Blog Tour ~ Competition~ Win a signed copy of Without Consent by Sid Spencer.

Without Consent Cover

A childhood in the care system, a boarding school in the remote countryside, a boy forgotten and abused.
This is the true story of how I, as a small boy, went from my neglectful, volatile parents, to controlling, uncaring foster carers and to a boarding school rife with sexual abuse, perpetrated by the adults there.
Experience the court trial, the fear of having to face my abuser, my fight to be believed and the final outcome.
This is a story of hope, of strength and of justice. This is a story that, sadly, too many children experience.
This is a story that should never have to be told by anyone again.


I am very proud to be able to run a competition today to win a copy of Without Consent by Sid Spencer as part of the blog tour organised by Anne Cater.

To be in with a chance of winning, go to the pinned on Twitter and like and share the pinned tweet at @Walescrazy

All those who share this blog directly to Twitter will ask be included in the draw. The competition will be open until midday on Sunday 22nd of April.

**  Entering is limited to UK and Northern Ireland only

Good luck to all entering.


You can purchase Without Consent from Amazon.

25% of ALL Sales will be donated to Survivors UK.

About the author.

Sid Spencer Author Photo

Sid Spencer has been a father since 2010 when, with his husband, they fostered an adopted their two children.
Sid soon realised that in order to help his two children to heal, he needed to help the boy that we was to heal as well.
Sid leaves in West Sussex where he writes, paints and if the dad at home.

The author can be followed on Twitter.

Without Consent Blog Tour Poster

Blog Tour ~ Review~ The Last Friend by Harvey Church.

The Last Friend - Harvey Church - Book Cover

The Last Friend – Harvey Church

The Knock on his Door…That Changed his Life

Fifteen years after Donovan’s daughter is abducted, Monica Russell knocks on his door. She claims she knew his daughter while in captivity and says she made a promise to tell him about their friendship.
The Last Friend to hold His Daughter’s Hand

When Monica claims to know where his daughter’s remains are buried, Donovan is immediately committed to doing whatever this last friend needs from him, regardless of the warnings from his family and friends.

The Friend Who Can Help Him Seek Vengeance

And when Monica claims to know where he can find the man who abducted, assaulted, and murdered his princess, Donovan knows he will stop at nothing to get his vengeance.

What Cost Will He Ultimately Pay?

Monica claims she can show Donovan a lot of things about his daughter, but what price will Donovan ultimately pay the young lady who claims to be the last friend to know his daughter?

Review Quotes

“An unexpected and exciting series of events that will grab readers.” -The Booklife Prize
“The short chapters and fast pacing coupled with an intriguing storyline made this a page turner that I could not put down.” –
“There’s no way to read this and not feel the gravity of it.” 5-star review, an Amazon reader
“You know it’s a 5-star book when you can’t put it down and stay up way too late reading!” 5-star review by an Amazon reader
“This book was a fast read . . . if you like psychological thrillers, then this will be right up your alley!” Goodreads Reviewer
“The plot hummed along at an incredible rate.” 5-star review by an Amazon reader


Many thanks to the author Harvey Church and blog tour organiser Caroline Vincent for the ARC in return for an honest review.
I have been thinking about this novel from the moment I finished it! How it made me feel and the things I liked about it and any elements I didn’t. Honestly, I couldn’t find one single fault. It’s a first-class, well crafted thriller, with outstanding characters and a gripping storyline.
The characters are all highly believable and written with an assured touch. The leading character Donovan perfectly embodies the sorrowful image of a father desperate to finally discover the fate of his daughter. I loved that he is flawlessly described as unable to move on with his life, but still functioning enough to have hope of a life with meaning. If only he can escape from the ghosts of his past that haunt his present. Then we have the last friend of the title. Almost perfectly revealed to us, like the complex layers of an onion, we get to know her and her connection to Donovan’s daughter. Yet parts of her remain elusive and you never know if she can be trusted.
The storyline is hard hitting in that it deals with the kidding napping of a young girl, but Harvey Crouch doesn’t seek to shock us with cheap imagery. He’s telling a story rooted in the depth of his characters suffering. It’s about emotions, grief, anger, pain and the journey each takes to gain retribution and final answers to questions their hearts are struggling to form.
The tension builds up slowly and needing answers as much as Donovan, I read on and on, feeling like I was taking the journey with him.
If you are looking for a solid and intelligent thriller, give the Last Friend a read. I enjoyed it so much; I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it any of my thriller reading friends.

The Last Friend can be purchased from Amazon.

About the author. 

Harvey Church Author Image

Harvey Church has a background in finance, which is how he found himself writing about the people and ridiculousness (sometimes the same thing) of that field in his Edwin Burrows light mystery series. Although he considers himself retired from that field (aka not working), he’s planning another three Edwin Burrows novels for 2018.
His first “serious” novel, The Last Friend, is a Kindle Scout writing competition winner and was published by Kindle Press on January 9, 2018. The BookLife Prize called it “an entertaining read for mystery and thriller fans alike,” and said it is “an unexpected and exciting series of events that will grab readers.” Harvey plans two sister novels to The Last Friend in 2018, one titled The Last Night (Spring 2018) and the other tentatively titled The Last Survivor.
For fun, Harvey likes to practice street magic and spends hours engineering tricks to wow his audiences. He is also an avid hockey fan (Go Leafs Go). He has a wife and two kids. His favorite color is blue, but he drives a black car because he read somewhere, back in the 90’s, that radar detectors have a tough time seeing them. Interestingly, he never speeds because he’s too busy singing like nobody’s watching, or maybe it’s that everybody is deaf.
He’s a supporter of double-chins, double-dates, and double-dipping (though never on double-dates), and obviously enjoys writing about himself in the third person, in the voice of the narrator from The Royal Tenenbaums.
Connect with Harvey Church by searching Harvey Church Mysteries on Facebook, at @hashtag_harv on Instagram, and @harveychurch1 on Twitter. You can also find him wandering the streets of Chicago, Toronto, Montreal or the Lido deck of a Princess Cruise ship. If you ever meet Harv, ask to see a magic trick!

You can follow Harvey Church on his website Harvey Church MysteriesTwitter and Instagram.

 Book Blog Tour Poster The Last Friend - Harvey Church

Blog Tour ~ Extract ~ Wheelchairs, Perjury and the London Marathon by Tim Marshall.


Wheelchairs, Perjury and the London Marathon

The top wheelchair athletes of today enjoy the same high-profile exposure and admiration as their able-bodied counterparts. This has come about partly through wheelchair participation in mass fun-running events such as the Great North Run. Wheelchairs, Perjury and the London Marathon charts disability sports pioneer Tim Marshall MBE’s journey from the rock-climbing accident which left him paralysed, to becoming a trailblazer for wheelchair racing. The fun-runs of the 1980s enabled wheelchair road-racing to flourish, and Marshall took part in marathons and half-marathons where wheelchairs were welcome to compete. This did not, however, include The London Marathon, from which wheelchairs were banned for the first two years. This is the story of how this prohibition was overturned, told from the competitor’s point of view. Tim and many others campaigned for the inclusion of wheelchairs in The London Marathon in the face of huge opposition from the organisers. Finally, in 1983 the efforts of sportsmen and women, the press, the Greater London Council and members of parliament resulted in a breakthrough just ten days before the 1983 marathon, which at last agreed to wheelchair participation. Wheelchairs, Perjury and the London Marathon reveals the tenacity and resolve required to achieving sporting greatness in the face of adversity. Tim Marshall’s story — and the legacy he has helped build for disabled sports — are a testament to his love of racing and his passion for disability equality.



My thanks to Tim Marshall for visiting my blog today with an extract from his book Wheelchairs, Perjury and the London  Marathon.


Context: Brasher announced the intention to organise a marathon, on the lines of the New York Marathon, in 1979. I had come across the Wheelchair Boston Marathon, then in its 4thYear, in 1978. I wrote to Brasher suggesting a wheelchair section in London; he replied non-committedly, but it soon became obvious that there wouldn’t be a wheelchair event.
Magazine articles followed over the next few years, and early in 1982 I wrote to John Disley at the Sports Council putting the case again. He wrote back, rather irritated, saying no. But there was a wheelchair in the 1982 race, so I wrote again. The first extract follows.

Dear John Disley, My apologies for taking things up again quite so soon, but really! A pantomime horse, a three-legged affair, a penny farthing, roller skates, an ostrich, a pram ….and a wheelchair. ….After last Sunday more extensive wheelchair participation is bound to be attempted next year, and it would be far better that it were organised properly than that you try to cope with a bunch of gate-crashing cowboys. …..
Disley replied thus: Dear Tim Marshall, Thank you for your comments about the “clowns” in our marathon. [NB I had made no comment about the “clowns”, merely describing their presence or their means of locomotion]. Although we are not best pleased with ostriches and pantomime horses [why not? Don’t they add to the gaiety of the occasion?] at least they did not commit perjury when they signed their entry forms, as Mr Thornton apparently did [perjury? PERJURY! This is getting heavy! The reference is to signing “I agree to abide by AAA Rules” on the entry form- which include running]. ……Next year we will again run our race under IAAF, AAA and WCCA rules which do not admit to wheels of any kind – cycles, prams or chairs. Yours Sincerely….

Context We are now on race day, April 17th, just after the race had finished. In looking for partners to support our cause, we had approached the Greater London Council (remember them?). Faced with evidence that London was falling behind other places, both in this country and abroad, in not having a wheelchair section in their marathons, the GLC came out strongly in our support – and after all, the race took place on their roads. But they were refuted in late January 1983 by being told by Brasher and Disley that it was against international regulations to have a wheelchair race running alongside the main running race – this was a line they had stuck to for months.
I had written to the press about the issue, and the Sunday Times picked it up. Then it was taken on by The Guardian and the London Evening Standard. Eventually, 19 days before the race I was told there would be a wheelchair event, though this wasn’t finally confirmed until 10 days beforehand. I assumed that all my niggling away had eventually caused Brasher and Disley to give in. Not a bit of it. After the race I was approached by Illtyd Harrington,deputy leader of the GLC, a governor of the race and someone who had been much in favour of a wheelchair event..

(Harrington speaking)…”They (the Sunday Times )were so astonished at Disley’s reaction to their approach that they thought there must be something more to dig into. …they went to the IAAF in Richmond and asked them what was their position regarding the participation of wheelchairs in road races. (The Sunday Times): If a wheelchair race were run in parallel with a running race, that would be OK, wouldn’t it, not a problem? (The IAAF) Not for us it wouldn’t be.
“What happened next” Illtyd continued “is that the Sunday Times came to us armed with this information from the IAAF. As you can imagine, we found this very interesting indeed – we were sympathetic to your cause almost right from the start, but had been completely stymied by the ‘against international regulations’ argument.”(Brasher and Disley were called to a meeting, and the subject of a wheelchair section was reintroduced). “Not this one agan”, said Brasher and Disley, “we’ve already explained that it’s against international regulations, why can’t you accept that?” “Are you sure of that?
“Absolutely” “Well, this is what your own international governing body says.” and we showed them the statement the IAAF had written down for us. …”For months you have peddled this line to us. Now it appears there are no such regulations forbidding the parallel running of such an event, and your own international governing body says so. What you told us wasn’t true. What else have you told us that isn’t true?” [What a devastating question – what have said in response?]
(The GLC) “…We all know that, despite what you told us, having a wheelchair section running alongside a running race is not forbidden. If you persist in refusing to allow a wheelchair section in this year’s race, we may have to reconsider our application to the police to havethe roads closed for the event.”

© Tim Marshall 2018
Wheelchairs, Perjury and the London Marathon can be purchased from Amazon.

About the author.


Tim Marshall was born in 1946 and gained an M.Sc in Statistics from the London School of Economics, working at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris before taking up a position at Birmingham University. His lectureship in the Medical School followed by his appointment as Associate Professor in Epidemiology and Public Health ended with his retirement in 2006. He has enjoyed a lifelong love of sport including wheelchair racing, skiing and sailing.

Monika Cover 2

Cover Reveal ~ The Weekend Spa Break by Anne John-Ligali

I’m thrilled to be part of the cover reveal today for the novella The Weekend Spa Break by Anne John-Ligali. I will be reviewing it here on booksaremycwtches on 5th of May.


The Weekend Spa Break Cover Reveal



Friendships Online Series
Part Two


The Weekend Spa Break Cover

After finally meeting in person at the publishing party of the season, Constance and Estelle are determined not to let their friendship return to mere virtual champagne bottles and uploaded pictures of food.
It’s been a busy year, and Constance feels it’s time to reward herself with the spa break Estelle gave her for Christmas. Naturally, Constance wouldn’t dream of taking anyone other than Estelle, and this will provide the perfect opportunity to bond with her new chum.
As the excited pair spend some quality time together, they realise it’s not just writing books they have in common, but something that goes much deeper. After a few Jacuzzi sessions, facials, pedicures, and a massage by sexy Senior Therapist, Julio, everything seems to be peachy until an unexpected visitor turns Constance’s weekend of bliss … on its head.

A two-day spa break.

Sparkling water on tap.

And the perfect massage.

But who’s rubbing who up the wrong way?

You can  pre-order The Weekend Spa Break from Amazon.

About the author. 

Meet Anne

Anne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews.  She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.
Anne has always loved stories and read many books as a child, including the entire Sweet Valley High and Caitlyn series.  Her interest in writing fiction came years later, when she began writing for pleasure in 2007.
Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

You can follow the author on Facebook, Twitter and her Blog.

Cover Reveal ~ The Picture by Roger Bray

I’m excited today to be part of the cover reveal of Roger Bray’s new book The Picture. It’s an exciting thriller I will be reviewing on booksaremycwtches the 28th of April.

