Thursday, 23 November 2017

Charlie Poon's pomes - Blog tour

Charlie Poons Pomes
23rd November 2017

Unable to find good funny poems to read aloud to his grandchildren - other than the seventy year old A.A. Milne classics - British playwright Robin Hawdon sat down to write some himself. The result is this collection of thirty hilarious and touching poems, beautifully illustrated by Wendy Hoile, which recount the exploits of young Charley Poon - every parent’s nightmare - and his eccentric menagerie of nursery animals. The poems cover everything from youthful games and exploits, to the problems of growing up, to the ups and downs of school and family life, and the joys of country and seaside holidays. Parents and grandparents will be delighted to have something new and entertaining with which to occupy those tricky lights-out bedtime moments.

My review

What a delightful set of poems! I completely loved reading these and loved the cheerful illustrations. Charley Poon is definitely a character to be loved and you meet a whole host of animals along the way. My son really enjoyed hearing these poems and I'm sure would enjoy a paperback version when it's released as he found it a little trickier with the kindle as he's only two. There is plenty to see and talk about with the lovely pictures and gentle rhyming words. We particularly loved Charlie's song, and Sammy the snouse. Such great illustrations with the Donkey poem and the teachers poem really made me laugh. A great fun read with lots of potential uses in the classroom too for these lovely poems. Really enjoyable fun read, thank you.

About the author:
Dividing his time between Bath, Australia and the South of France, actor, playwright and grandfather Robin Hawdon has enjoyed a successful forty year career in the entertainment industry. During the early years he was a regular face on British TV — appearing in many series and co-starring with Michael Crawford in ITV’s 'Chalk and Cheese’ and starring in a number of films. He has trod the boards as Hamlet, Henry V and Henry Higgins in Pygmalion and in leading roles in London’s West End. Later his love of writing dominated his career and he is now recognised as one of the UK’s most prolific comedy playwrights —with productions including The Mating Game which has played in over thirty countries and Don’t Dress For Dinner which ran in the West End for six years before playing on Broadway and around the English speaking world. Many of his plays are published by Samuel French and Josef Weinberger. Robin has also directed a number of stage productions, and in the 1980’s founded the Bath Fringe festival, and subsequently became Director of the Theatre Royal Bath, England’s premier touring theatre. He has written several novels including A Rustle in the Grass, published by Hutchinsons in 1984 and republished recently by Thistle. A second novel, The Journey was published in 2002 by Hawthorns and a third, Survival of the Fittest, by SBPR in 2013. His first foray into children’s literature,

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Review of 'The Fragile Thread of Hope'

 Review of 'The Fragile Thread of Hope'

A gripping emotional inspirational fiction about love, loss, and finding hope in the darkest of times.

In the autumn of 2012, destiny wreaks havoc on two unsuspecting people—Soham and Fiona.
Although his devastating past involving his brother still haunted him, Soham had established a promising career for himself in Bangalore.
After a difficult childhood, Fiona's fortunes had finally taken a turn for the better. She had married her beloved, and her life was as perfect as she had ever imagined it to be.
But when tragedy strikes them yet again, their fundamentally fragile lives threaten to fall apart.
Can Fiona and Soham overcome their grief?
Will the overwhelming pain destroy their lives?
Seasoned with the flavours of exotic Nepalese traditions and set in the picturesque Indian hill station, Gangtok, The Fragile Thread of Hope explores the themes of spirituality, faith, alcoholism, love, and guilt while navigating the complex maze of family relationships.
Inspirational and heart-wrenchingly intimate, it urges you to wonder—does hope stand a chance in this travesty called life?

If you love contemporary literary fiction novels by Khaled Hosseini and Jhumpa Lahiri, contemporary christian fiction novels by Melissa Storm, and tragic romance novels by Jojo Moyes and Nicholas Sparks, then make time for Pankaj Giri’s new heartbreaking inspirational novel The Fragile Thread of Hope.

My review 

This is a beautiful and tender love story that really struck a chord with me. The different stories were woven together expertly to make a great overall read. It was both emotional and heart lifting. I enjoyed every minute of this fantastically written novel. I love contemporary fiction so this book was right up my street.

The writer was able to provoke such emotion from the descriptions and the tenderness of the characters. I loved the hopefulness of Fiona and how the story follows the two families from different times cleverly. A heart breaking read that will stick with you a long time after you have finished.
More about the author:

Pankaj Giri was born and brought up in Gangtok, Sikkim—a picturesque hill station in India. He began his writing career in 2015 by co-authoring a book—Friendship Love and Killer Escapades (FLAKE). Learning from experience and the constructive criticism that he got for his first book, he has now written a new novel—The Fragile Thread of Hope, a mainstream literary fiction dealing with love, loss, and family relationships. He is currently working in the government sector in Sikkim. He likes to kill time by listening to progressive metal music and watching cricket.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The Creatures of Chichester - The one about the Golden Lake

Review of The Creatures of Chichester - The one about the Golden Lake
by Christopher Joyce

The New Year celebrations in Chichester are going with a bang, but the city is about to be hit by floods and a terrible storm that wipes out communication with the outside world.
Most of the creatures of Chichester are trapped indoors, but Doc and the other goldfish search the strange golden lake looking for answers.
Can they help Jacob and his friends banish the blizzard before it’s too late?

Buy the novel here:

My review

I enjoyed this children's book. The book tackles some deeper issues but in a light and enjoyable read. I liked Jacob and the relationship with his friends as they quest to banish the blizzard from the City. It was lovely to read a story that is based locally and would recommend to children in the local area, especially animal lovers. I love a good adventure and the threat of the blizzard and flood wiping out communication makes the novel a page-turner.

An enjoyable read with a deeper side. I loved that Jacob's problems become an advantage to him as he and his friends fight to banish the blizzard before it's too late. Great read.

More about the author:

Christopher Joyce, winner of the Cornish Writing Challenge 2017, is a Twoleg from Chichester in West Sussex, England.

He has been a teacher, marketing director, waiter; once made Venetian blinds, worked in a steel works and has run a garden design business.

He has written six books about The Creatures of Chichester. The latest book - the one about the golden lake is out now. For more information visit: or keep up to date on Facebook.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Geronimo Stilton - Review

 Review of Fangs and Feasts in Transratania
I was delighted to receive a copy of this spooky book 'Fangs and Feasts in Transratania' and thoroughly enjoyed the book too. Apologises for the review being late and not in the 'spooky' halloween week I'd hoped to, due to computer glitches!

After a mysterious phone call from his cousin Trap, Geronimo sets off for Ratoff in spooky Transratania. The garlic-fuelled town holds many mysteries, not least the residents of Ratoff Castle. Maybe it's the way they sleep during the day, maybe it's the blood-red drink they have with every meal, but there's something not quite right about them ...Who are these mice? And will Geronimo manage to survive the night? For children aged 5-7 and also available as part of a 10 book box set.

My review
Delightfully fun read, this book was immensely enjoyed. A spooky story to be enjoyed at halloween and throughout the year. Geronimo is a likeable character and it made me want to read more books in the series. The book was fun and delightful to read. It flowed and the story had purpose. Perfect adventure series for the 5-7 age group. I would recommend to keep all children engaged and amused.

More about the author...

He's a mouse, what more can I say! There are many books in the series. He is a popular mouse for sure.

Born in New Mouse City, Mouse Island, GERONIMO STILTON is Rattus Emeritus of Mousomorphic Literature and of Neo-Ratonic Comparative Philosophy. For the past twenty years, he has been running The Rodent's Gazette, New Mouse City's most widely read daily newspaper. Stilton was awarded the Ratitzer Prize for his scoops on The Curse of the Cheese Pyramid and The Search for Sunken Treasure. He has also received the Andersen 2000 Prize for Personality of the Year. One of his bestsellers won the 2002 eBook Award for world's best ratlings' electronic book. His works have been published all over the globe. In his spare time, Mr. Stilton collects antique cheese rinds and plays golf. But what he most enjoys is telling stories to his nephew Benjamin.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Book review 'Wide Awake Asleep'

Review of 'Wide Awake Asleep' by Louise Wise
Blog tour - 13th November

I was delighted to review this novel by Louise Wise.

 Julie Compton’s life should have come to an end in the car crash but instead she woke, unharmed, back in 1972 and primed to relive her life all over again.

One problem. She’s in the body of a stranger.

Journey back to the 70s and 80s England where Julie’s forced to jump through the eras, occupying and controlling the bodies of people she knew as a child. She must work out which destiny path was the wrong one, wondering all the while if her body, back in 2016, was dying in her car.

With each momentous change, her memories transform and she realises she’s not only changing her future but the futures of those around her.

A paranormal, time-slip adventure set in the real town of Northampton in England.

My review

The time travel aspect to this book was immensely readable. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot of the story, definitely my kind of read! It had elements of romance along with sci-fi/time travel so would suit a range of readers.When Julie's life should be over after a car accident, she's transported back to 1972 in the body of a stranger. 

The book flits between past and present and I found this to be exciting and interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat. All the while she is in the bodies of others, she is wondering about her own body in the car accident. I found this to be a convincing and thought provoking time travel novel, with relatable characters and a tight plot. I couldn't fault it. Well done to Wise for writing such an excellent, engaging novel that I would recommend.

Buy the novel here:

More about the author:

Louise Wise is a British writer and has been weaving stories all her life—even before she could actually write! For many years, she was a 'closet writer', and has a cupboard is full of ageing manuscripts depicting fantastical romantic adventures.

