Sunday 29 May 2022

Meredith Alone by Claire Alexander #MeredithAlone @ClaireAWriter @MichaelJBooks @CiaraB_1 #BookReview


Meredith Maggs hasn't left her house in 1,214 days.But she insists she isn't alone.

She has her cat, Fred. Her friend Sadie visits when she can. There's her online support group, StrengthInNumbers. She has her jigsaws, favourite recipes, her beloved Emily Dickinson, the internet, the Tesco delivery man and her treacherous memories for company.

But something's about to change.

First, new friends Tom and Celeste burst into her life, followed by an estranged sister she hasn't spoken to in years, and suddenly her carefully curated home is no longer a safe place to hide.

Whether Meredith likes it or not, the world is coming to her door . . .

Meredith Alone by Claire Alexander is published by Michael Joseph on 9 June 2022, my thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

I am more than a little in love with Meredith Maggs! She truly is one of the most magnificent characters that I've ever come across. This is a beautifully written novel, with dashes of humour, a touch of heart break and a little bit of darkness, but always totally overshadowed by the sheer brilliance of Meredith's character.

Meredith has not left the house in 1214 days. She's a young woman, just forty years old, she has a job, she has a best friend, but she hasn't stepped foot over her doorstep for years. 

The story is cleverly told; in the present day, as Meredith's lonely life continues, and then with flash backs to both her childhood years, and to the events that led up to her self-imposed isolation.  Despite the fact that Meredith doesn't go outside, she does keep herself pretty busy. Her house is spotless, she bakes wonderful cakes and is expert at completing jigsaws, she also loves to read. She's  a freelance writer, so has work to get on with, she has an exercise routine, and of course, she has her constant companion Fred, the cat.

The only people who ever come to Meredith's house are her best friend from school, Sadie, who brings her two children along, and the Tesco online delivery guy. However, she's expecting a new visitor. Tom is a volunteer with the Helping Hands charity and is going to be a supportive visitor. For Meredith, this is huge but she gradually accepts Tom into her life and before long they are doing jigsaws together whilst Tom laps up her baking skills. Meredith speaks online to her counsellor, and she's a member of an online forum for people who are lonely. Recently, she's been in contact with Celeste, another forum user and for the first time, seems to have struck up more than the usual online association.

Meredith is estranged from her mother and her sister, despite the fact that she and her sister were once so very close. As the reader learns more about Meredith's younger years, and the abusive relationships she was part of, we begin to understand why she feels so much safer indoors. Locked away from potential heartbreak, disappointment and dangers. 

The appearance of both Tom and Celeste seem to spark something in Meredith, and she begins to take the smallest steps to regaining her life. As she does, she deals with her past issues, finally facing up to them and realising that she's not to blame for other people's actions. 

I adored this book. I was totally invested in Meredith and cheered for her every step of the way. The author's character creation is just wonderful, beginning with Meredith herself, right down to the small boy who lives on the same street. Each and every one of them are perfectly drawn and I felt as much a part of Meredith's life as they were. 

It's a heart tugger at times,  there's some revelations that are really emotionally challenging, but it's also a story that is filled with love and hope and the power of friendship. 

Wonderful, one of my books of the year, for sure, Highly recommended. 

Claire Alexander lives with her young family on the west coast of Scotland. 

A freelance journalist, she has written about parenting, sobriety, mental health and wellbeing for publications including The Washington Post,The Independent, The Huffington Post and Glamour. 

When she's not writing or parenting, she's on her paddle board, thinking about her next book.

Twitter @ClaireAWriter

Only May by Carol Lovekin BLOG TOUR #OnlyMay @carollovekin @honno @RandomTTours #BookReview



The bee walks across my finger, slow as anything and I can see through the gauzy wing, to the detail of my skin. 

You aren’t looking in the right place. 

If you look her in the eye and tell a lie, May Harper will see it. And if she doesn’t see it, the bees will hum it in her ear. 

Her kind mother and her free-spirited aunt have learned to choose their words with care. 

Her beloved invalid father lives in a world of his own, lost in another time, the war he cannot forget. 

On May’s seventeenth birthday, a casual evasion from her employer hints at a secret hiding at the heart of the family. 

