Archive for July, 2018

It’s an honour to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Katy Lilley’s New Beginnings for Bryony Bennett today and share a wonderful guest post with you.  The book is published by Manatee Books and is a rom-com that sounds to be a quirky, yet brilliant read!




When Bryony Bennett’s godmother dies and leaves her a huge inheritance, Bryony jumps at the chance to get away from it all and start again.

She packs up her life and moves into the (almost) idyllic Cliff Cottage…only to find that starting over is never quite as simple as you imagine. Faced with grumpy neighbours, hostile locals and more than her fair share of disasters, Bryony embarks on a mission to make sure her new life is everything she wants it to be…but will she ever win over the locals and truly be happy in her new life?




You can buy a copy of New Beginnings for Bryony Bennett via:

Amazon UK


Guest Post:

Why I write

That’s one of those questions that’s both easy and difficult to answer. I write because I love creating stories, sorting out the angst and misunderstandings between people. Describing places and people, and delving into their world.

As an only child, I was never lonely. I had a vivid imagination, and used it to the full. I made notes of places and people, wrote ‘stories’ about them and loved it. Marvelled at how if you put words together you made sentences…paragraphs…scenarios…

Until I went to senior school where I was always marked down for not being factual enough. Me who loves research. What they meant was my essays were too much like a story.

Ah well.

When I had children I told them stories. About untidy rabbits and indecisive birds, children who could understand rabbit speak and have adventures. Great fun. I did write them down, and a friend illustrated them for me. I wish I still had them.

However it gave me the taste for story making again.

I didn’t indulge it much, I was as guilty as anyone who said life got in the way. When I got my first computer (one you had to swap discs in and out a million times) I treid a love story. It was rubbish, and quite rightly turned down.

Fast forward twenty five or so years (yes I am that old) and I was off work, ill. I’d only just started to play around with social media and so on, but say a competition to send on a first chapter of a romance.

I had a go, and met up with a lot of other like minded ‘newbies’. None of us got any further. In my case quite rightly so. It was wooden. I hadn’t learned to write as I can, not as I thought I should.

However, we then decided to help each other. We were chatting via messenger one day, and I said. I’m going to write a Regency.

I wrote it, they all helped to edit, write a blurb and a synopsis and decide where to send it. I sent it off and three days later got an acceptance. That was as my hotter side. (Raven McAllan)

If only it was all as easy as that.

It isn’t of course. I’ve had my fair share of rejections, some helpful and encouraging…some not.

Therefore, when I decided to change direction and write a romantic comedy. I was somewhat apprehensive. After all, it was something new. Something I’d not attempted before, and what if no one liked it?

But nothing ventured and all that.

I had an idea. Began to write. Set it in Devon, with an imaginary village near where we go on holiday.  Loved writing it. Finished it with a sigh of satisfaction and sent it to my beta. She loved it.

I then, with a lot of worry sent it to Manatee Books.

Who grin and dance on the ceiling loved it.

And asked what else I had.

(A whole lot of love going on here, sorry)

The upshot being, I’m going to be gloriously busy this next year. My ideas notebook, where if I don’t jot things down I’ll forget something which of course would have made the passage, chapter, book etc, is full.

I haven’t completely shed my hotter side. Sometimes I need to just see where that goes.  However, Katy is my love. She lets me write about places I love, history I’m so interested in, in a totally different way.

Does it work?

Only you the reader can tell me that, but I do hope so. I’m not gong away. Wink

The next book is about Lottie, who you meet in New Beginnings for Bryony Bennett, and then there’s a Regency and a contemporary romance.

Great stuff. And on that note I’m back of to Devon in my imagination and WIP to see just what Lottie is up to now.


Love, Katy



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Meet the Twitches, four tiny toy rabbits who live inside a Teacup House.

They belong to a girl called Stevie and she loves playing with them. But guess what? These toy rabbits have a secret. They come alive when Stevie isn’t looking!

Open up the Teacup House – and meet four little rabbit heroes with big ideas!

My Thoughts & Review:

This was a book that I first saw on Twitter, the buzz pre publication from the author had me intrigued and once I looked up more information on the book I knew it would be the perfect book for my little bookworm for adding to her bookshelves.

