Escape the chaos of Christmas: relax with a book!

Christmas is a vibrant, social time of year. But sometimes you just want to curl up quietly in a corner to recover from all that food (and drink!), and read a book. While you’re buying gifts for all your friends and family, why not treat yourself to one of the allonymbooks novels this year: high quality fiction at utterly affordable prices! From mystery to masculine satire, and historical fiction for adults and YA, there’s something for everyone. All allonymbooks books are available for Kindle at all Amazon sites.

Thank you to all our visitors in 2013. We hope you’ve enjoyed our blogs and reviews. If you read an allonymbooks novel, do please review it on Amazon and your other favourite sites!

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Firstly, if you’re a fan of mystery, try EJ Knight‘s new novel, Broadway Murder of 1928. (Available at all Amazon sites including Amazon UK and Amazon US).

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Introducing Lucille Landau,  this is the first in a series of four novels set in New York in the Roaring Twenties. Lucille, an East End piano player with dreams of being the next Lil Hardin, has killed a man in London and marries another to escape on a boat to America. She seems to fall on her feet, finding somewhere to stay and the perfect job – playing piano for a new show by rising Broadway stars Tommy Anzonetti and Manny Wolfe. But surely Lucille can’t escape the past forever, and when actor Alfred Duff sees through her story, she’s relieved when he is murdered in his dressing room. But the police aren’t far behind, and they’ve got plans for Lucille. It couldn’t get much worse, could it? Except that Lucille is falling in love with Tommy Anzonetti and her husband keeps showing up…

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If you like historical fiction or magical realismEvie Woolmore‘s haunting and imaginative novels will draw you in from the first page. Find out why Read Dream Relax say that Evie is “one indie author worth reading”.

THE SALT FACTORY by Evie Woolmore (Available at all Amazon sites including Amazon UK and Amazon US)

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‘I never shoot a man unless there is no other choice.’

The motto of Thelonia Jones, deputy Marshall, makes perfect sense in the silver-mining mountains of Colorado. But back in Victorian England, hoping to settle the debts of her half-brother Cadell, Thelonia finds much that bewilders her. Why has her wealthy stepfather abandoned his mansion to die alone in a rundown cottage by the sea? Who is the strange little girl who brings seagulls and sick people back to life? And why has the owner of the Greatest Freakshow on Earth followed her halfway around the world? For all her ease around matters of life and death, even Thelonia will be surprised by just how high the stakes are about to get. They say the past always catches up with you. For Thelonia Jones, that means literally.

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EQUILIBRIUM by Evie Woolmore (Available at all Amazon sites including Amazon UK and Amazon US)

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“…original, poignant, illuminating…”  “a “fine yarn” where spirits, mystery and love waver …”  “…evocative writing…highly recommended…”

Epiphany and Martha are sisters with a stage mediumship act in Edwardian London. When they are asked to give a private reading at the home of Lady Adelia Lyward to find out the truth about her brother’s death, Martha must face up to her past. For two years ago, her affair with Lord Rafe Lyward ended in pregnant disgrace, and her attempted suicide in the River Thames. But there is more at stake than Martha’s anonymous return, for Epiphany bears the burden of restoring the equilibrium, not just to the Lywards but to her sister and ultimately to herself.

The Historical Novel Society review says “the story is rich in complex characters … I recommend “Equilibrium” to readers who enjoy historical fiction with spiritualist influences.” Equilibrium is also Awesome Indies Approved.

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RISING UP by Evie Woolmore (Available at all Amazon sites including Amazon UK and Amazon US)

smaller_ru“…simple and beautiful, human and poignant…”   “…mystery, history and a bit of mysticism…” “….it’s one of the best books on the subject I’ve ever read…”

Tom Macindeor is an itinerant English teacher, spending the summer in Warsaw in the hope of finding out the truth about his grandfather, a Polish resistance fighter. But when he hears the voice of Ela, a young woman trapped in the Jewish Ghetto of 1942, a window opens not just on his past but the future of the ghetto and all those who live in it. Should he share what he knows of their fate, or will Ela’s search for the truth about her own family doom them both?

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If you yearn to be a teenager again – or are one still – try Flora Chase‘s luxurious young adult historical saga:

THE STRATTONS by Flora Chase (Available at all Amazon sites including Amazon UK and Amazon US)

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The Strattons, the first volume of The Strattons young adult historical saga, is set against the backdrop of the luxurious late Edwardian era, on the eve of the First World War. Four young people, aristocrats and servant, are about to find their safe, comfortable world changed forever. Each must come to terms with the expectations of their class, their gender, and their destiny, and decide whether to embrace them or find the courage to fight against them.

When their diplomat father, the 4th Marquess of Stratton, is killed in Germany, Freddie, Julia and Blanche Matchingham, and their housemaid Dinah, find their world changed forever. Freddie must abandon dreams of university to become the 5th Marquess. Julia is wrenched from the contented obscurity of her books to face the nosy aristocracy keen to marry off her brother. Shallow, sociable Blanche finds her ambitions to take London by storm thwarted by mourning and social restriction. And why is Dinah, the first housemaid, suddenly being sent away from Stratton? The arrival of a German prince and a factory worker will turn all their worlds upside down and each of them must decide what their future holds, and whether they have the courage to face it.

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Finally, if you like a contemporary satire with a dark side, look no further than CRASH COLE IN ‘THE RAKE SPARED’ by Cadell Blackstock (Available at all Amazon sites including Amazon UK and Amazon US)

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This is a scandalous tale with a supernatural twist. If you like your heroes to be decent honourable men, then look away now.

Crash Cole’s fans love him enough to literally keep him alive. But who hated him enough to want him dead? Just like Don Juan before him, celebrity TV biker Crash Cole finds himself at the gates of hell as a consequence of his dissolute and promiscuous lifestyle. Except this hell is of his own making. Hauled back from the brink of death by the unfettered love of his fans, Crash can now hear every one of their voices inside his head, a chaotic din that obscures his memory of how he nearly died in the first place. Learning to live with it proves more than Crash can bear, and with his body mending at a phenomenal rate due to the healing love of his fans, he goes on the run, aided by Julia, a nurse with a bit of a crush on Crash.

Virtually unrecognisable due to terrible scars on his face, Crash revisits his life and the accident, a voyage of discovery constantly overshadowed by the thoughts of those who wished him live and the silence of those who didn’t. But will he learn the truth before his fate catches up with him?

Love him or hate him, you’ll want to get to know him.

In admiration of… Andrea Camilleri

In a new series of blogs, new allonymbooks crime author EJ Knight discusses some favourite crime writers. 

Like Spenser’s Boston and Falco’s Rome, Montalbano’s Sicily is as rich a character as Montalbano himself in Andrea Camilleri’s novels. Indeed, Sicily is not just the setting for the books, its social, historical and geographical complexities are often themes in the crimes Montalbano investigates. Although Montalbano frequently rails against the iniquities of Italian life, bureaucracy, the media, the government and the legal system, the villagey Vigàta is a place where life goes on largely as it always has, its immoral undercurrents affected more by the prevailing winds of local corruption and social secrecy than by globalisation and international crime.

That is not to say that the crimes of Vigàta and Montelusa are not relevant to the non-Sicilian reader. The outside world infuses these towns with terrorism (The Snack Thief) and sex trafficking (The Shape of Water), but it is the communities’ ability to withstand the march of change and commit the most domestic of crimes which make these stories remarkable in many ways as well as thoroughly recognisable to the reader. They have a timeless quality, as though Vigàta is somehow slightly outside time, beyond the real world, that when foreigners arrive they wash up rather unexpectedly. There is something Christie-esque about Camilleri’s focus on the small dramas of family life and how they drive the individual to desperation and revenge. Montalbano resembles Poirot at times in his rituals and his personal quirks, and he has something of Miss Marple’s fusion of moral rectitude and relaxed worldliness: nothing seems to shock him but there is much that offends – neglect, abandonment, the corruption of the young and the innocent.

Although the novels focus on Montalbano, his colleagues make the novels dynamic and stop them being purely the stories of a strong, individual cop-chararacter. Indeed, Montalbano is possibly not quite remarkable enough to carry the books on his own for he is not brutal or selfish or self-destructive enough to ape that vein of the detective genre. He is flawed, but rationally so – he likes his independence, his food, his books and his swimming, but he doesn’t have Morse’s eccentricities, nor does he enforce his solitude to the reckless endangerment of the case. He likes the puzzle but he likes his life, and this balance is essential, perhaps best demonstrated by his inability to give himself up entirely to Livia because the case is always as important. In a sense this is where Camilleri is at his most brilliant, for he has diffused the quirks of one man among the many: Mimi Augello is the lothario, Fazio the detail-obsessive, Catarella the fool, Tomasseo and Pasquano the extremes of law enforcement eccentricity. Camilleri is also an incredibly funny writer: satirical, comedic, farcical, all the shades of humour. And the character of Catarella, while comic, does not have a monopoly for Montalbano is able to laugh at himself and others, perpetuating the novels’ incisive edge.

Not content with near-perfect dramatisations of the books, RAI Italian television has collaborated with Camilleri to expand on a novella to introduce Il giovane Montalbano, the young Montalbano in his first years in Vigàta. In addition to brilliant casting in the regression of the familiar characters to their younger versions, we are discovering the younger Montalbano as he discovers himself, exploring his authority, his approach to understanding people and solving the crime, the way he builds his relationships. It would be delightful to read more stories from this era, for the television adaptations lack the internalising monologues where we hear Montalbano’s voice more distinctly.

Nordic crime fiction has been fashionable for some years, its cutting edge darkness sweeping through other crime writing, but Camilleri’s smaller scale Italian crimes, while no less savage, speak to both a cultural optimism and a microcosm where values are preserved. He is no knight in shining armour, but he is a hero in the defence of a way of life.

Andrea Camilleri’s books are available from all major retailers in paper and e-book form in excellent English translations by Stephen Sartarelli, as well as the original Italian. DVDs have also been released of the television adaptations of the Montalbano and young Montalbano series.

EJ Knight‘s novel Broadway Murder of 1928, the first in the Lucille Landau series, is out now at all Amazon retailers including UK, US and Canada.