#GuestPost : Veronica’s Bird by Veronica Bird & Richard Newman : @AuthorightUKPR @Authoright @gilbster1000

Veronicas Bird Cover

I am delighted to be sharing a guest post for “Veronica’s Bird”.  Published by Clink Street Publishing and available in paperback and eBook formats.  Available to purchase now at Amazon UK 

When this book was offered to me by Rachel at Authoright I knew immediately that it was one I wanted to read, but also knew that I was already booked up.   There were many questions I would like to pose to the author regarding her time working in a male prison.  So my focus was regarding the changes in prison over the years.  I have a wonderful post that is honest and insightful to share with you.  It has made me more determined than ever to read this book soon.

Guest Post:

Question: How has the prison service changed in the time Veronica was there?

Veronica’s Bird by Veronica Bird and Richard Newman 

It is a commonplace today to criticise the lives of prisoners: ‘too soft’, ‘too cushy’, they say. Choice of menu, carpets in cells, television and radio, ensuite facilities, own door key. What, is going on? So, are these not the good things we all aspired to in a caring society?

Let us make a comparison between a modern prison today with Dartmoor Prison when Veronica entered the Service. Prisoners in those days wore canvas uniforms printed with arrows (even their boots had studs in the shape of an arrow) no television of course, or radio, often deliberately awful food, flogging, no human rights and too far for families to travel and visit, being on the edge of the world, or at least, hidden away in the heavy moor mist. Hard labour was just that: breaking up stone (granite) in a quarry in a chain gang. The men had no rights at all and if a prisoner happened to be mentally ill they were placed under even greater hardship.

No-one, surely wants to see a return to those days, but many of the public still seek an eye for an eye, that the prisoner must feel the lash of the cat ‘o nine -tails albeit if only in a virtual world of his own making. And so, we moved away from chain gangs and, gradually, conditions improved, propped up massively by the European Court of Justice. A balance seemed to have been found. Prison was hard, boring and a huge waste of time – and treasure – but the punishment was fitting the crime in people’s minds. Canvas uniforms with arrows disappeared, there was better food, better on-site hospital care, prison visiting groups could report inconsistencies. We all felt Britain was moving towards being a member of this much espoused, caring society.

Then the pendulum began to swing. Drugs began to rear their ugly head and the snag of importing it into prisons became easier. Now, under organised crime and despite visitors having a rub down and being obliged to open their mouths at the prison gate, the drug flow continues. Drugs can be mixed with children’s paints in a picture brought in ‘for daddy’. It is hidden in kids’ nappies or it can be thrown over prison walls. With thirty-five percent of prisoners already addicted a further two thousand non-drug-takers each year will be addicted before they end their sentence.

And now, with potent drugs such as spice, while we have a prison population living within their ‘rights,’ we are also converting our youth into addicts who will steal and maim in their effort to get their ‘fix’ once they are released. Something is radically wrong here.

Today, staff are better equipped, better trained and unionised. They have to work to strict rules which protect them as well as their charges. They are though, under pressure as budgets are cut, leading to a frightening increase in assaults often triggered by the drug-taking by prisoners who know their rights and use them as a shield. Working in the Prison Service has never been easy but without radical and courageous change, something which successive governments are fain to consider, things will only get worse.

Veronica’s book continues the debate on the vexed subject of how to deal with the varying categories of prisoner. With the death penalty gone and prisoners handed the keys to their cells, we all need to think carefully what is really implied as an eye for an eye.