Determined to discover the truth, May starts listening at doors… 

She begins watching the faces of the people she loves best in all the world, those she suspects are hiding the biggest lie of all.

Only May by Carol Lovekin was published on 18 May 2022 by Honno Press. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour. 

I truly believe in the power of bibliotherapy. I believe that books and the words within them can heal. It is such a simple thing for the majority of people, to be able to pick up a book and lose oneself in the story between the pages. The ability to turn off the world and submerge yourself in another one. 

I have long admired Carol Lovekin's writing, in fact her books have featured in my top books of the year in the past, so I opened up Only May with high expectations. I read this novel during a time that has been particularly difficult for me emotionally and I can honestly say that it really has smoothed out parts of my heart that were a little bit cracked and jagged. There is such power in this story, such magic in the prose. It is utterly breathtaking, my copy has multiple folded corners, marking yet another wonderfully written passage that I never want to forget. 

Set in the 1950s, in Wales. May and her family live in a small community that still bears the battle scars of the War.  May is seventeen and she has only ever known her father Billy as he is today. A broken man, wounded both physically and emotionally by his wartime experiences. May never saw the young, energetic, vibrant young man who went off to war, but her mother Esme remembers that boy with longing. 

Esme works hard, she keeps a spotless house, she tends the garden and she works shifts at the local hotel. May also works there, but prefers to spend her time in the nearby woodland, connecting with nature, and especially with the bees. She also spends time with her Aunt Ffion, an independent woman who lives alone in a ramshackle caravan in the woods. 

May has a gift. She knows when people are lying to her. Only her closest family know about this, and it is these people who May discovers are keeping the biggest secrets from her. As she becomes a woman, she also discovers that the life that she thought she had wasn't true. She isn't who she believes she is, and this news is devastating. 

It is not for me to reveal any more of this story, it belongs to the author, and she tells it far more beautifully than I could ever hope to. What I can say is that is really is a special story, filled with characters who are rounded and well thought out, who the reader can believe in and relate to. It is a very female focussed cast of characters, with the males taking a secondary role throughout, although Billy is beautifully imagined. His pain and fear shines from the page, as does Esme's devotion and determination to make sure that he is as comfortable as possible. 

It is young May who is the true star of the story. A girl with her life ahead of her, but with so much wisdom and thoughtfulness. Her connection to nature is so well described, she's a joy to discover. 

Only May is a complex, riveting novel. It is extraordinarily good. Perceptive, profound and deeply moving. Very highly recommended by me. 

Carol Lovekin has Irish blood and a Welsh heart. 

She was born in Warwickshire and has lived in mid Wales since 1979. 

A feminist, she finds fiction the perfect vehicle for telling women’s collective stories. 

Her books reflect her love of the landscape and mythology of her adopted home.

Instagram @carollovekin

Saturday 28 May 2022

The Daughters by Julia Crouch #BooksOnTour BLOG TOUR @thatjuliacrouch @bookouture #BookReview


My father said my mother killed herself. My sister says he's lying.

The day of our mother's funeral, my little sister Lucy and I clung to our father's side.

He promised he'd get us through it, and we believed him.

But then I discovered that the coffin we wept over was empty.

Dad says he was trying to protect us - that he thought it would be easier to grieve if we didn't know our mother's body was never found.

His new wife says she just wants to help us move on from the past.

Then Lucy has a flash of memory that leaves her shaking. Our father. A woman. A knife...

She insists she knows something about the day our mother died, but it's buried too deep to see clearly.

What happened to our mother? I need to find the truth. But I have no idea who I can trust. And what if the answer puts my life in danger? 

A completely gripping psychological thriller that will make your heart pound as you try to decide who is telling the truth. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.

The Daughters by Julia Crouch was published on 26 May 2022 by Bookouture. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review, as part of this #BooksOnTour Blog Tour 

I've always enjoyed Julia Crouch's books, I read and reviewed her previous novel, The New Mother in October last year. I was really happy to get a copy of The Daughters and started reading with a sense of anticipation.

Set in London, we are introduced to the two adult daughters of Bill and Alice in the opening pages. Sarah, the eldest, is living in Australia, whilst younger sister Lucy is based in London. Sarah watches via video link as her sister and father lay flowers, to remember the death of Alice.  Also present is Carys, Bill's second wife, step-mother to Sarah and Lucy and mother to Binnie; Bill's newest daughter. 

It is clear that Sarah is a unhappy, almost bitter woman. Still reeling from the unexpected death of her mother and totally against Cary's involvement in their lives. Alice was a much loved and respected family GP who took her own life. Sarah has uncovered details about the aftermath of Alice's death, things that were hidden from her Lucy, and she's going home. Determined to uncover the truth about Alice's death and find out just what really happened. 

This is a twisty psychological thriller that takes one family and slowly and carefully dissects it. Each character is flawed, from the controlling nature of Bill, to Lucy's desperate self-harming behaviour and Carys' hidden past. 

As the reader learns more about the circumstances of each character, their opinion of what may have gone on will change. The introduction of Ajay, a clinical hypnotist is really clever and explores the intricacies of the human brain, and how memories are made. As Lucy undergoes therapy, she makes some startling revelations that will rock the family to the core, but are these memories actually real? Is Lucy taking parts of different experiences and creating a whole new happening, and just how exactly is hypnotist Ajay connected to the case?

I enjoyed this story. The characters are, in the main, quite deplorable, yet are so skilfully created at the same time. It's a complex story, with many strands that are woven together cleverly, building up to the shocking conclusion. A real page turner. 

Julia Crouch spent ten years working in theatre, then, after a spell of teaching, she somehow became a graphic and website designer, a career she followed for another decade while raising her three children. An MA in sequential illustration re-awoke her love of story-telling and a couple of Open University creative writing courses brought it to the fore.

Cuckoo, her first novel, emerged as a very rough draft during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in 2008. A year's editing got it ready for submission to an agent and within a couple of months she had a book deal with Headline and had given up the day job.

Every Vow You Break, her second novel, was published in March 2012, Tarnished, her third, came out in 2013, followed by Every Vow You Break in 2014, Her Husband's Lover in 2017 and The New Mother in 2021. She is also published in Italy, France, Germany, Holland, Brazil, China and Ukraine.

Unable to find a sub-genre of crime writing that neatly described her work, she came up with the term Domestic Noir, which is now widely accepted as the label for one of the most popular crime genres today. She has even written a foreword to a book of academic essays on the subject.

She works in a shed at the bottom of the Brighton house she shares with her husband, the actor and playwright Tim Crouch, their three children, two cats called Keith and Sandra, a dog called Uncle, and about twelve guitars (you can find #Keith, who has his own hashtag, on twitter). She is a self-confessed geek and fights a daily battle to resist tinkering with the code on her website, which can be found at

Twitter @thatjuliacrouch

Author page on Facebook

Friday 27 May 2022

Unaccustomed To Grace by Lesley Bannatyne BLOG TOUR #UnaccustomedToGrace @BannatyneLesley @RandomTTours

Unaccustomed to Grace is a collection of short stories where the unlikely outcome for irresponsible acts and unfortunate events result in redemption. 

Bannatyne's mastery of the written word informs these stories of common conflict with a brilliantine magic rarely found in contemporary literature. 

From the unlikely romance between a zoo employee and a spiritualist/activist to the redemption of a grandmother's long-rehearsed vengeance, these heart-warming stories are the contemporary fables we need in these stressful days.

Unaccustomed to Grace by Lesley Bannatyne was published on 8 March 2022 by Kallisto Gaia Press. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I'm delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 

Extract from Unaccustomed To Grace 
by Lesley Bannatyne

Corpse Walks into a Bar

JUST ME THERE AROUND CLOSING and Sid the owner is back in the kitchen loading highball glasses into the dishwasher and this corpse stumbles in and starts going on about how I gotta bury him. The juke is pumping heavy metal because that’s what Sid likes and it’s just me in the bar so he doesn’t care. Well it’s not just me and that’s the problem here.

“You’re none of my business,” I say to the corpse. “I don’t know you. I don’t know your people.”

“A decent person would honor a dead man’s request,” the corpse says. “A decent man would help a pal,” he says.

“You’re not my pal,” I say, eyes steady on my glass. “And I’m not a decent man.”

“You don’t have to be a decent man to do a decent thing.”

“Right.” I grab my jacket and head for the door. The corpse lets out this long spew of rot breath and starts to wail. I mean, really wail, like he’s crying for the sadness of everyone that ever lived, for the mothers that lost their babies right inside their own stomachs, for the little kids that wandered into swim- ming pools. I mean a deep, shin-splitting, gutted kind of crying.

I take a good look at him. Skinny guy, couldn’t have been much to him even when he was alive. Feet too big for his body. Not that old, maybe 50s. Thinning black hair combed straight back and shellacked. Hands—a little pulpy.

“What’s your name?” I ask.

“Dick Doyle.” He smooths his rumpled button-down. 

“Can you walk alright?”

“No,” he says, rubbing his eyes with a filthy sleeve. 

Every instinct says leave the bar. Go home. But when a man cries, well, I don’t know. What’s the harm, I think. I put on my jacket, sling the corpse’s arm over my shoulder. I know that this is not my last mistake.

Fucker still weighs about 120 pounds and I got arthritis in my shoulder from when I dislocated it when I was ten. August, me and Ray down by the Neponset River behind the power plant where the water’s always warm. Tied a fat rope to a sycamore and climbed up to swing out. But Ray pantsed me and shoved me from the tree so I flew out over the water with one arm holding onto the rope and the other holding onto my shorts. Doc eventually snapped the shoulder back into place. Man that hurt, but we laughed for years about me swinging Tarzan-style over the river with my white ass hanging out. It used to make me happy to think of us all as kids—me, my little sister Patty, Ray. Now I stuff the memories as far down as I can. When they pop up, I hammer them back.

“I can pay you,” the corpse says. “I’m serious. You bury me and I’ll sign over my store.”

“What store?”

“Stationery store. I’m not nobody, you know.”

I couldn’t turn it over in my head. I tried to picture the guy not as a corpse. Like a regular guy, with all his skin. Tried to imagine him in a sweater, pushing buttons on a cash register. Couldn’t do it.

I’m thinking I should leave the corpse at a shelter or church where someone would find out who he was and call the right people. Guy’d get put in a potter’s field. Or maybe they’d make his ashes into diamonds and sell them. They do that now, turn bodies into diamonds. The carbon. Only takes a pound of ashes, says my ex-buddy Ray, and he reads the Globe every day. I wouldn’t have turned Patty into diamonds for a million bucks. Buried her right, in a nice coffin, St. Mary’s. Rose quartz stone.

Praise for Unaccustomed to Grace 

There is a clear-hearted and humane writer at work here, whose work holds room for both suffering and grace.
--Shruti Swami, A House is a Body and The Archer

Bannatyne’s stories are full of heartache and loss, but they are never bleak or cynical. [She] is a superb writer of the mind, but an even greater reader of the heart. This book, filled with characters caught in between futility and redemption, was, for me, an exercise—a deliberation—in empathy."
--Sui Li, 5 Under 35 honoree, Transoceanic Lights

From macabre fantasy to raw reality, Lesley Bannatyne's terrific stories introduce an authentic voice and unique vision. UNACCUSTOMED TO GRACE revels in danger, in warped heroes, in ebullient—sometimes devastating—fearlessness. A wise and thoroughly enjoyable book!”
Daphne Kalotay, Russian Winter, The Blue Hours

These carefully observed, sometimes surreal stories capture characters in freefall. Each one—wolf wrangler, tarot card reader, guru, anthropologist, Soviet farmer, or parents of children taken, gone, returned, or fragile—will find a place in your heart.
—Vanessa Diffenbaugh, The Language of Flowers

Lesley Bannatyne’s stories in Unaccustomed to Grace are harrowing, funny, magical, and heartbreakingly, reassuringly human. Here we are with our flaws and troubles, and also our insight and even our grace. There’s a shimmering mythic streak through them, too, that sets Bannatyne in the tradition of seanchaithe – storytellers – who wield the old enchantments with an unerring instinct for revealing the soul’s sickness and its perfect cure. She seems to have x-ray vision that peers straight into the human heart, and a flawless ear for the bumps and rhythms of talk. This is a marvelous book, full of wonder, courage, and truth, and it’s a great pleasure to read. I loved it!
--Dr. Kate Chadbourne, A November Visit

