Mike Robbins – update on a timely essay

Mike Robbins has visited Reading Recommendations a couple of times previously, here and here. He’s back now to tell us about a very timely essay he has just published. (Mike also answered my recent call for book reviewers, for which I am extremely grateful!)

Such Little Accident: British Democracy and its Enemies
by Mike Robbins
Published by Third Rail
Genre: Non-Fiction Essay

“When the people shall have nothing more to eat,” said Rousseau, “they will eat the rich.” But the rich are rather good at getting the poor to eat each other instead. In this provocative novella-length essay, Mike Robbins looks at how the British electoral system, social media, bullying by business, and a growing gap between rich and poor have led to deep fissures in British society. These have been exploited by those with an agenda of their own. As a result, democracy is now fragile. To repair it, we must look hard at the way information cycles through our society, and how our opinions are formed.

Cover picture: J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, 16th October, 1834 (Detail)
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Where to purchase copies:
Amazon UK
Amazon US
(also available on the other Amazons)
Google Play
Barnes & Noble

Mary Smith – an update on a new book

Mary Smith was previously featured on Reading Recommendations in March 2016. She’s back now to tell us of a non-fiction book, on which she collaborated with photographer Allan Devlin, that’s just been published.

Castle Douglas Through Time
by Mary Smith and Allan Devlin
Published by Amberley Publishing
Genre: Non-fiction, local history, photography

The market town of Castle Douglas, beside Carlingwark Loch in the southern Scottish region of Dumfries and Galloway, is relatively new, though the area has been inhabited from prehistoric times and the Romans had a military base close by. In the fourteenth century, Archibald the Grim, the 3rd Earl of Douglas, built Threave Castle nearby.

The town came into being thanks to fertiliser found in the loch and wealth merchant William Douglas, who laid out the present town in 1792. Though his dream of creating a cotton industry failed, Castle Douglas became a flourishing market town. The opening of the rail line to Dumfries in 1859 improved the town’s connections.

Castle Douglas from Dunmuir Hill. The imposing spire of St George’s Free Church dominates the old picture of the town. Houses have been built along the old railway line and a green space, Burghfield Park, has been created.

Though the railway closed in 1965, the A75 trunk road ensured the town’s survival as a major stopping point for travellers. Today, it is a major tourist destination, with many visitors using it as a base for exploring this beautiful part of Scotland.

All these changes are recorded in this unique and fascinating series of new and old photographs, making this book essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Castle Douglas.

                                                                   Douglas Arms Hotel, King Street. The picture shows the many changes in transport over the years. The hotel was owned for 83 years by the Payne family who offered to send a bus to meet all trains. Charabanc outings to the countryside were popular.



Background to writing the text: Amberley Publishing approached me about four years ago to ask if I was interested in working on a book, Dumfries Through Time. Of course, I said yes. I teamed up with photographer Allan Devlin who is a stunning landscape photographer and together we began to search for the 90 old images needed. After it was published, Amberley asked if we’d be interested in another book and so we began to work on Castle Douglas Through Time. We both search for old images, Allan takes the photos of the places as they today and I do the research, write the introduction and captions for each pair of images. I loved doing the research but writing the captions is extremely frustrating as there is an 80-word limit. I find it almost impossible to tell the history of some of the images in 80 words!

Where to purchase copies:
The paperback edition of Castle Douglas Through Time is available on Amazon US, Amazon UK and Amazon CA

Mary and Allan at the book’s launch party.
Photo credit: Keith Kirk

Steve Boseley

steve-face-bw-big Steve Boseley

What is your latest release and what genre is it? A Sinister Six: A collection of six darkly disturbing stories Genre – Horror / Dark fiction

Quick description: A Sinister Six is a collection of darkly disturbing stories, where the ordinary and mundane become extraordinary and fantastic.

Journey to the edges of reality and glimpse what lies just beyond our reach. Discover that nothing is quite what it seems, and explore the horrors that travel with us throughout our lives.

The characters within have been forced beyond the boundary of their reality and have encountered what lies beyond.


Brief biography:
Steve writes horror and disturbing fiction that has appeared in many online horror publications, as well as in several horror anthologies. He has also had work published by Alfie Dog Fiction. His first novella, Die, Blossom, Bloom, was published in 2016, quickly followed by his first collection of short stories, A Sinister Six. Steve wants to connect with readers by writing about the ordinary and mundane, but making it extraordinary and fantastic, giving readers a glimpse of what lies just beyond the edges of their realities.

Links to buy Steve’s book:

Steve’s promo links:

What are you working on now?
My next book! It will be another collection of short stories, similar in style to the ones within A Sinister Six. No title yet. Some of the stories were completed in last year’s NaNoWriMo. They just need editing!

Steve’s reading recommendation:
Keeping with the theme of short stories, I’m currently reading (and enjoying) C.S. Boyack’s 2nd Experimental Notebook. I am also loving the short fiction of Algernon Blackwood.

Sue Vincent

sue-vincent Sue Vincent

What is your latest release and what genre is it? The latest book, apart from the graphic novels, was Lands of Exile: But’n’Ben, written with Stuart France. It is the seventh book featuring the adventures of Don and Wen as they delve into the mysteries and history of Albion.

Genre? This is where it all falls down. At least I got my name right. I know we are supposed to write within nice, neat categories … and preferably popular ones to boot … We couldn’t call it fiction as it is based on our own adventures in the ancient landscape. Nor could we call it factual because, at least as far as I know, we are not being pursued by the police for the abduction of a standing stone …

We listed it under travel, because that, at least, was accurate.

Quick description: Ben is in prison, which is rather unfair. It hadn’t been his idea to steal the standing stone. If only he hadn’t gone back for the gun …

Don and Wen, the true culprits, are heading north. As they follow a trail of arcane signs, they are unaware that they are being pursued by the best the police force can muster.

Which, thought WPC Kraas, eyeing her new partner as he fished yet another pork pie out of his pocket, wasn’t much.


Brief biography:
Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire born writer, painter and award winning poet. She is also one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. Sue lives in Buckinghamshire, England, having been stranded there due to an unfortunate incident with a pin, a map and a blindfold; a temporary glitch of some twenty years duration. She has a lasting love-affair with the landscape of Albion; that hidden country of the heart that is the backdrop for many of her books, particularly those co-authored with Stuart France. She is currently owned by a small dog who also blogs and who gets all the fan mail.

Links to buy Sue’s book:
Amazon UK

Sue’s promo links:
Daily Echo Blog
Amazon UK
Amazon US

What are you working on now?
The current preoccupation is a five-act sacred drama for the Silent Eye’s annual workshop in April. It tells of how the power of the Old Ones was withdrawn from the stone circles and standing stones when the land was threatened by invaders and how the stones sleep, awaiting the time when they will be reawakened.

It is a symbolic story, such as were used in the Mystery Schools of long ago, to explore the story of the soul’s voyage through eternity.

When that is written, the next book will be Bean Sidhe, the second book in the Lands of Exile series, where Don and Wen head off to explore the sacred sites of Ireland.

Sue’s reading recommendation:
I have been re-reading Alan Richardson’s On Winsley Hill. It is the story of an old light and a new love that is, perhaps, as old as the land itself. Alan’s style soars through passages of otherworldly beauty to the earthiest of humour. He writes with a deep love of the land, a genuine knowledge of the human mind and soul and a gleam of mischief in his eye.

Although he is perhaps best known for his biographies of such major figures in the esoteric world as Dion Fortune, Aleister Crowley and William G. Gray, his fiction is delightful, sometimes wickedly funny and always has an underlying current of old wisdom. This is a man who knows what he writes.

Agnes Mae Graham

Christopher Graham, aka Chris The Story Reading Ape*, has done a wonderful thing! He’s gathered together poetry written by his late mother, Mae Graham, and published it as an eBook, available worldwide! Here’s “Mae” to tell us about “her” new book!

Mum B&W Agnes Mae Graham (Mae)

What is your latest release and what genre is it? My Vibrating Vertabrae: and other poems

Quick description: We all have dreams, loves and hopes; but what if you are a girl growing up in 20th century Northern Ireland before, during and after the ‘Troubles’?

From the poetic thoughts of our Mother, we get a sense of what it was like, ranging from humour, sadness, wistful thinking and sometimes just downright nonsensical, these are the words of one such girl.

Each poem tells a story.


Brief biography:
I was born into a poor-in-money, rich-in-spirit-and-determination, proud, hard-working family on 2nd July, 1926.

Both my parents strongly believed that education and hard work combined were the way to success, luck playing a small part, but not to be relied on too much.

Although they both worked hard to provide a good education for all their girls, reading was our main way of learning and we devoured books.

Needless to say, I passed the work ethic and love of reading on to my own children and they have both had rich and varied lives because of it.

My father loved telling stories and reading poetry, often combining the two, so I probably got that habit from him.

My life on earth was full and varied, as you might guess from my poems.

I died on 27th December 2000, but I’m glad to say, I’ve not been forgotten.

Links to buy Mae’s book:

Mae’s promo links:
My son has a blog and decided to call himself ‘The Story Reading Ape’ (he always was a cheeky monkey although knowing him, he’d remind me that apes do not have tails) and you can see the announcement he made HERE

Mae’s reading recommendation:
I read everything and everyone, but I must confess that my favourite genre was Murder/Mysteries.

*Chris The Story Reading Ape is known far and wide or his blog and the steadfast support he offers to many self-published authors around the world – including me! I’m only too happy now to return the favour and promote this new book he’s published of his mother’s poetry.

Judith Barrow

judith headshot Judith Barrow

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Living in the Shadows is the last of my trilogy. It’s a Family Saga but is also a cross-over into Historical and Crime fiction.

Quick description: Living in the Shadows, set in 1969, is the story of how the next generation is forced to live with the consequences of the actions of their parents. The first book, Pattern of Shadows was inspired by my research into a disused cotton mill in Lancashire in the North of England, and its history of being the first German POW camp in the country. Pattern of Shadows begins the story of Mary Howarth, a nurse in the hospital in the camp and the consequences of fraternization in WW2. The sequel, Changing Patterns, set in 1950/51 is a stand-alone book but also continues with the story. In Living in the Shadows the dark history of the Howarth family is potrayed against the era of the sixties; of free love, cults, drugs, pop music and miniskirts.

51CLk1CvWvL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_ (1)living in the shadows

Brief biography:
I was brought up in a place called Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines in Yorkshire. I moved to Pembrokeshire in 1979 with my husband and three small children into a half-built house in a field. I have had short stories and poems published, two stage plays performed and have written two children’s books. I tutor creative writing for adults under the Lifetime Learning Scheme for Pembrokeshire County Council and hold private creative writing workshops. I write family sagas which sometimes slide over into other genres.

Layout 1Links to buy Judith’s book:
Pattern of Shadows:
Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Changing Patterns:
Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Living in the Shadows:
Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com
Barnes &Noble

Or all from Honno – Welsh Women’s PressLayout 1

Judith’s promo links:
About Me
Saddleworth House Apartment

What are you working on now?
At the moment I’m writing the prequel to my trilogy and also a novel about a woman caring for her elderly mother who has dementia, which is a cross-over genre into Crime and Romance.

Judith’s reading recommendation:
May I recommend two authors, Susan? Thorne Moore and Terry Tyler. If not, I’ll stick to Terry; I’ve read most of her books and really enjoy them. She has a novella out today. Thorne has a book coming out in June, though, if you wanted to keep her in mind; she’s also a brilliant author … Sorry, am I straying from my remit?

Mary Smith

Mary Smith - web ready Mary Smith

What is your latest release and what genre is it? No More Mulberries – I would class it as contemporary women’s fiction but classifications are a bit of a moveable feast. The only time I was accepted for a BookBub promotion they changed the genre to literary fiction!

Quick description: Scottish-born midwife, Miriam loves working at a health clinic in rural Afghanistan but she can no longer ignore the cracks appearing in her marriage. Her doctor husband has changed from the loving, easy-going man she married. When Miriam acts as translator at a medical teaching camp she hopes time apart might help her understand the cause of their problems. An old friend appears, urging her to visit the village where once she and her first husband had been so happy. Miriam finds herself travelling on a journey into her past, searching for answers as to why her marriage is going so horribly wrong.

No More Mulberries - web ready

Brief biography:
I was born on the island of Islay, Scotland, home of some of the best whisky in the world, but moved to the mainland to Dumfries & Galloway when I was seven. Finished school and had the longest gap year in history which lasted about 30 years while I travelled a bit in Europe, lived in England where I worked in a factory, was a child-minder, and went on to work for Oxfam UK before a chance holiday in Pakistan led to work there. This was followed, three years later by a job in Afghanistan. I returned to Scotland when my son was five and when he started school I finally went to university.

I had started selling articles while working abroad and have continued as a journalist – sometimes freelance, sometimes staff – ever since. Drunk Chickens and Burnt Macaroni: Real Stories of Afghan Women (a title which seriously curtails tweets) is a memoir from my time in Afghanistan. I worked on what became No More Mulberries while doing a Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University.

Links to buy Mary’s book:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Mary’s promo links:
a blog about caring for my father who had dementia: My Dad’s a Goldfish
Take Five Authors
Novel Authors at Work
Amazon.com author page
Amazon.UK author page

What are you working on now?
I should be working on a follow up to No More Mulberries but have been side-tracked by two other projects. One is turning my blog about my father’s dementia journey into a book and the other is a local history project on the town where I live.

Mary’s reading recommendation:
I’ve just finished reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. The title drew me because “She was completely beside herself” was one of my mother’s sayings.

Luccia Gray

Lucy Luccia Gray

What is your latest release and what genre is it? I released Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall, book two in the Eyre Hall Trilogy, last August.

Quick description: Following Edward Rochester’s death, Jane Eyre, who has been blackmailed into marrying a man she despises, will have to cope with the return of the man she loved and lost. The secrets she has tried so hard to conceal must be disclosed, giving rise to unexpected events and shocking revelations, including murder, kidnapping, child theft, blackmail, and forbidden love, in this breathtaking family saga, which will move the action from the Yorkshire countryside, to Victorian London, and across the Atlantic Ocean to Colonial Jamaica.

Paperbacks my books

Brief biography:
Luccia Gray was born in London and now lives in the south of Spain with her husband. She has three children and three grandchildren. When she’s not reading or writing, she teaches English at an Adult Education Centre and at the Spanish National University.

Links to buy Luccia’s book:
Amazon UK Author Page
Amazon US Author Page

Luccia’s promo links:
Luccia Gray’s Facebook
Blog, Rereading Jane Eyre

What are you working on now?
I’m working on part three of the Eyre Hall Trilogy, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, which will be published in the spring.

Luccia’s reading recommendation:
I read every day, as much as possible. I usually read (and re-read) classics and contemporary fiction at the same time. I’ve just finished rereading Maria or the Wrongs of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft, and I’m in the middle of Demelza by Winston Graham, which I hadn’t read before, and am thoroughly enjoying.

The latest contemporary novels I’ve read are Midnight and Palomino Sky by Jan Ruth, a contemporary family drama set in Wales, and a romantic comedy by Lizzie Lamb, set in Scotland, Scotch on the Rocks, which has just been shortlisted for the Exeter Book Prize.

Maria Savva – update on a new collection of short stories

Maria Savva has been a great friend and supporter of Reading Recommendations, almost since the very beginning of the blog. She was recently included in the Reading Recommendations Revisited group of authors, because she has done so much to promote her fellow authors, me, and the blogs over these past couple of years. Thank you, Maria! Throughout this time, Maria has continued to write and publish her own books, and here she is now to tell us about her most recent collection of short stories.

Lost and Found_eCover_Final

Lost and Found
by Maria Savva

Human nature is not neat and predictable.

What makes us betray a loved one?
Can isolation lead to irrational behaviour?
Why do other people’s lives always look more appealing?

Ordinary people living ordinary lives, torn apart by regret, remorse, and deceit. We’re all stumbling through life together. This collection of stories shows you the Lost and Found among us.

Available to purchase from Amazon.

Maria’s links:

Sally Cronin – Reading Recommendation Revisited

Sally Cronin is a long overdue guest on the Reading Recommendations Revisited portion of this blog. Since she first appeared here, in Mar. 2015, Sally has been a tireless promoter of me, my writing, and this blog and the other authors I promote. She has hosted me twice on her blog (April 2015 and Nov. 2015) and is a constant reblogger of many of my own posts, from this blog and my others. As well, I’ve noted that Sally has become friends with many of the authors I count as friends and she’s very generous in promoting many, many authors through her own blogs. Sally was back on RR in Dec. 2015 to update us on a new collection of short stories. Even though I’ve known Sally for less than a year, she’s proven herself to be one of my most valuable connections online through her constant support, promotion of, and interest in, all the authors, artists, musicians who are creating today. And Sally also continues to write and publish her own books, both fiction and non-fiction. So here’s Sally now, promotion tables turned, to tell you more about herself!

Sally Cronin’s complete list of books and information on her writing
My Book and Reviews

RRR: Since your first promotion on RR, what have you been doing?
SC: It has been an interesting few months since Tales of the Garden came out at the end of 2015. The book had started life as a series of short stories on my blog and then when I realised readers were enjoying the fairy tales, I decided to release it in eBook and in print. I really appreciated the whole process; it was a great way to get feedback on each story enabling me to tweak them before publishing. It also gave me instant gratification each week rather than waiting months for a book to come out.

I enjoyed it so much I am doing it again with my series What’s in a Name which takes each letter in the alphabet and alternate weeks I write a story about a female character and then a male character with a name beginning with that letter. What’s in a Name – Short Stories.

Again it has proved very valuable and I am a few stories away from the first of two anthologies. The other benefit of writing the collection is that I will have 52 characters already partly established for other stories or novels.

I have spent the last two years building up my blog and social media networks. My intention was not to add thousands of followers but to build a community of like-minded people which include writers, artists, musicians and bloggers. I have met some fascinating and talented people from around the world. This platform offers me the opportunity to promote the work of others to a substantial audience and I will continue to develop this in the coming year.

I have some new book and blog promotions for 2016 and this includes New Book Fanfare for Children’s books, New Book in Series, Free or Discounted Books and the Five Star Treatment for books that receive great reviews. The new Sunday interview post is Open House and here are the links for them: Sunday Open House and Free Promotion Opportunities

RRR: What else have you been doing, outside of the writing?
SC: We have our house here in Madrid on the market and we have decided to become a little more creative to combat the slow Spanish market. Apart from price incentives we have persuaded the two agents we have here to adopt a different approach to their traditional methods. This involves arranging to Open Houses in the spring, something they do not tend to do here. At least we will feel that we are being proactive rather than sitting waiting for the phone to ring.

It actually takes up quite a bit of time keeping the house and gardens ready for viewing all the time as well as working on writing projects. It is bitter sweet as I shall miss our friends here in Spain, the sunshine and the view. However, we would also like to be nearer to both our families in the UK and Ireland.

header book covers

RRR: Is there one marketing tip or trick you discovered while promoting your own books that worked particularly well and that you’d like to share with other authors?
SC: I find it really satisfying being in a position to help other writers promote their work on Smorgasbord. Over the last year it has become evident that those guests who are interactive after the post get the most attention. They answer all the comments, share the post across their own network, send the post link to their email contact list and pop in to the post for several days to ensure that they continue to be part of the process.

What some people do not realise is that if someone reads the post and likes or shares it they may be discouraged from commenting if they see that other feedback has not been responded to in some way.

It is a guest’s showcase and it is important to make the most of the networking opportunity in every way possible. People do buy people first and are more inclined to buy books from those who add a personal touch.

RRR: Please recommend three other authors whose work you have “discovered” or rediscovered this past year.
SC: In the past year I have read a number of Indie books including the three by Judith Barrow. Set in the Second World War and moving forward into the 50s and 60s the series tells the stories of families living in a mill town. The characters came to life and the story flowed beautifully from book to book. Pattern of Shadows, Changing Patterns and Living in the Shadows. Available from Amazon

I also read Jo Robinson‘s Echoes Of Narcissus in the Gardens of Delight which is a compelling story of a woman trapped in a destructive relationship. I have had some experience of being married to a narcissist many years ago and it is great that the condition is now being explored in more depth in both non-fiction and fiction books. Available from Amazon

For Haiku lovers there is PhoKu by Annette Rochelle Aben. This book is a combination of wonderful photographic images and wonderful words. Annette is also a hugely supportive blogger and great indie supporter. Available from Amazon

And if I can add a fourth?

I am also working my way through all of Bernard Cornwell’s novels, alternating between Sharpe and The Last Kingdom series. Brilliant author of fabulous novels; I am pretty sure I must have been a Viking in a past life!

Thank you again so much Susan. I really appreciate the support.

Thank you, Sally!