Tuesday 31 August 2021

Blog Tour ~ A Hundred Years to Arras by J.M Cobley


Delighted to host one of today's blog tour stops

19 August 2021

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

On a painful, freezing Easter Monday in 1917, Private Robert Gooding Henson of the Somerset Light Infantry is launched into the Battle of Arras. Robert is twenty-three years old, a farmer’s boy from Somerset, who joins up against his father’s wishes. Robert forms fast friendships with Stanley, who lied about his age to go to war, and Ernest, whose own slippery account betrays a life on the streets. Their friendship is forged through gas attacks, trench warfare, freezing in trenches, hunting rats, and chasing down kidnapped regimental dogs. Their life is one of mud and mayhem but also love and laughs. This is the story of Robert’s journey to Arras and back, his dreams and memories drawing him home. His story is that of the working-class Tommy, the story of thousands of young men who were caught in the collision between old rural values and the relentlessness of a new kind of war. It is a story that connects the past with the present through land, love and blood.

My Thoughts..

Private Robert Gooding Henson was just an ordinary soldier caught up in some of the momentous years of the First World War but what is made all the more poignant about A Hundred Years to Arras is that it is based on a distant relative of the author.

Leaving his elderly parents behind on the family farm, Robert Henson enlisted in 1915 into the Somerset Light Infantry and proudly wearing the armband of an enlistee he caught the train to fight in a war not of his making. The reality of the Western Front, with the gas attacks, the mud and rat infested conditions of the trenches and the sheer slog of enemy bombardment, couldn't have been further from the rolling hills of Somerset, however, Robert's friendship with fellow two Privates, Stanley and Ernest, somehow makes the unspeakable horror more bearable. Friendships formed in adversity are a powerful force and the three men share their experiences, their hopes and dreams for what seems an impossible future and do so with stoicism and good natured humour which belies their strength of will.

There is no doubt that the author has done impeccable research in order to bring this book to life and there is such an authentic feel to the narrative that it gives a realistic, and at times, quite disturbing account of what Private Henson could have experienced during his time in Northern France. In using sketchy family history details and in searching through military records, Private Henson comes very much alive in this fictionalised account of what happened to him on the way to the Battle of Arras in April 1917.

It is a fitting tribute that Private Robert Gooding Henson's life is remembered in this beautifully written story and A Hundred Years to Arras is a powerful reminder of the bravery of this generation of young men who went off to war so willingly and whose generous spirits now infuse the soil of Northern France. 

About the Author

J. M. Cobley was born in Devon of Welsh parents and now lives in Warwickshire with his wife and daughter. Jason studied English Language and Literature at university and is currently Head Teacher at a hospital school in Coventry. Jason is otherwise known for his work writing scripts for the long-running Commando comic and graphic novel adaptations of classics such as Frankenstein and An Inspector Calls, as well as the children's novel The Legend of Tom Hickathrift. Jason also hosts a weekly show on Radio Abbey in Kenilworth, where he indulges his passion for classic and progressive rock. The central character of A Hundred Years to Arras is based on his relative Robert Gooding Henson.

Twitter @JasonMCobley #HundredYearsToArras



Monday 30 August 2021

πŸ“– Publication Day Push ~ The Secrets of Latimer House by Jules Wake


Delighted to be part of this Publication Day Push

One More Chapter
ebook 30 August 2021

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

In the war against Hitler every secret counts…

Society heiress Evelyn Brooke-Edwards is a skilled interrogator – her beauty making her a non-threat in the eyes of the prisoners.

Farm girl Betty Connors may not be able to type as she claimed, but her crack analytical skills soon find her unearthing covert connections.

German ex-pat Judith Stern never expected to find herself listening in to German POW’s whispered conversations, but the Nazis took her father from her so she will do whatever it takes to help the Allies end this war.

Billeted together in the attic of Latimer House – a place where secrets abound – Evelyn, Betty and Judith soon form a bond of friendship that carries them through the war. Because nothing is stronger than women united.

Tucked away in the Buckinghamshire countryside, Latimer House, a grand country estate, stands proudly – a witness to some of greatest secrets of WW2.

My Thoughts..

Three young women become the best of friends when they meet at Latimer House, a grand old country house tucked away in the Buckinghamshire countryside which guards some deadly WW2 secrets.  Whilst Evelyn Brooke-Edwards, Betty Connors and Judith Stern are very different in style, and personality, they soon form a close bond with each other and are determined to stick together come what may. Evelyn, Betty and Judith each their own specific tasks at Latimer House, for which they are well suited, but as they have all signed the Official Secrets Act they can't even disclose to each other the extent of their secret war work. 

What then follows is a different look at one of the secret operations that was taking place during WW2 and Latimer House played a real part in this secret world. Under the auspices of the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Unit (CSDIC) thousands of prisoners of war passed through Latimer House and by interrogation and in listening into their private conversations, important information about the threats to air, sea and land was obtained in a clandestine manner.  The Secrets of Latimer House moves between what is happening at Latimer House, and as Evelyn, Betty and Judith each have their own particular burdens, the story shows how their secret work affects each of the women, these difficulties are handled well and give an authentic feel to the story.

The Secrets of Latimer House is a beautifully written war-time story which shows the importance of female friendship, the camaraderie of sticking together when the going gets tough, and regardless of circumstances, the importance of giving love and romance a chance to flourish.

About the Author

Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury and not so luxury brands. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to hone her creative writing skills.

She writes bestselling warmhearted romantic contemporary fiction for One More Chapter as Jules Wake and was shortlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year 2020 with The Spark.
Under her pen name Julie Caplin, she also writes the warm and witty Romantic Escapes series.Between them, the two Js have written eighteen novels,he Secret of Latimer House being the latest.

Twitter @Juleswake 



Sunday 29 August 2021

☼ Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ V E H Masters

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

Summertime is here 

☼ I'm delighted to welcome author, V E H Masters to our Summer picnic ☼

☼Welcome to Jaffareadstoo, Vicki. What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?

I’m hoping you’ll surprise me – but no meat or chocolate please

☼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?

Tea made from the freshly picked mint from your herb garden, but if you really insist I’ll have a Pimms chaser too… maybe we’d better just use the mint for that.

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

In a garden which has been loving cared for.

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

It’s all carefully packed in the cool box and we have a tartan rug to sit upon.

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

A golden beach in Scotland, preferably the West Sands at St Andrews or the secret Tantallon. And no matter the weather or season, we’ll have a swim before we leave.

Tantallon Beach

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

I think it must be Sir Walter Scott whose 250th anniversary it is this year. Although I have the complete set of Scott’s novels which once belonged to my great grandfather I have to admit to only having finished one of his books, nevertheless he has been much in my mind in his anniversary year. That one book has influenced my writing and he wrote about our country with love and care…and in Edinburgh of 1840, the second largest monument to writer in the world was erected in his memory.

☼Which summer read are you bringing with you today?

I am being utterly indulgent and reading The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery


☼What is your earliest summer memory?

My dad on the combine harvester all night covered in stoor (it even coated his eyelashes) because there was no fancy cab to sit in in those days, and the urgent need to get the barley in before it rained.

☼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?

I think auditory is my least used sense. I struggle to sing in tune, only listen to music in the car – and mostly I’d rather listen to a book.

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

These days my reading is dictated by what I’m researching for my next book. I do allow myself the occasional indulgence of Maurice Walsh or mostly recently The Seeker by SG MacLean – a fabulous read.


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

Oh dear, I feel a bit pathetic but whatever the season, I never find it easy to write and have to be dogged and disciplined to get things finished.

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

The Conversos is due out on St Andrews Day, the 30th November this year. Set in 1547-9 it picks up, almost to the hour, where The Castilians left off. Will is imprisoned as a galley slave, and his sister Bethia has fled Scotland because of her brother’s transgressions – to an equally perilous life, and marriage, in Antwerp.

Nydie Books

1546 and Scotland is under attack from Henry VIII, determined to marry his son to the infant Mary, Queen of Scots. A few among the Scottish nobles, for both political and religious reasons, are eager for this alliance too. They kill Cardinal Beaton, who is Mary’s great protector, and take St Andrews Castle, expecting rescue any day from England.

