Blog Tour: The Characters Within Death Dolls by @asfarrant #RandomThingsTours


Benjamin McGuinness fulfils his dream of establishing successful businesses and gives jobs with a new home to some of life’s misfits, deep in the English countryside on a farm. Everything seems perfect and his workers are as close as family.

A fire strikes close to home, a disaster that changes his perception of life and one of his loyal workers takes the chance to propose a life-changing venture.

This new business drags Lisa, his sister, into the deadly web of deception.

When exiled Russian twins join the family a symbolic tattoo is created that drives Benjamin’s money into a new league.

Benjamin knows that his future is defined by ‘the family’.

Will greed cause everything to crumble before his eyes, or will there be brutal consequences to their actions?

The Characters Within  Death Dolls:

Hello, thank you for having me on your blog, Amanda. I am lucky and privileged to be able to write this guest post today.

Today I am talking about that essential element to a story… characters!

Before I started to write stories and books naming a character was a total mystery to me, and the only thing that seriously deterred me from writing.

A submission to an anthology was my first story. This story evolved and became Famously Ordinary. I told my friend who recruited me that naming characters was putting me off, and he laughed!

James Dean was a simple name to choose as it was a real life person that I had met in about 1999 that made me wonder what it was like to have a famous name. The other characters of his immediate family were not too difficult to name. His father, although I needed to be a not too pleasant person, I wanted to have a name that was almost comedic. Dean Dean it was. The story centres on the family, and the names are key to the upbringing for James and the resulting chaos.

There are other characters, whose names were far less important. Of course, they needed a unique name. After all, a book where everyone is called Smith or Jones would be fairly dull.

Blog Tour: Read an Extract from Leo's War by @_PatriciaMurphy


It’s 1943 and young Leo tries to protect his disabled sister Ruby as the Nazis invade Italy. After his mother is arrested, he turns to Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty to save them. But he is no ordinary priest. Known as ‘The Pimpernel of the Vatican’, the Monsignor is the legendary organizer of the Rome Escape Line. Soon Leo is helping out with this secret network dedicated to saving the lives of escaped prisoners of war, partisans and Jews. But as the sinister Nazi leader Kappler closes in on the network, can Leo and his sister stay out of his evil clutches?

Read an Extract:

In this extract from chapter 26, 12 year-old Leo has cycled to the Roman Seminary by the city walls. He has smuggled false identity documents for the scores of Jews, partisans and Prisoners-of-War posing as seminarians in order to hide from the Nazis. Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty is also there at a meeting with other members of the Rome Escape Line.

But despite being considered as territory independent of Nazi jurisdiction, Koch, a notorious Fascist torturer launches an armed raid as curfew falls.

* * * * * *
A young priest dashed in, habit flying. “Quick, hide, everyone! There’s a raid! There are fifty of Koch’s men circling the building!
I flew up out of my seat, my first thought Hugh. But Father Palazzini grabbed me at the refectory door and told me there was another passage leading from the secret room that led out to the octagonal baptistry and Hugh would take that. It would be better if I headed across the bridge into the adjoining building. From there I could get to the shed where my bike was.
He shooed me towards the flight of stairs that led to the bridge and ran off. I darted back to pick up the slice of pangiallo, the dried fruit cake that the cook had left just for me.
Everywhere trainee priests flew around like a flock of disturbed starlings, black gowns flying behind them like wings. I panicked, forgetting which way Father Palazzini had pointed.
I could hear a priest arguing at the main entrance. “No, you have no right to come here!”
The bark of a gun almost stopped my heartbeat. Then someone shouted and swore in Italian. “The next bullet will be in your head if you don’t let me through!
Rough voices could be heard at the door. More shouting.
Father Palazzini came back and was surprised to see me still there. He pulled me by the scruff of the neck. “Quick, through here, there’s no time.”
We fell through a doorway, just ahead of the black-shirted Fascists. They were led by a man in a suit, his jet-black hair plastered into his head, a black moustache across his upper lip like an ugly slug. Koch, I guessed.

#LoveBooksGroupTours: Character Spotlight with @kaplanhow #TheSpysGamble


"Kaplan is...without peer in his grasp of the delicate and explosive relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This is a thriller in the best tradition of the genre." -Los Angeles Times

When the Israeli Prime Minister boards a new stealth submarine in Norfolk, Virginia intending a celebratory ride and the sub vanishes, it sets in motion a suspenseful story that intertwines the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a story of what could be.

Shai Shaham--an Israeli intelligence officer--contacts old friend and adversary Ramzy Awwad--a former PLO intelligence officer and one of the great writers of his people--for help in locating the missing prime minister. But can they trust each other? Can their friendship withstand the turbulent political landscape?

Eli Bardin--an agent who is feeling the strain of being away from his wife and children for so long in the field--is also tasked to contact Ramzy for the help in finding the missing sub. It seems the Russians have great interest in the technology, and he must locate the prime minister...because losing him is a national calamity that threatens to upset a delicate political balance in the most terrifying ways.

Starkly depicting the excesses of both sides and moving through actual events, THE SPY'S GAMBLE relies on in-depth research to weave a thrilling tale of suspense of reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Character Spotlight:

Who is your protagonist?

Shai Shaham a longtime Mossad field agent now assistant director of operations a desk job in Jerusalem though he still likes to get out into the field even if he has to sneak out

 The inspiration for your protagonist

I have a close friend, an educator in Jerusalem, who is an out of the box thinker

 The creation of your protagonist
I wanted an agent who was staunchly Zionist but who saw and understood Palestinians as people, their struggle their lives. So Shai is a great humanist, the type of guy who extends himself and is incredibly nice unless the other side behaves badly.  Then he’s tough as nails.

 About your protagonist’s character

Shai is a man with huge appetites. He loves deeply but only in a committed relationship.  He’s overweight a former smoker and drinker who won’t touch either now. For a long time he carried an open pack of cigarettes in his pocket as a challenge to not smoke them

Does she have any similarities to someone ‘real’? If so, tell us more!

It’s fun to base a character on a real person.  My friend lectures to Israeli army groups as part of their educational training, so I had him wander into the Arab marketplace in Hebron after giving a lecture there in the West Bank.  He seems some rather inhumane behavior by the Israeli settlers there so I called him up and asked what would you say. What he told me was better than what I could have created as it was real. 

What do you like most of your protagonist?

Great humanism, the capacity for deep connections both with friends and with family.

What do you dislike about your protagonist?

Really nothing.  I dislike a lot of things about myself, maybe in particular some compulsive worrying and replaying problems in my head but I love Shai’s human frailties.

Would you and your protagonist be friends in ‘real’ life?

I’d be honored.

What’s next?

I have a new novel coming out later this year, maybe October called TO DESTOY JERUSALEM. Shai’s also the main character there but it’s a prequel when he’s still a field agent and working with another Palestinian agent, Ramzy Awwad trying to trust each other.

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