#BookReview By Lou of Cooking the Books #ChristmasAnthology By #HobeckAuthors @HobeckBooks #Christmas #Shortstories with #Recipes #Charity #TrussellTrust

Cooking The Books
By Hobeck Authors

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Cooking is Criminal when it comes to Cooking The Books By various authors who are published by Hobeck Books have banded together to create short stories, covering every type of crime fiction, with their favourite recipes, all in one fun and twisty anthology this Christmas. Essentially a crime and cookbook all rolled into one.
ALL PROCEEDS GO TO THE TRUSSELL TRUST (find out more about this charity after my review)
Follow down to the blurb and my review below…

Thanks first to Hobeck Books for inviting me to review on this last day of the blog tour and for the book. 


If an army marches on its stomach, what do crime fiction authors do? Here’s your answer, an exclusive collection of recipes from the Hobeck Books authors team served with a dash of brilliant flash fiction too…

If you love a dribble of ketchup or a drizzle of raspberry jus with your fiction, then this is the cookery book for you.

Discover the delights of mouth-watering Maltese rabbit pasta and luscious lamb in coffee. Or dare to sample chicken wings more deadly than a game of chilli roulette.

Then there’s the story of how a midnight cheese, cucumber and salad cream sandwich helped launch Hobeck itself.

This collection guarantees stomach rumbles and belly roils, and all proceeds help others through the Trussell Trust and their network of foodbanks across the UK.


Put in a mixing bowl – Hobeck Authors and Publishers, a spoonful of each sub-category of crime fiction, throw in some recipes people can create real meals from, stir vigorously and bake at a high heat and what is produced is –
Cooking The Books, full of twist tales full of crime and mayhem and authors favourite recipes you can make at home or wherever you may be

There are introductions to each type of crime fiction before each twisty, entertaining
Each introduction is written in recipe form!

Then enter each twisty story, one by one and solve the crime!

Then get busy in the kitchen as at the end of every story is a real recipe you can make from home. The recipes are the authors favourites. I, myself have found a couple I’m definitely going to cook.

There is also an interesting and exquisite foreword by author – RC Brigstock that is sure to get readers in the mood for many types of crime this Christmas.

So, get  your killer kitchen utensils out and bind together with a great dollop of crime fiction to solve the crimes, and with the enticing recipes, you can have the added bonus of eating along the way.

Remember too, this publisher – Hobeck Books is giving back. They are donating All Proceeds to The Trussell Trust that helps those in need with food.

Links to The Trussell Trust   and     Hobeck Books



#Review By Lou of Music of the Night – The Crime Writers Association Anthology @flametreepress @RandomTTours #CWA #MusicOfTheNight #TheCrimeWritersAssociation #CrimeFiction #Anthology #ShortStories

Music of the Night – A Crime Writers Association Anthology

Music of the Night

Waltz and embody the tune of crime in Music of the Night Anthology and hit the high notes with some new crime writers and soar into the crescendo with many top, critically acclaimed crime writers all waxing lyrical together with stories as twisty as a treble clef. Discover more in the blurb and the rest of my review below… Firstly, thanks to The Crime Writer’s Association and Random T Tours for inviting me to review and for gifting me a copy of the book.


Music of the NightMusic of the Night is a new anthology of original short stories contributed by Crime Writer’s Association (CWA) members and edited by Martin Edwards, with music as the connecting theme. The aim, as always is to produce a book which is representative both of the genre and the membership of the world’s premiercrime writing association.
The CWA has published anthologies of members’ stories in most years since 1956 with Martin Edwards as editor for over25years during which time the anthologies have yielded many award-winning and nominated stories by writers such as Ian Rankin, Reginald Hill, Lawrence Block,and Edward D. Hoch.
Stories by long-standing authors and stellar names sit alongside contributions from relative newcomers, authors from overseas,and members whose work haven’tappeared in a CWA anthology before. Among the gifted stars of today whose fiction featured in a CWA anthologyatan early stage of their crime writing careers are Mick Herron, Frank Tallis,and Sarah Hilary. It isn’t a closed shop, and never has been.


This book is full of original crime based stories from new and well-known crime writing talents, brought to readers by the Crime Writers Association (CWA), expertly edited by Martin Edwards.
The contributing authors are:
Abi Silver, Alison Joseph, Andrew Taylor, Antony M. Brown, Art Taylor, Ben Price, Cath Staincliffe, Catherine Aird, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, David Stuart Davies, Dea Parkin, Jason Monaghan, Kate Ellis, L.C Tyler, Leo McNeir, Martin Edwards, Maxim Jakubowski, Neil Daws, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jonasson, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan.

There is an eclectic mix of crime and music. I have highlighted the titles in navy blue.

The theme is music related and they have all tackled it with aplomb! Be Prepared is the opening title. Be prepared like a Scout and a Guide for music and song and suspense as a minor key weedles itself in, changing the atmosphere. The notes soon change to sharps in The Sharp Thorn as the harpsichord plays its chilling tune and who is to say they were the right notes? So, next comes Wrong Notes and a concert with something wrong with the piano as the bars of music are waiting to be played with a chilling sting in the notes tails, before The Melody Of Murder begins in the next story, with innocent talk about tv shows that then plays out to scenes of murder and what Netflix does.

Pick up a violin and will you play to the tune and see what happens in Violin CE. It isn’t just any violin, it is a Stradivarius, or will you hear a certain fragment of a tune at all in the sinister Love Me Or Leave Me: A Fugue in G Minor or feel the emotion of music and hit a crescendo as it climaxes with in The Sound and the Fury. Find out more if people live or die as the music plays loudly, filling the room.

Head to Berkeley Square to find, the nightengale has flown off and has been replaced in the twisty A Vulture Sang in Berkeley Square in a war and any sweetness there was has been cut through.

How about Not A Note with a piano lesson that has fast developing atmosphere or having The Greatest Hit with lots of emotion or creating a Mix Tape. Read stories featuring names of well-known popstars and bands, like a love letter to musicians.

Enter the darkside of romance in The Crazy Cries of Love that has notes that grip with their musical tie and a sense of danger. The writing is sharp as the sinister flat notes play, creating atmosphere or listen to the blues in Bombay Blues and compose some music in a way you may not ever imagine in A Death In Four Parts and there is A Scent of An Ending with a melancholic tune that reels you in along with its scent.
Waltz into the darkest of secrets to be revealed in And The Band Played On.

Music Night BT Poster

#BookReview By Lou of The Big Balloon (A Love Story) By Rick Berlin @rickberlinner #ControlFreakInk #Autobiography #Autobiographical #ShortStories #Music

The Big Balloon (A Love Story)
By Rick Berlin

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Big Balloon (A Love Story) takes readers in a rich tapestry of Rick Berlin’s life, in revealing, uniquely written short stories and sometimes just page long entries, including artwork.

Find out more in the blurb and my review. Thanks to Rick Berlin for contacting me through the Contact Me option on my blog and for requesting a review and for gifting me a physical copy of the book, which he kindly signed.

The Big Balloon cover

Longtime songwriter/musician/videographer Rick Berlin has recently indie-published two books: The Paragraphs and The Big Balloon (A Love Story). The latter is best described as a memoir collage dating back to his early days with Orchestra Luna as well as insights into his relationships, friendships and family. It’s funny, disturbing and profoundly honest – a torn pocket on the shirt of an idiosyncratic heart. 


The Big Balloon is strikingly different and a bit eclectic, with many, many revealing short stories and snippets relating to Rick Berlin’s life. At just over 600 pages long, it’s a big book, but don’t be put off or intimidated by that. This is a book you can dip in and out of. You could even start in the centre of the book if you like. Each entry is complete in itself, occassionally you may find a link somewhere with another piece of writing within the book, but you can literally read it however you want to, but I do suggest reading the prologue and why the book has the title “The Big Balloon” and then move off into any direction after that. Each snippet is just a few pages long and gives readers a chance to explore moments of his life, documented in this book.

It is certainly original! Not that short pieces of writing is original, take a look at all the short stories etc that around, but the way it is written has an originality about it. There are photos dotted throughout it that goes with the pieces of writing, they aren’t perhaps all that one would expect. Some are of ordinary, every day things, relating to the writing and relating to the everyday world we live in. They, along with the titles to each part, take you room by room, through a house. The book itself is eclectic in both style of writing and photos, taking readers through loves, music, memories. Some of the writing will tug at your heartstrings; some of it you may relate to; some of it cuts through anything sappy with a certain unexpected coarseness.

The big book of love is exactly that. It contains all sorts of loves and passions, life and death as you walk through different rooms in the house, encountering the music, a cat, sport, people and more… Leaving you with a satisfied feeling that you know a bit more about Rick Berlin than you may otherwise do. You get to know a bit about Boston and how it ticks and keeps on ticking through the ages with social insight. There is some quick wit in some of the snap-shot observations. Often written in just a line, the wit is sharp and to the point. The sadness that’s conveyed in other parts, pangs at your heart. Through parts that are coarse, there is also, a gentleness, counteracting that, in these all encompassing, reflective pieces of writing.

This book will most definitely feed curious minds and empathetic hearts in a lyrical, modern art sort of way.

Social Media Links

Website www.berlinrick.com,
Twitter: @rickberlinner
Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/rick-berlin-7429a316a/https://rickberlin.bandcamp.com/

#BookReview By Lou – The Wayland Babes By Judi Daykin @norfolknovelist @HobeckBooks #TeamHobeck #Halloween #HalloweenStories #SpookyStories #FolkStories #FolkTales #GhostlyTales

The Wayland Babes
By Judi Daykin

The Wayland Babes pic

Get ready for Halloween with these 5 spooky tales that will have your eyes open as wide as wide can be! Thanks to Hobeck Books for inviting me to review on the blog tour. Find out more in the blurb and my then my review below…

ghost story, Wayland Woods, myths and legends, ghosts, historical fiction, Norfolk legends


The Wayland Babes picThass bad. Somethin’ dreadful always happens when the chil’un be abroad.

The Wayland Woods in Norfolk – an ancient place where sound and silence, truth and myth, and life and death intertwine.

Some say that the babes of the woods still walk the Earth – wandering through the trees, forever lost, holding hands and searching for help. To see them is a terrible omen. As daylight falls, you may hear the wailing – is it the babes, or just the wind in the trees? What could it mean to see the babes, feel their presence, and be lured deeper into the woods? They look so real. They seem so helpless and desperate.

Five tales tell of five lives touched over five centuries by the so-called babes in the wood. If they beckon, will you follow?

ghost story, Wayland Woods, myths and legends, ghosts, historical fiction, Norfolk legends


5 tales in time for a spooky Halloween. 5 spine-tingling tales to creep you out. The atmosphere curls around you when reading the stories that take readers back in time. Time mysteriously disappears as though under a spell from when the first page is turned!

There’s a war horse, kings, churches and then there is the mysterious Mary to discover in the 1600’s. Fast forward and travel to the 1800’s for the next story, where the landscape is beautiful along the coastline and the Thames is also busy with barges. There’s and artist, but all is not what it seems. Still in the 1800’s there’s a Vicar and his wife and all seems very grand with a lord and lady, a great big house and a churchyard with a graveyard, with something mysterious.
Fast forward to the next tale set in the 1900’s with a bit of a war time story with an unexpected difference…
Keep moving on to discover Adrian and what he really thinks of Christmas and Pantomimes and what happens next…

There are a lot of mysterious, creepy goings on to see if you dare to follow these Wayland Babes in to their woods through the ages. I dared and was impressed by the sinister, atmospheric nature and calibre of writing to get it just right.

Each story is preceded by a poem that also sets the scene and gets you in the mood for what’s to come. There’s an Afterword about Norfolk Folktales and Pantomimes that makes interesting reading and further puts them into context.

ghost story, Wayland Woods, myths and legends, ghosts, historical fiction, Norfolk legends

#Interview by Lou with Backstories Author – Simon Van Der Velde @SimonVdVwriter #ShortStories #Backstories #Charities

Interview with Simon Van Der Velde
Author of Backstories

Today I welcome Bestselling author – Simon Van Der Velde, whose new book, is Backstories for a Q&A session. It is already becoming a success story in itself for this debut short-story teller with his book rapidly reaching Amazon no 1 bestseller – for lit shorts new releases. The book is available now.
What a priveledge to be able to interview him.

is a highly original collection of 14 intimate short stories about famous and infamous people who you may know. These tell their stories, fictionalised, but with enough fact so you, the reader, can guess who the narrator is. I rated it 5 stars and was hooked into each story from beginning to end.

You can find out more  Here First, check out what he has to say in his interview/Q&A session with me as we talk about Backstories, Writing, Desert Island Books and Music and Emerging From Lockdown. You can also find buy and social media links and the charities this book supports at the end.


What or who inspired you to write short stories and do you have a particular routine to your writing day?

There were always books in our house, so I guess writing is an ambition that goes right back to childhood.  I do love novels too, but sometimes I feel there’s greater power and truth in the shorter form.

Backstories (2)The best ideas come in that fuzzy place between wake and sleep.  Ideally, I roll out of bed and start writing – often in my ‘office kimono’, with those ideas still fresh in my mind.

