – the London bombings. I also wrote a short story at the same time on the same subject – it was on my mind a lot that summer (unsurprisingly. Freedom Fighter is the story – available on Amazon as part of A Blessing From The Obeah Man short story collection). This novel The House on Fever Street was shortlisted for the 2006 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. Aha, I thought, a fairly prestigious and industry recognised award. This will get me published. Did it? Did it buggery!

The House on Fever Street was also longlisted in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award of that year, which garnered me some nice reviews and a much needed ego boost but didn’t advance my career as a published author much further..

So what next for our doughty heroine? She ups and writes her fourth novel, gains an agent and thinks now, now I have finally made it as a published author! And she waits. And waits. And waits some more. And then waits a bit more. And a bit more. Finally, for variety, she waits a bit more..

So, after two years of waiting, reading about self-publishing on Amazon and other platforms, I believe a phrase that ends in ‘…for a game of soldiers’ passed my lips and I decide to publish myself. So I did. I think I made about £10 in my first month of publishing. Fast forward three years and here I am, a full time indie author, a Top 100 UK Amazon bestseller, having reached half a million readers. Couldn’t be happier!

Celina Grace

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An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy by June Kearns #Fridayread

Cowboy

This was a book I didn’t want to finish.  A romantic adventure set in the American wild west in 1867, in which the dignity and etiquette of an English lady is contrasted dramatically with the frank, masculine power of a half-breed cowboy.  But this is an oversimplification.  Annie Haddon is no simpering socialite.  Tolerated and put upon by her harsh Aunt Bea and treated abominably by her spoilt cousin Charlotte, she is the poor spinster expected to respond to all their whims, even when crammed into a stifling, hot stage-coach.

 

But everything changes when Annie finds herself trapped under the crashed coach, abandoned by her family.  Enter her saviour, Colt McCall, half Sioux, half Irish, who hates English women.  The dialogue-driven plot reveals much about Annie’s sad life and also her determination, but McCall keeps most of his secrets.  At times these two disparate characters argue bitterly, as Annie tries to keep her respectable clothes and behaviour, but they find they have more in common than they expected.

 

The witty conversation and obvious blossoming attraction between the two, take place against the prejudice and arrogance of cavalry officers, English visitors and land-grabbers.  Annie struggles to stand up for herself, unaware that she is being manipulated.  Can she trust Colt when another more attractive woman is close to him?  This is a recipe for misunderstanding and tragedy, but Annie has native magic on her side.

 

There is great humour in the story, each chapter beginning with a delightful quote from “The Gentlewoman’s Guide to Good Travel,” but there is also a moral to the tale which I found in a native American proverb.

“Listen to the wind, it talks.

Listen to the silence, it speaks.

Listen to your heart, it knows.”

I do urge you to read this unusual love story.

An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy can be purchased on Amazon UK

June Kearns

June Kearns lives in Leicestershire with her family, and writes in a warm corner next to the airing cupboard, a bit like a mouse’s nest.

When she left teaching, June won a national magazine competition for the first chapter of an historical novel. After many, many more hours watching cowboy heroes bring order west of the Pecos, this became her first novel, An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy.

Her next book The 20’s Girl, was inspired by the fabulous style and fashion of the 1920s, and that time in England after the Great War, of crumbling country houses and very few marriageable men.

June is now writing another period romantic comedy set in London in the 1960s.

The American Boy by Andrew Taylor

 

 

 

As Andrew Taylor’s latest book, The Ashes of London, is featured everywhere at present, I have put it on my TBR list. In the meantime, I am looking back at his earlier historical mystery, The American Boy.

Interweaving real and fictional elements, The American Boy is a literary historical crime novel in the tradition of Possession.

England 1819: Thomas Shield, a new master at a school just outside London, is tutor to a young American boy and the boy’s sensitive best friend, Charles Frant. Drawn to Frant’s beautiful, unhappy mother, Thomas becomes caught up in her family’s twisted intrigues. Then a brutal crime is committed, with consequences that threaten to destroy Thomas and all that he has come to hold dear. Despite his efforts, Shield is caught up in a deadly tangle of sex, money, murder and lies — a tangle that grips him tighter even as he tries to escape from it. And what of the strange American child, at the heart of these macabre events, yet mysterious — what is the secret of the boy named Edgar Allen Poe?

The American Boy is well researched and, for me at least, a page-turner.  It appears to be heavily influenced by Wilkie Collins writing.  I enjoyed following the developing mystery although I found the final denouement a little disappointing.

The reticence Thomas Shield shows to reveal the details of his tête-à-tête with Sophia, do perhaps carry the assumption of 18th century good taste a little too far but the romance certainly kept my interest in the fate of both characters.  His earlier confused attraction to two women was harder to believe but perhaps I don’t understand men well enough.  It is certainly true that Miss Carswell is a tantalising, enigmatic character, while Sophia seems aloof and unapproachable.

I am not happy with the chosen title and although Andrew Taylor gives his interest in the youth of Edgar Allan Poe as the raison d’être for this book, the boy seems to me to be only an incidental character and if anything is a conceit of the author.  Without great knowledge of Poe I suspect I am missing nuances in the text.

The pictures painted of the three locations, London, Gloucester and Monkshill Park are clearly delineated and atmospheric and the machinations of the plot built up convincingly.  Initially the novel adopts a leisurely pace but this gradually heats up.  In contrast to the interactions of the many characters involved in the story, there are also interludes of philosophical observation by Thomas Shield such as:-

For the first time in my life, I was about to be a man of substance.  The knowledge changed me.  Wealth may not bring happiness, but at least it has the power to avert certain causes of sorrow.  And it makes a man feel he has a place in the world,

which I particularly enjoyed.

I have read that Taylor initially wrote this story in the third person, but sensibly realised that Thomas Shield was an essential narrator to ensure the reader’s involvement.  I found him a very sympathetic character, in spite of his tendency to act like a Dr. Who heroine.

Castles, Customs and Kings edited by Debra Brown #FridayBookShare~ @ShelleyWilson72

#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

I have long enjoyed http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.co.uk/ where a talented group of authors of historical fiction share their research.  The book I would like to share with you today, is the first of two anthologies sharing a selection of its blog posts.

My choice of first line and favourite scene are from

The Power of a Red Dress by Anne O’Brien

First Line:  Red, the colour of festivity and enjoyment, the colour of youth and beauty.  Of seduction.  The colour of sin……

Recruit fans by adding the blurb

A compilation of essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of real life stories and tantalizing tidbits discovered while doing research for their own historical novels.

From the first English word to Tudor ladies-in-waiting, from Regency dining and dress to Victorian crime and technology, immerse yourself in the lore of Great Britain. Read the history behind the fiction and discover the true tales surrounding England’s castles, customs, and kings.

Introduce the main character –The Wife of Bath was deceitful, entertaining and successful

Delightful Design

castles

Audience appeal: Those with a natural curiosity about history

Your Favourite Scene

When my fourth husband lay upon his bier,
I wept enough and made but sorry cheer,
As wives must always, for it’s custom’s grace,
And with my kerchief covered up my face,
But since I was provided with a mate
I really wept but little, I may state.

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.

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The Importance of Being Seven by Alexander McCall Smith #FridayBookShare ~ @ShelleyWilson72

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#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

The different way in which adults and children look at life, has always fascinated me and I am always horrified that some adults believe the opinions of children are of no importance.  Alexander McCall Smith demonstrates this so clearly in the relationship between Bertie and his mother in his Scotland Street books, especially The Importance of Being Seven

First Line:  If there was one thing about marriage that surprised Matthew, it was just how quickly he became accustomed to it.

Recruit fans by adding the blurb

Despite inhabiting a great city renowned for its impeccable restraint, the extended family of 44 Scotland Street is trembling on the brink of reckless self-indulgence. Matthew and Elspeth receive startling – and expensive – news on a visit to the Infirmary, Angus and Domenica are contemplating an Italian ménage a trois, and even Big Lou is overheard discussing cosmetic surgery. But when Bertie Pollock – six years old and impatient to be seven – mislays his meddling mother Irene one afternoon, a valuable lesson is learned: that wish-fulfilment is a dangerous business.

Warm-hearted, wise and very funny, The Importance of Being Seven brings us a fresh and delightful set of insights into philosophy and fraternity among Edinburgh’s most loveable residents.

Introduce the main character  Bertie is highly intelligent, very polite and longs to escape from his mother.

Delightful Design

being-seven

Audience appeal:  Anyone with a sense of humour and a philosophical attitude to life.

Your Favourite Scene

Bertie would have liked to play games, but it seemed there was little time for such things, what with yoga sessions, his psychotherapy with Dr St Clair, Italian conversazione with his mother and his saxophone lessons.  He had asked his mother whether he could give up some of these but she had been unwilling.

“But you love all these things that Mummy plans for you, Bertie!” she replied.  “All of them.  You have such fun, and you’ll thank me, when you are a big boy for helping you to do all these things.”

Bertie did not think that he would, but he knew that there was no point in arguing. His mother was so sure of everything.  He had suggested that he might give up his weekly psychotherapy session with Dr St Clair.

“Dr St Clair is helping you a lot you know.  He’s helping to make sure that you make the right decisions.  He’s helping you to understand things – to grow up without neuroses. You’re a lucky little boy to have this opportunity.  There are quite a few young people who could do with his help.”

