Wednesday 31 May 2023

πŸ“– Book Review ~ New Beginnings for the Surplus Girls by Polly Heron


5 April 2023

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

Manchester, 1923: Jess Mason is determined to make her own way in the world.

When a misunderstanding on a job application means she's appointed manager for Holly Lodge, a home for old soldiers, she must convince the owner that she can run things just as well as any man - if not better.

Tom Watson has not been the same since the war. Traumatized by his experiences on the battlefield, he has vowed to himself that he must go through life alone. But when he takes on the job to renovate Holly Lodge and meets Jess, all the walls he built around himself start to come crumbling down.

As challenges arise in the opening of the new soldiers' home, Jess must fight tooth and nail to hold on to her precious new role. And as her and Tom grow closer, she can't help but wonder if there is room in her life for both love and the career she's always dreamt of...

πŸ“– My Review..

Being one of the surplus women in the aftermath of the Great War was never going to be easy especially when post-war jobs were scarce and priority was given to returning soldiers. Attitudes towards women in the work-place were fraught with prejudice and very few women were recognised for their contribution. 

Jess Mason has had to fight every step of the way and even her probationary role as manager of a new care home for ex-soldiers doesn't come with a guarantee of permanent employment because first she must prove that she's up to the task by an employer who is embarrassed at the prospect of employing a woman in  managerial role. What then follows is a lovely continuation of these historical novels which have introduced us to The Surplus Girls who live, work and love in this corner of south Manchester, a place which is filled with interesting salt-of-the-earth characters who have brought the story to life on so many fascinating levels. Although this is very much Jess Mason's story it has also been a real treat to see her mingle with those characters who have come to love from previous stories, especially Vivienne Atwood, and Miss Patience and Miss Prudence who run the local business school. I especially loved getting to know Jess, she's a steadfast heroine with so much to offer and her burgeoning relationship with Tom Watson, a local builder, adds a frisson of will they, won't they romance.

As always, the author writes with such passionate commitment, bringing to the forefront ordinary people who were simply going about their lives as best they could in the aftermath of a war which caused so much personal tragedy. Beautifully written, New Beginnings for the Surplus Girls is a story of hope and friendship, and about finding love unexpectedly and going forward into a brighter future.

About the Author

Polly Heron is a historical saga writer living on the North Wales coast. She is originally from Manchester, which is where her books are set.

Twitter @Polly_Heron #NewBeginningsforTheSurplusGirls 


Saturday 27 May 2023

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ An Unsuitable Heiress by Jane Dunn


Boldwood Books
22 May 2023

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

Following the death of her mother, Corinna Ormesby has lived a quiet life in the countryside with her cantankerous Cousin Agnes. Her father's identity has been a tantalising mystery, but now at nineteen Corinna knows that finding him may be her only way to avoid marriage to the odious Mr Beech.

Deciding to head to London, Corinna dons a male disguise. Travelling alone as a young woman risks scandal and danger, but when, masquerading as a youth, she is befriended by three dashing blades, handsome and capable Alick Wolfe, dandy Ferdinand Shilton and the incorrigible Lord Purfoy, Corinna now has access to the male-only world of Regency England. And when she meets Alick's turbulent brother Darius, a betrayal of trust leads to deadly combat which only one of the brothers may survive.

From gambling in gentleman’s clubs to meeting the courtesans of Covent Garden, Corinna’s country naivety soon falls away. But when she finds her father at last, learns the truth about her parentage and discovers her fortunes transformed, she must quickly decide how to reveal her true identity, while hoping that one young man in particular can see her for the beauty and Lady she really is.

πŸ“– My Review..

Since her mother died, Corinna Ormesby has lived a quiet life in the country with her cousin however, in order to escape a tedious marriage Corinna sets off for London cleverly disguised as a boy. On her adventurous and rather scandalous journey for a young woman in Regency England, Corinna meets three dashingly handsome young men who come to her rescue on more than one occasion. Quickly immersed in London's high society Corinna must keep up the pretence of being a young man about town but this proves harder than expected especially when she learns something important about her past.

This is a really lovely Regency story. I especially enjoyed getting to know Corinna, she's a feisty heroine, and the young beaus who surround her with so much eloquence, grace and good humour bring a real sense of fun to the story. There are twists and turns aplenty which bring to life all the subtle nuances of Regency life. The freedom afforded to young men is well detailed especially as men seem to have all the fun whilst young women are seen either as a scandalous diversion or as suitable marriage material. There's a more serious side to the story which develops well and I enjoyed understanding a little more about Corinna's past and the revealing of her relationship with a father she thought she had lost is done with a nice gentle touch.