You are clearly fascinated in the human soul and bearing all, what inspired you to delve into the deeper and sometimes darker corners of life to create your characters?

I’m not much use at parties.  I find the superficial boring. Give me the truth every time.

You have a particular writing style and don’t let on too easily who the narrator is of each of the stories. Was there a particular reason or inspiration for this?

The longer I write, the more I see that a story is a collaboration between reader and writer.  Readers aren’t interested in writers showing off how clever they are, readers want to be engaged – to be an active part of the process, and in Backstories they absolutely are.  Let’s call it an interactive reading experience.

What was your favourite short story in this collection to write and why?

I love the Guitar which was the inspiration for the collection – and Past Time and Jive Talkin – but in the end I think All Over Now is my favourite, probably because it was hell to write and rewrite and throw away and start again over and over and over, but in the end I really feel I did the character justice – and at is what I aim to do – to do justice to these great men and women – and give a human insight into the bad guys too.

In couple of sentences, how would you describe your book?

Let’s call it an interactive reading experience – or as someone said – the thinking person’s masked singer.  Certainly, I’d say it’s the most original book of the year.

Music notesWhat are your top 3 Desert Island books and music?

Waiting for the Barbarians, The Heart of The Matter –
and for music – Springsteen’s Thunder Road
                                 gets me every time

What is your next writing venture?

Backstories II, Backstories Musicians, Backstories Leaders.pen and paper pic

And last question, because let’s face it, it’s hard to avoid…. What is the main thing you are looking forward to getting back to, when it is safe to do so?

A few glasses of decent whisky with friends

Thank you very much to Simon Van Der Velde for giving me the opportunity to interview. It was a pleasure having you on my blog.

Buy and Social Media Links

This book is dedicated to the victims of violent crime, the struggle against discrimination in all its forms and making the world a better place for our children. That is why 30% of all profits will be shared between Stop Hate UK, The North East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth.

Amazon – Backstories              Audible




#Review by Lou Backstories by Simon Van Der Velde @SimonVdVwriter #ShortStories #Backstories #Charities #BookReview

Simon Van Der Velde

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Backstories take readers into compelling shortstories in the most original for yet! Guess the narrator in each story, it will be someone you may know. It is a book of backstories of famous and sometimes infamous, people’s lives, before they became so well-known, in fictional form.
This quirky book also has something extra…. Check this out… This book is dedicated to the victims of violent crime, the struggle against discrimination in all its forms and making the world a better place for our children. That is why 30% of all profits will be shared between Stop Hate UK, The North East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth.

The book is available in paperback, e-book and audible forms…. See links below and find out more as you see the very eye-catching cover, the blurb, the full review and then the links.




These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.


Dreamers, singers, heroes and killers, they can dazzle with their beauty or their talent or their unmitigated evil, yet inside themselves, they are as frail and desperate as the rest of us. But can you see them? Can you unravel the truth?

“Whatever happened to, all of the heroes?” The Stranglers 1977

I was twelve years old when I first heard this song and although there was something in the feral tone that grabbed me, I didn’t really understand it. I do now. I get the angst and the loss and the emptiness, which is why, in Backstories, I aim to answer the question.

I’m not interested in simplistic tabloid truths. They clung on too long, drank too much, lost their looks and their charm and generally reminded us that we’re all getting older. That’s not what I want from my heroes.

What I want is to find the spark, to dig down into their pain, their passions and their imperfections, and show you our heroes as they truly are.

So join me on my quest. Let’s bypass the obvious, the tedious,and the dull. Brave the deeper, darker paths where the treasures can be found, and together we’ll uncover the fears and doubts that made our heroes what they were and perhaps catch a glimpse of ourselves along the way.

Whatever happened to all of the heroes?

They turned out to be human beings, in all their diverse glory.



Backstories is waxing lyrical with an intimate look through portals into snapshots of people’s lives is what Backstories brings readers. It is short stories told in the most original, unusual form. Each story is almost like a game within a plot as readers have to decipher for themselves just who the narrator of each one is.

Each story is an intimate painting of life, of familiar scenes, of people you may know the likes of as the events and people, are real and are well-known, although pretty well fictionalised, but within in each story are good elements of truth.

The characters will have readers delving into the deepest, darkest corners of society and peels back people’s lives from any glitz and glam there may well be, to show souls that are raw, which can be read with real interest as even the most sensitive of subjects are touched upon.

These are fascinating stories that are an impressively compelling read. Backstories certainly brings something new to writing and style.


      Amazon – Backstories        Audible