Posted in Animal Welfare, Blog Tour, Book Review, Memoir, New Books, Non-Fiction

Through a Vet’s Eyes – How We Can All Choose A Better Life For Animals Dr Sean Wensley 5*#Review @SeanWensley @Octopus_Books #memoir #AnimalWelfare #BlogTour #BookReview @RandomTTours #ThroughAVetsEyes #DrSeanWensley

Dr Sean Wensley is an award-winning vet and lifelong naturalist who has contributed to animal welfare and conservation projects all over the world. His debut book is
about how we can choose a better life for animals, from the chickens we eat to the pets we keep.

As our societies become more urbanised, we are further removed from the reality of where and how our food is produced. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the humanisation of our pets is a risk to their welfare; with 60% of UK dogs being overweight or obese, we are effectively killing them with kindness. Through a Vet’s Eyes seeks to redress this imbalance so that we see all animals as thinking, feeling beings not dissimilar to ourselves.

There is high public and political interest in animal welfare, with current attention focused on high-profile topics such as animal sentience, humane and sustainable global agriculture and breeding pets, such as flat-faced dogs, for looks over health. To fully consider and improve the lives of animals, evidence-based information is needed to help us all understand these issues, what they mean from the animals’
perspectives and what we can all do to help.

A polemic with elements of memoir and nature writing, the book takes us through the years in which Sean trained to become a vet and shares his first-hand experience of how animals are treated and used for our benefit. It interrogates the different levels of welfare afforded to them and reveals how we, as consumers and informed citizens, can reduce our animal welfare footprint through the choices we make every
single day.

Amazon UK Waterstones

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

Compassionate and compelling, the author shares his life experiences as a Veterinary Surgeon and shows how everyone can make a difference to the animals we share our lives with. The book is an intriguing mix of factual accounts of what happens in our interactions with animals, personal experiences of nature and scientific study. The observations of animals in their natural habitat are intimate and lyrically written and are a welcome contrast to some of the more disturbing facts about the lives of farm animals and other animals we as humans use to enrich our lives.

The positive take from this book is that everyone can help achieve better animal welfare, a life-affirming goal in itself, but for those less altruistic, there are positive gains for humanity in terms of better health and contributing towards saving the planet.

My interest in animal welfare drew me to this book, and I learned so much by reading it. Most people will be disturbed and saddened by some of the stories, but it’s worth the discomfort to see how we can help. Whilst this book is an excellent memoir, it is also a practical guide on how individuals can help foster animal welfare, something that everyone should read.

Dr Sean Wensley

Dr Sean Wensley is an award-winning UK veterinarian and recent President of the British Veterinary Association (BVA). He chairs the Animal Welfare Working Group of
the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), which represents veterinary organisations from 40 European countries.

Sean has contributed to animal welfare and conservation projects around the world and in 2017 received the inaugural World Veterinary Association (WVA) Global Animal WelfareAward for Europe. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of
Veterinary Surgeons and is Senior Veterinary Surgeon for Communication and Education at the national UK veterinary charity, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA). His media appearances include BBC Radio 4 Today, BBC
Breakfast, BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine and The Big Questions.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Revenge Fiction, Friendship, Suspense

Guilty Women Melanie Blake 5*#Review @MelanieBlakeUK @HarperFiction @fictionpubteam @RandomTTours#BlogTour #BookReview #SoapOpera #Thriller #Guilt #Relationships #Friendship #Revenge #suspense #GuiltyWomen

Can they get away with MURDER? On a beautiful island off the English coast, four TV actresses gather. Their fifth member is missing – and only they know why she was killed. As the secret between them threatens to come out, tensions on set run high. The women are determined that the show must go on – whatever the cost. But one of them is on the edge of telling the truth – and no soap opera in the world could survive this scandal… All of the women have something to hide – but the question is, are they ALL GUILTY?

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

My Thoughts…

Continuing from book one, Ruthless Women, Guilty Women has the eighties ‘blockbuster’ vibes with a contemporary twist. The female characters are ruthless, but you can see why they must be when you meet the men. The strong friendship bond between the main protagonists makes this so readable. The plot is full of action, shocks and surprises and keeps you turning the pages. The characters are vibrant and flawed, but they make you care about them, and you are intrigued to know what next? Are they guilty?

