Monday, 12 November 2018

My Grandfather's Eyes - Chilling Psychological drama


I have never been beautiful.  And, of course, my appearance has deteriorated over time.  It is something I have become used to.  When I look in the mirror these days, and that is not very often, I am not surprised by what I see.  Neither am I disappointed, as I have given up hope of catching myself in a good light. 
Let me tell you what I see.  First, the shape of my head is noticeably irregular, with a medium-sized bump just in front of the crown.  Next, my forehead is lined.  It always has been, ever since I can remember. People used to say I must be a deep thinker.  Only some of them were being kind.   Now the lines are deeper, but the traces they follow date back to my school days, when they did not go unnoticed by bullies.  My eyes are large and green; some might say they are intelligent eyes, that they are insightful or sincere.  I have learned not to set much store by what other people say. 
I have meagre lashes, but it is usually boys who have the lavish kind.  My nose is straight and my mouth is full.  My hair is mousy, fine and thin.   When I was young, I wanted thick, straight blond hair, like my friend Lizzy’s.  We all want what we cannot have.
There is perhaps nothing so far to complain about very much, you might say.  And so I come to my moles: the crawling growths that spread themselves over the side of my face and the underside of my jaw.  If you could see me now, you would probably recoil. I have noticed that even the most educated, the most sympathetic person has difficulty in hiding the innate disgust my moles excite in them.  Ah, yes.  Disgust is not too harsh a word, I can assure you.  And the others? Those who make no attempt to hide their feelings towards me?  They cannot help themselves, but stare in horror at what they see, as they sit on the bus clutching their shiny, plastic bags full of new things or as they push their wholesome choices around the supermarket.   Young children are the worst.  I do not admire their honesty, as their obsequious parents do. 
My moles. My nevi.  How can I describe them?  I should say they are more or less dark brown in colour, although there are two above my left eye that are noticeably lighter.  My husband called them Castor and Pollux.  All have a rubbery, soft texture and, apart from one large mole near my ear, are hairless.  The one near my ear has short, thick hairs that bristle untidily.  My husband had a name for this one too.  He loved me too much.  He couldn’t help it.  None of us can choose whom we love.
What more can I tell you?   That I am ambivalent to my nevi? That Castor and Pollux are my favourites?  That I like them for being different?  You may think this kind of reasoning strange and I would not blame you.  I can only explain it as a truth, a principle that has grown inside me as my moles have swelled and spread; have become part of my life.   Now, I am not sure I could be separated from them. 

There was a time when I believed my mother loved me. A time when she called me beautiful and, because I was not yet self-aware, I let myself be preened and cosseted in exchange for the comfort I felt from the warm glow of her approval.  I did not notice how she suffered. I did not recognise the mortification that lay beneath her smile.
But wait a moment, a story must start somewhere nearer its beginning, and so I will go back and show myself more clearly to you, before I reveal what I have done.  I expect that you will judge me.

But I do not care.

Click here to view on Amazon

Saturday, 10 November 2018

New crime/mystery by B A Spicer

Alice isn't a conventional woman.  And she isn't a conventional detective.

Tall, slim, and some would say elegant in an old fashioned way, she has never married.  Her vocation as a policewoman is all consuming.

Long ago and far away, there was a man she cared for and who cared for her.  She sometimes remembers him, especially when she is in the company of her daughter, Jude.  It occasionally occurs to Alice that Harald will appear out of the blue, and she wonders what would happen if he did.  But for the most part her work absorbs her, sometimes too much.

Climbing the ranks to Detective Chief Inspector was not easy.  However, it was an undeniable fact that Alice Candy had a talent that could not be ignored, and finally she settled in a medium-sized town called Allarton, in the East of England, close to her daughter and her new husband.

Teamed with Detective Sergeant Will Brady, a bright, meticulous and loyal officer, they make a formidable duo.

Now in her early forties, Alice feels a calm brought on by personal and financial security.  She observes the world and the people she knows with a rye understanding, free of cynicism or judgement.  She is content.

Excitement comes when a case arrives on her desk that ignites her senses to a certain anomaly or incongruity in an otherwise obvious crime.  Then, with Will at her side, she dives into a world of subterfuge and lies, sniffing out clues that will lead her to success.

In her latest challenge, a simple hit and run turns out to be anything but...

Available in paperback or as an ebook.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

We all want the same things, don't we?

Once we are fed and watered, once the bills are paid, once we feel stable and secure, we look for something more.  A challenge of some sort, perhaps.

