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Saturday, 14 July 2018

#BlogTour - An Artisan Lovestyle - Kiltie Jackson

I'm absolutely thrilled to be one of today's stops on the blog tour for An Artisan Lovestyle. After reading Kiltie's debut novel, A Rock 'n' Roll Lovestyle I couldn't wait to read her next book and she certainly didn't let me down with the next instalment in the Lovestyle series!

Elsa Clairmont and Danny Delaney don't know each other but when they both die on New Year's Eve it sets off a whole chain of events. Thanks to Elsa's husband Harry and Danny's old art teacher William, who can often be found playing poker and eating crisps with Death, Elsa and Danny get a year to complete three tasks and possibly change their futures.

Following Elsa and Danny through the course of the year was an emotional journey. Elsa deeply misses her husband and Danny didn't have a happy childhood but seeing them change and grow as individuals as the story unfolds was an absolute delight to read.

The story in interspersed with chapters where we catch up with Death, William and Harry as they enjoy their boys nights. William and Harry quite often get the better of Death and mess up his plans but Death is used to their ways and often just replies with a roll of his eyes as he sees his well laid plans go awry.

I absolutely loved this book and when I finished it I felt like I'd been wrapped in a big hug as it gave me a real case of the warm and fuzzies! All of the characters are so believable -including Death - I mean, don't knock what you don't know right - and I really wanted Elsa and Danny to achieve their goals and get the lives that they both deserved. There was however, one character who I could have quite happily slapped round the face with a wet fish! I won't divulge who it was as I don't want to spoil anything for you all, but I always think that having a character that provokes that kind of reaction is the sign of a great writer and I'm sure if you read the book you'll soon realise who I'm talking about.

Ms Jackson has written a wonderfully heart-warming story about coming to terms with grief, moving on, overcoming your fears and the strength and support we gain from others. As for throwing in a hint of paranormal in the form of Death and departed loved ones into the mix - to me this was a stroke of genius! I'm all for the thought of loved ones on the other side looking out for us and for me this added a whole new dimension to this brilliant book. The story flowed seamlessly and I found myself fully engrossed in the lives of my new found best friends.

It doesn't matter if you haven't read A Rock 'n' Roll Lovestyle, as An Artisan Lovestyle can easily be read as a standalone, but I'd hate to think of you all missing out on two fantastic books so I would definitely recommend that you read them both!

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Author Kiltie Jackson is very generously giving you the chance to win an Amazon voucher!

Giveaway – Win a £40 / $40 Amazon Voucher (Open Internationally)

To enter the giveaway to be in with a chance of winning this great prize click here 

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Please note that The Haphazardous Hippo is not responsible for this giveaway.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour with these wonderful blogs:


With kind thanks to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for my spot on the blog tour and to author Kiltie Jackson for the review copy.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

#BlogTour - The Perfect Friend - Barbara Copperthwaite

Barbara Copperthwaite is one of my go-to authors so I couldn't wait to start reading The Perfect Friend. Well once I started it I couldn't put it down, infact I don't think I read it, it was more like I inhaled it!!

Alex and Carrie meet at a support group and despite their age difference, they are drawn to each other. Both ladies have their problems, Alex's husband has left her, her children won't speak to her and as a result she's suffering from anorexia, while Carrie is battling cancer.

Alex soon takes Carrie under her wing and they quickly form a close relationship, so when Carrie starts to receive threatening notes and parcels Alex hides them from her to try and protect her while she tries to discover for herself who could possibly have a grudge against a woman who is clearly suffering enough having to try to come to terms with terminal cancer.

The thing is though, both of these women have dark secrets that they are hiding from each other!

The Perfect Friend is a fantastic example of a well constructed and wonderfully written psychological thriller. It was so full of twists and turns that on more than on occasion I was convinced I knew who was telling the truth and who to trust, only to turn a few pages to find that Ms Copperthwaite had slickly and successfully pulled the proverbial wool over my eyes!

Watching these two women try to outwit each other made for compelling reading in this character driven novel. I'm still undecided as to whether or not I liked Alex and Carrie and I was constantly switching loyalties between the pair but all that mattered was that I get to the end of the book to discover the truth.

This is another stunning book from Ms Copperthwaite and one that will definitely make you think twice about your friends!!

You can follow the rest of the blog tour with these lovely blogs:

With kind thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for the review copy.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

The Hippo Hands Over . . . . to Val Portelli

I'm delighted to welcome author Val Portelli back to The Hippo today with a fabulous guest post with a how-to-guide about self-publishing.

                                                  How to self-publish 

Run out of tissues and no fingernails left after waiting for responses from publishers?

Never fear. Self-publishing is here. You’ve already done the hard work in writing the darn thing so it’ll be easy. Right?

First thing to do is restock the tissues, arrange for a daily delivery of chocolate and wine, and realise you will be spending months glued to Podcasts from thousands of experts, giving conflicting advice as they explain how easy it is.

Formatting, page layout and indent sizes will invade your dreams, if you have any time left to sleep. What’s little known is that self-publishing is the world’s best diet as meals become a thing of the past, apart from the chocolate of course.

Remember typewriters? If you do, have the number of a laptop repair person handy. Swipe on an IPad and swipe on a typewriter have different meanings. If you try to use the non-existent big sticky-out thing on the right-hand side of your computer, this will result in it ending up as a shattered mess on the floor.

Note to self: Add hair restorer and house cleaning person to the claim for Indie author expenses.
Formatting for Kindle? Delete all spaces, then spend days deciding whether to insert page breaks, next page, section breaks or continuous page breaks. You will also need a week to discover where these are on your computer, especially if you are using Windows 10. Part of the fun is finding them under the most unlikely tabs, just to confuse you and ensure you are paying attention.

Now to enter page numbers. Not as simple as it sounds as you don’t want numbers to start at one, which is the designated page for your book title. Your actual manuscript will begin around page twenty, after you enter the dedications for everyone who has assisted you so far. Acknowledgement of my name, together with links to my books will take about ten pages. You are welcome to use the remaining space for the contribution by next door’s cat.

Now you have page numbering under control you can go back and delete it all. Kindle allocates its own numbers depending on whether you read in portrait or landscape mode. You also need to take into account whether your prospective reader is in a single or double bed, has a partner who snores, and if they are reading in a south or north facing direction.

The next bundle of joy is inserting a table of contents. A brief pause while you have hysterics and that’s even before we consider inserting links. You will now realise you haven’t thought about a cover, blurb, pricing, territory or genre. Time for a break.

About five years will do while you take university degrees in accountancy, graphic design and marketing. You will also need to study the tax requirements of different countries, in particular whether they have reciprocal arrangements with your home country. (If you live in the states give up now.) Legal proficiency is a must. Best to make this a priority as by the time you understand all the implications of GDPR it will have been replaced by other regulations.

 Your expected income will be 60% of net sale price, less tax, less delivery and advertising costs, less the price of print cartridges and paper, less wine bill (not a legitimate write-off expense,) less bank charges and exchange rate fluctuations. From this you will realise to produce an income of 1p/1cent per book, the price will need to be set at approximately £520. Unfortunately, Auntie Amazon only allows a maximum sale price of approximately £300, and you are competing with a gazillion 99p or free books.

Now for the paperback. Forget everything you have learnt so far. Here’s where the ability to stand on your head and read upside down is particularly useful, as you learn how a physical book is constructed, with a back cover and a spine which is not needed for the Kindle version.

One of your degrees might come in handy here as you work out the spine size relative to the interior and exterior margins, cut offs and bleeds, whether the person (or robot) slicing the book had a good night up the pub, or an argument with their partner, which might make their hand shaky. Don’t forget left is right and vice versa, and the actual size of your book will depend on font and preferences for tall thin ones, short fat ones or something in between.

Now that wasn’t too difficult was it? The next stage will be to tackle marketing and networking. Excuse me for a while. Before beginning the next tutorial, I need to reassure these men in white coats that I’m an author and totally harmless. Now, where did I leave that bottle? Cheers.

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                                                     Author bio

Photo courtesy of Val Portellli

The author’s pen name Voinks began many years ago. It started as a joke when a friend bought a holiday home abroad, then gradually spread through the family, so it was an obvious choice when her first book was published.

Despite receiving her first rejection letter aged nine from some lovely people at a well-known Women’s magazine, she continued writing intermittently until a freak accident left her housebound and going stir crazy.

To save her sanity she completed and had published her first full length novel. This was followed by a second traditionally published book before deciding self-publishing was the way to go. In between writing her longest novel to date at over 100,000 words, she publishes weekly stories for her Facebook author page and web site.

She writes in various genres, although her short stories normally include her trademark twist of ‘Quirky.’ From having too many hours in the day, she is now actively seeking out a planet with forty-eight-hour days, to have time to fit in all the stories waiting to be told.

She is always delighted to receive reviews, as they help pay for food for the Unicorns she breeds in her spare time.

Val's latest book is called Weird and Peculiar Tales. It's a collection of short stories, some written by Val and others by fellow author Paula Harmon. 

Housework fairies, strange events, dragons, unicorns and alternative fairy tales; there’s something for everyone in this unique collection of short stories.

Ranging in length from succinct teasers to longer narratives, the characters mix and match to provide a roller-coaster of emotions. The variety of styles and themes will keep you intrigued until the final ‘And they all lived happily ever after.’

Or did they?

 You can find out more about Val, her books and connect with her using the links below: