They call themselves The Settlement Bureau. A faceless, soulless organization coercing Americans with threats to expose their improprieties and vulnerabilities. Inhumanely persistent, they’ve secretly driven hundreds of victims into bankruptcy, despair – and several even to suicide.
But when this organization tries to blackmail IT expert Terry Reynolds, they make a serious mistake. Terry is down on his luck. He is penniless, divorced and in a dead-end job. Yet, the abuse of his personal information stirs Terry out of his lethargy and he fights back. He embarks on a digital game of cat-and-mouse with the cold, calculating minds behind The Settlement Bureau – and in doing so, uncovers a sprawling criminal conspiracy.
Under The Cloud is a chillingly plausible new thriller by B.R. Erlank. With a plot ripped straight from the headlines, readers warn this book delivers a “roller coaster ride right up to the final pages.”
Boris Erlank grew up in Southern Africa and Namibia. He has lived and worked in places as diverse as Luanda, Cape Town, Singapore and San Francisco. Boris recently gave up his job as Global Privacy Manager with a Fortune 100 company to focus on writing full-time.
He has an extensive background in IT, data privacy and cybersecurity, and has drawn on that experience to craft his latest novel, “Under the Cloud”.
Boris lives with his family and two dogs in the foothills of Mount Diablo, east of San Francisco. In his spare time, he likes to cycle, hike, sing in a choir, and listen to audiobooks.
Giveaway to Win a £20 Amazon Gift Card (Open UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Joanna is approaching the end of her forties and the empty nest syndrome looms. She consoles herself with gin and chocolate, realising that apart from her son Jack, she has achieved absolutely nothing in her life.
Somewhat on the plus side of plump and barely five feet tall, she finds it difficult not to envy her younger, prettier sister. Such elevated elegance seems so unfair – as does Hannah’s successful marriage. Joanna, in contrast, has remained in a loveless marriage for the past thirty years, stuck in a rut with the most miserable man on the planet but not having the impetus to get out.
It takes an embarrassing but hilarious encounter in the supermarket to make her realise what she’s been missing. It’s exactly the push she needs to make her change her life. With a little encouragement, Joanna starts to regain her independence, finally leaving her grumpy husband to enjoy life as a single woman. As she attempts to rebuild her own future, her family and friends continually surprise her with their own revelations.
Life is never dull, laughter never far away; can Joanna finally find true happiness within herself at last?
For many years Susi Osborne worked in libraries, and later as a classroom assistant in a junior school. She currently runs a business selling all things vintage in an antiques centre. She also runs Northwich LitFest which she started ten years ago. Susi lives in Cheshire with her husband, her family and two dogs. Happiness is a Thing With Wings is her fifth novel. Her previous books are –
London, 1939 On the eve of the Second World War, Canadian Maggie Wyndham defies her family and stays in England to do her bit for the war effort. Torn between two countries, two men and living a life of lies working for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Maggie’s RAF sweetheart locket is part of who she is…and who she isn’t.
San Francisco, 2019 Over twenty years after Maggie’s death, her daughter Millie and granddaughter Willow take a DNA test that’s supposed to be a bit of fun but instead yields unexpected results. Willow has always treasured her grandmother’s sweetheart locket, both family heirloom and a symbol of her grandparents’ love story. But now she doesn’t know what to believe. She embarks on a search for the truth, one she doesn’t know will reveal far more about herself…
A gripping and heart-breaking dual timeline novel about love, loss and buried secrets, The Sweetheart Locket is perfect for fans of Lorna Cook, Rachel Hore and Suzanne Kelman.
The Sweetheart Locket is a dual timeline story following the lives of 1939 Maggie in London, and 2019 Willow, her granddaughter, who has made her life in California.
The story of Maggie is intriguing, and covers the years of the Second World War, while Willow’s story is mainly told throughout a five week holiday in London. There are epilogues concluding the stories of all of the cast.
The focus of Maggie’s story is not truly her work during the Second World War, but rather on the men in her life, and how the Second World War impacted on those relationships, and then how she kept much of this secret from her daughter, who also had her own struggles as a young woman.
Willow’s story focuses on her need to understand some DNA results she receives just before travelling to London on a research trip. It is this that drives much of the narrative surrounding Willow, although it is not the only element to the story. Willow too is trying to find true love.
The twin narratives weave together quite well, although Maggie is by far the stronger of the two storylines. It is her story that engrossed me, and although I did work out much of the plot in advance, The Sweetheart Locket is still an entertaining read, especially for those looking for the surety of happy endings. Willow’s story is perhaps a little overly complicated, and also too filled with happenstance for my liking. It is Maggie who by far shines as the stronger of the two women, although the juxtaposition between the two characters is quite nicely portrayed.
If you’re a fan of dual timeline novels set in both a contemporary and World War 2 setting, and with a strong element of romance, The Sweetheart Locket will be a perfect read.
Meet the Author
Jen Gilroy writes sweet contemporary romance and dual timeline historical women’s fiction—warm, feel-good stories to bring readers’ hearts home.
A Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® finalist and shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon award, Amazon named her third book, ‘Back Home at Firefly Lake,’ a ‘Best Book of the Month: Romance’ in December 2017.
A dual British-Canadian citizen, Jen lived in England for many years and earned a doctorate (with a focus on British cultural studies and social history) from University College London. Returning to where her Irish family roots run deep, she now lives with her husband, teenage daughter and floppy-eared rescue hound in small-town Eastern Ontario, Canada.
When not writing, she enjoys reading, ice cream, ballet and paddling her purple kayak.
Giveaway to Win 2 x Kindle copies of The Sweetheart Locket (Open to UK / Canada)
*Terms and Conditions –UK & Canada entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Sister Agatha is 118 years of age, whose vim and vigour would put the most robust athletes to shame. However, during a routine check-up, her doctor claims that she has just a week to live – inconvenient, seeing as the beloved sister once made an improbable vow: to be the oldest person in the world. At last count, she was the fifth.
Never one to admit defeat, Sister Agatha concocts a bold Plan B. Using her final days, she intends on travelling the world to meet the only four people whose birthday cakes boast more candles than hers.
And then, one by one, she will kill them.
Sister Agatha is a wonderful comedy. Sister Agatha herself is a fabulous creation, as are the people she meets and interacts with.
I thoroughly enjoyed the interactions and intersections throughout the story, and Sister Agatha gets to meet a varied cast of characters, and they too have their own stories told throughout the narrative. The whole premise is really quite clever, and thoroughly enjoyable.
If you’re looking for a gentle comedy, dark in places, then this is definitely for you.
Hailing from Navan in the royal county of Meath, Domhnall is a graduate of the Bachelor in Acting Studies Programme, Trinity College Dublin, later completing a Master’s in Screenwriting at Dún Laoghaire IADT.
He now works as an actor and a journalist, dividing his time between Galway, where he films TG4’s award-winning series, Ros na Rún, Dublin and Venice, where he and his Italian lover continuously promise their well-worn livers that they will refrain from quaffing so much Prosecco. (Unfortunately, it seems some vows, just like nearby Rome, were not built in a day.)
Wine-drinking aside, for more than four years, Domhnall has also enjoyed the responsibility of being Assistant Editor at Irish Tatler Man, a title whose various awards includes Consumer Magazine of the Year. Thanks to this role, he interviewed a host of high-profile names such as Tommy Hilfiger, Chris Pine, Kevin Spacey, David Gandy, and Jacques Villeneuve.
Domhnall has written for the majority of Ireland’s leading newspapers and magazines, including the Irish Independent, The Irish Times and RTE. He also writes a monthly column in Woman’s Way, the country’s biggest-selling weekly magazine.
His first novel, Sister Agatha: the World’s Oldest Serial Killer, was released in 2016 to critical acclaim (Tirgearr Publishing). His second and third books, Colin and the Concubine and Crazy for You were published by Mercier Press, Ireland’s oldest publishing house.
A collection of stories featuring favourite characters from Visions of Zarua and ‘Silent Sea Chronicles’, plus a glimpse into the new series, ‘Starlight Prophecy’.
With an assassin picking off wizards one-by-one, Kalesh visits Cassima, a former student, hoping to persuade her to re-join the Royal Wizards and use their protection to keep her family safe.
Kalesh’s newest charge, Paddren, has strange visions which link to a past event known only to a select few. The knowledge hidden in Paddren’s visions is invaluable so Kalesh must guard the boy at any cost.
Can Kalesh keep his students off the assassin’s radar long enough for his order to stop the killer?
Garrick the Protector
Fifteen-year-old Garrick is helping at his uncle’s farm when his cousin’s illegal use of magic threatens the family’s safety.
Mara is in immediate danger from the Assembly who deem all magic as a threat. The only safe place for her is the Turrak Mountains where exiled mystics have found sanctuary alongside the island’s Sentinel.
Can Garrick get Mara to safety before the Assembly catch up with them?
