Saturday 31 July 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Poor Relation by Susanna Bavin

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...1908

Allison & Busby

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

1908, Manchester. Mary Maitland is an attractive and intelligent young woman determined to strike out on her own and earn a living. Finding work at a women's employment agency, her creative talent is soon noticed and Mary begins writing articles for newspapers and magazines. But being of independent and progressive mind are troublesome traits when those you hold dear must constantly live up to the expectations of the well-to-do family to which they are linked. With increasing pressures from the powers that be, can Mary find the fine line between honouring her family and honouring herself?

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

The Poor Relation is a compelling historical saga about the vagaries of society in the early twentieth century when the working classes knew their place and those who wanted to move across the social divide were thought to be no better than they should be, and, equally, the upper-middle classes could no more welcome a working girl into their midst than they could fly to the moon. 

It is into this rather stultified social atmosphere that we meet Mary Maitland who even though her family are related to the well-to-do Kimber family they never mix socially except for one awkward visit a year when the Maitlands are invited for tea at the big house. Mary is a bright, intelligent and fiercely ambitious young woman and whilst the constraints of society are set against her it doesn't stop her from trying her best to better herself even though her working class family seem almost as snobbish as their well-to-do counterparts.

The Poor Relation describes, to perfection, the callous attitude which prevailed at this time when social position was paramount and even with the progression of women's suffrage there was still little room room for working class women to rise up against the sheer slog of early marriage, poverty and hardship. Mary's story is a fascinating one and the author describes her struggles with compassion and a firm belief that hard work and determination will prevail. The other supporting characters are a rum bunch, some you love from the start, whilst there are others who you love to hate but, collectively, they bring some welcome light and shade, and give a lively commentary about life in twentieth century Manchester. The story is quite tough going in places, as Mary's life seems to be one challenge after another, however, the author drives the story along with her customary fine eye for even the smallest detail and an uncanny ability to make her characters seem so alive that you can't help but hope that things work out well for some, and that others get their comeuppance.

The author writes really well about life, love and all the difficulties which seem to have been so prominent in the early twentieth century, when social prejudice was very much the norm and it is this historical accuracy which makes The Poor Relation such a special read. 

About the Author

Susanna Bavin has variously been an librarian, an infant school teacher, a carer and a cook. She  lives in Llandudno in North Wales but her writing is inspired by her Manchester roots.

Twitter @SusannaBavin 



Friday 30 July 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Soul Sisters by Lesley Lokko


Delighted to host one of today's stops on this blog tour

Pan Macmillan
22 July 2021

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

Since childhood, Jen and Kemi have lived like sisters in the McFadden family home in Edinburgh, brought together by a shared family history which stretches back generations. Kemi was educated in Britain alongside Jen and the girls could not be closer; nor could they be more different in the paths they take in life. But the ties that bind them are strong and complicated, and a dark family secret exists in their joint history. 

Solam Rhoyi is from South Africa’s black political elite. Handsome, charismatic, charming, and a successful young banker, he meets both Kemi and Jen on a trip to London and sweeps them off their feet. Partly influenced by her interest in Solam, and partly on a journey of self-discovery, Kemi, now 31, decides to return to the country of her birth for the first time. Jen, seeking an escape from her father’s overbearing presence, decides to go with her.

In Johannesburg, it becomes clear that Solam is looking for the perfect wife to facilitate his soaring political ambitions. But who will he choose? All the while, the real story behind the two families’ connection threatens to reveal itself – with devastating consequences.

πŸ“– My thoughts..

The eponymous Soul Sisters of the story are Catriona Jennifer (Jen) McFadden born in Scotland and Kemisha (Kemi) Mashabane born in Rhodesia. The lives of the two girls become inextricably linked when Kemi, aged nine, is sent to live with Jen, and her family, in Scotland in 1978. In the rather stuffy atmosphere of Jen's family home in Edinburgh, the two girls, both very different, grow up as sisters and they find love, friendship and solidarity in their shared experiences. Over the years, this special bond will see Jen and Kemi set out on a complicated journey of discovery which will take them from Scotland, to England, and latterly to post-apartheid South Africa as they each seek to find their place in the complicated political world around them. 

When Solam Rhoyi comes into the story the tension starts to grow. He is an ambitious young politician whose family, as part of South Africa’s black political elite, is very much caught up in the post-apartheid world. This part of the story gives an interesting view of what it was like to live in South Africa, particularly during the political, racial and social changes which were happening during the nineteen-nineties, and we get a whole new perspective about the tensions which so dominated world news during this momentous time in South Africa's history.

Soul Sisters is a well written, inter-generational novel which spans almost ninety years. The author does a great job of keep the momentum alive, bringing place, people, race and politics alive in a story which takes us on a truly epic journey, from an isolated missionary settlement in Matabeleland, Southern Rhodesia, in 1921, through to modern day, Cape Town in 2010. 

About the Author

Lesley Lokko is a Ghanaian-Scottish architect, academic and novelist, formerly Dean of Architecture at City College of New York, who has lived and worked on four continents. Lesley’s bestselling novels include Soul Sisters, Sundowners, Rich Girl, Poor Girl and A Private Affair. Her novels have been translated into sixteen languages and are captivating stories about powerful people, exploring themes of racial and cultural identity.

Twitter #SoulSisters #LesleyLokko



Thursday 29 July 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Goshawk Summer by James Aldred


Happy Publication Day

Elliot and Thompson
29 July 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

In early 2020, wildlife cameraman James Aldred was commissioned to film the lives of a family of Goshawks in the New Forest, his childhood home. He began to plan a treetop hide in a remote site that would allow him to film the Gos nest, the newly hatched chicks and the lives of these elusive and enchanting birds.

Then lockdown. And as the world retreated, something remarkable happened. The noise of our everyday stilled. No more cars, no more off-roaders, no more airplanes roaring in the skies, no one in the Goshawk woods – except James.

At this unique moment, James was granted a once in a lifetime opportunity to keep filming. And so, over Spring and into Summer, he began to record his experiences in a place empty of people but filled with birdsong and new life.

Amidst the fragility and the fear, there was silver moonlight, tumbling fox cubs, calling curlew and, of course, the soaring Goshawks – shining like fire through one of our darkest times.

A Goshawk summer unlike any other.

My Thoughts..

Over the past months of the pandemic I think some of us have been privileged to discover something of the beauty of the natural world and the calm mindfulness of walking in woodland, admiring the sounds of birds and the soft whisper of the wind in the trees. Whilst I didn't discover a Goshawk nest I did marvel at seeing things in nature I hadn't seen before, like watching a huge murmuration of starlings in the early dusk of a winter afternoon, and being in awe of the magnitude and magic of a natural spectacle of nature.

In Goshawk Summer, Emmy Award winning filmmaker, James Aldred writes very eloquently about his once in a lifetime privilege of observing, at close quarters, a female goshawk, and her mate, as they attempt to rear their offspring, in a place where even the hunters face their own immediate danger.

The country has been in lockdown for just two weeks in April 2020 when the author is given the unique opportunity to film a pair of mated goshawks in the New Forest. Magnificent hunting birds, who value their privacy so much that tracking their chosen nesting area makes for fascinating reading. However, it is in the description of these ancient hunters which brings the story to life with a lyricism which caught my attention from the very first page...

"The goshawk. Steel grey, the colour of chainmail. Sharp as a sword. A medieval bird for a medieval forest. A timeless scene..."

The book moves softly, and silently, through the months of summer from April, until the end of June 2020, and does so in diary entries which record just what James observed in the woods, his relationship with nature, and more importantly what he learned about, and from the goshawks, as they live out their challenging, but majestic lives. Sharply observed, every nuance of the woodland area is investigated and brought to life, and the narrative is so finely placed it feels cinematic in quality just as though you are cocooned high above the canopy of the New Forest watching as the ancient woodland unfolds deep below you to share its innermost secrets.

I found the whole of Goshawk Summer quite magical and if you enjoy the natural world, then I am sure you will too. A portion of royalties from Goshawk Summer are being donated to the Marie Curie charity.

James Aldred is an EMMY award-winning cameraman, adventurer and professional tree climber who has made a career out of travelling the world, filming wildlife for the BBC and climbing trees.

Twitter @jraldred #GoshawkSummer


Wednesday 28 July 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Betrayed by Roberta Kray

18 March 2021

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

After losing her mum in a tragic accident, Chrissy Moss fought to survive on one of the East End’s most notorious estates. When a fifteen-year-old girl disappears, hours after delivering a message for a local gang leader, the residents take the law into their own hands, causing buried secrets to resurface.

And you must fight to survive.

With rumours flying about the girl’s disappearance, the truth about Chrissy’s mother is called into question, and Chrissy begins to suspect her death was no accident: it was murder. But people on the estate are refusing to talk, and to find answers Chrissy must unravel an age-old web of deceit that runs right into the heart of London’s East End.

As Chrissy grows nearer to the truth, she unwittingly inches closer to danger. Could it be that she, like her mother, has put her trust in the wrong person?

πŸ“– My thoughts...

Chrissy Moss and her two teenage friends are whiling away a boring Sunday afternoon when the arrival of a handsome older boy shakes them out of their lethargy. When he asks them to deliver a message, this, seemingly innocent action, sets off a chain of events which has repercussions for each of the girls' in the future but it also has links to hidden secrets which have been buried for far too long. 

Not for the faint hearted, Betrayed brings into sharp focus a rundown London estate where neither hope nor charity is allowed to linger and where poverty and abusive behaviour is considered normal. Chrissy and her friends seem to be caught in a quagmire with no escape, so when one of them goes missing, it's only a matter of time before the tinder box of unrest and disquiet goes out of control.

Filled with an abundance of twists and turns, Betrayed rolls along with gusto, cleverly moving forwards in time as we get to know Chrissy, the feisty protagonist of the story, in some detail and it is her voice which comes across loud and clear as she tries to make sense of what happened on that fateful Sunday in 1975, when her best friend went missing.

In Betrayed, the author brings to life the seamier side of life in London's East End with a sense of drama and intrigue and with a palpable tension which lasts from first page to last.

About the Author

Through her marriage to Reggie Kray, Roberta Kray has a unique and authentic insight into London’s East End. Roberta met Reggie in early 1996 and they married the following year; they were together until Reggie’s death in 2000. Roberta is the author of many previous bestsellers including No Mercy, Dangerous Promises, Exposed and Survivor.

Twitter @LittleBrownUK

Tuesday 27 July 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Trapped by Anna Smith

March 2021

Kerry Casey #4

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Kerry Casey is still reeling from the bombshell that her lover, undercover cop Vinny Burns, has gone missing in Spain. She's pregnant with his baby and will do anything to find him.

One night, driving along a country road, Kerry and her Uncle Danny are ambushed by gunmen. In the confusion that follows, shots are fired and two men are murdered. Kerry and Danny can only look on as the bodies are dragged from their assailant's car and placed in their own.

The police arrive in minutes. With cocaine, dead bodies and guns in the car, it looks like an open-and-shut case.

Kerry's been framed. She is forced to wait out her fate inside a women's prison, still not knowing what has happened to Vinnie. On the outside the Casey gang are hunting down the men who did this to her and they will stop at nothing to find them.

πŸ“– My thoughts..

When crime boss, Kerry Casey and her Uncle Danny are waylaid on a quiet stretch of road, it can only mean trouble especially when Kerry and Danny are framed for a crime they didn't have anything to do with, but in this latest novel it would seem that old grudges run deep and pretty soon it becomes a race against time to see who can outwit the faster in order to get those who are targeting the Casey family.

As always this gritty crime series hits the ground running with two stories running concurrently both of which have particular relevance if you have followed the series from the beginning. Not only do we follow Kerry as she languishes, on remand, in a tough women's prison, but we also catch up with the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Kasey's boyfriend, Vinny Burns, an undercover police officer who has gone missing in Spain.

It is possible to read Trapped as a standalone story but as this is book four in the series, and quite possibly the last, there is a definite sense of tying up a few loose ends. As always the action is hard hitting and moves along at such a great pace that it's possible to lose complete track of time as you become immersed in the gritty world of gangland crime, a world which has terrible repercussions for those who get on the wrong side of each other. The author certainly knows how to keep the tension racked up to high and brings both place and people alive, even though, most of them aren't the sort of people you would like to meet there is a believability to them and you can't help but hope that Kerry Casey comes out on the winning side 😊

Anna Smith has been a journalist for over twenty years and is a former chief reporter for the Daily Herald in Glasgow. She has covered wars across the world as major news investigations and news stories for Dunblane to Kosovo to 9/11. Anna spends her time between Lanarkshire and Dingle in the West of Ireland as well as in Spain to escape the British weather.

Twitter @annasmithauthor


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.

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