Friday, 3 July 2020

Friday Fiction Feature: The Greatest of Enemies

My Friday Fiction Feature for this week is The Greatest of Enemies by B R Maycock – over to you, Berni!

When writing the first book of The Abbeyglen series (or as the people from 'Friends' would put it: "The One With The Lottery Winner(!)'), I came across a character named Bex. Now you might ask how a writer comes across (exaggerates inverted commas with fingers or to put it more visually splays fingers in vertical crab claws) a character, but actually, very often one just arrives on set mid scene and you write what they tell you to and then you have to stop and figure them out (what's their birthday, favourite colour, and my personal favourite, if your character was stuck in a lift, how would they react?).

So, Bex landed and I absolutely had to do a book with her. She was vibrant, to the point and so funny and I craved getting onto her story (another part of being a writer is always wanting to work on the next book!). But there was also the mystery of Louise, Louise, Lottery winner Holly's best friend, who was suddenly uncontactable (none of these are really spoilers as they don't impact the book). Louise did finally arrive back, but we were suddenly confronted with someone who was not the person Holly led us to believe or maybe thought she was, but more a person who was not in the best possible place and was home purely for Holly, and before I knew it, bam, Louise and Bex are buzzer to face and neither are too happy with the other (although one does try, you can guess who!) 

There is nothing like watching a seemingly mean, entitled character swan in and wreak havoc with a place that is only getting over some drama and there is definitely nothing like two such extreme characters going head to head, showing up sides to both you wouldn't expect. I regularly talk about sparkle and fireworks and that is what you can expect from The Greatest of Enemies, drama and battles peppered with sparkle, smile and snort out loud moments!  

Set within the cosy town of Abbeyglen (a town famous only locally for having cobblestones that tripped up some of the enemy in the Irish Civil war), and with a range of characters of all ages and sensibilities, hopefully you'll want to head to Abbeyglen to check all the drama out!

About the book

Light the blue touch paper and stand back. Fireworks are about to go off! 

Bex has settled into her new life in the small town of Abbyglen. Setting up a new cafe, blogging and her day job keeps her busy and happy. 

Louise is ready to return to the comfort of Abbeyglen. Okay, so it isn't her favourite place to be, but once she can talk the problems of the last few years over with best friend Holly, she can begin to move forward.

But when Louise arrives on the scene and instead finds an unwanted stranger in friend Holly's apartment it's handbags at dawn — and all the hours in between — as Bex and Louise cross swords. Who will win? Let the battle commence … 

Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella, Christie Barlow and Rosie Green.

Purchase link for The Greatest of Enemies

Or, to go back to the start, Pushing Her Luck book 1:

When B R Maycock (Berni to all you lovely people!) isn’t dreaming up vibrant leads for romantic comedies, she’s ingesting books for her blog, in particular chick lit (her first love!) books, romantic comedies and thrillers. She can also be found playing footie or watching Marvel, DC or Star Wars movies and cartoons in Co. Westmeath, Ireland with her brilliantly out there husband, Keith, and their four epic little men. 

Her debut ‘It Started With A Snub’ and Christmas romantic comedy ‘Snowday’ are available now on Amazon, as is Pushing Her Luck, the first of a series about AbbeyGlen town, whose luck is about to change … 

She has one goal and that’s simply to make readers smile and/ or laugh (a splutter rates highest;)). 

Social Media Links

BR Maycock’s book Blog: 

Twitter @BRMaycock: 





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Thursday, 2 July 2020

Digging Deeper into Crime #crimefiction

Every Monday, starting next week, I’ll be hosting some fabulous crime and psychological thriller writers as they tell us all about their books, series, protagonists and creepy antagonists.

Find out what the good guys really think about their evil opponents and also what the bad guys think about those tracking them down.

Who would the authors choose to play their characters in a film or TV series?

What is the weirdest disposal of a body or the creepiest action taken by the killer or stalker?

Bookmark this page and come back on Monday to discover what Tony Forder has to say about his DI Bliss series – now up to number seven!

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Friday, 26 June 2020

Friday Fiction Feature: The Choice

Hi, I’m Claire Wade and I won the Good Housekeeping First Novel Competition with my debut novel The Choice. A dystopian story that’s perfect for fans of VOX.

The Choice was The Times Audiobook of the Week and Good Housekeeping’s Book of the Month. 

Imagine a world where... 

Everything you ate was monitored by the government.

Every step you took was counted. 

Your children were weighed every day at school.

Neighbours reported on neighbours and no one was safe from judgement. 

Sugar was illegal, and baking was a crime. 

Imagine if that world was here... What would you do? 

Toe the line or fight for your freedom...

That's the decision Olivia Pritchard has to make in The Choice. Once a successful baker, she’s now lost her career and her passion. She’s lost and isolated, desperate to protect her two young children from the authoritarian government and its devout leader Mother Mason.

Mother Mason wants everyone to be healthy and happy, but her methods are extreme, with strict food rationing, enforced exercise classes and public shaming for anyone who refuses to follow the rules.

Readers have described The Choice as "1984" meets "The Great British Bake Off" and Christina Dalcher, author of VOX, said it’s “Big Brother meets Betty Crocker in this electrifying debut about a nanny state gone out of control. Take the day off, because you won’t be able to stop until the very end.”

I wrote The Choice because I love to bake, I find it really relaxing. I’d heard news reports that stated sugar might be addictive and I wondered what I would do if it was ever banned. What would the world be like? How would my life change? The story developed from there, but little did I realise that soon after my book was published, we'd all face flour shortages and food rationing. Life imitating art, though thankfully things are improving.

Over the course of the story, Olivia has to decide what truly matters to her and what she’s prepared to risk. She must confront her own fears and anxieties, but when there’s danger everywhere you turn, when friends and neighbours are watching your every move and a simple mistake can send you to the Shame Box, it takes courage to stand up for what you believe in.

The Choice is published by Orion and available as a paperback, e-book and audiobook.

Author bio

Claire Wade is the winner of the Good Housekeeping First Novel Competition 2018. She was bed bound for six years with severe ME, trapped in a body that wouldn’t do what she wanted; her only escape was through her imagination. She now writes about women who want to break free from the constraints of their lives, a subject she’s deeply familiar with.

Her favourite things are books, baking and the WI. She’s the founding president of a modern WI (Women’s Institute) and runs a baking club for other cake lovers. You’ll find her in her writing room, nicknamed Narnia because it’s also home to a wardrobe and is the place where she escapes to other worlds. She’s happiest if she’s got a slice of chocolate cake, a cup of tea and a good book.


·        Website:

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Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Martin Jones #interview #writerslife

Today I am delighted to feature an interview with Martin Jones, author of Best Eight.


1. What genre would you say your novels fall into, or do they defy classification?


Classification has always been a bit of a problem.  Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch, inspired my early efforts, except they organised biographical material around things like famous album tracks rather than football matches. My children’s novel, Secret Street, about a girl with a secret love of geology, could be called “coming of age”. Best Eight, published this month, is science fiction. It is true that an editor at Hachette did not agree.  But if I may...  Science fiction is a very diverse genre, covering the portrayal of science in the future, and often in the present and past as well, except where it doesn’t involve science at all, as in speculative fiction, alternate history, or in the related category of fantasy.  Writer Damon Knight has described sci-fi as “what we point to when we say it”. So setting out to write sci-fi only to have an editor suggest that the book does not fall into that category, seemed like a bizarre achievement,  You could say that science fiction is what we point to when we say it, except for that book Martin Jones wrote. But no, we can’t say that.  The book cannot claim to be so unique.  It’s science fiction.


2. What made you choose that genre?


Science fiction has always been a favourite of mine.  For me, it’s right up there with the novels of P.G. Wodehouse.  I once read the work of author Jack Vance after hearing he was a fan both of sci-fi and Wodehouse. Whilst enjoying Vance’s work, it was difficult to find much Wodehouse in it.  On some level, Best Eight was an attempt to fill this unfortunate gap.


3.  How long does it take you to write a book?


A long time is the short answer.  Best Eight took ten years, on and off.  Other novels did not take as long as that.  And the novel I am currently writing is shaping up after a year or so. 


4.  What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?


Before March this year I would write for two hours in the morning, and then go to my day job in a pharmacy. Since the middle of March I have been on medical lock down, unable to leave the house.  So now, it’s chores in the morning, followed by forty minutes of exercise.  The rest of the day is free for writing.  The evening is for reading, relaxing and watching Grace and Frankie on Netflix.


5. Tell me something about yourself your readers might not know.


I am a trained sports massage therapist.  This was the answer I gave to the same question, asked at an interview for a Christmas job at Argos.  It seemed to work quite well on that occasion.  They offered me the job.


6. When did you write your first book and how old were you?


I actually started out trying to write stage plays at university - my first one imagined vast equipment at a high tech London show going wrong and turning the theatre upside down.  A motley group of actors, theatre staff and audience members had to escape to the bottom the theatre, like in the Poseidon Adventure.  I was eighteen then.  Those Nick Hornby inspired novels came a couple of years later, just after university.


7. What do you like to do when you're not writing?


Reading, obviously.  I have this scheme which alternates classic novel with new novel.  Music has always been a passion. Before lockdown, cycling the byways of Kent was my favourite form of exercise.


8. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?


Hmmm.  Interesting.  Perhaps the most surprising thing I learned was the way confidence can exist alongside an equally profound level of doubt. Within candy floss clouds of diffidence, there is a small rock of determination - not so much a rock as a chunk of neutron star. It’s odd how these opposites can exist so naturally together.


9. How many books have you written?


It took me a minute to work that out.  There have been seven novels.  And one nonfiction book about the Sergeant Pepper album.


10. Do you Google yourself? What did you find that affected you most (good or bad)?


I don’t Google myself, always assuming there’s nothing there.  Let’s have a go now... This is fun. Graham Norton does this sort of thing with his guests. Well, Jones is a common name so there are lots of Martin Jones.  My blog is listed, along with entries for a number of other Martin Jones authors, who seem to be doing very well with their writing.  There’s an archaeologist who has written ninety-seven books, his latest about why humans share food. What have I been doing with my time?  And there’s someone who writes horror stories.  So not much to see with regard to me personally.


11. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?


At primary school it was astronaut, fireman, and very briefly glazier, after a man came to fix our school window and seemed happy in his work.  I thought about being a musician for a while - making some pocket money in my sixth form years playing the French horn in show bands.   But writing ambitions always lurked, and had completely taken over by the time I finished school.


12. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have on your computer?


On my computer there’s a novel about a pharmacy worker who takes part in drug trials seeking conscious control of dreams.  There are also three drafts of a “steam punk” novel where a nineteenth century London tosher gets himself involved with a secret society, which has developed the technology necessary to produce glam rock music.


All other unfinished or unpublished novels/plays/film scripts/poems are piles of paper in the attic.  

Thank you for the interview, Lorraine.  I really enjoyed answering your questions.

Author bio: Martin has been writing since he left university in the 1980s.  He has published two novels, run a website for historical visiting, and won prizes for his short stories.  He lives in Kent and is married with one daughter.

Blog link:



Amazon Author page:

Link for Best Eight:

Link for Secret Street:

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Friday, 19 June 2020

Friday Fiction Feature: Burke in the Land of Silver

For my Friday Fiction Feature this week I am delighted to host Tom Williams as he talks about his series showcasing the adventures of James Florence Burke.

James Florence Burke was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, in 1771. In 1792 he joined the French army (then a perfectly legal and not particularly unusual thing for an Irishman to do).  He fought in Santo Domingo (now Haiti) in the West Indies. While he was there, England and France went to war and he found himself facing the British. His regiment was soundly defeated and the men were offered a choice between becoming prisoners of war or transferring to the British Army (again, not that unusual in those days). Burke chose to join the British. His fluency in languages led to him being selected for intelligence work.

In 1804 Burke was sent to Buenos Aires, in the Spanish territory of La Plata, to gather intelligence that might be useful in a British invasion. In the course of his stay there he rode across the Andes to Chile, returning via Bolivia (then Upper Peru), spying all the way.

In 1806, almost certainly guided by intelligence he had produced, the British invaded Buenos Aires. Although the invasion was initially successful, the British eventually had to withdraw. Burke spent some time in Spain, just ahead of the French coup there, and then he returned to Buenos Aires via a short stay in Brazil. In Spain he seems to have had a brief affaire with the queen (not especially shocking given the queen’s reputation) and in Brazil he was involved with her daughter, the Portuguese princess.

With a life as full of adventure and incident, there really wasn’t an awful lot for a novelist to do and the first book I wrote about him, Burke in the Land of Silver, is quite closely based on his life.

Burke’s life after 1809 is less well-recorded, so later books are more the product of invention. All, though, are based around actual historical events. Burke and the Bedouin centres on Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt. Burke at Waterloo starts with a little-known attempt on Wellington's life in Paris in 1814.

There are two more books about Burke’s adventures already written and these will be published later in the year. These are Burke in the Peninsula, where he serves in Spain and where his adventures as a spy are loosely based on those of another real character and Burke in Ireland, which is the story of his first work for British intelligence back in 1798.

The Burke books do feature famous battles, but he is not another Richard Sharpe. Burke is, first and foremost, a spy and the books are spy thrillers, albeit historically grounded spy thrillers. They should appeal to anyone who likes exciting stories of cunning, deception and danger, but who appreciates tales with enough real history in to allow you to claim that reading them is vaguely educational.

The first book, Burke in the Land of Silver, has just been published with a beautiful new cover.

Burke and the Bedouin will be published next month, with the next three books following through the summer.


I used to write books for business. Now I write about love and adventure in the 19th century, which is much more fun. In the pre-covid world it used to allow me to pretend that travelling in the Egypt, Spain and South America was research.

I live in London. My main interest is avoiding doing any honest work.

I have a website,, which has details of all my books ( It’s also where you can find my blog, which comes out once a week on Fridays, often with a book review or similar on Tuesdays. I mainly blog about history but there is stuff about writing and general thoughts on life. Occasionally I blog about tango, which is my passion. Rather to my surprise, the tango posts seem particularly popular.

Besides the website, I have a Facebook author page ( and I tweet as @TomCW99.

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Thursday, 18 June 2020

Book Review: The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce

The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce by Tom Gillespie is very well named as it takes readers on a journey which is mystical, magical, weird, obsessive, twisted and compelling – but above all, strange!

Following Jacob Boyce as he tries to find his missing wife, Ella, while unravelling the mysteries surrounding a painting he is convinced contains answers to scientific questions, the reader is swept into a dark labyrinth of misdirection, madness and obsession.

Tom Gillespie weaves so many layers into this novel that it is impossible to cover them all without spoilers. Suffice to say I haven’t read another book like this and doubt I will again. The fluid writing, complex plot and incredible (in all senses of the word) characters make this a superb read.

The use of Spanish was fine for me as I live in Spain, but I did wonder if it might cause an issue for other readers.

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Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Two great reviews #crimefiction #crime #reviews #readerscommunity

Review of Injections of Insanity

little bird

5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced, easy read

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 June 2020

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This is my third read in the Paolo Sterling series. The author has created such a fascinating, totally believable character which is no mean feat. As with her other novels, Lorraine Mace has created a story with good pace, there is no room to linger as Paolo frantically tries to find a ruthless serial killer who seems to have an agenda that involves the day Saturday. I love how Paolo's personal life, intertwines with his relationship with his work colleagues and also documents his daughter's progress on her road to emotional recovery. I will most certainly be ordering Book 4 in the series, Rage and Retribution.

Read the review on Amazon:


Review of Rage and Retribution


5.0 out of 5 stars Had me gripped from the first page..

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 2 June 2020

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I was warned that reading the first few pages would make me squirm and i did! Another Great story and characters. Kept me guessing to the end, I really had no idea who would turn out to be the villain. I like the way the characters are developing and look forward to the next book. Recommended.

Read the review on Amazon:

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