Running From The Sky by Amanda Malben #Blogtour #Guestpost

Synopsis

Three years into the civil war that has turned his country upside down, Sami’s home village in Syria is hit by a deadly bomb attack and he is forced to leave behind everything he knows and loves. Eventually, Sami and his family are given refuge in Coventry, England, but city life is hard to adjust to. It’s grey and cold and there are no fields to play in or animals to tend. Worse still, Sami worries about the fate of his uncle and cousins back in Syria and struggles to make new friends. In a bid to take his mind off his homesickness, Sami is introduced to Harry Adams, one of the elderly residents at the care home where his mum works. Although wary of one another at first, the pair gradually form a bond, as Harry tells Sami the story of the unusually named Splen and his dog Bobby, who lived through the Second World War and the infamous Coventry Blitz. As Sami discovers more about Splen and his dramatic escape from the horrors of conflict, the two unlikely friends make peace with their troubled pasts and forge a new sense of hope for the future.

Where to buy Running From The Sky

Goodreads

Amazon

I’d like to welcome Amanda to my blog today with a wonderful guest post on places to go, ten to be precise…

Places To Go

Ten places to go, hmm, I thought, well that’s easy. Sometimes the easiest thing can be quite hard. Trying to pick out places that sit in a special corner of my heart was rather difficult as there are lots, and lots of great places that I love, but these are the most significant.

I spent 12 years living on a canal boat – I have always been a Gypsy rather than a princess. Spending time traveling, finding new places to stay for a while, making new friends along the way. Sometime not being welcome and regarded as an itinerant has given me an insight – albeit tiny- into how it feels to be a wanderer trying to find a place for themselves. Impossible to pick my favourite spots as there are so many rivers and canals it would take a whole book.  What better way to visit London than by canal. Tie your boat up in the heart of London. Travel along the canal past the zoo. Stop at Camden market, then make your way to Lime House basin and out onto the River Thames, to sail up under Tower Bridge, past HMS Belfast, The London Eye, and Houses of Parliament, utterly brilliant.

Much as I would love to say I’ve been to Syria where my story starts, I cannot tell a lie!  But imagination is a wonderful thing! I have however visited Coventry. Although the city has had to reinvent itself and lost so many of its historic buildings it has such a spirit.   If you want to fill yourself with hope, to see the true meaning of what it means to rise from the ashes, visit Coventry Cathedral. The extraordinary new building that sits so compellingly next to the bombed ruins will touch your soul. While you’re there pop into The Blitz Experience—I got so much of my material from my visit, it hits all the senses.

Away from the book and into my top places I have to put a beach in northwest Scotland, up there at the summit. Mellon Udrigle, there’s not much there, a few houses, some glorious wooded chalets, and a camp site, wonderful walks and a beach that is a bit of paradise. If you fancy swimming as the sun sinks in front of you behind the mountains that tower in the near distance, with a seal bobbing alongside you, you’ve got it. Then chill out draped in blankets round the fire pit in the sand dunes — well welcome to my heaven.

Next on my list is Cornwall, the North Cornish coast is home to my husband and has become my second home. Best time to visit — as far as I’m concerned – is winter when the sea is wild and the jagged rocks work their magic. The beaches are lonely windswept and exhilarating. Also the cleanest due to Surfers Against Plastic… brilliant. Favourite spots? Northcott Mouth Beach and Trebarwith Strand for a pub lunch. But it’s all gorgeous.  Being in wild places clears the mind, the best form of meditation. It’s while walking I write in my head, I created a lot of the book when out with the dog – in fact she always gets to hear every twist and turn. I rather suspect that some people have heard me talking away to myself…mad old biddy!

So let’s move away from the wild and to something a little more civilised. The wonderfully eccentric Whitby with its history, culture; vampires and Goths; and yes fish and chips, but I don’t really do fish and chips, not to worry there’s loads of great places to eat. It’s friendly and fun with lovely places all round it. Staithes, famous for its arty connections, but be warned my normally, rational husband, was completely spooked by Staithes – so just as well I didn’t book the cottage there! However I thought it was charming. Robin Hood’s Bay, so beautiful but don’t even think about it if you struggle to walk up hills!

The city of Lincoln, again oodles of history with the Castle and Cathedral, definitely a ghost or two, art, culture and food — yes, I do like food!  If you’re into quirky, there’s Steampunk because Lincoln is officially the world’s most Steampunk location, this seems to give it the most entertaining charity shops  —  bound to find a top hat! Both Whitby and Lincoln have an acceptance of the strange and bizarre that weaves itself into the deep rooted historical fabric of these towns. I find places like these stimulate my imagination, stories and characters leap out at you.

OK wiz back home again now.

Although my roaming days are over, the feet still itch! So we bought a caravan to enable quick getaways and take the much loved dog. One of the most favourite of these is 1½ miles away from home! A field by a canal, where we can sit and dream. Forgive me, but I’m not telling where this field is, as I’m far too mean to share it! I’m one of those truly lucky souls who live in a little piece of undiscovered, English, rural, countryside. All of us who live round here call it the best kept secret in England — so my lips are sealed.

I guess reading this I chose places that contribute to my writing process, and one very essential thing for me ….Freedom. In most of my work there is the undercurrent of freedom of mind, body and spirit. In essence that is what Running From The Sky is all about, freedom for a boy in Syria and freedom for a boy in Coventry.

Thank you Amanda, I so enjoyed this. At least three of your favourite places are also mine and the rest are now on my ‘places I’d like to visit list’!

All About Amanda

Amanda Malben trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama but has dedicated herself to teaching.  She taught adults with learning difficulties at Northampton College, specialising in drama, and English as a foreign language to adults.  A fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, she co-founded a project with Northampton University to help improve the language skills of immigrant children and their parents.  Now retired, she lives in the Northamptonshire countryside close to the Warwickshire border and enjoys writing and walking her dog.

Where to find Amanda

Twitter

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The Cornish Village School by Kitty Wilson #Blogtour #Q&A

Synopsis

Following heartbreak, Rosy has rebuilt her life in the beautiful Cornish village of Penmenna. Now, headmistress of the local school, she is living by The Rule: no dating anyone in the village. Easy right? But Rosy Winter has a new neighbour, handsome gardener Matt.

In Penmenna for his new gardening TV show, this guy next door will do everything he can to persuade her to break her rule and win her heart. Meanwhile, Penmenna Village School is threatened with closure and it’s up to Rosy to rally the local community and #SaveOurSchool. Can she bring her worlds together and accept help from the most unlikely of sources? One thing’s for sure… she won’t be giving up without a fight.

Click here to buy The Cornish Village School

Today I’d like to welcome Kitty to my blog, she’s kindly agreed to answer some questions.

Can you tell us a bit about The Cornish Village School and what inspired you to write it.

I knew I wanted to write a romantic comedy as I had learnt that was my natural voice, it’s what I love to read and I really enjoy writing. Next, I decided to follow the old adage of write what you know. I have spent twenty-five years living in Cornwall and was a teacher in an infant school. I know what it’s like both sides of the schoolroom doors, as a parent and a teacher and know how scary the playground can get. Plus, how hard it is to always have a professional face on when you live and work in your community. I was itching to write about both those things. On top of which, I was surrounded by the beauty of Cornwall so it was next to impossible not to weave that through. However, I can promise that Penmenna is entirely a product of my imagination and is neither my local village or any of the schools I worked in. It really isn’t!

What made you actually sit down and think this is it, I’m going to write a novel?

I had always wanted to write a book but didn’t think I was creative enough. I was working as a full-time teacher and was a lone parent with two small children so I struggled to find the time. The desire to write was strong so I would appease myself by writing poetry, much quicker than a book. However, my health took a turn for the worse and I could no longer teach. It took me a little while to come to terms with this and then I had a lightbulb moment and decided to use the time to sit and write a novel. And ta-daa!

