What Lies Beyond Sci-Fi Stories of the Future, Edited byJ K Larkin, a review

What Lies Beyond

Stephen Oliver, one of the book’s contributing authors gave me the heads up on this terrific collection.

The Generalist is Stephen’s contribution and thoroughly deserves its place in this book with the other excellent stories. Stephen’s stories are always unusual and quirky not only displaying an orignality of thought but also quality writing.

A cousin of mine named Startruck her favourite in an earlier collection “Where the Wild Winds Blow.” Another book showcasing some of Stephen’s work.

So what of the other stories? they were all exceptionally good but I particularly enjoyed Preacher by Lisa Diaz Meyer and The Felinedae Mission by Debbie De Louise, those who have cats would regard this as entirely plausible.

The Railway Carriage Child by Wendy Fletcher, a review.

Despite reading and promoting this book I haven’t reviewed it, on this my blog.I thought I had but it seems not I am now correcting my oversight with sincere apologies to Wendy.
The Railway Carriage Child is a beautifully written account of a young girl’s childhood, growing up living in an unusual home made from two Victorian railway carriages.
The account is so vivid you feel you are there with Wendy as she revisits those times, walking through the Fenland town that was her childhood home and now is again. We feel we are sitting with her on the bus and seeing the world through her eyes.
The finest auto biography I have had the pleasure of reading.

I look forward to reading more from this talented author I understand she has two more books in the works.

It is available on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Railway-Carriage-Child-Wendy-Fletcher/dp/1916481736/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=the+railway+carriage+child&qid=1610984138&sr=8-1

Killing Time in Cambridge a review by Stephen Oliver

Stephen was kind enough to buy my book and has given me this wonderful five star review on Amazon, he has also posted it on his own blog too. I write not just for my own pleasure but hopefully to entertain others, it is gratifying for me when I have succeeded.

Killing Time in Cambridge

This is not part of my publishing career, but I would like to promote a novel written by a friend of mine, Philip Cumberland.

It is a cross between a time-travel adventure and a police procedural, with intense descriptions of local colour. The premise is fascinating, and the execution extremely well done. 

The tale gripped me from the beginning because of the interesting, quirky characters, like Arnold, Sylvia… and, of course, Marvin. Their interactions were believable, and the character-building using dialogue was credible. The world-building, basing itself on the real Cambridge and the countryside of the Fens as it did, brought a touch of reality to an otherwise bizarre and twisted tale. Well, time travel will do that to a story.

If you like stories that are a bit out of the ordinary (and time travel and police procedural under one roof are extraordinary), you should enjoy this journey into the past… er, future? Um, whenever…!

Oh, and I loved that little plot twist at the end, hinting as it does to a possible sequel.

The author assures me that he has made every trip mentioned, been to every scene described, and walked (and timed) every outing within the city. I have not spent much time in Cambridge, but I can visualise how it was on the days of the murders…

If you’re looking for something different and interesting, I can thoroughly recommend it.

Stephen Oliver

If you would like to read it for yourself there is a link to Amazon on the photo title or click herehttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Killing-Time-Cambridge-Philip-Cumberland/dp/1916481779/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1610177186&sr=8-1

The Silence by Alison Bruce a review.

The Silence by Alison Bruce

I have enjoyed all of Alison Bruce’s books. The Silence is no exception. The story is set in the, for me familiar comfortable setting of Cambridge.

The story builds on a series of tragic events that seem to have little in common initially, other than the ages of those involved and suicides. As the plot unfolds we are on the edge of our seats hoping that those involved remain safe and escape unhurt while the tension increases as the truth is revealed.  The finale for me was so profound that the book affected me like no other since reading  The Catcher in the Rye. This is a gripping story that engages the reader completely.

A very suitable addition to a recommended reading list for secondary schools, in my opinion.

Not the normal Father Christmas Experience

Father Christmas

Every year I dress as Father Christmas and visit the children’s Christmas Party at a local nursery school.  Usually I hand out presents to the children who are dressed in their Christmas finery, the boys in Superman suits, Spiderman suits, in Father Christmas or Rudolph Jumpers and in one or two cases dinosaur suits. The girls mostly wear princess and party frocks or dresses with Rudolph or Santa on the front, without exception; boys and girls, all wear enormous smiles. After I have given out the presents and before my accompanying elf leads me to the next classrooms the children sing me a song or two, usually “When Santa got stuck up the Chimney” or “Jingle Bells.” I love it and so do the children.

This year has been a little different, I changed into my Father Christmas outfit at my daughter’s and she drove me to the school, I did get some excited attention from grown up ladies waiting on the kerb for us to pass.

I went around the school waving to the children through the classroom windows, ho hoing and shouting Merry Christmas as loud as I could. The boys and girls were wearing their Christmas finery and enormous smiles as usual but although I was sung to and the children enjoyed themselves it wasn’t the same, for either them or me.

Father Christmas would be my second career choice after multi billionaire playboy, to be able to give happiness is probably the greatest gift we have. Even if I can only manage it for a few hours a year I gratefully grab the opportunity.

