Wednesday, 23 October 2019

BLOG TOUR: Reach for a Star - Kathryn Freeman

It's a Rachel's Random Resources Blog Tour today so that means there's a fabulous giveaway!  After reading my review of Reach for a Star, you can enter to win a paperback copy of Oh Crumbs by Kathryn Freeman and this is a book I absolutely loved so do make sure you enter!  Good Luck!

What if your dreams were so close you could reach out and touch them? 

How could anyone resist Michael Tennant, with his hypnotic blue eyes and voice like molten chocolate? Jessie Simmons certainly can’t. But Jessie’s a single mum who can’t sing to save her life – there’s no way she’ll ever cross paths with the star tenor. 

At least that’s what she thinks until she’s unexpectedly invited to take part in a new reality TV show. The premise? Professional singers teach hopeless amateurs how to sing. The surprise? Jessie’s partner is none other than Michael Tennant!

As she becomes better acquainted with the man behind the voice, will Jessie find out the hard way that you should never meet your idols? Or will she get more than she bargained for?

What did I think?

My reading tastes have changed over the years and I rarely read romantic fiction or chick-lit these days, however, I always make an exception for certain authors and Kathryn Freeman is one of them.  It's nice to have a change of pace from psychological thrillers and bloodthirsty crime and with her comforting, heartwarming romantic fiction Kathryn Freeman certainly fits the bill.

In Reach for a Star, pharmacist and divorcee, Jessie, is secretly entered into a TV singing competition by her two sons; not because she is a good singer, but because she can't sing at all.  The TV show teams members of the public with professional singers from various music genres in an attempt to teach them to sing.  With only one week to do it, it seems like an impossible task so it's not the best but the most improved singer who will win.  Jessie can't believe her luck when she is partnered with her idol, Michael Tennant, but their meeting doesn't go as perfectly as she imagined as Michael is at his most snappy with trying to squeeze this reality show in right before an upcoming world tour.

As you would expect after spending a lot of time with somebody over an intense week, Michael's shell begins to crack and he starts to fall for Jessie.  Michael has had his heart broken once before and he's worried that Jessie is more in love with Michael Tennant the tenor than Michael the man.  With so many insecurities, misunderstandings and prior commitments getting in the way, not to mention a PA who has her own sights set on Michael, the pair have to survive being apart during Michael's world tour.  If it's meant to be, they'll find a way.

Kathryn Freeman writes a prescription for pure unadulterated escapism in Reach for a Star.  Side effects are a warm heart, damp eyes, inability to prevent your mouth from smiling and an overall feeling of happiness.  Seriously, I wish you could bottle this stuff!  For any girl who has ever fallen in love with her idol (and let's face it, who hasn't?), Reach for a Star brings that dream to life; this sparkling, utterly fabulous book will not just warm your heart, it will warm your soul.  

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

About the author:

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

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

Social Media Links –


Giveaway to Win a PB copy of Oh Crumbs by Kathryn Freeman (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow the tour:

Monday, 21 October 2019

COVER REVEAL: When Stars Will Shine - compiled by Emma Mitchell

I have a very exciting cover reveal for you today and one that is very close to my heart.  With several family members currently and previously serving in the forces, I am a keen supporter of Help for Heroes, so it is my absolute pleasure to reveal the cover of When Stars Will Shine, an anthology of Christmas stories being published in December to raise funds for this amazing charity.

I was completely speechless when I saw the cover; I think it's absolutely perfect.  Scroll down to see it for yourself.

Here is the amazing cover, in Help for Heroes colours of course, along with the synopsis and pre-order link.  You don't want to miss this one so make sure you click now to ensure this arrives on your Kindle on 9th December 2019. 


When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!

A Note From Emma Mitchell:

As the blurb tells us, When Stars Will Shine is a multi-genre collection of Christmas themed short stories complied to raise money for our armed forces and every penny made from the sales of both the digital and paperback copies will be donated to the charity.