These are stories to read and ponder, to share with others, to admire, and then to read again. Bannatyne’s themes are universal and her storytelling completely original. Pick up this book as you would a shining stone on the beach. Carry it with you and don’t let it go.
—Lynn C. Miller, The Day After Death and The Unmasking

LESLEY BANNATYNE is an American author who writes extensively on Halloween, especially its history, literature, and contemporary celebration.  
She also writes short stories, many of which are included in this debut collection Unaccustomed to Grace (Kallisto Gaia Press, 2022). 
Her work has been published in the Boston Globe, Smithsonian, Christian Science Monitor, and Zone 3, Pangyrus, Shooter, Craft, Ocotillo Review, Fish, and Bosque Literary Magazines. 
She won the 2018 Bosque fiction prize and received the 2019 Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award for fiction, the 2020 fiction prize, and was a finalist for many others, including the Tennessee William Literary Festival Writing Award, the Carve Prose & Poetry Contest, and the Hudson Prize. 
As a freelance journalist, she has covered stories ranging from druids in Massachusetts to relief workers in Bolivia. 
Lesley is a graduate of Wheaton College (MA) and holds an ALM from Harvard University Extension Studies. 
She lives and works in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Thursday 26 May 2022

One of The Girls by Lucy Clarke BLOG TOUR #OneOfTheGirls @lucyclarkebooks @fictionpubteam @RandomTTours #BookReview



The six of us arrived on that beautiful Greek island dreaming of sun-drenched beaches and blood orange sunsets, ready to lose ourselves in the wild freedom of a weekend away with friends.

On the first night we swam under a blanket of stars.

On the second night the games began on our clifftop terrace.

On the third night the idyll cracked, secrets and lies whispering on the breeze.

And by the final night there was a body on the rocks below . . .


One Of The Girls by Lucy Clarke is published today, 26 May 2022 by HarperCollins in hardback. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour

I do love a novel set in Greece and Lucy Clarke has created an idyllic Greek island that anyone would want to visit. 
However, as isolated and serene as the location is, the events that take place during this hen party holiday are certainly not what one expects from a girl's break away.

Narrated by each of the female characters, the story begins as they all arrive in the luxury villa on the Greek island to celebrate Lexi's forthcoming wedding. These women are a tight unit, some have been friends for years, some are newer to the scene. There's an established couple, a grieving sister-in-law, a frazzled new Mum amongst them and they all have their own issues. 

On the face of it, it seems as though this will be the perfect break, but as the reader learns more about each woman, it soon becomes clear that there are deep-rooted issues and hidden secrets eating away at some of them. Plus, we have an anonymous narrator, whose occasional input into the story just adds more tension and mystery. 

The reader knows that something is going to happen, there's going to be a murder, but trying to work out who the victim will be, and why certainly kept me on my toes. My guesses changed with almost every chapter!

Some of the women are more rounded and more interesting than the others, but that's reflective of any group of people I guess. 

If you want a dash of Greek sunshine, mixed with the complexities of modern female relationships and a murder thrown in too, this one is for you. I really enjoyed it and it would be absolutely perfect for reading on a sun bed, on a Greek beach! 

Sunday Times bestseller, Lucy Clarke, writes from a beach hut, using the inspiration from the wild south coast to craft her stories. 

Her debut novel, THE SEA SISTERS, was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick, and she has since published A SINGLE BREATH, THE BLUE/NO ESCAPE, LAST SEEN, YOU LET ME IN, and THE CASTAWAYS, which was a Waterstones Thriller of the Month. 

Lucy's seventh novel, ONE OF THE GIRLS, is 'an electric, sun-soaked thriller', which will be published in May 2022. Her books are published in twenty territories. THE BLUE, is currently being filmed for a major international TV series for Paramount+ and will be on screens in 2023.

Lucy is a passionate traveller and fresh air enthusiast. She's married to a professional windsurfer and, together with their two children, they spend their winters travelling and their summers at home by the sea.