“Such as?” asked Bertie.

“Well, Tofu, for one.  There’s a young man who needs a lot of help to curb his aggressive urges.”

Bertie had to agree but he did not think that Dr St Clair would be a match for Tofu. Tofu would never agree to go to yoga and would resolutely refuse to play the saxophone or to speak Italian.  Tofu was a member of Bertie’s cub scout pack as was his arch-enemy, Olive.  And that was difficult.  Tofu had already spoken to Bertie about that evening’s meeting.

“There’s going to be trouble, Bertie.” he said. “I can feel it coming.”  Then he added, “Hah!”

 

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.

The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg #FridayBookShare ~ @ShelleyWilson72

Back in the 1980s and early 1990s there were several superb stories for children by husband and wife Janet and Allan Ahlberg.  My respect for Eddie Redmayne increased tremendously recently when he shared his love for Miss Wobble the Waitress and other Happy Families books by the Ahlbergs.  I have two copies of The Jolly Christmas Postman, one for children to pull apart and crumple and another in good condition which is mine!

First Lines

Once upon a Christmas Eve
Just After it had snowed,
The Jolly Postman (him again!)
Came down the jolly road;
And in the bag upon his back
An … interesting load.

Recruit fans by adding the blurb

It’s Christmas Eve and the JOLLY POSTMAN is delivering greetings to various fairy-tale characters – there’s a card for Baby Bear, a game appropriately called ‘Beware’ for Red Riding Hood from Mr Wolf, a get-well jigsaw for hospitalised Humpty Dumpty and three more surprise envelopes containing letters, cards, etc. Everyone’s favourite postman keeps on peddling his bicycle up hill and down dale . . . and into everybody’s hearts.

Introduce the main character – The Postman is jolly, full of food and glad to reach home at last.

Delightful Design

christmas-post

Audience appeal  Children, adults, anyone who likes Christmas and inventive books.

Your Favourite Scene

There was once a moneybox in the shape of a pig that belonged to a little girl named Angela.  This pig had a curly tail, a coin-shaped slot in his back…and criminal tendencies.  In some ways the pig was quite good-natured, at east when he was empty.  But money is the root of all evil and as he got fuller and fuller, he became boastful.

“I’m rich!” he cried, to the other toys, “I’m the richest creature in this room!” And he rattled his tummy.  “I’m a millionaire!”

One night in the week before Christmas, when the pig was simply bulging with money, he decided to run away.  He rattled.  He scrambled and wobbled down the stairs………..

#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.

#FridayBookShare~Pulse by Celina Grace @ShelleyWilson72

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#FridayBookShare is a game created by Shelley Wilson to help search for an ideal read.

Anyone can have a go – all you need to do is answer the following questions based on the book you are currently reading/finished reading this week and use the hashtag #FridayBookShare

First line of the book.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

Introduce the main character using only three words.

Delightful design (add the cover image of the book).

Audience appeal (who would enjoy reading this book?)

Your favourite line/scene.

Pulse is the 10th book in the Kate Redman, detective series by Celina Grace

First Line  Joe could hear the music inside him like a second heartbeat.

Recruit fans by adding the book blurb

The body of a young man is found in a graveyard the night after a wild, drug-fuelled party. At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be anything sinister about his death, despite the shock of Detective Inspector Mark Olbeck realising that he once knew him.

Detective Sergeant Kate Redman has other things to worry about, not least her ongoing affair with her superior officer Chief Inspector Anderton. But when a second body is found in suspiciously similar circumstances, Kate, Olbeck and the rest of the Abbeyford police team realise they are up against a devious killer who will stop at nothing to indulge a literal thirst for blood…

Introduce the main character – Kate is tenacious, likeable and spontaneous.

Delightful Design

pulse

Audience appeal  Crime investigation and personal relationships in the same package

Your Favourite Scene

“Anyway,” said Anderton resuming his pacing. “This remains a suspicious death and I’m hoping the post mortem will throw up some definite answers as to exactly how Vickers died.  As you know there was a knife wound in his neck, although whether that was made pre or post mortem hasn’t yet been ascertained.  There are a few anomalies around the condition of the body.”  He turned to the crime scene photos. The pallor and pose of the body recalled a marble statue, perhaps a dead knight clasping his sword.

“The blood, sir.”

“Yes I was coming to that.  The body seems to have lost a lot of blood- indeed, that may well be the cause of death – but the odd thing is that there isn’t a lot of blood on the scene.”

If you want to join in, then answer the F.R.I.D.A.Y questions and use the Friday Book Share meme. Tag Shelley (@ShelleyWilson72) in, so she can read what you have added, too.