Cancer Daily Life by Carola Schmidt #bookpromo

Thank you to Carly at Blackthorn Book Tours for inviting me to join in with the publicity for this book. I have worked in previous jobs with children who are being treated for cancer.  For a child with cancer, this treatment can be a lonely period, with lots of fears and uncertainties and unwanted experiences. This short book, primarily a picture book with just a few words, addresses these experiences and is designed to help children have confidence during this difficult time. With so few words, it could be shared with children across the world. A book for all upper KS2 and secondary schools in the UK to use for PSHE perhaps, to understand what friend and family may experience.


Cancer Daily Life is a bittersweet collection of single and double-frame strips that only readers who are highly involved with the C world could relate to. It’s sometimes cute and sweet, sometimes acid, sometimes trivial, sometimes funny, just like daily life.

It’s ideal:

*For adolescents and adults age 12 to 100 years old or older

*As a gift for a friend who received a diagnosis of any type of cancer

*As a gift for a friend who will start or is undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy

*When you have a family member or friend aged 12+ coping with cancer, and you don’t know what to say

*When a friend or family member with cancer feels stressed and needs to know they are not alone 

Other praise for Cancer Daily Life:

·        Carola Schmidt has prepared a book that is honest, straightforward, and compelling. The illustrations are perfect. They are clear, with a sense of humor, and without a touch of sentimentality. This slender volume puts names to some of the most alienating experiences that cancer patients have to live through, and by naming them makes them less powerful. The images and words tell you over and over again that yes, these are tough times. They recognize you as a person and recognize your pain and fear. And they tell you that you are not alone. The book gives you back the ground under your feet. (Malve von Hassell, Author)

·        One of the hardest things about the daily life of having cancer is the abrupt loss of familiar anchors that tell you who you are… This clever, generous, wise little book confronts this transition, names it, holds it, in ways that a youngster can understand. It does so with an admirable lightness of touch – a few words, some accessible, unsentimental pictures, a gentle humour. And by acknowledging it, this book might, in some small and kindly way, help to make the situation comprehensible, containable, manageable. Yes, it says. This is a journey and you’re not alone on it. And no matter how things change, you are absolutely still yourself. You may meet people who may not know that, but we know that, you know that. And no one can take away who you are.  (CRheilan, Author)

·        Her children’s books have helped countless kids to cope with cancer. Her latest, “Cancer Daily Life”, was just released and is uniquely special for the age group it’s intended for. The lessons are brilliant, showing kids a better way to think about their daily struggles with cancer. Love this one! Worth a look, and definitely worth sharing. (Henry Roi, Author)


About the Author:

Carola Schmidt is a Pediatric Oncology Pharmacist & Writer

·        Writer in the BookAuthority list of “81 Best Leukemia Books of All Time” with “Chubby’s Tale: The true story of a teddy bear who beat cancer”

·        Author of “Bald is Beautiful” and other works for children with cancer

·        Author of several scientific books on pediatric oncology by Springer Nature

·        Children’s book author – Tell Me a Story Babushka


The Kensington Kidnap by Katie Gayle

I’m pleased to share my thoughts about this new novel being published by Bookouture. Thanks to Sarah Hardy for inviting me to join


A missing teenager, a mysterious cult and a case of mistaken identity – just another day’s work for Epiphany Bloom.

Epiphany ‘Pip’ Bloom is down on her luck. She can barely afford cat food, and just because Most has three legs doesn’t mean he eats any less. So she absolutely can’t afford to mess up her latest temp job. But when she walks through the door of the private investigation firm, her new boss mistakes her for a missing persons expert. He then charges her with finding Matty Price – the teenage son of two A-list celebrities – who has mysteriously disappeared from his home in Kensington.

It ought to be a disaster, but Pip reckons it’s actually an opportunity. She’s always been curious (nosy, her mother calls it) and has an uncanny knack for being at the wrong place at the right time (she doesn’t want to know what her mother thinks of that). After years of trying to find something she’s good at, has Pip managed to walk straight into the job she was born to do?

She owes it to herself and poor missing Matty to find out.

But searching for Matty takes Pip into the strange, intimidating world of the rich and famous. And it soon becomes clear that some of these people’s love for themselves doesn’t extend to their fellow humans.

As Pip investigates further, she realises the question isn’t whether Matty ran away – it’s whether she will find him alive and make it home safely herself…

An absolutely brilliant, light-hearted cozy mystery for fans of M.C. Beaton, T E Kinsey, Lauren Elliott and Joanne Fluke, featuring an irresistible new heroine.

My thoughts:

Having read the synopsis to the book, I hoped the book would live up to the ‘hype’. I’m thrilled to say it does because Pip is a fun character, with a heart of gold but also she is a magnet for disasters. All the way through the story, we find out why she never holds job down for very long. I loved the way these ‘excuses’ were subtly dropped into the story, and they made this reader smile.

I’m hoping this will be the first of a series. Pip has been given the job to find a missing teenager due to a mix up, and she is determined to solve the case. With the help of her gorgeous landlord, her parenting blogger sister and some new friends, she starts to work out where Matty may be hiding or being held.

This story flowed so well, as Pip got herself further into the investigations and discovers that she isn’t the only person pretending to be someone else. I’m thrilled to have discovered another new fantastic author to follow in 2020, and look forward to reading more in the future.

Author Bio:

Katie Gayle is the writing partnership of best-selling South African writers, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel. Kate and Gail have, between them, written over ten books of various genres, but with Katie Gayle, they both make their debut in the cozy mystery genre. Both Gail and Kate live in Johannesburg, with husbands, children, dogs and cats. Unlike their sleuth Epiphany Bloom, neither of them have ever stolen a cat from the vet.

Buy Links:Amazon:




How Love Actually Ruined Christmas (or Colourful Narcotics) by Gary Raymond #HowLoveActuallyRuinedChristmas @GaryRaymond_ @ParthianBooks @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours

Thank you to Emma from Damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to join the blog tour. Thank you to Partian Books for a copy to read and review, my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.



“Love Actually dulls the critical senses, making those susceptible to its hallucinogenic powers think they’ve seen a funny, warm-hearted, romantic film about the many complex manifestations of love. Colourful Narcotics. A perfect description of a bafflingly popular film.” 

By any reasonable measurement, Love Actually is a bad movie. There are plenty of bad movies out there, but what gets under Gary Raymond’s skin here is that it seems to have tricked so many people into thinking it’s a good movie. In this hilarious, scene-by-scene analysis of the Christmas monolith that is Love Actually, Gary Raymond takes us through a suffocating quagmire of badly drawn characters, nonsensical plotlines, and open bigotry, to a climax of ill-conceived schmaltz. 

How Love Actually Ruined Christmas (or Colourful Narcotics) is the definitive case against a terrible movie. With a foreword by Lisa Smithstead.

My thoughts:

I have to admit that I have only watched the movie all the way through a couple of times, but have seen part of the movie on many occasions. The last time I saw Love Actually, my boss commented about how bad it was because Keira Knightly’s character was being stalked. This was the first time I had heard anyone say anything bad about Love Actually.

However, having read Gary Raymond’s book, I can confirm there are a lot of issues with the story, the filming, the characters and the director.

The book takes us through the movie, scene by scene. It reminds you how all the main characters are interlinked in some way, either through family, friendships or just locations.

I do agree with many of Gary’s comments about the odd timelines, the blatant sexism, the inappropriate ‘weight’ comments about Martine’s character etc. However I must admit, that for all the many faults that were brought to my attention (I lost count!), I will probably still watch and enjoy the movie, whilst pointing out the faults.

Author Bio:

Gary Raymond is a novelist, critic, editor, and broadcaster. He is presenter of The Review Show for BBC Radio Wales and editor of Wales Arts Review. He is a regular writer on film, music, literature, and theatre, and can often be heard on BBC Radio 3 and 4 as an arts commentator and reviewer. His novels include For Those Who Come After (Parthian, 2015), The Golden Orphans (Parthian, 2018), and the upcoming Angels of Cairo (Parthian, 2021). 

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Purchase Links:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Parthian Books:


Publishing Information:

Published in paperback and digital format by Parthian Books on 2nd November 2020 

The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn

Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join the blog tour. Thank you to Clare Hey at Simon and Schuster for the copy of the book to read and review. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.


The smallest man. The biggest heart. The mightiest story. A compelling story, perfect for fans of The Doll Factory and The Familiars.

Nat Davy longs to grow tall and strong and be like other boys, but at the age of ten, he’s confronted with the truth; he’s different, and the day when the stares and whispers stop is never going to come.

Narrowly escaping life in a freak show, he’s plucked from his family and presented as a gift to the new young queen of England – a human pet to add to her menagerie of dogs and monkeys. But when Nat realises she’s as lost and lonely as he is, the two misfits begin an unlikely friendship – one that takes him on an unforgettable journey, as England slides into the civil war that will tear it apart and ultimately lead the people to kill their king.

Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is narrated by an irrepressible hero with his own unique perspective on life. His story is about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together.

My thoughts:

I have read a large number of historical fiction books this year and I’m pleased to say that this is one of the best (I’ve given it 5 stars on Goodreads).

The story begins when Nat is a young boy, who has already been overtaken in height by his younger brother. He believes his mother, thinking that he will have a growth spurt soon. However, his childhood changes dramatically after the visit to the local fair, where he realises that he will never grow any taller.

Nat tries hard to grow and avoid being sold to the local fair, and he does escape this fate. But is being sold to the local Duke to become a living doll for the young Queen Mary, going to be any better?

Nat moves to a pampered life, no more going hungry, wearing beautiful clothes and relaxing on luxury furnishings but still misses his family. Thankfully he meets Jeremiah, who was also chosen for the royal palace for his unusual height (for being much taller than normal) and develops a much needed friendship. Nat is determined to prove he is a man, not just a boy and with help from friends, he becomes an important member of the Queen’s court, and he helps save the Queen on a number of occasions during the start of the English Civil War.

The storytelling is superb and the pages flew by. This is an era of history I knew very little about, but now feel I understand more. The hero of the story is Nat, who is determined to help his family and friends survive the Civil War, and is willing to risk his own life to do so. This is a fabulous debut novel and I look forward to reading more books by Frances Quinn.

Author Bio:

Frances Quinn read English at King’s College, Cambridge, and is a journalist and copywriter. She has written for magazines including Prima, Good Housekeeping, She, Woman’s Weekly and Ideal Home. She lives in Brighton with her husband and who Tonkinese cats. The Smallest Man is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter @franquinn.

The Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford

Today I’m sharing one of my 5 star reviews from March 2020 for a book I enjoyed just before lockdown one, in March 2020. Thanks to Corvus Books for a copy via Readers First. The paperback of the book was published in October 2020.

Publisher comments:-

When Fred Lawson takes a summer job on St Kilda in 1927, little does he realise that he has joined the last community to ever live on that desolate, isolated island. Only three years later, St Kilda will be evacuated, the islanders near-dead from starvation. But for Fred, that summer is the bedrock of his whole life…

Chrissie Gillies is just nineteen when the researchers come to St Kilda. Hired as their cook, she can’t believe they would ever notice her, sophisticated and educated as they are. But she soon develops a cautious friendship with Fred, a friendship that cannot be allowed to develop into anything more…

Years later, to help deal with his hellish existence in a German prisoner of war camp, Fred tells the tale of the island and the woman he loved, but left behind. And Fred starts to wonder, where is Chrissie now? And does she ever think of him too?

Hardback published in March 2020.

My thoughts:-

I’ve read a lot of historical fiction over the past few years, but none by Elisabeth Gifford so far. I can see that I now need to go and read her previous books. Her new book, The Good Doctor of Warsaw is being published in January 2021.

I enjoyed visiting the St Kilda Elisabeth described, the detail about the lives of the islanders really brought the island to life. I had no idea about the hardship the people faced, cut off from the world by storms every winter and surviving on very little food. The book looks at different periods in time, including when Chrissie and Fred first meet and when Fred is fighting to survive in occupied France.

The book explores young love, jealousy, taking the blame, secrets and the loss of loved ones. Beautifully written, full of interesting details and emotion. One of my favourite books of the year.

337 by M. Jonathan Lee @mjonathanlee – #337LEE @HideawayFall @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #bookpromo

Today I’m joining the publication day blitz for 337 by M. Jonathan Lee with Love Book Tours by hosting an extract from the book. Please note the double-ended upside-down opening for this book is available in books ordered in hard copy from UK booksellers only.


337 follows the life of Samuel Darte whose mother vanished when he was in his teens. It was his brother, Tom who found her wedding ring on the kitchen table along with the note.

While their father pays the price of his mother’s disappearance, Sam learns that his long-estranged Gramma is living out her last days in a nursing home nearby.

Keen to learn about what really happened that day and realising the importance of how little time there is, he visits her to finally get the truth.

Soon it’ll be too late and the family secrets will be lost forever. Reduced to ashes. But in a story like this, nothing is as it seems.


As I dress, I wonder what would happen if I too decided not to visit Gramma. What if I decided that I couldn’t be bothered to make the effort? If I decided that instead of seeing my dying relative, I would pursue the imaginary possibility of playing music with a world-renowned rock star? And it instantly comes to me.

Nothing would happen. 

Nothing at all. 

Gramma would die. 


And the impact on my life would be the same as removing one grain of sand from the Sahara. 

But there is something that makes me different to my brother, my father. It is more than just a yearning not to be like them. It is actually a part of me. A part of what makes me the way I am. I am not like them. I have always played this role. I’ve spent a lifetime making up for their behaviour by doing more than one person could ever be reasonably expected to do. 

To be honest with you, Gramma dying alone doesn’t even bother me. 

After what happened, it’s no more than she deserves.

I make my way downstairs into the kitchen and click on the kettle. I try to imagine how I would have felt if my father had called and told me that Gramma had already died. I concentrate, stripping away my personal feelings for her and wrestling with how I should feel on hearing of the death of anybody. I am still thinking as the rush of steam is propelled into the underside of the kitchen cupboards, dispersing in all directions like the mushroom from an atom bomb. 

I decide that I will make the effort and at least visit her once. 

That feels right. I’ll do it tomorrow

Author Bio:

M Jonathan Lee is a nationally shortlisted author and mental health campaigner. His first novel The Radio was nationally shortlisted in the Novel Prize 2012. Since that time he has gone on to publish five further novels with ‘337’ being his sixth novel. Jonathan is a tireless campaigner for mental health awareness and writes his own column regularly for the Huffington Post. He has recently written for the Big Issue and spoken at length about his own personal struggle in the British national press on the BBC and Radio Talk Europe.

Endlessly fascinated by the human condition and what leads people to do the things they do to one another, Jonathan is obsessed with writing stories with twists where nothing is exactly how it first appears. 

Buy Link

Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

Today, I’m sharing another of my reviews from February 2020, for another 5 star read. Saving Missy by Beth Morrey is now available to pre-order in paperback, out in March 2021

Publisher comments:-

Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Woman meets dog…

The world has changed around Missy Carmichael. At seventy-nine, she’s estranged from her daughter, her son and only grandson live across the world in Australia, and her great love is gone. Missy spends her days with a sip of sherry, scrubbing the kitchen in her big empty house and reliving her past–though it’s her mistakes, and secrets, that she allows to shine brightest. The last thing Missy expects is for two perfect strangers and one spirited dog to break through her prickly exterior and show Missy just how much love she still has to give. Filled with wry laughter and deep insights into the stories we tell ourselves, The Love Story of Missy Carmichael shows us it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. It’s never too late to love.

My thoughts:-

Thank you to HarperCollins and Beth Morrey for a digital copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.

This was one of my favourite books of 2020 and I have been busy recommending it. The story starts slowly as we meet Missy and find out how small her world has become. Beth Morrey has created a wonderful ensemble cast (human and canine), who work together to help Missy find friendship, family and hope.

As a dog rescuer (we adopted Jake 2 years ago), I loved the relationship developing between Missy and Bobby, and the interaction with the other dog walkers.

In a world where we spend more time with our online ‘friends’ than our real friends, this is a reminder that humans need social interaction and to belong to a community, and that loneliness is a big issue. My father-in-law always had a dog and they kept him going, giving him a reason to get up and to go out.

A stunning debut novel which should be enjoyed with a dog curled up in your lap.

View all my reviews

War in the Valleys by Francesca Capaldi

I’m pleased to be sharing my review for the second book set in Dorcalon in Rhymney Valley, Wales by Frances Capaldi. Thank you to Sarah Hardy from Book on the Bright Side Publicity for inviting me to join the blog tour and to Hera Books for a digital copy via NetGalley. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.


WW1 marches on, but Violet faces her own battle at home

July 1916. Young mother, Violet Jones, lives a tough life in the Rhymney Valley, caring for 4-year-old Clarice and baby Benjy on her own while soldier husband Charlie fights on the Front Line. But when tragedy strikes, Violet’s life becomes even harder.

While they may be far from the battlefields, the effects of WW1 take their toll on the small mining community of Dorcalon, with food becoming scarce and more and more of their young men losing their lives.

With very little money coming in, and two babies to care for, Violet takes in a relative to help make ends meet. But far from easing her burden, it might turn out to be the worst decision she’s made.

As the Great War takes its toll on the nation, Violet faces her own battle. All alone in the world, can she protect her children, and herself? And will she ever find joy out of the depths of despair?

A captivating, emotional saga set in WW1 – will tug on your heart-strings and bring a tear to your eye. If you like Nadine Dorries, Rosie Goodwin or Sheila Newbury you will adore this beautiful Welsh saga.

Please check out the other reviews and Q&A sessions provided by the fabulous bloggers listed below.

My thoughts:

Back in June 2020, I shared my review for the debut novel by Francesca Capaldi, Heartbreak in the Valley ( War in the Valleys takes us back to Dorcalon in Rhymney Valley, starting a couple of months later.

I enjoyed returning to meet the characters, to find out what had happened after the explosion in the mine and the police investigation into racketeering. The primary focus of the first book was Anwen, in this book we find out more about Violet, one of her best friends.

Violet has to deal with loss and a lack of money. Sadly, someone who claims to be ready to help her, is actually trying to undermine her and is making her life more difficult. Violet needs her friends more than ever, but they are also busy dealing with an unexpected addition to the family and working long shifts in a munitions factory.

The losses of local men on the battlefields and down the mine, the lack of food and the poverty could make this a depressing read, but the story is full of community spirit and some humorous moments. I must admit that this is my favourite book of the series, possibly because I knew the characters better this time.

As the granddaughter of a miner, I’m enjoying the series. Thank you Francesca for another well written journey back in time.

Author Bio:

Several years ago, Francesca Capaldi pursued a childhood dream and joined a creative writing class. Lots of published short stories, a serial, and four pocket novels later, she’s now explored her mother’s ancestral history for a series of novels set in a Welsh colliery village. A history graduate and former teacher, she hails from the Sussex coast but now lives in Kent with her family and a cat called Lando Calrissian. 




The Foundling by Stacey Halls

The Foundling by Stacey Halls

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Today I’m sharing another of my 2020 5 star read reviews from February 2020.


Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why. Less than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

From the bestselling author of The Familiars, and set against the vibrant backdrop of Georgian London, The Foundling explores families, secrets, class, equality, power and the meaning of motherhood

My thoughts:

I have a confession. I still haven’t read The Familiars by Stacey Halls (it is on my Kindle ready to go).

However after seeing great reviews and reading the opening chapters of The Foundling, I decided to use my Readers First points in January 2020 to ‘buy’ a copy of this book. The hardback book is beautiful to look at, a stunning cover design.

The story is based on the true Foundling Hospital in London, set up to help children who had parents unable to care for them. From the opening chapter, when a young woman asks to give up her baby born just hours earlier, we are transported back in time to 1747 to watch the baby lottery.

The descriptions of Georgian London are of two different worlds – the rich and the very poor. The story is told from the view of both main characters and we are slowly drip fed information to help explain what happened after the visit to the Foundling Hospital. As a mother, this is a heartbreaking read in places.

I’ve been happy to recommend the book, it is one of the best historical fiction books I’ve read. Thank you to Readers First and Manilla Press for my copy.

View all my reviews

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Today on my book blog, I’m sharing another one of my 5 star reviews from 2020. I read and reviewed debut novel, The Flatshare back in February 2020 having read a copy on my Kindle. I have subsequently read and reviewed The Switch (see ) and I’m looking forward to reading The Road Trip, being published by Quercus in April 2021.


Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time. 

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…

My thoughts:

I bought the ebook in the summer of 2019 and finally read it in February 2020 after seeing many positive reviews on Readers First, Twitter and the Motherload Facebook page. I’m happy to be able to say that I also enjoyed the book, great characters and story, and I didn’t want the story to end.

I enjoyed the way the story moved between following the two main characters Leon and Tiffy – it was a little slow to start with as we got to know the characters and their back stories but quickly became a “I don’t want to put this down” page turner.

Loved the idea of them leaving helpful notes and home cooked meals for each other – sounded much better than some of my experiences of sharing a house as a student. Certain events were definitely laugh out loud moments, especially the shower in the morning.

View all my reviews