Sunday 28 February 2021

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin BLOG TOUR @itsmcronin @RandomTTours @DoubledayUK @alisonbarrow #LenniAndMargot


Life is short. No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni living on the terminal ward. But as she is about to learn, it's not only what you make of life that matters, but who you share it with.

Dodging doctor's orders, she joins an art class where she bumps into fellow patient Margot, a rebel-hearted eight-three-year-old from the next ward. Their bond is instant as they realize that together they have lived an astonishing one hundred years.

To celebrate their shared century, they decide to paint their life stories: of growing old and staying young, of giving joy, of receiving kindness, of losing love, of finding the person who is everything.

As their extraordinary friendship deepens, it becomes vividly clear that life is not done with Lenni and Margot yet.

Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life even when it is about to be taken away, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need them most.

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin was published on 18 February 2021 by Doubleday / Transworld. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review for this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour 

The sign of a very good book, in this house, is one with multiple folded corners and bit of paper slotted between the pages, marking certain passages that have really resonated. My copy of The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is just like that. It's a book that I could open on most pages and find a wonderful, resonating and beautifully written sentence to read out, and to remember.

This book is really quite beautiful, it's imaginative and quirky, it's funny, it's heartbreaking and it's all just so real. Marianne Cronin is just thirty-years-old, and started to write this novel in 2014. It is incredible to believe that anyone of such a tender age could have quite that much wisdom,  and such talent. What a treat we have in store for us if her next books are anything like this one. 

Set in a hospital, the two main protagonists; Lenni and Margot are both near the end of life. Lenni is just seventeen and is angry, she knows she has so much more living that she could do. Margot is eighty-three and has had a life that has been filled to the brim with loves and losses. Between them, they've been on this earth for one hundred years and when they meet, at a hospital art club they decide they will create one hundred pictures. One picture for one memory. 

It's an unusual and compelling premise and a fabulous way to tell the story of the lives of two very different, but very strong and wilful women. The reader learns so much about Lenni, who despite her young age, has experienced some sadnesses in her personal life that many of us will never encounter. She's a quirky, outspoken, funny character and her interactions with the people she meets within the hospital setting are joyous. The special friendship that is built between Lenni and Margot is so tender and really quite special. However Margot is not the only friend that Lenni finds. She chances upon the hospital priest, Father Arthur, one day when she visits the chapel (out of curiosity, not any spiritual calling). Arthur is coming to the end of his career, contemplating life out of the hospital, until Lenni arrives and poses some probing and almost impossible to answer questions. 

Margot's story is told in a series of flash backs, based on the individual pictures that she paints for their project, and as the reader learns more about her and her somewhat unusual history, we begin to understand her. 

Throughout this story there is an incredible overwhelming feeling of love and discovery. It is incredibly moving but never ever sentimental. It confirms to the reader how much joy can be gained through finding true friendship and how the kindness of others can make any situation feel easier.

An utter and total delight. Wonderful characters who worm their way into your life and leave little traces on your heart. I've found myself thinking of Lenni and Margot many times over the past few weeks. 

Highly recommended. Fans of Mike Gayle, Anna McPartlin and Joanna Cannon will love this book. 

Marianne Cronin was born in 1990. She studied English and Creative Writing at Lancaster
University before earning a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Birmingham. She now spends most of her time writing, with her newly-adopted rescue cat sleeping under her desk. When she's not writing, Marianne can be found performing improv and stand up in the West Midlands, where she lives.

Her debut novel The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is to be published around the world and is being adapted into a feature film by Sony/Columbia Pictures. It has been sold in 25 territories to date.

Twitter @itsmcronin

Marianne Cronin says:

I started writing a few days after a girl I'd known at university had passed away of a terminal illness and I remember going to the big Tesco that day and having this feeling that all the people around me didn't know she had lived or died and it got me thinking about the mark we leave on the world. I had known the girl through our university course and whenever we'd worked together, she was lovely but quite shy. When she died, a lot of her closer friends and carers wrote on Facebook about her sense of humour and her cheeky personality - a side that I hadn't seen to her myself and I wondered if maybe I hadn't been looking hard enough and that played a big part in Lenni's creation - that the outside world might see her as one thing, but in reality she is a firecracker of a personality.

