Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Giveaway, Humour, New Books

The Spa Break Caroline James 4*#Review @CarolineJames12 @0neMoreChapter_ #Friendship #SecondChances #Heartwarming #age #women #selfdiscovery #humour #uplit #ContemporaryFiction #BookReview #BlogTour @rararesources #TheSpaBreak #giveaway

A weekend at the spa will leave four old friends with a whole lot more than they’d bargained for…

The glossy brochure promised a serene experience of total tranquillity and rejuvenation, but what best friends Bridgette, Emily, Serena and Marjory get is a weekend that upends their lives!

There for a girls’ weekend to celebrate Bridgette’s impending seventieth birthday, the spa soon has these spicy sexagenarians realising that there are unexpected benefits to age and experience and that over the hill certainly doesn’t mean out of the game…in any respect…

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I received a copy of this book from the author.

My Thoughts…

Four friends go on a weekend spa break to celebrate a birthday; all are older and feel their lives are not what they want them to be. The spa setting is full of colourful characters and new experiences, which help the four friends to find themselves again and move on positively.
The women are believable characters that the reader cares about, brought to life with detailed backstories and their spa experiences. The humour is plentiful, with pertinent, poignant moments that resonate. It’s escapist and uplifting.

CAROLINE JAMES

Best-selling author of women’s fiction, Caroline James, has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that often features in her novels. She is based in the UK but escapes whenever lockdown allows. A public speaker, which has included talks and lectures on cruise ships worldwide, Caroline is also a consultant and food writer. Caroline writes articles and runs writing workshops, is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, the Society of Women’s Writer & Journalists and the Society of Authors. In her spare time, Caroline can be found walking with Fred, her Westie and in summer, wild water swimming. In winter, when not working, she relaxes with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.

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Giveaway to Win a Fred the Westie soft toy and a personalised box of chocolates (UK Only)

Click on the giveaway link to enter.

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the giveaway link above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for the despatch or delivery of the prize.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Giveaway, Giveaway, Mystery, New Books, Romance

Rainbows End in Ferry Lane Market Nicola May 5* #Review @NicolaMay1 @HodderBooks @rararesources #Cornwall #Market #Family #Friendship #Relationships #Romance #Art #love #mystery #SelfRealisation #BlogTour #BookReview #PublicationDay #giveaway

Book Three in bestselling sensation Nicola May’s gorgeous new series – catch up with Book One, WELCOME TO FERRY LANE MARKET, and Book Two, STARRY SKIES IN FERRY LANE MARKET, now!

39-year-old Glanna Pascoe – also known as ‘the Rainbow Painter’ – runs the Hartmouth Gallery in Ferry Lane Market in Cornwall. She is just getting her head and broken heart around being single, childless, and sober when Cupid flies in, shooting arrows all over the place.

Meeting the mysterious and fascinating Isaac Benson, a famous local artist, and recluse, allows Glanna’s disillusioned heart and attitude to soften, and she begins to learn more about herself than she ever thought possible. Confused by her growing feelings for Isaac, Glanna throws herself into organising a life-drawing class at her gallery, using both male and female nudes – and setting local tongues wagging.


A theft from her gallery and the return of ex-love Oliver Trueman cause Glanna to wonder if a pot of gold will be appearing at the end of her rainbow. And will it bring her the happiness, she has sought for so long?

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I received a copy of this book from Hodder and Stoughton.

My Thoughts…

Ferry Lane Market is a memorable setting, and the author brings it to life with its relatable characters and detailed description. Glanna’s journey of self-realisation is believably poignant. Her battle with addiction and her lack of self despite her material wealth resonates. Old friends from the market reappear, sharing their life events, and there are plenty of humorous interludes.

I enjoyed getting to know the Ferry Lane Market community, who are standout characters. This book is most notable for its lovely friendships and the element of forgiveness it portrays. A perfect summer read set in a picturesque coastal location, immersive and uplifting.

Nicola May

Nicola May writes ‘chick-lit with a kick’ and is the internationally bestselling author of fifteen romantic comedies. All have appeared in the Kindle bestseller charts. The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay became the best-selling Kindle book in the UK across all genres in January 2019 and March 2020 respectively. It was also the second best-selling eBook of 2019 in the UK. Nicola’s books have also been sold in many languages.

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Read my review of Welcome to Ferry Lane Market

Read my review of Starry Skies In Ferry Lane Market

Giveaway to Win PB copies of Rainbows End in Ferry Lane Market for you and a friend (Open to the UK only)

Click on the link to enter the giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for the despatch or delivery of the prize.