Veronica’s Bird   –   Copyright © Richard Newman 2018.  Authors Veronica Bird and Richard Newman. Published by Clink Street Publications 23rd January 2017

Veronicas Bird Cover

 

Synopsis:

Veronica’s Bird: Thirty-five years inside as a female prison officer 

Veronica Bird was one of nine children living in a tiny house in Barnsley with a brutal coal miner for a father. Life was a despairing time in the 1950s, as Veronica sought desperately to keep away from his cruelty. Astonishingly, to her and her mother, she won a scholarship to Ackworth Boarding School where she began to shine above her class-mates. A champion in all sports, Veronica at last found some happiness until her brother-in-law came into her life. It was as if she had stepped from the frying pan into the re: he took over control of her life removing her from the school she adored, two terms before she was due to take her GCEs, so he could put her to work as a cheap option on his market stall. Abused for many years by these two men, Veronica eventually ran away and applied to the Prison Service, knowing it was the only safe place she could trust. This is the astonishing, and true story of Veronica Bird who rose to become a Governor of Armley prison. Given a ‘basket case’ in another prison, contrary to all expectations, she turned it around within a year, to become an example for others to match. During her life inside, her ‘bird’, she met many Home Secretaries, was honoured by the Queen and was asked to help improve conditions in Russian Prisons. A deeply poignant story of eventual triumph against a staggeringly high series of setbacks, her story is led with humour and compassion for those inside.

About the Authors:

After thirty-five years working for the Prison Service, Veronica Bird is now retired and living in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. She is still an active proponent of the justice system and continues to lecture across the country and is a supporter of Butler Trust, which acknowledges excellence within the prison system. A qualified architect and Swiss-trained hotelier, Richard Newman enjoyed a forty-year career designing and managing hotels worldwide before retiring in 2001. Since

then he has gone on to publish a number of novels: The Crown of Martyrdom, The Horse that Screamed, The Potato Eaters, The Green Hill, Brief Encounters and most recently The Sunday Times bestseller, A Nun’s Story. He is currently working on a new novel about retirement and an autobiography of his time in the Middle East. He lives happily with his wife in Wetherby, West Yorkshire where he enjoys being close to his family.

Monika Cover 2Follow other bloggers as they share their thoughts on Veronica’s Bird.

I will be reading this book in the near future and will then will add my thoughts also.

Many thanks for reading my post, if you liked it please give a share.  Better still go and buy a copy of this book xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#12DaysofClinkStreetChristmas : Molly Fish by Jack McMasters : @Authoright @AuthorightUKPR @gilbster1000 : #BookReview #BlogTour

 

 

Many thanks to Rachel at Authoright for the invite to take part in the “12 Days of Clink Street Christmas”. My post today is for “Molly Fish” by Jack McMasters.  This book is available in paperback or as an eBook.

 (Check out the calendar at the bottom of this post for more information.)

Synopsis:

 

When retired architect Arthur Howard receives an unexpected invitation from the elegant businesswoman he has just met, her promise of two weeks of incredible sex is enough to persuade him to forget his stale marriage and follow her to India. Leaving thoughts of his younger wife Ester far behind, Rani leads Arthur into paradise; her home lies in a beautiful valley filled with quiet villages, tranquil lakes, tea plantations and crocus fields, a place where his every need is catered for and his attention sought wherever he goes.
But danger lies hidden here. Arthur discovers that Rani and the other villagers he meets in this rural Indian idyl are the ancestors of an ancient civilization, thought to be merely mythical. From his contact with them, he succumbs to a mysterious illness that keeps him bedridden for a long period in a darkened room. Confused and stricken, Arthur’s days and nights are haunted by wild dreams; when he is unable to sleep, he reminisces about early love affairs and fears for his failing relationship with Ester until he is unable to distinguish dreams from reality.

My Thoughts:

Now first off, I am not a big reader of “Romance”, so why on earth would I decide to choose a book that has “A Love Story” as part of its title ? Well it was actually the second paragraph of the synopsis that got me, mythical, ancient civilisation and India part. I am so glad this was included in the synopsis or I, if I am completely honest, would probably have given it a miss.  Yes there is a love aspect in this story, but it was nothing like I expected, it is a love story with a catch.

Arthur is a retired architect who flirts with Rani, a beautiful, successful business woman and gets a result.  He agrees to accompany her to her village, very lucky chap you may think, and initially he seems to have fallen on his feet.  But as you start to get into the story there are little things at the periphery of it that start to niggle, of something that is a little unusual, and I am not going to divulge what those things are.

