Historical Saturday #LlandeiloLitFest Review: “The Asparagus Thieves” by Eddie Butler

This is a cleverly spun tale consisting of two or maybe even three separate story strands. One in 1914 and the other a hundred years later.
It’s the story of two Daniel Jones’s and of a large property in Pembrokeshire, linked to the Jones family in indirect ways. The property is the focal point in a story of a lot of odd characters, namely war heroes and their families, mirrored in the story of other real life heroes outisde of war.

How the stories are linked in the plot and literal sense is less important. Two sons, one rich, one from working family, serve in World War I. And a beautiful Welsh girl in Marbella and her childhood friend are sailing close to the wind in a crime driven environment.
What links these stories more than the far fetched and often odd links is the authors wonderfully warm portrayal of humans in their search for happiness and a sense of everything coming together in the end in a clever resolve. In this way there are more parallels and connections than the obvious ones. 

The book has the potential to fill several volumes, so rich in characters and material. Spanning and leaping many years and generations, some of which could have their own book, Butler certainly doesn’t lack ideas and imagination.

This is great story telling and characterisation with lovely Welshness and some contemporary issues. Intelligent, well written with clever use of language, engaging and hugely enjoyable this is funny, even when it’s not. An odd oddyssey but a fabulous read.


You can meet the author at the Llandeilo Lit Fest

Friday at 20:00 at the Cottage Inn
An evening with Eddie Butler: 


Eddie ButlerThe former Welsh Rugby Union player, journalist, sports commentator and successful author with Gomer Press will talk Rugby and writing and will present his latest book “The Asparagus Thieves”

Noson gydag Eddie Butler:  Bydd y cyn chwaraewr rygbi dros Gymru, newyddiadurwr, sylwebydd ar chwaraeon ac awdur llwyddiannus gyda Gwasg Gomer yn siarad am rygbi ac ysgrifennu a chyflwyno’i lyfr diweddaraf “The Asaparagus Thieves” – Gwener 27ain Ebrill – 20:00yh yn Nhafarn y Cottage


Coming Soon: “Over My Dead Body – Murder at Eurovision” – A Bebe Bollinger Murder Mystery

Despite getting lost in festival organisation (or under Palm trees) I have managed to keep going with my next novel, the new Bebe Bollinger mystery, which is now back from the editor and undergoing the formatting and publishing process.


This is the provisionary design for the cover, for now still with the old blurb, but you get the idea…

On her return from a gig on a cruise ship Bebe Bollinger learns that fellow Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler has decided to enter Eurovision for the UK. While Bebe jealously watches Bonnie’s every step on her publicity trail to the event in Malmo, a string of ‘odd accidents’ endanger several of the song competition’s participants. This stirs not only Bebe’s desire to see if there is foul play in hand but also to check out the suitability of Eurovision for her own career.

Follow Bebe’s continued search for fame and a come back before it’s too late, step into the weird world that is Eurovision fandom with her and see how she gets on with her naughty daughter and deals with those evil TV presenters.

Here is an excerpt:

Bebe put on the headset and inspected her surroundings. It was filled with cameras and microphones and looked like the diary room on Big Brother, except it lacked comfortable seating. The bar stools without a back to lean on were a terrible choice. Bebe also preferred radio interviews where she could fully see the host. Here, there wasn’t even a glass screen to the DJ booth.
“Welcome,” she heard a deep voice through her headset.
“Hello,” Bebe said into the microphone nearest to her. “Is that Peter?”
“Your microphone isn’t switched on yet,” the voice said and laughed.
“Are we expecting more guests?” Bebe asked, pointing at the empty chair. When she didn’t get an answer, she assumed the microphone was still switched off. “Just as well,” she said to herself. “I just hope it’s not some godforsaken has-been and I’m part of an oldie-but-goldie programme.”
“What makes you say that?” the voice asked.
Damn! What could she say now?
“So,” she said and cleared her throat, “is there another guest?”
“Of course,” the voice replied. “Tonia Carmichael”
The name did ring a bell, but she couldn’t put it into context. She was damned if she should admit to her ignorance, so she said: “Nice.” Bonnie’s song ‘Believe In Me’ had just started to play in the background when Tonia arrived a minute later, ushered in by the same assistant producer. Tonia was a beautiful woman, slightly younger than Bebe, with dark hair and a figure Bebe would die for. The face looked familiar but Bebe still couldn’t remember where she had seen her before. Tonia sat down next to her after awkwardly shaking Bebe’s hand. Bebe thought maybe the woman didn’t know who she was, either. A harrowing thought…

