Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Naturtint Shampoo & Conditioner Bar

DISCLAIMER ALERT: The Naturtint 2 in 1 shampoo & conditioner bar has been supplied by Nature’s Dream for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.

I’m so excited to share this review with you all – I received the Naturtint 2 in 1 shampoo & conditioner bar from Nature’s Dream, supplier of health and beauty brands in the UK & Ireland.

THE BRAND

Naturtint is probably better known for its hair dyes – in fact, it is the leading brand of naturally better hair colour and care products in the UK and Ireland. For the last 20 years or so, they have been in the forefront when it comes to reducing the amount of chemicals in hair colourants. The products are manufactured under strict conditions by Laboratorios Phergal in Madrid, Spain and are exported to over 35 countries worldwide.

THE PRODUCT

The “Strengthening 2 in 1 Shampoo & Conditioner Bar” has a powerful base consisting of coconut, cocoa butter and meadow foam seed oil. It contains orange essential oil, rice bran oil, rich in phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Free from SLS, parabens, PEGs and silicones. It really is an environmentally friendly alternative to normal shampoo bottles. It has a very slight “clean” fragrance.

THE SHAMPOO TEST

OK … I admit it … when I first unwrapped the bar, I thought “soap” and having dry hair and a dry scalp I had preconceived ideas that the bar would make my hair greasy/lank looking/ dull. I read the box it came in – the bar had been especially formulated for weak and thinning hair, to strengthen, revitalise and restore. My hair is certainly thinning – age, probably! – and I was hoping for a miracle to restore my hair to its former thick glory!

Using the bar was pretty simple – you need to wet your hair thoroughly and then slide the shampoo bar through your hair several times from the roots to the end. Then gently massage your head and scalp. Then thoroughly rinse with water. Although it is a shampoo & conditioner combined, I decided to repeat the process before finishing. The bar isn’t slippery when wet and the shampooing part is a creamy consistency rather than bubbly. It doesn’t drip into your eyes… a bonus … but if it does, then rinsing with water should ease any stinging.

Mid wash!


CONCLUSION

I have used this shampoo bar for six weeks, twice a week … and I have been absolutely converted. Apart from the bar being environmentally friendly and ideal for travelling ( no liquid), I am absolutely thrilled to bits with how it has revitalised my hair and scalp. My dry scalp has completely cleared, my hair looks glossy and healthy and, dare I say it, fuller! My hair feels wonderful. There really isn’t a downside. 10/10

COST

The shampoo bar RRP cost is £12.99 – when you think that each bar lasts 75 – 90 washes or 3 large plastic bottles of shampoo. I have had my bar for 6 weeks and I have barely scratched its surface. Remember though, to store your bar in a dry place in between washes.

Available from:

https://naturtint.co.uk

Amazon and I have also spotted the bar in Holland & Barrett’s.

For Pinning Later

My grateful thanks to Nature’s Dream for my shampoo bar ❤️

Linda x

All photographs are by Linda Hobden

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Homeward Bound

I was sent a copy of “Homeward Bound” by Richard Smith to review by Ben Cameron of Cameron Publicity & Marketing. “You’ll like this book – it’s about age, ambition and rock ‘n’ roll” he said. Ben knows I like a good book and music is one of my passions too, so I was more than pleased to have a read and review. But, dear blog friends, you know that I can’t just read and review – I like to chat with the author afterwards … and the lovely Richard Smith gladly obliged! First, my review:

MY REVIEW

“Homeward Bound” made me smile from page 1 … it is a funny yet poignant novel centred around a grandfather who has a passion for music and his teenage granddaughter who moves in with him to keep an eye on him as he is getting frail, and also to give her some space from mum and dad. George (grandfather) has a massive record collection that has become his “comfort blanket” since his wife died – and as he plays his vinyls, he still tinkers along on his piano hoping to revive his musical ambitions. George’s son in law thinks he should be put in a home & sets out to find George a place. George’s daughter is the go between. George’s granddaughter wants space away from her parents and isn’t sure about her musical teenage boyfriend, who has his own idea of what music should sound like although he is fascinated by George’s collection. Then there are the homes George visits & the residents he meets, the notorious cousin, the impromptu musical recital, the seaside trip and the unexpected job offer. This novel has twists and turns, ups and downs, and plenty of musical innuendo. I loved it and it is a great light hearted read perfect for winter nights, holidays, lockdowns….

SO LET’S MEET THE AUTHOR, RICHARD SMITH…..

Hello, I’m Richard. I’m 71 years old and I have just written my first novel, “Homeward Bound”.  Before that, I was a film and video TV producer, director and writer, running my own production company. I gave it up to write, but I keep having to telling people I’ve not retired! Much of my work in the early years was in government commercials, encouraging people to do things like donate blood or to give up smoking. Some of them are on YouTube – “Blood from a Stone”with Rowan Atkinson and “Smoker of the Future” are the ones people find most often. I was a bit dismayed when I went to a major summer exhibition at the British Library – called ‘Propaganda’ – and there were two of my films! And we thought we were doing good! 

Later films were sponsored, public relations work. They took me all over the world; west Africa, South Africa, eastern Europe, south America, oil platforms, up the tower to Big Ben in London – at midday and I can tell you, it’s loud! – all places where you can only go if you’re invited. Highly privileged – and if it’s taught me anything it’s through the people I’ve met; that no matter who or where you are, we’re all human beings, experiencing the same happiness, pain, excitement, disappointments. Lifestyles may be different but human instinct and responses are essentially the same. Which has been a major influence on my writing.  

I have two children, both girls, both married, so therefore the name of Smith will cease to exist – at least in my family! And I’m also grandparent, though both born in the last year, so no relation to the late teenager in “Homeward Bound”!

What inspired you to start writing at 71?

I think I’ve always wanted to write a novel. When you’re working full time on a commercial or documentary, to a schedule and on a budget, there’s no time for creating your own characters and stories. Although I always tried to add character to my films, what I’d always hankered after doing was writing about everyday people and characters, to tell the stories that I wanted, not invented for a corporate message. 

Your book reminded me of when I was a young teenager in the late 1970s  when I used to play my “punk” music to my grandad – he used to sit and listen with a “put on” interested face!! He must have hated it! Which character did you enjoy writing about the most?  Which character was the hardest?

I’m not sure I found any one character more difficult than another. I enjoyed bringing them all to life, though I suppose my favourite parts are where George, the grandfather, and Tara, the granddaughter, are together. The most difficult part of it, I guess, was trying to make sure that each character reacted the way they actually would do in real life, consistent with their own personality or with the situation they were facing. That meant constantly revisiting the dialogue – would he or she really react like that? – and that sometimes took the plot in a direction I wasn’t expecting. A bit like life, I guess!

Are any aspects of writing novels that surprised you?

I think what caught me out when I started was a significant difference between writing for a film to be watched and writing to be read. When you’re doing a film you can change the scene, you can change perspective, you can change time. Flashbacks, seeing what the lead characters don’t yet know, character reactions behind the lead’s back – all common in film – are confusing in a novel. Think “Breaking Bad“  from a couple of years ago. The pre-title scenes often didn’t relate to anything that followed, or at least for most of the episode. Novels can’t work that way. Or at least, for a first-time writer!

I was also surprised about how I became so involved in what I was writing. I’d become sad and emotional when my characters were sad and emotional; I’d become touchy and irritable when there was anger in what I’d just written! I’m sure actors face this all the time, but as a writer, it was a surprise to me how involved and emotional I could get at certain points. 

George’s massive record collection is apparently based on your own collection.  What’s your favourite songs/albums? What was the last music concert you attended? 

The idea of a large collection of records is ‘me’, but not necessarily the songs George likes. We both have eclectic tastes but I didn’t want to bog the book down with mine! I can like almost anyone. The favourite part of my shelves is around RE – yes I do have them alphabetically stored; how else would I find them? But cheek by jowl are Otis Redding, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Lou Reed, Jim Reeves, REM. Not normal bedfellows! I played an early Bread album yesterday. Most people would scoff (‘That’s easy listening? They’re rubbish!’ I hear) but in 1969 they were original and up with the best of West Coast American. My childhood heroes were from pop/rock of the early sixties – the Everly Bros and a rock’n’roller called Del Shannon. And of course, Jerry Lee Lewis – what a piano player! What links them all are melody and catchy tunes – add lyrics with emotion and the cake is iced. For me, it doesn’t all have to be ‘credible’ – music is full of guilty pleasures that are best enjoyed alone. But like George, I still enjoy new music. My frustration is I can’t go to my local shop and buy it when I hear it. I have to download and it’s just not the same. 

As for most recent gig – COVID’s knocked a hole in that. I saw Amy Studt in a tiny venue – she’s had three astonishingly good albums but has somehow slipped under most people’s radar. James Taylor Quartet, Jules Holland, Thea Gilmore, Nik Kershaw, Lulu. I told you I was eclectic! 

Are there any new writing plans in the pipeline?

Yes, I’m working on another novel now. I’ve set it back in 1989 – so the ‘history repeats’ theme I love so much can be echoed from thirty years back. It means I need a lot of research to make sure I get my details correct. That is actually a major drawback because it’s a way of stopping me from getting on. I stumble over a detail that I need to check and by the time that’s done, I’ve lost the flow. But people keep asking me if I’m writing more and I’m determined to get it done – then all I have to do is see if anyone likes it!

Are you a bookworm? Book or Kindle?

As child I was an absolute bookworm and I would be in the library exchanging books every couple of days. Then when I needed all my limited brain power for scripts, and producing films, my few non-working hours were wasted listening to music! When I do read, it’s probably similar to what I want to write, popular, real life fiction. I always quote Simon Van Booy’s “Father’s Day “ as the one that inspired me to get “Homeward Bound “ written.

I’m a hard copy man. (Vinyl discs, not downloads; paperback not Kindle – I recognise a pattern here!)  But Homeward Bound’s available via Kindle internationally. So I shouldn’t knock it!

If you can visit any place in the world to give you inspiration for your next book where would you go and why?

Because, when I write, it’s about people and relationships, I’m not sure that the location is what inspires me. I think I’d prefer to go back in time. I’m writing about 1989 at the moment and although I was there, I don’t remember everything. To witness it first hand again would really help my characters and what they say and do. But if somebody offered me three weeks in the Bahamas to write and then I can still set my novel somewhere in England, I’d be very happy!

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I’m not good at choosing clothes. A stereotypical 71-year-old man, I fear. Anything that’s to hand, convenient and clean. My wife only last week produced a photograph of me taken on holiday ten years ago because I was still wearing the same shirt!

 Favourite shops or online sites?

Most of my favourites are going to be either record shops or shops that sell records – often a charity shop. Online, I’m always browsing record guides and shop sites. If we go away somewhere, I will invariably find the record shop while my wife goes into places she prefers. Though in Reykjavik, there’s a huge record shop with, in the corner, a couch, magazines and coffee for the disinterested partner – usually wives – while the other – usually husbands – trawls through the vinyl racks!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Nothing. I hate trailing around any sort of shops andtrying on clothes. I know that doesn’t exactly fit withbootsshoesandfashion.com but I don’t wear any jewellery and if I lived alone, my house would be George’s – piles of books and records to be sorted.  Sorry!

 Boots or shoes?

Wherever I am, I dispense with both as quickly as possible. I embarrass my daughters when we leave a restaurant as I have to find my shoes and put them on again before we leave. I’d walk down the road in bare feet if I wasn’t a wimp and didn’t like the stony bits sticking into me!

Links you would like to share:

For Pinning Later

https://richardsmith writes.com

Twitter: @RichardWrites2

https://www.instagram.com/homeward_bound_the_novel/
https://facebook.com/richardsmithwrites/

https://facebook.com/WheresHomewardBound

Thanks for chatting with me on my blog Richard – I love your enthusiasm and I look forward to reading your next book also! I must say I’d love a trip to Reykjavik to track down that record shop ….

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Richard Smith. Thanks also to Ben Cameron.

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An Interview With Author Deirdra Eden

October is a great month for reading a bit of mythology, a traditional fairytale or a fantasy … and “The Watchers” fantasy series is aimed at readers aged 10 upwards. The books have been described as “Lord Of The Rings” meets the supernaturalI was lucky enough to receive a copy of the first book in the series to review…


MY REVIEW

The story is set in England in 1270AD. A young girl, Auriella, flees from her village after being accused of being a witch. She flees into the deep dark woods and like all good fairytales, she gets chased by wolves and just when she thinks she will be eaten by them, she is rescued by an old woman. But her rescuer is no ordinary old lady and, as the story unravels, Auriella discovers she is actually no ordinary young girl. Auriella finds friendship, she learns to fight, she discovers her dreams, she falls in love, and she tries to avoid being pursued by nightmare creatures. And she wants to be a knight. A proper knight. Then there are “The Watchers” …. supernatural beings in human form, charged with protecting mankind from the armies of darkness. They are looking for The Lady Of Neviah. This is a tale filled with fairies, pixies, dwarves, dragons, princes, dresses, queens, wolves, witches and knights. This is the sort of book I devoured eagerly as a young girl … and I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed reading the book as an adult. It was pure fantasy and a joy to read. Ideal bedtime reading whether you have a child to read to or not. Each book could be read as a stand-alone but once you are on a roll …. !

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR DEIRDRA EDEN


Hi Deirdra. Welcome to the blog…

Hello, I’m Deirdra. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest in a temperate rainforest. This place is magical and I am inspired by the beauty around me every day. I love adventures, education, animals, exploring, being with my family, and creating beautiful things. 


Your fantasy series of books “The Watchers” – is an engaging traditional fairytale story based in England during 1270AD that features witches, wolves, dwarves, knights, pixies, princes, supernatural beings and just a little bit of fairy dust! The series has been described as “Lord of the Rings” &. “Braveheart” meets the supernatural world. What inspired you to write books of this nature?

History tends to repeat itself, which is why so many ancient books have stories that are relatable to us today. Just like many other fantasy writers, this is a fun way to tell a story with an inspiring message of always having hope and fighting for your dreams.

I really enjoyed reading the book – I liked the mix of characters. I adored Auriella. What character did you enjoy writing about the most? Who was the hardest? 

I really enjoyed writing about all of the characters. They all came to life on their own. The hardest characters were the ones that were actual historical figures. They required a lot of research before I could develop and implement them into the story. 

The stories start in England in 1270AD, when Auriella flees from her village after being accused of witchcraft. Why did you pick medieval England specifically? Were there any other places you considered?

This time and place was chosen after searching through some geological records. I discovered an ancestor of mine who was a “dame”, basically a female knight. I was so inspired by this and it came at the perfect moment in my life when I needed to know that this kind of blood ran through my veins too. 

You have also recently published “Time Management For Creative People” – which is a bit different from your fairytales – can you please give us a summary? 

People and the way our minds work fascinate me which is one of the reasons why I got my degree in Social and Behavioral Studies. After years of observing creative people, as well as self observation, I realized that right-brained people work, think, and organize differently. The traditional corporate linear time management planners and spreadsheets rarely work for a creative person. In fact, it often leads to frustration. Time Management For Creative People teaches creators how to balance, organize, and prioritize all they need to get done. This is done completely organically in ways that are natural to them by living life in creative cycles and seasons and maximizing high and low energy times.

Have you always wanted to be a writer or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere? 

For me I have a pretty long ‘AND’ factor. I’m a writer, and I am also an activist. I’m a artist, and I also like construction projects. However, writing for me is more of a calling than a career. 

When it comes to your personal reading delights – what genre/authors do you read? Kindle or book? 

I love reading history, self improvement, geography, and anything travel. 

Are there any other book ideas in the pipeline for 2020 and beyond?

Yes, I have a top secret book that will be ready soon, but I’m thinking it will be published under a pseudonym. There is also The Watchers, Night of Light Book #7. But it is going to be a while before that one is ready.

Are your books available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, they are. The best place to get them is on Amazon.

What hobbies or past times do you pursue when you are not writing? 

Exploring nature, hiking, taking pictures, rescuing animals, gardening, recording soundscapes, and hanging out with my family. 

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Something comfortable that I can move in. I love things that are fun and flowing while being strong yet feminine. 


Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Amazon. I can get all I need without leaving the house. Etsy is way fun too. 

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I already have everything I need and I am grateful for that. 

Boots or Shoes?

Both! Since I am from the Pacific Northwest I also do flip-flops and occasionally no shoes. =)

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

For Pinning Later

Amazon:

https://amzn.to/2Ap8ZqI

Blog:

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

Website:

http://www.knightess.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/DeirdraEdenWatchers/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBjuCqt2HoyUYVXZcTZY8A?view_as=subscriber

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/deirdraeden/

Pinterest:

Twitter:

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8126382.Deirdra_Eden

Booklikes:

http://knightess.booklikes.com/

Thank you very much for chatting with me today Deirdra and thanks also for the copy of your book.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Deirdra Eden

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The Cafe With Five Faces

Imagine a cafe with 5 different rooms, each room representing an iconic city and featuring food, chat and most notably coffee (some wine & mint tea too) …. that is the basis of a most excellent book by Chaelli Cattlin that I had the pleasure to review over the summer. Due to COVID-19 putting a dampener on my summer travels this year, having this book to read in my garden chair during lockdown was a real boost. Like always, I read the book and then got the urge to chat more with the author! But first, my review:

MY REVIEW
I used to work in a village cafe that used to be full of regulars and I often thought a book on overheard conversations would be very interesting reading.  The regulars in my cafe talked about similar issues, often with the same amount of intensity and repetition; that a newcomer would bring a breath of fresh air and a welcome change of topic.  So, The Cafe With Five Rooms, was the sort of book I was subconsciously searching for.  I absolutely adored the travel stories, the characters themselves were believable, loved the themed room idea, love the food and drink descriptions, love the details about coffee making – although I’m not a coffee drinker Chaelli so my drink of choice would be an Algerian mint tea! Or a glass or two of the Lebanese red wine 😊Maybe with a slice or two of Hungarian cake…..

LET’S MEET CHAELLI ….


Hello, I am Chaelli Cattlin, an author and a trainer working in the field of English language teaching, a job which has allowed me to travel all over the world for the past 25 years.

Your book, “The Cafe With Five Faces: What The Walls Heard 2018-2019   – is an engaging collection of short stories, presented as snippets within a fictional cafe with five rooms. Each room is themed and named after a location – Beirut, Budapest, Cape Town, Granada, Hebden Bridge. The stories feature everything including travel, gossip, politics, food , romance, and coffee. What made you decide to write a book of this nature?

While visiting Granada several years ago, I was sitting outside a cafe in the Albaicin district and surveying an empty property opposite, thinking what a nice cafe it would make. It had a few rooms / spaces and it occurred to me that it would save me from choosing between a Hungarian-style cake shop, a Spanish tapas bar, a Lebanese manouche shop and a CapeTown breakfast bar. So I decided to call my provisional cafe The Cafe with Four Faces. When I chose to make a book out of it, rather than a real cafe, I added my local village (Hebden Bridge) to the rooms as it fitted some of the characters I wanted to include. The five rooms of the book / cafe also allowed me to focus on different topics, each of which I wanted to discuss but wouldn’t necessarily fit comfortably in one setting.

I enjoyed reading the book  – I liked the mix of characters. I adored the travel anecdotes. My favourite characters were Zoe, Misha and “The Presence”. What character did you enjoy writing about the most?  Who was the hardest?

Misha was one of my favourites as he was so like me when I first moved to Poland 25 years ago and I quite enjoyed describing myself in self-deprecating but hopefully humorous terms. Mike rants in the way I like to rant myself, but rarely have the nerve to do so in real life, so he was a favourite too. And possibly Jimez, as I think he is such a lovable failure! The hardest ones were the minor characters who made infrequent appearances, like Anna and, I suppose, The Presence, because I would like to have made more of them, but seemed to let them down a bit.

The Five places featured as the rooms obviously hold a place in your heart – why did you pick Beirut, Budapest, Cape Town, Granada and Hebden Bridge?  Were there any other places you considered having as a “room”?

Beirut and Cape Town just picked themselves – they are unique cities and I just feel at home the second I arrive in them. Hebden Bridge was local – I could have chosen Haworth, but that is already very well-known for its Bronte connection. Budapest represents Eastern Europe (in its 1990s definition) – I could have chosen several others, principally Katowice, MInsk and Ljubljana, but I lived in Budapest for 7 years (just a little longer than in Katowice) and it has the old-style cafe society with its literary connections which I love so much. Granada represents the good life / place in the sun – it could have been anywhere in Andalucia, Sicily or Provence, all of which have very fond memories, but Granada is the city of most recent and lengthy acquaintance.


So, as we are talking travelling, where has been your favourite place you’ve visited or lived in so far?

In terms of full-time living, outside of the north of England (Lancashire and Yorkshire), I have lived in Opole and Katowice in Poland, and Budapest in Hungary. However, I have spent periods of 2-3 months in countless places and enjoyed so many of them for very different reasons, it’s rather hard to choose! As I mentioned above, Beirut and Cape Town are really special and I have lived in each for a total of around 3 years and 1 year respectively, and they really feel like home.

You are a coffee fanatic – that goes without saying – and I liked how you incorporated your coffee knowledge into your book.  What is it about coffee that really caught your attention?

This has been a slow burner for me, having grown up on Nescafe with milk and two sugars, and then Nescafe with milk without the sugar. I finally bought a percolator and started having one cup of ‘real’ coffee a day with fresh cream, Then I discovered speciality (third-wave) coffee shops and filter coffee where the addition of milk was frowned upon. It became a real interest to visit such cafes in every city I visited, and since 2016, there has been a dramatic growth in such establishments, which led to me wanting to own my own, In the meantime, I started buying a range of alternative brewing equipment for home use and then started taking training courses.


If we were in your cafe, about to indulge in a drink and nibbles – which room would you feel most comfortable in? What would you recommend we ordered?

Every room suits one of my moods. I am the political ranter (Cape Town), the failed musician (Budapest), the ardent traveller (Granada), the bohemian floor-sitter (Beirut) and the aging reminiscer (Hebden Bridge), so it depends how the mood takes me. In terms of order, however, it would have to be a Chemex and a slice of Eszterhazy (cake), Jen’s favourite in the Budapest room.

When it comes to your personal reading delights – what genre/authors do you read? Kindle or book?

My tastes are rather random. I have a real liking for the humour of PG Wodehouse, while loving the gritty Italian crime of Michele Giutarri. I have also whiled away hours in cafes reading the Brontes, Jane Austen and, particularly, Thomas Hardy. I also read the entire Harry Potter series more than once! Ironically, I prefer paper copies! 

Are there any other book ideas in the pipeline for 2020 and beyond?

Yes, but they’re still in formulation! 

Is “The Cafe With Five Faces” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, through Amazon, Apple and Google Play, with Barnes & Noble and Kobo on the way.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I can hardly remember pre-lockdown! There were some comments in the book about Matthew (Granada room) and his love of Armani jeans, and I have 5 pairs, accumulated over many years, which I wear till they fall apart (and beyond) because they are so comfortable. I have a substantial collection of headgear, including a Colombian hat just like that of The Presence (picture attached) and a larger choice of bandanas than Jimmy. At the moment, T-shirts are it (with the names of assorted cafes if I can manage it), because I’m not working in public, and I have a range of shoes which would terrify many women by their quantity, my favourites being Doc Martens and trainers.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Armani Jeans in Milan! For certain items of clothing, I like the street markets in Hanoi, while for shoes, I always check out the windows of Vagabond in Budapest and those of a shop in Palermo the name of which I simply can’t bring to mind. Otherwise, I only seem interested in cafes and online coffee retailers!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I daren’t buy any more shoes for a while as I bought some pre-lockdown I haven’t worn since I left the shop. I love the shirts on the Konrit website, but unfortunately don’t like buying clothes online – I prefer to try them on and see before buying, so it may well remain on my wishlist rather than become reality

Boots or Shoes?

Doc Martens are a nice blend! Otherwise, comfortable trainers; nothing which comes up too high as I find them really uncomfortable.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc.
https://thecafewith5faces.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thecafewith5faces/?modal=admin_todo_tour

@thecafewithfa1 (Twitter)

For Pinning Later

Fabulous to catch up with you “virtually” Chaelli and I really look forward to reading more adventures of the Cafe in the future. Thank you also to Ben Cameron for the copy of The Cafe With Five Faces to review. All photographs have been published with kind permission of Chaelli Cattlin.

Linda x

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An Interview With Author Carlos Luxul

Regular readers know that I adore books, especially thrillers, and so I was more than pleased to receive a copy of “Ocean Dove” by Carlos Luxul to review. “Ocean Dove” was published on 28th April 2020 and written by Carlos Luxul , who knows his stuff having worked over 30 years in the shipping and global logistics industry. This is a very fast-paced terrorist attack thriller that is made even more terrifying because the scenarios are extremely plausible. I’m not sure if “liked” or “enjoyed” are the right words but it is a great read that kept me riveted – although if this book was a film, I would have been hiding behind the cushion for most of the time! Security services man Dan Brooks came across as being pretty stubborn, yet thorough and again, an entirely believable character. An interview with Carlos himself had to be on the cards….. hi Carlos!

Hi, I’m Carlos! I’m presently a single guy – and ever hopeful … I travel a lot, for work, often spending long periods abroad, sometimes running into years.  It can be rootless and has its downsides but as a career it’s been fascinating. And you do get to see the world and get to know its peoples.

Who or what inspired you to put pen to paper after working over 30 years in the shipping and global logistics industry?

Whenever I have free time I try to get my head in a book – with the exception of the period I was actually writing The Ocean Dove. And like so many other keen readers, I had always promised myself that I would have a go one day, and then a lull between work contracts gave me the opportunity to sit down without distraction and actually start. 

“Ocean Dove” was published on 28 April 2020 – and what a thriller – I enjoyed reading the book from start to finish.  Actually, I don’t know if “liked” is the right word but it was a great read that kept me riveted. All the characters were very believable.. From security services man Dan Brooks, his wife, his colleagues, the terrorists. So, which character did you enjoy writing about the most?  Which character was the hardest?

The character I most enjoyed writing was Dan Brooks, the story’s protagonist. He’s the leading player, so I had to work the hardest on him, to make him real and relatable. So I guess the most satisfaction and enjoyment came from putting flesh to Dan. 

The hardest were definitely the terrorists. They also had to be real, and we have to face up to the fact that terrorists are real people. Sure, we don’t like them and we don’t understand them. Firstly, we don’t understand them as people. Secondly, we don’t understand why they’ve chosen that life-path, or is it death-path? But somehow I felt compelled that readers should be able to understand them on important levels, to see them as both human and terrorists. I also felt I had to show what drove them, what was underlying, what societal experiences had shaped their transformation from one of us to one of them. I also thought it important to show their fundamentals, as wholly flawed people, particularly the leaders, and bring their sociopathic and narcissistic cores to the fore. And then to take it further by splitting the various characters into their related groups – the cold loner sociopath, the superficially charming narcissist, and the simply lost and misguided souls. Psychological studies of terrorists usually break them down into these principal types, with the addition of underlying insecurity and anger issues.

Were there any aspects of writing the thriller that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?

The aspect that surprised me most was being able to conjure up in my own mind the shocking things that some of the characters do. A secondary surprise was counteracting that with what I hope will be seen as humanity in other aspects of the book and in other characters.

What made you decide to write “The Ocean Dove”?   Did your own personal opinions and thoughts about the subject material change as the thriller developed?

The inspiration for the plot had been in the back of my mind for a while. It came from time spent in ports around the world, and realising how vulnerable they were – if someone had malign intentions. Historically, cities started with a port, and a city grew around it. Over time, some of these ports outgrew their host city and moved ten or twenty miles along the coast. But many major ports are still operating cheek by jowl with urban centres. They are a back door to a city, and too often a poorly guarded back door. This was the kernel of the idea  and it developed from there. So I had a pretty clear idea of the who, what and how, and I don’t think I had to adjust my opinion or focus too much when it came to the plot. But from the character side of it, the motivation and so on, that certainly evolved the deeper I got into it. 

Are there any new thriller ideas or writing plans in the pipeline?

Yes, I definitely want to write more. The Ocean Dove is a complete story in itself with a proper conclusion. But it does lend itself to a sequel, so … And I think there’s mileage in Dan Brooks as a character as well, so I would like to see him again. 

copyright © Linda Hobden

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

I read both fiction and non-fiction. For personal pleasure I enjoy travel and travellers’ accounts and memoirs, with a dash of history. These are non-fiction. For fiction, I like thrillers, espionage and mystery, and this ranges from the masters like Conrad, Christie, Hammett and Chandler, through Le Carre to Cornwell, Clancy and Leonard, and beyond to Brown and Child. I’ve a soft spot for Charles McCarry, who’s sadly overlooked, and I don’t know why. How do I read? Well, I can see the attraction and practicality of a kindle, but for me it’s got to be a physical book in my hands. 

Is “The Ocean Dove” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, The Ocean Dove is available worldwide, direct from the publishers (troubador.co.uk), from all the Amazon sites as a kindle or as a book, and from the main mail-order sites. When the book shops are open again, it will also be available in the High Street.

If you could visit any place in the world to give you inspiration for your next book, where would you go and why?

It would have to be the Sahel – across Chad, Niger and Mali. It’s been off limits for too long now, too dangerous. One day I hope to go back there. It’s a region where anything is possible, and I can’t imagine anyone (a writer) could go there and not come back inspired!

Copyright © Linda Hobden

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Now you’re talking. I love clothes!  And sorry, this interview could go on a bit … My daily wear would be jeans, unadulterated Levi 501s please. And I like dressing up. People shine when they’ve made the effort.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Favourites? Not really any more, sadly. The High Street’s so samey now. I pick and choose carefully, perhaps in a vintage shop down a side street, a charity shop, or even a TK Maxx where some oddball but well made things pop up from time to time. I also like to pick up eclectic stuff when I’m overseas.   

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

What’s next? I’ve a hankering for a really good black cashmere cardigan. Yeah, yeah, cardie, I hear you … But I’ll have to save up, though it will last and still look perfect in ten or twenty years. Buying cheap is a false economy anyway.

Boots or Shoes? 

I’m particular about shoes and boots. Firstly, they must be strong and practical, but stylish. Secondly, they have to be well made, that’s traditionally made, so a proper cobbler can maintain them over many years. I’ve got shoes and boots that have been with me for twenty or so years. I can’t abide flimsy footwear. It must be stout, a firm foundation to stand in, to run in, to get out of trouble in, should it arise. And here I hasten to add the best way out of trouble is tact, diplomacy and a smile. But wafer thin slip-ons are just not for me … I have boots for just mooching around in, boots for walking, a good old pair of DMs, and boots for motor biking – ex German army paratroop boots that are maybe thirty years old and still good for another thirty. Shoes are much the same; classic, sometimes with a twist, Oxfords, a bit of brogue, even monks, but always traditionally and heavily constructed.

LINKS 

For pinning later.

www.carlosluxul.com
https://twitter.com/CarlosLuxul  or @CarlosLuxul

https://facebook.com/CarlosLuxul/

https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/crime-and-thrillers/the-ocean-dove/

Thanks Carlos ! I didn’t have you down as a shoe connoisseur – have you discovered the shoes by Jeffrey West? Check them out when you’re next in London. You won’t be disappointed.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission by Carlos Luxul & Linda Hobden (where marked)
Thank you also to Ben Cameron of Cameron Publishing for the copy of Ocean Dove.

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Medicine And Miracles Book Tour

Ever since I was a young child I loved hearing about or reading about other people’s adventurous memoirs. The vicar and his wife of my local church when I was a child (in the 1970s) were once missionaries in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya – they used to tell me their stories and showed me photos of their life living amongst the local people. Their memories enthralled me and I was so thrilled to make my first trip to Kenya in 1990. I read ( and still do) stories, real life and make believe, about the jungles of Congo, the mighty Amazon, kidnapping in Colombia etc. I felt so privileged to be asked to join the book tour promoting the memoirs of a lady, Erica Elliott , who fits the adventurous mode to a T. Her book, “Medicine And Miracles in the High Desert”is definitely a book that grabbed my attention. I enjoyed the descriptive language describing the Navajo heartlands, I gasped at how she coped with some scenarios that would have left me petrified, I admired her resilience and determination to “fit” in with the Navajo people, I giggled at some of her escapades and unintentional faux pas moments, and I loved being privy to Erica’s memoirs. In a recent interview, Erica said “The book is timely, given all the divisiveness and racism in the world. And it’s especially timely given the drastic effects of the corona virus on the Navajo people”.  

Book Summary

This is the true story of a young white woman, Erica Elliott, who comes to the Navajo Reservation in 1971 as a newly minted schoolteacher, knowing nothing about her students or their culture. After several blunders and misunderstandings, and beset by loneliness and despair, Erica makes a determined effort to overcome the barriers of language and culture. From the moment she begins learning the Navajo language, the people open their hearts and homes to her, inviting her into a world that will profoundly impact the rest of her life.

Erica falls in love with her Navajo students—along with their enchanting land, healing ceremonies, and rich traditions. She witnesses many miracles during this time, and experiences her own miracle when the elders pray for her healing. She survives fearsome encounters with a mountain lion and a shapeshifting “skin walker.” She learns how to herd and butcher sheep, make fry bread, weave traditional rugs, and more.

Erica returns years later to serve the Navajo people as a medical doctor in an under-funded and under-staffed clinic, where she treats myriad ailments, delivers countless babies, and performs emergency procedures. When a medicine man offers to thank her with a ceremony, more miracles unfold.

Print Length: 202 Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Babloa Press

Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert is now available to purchase in print and as an e-book at Amazon.comIndieBound.org, and Barnes and Noble. Add it to your GoodReads reading listing as well.

About the Author Erica Elliott, M.D.

Erica Elliott is a medical doctor with a busy private practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A true adventurer, she has lived and worked around the world. She served as a teacher for Indigenous children on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona and in the mountains of Ecuador.

In 1976, she was one of the first American women to climb Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the western hemisphere. She taught rock climbing and mountaineering for Outward Bound and, after her first year of medical school, she led an all-women’s expedition to the top of Denali in Alaska.

In 1993, Erica helped found The Commons, a cohousing community in Santa Fe where she continues to live. She gave a TEDx talk about living in cohousing. Referred to affectionately as “the Health Detective,” she treats patients who come to her from all parts of the country with mysterious and difficult-to-diagnose illnesses. Erica is a frequent radio guest and has given workshops at various venues, including Esalen and Omega Institute.

For Pinning Later

Find her online at:

Author website: https://www.medicineandmiraclesinthehighdesert.com/

Professional website: http://www.ericaelliottmd.com/


Blog site: https://www.musingsmemoirandmedicine.com/


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ericamelliott

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Erica Elliott. My thanks to Nicole Pyles for the copy of “Medicine And Miracles In The High Desert” and for inviting me onto the #MedicineAndMiracles Book Tour. It has been a blast.

Linda x

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An Interview With Author Pamela Taylor

When somebody asks what book genre I enjoy, I usually say “ Thrillers” but after a while I crave a different genre – sometimes I indulge in a bit of armchair travelling; sometimes I like a classic such as novels by Daphne du Maurier, Charles Dickens or Tolstoy; sometimes a novel by Paolo Coelho; and sometimes I want to curl up and read some historical fiction …. such as Pestilence by Pamela Taylor. I have a love of British history – I did an O Level exam in “Tudors And Stuarts” – and that era along with the medieval centuries, hold my attention and let my imagination run riot. Pamela’s book, Pestilence, held my attention and although it was the 3rd book in a series it was still great to read as a stand alone book. I am honoured to be part of Pamela Taylor’s “Pestilence “ book tour and I am so glad to be able to ask Pamela those questions

Book Summary

At the dawn of the Renaissance, Alfred – the eponymous second son – must discover the special destiny foreseen for him by his grandfather. Now, the unthinkable has happened: Alfred’s brother is king. And it isn’t long before everyone’s worst fears are realized. Traditional allegiances are shattered under a style of rule unknown since the grand bargain that formed the kingdom was struck over two hundred years ago. These will be the most dangerous years of Alfred’s life, forcing him to re-examine his duty to personal honor and to the kingdom, while the threats posed by his brother constantly remind him of his father’s final words of advice. What choices will he have to make to try to protect the things he holds most dear?

Print Length: 234 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

ASIN: B08563V87C

ISBN-10: 1684334810

ISBN-13: 9781684334810

THE INTERVIEW

Hello, everyone.  I’m Pamela and I’m thrilled to have the chance to share a little bit about myself and my book.  Well, books, actually, because “Pestilence” is part of a series – the Second Son Chronicles. Three volumes are out in the world now with three more to come. I love to travel – it’s a big part of how I immerse myself into the place and time of my stories – but like you, I’m sticking close to home right now. Thankfully, I have two wonderful companions – Pembroke Welsh Corgis named Maggi and Marlo – who keep me company but who also never hesitate to remind me that a dog walk might be just the thing to get me inspired for that next scene or next chapter. 

Who or what inspired you to become a professional writer?

Quite frankly, I sort of fell into it. When I was in the corporate world, I wrote all kinds of things from really dry technical stuff to web pages; and one day I just said to myself, “I wonder if I can write fiction.” My first attempt wasn’t great – OK, full disclosure, it was pretty bad. But when Alfred, the protagonist in the Chronicles, started speaking to me, telling me his story, I began to get the hang of it. The first draft of “Second Son” (volume 1) wasn’t quite right – I wound up taking it apart and putting it back together again – but when that book was published and I held it in my hand, I gave myself permission to think of myself as a novelist. I’ve read so much historical fiction and non-fiction through the  years that I feel like I’ve had lots of mentors for my work (even if they don’t know it 🙂 )

Although “Pestilence” is the 3rd book in the series, it can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone book.  I love historical fiction and it was great to immerse myself into the story.  I liked the main character, Alfred, very much indeed – although I found myself disapproving of his very brief “liaison” with Amelia!  His brother, the pompous King John, made me giggle.  Which character did you enjoy writing about the most?  Which character was the hardest?

I’m so glad you like Alfred! I have to admit to being a bit in love with him myself. As for his dalliance, it’s useful to remember that the morés of the fourteenth century were a bit different from ours today and extra-marital liaisons were quite usual for a man of Alfred’s station. But since Alfred’s marriage is as much a love match as a political alliance, he has some inner conflict over the situation – and I hope that makes him more human, more real.

Writing Alfred is a pleasure. And I thoroughly enjoy Gwen and Samuel – the two people who are closest to Alfred. One character who surprised me has been Alfred’s mother. She was important but definitely secondary in the first two volumes; however, when her feisty side came out in “Pestilence,” I had a great time with her. You’ll see more of her in volume 4. The character who’s been the most troublesome doesn’t show up until a later volume, but watch for Hugo.

I am curious – what is your preference – to write a complete stand alone book or to write a complete series of books?

Truth be told, I don’t know 🙂  When I started writing “Second Son,” it was going to be a stand-alone book. But as Alfred kept revealing his story, it soon became clear I was going to end up with well over a thousand pages – hardly something you can offer up as a debut novel – so the series was born. That said, even within the arc of a series, each book has to have its own, fully complete narrative arc – I’m actually enjoying both dimensions.

 I enjoy reading historical novels – many years ago at school, I studied “Tudors and Stuarts” history O level, because I enjoyed reading about and delving into that era of British history.  It runs in the family – my mum is a “Mary, Queen of Scots” fan and my daughter is a “Queen Victoria” fan. I assume you must have a love of history too, what era particularly fascinates you and why?

What a joy to meet other history aficianados! I’m mostly into western European history – particularly France, Great Britain, and Ireland – and I think I must have been British in a former life, because that world just resonates with me in a visceral way that’s hard to describe. (In point of fact, ancestors on both sides of my family are British with a little Danish mixed in on one side – but then, after all, there were quite a few Danes in Britain at one time 🙂 ) I’m actually quite hard-pressed to say I have a favorite era – I’m as fascinated by Alfred the Great as I am by World War II and as interested in Eleanor of Aquitaine as Victoria. What I love best is to go to a historical location, even if it’s in ruins, and immerse myself in the feel of the place to go with the facts. 

 Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book?

I’ve always loved to read. Some favourite genres besides historical are espionage, mystery, suspense, some thrillers. But I can’t do horror at all. And I’m not a big fan of paranormal. I do like dragons, though – give me a good story with a dragon in it any day. Some favourite authors: Ken Follett, Bernard Cornwell, Jack Whyte, P.D. James, Daniel Silva, John LeCarré, Tom Clancy when he was alive and writing alone, Dick Francis, Dame Agatha Christie, Daphne DuMaurier, and, yes, Jane Austen. Actual book, please – there’s just something about holding the book and turning the pages. But I’m not a complete luddite – I do use Kindle for some things.

Is “Pestilence ” available to purchase worldwide?

Absolutely! As are all three volumes of the series.  Online and in book stores – ebook and paperback. Volumes 1 and 2 are also available as audiobooks. Volume 1 (“Second Son”) will soon be available in hardback as well.

If you could visit any place in the world to give you inspiration for your next book, where would you go and why?

 I had a trip to France planned for early March. It was to include a visit to Avignon to immerse myself in the old city and the papal palace. I was really bummed when Covid-19 forced me to cancel those plans. So that’s next up as soon as we can safely travel again. I have a project currently in the research stages that involves the possibility of a royal visitor to Pope John XXII.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Tailored slacks and a top of some sort. A light jacket for anything ‘formal.’ Shoes to fit the season and my mood. I like to vary the height of the heel and the style – just makes me feel good – but stopping short of the four-inch heels these days unless it’s a super-formal occasion.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I tend to be a bit opportunistic in clothes shopping. It’s not a good idea, though, for me to sign on to online shoe shops – I can always find something cute.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

No idea. Sort of waiting until it’s truly safe to be in the shops again.

Boots or Shoes?

Yes! And Sandals!  Why not?  One of my biggest challenges when packing for a trip is deciding what shoes to take – don’t want to get caught away from home without some variety and the right thing for whatever comes up during the trip.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

The website for my series:   https://www.SecondSonChronicles.com     Find excerpts from the books, links to historical info, a gallery of images related to the stories, all kinds of good stuff about Alfred’s world.

My author website:  https://pamela-taylor.com   Lots more about me.  And you can link to the Chronicles site from there aRs well.

Facebook:   Second Son Chronicles

Twitter:  @PJTAuthor, #SecondSonChronicles

Instagram:  PJTAuthor

THE TOUR

My thanks to Pamela for the advanced copy of Pestilence. All photographs have been published with kind permission of Pamela Taylor , apart from the Pinterest photo which was taken by myself – it is the backdrop in another medieval house, Lynford House in Norfolk.

Linda x

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Review: Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste Pump

DISCLAIMER ALERT: This product was gifted by Colgate, but all views are my own.

This week I’m looking at toothpaste. I was approached by Colgate to review their Total Whitening Toothpaste Pump. I was quite pleased to oblige because, like many families, finding a toothpaste that pleases all out of the vast array of toothpastes available can be a minefield. I do my main grocery shopping online, so I purchased Colgate’s Total Whitening Toothpaste, the 100ml pump version, when I did my weekly shop at Morrisons.

WHO ARE COLGATE? A POTTED HISTORY

Colgate-Palmolive started life as a small soap and candle business, founded by William Colgate in 1806, in New York City. Toothpaste production began in 1873 – it was sold in jars! In 1896, Colgate introduced toothpaste in a collapsible tube. By 1911, Colgate had distributed 2 million tubes of toothpaste and toothbrushes to schools in the USA and provided hygienists to demonstrate tooth brushing. In 1914, Colgate established its first international subsidiary in Canada; quickly followed by Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa in 1920. In 1968, MFP Fluoride was added to Colgate toothpaste, which is clinically proven to reduce cavities. In 1983, the Colgate Plus toothbrush was introduced. In 1992 Colgate Total Toothpaste was introduced and by 1997, it had become a market leader in the USA. In 2019 Colgate launched its first recyclable toothpaste tube along with the relaunch of Colgate Total Toothpaste.

WHAT CAUSES TEETH TO DISCOLOUR?

Like the picture of the stained mug above, the enamel on our teeth are susceptible to staining from our favourite dark coloured drinks such as tea, red wine, coffee and also through smoking. Foods such as curry, soy sauce and those with lots of food colouring can contribute too. Obviously, we can avoid discolouration by quitting smoking, limiting our consumption of dark drinks, eating plenty of raw fruit and vegetables such as carrots and apples to help clean the mouth, and after drinking a dark drink, my hygienist suggested a glass of plain water to swish around the mouth before the discolouration takes hold.

THE PUMP ITSELF

Although Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste can be found in a tube, I’m reviewing the 100ml pump version. I must say that I find having the pump on my bathroom shelf is more aesthetically pleasing than a tube that is contorted out of shape with remnants of dried toothpaste around the lid. Is it just my household or do you also find that the tube is often squeezed from the middle rather than the end? The pump looks neater, there’s no squeezing involved – just a small pump at the top that dispenses just the right pea sized amount onto your toothbrush – no mess, no wastage.

PRODUCT CLAIMS

  • 12 Hour protection on teeth, tongue, cheeks and gums (after 4 weeks of continued use).
  • Effective stain removal for a whiter and healthy smile.
  • Reduces bacteria on teeth, tongue, cheeks, gums
  • Antibacterial and Fluoride toothpaste

MY CONCLUSION

My teenage son has to wear a brace and obviously he has to be doubly attentive when it comes to tooth brushing. He wanted to try out the toothpaste and thought the pump was a bit of a novelty. His teeth definitely looked cleaner, and whiter ( see his photo above).

I found that the toothpaste was gentle on my gums and teeth; but the most overriding factor for me is that my teeth feel oh so clean – straight after brushing, yes – but hours afterwards too, even after eating. I liked the mild minty taste – enough to freshen your breath but not overpowering. My teeth get stained easily as I’m a bit of a tea addict – so a toothpaste that can help eradicate those stains gets a big plus for me – my teeth are not brilliant white but they are looking brighter. To be fair, I haven’t used the toothpaste for 4 weeks so I might be more blown away in another 2/3 weeks time – but I am happy with the current progress.

My score: 9/10

For pinning later.



Thanks to Colgate for giving me the opportunity to try the toothpaste. The potted history of Colgate was my condensed version of the full history of Colgate, which makes fascinating reading, and can be found on https://colgate.com
All photographs are by Linda Hobden.

Linda x

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An Interview With Author Kiran Bhat

“Author Kiran Bhat is a man that is unafraid to take literary risks – would you be interested in reading his book, “We Of The Forsaken World?“ was my introduction by Ben Cameron, who kindly sent me a copy of the book, published by Iguana Books. I am unafraid to jump in and read books which are not “run of the mill” and certainly this is a book that made me think. “We Of The Forsaken World” is about a mix of global issues (pre COVID-19) condensed into one book – 4 main stories set around the world, locations unspecified, as seen from 16 individual points of view:

  • a man who journeys to the birthplace of his mother which is in a tourist town that has been spoiled by an industrial spill.
  • a nameless remote tribe – striving for succession when a 2nd son is born, and the fight to stop the jungle being destroyed by loggers.
  • in a city, a homeless one-armed woman sets out to seek revenge upon the men who trafficked her.
  • in a small village of shanty shacks, a milkmaid naively watches her reputation being systematically destroyed by girls she called friends.

My favourite story was the milkmaid one, but all 4 made you think and each character of each story presented their viewpoint on the same scenario. Very clever way of presenting a story. If you are looking for a quick read, then this book is not for you. I found the book enjoyable once I had understood that different viewpoints were being represented and I found myself adding my point of view to the situations too!

The book may have been interesting, but the author Kiran also peaked my interest antennae! According to his author blurb, he has devoted his life to writing fiction about global experiences. Having travelled to over 130 countries, he has lived in 18 different places and speaks 12 languages. Definitely a person I had to interview…. so, hi Kiran!

Hello. I’m Kiran. I am an Indian-American traveler, polyglot, and writer. I was formed in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, my family is from Southern Karnataka in India, and I’ve lived all over the world. I try to use these different pieces of me to create globalising art. I’m interested in challenging the bounds of the Me vs You, the My Country vs Your Country in art. I think I do this in various different projects, but “ we of the forsaken world…”  is the one getting the most attention thus far. 

Your book, “We of the forsaken world” is truly intriguing and thought provoking  – a collection of 16 mini stories of 4 situations, each situation from 4 points of view – covering a range of current global and human issues including grief, jealousy, abuse, violence, sexuality, industrial spills, logging in jungle areas, trafficking, mobile phones, parent-child relationships, greed. I was fascinated by the milkmaid character – her need to fit in and be liked, her naivety, her sudden realisation that the girls she called friends were destroying her reputation. But what really made you decide to write a novel like this? 

“we, of the forsaken world…” came to me in 2011, when I was on a bus between Dubrovnik and Zagreb. A tall, brunette woman with a lingering stare sat down next to me on one of the stops. We began to talk about a host of things I can’t remember now, but the one thing that she told me which did remain in my head was the following: Croatia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Something about that sentence inspired my imagination. After we reached the bus station, I had to sit on one of the metal benches for a few hours, and write. I was starting to imagine different countries, completely imagined in my head. One was a half-rich half poor megalopolis, the sort found in most third-world countries. Then, there was a town that wasn’t so different looking from my grandmother’s place, the southern Indian city of Mysore. There was a tribe in the middle of nowhere, not to mention a town of great touristic importance, destroyed by an industrial spill. I also imagined hundreds of voices. Though, over the course of time, those two hundred-so voices became around sixteen; the most distinct and boisterous of the lot.

I enjoyed reading the book  – I grew to like how you wrote the book as the stories unfolded –  the mix of perspectives, the mix of characters. What was, for you, the hardest part(s) to write about?

Trying to make all of the sixteen characters and four regional voices feel realistic. Also trying to make it so that the structure would work. I kept trying different things, but finally settled on the poetic interludes. It’s now a lot of readers’ favourite thing about the book.

As you have travelled to over 130 countries, lived in at least 18 different places and can speak 12 languages – did you base your mini stories on any places or experiences in particular?

I think my regions are a mix of different places which really inspired me. I would say the city of Mysore, the global cities of Sao Paulo, Guayaquil, and Nairobi, the landscapes of Manu Jungle and the Masai Mara, the stories of Bhopal and Chernobyl, parts of Lake Van, Lake Victoria, and coastal Java. But, I would say that most of the things about this book were imagined, and created from my desire to spark new worlds. So, I don’t think you would see a lot of these places directly in my writing. They manifest in my sub-conscious, and help me to imagine clearer, or better. 

So, as we are talking travelling, where has been your favourite place you’ve visited or lived in so far? 

Well, I consider myself a Mumbaikher. I think Mumbai is the city of India which faces the world, which is why it makes most sense for an Indian origin person of globalising intents to write from. That being said, Istanbul, being the crossroads of the world, is also one of my favourite cities, and I think New York, which has all of the world inside of it, is also up there. 

Which place have you visited that you have felt didn’t actually live up to your expectations?

I don’t think I travel that way. I think I like certain things of certain places, but if a place doesn’t ‘live up to my expectations,’ it isn’t the place’s fault. It just wasn’t meant to be. I don’t think there any countries or cities that I dislike or hate. It’s more that they just weren’t my taste.

When it comes to your personal reading delights – what genre/authors do you read? Kindle or book?

I tend to be a classics person. If it comes from the Vedic period of Indian literature, the Golden Age of Russian writing, European realism, or American modernism, I’m most likely going to adore it. To give names, I love Vyasa, Valmiki, Bana, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Melville, Faulkner, etc. I tend to read on both book and Kindle, but since I travel, I tend to use my Kindle more. It’s just more convenient when you change countries every few months, and I don’t feel like it changes much for me.

Are there any other book ideas in the pipeline for 2020 and beyond?

I have a giant book that I am going to write over the course of a decade, which will take place in 365 different locations on the planet, in the minds of two archetypes that take different regional form over the course of various story structures. It’s a complex book of its own. I’d love to talk about it more in detail, once I start putting it out formally next year. 🙂 

Is “We Of The Forsaken World” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, largely on the typical digital platforms, like Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, etc. I have gotten the book into some indie bookstores in India and the USA. Will let you know if I get it stocked in the UK. 

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I wear a lot of graphic-Ts, with jeans. I’m trying to look more alternative, like the global-nomad-meets-guru type, but I need a lot of help styling myself. Maybe I can hire you as a fashion consultant sometime. 🙂

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Amazon? It’s where you can buy pretty much anything you want.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Oh, god. I’m the last person to think about clothing, and anyone who has seen how I dress can attest to that. I suppose I need to buy some new shoes though, mostly because the ones I bought some months back are getting worn. I even tripped a few days back on my run, which I attest to partly Melbourne not being as well-paved as people would like to believe, and my shoes having lost some grip

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes, as per what I have said above. I also don’t live in muggy places, so I rarely wear boots. In fact, I think I have only worn boots twice in my life.

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

Yes! 

my website: https://kiranbhatweldgeist.com/

my author fan page:https://www.facebook.com/Kiran-Bhat-105125697596856

my instagram handle: originalsin_0421

my twitter: Weldgeist Kiran

Ah, great to chat to you Kiran and I don’t think there is anything wrong with graphic tees and denim jeans! Boots though… really you should give them a try!! 😊 Having been to Nairobi, I could envisage a lot of what you were saying in your book … and Mysore, the city that I read about as a young child whilst reading such stories as Mowgli, and I have had the city on my “bucket list” for decades!!

My thanks to Ben Cameron & Kiran Bhat for sending me a copy of “ we of the forsaken world…” to review; all photographs have been published with kind permission of Kiran Bhat.

Linda x

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An Interview With Author Sarah Stonich

This week I’m honoured to be part of the “Fishing” book tour. I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Sarah Stonich’s book “Fishing” to review and Sarah agreed to answer my nosy questions too! Thanks Sarah!

THE BOOK – OFFICIAL BLURB

Having fled the testosterone-soaked world of professional sport fishing, thirty-something RayAnne Dahl is navigating a new job as a consultant for the first all-women talk show about fishing on public television (or, as one viewer’s husband puts it, “Oprah in a boat”). After the host bails, RayAnne lands in front of the camera and out of her depth at the helm of the show. Is she up for the challenge? Meanwhile, her family proves as high-maintenance as her fixer-upper house and her clingy rescue dog. Her dad, star of the one-season Big Rick’s Bass Bonanza, is on his sixth wife and falling off the wagon and into RayAnne’s career path; her mother, a new-age aging coach for the menopausal rich, provides endless unwanted advice; and her beloved grandmother Dot—whose advice RayAnne needs—is far away and far from well.

But as RayAnne says, “I’m a woman, I fish. Deal with it.” And just when things seem to be coming together—the show is an unlikely hit; she receives the admiration of a handsome sponsor (out of bounds as he is, but definitely in the wings); ungainly house and dog are finally in hand—RayAnne’s world suddenly threatens to capsize, and she’s faced with a gut-wrenching situation and a heartbreaking decision.

First published in 2015 under a pseudonym, this first installment in a trilogy filled with hilarity and heartbreak unspools with the gentle wit and irresistible charm that readers of Sarah Stonich have come to expect. Fishing! eases us into unsuspected depths as it approaches the essential question . . . when should life be steered by the heart, not the rules?

THE BOOK – MY THOUGHTS

I found “Fishing” an enjoyable, easy reading “chick” novel based around a male dominated sport, “fishing”. I wasn’t sure at first what to expect as I am a fan of thrillers and I rarely venture out of that genre, but I found myself sucked in by the antics of RayAnne and genuinely enjoying the story. I liked the fact that the theme was fishing – it was an unusual theme for a chick novel and made a change from the “boy meets girl” scenario. Bernadette, RayAnne’s mother was perhaps my favourite character. She just made me giggle. I adored RayAnne though – I felt like screaming at her to get some self confidence. Unexpected twist at the end of the story too. Great holiday read.

OFFICIAL BOOK PUBLISHING DETAILS

Print Length: 280 Pages

Genre: Women’s Fiction

ISBN-10: 1517908981

ISBN-13: 9781517908980

ASIN: B085LZ4324

THE AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Hi, I’m Sarah, with an H. As a kid, my large family called me Sally, which never felt quite as serious or dramatic as I felt, thinking I deserved some name like ‘Isadora’ or ‘Augustine’. Fifty years later, having gotten over myself, I am really liking ‘Sally’ so am training my husband of fourteen years to call me that. He mostly calls me ‘Hey’, now. We just adopted a cat, Dr. Fauci (it was a name we’d been hearing fifty times a day, right?) Also, they have similar noses. He’s kept us entertained during quarantine and in turn I’ve gone a little overboard on some of the cat gear. Like RayAnne, I’m a bit of a late bloomer. I didn’t begin writing until I was nearly forty. Before that I’d been busy raising a son, renovating Victorian houses, pretending I was Martha Stewart. I worked in advertising, then publishing. 

Who or what inspired you to become a professional writer?

 I had loads of favorite writers, but didn’t aspire to become one myself. I just started writing and then a story I wrote piled up into a novel, and I showed a writer friend, who showed his agent, and boom – unintentional veer in life plan. Since it landed with me, I decided to give writing a go. So easy! Turns out anyone can be a writer. Kidding! 

Fishing ” Is the 1st installment in the “Fishing With RayAnne” trilogy – I enjoyed reading the book from start to finish, and I look forward to reading the follow up books too.  I liked RayAnne’s character a lot although the older ladies, Bernadette (RayAnne’s mum) and Dot (RayAnne’s gran), made me smile and, on occasions, giggle. I think they were perhaps my favourite characters. Which character did you enjoy writing about the most?  Which character was the hardest? 

Ask your mom who her favorite child is. Like any mother I’ll lie and say I cherish them all equally. RayAnne, Cassi, Gran and Bernadette are all fun to write because they are so different and each bring their perspective that is so very THEM to the story. Of course I spend the most time with RayAnne, who’s grown to be like a little sister to me. And like sisters, we have our days, believe me.

“Fishing” was first published in 2015, under your pseudonym, Ava Finch. Why did you decide to republish under your own name? Was “Fishing” originally intended to be one off or had you always planned to create a RayAnne trilogy? 

About halfway through I realized I wasn’t going to be finished with this RayAnne character, and I had to see her through her entire transformation. She’s flawed, and has miles to go. Spoiler: she winds up flawed in the end, but is okay with it. With the first publication I used a pen name because I thought it would be fun and different. It wasn’t – I had a publisher that wasn’t a good match, so I’m doubly grateful to the University Of Minnesota to take on Fishing With RayAnne as a trilogy. 

What made you decide to write a chick -lit read based around a predominantly male sport such as fishing? 

I have a writer friend that advises, ‘write what you DON’T know.’ I do that a lot, I find a topic that interests me, but not that I’m too familiar with – researching and digging around in these unknown realms is really the fun part of writing for me.   


I hear that, in the pipeline,  you are currently adapting the RayAnne trilogy for TV.  I personally think the novel is brilliant for this kind of adaptation. What surprises have you encountered (good or bad) whilst trying to adapt your novel? Is it harder to adapt than you thought?

 I first wrote ‘Fishing WIth RayAnne as a feature script before writing it as a book – an exercise to teach myself to lighten up on the details and description I’m so prone to. Getting a feature film actually made has about the same the odds of being born with all your teeth, but, with so many new opportunities for television, adapting it to small screen feels more hopeful, and it really is easier – I love writing dialogue.   

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

Actual book. I like paper and pages and covers, and book design and just the book as an object – that said I would never shelve books by color and anyone who does should have their books taken away from them and re-homed. Our loft is lined with bookshelves. At the moment I’m reading dead women – the ‘undervalued British women novelists of the mid-century’. It’s a thing – there’s a website – look it up. These women are true treasures, but we barely know them because male writers got (and still get) most of the publishing attention and dollars. Women are tenacious, like the cicada, a bug that lives underground for seventeen years before emerging and unfurling their wings – these women writers have been largely unread for seventy. Hello, Jane Elizabeth Howard; Naomi Mitcheson; Josephine Tey…   

Is “Fishing” available to purchase worldwide? 

YES!

If you could visit any place in the world to give you inspiration for your next book, where would you go and why? 

I had plans to visit Finland sometime soon to research a book for my Northern trilogy, which has a number of characters that are 3rd generation Finns living in rural Minnesota. I was all stoked to dig into these ancestor’s pasts, then Covid! So, that’s on hold for now. I did visit relatives in New Zealand while writing ‘Fishing!’ and was inspired to set much of ‘Reeling’, the second volume in the trilogy there, when RayAnne and Cassi take the show on the road.  

For pinning later

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing? 

Like RayAnne, I’m fashion challenged, but my happy outfits are comfy cotton or linen or nubby silk things with lots of pockets – no bright colors and God forbid no patterns that might attract undue attention. I could rob a bank and no one would be able to describe what I was wearing – though I like to think a witness might remember me as mildly stylish. Good tailoring gets me. As for shoes, I’m just going to say it: HEELS? Why???

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Some of the small European Etsy shops that will make linen garments with custom options. Love that they come with a label, ‘Made for Sarah’ (maybe time to change up to Sally?) 

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Better-quality clothes, fewer items in my closet, and fewer imports. In the follow-up to ‘Fishing!’, ‘Reeling’, RayAnne interviews a young ‘anti-fashion’ designer and in the process learns about the true toll of fast-fashion industry and imports on the environment, as well as grim labor practices. My grandfather was a tailor and my grandmother a seamstress – so maybe I’m genetically bound to some romantic, utopian ideal of knowing one person made a garment I’m wearing, from start to finish, in a room with windows. 

Boots or Shoes?

Converse sneakers (with inserts, I’m not crazy), and chunky low-heeled boots (see above) classic Italian sandals that take forever to break in, then last ten years. Comfort, and not wanting to break my neck or cripple my insteps is why. Last time I wore heels was for a gallery event, during which I fell backwards, like a plank, as if in some skit. Friends still talk about it.  

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

 Website: sarahstonich.com

FB: Sarah Stonich Bookshelf.

Twitter: @sarahstonich

https://bookshop.org/books/fishing-9781517908980/9781517908980

BOOK TOUR DATES

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Sarah Stonich (apart from the fish head photo that was taken by me! )

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