Working closely with Kate Noble at Noble Owl Proofreading and Amanda Ni Odhrain from Let’s Get Booked, I’ve been able to pick the best of the submissions to bring you a thrilling book which is perfect for dipping into at lunchtime or snuggling up with on a cold winter’s night. I have been completely blown away by the support we’ve received from the writing and blogging community, especially the authors who submitted stories and Shell Baker from Baker’s Not So Secret Blog, who has organised the cover reveal and blog tour.

When Stars Will Shine is available for pre-order now and will be published on 9 December 2019.

There isn’t anyone in the country who hasn’t benefited from the sacrifices our troops, past and present, have made for us and they all deserve our thanks.

It has been an honour to work on these stories and to create this anthology and I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as I have.

Pre-order links:

Sunday, 20 October 2019

BLOG TOUR: Effin' Birds: A Field Guide to Identification - Aaron Reynolds

Have you ever looked a bird dead in the eye and wondered what it was thinking?

With Effin Birds, the most eagerly anticipated new volume in the noble avocation of bird identification, you can venture into nature with confidence. This farcical field guide will help you identify over 200 birds, but more importantly, for the first time in history, it will also help you understand what these birds are thinking:

  • The vainglorious grebe is acutely aware of its own magnificence.
  • The hipster pelican thinks the world is a sh*tbarge.
  • The overbearing heron wishes you better luck next time, f*cknuts.
  • The counsellor swallow wants you to maybe try not being a d*ckhead.
Alongside beautiful, scientifically accurate illustrations and a whole lot of swearing is incisive commentary on modern life and the world we, as humans, must navigate. Or maybe it s just some pictures of effin birds, okay?

What did I think?

As soon as I saw the cover of Effin' Birds, I knew I had to read it and what a refreshing change of pace this was in my reading schedule. Described as 'pictures of birds with curse words', I sniggered and snorted my way through this book as it really appealed to my sense of humour.   I have to say, it really doesn't have a lot to do with birds so if you're an ornithologist, look away now.  

There are indeed lots of pictures of birds with curse words but there are also some funny descriptions of fictional bird breeds, describing their habitat and identifying characteristics.  I bet I wasn't the only reader trying to identify themselves or their colleagues in some of these hilarious sections.  If you're wondering, I'd be a Peevish Ringneck as I do like a good eye roll now and again.

Joking aside for just one moment, the illustrations are absolutely breathtaking and it makes the cursing even funnier as Aaron Reynolds imagines what the birds are thinking.  I mean have you ever wondered what a peacock was thinking as it strutted around shaking its feathers?  Well that mystery and more have now been solved.

Anyone who has a sense of humour will love this book; it's more of a snort your drink through your nose than a big belly laugh kind of book but it's highly entertaining.  If the first thing you did in French class was look up the rude words in the dictionary then you must buy this book.  I couldn't get enough of Effin' Birds and I'm delighted to see more illustrations on Twitter at @EffinBirds so make sure you follow Aaron Reynolds too!

Hilarious in its vulgarity, Effin' Birds reawakens your inner giggling schoolchild and puts a smile on your face.  It would make a fabulous gift for that impossible-to-buy-for person, as long as they have a good sense of humour.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Aaron Reynolds is the writer of @EffinBirds and @swear_trek, and the curator of @BatLabels

He is also a software instructor, which is where most of his elfin' inspiration comes from.

Follow the tour:

Friday, 18 October 2019

BLOG TOUR: Too Early for Death - Simon Farrant

Death can take you to the most unexpected places.

Damien Lennon finds himself on a mysterious island… and dead.
He has more questions than answers. Why? Where? How? What next?
In a place where forests hide secrets and a leader rules with an iron fist, can Damien change his destiny?

'Too Early for Death' starts a journey through the Limbo Island trilogy, a series that unravels a story of life after death, hierarchy, tragedy, jealousy and eternal love. A heartbreaking yet heartwarming adventure awaits.

What did I think?

I was drawn to this book by the intriguing synopsis of life after death and the absolutely stunning cover.  The waterfall is completely mesmerising and fits nicely with the story as water is a key feature on Limbo Island.

Too Early for Death is the story of Damien Lennon who goes missing on a visit to a museum with his wife, Nancy, and 12 year old son, Marcus.  Unable to resist the temptation of a forbidden door, he finds himself on a mysterious island and his family are left behind to file a missing person report.  Nancy can't understand why Damien would leave them and she is unable to fully grieve his loss without a body to bury.  Nancy is drawn to Damien's friend, Niall, who might physically slip into Damien's place in the house but doesn't replace Damien in Nancy's heart.

The story flips back and forth between Damien's new life (or should that be death?) on the island and Nancy's struggle to live without Damien.  Time certainly passed more slowly on Limbo Island as Damien finds his way around with the help of a German man named Hector.  Damien and Hector have a hint of rebellion about them as they explore places outside their village and come across portals showing what is happening in the world they left behind.

Being set on a strange island, Too Early for Death does have a hint of the TV show 'Lost' about it, but don't worry it's much better than Lost.  Both Damien's and Nancy's stories held my interest and I really felt for Nancy who was never able to get over the loss of Damien, who was clearly the love of her life.  I really felt that Niall took advantage of Nancy's distress to get his feet under Damien's table and it was almost like he didn't necessarily want Nancy in particular, he just wanted what Damien had.

An imaginative and thought-provoking story, Too Early for Death is not only a good story in its own right, it's an intriguing start to the Limbo Island trilogy.  It does feel very much that we've only just scratched the surface of Simon Farrant's Limbo island and I'm intrigued to see where his imagination will take us next.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:
I am an emerging author, a submission to a short story anthology kicked it all off. 

Black Cat is my first short story, and the hero isn’t maybe who you would assume. 

Originally from Doncaster, South Yorkshire and now Corby in Northants. I’m in my forties, married with three children. We share our home with a Bengal cat and a Pink Tongued Skink.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had an interesting (well to me!) life. I have been a truck driver, university graduate and motorbike salesman amongst other things. 

My two novellas, Newdon Killers series, The Crucifix and Famously Ordinary are out now!  The third book, Death Dolls is coming soon estimated launch date 22 August.  Later this year a new series in a different genre Mystery / contemporary fantasy will be published.

I have a Facebook page, Simon Farrant Official, I'd be pleased to see you there.

Twitter @asfarrant

I also have a newsletter. Sign up to receive the latest news first :) 

Follow the tour:

Saturday, 12 October 2019

BLOG TOUR: Nightmare Scenario - Hazel Clarke

Eighteen-year-old Gracie Thrace has a secret. 

Four months ago she started to hear voices that force her to carry out frightening scenarios. With her father abroad and her relationship with her high-powered mother strained, Gracie has no one to turn to for solace. 

When a new voice called Kai materialises, Gracie finds herself attached to his kindness. Kai offers the support Gracie craves, but how can she possibly let herself fall for someone who isn't real? 

Set in 2047 London, Nightmare Scenario is a complex and touching love story that explores the stigma around mental illness and offers a daunting prediction of the future where technology infiltrates every part of society.

What did I think?

Set in a future where I'll be 73 years old, if I'm still alive, Nightmare Scenario is something a little outside my comfort zone and I chose to read it to support Mental Health Awareness Week.  I have been flirting with the dystopian and fantasy genres recently and now having read Nightmare Scenario, I'm fully committed to exploring more from these genres as I absolutely loved it.  Yay!  More books to add to my TBR!