The Picture - Cover Reveal


The Picture

The Picture

A warehouse in Japan used as an emergency shelter in the aftermath of the 2011 Tsunami. A distraught, young Japanese woman in dishevelled clothes sits on a box, holding her infant daughter. Ben, a US rescue volunteer, kneels in front of her offering comfort. They hug, the baby between them. The moment turns into an hour as the woman sobs into his shoulder; mourning the loss of her husband, her home, the life she knew. A picture is taken, capturing the moment. It becomes a symbol; of help freely given and of the hope of the survivors. The faces in the picture cannot be recognised, and that is how Ben likes it. No celebrity, thanks not required.
But others believe that being identified as the person in the picture is their path to fame and fortune. Ben stands, unknowingly, in their way, but nothing a contract killing cannot fix.

You will be able to buy The Picture from Amazon soon.

About the author

Author photo

I have always loved writing; putting words onto a page and bringing characters to life. I can almost feel myself becoming immersed into their lives, living with their fears and triumphs. Thus, my writing process becomes an endless series of questions. What would she or he do, how would they react, is this in keeping with their character? Strange as it sounds, I don’t like leaving characters in cliffhanging situations without giving them an ending, whichever way it develops. My life to date is what compels me to seek a just outcome, the good will overcome and the bad will be punished. More though, I tend to see my characters as everyday people in extraordinary circumstances, but in which we may all find our selves if the planets align wrongly or for whatever reason you might consider. Of course, most novels are autobiographical in some way. You must draw on your own experiences of life and from events you have experienced to get the inspiration. My life has been an endless adventure. Serving in the Navy, fighting in wars, serving as a Police officer and the experiences each one of those have brought have all drawn me to this point, but it was a downside to my police service that was the catalyst for my writing. Medically retired after being seriously injured while protecting a woman in a domestic violence situation I then experienced the other side of life. Depression and rejection. Giving truth to the oft said saying that when one door closes another opens I pulled myself up and enrolled in college gaining bachelor and master degrees, for my own development rather than any professional need. The process of learning, of getting words down onto the page again relit my passion for writing in a way that I hadn’t felt since high school. So here we are, two books published and another on track. Where it will take me I have no idea but I am going to enjoy getting there and if my writing can bring some small pleasure into people’s lives along the way, then I consider that I will have succeeded in life.

Roger Bray can be followed on Twitter, Facebook and his website Roger Bray Books.

Blog Tour ~ Extract ~ Doomed Destroyer by Ron Cope.

Doomed Destroyer Cover

On March 1st 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered Operation Weserubung: the invasion of Norway. Having swept across Europe, the Nazi assault on Scandinavia was designed to secure the valuable iron ore being delivered by rail from Sweden to the Norwegian port of Narvik. To complete the task, Hitler sent ten large destroyers, with 220 Alpine Troops on each. Five smaller British H Class destroyers were sent up the fjord in retaliation, with little knowledge of what to expect. On April 10th , the first British battle of Narvik began in earnest. Royal Naval Captain Bernard Warburton-Lee led his flotilla at midnight into the fjord; undetected, under darkness and in driving snow storms. The harbour erupted into a torpedo attack; back into the fjord, the destroyers Hardy, Hunter, Hotspur, Havock and Hostilewere confronted by five German destroyers. A ferocious sea battle ensued and Hardy and Hunter were lost.
In his first account of The Battle of Narvick, Attack at Dawn, Ron Cope focussed on the experience and the survival of the crew of HMS Hardy. After nine long years of research, he now reveals for the first time the untold story of HMS Hunter and her crew. Just forty-eight of the 159 servicemen on board survived in the cold waters of the fjord; picked up by German destroyers, they were eventually forced to march in freezing conditions over the mountains into internment in Sweden. Before the handover to the Swedish authorities, a German Army officer made the British servicemen sign a form: “On my being sent into Sweden I will not take up arms against Germany… Should I do so, and in the event of again being taken prisoner I shall be subject to such conditions as are provided under the Death Penalty Act”.
Doomed Destroyer follows the astounding stories of the Hunter sailors, who would spend the next five years plotting and attempting to escape their captivity. Cope provides an extensive account of the viciously fought events at sea and in the fjords, examining the Norwegian price paid at Narvik and the early impact of war on the local community’s simple way of life. A remarkable account delivered with care and respect for those lost and left behind, Doomed Destroyer shines a light on this important but previously little known event in British history.
“Without dedicated men like Ron Cope, the testimony and the stories of the men who were there – whether they were lost, wounded, or survived – what became of them, their families, might otherwise be lost to future generations.” Percy C. Danby, Lieutenant (E), C.D. RCN Retired. Ottawa. March 2017, survivor on HMS Hotspur.


