Rough Magic Blog Tour





The Mongol Derby is the world’s toughest horse race. A feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the people of Genghis Khan, competitors ride 25 horses across a distance of 1000km. Many riders don’t make it to the finish line.

In 2013 Lara Prior-Palmer – nineteen, underprepared but seeking the great unknown – decided to enter the race. Driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses, she raced for seven days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families.

Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she found she had nothing to lose, and tore through the field with her motley crew of horses. In one of the Derby’s most unexpected results, she became the youngest-ever champion and the first woman to win the race.

A tale of adventure, fortitude and poetry, Rough Magic is the extraordinary story of one young woman’s encounter with oblivion, and herself.

Anyone who reads my blog occasionally knows that I have a deep love of non-fiction and adore being transported to places that I’ve never visited before. I was absolutely delighted when Anne Cater wrote to me to ask if I’d like to be on the blog tour for Rough Magic for a very special reason – I’m actually travelling to Mongolia this summer– and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it every bit as much as I was anticipating.

This book tells the epic story of Lara Prior-Palmer’s incredible adventure when she decides to set herself the challenge of entering the famous Mongol Derby. Lara’s adventure begins when she signs up for a race she certainly doesn’t feel prepared for – and ends with a result she can never have imagined in her wildest dreams.

Her adventures across a wide range of terrains – from the torrential rains that soak her to the skin to the wild grasslands that seem to stretch on forever made me so excited to experience this gorgeous country and its culture for myself this July. Lara describes her adventure so vividly you almost feel like you are galloping across the Steppe yourself with one of her ponies and I loved the descriptions of each of them and their short time together. Because I am a huge fan of travel books with a difference, I was so excited to read about a country and a race event that I knew so little about and through reading Lara’s account I could experience its highs and lows right alongside her.

Image result for lara mongol derby

What I loved about the book was the feeling of getting to know Lara the person as well as Lara the rider, through being able to turn the pages of her musings and hear her inner thoughts and feelings as her incredible journey progressed. Lara writes about it all in her Winnie the Pooh notebook, alongside snatches of Mongolian culture, her competitors – including arch-nemesis Texan toughie Devan – as well as snatches of literature which she uses to inspire her and drive her onwards when the going gets tough – which it certainly does.

Lara’s a thinker as well as an action woman and I loved reading her thoughts and reflections on her epic achievement and wish I’d been able to hear her talk at the Hay Festival this week for myself. If you get the chance, definitely try and catch her on the tour and hear about her adventures first-hand ( from the horse’s mouth even...)

Image result for lara PRIOR PALMER HAY FESTIVAL

I absolutely loved this intriguing and original book that transports you on an epic adventure that you won’t forget easily.  You do not have to be into riding or exotic adventures to get drawn into Lara’s story and you will be amazed that a 19-year-old has the grit, resilience and determination to even enter an event like this – never mind win it and I was cheering her on from the get-go and hoping that the UK managed to put the USA in its place after a show of bravado from Texas


I love doing my research after finishing a book I’ve enjoyed and if you are intrigued by Lara’s story, you could find out more here. You will be able to read all about Lara herself as well as get details of the race and hear about what she’s done since. I love looking in more details about the setting of novels and always head to The Booktrail to imagine it for myself – you should definitely head over there, you won’t be disappointed.

If you are intrigued by my research and would like to read more about this epic adventures then follow the blog tour and definitely buy yourself a copy of this fascinating read. 

Writer On The Shelf

Lara Author Picture


Lara Prior-Palmer made headlines in 2013 when she became the first woman — and the youngest ever competitor — to win the Mongol Derby.

Born in London in 1994, Lara routinely packed and unpacked her bags as a child, despite having nowhere to go.

She studied conceptual history and Persian at Stanford University, and has lived and loved, for varying lengths of time, in California, England, Iran and Wales.


The River – Blog Tour


THE RIVER blog tour UPDATE.png


Two friends…

Wynn and Jack have been best friends since their first day of college, brought together by their shared love of literature and the great outdoors.

The adventure of a lifetime…

When they decide to take time off university and canoe down the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate the ultimate wilderness experience.

No phones.

No fellow travellers.

No way of going back.

A hellish ride…

But as a raging wildfire starts to make its way towards them, their idyllic expedition becomes a desperate race for survival. And when a man suddenly appears, claiming his wife has vanished, the fight against nature’s destructive power becomes entangled with a much deadlier game of cat and mouse.

THE RIVER by bestselling author Peter Heller is a gripping thriller about the beauty of the great outdoors and the dangers of the wild with a page-turning story that builds up to a shocking finale and keeps the reader guessing until the very end.

‘Urgent, visceral writing – I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

A beautiful, heartrending exploration of male friendship’

Clare Mackintosh, bestselling author of LET ME LIE

‘A suspenseful tale told with glorious drama and lyrical flair’


A great cover always draws me to a book – and I absolutely loved this immersive and enjoyable journey into this wild adventure.  As soon as I opened the package and saw The River It looked so enticing and made me want to throw all my marking down and dive right in.

I’d like to thank Tracy Fenton and W & N Books for inviting me on the blog tour and introducing me to this fantastic read.  As a teacher in a boarding school who goes on adventure training weeks, I was gripped by the thought of this storyline and let me tell you, Peter Heller did not disappoint…

If you read my blog, you’ll know that I love a novel that asks us to think about our own lives and put ourselves in the place of the characters that we are reading and imagine ourselves into their situation. When this is well done, it’s my favourite kind of book – but it can be notoriously difficult to pull off effectively. Often, I’ve been left disappointed by an uneven narrative where more time is spent on plot devices than pulling you into a fabulously realised setting or I’d feel unconvinced by the storyline even though I was enjoying the setting in either time or place – Well, I’m happy to report that this novel truly is the best of both worlds – it combines an amazing storyline with a really gorgeous setting and makes you feel like you’ve dropped right into the heart of the action and are ost in the Canadian wilderness yourself!

The situation that Wynn and Jack find themselves in is totally engrossing and draws you into an incredibly tense game of ‘cat and mouse’ that will keep you turning the pages – like me – until the small hours, determined to find out what happens in the end.  I found myself actually quite breathless at times as Peter Heller certainly knows how to keep his reader guessing! The gorgeous cover with its intriguing tagline about them ‘surviving one man’s fury’ ensured that this novel never lasted long on my TBR pile and I found myself devouring it well ahead of my reading schedule as it was just too tempting!

Image result for canadian wilderness The landscape they find themselves in sounds truly stunning, but the boys are not left to enjoy their stunning surroundings in peace as their lives start to unravel during the course of the novel. I felt like the Makswa river lulls them into a false sense of security and they seem ill-prepared for the trauma that is soon to unfold. Tension is managed incredibly well in this novel and there are parts where you literally are desperately turning the pages so that you know more about their fate at the hands of either the fire or the stranger that crosses their path so mysteriously as their options start to close in…

the river peter heller

I think that part of its success is that it never really gives too much away about who this stranger is and what he might be capable of – so you find yourself obsessing about what kind of tiny ‘tells’ might be hidden in the text that might give any clues away. The story rattles along at a cracking pace as you try to second-guess his motives and how this terrifying journey might end. I like the fact that we are constantly made to think about the ways that the decisions we make can often come back to haunt us in ways that we might not expect and the way that this journey ends might not have been the way that they predicted at the outset.

You don’t have to have gone on outdoor adventures yourself to fall in love with this engrossing and tense read. I thoroughly recommend The River to anyone looking for a book that will keep you engrossed and make you second guess your instincts as you read I loved the way that I just couldn’t puzzle it out and that’s what made me recommend it to our book group as I know that lots of our members love a book like this – that keeps you turning the pages, desperate to find out your characters’ fate.

I was gutted to be on duty and not be able to finish this gripping read in a oner – but if you get the opportunity – set aside a rainy Sunday, clear your diary and give yourself a real treat.

So many great bloggers are on this tour too  -so make sure you check out their reviews too



‘Like Mark Twain and Toni Morrison, Heller is a rare talent’ Elle
‘A novel that sweeps you away’ USA Today
‘A fiery tour-de-force’ Denver Post
‘I dare you to put it down once you’ve picked it up’ Criminal Element

Writer On The Shelf

Peter Heller is an award-winning adventure writer and the author of four bestselling novels, including the New York Times bestseller THE DOG STARS, a Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle and Atlantic Book of the Year. Born and raised in New York, he attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire where he became an outdoorsman and white-water kayaker.

He has travelled the world as an expedition kayaker, writing about challenging descents in the Pamirs, the Tien Shan mountains, the Caucuses, Central America and Peru. A keen adventurer, he has navigated some of the most dangerous rivers in the world, including the Muk Su River in the High Pamirs of Tajikistan.

He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he received an MFA in fiction and poetry, and won a Michener fellowship for his epic poem ‘The Psalms of Malvine’.
The River by Peter Heller is out now and is available from Amazon UK.

Treat yourself to a copy now!