The Waxwork Corpse by Simon Michael #Extract #BlogTour @Simonmichaeluk @SapereBooks

Today I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on The Waxwork Corpse by Simon Michael blog tour.  This book is the fifth in the ‘Charles Holborne’ legal thriller series, set in London in the 1960’s.

Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to read the book, but I’m loving the book description and I’m hoping to read it in the not to distance future as I do enjoy a legal thriller. So in the meantime I have a very intriguing extract from the book, but first the book description…

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A deadly crime has been dragged to the surface…

London, 1965

Charles Holborne, maverick barrister, will never fit in at the Bar; he is too working-class, too Jewish and too dangerous.

But that makes him the perfect outsider to prosecute a shocking murder case which has already made its way to the press.

By chance, a body was found, dumped in a lake. It had clearly been there for some time, but the conditions in the water have meant that it was nearly perfectly preserved.

The police have managed to match this ‘waxwork corpse’ to a missing woman and if her husband — a senior judge — was the one who killed her, the scandal threatens to rock the British justice to its foundations.

The waxwork corpse is not the only thing to be raised from the past. The investigation also dredges up a violent mistake made by Charles in his youth which, if revealed, could put his own life at stake…

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Charles Holborne needs a big breakfast.

The previous night he stayed up until the small hours smoking and drinking whisky, staring at the silent, glistening city streets below him and ruminating about Sally; specifically about where she was sleeping. And with whom.

Months after their breakup and the sale of their house in Hampstead, he still thinks about her, most days and every night. The nights are the worst, alone in the tiny apartment on Fetter Lane.

So a plateful of bacon, eggs, mushrooms and toast are now absorbing the remnants of the alcohol, and Charles is starting to feel human.

Listening with half an ear to John Arlott commentating on the first few overs of the test match, he reads again the newspaper report of his beloved West Ham becoming only the second British club ever to win a European trophy. They defeated Munich 2 – 0 in the European Cup Winners Cup at Wembley the previous night, and Charles is still cross he missed it. But for the trial that he expected to continue throughout this week, he’d certainly have bought tickets.

He clears up and, a couple of hours later than usual, leaves the flat. He dodges the stationary traffic in the junction with Fleet Street and ducks under the stone arch into Sergeants Inn. It’s barely 100 yards from his front door to the Temple, which, in normal circumstances, allows him to wake at seven o’clock, wash, eat a leisurely breakfast and still be at his desk in Chambers before eight.

Charles, now thirty-nine, is as broad as an ox, with enormously wide shoulders, great hams for arms and heavily-muscled legs, and there is a healing cut over his left eyebrow. He looks like a boxer, which is what he is — or was, until his last fight, a few months ago at the relatively late age of thirty-eight. He therefore looks slightly incongruous in a barrister’s regulation pinstriped three-piece suit under a light raincoat and battered hat. Slung over his left shoulder, in a red cloth bag closed with a white cord drawstring, are his court robes, and in his right hand he carries a briefcase with the papers from the previous day’s case.

The barred gate at the northern end of Kings Bench Walk is manned today by a young official in uniform, the polished buttons of his Inner Temple uniform gleaming in the weak sunshine.

‘Good morning, Mr Holborne,’ he says. ‘Not seen you for a while.’

‘Hello Jimmy,’ replies Charles.

Charles has known the lad since he first started working in the Temple almost a decade before. He was then employed to direct parking and pick up litter, but despite his difficult start in life (Charles knows he was sent to Borstal for a string of domestic burglaries committed as a juvenile) his cheery disposition and willingness to work hard had seen him promoted gradually through the ranks of Temple employees. Now in his mid-twenties, he’s being given greater responsibility.

Inn servants such as Jimmy are largely invisible to Charles’s colleagues. Charles, on the other hand, feels more at ease with them than he does the majority of his public school, Oxbridge-educated peers. Most of the minor functionaries in the service of the Law, the employees of the Inn, the clerks and the court staff — in short the people essential to the smooth functioning of the administration of justice — know of Charles. They know that the curly-haired Charles Holborne, Barrister at Law, started life as Charlie Horowitz, boxer and, it was rumoured, criminal. His oldest friends and associates include the Krays and others on the wrong side of the law. He’s a Jewish East End lad who had an outstanding war and “made good”, and they have a sense of proprietorial pride in him; he’s still one of them.

The feeling is mutual. Although Charles has tried to put the Krays and his law-breaking firmly behind him, he likes to pass the time of day with good honest East Enders who share his background and with whom he doesn’t have to maintain the cultivated sophistication so carefully grafted onto his Cockney roots.

Charles steps down into the Temple, and as he does so a sudden squall of rain blowing off the Thames hits him square in the face. It carries the familiar aromas of his past life as a lighterman: sea salt and effluence. Taking care on the slippery cobbles, he runs underneath the tall plane trees, their newly-emerged leaves being given an unnecessary shower, and turns the corner into Crown Office Row.

A few seconds later he is bounding up the old staircase into Chambers, creating little puffs of wood dust where his heavy tread lands on every second stair.

This has been Charles’s professional home for two years; since he was forced out of his previous chambers; since the murder of his wife; a wife who was, rather inconveniently, the daughter of the former head of those chambers.

He pushes open the door to the clerks’ room to find it as frenetic as ever. Barbara, the senior clerk, Chambers’ own Edinburgh headmistress, is conducting two calls at the same time, one phone in her hand and the other clamped to the other ear by a tweed shoulder. She looks up from the lesson in good manners being delivered to an unhelpful listing clerk and nods her welcome to Charles. Jennie and Jeremy, the symbiotic junior clerks known throughout the Temple compendiously as “JJ”, hover by the door, each with an armful of briefs to be distributed around Chambers. The last member of staff, Clive — a spotty, insouciant Cockney teenager who fills the function of office junior — appears to be elsewhere.

Three barristers juggle for positions by the pigeon-holes, skimming the miscellaneous papers received on existing cases, but in fact more interested in discovering if there might be any buried fees cheques.

‘Morning,’ says one, a pot-bellied, almost spherical, junior barrister named Knight.

‘Morning, Oliver,’ replies Charles.

A tall man with his back to Charles turns swiftly. ‘Ah, there you are, Holborne,’ he says angrily, the use of Charles’s surname signifying both formality and condescension.

‘Yes, Murray,’ replies Charles blandly, scanning his own post without looking up, but deliberately using the taller man’s first name.

Murray Dennison, Queen’s Counsel, has been a long-term thorn in Charles’s side, particularly since Charles’s practice took off. Dennison, jealous and ambitious in equal measure, and whose elevation to silk had yet to prove an unqualified success, takes Charles’s recent professional ascendancy as a personal insult. His antipathy to Charles’s working-class background, his religion, his success — in short, everything about him — had grown swiftly from arrogant antipathy to outright hatred. There’s nothing more likely to make a man hate you than his being discovered trying to cause you harm, thinks Charles. It is only a few months since Charles uncovered, and survived, Dennison’s plot to have him evicted from Chambers.

‘I assume those … people in the waiting room are your clients?’ says Dennison.

‘Mine?’ enquires Charles reasonably, in no mood for a fight. ‘I’m not expecting any.’

‘Well, they’re your lot, and they’re taking all the space. I’ve important clients arriving in half an hour.’

‘My “lot”?’ queries Charles, knowing exactly what Dennison means.

He slips out of the clerks’ room and looks through the open door to the waiting room. Sitting silently and uncomfortably on the couch and two of the chairs are four bearded men in dark suits and white shirts, all wearing skull-caps. They are unmistakeably orthodox Jews. Charles smiles and nods before withdrawing and returning to the clerks’ room.

‘Not my case; not my clients,’ he says shortly, making a final effort to avoid a confrontation.

‘Aren’t they Jews?’ says the taller man, narrowing his eyes and jutting his grey lantern jaw at Charles aggressively.

‘And because they’re Jews, they must be my clients?’ demands Charles, his temper slipping.

‘It’s not an unreasonable assumption.’

‘Accordingly, I should assume that, because you defended those two homosexuals last week, you must also be a sodomist?’ he replies with a dangerous smile. Charles knows this will provoke Dennison, a Catholic with traditional views on homosexuality.

‘Now, now, sir,’ intervenes Barbara, now off both telephone calls, ‘let’s not wind up Mr Dennison.’

Dennison approaches Charles threateningly, almost nose to nose. ‘I’ve just about had enough of you, barrow boy.’

Charles tugs his forelock and deliberately exaggerates his native Cockney accent. ‘Oh, guvnor, I’m ever so sorry if I forgot me place.’

That produces a suppressed snigger from Jeremy which serves only to increase Dennison’s fury, but before the QC can answer, Charles has switched to a thick Yiddish accent. ‘On the other hand, perhaps it’s because I’m one of the Chosen People?’

Dennison points his bony forefinger at Charles, grasping for an appropriate retort but apparently unable at that instant to decide which prejudice to pursue. He splutters for a moment, changes his mind and strides out of the room. Charles follows him to the door and calls down the corridor after him. ‘I’m so sorry you weren’t chosen, Murray.’

Dennison spins on his heel. ‘Why don’t you people go back where you came from?’

‘This is where I came from!’ shouts Charles back. ‘I can trace my English roots to 1492, Dennison. Can you?’ Charles turns to Barbara with a triumphant smile but finds her face stony.

‘You’re your own worst enemy, Mr Holborne,’ she says, shaking her head sadly.

‘Yes,’ replies Charles heavily. ‘So I’ve been told.’

‘What’re you staring at?’ Barbara says, turning on Jeremy, still by the door. ‘Go on, scoot!’ The young clerk scuttles out of the room. ‘And in case it improves your mood, sir,’ says Barbara to Charles sardonically, ‘I’ve just put a nice cheque in your pigeon-hole.’

‘Have you?’

‘That case from Fletchers, the two-handed rape at Aylesbury.’

‘Oh yes.’

‘They’ve cut you down, but not by much. Have a look at the breakdown and let me know if you want to appeal.’

Charles picks up the cheque and the other papers waiting for him and makes to leave the room.

‘Oh, by the way, sir,’ adds Barbara, ‘Clive took a call for you from a Mr Jones.’

‘Yes?’

‘Mr Jones was rather mysterious. He announced that he was new to the Met police prosecuting service and asked if you’d passed the Scotland Yard Test.’

‘And you told him that I had?’ Charles asks.

The “Scotland Yard Test” is essentially a list of barristers deemed fit to prosecute cases on behalf of the Metropolitan Police. Charles has now been instructed in several high-profile murder trials for the Crown, so it’s surprising the caller was unaware that he’s considered acceptable counsel.

