Sunday, 25 July 2021

☼Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Gail Aldwin

☼ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic ☼

Summertime is here 

☼ I'm delighted to welcome author Gail Aldwin to our Summer picnic ☼

What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?

I love a scotch egg and a bit of quiche. Tomatoes and chunks of cucumber are compulsory. A slice of cake goes down well for afters.

☼What would you like to drink? We have white wine spritzers, locally brewed beer, traditional Pimms, sparkling elderflower cordial, or a thermos of tea or coffee.

Alcohol at lunchtime sends me to sleep so I better stick with a cup of tea, Earl Grey if you have it.

☼Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside or somewhere hot?

I do love a stomp through fields to find a picnic spot under the shade of a tree. The weather has to be warm or what’s the point?

☼Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag?

I’ll put the grub in my backpack and I’ll make sure we have ceramic mugs for the tea. I’ll carry the collapsible chairs, too.

☼Do you have a favourite place to have a summer picnic?

Anywhere off the beaten track suits me.

Which of your literary heroes (alive or dead) are joining us on the picnic today?

As I’ve been reading lots of novels with child narrators, I think I’ll bring one of them along. Children love picnics. I wonder what eleven-year-old Harrison Opoku from Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English would make of this very British tradition? Being a new arrival from Ghana, I’m sure he’d have something to say about it!

☼Which summer read are you bringing with you today?

If only I could get a copy of The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan before its released in August. I spent the spring in Edinburgh and lived just around the corner from the Botanic, so I’m dying to read this novel.

August 2021

☼What is your earliest summer memory?

Paddling in the sea. My older sister was daring, she launched herself into the water and had to be rescued!

☼Do you have a summer music playlist? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy?

This is a dreadful admission, but I rarely listen to music. I prefer the company of spoken voices to song. My favourite summer song relates to a carefree time in my twenties – it’s got to be Loveshack by the B52s.

☼Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer?

I always have a huge TBR pile, and I try to read books according to the date they are acquired. Some end up jumping the queue but I’ll enjoy a good novel whatever the season.

☼Do you find it easier to write in the summer months or during the winter?

I’m a focused writer so summer or winter makes no difference to my writing schedule. I do like to write about summer in the summer and winter in the winter. I find it challenging to write out of the season I’m experiencing.

☼What can you tell us about your current book or WIP?

My second contemporary novel for adults was released in early July 2021. This Much Huxley Knows uses a seven-year-old narrator to shine a light on adult experiences. It was a joy to write and re-experience the joys, thrills, dangers and surprises of childhood. But now Huxley is out in the world, I’m working on a new novel. This time I’ve turned to crime fiction and I’m writing a dual timeline novel. Following redundancy in 2010, menopausal journalist Stephanie Brett investigates the earlier disappearance of a teenage, west country girl in a cold case podcast. Through the 1978 storyline, Carolyn Forster tells her own story of infatuation and exploitation.

Gail, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter handle: Twitter:

About This Much Huxley Knows

I’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.

Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?

Funny and compassionate, this contemporary novel for adults explores issues of belonging, friendship and what it means to trust.

‘Read this and feel young again’ ­– Joe Siple, author of The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride

‘Moving and ultimately upbeat’ – Christopher Wakling, author of What I Did

‘A joyous novel with the wonderfully exuberant character of Huxley’ – Sara Gethin, author of Not Thomas

Pre-order links

About Gail Aldwin

Novelist, poet and scriptwriter, Gail Aldwin’s debut coming-of-age novel The String Games was a finalist in The People’s Book Prize and the DLF Writing Prize 2020. Following a stint as a university lecturer, Gail’s children’s picture book Pandemonium was published. Gail loves to appear at national and international literary and fringe festivals. Prior to Covid-19, she volunteered at Bidibidi in Uganda, the second largest refugee settlement in the world. When she’s not gallivanting around, Gail writes at her home overlooking water meadows in Dorset.

Gail, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter @gailaldwin



Thank you for sharing your picnic with us today.

Follow on Twitter 



Saturday, 24 July 2021

πŸ“– Hist Fic Saturday ~ Reputation by Lex Croucher

On Hist Fic Saturday 

Let's go back to ...Regency England

Bonnier Books UK
8 July 2021

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Regency just got a little more rebellious...