Tonia put on the headset quickly and took a sip from one of the many bottles of water around. Tonia also, seemed to find the bar stool uncomfortable. She fidgeted nervously, trying to find a position that didn’t feel odd.
“Are you ready?” the deep voice said.
They both nodded.
A few seconds later the song faded.
“Welcome to my fashion spot where I interview people who think they have fashion sense but who are probably mistaken,” Beatle said.
Bebe immediately looked at Tonia, who was wearing a tight red dress, guessing it was probably not a cheap outfit, based on the silky shine and the soft material. Beatle introduced Bebe as singing ‘legend’ and Tonia as TV personality without giving any more details.
“As always, I advise viewers to go to our website and look at the dresses while we chat away and tweet us your opinions on their frocks, hashtag #fashionbeatle. I’ll give you a few minutes to check them out. In the meantime, here’s Coldplay.”
Bebe didn’t like the sound of this one bit. She saw Tonia nervously fiddling with her dress, adjusting it to look perfect. Bebe wanted to warn her that this was all being filmed, too, and would make matters worse. While the outfit probably made her look like a million dollars standing in front of a mirror, sitting down it wasn’t quite so well fitting, Bebe noticed. Was that the purpose of these dreadful chairs? When the song was finished Beatle’s voice came on the radio.
“Welcome Bebe and Tonia and thanks for playing along. Please tell us about your background in fashion,” he asked his guests.
“I daren’t say it now,” Tonia replied and giggled. “I started designing my own clothes when I was sixteen. I’ve stopped doing that now, but I’ve worked on a few TV shows as fashion advisor.”
“And what about you, Bebe?” Beatle asked.
“I’m no expert,” she replied. “I wear what I like and hope for the best.”
“A brave statement,” Beatle said. “Let’s see what the audience has had to say about your dresses. They didn’t take long to make a judgement,” he said. “For those who didn’t check the website: Tonia is sporting a designer label, a sassy red number by what could well be Dolce & Gabbana, clearly out to impress us.”
Bebe could see a smile on Tonia’s face.
“Unfortunately, Tonia chose to accessorize excessively,” Peter continued. “Look at the number of jewellery items. The dangling pendants and bracelets are reminiscent of Madonna in the Eighties, and not in a good way. I applaud Bebe for going with a simple blue velvet number and only minimalist jewellery. Not a very expensive or contemporary look but timeless.”
Tonia looked hurt, despite braving a smile.
“Bebe, you’ve been in the business for a while,” Beatle said. “Give her some advice on what to wear next, while we’re playing the Kaiser Chiefs.
The assistant producer came in and signed for them to take off the headsets and follow him to the room next door. Tonia put on a grey trouser suit, very similar to Bebe’s second outfit.
“You can’t wear that,” Tonia insisted when she noticed. “We look like clones.”
“Darling, we’ll be slaughtered by Peter and the audience, whatever we wear,” Bebe replied. “It doesn’t matter, we just have to brave his criticism and laugh along.”
“I hate that ….,” Tonia said, referring to him with shocking rudeness.
Bebe was so surprised that she let out a quick nervous giggle.
“Just look at his poster for the show in the lobby,” Bebe tried to calm Tonia down. “He’s no one to judge us. ‘Fashion guru’ Peter Beatle is wearing denim all over. And it’s obvious he’s older than he tries to look. The highlights don’t fool me and that face oozes Botox. One thing, though – when you go back in there, don’t adjust your dress as you did earlier. It made you look insecure. And don’t touch your crotch. Everything you do in there is on camera.”
Tonia nodded slowly, as if this was difficult to take in.
The assistant producer rushed them back into the sound studio where they could hear Peter chatting away to his audience.
“Now I’ve lured Bebe into a false sense of security,” he said. “Winning the first round she got careless and thought her grey trouser suit would find your approval. Reading your comments on Twitter it’s clear that neither of the women impressed you.”
Bebe shrugged and smiled in the camera next to her. She was furious at Fred for not properly preparing her for this show but she wouldn’t let that show.
“Tonia copied her in desperation to avoid a second defeat, but this time you’re both looking a bit too smart for what suits you.”
Before Bebe had time to reply she heard her voice over the loudspeaker: “Don’t touch your crotch.”
Tonia and Bebe looked at each other in panic. Their conversation had been recorded? Tonia’s rude name for Peter was played next, followed by Bebe’s giggles. “Don’t touch your crotch” was played yet again, along with the word and the giggle. And again.
“A little fashion advice Bebe dished out earlier to Tonia,” Peter said and giggled himself.