Posted in Audiobook Review, Blog Blitz, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Friendship, Giveaway, New Books

A Nose for Mischief K.T. Lee 4*#Review #Narrator Ann Richardson @KTLeeWrites @hersmoothvoice #Audiobook #Review #cozymystery #RiverbendK9 @rararesources #AudioBlitz #ANoseforMischief #cosycrime

When materials engineer Zoey Butler lands her dream job at Future State Energy, she believes her research in renewable energy will make headlines. Unfortunately for her, she’s right. Zoey is working on her latest experiment when FBI Special Agent Alexis Thompson and her K-9 partner, Waffle, raid Future State and arrest the head of the development for fraud. Zoey helps the FBI find answers in the aftermath, but she soon finds herself jobless and unemployable. Desperate and out of options, she reaches out to Alexis, the one person who knows Zoey was duped like everyone else.

Liam Graham is an FBI special agent and instructor at Riverbend K-9 Academy. When Alexis brings in a new recruit with an unusual background, Liam pairs her up with Tasha, a dog in need of a handler to stay in their competitive program. Zoey is thrilled to put her past behind her and give the mischievous rescue dog her own second chance. However, shortly after she arrives, the FBI realizes the Future State case is far from closed. And Zoey may be the key to solving it.

Zoey offers to go back to Future State to help the FBI end things once and for all. Only this time, she’ll have Liam and Tasha for backup. But, the problems at Future State are more explosive than any of them suspect.

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I received a copy of this audiobook from the author via Authors’ Direct in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The first book in the Riverbend K-9 series works well as an audiobook. The characters come to life with the professional narration, and it keeps the listener engaged throughout. A North American cosy crime story this is character-driven. The characters are complex, but the plot is relatively simple, allowing the characters to shine.

There are elements of friendship and romance and lots of lovely dog characters who are the stars of this story.

K.T.Lee

K.T. Lee is a writer, mom, and engineer who grew up on a steady diet of books from a wide variety of genres. She’s the author of multiple books, including those in the Riverbend K-9 Series and The Calculated Series.

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Ann Richardson (Narrator)

Ann Richardson has been happily sequestered away narrating in her home studio since 2008. She narrates for large audiobook publishers such as Blackstone, Penguin Random House, MacMillan, Oasis, Tantor, and many others, in addition to smaller, independent publishers and directly with authors. Her performances have garnered several Earphones awards and glowing reviews in AudioFile Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area but spent her youth in the Midwest, where she grew up surrounded by animals and cornfields. “I’m so lucky to have discovered what I was truly called to do with my talents and energy. I fall in love with nearly every book I narrate and am also incredibly grateful to work with such talented authors and publishers in this cohesive, supportive industry.”

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Giveaway to Win 10 x Audio Copies of A Nose For Mischief via Author’s Direct. (Open INT)

Click on the giveaway link to enter

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Giveaway link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for the despatch or delivery of the prize.

Posted in Cover Reveal, Friendship, New Books, Romance, Romantic Comedy

A Scottish Highland Surprise Julie Shackman #CoverReveal @G13Julie @0neMoreChapter_ @rararesources #AScottishHighlandSurprise

Discover the secrets and surprises that the scenic Scottish town of Briar Glen has to offer…

When wedding planner Sophie Harkness refuses to move a friend’s wedding to accommodate a spoilt bridezilla, she finds herself out of a job. That is until she discovers her late grandma has purchased a local shop for her in the pretty Scottish town of Briar Glen.

Surprised and delighted, Sophie opens her own porcelain shop in honour of her grandmother. But when an unusual tea set is left with Sophie, along with a mysterious letter, she can’t help but be intrigued by the story behind the antique.

And when the handsome but aloof art critic Xander North comes knocking on her door, Sophie is about to find out the true colourful past of her latest treasure.

The perfect feel-good romance.

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Publication Date: 22nd April 

Julie Shackman is a former journalist from Scotland, who has always wanted to write feel-good romance. As well as being an author, Julie also writes verses and captions for greetings card companies. Julie admits to having an obsession with stationery and handbags. She is married, has two sons and a Romanian rescue pup, who she named Cooper. A Scottish Highland Surprise is Julie’s sixth novel.

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Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Crime, Extract, Fantasy, Mystery, New Books, Noir, Political Thriller, Science Fiction

Million Eyes 11 C.R.Berry Q&A with @CRBerry1 @elsewhenpress #BlogTour #SFF #SpeculativeFiction #Conspiracy #thriller #Author #Interview #MillionEyes11

TIME IS THE ULTIMATE SAVIOUR

Following an impossible discovery in East London, archaeologist Dr Samantha Lester joins forces with software developer Adam Bryant to investigate the events that led to the disappearance of his best friend, Jennifer, and to bring down the people responsible – Million Eyes.

Before long, Lester and Adam are drawn into a tangled conspiratorial web involving dinosaurs, the Gunpowder Plot, Jesus, the Bermuda Triangle, and a mysterious history-hopping individual called the Unraveller, who is determined to wipe Million Eyes off the temporal map.