Abandoned by her parents in favour of a sea view, middle-class Georgiana Ellers has moved to a new town to live with her dreary aunt and uncle. At a particularly dull dinner party she meets the enigmatic Frances Campbell, a wealthy socialite and enchanting member of the in-crowd.

Through Frances and her friends Georgiana is introduced to a new world of wild parties, drunken debauchery, mysterious young men with strangely alluring hands, and the sparkling upper echelons of Regency society.

But high society isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and the price of entry might be more than Georgiana is willing to pay . . .

 πŸ“– My Thoughts...

Georgiana Ellers is dying of ennui when she meets the effervescent, and fabulously wealthy, Frances Campbell at a dreadfully, dull soiree. From their first meeting, a lively friendship develops between the teenagers which launches Georgiana into a whole new strata of society, for, it would seem, that Frances and her acquaintances care nothing about social niceties nor do they feel the need to be restricted by the bounds of what polite society expects from young ladies and gentlemen of the Regency upper classes.

Reputation is a lively read and races along at full pelt and there's never a dull moment as Georgiana gets drawn further and further into a risquΓ© world of raucous behaviour, drugs, and copious amounts of alcohol. Those who love Regency romances, with an added bit of spice, will be immediately drawn into the story which brings the Regency world, with all of its stifling social restrictions, to life in a fun and very entertaining way.

Those who enjoyed watching Bridgerton on TV will find much to enjoy in this entertaining coming of age story. Jane Austen it certainly isn't but if you want a fun romp through a very different Regency world then I'm sure Reputation will appeal to your sense of fun.

About the Author

Lex Croucher is a writer, producer and You Tuber based in London, with over 100,000 followers across her social media platforms.

Twitter/lnsta: @lexcanroar

Youtube: /lexcroucher

Friday, 23 July 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Captivating the Cynical Earl by Catherine Tinley

Thrilled to be hosting a stop on this Blog Tour

Harlequin Historical
27 July 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book 
and to Rachel's Random Resources for my invitation to the blog tour

The cool, aloof earl

And the enchanting lady

For Jack Beresford, Earl of Hawkenden, emotional entanglements are the path to pain. But when his brother brings his new wife and her best friend to his country home, everything changes. Lady Cecily Thornhill is both vibrant and beautiful, and Jack finds himself increasingly captivated by her sunnynature. Yet he must resist her charms, for in a month she’ll be gone unless his frozen heart thaws before then...

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

Lady Cecily Thornhill is certainly no shrinking violet and when she meets Jack Beresford, the Earl of Hawkenden, at an evening soiree she is not surprised to find that her best friend's new brother-in-law is both arrogant and rude. The Earl's reputation for brusqueness is well known but Cecily is determined not to let him spoil her friend, Nell's happiness and wishes to smooth the relationship between the Beresford brothers. Lady Cecily agrees to spend time with Nell and Tom Beresford at their country home, but is little prepared for her reaction when Lord Hawkenden also arrives to spend time there with two of his hunting friends.

I really enjoy reading this author's historical fiction, her Regency stories which are so beautifully researched, never fail to entertain, and she always makes her stories come alive with lively conversation, a hint towards a trouble past and the sizzle of a will they, won't they romance. The setting, this time at a beautiful country home, highlights the attraction of the  countryside, whilst at the same time allows the customs and practices by which the elite of society lived, the restrictions of what was acceptable behaviour, and the subtle nuances of etiquette are all brought vividly into focus. It was interesting to observe how,  as Lady Cecily and Lord Hawkenden become better acquainted, so a flair of passion starts to ignite between them.

Captivating the Cynical Earl is a lovely Regency romance which has all the trademarks of this author's fine ability to recreate the social niceties of the Regency era, in an entertaining story of female friendship, brotherly rivalry, and the sizzle of an unexpected, romantic attraction.

About the Author

Catherine Tinley is an award winning author of historical romance. She writes witty, heartwarming Regency love stories for Harlequin Mills & Boon. Her first book,Waltzing with the Earl, won the Rita Award for Best Historical Romance 2018, while Rags-to-Riches Wife won the RoNA Award for Best Historical Romance 2021.

She has loved reading and writing since childhood, and has a particular fondness for love, romance,and happy endings. After a career encompassing speech & language therapy, Sure Start, maternity campaigning and being President of a charity, she now manages a maternity hospital. She lives in Ireland with her husband, children, cats, and dog and can be reached at 

Twitter @CatherineTinley 



Thursday, 22 July 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Murder Box by Olivia Kiernan


Delighted to take part in this Blog Tour on Publication Day

22 July 2021

Frankie Sheehan #4

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
and the invitation to be part of this Blog Blast

Some games can be deadly. At first, Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan believes the murder mystery game sent to her office is a birthday gift from one of her colleagues. But when Frankie studies the game's contents, she notices a striking resemblance between the 'murder victim' and missing twenty-twoyear-old Lydia Callin. As Frankie and her team investigate, a series of grisly crimes connected to the game are discovered across Dublin city and Lydia's involvement with a shadowy network of murder mystery players becomes clear. On the hunt for Lydia's murderer, Frankie is drawn more deeply into the game. Every successful move brings her closer to the killer. But the real question is not what happens should she lose – but what happens if she wins.

πŸ“– My thoughts..

When a cleverly put together Murder Box game is delivered to the police incident room at the Irish GardaΓ­’s Bureau for Serious Crime, Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan is under the impression that it is a gift for her birthday. Baffled by a real life investigation into the disappearance of a local celebrity, which doesn't appear to be leading anywhere, Frankie is eager for distraction but when a young woman is reported missing, suddenly the contents of the Murder Box take on a rather sinister meaning.

I thought the idea of the Murder Box was an intriguing way to open the story and pretty soon Frankie and her team find that this sinister box offers much more than they could ever have imagined. Before long, it's a race against time to discover more about those who are involved in this dangerous murder game before something happens and another person disappears from the city of Dublin.

I've met DCS Frankie Sheehan before and I am always impressed with the way she throws herself into the investigation, often putting herself, and her team, in grave danger, but as always, her grit and tenacity to get the case solved is to her credit. Frankie's relationship with her police partner, Baz Harwood, is an interesting one, they each have each others backs and yet in The Murder Box, Baz seems to be preoccupied and isn't always on top form, so the different dynamic between them is interesting to observe.

This clever author has now given us four thrilling adventures in which Frankie Sheehan and her team get to solve some really challenging crimes and whilst The Murder Box can be read comfortably as a standalone, as with all series it's best if you follow from the start and enjoy this talented author's intricately plotted crime novels.

About the Author

Olivia Kiernan is an Irish writer living in the UK. She was born and raised in County Meath, near the famed heritage town of Kells and holds an MA in Creative Writing awarded by the University of Sussex.

Twitter @livkiernan #TheMurderBox

@quercusbooks @riverrunbooks

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell


Random House, Cornerstone
22 July 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

2017: 19 year old Tallulah is going out on a date, leaving her baby with her mother, Kim.

Kim watches her daughter leave and, as late evening turns into night, which turns into early morning, she waits for her return. And waits.

The next morning, Kim phones Tallulah's friends who tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a party at a house in the nearby woods called Dark Place.

She never returns.

2019: Sophie is walking in the woods near the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started work as a head-teacher when she sees a note fixed to a tree.

'DIG HERE' . . .

A cold case, an abandoned mansion, family trauma and dark secrets lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell's remarkable new novel.

πŸ“– My thoughts...

Leaving her baby son with her mum, Tallulah heads off to the local pub with her boyfriend. All is well until the early hours of the morning when Tallulah's mum, Kim realises that Tallulah hasn't returned home and even though she traces her daughter's last known whereabouts, and despite an intensive police search of the local area neither Tallulah, nor her boyfriend, Zach are found. Two years later and Sophie is walking in the woods near to the property where she and her partner have just moved  and she comes across a mysterious message which opens up the cold case once more to scrutiny.

The Night She Disappeared is a powerful and compelling psychological thriller which grabs grabs your attention right from the opening prologue and doesn't let go for a single minute. It's quite a chilling story, especially in the description of Dark Place, an old mansion which features strongly and which not only adds an air of gothic gloom but also a sense of creeping menace. It's definitely one of those stories which is best read in one sitting and even though I was reading the book on one of the hottest days of the year I definitely felt an anticipatory chill in my bones as I read on to the startling conclusion.

The Night She Disappeared is Lisa Jewell writing at her absolute best in a powerful psychological thriller which will keep you guessing from start to finish.

Twitter @lisajewelluk #TheNightSheDisappeared


Tuesday, 20 July 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Distant Shores by Santa Montefiore


Delighted to be taking part in this blog tour today

Simon & Schuster
8 July 2021

Deverill Chronicles #5

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

Pure escapism on every page, The Distant Shores tells the story of a family torn apart, and the woman who will bring them back together.

Margot Hart travels to Ireland to write a biography of the famous Deverill family. She knows she must speak to the current Lord Deverill – JP – if she is to uncover the secrets of the past. A notorious recluse, JP won’t be an easy man to crack. But Margot is determined – and she is not a woman who is easily put off.

What she never expected was to form a close bond with JP and be drawn into his family disputes. Shouldering the blame for running up debts that forced him to sell the family castle, JP is isolated and vulnerable. With help from his handsome son Colm, it seems as though Margot might be the only one who can restore JP’s fortunes.

Will the family ever succeed in healing rifts that have been centuries in the making?

πŸ“– My thoughts..

The Distant Shores is the fifth book in the series of novels which have charted the progress, both good and bad, of the Deverill family, whose ancient family seat in Ireland is very much part of the story. In what could be the last book of the series, the author brings the story up to the 1980s with the arrival of a young journalist, Margot Hart, who is writing a biography of the Deverill family. Once the family home, Castle Deverill  has now been converted into a luxurious hotel and Margot has been a given the privilege of being the writer in residence as she sets about trying to make sense of the complicated Deverill history.

The Deverills have certainly had a chequered history and if you have followed this series from the start then you will be well aware of the family dynamics. In this latest book there is a sense of bringing everything together whilst at the same time allowing a glimpse of what has gone before. Margot has a difficult task ahead as not only must she gain the confidence of the current Lord Deverill, who has been a recluse for many years, but she must also overcome the animosity from other family members. The supernatural element to the story sits comfortably alongside what is happening in the present and allows the author the liberty of explaining what has gone before.

The author writes well and has obviously invested a great deal of time in bringing this series to life. The characters are many and varied, so it took a little time for me to get to know who was who and where they fitted into the family, but I enjoyed reading of Margot's involvement in bringing the past to light and the way that family, friendship and forgiveness is ultimately what matters.

Readers who have followed this series will find much to enjoy in The Distant Shores and whilst it can be read as a standalone story, I do think it makes more sense to start the Deverill Chronicles from the beginning and enjoy the intricate sense of family history which this author recreates so well. 

About the Author

Santa Montefiore was born in England in 1970 and grew up in Hampshire. She is married to writer Simon Sebag Montefiore. They live with their two children, Lily and Sasha, in London. Santa’s books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages and have sold more than six million copies in England and Europe.

Twitter @SantaMontefiore #TheDistantShores



Monday, 19 July 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Country Village Summer FΓͺte by Cathy Lake


10 June 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Emma Patrick's life is spiralling out of control. On the cusp of her 50th birthday, she suddenly realises that she doesn't have many meaningful relationships in her life. She's single, successful, living alone and thinks she's loving it, but being so focussed on work and always online means she's lost any real connection to people.

When Emma gets a call to say her ageing father is becoming increasingly confused, she decides that she should go back home to the countryside to spend some time with him. But returning to Little Bramble, the village she grew up in, after all these years, is filled with complications of its own and people she'd rather avoid.

As Emma starts to settle in to her childhood home, she finds herself loving village life - much to her surprise. When the opportunity to get involved in the running of the summer fete comes her way, before she knows it she's embracing jam making, cake baking and bunting. And with romance brewing, Emma begins to doubt the glamorous life in London that she worked so hard to build.

πŸ“– My thoughts..

If you imagine the quintessential chocolate box English village then Little Bramble would be right up there with the best of them. When Emma Patrick receives a call to say that her elderly father is ill she makes the decision to leave London and head back to her childhood home in Little Bramble. However, once back in the place where she grew up painful memories from her past start to emerge but as Emma is drawn back into village life so she starts to look towards a different sort of future.

I loved my first visit to Little Bramble in The Country Village Christmas Show so I was especially excited to return to this lovely place again, not just to meet up with old friends but also to make new friends, especially Emma, and the lovely Connor.

There's a real summery feel to this story especially as Little Bramble is gearing up to its annual summer fete so some of the story is taken up with the preparation and all the little niggles which go with putting on an event in a small village but also it's about the people who live there, some are more likeable than others but they all add their own individual charm. There are some lovely thoughtful moments between Emma and her father which make the story all the more heartwarming but it is in the will they, won't they relationship between Emma and Connor where the heart of the story lies.

The Country Village Summer FΓͺte is every bit as good as I wanted it to be, light, lovely and deliciously summery. It's the perfect escapist read for a blue sky, fluffy cloud sort of day.

About the Author

Cathy Lake is a women's fiction writer who lives with her family and three dogs in beautiful South Wales. She writes uplifting stories about strong women, family, friendship, love, community and overcoming obstacles.

Twitter @LakeAuthor


Sunday, 18 July 2021

☼Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Jo Bartlett

☼ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic ☼

 Summertime is here 

☼ I'm delighted to welcome author Jo Bartlett to our Summer picnic ☼


☼Jo, welcome to Jaffareadstoo. What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?

Oh, great question! Probably my favourite picnic food is Wensleydale cheese with cranberries on sourdough crackers, topped with black grape halves. It means bringing a little board to chop the cheese and grapes on, but some things are worth going the extra mile for. Although, to be honest, I’ll happily picnic with a peanut butter sandwich and a packet of cheese and onion crisps, if the company is right! For dessert, it has to be strawberries and also some of the oozy chocolate brownies that my husband is a dab hand at whipping up.

☼What would you like to drink? We have white wine spritzers, locally brewed beer, traditional Pimms, sparkling elderflower cordial, or a thermos of tea or coffee

I went camping with my adult niece a couple of summers ago and she told she’d been asked one of those ‘would you rather’ questions, about whether she’d give up alcohol or tea for life, if she had to choose one. We’ve never had such an intense debate! In the end we decided we had to keep tea, because we drink that much more often, but it was an almost impossible dilemma. So, if I’m allowed, I’ll go for Pimms first please and then a lovely cup of tea with my brownies.

Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside or somewhere hot?

It’ll always be in the countryside for me. I only like the heat if I can slip into the pool whenever I fancy it and no-one wants sand in their sandwiches, do they? Much as I love my garden, if we picnic there, either one of the kids or one of the dogs is likely to gate-crash and nab the best of the food!

☼Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag?

Definitely the hamper. I’m all for making an occasion and a celebration out of as many events as possible, so let’s go all out and spoil ourselves!

☼Do you have favourite place to have a summer picnic?

There’s a one-hundred and fifty acre stretch of woodland not far from where I live, where we can find the perfect shady glade. Although, it’s also walking distance from my favourite pub, so we’ll have a handy Plan B if the weather suddenly does that quintessentially British thing of deciding to open the heavens!

☼Which of your literary heroes (alive or dead) are joining us on the picnic today?

I’d love to have Charles Dickens there and ask him how he came up with the plot for a book that – as the recent film stated – essentially invented Christmas. Coming up with characters and a storyline line which, much like Shakespeare, has become part of the language and culture of an entire country is beyond even an author’s wildest imaginings. I’d love to meet Ruth Jones or Dawn French too, both of whom have written some fabulous novels and TV series. I’d ask them if being actors helps them to get inside the heads of the characters in their novels and whether the writing process is hugely different between the two mediums. That said, if I could only have one literary hero at the picnic, it would have to be Sue Townsend, who wrote the Adrian Mole books. I was the female version of Adrian growing up, with the same amount of angst and awkwardness, and the same desperate longing to be a writer. The stories are hilarious, but filled with pathos at the same time and, to me, Sue Townsend was nothing short of a genius.

☼Which summer read are you bringing with you today?

I’ve started to read a few more psychological dramas lately, probably because it’s quite different to the genre I spend my days writing. So it’ll be Lisa Jewell’s ‘The Family Upstairs’ tucked into the side of the wicker basket.


☼What is your earliest summer memory?

Probably playing ‘show-jumping’ in the back garden. My older sister desperately wanted to grow up and compete at the Horse of the Year Show – a dream she eventually fulfilled – and I just copied whatever she did. We had to be our own horses at that stage, so we’d ‘gallop’ around the garden Miranda Hart style, jumping over a broom handle balanced across two garden chairs. It must have made the neighbours laugh!

☼Do you have a summer music playlist ? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy?

My daughter puts together the best playlists and I’ve discovered a lot of artists I’d never have heard of if I didn’t let her take over control of the music on our summer road trips. Although, let’s face it, nothing says summer like an old school singalong, so how about Summer Nights from Grease? I’ll take the John Travolta bit, if you can hit Olivia Newton-John’s high notes!

☼Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer?

If I’m away on holiday, I like an easier read, mainly because, according to my family, I am a terminally nosey people watcher - I like to call it research! It means I get easily distracted listening to the conversation next to me, when I’m away somewhere, so I don’t want anything that has a really complex plot, as I need to be able to easily pick up where I left off.

☼Do you find it easier to write in the summer months or during the winter?

I find it easy to write anywhere and anytime. I think it comes from the days when I started out and was fitting writing around a full time job and a young family. If we are away on holiday, I usually wake up a couple of hours before everyone else, because sleep is generally a bit elusive, and I often get up and write two or three thousand words before the rest of the family rise for breakfast.

☼What can you tell us about your current book or WIP?

The second book in The Cornish Midwives’ series – A Summer Wedding for the Cornish Midwife – was released on the 1st July and I am just finishing the first draft of book 4 in the series, to go into my editor by the end of July. All the stories in the series are set in and around the Port Agnes midwifery unit, on the beautiful Cornish Atlantic coast. The stories are about community, friendship, love and, of course, more than a dash of medical drama! Think Call the Midwife meets Doc Martin and you’ll know what to expect.

Boldwood Books

The venue is booked, the dress is picked, and Senior Midwife Anna Jones only has to say ‘I Do!’ to the man she loves! Theirs might have been a whirlwind romance, but Brae Penrose is everything Anna dreamed her husband would be and she can’t wait to start a family with him. But as the big day approaches, Anna still isn’t pregnant and when disaster strikes, their perfect day looks destined not to happen at all! Is it a sign to slow things down? The other midwives won’t hear of Anna and Brae postponing their big day, and soon the whole community of Port Agnes comes together to make sure the Penrose wedding goes off without a hitch! And Anna realises, baby or not, she already has her dream family with Brae and her friends by her side. Meet The Cornish Midwives of Port Agnes- where community, friendship and love are always delivered.

Jo, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter handle: @J_B_Writer

Facebook page: @JoBartlettAuthor

Instagram handle: jo_bartlett123

Jo, thank you for sharing your summer picnic with us today.

Follow on Twitter



Saturday, 17 July 2021

πŸ“– Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Wrecking Storm by Michael Ward

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to....London, 1641

Sharpe Books
April 2021
Thomas Tallant #2

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book



The poisonous dispute pushing King Charles and Parliament towards Civil War is reaching the point of no return.

Law and order in the city are collapsing as Puritan radicals demand more concessions from the King. Bishops and lords are attacked in the streets as the Apprentice Boys run amok. Criminal gangs use the disorder to mask their activities while the people of London lock their doors and pray for deliverance.

No one is immune from the contagion. Two Jesuit priests are discovered in hiding and brutally executed - and soon the family of spice merchant Thomas Tallant is drawn into the spiral of violence. Tallant's home is ransacked, his warehouse raided and his sister seized by kidnappers

Thomas struggles to discover who is responsible, aided by the enigmatic Elizabeth Seymour, a devotee of science, maths and tobacco in equal measure. Together they enter a murky world of court politics, street violence, secret codes and poisoned letters, and confront a vicious gang leader who will stop at nothing to satisfy his greed.

Can Elizabeth use her skills to unpick the mass of contradictory evidence before the Tallants are ruined – both as a business and a family?

And as the fight for London between King and Parliament hurtles to its dramatic conclusion, can the Tallants survive the personal and political maelstrom?

πŸ“– My thoughts..

In The Wrecking Storm we meet again with Thomas Tallant, and his companion, Elizabeth Seymour, as they try to make sense of the political dissent, and civil unrest, which is affecting London, and which will go on to have such devastating consequences for the country as a whole.

The year is 1641, law and order are a thing of the past, and as dangerous riots break out throughout the city the Tallant family are fighting their own particular battle. With their spice warehouse, and family home, the target for marauders, and trouble makers, the Tallants must do everything they can to protect themselves but finding out who is responsible for the attacks leaves them vulnerable to further danger.The mystery at the heart of the story adds extra excitement and keeps the momentum cranked up to high. 

The author writes well and certainly does a great deal of research in order to bring the seventeenth century world alive in the imagination. With fine attention to historical detail, The Wrecking Storm is every bit as good as the first book in the series and is quite possibly rather darker with more of a hint of danger. There is the chance to get to know some of the characters better, Thomas seems much stronger and more of his own man, and I especially enjoy reading of pipe smoking, Elizabeth Seymour, who could fill a book all on her own.

There is much to discover about the political turmoil in this momentous year before the outbreak of the English Civil War and the author does a great job of keeping the mystery of the plot concerning the Tallants running alongside what was going on during the Long Parliament. The only bit which I remember from history lessons at school was that on discovering that five key parliamentarians had fled the Commons was that King Charles I said "I see the birds have flown" so I was please to see this little gem tucked away in the narrative.

Whilst it is possible to read this second book as a standalone, I do think it would be helpful to read Rags of Time first as it introduces the main characters who feature so strongly in this continuation.  I am sure that we shall meet again with the Tallants as the country forges ahead with a war which will separate fathers from sons, and brothers from brothers, in the English Civil War.

About the Author

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.

Twitter @mikewardmedia #TheWreckingStorm

Friday, 16 July 2021

Book Review ~ Our Fathers by Rebecca Wait

January 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

When Tom was eight years old, his father took a shotgun and shot his family: his wife, his son and baby daughter, before turning the gun on himself. Only Tom survived.

He left his tiny, shocked community on the island of Litta and the strained silence of his Uncle Malcolm’s house while still a young boy.

Twenty years have passed and now he needs answers - from his uncle, who should have known. From his neighbours, who think his father a decent man who ‘just snapped’. From the memories that haunt the wild landscape of the Hebrides.

My thoughts..

After an absence of twenty years, Tommy Baird returns to the remote Hebridean island of Litta the place, where until he was eight years old, he called home. However, after a horrific family tragedy, of which Tommy was the sole survivor, his life suddenly became one of bewilderment, heartbreak and unresolved grief.

Returning to the island, Tommy must face the demons of his past but getting away from the events of twenty years ago is harder than he could ever have imagined. Memories lie deep and there are still so many unresolved issues that Tommy is drowning in a sea of sorrow but there is no-one out there who can throw him a life belt. The islanders try their best to welcome Tommy home but none of them really know just how damaged Tommy is by the events of his childhood.

Our Fathers is a beautifully written character driven novel in which grief and loss sit against a backdrop of deeply hidden violence. The added complication of living in a community where everyone knows each other makes the claustrophobic nature of the island all the more convincing. The isolation of Litta, with its many moods and nuances, is as much a character in the story as are those who make the island their home, but with the spirit of Litta in his heart Tommy needs to shed the burden of grief he carries in order to have any chance of  happiness.

Our Fathers is an emotional and deeply affecting story about one man's search for resolution in place where the truth has been so deeply buried, within the landscape of personal survival, that it may never be found. A absolute hidden gem of a story, and one that will stay with me for a long time.

About the Author

Rebecca Wait grew up in the Oxfordshire countryside and studied English at Oxford University, graduating with a first in 2010. She has previously written two novels,The Followers and The View on the Way Down. She lives in London. 

Twitter @ #OurFathers



Thursday, 15 July 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Girl Knows Nothing by K T Cavan


Asp Indie Books
June 2021

My thanks to Vine House Distribution for my copy of this book

Clemency flies to Argentina to help handsome and ruthless secret agent Hal Linklater track down three fugitive Nazis. But as their quest takes them from the tango bars of Buenos Aires to the wind-swept plains of Patagonia, Hal keeps Clemency in ignorance of the real reason why these three men matter so much. He says the less she knows, the safer she is. But as the hunters become the hunted, would knowing the truth help save her life? Or plunge her into greater danger?

Sequel to ‘What About the Girl?’ which introduced Clemency White, a cypher clerk in the Foreign Office who ends up as one of MI6’s top agents. With 60s glamour, exotic locations, plenty of action and a strong female lead, they mix the excitement of the Connery Bond era with a feminine sensibility. The series is on-topic for 2021, with the same 1960s settings and themes of women’s place in society as The Marvellous Mrs Maisel and The Queen’s Gambit. 

