Wednesday 31 March 2021

📖 Book Review ~ Tall Bones by Anna Bailey

Random House
1 April 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.

Abi's disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi's family, there are questions to be asked - of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father - both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark - the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones...

📖 My thoughts..

When seventeen year old Abigail Blake goes missing after a party in the woods the small US town of Whistling Creek becomes the focus of scrutiny as old grudges and long time resentments come to the forefront. This is a town with secrets not just between the townspeople and Abi’s friends but also between the dysfunctional members of Abi’s own family who all seem to carry simmering burdens of resentment and none more so than Abi's father, Samuel Blake, a Vietnam veteran, who is fighting his own demons.

Multiple points of view and a flipping forward and back in time make this a story you have to concentrate on. However, the author does a great job of keeping just the right amount of tension, which on occasion feels a little slow, but I think this is all a deliberate ploy to keep alive the placidity of life in Whistling Creek, and as the story continues it becomes impossible not to suspect absolutely everyone of being involved in Abi’s mysterious disappearance. Tall Bones moves with languid ease, there’s nothing rushed about Whistling Creek, no real sense of urgency in tracking down what happened to Abi but there is lots of gossip and sly innuendo which is in itself a dangerous motive for those who could be guilty of a crime. 

This psychological drama takes a close look at the oppressive nature of small town America where hidden in dark corners festering resentment and the dark prejudices of evil are allowed to flourish. Tall Bones is this author’s debut novel and it certainly gets her writing career off to an exciting start.

Twitter @annafbailey #Tall Bones



Tuesday 30 March 2021

📖 Blog Tour ~ Let in the Light by Gerard Nugent

Delighted to host a stop on this blog tour

Stormlight Press
January 2021

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

A feelgood story about love and music and the power of a single song.

Songwriter, Richie Carlisle never wanted to be famous.

After stumbling into the limelight five years ago, he soon found himself crashing back out of it. Now, he spends his days working in a small music shop in Edinburgh, attempting to live a quiet life as a part-time dad.

But his 15 minutes of fame have taken its toll. His inspiration for songwriting, music and life in general seems to have all but disappeared.

When Richie is given a flyer advertising the first meeting of the Hope Street Songwriters’ Circle, it’s a chance to step back into the world. But after years of hiding away, letting in the light won’t be easy,

📖 My Thoughts..

Richie Carlisle spends his days working in a small music shop in Edinburgh, quietly going about his life, which far from perfect, gives him something of a sense of stability. However, just occasionally, echoes of Richie's more successful past invades his privacy, and we go back to a time when music was in his heart and soul. Richie's association with music is special but for five years he has cut this out of his life, that is, until he is encouraged to once again take a chance and let in the light. 

Let in the Light is a clever look at the vagaries of the music industry when the lure of fame can so easily prove to be a temptation which is hard to resist, however, as we discover throughout the story giving up a successful career brings it's own set of problems. By cleverly dividing the story into periods of now and then I had a real sense of  Edinburgh in the present time, along with a good impression of what was happening to Richie some five years before. 

There's an ease to the writing which makes the story flow really well and I liked the way the story developed gradually so that we got a sense of, not just Richie's character, but also of those who helped to shape his life. I really enjoyed getting to know Richie, he's a likeable character, given to moments of introspection but, by and large, scraping by, trying to be a good son, and part-time father, and yet all the while we get the impression that there is something missing in his life.

Let in the Light is not just about the music, although it does feature quite strongly, it's also about being a good person, trying your best to deal with whatever life throws at you, and of the friends and family who are with you through good times, and bad. I've really enjoyed this debut novel and hope to see more of this author's stories in the future.

About the Author

Gerard Nugent is a writer living in Yorkshire. 'Let in the Light' is his debut novel, although he has been writing songs for years. Gerard was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland. He moved to England in his 20s and worked in various northern towns before settling in beautiful Yorkshire with his family and two guinea pigs. In 2019, he attended a writing class to help him generate ideas for further songwriting, but, instead, started writing a novel.