But as the secrets of Million Eyes’ past are revealed, picking a side in this fight might not be so easy.

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Q&A with C.R. Berry

How would you describe your books? What genre(s) do they encompass?

I would describe the Million Eyes trilogy as conspiracy thrillers, first and foremost. However, they’re also science fiction books and historical fiction books too. The premise of the series is this: what if certain events in our history weren’t supposed to happen? What if things like Princess Diana’s death, the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower and even the extinction of the dinosaurs only happened because of time travellers? The books incorporate themes such as destiny, power, faith, reason and the greater good. 

Time travel, alternative history and conspiracy theories all feature in your stories. What interests you about these themes?

Time travel has always fascinated me. I love the idea of being able to go back and see how things were or go forwards and see how things turn out. You can tell bigger stories with time travel.

My love of history and conspiracy theories sort of go hand in hand. History is full of mysteries, and conspiracy theories are used to try and solve them. I think my interest in conspiracy theories could be traced back to Year 8 History when we learned about the shooting of William II in the New Forest and all the people who may have been involved in a plot to have him offed. I loved learning about that, which is how it made its way into the first Million Eyes.

How do you create your stories? Do you begin with the characters, theme, or setting? Why is this?

I begin with the plot—always. I start with a story I want to tell, and then I choose the best characters I can think of to help me tell it. In the case of Million Eyes, it was a story about a corporation using consumer technology to hide the fact that it was secretly tweaking the timeline. And it was about offering fun, alternative explanations for who Jesus was, what lies in the Bermuda Triangle, why Princess Diana was killed, and so on. I then created characters who are just everyday folk that get dragged into a perilous quest for the truth.

I guess I do it this way round because when it comes to selecting a TV series, movie, or book, it’s the plot I’m most interested in. I can’t stand character-driven stories where there’s zero plot progression.

Which part of the writing process is the most difficult for you? Why?

The historical research! I don’t even want to imagine the number of hours I’ve spent reading about how 1st-century Nazareth might’ve looked, or scrutinising architectural plans of the Tower of London in three different time frames, or the fashions of the Middle Ages and the Iron Age and Victorian times. Historical research has, of course, been necessary to help make the trilogy as authentic as possible, but it has also made the writing process a lot longer and more arduous. 

What is the best and worst part of being a writer?

The best part is when I complete a chapter that I think is great—most likely a dialogue scene where my main protagonist or antagonist is unleashing some serious sass. The worst part is when I have a serious block. There’s been a few of those while crafting Million Eyes, which is why there’s not going to be a shred of time travel in my next book!

What’s next, another book in this series or something different?

I’m two-thirds of the way through the final book in the Million Eyes trilogy, Million Eyes III: Ouroboros. This one is going to spend more time in the future than the past, and it’s also going to reveal the origins of the titular “Unraveller” in the second book. They’ll be a showdown between my protagonists and Million Eyes, and all the loose ends will get tied up with a timey wimey bow.

After that, I’m going to be working on a conspiracy horror called The Puddle Bumps. I want to write something with lots of blood and gunk (well, alright, Million Eyes has some of that, but The Puddle Bumps will have more).

C.R. Berry

C.R. Berry started out in police stations and courtrooms—ahem, as a lawyer, not a defendant—before taking up writing full-time. He’s currently head of content for a software developer and writes fiction about conspiracies and time travel.

Berry was published in Best of British Science Fiction 2020 from Newcon Press with a Million Eyes short story. He’s also been published in magazines and anthologies such as Storgy and Dark Tales, and in 2018 was shortlisted in the Grindstone Literary International Novel Competition. 

In 2021, he bought his first house with his girlfriend, Katherine, in Clanfield, Hampshire, discovering whole new levels of stress renovating it (not helped by a rogue builder running off with most of their budget). The couple are now in the fun stage, going full-on nerd and theming all the rooms—their bedroom is a spaceship, their kitchen a 50s diner.  

Now that the dust is settling, Berry is refocusing on the final book in the Million Eyes trilogy and getting back to writing his first collaborative novel with Katherine: a space-set adventure with aliens, terrorists, a mysterious wall that surrounds the universe and—of course—conspiracies.  

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Million Eyes: Extra Time is available for FREE download

Extract from Million Eyes 11 C.R. Berry

[Excerpt taken from Chapter 1 – the two main characters in this chapter are Edward and Richard, the Princes in the Tower]

66 Million Years Ago

“So how do we get back to 1483?”

