Thursday 11 April 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Running on Empty: 18,000 Miles Down Africa with Parkinson's by Guy Deacon

Delighted to be part of this blog tour on

 World Parkinson's Day


Publication Day

Ad Lib
11 April 2024

Thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Aged 60 and having lived with Parkinson’s disease for over 10 years, Guy Deacon CBE set out for one last adventure, to drive solo from his home in the UK to South Africa. This incredible journey, crossing Europe and the full length of Africa, would take the former army officer and father of two over 12 months, 18,000 miles, 25 countries, 5 breakdowns, an emergency evacuation and 3650 prescription pills.

Quite simply an incredible feat for a man travelling alone with Stage 3 Parkinson’s.

With very little use of his hands, poor spatial awareness and often appearing drunk to those who do not understand the disease, Guy would drive, live and sleep in his VW Transporter for 12 months, often camping alone in the jungle and remote spots hundreds of miles from the nearest village or town.

Guy's VW Transporter
By kind permission of the publisher

Navigating himself through cities and towns without knowing the language, Guy would often get lost and relied on locals for directions after taking a wrong turn or when network coverage killed his GPS or when the roads weren’t marked on the map.

Throughout the 18,000 mile journey Guy kept a video diary and was joined on four occasions by a documentary maker. This has resulted in 85 hours of footage and several thousand photographs of this incredible adventure through the heart of Africa which will be made into a 1 hour documentary for Channel 4 to be released in Spring 2024.

Guy was supported throughout his journey by The Cure Parkinson’s Trust a charity set up to find a cure for Parkinson’s as well as Parkinson’s Africa, whose mission is to raise awareness and empower those with Parkinson’s to make informed decisions about their own health.

πŸ“– My Review...

I am in awe of anyone who challenges themselves for the good of others and this intrepid journey across Africa by Guy Deacon shows the mettle of the man. His absolute strength of character shines through and whilst the journey was fraught with problems and discomfort Guy never lost track of his goal which was ultimately to raise awareness for Parkinson's Disease. 

I enjoyed reading the first part of the book which details Guy's army career, this gave an insight into his personality and allowed a glimpse of his tenacity and strength of will so that the epic journey of 18,000 miles, 25 countries, 5 breakdowns, an emergency evacuation and 3650 prescription pills wasn't so out of character but of course, due to the debilitating nature of Parkinson's disease, it would prove to be a huge challenge. 

The detail of his journey in his trusted VW Transporter was an eye popping mission and I enjoyed reading of Guy's 'adventures', the people he met en route, the incredible acts of kindness he encountered, along with elements of uncertainty and also of his unique connection to others who suffer from this illness and those doctors in Africa who are doing what they can to combat the disease. Accompanied occasionally by a documentary film maker, Guy's incredible journey will feature in a Channel 4 documentary which is due to air in Spring 2024.

As this is World Parkinson's Day I am delighted to have been asked to be part of this blog tour, to acknowledge Guy's remarkable achievement and also to raise awareness for this debilitating disease. Parkinson's Disease is a neurological condition for which there is no cure however, there are ways to control the condition with medication. Living with the illness is both challenging and frustrating and all credit to the author for raising awareness of this debilitating disease.

About the Author

Guy Deacon CBE joined The British Army in 1985 after reading anthropology at Durham University. During his time as a student and in the early years of his career in The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, he travelled extensively throughout Africa.

His career has taken him all over the world including 18 months in The Congo with the UN after which he was awarded an OBE for his services in disarming and demobilising rebel forces. After a wide variety of roles, his later career was spent in managing careers of officers and soldiers and he ended up as Colonel of The Royal Armoured Corps where he was responsible for much of the strategic thinking on how The Royal Armoured Corps could best provide an armoured capability to UK Defence. For this work he was awarded a CBE. He retired in 2019.

Guy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010 on his return from The Congo. He carried on working until the age of 57. At that point he started planning his journey from the UK to South Africa which has occupied his time since.

As an ambassador for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and Parkinson’s Africa, Guy has visited 25 African countries and spotlighted the issues associated with Parkinson’s disease in Africa. He has appeared on local and national television and radio in most of the countries he visited reaching in the region of 500 million people. His message was clear:

Parkinson’s is a straightforward neurological condition with no cause nor cure and certainly not a result of witchcraft; that it is not contagious and people with Parkinson’s should not be isolated. Any stigma associated with the disease should be rebutted.

Guy lives in Dorset with his wife and their dog. He has two grown up children. He continues to raise awareness of the issues of Parkinson’s as best he can, despite suffering from the condition himself.

About Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. The underlying symptoms of Parkinson’s are treated with a range of medication, but currently none of these slow, stop or reverse the progression of the disease. Parkinson’s makes day-to-day activities such as eating, getting dressed or using everyday objects like a phone or computer difficult. The main symptoms of Parkinson’s are tremor, muscle stiffness and slowness of movement.

Social Media

X @ghjdeacon

@CureParkinsonsT #WorldParkinsonsDay


Tuesday 9 April 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Little Penguin Bookshop by Joanna Toye


11 April 2024

My thanks to the publisher for the invitation to the blog tour

Books can change lives, even in wartime. . .

When World War II breaks out, Carrie Anderson sets up a bookstall at her local train station in the hope of providing a sense of escapism for travellers, troops and evacuees.

Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and armed with a colourful array of Penguin paperbacks, Carrie’s business soon booms. And when she gifts a book to a dashing officer, an act of kindness becomes the beginning of Carrie’s very own love story.

But as war rages on, and Mike is posted abroad, Carrie’s world is turned upside-down.

With the help of her station community, and the power of her paperbacks, can Carrie find the strength to battle through?

πŸ“– My Review..

Whilst the prospect of opening a bookstall at her local train station is daunting it is also a dream come true for eighteen year-old Carrie Anderson whose love of books shines through. Catering for those who are passing through this busy station on their way to London, Carrie not only caters to general passengers but also to the troops who are en route to France. Carrie's colourful display of sixpenny Penguin paperbacks soon proves to be very popular and are a welcome escape from a troubled world. 

Setting the story at the very onset of WW2 allows the momentum to grow slowly and as we get to know Carrie and her lovely family so we begin emotional ties which will last throughout the whole of the book. In many ways it is a gentle coming of age story as by running her own business Carrie starts to gain in confidence and independence whilst at the same time experiencing an emotional attachment to a handsome officer. The other characters who form a big part of the story have their own particular troubles and I have enjoyed getting to know Bette and Ruby in the tea-shop, and also Penny who takes up the role of railway porter. The warmth and companionship of these women help Carrie through some troubling times and add a lovely dynamic to this charming story. The ending of the book certainly lends itself to a continuation and I hope we get to see more of Carrie and her family and friends in future stories.

The Little Penguin Bookshop is a really lovely story which shows that when people are struggling to come to terms with what's happening to them books can be a welcome escape from reality.

About the Author

Jo wrote for many years as a writer and producer on saops ranging from Radio 4'ds The archers to TV's Doctors and EastEnders. She wrote several spin-off books and novelisations before inventing her own fictional world in six previous sagas: her World War Two 'Shop Girls' and 'Victory Girls' titles. She lives in the countryside near Bath - perfect for walking and plotting!

X @JoannaToye #LittlePenguinBookShop


Monday 8 April 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Dangerous Times on Dressmakers' Alley by Rosie Clarke


Boldwood Books
5 April 2024

My thanks to the publisher and Rachel's Random Resources for my copy of the book
and the invitation to the blog tour

Welcome to Dressmakers Alley, a twisted place filled with dark and deadly secrets London’s East End 1923

In the heart of Dressmakers Alley Madame Pauline’s sweatshop is rumoured to be a particularly unpleasant place to work. Filled with seamstresses paid a pittance who turn a blind eye to what darker activities are hidden behind locked doors.

Young Winnie Brown is keen to prove her value to the Women Movements and secures a job as a seamstress to investigate the whispers of some unsavoury goings on. Her concerns are soon justified when she discovers that there are terrible things afoot, as she hears a desperate cry for help.

Meanwhile, happily married, Lady Diane Cooper is the darling of London’s high-society. Beautiful and talented, she seemingly has it all. But the strict constraint’s society assigns her leaves her friustated, she craves more freedom. With the help of her devoted dresser Susie can she realise her dream?

What is the connection between Lady Diane's world and the poor exploited young women of Dressmakers Alley? Can the two worlds come together for the good of all?

πŸ“– My Review..

Those who have read this author's previous historical sagas will be delighted with the opportunity to start a new series which is set during the early years of the twentieth century. In the aftermath of WW1 the country is starting to get back to some semblance of its pre-war status and yet there are still huge divisions between those who have money and those, like Winnie Brown, who need to make ends meet. A supporter of the Women's Movement, young Winnie is persuaded to take up a meagre role in order to infiltrate a dressmakers establishment on the aptly named Dressmakers' Alley in a seedier part of  the East End of London where it is suspected that some nefarious deeds are taking place.

With her usual warmth and empathetic style of writing the author weaves a story which is quite dark in places and filled with an element of danger which sees Winnie caught up in a whole heap of trouble. Perfectly blending the lives of the poor, with those of the upper-classes, we get to see both sides of life and observe just how difficult it was for all women to make their mark as even the affluent women had to abide by a  set of  social constraints.

I've enjoyed spending time on Dressmakers' Alley, trying to piece together all the strands of the mystery and hoping that everything would work out for Winnie and the girls at Madam Pauline's sweatshop. As this is the first book in the series I am sure that we will discover more about this world which the author recreates so thoughtfully.

About the Author

Rosie Clarke is a #1 bestselling saga writer whose most recent books include The Mulberry Lane series. She has written over 100 novels under different pseudonyms and is a RNA Award winner. She lives in Cambridgeshire.

X / Twitter @AnneHerries 


@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers


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Friday 5 April 2024

πŸ“– Publication Day Book Review ~ The Persephone Code by Julia Golding

Harper Collins
One More Chapter
5 April 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book


Deep below the hills of the Buckinghamshire countryside, the infamous Hellfire Caves house a pleasure palace for the idle rich – a secret society steeped in satanism, opium and debauchery of the highest order.

When the club’s warden, Antony Pennington, is brutally murdered, his bastard sister, Dora, must follow the clues to decode who the killer is, aided by an unexpected ally – ex-Army officer, former opium addict and son of a Viscount, Dr Jacob Sandys.

As a shadow dogs their every footstep, Dora and Jacob find themselves in the midst of a shocking conspiracy, caught between the legendary Illuminati and the Hell Fire Club. With time running out, they must fight against both the most influential gentleman of the ton – and the undeniable attraction they feel towards each other

πŸ“– My Review...

Dora Fitz-Pennington's brother is brutally murdered and with only a handful of clues to his killer, Dora must try to find out why her brother died in such horrific circumstances and of the connection to the notorious Hell Fire Club. With the help of Dr Jacob Sandys, an ex-army officer and a former opium addict they negotiate the tricky clues left behind.

The story gets off to a good start and I enjoyed trying to piece together the many parts of the mystery in order to discover just what was going on in the infamous Hell Fires caves and the significance of the clues which Dora and Jacob must solve in order to discover why the club's warden Antony Pennington met such an untimely death.

The Persephone Code is an exciting romp through the Regency world with an interesting couple of  lead characters who very early on the story realise that they are attracted to one another. Dora is a feisty heroine, her acting backgrounds comes in useful and she is no shrinking violet when it comes to getting what she wants. There are more than enough twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing and it certainly lives up to its description of The Da Vinci Code meets Bridgerton.

About the Author

Julia Golding is a multi-award winning writer for children and young adults. She also writes under the pen names of Joss Stirling and Eve Edwards. Well over half a million of her books have been sold worldwide in more than twenty different languages.Married with three children, she lives in Oxford, UK.

Twitter / X #ThePersephoneCode


Wednesday 3 April 2024

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Split by S E Lynes


8 March 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

The end of our marriage was only the beginning…

Last night, we celebrated our anniversary. Over candlelight, we talked about the children, our work, and I was so happy, and felt so loved.

But the next morning, when I check my phone, there is a message. From a friend. And a string of photos appear of my husband, Will, with another woman: walking along the street holding hands. Going into fancy hotels. Standing at a window, his arms around her, her head on his shoulder…

I beg Will to tell me what’s going on. But all he can say is that it’s not what I think. As if the betrayal wasn’t bad enough, he won’t even be honest with me.

And now there’s someone watching our house. Will is acting like a stranger and I think he’s following me. I can’t trust him anymore, and I desperately need to know who sent me those photos and why.

But maybe Will is telling the truth.

Maybe it’s not what I think.

Because the more our pain stops us talking, and the more the two of us tear each other apart, the more I wonder if I ever knew him at all – and what I’ll have to risk to protect my children.

And when at last the secrets are revealed, will the truth save our family, or destroy us all?

πŸ“– My Review..

After a perfect evening to celebrate their wedding anniversary Jessica is devastated when, the following morning, she receives photographs on her phone which show her husband Will with another woman. Refusing to accept that there could be a plausible explanation for the photographs Jessica insists that Will leaves their home and two children and refuses to listen to any of his explanations. Will is devastated by the mess which has been created and when he is offered a lifeline by a kind stranger, he soon discovers, to his cost, that there are many facets to kindness and not all of them are good ones.

Cleverly written, in a story which grips from the very beginning this is a salutary story of what happens when you get drawn into a world which you cannot control and of the terrible consequences which follow deadly mistakes. Filled with secrets and lies The Split is another intricately crafted psychological suspense story from a talented writer who, with each successive story, just gets better and better.

About the Author

Formerly a BBC producer, after gaining an MA in Creative Writing, S. E. Lynes became a Creative Writing Tutor at Richmond Adult Community College and now combines writing, mentoring and lecturing.

Twitter @SELynesAuthor #TheSplit


Tuesday 2 April 2024

πŸ“– Publication Day Book Review ~ Nowhere To Hide by Keri Beevis

Boldwood Books
2 April 2024

Thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Passion. Obsession. Cruelty. Control... There is no limit to how far some people will go for love. 

Duncan Stone is one of the country's most eligible bachelors, and he wants to take me, Callie Parker, on a date.

At first I am surprised and flattered, the envy of my friends. Then when our whirlwind romance escalates and he asks me to move in with him, it's like a dream come true.

But as I get to really know my new boyfriend, my fairytale turns into a nightmare. Duncan is no Prince Charming. He is the Devil.

Soon, isolated from my friends and family, watched day and night, a prisoner in my own life, I know if I am going to survive, I need to escape.

When a chance encounter with an old friend throws me a lifeline, I realise this is my live or die moment, and I find a hiding place deep in the Norfolk countryside.

I'm supposed to feel safe here, so why do I hear footsteps outside my hideaway late at night, and sense that someone is watching me?

Is it paranoia, or has Duncan managed to find me? Perhaps the danger is closer to home than I realise.

πŸ“– My Review..

Callie Parker thinks that she is the luckiest girl alive when she catches the attention of Duncan Stone. His suave good looks and charismatic charm make him quite a catch however, Callie soon discovers that dreams can very soon turn into absolute nightmares. Callie is trapped in a relationship which is as dangerous as it is toxic and her only chance is to escape, but as she is constantly watched this proves to be harder than she could ever have imagined.

The story grips right from the start and I enjoyed reading the alternate chapters which detail Callie's life in the past and also what is going on in the present so that we get a comprehensive picture of what led her into her relationship with Duncan Stone. Emotional and atmospheric, Nowhere to Hide is a difficult book to enjoy as it explores everything that is dangerous and volatile about coercive control and does so in detail which makes for uncomfortable reading. All credit to the author for tackling such a difficult subject and of doing so in a way which makes such a strong emotional impact on the reader.

Well written, with a fine eye for detail Nowhere to Hide is psychological suspense at its absolute best.

About the Author

Keri Beevis is the internationally bestselling author of several psychological thrillers and romantic suspense mysteries, including the very successful Dying to Tell, published by Bloodhound. She sets many of her books in the county of Norfolk, where she was born and still lives and which provides much of her inspiration.

Twitter @keribeevis #NowhereToHide

@boldwoodbooks #boldwoodbloggers 

Monday 1 April 2024

πŸ“– Featured Book of the Month ~ The Household by Stacey Halls


11 April 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

In a quiet house in the countryside outside London, the finishing touches are being made to welcome a group of young women. The house and its location are top secret, its residents unknown to one another, but the girls have one thing in they are fallen. Offering refuge for prostitutes, petty thieves and the destitute, Urania Cottage is a second chance at life - but how badly do they want it?

Meanwhile, a few miles away in a Piccadilly mansion, millionairess Angela Burdett-Coutts, one of the benefactors of Urania Cottage, makes a discovery that leaves her her stalker of 10 years has been released from prison . . .

As the women's worlds collide in ways they could never have expected, they will discover that freedom always comes at a price...

πŸ“–My Review..

In the countryside just outside London Urania House is preparing to welcome its first inhabitants. Thanks to the philanthropy of Charles Dickens and other wealthy benefactors, fallen women from the city are being offered the chance of a new start. At Urania House they will learn household management, how to dress and act appropriately and when the  time is right the women will be offered the opportunity of making a new life in one of the colonies. 

Angela Burdett-Coutts is the wealthiest woman in the country and is using her vast wealth to make a real difference to the lives of the women at Urania House. However, Angela has her own burden to carry and it is when her troubles overlap with the household that events start to spiral out of control.

The Household just oozes atmosphere, from the quiet confidence of Urania House where prostitutes and petty thieves are given a place of safety and the means to turn their meagre lives into something worthwhile, while juxtaposed are the corrupt and degenerate who prey on those who are vulnerable. We also learn that vast wealth brings its own complexities and is at times more of a burden than abject poverty. Beautifully written, weaving real life figures into a clever historical story of corruption, despair, new beginnings and ultimately freedom and the hope for a different future.  

I am delighted to have The Household as my Featured Book of the Month for April. It's published by Mantle on the 11th April 2024

About the Author

Stacey Halls was born in 1989 and grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and has written for publications including the Guardian, Stylist, Psychologies, the Independent, the Sun and Fabulous. Her first book, The Familiars, was the bestselling debut hardback novel of 2019, won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the British Book Awards Debut Book of the Year. The Foundling, her second, was a Sunday Times bestseller, as was her third Mrs England. Mrs England was longlisted for the Portico Prize, the Walter Scott Prize and won the Women's Prize Futures Award

X @stacey_halls #TheHousehold