Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Interview with Raji Lukkoor, Author of 'Inner Pilgrimage:Ten Days to a Mindful Me'

Raji spent her early years in the sleepy state of Goa, India. She now resides in California, USA. Both states define the western coastlines of their respective countries and have pristine, white-sand beaches, swaying palms, towering mountain ranges, spectacular vistas, world-class resorts, action-packed cities and charming towns, round-the-year sunshine, fabulous gastronomy, rich biodiversity, and only the world's finest people.

Raji attended Goa Engineering College, graduating with a degree in civil engineering in 1990. Thereafter, she joined the graduate program at San Jose State University, California, earning a master's degree in environmental engineering. Raji also has a certificate in Technical Writing and Communication from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Her passion for writing has led her for nearly twenty years now, to write for government and technology companies in Silicon Valley, where she lives, and provide volunteer writer services for non-profit organizations throughout the world.

Today it is my privilege and pleasure to welcome and introduce you all, to the author Raji Lukkoor. I would also like to say thank-you to Raji from us all, for taking some time out of her busy schedule to talk to us today.

Thank you. It’s my pleasure to talk to you.

For the benefit of our International readers can you tell us a bit about California and why you like living there?

 I had a dream one night about coming to America. That was when I was in the sixth grade. It just turned out, years later, that the man I married relocated to California! I currently live in Silicon Valley, which has been my home for over 21 years and home also to technology giants such as Apple, Google, Yahoo, eBay, Intel, HP, Cisco, Adobe, Oracle, and Facebook, among others.

My family’s favourite places and activities include cruising along Fisherman’s Wharf in picturesque San Francisco, walking under the sandstone archways in Stanford University’s enchanting campus, and driving on scenic State Route One on a clear day while soaking in breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

Some factual nuggets on California...
Bordering the blue waters of the Pacific, the state of California is the third largest of the US states with a population of approximately 37 million, i.e., every one in eight Americans lives in California. In addition to being the nation’s leader in population, California also boasts of having the following “mosts”:
·         Earthquakes (approx. 50 every day! Yikes!)
·         Millionaires (663,000 in 2010)
·         Inventions (20,000 new inventions per year)
·         Cars, surf gear, video games, milk, farm produce, wine
·         Nobel Prize winners (at least 219)
·         Judges (a total of 1,600 state-wide)
·         Colleges (10 public university or UC campuses, 23 CSU campuses, 110 community colleges)
·         Major professional sports league franchises (3 football, 5 baseball, 4 basketball, 3 ice hockey, and 3 soccer)

Allow me to share a few personal earthquake memories:
I had just arrived in the US. I was home alone one afternoon, watching the news on television when the screen jumped a few times and the news reader, obviously shaken from the jolt, composed herself and muttered, “I...think...that was an earthquake.” It was my introduction to earthquakes.

Another time, while pregnant with my second son, I arrived early for an offsite meeting and decided to wait in my car, which I parked in a lot right across from train tracks. As I sat there, listening to the radio, a loud roar—like that of an airplane—interrupted my listening. Next thing I knew, the steering trembled, my heart hammered in my ribcage, and my parked car slowly shuddered to the right. I leaned forward, hesitatingly, to see if there was a train coming. There was no train. It was an earthquake!

Recently, one evening, as my children and I entertained a house guest in our family room, the familiar roar of an airplane sounded. It was actually quite loud, as if the airplane were flying right above our heads. As the seismic wave rumbled and rolled across the room, the wood floor creaked, my throat went dry, the photo frames on the wall shifted, the furniture moved, the hairs on my spine stiffened, the dangling light bulbs swayed, and the patio doors shuddered. It all happened in a matter of seconds. We’ve lived here long enough to know what to do. We sprung to our feet and dashed to the street, our hearts quickening from the image of the glass doors shattering and exploding in our faces, as in a Hollywood disaster movie, which, much to our dismay, didn’t occur.

I live on shaky ground, for sure, but there’s no place else I’d rather be—Kaa lee four nee yeah!