Give us an insight into your main character.

Rosy is a headteacher in a village school and loves her job. She is a huge part of the local community and enjoys the life that this provides. The only thing is that she has a secret she hugs to herself, a traumatic incident that happened at university and that has shaped her personal life ever since. Because of this she compartmentalises her life and doesn’t let her romantic life anywhere near her professional one, which is so deeply tied into community. Thus, she will only date men from out of the county and certainly never in the village. When Rosy meets the perfect man and discovers that he has moved in next door, her life is thrown into disarray. I feel sorry for Rosy because years of anxiety mean that she is so caught up in her self-imposed rule she is denying herself a chance of happiness. Consequently, she takes ages to be able to take control of her fears, even whilst we as readers are screaming at her to just kiss him! However, I think so many of us are restricted by our fears of what other people may think and the worst-case scenario, that we tie ourselves up in knots when we really need to give ourselves a break. This is Rosy to a tee, someone who appears to be so together on the surface and underneath is paddling like fury.

Do you prefer to read a good old paper copy of a book or Ebook?

I love both. I tend to always have paper books and Ebooks on the go. I read everywhere, so paper books are great for an hour in the bath and Ebooks are fab for reading in the dark when my partner is asleep and for taking with me when I’m out and about. I have to admit though, I love the smell of a paper book – both old and new. I haven’t felt the need to start sniffing my e-reader yet.

What genre do you like to read?

I read everything but my true comfort reads are romantic comedy and historical fiction. I always can be found reading one or the other, if not both. I also enjoy history books, literary fiction, women’s fiction (although I don’t see why it has to be defined by gender), the classics (I grew up devouring them all) and occasionally geek out on ancient plays.

What are your top 10 books?

This is such a hard question, I have so many favourite books. I know I’ll list ten and then I’m going to wake up in the night screeching because I’ve forgotten zillions. So, in no particular order:

The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver;

Katharine – Anya Seton;

Simply Divine – Wendy Holden;

Emily – Jilly Cooper;

The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic – Sophie Kinsella;

Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell;

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak;

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte;

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood – Rebecca Wells

Possession – A S Byatt.

Where is your happy place? The place where you find it the easiest to write.

These are two separate places, My happy place is Charlestown beach in Cornwall. I bought my children up on this beach, and if I ever need to cheer myself up then just a few minutes sat here makes all right with the world. For me, there is nowhere like it. However, writing there is wildly impractical – I have tried. Thinking I can do here, typing not so much. So, my happy writing/typing place is the sofa. I sit here with music on or the television quietly in the background – a bit like revising as a teen, I need a little bit of background noise or I panic – with my dog snuggled up next to me and the kettle close to hand.

Is The Cornish Village School the first novel you have actually written or do you have more that you have had published?

This is the first novel I’ve had published but I do have one that I wrote before this that isn’t published. I’m going to dig that one out of the drawer, give it a little update, polish and sparkle and send it to my agent when I get the chance because it makes me roar with laughter, it’s chock-full of the most amazing characters. But I’m so happy writing The Cornish Village School series at the moment that it may be a while away yet.

What advice would you give to your 16-year old self?

Ooh, I would sit her down and give her a stern talking to but the thing is she just wouldn’t listen. I was a bit of a monster, but I did have some adventures. I suppose I would bombard her with all the clichés and confuse her a bit by telling her to embrace life to the full but learn when to exercise a little moderation (I think she may discard that latter bit). Then I would make sure she knew that she was good enough and that she could achieve anything if she tried hard.

Finally, when will Book 2 in the series be published?

I’m writing it now and will have it with my publishers by autumn this year (fingers crossed) so it should be out by next year. For anyone who wants to keep an eye out, then feel free to come and find me on social media and all updates will be there.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, I’ve really enjoyed it.

Thank you Kitty!

All About Kitty

Kitty Wilson has lived in Cornwall for the last twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard or hiding out at the beach and has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind.

Where To Find Kitty

Romantic novelist association

Twitter

Valentina by Cristina Hodgson #Blogtour #Review

Synosis

Chantelle Rose is back. She has lived a fairytale. But will she ever get her Happy Ever After?

To find true happiness, she must discover who Robbie and Lionel really are. Their past holds the key to her future.

Her quest follows a trail that takes her to the depths of the Pampas lands of Argentina.

There, the beautiful Valentina awaits – and holds the key.

But who is Valentina? What is the mystery surrounding her?

And why is she so important to both Robbie and Lionel?

Will Chantelle discover the truth? And, more importantly, will she discover her destiny and the fidelity in her own heart?

My Review

I’d like to thank Neverland blog tours and Cristina Hodgson for including me in this blog tour ♥️

Valentina is the second book in the Chantelle Rose series. I loved book 1, so i started book two with my fingers crossed that it would be as enjoyable as the first.

I need not of worried and to be honest with Cristina’s writing style i really don’t think she could ever publish a boring story.

By the end of chapter one  the character of Chantelle Rose was like revisiting an old friend. The story begins as Chantelle finds herself pregnant and not quite sure of who the father is. It could be her fiance Lionel, the Hollywood actor or Robbie the handy man who partly captured her heart whilst buying her idyllic Kent cottage. The trouble is she spent a night with Robbie whilst ‘on a break’ from Lionel, because of a childhood trauma Chantelle sometimes suffers with temporary amnesia and it just so happens that particular night is all a blank to her.

Valentina picks up from where book one finishes, even so this can be read as a totally stand alone book. The story follows Chantelle as she searches for Robbie who has taken a break in Argentina. Robbie’s adopted Mother gives Chantelle a box containing a diary written by Valentina, Robbie’s birth mother. The story then alternates between the two.

Valentina is beautifully written, it made me laugh, real coffee spluttering laughs and cry. i couldn’t put it down and thought about it long after i’d finished it.

If you have yet to meet Chantelle i urge you to do it…quickly. 5* review from me!

Where To Buy Valentina

Amazon

Book 1 – Amazon

Simply Anna – Free short story

All About Cristina

Cristina Hodgson, mother of two, born in Wimbledon, London, currently lives in southern Spain. Cristina had a long career in sport, reaching national and international level and still actively participates in Triathlon races and enjoys outdoor activities. In her spare time she also enjoys reading and writing. She won a sports scholarship to Boston College. After a period in Boston, she returned to the UK and graduated from Loughborough University with a degree in PE and Sports Science.

Where To Find Cristina

Facebook

Twitter

Website

Get fit with Cris

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The Hanging Women by John Mead #Blogtour #Spotlight

Synopsis

A historical crime thriller set in 1886 Chicago; the power house of America, a sink of corruption and vice which is haunted by riots and gangland killings.  A story of weak men and strong women.

Jack Stevens discovers the bodies of two women, Philomena Blackstaff and Mary Walsh, tied together and hung by their ankles in a position resembling the symbol for treachery as depicted on tarot cards. Though retired and now wealthy, Stevens is an ex-sheriff and involves himself in the subsequent investigation.

As a result of Jack `stealing’ Philomena’s diary and his association with the Pinkerton detective agency, it is discovered that Mary Walsh worked undercover for the Pinkertons, investigating the Knights of Labour (the fastest growing workers’ rights movements in America of the late 1800’s). The women had been working together, tracing the man who was selling guns and dynamite to the more extremest factions of the workers movement. This led them to Ruby’s, a secret `nightclub for deviants’, where Stevens and Inspector O’Leary believe the pair fell foul of the man they were looking for, gang leader Joseph Mannheim.