I hope things will be back to normal next year.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

The Moment Before Impact by Alison Bruce, a review

The Moment Before Impact by Alison Bruce

Most of us I am sure are familiar with books that you can’t put down because you want to know what happens next but don’t want to the story to end because they are so good, this is one of those books.

The story is set in and around Cambridge, the streets and places are familiar to those who live in or visit the city. For others who do not share that familiarity with the city, a Google search makes it accessible and I am sure encourages readers to visit and see it for themselves.

The plot is engaging and draws the reader in, Celia Henry a tenacious former reporter tries to make sense of the circumstances leading up to a serious road accident. Those involved have become  the adults she watched growing up as children while their neighbour.

An open and shut case becomes increasing more open and less shut as the story moves on with Celia prompting the police to look again. The story grips and holds the reader as it twists and turns revealing more of the back story.

One word describes it for me “Brilliant” but don’t take my word for it, read it yourself.

More please Mrs. Bruce

The Moment Before Impact is available on Amazon and in book shops.

Time Will Tell, written by Eva Jordan. A review.

Time Will Tell by Eva Jordan

Time Will Tell is an onion of a story, as each layer is peeled off another is revealed beneath. The  book weaves together a murder mystery and a family saga.

The back story, set in the sixties London’s East End, is familiar to those of us who lived through those years.  My knowledge of the East End came from those who had migrated to my home town courtesy of the slum clearances but although I didn’t know the East End first hand, I knew the time.  I lived through the sixties, enjoyed the music and the overwhelming sense of optimism. The world was getting better. I suppose having known that time and that optimism, its crashing reversal in the later seventies and eighties hurt those of us of a certain age far more.

Time Will Tell gives an insight into the criminality lurking under the surface in the East End and the picture is both detailed and compelling.

The catalogue of villainy from the East End  crime gangs, slowly surfaced over time with the holding to account of the Krays and Richardsons. It also became apparent as time passed that there were hidden figures, those not held to account at the time.

It is not all about the past, the central topic, the quest for justice and exploitation are all too present problems.

We travel with the well drawn characters, as they carry us along through the story, we care for them.

The final twist is a real gem.

A damn fine novel, an excellent read from Eva, she is a talented writer. I am looking forward to her next book.

Time Will Tell is Available on Amazon,

Leaping off

Killing Time in Cambridge

Well, I have leapt off the diving board and published my novel Killing Time in Cambridge. The first printed paperback book arrived on Wednesday and I have had my first review for the Kindle version.

Rather mixed feelings, relief that I have finally done it, a sense of tiredness and anticlimax. I hope that it will not only sell but more importantly those who read it enjoy the story, The feedback so far has been favourable.

My next novel is underway whether it will get finished is always an open question but I am pleased with the opening chapter. It is slightly different from the first, with different characters. However if Killing Time in Cambridge proves popular Arnold Lane may have a second outing.

If you would like to buy it on Amazon click here:

Killing Time in Cmbridgehttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Killing-Time-Cambridge-Philip-Cumberland/dp/1916481779/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1606719444&sr=8-1

David Richard Todd in Memoriam

David with Jarvis the Cocker Spaniel

Last Monday the 19th of October a great many of the occupants of Wyton village in Cambridgeshire lined the streets to say goodbye to a truly remarkable man. The workforce of the company where he had worked since leaving school, stood at the roadside and clapped as the hearse passed by, carrying David Richard Todd on  his final journey.

David  was a loving husband, a wonderful dad, a caring son, brother, brother in law uncle and friend. He was also an international athlete, Beaver pack leader and thoroughly decent human being.

David was born in 1961 grew up in Woodhurst was educated locally and started work aged sixteen as an apprentice at the Beamglow Company in St Ives. Eventually he was to become the company’s Technical Manager.

When he was seventeen he suffered life changing injuries when his motorcycle was in collision with a double decker bus. For a few weeks he clung to life. As he was overcoming this battle the realisation that his spine was so badly damaged that he would no longer walk again dawned.

He was moved from  Addenbrooke’s  to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, the wards at that time were the wooden huts that remained after the second world war.  The conditions were cramped, there was barely space between the beds for even a chair. It was while he was there that the amazing character of the man shone through. He would say how lucky he was, mentioning fellow patients that had suffered even more horrific injuries than his own and his concern for their well being.

After many months he left Stoke Mandeville returning home to live with his parents and back to work at Beamglow. He learned to drive a car and was soon back on the road, the song by Manfred Mann’s Earth band, Davy’s  On The Road Again seemed to be his theme song.

He married Angela in 1983. they stayed together until David’s death and were a devoted couple. Their marriage was a true partnership.

Encouraged by his time in Stoke Mandeville David became a proficient sportsman, playing basketball before turning his talents to wheelchair racing. He became successful at this, not only racing in Great Britain but also representing his country internationally, in the process travelling widely throughout the world.

When interviewed for his first management position, David was asked how he could manage people from a wheelchair? His reply if he couldn’t manage people it wouldn’t be possible to get on and off planes in foreign countries, ensured the job was his.

His son Stephen was in the local Beaver group, when it seemed likely to close because the leader was stepping down David stepped forward and took on the role. He continued for fifteen years, the children loved him and it gave them a practical demonstration on how to overcome disability.

David travelled widely his last major holiday was a road trip in the USA with his son Stephen. Driving along Route 66.

Three years ago David was diagnosed with cancer, after surgery things seemed to be improving unfortunately the cancer returned, spread and became terminal. He wanted to die at home, Angela insisted she be allowed to care for him in the closing days of his life, she told the doctors, for her caring for him in sickness and in health meant exactly that.

In the early hours of the first of October David lost his last battle to an infection he no longer had the strength to fight. He died at home.

I have lost a real hero, those that knew David were inspired by him, learned from him and gained immeasurably from contact with him.

David during his wheel chair racing career

The world is a poorer, emptier place without him.

Standing on the Diving Board

The Front Cover

I am getting close to finishing my book the writing is done and the corrections are well underway. The cover design is nearly finished and I hope to publish very soon.

It is an interesting situation for me to be in, I have had some writing published and been touched that people have enjoyed my work. There is no greater vote of confidence than someone buying your work, no, perhaps there is. A lady picked up a copy of “Where The Wild Winds Blow” at a U3A meeting looked at my name badge and asked if I had written anything in the book she held. When I said I had, she leafed through the book and started reading, “Where does the Pope buy his Frocks?” after a few minutes she was laughing out loud. It was a moment of pure magic for me.

At the moment I have mixed emotions, I want to be finished and published but hesitant, wondering about how much more polishing and tweaking it needs to make it as good as possible.

 I suppose the closest analogy is someone standing on a high diving board for the first time. Edging their way to the end wanting to jump, to dive in but worried that the neatly executed movement they have planned will end in a belly flop.

There is only one way to find out and I will in the next few weeks when I dive in.

In the meantime:

Where Does the Pope Buy His Frocks?

“I often talk to myself, sometimes out loud, mostly though within the confines of my mind. I am not sure whether it is just my way of marshalling thoughts or a rehearsal of how the words may sound when spoken.”

“That’s very interesting Mr Fontain,” said Miss Rogers, my analyst, “But you must realise there are times when sharing your thoughts vocally may not be appropriate.”

“I don’t know, sometimes it can liven up a boring occasion, even make it interesting.”

“It can offend though.”

“No one has the right not to be offended.”

“What about the occasion of the Queen’s visit?”

“All I said was she is not my mum and I wish she would stop sending me begging letters.”

“But why use the megaphone?”

“She was a long way off and I wanted her to hear, I am fed up with her writing to me, I don’t even know the woman. It got a lot of laughs though, a cheer and a round of applause.”

“What about the fight afterwards.”

“The Queen started that, well some of the blokes with her did.”

“The police?”

“They had no right to try and steal my megaphone, it cost me a lot of money. It is a good job the people nearby thought the same, I’ve still got my megaphone thanks to them.”

“Would those people be the Fens Republicans?”

“I think some of them might be, I know a couple come from Ely, some from Chatteris and at least one from Huntingdon.”

“The Queen had to cut short her visit because of the fighting; a lot of people were very disappointed.”

“Well, they shouldn’t have started the fights then should they? As I said, no one has the right not to be offended. When I am offended I don’t start fighting people and trying to steal their stuff do I?”

“No, you use your megaphone. What about the visit by the Pope to Cambridge?”

“All I said was I wonder if he got his frock from Marks and Spencer or John Lewis.”

“Through your megaphone wasn’t it?”

“Most people thought it was hilarious. I think even the Pope had a chuckle.”

“That caused more trouble.”

“The police again, trying to nick my megaphone, it was a good job most of the crowd were on my side and I had my bike handy for a swift getaway.”

“The getaway caused problems too didn’t it?”

“The students on their bikes you mean?”

“Yes, they blocked off most of the roads in the city centre to stop the police didn’t they?”

“I heard about that. Again, it was the police causing trouble; you would think they would be chasing criminals wouldn’t you?”

“How on earth did you manage to smuggle you megaphone into Parliament?”

“It wasn’t easy, I had it wrapped up in a parcel and pretended to be a courier delivering it to an MP. Once I was in I got changed and sneaked into the chamber.”

“But why shout out Black Rod stole my elephant?”

“Because what I really feel, what I genuinely believe, I cannot say. My voice is silent on the really important issues – on the lessons we haven’t learned. Mostly, I talk to myself; that audience always listens.”

“Okay, Mr Fontain same time next week. Back to your cell now.”

I am a proud member of Whittlesey Wordsmiths, a writing and publishing Cooperative, you might like to find out more about these books from our collection

Click on the picture to read more or order from Amazon

Front cover of a Following Wind click on the picture to read more or order from Amazon
The Railway Carriage Child. Click on the picture for more information or to order
Witch Way Click on the picture for more information or to order
A year before Christmas click on the picture for more information or to order
Unleash Your Dreams: Going Beyond Goal Setting (NLP, the Law of Attraction, the Universe and You Book 1) by [Stephen Oliver]
Unleash Your Dreams. Click on the picture for more information or to order.

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