You spent your early years in the State of Goa in India. Do you have any memories from there that you would be willing to share?

I like this question. Goa is my joy, my pride, my very essence of being. Goa is India’s smallest state, bordered on the west by the Arabian Sea and located approximately 400 km south of Mumbai. I have vivid memories of every school that I attended, every neighbourhood that I scampered through, every face that I befriended and, of course, the breathtaking and sometimes dramatic sights, smells, sounds, and the characteristic warmth that is Goa. Who can forget the stunning Dona Paula wharf or the magic of the roaring waves that slap its shore? Or the gushing, milky roar at Harvalem Waterfall, enhanced by the monsoon rains, to the lush greenery that defines the countryside. The old Portuguese-era churches, temples that incorporate traditional Hindu, Islamic, and Portuguese architecture, unending stretches of beach, forts, wildlife sanctuaries, resorts, swaying coconut palms, and the resplendent rice paddy blossoms round out the tourist attractions.

I have visited Goa only a few times since I moved to California, and this past July, I had the opportunity to visit again. Here’s a recent photo of one of my favourite Goa hangouts.

Raji Lukkoor in Dona Paula, Goa, July 2011

Can I ask you what sort of books did you enjoy reading during your childhood?

The typical children’s books of a bygone era—Enid Blyton (The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, and my personal favourite—Malory Towers), Agatha Christie, Franklin W. Dixon (The Hardy Boys), the Nancy Drew mystery series. In school, I studied the works of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Louisa May Scott, Emily Bronte, Mark Twain, Lewis Caroll, Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens, Daniel Dafoe, H. G. Wells, P. G. Wodehouse, Oscar Wilde, Robert Arthur, Robert Louis Stevenson, W. Somerset Maugham, Rabindranath Tagore, George Bernard Shaw, John Keats, W. B. Yeats, Elizabeth and Robert Browning, Miguel De Cervantes, and William Wordsworth.

Some memorable books and characters: Alice’s escapades in Lewis Caroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland; Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy’s unlikely romance in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; Tom, Huck, and Joe Harper’s piratic pursuits in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

As I transitioned into adolescence, my reading repertoire expanded to include Mills and Boon, James Hadley Chase, Barbara Cartland, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Sidney Sheldon.

Do you think the books that you read during your early years influenced your current writing in any way?

Although difficult to measure, I’m sure that my early years’ reading injected an element of influence into my current writing. However, the turning point for me, and what I believe sparked my love for the English language, was my seventh grade English teacher, Mrs. Sukhtanker. She was intense and had a sense of purpose—she connected well with students. She was always well-prepared and delivered her lessons spot-on. I remember some of her lessons vividly to this day. Mrs. Sukhtankar’s lectures helped me develop a solid foundation in English grammar and mechanics, and further instilled in me a sense of wonder and curiosity of the universe.

Did you always want to become a writer?

I have loved to write since the 7th grade, and I wrote extensively in my job as an engineer. It was only after I “retired” as an engineer to raise my two young boys that I decided to focus solely on writing. I took up a part-time gig as a technical writer, but was overwhelmed by its limitations. So I began to explore volunteer writing opportunities on the Internet to hone my creative side. Then, in 2003, an essay I penned for the United Nations not only brought me accolades, but it also elevated my rafters of consciousness, stirring my senses and opening up my heart and mind. It was the beginning of a dream—the dream of becoming a published author.

Where do you do your writing best?

In the shower and at the gym! No, wait! That’s where I do my thinking best. I generally do my best writing on a laptop, in a tranquil environment.

Can you tell us a bit about your book "Inner Pilgrimage: Ten Days to a Mindful Me”?

Humans are seekers—of wealth, fame, approval, acceptance, and, through it all, of peace and contentment. We falsely believe that taking refuge in material pursuits, fanatic ideas, cigarettes, sex, alcohol, drugs, food, medication, emotions, the internet, even work or exercise, will bring us peace. The idea that happiness and satisfaction lie with the next job, at the mall, or in the neighbour’s house is a fallacy. Dysfunction, addictions, and impulsive behaviours are on an upward trend as a result, but peace remains eclipsed.

Silence or meditation is a tool that can help an individual transcend external chaos and confusion, surrender to their inner calling, and birth their true self. Happiness and satisfaction lie in the present moment—the here and now—the ultimate motivator for living a balanced life. This is the premise of my book, described using my personal journey of self-discovery that is based on a ten-day silent (vipassana) meditation retreat that I attended.

Post vipassana, my authentic self began to unfold like an origami design. Vipassana, the blueprint of a new life, is helping me live a life filled with mindfulness and presence and a life that is in sync with my heartfelt longings, without the fear of failure or of being judged.

Was it difficult bringing your book to the stage of publication?

YES! But the main ingredients of patience, persistence, and planning, enhanced with generous sprinkles of positive thinking, my manuscript eventually found a home.

Do you have a set routine when you are writing?

No, not really, unless there’s a deadline looming, I suppose. I write when I’m inspired. When I write, I sometimes fall into a stupor of sorts—I can go on for hours without a break, which drives the family up the wall!

What is your favourite book and why?

I have so many favourite books in so many genres. Where do I begin? Today, I’ll go with Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl. Thirteen year-old Anne Frank was an extraordinarily good writer for her age and she wrote with a deep sense of awareness and honesty. Anne Frank’s demonstration of courage, pragmatism, and wisdom—as she and her family concealed themselves from the Nazis in the secret room of an office building in Amsterdam, from 1942 to 1944—has taught me much. It has taught me to appreciate life’s preciousness and temporality, to focus on my strengths during times of distress, and to remain motivated despite life’s challenges.

In summer 2010, my family and I had the privilege of visiting Terezin—a Nazi concentration camp located about 60 km north of Prague where nearly 98,000 Jews, including as many as 15,000 children, were either executed or died owing to hunger and disease. It was a poignant visit, to say the least, and gave me a sense of the horrors that Anne Frank and others like her might have endured during their captivity.

Have you any another books in the making at the moment?

Yes, I’m working on a children’s series. With a background in environmental engineering, I feel compelled to educate youngsters about their responsibility when it concerns the environment. But I don’t want this to be yet another book/series on the environment. Not unlike Inner Pilgrimage, I’m structuring the environmental series to inspire young minds, so that they can motivate themselves to take action.

To bring our interview to a close can I ask you what one simple thing in life can make you smile?
My children  :-)

Raji, I would like to thank-you again for taking the time to visit and speak to us today.  I wish you every success with your writing career!   

Purchase in India:
Purchase in the US:
Purchase in the UK:

The Winner of an e-book Copy of Grace Elliot's 'Eulogy's Secret'

I would like to say a great big thank-you to everyone who joined my blog as a new follower or were already a follower and entered this draw. Some great comments were posted!

As usual  I wish that I could send everyone who entered this draw a book, but within the rules, there was to be only one lucky winner! For those of you who have not won this time, there are plenty more giveaway draws to come. Please keep visiting this blog and entering the giveaways. You never know your luck, you could be one of our next winners!

I visited earlier today and the winner of this particular draw was, drum roll!!!


Debbie, I will forward your details to Grace so she can send you your prize.Thanks again to everyone who entered this draw and who follow my blog and thanks also to Grace, for providing this great prize with her post. Happy reading!

'Hawk Quest' by Robert Lyndon

Release date:  5th January 2012
Published by: Sphere 
ISBN No:  978 1847444974

In this sweeping epic set in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest, a rogue French knight named Vallon accepts a dangerous commission: he must travel to the ends of Europe in search of four rare gyrfalcons demanded as ransom for a Norman knight held captive by Seljuk Turks in Anatolia. Accompanied by a young English falconer and a Sicilian scholar, Vallon sets out on a quest that takes him from Iceland to Greenland to Russia and south to Byzantium. On the nine-month journey the company is joined by other adventurers. Together they brave raging seas, icy arctic wastes, treacherous rapids. They fight furious battles against Normans, Vikings and steppe nomads, pit their wits against warlords desperate to steal their precious cargo. And these are not the only perils they face, for among their company is a man who will stop at nothing to prevent them from fulfilling their quest.