Welsh Wednesdays: Carmarthenshire Celebration of Culture Awards for #LlandeiloLitFest

Great news: Our 2017 festival won the Carmarthenshire Celebration of Culture Award, Literature Category. 

Newyddion da: Enillodd Gŵyl 2017 Wobr Diwylliant Sir Gaerfyrddin yn yr adran Lenyddiaeth. Bydd y trefnyddion Gaynor Jones a Christoph Fischer yn derbyn y wobr ar ran yr holl awduron a gwirfoddolwyr.

The festival programme is back from the printers and will be all over later this week at and Red Cross Book Shop

And: tickets for the Lit Fest in April 2018 are now live at https://www.eventbrite.com/o/llandeilo-lit-fest-16877977571

You can also get them at these shops in Llandeilo:
Dress Agency, Carmarthen Street
Peppercorn Kitchenware
Red Cross Book Shop

Please note that due to the size limitations of the venues events can sell out quickly. To avoid disappointment please book in advance, even for the free events

Mae tocynnau ar gyfer Yr Ŵyl Lên yn Ebrill 2018 yn nawr ar gael ar lein https://www.eventbrite.com/o/llandeilo-lit-fest-16877977571

Gallwch hefyd eu prynu yn y siopau canlynol yn LLandeilo

Ail Argraffiad, Stryd Caerfyrddin
Peppercorn Kitchenware
Sio Lyfrau’r Groes Goch

Noder gan fod rhai o’r lleoliadau’n fychan byddant yn debyg o werthu allan yn gyflym. Er mwyn sicrhau eich tocyn archebwch eich tocyn o flaen llaw, hyd yn oed ar gyfer y digwyddiadau rhad.

Gaynor with Sion Tomos Owen

Christoph with a group of authors at last year’s festival, including fellow Award winner Fflur Dafydd

Mystery Mondays #Bookreview: The Healer by Christoph Fischer

Thanks for this amazing review for my thriller “The Healer” on robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com via #Bookreview – Deborah A. Bowman and Christoph Fischer

The Healer by Christoph Fischer

What Amazon says

When advertising executive Erica Whittaker is diagnosed with terminal cancer, western medicine fails her. The only hope left for her to survive is controversial healer Arpan. She locates the man whose touch could heal her but finds he has retired from the limelight and refuses to treat her. Erica, consumed by stage four pancreatic cancer, is desperate and desperate people are no longer logical nor are they willing to take no for an answer. Arpan has retired for good reasons. casting more than the shadow of a doubt over his abilities. So begins a journey that will challenge them both as the past threatens to catch up with him as much as with her. Can he really heal her? Can she trust him with her life? And will they both achieve what they set out to do before running out of time?

My review

This book was a wonderful insight into the world of alternative healing and the conflict between holistic medicine and Western medicine.  Maria Miller, aka Erika Whittaker, seeks out a previously famous healer, Arpan, after being diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Maria has already undergone chemotherapy, which has failed her, and, with a remaining life expectancy of only a few weeks, she has nothing to lose by investing her faith in Arpan. Arpan retired from healing twenty years previously and has been leading a life of austere solitude ever since. When he meets Maria, however, she is able to convince him to help her and he agrees to treat her.

Over the course of her treatment, Maria learns to face the internal fears and  emotional shortcomings that Arpan believes have lead to her cancer. The descriptions of the various treatments is very detailed and convincing and I really grew to like Arpan for his goodness and forgiving nature. I became very fond of Maria too as you view the intense healing process through her eyes and almost suffer with her.

As the book progresses, the reason why Maria changed her name prior to seeking Arpan help unfolds, together with Arpan’s reasons for retiring and dropping out of the public eye so many years previously.

I found The Healer to be a fast paced and well written book with a number of twists and surprises. The ending really surprised me.

I rated this book five out of five stars.

Purchase The Healer



Nominations Are Now Open For The Bloggers Bash Awards

Please nominate your favourite blogs

via Nominations Are Now Open For The Bloggers Bash Awards

Reblogged from hughsviewsandnews.com

#bloggersbash #awards #bloggers #blogs


If you’ve never attended a Blogger Bash event before then you’re in for a treat. Created by Sacha Black and aided by her intrepid committee of eight bloggers, the Bash is open to any blogger, regardless of age or niche. Previous events have included speakers, competitions, a panel, and attendees from all over the UK, Europe, the US, and Canada.

There will be an opportunity to network, eat cake, and meet some amazing online friends in person! The event takes place in a single day; timings and the exact breakdown of the day will be available closer to the event, but it will start mid-morning and end in the evening. We announce the winners of the Bloggers Bash Awards, which you, the blogging public, vote for. You can see last year’s winners here.


Each year we stage a two-step awards ceremony.

STAGE 1 – You ‘NOMINATE’ who you would like to see listed in each category.

STAGE 2 – You vote for your favourite bloggers.


Now, a word of warning before you get nomination happy. In previous years, lots of you failed to read the rules or provide the correct information. That led to extra work for the committee who needed to take a full week to track down the information for all the nominated bloggers. We are a non-profit, voluntary group of bloggers, therefore we have taken the decision that we will automatically disqualify any nomination that comes in with:

  • The wrong information
  • Incomplete nomination
  • Breaks the rules listed below.

We will not chase you for missing information and we will not notify you of any errors. It is your responsibility when nominating to triple check the rules and the nomination entry:


Complete the nominations form at the bottom of this post – it will ping an email to the bash inbox, job done. It will only allow you to nominate for one award at a time, sorry, but that’s the way it is, if you want to nominate in every category you’ll need to fill it out several times.

Information Required:

  • Your full name
  • The full Website address of the blogger you are nominating
  • The full name of the blogger’s website (this is the name that will be on the listing, if the nominator gets it wrong, tough). 
  • The category of the award you are entering them for.

NB: The committee members cannot be nominated. Members include: Sacha BlackGeoff Le PardSuzie SpeaksHelen JonesGraeme CummingAdam DixonShelley Wilson and me!

  • If you do not submit the required information, your nomination will be disqualified.
  • You cannot nominate yourself.
  • To ensure a spread of winners, you can only win in one category. Therefore, if you are nominated in more than one category we will attempt to contact you to ask what category you would prefer to be in. If you don’t want to choose, or we cannot reach you, then the committee will decide for you.
  • You can only nominate ONCE in EACH category.
  • You can only vote once in each category
  • You can only win three years running. Should you win for three consecutive years, you will not be eligible to be nominated the following year – sozberries, but we want the awards to recognise as many bloggers as possible.

NOMINATIONS CLOSE at 23:59 (GMT) on 20th March 2018


Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Mary Anne Edwards, Christoph Fischer, Claire Fullerton, Linda G. Hill

A wonderful surprise to find myself on Sally’s wonderful blog with a review of my book – and in the bestest of company. Thank you all!

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Welcome to Friday’s update and as you will have gathered I am not here at the moment. I will be back online next Wednesday but in the meantime I did not want to miss the weekly opportunity to promote authors in the bookstore.

I would be very grateful as I am not here to boost the post if you would share, thanks Sally

The first author with a new review is Mary Anne Edwards with Flirting with Time, Book Five in the Charlie McClung Mystery Series..

About the series

The Detective Charlie McClung mysteries are gripping yet tender novels. The books are set in the early 1980s, a time without cell phones or laptop computers making life more simple but solving crime more difficult. The plots are filled with twists and turns. The characters are believable yet complex. They are people you know or want to know.

About Flirting with…

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Dysfunctional Families in Contemporary Fiction

via Dysfunctional Families in Contemporary Fiction

Dysfunctional Families in Contemporary Fiction


Dysfunctional Families in Contemporary Fiction – Saturday 28th April – 12:30 Fountain Fine Art Gallery 

Helen Lewis and Sara Gethin talk about creating dysfunctional fictional families

Helen Lewis, author of ‘The House with Old Furniture’ and Sara Gethin, author of ‘Not Thomas’, discuss creating the implosive fictional families at the centre of their debut novels, what comes first, character or plot and working with the Welsh women’s publisher, Honno Press.

Sara Gethin is the pen name of Llanelli writer Wendy White. Her debut novel ‘Not Thomas’, written in the voice of a neglected five-year-old child, was shortlisted for the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize in 2017. She has also written four children’s books as Wendy White, the first of which – ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’– won the Tir nan-Og Award in 2014.

‘Not Thomas’, the debut novel by Sara Gethin, is a story of child neglect, love and hope told in the voice of five-year-old Tomos 

Shortlisted for The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize 2017

“Heart-wrenching, captivating and beautiful…a poignant portrayal of a hostile world depicted through the eyes of a child.” Caroline Busher, Irish Times bestselling author

Teuluoedd camweithredol yn ffuglen gyfoes

Bydd Helen Lewis a Sara Gethin yn trafod creu teuluoedd camweithredol mewn ffuglen – Dydd Sadwrn 28ain Ebrill-12.30 Oriel y Ffynnon.

Bydd Helen Lewis, awdur ‘The House with Old Furniture’ a Sara Gethin, awdur  ‘Not Thomas’ yn trafod y teuluoedd sydd yng nghanol eu nofelau a beth sy’n dod yn gyntaf y cymeriad neu’r plot.

Sara Gethin yw enw llenyddol Wendy White o Lanelli. Rhoddwyd ei nofel gyntaf. ‘Not Thomas’ ar restr fer Not the Booker Prize y Guardian yn 2017. Ysgrifennwyd y nofel yn llais plenty pum mlwydd oed, Tomos, a gafodd ei esgeuluso. Mae hi hefyd wedi ysgrifennu pedwar  llyfr i blant ac enillodd y cyntaf ohonynt- ‘Welsh Cakes and Custard’- wobr Tir nan-Og yn 2014.

Historical Event at the #LlandeiloLitFest: Suffragettes – a talk by Judith Barrow

via Suffragettes – a talk by Judith Barrow

Suffragettes – a talk by Judith Barrow


Suffragettes – a talk by Judith Barrow  – Sunday 29th April 14:00 Fountain Fine Art Gallery


In her talk Judith Barrow covers the struggles that women had to endure to achieve full equality regarding suffrage; the right to vote. And she explains how the 1918 Representation of the People Act seemed a major victory for the suffragist movement, but why there were women who still saw the act as a betrayal.
Includes readings from her novel “A Tiny Hundred Threads”

Suffragettes – araith gan Judith Barrow

Disgrifiad byr

Yn ei haraith bydd Judith Barrow yn trafod y brwydrau bu’n rhaid i ferched eu goddef er mwyn ennill yr hawl i bleidleisio. Bydd hi’n egluro sut y gwelwyd Deddf Cynrychiolaeth y Bobl yn 1918 yn fuddugoliaeth enfawr i etholfreintiaeth ond paham roedd menywod yn ystyried y ddeddf yn frad.


Further Description

The move for women to have the vote really started in 1897 when Millicent Fawcett founded the National Union of Women’s Suffrage.  She believed in peaceful protest.

However, Fawcett’s progress was very slow and in 1903 the Women’s Social and Political Union was founded by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia. They wanted women to have the right to vote and they were not prepared to wait. The Union became better known as the Suffragettes. Members of the Suffragettes were prepared to use violence to get what they wanted and were quite happy to go to prison.

From 1909 the women, demanding the status of political prisoners, began to refuse food. The government’s response was to forcibly feed them but became concerned that the women might die in prison; thus giving the movement martyrs. But then Asquith responded with the Cat and Mouse Act. This allowed the Suffragettes to go on a hunger strike but when very weak they were released from prison. If they died out of prison, this was of no embarrassment to the government. And, because of the state of their health, the women were unable to take part in the struggles. However, as soon as they regained their strength, they were re-arrested for the most trivial of reason and the whole process started again. This, from the government’s point of view, was a very simple but effective weapon against the Suffragettes.

But then Britain and Europe was plunged into World War One in August 1914 and, in a display of patriotism, Emmeline Pankhurst instructed the Suffragettes to stop their campaign of violence and support in every way the government and its war effort.

The work done by women in the First World War was to be vital for Britain’s war effort. It was this that many believe, was the turning point and the 1918 Representation of the People Act seemed a major victory for the suffragist movements.

But this wasn’t the whole truth and many saw the act as a betrayal; it still classed them as second-class citizens to men. The 1918 Representation of the People Act gave all men over the age of 21 the right to vote (and aged 19 if the men had been on active service in the armed forces – an important point to note!)

Women only achieved full equality regarding suffrage in 1928.

Dame Millicent Fawcett is to be the first woman to be honoured with a statue in Parliament Square.  The equal rights campaigner, who dedicated her life to getting the women’s vote, will stand alongside Sir Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela. Theresa May has said Dame Millicent “continues to inspire the battle against the injustices of today. It is right and proper that she is honoured in Parliament Square alongside former leaders who changed our country. Her statue will stand as a reminder of how politics only has value if it works for everyone in society.”

Mystery Monday: “Restless Earth (Karma’s Children Book 1)” by John Dolan

Restless Earth (Karma's Children Book 1) by [Dolan, John]I’ve been waiting for the latest John Dolan book for some time and am delighted to finally be able to report back on it. I was confused to see the series link referring to “Karma’s Children”. His previous work was part of the “Time, Blood and Karma” series. And as this suggested, there are some similarities between the series, including some of the characters, but there is also the beginning of a new direction, including previously unknown protagonists.

I’m pleased to say that private investigator David Braddock returns in this excellent, dry, witty and clever ‘whodunnit”. Braddock is a fantastic character; both ambiguous and always entertaining. There are some serious undertones wrapped into the twisted and often humorous thriller; Restless Earth to me is a mystery as much as it is a running commentary on humans all over the globe, from Thailand to Britain. As the blurb of the book so truthfully puts it:

“It’s not always easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys. And sometimes, there are no good guys.”

As I said , Braddock himself is an ambiguous character. Dolan’s four main characters and plotlines are all excellent creations, as well as the minor characters. From the first conversation between Braddock and the memorable Nang until the end you have excellent dialogue, sharp writing, intelligent plotting and everything perfectly woven into each other – which makes for a rewarding and rich reading experience.

For fans of his previous work (and fans of the genre in general) Dolan has inserted some great insider jokes and literary references. Not a chapter goes by where you won’t smile and think.

I can’t go into the plot as I do not want to give away the game for those who want to read previous books. Trust me, this is worth reading. Dolan and his books are literary highlights for me every year. Highly recommended.

Four men scattered across the globe. . .
One seeks pleasure
One seeks purpose
One seeks redemption
And one seeks revenge.

A wind is howling around the skyscrapers of New York, through the battlefields of Iraq, and into the bustling streets of Bangkok. It carries with it the fates of these four men: men bound together by chance and history.
Which of them – if any – will survive the tempest?

Bloggers Bash: We Can’t Stop Chatting….



Every Sunday evening between 7 pm and 8 pm (BST) bloggers from across the globe unite and take part in the Bloggers Bash Blog Bash Chat using the hashtag #BlogBashChat

It’s an hour of introductions, learning, connecting with fellow bloggers, and fun. The Bash Chat following is growing and the engagement is incredible. One of our dedicated bloggers is Australian and gets up at 5 am his time just to take part!

We don’t want you to miss out on this fun interaction. It’s just an hour out of your Sunday (which goes very fast!), but the possibility of finding answers to your blogging questions, making new friends, and discovering alternative blogs to follow is worth your time.


If you’ve never attended a Blogger Bash event before then you’re in for a treat. Created by Sacha Black and…

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