A Lover of Books

Blog Tour – ‘The Gardener’s Daughter’ by K A Hitchins

The Gardener’s Daughter was published on the 15th March 2018 in paperback and as an eBook by Instant Apostle.  I am delighted to be taking part in this blog tour for which I have interviewed K A Hitchins.


First of all can you tell me a bit about your new book please?

The Gardener’s Daughter is a Young Adult thriller exploring the theme of identity. The main character is a motherless nineteen-year-old girl who accidentally discovers she was adopted and runs away in search of her biological father. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang,  her journey of discovery unearths the shocking truth behind her mother’s death and the identity of her real father – with plenty of excitement and a sprinkling of romance along the way.


What made you decide to write this book?

When I lost my Dad to cancer and began speaking to friends about what he had meant to me, I realised just how many people don’t have a good relationship with their fathers, or even have any real contact with them. Most of the positive things in my life are a direct result of the happy and secure upbringing my parents gave me, rather than the result of anything especially good or talented about me. What would happen, I wondered, if I woke up one day and realised that everything in my childhood had been a lie, and that my real father had abandoned me before I was born? That was the premise for the book. Ava’s identity is intrinsically linked to knowing where she’s come from and finding a place she can call home.


How long did it take you to write?

It took about five months to write, but then another couple of months working with my copy editor and proof reader to really tighten up the manuscript.


Did you have to do any research?

Much of the action takes place in a cheesy caravan holiday park. As I’ve had more than my fair share of family caravan holidays, I didn’t have to do much research on the setting. Surprisingly the most difficult part of the book was the historical era. I’ve set the book in 2003, before Facebook, Twitter and Smartphones. I had to keep reminding myself that my main character, Ava, couldn’t check her emails on her phone. It’s amazing how much we depend on technology to know what’s going on and to connect with people. Without it, Ava has to depend on more traditional detecting methods to track down her real father.


What do you hope readers will get out of this book?

I hope readers have a really great experience. I love it when I get reviews from people who couldn’t go to bed until they’d finished one of my stories. That makes it all worthwhile. However, there is an underlying message in the book about love and forgiveness which I hope readers will find uplifting.


Are you working on any other writing projects?

I have another completed manuscript called Love in the Village of Drought which requires some editing before I submit it to a publisher, and I’m in the very early stages of writing my fifth novel, provisionally entitled, ‘The Shortness of Life’.


What has the publishing process been like for you?

I started writing seriously in January 2012. While I was writing my first book, The Girl at the End of the Road, I joined the HarperCollins online writing community called Authonomy. Authors would post up their chapters or completed novels and receive feedback and ratings from other writers and readers. Every month the top five books would receive an editorial report from HarperCollins, with the possibility of a publishing deal. The feedback I received from other writers really helped me polish my manuscript about a shallow, materialistic man who falls in love with a woman with Aspergers until it was ready to be sent out to publishers and agents.

By January 2015, my novel reached number four out of more than 6,000 books on the Authonomy site. I waited for the promised critical feedback from a Harper Collins Editor, but heard nothing. I was still sending the manuscript out and in May 2015 I was offered a contract from a small independent publisher called Instant Apostle. After a few agonising hours of wondering whether to hold on for my Harper Collins review or accept the bird in the hand, I agreed to meet the publisher and signed the contract the following week. Four days later, Harper Collins sent me their review and expressed an interest in the book.

I must confess, I had a short internal tussle of, ‘What if’, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m with the right publisher for now. They are small, flexible, inclusive and supportive, and want to bring me into all the decision making relating to the cover and the blurb etc. Even with this support, the experience has been overwhelming so I know I wasn’t ready back then for anything more high-powered.

While planning the launch for The Girl at the End of the Road (which took place in March 2016) I mentioned to my publisher that I’d started writing a book about a girl in a coma who was trying to solve her own murder. They immediately asked me to sign a contract, even though I’d only written a few chapters. The Key of All Unknown was launched in October 2016. It’s the story of brilliant scientific researcher, Tilda Moss, who wakes up in hospital unable to speak or move and with no recollection of what happened to her. Determined to find answers and prove to her family and doctors that she’s not in a persistent vegetative state, she searches for clues in the conversations she overhears and in the fractured memories that haunt her.

In between writing The Girl at the End of the Road in 2012 and The Key of All Unknown in 2016, I’d finished two further manuscripts: Love in the Village of Drought in 2013 and The Gardener’s Daughter in 2015.  It’s been great to work with the Instant Apostle editors to bring the latter project to completion. I can’t believe I’m about to publish my third novel in two years. I’ve learned such a lot about the publishing process and how to promote my books on social media, that I now feel confident to call myself a proper writer.


What advice have you got for anyone wishing to write a book? 

My advice to everyone is to read widely and step outside of your comfort zone every now and then. It’s all too easy to get into a rut with a favourite genre, but mixing it up a little and picking up a book you wouldn’t usually choose, particularly one which stretches your heart, mind and soul, is a great way to broaden your reading experience and improve your writing.


What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Writing is what I do in my spare time. I’m a busy mum, a Trustee of a children’s charity working in Togo, West Africa, and I also help other authors with their social media promotion. It’s difficult  not to let my writing get pushed to the bottom of the pile of things to do. To get away from the ever present housework, I take myself out to a supermarket café at least once a week for a couple of hours of writing.



