#Blogtour #GuestPost: Homeward Bound by Richard Smith @RichardWrites2 @rararesources

Homeward Bound Full Tour Banner

Today on the blog I have the pleasure of taking part in the tour for  Homeward Bound by Richard Smith with an exciting guest post. His book features music, family, and an undying sense of adventure with a side of aging gracefully while this delightfully whimsical guest post looks at the joys (and frustrations) of writing with a pen and paper – either one is well worth the read!

Homeward Bound - Front coverTitle:
Homeward Bound

Author: Richard Smith

Publication Date: January 28, 2020

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Themes: Music, Family, Aging


Homeward Bound features 79-year-old grandfather George, who didn’t quite make it as a rock star in the ‘60s. He’s expected to be in retirement but in truth he’s not ready to close the lid on his dreams and will do anything for a last chance. When he finds himself on a tour of retirement homes instead of a cream tea at the seaside his family has promised, it seems his story might prematurely be over.

He finds the answer by inviting Tara, his 18-year-old granddaughter, to share his house, along with his memories and vast collection of records. She is an aspiring musician as well, although her idea of music is not George’s. What unfolds are clashes and unlikely parallels between the generations – neither knows nor cares how to use a dishwasher – as they both chase their ambitions.

Purchase Links






Guest Post

The tyranny of the pen

We weren’t allowed to use ball point pens at my school. The very word, Biro, was never mentioned. All writing had to be with a fountain pen, preferably using Quink blue-black. We also had lessons in how to form capital letters, and no essay would be accepted if the wrong form of ‘F’, ‘G’ or ‘T’ was used, or words were not joined up correctly.

I’m reminded of this early ‘60s memory because, having published my first novel, Homeward Bound,I’m often asked how I write; longhand or straight into a computer. My first response is it’s a wonder I write at all after that induction and suffering the tyranny of the fountain pen.  But the answer is that once I’d been given a Parker for my 18thbirthday, I never looked back and now I compose entirely using its cheaper successors – a Biro, Bic, or one of those freebies you collect at exhibitions.

Why I like a ballpoint is it’s so easy to write quickly and even easier to make changes, ideal if thoughts are spilling out of your head at a rate of knots. And if there’s an inspiration for later, a word that’s just come to me to improve a previous sentence, or a paragraph that needs moving, I scribble it down and add an asterisk, a box, or an arrow to signal something to come back to later. It takes just a second and  – more importantly – it doesn’t interrupt the flow of ideas. Add to the fact that I write on scrap paper – the reverse of single-sided photocopies or envelopes that held today’s consignment of bills and begging letters and I can add feeling virtuous about my recycling into the argument for longhand.

I’ve tried starting on a computer but, for me, it’s a slow, laborious and stultifying experience. I’m quite fast – a self taught two fingered style serves me quite well – but the plethora of red underlines and strange line spacings distract me, making me want to correct as I go, and the practicalities swamp and submerge the original inspiration. Using a ballpoint, the ideas can just flow.

There is a downside to paper. A puff of wind and the pages scatter across the room, a disaster when I’ve not numbered them. And worse, the speed that the ballpoint allows me invariably comes to the detriment of legibility. I’ve invented my own form of shorthand, with vowels omitted and words often just a squiggle between first and last letters. Their meaning is all so obvious as I write, but when it comes to reading back, it’s often impossible to decipher.

The answer? I don’t read it back! For the next stage is to transcribe my manuscript into my laptop and as often as not, I make it all up again. This is partly because I can’t make head nor tail of my longhand, but also because, having created a sense and the structure, I can recompose it straight into my laptop from memory. A second draft, as it were.

Once the page is on the laptop and saved (how many times did I use to lose a day’s work because I hadn’t saved my manuscript – and pardon me while I save this one, it’s still Document 29. Done it), the next question is proof reading and revising for a next draft. My preference would be to do it by printing out the pages. I find reading for content easier on paper, and making amendments using my ballpoint brings all the advantages of being able to scratch out words, move paragraphs and make comments to myself along the margins. But this is very wasteful of paper, even if the reverse does provide new scrap for the next handwritten manuscript.

My solution is to use an iPad with one of those electronic pencils. That way I have all the advantages of longhand and the sheaves don’t blow away. Then it has to be transposed on to the master laptop, but that’s OK as it’s yet another drafting and improving stage. By the end, I may have dozens of fragments of manuscripts on paper, laptop and iPad, not to mention bits I thought were good but left out, in case they should come in handy for something else.

It was one of these I was searching for just the other day. While working on my second novel, I thought I might be able to incorporate a section I’d written and left out of a first draft of Homeward Bound. I rummaged through a box stuffed with papers. They’d been hidden there, away from my wife’s perfectly reasonable wish not to have every surface in the house awash with scrap paper and old envelopes. It didn’t take long to find the very manuscript I was seeking.  Except I couldn’t read a word of it. Completely inscrutable. But also in the box, an old school exercise book, with my handwritten notes on Shakespeare in blue-black ink, clear and legible.

Perhaps my school had a point.

About the Author

Homeward - Richard SmithRichard Smith is a writer and storyteller for sponsored films and commercials, with subjects as varied as caring for the elderly, teenage pregnancies, communities in the Niger delta, anti- drug campaigns and fighting organised crime. Their aim has been to make a positive difference, but, worryingly, two commercials he worked on featured in a British Library exhibition, ‘Propaganda’.




Homeward Bound

Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour.




#Blogtour #Review: The Lost City by Amanda Hocking @Amanda_Hocking @StMartinsPress

The Lost City Blog Tour banner--FB

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for The Lost City by Amanda Hocking. The first book in the final arc of the world of Trylle, The Lost City will transport you to a world filled with magic, adventure, and characters that you can’t help but love. If you’re a fan of fantasy threaded through with touches of the familiar, a solid quest for self discovery, and oodles of mystery in your YA fantasy reads then look no further – and don’t worry if you haven’t a thing from the series as it stands, this baby is a friendly entry point into the world of Trylle new readers and a ‘welcome home’ for those who simply can’t get enough.

The Lost City - Cover ArtTitle: The Lost City

Author: Amanda Hocking

Series: The Omte Origins

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy, Fantasy



Amanda Hocking, the New York Times bestselling author of The Kanin Chronicles, returns to the magical world of the Trylle Trilogy with The Lost City, the first novel in The Omte Origins—and the final story arc in her beloved series.

The storm and the orphan

Twenty years ago, a woman sought safety from the spinning ice and darkness that descended upon a small village. She was given shelter for the night by the local innkeepers but in the morning, she disappeared—leaving behind an infant. Now nineteen, Ulla Tulin is ready to find who abandoned her as a baby or why.

The institution and the quest

Ulla knows the answers to her identity and heritage may be found at the Mimirin where scholars dedicate themselves to chronicling troll history. Granted an internship translating old documents, Ulla starts researching her own family lineage with help from her handsome and charming colleague Pan Soriano.

The runaway and the mystery

But then Ulla meets Eliana, a young girl who no memory of who she is but who possesses otherworldly abilities. When Eliana is pursued and captured by bounty hunters, Ulla and Pan find themselves wrapped up in a dangerous game where folklore and myth become very real and very deadly—but one that could lead Ulla to the answers she’s been looking for.

Purchase Links:


As someone who’s never before read anything written by Amanda Hocking (I’m sorry, it’s shameful, I know!) I was more than a little nervous to dive into this series at the final arc. But, I have to say, I was more than presently surprised as how new-reader friendly The Lost City was. There is a nice balance between world building, history, action, and character development and there is no expectation that the reader is already familiar with the world of trolls. The tribal divisions, social issues, magic system, and ultimate goal of our protagonist are all clearly laid out in the first few chapters of the book and gradually built upon as the story unfolds. The romance is light, representation diverse, and even the side characters are so well developed that they fight for the spotlight on the page.

I genuinely adored Ulla as the protagonist – with her mysterious past, slight hoarding  tendencies, and a physicality that veers from the norm I found myself quickly drawn to her character. I appreciated her personal growth and transformation, particularly her sense of confidence and determination as her quest to find answers becomes increasingly more difficult. Her story really drives home the importance of family, especially found family, and the ambiguous fluidity that exists between fact, fiction, and fairytale.

In almost any book I expect to find a character or two that exist only to advance the plot, but I was blown away by how valuable each and every character was. No matter if their part is big or small, every little detail is interconnected with the bigger picture and no piece of action or dialogue is ever gratuitous. The result is that I found myself asking constant questions, checking back on details, and becoming increasingly invested in the sub-plots. This baby kept me up past my bed time more often than I care to admit – and I regret nothing! The only thing I was left wanting was a little more backstory on Pan. But with more books to come I have no doubt that we’ll soon come across his time to shine.

Finally, I am in LOVE with the world of Trylle! In a market inundated with faeries (and I love me some fairies) it was refreshing to read a world dominated by Trolls as I have never seen them before. I loved the variety and diversity within the trollian peoples, especially that they weren’t monoliths wth regards to physical expression, and that their world is secretly embedded within our own. It was part magic realism, part urban fantasy, and entirely delightful. The settings are described so intricately and in a way that evokes all of the senses that it’s easy to let your imagination take over and get lost in the fantasy.

Overall this was an absolutely fantastic read! The Lost City is fast paced, beautifully written, and provides a solid foundation for what is sure to be an amazing series. Whether you’re new to series or coming back to a fictional home, this is one of those books that sparks the imagination and turns it loose to run wild.

About the Author

Amanda Hocking NEW--credit Mariah Paaverud with Chimera PhotographyAMANDA HOCKING is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

Social Media

Many thanks to John Karle at St. Martin’s Publishing Group for inviting me to participate in this tour and for proving a copy of The Lost City in exchange for an honest review.




#Review: The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall #YA #Fantasy #LGBTQ+

Have you ever gone back to read over old reviews and came across one that makes you stop in your tracks, and not in a good way? Well, recently I circled back to my review for The Mermaid, the Witch, and the Sea and was absolutely mortified with what I’d put down on the page. It was just… mean, and rude, and completely unacceptable on so many levels.

Let me be clear. I ADORED this book.

So for anyone who read my original review – I am so sorry. And to Maggie Tokuda-Hall and the team that made this amazing book a reality – I simply can’t apologize enough. I was a dick. And it’s time to set things right.

A revised (read completely rewritten) review is now posted below.

mermaidTitle: The Mermaid The Witch and The Sea

Author: Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Publication Date: May 5, 2020

Genre: YA Fiction, YA Fantasy, Fantasy

Themes: Colonialism, Imperialism, Pirates, Romance, Arranged Marriages, Family

Features: LGBTQ+ rep, diverse characters


From Goodreads…

A desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial daughter find a connection on the high seas in a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic.

Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.

Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself.

My Review

When it comes to YA fantasy I love a western-inspired courtly drama featuring a not-so-helpless heroine as much as the next girl, but the minute you mention pirates you can forget the courts and castles gimme some ships, a set of morally grey characters, and a little adventure and everything else takes a back seat. And let me tell you, this baby did not disappoint – it has it all!

  • pirates – check
  • badass characters – check
  • sapphic romance – check
  • a gender fluid MC – hella check!
  • diversity in character representation – yup, yup, yup!
  • noticeable non-western influences & perspective – I see you
  • the sea as a nascent being – um, yes please, more of this
  • timid characters that turn out to be secretly shabby – check
  • unconventional mermaids – check
  • oodles of betrayal and plot twists – don’t get too comfy my friends
  • complicated family dynamics for some added drama – I mean, I know characters are supposed to have emotional wounds to make them grounded and all that, but why’d you gotta go and hurt me so good?
  • and, say it with me, WITCHES!

Yes, this baby has pirates and witches all bundled up into one delightfully action packed adventure. It is… *chef’s kiss*. An as complicated as everything gets towards the climax, it all just makes sense. There is never an easy out to a difficult situation, societal roles and expectations are nearly inescapable, magic doesn’t just miraculous happen – it’s difficult to learn and comes at an extraordinarily high price, and you can’t just run away and become a pirate for funsies – there are serious consequences. The consistency in adherence to this internal logic makes this book both emotionally fraught and easy to get attached to. You know what’s going to, or could, happen and you still end up with all the feels when the event takes place. Again with the hurts so good!

There’s a beautiful balance between world building, character development, action, and romance that will pull you through some of the most creative settings I’ve seen in a good long while. But it’s not all fluff and fancy. This book dives deep into some tough topics like imperialism, misogyny, slavery, and cultural genocide. And all without every coming across as trying to ‘teach’ the reader anything. The critiques are there to spark though and likely make more than a few readers uncomfortable in the best possible way (hello introspection, my old friend). But, the option is always there to engage in this discourse as deeply as the reader desires. Just reading for the high seas, high stakes action? Suspend your disbelief and carry on. Want to unpack some serious societal critiques? Get your tissues and punching bags ready.

The only place where I stumbled a little was the writing style for a few of the characters. On the whole, the writing is lyrical, imaginative, and highly evocative. But there were a few perspectives where I found the shift in style to be somewhat jarring. However, my discomfort lasted only a short while and I soon acclimatized to all the different voices, and was gobbling up every word regardless of which POV it came from.

Altogether this is a phenomenal read that doesn’t get near enough of the hype that it genuinely deserves. Bring on book two, baby, I am here for it.

Many thanks to NetGalley for proving a copy in exchange for an honest review.

#Blogtour #Review: The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Carly Schabowski @carlyschab11 @Bookouture #BooksOnTour

The Ringmaster's Daughter - Blog Tour

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for The Ringmaster’s Daughter by Carly Schabowski. This book takes two of my great loves – WWII Fiction and the circus (once upon a time I dreamt of being a german wheel and lyra performer) – and weaves them beautifully together. If you’re in the mood for some romance set against harrowing odds and a rag-tag troupe of misfits who redefine the idea of family, then I highly suggest you pick this one up.

The-Ringmasters-Daughter-KindleTitle: The Ringmaster’s Daughter

Author: Carly Schabowski

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII Fiction

Themes: WWII, Survival, Friendship, Romance, The Circus


Circus people don’t ask who you were before, or what god you believe in… when you join the circus, you are family, whatever your past.

Paris, 1940. Twenty-year-old Michel Bonnet lives on the edge of the law, finding work where he can breaking in horses on the outskirts of the city. But when the Nazis invade, Michel takes refuge as a stowaway on a rickety train bound for the rural south. It’s a journey that will change his life forever.

The train is property of Le Cirque Neumann – a travelling circus owned by the troubled and irritable showman Werner Neumann. Neumann offers Michel a job caring for the company’s horses – a lucky break, but with an unusual condition attached. Michel must keep to himself and never speak of what he sees behind the glittering curtain of the big top.

But as Michel finds himself pulled into the strange and wondrous world of the great spectacular it becomes more difficult to keep his promise. Why does the man with the performing monkey never speak, and the sword swallower turn his face away? Who are the silent, shadowy figures who flit like moths between the wagons when the sun is down? It’s clear that Neumann is keeping his performers hidden away… but why?

And how can Michel win the love of the beautiful and exotic trapeze artist Freida – the graceful, green-eyed star of Neuman’s spectacular – when he’s been forbidden to even meet her gaze?

A heartbreaking and uplifting wartime novel– perfectforfansofWater for ElephantsThe Nightingale and The Tattooist of Auschwitz. 

Purchase Links:


I knew from the blurb that I was going to love this book, and love it I did.

Packed full with mystery, drama, fear, and romance there is a little something for most lovers of WWII fiction here. I have always been drawn to the enigma that is the circus, and Schabowski’s writing captures the close-knit and notoriously exclusive attitude of a troupe with vivid clarity. Everything from the domineering ringmaster to the little cliques and even the divisions between workers and performers felt incredibly authentic.

And while I adored the representation, I really appreciated that circus life – especially circus life during the second world ward – wasn’t overly glamourized. Schabowski exposes the haphazard fabric, smoke, and mirrors that go into making any show run – from the cheap jewels and tattered tents, to old lions the magic of nightfall and and a few strings of light brings to the surface how illusory these experiences are. Everyone struggles to eat, struggles to earn, and above all else, struggles to stay out of the sights of German troops drawing closer by the day.

All of the the characters are likeable, but the story centres around Michel and his last-minute flight from Paris. But it quickly becomes about much more than his personal plight as he is slowly let into the inner-circle of a tight-knit group. He collects friendships and suspicions in equal number, begins to appreciate the beauty of diverse communities, and watches helplessly as the war begin to take its toll and whittle their numbers down. All of the fear and fight for survival is interwoven with moments of love and lust and longing, true friendship, and the terrible cost of sacrifices that have to be made for the common good.

Though I found the Ringmaster Werner to be a prickly, unlikeable fellow at first, he soon grew to be one of my favourite characters in the book. His method of induction might be that of trial by fire, but once you’re in he’d give the shirt off his back to protect you. And he might initially come off as indifferent towards his animals, but really he’s just a great big teddy bear inside trying to provide a life for anyone and anything that he can.