And as we become more sure of ourselves, more accomplished, we gravitate towards others to share something greater.

We can call it Love, but Love has many forms.  And many obstacles stand in its way.

Set in France, and with a definite French flavour, A Life Lived Twice follows a group of surprisingly disparate characters whose lives are linked in unexpected ways.  They are intelligent people, capable of making intelligent choices.  But choices bring unforeseen consequences, don't they?

A Life Lived Twice is FREE for one day only (9th November).

Click here to view on Amazon

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Humorous Books by Bev Spicer

Colourful, Fun, and Full of Joie de Vivre!

There are three books in the humorous Bev and Carol series:

One Summer in France (just 99p for your kindle and £6.49 in paperback) is the first adventure, which takes place, you guessed it, in the South of France, and is based on the author's experiences during a study break from university.  I wanted to write a humorous memoir about the wonderful sense of freedom and possibility we all feel when we are just starting out in life as independent people.  It's true that I had some very strange experiences but I had a lot of fun too.  What's more, I learned a great deal about France, its language and its culture.
Although Carol is an entirely fictitious character, the friendship we share in the book is real.  We don't always agree on everything, and like to get the better of one another from time to time.  Bev and Carol are certainly very different characters.  They see the world in very different ways.
One Summer in France has received many positive reviews from readers who perhaps remember a similar time in their lives, when they took so many things for granted that, in adult life, seem to have all but disappeared.
You can download a free sample to your kindle by following the link below.  Why not relax for a while in the company of Bev and Carol in One Summer in France (two girls in a tent).  I hope it puts a smile on your face and takes you back to a less complicated, more spontaneous time:

Bunny on a Bike is the second in the Bev and Carol series. This time, the author recounts her real life experiences as a Playboy croupier in London in the 80s.  Bev and Carol are eager to stick together after university and find the prospect of the graduate jobs available too dull to contemplate.  They see an advertisement in the newspaper for blackjack dealers and apply.
I think you will be surprised at some of the realities of the less than glamorous lives they lead, always looking on the bright side even when faced with landlords from hell and stringent training schedules at Victor Lownes' mansion in Tring.
Bunny on a Bike has the same light touch as One Summer in France.  It's a humorous memoir which follows the lives of two girls thrown into 80s London, and gives an impression of what happened behind the doors of the Playboy casino.
Again, you can download a free sample by following the link below, where the Bev and Carol adventure continues:

Stranded in the Seychelles is the third and most recently published volume in the Bev and Carol series, although I do have plans for a further book at some point.
Our intrepid heroines have had a few years apart after leaving Playboy and have met up once more for a new adventure, this time in the Seychelles as teachers.
Stranded in the Seychelles is based once more on the author's real life experiences as a teacher on the tiny island of Ste. Anne in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and includes lots of local colour and cultural insights along the way.  Bev and Carol are older, but not particularly wiser.  They savour this new opportunity to duck out of the lives they are leading in England and jet off to somewhere altogether more exotic.  Of course it's not all plain sailing and, as usual, the girls have to cope with the unexpected, such things as giant spiders, insect infested cornflakes, heart-stopping bus rides and accident prone cleaners.  But they enjoy their experiences and learn a lot about expat society.
Stranded in the Seychelles will make you laugh just as much as One Summer in France and Bunny on a Bike, but this time, Bev and Carol are faced with rather more sobering choices from time to time, in between the absurd and the hilarious.
Follow the link below to download a free sample and find out what they get up to this time:

So, that's it for my humorous books.  If you would like to look at my other books, please go back to my home page and select Novels by B A Spicer.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Free on 30th October - One Day Promotion

What would you do if you woke up in a dark cellar, tied and silenced, with no memory of how you got there and no clue why?

...and, after your mind had calmed, you became aware that, on the other side of the door, someone was watching you?

What readers say:

"LOCKED AWAY provides an engrossing reading experience." 

"Absolute must read.  Loved how the chapters were short and full of twists and turns."

"For anyone wanting a quick, tense read about abduction and mind games, then I strongly recommend Locked Away."

Click here to view on Amazon

(Also available in paperback.)

Thursday, 25 October 2018

I Get It

Reading through some of the one-star reviews of this book I was interested to note that a lot of people, twelve percent in fact, left comments like: 'ramblings of a teenage drunk', 'pile of rubbish', and my personal favourite: ' a blasphemy to the beauty of the English language'.  It was variously described as dull, tedious, repetitive, and lacking any kind of plot.  But the most frequent complaint was that it was disappointing.

