Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Indie Reading Challenge

Hebridean Storm: Book One of The Matt Macaulay Trilogy by [Libby, Patterson]

Right, here's the first of my Indie authors for the year, and a new author to me, too. She's Libby Patterson, and the book is Hebridean Storm, apparently the first in a trilogy though No.3 is not yet out

I heard about this on a Facebook group and thought I’d give it a go, and first I’d like to pass quickly over what’s not good about it, just to get it out of the way. The cover is dull, and the book could do with a good edit – there are sentences that aren’t sentences, and wandering commas everywhere. It certainly doesn't feel as if it's written by a Scot (not that that is a problem, and indeed it gives some bite to the newcomers' reactions to the island), but at least there is some local knowledge. Right, that’s done. This is a cracking yarn, more of a light thriller than a whodunit, but with a keen sense of place both in Glasgow and on South Uist. The good characters are three dimensional with depths to them that will allow for the sequel at least to be interesting. The bad characters are a little less well drawn, but still have their quirks. It’s well worth fighting through the editing to enjoy the story, and I’ll be reading the next one which I see is already out. This almost made it on to my concurrent Crime Tour of Scotland, but not quite!


Wednesday, 3 January 2018


This year's reading challenge! Got a lot on so I'm just going for the Amateur level (1-24 books - or in fact twelve). I muddled my challenges with the 'writers new to you' challenge and thought it had to be indie writers new to me, so this is a bit of a mixture! I'll be back shortly on this with a review of Libby Patterson's Hebridean Storm, which fits both categories anyway.

Meanwhile I have three books on offer on Amazon Kindle for 99p this week - Thicker than Water, Jail Fever and A Murderous Game - if you don't have them already, time to grab them!

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Happy New Year!

Third edition of the Ballater Bugle has gone out today to those on the mailing list, along with a short story - let me know if you think you should have it and haven't! contact@kellascatpress.co.uk.

Our internet was misbehaving over Christmas, so I hope everyone had as good a one as they could, and now I can at least wish you a very Happy 2018. And many excellent books, and the opportunity to read them!

Friday, 1 December 2017

November - December literary house

                                                          Well, for November I was going to go to Ratty's lovely hole in
                                                          the riverbank, but instead, as the snow is falling and it's already
                                                          December, it's this children's book:

The Dark Is Rising: Modern Classic by [Cooper, Susan]

The Dark is Rising This was the book, and the house, that started it all, because I try to read this one every December as the daylight fades and the cold bites. Officially it’s the second in The Dark is Rising series, coming after Over Sea, Under Stone, but it’s the only one that has been filmed (don’t bother watching it, read the book) and it’s probably the only one that can be read as a standalone.

‘It will be a bad night,’ said Mr. Dawson, ‘The Walker is abroad, and this night will be bad, and tomorrow will be beyond imagining.’

Will, the hero, on the verge of his eleventh birthday, is the youngest of a family of nine children and the house at Christmas, out in the country, is chaos.

‘“He said, remembering a duty: ‘I haven’t fed the rabbits yet. Want to come?’
‘Booted and muffled, they clumped out through the sprawling kitchen. A full symphony orchestra was swelling out of the radio; their eldest sister Gwen was slicing onions and singing; their mother was bent broad-beamed and red-faced over an oven. ‘Rabbits!’ she shouted, when she caught sight of them. ‘And some more hay from the farm!’
‘“We’re going!’ Will shouted back. The radio let out a sudden hiss of static as he passed the table. He jumped. Mrs. Stanton shrieked, ‘Turn that thing DOWN!’ …

The calm silence of the rabbit hutches and hen house are a relief, but then they return to the wonderful madness inside.

