Monday 31 October 2022

๐Ÿ‘ป Halloween Read ~ Spooky Ambiguous


Crumps Barn Studio

15 September

My thanks to the publisher and Daphne Denley for my copy of this book

Spooky Ambiguous: ghost stories and poetry, fangs and fairy tales

Ghosts and vampires, zombies and werewolves. A mirror with danger at its heart. A child is delighted to discover she is a witch, and a village disappears under a fairy curse. Then a selkie finds her way back to the waves, before a blood moon rises, bringing its own secrets ...

Full of the spooky and the gothic, fairy tales and poetry, this is a brilliant and intriguing collection where nothing and no one is as they seem.

๐Ÿ‘ป My Review...

I do like to have a book set aside for Halloween. There's something about settling down in a cosy corner, with a cup of hot chocolate and a few creepy stories to set the mood for the time when ghosties, ghouls and witches make their annual appearance.

This lovely collection helps to set the mood and with a nice blend of short stories and expressive poetry the book can be comfortably read in one sitting or read in snatched moments when you just need to escape the world. The fifteen short stories and poems caught my attention and the whole collection is brought to life with eleven eerie illustrations which help to create a sombre mood. The writers who have contributed to this set of stories vary in style but collectively they all work really well. I won't single any out for particular praise as that would be unfair but suffice to say I found much to enjoy in this creepy set of Gothic stories and poems.

☕ Best Read with... a cup of frothy hot chocolate


Penny Ayers, Michael Bartlett, Patrick Booth, Amaris Chase, Holly Anne Crawford, Ivor Daniel, Amanda Jane Davies, Daphne Denley, J. J. Drover, Harriet Hitchen, Rebecca McDowall, Jane Phillips, Angela Reddaway, Joe Robson and Margaret Royall, with illustrations by Lorna Gray.

Each of the authors who have contributed to this collaboration brings a unique voice to the genre. Whether dealing with life and loss, love and laughter, or stepping beyond into the danger of the supernatural, each of these short stories and poems evokes the true essence of the Gothic – its power to draw upon emotion.

Twitter @CrumpsBarn #SpookyAmbiguous

Sunday 30 October 2022

๐ŸดSunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Caroline England AKA C E Rose

On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo

I'm delighted to welcome Caroline England to Sunday Brunch
AKA C E Rose

Welcome, Caroline. What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch?

Now this question is certainly food for thought! I love nuts of all shapes and sizes so give me anything nutty and I’m in heaven. How about a granola with mixed nuts and seeds, honey, Greek yoghurt and berries? Yum!

Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?

A pot of English tea but it has to be Yorkshire. As Sean Bean says ‘Do it for Yorkshire!’

Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio?

Outside on the patio would be nice, please. But you’ll need to bring alone some sunshine!

Shall we have music playing in the background, and if so do you have a favourite piece of music?

I love a bit of Oasis or the Stereophonics, but you might not want to listen to me joining in, so how about we go for a something soft and uplifting like Louis Armstrong’s What A Wonderful World.

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

Seeing as my CE Rose books have a hint of the gothic, I’ll bring along Daphne du Maurier

Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

Rebecca, so I can chat to Daphne about it!


 When you are writing do you still find time to read for pleasure? And is there a book you would like to read but haven’t had time for …yet!

I don’t have as much time to read as I’d like, but I get stuck in to as many as possible on holiday. The other day I realised that I still haven’t read the latest Jackson Brodie escapade Big Sky!

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

Much of mine comes from my fervid imagination, but like most authors I get nuggets of ideas from the news, TV, films, eavesdropping on conversations, talking to strangers etc

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

I always write at my desk in my study. I don’t have a seasonal preference for writing but if it’s a sunny day I’ll be tempted outside. I have tried writing on my laptop in the garden but it isn’t ideal!

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

I’m onto any edits like a shot, otherwise I’ll fret! I procrastinate some things in life but when it comes to writing, I’m a goody two-shoes swat!

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

Praise and validation! I suppose a computer and the internet come in handy too ๐Ÿ˜Š

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

My last CAROLINE ENGLAND psychological suspense, vicarage-set THE SINNER came out in the summer and is steadily getting some amazing reviews.


The blurb is:


To the unsuspecting eye Dee Stephens has a perfect life as the vicar's wife: a devoted marriage to her charismatic husband Reverend Vincent, an adoring congregation and a beautiful daughter.


But beneath the surface, Dee is suffocating. Vincent is in control, and he knows her every sin. Desperate, Dee escapes into a heady affair with Cal, an old schoolmate.


But is Cal the saviour she thinks he is? What dark secrets does he harbour? And to what lengths will Vincent go to when he uncovers the truth?

Then my next CE ROSE psychological thriller THE SHADOWS OF RUTHERFORD HOUSE will be out on the 10th November. 

10 November 2022

The blurb is:

Darkness lies at the heart of this family…

In 1959 Milly starts her new life as a housemaid at Rutherford House, working for the aristocratic Rutherford-Percy clan. Entranced by her new mistress, Vivienne, she becomes deeply embroiled in the household and the keeper of dark secrets the family conceals beneath the mansion’s grand exterior.

In the present day, Christie is working as a psychiatric nurse when she meets troubled patient Lillian Percy, Vivienne’s granddaughter and heiress to Rutherford House. They soon bond over the loss of their mothers – Lillian’s died when she was a child; Christie’s mysteriously disappeared over twenty years ago – and Christie finds herself increasingly fascinated by Lillian’s family and their imposing ancestral home.

As Christie learns more about the Rutherford-Percys, she finds a shocking clue that could help her uncover what happened to her own mother. Desperate for answers, Christie puts her job, her family and even her very life on the line. But how much of the truth does she really want to know?

Caroline, where can we follow you on social media?

Twitter @CazEngland

Thank you for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo.

Thank you so much for having me!

Follow us on Twitter @jaffreadstoo #SundayBrunchwithJaffareadstoo

Saturday 29 October 2022

๐Ÿ“– Book Feature ~ The Penguin Book of French Short Stories edited Patrick McGuiness


Penguin Classics
27 October 2022

The short story has a rich tradition in French literature where, since its genesis, the form has been playfully expanded and subverted. Here are decadent tales, 'bloody tales', detective stories, war stories, fables, puzzles, fairy tales, and family histories. They are stories about the self and the other, husbands, wives and lovers, country and city, rich and poor. Curated and introduced by Patrick McGuinness, Professor of French and Comparative literature at Oxford, this collection brilliantly balances famous names such as Proust, Colette, and Zola with lesser-known French writers ripe for rediscovery.

Volume One begins with a bawdy, innuendo-laden tale from Philippe de Laon's One Hundred New Tales, written between 1464 and 1467. The final story in Volume Two dates from the early 2000s, written by Virginie Despentes, one of the most thrilling and taboo-breaking contemporary French writers. In between, this anthology crosses both genres and borders with writing from the formidable Guadeloupian writer Maryse Conde, and the greatly overlooked Senegalese poet and member of the Nรฉgritude movement Birago Diop. Far from apolitical, the collection reckons with France's complicated political and colonial history in a way which only the short story is able, as McGuinness tells us: "The short story is a pragmatic, nimble genre, responsive and topical, reaching the parts of a culture other genres cannot, and reaching them fast. Where the novel stretches across our days and accompanies us through them, the short story thrives in the busy ecosystem of everyday narratives and everyday reading habits."

Penguin Classics
27 October 2022

The second volume takes the reader through the tumultuous twentieth century in the company of writers including Simone de Beauvoir and Maryse Condรฉ, Patrick Modiano and Virginie Despentes, covering world wars, revolutions, and the horrors of the motorway service station. Along the way we meet electronic brains, she-wolves, a sadistic Cinderella, ancestors, infidels, dissatisfied housewives and lonely ambassadors, all clamouring to be heard. Funny, devastating and fresh at every turn, this is the place to start for lovers of French literature, new and old.

Edited and with an introduction by Patrick McGuinness, academic, writer and translator.


Thanks to the publisher, I've been lucky enough to read a sample section of the stories within these two volumes and from what I have seen, so far, I can heartily recommend both volumes. The stories vary in length from one page, to several pages, and each are perfectly written to entice and entertain. In my sample copy I enjoyed The Panther by Rachilde from Volume One and from Volume Two I enjoyed reading The Winter Journey by Georges Perec.

The Penguin Book of French Short Stories, edited by Patrick McGuiness, was published on the 27th October by Penguin Classics.

About the Editor

Patrick McGuiness is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of St Anne's Collge. Born in Tunisia and raised in Belgium, he is a poet, prize-winning novelist and translator.

Twitter @PenguinRandom


Friday 28 October 2022

๐Ÿ“– Blog Tour ~ Mistletoe and Magic for the Cornish Midwife by Jo Bartlett


Boldwood Books
27 October 2022

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

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

But for single mum and busy midwife Nadia, it’s quickly turning into her worst Christmas ever.

Her marriage is over, and whilst her husband has moved on, Nadia finds herself back home, squashed into her mum’s spare room with her two small children. They might not be a perfect family anymore, but Nadia is determined to make this Christmas special for them.

Dr Hamish Spencer totally understands Nadia’s pain. As a fellow single parent, he’s struggling to cope with a rebellious teen daughter and a precocious six-year-old! Perhaps if he and Nadia join forces, they could make this Christmas slightly more memorable for everyone?

The last thing Nadia wants is a new man in her life, but she’d definitely like lovely Hamish as a friend. But Christmas has a way of melting the hardest of hearts and maybe a kiss under the mistletoe could change everything?

๐Ÿ“– My review..

Those who are continuing with this Cornish Midwife series will be able to follow on directly from book five which left us wondering what was going to happen next for this lovely group of women... and for those of you who are new to the series...what took you so long!

Nadia has returned from New Zealand with her two children and is adjusting to her new life after her failed marriage. In the course of her work as a midwife, Nadia comes into contact with Dr. Hamish Spencer, himself a single parent, and from the outset the two of them just have a special connection but with a rebellious teenager on the scene and a whole heap of other problems, the course of true love is never going to run smoothly. However, as we have come to expect these stories are not all about hearts and flowers and whilst there is a lovely will they, won't they feel to the romance, there are also some serious elements and certainly one emotional story-line which tugs away at the heartstrings.

As always the story takes you right into the heart of the Port Agnes community and I especially love how the author pulls all the threads of the series together and whilst there is always a new central story we do find time to catch up with all the other characters who have featured in previous stories. Whilst there is a distinctly festive feel to Mistletoe and Magic for the Cornish Midwife, it's not so christmassy that you can't enjoy the story whatever the time of year. 

☕Best read with...a large pot of tea and Cornish shortbread biscuits

About the Author

Jo Bartlett is the bestselling author of over nineteen women’s fiction titles. She fits her writing in between her two day jobs as an educational consultant and university lecturer and lives with her family and three dogs on the Kent coast. Her first title for Boldwood is The Cornish Midwife – part of a twelve-book deal.

Twitter @J_B_Writer #MistletoeandMagicfortheCornishMidwife

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@BoldwoodBooks @bookandtonic #BoldwoodBloggers



Thursday 27 October 2022

๐Ÿ“– Blog Tour ~ The Cursed Heir by Heather Atkinson

Boldwood Books
25 October 2022

Alardyce Trilogy #2

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

Edinburgh 1896. At Alardyce House, the family are gathered to celebrate the engagement of the heir to the estate, Robert, to his childhood sweetheart. But what should be a precious memory for his mother Amy, is marred by darkness. For Robert’s biological father was a demon and a criminal, and now Robert is coming-of-age, disturbing reports are beginning to emerge about his behaviour.

Amy is torn between her love and loyalty to her son, her hope that she can save his soul, and her growing sense of dread that the streets of Edinburgh aren’t safe when Robert is in town. Meanwhile the increasing distance between Robert and his stepfather Henry threatens the peace of her loving marriage.

The Alardyce family is riven by secrets and scandal, but will this most cursed heir of all, be the one to ruin their reputation forever, or can the power of a mother’s love save them all?

๐Ÿ“– My review...

Those who have read the first book in this gothic series will be able to pick up the story very quickly as it follows on from where book one left off. For those new readers to this trilogy the author gives a very good run down of what has gone before so it is entirely possible to read as a standalone story although of course, it does make sense to read from the start of the trilogy.

In The Cursed Heir we meet again with Robert, Amy's now grown up son, who has just become engaged to his childhood sweetheart. All would be well except Robert has a brooding secret and a rather dark and nasty side to his personality which his mother is dismayed to discover bears all the traits of his biological father. What then follows is a rather dark story of how Robert deals with his split personality disorder which wreaks havoc on the lives of all those who care for him. Robert is hellbent on following his own path even though it puts his family in grave danger.

The author writes this Victorian gothic melodrama very well and brings a decidedly chilly edginess to this second story which matches that of the first book very well. The continuation is seamless and whilst I enjoyed delving deeper into the dark side of Robert's life I also welcomed the return of the other characters we got to know so well in book one. Amy's husband Henry does all he can to protect his wife but sometimes the forces of evil are just too strong.

The ending of the book certainly finishes on something of an intriguing cliffhanger so I am already looking forward to the conclusion of the story in book three of the trilogy.

๐ŸทBest read with... a restorative glass of Port

About the author

Heather Atkinson is the author of over fifty books – predominantly in the crime fiction genre. Although Lancashire born and bred she now lives with her family, including twin teenage daughters, on the beautiful west coast of Scotland. Her gangland series for Boldwood, set on the fictional Gallowburn estate in Glasgow begins with the title Blood Brothers.

Twitter @HeatherAtkinso1 #TheCursedHeir

@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers @bookandtonic


Wednesday 26 October 2022

๐Ÿ“– Blog Tour ~ The Sleepover by Keri Beevis

Boldwood Books
24 October 2022

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

When you’re a kid, you imagine monsters to have horns and fangs. That they hide under the bed or in the wardrobe. And you believe they can only come after you when it’s dark.

You don’t expect them to look like everyday people or that they may be someone you already know…

The summer in question started out with hot, fun-filled days and new friendships.

We had just turned thirteen and had our whole lives ahead of us.

But that was before her…

Before we became known as the Hixton Five and our lives become defined by one night.

It’s hard to believe twenty years have passed since she was locked away.

But now she’s free and strange things have started to happen.

When I close my eyes, the creeping anxiety and fear is overwhelming and all too real.

Because the monster is back, and I know she has a score to settle with us.

๐Ÿ“– My Review..

The Hixton Five as they were once dubbed are still coming to terms with the events which happened to them over twenty years ago but the psychological scars of their ordeal, at the hands of the notorious woman who was sent to prison for what she did to them, still remain. Twenty years on and the perpetrator has now been released and suddenly everything comes back to haunt those who have tried so hard to put this terror behind them.

The Sleepover is a menacing and chilling story which hits the ground running as we are introduced to Hannah and Rosie, two of the main characters, who on the surface are living reasonably normal lives and then, out of the blue, a true crime journalist appears who wants to tell their story. At the same time weird things start to happen opening up the terror which they have tried so hard to keep under control.

The story is really quite tense and I found that I was turning the pages faster and faster to see what was going to happen next and to find out what part of the story would reveal even more terrible secrets. The author writes really well and combines emotional strain with a taut atmosphere which allows the creepy edginess to remain throughout the whole of the story.

Taut, tight and tense The Sleepover is one of those stories to read in one sitting, preferably with all the lights on ๐Ÿ˜จ

๐ŸดBest read with .. a fluffy omelette, heavy on the cheese

About the Author

Keri Beevis is the internationally bestselling author of Dying To Tell, Deep Dark Secrets, Trust No One, Every Little Breath and The People Next Door. Dying To Tell reached no. 1 in the Amazon chart in Australia and was a top 25 hit in the UK. Keri wrote her first novel at age twenty, but it was a further twenty years before she was published, after winning a contract in a competition run by a small press. She lives in Norfolk, along with her two naughty kitties, Ellie and Lola, and a plentiful supply of red wine (her writing fuel).

Twitter @kerieevis #TheSleepover

@boldwoodbooks #boldwoodbloggers @bookandtonic


Tuesday 25 October 2022

๐Ÿ“– Blog Tour ~ Yellow is for Sunflowers by Kathryn Freeman


13 September 2022

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

Dean Baxter was everything a sensible thirty-two-year-old teacher should avoid. Five years younger, cocky, with a playboy reputation. Oh and guardian to Tom, one of her most promising students. But Lia was a rebel at heart.

Lia Stapleton was everything that was out of reach for an uneducated garage mechanic who’d made too many mistakes. Cambridge-educated, gorgeous and from a well-heeled background, she was his brother’s teacher. But Dean couldn’t resist her.

As Dean and Lia’s tentative relationship begins, can it survive Tom’s disapproval, her parents’ interference. And the dangerous return of his past.

๐Ÿ“– My Review..

When Lia Stapleton is rescued by Dean Baxter her instinct is to keep well away from the playboy car mechanic but Dean's good natured charm and obvious sex appeal soon proves to be too irresistible. Always a rebel, Lia decides to follow her heart not her head and soon gets involved in everything about Dean's life, including his somewhat shady past. With passion sizzling on every page there is also a hint of danger especially when we learn more about Dean's past and how Lia copes with this different side to the kind and caring man she is beginning to get to know.

Yellow is for Sunflowers is one of those wonderful romantic stories which this author writes so well. With pitch perfect characterisation, I just loved Lia's outgoing nature, and who could resist the appeal of Dean, who really doesn't know what hit him when he met Lia for the first time. Throughout the book this warm hearted romance just zings with sexual passion and yet interestingly there is also more than a hint of danger and intrigue. Once I started reading Yellow is for Sunflowers I found it difficult to put it down and read the story in one sitting, it's definitely escapism with a capital E and works beautifully on every level. 

Another triumph for this talented author.

๐ŸดBest read with...Dean's shepherd's pie

About the Author

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to write a book. It may have had something to do with my obsession with reading romance. Real life interfered and I headed off in a different direction – into the world of science, becoming a pharmacist before joining the pharmaceutical industry. I did end up writing, but it was about disease and medicines. Decades later, I’m finally doing what I always wanted to do.

With a husband who asks every Valentine's Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), all the romance in my life is in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn't always about hearts and flowers - and heroes come in many disguises.

Twitter @kathrynfreeman1 #YellowisforSunflowers


Monday 24 October 2022

๐Ÿ“– Review ~ Ten Poems about Black History from Candlestick Press


Poems to honour a unique generation

On 22nd June 1948, Her Majesty’s Transport Empire Windrush docked at the Port of Tilbury in Essex. Between 1947 and 1970, nearly half a million people left their homes in the Caribbean for a new life in Britain, becoming known as the ‘Windrush’ generation.

These poems respond to that experience, and the challenges and prejudices faced by those who arrived. They document a world of night shifts and broken promises, the impact on families and lives, and the hopes and aspirations for the future:

“It is Time for Black seeds to send new

roots and bloom fresh flowers

where there was decay and hopelessness

It is Time for Black seeds to bring

light into the barren wastes.”

from ‘Black Seeds Bring Light’ by Len Garrison

Panya Banjoko selects crucial and moving poems, ensuring that these experiences are honoured, these stories passed on, and these lives never forgotten.

Poems by Stanley O. Ayodeji, Panya Banjoko, James Berry, Kamau Brathwaite, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, Len Garrison, Sarah ‘Rain’ Kolawole, Marsha Prescod, Jacob Sam-La Rose and Kadija Sesay.

Cover illustration by Morag Williams.

๐Ÿ“– My Review..

With its stunning cover depicting HMT Empire Windrush, Ten Poems about Black History is published to coincide with Black History Month in October. This latest collection looks at the legacy of the Windrush generation when, in 1948, over half a million people left the Caribbean to make a new life in Britain. That their arrival was met with hostility and prejudice is well documented and this powerful anthology ensures that this time in our collective history is never forgotten.

The opening poem Mi Duck by Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze gets the collection off to a fine start and encapsulates the vernacular alongside a longing for home in a place that is so very different:

‘I know how England breaks your heart
how summer ends before it starts
I know mi duck, I know ‘

Not knowing what to expect I read through the poems, carefully taking in the thoughts and feelings which resonate so strongly. Each of the poems made me stop to consider the harshness of life and the difficulties experienced:

‘Forty years in the factory,
Thirty years on the bus,
Twenty years with machinery,
They don’t make them any more like us.

From, Exiles by Martha Prescod 

It’s really difficult to single out any of the poems for particular praise as they all bring something quite different to the collection however, what comes across right from the the offset is the need to ensure that the Windrush generation, with their unfailing generosity of spirit, their bravery, and their unique contribution to generations going forward must never be forgotten.

Candlestick Press is an independent publisher based in Nottingham, UK. We’ve been publishing poetry pamphlets since 2008 not only for people who already love poetry, but also for those who will love it but perhaps don’t know that yet. Our ‘instead of a card’ pamphlets make an ideal alternative to a mainstream greetings card and are a small gift in their own right. They have matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message, and are excellent companions on journeys or for a bedtime read. By supporting us, you help an independent press and our supported charities at the same time as treating yourselves, your friends and family to some wonderful poems.

Twitter @poetrycandle

Sunday 23 October 2022

๐ŸดSunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo ~ Lilly Brock

On this quiet Sunday morning why don't you put the kettle on, make your favourite breakfast and settle down for Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo

I'm delighted to welcome Lilly Brock to Sunday Brunch

Welcome, Lilly. What favourite food are you bringing to Sunday brunch? 

I would bring a Victoria Sponge Cake. Whipped cream and jam are sandwiched between the layers. I would use plum jam made from the plums off our tree. This cake is presented to one of my characters in my historical fiction novel series, “Intrepid Journey”, Book 6. Queen Victoria loved a slice of cake with her afternoon tea, thus becoming her namesake. My character adores Queen Victoria. It’s 1864, and baking powder had recently been invented which was used in the sponge cake. The cake was described as two sponge cakes filled with cream or buttercream, then dusted with sugar on top. It was also referred to as a Victoria Sandwich Cake. It’s absolutely delicious. I have posted the recipe on my website.

This is a picture of one that I made
I simply couldn't help myself!

Would you like a pot of English breakfast tea, a strong Americano, or a glass of Bucks Fizz?

A must–English Breakfast tea served in a pretty teapot, and I would enjoy drinking my tea from a delicate teacup with saucer.

Where shall we eat brunch – around the kitchen table, in the formal dining room, or outside on the patio?

Since there are still sunny days here in October, we should sit outside on the patio. From this vantage point we will look upon the trees, now cloaked in colourful foliage.

Shall we have music playing in the background, and if so do you have a favourite piece of music?

Yes, let’s relax with some smooth jazz piano music.

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

“Gone With The Wind” is one of my all-time favorite historical romance books, so I would invite Scarlett O’Hara. I love her strength and willful personality. She has been the inspiration for my character, Samantha, a Southern Belle during the Civil War, in my novel series.

Which favourite book will you bring to Sunday Brunch?

I would like to bring my 1979 time-worn paperback book “A Woman of Substance” by Barbara Taylor Bradford. This was Bradford’s debut novel in 1979 with more than 30 million copies sold. The author tells the story of her character, Emma Harte, who rises from servant girl to becoming an international power and one of the richest women in the world. I have to say this book was a major inspiration for me when I created my own business in 1980 from which after 38 successful years, I have retired. While I loved my business immensely, I’m thrilled to be pursuing my long-awaited moment in time to write stories.


When you are writing do you still find time to read for pleasure? And is there a book you would like to read but haven’t had time for …yet!

After reading and devouring the World War II novel “Nightingale” by Kristen Hannah, I plan to read her book “Four Winds”, which is set around the Great Depression shortly after the Great War. The author happens to come from my neck of the woods, the Pacific Northwest.

Where do you find the inspiration for your novels?

I have always been passionate about storytelling and impressed by the influence it has on people and the decisions they make in life. I love engaging with the projects I work on, diving headfirst into the research, investigation, and production of stories I feel are worth writing about. I would call myself a curious and proactive author, always interested in preserving history.

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

I have two special places which offer me quietude and serenity as well as a beautiful view of the mighty Columbia River and snow-capped Mt. St. Helen’s. In the wintertime, my laptop and I settle in the cosy nook by the fireside, and in the summertime, I love to write on our sun porch while basking in the morning sun.

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

Since I am very goal-oriented, staying focused isn’t a problem. I always establish a daily word count goal. This works extremely well for me. It’s rewarding to meet the goal or go beyond. If my word count does exceed my goal, I look at it as a credit toward a day that I might miss the goal. Life happens! Right? Even if I’m not physically writing, my mind continues to work on the storyline. I’m afraid I become quite obsessive with my characters and storyline. My books and I are as one, lol.

Give us four essential items that a writer needs?

A quiet, serene space, a comfortable chair for writing, Scrivener on my laptop, and a Thesaurus.

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

Last month, I published Book 6 of my historical fiction novel series, “Intrepid Journey: Crosswinds”. This is the continuing saga of my fictional Bennett family. The storyline begins in 1835 in Book 1 when the three Bennett brothers migrate to America from England. They begin their life in New York City. They marry and the Bennett family is born. Time passes and it’s 1855 when they learn about the offer of free land in the Pacific Northwest. The family decides to take a chance and embark on a voyage from New York City to the untamed Washington Territory via the little known water route on a side wheeler paddle steamship. They endure many hardships along the way. The series follows the family as it grows. The characters come to life as we not only watch them overcome the many challenges and hardships of that time with courage, fortitude, and loyalty, but also their moments of laughter, sadness, and romance. Historical events are woven into the storyline. In Book 6, the Civil War finally ends in 1865, but not without touching the family.


A perilous escape. An uncertain outcome. A test of courage.

A French warship attacks the Mexico city, Mazatlรกn, and holds it hostage, thwarting Alberto De Leon’s plans to return to his family in California. No one can get in or out. Trapped, he’ll stop at nothing to win his freedom. But when he attempts a daring escape, it goes terribly wrong. He’s now a man on the run with a bounty on his head.

Jane Bennett’s nephews–Union officers–are captured and endure deplorable conditions in a Confederate prison camp. Finally, the Civil War ends and all prisoners of war are released. When the two brothers and hundreds of other soldiers board a ship to go home, they have no idea what fate has in store for them. Many will never see home again.

Dark clouds and uncertainty descend upon the Bennett clan as the chaos of two wars threatens the lives of those they hold dear. Will the family be strong enough to face what lies ahead?

Crosswinds is the sixth book of the sweeping Intrepid Journey historical fiction series. If you enjoy seeing the past come alive, compelling characters, and a dash of romance, then you’ll love Lilly Robbins Brock’s engaging tale.


More about Lilly

Lilly Robbins Brock was born in Olympia, Washington where her pioneer family homesteaded in the late 1800s. She loves history and one of her passions has been researching her family tree. Learning about the past lives of her hometown inspired Lilly to write her historical fiction novel series, Intrepid Journey, Book One: An Untamed Frontier, Intrepid Journey, Book Two: Perils in Paradise., Intrepid Journey, Book 3: A New Dawn, Intrepid Journey, Book 4: Twists of Fate, Intrepid Journey, Book 5: Changing Tides, and now Intrepid Journey, Book 6: Crosswinds. She is presently working on Book Seven to continue the story of the Bennett family saga. Lilly has also written three nonfiction memoir/biographies to honor three members of the Greatest Generation who served our country during World War II. The first book, Wooden Boats & Iron Men, is about a PT sailor and his love of PT boats. The second book, Ever A Soldier, tells the story of a soldier who saw action on the European front. The third book, Victory On The Home Front, is the story of a Rosie the Riveter and her husband who was a fighting Seabee. Lilly and her husband are now retired. They live in a quiet country setting on the shores of the Columbia River in Cathlamet, Washington, which has become the perfect place to pursue her lifelong desire to write stories, and where she wrote her first book, Food Gift Recipes From Nature’s Bounty.

Lilly, where can we follow you on social media?

Thank you for taking part in Sunday Brunch with Jaffareadstoo.

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Saturday 22 October 2022

๐Ÿ“– Hist Fic Saturday ~ Her Castilian Heart by Anna Belfrage


On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to...the thirteenth century

27 September 2022

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

Blood is not always thicker than water…

At times a common bloodline is something of a curse—or so Robert FitzStephan discovers when he realises his half-brother, Eustace de Lamont, wants to kill him.

A murderous and greedy brother isn’t Robert’s only challenge. He and his wife, Noor, also have to handle their infected relationship with a mightily displeased Queen Eleanor—all because of their mysterious little foundling whom they refuse to abandon or allow the queen to lock away.

Eustace is persistent. When Robert’s life hangs in the balance, it falls to Noor to do whatever it takes to rip them free from the toothy jaws of fate. Noor may be a woman, but weak she is not, and in her chest beats a heart as brave and ferocious as that of a lioness. But will her courage be enough to see them safe?

๐Ÿ“–My review...

This is the third volume of this historical saga set during the tumultuous years of the thirteenth century and in Her Castilian Heart we meet again with Robert FitzStephen and his courageous wife, Eleanor d’Outremer. Returned to English soil and living back at Orton Manor, both Robert and Noor are trying to settle to a quieter life. However, when Robert is enlisted by Roger Mortimer to aid in King Edward I’s campaign against the Welsh their peaceful life flies silently away. This new situation is as deadly as it is dangerous as not only must Robert keep his wits about him during the campaign but he also runs the wrath of his half brother, Eustace de Lamont, whose insane and bitter jealousy of Robert knows no bounds.

In the hands of this talented writer history comes vividly alive, so that we start to understand the complexities of medieval government, particularly Edward I’s notorious campaign to conquer not just the Welsh but also his involvement in the political turmoil in Europe. However, the story is about so much more than blood and siege battles, it’s also about the strength of the relationship between Robert and Noor whose love affair continues to sizzle on the pages and also of their unswerving commitment to keeping safe all the people they love.

There is no doubt that this talented author knows how to bring history alive, the sights, sounds, and actions of the medieval world are vividly described so that it is entirely possible to feel like a fly on the wall as the cacophony of medieval chaos unfolds around you. Beautifully written and with a wonderful authenticity this series is set to continue sometime next year when Their Castilian Orphan is published. As with any series it is best to start at the beginning with book one however, each story can also be read as a standalone romantic adventure.

 ๐ŸบBest Read with...a mug of ale and a bowl of hot pottage

About the Author

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England. 

Twitter @abelfrageauthor