An Unsuitable Heiress is a fun-filled romp through Regency England, with a smattering of romance, a sense of adventure and a wonderful heroin at its core. What's not to like πŸ˜‰

About the Author

Jane Dunn is an historian and biographer and the author of seven acclaimed biographies, including Daphne du Maurier and her Sisters and the Sunday Times and NYT bestseller, Elizabeth & Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens. She comes to Boldwood with her first fiction outing – a trilogy of novels set in the Regency period, the first of which is to be published in January 2023. She lives in Berkshire with her husband, the linguist Nicholas Ostler.

Twitter @JaneDunnAuthor #AnUnsuitableHeiress

@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers


Friday 26 May 2023

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Slaughter House Farm by T. Orr Munro


Harper Collins
25 May 2023

CSI Ally Dymond #2

My thanks to the publishers for the invitation to read this book

A family secret worth killing for…

In the dead of night, 72-year-old Miriam Narracott is found wandering on Exmoor, holding a knife and covered in blood. Inside the family farmhouse lies the body of her adult son, Gabe.

CSI Ally Dymond is on compassionate leave, but when approached by the new DI, recently arrived from London and eager to have Ally's keen eye and local knowledge on the case, she finds herself being drawn back in.

With their only suspect Miriam unwilling – or unable – to talk, the team must dig into the family’s history to uncover a motive. Instead they find evidence that Gabe was involved with a criminal network, suggesting a completely different chain of events. But if Miriam isn’t the killer – then who is?

πŸ“– My Review ..

Late one night 72 year-old Miriam Narracott is found wandering Exmoor with a knife in her hands and covered in blood. When the body of her son Gabe is found on the kitchen floor of the farmhouse they shared, Miriam is the prime suspect for the murder, the only problem is that Miriam is unable to tell the detectives what actually happened on this fateful night. 

CSI Ally Dymond is still on leave following the catastrophic events which took place in the first book in the series and we pretty much pick up Ally's life just a few short months after Breakneck Point ended, so that those who are familiar with Ally's story will understand her reticence about returning to work or of leaving her teenage daughter alone for long. 

As with the first book, the story moves along at a cracking pace especially when a new DI approaches Ally for the expertise of her local knowledge and her ability to get right into the centre of the action. Slaughter House Farm is a tense and intricately plotted thriller which has everything I have come to enjoy in this author's books, there are twists and turns aplenty, more than enough secrets and sub-plots to keep you guessing, and at its heart is CSI Ally Dymond, a feisty investigator, who, regardless of her wish to live a quiet life seems to get swept up in intrigue and danger.

There is much to enjoy in this crime series, which has the possibility to run and run and whilst Slaughter House Farm can be read as a standalone, it does make sense to start with Breakneck Point. 

About the Author

Tina Orr Munro is a journalist, specialising in writing about policing and security. In another life, she was a police scenes of crime officer. She lives in North Devon.

Twitter @TinaOrrMunro #SlaughterhouseFarm 


Thursday 25 May 2023

πŸ“– Publication Day Review ~ The Last Dance by Mark Billingham

25 May 2023

Detective Miller #1

My thanks to the publisher and Laura Sherlock PR for my copy of this book


Meet Detective Miller: unique, unconventional, and criminally underestimated...

A double murder in a seaside hotel sees grieving Detective Miller return to work to solve what appears to be a case of mistaken identity. Will this eccentric, offbeat sleuth find answers where more traditional police have found only a puzzle?

πŸ“– My Review..

In this first book of a new series we are introduced to Detective Declan Miller, who it must be said, has a rather unconventional approach to policing, but whose thoroughness and ability to leave no stone unturned makes him what matters, that is, a good copper and an altogether decent bloke. 

At the start of the novel Miller is recently returned to work, the reasons for this are slowly and thoughtfully unraveled, and his first job is to investigate a double murder which takes place on his home patch in the seaside town of Blackpool. What then follows is a tight and well controlled crime novel which has numerous red herrings, umpteen loose ends and more than enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. Rather unexpectedly, and away from his maverick style of policing, Declan Miller has a passion for ballroom, well, after all,  this is set in Blackpool, home of ballroom dancing, and so it is this softer side of his nature which allows us a tantalising glimpse into the man and the reasons for his, at times, unbearable sadness.

I'm not going to spoil The Last Dance by giving you the ins and outs of the plot, that's for you to find out for yourself but I have enjoyed spending time with Declan Miller, he's a detective I'd like to know more about and if the buzz of excitement on social media about this new series is anything to go off I would hope that Miller makes another appearance very soon.

About the Author

Mark Billingham was born and brought up in Birmingham. Having worked for some years as an actor and more recently as a TV writer and stand-up comedian his first crime novel was published in 2001. Mark lives in North London with his wife and two children.

Twitter @MarkBillingham #TheLastDance



πŸ“– Paperback Publication Day ~ Deception by Lesley Pearse


Penguin Michael Joseph
25 May 2023

My thanks to the publisher and edpr 

What happens when you learn the person closest to you has led a life of deception? After her mother’s funeral, Alice Kent is approached by a stranger called Angus Tweedy – a man who claims to be her real father. But why now? What could Angus hope to gain, thirty years on? As Alice wrestles with the possibility that her much-loved dad Ralph is not her real father, her quest for the truth takes her on a journey into the past. As she unravels the secrets her mother kept so desperately hidden, whatever the cost, a very different woman is unveiled; a woman shaped by trauma and poverty, and a childhood beyond her daughter’s imagination.

πŸ“– My Review..

When Alice Kent is approached by a stranger at her mother's funeral claiming to be Alice's father it opens up so many secrets about her mother's life that Alice doesn't really know where to start to get to grips with it all. Not wanting to upset the man she considers her father, or her young sister, Alice decides to trace her mother's life and so a story emerges of a woman who did what she had to do in order to survive.

Deception takes the concept of thinking we know everything there is to know about someone we love and yet as Alice discovers underneath is a story of secrets, lies and heartbreak. This is the kind of story which this talented author does so well, she knows how to build up the tension whilst at the same time giving us a story which really tugs away at the heartstrings. The poverty of the nineteen-fifties and the relative freedom of the swinging sixties is very much at the heart of the novel and I enjoyed following Alice's journey as she goes back in time to discover who exactly was the woman she called her mother.

What is always guaranteed with a Lesley Pearse novel is great entertainment and this thirtieth novel in her repertoire is certainly no exception as, right from the start, Deception captured my imagination and became a fascinating read about a woman who took the chances life gave her and made the best of what she had.

About the Author

© Charlotte Murphy 2014

Lesley Pearse is a global No.1 bestseller with fans across the world and sales of over 10 million copies of her books to date; this year she celebrates the publication of her highly anticipated 30th novel. One of the nation’s best-loved storytellers – a Lesley Pearse book is sold every 4 minutes in the UK – Lesley is a master of the gripping storyline, always introducing her readers to characters that are impossible to forget. Although there is no set formula or easily defined genre for a Lesley Pearse novel, strong heroines and jeopardy are pervasive, and she always engages the reader completely. 

Deception is Lesley’s 30th bestselling novel.

Twitter @LesleyPearse #LoveLesley30 #Deception



Wednesday 24 May 2023

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop


Bantam Press
25 May

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Rachel has been in love with Alistair since she was seventeen. Even though she hasn't seen him for sixteen years and she's now married to someone else. Even though she was a teenager when they met. Even though he is twenty years older than her. She's found it impossible to forget their summer together on a remote, sun-trapped Greek island. Until now.

When Rachel unexpectedly reconnects with a girl that she knew back then, she is forced to re-examine her memories of that golden summer and confront the truth about her relationship with Alistair and about her time working for an enigmatic and wealthy man on the island. And when Alistair returns, the pull of the past could prove impossible to resist...

πŸ“– My Review..

Rachel fell in love with Alistair when she was seventeen and on the adventure of her life. Travelling with her friend Caroline they arrive at a small Greek island where Rachel, in particular, is soon captivated by island life. Rachel decides to stay on the island, finding work and friendship but always in thrall to the much older Alistair and whatever he wants Rachel does unquestioningly even when it means she is drawn into a world she is neither prepared for nor understands.

I was quickly immersed in Rachel's story and felt more than once that I just wanted her to see sense and go home but of course, we've all been a naive seventeen, in love for the first time and unwilling to listen to anyone's advice. The story moves between two time frames so we meet, in the present day, a more mature Rachel, her dissatisfaction all too obvious, and her character rather jaded from the bright and beautiful seventeen year old who was in love with life on a sparkling Greek island. Gradually over the space of the story we learn that all was not idyllic on the island hideaway.

