The Truth About Archie and Pye by guest author Jonathan Pinnock

I am delighted that Jonathan Pinnock has stopped by the blog today to tell us all about his new book The Truth About Archie and Pye. This is what he had to say.

There is a golden rule in marketing that says in order to succeed in any commercial venture, you need to have an identifiable brand. You need to be the kind of person that people point to and say, ‘Oh, Jonathan Pinnock, he’s the XXXX guy’.


Being the kind of flibbertigibbet that I am, I have completely failed to stick to this rule. I am, basically, the WTF guy. To date, I have had seven books published, as follows:

Professional DCOM Application Development – yes, this was a book on software development, specifically about a long-forgotten Microsoft technology. Much as I’d like to forget it myself, it is still to date my biggest seller. This continues to upset me.

Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens – a comic novel, superficially a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, but frankly an excuse to cram in as many gags into a book as I could manage.

Dot Dash and Dip Flash – short story collections.

Love and Loss and Other Important Stuff – a poetry collection.

Take It Cool – the real life story of my search for the reggae singer Dennis Pinnock.

The Truth About Archie and Pye – my new comic novel, the first in a series of mathematical mysteries.

So, basically it’s all a bit of a hotchpotch. I’m intensely proud of all of them (with the possible exception of the DCOM book, even if it is – dammit – my top seller), but they’re all quite different. There’s no discernible brand.


If you scratch away a bit of the surface, all of these books (even that bloody DCOM one, believe it or not) have something in common: humour.

There is nothing I enjoy more than making people laugh. To be honest, I genuinely believe there is no higher calling. Humour is what keeps us sane. Even in a world where everything seems to be going horribly wrong – especially in such a world – we need to keep laughing.

But funny books are a hard sell. When I was trying to place The Truth About Archie and Pye with agents, I was frequently told that they really liked it but had no idea where they could place it. So I had to find somewhere myself, and that turned out to be the wonderful Farrago Books, who – get this – specialise in series of humorous books. Series!

One of the reasons that I think publishers tend to be scared of humour is that it’s a subjective thing. After all, there’s nothing worse than someone who thinks he’s funny. But so far the reviews have suggested I’m on the right track. People seem to be getting it. Even the fact that it’s crammed with British references doesn’t seem to have put off reviewers in the US, either, which surprises me.

There was a time when I was ever so slightly embarrassed at being the author of Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens, when what I really wanted to be was an acclaimed literary short story writer. But I feel now as if I’ve finally owned up to my true self. I write funny books. Deal with it.

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Something doesn’t add up about Archie and Pye …

After a disastrous day at work, disillusioned junior PR executive Tom Winscombe finds himself sharing a train carriage and a dodgy Merlot with George Burgess, biographer of the Vavasor twins, mathematicians Archimedes and Pythagoras, who both died in curious circumstances a decade ago.

Burgess himself will die tonight in an equally odd manner, leaving Tom with a locked case and a lot of unanswered questions.

Join Tom and a cast of disreputable and downright dangerous characters in this witty thriller set in a murky world of murder, mystery and complex equations, involving internet conspiracy theorists, hedge fund managers, the Belarusian mafia and a cat called µ.

(for US, replace with .com)

Far From True by Linwood Barclay

I do enjoy books by the Canadian author Linwood Barclay. I like his subtle humour, the developement of his characters and the little town of Promise Falls that he has created. This novel comprises the second in his Promise Falls Trilogy.

The Promise Falls Trilogy is populated with characters from his previous books. When I started to think about this and pay attention to it, I became much more interested in who these characters were because I remembered their pasts that kept being referenced.

Far From True opens up with the a drive-in theater screen collapsing and killing four people. Cal is hired by the daughter of one of the victims to look into a break-in at her late father’s home. As he investigates Cal learns that this couple has a secret room for their sexual games and it appears that DVD discs are now missing. What is on the DVD and why they were taken is the next thing Cal needs to find out.Far From True

Cal’s former co-worker, Detective Barry Duckworth, is looking into why this incident has happened but also investigating the case from the previous book, Broken Promises. He thinks that that case may be connected to another one three years ago – but is on his own in finding the truth.

We also have David Hardwood, who was in Broken Promises returning in this novel as another major character. He is now working as a campaign manager for Randall Finley, has his parents living with him and trying to win over Sam(antha) Worthington. Cal is also trying to help Sam who is being threatened by her ex-boyfriend’s parents and want to kidnap her son.

Far From True had me fully engaged and  I am looking forward to reading the third book in the series. Linwood Barclay does not disappoint.

The Author

Linwood Barclay is the #1 internationally bestselling author of seventeen novels for Linwood Barclayadults, including No Time for Goodbye, Trust Your Eyes and, most recently, A Noise Downstairs. He has also written two novels for children and screenplays.
Three of those seventeen novels comprise the epic Promise Falls Trilogy: Broken Promise, Far From True, and The Twenty-Three. 

Val Penny

My Husband’s Lies by Caroline England

I recently picked up a copy of My Husband’s Lies by Caroline England when I was at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. The book was on my TBR list, so I was pleased to see it, but I had never ead anything by this author previously, so I did not know exactly waht to expect. I was pleasantly surprised.swanwick outside

My Husband’s Lies is a book about secrets, betrayal, friendship, lies, relationships and affairs. I was immediately intrigued by the title as I can’t resist stories about secrets and lies. However, I did find the number of characters that was introduced at the start was slightly overwhelming: it got me very confused and I had to keep skipping back to try to get my head round who was who, but I am glad I persevered.My Husbad's Lies Book

With My Husband’s Lies, the book takes the reader on a behind the scenes look at what goes on behind closed doors and when the fake smiles fade. With each couple facing their own troubles, it’s truly fascinating and relatable. I’m so glad I kept reading as the characters are worth getting to know and once they start the revelations keep coming right up until the end which is a real shock.

This book would make an excellent book group read and I will certainly read more by this author.


The Author

Born Yorkshire lass, Caroline studied Law at the University of Manchester and stayed Caroline England 2over the border. Caroline became a partner in a Solicitors’ practice and started writing when she deserted the law to bring up her three lovely daughters. In addition to the publication of her short story collection, Watching Horsepats Feed the Roses by ACHUKAbooks, Caroline has had short stories and poems published in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. Her debut novel, Beneath the Skin, was published by Avon HarperCollins on 5 October 2017. My Husband’s Lies followed on 17 May 2018.

Val Penny


Elji and Galrass by guest author Colin Sinclair

It is a privilege for me to share an excerpt from Elji and Galrass by Colin Sinclair today. It is the first book in The Essence Saga, published by World Castle Publishing LLC and it is with thanks to Love Book Group Tours that I am able to give you this extract. Do have a look at the other stops on the tour.


The Blurb

Elji, a boy from a village outside the city of Mehem discovers a “Galrass” a tool usually wielded only by those who understand its power. Perhaps it was left for him to find or perhaps it was just a random happening?

The Galrass embroils him in a struggle he never expected to be part of or even imagined existed. Dregar, a being from a different planet and galaxy ‘feels’ the boys interruption of the universal essence and takes him under his wing and so his journey begins.

Friendships are made and lost and many lives must be put in danger to usher the civilization into its rightful place among the Universal essence. Will Elji fulfill his potential and help save his world or will it fall into darkness?

Buy Link

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The Excerpt


Saloora was hunkered down behind the bales of cloth, her whole body as relaxed as it could be considering the predicament she was in. She was confident that they didn’t know where she was—she had run through the twisting streets very swiftly and had turned and doubled back as often as she could so as to ensure they had not been able to follow her. Still it was right to be cautious—the men following her seemed to have some kind of insight. She had only just escaped them on numerous previous occasions as they had managed to track her down well beyond what she would consider to be normal ability. She was, by any stretch of the imagination, a warrior of immense ability, who understood and was able to escape even the most capable of trackers. She had been trained well and by a very unusual source. Her mind turned inwards….