Meet The Twitches is a delightfully charming tale about a young girl named Stevie who we first encounter in her flat in the city, she is unhappy that her life is being packed up in preparation for a move to the country.  The arrival of her favourite grandmother, Nanny Blue, brings much happiness as well as a very interesting box for Stevie.
The box contains the most wonderful surprise, a teacup house, complete with little garden, wee front door and lots of rooms for the inhabitants of the teacup house.  Only there are no dolls in this house, instead there is the Twitch family.  A family of four little bunnies, Gabriel, Bo, Fig and Silver who come to life whenever Stevie isn’t looking.  The Twitch family are inventive, exciting and utterly wonderful characters.  Beautifully bright and crisp artwork bring the tale alive, providing some fantastic images from the story, especially when it comes to the enterprising inventions of the eldest of the Twitch children.  The mishaps and mischief that is occurs makes for a delightful read and coupled with the lovely illustrations this is the perfect book to share with your children.

The book is aimed towards readers aged five and over, it would probably be a good stepping stone into books with chapters and little more to read after moving on from picture books.  We read a chapter or two at bedtime and were breezing through the book in no time, the temptation to read on once the little one had fallen asleep to see what would happen was almost too much once or twice.

We enjoyed this book so much that I preordered the next book in the series as soon as I heard that it was available.

A magical and exciting tale that takes readers (young and old) on a journey and reminds them to enjoy the little things around them, like a teacup house or fried egg sweets.

You can buy a copy of Meet The Twitches via:

Amazon UK

About the Author:

Hayley grew up in and around Berkshire and after a short stint in magazine publishing, her boss encouraged her to apply for the MA in Creative Writing at UEA where she gained a Distinction. In 2006 she won an Escalator Award from Writers Centre East and a Grant for the Arts to write her first novel, Jar Baby (Dexter Haven, 2012).

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Today’s Celebrating Indie Publishing features an author from Scotland who has just recently published his second novel, Hellcorp with Urbane Publications.  I am delighted to welcome Johnathan Whitelaw to join me today to share a little about himself, the ups and downs of being an author, and making time to write.



Sometimes even the Devil deserves a break!

Life is hard for The Devil and he desperately wants to take a holiday. Growing weary from playing the cosmic bad guy, he resolves to set up a company that will do his job for him so the sins of the world will tick over while he takes a vacation. God tells him he can have his vacation just as soon as he solves an ancient crime.

But nothing is ever easy and before long he is up to his pitchfork in solving murders, desperate to crack the case so he can finally take the holiday he so badly needs…

This is a perfectly-pitched darkly comic crime novel that is ideal for fans of Christopher Fowler and Ben Aaranovitch.

You can buy a copy of Hellcorp via:

Amazon UK

Author Feature:


Author Image & bio courtesy of Urbane Publications

Jonathan Whitelaw is an author, journalist and broadcaster. After working on the frontline of Scottish politics, he moved into journalism. Subjects he has covered have varied from breaking news, the arts, culture and sport to fashion, music and even radioactive waste – with everything in between. He’s also a regular reviewer and talking head on shows for the BBC and STV. HellCorp is his second novel following his debut, Morbid Relations.




What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

This is a really difficult one – and to start off with too! You’re cruel!

Being an author is a real privilege – and I truly mean that. Just being able to call myself that is a huge reward for all the hours, days, months and years spent crafting characters, settings and terrible things to do to them. So being part of a collective that dates all the way back centuries, eons even, truly is a joy and I’m immensely humbled and proud to call myself an author.

Another part of the job that I love is the creativity. Not everybody can say at the end of a working day that they’ve catalogued a conversation between God and The Devil about holiday plans. HellCorp, in this case, gave me that opportunity and allowed me to say it to people without sounding completely bonkers!

You never really know what a new day or writing session will bring. I love that and I know it’s something I don’t acknowledge enough. So thank you for making me appreciate just how creative, vibrant and sometimes whacky my job can be. I love it!

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

Another tough question! That’s a one, two punch. I think I might feel like I’ve gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson after this!

In all honesty, I don’t think I have a least favourite part of being an author. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do from pretty much as soon as I could think. So to be able to do it really is wonderful.

There’s no part of being an author I don’t enjoy. Whether that’s editing, promotion, speaking about my work or giving advice, I enjoy it so much. And I’ve been lucky enough in my career so far to be able to do all of those things. I mean, how can you not love being able to say you opened for Christopher Brookmyre and were the first speaker EVER at a book festival. Or that you’ve had people all over the world send you pictures of your work and say how much they enjoy it. Really, that’s very special.

But I know that’s a cop out of an answer. And as a journalist, I know how infuriating it is to get a cop out answer.