Copyright: Goldsboro Books Synopsis

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

'Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm' By Stella Gibbons

Release date: 10th November 2011
Published by: Vintage
ISBN No: 978 0099565697

This is a glorious collection of stories from the author of "Cold Comfort Farm". The title story tells of a typical Christmas at the farm before the coming of Flora Poste. It is a parody of the worst sort of family Christmas: Adam Lambsbreath dresses up as Father Christmas in two of Judith's red shawls. There are unsuitable presents, unpleasant insertions into the pudding and some good Starkadder table talk over. Aunt Ada Doom orders Amos to carve the turkey, adding: "Ay, would it were a vulture, 'twere more fitting!"

Copyright: Waterstones Synopsis

'The cat who came home for Christmas' by Cleveland Amory

Release date: 27th October 2011
Published by: Corgi
ISBN No: 978 0552164108

Cleveland Amory first met the bedraggled Polar Bear in a New York alley one snowy Christmas Eve. From the moment Cleveland rescued the starving and injured cat a special bond began to form between the damaged animal and the bachelor journalist who preferred dogs. This is the story of their first year together, the story of a stray cat with a mind of his own, and the curmudgeonly man who grew to love him. If you have ever owned a cat, or been owned by one, you will recognize the delight in the journey that followed this Christmas Eve encounter. From Polar Bear's fitness programme to their trip to Hollywood and the funny and touching conversations Cleveland and his stubborn little friend share, this is a heart-warming tale of feline and human nature that any animal lover can enjoy all year round.

Copyright: Waterstones Synopsis

Monday, 28 November 2011

'The Lewis Man' by Peter May

Release date: 5th January 2012
Published by: Quercus Publishing Plc
ISBN No: 978 0857382207

A perfectly preserved body is recovered from a peat bog on the Isle of Lewis. The male Caucasian corpse - marked by several horrific stab wounds - is initially believed by its finders to be over two-thousand years old. Until they spot the Elvis tattoo on his right arm. The body, it transpires, is not evidence of an ancient ritual killing, but of a murder committed during the latter half of the twentieth century. Meanwhile, Fin Macleod has returned to the island of his birth. Having left his wife, his life in Edinburgh and his career in the police force, the former Detective Inspector is intent on repairing past relationships and restoring his parents' derelict croft. But when DNA tests flag a familial match between the bog body and the father of Fin's childhood sweetheart, Marsaili Macdonald, Fin finds his homecoming more turbulent than expected. Tormod Macdonald, now an elderly man in the grip of dementia, had always claimed to be an only child without close family. A lie, Fin will soon discover, Tormod has had very good reason to hide behind.

The Lewis Man is the follow-up to The Blackhouse, which was an international bestseller in both hardback and paperback. It is the second novel in the Lewis trilogy.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

'The Apothecary's Daughter' by Charlotte Betts

Release date: 2nd February 2012
Published by: Piatkus
ISBN No: 978 0749954499

Susannah Leyton has grown up behind the counter of her father's apothecary shop, surrounded by the resinous scents of lavender, rosemary, liquorice and turpentine. More learned than any apprentice, she concocts soothing medicines and ointments with great skill. Content with her life, Susannah is shocked when her widowed father announces his intentions to marry again, and later becomes caught in a battle of wills with her new step-mother. When she receives a proposal of marriage from handsome and charming merchant Henry Savage, she believes her prayers have been answered and resolves to be a good wife to him. But Henry is a complex and troubled man, haunted by his memories of growing up in Barbados. As the plague sweeps through the city, tragedy strikes, and the secrets of Henry's past begin to unfold ...

Saturday, 26 November 2011

'The Courtesan's Lover' by Gabrielle Kimm

Release date: 24th November 2011
Published by: Sphere
ISBN No: 978 0751544558

Francesca Felizzi, former mistress of the Duke of Ferrara, is now an aspiring courtesan. Astonishingly beautiful and ambitious, she revels in the power she wields over men. But when she is visited by an inexperienced young man, it becomes horribly clear to Francesca that despite her many admiring patrons, she has never truly been loved. Suddenly, her glittering and sumptuous life becomes a gaudy facade. And then another unexpected encounter brings with it devastating implications that plunge Francesca and her two young daughters into the sort of danger she has dreaded ever since she began to work the streets all those years ago.

Copyright: Waterstones Synopsis

Friday, 25 November 2011

'Jenny's War' by Margaret Dickinson

Release date: 16th February 2012
Published by: Pan
ISBN No:  978 0330544306

Is it possible for a ten-year-old girl to fall in love? Jenny Mercer thought so. Evacuated to Lincolnshire from the East End of London at the outbreak of war, she is frightened of the wide open spaces and the huge skies. At first, she is treated badly by the two spinsters with whom she is billeted. But the kindly Thornton family soon makes her feel welcome. And no one more so than Georgie, the handsome RAF fighter pilot, who is caught up in the battle for Britain’s survival. When Georgie is posted missing, presumed killed, Jenny is devastated and there is more heartbreak when her mother demands that she return home to the dangerous city streets now under almost daily attack from enemy bombers.

Dot never hides the fact that her daughter’s birth was a mistake and kindness and care towards Jenny comes, not from her mother, but from their neighbours across the street, the Hutton family. The only other person to show concern for Jenny is, strangely, Dot’s ‘fancy man’, Arthur Osborne, who moves into the terraced house. But is Arthur only interested in the girl because she can be useful to him? No one will suspect a ten-year-old of being involved with the Black Market.

When the law comes a little too close for Arthur’s comfort, the family flees in the night under the protection of the blackout, heading north out of the city. But to Jenny’s disappointment, it is not back to Lincolnshire but into the hills and dales of Derbyshire where they are always on the move, always on the run. There, Jenny is caught up in a life of deception, obliged to do whatever her mother and Arthur demand of her, when all she really wants is to go back to Lincolnshire. For Jenny has never given up hope that one day, Georgie will come back…

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Sara Raven's 'Wild Flowers'

Release date: 17th October 2011
Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC 
ISBN No: 978 1408813942

Inspired by childhood excursions with her botanist father, Sarah Raven has travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles to find 500 of our most breathtakingly beautiful wild flowers. This lavishly illustrated book is divided by habitat, covering woods, downs and dales, lanes and hedgerows, meadows, coast, marshes and streams, moors and mountains, and wasteland. Sarah introduces a wide range of plants, telling you their names and something about them - how to identify the families, how they're brilliantly adapted to their environment, their importance to animals and insects, what herbal remedies they can be used for, the story behind their common names and the part they play in local history. Join Sarah on trips to see pulsatillas, fritillaries, bluebells, wild garlic, harebells, forget-me-nots, foxgloves, wood spurge, silverweed, purple cranesbill, deadly nightshade, St John's wort, comfrey, orchids, wood sorrel, snowdrops and more. There are glorious landscape photographs by Jonathan Buckley throughout, and one of his stunning plant portraits accompanies each of Sarah's authoritative, captivating species descriptions. Informative and lovely, Sarah Raven's Wild Flowers is a botanical marvel.

Copyright: Amazon synopsis

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

'Book Evangelism' by Guest Author Grace Elliott and e-book giveaway!

Recently, I discovered a book that I can’t stop talking about.
I tell everyone who will listen, and a few who don’t want to. I told my boss, the senior partner, the nurses, my teenage sons, people at church, strangers at a dinner party and pretty much anyone who would stand still long enough to say hello to.

So what is this amazing book? (Read on to find out!)
I hadn’t expected to like this book. I only bought a copy because everyone on line was chatting about it and then found it on special offer for Kindle and downloaded it. It was August, I was on holiday and in a chilled out mood and so fancied a change from my usual genre. I started reading one evening…and stayed up way too late because I simply had to know what happened next and couldn’t put it down.

Ok, so I’ll wont drag the suspense out any longer - the book in question is 'The Hunger Games' by Suzanne Collins. It’s a YA book, but with very adult themes such as the nature of government and where does entertainment finish and cruelty begin, you could be mistaken for not realising. But the thing that had me hooked was the characters and how the human spirit triumphed over terrible odds…and I love it.

It must be twenty years since I last read a book that made me feel so evangelical in my enthusiasm for it, and that was “The Autobiography of Henry VIII” by Margaret George. This fascinating book opened up a new world for me that previously, thanks to the O level history course, I had thought dull and stuffy.  It was through reading Ms George’s work, and learning truth is sometimes stranger than fiction, that I discovered a latent passion for history. It was this love that eventually led me to start writing historical romance. I love the escapism of history and romance of the past and I hope this is reflected in my books. Whilst I’m a very long way from being a Suzanne Collins or Margaret George, I hope my books provide a page-turning escape from the pressures of real life.

What was the last book you read that you couldn’t stop telling people about?

Leave a comment for a chance to win an e- Book copy of “Eulogy’s Secret.” We have one copy to be won here at The Secret Writer. You do have to be a GFC follower of this site in order to be able to leave a comment here. This e-book draw will close at 23.59 hrs on Tuesday 29th November 2011. Good luck everyone!

To whet your appetite for the prize, in this excerpt we join Jack Huntley as he tries to overcome his obsession for Eulogy Foster:

But before he left, there was one last thing he must do and the ache in his chest intensified. After taking a deep breath Huntley turned to face the portrait, leaning against the tallboy. Even though he had prepared himself, it still robbed him of breath, his dark eyes grew darker and a small vein pulsed at his temple. He could stare at the painting for hours, trying to armor his emotions, but each time it was the same eyes that pierced his soul, and with no more weapon than a stare, made him her prisoner.

He, or rather Chaucer, had come across the picture by chance. A few weeks earlier, to his amazement, rumors circulated in artistic circles that Tristan Farrell was painting again. Out of idle curiosity Huntley had dispatched his man to Red Lyon Square to investigate, only to have Chaucer return bright eyed and burbling on about a stunning portrait of a brown-eyed woman. It amused Huntley to instruct Chaucer to buy the painting, for an anonymous client of course, as an investment in the resurgence of a once great talent. But the moment Huntley saw the piece he knew he could not bear to part with it.

So here he stood, like a priest before an altar. Goosebumps raised on his arms as he gazed at the pale-skinned beauty with softly parted lips and enormous brown eyes, warm and alluring, staring out of the canvas as if taken by surprise. The swirling background of chocolate browns served to heighten the woman’s natural beauty. The piece was unfinished and yet utter perfection. Only an artist of great foresight would stop when he had, capturing the moment when a great artist discovers his muse. Huntley’s instincts had been correct. The model was Eulogy Foster, and the painting as divine as the woman it depicted.

Of course Chaucer was right; it made sound business sense to sign Farrell up to The Gallery before news of his work reached the ton. If the gallery manager was perplexed by the owner’s sudden indecision, he knew better than to mention it. As if it was fate intervening, there soon appeared a hastily scribbled note from Farrell, offering The Gallery first refusal of his future work. Huntley laughed aloud as he read. Even when fighting infatuation, he wasn’t such a fool as to decline an opportunity to make money. 

Eulogy’s Secret - a story of greed prejudice and a stolen identity.

In the four weeks since her guardians’ death, Eulogy Foster has lost everything. Penniless and alone she seeks the help of her estranged brother, Lord Lucien Devlin. But Devlin throws Eulogy onto the streets and the mercy of a passing stranger, Jack Huntley. As Eulogy seeks the truth behind her birth, she is drawn into the world of art and artists, where her morals are challenged and all is deception.
Jack Huntley: bitter, cynical and betrayed in love. He believes women are devious, scheming, untrustworthy creatures - and when he rescues a na├»ve Miss from being raped, his life is about to change forever. As his attraction to Eulogy grows, caught in a deadlock with both denying their true feelings, events take a sinister turn as someone seeks to silence Eulogy….forever.



Amazon US

Amazon UK.

'Fortune's Son' Book Draw Winner!

I would like to say a great big thank-you to everyone who joined my blog as a new follower or were already a follower and entered this draw. Some great comments were posted!

As usual  I wish that I could send everyone who entered this draw a book, but within the rules, there was to be only one lucky winner! For those of you who have not won this time, there are plenty more giveaway draws to come. Please keep visiting this blog and entering the giveaways. You never know your luck, you could be one of our next winners!

I visited earlier today and the winner of this particular draw was, drum roll!!!


I will contact the winner for their mailing details. If I have not been able to make contact with the winner within 48 hours of this post, another winner will then be drawn. Thanks again to everyone who entered this draw and who follow my blog and thanks also to Emery, for providing this great prize with her post. Happy reading!

Monday, 21 November 2011

'The White Pearl' by Kate Furnivall

Release date: 16th February 2012
Published by: Sphere
ISBN No: 978 0751543360

Malaya, 1941. As the glamorous wife of a plantation owner, Connie Hadley's life appears pampered and comfortable. But she is hiding devastating secrets that could destroy her marriage. Life is changed for ever on the day of the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor. As Japanese Zero aircraft attack the town of Palur, Connie takes the decision to flee to Singapore on the family's boat, The White Pearl. She sails with her husband and son, three friends and the enigmatic boat dealer Fitzpayne, who is the only one who can navigate the islands of the South China Sea. In desperation, short of food and constantly in danger, fear strips away good manners; tensions arise on the yacht and anger causes deadly divisions between friends . . .

'Stolen Away' by Alyxandra Harvey

Release date: 5th January 2012
Published by: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN No: 978 1408811320

For seventeen years, Eloise Hart had no idea the world of Faery even existed. Now she has been abducted and trapped in the Rath of Lord Strahan, King of Faery. Strahan was only meant to rule for seven years, as Faery tradition dictates, and then give up his crown to another. But he won't comply, and now chaos threatens both worlds. The only one who can break his stranglehold on the Faery court is his wife, Eloise's aunt, Antonia. Using Eloise to lure Antonia, Strahan captures his wife, desperate to end the only threat to his reign. Together with her best friends Jo and Devin, Eloise must place her trust in Lucas, her handsome protector, and Strahan's mysterious son, Eldric, and forge alliances with other Fae in a dangerous attempt to free Antonia for ever.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

'The Gypsy Girl' by Val Wood

Release date: 8th December 2011
Published by: Corgi
ISBN No:  978 0552166409

When Polly Anna's mother died when she was just three years old, it seemed the workhouse was the only place for her to go. But with the help of Jonty - a young misfit who soon became her best friend - she managed to escape, running away with the fairground folk. She became a horserider and acrobat, travelling all around the country. Her friends became the circus people, and her home the caravans and travellers' tents.
Meanwhile, in a great house in Yorkshire, old Mrs Winthrop has never given up hope of finding her daughter Madeleine, who eloped with a handsome gypsy and was never seen again. When her young neighbour sets out to find Madeleine, he discovers the colourful world of the fairs. And there, in the midst of it all, Polly Anna - once the waif from the workhouse, now a fully-fledged gypsy girl.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Time Riders: Gates of Rome (Book 5)' by Alex Scarrow

Release date: 2nd February 2012
Published by: Puffin
ISBN No: 978 0141336497

Liam O'Connor should have died at sea in 1912.
Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010.
Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026.
But all three have been given a second chance - to work for an agency that no one knows exists.
Its purpose: to prevent time travel destroying history . . .

Project Exodus - a mission to transport 300 Americans from 2070 to 54AD to overthrow the Roman Empire - has gone catastrophically wrong. Half have arrived seventeen years earlier, during the reign of Caligula.

Liam goes to investigate, but when Maddy and Sal attempt to flee a kill-squad sent to hunt down their field office, all of the TimeRiders become trapped in the Roman past.

Armed with knowledge of the future, Caligula is now more powerful than ever. But with the office unmanned - and under threat - how will the TimeRiders make it back to 2001 and put history right?

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

'Crossed' by Ally Condie

Release date: 24th November 2011
Published by: Puffin
ISBN No: 978 0141333069

Rules are different outside the Society.

Chasing down an uncertain future, Cassia makes her way to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky-taken by the Society to his certain death-only to find that he has escaped into the majestic, but treacherous, canyons. On this wild frontier are glimmers of a different life and the enthralling promise of rebellion. But even as Cassia sacrifices everything to reunite with Ky, ingenious surprises from Xander may change the game once again.

Narrated from both Cassia's and Ky's points of view, this hotly anticipated sequel to Matched will take them both to the edge of Society, where nothing is as expected and crosses and double crosses make their path more twisted than ever...

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Saturday, 19 November 2011

'The Babylon Rite' by Tom Knox

Release date: 16th February 2012
Published by: Harper
ISBN No: 978 0 00 734402 4 

High-concept thriller which weaves together past and present terrors in an intense page-turner.

If you dig up hell, you uncover evil…

Edinburgh:a famous Templar historian dies mysteriously at the Rosslyn chapel, setting journalist Adam Blackwood on a quest for the truth to the Templar sites of Europe. Meanwhile, in London, several young people from the international party set commit suicide in very bizarre circumstances.

Peru: Ten thousand miles away, anthropologist Jess Silverton is digging up the world’s most terrifying ancient civilization: the Moche, a people mired in blood ritual and human sacrifice. But it seems that their ancient practices may not be entirely buried and forgotten…

The Amazon: Adam and Jess will both be thrown into mortal danger as it emerges that the suicides, the Templars and the sinister rituals of the Moche are all linked by a chilling secret – the secret that, quite literally, kills.

'My Former Heart' by Cressida Connolly

Release date: 1st March 2012
Published by: Fourth Estate
ISBN No: 978 0 00 735635 5 

A beautifully written novel, which tells a story of love and loss through three generations of a family.

When she grew up, Ruth would say that she could place the day that her mother had decided to go away. She didn’t know the actual date, but she recalled the occasion: it was on the afternoon of a wet day, early in 1942, during a visit to the cinema. She thought she could even pinpoint the exact moment at which Iris had made up her mind to go, leaving her only child behind. Neither of them could have guessed then that they would never live together again.

Spanning the second half of the last century, “My Former Heart”, Cressida Connolly’s mesmerising first novel, charts the lives of three generations of Iris’s family, the mother who walked away from her child. Ruth will be deserted again, many years later, by a husband she loves, but not before she has had two children by him. She leaves London to live with her uncle, where she creates a new life for herself with another woman. And we follow the lives of her two children, trying to make a place for themselves in the world in the shadow of the family that precedes them.

With its large cast of fascinating characters, this is an outstanding novel about families and their ability to adapt. It surely marks the beginning of long career as a novelist for Cressida Connolly.

Friday, 18 November 2011

'Pantheon' by Sam Bourne

Release date: 16th February 2012
Published by: Harper Collins
ISBN No: 978 0 00 741363 8 

The new WW2 blockbuster thriller from the number one bestselling author.

Oxford, 1940. James Zennor, a brilliant young don, is rowing alone on a bright July morning – cursing himself for the wound that has branded him unfit for duty in the war against Hitler.

He returns home to discover his wife Florence has vanished, along with their young son – no doubt in despair at his dark moods and shattered body. And yet the note she leaves behind declares that she still loves him…

A frantic search through wartime England eventually leads James across the Atlantic – to a United States not yet at war. His destination: Yale College, one of America’s greatest universities.

Against the backdrop of an intensifying debate over whether the US should join Europe in the struggle against the Nazis, James’s desperate search for his wife and child leads him on a twisting path through Yale’s elite clubs and secret societies and into the heart of the American establishment.

There he will stumble upon the existence of an astonishing and terrifying plot: one that could swing the balance of power in a volatile world. Now, a man deemed too damaged to fight in the war must save not only his family, but his country too…