Most of her books have an element of romance, but tend to cross over into other genres, giving them a unique edge.

Her debut novel is the best-selling sci-fi romance EDEN, which was followed by its sequel HUNTED in 2013.

A PROPER CHARLIE is a romantic comedy written purely for the chick lit market, but then she decided to unite her love of all things supernatural with romance and OH NO, I’VE FALLEN IN LOVE and WIDE AWAKE ASLEEP came along.

Her other works include SCRUFFY TRAINERS (a collection of short stories with a twist). She has written numerous short stories for women’s magazines including Women’s Own and Take a Break.

She loves hearing from her readers - the good, the bad and the ugly stuff they want to share!

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

A Pocketful of Crows - book review

A Pocketful of Crows by Joanne M. Harris - book review

Buy the book here:

My review

This book is stunning to look at. A rich textured black with a flying golden image of the crow. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but with this one, I certainly did and I wasn't disappointed. I didn't think the book would be in the genre I usually read, but the rich descriptions and vivid storytelling led me in instantly. I loved the teenage protagonist and really connected with her and the situation she found herself in. You really follow her every step of the way. This is a beautiful fantasy story with a unique creative side. I really enjoyed seeing the animals perspective through the girls eyes. A beautifully woven story that I would recommend and will look forward to novels by the author again.

More about the novel...

I am as brown as brown can be,
And my eyes as black as sloe;

I am as brisk as brisk can be,
And wild as forest doe.

So begins a beautiful tale of love, loss and revenge. Following the seasons, A Pocketful of Crows balances youth and age, wisdom and passion and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless wild girl.

Only love could draw her into the world of named, tamed things. And it seems only revenge will be powerful enough to let her escape.

Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Authors and their animals - Carly Kade

Author and their animals - Carly Kade

A big welcome to Carly for coming on my blog to talk more about her gorgeous horse Sissy. I was excited to learn more about her beautful horse, being a horse lover myself. My horse Bella was the main influence in my upcoming YA novel 'Rafferty Lincoln Loves...' so I was delighted to meet another horse lover and learn about how horses feature in her novels.

Over to Carly...

 Photos by Melanie Elise Photography
Im Gonna Kiss You (Barn name = Sissy) is my adult horse, and the one I always dreamed of owning. She is a registered Paint mare and the inspiration behind my In the Reins horse book series. 
I became Sissy’s owner when she was young and did a lot of her training myself (with the help of a good coach and a lot of horse training books) so the lessons learned through those experiences helped bring Faith’s training to life in my book, In the ReinsShe's taught me that good horse(wo)manship is a journey, not a destination. Sissy keeps me on my toes and perpetually teaches me something new, even after all of these years

Sissy and I share a very close bond much like my leading lady, Devon Brooke, and her horse, Faith, do. Sissy is a lot like Faith because she is forever forgiving of my equestrian mishaps and loves me unconditionally. There is nothing more peaceful to me than the quiet bond between a woman and her horse. If you’ve taken a tour of my website or followed me on my Carly Kade Creative Facebook page, you’ll notice Sissy stands in as Faith in my promotional videos for In the Reins. I do all the marketing for the book so it helps to have my own horse to stand in as I film the footage!
I think my history with horses is a reason why other horse lovers have been drawn to my book. I know what it feels like to enter a show pen and be nervous. I know what it feels like to be stuck with my horse’s training. I know what it feels like to swoon over a cute cowboy. Ha! I hope that sort of authenticity comes through in my writing. I’m a horse owner. I’ve shown competitively most of my life. I write about my lifestyle, not something I’ve researched, but what I do.

About In the Reins
In the Reins, Carly's novel inspired by the equestrian lifestyle has been an Amazon bestseller for more than 10 weeks, is an EQUUS Film Festival Literary Award Winner for Best Western Fiction and has earned two Feathered Quill Book Awards in the Romance and Adult Book featuring Animals categories. The book is available now in Paperback and eBook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

 A city-girl-gone-country, a handsome cowboy and a horse meet by fate on a southern farm. She's looking for a fresh start and unexpectedly falls for the mysterious cowboy. But can a man with a deeply guarded secret open himself up to the wannabe cowgirl in the saddle next to him? Deeply romantic and suspenseful, In The Reins captures the struggle between letting life move forward and shying away from taking the reins. Passionate, captivating, and full of equine epiphanies, this is a love story sure to touch your inner cowgirl.