Then with my own experienced in hospital (which were investigations for my heart) I found myself thinking a lot about my own mortality and when I was having an ultrasound on my heart it really hit me how fragile the whole system keeping me alive is.  While waiting for appointments, I found myself paying a lot of attention to all the little details in the hospital, but also saw a lot of the funny side too, such as when I was strapped to an ECG machine and asked to run on a treadmill without a top on - not my finest hour!

Friday 26 February 2021

The Heart Stone by Judith Barrow BLOG TOUR @judithbarrow77 @RandomTTours @honno #Win #Giveaway #Competition


1914 - and everything changes for Jessie on a day trip to Blackpool. She realises her true feelings for her childhood friend, Arthur. Then just as they are travelling home from this rare treat, war is declared.

Arthur lies about his age to join his Pals' Regiment. Jessie's widowed mother is so frightened of the future, she agrees to marry the vicious Amos Morgan, making Jessie's home an unsafe place for her. Before he leaves, Arthur and Jessie admit their feelings and promise to wait for each other. Arthur gives Jessie a heart-shaped stone to remember him. But with Arthur far away, their love leaves Jessie with a secret that will see her thrown from her home and terribly abused when she can hide the truth no longer.

Faced with a desperate choice between love and safety, Jessie must fight for survival, whatever the cost.

The Heart Stone by Judith Barrow was published on 18 February 2021 by Honno Welsh Woman's Press. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to offer one print copy to one blog reader. Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget in this blog post. UK entries only.


One print copy of The Heart Stone by Judith Barrow

Judith Barrow,originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines,has lived
in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for over forty years.

She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David's College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University. 

She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.

Thursday 25 February 2021

When Harry Met Minnie by Martha Teichner BLOG TOUR #WhenHarryMetMinnie @Octopus_Books @RandomTTours #Win #Competition #Giveaway


There are true fairy tales. Stories that exist because impossible-to-explain coincidences change everything. Except in real life, not all of them have conventional, happily-ever-after endings...

This Manhattan tale of laughter and tears charts the Nora Ephron-esque love story between two "complicated" dogs, Harry and Minnie, and the gift of unexpected friendship they gave to their owners, Carol and Martha.

Carol, who is dying of cancer caused by the toxic pollution in New York in the aftermath of 9/11, needs someone to take care of Harry, who is a 'great listener but does have a problem with large dogs. He is great with smaller dogs. If he sees a hose he will destroy it to protect you. He will figure out ways to let you know exactly how he feels'. When Martha has a chance encounter with Carol's friend, he can't help but notice Minnie, 'oh those chunky little legs', and so the matchmaking begins. After a disastrous first meeting, when Minnie doesn't appear to think much of Harry (who is super keen), things improve and soon they are inseparable. As Carol's illness progresses, so a new friendship and community blossoms, Carol's Club.

The bonds that grew changed Martha's life, Carol's life, Minnie's life and Harry's life. And they changed Carol's death as well.

In this rich and touching narrative, Martha considers the ways our stories are shaped by the people we meet, and the profound love we can find by opening our hearts to unexpected encounters.

When Harry Met Minnie by Martha Teichner was published on 18 February 2021 by Aster / Octopus Books.

As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to be able to give away one print copy to one blog reader.  Entry is simple, just fill out the competition widget in this blog post. UK entries only please.