So if I had to pick a least favourite part I would say the indecision.

With HellCorp,its characters and overall mood – there are a lot of different genres and styles at work. From sci-fi to fantasy, crime to thriller and a little bit of romance in there too, I found there were a great many avenues I could go down, almost at every turn. Deciding what to do, when to do it and who to do it with and to can be an infuriating and liberating experience.

I can also thank the wonderful people at my publisher Urbane for making this a whole lot easier. Matthew Smith and the crew have been so supportive with HellCorp, always happy to answer questions and offer advice – it can make a big difference for a writer. To know there’s a team who believe in you and your work as much as Urbane do really is an honour. And I can’t thank them enough.

In the end, and I’m not sure how other authors do this, when it comes to indecision I go with my gut. But it can be a long, hard wait until the very end before you realise you’ve made the right decision.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

Now this is something I CAN answer.

When I was about ten or 11, my mum brought home a copy of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13.75 by the late, great and much missed Sue Townsend. My parents both worked for a national newspaper so they would often bring back press editions, previews, all kinds of stuff that was sent in. And it really was all sorts, from video games two months early to videos and of course books.

This would have been the mid-90s so I’m not sure if it was a re-release of the novel. But regardless, I was hooked from page one. I don’t know what it was, it still gives me shivers today – I’m 32!

While I’d always been a keen reader before, Townsend’s style, her knack for putting down on page almost exactly what I was feeling and going through as a young lad, and above all else her humour, meant I fell in love with the novel and reading in general. And I can safely say that I wouldn’t be the writer, or maybe even the person too, without it as a companion.

So if I got the opportunity to write any book, it would be that one. Really capturing lightning in a bottle the way Townsend did time and time again is something very special. But I know no matter how hard I tried, I’d never match her opus.

How do you spend your time when you’re not wrapped up plotting your next book?

I love sport, the theatre, cinema and all aspects of pop culture really. I guess it’s a byproduct of my generation.

Writing is a huge part of my life and I like to get something down every day. But when I’m not doing that I always like to stay up to date on the latest news, reviews, TV shows and happenings. It also comes about from being a journalist – being a right nosy bugger.

And of course I love to read. As I mentioned before, this is a pastime that’s been with me all of my life. My P1 teacher told my mother that I should be encouraged to read more. It could be anything, even The Beano she said. And it worked. I even still get a Beano annual every Christmas!

I love to read almost any and every genre of fiction and more recently I’ve branched into political and ancient history. It helps that research is a big part of my writing so it always feels a little like a busman’s holiday.

I adore football and I’ve been a long-suffering Everton supporter for all of my life. My dad and step-mother are from Liverpool so I’ve got a strong link to that fantastic city.

And this year I’ve also been planning for a wedding! HellCorp is dedicated to my partner Anne-Marie and I’m delighted to say that we’re looking forward to our big day in the autumn. That’s been a fantastic experience of course and, along with HellCorp coming out, it’s made 2018 really a wonderful and special year for me.

But writing is still a huge part of my life. The enjoyment I get from it really does mean that it’s never very far away from what’s going on in my life. Inspiration comes from quite literally anywhere and everywhere. So I’m always on the lookout.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

I used to. I used to have a very intense, rigid routine that I stuck to religiously.

For my debut novel Morbid Relations (2015) I completed the first draft in just six weeks. What would end up the final edition was done in about two months. I’m a fast worker but I admit there was a bit of a cheat for this.

Myself and Anne-Marie had moved from Glasgow to Edinburgh but I was still commuting for work. That meant an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening on the train – uninterrupted, focussed. I’m used to noisy, busy newsrooms so rush hour trains were no problem at all.

My circumstances changed not long after Morbid Relations came out and I didn’t have that two-hour window every day. And in hindsight, I don’t think I would go back to such a concentrated, intense style of writing. I think it worked really well for Morbid Relations but I know now, in terms of my writing style, my approach and what I know works, it wouldn’t do.

I don’t really have any set routines when it comes to writing. As I mentioned before I like to write SOMETHING every day. It can be 50 words, it can be 5,000, it doesn’t really matter. Making progress, making time for whatever I’m working on is important. I get to write all day as a journalist so the transition to my fiction work is normally very smooth and easy.

And I pride myself on being able to write anywhere and everywhere. It’s a byproduct of being a  journalist, where you’re ALWAYS up against the clock and often not in the most comfortable or amicable scenarios.

