books

Cover Reveal: The Littlest Dinosaur Finds a Home – Steven Kofflow & Bryce Raffle, illustrated by Tessa Verplanck

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Wow! If you thought the first book was adorable, check out the cover of The Littlest Dinosaur Finds a Home!

The Littlest Dinosaur Finds A Home Cover

The Littlest Dinosaur Finds a Home

Expected Publication Date: September 1st, 2021

Genre: Kids/ Children’s Books

The Littlest Dinosaur is off on a new adventure. It’s time for bed, and the newborn dino has nowhere to lay down his sleepy head. Luckily, he’s got Ty The Tyrannosaur to show him the meaning of family and help him find a place to call home.

Coming Soon!

The Littlest Dinosaur (Book #1)

outlook-dr5qmdgk

Publication Date: November 2nd, 2020

Genre: Children’s Literature

Illustrator: Tessa Verplancke

Ty, The Tyrannosaur just wants to make a new friend.

Sadly, the other dinosaurs are all afraid of his sharp teeth! So Ty must go on an adventure to find a dinosaur brave enough to be friends with a Tyrannosaur.

The Littlest Dinosaur 

About the Authors

Authors with dinos

Bryce Raffle was the lead writer for the video game studio Ironclad Games. He also writes stories for young adults and designs book covers.

Steven Kothlow is making his debut as a children’s book writer. He hopes to tell many more stories that help spread a message of diversity and inclusion especially in children’s literature.

Tessa Verplancke is a sound designer by day and an illustrator by night. She lives to tell stories through as many mediums as possible.

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We Begin at the End – Chris Whitaker – winner of Theakstone Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year

I read this incredible book what feels like a million years ago in June 2020 and sent my copy to my Grandad, a big thriller fan, to enjoy in lockdown, you can read my thoughts on this book from way back then here.

It’s a powerful story of crime, punishment, love and redemption set in coastal California – and one that Whitaker credits as saving his life after being brutally mugged and stabbed as a teenager (he tells the story here).

 Chris Whitaker said: ‘I began writing this book as a form of therapy after being mugged and stabbed. Without doubt this story saved my life, so to win this award feels like the most wonderful, dreamlike end to a journey that has been twenty years in the making. I have read the shortlisted books, so know with some certainty that I’m not a worthy winner, but I am a grateful one, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop smiling now.”

Whitaker has clinched the title on his very first nomination after being chosen by a public vote, the prize Academy and a panel of expert judges, receiving £3,000 and an engraved oak beer cask, hand-carved by one of Britain’s last coopers from Theakstons Brewery.

An unprecedented decision has been taken to recognise Northern Irish author Brian McGilloway’s exceptional political thriller The Last Crossingas Highly Commended. McGilloway will also receive a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier for his novel which explores The Troubles from the perspective of former operatives who like to think they have moved on.

Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said“The contest for this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award has been fiercely fought – a reflection of the outstanding quality of all the longlisted and shortlisted crime fiction published within the last year. I offer Chris Whitaker my hearty congratulations for clinching the title on his first ever nomination for his powerful and insightful We Begin at the End.”

Gary Jones, Express Editor-in-Chief, said: “It’s a great pleasure to be associated with the world’s most famous celebration of crime writing and we’re thrilled the Theakston Old Peculier Festival is back this year in the flesh and better than ever. Congratulations to all the shortlisted authors for crime book of the year and especially to winner Chris Whitaker.”

Special presentations were also made to Ian Rankin OBE and Mark Billingham, the winners of the Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award for 2021 and 2020, respectively.

Simon Theakston added: “It was an absolute pleasure to award crime fiction legends Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham with the Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award 2021 and 2020 respectively. They are two titans of crime fiction and richly deserving of this latest recognition of their mastery of the genre.”

Ian Rankin OBE, recipient of Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award 2021, said: “It’s such a privilege and an honour to receive this award, and especially to be in Harrogate to receive it in person. I’ve been a published writer for over thirty years but this past year has been uniquely challenging – for writers, readers and booksellers. It’s heartening to see the Theakston Festival rise like a phoenix. Books continue to provide us with that wonderful mix of food for thought and escapism. I couldn’t be prouder to be a crime writer.”

Mark Billingham, recipient of Theakston Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award 2020, said: “It goes without saying that – presuming it’s not some sort of administrative error – this is an enormous honour. I’m as gobsmacked as I am grateful to be joining a list containing the likes of Ruth Rendell, PD James and Lee Child and while there are many individuals to whom I’m hugely indebted, first and foremost I want to say ‘thank you’ to the readers. Without them, there’s no point to any of it.”