The third title, Come Spy with Me, will be published later in the summer of 2021.

πŸ“– My thoughts..

My introduction to Clemency White came in the first book in the series when she is working as an innocent cypher clerk in the foreign office who, inadvertently, gets drawn into an espionage ring which is operating out of London. Realising her worth as someone who can easily merge into the background, Clemency is a valuable asset and in this second book in the series, she is sent out to Argentina to help Hal Linklater, one of the top British agents, who has been charged with the task of tracking down three fugitive Nazis who have, so far, escaped justice in the aftermath of the Second World War. 

The Girl Knows Nothing pretty much starts where the second book finished with Clemency not really having much of a chance to draw breath before she is whisked away, once more, into a dangerous world of murky politics and clandestine operations. Clemency is very much the odd one out in this male dominated world and is so easily dismissed as a mere female  but, of course, that is where her absolute strength lies. The author brings this vividly to life as she describes Clemency's tenacious personality and her ability to outwit the men as they play their own very dangerous games. 

The Argentinian world of secrets, and lies, adds an interesting dimension to the story, making the place, very much an integral part of this complicated plot. The story races along and Clemency White, once again, proves just what an asset she is to the world of espionage, she's quick, clever and her ability to keep one step ahead of the game is just what is needed to succeed.

The Girl Knows Nothing is an exciting continuation of this series which brings to life the dangerous world of espionage and the deadly secrets of international politics.

There’s something of a mystery to the author whose own work in intelligence and security means they have to remain in the shadows of a pseudonym.

Twitter #KTCavan


Wednesday, 14 July 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Cold Case in Nuala by Harriet Steel


Independently Published
May 2021
Inspector de Silva #10

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

It’s January 1940 and the day of Nuala’s famous motor rally. Excitement is at full throttle, but matters take a dark turn when that same evening, human remains are found buried in a lonely corner of a local tea plantation.

Inspector de Silva has a cold case to solve. Add a playboy racing driver, a missing Bugatti and a family scandal hushed up years ago into the mix and he has plenty to think about. You can be sure that whatever happened in the past, now de Silva’s in the driving seat, you’re in for a gripping ride.

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

It's always such a treat to curl up in my favourite chair and escape to the languid days of 1940s Ceylon in company with Inspector de Silva as he goes about cracking another complex crime case in the beautiful hill town of Nuala. When a set of human bones are found well hidden on a remote tea plantation the intrepid Inspector has a difficult job in trying to discover just who was buried in this remote spot. The Inspector is determined to leave no clue unanswered but in this perplexing cold case mystery he finds that there are an abundance of twists and turns, and quite possibly, more questions than there are answers.

In Cold Case in Nuala there are some interesting, and rather complex characters, who the Inspector investigates with his own brand of steely determination and even though the Inspector always seems to find his culprit, the investigation which takes de Silva to the conclusion of the case is always filled with a strong sense of righteous satisfaction of a case well solved. In setting the books during the last, heady years of colonialism there is so much to enjoy in this series of cosy crime mysteries and each one brings something different to the table whilst keeping the continuity and vibrancy of what has gone before in past stories. I thoroughly enjoy being whisked away to Nuala as not only is there a fascinating sense of stepping back in time but the author does a great job of bringing to life both the unique character of the area, along with the idiosyncrasies of its inhabitants.

Cold Case in Nuala is now the tenth book in the series and whilst it is perfectly possible to read as a standalone mystery, for the sheer pleasure of getting to know Inspector de Silva, his lovely wife, Jane, and all the other long standing characters, I suggest that you start at the very beginning and escape to the colourful world of Nuala which is so vividly recreated in these lovely stories.

Harriet Steel wrote four historical novels before turning to crime with the Inspector de Silva mysteries, inspired by time spent in Sri Lanka (the former Ceylon)). Her work has also appeared in national newspapers and magazines. Visit her blog to sign up to her monthly newsletter for news of new releases and great offers, Blog 

She’s married with two daughters and lives in Surrey. When she’s not writing, she likes reading, long walks and visiting art galleries and museums.

Twitter @harrietsteel1