Thursday 31 August 2023

📖 Publication Day Book Review ~ One Armed Jack : Uncovering The Real Jack the Ripper by Sarah Bax Horton


Michael O'Mara Books
31 August 2023

My thanks to the publisher and Alison Menzies for my copy of this book

This highly revelatory book, based on original research and completely new analysis, presents a compelling new suspect as the most notorious serial killer of all time. Using a different analytical approach, for the first time, Sarah Bax Horton identifies a named perpetrator as Jack the Ripper by linking eye-witness accounts of the killer’s distinctive physical characteristics to his official medical records. It argues that his broken left arm, which left him unable to work in early 1888, was one of his triggers to kill as part of a serious physical and mental decline caused by severe epilepsy.

This new perpetrator fits the profile as stated by the police of the day: a local man of low class of whom they became aware after the final murder, when they launched an unsuccessful surveillance operation against him. As has never been done before, the author – an experienced former government researcher with specific expertise in research and analysis – formulates a complete analysis of the killer and his methodology, including how he accosted his victims, where he took them to their deaths, his unique modus operandi of a blitz-style attack, and how he escaped from each crime scene without detection.

Each of the six murders – from Martha Tabram to Marie Kelly – is discussed and reconstructed as perpetrated by this man, with his escalating violence clearly demonstrated.

📖 My Review..

Profiling 'Jack the Ripper' is as fascinating today as it was during that fateful period in the East End of London when the horrific murders were taking place. This account looks in considerable detail not only into the character of 'One Armed Jack' who very much fits the description given by some witnesses but it also brings into sharp focus each of the murders and the subsequent inquests which took place. In using considerable research a profile emerges of a man who could very much be responsible and the author does a convincing job in putting forward her findings so that a realistic picture of a violent, and unstable, criminal emerges in precise detail.

I found the book fascinating and very quickly became immersed in what it was like to live in the squalid conditions around Whitechapel in the 1880s. The women who plied their trade as sex workers eking out a meagre existence for a few pennies and a tot of gin never stood a chance against a man who was hellbent on murder. It was interesting to have the Victorian policing methods brought to life and to read witness statements gathered at the time and presented at each of the the inquests of the murder victims. Whilst the police methods were as good as they could be at the time, I did wonder just what those Victorian police officers would make of our modern day forensic science teams.

The author writes well and puts forward her analysis with great attention to detail so that by the end of the book I was convinced by her argument that this man could be responsible. Over one hundred and thirty-five years later we still have a morbid fascination for the events which took place in Victorian London and the names of the unfortunate victims of Jack the Ripper will never be forgotten.

About the Author

Sarah Bax Horton is a former civil servant who worked for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office for over twenty years. She has an MA honours degree in English and Foreign Languages from Somerville College Oxford. Her interest in genealogy and a family member related to the Jack the Ripper case inspired her to research the lives of the personalities involved.

Twitter #onearmedjack


Wednesday 30 August 2023

📚Summer Book Bingo Challenge 2023

I've enjoyed doing this Book Bingo challenge over July and August

An author you’ve not read before

The Housekeepers
Alex Hay
A book with a colourful cover

The Forgotten Shore 
Sarah Maine

An audio book

The Last Remains Elly Griffiths

Set in the UK

The Palace Girls Emma Royal

A book set at the seaside

Love on the Island
Jessica Gilmore
Recommended by someone

Fair Rosaline Natasha Solomons
A Book of Poetry

Ten Poems about Trains Candlestick Press

A book that surprised me - in a good way

Ayikwei Parkes

Set abroad

The Summer Holiday 
S E Lynes

A book from my wish-list

The Witching Tide Margaret Meyer

It's a mystery!

