Monday, 30 October 2017




Friday, 27 October 2017

New Release: PS by Caraway Carter

Title: PS
Author: Caraway Carter
Language: English
Published: 26th October, 2017
Length: 39,500 words (142 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback: 978 1 78645 166 8
eBook: 978 1 78645 167 5
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Adult, Literary, Pure Romance - M/M

Looking back, it was kind of crazy to put a down payment on a fallen-down train depot I'd never actually seen, in a state I'd never actually been to, and use it to build a life with a guy I'd never actually met, but love makes people do crazy things. If you've ever been in love, you know what I mean.

But before the plane had landed, I found out that Sam - the guy I'd met online and had been talking to for four years - wasn't really Sam. He wasn't even a guy.

I already own the little train depot, and I can't go back to my old life. And Fairville is such a lovely welcoming town. Did I mention James? He's made sure that I've had a really warm welcome.

All I want is to build a great little bookstore, and have a relationship based on humor, honesty, and hardbacks. I see some tough choices ahead of me.

Or maybe I don't have to choose...

Editor's Review:
The first ever romance book I read was about a young woman (aged 16) who exaggerated her age to her cowboy pen pal so she seemed older and more sophisticated than she was. I was about 14 when I read it, and I don't recall much beyond her best friend giving her a makeover so she looked older in the photo she sent him. He sent a photo back, and what a dashingly handsome, rugged young man he...wasn't!

Of course, this was fiction and written in the 1980s, but only a couple of weeks ago, I read a true story of a woman who 'dated' a man online for two years before he admitted he'd lied to her all along and he wasn't the handsome young thing he'd claimed to be.

It's easy to assume we wouldn't fall for this kind of scam, and in many instances there's no real harm done. Yet I know, personally, people who've formed enduring emotional attachments to someone online - even paid money to them to help with medical expenses, cried along with them about loss of friends in terribly tragic circumstances - all of it complete and utter fabrication.

Thus, when it came to Caraway Carter's most recent novella, PS, I didn't have to suspend belief as Gus - our intrepid MC - tells us how he's bought a train depot in Vermont, where he thinks he's setting up home with this guy Sam, whom he met and dated online for four years, only for poor Gus to find he's been catphished. Gus is a gullible, na├»ve, sweet guy, and not necessarily because he fell for Sam's BS. He is one of those genuinely lovely people, and while he's a grown man with a fairly decent business head on his shoulders, he's still the sort of person I want to take under my wing, if only to make sure someone like Sam doesn't come along and do it to him all over again.

For those reasons, Fairville, Vermont - which is a bit like a cross between Stepford and Whoville - and its incredibly altruistic and quirky townsfolk is pretty much the perfect place for Gus to end up. I must admit, I did have some trouble giving the locals the benefit of the doubt - Kelly in particular. For as much as I want to believe in the goodness of humankind, some people just aren't nice, and I expected Fairville to have its fair share of those types. That's my cynicism, though, not a fault with the story.

So, there's Gus, the new guy in the community, and a dilapidated train depot, and there's James, who is...magnificent, if not a little confusing at times. I think it's intentional, for the most part; I don't want to give too much of his back story away, but there are plenty of reasons for him to be the way he is. He and Gus are very natural together, and their relationship, which escalates quite quickly time-wise, still manages to feel slow and steady.

Lastly, I must come back to the fine folk of Fairville. I loved being along for the journey with Gus as he gets to know a bit about everyone, and the characterisation throughout the story is flawless, if maybe a little biased by being from Gus's perspective - my judgements didn't always match up to his. When I make my American road trip, I'll be pining for Fairville, imagining spending a night or two at the DDI and visiting the train depot for a coffee and a book...

I'll settle for a sequel.

About the Author:
Caraway Carter has worn numerous hats. He's been a furniture salesman, a dresser, a costumer, an actor/waiter, a rabble rouser, a poet, and most recently a writer. He loves words and stringing them together, he loves sex and sexy men, and he writes relationship fiction that reminds you - it's never too late for love. And he has lived his tagline! He married his husband on Halloween, at the age of forty-nine, and they are the loving parents of an adorable cat named Molly.

Website: Caraway Seeds

Thursday, 26 October 2017

New Release: Disease by Hans M Hirschi

Title: Disease
Author: Hans M Hirschi
Language: English
Published: 26th October, 2017
Length: 59,000 words (224 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-161-3
eBook: 978-1-78645-162-0
ASIN: B074G3XH93
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Contemporary Fiction

When journalist Hunter MacIntyre is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, he realizes that his life is about to change, not to mention that he's been handed a certain death sentence.

Alzheimer's is a disease affecting the patient's loved ones as much, if not more, than the patient themselves. In Hunter's case, that's his partner Ethan and their five-year-old daughter Amy. How will they react to, and deal with, Hunter's changing behavior, his memory lapses, and the consequences for their everyday lives?

Disease is a story of Alzheimer's, seen through the eyes of one affected family.

Editor's Review:
This is my editor's review of Disease - a novel by Hans M Hirschi, released today: 26th October, 2017. I'm stating that now, in case what follows doesn't read as a review. Indeed, it is a personal account - my qualifications, if you will - for recommending this novel to everyone, including those involved in the care and support of people with terminal prognoses and their families. What we say and do are often not what we think and feel behind the facade of survival. Note: this novel may cut too close to the bone for patients and families themselves, although perhaps there is some solace to be had from shared experience.

Disease is a truly brilliant novel, and an important one.

I doubt I'm the only person who frets from time to time (more often as I get older) about receiving a terminal prognosis. There are so many potential candidates, and some have already come dangerously close to my life and the lives of those I hold dear. I've lost friends and family; I've waited for the all-clear.

Even without those personal experiences, it's safe to say campaigns to raise awareness of cancer, dementia, heart disease, the danger of strokes etc. have been effective in giving these conditions a higher profile. Sometimes they feed our fear by shoving our mortality in our faces, but mostly they offer hope, in the form of advice on reducing risk, or telling us about the clever people engaged in the search for cures, or of those gifted with the emotional strength to do so who offer compassionate, dignified end-of-life care.

Crucial as all of that is, unless you've been close to it, it's distant and impersonal.

There was a conversation at some point last year, after Nige received his cancer diagnosis. It's vague, only half committed to memory. I don't recall the when or the how, but I do remember him snapping at me, "I'm the one who's got cancer." Whatever I'd said was about my struggle to cope, which was the truth. Who do you turn to for support when the one person who supports you, always and unconditionally, is incapable of doing so? Sure, there are support networks - formal and informal - but that is not who you want, and the petulant child inside stamps its feet and shrieks at the injustice.

I recall seeing an image (no idea where - I read a lot) of concentric circles, with the patient at the centre, immediate family in the next circle, extended family and friends in the next, and so on, with each circle representing greater emotional distance from the patient. The rule is, wherever you fall in the circle, you can only seek the support from those further out than you are.

Needless to say, I didn't mention my own woes to Nige again until after the surgeon gave him the all-clear. Never mind that it was the second time he'd put me through the wringer (his recollection of the first - a dissecting aortic aneurysm - is scant, to say the least). I realise this reads as if I'm blaming him...because I am. Or I do sometimes. I know, on a rational level, it's beyond his control, but rationality comes a poor second to the fear, grief and pain of losing - or believing you are going to lose - someone you love.

It's about the loss of trust as much as anything; you trusted them to love you and not hurt you, to be there at your side, offering strength and support, and the time when you both need it the most, neither of you is capable of offering it. There's a whole lot of acting goes on, and it's Oscar-worthy, but you know each other far too well to fall for it.
He was so upset. He tried to cover it up for me, tried hard not to let me feel just how devastated he is by this latest development. Because it is, in a way, a step toward the end of our relationship, the end of our marriage, our family, a step toward death.
~ Hans M Hirschi: Disease
It is for books like Disease that I do what I do: for the stories that must be told; the voices that need to be heard. True, Disease is a work of fiction, but it is realist fiction grounded in lived experience - a beautiful story with a hopeful ending and an insight for professionals engaged in palliative care and those in the outermost circles.

I'll leave you with Hans' own words:
Hunter’s journey is based on my own experiences with loved ones and reading books about Alzheimer’s. I always felt there was something missing from those tales: the voice of the affected. While fiction, I hope to have given those who are affected by the disease the most, a voice.

About the Author:
Photo: John O’Leary
Hans M Hirschi has been writing stories since childhood. As an adult, the demands of corporate life put an end to his fiction for more than twenty years. A global executive in training, he has traveled the world and published several non-fiction titles as well as four well-received novels. The birth of his son provided him with the opportunity to rekindle his love of creative writing, where he expresses his deep passion for a better world through love and tolerance. Hans lives with his husband and son on a small island off the west coast of Sweden.


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Recent Release: Finding Amelia by Graham West

Title: Finding Amelia
Author: Graham West
Language: English
Published: 3rd September, 2017
Length: Length: 111,790 words (406 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-098-2
eBook: 978-1-78645-099-9
ASIN: B074W12R7S
Category: Fiction
Genre: Paranormal

Following the horrific death of his wife and child, Robert Adams struggles to rebuild a life with his seventeen-year-old daughter, Jenny. Their relationship is tested further when she expresses a desire to contact her mother through a spiritualist and he watches helplessly as they slowly drift apart.

But everything changes when Jenny begins to dream - dreams which take her into another world - a world inhabited by a young girl, imprisoned in a dark attic. A girl Jenny believes is an ancestor whose spirit is reaching out across the generations.

But who is she? What does she want? As Jenny's behaviour becomes increasingly dangerous and unpredictable, Robert finds himself confiding in Sebastian Tint - an old professor who claims to possess a sixth sense. Together, they employ retired genealogist Jack Staple to trace the family tree - but it is a journey that takes Robert down a road of discovery that threatens to tear their world apart.


Publisher's Review:
Finding Amelia is a compelling read, from start to finish. It is narrated by Robert Adams - the main character - in first person, and he is a seriously flawed narrator. There were times when I wondered if his indiscretions might do more than merely catch up with him, but there's something about him that keeps him redeemable in the reader's eyes.

The story unfolds following the death of Rob's wife and youngest child, and it's a trip to hell for both Rob and Jenny - his seventeen-year-old daughter. Rob's grief is tangible; he has some great support around him, yet he is alone and lonely, as is the way of grieving, the author's portrayal of which is gritty and real.

The supernatural mystery is 'fun' to follow - inverted commas because the events surrounding Amelia's persistence are not fun at all. We readers find out what is happening as Rob does, albeit with the benefit of emotional distance, always with the question hanging over Jenny's sanity, and, by extension, Rob's.

I really loved some of the secondary characters - Sebastian is my favourite character, even above Rob. Josie is lovely but a typical know-it-all psychologist type, and at times, I wished she'd keep her opinions to herself. Of course, my irritation wouldn't be possible if the characterisation wasn't excellent throughout.

Even better, the sequel is now in editing! Finding Amelia has a firm conclusion and ties all the major loose ends, but I can't wait to find out where Rob and Jenny's journey takes them next.



About the Author:
Graham West studied art at Hugh Baird college in Bootle, Merseyside, before joining the display team at Blacklers Store in Liverpool city centre where he spent seven years in the art department before moving on in 1981 to become a sign writer. He lives in Maghull with his wife, Ann, and has a daughter, Lindsay, and two grandchildren, Sonny and Kasper. Graham also plays guitar at weddings, functions and restaurants. He took up writing in 2000 and has had a couple of factual articles published in magazines. Finding Amelia is his first novel.