Jack has built up some beautiful descriptions of the valley, the people and the environment with a twist of mystery, wonder and awe.  As Arthur is taken around the valley, the back story of his and also Rani’s life, as well as the history of their location is given.

So for me, a love story that I liked, well it was more the other aspects that I liked, though the romance side of it was actually okay.  I liked being surprised by this book, an found it to be an addictive page turner that for me would be ideal read for those who like literary fiction, contemporary fiction and romance with an underlying darker element.

About the Author:

After growing up on a farm in northeast Missouri, McMasters joined the United States Air Force after attending the University of Missouri where he was sent to High Wycombe, England. He currently resides in Norfolk with his wife. While researching Molly Fish, McMasters travelled to India where he competed in the Karma Enduro, a 2,000 kilometer trek through the Western Ghats. He has previously published two short story collections, Iron(ing) Man and The Cucumber Murders and been featured by Škoda Magazine and the Eastern Daily Press.

 

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Clink Street Publishing (29 Jun. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1911525697
  • ISBN-13: 978-1911525691
  • Amazon UK or   Barnes and Noble

Check out the other brilliant books, dates, bloggers for

Clink Street 12 Days of Christmas.

12Days2017_Calendar

Many thanks for reading my post.  If you liked it, please give it a little share.  Better still, go and buy the book.

#BlogTour : The Prisoner’s Wife by Gerard MacDonald : @AuthorightUKPR @gilbster1000 @Authoright #BookReview

Today I am pleased to be sharing my thoughts on the blog tour for “The Prisoner’s Wife” by Gerard MacDonald.  Available in hardback or as an eBook. 

Book Details:

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312591802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312591809
  • Purchase from Amazon UK

Synopsis:

From the CIA headquarters to the danger zones of Morocco and Pakistan, undercover agent Shawn Maguire is embroiled in a sinister conspiracy and an unlikely romance in this exhilarating debut spy thriller.

Shawn Maguire, unemployed American spy, has been paid to find a young Iranian now being interrogated in one of the CIA’s black prisons. The prisoner’s location remains unknown – he may be in Fes, Cairo or even Peshawar – but Shawn has every confidence that he’ll find his man eventually. Based on his time as an agent, it’s an assignment he knows he can handle. But there’s one person he’s not sure even he can handle: the prisoner’s wife.

The Prisoner’s Wife is a political thriller ripped from today’s headlines; a tense trip through the murky worlds of state–sponsored terrorism, nuclear politics, secret American jails and lawless rendition. Conspiracies abound in this sophisticated and suspenseful novel, with its crackling dialogue and evocative, lawless landscapes. Maguire is a first-rate protagonist, complicated and heroic, and writer Gerard Macdonald does an expert job of capturing the casual ambivalence of the American intelligence officers in their rendition campaigns and keenly observes the cynical manner in which operatives prop up or depose criminal leaders depending on Americas own needs.

My Thoughts:

Shawn Maguire is an ex American spy who has problems with whiskey, women and a whole lot of other things.  As he is unemployed he takes on a job that will call on his previous experience to find a missing man, Darius Osmani.  During this he will meet Danielle, to see what she knows of her husbands disappearance.  The journey will take them to Morocco, Egypt and Pakistan, with a lot of twists and danger.

Now I have to admit that I really struggled to get going with this book.  The information was intense, a mass of names, places, agencies, and back stories.  But I persevered, there was hints of things I liked, conspiracy, underhanded and illegal government agency involvement and with that obvious corruption.  As the story progressed  I found I was becoming quite addicted with it, the pace quickened, or maybe it was reading that quickened as my understanding improved, and with this the story began to unfold. When I had finished I had thoughts of an almost Jack Reacher style character with strains of John Le Carre, and it makes an interesting mix.

There are many characters with Shawn being the main protagonist, who initially I wasn’t that taken with, but did have a change of heart by the time I got to the end of the book.  They do become recognisable the more you read.  Back stories are discussed as the current story unfolds, it does add another angle and gives some good depth to the main characters.

This is a book I think that readers that like political thriller, action, government conspiracy and manipulation would enjoy.

About the Author:

Author Gerard Macdonald lives in West London and is currently working on a short series of political fiction books.   Author Website

Many thanks for reading my post.  If you liked it, please give a share.  Better still, go and buy the book.

#12DaysofClinkStreetChristmas : The Learn by @TonyHalker : @Authoright @AuthorightUKPR @gilbster1000 : #BookReview #BlogTour

 

 

Many thanks to Rachel at Authoright for the invite to take part in the “12 Days of Clink Street Christmas”. My post today is for “The Learn” by Tony Halker.  This book is available in paperback or as an eBook.

 (Check out the calendar at the bottom of this post for more information.)

Synopsis: 

Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.


A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior.  Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging.
Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.


At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by.
A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.

My thoughts:

Set in North Wales during the Celtic Bronze Age we are introduced to Owayne, son of a beach scavenger.  We follow him as he follows his destined path to become a Druid.  This is a period in history where things are in a state of change, all knowledge, law and stories are done via word of mouth.  The appearance of a wooden wheel causes tensions, should wood be manipulated into a shape, would it go against the rules and laws that exist to protect nature and the environment?  These are things that Owayne will have to try to learn, the balance of the old with the emergence of the new.

This is a slow burner of a book, but it is wonderful.  The pacing is perfect for this story, the setting, the era, the lifestyle.  It does however speed up a little towards the end.  What it lacks in pace it  more than makes up for in its wonderful descriptive passages, I have seen mention on a review from another person, that it had an “almost peotic feel”, and I have to say I am in complete agreeance with that thought. The scenery, festivals, clothing, food, rituals and social aspects have all been detailed well and build a good image.  It was an image of hardship, bleakness and little comforts, but at the same time a beautiful, peaceful atmosphere, this is where for me the author shines with his descriptive details.  I do not know much about the history of this time, but I  feel that this book has a good amount of research to it from the descriptions given, nothing felt out-of-place for me.

This book is an interesting blend of ancient history, folklore, legend, myth and fiction as we follow a young man on his way to learning about nature, the environment, traditions as well as his responsibilities.

A book I would recommend for readers of historical fiction.  A good all round read, with some memorable characters, well written, with elements of nature and folklore.

About the Author:

THHeadsent1

Born in London, Tony Halker studied geology at Leeds University after which he worked as a

geologist, travelling extensively overseas. Following an MBA at Cranfield School of Management, he became a manager in hi-tec business and later a businessman and entrepreneur. His writing is inspired by powerful natural landscapes and his interest in the people and technologies emerging from those hard places. His two daughters were born in North Wales. He lives with his wife there and in Hertfordshire.

 

Website – http://www.tonyhalker.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/TonyHalker

Blog – http://www.tonyhalker.com/blog

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Clink Street Publishing (29 Sept. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1911110578
  • ISBN-13: 978-1911110576
  • Purchase from  – Amazon UK
  • Purchase from – Foyles

Check out the other brilliant books, dates, bloggers for

Clink Street 12 Days of Christmas.

12Days2017_Calendar

Many thanks for reading my post.  If you liked it, please give a little share.  Better still go and buy the book.

 

#12DaysofClinkStreetChristmas with @AuthorightUKPR @Authoright @gilbster1000 #BookNews

12 Days of Clink_2017-01

I am absolutely delighted to be able to take part in this amazing event for Clink Street.  So many different books, many different authors and a great bunch of book bloggers taking part.

It was like being in a kid in a sweet shop, when Rachel sent me an email asking me if I would like to take part.  Well yep, I am in, that was the easy part.  Now as i have to read all the books I choose as well as all the other book commitments, I limited myself to three.


The Learn  The first is a historical fiction from Tony Halker.  A beautiful and atmospheric read.

Synopsis:

Blending reality, history and legend, about a time when women were considered as important as men, taking power in an oral society that worships the Goddess. A whole Celtic Druid world is laid out before us, incorporating beliefs, technology and the natural environment.
A Celtic boy, a beach scavenger, is pledged to the Learn, a life of endurance, a path to become sworn Druid: scholar and warrior.  Young women and men progress, becoming Priests and Druidii. Friendship, affection, passion and care develop as novices mature, confidence emerging.
Seasonal battles of winter and summer bring rich festivals when seeds of men are taken by women in pleasure to prove fertility. Small damaged, hurt peoples on the margins of Celtic society blend in and out of vision.
At frontiers with Nature, dependent for everything on what the earth gives or takes, an emotional response to the natural environment defines who people are and the values they live by.
A lyrical novel resonating with modern readers through portrayal of character, language and history; arising from a landscape of today, yet centred in the Celtic Bronze Age of North Wales.

Amazon UK Link  | Foyles Link


MollyFish Cover  The second choice, by Jack McMasters,  is quite different in some ways, but again has some wonderful wording.

Synopsis:

When retired architect Arthur Howard receives an unexpected invitation from the elegant businesswoman he has just met, her promise of two weeks of incredible sex is enough to persuade him to forget his stale marriage and follow her to India. Leaving thoughts of his younger wife Ester far behind, Rani leads Arthur into paradise; her home lies in a beautiful valley filled with quiet villages, tranquil lakes, tea plantations and crocus fields, a place where his every need is catered for and his attention sought wherever he goes.
But danger lies hidden here. Arthur discovers that Rani and the other villagers he meets in this rural Indian idyl are the ancestors of an ancient civilization, thought to be merely mythical. From his contact with them, he succumbs to a mysterious illness that keeps him bedridden for a long period in a darkened room. Confused and stricken, Arthur’s days and nights are haunted by wild dreams; when he is unable to sleep, he reminisces about early love affairs and fears for his failing relationship with Ester until he is unable to distinguish dreams from reality.

Amazon Link  |  Barnes & Noble Link


Outremer Cover - Copy   My third choice caught my by surprise when it arrived.  I blooming big book, but Oh so worth it.  Outremer is a historical epic set in high middle ages, crusades, knights templar, the whole works.

Synopsis:

Who Controls The Past Controls The Future
An epic love story must overcome religious divide and a plot to eradicate two blood lines, as the Crusades and the search for the ancient mysteries of the Holy Grail gather momentum.
Raised by his father in La Rochelle, France, Paul Plantavalu is known for his artistic nature, inquisitive mind and Christian faith. He also has an unshakable love for his Muslim childhood friend, Alisha al Komaty. Courageous and outspoken, she returns Paul’s love. But their path is paved with obstacles; religion, war, political chaos and a mysterious enemy determined to destroy their family lines.
Sometime between 1110 AD and 1120 AD in the aftermath of the first crusade, a small band of nine knights — the founding knights Templar — recover ancient precious artefacts left by a former, advanced civilisation, beneath the City of Jerusalem. Ruthlessly guarded, the secrets revealed by this discovery are highly prized by powerful and dangerous forces far and wide; the repercussions of their capture are inextricably linked to Paul and Alisha. As Paul starts to experience dark and vivid dreams and the fragile balance of peace starts to crumble, it will fall to an enigmatic man known as Kratos and his female warrior protégée Abi Shadana, to safeguard Paul and Alisha.
Paul and Alisha’s love story weaves between the threads of our reality and other realms — from the Druids to the Sufi mystics, the Magi of the East, the secret political arm of the Knights Templar and the Isma’ilis, the Assassins. Knights and pilgrims alike will witness some of the darkest battles ever fought. The discovery of a unique sword’s lethal power and whispered connections to King Arthur and the Holy Grail lead Paul and Alisha to question if their lives ever be the same again.
The first of a four-part series, Outremer is an historical epic, which sweeps across England, Scotland and France, to Syria, Jerusalem and Egypt. Discover the truth — and crack the ancient code — behind the great mysteries of the High Middle Ages for yourself.

Amazon UK Link


See the calendar below for a list of dates, books and bloggers.

12Days2017_Calendar

Many thanks for reading my post.  If you liked it, please give it a share.  Better still, go and buy one of these great books.

#BlogTour : #TheWatcher by Monika Jephcott Thomas #ClinkStreet

The Watcher Cover

The Watcher” by Monika Jephcott Thomas.  Published by Clink Street Publishing on 10th October 2017, available in paperback an eBook.

Synopsis:

It’s 1949 when Netta’s father Max is released from a Siberian POW camp and returns to his home in occupied Germany. But he is not the man the little girl is expecting – the brave, handsome doctor her mother Erika told her stories of.

Erika too struggles to reconcile this withdrawn, volatile figure with the husband she knew and loved before, and, as she strives to break through the wall Max has built around himself, Netta is both frightened and jealous of this interloper in the previously cosy household she shared with her mother and doting grandparents.

Now, if family life isn’t tough enough, it is about to get even tougher, when a murder sparks a police investigation, which begins to unearth dark secrets they all hoped had been forgotten.

My Thoughts:

This book has several stories running together.  There is that of Max, a prisoner of war in a the Siberian concentration camp of Gegesha, his experiences whilst there an also how he deals with being back home.  Then there is the story of Netta and her childhood and also of Erika as she deals with the day-to-day living with a man who has been through an extreme and traumatic event.  Then how these three very different people have to deal with change and how they have changed in themselves.

So Max is married to Erika, together they have daughter Netta.  The story is told from perspectives of all, Max has returned home after 4 years in the camp, he has severe flashbacks during dreams as well as while awake.  The relationship between himself and his wife and daughter is hard, and all have to adapt to the change in him.  As well as this there has also been a murder, a woman known to the family and local people.

This is a time-slip story, and flits between Max and his memories in the camp, and also how life in Germany after the second world war has changed, food is scarce and money is tight.  Max, Erika and Netta live in the attic of his parents house, even though both husband and wife are doctors they cannot afford their own house, money is spent on the clinic they run.  The story as I have said is told from different perspectives, but is mainly focused on Netta, a time when children are seen and not heard, but children have a habit of hearing things they shouldn’t, this is very much the case for Net.

It took me a little while to get into this book, it took a few chapters before I understood the style and characters, but once I had got a feel for it I enjoyed it.  The characters and plot I found to be well described, I thought the descriptions of Max and his treatment and experiences as a prisoner of war had been done well, not too overbearing or graphic, though still uncomfortable reading at times.  It had a what you would expect and nothing that describes concentration camps should be easy reading, but it had been done sympathetically to the subject.  Towards the end the various threads of the plot started to come together and as this happened this pacing definitely quickened.

This is a book that readers of historical fiction and mystery genres would read, I would recommend it. It is a very interesting look at life in Germany post war, as well as relationships within family and also socially.

Book Details:

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Clink Street Publishing (10 Oct. 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1912262029
  • ISBN-13: 978-1912262021

 

About The Author:

Monkika Jephcott Thomas.jpgMonika Jephcott Thomas grew up in Dortmund Mengede, north-west Germany. In 1966 she moved to the UK and, after a thirty-year career in education, delved into the therapeutic world where she has over twenty years experience as a counsellor and psychotherapist, gained with a wide variety of clients and presenting conditions.

By 1998, she and her partner Jeff established the Academy of Play & Child Psychotherapy (APAC). This has grown to become the largest provider world-wide of post-graduate training for Play Therapists and Practitioners in Therapeutic Play Skills, in partnership with several universities and colleges.

Monika and Jeff became founder members of Play Therapy UK. Monika was elected President of Play Therapy International in 2002. Their work culminated in the official recognition of the play therapy profession in 2013, an endorsement of their devotion to help the twenty per cent of children in the world who have emotional, behavioural, social and mental health problems by using play and the creative Arts.

Her professional background has given her insight into the effect of traumatic events not only on those directly experiencing them but also on their families and the generational impact.

Links:

Author website Click Here

Buy from Clink Street Click Here

Clink Street Publishing Homepage Click Here

Home page for Authoright Click Here

Buy from Amazon UK Click Here

 

Many thanks for reading my post, if you like it, please give it a share.