Edward thought about this for a moment. He remembered the first time they travelled in time. He remembered being in the realm of ghosts, after swallowing the pills, feeling like he was floating. Their bedchamber was suddenly filled with strangely dressed people—transparent people—walking through, literally through, one another. He could see through the walls, through the furniture, through the floor to the room below. He could see beyond the Tower to the river. Everything and everyone were eerily ethereal and blurred together in front of his eyes. And Edward remembered that when he concentrated on one thing amid the haze, it sharpened into focus, all the other ghosts falling away. There was a painting. A painting that looked like it was of him and his brother. It was transparent at first, like everything else. But as Edward stared at it, it became clear, and everything else started to fade. A moment later, they were back in their bedchamber and all the ghosts had gone, but it was four hundred years later.

Things happened in much the same way when they ate the second pill only minutes ago, standing on the streets of London in 1888. Edward remembered returning to the realm of ghosts, the streets filled with shiny horse-less carriages, people in eccentric clothes and giant structures all around. All transparent of course. Ghosts, like before.

Only Edward couldn’t remember fixing on anything that time. He couldn’t remember seeing anything shift into focus while the rest fell away.

So how did they get here?

He told his brother his theory on how they ended up in 1888, that his focusing on one thing in particular seemed to pull them out of whatever it was they were actually in and into a specific period in time. But he admitted he couldn’t remember what he had focused on before they arrived here.

“That’s because it wasn’t you,” said Richard after a moment’s thought.

“What?” said Edward.

“It was me. I looked at something. I focused on it. It became clear, like you said. Everything else—all the ghosts—started fading away. We were holding hands at the time. A moment later, we were here.”

It was presumptuous of Edward to think that he was the only one with the ability to plot their journey, as though time itself was only going to respond to him. Richard had brought them here.

“So what did you see?” said Edward. “What was it you focused on?”

It was like two tiny flames went out in Richard’s eyes. His face paled and his throat bulged with a swallow. An aura of fear had come over him like a deep shadow.

“What’s wrong?” said Edward.

“I saw… a monster,” replied Richard, looking down at his feet. “It was coming towards me. Charging at me like a bull. I was terrified. Did you not see it?”

“I saw creatures. I saw a lot of things. None could see me, though. What did the monster look like?”

Richard sighed, raised his head and looked at Edward. He opened his mouth to answer, then the direction of his gaze shifted slightly and his whole face dropped.

“That,” he whispered, rigid.

Edward spun round, following his gaze.

Lord have mercy.

Not far from where they stood, standing partly shaded beneath a cycad and trampling a large patch of hornworts, was a creature three times as tall as them, with dark green, brown-flecked skin that was scaly like a snake. Dangling from its bulbous middle were two small arms with three-fingered hands ending in sickle-shaped claws. Its two legs and feet were similar, only much larger and longer, and along its back was a row of tall, bony spines linked by skin. It waved a long tail that was as thick as a tree at the base and tapered to a point, and looked like it could propel a carriage into the air with a single whack. Its long head bore two horns and a tapered jaw, the hot sun gleaming off multiple, tightly packed rows of ravenous-looking teeth.

Edward’s heart was pounding as they watched the creature lean forwards, its two eyes—like yellow billiard balls—staring straight at them.

Neither boy moved. Richard whispered, “What do we do?”

Edward swallowed hard. He plunged his hand into his satchel and pulled out the pot of red pills.

“We have to—” started Edward.

“Edward!” his brother screamed.

The creature stooped low and launched into a run.

“Run!”

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Childrens Books, Giveaway, New Books

The Whisker Twitchers Kathy Tallentire 5*#Review @AyupNanaDuck #Illustrator Becky Stout #kidlit #PictureBook #ChildrensBooks @rararesources #BlogTour #BookReview #TheWhiskerTwitchers #giveaway

Grandad is up to something.

When Bella wakes up to find him gone, she heads to the surface to look for him – but the world looks different.

Can Bella conquer her fear of the unknown to find out what is going on? And where is Grandad?

For bunny lovers everywhere.

Author (Comma Books) Buy Link Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The Whisker Twitchers is a beautifully illustrated book about finding the courage to experience new adventures featuring cute rabbits. Bella worries when Grandad behaves oddly, but he keeps his secret until the next day. Bella is amazed and a little scared when faced with snow, but her curiosity makes her brave, and she finds it’s fun.

The text is simple enough for young readers to read and understand. It’s also a perfect book for adults to read and expand and share their experiences of wintry weather antics.

Kathy Tallentire

Writing is a relatively new part of my life. When I go to schools and am introduced as an author it is still a bit of a surprise to me! 

It was the birth of my daughter (in 2016) that changed everything. I had spent many years building up my career in accountancy, accumulating business qualifications and generally working hard in that one field. 

Spending time with my little girl and reading hundreds of different children’s stories really inspired me. My first book, Nana Duck, was published in 2017. It did well and I found that I enjoyed visiting schools and nurseries. There is nothing like reading your story and getting great reactions from a class full of eager little children.

Now, I’m having ideas all of the time. I’m so looking forward to bringing more stories into the world, to seeing my characters come to life through the talented illustrators that I work with, and inspiring more children in my local area and beyond.

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Giveaway to Win 2 x Signed Copies of The Whisker Twitchers

(Open to UK Only)

Click on link to enter giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the giveaway link above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for the fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Posted in Contemporary Fiction, Cover Reveal, Cover Reveal, Literary Fiction, New Books, Thriller

White Dog Rupert Whewell #CoverReveal #WhiteDogBook @wearewhitefox @midaspr #thriller #literaryfiction #preorder #18November2021

White Dog is a literary thriller set against the backdrop of the contemporary art world. It follows the fortunes of Ryder, a cynical art deal who aspires to the heights, yet despises the people who populate those realms.

On his way to the top, back down, and back up again, Ryder encounters a picaresque collection of characters and gets drawn into a web of intrigue that involves murder, money-laundering, and materialism. But can his new-found fame and fortune ever make up for the loss of the one thing he ever really valued in life?

White Dog will take you on a rollercoaster ride of sex, drugs, and art – of violence, blackmail, hedonism, and dark politics. Are you ready to face the wolves?

Publish date: Thursday 18 November 2021 – Whitefox- Paperback & eBook

#preorder Amazon UK

RUPERT WHEWELL was born in Buckinghamshire in 1969. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from Downing College, Cambridge, before working in advertising in Hong Kong and later as a recruitment consultant. He established his own firm, Bateman Gray – named after the respected protagonists of his two favourite novels – in London, specialising in placing bankers. A keen adventurer, Rupert loved hillwalking, climbing and skiing, counting skiing down Mont Blanc as one of his greatest triumphs.

With his fiftieth birthday looming, he joined a group setting out to climb peaks in the Nanda Devi area of India in May 2019. An avalanche brought about his early death in the Himalayas, together with the loss of his seven climbing companions. He is survived by his mother Elaine, brother Andrew and sister Lisa, having no children of his own.


White Dog is his first novel, published posthumously.

The only novel from budding author Rupert Whewell, who sadly lost his life in a tragic climbing accident in the Nanda Devi region of the Himalayas. At the time of his death, the manuscript of White Dog was left incomplete, with Rupert’s plans for the book’s ending remaining a mystery.

As a tribute to her brother and his love of words, Rupert’s sister Lisa Anson worked closely with renowned author John McDonald to complete White Dog, which allowed her to come to terms with his unexpected passing.

This book has been a long time in the making. Rupert always loved writing and talked often about his desire to write a book. Distracted by a full life and being present with his friends and family, it remained in the background, referenced, and variously started without real progress. In his late forties, he started to put pen to paper in earnest and White Dog was born. Rupert was a very special person; not just to me – as a lifelong presence – but to his many friends. His tragic death is something I will never get over and will never forget.

I have taken on the task of finishing and publishing his book, which he left 80 percent complete. It was important to me to see his story through and share his writing. It brought me closer to Rupert, and I hope it will keep his memory alive for those that knew him and will entertain others who did not.”

Lisa Anson, Rupert’s sister.
Posted in Adventure Fiction, Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Friendship, Magic, New Books, Young Adult

Earthlings : The Beginning Ray Star 5*#Review @RayStarBooks @chronospublish @midaspr #Earthlings #ReadGreen #SavethePlanet #magick #dysotopian #animals #BlogTour #BookReview #AuthorInterview #QandA #MondayBlogs

A twisting tale of elemental magick and a broken ecosystem, Earthlings is the spellbinding debut from Ray Star exploring family, friendship and the intrinsic value of nature

Peridot Watkins has always lived a very sheltered life. Raised on a remote island by an over-protective mother, she has never spoken to anyone outside of her family.

Until one day, a strange boy Euan knocks on her window, mumbling about escape from captivity on the mainland and Peri quickly learns that the world isn’t safe for people like them. It isn’t safe for Elementals, those who have the power to control earth, air, fire, water and spirit.

On her quest to learn the truth, Peri escapes the island to discover that the world is worse than she could have possibly imagined. Humans are slaves, animals can talk and the world is run by unruly chickens.

Peri is thrown into a world she barely understands; caught in an ongoing battle for freedom and struggling to command her magick whilst trying to find Euan, who is entangled with people who may not be as straight forward as they seem. Peri’s abilities may be what is needed to save humanity but at what cost?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author via Midas PR in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Earthlings is intended for the young adult fantasy age group, but it explores issues that affect everyone. There is something in this story to capture most people’s interest. It envisages an alternative world where the balance of power shifts from humanity to the animal world. Whether you are an advocate of animal welfare or not, it’s hard not to see that current practices using animals are likely to harm not just them but humans too.

Peri’s sheltered life leaves her unprepared for her exceptional skills and the real world she encounters. This story is about how she copes and the difference she can make. It’s a coming-of-age fantasy story, but its setting and the world-building gives it a dystopian ethos. The inhumanity shown to animals is reversed in this world with humans as the farmed captive creatures. The story has a serious message that is impactful because of the quality of the storytelling. Adventure, friendship, family and relationships are all explored. Magickal practices feature strongly in this story through the main protagonist and as a major plot strand giving this story an engaging vibrancy.

The characters are believably crafted and draw the reader quickly into a world that should defy belief but doesn’t.

Q&A with Ray Star – #Earthlings

When creating your story, which comes first, the characters, plot or setting? Why do you think this is?

I am going to be completely honest with you, I have no plan of action when it comes to writing. The words find their way to me when I’m in the moment, and I rarely, if ever, know what I am going to write.

The Earthlings story came to me bizarrely when I was at lunch with my mother, a few weeks after my dad’s funeral. We were seated next to a small tropical fish tank, and I remember feeling so sad for the fish that would inevitably spend their lives swimming round in circles, never experiencing freedom.

I remember vividly, turning to Mum and saying quite out of the blue, “I’m going to write a book about animals that can talk.”

She stopped eating, put her fork down and said with a smile, “Well, why not?”

“Yes,” I thought, “why not indeed?”

I looked down at my dad’s ring that I wear always, and as the green gem twinkled back at me, Peridot’s tale came to life from there.

What are the inspirations for Earthlings – The Beginning, your debut fantasy novel?

Animals and the environment were the reason behind the creation of the Earthlings trilogy. As a practising eclectic green witch, I have a deep love for the natural world, and it pains me to witness how humanity neglects our home and its inhabitants.

I wanted to write a book that had a conscience to the narrative, enabling readers to contemplate how life could be if we were no longer the dominant species on the planet.  

World-building is an essential component of fantasy novels. How did you create yours?

This was surprisingly the easiest part of writing Earthlings, I looked at modern day society and without giving too much away, reversed some of the roles.

I remember thinking another writer might have a similar concept and beat me to it, itching to publish the book so I didn’t miss the opportunity to share the Earthlings tale.

Did you set out to write a book suited to the young adult market? If so, can you share why you believe they are your target audience?

I knew from the moment I wrote the first chapter that I wanted the story to revolve around teenagers, finding their inner power and trying to make positive changes for the planet. It’s a concept I believe we can all relate to.

Deep down, everyone wants to make the world a better place.

I also wanted to incorporate some of my daily practises as an eclectic witch into the novel, as an avid YA Fantasy lover, giving Peridot magick (yes – magick with a ‘k’), was too tempting to resist.

This was the only aspect of Earthlings that I debated – whether to include magick. In the end, it was my love for YA Fantasy that made it an easy decision to make.

 Is this book part of a series? If so, what aspect of elemental magick and the ecosystem does the second book explore?

Earthlings includes genuine magickal practises that I use in my own rituals, from herbal lore, crystal healing and invoking the elements to following moon cycles – I wanted to include practical magick that works and that we can use in our lives today.

Earthlings is book one of a trilogy as the story has many depths that I wanted to cover, and I physically could not cram them all into one book, as much as I wanted to!

The following book in the trilogy (Dominion) is in the editing process due for release this festive period, with the final instalment (Land of hope and glory) to be released next year.

A little inside secret for your followers; I will be writing a prequel (The Changing) which will be Peridot’s mother’s story explaining how the Earthlings world came to be, and I plan to have a spin off series from this once that book is complete.

Readers can sign up to my newsletter on raystarbooks.com for more details on this to come next year!

 What five words summarise your story. Can you explain why?

Unexpected. Intriguing. Disconcerting. Moving. Magickal.

Earthlings is the world we live in today, reversed, and with a hearty helping of magick added to each page.

Ray Star

Ray Star is a Fantasy author from Essex with a passion for animal rights and eco-living. She can often be found writing, exploring nature and occasionally stargazing underneath a full moon with a tarot deck in one hand and a strong cuppa in the other.

Earthlings was conceived from a love for the environment and inspired by her father, whose passing was a catalyst in leading a greener lifestyle.

Ray’s dream is to one day open an animal sanctuary and wildlife reserve in memory of her father. Earthlings is Ray’s debut novel and the first book in the Earthlings trilogy.

#Earthlings

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Posted in Author Interview, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Domestic Suspense, New Books, Noir, Psychological Suspense, Suspense

Circle of Betrayal Ruth O’Neill 4* #Review @ruthoneill1 #psychologicalsuspense #domestic #BookReview #kindleunlimited #AuthorInterview

Lena Farnham has it all: a job she loves, a wonderful husband, a huge house, and a baby about to arrive. She’s the happiest she’s ever been, and she can’t believe how lucky she is.

