Sunday, 29 November 2020

🍴Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Helen Steadman




On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo






🍴I'm delighted to welcome, author, Helen Steadman to our Sunday Brunch today🍴





🍴Welcome Helen, what favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

Thanks very much for having me along to brunch today, Jo and Jaffa. I’ve brought lots of wholemeal toast with dark, thick-cut marmalade, and a spot of catnip for Jaffa.


🍴Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?

Lots of coffee please, but I’m strictly instant because I haven’t the patience to wait for coffee to brew. If you’re doing the brewing, then I’ll happily have a strong Americano, but be prepared for some very rapid conversation...


🍴Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio? 

Definitely outside, please, wrapped in blankets if necessary, as I love a good picnic. Even better if I can have a cat or two on my knee.


🍴Shall we have music playing in the background? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you happy?

If everyone’s happy to listen in, I’d like some Velvet Underground playing ‘Venus in Furs’, although that might not feel very much like a Sunday morning song, so we could maybe go for their ‘Sunday Morning’ after that.


🍴Which of your literary heroes (dead or alive) are joining us for Sunday Brunch today

Let’s have Oscar and Lucinda from Peter Carey’s book of the same name, if we can tear them away from gambling for long enough. I’d also like Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell to pop along if he can take time off from closing down monasteries and suchlike. Finally, I’d like to invite Winston Smith from 1984, if only to see what he makes of Alexa and Siri: ‘Big Brother, what’s the weather going to be like today?’


🍴Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

I’m terrible at deciding, so I might turn up with a pile of books, but certainly E. Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News would be on the top, along with Peter Carey’s The Illywhacker, Theft, and Oscar & Lucinda, George Orwell’s 1984 and the Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall trilogy. This is why I’m bringing so much toast. Don’t be afraid of me outstaying my welcome, though, as I’m a quick reader and after an Americano or two, I’ll be even quicker.





🍴When you are writing do you still find time to read for pleasure? And is there a book you would like to read but haven’t had time for …yet!

Reading is like breathing to me, so I always have several books on the go at any given time – usually a handful of non-fiction books for research, a novel or three and some poetry. When researching and writing a new novel, I try not to read fiction from that genre to avoid any accidental cross-pollination. I’m itching to read The Mirror and the Light, the final part of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy, and now that I’ve signed off the proofs for my latest book, I’m going to read it. But first, I’m going to re-read Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies so I can read all three in sequence.


🍴What’s the oldest book on your bookshelf?

It’s a Complete Works of Shakespeare, published in 1864, but the poor soul isn’t in very good condition.


🍴Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

It varies. The idea to write about witches for my first two books came to me during a walk in the woods one day, when I came across a natural bowl that had just been cleared of trees, which made me think of ritual places. Florence Welch’s song, ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’ sprang to mind, and I suddenly decided to write about witches, even though, at that time, I knew little or nothing about witches. Cue a lot of research.


🍴Have you a favourite place to settle down to write and do you find it easier to write in winter or summer?

I can write anytime, anywhere. I wrote the entire first draft of Sunwise in bed because I decided to write it using morning pages. (Essentially, set your alarm an hour early, wake up suddenly, pick up notebook and pen and write whatever comes to mind.) Widdershins was written partially in bed, but also in the garden, the woods and on various beaches. The Running Wolf was written mostly in bed, but also overlooking the sea in the Highlands and the Canaries, some of it was written on location in Solingen, Germany and some was written at Butser Ancient Farm during my swordmaking. Wherever I write, though, my first draft is always written by hand because it slows me down and makes for better writing. Typing up and editing is certainly something that would be better done in winter because summer days and laptop screens don’t go together very well, but it seldom ends up that way. I did manage to build a makeshift typing tent in the garden to cut down the glare, so I could enjoy the fresh air, but most of my typing up and editing takes place at my desk in an office that would make Harry Potter’s bedroom under the stairs look positively spacious.


🍴When writing to a deadline are you easily distracted and if so, how do you bring back focus on your writing?

Every school report I ever had said, ‘Easily distracted and distracts others’, and not much has changed. When I was supposed to be writing The Running Wolf using morning pages, an entirely different novel turned up: Sunwise. But when I started again, the planned novel arrived. A first draft takes me about 120 days to write, and I always write far more than I need, and never in the right order, so for every hour spent on the first draft, I spend about 20 on unwriting, rewriting and editing. For historical novels, research is the most time-consuming aspect and takes years, but it’s also extremely enjoyable. It’s very easy to vanish down rabbit holes during research, so my distraction super-powers often mean going off on wild digressions, but they can sometimes turn up exciting material, so I don’t rein myself in too hard.


🍴Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs?

A love of reading. If you want to be a writer and you don’t already have a reading habit, it’s wise to develop one quickly. I’d say everything else is secondary to this. My favourite possession as a child was my library ticket, and the day I was issued with an adult ticket and allowed to borrow 9 books at a time is a standout memory from my childhood.

A critic. Find someone whose opinion you respect and who is willing to critique your work – this could be another writer, or an avid reader. Most importantly, it needs to be someone who is comfortable criticising your work. This can be difficult for the critic and for the writer, so it’s wise to have someone who is not a close friend, colleague or family member. If someone gives you criticism, however uncomfortable it may feel, give it due consideration. It can help to take the criticism and not respond to it for a while, and instead, give yourself time to recover from any wounds (real or imagined) and let your subconscious mull it over. A great way to get criticism is to take a writing course. Having a whole class criticise your work can be a humbling experience, but if you can learn to take it on the chin, nothing will improve your writing more. It will also prepare you for working with publishers, editors and agents, who will all give you ‘notes’.

Paper and pen. Get used to carrying them with you, wherever you go, because ideas and observations will strike you at odd times. By and large, if you don’t write them down, you’ll forget them. It’s handy if the paper is in notebook form for ease of storage and retrieval so you don’t have to scrummage through a bag of scrunched up paper bags and so on (guilty) when it comes to writing up. I’ve got a wide range of notebooks, ranging from cheap and scruffy jotters through to beautiful hardback notebooks (invariably these are much-loved presents from friends and family). 

It doesn’t hurt to take a course. As well as helping you to get used to taking criticism (aka ‘workshopping’) and developing a network of people willing to criticise your work, it will help you to become more critical of your own work as you grow used to criticising your peers’ work. Courses can also be very inspiring and help to provide both discipline and support while writing. The first course I took was A215 Creative Writing at the Open University, swiftly followed by A365 Advanced Creative Writing (I can highly recommend both, by the way). Apart from being immensely enjoyable, I drew an enormous amount of inspiration from the tutors and the coursework, and I felt my writing improved markedly as a result. I then went on to do an MA at Manchester Met and a PhD at Aberdeen, although I don’t think you need to go to these lengths.


🍴What can you tell us about your latest novel or your current work in progress?

I’ve just signed off the final proofs for The Running Wolf, which is about a 17th century swordmaker from Solingen in Germany, who was imprisoned in Morpeth Gaol in Northumberland for sword smuggling. I’m currently researching and writing novel number four, which will be about Grace Darling the Northumberland lighthouse-keeper’s daughter. That said, with my past record, anything might happen and I could end up writing something completely different instead. Luckily, I have an understanding publisher.






When a German smuggler is imprisoned in Morpeth Gaol in the winter of 1703, why does Queen Anne's powerful right-hand man, The Earl of Nottingham, take such a keen interest? 

At the end of the turbulent 17th century, the ties that bind men are fraying, turning neighbour against neighbour, friend against friend and brother against brother. Beneath a seething layer of religious intolerance, community suspicion and political intrigue, The Running Wolf takes us deep into the heart of rebel country in the run-up to the 1715 Jacobite uprising. 

Hermann Mohll is a master sword maker from Solingen in Germany who risks his life by breaking his guild oaths and settling in England. While trying to save his family and neighbours from poverty, he is caught smuggling swords and finds himself in Morpeth Gaol facing charges of High Treason. 

Determined to hold his tongue and his nerve, Mohll finds himself at the mercy of the corrupt keeper, Robert Tipstaff. The keeper fancies he can persuade the truth out of Mohll and make him face the ultimate justice: hanging, drawing and quartering. But in this tangled web of secrets and lies, just who is telling the truth?



More about Helen

Helen Steadman is a historical novelist. Her best-selling first novel, Widdershins and its sequel, Sunwise were inspired by the Newcastle witch trials. Her third novel, The Running Wolf will be published by Impress Books on 10 November 2020.

Despite the Newcastle witch trials being the largest mass execution of witches on a single day in England, they are not widely known about. Helen is particularly interested in revealing hidden histories and she is a thorough researcher who goes to great lengths in pursuit of historical accuracy. To get under the skin of the cunning women in Widdershins and Sunwise, Helen trained in herbalism and learned how to identify, grow and harvest plants and then made herbal medicines from bark, seeds, flowers and berries.

The Running Wolf is the story of a group of master swordmakers who left Solingen, Germany and moved to Shotley Bridge, England in 1687. As well as carrying out in-depth archive research and visiting forges in Solingen to bring her story to life, Helen also undertook blacksmith training, which culminated in making her own sword.




Helen is now working on her fourth novel, which may or may not be about Grace Darling, daughter of a Northumbrian lighthouse keeper.




🍴Helen, where can we follow you on social media?🍴











Saturday, 28 November 2020

Hist Fic Saturday ~ Blog Tour ~ The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn

 

On Hist Fic Saturday 

I am delighted to join in with this blog tour 


Simon & Schuster
7 January 2021

My thanks to the publisher and Random Things Tours
for my copy of the book and invitation to this blog tour


The smallest man. The biggest heart. The mightiest story. A compelling story, perfect for fans of The Doll Factory and The Familiars. 

Nat Davy longs to grow tall and strong and be like other boys, but at the age of ten, he’s confronted with the truth; he’s different, and the day when the stares and whispers stop is never going to come. Narrowly escaping life in a freak show, he’s plucked from his family and presented as a gift to the new young queen of England – a human pet to add to her menagerie of dogs and monkeys. But when Nat realises she’s as lost and lonely as he is, the two misfits begin an unlikely friendship – one that takes him on an unforgettable journey, as England slides into the civil war that will tear it apart and ultimately lead the people to kill their king. Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is narrated by an irrepressible hero with his own unique perspective on life. His story is about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together. 






My thoughts..

When ten year old Nathaniel Davy is taken from his family and given as a gift to Henrietta- Maria, the fifteen year old Queen of England, Nat's life changes for ever, for not only does he escape the poverty of his family, but it also places him quite firmly at one of the most beguiling royal courts in Europe. 

That Nat and the young Queen have much is common is rather hard to believe as Nat is primarily there just for the Queen's amusement, but as this unlikely friendship grows it becomes obvious that both are a little bit lost, and frighteningly lonely, in the strange new world in which they find themselves. Nat has known since childhood that he is different and his small stature singles him out as an easy target for bullies but with the help of his champion the Queen, good friends and a fierce determination, Nat soon becomes a force to be reckoned with, and, it must be said, something of a celebrity at the royal court.

Living through the tumultuous years of the build up, and eventual outcome, of the English Civil War, Nat is perfectly placed to give his own unique view of proceedings and it is Nat's voice that we hear loud and clear throughout the whole of the story. It's been really refreshing to have a different view of the Civil War period that didn't focus on battles and conflict but rather told a more domestic story of not just what was happening in the small English villages but also with Queen Henrietta Maria, who is often criticised for touting the English crown jewels around Europe in the hope of raising much needed funds for the King's army. 

Filled with lively adventure, The Smallest Man brings history to life in a unique and fascinating way.  I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Nat Davy and have followed his story with great interest, always hoping that life would turn out well for this small man with the big heart.



About the Author





Frances Quinn read English at King’s College, Cambridge, and is a journalist and copywriter. She has written for magazines including Prima, Good Housekeeping, She, Woman’s Weekly and Ideal Home. She lives in Brighton with her husband and Tonkinese cats. The Smallest Man is her first novel. 


Twitter @franquinn

@simonschusterUK

@RandomTTours





Friday, 27 November 2020

Blog Blitz and Giveaway ~ The Maiden and the Mercenary by Nicole Locke

 

Delighted to host one of the stops on the final day of this blog tour


Mills & Boon
1 December 2020

#10 Lovers and Legends

My thanks to the publisher for my ecopy of this book
and Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to the blog tou
r


Keep your friends close…


But your enemies closer?

In order to find a legendary treasure map, mercenary Louve of Mei Solis must infiltrate his enemy’s fortress under the guise of a servant. There, Louve meets beautiful maiden Biedeluue, a fellow servant with her own hidden agenda…to save her sister from the malevolent Lord’s clutches! Their high-stakes missions may be at odds with one other, but their attraction cannot be denied even in this most dangerous of situations…


What did I think about it...

Serving woman, Biedeluue, is doing all she can to try to rescue her sister, Margery from the clutches of the evil, Ian of Warstone. However, when Bied comes into contact with the enigmatic mercenary, Louve of Mei Solis, who is posing as the castle usher, she is ill prepared for the effect that this man has on her peace of mind. That Louve is not who he says he is adds a certain piquancy to what is, after all, quite a complex medieval adventure. 

Filled with an array of rather dastardly villains the story takes some getting used to but once I had the characters firmly in place I found the story moved along at quite a fast pace. I enjoyed getting to know both Bied and Louve, both are complicated characters, and whilst their attraction to each other is obvious, they each have other, more important, things to worry about. However, as with all medieval adventures, nothing is going to run smoothly for this couple in this complicated tale of family politics and whilst I can't say too much for fear of spoiling, I can add that I was intrigued by the complexity of the overall plot.

The author is an accomplished historical fiction writer and brings to the story a distinct air of medieval skulduggery and an interesting sense of time and place. The Maiden and the Mercenary is now the tenth book in the Lovers and Legend series of historical novels which can all be read as standalone stories but as with all series it is better to start at the beginning to see just how the story line progresses through the medieval timeline. 



About the Author




Nicole first discovered romance novels hidden in her grandmother’s closet. Convinced that hidden books must be better, Nicole greedily read them. It was only natural she should start writing them (but now not so secretly).


🌠 Giveaway to Win a £20 / $20 Amazon Gift Card (Open Internationally) 🌠


*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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 ofthe winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.




Twitter @NicoleLockeNews #TheMaidenandtheMercenary







Thursday, 26 November 2020

🌠 Publication Day Book Review ~ A Marquis in Want of a Wife by Louise Allen

 

🌠 Happy Publication Day 🌠


Mills & Boon
26 November 2020

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book


Ross Vincent, Marquis of Cranford, with his scarred face and formidable disposition knows he’s hardly a catch. But he needs a wife to take care of his motherless son. Shy, scholarly Prudence Scott seems ideal: she has no expectation of love or passion. She’ll care for his baby in return for the protection of his name. Yet seeing Prudence on their wedding day tests Ross’s willpower to not take his new wife to bed…

My thoughts..

Prudence Scott has no romantic expectation from her hastily arranged marriage to Ross Vincent, Marquis of Crawford, other than to save her reputation, and to keep her from being the subject of scandalous gossip. It would seem that, likewise, the Marquis simply wants a mother for his motherless son, and love and passion are definitely not on his agenda when he thinks about his new wife.

Whilst this is very much a marriage of convenience there are undercurrents in the relationship between Ross and Prudence which the author describes with lively dialogue and a fine eye for detail. The niceties of Georgian society with all the subtle references to what is right and proper is maintained and the author brings a refreshing sense of honesty to this Regency romance.

There’s a lovely balance between the first stirrings of romance and the awareness of growing passion between this enigmatic couple which works really well against the exciting developments which occur when Ross, much to Prudence’s consternation, gets drawn into a very dangerous situation. I found that I was reading with bated breath hoping that everything would work out for both Ross and Prudence as each deserve to find happiness.

The author is an accomplished writer of Regency fiction which shows itself in the effortless way the story evolves bringing the  Georgian era to life in a very enjoyable way. A Marquis in Want of a Wife continues the Liberated Ladies series of historical novels and whilst it is perfectly possible to read each book as a standalone story there is a little overlap with some characters which helps to give the series a lovely sense of continuity. 

A Marquis in Want of a Wife has all the right ingredients for an engaging read, lively excitement, smouldering passion, and a thoroughly likeable hero and heroine.
 



About the Author



Louise Allen was born and brought up in Hertfordshire and now lives on the North Norfolk coast with her husband and a garden full of bossy wildlife. She is the author of over seventy books – historical romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon, indie-published time travel romance mysteries and historical non-fiction. Virtually all her books are set in the ‘long Regency’ and she is a keen collector of original fashion plates of the period and anything to do with the history of London.








Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Blog Tour ~ War in the Valleys by Francesca Capaldi

 

Delighted to be one of the blogs opening this blog tour today 

on

 ⭐Publication Day ⭐


Hera Books
25 November 2020

My thanks to the publisher and Books on the Bright Side for my ecopy of this book
and the invitation to this blog tour



WW1 marches on, but Violet faces her own battle at home

July 1916. Young mother, Violet Jones, lives a tough life in the Rhymney Valley, caring for 4-year-old Clarice and baby Benjy on her own while soldier husband Charlie fights on the Front Line. But when tragedy strikes, Violet’s life becomes even harder.

While they may be far from the battlefields, the effects of WW1 take their toll on the small mining community of Dorcalon, with food becoming scarce and more and more of their young men losing their lives.

With very little money coming in, and two babies to care for, Violet takes in a relative to help make ends meet. But far from easing her burden, it might turn out to be the worst decision she’s made.

As the Great War takes its toll on the nation, Violet faces her own battle. All alone in the world, can she protect her children, and herself? And will she ever find joy out of the depths of despair?

A captivating, emotional saga set in WW1 – will tug on your heart-strings and bring a tear to your eye. If you like Nadine Dorries, Rosie Goodwin or Sheila Newbury you will adore this beautiful Welsh saga.


My thoughts..

We can never under estimate the poignancy of a community shattered when those who signed up as part of the PALS battalions failed to return home. Whole communities suffered the loss of a generation of young men who left their homes and loved ones behind to fight with boyhood friends in what they thought would be an adventure of a lifetime.

For the small Welsh valley community of Dorcalon, the newly appointed telegram boy is a regular sight as he delivers cream coloured envelopes to unsuspecting households, and for people like Violet Jones life will never be the same again for her and her two small children. However, it’s not just Violet who must learn to cope with life alone, there are others in this small Welsh mining village who are also finding life difficult, money is scarce and jobs hard to find.

Beautifully written, with a heartbreaking poignancy, War in the Valleys brings this war time era into stark focus and describes a dark time when life, for most people, was a real struggle. Violet does what she must to survive and then realises she has to live with the consequences, not just battling through her grief but also finding the strength to go on when someone around her seems hellbent on overpowering her natural good nature.

The other characters who flit into and out of the story are again typical of their time and social class, they pull together in tragedy and yet remain naturally wary of those whom they consider to be their betters. They’re not all likeable, there some are baddies amongst the community who deserve to get their comeuppance whilst others go above and beyond duty and that’s what makes the story so interesting.

Stalwart, stoical and steadfast the people of the Rhymney Valley are well portrayed in a story which tugs away at your heartstrings and which brings the place, people and time to life in a historical saga which captivates from first page to last.


About the Author




Several years ago, Francesca Capaldi pursued a childhood dream and joined a creative writing class. Lots of published short stories, a serial, and four pocket novels later, she’s now explored her mother’s ancestral history for a series of novels set in a Welsh colliery village. A history graduate and former teacher, she hails from the Sussex coast but now lives in Kent with her family and a cat called Lando Calrissian. 


Twitter @FCapaldiBurgess



@HeraBooks

@BOTBSPublicity




Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Book Review ~ Historical Stories of Betrayal

 


17 November 2020

My thanks to the authors for the ecopy of this book



Betrayal, treachery, treason, deceit, perfidy – all names for the calculated violation of trust. And it’s been rife since humans trod the earth.

A promise broken

A mission betrayed

A lover’s desertion

A parent’s deception

An unwitting act of treason

Betrayal by comrades

Betrayal by friends

Could you resist the forces of misplaced loyalty, power hunger, emotional blackmail, or plain greed? Is there ever redemption, or will the destruction visit future generations and even alter history? These questions are still with us today.

Read twelve tales by twelve accomplished writers who explore these historical yet timeless challenges from post Roman Britain to the present day...

AD455 - Roman leader Ambrosius is caught in a whirlpool of shifting allegiances
AD940 - Alyeva and cleric Dunstan navigate the dangers of the Anglo Saxon court
1185 - Knight Stephan fights for comradeship, duty, and honour. But what about love?
1330 - The powerful Edmund of Kent enters a tangled web of intrigue
1403 - Thomas Percy must decide whether to betray his sovereign or his family
1457 - Estelle is invited to the King of Cyprus’s court, but deception awaits
1483 - Has Elysabeth made the right decision to bring Prince Edward to London?
1484 - Margaret Beaufort contemplates the path to treason
1577 - Francis Drake contends with disloyalty at sea
1650 - Can James Hart, Royalist highwayman, stop a nemesis destroying his friend?
1718 - Pirate Annie Bonny, her lover Calico Jack, and a pirate hunter. Who will win?
1849/present - Carina must discover her ancestor’s betrayer in Italy or face ruin.


What did I think about it..

I am quite often guilty when reading anthologies to dive in somewhere in the middle, so I  was determined when reading Historical Stories of Betrayal to begin at the very beginning. After all it's the very best place to start in this fascinating anthology which takes us from the Roman occupation of Britannia in 455 AD through to the surviving alternative state of Roma Nova in the 20th and 21st Century.

So often betrayal, retribution and revenge has played a huge part in our collective history when destiny turned on a heart beat and what this anthology does so successfully is give us a collection of stories which feature the act of betrayal so succinctly. Each story comes in at around forty or so  pages which I read quite comfortably in an hour, transported back in time, whether it be witnessing inglorious death at the feet of Venus, witnessing skulduggery in the court of the Anglo-Saxon kings or grieving for a young and frightened boy King forcibly removed from those who loved him.

Each one of the twelve authors is at the top of their game in producing high quality historical fiction and the twelve stories definitely offer a tantalising glimpse into what they do so well. Five of these authors are already familiar to me, I have read and enjoyed their work and expected no less than to be beguiled by their stories - I wasn't disappointed. Of the remaining seven authors whose work was a new experience I was just as intrigued by their writing skills and the clever way they brought their interpretation of history alive in the imagination.

There is no doubt that absorbing fiction brings history alive and all that's needed is an intriguing entrée into a long forgotten world and what this anthology does so admirably is give us that starting point, firing the imagination with a longing to discover more not just about the history being described in such fascinating detail, but also in reading more of the work of these twelve talented writers.

Historical Stories of Betrayal is available now - click here for more details. It's currently free to download.


The authors

Judith Arnopp, Anna Belfrage, Derek Birks,
Helen Hollick, Amy Maroney, Alison Morton, Charlene Newcomb, Cryssa Bazos, Mercedes
Rochelle, Tony Riches, Elizabeth St John, and Annie Whitehead.


Follow on Twitter @HistFictioneers #Betrayal











Monday, 23 November 2020

🎄Blog Tour ~ A Little Christmas Hope by Kathryn Freeman


🎄

Thrilled to join in on today's final blog tour stop


Independently Published
2020

Thanks to the author and Rachel's Random Resources for my ecopy of the book
and the invitation to join this blog tour today


Newly promoted head teacher Anna Dalton needs a Christmas miracle – and fast! After years of sitting through excruciatingly dull Christmas productions, complete with crying children and sleeping parents, she’s determined Riddlescomb Primary School will put on a Nativity to remember.

Enter bad boy actor Dan Ramsey, recently axed from the lead role in a TV drama and in desperate need of cleaning up his image or he’ll never work again. 

Dan can flash those heart-stopping dimples all he likes, Anna tells herself she isn’t going to fall for them. She knows why he’s decided to volunteer at the school, and it’s for the good of his career…not his soul. 

But as Anna and Dan are forced to work together for the sake of a truly magical Christmas for the children, sparks fly and they can’t help but wonder what will happen once the festive season is over…

What did I think about it...

Anna Dalton is ill-prepared for the effect that Dan Ramsey will have on her life when she lets him into her Primary School to help out with the school Christmas production, for Dan is a volunteer like no other. Recently axed from his long time acting role as the handsome Doctor Tyler in a daytime soap, Dan is more used to making hearts flutter than inspiring young actors. However, as Riddlescomb Primary starts to work its magic on Dan, so a sprinkling of his charismatic allure starts to work its charm on the lovely Anna.

A Little Christmas Hope isn't just about romance, although when that happens it fairly sizzles on the page, but it's also about being lost and a little bit lonely, about being brave enough to take a second chance when it's offered, and about the bonds of friendship when you need someone to listen. 

A Little Christmas Hope is a lovely heartwarming story which is difficult to put down. I started reading the book on a really grey sort of day when the mist and drizzle seemed set in and there was nothing else to do but settle down in my favourite chair with a packet of chocolate cookies and a good story. I really think that during a national lockdown any of Kathryn Freeman's romantic novels should be compulsory reading as they never fail to take me out of a rather dreary situation and place me quite firmly in the land of her imagination, with lovely heroines and hunky heroes, in romantic stories which just make me smile from start to finish.


About the Author




A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.
I’ve two sons and husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), so any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn't always about hearts and flowers - and heroes come in many disguises.

Twitter @KathrynFreeman1

Website

Facebook

AmazonUK






Sunday, 22 November 2020

🍴 Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Jane Linfoot

 

On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo





🍴I'm delighted to welcome, author, Jane Linfoot to our Sunday Brunch today🍴




🍴Welcome, Jane. What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch? 

I love bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon. 


🍴 Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz? 

I’d be very happy with either coffee or the bucks fizz. I do need a caffeine kick in the morning. 


🍴 Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio

Definitely outside in the sun, under a parasol if it’s really hot! 


🍴 Shall we have music playing in the background? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you happy? 

Let’s listen to the birds singing. 


🍴 Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch? 

I find favourites really hard. I’ll bring Love, Nina along, by Nina Stibbe. I love off-beat comedy and that book really makes me laugh. 


Penguin
2013



🍴 When you are writing do you still find time to read for pleasure? And is there a book you would like to read but haven’t had time for …yet! 

If I read while I’m writing my wip tends to take on the voice of whatever author I’m reading, so I catch up on my to-be-read pile between books. I just bought Milly Johnson’s new Christmas book, I can’t wait to read that. 


🍴 What’s the oldest book on your book shelf? 

The other day I came across a book I won as a prize in reception class. That’s vintage! 


🍴 Where do you find the inspiration for your novels? 

I find inspiration anywhere and everywhere. Like a lot of authors, I soak up ideas wherever I am, whatever I’m doing without even realising. Then they make their way back onto the page later. 


🍴 Have you a favourite place to settle down to write and do you find it easier to write in winter or summer? 

I love to turn my screen brightness up to full and write at a table in the garden whenever it’s warm enough. In winter I pull up a stool and write in the kitchen next to the aga. 


🍴 When writing to a deadline are you easily distracted and if so how do you bring back focus on your writing? 

When there’s a deadline coming up I go into hermit mode and try not to leave my laptop except for dog walks and family things. I’m a very visual writer so I love adding to my Pinterest pages to get myself in the mood. That’s the kind of distraction that counts as work. 


🍴 Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs? 

A fabulous editor, a dog (or two) to take for walks, a decent laptop, and a supportive family. 


🍴 What can you tell us about your latest novel or your current work in progress? 

Love at the Little Wedding Shop by the Sea is a love story with friends! It’s set in Cornwall in the village of St Aidan and is the fifth in the series of books set at Brides by the Sea, but works well as a standalone. Despite the romantic wedding shop setting my stories aren’t all sugar-sweet, they have realism, humour and irony in there too. There’s heartbreak as well as love. 


One More Chapter
August 2020



🍴 Jane where can we follow you on social media?🍴  


Twitter:@janelinfoot

Facebook page: Facebook

Instagram: Instagram

Website: janelinfoot http://www.janelinfoot.co.uk/

I have lots of Pinterest boards relating to my novels too. 



🍴 More about Jane🍴 

I write fun, flirty fiction, with feisty heroines, and lots of heart. Writing is fab, because I get to wear pretty shoes instead of wellies. I live in a cottage up a mountain road in Derbyshire, where my family and pets are kind enough to ignore the domestic chaos. Happily, we're in walking distance of a supermarket. I love hearts, flowers, happy endings, all things vintage, most things french. When I'm not on facebook, and can't find an excuse for shopping, I'll be walking, or gardening. On days when I want to be really scared, I ride a tandem. 



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Saturday, 21 November 2020

Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Seduction of Laird Sinclair by Kara Griffin

 

On His Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...1388


Published 2020
Lairds of the North #1

My thanks to the author for my ecopy of this book


In order to love, she must first seduce…

Callum Sinclair should have known the night the great fireball lit the sky would change everything. He returns from battle wounded of body and heart to find his clan in disarray. Someone within his clan wants him dead and tried to assassinate him, his brother/laird murdered, his wife died in childbirth. Family dysfunction forces him to accept a destiny he never expected.

Violet Danvers’s life takes a complete turn when the king executes her husband for treason. Now he vows she will either wed his favored knight or suffer his punishment. With help from her husband’s ally, the king’s cousin, he sends her to his comrade in Scotland. He gains one promise from her, never to return to England, even if she must seduce the Highlander to gain his aid.

Even with the five rules of enticement, Violet’s seduction doesn’t come easy. Callum is broken of spirit, but she is not one to easily surrender to defeat. With laughter and grace, The Seduction of Laird Sinclair might lead them both to lose their hearts.


What did I think about it..

This is the first in a proposed series of books set in the Scottish highlands and the author gets off to a good start introducing us to an interesting collection of characters who make this part of Scotland their home.

Callum Sinclair lives in the shadow of his eldest brother, Gavin, who is laird of the Sinclair clan, that is, until Callum returns from a particularly ferocious battle only to find that his brother, has been assassinated. With his own life in disarray, Callum finds life difficult, that is until the English woman, Violet Danvers, is sent by the English king's cousin, Henry of Bolingbroke, to take safe refuge north of the border away from evil men who would do her harm. What then follows is the story of a romance conducted under difficult circumstances as not everyone is happy to see Violet take her place in the Sinclair household. 

The author writes well and brings to life the rather eventful time that Violet Danvers has at Girnigoe Castle especially when there seems to be someone who is particularly against her being there. I enjoyed reading how Violet copes with these difficulties whilst at the same time enjoying how she sets about conquering the heart of this rather damaged young Scottish laird. The author does a great job of keeping the authenticity of the historical period alive alongside a story of a will they, won't they attraction between two lost and emotionally damaged people.

There's a sense of getting to know people in this first novel and so it will be interesting to see how the author brings the other, more prominent, characters to life in future stories in this Lairds of the North series. The Seduction of Laird Sinclair is a light and easy to read historical romance set against the dangerous atmosphere of the fourteenth century. 


About the Author

Kara Griffin is the author of Scottish/Highlander and Medieval Historical romances. She always had a vivid imagination and has been an avid reader since her early years. Inspired by her grandfather’s heritage, she loves all things Scottish. From the captivating land to the ancient mysticism, all inspire her to write tales that make you sigh.












Friday, 20 November 2020

Book Review ~ Murder on the Edge by Lesley Cookman

 

Headline Accent
1 October 2020

Colin Hardcastle has arranged for two men to meet and discuss the sale of a house. But when Nick Nash - the owner of the property - doesn't show, Colin cannot begin to imagine the events he has set in motion.

Perplexed, Colin tells his friends in Steeple Martin, piquing the interest of Libby Sarjeant - and the Reverend Patti Pearson, who finds Nash's name strangely familiar . . .

Despite her burgeoning reputation as a super-sleuth, Libby is somewhat loath to investigate what seems to be a tragic accident. But when two of Patti's parishioners ask for her help, Libby very quickly finds herself caught up in the mystery. Then Nash's body is found, and things take a darker turn.

As the case unravels, biting deeper into the local community, Nash's shocking past is unearthed and it's up to Libby and her friend Fran Wolfe to help solve the case before it's too late...


What did I think about it..

This is my first introduction to the fictional village of Steeple Martin and to the investigative skills of Libby Sarjeant, a former actor and part-time artist, now turned amateur sleuth. Libby is now into her twenty-first adventure and it is clear that the author has brought this determined character to life in a very realistic way.

The story opens with a mystery concerning the owner of a property who has gone missing in puzzling circumstances and it seems that Libby can't help but be drawn into this rather complex mystery which gets ever darker as the story progresses. The author writes well and with a lively air brings the sleepy English village of Steeple Martin to life in a lovely authentic way. I felt like I was walking around the area with Libby as she tries to discover just why someone would want to do, property owner, Nick Nash irretrievable harm.

The story moves along at an interesting pace, bringing in more characters who I am sure regular readers of the series will be pleased to meet up with again. As a new reader I found the list of characters at the start of the book especially useful and I found that I frequently referred to this list in order to put people into context within the story. 

Gentle humour abounds in this cosy crime mystery and whilst the plot is quite gritty in places, overall I found Libby Sarjeant to be a breath of fresh air and reading Murder on the Edge is a lovely way of escaping the lock down blues.


About the Author




Lesley Cookman is an English crime writer and former editor and journalist. She also wrote for and performed on the stage, and is the author of 21 Libby Sarjeant novels and three novelettes, the Alexandrian Edwardian Mystery series, two romance novels and a book on how to write a pantomime. She has four adult children, two grandchildren and two cats and lives at the British seaside.








Thursday, 19 November 2020

Blog Tour ~The Chalet by Catherine Cooper

 

Thrilled to join this blog tour today


Harper Collins
12 November 2020

My thanks to the publisher for my ecopy of this book
and to Random Things Tours for the invitation to the blog tour




Four friends. One luxury getaway. The perfect murder.

French Alps, 1998

Two young men ski into a blizzard… but only one returns.

20 years later

Four people connected to the missing man find themselves in that same resort. Each has a secret. Two may have blood on their hands. One is a killer-in-waiting.

Someone knows what really happened that day.

And somebody will pay.


What did I think about it..

When four very different guests gather in a luxurious chalet in the French ski resort of  La Madière they have little idea of what is about to creep up on them. There are dangerous undercurrents festering in the pristine snow and pretty soon, thanks to some clever flashbacks, we learn just what happened on the mountains twenty years ago. At first it’s not obvious just what this disparate group of people have in common with the events of 1998, but once the story gets underway so a mystery of epic proportions is gradually revealed.

I loved the way the author gets right into the very heart of the mystery, bringing both place and people alive in a very special way. There is a definite sense of tension and, as the weather starts to close in and the snow gets deeper, we start to see cracks developing in these complex and fractious relationships. There is a great sense of atmosphere in The Chalet and the author certainly knows how to crank the tension up to high, but there is also an insidious creepiness which starts to move in especially when an unexpected character shows up in the resort bringing a whole new dynamic to this compelling psychological drama.

This clever debut novel has a wonderful air of sophistication and whilst it's a bit of a slow burner at first the action certainly picks up as the story progresses and I found that there were times when I couldn’t put the book down, turning the pages in eager anticipation of what was going to happen next. Secrets, lies and deceit smolder away in this classic story of revenge which is made all the more chilling by its setting in the ice cold and rather dangerous French Alps.


About the Author





CATHERINE COOPER is a freelance journalist writing for many national newspapers and magazines, specialising in travel. Most recently she has written several ski pieces for the Guardian and is currently compiling a 50 best family holidays round up for the Telegraph. She also makes regular appearances as a talking head on daytime TV. She lives in France with her husband and two teenage children, and is a keen skier.

Twitter @catherinecooper #TheChalet

Instagram @catherinecooperjournalist

@fictionpubteam

@HarperCollinsUK

@RandomTTours