The Midas Cat – The Harrington Collection by Tommy Ellis – A Highly Entertaining Read #TheMidasCat #TommyEllis #bookreview #humour #fiction

The Midas Cat – The Harrington Collection
By Tommy Ellis
Rated: 5 stars *****

 

About the Author

Tommy is an author and saxophonist. He’s played alongside Chas and Dave, Mud, The Troggs and Earth Wind and Fire, to name a few. He’s played in a nudist camp where he felt a tad over dressed and had to run away from a gun-toting audience member. He’s also had terrorists threaten to blow up two of his gigs! He is the author of The Midas Cat books; a series of surreal dark humour featuring an Adam Ant loving, talking feline that’s being tracked down by an unscrupulous banker. Think The Pink Panther as if re-imagined by Tim Burton. Available now: The Midas Cat: The Harrington Collection. A 3000-word short read. E book only. The Midas Cat: The Devil Wears Tabby: A 30,000-word novella available as an e book and paperback. The survival of Ralph’s marriage is dependent upon him capturing a hundred million dollar talking cat. Standing in his way, however, is the cat itself, Lord Lucan, an imaginary game show host, and a voodoo death spirit. Follow Ralph into insanity as the cat tears his life apart piece by piece.

 

The Midas Cat The Harrington Collection pic

Blurb

Discover the insane world of the rarest and most valuable feline on earth: An auction, an Elvis automaton, a truck load of jewels and the midas cat!

Review

Having enjoyed The Cat Wears Prada, I had high hopes for the next book. I wasn’t disappointed. It meets up with Ralph again, in a very sorry state of affairs for himself, after that book. Again, it is a brilliant quick story, of only a few pages and two chapters in length. It is a perfect, speedy story for adults, if you’ve little time on your hands and yet need some time to escape from the world for a bit.

There is a certain balance of humour and the somewhat downtrodden Ralph who is someone who readers can feel sympathy for, even though life is like no other, that I know anyway. There is an absurdity about it and yet that is exactly what makes for an amusing read. It’s also what makes for a most unusual cat that is worth following.

The story takes place at an auction house, with some collections that wouldn’t look out of place in the tv series Flog It and then there is the even more random. There is however The Harrington Collection, which has a very expensive pink diamond in it. The Midas Cat, that caused so many issues in the previous book (The Midas Cat Wears Prada), and who is worth a whole lot of money, is discovered now lurking around the auction house.
With references to Elvis, Postman Pat, When Harry Meets Sally and Peaky Blinders, this is a highly entertaining read.
I highly recommend it for the sheer fun of it all.
This can be found in e-book form and I am informed by the author, that it also may become an audiobook. So it could be worth also keeping an eye out for that in the future.

An Online/Virtual Event with Erica James @EricaJames #LettersFromThePast #VirtualEvent #NewBook

So, regular readers of my blog will know, that I have been attending some online events and writing some of them up on my blog. Today I sat in a room and watched the author Erica James do a Q&A session. So take a look to find out a snap-shot of her new bestselling book and a little bit about this very successful author.

Letters From the Past cover

A New Book

She has a new Bestseller called Letters From the Past, set in the early 1960’s. It may be a large book, but the chapters are lovely and short and it sounds a book that many will enjoy. It is a sequel that to Coming Home to Island House, but stands perfectly well as a standalone.
Erica James talked of her sons living in Seattle and Tokyo and it was when she was in Seattle with her son there, driving by movie stars houses, that she then decided to set the scene for her character.
I have been very lucky in being given the opportunity to review this wonderfully interesting sounding book on the 20th of April, so you will find out my thoughts and a little more about the story then, that will hopefully inspire you.

Inspiration

A place, something she sees, something that touches a nerve can inspire her.

Swallowtail Summer is set in Norfolk and for research she read up on, which she sounded quite taken by, and then travelled there to be in situ.

Pastimes

Erica James likes watching  some sport such as ice-skating and  gymnastics, her icon there being Olga Korbut. Her favourite sport of all is F1 racing. She also likes to do gardening and knitting. She clearly enjoys reading too as she has many books on her shelves.

Writing and Reading

For budding writers, she says read, write words on the page and don’t worry about who will read it, it might just be for you and that’s okay and enjoy the process.

Erica started writing as a hobby for escapism and then went on a writers course and a conference and it sounded like someone helped her out and she got an agent from Curtis Brown, who she is still with and got published by Orion. The writing came from a love of reading and she wondered if it was as fun writing a book as it was reading and it turned out, for her, it is and she has now written many books.

The covers of books have changed over the years to suit a new audience and as fashions change, book covers change. 