‘Of course. I asked him if he had instructions for you but he seemed evasive; said he was very anxious to speak to you. Immediately. When I said you weren’t in yet, he refused to leave a number and said he’d call back at noon. He asked particularly that you’d be available to take his call.’

‘If he’s employed by the Met prosecuting service, why on earth didn’t he ask one of his colleagues if I was on the list?’

‘That’s what I thought. I did wonder if it wasn’t some sort of practical joke. And…’

‘And?’

‘Well, he sounded strange.’

‘Strange?’

Barbara shrugs and her smile has a trace of embarrassment. ‘He sounded like Bugs Bunny!’

Charles laughs. ‘Are you sure the call didn’t come from inside Chambers? This sounds like one of the junior barristers pulling your leg.’

Barbara pauses, thinking. ‘You know, I never thought of that. Maybe that’s all it was. No doubt we’ll find out soon.’

Charles climbs the stairs to the first floor where his room is situated. It is empty. Peter Bateman, his former pupil, is at court, and the third occupant of the room, a recent addition, is also absent. Charles has yet to meet her, but she represents the welcome face of change: Roberta Gough is a pupil barrister, the first woman pupil to be taken on by the set of barristers in its 150-year history.

Charles makes himself a cup of tea in the area laughingly referred to as the “upstairs kitchen” — a converted cupboard — and takes it to his desk.

His room isn’t large, but it’s well-lit and comfortable, housing three battered leather armchairs and a small coffee table as well as two leather-inlaid desks loaded with briefs and Miss Gough’s small, and still empty, desk tucked into a corner behind the door. What makes the room special to Charles is its view over the manicured lawns of the Inner Temple and thence across the Embankment to the River Thames. On more than one occasion Charles has returned from court to find a temporarily unemployed member of Chambers relaxing in one of the chairs, feet up on Charles’s desk, idly surveying the river traffic and the lawyers strolling the gardens.

Charles begins by opening his post. At noon precisely, the telephone rings.

‘Mr Jones for you, sir,’ says Barbara, and Charles, who knows his senior clerk very well, detects suppressed mirth in her voice.

‘Charles Holborne?’ asks a clear high-pitched voice.

‘Yes,’ replies Charles. ‘How can I help you?’

‘Are you available this afternoon, Mr Holborne?’

Charles smiles in recognition of Barbara’s characterisation of the voice. It’s not Bugs Bunny, but it is unusually high-pitched and, oddly for a solicitor practising in the Metropolis, Charles detects a definite North American accent.

‘Available for what?’

‘A conference in a criminal matter.’

‘For the prosecution, I assume.’

‘That is correct.’

‘Certainly. What’s the name of the case?’

‘I am sorry, but I can’t tell you that at present,’ replies the solicitor officiously.

‘Oh,’ says Charles. ‘Why on earth not?’

‘You’ll understand when we meet. Just call it “In the Matter of a Possible Prosecution”.’

‘Very well,’ replies Charles, curbing his curiosity. ‘When can you let me see the papers?’

‘I won’t be sending you any case papers. You’ll be instructed by myself and two police officers.’ Then Jones’s formality slips slightly. ‘Sorry about the mystery, Mr Holborne, but you’ll understand when we speak in person. I assure you, this is no joke.’

‘Very well,’ repeats Charles. ‘What time would be convenient to you?’

‘Your clerk said two o’clock.’

‘Fine. I’ll see you then.’

‘Good. One last thing: the matter is to be mentioned to no one at all. Both you and your senior clerk will be asked to sign the Official Secrets Act before anything of substance is discussed. Goodbye.’

Charles almost laughs as he hangs up. He wonders again if the entire conversation is a hoax. He’s never heard of a barrister being required to sign the Official Secrets Act before being instructed in a case. The whole idea is bizarre. He looks forward to the meeting, if it occurs at all, with interest.

  • Paperback: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Sapere Books (20 Dec. 2019)

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

About the author

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Simon Michael is the author of the best-selling London 1960s noir gangster series featuring his antihero barrister, Charles Holborne.  Simon writes from personal experience: a barrister for 37 years, he worked in the Old Bailey and other criminal courts defending and prosecuting a wide selection of murderers, armed robbers, con artists and other assorted villainy.  The 1960s was the Wild West of British justice, a time when the Krays, the Richardsons and other violent gangs fought for control of London’s organised crime, and the corrupt Metropolitan Police beat up suspects, twisted evidence and took a share of the criminal proceeds.  Simon weaves into his thrillers real events of the time, the cases on which he worked and his unusual family history in the East End.

Simon was published here and in America in the 1980s and returned to writing when he retired from the law in 2016.  The Charles Holborne series, The Brief, An Honest Man, The Lighterman, Corrupted and the latest, The Waxwork Corpse, have all garnered strong reviews for their authenticity and excitement.

Books in the series

Follow the blog tour…..

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**Bookish products** #PocketBooks @TriggerPub #MentalHealth #Love #Friendship #Hope #Happiness

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Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my thoughts on a beautiful set of pocket books from Trigger Publication. Before I share my thoughts here’s a bit about Trigger publication.

Who are Trigger Publications?

Trigger Publishing is an altruistic mental health and wellbeing publisher, recognised within the industry and beyond for its innovative approach to publishing.

They share uplifting and inspirational mental health stories and publish self-help books to aid people in their own recovery, using the expertise and endorsement of highly qualified clinicians in every one of our publications.