Buy the book here:
Cowboy Away, the sequel to In the Reins, will release in 2017. Early reader, Laurie Berglie, author of Where the Bluegrass Grows says, "Sequels can be difficult to write, but not for Carly Kade. Cowboy Away is fantastic and without a doubt one of the best sequels I have ever read. This follow-up to In The Reins brings McKennon’s and Devon’s story full circle, yet leaves you hungry for more! I very highly recommend this equestrian romance!"
More about the author:
Carly Kade is an award-winning equestrian author from Arizona. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle!  She writes fiction about horses, horse shows, western pleasure and a handsome cowboy or two.  Her books are for people just like her ... crazy about reading, horses and cute cowboys! 

Thank you so much, Carly for sharing on my blog today. It was lovely to read more about your novels and about your lovely horse, Sissy. If you would like to take part in my author animal feature, please contact me on

Authors and their animals - Chantelle Atkins

Authors and their animals - Chantelle Atkins

Welcome to my blog and today we are going to meet another fabulous author and her gorgeous pets. I had read and loved several of Chantelle's books and delighted that she is going to share more about herself and her lovely dogs. I am a huge dog lover having two myself so really enjoyed learning more about Chantelle's.

Over to Chantelle... 
I have two lurchers, Tink the scruffy one, and Skipper the smooth haired boy. As a family we also have three ducks, eight chickens, two rats, two guinea pigs and a giant rabbit, but it's the dogs who influence and aid my writing the most.

There are several reasons for this. It is on our walks that I think about my writing. Plot holes are fixed. Characters come to life and chat away inside my head. Secrets are revealed. Connections are made. I am in a world of my own, wandering along with my dogs at my side. Out with the dogs, I am free of the home and the constant noise and chatter four children bring. I am free of the cooking and the cleaning and the planning and the rushing about. Out on our walks, it is just me and the dogs and a head full of ideas. I am lucky to live in a beautiful place, with woodland, heathland, fields and rivers all on my doorstep. But Sopley Common is our favourite place. We hardly ever see a soul there, so it feels like it is ours. It is wild and free, an ancient landscape of heather, fern and gorse. Sandy hills and dark woods. Narrow trails and wooden bridges. This place enchants and inspires me every day of my life.

I even set one of my novels there, and in my village of Hurn. This Is Nowhere is about a young drifter who returns to the tiny village he fled from as a teenager, in order to solve the mystery of what really happened to his mother who vanished without a trace in 1996. Two lurcher dogs feature heavily in the novel, their need to run reflected in the missing Kate's inability to stay put for long. My beautiful Tink even features on the front cover! My dogs helped inspire this novel. The plot, the characters, the setting, even the themes. And I'm very thankful to have them in my life.
Learn more about 'This Is Nowhere': 
 Jake Morgan has never been scared of dying. It’s living he can’t quite commit to. Homeless, jobless and aimless, he thinks he is happy. Then one night his estranged sister Gina calls him back to the home he ran away from as a teenager. Their father is suffering from dementia and she thinks it is about time Jake grew up. With nowhere else to go, and loan sharks on his back, Jake returns to the small village he grew up in. He goes back to help his father but ends up being forced to face the question he ran from. What really happened to his mother who vanished in 1996? Jake decides it’s time he had some answers, if only to stop himself constantly wondering what the point of his existence is. Will he be able to get Gina on side to uncover the truth? Will his confused father be able to help him work out what was wrong with his mother? And when he finds it, will Jake really be able to handle the truth? This Is Nowhere is a story about a family blown apart by untold truths. A mystery that must be solved in order for a fragile young man to find some meaning in life.
More about the author:

Bio; Chantelle Atkins was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to both reading and music, and is on a mission to become as self-sufficient as possible. She writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love. Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere, This Is The Day and a collection of short stories related to her novels called Bird People and Other Stories. Her most recent release is The Tree Of Rebels, a YA dystopia

Thank you so much, Chantelle for appearing on my blog today. I am really looking forward to reading 'This is Nowhere'. I thoroughly enjoyed 'The Boy With The Thorn In His Side.'

If you are an author or book blogger and would like to take part in my 'Authors and their animals' feature, please get in contact.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Authors and their animals - Carol Thomas

Welcome to my new feature 'Authors and their animals' where authors have a chance to talk about another love in their life, not reading or writing, but their pets! As a big animal lover and soon to release my new novel about a racehorse, I thought this the perfect opportunity to run this feature on my blog. So today we will be meeting Carol Thomas, a fabulous author of both children's and women's fiction books, and she will be introducing us to her pets.
Over to Carol...

This photograph shows me with my chocolate Labrador, Benson, and black Labrador, Milo, enjoying a walk at Burpham, near Arundel, and the latest addition to our family, Hubble.

For almost sixteen years, Benson was my constant companion and my best (furry) friend. I could rely on him for a cuddle no matter what the ups and downs of life. He was generous with his affection, strong and yet gentle. He was playful, with the mind of a puppy, throughout his life. Milo was an affectionate boy too. He was caring and protective. Milo was Benson’s shadow for twelve years; he loved to be near him and never wanted to miss out on anything he was up to. I miss them both every day.

Both Benson and Milo have been the inspiration for dogs in my novels. Bramble in Crazy Over You is based on Benson, sharing many of his characteristics, and Jack in my (as yet untitled) novel, to be published by Ruby Fiction in 2018, is based on Milo.

Since Benson and Milo passed away in recent years, I now have a cheeky Labrador puppy called Hubble. He is a lovely boy, with an unhealthy habit of eating things he shouldn’t.

When it came to writing a children’s book, it seemed very natural to write about a puppy and his search for a forever friend. The expressions and actions of the puppy in the book are a combination of each of the three Labradors I have been lucky enough to have in my life.

More about the author...

Author Bio:

Carol Thomas lives on the south coast of England with her husband, four children and lively young Labrador. She has been a playgroup supervisor and taught in primary schools for over fifteen years, before dedicating more of her time to writing. Carol is a regular volunteer at her local Cancer Research UK shop. She has a passion for reading, writing and people watching and can often be found loitering in local caf├ęs working on her next book.

Carol writes for both adults and children:

Her contemporary romance novels have relatable heroines whose stories are layered with emotion, sprinkled with laughter and topped with irresistible male leads. 

Carol’s children's books have irresistibly cute, generally furry characters, young children can relate to.

Finding a Friend 
When Little Pup finds himself at the shelter,
he doesn’t know quite what to do.
Big dogs all around, feeling lost and alone,
Little Pup needs a friend… but who?

“A delightfully written and wonderfully illustrated picture book, with a heartwarming ‘tail’ of friendship.” M. Kidman, Class Teacher.

Thanks so much for sharing with us Carol and thank you for appearing on my blog today to talk about your beautiful labradors. I had the pleasure of reading your lovely children's book 'Finding a Friend' with my children and we recommend it to all animal loving children and adults!

Please contact me if you are an author or book blogger and would like to tell us about your animals at home!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Update on Charity Novel 'Rafferty Lincoln Loves...'

Update on Rafferty Lincoln Loves...

I am so excited to be nearly finished with this novel. I have finally pressed submit for last review and am waiting for the proof copies to arrive (second edition). Then I can send a copy to the charity to approve and adjust if necessary.

I am so grateful for all the people that have helped me so far with the novel, the beta readers Hayley, Pip, Meggan and Chantelle's fab teenager Daisy, were amazing. All of their thoughts and opinions helped to adapt and certainly improve the novel. I'm very impressed by how fantastic they were. Meggan was awesome helping transform my scribbles into an amazing newspaper article. Thank you! Kristin @theedifyingword amazingly trawled her way through all of the errors. I am very grateful.

All that's needed now is a final proof read through from the hard copy to check all the formatting is correct before a release date will be announced. Hopefully before Christmas! I still need help with the cover as I'm finding the font a little tricky on the engraved tree. But I am totally thrilled how it's gone and couldn't have done it without everyone's help.

Will keep you updated...

Book review - Hens Dancing by Raffaella Barker

Review of 'Hens Dancing' by Raffaella Barker

 Venetia Summers appears to lead a fairy-tale rural existence with her husband and two sons in her tumbledown Norfolk cottage. But when her husband leaves her for his masseuse, not even the arrival of a splendid baby daughter can make up for the sense of loss she feels for her newly lopsided family. Hens Dancing follows Venetia's diaries over the course of a year. It tells of domestic battles - with an unruly garden, errant cockerels, Orcs and War Hammers and a traumatic bathroom conversion. But there are also consolations: a passion for fun fur, the severe beauty of the Norfolk landscape, the regal serenity of The Beauty (Venetia's baby daughter) and perhaps, amongst it all, the promise of new love.

It has been a while since I last read this book, but I love reading books again, they become like old friends. Something familiar to settle down to and enjoy. This book has become so tattered with my reading time and time again that I thought it deserved a review!

My review

I just love this enchanting book. The jumbled colourful lifestyle in the countryside makes me smile every time. This book also inspired my love of chickens as the protagonist has three fluffy ones and now I also do too! It did annoy me that the baby is called 'The Beauty' throughout, as I really wanted to know her name, but I can let that go! (If the author would like to drop me a line and enlighten me I'd be very grateful!).

I love everything about this book, the alcohol loving mother, country picnics, and the wild family. Perfect book for garden and countryside lovers. A witty book I will turn to time and time again when I need a good escape into someone else's shambolic lifestyle!

More about the author:

Raffaella Barker was born in London in 1964 and moved to Norfolk when she was three. She spent her childhood in Norfolk sulking and refusing to get dressed, going everywhere in her nightie.

Her house was always full of her parent's friends and family and from the age of six she was constantly running away from home with her siblings in a bid for attention. It was always her idea: "We usually took the dog, left the baby, but then invariably we ran back again a few hours later because in the melee at home no one had even noticed we were gone."

The Norfolk landscape which provided her childhood self with a playground of infinite possibility would later feature as the backdrop and inspiration for her novels when she returned to Norfolk as an adult in 1992: "The adventures we had were all played out in the fields and woodland behind our house, and were the foundation of so much of what I love still today, in terms of storytelling, nature and the worlds that lie within the imagination."

Monday, 16 October 2017

Book review of 'The Red Grouse Tales' by Leslie Garland

'The Red Grouse Tales' by Leslie Garland

 Comprising four intriguing novella length contemporary adult fantasy stories which contain mystery, a hint of the supernatural or paranormal, together with a passing nod towards philosophy and religion - though in these modern fairy or folk tales the fantastic doesn't happen in some remote fantasy world, but right here in this one, in very ordinary, almost everyday circumstances!

The Little Dog - a story of good and evil, and retribution.

This tales is told by Bill, a retired forester, and takes the form of most of the stories in our lives, namely, that we have no idea that we are living a story until later when previous events suddenly seem to fall into place and make some kind of sense.

Bill recounts a week in his early working life when, paired with an older, unsavoury and unpopular colleague, they find a little dog sitting beside the forest haul-road way out in a remote part of the forest. What is the little dog doing there? As the week progresses Bill finds himself becoming emotionally attached to it while also becoming increasingly concerned about just who is his objectionable workmate, and when he notices that the little dog is no longer present at its usual spot his concerns heighten, as he cannot help but feel that his workmate has something to do with the dog's disappearance.

Although a troubled Bill has a conversation with his local priest and learns of the nature of sin and evil, he remains blind to that which is right in front of him. However the very next day events suddenly take an unexpected turn and the young naive Bill starts to learn some awful truths.

The Crow - a poignant tale of misunderstanding, dying, blame and bitterness.

This story, which centres on our almost desperate desire to leave something to mark our lives upon this earth, is told as a history recounted by Dave, of the time when he, as a child, was taken by his mother to a hospice where he met a dying and embittered old Irish priest known as Mad Father Patrick, who told him about the school days and subsequent rise of a local councillor, Reginald Monday, and of his (Monday's) involvement in the construction of a dam which flooded a valley. Father Patrick's increasingly mad tale is told with a blend of biblical quotations, philosophical musings and wild fantasy, but how does it end and just why is he so bitter?

The Golden Tup - a dreadful tale of paradise being cruelly taken by latent evil.

Can evil be in a place? The tale opens with Verity, a farmer's wife, recalling how a young couple were arrested a few years previously for killing their new born baby. How could such a nice young couple have done such a dreadful thing? Through a series of flashbacks we learn how they had created their rural idyll, how an enigmatic man had come into their lives and how their idyll and relationship had gradually fallen apart - how, with references to Milton's Paradise Lost, their paradise was lost. Gradually the young wife reveals a dreadful past, but Verity realises that she is holding something back, but what? What is the terrible truth that caused her and her husband to kill their baby?

The White Hart - a happy ghost story, if there can be such a thing!

Told by a likeable male chauvinist, bachelor and keen fell-runner, Pete Montague recalls three strange incidents which he initially thought were unconnected. The first is his encounter with a little albino deer which he found in the forest when he was out for a jog. The second is that of a chance meeting with a beautiful, young but somewhat enigmatic girl in a remote chapel, and of their conversation in which she told him of the tragic story of the daughter of the family which built it. And the third incident .... A ghost story with a happy ending!

My review 

I love short stories. With a busy life and little time to sit down, these stories fill a nice gap in the day. I found this book to be an immensely enjoyable read, with well planned and delivered stories. I particularly found The White Hart and The Little Dog to be great reads, and they were favourites. I loved Bill's relationship develop with the dog. The detailed and enchanting stories had a religious tone, which wouldn't be something I'd particularly choose, but however I found that the focus of this was mainly on impact and life decisions which is very true to life. 

The characters are brought to life by the author and each story is formed nicely in an easy to read manner. The author uses the accent and dialect well, although this became a little confusing and maybe overdone in 'The Crow', it gave an authentic feel to the delightfully portrayed characters. I found them to be an interesting collection of stories. For those that enjoy great novellas, I would recommend. I'd love to read more short stories by this author.