Friday 20 May 2022

The Age of Static by Phil Harrison #TheAgeOfStatic @MrPMHarrison @melvillehouse BLOG TOUR #MH20 #BookReview


You can tell a lot about British society by its television. More than any other country, Britain still gets a sense of itself from the output of its national broadcasters. So what can we learn from the TV of the last two decades?

Beginning in 2000, this book explores the televisual contours of Britain, via five themed chapters: Britain's identity crisis; property and the class system; 'banter' and political correctness; the role of the BBC; and the impact of reality TV on politics. Over this period, Britain has become more divided, more fractious and less certain of its place in the world.

What did Jamie's School Dinners tell us about our perceptions of the working classes? What does our love of Downton Abbey say about the national psyche under duress? And how did Top Gear help to ignite Britain's culture wars? In this lively and wide-ranging account of twenty tumultuous years, Phil Harrison asks how we got here - and the role television played in the process

The Age of Static by Phil Harrison was published on 22 October 2020 by Melville House. I am delighted to join this special blog tour that celebrates twenty years of publishing by Melville House. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

The Age of Static by Phil Harrison does exactly what the sub-title says. In it, the author looks at how TV explains modern Britain, from the year 2000 through the next twenty years. 

This is a book that I've dipped in and out of over the past month or so, it's not the type of book that I'd read straight through but it is fascinating and telling. Phil Harrison is a TV critic and his observations within the text are precise and on the mark.

For most of us, the television burbles away in the corner of the room. We all have our favourite, must-watch shows, and if you are anything like me, there are hundreds, probably thousands of other shows that people will avoid. The beauty of the growth of TV over the years is the amount of choice. I'm old enough to remember when we had three channel and these all shut down at night. No scrolling through hundreds of channels, and watching TV through the night for us!

What this did mean was that most people watched the same shows and the amount of viewing numbers meant that the issues raised in the programmes often became things that the whole country talked about. It was a form of community, as we all looked on at the escapades of various soap characters - some were even mention in the House of Commons! 

What Phil Harrison does so very well in this book is align our behaviours to the things that play out on screen, from small community values, to the rise of social media and 'banter', the celebrity of the often untalented reality show contestant, to the searing political wit that screen writers so often include in their scripts. 

It's a fascinating book that not only brought back memories, it also made me think hard about how that box in the corner can influence the nation. Enjoyable and informative read, written with style and authority.

Wednesday 18 May 2022

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan BLOG TOUR #TheMurderRule @DervlaMcTiernan @RandomTTours @fictionpubteam #BookReview


No one is innocent in this story.

First Rule: Make them like you.

Second Rule: Make them need you.

Third Rule: Make them pay.

 They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.

 They think I’m working hard to impress them.

 They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.

  They're wrong. I’m going to bury him.

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan was published on 12 May 2022 in hardback by HarperCollins. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour 

Dervla McTiernan's The Murder Rule is her first stand alone novel and instead of her usual Irish setting, in this story, the reader is transported to the southern states of the USA.

Hannah Rokeby is a young law student who is determined to become part of The Innocence Project. This project actually does exist in America, and the people who work there spend their time trying to free the innocent, prevent wrongful convictions and create a fair justice system.
Hannah manages to secure a voluntary post at the project, and it is clear from the outset that she is quite an unconventional character. Her method of ensuring her place on the project is unusual and shows her total determination to get what she believes is correct. 

Leaving her mother at home, Hannah moves to Virginia and the story really begins.  Michael Dandridge is the prisoner who Hannah is really interested, and once again, she manages to get just where she wants to be ... right in the middle of the case being prepared to free him.

However, the reader is aware that Hannah may not have the same reasons for working on this case as the other volunteers and staff. We are privy to the contents of a diary, written many years ago. The words in this diary are Hannah's fuel, she knows what she wants and she will do nothing to stop it happening. 

With a fairly slow start, the author settles the reader into the story, the background, and most imporantly of all, to Hannah's inner feelings. I really know very little about the legal system in America and have to admit that there are events within the plot that did surprise me, I'm not sure if these were poetic licence taken by the author, or whether the system really does work like that. 

The Murder Rule is a well structured novel that kept my attention throughout. Whilst not always likeable, Hannah is certainly complex and I enjoyed the way she was built by the author. 

Great storytelling, with a fascinating premise. I will certainly look out for more from this author. 

Award-winning, number one bestseller Dervla McTiernan has established herself as one of the
biggest names in crime fiction. Her books have garnered critical acclaim around the world and sold over 400,000 copies in Australia and New Zealand alone.

In 2022, McTiernan returns with her first ever standalone thriller, The Murder Rule. Inspired by the true story of a young law student who worked at the Innocence Project and eventually uncovered evidence which exonerated a man who had been in prison for 26 years, McTiernan has created an unforgettable, twisty thriller – the must-read novel of the year.

Sign up for Dervla's Newsletter at

About Dervla:

Dervla McTiernan’s debut novel, The RĂșin, is a critically acclaimed international bestseller published around the world. The RĂșin won the Ned Kelly, Davitt and Barry Awards and was shortlisted for numerous others. It was on the Amazon US Best Book of the Year list 2018 and screen rights were snapped up by Colin Farrell’s production company and Hopscotch Features. Dervla’s second book, The Scholar, won the International Thriller Award and debuted straight into the Nielsen Bookscan Top 5 on release in 2019, and her third, The Good Turn, went straight to no.1, confirming her place as one of Australia's best crime writers.

Instagram: @dervlamctiernan

Facebook and Twitter: @DervlaMcTiernan

Tuesday 17 May 2022

It Never Rains But It Paws by Jacqueline Lambert BLOG TOUR #ItNeverRainsButItPaws #JacquelineLambert @RandomTTours #WorldwideWalkies


Five years after giving up work to travel full time, Dog-ma Jacqueline (Jackie) and Dogfather Mark race against time to leave the UK before Britain exits the EU. If Brexit happens, their four Cavapoos (Cavalier/Poodle cross) Kai, Rosie, Ruby, and Lani will lose their puppy passports, and the Lambert Family will be unable to travel together. But Brexit isn’t their only obstacle. A few months into their adventure, the pandemic suddenly shatters their plans, and leaves them trapped in the epicentre of Europe’s No. 1 coronavirus hotspot.

The fourth road trip Europe adventure in author Jacqueline Lambert’s “inspirational and hilarious” series of true travel memoirs invites you to join the couple as they discover even more amazing and little-known places, this time in France and Italy. However, this isn’t just a priceless escape travel story filled with humorous mishaps and mountain adventure. The coronavirus pandemic separates the family from their loved ones at home, and leaves Jackie stranded alone during a blizzard in a remote Italian village, with Mark thousands of miles away, back in the UK.

Between terrible weather, political mayhem, and a global pandemic, Jackie and Mark try to take lessons from each hardship. Yet, even with a positive attitude, a sense of adventure, and a caravan full of loved ones, you can’t stop all the obstacles life rolls your way. These “amusing and informative” travel stories are certainly proof that It Never Rains… But It Paws!

It Never Rains But It Paws by Jacqueline Lambert was published on 21 April 2022 by World Wide Walkies. 

As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you here today. 

Extract from It Never Rains But It Paws by Jacqueline Lambert

Our Exit Before Brexit – An Out of Season Odyssey

To guarantee a clean exit from the UK, like the one Boris Johnson promised Britain from the EU, we definitely had to leave before the deadline – no ifs, no buts...

The first time Mark and I set off for Spain, there was an unprecedented heatwave. Temperatures in Iberia soared above 50°C and people died from the heat. On that occasion, we decided to turn left, and towed Caravan Kismet (‘Fate’) to Romania.

This time, two days before our ferry to Santander was due to depart, Mark opened an email and detonated instantly into a rant.
“I don’t believe it! Our tenant has given notice!”

A short delay to redecorate, re-let and restore our income would not usually be a problem. We were nimble retirees; open to spontaneity and not terrorised by schedules. Except a huge, fanged monster
called Immovable Deadline loomed over our plans. The Three Sisters of Fate had waved their distaffs and unleashed their Furies upon us.

After toppling his predecessor, the UK had an illustrious new Prime Minister. Many refer to him as Boris, or BoJo, which I feel is somewhat informal, given his position. An innate reverence for authority demands I show him due respect. As such, I always use his full title, which is befitting a Right Honourable Male Member, and call him ‘The Johnson’.

Elected on a single promise to ‘Get Brexit Done’, The Johnson’s primary Prime Ministerial proclamation determined that Britain would exit the European Union (EU) by 31st October 2019, “no ifs, no buts.” He omitted to say that in the interests of serving democracy, this also meant regardless of whether it flouted any minor inconveniences, such as UK law or the will of a democratically elected parliament.1 Famous for quoting his number of offspring as, “five or six,” it is very clear; The Johnson just isn’t a detail man.

He claimed to have an ‘oven-ready deal’,2 carefully prepared to tickle the EU’s tastebuds. The idea was simple – Britain should keep all the perks of being in the club without paying for membership. Unfortunately, if it existed at all, the deal was still a bunch of disparate ingredients, and he didn’t have a recipe. And it was all on a metal plate that would blow up the second it was placed in the EU’s microwave.

His assertion that he “would rather be dead in a ditch” than extend Brexit beyond Halloween, even if it meant a No Deal Brexit,3 concerned us.

Our quest to Live the Dream is all about a voyage of discovery. We wanted to explore Spain, then spend the winter skiing in Italy. If Britain left the EU without a deal in place, which looked increasingly likely, all agreements with the EU would be void.

Never mind the catastrophe predicted for Britain, our personal No Deal fallout would mean invalid UK pet passports and four fur babies who could no longer travel with us to Europe.
Hence, our pressing need to make our exit before Brexit.


The ‘Phew! What a scorcher!’ headlines and pictures of packed beaches that accompany British
heatwaves, however brief, quickly yielded to the mother of all monsoons. Gale force winds cleared the path for ex-hurricane Lorenzo’s boisterous approach to the fair shores of Blighty. With over seventy flood warnings in place across the British Isles, it could mean only one thing.

The Ca-Lamberti, as our friends call us, were back on tour!

Four years previously, when we departed on our very first road trip, cramming our life into a box on wheels was a work of art. This time, we intended to be away for a year, not a paltry three months. Our expedition would incorporate a full span of the seasons, which compelled us to find space for a few extras normally consigned to storage between junkets. 

This included three boxes of ski gear, four pairs of skis, a set of winter tyres for our van, Big Blue, plus the new portable caravan air conditioning system we’d purchased as indemnity against simmering Spanish temperatures. It arrived the day before we had to cancel our ferry.

To compensate for this extra baggage, we left behind the caravan awning (the tent-like extension that goes on the side) and reduced our arsenal of windsurfing equipment by a couple of boards and sails. Mark weighed everything fastidiously: we were within our weight limits.


“I’ve missed this!” I said to my beloved, as we lay in bed with Michael Flatley and the full cast of Riverdance practising their steps on the caravan roof.

Jacqueline (Jackie) Lambert is a dedicated doggie travel blogger and author.

B.C. (Before Canines) she rafted, rock-climbed and backpacked around six of the seven continents. A passionate windsurfer and skier, she can fly a plane, has been bitten by a lion, and appeared as a fire eater on Japanese T.V.

A.D. (After Dog), she quit work in 2016 to hit the road permanently with her husband and four pooches. Initially, they were Adventure Caravanners, who aimed To Boldly Go Where No Van Has Gone Before. 

Now, they’re at large in a self-converted six-wheel army lorry, with Mongolia in their sights.  
Jacqueline has published four books about how she and Mark went from wage slaves to living the dream. Fur Babies In France, Dog on the Rhine, Dogs ‘n’ Dracula and Pups on Piste all fall within one of her favourite genres; light-hearted travel memoirs. Her forthcoming books will chronicle their tour of Poland in a pandemic, and their new life as Trucking Idiots.

All Jacqueline’s books have received multiple five-star reviews and Dogs ‘n’ Dracula was a finalist in the Romania Insider Awards for Best Promotion of Romania Abroad. Dog on the Rhine has been a bestseller in Amazon’s German Travel and Rhine Travel categories, and on release, Fur Babies in France outsold Bill Bryson, albeit for a very short time!