#BookReviewTuesday for Tallis Steelyard. A Fear of Heights… @JimWebster6

Tallis Steelyard. A Fear of Heights Kindle Edition

In this novel, recounted by Tallis Steelyard in his own inimitable manner, we discover what happens when the hierarchy plots to take control of the Shrine to Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm. Will the incumbent be exiled to a minor fane in the far north? Will Tallis end up having to do a proper job? Does ordination and elevation beckon for Maljie? This story includes the Idiosyncratic Diaconate, night soil carts, Partannese bandit chieftains, a stylite, a large dog and some over-spiced food. On top of this, we have not one but two Autocephalous Patriarchs and a theologically sanctioned beggar.

Our Review

This delightful story from Jim Webster about Tallis Steelyard’s latest escapade turned out to be an unusual diversion from his usual adventures.

I have always thought Tallis an honourable man, carefully evading, or managing to negate, any of the devious plans he comes across. So, I was most surprised to learn of this subterfuge involving Maljie.

Although she has long been my favourite of all Tallis’s friends, Maljie is proving to be a bad influence, but despite my better judgement, I am rather impressed by the speed Tallis manages to keep up with her!

I always fancied a trip in a hot air balloon, so I willingly climbed on board to share what turned out to be a thrilling journey with Tallis and Maljie.

A Fear of Heights is a refreshingly different and exciting story, one I am sure I will be reading again!

Why Books & Bonsai ?

When we first started blogging nearly ten years ago, we had no clue as to the right or best way to go about it.

Looking around didn’t help like I thought it would, as there seemed to be a million ways to become a blogger.

What didn’t help either, was that I’m not computer literate, at least I wasn’t back then, so needed to find something simple that wouldn’t tax my poor old brain.

Many bloggers were using something called Blogger, so that is where we began our journey.

I found it relatively easy to use, but as time went on, I noticed a lack of traffic. This wouldn’t help with telling the world about our books, so I looked around to see what else I could manage and found WordPress.

The learning curve was a bit steep for me, but I liked the atmosphere and the possible connections. It was positively lively!

It cost a bit, too, but a small price to pay to finally get noticed.

Then there was a difference of opinion over what to call ourselves. We were not fans of the gimmicky labels, and as writers we were advised to use our names, basically so people can get to know us.

We noticed that most bloggers don’t do this. Their sites have proper names, like Myths of the Mirror, Daily Echo, Sun in Gemini, and Pensivity, to name but a few.

Eventually, after much thought and mucking about, we settled on a name that suits both of us. Books & Bonsai.

Books, because we both write, and Bonsai because I love my miniature trees almost as much as writing.  Of course, other subjects find their way onto our website, as our interests are not limited to books and trees!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our friends and followers. You really make it a joy to get up in the morning!

Anita Speaks…

Anita’s First Rant Post!

Jaye has asked me to put pen to paper, so I apologise in advance if I offend anyone. Sorry!

I am naffed off at the idea of writing!

Everyone, and I mean everyone, the world and his wife, wants their words in print, convinced there are those who want to read them.

It has been said that there is at least one book in each of us, but to me that doesn’t mean it should be written.

Television personalities jump on the band wagon, knowing their name will carry some weight. However, not all manage the transition from actor to writer.

I can think of some that did. Dawn French, Fern Britain, and Judy Finnigan, to name but a few…

Sorry, I am beginning to sound like sour grapes.

Maybe so, but you can’t tell me that publishers are not thinking the same way. Jumping on a tv name to carry the weight of a new writer.

What about all those poor sods who have poured blood on their pages, to be so cruelly thrown onto the slush pile?

It’s a known fact that publishers get it wrong. This has been proven by sending them an already world-famous number one best seller, only for them to turn it down.

I know it’s a hard world to break into. Like a bank of fishermen, there are many that will never get a fish on their hook.

