Monday, September 18, 2017

Music Trivia... 1000 One Hit Wonders from the 1970's and 1980's; A Decade at a Time



Available in one bumper book, or in individual decades.

Everyone who likes music, likes music trivia; the two go together like melted cheese on a porcupine! But there's one facet of the music business which has more than its fair share of our interest; the One Hit Wonder.
Love them or hate them, One Hit Wonders stick in our brains; you just can’t get the tune out of your head!

That said, most of the One Hit Wonder books out there stick to the top 100 or so, you know, "The Usual Suspects". Heck, we all know about Nena's 99 Red Balloons. We've been through Carl Douglas and his 'Kung Fu Fighting' stage. We've probably all injured ourselves working out to Men Without Hats Safety Dance!
We felt it was time for a re-boot to the subject. We researched for months and when we came up for air, we were amazed at our findings. 
We've dug up nearly 500 One Hit Wonders from the 1970's.
And followed that with nearly 500 One Hit Wonders from the 1980's. (And we're working on the 50's and 60's too!)


Get the 70's Kindle here for just $1.99
We know you have your favorite decade of music (because the rest is just boring rubbish, right?) and if your decade is the 70's, then you don't want a book filled with 50's doo-wop or Nirvana's grunge. If your decade is 1980's Flock of Seagulls, you don't want to wade through glam rock, punk and skiffle!
You want your decade. 
So we've made it easy for you to do just that.You pick your decade, and ignore the rest!
We've already done the 70's and 80's and we're hard at work on the 50's and 60's!


Available in single decades or in bumper bundles, we've catered to you... the music lover. We've packed the book full of ALL the one hit wonders we could find... the popular ones, the rare, off the wall ones. We've got facts, chart positions, and crazy trivia of the songs we all have come to love and hate. Every one holds its own unique story, some sad, some inspiring, and some include as much drama as a Hollywood adventure movie. 

The complete trivia for the One Hit Wonders from the 70's & 80's (nearly 500 of them from each decade!) will make you listen to your favorite songs in a whole new light.
For instance... 
 Did you know that Dave Edmunds’ hit “Cruel to be Kind”, stalled at number 12 of every major chart? All SIX of them!
  
Did you know that rock legends Led Zeppelin are a One Hit Wonder in the UK? 

 Did you know that Minnie Ripperton and Van McCoy (both one Hit Wonders in 1975) both died in the same month… in July 1979? 

Why accept lesser volumes that just offer you the top 100 songs of all time? With information taken from Official Music Charts all over the world, we give a global overview of the one hit wonders of these special decades. 
Get the 80's Kindle here for just $1.99
With details from the US Billboard Hot 100 and Canada, the UK Charts, hits from Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and many European charts, we think this is the most detailed list ever researched. Indexed and cross-referenced for ease of use, whether you are a music buff or just want the answers for your local pub trivia night, these books are for you!

The bumper 70's and 80's book, with close to 1000 songs, nearly 300 pages of information, chart positions, sales figures, trivia facts and much more will provide you with hours of fun and nostalgia. 
Available in Amazon kindle or on Paperback...
Sit with the book as your reference and crank up YouTube!
A must for any music lover of that magical age, the 70's and 80's!

Amplified Encyclopedia of Music Trivia; One Hit Wonders of the 70's
Amplified Encyclopedia of Music Trivia: One Hit Wonders of the 80's
Amplified Encyclopedia of Music Trivia: One Hit Wonders of the 70's and 80's

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Mind Drive... If Ender's Game and Divergent had a baby...

New Sci-Fi from Ian Hall; available as an eBook or Paperback at all good e-stores.

The year is 2617, and Stacey Pencrom is on her way to Space Academy!

Every year MacCollies, the corporate entity who control space travel, scour the Human planets for the best young minds; kids who will one day crew their vast space fleet.
But this year is different...
The members of the class have a far higher paranormal ability than ever before... it's literally off the chart!
As the young students struggle through their first year, they discover secrets about the MacCollies Corporation that would rock Humanity; it seems their conglomerate benefactor is not as squeaky-clean as they'd like to make out. Secrets have been hidden from Humanity for many years.
Eventually the students decide to act, knowing full-well that their lives will never be the same again.

But they would never have guessed they would change the path of Humanity.

Start reading The Mind Drive today, and enjoy a wonderful adventure of tomorrow... 

If you like Ender's Game and Divergent, you'll love The Mind Drive.
Jump aboard for a great adventure tale...

The Mind Drive is set in 2617, just after the end of the Star-Eater Chronicles, by Sci Fi combo Ian Hall and Dennis Smirl.
The Mind Drive is a stand-alone novel in the tradition of E.E.Doc Smith and Robert Heinlein, but with the freshness of Orson Scott Card and Veronica Roth.
You can check it out below... (a link to Amazon)



Come and see the whole range at;
www.ianhallauthor.com


Friday, December 16, 2016

Traditional Scottish ‘Loaded’ Sausage (Meat) Stuffing Recipe

Ready to put in the over... perfect every time.

Whether it be for the traditional Christmas dinner, or for the American Thanksgiving, there's no doubt that the choice of stuffing is high on the agenda.

For me, who's been a voracious meat-eater since a wee boy, I've always leaned towards the "it simply has to be a meat stuffing" camp.
This recipe is based on my own mum’s meat stuffing recipe, which I took, re-vamped slightly and in-doing-so hopefully improved. Containing some fruit, it tastes mildly sweet, juicy, yet still retains the solid ‘meaty’ consistency of traditional sausage meat stuffing.
Obviously your own tastes will not be absolutely in step with mine, so if you want to drop an ingredient, or add one, feel free to do so. As long as you don’t alter the consistency too much, it’ll cook fine. I’ve heard of people adding or substituting cranberries, crushed pineapple, or even walnuts.
Beware though, the eggs are kinda essential to bind/hold it all together while cooking, and the breadcrumbs both soak in flavor from the other ingredients, and dry out the main mix, important for the final product. Without the breadcrumbs, it’s rather goopy.

Here’s my ingredients…

1 lb Pork sausage
1 lb Turkey sausage
1 Large onion
1 Large apple
1 Large pear
½ lb Brown bread breadcrumbs
2 eggs
2 Teaspoons of chopped garlic
Large pinches of salt and pepper

Kitchen items; Large casserole dish, mixing spoon.

Method; Chop the onion, apple, and pear into small pieces, (I use a food processor) and mix ALL ingredients together. There’s no real correct order. I even shred my breadcrumbs in the processor; by far the best way to get them uniform.
(TIP: do the breadcrumbs first, when the food processor is dry... that way they won't stick to the sides)
I then mix the whole mixture by hand, there’s nothing like getting your hands dirty for the process... it's a kind of ritual.
When evenly mixed, I usually build a ring of mix around the edge of the casserole dish (see pic above); this not only ensures even cooking, but also makes it easy to run off any fat given off from the sausages.
You will probably have to drain the fat halfway through cooking. For best results, I’ve even turned the mix upside down about halfway through. (Tricky operation, but the all-round crispy edge is worth the effort)
Stick in the oven, gas at 350F, and cook for a good 90 mins.
Good luck, and I hope you enjoy...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Avenging Steel... Edinburgh's Own WW2 Alternative History Series...

Scotland under Nazi rule! October 1940... 
When German troops march triumphantly along the streets of Edinburgh, James Baird feels drawn to watch.
At 20 years old, James is a student at Edinburgh University, and is ashamed he has done nothing in the defense of his country.
Behind him the high ramparts of iconic Edinburgh Castle are festooned with garish red swastika banners. Sickened by the music and swaggering Nazis, James takes refuge in the Edinburgh University Union bar, determined to drown his sorrows before returning home. 
As his new role in German-controlled Edinburgh is revealed, he is determined to fight the new oppressors in any way he can... but how much can one man do?

Avenging Steel 2
Alternative History. April 1941... 
German troops have conquered Britain.
The Royal Family, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and most of Britain's troops have retreated to Canada; the only front the 'Allies' are fighting is in the deserts of North Africa.
James Baird, a Philosophy student in Edinburgh University, is determined to fight the battle the only way he knows how. He is drawn into the depths of the British Resistance, his fate decided by the S.O.E., Britain's MI-6.
But the Nazi’s have a list; a file containing the names of men for immediate arrest… scientists working in Edinburgh University’s Engineering Department, men vital to the allies war effort.
James and his girlfriend, Alice are drawn into the web of intrigue as a game of nuclear cat and mouse begins…


Avenging Steel 3
In our world of Alternative History, it is now May 1941...
German troops have been Britain's conquerors for over nine months.
James Baird, a Philosophy student in Edinburgh University, and his girlfriend, Alice, are drawn into the depths of the British Resistance, their fate decided by the S.O.E.; Britain's MI-6. 
In this latest adventure, James discovers that men in the University are vanishing without trace. He investigates, only to find that men 'eager to fight' are disappearing from the streets in large numbers all over Scotland.
Are they leaving to join the war effort? Or is reality far more complex and sinister than he could ever have imagined?


Avenging Steel 4
Nazi-controlled Edinburgh, Summer 1941... 
James Baird and his girlfriend Alice are newspaper editors by day and SOE agents by night. James has an idea; an underground newspaper (The Tree of Liberty) published all over Britain, bolstering morale and supporting British resistance against the Nazi regime.
He pushes the idea ‘upstairs’, and begins to organize its launch, only to find himself drawn into a larger political theatre.
As the reins of his pet project slip from his hands, James and Alice’s lives change forever in one lightening trip to London. On their return, events in Edinburgh drive the SOE cells to desperate lengths… lives are on the line, their very existence threatened.
The sound of bullets and grenades rip through the dark night. Another great adventure set in the swastika-strewn streets of Edinburgh.


NEW; Avenging Steel 5
It is October 1941... 
German troops have held Britain for over a year. James Baird, a 21 year old student has joined the SOE and has proven his worth in the resistance against the Germans in Edinburgh. Unknown to James, his superiors have plans for him. It is time to expand his training; the SOE are sending him to Canada's Camp X. For the first time in his life; James is going overseas. He has the vain notion he's going for a medal ceremony, to meet Churchill or something equally glorious... What he doesn't know is... he's about to enter the most rigorous six weeks of his life... and that's just the beginning of his adventure. James soon finds out that getting out of the country is the easy part…

Reviews;
"This is wonderful stuff... Old-fashioned adventure written in a delightful style..." Sean Cafferty
"Scotland's own 'Man in the High Castle'... great escape from the hum-drum..." Geo. Bingham 

AVENGING STEEL is available as a bumper eBook , paperback, or in individual volumes...

Avenging Steel 1: The Fall of Edinburgh
Avenging Steel 2: The Nuclear Option
Avenging Steel 3: The Final Solution 
Avenging Steel: The First Collection... (Available in paperback and eBook)... this book has all first three novellas.
Avenging Steel 4: The Tree of Liberty 
Avenging Steel 5: The Man From Camp X
Also watch out for Avenging Steel 6: The Long Way Home
(Arriving on shelves in Winter 2016)


Monday, July 18, 2016

A Hibernian Fan's Footsteps to Easter Road...

Hibernian's Famous Five, champions of the world in the 1950's

The Fan's Footsteps...

(This is a section of my new book, Avenging Steel 3: The Final Solution, Alternative WW2 History, so some references may seem odd... read on regardless!)
The fan’s journey to the ground begins with him decking himself in his team’s colors.
I had a Hibernian scarf of my own, but I dug in the walk-in closet for grandad’s old green and white woolen one; grandma had knitted it herself. It was the first game for a while, and I wanted to wallow in my own memories. Wrapping it round my neck over my jacket, I could swear I smelled his old tobacco oozing from the worn green wool.
I almost cried.
I opened the door onto the street, the noonday sun hitting me, and making me shield my eyes and squint. Turning left, I soon got onto Bruntsfield Place and took off down the hill. I remembered grandad’s words as I walked, my scarf the only green I could see on the street. “You’re the rain on the moor, the first water that oozes out of the ground, looking for a stream to take you down to the sea. You’re alone, but you know there’s more. The ground is oozing green, son; Hibernian green.”
He was a wordsmith, my Grandad Baird. Maybe that’s where I take it from. We’d played the game many times, walking to the ground, looking around for the next drop of water.
NAKED TRUTH; Andy Murray with Hibs' Scottish Cup

At Tollcross, I spied my first green scarf. At the same time, he spied me, and we shared a common wave across the street; two water droplets heading in tandem for the sea. On Lauriston Place I found myself catching up with two more, a father and son. The father carried his scarf in his hand, the boy, no older than ten, wore a green and white woolen hat, green pom-pom bouncing as he walked. I slowed my pace to walk behind them, wallowing in my secret companionship.
At Forest Road, two men stumbled out of the Doctor’s Bar, both proudly twirling their own scarfs round their necks. Seeing us they waved at their new companions, and set off, leading us past Sandy Bell’s, where we’d abducted poor Leutnant Derwall, just months ago.
As the two men turned down into Chamber’s Street, I realized the ‘burn’ had begun, the old Scot’s word for a small stream. On the Bridges, we picked up a few more ribbons of green, and a few disappeared into the open arms of the many pubs lining the route. Regardless of the charms of the eager ‘boozers’, by Leith Street, the stream had grown.
I caught my breath; it was time for my first stop.
The Black Bull was the pub that grandad met up with his friend; one-o’clock, every Saturday. I checked the time as I walked down the small steps to the door. Always crowded on Hibs home game day, the small ‘snug’ was a magical childhood reminiscence of smells and sounds. I fought my way to the bar and ordered a pint of mild. Turning, I lifted the glass to my lips. “Here’s to you, old man,” I said fondly before downing the beer as only a thirsty man can; three large tasty deluges into a parched throat.
The Proclaimers hit "Sunshine on Leith" is sung every game
Back out onto Leith Street, I walked down the hill, rounded the corner, and ploughed straight into the second stop; The Conan Doyle. This was a bar of large open rooms, lots of men, drinking, looking at Saturday newspapers, checking horse results, looking at the greyhound races planned for that night at Powderhall. With a tear in my eye, I toasted a different Baird. “Here’s to you, Dad. Wherever the heck you are. Scots Greys!” A couple nearby caught the end of my toast. “Seaforths!” they cheered proudly. “K.O.S.B.’s shouted an old-timer, white haired enough to have fought in the last war. He grinned toothlessly and waved his pint glass at me. Many more took up the proud call. I took a drink at the mention of every regiment, and there were many. My glass was empty in no time, and still the toasts rang round the room. I bought a second and wallowed with my new temporary comrades.
Once done, I crossed the busy intersection and walked along Picardy Place, passed the statue to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, green and oxidized from the winter’s attentions. I almost laughed at the warm beautiful sunshine hitting the back of my neck.
Fish, solo and lead singer for Marillion is a huge Hibs fan

With The Playhouse on the opposite side, I got onto Leith Walk proper. Hibs green was now on every fifth person, all walking in the same direction, flowing downhill. “It’s the river, son. Feel it around you.” The old man’s words made me cry openly, enjoying every second of the experience. I was a raindrop, now mingling with many others, heading downstream in a youthful torrent. I wished my grandad were here to share the memory, or even dad. I crossed the road at the top of Elm Row, just up from the German radio station, and onto London Road. Now the river of green was there for all to see. Bobbing heads on the arrow-straight street as far as your eyes could see.
“It’s the river son,” I remember his pipe clenched tightly in his false teeth as he spoke. “As wide as the Amazon, son, as straight as a die.”
I never ever found out what a ‘die’ was.