She had been born seventeen summers previous and, as was the custom in the warrior tribe she belonged to, she had been abandoned in the wild hours after her birth, left in a cave beyond the reach of all other humans to either thrive or die as the gods willed it. Less than one in a hundred survived this ordeal. For the first few days of her life she had screamed as babies do, hungry and tired and cold, but he had visited her and placed his hand on her and quietened her, staying for no more than a few minutes, but on his departure she knew what she needed. She had cried no more, and had, with the power of some basic understanding, used her mind to pull on the universal fabric and draw to her the cave lioness. From that animal she had suckled and grown, and had learned the ways to hunt and track and be as one with her surroundings. She had very quickly become accepted by the pride as a whole, bending them to her will with her understanding of the basic nature of the fabric of the universe.

Seven summers later she had left the pride and made the journey to return to her order. She had been welcomed back, and had taken her rightful place among them as a trainee warrior. Even at that early stage she knew she surpassed even the leader in her abilities and understanding. She became known as “Ahhbreshemen,” voice of the god, though still she preferred her name of Saloora, a name taken from the sound of the cave lions cry in the night as they kept track of each other. It hadn’t taken long till she left them again to discover her true calling, and find the one who had given her life and set her on the path that was driving her.

A noise behind her and to the right alerted her. She snapped out of her thoughts and her body tightened, coiled, ready to answer any threat. It passed; perhaps a rat or a small rodent scurrying through the bales looking for nesting material or food. She closed her eyes and extended her mind, gently probing her surroundings and stretching out down alleyways and streets. Nothing…she could not feel them nearby.

For the last week or so in this small city she had felt somehow that she was close to finding him. The sense of an impending meeting and the fact that her abilities seemed to sharpen day by day, as if they were being lent power by something else, confirmed her intuition.

She eased with cat like grace from her crouched position, her movements lithe and subtle, flowing like water over rounded stones and with a fluidity that denied human constraint. She came to rest again at the corner of a junction and hunkered back down.

It was then she felt the hand on her shoulder, and her whole mental capacity shifted. She was transported to another plane, and in an instant she knew she had found him—or rather, he had found her. Her whole being felt like it had expanded to fill the universe, and she felt in touch with every living entity.

Everything suddenly snapped back. She realized he had removed his hand, and then she looked up at him.

Elgred smiled at her, a smile so pure and wonderful it filled her whole being.

“You found me!” she said.

“Come on, follow me,” he said as he walked past her. She followed without question.

She looked at him again. This man—he felt so familiar, but how could it be that she knew him after all this time? She knew who he was, she knew his purpose, and she knew it was him that had visited her when she was only a few hours old…how could that be?

“It’s because I felt you,” he said. “That day you were left in the cave, your soul cried out and I found you. When I touched you, I opened your mind and showed you what is possible. I knew that one day we would meet again, that you would seek me out, and that together we could begin to strengthen our cause.”

“How did you—?” she asked.

“Because you are part of me and I am part of you, there is no need for us to voice our questions. We are part of The One, and as such we understand each other at a basic and fundamental level. We have no secrets. You can’t hide anything from me anymore than I can hide anything from you, and that is how it should be. I imagine you will be hungry—let’s find somewhere to sit and eat, and you can tell me how you came to be here. It’s always much better when spoken rather than me looking into you…it seems to carry so much more colour when the tale is told. Come, let’s sit, eat, and talk.” He seemed genuinely pleased at the opportunity, and she was indeed hungry.

He looked at her again, and she saw his eyes shift from green to blue, and saw the whole of creation seated there. She was sure—now she was sure she was safe, she had found him, and her true journey would begin.


The Author

Colin Lives just outside the city of York in the beautiful Yorkshire country side. He has been married for 32 years and has two children and grandchildren. He has been acting and singing on stage since he was a teenager and still today performs at the large theatres in the region both acting and singing in lead roles. He is a gym enthusiast and has competed in natural bodybuilding competitions and also engages in many sports such as Badminton, Squash and Bouldering. He has two dogs which keep him busy walking through the countryside. Before settling in Yorkshire, he was brought up between the Middle East, where his parents worked in the Oil Industry and spending the rest of the time in the UK at boarding school. This is where his love for words came from and he has written poetry for many years. He now has the time to pursue his passion of writing and has written his first book in a fantasy series that he says has been in his head for longer than he cares to remember.


My Writing Journey by guest author Moira Cormack

My friend and fellow author, Morag Cormack stops by the blog today to tell us all about her novel writing. Enjoy her interesting experiences here.


Moira Cormack’s first novel, The Witch of Land and Sea, was published in 2016. It started as a ten minute exercise on a creative writing holiday with Magical Journeys. Since then she has written two more novels which she is in the process of editing and has had short stories and poems published in various anthologies including a scary story, Rush hour, taken up by Tapes and tales.

Moira came to writing later but as her best friend told her – you have always written, diaries and letters, and you have told stories. To her delight she found an old box of this writing in her mother’s loft and is grateful to the sentimentality of her mother. One day there might be a memoir.

Moira is a lover of fairy tales from around the world and this passion infuses her writing and life. She has four daughters and has raised them to share in her wonder of the world around them. They had an aurora phase as a family when she would wake them in the middle of the night and they would go in search of the Northern lights. They never saw them but did see shooting stars and owls on silent wing.

She walks her dog locally every day and tramps through the mud watching the birds and trees. She has great empathy with the Ents in the Lord of the Rings stories and her writing picks up on the local area and turns it magical.

She is currently attempting to read the Booker longlist to form her own opinion before the judges make theirs. She is on book eight out of the thirteen and has formed an opinion already.


Moira can be found on twitter, facebook and Instagram but more often at her computer or running after her children.

Twitter: @cormackmoira


Instagram: cormackmoira

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The Author

Moira lives with her family in Midlothian in Scotland where she provides parenting classes for young families.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is a very well-respected Canadian author, but I had never read any of her books so I was pleased when this novel was book of the month at our book group, even if it was 545 pages.alias grace

The novel is based on the true story of Grace who emigrates with her family from Ireland to Canada and is subsequently convicted of murder. This part of the story I found interesting and credible. However, with the introduction of a medical practitioner who had an affair with his landlady and then disappeared followed by another purported medical expert who seemed more like a circus performer, I began to lose interest.Margaret_Atwood_2015

However, the novel does deal with attitudes towards women and the way women were treated in the nineteenth century. This reflects the writers feminist views as to how women are still viewed in society.

It was a novel that divided our book group with equal numbers loving it and loathing it. So Alias Grace is definitely a book that you will need to read to make your own opinion. For me, on the basis of this, I will not seek out other novels by Margaret Atwood.

Val Penny

My Writing and me by guest author Jane Lacey-Crane

I am happy to introduce my friend and fellow author, Jane Lacey-Crane today. She is taking time to tell us about her journey towards becoming a published novellist. Read her interesting story now.

Secrets and Tea book

After the release of my first novel, ‘Secrets and Tea at Rosie Lee’s’, in May 2018, it’s fair to say that I was on a bit of a high. After years of false starts and life getting in the way, I’d finally achieved a long-held dream. I’d wanted to be a writer for as long as I could remember and now I was. Finally, I’d cracked it – I’d written enough words to complete a full-length manuscript – all I had to do now was write some more! My contract with my publisher is for three books – so, one down, two to go. This should be easy, I thought, I’ve done it once before, I just needed to get on with it. And then everything stopped. I couldn’t find the words, I had nothing to say and what I did have sounded trite and unimaginative. I quickly realised that ‘Second Book Syndrome’ is a real thing and I was suffering from it badly.

Book One was obviously a fluke,’ I would tell myself, as I sat staring at the cursor flashing on a blank page. ‘I need to let my poor editor know that her faith in me was totally misplaced, it’s obvious that I can’t do this.’

It was only after speaking to some wonderfully supportive fellow writers, that I cam to understand that my blind panic and total lack of confidence, were totally normal. We all feel like frauds, we all feel like one day someone will tap us on the shoulder and say, ‘Excuse me, there’s been a mistake, we never meant to offer you a three-book deal since you aren’t even capable of writing a shopping list, let alone a novel.’

But gradually, with lots of support from my fellow authors, many of whom listened to me whinge about the pain of writing a second book for weeks and weeks, I felt more confident – and I began writing the story of Evie, a widow trying to seize her second chance at life. She’s unsure of what the future holds and in the midst of this uncertainty she meets an old friend; a man who is now a famous movie actor and all-round sex symbol! It’s loosely based on something that happened to me – but I’m not naming any names!

It’s true what they say – you never know when inspiration will strike – in my case it was in a packed cinema in Peterborough, over a giant tub of popcorn – but I’m very glad I eventually found my way out of the writing desert! ‘City of Second Chances’ will be published some time in early 2019. And then the whole process of writing a new book begins all over again. Wish me luck!

Jane Lacey-Crane

The Author

Jane has reached the age now where she no longer tells people her age! She’s old enough to legally be able to do everything and that’s all that matters. ‘Secrets & Tea at Rosie Lee’s’ is Jane’s debut novel. Born and brought up in London’s East End, she now lives in Lincolnshire with her family. Thankfully she recently discovered the joys of mail order pie, mash & liquor, so she can relive her youth anytime she feels like it!

Although writing stories was something that Jane had always done, she never thought anyone would pay her to do it so she focussed on learning to act instead, figuring that this was a much more reliable way to earn a living. Sadly, her career as an actress was shortlived, actually it was non-existent, so she turned her attention to another reliable line of work – Cable Television! This was where Jane managed to finally get paid (badly!) doing something she enjoyed – writing. She began with scripts for a series all about Serial Killers (imaginatively entitled ‘Serial Killers’) and then moved on to a series of history documentaries. This series never saw the light of day in the UK but Jane has been informed that it used be very popular with insomniacs staying in hotels in the Far East. This may or may not be true.

She is currently working on her second contemporary novel for Aria Fiction.

The Theatre of Dreams by guest author Rosie Travers

My friend and fellow author, Rosie Travers recently published her debut novel, The Theatre of Dreams through Crooked Cat Books. If you have not got your copy yet, she is here today to tell you more about it. Thank you for stopping by, Rosie. Over to you.

The Theatre of Dreams is a heartwarming story of new beginnings, with a dash of mystery and a sprinkling of romance. Set in the fictional south coast resort of Hookes Bay it stars an out of work actress, a devious octogenarian and a bankrupt architect, all united by their desire to restore a neglected seaside pavilion, but each with a very different motive.

The Theatre of Dreams was inspired by the historic Lee Tower entertainment complex which used to be situated on the sea front at Lee-on-the-Solent in my native Hampshire. The Art Deco buildings were demolished in 1971 and the site is now a car park. My attention was caught by a notice board commemorating the spot and the idea for a novel was born!

The Theatre of Dreams was published by Crooked Cat Books on 1 August 2018.

Theatre of Dreams

What Readers are saying about The Theatre of Dreams

This book really was a true pleasure to read from first page to the last. I found myself so thoroughly invested in the lives of both Tara and Kitty I was sad to say goodbye to these ladies when the book ended. I challenge anyone to read this book and not become completely enthralled with these characters. The character development in this book was just simply stellar!”

Refreshingly different, wonderful plot, kept me interested till the last page and hungry for more.”

A cleverly crafted romantic mystery tale with well-rounded characters telling of, youth, old age life, death and several other murky ingredient in between.”

The Blurb

Musical theatre actress Tara is down on her luck and in desperate need of a job. 

When terminally-ill octogenarian Kitty invites her to take over the running of her former dance academy in the old-fashioned resort of Hookes Bay, Tara thinks she’s found her guardian angel.

But it soon becomes very clear Kitty is being far from benevolent. Too late, Tara realises helping Kitty will signal the end of an already tarnished career, unless she can pull off the performance of a life-time.

Contact Info


Twitter @RosieTravers


Rosie Travers

The Author

I grew up in Southampton on the south coast of England and loved escaping into a good book from a very early age. As a teenager I scribbled numerous short stories and novels, none of which I was ever brave enough to show anyone. After working in local government for many years in 2009 I moved across the Atlantic to Southern California when my husband took up a three year dream overseas assignment. Life as an ex-pat wife wasn’t quite as glamorous and exciting as I first envisaged, so to fend off homesickness and culture shock I began a blog about our life in Los Angeles, which re-ignited my creative juices. When I returned to the UK I undertook a creative writing course, always intending to turn my US adventures into book, but it never happened. Instead I developed a talent for short stories, and boosted by a couple of competition wins, I then starting writing a novel.

A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen

I am a cat lover. I was given my first cat by my great Auntie Lizzie when I was three years old and have been enchanted by these creatures ever since. So it will not surprise you that A Street Cat Named Bob has been on my ‘to be read’ list for a long time.Bob book.jpg

It tells the story of the author, James Bowen, and how his life changed after he was adopted by a stray cat. James one day returns home to find a ginger tom cat curled up in the hallway of his sheltered accommodation. James could not resist helping the cat he named Bob. He nursed him and tried to send him on his way but Bob had other ideas and was having none of it. James Bowen was a recovering drug addict at the time, living in sheltered accommodation in London and making small amounts of money to survive the best way he can including busking and selling the Big Issue.

Very soon Bob and James are an inseparable duo on the streets as James works and BobJames Bowen sits at his feet attracting much attention from the public. James can only just survive on the meagre amount of money he already makes so a decision to be a full time pet owner is not one he takes lightly. Both James and Bob have troubled pasts but together they form a firm companionship and bond. Life is not easy though for them both though, they face many obstacles and struggles but they have the love of each other and manage to overcome everything thrown at them.

It is a story of hope and inspriation. I found it really heartwarming and really loved the story. I highly recommend A Street Cat Named Bob.

Val Penny

Arcam by guest author Jason Minick

My favourite genre is thrillers. That is why I am particularly pleased to have Jason Minick visit my blog today to share an excerpt of his debut novel, Arcam. This is a fast-paced crime/conspiracy thriller that is full of suspense.

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The Blurb

DCI Jack Robson believes he is hunting a kidnapper…

Away from his posting in London, Robson is asked to lead an investigation in the south west of England. But what begins as a baffling local kidnapping mystery, quickly escalates into something far more sinister.

In pursuit of the perpetrators, DCI Robson joins forces with Inspector Emma Wilson and the rest of the regional CID team. Together, they attempt to make sense of the lack of evidence or motive, eventually getting drawn to the tiny island of Steep
Holm, in the Bristol Channel.

As the investigation progresses, Robson, Wilson and their colleagues find themselves facing something far beyond normal detective work. Unthinkable connections lead them to a conspiracy, so great it could change the course of humanity. The question is, can they intervene before it’s too late to prevent the appalling future that potentially lies ahead.

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The Author

I am currently working on the second book in the DCI Robson ‘Series’, which is going to be a sequel to Arcam. My aim for this project is to both develop Jack Robson’s story from the lifestyle that was portrayed in Arcam, in addition to furthering the theme of the first book.

At the time of writing this post, I am still working on the first draft. In some ways, it seems to be an advantage writing with characters that have already been developed in an earlier novel. But there is also an element of pressure, in terms of doing one’s best to be true to those characters, while also developing them into the next adventure.

My ambition for this novel is for my readers to be able to recognise some characters that featured in Arcam, as well as, hopefully, enjoying new introductions. Readers may well recognise certain locations in the second novel, but there could potentially be one or two surprises – watch this space!

I would say that I am enjoying working on my second novel, just as much as I did the first. But I do think I have become even more eager to get the finished product out there, especially considering that there are already people waiting for Jack Robson’s next adventure.

The title of the next book is 99% decided … I say only 99%, because when I wrote Arcam, the title changed when I began on the second draft. It was originally going to be called – ‘Project: Hibernation’, which might make sense to those that have read the book. But, as soon as I came up with ‘Arcam’, there was no going back – I knew it was the right title.

I kind of feel the same way about the title I have in mind for the second book. So it’s unlikely that it will change, but I’m keeping the title under wraps for now!


Jason Minick is an engineer living in the south-west of England. He has a passion for the written word and reading. Jason is a fan of many genres. His debut novel, Arcam, is a crime/conspiracy thriller set in his favourite part of the UK. He lives with his wife, Emma, and his three children, Lucy, William and Sophie. The family share their home with two very small dogs, Digby and Tizzie. The author is currently working on the second book in the DCI Robson series, the sequel to Arcam.