I would like to thank author Ron Cope for kindly sharing an extract from his booked Doomed Destroyer, an account of the brave crew of HMS Hardy during the Battle of Narvick.

Extract from Doomed Destroyer

Here is just one veteran’s account of his experience in the First Battle of Narvik. Ordinary Seaman Fred Ward, was twenty year old just out of training but when I had contact with him he was still able to recount his memories of the fateful day of April 10th 1940. Here with the help of son Robin is part of Fred’s story.
Fred, “Having joined HMS Hunter we sailed for Narvik, the crew not knowing what lay ahead, we were just told to be ready for further orders. It was freezing, snowing and visibility was poor [making the 40 miles transit down the fjord at midnight] with the HMS Hardy leading the flotilla as we weaved our way through merchant ships that were docked in Narvik, then all hell broke loose.

“The noise from the gun fire and explosions echoed off the side of the mountains. It was like having your head compressed, you could not think, the training just takes over. We were hit, disabling us in the middle of the fjord, unable to move, we were a sitting duck.”

The last thing Fred remembers before jumping into the freezing water was seeing his Captain, Lindsay De Villiers walk back into the bridge. He looked at Fred and nodded, as if to say over you go. A lot of sailors jumped in immediately as they were near fires or other hazardous things, but Fred felt safer staying on board. Most of them had already succumbed to the cold, it was snowing and the water was like ice. Fred was now in the water and watched as the ‘Hunter’sank, taking her Captain and her trapped crew to the bottom of the fjord with her.

Back to Fred, “There were about fifty Stokers on board and most were probably still alive when she sank; but their exits were buckled from the explosions and they were trapped. This haunts me to this day.”

Fred Ward was one of forty eight survivors out of a crew of 159 who were now in the hands of the German Army ashore in Narvik. After two weeks imprisoned they were all led over the mountains and into internment in Sweden. Before the handover, a German officer made them sign a form in English.

‘On my being sent into Sweden I will not take up arms against Germany or her Allies during the continuation of the present war. Should I do so, and in the event of again being taken prisoner I shall be subject to such conditions as are provided under the Death Penalty Act.

The ‘Hunter’ survivors although in the custody of the Swedish authorities not all had managed to escape back home. After two years a major escape plan was implemented for ten Norwegian merchant vessels blockaded in Gothenburg to be manned and make a break out back to Britain. Volunteers were called from the ‘Hunter’ survivors to utilising their useful skills, to complete the dangerous mission. Stoker Joe Murphy hailed from County Cork and was one of twenty ‘Hunter’ men who were brave enough to ignore the original death threat.

On the 31st March 1942, the vessels in turn left harbour, Joe Murphy was on the eighth vessel with three other ‘Hunter’ men to leave on board ‘Skyterren’. Here Joe picks up the story. “There was heavy fog as the ship left the harbour, but then it lifted, and we ran straight into the path of German armed trawler. Rather than let the cargo of iron ore fall into enemy hands, the Captain scuttled the ship. Unfortunately, the detonation of the explosives went off too quickly before the crew had been warned. There was one death and several wounded men and there was a chaotic scene with the crew attempting to get into the lifeboats.”

It was known that some of the Norwegian crew were wanted by the Gestapo which would obviously have been on the ‘Hunter’ crews minds. Joe, “two of the lifeboats managed to get away. They were then convinced that they were in Swedish territorial waters. Unfortunately, they were unable to penetrate the ice and like the other two boats were apprehended by the German Navy. All the lifeboats were taken back to the Skyterren and we were placed below decks.”

As one can imagine this left the captured seamen, feeling abandoned and extremely apprehensive as to what the future now held for them. Ironically they were just one mile from the Swedish coast when apprehended and the Swedish authorities could have demanded that they be handed over into their custody.

Joe Murphy and his three colleagues, one of whom was Ordinary Seaman Fred Ward, were so close to returning to Sweden to face a more acceptable outcome, but were now Prisoners of War. Joe, “we were taken by the German Navy to Fredrikshaven, where we met up with another five of our ‘Hunter’ colleagues. We were quickly moved on by train arriving at Bremen late in the evening of 6th of April 1942. Then taken to the Milag Nord camp by truck.” [This camp was specifically for captured enemy naval personnel].
All nine of the ‘Hunter’ men having survived the sinking of ‘Hunter’ now had to try and survive a further three years of captivity in Germany. The question is would their captures find out about the form they had signed on arrival in Sweden. Obviously Joe Murphy and Fred Ward did managed to survive to live another day and be able to tell their families the amazing, eventful, traumatic and nervy experience they had in World War Two.
To conclude, Fred Ward was the last remaining survivor of the HMS Hunter. At the ripe old age of ninety seven he passed away in 2017. Joe Murphy spent another thirteen years in the Royal Navy and finally retired on a pension in 1958. He died in 1985 shortly before his seventy-third birthday.

Doomed Destroyer can be purchased from Amazon.

About the author. 

Born in Salford, Ron Cope followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Royal Navy in 1964, working in electronics. After leaving the forces in 1986, he spent over twenty years working in the probation service, specifically with young offenders. Now a proud father and grandfather, Cope is retired and living with his wife Alison in Telford, Shropshire. His first naval history book Attack at Dawn: Reliving the First Battle of Narvik in World War Two was published to acclaim back in 2015.

Monika Cover 2

Blog Tour ~ Guest Post ~ She’s Bad News by Ellie Spelman.

She's Bad News Cover

What would you do if you woke up with super powers? For Bella Brown, life hasn’t gone according to plan. She’s almost thirty, still living in her uneventful hometown, and her dreams of becoming an investigative reporter have fallen by the wayside. That is, until she wakes up one morning to find she’s been gifted with some amazing new abilities. What’s a girl to do with heightened senses, super speed and the ability to lift a truck one-handed? Bella quickly discovers that her new powers can easily help her land front-page leads at local newspaper The Hartleybourne Gazette. Soon Bella’s out every night chasing down local criminals for stories, while keeping her powers a secret from everyone besides flatmate Chloe. But when a burglary-gone-wrong accidentally turns her into the mysterious Hartleybourne Heroine, Bella finds herself on the front page for the wrong reasons. Her secret becomes harder to keep as she tries to track down the source of her powers, and especially when crime reporter Matt Gilmore is intent on unmasking the town’s new vigilante… Suddenly, having an extraordinary life is far more dangerous than she ever imagined.


I would like to welcome to my blog writer Ellie Spellman who writes about the books that have inspired her as a writer, as part of the blog tour for her debut novel She’s Bad News. Many thanks to blog tour organiser Rachel Gilbey for organising this fascinating guest piece.

Books That Inspired Me
By Elle Spellman

As children, we often wonder what we’ll eventually do ‘when we grow up’ and decide on potential occupations – some more questionable than others. For example, I wanted to join the Ghostbusters.
Okay, fine – I still do.
But being a writer was the one thing I always wanted to do, and as soon as I knew, the goal stayed with me. I wanted to write stories, and the books I read in my early childhood were responsible for igniting my desire to become an author.
As a child in the late 1980s, I owned a vast collection of books, many of which were published by Ladybird. Going to the bookstore with my mum to buy a new one was always exciting. Among these books was the Garden Gang series; a collection of stories about various vegetables and their day to day adventures, their happy faces illustrated colourfully on each page. I absolutely loved them.
The series was written by Jayne Fisher who, at nine, was Ladybird’s youngest author. Nope, that’s not an error – she was nine. Given that at the time I was only seven, she became the object of both my envy and inspiration all at once. I wanted to be a published author too, just like Jayne. I wanted my picture on the back of my books which would be in shops. It would be totally amazing. I knew that if that happened, my young life would be complete.
So I started to do things differently; I wrote books. I’d fold and staple together sheets of A4 paper and write my stories carefully onto each page, reserving the second for an illustration. I spent many an afternoon on the books and was incredibly proud of my creations. My mother encouraged me to send them to publishers, and so I learned to write a cover letter, placing it neatly in the envelope with my latest book, which would no doubt lead me to become the next Jayne Fisher.
Of course, I was rejected, but that didn’t stop me from writing the next one. And the next, and the next. The kind words on the rejection letters I received made me happy – I knew that someone had at least looked at my book, and the thought that maybe I’d have better luck with my next offering kept me going. It was exciting, leaving me continuously inspired to keep trying. I always did.
Okay, so I didn’t become a nine-year-old star writer in the end. But I did write a lot. And that was the most important thing.

As I continued working on projects through the years – a couple of YA stories that I never got round to finishing – my writing ambition still remained. Then one day, in 2004, I picked up a copy of The Second Assistant whilst waiting for a train, and subsequently fell in love with women’s fiction. I felt drawn to these books, with their hilarious heroines and their escapades. I became particularly fond of British chick-lit; novels that focused on women who perhaps didn’t fall under the expectation of ‘having it all’, and dealt with life’s shortcomings in heart-warming and often amusing ways. I picked up novel after novel, losing myself to uplifting tales of laughter, dreams and ambition and making the most out of shitty situations. They were relatable. They were, for the most part, happy. I’ve never been a big reader of romance, but I didn’t mind a romantic element as a secondary plot. The books gave me the escapism and warmth and humour that I needed.
So naturally, I began to write women’s fiction.
I wanted to write something fun. With a heroine people can relate to, who people can laugh along with, who people can root for. Add to that a love for comic books, and Bella Brown was created.
There was no specific book that inspired me to write. There were, in fact, many. A love for reading throughout my life has taken me to wonderful places and encouraged me in so many ways. The children’s books I read while young made me want to become a writer; the books I read later in life helped to shape my skills and find my voice. And so far, it’s been an amazing journey!

She’s Bad News can be purchased from AmazonUk and AmazonUS.

About the author. 

She's Bad News - Author Photo ES

Elle Spellman is a writer and comic book geek living in Bristol, UK. She’s been writing since a very young age, spending her childhood afternoons penning stories about fictional adventures, and illustrating them too. Now, Elle tends to write contemporary fiction with kick-ass heroines and a little bit of magic. She’s Bad News is her debut novel, and she’s just finished working on her second. Her other interests include running, wine, red lipstick, the paranormal, and all things Batman.

Ellie Spellman can be followed on the following social media sites.

Twitter /GoodreadsBlog

Shes Bad News Full Banner


Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Another Mother by Amanda James.

Amanda James - Another Mother_cover_high res

Adopted at birth, for years Lu has secretly dreamt of finding her birth mother but childhood bullying has left her with a lack of confidence. When a tragic accident changes her life forever it sets her on a mission to get in contact with her birth mother and find out the reasons behind her adoption.

When she tracks down her mother in Cornwall there is an emotional reunion and the pair begin to form a relationship.

But is everything as wonderful as it appears or has Lu walked into a nightmare?


Many thanks to the author Amanda James, the publisher Bloodhound Books and blog tour organiser Sarah Hardy for the ARC of Another Mother in return for an honest review.
Another Mother is a highly enjoyable thriller that makes me want to go back and read those other books written by Amanda James.
I admit that as the story progressed I was wondering where the punch line was going to be, that moment when the writer pulls the rabbit out of the hat and knocks the reader of their nice comfy reading chair! I could feel the suspense building, but thought I had it all figured out. I was feeling smug and a little let down, it was all a bit to neat for me. I had enjoyed the story and fluid ease of the writing, but needed more. Well there is more and the writer had lulled me into a false sense of security. She had taken me by the hand and led me down a false trail and them bam.
The characters are all fascinating. Especially Lu’s real mother, who is intriguing and deeply troubled. The one thing the story lacked for me was I wanted more of her. I wanted this intriguing character to be front and centre stage. While Lou in her need to connect with her birth family, is the perfect depiction of an adopted child, always wondering who she is and how she came into being. She is easy to like and I wanted her to find happiness so much. Even the supporting characters are beautifully written, my favourite being Rosie, who feisty determined nature won me over from the moment she first appeared.
The book was enjoyable, surprising and comprised of layers of storyline that were weaved together to form an enjoyable read. If you are already a fan of Amanda James you are going to enjoy her latest offering. If your new to her books than you’re in for the treat of finding a new author who will become a firm favourite.

You can purchase Another Mother from Amazon.

About the author.


Amanda has written since she was a child, but never imagined that her words would be published, given that she left school with no real qualifications of note apart from an A* in how to be a nuisance in class. Nevertheless, she returned to education when her daughter was five and eventually became a history teacher. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true when her first short story was published. Amanda has written many short stories and has six novels currently published.

Amanda grew up in Sheffield but now has realised her lifelong dream of living in Cornwall and her writing is inspired every day by the dramatic coastline near her home. She has sketched out many stories in her head while walking the cliff paths. Three of her mystery/suspense novels are set there, Somewhere Beyond the Sea, Summer in Tintagel and the Behind the Lie. Rip Current is also set in Cornwall and will be published by Bloodhound Books in April 2018.

Amanda, known to many as Mandy, spends far more time than is good for her on social media and has turned procrastination to a fine art. She can also usually be found playing on the beach with her family, or walking the cliff paths planning her next book.

Amanda can be followed on her her website MandykjameswritesFacebook and Twitter.

B L O G B L I T Z (4)

Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Her Mother’s Daughter by Alice Fitzgerald.


Her Mother's Daughter Cover

1980: Josephine flees her home in Ireland, hoping never to return. She starts a new, exciting life in London, but as much as she tries, she can’t quite leave the trauma of her childhood behind.Seventeen years and two children later, Josephine gets a call from her sister to tell her that their mother is dying and wants to see her – a summons she can’t refuse.1997: Ten-year-old Clare is counting down to the summer holidays, when she is going to meet her grandparents in Ireland for the first time. She hopes this trip will put an end to her mum’s dark moods – and drinking.But family secrets can’t stay buried forever and following revelations in Ireland, everything starts to unravel. Have Josephine and her daughter passed the point of no return?


I would like to thank the author Alice Fitgerald, the publisher Allen & Unwin and blog tour organiser for the ARC of Her Mother’s Daughter by Alice Fitgerald.

Given that the book deals with some difficult issues it still flows along with an effortless grace, yet it remains a story you experience with an intensity of emotion that the characters and story stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it. Time flows by as you are immersed by the story and the characters and you become lost within the tale.

What impressed me most about this book was the way it was told from the point of view of ten year old Claire and her mother Josephine. Sometimes in books that have two narrators, one suffers in the telling of the story more than the other, their part of the account less filled out and complete. But here both characters are given an equal voice and their thoughts, emotions and behaviour are powerfully evoked. I was also very impressed with the story of the effects of mental illness and childhood abuse and how it consequences are felt down the generations. The damaged Josephine is beautifully written as two personalities at war with each other, one the loving mother and wife, yet at the same time the angry, often violent victim of childhood trauma. While young Claire’s future and mental well being seem threatened by her mother’s own traumatic childhood. Yet she is also written with a lightness of touch and dual personality that reflects the innocence and confusion of a child living with a mother who’s dark moods often block out the light and which threaten to continue such dysfunctional relationships down the generations.

Her Mother’s Daughter is a book of many moods and narrative layers. It engaged me as a reader so much so, I read into the early hours to find out how Josephine and Claire faired, if their frail and damaged relationship could be healed. Fiction has a lot to teach us about consequences and hate and the complicated relationships we form with those we love and this book is a perfect example of the powerful influence literature can have on the reader.

Go buy it, it is worth every penny.

Her Mother’s Daughter can be purchased from Amazon.


Alice Fitzgerald

Alice Fitzgerald has worked as a journalist for six years.
She has been published in literary journals, online at Refinery29 and Hello Giggles and in magazines including Hello!
Her Mother’s Daughter is her debut novel
Born in London to Irish parents, she now lives in Madrid

Alice Fitzgerald can be followed on Twitter.



Blog Tour ~ Review ~ Keeper by Johana Gustawsson.


Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror.
London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before.
Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose?
Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down. Following the highly acclaimed Block 46 and guaranteed to disturb and enthral, Keeper is a breathless thriller from the new queen of French Noir.


Many thanks to Johana Gustawsson, the publisher Orenda Books and blog tour organiser Anne Cater for the ARC of Keeper in return for an honest review.
Keeper is the stunning, clever and highly entertaining follow on from Block 46, which once again reunites Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells. We are swept from the nightmarish world of 1888 Whitechapel which is gripped by the shocking events of Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror, to London and Sweden in 2015 and a new series of horrifying murders. What links the two time periods? All the victims are women! But is this all that connects them?
To find out the writer weaves a tale that is in equal parts horrifying and fascinating. It is a cliché to say a book is impossible to put down, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true and in the case of Keeper it is. I was gripped body and soul by events as they unfolded, scared to turn the page and face the horror that turns both Roy and Castells worlds upside down, but compelled to do so by a desire to discover the reasons behind the murders. I recently read that thrillers are characterized by the moods they bring out within the reader, heightening feelings such as excitement and that they should enduce levels of anxiety that can be almost too much to bear. Well Johana Gustawsson achieves this aim and ramps it up to a level that left me wondering if the tightness in my chest was ever going to ease.
Given that this is a follow on from Block 46, I was delighted to see character growth for both of the main characters. As the story progresses we learn more about both Roy and Castells and events that have shaped them. They become stronger as the story progresses and yet open to potential growth in future novels. Both are fascinating characters that I warmed to in the first novel and that continued in Keeper, my emotional attachment to them strengthened by the vulnerability Gustawsson imbues them with.
From the very first page the horror of the killings in both the past and the present enveloped me, by the end the horror still had me gripped and I began to think the writer couldn’t possibly shock me anymore. But, I didn’t see the twists and turns coming and was kept on the edge of my seat throughout. Not only did Gustawsson force me to rethink all I thought about the crimes and those that committed them, but also who is good and bad. The ‘villain’ is utterly immoral and thoroughly evil, but always fascinating.
I can’t wait for the next thrilling segment in the Roy and Castells story, penned by an exciting and very talented writer.

You can purchase Keeper from Amazon and Waterstones.

About the author


Johana Pic

Born in 1978 in Marseille, France, and a graduate of Political Sciences, Johana Gustawsson was a journalist for television and French press. She now lives in London, England.

You can learn more about Johanna Gustawsson on her Website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

FINAL Keeper blog poster 2018