More about the author:

 Leslie Garland was born in 1949, qualified as a Chartered Civil Engineer and worked for several years on projects in the UK, the Far East and Africa. During this period he won the Institution of Civil Engineers “Miller Prize” for a paper on tunnelling. Changing times resulted in a change in direction and after qualifying as an Associate Member of both the British Institute of Professional Photography and the Royal Photographic Society he started his own stock photograph library and wrote for the trade press. An unexpected break in his Internet connection fortuitously presented the time to make a start on a long cherished project of a series of short stories, and the first two of “The Red Grouse Tales” were drafted. Two more have followed and he is now working on a second batch of tales. He lives with his wife in Northumberland. More information is available on

Review of High Spirits by Rob Keeley

I was thrilled to recieve a copy of this children's book 'High Spirits' by Rob Keeley.

“Millions of people will die in the war, Ellie. And it’s our job to make sure it happens. That’s why our work isn’t easy.”

It’s been two years since Ellie last spoke to Edward. She thinks she’s left the spirit world behind. But the spirits won’t take no for an answer... When Ellie’s Mum returns to Inchwood Manor, Ellie finds herself going too... and is transported back to the 1930s, discovering a plot to impersonate the King of England.

With the Second World War coming, and the first evil spirits starting to escape into the mortal world, Ellie is fighting alongside some unexpected allies...

Rob Keeley is back with High Spirits, the fourth instalment in his multi-award-listed Spirits series. The series allows young people to learn more about other times, as well as the time in which they live.

Buy the book here: Out on October 28th 2017
My review:

I haven't read any other of the books in the series but this didn't stop me from getting stuck straight into Ellie's story and enjoying it immensely. She jumps back to 1930 into an all action plot. She tries hard to not meddle with the timeline, could this affect the present? Ellie's adventures are full of well-researched history and intrigue and there is a nice balance between this and her life in the present with her family. 

There is a good pace and appropriate vocabulary for the 10 years plus age group. As well as the time travel element there is also the supernatural, which makes an exciting touch, however I'm not sure if this complicates matters somewhat. Maybe I need to have read the other books. An enjoyable read as a stand-alone book and would be interesting to find out what happens in the next book in the series. I would recommend this exciting book and look forward to reading more from the author.
More about the author:

I'm a writer of novels, short stories and drama, particularly for children and a family audience. I have written three novels and three collections of short stories for the 8-12s. I am the creator of the "Spirits" series of ghost novels and the third of these, "The Sword of the Spirit" was published in July 2016. The first in the series, "Childish Spirits", was longlisted for the Bath Children's Novel Award as well as being nominated for the People's Book Prize and the International Rubery Book Award. The second in the series, "The Spirit of London" was highly commended for the Independent Author Book Award. I also had a collection of short stories for children ("The Dinner Club and Other Stories") longlisted for the Rubery Award.
I have also written for BBC Radio and am currently looking to get into theatre, TV and film. I have a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing with Distinction from Lancaster University and in 2015 completed a course in Filmmaking from the National Film and Television School, with a course in Screenwriting following in 2016. In 2016 I have also been a judge for the IGGY and Litro Young Writers' Prize.

I hold author workshops in schools and other venues and one teacher described these as "inspirational"!

For more information, please visit or follow me on Twitter @RobKeeleyAuthor

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Blog Tour - The Second Son - Review

 The Second Son Blog Tour
Review of 'The Second Son'
9th October 2017

I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour today for 'The Second Son' by Andy Blackman. I am also lucky enough to have an extract from the book, which I will post later today along with more information about the author.

As the second son of the Duke of Hampshire, Grenville St John Hampton isn’t likely to inherit his family’s title or estate, leaving him pondering an empty, aimless future. During the summer break from university, he impulsively decides to go backpacking with one of his oldest friends, Johnathan; their destination is Belize.

One sultry night on the Central American coastline, Grenville and Johnathan meet Tom. A game of darts takes a vicious turn. Realising he has nothing to look forward to back at home, Grenville decides to stay on in Belize with Tom, in pursuit of adventure. Together, the new friends establish an import business, and for the rst time in his life, Grenville has a sense of purpose.

But back in England all is not well. The sudden death of his brother leaves Grenville with an unexpected – and now unwanted – inheritance, with new consequences and responsibilities. He will return to claim the family’s seat with a dark secret in tow.

Andy Blackman is the author of For the Love of Grace (published by Clink Street, 2016).

Buy the novel here:

My review

This book was a thought provoking and interesting read. I enjoyed the aspect of the book that took Grenville away from his home after thinking he won't inherit his family estate. There is an ease about Blackman's writing that I enjoyed. With his oldest friend Johnathan, he sets off travelling and encounters Tom.

There is mystery and intrigue with this novel. Will he return to his family estate to claim what he might be entitled to after the death of his brother, or will he continue to pursue the freedom and adventure he has enjoyed in America? A good read with plenty of twists and turns and mystery to keep your interest until the end. I look forward to reading more from this author.

More about the author Andy Blackman:

After  serving  in  the  British  Army  for  over  twenty-five  years  in  the  Parachute  Regiment, Andy Blackman today lives in Bedworth, Warwickshire and works within in the IT sector. In his spare time he can be found visiting his three daughters and grandchildren. His previous novel, For the Love of Grace, was published in 2016.

Blog tour - The Second Son - Author Spotlight and extract

 Author Spotlight and extract - Andrew Blackman

I am delighted to have Andrew Blackman today on my blog to talk more about himself and his writing in an author spotlight.

Welcome Andrew...

My name is Andrew Shaun Blackman but I prefer Andy, I was born in 1960 in Brighton, England, making me 57 years old.  I came from a loving working-class family, I have one older brother and one younger sister, and although we are do not live close as siblings we keep in touch.

I was once married and got divorced in 1997, so I class myself as single. I have three grown up daughters and 3 grandchildren. I have always been very close to my girls and keep in constant contact, they are without doubt my greatest critics in all things and keep me level headed.

I went to a secondary modern school and did not achieve any qualifications; school in the 1970 was so different than today there was no pressure to gain academic prowess.  So, I left school at sixteen with little education.  I joined the British Army in 1976 and joined the Parachute Regiment, eventually serving for twenty-six years, leaving in 2000, although I only planned to stay for three.  Life in the Army was good; I was like a duck to water.  Although I had a good Army career it did not define me as a man, I am not a looking back person, but a looking forward one, the Army was something I did and now it is over I do not dwell on the past. I do not like the phrase ex-military, I prefer the here and now!

Since I left the Army I eventually joined a large international company, working in the field of IT.  I have continued to do so for the past fifteen years, at present I am the IT desktop support engineer in the Bedworth office.

I currently live alone in my house in Bedworth, Warwickshire.  Bedworth is a little market town between Coventry and Birmingham, in the middle of England.  I love my job and meet various and some interesting people, I think it was because of my job that I had the ability to write my first book, as the characters although not based on any one person, I took traits of different people and merged them into a character, 

This book, of course, is a work of fiction, places are real, but that is where the similarities ends. Everything else came from me, apart from a little help from the internet, which in this day and age is our friend, it came from me is a strange statement to write, for I know I am not special. I was never a gifted child and did not achieve anything of note before I left school at 16, but since I left school my education started, I have heard the phrase “school days are the best days of your life”, well I am sure whoever said that never went to my school, and it was only after I left school my education started.   

Which brings me onto my book. I have always been an avid book reader, I can remember at work one day during lunchtime thinking of the awful book I had just finished the previous evening, when the thought popped into my head why not write one yourself. This idea I thought stupid, me a common man writing a book, surely authors are people that have been to university and have a degree in literature and understand writing techniques, I am just a normal man. Then a vision popped into my head of an old teacher, I had not thought of for well over forty years, and clearly as the sun was shining I remembered what he told us one day in class, he said “the only thing holding you back from achieving great things is yourself”.  As these words filled my mind all doubt left me and I knew I would try and write a book.

I am so excited about having an extract from your new book on my blog, thank you for sharing it with us.

This is where Grenville Father first meets his future wife, Grenville’s mother realising he had fallen deeply in love,

James turned and stared at both ladies. James bowed deeply and said, “Nice to make your acquaintance.” Both held out their gloved hand to him. James had known Daphnia since childhood, so took her hand and quickly kissed her gloved hand, and said, “Daphnia, a pleasure as always.” James took Sofia’s hand and held it for a few moments before kissing it, all the time staring deeply into the most beautiful blue eyes he had ever seen. Sofia stared back into his brown wide eyes, and smiled. James had fallen deeply in love and was lost for words, but managed to mumble out, “The pleasure is all mine, my lady.” Daphnia looked from Sofia to James, and knew a spark had been lit that would be hard to extinguish.  

There was a whirlwind courtship which was a surprise to some – Sofia was always talkative and outgoing, happy and carefree, where James was always quiet and serious, totally un-suited as a couple, as it had been pointed out on more than one occasion. But it was also pointed out that opposites do attract.  The first-time James presented Sofia to his family, even his normally reserved mother the Duchess of Hampshire was impressed, but being a woman knew where Sofia was coming from, and knew as she did that Sofia saw something in her son James that others missed and he was worth investing in, and much to her husband’s surprise took to Sofia and welcomed her into the family. Later the Duke asked his wife what she thought of the match.

“Perfect,” she said.

“Not beneath him, then,” said the smiling Duke.

“Not at all, a nice presentable young lady, I thought,” replied the Duchess.

“Family is new money, not blue,” said the Duke.

“Sometimes, Julian, you can be an awful snob,” said the Duchess, tutting. The Duke tried hard not to laugh at his wife, the most snobbish person he knew.

Thank you so much for joining my blog today. Congratulations on your new book.