The Girls of Summer is a thought provoking #MeToo read which I devoured in the space of a couple of sittings as I couldn't book the book down. It would be a really good immersive summer read, especially if you are heading to the Greek islands for some sunshine. The Girls of Summer takes the idea of a classic holiday romance and turns it into something much darker and deeper, highlighting the nature of a coercive relationship and the ambiguity of consent and control. 

About the Author

Katie Bishop is a writer and journalist based in Birmingham, UK. She grew up in the Midlands before moving to Oxford to work in publishing in her early twenties. Whilst working as an assistant editor she started writing articles in her spare time, going on to be published in the New York Times, Guardian, Independent and Vogue.

Katie started writing The Girls of Summer during the first UK COVID lockdown, after becoming increasingly interested in stories emerging from the #MeToo movement. The novel is inspired by her own experiences of backpacking, and by her interest in how personal narratives can be reshaped and understood in light of cultural and social changes.

In 2020, Katie moved back to the Midlands, and now lives in Birmingham with her partner. She is a full-time writer.

Twitter @WhatKatieBWrote #GirlsofSummer


Thursday 18 May 2023

🎧 Audio Book Review ~ Guard Her With Your Life by Joy Ellis ( Narrated by Tom Bateman)


6 April 2023

My thanks to Audible and Midas for this audio book

Audible, a world-wide leader in spoken-word entertainment, has launched this gripping thriller from Joy Ellis, author of the hit Jackman and Evans series from Joffe Books. Audible acquired World English audio rights from Lorella Belli at the Lorella Belli Literary Agency. This new story is narrated by Tom Bateman, best known for the series Da Vinci’s Demons and the film Murder on the Orient Express.

Guard Her with Your Life is a new standalone thriller which tells the story of Detective Sam Helsdown. Sam hasn’t seen his daughter Zoe in two years and he’s excited and more than a little nervous to be at the airport picking her up for a visit. She’s 10 years old and has flown on her own for the first time.

Flight BA631 from Athens has already landed and soon a trickle of people begins entering Arrivals. Among them is a little girl who runs towards him, head down, and throws herself into his arms saying ‘Daddy!’.

The only problem is – it’s not his daughter.

Shortly afterwards Sam receives a phone call from his ex, Julia. ‘Help will come. Until then, guard her with your life.’

Soon unknown enemies are closing in and Sam must risk everything to keep this girl safe – and to discover her true identity.

Joy Ellis, author of Guard Her with Your Life said: “I’m so excited that Guard Her With Your Life is narrated by the star Tom Bateman. I have received such support for Jackman and Evans, I hope everyone is gripped by Detective Sam Helsdown just as much as I was writing his adventure.”

Tom Bateman said: “Narrating a thriller like Guard Her with Your Life was such a great experience, taking the listener on a journey full of twists and turns until the big reveal. I’m so pleased to be working with Joy Ellis and Audible on bringing this captivating story to life. I was hooked from the beginning and I’m sure listeners will be too.”

πŸ“– 🎧 My Review..

Detective Sam Helsdown is excited, and also apprehensive, about meeting his ten year old daughter, Zoe at the airport as he hasn't, thanks to the acrimonious relationship he has with his ex-wife, seen Zoe for two years.  When the little girl arrives unaccompanied Sam is shocked when she greets him as "daddy" because the girl in front of him isn't Zoe. What then follows is an interesting stand-alone thriller which sees Sam tested to the limit but at the same time never forgetting that at the centre of the story is a child who Sam has been told to guard with his life.

Overall I enjoyed listening to this audio novella, it's quite a quick listen, at just over three hours, so the plot moves along quickly however, whilst Tom Bateman is an interesting narrator, for me, his voice did come across as quite bland and I found my attention wandering a bit. This is the first book I have read by this author and I would be interested in reading more of her work, particularly her Fenland series which I have heard are rather good.

About the Author

Joy Ellis is a crime author from Lincolnshire who, once a florist, joined Joffe Books in 2016. She has written three series, totalling 30 books, all of which are available on Audible. Joy Ellis has sold over 3.6 million copies of her books in English across all formats and her books have been translated into 14 languages.

The Jackman and Evans series is currently being developed for television, starring Richard Armitage as DI Rowan Jackman.

