Sunday, 29 August 2010

Book Review

"Movers and Shakers"

'The Redemption of Alexander Seaton'

The Redemption of Alexander Seaton by: Shona Maclean
Quercus Books. 2008
ISBN: 978 1 84724 791 9

Shona Maclean is a relatively new author that I stumbled upon quite by accident last year.  Shona was born in Inverness, a large town on the North East coast of Scotland,and grew up in the Scottish Highlands where her parents were hoteliers.

Shona has an M.A. and Ph.D. in 17th century History, which she gained from the University of Aberdeen. She is also the neice of the late novelist Alistair MacLean, who wrote  many well known novels that included 'The Guns of Navarone' and 'Where Eagles Dare'. Some of Alister Maclean's books were adapted as films, and remain popular to this very day.

Shona's first novel which was published in 2008, is called 'The Redemption of Alexander Seaton', and tells the story of a thrilling murder and mystery set in 17th century Scotland. This particular tale is positively steeped within the history of that particular period.

As the title of this book suggests, the central character within the story is Alexander Seaton, a dishonoured minister, who now has to earn a meagre living, by working as a reluctant and embittered teacher in the small Scottish village of Banff.

On a wild and wet stormy night, the local apothecary's assistant collapses in the street. Alexander Seaton is a witness to this particular tragic event , but walks on and does nothing to help. The following morning, the apothecary's assistant is then found dead in Alexander Seaton's classroom.  

A friend of Alexander Seaton, Charles Thom, who had been living with the apothecary's assistant, is then arrested, on suspicion of murdering the apothecary's assistant.The story then develops into the main body of the tale, of how Alexander Seaton sets out to prove his friend's innocence.

The Redemption of Alexander Seaton is filled with atmosphere, emotion, excitement, historical detail and characters that you can imagine and live with, through the adventure, as a remarkable story unfolds.

I have recently introduced this book to quite a few friends, who have come back with nothing but positive remarks in relation to this story. For those who love historical fiction, this should be a must read!

Earlier this year Shona Maclean published her second book called 'A Game of Sorrows', and I will post a review on this book fairly soon.

This is a recommended 5 star read.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


Philippa Gregory - Additional Tour Date

Just to let you know Philippa Gregory has added an extra date to her UK tour and will be in Edinburgh on 14th September for an event with The Edinburgh Bookshop.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Book Review:

'A Book Worth Reading'

'The Lace Reader'

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Harper Collins. August 2008
ISBN: 978 0 06 166826 5

The Whitney women of Salem Massachusetts,are renowned for reading the future within their patterns of lace. This beautifully told story tells the fictional tale of Towner Whitney who in the beginning is very much alone. When she was fifteen she fled her home and family when her gift brought her whole world crashing down. Fifteen years later when her beloved Great Aunt Eva disappears, Towner returns to Salem to face the terrible events that split her family apart. Once started, this book is hard to put down. The story is weaved with suspense, passion,and magic. Religious intolerence is also a strong theme within this book. In Brunonia Barry's own words, 'Towner's story is a journey about healing and learning to trust both herself and others'.
This is a complex and tragic story, that very slowly reveals its interesting themes,characters and their family secrets. The story also has an unexpected twist to its ending! If you get the opportunity, this is a book that is well worth reading.

Movers and Shakers: Author Leigh Russell

'Movers and Shakers'

'Author Leigh Russell'

'Cut Short' : by Leigh Russell                                                                 'Road Closed': by Leigh Russell
      No Exit Press. 2009                                                                                 No Exit Press. 2010
    ISBN: 978 1 84243 271 6                                                                          ISBN: 978 1 84243 344 7

 For those of you who enjoy reading crime fiction books, can I suggest that you watch out for a relatively new UK author Leigh Russell. I do not usually read crime thrillers, but last year something attracted me to search out and read Leigh Russell's debut novel 'Cut Short'. Leigh kindly sent me a copy of 'Cut Short' just after it was first published, and I must honestly say, that for a debut novel, I found this a very good read. Since being published last year, 'Cut Short' has already been reprinted three times! 'Cut Short' has also been shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger Best First Crime Novel Award.  

'Cut Short' by Leigh Russell, is the first book in a series, where the central character for a change within crime fiction, is a female Detective Inspector called Geraldine Steel.  'Cut Short' begins with DI Geraldine Steel, relocating home to a quiet rural village, where one would expect nothing much out of the normal. In truth, without providing too many spoilers, this assumption is far from the reality of the situation, as Geraldine Steel working with the police Murder Investigation Team, finds that she is soon on the case of tracking down a disturbed killer who is preying on local young women within the village area.

This story flows from start to finish. As a psychological thriller it is an easy and quick read which is difficult to put down once started. It also has a twist at the end to look out for!

I am just coming to the end of reading Leigh Russell's second book 'Road Closed', and I think that it's an even better read than 'Cut Short'! Again the compassionate and complex heroine, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel, working with her police Murder Investigation Team, tries to solve a series of crimes that take on a terrible twist. I've seen a lot of positive reviews about this book already.

Leigh Russell is a secondary school English teacher, specialising in supporting pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties. She is married with two daughters and lives in Hertfordshire, England. Leigh only started to write seriously for publication about three years ago and now has recently completed her third book in this crime fiction series, 'Dead End', which will be published next year. Leigh Russell is now currently working on her fourth book, the title of which is still a closely guarded secret!

. If you are interested in finding out more about Leigh Russell and her writing success, you should visit her blog, which can be found at:

Friday, 20 August 2010


Philippa Gregory's World!
I thought you might like this video when I saw it. Make sure you watch it all the way through!


Launch of New Message Board - 'Bestseller Bound'

Readers and indie authors, here is a real treat for you. A new message board, Bestseller Bound, is having its grand opening this week. Darcia Helle, author of several books including The Cutting Edge, Miami Snow and Enemies and Playmates, created this unique board with Stacy Juba as one of the resident authors and moderators along with Darcia and author Maria Savva.

The board is sort of like the literary equivalent of a reality show. Here, readers will get a behind the scenes glimpse into what it’s like to be a small press or independently published author. These authors will chat with readers about writing a book, how they do research and get their ideas, how they market their books, and the challenges they face. They’ll share articles, stories and poems, as well as special offers and discounts. For those of you who read ebooks, you’ll already notice some 99 cent coupons for a limited time.

Readers are invited to hang out and meet tomorrow’s breakout writers. Have you always wanted to hear an author speak at your local bookstore or library and never had time to attend? Were you too uncomfortable asking a question? This is the perfect setting to interact with authors, ask your questions, and discover new favorites. If you enjoy reviewing books on sites such as Amazon or Goodreads, you can even offer your willingness to consider books for review.

Small press and independently published authors, you’re welcome to join in on the discussion. You may also post a thread about your books in the Connection CafĂ©, post a book trailer link and various web site links, and browse our free Help Wanted section, where authors and book lovers can exchange guest blogging and review opportunities. We do ask that you participate in the general discussion now and then rather than just promoting your books so that readers will have the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of indie authors. Please tell your readers about the forum. If every author recommended the site to their readers, think how much the indie book movement could spread.

Readers, please share this link with your book clubs and friends:

What are you waiting for? Hop on over to Bestseller Bound and check it out!

Thursday, 19 August 2010


Upcoming Philippa Gregory Tour Appearances (UK)

Following the release of her new book 'The Red Queen', please find listed below the UK schedule of upcoming Philippa Gregory appearances which has just been released:

Aug 19th  2010

Christ Church
Town Square

7:30PM Philippa Gregory will be talking about her career and new book 'The Red Queen' for more information contact Waterstones Woking (Wolsey Branch) on 01483 726 938

Aug 20th 2010

Kettering Arts Centre St Andrews Church
Lindsay Street

7:30PM Philippa Gregory will be at the Kettering Arts Centre speaking about her career and new book 'The Red Queen'. For more information please contact Kettering Waterstone's on 01536 481 575

Aug 21st 2010

Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre & Country Par
Sutton Cheney, Nr. Market Bosworth

12:00AM Philippa Gregory will be at the Bosworth Festival on Saturday 21st August and Sunday 22nd August. Further information available at: or tickets at 01455 290429

Aug 23rd 2010

Drill Hall
Lower Church Street

7:30PM Philippa Gregory will be talking about her career and new book 'The Red Queen' at Drill Hall. More information available from The Chepstow Bookshop NP16 5EW or by ringing 01291 625 011

Aug 24th 2010

Brympton Devercy House
Petter's Way

7:00PM Philippa Gregory will be talking about her career and new book 'The Red Queen' at Brympton Devercy House. More information and tickets available at Waterstone's Yeovil and by calling: 01935 479 832

Sep 2nd 2010

113-119 Chaing Cross Road

6:30PM Philippa Gregory will be giving a talk and signing her new book 'The Red Queen' at Foyles 113-119 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0EB. Tickets: Free, email to reserve a place.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Book Review

"Movers and Shakers"


Lowboy by: John Wray
CanonGate. March 2009
ISBN: 978 184767 1516

Last year I managed to read the American edition of the book entitled Lowboy, and then had the great privilege of being able to take part in a book discussion event with the American author of Lowboy, John Wray. The copy of the book that I read had a different cover than the one illustrated above. Within the forum discussion with John Wray it was debated whether the basic graphical book cover being used at that time provided the potential book buyer with enough initial insight into what the story was actually about.

I see that Cannongate have now released an edition of this book with a new cover, which proves that reader's feedback can be at times, actually be taken into account by both authors and publishers! 

This was a very different type of book from my usual reads, but yet held me spellbound all the way through it from start to finish. Most of the many reviews that I have since read, in relation to this particular book have been very good. I have only seen one short review commenting negatively about Lowboy.

Will Heller, or Lowboy as he is otherwise know within the story, is the principle character, and New York Detective Ali Lateef has been assigned to the task of finding him.

  It is the slowly fragmenting character of Lowboy that sweeps you along when reading this particular book. Lowboy has escaped from a 'school'  establishment where he had been held for two years and believes that "the world's going to die in ten hours, by fire".  Lowboy is determined to do whatever he can to prevent this and believes that if he loses his virginity it will also be a way to stop global warming occuring. As you may have started to guess by now, Lowboy has a mental illness and as this story progresses, you can see Lowboy's thinking and behaviour slowly fragmenting, due to his lack of appropriate medication since leaving the 'school'.

A good part of this story is set in the New York Subway. John Wray creates  a realistic feel to this type of busy and bustling environment and also reveals other parts to this setting that are normally hidden from regular view.

This is in realty, a fast paced but sad story, about an individual who has been delt a much less fortunate life than many of ourselves. John Wrey has an amazing writing style, that has managed to capture in this story, some of the possible thoughts and behaviours of an individual, who is actually experiencing a psychotic illness, in all its fury. 

This book can have the effect of leaving an individual a bit unsettled after its reading, but if this does happen, then I think John Wray has done his job very well as an author. To write and have published, a fictional story in relation to a still slightly taboo subject within our society - mental illness, then this, in my mind is a great achievement by John Wray.

I urge all blog followers to read this book if you manage to get the chance!

This is a recommended 4 star read.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

New Book: The Red Queen

'The Red Queen' by Philippa Gregory

As most fans of Philippa Gregory will know, her new book 'The Red Queen' is due to be published in a matter of days now. Click on the screen below to listen to Philippa Gregory talk about Margaret Beaufort, who is the chief character within her new novel.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010


A great welcome to all! This is the beginning of an adventure in relation to the writings and ideas of Calum, otherwise known as 'The Secret Writer'. I do hope that over time, you will get to know me better, through my postings here. Anything and everything literary, including book reviews, discusions, authors and publishers, may appear here.

Followers are very welcome to join this blog, as I set out on the voyage of discovery and hopefully some adventure!

Have a good day!