Guest Posts

One Last Shot – Stephen Anthony Brotherton

I am joining the blog tour for One Last Shot today, the final book in the Shots trilogy by Stephen Anthony Brotherton, and I have the honour of welcoming Stephen to share with us an original, unpublished short story. Thank you so much Stephen for this! My thanks also go to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

Keep reading after the short story for all the details about One Last Shot.

One Last - Brotherton Paperbacks


I walked along the carriages of the ten past six train from Birmingham New Street to Walsall. The only vacant seat was taken up by his sprawled out legs and red Doc Martens.  I threw my bag into the overhead storage and tapped one of the boots. ‘Excuse me, mate.’ 

          He lifted the brim of a black bowler hat, which had been covering his eyes, and looked me up and down. He was wearing a Crombie coat pulled tight around his body and had tufts of a blonde goatee beard sprouting from his chin.

‘I’d like to sit down,’ I said.

He started pulling lightly at the stud pierced through his top lip.

‘Look, mate, the train’s full and I’m having …’

‘Terribly sorry,’ he said, dropping his feet to the floor and sitting up. ‘I must have dozed off.’ 

I sat down next to him and he held out his hand. ‘Henry,’ he said, ‘but some people call me Duke. Take your pick.’

‘Freddie,’ I said, shaking his hand. 

‘You’re a copper.’

‘How did you…’ 

‘The boots, the clip on tie, the civvy jacket. You might as well have left the tit hat on. Could be worse. One of my mates is a mortuary attendant. We’ve all got to be something.’


Two days later we met up for a beer. He’d suggested a pub in the centre of town, but I’d asked if we could go somewhere quieter, one of the old man pubs by the market. I was a bit early and waited for him in a shop doorway. I smoked a Park Drive to pass the time.

At 7.30 he swaggered through the empty square, his closed umbrella held aloft in salute. I threw my cigarette away and looked around the empty stalls. Two workmen, who had been sweeping up the fish and chip wrappings, the pizza boxes and the crunched up Coca-Cola tins, were leaning on their brooms and staring; a middle aged couple out walking their Jack Russell shook their heads and whispered something to each other. 

‘Freddie,’ he said, patting me on the back. ‘Why didn’t you wait inside?’

‘No reason. Shall we go in?’

‘Lead the way. First round’s on me.’

The pub was empty. Adam and the Ants’ ‘Stand and Deliver’ was playing on the jukebox. We walked over to the bar and sat down on the worn leather stools. A smiling barmaid walked out from the back room. ‘Gentlemen,’ she said. ‘What can I get you?’

I ordered a pint of Murphy’s. 

‘Ah, a fine beverage,’ he said. ‘I’ll have the same.’ He waved two, one pound notes in her direction. ‘Keep the change,’ he said, winking at her.

She pulled the pints, took the money and disappeared into the sanctuary of the snug.

‘She thinks you’re mad,’ I said. 

‘I do hope so,’ he said.  

I took a sip from my pint and we walked over to a small table by the window. I could see the workmen still sweeping the streets. We sat down, the table rocked. I tore a beer mat in half and placed it under one of the legs. Henry was watching me.

‘Tell me about the police,’ he said.


Twenty minutes later, I took two gulps of beer to stop myself from talking. He’d sat in silence all the way through. 

‘Fancy another,’ he said.

‘I wouldn’t mind a JD and coke.’

He came back with the drinks, sat down and shook his head. ‘And these skinheads are there every night?’

‘Every night,’ I said, taking a slug of whiskey. ‘There’s four of them. They sit on top of the underpass and gob on me as I walk through.’

‘Why not go another way?’

‘There is no other way out of the bus station. Anyway, they run to the exit and meet me on the other side. I don’t know what to do.’

‘And then you found me?’


‘I know exactly how to sort these guys.’

‘You can’t get involved. I’m a police officer for god’s sake. I’ll report it.’

‘If you were going to do that you’d have done it already.’

I took another slug of the short. ‘So what do I do then?’

He stood up and picked up the empty glasses. ‘I’ll get us some more drinks and talk you through the modus operandi.’


Jonesy, the skinhead with the Union Jack tattoo across his forehead, sniffed me up and down, and looked at me with big wide eyes, crusts of dried glue stuck to his unshaven chin. ‘I can smell pig,’ he said. ‘Are you a piggy man, copper?’     

‘He’s a pig alright,’ said one of the others. ‘I can smell him from here.’

All four of them started walking round me, snorting and oinking. ‘Pig, pig; pig,’ they chanted. ‘Oink, oink, oink; snort, snort, snort.’ They started shoving me backwards and forwards; snorting, oinking, chanting – ‘Pig, pig; pig…’

 ‘Gentlemen, gentlemen. This no way to behave.’

They all stopped and faced the exit to the underpass. Henry strode into view, wearing a pin-striped suit and patent leather shoes. He was carrying a blue leather attaché case with a crown and sceptre insignia embossed on the lid. An ear piece was fixed into his left ear with a connecting wire running inside his jacket. He put his mouth next to the lapel. ‘Can you confirm everyone is in position, sir?’ 

‘Who the fuck are you?’ said Jonesy.

‘I must caution you, young man, to choose your words very carefully. Everything here is being recorded.’

‘Record that,’ said the skinhead, putting up two fingers.

‘Very droll,’ said Henry. ‘Now, shall we get down to business? I understand you have a grievance with this officer.’ He knelt down and flicked open the attaché case. There were two duelling pistols inside, sitting on a red velvet base. ‘You can take your pick. They’re both loaded with a single shot.’

The skinheads all stepped back.

‘Wait a minute, mate,’ said Jonesy. ‘No one said anything about guns. We’re just having a bit of fun.’

  ‘Constable Shaw,’ said Henry, handing me a pair of black leather gloves. ‘I need you to make the challenge in the traditional way.’ He turned back to Jonesy. ‘Did you choose your gun, sir?’

‘I’m not using any gun, mate.’

‘Well, it’s up to you, but at least this way you have a chance.’

‘Screw you. We’re off.’

They all turned and started to walk away. Henry leaned again into his lapel. ‘Can you put the snipers on stand-by, sir? I think we might have an escape attempt.’

The skinheads stopped walking. 


‘Just a precaution. Now, if you choose your gun, we can get started.’ 

Jonesy walked back to Henry. ‘Look, we’re sorry, okay.’

‘You’re sorry?’

‘It was just a joke.’

‘You want to apologise?’

‘Yeah, there’s no need for any guns.’

‘Well, I suppose the challenge hasn’t been issued yet. What do you think, Constable?’

‘Come on, mate,’ Jonesy said, turning towards me. ‘No one wants a gun fight.’

‘He will require a formal apology of course,’ said Henry.

‘Yeah, of course. Sorry,’ he muttered.

‘No. I’m afraid it will have to be said, using the prescribed form of words.’


‘We need it for the records. As I said, this is being recorded.’

‘Okay. Whatever. Tell me what to say and I’ll say it.’

‘Excellent,’ said Henry, reaching into the attaché case and pulling out a gold coloured card. ‘It’s always better when these things are resolved amicably’ He handed the card to Jonesy. ‘You need to read this to Constable Shaw and then it’s up to him whether he forgives you or not.’

‘Forgives me?’

Henry put his finger on the ear piece. ‘Yes, sir. We’re just negotiating. If you could bear with me for a moment.’ He nodded to the skinhead. ‘Ready when you are.’ 

Jonesy looked up at the walkway and then down at the card. The rest of the skinheads stood at his side with their arms folded. He started to read. ‘I unreservedly apologise to Constable Shaw…’

‘A bit louder please.’


Henry pointed upwards. ‘For the tape. They’re telling me you need to speak up a bit.’

 Jonesy coughed and started reading again. ‘I unreservedly apologise to Constable Shaw for my unacceptable and ungentlemanly behaviour. This behaviour will never be repeated and I humbly request Constable Shaw’s forgiveness.’

‘Well, that sounded pretty sincere to me, Constable.’

‘I’m not sure he meant it,’ I said.

‘Do you want me to beg, mate?’

Henry looked at me. ‘It is an option I suppose. What do you think, Constable?’

If that has tempted you to read more of Stephen’s writing, read on for everything you need to know about One Last Shot.

One Last Shot Cover



One Last Shot concludes the trilogy of Freddie and Jo-Jo, which has moved through time in a series of flashbacks, showing how the couple fell in love as teenagers, why they drifted apart, what happened in their lives away from each other, and what happens when they meet up again over three decades later. At the end of the second book, An Extra Shot, Jo-Jo tells Freddie about her dark secret. Confused, vulnerable and in a state of shock, he says he needs time to think about what to do next. Jo-Jo’s right to be worried. Freddie doesn’t react well…




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One Last Shot AuthorI was born in Walsall, grew up in the West Midlands and now live in Telford with my two cats, Boris and Tai.

After working in the health and social care sector for over thirty years, I have now written the trilogy that has been rooted in my head for most of my life.

The Shots trilogy is based on a first love relationship I had as a teenager. It tells the story of Freddie and Jo-Jo, who are reunited in a coffee shop three decades after the end of their teenage romance. How they originally met, why they parted, what happens in their lives apart, and what happens when they reunite is all told through a series of first person vignettes.

Getting these stories down on paper has been a cathartic process. I hope you enjoy them.




Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part in this tour to find out more about the book.

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Book Review

A Timeless Lovestyle – Kiltie Jackson

As a fan of the Lovestyle series, I was over the moon to be gifted a copy of book four in the series by the author, and today I am going to tell you all about it.


While taking a cooling stroll alongside the river, on a hot, summer’s day, Molly Smythe stumbles and falls in. Unable to swim, the strong current pulls her down into the deep, murky depths. The year is 1860. When Charlie Rowland comes to Molly’s rescue, and pulls her from the water, she finds herself in the twenty-first century.

Charlie knows there’s something different about Molly and gains her trust, whereupon she shares her new secret with him. Molly needs to prove she is telling the truth but no one can find any record of her, or her family’s, existence in the nineteenth century. With Charlie’s help, she sets out to find what happened to her family, while not knowing if she will ever see them again.

Unfortunately, neither of them anticipated falling in love and now Molly must decide between saving her family or staying with the man she loves.

How do you choose between love and duty?



The thing I love most about Kiltie Jackson’s Lovestyle series is that each time you read one, you get the joy of returning to the familiarity of characters you know and love, but at the same time, with the focus shifting to a new pairing in each book, you also get to discover fresh new faces. Each story, and with it, each heroine, is vastly different from the one before.

Kiltie Jackson creates female characters who are strong, and fiercely independent, and whilst a man falls into the “nice to have” category, they in no way require one to save them – no weepy, damsels in distress in the Lovestyle series, thank you very much (apart from when Molly quite literally needs rescuing from the river, but that’s completely different).

In Molly, we meet a truly wonderful character and one who is so far ahead of the time in which she was born – both in spirit, and at times physically. Her discovery of all things 21st century is a pure delight. Whilst we can look back in time and see just how much things have changed since the 19th century, it is unimaginable how it would feel to suddenly have all the changes thrust upon you, and yet Molly takes it all in her stride. In fact, she thrives on embracing all the changes with barely a flicker of nerves.

In time travel tales, the sudden disappearance of a loved one from their own time is often overlooked, but Kiltie Jackson deal with this skilfully and dramatically, and at the same time uses this to inject intrigue into the present day story.

Although this book works well as a standalone, I would highly recommend reading the whole series, a) because it’s great, and b) because then you get the added joy of seeing your favourite characters pop up in the other books.

The entire Lovestyle series is the perfect escape from the difficult times that we find ourselves in, and the first three books are currently on offer on Amazon, so why not snap up your copies now and catch up on them ready for the release of book four on 15th April. Each book is free on the dates shown below and just £0.99 in between times.


You can find out more about Kiltie and the rest of the Lovestyle series here.

Book Review

Beyond The Yew Tree – Rachel Walkley

Today I join the blog tour for Beyond The Yew Tree by Rachel Walkley. Many thanks to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in this tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.


Whispers in the courtroom.

Only one juror hears them.

Can Laura unravel the truth by the end of the trial?

In an old courtroom, a hissing voice distracts shy juror, Laura, and at night recurring nightmares transport her to a Victorian gaol and the company of a wretched woman.

Although burdened by her own secret guilt, and struggling to form meaningful relationships, Laura isn’t one to give up easily when faced with an extraordinary situation.

The child-like whispers lead Laura to an old prison graveyard, where she teams up with enthusiastic museum curator, Sean. He believes a missing manuscript is the key to understanding her haunting dreams. But nobody knows if it actually exists.

Laura is confronted with the fate of two people – the man in the dock accused of defrauding a charity for the blind, and the restless spirit of a woman hanged over a century ago for murder. If Sean is the companion she needs in her life, will he believe her when she realises that the two mysteries are converging around a long-forgotten child who only Laura can hear?

Ordinary women.

Extraordinary experiences.


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Beyond the Yew Tree_eb


I have a fondness for books with dual timelines, and Beyond the Yew Tree has only added to that.