C’est La Vie…

*****

Once bitten by the writing bug, it doesn’t matter how long you leave your pen idle, or your computer turned off, you have been bitten, so you carry the disease, the curse. Your mind being the one thing you cannot turn off.

You write in the dark when you should be sleeping. You carry the unwritten words like a plague.

They push and poke at your grey matter, desperate to be on those clean white pages.

Write the words, you never know if this time, someone may want to pay you for them.

So, hold fire on that bonfire, don’t throw those pages on the flames…

© Anita Dawes 2021

Note from the Editor (Jaye)

We have been busy!

The new, updated and remastered edition of Bad Moon is almost ready to launch…

Tallis has a new Book! #Fiction @JimWebster6

Today is our turn to host Tallis Steelyard’s new release!

In this novel, recounted by Tallis Steelyard in his own inimitable manner, we discover what happens when the hierarchy plots to take control of the Shrine to Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm. Will the incumbent be exiled to a minor fane in the far north? Will Tallis end up having to do a proper job? Does ordination and elevation beckon for Maljie? This story includes the Idiosyncratic Diaconate, night soil carts, Partannese bandit chieftains, a stylite, a large dog and some over-spiced food. On top of this we have not one but two Autocephalous Patriarchs and a theologically sanctioned beggar.


It Does You Good to get Out



As you can imagine, running a shrine can be a full-time occupation. As you can well imagine, the administration can be burdensome with births, deaths, marriages and suchlike to chronicle. Then there’s the physical upkeep of the building.

Not only has somebody got to ensure that the building is kept in good repair, but the money has to be found to fund the various works. Even our bill for floor soap and scrubbing brushes has escalated in recent years, especially since Maljie insisted that the mendicants bathed at least weekly.

But by far the greatest burden laid upon us is the congregation of worshippers. This is a somewhat nebulous group. At its core is that small cadre of people who we will see whenever we have any form of service. Their numbers are swelled by those who attend the more formal services, and then you have those who turn up for the great feast and fast day ceremonies. But to these you have to add the populace of Exegesis Square. Whilst some of them do occasionally venture into the shrine, most will expect to be married or have some sort of last rites there. We were, in their eyes, ‘Their Shrine’ even if they couldn’t remember the gender of our current incumbent, never mind her name. Still, to be fair to them, we probably cause them more problems than they cause us so their claim on our time was perhaps more reasonable than it seems.

Our duties with regards these people are nebulous in the extreme. With births and marriages we’re on solid ground, there are rules. Similarly, when it comes to consoling the bereaved. But we get dragged into family arguments, feuds between neighbours, disputes over new building works, and whether tradesmen are entitled to use Madam Battock’s yard for parking their vehicles off the road as they deliver to persons other than Madam Battock. But to bear the burden of all these obligations would be to impose far too heavy a load on an incumbent. Even one who was subject to the heroic assistance provided by sundry temple wardens, sub-hierodeacons, and deacons. Hence provision is made to draw in even more assistance from the laity. Each shrine should have a Parochial Shrine Council or PSC. In theory the members of the PTC are elected by and from the laity who regard themselves as in some way connected to the shrine.

What is more likely to happen is that we round up the biggest troublemakers and cozen them into attending. Then when the incumbent announces a policy which they don’t like, we can just point out that they agreed it during the discussion phase (even if, in reality, they dozed through the discussion thanks to the medicinal brandy Maljie made them drink after commenting that she didn’t like the sound of their chest), so they better get out there and
convince everybody else that it’s a good idea. To be honest it never works as well in practice as it does in theory but still the idea is basically sound.

Now it so happened that a number of our temple wardens went on a joint retreat. It must be stressed this wasn’t one of the penitential ones where everybody beats their breasts and exclaims how wicked they are. This one was prudently planned and the destination carefully chosen. The retreat was at a shrine known for its hospitality. Now I am excused these retreats because I have to somehow earn a living. Obviously, the temptation to make yourself available for these more celebratory retreats is considerable. But it is my experience that if you are available for one, you are assumed to be available for the other. Bitter experience indicates that life offers more opportunities for the penitential rather than the celebratory. Hence, I allow my default condition of hard work and poverty to defend me against the temptation to excess.

Still this retreat was notable, mainly due to the efforts of Laxey who wasn’t even there. Before the party set off, he presented one of the temple wardens with a thick book called ‘A Jester’s year in wit and jollity.’

Now it must be admitted that some of the various sub-orders take the role of the ‘holy fool’ very seriously. This book, whilst not theologically sanctioned, was within the spirit of some of the Order’s teachings. Certainly, anybody who did what the book recommended and told one of the jokes each day (complete with gestures and appropriate dance steps) would at the very least learn humility.

The temple warden concerned was much taken by the book and each day, with immense formality, he would tell the joke.  I don’t know how much hilarity ensued, but word got back to Laxey that Maljie for one felt that there had to be a reckoning. Still the tales of the book of amusing anecdotes spread throughout our community, and this caused some questions to be asked. The retreat was discussed by people who you would never have thought susceptible to the blandishments of the spiritual life. Cynics might comment that their interest was fired by tales of the food and accommodation, but I feel that one can be too sceptical.  

Certainly, there was a lot of discussion about extending the number of those invited on retreat the next year, and whilst there was some resistance to this amongst the sceptics, the members of the Parochial Shrine Council seemed to think that they at least were entitled to attend. Indeed, some of the members sought every opportunity to display the extent of their spiritual enlightenment. In all candour it didn’t take them very long. But with the coming of spring, the demand for a retreat grew, and considerable numbers put their names forward. Indeed, they even experimented with vehicles designed to get them there without the drudgery of walking.

There were several practice trips which proved that given a good wind and no more luck than a trip normally needs, it might even be possible for everybody to get there on the one vehicle. Indeed, the last trial trip took on a most celebratory aspect with drink taken, community singing, and ladies casting flowers to the watching crowds.  

It was at this point that the incumbent stepped in and announced that given the nature of the previous year with plague, sickness, and the usual low grade depravity, she had arranged a penitential retreat.  

At that, enthusiasm seems to have waned. The retreat did go ahead, three married ladies went on it. Their attitude seems to have been that if you are getting your meals made for you and there is no washing up, it isn’t all that penitential.


************

And now a brief note from Jim Webster.

It’s really just to inform you that I’ve just published a full Tallis Steelyard novel. Yes, the rumours are true. Tallis Steelyard, the man who considered jotting down a couple of anecdotes to be ridiculously hard work and considered the novella form to be the very pinnacle of literary labour, has been cozened into producing a novel.
It is, ‘Tallis Steelyard. A Fear of Heights.’

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08ZD5P5S8/

In this novel, recounted by Tallis Steelyard in his own inimitable manner, we discover what happens when the hierarchy plots to take control of the Shrine to Aea in her Aspect as the Personification of Tempered Enthusiasm.

Will the incumbent be exiled to a minor fane in the far north? Will Tallis end up having to do a proper job? Does ordination and elevation beckon for Maljie?

This story includes the Idiosyncratic Diaconate, night soil carts,

Partannese bandit chieftains, a stylite, a large dog and some over-spiced food. On top of this we have not one but two Autocephalous Patriarchs and a theologically sanctioned beggar.

Available both for kindle and in Paperback.



We are loving reading this story and will be posting a review for Tallis Steelyard: A Fear of Heights very soon on Amazon!

Review for Girl in the Walls by A J Gnuse #GothicRomance

Girl in the Walls: A thrilling fiction debut, the Gothic novel of 2021 Kindle Edition

She doesn’t exist. She can’t exist.

‘A uniquely gothic tale about grief, belonging and hiding in plain sight’ Jess Kidd, author of Things in Jars

’Those who live in the walls must adjust, must twist themselves around in their home,
stretching themselves until they’re as thin as air. Not everyone can do what they can.
But soon enough, they can’t help themselves. Signs of their presence remain in a house.
Eventually, every hidden thing is found.’

Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.

Eddie calls the same house his home. Eddie is almost a teenager now. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his older brother senses her, too, they are faced with a question: how do they get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists?

And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite in?

Our Review

When I began to read Girl in the Walls, I wondered why anyone would want to live in a house without anyone knowing, or it was even possible. I knew all about hollow walls and the spaces in the attics and cellars, but how would someone survive, having to eat and drink in secret?

I loved how Elise listens to everything and how she finds comfort in knowing what is going on around her.  The way that old clock with all its different sounds helps her to keep track of the time.

This story made me more conscious of the noises in my own house, all those noises we usually ignore, telling ourselves it’s just the building settling or the timbers contracting.

Elise’s story is devastatingly sad but beautifully written, describing the desperate lengths a child will go to find a safe place. Elise’s story grabbed hold of me like the poor lost child she is, insisting that I stay with her and read every word.

Jonah Traust, a villain in handyman’s clothing, obsessed with the notion that houses have secret occupants, terrified me as he hunted for the mystery presence in the house. I was on the edge of my seat as he systematically homed in on the poor child.

Elise is determined to stay hidden when the levee breaks after a storm and flood waters attack the house. Traust perishes, battling on in his search, and I could breathe again.

I worried for Elise. How would she survive if the house did not?

This story is both terrifying and upsetting. The fate of Elise, this helpless child, will haunt me for a long time…

#Throwback Thursday : Shattered Figurines… (Det. Jo Naylor Series Book 1) Our 5* review for Allan Hudson’s brilliant new #Adventure Story @hudson_allan

 

 

Detective Josephine Naylor receives an email telling her where to find the last body. The messenger tells her “only you can stop this madness”. Discovering a shattered figurine on the corpse, she’s overwhelmed by the possibility it might be the one she sold in a yard sale. If so, she knows who the killer could be. She prays that she’s wrong…

Our Review

The opening chapter presents the detective, Jo Naylor, with a very important question. One she didn’t really want to answer but knows she must.

The next chapter, one year later, hits you square in the face with full on complicated and violent action as we discover what this story is all about.

Shattered Figurines is a surprisingly unusual detective story in that it doesn’t follow the usual plotline for this genre and the characters aren’t run of the mill either. The author has captured a very real element in both the story and the characters and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

I love a good detective mystery story and Shattered Figurines is one of the best I have read this year. I shall be first in the queue when the author writes another one in this series.

The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards #Serial Killers #Psychological Thrillers #Review

The Lucky Ones Kindle Edition

It was the happiest day of her life. Little did she know it was also the last.

When a woman’s body is found in the grounds of a ruined priory, Detective Imogen Evans realises she is dealing with a serial killer—a killer whose victims appear to die in a state of bliss, eyes open, smiles forever frozen on their faces.

A few miles away, single dad Ben Hofland believes his fortunes are changing at last. Forced to move back to the sleepy village where he grew up following the breakdown of his marriage, Ben finally finds work. What’s more, the bullies who have been terrorising his son, Ollie, disappear. For the first time in months, Ben feels lucky.

But he is unaware that someone is watching him and Ollie. Someone who wants nothing but happiness for Ben.

Happiness…and death.

The Lucky Ones is the terrifying new thriller from the #1 Kindle bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Devil’s Work.

About the Author

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people, and is inspired by writers such as Stephen King, Ira Levin, Ruth Rendell and Linwood Barclay.

He is the author of four #1 bestsellers: Follow You Home (a finalist in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2015), The Magpies, Because She Loves Me, and The Devil’s Work, along with What You Wish For and six novels co-written with Louise Voss. All of his books are inspired by real-life experiences.

Originally from the south coast of England, Mark now lives in the West Midlands with his wife, their three children, a ginger cat, and a golden retriever.