This year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival continues until Sunday at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate. Special Guests this year include Mark Billingham, Ann Cleeves, Elly Griffiths, Mick Herron, Clare Mackintosh, Val Mcdermid and Richard Osman, curated by Festival Programming Chair Ian Rankin OBE.

The award is run by Harrogate International Festivals sponsored by T&R Theakston Ltd, in partnership with WHSmith and the Express, and is open to full length crime novels published in paperback 1 May 2020 to 30 April 2021 by UK and Irish authors. The longlist was selected by an academy of crime writing authors, agents, editors, reviewers, members of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Programming Committee, and representatives from T&R Theakston Ltd, the Express, and WHSmith.

**this post was created using material provided by a press release and is not necessarily representative of the opinions of ramblingmads.com**

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Traitors – Alex Shaw*

The start of a gripping new crime thriller series introducing Intelligence officer Sophie Racine and featuring ex-SAS officer Aidan Snow!

A TRAITOR WHO CAN’T BE CAUGHT
French Intelligence officer Sophie Racine is tasked with travelling into the heart of a warzone in Ukraine. Her mission is to assassinate a Russian spy who took the French secret service apart piece by piece and gave their secrets to the Kremlin.

A PRISONER WHO CAN’T BE KILLED
Ex-SAS trooper and MI6 Officer Aidan Snow is also in Ukraine. Sent by British Intelligence, he must extract an innocent citizen caught up in the conflict in rebel-controlled Donetsk.

A WAR THAT CAN’T BE WON
When their missions collide, Snow and Racine find themselves outgunned and outnumbered. Even if they make it out of the warzone alive, danger won’t be far behind…

My thoughts: this was a really fast paced, adrenaline pumped ride across an occupied part of Ukraine to remove a traitor and rescue a civilian caught up in the terrorist camp.

Racine is the DSGE’s best assassin and this is her most dangerous assignment yet. Pursuing a defector to Russia, who cost agents their lives, she’s determined not to fail, even with the odds stacked against her. She teams up with MI6’s Aidan Shaw, on the search for kidnapped British medical student Mohammed Iqbal. Both of their targets are in the same place, so it makes sense to join forces, there’s only two of them after all.

Racine is a difficult character to like, she’s tough and doesn’t let anyone in, a must for her job, but her back story reveals the more vulnerable person within. This mission has a personal angle. Shaw is a bit more straightforward, while we don’t learn a lot about him, he’s less guarded and more easy going – even when facing off with angry gun toting soldiers.

If you like your thrillers with lots of bullets, car chases, bemused civilians and spies galore, then this is definitely for you. Action, and a little humour, all the way. Perfect summer sunshine reading for thrill seekers.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: A Beginner’s Guide to Murder – Rosalind Stopps*

Grace, Meg and Daphne, all in their seventies, are minding their own business while enjoying a cup of tea in a café, when seventeen-year-old Nina stumbles in. She’s clearly distraught and running from someone, so the three women think nothing of hiding her when a suspicious-looking man starts asking if they’ve seen her.

Once alone, Nina tells the women a little of what she’s running from. The need to protect her is immediate, and Grace, Meg and Daphne vow to do just this. But how? They soon realise there really is only one answer: murder.

And so begins the tale of the three most unlikely murderers-in-the-making, and may hell protect anyone who underestimates them.

My thoughts: this was very entertaining, as three old ladies decide to carry out a murder and rescue two young women in the process.

What’s happened to Nina and Ronnie is horrific, and gets very dark, so contrasting it with the humour of three women with no idea about the criminal underworld planning a hit helps. But Grace, Daphne and Meg have been through a lot in their 70 plus years, some of it dark too, and it has given them all a source of inner strength and determination to rescue Nina and Ronnie from their own nightmare.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Ruabon – Carl Drinkwater*

Read my thoughts on the other books in this series: Lost Solace Chasing Solace Grubane Clarissa

Welcome to Tecant.


Nothing ever happens here.


Until today.


Ruabon Nadarl is just another low-ranking member of the scan crew, slaving away for the UFS which
“liberated” his homeworld. To help pass the time during long shifts he builds secret personalities into the robots he controls. Despite his ingenuity, the UFS offers few opportunities for a better life.
Then Ruabon detects an intruder on the surface of a vital communications tower.
He could just report it and let the deadly UFS commandos take over, while Ruabon returns to obscurity.
Or he could break UFS laws and try to capture the intruder himself. For the UFS, only the outcome matters, not the method. If his custom-programmed drones can save the day, he’ll be a hero.
And if he fails, he’ll be dead.
Buy


Karl Drinkwater writes thrilling SF, suspenseful horror, and contemporary literary fiction. Whichever you pick you’ll find interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.
Karl has lived in many places but now calls Scotland his home. He’s an ex-librarian with degrees in
English, Classics, and Information Science. He also studied astrophysics for a year at university, surprising himself by winning a prize for “Outstanding Performance”.
When he isn’t writing he loves guitars, exercise, computer and board games, nature, and vegan cake.
Not necessarily in that order.

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My thoughts: this was interesting in that it both filled in a gap in one of the Lost Solace books, Chasing Solace, but also showed you the flip side to those events. What Ruabon does that day with the drones he’s been tinkering with isn’t huge in the grand scheme of things, but to him, in that moment, it is everything. He’s so bored of his job, of the UFS, that even breaking all the rules doesn’t bother him.

If you’ve read the previous books and short stories, you’ll know what’s happening, what Opal and Athene are up to, and why UFS are so keen to catch them. This can be read as a standalone but it makes a lot more sense tied into the whole.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: My Best Friend’s Secret – Emily Freud*

How do you escape a past you can’t remember?

Kate Sullivan has a beautiful home, a job she loves and a handsome fiancé: all she’d ever dreamed of since getting sober and painstakingly piecing her life back together.

But a chance encounter with her old best friend Becky threatens Kate’s newfound and fragile happiness. Kate remembers nothing of their last drunken night out, the night Becky broke off their friendship without warning or explanation.

With Becky back in her life, Kate is desperate to make amends for the past. For the closure she craves, Kate needs to know what she did that ruined everything. But what if the truth is worse than Kate could have imagined?

(Previously published as Closure)

My thoughts: I really thought this book was going in one direction, then it swerved and went in a completely different one. Which was refreshing but also horrifying – the secret Becky has been carrying all those years will destroy everything Kate believes in.

It was also interesting to see Kate’s daily battle with addiction and how close to the surface her need swam, especially at times of stress. She’s fundamentally a good person but made some mistakes and continues to struggle with them every day.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Murder Box – Olivia Kiernan*

At first, Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan believes the murder mystery game sent to her office is a birthday gift from one of her colleagues. But when Frankie studies the game’s contents, she notices a striking resemblance between the ‘murder victim’ and missing twenty-two-year-old Lydia Callin.

As Frankie and her team investigate, a series of grisly crimes connected to the game are discovered across Dublin city and Lydia’s involvement with a shadowy network of murder mystery players becomes clear.

On the hunt for Lydia’s murderer, Frankie is drawn more deeply into the game. Every successful move brings her closer to the killer. But the real question is not what happens should she lose — but what happens if she wins.

My thoughts: this was good, clever and twisted. Drawing on the famous Nutshell crime scene models, escape rooms, online games, and people’s true crime addiction, this investigation is handed on a plate (or should that be, in a box?) to the detectives but there seems to be something very sinister at play. Not helped by the refusal of the other “players” to stay out of it once it becomes clear this is a real crime.

Frankie and her team are racing against time as more clues appear and the amateur sleuths put themselves at risk, getting far too involved. But who is the killer and what is their endgame?

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life – Caroline Day*

In learning to write about her life, will Hope Nicely finally learn how to live it?

‘I don’t have any friends, only dog ones, because they don’t make you do bad things. I don’t want any human friends, actually. It’s for the best.’

Hope Nicely hasn’t had an easy life.

But she’s happy enough living at 23 Station Close with her mum, Jenny Nicely, and she loves her job, walking other people’s dogs. She’s a bit different, but as Jenny always tells her, she’s a rainbow person, a special drop of light.
It’s just . . . there’s something she needs to know.

Why did her birth mother abandon her in a cardboard box on a church step twenty-five years ago? And did she know that drinking while pregnant could lead to Hope being born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder? In a bid to find her birth mother and the answers to these questions, Hope decides to write her autobiography.

