Second Skin By Sue Bentley – Blog Tour

I received Second Skin by Sue Bentley to review, a fantastic fantasy featuring shapeshifting dragons! This is the first book in the Bridge of Fire books published by Endeavour Venture available from Amazon.

Second Skin

Second Skin

Estranged from birth and raised on tales of the great mountain castle of Idrith-Core, where her distant father serves as Lord Commander and confidante of the King, Aledra Jewel-Wing was now going there to court.

As one of the Drakkoni, a race of powerful shape-shifters and conquerors of a wild land, she joins her stepmother at the festival for all peoples. But when in attempting to save a life, Aledra shifts into her Drakkoni Secondskin – her beautiful second soul: a giant flighted lizard with flaming breath – she breaks an ancient oath, and the tremulous peace between the Drakkoni and Esrans is shattered.

Branded a fugitive, hunted by her father, and aided in escape by the master-mancer who raised her, Aledra begins a journey for survival across a war-torn continent.

Sue Bentley

Sue Bentley

Sue lives in a house surrounded by a wildlife hedge so she can pretend she lives in the countryside. She enjoys reading, walking, cinema, researching her books, and painting and printmaking, when she’s not writing — which isn’t very often!

My Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed Second Skin, Aledra’s quiet life quickly changes with joining her mysterious father in court. When things go wrong, she ends up being held in a cell where she finally meets her father. The master-mancer who taught her, helps her escape. Throughout there are complicated characters such as Aledra’s father, Aledra herself and Penda. A mixture of love, war and dragons, Second Skin is a fantastic start to the Bridge of Fire. I can see Aledra growing further throughout the series and can’t wait to see where it leads.

Have you read anything by Sue Bentley before?

American Dreams By Kenneth Bromberg – Blog Tour

I received American Dreams by Kenneth Bromberg to review, a crime novel published by Flame Tree Press. From Czarist Russia to America where dreams are made, we follow Max and his father through a world of crime.

American Dreams Bookcover

American Dreams

In 1904 Czarist Russia, Max, a four-year-old Jewish boy, witnesses his mother’s rape and murder by Russian soldiers. After the boy’s father extracts terrible revenge, father and son escape to New York and settle on the Lower East Side, a teeming melting pot of recent immigrants.

Max meets a young Polish girl, Sophie, and the two children become inseparable playmates. By the time they are teenagers, Max excels at both school and sports, Sophie has become a stunningly beautiful young woman, and friendship has grown into love. Their plans are shattered when Sophie is forced to marry a local crime boss and once again, Max must simply watch as the most important person in his life is taken from him. In response, he begins a ruthless and violent climb to the top of the New York underworld

Kenneth Bromberg

Kennerth Bromberg Author photo

Kenneth Bromberg grew up in the beach cities of Southern California. He has a passion for tennis, American history, and literature. Having attended the University of California, Los Angeles, he then worked for several years as a bartender. He eventually returned to UCLA to pursue an MBA and become a certified public accountant.

After retiring from accounting, Kenneth fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a novelist. His first work, American Dreams, is based upon stories told by his grandmother who immigrated to New York from a small Jewish village near Kiev in the first years of the 20th century. If you like Mario Puzo’s The Godfather and Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, you will love this debut novel.

My Thoughts

I knew from the first chapter I would enjoy American Dreams as a crime fan and wasn’t disappointed. After a traumatic start for Max, we meet several other characters with some interesting backstories too, all leading them to America. Here they all work towards their own dreams. Forwarding to World War II where two of the sons of main characters serve, yet have their own dreams for the future too. American Dreams is rather violent throughout, mixing crime, love and a little history across several generations really well.

Do you enjoy violent crime novels too?

The Closer I Get By Paul Burston – Blog Tour

I received The Closer I Get by Paul Burston to read and review. This psychological thriller based around online relationships is deliciously creepy and twisted.

The Closer I Get By Paul Burston

The Closer I Get

Successful author Tom has writer’s block for the first time in his life. An online admirer, Evie is his main distraction, she simply won’t leave him alone. Eva is a smart, well-read and unstable woman living with her sick father. Social media is not only her escape but her everything and she takes social media friendships too far. When she’s hit with as restraining order, her world collapses, whilst Tom is free to live his life again and continue concentrating on his writing.

Things aren’t adding up though, Tom is also addicted to his online relationships, and they take a darker, more menacing turn, he’s powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on!

Paul Burston

The author of five novels and the editor of two short story collections. Paul Burstons most recent novel The Black Path was a WHSmith bestseller. His first novel Shameless, was shortlisted for the State of Britain Award. His third novel, Lovers & Losers was shortlisted for a Stonewall Award. The Gay Divorcee, his fourth novel was also optioned for television. Paul is the founding editor of Attitude magazine. He has also written for many publications including Guardian, Independent, Time Out, The Times and Sunday Times.

My Thoughts

The Closer I Get is so creepy because it is plausible. Social media stalkers are all too real and Paul Burston captures both the victim and the stalkers perspectives perfectly with some added twists throughout. I would absolutely recommend this if you enjoy thrillers full of twists surrounding authors.

Have you read any of Paul Burston other novels?

Zuru Smashers Epic Dino Egg

We received the Zuru Smashers Epic Dino Egg to review last week along with a Collectors Tin and a pack of 6 Dino Smashers. These fantastic new toys are so much, simply smash them and see what’s inside!

Zuru Smashers Epic Dino Egg

Zuru Smashers Epic Dino Egg

The Zuru Smashers Epic Dino Egg is a giant egg full of Dino fun. Crack open the giant egg to discover a giant Dino Egg Yolk bag packed full of goodies.

Zuru Smashers Epic Dino Egg

Eva had great fun smashing open the Epic Dino Egg as you may have seen over on Instagram on Friday.

Once we cracked the egg open we discovered a Dino Egg Yolk bag full of Dino goodies. We were so excited to get it open and find out what was inside.

Dino Egg Yolk Pack

The Epic Dino Egg comes with a Scratch N’ find map, a digging tool, Dino glowing slime, Ice age putty, fossil rock, fizzy lava volcano, 6 mini smash eggs containing surprise characters, instructions for rebuilding the egg and a smash-o-saur!

Egg Yolk Contents

We loved the Epic Dino Egg, each item contains bones to discover and build your smash-o-saur! Because the egg can be rebuilt we can keep having smashing fun too. Here’s a sneak peek below but we won’t spoil all the surpises.

Glowing Slime

This Epic Dino Egg really is epic with so many activities inside and collectibles this will make any childs day. We’ve had loads of fun rebuilding and smashing the eggs all over the place!

Collectors Tin

Smashers collectors tin

The Collectors Tin comes with one surprise character and one mini smash egg. This cool tin is fantastic for storing all your surprise characters in.

Dino Smashers

Mini Smashers

There are also 6 packs of mini Dino smashers available, you can buy any of the Zuru Smashers Dino range at Smyths, Argos, Tesco, Asda, B&M, Sainsbury’s and all major retailers.

Do you know someone who would love Zuru Smashers too?

My Little World – Unicorn & Flamingo Book Review

My Little World books are absolutely lovely! We received a copy of Flamingo: A Colourful Book of Counting and Unicorn: A Magical Book of Colours to review. Illustrated by Fhiona Galloway and Patricia Hegarty and published by Little Tiger. 

My Little World Books

My Little World

These brightly coloured board books with concentric die cuts are perfect for children aged 0-3. Izzy (almost 5!) absolutely loved them too. The bright artwork immediately caught Izzy’s attention and she wanted to read them straight away! With fingerholes and a cheerful rhyming text, these fun books make learning come alive for inquisitive young children and babies

My little world - Flamingo: Av colourful book of counting

Flamingo: A Colourful Book of Counting

Count the flamingos with your little one with this brightly coloured book. From one pink flamingo to 10 sleeping flamingos, this beautifully rhyming book encourages parents and child interaction. It also teaches numeracy, reading skills and enhances hand-eye coordination.

My Little World Unicorn: A magical book of Colours

Unicorn: A Magical Book of Colours

This sparkly, rhyming book of Unicorns teaches young children and babies the colours of the rainbow. Encouraging parent and child interaction and reading skill too, this lovely book is a great addition to the bookshelf!

Our Thoughts

Izzy really enjoyed the books and has read them several times with all of us repeatedly. With bright colours and fun themes, these books are bound to encourage all babies and children to enjoy learning to read.

Fhiona Galloway

A freelance illustrator for many years, Fhiona has enjoyed illustrating for a wide base of clients including many children’s publishers which she loves. She lives in the wast of Scotland with her husband, daughter an giant schnauzer and when she’s not reading, she enjoys spending time walking, watching films or reading.

Patricia Hegarty

Patricia began working in children’s publishing more years ago than she care to remember and is now Editorial Director at Caterpillar Books. As an editor she has worked on titles ranging from atlases to animal pop-ups, craft kits to crazy mazes and sticker books to secret diaries.

Do you know a little one who would love these books?

Razia By Abda Khan – Blog Tour

I received Razia by Abda Khan to review as part of the Random Things Blog Tours. Razia is a fast-paced thriller exposing the truth behind Britains darkest secret.

Razia - Front cover 

How far would you go to free a slave?

The novel is published to coincide with World Day against Trafficking in Persons which is held on 30th July 2019. People trafficking and modernday slavery is a massive problem worldwide with very few countries immune from it. Raising awareness can help increase the prevention of that.

Razia

Farah Jilani is a lawyer who lives and works in London. Having just ended a long relationship. Her parents are looking for a husband for her whether she wants one or not. This all seems normal enough until she attends a work dinner. The dinner is hosted by a dangerously powerful man and Farah comes across a young woman being kept as a domestic slave called Razia.

Travelling from the law courts of London to the brick kilns of Lahore, Farah begins to uncover the trap keeping generations of people enslaved. Everywhere she turns, Farah faces deep-rooted oppression and corruption. She teams up with a human rights lawyer Ali in a bid to seek justice for Razia. When the authorities finally step in their actions have dire consequences.

Can Farah discover the explosive secret behind these tragic events?

Abda Khan

Abda Khan Author Photo

A lawyer and campaigner who works with victims of domestic violence, Abda Khan has written two novels. Her first novel Stained was published in 2016. Abda Khan was highly commended in the 2017 NatWest Asian Women of Achievement Awards in the Arts & Culture category.. She also won the Noor Inayat Khan Muslim Woman of the Year Award 2019

My Thoughts

Razia really is a gripping read, I managed to finish it in just one day. I just couldn’t put the book down, Abda Khans passion shows through her writing. Years of research has helped create a fast-paced, character-driven thriller that you simply can’t tear yourself away from. I will be keeping my eyes peeled for future novels from Abda Khan and hunting down a copy of Stained too as her writing really draws you in.

Do you enjoy thrillers that also help raise awareness of important topics too?

The Fragility Of Bodies By Sergio Olguín – Blog Tour

I received The Fragility of Bodies By Sergio Olguín to review, a crime/thriller/mystery set in Buenos Aires. Journalist Veronica Rosenthal thinks she knows Buenos Aire until her latest investigation. Revealing a city where life is cheap and the games boys play are to the death.

The Fragility of Bodies

The Fragility Of Bodies

This is the first in a series of novels by Sergio Olguin starring journalist Veronica Rosenthal. Set in Buenos Aires, The Fragility of Bodies is also a TV series currently showing in Argentina. This sensual and terse novel is fiercely critical of a system which tolerates the lives of young boys being put at risk by the powerful and wealthy of Buenos Aires for sheer entertainment.

Veronica, a successful, young journalist is beautiful and unmarried with a healthy appetite for bourbon and men. Driven by a sense of justice, lust and ambition, Veronicas is a fascinatingly complicated heroine. Hearing a local train driver has committed suicide, jumping from the roof of a block of flats, she decides to investigate. Drawn in by the suicide note left, confessing to four mortal ‘accidents’ on the train tracks.

As far as the police are concerned the case is closed, suicide is suicide. Veronica just can’t let it go though. Continuing her investigations takes her on a journey through an unfamiliar world of grinding poverty and junkie infested neighbourhoods. Not to mention train drivers on commuter lines haunted by the memory of bodies hit at speed by their locomotives at night.

With the assistance of a train driver informant, a recovering junkie and two street kids who will risk their lives for a can of Coke, Veronica uncovers a dark secret. Discovering a group of men betting on working-class youngsters, convincing them to play Russian roulette by standing in front of fast-coming trains to see who endures the longest.

With bodies of children crushed under tons of steel, those of adults yielding to relentless desire, the resolution of the investigation reveals the deep bonds which unite desire and death.

Sergio Olguín

Sergio Olguín

Born in Buenos Aires in 1967, Sergio Olguin was a journalist before turning to fiction. Awarded numerous awards including Premio Tusquets 2009 for Oscura monótona sangre (“Dark Monotonous Blood“). His books have been translated into German, French and Italian. The Fragility of Bodies is the first novel to be translated into English by Miranda France.

Translated by Miranda France

Miranda France is the author of two acclaimed volumes of travel writing: Don Quixote’s Delusions and Bad Times in Buenos Aires. She has also written the novels Hill Farm and The Day Before the Fire. She has translated much Latin American fiction, including Claudia Piñeiro’s novels for Bitter Lemon Press.

My Thoughts

The Fragility of Bodies was a fantastic read! I love darker novels like this that delve into the dirty secrets of the wealthy and powerful. Veronica refuses to give up no matter how tough things get or who she is up against. She is determined to get her story and uncover these dark secrets that lead to young boys being killed and train drivers having terrifying nightmares of bodies crunching under steel but can she stop it?

Do you enjoy darker novels?

The Awakening Aten – Blog Tour

I received The Awakening Aten By Aiden K. Morrissey to review, a crime/thriller/mystery novel based in Egypt. You are quickly enveloped in an Egypt of whispers, fears, webs within webs and deceit upon deceit through the eyes of two families.

The Awakening Of Aten

The Awakening Of Aten

The Awakening Aten is full of murder, intrigue, political and rebellious conflict, corruption, tomb robbing war and executions. All set against a background of fundamental ideological change. We discover all this through the eyes of two families, one royal and one a commoner.

Yuya, whose tomb is in the Valley of the Kings, is a foreigner who rises from slavery to become Regent to an infant Pharaoh. This Pharoah is the most powerful man in the world’s wealthiest empire. His children and descendants will remain at the very heart of the country’s destiny.

Kha is a tomb painter and builder who experiences the despair of imprisonment and the horror of war. As overseer of the King’s works, he restores the Great Sphinx and inscribes the ‘Dream Stela’ placed between its paws, still visible today. Through tragic and deathly events his family and that of Yuya become entwined.

This is a fictional tale of real people, whose possessions and artefacts can be seen in museums throughout the worlds. It gives a voice to those people, inspired by their personal items buried with them 3,000 years ago.

Aidan K. Morrissey

Aidan K. Morrissey Author Photo

Aidan is of Irish heritage and was the first member of his family to be born outside of Ireland. His professional life has caused him to travel the worlds. Now settled in the North East of England he concentrates on writing. A graduate in Law, having worked in a commercial environment, he qualified as a Solicitor in 1981. Aidan’s career developed in an unusual way allowing him to work in various countries including Italy, Brazil, USA, India and Germany.

A holiday in Egypt sparked his passion for Ancient Egypt, specifically the latter part of the 18th dynasty. A history, which Pharoah Horemeb (Djeser-Kheperu-Ra circa 1319-1292 BCE) tried to destroy, only came to light in 1922 with the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Aidan has built up a substantial collection of academic books and novels on Ancient Egypt. Learning its customs, traditions and daily life so The Awakening Aten is the culmination of many years of research. He has visited all of the major museums containing artefacts from Egypt throughout the world. As well as spending months in Egypt itself studying the funereal valleys and other sites. All of this supplemented by internet research.

The Awakening Aten is the first in a planned five-book series, looking at the fictional lives of real people through a period of major political and religious change, spanning approximately 130 years.

My Thoughts

I remember first learning about Ancient Egypt in school and like Aidan, it sparked a passion for learning more about Ancient Egypt so I was excited to read The Awakening Aten. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed! It reads more lke a first party account of events instead of a fiction novel. Aidan’s writing is realistic and leaves you imagining everything so clearly, his depth of research shines throughout the entire book. Knowing The Awakening Aten is the first of five books I genuinely can’t wait to read more. Combining my love of reading and passion for Ancient Egypt, Aidan K.Morrisey has created an entirely unique series I’ll be hunting down for sure!

Do you enjoy historical novels? Do you have a passion for Ancient Egypt too?

One Way Out By A.A. Dhand -Blog Tour

I received One Way Out by A.A. Dhand to review as part of the blog tour. A Harry Virdee crime thriller set in Bradford that I simply couldn’t recommend more! Available from 27th June in Hardback from Bantam Press for £16.99.

One Way Out

A bomb detonates in Bradford City Park. When the alert sounds, DC I Harry Virdee has just enough time to get his son and mother to safety before the bomb blows. But this is merely a stunt.. the worst is yet to come.

One Way Out Front Cover

A new and aggressive nationalist group, the Patriots, hide a second device under one of the city’s one hundred and five mosques. In exchange for the safe release of those at Friday Prayers, the Patriots want custody of the leaders of radical Islamist group Almukhtareen – the chosen ones. The government does not negotiate with terrorists. Even when thousands of lives are at risk.

There is only one way out. But Harry’s wife is in one of those mosques. Left with no choice, Harry must find the Almukhtareen, to offer the Patriots his own deal.

Unputdownable

A.A, Dhand is not an author I had heard of before reviewing this book but as a fan of crime thrillers, I couldn’t wait to give it a go. From the first few pages I was instantly hooked. Dhand delves into the dark side of Bradford, a city divided by racial tensions and where he grew up.

A.A. Dhand

Harry Virdee isn’t your typical cop and has many layers we discover throughout the book, keeping you hooked to learn more. I thoroughly enjoyed One Way Out and will definitely be looking out for more books by A.A Dhand, especially Harry Virdee novels!

A.A. Dhand

Raised in Bradford, A.A. Dhand spent his youth observing the city from the counter of a mall convenience store. After qualifying as a pharmacist, he worked in London and travelled extensively before returning to Bradford to start his own business and begin writing. The history, diversity and darkness of the city have inspired his Harry Virdee novels.

Do you enjoy crime thrillers? Have you read any other A.A. Dhand novels?

Tips for Making Prints of Your Artwork – Guest Post

We have a fab guest post today full of tips for making prints of your artwork! I know a few of my readers are amazing artists so here are a few handy tips.

Your art is no doubt very important to you. It’s a form of self-expression, and every piece of art contains a little bit of you. Whether you want to print your artwork for friends, family, or even yourself (it’s okay to proud!), or you would like to make multiple prints to sell, there are many things to consider in order to make the most quality art possible. Here is everything you need to know about printing your art.

Criteria of Quality Printing

Resolution and Print Size

Artwork in your computer is made up of pixels. Essentially, images are measured in either DPI (Dots Per Inch) or PPI (Pixels Per Inch). The main difference is that DPI measures the amount of ink dots on a page, while PPI measures the number of pixels on a computer. Most digital photos are recorded at a resolution of 72 DPI. However, the standard resolution of a printed image is 300 DPI or PPI. In other words, that’s about 1200×1800 pixels for a 4”x6” image. Therefore, you need to make sure your art is at the standard size before printing.

That being said, make sure to take into account the size of your print when looking at pixels. For example, if you are printing something that is 12×24 inches, the pixels should come to 3600×7200, which is still 300DPI.

Ink and Surface Material

Ink is an important factor in printing quality art. Pigment-based inks are considered to be much higher quality than dye-based inks.

Similarly, the type of paper used to print the artwork is important. The best material to use is watercolor paper, rag paper, canvas, or any specially designed paper. Both the ink and the paper material should be labeled “archival”, which ensures quality printing.

Fine Art Printing: Giclée

If you’ve never heard of giclée, your probably thinking, what the heck is that and how do you pronounce it?? Well, it’s a high-quality printing option and it’s pronounced zhee-clay. Essentially, giclée is the first and only fine art print to be made with an inkjet printer. There is a major difference between giclée and digital printing, however. While digital printing is convenient, it is not an option that is made to last. Digital prints are not considered to be archival like giclée prints are because the materials are of lower quality.

In the end, giclée prints will not fade or be damaged by sun or humidity and they will invariably stand the test of time. The nice thing about giclée is that it is known as one of the best forms of fine-art printing and combines all the criteria of quality printing mentioned above.

Where Can You Print Your Art?

With a Printing Company

There are hundreds of printing companies out there, including many that specialize in giclée. With the quality of this type of printing, however, comes a more expensive price.

On the other hand, not all artists create fine art prints. If giclée printing isn’t something you are interested in and you are looking for a cheaper printing option, companies like Zoe Print have affordable options. You can get a custom quote and easily see if it’s the right printing option for you. Additionally, if you want your art on a brochure, business card, flyer, invitation, newsletter, postcard, or poster, Zoe Print is the perfect option.

At Home

You can always print your art at home. If you have a standard printer, you can print your artwork with that. However, as discussed before, digital printing produces a lower quality than fine art printing. As an option, you could purchase a printer that has a giclée option. In addition to the costs of paper and ink, purchasing a fine art inkjet printer can be costly. However, if you plan on making a large amount of art and are considering selling it, investing in a quality printer might be a good option for you.

Print Your Art Today!

Now that you are an expert at making prints for your artwork, you’re ready to share it with the world. No matter what kind of art you do -drawing, painting, photography, or other- you can easily create amazing prints of your artwork. Whether you decide to try giclée printing or go with a more affordable company like Zoe Print, rest assured nothing is more awesome than you sharing your art with the world!