Every transformative tale they tell – and every piece of life-saving advice they give – helps people with mental health issues not only to survive, but thrive. You can read more about them here….http://www.triggerpublishing.com/

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These pocket books are a beautifully designed series of small gift books filled with inspirational quotes from well known public figures to lift the spirit in challenging times. As the name suggests these are small books so can be transported easily if you want to keep them handy, and they will easily fit in a handbag.

Each book is a different eye popping colour, which make them visually appealing to the eye, there are four titles in the series

  • Love
  • Friendship
  • Hope
  • Happiness  

Let’s take a closer look at each book….

Friendship

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When life seems a little lonely, turn to this collection of inspirational quotes to establish stronger friendships in your life. Filled with wisdom from some of the world’s most well-known minds, the Pocket Book of Friendship offers thoughts and advice to restore, reset, and revive your day-to-day life.

‘The best part about having true friends is that you can go months without seeing them and they’ll still be there for you and act as if you’d never left! Ariana Grande

I don’t feel very much like Pooh today,’ said Pooh. ‘There there,’ said Piglet. ‘I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.’ Piglet (A.A. Milne)

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Love

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When your love life seems a little difficult, turn to this collection of inspirational quotes to rekindle the love in your life.

Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.’ Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)

I think everybody longs to be loved and longs to know that he or she is lovable and, consequently, the greatest thing that we can do is to help somebody know that they are lovedand capable of loving.’ Mr. Rodgers

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Hope

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When life seems a little bleak, turn to this collection of inspirational quotes to establish somehope in your life.

‘…don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown usthat courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.’

Michelle Obama, Keynote Address at Young African Women Leaders Forum

But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.’ MartinLuther King, I’ve Been to the Mountaintop, delivered 3 April 1968, Mason Temple

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Happiness

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When life seems a little joyless, turn to this collection of inspirational quotes to establish some happiness in your life.

I think happiness is overrated. Satisfied, at peace— those would be more realistic goals.’ Brad Pitt

 

 

Happiness is to continue to desire what one possesses. St. Augustine of Hippo

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Each book costs £5.99 but if they can put a smile on someone’s face I think they are worth every penny. The books are very sturdy and the pages are of a good quality, and not at all flimsy. Each inspirational quote has been perfectly picked for each book. Spending many years working in mental health I’m well aware these books aren’t going to cure anyone,  but Quotes can provide. a daily pick-me-up, as well as providing a sense of well being.

These books would make a lovely present for anyone going through challenging times, mums, dads, family or friends, you could choose one that best suits the person, or you could even treat them to the whole set I’m sure that who ever you give them to will appreciate these little books of wisdom.

Buying links:

Pocket Books of Love – https://amzn.to/382qQPm
Pocket Book of Friendship – https://amzn.to/2R8N6Am
Pocket Book of Hope – https://amzn.to/2NkqrzO
Pocket Book of Happiness – https://amzn.to/39ZIKEp

My thanks to the publishers for my books in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

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#TheakstonsCrime #HIF2020 #SpecialGuests @TheakstonsCrime #Harrogate #CrimeFestival

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Today I’m thrilled to be sharing details about one of the biggest book festivals in the country, The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, and wait to you see the guest list. Unfortunately I have never attended Harrogate, but I know a lot of book bloggers who rave all year round about this amazing festival. So without further ado here’s everything you need to know about this upcoming book festival.

Harrogate, 4 March 2020: The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is thrilled to announce its 2020 Special Guests at the world’s largest and most prestigious crime fiction festival.

Crime writing royalty Martina Cole, Mark Billingham, Lisa Gardner, Kathy Reichs, Elly Griffiths, Mick Herron and Michael Connelly will be appearing as part of the killer line-up curated by this year’s Festival Programming Chair and Rebus author, Ian Rankin OBE.

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From 23-26 July, Harrogate’s Old Swan Hotel – the legendary scene of Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926 – will welcome over 100 world famous authors for a celebration of the crime genre like no other.

Returning for its 18th instalment, the award-winning Festival is established as a literary phenomenon, attracting an international audience to see the best in the business and the most exciting new talent as part of an unmissable programme of creative workshops, once in a lifetime talks and unique panels.

Joining fiction titan Ian Rankin at this year’s Festival will be No. 1 bestseller Martina Cole will be sharing the stories behind her iconic career as the undisputed Queen of Crime; Kathy Reichs will introduce A Conspiracy of Bones, the riveting new thriller featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan; and Festival favourite Mark Billingham returns to Harrogate to celebrate 20 years of Tom Thorne,  one of British crime fiction’s most iconic detectives.

Michael Connelly, the international phenomenon with over 74 million copies sold worldwide, touches down in the UK to share his latest unputdownable thriller featuring veteran reporter Jack McEvoy, Fair Warning; the master of psychological suspense Lisa Gardner will give the Harrogate audience an insight into the twists and turns of When You See Me; Elly Griffiths is set to reveal the secrets behind her much-loved Dr Ruth Galloway mystery series; and Mick Herron will mark ten years of his award-winning spy sensation Slough House and introduce his new novella set in the same world, The Catch.

The Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival forms part of the diverse year-round portfolio curated by the charitable organisation Harrogate International Festivals, delivered with the mission to bring immersive and moving cultural experiences to as many people as possible.

 Ian Rankin, best-selling Rebus author, said:

 “It is for good reason that Harrogate is so well loved by authors and audiences alike, and the pressure has been on to make sure that this year lives up to its stellar reputation! But working with the Harrogate team has been a joy and we’re incredibly proud of the celebration of crime writing we have in store. Beginning with the announcement of our incredible Special Guests, the countdown to this year’s legendary long weekend is well and truly on and I can’t wait unveil the rest in April.”

 Sharon Canavar, CE of Harrogate International Festivals, said:

“Our mission at Harrogate International Festivals is to present the most unforgettable cultural experiences and year on year Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival continues to surpass all expectations. It has been a delight working with Ian Rankin and we’re thrilled that the 2020 Special Guest line-up reflects the absolute best in the crime-writing business – we look forward to revealing the full programme.”

Simon Theakston, Executive Director of Theakston, said:

“We are incredibly proud to be supporting the biggest and best crime writing festival in the world, right here in Harrogate – it is a truly unique opportunity to discover the secrets behind the genre’s greatest characters, listen to world-renowned authors and celebrate the wonderful world of crime writing. All this and the chance to enjoy a very satisfying glass of Old Peculier at the same time.”

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Booking: Rover Tickets – including Weekend, Friday and Saturday – are now on sale, along with Weekend Break Packages. For more information and to book tickets, please call +44(0)1423 562 303 or email crime@harrogate-festival.org.uk.

*** The full programme line-up will be announced on 2nd April 2020***

PRAISE FOR THEAKSTON OLD PECULIER CRIME WRITING FESTIVAL

 “The Best Crime Festival in the World and I should know I’ve done them all” Lee Child

“Harrogate is a must. With beautiful locale, smart fans and superb author interaction, it’s one of the best festivals I’ve ever attended” Michael Connelly

“Incredibly well run and such a friendly group of authors and punters” J. S. Monroe

“Turning a small corner of Yorkshire into paradise” Val McDermid

“Amazing Event, great company” Robert Scragg

“There are so many Festivals in the world, but this is the one I keep coming back to” Andrew Taylor

“The crime Festival is the best in the country, and it shows no sign of ever changing” Barry Forshaw

“Famous amongst crime readers all over the world” Ann Cleeves

“It’s the industry must-have” N J Cooper

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For further information, interview and accreditation requests, or to RSVP for the full programme celebration at Brown’s in Covent Garden on 20 May, please contact Midas Public Relations:

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About Harrogate International Festivals

‘Harrogate International Festivals’ is a charitable organisation with a mission to present a diverse year-long programme of live events that bring immersive and moving cultural experiences to as many people as possible. Delivering artistic work of national importance, the Festival curates and produces over 300 unique and surprising performances each year, celebrating world-renowned artists and championing new and up-coming talent across music, literature, science, philosophy and psychology. The HIF+ ongoing education outreach programme engages schools, young people and the local community with workshops, talks, projects and inspiring activities, ensuring everyone can experience the Festival’s world class programme and the transformative power of the arts.

Established in 1966, Harrogate International Festivals are an artistic force to be reckoned with and a key cultural provider for the North of England.

Find out more at:

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The book review café book of the month **February 2020

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Whohoo March is here, and spring is in the air! (Well hopefully it is). It feels like I have spent the WHOLE winter, coughing and sneezing, and feeling generally unwell.  I’m seriously thinking of hibernating next winter!

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As usual I’m digressing but as it’s March it means it’s time to choose my book of the month for February. I read some cracking books in February, but if I’m honest the book I’ve chosen was always going to be a contender for my book of the month, and it’s already one of my top reads of the year so far.

How do I choose my book of the month?

I choose a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page. So without further ado here’s my book of the month for February.

I Am Dust by Louise Beech

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Louise Beech is such an extraordinary author, she doesn’t just write a book; she gives each book a heart, a heart that gives life to her stories and her characters. I Am Dust takes you on a journey of magic and murder, love, ambition, jealousy and loss. It’s a ghost story entwined with a murder mystery, but it’s not the kind of ghost story that’s outside the realm of possibility, it’s plausible, heartbreaking, unnerving and creepy. You can read my full review here…I Am Dust by Louise Beech

Highly recommended

Full reviews can be found here…

The Other People by C.J. Tudor @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks #MustReads

The Guest List by Lucy Foley #BookReview #TheGuestList @lucyfoleytweets @HarperCollinsUK

Never Look Back by A. L. Gaylin #BookReview @Orionbooks

Liar Liar by by Mel Sherratt @writermels @AvonBooksUk #BookReview #BlogTour #LiarLiar

The Dilemma by B A Paris #BookReview @BAParisAuthor #TheDilemma @HQstories

The Murder House by Michael Wood #BookReview @MichaelHWood #CrimeFiction @0neMoreChapter_ #TeamDarke @HarperFiction #MustReads2020

Books I’m hoping to read in March

I have a couple of books to read for book blog tours, but apart from that I’m hoping to read some up and coming book releases, plus a couple of my own book shelf reads.

 

 

 

Ted Bundy The Only Living Witness by Stephen. G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth #nonfiction #truecrime @TheMirrorBooks #BlogTour #OnlyLivingWitness

One of the things I’m hoping to do this year is read more true crime thrillers, so today I’m sharing my first #TrueCrime read of the year, as part of the blog tour for Ted Bundy The Only Loving Witness by Stephen. G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth.    

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Ted Bundy was America’s first celebrity serial killer, and one of the most chilling enigmas in criminal history.

Handsome, boyish and well spoken, a law student with bright political prospects, Bundy was also a predator and sexual deviant who murdered and mutilated at least thirty young women and girls, many of them college coeds, but at least two as young as twelve.

Penned by two journalists in close contact with Bundy’s friends and relatives, as well as spending 150 hours interviewing him on Death Row, Ted Bundy: The Only Living Witness is the definitive account of America’s most notorious criminal, as told by the people who knew him best.

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Mirror Books (6 Feb. 2020)

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Ted Bundy is arguably one of the most infamous serial killers in America, but who was Ted Bundy? over the years the notorious serial killer has been described as many things “intelligent, handsome, wholesome and even likeable” And then there’s the flip side, “a master of manipulation, cold, calculated and emotionally immature”.  This book takes away his celebrity status and shows Bundy to be much more of an “ordinary” serial killer than the “extraordinary” one the media have led us to believe. It reveals Bundy as a violent sexual sadist, who brutally raped, tortured and killed dozens of women, a man who showed no remorse for his crimes.

Many authors have attempted to get ‘inside the head of Ted Bundy’ and failed, probably due to the fact their information has been gained from transcripts, witness statements, and here-say. Ted Bundy The Only Loving Witness by Stephen. G. Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth is unique, as along with the facts of the case, it’s based on over a 150 hours of interviews with the killer.

Like many books that I have read about Bundy, the authors explore Bundy’s childhood, his crimes (although adequately descriptive it is not gratuitously graphic) and his trials, but they also explore the complex psychology of a deeply-troubled, emotionally-unstable young man. This book reveals the complexity of his personality and unravels the multiple masks he hid behind, the complexities of his character are validated by their personal interviews with the serial killer.

One of the things I found fascinating about this book was the fact that Bundy gives a third-person rumination in his interviews, based entirely on his own experiences, thus disassociating himself from his horrendous crimes. The authors also dispels many of the myths surrounding Bundy, by providing the reader with a wealth of information that’s based on fact, and the testimony of witnesses, friends and family.  

Ted Bundy The Only Loving Witness is a chilling, well-written book, that gives the reader an insight into the nature and thoughts of a psychopath. It’s not an enjoyable read, and nor should it be considering it’s true crime, but it did make for a fascinating read. Ted Bundy described himself as “the most cold-hearted son of a bitch you’ll ever meet.” after reading this book I have to agree! A must read for those who enjoy a true crime read. 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ted-Bundy-Living-Witness-written/dp/191262480X

My thanks to the publishers for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

Check out the rest of the blog tour…..

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The Other People by C.J. Tudor @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks #MustReads

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for The Other People by C.J. Tudor. I had no expectations for this book. I picked it up meaning to read a couple of chapters, but then I read another one, and then another one, and I was hooked! You can read on for my thoughts, but first the book description…

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She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice.

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It’s not often these days I read a book in “one sitting” but that’s what happened with The Other People by C.J. Tudor. I wasn’t sure what to expect, all I knew was what I read in the book description, ‘A man travels up and down the motorway, searching for a car that took his young daughter Izzy’, which meant I had no expectations for this book. I picked it up meaning to read a couple of chapters, but then I read another one, and then another one, and I was hooked! The Other People is a thriller that captured my imagination, it’s dark, very creepy, and completely gripping.

I’m not going to rehash the plot details, for me this book held so many surprises,  I would hate to spoil the read for others. Gabe is a character that I honestly felt for, he’s a man drowning in grief, after losing his daughter Izzy, his grief is palatable, as he clutches at the proverbial straw, he’s convinced he’s seen his little girl’s face in the rear window of a car. No one believes him,  but he’s determined to keep looking come hell or high water. I felt my heart pounding as Gabe’s own investigation took him into ‘danger territory’, the tension grew tenfold, my nails took a beating as I nervously bit on them in anticipation of what lay a head.

The Other People is told from multiple POV so it’s evident all the characters have a connection someway or another, all I will say ‘is the best of luck working out how they fit together’. The author moves flawlessly between the different POV, never sharing too much, so the reader is left second guessing where the plot is headed. This book has so many elements it’s Part mystery/suspense, with a hint of the supernatural, all these elements fit perfectly together creating a creepy, thought-provoking and very clever, and riveting read. 

Like other books from the author it has a supernatural element running through it, but it’s not the main focus,  but  hell the ‘ Clickety, clack’ sent shivers down my spine, and that’s all I’m saying! Some reviews I read have compared The Other People to the The Chain . I have to disagree, this book is so much better,  the story is frighteningly plausible, the tension never waivers, and the characters are far more likeable. I found I was fully immersed and totally intrigued until the very last page. A brilliant read that has more twist and turns than a roller coaster, my recommendation? Buy yourself a copy and buckle up for a hell of a ride.

  • Print Length: 357 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (23 Jan. 2020)

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon USA 🇺🇸

My thanks to the publishers for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley #BookReview #TheGuestList @lucyfoleytweets @HarperCollinsUK

Today I’m thrilled to share my review for The Guest List by Lucy Foley, I have a feeling this book is going to be one of this year’s hits. Read on for my thoughts but first the book description…….

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A REMOTE ISLAND. AN INVITATION TO DIE FOR.

A gripping, twisty murder mystery thriller from the No.1 bestselling author of The Hunting Party.

an island off the windswept Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater.

Old friends.

Past grudges.

Happy families.

Hidden jealousies.

Thirteen guests.

One body.

The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped.

All have a secret. All have a motive.

One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .

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Welcome to the wedding of the year.…I love a wedding, the romance, the chance to wear a new outfit and enjoy celebrating the union of two people,  but I’m so glad I didn’t receive an invitation to this wedding! No sooner have the celebrations begun, the unthinkable happens, a murder of all things! I’m not sure about you but I’ve been to some weddings that might have got a touch out of hand, but I can’t say I’ve ever attended one where there’s been a murder, so much for the ‘happy ever after’ it’s more of a case of ‘death do us part’. The Guest Party is the latest offering from Lucy Foley, and what an extremely entertaining, atmospheric murder mystery this book turned out to be.

The Guest List follows the high profile wedding of television presenter Will Slater and online magazine publisher Julia Keegan, the setting is a storm-swept island off Irish coast. The island gives the book an ominous atmosphere, it’s a bleak setting and one that’s shrouded in ghostly folklore. The story moves from the present to the past and back again. It is told from the perspective of multiple characters, this could have made the plot a muddled one, but this style of storytelling works really well I thought it added tension and mystery to the read. Like any wedding there are guests that are unpleasant, in this case it’s the ushers who are a bunch of arrogant bullies, entitled private old-public schoolboys who have a dangerous pack mentality,  not the most endearing qualities I have to say, but it’s their fears, secrets, lies and amidst the drink and drug fuelled wedding festivities which add an ominous air of impending doom.

There’s a mounting sense of unease as secrets from the past mix in a cauldron of anger, resentment, guilt and jealousy. There are a number of suspects, which made this book even more enjoyable to read, I felt like Mrs Marple as I discounted one suspect after another, although I must  admit I wasn’t surprised when the killer was unveiled. Another aspect I really enjoyed about this novel is the fact the murder victim isn’t revealed until the last few chapters, the author leads you down many a dead end, before we reach that point. The Guest List is a slow burner, but like any good author Lucy Foley uses this time to give the reader the background and dynamics of the characters, which builds on the tension and suspense.  I really enjoyed this deliciously dark murder mystery, it’s one I will definitely be recommending to fans of this genre. 

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (20 Feb. 2020)

Buying link: Amazon UK 🇬🇧

My thanks to the publishers for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. 

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I Am Dust by Louise Beech #BookReview @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks #IAmDust #BookHangoverAward

Today I’m thrilled to share my review for I Am Dust by Louise Beech, a book that’s definitely going to be one of my top reads of 2020. Read on for my thoughts…..

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When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast, in a bewitching, beguiling and terrifyingly dark psychological thriller…

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Is the role of Esme Black cursed? Could witchcraft be at the heart of the tragedy? And are dark deeds from Chloe’s past about to catch up with her?

Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

And Chloe has been watching…

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For once I’m lost for words, or rather the written word, I’m not sure I can put my thoughts into a coherent review for I Am Dust by Louise Beech. So how about you just buy the book and save me the trouble of trying to write a review that can do justice to this extraordinary, haunting novel. Louise Beech is such an extraordinary author, she doesn’t just write a book; she gives each book a heart, a heart that gives life to her stories and her characters. I Am Dust takes you on a journey of magic and murder, love, ambition, jealousy and loss. It’s a ghost story entwined with a murder mystery, but it’s not the kind of ghost story that’s outside the realm of possibility, it’s plausible, heartbreaking, unnerving and creepy. 

I Am Dust moves flawlessly between the past and the present, Chloe and two friends, Ryan and Jess are attending a Summer youth theatre group and decide as a group to experiment with an Ouija board, events spiral out of control, friendships are tested, and the horror of those days will continue to haunt Chloe into adulthood. These scenes are so powerful and hauntingly creepy, they crackle with anticipation, horror and an increasing sense of dread. Fast forward to the present and Chloe is working at The Dean Wilson theatre as an usher, when she is told Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years, a show that never made it past its fourth performance when the show’s star was found dead in her dressing room. Chloe should be elated, but instead she feels a premonition, a growing sense of dread, as she experiences eerie noises and ghostly sightings, and forgotten memories from her past come back to plague her. 

The scenes set in the Theatre are wonderfully descriptive; they conjure up the excitement of a new performance, the glitter and the glitz, and the hustle and bustle of a working theatre, a place where glitter and dust collect and move as one. The theatre is shrouded in a tragic story, one that has led to ghost stories, hauntings and strange occurrences, it’s the setting along with the characters that capture the reader’s imagination.  As the novel progresses Louise Beech weaves Chloe’s past and present together creating a mystical, all-consuming read that’s nigh on impossible to put down. 

Chloe’s story is one that will break your heart, it’s haunting, emotional, her character will capture your heart, she will linger in your thoughts, you sense Chloe’s vulnerability, the emotions she experience are raw, emotive and powerful. When I reached the last pages of I Am Dust the tears flowed at the beauty of this story, for Chloe and for the power of Louise Beech’s written word. Definitely a contender for my book of the year and my favourite Louise Beech read so far. Highly recommended.

  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (16 Feb. 2020)

pre-order link:   Amazon 🇬🇧

And yes in case you hadn’t already guessed I’m giving I Am Dust my shiny Book hangover award, It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

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My thanks to Karen Sullivan for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.

Never Look Back by A. L. Gaylin #BookReview @Orionbooks

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for Never Look Back by A. L. Gaylin, a new author to me so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Read on for my review but first the book description……..

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She was the most brutal killer of our time. And she may have been my mother…

When website columnist Robin Diamond is contacted by true crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, she assumes it’s a business matter. It’s not. Quentin’s podcast, Closure, focuses on a series of murders in the 1970s, committed by teen couple April Cooper and Gabriel LeRoy. It seems that Quentin has reason to believe Robin’s own mother may be intimately connected with the killings.

Robin thinks Quentin’s claim is absurd. But is it? The more she researches the Cooper/LeRoy murders herself, the more disturbed she becomes by what she finds. Living just a few blocks from her, Robin’s beloved parents are the one absolute she’s always been able to rely upon, especially now amid rising doubts about her husband and frequent threats from internet trolls. Robin knows her mother better than anyone.

But then her parents are brutally attacked, and Robin realises she doesn’t know the truth at all…

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There’s nothing I like more than picking up a book I know nothing about, it means I have no expectations, sometimes it can all go terribly wrong and I end up reading a book that’s really not my ‘cup of tea’ but thankfully that wasn’t the case with Never Look Back by A. L. Gaylin in fact it was quite the opposite I ended up loving this twisted absorbing, addictive tale of psychological suspense.

True crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, is investigating a series of murders in the 1970s committed by teens Gabriel LeRoy and April Cooper. The victims included members of his own family. For Robin Diamond, a columnist, the podcast produces some startling evidence. When Quentin contacts her about it, and starts asking questions about April Cooper and tying her to Robin’s own mother, Robin isn’t convinced by his story, but the more she delves into the murders, the more she can’t help wondering.

Never Look Back moves between the present and 1976, mostly narrated by Quentin and Robin, past events unfold through a chilling number of journal style letters written by April Cooper. Using a dual time line to convey a story can sometimes confuse a story, or even worse make a story feel stilted, but that’s not the case here, as the two flow perfectly, enhancing the story rather than hindering. April Cooper’s letters made for a chilling read, but they give the reader an insight into a complex character and her relationship with partner in crime and murder Gabriel LeRoy.  I wasn’t convinced April was being completely truthful, she takes no responsibility for her part in the crimes.

The author has created characters who are compelling, you can’t help but become invested in their stories. Most of them are seriously damaged, or at least flawed! I chiefly felt for Gabrielle whose grief and anger is visible throughout his investigation. The plot is very much character driven, and what a fascinating array of characters they turned out to be, love them or hate them they each have a role to play in this must read thriller.

Considering the subject matter I expected gory crime scenes, but these never materialised and I’m grateful for that (a first for me as I’m not averse to some gore!) as this book is very much about the mystery surrounding April. One thing I wasn’t expecting to find in this book were the powerful emotional scenes that explore the anger and guilt that fester for those that are left behind. This book reminded me of Bonnie & Clyde, I’m not sure if that’s what the author intended but it worked for me. Never Look Back has it all Lies and betrayal, painful secrets and events, Murder, and oodles of mystery. Highly recommended 

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (4 July 2019)

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon USA 🇺🇸

My thanks to Orion Books for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

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**Bookish Products** #Review Who Done It? Book Necklace #Crime

028869E0-3015-44FA-92B7-C84B82F530ABToday I’m thrilled to share my review for something that’s a little bit different to my normal book reviews. If you are a fan of suspense/crime thrillers or murder mysteries then you are going to love the Who Done It? handmade necklace.

The necklace comes complete with a “missing puzzle piece” and “key to solving the mystery” charms, as well as a miniature book charm that actually opens!! The necklace also arrived with a personal message and an adorable homemade book mark (a book lover can never have to many bookmarks).

If you order using the link I provide further down this post, you can also get a 20% discount off your necklace.

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The Who Done It? Necklace came from Ameliasartifacts  on Etsy. It’s an American site so I was expecting to wait ages for the necklace to arrive, but I was pleasantly surprised when it turned up approximately a week later. It comes well packaged in a silver holographic box.

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The necklace Dimensions are 18.75 Inches which is the perfect length for me as it falls at the top of my cleavage, if it was any longer I would worry about catching the charms.

The necklace comes with three charms, a key, a jigsaw piece and the Who Done It? book charm. The book charm is adorable and actually has pages in it, so the book literally opens! Which hang from a sturdy bar, the weight of the bar helps the necklace to sit perfectly and move around.

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The necklace has a robust clasp, and it isn’t too tiny, as I can sometimes have trouble doing up a clasp on a necklace with my fat sausage fingers! It’s really well made, and all the charms are securely fitted, I also liked the small ruby red beads on the necklace, they add a pop off colour to the item, without looking to ‘garish’.

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I do love quirky Jewellery so for me there’s nothing not to like about this necklace, it’s well made, and I love the gorgeous charms. In my opinion a lot of thought and time has gone into making this necklace.

Altogether the necklaces aren’t cheap I do think you have to bare in mind you are not only getting a unique piece of jewellery, but there’s also the time it must take Amelia to create each piece.

It’s the perfect gift for any book worm, but I also think the necklace would make a unique gift for authors, who write crime thrillers, but if the Who Done It? one isn’t your cup of tea, you can find plenty more book themed jewellery here..

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or here…..AmeliasArtiFacts-FB

**please note I did not receive payment for this review, but I did receive The Who Done It? Necklace from Amelia in exchange for an unbiased and honest review **

0EB221B2-C2B4-411D-92FD-CC76DC717DFFIf you’ve following in love with the Who Done It? Necklace, here’s a the link to get 20% discount and the discount code you need to apply BOOKCAFE2020

Buying link: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AmeliaWignall?coupon=BOOKCAFE2020

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