One copy of When Harry Met Minnie by Martha Teichner

Martha Teichner has been a correspondent for “CBS Sunday Morning” since December 1993, where
she’s equally adept at covering major breaking national and international news stories as she is handling in-depth cultural and arts topics. 
Since joining CBS News in 1977, Teichner has earned multiple national awards for her original reporting, including twelve Emmy Awards and five James Beard Foundation Awards. 
Teichner was also part of team coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which earned CBS News a 2014 duPont-Columbia Award. 
Teichner was born in Traverse City, Mich. 
She graduated from Wellesley College in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. 
She attended the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business Administration. 
Teichner resides in New York City.

Wednesday 24 February 2021

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles @skesliencharles #TheParisLibrary @TwoRoadsBooks #BookReview #WW2Fiction


PARIS, 1939
Odile Souchet is obsessed with books, and her new job at the American Library in Paris - with its thriving community of students, writers and book lovers - is a dream come true. When war is declared, the Library is determined to remain open. But then the Nazis invade Paris, and everything changes.
In Occupied Paris, choices as black and white as the words on a page become a murky shade of grey - choices that will put many on the wrong side of history, and the consequences of which will echo for decades to come.

Lily is a lonely teenage desperate to escape small-town Montana. She grows close to her neighbour Odile, discovering they share the same love of language, the same longings. But as Lily uncovers more about Odile's mysterious past, she discovers a dark secret, closely guarded and long hidden.

Based on the true Second World War story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable novel of romance, friendship, family, and of heroism found in the quietest of places.

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles was published on 9 February 2021 by Two Roads. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

This review was originally published in S Magazine

Based on the true accounts of the librarians of the American Library in Paris during the Second World War, this is a novel that celebrates books, libraries and the power of reading.

Teenage Lily lives in a small Montana town during the 1980s. Her neighbour, Odile,  is known locally as ‘the war-bride’. As Lily’s family life becomes more difficult, she seeks refuge in Odile’s house. Lily and Odile form a wonderful friendship and Lily discovers so much about Odile’s life during the war, and how she came to live in the US.

In 1939, young Odile secures her dream job at the American Library in Paris. Odile is a disappointment to her parents who just wish that she’d find a wealthy man to marry. When the Nazis invade Paris, the staff, volunteers and books at the Library are under threat. Odile and her colleagues face dangers that they could never have imagined, yet they are determined that they will continue to spread joy through books, no matter how dangerous that is. 

The author’s experiences of working at the American Library in Paris shine through in this delightful richly detailed novel. She has created a world filled with characters, some based on real people, who are an absolute joy to follow. From the atrocities carried out by the Nazis, to the fearless acts of bravery and courage shown by ordinary people, this is an irresistible and utterly compelling novel that will appeal to bibliophiles, and lovers of intricate historical fiction. 

Janet Skeslien Charles is the award-winning author of Moonlight in Odessa and The Paris Library.
Her shorter work has appeared in revues such as Slice and Montana Noir. 

She learned about the history of the American Library in Paris while working there as the programs manager. 

She divides her time between Montana and Paris.

Author Page on Facebook

Twitter @skesliencharles

Instagram @jskesliencharles

Tuesday 23 February 2021

A Box Of Stories - Book Subscription Box @aboxofstories #Discount #BookSubsciption


I was recently contacted by the lovely folk at A Box of Stories. They told me all about their fabulous work where they supply subscription boxes of books.

Their aim is to allow readers to discover books that may not have had huge marketing budgets. Books that may have slipped under your radar.

They also support literacy charities by donating a proportion of their profits

Our Mission

Why amazing books stay undiscovered

Approximately 200,000 titles are published every year in the UK. Just 17% of these are lucky enough to get a decent marketing budget and make it to the ‘Bestsellers’ List created via the media and in bookstores.

Among the other 83% are many amazing books and new authors that get squeezed out of sight in the marketing blitz of the selected known bestsellers. And there they stay...undiscovered.

How do we change that?

So how does one discover these hidden gems that typically rely on strong word of mouth to get referred?

We curate titles that have sold in decent numbers. We then hand over the job to our Algorithm, which combines reviews from leading book forums, rankings on websites, critic reviews, blogs and sales figures from publishers, to create boxes that are guaranteed to delight a book lover. We have developed the capability to combine seemingly unrelated titles from across multiple publishers and genres into meaningful boxes.

