Fantastic read, chasing book 2.

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A roller coaster of emotion for all readers.

Downloaded a sample onto my Kindle for iPad and after reading the prologue, tweeted the author to say it was one of the best openings to a novel that I’d read. Without bothering with the rest of the sample I downloaded the whole thing and started writing this review after chapter one, because there were genuine belly laughs at hearing the inner thoughts of the protagonist Kayana.

St. Claire is obviously a skilled word-smith and can take the reader through laughter, fear and horror so that you don’t know what’s coming next. I loved the way that you get to know and love the main couple before things kick off – it made me feel as though I had more sympathy for them, could empathise with their feelings and long for a conclusion.

They have frustrations that you live and breathe with them and women readers will empathise with most of Kayana’s needs and thoughts while men readers will relate to Greg and also love the insight into the female brain.

I enjoyed ‘the chase’ and build up (screaming at them through my Kindle) and when the chase was over, the finishing line was well worth the wait.

Just when you think you can relax though, another thing kicks off (Noo… screamed at Kindle) and you wonder how it could possibly end. ‘Page turner’ and ‘edge of the seat’ are terms used too often to describe novels but, in this case, well deserved thanks to St. Claire’s art of gripping you and not letting you go.

The book has been sub titled “The first in the Blood Kissed Series” so for the first time in my reading history, I contacted the author, not to request the completion of book two, but to demand it (she promises to hurry and will let me know when it’s out).

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Holiday mode for a writer

Being an early riser who writes between five and seven before tackling a full time job, there is something incredible about being on holiday.

A writer’s paradise, I guess, is to wake, have coffee and an iPad open while sat on the balcony, in the quiet, making notes. Then, instead of going to work, sitting by the pool all day in the Greek sunshine, developing those notes.

For me the most luxurious part of it all is that instead of having “what if” thoughts during the day and hoping to remember them through until they can be written down, all the “What if” thoughts are immediately placed on the iPad, saved for ever.

One day, in my silly head, this will become permanent because I’ll either become rich from writing (doubtful) or win the lottery (equally doubtful.)

Back to the changes to chapter four then, before the battery runs out on my iPad and I’m forced to go for another cappuccino at the pool bar.

Same place twenty years on.

So that was when we realised that the place we’d booked looked slightly familiar because we’d stayed there before approximately twenty years ago. The place on Kephalonia only looked a bit familiar because they’ve built a pool since. Looking forward now to a week in Greece writing.

Writing what though. I use Dropbox to write in Word so everything I do stays on my iPad, copies to Dropbox account and so is available on my PC when I get home.

I’ve written on this blog before about my first published novel Waiting For Kitto which scored an absolutely brilliant feedback report on Amazon.com, but have been absent from my blog for a while and have since published a sequel where an escort gets conned into a high class job in Paris and, through various circumstances, finds herself kidnapped and on her way to Eastern Europe as a sex slave. Kitto’s Angels was published at the end of 2017 and was followed by a stand alone novel called The Tenhouse Girl that was a story of two school friends who bump into each other and go on an adventure to Africa to look for the one girl’s parents who were singer and lead guitarist in a rock band but supposedly killed in a plane crash.

This was quickly followed with a long standing project called Romeo And Juliet which was a Steampunk version of the Shakespeare play, with all the words intact, but updated to make them understandable, and the story given a Steampunk theme.

Later in early 2018 the third novel in the trilogy (the first two, Waiting For Kitto and Kitto’s Angels mentioned above) was published and titled Behind Greek Doors and saw Paraskevi return from novel one where we now see her in an unsuccessful marriage knowing that her husband is having an affair. Her decision to come alive and have an affair of her own leads to some confusion and that confusion leads to other affairs.

I am currently working on three projects and like to switch from one to the other to keep things fresh and love the way things change when you return to a project after an absence. Project number one is called Moving On and its on about its seventh edit but I can’t quite let go of it yet. It’s a novel about a woman who has thrown herself into her job in house removals with added extras and has no time for relationships. She is directed in a house move from a man working in Saudi who she eventually meets, and when they do met, sparks fly for both of them.

Project two is for the beach and working in Dropbox. It’s the trilogy mentioned above being slightly (very slightly) edited to make it flow better to be issued as a package on Amazon at a reduced price (cheaper than buying all three individual novels).

Project three is not for the beach and involves sitting at a PC, working in Dropbox again, and ploughing through Shakespeare’s Macbeth but, yet again with a Steampunk twist and entitled Macbeth And The Three Vampires.