For HellCorp I was able to work on this at a more relaxed pace. That didn’t stop me from going on huge five, ten, sometimes twenty thousand word marathon sessions. What I found with HellCorp, and in particular the character of The Devil, was the enthusiasm that I threw myself into it with. Unlike any other project I’ve worked on before, I really couldn’t wait to get back into that world and it’s characters.

It’s a novel about relationships, about growing, about acceptance. And being able to explore those themes through a great story, some fantastic characters and setting meant that it never, ever felt like a chore to work. And I’m glad to say that’s carried over into the next adventure. But no spoilers!

Sat down at the laptop, a cup of tea and a rich tea biscuit (the single greatest biscuit of all time I should add) suits me just fine.

What’s on the horizon? What can your fans look forward to next?

I’m always working. I’ve got a notebook filled with ideas of novels, novellas, comic books, scripts, you name it that I want to write. It just depends on what’s on the go.

As I briefly alluded to, I have a couple of ideas for more adventures with The Devil and the HellCorp cast. I don’t want to give too much away because it’s not fair on those who haven’t read the book yet (even though I love being a big spoil-sport! Wicked I know)

What I will say is that if there was ever a case of proving you can do something well you’ll get asked to do so again then The Devil is that. What that is, who it involves and whether he’s up to the challenge, well you’ll just have to wait and see!


Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be? 

And a nice tricky one to finish with. Lovely!

Whenever I’m asked to offer some advice or wisdom, I always go back to the best I was given.

When I was in university (I studied psychology before going on to creative writing and journalism) I got a tidbit from a lecturer that barely a day goes by where I don’t think about it.

“You can’t edit a blank page.”

On the face of it, it’s pretty handy for authors and writers. Get something down on the page – even if it’s absolute tosh, you’ve at least got something to start with. Sit down, write it and take it from there. By the time you’re finished that initial scribble might be absolutely unrecognisable. Or it’s the start of something really special. Regardless, it’s a start and it gets you started.

And I suppose it’s a mantra I’ve used in the rest of my life too. If you just get started with SOMETHING, then you’ve gotten over the hardest part. Everything from then on in is a learning curve and that, ultimately, will get you where you want to be.

The best advice, I’ve found, is usually the simplest. And that usually makes it the easiest to forget. So sometimes all you need is to hear it from somebody else.

It works for me. And hopefully other people too.


A huge thank you to Johnathan for joining me today and being so open and entertaining.  There is some extremely good advice in here for aspiring authors, and some wonderfully chuckle worthy answers to some tricky questions, and I doff my hat to you planning a wedding whilst writing and publicizing a novel!  Good luck to you and Anne-Marie for the Autumn, and yes, rich teas are awesome biscuits!!


Social Media Links:

Twitter: @JDWhitelaw13
Facebook: JonathanWhitelawAuthor



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** My thanks to Abby at Knopf Publicity for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **



In this gripping new work of suspense from the author of The Double Game, a young woman discovers a nefarious truth at the heart of the CIA’s operations in postwar Berlin and goes on the run for her life; years later she’s gruesomely murdered along with her husband, and her daughter begins to chase down these startling secrets from her past.

West Berlin, 1979. Helen Abell oversees the CIA’s network of safe houses, rare havens for field agents and case officers amidst the dangerous milieu of a city in the grips of the Cold War. Helen’s world is upended when, during her routine inspection of an agency property, she overhears a meeting between two people unfamiliar to her speaking a coded language that hints at shadowy realities far beyond her comprehension. Before the day is out, she witnesses a second unauthorized encounter, one that will place her in the sight lines of the most ruthless and powerful man at the agency. Her attempts to expose the dark truths about what she has witnessed will bring about repercussions that reach across decades and continents into the present day, when, in a farm town in Maryland, a young man is arrested for the double murder of his parents, and his sister takes it upon herself to find out why he did it.

My Thoughts & Review:

I love a book with a setting in the Cold War, I find it fascinating and something about the espionage and trickery that’s woven into stories set around this time are irresistible, so when I saw the description of this book I knew that I had to read it.

