Saturday, 24 March 2018

#BlogTour: The Fighter by Michael Farris Smith @michael_f_smith @noexitpress #TheFighter

Published on 29th March 2018 by No Exit Press. My thanks to the author and publisher for the review copy and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the review copy. 

Jack Boucher, a former bare-knuckle fighter, has nothing more to give. In a single twisted night, he is derailed. Hijacked by a sleazy gambler out to settle a score, Jack loses the money that will clear his debt with the queen of Delta vice, Big Momma Sweet. 

As Jack’s foster mother slowly dies, her mind eroded by dementia, so Jack finds his mind is failing too. Years of bare-knuckle fighting have taken their toll and recurrent concussion leaves him relying on painkillers and a notebook of names, separating friend from foe, to keep himself alive. Yet a saviour comes in the form of Annette, a tattooed carnival worker and free spirit, who guides him towards some sort of salvation. But the road to redemption is filled with danger and Jack is forced to step into the fighting pit one last time, with the stakes no less than life or death. 

My Thoughts:

I was extremely intrigued when approached by Anne Cater of Random Things Tours to review The Fighter. It sounded harsh and violent and not necessarily my cup of tea but what I hadn't bargained on was its depth and beauty and the power it had to move me. The writing here is simply sublime. If you haven't heard of Michael Farris Smith, you should have. 

The story centres on Jack Boucher, who finds his back against the wall and nowhere to turn. A former fighter he finds himself in the position of owing money to people he shouldn't. He resorts to a return to his former fighting days in order to pay off his debts. 

This is a story that is all about the characters and the author manages to take us on their journeys in a way that was compelling. There is Jack that grew up in care and Maryann his foster mother. Her health is now failing, she has dementia. Then there is the extremely individual Annette.

The Fighter is a story of hope and desperation and about settling scores and debts. It is everything between brutal and relentless to hopeful and beautiful. The writing is lyrical and remains warm throughout. 

Sublime writing with raw emotion pouring off of every page. This is a truimph, and a metaphor that when your back is against the ropes you always have to hope and not give up but to fight. 

Possibly the best I have read this year. 

About the Author:
MICHAEL FARRIS SMITH is a native Mississippian who has spent time living abroad in France and Switzerland. He is the recipient of the 2014 Mississippi Author Award and has been awarded the Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Arts Fellowship, the Transatlantic Review Award for Fiction, and the Alabama Arts Council Fellowship Award for Literature. His short fiction has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his essays have appeared with The New York Times, Catfish Alley, Deep South Magazine, and more. He lives in Columbus, Mississippi, with his wife and two daughters. 

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.

Friday, 23 March 2018

#BlogTour: The Summer Will Come by Soulla Christodoulou @schristodoulou2 @rararesources #TheSummerWillCome

Published independently on 7th March 2018. My thanks to the author for the review copy and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me on to the blog tour. You can get your copy: Purchase from Amazon UK -

Set in the 1950s, the story begins in Cyprus. EOKA, British rule, and the fight for Enosis (unity) disrupt the world of two Greek Cypriot families, living in different villages on the island. They are desperately trying to cope with the unpredictability of this fractious time. Circumstances over a five-year period push both families to escape to London where, as immigrants, they struggle to settle, face new challenges, trauma and cope with missing their homeland's traditions and culture. Both families' lives cross paths in London and it seems that happier beginnings could be theirs. But at what cost? A story of passion for a country in turmoil, family love, loyalty and treachery and how, sometimes, starting over isn't always as imagined.

My Thoughts:

I am delighted today to be taking part in the blog tour for The Summer Will Come, an enjoyable and entrancing read that takes place in Cyprus in London around the time of the troubles in Cyprus. Something I didn't know very much about before reading this book.

The story is centered around two families who are desperately trying to leave the problems behind and in doing so they move to London. The reader learns about life in Cyprus and what it is then like for an immigrant in London and also what it is like to leave your homeland behind.

I learnt a lot from this beautifully written novel that managed to portray the emotions of the characters so well. The feelings of being uprooted from all that is familiar and being put in the mix of a different way of life. 

This is also something of a love story. A romance but also a love story to Cyprus. The sights and sounds are so wonderfully evocative. The author is writing from experiences or from incredible research. This book just felt so authentic. 

A wonderful story that shines a light on events in history that some readers won't know much about. A story that had me turning the pages and wishing for the best outcomes for the characters concerned. 

Accomplished writing and I very much enjoyed it. 

About the Author:
Born in London to Greek Cypriot parents Soulla Christodoulou spent much of her childhood living carefree days full of family, school and friends. She was the first in her family to go to university and studied BA Hotel & Catering Management at Portsmouth University. Years later, after having a family of her own she studied again at Middlesex University and has a PGCE in Business Studies and an MA in Education.
Soulla is a Fiction author and wrote her first novel Broken Pieces of Tomorrow over a few months while working full time in secondary education. She is a mother of three boys.
She is a compassionate and empathetic supporter of young people. Her passion for teaching continues through private tuition of English Language and Children’s Creative Writing Classes as well as proof reading and other writing services.
Her writing has also connected her with a charity in California which she is very much involved in as a contributor of handwritten letters every month to support and give hope to women diagnosed with breast cancer. One of her letters is featured in a book ‘Dear Friend’, released on Amazon in September 2017.

When asked, she will tell you she has always, somewhere on a subconscious level, wanted to write and her life’s experiences both personal and professional have played a huge part in bringing her to where she was always meant to be; writing books and drinking lots of cinnamon and clove tea!

She also has a poetry collection, Sunshine after Rain, published on Amazon and The Summer Will Come is her second novel. She is currently working on a third novel Trust is a Big Word about an on-line illicit relationship that develops between two people.
Social Media Links –

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

#BlogTour: The Best Boomerville Hotel by Caroline James @CarolineJames12 @RubyFiction @ChocLituk @rararesources #TheBestBoomervilleHotel

Published on 13th March 2018 by Ruby Fiction. My thanks to the author and publisher for the review copy and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me onto the blog tour. You can find your copy on the following links:


Let the shenanigans begin at the Boomerville hotel …

Jo Docherty and Hattie Contaldo have a vision – a holiday retreat in the heart of the Lake District exclusively for guests of ‘a certain age’ wishing to stimulate both mind and body with new creative experiences. One hotel refurbishment later and the Best Boomerville Hotel is open for business!

Perhaps not surprisingly Boomerville attracts more than it’s fair share of eccentric clientele: there’s fun loving Sir Henry Mulberry and his brother Hugo; Lucinda Brown, an impoverished artist with more ego than talent; Andy Mack, a charming Porsche-driving James Bond lookalike, as well as Kate Simmons, a woman who made her fortune from an internet dating agency but still hasn’t found ‘the One’ herself.

With such an array of colourful individuals there’s bound to be laughs aplenty, but could there be tears and heartbreak too and will the residents get more than they bargained for at Boomerville? 

My Thoughts:

The Best Boomerville Hotel is my first foray into the writing of Caroline James and a rather abrupt departure from the genres that I am used to reading. However, I loved this. Warm, witty and excellently written I will certainly reading more by this author. 

Set in the Lake District, Jo and Hattie have decided to throw the doors of their hotel open to a new type of clientele, those of a certain age to unwind and enjoy themselves and open themselves up to new creative experiences. 

The characterisations are excellent and the author manages to draw the reader in with her warm writing and makes the reader feel like one of the gang. There are humorous moments here but also more serious ones, all of which are superbly written and deftly handled. 

I had thought that the characters wouldn't feel relatable as they are a fair bit older than me. This however didn't matter. The Boomerville Hotel has appeal to readers of all ages. 

I was absorbed and wrapped right into the story and the shenanigans and goings on at the hotel. Overall I would say that this book is a fair bit lighter than all of the crime fiction I tend to plump for more often than not. However I enjoyed this so much I will definitely be reading more books of this type because I am still smiling when thinking of the Boomers days later. 

A great, fun read.

About the Author:
Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can. A public speaker, consultant and food writer, Caroline is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association and writes articles and short stories and contributes to many publications.

Her debut novel, Coffee, Tea, The Gypsy & Me is set in North West England, at the time of a famous gypsy horse fair.  The book went straight to number three on Amazon and was E-book of the Week in The Sun.

So, You Think You're A Celebrity...Chef? was runner up the Winchester Writers festival for best TV Drama and takes a light-hearted look at the world of celebrity chefs as they battle it out for fame and fortune. Coffee, Tea, The Caribbean & Me was runner up at The Write Stuff, LBF, 2015 and is an Amazon best-seller and top recommended read by Thomson Holidays. Jungle Rock, a romcom novella set in Australia, revolves around a TV game show.

In her spare time, Caroline can be found trekking up a mountain or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.
Twitter:@CarolineJames12  FaceBook:  Caroline James Author  

Please do have a look at some of the other stops on the blog tour. 

Monday, 12 March 2018

#BlogTour: The Last Hour by Harry Sidebottom @BonnierZaffre #TheLastHour #HarrySidebottom

Published on 8th March 2018 by Bonnier Zaffre. It has been described as a thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seats, perfect for fans of Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Ben Kane and Conn Iggulden. 

A lone figure stands silhouetted atop the Mausoleum of Hadrian.  Behind him, the sun is setting over the centre of the known world. Far below, the river is in full flood. The City of Rome lies spread out before him on the far bank.  Footsteps pound up the stairs. He's been set up. An enemy is closing in; he is cornered.  He jumps.

Bruised and battered, he crawls out of the raging river.  He is alone and unarmed, without money or friends, trapped in a deadly conspiracy at the heart of the Empire. The City Watch has orders to take him alive; other, more sinister, forces want him dead.  As the day dies, he realises he has only 24 hours to expose the conspirators, and save the leader of the world. If the Emperor dies, chaos and violence will ensue.  If the Emperor dies, every single person he loves will die.

He must run, bluff, hide and fight his way across the Seven Hills.

He must reach the Colosseum, and the Emperor. 

He must make it to The Last Hour.

I am delighted to be able to share with you an extract from the book today, I hope it whets your appetite. Do feel free to let me know what you think...

Another scream echoed up the long passageway, then ended abruptly.

Every breath hurt. Sweat was running off Ballista. Would the stairs ever end? It was like some infernal punishment in myth.

A final corner, and there was the door. All the gods let it be unlocked.

The door opened outwards. Ballista closed it behind him, and leant against it as he fought to regain his breath. Forty-three winters on Middle Earth; too long for this exertion.

The roof garden was gently domed, like a low hill. It rose to where a plinth supported a more than life-sized statue of the Emperor Hadrian in a triumphal chariot drawn by four horses. The terrible storms of the last several days had passed, but the air smelt of rain. The stones underfoot were still wet.

There had to be another way down. Ballista pushed himself off the door, set off up the path to the top.

The sun was dipping towards the horizon. It cast long shadows from the cypress trees, dappled where they were festooned with vines or ivy. Less than an hour until darkness.

Ballista circled the base of the statuary. No door, no trapdoor. Nothing. There had to be another way down. A passageway for gardeners, plants, servants. He looked around wildly.

Under the cypresses the garden was thickly planted with fruit trees and flower beds. Paths radiated out. There were hedges, potted plants, heavy garden furniture, small fountains, more statues. The service access would be carefully hidden. The elite did not want to see slaves when they were enjoying the views. There was no time to search.

Ballista thought of the light wells. No, even if he could find one of them, it would be too narrow, offer no handholds. Another thought came to him. He took the path down to the east.

There was a thin wooden rail above a delicate and ornamental screen along the edge of the garden, with yet more statues at intervals. Ballista did not look at the city spread out beyond the river, barely glanced at the swollen waters of the Tiber at the foot of the monument. He gripped the sculpted marble leg of Antinous, the doomed boy, loved by Hadrian. A Roman might have been troubled by the association. As heir to the different world viewf the north, such omens did not bother Ballista. He had a head for heights, and leaned out as far as he dared over the rail.

The cladding of the Mausoleum was white marble. The blocks were so artfully fitted together that there was barely a discernible line where they joined. No hope of a finger hold. Seventy foot or more of smooth, sheer wall down to the base, after that ledge perhaps another forty foot down to the narrow embankment and the river. No way to climb down.

Ballista ran back to the head of the stairs, opened the door. The men were nearing the top.

About the Author:

HARRY SIDEBOTTOM took his Doctorate in Ancient History at Oxford and has taught at various universities including Oxford, where he lectures in Ancient History.

His first book Ancient Warfare: A Very Short Introduction was published in 2004 to critical acclaim and he has published numerous chapters in books, and articles and reviews in scholarly journals.  His foray into fiction began with Fire in the East, the first of his six-novel 'Warrior of Rome' series, which has sold over half a million copies worldwide. His next series, Throne of the Caesars, was equally acclaimed.  The Last Hour, his tenth novel, introduces us once again to Marcus Clodius Ballista, hero of the 'Warrior of Rome' books.


Saturday, 10 March 2018

#BlogTour: When I Grow Up by Patricia Asedegbega @Patricias_Place #WhenIGrowUp #RandomThingsTours

Published on 25th July 2015 by the CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. My thanks to the author for the review copy and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on the blog tour. You can purchase your copy of the book here.

"You need a plan B," said Alicia’s mother when at five years old she told her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Thirty odd years later, Alicia is on plan D: sharing a flat, no tangible savings, and working for hateful Julia, whose sole purpose in life is to make her existence utterly miserable. Good thing she has Oscar and the girls to make the long hours at work bearable. But when a series of events tears the close-knit group apart, putting friendships and motives under suspicion, will Alicia be able to restore balance and set things right? More importantly, will she ever be able to upgrade her life to at least plan C?

My Thoughts:

Thrilled to be able to talk to you today about When I Grow Up. The thing I like about taking part in blog tours is coming across authors that I wouldn't necessarily encountered before. 

When I Grow Up is set in Spain which I really enjoyed. Alicia life seems to lack excitement, she works in an office and aims of upgrading her life. When something happens at work Alicia comes into her own.

When I Grow Up is full of elements of mystery and intrigue. I thoroughly enjoyed this character driven novel and feel that the author was able to give them great depth and really made them come alive for the reader. 

A tale of friendship and mystery, the pacing was accurate and there was an original feel to it that made it stand out from the crowd. Anybody that has ever worked in an office will appreciate the office politics and drama that ensue.

Contemporary and entertaining. 

About the Author:
Author of I stand corrected, When I grow up..., Rewind, Balou uncensored, Bienvenidos a gatos anĂ³nimos, Pasarse cuatro Pueblos and Sesenta segundos dan para mucho, Patricia Asedegbega Nieto was born to a Spanish mother and a Nigerian father in Madrid. As a child, she relocated with her family to Nigeria and later returned to Spain, where she acquired her BSc and master´s degree. She is currently living near Madrid with her family and her very stubborn cat, Merlin Mojito.

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour.

#CoverReveal Amy Cole Has Lost Her Mind by Elizabeth McGivern @MayhemBeyond @rararesources

Published on 25th May 2018. I am delighted to be able to reveal the cover today and tell you about the book, with thanks to Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources. You can preorder your copy on the following links:

Amy Cole is a stay-at-home mum and a woman on the edge.

After a very public breakdown and failed suicide attempt, Amy finds herself trying to make it through her everyday life as a high-functioning zombie.
Elle De Bruyn is a force of nature ready to shake Amy back to life whether she likes it or not.
After a fortuitous meeting, the two embark on a journey together which will change them both and help them find out exactly what they’re capable of when rock bottom is just the beginning.

About the Author:
Picture credited to Jess Lowe 

Elizabeth McGivern is a former journalist turned hostage-in-her-own-home surrounded by three men and a horrible dog named Dougal. 
In an effort to keep her sanity she decided to write a parenting blog after the birth of her first son so she can pinpoint the exact moment she failed as a mother. 
In an unexpected turn of events, the blog helped her to find a voice and connect with parents in similar situations; namely those who were struggling with mental health issues and parenting. It was because of this encouragement – and wanting to avoid her children as much as possible – her debut novel, Amy Cole has lost her mind, was born. 
Elizabeth lives in Northern Ireland although wishes she could relocate to Iceland on a daily basis. To witness her regular failings as a parent you can find her on: 

The author also has a competition running, check out the details below: 

Friday, 9 March 2018

#BlogTour: The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall @RuthDugdall @Legend_Press #NewEdition #TheWomanBeforeMe

This edition published on 1st March 2018. Legend Press is reissuing some of its most popular titles in a decade of publishing. The Woman Before Me is one of those. This new edition has behind the scenes essays by the author. My thanks to Imogen of Legend Press for inviting me on to the blog and for providing a review copy.

They came for me, just like I knew they would. Luke had been dead for just three days.
Rose Wilks' life is shattered when her newborn baby Joel is admitted to intensive care. Emma Hatcher has all that Rose lacks. Beauty. A loving husband. A healthy son. Until tragedy strikes and Rose is the only suspect.
Now, having spent nearly five years behind bars, Rose is just weeks away from freedom. Her probation officer Cate must decide whether Rose is remorseful for Luke's death, or whether she remains a threat to society. As Cate is drawn in, she begins to doubt her own judgement.
Where is the line between love and obsession, can justice be served and, if so... by what means?
New Edition includes exclusive material and author Q&A

My Thoughts:

I was really excited to be contacted by Legend Press to be asked to read this book on its reissue, they are hoping to bring it to a new audience and I guess that I am a prime example of that as rather embarrassingly, I haven't read any of this authors books before. 

The Woman Before Me is the first book in the Cate Austin series. Cate is a probation officer who has been tasked with deciding if Rose is fit for release from prison after a five year sentence. Rose has been inside for the death of her friend Emma's baby. Rose keeps a black book where the reader manages to learn something of Rose's life before the tragedy.

The Woman Before Me is thrilling and disturbing and I loved every page. I was constantly surprised by the twists and turns offered up by the author. Although written 7 years ago this book is just as current in today's market than if it were written yesterday.

Bold and daring in its writing Rose is one of the most unreliable characters I have ever come across. At one moment she was gaining my sympathy and at another my fury. 

Tackling many themes such as loss, justice and punishments, truth and lies. We also get to learn a lot about prison life. 

I found this book to be very sad and that undertone ran throughout, the twists and turns in the plots were plausible and kept me engrossed. I would now read the other books in the series for sure. 

Accomplished book. I won't forget it in a hurry. 

About the Author:
Author of 'The Woman Before Me' (2010) 'The Sacrificial Man' (2011) 'The James Version' (2012) 'Humber Boy B' (2015) and 'Nowhere Girl' (2015)
Ruth studied a BA (Hons) degree in English and Theatre Studies at Warwick University, and then an MA is Social Work at UEA. She worked as a Probation Officer for almost a decade, working in prisons with numerous high-risk criminals. Ruth's debut novel The Woman Before Me (Legend Press, 2010) was informed by her experiences. Ruth's professional background gives her writing authenticity and credibility. Ruth's second novel The Sacrificial Man was published in 2011.

Ruth is the winner of the CWA Debut Dagger and the Luke Bitmead Bursary and has been longlisted for the New Angle Book Prize and People's Book Prize.
Website Twitter: @RuthDugdall
Please have a look at the other stops on the blog tour