About Audible

Audible, an Amazon company, is a leading creator and provider of premium audio storytelling, offering customers a new way to enhance and enrich their lives every day. content includes more than 700,000 audiobooks, podcasts, and Audible Originals. Audible has millions of members around the world who subscribe to one of 10 localised services designed for customers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK, and the US. Audible members download nearly 4 billion hours of content annually and listen across a wide range of supported devices.

@audibleuk @midascampaigns

Wednesday 17 May 2023

πŸ“– Book Reviews ~ The Counterfeit Candidate / The FΓΌhrer's Prophecy by Brian Klein


Level Best Books
The Reich Trilogy #1

My thanks to the publishers and
Graeme Williams Marketing for my copy of the book

Berlin, 30th April, 1945

As the Russian Army closes in on the war-torn City, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun take their own lives. Their bodies are burned and buried in the Reich Chancellery garden, above the FΓΌhrer's bunker. 

Buenos Aires, 9th January, 2012 Three audacious thieves carry out the biggest safe depository heist in Argentine history, escaping with more than one hundred million dollars' worth of valuables. Within hours, an encrypted phone call to America triggers a blood-soaked manhunt as the thieves are tracked down, systematically tortured, then murdered. 

San Francisco, 18th January, 2012 Senator John Franklin, hailed as the 'Great Unifier', secures the Republican Presidential nomination and seems destined for the Oval Office. Despite the sixty-seven year interval and a span of thirteen thousand miles, these events are indelibly linked. Chief Inspector Nicolas Vargas of the Buenos Aires Police Department and Lieutenant Troy Hembury of the LAPD are sucked into a dark political conspiracy concealing an incredible historical truth stretching from the infamous Berlin bunker to Buenos Aires and to Washington, which threatens the very heart and soul of American democracy.

    πŸ“– My Review..

    A spectacular safe depository heist in 2012 sets the scene for this fast action dual time thriller which takes us from the police departments of Buenos Aires, to the presidential candidate race in the USA and then further back in time to the last days of war torn Germany. The premise of the story, and I don't want to give away any spoilers, is that everything we thought about the final days of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun is about to be reimagined.

    The story moves along at a fast and determined pace and there is much to take in in terms of plot and malevolence, in fact there are some truly unlikable characters but all credit to the author for making this such an intriguing read. I enjoyed the way the story flipped around in time and became increasingly fond of the two detectives Chief Inspector Nicolas Vargas of the Buenos Aires Police Department and his American counterpart, Lieutenant Troy Hembury of the LAPD who really do have to keep their wits about them especially when the action really starts to heat up.

The Counterfeit Candidate is a well imagine thriller which spins the alternate history theory on its head and gives us a real page-turner of an adventure.

Level Best Books
The Reich Trilogy #2

My thanks to the publishers and
Graeme Williams Marketing for my copy of the book

30 January 1939. Adolf Hitler makes an infamous speech at the Reichstag threatening “The annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe”. This vile public proclamation is seized upon by his fanatical supporters who christen it “The FΓΌhrer’s Prophecy”.

November 1943. A sinister plot hatched inside Block 10 of the notorious Auschwitz deathcamp is known only to a handful of Nazis as Operation Gesamtkunstwerk. It’s a plan originated by Hitler, Himmler and Mengele and now, almost eighty years later, it’s finally ready to be actioned by the direct descendants of the FΓΌhrer.

April 2022. As the world emerges from the Covid pandemic, an encrypted zoom call involving five participants, based across four continents, approves a plan that could have unimaginable consequences for the State of Israel. Chief Inspector Nicolas Vargas of the Buenos Aires Police Department and Lieutenant Troy Hembury of the LAPD join forces with Lea Katz, an elite Mossad agent, in a race against time to try and prevent the unthinkable consequences of Operation Gesamtkunstwerk.

πŸ“– My Review..

The FΓΌhrer's Prophecy is the second book in the Reich trilogy and this story pretty much picks up where the first book finished so it is better to read the trilogy in order. We stay in close connection with the Buenos Aires police department as they seek to keep one step ahead of a group of individuals who are caught up with the The FΓΌhrer's Prophecy which was outlined in Hitler's speech at the Reichstag in 1939.

Catching up with the characters from the previous book, particularly Chief Inspector Nicolas Vargas of the Buenos Aires Police Department and his American counterpart, Lieutenant Troy Hembury of the LAPD gave the book a nice sense of continuity.  There is just as much intrigue and action which kept me turning the pages however whilst the premise of the book was just as fast flowing I didn't warm to the plot quite as much as in the first book but overall that didn't spoil my enjoyment of the story. There's a sense of the tying up of some loose ends which lends itself to the conclusion of the trilogy which I am sure will see one character, in particular, get his final comeuppance.

About the Author

Brian is an award-winning Television Director, with over twenty-five years' experience in the industry. His work regularly appears on Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC and Sky. Amongst his directing credits are twenty-five seasons of the iconic car show, Top Gear and five seasons of A League of their Own Road Trip, Sky One's highest rating entertainment show. He has directed two feature-length films for BBC Worldwide and five entertainment specials for Netflix.

Twitter @LevelBestBooks

Sunday 14 May 2023

Indie Book Awards 2023 Shortlist Revealed


The Best Summer Reads as Picked by Independent Bookshops

Indie Book Awards 2023 Shortlist Revealed

Douglas Stuart, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Richard E Grant, Rachel Bright & Jim Field, Katherine Rundell, Kamila Shamsie, Louie Stowell and Jarvis among shortlisted authors
Best paperbacks for the summer selected by indie booksellers

Winners announced on Scala Radio on Friday 23 June

The shortlist for the Indie Book Awards 2023, the annual awards curated exclusively by independent bookshops as part of Independent Bookshop Week (IBW, 17-24 June 2023), has been announced.

The awards celebrate the best paperbacks of the summer across four categories – Fiction, Non-Fiction, Children’s Fiction and Picture Book – and are curated exclusively by the expertise of independent booksellers. The Indie Book Awards are part of Independent Bookshop Week, the annual campaign celebrating indie bookshops in the UK and Ireland between 17 and 24 June, organised by the Booksellers Association.

This year’s shortlist includes the Booker Prize-winning author Douglas Stuart (Young Mungo), Oscar-nominated actor from Withnail and I and Can You Ever Forgive Me? Richard E. Grant (A Pocketful of Happiness), Women Prize-shortlisted author Barbara Kingsolver (Demon Copperhead), comedian, actor and writer Robin Ince (The Importance of Being Interested: Adventures in Scientific Curiosity), Nigerian writer named among the “BBC's 100 women of 2021” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Notes on Grief) and international best-selling fantasty author A F Steadman (Skandar and the Unicorn Thief).

A judging panel of independent booksellers will decide on the four winners, to be announced on Friday 23 June, the penultimate day of Independent Bookshop Week. The winners will be announced exclusively on Scala Radio, the official media partner of the Indie Book Awards, by Penny Smith at 10:30am.

The full Indie Book Awards 2023 shortlist:


Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (Faber & Faber)

You Made a Fool Out of Death With Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi (Faber & Faber)

Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury Circus)

The Leviathan by Rosie Andrews (Raven Books)

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart (Picador)

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel (Picador)


Super Infinite by Katherine Rundell (Faber & Faber)

The Instant by Amy Liptrot (Canongate Books)

A Pocketful of Happiness by Richard E Grant (Simon & Schuster UK)

The Importance of Being Interested: Adventures in Scientific Curiosity by Robin Ince (Atlantic Books)

Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Fourth Estate)

Consumed: The Need for Collective Change; Colonialism, Climate Change & Consumerism by Aja Barber (Brazen)


The Lost Whale by Hannah Gold, illustrated by Levi Pinfold (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Hedgewitch by Skye McKenna (Welbeck Flame)

Marv and the Pool of Peril by Alex Falase-Koya, pictures by Paula Bowles (Oxford University Press)

Skandar and the Unicorn Thief by A F Steadman (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)

The Elemental Detectives by Patrice Lawrence (Scholastic)

Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Ruling the World by Louie Stowell (Walker Books)


A Hero Like Me by Jen Reid and Angela Joy, illustrated by Leire Salaberria (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)

John Agard’s Windrush Child by John Agard, illustrated by Sophie Bass (Walker Books)

The Boy With Flowers in His Hair by Jarvis (Walker Books)

Frank and Bert: The One Where Bert Learns to Ride a Bike by Chris Naylor-Ballesteros (Nosy Crow)

The Gecko and the Echo by Rachel Bright & Jim Field (Orchard Books)

Timid by Harry Woodgate (Little Tiger)

The Adult categories judging panel consists of Tom Rowley (Backstory, London), Olivia Rosenthall (Maldon Books), Nik Lowe (The Book Stop, St Helens), Lizz de Saulles (Max Minerva’s Marvellous Books & More, Bristol), Mel Griffin (Griffin Books, Penarth).

The Children’s categories will be judged by Alan Flack (The Wonky Tree Bookshop, Leyburn), Liz Tye (Next Page Books, Hitchin), Kayleigh Diggle (Liznojan Books, Tiverton), Emma Corfield-Walters (Book-ish, Crickhowell).

Hannah Gold, author of The Lost Whale, said: “To be shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards for the second-year running is such a huge honour! The Lost Whale covers topics especially close to my heart - the devastating impact of humans on our beautiful marine life but also on a more positive note, the beneficial effects of nature upon our mental health. I call it my love letter to the ocean and I feel especially touched by the support of the independent booksellers, not just of my writing, but also of my goal to ignite a passion for the environment in the hearts of our children. Over the past two years, I have loved seeing my relationship with independent booksellers grow and flourish and one of my favourite things is going to visit them - especially when they offer cake! They really are the true champions of the high street, especially in children's publishing - often hand selling books to their community and being a beacon of hope and compassion in difficult times.”

Skye McKenna, author of Hedgewitch, said: “Independent bookshops are vital to our communities, helping children to develop a love for reading with personal recommendations and providing a safe space for them to explore and discover. Indies across the UK have been incredibly supportive of my debut novel, Hedgewitch, and I've loved working with them to deliver events and book clubs throughout the year. I am delighted to be shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards 2023 and look forward to meeting more brilliant independent booksellers.”

Amy Liptrot, author of The Instant, said: “I’m really pleased to hear that my book The Instant is up for an Indie Book Award. Individual booksellers have been so important in spreading the word about my books and I’ve often been encouraged just when I’ve needed it by their support, so it’s great that this prize is voted for by them.”

Jen Reid, author of A Hero Like Me, alongside Angela Joy, said: “I was both proud and very excited to learn that A Hero Like Me had been shortlisted for the Indie Book Awards. I cannot wait to share my inspiring story with the younger generations and I hope this beautiful book will inspire them.”

Emily St John Mandel, author of Sea of Tranquility, said: "I am thrilled and honoured to be shortlisted! My first three books were published by a very small press in North America—I didn't even have a UK publisher for them—and independent booksellers championed those books at a time when very few people read my work. I remain immensely grateful for that, and as a reader, there are few spaces I love more than independent bookshops."

Emma Bradshaw, Head of Campaigns at the Booksellers Association, said: “We are delighted to celebrate the best paperback reads of the summer in the shortlist of the Indie Book Awards. This year’s shortlist is full of brilliant authors and as they are judged by independent booksellers, you can be sure they’ll be spot-on recommendations for your summer reading list – spanning throught-proviking non-fiction, absorbing novels, delightful picture books and entertaining children’s fiction. We encourage all book-lovers to explore the shortlist, and maybe grab a book or two from your nearest indie bookshop.”

For more information about the Indie Book Awards and previous winners, please visit

Follow the latest developments via social media: #IndieBookshopWeek #IndieBookAwards @BooksAreMyBag

About Independent Bookshop Week (IBW)

Independent Bookshop Week (IBW) was launched in 2006 and is part of the Books Are My Bag campaign. It is a celebration of independent bookshops nationwide, and the role ‘indies’ play in their communities. At the end of 2022, the number of independent bookshops in BA membership grew to 1072 shops, up from 867 in 2016. The headline sponsor of Independent Bookshop Week is Hachette UK.

About the Indie Book Awards

Formerly known as the Independent Bookshop Week Book Awards, the Indie Book Awards are voted for by independent bookshops and judged by a panel of independent booksellers.

Saturday 13 May 2023

Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize 2023 ~ Winner !



Nigerian writer Arinze Ifeakandu has been awarded one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers – the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize – for his ‘exhilarating’ debut God’s Children Are Little Broken Things, a stunning short fiction collection, whose nine stories simmer with loneliness and love, and depict what it means to be gay in contemporary Nigeria.

25 May 2023

Described as ‘gorgeous…full of subtlety, wisdom and heart’ by Sarah Waters, ‘quietly transgressive’ by Damon Galgut and awarded the 2022 Republic of Consciousness Prize, God’s Children Are Little Broken Things has established twenty-eight-year-old Ifeakandu as a vital new voice in literary fiction.

Ifeakandu was awarded the prestigious £20,000 Prize for God’s Children Are Little Broken Things (Orion, Weidenfeld & Nicolson) at a ceremony held in Swansea on Thursday 11 May, prior to International Dylan Thomas Day on Sunday 14 May, with November 2023 marking seventy years since the Welsh poet’s death.

Chair of Judges, Di Speirs, said:

‘We were unanimous in our praise and admiration for this exhilarating collection of nine stories. Arinze Ifeakandu’s debut shines with maturity, the writing bold, refreshing and exacting but never afraid to linger and to allow characters and situations to develop and change, so that the longer stories are almost novels in themselves. A kaleidoscopic reflection of queer life and love in Nigeria, the constraints, the dangers and the humanity, this is a collection that we wanted to press into many readers’ hands around the world and which left us excited to know what Arinze Ifeakandu will write next.’

Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the Prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories, and drama.

The other titles shortlisted for the 2023 Prize were: Limberlost by Robbie Arnott (Atlantic Books), Seven Steeples by Sara Baume (Tramp Press), I’m a Fan by Sheena Patel (Rough Trade Books/Granta), Send Nudes by Saba Sams (Bloomsbury Publishing), and Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire (Chatto & Windus, Vintage).

Arinze Ifeakandu joins an illustrious list of writers to have been awarded this prestigious Prize, including Raven Leilani, Bryan Washington, Guy Gunaratne, Kayo Chingonyi, Fiona McFarlane and Max Porter.

This year’s prize is particularly poignant as it coincides with the 70th anniversary of Dylan Thomas’ death, who passed away in November 1953 aged 39.

The paperback of God’s Children Are Little Broken Things will be published on 25 May.

About the Author

Arinze Ifeakandu was born in Kano, Nigeria. An AKO Caine Prize for African Writing finalist and A Public Space Writing Fellow, he is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His work has appeared in A Public Space, One Story, and Guernica. God's Children Are Little Broken Things is his first book.


Launched in 2006, the annual Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize is one of the most prestigious awards for young writers, aimed at encouraging raw creative talent worldwide. It celebrates and nurtures international literary excellence. Worth £20,000, it is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes as well as one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers. Awarded for the best published literary work in the English language, written by an author aged 39 or under, the Prize celebrates the international world of fiction in all its forms including poetry, novels, short stories and drama. The Prize is named after the Swansea-born writer, Dylan Thomas, and celebrates his 39 years of creativity and productivity. One of the most influential, internationally renowned writers of the mid-twentieth century, the Prize invokes his memory to support the writers of today and nurture the talents of tomorrow.

Friday 12 May 2023

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Forgotten Garden by Sharon Gosling

Simon Schuster
27 April 2023

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

A novel of second chances and blossoming communities from the author of The Lighthouse Bookshop.

Successful landscape architect Luisa MacGregor has finally got the green light to go ahead with a charity project she’s been working on for years: taking parcels of land in deprived areas and building gardens that can involve the community.

Arriving in a rundown seaside town on the north-west coast of Cumbria, she realises that her work is going to be cut out for her. But, along with Cas, a local PE teacher, and Harper, a teen whose life has taken a wrong turn, she is determined to get the garden up and running.

So when the community comes together and the garden starts to grow, she feels her luck might have changed. Can she grow good things on this rocky ground? And might love blossom along the way…?

 πŸ“– My Review..

The charity garden project in the run down Cumbrian town of Collaton offers a much needed lifeline for more than one person in this small community. Luisa MacGregor is the landscape architect who has a vision for the garden but she can't take on this mammoth project alone and needs to rely on the goodwill of the townsfolk, some of whom are more enthusiastic than others however, with the help of local teacher Cas and troubled teenager Harper, Luisa begins to think that this dream could become a possibility.

This beautifully written story unfolds in a lovely descriptive way and pretty soon I was as much invested in the garden project as was Luisa and her helpers. The small Cumbrian town is brought vividly to life, with its areas of social deprivation and inevitable troubled thuggery, and yet it also offers a glimmer of hope as the community realise that pulling together is better than allowing events to pull them apart.

The author brings to life both the joy and challenges of being involved in a community project and infuses the story with warmth, wit, a smattering of will they, won't they romance and some hidden dangers which all combine to make The Forgotten Garden a lovely immersive read and one I enjoyed so much I raced through the book in the space of just a couple of rainy afternoons.

About the Author

Sharon started her career as an entertainment journalist, writing non-fiction books about film and television. She is also the author of multiple children’s books. Sharon and her husband live in a small village in northern Cumbria where they run a second-hand bookshop, Withnail Books in Penrith.

Twitter @sharongosling #TheForgottenGarden