And the river had slowed. With so many people, there was neither the room nor the need to pass. I slowed to the pace of the masses, and let myself flow to the top of Easter Road, savouring every minute of being part of the swell.
Hibs fans, maybe famous now because of their message...
The last stop. The Claymore.
Grandad’s last stop. A wee dram ‘for the road’. I copied his actions to the last, sipping the expensive draft, loving every minute of it. If I’d thought London Road was slow, the narrow street of Easter Road was worse. Almost every head faced north, we were in a queue for the turnstiles hundreds of yards away. The sluggish river had reached the sea.
Considering the Germans had organized the competition, the gates were incredibly busy, the terraces packed. Inside the stadium, I didn’t see one single German uniform, and for a whole ninety minutes I completely forgot the war. For a few seconds in the second half, it began to drizzle, but I don’t think anyone cared much.
When the referee blew the final whistle, the cheer and release of tension was palpable. I jumped up and down on my spot for many minutes, cheering the teams for their efforts in such times.
In my mind I could see the headlines on Monday’s back page; Hibernian Two, Brave Alloa Nil.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

U-234, Hitler's Last U-Boat... The Hail-Mary Pass to Japan

Crew from the USS Sutton board the U-234 in May, 1945

On April 30th, 1945, the bodies of Adolf Hitler and his new wife, Eva Braun, were placed in a bomb crater and doused with petrol. Trusted guards were stationed to ensure their bodies were burned beyond all recognition.
In the wake of Hitler’s suicide, Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz assumed the position of head of state. Among his first orders was a radio broadcast for all submarines to surface and surrender.

“My U-boat men, six years of war lie behind us… you have fought like lions… U-boat men, unbroken and immaculate, lay down your arms after a heroic fight…”

Few knew the impact his simple statement made in the war against Japan.
U-234 being 'tugged' into Portsmouth, USA

In the middle of the Atlantic, on May 4th, German submarine U-234 first received a garbled version of Dönitz’s message. After much deliberation, six days later, they surfaced to affirm the news. Captain Johann-Heinrich Fehler assembled his crew and passengers, telling them of his intention to surrender to the Americans in Portsmouth.
The only objection to their surrender came from two Japanese Naval officers, Lieutenant Commanders Hideo Tomonaga and Shoji Genzo, who re-stated the U-boats mission; to sail to Japan and deliver essential cargo and weapons. To the Japanese officers, surrender was not an option. The German guards found the two officers on their bunks in full uniform; they had taken poison.
A Henschel HS 262, 'cruise' missile

U-Boat U-234 was a modified mine layer, and the largest German submarine still in service, but for her last mission she had been turned into a cargo vessel. Packed into every section of the hull were goods destined for the defense of Japan…


  • A fully functional ME 262; the world’s first jet fighter.
  • A Henschel HS 293 guided missile; the world’s first cruise missile.
  • Parts for building a V-2; the world’s first intercontinental missile.
  • Several tons of blueprints for every weapon built, designed and considered by Germany.
  • 1200lbs of Uranium 235 (about 20% of the amount required for an atomic bomb).
(Sailors laughed when the Uranium was taken aboard, labeled U-235, they thought they had got the number of the submarine wrong)
ME-262, the fastest plane in the world

Unknown to most of the world, the war had taken a sharp and decisive turn.

As far back as July 1943, the Japanese had one stumbling block to their own Nuclear-bomb project; they could not get enough U-235 to provide them with ‘critical mass’ (the phrase used to denote the amount of Uranium needed to create the chain reaction powering the explosion). Three Japanese submarines had almost got back to Japan with their crucial U-235 cargo, but all were sunk in the attempt.
After the surrender of the U-234, and hearing of its strangely-labeled cargo, Robert Oppenheimer himself searched the Submarine.
The US Uranium enriching plant was situated at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Here, the German uranium was processed, and included in the Manhattan Project’s critical mass.
Three months later, in August 1945, the Americans bombed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In a material so rare on the earth, it is inconceivable that German Uranium, once destined for Japan's own nuclear program, was not used in the American bombs.
History…. You just can’t make this stuff up.

