Book reviews

HARROGATE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVALS REVEALS FIRST TASTE OF WORLD-CLASS LINE-UP FOR VIRTUAL ARTS WEEKENDER CELEBRATING THE BEST IN BOOKS, MUSIC, SCIENCE & MORE – ‘HIF WEEKENDER’: 23 – 26 JULY 2020

 

Wow…just look at this line-up…….

 

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HARROGATE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVALS REVEALS FIRST TASTE OF WORLD-CLASS LINE-UP FOR VIRTUAL ARTS WEEKENDER CELEBRATING THE BEST IN BOOKS, MUSIC, SCIENCE & MORE – ‘HIF WEEKENDER’: 23 – 26 JULY 2020

 

harrogateinternationalfestivals.com | #HIF2020 | #HIFAtHome

 

 

PREMIERE OF NEW BRASS COMMISSION ECLIPSE by DAVID LANCASTER featuring soloist MIKE LOVATT

INTERVIEWS with JOHN SUCHET | STELLA DUFFY | ANTHONY HOROWITZ | BEN PALMER

ADAM RUTHERFORD | LEWIS DARTNELL | CLAUDIA HAMMOND

PERFORMANCES from STEVEN ISSERLIS | TASMIN LITTLE | MAHAN ESFAHANI

NAVARRA STRING QUARTET | MISHA MULLOV-ABBADO GROUP

GEORGE HARLIONO | SILAS BASSA | ABIGAIL HAMMETT & IWAN OWEN | RACHAEL GREEN

SEAN PAYNE | NOAH STONEMAN | GRANNY’S ATTIC

GRAEME PARK DJ SET

 

THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER VIRTUAL CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL

LEE CHILD | JOSEPH FINDER | MARK BILLINGHAM | VAL MCDERMID interviewed by MARK LAWSON

VAL MCDERMID’S NEW BLOOD ft DEEPA ANAPPARA | JESSICA MOOR | TREVOR WOOD | ELIZABETH KAY

IAN RANKIN | N.J. COOPER | STEVE MOSBY | AA DHAND | EMMA KAVANAGH | AMANDA JENNINGS

STEVE CAVANAGH & LUCA VESTE present TWO CRIME WRITERS & A MICROPHONE

THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR: WINNER CEREMONY

 

Harrogate, Thursday 2 July 2020: Harrogate International Festivals is thrilled to announce first names for its new, free virtual festival bringing world-class culture to everyone at home, the HIF Weekender.

 

From 23 to 26 July, the HIF Weekender will present a celebration of the arts, featuring performances and interviews with internationally acclaimed musicians, best-selling authors and innovative thinkers to coincide with what would have been the legendary long weekend of Harrogate’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.

 

The HIF Weekender begins with a bang, crowning the winner of the UK’s most prestigious crime fiction prize – Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Yearin a virtual ceremony recognising the best of the best. The celebrations continue with crime writing royalty Ian Rankin, who was set to be the 2020 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Chair, interviewed by N. J. Cooper about Rebus, writing and Rankin’s ‘lost’ festival year. Lee Child will reflect on his extraordinary career with fellow author Joseph Finder, and Mark Billingham on the 20th anniversary of his iconic detective Tom Thorne and debut novel Sleepy Head. Steve Mosby will be joined by AA Dhand, Emma Kavanagh andAmanda Jennings to explore what it means to be a crime writer in the age of pandemic and why the genre has dominated reading lockdown reading habits, and Steve Cavanagh and Luca Veste are set to present a virtual version of their popular podcast Two Crime Writers & A Microphone for the weekend.

 

Queen of crime Val McDermid will be joined by journalist and broadcaster Mark Lawson to unpack the heritage and impact of her infamous New Blood panel, discussing the vital role this showcase has played in shaping bookshelves and literary careers, how trends have changed over the past 17 years, as well as giving a peek behind the scenes into has she selects her chosen four… all before welcoming this year’s formidable debut talent to share the virtual stage: Deepa Anappara, Elizabeth Kay, Jessica Moor and Trevor Wood.

 

For centuries music has provided refuge in times of crisis and Harrogate International Festivals has taken the bold step of commissioning a new work to premiere during the HIF Weekender, in a statement demonstrating the Festival’s commitment to supporting the arts scene and the artistic community at this precarious time.

 

Highly respected, Yorkshire based composer David Lancaster was commissioned by the Festival following the cancellation of the Summer Season. Inspired by the pandemic, Lancaster’s piece for brass band Eclipse was scored in just five days and represents the darkness and danger facing the arts at this time, with an invitation to remain hopeful until the light returns. The Festival has brought together musicians from around the world – from young players starting out on their journey to professionals at very top of their careers – to come together digitally as a community on the hallowed Harrogate stage for a collaborative world premiere led by acclaimed virtuoso trumpeter Mike Lovatt.

 

Jazz maestro Mischa Mullov-Abbado – who has also been commissioned by the Festival for new work premiering this autumn – is welcomed as a Guest Curator for the festival weekend, as well as performing with the Mischa Mullov-Abbado Group. Reflecting the Festival’s dedication to championing new talent, Mullov-Abbado has handpicked some of the most exciting contemporary young musicians to join the line-up: rising stars and former finalists from the BBC Young Jazz Musician of The Year, Sean Payne and Noah Stoneman.

 

There will be a host of further classical performances from world renowned musicians including distinguished British cellist Steven Isserlis, the Navarra String Quartet, multi-award-winning concerto violinist Tasmin Little, Tehran born harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani – a three time nominee for Gramophone’s Artist of the Year – as well as a raft of emerging artists: pianist George Harliono, who was recently shortlisted for Classical BRIT Award, Argentinian composer and pianist Silas Bassa, violin and piano duo Abigail Hammett and Iwan Owen, and tenor saxophonist Rachael Green.

 

For folk fans BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award nominees Granny’s Attic are on hand to entertain, or if rave and house music is more your scene, Graeme Park – the DJ responsible legendary Hacienda in Manchester and at the heart of the cultural boom of Cool Britannia – will be joining the line up with a live DJ set and interview, so be sure to have your disco ball ready at home.

 

Alongside mesmerising music and first-class fiction, the HIF Weekender presents a series of cultural conversations with the best in the business including celebrated conductor Ben Palmer, Deutsche Philharmonie Merck in Darmstadt, and Founder and Artistic Director of Covent Garden Sinfonia; theatre maker and co-director of the Fun Palaces campaign, Stella Duffy, will be discussing the state of the arts in lockdown; newsreader and presenter John Suchet will reveal the man behind the music with his compelling biography of Beethoven; and one of the UKs most prolific and successful writers – Anthony Horowitz – will be sharing  anecdotes from his career, celebrating 10 years of Alex Rider and giving an early glimpse at his new novel Moonflower Murders.

 

As part of the Festival’s Berwins Salon North strand of TED-style talks designed to change your life for the better, the weekender welcomes geneticist, author, and broadcaster Adam Rutherford to advise on How to Argue with a Racist, BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind Claudia Hammond will explain why we should be talking rest seriously, and astrobiology research scientist Lewis Dartnell will tell the virtual audience the ultimate origin story.

 

And not forgetting little ones, in addition to the host of activities and resources on the Festival’s HIF Player, the HIF Weekender will be introducing children to brass music with Back Chat Kids, sharing singalongs with Family Singing Sessions and History’s Maid Kate Vigurs will be revealing the horribly entertaining parts of history that children love!

 

Since 1966, Harrogate International Festivals has proved an artistic force to be reckoned with, presenting inspiring and ambitious cultural experiences in the most interesting spaces across Harrogate and the region, dedicated to its charitable purpose of ensuring as many people as possible have access to the arts. This commitment now takes the Festival to our digital doorstep, but for those unable to connect HIF has created a CD version of the weekender available to the public. The festival is also hosting a colourful window campaign to spread joy on the streets of Harrogate and brighten up the #ViewFromMyWindow, as well as live performances from the Band on a Bus helping residents stay upbeat and merry, and etchings of 10 Word Crime Stories as a nod to Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime  Writing Festival.

 

Sharon Canavar, CE of Harrogate International Festivals, said: “Out of crisis comes creativity, and Harrogate International Festivals is delighted to present a world-class line-up for our first virtual HIF Weekender. Bucking the trend, we have opened our digital doors and wallets to fund artists and commission new work, knowing the transformative value that the arts bring in supporting communities – both locally and for our international audience. Whilst there is no denying that this is a hugely challenging time for the arts and for artists, festivals play a vital part in the creative industries ecology and defining our cultural landscape, and so we are extremely proud to be presenting this rich selection to our audiences world-wide for free, ensuring the arts remain accessible to all at a time when we need it the most.”

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Book reviews, Extract

Warbringer by Aaron Hodges – *EXTRACT*

 

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Welcome to the Bookwormery and I’m pleased to be taking part in the blog blitz for Warbringer by Aaron Hodges…  and to bring you an extract……

 

Here’s a little about Warbringer and the extract will follow …

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

 

Warbringer

 

Centuries ago, the world fell.

From the ashes rose a terrible new species—the Tangata.

Now they wage war against the kingdoms of man.

And humanity is losing.

Recruited straight from his academy, twenty-year-old Lukys hopes the frontier will make a soldier out of him. But Tangata are massing in the south, and the allied armies are desperate. They will do anything to halt the enemy advance—including sending untrained men and women into battle. 

Determined to survive, Lukys seeks aid from the only man who seems to care: Romaine, the last warrior of an extinct kingdom.

Meanwhile, the Queen’s Archivist leads an expedition deep beneath the earth. She seeks to uncover the secrets of the Gods. Their magic has been lost to the ages, yet artifacts remain, objects of power that could turn the tide of the war. But salvation is not all that waits beneath the surface. Something else slumbers in the darkness. Something old. Something evil.

Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and the extract to share.

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08653PM1L/

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08653PM1L/

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

 

Aaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and explore the world. During his travels he picked up an old draft of a novel he once wrote in High School (titled The Sword of Light) and began to rewrite the story. Six months later he published his first novel, Stormwielder, and hasn’t looked back since.

http://www.aaronhodges.co.nz/

https://www.facebook.com/Aaron-Hodges-669480156486208/

 

EXTRACT

 

Lukys sat back on his haunches. Around him, the world was on fire. Winds blew from across the river, catching in the hay below the walls and sending flaming strands swirling through the air. Acrid smoke stung his nostrils as he inhaled, and his throat burned. Terror robbed him of strength.

 

He drew on what final dredges of courage remained to him. Clasping at his fallen spear, he forced himself up—and found himself staring into the stony eyes of the beast.

 

It stood just a yard away, close enough that it could have reached out and snapped his neck at any moment. It didn’t. Wrinkles creased its forehead as it watched him. The spear shook in Lukys’s hand as he realised this was his chance.

 

But even as he tightened his grip on the weapon, the Tangata tensed, its features closing over. A smile twisted its lips, revealing yellowed teeth.

 

Death, death, death.

 

Laughter sounded in Lukys’s ears and the beast raised a hand, gesturing him forward.

 

Screaming, Lukys leapt, spear held at the ready. He knew he could not win, that this was the end, but in that moment he didn’t care. All that mattered was the spear in his hands and the beast.

 

The tip of his spear flashed out, aimed clumsily for the creature’s stomach. The Tangata was quicker, its hand swiping down, catching his weapon by the haft and snapping it in two with a quick wrench.

 

Lukys staggered back, half of his now useless weapon still clutched to his chest. The tip of Lukys’s spear clasped in one hand, the Tangata advanced.

 

A cry escaped Lukys as his boots failed to find purchase in the mud. He crashed to the ground, broken spear tumbling from his fingers. Mouth wide in terror, he looked up, expecting to see death descending upon him.

 

A warrior stood between Lukys and the Tangata, twin-bladed axe extended towards the beast. The weapon rippled in the firelight as it swept out. The Tangata leapt away, twisting from the path of the blade, but even with its superhuman speed, it could not avoid the blow completely.

A shriek rent the air as the axe sliced the creature’s thigh. Blood pulsed from the wound as it staggered. Lukys was surprised to see it bled red. Despite their distinctly human appearance, surely the monsters could not be the same within?

 

Pain contorted the Tangata’s face as it faced the axeman. Then a change seemed to come over the creature, a wave of pure rage sweeping away its agony. Its eyes flashed and it rushed forward—now in total silence.

 

The axeman did not retreat from its fury. He charged with a shout, words lost in the chaos, massive shoulders sending the axe flashing for the Tangata. Somehow, the creature seemed sluggish by comparison. Perhaps the wound had slowed it. Regardless, it realised its mistake too late, and with a sickening thud, the axe slammed into its shoulder, slicing through bone and sinew to bury itself in the beast’s chest.

 

An awful gurgling came from the Tangata as it struggled to step forward, to reach the enemy that had slain it. But not even these creatures could survive such a blow, and with a sharp whistle of departing air, it slumped to its knees and fell alongside Lukys.

 

The warrior towered over the beast. His shoulders heaved as blue eyes scanned the ramparts, seeking out signs of fresh danger. Another Tangata lay nearby, its body peppered with arrows and impaled by several spears. In the distance, the sounds of battle were fading, an eerie stillness coming over the night.

 

The battle was won.

 

Looking up at the massive axeman, Lukys could hardly believe he was alive. If not for the ferocious warrior, he wouldn’t be. Only now did he notice the man did not wear the familiar red of Flumeer, nor the blue of Perfugia. Instead, his chainmail had been woven through with the deepest green, remnant of the forest.

 

Calafe.

 

He hadn’t realised there were any Calafe warriors left. They had passed the refugee camps outside Mildeth, but it was said that the last of their soldiers had refused to leave their land, and had died on the shores of the Illmoor. What did this man fight for now, with his kingdom overcome?

 

“Need some help?”

 

Lukys started as the man spoke, dragging him from his thoughts. Seeing the hand the warrior was extending, he took it. His slender fingers were ingulfed by the warrior’s giant mitts and he was yanked to his feet. Lukys stumbled before righting himself, his gaze catching on the body of the Tangata once more. The blood had stopped flowing from the awful wound the man’s axe had left.

 

It almost killed me.

Before he could stop himself, Lukys was bent in two and retching in the mud.

Gentle laughter came from beside him. “First battle?”

 

Gasping, Lukys managed a nod.

 

“You’ll get used to it,” the warrior grunted.

 

With that, he took a hold of his axe. Placing a boot on the Tangata’s chest, he yanked the weapon free with a sickening squelch, then turned and walked away along the ramparts.

Lukys watched him go, a reply on his lips, though he couldn’t bring himself to say it. The warrior was wrong. He would never get used to this. He would never get the chance.

 

He’d be dead long before then. 

Cosy mystery

Murder On The Downs by Julie Wassmer – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A controversial new property development is planned in Whitstable which will encroach upon the green open space of the downs, to the dismay of Whitstable residents who view this as the thin end of the wedge with regard to local wildlife conservation.

A campaign springs into life, spearheaded by a friend of Pearl’s family, Martha Laker. A committed environmentalist, Martha is no stranger to controversy herself. She has also managed to divide opinion across town, with the locals viewing her as their fearless champion while establishment figures seeing only an interfering agitator.

Tensions escalate between the developers and Whitstable residents, straining Pearl’s close relationship with London-born police officer, DCI Mike McGuire, who harbours concerns that the local campaign will spiral out of control. Pearl’s loyalties are torn, but the protest duly goes ahead – and newspaper headlines claim a moral victory for the residents in this David and Goliath battle.

But the victory is short lived when Pearl discovers a dead body on the downs…

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MY REVIEW 

#7 in The Whitstable Pearl Mystery series, but can also be read as a stand-alone.

Pearl Nolan owns a successful restaurant, The Whitstable Pearl and the Nolan’s Detective Agency.

Pearl takes part in a local protest against a property developer’s plans to build new housing on green land. While new housing is desperately needed the locals feel there are better options available.

But when Pearl finds a body on the downs, she begins her own investigation, all the while she is defending her home town of Whitstable. Her family and her relationship with DCI Mike McGuire.

Murder On The Downs is the perfect summer read, a cosy murder mystery with a clever plot and hunger inducing descriptions of delicious sounding foods. A thoroughly entertaining read.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and an eARC of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3iokkbF 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

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Julie Wassmer was born in the East End of London, studied at Kingston University and had a variety of different jobs before she finally settled down to become a professional television drama writer.

She worked on several TV series, including ITV’s London’s Burning, C5’s Family Affairs and the popular BBC soap, EastEnders, which she wrote for almost 20 years.

In 2010, her autobiography More Than Just Coincidence was published by Harper Collins/True. The book entered the Sunday Times Best Selling Non Fiction Top Twenty and went on to become Mumsnet Book of the Year.

In 2015, Julie’s debut crime novel, The Whitstable Pearl Mystery, was published by award-winning publisher, Little, Brown Book Group. Six other books have since followed in the series with more on the way, and the television rights to the series have been optioned by the TV production company, Buccaneer, the makers of Marcella, starring Anna Friel.

Julie moved to Whitstable twenty years ago where she shares a home with her husband, Kas, and three cats, Charlie, Lily and Maisie. She also spends a great deal of time campaigning on environmental issues.

 

Murder on the Downs is the seventh book in the Whitstable Pearl Mystery series.