Despite having been bullied throughout school, Hope bravely joins an evening class where Hope will not only learn the lessons of writing (including the number one golden rule of ‘show don’t tell’), but may also begin to discover more about the world around her, about herself and even make some (human) friends.But when Jenny suddenly falls ill, Hope realises there are many more lessons to come . . .
Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life is a heart-warming, coming-of-age novel about loneliness, friendship, acceptance and, above all, hope.


Caroline Day is a freelance journalist and consultant editor, living in Crouch End, married with kids and two dogs. She is an alumnus of the Curtis Brown Creative novel-writing course.

My thoughts:

I loved this book, I loved Hope. It’s sweet and sad and so hopeful. Hope has had a lot to deal with – her FASD is a lot to deal with and has led to some terrible bullying. But with the love and support of her wonderful mum Jenny, she has found ways to live her life happily. She has the best job – getting to play with lots of lovely dogs and is attending a writing class, so she can write her story.

Hope is resilient and inspiring. And this book had me laughing and crying. Honestly it’s so wonderful. More Hope Nicely please!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness – Laura Bambrey*

Tori Williamson is alone. After a tragic event left her isolated from her loved ones, she’s been struggling to find her way back to, well – herself. That’s why she set up her blog, The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness, as a way of – anonymously – connecting with the outside world and reaching others who just need a little help sometimes.
 
When she’s offered a free spot on a wellbeing retreat in exchange for a review on her blog, Tori is anxious about opening herself up to new surroundings. But after her three closest friends – who she talks to online but has never actually met – convince her it’ll do her some good, she reluctantly agrees and heads off for three weeks in the wild (well, a farm in Wales).
 
From the moment she arrives, Tori is sceptical and quickly finds herself drawn to fellow sceptic Than, the retreat’s dark and mysterious latecomer. But as the beauty of The Farm slowly comes to light she realizes that opening herself up might not be the worst thing. And sharing a yurt with fellow retreater Bay definitely isn’t.  Will the retreat be able to fix Tori? Or will she finally learn that being lonely doesn’t mean she’s broken . . .
 
Welcome to The Beginner’s Guide to Loneliness! Where you can learn to move mountains by picking up the smallest of stones…

My thoughts: this was lovely, Tori is lonely and deeply sad, still grieving her mother’s death and the break up of her relationship. On a trip to review The Farm she starts to open up and recover. We all deal with tragedy in different ways and Tori is no different. The ways in which the gentle therapeutic methods of the The Farm help her heal are mostly kindness and friendship – things we all need.

I loved Doreen and Raven, honestly the other guests were a delight. Tori is a sweetheart and I wanted to reach through the pages and give her a hug. And there’s a delightfully slobbery dog too! The book is a tonic, so enjoy.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Safekeeping – Eva Mackenzie

No one ever thinks they’ll get caught…

Moments before police arrive on the scene of a car accident in rural Montana, Sonia has time to make one phone call. With one word whispered, she sets off an unstoppable chain of events. Once police arrive, she confesses to the brutal murder of her stepsister, Emma.

After, she’s sentenced to life in prison where she learns her stepfather’s ruthless reach. It’s a game of cat and mouse– a game she has already lost. She only needs to hold on long enough to be sure her secret is kept safe.

Until one day, news of an unidentified man’s death confirms her worst fear, and Sonia must get out of prison, at all cost. What did the dead man say, and who heard him say it?

Because everyone is guilty of something…

Add to Goodreads Available on Amazon

Eva Mackenzie is an author who enjoys twisty, emotionally engrossing tales. Her debut novel has been a work in progress for over a decade. Under the urging of a loved one, it’s finally finished.

She is a wife and mother living on the east coast. When she isn’t writing, she is spending time with her family, training for her next marathon or reading stacks of suspense novels. Some of her favorite authors are Minka Kent, Dean Koontz, Tami Hoag, and Lisa Jackson.

Eva Mackenzie | Facebook | Instagram GoodreadsNewsletter

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My thoughts: this book did not go the way I expected from either the blurb or the opening scenes. Alternating between characters, this clever thriller sends you all over trying to work out who the good guys are and how Sonia, stuck in prison, can ever help anyone, least of all herself. Why did she confess to Emma’s murder and who is she so desperate to protect?

The ending felt a little harried – but I suppose that did give a sense of the desperation and terror the characters were feeling in that moment and there were a few loose ends I wanted resolved. But hopefully the author will revisit the law firm (for instance) and round off the stories there at some point. Overall though, this was an enjoyable domestic noir thriller with a suitably awful villain and very brave protagonists.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.