Book Review

The Gathering – Bernadette Giacomazzo

Today I am thrilled to be taking part in the Blog Blitz for Bernadette Giacomazzo’s dystopian novel, The Gathering, the first book in The Uprising Series. Thank you so much to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resource for inviting me, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

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The Uprising Series tells the story of three freedom fighters and their friends in high — and low — places that come together to overthrow a vainglorious Emperor and his militaristic Cabal to restore the city, and the way of life, they once knew and loved. In The Gathering, Jamie Ryan has defected from the Cabal and has joined his former brothers-in-arms — Basile Perrinault and Kanoa Shinomura — to form a collective known as The Uprising. When an explosion leads to him crossing paths with Evanora Cunningham — a product of Jamie’s past — he discovers that The Uprising is bigger, and more important, than he thought.


What starts as one young man’s tale of drugs and debauchery as he travels around America with his rock band gets very dark very quickly. As the story jumps between “old” New York and “new” New York, you realise that the nights of wild parties in the Bowery have been replaced by martial law and severe punishment of anyone of a creative nature. US democracy has been replaced by an empirical dictatorship and harsh treatment of anyone who doesn’t fit the ideal mould.

Told from multiple points of view, you gain an insight of how people from very different walks of life react to the new world order, and uncover hints that the Emperor’s rule is perhaps not as secure as he thinks.

I have read dystopian fiction before, but this book actually felt scarily real, and it did not seem out of the way that this world could be ours before very long. There are clear comparisons between the Emperor and another current head of state who shall remain nameless, and I think this added to feeling of unease that this book gave me. If any book is designed to make you think about how we treat our fellow man, and what we are prepared to turn a blind eye to, then this is it. A very thought-provoking read indeed.

If you are tempted to try it out for yourself, here are the all important purchase links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK



The Gathering Author

With an impressive list of credentials earned over the course of two decades, Bernadette R. Giacomazzo is a multi-hyphenate in the truest sense of the word: an editor, writer, photographer, publicist, and digital marketing specialist who has demonstrated an uncanny ability to thrive in each industry with equal aplomb. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and many, many more. She served as the news editor of Go! NYC Magazine for nearly a decade, the executive editor of LatinTRENDS Magazine for five years, the eye candy editor of XXL Magazine for two years, and the editor-at-large at iOne/Zona de Sabor for two years. As a publicist, she has worked with the likes of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unit record label, rapper Kool G. Rap, and various photographers, artists, and models. As a digital marketing specialist, Bernadette is Google Adwords certified, has an advanced knowledge of SEO, PPC, link-building, and other digital marketing techniques, and has worked for a variety of clients in the legal, medical, and real estate industries.

Based in New York City, Bernadette is the co-author of Swimming with Sharks: A Real World, How-To Guide to Success (and Failure) in the Business of Music (for the 21st Century), and the author of the forthcoming dystopian fiction series, The Uprising. She also contributed a story to the upcoming Beyonce Knowles tribute anthology, The King Bey Bible, which will be available in bookstores nationwide in the summer of 2018.







Win a paperback copy of The Gathering (Open Internationally)

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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Winner will be asked if they prefer a paperback or a digital copy.  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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.


Book Review

Wunderkids (Part One: Wildwood Academy – Jacqueline Silvester

I have another great book for you today. If you like YA, with a little bit of mystery and intrigue thrown in, you can’t go too far wrong with Wunderkids (Part One: Wildwood Academy) by Jacqueline Silvester.



15-year-old Nikka is invited to attend Wildwood Academy, a prestigious but secret boarding school for talented youth located deep in the Californian mountains. Once there, Nikka quickly falls in love with her bizarre classes, the jaw-dropping scenery and… two very different boys.

However, Wildwood Academy has a dark and twisted secret, one that could cost Nikka the one thing she had never imagined she could lose, the one thing that money can’t buy. It is this very thing that Wildwood Academy was created to steal.

Nikka can stay and lose everything, or she can risk death and run.


As a Harry Potter fan, any book featuring a mysterious boarding school hidden away from prying eyes is a must read for me. When you add welcome snacks of elderflower lemonade and mint macaroons to the equation, I am packing my bags and enrolling myself!

Although all the standard YA components are present in Wunderkids, the clueless young girl entering a world she knows next to nothing about, the potential love triangle, the bitchy rival student, Jacqueline Silvester’s writing is such that there is no feeling of triteness in the story. The characters, whether students, teachers or townies, are all so well developed that you are drawn deep into their world with no choice but to tag along for the ride.

Jacqueline weaves a delicate web of secrets and lies, and in a place where even the school nurse has something to hide, it becomes impossible to know who is a friend or an enemy, or even what is real or fake.

Keep an eye out for the Halloween party – discos were never like that where I went to school!!!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and can’t wait for the next part to be released. Without wishing to give anything away, this first instalment ends in the perfect way to keep you hanging with baited breath for the sequel.



Jacqueline has had a colourful and dual life thus far; she’s lived in a refugee camp in Sweden, a castle in France, a village in Germany, and spent her formative years in between Los Angeles, London and New York. As a result, she speaks four languages. Jacqueline has a Bachelors in English Literature from the University Of Massachusetts, and a Masters in Screenwriting from Royal Holloway, University Of London. After graduating she wrote her first novel and began writing cartoon screenplays. The two years she spent in an arts boarding school in the woods have inspired the particular world described in her debut novel Wunderkids. She lives in London with her husband, her excessive YA collection and a hyper husky named Laika.

Wunderkids has been translated into a number of languages and featured in Vogue magazine!

Book Review

The Promise – Michelle Vernal

I am reviewing the charming novel The Promise by Michelle Vernal today. As always, before I share my thoughts, here is the all important blurb.


The Promise Cover

Two women from different generations brought together by another’s wrongdoing.

When British backpacker, Isabel Stark happens across a car accident on a lonely stretch of road in the South Island of New Zealand her life changes forever. The sole passenger, Ginny Havelock asks her to make a promise before she passes away—to find Constance and to say she’s sorry.

Isabel’s a lost soul who’s been drifting through life unsure of where she fits, and the promise she made in New Zealand haunts her upon her return to the United Kingdom. Her only clue as to finding Constance lies within a conversation held at Ginny’s funeral. It takes her to the Isle of Wight.

In the 1940’s sixteen-year-old Constance’s life on her island is sheltered until the death of her brother; Ted brings the reality of war crashing down around her. He leaves behind his pregnant young widow Ginny. When Constance meets a handsome Canadian Airforce man, she’s eager to escape her grief and be swept up by first love. It’s a love which has ramifications she could never envisage.  

When Isabel and Constance’s paths finally cross will Ginny’s last words be enough for Constance to make peace with her past? And in fulfilling her promise will Isabel find a place she can call home?


I was initially drawn to this book by the fact that is located largely on the Isle of Wight. It was lovely to read something set in a place where I spent many happy holidays myself. Michelle Vernal’s writing really brought the island to life and brought back many childhood memories. It has made me really want to go back over to the island, and if you haven’t already been, believe me, you will want to after reading this.

The Promise begins in New Zealand with Isabel approaching the end of a period spent travelling, and follows her as she struggles to adjust and find her place in the world when she returns to the UK. I found Isabel to be a really relatable character – although I have never died my hair green, I found myself empathising with someone who took a while to find their calling.

Part two of the book takes you back in time to World War Two, and shows an island ravaged by the effects of war. I am ashamed to say that it had never occurred to me just how badly affected the Isle of Wight was by the war, but it makes sense when you think about it with its proximity to Portsmouth with its huge Naval presence. Reading about Constance as a young woman was my favourite part of the book, seeing her grow up faster than she should, and setting the scene for the devastating secret that Ginny had kept all her life, and which had taken her away from Constance and the island.

The final part of the book brings Isabel’s and Constance’s stories together, and shows how peace and happiness can be found in the most unusual friendships. I loved how the small Ryde community gathered together to become a family for two lost souls.

The inclusion of the natural remedies taken from Constance’s recipe book that divided the parts of the novel was a really nice touch and tied the book together beautifully.

The Promise is a sweet story, which is both heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure.

If The Promise takes your fancy, you can purchase it from Amazon here:

Amazon UK



Michelle Vernal is a Harper Collins author who loves a happy ending. She lives with her husband, their two boys and a needy three-legged black cat in Christchurch, New Zealand. She’s partial to a glass of wine, loves a cheese scone and has recently taken up yoga—a sight to behold indeed. She is a freelance writer for a Canterbury lifestyle magazine who is currently working on her seventh novel. Michelle’s a firm believer in happy endings, and all of her stories are written with humour and warmth.





Thanks to Michelle and to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, and for providing me with my copy of the book. You can find details of all the other blogs taking part below.

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Book Review

Oh Crumbs – Kathryn Freeman

Today is my stop on the Oh Crumbs blog tour. Before I let you know my thoughts on this book, here is the blurb. Keep reading all the way down for a fab giveaway at the bottom.

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Sometimes life just takes the biscuit …
Abby Spencer knows she can come across as an airhead – she talks too much and is a bit of a klutz – but there’s more to her than that. Though she sacrificed her career to help raise her sisters, a job interview at biscuit company Crumbs could finally be her chance to shine. That’s until she hurries in late wearing a shirt covered in rusk crumbs, courtesy of her baby nephew, and trips over her handbag. 

Managing director Douglas Faulkner isn’t sure what to make of Abby Spencer with her Bambi eyes, tousled hair and ability to say more in the half-hour interview than he manages in a day. All he knows is she’s a breath of fresh air and could bring a new lease of life to the stale corporate world of Crumbs. To his life too, if he’d let her. 

But Doug’s harbouring a secret. He’s not the man she thinks he is. 


This is book is a lovely, light read, just perfect for these long, hot summer evenings we are having at the moment.

After the death of their mother, Abby Spencer is forced to grow up quickly in order to look after her four very different younger sisters. Despite this, Abby never loses her spirit, and although she has to make a number of sacrifices whilst the girls grow up, she remains warm, and cheerful, and open. This is in stark contrast to Doug, who is reserved, closed off, and desperately unhappy. I don’t think it is too spoilery to say that when these conflicting personalities meet, sparks fly instantly. However, as this book goes to show, nothing in life is ever simple.

Abby’s chaotic, noisy, welcoming family, with single mum Mandy, sensible, organised Sally, sweet, caring Holly, and precocious Ellie (and not forgetting Pat the Dog) couldn’t be more different to Doug’s cold, unfeeling parents, with both families proving that money doesn’t equal happiness.

When reading this book, it was impossible not to fall in love with each and every one of the Spencer girls (although speaking as an only child, I suspect I would struggle to live in their manic household). My heart went out to Doug, with his life controlled by secrets and fear of letting anybody get too close.

If you are looking for a book to enjoy on your summer holiday, I would definitely recommend giving this one a try.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK



A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.

Social Media Links –





Win a paperback copy of Too Damn Nice by Kathryn Freeman (Open Internationally)

Giveaway Prize - Too Damn Nice

*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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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I would like to say a massive thank you to Kathryn Freeman, and to Rachel’s Random Resources for enabling me to take part in this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book. Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the tour.

Book Review

Hunter’s Chase – Val Penny

Today I want to tell you all about the first book in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series. Keep your eyes peeled later in the year when I will also be reviewing the second and third books.


Hunter's Chase book cover

Hunter by name – Hunter by nature: DI Hunter Wilson will not rest until Edinburgh is safe.

DI Hunter Wilson knows there is a new supply of cocaine flooding his city and he needs to find the source but his attention is transferred to murder when a corpse is discovered in the grounds of a golf course. Shortly after the post-mortem, Hunter witnesses a second murder but that is not the end of the slaughter. With a young woman’s life also hanging in the balance, the last thing Hunter needs is a new man on his team: the son of his nemesis, the former Chief Constable. Hunter’s perseverance and patience are put to the test time after time in this taught crime thriller.

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Let me start by saying that I have seen this series compared to Ian Rankin’s “Inspector Rebus” series, but in Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson, Val Penny has created an altogether more likeable and relatable character. Yes, he has his struggles (let’s face it, who doesn’t), but this only helps to humanise him as we get to know the man behind the police badge.

This book was the cause of a very late night and an extremely tired book blogger who stayed up well past her bedtime to keep reading through the twists and turns, and interwoven relationships of the equally incestuous worlds of both the police and the people they are investigating. With police and politicians involved with the drug trade and the crooks sticking to some “honest burgling,” it is impossible to know who to trust or believe as the story evolves.

What I particularly enjoyed about this book was that, unlike many other detective series which focus completely on the lead detective, with all other characters forming a supporting cast around him, Val Penny has ensure that all characters are well developed, and equally important to the story. From lovable rogue Jamie, just trying to fill his dad’s shoes, through star-crossed young lovers Annie and Frankie, right through to conflicted Tim, and art loving Jane, and all the characters in between, each and every one of them has their own backstory and I am looking forward to getting to know the police team better as the series progresses.

If you want to read this before the sequel is released in September, you can buy your copy here.


author pic 2  Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballet dancer or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. Her first crime novel, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ set in Edinburgh, Scotland was published by Crooked Cat Books on 02.02.2018. The sequel, ‘Hunter’s Revenge’ will be published on 09.09.2018.

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @valeriepenny



Many thanks to Val, and to Rachel’s Random Resources for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book. Make sure you stop by the other blogs on the tour.

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Book Review

The Daughter of River Valley – Victoria Cornwall

Today I am reviewing a book by Victoria Cornwell which is perfect for Poldark fans everywhere. Many thanks to Victoria and to Rachel’s Random Resources (and NetGalley) for providing me with a copy of the book.



Beth Jago appears to have the idyllic life, she has a trade to earn a living and a cottage of her own in Cornwall’s beautiful River Valley. Yet appearances can be deceptive …

Beth has a secret. Since inheriting her isolated cottage she has been receiving threats, so when she finds a man in her home she acts on her instincts. One frying pan to the head and she has robbed the handsome stranger of his memory and almost killed him.

Brought together by unknown circumstances, and fearful he may die, she reluctantly nurses the intruder back to health. Yet can she trust the man with no name who has entered her life, or is he as dangerous as his nightmares suggest? As they learn to trust one another, the outside threats worsen. Are they linked to the man with no past? Or is the real danger still outside waiting … and watching them both?


After Beth Jago strikes an intruder around the head with a frying pan, both of their lives are irrevocably changed in this enthralling story of self-discovery. I will say nothing further of the man whose memory is snatched from him by Beth’s actions, for to do so would be to the detriment of a new reader’s enjoyment of the book.

Told in the shadow of the Crimean War and an ailing tin mining industry as the mines run dry, the fishing town of Port Carrek comes alive in vivid colour as Victoria Cornwell introduces its inhabitants and customs. Her description of the mystery man’s nightmares is so detailed that you could almost think that you had dreamt them yourself.

I now understand the the River Valley of the book is based on a real valley near Tintagel. I already have a love affair with Cornwall, and now it is going to be impossible to resist going back to see the inspiration for this beautiful book with my own eyes.

This book is available to buy now from Amazon


Victoria Cornwall. Profile Picture JPG  Victoria Cornwall can trace her Cornish roots as far back as the 18th century and it is this background and heritage which is the inspiration for her Cornish based novels.

Victoria’s writing has been shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romantic Fiction and her debut novel reached the final for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Joan Hessayon Award.

Victoria likes to read and write historical fiction with a strong background story, but at its heart is the unmistakable emotion, even pain, of loving someone.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Social Media Links –








Many thanks to Victoria Cornwall and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for including me on the blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book. Don’t forget to head over to the other blogs on the tour.


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Book Review

Forgive Me Not – Samantha Tonge

Hopefully all of you saw the big reveal of the beautiful cover for this book a couple of weeks back. Well, publication day is finally here!!!! Here is a quick reminder of the blurb, as well as some links for where you can purchase your very own copy.

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How far would you go to make amends?

When Emma fled her home at Foxglove Farm, she’d let down and hurt those who cared for her most. But now, two years later, she’s ready to face up to her past; she’s ready to go back.

But Emma’s unannounced return causes more problems than she could have foreseen. The people she knew and loved aren’t ready to forget, let alone forgive. And the one person she wants to reconnect with the most, her mother, can’t remember who she is.

Just as Emma starts to rebuild trust, an uncovered family secret and a shocking past crime threaten her newly forged future…

Sometimes simply saying sorry isn’t enough.

Perfect for readers of Ruth Hogan or Amanda Prowse, this is an extraordinary and unforgettable novel about running away from yourself – and finding a way back.


Where do I start! This book is just fantastic. Dealing as it does with a number of incredibly sensitive subjects, there was always the chance that things could go very dark, very quickly. However, Samantha’s delicate handling of each and every one of these topics made the book thought provoking, but never depressing.

The flashbacks to Emma’s time living on the streets provide a stark reminder that the homeless people around us are human too. Whatever their current situation, they once had homes, jobs, and people that loved them, and they are certainly not all there because of some wrong doing. I had a particular fondness for Stig and his beloved Duchess. Getting to know this character just shows how close any one of us is to ending up on the streets, a warning that is echoed by the struggles of the village owners fighting back against the rise of the huge supermarkets.

As someone with experience of a relative with dementia, I found that Emma’s struggle to reconnect with her mother heart-breaking, but at the same time Samantha’s description of their interactions were incredibly touching.

Above all, this book serves as a resounding reminder to just be kind to the people you meet. Everyone has their own story, their own struggles, which are not detectable by the naked eye.

On a final note, and without wanting to give anything away, brace yourself for the ending!

Purchase Links

This fantastic book is available from these sellers:






Sam Tonge - Canelo Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK and her passion, second to spending time with her husband and children, is writing. 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.

In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. 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.





Many thanks to Samantha Tonge, everyone at Canelo, and Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for enabling me to take part in today’s publication day events, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

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