Sunday, 7 April 2019

#BlogTour: Dyed Souls by Gary Santorella @dyedsouls @matadorbooks @rararesources #DyedSouls

Dyed Souls was published by Matador on 6th February 2018. My thanks to the Author and the Publisher for the review copy and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me on to the blog tour. 

Described by John Lloyd of The Bookbag as "Catcher in the Cuckoo's Nest," Dyed Souls is a gritty coming-of-age literary novel, set in a residential treatment center in 1980’s California.
Charlie Lyle loves science, natural history, and the world of the mind, and it is his refuge and salvation as he copes with his drug-addicted mother and a world of circumstances well-beyond his grasp. More a work of philosophy than psychology, “For the teen it has a galling coming-of-age, redemption quest. For the adult it has that, as well as a literary look at a singular fictional life.”

Purchase Links

My Thoughts: 

Dyed Souls is a book that I am going to remember for a very long time. Memorable and written with heart, it certainly made me think and it really touched me. 

A coming of age story that is well thought out, Charlie Lyle is a victim of circumstances not of his own making. After having the start in life that he didn't deserve, and a Mother that seemed to have many other priorities than Charlie, this is Charlies story and what happens to him.

This book is an exploration of life and coming of age and what it means to not have the best start and the influences that can have upon somebody who is young and impressionable. There was a tangible sadness that pervaded this story. 

This is an incredibly well written story that captivated my heart and my mind. It is very different from what I usually read but the characters are completely captivating and this was such an engaging story. 

If you are looking for something light hearted this isn't it. If however you want a moving piece of literary fiction then this one will most certainly do the job. 

About the Author:
Gary Santorella, Owner, Interactive Consulting is a Lean implementation, organizational development, conflict resolution, and team-building specialist. He has a BA in Behavioural Psychology from Providence College, Providence, RI (1980), a Master’s Degree in Occupational Social Welfare from UC Berkeley (1990), and is a licensed cognitive-behavioural therapist in the State of California. His book: Lean Culture for the Construction Industry: Building Responsible & Committed Project Teams 2nd Edition was published by Productivity Press (a division of Taylor & Francis) in 2017. His first novel, Dyed Souls, was published by Matador Publishing in 2018.

Social Media Links –
Dyed Souls has won two awards:
Silver in the 2018 Global eBook Awards - Young Adult Fiction Category
Chill With a Book Readers Award. 

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

Monday, 25 March 2019

#BlogTour: Sea of Lies by Rachel McLean @rachelmcwrites @rararesources #SeaofLies

I am delighted to be taking part in this Publication Day Push for Sea of Lies by Rachel McLean. My thanks to the Author for the review copy and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me on to the blog tour. 

Purchase Links

Sea of Lies
He abducted her. He fell in love with her. He helped her escape. Can she trust him?

Sarah Evans has returned home after being abducted and held in a dilapidated farmhouse by a group of men.

With her is Martin, who turned against the other men to help her escape. He says he’s not like them, and claims to be in love with her.

Can Sarah trust Martin? Does she share his feelings? Or should she listen to her father, himself deceitful and abusive, and turn her back on the relationship?

Sea of Lies is a chilling psychological thriller about secrets, trust, and a family falling apart.

A standalone sequel to Thicker Than Water

My Thoughts:

I have read Thicker Than Water but have yet to have the opportunity to post my review. This one, Sea of Lies can be read as standalone and is written in this Authors trademark thrilling style. 

Rachel Mclean has a way of getting right into the heart of the matter and exploring the psychological aspects that not only make her writing exciting but also drives the plot along at an excellent pace and creates suspense and tension that keeps the reader of the edge of their seat. 

Sea of Lies is written with vivid imagery as floods have previously caused devastation throughout the country. Sea of Lies is about what happens after and the great many people who have been displaced. 

The relationship between Martin and Sarah was interesting and the exploration of boundaries was fascinating. This novel rests on secrets, lies, trust and families. 

Another excellent read by Rachel McLean. 
About the Author:
My name's Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.

What does that mean?

In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.

Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?

My books aim to fill that gap.

If you'd like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at I'll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I'll let you know when my books are on offer.
Social Media Links –

Saturday, 16 March 2019

#BlogTour: The Forgotten Secret by Kathleen McGurl @KathMcGurl @HQDigitalUK @rararesources #TheForgottenSecret

Published by HQ Digital on 1st March 2019. My thanks to the author and the publisher for the review copy and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me on to the blog tour. 

