When the Music’s Over by Peter Robinson

When the Music's OverIt had been far too long since I had read a Peter Robinson novel so I treated myself to the 23rd DCI Banks novel, When the Music’s Over. It is marvellous.

In When the Music’s Over Alan Banks has been promoted to Superintendent and is senior investigating officer in two important cases. The first is a historical sex crimes case that comes to light after the victim finds courage after the Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris cases amongst others. I found it interesting that there was reference to the real historic cases throughout the book.

The victim, Laura, a celebrated poet, was raped whenshe was fourteen years old by a famous entertainer, Danny Caxton and another man. Banks and Winsome Jackson work tirelessly to unravel what happened and who was involved over fifty years ago during that attack.

Meanwhile, Cabbot and Masterton investigate a day of present day grooming when the corpse of a fourteen year old girl is found. The girl was naked and has been raped, beaten and stamped on and left dead on a country road.

There are the usual twists and turns the reader has come to expect from Peter Robinson and the reflection of the historic case in the modern one is beautifully crafted. Needless to say, the end is not predictable.

When the Music’s Over is a fine crime thriller: an excellent police procedural. It would be a great read for a book group as well as for anybody who enjoys the crime thriller genre. I highly recommend it.Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson was born in Yorkshire. After getting his BA Honours Degree in English Literature at the University of Leeds, he came to Canada and took his MA in English and Creative Writing at the University of Windsor, with Joyce Carol Oates as his tutor, then a PhD in English at York University. He has taught at a number of Toronto community colleges and universities and served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Windsor, 1992-93.

Val Penny


Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

Ian RankinIt is many years since I was first introduced to John Rebus, the detective created by Ian Rankin in his novels set in Edinburgh. It was just as long since I had first read Knots and Crosses the first of the series. It recently came up my back to read it again and, like all good fiction, it has stood the test of time.


In Knots and Crosses, Rebus is confronted by the brutal abduction and murder of two Knots and Crossesyoung girls. He then hits John Rebus particularly hard as his own young daughter has been spirited away south by his estranged wife.

Rebus, heavy smoking and drinking too much, is one of many policemen hunting the killer. However, when messages begin to arrive: knotted string and matchstick crosses these taunt Rebus and he becomes aware that this is a puzzle only he can solve.

It is a tautly written thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed. If you enjoy this genre, I recommend Knots and Crosses.

Val Penny

The Crime Writer’s Casebook by Stephen Wade & Stuart Gibbon

Stephen WadeI am sure that all writers have different books, experts and texts that they refer to with a view to ensuring that the background to their novels is correct. I write crime novels and so it was a real gift to discover The Crime Writer’s Casebook after it came out last December.

The two authors of this book deal with quite different aspects of crime: Stephen Wade reveals the truth behind various murders throughout Britain’s long history while Stuart Gibbon, a retired DCI, explains the processes and challenges facing the modern day police men and women dealing with serious crime.Stuart Gibbon Self Photo

It is usually to the modern day sections that I turn in order to try to get procedure correct in my novels. However, when I am flicking through to find the correct page, I often find a historical term or incident that catches my eye and causes me to digress.

The Crime Writer’s Casebook is meant as a research tool for authors and to be read by those with an interest in crime. I fall into both categories and find this book most useful resource as well as an interesting read.Crimewriters Casebook

It is an excellent guide to police investigation past and present containing detailed information on police and criminal procedures. It also features true crime case studies from two leading experts in their field..  The Crime Writer’s Casebook is a real treasure and I highly recmmend it.

Val Penny

Writing Book Simulator by guest author Chris Yee

Chris YeeI am thrilled that the dynamic author Chris Yee has made time to visit my blog and share his writing journey. Chris’s new book, Book Simultaor is available on Amazon. It is a most refreshing new novel. Over to you, Chris!

When people ask me what I do, I don’t say I’m a writer. I tell them I’m an engineer. To be more specific, a structural engineer.

I would hardly say my path towards writing has been conventional. I was always interested in creative writing as a child, but academics had steered me towards math and science. I hated reading in school, and writing assignments (research papers, analytical essays, etc.) never held my interest. School had turned writing into a chore for me, and while I enjoyed crafting stories in my spare time, when the time came to choose a career path, I decided not to pursue writing. Instead, I chose civil engineering.

It wasn’t until late in college that I started to rekindle my love for writing. The highly analytical world of engineering had spurred a sudden need for creativity. This is when I started my first book. It was a daunting task for someone who didn’t consider themselves a writer, but it was something I had always dreamed of doing and I wanted to follow through. Progress was slow at first. A lack of confidence kept me from fully committing. I had always found something better to do. Class work. Maintaining a social life. Keeping up with my favorite TV show. I was always busy with something else.

After two years of trickling progress, I graduated from college and got a full-time job as a structural engineer. This is when I decided to get serious about writing again. I began to write more frequently, and in the process, rediscovered my passion for writing. I found a sudden burst of creativity that I had not experienced in a long time. My book grew longer and longer, and over the course of two years, I had written a story big enough to split into a trilogy. It was one of my proudest accomplishments, and I continue to write to this day.book simulator

With every new book, I learn something new, but the most important lesson I’ve learned is how to be a confident writer. When I first started out, I told myself I wasn’t a “real” writer, but now my attitude has changed. I don’t have a college education in writing, but I believe my engineering background gives me a unique perspective. It doesn’t hurt the quality of my writing. It enhances it.

So now when people ask me what I do, I don’t say I’m a writer. I tell them I’m an engineer, because it’s true. I’m an engineer and I love every minute of it. But if they ask me what else I do, I can say with confidence: I write.

Book Simulator is available on Amazon at: www.amazon.co.uk/Book-Simulator-Chris-Yee-ebook/dp/B01NA6P6M6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1529590028&sr=1-1&keywords=book+simulator

Me and My Writing Journey by guest author Tony Levy

I am thrilled that my friend and fellow author, Tony Levy, has agreed to join me on the blog today to share his writing journey. Tony, it is interesting to learn about your writing and your books A Turnkey or Not  and El Dorado? No! Heathrow Airport. Thank you for your contribution today.Tony Levy.jpg

Me write! You’ve got to be joking, I’m the least likely person to be able to write a book, yet that’s exactly what I’ve done and not one but two and I’ve had both my books published and am now writing my third and fourth books.

Unbelievable or what? My dad sitting up there in heaven must be saying to anybody who would listen to him

What him you’ve got to be joking’

Where did this all come from? Surely not from that competition I won back in 1967 when I was fifteen, I wrote about my favourite football (soccer for those of you in the USA) player for my local paper and won the competition. Naw it couldn’t have been that, could it?

Then over 25 years later after spending six months training to run the 1991 London Marathon and failing to gain an entry I entered another writing competition for a International running magazine where I had to explain about my motivation for wanting to run the marathon and all about my training regime, the prize was a guaranteed entry for the London Marathon that year, and again I won the writing competition, was that the spark that started me off?

To be honest it was none of those things, I think there is a book within every one of us but its finding that motivation, mine well mine was a TV program that depicted prison staff as thugs and villains and brought the whole profession into an unbelievable world of disrepute.

TurnkeyAt the time I was a Principal Officer in the UK prison service and was so enraged at the programs portrayal of how UK prison staff behaved that I was still raging the next morning at work, when one of my staff who had previously suffered many yarns about what really goes on in a prison from myself and other old timers in the service (I was in my early fifties but had seen over 20years service and was regarded as an old timer buy then), said

Tony you really should write a book about your experiences and tell the public what really goes on within the enclosed walls of a UK prison’

You know you’re absolutely right’

And that was my spark

I wrote my first book ‘A Turnkey or Not’ back in 2011 and it was published and received some fantastic reviews. It’s an autobiography of my 25 year career working for HM Prison Service.

Six years later I realised that my first book left many unanswered questions and mainly the one about my real quest to find my own El Dorado as I moved towards retirement, and so my second book ‘El Dorado? No! Heathrow Airport’ was written and published in November 2017. It’s receiving incredible reviews; it’s an exposé of what really happens at Airport Security and how passengers, celebrities, staff and management behave at and during the security screening process.

Both books are memoirs and relate some very funny incidents which have all happened to me throughout my life.

El DoradoBut again the end of my second book does not answer my quest to find my El Dorado, so after retiring to live in Spain I realised I had to write a third book as my search had become a trilogy, so my third book is about moving to Spain and living amongst ex-pats in retirement. Warts and all revelations of what my fellow ex pats get up to in the life of Sun, sea and lots and lots of vino.

However I have also now started to write a prequel all about my three year stint as a driving instructor in Central London, this is more like a ‘Carry on’ film as I reveal some of the exploits I used to get up to whilst being a driving Instructor.

About my current book

When I received my devastating cancer diagnosis, far from crumbling, I decided to write my second book, ‘El Dorado? No! Heathrow Airport’. With my background as a Prison Officer, followed by an even more challenging position in Airport Security, I was able to manifest an instinctive response to threats, and it was this that helped me turn a bad scenario into positive action. I’m British born and have created a literary storm with my insider revelations, yet I always regarded it as my job to expose only the truth to my audience of readers.

I reveal many tales about celebrity showdowns and now live in Spain with the love of my life, my long suffering wife Jacinta.

My distinctive style continues to grip readers around the world, they are held captive by my shocking revelations. And once again, I do not disappoint as I reveal all about life inside Britain’s busiest airport, from flight statistics to embarrassing passenger stories, you will one minute reel in surprise, and the next rock with laughter.

Tony with bookAs you read on you are drawn into the world of a busy airport the way passenger behave towards security staff is hilarious and sometimes amazingly rude, the staff and how the behave towards passenger and then into the final chapters where you read how management of one of the world’s busiest airports has to balance profit with security and their lack of compassion for their own staff.

The book is full of pathos and laughter and each page draws you into the next as each chapter does the same. 

You can purchase my book here:



Join me on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/author_tonylevy

Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/tony.levy.5

My e-mail: anthonylevy1418@gmail.com

1984 by George Orwell

George OrwellEric Blair used the pen name George Orwell when he wrote many of his most famous works, including 1984. Written in 1948 the novel of a dystopian world, this book has often been banned on the grounds that it contains communist and sexual content. For example, 1984 was challenged in Jackson County, Florida (1981) because the novel is “pro-communist and contains explicit sexual matter.”

1984 tells the story of Winston Smith. He is a low-ranking member of the ruling Party in London, in the nation of Oceania. Everywhere Winston goes, even his own home, the Party watches him through telescreens; everywhere he looks he sees the face of the Party’s seemingly omniscient leader, a figure known only as Big Brother. The Party controls everything in Oceania, even the people’s history and language. Currently, the Party is forcing the implementation of an invented language called Newspeak, which attempts to prevent political rebellion by eliminating all words related to it. Even thinking rebellious thoughts is illegal. Such thoughtcrime is, in fact, the worst of all crimes.

As the novel opens, Winston feels frustrated by the oppression and rigid control of the Party, which prohibits free thought, sex, and any expression of individuality. Winston dislikes the party and has illegally purchased a diary in which to write his criminal thoughts. He has also become fixated on a powerful Party member named O’Brien whom Winston believes is a secret member of the Brotherhood—the mysterious, legendary group that works to overthrow the Party.

Winston works in the Ministry of Truth, where he alters historical records to fit the needs of the Party. He notices a coworker, a beautiful dark-haired girl, staring at him, and worries that she is an informant who will turn him in for his thoughtcrime. He is troubled by the Party’s control of history: the Party claims that Oceania has always been allied with Eastasia in a war against Eurasia, but Winston seems to recall a time when this was not true. The Party also claims that Emmanuel Goldstein, the alleged leader of the Brotherhood, is the most dangerous man alive, but this does not seem plausible to Winston. Winston spends his evenings wandering through the poorest neighborhoods in London, where the proletarians, or proles, live squalid lives, relatively free of Party monitoring.

One day, Winston receives a note from the dark-haired girl that reads “I love you.” She tells him her name, Julia, and they begin a covert affair, always on the lookout for signs of Party monitoring. Eventually they rent a room above the secondhand store in the prole district where Winston bought the diary. This relationship lasts for some time. Winston is sure that they will be caught and punished sooner or later (the fatalistic Winston knows that he has been doomed since he wrote his first diary entry), while Julia is more pragmatic and optimistic. As Winston’s affair with Julia progresses, his hatred for the Party grows more and more intense. At last, he receives the message that he has been waiting for: O’Brien wants to see him.

Winston and Julia travel to O’Brien’s luxurious apartment. As a member of the powerful Inner Party (Winston belongs to the Outer Party), O’Brien leads a life of luxury that Winston can only imagine. O’Brien confirms to Winston and Julia that, like them, he hates the Party, and says that he works against it as a member of the Brotherhood. He indoctrinates Winston and Julia into the Brotherhood, and gives Winston a copy of Emmanuel Goldstein’s book, the manifesto of the Brotherhood. Winston reads the book—an amalgam of several forms of class-based twentieth-century social theory—to Julia in the room above the store. Suddenly, soldiers barge in and seize them. Mr. Charrington, the proprietor of the store, is revealed as having been a member of the Thought Police all along.

Torn away from Julia and taken to a place called the Ministry of Love, Winston finds that O’Brien, too, is a Party spy who simply pretended to be a member of the Brotherhood in1984 order to trap Winston into committing an open act of rebellion against the Party. O’Brien spends months torturing and brainwashing Winston, who struggles to resist. At last, O’Brien sends him to the dreaded Room 101, the final destination for anyone who opposes the Party. Here, O’Brien tells Winston that he will be forced to confront his worst fear. Throughout the novel, Winston has had recurring nightmares about rats; O’Brien now straps a cage full of rats onto Winston’s head and prepares to allow the rats to eat his face. Winston snaps, pleading with O’Brien to do it to Julia, not to him.