Conscripted to fight off raiders, Calder finds the months of bloody battle unleash a sixth sense buried inside him.
Finally released from duty, he travels home and encounters a mysterious woman who insists his life is destined to serve a higher purpose. Calder rejects her claims, wanting only to return to a simple existence with his wife.
But can Calder pick up his old life when the powers within him have been stirred? And why does he feel such misgivings about his return?
All three stories give readers a tantalising glimpse into the fantasy worlds created by Suzanne Rogerson.
I’ve really enjoyed this short story collection by Suzanne Rogerson.
All of the snippets of stories are well written, and certainly very intriguing. I will certainly be checking out the full stories on Amazon.
If you enjoy fantasy with a touch of magic, and some really intriguing storylines, I would highly recommend this collection of short stories. These are certainly ‘my sort’ of fantasy stories, so if you’ve read my Dragon of Unison stories, you’ll know what that means, and if you haven’t, then I’m going to say that these stories hint at books and trilogies filled with magic, and not too much graphic violence, and with a cast of strong characters, both male and female. I recommend you check out these short stories to see what you’re going to get. I’m really pleased that I did:)
Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her husband, two children and a crazy cocker spaniel.
Her writing journey began at the age of twelve when she completed her first novel. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave Suzanne the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.
Now an author of four novels including the Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy and her debut, Visions of Zarua, Suzanne hopes the dreaded ‘W’ word will never rear its ugly head again!
She loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.
Suzanne collects books, is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles and old ruins whilst being immersed in the past. She likes to combine her love of nature and photography on family walks, but most of all she loves to escape with a great film, binge watch TV shows, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.
I’m really excited for this one. I truly hope you, as my readers, will love this second book in young Icel’s story. My beta readers assure me it’s very good, and in fact, one of them was up until 3am reading the end:)
Here’s the blurb:
As a lone wolf inside a Wessex stronghold, Icel must ensure his own and Mercia’s triumph.
Icel is becoming a warrior of Mercia, but King Ecgberht of Wessex still holds the Mercian settlement of Londonia and its valuable mint.
King Wiglaf of Mercia is determined that the last bulwark be reclaimed from his sworn enemy to complete his rehabilitation as Mercia’s rightful ruler.
In the heart of the shield wall, Icel suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the battle and thrust into the retreating enemy stronghold where he must take on the pretence of a Wessex warrior to survive and exact a cunning plan to bring down the Wessex force cowering behind the ancient walls.
His allegiances are tested and the temptation to make new allies is overwhelming but Icel must succeed if he’s ever to see Tamworth again and bring about King Wiglaf’s victory, or will he be forced to join the enemy?
And, don’t forget to sign up for my Boldwood Books newsletter to keep up to date with special offers and new release information, and also to enter competitions – there will a release day competition to win some signed copies of book 2.
The Write Balance: How to Embrace Percolation, Revision & Going Public
Bonni Goldberg’s The Write Balance introduces you to alternative perspectives and motivation for lasting creative fulfillment. This companion book to the beloved bestseller, Room toWrite is filled with encouragement, tools, examples and exercises.
Through years of teaching writing in workshops and in classrooms, Bonni has seen that the writers who are most passionate and grounded in their Writing Self embrace three aspects of the writing process: nurturing ideas, revising to best communicate those ideas, and completing the writing cycle by going public.
In this powerful guide, Bonni invites you to explore these creative stages which are essential to satisfying your Writing Self.
Believe it or not, The Write Balance, is the first book I’ve read on the process of writing. I’m just not that sort of person who thinks, ‘I want to do something, so I’ll read and research it first before I try.’ For writing, I just started writing, and have made all the mistakes along the way:)
As such, The Write Balance, was a great read. I recognised many of the scenarios mentioned in the book, and quickly came to understand that Bonni Goldberg’s intent for much of the book, was to teach the body to accept that writing, revision etc was going to take place and to be receptive to it – essentially, making the process physical as opposed to just mental. And I can really see how this would work. All writers make pacts with themselves about their expectations and targets. It’s how we go about meeting these expectations and reaching our targets which is often the hardest element. We need to train ourselves to accept the processes, and there will be many different ways of doing this, and the author makes some very valid suggestions.
I defy any writer to not find themselves in one, or many of the scenarios, and I do believe that writers will find answers throughout the book, and if not answers, then certainly a means of finding a solution.
A genuinely interesting read, that fellow writers and would be writers will find an invaluable resource, even if they only dip in and out of it, when looking for solutions, the knowledge that everyone suffers similar issues and when seeking a cheerleader who wants you to succeed.
Bonni teaches creative writing at colleges and leads writing workshops internationally for all ages. She knows everyone is creative, and she supports people to discover and share their authentic, meaningful and imaginative experiences through words. Whether through her writings or through teaching, her methods and perspectives continue to empower thousands of adults, families, and children.
Bonni is also a Jewish educator. She speaks, writes, and leads workshops on Jewish topics such as Jewish identity, rituals and antisemitism at Jewish women’s events, JCCs, and conferences.
Bonni Goldberg lives in Portland, Oregon with her partner in life, and some creative projects, artist Geo Kendall.
Twelve moving short stories inspired by the everyday lives of women.
A single woman on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the Italian lakes still dreams of adventure. Can she find it closer to home?
A grieving widow finds comfort in the company of a stray cat that bears striking similarities to her dead husband.
An estranged daughter confronts an unspeakable tragedy from her past as she attempts to reconcile with her long-lost family.
Geraldine Ryan is a prolific short-story writer whose work has appeared in Woman’s Weekly and Take a Break’s Fiction Feast magazines. The women in this, her first published anthology, may be at different stages of life but all of them are experiencing the ground shifting beneath their feet. Their tales of love, longing and redemption will touch your heart and bring a smile to your face.
Riding Pillion with George Clooney and other short stories is an engaging collection of short stories of women, many of them bitter sweet, but all empowering. A particular favourite of mine was ‘After Harriet’ a story of grief, guilt and the need for forgiveness.
All of the stories are told with skill, ensuring the reading understands the characters they meet. Riding Pillion with George Clooney might well be the story that snags the attention of the reader, but all of the women we meet are endearing to the reader, highlighting struggled which many of us might understand only too well.
A delightful collection of short stories, that I highly recommend.
Geraldine Ryan is a proud Northerner who has spent most of her life in Cambridge – the one with the punts. She holds a degree in Scandinavian Studies but these days the only use she puts it to is to identify which language is being spoken among the characters of whatever Scandi drama is currently showing on TV. She worked as a teacher of English and of English as a second or foreign language for many years, in combination with rearing her four children, all of whom are now grown up responsible citizens. Her first published story appeared in My Weekly in 1993. Since then her stories have appeared in Take-a-Break, Fiction Feast and Woman’s Weekly as well as in women’s magazines abroad. She has also written 2 young adult novels- ‘Model Behaviour’ (published by Scholastic) and ‘The Lies and Loves of Finn’ (Channel 4 Books.) This anthology of previously published short stories will be, she hopes, only the first of several.
If you’ve been with Coelwulf, Rudolf, Icel, Edmund and Pybba since the beginning, then you’re probably with me in trying to work out how 2 years have gone by since the release of the first book.
I thought it worthy of a huge celebration, and so The Last King is on blog tour for today only with a whole swathe of hosts from Rachel’s Random Resources. Check out their posts and blogs, and you really might enjoy those hosts that have an excerpt from the book. When I was choosing them, it reminded me of all the things that drew me these characters, and this book, and made me write it the way that I did. The exuberance is difficult to ignore. (And remember – there are Clean(er) versions of all the books available in ebook format without the more offensive word that rhymes with something that quacks).
I’m going to pop some links here to blog posts I’ve shared in the past.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize. (These are Rachel’s Random Resources terms and conditions – as the author, I am responsible for sending the winner their book:))
Today, I’m delighted to welcome Tony Bassett, author of Murder on Oxford Lane, to the blog with a post about the inspiration for his book.
Much of the inspiration for my books comes from the wide variety of experiences I’ve had as a journalist.
I worked for local newspapers for six years and then spent 37 years in Fleet Street, mainly working for the Sunday People newspaper.
I’ve seen so many different aspects of life. I was once smuggled into judge’s chambers at the Old Bailey to test their security. I pursued Margaret Thatcher round Epsom during a by-election. I was present in hospital when Diana Dors’ husband Alan Lake announced to the world she had died.
I got Mandy Smith’s sister in Highgate to reveal to me details of Mandy’s plans to wed Rolling Stone Bill Wyman. I’ve been to armed sieges, celebrity weddings, and was in a magistrates’ court in West London when a Welshman took to the dock in a dazzling dragon costume. I’ve watched a group of students at Middlesex University being hypnotised by a dog and taken a fugitive gangster back to jail. So you could say I’ve seen a bit of life.
I have been able to use some of this knowledge to help with my writing.