Unfortunately, Lena’s luck is about to run out.

Someone is following her, and not only that – they’re leaving frightening messages, and threatening her perfect life. Even worse? Her husband Sean doesn’t believe any of it.

When the baby finally arrives, however, Lena’s follower is the least of her worries. Everything in her life is about to change, but why? What did she do to deserve this? And what isn’t Sean telling her?

Lena embarks on a journey to uncover the lies, deceit, and betrayal from the one person she loves and trusts the most… her husband.

Even the most perfect people can have dark pasts – and even darker secrets. 

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My Thoughts…

This story has an addictive quality essential for psychological suspense.

Lena is an unreliable protagonist, but this only becomes clear as the story progresses. She’s easy to empathise with. Sean, the love of Lena’s life, has secrets and is unlikeable. Various other viewpoints give the reader an omnipotent view.

Some of the plot twists are easy to discern, but there are suspenseful elements in this story. The more developed characters’ motivations make this an absorbing read. There is some repetition from the many viewpoints. Less information would make the plot more edgy and intense.

This disturbing, domestic psychological suspense immerses the reader in the characters’ lives. Its implications are immense and resonate.

I read this book on Kindle Unlimited.

Q&A with Ruth O’Neill

Which comes first when you are creating your novel, characters, plot or setting? Why is this?

For me personally, I always begin with the plot I like to know where I am going before I create my characters. Although I do have a strong idea as to how my characters will be integrated into my story, I do not really develop all aspects of their personality until the story unfolds and I can tweak their character to match what is happening.

What are the inspirations for your latest book, Circle of Betrayal?

I was inspired to write this book because I wanted to write a story about characters that have domestic noir issues. I love this genre, so for me it was incredibly exciting creating a story that turns into a minefield of betrayal and deception.

How do you make your dialogue authentic?

This is one of the most difficult things for me to develop; I would say that I’ve learnt a lot from reading different authors where dialogue was a strong part of their stories. This helped me understand how to allow dialogue to develop and be interesting. Dialogue must sound like it does in real life, so I do spend considerable time reading aloud what is being said and this helps me keep the flow of conversation realistic.

Why do you write psychological suspense?

I`ve always enjoyed reading such stories before I became an author, so it seemed a natural progression to combine my personal interest to my writing. I love the challenge of trying to keep readers glued to the page and keeping them guessing. Writing about the dark truths, lies, cheating, manipulation, and heinous crimes that happen under the veneer of everyday lives, and writing a plot full of twist and turns allows me to enter the minds of readers allowing them to wonder what’s going to happen next.

Describe your latest release in five words and say why they epitomise your story.

Tense, Twisty, Domestic, Captivating & Heart-breaking. These five words, including the title of my new release, Circle of Betrayal, epitomise what my story is really about as they are all integrated into the background of my story. They become more apparent as the revealing revelations come to a climax.

Can you share what the best things about being a writer are?

I find writing very therapeutic, my first book, Sunshine and Tears, was a story I developed from my own personal experiences, and I found it extremely rewarding. After so much positive feedback about the book and with so many ideas floating around in my head it seemed natural to just develop these ideas into books. The best thing about being a writer is being able to take so many of these ideas into a different world in which readers can become totally immersed in.

Receiving positive reviews from readers who have enjoyed my books gives me a real lift and being part of the writing community is enriching. I’ve made many friends in the last six years I’ve been writing and it feels amazing when I connect with people through my writing.

What are you currently writing?

I’m working on a new psychological thriller about three sisters. It’s a dark story with dark undertones which will hopefully drag the reader in and never let themgo!  

Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Historical Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Mystery, New Books, Suspense

The Distant Dead Lesley Thomson 5*#Review @LesleyJmThomson @HoZ_Books #TheDetectivesDaughter @Aria_Fiction #BlogTour #BookReview #TheDistantDead #MurderMystery #Mystery #Blitz1940 Q&A

A woman lies dead in a bombed-out house. A tragic casualty of the Blitz? Or something more sinister?

Cleaner-turned-detective Stella Darnell connects a murder in Tewkesbury Abbey to a decades-old mystery in wartime London. From the number 1 bestselling author of The Detective’s Daughter.

LONDON, 1940

Several neighbours heard the scream of the woman in the bombed-out house. One told the detective she thought the lady had seen a mouse. Another said it wasn’t his business what went on behind closed doors. None of them imagined that a trusting young woman was being strangled by her lover.

TEWKESBURY, 2020

Beneath the vast stone arches of Tewkesbury Abbey, a man lies bleeding, close to death. He is the creator of a true-crime podcast which now will never air. He was investigating the murder of a 1940s police pathologist – had he come closer to the truth than he realised?