From the 29th March and throughout April the book is on special promotion and is available for 99p from Amazon UK

Profits from the book will be going to Health in Mind - an Edinburgh based charity that creates awareness of mental health and well being within communities. Find out more about the charity by clicking here

The YouTube trailer for the eBook can be viewed by clicking here

Monday 29 March 2021

📖 Featured Book of the Month and Blog Tour ~ Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller

Fig Tree
25 March 2021

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of the book
and the invitation to take part on the blog tour

What if the life you have always known is taken from you in an instant? What would you do to get it back?

Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Their rented cottage is simultaneously their armour against the world and their sanctuary. Inside its walls they make music, in its garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance.

But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. At risk of losing everything, Jeanie and her brother must fight to survive in an increasingly dangerous world as their mother's secrets unfold, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake.

This is a thrilling novel of resilience and hope, of love and survival, that explores with dazzling emotional power how the truths closest to us are often hardest to see.

📖 My thoughts...

Middle-aged twins, Jeannie and Julius Seeder, live an isolated life, scraping out a meagre existence in their rural location, which is made so much worse by the sudden death of their mother. With their main support gone, Jeannie and Julius are left floundering in world which doesn't understand their naivety, or sense their total lack of awareness. Jeannie is the weaker of the twins and yet it is her powerful narrative which relates what happens to them when their world tumbles down around them, and when old secrets, so carefully hidden, threaten to destroy everything they rely on to survive.

Unsettled Ground is a disturbing read and whilst beautifully focused on what is happening in the present, there are hints back to a time when the twins were much younger and the story of a family tragedy which had far reaching effects on all their lives. The strength of the story lies with this author's uncanny ability to make the ordinary into something extraordinary and in creating Jeannie and Julius Seeder she gives us characters who are so engulfing that even when you move away from their story, you still wonder what is going to happen next for them. 

There's a deep underlying sadness to the story which is difficult to move away from, and the confining and secluded nature of Jeannie's life, in particular, makes for emotional reading and yet there is also hope in the twins' shared love of music, Jeannie's tender loving care of her garden, and in Julius's strength of character when courage is needed. My heart broke into so many pieces, that there were times when I had to stop reading in order to make a restorative cup of tea so I could gather my thoughts. 

Unsettled Ground is a strong and forceful family drama which made me feel quite angry at the injustice of what happened to Jeannie and Julius in the aftermath of their mother's death, and yet there were also times when the story was so tenderly compassionate, and so beautifully observed, that it, quite simply, took my breath away.

The book has been long listed for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2021. It would be a worthy winner and that's why I am delighted to make Unsettled Ground my featured book for April.

About the Author

Claire Fuller was born in Oxfordshire, England. She gained a degree in sculpture fromWinchester  School of art, but went on to have a long career in marketing and didn't start writing until she was forty. She has written three previous novels, Our Endless Numbered Days which won the Desmond Elliot Prize, Swimming Lessons, which was shortlisted for the RSI Encore award, and Bitter Orange. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Winchester and lives in Hampshire with her husband.

Twitter @ClaireFuller2 #UnsettledGround




Sunday 28 March 2021

🍴Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Ann Victoria Roberts


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 am so pleased to welcome Anne Victoria Roberts to Sunday Brunch🍴

🍴Good Morning, Ann. What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

A – It’s so long since I had a traditional Sunday brunch, my mouth’s watering at the thought. For me, it has to be bacon and eggs, with mushrooms and tomatoes. A pot of English breakfast tea to go with it, and toast and marmalade to finish. All served at the kitchen table.

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

A – I’d like to ask Daphne du Maurier – she wrote more than a dozen books, and yet each one is different from the last. I’ve always admired her ability to explore different themes and genres and yet come up with a winner every time. Perhaps she’ll tell us how she did it?

🍴Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

A – I have lots of old favourites, but in honour of my guest, it has to be ‘The House on the Strand’ – surely the first time-slip novel.

🍴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!

A – I’d be lost without a book. Reading is my favourite form of relaxation – usually for half an hour after lunch, and about an hour at bedtime, to take my mind off the business of the day. Often it’s a detective mystery – one from a wealth of authors I enjoy – but I enjoy trying out something different, particularly those I’ve seen recommended by book bloggers. As for the one I want to read, it’s sitting on my shelf, looking at me: ‘The City of Tears,’ by Kate Mosse. A big book that I know will absorb me, so I need some free time to devote to it.


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

A – Thanks to my grandmother, I inherited a lot of old books, most dating from the late 19thC, but the oldest bears the publication date, MDCCCXLVIII (1848). It’s an illustrated copy of John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, containing a facsimile of his Will, dated 1685. The illustrations are fascinating, but before you ask, no, I haven’t read it!

🍴Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

A – Mainly in the lives of real people. My first two novels were inspired by the personal diary of a WW1 soldier – my grandfather’s brother – found amongst the books in Grandma’s attic. In researching his life years later, I discovered family secrets, which – led to the writing of ‘Louisa Elliott’ and ‘Liam’s Story’. As I’ve described in my recent memoir, reading those old books gave me a feel for the period, and helped to make the background convincing. Later, I went on to write a novel featuring Bram Stoker, the author of ‘Dracula’, and later still, inspired by an obscure piece of Titanic history, I wrote ‘The Master’s Tale,’ based on the life of Captain EJ Smith.

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

A – The dark days of winter certainly make for fewer distractions, but I write every day, even though it’s not always book-related. Before I was first published – back in 1989 – I wrote at the kitchen table, largely to keep an eye on the children, but since then I’ve been able to create my own space. I call it my office, but it’s more like a very messy study, with books and papers everywhere.

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

A – Luckily, as a grandmother, I no longer have distracting family issues to deal with, as I did when writing to a deadline for a traditional publisher. But I know from experience that everyday life can be disruptive, even without the more serious issues. After a lengthy break, my answer has always been to read through the previous few chapters to get back into the flow. For most of us, writing is a means of creating and inhabiting a different world – one where we can be in control – and that in itself can be very healing.

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

A - A pen, a notebook, time alone, and an active imagination

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

A – It’s another memoir, based on the adventures we had with our children when they were young. My other half is a sea-captain, and for about ten years from the mid-1970s, we often spent summer holidays with our children aboard merchant ships, travelling to different parts of the world. I dare say not many families have been stranded ashore through bad weather, only to find themselves in the local dock area, and spending the night in a Japanese brothel…!

One Thursday in July, 1989, beneath the headline, Obsession That Became A Bestseller, the Daily Mail featured a photo of a young woman looking like a lottery winner. The Sun’s piece was cheekier: Mum Makes A Million, appeared beside the boobs on Page Three.

Ann Victoria Roberts had not posed naked or won a fortune. She had written a novel that prompted a bidding war for publishing rights across the world. In the eyes of the press, the fact that Ann was not a career woman, but simply a wife and mother, was newsworthy.

In this memoir, the author reflects on the joys, the travels and the heartaches of her life as a sea-captain’s wife – and the decade of coincidences and lucky strikes that led to the writing of two big historical novels, Louisa Elliott and Liam’s Story. Amidst the fanfares and famous names, and the journey that took her from York to Australia and back, Ann reveals the work behind the success, and the truth behind her characters.

As readers, we browse in bookshops, spot a favourite author or intriguing title, and take it home. Rarely do we consider the path that book must have taken from the author’s pen to a bookshop shelf. And yet the story behind it is often stranger than the fiction it contains...

**A fresh edition of 'Housewife Writes Bestseller' will soon be available from Amazon UK

Ann, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter: @AnnVictoriaRob1

Instagram: annvroberts

Ann Victoria Roberts enjoys painting pictures with words and regards historical fiction as a pleasurable way to discover the past. A keen reader, researcher and traveller, her novels are set mainly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in York, she now lives in Southampton with her Master Mariner husband.

Ann, thank you for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo

Follow on Twitter @jaffareadstoo #SundayBrunchwithJaffareadstoo

Saturday 27 March 2021

📖Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin


On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...1831


My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Down the murky alleyways of London, acts of unspeakable wickedness are taking place and the city's vulnerable poor are disappearing from the streets. Out of these shadows comes Hester White, a bright young woman who is desperate to escape the slums by any means possible.

When Hester is thrust into the world of the aristocratic Brock family, she leaps at the chance to improve her station in life under the tutelage of the fiercely intelligent and mysterious Rebekah Brock.

But whispers from her past slowly begin to poison her new life and both she and Rebekah are lured into the most sinister of investigations, dragging them into the blackest heart of a city where something more depraved than either of them could ever imagine is lurking...

📖 My thoughts..

In an effort to clear a backlog of books waiting to be reviewed in my NetGalley account here is one that has sat patiently waiting to be read since it was published in 2018 😊

The Wicked Cometh is set during a murky time in William IV's reign when the mean and moody streets of London aren't paved with gold. Life for eighteen year old Hester White is nothing like the one she was born into and after a tragic set of circumstances she is living in abject poverty in a London slum. It is during this time that Hester is involved in an accident which will change the course of her life.

Hester's association with, Calder Brock, a young physician, and her subsequent meeting with his sister, the enigmatic Rebekah Brock, at Waterford Hall, forms the early part of the story but it is in Hester and Rebekah's burgeoning relationship where the real crux of the story lies. Add into the mix a deeply worrying mystery surrounding the disappearance of people from the streets of London and you have all the ingredients needed for a tense and atmospheric story.

The Wicked Cometh is evocative story of a dark and dangerous time, quite slow in places, but written with a fine eye for historical detail, and a sharp appreciation of the shock tactics of a Gothic thriller.

About the Author

Having left school at 16, Laura Carlin turned to writing after 28 years of working for a local bank. She lives in Derbyshire with her civil partner. The Wicked Cometh was her debut novel in 2018. 

Friday 26 March 2021

📖 Blog Tour ~ You Let Me Go by Eliza Graham #Giveaway


Delighted to host one of today's Blog Tour stops

Lake Union
25 March 2021

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

After her beloved grandmother Rozenn’s death, Morane is heartbroken to learn that her sister is the sole inheritor of the family home in Cornwall—while she herself has been written out of the will.With both her business and her relationship with her sister on the rocks, Morane becomes consumed by one question: what made Rozenn turn her back on her?When she finds an old letter linking her grandmother to Brittany under German occupation, Morane escapes on the trail of her family’s past.

In the coastal village where Rozenn lived in 1941, she uncovers a web of shameful secrets that haunted Rozenn to the end of her days. Was it to protect hose she loved that a desperate Rozenn made a heartbreaking decision and changed the course of all their lives forever? Morane goes in search of the truth but the truth can be painful. Can she make her peace with the past and repair her relationship with her sister?

📖 My thoughts...

After her grandmother’s death, Morane Caradec embarks on a journey of discovery to try to understand the secrets which have overshadowed her grandmother’s life. Secrets, it must be said, which, until her grandmother’s death, Morane and her family didn’t know existed. From Cornwall, to Brittany, a wartime story of secrets, and family tragedy, starts to emerge, and as Morane delves deeper into the past, so she must come to terms with her own personal troubles.

Told in two distinct time frames, and in two distinct voices, we get to know Morane’s grandmother, Rozenn Caradec, when in 1941 she was a young woman exiled from her life in Paris. From necessity Rozenn’s family had to relocate to a small coastal village in Brittany, a place filled with a sense of mistrust, and which was just as uncertain as life as Paris. In the present time, Morane is facing her own set of difficult circumstances but in trying to make sense of her grandmother’s life, so new opportunities start to open up for her, and give Morane the chance to put the troubles of her own past into perspective.

The author writes well and allows the tension to build gradually so that when the final pieces of the story come together I genuinely cared about what happened to everyone. I felt an immediate attachment to Morane as she started on her emotional journey into the past, however, it is Rozenn’s story where the true heart and soul of the wartime tragedy lies.

You Let Me Go is an emotional, dual time story, which opens up the secrets of the past with a believable authenticity, and strong sense of history.

About the Author

Eliza Graham's novels have been long-listed for the UK's Richard & Judy Summer Book Club in the UK, and short-listed for World Book Day's 'Hidden Gem' competition. She has also been nominated for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.

Her books have been bestsellers both in Europe and the US.

She is fascinated by the world of the 1930s and 1940s: the Second World War and its immediate aftermath and the trickle-down effect on future generations. Consequently she's made trips to visit bunkers in Brittany, decoy harbours in Cornwall, wartime radio studios in Bedfordshire and cemeteries in Szczecin, Poland. And those are the less obscure research trips.

It was probably inevitable that Eliza would pursue a life of writing. She spent biology lessons reading Jean Plaidy novels behind the textbooks, sitting at the back of the classroom. In English and history lessons she sat right at the front, hanging on to every word. At home she read books while getting dressed and cleaning her teeth. During school holidays she visited the public library multiple times a day.

Eliza lives in an ancient village in the Oxfordshire countryside with her family. Not far from her house there is a large perforated sarsen stone that can apparently summon King Alfred if you blow into it correctly. Eliza has never managed to summon him. Her interests still mainly revolve around reading, but she also enjoys walking in the downland country around her home and travelling around the world to research her novels.

    Giveaway to win 3 x paperback copies of You Let Me Go by Eliza Graham 

(UK and USA only)

Terms and Conditions - UK and USA entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.

Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties,with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

Twitter @eliza_graham

Twitter @raresources

Thursday 25 March 2021

📖 Review ~ Her Almost Perfect Husband by Mary Rensten


January 2021

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

Emma Raven thought she knew everything there was to know about Andrew, her clever, ambitious, good-looking husband. They had been happily married for twenty-six years; they had even been at school together: Bernie Silver ‒ Andrew's friend from university in the 1980s and partner in their Islington business, That Music Place ‒ thought he knew him, too.

How wrong they both were. When Andrew is rushed to hospital, and Bernie needs to look at a little red notebook kept locked in his partner’s desk at home in the Hertfordshire village of Pengate ... a whole new side of Andrew’s character comes to light.

Can Emma stay true to her husband, knowing what she does? As her seemingly well-ordered life begins to unravel, in Waltham Cross small-time crook Garry Wade, despite having just come into legitimate money for the first time in his life, discovers that he has good reason to hate Andrew Raven. Should he seek revenge and risk going back to prison?

Her Almost Perfect Husband is a poignant story of love and deception, and the importance of human relationships set against material success.

📖 My Thoughts..

When Emma Raven's husband, Andrew is taken seriously ill, both she and Bernie Silver, her husband's business partner, have to make some serious decisions about the way the business will move forward. Emma is not the most adventurous of souls and for much of her twenty-six year marriage she has been somewhat overshadowed by her rather dominant husband. However, as she and Bernie start to delve deeper into Andrew's business affairs, so a secret starts to emerge which threatens not just Bernie and Andrew's business, but also Emma's future relationship with her husband.

The story unfolds gradually, with several twists and turns, which reveal the full extent of Andrew's shenanigans. I especially liked the inclusion of a few supporting characters who help to move the story along, they're an interesting bunch, especially small time crook, Garry Wade, whose shock discovery forms a major part of the story. 

Her Almost Perfect Husband is a well written mystery about the minutiae of lives which, on the surface, appear successful, but on closer inspection leave much to be desired. The believable circumstances and the heightened emotional response from Emma when she realises her almost perfect husband is very much imperfect makes for an entertaining and enlightening story about the power of retribution, redemption and forgiveness.

About the Author

I spent most of my childhood in Jamaica, returning to England in 1946 to audition for a place at RADA. After drama school I trained as a teacher and wrote plays for my pupils. Then in the 1970s, having settled in Hertfordshire with my husband Ivor and brought up our three children, I combined teaching with free-lance journalism. I started writing drama again in the 1980s, and had plays - for grown-ups this time - on the London fringe, at the Edinburgh Festival and on radio. I still write plays, but they can involve deadlines, so I’m happier writing a novel; I can pace myself and allow time for my allotment - beans, beetroot, courgettes, etc. - and my great-grandson!

Twitter @MaryRensten

Facebook page: not directly, but via SWWJ Facebook.

Website via

Wednesday 24 March 2021

📖 Book Review ~ Double Identity by Alison Morton


Pulcheria Press
January 2021

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

Deeply in love, a chic Parisian lifestyle before her. Now she’s facing prison for murder.

It’s three days since Mel des Pittones threw in her job as an intelligence analyst with the French special forces to marry financial trader Gérard Rohlbert. But her dream turns to nightmare when she wakes to find him dead in bed beside her.

Her horror deepens when she’s accused of his murder. Met Police detective Jeff McCracken wants to pin Gérard’s death on her. Mel must track down the real killer, even if that means being forced to work with the obnoxious McCracken.

But as she unpicks her fiancé’s past, she discovers his shocking secret life. To get to the truth, she has to go undercover with the European Investigation and Regulation Service and finds almost everybody around her is hiding a second self.

Mel can trust nobody. Can she uncover the real killer before they stop her?

📖 My thoughts..

Mélisande des Pittones wakes in a London hotel with her dead fiancé in the bed beside her. As the last person to see Gérard Rohlbert alive Mel is under suspicion of causing his death and the British police will stop at nothing to lay the blame on her. However, when they they realise that there is far more to Rohlbert's death than at first appears, the police investigative team make the decision to utilise Mel's exemplary military background, as an ex-member of the French special forces, to move the investigation forward.

Anyone who has read Alison Morton's Roma Nova series will be aware of just how good she is at creating strong and decisive female characters and in Mélisande des Pittones she gives us a capable and determined protagonist who knows her own mind, and who won't be bullied by men of rank. That she is grieving for the loss of her fiancé is evident at the start of the story but as the many twists and turns in the plot start to get underway, so Mel begins to doubt if in fact she ever really knew the complexity of Gérard Rohlbert's true character. 

Setting the story primarily in London gives the book a good starting a point, especially pairing Mel with DS McCracken, a typical British police detective, but I think the strength of Double Identity lies in the way the plot encompasses both British and European surveillance and takes this clever, crime thriller from London and into Europe with seamless precision.

Double Identity is the first in a proposed new series of crime thrillers by this talented author and it certainly gets the series off to a cracking start. The pace is fast and furious, the characters both likeable and detestable in equal measure and the complex, and decidedly dangerous, plot kept me guessing from start to finish. I look forward to meeting up with Mélisande des Pittones, and hopefully, DS McCracken, in future crime thrillers.

About the Author

Alison Morton writes award-winning thrillers series featuring tough, but compassionate heroines. She blends her deep love of France with six years’ military service and a life of reading crime, historical, adventure and thriller fiction. On the way, she collected a BA in modern languages and an MA in history.

"Grips like a vice - a writer to watch out for" says crime thriller writer Adrian Magson about Roma Nova series starter INCEPTIO. All six full-length Roma Nova thrillers have won the BRAG Medallion, the prestigious award for indie fiction. SUCCESSIO, AURELIA and INSURRECTIO were selected as Historical Novel Society’s Indie Editor’s Choices. AURELIA was a finalist in the 2016 HNS Indie Award. The Bookseller selected SUCCESSIO as Editor’s Choice in its inaugural indie review.

Alison now lives in Poitou in France, where part of Double Identity is set and is writing a sequel as well as continuing her Roma Nova series.


Connect with Alison on her thriller site:

Twitter: @alison_morton 

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Tuesday 23 March 2021

📖 Book Review ~ A Mirror Murder by Helen Hollick


Taw River Press
January 2021
(Jan Christopher Mystery Series #1)

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

Eighteen-year-old library assistant Jan Christopher’s life is to change on a rainy Friday evening in July 1971, when her legal guardian and uncle, DCI Toby Christopher, gives her a lift home after work. Driving the car, is her uncle’s new Detective Constable, Laurie Walker – and it is love at first sight for the young couple.

But romance is soon to take a back seat when a baby boy is taken from his pram, a naked man is scaring young ladies in nearby Epping Forest, and an elderly lady is found, brutally murdered...

Are the events related? How will they affect the staff and public of the local library where Jan works – and will a blossoming romance survive a police investigation into murder?

📖 My thoughts..

Jan Christopher's rather mundane job as a library assistant in Chingford is the stepping point for what will become the adventure of a lifetime for her when she gets inadvertently drawn into a complex crime investigation which involves a missing baby, the death of an elderly lady who was last seen cutting money saving coupons out of a newspaper in the library, and a naked man who is hellbent on scaring women in the woods. Add into the mix a burgeoning romantic relationship for Jan with a lovely young detective constable, and the settled home life she has with her aunt and uncle, and you have all the ingredients needed for a rollicking good, cosy crime mystery.

A Mirror Murder is set in the 1970s, a time which is wonderfully recreated by this author who always brings whichever period she is writing about to perfect life. Scattered like gemstones throughout are quirky references to the seventies, a time I remember with fond nostalgia, so it was a real trip down memory lane to be reminded of Jackie magazine, Rawhide on the television and Scholl sandals, along with the less PC form of policing when perpetrators could get off with a strong admonishment not to do it again.

Helen Hollick always writes with such conviction, whether it be writing her successful historical fiction set in Saxon England, or her wonderful Sea Voyage collection of historical adventures, there is never a moment when A Mirror Murder doesn't entertain on every level. I raced through the story in the space of an afternoon, laughing out loud in places and always totally immersed in a cleverly constructed crime mystery which I loved reading from start to finish.

As this is the first book in a proposed series of cosy crime novels, I am beyond excited to see where this talented author will take Jan Christopher to next. I can't wait 😄

About the Author

Helen and her family moved from north-east London in January 2013 after finding an eighteenth-century North Devon farmhouse through BBC TV’s popular Escape To The Country show.

First accepted for publication by William Heinemann in 1993 – a week after her fortieth birthday – Helen then became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (titled A Hollow Crown in the UK) with the sequel, Harold the King (US: I Am The Chosen King) being novels that explore the events that led to the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy is a fifth-century version of the Arthurian legend, and she also writes a pirate-based nautical adventure/fantasy series, The Sea Witch Voyages.

Her non-fiction books are Pirates: Truth and Tales and Life of A Smuggler. She also runs Discovering Diamonds, a review blog for historical fiction. She is currently writing more Voyages for the Sea Witch series and the next in the Jan Christopher Mysteries series. She has other ideas for other tales – and would like the time to write them!


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Twitter: @HelenHollick

Discovering Diamonds Historical Fiction Review Blog :

Monday 22 March 2021

📖 Blog Tour ~ The Spirit of the Horse by Pam Billinge


Thrilled to host today's blog tour stop

Blackbird Books
16 March 2021

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

The Spirit of the Horse is about following dreams, finding your truth and how much stronger joy can be when we learn to interconnect with all that is.

Sequel to The Spell of the Horse. Pam continues her exploration into the true nature of horses, their power to heal and the spiritual dynamic between human and horse.

‘When Pam follows her dream to a farmhouse with five acres in northern France, she is able to live alongside her horses for the first time. Here, in the heart of nature, deeper insights are revealed into the healing connection between horse and human and the incredible power of presence to transform. Might it be that learning to honour and communicate with another species helps us to reframe the way we perceive each other, as well as how we might see ourselves?

📖 My thoughts...

We learn so much from the way we interact with animals, their connection and in particular with horses, is what makes this such a special memoir. Author, Pam Billinge once again shares her experiences as she works with people who sometimes don't even know they need help, and by using her herd of very intuitive horses, she allows a profound closeness to develop using the instinctive nature of the horse to pick out those who are troubled. 

The book is divided into short chapters which make dipping into and out of the memoir such a joy to read especially as we learn the stories, sometimes of an individual, and sometimes from a group of people, all of whom have chosen to work with Pam in a professional capacity. I enjoyed reading through the case studies and marveled at how the horses helped in so many different circumstances.

I read this author's first memoir, The Spell of the Horse, and was impressed, not just by the calm way that Pam interacts with people, but also of her special connection with her horses which comes across in the joyful way she brings each to life on the page.  The Spirit of the Horse, however, is not just a series of case studies but is also about how the author searches within her own life experiences to find personal fulfillment and shows that sometimes the journey itself can prove therapeutic. 

I've always loved the gentle spirit of horses, there's something about the intelligent understanding in their eyes, and the quiet dignity of their presence, which draws me towards them. That the author has an infinity with these gentle creatures is without question, and sharing her undeniable skill, love and understanding with a wider audience is what makes this memoir something special.

About the Author

Pam Billinge is a therapist, coach and author who specialises in embodied horse-led learning. This unique approach relies entirely on the emergent relational process between horse and human. At her bases in the UK and in France, Pam supports people of all nationalities, ages and walks of life with their personal and professional development. Through her workshops and her writing Pam wishes to share the healing wisdom of horses whilst advancing the cause of this sometimes much-misunderstood species. She hopes also through her work to reconnect us with the natural world from which we are too often separated.

Twitter @pam_billinge


The ebook is £3.99 and available on