Review: “In the Shadow of Light” by Elaine Orr

“In The Shadow of Light” by Elaine L. Orr is a dramatic read that will pull on your heart strings as it illustrates the human suffering caused by the recently so strictly implemented separation policy for immigrants and their children in the US.

Headlines and scare politics about immigrants – these days as well in the past – can easily turn people and humans into numbers. And it can turn other people into unfeeling robots. Orr does a fantastic job at tipping those scales back to more realistic and a humanitarian appraisal of the situation.

Orr created excellent characters with relatable and likeable traits that allow us to feel and understand the problem, yet she has woven it into a dramatic and suspenseful and entertaining novel.

Corozón, her mother, and little brother Pico have left Honduras to seek asylum in the U.S. Grandfather Tito and her father Manuel saved the life of Colonel Bill, an American soldier, many years ago. It’s probably part of the reason Corozón’s father was murdered. They believe they are fleeing to safety, but don’t know about the family separation policy. While they flee northward, the daughter and friend of the DOJ employee who has become the face of the policy attend a birthday party. But they don’t make it home. Someone wants young Kyra’s father to feel the pain of the separated families. Thanks to a nighttime photo snapped by a freelancer, Corozón’s terror at having her little brother pried from her resonates with many. A Washington Post reporter joins Colonel Bill to try to find the family. But the DOJ isn’t helping nearly as much to get young Kyra released. Two families, different circumstances, scary options.

Highly recommended.

Connect with Elaine:
Amazon UK



Elaine L. Orr authors three mystery series, including the eleven-book Jolie Gentil cozy mystery series, which is set at the Jersey shore. “Behind the Walls” was a finalist for the 2014 Chanticleer Mystery and Mayhem Awards. First in her three-book River’s Edge mystery series was “From Newsprint to Footprints,” followed by “Demise of a Devious Neighbor.” Iowa nice meets murder. The second River’s Edge book was a Chanticleer finalist in 2017. “Tip a Hat to Murder” is set in rural Illinois, and is the first of the Logland mystery series.

Elaine also writes plays and novellas, including the one-act, “Common Ground,” published in 2015. Her novella, “Biding Time,” was one of five finalists in the National Press Club’s first fiction contest, in 1993. “Falling into Place” is a novella about family strength as a World War II veteran rises to the toughest occasion. “In the Shadow of Light” is the fictional story of Corozón and her family, who are separated at the U.S./Mexico border.

Elaine conducts presentations on electronic publishing and other writing-related topics. Nonfiction includes “Words to Write By: Getting Your Thoughts on Paper” and “Writing in Retirement: Putting New Year’s Resolutions to Work.” She also presents online classes about writing and publishing.

A member of Sisters in Crime, Elaine grew up in Maryland and moved to the Midwest in 1994. Elaine graduated from the University of Dayton with a BA in Political Science and from the American University with an MA in Government. She worked for GAO and the National Academy of Public Administration for many year, and for two Iowa members of the U.S. House of Representatives — one Republican and one Democrat.

Elaine did some journalism course work at the University of Maryland and has taken fiction courses from The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival, and Georgetown University’s Continuing Education Program. She is a regular attendee at the Magna Cum Murder in Indianapolis and the Book Bums Workshop in West Liberty, Iowa.



Narbeth Book Fair at the Quees Hall Sat 22 of September 2018

Narberth Book Fair 2018

Saturday, 22 September 2018 – Presented by: The Queens Hall

The fair offers a showcase for independent publishers and authors from Wales and further afield, who will be in attendance, ready to chat, sign and sell their books. All genres are covered.

There will also be pre-booked private “meet the editor” sessions for aspiring authors (see events for full details) and talks and discussions in the spacious first-floor balcony room (access by stairs and by lift).

There will be a children’s corner again, where children’s authors will be happy to talk and read with a younger audience.

Occupying the ground floor of the Queen’s Hall, along with the book fair, is the Sospan Fach cafe for anyone seeking refreshments and our book fair coincides with the Narberth Food Festival, so you are guaranteed not to go hungry.

I’ll be there next to Carmarthen author Lisa Shambrook

You can find more details about the 40+ authors attending on the book fair’s excellent website, as well as more about the events planned for the day.

Wendy White/Sara Gethin

Review of Not Thomas

if you’d told me that I’d sit, totally rapt, reading a book written in the voice of a five year old child, seeing that dreadful world through his eyes and from his unique perspective – well, I really wouldn’t have believed you… a unique and unforgettable experience. (from my review of Not Thomas)

Jo Verity

Review of A Different River

From the moment Miriam stands by the toilet with a box in her hands, the author had hooked me… I loved the twists and turns of the story, Miriam’s unconventional decision on how to “escape”, her dealing with the various family issues, her relationships both romantic and otherwise – and the fact that what looks like the perfect outcome can still sometimes leave you with the feeling that maybe it isn’t enough. (From my review of A Different River)

Thorne Moore

Review of The Unravelling

Guest post on Shadows – slightly spooky?

Review of Shadows

Extract from Shadows

This was one of those stories with a bit of everything – strong and sympathetic characters, well drawn and sometimes complex emotions and relationships, real shocks and surprises, a real edge of darkness and evil, a wonderful sense of place with superb descriptions, a touch of romance, a cracking story. (From my review of Shadows)

Jessie Cahalin

Guest post – Back to the 70s, You Can’t Go It Alone

Review of You Can’t Go It Alone

The anchor for the characters’ stories is Delfryn itself – vividly drawn, described in the kind of detail that enable the reader to walk its paths and experience its beautiful scenery through the eyes of its characters through the changing seasons… the author has a real feeling for character and place, and it really shines through her work. (From my review of You Can’t Go It Alone)

Alison Layland

Review of Someone Else’s Conflict, with author interview

Far more than its parts, (this book) exposes the waste and futility of fighting for a cause, the tragic effects of a civil war that can’t be won… an excellent read, a real page turner that confounds your initial expectations. (From my review of Someone Else’s Conflict)

Susi Osborne

Introducing Susi Osborne, on publication day for Angelica Stone

Review of Angelica Stone

I’d read the description, and I was expecting “laughter and tears” – but this book was a dark and delicious surprise from beginning to end, and really not what I was expecting at all… refreshingly different, and so very well written. (From my review of Angelica Stone)

Other features and spotlights on Being Anne

Spotlight – Living in the Shadows by Judith Barrow

Guest post – The House With Old Furniture by Helen Lewis

Spotlight – Remember No More by Jan Newton

Narberth Book Fair 2018

Saturday, 22 September 2018 – Presented by: The Queens Hall

The Book Fair, the inspired brain-child of author Judith Barrow in 2013, began life in St Mary’s Church House, in Tenby as the first event of the Tenby Arts Festival.  It has grown, year by year, ever more successful, with more and more authors eager to participate, so that now we need bigger premises and longer hours and we have found the ideal home in the Queen’s Hall in Narberth, with ample room for book stalls, talks and workshops.

The fair offers a showcase for independent publishers and authors from Wales and further afield, who will be in attendance, ready to chat, sign and sell their books. All genres are covered.

There will also be pre-booked private “meet the editor” sessions for aspiring authors (see events for full details) and talks and discussions in the spacious first-floor balcony room (access by stairs and by lift).

There will be a children’s corner again, where children’s authors will be happy to talk and read with a younger audience.

Occupying the ground floor of the Queen’s Hall, along with the book fair, is the Sospan Fach cafe for anyone seeking refreshments and our book fair coincides with the Narberth Food Festival, so you are guaranteed not to go hungry.

The fair will be open from 9:30am till 4pm. Entry to the fair is FREE, as are the talks. There is a charge for the Meet the Editor sessions, which must be booked in advance.

Contact us:
or write to: Narberth Book Fair, Saddleworth House, Carmarthen Road, Kilgetty, SA68 0XX

Review “The Price of Freedom” by Alex Domokos with Rita Y. Toews

The Price of Freedom AudiobookMemoirs will always be a personal account of a life and therefor naturally miss out areas of lesser interest. That’s the author’s prerogative.
I missed more insights into the youth of the author, spent in WW2 Hungary. Later on there is far too much detail about his life in Communist Hungary, a truly terrible period in his life and so I can appreciate the unbalance. At the same time, I was beginning to skip forward suring that section,
I would have liked to learn more about the WW2 part and felt the general statements about how Hungarian knew little about what Hitler stood for difficult to comprehend, equally the passage about the homosexual communist party official, whose ‘perversions’ gave the author an advantage.
I found it hard to listen to a female voice narrating a man’s story in the first person, which kept me at a distance to the story often.
All that said, there are great passages and informative and thought-provoking snippets.


Blurb: Alexander Domokos wrote this memoir of his years during and after the Second World War with two purposes in mind. He wanted to allow his daughter a glimpse into his past and to enlighten others about the tragedy of his homeland, Hungary.

“I remember how impatient I was with my father when he tried to talk of his youth. I also swept aside my mother’s attempts to tell me of her tragic childhood. Many years after their deaths I was fortunate to read their letters and notes, only then realizing my irreplaceable loss: their view of the world at the turn of the century. Most of their experiences are lost to me forever. Often it is only after loss that we realize value. I would like to spare my daughter that irreplaceable loss.”

Domokos believes that Hungary’s sufferings were due in large part to the unjust peace settlements after the First World War.

“As Hungarians, we were driven into the arms of Hitler by the West’s indifference to our legitimate grievances….We had witnessed horrible atrocities committed by the Communists in 1919 after the First World War. Drifting into an alliance with Germany appeared at that time to be the lesser evil.”

Even after the Second World War, Hungary underwent more suffering.

“In 1945, while the West was basking in the glory of victory, our abandoned country began a new struggle for survival. My family’s hardship was not an exception but rather the norm in that forsaken part of Europe. For us, 1945 was not the end of the war but the beginning of a new kind of struggle.”

Even though the West was the victor in the Second World War, Dokomos is asking that the people of the West open their hearts and look more deeply into the effects of the war. He hopes to challenge the victor’s one-sided view in seeing themselves as the sole protector of righteousness.

Review: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky

4327066“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky has been on my shelves for a long time, bought because of the cute title but it never seemed the right time to open it since then.
The premise of a coming-of-age story with a geeky boy who learns from some colourful other characters seemed just too worn and so I had admittedly not the greatest expectations.
On holiday I finally got to it and got sucked into it pretty quickly. While the book has indeed little to offer in terms of innovation, its characters carry it off easily long past the average marker on my scale. The author engaged me with his charming portrayal of Charlie and his conflicted love life, his love for literature and his oddball friends: teachers, gays, outcasts and even some regular ones.
The narrative voice is likeable immediately and even the fact that I waited for a long time to figure out where the book was going, it never occurred to me to put it down.
Warm , affecting and affectionate, quirky in right measures and thoughtful this has stayed with me for some time after. Just lovely.

In 2012 this was made into a movie with Chbosky as director.

Blurb: The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Stephen Chbosky

Stephen Chbosky grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the University of Southern California’s Filmic Writing Program. His first film, The Four Corners of Nowhere, premiered at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win Best Narrative Feature honors at the Chicago Underground Film Festival.

He is the recipient of the Abraham Polonsky Screenwriting Award for his screenplay Everything Divided as well as a participant in the Sundance Institute’s filmmakers’ lab for his current project, Fingernails and Smooth Skin. Chbosky lives in New York.

For more information, please see…

5 Questions Writers and Readers Should Be Asking About Brexit

What will we be reading after Brexit?
Most commentators are of the opinion that when things go badly economically, we tend to seek solace in fantasy. Also, misery memoirs went gangbusters in the last economic boom, so what does that tell you?

Tara Sparling writes

5 Questions Writers and Readers Should Be Asking About Brexit

It’s no secret around this parish that, despite occasionally unprofessional lefty leanings, I read the Financial Times. I have many, many reasons for doing this, none of them book-related, but given its business-oriented viewpoint, occasionally the FT will come up with a cracker of an article that neatly encapsulates the publishing industry in a fresh way.

A few weeks ago an article by Alex Clark called “How the financial crisis changed our reading habits (behind paywall) did just that, asking the question: “beyond the business of making books what effect did the 2008 crash have on the books we actually read?”

The article then ran through a neat timeline of reading trends in the past decade, starting with the fantasy and modern takes on the quest story which dominated in 2009 from Stephenie Meyers, Dan Brown and Stieg Larsson.

Brown and Larsson could be said to have come from…

View original post 1,024 more words

Latest reviews for my #cosymystery “Over my dead body: Murder at #Eurovision “

5.0 out of 5 stars           *****

Bebe Bollinger is a terrific creation.

I just finished reading this in time for Eurovision this evening, and it’s certainly put me in the mood for it. Bebe Bollinger is a terrific creation…an adventuress, survivor, party diva and often-misled crime solver. Who could not identify with a lady of a certain age going at life – and Eurovision – with a verve and opportunism of someone half her age? And all fuelled by litres of the fizzy stuff… Divine, darlings, and cheers!

5.0 out of 5 stars        *****

A very enjoyable read

Singer BeBe Bollinger is back to work, professionally and in her new found talent—as amateur detective. And I’m delighted to see her back as I read through the pages of this entertaining story. The story begins with a singing contest and murder, with a billion people watching. It then moves to six weeks earlier with BeBe coming off a job from a cruise ship and having just bought an expensive sports car. We are introduced to the well-cast characters: Beth the not-so talented detective from an earlier crime that BeBe helped solve, Fred BeBe’s agent and lesbian Beth’s ex-lover, the daughter with few boundaries, Helena, and Tom a Danish friend from the cruise ship.
As the beginning scenes unfold, BeBe’s attention goes to Eurovision contest and the upcoming competition. When a mysterious “accident” occurs BeBe catches wind from Tom that it might be more devious than just an accidental mishap. When he convinces her to enter, she decides it would be a good opportunity to gain some attention with the press coverage already focusing on the event and to put her detective skills to use. It would be a good way to heighten her comeback. I love the set-up and want to know how the story will unfold, a sign of a well-crafted mystery novel. No spoilers here but suffice it to say that it’s well worth the read to follow the delightfully written twists and turns as BeBe does it again! It’s rare I leave a read smiling but that’s exactly what this character does to me. Grab a copy and enjoy.

Review of two books on #Eurovision: “Eurovision!” by Chris West and “The Good, The Bad and the Wurst” by Geoff Tibbals

As my latest novel “Over My Dead Body” is set at Eurovision and I’m a fan of the show it comes as no surprise that I received the above mentioned books as present for my last birthday.

The Eurovision Song Contest” or short Eurovision is a European Musical Extravaganza established in 1956. It has cult status for some but in the western main stream has a reputation for cheesy pop music and outrageous staging and costumes. I’ve been a fan since the 1980s and harbour a love-hate relationship with it, too, due to the differing quality of the songs. In my latest book, former singing legend Bebe Bollinger, travels to the Contest of 2013 in Malmo to seek a career revival and solve a couple of mysterious incidents in the run up to the event.

Here are my reviews of the Eurovision books:

“The Good, The Bad and the Wurst” by Geoff Tibballs recalls the 100 craziest moments from the Eurovision Song Contest, and it’s pretty much that: 100 anecdotes in chronological order. To the person who follows Eurovision there’s little new: Alleged vote rigging, crazy costumes, drag queens and bearded ladies, the stories are told every year on TV when the contest is on and during every Euro-retro documentary.
The book follows the British TV / Terry Wogan tradition of making fun of the contest, and while I don’t take offence at the odd joke, it frequently crosses the line into cheap insult and sarcasm for the sake of it.
The shortness of the individual stories often leaves us wondering why they’re being told, as background information is rarely given to go beyond the slagging off purpose.
For those who miss Terry Wogan and the more acerbic tone of his last years of commentating for the BBC, this may well be fun to read, but it lacks accompanying images of frocks and props, so this will only work for those (like the author himself) who have seen the contests.
Admittedly witty in many places this is, to me, a wasted opportunity and an undignified bitchfest. Not recommended.

“Eurovision” by Chris West is a more politically flavoured book where the Eurovision Song Contest often drops into the background of the wider European Picture. The Song Contest was indeed born out of the European-spirited funding days of the EU and it’s predecessors and so telling the history of both EU and ESC in parallel has it’s legitimate reason.
Well researched in both, Eurovision and European history, this is actually really interesting (at least for the ESC fan). Seeing for example Yugoslavia’s participation in the wider political context or examining the discrepancy between popular music and those offered to the contest – there are many interesting questions asked.



Review of Helen Hollick’s “Pirates: Truth and Tales”

“Pirates: Truth and Tales” by Helen Hollick is a marvellous book about Pirates. As historian and writer of many historical Pirate books Hollick knows her subject matter, and it shows.
The book starts with time tables and chapters on frequent mis-perceptions of Pirate Life, such as the romantisation of Pirates as adventurers rather than thieves and terrorists.
Hollick intersperses her chapters on all aspects of pirates with excerpts from her own novels, which illustrate her otherwise more factual writing.

From particular pirates, historical figures and events to pirate laws and habits, the author covers pretty much everything I could have thought of.

With its delightful blend of fiction and fact the book is as entertaining as it is informative.
Having attended some lectures on Pirates as part of a Literature festival and the Welsh Year of the Sea, I can commend Helen for her knowledge and as reader I must applsu her ability of concise and engaging writing. Hugely enjoyable. 

I was delighted to be hosting Helen for the launch of this book earlier this year and also on several other occasions on this blog. 

Pirates: Truth And Tales published in paperback in the UK July 2018 and November 2018 in the US.

Buy the Books: Amazon Author Page (Universal Link)


Short Biog. Helen Hollick 2 Helen Medium

Helen moved from London in 2013 and now lives with her family in North Devon, in an eighteenth century farmhouse. First published in 1994, her passion now is her pirate character, Captain Jesamiah Acorne of the nautical adventure series, The Sea Witch Voyages. Helen became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (UK title A Hollow Crown) the story of Saxon Queen, Emma of Normandy. Her novel Harold the King (US title I Am The Chosen King) explores the events that led to the 1066 Battle of Hastings. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, set in the fifth century, is widely praised as a more down-to-earth historical version of the Arthurian legend. She has written three non-fiction books, Pirates: Truth and Tales, Smugglers in Fact and Fiction (to be published 2019) and as a supporter of indie writers, co-wrote Discovering the Diamond with her editor, Jo Field, a short advice guide for new writers. She runs the Discovering Diamonds review blog for historical fiction assisted by a team of enthusiastic reviewers.

Helen is published in various languages.

Sign up for Helen’s Newsletter and be entered for an annual prize draw.

One name ‘picked from the hat’ in December will win a £10/$10 Amazon gift voucher.

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Twitter: @HelenHollick

Discovering Diamonds:


The Luck of the Weissensteiners – the portrayal of life for “regular” people during the Nazi occupation

Books about life during the Third Reich used to be of 3 types: war stories, spy thrillers, or the tragic tales of the victims. In recent decades authors have begun tackling the portrayal of life for “regular” people during the Nazi occupation of most of Europe — They are now joined by
The Luck of the Weissensteiners, which takes place in Bratislava in Slovakia.
This fascinating book tells of the interwoven fates of two families. Greta, the daughter of the Jewish (but assimilated) Jonah Weissensteiner marries the gentile Wilhelm Winkelmeier and the couple begins their married life on the farm of Wilhelm’s stern relatives – Johanna and Benedikt. All of the characters are well-portrayed, but I found Johanna to be the most interesting, with her ever-shifting, ambiguous attitude toward the Jews in her life, paralleled by her capacity for both tremendous warmth and terrible coldness.

Though, as some reviewers have noted, the novel often drifts into history lesson mode, I was not bothered by that. Often when reading a historical novel I find myself distracted, wondering what was actually happening at the time, so I was pleased to have Mr. Fischer tell me.…/…/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1