Stella Darnell has moved to Tewkesbury to escape from death, not to court it. But when this man dies in her arms, Stella, impelled to root out evil when she finds it, becomes determined to hunt down his killer and to bring the secrets he was searching for into the light…

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I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The Detective Daughter series delivers an original twist on the classic murder mystery genre. Stella, the detective’s daughter, has a cleaning business and a detective agency with an eclectic mix of employees. The main protagonists are believably eccentric and flawed. This story reads well as a standalone, but the series is addictive and engaging and worth reading in its entirety.

This dual timeline story explores a wartime murder during the London blitz and murder in Tewkesbury in 2019. The connections between the two stories are revealed in a suspenseful way and involve Stella, Jack and the other team members across London and Tewkesbury.

The recent murders are catalysed by The Death Cafe, a group that discusses death that Stella is drawn to. The story has important character development for the main protagonists in addition to the well-plotted murder mystery.

Evocative with vivid sensory imagery, the reader is drawn into a world of deceit and murder that is chilling and disturbing. The historical and contemporary are interwoven convincingly and give the story its classic murder mystery ethos.

This story’s atmospheric settings and vibrant characters elevate the simple murder mystery into something that resonates.

Q&A : Lesley Thomson

What inspired you to write about a blitz murder?

I spent first part of 2020 clearing and sorting stuff in the attic in preparation of moving. I unearthed a photocopy of a message that Jose Wahlberg, a convicted Nazi spy, wrote to my grandfather – who I never knew – the night before Wahlberg was hanged Pentonville Prison in 1940. My mum had showed me the cigarette packet on the back of which Jose Wahlberg had thanked my grandfather for his kindness. Mum would reflect on how hard it must have been for her dad ,  prison officer, to comfort the young man hours before his death. On the  internet I found newspaper articles about Wahlberg’s capture and how the British were treating spies and, as often happens point of inspiration takes me somewhere else.

In The Distant Dead, I mention the incident in passing, I was inspired to explore 1940 London in which my mum and her family had lived. Blackouts, the deafening roar of planes, the massive thuds as bombs fell and the constant smell of burning. The murder rate went up and, with a depleted police force, fewer were solved. You could pass off a murder victim as a bombing casualty. Stuck in Lockdown, I found key similarities between 1940 and our own restricted lives.  Even the slogan – We’re all in it together – was the same.  This was enough for me to find a bridge to the past.

Did you undertake any research with this novel?

I read books on the Home-front including a doorstop-sized biography of Churchill by Andrew Roberts, I devoured published diaries by women living through the Blitz. Newspapers of the time were fascinating as were the propaganda films made by British Government agencies such as Fires Were Started and Britain Can Take it.’ Tewkesbury Abbey was my other inspiration and long before I started The Distant Dead, I had spent many hours there. I was sorry not to be able to visit in 2020.

Out of the entire Detective Daughter’s series, which one was your favourite to write and why?

For me, I think it’s up to the reader to have a favourite novel.  Were you to have asked me this question each year, starting when Ghost Girl came out, I’d tell you the same. This novel. I relish steeping myself in the world of my story, honing my writing ability and creating new characters and ideas. I want each novel to be my best yet. Therefore, The Distant Dead is my current favourite and I loved every minute of working on it right to proof stage.  

If you could have any job in the world (other than an author), what would it be and why?

I’d want something that involves long drives in a nice car, preferably a Jeep, with music playing. I used imagine being a taxi driver, but these days I’d rather be alone in the car to think or sing raucously and out of tune to, for instance Robbie Williams’s Angels or say, True along with Spandau Ballet. So if there were a job, which involves delivering Jeeps to far-flung corners of the country and back, I would apply.

What are you currently working on at the moment?

I’m writing The Companion, a standalone set in Sussex, featuring a disparate bunch of oddballs who live in a stately home converted into luxury apartments. There’s a serial killer at large – dubbed the media, The Family Man  – due to the victim profile. This means that an ever watchful fear and suspicion pervades the mood of the community. Is it him, is it her? Who can you trust? As ever with my novels, I hope The Companion will offer the reader frissons of dread and unease laced with laugh out loud moments.

What can we expect to see from Stella next?

In 2023, I hope. She’s already knocking at my door with another mystery…

Lesley Thomson

Lesley Thomson is the author of the Detective’s Daughter series of West London-set mysteries featuring private investigators Stella, a cleaner, and Jack, a tube driver. The first novel, The Detective’s Daughter, became an ebook phenomenon in 2013, staying at number 1 in the digital charts for 3 months. Since then, the series has gone on to sell 800,000 copies worldwide. Lesley is an active member of the UK crimewriting community, and appeared at several crime festivals in 2019, including CrimeFest, Harrogate, Morecambe & Vice and Capital Crime. She lives in Lewes with her partner and her dog

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