Upon starting this book I immediately took to Helen Abell, a young woman working in a male dominated field with the CIA in Germany.  The difficulties that she faced making her more determined and strong-willed to succeed and prove her worth.  Her superior, unhappy with having a female working in that position makes it all too clear to her repeatedly, belittling her and commenting negatively on anything she does.
Part of Helen’s role with the CIA is keeper of four safe houses which are used by their agents for various clandestine meetings, and in the course of her work she happens to overhear a conversation that sets in motion a chain of events that change her life.  Not realising the importance of what she has heard, and recorded in the safe house, Helen takes it upon herself to investigate.  But if this wasn’t enough, she later overhears something that shocks her to her very core and leaves her strongly in the sights of a very dangerous man.

Running parallel to this is another strand to the plot, the timeline this time being 2014 and featuring Anna who enlists the help of a neighbour of her parents to help her get to the bottom recent events, namely the death of her parents at the hand of her brother.    Unfortunately for Anna it seems that there is more to Henry than meets the eye, having spent time working with various departments of the acronymically named services of America.  The lessons of the past having far reaching ramifications for Anna and Henry as they try to untangle the clues to piece together the truth.

I did find the 1979 storyline the more intriguing one, but I think that’s more a personal thing than anything to do with the book.  Certainly, the action between the two timelines was wonderfully offset and where one would reach a crescendo the other would compliment it perfectly by being rife with intrigue and mystery.

Some of the characters are immediately unlikable, their actions are incredibly questionable and make the reader squirm with discomfort, but on the other hand there are characters like Helen and Anna who you cannot help but feel for.  But on the whole, they are all very well created and multidimensional, the various personalities coming to life through the great writing.
The plotting is tight and keeps readers hooked to find out what will happen next, the dialogue feels realistic and this makes for a gripping read.

A highly recommended espionage thriller!

You can buy a copy of Safe Houses via:

Amazon UK
Book Depository


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I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the blog tour for Sarah Ward’s third DC Connie Childs novel, A Patient Fury.  This is a series that I was late to discover, but when so many friends have raved about it, I simply had to find out if it was as good as they claimed, and as usual they were spot on!

A Patient Fury PB.jpg

** My thanks to the folks at Faber & Faber for my copy of this and to Emma at damppebbles blog tours for inviting me to part of the blog tour **



Three bodies discovered.

A family obliterated.

All evidence seems to point to one murderer: the mother.

DC Connie Childs, determined to discover the truth about the fire-wrecked property on Cross Farm Lane, realises that a fourth body – one they cannot find – must hold the key to the mystery. But what Connie fails to realise is that her determination to unmask the murderer might cost her more than her health – this time she could lose the thing she cares about most: her career.

My Thoughts & Review:

The DC Connie Childs series is one that I’ve read away from my blog, one that I read purely for enjoyment and have to say that so far it grabbed my attention, there are brilliantly created characters, impressive writing that grabs your attention and utterly beguiling descriptions of settings that give the reader the sense of being in the middle of the scene with the characters.

A Patient Fury begins with an uneasy and chilling opening, it sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the novel and leaves the readers a little unsettled and unsure of where the danger lies, who the culprit is and the motive for their actions.
The creeping menace that lurks throughout this makes for an entertaining and gripping read, and the way that Sarah Ward has linked the current case to another timeline makes this an irresistible book for me.

Whilst the case is a tricky one, for me one of the most impressive aspects of this book, and indeed the entire series is characterisation.  Connie Childs is a superb creation and there’s something about her that readers will take to, her tenacity, her work ethic, stubbornness all make her stand out.  She has a tendency to break rules and go off on her own investigations, seeing past the obvious and asking the questions that others haven’t considered.
Connie contrasts well with George, a family member of the deceased.  His obnoxious and rude ways had be wanting to shout at him at times, such was the intensity of the writing.  I do love when an author can evoke strong emotions from readers when they write their characters, the detail that they weave into their work makes the characters come alive and feel multidimensional.

I particularly appreciate the setting of a book when I know where it’s set, and in this case, I really enjoyed the trip to Derbyshire.  I’ve visited Derbyshire many times and felt that Sarah Ward instantly took me back there with her writing, the descriptions of the landscapes were perfect.  I loved the descriptions of the caves that Julia worked in, reminding me of Peak Cavern in Castleton.

Sometimes with thrillers and police procedurals you try to solve the case along with the detectives, or even have a sneaky suspicion about who the killer is or what the motive might be, but with this book it was so difficult to pin it down.  There are enough red herrings to keep you guessing and suitably unsure until Ward decides to reveal all and leave her readers wondering.

A great read and I eagerly await the next book!


You can buy a copy of A Patient Fury via:




Book Depository

APF_PB_blog tour





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