Friday Night Drinks with…. Kaisha Holloway @kaishajayneh @Cecelia_Ahern #bookbloggers #bookblogging #amreading #FridayNightDrinks


I am really excited tonight because this person is one of the reasons this blog even exists today (thank them or blame them, as you see fit!) Her blog, The Writing Garnet was one of the very first book blogs I came across, and one which inspired my own attempts at blogging. She is a reading and reviewing machine, award-winning, and one of the nicest people you could ever wish to ‘meet’ in the bookish world. So, welcome to Friday Night Drinks…..Kaisha Holloway.


Kaisha, thank you so much for joining me for drinks this evening, I’m so thrilled you have joined me. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thanks so much for having me! I’ll have a cup of tea, two sugars and a splash of milk please!


If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Waterstones in Edinburgh!

Oooh, what is so special about the Edinburgh Waterstones, you will have to expand for me one day. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Oh my, what a fabulous question! That’s an incredibly tough one as I admire so many people, however it would have to be Nelson Mandela and Eva Cassidy.

I don’t think we’ve had either of those as choices before. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

Well during the day when my witches broom is put away, I’m usually found being a mummy to mini bookworm, Eva. Also, some people may know me as being The Writing Garnet, the blog I started back in 2016. I have a very soppy reason for starting my blog to be honest! I started it because I wanted to review books/host authors etc. as my way of saying thank you to the authors for writing books which have allowed me to escape from my day to day pain of being a multi-chronically ill person. I would love if blogging opened doors for me so that I could finally work from home though. Luckily I had the opportunity to be a PA to a popular author last year, as well as becoming a published writer when my article was published on Brides Magazine website.

That’s a fantastic reason for starting a blog. What has been your proudest moment since you started blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

Gosh, my proudest moment(s) has got to be when I won ‘Most Inspirational Blog’ at the Blogger Bash Awards in 2017, and when I won ‘Media Star of the Year’ at the RNA Industry Awards in 2018. I never expected to win awards with my blog, so I still cannot believe that that happened.

As for my biggest challenge, I think that would probably be finding the right words to do a book justice in reviews. I’m sure many other bloggers would agree with me when I say that, when we review lots of books, we end up using similar wording/phrasing for books in the same genre, and trying to find that word or phrase which describes that particular book can be incredibly hard when you just want to say something different.

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I would love to write my own book and get it published. I have multiple ideas for adult fiction, as well as a recent idea for a children’s fiction book. I would also love to be able to work from home in a remote position as I cannot go out to work due to my illnesses and the fact that I homeschool my daughter!

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’m excited about the idea I came up with for a children’s book. I would have liked to have read a book like it when I was a child, so I am hoping the confidence will come for me to be able to do something with it and make that dream come true. Who knows!

You should give it a go. After all, nothing ventured! I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

For me, wanting to travel and actually travelling are two different things! I have been to various places in the UK that I loved, however my all-time favourite place in the UK to visit was Whitby. It was the most beautiful, sensual place I have ever been to and I would go back in a heartbeat (pardon the pun).


As for bucket list, I have wanted to go to Australia since I was 3 years old. You would have thought the fact that I have family over there would have helped matters, but nope! A girl can dream!


Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

Haha ermmmmm, now there’s a question! I can do the voice of ‘Pingu’? Does that count?


Oh, that’s a good one! I’d love to hear it. Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

I’m in shock! You don’t ask a bookworm this! Haha. I thought the previous question was hard! I’m going to answer this question based on the books I have read recently, although that doesn’t narrow it down as even they are in double figures. Anywho, it would be Postscript by Cecelia Ahern.


The long-awaited sequel to the international bestseller PS, I Love You!

It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.
She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.
Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever…

I was in two minds about how I felt on hearing there was going to be a sequel, as I loved PS. I Love You so much, but hearing such great reviews of this book has persuaded me to buy a copy.

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Well seeing as I am on the tea, no hangover! Although when I was able to drink alcohol, I never had a hangover, even when I drank multiple beverages in one night. Soooooo, I don’t have an answer I’m afraid haha.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Sitting with a blanket, listening to the rain lashing down outside and losing myself in all of the books I bought from our wild night out in Waterstones!

Kaisha, thank you so much for coming on the blog this evening, and for being one of  the reasons it exists!

Kaisha blogs over at The Writing Garnet, so make sure you go and check out her blog. You can also catch up with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Kaisha is looking for opportunities so, if anyone reading this knows of any remote working vacancies or people who are open to receive pitches in magazines and what not, she would love to be given the opportunity. You can get in touch with her by email at

Join me next week for Friday Night Drinks with blogger and author, Noelle Holten.

The Magic Carpet by Jessica Norrie #BookReview #BlogTour (@Jessica_Norrie) @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheMagicCarpet

The Magic Carpet FB Ad

Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for The Magic Carpet by Jessica Norrie. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Magic carpet ecover[880]

Outer London, September 2016, and neighbouring eight-year-olds have homework: prepare a traditional story to perform with their families at a school festival. But Nathan’s father thinks his son would be better off doing sums; Sky’s mother’s enthusiasm is as fleeting as her bank balance, and there’s a threatening shadow hanging over poor Alka’s family. Only Mandeep’s fragile grandmother and new girl Xoriyo really understand the magical powers of storytelling. As national events and individual challenges jostle for the adults’ attention, can these two bring everyone together to ensure the show will go on?