Giving up Julia is what O’Brien wanted from Winston all along. His spirit broken, Winston is released to the outside world. He meets Julia but no longer feels anything for her. He has accepted the Party entirely and has learned to love Big Brother.

I believe that 1984 is one of the seminal texts of the 20th century. It is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell’s nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor person’s attempt to find individuality.

The brilliance of the novel is Orwell’s prescience of modern life–the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language–and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Required reading for students since it was published, it ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written. If you hae never read it, I urge you to give it your time. If you have read it as a child, re-read it with an adult’s eyes in today’s world.

Val Penny

My Writing and Me by guest author Caroline England

I am delighted that Caroline England, author of the exciting new novel, My Husband’s Lies, has made time to share her journey to becoming a novellist on my blog today. Welcome, Caroline and best of luck with My Husband’s Lies out now.

My Husbands Lies.jpgWhy do people write? People write for a whole manner of reasons. For some, it is a career and for others it’s a hobby. Some write because it’s simply a calling or helps them to sort out their feelings. I did this by writing letters to my mum when she was abruptly taken away from us and it was incredibly therapeutic. And some write because nothing in the world makes them happier.

Why do I? It definitely fulfils my work ethic, but it’s form of escapism too. I love to get involved with my character’s lives – I go to bed and wake up thinking about them! And it has to be said that nothing gives me a high like the high of writing. Of course there are many lows too, but fellow writers know what I mean. When you’re at the peak of the rollercoaster, even when you’re slowly chugging up, the excitement is exquisite!

What do I write about? If you’ve read Beneath the Skin you’ll know that I write about people, their characters, their lives and loves and relationships, friendships, emotions, fears. I love to dig and find out all the things they’re keeping to themselves. In other words, I like to find out and expose their secrets! You know – those things you don’t even tell your best friend…

In short, I’m a fly on the wall, even worse a voyeur.

Yup, I have a fascination with human beings. I like to get under the skin and explore whats going on in their heads – wants, desires, motivations. I love exploring people under pressure, the moral grey area and conflicts. Psychological probing and listening like a counsellor is my thing!

My Husband’s Lies revolves around Dan, Will, Nick and Jen, group of friends who were known as the A Team at school. They are all ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations. Seminal events occur at Nick and Lisa’s wedding which causes their lives to dramatically change and secrets unravel. So what’s the core dilemma of My Husband’s Lies? Making choices! By the end of the story Jen, Nick, Will and Dan have to make touch choices. Though they are now in their early thirties, I see this as a coming of age drama in many ways – finally growing up.

On the afternoon of Nick and Lisa’s wedding, their close friend is found poised on a hotel window ledge, ready to jump. As the shock hits their friendship group, they soon realise that none of them are being as honest with themselves – or with each other – as they think. And there are secrets lurking that could destroy everything.

Tense, disturbing and clever, My Husband’s Lies is a breath-taking read, perfect for fans of Lucy Clarke and Erin Kelly.

Author Biography:
Born Yorkshire lass, Caroline studied Law at the University of Manchester and stayed over the border. Caroline was a divorce and professional indemnity lawyer and instigated her jottings 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 publications and anthologies. Caroline England.jpg

Her debut novel, Beneath the Skin, was published by Avon HarperCollins on 5 October 2017. My Husband’s Lies is her second ‘domestic noir’ novel and is out now!
Instagram: Cazaengland1
Twitter: @CazEngland
Book link: amzn.to/2H6ndyZ

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

I had been avoiding the novel HeSaid/SheSaid by Erin Kelly because I had heard it was about rape and I thought that subject matter would not suit me. How silly I am! I should know by now that when Erin Kelly approaches any topic, she will involve twists and turns that thrill and fascinate in equal measure.

He Said She SaidIn HeSaid/SheSaid Laura and Kit are at a festival to celebrate an eclipse when they witness a rape of Beth by Jamie. They are called as witnesses but nothing is as it seems and they must escape their past to protect their future. But after fifteen years everything changes.

The story is told through the eyes of Laura and Kit over the period of time from the time they stumble across Beth and Jamie until the story ends fifteen years later. The clever thing is that nobody knows everything: not Laura, not Kit, not the reader.

