The Name Beneath The Stone: Secret of the Unknown Warrior by Robert Newcome @NewcomeRobert @UnicornPubGroup @Bookollective #HistFic #Remembrance #UnknownWarrior

the name beneath the stone

The Name Beneath The Stone written by Robert Newcome, publisher Universe (Unicorn Publishing Group), is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

To buy link:

Book Blurb

Three generations, one family, connected by an historic secret. 1917 Private Daniel Dawkins fights at Messines Ridge and Passchendaele. He writes home to his true-love Joyce, but reveals little of his extreme bravery, his kindness, his loyalty to his comrades and the horrors they experience on the Western Front. 1920 Captain Peter Harding is tasked with a secret mission to assist in the selection of a body dug up from the battlefields of Flanders to be buried in Westminster Abbey as the ‘Unknown Warrior’. Events take place on that expedition that come to haunt him for the rest of his life. 2011 Sarah Harding discovers Daniel s letters and Peter s diaries. Together with historian James Marchant she pieces together the hidden truth behind the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and must decide what to do with it. Values are challenged and characters are tested in this gripping novel which asks what if the identity of the Unknown Soldier was discovered – and should that secret ever be revealed?


I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I feel honoured to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Robert Newcome’s debut novel: The Name Beneath The Stone.

The Name Beneath The Stone is a remarkable story that’s insightful, thought provoking, poignant filled with raw, authentic images and scenes.  I was completely enthralled by the story and the book is very current with many countries taking time to remember and never forget the fallen heroes from all hostilities with Remembrance Day on the 11th November.

Robert Newcome has taken hold of a fact from 1916 and a pivotal moment in the world’s history of wartime remembrance and he has cleverly woven this fact with fiction.  He has created a brilliant historical time-slip novel that spans almost a hundred years.  I have found often that I’ve been ignited by history through fictional novels based around certain historical events and I would highly recommend picking up a historical fictional novel to gain a thirst for history.

This is the story of three lives: it’s 1917 and we have Private Daniel Dawkins fighting at Messines Ridge and Passchendaele.  In 1920 Captain Peter Harding was issued with a top secret mission to dig up the body of an unknown warrior to be brought back to London to be buried in Westminster Abbey.  In 2011 Sarah Harding, the granddaughter to Peter Harding, discovers personal letters and diaries dating back to WWI.  These three individuals hold a link to each other and Sarah with the help of a historian delve deeper in uncovering what becomes an astonishing chain of events that was equally riveting and so very poignant.

Private Daniel Dawkins was confident in his role as a soldier he was brave, he supported his colleagues and had a knack of understanding wartime strategies.  Daniel had had a very difficult upbringing so being in the thick of things in the war fields felt almost calm like compared to his past.  Daniel had a sweetheart back home in the UK and when his relationship became more serious his feelings towards the intensity of the warzone changed and he held a different perspective for the future.

A few years after the war had ended and peace was declared Captain Peter Harding was sworn to secrecy with a mission that felt overwhelming for any man.  However, this was only the start for Peter for what was to become a lifelong struggle with something that would play on Peter’s mind since the eventful day back in 1920.

When Sarah Harding discovers the wartime notes dating back to WWI and tries to ask her ailing father the significance of them she is left with more questions than answers.  What follows is a mystery of her own heritage and how it may hold a vital role in the commemorative stone of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey.

I was totally transfixed by this fictional story based on a remarkable event in history.  The author, Robert Newcome, did not spare us any details and we witness the raw reality of war.  The story was gripping, authentic and absorbing and the ending left me with shivers of emotion and with a whole heap of desire to know more.

About the Author

the name beneath the stone robert newcomeAfter five years serving as an officer in The Light Infantry, Robert studied Political Philosophy at Exeter University. Following this he had various management positions in the John Lewis Partnership, finally running management training. He then spent a number of years working for management consultants before setting up his own business with a colleague in 2007. Throughout this period he was writing articles, short stories and novels in his spare time.