As always with dual timelines, no matter how much I enjoy the modern parts of the story, it is always the slow unravelling of long forgotten stories and secrets that really capture my imagination. Emma’s tale, however tragic, was fascinating, and offered an insight into the history of a communication method that I had previously never considered, but now am interested to find out more about.

Whilst I will confess to finding the details of the trial and Laura’s experiences as a juror a little less intriguing than the rest of the book, it was touching watching Laura grow as she was pushed out of her comfort zone in every way imaginable. The subtle changes that she goes through amalgamate to create a character who seems much more comfortable in her own skin by the end of the book than she does at the beginning.

As the court case and Laura’s nightmares developed, I loved the delicate way that the puzzle pieces slipped into place, aided by chapters from history, to slowly form a full picture. The resolution, although it did not come as a complete surprise to me, was beautifully developed, and really rather touching.

Beyond the Yew Tree is an enjoyable read that has left me wanting to explore Lincoln’s historic sites for myself.


Beyond The Yew Tree Author PhotoAspiring writer who pens Women’s Fiction and magical tales about family secrets.

What else?

An East Anglian turned Northerner – almost.

Information professional, always.

Biologist, in my memories.

Archivist, when required.

Amateur pianist and flautist.

Reluctant gardener.

Scribbler of pictures.

And forever…. a mother and wife.

Oh, not forgetting, cat lover!








Win One copy of The Last Thing She Said or The Woman of Heachley Hall (Open INT)

  • If the winner is in the UK then it will be a print copy, otherwise International winner is e-book.

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


Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in this tour to find out more about Rachel’s latest book.

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Book Review

The Walls We Build – Jules Hayes

After helping reveal the lovely cover for The Walls We Build by Jules Hayes a few weeks ago, I can now tell you all my thoughts on the book, as I join the blog tour. Many thanks to Jules, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the tour and for providing me with a copy of the book.


Three friends … 

Growing up together around Winston Churchill’s estate in Westerham, Kent, Frank, Florence and Hilda are inseparable. But as WW2 casts its menacing shadow, friendships between the three grow complex, and Frank – now employed as Churchill’s bricklayer – makes choices that will haunt him beyond the grave, impacting his grandson’s life too.

Two Secrets …

Shortly after Frank’s death in 2002 Florence writes to Richard, Frank’s grandson, hinting at the darkness hidden within his family. On investigation, disturbing secrets come to light, including a pivotal encounter between Frank and Churchill during the war and the existence of a mysterious relative in a psychiatric hospital.

One Hidden Life … 

How much more does Florence dare reveal about Frank – and herself – and is Richard ready to hear?

Set against the stunning backdrop of Chartwell, Churchill’s country home, comes a tragic story of misguided honour, thwarted love and redemption, reverberating through three generations and nine decades.


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Corrigan_The Walls We Build_Ebook


In all honesty, it was the location of this book that initially caught my eye. I visited Chartwell a couple of years ago, and I fell in love with it. A day’s visit really wasn’t enough, and I am dying to go back. That said, whilst it was the lure of reading more about Churchill and his home that drew me in, I was quickly captivated by the characters and their story.

There are themes in this book that won’t make easy reading for some, and it would be easy to judge the characters for their actions as seen from a modern day perspective. Viewing these actions from the time in history that they took place though, it becomes easier to understand the heartbreaking decisions that were made. The events of the book, however difficult, are handled gently, and in no way feel that they have been included purely for shock value, but more to show how each characters’ own past shapes their future actions.

Despite the fact that Frank is clearly a character who has made some questionable decisions throughout his life, he was still someone who I warmed too, although I suspect this is in part because his journey through the war followed that of my own grandfather. Reading about Frank’s time in the desert gave me a new appreciation of what he would have gone through back then.

Of all the characters, Florence was by far my favourite. She was so full of life and energy, ahead of her time in a lot of ways, and nothing seemed to hold her back, despite of the tragedies that she suffered in her life.

I enjoyed the dual timeline aspect of this book, seeing all the pieces of the puzzle slowly fall into place as long held secrets were revealed. That each character held the key to a different part of the story made it all the more interesting, and meant that in some cases, my initial assessments of characters were flipped on their heads.


DSC_1027_Sepia_crop1Jules Hayes lives in Berkshire with her husband, daughter and a dog. She has a degree in modern history and holds a particular interest in events and characters from the early 20th century. As a former physiotherapist and trainer – old habits die hard – when not writing Jules likes to run. She also loves to watch films, read good novels and is a voracious consumer of non-fiction too, particularly biographies.

Jules is currently working on her second historical novel, another dual timeline story.

Jules also writes contemporary thriller and speculative fiction as JA Corrigan.






Writing as JA Corrigan:






Win a Signed copy of The Walls We Build (Open INT)

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


Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part in this tour for more information on this book.

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Guest Posts

Surviving Me – Jo Johnson

I am joining the blog tour for Surviving Me today, and I am delighted to be welcoming author, Jo Johnson, to my blog to talk about staying mind fit in 2020. Many thanks to Jo for taking the time to talk to us today, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour. Before I hand you over to Jo, here are the all important book details.


Deceit has a certain allure when your life doesn’t match up to the ideal of what it means to be a modern man.

Tom’s lost his job and now he’s been labelled ‘spermless’. He doesn’t exactly feel like a modern man, although his double life helps. Yet when his secret identity threatens to unravel, he starts to lose the plot and comes perilously close to the edge.

All the while Adam has his own duplicity, albeit for very different reasons, reasons which will blow the family’s future out of the water.

If they can’t be honest with themselves, and everyone else, then things are going to get a whole lot more complicated.

This book tackles hard issues such as male depression, dysfunctional families and degenerative diseases in an honest, life-affirming and often humorous way. It focuses particularly on the challenges of being male in today’s world and explores how our silence on these big issues can help push men to the brink.



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Surviving Me Cover

Now, without further ado, I will hand you over to Jo.

If for the whole of this year you eat high fat and sugary foods, smoke and don’t take any exercise, there is a good chance by next year you will be less physically healthy than you are now.

If you have a body, you also have a mind and the same principles apply. We all need to understand the way our minds work and make a conscious decision to prioritise and practise what helps.

In my debut novel “Surviving Me” the main character is a regular bloke who finds out to his detriment what happens when you don’t pay attention to mind health.

Tom Cleary has never felt good enough but a successful job and a pretty wife enabled him to ignore the voices in his head that shout “inadequate”.

When he is bullied out of his career by a younger colleague and his wife doesn’t get pregnant, old thoughts resurface about being weak and unmanly. Over time, he listens more to this inner voice and less and less to the people around him. He loses contact with the things he cares about and life becomes meaningless.

Eventually Tom goes to see a psychologist and learns some good news that could help us all. There are simple techniques to diminish the power of our negative thoughts and the way they influence our behaviour.

Here are two examples.

  1. Manage your thoughts.

Everyone experiences thoughts that are unhelpful or upsetting a lot of the time. Be aware of these thoughts and their impact on your mental health. Last year I published a book called ‘Shrinking the Smirch’. In the book we ask the reader to imagine their thoughts are being played on an imaginary iPod. Become aware of how much of the time you are listening to your mental iPod and how often it is playing unhelpful tunes. These could be to do with your health, relationships or about other issues in your life. Playing those tunes over and over will make you feel sad, upset and fearful and make it harder to feel mentally well. Managing your thoughts needs practice.


Notice when you are listening to unhelpful thoughts and then imagine tugging out your mental iPod as if it were playing music you hate. 

  1. Learn to live in the ‘now’ and spend less time in your head.

Research shows that staying in the present helps mental health. Some people call this mindfulness but it just means concentrating on what is right in front of you instead of being on automatic pilot. Most of us spend a lot of time caught up in our heads, regretting the past, fearing the future or just trying to manage the challenges of the day. Getting hooked up in our head causes stress but it also can mean that many moments of pleasure pass by unnoticed because we aren’t paying attention.


Take a moment to focus on what is happening now. What can you smell or see?

Are you hot or cold? Tense or relaxed?

“Surviving Me” tackles hard issues such as male depression, suicidal thoughts and degenerative disease in an honest, life-affirming and often humorous way.

A Goodreads review says “Surviving Me is a refreshingly different novel which cleverly combines difficult emotional issues with just the right amount of humour. Be prepared to laugh, cry and think about the big stuff.”

Thanks Jo, for such an interesting guest post.


Surviving Me - Jo Johnson PHOTO 2I’m very excited that my debut novel ‘Surviving Me’ is due to be published on the 14 November. The novel is about male minds and what pushes a regular man to the edge. The novel combines all the themes I can write about with authenticity.

I qualified as a clinical psychologist in 1992 and initially worked with people with learning disabilities before moving into the field of neurology in 1996. I worked in the NHS until 2008 when i left to write and explore new projects.

I now work as an independent clinical psychologist in West Sussex.

Jo speaks and writes for several national neurology charities including Headway and the MS Trust. Client and family related publications include, “Talking to your kids about MS”, “My mum makes the best cakes” and “Shrinking the Smirch”.

In the last few years Jo has been offering psychological intervention using the acceptance and commitment therapeutic model (ACT) which is the most up to date version of CBT. She is now using THE ACT model in a range of organisations such as the police to help employees protect their minds in order to avoid symptoms of stress and work related burnout.




Win two signed copies of Surviving Me &  five Surviving Me fridge magnets  (Open INT)

1st Prize – 2 winners each winning a signed copy of Surviving Me

5 Runners Up – each winning a Surviving Me Fridge Magnet

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


For more information about this book, please pay a visit to the other blogs taking part on the tour.

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Book Review

Empire’s Exile – Marian L Thorpe

Today marks a sad day for me, as I reach the end of the Empire’s Legacy trilogy, and join the blog tour for the final instalment, Empire’s Exile. Many thanks to Marian for providing me with copies of all the books in this fantastic series, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of each of the blog tours.


“We cannot shape the circumstances to fit our lives, only our lives to fit the circumstances. What defines us, as men and women, is how we respond to those circumstances.”

Exiled from the Empire as a traitor, Casyn’s words echo in Lena’s mind. Determined to find Casil, the legendary city of beauty and learning, she travels into long-unknown lands. Her experiences in the first winter leave her scarred and afraid, but resolving to heal, and supported by an unexpected love, she continues her search. A chance meeting with envoys from the Empire and Linrathe, desperately seeking help from Casil, forces her to a difficult decision. Struggling to keep faith with her choices, facing the almost-certain destruction of her land and her people, Lena’s journey takes her to a deeper understanding of loyalty, sacrifice, and the dimensions of love.

You can purchase your copy of the book here.



As many of you will already know, I enjoyed the first two books of the Empire’s Legacy trilogy, Empire’s Daughter and Empire’s Hostage, enormously, so it is no small thing for me to announce that Empire’s Exile is my runaway favourite of all three. The familiarity of the characters combined with their being in entirely alien circumstances meant that I could enjoy the comfort of being amongst old friends, whilst being swept away on a brand new adventure.

I loved witnessing the slow development of Lena and Cillian’s friendship and found myself desperate to speed ahead to see if they get the ending that I hoped for. Seeing their interactions with the communities they encountered over the course of their exile, and how they were changed by the new relationships that were forged made for absolutely fascinating reading, as once again Marian succeeds in creating numerous unique societies each with their own rules and customs.

As the story progressed and the characters I have grown to love were forced to take separate pathways, I found myself torn between being entirely engrossed by the book, and the nagging sensation of needing to know just what was going on with the other characters. At times, it was quite torturous not knowing if I would ever see them again.

Empire’s Exile draws the trilogy to a close beautifully, although I do feel that I need to have words with Marian about the heart-stopping conclusion! I may never be the same again!


Empires Hostage AuthorNot content with two careers as a research scientist and an educator, Marian L Thorpe decided to go back to what she’d always wanted to do and be a writer. Author of the alternative world medieval trilogy Empire’s Legacy, Marian also has published short stories and poetry. Her life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history informs her novels, while her avocations of landscape archaeology and birding provide background to her settings.







Win a Paperback copy of Empire’s Legacy, the complete trilogy (Open Internationally)

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


Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in this tour to read more about this great book.

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Meet the Author

Sylvia Petter

I have the honour of welcoming Sylvia Petter to the blog today, as part of the blog tour for her novel, All The Beautiful Liars, arranged by Rachel’s Random Resources. I’ll tell you all about the book in just a sec, but first, let me introduce you to Sylvia.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

No, I wanted to be a vet, but I was too short and lousy in maths. So, I did languages at uni and started travelling at twenty.

Why did you start writing fiction and when? 

I was trained as a translator but wanted my own words. On the way up an international corporate ladder I did an MBA module on planning and managing change and decided to find something I could do for the rest of my life. Writing.

How did you start?

I was in Geneva at the time and I looked around for a writing group. I found a group just coming into its own run by the writer Susan Tiberghien. I say Susan gave me the right to write as I thought I didn´t have the right to write fiction, not having studied English literature. Funny the barriers one puts in one´s own way sometimes. Then I went online and worked for several years in Alex Keegan´s online Bootcamp -it was like doing an MfA.

What made you want to write a novel? 

Issues kept appearing in my short stories and I wanted to find out more about my family. But there were so many dead ends that the only way to do it would be as a novel.

How long did it take?

It took over 25 years. Oh, I did other things: published three collections of stories, one of which erotic tales under a pseudonym, tried my hand at novellas in flash, worked with other writers, tried poetry and flash fiction, wrote another novel, a novella, but I kept coming back to my original draft which itself was morphing.

Do you have an agent?

I secured an agent with the first draft of my novel and she nurtured and supported me in my writing over the years to help both me and the novel develop. I dedicate All the Beautiful Liars to her even though we have now parted ways. So now I no longer have an agent, and I doubt I would find such wonderful support again.

Thanks so much Sylvia for taking the time to talk to us today. Now, here come all the details about All The Beautiful Liars.

All The Beautiful Liars 3


How true are the family histories that tell us who we are and where we come from? Who knows how much all the beautiful liars have embargoed or embellished the truth?

During a long flight from Europe to Sydney to bury her mother, Australian expat Katrina Klain reviews the fading narrative of her family and her long quest to understand her true origins. This has already taken her to Vienna, where she met her Uncle Harald who embezzled the Austrian government out of millions, as well as Carl Sokorny, the godson of one of Hitler’s most notorious generals, and then on to Geneva and Berlin. Not only were her family caught up with the Nazis, they also turn out to have been involved with the Stasi in post-war East Germany.

It’s a lot to come to terms with, but there are more revelations in store. After the funeral, she finds letters that reveal a dramatic twist which means her own identity must take a radical shift. Will these discoveries enable her to complete the puzzle of her family’s past?

Inspired by her own life story, Sylvia Petter’s enthralling fictional memoir set between the new world and the old is a powerful tale about making peace with the past and finding closure for the future.


Amazon UK

Amazon US


All The Beautiful Liars - Author -1Sylvia Petter was born in Vienna but grew up in Australia, which makes her Austr(al)ian.

She started writing fiction in 1993 and has published three story collections, The Past Present, Back Burning and Mercury Blobs. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of New South Wales.

After living for 25 years in Switzerland, where she was a founding member of the Geneva Writers’ Group, she now lives in Vienna once more.


Twitter – Sylvia Petter

Twitter – Eye & Lightning

For more information on the book, make sure you check out the other books taking part on the tour.

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Book Review

52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal & Planner – Mariëlle S. Smith

I’ve got a treat for all the writers out there today, as I join the blog blitz for 52 Weeks of Writing by Mariëlle S. Smith. My thanks go to Mariëlle, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the blitz, and for providing me with a copy of the book.


Are you ready to become the writer you were always meant to be?

52 Weeks of Writing will get you cracking by making you plan, track, reflect on, and check in with your progress and goals an entire year long.

52 Weeks of Writing will help you dig deep by offering questions and writing prompts designed to unravel whatever truths about your writing you’re ready for.

52 Weeks of Writing will keep you inspired by delivering a thought-provoking writing quote every week.

  • Do you struggle with setting goals that reflect your daily reality?
  • Do you want to practise breaking goals down into manageable chunks?
  • Would you like more insight into your writing habit(s) and figure out why you keep getting in your own way?
  • And do you want to create a sustainable writing practice that honours your needs and desires as a writer?

Then the 52 Weeks of Writing: Author Journal and Planner is for you.

52 Weeks of Writing brings together every lesson Mariëlle S. Smith has learned as a writing coach and writer. Wary as she is of comparisonitis and unhealthy competition, this author journal and planner was designed to help writers develop and fine-tune a practice that works for them.

If you’re ready to get out of your own way and become the writer you’re meant to be, pick up your copy of 52 Weeks of Writing today.


Purchase here

52 Weeks - cover-image


I can’t resist a journal. Honestly, I am drawn to them like a moth flapping around a lightbulb! I have reading journals, diet journals, craft journals – you name it I probably have a journal for it. However, I am absolutely rubbish at actually using them. I’ll fill in maybe the first couple of pages, and that will be it. 52 Weeks of Writing though feels different, and I am confident that I will keep it up. This combination of planner and journal is exactly what I need to keep my writing on track and achieve my goals.

With sections for clarity, goals, planning (complete with a weekly timetable), and tracking, as well as weekly writing prompts, this journal feels so structured, it is like having your own personal writing coach sitting next to you. Mariëlle’s coaching style shines through as she guides you through the year, without adding extra pressure, or making you feel like a failure if you don’t complete every single writing prompt. I think this is where I have strayed from the path with other journals in the past, thinking that because I have missed one section, what is the point in carrying on? There is no judgement in this journal as Mariëlle coaxes you through the year, making sure to include celebrations for targets met.

I love the idea of having an accountability partner to work through the journal, and my writing journey, with and I have already had a conversation with a close writing friend about putting this relationship in place.

I feel that in recent months, I have lost my way with my writing and it has slipped into the background, but this journal has got me fired up and excited to get going again. I am inspired to get back to it and make progress on each of my WIPs, which now there are three of!

I would recommend this journal to writers at all stages of their journey.


52 Weeks - Author PhotoMariëlle S. Smith is a coach for writers and other creatives, an editor, (ghost) writer, and custom retreat organiser. In 2019, she moved to Cyprus, and island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count.




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The Summer Island Swap Cover Reveal

I am delighted to be taking part in the cover reveal for Samantha Tonge’s latest book, The Summer Island Swap. Samantha’s covers are always gorgeous, and this one is no exception. Before I share the cover though, here comes all the important info.


Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…

After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.

But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.

So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.



Google Play



Publication Date: 4th June

That sounds like a great holiday read to me – perfect for when you are poolside with a cocktail in your hand! Are you all ready to see the cover? Here it comes…

Book cover


sam rna awards 1Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely.

When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines.

She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo and in 2020 her novel Knowing You won the RNA’s Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award.












Book Review

Tooth & Blade – Julian Barr

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the historical fantasy series, Tooth & Blade, by Julian Barr. Many thanks to Julian, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.


Parts 1-3 of the legendary TOOTH AND BLADE series together for the first time!

Two worlds. One destiny.

Dóta has dwelled sixteen years among the trolls. She knows nothing but the darkness of her family’s cave. Her mother says humans are beasts who would slay them all. Yet the gods of Asgard whisper in the night: Dóta is a child of men, a monster unto monsters.

To discover her human side, Dóta must take up her bone knife and step into the light above. Secrets await her in the human realm—beauty, terror, the love of a princess.

Soon Dóta must choose between her clan and humankind, or both worlds will be devoured in fire and war.

A monster sheds no tears.

Norse mythology meets historical fantasy in TOOTH AND BLADE. Step into a realm of haunted meres, iron and magic.



Amazon UK

Amazon US


Originally published as three separate novellas, the fact that I found myself in possession of all three in the one book made me a very happy book blogger because it meant there was no frantic scramble to find the next book as I reached the end of each novella. Whilst it was the lure of Norse mythology that drew me to this book, it was the author’s exacting attention to detail that kept me reading. Dóta’s discovery of the world outside her cave is almost childlike in nature, filled with little touches of things that Dóta would not have known how to do – simple things such as dressing herself and eating with a spoon, that it would never have occurred to me to include added a wonderful realistic quality to the story, and made her a joy to get to know.

I loved that each character went through their own journey as the story unfolded. Although it was largely Dóta’s story, no character was neglected or left on the sidelines, and each captured my interest in a different way. Even Modor, who as Grethor’s mother I realistically expected to be as much as a monster as he was, deep down I wanted to discover that she loved Dóta, and that she was good. I swung back and forth on this a few times, and I will leave you to discover her story for yourselves.

Throughout the book, there is a brutality to the way the characters’ lives are led, almost as though bloodshed and death are expected, almost run of the mill, but at the same time there is a depth of emotion that took me somewhat by surprise.

Although there are nods to Norse mythology throughout, the world of Tooth & Blade is very much of Julian Barr’s own creation. I am very much looking forward to discovering his other work.


Julian Barr author photoJulian Barr first fell in love with all things ancient and magical in childhood, when he staged his own version of I, Claudius using sock puppets. After his PhD in Classics, he did a brief stint as a schoolteacher, hated being called ‘sir,’ and dived into storytelling. Although he remains open to the possibilities of sock puppet theatre, historical fantasy is his passion. He has published scholarly research on Roman medicine and the gastronomic habits of Centaurs, but prefers to think of himself as an itinerant bard. He is also the author of the Ashes of Olympus trilogy.





Don’t forget to pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in the tour!

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