I’ll give an example. In Chapter 22 of Murder On Oxford Lane, the wife of the missing property tycoon is reluctant to attend a press conference and walks out halfway through. This is based partly on a real-life experience I had one Saturday while working for the Sunday People.
I was despatched to a police press conference about a murdered man. His widow was reluctant to attend and walked out during the briefing. Afterwards the chief inspector spoke to me and another journalist, explaining: ‘You don’t realise how terrifying it can be for someone in this situation, being faced with a group of journalists in public like this.’ A short time after the press conference, the widow was charged in connection with her husband’s murder.
Another example comes earlier in the book. In Chapter 19, when Sunita Roy is trying to trace Harry Bowers’ cleaner, Tessa. A female neighbour reveals Tessa has moved house. Sunita questions the neighbour thoroughly. Eventually the neighbour recalls that Tessa’s removal van was purple. As a result, Sunita is able to locate the removal firm and collect the new address from them. This was an initiative that a photographer and I once used to track down someone’s address.
A third example of how I have occasionally used journalistic experiences to add colour to the book comes towards the end of the novel when detectives examine suspects’ clothing. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who has not read the book. Suffice to say the idea for this came to me years ago while I was covering an assault case at Cardiff Crown Court.
Of course, these kind of memories and past experiences are useful, but I also have to do some extensive research for my books as well. Much of this can be done online. For instance, I found a vast treasure store of articles on the internet about the effects of long-term immersion in water on drowning victims.
Information about personal injuries, hospital recovery times, martial arts moves, church procedures, police interviews and so on are all available at the click of a mouse.
But there are also occasions when it’s necessary to make phone calls. For instance, to speak to police about how particular incidents are dealt with. To speak to farming organisations about farming methods. Or to speak to fire brigade staff about the minutiae of how a particular fire might be tackled. Occasionally, authors also have to make visits to organisations or places to add to their supply of information.
I know fiction writing is based on imagination. But, like non-fiction writers, novelists still need to ensure their work is firmly grounded in reality. The author needs to be able to walk in the shoes of his or her characters. And the plot needs to be credible.
Thank you so much for sharing. Good luck with your new book.
Here’s the blurb:
The peace of a Midlands village is upset when local businessman Harry Bowers doesn’t return from choir practice. More concerned than the man’s own wife, it would seem, investigating officer Detective Sergeant Sunita Roy becomes convinced he has met a sinister end. There is no trace of the man – just a litany of evidence of an ailing marriage and a nose-diving business venture. In charge of her first serious case, DS Roy will struggle to win the respect of her colleagues – in particular, her Brummie boss, DCI Gavin Roscoe. All that whilst fighting off the attentions of an increasingly desperate suitor.
Who had it in for the chorister? And is Roy tough enough to break down the defences and prejudices of Middle England? MURDER ON OXFORD LANE is the first book in a series of crime fiction titles by Tony Bassett.
Tony Bassett, a former Fleet Street journalist, has written a gripping series of crime novels set in the Midlands.
The first book in the series is called Murder on Oxford Lane. Published by The Book Folks, it concerns the disappearance of a property tycoon from a sleepy Warwickshire village.
Middle-aged DCI Gavin Roscoe and his relatively inexperienced sergeant, DS Sunita Roy, are confronted by suspicious deaths as they struggle to uncover what has happened to the businessman.
The second book in this Midlands crime series, The Crossbow Stalker, will be released shortly.
Tony decided to set this string of novels in Warwickshire and Worcestershire after spending many happy years working as a newspaper reporter in Worcester.
He first developed a love of writing at the age of nine when he and a friend produced a magazine called the Globe at their junior school in Sevenoaks, Kent.
At Hull University, Tony was named student journalist of the year in 1971 in a competition run by Time-Life magazine and went onto become a national newspaper journalist, mainly working for the Sunday People in both its newsroom and investigations department.
His very first book to be published, the crime novel Smile Of The Stowaway, was released in December 2018. It concerns a Kent couple who harbour a stowaway and then battle to clear his name when he is charged with murder.
Then, in March 2020, the spy novel The Lazarus Charter, was released. It involves foreign agents operating in the UK. The book has kindly been endorsed by Marina Litvinenko, widow of the murdered Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, and by Stan and Caroline Sturgess, parents of the innocent mother-of-three poisoned with novichok in Salisbury in 2018.
Tony, who has written at least four other novels which are as yet unpublished, has five grown-up children. He is a Life Member of the National Union of Journalists. He lives in South-East London with his partner Lin.