The Forgotten Secret
A country at war
It’s the summer of 1919 and Ellen O’Brien has her whole life ahead of her. Young, in love and leaving home for her first job, the future seems full of shining possibility. But war is brewing and before long Ellen and everyone around her are swept up by it. As Ireland is torn apart by the turmoil, Ellen finds herself facing the ultimate test of love and loyalty.
And a long-buried secret
A hundred years later and Clare Farrell has inherited a dilapidated old farmhouse in County Meath. Seizing the chance to escape her unhappy marriage she strikes out on her own for the first time, hoping the old building might also provide clues to her family’s shadowy history. As she sets out to put the place – and herself – back to rights, she stumbles across a long-forgotten hiding place, with a clue to a secret that has lain buried for decades.
For fans of Kate Morton and Gill Paul comes an unforgettable novel about two women fighting for independence. 
Purchase Links

My Thoughts:

Well I don't really know where I have been where author Kathleen McGurl is concerned as The Forgotten Secret is the first book that I have read of hers. I am pleased to say though on the basis of this I will definitely be reading the others. 

The Forgotten Secret is a memorable historical fiction novel that has a dual time line, both of these things are not usually my cup of tea but I was completely wrapped up in the lives of Ellen in 1919 and Clare in the modern day. This is the story of two strong women and is a lesson in Irish history something that sadly I don't know much about. 

Clare manages to escape her life when she inherits a farmhouse, she sees this as a way of escape and a new start but it is Ellen's story that I fell in love with and her story of love with her sweetheart. 

In reading this book I feel like I really went on a journey with the characters, who were warm and likeable. This book wasn't overly long but it felt like something of an epic and managed to pack so much in to the pages. 

I love the way that past and present combined here to make a story that was a rich tapestry of lives lived. I admire the research that must have taken place in order to write this story with honesty and integrity. 

Engaging, with characters that just danced off the page. I could even hear their voices in my head. I was really impressed with this one. 

Kathleen McGurl has got herself a new fan! 

About the Author:

Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband and elderly tabby cat. She has two sons who are now grown-up and have left home. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present, and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.
Social Media Links –
Twitter: @KathMcGurl

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

Friday, 15 March 2019

#BlogTour: Clarissa's Warning by Isobel Blackthorn @IBlackthorn @rararesources #ClarissasWarning #bookbloggers

Published on 14th November 2018. My thanks to the author for the review copy and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me on to the Blog Tour. You can get your copy of the book here.

Clarissa’s Warning is a haunted-house gothic mystery set on Fuerteventura, Canary Islands.
A lottery jackpot changes Claire Bennett’s life.
She buys an ancient stone ruin on the island of her dreams. Her mystic aunt Clarissa warns her of danger, but Claire pays no heed.
Soon after moving to the idyllic island, Claire is confronted by a mystery. As the sinister story of her home slowly uncovers, Claire enters a world of inexplicable events and ordeals. Someone or something doesn't want her there.
But is it really a curse, or is there something else behind the events?

My Thoughts

Clarissa's Warning was a wonderful bit of escapism on the past few rainy windy days. Claire wins the lottery and buys a run down home on the island of Fuerteventura. What starts off with much excitement begins to turn a bit sinister in this nuanced plot of peculiarities that start to occur. Things that start moving about and that is just the start of it. 

This is the first book that I have read by Isobel Blackthorn and I must say that I found her writing to be particularly impressive. There is a great sense of location throughout and the fact that this was set on one of the Canary Islands was something that brought a unique factor. 

Claire was an intriguing character and one that I didn't particularly find endearing. However it would seem that she should have paid more notice to her Aunt Clarissa's Warning. I am loathe to give any more away about the plot as I don't do spoilers. 

This book is not fast paced, there isn't action at every turn but there is something of a slow boil to proceedings that crept under my skin and made me want to find out how things ended and I actually really enjoyed this manner of story telling. 

The mystery and intrigue is palpable throughout and I really liked it. 

About the Author:
Isobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of brilliant, original fiction across a range of genres, including dark psychological thrillers, gripping mystery novels, captivating travel fiction, and hilarious dark satire. Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism and carries a lifelong passion for the Canary Islands, Spain. A Londoner originally, Isobel currently lives near Melbourne, Australia, with her little white cat. 

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

Thursday, 14 March 2019

#BlogTour: Strays and Relations by Dizzy Greenfield @DizzyGreenfield @matadorbooks @rararesources #StraysandRelations

Published by Matador Books on 20th March 2018. My thanks to the author and the publisher for the review copy and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me on to the blog tour. 

Strays and Relations follows the story of Dizzy, whose search for her birth parents is sad, humorous, and in parts bizarre. Dizzy learns that she began life as a surviving twin, then was fostered until a permanent home was found.

Dizzy begins her search for her original identity. Why was she given up for adoption in the 1960s? Following a tenuous lead, she travels to Ireland with her best friend Sugar, but the trail takes a misleading turn. It ends in what they mistakenly believe is Dizzy's mother's grave.

Dizzy falls in love with Will, a blacksmith. But something is missing. Dizzy's life changes when her birth father Tommy makes contact using a private detective. He reveals that her birth mother is alive and married to a man called Vernon. Now the bigger, trickier task lies ahead: working out how to fit the disparate bits of her life together. This is a book which will both amuse and touch readers' hearts.

Strays and Relations manages sensitive subject matter with engaging wit and sharply-observed dialogue, and includes vivid descriptions of some rather unusual animals and people. It will appeal to readers who have encountered a recycled animal or family.

My Thoughts:

Strays and Relations is the story of an adoption and the life that follows after. I found it incredibly insightful and moving. It is written with a warmth and wit that can only come from a writer who has experienced the things that are contained between the pages. 

This is the story of when Dizzy met her birth family, fell in love with Will and other adventures. 

Dizzy has a good adoptive family but she had always wanted answers about her strays and relations and she sets about finding her birth family with her best friend Sugar and the help of the authorities. 

This book might be a comfort to those in a similar situation but on a general note it is a great read that is full of warmth and humour. 

I found it to be incredibly moving and I am so pleased that I was invited to read it. Dizzy Greenfield has a fantastic way with words and is a natural and warm storyteller.

About the Author:

I have lived in the West Country all of my life, but never in such a remote place as I do now -  in the middle of the woods with rooks and bats.  It may be remote but it's never quiet in Dizzyland! When I'm not looking after the dogs, chickens and a six-toed cat, I help run a blacksmith's forge with my partner.
My ideas come from humorous incidents in my own life, which I fictionalise. Strays and Relations is my first novel.
Before I began writing I had various jobs, including working in a wildlife park and as a youth worker.

Social Media Links:

Twitter:  @DizzyGreenfield

Please do have a look at the other stops on the Blog Tour.

Monday, 11 March 2019

#MondayMusing with Guest: Val Portelli #Voinks #ValPortelli

A product of contemplation; a thought: "an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas).

I am thrilled today to be joined by author Val Portelli, who has given a superb interview. Let us find out more about Val first. Val and I know each other through the Book Connectors group on Facebook, which is an invaluable resource for authors and bloggers alike. Val's latest book Story of a Country Boy has just been released. 

Val’s pen name ‘Voinks’ started as a joke then gradually spread through the family, so it was an obvious choice when her first book was published. Although unique it was not memorable, which is the reason for more recent books being published under her own name.
Despite receiving her first rejection letter aged nine from some lovely people at a well-known Women’s magazine, she continued writing intermittently until a freak accident left her housebound and going stir crazy. The rainbow saving her sanity was completing and having her first full length novel published. This was followed by a second traditionally published book before experimenting with self-publishing.
In between writing her longest novel to date at over 100,000 words, she publishes weekly stories for her Facebook author page and web site. She writes in various genres, although her short stories normally include her trademark twist of ‘Quirky.’
A planet with forty-eight-hour days would be useful to have time to write all the stories waiting to be told, and to become better acquainted with the bloggers who are so supportive of authors struggling to release their characters onto the world at large.

Reviews are always welcome as they help pay for food for the Unicorns she breeds in her spare time.

Interview with Val Portelli

Where is your favourite place to write and is there any particular time that works better for you?

I’m lucky enough to have a home office, complete with desk, laptops, printers, coffee and kettle where I do most of my writing. After eleven at night until well into the wee, small hours is when I’m at my most creative, although I do some marketing and proof reading during the afternoons.

Where do the ideas for your books come from?

My first book ‘Changes,’ was based on my experiences from a Mediterranean island I visit regularly, ‘Spirit of Technology’ from a remark my publisher made regarding something sent to me ‘must have got lost in the ether.’ Facebook, chance remarks, being side-tracked when researching, even the alphabet have all provided inspiration.

Are there any Characters that you would like to develop further in future, or a particular theme you would like to write about?

Several. Reno has always been special, and it would be interesting to write about him as an older man. The three girls in ‘ABC Destiny’ have most of their lives before them, and as the book shows their very different early lives, it would be fun to see how much they change as they mature. I love writing in different genres so who knows if erotica or children’s stories might be added to the mix.

Are you currently writing anything else?

At the moment I’ve two books on the go. ‘Country Boy,’ I hope to have published by the Spring, and the other longer one, ‘Murder of Changes,’ by the autumn or winter of 2019. I also write new short stories every week for my blog and FB author pages.

Which Writers inspire you?

Indie authors. Although self-publishing has produced some badly written horrors, it has also opened up the market to some wonderful new talent. The majority of my reading during 2018 was from authors who are not well-known names- yet!

Which book would you most likely give as a gift or recommend to other people?

Mine! Seriously, although it was published a few years ago, one that stays in my mind is ‘Gunshot Glitter,’ by Yasmin Selena Butt. I’m proud to be the owner of an early signed copy, which is particularly poignant as Yasmin died recently at a very young age.

Could you share with us something that other people don’t necessarily know about you?

Most people who know me are aware of my love for unicorns, but probably don’t realise I have a family of them living in my garden. They are quite shy, and remain invisible to most people. I also run a restaurant for foxes. Chico is aware I work late and bangs on the dog flap at 3 a.m. if he fancies a late-night snack.

If you could have written any book from the past, which would it be?

This is a very difficult one. Off the top of my head, ‘Or I’ll dress you in mourning,’ ‘The story of O,’ ‘The Machine stops,’ and ‘The Kappillan of Malta,’ spring to mind. This question has made me realise how much these books have influenced my own writing.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Chat to book bloggers! Although I love socialising, when I’m on my own I’m fascinated by learning new things. Photoshop is next on the list.

Thinking about the Highs and Lows. What has being an Author taught you and would you still make the same choices if there was a second time around?

The highs must include the many friends I’ve made through the authorish community, and how unselfish and supportive they are. The lows are the disappointment when you realise how difficult it is for a small fish in a very large sea to make their books visible to prospective readers. (I’ve now got a vision of a fish who wants to become an author. A short story beckons.)
When I started out, I was very na├»ve and assumed the publishers took care of marketing, so perhaps I should have studied that side of things first. Then again, I’d probably have been too overwhelmed to write my first book. Would I do it all again? Definitely!

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

Just a huge thank you, and perhaps some advice to new authors thinking of taking that first step. Do it, but edit, edit, and edit again, never stop learning and improving, but must of all, enjoy the ride.

Find out more about Val and her books:

Existing books:

ABC Destiny
Spirit of Technology
Weird and Peculiar Tales.
Flashpoint (anthology.)

Current books
Story of a Country Boy, available now

Future books
Murder of Changes.


Sunday, 10 March 2019

#BlogTour: Let The Swine Go Forth by Auriel Roe @auriel_roe #LetTheSwineGoForth

Let The Swine Go Forth is published independently and is available now. You can get your copy here. My thanks to the Author for contacting me and inviting me to take part in the blog tour. 

Out of the blue, vain and naive former drama teacher, Tristram Randolph, is offered the job of headmaster at a new school in Diskebapisbad, dysfunctional capital of a despotic post-Soviet state. Little does he know-- although the signs are obvious to all but him-- that the school is the pet project of the ruthless president's spoilt daughter. Randolph hires a motley crew of teachers, each of whom embodies one of the seven deadly sins. Swineforth International, a franchise of a third rate public school in England, is built on a half-finished campus in the desert. The food is appalling and there's no escape as the foreign faculty have had their passports retained. When inspectors Swainson and Dare arrive from Swineforth in England, their grave reservations about the new school and Randolph's ability to manage it are confirmed. Matters come to a head when a revolution breaks out, the school is shut down and Randolph is accused of aiding and abetting the rebellion. His only hope now lies in winning a presidential pardon by giving the performance of a lifetime as a pantomime dame. 

Praise for the author's debut novel, 'A Blindefellows Chronicle'... “A sprightly, inventive novel, rich in amusing characters and situations. I enjoyed every word of it.” Tony Connor, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature

My Thoughts:

I was delighted when author Auriel Roe approached me about reviewing her second novel Let The Swine Go Forth. A Blindefellows Chronicle was published last year and I adored that, you can read my review here. I wondered what could possibly follow that up and I wasn't quite prepared for what did...

Let The Swine Go Forth contains the signature melding of ideas and thoughts that made me love this authors writing. The slight edge and the quirkiness that pulls the reader in, knowing that there is nothing quite like this around and if there is I haven't come across it. 

Let The Swine Go Forth is full of humour but with an underlying seriousness and some political points are touched upon with great aplomb. Set in a school under a totalitarian regime where the teachers each represent one of the seven deadly sins. 

There is much to be admired here in the characterisations in particular as they are led by Tristram Randolph who it has to be said has a naivety that makes him all the more appealing. His adventures prove to bring much hilarity. 

This book has further cemented my admiration for this author who brings her teaching experience to the page with massive dollops of humour and an imagination without boundaries. I fail to see how any reader would not be belly laughing whilst reading this and it would also make a cracking film. 

Totally recommended. 

About the Author:
My debut novel, Blindefellows, was #1 in humour in Amazon US, UK and Canada last November making me - albeit briefly - the funniest person in the English-speaking world. Hoping to attain that accolade again with novel #2, Let The Swine Go Forth. In the early part of my career I was a teacher of art, drama and English. Somehow, this alchemic mix of subjects lead me to a writing career. It wasn't planned, I simply woke up with a story in my head which was subsequently shortlisted in a major UK short story competition. This short story then morphed into a novel, with said short story becoming the last chapter. I am also an artist with a couple of shortlisted Royal Academy pieces. Shortlisting is a bit of a theme here and I feel honoured to have got so far but to win, ah, to win...

You can find the author on her website:
or on Twitter: @auriel_roe

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

Monday, 18 February 2019

#BlogTour: Apple Island Wife by Fiona Stocker @FionaCStocker @Unbound_Digital #AppleIslandWife #RandomThingsTours

Published by Unbound Digital on 4th December 2018. My thanks to the author and the publisher for the review copy and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me on the blog tour. If you like my review and would like to buy a copy of the book you can do so here.

What happens when you leave city life and move to five acres on a hunch, with a husband who s an aspiring alpaca-whisperer, and a feral cockerel for company? Can you eat the cockerel for dinner? Or has it got rigor mortis? 
In search of a good life and a slower pace, Fiona Stocker upped-sticks and moved to Tasmania, a land of promise, wilderness, and family homes of uncertain build quality. It was the lifestyle change that many dream of and most are too sensible to attempt. 

Wife, mother and now reluctant alpaca owner, Fiona jumped in at the deep end. Gradually Tasmania got under her skin as she learned to stack wood, round up the kids with a retired lady sheepdog, and stand on a scorpion without getting stung. 
This charming tale captures the tussles and euphoria of living on the land in a place of untrammelled beauty, raising your family where you want to and seeing your husband in a whole new light. Not just a memoir but an everywoman s story, and a paean to a new, slower age.

My Thoughts:

I have to admit to not reading much non fiction and I hardly ever read memoirs but there was something about this one that appealed, I think that gorgeous cover helped to draw me in. 

Apple Island Wife offers the reader an escape and draws them in and gives them a place within the family almost, like you feel like you are there. Fiona Stocker writes with a wit and warmth that was engaging. I could read about her recollections for hours more. I found myself giggling away on more than one occasion. 

Apple Island Wife is the story of a family that up sticks with the desire to live a rural lifestyle and Tasmania seems to offer all the family wish for and as we find out a little more that they didn't wish for. Particularly animals eating their plants and the various insects seemingly moving in with them. 

This is a gorgeous book, a perfect bit of escapism and Fiona Stocker has a wonderful way of telling a story. This is a real treat for the reader and I personally feel like I have come away knowing Fiona, Oliver and the two kids. 

I would definitely read more in future. 

About the Author:
Fiona Stocker is the author of travel memoir Apple Island Wife - Slow Living in Tasmania, published by Unbound in 2018. 

Raised in England, Fiona Stocker now lives in Tasmania where she writes freelance for magazines, newspapers and online publications, and runs a niche farm, food and tourism business in partnership with her husband. 

She occasionally works as a ghost writer and editor, and was a judge in the Tasmanian Short Story Competition in 2016. Her first book, A Place in the Stockyard, a history of Tasmanian Women in Agriculture featuring its members, was published in 2016. 

Read more and subscribe for a quarterly newsletter at or read Fiona Stocker's blog at

Fiona Stocker lives in the Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania, with her husband, two children and around forty-five pigs. 

Apple Island Wife is her first travel memoir.

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