Both music and books are important parts of people’s lives and is part of what helps people through lockdown, I thought I would re-blog an article I wrote some time ago about the influence of music within books, writing and more…
by Milton Johanides
Rated: 3.5 stars
I would like to thank both Milton Johanides and his wife for asking me to review this book. I first met them in the small community library I currently lead and happened to mention I had a blog. After a conversation with them both, I have happily agreed to write a review. Please note, my review is not biased. I always take books on their own merit, but whilst always remembering the authors, whether I’ve met them or not, are real people too. Opinions are always my own. Although I have rated this book 3 1/2 stars, it isn’t far away from being 4, in my opinion.
About the Author
Milton Johanides was born in the UK and now lives in Scotland. After earning a Classics degree at Bristol University he pursued a commercial career before settling down to become a full-time writer and artist in 2012.
The Cypriot’s Treasure Trilogy is based on his own experiences growing up in London and Cyprus. It is a pulsating tale of bigotry and betrayal set against the turbulent backdrop of Greek, Turkish and Cypriot history.
Artie’s beautiful daughter who one day meets the Hollywood star Claudette Taylor and is fired with dreams of fame. World War Two and Germany’s occupation of Greece intervenes and Olympia must adapt to the nightmare scenario which unfolds.
“My mother’s name was Olympia, named after the mountain on which the god’s reside. Her name alone is enough to summon images of immortality, and in her youth she certainly looks like a goddess, or so say those who knew her”
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into this book in terms of quality, but I have to say that it was better than what I was expecting. This is a book of emotion that encompasses psychological states, relationships between characters and of Cyprus and the history it holds.
I was intrigued to know what people are saying about Olympia from the start. The book is set in Cyprus, which in itself, is an interesting island. People who have read Victoria Hislop’s books or visited the island will be very familiar with it.
Olympia’s Dream questions life and becomes rather thought-provoking quite early on. Readers get to see the inner soul and psychological thoughts, almost of the main character – Artie, who is pretty insecure with his wife – Efthimia. Milton Johanides is skillful in immediately letting readers know the mood and temperament of his characters.
Artie is a character, despite perhaps, many flaws is one that can still be empathised with. He shows life isn’t easy and there is heartache. He seems to drive the plot forward, which helps move the story onwards and to create a focus and is certainly, in my opinion one of the more interesting characters. Where this book is at its strongest is in the emotions and the mental state of Artie. There is quite a bit of inner depth to the characters portrayed. This is perhaps where the strengths of the book really lies, is in the complexities of this character and when the attention turns to the ensuing war.
The book moves onto being a bit about war times and other historical times. Readers can get a glimpse into what Cyprus was like as there as Cyprus does indeed have a fascinating history. There is some interest to be had within those chapters. There’s clearly been a lot of research done to intertwine the factual with the plot lines.
The plot feels like it did lack a certain pace at times, although does pick up in a number of places, which was pleasing, to move the plot onwards and to keep interest going. This book is fairly good and is worth a read and will certainly be of interest to those who also enjoy Victoria Hislop’s books and it is always exciting to discover new authors who are beginning to come into the fore too. It is worth taking some time to read and to discover the characters and Cyprus itself.
Blaze Dog Detective – The Magic Flag Mystery
By Lin Anderson and Donald McKay,
Rated 5 stars *****
Today on Good Friday, to wish you all a good Easter weekend (even if it will be different), I am pleased and delighted to be sharing my review of Blaze Dog Detective – The Magic Flag Mystery. This is the first in the series, available now as an e-book on Amazon and will be available in physical form when normality resumes.
I thank Lin Anderson for contacting me with the opportunity to review this book and for providing a PDF copy of the book, and the various photos of Blaze, which you will see as you scroll further down my blog post.
About the Author
Lin Anderson is best known as the creator of the forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod series of crime thriller novels and is now also writing the children’s books – Blaze Dog Detective series. She is also known for her part in founding the annual ‘Bloody Scotland’ crime writing festival.
When the famous fairy flag of the Clan MacLeod disappears from a locked room at Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, the police immediately call in Blaze Dog Detective.
After all his scenting skills on the island are legendary.
With his team of Rosa, Rory and wee brother Laoch, Blaze leads the chase to rescue this magical flag before it can be spirited away from the island forever.
A map, a castle, a secret passage, adventure, cute dogs, robbers, police, a mystery to be solved, this children’s book has it all. There is wonderful mix of mild trepidation and humour and a terrific energy throughout. With all that and excellent characterisation and plot, I am highly recommending this book for children. Read on to find out more…
This is the first in a brand new detective series for children. Blaze happens to be a real dog in Skye who lives with his wee brother Laoch and their human dad and these are the main characters within this book, in fictional form.
The approach of writing about the dogs is excellent as they are not cartoon-like, they are written much more realistically than that. The instincts and observations of the dogs is cleverly written as they take on this quality that readers will want to get to know more of. There’s a warmth and wisdom in the characterisation that makes them endearing.
I enjoy the fact that readers will get to know the Isle of Skye, Scotland and then the dogs and then the story pulls you in even deeper into the mystery of the stolen and valuable Fairy Flag.
I love that there is a map of Skye that children can have fun with. I love maps in children’s books. It always, immediately helps to give them a sense of place as the story is set, whether readers have been to the setting, in this case the Isle of Skye, Scotland or not. The writing throughout also gives a beautiful sense of Skye and its magical landmarks.
Readers quickly find out how Blaze became a detective dog and also meet Granny Beaton (Granny B). She is no ordinary granny at all, riding a motorbike and possessing a crystal ball and has a 10-year-old granddaughter – Rosa from Glasgow.
There is a bit of danger within this story when news unfolds that the Fairy Flag at Dunvegan Castle, where the Chief of Clan McLeod lives, has been stolen, meaning that the school trip for a summer castle party may be cancelled. There’s a terrific illustration of the castle and its grounds, plotted like a map to explore, that is a brilliantly conceived idea.
Fang is easy to sympathise with as his story unfolds and readers will find out if he knows anything about the Fairy flag or not and about the mysteriously clever crows that appear.
The hunt is on and there is a determination to find the Fairy Flag and who stole it, with secret passageways, a cave, a mysterious boat called The Darkness, there’s excitement, adventure and mild trepidation and team work to try and get the flag back, before it is gone forever. There’s also the distraction of rabbits to chase along the way and a hope that PC Munroe will be able to help.
There’s some red herrings here and there, that creates for a great story for keeping readers guessing and gives scope to feel really involved in solving the mystery.
So this book is very much worth transporting yourselves to Skye and joining Blaze with his mischievous, fun brother in Skye, as he tries to solve this mystery.
The book is available now on Amazon and later on there will be physical copies available, when restrictions are lifted, so I highly recommend you watch out for all the different ways to purchase this book as they materialise. Just now, it is in E-book form and will make for perfect Easter weekend reading.
Click the link to purchase: Amazon
Blaze knows all the best walks in Skye and even sometimes comes to the mainland.
Lin Anderson kindly shared a few. Hover your curser over the photos to find a little more about where Blaze is in each of the locations.
On Tuesday night (31st March), I joined an online chat with bestselling author Carole Matthews, hosted by Kim who has written 2 books and is head of publicity at digital publishing company – Bookouture. You will find a bit about Carole Matthews books, including new books to come, how she became an author and writing tips and more…
Carole Matthews is a multiple Sunday Times Bestseller. She recently won a Romance Novel Award (RNA) for outstanding achievement for her light-hearted fiction.
Some of her Bestsellers are:
Let’s Meet on Platform 8, A Whiff of Scandal, For Better, For Worse, A Minor Indiscretion, With or Without You, The Cake Shop in the Garden, Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses, A Cottage by the Sea, The Chocolate Lovers’ Club, The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas, The Chocolate Lovers’ Wedding, Million Love Songs, Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights, Happiness for Beginners.
Just a few of the covers to entice you.
How she became an author –
Carole Matthews was a beauty therapist and decided to write about aromatherapy, but that all changed as she wrote fiction. She gave up the beauty therapy practice around book 5 to concentrate on her writing.
She entered a fictional short story competition and won £1000. She spent on a writing course.
Her writing was good enough to send to an agent and a contract was done just when chic-lit adn light-hearted stories were just beginning to really be on the rise, around 23 years ago and to date she has written just over 30 books.
New Book –
Sunny Days and Sea Breezes is currently due out 25th June. Set on Isle of Wight, Sunny Days and Sea Breezes are boats. Something tragic happens to a woman and she tries to leave London on the Isle of Wight and gets more than she bargains for. The Isle of Wight (on my bucket list), sounds idyllic and she did go there and researched to create a fictional area of the island. It’s written in the first person and sounds like it could be another absorbing book.
Sounds like she has ideas in the pipeline and some of the inspiration and authenticity sometimes comes from actual events and sometimes right from her imagination, but either way, she really gets to know her characters and sometimes they “write themselves”. She writes out everything about her characters in such an organised way.
Writing tips –
- Try and write everyday. Keep writing and you will get your style and write what is in your heart and find the story you really want to write.
- If you chase the trends, publishers might already be done with that.
- Take your time and enjoy it.
- Make the effort to sit (she tied her leg to the desk to keep her there).
- Try writing some short stories.
She also eludes to the fact that her writing has changed over the years, with the more she has written.
The types of books she likes to read are historical, dark crime, gothic stories and has always been an avid reader.
View on Social Media and Reviews –
The only negative is it is very time-consuming. There’s a lot of social media marketing, but she enjoys doing this and the interactions with her fans/readers and that she can reach more people and can chat to readers across the world.
She says the balance for people reading and taking notice of reviews has shifted more towards book bloggers and disproportionately perhaps to Amazon (could be true as most authors like it if bloggers also post onto Amazon), compared to newspaper reviews for recommendations and about how blogs are more accessible. (a good thing for us who are quite partial to writing blogs).
She talked, which was really lovely, about bloggers and the effort it takes to read and then blog about it. It is true, after all is said and done, we get a book out of it. We also may get a nice chat and a wider community out of it too.
An interesting fact is that she has taught herself to crochet.
She is currently writing a sequel to Happiness to Beginners called Christmas for Beginners – published around autumn. Do also look out for Summer Days and Light Breezes around June.
By Ken Kroes
Today I am on a quick blog tour for a book blitz. The quickest blog yet, to inform you of a new book – Feasible Planet. Check out about the author and then head on further down to the page to the blurb to find out what it’s all about. If you like Non-Fiction and are also concerned about the planet, this just could be the book for you. So, go ahead and check it out!
About The Author
Ken Kroes is the author of the Percipience Eco-Fiction Series and the non-fiction books, Feasible Planet and Feasible Living. He is passionate about our relationship with our planet and applies his diverse background which includes agriculture, mechanical engineering and information systems into his writing. Born in Calgary, Canada he has bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and has had the pleasure of living in many locations in North America and has travelled extensively.
He can be reached on Ken@feasibleplanet.com
Are we doing enough?
Are you concerned about the state of our planet and hope that governments and corporations will find a sustainable way for us to live? If you do not think about it too hard, that may work, but will it? Left on their own, with drivers of popularity and profits, I am not too convinced that it will.
The missing part of this equation is you and me. Individuals who believe that corporations and governments can do better. Individuals who believe that through action, we can buy a bit more time to develop and implement solutions to our critical issues.
Did I hear a groan out there when you read the word ‘actions’? Do not worry! Most of the actions that I am referring to will not only help save the planet, but will benefit you right away through saving money, time, better health, and having a happier life in general.
Sustainability goes beyond controlling our consumption and pollution. There are key social, political, and economic areas that need to be addressed as well, and there are several steps that individuals can take to help in these areas.
For those of you who feel we could do more, this book is for you and is loaded with actionable activities, the reasons for doing them, and explores why we are not doing them already.
Every journey starts with a first step. Hopefully, this book will lead to those first sustainable steps and that will change the world.
*Thanks to Kelly for inviting me to show you what this book has to offer and I hope that all my readers are well. Take care.
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
Toppings & Co
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.