Mark loves hearing from readers and can be contacted via his website, http://www.markedwardsauthor.com.

Our Review

I do love a good psychological thriller and have heard so many good things about The Lucky Ones, the twisted tale of a benevolent killer.

While I am reading the book, I wondered why it was so important that the victims had to die like that, The Lucky Ones, the hapless victims chosen to enter eternity with a smile.

Mark Edwards is a brilliant writer, all of his characters are such real, fascinating people. The brilliantly plotted storyline kept me reading into the small hours!

My favourite character was Imogen Evans, the red- haired female detective with an interesting sense of humour.

Victims are killed when at their happiest, the bodies left in their special place.

Why were the smiles so important, and how did the killer manage this?

Dead of Winter: Journey 2, Penllyn by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene @teagangeneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 2, Penllyn Kindle Edition

Journey 2, Penllyn picks up where the first installment, Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak stopped. The supernatural warning, “Winter is coming!” continues to haunt Emlyn. Her father has heard her utter those words, and he is displeased to say the least. In fact, her family situation in general is becoming more perilous.

As if visitations from ghosts weren’t enough, another entity has started coming to her. She isn’t sure whether he is a spirit or something else, but he gives her the same prophetic warning.

Now Emlyn’s father has begun to behave strangely.

Join Emlyn on this strange journey to the neighboring village of Penllyn. Try not to look over your shoulder…

About the Author

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy.

Founder of the Three Things method of storytelling, her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. http://www.teagansbooks.com

Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?disable_polymer=true

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM
Twitter: https://twitter.com/teagangeneviene
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TeagansBooks
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/teagangeneviene/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/teagangeneviene/

Our Review

The second part of Dead of Winter begins with a mysterious old woman, trying desperately to remember something.

Something important.

I immediately wanted to know who she was, for the warning from the first journey echoes in her confused mind too, but she is unable to remember why.

Emlyn is having disturbing dreams, where a strange man whispers the warning in her ear. When she wakes, it would seem the man had been real, sitting on her bed. She is well used to spirits turning up and doesn’t think this visit strange, but the warning is becoming all too terrifying real.

As this complex story gets under way, there are many questions and mysteries, but the major one for me is, why is Emlyn’s father so disturbed at the mention of winter?

Emlyn has much to keep secret, so is this why her father is planning to send her away with the Deae Matres, the Society of women who travel the world searching out and collecting knowledge?

Looking forward to the next instalment!

Why I Love being a Blogger…

Image by Daniel Agrelo from Pixabay

Like many of us, we began this blog because we needed a platform to tell the world we were writers and show off our books.

We didn’t have a clue when we started, stumbling around, making more mistakes than we want to remember now, but we have learned so much and still find new stuff to know all the time.

Along the way, so many things have tried to defeat us, like PowerPoint, Book Funnel and Mailerlite. And of course, marketing in all its many forms still presents an almost daily challenge! I sometimes wish I weren’t quite so stubborn, as there are days, I could admit defeat and walk away. But it hasn’t happened yet, and I doubt it ever will, fingers crossed!

Somehow, nine years have passed, and our humble blog now has over 5.000 followers!

It would take me forever to thank everyone who has brought us this far, but we do thank you all for simply being there with all your wonderful and often helpful comments.

Every day we get to visit so many different countries, meeting people and chatting about all manner of subjects. We get involved, virtually of course, in some exciting and often constructive conversations, many about issues that are close to our hearts, like photography, writing, gardening, bonsai and poetry, the list is endless…

On any one day, there can be several ongoing conversations, either by email or on our website/blog. It is impossible to feel lonely, even in these difficult days, with all these lovely people to talk to.

Hopefully, we have many more years to come, as there are still so many bridges to cross…

When I wrote this post I had no idea that this theme was being highlighted on The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, so thought it would be a good idea to link with them, to show our support!