Robert has just joined Twitter @NewcomeRobert

Finding Blossoms in the Darkness by Simin Sarikhani blogtour ‘Best Bits’ @FindingBlossoms @Bookollective #mentalhealth #blogtourbestbits #giveaway


finding blossoms in the darkness

Finding Blossoms in the Darkness written by Simin Sarikhani, publisher Cultureshock Media Ltd, is available NOW in paperback format.

To buy link:

Book Blurb

A deeply moving memoir of a mother’s journey through deepest loss to hope. Beautifully designed and produced, featuring the gorgeous illustrations of Lesley Buckingham. Publication supported by imaginative marketing and publicity campaigns from Cultureshock and Bookseller Rising Stars Bookollective. A refugee from revolutionary Iran, Simin Sarikhani had fled her home, leaving all that she had to make a new life on the other side of the world. Although no stranger to life’s challenges, she would face none so great as the death of her only child, Zhubin, at the age of 21. This heartfelt account describes one mother’s journey through the unbearable pain of a child’s death to find what had seemed forever lost: hope, meaning, love and even joy. Guided by the letters her son wrote to her to be read after his death, and his other insightful writings, Simin was able to find light in the darkness. In this book, she shares not only her own story but also Zhubin’s simple words, with the wish that they may also bring some comfort to other bereaved parents.

finding blossoms in the darkness tour poster

Thank you for joining the blog tour for Finding Blossoms in the Darkness. Today we are sharing the best bits of the tour so far, alongside a giveaway to win a Paperback copy! (UK Only).  To enter the giveaway please comment below with the name of a plant or flower that makes you smile and I will choose a winner on 2nd October 2019.

Tour Reviews:

‘One of the most beautiful {mental health books} I have read in a while. I could never do it justice. You really need to read Finding Blossoms in the Darkness yourself to see just how beautiful and well-articulated the book is.’

‘You won’t leave Finding Blossoms in the Darkness empty-handed. From this amazing book, you will leave with the strength to get through whatever hardship you are currently experiencing. Please do pick up a copy. I promise you won’t regret it.’

‘this book is pretty….pretty emotive and pretty poignant. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that Simin felt when she lost her son, Zhubin, It takes a lot of courage, and a lot of strength to be able to put those emotions into words for other people, especially strangers, to read.’

‘Life isn’t fair at all, but the fact that Simin chose to share her grief alongside feelings of hope, love, and poignancy was incredibly moving. A breath of fresh air if you will. ‘

‘‘Finding Blossoms in the Darkness’ may be a memoir about Simin’s own personal loss, however it is also a book which will no doubt give other bereaved parents, or members of the family, the strength to breathe.’

About the Author

Simin Sarikhani was born in Iran, and now divides her time between London and Montreal. Finding Blossoms in the Darkness is her first book.

If Trees Could Talk by Holly Worton @hollyworton @bookollective #blogtour #bookexcerpt


if trees could talk

If Trees Could Talk: Life Lessons from the wisdom of the wood written by Holly Worton, publisher Tribal Publishing, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link:

Book Blurb

All trees have a story.
Holly Worton has spent the last few years talking to trees – the birches, the oaks, the beeches and the sycamores.
You’re probably wondering: How is it that trees can talk? Is this for real?
Trees are living, breathing organisms which humans are able to connect and talk to on a deeper level through silent, telepathic communication.
Trees have a much broader perspective on life compared to humans. Trees can live hundreds and even thousands of years.
This means Trees have thousands of years of wisdom that we’re able to tap into. Talking to the trees can bring us back to our true selves and can reflect back to us the things we need to see in ourselves. It can also be a space for deep healing.
Living in the technology age, however, we spend our lives connected to computers, mobile phones, and video games. Consequently, we’ve become increasingly disconnected from ourselves and from Nature.
This book is meant to gently encourage you to get back to Nature and turn to the magic and the wisdom of the trees. By reconnecting to Nature, you can improve your relationship with yourself, which will help you make better, more aligned choices in your life.
This book is for you if:
You love Nature and the outdoors.
You feel like there’s something more to life, but you don’t know what that is.
You’re feeling disconnected from yourself, like your life has somehow gotten off track.
You feel like you don’t really know who you are anymore… or maybe you’ve never truly known yourself at all.
Life is going just fine, but you have the notion things could be much better.
Throughout this book, you’ll follow the author, Holly Worton on a journey of connecting on a deeper level with the wisdom of the trees. You’ll hear their stories, and you’ll be given a series of experiments to carry out, should you choose to do so. These will help you to connect with yourself through connecting with Nature, and they’ll open you up to the deep wisdom and healing that the trees can offer.
The trees will help you to get out of your head and into your body, so you can feel more deeply and truly experience all the JOY that life has to offer. They’ll add a new level of richness to your life that you have never thought possible.

if trees could talk banner

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Holly Worton’s latest book: If Trees Could Talk.  I have the pleasure of sharing an excerpt:


I remember exactly when I first began talking to trees: it was in May 2015. A couple of years prior, I had started getting weekly Akashic Records emails from my friend Vickie Young, and it was one of her messages that sparked a new chapter in my life and ultimately led to the creation of this project. The Akashic Records are an extensive library of energetic records of all souls, including their past, present, and possible future lives. It includes all events, thoughts, words, emotions, and intentions ever to have occurred in these past, present, or possible future lives. It’s like an archive of each person throughout all their lifetimes. It is thought that each soul has its own Records, like a set of encyclopedias where each book in the set represents a single lifetime. It’s the history — and future — of you, as a soul.

These Records can be quickly and easily accessed in a variety of different ways. There are plenty of training programs available online, and author Linda Howe shares in her books a simple prayer that she uses to access the Records. That’s how I first learned to access the Akashic Records myself, and it’s how I continue to do so today.

Even though I know how to access my own Records, I rarely take the time to do it, which is why I greatly value the weekly messages that I get from Vickie. They’re short and focused, and they often provide a starting point for my journaling and mindset work each week. I’ve been getting them on and off since 2013, and they’re a very important part of my personal development work. On this particular week, back in May 2015, I received the following message from Vickie and my Records Keepers:

This week Holly, when you are on your sacred walks, take a moment and listen to the plant spirits. They have so much to tell you and they want to share with you their knowledge of the medicine that plant people have for you and for others.

Hold your hands on a tree (you know, The Tree!) and just listen for a voice in an unexpected way. Feel the energy of the tree and notice how it is waking up and moving inside. Feel the energy of the tree inside of your body and notice that a chakra stirs up.

Notice this on each plant that you hold. You see…each plant that you come in contact with will have a healthy influence and message for you. All you have to do is listen and believe!

To be honest, I was a bit skeptical when I read this email. “Me? Talk to trees? I don’t know how to do that,” I thought. But later that week, when I went on my weekly Nature walk, I had the opportunity to give it a try when I got lost in the woods. In fact, I got lost so many times, I turned an 11.6 mile (18.6 km) walk into a 16.7 mile (26.8 km) walk. I was on a route from Milford to Haslemere in Surrey, England, and I was following the directions that I had printed out. I didn’t have a map with me, which was not unusual at the time because, at this point in my life, I often went walking without a map. Later, I would go on to do more training in outdoors leadership and navigation, and I became much more careful on my walks: always walking with a paper map and compass for navigation, with the OS Maps app on my phone as a backup.

But back in 2015, I was a bit reckless. I did most of my walking in the lowlands of Surrey, which always felt like a safe environment to wander around in. Unlike in the hills of California — where I grew up — in Surrey, there were no bears, mountain lions, or rattlesnakes to worry about. It always felt relatively harmless, which had led me to put caution to the side when I went out walking.

Before I got lost for the first time that day, I remembered my weekly message from the Records Keepers, and I stopped to connect with the trees. I walked up to one at random, and I put my hands on its bark. I immediately heard the message: “It’s okay.” The words sounded clearly in my head, in a calm, male voice. I remembered to focus on my chakras, as the message from my Records Keepers had suggested, and I felt movement in my throat center as the energy shifted. It made sense that my fifth chakra would be activated, as I was focusing on communication with the trees. The fifth energy center, or throat chakra, is the one that’s related to communication and expression.

I was confused by the tree’s message: “It’s okay.” What did that mean? That was all the tree had to say to me, and at that point, I didn’t understand what it meant. I assumed that I must have gotten something wrong, and that I was missing another part of the message. After all, I was new to this tree communication thing. I went to another tree, hoping to get more information, but it repeated the same message, albeit in a different male voice. Once again, I felt movement in my throat chakra. It was as though new avenues of communication were stirring within me, yet I couldn’t understand what the trees were actually trying to tell me.

Their message wasn’t clear (or so I thought), but I resolved to continue on my walk and try again later. I assumed that because I was new at tree communication, I either wasn’t getting the full details, or I didn’t understand the words I had been given. However, I would soon understand that “It’s okay” was all I needed to hear for me to know exactly what action to take next.

About the Author

Holly Worton is a podcaster and author of nine books who helps people get to know themselves better through connecting with Nature, so they can feel happier and more fulfilled. Holly enjoys spending time outdoors, walking long-distance trails and exploring Britain’s sacred sites. She’s originally from California and now lives in the Surrey Hills, but has also lived in Spain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina. Holly is a member of the Druid order OBOD.

Holly ran her first business for ten years, building it up to become a multi-million-dollar enterprise. When she went into the coaching world she was confident that she had the business and marketing skills she needed to set up a new company. And she did – but she struggled to grow her new venture quickly because she encountered fears, blocks, and limiting beliefs that she didn’t even know she had.

She discovered that pushing forward and taking action just wasn’t enough. She needed to transform her mindset and release her blocks, as this was the only way to take the right actions to move her new business forward. Thus began her journey of intense personal development through deep mindset work, which transformed her existing coaching business into a focus on helping people with their business mindset.

Eventually, she realized that she wanted to devote her time to helping people through her writing, and she let go of her mindset business to focus on her books. Now, Holly continues to write about mindset, long-distance walking, and connecting to Nature.




The Duke and the Imposter (The French Orphan Book 5) by Michael Stolle @MichaelStolle16 @Bookollective #blogtour #authorinterview #HistFic


The Duke and the ImposterThe Duke and the Imposter written and self-published by Michael Stolle is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.  The ebook is also included in the kindleunlimited scheme.

To buy link:

Book Blurb

It’s a beautiful day in the seventeenth century. Pierre, Marquis de Beauvoir, Duke of Hertford and his small family arrive for a picnic on the banks of the River Loire in the grounds of his castle of Montrésor. It is a garden Eden – beautiful and peaceful. But fate strikes and, taken by surprise, the lunch party is ambushed.
Pierre is found later by his faithful valet, barely clinging to life, but his wife and only son have vanished without a trace. Beyond consolation, Pierre is convinced that his family has been annihilated. Luckily his friends François and Armand rush to the castle from Paris to his aid – and to investigate.
The quest leads to the coast of France and then on to the shores of England, a country torn apart by old loyalties to the Stuart king and the rise of the new Puritan gentry.
As the friends come closer and closer to the viper’s nest they must find out the truth, and track down the mastermind behind the ambush, who is prepared to stop at nothing until he has taken Pierre’s place and styled himself the next Duke of Hertford. A man not known to take prisoners. Soon Pierre and his friends are not only fighting against an enemy who’s ruthless and vile, they’re racing against time, the biggest enemy of all.

the-duke-and-the-imposter poster

I am so pleased to be involved in the blogtour celebrating and promoting the launch of Michael Stolle’s latest novel: The Duke and the Imposter.  The Duke and the Imposter is book five in The French Orphan series.

I’d like to welcome the author, Michael Stolle, to my blog and I have a few questions regarding his work I’d like to share:

1. What intrigues you about writing fiction set in the 17th century?

I wish I could give an elaborate and concise explanation. In fact I devoured hundreds of history books – fiction and non-fiction – but varying from the Assyrian empire to the recent European history. I had no true preference.

I always loved the 17th century, the progress of science and philosophy freed people from old patterns, the Vatican lost its iron grip on politics and people’s minds in many countries, creating new political powers and alliances. Every author loves a dose of suspense and chaos

One day, I was frustrated as I was reading a historical novel – and all appeared fake and wrong to me. The leading character didn’t fit – the plot was supposed to be playing in medieval times – but nothing matched, it was a piece of cheap romance just written hastily for effect.

I thought, I can do this better – and suddenly the characters of Pierre and Armand materialized and as the Cardinal Richelieu had always fascinated me, I chose his period. It was as if these characters had always been there, just waiting for me to start writing. Weird…

2. The Duke and the Imposter is book five in The French Orphan series; as a new reader coming into the series at this point can you give a brief summary of the story to far?

That question is a challenge as a lot happened…

The leading character Pierre de Beauvoir is an orphan, raised in a French monastery school. Here he discovers with the help of his friend Armand that in fact he’s the heir to two big fortunes: his father was a French Marquis, his mother inherited the title of the Duchy of Hertford. But the Prime Minister of France (the infamous Cardinal Richelieu) and his French cousin Henri try to get hold of him as they want the fortune that comes with both titles. Pierre’s life is constantly in danger and this hunt goes on for almost two years and spans from France to England and culminates in Venice where the final encounter with his foe Henri takes place. As the boy becomes a young adult Pierre falls in love and marries – whilst his friend Armand is constantly falling in love, he just can’t help it.

In the end it’s friendship that prevails and will save Pierre.

I’ve been criticized because the story has a happy ending, but that’s what I wanted it to be. There’s enough heart-wrenching drama in the bookstores, no need for me to add another one.

I totally agree with you about happy endings and we need more of these 🙂

3. Are there any other historical eras that intrigue you?

I’m reading the series Vespasian from Robert Fabbri at the moment and the Imperial Rome is a truly fascinating era. But I wouldn’t dare start writing a novel at this stage as the required level of detail of Roman daily life would be quite a challenge.

I also like Georgette Heyer’s Regency novels, I think she’s been underrated as an author, I adore her dry sense of humour. The Grand Sophy is my favourite. I love the depiction of Regency life, I guess many Jane Austen fans will agree.

4. I am fascinated how fiction can bring history to life. Do you undertake lots of research prior to starting a book?

I have the advantage that I have read lots of books and that I travelled extensively, so I could describe most locations as I had seen and visited them. But I drilled down and checked historical facts, visited museums and studied old maps to be as accurate as possible. The Metropolitan Museum in New York is a treasure, I learnt a lot there. Wikipedia is a blessing as well, it saves hours and days of browsing archives. I had to learn that men wore breeches and not pants. Many authors walk into the trap and mention windows in coaches but those have been invented later, in the 17th century they only had blinds. Being precise on these kinds of details is important for me.

5. What’s next, do you have a work in progress?

I may write a story focusing on Pierre’s best friend Armand, but I haven’t made up my mind yet.

Thanks for the opportunity of being part of your blog tour!

Thank you Michael Stolle for the insightful answers and for joining me on the tour.

About the Author

Born and educated in Europe, Michael has always been intrigued by the historical setting and the fact that what makes us human was as true in the 17th century as it is now.
He has been reading and writing about history for longer than he cares to recall…



The Eyes That Look by Julia Grigg blogtour book review


the eyes that look

The Eyes That Look written by Julia Grigg, publisher Universe Publishing Group, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.

The paperback is available from all good book retailers including Waterstones, WHSmith and amazon.  The ebook is available for amazon kindle and kobo.

To buy link (amazon UK):

To buy link (Waterstones):

Product Details

We may have eyes that look – but how clearly do we see? This compelling novel of art and adventure, Julia Grigg’s debut, is set in the feverish creativity of mid-sixteenth century Italy. Francesco Bassano wants to find out how and why an extraordinary painting was made; the story traces his quest to discover the secrets of the portrait’s past. Francesco’s journey, his coming-of-age, takes him and his questions to Venice, Verona, Maser and Florence. Encountering the High Renaissance’s masters Titian, Veronese and Vasari in the very act of creating and recording the era’s stupendous art and architecture, he is witness to astonishing achievements. Enthralled, he learns of the determination needed for innovation and the sacrifices demanded of an artist if cherished ambition is to become reality. Little by little he unravels what lies behind the painting, gaining new understanding of love, truth and beauty, and of loyalty, devotion and the unbreakable bond between a master and his dogs. However, in delving deeper, the past’s dark side reveals itself: cruelty, inhumanity and human frailty — and Francesco cannot avoid the experience of bitter betrayal. A spirited, entertaining fiction drawing on historical facts, The Eyes that Look is multi-sensual in its storytelling, inviting readers to revel in the unrivalled artistic riches of the Italian Renaissance.

the eyes that look poster

I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.

I was kindly sent a paperback copy for review and it is stunning and I am most grateful to the publishers and blogtour organisers for this.  It has a glorious image of the famous Bassano’s Hunting Dogs painting on the front and in the inside cover.  The colours are rich but there’s a warm, earthiness to them.  I would strongly urge you to buy a copy of the paperback instead of an ebook due to this sumptuous cover.  Many a times I’ve just found myself mesmerised by the eyes and the facial expressions of the dogs.

I enjoy historical fiction, mainly romance I have to admit, but I loved both history and art at school and still appreciate both subjects now, however I’ve never studied Art History, the classics and their meanings.  Firstly, I was taken by this book by the cover image and I can see why this painting by Jacopo Bassano of the Hunting Dogs is so famous.  The eyes of the dogs draw you in and you can feel life within them.  I love the almost muted colours of the blue and copper.  It’s quite a simple painting with two main colours but I feel the image holds so much emotion.  The synopsis then drew me in about a mystery surrounding this painting, I wanted to find out more.

Julia Griggs novel based on facts around this classic painting was quite fascinating.  We travel back in time to Italy 1566 when Jacopo Bassano’s son, Francesco, was learning the craft from his father and he was keen to make his own mark on the art world.  Stumbling across sketches of the dogs Francesco was equally mesmerised by the images and was eager to learn more.  However, his father wasn’t keen on revealing the story behind the images and it was as if he was forbidden to disclose any further details.  Francesco was undeterred and went on a mission travelling far and wide through Italy and through the lives of many people who were linked to the painting.

The story behind the painting was to reveal much heartache and tragedy that was very dark at times to learn about.  The story also revealed glimmers of hope and of acceptance.

This is a story not to be rushed, it’s a story to read at your leisure to fully appreciate and enjoy this fictional tale based on facts around the Italian Renaissance by Julia Grigg.  The author definitely evoked many emotions within me and she captivated me to a time and event I had no knowledge of.  It’s given me an insight into a world of classical artists and paintings and it’s left me pondering about the stories behind many other classics.

Quite a beautiful telling of an almost tragic tale.  Julia Griggs words took me to rural Italy in the mid 1500’s journeying with a young man eager for his own independence with his craft but eager for the truth surrounding a picture that had spellbound many.  A painting that would stay with Francesco Bassano for the rest of his life with the lessons learned from his journey.

I’d like to share a quote from the book that I particularly enjoyed:

“You put a dog into a composition, you affirm life.  It’s like lighting a lamp in a darkening room: hold the flame to the wick and in the next instant you’re imbued with warmth and good feeling.”

About the Author

Julia Grigg started out in fashion journalism, her first job on Vogue, also writing on the arts, food and travel. She retains an abiding interest in all these but soon moved into a career with UNICEF as a writer and advocate for children’s issues, deployed to some of the world’s most demanding and complex countries.

Julia began The Eyes that Look – the secret story of Bassano’s Hunting Dogs while studying for the Bath Spa University Masters in Creative Writing. An early draft was longlisted for the Exeter First Novel Prize.

The novel was years in the making before a single word was put on the page. Writing it meant Julia could delve deep into the Italian High Renaissance, indulging a lifelong fascination with its art, music and poetry. In the research process she embraced online study, attended the Courtauld Institute summer school and the British Institute in Florence, and spent much time in Italian archives, galleries and churches as well as in trying to master the language.

Julia is working on the second novel of a planned Renaissance trilogy, involving mid 1500s Rome, Florence and Venice settings and some of the same cast of characters as The Eyes that Look.

Cornish in origin, Julia spends as much time as she can in the West Country, always thrilled to be once again crossing the Tamar. Dogs are another passion; she and her husband share their home with a pair of black and tan dachshunds.