All the above can be looked at with the first chapter added free at my website http://bit.ly/2uuwupy and I’m also available on Twitter @HoltStephenson or on Instagram @Stephenson.Holt

Thanks for reading, please leave a comment or share. Stephenson

Riu Touareg, Boa Vista, cabo verde Islands

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I suppose it must have all started in the hairdressers with the inevitable “Did you go anywhere nice on your holidays this summer?” After the initial explanation that my work dictates that I’m unable to holiday until November each year, the real conversational answer is a near future visit to Boa Vista which attracts replies of either “Oh, I’ve been there.” Or a puzzled “Where?” Explanations of “Canaries and keep going south” or “Just off the coast of Senegal” don’t seem to help.

It was a first time experience. Every holiday has to be a first time experience now, ever since, that is, the return visit to Skiathos to find that the garden where I watched, from my balcony, the old Greek woman toiling over her water melons, was now a hotel. There were still comparisons to be made with Boa Vista however. We had enjoyed Sal, the island just to the North of Boa Vista, only the year before. We had learnt a lot there.

Having fallen in love with the concept in place at the Riu Hotel Chain on visiting the Riu Palace on Madeira (pronounced Mad-eye-ra by everyone bar the Brits apparently) with its waiter service and fixed for the fortnight seating plan, we tried and preferred the Riu Club style of buffet eating, – eat what you want when you feel like it wherever you want – and its easy going attitude. It was like that on Sal at the Riu Garopa and was bound to be repeated at the southernmost tip of the island further south at the Boa Vista Riu Tuareg to which we were destined. It was with this combination of both knowledge and lack of knowledge that we left Gatwick Airport.

Initial view and comparison was that this was a poorer island, the infrastructure only partly existing. The first half of the journey from airport to hotel over cobbles shook the old and severely rusted transfer coach and its occupants. Through villages it twisted where houses were built of concrete blocks, three quarters completed, only half painted. Then, suddenly, tarmac on a road later found out to have been paid for by the Tui travel group, the tarmac continuing to the Tuareg Hotel, so most of the length of the island covered without seeing another hotel. Reception on arrival was quick, efficient, the check in staff humorous as they know you are tired after your journey. As in Sal you are given two sticky badges with your room numbers on them and told to go out front, find your cases, stick on your numbers and your cases will find their way to your room. The room was beautifully African, or is it West Indian. In fact we spent the next two weeks trying to work out the Africa or West Indies question as we walked the hotel paths, all bordered by coconut palms and bushes of red hibiscus. We were fifteen degrees north of the equator and so is Mexico to the west and Goa in India to the east (after crossing Senegal and the rest of the African continent).

The beach appears to be of infinite length and afternoon walks of three miles plus a return three miles did not find the end but did find a small herd of cattle, lying on the sand, paddling in the water. Crabs too paddle and have the wave patterns worked out, unlike white skinned newbies. The crabs move fast and scurry towards the waters edge looking for food. They appear to act on sound, possibly felt through their legs. If you try to approach them with curiosity they will race you to their underground sand cave, and win. While looking for food they can determine the thump on the beach of a larger than normal wave and this too makes them retreat underground to await the smaller waves as they know the larger ones come in twos.

Newbies do not know about this two large waves theorem. Newbies are those that arrive at the start of your second week when you feel like a native, feel like you live at the hotel, feel like you’ve always lived there and the newbies are just visiting. They venture into the water unsuspecting. You cannot warn them, they have to find out for themselves and anyway, it provides excellent entertainment. They venture out during the small waves, a large wave looms growing higher and higher, they are transfixed at the sight through the base of the wave of the sand and shells visible through the crystal clear water. The wave breaks just on top of them, pushes them under, drags them roughly along the sand bed that they were just watching, and spews them out into shallower water. They laugh to be alive, shout to their partner standing on the sand who doesn’t tell them about the second wave that then repeats the performance. A scientific (not very) study of this phenomenon over a two week period produced the fact that when this happens to a man he stands, blows water from his nose and wipes his eyes. When it happens to a woman, she stands and checks her bikini top is where it should be.