Book Blurb

Motherless nineteen-year-old Ava has always believed brilliant botanist Theo Gage to be her father. But when a chance discovery reveals she is not his daughter, her world falls apart. Determined to discover her true identity, Ava impetuously runs away and enlists the help of inexperienced private detective, Zavier Marshall. Pursued by shadowy figures, she takes on a new name and follows in her dead mother’s footsteps to work at the mysterious Fun World Holiday Camp. Penniless and cut-off from everything she’s ever known, and trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a ruthless criminal gang, will Ava survive in a world where she’s more valuable dead than alive? Will she discover the shocking truth behind her mother’s death? And will she find her real father before it s too late?

‘The Gardener’s Daughter’ can be purchased from Amazon UK:-




About K A Hitchins

K A Hitchins studied English, Religious Studies and Philosophy at Lancaster University and later obtained a Masters in Postmodern Literatures in English from Birkbeck College, London University. Her debut novel, The Girl at the End of the Road, was published by Instant Apostle in March 2016, followed by The Key of All Unknown in October 2016. Both books were short-listed for Woman Alive magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award 2017, with The Key of All Unknown reaching the final three. Her third novel The Gardener’s Daughter was published on 15 March 2018. She is married with two children and lives in Hertfordshire.




Website:   www.kahitchins.co.uk

Twitter:  @KathrynHitchins


Kathryn Hitchins


K A Hitchins, Author page


Instagram:  kathryn_hitchins



Blog Tour – ‘Trafficked Girl’ by Zoe Patterson

Big congratulations to Zoe Patterson whose book, ‘Trafficked Girl’ is out today in paperback and as an eBook, published by Harper Element.  I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour and would like to thank Rosie Margesson for inviting me to participate.  Though I am not a big reader of non-fiction, this book really caught my eye and I was intrigued to know why Zoe decided to tell her story and what she hopes to achieve in doing so.

Zoe has written an exclusive guest post for my blog, but first here’s what ‘Trafficked Girl’ is about.


Book Blurb

When Zoe was taken into care at the age of 13, she thought she was finally going to escape from the cruel abuse she had suffered throughout her childhood. Then social services placed her in a residential unit known to be ‘a target for prostitution’, and suddenly Zoe’s life was worse than it had ever been before.

Abused and ostracized by her mother, humiliated by her father’s sexual innuendos, physically assaulted and bullied by her eldest brother, even as a young child Zoe thought she deserved the desperately unhappy life she was living.

‘I’ve sharpened a knife for you,’ her mother told her the first time she noticed angry red wounds on her daughter’s arms. And when Zoe didn’t kill herself, her mother gave her whisky, which she drank in the hope that it would dull the miserable, aching loneliness of her life.

One day at school Zoe showed her teacher the livid bruises that were the result of her mother’s latest physical assault and within days she was taken into care.

Zoe had been at Denver House for just three weeks when an older girl asked if she’d like to go to a party, then took her to a house where there were just three men. Zoe was a virgin until that night, when two of the men raped her. Having returned to the residential unit in the early hours of the morning, when she told a member of staff what had happened to her, her social worker made a joke about it, then took her to get the morning-after pill.

For Zoe, the indifference of the staff at the residential unit seemed like further confirmation of what her mother had always told her – she was worthless. Before long, she realised that the only way to survive in the unit was to go to the ‘parties’ the older girls were paid to take her to, drink the drinks, smoke the cannabis and try to blank out what was done to her when she was abused, controlled and trafficked around the country.

No action was taken by the unit’s staff or social workers when Zoe asked for their help, and without anyone to support or protect her, the horrific abuse continued for the next few years, even after she left the unit. But in her heart Zoe was always a fighter. This is the harrowing, yet uplifting story, of how she finally broke free of the abuse and neglect that destroyed her childhood and obtained justice for her years of suffering.


Guest Post

Why I decided to tell my story and what I hope to achieve in doing so

For many years now, I have wanted to share my story with a view to helping others. Receiving and reviewing my Social Services’ records and realising that the abuse I was forced to endure was actually so easily preventable made my resolve to tell my story that much greater.

On a professional level, I would like my story to reach those who have the power to prevent and put a stop to physical, sexual and emotional abuse in all of its forms. I want to shine a light on the failures of those in charge of other people’s care and safety in the hope that lessons will be learned.

I understand that many social workers are perhaps underpaid and overworked. Whilst this may be true, it should not take away from their moral duty to protect others from the risk of serious damage or harm. It must not be forgotten that children in care are human beings, no more or less important than any other child in the world who is fortunate enough to live within a loving family home.

The police also have a moral obligation to protect the vulnerable from the risk of serious damage or harm. When I was a child, the police often visited my primary school. From these visits I concluded that police officers were ‘good’ and could be relied upon in any emergency. You can imagine my surprise when those very same police officers who smiled at me in primary school looked upon me with scorn and contempt not more than two years later because I was a child living in the care system.

I wondered what it was that had changed for them, because I can say with absolute certainty that I was the same girl I had always been, only now a little more damaged, hurt and betrayed. And it really did hurt to know that the police officers I had admired just a couple of years earlier thought so little of me and had absolutely no intention of rescuing me from the men who so shamelessly trafficked me.

On a personal level, I want to use my story to reach out to others who have experienced abuse. I want you to know that whatever happened to you was not your fault. You are not to blame.

I want you to know that, as survivors of abuse, we are beacons of hope. We are the proof that good exists within the human race. We survived something horrific and chose to carry on living, hoping and loving despite being exposed to the darker side of humanity. That takes a tremendous amount of courage and strength, which is something abusers just don’t have.

As survivors of abuse, we are the proof that whilst abusers may change our lives, they cannot change our spirit, and in that sense we are untouchable. How incredible is that!

© Zoe Patterson 2018


What a fabulous guest post.  I really admire Zoe for how she has dealt with things and I hope her story is of inspiration to all those who have been in a similar situation.  I am looking forward to reading Zoe’s book.


‘Trafficked Girl’ is available to buy from:-

Harper Collins – https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008148041/trafficked-girl/

Amazon UK –  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trafficked-Girl-Abandoned-Exploited-Fighting-ebook/dp/B073Z6TPF1/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1521660513&sr=1-1



About Zoe Patterson

Zoe Patterson is 29 and a qualified personal trainer. Having discovered that she has a natural talent for boxing, Zoe is about to start training as a boxing coach in the hope of being able to help other women who have been disadvantaged in some way to improve their self-esteem and create positive futures for themselves.

To find out more about Zoe and her story follow her blog – http://www.zoepattersonfightingback.com/



Blog Tour – ‘Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop’ by Isabella Louise Anderson

‘Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop’ was published in paperback and as an eBook by Chick Lit Goddess, LLC last year. I was invited by Jenny Marston of Neverland Blog Tours to take part in this tour and I would like to thank both Jenny and the author for my review copy of the book.

The owner of a thriving florist shop, Khloe Harper trusts her instincts. She has a strong bond with her family and her best friend, Sharon. However, after being betrayed by her last love she’s kept away from men and romance. But she doesn’t know what is about to hit her when the handsome Derek Thomas walks into her store.

Gabby Lewis, recently widowed, isn’t about to give up on life and love just yet. She just needs to release herself from survivor’s guilt, thus allowing herself to take a chance on finding happiness and companionship again. After signing up to an online dating site for senior citizens, much to her surprise she is matched with Harry, an energetic and loving man who quickly eases himself into her heart.

Frumpy Connie Albright has a faux fascination with an imaginary man called Walt. By sending herself flowers from him she feels less out of place at work amongst the “mean girls” she works with. She soon comes face to face with her possible prince charming, but will she have a happy ending?

As each woman’s story develops through flowers and cards sent from Khloe’s shop during the Fall months, they begin to learn that love can only truly blossom when you trust your heart.

I firstly want to mention the cover which I think is gorgeous. I was really looking forward to this book especially as it had a floral theme. I adore flowers and was delighted to read about the bouquets being made up and the beautiful colours. I wish I could have visited Khloe’s shop and had a chat with her about flowers. I’m not surprised her business was doing so well.

Narrated by Khloe Harper, Gabriella Lewis and Connie Albright who are the main characters, I read their stories with great interest. Out of all of them Gabby was my most favourite. She took a second chance and her life changed for good. I loved reading about her and Harry and his family. Little Andrew was just so adorable too.

I felt sorry for Connie and I could see why she did what she did. Her colleagues at work weren’t exactly nice to her for a start off. Connie was lacking in confidence and was lonely. She really deserved some happiness.

I was a bit disappointed at the end as I presumed the epilogue would give an update not just on Khloe, but Gabby and Connie too. I would really have liked to know how Gabby and Connie were getting on as well. Also, the editing could have been that much better.

Thank you for a lovely read. I might have to buy myself some flowers now.

I give this book 4 out of 5.


‘Flowers From Khloe’s Flower Shop’ can be purchased from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/search/ref=x_gr_w_bb?keywords=9780991416721&index=books&linkCode=qs&tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21



To coincide with this blog tour there is a competition being run.  The winner can choose from an eBook copy of either; “The Right Design,” “Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop,” or “The Hollywood Setup.” by Isabella Louise Anderson.

To enter just click on this link Rafflecopter Giveaway.  This competition is open internationally.


About Isabella Anderson

Isabella Louise grew up with a book in her hand, and to this day nothing has changed. Aside from writing, she focuses her time on featuring other authors on her blog, Chick Lit Goddess, along with sharing book reviews. Isabella Louise is also a member of the Romance Writers of America.

She lives in Dallas with her husband, enjoys spicy Indian and Mexican food, margaritas, and red and white wines. She loves spending time with family and friends, and cheering on the Texas Rangers. When Isabella Louise isn’t working on her next release, her attention is also on her Scentsy business, where she’s a consultant.



Website – http://www.isabellalouiseanderson.com/

Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/ChickLitGodess

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29923543-cards-from-khloe-s-flower-shop?ac=1&from_search=true


Blog Tour – ‘The Absent Man’ by Robert Enright

‘The Absent Man’, the second book in the Bermuda Jones Case Files series is out tomorrow the 9th March 2018 as an eBook and is already available in paperback.  I can’t tell you how thrilled I am as I absolutely loved ‘Doorways’.  I really can’t wait to read this book.

I would like to thank Robert for inviting me to take part in this blog tour for which he has written a guest post.


Writing a sequel

Hello! So as part of my blog tour, Sonya has agreed to let me write a guest post that she will very kindly share with all. I had the pleasure of meeting Sonya at an Urbane night in a room full of authors and she was as lovely in person as she is on social media. She has been one of the most supportive and engaging people I have had the pleasure to meet since trying this writing malarkey, so I thought I’d start this by saying a big thank you to her for her constant support and also badgering me to write this damn sequel!

So that is the topic of this guest post. Writing a sequel.

You know what…it was harder than I thought. I had a good chat with a friend of mine about it and he thought it would be easy, because so much of it is already established. Now if you have read DOORWAYS, then you would have been introduced to my hero, Bermuda Jones and his enigmatic partner, Argyle. Not only that, you would have been introduced to the entire concept of ‘The Otherside’, the BTCO and the backstory involving the truth between our world and the other.

But what happens if you haven’t read Doorways? (By the way, I am not encouraging you to skip Doorways. Please buy my books and make me happy!)

That was the biggest problem to tackle. Because some people will join this series on this book, so I need to re-introduce EVERYTHING that was established in the first book, with enough detail so a new reader gets on board and dives in. However, I can’t repeat myself from Doorways, because those readers who have finished that book will be annoyed by forking out cash for a repeat novel. Establishing that fine line was a lot trickier than I thought it would be and it was a real challenge.

What I will say is that having a book with all of the key details noted down for each character was a real help. I know everything from their facial features to their dates of birth, which allowed for easier introductions. Once the first few chapters were written, I’d say probably when I got to about chapter six, I was able to stop trying to introduce the characters once again and was able to run with the story, which was a lot of fun. By the time I got to the end of the book, it felt nice to see just how fleshed out the characters and story was.

I really hope you pick up the Bermuda Jones series (wow, feels weird to know there is more than one book now!) and I really hope you enjoy it. The Absent Man is very special to me as it marks an exciting new direction not just for Bermuda Jones and Argyle, but also my career as a writer.

Thanks for reading and take care.

Robert Enright


Thank you so much for the lovely introduction, Robert.  I am really quite touched.



Book Blurb


Something is killing…

A woman is found dead in her flat on a freezing night in Glasgow, her heart ripped from her chest. With no signs of a weapon or forced entry. Hours later, her heart is delivered to the Necropolis on the outskirts of town.

Six months after stopping the terrifying Barnaby atop Big Ben, Bermuda finds himself on the hunt for a killer in a city he doesn’t know with a police force that doesn’t want him. With no links between the victims and the death toll rising, Bermuda has to face a sceptical detective, a seemingly distracted Argyle and an unknown horror that stalks from the shadows.

All in the name of answering one question…

Who is The Absent Man?

The Absent Man is an urban fantasy thriller that revisits The Otherside and will have you on the edge of your seat.


‘The Absent Man’ can be purchased in paperback from Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2oSVI0E

Pre-order the eBook from Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2oYaZN6


About Robert Enright

Robert Enright was born and raised in North London and resides in Chesham, Buckinghamshire. Working as a HR System Manager by day, he spends his evenings and weekends writing (or binge watching TV with his fiance).

Robert first self published One by One in March 2016 and saw it published by Britain’s Next Best Seller in October 2017.

In early 2018, DOORWAYS will be re-released as an ebook, paperback and audio book under Robert Enright’s management. The sequel, THE ABSENT MAN will also be released in early 2018. The third in the series, WORLDS APART, is set for a late 2018 launch. A prequel, titled BERMUDA, is in the works for a 2018 launch also.

Robert can be contacted via:-

Website – http://www.robertenright.co.uk

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/robenrightauthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/REnright_Author


Guest Post Number 1 by Anne Coates

My competition on Twitter last year for one author to feature on my blog for a whole year was so popular, I decided on a runner-up prize. The lovely Anne Coates was the winner and this year she is writing a series of six guest posts. Here’s Anne talking all about reading and reviewing.


The Two Rs – Reading and Reviewing

For most of my working life I have worked either as staff or freelance in publishing/journalism and a lot of my time has been spent, reading and assessing manuscripts, editing, abridging fiction and narrative non-fiction and judging competitions. So when it comes to reading for pleasure I love taking off my editor’s hat to immerse myself in another world.

Although I review some YA and parenting books on my website Parenting Without Tears and therefore receive advance copies, I usually buy novels even though I’m registered with Netgalley. I aim to support other authors by adding to their sales figures and posting a review on Amazon. As an author, I know how important reviews are! However I would rather not leave a review at all, if I didn’t like a book or had problems with it. Who am I to judge a book just because it doesn’t resonate with me? Just writing a book and getting it published it a major achievement and should be celebrated which is wonderful to see on Twitter.

One of the joys of Twitter for me has been finding new (or new to me) authors and getting to know bloggers. I fell in love with Mel Sheratt’s books and was thrilled when she invited me to a launch party in London some years ago. My first Twitter party and I met numerous people in real life who had previously just been names and faces. So many of those people have become friends…

Like most book lovers I have a pile of unread books. Some are patiently waiting their turn while others I have started but not finished for a variety of reasons. When I’m in the middle of writing a book, my reading time is limited so if after a few chapters I’m not engrossed, I tend to put the book aside, often seeking out authors I know whose writing I admire and enjoy.

What I love is being captivated by a narrative so all I want to do is read on – without interruption. The moments when my editor’s hat is left out in the hall are beyond compare but even with some of my favourite authors I get pulled up short by a mistake like someone wiping their nose on the sleeve of a coat they took off two pages before! Or a funeral being arranged two working days after a fatal traffic accident… But these are minor niggles really.

I am full of admiration for book bloggers who manage to read – and review – so many titles as well as having jobs and family commitments. It is obviously a real labour of love. And I feel honoured when anyone reviews one of my books or invites me to be featured on their blog (thank you Sonya!). A couple of years ago I wrote round-up of books I’d read and enjoyed. I was stunned to receive a DM from an author demanding to know why I hadn’t included one of her books. So I am always saddened – but not surprised – when I see that bloggers I know and respect have been subjected to abuse or bullying from writers and publishers.

That’s when I move away from social media and lose myself in a book.


About Anne Coates

For most of her working life in publishing, Anne has had a foot in both camps as a writer and an editor, moving from book publishing to magazines and then freelancing in both. Having edited both fiction and narrative non-fiction, Anne has also had short stories published in a variety of magazines including Bella and Candis and is the author of seven non-fiction books. Telling stories is Anne’s first love and nearly all her short fiction as well as Dancers in The Wind and Death’s Silent Judgement began with a real event followed by a ‘what if …’; That is also the case with the two prize-winning 99Fiction.net stories: Codewords and Eternal Love. Songs of Innocence will publish summer 2018.



Dancers in the Wind

Death’s Silent Judgement

Cheque-Mate & Other Tales of the Unexpected

Author website http://www.annecoatesauthor.com/

Twitter – @Anne_Coates1

Blog Tour – ‘Dead Ernest’ by Frances Garrood

‘Dead Ernest’ is being published as an eBook tomorrow the 1st March 2018 by Sapere Books.  It is also out in paperback.  I am absolutely thrilled to be kicking off this blog tour today along with two other bloggers.

I have an exclusive extract from the book for all of you to read, but first here’s what its about.


Book Blurb

No one had expected Ernest to die, least of all Ernest…

Ernest Bentley was a pillar of the community. But when he suddenly dies of a heart attack his wife Annie refuses to have the words ‘beloved husband’ added to his gravestone. Their son, Billy, is exasperated with his mother and worries about how she will cope on her own. Unwilling to take time out of his own busy schedule to take care of her, he enlists the services of the local vicar, Andrew, to keep an eye on her.

Before she knows what is happening, Annie finds herself telling Andrew things she has kept hidden for years. Dark secrets that had plagued her sixty-year marriage to Ernest. When Annie’s estranged granddaughter, Ophelia, turns up for a visit, the two bond over their mutual contempt for Billy and his controlling behaviour. But when Ophelia meets Andrew, the unhappily married vicar, things start to get very complicated…

What is the truth about Ernest? Why is Annie behaving so strangely now that he is dead? And how can Andrew reconcile his growing feelings for Ophelia with his respect for his marriage and his religion?

Spanning from the Second World War to the present day, Dead Ernest by Frances Garrood is a poignant, moving and, at times, very funny look at what really goes on behind closed doors in the ordinary lives of ordinary people.




Dead Ernest

No one had expected Ernest to die, least of all Ernest. He prided himself on coming from tough, Yorkshire stock, and had often told Annie that he would easily outlive her. So, when he had his heart attack, Annie’s feelings were at first of surprise rather than anything else.

“Are you sure?” she asked the policewoman, who was making tea in the kitchen. (How odd that it was always the police who were sent to break bad news; almost as though dying in the street were an offence against the law). “Are you sure he’s dead?”

“Quite sure. I’m so sorry, dear.” The policewoman handed her the tea (much too sweet, and not hot enough) and put an arm around her shoulders. “It must be a terrible shock. Is there anyone you’d like us to contact?”

“Billy. My son Billy. You’ll need to contact him.”

Because, of course, Billy must be told. Strangely, Annie had rather wanted to keep the news to herself for a while; to taste it and think about it on her own before sharing it with anyone else. But Billy would think it odd if she didn’t tell him at once, and besides, there would be things that would need doing. Annie had only the vaguest idea of what those things were, but she was sure Billy would know how to deal with them. Billy was good at that sort of thing.

“How do you know it was a heart attack?” Annie asked. “How can they tell?”

“Well, they can’t tell. Not for certain. But that’s what it looks like. There’ll have to be a post-mortem, of course.”

“Ernest wouldn’t like that,” Annie said, remembering Ernest’s dislike of being touched and even greater dislike of anyone seeing him in a position of disadvantage. A post-mortem, she could see, was going to place him in a position of considerable disadvantage.

“It has to be done, dear. It’s the law. Because he didn’t die in hospital.” The policewoman poured herself a cup of tea, although Annie hadn’t invited her to have one. Death, it would seem, muddled up all the rules of normal behaviour.

Ernest would have hated dying in the street like that, with everyone watching. Dying in hospital would have been acceptable, with dignity and nurses and clean sheets. But then Annie might have had to sit with him while he was doing it, and she wasn’t sure she could have managed that. Perhaps, after all, it was a blessing that he had died in the street.

“Where was he?” she asked. “Where did Ernest die?”

“Outside the fish and chip shop.”

“Outside the fish and chip shop,” Annie repeated, surprised. It seemed such an odd place to die. She wondered what he had been doing there. The fish and chip shop was the wrong end of town for the barber’s, which was where Ernest was supposed to be, and he’d only just had his lunch, so he couldn’t have been hungry. But now she would never know. Nobody would ever know what Ernest was doing before he died outside the fish and chip shop.

Annie was aware of the policewoman watching her, waiting to see how she would behave. “What do people usually do?” she asked, suddenly interested.

“Do?” The policewoman looked bemused.

“Yes. When someone dies. You must see a lot of them. When you tell them, what do they do?”

“Everyone’s different of course,” said the policewoman carefully. “They cry, of course, and some people even scream. And sometimes they’re just shocked and quiet. Trying to understand what’s happened.”

“And what am I?”

“What are you?” The policewoman’s teacup paused, trembling, halfway to her lips.

“Yes. How would you say I was taking it?”

“I would say,” the teacup returned firmly to its saucer, “I would say that you were being very brave. Perhaps it hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” she added gently. “It’s a terrible shock for you.”

Was it? Was it really a terrible shock? A surprise, certainly, but a shock? Annie wished the policewoman would go away and let her think. She needed time to sort herself out; to get to grips with what had happened. Ernest was dead, and she didn’t feel anything much at all. Not sad, not happy, not anything. Was she normal? Was it okay to feel like this?

“Ernest is dead.” She tried the words to see what they felt like. “Ernest — is — dead. It sounds so strange.” She paused. “He had this little joke he used to tell: ‘Once upon a time there were two worms fighting in dead Ernest.’ I never thought it was funny, and Billy didn’t like it, but it always made Ernest laugh.”

The policewoman smiled.

“Did he have a sense of humour then, your Ernest?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that. Ernest only had the two jokes, and I’ve forgotten the other one.”

“Would you like another cup of tea?” the policewoman asked.

“No thank you. I think I’d like you to go now,” Annie said.

“But we can’t leave you here on your own. Not at a time like this. Is there a neighbour who might sit with you? Just until your son gets here.”

Annie thought of her neighbours. Of odd, secretive Mr Adams, a tiny man of indeterminate age who lived alone and who hoarded things. Annie had only once been inside his house and had been left with an impression of disturbing smells and what appeared to be wall-to-wall jumble and bric-a-brac. The piles were neat and appeared to be in some kind of order, but the impression was not welcoming. On the other side lived a young couple, with a frog-faced toddler who screamed a lot. Annie certainly didn’t want to involve them, and she quite definitely didn’t need the toddler.

“I don’t really have much to do with the neighbours.” She stood up. “I want to be by myself now. I don’t need anyone else.”

After the policewoman had gone, Annie locked and bolted the door. Then, because it was getting dark, she drew the curtains and turned on the gas fire. Ernest would be home any time now, and wanting his tea. Ernest was very particular about his tea. He always had it at six o’clock on the dot, the same time as he used to have his meal when he got home from work. Ernest liked routine and order, and because it was easier to do what Ernest wanted, Annie had always gone along with it. Yes. She must get Ernest’s tea ready. A nice piece of fish (it was Friday) and some mashed potatoes and cabbage. Annie thought it was odd to have cabbage with fish, but Ernest had read a book about green vegetables being particularly good for you, and recently he had insisted on having them with everything.

But Ernest is dead, she realised again. Ernest is dead. He isn’t coming home for his tea. The green-vegetable book came too late to save him. He won’t be coming home at all; not ever. His heavy tread on the gravel (a slight limp because of his bad hip), his key in the door, his voice calling her name as he hung up his coat and cap. None of these things would ever happen again. The coat and the cap were — where? At the hospital, presumably. And Ernest himself; where exactly was he? Lying somewhere, cold, waiting for the post-mortem. Annie shivered. At least she wouldn’t have to go and identify him. Billy would see to that. She couldn’t understand why anyone had to go and identify Ernest, when he’d been carrying his pension book.


‘Dead Ernest’ can be purchased in paperback from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Ernest-behind-closed-doors/dp/1912546019/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1519756569&sr=8-1 

The eBook can be pre-ordered – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Ernest-behind-closed-doors-ebook/dp/B077Y1R7PP/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1519756569&sr=8-1


About Frances Garrood

My main career was in nursing, but I also trained and worked for many years as a relationship counsellor with Relate. Widowed in 1992, I re-married and now live with my husband in Wiltshire, where I enjoy riding my horse in the beautiful Pewsey Vale, reading, writing, singing in our large church choir and keeping up with my grandchildren. I also write regularly to a prisoner on Texas Death Row and do local voluntary work with homeless and vulnerable adults.

I first started writing as a child; mainly poetry, but there was one horrific novel (mercifully, never finished) in which a woman gives birth to a hideously deformed child in a thunderstorm. While I was bringing up my four children, I began writing and selling short stories to magazines before the enforced immobility following a fractured spine gave me the time to tackle my first novel, Dead Ernest.

All my books are very strongly relationship-based. My writing has also been affected by my widowhood and my experiences with my Relate clients, and my books sometimes include issues of death and bereavement. Strangely (and not by design) they all seem to include pet animal funerals (not a subject which normally occupies my mind!).



“Frances Garrood is a magnificent writer.” — thebookbag.co.uk

“Dead Ernest is remarkably well written, well constructed.” — Grumpy Old Bookworm

“Light-hearted, heartwarming and enjoyable.” —writers-online.co.uk



Website – http://www.francesgarrood.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FrancesGarroodAuthor/


Lynne Milford’s (aka LM Milford’s) Monthly Guest Post

I am delighted to welcome the lovely Lynne Milford aka LM Milford back to my blog.  Lynne was the winner of my competition to feature on my blog for a whole year.  Here is her second guest post.


Where did A Deadly Rejection come from?

When you’re starting out as a writer, one of the first pieces of advice you’re given is ‘write what you know’. There are several schools of thought on whether this is good advice or not – some say you can write about what you like as long as you’ve done the research. But I think when you’re first starting out, writing about something you know well means you can concentrate on learning how to write, without having to stop and research every step. That can come later, once you have writing experience.

In a former life, I was a local newspaper reporter for about 8 years. In that time I did some great jobs and some awful jobs. One of the not-quite-so-bad jobs was covering council meetings. I’d been to them all – planning, licensing, governance, for example. These meetings could be fascinating and dull in equal measures. Sometimes you had to dig to get a story from them, but there was always something there if you looked hard enough.

It was during a meeting of the ‘Innovation Panel’ that my brain started to stir.

The meeting had run on for two hours, with very little innovation taking place, when the councillors decided they’d better have a comfort break. My heart sank at the idea of yet more time wasted. Bear in mind that it was now after 8pm and I’d been working since 9am. In addition, I have to file what stories I could glean from the meeting before I could go to bed (to fill any spaces left in the next day’s edition). I had pages and pages of shorthand notes and began to review them to make writing up easier. Near me, as I sat at the desk kept for the press, was a small gaggle of councillors and officers deep in whispered conversation. As I picked up my pen to make a note in the margin by a useful quote, they all stopped talking, stared at me and then, as a group shuffled away to the back of the room.

Immediately my suspicious journalist brain lit up with ‘what were they talking about that they thought I’d overheard?’. It was probably nothing, but for the next few weeks I couldn’t shake that idea from my head, that if something was going on, what would they do to stop me from printing what they thought I’d overheard?

There would have been a lot of ways to do that without going to the extremes of what happens to Dan, the reporter in A Deadly Rejection, but I’ve always been somewhat over-dramatic about this type of thing – a good skill for a crime writer to have, don’t you think?

I can’t recall the moment I sat down to write the book, but it probably began to emerge over the next few weeks. It seems strange to look back now, when the book has been edited and changed so much, and think that without that one moment, that one reaction to a journalist, A Deadly Rejection might not have happened.

The book took over my life for many an evening, weekend, holiday for years but finally I’ve got it onto the virtual bookshelves and readers are enjoying it (most importantly).

I thank those councillors and officers for the inspiration. I promise that none of them is in the finished book, nor is the innovation panel. After all, who would believe that such a thing existed? You couldn’t make it up.


You can read Lynne’s first guest post about her writing journey here https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2018/01/31/lynne-milfords-monthly-guest-post/


Book Blurb

How far would you go to get what you want?

Beneath the bustling, respectable exterior of the Kent town of Allensbury lies a world of corruption and greed.

When local news reporter Dan Sullivan scents a story in the local council, he begins to ask questions. But when his source dies in mysterious circumstances, Dan is implicated. He is quickly drawn into a world of lies, ambition and avarice as he fights to clear his name.

The more he digs, the more someone tries to stop the story from ever seeing the light of day.

Dan must decide what’s more important to him…the story, or his life.



Book shortlink to Amazon http://ow.ly/57IG30fS5F5

Long link UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deadly-Rejection-would-what-want-ebook/dp/B0768WP1SB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1507972626&sr=8-1&keywords=a+deadly+rejection

LM Milford’s blog – http://www.lmmilford.wordpress.com/

Twitter – @lmmilford


‘The Fragile Thread of Hope’ by Pankaj Giri

‘The Fragile Thread of Hope’ was self-published as an eBook by Pankaj Giri last November. Pankaj contacted me a while back to ask if I would review his novel. I would like to thank him both for sending me a copy of his book and for being really patient with me. I meant to review it much earlier but things got in the way.

It’s the autumn of 2012 and two people are about to find their lives totally turned upside down.

Still haunted by losing his brother at a young age, Soham has managed to establish a promising career in IT for himself in Bangalore. Fiona, after having had a difficult childhood, finds her life is finally taking a turn for the better. She has married her beloved and things are wonderful.

But when tragedy strikes them both yet again, their fundamentally fragile lives threaten to fall apart. Can Fiona and Soham overcome their grief and find some normality again?

I absolutely adored this book from start to finish. I found myself really wanting to savour it and so I took my time reading it. The writing was simply exquisite and the descriptions were just wonderful. Pankaj Giri has clearly given a lot of thought to this story.

The chapters are narrated by Sharon (Fiona’s mother), Fiona and Soham. The reader is given a good insight into their lives leading up to the individual tragedies. I warmed to the main characters instantly. I felt really bad for Soham who put himself through hell for years after his brother’s death.

It was really interesting learning about the different traditions; i.e. the festivals and what happens at funerals. I loved the description of the birch tree, how it loses all of its leaves year after year and yet it continues to stand there patiently. It waits for new leaves to grow and doesn’t give up hope. If only we could all be that patient and positive. This book really got me thinking and made me realise how short life really is and how you should make use of it. Material things are of course nice but loved ones are all the more important.

‘The Fragile Thread of Hope’ is a thought-provoking and emotional story about love and loss and how there can still be hope even in the darkest of moments. It gives a very strong message not to give up no matter what.

I really hope that Pankaj Giri writes more books. To not do so would surely be torture for his readers. I don’t normally compare authors with others, but I would say if you like Renita D’Silva’s books then you will hopefully enjoy this one.

I give this book 5 out of 5.


‘The Fragile Thread of Hope’ can be purchased from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fragile-Thread-Hope-emotional-inspirational-ebook/dp/B076ZGGNH8/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076ZGGNH8


Author Links

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/PankajGiriAuthor/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/_PankajGiri


Blog Tour – ‘Our Little Secret’ by Claudia Carroll

‘Our Little Secret’ was published as an eBook and in paperback on the 8th February 2018 by Avon Books.  I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour.  I have heard so much about this book and I really hope to read it one of these days.

I have an exclusive extract for all of you, but first here’s what the book is about.


Book Blurb

A sparkling story about what happens when you let someone into your life… but they turn out to want more than you’d bargained for!

Sarah Dee has the perfect life. A high-flying job in a law firm, a beautiful daughter and a house to die for. So how does she find herself looking in through the kitchen window while another woman enjoys it all?

When Sarah takes pity on a struggling young graduate who can’t get a job, she thinks she’s doing the right thing. She’s being kind, generous and helpful to others, as she always is. But as Sarah allows the younger woman into her home, her law firm and even her family, is there more to this pretty youngster than meets the eye? And could this be a good deed that goes further than expected?

Claudia Carroll does it again with a sparkling new novel about what happens when your life becomes up for grabs…




‘And now, I’d ask you all to raise your glasses to my beautiful bride. Stella, you make me happier than I ever could have dared to hope, and there’s not a day goes by that I don’t fall in love with you just a little bit more. So thank you, my love. Thank you for being my soulmate. Thank you for being my life partner throughout all these years of happily unmar­ried bliss.’

‘Yeah, because it’s all downhill from here you know!’ some smartarse from the back of the function room yelled out. I swiveled around to see who it was, but it was too packed to see properly.

‘Thank you for putting up with me,’ Tony, the groom went on, valiantly soldiering on with his speech, ‘and for being such a fantastic mum to our gorgeous kids all these years. Stella, you’re the glue that keeps our little family together, and I love you just as much, if not more than I did on the day we first met. I can’t tell you what joy it gives me to be able to say that in front of all our nearest and dearest. I love you from the bottom of a very full heart. And today Stella, you’ve made me the happiest man on earth. Ladies and gentlemen, will you please raise your glasses to my beautiful bride!’

There was a round of thunderous applause at that and not long after, the happy couple took to the floor for their first dance. Meanwhile, the rest of the guests, myself and Harry included, formed an impromptu circle around them, as bride and groom whirled away to their first dance.

Which was to There May Be Trouble Ahead, by Nat King Cole by the way, to gusts of giggles from the assembled throng. But this couple had already dealt with just about everything life can throw at any of us; the good, the bad and the ugly. What further trouble, we all wondered, might possibly lie ahead for them, that they hadn’t already come shining through?

Harry’s chunky hand slipped over mine as we stood side-by-side watching the bride and groom dance and I squeezed it back, really delighted that the day had gone off so well. Stella may have claimed to be a ‘Ryanair bride’ who insisted on no fuss or frills, but still. This was her wedding day and I knew she wanted it all to run smoothly. And by and large, it had.

It was coming up to 9pm but, amazingly, the sun had shone all day and it was still bright enough that smokers and anyone who wanted a gulp of fresh air could drift in and out to the gardens through the open terrace doors, without fear of getting hypothermia. We were in the gorgeous, uber-luxurious Rathsallagh House for the wedding and the staff had really excelled themselves. The banqueting hall where the reception dinner was held had been lovingly decorated in delicate shades of lavender and lilac, all to compliment Stella’s bridal colours.


Has the extract left you needing to read this book?  If so, it’s available to buy from Amazon UK:-



About Claudia Carroll

Claudia Carroll is a number one bestselling author in Ireland and a top ten bestseller in the UK, selling over 670,000 copies of her paperbacks alone. She was born in Dublin where she still lives and where she has worked extensively both as a theatre and stage actress. She now writes full-time. Her 2013 novel Me and You was shortlisted for the Bord Gais Popular Choice Irish Book Award.



Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Claudiacarrollbooks/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/carrollclaudia

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16566.Claudia_Carroll


Cover Reveal – ‘Abel’s Revenge’ by Ross Greenwood

This is such an exciting day.  You might be wondering why and the reason is this.  ‘Abel’s Revenge’ is Ross Greenwood’s brand new book and it is being published as an eBook on the 25th March 2018.  Today, along with a number of other bloggers I am helping to reveal the cover and I can tell you now that it is fab.

So, are you ready to see the cover?  I won’t keep you waiting any longer.  Feast your eyes on this little beauty…..


Book Blurb

This is a story about a city. As with all others, it’s a place of violence. There are murderers, and they live among us.

This is also a tale about a couple — sometimes friends, occasionally lovers, but always partners. Dan and Olivia are fighting modern battles; the ones parents have over a lack of money, time or peace.

An escalating serial killer terrifies the streets and homes. The body count rises as their relationship crumbles. Society reveals its dark side, and no one is safe. Dan and Olivia experience this first-hand as danger closes in.

Will Abel’s reign of terror ever end?

Who will live and who will die?


‘Abel’s Revenge’ can be pre-ordered from:-

Amazon UK – http://bit.ly/AbelsRevenge-RossGreenwood-AmazonUK

Amazon US – http://bit.ly/AbelsRevenge-RossGreenwood-AmazonUS


About Ross Greenwood

Ross Greenwood was born in 1973 in Peterborough and lived there until he was 20, attending The King’s School in the city. He then began a rather nomadic existence, living and working all over the country and various parts of the world.

Ross found himself returning to Peterborough many times over the years, usually, so he says “when things had gone wrong.” It was on one of these occasions that he met his partner about 100 metres from his back door whilst walking a dog. Two children swiftly followed. And, according to Ross, he is “still a little stunned by the pace of it now.”

Lazy Blood book was started a long time ago but parenthood and then four years as a prison officer got in the way. Ironically it was the four a.m. feed which gave the author the opportunity to finish the book as unable to get back to sleep he completed it in the early morning hours.

Ross Greenwood’s second book, The Boy Inside, was picked up by Bloodhound Books, and in September 2017, Fifty Years of Fear was published. All his books are thought provoking, and told with a sense of humour.

Ross Greenwood hopes you enjoy reading them.


Author Links

Website – www.rossgreenwoodauthor.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RossGreenwoodAuthor/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/greenwoodross


Other Books by Ross Greenwood

Lazy Blood (Sept. 2016) – Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2pqxLfo
The Boy Inside (Febr 2017) – Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2uuGWRQ
Fifty Years of Fear (Sept.2017) – Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2DY1TWB


Blog Tour

There will be a blog tour starting on publication day which has been organised by the wonderful Caroline Vincent of Bits about Books.

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