She enjoyed writing Letters from the Past and many of her other books.
She really likes A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford, although perhaps one of its time and people find they themselves change over the years. It was interesting hearing her talk so candidly about going back to a book to re-read after many years.

She says A Breath of Fresh Air is a book of hers that would be great for escapism. I reckon, all of them are really good to try for that.  Also try out her latest, enticing sounding book – Letters From the Past.

A few of her many books

An event with Multiple Bestselling Author Carole Matthews @carolematthews @KimtheBookworm #RomanceFiction #uplit #ContemporaryFiction #FreeEvent #OnlineEvent

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.

Carole Matthews Summer Days and Light Breezes

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.

Coming Soon:

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.

The Bobby Girls Secrets by Johanna Bell @JoBellAuthor @HodderBooks @HodderPublicity @TeamBookends #TheBobbyGirls #strictlysagagirls #WW1 #HistoricalFiction #bookreview #readingforpleasure #NewBook

The Bobby Girls Secret
By Johanna Bell
Rated: 5 stars *****

 

This is a delightful sequel to The Bobby Girls. I’ve been looking forward to re-joining the volunteer policewomen and I am so pleased that I have the opportunity to and to review this excellently written and researched book that has wonderful characters and plot.

I thank Joahnna Bell for being in touch with her publishers to ask them to accept my request to review again and I thank her publisher Hodder and Stoughton for accepting my request to review this wonderful series of books. 

About the Author

Johanna Bell cut her teeth on local newspapers in Essex, eventually branching ut into magazine journalism, with stints as a features editor and then commissioning editor at Full House magazine. She now has sixteen years’ experience in print media. Her freelance life has seen her working on juicy real-life stories for women’s weekly magazine market, as well as hard-hitting news stories for national newspapers and prepping her case studies for TV interviews. When she’s not writing, Johanna can be found walking her dog with her husband or playing peek-a-boo with her daughter.

The Bobby Girls' Secrets

Blurb

As the Great War rages on, will the truth come out?

1915. Best friends Irene, Maggie and Annie are proud members of the newly renamed Women’s Police Service. While Britain’s men are away fighting in France, the girls are doing their bit by keeping the peace at home in London’s East End.

But out of the blue, Irene is given the opportunity to be stationed near an army barracks in Grantham, Lincolnshire. Having recently experienced some heartbreak and keen for the adventure, she decides to go. What could possibly go wrong?

It turns out, plenty. One of the other WPS girls takes an immediate dislike to her and makes her life a misery. On top of that, the man she thinks could be the answer to all her problems isn’t all he seems. And when she finds a psychologically disturbed deserter in hiding, she has a very difficult decision to make . . .

Can Irene overcome all these obstacles without Maggie and Annie by her side, and find true happiness at last?

Review

As soon a I read The Bobby Girls, I wanted to read The Bobby Girl’s Secrets. I must say I was not disappointed. After the first one, I just knew that the second one would be worth the wait. This set of girls have captured me and this is turning out to be one enthralling series, with very likeable characters and highly believable plots. This is down to the research that Johanna Bell has put in, and clearly she has a love of this time period. I love too, that even though there’s a lot going on in the women’s personal and work lives, there are strong bonds of friendship, something perhaps people can carry through into their own lives during and after challenging times.

We re-join Irene, Maggie and Annie in 1915 on Bethnal Green. The three women, in their 20s, who made it to join the Women Police Service (WPS) are now firm friends, despite such different backgrounds and having little in common. There is a great camaraderie about them as they look out for each other. Johanna Bell, ensures you really get to know these likeable characters and their personal lives, as well as their working ones and she does it in a way that you want to be involved with them. There’s heartache and hard-hitting issues, and yet it’s a lovely relaxed pace. The book deals with prostitution (nothing explicit), the consequences that war is having on the men and life in-between, such as how hard it is to deal with losing someone you have feelings for and yet not necessarily reciprocated.

Readers will travel to Grantham to see what new challenges are posed and there are some new characters to meet, such as, Mary, Ruby, Helen and Chief Inspector Boldwood. The issues of status are nicely shown and the differences in attitudes and acceptance of policemen and those who are women on the volunteer team, not to mention some tensions between those in Grantham and a Londoner who had an easier time than them. There’s the trials of things being different in London and the countryside. There’s also tensions between stall holders and soldiers, with the merchants giving the men a hard time. There’s also challenges of getting used to the imposed curfews,due to prostitution. It is interesting to read about the different attitudes and opinions on it, from the volunteer women’s police service point of view. It isn’t all work however as romance is in the air, but all is not all as it seems.

The book is very well researched and is very interesting about different attitudes of the time. Although there is less of the characters (apart from Irene) in the first book, this is still a very good read as Irene carries the story forward and it is interesting meeting new characters in a new location. I feel it also gives a wider perspective of what was happening at that time.

Just like in The Bobby Girls, there is a really interesting part in the last pages of the book, after the story has finished and after the acknowledgements, there are some brilliant photos of Grantham and the people depicted within this book.

You can Pre-Order now from bookshops (lots are open for business online, including independent bookshops) and Amazon. The published date is May 2020.

Look out for the third book in this delightful series – Christmas With The Bobby Girls.

Take care folks!

Elaine Everest, Deborah Burrows, Margaret Dickinson, Rosie Hendry, Evie Grace, Clare Harvey

 

#Review of Paper Sparrows by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi – A Beautiful book about family, love, civil-war and more #PaperSparrows @EzziAbi @HhouseBooks #Fiction #libraries #readingcommunity #writingcommunity #readingforpleasure

Paper Sparrows
By Nathalie Abi-Ezzi
Rated: 5 stars *****

Thank you to Holland House Books for trusting me and my blog enough to approach me to choose a book to review. I chose 2 and one of them is Paper Sparrows by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi, which is highly praised by The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, Sunday Business Post, The Financial Times and more… The book is definitely, in my humble opinion worthy of such people praising it. It’s a fabulous book that will take you on a journey out of London to Lebanon to Beriuit. It will also take you on a journey of a perhaps, different life, but one that will have some resonance. It is emotive, powerful and yet subtle at the same time about what was going on in 2006. The book was published early March 2020.

About the Author

Nathalie Abi-Ezzi was born in Beirut, and has lived in Lebanon, Austria and the UK.
It was while working on her PhD in English Literature at King’s College London that she realised that she wanted to write her own novels, rather than just analyze other people’s. So, while working variously with an editor, teacher and tutor, she wrote and published several prize-winning short stories and her first novel, A Girl Made of Dust, was widely praised, and was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize and te Author’s Club Best First Novel Award, and was the winner of the liBeraturpreis in 2011.

Blurb

Back to Lebanon – to family, love and war…
Layla, a 19 year old music undergraduate, travels from London back to Lenanon for the summer holidays, only to find that her brother has gone missing. Without a second thought, she sets off to find him in Beirut. On her way, she picks up a stray dog, falls in love with Joe, another student, and sees her country through entirely new eyes. But just as she is beginning to pick up clues about where her brother might be, the July war breaks out and turns everything on its head.

Paper Sparrows

Review

What can I say? Amazing, Must Read, Beautifully written. The author captures music, love, civil war, family strains, compassion, warmth, anger incredibly well. I thought I would take a chance on this book and I am so pleased I did. Discover Layla, her family, the country she grew up in and what happens in her life and to the place she called home, all within this fantastic book. This is one of those books I hope many people read. It is more than what you may initially think it is. It is gently written, but the themes are anything but gentle. This is a book with substance and one I find myself hoping everyone takes a chance like I did and read it.

I cannot help but mention is the wonderful cover art. I absolutely love it, with the sparrow and pattern. It is so fitting for this book as, apart from it being called Paper Sparrow, it is set in London, Lebannon and Beirut. From the outset, this is a beautifully written book . It’s a book I felt caught up in and really hope others try reading this amazing and lovely book. This isn’t to say it is a cosy read. The words may drift easily along, but there is bite in this book as the plot builds and builds. It’s a book I highly recommend.

There is life, music and love in the air with the backdrop of civil-war. The way it is all written and joins together is encapsualting, beautiful and sensual. Wherever you live in the world, there is something that people will find relatable or familiar to what they’ve seen on the news, but written so much more subtly as this is also about the spaces in-between the war, where ordinary civilians lives go on.

19 year old Layla is the main character in this book. She is an under-graduate at the Royal College of Music in London and returns to Lebannon to attend a wedding. Imagine being away from your home country and returning to find things are just not quite the same? Layla did. She has been away for quite some time and people have changed. The book pronounces these changes and the feelings about them empathetically. There are also some wonderful and warm memories from her childhood that she reflects on from time to time, especially music.

Ziad – Layla’s brother goes missing. There’s been the pressure of exams put upon him, on-top of a worrying job-market situation and he may or may not want to take over the pharmacy. Something everyone, the world over can relate to, perhaps not the pressure of taking over a family business, but the rest of it. So, Layla goes on a road trip to Beirut to find him, picking up a stray dog along the way. It sounds trivial, it isn’t. The dog becomes more like a friend and she needs it. There is the desperate worry of what could have become of her brother.

This however is no ordinary story about growing up and life changing, this is a story taking place when there is civil war.
It is so well told and a great demonstration of how life can seem quite average and yet have different challenges from many other western countries as there are checkpoints to contend with, soldiers around and the news of what Hezbollah’s leader will do next and where his army will encroach on. This isn’t also your usual political story either. Find out the effects of civil war and family has on a person and find out where Layla goes and her geographical and life journey here. The book may be fiction, but the conflict in 2006 was very real.

There is something for most readers in this book.

In this very different time, let me take a moment to write a short note:

Bloggers care…As I write this, my thoughts also turn to everyone who is now experiencing very different times, possibly more challenging times as the Corona Virus and its effects unfold. Be Kind to Each Other and Take Care. More reviews and extracts will come on many of our blogs. Most of us bloggers have stepped up to support readers, authors and publishers and much more when we can. I want to let readers know still, what is coming soon or is newly published and independent bookshops also provide delivery services. I also know that this may be an isolating time for some and it is recognised that books can go some way in dealing with that as they can give people an outlet when they cannot go anywhere and a bit of release for a little while from these uncertain times. Books can provide the perfect escapism and are also good for wellbeing. It is lovely to see that so many Bloggers, Readers, Authors, Publishers are all trying to support each other, because we are all in it together. Take care and I hope you are all well. Thank you!

Review of The Midas Cat: The Devil Wears Tabby #TommyEllis #TheMidasCat #NewBook #Review #Fiction #Cats

The Midas Cat: The Devil Wears Tabby
By Tommy Ellis
Rated 5 stars *****

The Midas Cat

The Author

Tommy is an author and saxophonist. He’s played alongside Chas and Dave, Mud, The Troggs and Earth Wind and Fire, to name a few. He is the author of The Midas Cat books; a series of surreal dark humour featuring an Adam Ant loving, talking feline that’s being tracked down by an unscrupulous banker.

 

Review

The cover itself is mysterously quirky with the cat’s piercing blue eyes and smoke all around it. It sets up the book perfectly.
The chapters are short and sharp. It’s a relatively quick book to read with 3 short parts in 1 book, creating this witty story. I really enjoyed it.

When I was reading it, I could not help but think about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It reads like it could be staged there or somewhere similar. If you want a jovial, jaunty read with some clever twists, this is the book for you. It’s as much fun as it is quirky and all in a good way.

Part 1 – The Midas Cat – The Devil Wears Tabby
Lauren wants a Midas Cat. Of course she does, we all would like one of those right? Or would they? Ralph has the unenviable task of trying to find such a rare cat.

This book is refreshing, quirky and really good read. Obviously there’s the whole take on The Devil Wears Prada and Lauren being a bit like someone from Vogue, but that’s where this book is cleverly funny. Fashion mixed with the strongest possible desire of a rare cat, that also trumps a friend, what’s not to like and be intrigued about?
There is also the personal issues about whether Ralph is having an affair or not and also begs the question of whether the Midas Cat has something to do with this and indeed with Lord Lucan’s disappearance.

This book is clever in other ways too. Readers actually get to follow the cat. Turns out Cat has a love of Lady Penelope style cigarette holders and Adam Ant and is written cleverly like part human, part cat. This adds to the humour of it all. There is also the calamity of Ralph trying to catch The Midas Cat for Lauren. 

Part 2 – The Midas Cat – The Cambridge Institute Lectures. Readers will rejoin Ralph and Lauren; Ralph now being very unwell after the escapades of trying to capture the rare Midas Cat before. Things aren’t going so well for Ralph anymore and can’t help but feel even more sorry for him after all the trouble he’s been put through and there is some seriousness about whether he will be arrested or not. 

As for the cat, well, it’s as surreal as ever. The Cat has landed firmly on its feet (paws) and is host to the Cambridge Institute Lectures. It seriously needs to be read to be believed. There are also interesting chapters about the professor and the scientific experiments. The writing is witty and descriptive.

Then comes the final piece of the tale – The Midas Cat – Part 3 – Man Friday the Thirteenth.Cat now has a Onesie with too many pockets that it can’t find the loyalty card. There’s a charity event and a pub crawl. The Midas Cat certainly knows how to enjoy itself, whilst poor Ralph is trying to still please Lauren. Readers then meet Marvin, who is also an interesting character, who Ralph tells about the Midas Cat.
Read the book to find out whether Ralph gets the Midas Cat and if his marriage can survive.

* I thank Tommy Ellis for the free e-book and for asking to quote from me, of which I am happy about and so pleased to be asked.

* The review is unbiased