I loved the character of 18 year old Gracie Thrace, a young woman just starting university and living in a day and age where android housemaids are commonplace in many households.  Gracie doesn't have much of a family life; her father is very absent, as he fights terrorism abroad, and her mother is a prominent figure in the most successful company in the world, IrukaTech.  IrukaTech make and control the Hourglasses that are permanently installed on wrists of every citizen.  Hourglasses are multi-functional devices like a mobile phone; they are a flashlight, a phone and a tracking device.  Whereas we can choose who can track us on our mobile phones, the police and IrukaTech can track every single person in 2047 and that's not the only level of control they are applying.  

A mind altering drug called Hydrobliss is being tested and has secretly been given to four human test subjects.  The drug causes schizophrenia and voices in your head that create challenges called nightmare scenarios that must be completed every single night at sunset.  The Hydrobliss subjects are unaware that this is an IrukaTech experiment so you never know who might be watching and taking notes.

Gracie hears three voices in her head: Psyche, Eros and Terry (I'm not sure where Terry comes from but Psyche and Eros are from Greek mythology).  I love this homage to Greek mythology where Psyche had to complete challenges to win back her husband, Eros (aka Cupid in classical mythology).  The introduction of a fourth voice throws Gracie into turmoil as she falls in love with Kai, a voice who seems to be completely on her side unlike the mischievous and sadistic other three.  How can you have feelings for a voice in your head?  Hold that thought, as I have a feeling it will come back into play in the next instalment of the Scenario Series.

Wow!  Just WOW!  I abso-blooming-lutely loved this book!  Hazel Clarke takes the reader on quite a scary ride in her inventive, imaginative, thought provoking and scarily realistic debut.  A cross between The Hunger Games and 1984, Nightmare Scenario is set to be an absolute classic.  It is such a stunning, visionary book and I am totally gobsmacked that Hazel Clarke wrote this when she was 19 years old.  I'm a little torn between wanting to find out what happens next and leaving it at its pretty perfect ending, but who am I kidding?  I will definitely be first in the queue for Book 2.  A very highly recommended read, even if it's not a book you would usually pick up.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Follow the tour:

Thursday, 10 October 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Slaughter Man - Cassandra Parkin

When her identical twin Laurel dies, seventeen-year-old Willow’s life falls apart. With her parents’ marriage faltering, she finds escape at her uncle Joe’s cottage. But even as they begin to know each other, Willow is plagued with memories of her sister. Then, Lucas arrives in her life – troubled, angry and with a dangerous past. 

Joe’s cottage is idyllic, but the forest is filled with secrets. What is Joe hiding from her? What events have brought Lucas to her door? And who is the Slaughter Man who steals through Willow’s sleep? 

As the lines between dreams and reality become blurred, Willow’s torment deepens. It seems as if her only escape lies with the Slaughter Man. 

What did I think?

I don't even read the synopsis before selecting a Cassandra Parkin book as I know I'm in for a unique and evocative read.  With her emotive writing, Cassandra Parkin is able to make the most mundane things into something dark and menacing to highlight the feelings of her characters.  Just the name of this book itself, The Slaughter Man, gave me the creeps and I only meant to have a quick peek at the book but before I knew it, I was half way through!

I absolutely adore the cover of this book; it has a fairytale feel about it reminds me of the witch's cottage deep in the wood.  Most of us wouldn't venture somewhere so creepy but after her twin dies, Willow has nothing to be scared of as the worst thing has already happened to her.  Usually I would say that I couldn't begin to imagine Willow's pain at losing her twin but I could actually feel it when reading; Willow's pain was so palpable that it felt as if smoky tendrils of emotion-filled words were seeping out of the page and wrapping themselves around my heart.

Willow's pain is made worse by her inability to speak after her twin died; it's as if her words died with Laurel.  Willow's inability to voice her pain meant that it presented itself in other forms, some more dangerous than others as she struggled to release her feelings.  Where she once looked in a mirror and saw herself, now Willow only sees Laurel looking back at her and she experiences her loss over and over again until she can no longer bear to look at her own reflection.

