Wednesday 30 June 2021

๐Ÿ“– Half Year Round Up ~ Six in Six

It's that time of year when I take a look at the first six months of my reading year

๐Ÿ“– Six authors who were new to me:

  1. Julienne Brouwers - Double Deceit
  2. Linda Tyler - The Laird's Secret 
  3. Beth Morrey - Saving Missy
  4. Tracey Bloom - The Wife Who Got A Life
  5. Paula Greenlees - Journey to Paradise
  6. Kate Hewitt - The Edelweiss Sisters

๐Ÿ“– Six authors I have read before:

  1. Dorothy Koomson - All My Lies are True 
  2. Helen Fields - Shadow Man
  3. Patricia Scanlon - A Family Reunion 
  4. Carol Cooper - The Girls from Alexandria
  5. Sue Moorcroft - Under the Italian Sun
  6. The Lost Hours - Susan Lewis

๐Ÿ“– Six books from authors I know will never let me down:

  1. The Burning Girls - C J Tudor
  2. The Scarlet Dress - Louise Douglas
  3. Mr Right Across the Street - Kathryn Freeman
  4. The Sewing Room Girl - Susanna Bavin
  5. Dead Ground - M W Craven
  6. How to be Human - Louise Beech

๐Ÿ“– Six books that led me into a life of crime:

  1. Night Swim - Megan Goldin
  2. Exit - Belinda Bauer
  3. The Whole Truth - Cara Hunter
  4. Unsettled Ground - Claire Fuller
  5. Condemned - R C Bridgestock
  6. The Happy Family - Jackie Kabler

    ๐Ÿ“– Six books that took me by the hand and led me into the past:

    1. A Net for Small Fishes - Lucy Jago
    2. The Heart Stone - Judith Barrow
    3. The Drowned City - Karen Maitland
    4. The Prophet - Martine Bailey
    5. The Damask Rose - Carol McGrath
    6. Mrs England - Stacey Hall

    ๐Ÿ“– Six debut authors:

    1. Sarah Pearse - The Sanatorium
    2. Tina Baker - Call Me Mummy
    3. V L Valentine - The Plague Letters
    4. Anna Bailey - Tall Bones
    5. Jennifer Saint - Ariadne
    6. In the Mirror, a Peacock Danced - Justine Bothwick

    To these talented authors for sharing the gift of your imagination with me. 

    So far in 2021 your books have taken me on the most wonderful adventures 


    Tuesday 29 June 2021

    ๐Ÿ“– Book Review ~ Will This House Last Forever? by Xanthi Barker


    Tinder Press
    24 June 2021

    My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

    When Xanthi Barker's father died when she was in her mid twenties, she could make no sense of her grief for a man who had been absent for most of her life. Her father, poet Sebastian Barker, had left Xanthi, her mother and her brother to pursue writing and a new relationship, when Xanthi was a baby. Growing up she had always struggled to reconcile his extravagant affection - a rocking horse crafted from scavenged wood, the endless stream of poems and drawings and letters, conversations that spiralled from the structure of starlight to philosophy to Bruce Springsteen - with the fact that he could not be depended upon for more everyday things. Though theirs was a relationship defined by departures, he always returned, so why should this farewell be any different, or more final?

    Will This House Last Forever? is a heartfelt and wholly original memoir about the pain of having to come to terms with a parent's mortality, the way grief so utterly defies logic, and about learning to see the flaws in those that we love, and let them go.

    ๐Ÿ“– My thoughts..

    In this expressive memoir, Xanthi Barker explores her thoughts and feelings after the death of her father, Sebastian Barker, in 2014. That her poet father was such an important figure in her life is obvious and though she never doubted his love for her there's also a sense of disappointment as by her own admission he was something of an absent father. 

    From the beginning of the book, Xanthi is filled with a longing for father not to be dead and yet it is very much about the effect that his death has had on her, not only in coming to terms with the complexity of the grieving process, but also in the rawness and immediacy of her loss. 

    Will this House Last Forever? is a very personal account of the author's search for meaning, her yearning to understand more about the complex nature of her relationship with her father, and of her devastation when he was no longer present in her life. 

    I found Will This House Last Forever? to be a poignant, and very honest look at a complex father-daughter relationship especially when that relationship has been flawed by disappointments and indifference. However, for all its strong message that loss endures, by the end of the book, there is also a sense of love, and the life-affirming hope that Xanthi's future, without her father, and regardless of his faults and failings, is undeniably intact.

    About the Author

    Xanthi Barker was born in London where she lives, and works in education. Her stories have been published in magazines including Litro and Mslexia, have been performed at Liar’s League, and have been shortlisted for the Fish Prize. She won the 2017 The Short Story Prize and her piece ‘Paradoxical’ was highly commended in the 2018 Spread the Word Life Writing Prize. Her novelette One Thing was published by Open Pen.

    Twitter @xanthibarker #WillThisHouse


    Monday 28 June 2021

    ๐Ÿ“– Blog Tour ~ In the Mirror, a Peacock Danced by Justine Bothwick


    Thrilled to host today's stop on this blog tour

    Agora Books
    24 June 2021

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

    Agra, 1938: Eighteen-year-old Florence Hunt has grown up riding horses past the Taj Mahal and chasing peacocks through her backyard under the critical gaze of her father. Increasingly enamoured with his work on the booming railway, Florence yearns to know more, but finds herself brushed away, encouraged only to perform the more ladylike hobbies of singing and entertaining guests. So when a dazzling young engineer walks into her life, she finds herself not only gripped by secret lessons in physics but swept entirely off her feet.

    Portsmouth, 1953: Fifteen years later, Florence finds herself pregnant and alone in post-war England – a far cry from her sun-drenched existence in India. Struggling to cope with the bleakness of everyday life in a male-dominated world, Florence is desperate to find the woman she used to be. But when someone from her past reaches out, Florence might just have a chance to start over.

    Soaring from the shimmering heights of the big top to the depths of heartbreak, can Florence find the happiness, independence, and passion she once had in order to start living again?

    Set against the lush backdrop of early 20th-century India, In the Mirror, a Peacock Danced – the debut novel from Justine Bothwick – is the moving story of one woman’s journey back to herself.

    ๐Ÿ“– My Thoughts..

    From the intriguing title, and the sumptuousness of the cover, In the Mirror, a Peacock Danced draws you into the exotic world of colonial India in the heady years just before the country's independence.

    The story opens in 1938 and into the life that Florence Hunt enjoys in Agra with her widowed father. In a world of privilege and dazzling colour, Florence reaches her eighteenth birthday as a beautiful self-possessed young woman with a lively mind and an enquiring nature. The story then jumps forward to 1953 where we meet up with Florence in Portsmouth and my interest was immediately piqued as to how Florence came to be living in such dreary circumstances in post-war England. 

    I enjoyed piecing together Florence's life in India, especially her enthusiasm for all things engineering and in particular her interest in the railways which makes her something of an oddity amongst her female contemporaries however, she is filled with a questioning mind and it is this which moves the story forward. The author writes with a lovely, light descriptive touch bringing Florence's complex character to life with all the contrasts, both in India and England.

    In the Mirror, a Peacock Danced flows beautifully with such an authentic feel to time and place that I was equally at home chasing the peacocks in India as I was immersed in the post war gloom of Portsmouth. Florence is a worthy protagonist, full of contrasts which comes from being caught between two worlds and it was fascinating to watch how all the pieces  of her life finally came together.

    I am sure that on the strength of this debut novel we shall expect to see much more from this talented new author in the future.

    About the Author

    Justine Bothwick grew up in Kent and Hampshire, and studied in London. In 2005, she moved to Italy and now teaches English in an international secondary school in Rome. She is married to a Roman architect. Together they have a flat in the city with a small balcony on which she grows her ever expanding collection of plants and watches the local birdlife. Justine is a graduate of the Manchester Writing School’s Creative Writing MA programme and has short stories published in Fictive Dream, Virtual Zine, Confingo Magazine, and forthcoming in The Lonely Crowd, and with Nightjar Press. In the Mirror, a Peacock Danced is her debut novel.

    Twitter @Bothwick_Cro #APeacockDanced


    Sunday 27 June 2021

    ☼Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Leigh Russell

     Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic 

    Pull up a deck chair Summertime is here again

    ☼ I'm delighted to welcome author Leigh Russell to our Summer picnic ☼

    ☼Welcome, Leigh, what favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?

    Thank you so much for inviting me to join you here for a summer picnic. I’m sure it’s going to be a lovely afternoon. The sun is shining, the company is wonderful, and I’m bringing Pringles - I can’t resist them!

    ☼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.

    Traditional Pimms is perfect on a summer day. I’ve given up coffee because caffeine is supposed to be unhealthy, so I’ll just have to stick to alcohol today.

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

    In the garden by a river surrounded by flowering azaleas and rhododendrons, with trees for shade if we need it.

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

    A wicker hamper

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

    A quiet spot by a river

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

    Oscar Wilde might be fun, although he could be the kind of guest we’d regret inviting. Perhaps Kenneth Grahame would be a better choice, as we might see some of the characters from The Wind in the Willows on our picnic by the river.

    ☼Which summer read are you bringing with you today?

    Shakespeare’s Sonnets - it would be antisocial to lose myself in a novel but we can dip into the sonnets together and read one or two aloud.

    ☼What is your earliest summer memory?

    Picking blackberries in my grandmother’s garden

    ☼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?

    Here comes the sun by The Beatles

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

    Not really

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

    It makes no difference, although I find it can be distracting sitting in the garden in the summer.

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

    My most recent book is Rachel’s Story, which was published in April as my first dystopian novel, so I’m very excited about that. Deep Cover is out in August, the 16th title in my Geraldine Steel crime series. I’m thrilled that so many readers are following Geraldine’s career.

    About Rachel’s Story

    Rachel grows up in a post-apocalyptic world where food is scarce, the government rules and ordinary people only exist to serve. As a child, Rachel is initiated into The Programme where selected young girls are medicated to make them fertile. Fearing for her future, Rachel escapes. But freedom comes at a price, as she learns when she joins the outcasts struggling to survive beyond the city walls.

    More about Leigh Russell

    Leigh Russell has had twenty-three crime novels published, and her Geraldine Steel crime series has sold well over a million copies. Rachel’s Story is her first dystopian novel. She chairs the judging panel for the Crime Writers Association’s Debut Dagger Award, and is a Consultant Fellow for the Royal Literary Fund. Leigh lives in London, and has two daughters and a granddaughter.

    Leigh, where can we follow you on social media?

    Twitter handle: @leighrussell

    Facebook page: Leigh Russell

    Instagram handle: leighrussell2020

    Thank you for sharing your summer picnic with us today

    Follow us on Twitter 



    Saturday 26 June 2021

    ๐Ÿ“– Blog Tour ~ Suspects by Lesley Pearse


    Thrilled to host today's stop on this blog tour

    Michael Joseph
    24 June 2021

    My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book
    and to  ed public relations for the invitation to the blog tour

    As young couple Nina and Conrad move into their first house together in Willow Close, they see horrified neighbours gather by a police cordon in the street – one of the residents has been attacked and brutally killed in the woods. As the police carry out interviews with each resident, it becomes clear that every neighbour has a secret to hide and some will go to extreme lengths to prevent exposure. As the image of a ‘perfect place to raise a family’ starts to tarnish, Nina and Conrad’s life plans start to unravel. They thought they had found their dream home. But have they moved into a nightmare?

    ๐Ÿ“– My thoughts..

    Nina and Conrad move into what they think is their forever home on the day a body is discovered in the woods at the bottom of their garden and the other inhabitants of Willow Close are perplexed as to who, among them, could be responsible for this terrible crime. Over the course of the story we are introduced to all those fascinating characters who call Willow Close home and discover just what secrets they are all hiding. Suspects goes on to show just how little we know our neighbours and as the tangled web between them pulls ever tighter so we see the best and the worst of their very different personalities start to emerge.

    There are many secrets hiding in Willow Court and the author brings everything together in a tightly woven canvas, never sensationalising the original murder, nor hampering the story with too much police procedural information but rather bringing into sharp focus all the closeness of a small neighbourhood community completely overwhelmed by what is going on in their midst, and as their personalities start crumble so a story emerges of sadness, anger and rejection.

    As always the story is beautifully written by an author who knows instinctively how to give her readers everything they have come to expect, a strong storyline, fascinating characters, a plot which is filled with both humour and sadness, and a satisfactory ending, with no stone left unturned and no lingering loose ends to ponder over.

    I've been reading Lesley Pearse novels for well over twenty years and she never fails to disappoint, Suspects is up there with my favourites.

    SUSPECTS by Lesley Pearse is published 24th June 2021, published by Michael Joseph price £20.00 in hardback.

    © Charlotte Murphy

    Lesley Pearse was told as a child that she had too much imagination for her own good. She left home at 15 and headed to London where she worked her way through many jobs – from corsetry sales, to musician’s muse, to nanny; from gift shop owner to dressmaker – finally finding her true vocation when she became a published author age 49. The 1970s were a pivotal decade in Lesley’s life. She lived in London with her second husband John, a musician managed by Don Arden. A talented trumpeter, John had played with Dusty Springfield, Lulu and David Bowie, and the start of the decade saw the birth of their beloved daughter, Lucy and a record deal for John with his band, Sansom. The future looked bright but then the house they lived in was sold – ironically to become a homeless shelter – and the family found themselves homeless. John lost his record deal and his mental health began to suffer. Their luck seemed to change when they found a small general store in Borough Green, Kent with a cheap lease that Lesley, ever resourceful, transformed into a gift shop but on the night before opening, the snow came and no one visited the shop. Times were desperate and John became increasingly unwell, until Lesley had no choice but to have him sectioned. They eventually parted and Lesley found herself alone with Lucy. It was while hitchhiking to a job interview that she was to meet her third husband, Nigel, and find the love and security that would enable her to start writing. Lesley is now a global bestselling author, with over 10 million copies of her books sold worldwide. A natural storyteller, Lesley has lived an eventful life but is also inspired by others’ stories of courage and adversity, often giving voice to women lost in history and people damaged by their childhood experiences. She is passionate about her research and her stories have taken her far and wide: from Alaska to the Crimea. Lesley now lives in Torquay in Devon where she loves to spend time with her grandchildren.

    Twitter @LeselyPearse #Suspects



    Friday 25 June 2021

    ๐Ÿ“– Review ~ The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman



    Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves
    A female cop with her first big case
    A brutal murder
    Welcome to…
    The Thursday Murder Club

    In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

    When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late.

    ๐Ÿ“– My Thoughts...

    Ok, so I'm a bit late to the party with this one as it came out in a flurry of excitement in September last year and I've no excuse for my tardiness other than using the saying too many books, too little time. So despite having an ecopy copy of the book lingering on my kindle, when I spotted the audio version narrated by Lesley Manville, well, I couldn't delay any longer.

    Setting the story in a retirement village is such a great premise for a story, and to have four 'old folk' who have too much time on their hands, and who enjoy trying to outwit the local police detectives, well, it's a match made in heaven. I loved every minute of The Thursday Murder Club and am hard pushed to figure out amongst the four septuagenarians who my favourite character was, but I think, on reflection, Joyce is the one who I really looked forward to seeing on the page, her intuitive ponderings really brought the story to life, but equally, Elizabeth, Ron and Ibrahim brought such a sparkle to the story, they are, by a mile, some of the best fictional sleuths I've met in a long time. 

    The audio version is expertly narrated by Lesley Manville who brings each of the characters alive in such a lovely, meaningful way that I became so immersed in the story I didn't notice time passing. Also at the end of the narration is a wonderful interview/chat between Richard Osman and Marian Keyes, which is absolutely worth listening too for a glorious insight into Richard's inspiration for the book and the sheer joy of listening to Marion.

    The Thursday Murder Club is witty and funny, tender and compassionate, and the most joyous, murder mystery I have read in a long time. All I can say is read it, and then bring on book #2 in September 2021.

    About the Author

    Richard Osman is an English television presenter, producer, director, and novelist.

    Twitter @richardosman


    Thursday 24 June 2021

    ๐Ÿ“– Blog Tour ~ The Butterfly Garden by Sophie Anderson


    Thrilled to host a stop on this Books on Tour Blog Tour

    June 2021

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

    I blamed my son for the death of my daughter…

    When twenty-five-year-old Erin loses the man she loves, she flees London for Cornwall and takes a job at Hookes End, a huge house clinging precariously to the Cornish cliffs. The owner, frail reclusive novelist and butterfly enthusiast Maggie, has kept the curtains of her dusty house drawn for many years. But as she and Erin spend evenings together by the fireside, sharing stories of the past, Erin feels her shattered heart begin to heal. In return, Erin agrees to help Maggie find her long lost family before it is too late.

    Years ago, Maggie’s son Lucas ran away to the other side of the world after the death of her daughter ripped the family apart. Maggie is desperate to see Lucas again – there is something she needs him to know.

    Erin wants to help Maggie find peace so she vows to track down her lost son. But when at last she finds Lucas, in a far- away place of searing heat and pearly sands, it becomes clear that he is hiding something too.

    As Erin grows closer to Lucas and unravels the webs of deceit entangling mother and son, she learns about the terrible tragedy that changed their lives forever: the night when a little girl in a fairy nightdress went missing. But with Maggie’s time fast running out, is it too late for them to find the forgiveness they need to move on?

    ๐Ÿ“– My thoughts..

    After a relationship has gone wrong, Erin has returned to Cornwall to live with her parents but in need of money, Erin takes up employment with Maggie, a reclusive writer who lives in a remote house  on the edge of the cliffs. Maggie's health is fast deteriorating and she desperately needs Erin's help to finish a very poignant story about a family tragedy which has been hidden away for far too long. 

    What then follows is an emotional story which looks, not only at uncovering secrets in Maggie's life but also starts to reveal snippets of information about Erin and her sometimes stifling relationship with her parents. The Butterfly Garden has a theme of forgiveness running through the narrative as not only does Maggie's story dwell on the sins of the past but also Erin's own family have kept things hidden and it is these poignant reminders which act as a focus for what is eventually revealed. 

    The Butterfly Garden is a well written and poignant family drama which highlights the destructive nature of keeping secrets hidden for far too long and even though there are some quite emotional issues, the author handles these with compassion, and as the story concludes there is a definite sense of closure.

    About the Author

    Sophie Anderson enjoyed a career in TV production in London before working with her husband to set up an online software business where she wrote the marketing content. But neither scratched that creative itch to tell a story, so she enrolled on a writing course and wrote her first novel The Butterfly Garden. She lives in Sussex with her husband, four children, a cocker spaniel and two cats.

    Twitter @MSophieanderson #TheButterflyGarden

    @bookouture #BooksOnTour

    Wednesday 23 June 2021

    ๐Ÿ“– Book Review ~ The Mad Women's Ball by Victoria Mas (Translated by Frank Wynne)


    17 June 2021

    My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

    A literary historical novel detailing the horrors faced by institutionalized women in 19th century Paris—soon to be a major film with Amazon Studios.

    The Salpetriere Asylum: Paris, 1885. Dr. Charcot holds all of Paris in thrall with his displays of hypnotism on women who have been deemed mad and cast out from society. But the truth is much more complicated—these women are often simply inconvenient, unwanted wives, those who have lost something precious, wayward daughters, or girls born from adulterous relationships. For Parisian society, the highlight of the year is the Lenten ball—the Madwomen’s Ball—when the great and good come to gawk at the patients of the Salpetriere dressed up in their finery for one night only. For the women themselves, it is a rare moment of hope.

    Genevieve is a senior nurse. After the childhood death of her sister Blandine, she shunned religion and placed her faith in both the celebrated psychiatrist Dr. Charcot and science. But everything begins to change when she meets Eugenie—the 19-year-old daughter of a bourgeois family that has locked her away in the asylum. Because Eugenie has a secret: she sees spirits. Inspired by the scandalous, banned work that all of Paris is talking about, The Book of Spirits, Eugenie is determined to escape from the asylum—and the bonds of her gender—and seek out those who will believe in her. And for that she will need Genevieve's help.

    ๐Ÿ“– My thoughts...

    I love the kaleidoscope cover of this book and what strikes me about The Mad Woman's Ball, is that it's a true mix of thoughts and emotions all swirling together in an atmospheric French historical drama.

    Setting The Mad Woman's Ball during the latter part of the eighteenth century and, particularly at the Salpรชtriรจre Asylum in Paris introduces us to a different way of life and for those who both live, and work, at the lunatic asylum there are compelling stories to be heard.

    When Geneviรจve, the senior nurse at the Salpรชtriรจre, meets nineteen year old hospital inmate Eugรฉnie Clรฉry their paths cross in ways they could never have imagined and it is this association together with the connection with the celebrated psychiatrist and neurologist, Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot which forms the focus of the novel.

    Stories of women who were incarcerated in asylums during the fin de siecle highlights the dangerous way that women were all to often moved out of society, especially if their, sometimes, scandalous or unusual behaviour gave cause for concern in a world where to conform and be respectable was the only thing required of them. The latter part of the eighteenth century with its moral and ethical restrictions is vividly described, I enjoyed the gothic feel of the novel and the supernatural elements add an extra frisson of excitement.

    I see that it is to be made into a film by Amazon Studios and I think that the cinematic elements of the story will translate really well to the screen. It will be interesting to see how it works out for this talented debut author.

    About the Author

    A French native, Victoria Mas was raised in the south of France. After studying in California, she got her Master's degree in Literature from the Paris Sorbonne University. The Madwoman's Ball is her debut novel ( Published in France as Le Bal des folles)

    Twitter @DoubledayUk  #TheMadWomensBall

    Tuesday 22 June 2021

    Publication Day Push and Giveaway ~ Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove by Marie Laval


    Delighted to host a stop on this Publication Day Push today

    Choc Lit Publishing
    22 June 2021

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

    When Jenna Palmer agrees to the new position of mobile librarian on the tiny Arrandale peninsular of the Isle of Skye, she knows she’s signing up for difficult working conditions and mediocre wages. But Jenna needs to get away, and a little yellow mobile library called Buttercup could be her escape to happier dreams ...

    However, whilst Jenna can get to grips with foggy island roads, local mermaid legends and even big purple monsters, she never expected to have to contend with a boss as grumpy as Daniel McGregor, or a young book lover as enthusiastic as his niece, Katrina.

    Arrandale might represent Jenna’s safe port in a storm, but could she and Buttercup also become a beacon of hope to Daniel, Katrina and the entire island community?

    My Thoughts..

    After escaping from a difficult situation in Manchester, Jenna Palmer relocates to Scotland and the beautiful Isle of Skye. In the fictitious town of Arrandale, Jenna takes up residence in the remote, but beautiful, Mermaid Cottage and she can be seen scurrying around the island in the newly renovated mobile library, aptly named Buttercup in honour of its sunshine yellow colour.  That there are secrets in Jenna's past is obvious and it is her natural reticence, and warm personality, which endears her to the islanders, especially her boss, Daniel McGregor, who, it must be said, has his own particular share of angst.

    The story which runs throughout doesn't shy away from some tough topics but it's all done with compassionate detail and a wonderful sense of time and place. The characters who make up the main cast of the story are a lovely bunch, with, maybe, a couple of exceptions, but then every story needs a good villain and there are three characters who definitely made my blood boil. However making up for them is Daniel McGregor, a wonderful tender-hearted man who on the surface is a little bit grumpy but his natural good nature makes him a worthy hero. I absolutely loved Jenna, tootling around in Buttercup she soon becomes part of the community and watching her develop her self esteem and grow in confidence was an enjoyable part of the story.

    Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove is a lovely warm-hearted story which brings to life the very essence of a small community and shows just how people in remote areas rely on community services. The mobile library is so much more than just providing reading material, it's a natural hub for local activity, encouraging children to love books and reading, offering the lonely a place to meet friends, and a chance for everyone to pull together when the going gets tough.

    Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove is also a beautifully written romance story which has everything I wanted to take me away from the mundane world of social distancing. Thanks to this talented author I have be able to escape to the beautiful Isle of Skye and, let's be honest, what's not to love about a vulnerable but determined to succeed heroine, a handsome but damaged hero, a tantalising mystery involving mermaids and hidden treasure, a yellow mobile library called Buttercup all wrapped up in story about Happy Dreams at Mermaid Cove

    About the Author

    Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire for the past few years. She writes both contemporary and historical romance. Her novels include best selling contemporary romantic suspense novels LITTLE PINK TAXI and ESCAPE TO THE LITTLE CHATEAU, which was shortlisted for the 2021 RNA Jackie Collins Romantic Suspense Awards, as well as A PARIS FAIRY TALE and BLUEBELL'S CHRISTMAS MAGIC. Her latest novel, ANGEL OF THE LOST TREASURE, was released in February 2021. Marie also contributes to the best selling Miss Moonshine's Emporium anthologies together with eight author friends from Authors on the Edge.

    Twitter @marielaval1



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    Blog Tour ~ Midsummer Magic at Miss Moonshine's Emporium ~ Authors on the Edge


    Delighted to be one of the stops on this blog tour

    21 June 2021
    Third stand alone book in series

    My thanks to the authors and to Rachel's Random Resources for my copy of the book
    and the invitation to be a part of the blog tour

    Are you ready to meet Miss Moonshine? Life may never be the same again...

    It’s summer in Haven Bridge and Miss Moonshine is getting ready for a busy season. From the window of her Wonderful Emporium, at the heart of the pretty Yorkshire town, she watches and waits, weaving plans to bring happiness to all who step through her door. For Miss Moonshine is no ordinary shopkeeper. She may not have what you want, but she will always have what you need...

    Nine romantic novelists from Yorkshire and Lancashire, including bestselling and award winning authors, have joined together to create this anthology of uplifting stories guaranteed to warm your heart. This magical collection of contemporary romances will make you laugh, cry and wish for a Miss Moonshine in your own life.

    My thoughts..

    Meeting again with Miss Moonshine in this latest offering from the nine talented authors who make up Authors On the Edge is like settling back with tea and biscuits for a good old natter with treasured friends. 

    The fictitious Yorkshire town of Haven Bridge where Miss Moonshine's Emporium is to be found is once again the focus for nine lovely stories which takes you through a whole range of smiley faces emotions.  And as you would expect the nine authors make the stories their own and yet each keep Miss Moonshine very firmly in focus but never let her dominate the stories which are all about the characters, the place, and the circumstances in which they find themselves.

    There's a whole hint of summer loveliness in midsummer magic and as I found myself dipping through the stories on midsummer's day I thought how lucky I was to have discovered this set of short stories. Each one guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and a  distinct longing to hop on the bus and head for Miss Moonshine's Emporium to have a mooch around the bric-a-brac to discover a piece of treasure for yourself.

    Sometimes with an anthology of stories by different authors there may be one or two which you don't really like as much as the others, and, I guess, that's life, however, as I read Midsummer Magic at Miss Moonshine's Emporium I was enchanted by the stories which are all quite different but each one is presented with thoughtfulness, care and fine attention to detail. I won't list the individual stories, as that way you can discover the magic of this anthology for yourself, without me spoiling anything.

    Beautifully written, Midsummer Magic at Miss Moonshine's Emporium is a perfect pick me up at any time of year but it's even better when reading the anthology in the garden with the scents of midsummer all around you, and just maybe there'll be a delicate sprinkling of Miss Moonshine's special magic just for you.

    About the Authors

    The nine Miss Moonshine authors Mary Jayne Baker, Sophie Claire, Jacqui Cooper, Helena Fairfax, Kate Field, Melinda Hammond, Marie Laval, Helen Pollard and Angela Wren meetup regularly in the little mill town of Hebden Bridge, on the border between the counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire hence their group name, Authors on the Edge. This picturesque town, home to many writers, artists and musicians, was the inspiration for their magical character Miss Moonshine, and their uplifting series of anthologies featuring romance and happy endings.

    Twitter #AuthorsOnTheEdge


    Amazon UK

    Monday 21 June 2021

    ๐Ÿ’ฎ Author Interview ~ Jessica Redland


     I am delighted to welcome Jessica Redland to Jaffareadstoo


    ๐Ÿ’ฎJessica, welcome to Jaffareadstoo. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started as an author.

    My name’s Jessica Redland and I live in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, with my husband, our 14-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old sprocker spaniel called Ella who still thinks she’s a puppy. I’ve nearly always worked in HR, specialising in recruitment and training, but fulfilled my dream of becoming a full-time author last summer.

    I’ve always loved reading and English was my favourite subject at school but I’d never thought about writing until I was in my late twenties. My manager at work said my business reports read more like stories and joked that I should write a book. I loved that suggestion but had no ideas for a plot. It was obviously meant to be because something happened to me that felt like the perfect premise and, once I started thinking about that idea in terms of a book, lots more ideas came to mind.

    It took me a whopping ten years to write my first book! During that time, I had several major life-events like moving four times, opening and closing a shop, getting married, having a baby, and changing job several times so there were significant chunks of time when I wasn’t writing but I was always thinking about it. I also studied the craft as being good at writing and being good at writing a book are different skills.

    I initially secured a publishing deal but the publisher ceased trading after only 18 months which was a blow. I got my rights back and re-released my titles as an indie author but struggled to make an impact so, after a few years, decided to try for another publishing deal. I was fortunate enough to be taken on by Boldwood Books in 2019 and have released edited versions of my backlist through them alongside several new titles.

    ๐Ÿ’ฎFor readers who aren’t familiar with your writing, what can they expect from your novels?

    My books are currently set in a fictional seaside town in North Yorkshire called Whitsborough Bay or in Hedgehog Hollow – a hedgehog rescue centre in the Yorkshire Wolds countryside.

    There is always a romance in my stories but it isn’t always the main focus of the story as I love to explore friendship, family and community too. My stories are uplifting and will usually raise some smiles and even a few laughs, but can be emotional too so some readers may reach for the tissues. I love my characters and will always guarantee them a happy ending.


    ๐Ÿ’ฎDo you write the type of books you like to read and which authors have influenced you?

    Very much so. When I started to write, I was hugely inspired by Jill Mansell and Marian Keyes. I’d read most of their books and I saw myself as an author of romantic comedies.

    My writing developed over time and, across subsequent books, I found myself tackling more emotional subjects so, even though there may be some moments of humour, this isn’t something that’s consistent across the books so I wouldn’t call myself a romcom author anymore.

    I love to read both types of romantic book and have discovered some amazing new-to-me authors through Boldwood Books as I try to read books from as many of my fellow Boldwood authors as I can.


    ๐Ÿ’ฎWhere do your ideas for your stories come from, and as one book finishes do you already know where the next book will take you?

    My ideas come from all over the place. The inspiration for my debut novel – New Beginnings at Seaside Blooms – came from something that happened to me. I was at a crossroads in my career and my personal life and a friend gave me a gift voucher for a telephone clairvoyant. It’s not really my thing but I decided to give her a call and she told me I was going to move back home, open a shop, and I’d meet the man of my dreams called Steven. I didn’t find my Steven but I did find the plot for a book!

    Boldwood Books

    I gave my main character, Sarah, two best friends as I wanted one to support the clairvoyant’s predication and the other to rubbish it. They developed and it became apparent they had stories of their own so I had a trilogy on my hands. Then my original publisher asked me to write a short story linked to the series and I ended up writing a novella. I felt there was more story to tell so I wrote a short novel sequel to that and those two books combined to make the first book in the ‘Welcome to Whitsborough Bay’ series called Making Wishes at Bay View.

    Boldwood Books

    Seaside Blooms is on a cobbled street in Whitsborough Bay called Castle Street and I had ideas for all sorts of businesses on that street. The shop I ran in real-life (which I had been thinking about before the clairvoyant call) was a specialist teddy bear shop and I used that for partial inspiration for All You Need Is Love. I positioned that shop – Bear With Me – on Castle Street opposite Seaside Blooms.

    Boldwood Books

    I wanted to write a Christmas story and Castle Street seemed like a great setting for the season as it has old Victorian-style lamp posts and cobbles. Lovely. I wrote Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop and mentioned another shop in that story – Carly’s Cupcakes. Suddenly I knew who Carly was and she had a story to tell. And so did her friend Tara who ran The Chocolate Pot – the cafรฉ next door – so Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes and Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Cafรฉ were born.

    Boldwood Books

    The premise for The Secret to Happiness came from a song lyric. The line was, “Wish I could tell you goodbye” and the song was about someone in a bad relationship who couldn’t let go and wanted her boyfriend to let go of her first. I started thinking about what scenarios there may be where someone needed to let go of someone or something and was struggling to do so. I came up with about six and narrowed it down to three very different ones. I wanted the power of friendship to be the trigger to say the goodbyes but it would have been too much of a stretch for three friends to be going through something like that at the same time. I therefore needed three strangers who would be in a situation where friendships would be quickly forged. I’d attended a beach-based bootcamp for several years and intense friendships had formed speedily so I combined those two ideas.

    Boldwood Books

    The Hedgehog Hollow series was partly inspired by my auntie who runs a small scale hedgehog rescue operation and an assignment in my MA in Creative Writing where I needed to put a character in an uncomfortable setting. It was only going to be one book but it sprouted wings. Three have already been released and there are plans for two or three more plus a prequel!

    Boldwood Books

    ๐Ÿ’ฎTell us about your writing day - are you disciplined, strictly 9 til 5, or are you more of a have a cup of coffee and think about it sort of writer?

    Eek! No I’m not!

    I used to be really disciplined. When I had my day job, my only possible writing time was evenings and weekends so I would knuckle down. Now that I’m writing full-time, it’s easy to get distracted. I spend long hours at my desk but I sometimes don’t spend them constructively so it’s something I’m working on.

    I have a routine every morning where I see if I have any new reviews, check chart positions, and see what’s happening in the Top 100 on Kindle as it’s always interesting to see what’s moving at the top of the charts. And then I start work but get far too distracted by social media even though I’m not being particularly constructive with it. Far too often, I find I’m scrolling aimlessly!

    It’s not unusual for me to be still at my desk working at 10.30pm and on weekends and I’m very aware of my lack of work:life balance so I’m wanting to get a better routine going where I do a 9 til 6 day and have my evenings free unless I’m at a deadline. Will I manage that? Mmmm. It’s difficult when writing is my job but it’s also the thing I love and would choose to have as my hobby!


    ๐Ÿ’ฎCan you tell us if you have another novel planned?

    Lots of them!

    My final backlist book – Christmas Wishes at the Chocolate Shop ­– is out on 3rd August with a fresh edit and several new chapters. It’s the final book in my original 12-book contract with Boldwood Books.

    I’ve just finished my second round of edits on book 13 – Snowflakes Over The Starfish Cafรฉ. This is the start of a new 12-book deal and is set in a cafรฉ just outside Whitsborough Bay. It’s out on 31st August and is the start of a trilogy although the story being told in the first book is completely wrapped up in that book.

    There’s more to come from my Hedgehog Hollow series with book 4, A Wedding at Hedgehog Hollow – out on 6th January 2022 and the fifth book probably out in the summer.

     I have a table with twenty or so other ideas in and around both settings. I’ve got a few works in progress that I’ve parked for various reasons but look forward to returning to. Each time I write something new, I seem to have several ideas stemming from it so there’s definitely lots more to come.


    And finally for fun! ๐Ÿ˜Š

    ๐Ÿ˜Š Tell us four essential things every writer needs!

    The serious answer: Imagination, resilience, patience, support

    The fun answer: a comfy chair for the copious hours sitting at your desk, plenty of chocolate/cake/coffee (depending on what your fix is), a teddy bear to hug when you get negative reviews, and oodles of pretty stationery!


    ๐Ÿ˜Š If your life was a book, what would be its title?

    Ha ha! What a brilliant question! I’ve had such an amazing year with my writing that I’d probably have to pick something along these lines:

    The Girl Who Dared to Dream

    When Wishes Come True

    Maybe a bit cheesy but this past year has absolutely seen my dreams come true and I have to pinch myself every day to believe it!

    ๐Ÿ˜Š If you could be a character in one of your books who would you be, and why?

    Such a tricky question! I tend to give them all amazing book boyfriends with whom I fall madly in love so they’re all very lucky, even if they’ve had a bit of a rough ride before that point!

    If pushed, I’d probably be torn between Jemma running the teddy bear shop Bear With Me in All You Need Is Love and Samantha running Hedgehog Hollow. But I think Samantha might have the edge because of the setting and the work she does rescuing the hedgehogs. Every time I write a scene set on Thomas’s bench overlooking the wildflower meadow, I have such a sense of peace and tranquillity and long to be there in real life.

    Jessica, where can we follow you on social media?

                    Twitter @JessicaRedland






    More about Jessica

    Jessica lives in Scarborough on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast in the UK. Her home inspired the creation of the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay where she sets many of her books although the Hedgehog Hollow series takes readers to a gorgeous new countryside setting in the Yorkshire Wolds.

    She lives with her husband, their teenage daughter and sprocker spaniel, Ella. She’s a stationery addict with a notepad obsession who loves chocolate (although it doesn't love her), hedgehogs, 80s music, collectible teddy bears and lighthouses.

     Her career was predominantly in HR as a trainer and recruiter. She had a brief detour into retail to set up and manage her own specialist teddy bear shop and started writing her debut novel on quiet days in the shop.

     In June 2020, she became a full-time author. She’s so very grateful to anyone who has bought or borrowed her books in whatever format, helping her fulfil a long-held dream of writing full-time. She still can't believe she gets to spend every day chatting to her fictional friends and making stuff up.

    Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to join you as a guest on your fabulous blog, Jo. Really appreciate all the lovely support.

    Jessica x

    Thank YOU for being such a lovely guest.