In November there is plenty of space for everyone. There are three pools each with bars (one pool reserved for those that cannot or do not enjoy the happy sound of children laughing and playing) and guests spread themselves over these pools or the beach. Walking around the complex before or after a meal, to burn some calories is not as easy as on Sal as the complex at Sal was more spread out with more circular routes. Beware walking the many roundabouts where walking collisions can be caused by Brits going left! Where the Boa Vista Riu Tuareg does score highly though is in its village square. Reception, the main restaurant, two of the specialist restaurants, the entertainment stage, a row of hotel style shops and the (luckily) indoor karaoke disco bar, all border a huge square with lots of seating with a lively bar in the middle. It is very difficult to walk this area, especially in the evening, without thinking that you are in the heart of a village and far away from an international hotel. Full marks to the architects, whoever they were.

We were told before we left that November was the month of winds on Boa Vista and I suppose it all depends on your definition of wind. On one day out of the fourteen the breeze on the beach was enough to sand blast you or as my wife (glass half full) said – it was exfoliatingly pleasant. The other thirteen days had a slight breeze (oh, that’s nice) the type that tricks you into thinking you’re not burning. A third of our time there was bright blue skies and it felt very hot. A third of the days had high cloud cover (oh, that’s nice) all day and the other third had blue sky with the occasional (oh, that’s nice) fluffy white cloud to give a welcome break. Temperatures didn’t change from 28 Celsius in the day and down to 25 at night but each room is air conditioned.

Would we return? Yes but only if we’re quick. The rep told us that apart from a beach on the eastern coast where turtles breed, the whole of the coastline of the island has been sold to the big hotel chains. Each hotel chain intends to build once the infrastructure improves. The catch 22 rule dictates that until the chains come and make the island richer then the government cannot afford to improve the roads.

Grab this island while it is still beautiful, deserted and restful would be our advice. Although the local currency is Escudos, bring and only deal in Euros – if you can find anywhere to spend money away from the hotel shops. Tip like you’ve never tipped before – you are not only acknowledging extremely hard workers, you are plowing money into an economy that desperately needs it.
Stephenson Holt is a travel writer, blogger and has a debut novel “Waiting For Kitto” published exclusively on Amazon Kindle and in paperback. Find book here  He can be found at http://www.stephensonholt.com

Waiting For Kitto – Now in Paperback

The Kindle version of this love story, that starts in Cornwall, moves to various Greek Islands and ends in the vineyards of France, has been so successful that a decision has been made to bring out a paperback version. Available in Amazon stores in UK, USA and Europe. From the time of her first schoolgirl love, Rebecca decided to live a controlling life which left her friendless and loveless. Working for an organisation that didn’t officially exist she cracked a traumatic case in her native Cornwall that saw her travel to Greece (chasing the bad guys and also her feelings) and eventually to the vineyards of France. Her Greek housekeeper needed bringing into the 21st century and Rebecca was the one to do it – but who will teach who? Will they both find the love that they are looking for? Will they both get the men that they deserve. 

This book in Kindle format and in paperback can be found Here

stephensonholt.combookcoverimage

Writing on the island of Boa Vista in the Cabo Verde Islands.

I suppose it must have all started in the hairdressers with the inevitable “Did you go anywhere nice on your holidays this summer?” After the initial explanation that my work dictates that I’m unable to holiday until November each year, the real conversational answer is a near future visit to Boa Vista which attracts replies of either “Oh, I’ve been there.” Or a puzzled “Where?” Explanations of “Canaries and keep going south” or “Just off the coast of Senegal” don’t seem to help.

It was a first time experience. Every holiday has to be a first time experience now, ever since, that is, the return visit to A Greek island to find that the garden where I watched, from my balcony, the old Greek woman toiling over her water melons, was now a hotel. There were still comparisons to be made with Boa Vista however. We had enjoyed Sal, the island just to the North of Boa Vista, only the year before. We had learnt a lot there.

Having fallen in love with the concept in place at the Riu Hotel Chain on visiting the Riu Palace on Madeira (pronounced Mad-eye-ra by everyone bar the Brits apparently) with its waiter service and fixed for the fortnight seating plan, we tried and preferred the Riu Club style of buffet eating, – eat what you want when you feel like it wherever you want – and its easy going attitude. It was like that on Sal at the Riu Garopa and was bound to be repeated at the southernmost tip of the island further south at the Boa Vista Riu Tuareg to which we were destined. It was with this combination of both knowledge and lack of knowledge that we left Gatwick Airport.

Initial view and comparison was that this was a poorer island, the infrastructure only partly existing. The first half of the journey from airport to hotel over cobbles shook the old and severely rusted transfer coach and its occupants. Through villages it twisted where houses were built of concrete blocks, three quarters completed, only half painted. Then, suddenly, tarmac on a road later found out to have been paid for by the Tui travel group, the tarmac continuing to the Tuareg Hotel, so most of the length of the island covered without seeing another hotel. Reception on arrival was quick, efficient, the check in staff humorous as they know you are tired after your journey. As in Sal you are given two sticky badges with your room numbers on them and told to go out front, find your cases, stick on your numbers and your cases will find their way to your room. The room was beautifully African, or is it West Indian. In fact we spent the next two weeks trying to work out the Africa or West Indies question as we walked the hotel paths, all bordered by cocoanut palms and bushes of red hibiscus. We were fifteen degrees north of the equator and so is Mexico to the west and Goa in India to the east (after crossing Senegal and the rest of the African continent).

The beach appears to be of infinite length and afternoon walks of three miles plus a return three miles did not find the end but did find a small herd of cattle, lying on the sand, paddling in the water. Crabs too paddle and have the wave patterns worked out, unlike white skinned newbies. The crabs move fast and scurry towards the waters edge looking for food. They appear to act on sound, possibly felt through their legs. If you try to approach them with curiosity they will race you to their underground sand cave, and win. While looking for food they can determine the thump on the beach of a larger than normal wave and this too makes them retreat underground to await the smaller waves as they know the larger ones come in twos.

Newbies do not know about this two large waves theorem. Newbies are those that arrive at the start of your second week when you feel like a native, feel like you live at the hotel, feel like you’ve always lived there and the newbies are just visiting. They venture into the water unsuspecting. You cannot warn them, they have to find out for themselves and anyway, it provides excellent entertainment. They venture out during the small waves, a large wave looms growing higher and higher, they are transfixed at the sight through the base of the wave of the sand and shells visible through the crystal clear water. The wave breaks just on top of them, pushes them under, drags them roughly along the sand bed that they were just watching, and spews them out into shallower water. They laugh to be alive, shout to their partner standing on the sand who doesn’t tell them about the second wave that then repeats the performance. A scientific (not very) study of this phenomenon over a two week period produced the fact that when this happens to a man he stands, blows water from his nose and wipes his eyes. When it happens to a woman, she stands and checks her bikini top is where it should be.

In November there is plenty of space for everyone. There are three pools each with bars (one pool reserved for those that cannot or do not enjoy the happy sound of children laughing and playing) and guests spread themselves over these pools or the beach. Walking around the complex before or after a meal, to burn some calories is not as easy as on Sal as the complex at Sal was more spread out with more circular routes. Beware walking the many roundabouts where walking collisions can be caused by Brits going left! Where the Boa Vista Riu Tuareg does score highly though is in its village square. Reception, the main restaurant, two of the speciality restaurants, the entertainment stage, a row of hotel style shops and the (luckily) indoor karaoke disco bar, all border a huge square with lots of seating with a lively bar in the middle. It is very difficult to walk this area, especially in the evening, without thinking that you are in the heart of a village and far away from an international hotel. Full marks to the architects, whoever they were.

We were told before we left that November was the month of winds on Boa Vista and I suppose it all depends on your definition of wind. On one day out of the fourteen the breeze on the beach was enough to sand blast you or as my wife (glass half full) said – it was exfoliatingly pleasant. The other thirteen days had a slight breeze (oh, that’s nice) the type that tricks you into thinking you’re not burning. A third of our time there was bright blue skies and it felt very hot. A third of the days had high cloud cover (oh, that’s nice) all day and the other third had blue sky with the occasional (oh, that’s nice) fluffy white cloud to give a welcome break. Temperatures didn’t change from 28 Celsius in the day and down to 25 at night but each room is air conditioned.

Would we return? Yes but only if we’re quick. The rep told us that apart from a beach on the eastern coast where turtles breed, the whole of the coastline of the island has been sold to the big hotel chains. Each hotel chain intends to build once the infrastructure improves. The catch 22 rule dictates that until the chains come and make the island richer then the government cannot afford to improve the roads.

Grab this island while it is still beautiful, deserted and restful would be our advice. Although the local currency is Escudos, bring and only deal in Euros – if you can find anywhere to spend money away from the hotel shops. Tip like you’ve never tipped before – you are not only acknowledging extremely hard workers, you are plowing money into an economy that desperately needs it.

Stephenson Holt is an author who has a number of books readable on Amazon Kindle or on the Kindle App. He can be found at http://www.stephensonholt.com