This is one of those books that make you glad to be a blogger. You know the ones. The quiet, under-the-radar books that don’t really register on the ‘must-read’ radar. They aren’t the ones that everyone is fighting for a review spot for. The ones with month long tours of five bloggers a day that no one can find anything new to say about it by the end of the tour. This is one of the ones that you volunteer for because it sounds interesting and you have a gap in your schedule. You want to help out the organiser. You pop it in your diary and pretty much forget about it until it comes round in your reading rotation. Then – boom – you realise that you have stumbled on a beautiful gem of a book, a nugget of gold that dropped into your palm unexpectedly and you are so, so glad that you are a book blogger and that has allowed you to discover THIS book, this book that changes the way you think about things, that makes you see the world differently after you’ve read it. This is what makes book blogging such a privilege and a joy.

This book is unassumingly beautiful in so many ways. The construction, following the stories of a community through the alternating voices of different members from different backgrounds and different generations as they work on a school project, works perfectly to give clear voices to the characters. The author makes them all so distinct and believable, by the end I felt like I really knew these people; they were MY friends, MY neighbours, and I just wanted every one of them to get that happy ending. I thought she did such an amazing job of making each voice so authentic, really capturing the difference in the thought processes and speech of the children, parents and grandparents. It’s obvious that she has spent a lot of time observing characters and understanding them.

This is the story of our changing society. Of how we are trying to assimilate different cultures, backgrounds and faiths and re-weaving the tapestry of our country to accommodate the changes they bring. It reflects the difficulties this can bring, the misunderstanding and isolation this can cause for people of all backgrounds, how sometimes we fail, how some people resist but, underlying it all there is a strong vein of kindness and compassion in most people. This book is so relevant to these difficult and turbulent times in which we currently find ourselves, when it is so easy to believe the world has become a dark and unfriendly place. This book, with its message of hope is a welcome beacon, and I do firmly believe that, for the most part, the majority of us are these kind, compassionate, empathetic and tolerant people portrayed, despite the volume of protest we often hear. For the sake of my children, I so desperately want this to be true.

Throughout the book, the author gives light to a range of difficulties facing these families, which are sometimes hard to read. Domestic violence, racism and prejudice, abuse, isolation, bereavement. Unpleasant topics, but ones that people struggle with daily, often in silence, and these are things that can be affecting children in school, regardless of whether people know about them or not. One of the issues explored is how problems that parents are struggling with but believe they are hiding from their children can have a profound effect on the child. Children are acutely aware and sensitive and, regardless of whether adults speak openly about their problems or not, they cannot fail to be affected. The book illustrates this beautifully and, I hope, it will make more adults think about how they address problems with their children. It is difficult to know how much children should be exposed to, and the book acknowledges and explores that dilemma, but it is impossible to shield them completely.

The underlying message of this story is that, underneath colour and nationality and religion, we have so much more in common that we have differences and the exercise of having the children retell fairy stories, using their own words, demonstrates how our stories have so many overlaps and common themes. People are people the world over and, going back, have the same fears and problems, joys and successes and have used stories to record these. I thought this was such a clever and success motif to get across the point. If we allow ourselves to see it, there is more that binds us than divides us and as a society we need to highlight these similarities, rather than focus on our differences.

I am so happy that this book crossed my path. It is a thought-provoking, beautiful, sad, difficult but uplifting story and I would urge everyone to read it. It deserves a huge audience.

The Magic Carpet is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do check out the other blogs taking part in the tour for alternative reviews and other excellent content:

Magic Carpet BT Poster

About the Author

Author pic 1 preferred

Jessica Norrie was born in London and studied French Literature and Education at Sussex and Sheffield. She taught English, French and Spanish abroad and in the UK in settings ranging from nursery to university. She has two adult children and divides her time between London and Malvern, Worcestershire.

She has also worked as a freelance translator, published occasional journalism and a French textbook and blogs.

Jessica sings soprano with any choir that will have her, and has been trying to master the piano since childhood but it’s not her forte.

She left teaching in 2016. The Infinity Pool was her first novel, drawing on encounters while travelling. Her second novel The Magic Carpet is inspired by working with families and their children. The third is bubbling away nicely and should emerge from her cauldron next year. 

Connect with Jessica:


Facebook: Jessica Norrie

Twitter: @jessica_norrie


Friday Night Drinks with…. Kim Nash @KimTheBookworm @HeraBooks @Bookouture @RNATweets @millyjohnson #FridayNightDrinks #EscapeToGiddywellGrange #AmazingGrace #ChaseBookFest


I’m giddy (see what I did there?) with anticipation for tonight’s Friday Night Drinks because it is with one of my favourite people in the bookish world, and someone I have been lucky enough to meet in person through our shared membership of the RNA. It is book blogger, Bookouture Publicity Manager, book festival organiser and, since Wednesday, published author of TWO books (gosh, I’m tired just thinking about it all)……Kim Nash.


Kim, welcome to the blog. It’s so lovely to have you here. First things first, what are you drinking?

Gin and Tonic for me always if I’m going with alcohol, and coffee otherwise.  I do like my gin to taste like gin though, so none of this fancy stuff for me! Also I did discover some Grapefruit and Pomelo gin at the weekend from Chase Distillery which was blooming gorgeous and I think is my new favourite drink. 

Gin is also my tipple of choice, although I do like to try different ones. I had a lovely Earl Grey Tea one the other week. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

Well Friday nights are dog training nights for us, so our night out would consist of going to meet our wonderful friends at ChasinTails ( .  Roni is our rescue dog who came to live with us about 19 months ago and he’s changed our lives!   Friday night dog training is not just for him, but for all of us to have a social meet up with lovely new friends that we’ve met through the club.  Then it’s to the chippy to pick up fish and chips on the way home, before relaxing with a gin and tonic and celebrating the weekend ahead. 

Sounds great. I know Roni is a spaniel, like my lovely Lola, we should have a doggie date next time I am down your way! If you could invite two famous people, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

As I’ve recently read Michelle Obama’s Becoming, I’d love to invite her. She’s such an inspiration and a lovely lady! She’d be a great night out guest.  I’d also invite Jenny Éclair, as I saw her recently at the Hachette showcase and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in such a short time.  I think they’d both be great fun and would love a chippy tea and a G&T!  

Great choices, that would be some girls’ night out. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

Gosh! Where do I start.  I’m promoting Book 1, Amazing Grace, which came out in April, Book 2, Escape to Giddywell Grange, is also now out and I’m writing Book 3.  I’ve also been working with our local museum to organize Chase Bookfest which a local book festival with the most amazing best-selling and award-winning authors that we are so honoured to have join us.  Hopefully it’ll bring the authors together with readers who get the chance to meet their favourite authors and hear them read and answer questions.  This is happening TOMORROW! Saturday 21st!   SOOOOO EXCITED!!! 


Such a busy lady, and that is without even mentioning the day job! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

My proudest moment is when my son admitted that it’s quite cool to have an author for his mum!  He’s my biggest cheerleader, along with my lovely sister, and is constantly checking chart positions etc.  I think it’s the first time he’s ever really thought I’m cool! LOL! 

The biggest challenge is to write while working full time.  In my day job, I’m Head of Publicity at Bookouture and it’s busy and I’ve a head full of other people’s books.  I’m a binge writer so find it very difficult to get into a routine of writing some words every day and go for long spells without writing at all, but then will sit for hours once I get into the swing of it.  

What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

I think I’ve already achieved it and I’m totally honoured.  I wanted to touch people with my writing.  I wanted someone to be inspired, moved, or motivated to do something, or feel something through my words.  I’ve been incredibly lucky that lots of people messaged me while reading Amazing Grace and also Escape to Giddywell Grange to say that they’ve laughed and cried and some who have been inspired to try something new or to change their lives.  That feels really special.  

That is such a great ambition to have and pretty much exactly how I feel about my writing, i’m so happy for you that you have achieved it. What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’m writing Book 3 and have other ideas whirling around in my head, some a little bit darker and deeper than my normal rom com writes!  Watch this space. 

Exciting! Those voices never quite shut up do they, and they always bring the best ideas to you in the most inconvenient of places…. middle of the night, driving the car, in the bath, lol.

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

I’m very lucky to have travelled well in the past (before child! LOL!)  My favourite place is The Maldives, and whenever I’m struggling to sleep, I always go back to my sunbed on my private beach outside of my beach bungalow.  It works every time to relax me and ground me.  

I would love to go back to Dubrovnik, which I went to once as a quick stop on a cruise, but we didn’t stop long.  The streets are so shiny it looks like fairies have been up all night polishing them.  I’d love to spend some more time exploring there.   

Another place is Italy.  I had a bad experience once, where I went to Turin, and was in a bar and needed a wee, and had to go across a courtyard, into a garage like building and there was a hole in the floor which I had to stoop over.  It put me off Italy for a while but I really would love to go to Positano and Lake Garda.  

And I’ve read so many books about Martha’s Vinyard and Nantucket that I would love to go and explore there too.  I’ve only ever been to Florida in the US and want to sit on a swing on a porch overlooking the sea and I’d love to visit the places that I’ve conjured up in my mind from so many fabulous authors.  


That’s one of my favourite things about reading, the armchair travelling. I am such a sucker for a book set anywhere along the US coast. I have been to New England, but not to Nantucket yet. Definitely a bucket list destination.

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

This is hard!  I’m very open so people know most things about me.  I could say that I’m a Reiki Level 1 Practioner, I could say that I’ve been to see David Essex about 35 times (all my sister’s fault!) or that I believe in life after death!  Take your pick! 

Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

I love to read personal development books and one of my favourites is You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero.  It’s so inspiring and everyone should read it.  

The fiction book that changed my life was A Spring Affair by Milly Johnson.  It made me realize that I was unhappy and needed to make changes.  I did, and Milly encouraged me to start a book blog and I became immersed in the publishing world and merged my marketing and PR background with my love of books to work with Bookouture and I pinch myself and thank my lucky stars every day! 


‘Clear your house and clear your mind. Don’t let life’s clutter dictate to you. Throw it away and take back the control!’ 

When Lou Winter picks up a dog-eared magazine in the dentist’s waiting room and spots an article about clearing clutter, she little realises how it will change her life. What begins as an earnest spring clean soon spirals out of control.

Lou‘s loved ones grow disgruntled. Why is clearing out cupboards suddenly more important than making his breakfast, her husband Phil wonders? The truth is, the more rubbish Loulets go of, the more light and air can get to those painful, closed-up places at the centre of her heart.

Even lovely Tom Broom, the man who delivers Lou‘s skips, starts to grow concerned about his sweetest customer. But Lou is a woman on a mission, and not even she knows where it will end . . .

Lovely Milly, what an inspiring story. It is amazing how much writing can inspire people to change their lives. So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

Oh it has to be a big pint of water before bed and a good old Wetherspoons breakfast.  Then home to tuck up on the sofa under a blanket with a great book.   Never fails. 

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Saturday mornings normally start with a nice early dog walk over Cannock Chase Forest, then just hanging out with my son for the day.   Jimmies are on quite early and we snuggle up with a film or watch some TV.  Sundays I can normally be found on the sidelines, cheering on his team with the other fabulous footy mums that are my football family.   Then another walk over the forest with Ollie and Roni before a good old Sunday roast.  

Sounds like bliss. Kim, thank you so much for coming on the blog tonight, I have had the best evening. Huge luck with the new book and the book festival tomorrow, I hope it all goes wonderfully.

Kim’ new book, Escape to Giddywell Grange is out now and you can buy a copy here.


Maddy Young thought she had it all.

Swanky city apartment? – yep. Fancy car? sorted. High-flying career? – tick.

Even if she’s lost most of her friends because of spending all her time at work, and can’t remember when she last had fun, it’s worth it.

Until she’s suddenly made redundant. Now she’s 37, jobless, and after the breakup with the former love of her life, unhappily single.

Enter Maddy’s childhood friend, Beth, the owner of Growlers, the doggy daycare centre at Giddywell Grange, on a mission to make Maddy see there’s more to life than work.

Soon, Maddy is swapping spreadsheets for volunteer duty at the library, daily Starbucks for cups of tea with elderly neighbours, and her Prada handbag for doggy poo bags… And with Beth’s gorgeous brother, Alex, back from the States, Maddy starts to think that Giddywell Grange might just be her happy place.

But when her old life – and her old boyfriend – comes calling, will Maddy go back to the job she loved so much? Or will she discover that the key to happiness lies in making others happy?

If you would like to read my review of Kim’s first fabulous book, Amazing Grace, you can find it by following this link.

Kim Nash lives in Staffordshire with son Ollie and English Setter Roni, is PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture and is a book blogger.

Kim won the Romantic Novelists Association’s Media Star of the Year in 2016, which she still can’t quite believe. She is now quite delighted to be a member of the RNA.

When she’s not working or writing, Kim can be found walking her dog, reading, standing on the sidelines of a football pitch cheering on Ollie and binge watching box sets on the TV. She’s also quite partial to a spa day and a gin and tonic (not at the same time!) Kim also runs a book club in Cannock, Staffs.

You can read Kim’s book blog at Kim The Bookworm and catch up with her via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Next week I will be joined for Friday Night Drinks by blogging superstar, Kaisha Holloway of The Writing Garnet, so please do join us.

Battle Beyond the Dolestars by Chris McCrudden #BookReview (@cmccrudden) @farragobooks @NetGalley #PublicationDay #BattlestarSuburbia #NetGalley


Time for the Machine Republic to Kurl Up and Dye

It’s a year since the Battlestar Suburbia broke free from Earth and the human rebellion is hiding out in the asteroid belt. Their leader, Admiral Janice, is assembling a fleet she hopes can topple robot rule – except on Wednesday afternoons when she can do you a half head of highlights for 30 quid.

Janice has given Darren, now the reluctant captain of the teenage starship Polari, a critical mission, to open up a path back to Earth by bombing the Martian Gap Services. But when it goes wrong and Darren and his crew are chased deep into the solar system, Janice has only one hope left, back on Earth.

Here, sentient breadmaker Pamasonic Teffal is resisting the human–machine war the best way she knows how: by running for office. Until a distress signal from Janice persuades her to get her turbo-charged alter ego Pam Van Damme out of mothballs, that is…

Can Pam save the solar system and rescue Kelly from the clutches of her nemesis, the crazed smartphone-turned-cyborg, Sonny Erikzon?

Anyone who follows the blog will know the Battlestar Suburbia was one of my Top Ten Books of 2018 (you can read my review of the book here), so I am extra excited to be reviewing the sequel, Battle Beyond the Dolestars, on the blog today, which is its publication day. Happy publication day, Chris, and my thanks to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

There is always a risk with a sequel to a book that you have loved as much as I loved Battlestar Suburbia that it isn’t going to live up to expectations. The ‘difficult second book’ syndrome. I am delighted to report that any such fears are unfounded with this book, it was every bit as mad, funny and clever as the first one and I enjoyed every minute of revisiting the Battlestar Suburbia-iverse (NB. must think of a snappier reference.)

The first book was a such a hit with me because it blended together my love of the works of Douglas Adams, a nostalgic nod to Red Dwarf and really, really bad puns. I absolutely love a really, really bad pun. This book has all of that, plus a great interweaving of subtle, and less subtle, references to the total shambles that is our current political situation. I’m not quite sure how Chris does it, but all these things which should probably end up being a huge soupy mess actually blend together really well and flow like a well-oiled machine to make a book that it sharp, funny, clever and thought-provoking, all at the same time. Did I mention the truly terrible puns?

I really, really love the characters in these books and it was fascinating to see how they have all developed in the year since the last story ended. Janice, the reluctant leader of the resistance is finding that the demands of leadership weigh heavily on the shoulders of a hairdresser who hasn’t really had dealings with people for decades, except three ancient cyborgs formed from the bodies of cantankerous, elderly customers. She’s much rather be left alone in her salon, instead of being forced to try and out spies using ingenious hairdressing techniques.

Darren also hasn’t quite worked out how to fit comfortably into his new role as space hero, particularly the costuming part, but he’s doing his best. Pamasonic Teffal continued to be my favourite character, although she actually ends up being more than one, due to her schizophrenic approach to the resistance movement. Her escapades in the world of the social hostess particularly made me laugh. There were also some great new characters to get to grips with and the whole thing was just a joyous smorgasbord of silliness and science. Honestly, there hasn’t been anything quite like this available for a ,long time, it is such a clever blend of madness and brilliance, I really can’t sing the praises of the series enough.

I’m really hoping that this is not the last we see of the Battlestar Suburbia-iverse (damn, failed to improve on it), because I have really grown very fond of its quirkiness. Maybe Chris will do an Adams and give us a trilogy in five parts as an homage to a writer who has to have been an influence. But, even if this is the end, I really look forward to seeing what he produces next because he has a very unique way of looking at things that I am keen to see more of.

Battle Beyond the Dolestars is published today and you can buy a copy here.  The book is the sequel to Battlestar Suburbia, and you can get a copy of this first book in the series here.

About the Author


Chris McCrudden was born in South Shields (no, he doesn’t know Cheryl) and has been, at various points in his life, a butcher’s boy, a burlesque dancer and a hand model for a giant V for Victory sign on Canary Wharf.

He now lives in London and, when not writing books, works in PR, so in many ways you could describe his life as a full-time fiction. If you like science fiction, graphs and gifs from RuPaul’s Drag Race you can follow him on Twitter for all three, sometimes at once @cmccrudden.


Shelter Rock by MP Miles #BookReview (@mp_miles) @matadorbooks #thriller #africa #writewhatyouknow


South Africa is under attack from all sides when Elanza, a politically connected heiress blinded by disease and looking for love before it is too late, meets a naïve English boy. Ralph, eighteen and innocent, has accidentally stumbled upon Elanza – and South Africa’s biggest secret.

When Ralph disappears into the darkest part of the Continent to walk home overland, a Swazi spy, the only black African agent working for the apartheid era National Intelligence Service, comes into both of their lives.

Angel Rots is uniquely qualified for his official mission to find Ralph and a private mission to settle an old score, but in a pursuit from Cape Town to Cairo, Ralph is always one step ahead and Angel starts to ask questions. Why is this kid so important? What has he found? Looking for answers, Angel discovers a secret that challenges his own loyalties – and could change the course of history.

From illegal nightclubs in South Africa to poachers in Zimbabwe and the Batwa pygmies of Burundi, from arrests in Uganda and drugged hit men in Kenya to thieving Sudanese nuns and a final confrontation in the bazaars of Old Cairo, no one would make it home without an angel watching over them. 

When I was offered the chance to review this fascinating sounding novel, I jumped at it. As well as promising to be a pulse-pounding thriller with huge scope, it offered an epic journey for the reader across Africa, following a route that the author himself has walked. With a hook like that, who could resist. Huge thanks go to Sophie Morgan at Troubador for asking me to read the book and for my copy which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I had this book on my TBR for ages, so my apologies to the publisher and author for taking so long to review it. I had a bout of illness between April and June which meant I could not read for a while, and this book is a thick old tome, so I had to wait until I had a sufficient gap in my blog tour schedule to fit it in. When I did finally get round to it though, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The story is an interesting mix of thriller, travelogue, political commentary and coming-of-age story. I have never come across anything quite like it, and the fact that it was based on the author’s own experiences of travelling through Africa in the 1980’s added another level of interest to the story for me.

I actually found the book a little difficult to get in to initially. I did read the first 10% and didn’t really become invested on my first attempt so I put it to one side for a couple of weeks, thinking that maybe I was not quite in the right frame of mind. When I went back to it, I still found the beginning a little confusing and difficult to get through, but this time I persevered and, once I got to the part where Ralph sets off on his journey through the heart of Africa, I was thoroughly engrossed and raced through the rest of it.

This is the strongest part of the novel for me. The political thriller element, which was quite complicated to set up and follow and which ostensibly operates as the frame on which to hang Ralph’s adventure and add the tension of pursuit, didn’t quite work for me. The real story was Ralph’s extraordinary journey, and the fascinating commentary on the socio-political landscape of central Africa during the time of this journey is what had me glued to the page. Honestly, I was riveted by this aspect and, if this is a subject that interests you, this book is really a must read. For me, the book would have worked just as well as a straight forward travel book without the thriller element, but that is just a matter of personal preference possibly.

I got a little lost again at the end when the thriller elements were being tied up, and overall, I was much less invested in the subsidiary characters of the book, who did not feel as well fleshed out and purposeful to me as Ralph. It was clear which character the author closely identified with in the story, his journey – both physical and emotional – burnt through the page and into my heart, the rest was just background and window-dressing, which is why I believe it could have worked as well as straight forward non-fiction travel writing. However, there may be other people, bigger fans of political thrillers, who will react to it differently. As someone who loves travel writing, and social commentary, I probably focused in much more on the aspects of the book that appealed to those interests.

This book has a lot to recommend it, and I feel like I have been enriched by the experience of reading it, despite my little niggles about certain aspects. It requires quite an investment of time and mental energy, but it is an investment that will be well rewarded.

Shelter Rock is out now and you can get a copy here.

About the Author


MP Miles is originally from a small town in Dorset. He is a pilot, a diving instructor, and an award-winning chef. A lifelong sailor he now lives with his girlfriend on-board a yacht called Pacific Wave.

Connect with MP Miles:

Facebook: MP Miles Author

Twitter: @mp_miles

Tempted by….Jen Med’s Book Reviews: Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir @JenMedBkReviews @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks #Trap #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations


Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one…and Iceland.

Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all…Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.

Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

So, around a year ago, I launched a series highlighting books that I have been enticed to buy by reading reviews by my fellow bloggers, after the efficacy of book bloggers in prompting book sales was called in to question.

I know that book bloggers are effective at generating sales for authors because, since I started blogging and reading more reviews by my fabulous fellow bloggers, I have been tempted to buy more and more books, to the extent that I have had to buy three new bookcases in the last year and my Kindle is over-flowing.

The series stalled earlier in the year due to health issues, but I have decided to resurrect it, as I still had a lot of inspiring bloggers on my list when it faltered, and have been tempted by even more in the interim. I apologise that some of the posts referenced are quite old, but rest assured that all the bloggers featured are still active and still writing fantastic reviews to guide us in our book buying choices, so do check out their blogs for up to date content.

The first book and blog featured in this revised series is the utterly marvellous Jen Med’s Book Reviews and this review of Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir, the second book in her Reykjavik Noir trilogy. Actually, Jen’s review now only inspired me to buy Trap, but also the first book in the series, Snare and I am looking forward to finishing off the trilogy with Lilja’s new book, Cagewhich is out next month.

I love the detail in Jen’s review, which gives you a taste of the book and all the salient points that are going to draw you in to the book, but she manages to do it without giving away any spoilers. This is a real skill for a book blogger and one that Jen displays in all of her reviews. As someone who is quite verbose in her own reviews, I love a detailed blog post and the fact that Jen is a no nonsense but enthusiastic blogger makes her reviews ones that I always take the trouble to read because I know I am going to get the truth of how good or not a book is, with no flannel or waffle.

Jen has a lot of other good stuff on her blog, especially in her weekly wrap ups, and I always get the feeling that I am getting to know a genuine person here, rather than just an anonymous person behind a keyboard. This is important when you are trying to work out if someone is going to be on your wavelength when it comes to book tastes. She is also a huge supporter of other bloggers and active member of the blogging community and I would highly recommend her blog as one that avid book lovers should be following. She has access to all the good stuff! Make sure you check out her blog here.

Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir is available now in paperback here, along with the preceding title, Snare, which you can get by following this link. The final book in the trilogy, Cage, will be published on 17 October and you can pre-order it here.


We Met In December by Rosie Curtis #BookReview #BlogTour (@karamin) @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K @NetGalley #WeMetInDecember #NetGalley #Winter


What if you couldn’t get away from the one who got away?

Unlucky in love Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling Notting Hill house‐share with four strangers. On her first night Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor. They don’t kiss under the mistletoe, but as far as Jess is concerned, the connection is instant. She lets herself imagine how their relationship will grow over the following year.

But when Jess returns from a Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else – beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams… and the woman of his.

Jess is determined to move on and survive the next twelve months… but love has a way of hampering even the best laid plans…

I am excited to be taking part in the blog tour for my first wintery book of the season, We Met In December by Rosie Curtis. My thanks to Sabah Khan at Avon Books for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my ecopy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I thought this was going to be my first Christmas book of the year, but this actually contains only passing mentions of Christmas. However, it is a lovely book to read at this time of year, as it does feel very…autumnal…. to me, something to do with the change of the season heralding new beginnings and new challenges, which is one of the themes of the book.

We meet Jess and Alex as they are both undergoing big changes in their lives. Jess has moved from Bournemouth to London to start a new job in the city she has dreamed of living in. Alex has made a drastic career change, a decision that led to seismic changes elsewhere in his life that he is still coming to terms with. They both end up with rooms in the same house share and have an instant spark of attraction, but the path of true love never did run smooth, as we know.

This is a really, sweet, gentle and heart-warning story. it is told from the dual perspectives of Alex and Jess, and gives a great insight into how two people can get in a muddle when they don’t articulate their feelings and make assumptions about how the other person is feeling. It is a totally authentic portrayal of trying to negotiate the tricky world of romance, as anyone who has been young and besotted with be able to tell you. We’ve all been there, so the story is universal and everyone will be able to relate to parts of it.

The two main characters are both easy to like and relate to, so they carry the reader through the story effortlessly. I cared what happened to both of them, and really wanted things to work out, which is the make or break hook for a romance novel. This one worked really well. The story, whilst seeming ordinary, was very touching and true. Rosie also peopled the book with a host of other attractive characters to assist the plot along, the whole thing just meshed together perfectly.

The one thing that set this book a little apart from the mainstream of romance novels was its passionate portrayal of London. The author really brings the city to life, you can feel what a love story of London, as much as Jess and Alex, this is and she pretty much captured how I feel about the city. This was a London I recognised and love when I visit, and I really enjoyed experiencing a visit to the capital via the pages of this book. It did have a very ‘Richard Curtis movie’ feel about it, which no doubt was deliberate given the mention of Jess’s love for them, so if this is something that appeals to you, as it does to me, this is a great book for you to pick up.

This book was a very easy, pleasant and satisfying read that is perfect to carry you through the cooling days of autumn and towards winter. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a heart-warming romance to while away a few happy hours.

We Met In December is out now and you can get your copy by following this link.

To read some alternative reviews of the book, check out the rest of the stops on the tour:


About the Author


Rosie Curtis was born in the Highlands of Scotland, and now lives with her family in a 150 year old house by the sea in the north west of England. She loves travel, happy ever after stories, and daydreaming. Her favourite book character is a toss up between Anne Shirley and Jo March. Rosie also writes adult and teen fiction as Rachael Lucas.

Connect with Rosie:


Facebook: Rachel Lucas Writer

Twitter: @karamina

Instagram: @rachellucas

What Goes Around by Rachel Ellyn #BookReview #BlogTour (@disfunctionaldi) @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours #WhatGoesAround

What Goes Around

Alice has been playing the perfect Southern wife for over twenty-five years. So when Bob dumps her for some blonde bimbo twenty years her junior, Alice figures she’s entitled to every dollar she can bleed from him. And, once she’s got the money, she’s entitled to use it on a much-needed vacation to Nanm Paradi, a Caribbean resort that sells itself as her “soul’s paradise”.

She’s never experienced anything as luxurious as Nanm Paradi. The staff know her every desire and cater to her every need before she even knows she needs it. She figures this is how the really rich live and she’s ready to take advantage of all of it–the fabulous drinks, the beautiful views, and the handsome men. And when she discovers that voodoo magic is also on offer… well, Bob hurt her bad. She can take some time away from paradise to exact a little pain. Alice would have been happy to leave things at that. 

But when she gets hit where it hurts–her bank account–Alice’s game changes. It’s no longer about post-divorce romance. Now it’s about revenge.

Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for What Goes Around by Rachel Ellyn. My thanks to Emma Welton of Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for inviting me to take part and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This was a really fun, quirky little novella that was very different to my normal choice of reading material. A mixture of thriller, romance and travel with a dash of the supernatural, all overlaid with a gloss of Southern sass and you have a spicy cocktail of a read that you can’t help but enjoy.

The main character, Alice, is a feisty Southern belle who is smarting from her divorce from wealthy lawyer, Bob, who has dumped her for a younger model. She decides to take a luxurious holiday to the tropical paradise resort of Nanm Paradi to indulge in some sun, sea and maybe a bit of rebound romance. The resort exceeds all her expectations, especially when she stumbles on the secrets of some Creole voodoo. Well, what woman scorned wouldn’t be tempted to engage in a little mystical revenge on the ex who humiliated her and broke her heart? Perfectly understandable! But, as she finds out, it can be dangerous to meddle in forces which you can’t control.

I really liked Alice, she was funny and determined and completely outrageous, unlike anyone I have ever met. I loved the touch of Southern charm that ran through the book, and I think she came across very strongly. The story is quite mad, of course, but it is great escapism to suspend your disbelief for a while and just sink into the alternative universe of the story where waiters are mind readers and voodoo queens can help you live out your wild revenge fantasies. Throw in a perfect tropical paradise and an ideal rebound man, and you have yourself a story!

If I had a niggle, it was that there were a couple plot strands that weren’t quite tied up for me, and one aspect at the end that I did query as whether it followed through on the idea that had been set up in the story, but that is the pedant in me talking, and really this is not the book for pedantry. It is pure, fun escapist fiction and should be approached as such. There are much worse ways to while away and hour that with this unique, engaging story. Give it a go if you are looking for something a little different.

What Goes Around is out now and you can get a copy here.

Make sure you visit some of the other fabulous blogs taking part in the tour and read their reviews of the book:

What Goes Around banner

About the Author


Life and loves after the career.

With degrees in Finance and Economics, Rachel found wonderful success in the business world, which took her I.T. and financial process consulting international. However, with her mind focused on business, and with the lack of training and mentoring in her personal life, marriage success eluded her.

After foraging on a path of self-awareness and exploration with a determination to avoid repeating patterns again, she found the key to relationship bliss. Now, combining her passion for writing and storytelling with her skills, knowledge, and drive that led to her business acclaim, Rachel shares her off beat take on the world, and her findings where life, love, divorce, and children are concerned.

Rachel is determined to be a publicist’s nightmare by writing in multiple genres including children’s fiction, flash fiction, romance, and suspense/thriller.

After multiple divorces, she is now happily married and lives in the Kansas City Metropolitan area enjoying the household noise of her soon-to-be empty nest.

Connect with Rachel:


Facebook: Rachel Ellyn

Twitter: @disfunctionaldi

Instagram: @rachelellyn

dpbt 2

Friday Night Drinks with…. Sheila Turner Johnston @SperrinGold @colourpoint #FridayNightDrinks #MakerOfFootprints


Tonight I am delighted to welcome to the virtual blog bar for Friday Night Drinks, author…Sheila Turner Johnston.

Sheila Turner Johnston

Thank you for joining me for drinks this evening, Sheila, it is lovely to have you on the blog. First things first, what are you drinking?

Hi Julie, thank you for inviting me this evening! I’ll have a pure apple juice with ice please, with a tonic water mixer on the side. If the bar is out of that, make it a tonic water and bitter lemon. 

If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

It’s hard to narrow this down, but we could have dinner in the Europa Hotel and then take in a show next door at Belfast’s historic Grand Opera House.


Sounds fabulous, Belfast is top of my bucket list for my next city break. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Only two? Oh dear! Well, I’m interested in ancient and medieval history and the Tudors, so I’d like to have a chance to talk to Cicero, the Roman senator and orator. He lived in and influenced pivotal times when the Roman Republic became an Empire. I’m sure he would have a lot to say about Brexit and the EU! There are so many women to choose from also but it would be fascinating to meet Emmeline Pankhurst. Her views on the current feminist movement, in contrast to the struggle she had in the early twentieth century, would be very interesting.

We haven’t had either of them on Friday Night Drinks before, so great choices. So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

Right now I’m involved with publicity for my novel Maker of FootprintsIt’s a contemporary novel exploring relationships that get complicated when personal boundaries are challenged. One book blogger described it as a love story that is lifted into something more. I like that! Where do I want it to go? Into the best seller lists of course! Apart from that, I am doing final revisions on my next novel and hope it will be out before the end of this year or early next year. Fingers crossed! 

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

I’ve been writing for a long time, and during my student years my main method of creative expression was poetry. I had the scary and wonderful experience – especially with hindsight – of reading my poetry at a meeting of the English Society at Queen’s University with none other that Seamus Heaney in the audience! I remember him sitting in an armchair, eying me thoughtfully and puffing on his pipe – which was allowed then. He was one of my lecturers as well.


My biggest challenge is defeating procrastination. I am very easily distracted and have too many interests to find it easy to focus. Everything ever written about how writers invent displacement activities applies to me with bells on!

Seamus Heaney, I am so jealous! What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

The ‘one big thing’ changes as time and events move on. For example, my elder son asked me some years ago if there was something I would really like to do and hadn’t yet done. I said I’d like to write a novel. He said “Ok, then write one.” So I did! The next thing I really wanted to do was write another one – and I did! So I suppose what I’d like to achieve is a regular output of good novels that people enjoy. If I had to push the boat out, I’d love to see one of my novels made into a movie! In case any film producers are listening to us this evening, Maker of Footprints is just perfect for the big screen – all the scenes are there ready to go! Well, you did say “be ambitious”! 

Book-to-movie is the most common ambition amongst authors on this feature, it has to be said! What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

I’m excited to see my next novel published and nervous about what people will think of it. It tackles a difficult subject and involves a controversial relationship. I loved writing it. I also have novel number three started. It’s giving me a few headaches at the moment and all the displacement activities are having a party!

I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

Unlike you, I’m afraid I’m not a great traveller. I get travel sick, agonizingly sore ears on aeroplanes etc. However, three years ago I screwed up my courage and went to Italy on an special interest archaeology holiday. Amongst many fascinating places, we visited Pompeii and Herculaneum, places I had always wanted to see. I’m so glad I did that. Apart from that, I find the UK and Ireland endlessly interesting and hope to visit more places closer to home, especially sites of historic interest. 


I love Ireland. My partner, who is from Dublin, is taking me on a road trip along the south and west coasts next month – it was my birthday present – I cannot wait. Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

Scraping the barrel a bit to answer this question! I suppose I could tell you that my mother was from Belfast in Northern Ireland and my father was from Cork, far down south in the Republic. So I can say that my brother and I are very early examples of cross-border co-operation!

You should be in charge of Brexit! Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

Goodness, that’s a tough one. The one that seems to float to the top of my mind is one you’ve probably already read, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. That book should be required reading for everyone, especially GCSE and A level history students. It evokes the mud-soaked horror of war, not from the elevated perspective of generals and governments, or even history textbooks, but through the eyes of the men who were really there, in the mud and the foxholes and the tunnels. From an Ulster and Irish point of view, Faulks’ description of the Battle of the Somme is particularly vivid and memorable. It’s as close as I imagine anyone could get – or want to get – to actually being there.


1910. Amiens, Northern France. Stephen Wraysford, a young Englishman, arrives in the French city to stay with the Azaire family. He falls in love with unhappily married Isabelle and the two enter a tempestuous love affair. But, with the world on the brink of war, the relationship falters. With his love for Isabelle forever engraved on his heart, Stephen volunteers to fight on the Western Front and enters the unimaginable dark world beneath the trenches of No Man’s Land. From award-winning writer Sebastian Faulks, Birdsong is an exceptionally moving and unforgettable portrait of the ruthlessness of war and the indestructability of love.

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

I’ve never had a hangover! The obvious failsafe way to avoid one is not to drink too much in the first place, but that is probably not what you mean! I do get really bad headaches sometimes and I reach for the ibuprofen and then just lie down and moan a lot till it goes away.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Besides reading?! A lovely walk along some of our fabulous north Down coastline, time with my family, church on Sunday morning, a meal in a nice restaurant and maybe a film on TV. A packet of giant chocolate buttons would be in there somewhere too!

Sheila, it has been an absolute delight to chat with you, thank you so much for joining me and I wish you lots of luck with your writing.

Sheila’s debut novel, Maker of Footprints, is out now as an ebook and paperback and you can get a copy here.


Meeting him was easy. It was knowing him that burned bone.

Paul Shepherd is dangerous. He crashes into Jenna’s life like an asteroid into an ocean. Willful and exhausting, he stirs feelings that make her confront all that has kept her safe – and bored.

Relentless and determined, he needs Jenna with a desperation she does not understand. Jenna discovers that, although she can try to hide from Paul, there is nowhere to hide from herself.

But he is married…

What do you do when you discover you are not the person you thought you were?

This is one of those rare books that touch the soul – a story of irrevocable change, tragedy and indestructable love.

Sheila Turner Johnston was born in west Cork, Ireland and spent her childhood in different counties the length and breadth of the country, as the family moved wherever her father’s job took him. She attended Queen’s University, Belfast, and apart from managing to graduate against all her expectations, one of her best experiences was reading her poetry to an audience that included Seamus Heaney. 

Sheila has won prizes for both fiction and non-fiction, and has written many articles for both local and national publications. She and her husband Norman founded the publishing stable Colourpoint Creative Ltd, which is now owned and managed by their two sons.

Maker of Footprints is her first published novel.

You can find out more about Sheila and her writing on her website and on Twitter.

Please join me back here next week when I will be having drinks with author, fellow RNA member, blogger and Bookouture Publicity Manager, Kim Nash.