Melanie Blake

MELANIE BLAKE is the bestselling author of Ruthless Women, which became a Number 4 Sunday Times hardback bestseller and an ebook bestseller in 2021, selling over 150,000 copies. Guilty Women is her second novel about the cast of Falcon Bay, and her first with HarperFiction. Growing up in a working-class household with severe dyslexia, Melanie has her own Rags to Riches story, just like that of her characters – at 15 she was told by her school career advisors that her decision to work at a record shop was ‘a clear example that she wouldn’t go far in her career’. They were wrong. By 19 she was working at the BBC’s iconic Top of the Pops show and by 26 she had built a reputation as one of the UK’s leading music and entertainment managers. She also created her own acting agency from scratch which became the most successful independent boutique agency in the UK. Melanie still represents a high-profile stable of actresses, but is also now enjoying success in her own right as a author, playwright and producer. #GuiltyWomen | @MelanieBlakeUK

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Memoir, New Books

Soulcat: A feline memoir Amy Vaughan-Spencer 4*#Review #Soulcat #FelineMemoir #SoulcatMemoir @RandomTTours #BlogTour #BookReview #Cats

Amy wrote a love letter… a note to the love of her life.

Only Molly never read it. Even if she’d been alive when it was written, failing eyesight would’ve prevented her from making out the words.

Besides which, she was a cat. And cats can’t read.

No ordinary feline, Molly lived a life full of challenge and adventure, determined not to let gradual blindness hold her back.

This is that letter and – against all the odds – Molly’s long-lost memoirs….

Soulcat is a delightful furrytail of a unique friendship, filled with amusing anecdotes and touching moments. The first half is Molly’s story told from the author’s perspective, including a glimpse into the life of a touring theatrical stage manager. Each chapter is punctuated with a photo of Molly and an apt cat quote.

Part 2 is life through Molly’s fading eyes, told in her own words (translated into English). Beautifully illustrated by Ellypop Illustration.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author.

My Thoughts…

An emotional memoir of the author’s life with Molly the cat, readers who share their lives with animal friends and particularly cats, will find much to enjoy in this. The book is in two halves, the first a memoir and the second an imagined memoir from Molly the cat’s viewpoint. Photographs and cat quotes accompany the memoir and lovely illustrations, Molly’s feline memoir.

I enjoyed both parts of the book, but I like the originality of Molly’s version. It’s easy and emotional reading and a lovely present for anyone who has loved and lost an animal companion.

Amy Vaughan-Spencer

Amy Vaughan-Spencer Author Bio

I have been writing for most of my life, in various forms, although Soulcat is the first completed project that has made it to publication (with the exception of 2 poems printed in anthologies half a lifetime ago). Although I always loved the idea of writing a book, I only became brave enough to share my work in recent years, discovering it might just be good enough to let loose on the general public. My love for Molly, and my determination to keep her memory alive, motivated me to get her memoir written and shared, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the world from her perspective, blurring the lines between fact and fiction.

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

Otter’s Coat Cordellya Smith 4*#Review #CordellyaSmithAuthor @RandomTTours #OttersCoat #BlogTour #BookReview #ChildrensBooks #kidlit #picturebook

When Rabbit hears the animals talking about what a beautiful coat Otter has, he becomes jealous. 

After he tricks Otter out of the coat, Turtle races to make sure it is returned to the true owner. 

This story is a Cherolachian (Cherokee + Appalachian) retelling of the Tortoise and the Hare.

This twist on the classic Aesop’s fable is beautifully illustrated and one that both children and adults will enjoy – over and over again. 

Young readers also love discovering where chipmunk is hiding in the illustrations as they turn from one page to the next.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I like the colourful illustrations and the excitement of the race between the rabbit and the turtle. The short chapters are engaging. The game of finding the hidden chipmunks make this a fun read with a positive message for children about behaviour. It was interesting to read a different interpretation of a familiar story.

Cordellya Smith

Originally from the mountains of Kentucky, Cordellya Smith is a storyteller who loves to share stories that provide children with versions of beloved tales that reflect her Cherokee and Appalachian roots.  A first-generation college graduate, Cordellya works to promote literacy and a lifetime love of reading.  

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Fiction, New Books

The Kitchen Front Jennifer Ryan 4* #Review @JenniferiRyan @panmacmillan #TheKitchenFront #WW2 #WomeninWar #TheHomeFront #BBC @RandomTTours #BlogTour #BookReview #HistFic #Friendship #HistoricalFiction #MondayBlogs

Amazon UK

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

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My Thoughts…

Set in England during WW2, The Kitchen Front is the story of four women’s attempts to win a cookery competition run by BBC radio. It is based on an actual historical radio programme and evokes rationing and the consequent fallout in an authentic way. The women are all affected by the war in different ways, and all want to win, but a gradual sisterhood develops that is heartwarming and poignant.

There are recipes and historical details that vividly portray how it was on the Home Front, and the characters are believably flawed and genuine. The author’s excellent use of sensory imagery immerses the reader into the place and time and makes this an absorbing reading experience.

Jennifer Ryan

Jennifer Ryan is the author of the Chilbury Ladies Choir. She lives in Ireland with her husband and two children. Originally from Kent and then London, she was previously a non-fiction book editor.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, New Books

The Lost Chapter Caroline Bishop 5*#Review @calbish @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours #BlogTour #BookReview #TheLostChapter #LiteraryFiction #Friendship #historicalfiction #1950s #Women #ComingofAge

1957, France. 

Florence and Lilli meet at finishing school in Lyon. Despite some differences, they forge a firm friendship that promises to last a lifetime. But a terrible betrayal prematurely tears them apart.

Years later in England, Florence has become the woman her friend knew she could be – creative, bold, and independent. The exact opposite of Alice, a young woman troubled by a recent trauma, whom Florence is determined to help bring out of her shell.  Just as Lilli once did for her. 

When Florence discovers that the novel she’s reading is written by Lilli and is based on their time at school, the two stories begin to unfold together. Past events illuminate the future, and it becomes clear that long-held secrets can't stay buried forever.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster UK in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This story of friendship and living your best life is an absorbing read. Florence and Lilli shared a brief, but life-changing friendship, in 1950s France. Lilli's publication of a book prompts Florence to try and reconnect. She is a vibrant woman and is determined to help her young friend Alice fulfil her life potential.
The story tells Florence and Lilli's stories in the 1950s and Florence's present-day quest to find Lilli. It captures societal expectations for women in the 1950s through Florence and Lilli's experiences. I like the characterisation and the emotion the story evokes.
Caroline Bishop
Caroline Bishop began her journalism career at a small arts magazine in London, after a brief spell in educational publishing. She soon moved to work for a leading London theatre website, for which she reviewed shows and interviewed major acting and directing stars. Caroline turned freelance in 2012 and a year later moved to Switzerland, where her writing veered towards travel and she has contributed to publications including the Guardian, the Independent, the Telegraph and BBC Travel, writing mainly about Switzerland, and co-wrote the 2019 edition of the DK Eyewitness Guide to Switzerland. For two years Caroline was editor of TheLocal.ch, an English-language Swiss news site and it was during this time that she became fascinated with aspects of Swiss history and culture, particularly the evolution of women's rights.
Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Detective, Murder Mystery, New Books, Noir, Nordic Noir

Bitter Flowers Gunnar Staalesen 4* #Review @OrendaBooks #BitterFlowers @RandomTTours #GunnarStaalesen #Translator Don Bartlett #BlogTour #BookReview #VargVeum #ChillingWinterReads

Fresh from rehab, PI Varg Veum faces his most complex
investigation yet, when a man is found drowned, a young woman disappears, and the case of a missing child is revived. The classic Nordic Noir series continues…

PI Varg Veum has returned to duty following a stint in rehab, but
his new composure and resolution are soon threatened when three
complex crimes land on his desk.

A man is found dead in an elite swimming pool. A young woman
has gone missing. Most chillingly, Veum is asked to investigate
the ‘Camilla Case’: an eight-year-old cold case involving the
disappearance of a little girl, who was never found.

As the threads of these three apparently unrelated cases
come together, against the backdrop of a series of shocking
environmental crimes, Veum faces the most challenging, traumatic
investigation of his career.

A stunning, sophisticated, tension-packed thriller – the darkest of hardboiled Nordic Noir – from one of
Norway’s most acclaimed crime writers.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The reader is drawn into Varg Veum’s world from the first page in the emotionally poignant Nordic noir. It’s the second book I’ve read in this series. Believably flawed, Varg Veum is a likeable protagonist. His struggle with his addictions contrasts with his desire to achieve justice and truth for victims.

It’s an atmospheric and claustrophobic story where even the simplest things hide a web of complexity.
The multiple plot strands draw together by the astute investigator. It’s a murder mystery within a disturbing environmental and political arena.

It’s easy to get absorbed into this distinctive, dark world.

Granite Noir fest 2017. Gunnar Staalesen.

One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty titles, which have been published in twenty-four countries and sold over four million copies.

Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim. Staalesen has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for Nordic Crime Fiction and Big Sister was shortlisted in 2019.

He lives with his wife in Bergen.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Horror Fiction, New Books

Demon Matt Wesolowski 4*#Review @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours #BlogTour #BookReview #Demon #Possession #ChillingWinterTales

In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world.  Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the  ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity. 

Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark and fanciful stories of demonic possession and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act. 

And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, King himself becomes a target, with dreadful secrets from his own past dredged up and threats escalating to a terrifying level. It becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun… 

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is the first book I have read in the ‘Six Stories’ series. The story has a contemporary and distinctive podcast format that tells the story from six perspectives. The story explores a horrific crime involving children that is disturbing to read. Atmospheric and intense, it immerses the reader in events from all perspectives. It’s a seamless blend of crime, social dysfunction and prejudices with supernatural elements woven into the viewpoints. It’s a story that draws you in, one you read, even though many aspects are horrific to contemplate. It’s an addictive mix of criminal and mystical events that defy explanation.

Matt Wesolowski

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and  US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the  End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a  horror story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime  Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was a bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick,  and TV rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller, Changeling (2019), Beast (2020) And Deity (2021) soon followed suit. 

Posted in Blog Tour, Crime, Murder Mystery, Psychological Suspense, Psychological Thriller

Remember My Name Sam Blake 5*#Review @samblakebooks @CorvusBooks @RandomTTours #BlogTour #RememberMyName #BookReview #BookBlogger

If she’d turned off her phone, instead of listening in, perhaps no one would have died…
When Cressida Howard catches her entrepreneur husband playing away from home, she hires security expert Brioni O’Brien to get the evidence she needs for a speedy and financially rewarding divorce.
But what Brioni uncovers goes beyond simple infidelity. Because Laurence Howard is also in bed with some very dangerous people. Bribery and blackmail are the least of his worries as someone comes after the women in his life – someone who is out to destroy Laurence and his empire, whatever the cost.
And Cressida and her teenage daughter could soon be collateral damage, if she and Brioni don’t act fast.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Corvus Books in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Immersive from the first chapter this fast-paced mix of murder mystery and psychological suspense is addictive reading. Cressidia hears something she shouldn’t and it leads to series of events that threaten everything she loves.

Set the story has believable, vibrant characters and a twisty plot. Deceit,depravity and dubious business dealings are at the core of this suspenseful story. The multilayered story draws its sub-plots together in a readable way and the impactful ending ensures the story delivers everything it promises.

The perfect read if you like your thrillers packed with adrenaline-fuelled action, edge of your seat suspense and vengeance.

Sam Blake
Posted in Book Review, Book Spotlight, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Literary Fiction, Romance

When the Music Stops Joe Heap 5*#Review @Joe_Heap_ @harperfiction @HarperCollinsUK #literaryfiction #music #love #life #loss #uplit #serendipity #BookReview #WhentheMusicStops @RandomTTours @fictionpubteam #Paperback #28October2021

Out in paperback today.

This is the story of Ella.
And Robert.
And of all the things they should have said, but never did.

‘What have you been up to?’
I shrug, ‘Just existing, I guess.’
‘Looks like more than just existing.’
Robert gestures at the baby, the lifeboat, the ocean.
‘All right, not existing. Surviving.’
He laughs, not unkindly. ‘Sounds grim.’
‘It wasn’t so bad, really. But I wish you’d been there.’

Ella has known Robert all her life.

Through seven key moments and seven key people, their journey intertwines.
 
From the streets of Glasgow during WW2 to the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of London in the 60s and beyond, this is a story of love and near misses.

Of those who come into our lives and leave it too soon.

And of those who stay with you forever…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is a beautifully written story of life, love, loss and serendipity. Music and the number seven define the parameters of this story which explores Ella’s life and her lifelong love of Robert. The writing is lyrical, as Ella revisits her past at seven pivotal times and introduces seven characters who left their emotional mark on her life.

The flashbacks are vivid and written with historical details and insight. They immerse the reader into the story and make it believable. Throughout, Ella is authentic and flawed. Her mistakes are a reflection of her humanity, and they make you consider your life and choices. The love story is gentle and tragic, but this is real love, and its ending is worthy of angst.

I read this in a day and enjoyed it for its originality, realism and supernatural twist.

Joe Heap

Joe Heap was born in 1986 and grew up in Bradford, the son of two teachers.

His debut novel The Rules of Seeing won Best Debut at the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards in 2019 and was shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Reader Awards.

Joe lives in London with his girlfriend, their two sons and a cat who wishes they would get out of the house more often.

A note from Joe:
At a summer season in Ramsgate, 1959, two ice skaters held a party. My grandfather, a Glaswegian saxophonist who would rather have gone to the pub, was convinced by a comedian on the same bill to come along. My grandmother, another one of the ice skaters, sat down next to him and spilt her drink in his lap. Though she has since denied it, her first words of note to him were ‘Oh no, not another Scot.’

Nobody could have guessed how much would spin off that moment, myself and this book included.