#BlogTour Nature of the Witch by Helen T. Norwood

Today is my stop on the BlogTour for Nature of the Witch by Helen T. Norwood. A venture into urban fantasy with a lot of potential for future development. At the end of this post you have the chance to win a signed copy of Nature of the Witch by Helen T Norwood (Open to UK only).

About the Author

Helen lives in the UK with her husband, two children and one diva-like cat called Tiger. Helen, like many others, was captivated in her childhood by books from the likes of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton and any books which took her to new worlds and showed her places of magic and mystery. She has enjoyed writing and creating her own magical worlds from a young age. She is currently writing the second book in the ‘Nature of the Witch’ trilogy which will be out soon.

Follow @ThinkFitFoodFam (Helen Norwood) on Twitter or Helen T. Norwood on Goodreads

Visit thinkfitfoodfamily.com

Buy Nature of the Witch

About the book

Many years ago, magic prevailed in Britain. It was a time when chosen women followed a path forged by Mother Nature herself; a time of witchcraft, of the brotherhood of the Gwithiaz and of the terrifying Creatures.

This has all passed from memory a long time ago. But now, magic has returned. Kiera is the first witch the world has seen in centuries, while Jack must learn the ways of the Gwithiaz. They must not only master their crafts, but also overcome their differences and work together if they are to survive the dark enemy that lurks in the shadows.

In the rugged Cornish landscape where it first began, the two face the dreaded Kasadow: an ancient evil that has awakened and is ready to destroy them, and their magic, once and for all.

Review

The epilogue introduces a fairly complex premise of witches, the brotherhood of the Gwithiaz and bloodthirsty Creatures. The Gwithiaz are sworn to protect the witches, who are selected by Mother Nature as her daughters on earth and given powers to boot. The Creatures are set on destroying, actually more or less eating, every single witch.

Fast forward many centuries and the last Gwithiaz is tasked with waiting for and finding the last witch, and everything is love, peace and harmony. Oh wait, maybe not because it turns out there are still a few Creatures running around looking for some crunchy delicious witches to snack on.

Nature of the Witch is about trust, friendship and learning to control your own power. Mother Nature and the natural ability we all have within us, and the way we can use it.

The premise allows for more books to follow in this story. The reader will want to know where Kiera goes from here. Are there any more of her kind out there? Will she learn to control and use her powers? Are the Gwithiaz completely trustworthy and do they really have a fatal Achilles heel?

Norwood presents an initially intricate epilogue and then eases into a story that is undemanding and yet intriguing, which is an interesting contrast and one that equates to more readers. A small cast of characters puts the focus on dialogue and the storyline. It’s a read with a lot of potential.

Buy Nature of the Witch at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Giveaway – Win a signed copy of Nature of the Witch by Helen T Norwood (Open to UK only).  To enter the giveaway click on the link below

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#BlogTour Blue Night by Simone Buchholz

I have been looking forward to introducing you to this unusual gem of a book. It puts the darkness in the word Noir with its sharp-tongued dialogues and very confrontational style. There are no candy floss scenarios lurking in these pages. Welcome to the BlogTour for Blue Night by Simone Buchholz. 

About the Author

Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award as well as runner-up for the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.

Follow  @ohneKlippo (Simone Buchholz) @Orendabooks  or @FwdTranslations (Rachel Ward, Translator)

Visit simonebuchholz.com

Buy Blue Night

About the book

After convicting a superior for corruption and shooting off a gangster’s crown jewels, the career of Hamburg’s most hard-bitten state prosecutor, Chastity Riley, has taken a nose dive: she has been transferred to the tedium of witness protection to prevent her making any more trouble. However, when she is assigned to the case of an anonymous man lying under police guard in hospital, Chastity’s instinct for the big, exciting case kicks in. Using all her powers of persuasion, she soon gains her charge’s confidence, and finds herself on the trail to Leipzig, a new ally, and a whole heap of lethal synthetic drugs. When she discovers that a friend and former colleague is trying to bring down Hamburg’s Albanian mafia kingpin single-handedly, it looks like Chas Riley’s dull life on witness protection really has been short-lived…

(Translated by Rachel Ward)

Review

Chastity Riley  is to the 21st century what Horst Schimanski was to the 80’s, the only difference being gender and that Riley doesn’t have a sidekick, but she does surround herself with the outsiders and rebels of society. Her own group of friends, colleagues and handy contacts. Not exactly upstanding citizens, but very much people who are interested in justice. Well, let’s say their own kind of justice.

Riley finds herself isolated at work, restricted and demoted after making a series of serious mistakes in her role as a high ranking state prosecutor. She is assigned the case of a John Doe, who was beaten viciously and left to die. She has her own way of gaining his confidence and making him talk by building a rapport via food and beer. Meanwhile he seems to be ten steps ahead of her and willing to reveal information, which in turn points her in the direction of a major criminal operation.

This is Noir with an interesting staccato like pace and style added to give it a more brash, realistic and curt feeling. Buchholz doesn’t have any words to spare. Her dialogue is abrupt, sharp and to the point. Often giving the appearance of an afterthought or emotional revelation rather than the bittersweet moment of honesty it actually represents.

Interspersed between the dialogues and functioning as a chapter divider of sorts are comments or statements made by the main characters in the book. As if some random reporter were asking them for a running commentary every now and again on the situation at hand or on the particular time-frame and year the characters are in. The comments are given purely from each character’s own perspective, which gives the whole story an element of critical audience watching from the peanut gallery. It is an innovative approach and adds to the general Noirish feeling of the book.

I was raised in Germany, and speak the language at native level, so I can say with absolute certainty that certain idioms and common phrases get lost in translation. It is a common element of translation, but is more evident in certain languages and has nothing to do with the translation or expertise of the translator. So, with that being said I can’t wait to read this again in the original language.

Buchholz has a refreshingly new provocative voice, and I have no doubt she will stand out amongst a sea of writers. She has a take no prisoners attitude when it comes to the validity and eccentricity of her characters, and her plot. Blue Night is to books what a shot of whiskey of is to the world of liquor. It takes your breath away and then it burns until a warmth settles into the pit of your stomach. That’s the kind of mark and statement Buchholz is making.

Buy Blue Night at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

#BlogTour Come a Little Closer by Rachel Abbott

Rachel Abbott is one of the UK’s most successful bestselling independent authors and I am delighted to be taking part in this brilliant BlogTour for her newest novel Come a Little Closer featuring DCI Tom Douglas. As part of my post today I am taking part in a Writing Challenge, which includes the first paragraph as a writing prompt and four items that have to be included in the challenge. To top off this blog post my review of this captivating read is at the end.

About the Author

Rachel Abbott was born just outside Manchester, England, and spent most of her working life as the Managing Director of an interactive media company. After her company was sold in 2000, she fulfilled a lifelong ambition of buying and restoring a property in Italy. She now splits her time between homes in Italy and Alderney, where she writes full time. She has published six full length novels and one novella, and her seventh Come a Little Closer was released 13th of February 2018.

Follow @RachelAbbott on Twitter or RachelAbbott1Writer on Facebook

Look out for #ComeALittleCloser

Visit rachel-abbott.com and rachelabbottwriter.com

Buy Come A Little Closer

About the book

They will be coming soon. They come every night.  Snow is falling softly as a young woman takes her last breath. Fifteen miles away, two women sit silently in a dark kitchen. They don’t speak, because there is nothing left to be said.

Another woman boards a plane to escape the man who is trying to steal her life. But she will have to return, sooner or later. These strangers have one thing in common. They each made one bad choice – and now they have no choices left. Soon they won’t be strangers, they’ll be family…

When DCI Tom Douglas is called to the cold, lonely scene of a suspicious death, he is baffled. Who is she? Where did she come from? How did she get there? How many more must die? Who is controlling them, and how can they be stopped?

Writing Challenge

Rachel Abbott has written the opening paragraph to a dark and twisty thriller and challenged bloggers to finish the story. Armed with just the opening paragraph (in bold) and four key objects (a bath, a facebook post, a single lightbulb and a glass of sweet sherry) from Come a Little Closer, we have to finish the story she started.

Prompt

Gemma had been afraid of the dark for as long as she could remember. As a child, she had blamed the cold, ancient house they had lived in – its endless corridors had too many closed doors for people to hide behind, too many secrets concealed in the shadows. But now there was no excuse. Her flat was modern, open, with huge windows.

It made no difference, though. Each night of the long winter months as she stood outside the block, she imagined all the doors she would have to pass before she reached her own, wondering if the lights in the hallway would be working, or whether they would flicker and go out, leaving her blind in the inky black void. Alone with her fear.

Perhaps she had always known that this day would come. She took a deep breath and stepped into the silent entrance, her heels tapping out a warning that she was coming on the polished concrete floor of the long corridor.

———————————————

To distract herself from the shadows and the imagined dangers lurking in the dark corridor she thought about what she would do when she finally reached the threshold of her door. A steaming hot bath filled with blue bubbles smelling like fresh ocean waves, well at least what she wished the ocean smelt like. Fishy, salt infused air doesn’t really inspire the same imagery. The bath water had to be piping hot, so her skin would turn a lobster red, because tepid just wouldn’t cut it. Relaxing in the bath also meant spending time with her latest acquisition from the small book shop around the corner. Engaging with fictional characters, preferably hot as hell with a penchant for danger and wild wild women, was her guilty pleasure.

Needless to say Gemma was the wild woman in this fictional scenario. Books made the hair on the back of her neck stand up and replaced her worries with faux fear. It wasn’t the same as feeling real fear. Facing her demons, facing her life. As a treat she would have a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge ice cream. Just a small one, enough to placate the inner chocolate addiction, but not enough to alert the cult for the overweight, also known as Weight Watchers. A bowl of ice cream that would melt into a puddle of liquid chocolate, as she languished in the steaming water. To take the edge off she would usually allow herself the pleasure of a small port glass of Bailey’s liqueur, except she had emptied the bottle during her last bath-time excursion, so the only thing left with any alcohol content was a bottle of sherry her mother had given her last Christmas. Not that Gemma was a sherry drinker, but hey when needs must then a glass of sweet sherry it is.

She breathed in deeply, a fragrance flashback triggered the scent of her bath suds in her nose. Gemma let out a little sigh of anticipation, which came out in more of a stuttered gasp as her nose captured a whiff of something acrid instead. She turned her head towards the smell, increasing her pace in anticipation of a possible danger, although her head was saying ‘maybe a cat has marked their territory’ her gut was whispering ‘maybe the psycho is sat in the shadows waiting for the perfect prey to come along.’ Yeh, her inner voice was a bit of killjoy and a scaremongerer.

Why was the corridor so void of any light? It was darker than usual, right? Gemma was sure of it. Instead of a warm yellow glow every five meters or so, the light in the corridor had been reduced to a single source of light. The lightbulb above apartment 13b. Gemma’s apartment. The one place she felt at ease, at home and safe. Was that a sound? Her breath started coming in short gasps.The pacing had become a fast walk, almost a pathetic panicked run. Gemma tore open her handbag and searched franticly for her keys. ‘Almost there, Nearly there,’ she panted. There is something, someone in the dark, waiting for her. Wanting to hurt her. She can feel it.

The keys jangled in her shaking hands, as she tried to insert the keys in the lock. Not an easy task while you’re looking over your shoulder every few seconds and expecting a blow to the head with a heavy object at any minute. Or a gloved hand covering her mouth, cutting off her air and dragging her backwards towards her violent death.

Okay. Open. She slipped through the doorway and slammed the door shut as fast as she possibly could. Lock, chain, bolt. Inside. Safe and breathe. Exhale.

Gemma tossed her shoes off and threw both bag and coat onto the nearest piece of furniture. Pulled her phone from her pocket to take a quick peek on social media before her bath. ‘Just for a few minutes,’ she muttered to herself. She was looking forward to the heat, the alcohol. Numbing herself from the inside and outside kept her sane when the fear threatened to overcome all her senses.

Gemma felt the anxiety fall away slightly, as she read snarky memes, political rants, bouncy goats and a facebook post with cute fluffy kittens.

She saw, rather than heard the note being slipped under her door. Out of the corner of her eye, a white sheet of paper with bold black letters. Every instinct screamed at her to ignore it, but another part of her was drawn to it. Her legs buckled as her brain processes the words…I’m waiting outside in the dark for you Gemma. Do you wanna come out and play?

——————————————————–

Review

There can be no doubt Abbott is honing her skills with every book, as her plots become more intricate and her characters become like old friends to her readers.

Rachel Abbott likes to skate between the black and white areas of right and wrong, to shed a light on the vulnerable in our society, and the secrets hidden in plain sight. In Come a Little Closer the hidden, the missing and the ones who go unaccounted for are given a voice, albeit a small one.

This is the seventh book to feature DCI Tom Douglas, and it feels as if he is just getting settled in for the long run. He is a straight talker with a penchant for breaking the rules, and yet his worst enemy is his own guilty conscience.

Have you ever asked yourself whether someone would miss you or question your whereabouts if you suddenly disappeared? How long would it take for someone to notice you are gone? There are plenty of men, women and children without a support system, who just vanish from the face of the earth and fall prey to people seeking the invisible of our society.

There is another important aspect of this story the author has slipped in, which is perhaps far more important than the main plot. What can you do when someone you used to love becomes an abusive insidious leech you can’t get rid of? When the system can’t help you and it ends up protecting them instead of you?

DCI Douglas is flummoxed by his new case and isn’t sure where to start. A young woman with no identity, who seems to have gone to her death willingly or rather to her murder. It seems as if she might not be the only one. Where are these women coming from and who are they?

A few decades a ago I went to a seminar led by a leading FBI profiler and expert on paedophiles and serial-killers, and he made two adults, myself being one of them, pretend to be children walking on the pavement. He played the perpetrator in the car. He winds down his imaginary window and says something quietly, I couldn’t hear so I stepped towards as he said Come a little Closer and grabs me and throws me in his imaginary car. That is exactly the kind of criminal Abbott is excellent at imbibing and then creating on paper. The type we are surrounded by, but never see coming, because we are taught from a young age to ignore our gut instinct. In a way we are all Judith.

This is just a little taste of the compelling read and the questions you may encounter. Rachel Abott writes a fast paced riveting thriller that pulls the reader in opposite directions. The plot is nefarious and also simple in its complexity. It’s realistic, which makes it relatable and there are aspects of it that will ring true for some of the readers.

Be prepared for a read you won’t want to put down.

Buy Come a Little Closer at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The London Book Fair 2018 launches inaugural UK Book Blog Awards

It’s official! The hunt to find the most influential book bloggers, bookstagrammers and booktubers in the UK is on! click here to find out more

Press release: London, 14 February 2017: The London Book Fair is delighted to announce the launch of the first ever UK Book Blog Awards @ LBF – a new initiative designed to celebrate social media influencers and their important contribution to the book industry.

A new feature for LBF 2018, this will be the first time this community has been officially recognised and rewarded by the British publishing industry.

Bloggers, social media influencers, members of the publishing industry, and the general public are invited to nominate the best book blogs, bookstagrammers and booktubers across three categories:

Book Blogger of the Year

Bookstagrammer of the Year

BookTuber of the Year

Once the shortlist has been revealed, a panel of judges will select one winner in each category, who will be honoured at a special awards ceremony at The London Book Fair. In addition, the Fair will introduce new seminars and networking events aimed at bringing the social media influencer community closer to the publishing world.

Jacks Thomas, Director at The London Book Fair commented:

“Book bloggers are an increasingly important part of the book world. Their passion for authors, genres and books is integral in reaching new audiences. We’re really excited to be launching the inaugural UK Book Blog Awards @ LBF and recognising the crucial role social influencers play in the promotion of books.”

The awards are open to any blogger, YouTuber or Instagrammer that features books published in the UK and/or UK authors. To put forward a nomination, or to nominate your own blog/Instagram account/YouTube channel visit: http://www.londonbookfair.co.uk/UKBookBlogAwards

For further information please contact Edwina Boyd-Gibbins at Midas Public Relations on 0207 361 7860 edwina.boyd-gibbins@midaspr.co.uk

Go to www.londonbookfair.co.uk Follow @LondonBookFair

So, this is happening and can I just say finally! It’s about time the UK book industry took note of the effective marketing machine on social media powered by hungry and happy bookworms. Bookbloggers, Bookstagrammers and Booktubers who create hype, share their recommendations and reviews all over social media are an underrated tool of the publishing world.

Enter your favourite Bookbloggers, Bookstagrammers and Booktubers, and you can even enter your own BookBlog, Bookstagramm or BookTube!

The LONDON BOOK FAIR UK BLOG AWARDS Terms and Conditions-

THE UK BOOK BLOG AWARDS 2018 are open to any blogger, YouTuber or Instagrammer that features books published in the UK and/or UK authors. The blogger, YouTuber or Instagrammer may be based anywhere in the world.

– Blogs, Instagram profiles, and YouTube channels can be entered by the brand owners, affiliates, or members of the public

– The deadline for entries is 12pm (noon) on Friday 2 March 2018 (the “Closing Date”).

– Judging: entries will be judged by a panel of judges, who will select a Shortlist within each category as well as a final Winner in each category.

– The Judges’ decision is final on all matters and no correspondence will be entered into.

– If the judging panel feels that none of the entries in a category reach the standard outlined to them in guidance notes, The London Book Fair may (under exceptional circumstances) cancel the category.

– The Winners will be announced at The London Book Fair, 10-12 April 2018

ENTER Book Blogger of the Year

ENTER Bookstagrammer of the Year

ENTER BookTuber of the Year

London Book Fair Show Dates

Tue 10th April: 09:00 – 18:30

Wed 11th April: 09:00 – 18:30

Thu 12th April: 09:00 – 17:00

Location

Olympia London, Hammersmith Road, Kensington, London, W14 8UX

Do you have a favourite Bookblogger, Bookstagrammer or BookTuber? Go ahead and nominate them now!

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

The Chalk manThis has a distinctive 70s/80s film and television vibe, which isn’t always a given even if it is roughly set in that era. (Stranger Things vibe is a more accurate reference for younger readers) It also has a Stand By Me flair, that essence of nostalgia and friendships formed in childhood, and to top it off Tudor delivers a subtle layer of creepy horror a la Stephen King.

It has the innocence of days gone by, days when children played outside all day and stayed out till dark. Before technology captured the youth of today and started captivating them with visions of the future. A long time before the monsters who come for our children multiplied to an insurmountable number.

It’s 1986 and Eddie and his friends use chalk men to communicate secret messages to each other. The kind of game that appeals to the secrecy children covet even if it lacks any kind of complexity.

Eddie’s story starts when he witnesses an extremely violent accident, which binds him to the victim and to the man who helps to save her. Mr Halloran becomes a confidante and a saviour to Eddie, whilst Eddie becomes the instrument of his demise.

A few decades later the horror of their childhood is brought back to life when one of the boys decides to rake up The Chalk Man murder, and so begins a journey to the past to discover the truth and the lies.

Tudor brings the whole package with this story. The tension increases as the tale unfolds, and the reader can feel the creepy vibe throughout. The Chalk Man takes on a life of his own, especially in Eddie’s dreams and daily life. It’s an absorbing read and the ending is the cherry on top of the ice-cream sundae.

Oh and FYI Tom Baker is the best Dr.Who. Just Saying.

Buy The Chalk Man at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks

#BlogTour The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner

Today it is my pleasure to take part in the Blog-Tour for The Story of our Lives by Helen Warner. It’s a testimony of love, loyalty and friendship between four friends throughout the good and hard times. Unconditional love and support over twenty years.

About the Author

Helen Warner is Director of Daytime for ITV where she oversees a wide range of programming from ‘This Morning’ to ‘The Chase’. Previously, she was at Channel 4 where she was responsible for shows including ‘Come Dine With Me’, ‘Coach Trip’ and ‘Deal or No Deal’.

She lives in Essex with her husband and their two children and she writes her books on the train to and from work.

Follow @HQStories

Buy The Story of Our Lives

About the book

Four friends. Twenty years. One powerful secret. Everyone remembers where they were on 31st August 1997, the day Princess Diana died.

Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa certainly do -– a beautiful cottage in Southwold, at the start of an annual tradition to have a weekend away together.

Every year since, the four best friends have come back together. But over time the changes in their lives have led them down very different paths. And it’s when those paths collide that the secrets they’ve been keeping come tumbling out.

One Day meets Big Little Lies in this unputdownable read about four friends, one long-buried secret and the histories we all share.

Review 

Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa are a close-knit group of friends. The reader follows them through their trials and tribulations over a period of two decades. They meet every year at the same time to celebrate their friendships and all the changes in their lives. Pregnancies, career changes, marriages, affairs, betrayals and life in general.

There is a fair amount of victim blaming when it comes to Amy and her situation. ‘If only she was a little tougher. If she stood up for herself it wouldn’t happen.’ This is a common reaction and misconception when it comes to domestic abuse, the assumption that it is just about the victim not being able to stand up for themselves. Even her friends are quick to place the blame on her.

It’s easy to ignore the obvious, when it comes to domestic abuse. The hard part is supporting victims, despite the fact they may go back to their abuser. It takes an incredible amount of courage to leave a situation of complete control, isolation and fear.

I have this rule of thumb when it comes to books or stories I read. If the characters or premise evoke any kind of emotion, even if it is anger or irritation, then the author has done their job. So with that said let me just have a grumble about Sophie and the way she reacts at the end. Can we all just say hypocrite. Her indignation and anger are misplaced, and ironic to say the least. Talk about selective memory and being judgemental. Okay, I feel much better now.

Warner has created a story that will resonate with a lot of readers, especially those who understand the complexities of friendships between women. Friendships that stand the test of time, relationships with people who exhibit loyalty under extreme duress and are willing to stand by you through your hardest times. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

The Story of Our Lives is an ode to the special connections we make in life, about the paths we choose and the mistakes we make. It is also about the people who walk with us instead of away from us when things crumble and fall apart around us.

Buy The Story of Our Lives at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

 

The Fear by C.L. Taylor

the fearFear, shame and confusion go hand in hand in this story. Lou is still haunted by her past and the way it follows her like a lingering bad smell.

Unfortunately this tale of grooming and abuse carries the misnomer of love, because that is what paedophiles convince their victims it is. What is even more tragic is how many people confronted by these scenarios or read about them think that it is about a convoluted love story. It isn’t, it’s about a child being preyed upon by a sexual deviant.

It isn’t a vivacious Lolita seducing an unsuspecting older man, and then crying rape after the event. This is how the majority of society sees situations like this. It is easier to put the blame on a naughty little girl than to accept we have men and women in our midst who want to have sexual relations with children.

Lou has to live with the doubts of others, the recriminations and the guilt of not knowing whether she was to blame, and yet at the same time fearing the person she knows was to blame.

After the death of her father she returns home to sort his belongings and his house, and finds herself drawn to the man who took her childhood away from her. She walks a fine line between complete terror and the need for Mike to admit his guilt. Nothing too outlandish or unachievable until she stumbles upon proof that he is in the middle of stealing another childhood.

The Fear is a crime hidden within a crime with a stark layer of reality throughout. As a reader you feel empathy for the child Lou used to be and the adult still suffering from the fallout of being groomed by a predator. Although Lou feels guilty for getting revenge and trying to save someone, I applaud her temerity and her courage.

I think Taylor has written a well-timed story in the midst of the #MeToo movement and chorus of voices speaking out about abuse against girls and women in our society. Shedding a light on the hypocrisy victims encounter and the fear that sits in the back of their neck for the rest of their lives. It’s a captivating read with some hard home-truths. At the same time it is an equally compelling psychological thriller, so kudos to Taylor for bringing the two together.

Buy/Pre-order The Fear at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @callytaylor @AvonBooksUk

Visit cltaylorauthor.com

The Fear – Pub. date 22.March 2018 published by Avon Books Uk

Read The Lie by C.L. Taylor

Read The Accident by C.L. Taylor