Archive for July 2014

Dark Tidings by Ken Magee - Guest Post.

Brook Cottage Books is thrilled to introduce Ken Magee to the blog with this fantastic guest post. Thanks so much Ken.

When I decided that I wanted to be a full time author, I had to abandon a number of my other lifelong dreams. For example, I gave up my ambition to be a Premier League footballer, an admiral of industry (which is like a captain of industry, only better), an astronaut, a world class poker player and a film producer. All those aspirations had to be sacrificed.

Why did I give up such heady dreams? Answer, because I wanted to make the world a better and safer place.

Most folk believe that technology rules their lives. They’re wrong. Dark conspiracies and ancient magic actually dominate this planet. My one mission in life is to open people’s eyes to that fact.

My name is Ken Magee and I tell people I write contemporary fantasies which blend adventure and humour with technology and magic. My books live under the tagline ‘ancient magic meets the Internet’. I pretend that they’re works of fiction, because I’m afraid of the powerful people behind the conspiracies… I’m hoping a ‘fiction’ writer will slip under their radars.

Up until the point when I discovered about the frightening plot which deliberately caused the recent global financial meltdown, I’d led a fairly normal life. I worked for many years in the computer industry in roles ranging from programming through to sales. I got married and started a family. In the middle of it all, I served in the Naval Reserve... which was hard work, but fun. All pretty normal. Then in 2010, I decided to make time to finish the book I’d started many years earlier (writing not reading). I would have finished it sooner, but life got in the way. It’s finished now (the book, not life).

The book is called Dark Tidings and it’s book #1 of a series. The Black Conspiracy and A Darker Shade of Black complete the Dark Tidings trilogy.

So what is Dark Tidings about? Well, here’s the blurb…

What happens when ancient magic meets the internet? One thing is certain, modern life will never be the same again.

A thousand years ago, a young thief, Tung, and a disgraced wizard, Madrick, are thrust together in an executioner’s dungeon. In the darkness, Madrick reveals an incredible secret about a legendary spell. The great spell helps them escape their prison cell... and eventually their century.

Catapulted into the present day, their lives collide with Michael, a computer hacker who plans to destroy the world’s largest bank. But sinister people are tracking their every move and they will stop at nothing to steal their spell.

The book has had some smashing reviews. Here are some extracts from three of them:

‘This is a super book. It's intelligent, extremely funny and very relevant to what's going on in the world today. It explains, for example, why the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.’

‘Imagine the worlds of Terry Pratchett and Dan Brown coming together - Dark Tidings provides a witty and clever read which will appeal to all readers.’

‘Dark Tidings was a hilarious and enjoyable tale that took me on a rollercoaster journey from the fantastical middle ages to the modern day. It was exciting, completely compelling and had me laughing from the first page right up to the end.’

I know some of these reviews might make you think that Dark Tidings could be a work of fiction… I’ve already told you, that’s the way I want it to seem. The sinister people mentioned in the blurb are in fact some of the richest and most powerful people on our planet, I don’t want to anger them. These people frighten me.

A word of warning, don’t be seen reading Dark Tidings in public. It might put you in danger too. But do read it if you know what’s good for you. Join my crusade to free the world from the grasp of evil men… or maybe just enjoy a thrilling adventure and have a good laugh while you’re at it!

Before I drop out of sight again, I’d like to thank JB for giving me this opportunity to promote my book. She’s put herself in the firing line to share this secret… will you take a chance too?


Nice Girls Don't by Sue Barnard - Guest Post and Giveaway.

Brook Cottage Books is thrilled to welcome Sue Barnard back to the blog. Sue has written a fantastic guest post for us and has kindly offered an ecopy of her new book Nice Girls Don't. All you have to do is leave a comment and all the entrants names will be pulled out of my magic giant wine-glass! The competition will end on 6th August at midnight.

Home Conflicts – the background to Nice Girls Don’t

Next week sees the hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World War – the one which at the time was called "The War To End Wars."  Sadly that title proved to be horribly and tragically inaccurate; many more wars have found their way into the history books during the ninety-odd years since the Armistice was declared in November 1918.

One such war took place in the Spring and early Summer of 1982.  This was the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina, fought over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, and it forms a distant backdrop for my new novel Nice Girls Don't.

Like Emily, the heroine of the story, I was too young to remember the Second World War, but I was brought up by people who did; my parents' and grandparents' generations had lived through one (or in some cases two) major conflicts (the second of which claimed many civilian as well as military casualties).  But the Falklands War was the first occasion in my lifetime when my home country had actively gone to war. And, just like Emily, I was confused and bewildered. Would this war, like those before it, involve conscription and mass-slaughter?  What effect would it have on the day-to-day lives of ordinary people?

This led, in turn, to my thinking back to the other major conflicts of the twentieth century, the effect they had on those who fought and those who served by standing and waiting – and the long shadows which they could still cast over future generations. What if, when researching one's family history, one discovers secrets which, because of those wars, have been kept hidden for many years due to shame and guilt?

Nice Girls Don't is perhaps best described as cross-genre.  Yes, it’s a romance, but it has a generous helping of mystery and intrigue thrown in for good measure. But it is also a story which will, I hope, challenge a few traditionally-held views. It is difficult to discuss these here in detail without giving away too much of the story, but suffice it to say that whilst two of the episodes described in the book are based on real events, most of the narrative holds up a mirror to the circumstances, ideas and attitudes of the period. I hope it will appeal to anyone who remembers the 1980s, but also that it will show younger readers (of both genders) how much has changed – hopefully for the better – over the course of a generation.

Sue Barnard
July 2014

Sue is a member of the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing and the author of two novels: The Ghostly Father (which was nominated for the 2014 Guardian First Book Award) and Nice Girls Don’t.  Both are published by Crooked Cat and are available in paperback and e-book form.

You can read her blog here.

Newsflash!!! Sue's book The Ghostly Father has been shortlisted in this years Not the Booker Prize in the Guardian newspaper. A fantastic book and I can highly recommend. Read my Review. 

Check out the list. Sue is in some great company! Not the Booker Prize Shortlist

Coco Pinchard, The Consequences of Love and Sex by Robert Bryndza - Guest Post and Giveaway

Lunch in Slovakia...

I’m a British writer, and have lived in the UK for most of my life. I met my Slovak husband Ján in 2007, and we spent our first few years together living in London. In 2011 we decided to move to Slovakia. There are many things I love about life here, but one thing has struck me during my working day, is how different lunch is.

Of the numerous jobs I did in London during my twenties; acting, office temping, or promotional work, lunch options were depressing. I still can't eat pre-packed sandwiches, or salad, and a foot long Subway turns my stomach.

Rarely, if ever, did I do a job where I was taken out for lunch. And packed lunch catastrophes were frequent involving Chilli Con Carne and worse - tinned mackerel. My midday excitement evaporating when I discovered a plastic container had regurgitated its contents inside my bag.

Here in Slovakia lunch is thought of as very important. One of the wonderful throwbacks from Communism (and surprisngly there are many) is that all restaurants do a lunch menu. For three or four euros you can get an incredible three course hot meal, with mineral water, all served with a swift mindfulness for people who only have a short lunch break.

What is even better is that all employers are legally required to give their staff a voucher worth €4 per day which can be used in all restaurants. Even the posh ones do a lunch menu, or if you're really picky you can use them in supermarkets.

I couldn't believe it; Ján still can't get over my shock at this, but it's a way of life in Slovakia.

Of course, I‘ve discovered this at a time when I work from home! But I still insist on a lunch menu every now and again, even if we don’t get the vouchers. The last few lunches have been no exception; mediterranean spaghetti with rocket and cherry tomatoes, lamb stuffed aubergine, kung pao chicken, roast chicken with herb mash and veg - and the soups! Soup is a big part of each meal in Slovakia, and the delicate vegetable broths and thick cream soups have almost filled me up before the rest arrived. All this for around £3 a pop, it’s been a revelation.

I wish this could work in the UK. Lunchtime would be so much more special - I bet we’d all get more work done. But I just couldn't imagine rocking up at the Oxo Tower in London with a grin and a luncheon voucher, they'd lob me off the brasserie balcony (or if I looked really well dressed, the balcony by the restaurant).

Things are changing fast here in Slovakia. Capitalism is marching forward at a pace. I just hope lunch menus stay. Sometimes, when you’re having a horrible day, it‘s nice to look forward to something as simple as lunch!

Robert’s book Coco Pinchard, The Consequences Of Love and Sex is available now.

You can find out more about Robert at on Twitter at @RobertBryndza
Or, for a far more interesting option, you can now follow Coco Pinchard on Twitter at @CocoPinchard

Book Blurb

Since Coco Pinchard found first husband Daniel in bed with another woman, she hasn’t just picked up the pieces: she’s now a best-selling author married to her hunky soul-mate Adam. She feels stronger and wiser and surely the second time round she’ll have learnt from her mistakes? 
But things aren’t going quite according to plan... Adam has lost his job, Coco’s grown-up son Rosencrantz seems to have derailed his life in spectacular fashion, and ex-mother-in-law Ethel keeps letting herself into the house thanks to an endless supply of spare keys. When literary agent Angie takes on Coco’s arch rival, the indomitable Regina Battenberg, it looks as though things can’t get any worse. And then Coco discovers she’s pregnant; at 44. 
Can she really go through it all again? Sleepless nights, stretch marks on top of stretch marks, and poo as a normal topic of conversation? 
The third and final book in Robert Bryndza’s bestselling series is a hilarious diary with Coco’s trademark wit and honesty, tracing the raging hormones and extraordinary twists that take her to motherhood for the second time. 
*Coco Pinchard, The Consequences of Love and Sex can be read as a stand-alone*

Amazon US

About the Author

Robert Bryndza was born in the UK and lived in America and Canada before settling in Slovakia with his Slovak husband Ján. His debut novel The Not So Secret Emails of Coco Pinchard became an Amazon bestseller and two sequels have followedCoco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Weddingand Coco PinchardThe Consequences of Love and Sex. A Very Coco Christmas, is a delightful introductory novella to the Coco Pinchard series.  When he’s not writing Rob is learning Slovak, trying to train two crazy dogs, or watching Grand Designs – all in the hope that he’ll be able to understand his mother-in-law, build his dream house, and get the dogs to listen. 

Author Links

Robert Bryndza on Goodreads

Robert Bryndza on  Twitter @robertbryndza

Overall tour giveaway is 3 x signed copies of Coco Pinchard, The Consequences of Love and Sex  plus Coco Pinchard bookmarks.

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