Local lad Will is among them, fighting for the Protestant cause. His treasonous activities place his family in grave danger, forcing his sister Bethia into an unwelcome alliance. As the long siege unravels, Bethia and Will struggle over where their loyalties lie and the choices they each must make — whether to save their family, or stay true to their beliefs and follow their hearts

This debut novel closely follows the historical events of the siege of St Andrews Castle, and its dramatic re-taking.

‘A clever blend of fact and fiction…gripping action, drama galore, and a dash of romance.' Margaret Skea

Finalist, Wishing Shelf Book Awards

Runner-up, SAW Barbara Hammond Trophy

Vicki, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter  @VickiMasters9

Facebook  VEHMastersBooks

Thank you for sharing your summer picnic with us today.

Thanks for inviting me – it was a perfect picnic 

Follow on Twitter 


Saturday 28 August 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ A Winter Baby for Gin Barrel Lane by Lindsey Hutchinson


Delighted to be part of this blog tour today

Boldwood Books
24 August 2021

#2 in series

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

It’s a world of happiness and friendship, but also violence and poverty. Now that Dolly runs the Daydream Gin Palace on Gin Barrel Lane she can finally control her own destiny, but sometimes fate still plays its hand.

Keen to expand her empire, Dolly and Jack take on a new pub, but they are in for a shock when a foul smell in one of the bedrooms turns out to come from a body hidden in the wall.

As the police hunt for their suspect, rumours abound, spread by the local urchins – happy to be used as runners for a little bit of food and a coin or two.

But rumours can be dangerous, and as one of the worst winters on record covers everything in snow, Dolly and Jack have to fight for the lives they have made for themselves, and for the urchins that they have come to think of as family. Will the arrival of a new baby on Gin Barrel Lane bring the promise of new hope, or will the long-awaited thaw uncover new secrets and new tragedies...
The Queen of Black Country sagas is back on Gin Barrel Lane with a rip-roaring, heart-warming, page-turning story of family, friendship and beating the odds. Perfect for fans of Val Wood and Lyn Andrews.

 πŸ“– My Thoughts..

Gin is strong commodity in the nineteenth century as it offers a fleeting escape from a rough world which is high in poverty and unemployment. Twenty-one year old, Dolly Perkins runs her very successful Gin Palace on Gin Barrel Lane in Birmingham and despite her relative youth she is well on her way to becoming a very successful business woman, so much so, she wants to increase her little empire by purchasing a struggling pub in a run down area in order to turn it into another gin palace success. 

Dolly is a good employer and demands loyalty and respect from her employees and in return she makes sure they are well paid. With the help from Jack Hawkins, her newly appointed manager, Dolly sets about restoring an old pub into a new venture, the Emporium of Dreams, but in doing so she runs the wrath of the unscrupulous, Ezra Moreton, who seems to want to bring Dolly's empire tumbling down.

What follows is a well written historical saga which follows on from the first book in the series which introduced us to the characters. However, don't worry, if you haven't read the first book, as its easy to pick up the story as the author adds enough back information. There's a lovely warm hearted feel to the story and even though Dolly's path to success is far from easy, she does so with stoicism and well intentioned enthusiasm for everything she does. The history of the time sits well and the author brings to life the hardship of those who are living in hard times but amongst the sadness there is also humour and the strong ethic of working hard for want you want. Dolly is a prime example of how sheer hard work and determination can pay off in the long run.

I can easily see this lovely, warm-hearted series continuing, as there is still so much more for Dolly Perkins to achieve in future stories.

About the Author

Lindsey Hutchinson is a bestselling saga author whose novels include The Workhouse Children. She was born and raised in Wednesbury, and was always destined to follow in the footsteps of her mother, the multi-million selling Meg Hutchinson. Lindsey’s first title for Boldwood was published in February 2020.

Twitter @LHutchAuthor #AWinterBabyForGinBarrelLane

@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers


Friday 27 August 2021

Book Review ~ Buried by Lynda La Plante



DC Jack Warr #1

Millions of stolen, untraceable bank notes lie untouched in an old Victorian cottage, the hidden legacy of the Dolly Rawlins and her widows.

But the millions are not forgotten. Released from prison, Esther Freeman is determined to retrieve the money. And so too is Mike Withey, Shirley Miller's brother and Audrey's son.

When a fire breaks out at the derelict cottage, with a badly charred body inside along with what looks like thousands of burnt bank notes, it attracts the attention of the police and one young detective in particular, Jack Warr.

Jack's investigation into the fire, and the burnt body inside, coincide with an investigation into his own past. Adopted at birth, Jack discovers his birth father may have been none other than Harry Rawlins, a renowned criminal.

As he finds out the truth about his own identity, Jack finds himself becoming increasingly aggressive, stopping at nothing to find the truth - including breaking the law himself.

My Thoughts..

Buried gets this new crime series off to a flying start with a set of likable, and not so likeable, villains who literally leap, fully formed off the page. It's also a cracking introduction to a new detective as by no stretch of the imagination is Jack Warr your average Detective Constable. He's something of a maverick, occasionally even a little bit lazy, but when his intuition kicks in, he tends to be on the right track.  

Cracking this case is never going to be easy especially when a man's body is found in a burned out isolated cottage. However, what makes this case all the more baffling for the police is that the body was surrounded by thousands of burnt bank notes, and with very few clues to go other than tenuous links to a twenty year-old cold case, the detectives have a huge task ahead of them.

As with any La Plante novel, the story moves a startling pace and introduces a set of detailed characters, especially a group of women, all ex-cons who have fascinating back stories to tell. I enjoyed getting the know the ladies, they add much needed light, and shade, to what is after all quite a dark story. Those who are familiar with La Plante's Widows series will recognise a few names, especially that of Dolly Rawlins, but it's not necessary to have read those books to enjoy this new series.

As with any new series there is a sense of getting to know the characters and by including Jack Warr's search for his own past as part of the story we begin to see just what makes enigmatic detective tick. I look forward to reading the second book, Judas Horse which was published by Zaffre in April 2021.

By using the Borrow Box service of my library I listened to the audio version of Buried, which is nicely narrated by Alex Hassell and Annie Aldington.

Find out more about Borrow Box

Lynda La Plante is a British author, screenwriter, and  actress, best known for writing the Prime Suspect television crime series.

Lynda's Latest book ~ Unholy Murder (Jane Tennison #7) published by Zaffre, is out now.

Twitter @LaPlanteLynda #Buried 


Thursday 26 August 2021

πŸ“– Publication Day, Anniversary Edition~ The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer


Anniversary Edition
26 August 2021

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Diana Beauleigh is caught between two men.

Seven long years ago, Jack Carstares, the Earl of Wyncham, sacrificed his honour for his brother and has been in exile ever since.

Returning to England, Jack pretends to be a gentleman named Sir Anthony Ferndale but makes his living in a most ungentlemanly fashion, as a highwayman and a gambler.

When Jack encounters his nemesis, the Duke of Andover, in the midst of kidnapping Diana Beauleigh, the two old enemies come to blows.

Can Jack save the beautiful Diana from rakes, kidnap and ruin…?

 πŸ“– My Thoughts..

It's 100 years since the first publication of The Black Moth and it is safe to say that the Regency novels of Georgette Heyer are every bit as popular today as they were back in 1921 and to celebrate the event there is a beautiful 100th anniversary edition.

It's been interesting to step back in time to revisit The Black Moth, which I first read far too many years ago when I was in my mid teens. The story is as enticing as I remember with characters who leap off the page and with a Georgian setting which is so reminiscent of the period it's as though Georgette Heyer is actually sitting writing at her escritoire in the mid-eighteenth century rather than the early twentieth. 

The mood is captured instantly with the tale of two brothers, the elder, Jack Carstares sacrificed his own reputation in order to save the family honour and protect his younger and more irresponsible brother but when Jack, now Earl of Wyncham, returns from exile he discovers his old adversary, the Duke of Andover, is about to abduct, Diana Beauleigh a society beauty. From card games, to sword fights and with a little swashbuckling highwayman in between, The Black Moth is a great romp through the great, and the good, of Georgian England.

Interesting to think that Heyer wrote The Black Moth when she was in her early teens, ostensibly, to amuse her younger brother who was sick at the time. It certainly sets the course for her future writing career which lasted until her death in 1974.

About the Author

Author of over fifty books, Georgette Heyer is the best-known and best-loved of all historical novelists, who made the Regency period her own. Her first novel, The Black Moth, published in 1921, was written at the age of seventeen to amuse her convalescent brother; her last was My Lord John. Although most famous for her historical novels, she also wrote eleven detective stories. Georgette Heyer died in 1974 at the age of seventy-one.

Twitter #GeorgetteHeyer


Amazon  currently priced at 99p

Wednesday 25 August 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Girl in the Picture by Melissa Wiesner


  Thrilled to be on this blog tour today

23 August 2021

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

You can run from your past, but your secrets will always follow…

Growing up, Tegan’s big brother Jamie did whatever he could to protect her from their troubled parents. But now he’s sick, and Tegan knows his only hope of recovery is taking him far away from the family secrets that still haunt them both. She packs her bags and begins searching for a safe place for them to go.

Trusting other people has only ever lead to pain, but down to her last dollar, Tegan shares a ride with fellow traveler Jack. Just like her, he won’t talk about his home: and as the miles fly by, the unlikely pair grow close.

Arriving in a remote town in the mountains where no one knows her name, Tegan starts to breathe easy. She’ll bring Jamie here, and they’ll finally start over. But then she notices the photos and newspaper clippings in the trunk of Jack’s car. Who is the woman in every frame? And why does she look so familiar…?

Tegan knows the only way to protect herself, and keep her dark family history locked away, is to discover more about the woman in Jack’s photos. But when she does, will the truth help her and Jamie build a new life, or will it tear them apart forever?

An absolutely heartbreaking and powerful novel about the lies we tell ourselves, how far we’d go to protect the ones we love, and what it means to be lost. Perfect for fans of Kerry Fisher, Diane Chamberlain, and Kerry Lonsdale.

πŸ“– My thoughts..

The Girl in the Picture begins with a chance encounter at a roadside diner but for Jack and Tegan the meeting is not without its problems as both of them are escaping painful memories. With not much in common, Jack and Tegan are thrown together on a road trip across some beautiful parts of America, and with overnight stops at tiny run down motels and in picturesque small towns, Jack and Tegan eventually start to open up to each other, but with some pretty heavy stuff going on in both their lives, the odds of a successful relationship between them seems little more than a pipe dream.

What then follows is a lovely story which gradually reveals how these two lonely people have become so damaged. It would appear that both Jack and Tegan are searching for something special but neither of them realise the power of what they have until it's too late. The author writes with a lovely light touch with scenes which made me smile however, I think what makes this story all the more poignant  is that there are some important aspects of the story which deal compassionately with grief and loss. Throughout The Girl in the Picture I felt an emotional connection to both of the characters and as their individual stories are gradually revealed, I only wanted what was best for both Jack and Tegan.

With wonderful characters who move quietly into your heart, and filled with all the charm of small town America, The Girl in the Picture is a lovely, warm-hearted story which delights from start to finish.

About the Author

Melissa Wiesner is a night-owl who began writing novels about five years ago when her early-to-bed family retired for the evening. In 2019, she won the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® Award in the Mainstream Fiction Category for her first novel. Melissa holds two Master’s Degrees in Public Health and Community Agency Counseling. Her day job is in Social Work where she often encounters people knocked down by hard times but who pick themselves up and keep going, just like the characters of her novels. Melissa lives in Pittsburgh, PA with her charming husband and two adorable children.

Twitter @Melissa_Wiesner  #TheGirlInThePicture

 @bookouture #BooksonTour

Tuesday 24 August 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Significant Others of Odie May by Claire Dyer

28 July 2021

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book


Any one of them could have murdered her... but who did?

On the night Odie May and her married lover are due to celebrate him leaving his wife, Odie goes out to buy a bottle of his favourite wine and, on her way home, is murdered by a woman in a lime green coat.

The next thing Odie knows is that she’s in a waiting room and there’s a man called Carl Draper saying he’s her Initial Contact. He is carrying a clipboard and invites her into an interview room.

Over the course of her interview, Carl and Odie track back to the significant others in her life to date to try and work out where she’s gone wrong, who might have killed her, and why.

In the meantime, Carl also shows Odie what’s happening in the life she’s left behind as her mother and her lover, Michael, learn of her death and manage the tricky days that follow it.

But nothing is as simple as it seems. Although Carl has it in his power to return Odie to the moment before she was killed, this comes at a price she may not be able to pay.

πŸ“– My thoughts..

We first meet Odie May when she has been murdered by a woman in a lime green coat, this is no spoiler as it clearly says so in the blurb, but what then follows is the story of how Odie May found herself in that particular situation, clutching a bottle of red wine and wondering where her life went horribly wrong.

I think we all wonder what it would be like to shuffle off this mortal coil and what awaits us when we are gone and as a nurse I was often privy to people's thoughts when they had been 'brought back' following cardiac arrest but none of them could categorically say if there was anything to see on the other side. That's why it's been so interesting to meet up with Odie May as she is given the unique opportunity to look at her life, to re-evaluate her place in it, and to see the impact of her loss on those she has left behind.

As always, this talented author has given us something that is a little bit different and which makes us question what we know about Odie, who it must be said, isn't the most lovable of characters, however, the more I read her story and the more I warmed to her unique personality. I enjoyed how the story takes us through the relationships Odie has with her significant others, from her childhood, and beyond,  in those moments which have shaped Odie into the person we meet at the start of the story.

The Significant Others of Odie May is a well thought out thriller, with lovely attention to even the smallest detail, and by the end of the story I had really warmed to Odie, and I hoped that when faced with a choice of what to do next, she made the right decision.

Claire Dyer’s poetry collections are published by Two Rivers Press, her novels by Quercus and The Dome Press. Her novel, 'The Significant Others of Odie May' is forthcoming from Matador in 2021. She curates Reading's Poets’ CafΓ©, teaches creative writing and runs Fresh Eyes, an editorial and critiquing service. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and is a regular contributor on BBC Radio Berkshire. 

Twitter @CalireDyer1


Monday 23 August 2021

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Beloved Girls by Harriet Evans

Delighted to be part of this blog tour

Headline Review
19 August 2021

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

Catherine, a successful barrister, vanishes from a train station on the eve of her anniversary. Is it because she saw a figure - someone she believed long dead? Or was it a shadow cast by her troubled, fractured mind? 

The answer lies buried in the past. It lies in the events of the hot, seismic summer of 1989, at Vanes - a mysterious West Country manor house - where a young girl, Jane Lestrange, arrives to stay with the gilded, grand Hunter family, and where a devastating tragedy will unfold.

Over the summer, as an ancient family ritual looms closer, Janey falls for each member of the family in turn. She and Kitty, the eldest daughter of the house, will forge a bond that decades later, is still shaping the present..

πŸ“– My thoughts..

When we first meet Catherine Christophe it is 2018 and she is a successful barrister working in London, where she lives with her husband, Davide and her two teenage children. On the surface life is good, but there are undercurrents in Catherine's life which seem to be affecting her state of mind. Bothered by the events of a troubled past Catherine, not the most reliable of narrators, leads us slowly towards what happened at the family home in the late summer of 1989.

With hints of menace, the gradual air of suspicion gradually reveals a story which is buried in the events at Vanes, a West Country manor house, where the eccentric Hunter family live, and the house where Catherine spent her childhood. The arrival into their lives of Janey Lestrange, a young teenager, with more than her own share of mental health problems, only adds to the sense of intrigue which surrounds this unusual family.

The story flits effortlessly between three time frames and it pays to keep focused as there is much to learn about the Hunter family, and many secrets need to come to light before the whole of this rather sad, and decidedly, creepy story is revealed. I found the many complexities intriguing, especially the weaving of the story around an old English folk song which highlights the danger of keeping some ancient traditions alive. The author, with her trademark skill for storytelling, fires the imagination right from the start with an intriguing prologue which gives a fascinating insight into Catherine's troubled state of mind. 

Beautifully written, The Beloved Girls is a multi-layered, and intriguing, family drama which looks at the unreliability of memory, the dangerous association of keeping hidden secrets and of a past which would rather remain locked away forever.

About the Author

Harriet Evans is the author of several top ten bestsellers including the Sunday Times bestselling The Garden of Lost and Found and Richard and Judy book club selection The Wildflowers. She used to work in publishing and now writes full time, when she is not being distracted by her children, other books, sewing projects, puzzles, gardening, and her much-loved collection of jumpsuits. Last year, she and her family moved from London to Bath.

Twitter @HarrietEvans #TheBelovedGirls



Sunday 22 August 2021

☼ Summer Picnic with Jaffareadstoo ~ Anne Allen

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

Summertime is here 

☼ I'm delighted to welcome author, Anne Allen to our Summer picnic ☼

Welcome, Anne. What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?

I’ll bring a salad which includes rocket, avocado and feta, served with Parma ham. To follow it has to be strawberries and cream.

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?

Ooh, definitely Pimms with all the trimmings please!

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

A shady part of the garden near a pond would be lovely

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

Wicker hamper with china plates and proper cutlery

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

It’s been so long I don’t remember! But I did use to enjoy a picnic at my grandchildren’s sports day when family were allowed to watch.

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

William Shakespeare would be very entertaining and may even write a play or sonnet for us. I would also like to invite Agatha Christie and Barbara Erskine so we can chat about plotting crime books and time-slips.

Which summer read are you bringing with you today?

Hilary Mantel ‘The Mirror and the Light’, likely to last me until winter!

Fourth Estate

What is your earliest summer memory?

On the beach at Rhosneigr in Anglesey, my father’s birthplace and where we went every summer during my early childhood. We lived in Rugby and going to Anglesey was the highlight of the year.

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

Her Previous Self

Two women, living two hundred years apart but closer than sisters.

Mary, miserable in her marriage to Thomas Carre, a merchant and privateer and living in the new family mansion in Georgian Guernsey.

Lucy, separated from her husband after a tragic loss and now acting as an unwilling sitter for her elderly grandfather, Gregory Carre, who has inherited the same mansion.

Lucy is haunted by Mary’s continued presence in the house and finds herself being pulled more and more back in time. How is it possible for her to live as Mary? To experience scenes from her tragic life? Lucy is forced to come to terms with Mary’s grief as well as her own.

The more enmeshed she becomes the more anxious Lucy is to discover the truth. Why is Mary still restless? What caused her mysterious disappearance two hundred years ago?

And can Lucy move on from her own loss to find happiness again?


Anne, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter @AnneAllen21

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

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Saturday 21 August 2021

πŸ“– Hist Fic Saturday ~ Bobby's War by Shirley Mann


On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...1942

18 March 2021

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Romantic Novel of the Year (RoNa's) Award for Romantic Saga Award (2021)

It's 1942 and Bobby Hollis has joined the Air Transport Auxiliary in a team known as the 'glamour girls' - amazing women who pilot aircraft all around the country.

Bobby always wanted to escape life on the family farm and the ATA seemed like the perfect opportunity for her. But there's always something standing in her way. Like a demanding father, who wants to marry her off to a rich man. And the family secrets that threaten to engulf everything.

As Bobby navigates her way through life, and love, she has to learn that controlling a huge, four-engined bomber might just be easier than controlling her own life..

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

Roberta 'Bobby' Hollis is one of an elite band of young women trained to deliver aircraft all around the country, from the unwieldy Wellingtons, to the nifty Spitfires, the girls of the Air Transport Auxiliary are more than a match for their male counterparts, and face just as much pressure to act swiftly, and competently, often in the face of great personal danger. 

Bobby has escaped her rather stifled life on the family farm, a place which is filled with sadness and discontent but as part of the ATA Bobby not only joins a group of strong and determined women, but in leaving her problems behind, Bobby discovers more about herself in the process. Moving between the airfields of England the story captures both the glamour, and sometimes the mundanity, of being in  the ATA, whilst at the same time offers a glimpse into what is happening both on the home front, and in the dangerous corners of occupied France.

Beautifully written, with interesting characters, and a strong story line, Bobby's War describes the vital importance of the ATA's contribution to the war effort and highlights the work of these brave young women in a fascinating story about loyalty, friendship and love.

About the Author

Shirley Mann is a Derbyshire based journalist who spent most of her career at the BBC. her first novel, Lily's War, was inspired by Shirley's mother who was a WAAF, and her father who was in the Eighth Army. Bobby's War is her second novel. 

Twitter @ shirleymann07 #BobbysWar