The romantic arc is sweet and so full of longing that you feel it in your back teeth. It’s full of red-herrings and dangerous assumptions that set people off on the wrong path, but it certainly makes for a good laugh when it all comes together. It will keep you guessing as to why our lovebirds can’t be together, and it will definitely keep you rooting for love to overcome the odds.

If WWII fiction and stories about found families are your jam, then this one might just be for you. Sumptuous and emotional, this story will pull at your heartstrings and stoke the fires of the imagination in the space of a page. If you’re looking for a summer read that will stick with you through the darkness of winter, this is it!

About the Author

Carly Pic 2Carly Schabowski worked as a journalist in both North Cyprus and Australia before returning to Oxford, where she studied for an MA and then a PhD in creative writing at Oxford Brookes University. Carly now teaches at Oxford Brookes University as an associate lecturer in Creative Writing for first and second-year English literature students.
Twitter:  @carlyschab11

Many thanks to Sarah Hardy at Bookouture for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour.




#Blogtour #GuestPost: Warbringer by Aaron Hodges #BookBirthday @rararesources


Today I’m hosting a stop on the Book Birthday Blog Tour for Warbringer by Aaron Hodges. Check out the synopsis and Guest Post on world building below!

Warbringer Cover FinalTitle: Warbringer

Series: Descendants of the Fall

Author: Aaron Hodges

Publication Date: March 27, 2020

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy


Centuries ago, the world fell.
From the ashes rose a terrible new species—the Tangata.
Now they wage war against the kingdoms of man.
And humanity is losing.

Recruited straight from his academy, twenty-year-old Lukys hopes the frontier will make a soldier out of him. But Tangata are massing in the south, and the allied armies are desperate. They will do anything to halt the enemy advance—including sending untrained men and women into battle. Determined to survive, Lukys seeks aid from the only man who seems to care: Romaine, the last warrior of an extinct kingdom.

Meanwhile, the Queen’s Archivist leads an expedition deep beneath the earth. She seeks to uncover the secrets of the Gods. Their magic has been lost to the ages, yet artifacts remain, objects of power that could turn the tide of the war. But salvation is not all that waits beneath the surface. Something else slumbers in the darkness. Something old. Something evil.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08653PM1L/

US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08653PM1L/

Guest Post – The World behind Warbringer

Warbringer is the first book of my Descendants of the Fall series, set in a brand new world I created over the southern hemisphere summer—you know, before covid-19 derailed the entire world. The setting for Warbringer is one of medieval kingdoms that rose from the ashes of The Fall—a disaster brought down upon humanity by the Gods for betraying their trust. It is said some among humanity grew jealous of the power of the Divine and sought to steal their magic for themselves. These rebel used the magic they acquired to change themselves—gaining supernatural strength and speed, as well as other, more secret powers.

But the magic of the Gods also came at a cost, and the Tangata lost their humanity, becoming inhuman creatures of darkness. Now these creatures wage war against the kingdoms of humanity, seeking to claim the world for themselves. While humanity was briefly united against this threat, a disastrous campaign against the Tangata saw their alliance shattered. Now the kingdom of Calafe has already fallen, and still the creatures come.

The kingdom of Flumeer leads what remains of the human alliance, seeking to hold the River Illmoor and prevent the Tangatan advance. Romaine, the last warrior of the Calafe, fights alongside the Flumeeren forces, while the shattered remnants of his people are made refugees on the fringes of the capital. Meanwhile, the Archivist Erika delves into the secrets of the past, seeking to uncover the lost magic of the Gods in a desperate effort to counter the powers of the Tangata. But others also seek the powers of the Divine, and she may find others reach the treasure before her. Finally, there is the island nation of Perfugia. Isolated from the strife of the mainland, his nation has avoided the worst of the wars, but in solidarity they send reinforcements to the frontline. Untrained, greenhorn recruits with no experience with weapons or war. Twenty-year-old Lukys marches with them, determined to fight for the cause of humanity. Little does he know the Sovereigns are sending him to the slaughter.

About the Author

Warbringer Aaron Hodges Author PictureAaron Hodges was born in 1989 in the small town of Whakatane, New Zealand. He studied for five years at the University of Auckland, completing a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Geography, and a Masters of Environmental Engineering. After working as an environmental consultant for two years, he grew tired of office work and decided to quit his job and explore the world. During his travels he picked up an old draft of a novel he once wrote in High School (titled The Sword of Light) and began to rewrite the story. Six months later he published his first novel, Stormwielder, and hasn’t looked back since.



Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour.