Saturday, 19 September 2020

Hist Fic Saturday Blog Tour ~ Our Yanks by Margaret Mayhew


On Hist Fic Saturday I am delighted to host today's Blog Tour stop

Let's go back to ...1943

Transworld Publishers
Published 2011 Reissue : 2020

My thanks to the publishers and Random Things Tours for my copy of this book
and the opportunity to be part of the blog tour

August 1943. A fighter group of US airmen descends upon the quiet and sleepy village of King’s Thorpe in Northamptonshire. The village has never seen the like of them before: they are glamorous, rich, exciting and full of bravado.

While some of the older residents are dismayed, many of the younger ones cannot help but be won over by their charms.

And for many – including young Sally Barnet from the bakery, Agnes Dawe – the Rector’s daughter, and newly-widowed Lady Beauchamp, they will have a long lasting impact.

It will be a summer many will never forget…

What did I think about it..

I live about twelve miles or so from the site of a US WW2 airfield which over recent years has been changed to an industrial site, but thirty years ago the remnants of the camp were still pretty much visible, especially the large aircraft hangers and living quarters. I once had relatives who visited the camp for social evenings, and, in fact, my husband's two aunts met and later married their GI husbands.

Our Yanks is the lovely story of how a group of US airmen, drafted in to help maintain morale, took over the small fictional village of King's Thorpe, where with their swagger and general bon homie they had their work cut out in trying to persuade some of the villagers that they were in the war for the long haul. From the poorest villagers, to the more well to do,  it was fascinating to see how their prejudices and natural reticence were gradually overcome as general compassion and friendship for the airmen began to have an effect.

It was especially interesting to see tentative relationships become a little more personal, some would succeed, others not so fortunate but throughout the story the way the author brought everything to life in such a gentle and well respected way made the story all the more rewarding to read. I genuinely cared for the characters, some made me smile, especially the antics of young Tom and his brother Alfie, who filled their pockets with all the candies and chewing gum the airmen threw their way, and yet, there was such a poignant reason for Tom's lively entrepreneurial skills, that I always wanted him to win the day. 

I think that it is such a lovely idea of the publishers to reissue the historical fiction written by this author twenty or so years ago. Her books deserve to be read by a new audience and I am sure that Our Yanks will continue to delight fans of the WW2 saga genre.

Margaret Mayhew was born in London and her earliest childhood memories were of the London Blitz. She began writing in her mid-thirties and had her first novel published in 1976. She is married to American aviation author, Philip Kaplan, and lives in Gloucestershire.

Twitter #MargaretMayhew



Friday, 18 September 2020

Blog Tour ~ One Winter's Night by Kiley Dunbar

Delighted to host today's Blog Tour stop


Hera Books
16 September

My thanks to the author and Rachel Random Resources for my copy of this book
and the invitation to the blog tour

A gorgeously uplifting, romantic read that will warm your heart – take a trip to Stratford-Upon- Avon, where magic happens... 

It’s autumn in beautiful Stratford-Upon-Avon and Kelsey Anderson is enjoying her new life in her adopted town. Her Shakespearean tour guide days behind her, she’s now opened her own photography studio and loved up with boyfriend Jonathan – even if a long-distance relationship is sometimes lonely. 

When best friend Mirren Imrie moves down from Scotland, Kelsey is delighted to have her friend at her side – and as the nights turn colder, Mirren throws herself into dating, until she finds herself growing closer to sexy journalist, Adrian Armadale. But when Mirren uncovers a long-buried scandal while working at the local newspaper, her big scoop might throw Kelsey’s – and Jonathan’s – life upside down. Will she choose her career over her friends’ happiness? 

And when Jonathan returns from America and discovers the secrets Mirren has uncovered about his family, it throws his relationship with Kelsey onto shaky ground. Can they find their way back to love, before it becomes the winter of their discontent? 

A romantic, funny and feelgood read that will make you smile from ear to ear. Fans of Milly Johnson, Heidi Swain and Holly Martin will fall in love with this cosy winter read!

What did I think about it..

In Stratford-upon-Avon, Kelsey is trying to get her fledgling photography business up and running whilst at the same time conducting a long distance love affair with her boyfriend, Jonathan. Meanwhile, up in Scotland, Kelsey's best friend, Mirren, is facing some substantial life changes, and her decision to leave her job and move to Stratford means that the two friends are reunited and are able to support each other through some complicated issues.

I liked the idea of setting the book in Stratford, and enjoyed all the thespian references, especially the Shakespeare quotes which head each chapter, and even though I hadn’t read the first book in the series, which I gather from a few well placed hints, at the start of the book, was about how Kelsey met her, actor, boyfriend, Jonathan, so I was soon able to enjoy One Winter’s Night entirely on its own merits as a sequel which also works as a standalone story.   

The author writes well and brings place and people to life in a lovely understated way. I’ve visited Stratford several times, and I could picture the town really well from the author’s descriptions. The  story made me smile, and I enjoyed the alternate chapters in getting to know both Kelsey and Mirren, and watching, with interest, how they both grow in confidence as the story progresses. There’s also a rather lovely character called Blythe, a retired actress, who added a little bit of her own brand of thespian sparkle to the story .

One Winter’s Night is a lovely feel-good read for a cosy autumn evening by the fire, preferably with a glass of Blythe’s home made gin!

Hi, I'm Kiley Dunbar, author of heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places. 

If you're looking for travel adventures, swoony heroes, and dreamy escapism that will let you forget the world just for a wee while then I'm your author. 

Take your pick from my first three novels: 

Summer at the Highland Coral Beach (2020), the first in the Port Willow Bay Series, takes you on an impromptu crafting holiday in the Scottish Highlands and reminds us that after the storm comes the rainbow. Crafts, ceilidhs, coral bays and gentle recovery. (Part two coming September 2021 - both parts can be read alone) 

Christmas at Frozen Falls (2019) will fly you to snowy, remote Finnish Lapland over Christmas where Sylvie Magnussen is getting a second chance at love with an old flame - sexy Stellan Virtanen - the one who got away - well, he ran away actually, and Sylvie never understood why. Hot kisses in a cold climate, Northern lights and a stunning resort setting. (Standalone novel) 

One Summer's Night (2019) whisks you away on a working staycation in beautiful Stratford-upon-Avon during a sultry heatwave summer. Kelsey Anderson, Shakespeare nerd and aspiring photographer, navigates her new life in a new town. A starting over story, handsome actors,backstage passes, and a whole lot of drama in the Heart of England. (Sequel coming September 2020- both parts can be read alone)

And if you've enjoyed one of my books I'd be thrilled if you left a review! Thanks a million, Love, Kiley x

Twitter @KileyDunbar #OneWinter's Night



Thursday, 17 September 2020

Blog Tour ~ Finn and the Wild Goose by Sammy Horner

Sarah Grace Publishing
2 September

My thanks to the author, publisher and Love Book Groups for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of the blog tour

An urgent quest turns into a wild adventure where Finn discovers that all is not what it seems about his Granda. A fast-paced scramble through a land of banshees and leprechauns, faeries and fiends, leads Finn to the place where the mysteries of the wild goose are revealed.

What did I think about it..

The magic and mystery of folk lore transcends time, and in this lovely story, Finn and his Granda set off on an adventure to rescue Finn's younger sister from the little people. It's a journey which will see them encounter all sorts of creatures from Irish folk lore, fairy tale and fantasy. Some with good intent, others a little bit less welcoming, but throughout the whole of this enchanting story, the author weaves together the magic and mystery of  a grand adventure.

Finn and the Wild Goose is about the close relationship between grandfather and grandson, the way they both learn learn about life, it's fascinating mysteries and complicated shortcomings, the value of listening between one generation and the next, and in finding the strength to do what your heart tells you is the right thing to do.

Beautifully written with short, sharp chapters and delightfully simple, but effective, drawings, I have been quite engrossed by Finn and the Wild Goose, which is, on one level, a delightful children's story about finding something precious which is lost, but if you look really closely it's also about the precious gift of storytelling, a skill this author has in abundance, and of the importance of keeping alive the magic of our myths, legends, fairy folk and fantasy creatures, who make up so much of our story telling heritage.

About the Author

Sammy Horner is an Irish Musician, Recording Artist, Pastor, Author who spends all his time traveling around the world trying to make it all a little better. When he isn't in remote parts of the world teaching life skills (practical trade skills, he is also an electrician and a qualified teacher) he tours with his wife Kylie as half of the Americana / Folk Duo, 'The Sweet Sorrows'. He has two children and two grandchildren. Sammy lives in Wexford Ireland and occasionally gets to live in his own home for part of the year.

Twitter @malcolmdown #SammyHorner #FinnWildGoose



Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Blog Tour ~ Pirate Nell's Tale to Tell by Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty


Source Books
15 September

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
 and Midas PR for my invitation to this blog tour

From the award-winning author-illustrator, husband and wife duo Helen & Thomas Docherty, comes an epic pirate adventure wrapped up in a captivating rhyming picture book.

Nell is finally a pirate!

And she has her trusty Pirate's Almanac to help her sail the seas, even if the mean, greedy and ignorant Captain Gnash doesn't like books on his ship. But when the journey gets rough and the captain is in trouble, it's Nell and all her pirate knowledge that saves the day and leads them to the greatest buried treasure of all.

What did I think about it..

A pirate adventure filled with all the swash buckling excitement that make young eyes light up with glee. I've really loved reading Pirate Nell's Tale to Tell especially as I had an enthusiastic little helper with me to point out all the exciting pictures and vibrant colours. My little granddaughter was perfectly content to let me turn the pages, listening to the story, and taking an interest in Pirate Nell's grand adventure.

The story is beautifully told in verse, which is both poetical and lyrical, and yet, short and snappy enough to keep the interest alive of even the youngest child. I loved the pictures, especially Nell, she's such a feisty wee thing, and more than a match for the rather taciturn old sea dog, Captain Gnash, who, right from the start, seems to want to scupper Nell's enthusiasm, and joie de vivre.

Pirate Nell's Tale to Tell has everything needed for an adventure which is  rich in imagery, bright with imagination, and a good solid story, which I am sure will appeal to both children and adults alike. Although the book is recommended for ages 4 years upwards, my little granddaughter, aged thirteen months, found much to enjoy as Granny turned the pages. We both had great fun looking for Pirate Nell, discovering seascapes, observing brightly coloured birds, and searching for  buried treasure. 

I am sure that Pirate Nell's Tale to Tell is one of those lovely stories that we will return to again and again, cheering Pirate Nell on, as she, Captain Gnash, and the all crew go in search of buried treasure in a grand storybook adventure on the high seas.

♥ Granny's little helper ♥

About the Authors

Helen Docherty is a picture book author from Swansea. Her works include the award-winning picture books The Snatchabook and The Knight Who Wouldn't Fight has been translated into 25 languages. The Snatchabook won Oldham Brilliant Book Award 2014 and was shortlisted for the Booktrust Best Book Awards and Oscar's First Book Prize in 2014. Fluent in Spanish, French, Welsh, Helen worked for many years as a language teacher in Mexico City and the UK before becoming an author. She also has an MA in Film and Television Production (Bristol University), which helped to develop her skills in crafting narrative. Helen often collaborates with her husband, the illustrator and author Thomas Docherty.

#PirateNellsTaleToTell | | @docherty_helen

Thomas Docherty, a children’s book author and illustrator, studied metalwork and sculpture at college before becoming an illustrator of children's books. Thomas has illustrated books for acclaimed authors Julia Donaldson and Anne Fine, and his works include Big Scary Monster, Driftwood Ball and Little Boat, the latter of which was shortlisted for the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal in 2009. Thomas lives in Swansea with his wife Helen and their two daughters.

Twitter #PirateNellsTaleToTell


@midaspr @amberchoudhary

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Blog Tour ~ Someday in Paris by Olivia Lara


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

Finding the one is only the beginning... 


Zara is fifteen the first time she meets Leon. During a power cut in a small French museum, the two spend one short hour in the dark talking about their love for art, Monet and Paris. Neither knows what the other looks like. Both know their lives will never be the same. 


In Paris, Leon no longer believes he will ever find the girl he lost that night. After dreaming about him for years, Zara thinks she has already found him. When they meet at an exhibition, they don't recognise each other yet the way they feel is so familiar... 

Over the course of twenty years, Zara and Leon are destined to fall in love again and again. But will they ever find a way to be together? 

'It's about dreams and taking chances. 

Missed opportunities and mistakes. Loss and sacrifice. But above all, it is about love. The kind of love that survives time, distance... even death. The kind of love I wish for you.

What did I think about it..

Quite by chance sixteen year old Leon and fifteen year old Zara meet when there is a power cut in a small French museum and whilst neither sees the other they are each aware that a special connection has be made. A connection which will last for years and despite not knowing what each other looks like there is a definite recognition deep in their hearts.

What then follows is a quirky love story which takes the concept of love at first sight and mixes it up a bit with characters who meet, fall in love, but don't make a visual connection. It would appear that we make up our minds about people in the first seven seconds, and for Leon and Zara, it would seem that they are bonded over something much deeper than physical attraction.

The story unfolds gradually over time and we learn more about Zara and Leon in the process, their frustrations and unhappiness, the near misses of their meeting again, and the way that life sometimes throws complications in the way. The author writes with conviction and enthusiasm and uses, with good effect, the concept of never really knowing what fate has in store for any of us, and of all those lost opportunities which, sometimes, quite simply, pass on by.

Someday in Paris is a nicely written romance story by an author who clearly loves storytelling.

OLIVIA LARA was born and raised in Bucharest in a family of booklovers and storytellers. Since university she has worked as a journalist and marketer in Romania, France and the United States. She is currently a marketing executive in San Francisco and lives in the Bay Area with her husband, young daughter and four cats. Someday in Paris is her first novel.

Twitter @olilara_writes #SomedayInParis

There's currently a Goodreads Giveaway for Someday In Paris which is open to US entries only

Monday, 14 September 2020

Ten Poems for Autumn from Candlestick Press


Candlestick Press

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this poetry pamphlet

Autumn can be so many things. There are some years when summer seems to pack up her bags and disappear in the space of just a few days. Other times there’s a delicious lingering of warmth so that autumn seems to be merely a softer, more gentle version of what has gone before:

“The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves;
The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves,
And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.”

from ‘September, 1918’ by Amy Lowell

This selection of poems captures one of poetry’s favourite seasons in all its variety and opulence, bringing us ripe pears, twittering swallows and children gathering berries, alongside the early-evening switching on of TVs and the drawing of curtains.

Poems by Emily Brontë, Maggie Dietz, Kahlil Gibran, Jane Hirshfield, John Keats, Ted Kooser, Amy Lowell, Freya Manfred, Vinode Ramgopal and RS Thomas.

Cover illustration by Alexandra Buckle

What did I think about it..

Autumn, season of mists, is one of my favourite times of year. The 'nip' in the air, the yeasty smell of the earth, the crackle of leaves and the abundance of hedgerow fruits, all herald the arrival of a, sort of, gathering in, not just of the harvest, but also of some deep remembered need to conserve energy, to hunker down, and make provision for winter.

This collection of ten poems shares the sensations of autumn in an eloquent selection of verse which express all the sentiments of the season.

No autumn poetry collection would be complete without the most recognised, and celebrated, poem by John Keats, To Autumn is there in all its glory, it remains one of my favourite pastoral poems.

"Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom friend of the maturing sun..."

There are also lovely poems by poets who are new to me and I especially enjoyed the poignancy of  Green Pear Trees in September by Freya Manfred..

"Until the green haloed tree
rose up and sang hello
I had forgotten..."

and the simple beauty of The Invitation of Autumn by Vinode B Ramgopal

"We come to autumn on thrones of sealed air
Wanderers at windows..."

This beautifully presented poetry pamphlet offers ten lovely poems which will take you into the glory of autumn.

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Clouds, Walking, Birds, Home and Kindness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

Connect: /  Twitter @PoetryCandle

Sunday, 13 September 2020

🍴 Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Michael Ward

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 , Michael Ward to Sunday Brunch today 🍴

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

As I’m a vegetarian, and it’s brunch, I think a light mushroom and black pepper omelette with sautéed potatoes and beans would set me up for the day. 

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

Americano with a little cold milk on the side, please. 

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

I’m an outdoor eater, so on the patio if it’s not raining. 

🍴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? 

‘Swing 42’ by Django Reinhardt and The Quintet of the Hot Club of France. 2 minutes and 48 seconds of pure pleasure. 

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

What an opportunity to bring together Bernard Cornwell and Patrick O’Brian! Both have proved themselves masters of the epic historical fiction series, where characters and their relationships mature like fine wine. It’s a rare skill and, once they got talking, I could just sit in the corner, sipping my Americano and making copious notes! O’Brian died in 2000, so I don’t know if they ever met. Be wonderful to see them together. 

🍴Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch? 

That would have to be Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Extraordinary writing. 

Harper Collins

🍴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 am struggling with my writing I might read something completely different like a Lee Child thriller just to reframe my thinking, but never historical fiction. I save that for when my mind is clear. As for unread books, where do I start? 

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

A Book of Common Prayer from 1781. 

🍴Where do you find the inspiration for your novels? 

From the history of the period I’m writing about and the people who inhabited it. I spent eight months researching ‘Rags of Time’ and by the end I had collected hundreds of fragments of experiences, feelings, decisions, regrets and discoveries from people living in 1650 London. These were the raw materials for the new narrative I then created, which is one of the reasons I gave the book its title. I had a strong feeling of making something, my own patchwork, from these rags of time. 

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

I prefer to work from the same place each day, usually one of our bedrooms converted into an office. We’ve just moved house in the middle of writing the sequel to ‘Rags’, which isn’t great! 

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

I’m pretty disciplined as a writer, although it took me an age to complete my first book because of several lengthy interruptions. Now I am no longer working full time, I write every weekday morning, first thing, and even if it’s not flowing I get something down. That gives me words and ideas to work with, to see what hits the spot and what doesn’t. 

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

1) Self belief that the ideas will keep coming 

2) A hunger to learn 

3) Peace and quiet 

4) A comfortable chair. I’ll spend months in it! 

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

My work in progress is the (as yet unnamed) sequel to ‘Rags of Time’. It’s the second in a series that will follow the adventures of spice merchant Thomas Tallant and the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour – lover of mathematics and prime tobacco in equal measure – through the chaos that engulfs England in the mid 17th century: an unprecedented period of civil war, regicide, republic and restoration. It’s also a time of rapid change in science, medicine and commerce, and all will have an impact on their stories as they unfold. 

Michael, where can we follow you on social media? 

Twitter @mikewardmedia 

Instagram: mikew2500 

Writing has been central to Mike Ward’s professional life. On graduating from university he became a journalist, working in newspapers and for the BBC. He then went into journalism education, teaching and researching journalism practice before becoming head of the UK’s prestigious Journalism School at UCLan. For the last eight years he has run his own content creation company.

Sharpe Books
23 June 2020

Thomas Tallant #1

‘Rags of Time’ is Michael’s debut novel. Its sequel is due to be published late in 2020.

Rags of Time' is set in London in 1639. It tells the story of spice merchant Thomas Tallant, accused of murder and fighting to clear his name, and the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour whose passion for astronomy and mathematics is only matched by her addiction to tobacco and the gaming tables.

Can Elizabeth's brilliance untangle the web of deceit that threatens to drag Tom under, as England slides into civil war?

‘Rags’ is a murder mystery but not just a procedural thriller. Tom's hunt for the real killer takes him on a journey through the ferment of new thinking that's sweeping London in the 1640s. Change is everywhere - science, street politics, commerce and religion - and this shapes the plot, action, characters and outcome.

🍴 Thanks so much, Michael, for joining us for Sunday Brunch today 🍴

It's been great fun!

Follow us on Twitter @Jaffareadstoo


Saturday, 12 September 2020

Hist Fic Saturday ~ Before the Crown by Flora Harding


On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ... 1943

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One More Chapter
17 September 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Before the crown there was a love story…
Windsor Castle, 1943

As war rages across the world, Princess Elizabeth comes face to face with the dashing naval officer she first met in London nine years before.

One of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy, Philip represents everything she has always been taught to avoid. Instability. Audacity. Adventure.

But when the king learns of their relationship, the suitability of the foreign prince is questioned by all at court.

He is the risk she has never been allowed to take. The risk not even the shadow of the crown will stop her from taking…

Step through the palace gates and discover a captivating historical novel of royal secrets and forbidden love exploring the tempestuous courtship between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in the wake of WWII.

What did I think about it..

We've all seen grainy black and white images and newsreel pictures of Princess Elizabeth, arm in arm, with her handsome fiancé, Prince Philip of Greece. This fascinating love story of the twentieth century seems to have taken place such a long time ago now but the interest in this devoted royal couple certainly doesn't dim with the passage of time. Before the Crown breathes new life into an old story with a fictional look at the romance and courtship of this beautiful, but shy, princess and her handsome, and charismatic, prince.

The story opens as seventeen year old Princess Elizabeth is eager to meet up again with twenty-three year old Philip, who she first met as a rather rather gauche thirteen year old. This introduction made such a lasting impression on her that she pursues a relationship with Philip despite her parents disapproval. However, both she and Philip realise that a match between them would be advantageous, especially for Philip, whose home circumstances are complicated as he is not without financial and personal difficulty.

The author really captures this time in history very well and brings all the necessary elements of Elizabeth and Philip's courtship to life in a very readable way. The natural concern of the King and Queen and their understandable reluctance about their precious daughter committing herself to a penniless naval officer is captured well, as is Elizabeth's dogged determination to get her own way and marry the man she truly loves despite her parent's misgivings.

I raced through the book, happy to spend time at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle with the Princess and the royal family. I was also just as comfortable to be with Philip as he carefully considers his future, both in terms of his personal happiness, and also his, quite valid, fears about the constraints that this relationship would, undoubtedly, have on his life and independence.

We all know the outcome of this courtship but it was interesting to see how the author carefully crafted the story to bring them together in a delightfully romantic way. I enjoyed the 'will they, won't they' aspect of their relationship, and of course, the sweet build up to the engagement and royal wedding. 

I'm not a huge watcher of the TV series The Crown having only watched the first series with any great interest but I am sure that fans of the programme would enjoy this fictional account of how Elizabeth and Philip's relationship began from the beginning, and readers of royal romances will, I am sure, find much to enjoy simply because it's a rather sweet love story with two delightful main characters .

Before the Crown is published on the 17th September and is available to pre-order now at the low price of just 99p. 

About the Author

Flora Harding began writing over 30 years ago to fund a PhD on the disposal of waste in Elizabethan York, and has juggled fact and fiction ever since. Under various pseudonyms she has written more than 75 novels, histories and other forms of non-fiction and continues to be fascinated by the relationship between the past and the present, whatever she happens to be writing. Flora still lives in York with the city walls and the Minster at the end of her street, and is a freelance project editor as well as an author. Much as she loves the historic city, she yearns too for open horizons, and is a keen walker, preferably in wild, open spaces.

Twitter @AuthorFlora


Friday, 11 September 2020

Blog Tour ~ Love at the Little Wedding Shop by Jane Linfoot


 Delighted to host one of today's Blog Tour stops

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One More Chapter
3 September 2020

The Little Wedding Shop #5

My thanks to the publishers and Rachel's Random Resources for my ecopy of this book
and the invitation to the blog tour

Love at the Little Wedding Shop by the Sea St Aidan: a cosy Cornish village where friendships are made for life and it’s always cocktail hour somewhere...

Return to your favourite little wedding shop by the sea for love,laughter and a romance to sweep you off your feet!It’s the most romantic day of the year but the girls aren’t just gearing up for Valentine’s Day and a busy wedding season ahead, it’s also the 10 year anniversary of their beloved shop!Jess is planning the party of the decade and with the champagne and cocktails flowing, sparks are going to fly... and not just from the fireworks display.

What did I think about it...

The wedding planners of The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea approach their busy wedding season with lively enthusiasm, especially as they are celebrating their tenth anniversary. The celebrations party is a huge success and everyone seems to be having a good time but as with as with life, not everything is going to run smoothly.

Milla is newly arrived back in St Aidan, a place she grew up in, but her return is marred by some pretty dastardly goings on between her best friend and business partner, Phoebe, and her now ex-fiancé, Ben. Whilst Milla’s back story is somewhat sad, she does have bag loads of personality and a penchant for getting into difficulty, however, her self esteem has taken something of a battering and through the course of this lovely ‘feel good’ story we see Milla grow in confidence. Her role as wedding planner gets her into all sorts of odd situations but it is her connection with the handsome and charismatic Nic where the story really comes alive.

The whole complex world of wedding planning is done really well, from the cakes, to the dress, the wedding fairs and venues, it’s all a mysterious minefield which, to be fair, causes Milla a whole heap of trouble, but it's all done with great good humour and the author has a lovely way of bringing everything together in a lively way.

I haven't read any of the previous books four books in this series and whilst it would probably have been helpful to know a little more about some of the characters, overall I read this quite comfortably as a standalone. I loved the fun aspect of the story, along with a few sad bits, the bright and cheery book cover, and the rather sweet picture of the dog, the importance of which you'll have to find out by reading Love at the Little Wedding Shop for yourself😊

About the Author

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.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Book Review ~ Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain


Chatto and Windus
10 September 2020

Thanks to the publishers for my ecopy of this book 

She was ‘The Angel of the Baths’, the one woman whose touch everybody yearned for. Yet she would do more. She was certain of that.

In the city of Bath, in the year 1865, an extraordinary young woman renowned for her nursing skills is convinced that some other destiny will one day show itself to her. But when she finds herself torn between a dangerous affair with a female lover and the promise of a conventional marriage to an apparently respectable doctor, her desires begin to lead her towards a future she had never imagined.

Meanwhile, on the wild island of Borneo, an eccentric British ‘rajah’, Sir Ralph Savage, overflowing with philanthropy but compromised by his passions, sees his schemes relentlessly undermined by his own fragility, by man’s innate greed and by the invasive power of the forest itself.

Jane’s quest for an altered life and Sir Ralph’s endeavours become locked together as the story journeys across the globe – from the confines of an English tearoom to the rainforests of a tropical island via the slums of Dublin and the transgressive fancy-dress boutiques of Paris.

Islands of Mercy is a novel that ignites the senses, and is a bold exploration of the human urge to seek places of sanctuary in a pitiless world.

What did I think about it..

Irish immigrant, Clorinda Morrissey sets up a tea shop in the city of Bath. There she comes into contact with Dr William Adeane, a practitioner who is tending the sick, along with his daughter, Jane, who is known, because of her compassionate nursing skills, as the Angel of Bath. Jane Adeane is a complex character, filled with  a longing for something she doesn't yet know she needs. She flees the city, after a conventional proposal of marriage and goes to reside with her rather Bohemian relative in London, there she meets someone who will change her life forever.

The Borneo connection sits somewhat incongruously at first and I wasn't really sure how this would fit in with the rest of the story but it does eventually pull together and it was interesting to see the layers peeled back revealing the rather jaded lifestyle of Sir Ralph Savage. An interesting character and a marvelous place to set a story, but sadly, neither the place nor the people, held any sort of interest for me.

I wanted to like this book and after reading so many glowing reviews I expected to be blown away by it and, sadly, I wasn't. The Borneo aspects of the story was something I could very easily have skipped through and I'm afraid to say it but I found Jane to be profoundly irritating. The saving grace of the story was Clorinda Morrissey's place in it.  Her strength of purpose and determination shines through in a world where so often women were greatly overlooked. She also made a great sponge cake 😐

About the Author

Rose Tremain's best-selling novels have won many awards, including the Baileys Women's Prize, the Whitbread Novel of the Year, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Prix Femina Etranger. Restoration, the first of her novels to feature Robert Merivel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. (Goodreads)

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Blog Tour ~ Back to School by Jack Sheffield


Delighted to host today's Blog Tour stop

Bantam Press 3 September 2020

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

This is an exciting prequel to Jack's Teacher, Teacher series. It follows Jack as he navigates life as a newly qualified teacher at a rough school on an estate in North Yorkshire.

The year is 1969 and Jack Sheffield is a young teacher in need of a job. In a room full of twenty-nine other newly qualified teachers, he’s overjoyed when he's appointed to Heather View Primary. Jack is excited to start his first year there and to begin shaping young minds in a beautiful new location on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. But Heather View isn’t as idyllic as it first sounds. In fact, it looks more like a prison than a primary school. With less than adequate funding and a head teacher who doesn’t seem to care, it's no easy task to give the kids the education they deserve. But Jack’s determined to do just that. Full of warmth and good humour, Back to School is like taking a nostalgic walk through the past to a simpler time...

What did I think about it..

The author has written his well respected Jack Sheffield series since 2004 detailing an account of a teaching career which began with Teacher, Teacher, set in 1977, when Jack was appointed to his first headteacher role. Back to School, however, takes us right back to the very start of Jack Sheffield's career when, as a new teacher, he takes the first tentative steps on his life long career.

I think Back to School is a charming story and set, as it is, in a rather deprived primary school on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, there's also a lot of warmth, good humour and the occasional pull on the old heartstrings. I hate to admit it, but I was still at primary school in 1969, so I was taken right back to my own school days, queuing up to give my pre-decimal currency dinner money to the teacher, and spending my break times playing skipping, with my friends, in the playground. I read through the whole of the book with a huge smile on my face remembering things I had long since forgotten.

There's a gentleness about the story which in a way belies the strength of the story telling as everything feels so easy, it's just as if you and the author are having a good old chat over a cup of tea in the staff room of Heather View Primary School. I loved the way that all of the teachers came to life, from the curmudgeon of a headmaster, to the wastrel of a caretaker, and all good solid Yorkshire folk in-between, there are lots of lovely characters who, quite simply, made me smile and occasionally laugh out loud.

Back to School is a delightful nostalgic trip down memory lane and adds another dimension to this successful series. I am sure that fans who have followed from the beginning will be delighted to go right back to the start of Jack Sheffield's career, and new readers can just as easily continue the next book in the series having a good idea of where the story had its beginnings.

About the Author

Jack Sheffield was born in 1945 and grew up in the tough environment of Gipton Estate, in North East Leeds. After a job as a 'pitch boy', repairing roofs, he became a Corona Pop Man before going to St John's College, York, and training to be a teacher. In the late 70s and 80s, he was a headteacher of two schools in North Yorkshire before becoming Senior Lecturer in primary education at Bretton Hall near Wakefield. It was at this time he began to record his many amusing stories of village life. He lives in Buckinghamshire. 

Twitter @teacherseries #BacktoSchool



Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Blog Tour ~ Other Girls Like Me by Stephanie Davies

Delighted to host a stop on this blog tour 

Bedazzled Ink
1 September 2020

My thanks to the publishers, author and Midas PR for my invitation to the blog tour 
and the opportunity to share a book extract today

Till now, Stephanie has done her best to play by the rules—which seem to be stacked against girls like her. It doesn’t help that she wants to play football, dress like a boy, and fight apartheid in South Africa despite living in rural middle England as she struggles to find her voice in a world where everything is different for girls.

Then she hears them on the radio. Greenham women—an irreverent group of lesbians, punk rockers, mothers, and activists who have set up camp outside a US military base to protest nuclear war—are calling for backups in the face of imminent eviction from their muddy tents. She heads there immediately, where a series of adventures—from a break-in to a nuclear research centre to a doomed love affair with a punk rock singer in a girl band—changes the course of her life forever. But the sense of community she has found is challenged when she faces tragedy at home.

🌠 Enjoy this tantalising extract from Other Girls Like Me 🌠


Chapter One 


©Stephanie Davies

A CHILDHOOD IN St. Mary Bourne—an English village of thatched roof cottages winding along the banks of the Bourne River with its swaying water weeds, frogspawn, and fluttering ducks—was a childhood filled with wonders. I waded through fresh waters as the river rose anew from its barren bed each spring; swung across the river on tyres attached to ropes on summer nights; warmed my hands at autumn bonfires on golden evenings; and rolled in deep snow banks in the winter. 

My family of six lived at the edge of the village, behind the flint schoolhouse adjacent to the primary school that my three siblings and I attended. There were eleven pupils in my year, with funny last names like Bone and Strange and Gibbons. We arrived in this peculiar land from the industrial north when I was six, my sister Kate was nine, my brother, Robert, four, with baby Sarah arriving not long after we did, bundled out of the ambulance one November afternoon and bustled into the bright kitchen for us to peer at in curiosity. People thought our Northern accents strange, but we soon lost them and became posh instead, never catching the lilting Hampshire accent that was so different from any I had ever heard. 

Everything was different here. No lorries or buses rumbled past our front door, but instead there were fields and birds and horses wherever I looked, accompanied by the soothing sound of wood pigeons, hidden in trees. I lost myself in books and played classical guitar in the privacy of my attic bedroom, its slanted skylight revealing the stars, moon, and clouds in the changing sky. One evening at dusk, I watched spellbound from my bedroom window as two steaming bulls locked horns on the hill behind our house, the air visible from their flaring nostrils as they snorted and pounded the ground, dust flying. My father had landed a new job in what seemed like paradise. 

But just fifteen miles away, a stretch of ancient common land, with jumping deer, bounding rabbits, and soaring kestrels, had been turned into an air force base that was soon to house the deadliest weapons ever held on our green and pleasant land: American cruise missiles, poised to strike against the Soviet Union. The first tiny signs came to us like the first buds of flowers in spring—first one American military family, then another, rented out cottages in the village; first one news piece, then another, announced the mounting support of our Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for the United States President Ronald Reagan’s build up to war. 

St. Mary Bourne may have seemed like an unlikely breeding ground for an activist. But by the time the cruise missiles arrived, I was ready for them. 

Photo Credit : Ming de Nasty

Photo credit : NYRA LANG

Stephanie Davies is a communications consultant who worked for many years as the Director of Public Education for Doctors Without Borders. A UK native, Stephanie moved to New York in 1991, where she taught English Composition at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus and led research trips to Cuba. Before moving to New York, she co-edited a grassroots LGBT magazine in Brighton called A Queer Tribe. Stephanie earned a teaching degree from Aberystwyth University in Wales, and a BA in European Studies from Bath University, England. She grew up in a small rural village in Hampshire, where much of her first book, Other Girls Like Me, takes place.

Bedazzled Ink is dedicated to publishing literary fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books that celebrate the unique and under-represented voices of women.

Twitter @Stephanie5Davie #OtherGirlsLikeMe