With the May 4th Haymarket riots and bombings looming, Stevens must uncover the truth about The Hanging Women before it’s too late.

Click here to buy The Hanging Women

All About John

John was born in the mid-fifties in Dagenham, London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub, he writes.

His inspiration for his debut novel came whilst attending a lecture in Denver about the history of the American midwest, describing a time and place that was very different from that espoused by popular culture, which started him thinking this would make a excellent period in which to set a crime story.

His book describes how Chicago was a prototype of much that we consider both good and bad in the current age, it had a vibrancy and decadence that allowed a few enterprising individuals to prosper whilst violence and intolerance held back many others. The situation for some African Americans and women was improving but it was still a time when to be anything other than white and male made you a second class citizen.  The city was the manufacturing and transport hub of America, the vast influx of immigrants swelling its already booming population brought great wealth but also corruption and criminality. The midwest and Chicago typified a way of life, the ‘gun culture’ which is a euphemism for individualism, from which much of modern American social values have grown.

John is currently working on a trilogy of novels set in modern day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city: a Whitechapel noir.

Where To Find John

Twitter

Goodreads

Website

Into The Summerland by Julian Cundy #Blogpost #Review

I’d like to thank Authoright and Julian Cundy for including me in this blog tour.

Synopsis

The eternal question – what happens when we die? Is there a consequence from how we lived? Is there a reckoning?

Henry Ashton’s turbulent life is at an end. As he moves on from this world, he discovers how elusive the final peace can be.

With a spirit companion by his side, Henry learns there can be no peace without reconciliation, no rest without acceptance. He must walk his own path to absolution.

“For some souls the transition from mortal life to eternal peace is an easy one, soon completed. For others, who have been troubled in their life or who cannot reconcile the events and their part in them, the journey is longer…and harder. But every soul will find its rest.”

My Review

Into the Summerland  was a pure delight to read. I really love spiritual books so for me this was a true treat. It tells the story of Henry  and what happens immediately after he dies.

Julian’s writing style is beautiful, i was totally absorbed, to the extent i was on a train home with a real raucous crowd further up the carriage, I started to read Into The Summerland  at the beginning of the journey and when my journey came to an end and i entered back into the real world, i couldn’t believe the commotion that was going on around me. I’d been totally oblivious to any of the goings on! Much to my partners astonishment.

Into The Summerland is a story of  coming to terms with things that have happened in the past and ultimately finding peace. For me it was a story of hope and reassurance, truly inspirational!

All About Julian

Living  in  Westcliff-on-Sea  Essex,  Julian  Cundy  is  a British  adventurer,  dedicated  day  dreamer,  wordsmith  and  observer  of  life  and  all  its  absurdities.  He  is  a  recognisable  character  in  his  home  town  thanks  to  his  eye-catching  outfits  comprising  fine  hats,  cravats,  tails  and  spats.

Where To Find Julian

Website

Facebook

Instagram

YouTube

Twitter

Links To Buy Into The Summerland

Goodreads

Amazon

Grave Island by Andrew Smyth #Blogtour #Review

Synopsis

When Philip Hennessey is thrown out of army intelligence after evidence is fabricated against him, his ex-wife’s

school friend asks him to investigate the sudden death of her father, who she thinks has been murdered.

Philip soon discovers a far larger problem: a lethal trade in the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit drugs.

Using his contacts within the intelligence agencies, he follows the trail across the world, chasing counterfeit vaccines that could kill thousands.

Pitted against an international conspiracy, can Philip prevent the fake medicines getting through, and who can he really trust?

My Review

I’d like to thank Bloodhound books, Sarah Hardy and Andrew Smyth for including me in this blog tour.

I enjoy a book that has twists and turns and keeps you guessing, Grave Island ticks all of those boxes.

The main character Philip was refreshingly real, I genuinely warmed to him.