A couple of my related books... browse or buy at your leisure.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Dunkirk 2: The Untold Story. Operation Cycle & Operation Ariel

British and French troops, rescued, on their way to Blighty... 13th June, 1940
How many of you readers have heard of the Dunkirk evacuation (Operation Dynamo)?
The black-and-white movies, Churchill’s plea to the nation, the flotilla of little boats, the miracle of rescuing a third of a million men from certain Nazi capture.
The fact remains that from May 28th to June 4th, 338,000 helpless British and French troops were rescued from appalling conditions as the Dunkirk beaches and port were strafed by Messerschmitt’s and dive-bombed by Stukas. It truly was a terrible experience, and the ‘miracle of Dunkirk’ will continue to be one of the reasons that Britain could continue fighting the war.
But its miraculous tale does overshadow the second stage of the troop embarkation.
From the silence which usually follows the word, Dunkirk, many assume the Battle of France was over, the guns silent, Hitler’s triumphant march into Paris heralded by the noise of crickets in the cool summer morning.
But this image is far from the truth.
Millions of men were still fighting.
When the Germans renewed the fighting on the 5th June, they met staunch resistance from French and British troops, including General De Gaule’s Tank Division. The RAF flew from bases south of Paris, the French Air Force, also rejuvenated, took to the air against the Luftwaffe.
But it was a rearguard action. Soon British, French, Polish and Czech forces retreated to the Normandy ports.
SS Guinean. conditions aboard were extremely cramped

Operation Cycle (10th – 13th June, 1940) was immediately put into action.
British forces cut off from escape at Dunkirk, terribly disorganized and ill equipped, fled westwards along the coast, making for Le Havre. The 51st Highland Division, assisted by General De Gaule’s tanks fought a bloody rearguard against Rommel's 7th Panzer Division. With the port of Le Havre suddenly cut off, the allies fled to St Valery-En-Caux where Operation Cycle was ready to embark them.
There would be no flotilla of little boats this time. Under air cover from the RAF, the troops were transferred at the port onto destroyers, and civilian ships, commandeered for the purpose, and ferried off the beaches. From 10th-11th June, 2137 British, and 1184 French were rescued from St Valery before the 51st Highland Division finally surrendered.
The men who had managed to reach Le Havre fared better. From the 10th – 13th June, over 11,000 British troops were rescued.
And the relentless Germans pushed onward, rolling British and French troops further westward.

Operation Ariel (15th – 25th June, 1940) commenced.
Despite the lessons learned at Dunkirk, Operation Cycle had shown that large-scale troop embarkation onto large ships could be accomplished. On June 15th, a flotilla of Royal Navy and Merchant Marine ships converged on the ports of Western France. The ships were supported from southern French bases by five Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter squadrons which were further assisted by squadrons from England. The task was to enter the major sea-ports of St Nazaire, and Nantes and rescue British, Polish and Czech troops who had been directed there.
Under Luftwaffe attack, the ships loaded troops and equipment, but disorganization made figures inaccurate.
On June 17th the Luftwaffe sank the Cunard liner HMT Lancastria in the Loire estuary. The troopship had just embarked thousands of troops, RAF personnel and civilians. It is estimated that at least 3500 died in the sinking.
To conform to the terms of the Armistice on June 22nd, the evacuation of Operation Ariel officially ended on June 25th.
Over 191,000 troops were rescued in Operation Ariel, mainly British, Polish and Czech personnel, although accurate figures of nationalities are not known.
In all, Operations Ariel and Cycle rescued over 200,000 troops, including RAF ground crew, ancillary staff, and tons of equipment. Not quite the dramatic rescue of Dinkirk’s flotilla of little boats, but not a drop in a bucket either.
Considering the amount of men deployed, and the amount of men rescued, British deaths in the battle France were only 10,000, and that figure includes the 3500 from the HMT Lancastria.
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