When a book is described as a classic it's difficult not to expect something great.  Something that will perhaps change your perspective on the world.  If you read it, looking for this something and fail to find it, then, yes, it will surely disappoint.

It's happened to me and it's happened to you (I'm assuming).  We've all been disappointed by classic reads at some time or other.

The Catcher in the Rye is just one of those books.  You love it or hate it.  You find treasure or you don't.  You get it, or you don't get it.

This one, I got.

Now I have to say what it is that I 'got'.  To the best of my ability.  Which, I can tell you, is a daunting prospect.  It really is.

If you've read J D's classic, you'll notice the style of the last paragraph - a poor mimic, I'll admit.  But the style of writing is what first strikes the reader.  Here we have a seventeen-year-old boy telling us in 1950s teenage language, about his situation - he's at a prestigious boarding school, about to be kicked out after 'flunking' his exams.  And he's talking directly to us, first person, up close and personal.

I could describe the plot, but if you want an excellent summary you can visit Wikipedia.  I'd recommend it, especially after you've read the book, for all the snippets of peripheral information about the author.

What I want to say, to try to say, is why this book is one of my all-time best reads.

It's true that Holden Cauldfield (I love the strangeness of his name) is lazy, reactive, immature...but he is also hanging on to what he sees as 'real', what is not 'phony'.  His thoughts and interactions with other people are often superficial, his conversations repetitive, but mixed in amongst the simmering chaos of his life there are moments of astounding beauty.  It's like walking through a field of mud and finding something precious.  I don't mean something like a diamond or a wallet.  Rather consider coming across a baby bird, injured and near death.  Holden would pick it up, carry it away, make it well, if he could. 

Now, I've made the book sound soppy, but it's not.  True, it's nostalgic.  It takes you back.  Makes you remember feelings you had as a child growing up.  Holden Cauldfield reminds you that in a world of  fixed pathways through education, to a career and happiness, there are stop-offs along the way that blow any plan out of the water.  For him, it's where the duck go when the pond freezes over, the essay he wrote about his dead brother's baseball glove, the record he bought (and accidentally broke) for his sister Phoebe, or the trips to the Museum of Natural History when he was younger (he notices small changes and wishes things had stayed exactly the same).  These moments stand out amongst the mud and daily grind to nowhere like a beating heart.

As he gravitates towards home and his beloved younger sister, Phoebe, he follows a young boy walking carelessly in the gutter along a busy street.  He feels the boy's parents are unaware of the danger he is in.  Then, the boy begins to sing:

"If a body catch a body coming through the rye,"

which strikes Holden with its simple joy.  It also leads him to formulate a plan - a plan based on his understanding of the above line, which is a misquote from Burn's poem.  Holden sees himself standing at the edge of a field of rye where children are playing and shouting near a cliff edge.  As they run and play, unaware of the danger, Holden will stand guard and catch them when they fall.

I must admit, as I came to the final pages I wondered how on earth there could be a satisfying ending to a book that covers a three-day period in the life of a moody teenager.  The final paragraph, for me, is genius.  See what you think.

Whether or not you get the punch to the stomach and the shock to brain from these moments of insight, of clarity and simplicity, is probably down to how you are wired.  I don't want to sound smug or superior - there's plenty I don't get about a whole plethora of things.  I just can't help being amazed by this particular book and grateful to J D for writing it.

Here's the link if you want to give it a try:  Catcher in the Rye

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Review: The Legacy of Beauregarde by Rosa Fedele

Five stars from me!

If you like authors such as Daphne du'll love The Legend of Beauregarde

I read The Red Door before being gifted an ARC copy of Rosa Fedele’s new novel, which, I must say, is well worth a read if you enjoy strong characters and an intriguing plot.  The style is on the literary side – which I love.  Skilled and imaginative use of language add an extra layer of delight in my opinion. 
The Legacy of Beauregarde is moody and, at times, sinister.  There are touches of the paranormal and shades of horror.  As you read, you feel as though you are sinking into the history of the place, its houses, and its characters (some of whom are not at all what they seem at first), wrap themselves around you.
It’s true that there is a lot to take in, and that you need a sharp mind to keep up, but some of my favourite books make me work hard in order to repay my efforts tenfold.  And why not?  That's the way a good book draws you in.
I must say also that the artwork scattered throughout the book, even in the ebook version, is captivating, and certainly helps to enhance the reader’s experience.
Would I read it again?  This is one of my personal yardsticks in judging the quality of a novel.  And the answer is yes!  In fact, I’m looking forward to it.