HeSaid/SheSaid would make a fabulous book group read. I certainly found it an excellent novel. I could not put it down. It is a taught exciting psychological novel and I highly recommend it.

erin Kelly picErin Kelly was born in London in 1976 and grew up in Essex. She read English at Warwick University and has been working as a journalist since 1998. She has written for newspapers including the The Sunday Times, The Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Express and magazines including Red, Psychologies, Marie Claire, Elle and Cosmopolitan.

Val Penny

Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey by guest author Jennifer C. Wilson

I am thrilled that my friend and fellow author, Jennifer C. Wilson has made time to visit my blog today. I know this is a particularly busy time for Jennifer because the third novelKS Tower of London in her highly successful Kindred Spirits series launched at the end of last week. I have thoroughly enjoyed the earlier books in the series, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London and Kindred Spirits: Royal Mile, so please tell us all about your new novel, Jennifer.

In the Kindred Spirits series, we meet the ghosts of historical characters, in a range of contemporary settings. Have you ever wondered what Richard III and Anne Boleyn might have in common, what Mary, Queen of Scots KS Royal Mileis getting up to now, or what happens when the visitors leave some of the most popular attractions in the country? Well, here’s your chance!

In the third of the Kindred Spirits series, we visit Westminster Abbey, and I hope you enjoy meeting a new community of ghosts. Mind, with modern travel so easy these days, a few faces we’ve already encountered might just show up too…

About Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey

On hallowed ground…JCW-Kindred-Westminster

With over three thousand burials and memorials, including seventeen monarchs, life for the ghostly community of Westminster Abbey was never going to be a quiet one. Add in some fiery Tudor tempers, and several centuries-old feuds, and things can only go one way: chaotic.

Against the backdrop of England’s most important church, though, it isn’t all tempers and tantrums. Poets’ Corner hosts poetry battles and writing workshops, and close friendships form across the ages.

With the arrival of Mary Queen of Scots, however, battle ensues. Will Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I ever find their common ground, and lasting peace?

The bestselling Kindred Spirits series continues within the ancient walls of Westminster Abbey.

Praise for the Kindred Spirits series

“A light hearted, humorous, and at times tender read which you’ll enjoy whether you like history or not.”

“This light-hearted, imaginative read is a new take on historical fiction but make no mistake, this is not only a fun read but an educational tool.”

“A brilliantly unique idea from a distinctive new voice in fiction.”

About Jennifer

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.JenniferCWilson-NEW-January2018

Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and available via Amazon, along with her self-published timeslip novella, The Last Plantagenet? She can be found online at her blog, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Secret Language of Women by Nina Romano

Have you ever come across a book that delights you? I had never read any novels by Nina Romano previously, but The Secret Language of Women was recommended to me by so many people, that I decided it would be churlish to ignore this book. I am so glad I picked it up.

the secret language of womenThe Secret Language of Women is set in nineteenth century China during The Boxer Uprising or Yihetuan Movement. This was a violent anti-foreign, anti-colonial and anti-Christian uprising that took place in China between 1899 and 1901, toward the end of the Qing dynasty. This rebellion has driven apart the lovers, Zhou Bin Lian and Giacomo Scimenti.

Lian is only seventeen years old when she accompanies her Swiss father, a doctor to help the recovery of Italian ambassador. It is here that she meets and falls in love with Giacomo. Their love deepens as the novel weaves its way through a series of adventures.

However, Lian is promised to another in wedlock. She is also unable to follow her chosen path to become a physician.

Lian is also discriminated against because her feet were not bound and she must work in a factory separated from her daughter, Ya Chen. Lian is a determined character and empowers herself to fight against the injustice and determines her destiny. She reveals the story of her life and her hopes for the future in Nushu, the women’s secret writing.

It is a delicious, original story. It would be an excellent book for a book group. I have also discovered that The Secret Language of Women is the first book in the Wayfarer Trilogy. I am looking forward to reading the other novels in this series.

Nina Romano’s Wayfarer Trilogy has been published by Turner Publishing. Book #1 of the historical saga: The Secret Language of Women was a Foreword Reviews Indie-Fab Book Award Finalist. The novel won the Independent Publisher 2016 IPPY Gold Medal in the historical/romance Book Awards. Book #2 of the series, Lemon Blossoms appeared 2/16/16 and, Book #3, In America, was released 7/19/16 and is a finalist in the 2016 Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards for Romance.Nina Romano 2

Nina Romano earned a B.S. from Ithaca College an M. A. from Adelphi University and a B. A. and M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU. She’s a world traveler and lover of history. She lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. She authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, five poetry collections, and two poetry chapbooks. Her most recent collection, Westward: Guided by Starfalls and Moonbows, was published from LLC Red Dashboard. She co-authored, Writing in a Changing World from Bridle Path Press. Romano has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize.

Val Penny