Every Box is a new story

Unlike subscription websites that have a pre-decided box of 1 or 2 books, selected by their editors every month, we have absolutely no idea what our algorithm is going to put together for the next order it receives.

Our Promise

Every time you open a box you will discover an author or a book that you might not have otherwise come across or selected. We hope that once you read them and love them, you will then spread the word, so that more book lovers can discover these authors and their stories.

Paying it Forward

We like to think we’re creating a big happy circle. That’s why we give a percentage of our profits to charities working for literacy, so we can all keep spreading the joy of reading across the globe.

A Box of Stories offer six different types of boxes, to suit your tastes and if you sign up and use my exclusive code you can get a 

30% saving on your first box!!

Use the discount code: annecater when you order


Uncover a world of amazing new voices and undiscovered authors.

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Our original mystery book box sets you up with four of the very best undiscovered fiction books, all of which have resonated with book lovers around the world. Where these four gems from leading publishers may have otherwise have gone unnoticed or been lost forever, now these stories can reach those that will love them most.

Each surprise mystery box is carefully curated by our dedicated team, helped by algorithms looking through thousands of highly reviewed books that never got the chance they deserved.


Unbox a world of inspiring new voices and surprising tales.

A moving story, an unexpected revelation, an unforgettable experience. What will you find in your box?

Perfect for the adventurous reader, our mystery mixed box spans a wide selection of genres with at least one Non-fiction book alongside a variety of Fiction books. We select four of the very best undiscovered fiction and non-fiction books from leading publishers, all of which have resonated with book lovers around the world.

Each surprise mystery box is carefully curated by our dedicated team, helped by algorithms looking through thousands of highly reviewed books to help save these stories from being lost forever.


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If you're after new stories that set you on the edge of your seat and keep you turning the pages as you try to figure out what happens next, then this is the box for you. We've put on our detective hats and unearthed four of the very best books that might just have gotten away. These lesser known gems by leading publishers have all resonated with genre enthusiasts around the world.

Each surprise mystery box is carefully curated by our dedicated team, helped by algorithms looking through thousands of highly reviewed books to help save these stories from being lost forever.


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For the adventurers, the dreamers, the romantics and the readers, our box of YA titles is perfect whether you're a teen, tween or adult. You will receive four new books from a mix of romance, comedy, historical fiction, fantasy, crime and mystery and more. Exploring themes of friendship, love, family and self-discovery, these gems are perfect for those looking for new stories and authors they may not have heard of.

Each surprise mystery box is carefully curated by our dedicated team, helped by algorithms looking through thousands of highly reviewed books to help save these stories from being lost forever.


Meet new characters brought to life by fabulous authors.

A blind date, a swift adventure, an unforgettable experience. What will you find in your box?

For those looking for a quick escape and a light story, you've come to the right box. We worked hard to find the best easy reads you might otherwise have missed out on. These lesser known gems by leading publishers have all resonated with others that love light reads around the world.

Each surprise mystery box is carefully curated by our dedicated team, helped by algorithms looking through thousands of highly reviewed books to help save these stories from being lost forever.


Transport yourself to old worlds in unexpected new ways.

A time of mystery, a tale of conflict, a period of wonder. From medieval clashes to the swinging 60s, where will your box take you?

For those that love to lose themselves in the times and places of yesterday, our Historical Fiction box pulls together four undiscovered stories that bring their worlds to life. We've travelled through the ages to bring you four of the very best books that might just have gotten away. These lesser known gems by leading publishers have all resonated with genre enthusiasts around the world.

Each surprise mystery box is carefully curated by our dedicated team, helped by algorithms looking through thousands of highly reviewed books to help save these stories from being lost forever.


  • Surprise box of four brand new hand-picked books
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Monday 22 February 2021

Close Your Eyes by Rachel Abbott BLOG TOUR @RachelAbbott #CloseYourEyes @RandomTTours #BookReview #TomDouglas


Don't let him under your skin. He'll destroy you.

Don't fight him. He'll win.

Run. Never let him find you.

I thought I was safe here, but I'm not. I've stayed too long. Now Genevieve is dead, and the police are on their way. It's time for me to go.

I must stick to the plan - the one I made the day I arrived in this city. My bag is packed. It always is. I will destroy every shred of evidence of my existence. The police must never find me. If they do, so will he. 

I made a mistake, and someone had to die. But I'm the one who has truly lost her life.

I need to make a choice. If I keep running, I'll never stop. If I go back, he will make me suffer. 

How many lives can one person ruin?

A Tom Douglas thriller

Close Your Eyes by Rachel Abbott was published on 11 February 2021 by Black Dot Publishing. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review, as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 

Close Your Eyes is the latest in the long-running Tom Douglas thriller series, and whilst I haven't read all of the previous books featuring Tom, I've enjoyed every single one of those that I have read. 

Tom is called out to the scene of a murder. It's early in the morning and his colleague Becky's phone call wakes him from his sleep. The body of a woman has been found in an alley, not far from her own home. It's a strange case. The woman's husband returned home from a business meeting and thought his wife had gone to bed. It was only much later that he realised she was not in the house and using a tracking app on her phone, he discovered her bloodied body.

Nobody can understand why Genevieve Strachan would leave her home, late at night, wearing high heels, and end up battered and stabbed. Murdered just minutes away from her own front door, with no clue as to why.

Genevieve's husband Niall is the CEO of a tech company, just about to break through with a highly advanced tracking app.  His company, XO-Tech have a small workforce and when the investigation team visit the offices, it becomes clear that there's one person who doesn't want to be involved in any questioning. Martha Porter is the office manager, and whilst she knows everything there is to know about the workings of XO-Tech, not one of her colleagues knows the first thing about her. When Martha disappears, immediately after Genevieve's murder, she puts herself right into the limelight.

Close Your Eyes is far more than only a police procedural novel. Whilst the intricacies of the investigation are very well portrayed and the reader learns a lot about the team work involved, it is the sub-plot concerning Martha that really drives the story.

The author deals with some extremely serious and disturbing issues as the reader learns more about Martha, and her previous life. It becomes incredibly clear why she has created such an impenetrable world around herself, and why she desperately needs to flee from any intense scrutiny from outsiders.

It's cleverly and well thought-out, the police investigation ties in neatly with the revelations about Martha and doubts are cast throughout. The reader is taken on a twisting and turning road to what is a superb and satisfying conclusion to the entire story. 

Close Your Eyes is dark, sharp and compelling. Tightly plotted and thrilling writing from an author who really does know how to tell a story. Recommended by me

Rachel Abbott's debut thriller, Only the Innocent, was an international bestseller, reaching the number one position in the Amazon charts both in the UK and US. This was followed by the number one bestselling novels The Back Road, Sleep Tight and Stranger Child,Nowhere Child (a short novel based on the characters from Stranger Child), Kill Me Again, The Sixth Window, Come a Little Closer, The Shape of Lies and Right Behind You. Close Your Eyes - the 10th in the Tom Douglas series - was released in February 2021.

In 2018 Rachel released the first book in a new series - And So It Begins. This was followed by The Murder Game in 2020 (The Invitation in the US).

Rachel's novels have now been translated into over 20 languages.

In 2015 Amazon celebrated the first five years of the Kindle in the UK, and announced that Rachel was the number one bestselling independent author over the five-year period. She was also placed fourteenth in the chart of all authors. Stranger Child was the most borrowed novel for the Kindle in the first half of 2015.

Rachel now lives in Alderney - a beautiful island off the coast of France - and spends a few months of each year in the Le Marche regions of Italy, where she devotes her time to her love of writing fiction. For more information, see Rachel's website at, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.