Monday, January 20, 2020

The Black Ditch by Simon J Lancaster Guest Post

The Black Ditch
by Simon J Lancaster
Guest Post

Hi everyone and thank you so much for stopping in. Today we have a guest post from Simon J Lancaster, author of The Black Ditch. I hope you enjoy it and don't forget to check him out on facebook.


LAURIE STERNE feels like he’s been cut adrift in space. His father has been shot dead, caught in the crossfire of a gangland war that has also claimed his boss’s life. Laurie is a refugee who lost his adoptive mum years before and doesn’t know where he was born, let alone who his birth parents were. But he’s not alone in the world: someone is trying to kill him.

This is London, 2050, a dumping ground for climate refugees and dissidents. Gangs rule, murder goes unpunished and the police make sure you can’t escape.

In his struggle to stay alive, he finds an ally: his former boss’s secret daughter.
But with the killer predicting his every move, is the man without a past being betrayed by the woman who seems to offer him a future?

Purchase Links:

Guest Post:


I DON’T know about you, but I like unexpected cheques in the post. Big ones. I like sunny days, smiles, laughter, and happiness for all. So why do I enjoy dystopian fiction? What is it about the dark that attracts this lover of the light? No question, it’s a puzzle.

The power of a good dystopia was born in on me when I was a teenager working in a small electronics factory. Radio One played on the shop floor constantly. One day I begged for the dial to be turned to Radio Four, which was serialising John Wyndham’s novel The Chrysalids, about a bunch of special kids battling for a better future in a post-apocalyptic world. My co-workers were resistant, but I persuaded them to do it just once. They were hooked. They tuned in every afternoon, careful not to miss an episode, and while it was on, you could hear a pin drop.

I was surprised by their reaction and it demanded an explanation.

In the hands of a storyteller of Wyndham’s skill, a tale of underdogs fighting oppression was always going to be alluring. But with that theme by no means confined to dystopian fiction, I suspected other things were at play.

One was that to journey every afternoon from a factory floor to a strange, future world was a release from the mundane. Like travelling to a foreign country.

Another was the more subtle truth that Wyndham, writing in the 1950s, was using future fiction to comment on his own times: on the threat of nuclear war, most obviously, but also on the perniciousness of stifling conformity.

When I was working on The Black Ditch, I was thinking more of action thrillers than Wyndham; all the same, The Chrysalids must have been in the back of my mind. My story is set in the London of 2050, a prison city, and my protagonist, Laurie Sterne, is very much the underdog. He has to battle authority to survive and track down his dad’s killer. His world is strange and perilous. Sea level rises are drowning the city to the point that London Bridge is washed away. But the main peril comes from people who will do any evil deed to survive.

Like David, the protagonist of The Chrysalids, Laurie has gifts. He can see elements of the future. He can see into the hearts of people.

And as much as Wyndham’s novel spoke of the discontents of the 1950s, so The Black Ditch relates to today.

The unwanted of its world are imprisoned, out of sight of the rest of the population who live free but in fear of them. Poverty-stricken Londoners fantasise of escaping to a better life but know they never will.

The middle name of Anna Lewis, the woman who has such an impact on Laurie, is Bluebird. Because bluebirds fly over the rainbow. Bluebird is an embarrassment of a name to Anna, but it speaks volumes about her parents’ yearning.

In a way, novelists can’t help but reflect their contemporary world; it’s all they know. They may create historical fiction or future fiction, but it’s always with reference to now.

In 2019, two best-selling writers, Robert Harris and John Lanchester, both published brilliant, dystopian future novels that serve as warnings about the present.

In Harris’s The Second Sleep, the apocalypse happened long ago, but the people are banned from knowing its cause; the theocratic government has outlawed historical and scientific truth.

In Lanchester’s The Wall, the apocalypse is recent and caused by climate change. The government has built a wall round the coast of the UK to prevent migrants getting in, and young people must work out a miserable military service guarding it.

Echoes of our own times sound loud and clear in the narratives of both stories.

They, as all the best future fictions, provide wild and exotic time machine rides back to the present. Like travelling into space to witness how precious our Earth is, these journeys show the traveller what our current world looks like from the perspective of another, imagined age.

But, of course, the time machines guarantee to return us to our own times, thrilled and entertained in a thought-provoking way.

Enjoy the ride!

Author Bio

Simon J Lancaster is the author of The Black Ditch, the first in the Laurie Sterne trilogy of dystopian future thrillers. Prior to writing novels he was a national newspaper journalist in London, as well as a music critic and private pilot. He has written short stories and plays and, after reading extensively about climate change, concluded that the fantasy gun-play of contemporary-set action novels would be the lived experience of our coming world.

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Friday, January 17, 2020

Tomorrow's Ancestors Books 1 & 2 Reviews

Tomorrow's Ancestors
Books 1 & 2
by AE Warren


I was given a free copy of these books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in these reviews are my own.

The Museum Of Second Chances


What happens when the future recaptures the past?

In a post-apocalyptic world the human race has evolved beyond us through genetic engineering – and we’ve been left behind to make amends for the damage inflicted on the earth.

The reversal of the extinction of long lost animals is key to our reparations and all of these are housed in the Museum of Evolution – along with another species of human that hasn’t existed for 30,000 years.

Elise belongs to the lowest order of humans, the Sapiens. She lives in an ostracised community of ecological houses, built to blend with an idyllic landscape. Deciding to widen her stagnating life in the manufacturing base, she takes a chance opportunity to become a Companion to a previously extinct species of human.

But Elise has secrets of her own that threaten to be exposed now that she is away from the safety of her home. And while living in the museum, Elise realises that little separates her from the other exhibits…


Elise is the lowest form of human, the Sapiens. So when she gets a job working at the Museum of Evolution she is thankful for the chance to bring in extra income for her family. While at the museum she meets a Neanderthal named Twenty-One who lives in the confines of a pod at the museum. He's on display just like all the prehistoric species brought back to life. The more Elise gets to know Twenty-One the more she wants to help him, but helping him could mean exposing her secret that could change her life forever.

This was quite an interesting piece of work. It didn't take long before I was caught up in this post-apocalyptic world. The story is well paced and consistent throughout the book making it easy to stay engaged. The world in which the story is told is well thought out and developed. The details given create a clear picture of this world without going overboard with an information dump.

The characters are well developed individuals and so easy to like. Elise is a great main character. She is well written, likable, smart and just overall well done. It was so easy to feel for these characters throughout certain situations in the book. I'm looking forward to continuing on their journey with them in Book 2 The Base of Reflections.

Purchase Link:

The Base Of Reflections



What happens when the future abandons the past?

Elise and her companions have made it to the safety of Uracil but at a price. Desperate to secure her family’s passage, she makes a deal with Uracil's Tri-Council. She’ll become their spy, jeopardising her own freedom in the process, in exchange for her family’s safe transfer. But first she has to help rescue the next Neanderthal, Twenty-Two.

Twenty-Two has never left the confines of the steel walls that keep her separated from the other exhibits. She has no contact with the outside world and no way of knowing why she has been abandoned. With diminishing deliveries of food and water, she has to start breaking the museum’s rules if she wants a second chance at living.

One belongs to the future and the other to the past, but both have to adapt—or neither will survive…


I really enjoyed this book, however I'm going to keep this review brief as it's the second novel in the Tomorrow's Ancestors series and I don't want to give too much away from either book.

In The Base Of Reflections we join Elise and her companions where The Museum Of Second Chances left off. The friends finally make it to Uracil safely and things are looking better. Elise makes a deal with the council to become their spy if they agree to house her family after they rescue them. Before rescuing her parents, Elise must travel to The Museum Of Evolution in .... where she must rescue Twenty-Two, the next Neanderthal.

What Elise and her companions don't know is that Twenty-Two has been wanting to escape and taking steps each night to make that possible.

The Base Of Reflections is very easy to get into, in fact, I found that by reading one book right after the over it felt more like reading a larger novel than two separate books. The story flows perfectly from one installment to the next.

The pace is great, it suits the storyline perfectly. I was completely engaged in this story from beginning to end.

Overall this was a win for me, however I strongly recommend reading the first book before this one so you can get the backstories of the characters and understand them better. I look forward to reading the third book when it comes out.

Purchase Link:

Author Bio

AE Warren lives in the UK. A not-so-covert nerd with mildly obsessive tendencies, she has happily wiled away an inordinate amount of time reading and watching sci-fi/ fantasy and gaming. She is interested in the ‘what ifs’.

The Museum of Second Chances is her first novel and she is currently writing the third book in the 'Tomorrow's Ancestors' series.

Social Media Links:

Instagram: @amauthoring
Facebook: @amauthoring
Twitter: @amauthoring

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Million Eyes by C.R. Berry Spotlight

Million Eyes
by C.R. Berry


How do you fight an enemy who has a million eyes?

What if we’re living in an alternate timeline? What if the car crash that killed Princess Diana, the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, and the shooting of King William II weren’t supposed to happen?

Ex-history teacher Gregory Ferro finds evidence that a cabal of time travellers is responsible for several key events in our history. These events all seem to hinge on a dry textbook published in 1995, referenced in a history book written in 1977 and mentioned in a letter to Edward III in 1348.

Ferro teams up with down-on-her-luck graduate Jennifer Larson to get to the truth and discover the relevance of a book that seems to defy the arrow of time. But the time travellers are watching closely. Soon the duo are targeted by assassins willing to rewrite history to bury them.

Million Eyes is a fast-paced conspiracy thriller about power, corruption and destiny.

Purchase Links:


Author Bio

C.R. Berry caught the writing bug at the tender age of four and has never recovered. His earliest stories were filled with witches, monsters, evil headteachers, Disney characters and the occasional Dalek. He realised pretty quickly that his favourite characters were usually the villains. He wonders if that’s what led him to become a criminal lawyer. It’s certainly why he’s taken to writing conspiracy thrillers, where the baddies are numerous and everywhere.

After a few years getting a more rounded view of human nature’s darker side, he quit lawyering and turned to writing full-time. He now works as a freelance copywriter and novelist and blogs about conspiracy theories, time travel and otherworldly weirdness.

He was shortlisted in the 2018 Grindstone Literary International Novel Competition and has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Storgy, Dark Tales, Theme of Absence and Suspense Magazine. He was also shortlisted in the Aeon Award Contest, highly commended by Writers’ Forum, and won second prize in the inaugural To Hull and Back Humorous Short Story Competition.

He grew up in Farnborough, Hampshire, a town he says has as much character as a broccoli. He’s since moved to the “much more interesting and charming” Haslemere in Surrey.

Social Media Links:




Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Nineteen by Makenzie Campbell Review

by Makenzie Campbell



I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.


By the author of the wildly successful 2am Thoughts, comes Nineteen — titled after the poet's age when she wrote this new book. Nineteen is a collection of poetry that broaches heartbreak, love, loss, war,
peace, and healing.

For every place we go, there is a feeling or memory that’s been painted on the walls. You can paint over it, but it will always be there. Even if you can’t
see it, you know.

You can feel the heartbreak inside the bedroom where you lost a love.

You can feel the hope at the coffee shop where a beginning happened.

You can feel the healing as you sit in the driver’s seat, in charge of your own life.


Nineteen is a beautiful collection of poetry and prose that takes us through various stages of life and love. Once I started reading I couldn't help but completely devour every word and finished the entire thing in under an hour. The writing is absolutely beautiful and so easy to get lost in.

This collection is divided into 6 headings. Under each heading the verses all flow together wonderfully to create a pace that is delightfully satisfying and incredibly smooth.

I absolutely love this collection; I would even say it's my favorite poetry collection that I've ever read. After finishing this collection I had to read more from this author so I got their other poetry collection 2am Thoughts. I'm excited to read more from this author.

"I’ve written about you and written about you and written about you with hundreds of words, gallons of ink, and thousands of sleepless nights."

Release Date: March 3, 2020

Purchase Links:

US -
UK -

Monday, January 13, 2020

Revenge by George Lockie SPOTLIGHT

by George Lockie

Join us for this tour from January 6, 2020 to January 17, 2020!

Book Details:

Book Title: Revenge by George Lockie

Category: Adult Fiction, 178 pages

Genre: Thriller

Publisher: Austin Macauley

Release date: December 2018

Tour dates: January 6, 2019 to January 17, 2020

Formats Available for Review: Print (limited); mobi, epub, pdf

Content Rating: PG-13 - M: This is an action thriller involving special forces military. There are scenes of violence, including torture.


Rory Glassen is selected to join an elite SAS cell. They are sent to Libya to seek retribution for the near-death torture of two of their SAS troopers, at the hands of a medieval-run empire led by a despotic Sultan. What was to be a milk-run operation turns sour, as a battle of wits to survive soon develops between two warring factions. Sultan and Rory lock horns, trying to outwit each other and prevent any more deaths. It is only when a most unexpected ally emerges from Rory's distant past, and offers the cell information, that a solution appears. Like worms, they burrow into the catacombs of the old Roman Fort on which the Sultan's Palace is built and seek their revenge.

Purchase Links:
Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble
Add to Goodreads

Author Bio:

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1941. Married in 1964 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Wife's name is Avril. Has two children, Darren (52) and Vanessa (47). Enjoyed six years' service in the Parachute Regiment in the British Army from 1960 to 65, mainly in the Middle East and Europe. Migrated as a family to Australia, in 1965, seeking new challenges and a different lifestyle in a more exciting environment. Traveled extensively worldwide whilst employed by a major Australian International Packaging Group, as National Operations Manager, a senior management role from 1986 to 2003. Started writing in 1995, as he felt that the Army relationships and strong emotional bonds that are created in life-threatening experiences in the field, had not been exposed, or described adequately, in the novels he had read. His first novel tried to cover that. It takes place post-WWI through to post-WWII. The second novel, a follow-up military story, again covers a subject not exposed as a problem before. His third novel covers a criminal gang and its unique way to produce huge profits from the saddest moments in human life; yet a boon to the medical world. The fourth exposes the world of computer hacking, with a clever killer achieving his aim of executing a crime boss in revenge for his wife's death at his hands. 1st: Eye of the Hunter (Thriller, suspense.) 2nd: Chameleon (Suspense, thriller, crime.) 3rd: Miracle Cure (Military, Crime, Police.) 4th: Furtive Shadows (Military, SAS, MI6) All novels are linked by a common major character, Rory Glassen - a ruthless, dedicated soldier with extraordinary senses and physical attributes gleaned from his childhood upbringing alone in the Scottish Glens.

Connect with the author: website

Tour Schedule:

Jan 6 - Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Jan 6 – Ruvi – book review / giveaway
Jan 7 –Rockin' Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Jan 8 – My Reading Journeys – book review / giveaway
Jan 9 – The Clipped Nightingale – book spotlight / guest post
Jan 10 –Leels Loves Books – book review
Jan 13 – Four Moon Reviews – book spotlight
Jan 14 – I'm All About Books – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Jan 15 – StoreyBook Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Jan 15 - Turning the Pages - book review
Jan 16 – A Fountain of Books – book review / author interview
Jan 17 - Adventurous Jessy – book review / giveaway
Jan 17 – fundinmental – book review / author interview / giveaway

Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison Review

Good Girls Lie
by J.T. Ellison



I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Goode girls don’t lie…

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.


Ash Carlise is the new girl at the prestigious Goode School. Still grieving from the devastating loss of her parents, Ash tries to focus on staying under the radar and not attracting any unnecessary attention to herself. In a school like Goode it's hard to remain a ghost for long; your grades are expected to be high, appearance is everything and there are the secret societies everyone wants to be a part of. When a death in the school causes chaos throughout the school staying under the radar becomes harder than Ash ever imagined. Now with the past coming back to haunt her and secrets threatening to bubble over Ash has to figure out how to protect herself before it's too late.  

Goode Prep School has a ton of secrets ranging from secret societies to murder, so when Ash Carlise goes to Goode she hopes her secrets can remain as quiet as theirs. Good Girls Lie takes us on a dark twisted journey where you don't know who to trust and who to watch.

I found myself trying to figure out the twist throughout the whole story. I knew something was up but couldn't quite figure out what. Just when I thought I had everything figured out Ellison twisted everything and it just became so much more complex. I hated to put this one down as it quickly drew me in and kept me on the edge until I could finish it. While there wasn't really a lot of character development, this book was really plot driven so the story wasn't effected by it. I really enjoyed this book overall. It was well written and fast paced. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Purchase Links:

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Beyond The Moon by Catherine Taylor Review

Beyond The Moon
by Catherine Taylor


I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.


“Outlander meets Birdsong is this haunting debut timeslip novel, where a strange twist of fate connects a British soldier fighting in the First World War and a young woman living in modern-day England a century later. Shortlisted for the Eharmony/Orion Write Your Own Love Story Prize 2019”

In 1916 1st Lieutenant Robert Lovett is a patient at Coldbrook Hall military hospital in Sussex, England. A gifted artist, he’s been wounded fighting in the Great War. Shell shocked and suffering from hysterical blindness he can no longer see his own face, let alone paint, and life seems increasingly hopeless.

A century later in 2017, medical student Louisa Casson has just lost her beloved grandmother – her only family. Heartbroken, she drowns her sorrows in alcohol on the South Downs cliffs – only to fall accidentally part-way down. Doctors fear she may have attempted suicide, and Louisa finds herself involuntarily admitted to Coldbrook Hall – now a psychiatric hospital, an unfriendly and chaotic place.

Then one day, while secretly exploring the old Victorian hospital’s ruined, abandoned wing, Louisa hears a voice calling for help, and stumbles across a dark, old-fashioned hospital room. Inside, lying on the floor, is a mysterious, sightless young man, who tells her he was hurt at the Battle of the Somme, a WW1 battle a century ago. And that his name is Lieutenant Robert Lovett…

Two people, two battles: one against the invading Germans on the battlefields of 1916 France, the other against a substandard, uncaring mental health facility in modern-day England. Two journeys begun a century apart, but somehow destined to coincide - and become one desperate struggle to be together.

Part WW1 historical fiction, part timeslip love story - and at the same time a meditation on the themes of war, mental illness, identity and art - Beyond The Moon sweeps the reader on an unforgettable journey through time.


I loved this book! Beyond The Moon is a wonderful romantic historical fiction. After being forcibly admitted to Coldbrook Mental Hospital, Louisa is desperate for a way out. While exploring an old abandoned wing Louisa meets the handsome Lieutenant Robert Lovett. Then Louisa discovers something strange. Instead of being in 2017, she has been somehow transported back to 1916 and Robert is the only one who can see her. The two quickly fall in love but how can they possibly make things work?

Our story begins with Lieutenant Robert Lovett waking up in the hospital to find his sight is gone due to shell shock. He ends up falling and is calling out for help when Louisa hears him and comes to his aid. Just like that their two worlds collide and I am hooked. Taylor does an amazing job of bringing the future to the past and sprinkling it with supernatural elements to create a perfectly balanced masterpiece.

The characters are enjoyable and very easy to fall in love with. The writing is absolutely beautiful. Reading Beyond The Moon is like experiencing an old time love story. There's something so magical about leaving this modern day and going back to a different time where yes, things are definitely harder, but it's still an escape to a romantic dream come true. I thought this was amazing and beautiful and I just loved it.

Before this book, I never understood when people would say "I want to finish it to see what happens, but I don't want to finish it because then it'll be over." I get it now, and I am so in love with this book. I think it would be a great choice for those who enjoy truly impossible love stories.

Purchase Links:

US -
UK -

Author Bio 

Catherine Taylor was born and grew up on the island of Guernsey in the British Channel Islands. She is a former journalist, most recently for Dow Jones News and The Wall Street Journal in London. Beyond The Moon is her first novel. She lives in Ealing, London with her husband and two children.

Social Media Links:

Giveaway to Win 5 x PB Copies of Beyond The Moon (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.

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She Ran Away From Love by Mawson Bear

She Ran Away From Love
by Mawson Bear

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.


The Light of Love pours down on Frilly. It shines so brightly that she quails and runs away.

Upset with herself for feeling scared, she wakes her good friend Mawson and pours out her confusions. She wants to learn how to be bold and is convinced that she can do this by going on a quest.

With muddled help from Mawson she sets off into the great Out There. But is a quest to find oneself really the answer?


When Frilly feels the light of love she gets scared and runs away. Frilly wants love, so she is upset with herself for running away from it. In an effort to find love again, Frilly sets out on an adventure to learn how to be bold so she can accept love next time it shines on her. Thankfully, Mawson is there to help her, even if it's just a little. Through her adventure Frilly must learn if she really can become bold enough to allow the love of light to fill her next time it approaches. 

When I first heard of a grown-up picture book I was quite intrigued. The curious picture-loving me had to find out exactly what this was as I've always been a lover of books with pictures. Turns out it was an adorable tale of a sweet little teddy bear going through very grown-up issues, like running away from love only to wish we hadn't. She Ran Away From Love takes an age old grown-up issue and transfers it to the page in a child-like picture book. Everything about the book screams for children. It's small size, pictures of sweet little teddy bears, and colorful childish font all create the childish feel. However, it has one very grown-up aspect. While the issue is told in child friendly dialogue, it's a grown-up issue. It's like someone has taken a girl's broken heart and transferred it into an innocent thing. 

I thought the concept of She Ran Away From Love was cool, but I didn't find I was able to connect with it. For me it was just a bit to child-like, which I guess was kind of the point. However, I'm glad I got to experience this story as it was different from anything else I've ever read and I'm thankful for the experience. While this wasn't my thing, I think some others would enjoy it. I would recommend it to people who enjoy cutesy stories that are just sweet, innocent and easy to read.

Purchase Links:


Book Depository:

Author Bio

Mawson, a big hearted, soul searching teddy bear, is here to help. He is one of this bright world's few Writer-Bears. He speaks about Being One's Best in an world that is often baffling – and not only for bears. He is often muddled about things (well, he is a bear). But he is always confident that things are going to turn out All Right.

Social Media Links:

Mawson’s Own Web Den:

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Violinist's Apprentice by Isabella Mancini Extract

The Violinist's Apprentice
by Isabella Mancini

Hello everyone and welcome back!
Today we have an extract of The Violinist's Apprentice by Isabella Mancini with an intro from the author. I hope you enjoy!


A dark journey through time.

It’s on a group trip to Rome that something terrifying and mysterious happens, whirling musical Clementina back in time to 17th century Italy. Amidst court intrigue and creaking carriages, Rome becomes a chiaroscuro backdrop to her growing feelings for young violin-maker Antonio Stradivari. But soon he discovers that Clementina is not all she appears. She must surely be a witch. How can she return to the 21st century again? Meanwhile, in an icy corner of the Arctic, a professor plots.


Hello lovely readers. Below is an extract from my brand new novel, which I hope you enjoy. For a long time I had wanted to write a series with enough oomph to not only capture the imagination of people everywhere, but at the same time give a boost to personal aspirations, cover engrossing stories set in different global locations and feature world issues such as global warming. I do hope that, after reading this novel, you will clamour for more.

In a different guise, I have written 7 other books, published by Crooked Cat Books, each featuring characters from my home city of Birmingham. In real life, I worked for 30 years in a leading, redbrick university and I have a BA Hons (Open) in the Humanities, majoring in English Language and Literature.

Extract from The Violinist’s Apprentice by Isabella Mancini

‘Halt!’ boomed a chorus of voices, as several stewards had now joined the group running after her.

Panic seized her.

The game was surely up, unless she could run and still outwit them. There was nothing now to lose and everything to gain if she could just make the Colosseum and the safety of the many hiding places behind the numerous archways and tunnels she remembered there.

Soon a light rain started to fall, cooling her fevered brow.

Where the hell is the Colosseum? Surely I should have been in sight of it by now.

Her breath was becoming increasingly laboured, her feet sore and blistered from the gritty shingle and hard stones underneath. If only she could pause and think for a moment. But no. Every corner she zoomed around, there again was the noise of those inescapable boots ringing noisily behind her.

Tina swiftly worked out the options. The stewards, followed by the rest of the now-thinning crowd, were about one-hundred metres behind her and, if she could maintain the same distance between them, she might still be all right. At least she was younger than all of them and considerably thinner, if her last glimpse of the overweight stewards was anything to go by. With her lighter weight she should, surely, still be able to run as fast. Her long legs were pumping now at full tilt as she at last espied the stately Colosseum in the distance, but sudden weariness in her muscles told the tale of several hours since she had eaten. She felt suddenly dizzy and faint from hunger.

Overhead more blessed rain fell to cool her fevered brow as Tina ploughed on, the noise of her pursuers drumming loudly in her ears. Her breath was now coming forcefully and was increasingly laboured. She hoped her strength wouldn’t fail her in her hour of need. The shouts seemed to be getting louder, as now Colosseum steward reinforcements joined them, their shouts becoming ever nearer as she darted first in one alleyway, then another, searching, for an escape.

At last, the glorious, historic Colosseum loomed into view. Tina could see tropical plants growing right out of the inner walls. But her goal was to search for the arches – particularly the one she had run through all that time ago.

As Tina entered the structured edifice, she glanced up. Each of the arches in the second and third-floor arcades had classical statues in them, their eyes frowning down at her in stern disapproval. She shivered in fright but didn’t have time to give in to fear. She knew she was in mortal danger. She remembered, yet again, how Antonio had told her that in Rome people found guilty were murdered by the state.

Oh God!

Quickly Tina ducked behind an archway and waited with her sweaty back pressed hard up against the flaking, grey stonework. She was gasping for breath, but desperate she shouldn’t get caught. God, the thought of it brought sweat into her eyes. As her eyes darted this way and that, she couldn’t help but wonder at how different the Colosseum looked. Her thoughts flew to when she and Beth had stood in that hot, sweaty queue in her own time. Everything then seemed to be in a ruined state, damaged beyond repair by centuries of earthquakes and thieves who had stolen valuable stones to build their own houses.

In her frantic quest, Tina now snaked in and out of the old seating areas, which had been arranged according to ancient levels of Roman society. There even seemed to be special boxes at the north and south ends, which must have been for the highest ranks because, as she looked down, she had the very best view of the arena. Stopping for a moment to catch her breath, she traced her finger over the name of some early person who had carved his name into the stonework, just like some of her school friends had done in their wooden school desks back home.

Back home!

Oh, how she wished she could get back. But how?

Author Bio

Isabella Mancini is the nom de plume of prolific author Olga Swan, published by Crooked Cat Books. She has a BA Hons (Open) in English Language and Literature and a lifelong love for writing and language. For 12 years she lived in SW France, but returned to the UK in 2017, where she now lives in the West Midlands with her husband and elderly French rescue dog Bruno.

Previous books by Olga Swan:

An Englishwoman in America
From Paradis to Perdition
Pensioners in Paradis
The Mazurek Express
3rd Degree Murder

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @IsabellaManci10.
Facebook Group: Books, Music and the Past
Amazon page for Isabella Mancini:
Amazon page for Olga Swan:


Giveaway to Win a signed paperback of An Englishwoman in America (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. 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Furious Thing by Jenny Downham Review

Furious Thing
by Jenny Downham


I received a free copy of this book via The Fantastic Flying Book Club in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Bad things happen when you're around, Lex...

That's what her stepfather tells her. That's what she believes about herself.

But how can she convince herself and everyone around her that her anger doesn't make her a monster? If only she could stop losing her temper and behave herself, her stepfather would accept her, her mom would love her like she used to, and her stepbrother would declare his crushing desire to spend the rest of his life with her. She wants these things so badly, she's determined to swallow her anger and make her family proud.

But pushing fury down doesn't make it disappear. Instead, it simmers below the surface, waiting to erupt. There'll be fireworks when it does...

An intensely real story of manipulation and identity, Furious Thing is about the slippery slope of manipulation and how one girl can fight to claim back the spaces that belong to her.


In Furious Thing we follow Lex, an angry teenage girl. Lex isn't just angry, she's furious. She throws things, has rage outbursts and can be difficult to even be around. Originally we are led to believe Lex is horrible, Lex is bad, Lex is the problem but things aren't always what they seem. When we get to inside Lex's life we discover a lot more is going on than what is shown to the world. Her soon-to-be step-father is a horribly abusive man, her moms main concern is making sure she gets to marry her guy and there's also a creepy attraction thing to her step-brother that he sometimes encourages. With these family dynamics it's hard to wonder if anyone could grow up normal around them. 

This book gave me so many raw feelings. It was a book I loved and hated simultaneously. I hated how angry it was able to make me. I loved how raw it was. What happened in this book can and does happen in real life all the time. This books forces it's reader to just watch and read as a young lady is slipping through the cracks, hidden by her horrible soon-to-be step-father's handsome shadow. We watch Lex deal with mental abuse and no one stepping in to help her, even when she asks for help. 

I really disliked almost every character in this book. The only truly likable character in this book was the little sister. Lex wasn't really likable but it was still easy to feel sorry for her in regards to what she was being faced with everyday. Her mother and soon-to-be step-father were just crappy people. I love when an author can make me feel strong emotions towards a character even if they are anger or hatred, to me it just shows good writing skills that they can create a dimensional being with a personality. Downham did an amazing job at fleshing these characters out to be more than just words on paper. Her ability to bring fictional characters to a point where they can viewed as people is fabulous. 

My only real dislike about this book was the ending. I found things to be wrapped up in a neat little bow and I hate that. While certain consequences were dished out to certain character(s), I feel like it wasn't severe enough. There was just too much of a happy ending here and it took away from the story for me.

Overall, this is a great read. It's definitely not an easy one to get through and if you choose to read it I think you should keep that in mind. I felt it was definitely a worthwhile read and I'm glad to of read it. 

Jenny Downham

Jenny Downham is a critically acclaimed, international bestseller. Her debut novel, Before I Die, was shortlisted for numerous awards in the UK, including the Guardian Award and the Lancashire Children's Book of the Year, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and won the Branford Boase Award. Before I Die was turned into a movie called Now is Good starring Dakota Fanning in 2012. Her most recent novel, Unbecoming, garnered four starred reviews and was an Entertainment Weekly Must List pick. Jenny lives in London with her two sons.


Tour Schedule

January 6th

January 7th
Clarissa Reads It All- Review & Favorite Quotes
Fictitiouswonderland- Bookstagram
L.M.Durand- Interview

January 8th
One in a Million- Creative Post (5 reasons to read this book)

January 9th
Ya it’s Lit- Review & Bookstagram

January 10th
Yna the Mood Reader- Review & Favorite Quotes

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Outsmart Your Anxious Brain by David A. Carbonell Review

Outsmart Your Anxious Brain
by David A. Carbonell


Publication Date: March 26, 2020

I was given a free copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.


It’s time to outsmart your worry and anxiety. Drawing on the same cutting-edge psychology presented in author David Carbonell’s The Worry Trick, this irreverent, on-the-go guide offers ten powerful "counter-intuitive" strategies to help you put worry in its place—anytime, anywhere.

Anxiety is a powerful force. It makes us question our decisions and ourselves, worry about the future, and it fills our days with dread and emotional turbulence. But what if we understood that anxiety is merely a trick of the mind, trying to convince us we’re in danger? Anxiety is like a magician behind the curtain, playing subtle tricks on us to convince us that we're in danger when we’re not. When we understand this, we can observe our anxious feelings with some distance.

Based on the author’s popular book, The Worry Trick, this helpful and humorous guide identifies the “trick” of chronic anxiety, and provides the ten most powerful techniques based in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you respond differently to panic, anxiety, worry, and phobias. Once you learn to respond differently to the worry trick, you’ll be able to break the cycle of chronic anxiety for good.

Instead of trying to “manage” your anxiety or push anxious thoughts away—techniques that you’ve probably already discovered don’t work—the ten powerful strategies outlined in this guide will empower you to actually change how you respond to worry and anxiety, so you can get your life back!


Outsmart Your Anxious Brain is a self-help book that gives you 10 tips on how to deal with your anxiety. It is exactly what the title claims it is.

What I really liked about this book was the simplicity of it. It wasn't loaded down with unnecessary jargon that made it boring and hard to read. It was straight to the point; here's the problem, here's what you're doing wrong and here's what you can do to fix it. Yes it will suck in the beginning but it'll be worth it.

I would recommend this for those who struggle with anxiety. I found there were a few tips in here that I was able to relate to my real life experiences and will definitely be using them to better control my own anxiety.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

The Ruined Land by Clare Rhoden Review

The Ruined Land
The Chronicles Of Pale Book 3
by Clare Rhoden


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Exiled from the Pale, humachine Hector has found a home with the tribes Outside.

Or has he?

While the canini struggle to care for the human twins, Feather travels Broad Plain to reunite them with their father. But his own family is scattered as the Pale sends out its terrifying army and the land itself buckles beneath them.

Can anyone survive the ruination of the land?

In this gripping conclusion to the Chronicles of the Pale, the citizens of the mighty Pale have as much to lose as the communities of the Outside.


The Ruined Land is the final book in The Chronicles Of Pale Trilogy. Finally, all our questions are answered and the conclusion is drawn.

In the first two books The Pale and Broad Plain Darkening, Clare creates this world that can only come from true artistic talent. Along with the strange world she also created all sorts of amazing creatures. The canini (my personal favorite), the humanoids, and the equii just to name a few. These amazing creatures all accompany us to the final end of our journey where everything comes to its finale.

So I know this review is vague, but I feel like it kind of has to be. Everything is so nicely placed where one thing fades into another and everything intertwines in a way where giving away just a little too much of anything could spoil it. All I can say is start from the beginning and let Clare take you on an awesome journey that you won't regret going on.

The pace is kept constant throughout the whole trilolgy. While I love the consistency throught the books it also means this one was a slow-burn as well. I don't think slow-burns are a bad thing, they just aren't MY thing. However, it's important to point out that I still thought this was awesome for what it was. The writing and the overall creativity behind this is amazing. One thing I'll give away is that the creatures are ones we have today, but they are ... changed. Just read at least the first book, this is a world you don't want to miss.

Author Bio

Clare Rhoden completed her PhD in Australian WWI literature at the University of Melbourne in 2011, and a Masters of Creative Writing in 2008, in which she investigated the history of her grandparents who emigrated from Europe to Port Adelaide in January 1914. The Stars in the Night is the result of her research.

Clare also writes sci-fi and fantasy (check her titles at Odyssey Books​​).

Clare lives in Melbourne Australia with her husband Bill, their super-intelligent poodle-cross Aeryn, a huge and charming parliament of visiting magpies, and a very demanding/addictive garden space.

Clare’s Links:
Instagram: @clarerhodenauthor

Purchase Links:


The Pale - Chronicles of the Pale #1

The Outside can be a dangerous place.

But so can the inside.

It’s been years since the original cataclysm, but life has been structured, peaceful, and most of all uneventful in the Pale. The humachine citizens welcome the order provided by their ruler, the baleful Regent.

However, when one of their own rescues a human boy, Hector, from ravenous ferals on the Outside, their careful systems are turned upside down.

As Hector grows more and more human-strange, the citizens of the Pale grow uneasy.

What will happen when the Outside tries to get in?

Purchase Link -


Broad Plain Darkening – Chronicles of the Pale #2

The safe world of the Pale is under threat.

Inside the policosmos, the new Regent Adaeze strives for dominance over the all-powerful Senior Forecaster, but the Pale’s humachine citizens are unaware that their city is close to collapse.

Outside on Broad Plain, the exiled human Hector undertakes a dangerous trek to find a safe haven for the orphaned twins.

How can anyone survive as their world shifts underneath them?

Purchase Link - 

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Look-Alike by Erica Spindler Review

The Look-Alike
by Erica Spindler


I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Sienna Scott grew up in the dark shadow of her mother’s paranoid delusions. Now, she's returned home to confront her past and the unsolved murder that altered the course of her life.

In her mother’s shuttered house, an old fear that has haunted Sienna for years rears its ugly head —that it was she who had been the killer’s target that night. And now, with it, a new fear—that the killer not only intended to remedy his past mistake—he’s already begun. But are these fears any different from the ones that torment her mother?

As the walls close in, the line between truth and lie, reality and delusion disintegrate. Has Sienna’s worst nightmare come true? Or will she unmask a killer and finally prove she may be her mother’s look-alike, but she’s not her clone?


In this psychological thriller we follow the relationship between Sienna Scott and her mentally ill mother Evelyn. Years ago a college resident wearing the same coat as Sienna is brutally murdered, due to her injuries the police say it was done by someone the victim knew. Ever sense that night Sienna has been shook up and her mother has been claiming Sienna was the killer's intended target. Living with her grandmother in England, Sienna has been hidden away from the darkness caused by that night and her mother's intense delusions. Now she is back and the case is reopened. Finally she will find out if her mother is right and if she really was the target that night so many years ago.

I found the beginning of the story difficult to get into. It wasn't boring, it just wasn't captivating at first. However, once I was drawn in, I was completely sucked in until it was over. It was definitely thrilling and the mystery aspect of it was really good. At one point I thought I knew who had done what, but then I started second guessing myself. I was going around in circles trying to figure out who the killer was. I was kept guessing until the reveal at the end. I thought the writing was really good. Spindler was just amazing at making you see only what she wants you to see.

The characters were fine. I thought they were fleshed out well. They seemed like just normal, average everyday people I didn't think they were spectacular or anything, but they were done well for the purpose of the book. 

Overall, I think was a great read. I'm really glad I took the time to read it. I absolutely loved the way I was pulled in and able to get lost in the story. If you like thrillers where you're constantly second-guessing who you should trust than you'll probably enjoy this book.

Purchase Links:

Friday, December 27, 2019

20 Books in 2020 + Reading Goals

20 Books In 2020 + Reading Goals

Hello everyone and welcome back to my blog! 
Today I wanted to share 20 books I really want to get to read in 2020. Most of these aren't new releases, they are just books I really want to read but haven't gotten to yet. I'm also going to be sharing with you the reading and bookish goals I have for 2020. So without further delay, here we go!

Books 1-2
The last two books of the Bill Hodges Trilogy
Finders Keepers & End Of Watch
by Stephen King


Books 3-4
The last two books of the To All The Boys I've Loved Before trilogy
P.S. I Still Love You & Always and Forever Lara Jean
by Jenny Han

Books 5-8
The remaining books of the Lunar Chronicles
Cress; Fairest; Winter & Stars Above
by Marissa Meyer

Book 9
Paper Towns
by John Green

Book 10
When God Was A Rabbit
by Sarah Winman

Book 11
Great Expectations
by Charles Dickens

Book 12
The Wasp Factory
by Ian Banks

Books 13-15
Carrie; Under The Dome & The Long Walk
by Stephen King


Book 16
The Language of Thorns
by Leigh Bardugo

Books 17
Marie Antoinette Serial Killer
by Kate Alender

Book 18
The Cannibals of Candyland
by Carlton Mellick III

Book 19
by Mona Awad

Book 20
The Turn of The Key
by Ruth Ware


1. Goodreads: My main challenge of this year is to complete 100 books.

2. Popsugar: If I complete my first challenge this one shouldn't be an issue. I wanna complete the Popsugar 2020 Reading Challenge for the second year in a row.

3. Buy Less Books: This year my goal is to restrain myself from buying a mass amount of books. This includes thrift stores and garage/yard sales. It does NOT include free kindle books. To earn a new physical book I must read 5 physical books that I already own. Reading my kindle books do not count towards earning a physical book.

4. Read More King: This year I would like to try and read 12 Stephen King books in a year. This will be my first full year reading Stephen King so I'm pretty excited to catch up on all that I've missed.

5. Read Some Classics: This year I wanna read 6 classics. I'm not a huge fan of classics and therefore haven't really read that many. I'd at least like to put a small dent in books I probably should have already read.

6. Love My Books: This is the most important goal to me. Read more books that I love and that make me happy. This year I will be doing less tours and focusing more on finding that joy of reading that inspired me to start this blog to begin with.

Well everyone, that sums up this blog post. I hope you liked it. Let me know in the comments what you're looking forward to reading in 2020 and what are some of your reading goals are. I know it's a bit late but I hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Also, I wanna wish everyone a fun, safe and Happy New Years! I wish all my readers the very best and I'll see you in the new year!

Cheers to 2020!

See you on the moon!

The Black Ditch by Simon J Lancaster Guest Post

The Black Ditch by Simon J Lancaster Guest Post Hi everyone and thank you so much for stopping in. Today we have a guest post f...