It was really interesting to read how people experience grief differently.  I can understand her parents needing alone time, and their loss must have hit them every time they looked at Willow, but it felt as if they were hiding their own mirrors by sending Willow off to stay with her Uncle Joe, who she barely knew.  I judged a little too quickly I think, as staying with Joe and making a friend on the neighbouring farm helped Willow to heal in a way that she would never have managed at home surrounded by memories of Laurel.  I loved the character of Willow and felt totally invested in her progress as she navigates her way through the dark land of grief and despair.  As her subconscious mind takes her on a journey in search of Laurel, she is drawn to the mysterious 'Slaughter Man' and I felt like she was on a race against time to find herself before she flirted too much with danger.

The Slaughter Man is simply stunning.  It's a haunting, emotion-filled book that hooked me from the start; remember that quick peek I mentioned earlier that turned into half a book!  So beautifully written, it's an emotive story of a family in pain after a devastating loss and their journey to find each other again.  Highly recommended.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

About the author:

Cassandra Parkin grew up in Hull, and now lives in East Yorkshire. Her short story collection, New World Fairy Tales (Salt Publishing, 2011), won the 2011 Scott Prize for Short Stories. 


Twitter: @cassandrajaneuk

Follow the tour:

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Family - Louise Jensen

Laura is grieving after the sudden death of her husband. Struggling to cope emotionally and financially, Laura is grateful when a local community, Oak Leaf Organics, offer her and her 17-year-old daughter Tilly a home.

But as Laura and Tilly settle into life with their new ‘family’, sinister things begin to happen. When one of the community dies in suspicious circumstances Laura wants to leave but Tilly, enthralled by the charismatic leader, Alex, refuses to go.

Desperately searching for a way to save her daughter, Laura uncovers a horrifying secret but Alex and his family aren’t the only ones with something to hide. Just as Laura has been digging into their past, they’ve been digging into hers and she discovers the terrifying reason they invited her and Tilly in, and why they’ll never let them leave…

What did I think?

I always get excited when I see a new Louise Jensen book coming out; her books are absolutely brilliant and if you haven't read one yet, what are you waiting for?  Pick one, pick them all, you won't be disappointed.  I must warn you though, once you pick up The Family, you simply can't do anything until you finish the book.  Thank goodness for cold and wet October weekends; not that I need an excuse to stay inside to read, of course.  The Family is definitely a one-sitting kind of book, with an intriguing prologue and little cliffhangers at the end of each chapter making you read just one more after just one more.

The Family, as you would expect, is about family: Laura's flesh family (doesn't that sound creepy?) and her chosen family (which really is creepy).  Laura and her daughter, Tilly, find themselves in unimaginable circumstances when Laura's husband, Gavan, dies.  With so much turmoil surrounding Gavan's death, Laura finds herself ostracized from Gavan's family and struggling to pay the rent.  With nowhere left to turn, she is invited to join the community at Gorphwysfa (Welsh for 'resting place') and is unable to resist joining the family led by the alluring and enigmatic Alex.

The story is told from three viewpoints, that of Laura, Tilly and Alex.  The characters have been developed so wonderfully that each voice had its own individuality but what they each have in common is a heartbreaking story at their core.  Laura has never had much luck with her 'flesh' family, Tilly is suffering at school thanks to a group of mean girls and Alex just wants to look after his family...or does he?  

I think Louise Jensen is a bit of a magician; with slight of hand, she has you looking in completely the wrong direction as she plucks the ace out of her sleeve for the big reveal.  I knew there would be at least one secret struggling to remain hidden but Louise Jensen goes one better with some absolutely huge, jaw-dropping surprises in store for the reader.  Just when I thought that I'd heard it all and I could breathe again, Louise Jensen completely took the wind out of my sails and I was actually left breathless.  This is absolutely brilliant writing; Louise Jensen, I salute you!  

The Family is jaw-droppingly brilliant; it's a highly addictive read that completely took my breath away.  Clear your schedule as once you pick it up, you won't be able to put it down.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Follow the tour: