Sunday 31 May 2020

Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Sarah Mallory

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,  Sarah Mallory

☼Good Morning, Sarah. Happy Sunday !

What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch? 

I adore seafood, so I have a prawn salad with a lovely chunk of fresh crusty white bread. Yumm 

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

I can never say no to a glass of bubbly! But could I have a cup of tea too, pretty please? 

Which of your literary heroes are joining us today? 

Not Mr Darcy – much as I love the book, he is rather a serious young man and I want to be entertained. So, no brooding heroes joining us for brunch (I prefer those as dinner guests!). I present to you Mr Miles Calverleigh, from Georgette Heyer’s Black Sheep. He is laid back, intelligent and witty, but also kind. Not sure if he likes seafood… 

What’s the title of the book nearest to you? 

Tales of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites (I am currently researching for my latest romantic adventure) 

What’s the oldest book on your book shelf? 

Oh goodness, where to start? I buy lots of old books so that’s a challenge! From my nearest bookshelf, it is English Costume of the 19th Century, published in 1935. If I look at my novels, it is probably Jeffery Farnol’s Jade of Destiny, published in 1931. I inherited this from my Dad: it was raiding his bookshelves and reading Farnol, Orczy, Dumas etc that helped to foster my love of historical romance. 

Which book do you really want to read but haven’t had time for …yet! 

My current TBR list is enormous (and I guess I am not alone there). The one that I really, really want to read is Milly Johnson’s My One True North, but I am saving that, because I know when I start it, I won’t be able to stop so everything will be neglected, housework, husband, children, dog. I just love her books and her writing style. 

Do you have a guilty reading pleasure, and if so will you tell us about it? 

Georgette Heyer. I love her writing, especially the historicals and although I have read them all over and over, I still return to them, which makes me feel a tad guilty because I think I should be reading something new. 

If the house was on fire which book would you rescue? 

Heyer’s Venetia. That will get me through the dark times while I get life sorted again. 

Do you have a reading/writing playlist on Spotify, or a favourite CD to listen to when reading/writing? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy? 

I haven’t moved on to music downloads yet but I have hundreds of CDs. I play lots of instrumental music when I am writing, especially piano music. I really like Carl Davis’s score for the 1995 series of Pride & Prejudice, it is such a lively piece, very jolly, and it always cheers me up. 

Do you have a favourite place to settle down to read/write? 

I am so lucky because my lounge overlooks the sea, so I sit by the window and read. It can be distracting, though, when the sea is rough or the sea birds are wheeling around. 

Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs? 

I am sure not all writers need the same things but for me, a notepad and pen/pencil are a must. Also, a thesaurus and a dictionary (although I am not sure whether the last two should be replaced by the kettle and teapot). 

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

I am very excited about my latest novel, The Mysterious Miss Fairchild, because it is my 30th book for Mills & Boon. It is a Regency romance, set in Bath (one of my favourite settings for this time period) and features a highly accomplished young lady who knows nothing about her past and that causes her to imagine the worst! 

Mills and Book
April 2020

Natalya Fairchild can’t help but be drawn to Tristan Quintrell, Lord Dalmorren, with his effortless charisma, even if he’s not her intended bridegroom. Tristan is an eligible society catch…whereas Natalya’s unknown heritage could label her ruined! As he helps Natalya investigate her mysterious past, she starts to hope the truth of her conception won’t destroy her prospects…of a life with Tristan!

Linda, where can we follow you on social media? 

Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Carol McGrath

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'd delighted to welcome author,  Carol McGrath

☼Good Morning, Carol. Happy Sunday !

What Favourite Food are you bringing to the Sunday Brunch?

Pain Perdu which is eggy bread (homemade sour dough) with semi caramelised fruit. See Gordon Ramsey for the recipe. 

Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea…?

I would love a pot of breakfast tea and a little glass of bucks fizz if I may to celebrate the publication of The Silken Rose paperback on 23rd July. E book out now.

Which Literary Heroes are joining us?

I thought I would invite:

Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice as she is sparky and engaging

Katherine Swynford from the novel Katherine by Anna Seyton which inspired me

Jacob de Zoot from the 1000 Autumns of Jacob de Zoot a fascinating character who was also incredibly courageous and romantic living in Japan during the late 18thC.

Marianne from Normal People by Sally Roony. Millennial angst but very bright and fun.

Seamus Heaney a great conversationalist and poet who once taught me.

What Book is near you now?

Graven With Diamonds by Nicola Shulman about Thomas Wyatt, the poet. I am reading it as part of research into Tudor Love Poetry.


What is the Oldest Book on Your Bookshelf?

The Collected Works of William Shakespeare given to my mother in 1942, published in New York in 1941. It was left with my mother by an American surgeon who never returned from the war.

Which Book do you really want to read but haven’t had time for yet?

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. I am too busy just now but shall be reading it soon.

Do you have a guilty reading pleasure?

I do. I am reading The Famous Five books by Enid Blyton at night before I fall asleep. They are on my kindle and calm me in this time of pandemic.

If your house was on fire which book would you rescue?

I own the very first signed copy of Wolf Hall signed to me by Hilary Mantel herself and which is dated as such. I think it’s an heirloom book worth rescuing.


CD to Listen To whilst writing?

I really tend to escape so much into my fictional world I don’t hear other than character voices in my head. However, I love The Unthanks. The Winterset Rachel Unthank is wonderful. I also have an old favourite in Amazing Blondel. I love all their works.

Favourite Place to Write

I have a study but really love writing in my airy bright kitchen on a blond-wood French table. 

Essential Tools For a Writer

Pens, notebooks, laptop, Thesaurus

My Latest Novel

I have just written the second novel in the She-Wolf Queens Trilogy which is with my editor at Headline. This novel follows The Silken Rose a novel about Ailenor of Provence. The new book begins with the Barons Uprising in the 1260s and its heroine is Eleanor of Castile. Just as The Silken Rose had a subplot involving a woman from the artisan class The Damask Rose has a female gardener/herbalist who acts as a go-between carrying secret messages and who accompanies Eleanor on Crusade. Eleanor of Castile was a property developer because she swore she would never suffer poverty again as she had during The Barons War. She acquired many properties from the rebel barons after the war as they were in great debt and she continued to develop her property office all her life, to their chagrin. She was powerful and clever and a blue stocking and she adored gardens. Her life was eventful as she went on Crusade with Edward her husband, followed him to Wales during the Welsh rebellions and was involved in his castle building and managed to have fifteen children though only five survived into their teenage years and adulthood. The first book in the Trilogy The Silken Rose is out now. The second will be published next year. I am writing The Stone Rose currently which is about Isabella of France.

Ebook out now
Paperback 23 July 2020

1236. Beautiful Ailenor of Provence, cultured and intelligent, is only thirteen when she marries Henry III. Aware of the desperate importance of providing heirs to secure the throne from those who would snatch it away, she is ruthless in her dealings with Henry's barons.

As conflict escalates between them, Ailenor's shrewd and clever Savoyard uncles come to support her but her growing political power is threatened when Henry's half-siblings also arrive at court.

Henry and Ailenor become embroiled in an unpopular war to protect Gascony, last English territory on the continent, sparking conflict with warrior knight, Simon de Montfort, the King's seneschal. Ailenor, desperate to protect Gascony for her son, strives to treat with France and bring peace to Gascony.

Caught in a web of treachery and deceit, 'she-wolf' Ailenor's courage is tested to the limit. Can she find the strength to control her destiny and protect her all that she holds dear?

 Carol, where can we find out more about your writing?

Twitter @CarolMcGrath 

Instagram: carol.mcgrath58

Saturday 30 May 2020

Hist Fic Revisited ~ The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

It is the last Saturday of the month so time for Hist Fic Revisited

Let's do a bit of time travelling..

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Bantam 2016

Through Jean M. Auel's magnificent storytelling we are taken back to the dawn of modern humans, and with a girl named Ayla we are swept up in the harsh and beautiful Ice Age world they shared with the ones who called themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear.

A natural disaster leaves the young girl wandering alone in an unfamiliar and dangerous land until she is found by a woman of the Clan, people very different from her own kind. To them, blond, blue-eyed Ayla looks peculiar and ugly--she is one of the Others, those who have moved into their ancient homeland; but Iza cannot leave the girl to die and takes her with them. Iza and Creb, the old Mog-ur, grow to love her, and as Ayla learns the ways of the Clan and Iza's way of healing, most come to accept her. But the brutal and proud youth who is destined to become their next leader sees her differences as a threat to his authority. He develops a deep and abiding hatred for the strange girl of the Others who lives in their midst, and is determined to get his revenge. 

What did I think about it..

Over this lock down period I have been listening to more audio books and The Clan of the Cave Bear, expertly narrated by Rowena Cooper, has been a perfect distraction. It is rather a long listen, over 20 hours but, once the story gets going, I found that I was easily transported back to living amongst the Cave Bear people, over 35,000 years ago.

Ayla is an orphan child when she is found, and rescued, by a group of individuals who belong to the Clan of the Cave Bear. This primitive Neanderthal tribe take Ayla into their group but they realise that she is not one of them. With her blue eyes and blonde hair Ayla is one of the Others, a disparate group of people who are infiltrating the ancient lands. However, with no-one to claim her, Ayla is adopted into the clan and cared for by Iza, the medicine woman, and Cleb, the Mog-ur, who, over time, come to love this unusual child. Over the passage of time, Ayla grows to young womanhood as part of the Clan of the Cave Bear, but her journey  into adulthood is not without problems, as she is not universally welcomed by the rest of the clan.

The author brings this ancient world alive, and the myths and legends of the clan, and its people are vividly recreated. In many ways it's rather a slow story with not much happening other than descriptions of the clan as they search for their forever home, and it takes a while to get to know all the individual characters and to appreciate their faults and foibles. I grew to love Ayla, whose affection for her adopted family, particularly Iza and Cleb, is fascinating, however, there were others amongst the clan who become more and more unlikable as the story progresses. 

Written over 40 years ago, The Clan of the Cave Bear is far from perfect, it is rather over long in places and a bit repetitive, however, it is still an interesting story and has definitely been well worth a revisit 😊

The Clan of the Cave Bear is just the beginning of The Earth Children series 

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Jean M. Auel is an American author best known for her Earth's Children books, a series of historical fiction novels set in prehistoric Europe that explores interactions of Cro-Magnon people with Neanderthals. As of 2010 her books have sold more than 45 million copies worldwide, in many translations.

Friday 29 May 2020

Audible Original ~ Animal Societies by Ashley Ward

Audible Original
23 April 2020

My thanks to Midas PR for the opportunity to listen to this audio book

Animal Societies is a voyage of discovery across desert, forest, tundra and ocean to uncover the many benefits and intricacies of sociality in the animal kingdom.

Taking listeners on a journey from Aysgarth Falls to the Great Barrier Reef, Animal Societies explores the intimate worlds of social animals, demonstrating how studying their social behaviour provides insights to the development of such things as empathy, altruism, leadership and language. It’s clear that animals are not so far removed from us as we might imagine

In a time where humans are struggling to navigate cityscapes, isolation and a loneliness epidemic, Ward shows us that studying the social behaviour of animals offers a window into the evolutionary basis of our own species.

What did I think about it..

Animal Societies is a well described journey through the animal kingdom which is brought to life by the skill and passion of the author, who, by narrating his own work, brings his specific expertise in the study of animal behaviour to enhance the overall effect of the book. Whilst the narration is about the partnership of animals with nature, and their reliance on the natural world for survival and social grouping, it's also about the simple joy of enjoying the natural world in all its glorious splendour.

This detailed look at how all the different groups of animals go about their complex lives is thoroughly explained by an expert which brings a specific authenticity to the narration, and everything is explained in an easy to understand manner. The book is stacked full of facts, with much to consider and learn about animal behaviour, however, I never had the feeling that I was sitting in a lecture, rather more that I was listening to an interesting talk with the author. I especially enjoyed the occasional sound effects which added a nice touch and broke up the narration in a good way.

I've enjoyed listening to Animal Societies and thanks to the interesting topic and the skill of the narrator the 13 hours and 36 minutes of the book passed by very quickly.

About the Author

Ashley Ward is Professor of Animal Behaviour at the University of Sydney and has travelled extensively for his research all over the world – studying lions and elephants in Kenya, whales in the Azores and Tonga, crows in Iceland and Nevada, and fish in Lincolnshire.



Wednesday 27 May 2020

Blog Tour ~ The Railway Girls by Maisie Thomas

I'm excited to host a stop on this lovely blog tour
for a brand new historical saga

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28 May 2020

My thanks to the publishers for my ecopy of this book
and the opportunity to be part of this blog tour

The first novel in the utterly brilliant Railway Girls series. 
Perfect for fans of Nancy Revell and Ellie Dean.

In February, 1922, at the western-most entrance to Victoria Station in Manchester, a massive plaque was unveiled. Beneath a vast tiled map showing the lines of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway network, a series of seven bronze panels recorded the names of the men of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway who gave their lives for King and Country in the Great War – a total of 1,460 names.

In March, 1940, a group of women of varying ages and backgrounds, stand in front of the memorial, ready to do their bit in this new World War...

What did I think about it..

It's always exciting to be in right at the beginning of a new historical saga and to have one set in the north west is especially heartwarming as many of the places mentioned in The Railway Girls are places I am familiar with, in fact, like one of the characters in the book, my own grandfather worked on the northern Railways.

The story starts in 1940 when the country is already in the grip of war. All those industries which once relied on manpower, now find that it is the women folk who have to keep the country together, from working in heavy industrial factories making ammunition, to keeping the canals and railways functioning, women were very much in charge of keeping the home fires burning. However, this didn't always sit comfortably with those men who stayed at home, and there was often resentment and bullying  towards the female workforce.

The eponymous railways girls are pulled from all walks of life, from the posh girls with plummy accents, to the rough and ready northern housewives, there is a real mix of personalities and I think that's what really works as right from the start the women who are brought together to work on the LMS railway network do so with a sense of excitement, trepidation and pure northern grit.

Some characters I liked more than others and some I wanted to give a good telling off to, but throughout it all I sensed that this disparate group were going to get on like a house on fire. I especially enjoyed when the women all met up after their shifts to share their problems over a cup of tea in the station tearoom. However, it's not all about gossiping over a teacup, there's plenty more going on, and I enjoyed how the author gave attention to each of the characters so that we got to know more about them, not just the roles they played on the railways ,but also their, very different, home circumstances.

The Railway Girls brings this wartime period alive in a beautifully written historical saga and the author uses her own local knowledge of the area to really bring everything alive in the imagination. Whether it be observing the hard graft of physical labour on the LMS network, or typing invoices in the clerks' office, or waltzing in the Manchester dance halls, there is never a moment when the personality of the railway girls, or the sense of historical authenticity doesn't shine through.

It's been a real pleasure to spend time with the intrepid railways girls and I am already looking forward to finding out just what happens next to them all.

Maisie Thomas was born and brought up in Manchester, which provides the location for her Railway Girls novels. She loves writing stories with strong female characters, set in times when women needed determination and vision to make their mark. The Railway Girls series is inspired by her great Aunt Jessie, who worked as a railway clerk during the First World War. Maisie now lives in beautiful North Wales with her railway enthusiast husband and their two rescue cats. They often enjoy holidays chugging up and down the UK’s heritage steam railways.

Twitter @MaisieThomas99 #TheRailwayGirls

Twitter @Arrowpublishing 

The Railway Girls is published in paperback and ebook on the 28th May 

Sunday 24 May 2020

Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Harriet Steel

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, Harriet Steel

Good morning, Harriet. Happy Sunday!

What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

Greek yogurt and fresh fruit salad.

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

English Breakfast tea, please.

Which of your literary heroes are joining us today?

There are so many writers I would love to talk to, but if I have to restrict myself, it would be Agatha Christie, with Dorothy Sayers a close second. 

What’s the title of the book nearest to you?

The Concise Oxford Dictionary – I’d be lost without it!

What’s the oldest book on your bookshelf?

A copy of The Wind in the Willows that belonged to my mother-in-law. The publisher didn’t print a publication date, but we think Sylvia would have been nine or ten when she was given it and she was born in 1927. 

Which book do you really want to read but haven’t had time for …yet!

It’s a series; I hope that’s admissible! I’ve always wanted to get through all of the Barchester Chronicles but so far, I’ve only managed The Warden and Barchester Towers.

Do you have a guilty reading pleasure, and if so will you tell us about it?

The Montalbano books by Andrea Camilleri, which are even more amusing in the television series based on them. Montalbano is so cool and the formula works brilliantly – the swim in the sea and the expresso coffee while he thinks about the answer to the case, the long-suffering girlfriend, and of course, the romantic Sicilian setting.

If the house was on fire which book would you rescue?

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. It was a favourite bedtime story for my daughters for many years, and I practically knew it by heart at one stage! The book brings back many happy memories. 


Do you have a reading/writing playlist on Spotify, or a favourite CD to listen to when reading/writing? And if so, will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy?

I prefer to be quiet when I’m writing, although I like to hear the birds singing outside my window. A piece of music that always makes me happy though is Bach’s Christmas Oratorio; I get in the festive spirit the moment I hear it!

Do you have a favourite place to settle down to read/write?

Now that our daughters are grown up with homes of their own, I have a room upstairs that used to be a bedroom. It has a view over the garden which is lovely.

Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs?

A computer is certainly essential for me as my writing is very untidy these days. When I’ve been in a rush to get some notes down, even I can hardly read it back! Constructive criticism is vital, as well as a good walk to clear my head when I hit a plot problem. Reading other authors is essential too. I think Stephen King was absolutely right when he said that if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. 

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

My latest novel is called Taken in Nuala, and it’s the eighth instalment in my Inspector de Silva Mysteries which are set in the 1930s in Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka). The series is traditional in style without graphic violence or sex.

I was lucky enough to visit Sri Lanka several years ago and immediately fell in love with the island. The people are charming, and life has a peaceful quality to it. The island has been described as India without the dirt and the crowds, and I think it’s a fair summing up. It has wonderful scenery and wildlife, and the plant life is lush and colourful. Many readers have told me that they’ve enjoy visiting it as armchair travellers through my books. They also say that the characters who feature regularly have come to feel like old friends, and (despite the danger of being murdered) Nuala feels a comfortable place to be, especially in these difficult times.

Harriet, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter @harrietsteel1

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Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Beth Duke

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'd delighted to welcome writer, Beth Duke

☼Good Morning, Beth. Happy Sunday !

What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch? 

The most delightful brunch dish I’ve eaten, ever: Banana Bread French Toast. The restaurant that served this to me is several hundred miles from my home, which is a good thing for my thighs. 

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

Buck’s Fizz, please, and if you’re out of orange juice, even better. 

Which of your literary heroes are joining us today

John Irving, Ken Follett, Barbara Kingsolver, and can anyone revive James Michener and Kurt Vonnegut? 

What’s the title of the book nearest to you? 

Oh, this is embarrassing. It’s a purely decorative novel called Lady Betty across the Water I bought at an antiques store because it’s pretty and slightly cheesy. 

What’s the oldest book on your book shelf? 

It’s likely an ancient copy of The Source by James Michener. Old Lady Betty lives on a coffee table. 

Which book do you really want to read but haven’t had time for …yet! 

I can’t really answer this question honestly, because I read all the time―if I want to read something, consider it read. I’d have to name War and Peace, simply because I’ve not taken the time for that and would like to say I’ve read it. But I don’t really want to. 

Do you have a guilty reading pleasure, and if so will you tell us about it? 

I feel no guilt whatsoever about anything I read. 

If the house was on fire which book would you rescue? 

The two first-edition copies of my books that have had redesigned covers. I would love to say, “Oh, my signed copy of Great Expectations” but I own no such thing. 

Do you have a reading/writing playlist on Spotify, or a favourite CD to listen to when reading/writing? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy? 

I have to write in complete silence, and the same goes for reading. Pin-drop silence. I do not understand authors with playlists and how they function! Pachelbel’s Canon in D makes me happy, though. So does Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress by The Hollies, Blinding Lights by The Weeknd, early Motown, most Taylor Swift songs, as well as certain rap songs I won’t name in polite company. If I’m not writing or reading, music makes me very happy in general. 

Do you have a favourite place to settle down to read/write? 

In bed, propped by pillows, with my laptop. 

Give us four essential items that a writer absolutely needs? 

A supportive and endlessly patient family 


Long walks 

Big dollops of positive reinforcement 

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

My latest, Tapestry, was launched last month. It’s a story about a quirky, magical, funny, brilliant Alabama grandmother and her granddaughter. They do a genetic ancestry test together and the results are a DNA bomb that alters their lives forever. It’s woven (pardon the pun) along with a tale of greed, deceit, sex, and control in Texas. The characters eventually come together in a surprising way. 

Beth Duke, Author of #1 Best Seller It All Comes Back to You, delivers an emotional and inspiring novel about family, from the roots that ground us to the branches that allow us to take flight.

"Beth Duke is a poet disguised as a Southern novelist.
Tapestry made me laugh, made me think and in the end, made me cry. 
Tapestry delivers on ALL counts.”
-Dan Brown, Author of Reunion

Twenty-one-year-old Skye Willis lives in Eufaula, Alabama, a tourist mecca of stately homes and world-class bass fishing. Her childhood friends are either stuck at dead ends or have moved on to accomplish Big Things. 

Skye’s grandmother, Verna, insists on being called “Sparrow” because she suspects her ancestors were Muscogee Creek. She dresses in faux deerskin and experiments with ancient Native American recipes, offering a myth or legend to anyone who will listen.

Skye has no idea what to do with her life. She’s smart as hell, but she has no faith or knowledge there’s something out there she was “born to do.” Nor does she know much of anything about her father, who died in Afghanistan when she was a toddler. He and his family are a mystery her mother won’t discuss. But when Sparrow sets out to confirm her Creek ancestry through genetic testing, Skye joins in. 

The results hit like a DNA bomb, launching them both on a path filled with surprises and life-changing events. Skye learns a harder truth than she ever expected. 

Alternating chapters between Skye’s Alabama life and an intertwining tale of greed, deceit, and control in Texas, this story offers proof that all life is a woven tapestry of past, present, and future. 

In Beth Duke’s uplifting and soul-singing voice, TAPESTRY is Southern Fiction at its best; you will cry, you will laugh out loud, and you will wish you were a member of the beautiful, matriarchal family Duke has created for her readers. 

Beth, where can we follow you on social media? 

Twitter handle: @bethidee 

Instagram @onlythebethforyou 

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Saturday 23 May 2020

His Fic Saturday ~ Dance to the Storm by Maggie Craig

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to...1743

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Alligin Books
February 2020

My thanks to the author for my ecopy of this book

Edinburgh, December 1743: Redcoat Captain Robert Catto is between the Devil and the deep blue sea. His investigations have turned up compelling evidence of a real threat posed to the House of Hanover by a plan to restore the House of Stuart to the British throne. His duty is to draw out as many Jacobites as he can find in Scotland's capital and gather evidence against them, their names to be handed over to Duncan Forbes of Culloden, Lord President of the Court of Session, and Catto's mentor. Two of those dedicated Jacobite plotters are Patrick Rankeillor, surgeon-apothecary, and his daughter Christian Rankeillor. Yet with every day that passes and despite their very different and deeply held views, Robert and Christian are falling ever more deeply in love. How is he to reconcile doing his duty with his feelings for Christian Rankeillor?

What did I think about it..

Those who have read this author's previous historical novel will be familiar with the Storm over Scotland series which features Redcoat Captain, Robert Catto, and his growing attraction to the rather unconventional, Christian Rankeillor, a young woman, who, with her passionate zeal for the Jacobite cause, has a distinct knack of being caught up in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

The story begins immediately where Gathering Storm left off and continues in the same theme with Robert Catto doing all he can to discover the activities of those Jacobite followers who would seek to plot against the Hanoverian crown, but in doing his undercover work, Catto continually puts himself and his friends and associates in grave danger. I particularly enjoyed reading of Catto's relationship with young Geordie Smart, who, it must be said, doesn't have an easy time of it in this novel.

The author knows more than most about the Jacobite history of Scotland having written non- fiction books about the subject and writes with great enthusiasm bringing a wealth of historical knowledge to her stories. This continues in Dance to the Storm where the general air of unease continues to threaten, and as the mystery surrounding the Jacobite plotters grows ever deeper, so the hint of danger to both Catto and Rankeillor continually threatens to engulf them.

It has been interesting to travel back in time to these rather dark days of Scottish history, when the political intrigue was at its height, and when the Jacobite cause was just starting to gain momentum in the city which would see much political upheaval in the following few years.

I am sure that the author will continue to explore this theme in the Storm over Scotland series.

About the Author

Maggie Craig writes Scottish historical fiction and non-fiction. As the author of the ground-breaking and acclaimed Damn' Rebel Bitches: The Women of the '45, she is the acknowledged expert on the women who supported - and some who opposed - Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites of 1745.

Twitter @CraigMaggie

Friday 22 May 2020

Feature ~ Unleashed :The Game Changers with Paola Diana




UNLEASHED: THE GAME CHANGERS is an inspiring and empowering YouTube Talk Show and Podcast hosted by Women's Rights Activist, Author, Entrepreneur, Speaker & Host Paola Diana.

Unleashed: The Game Changers introduces 20 inspirational champions of change, successful women and men who have faced huge personal and professional challenges and who have all dramatically changed their lives for the better.

The first series of Unleased: The Game Changers includes conversations with Claudia Doval the Jiu jitsu black belt World Champion speaks openly for the first time about her fight with Bulimia and her experiences of sexual abuse, with female airline pilot Captain Brenda Riepsaame Wassink whose extraordinary sideways emergency landing saved the lives of her passengers, with award winning film makers and pioneering LGBTQ couple Shamim Sarif and Hanan Kattan about diversity, prejudice and religion, with Melanie Seymour Global Head of Black Rock and Vice President of the Advisory Board of Women in Banking and Finance about glass ceilings and equality in the work place, with TV chef & cookery author Ching He Huang, about how financial setbacks paved the way to her success and with Neuroscientist Sarah J. Caddick, about human behaviour and the behaviour of change and challenge. 

In her signature no filter, no hypocrisy style, Paola Diana speaks to leading scientists, entrepreneurs, doctors, authors, activists, athletes, philanthropists about game changing career moves and personal changes that have transformed their own lives and the lives of others. Subjects discussed range from mental health, relationships, discrimination, gender equality, and self-defence to business, sport, religion, neuroscience, and fake news.

Unleashed: The Game Changers explores the lives of inspirational people who have been brave enough to change their lives more than once. The first season includes 20 episodes which feature interviews with inspirational people and leaders from the fields of Business, Sport, Science, Politics, Law, Film, and the Arts. Unleashed: The Game Changers shows that we should not be blinded by fear, instead we should embrace change and be brave enough to change our lives. Episodes of Unleashed: The Game Changers have been watched 200,000 times.

Paola Diana: Game Changer

“I left in awe of her willingness to say the unsayable

no matter what trouble it will cause”

Helen Rumbelow, The Times

Paola Diana’s own life story is one of inspirational change and challenge. As a child and a teenager, she suffered physical and psychological abuse at the hands of her father, which lead to bulimia and depression. Escaping at 19 to attend university, she never returned to her family. Instead she carved a path for herself. Despite facing sexual discrimination, she forged a career as one of the only females in Italy working in politics

She ran a Think Tank in support of the former Prime Minister of Italy and President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi’s political campaign. And then went on to found her own Think Tank PariMerito (Equal Merit), which she used to lobby the Italian Government to pass new equality laws in the workplace, including a new bill requiring every company board to have minimum 30% female representation.

In her personal life she has moved to completely new cities where she knew no one three times in her life, Bologna, Rome and London. Each time relishing the challenge of building up a new life for herself from scratch. A commentator and critic of sexual equality, domestic abuse, and violence against women, she is incredibly outspoken, honest and brave in tackling taboo subjects around women.

Saving the World by Paola Diana

Part manifesto for change part historical and sociological essay, Saving the World charts women’s condition through the centuries, analysing their treatment within political, religious, economic and societal contexts to form a bigger picture of their place in the world; because to understand the present, and make a meaningful difference, we must get to grips with the past. This is a journey that concludes with a clear vision for a better society in which all women are set free from fear, violence and oppression. Paola Diana impresses on us that this world we inhabit, dominated by men and often seemingly immutable, is far from the only one possible. 

On Friday 22nd May, Paola launches the first in a special series of new lockdown podcasts with Trisha Goddard, host of the popular TV show Trisha.

Trisha Goddard, the pioneering TV presenter and the first black woman to front a British chat show, opens up about everything from dating younger men, feeling 17 at 63, and sex in your 60s to controlling men, what it’s like to be the breadwinner in a marriage, and boyfriends who need mothering, as well as how she finally found the one, in an honest and candid chat with Paola Diana.

About Paola Diana

A bestselling author and political activist, Paola Diana is a mouthpiece for female equality, having experienced both domestic abuse and sex discrimination throughout her life. Now a London based entrepreneur and campaigner for equal rights Paola has dedicated her life to championing sexual equality in business and politics.

In her home country of Italy, Paola is the founder of the organisation PariMerito (Equal Merit), which she used to lobby the Italian Government to pass new equality laws in the work place, including a new bill requiring every company board to have minimum 30% female representation. Prior to starting PariMerito Paola ran a Think Tank in support of the former Prime Minister and President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi’s political campaign, which had a focus on issues including welfare, female employment and structural policies in favour of the family and equal opportunities.

In the UK Paola is also an entrepreneur starting her first business as a single mother of two, she now runs three separate businesses and has established herself as a market leader in recruitment and lifestyle services, recognised as one of London’s most influential service providers for high net worth individuals, families and corporations around the world.

Twitter @paoladiana_


Thursday 21 May 2020

🌠 Paperback Publication Day ~ The Light Keeper by Cole Moreton

🌠🌠 Happy Paperback Publication Day πŸŒ πŸŒ 

Marylebone Books
Paperback :21 May 2020

Sarah stands on the brink, arms open wide as if to let the wind carry her away. 

Her partner Jack is desperate to find her before it is too late. But Sarah doesn’t want to be found. She’s run away to be alone, to face a moment of truth that will mean life or death. 

And someone else is seeking answers up here on the high cliffs near Beachy Head, where the seabirds soar – a man known only as the Keeper, living in an old lighthouse without a light, right on the cusp of a four-hundred-foot drop. 

He is also discovering that sometimes love takes you to the edge…


In August last year I was thrilled to be part of the blog tour when The Light Keeper was launched in ebook format and today it is launched in paperback.

Here's a chance to read my review again.

Sarah Bramer is desperate for a child but with her marriage struggling with the strain of infertility, and in a sense of hopelessness, she has run away from her husband, Jack. Jack starts a desperate search to find Sarah before her fractured mind causes her to do something dreadful.

Near to Beachy Head, a man known as the Keeper tends an unused lighthouse, where high above the cliffs he guards his own battered soul, searching for answers he can never find, about a loss so great his mind is numbed by it. And then the Keeper meets Sarah, and life is irrevocably changed for both of these troubled souls.

With strong themes about love, loss, infertility and suicide, this is sometimes a difficult book to 'enjoy' in the widest sense, however, the author's ability to get right into the heart of these characters turns this story into something quite special. Each word is carefully placed, and with never an emotion wasted, the author's passion for imaginative storytelling shines through.

The Light Keeper is an insightful and carefully constructed story around the power of loss and of the torment of struggling in a world where all hope of understanding seems to have disappeared. Emotional and tense the story runs through a myriad of emotions which are beautifully expressed, often quite stark in places, but always reminiscent of those individual hurts which can so easily threaten to overpower everything.

Award-winning interviewer, writer and broadcaster Cole Moreton has covered many of the major news stories of our time, from 9/11 to the Olympics and the death of Nelson Mandela. He writes, talks and tells stories about the arts, politics, cultural identity, faith, spirituality and life - and above all, about people. Cole’s previous book, The Boy Who Gave His Heart Away, told the moving true story of a modern medical miracle. His BBC Radio 4 series of the same name won Audio Moment of the Year at the Arias, and Best Writing at the World’s Best Radio awards. The Light Keeper is Cole’s first novel.

Twitter @ColeMoreton #TheLightKeeper