‘The grey world had slipped into the dark by the time they went back to the kitchen. Outside the window, their father’s battered little van stood in a yellow cave of light. The kitchen was even noisier and hotter than before. Gwen was setting the table, patiently steering her way round a trio of bent figures where Mr. Stanton was peering at some small, nameless piece of machinery with the twins, Robin and Paul; and with Mary’s plump form now guarding it, the radio was blasting out pop music at enormous volume. … Voices and laughter filled the long stone-floored kitchen as they sat round the scrubbed wooden table; the two Welsh collies, Raq and Ci, lay dozing at the far end of the room beside the fire.’

Clearly I’m drawn by large, messy families – the opposite really of what I’ve always had, so perhaps a ‘grass is always greener’ idea.

Dear Amazon  has done something bizarre with my sales figures for the last couple of days, so I  have no idea if the new Hippolyta is selling or not! I hope it will sort itself out soon. But in the meantime, I could either go and tackle some Christmas shopping, or I could go and find that well worn paperback and return once again to where the Dark is Rising! Now, which?

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Out today!

The new Hippolyta Napier, A Murderous Game, is out today - as the snow falls most appropriately outside my window!

House blog to follow in a day or so - it's been a bit busy here and I've been wallowing in lovely research for my next project, as well as planning a couple of short stories and another novella for my lovely mailing list people.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Not one, but two, new books now ready to order (and out in the next fortnight!)

They weren't quite supposed to be published so close together, but such is life! And at least they're not easily muddled. Jail Fever is a paranoid romp through Edinburgh in the year 2000 - and a few centuries before that, too. A Murderous Game is the third in the Hippolyta Napier series, set against the anxieties of parliamentary reform and riot. Both available for preorder on Kindle - paperbacks to follow soon!

Nicholas Eliot is a bad-tempered merchant with a shady past, feeling under the weather.
Catriona Lindsay is an archaeologist, leading a student dig, when she finds something unexpected.
Tom Buchan is a microbiologist, investigating a new and terrible disease with a stigma.
Together, their knowledge could save thousands of lives - but someone does not want them to ...

A red dawn breaks over winter woodland, where two men stand, pistols drawn. Political strife has come to peaceful Ballater, bringing death in its wake, and Hippolyta Napier is once more drawn to find out more – even when her own life is in danger. 

And A Knife in Darkness will be on a Good Reads giveaway from 22nd. to 30th. November, too!

Monday, 30 October 2017

October's house - perhaps with a Hallowe'en flavour?

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by [Rowling, J.K.]
When I mentioned this list to friends, right at the beginning, the first thing they said was ‘Hobbits’ and the second was ‘Weasleys, of course’. Actually again it’s a sketchy description, which was enhanced by the film of the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s Harry’s first time in a non-muggle house and as far as he’s concerned it’s love at first sight – I sometimes wonder if Ginny benefitted from that in their relationship, just as Mr. Darcy benefitted from owning Pemberley?

“It looked as though it had once been a large stone pigsty, but extra rooms had been added here and there until it was several storeys high and so crooked it looked as though it was held up by magic (which, Harry reminded himself, it probably was). Four or five chimneys were perched on top of the red roof. A lopsided sign stuck in the ground near the entrance read ‘The Burrow’. Round the front door lay a jumble of wellington boots and a very rusty cauldron. Several fat brown chickens were pecking their way around the yard.
‘It’s not much,’ said Ron.
‘It’s brilliant,’ said Harry happily, thinking of Privet Drive…
The kitchen was small and rather cramped. There was a scrubbed wooden table and chairs in the middle and Harry sat down on the edge of his seat, looking around. He had never been in a wizard house before.
‘The clock on the wall opposite him had only one hand and no numbers at all. Written around the edge were things like ‘Time to make tea’, ‘Time to feed the chickens’ and ‘You’re late’. Books were stacked three deep on the mantelpiece, books with titles like Charm Your Own Cheese, Enchantment in Baking and One Minute Feasts – It’s Magic!. And unless Harry’s ears were deceiving him, the old radio next to the sink had just announced that coming up was ‘Witching Hour, with the popular singing sorceress, Celestina Warbeck.’”

It delights me to think that even witches and wizards need hens and wellingtons!