At the beginning of Grave Island Philip is in the army on a mission in Afghanistan. The first chapter opens as he is raiding a pharmacy in search of the Taliban. A mother and her son have been caught in the crossfire. Her thirteen year old son is dead. This was really heart wrenching to read even more so as this could really be based on true life.

On his return to England Philip is set up, this leads him to question the people he thought were friends. He is discharged from the army.

Thinking he’d have a quiet career break renovating a barge this soon changes when Greta his Ex wife’s friend contacts him and asks him to investigate the death of her Dad. This starts his journey as a private investigator.

The story develops and the plot thickens as Philip uncovers a massive drug scam, but not street drugs, pharmaceutical drugs.

Grave Island is a great read that will enthral and tantalise you!

Click here to buy Grave Island

All About Andrew

After graduating from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, Andrew spent a couple of years attempting to break into the film industry (including an unenviable job as Michael Winner’s assistant). When not working in films, he started up a building business and carried out work both in the UK and later in the South of France.

On returning to the UK, he established a company to manufacture a range of public transport seating, which won the 1980 Design Council Award. Eventually the seating was installed in bus stations and shelters throughout the country with licensees in Japan and the USA. Over the next twenty years the company diversified into the manufacture of architectural glazing and by the time it was sold, it had a workforce of some 60 people.

Andrew then concentrated on his main interests: sailing and writing. With his wife he explored the Mediterranean extensively in their catamaran, moving on to the Red Sea, East Africa and the Far East, returning to the Caribbean and the USA. He has written frequently about his travels for all the main yachting magazines. He also wrote and published an Introduction to the Canal du Midi, which was the inspiration for Rick Steins’ TV series. His first novel, Caesar’s Passage, was short-listed for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel award. His second, a thriller called Grave Island, is due out in the summer of 2018.

Andrew is married with two adult children.

Where To Find Andrew

Website

We Other by Sue Bentley #Review #Blogtour #Giveaway

Synopsis

We Other 

Family secrets, changelings, and fairies you never want to meet on a dark night.

Jess Morgan’s life has always been chaotic.

When a startling new reality cannot be denied, it’s clear that everything she believed about herself is a lie. She is linked to a world where humans – ‘hot-bloods’ – are disposable entertainment. Life on a run-down estate – her single mum’s alcoholism and violent boyfriend – become the least of Jess’s worries.

My Review

I’d like to thank Rachel’s Random Resources and Sue Bentley for including me in this magical tour!

Where do I begin with such a wonderful novel!

We other is a dark fairytale mixed with modern day life.

The storyline is fast paced and reeled me in from the first chapter. The story switches from a few different character perspectives. Jess the main character, has a troubled life with an alcoholic mother, my heart ached for her and the situation she’s in. Jess has an inner strength and a hidden secret that even she isn’t aware of! At times I wanted to jump inside the book and look after her!

Caleb is a young man fighting against his controlling father, he’s determined to live the life he wants to and not the life his father has mapped out for him.

And then you have Ivy Stark, a determined elderly artist who seems to be controlled by the fairy world, but you can forget the pretty fluttering fairies of childhood stories!

Entwined within these three characters life’s are the dark creatures of the fairy world.

We other is an epic read, it deals with gritty issues from the modern day world intertwined with a dark magical element. I could not put this book down. This is the perfect book to get lost in but be warned, it is addictive!

All About Sue

 Sue Bentley discovered a love of books at an early age. She worked for Northamptonshire Libraries for many years, while teaching herself the craft of writing. She is the author of the worldwide bestselling Magic Kitten, Magic Puppy, Magic Ponies, Magic Bunny series for age 5-9 years. She also writes for children and adults under various pen names. A lover of English Folklore, her books often contain elements of the otherworld and the darkness within the everyday. Her books have been translated into around 20 languages. We Other is her first book for Young Adults.

Where To Find Sue

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Website

Goodreads

Giveaway – Win a signed copy of We Other and a personal letter (open internationally)

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