A Message of Kindness #KindnessMatters #Kindness #Books

This can be an anxious time for many. There are so many uncertainties around employment, health, the thought of being cooped up indoors, shops closing their doors and more… I think of every one of you because we are all in it together. I hope that everyone is well and if very sadly you are not, that you recover very soon. I appreciate that you are still following and reading my blog, even if it isn’t the first thing on your mind at this time.

I also wanted to share a bit about what is going on in the book world and also with ways for you to access books as bookshops close their doors (there are more than you may think) and also to give some thought on just spreading kindness to each other (from a distance of course). That and reading is good for periods of uncertainty. Yes, there are times you have to do something, but be kind to yourselves too and allow times  for rest and a little escapism. Books are a very safe way to do this.

Reading can help for a bit of escapism, they are terrific for your health and wellbeing. This has been proven, but how do you get books when bookshops are closing their doors and Amazon is only delivering essentials (and this is not including books, although their e-books are available, as are books on Audible)?

Independent bookshops are doing deliveries and some are solely online.
In no particular order:

Bert Books is solely online
Woodbridge Emporium
Highland Books
Toppings & Co
Hive.co.uk
This is just to name a few. As businesses struggle, but also become innovative, now is a fabulous time to support them and also you will know that you can do it from your own home. These independent bookshops are however also giving books for free (not because they can particularly easily afford it, but because they want to support the keyworkers, the elderly, those who have self-isolated).

Authors are also self-employed and are worried about their future. Most are not very rich. There is a saying going round – support authors and they will support you. Well, this, I have found to be true. Check out people like:

Adam Croft who is giving away a set of books for free. He will take no royalties and make nothing from a set of Knight and Culverhouse books. Excellent Police Procedural. I am also reviewing the latest in a new series from him and Stephen Moore soon too, so look out for that.

Lydia Monks – author of What the LadyBird did is doing activities over on Facebook.

Libby Page has done my mum a great kindness in giving her book 24 Hour Cafe to her because she is self isolating.

Urbane Publications have been/are giving some books for free too.

Keep a look out on publishers and authors sites and twitter for what they are doing, this is only a small fraction of it.

There’s a lot more acts of kindness happening out there too (whilst also practicing social distancing very diligently).

What about us bloggers? Well, we too are spreading messages of kindness. We are also reviewing and promoting more because there are authors who have events cancelled for their new books. We know that books are good for supporting people’s health, especially when unwell or having to stay indoors. We are there for each and every person to support the best we can as a book community. Individually we are also doing other things as well, outside the book community, but that’s a whole different story.

Take care and also keep reading. I have new books I am reading and reviewing. Enough to keep me going until summer, which means you get to know the latest and best books to see you through this time too.

Next review is Paper Sparrows, and it is an amzing book for you to discover.

Thank you!

 

Happy World Book Day #WorldBookDay 2020 #Books #Bookish #CrimeFiction #Fiction #NonFiction #Kidslit #PictureBook #HistoricalFiction #History #Romance #Biography #ContemporaryFiction

Happy World Book Day 2020

Happy World Book Day and I hope that everyone is having a fabulous day, however you are celebrating. There are many author events going on around the UK in public and community libraries as well as schools. There are also lots of other bookish events too that can be participated in as you read for pleasure. There are also other ways you can participate in World Book Day, if you cannot attend an event, such as, curling up with a good book and leaving an author a review on Waterstones and Amazon.

Today I am attending a World Book Day Event to hear a talk by rising star Alison Belsham, author of The Tattoo Thief and then it will be my turn to host an event up here in Scotland too on Monday with Liz Treacher – author of The Wrong Envelope and The Wrong Direction.

I also have some great books in my review pile for both adult and children that are being published between this month and summer.

In the pile I am currently reading are fiction and non-fiction books. In no particular order of publication or review dates, look out for book one of a new series by Ben Kane – Made in Battle, Forged in War; Us Three by Ruth Jones (yes, the actor/writer from Gavin and Stacey and author of Never Greener); Eileen – The Making of George Orwell, Eileen was his wife, but not much is known about her, until now…; Paper Sparrows; A Conspiracy of Bones – the latest book by Kathy Reichs; I return to reviewing again for Lesley Kelly for her book Murder at the Music Factory – the latest in the health of Strangers series (read as a series or stand alone); I return to The Bobby Girls series to review the latest book – The Bobby Girl’s Secrets to see what the police volunteers are up to in their second and newest book.

I return to Janey Louise Jones children’s books to see what else Princess Poppy has in store now she has worked out how to save the bees. This time she is tackling plastic. I also will be reviewing for a charity Helping Hands who have had the Duchess of York on board to craete books  about how to tackle bullying, first days at school and strangers. There is a fantasy book to continue the series about Akra The Healing Stone, by Vacyn Taylor and a new book – Snow Child by a new author – Larraine Harrison.

This is just a few of the books sitting on my pile to date that you will start to see full reviews for soon. So, lots of books for you to look forward to exploring and to see what I think of. Coming up very soon are some children’s books and then an adult thriller that Lee Child and many other authors have a lot of praise for.

I of course thank all the authors, publishers and blog tour organisers for all these amazing opportunities to review and of course I thank just as equally, the readers of my blog as without everyone, my blog couldn’t exist.

Libraries Matter in the 21st Century #Article #LibraryMatters @CressidaCowell @PhilipArdagh #libraries #education

Libraries Matter in the 21st Century

Why, you should ask, when there are Kindles and other online platforms, do libraries matter now in the 21st Century. I have heard people saying that they may be becoming a thing of the past and don’t really matter. There are also people who don’t realise, even after the existence of libraries for many years, that they are free. That is one of the beauty’s of libraries – they are free. Whatsmore books can be borrowed and new books can be obtained for free. Librarians can also introduce you to a whole new author based on what you like. If you don’t know what you like, they can find out by different means through a nice chat.

Libraries have the latest books and follow the latest trends. Pick up a book and escape into different realms, away from reality for a bit, whatever age you are. Some adults think libraries are only for children, they are for every age. Reading for Pleasure isn’t just a trend however, it is for all ages and all it requires is time to be made to relax and unwind with a book. Books are proven to help de-stress after a hard day at school or further education or work.

Books, whether they are fiction or non-fiction all have something that can expand people’s knowledge, language, imagination, exploration of the world, expand tolerance, understanding and well-being.

Libraries have computers and apps with the latest technologies as well as WI-FI. There are also often great study areas within them for all ages.

Libraries offer more. They offer sanctuary through tough times and a source of joy when times are good. They also offer times to socialise and meet you friends. They offer places to unwind. A library is many things.

Libraries offer more even still:

They offer Bookbug Sessions in Scotland and equvelent of sessions such as Rhyme Times south of the border.

Libraries look at STEM and Lego Clubs and Builders Days are popping up across the country.

Libraries give people exciting opportunities to meet an author, get a book signed, hear a talk. In Scotland it is Bookweek Scotland coming up week beginning Monday 18th November. Check your local library to see how they are celebrating it and keep a look out to see how your child’s school is celebrating. Events happen nationally within schools and public library and some community libraries throughout the year, check with your library to see what is planned and how to attend (usually with consumate ease and most are free).

Think Netflix is the greatest thing? The next greatest thing to follow at libraries is Bookflix, cropping up in libraries and school library/book corners.

Books are lovely to share, whether they are children, young adults or adults and there are many benefits from doing this, including forming new friendships.

Libraries and their books and events really are for the youngest of babies to the oldest of adults.

School libraries have been disappearing, but Cressida Cowell and Phillip Aardagh seem to be on the case to work on getting them re-instated because they matter. School visits to local libraries also matter and count. Experiences matter as does making them as positive as possible.

Libraries in both the public and school domains matter. They need people to support them by using them. There seems to be a swath of people who still think libraries are lifeless and are all about stern librarians telling them what to do or not do etc. Libraries changed quite a number of years ago and are ever evolving. Yes, they suffer from lack of funding too, but passionate librarians work many hours to deliver a great service and are always striving to do their best for the public. Support them and enjoy them! They are not a luxury, but a necessity after all and not something to be taken for granted.
So, instead of walking by a library, whether at school or in an area that has a library open to all, why not pop in and see what is going on and what is on offer, you may be pleasantly surprised.

What I worry about the future of libraries is that one day in some places, people may wake up to their being no library in any form. Once something is lost it can be forever. Let’s try and keep libraries for the present and the future. Enjoy them by using them, having a chat with your librarian and seeing what is on offer.

Your library may have closed down already. My local library has and now sits within the third sector. I used to work for the local authority libraries. Jobs go though don’t they. I ironically only worked a couple of times in the library where I actually live. I now work there a lot, bringing it up to scratch and using every inch of experience to lead it and to bring it as close to the local authority run libraries as possible. I and other in other community libraries that try to compliment a council run library ensure we have a great selection of books, in every genre and that they are new, have school class visits, have (in Scotland) Bookbug sessions (I was trained under the council run libraries when I worked with them and the Bookbug co-ordinator for the area allows me to continue). Authors also kindly visit too.

Am I still passionate about libraries, even though I do not get paid anymore? Yes, although it is rather a worrying trend because always, I, anyway am wanting to deliver the absolute best possible library to people because libraries really do matter and can make a difference to people’s lives in many forms. Community libraries can be less recognised where and when it matters and I hope that changes soon, or people may find community libraries also ever more challenging to run, if they want to do it to compliment a local authority library. I feel that’s a whole other subject for another time.
Enjoy libraries and support them and reap the benefits from them before there is nothing left to pass on to present people and future generations.

Celebrating 100 Posts and Thank You #100 #Bloggers #ReadingCommunity #WritingCommunity #Article #Blog #Authors #Publishers

Celebrating 100 posts on my Blog

Today on my blog notifications it announced I had written 100 posts. I hadn’t realised it was so many over just over a year. I have enjoyed reviewing every book from crime to political thriller to up-lit to non-fiction; and every stage performance from musicals to plays to stand-up. Articles covering a number of subjects. I love writing my blog, but most of all, I thank you all for following direct from my blog, on Twitter and my Facebook Page. I also thank those who invite me to join their blog tours, the authors and publishers who send me books and for conversing with me via my social media and the contact section on my blog homepage. It really does feel like such a privilege to be able to review so many and such a diverse selection of books by so many authors.
I thank authors and book festival organisers who have added me to their contact lists, again such a privilege and an exciting one at that.

I have more great sounding books to read and review, theatre and thoughts for further articles as time moves ever forward on my blog. So, I hope you all continue to enjoy what I am doing and thanks again for your support by your nice comments, all which I read and try to respond to.

Thank you!

There are Mysterious Goings on in Literary Morecambe – A Review of the Morecambe and Vice Festival @MorecambeVice #Crime #Festival #Morecambe #Lancaster #Books #Review

There are Mysterious Goings on in Literary Morecambe

A Review of the Morecambe and Vice Festival

An array of hats, talk of murder and other crimes, music filling the air and an art deco-hotel mixed together with a sense of quirkiness – it could only be The Morecambe and Vice Festival.

The weekend just past (28th-29th September) found me in Morecambe at the Morecambe and Vice Festival. A diverse and quirky crime festival that is in its third year. I first came here last year to meet Hugh Fraser (played Captain Hastings in Poirot and many other roles and is an author) – that’s a whole other story…
I had barely started my blog when I was first at the festival, and now with my blog being a year old, and grown somewhat, I was so pleased that kindly, the organisers invited me to review their festival on my blog. It was such a pleasure and privilege. It was an incredible opportunity given by Tom Fisher and Ben Cooper-Muir.

Morecambe feels like it is on the up again. There is a second series of The Bay being filmed there and they are getting The Eden Project and there is of course this wonderful festival called Morecambe and Vice, which is not afraid of diverse subjects or of inviting authors and other speakers from across the UK.

All Ready to Begin with Tom and Ben

Morecambe and Vice is now, as previously mentioned, is in its third year, but the reality is so much different. It feels like it has been going for longer. It is so professional, welcoming and yet so relaxed. Tom and Ben have clearly put in a lot of effort into making this year, like last year, a success. This is a festival where authors (and audiences) seem to like to be able to return to, given the chance.

I arrived on Friday afternoon and took a look around the streets and of course along the seafront and got ready for the Saturday at The Midland Hotel. The Midland is a lovely art-deco hotel and has featured in some tv episodes of Poirot by Agatha Christie. It was a terrific venue. I loved The Winter Garden’s Theatre the year before, but The Midland was warmer. Who knows where the venue will be next year… 

Midland Hotel
All Art-Deco at The Midland Hotel

Registration to introduce yourself and collect your badge was between 9:00am and 9:30am. It’s all wonderfully stress free and it was quite exciting seeing not only my name, but also my blog name on the badge. That was very nicely done.

The air was filled with music, including the theme tune to the Poirot tv series, which really grabbed everyone’s attention. All the music was very fitting for the time period and place where we were, which added perfectly to the amazing welcoming and exciting atmosphere that was building up as people began to fill the room. The stage was dressed and looking so good. I loved all the hats, so simple and yet so effective.

Stage and HatsStage is Set, Complete With Great Hats

The weekend was split into sections, after each panel had spoken, there was a very adequate interval for book signing opportunities and time to get a beverage. 1 hour for lunch was also well factored in. The atmosphere is fabulous with a pianist playing very well at each interval between the panels.

Over the entire weekend, there were 12 different panels of speakers – 6 each day.

Saturday:

  • What’s the Worst That Could Happen – Crime and Thrillers in an Apocalyptic Setting with Lesley Kelly, Ceri Lowe and Matt Brolly. Moderated by Tom Fisher.
  • Let them Lead the Way – Children’s and YA Crime with Nicki Thornton, Sarah Todd Taylor and Sharna Jackson. Moderated by Anne Coates
  • Discussing Dyslexia with Fleur Hitchcock, Jane Elson and Jennie Finch. Participating Moderator – Margaret Murphy.
  • Who, What, Where, When, Why – What can crime fiction tell us about the way works? With Academics – Mary Evans, Hazel Johnstone and Sarah Moore. Crime writers – William Shaw and Gytha Lodge.
  • Partners in Crime with Adam Croft and surprise guest bring their podcast to the festival
  • In Conversation with Lin Anderson – best selling author discusses her life and career with debut author Noelle Holten.Morecambe Sea

Sunday:

  • Festival of Festivals – Festival organisers discuss what led them to partake in such insanity with Bob McDevitt, Quentin Bates, Dr. Jacky Collins. Moderator: Ben Cooper-Muir.
  • Winner Winner – Prize winning authors discuss the pros and cons of their wins with Robert Scragg, Rachel Sargeant, Alison Belsham and Margaret Kirk.
  • Till Death Do Us Part – What’s it like being in a relationship with another crime writer? with Nicola Upson and Mandy Morton. Interviewer – Graham Smith
  • Femme Fatales with Eileen Wharton, Danielle Ramsey, Sheila Quigley, KA Richardson and moderated by Dr. Jacky Collins
  • Let’s Talk: Mental Health Mental Health in Crime Fiction and how Crime Fiction can help with mental health with Dr. Liz Brewster and Dr. Chris Merritt and participating moderator – Barbara Nadel.
  • In Conversation with Professor Dame Sue Black. The anthropologist, academic and author discusses her life and work with Ben Cooper-Muir.Morecambe Boats

This is a festival, even with the amount of travelling I have to do to get to it (3 trains), is absolutely a festival, if invited again, I would be delighted to return to and review. It is attracting some great authors and I love all that is on offer and the diversity. It was so interesting to meet lots of authors, including some great children’s and YA authors and some doctors and a forensic scientist. It was lots of fun that they had a podcast. It was all very different for a festival and I liked that a lot. I had a very enjoyable time and many happy memories were created of the place, the people I met and the festival as a whole.

With the scene now set, I will be also sharing my reviews of each panel over the coming week or so.

Eric Morecambe      Eric Morecambe   

 

 

My Blog is One Years Old – First Year of Writing Reviews

First Year of Writing Reviews

As my blog turns one year old, I thought I would write about how it all began and I have included photos of the books I have reviewed below.

I was at the Edinburgh Book Festival sitting having coffee with author Wendy H. Jones when someone approached us. I figured the mysterious person and Wendy knew each other. It turned out she did and was introduced to me as being Kelly Lacey and she wrote a book blog. I vaguely knew what a blog was, it just wasn’t something that was totally on my radar. Kelly joined us for coffee. I was then asked if I reviewed books, if I wrote a blog and if I was on Twitter. My answer to all of these questions was a firm no. I then found myself being persuaded by both Kelly and Wendy. Kelly informed me how it was fun and all easy to set-up and there was Wendy telling Kelly how I support authors and would be good at reviews. Kelly then gave me her card with all her details, just in case I said yes, with instructions to contact her if I decided to set-up a blog.

I later went home, not feeling entirely sure whether a blog really was for me or not. I put the card somewhere safe, not sure whether I would actually need it or not. Night after night I thought about it. A few days later I had decided it would do no harm to do some research into blogs and on how to set one up, since I had no idea how to. I give Kelly and Wendy credit for getting me into blogging and to Kelly for giving me a couple of pieces of instruction when I needed. I also give another friend of mine credit for looking over it for me in the early days too at the design that you see in my reviews. Nicely she was complimentary and assisted in the gallery of photos. Although being a friend, I will say she is very honest in her opinions and friendship doesn’t come into it. As for the rest, I taught myself how to blog and review and very quickly I seemed to discover that I had a style. I also taught myself about the world of Twitter and how to set up a page on Facebook and decided on a name for my blog and for my Twitter account, which I played around with, with another creative friend until I was happy with how it sounded. I remembered I had made my mother a cross-stitched bookmark and decided that should be the profile picture to go with the Bookmarks and Stages name.

I started blogging essentially at Bloody Scotland. I wrote two reviews to try it out. I then went to the Morecambe and Vice Book Festival after conversing with Poirot and Sharpe actor Hugh Fraser, who was promoting his latest Rina Walker book – Stealth. So, I essentially went there to meet him and figured I might as well try and make myself useful, since it wasn’t until near the end of the second day I was going to meet him, so I started to take notes on the panels I saw at the festival. Once home again, I started to write it all up, first with an overview and then the individual panels. I remember also being really nervous that no one would read my blog. I needn’t of worried about that. Between the time of Bloody Scotland and Morecambe I started to introduce myself to some bloggers and they started to converse and to follow me. After Morecambe and Vice, the organisers started to follow and retweet on Twitter and I started to gain some author followers too, who still follow to this day. I am always so grateful to those who take the time to read what I write, often from a small room. Well, only need room for books, a laptop and tea or coffee.

I started to see more and more about Blog Tours and after asking a few folk what one was, I started to join them as organisers started to get to know my work and accept me. I now answer that question for other people starting out.

A group called Write Reads took a look at my blog and I joined up. What they do is feature blogs and decide on what and who makes it to blog or review of the day, which does wonders for blogs and for spreading the word about great books, essays etc. I have been featured as review of the day a few times and each time I am still amazed, mind you, it still makes me smile a lot when I discover I have new followers and/or nice comments to read about my work. I’ve had some of the most wonderful compliments from readers and authors about what I write. I am told that my reviews are well-thoughtout, thorough, understanding and thorough amongst other nice comments. One author said he was honoured to be reviewed by me too. I never take anything or anyone for granted though and I always hope the authors do well, after all, I only promote their work, but they’ve done all the work in creating a book, whether it is fiction or non-fiction.

No process is completely in isolation. An author may write alone to begin with, but then there’s the contact with their agent, publisher, editor, the publicity etc. Writing a blog isn’t completely in isolation either. If it is being invited to join a blog tour, there’s a bit of contact with the blog tour organiser and the author at different times and sometimes the publisher too. Sometimes I have had authors approach me to ask if I can review their book. Sometimes if I see a book I like the sounds of, I contact the author and ask if the person would like me to review their book. It’s about getting their book out there with and honest review. When they retweet, it can sometimes also nicely lead to adding followers, often, very nicely from the author and publisher too, so everyone concerned can benefit. There’s also other fellow bloggers who decide to follow too. I can’t say for other bloggers, but I certainly look to see what those I have had contact with are also doing in their blogging or writing careers and comment at times. It’s quite an extraordinary world really and not one I ever thought I would be part of at any point of my life and now that I am, I get such pleasure from what I am doing. So far the feedback has been positive from both fellow bloggers and authors alike, so I am happy to see where the next year in blogging takes me. It always feels like a priviedge to be able to review for authors. It is also always a pleasure to see people from all different parts of the UK and the world reading my reviews.

Thank you to all who give me such wonderful opportunities to review and who send me wonderful gifts of books to review from to those who share my reviews on their pages/social media and to those who read my reviews.

Adult Fiction Books

Stealth HF  Book RD  Book one RD   antiques and alibis bookXmas Reads   Bookweek Scotland Book   A Christmas GiftThe Wrong Direction Start  the 4th musketeer Time will tell book  Forgotten Authors closed  The Blue Salt Road Joanne Harris  Heady Heights Dark Blossom Front CoverLesley Kelly book  Birthday Girl book  Strawberry thief Serpent Book   Summer at Kindess Cover (1)   Sealed with a Death Book Cover  A Summer to Remember Cover

Non-Fiction

Lynn H book    zippy cover

The Longest Farewell book pic

Children and YA

princess poppy book  hangry hamster Bertie Cover William Ford Cover  The Treasure at the Top of the World cover  10 things book pic Toletis Cover

Extracts and Cover Reveals:

Hunter's Chase book cover (1)  death will Senseless Book Sea Babies Cover         settlement

Theatre Shows and Festivals

15398721253722621607279709738992  art pic  les mis

Edinburgh Fringe, Morecambe and Vice,
Bloody Scotland

Fringe sign  Theatre stage in Winter Gardens

Bloody Scotland Torchlight Procession

Essays – Books and Music and an Interview

Judy Blume Fudge music notes