Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Like scary stories? Try The Helland Reckoning!

Novels Read Recently Update 1! 

Are you able to read paranormal horror easily? I really don't think I'm very good at it because The Helland Reckoning by Adrian Martin (published by Crooked Cat Books) was really not a comfortable read for me but it was totally rivetting- at least once I had plucked up sufficient courage. I'm certainly no expert at paranormal, or horror, but get the feeling some people might not find it as scary as I do but might love it for the absorbing storyline. 

Here's what I thought of it,  the review I posted on Amazon and Goodreads...

I have to confess to beginning this novel and then doing something most unusual for me. Once started I normally read through a novel right to the end, even if not all in one sitting.  With The Helland Reckoning I got to around 10% and put down my kindle. Reading this kind of novel in bed and around midnight was way too scary for me. I decided to only read the novel during daylight hours.
I’m glad I eventually plucked up the courage to read on (definitely during the day and not alone) because it was totally engrossing though I’m not really sure why some of the bloodiest bits happened! Closer to the end I was piecing together the interweaving character threads but definitely not the entire plot - there were still some surprises that the author kept under wraps till the end.

Paranormal horror isn't my most favourite genre but if you gravitate to that kind of story then I'm sure you'll love The Helland Reckoning.

Happy reading!


It's a Summer Surprise from Columbkill Noonan!

Happy Wednesday greetings to you!

As part of my Summer Surprises for You theme we continue with a visit from a fellow Crooked Cat Books author Columbkill Noonan who has a very exciting day today. Her novel Barbnabas Tew and the Missing Scarab launches today, the 26th July. Congratulations, Columbkill!

Columbkill Noonan
Columbkill's come to share something very different and entertaining with us,today. It's not often I get to have the publisher, the author and someone who will soon become a very famous person all on this blog at the same time sharing what was a fabulous surprise for all of them.  Grab yourself a drink, get comfy and get to know a little about how today's launch came about.

p.s Pay Barnabas some special attention because he's quite a character!

Welcome to the blog Columbkill- it's exciting to have you stop by and share these moments of sheer joy with us because I know how busy it is for you today. Being nervous about a launch is pretty normal, though not too many of us think about our characters feeling a tad nervous as well. And thank you so much for really giving us lots of other surprises as well as we read on beyond the conversation with 'the publisher' and Barnabas! (I wonder who that publisher is? Wink, wink)

“Surprise!” says the Publisher. “We’ve got a launch date!”
“Ahhh!” says Barnabas, the earnest, responsible, and slightly high-strung detective from Victorian London. He turns a bit red in the cheeks, and shifts nervously from one foot to the other. “And when is this ‘launch date’, I wonder?”
“Why, it’s this coming Wednesday!” says the Publisher. “You’ll be coming out July 26th. Isn’t that wonderful news?”
“Wonderful!” says Me, the Author. “Exciting!”
“Errr….” mumbles poor Barnabas. The red has now spread out from his cheeks to color his face entirely, giving him the complexion of a nearly-ripe tomato. It is a most alarming sight, really.
“Why, what’s the matter?” I say. “You look as though you’re having an apoplexy.”
“It’s just I’m not certain I’m quite ready,” says Barnabas. “I’m not even properly dressed.”He pats awkwardly at his billowing white robe. (Don’t ask why he’s wearing such a ridiculous thing, please; you’ll only upset him and besides, it will all become clear somewhere smack in the middle of “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab”. Poor Barnabas would never forgive me if I spoiled his story!)
“Now Barnabas,” says Me. “We’ve talked about this. You’ll be fine. You’re completely ready.”
“I suppose,” says Barnabas. “It’s just such a…, well….”
“Yes?”I prompt.
“It’s just such a surprise!” he sighs.

And isn’t that the way of surprises? They can be good, or they can be bad, or they can seem good to one person and bad to another. It doesn’t really matter what the surprise is, it’s how you view it.
I personally love surprises. I think the most magical moments in life are unplanned, unforeseen, and therefore, unforgettable. There is beauty in chaos; a field of wildflowers growing every which where, or a rocky seashore with the waves flinging themselves wildly upon the cliffs. And there is so much to be learned in the unexpected.

Once I was in Frankfurt, all by myself. I don’t speak German (excepting that I can sing all the words to 99 Luftballons, which is, of course, not very useful when one is trying to navigate around a foreign country by oneself. “Hast du etwas zeit fur mich?”is not something one says normally in the course of a day, is it?) Anyway, I decided on an impulse that I wanted to go to Heidelberg, so I walked to the Frankfurt train station (which is enormous) and somehow managed to buy the ticket (I knew the words for train, and which track, and so forth. Unfortunately, I didn’t really know numbers (which are incredibly important when one is looking for a particular train track and there are what seems to be half a billion different tracks), so when the ticket seller told me which track to go to, I was more than a little uncertain.

I ran around in circles for a bit, then found what I thought was the right track, that happened to have a train sitting on it pointing in what I thought was probably the right direction. So I got on the train, and sat there…and started to worry. What if it’s the wrong train? What if it doesn’t go to Heidelberg? But then it hit me: so what? I might not be going to Heidelberg, but I am going somewhere, and maybe I’ll like that place too. So I just sat there and happily waited to see where the train would take me.
Turns out I went to Heidelberg after all, and it was fabulous, and I loved it, and I kind of wish I lived there now.

Nancy says : I've been through Frankfurt Station enroute to Heidelberg as well and know exactly how enormous it is. I also adore Heidelberg, so much so it features in one of my mystery novels! 

Barnabas, of course, is a bit more British about things; he likes everything neat and orderly and predictable. He likes to know where he is, and where he is going. He would be most decidedly unhappy to be on a train with a destination unknown. He thinks roses are their most beautiful when they are trimmed and arranged just so, so that each one is in its proper place. He likes for people to behave the way they are supposed to (in a civilized sort of way, that is to say). 

Of course, fiction doesn’t usually behave in an orderly, predictable sort of way, and “Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” is no exception. Indeed, beginning almost straightaway, Barnabas (together with his loyal assistant Wilfred, who is just a tad more resilient about things) finds himself in the most unexpected and terribly surprising circumstance. To be stolen from a museum in the middle of
London and thrust into the very strange (and rather frightening) Egyptian Afterlife is about as unexpected and surprising as it gets. But our Barnabas, distraught though he may be, has a job to do, and he knows that it isn’t terribly polite to let one’s feelings interfere with the discharge of one’s responsibilities. 

But I’d better stop talking about that, before I give away too much. I don’t want to spoil all the exciting surprises that are in store for the readers!

Nancy says: Absolutely, no spoilers please because I'm sure I'm going to love reading about Barnabas Tew. 

So, back to the topic of surprises and chaos and order. Isn’t life (and fiction) just a wonderful mix of all of these? And, as the Fibonacci sequence shows, wildness and order are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Maybe Barnabas and I are not so different, after all. We are merely looking at the same thing from opposite sides, we are two sides of the same coin, the yin and the yang, yada yada yada.

I am excited for the launch date, and can’t wait to see what will come from it, what people I’ll meet, which adventures I’ll have. But when I think about it, I am nervous (just like our dear, earnest Barnabas). People will read the book. I hope that they will like it, but of course not everyone will…nothing is universally liked by every single person on the planet. 

So, whilst I tend to be a happy, excited sort of person (the kind who loves surprises!), Barnabas really is a reflection of my more anxious, worrisome side. Really, both sides are required for everything to stay in balance, and to work out the way they should. Sometimes one needs to plan, and sometimes one needs to just go with the flow.

So….Surprise! Chaos and order are both necessary, at the same time.
But, really, what does one wear to something like this? 

Nancy Says: Something cool and comfortable might just do the trick!

“Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Missing Scarab” is now available on Amazon!

Connect with Columbkill: 

Twitter: @ColumbkillNoon1

Thank you for coming today, Columbkill. Congratulations again. Wishing you the very best of launch days and continued success with your writing. 


Monday, 24 July 2017

#The Battle of Harlaw 1411!

Monday Moments Greetings to you! 

I tend to write a lot about the pre-historic Ancient Roman Invasion of the Garioch area of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, but my local Garioch area has been invaded at other times within historical memory.   

The Battle of Harlaw 24th July 1411
One of these times occurred in 1411 on July 24th. This battle was recorded though some details vary according to sources and allegiances of the clans who came to fight at Harlaw, around 1 mile away from the present county town of Inverurie, Aberdeenshire. The actual details may be hazy but the occasion has been remembered for centuries in the Ballad of The Battle of Harlaw.

Words to the Ballad are HERE

This is a great wee video accompanying the Old Blind Dogs version of the ballad. I urge you to watch it  through to the end where you can see the present day monument to the Battle at Harlaw. The footage is an amalgam of shots from various films but I think it gives a credible idea of what they may have looked like- though I'm certainly no expert in medieval Scottish warfare.

Aberdeenshire in this instance wasn’t being invaded by a totally alien army like it was when the Romans invaded in A.D. 84. The Battle of Harlaw of 1411 was a rift between opposing Scottish forces. By the early 1400s, Scotland had been a unified country for approximately five and a half centuries, the first king Kenneth MacAlpin having united the east and the west in A.D. 843 but that didn't mean all was peaceful. 

By 1411, there was huge strife between Donald of Islay, Lord of the Isles (head of the Clan Donald) and the Duke of Albany (Robert Stewart of the Royal line) who had taken control of the Earldom of Ross. In 1411, the Clan Donald  had been a worthy adversary of the Clan Stewart for decades, the Stewart dynasty of Kings having ruled from 1371.  

The Stewart take over of Ross was contested by Donald, Lord of the Isles who was married to Mariota, Countess of Ross. Donald, on his wife's behalf, laid claim to the Earldom of Ross. ( Marriages at this time tended to cause dissention as well as sometimes uniting families and clans) Donald set forth from the west with an army of supporters and invaded Ross (shire) in northern Scotland

A battle was fought and won at Dingwall (north of Inverness) by Donald who then continued south with his army, said to be 10,000 clansmen (probably an over inflated count), his intention to control the city of Aberdeen. By 23rd July, Donald’s army had almost reached Inverurie, approximately 20 miles from Aberdeen.

Harlaw Monument - Wikimedia Commons 
The Earl of Mar, the local ‘guardian’ of Aberdeen and the surrounding area, mustered a force of between one and two thousand men at Inverurie (though this was more likely to be several thousands with some highly equipped mounted knights among them). The details of the actual battle are scant but it’s said that Donald lost some 900 of his men in the fierce pitched battle that took place at the fields of the Harlaw on 24th July. Mar is said to have lost some 600 men but by the end of the whole day of fierce battling with swords, bows, axes, long knives and targes (round shields) no clear winner was obvious.

Donald chose to retreat overnight back to the west coast via the north of Scotland. 

Though the Earl of Mar could claim no positive victory in the battle, the city of Aberdeen was saved... and the rest became infamous history in ballad form.