Unnatural Ends Christopher Huang
First book in a new series

Hell Bay 
Kate Rhodes

True Crime

One Armed Jack
Sarah Bax Horton
Chosen with your eyes closed from book shelf 7th book along

Waiting to Begin Amanda Prowse

A feel-good book 

Happy Ever After for the Cornish Midwife 
Jo Bartlett

A crime novel

The Nurse 
Valerie Keogh
Set before 1900

The Square of Sevens 
Laura Shepherd Robinson
 A book you're
excited about

All of Us are Broken 
Fiona Cummins

Just published in 2023

The Midwives' War
Chrissie Walsh
A book with a person's name in the title

Lady MacBethad Isabelle Schuler

A Book with Summer in the title

Bad Summer People 
By a female author

Digging for Victory at Rookery House 
Rosie Hendry

By a male author

The Unforgiven Dead 
Fulton Ross

By a favourite author

Lesley Pearse

A book that made me smile

The Start of Something Wonderful 
Jessica Redland


Tuesday 29 August 2023

📖 Publication Day Review ~ The Stockwell Letters by Jacqueline Friedland


Spark Press
August 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Shortly before her twenty-fourth birthday, Ann’s abolitionist activism was put on hold due to a mysterious illness. Her husband, the famous abolitionist Wendell Phillips, forbade Ann from any anti-slavery outings in an attempt to preserve her health. However, when escaped slave Anthony Burns is caught in Boston, Ann is determined to help him regardless of the cost.

Especially focused on women in the nineteenth century who wished to make social change despite the barriers put in front of them, The Stockwell Letters takes a close look at the antebellum South and the challenges faced by abolitionists in fighting against slavery.

📖 My Review..

Ann and Wendell Phillips were active abolitionists in nineteenth century America and their involvement in anti-slavery forms the basis for this interesting historical novel which also looks at the case of escaped slave, Anthony Burns and the way in which he was sent back to Virginia having made it to the free state of Massachusetts, settling for a short time in Boston. This case attracted much attention at the time and in using factual evidence in combination with well written historical fiction a story emerges which sheds light on this shameful time in history.

The Stockwell Letters is a well researched and thought-provoking story about something I knew very little about which therefore offered me the opportunity to learn more about what life was like in America during the middle part of the nineteenth century and the inhumane treatment of slaves who found themselves on the wrong side of humanity. I felt such sympathy for Anthony Burns and only hoped that his life became easier. Ann and Wendell Phillips are equally fascinating characters who I enjoyed getting to know over the course of the story. The other characters who flit into, and out of, the story also add their own contribution to the overall strength of the narrative.

The Stockwell Letters is one of those well written historical novels which stays with you long after the last page is turned.

Jacqueline Friedland is the USA Today best-selling and multi-award-winning author of He Gets That From Me, That's Not a Thing, and Trouble the Water. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and NYU Law School, she practiced briefly as a commercial litigator in Manhattan and taught Legal Writing and Lawyering Skills at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law. She returned to school after not too long in the legal world, earning her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Jacqueline regularly reviews fiction for trade publications and appears as a guest lecturer. When not writing, she loves to exercise, watch movies with her family, listen to music, make lists, and dream about exotic vacations. She lives in Westchester, New York, with her husband, four children, and two very lovable dogs.

Twitter @jbfriedland #TheStockwellLetters


Monday 28 August 2023

📖 Book Review ~ The Palace Girls by Emma Royal


3 August 2023

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Buckingham Palace, 1951

The nation is on the road to recovery after World War Two. And so is Milly Hendry.

When her parents were killed in the Blitz, she was taken in by her aunt who works in the prestigious Royal Army of Cleaners. Buckingham Palace has since become like home to Milly, and the people she works with like family.

Though tensions in the palace are rising as the King's health is declining, the staff gather below-stairs to celebrate Milly's 21st birthday. But her day quickly takes a turn when some unexpected post arrives.

Could a letter containing secrets from the past change Milly's whole future?

📖  My Review..

I always love the start of a new historical series and The Palace Girls takes us to London in 1951 as we meet and get to know Milly Hendry who lives and works at Buckingham Palace.  Brought up by her Aunt Edie, Milly has lived in the palace since she was a little girl and now at twenty one she is one of an army of domestic servants who keep the palace spic and span. Milly is a sensible young woman but when an unexpected letter arrives on her birthday it changes everything Milly thought she knew about her life with Edie.

This lovely story imagines what life was like for the behind the scenes people who kept Buckingham Palace functioning and even though the royal family have a small supporting role in the story it's mainly about Milly, her friends Caroline and Helen, and the way in which Milly copes with what fate has thrown at her. There's a homely atmosphere to the story as the palace servants are very much a family and although the sumptuous surroundings of the palace are described in detail, it is in the way that the servants scurry about their business and in their relationships with each other which gives the story its heart and soul. Post-war London features strongly in the story and I enjoyed following in Milly's footsteps as she visits the city on her days away from her duties in the palace.

I've really enjoyed being with Milly, Caroline and Helen, and look forward to more adventures with The Palace Girls in future novels.

Emma Royal is the pen name for established romance writer Katie Ginger who also writes as Annabel French. She has always loved historical fiction and has a Masters degree in history. When not writing, she can be found running around after her two children and two dogs along with her husband.

Twitter @authoremmaroyal #ThePalaceGirls


Friday 25 August 2023

📖 Book Review ~ The Last Remains by Elly Griffiths



Ruth Galloway #15

The discovery of a missing woman's bones forces Ruth and Nelson to finally confront their feelings for each other as they desperately work to exonerate one of their own.

When builders discover a human skeleton while renovating a café, they call in archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway, who is preoccupied with the threatened closure of her department and by her ever-complicated relationship with DCI Nelson. The bones turn out to be modern--the remains of Emily Pickering, a young archaeology student who went missing in 2002. Suspicion soon falls on Emily's Cambridge tutor and also on another archeology enthusiast who was part of the group gathered the weekend before she disappeared--Ruth's friend Cathbad.

As they investigate, Nelson and his team uncover a tangled web of relationships within the archaeology group and look for a link between them and the café where Emily's bones were found. Then, just when the team seem to be making progress, Cathbad disappears. The trail leads Ruth a to the Neolithic flint mines in Grimes Graves. The race is on, first to find Cathbad and then to exonerate him, but will Ruth and Nelson uncover the truth in time to save their friend?

📖 My Review...

I've followed this excellent crime series since the beginning and so it was with some sadness that I started The Last Remains as I knew it was the last book and even though the plot is as tight and sharp as ever there is an inevitable sense of closure.  Ruth Galloway is called in to investigate human remains which have been found during renovations to a local cafe. This discovery inevitably involves the police and once again Ruth and DCI Harry Nelson must work closely together but when the clues to the perpetrator lead to someone they know their loyalties are stretched to the limit.

There has been so much to enjoy in this series, not just the archaeological and police mysteries which have been brought to life with so much attention to detail but it is also in the character progression where the emotional involvement in the story really works. I've loved every one of the characters particularly Ruth, Nelson and Cathbad so it was lovely to have this trio feature so strongly in the last book, almost like we have come full circle. The loose ends which were finally tied off felt absolutely right and I finished the book with a real sense of satisfaction of a good story, well told.

I chose to listen to The Last Remains which was excellently narrated by Jane McDowell who has been the narrator for most of the series. 

Elly Griffiths is the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries and the Brighton Mysteries. She has won the CWA Dagger in the Library, has been shortlisted five times for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for The Lantern Men. Her new series featuring Detective Harbinder Kaur began with The Stranger Diaries, which was a Richard and Judy book club pick and won the Edgar Award for Best Novel in the USA. It was followed by The Postscript Murders, shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger and Bleeding Heart Yard. Elly has two grown-up children and lives near Brighton with her archaeologist husband.

@ellygriffiths #TheLastRemains


Thursday 24 August 2023

📖 Book Review ~ Ten Poems about Trains Outbound / Return from Candlestick Press


Candlestick Press
 August 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of these poetry pamphlets

This mini-anthology is the outbound leg of a pair of titles celebrating train travel, and it takes us on some fascinating worldwide adventures.

Again and again the poems dramatise the fact that when we board a train we open ourselves up to unexpected and vivid encounters. Trains can’t help being political; they cover vast distances and experience far more than we ever will:

“Racing on iron errands, the trains go by,
and over the white acres of our orchards
hurl their wild summoning cry, their animal cry…”

from ‘The Trains’ by Judith Wright

Most of all, the selection is alive to the sheer power of trains – their ability to carry us away and also to make us stop in our tracks to take stock of exactly where we are.

Poems by Mahmoud Darwish, Paul Durcan, Langston Hughes, Ada Limón, Edna St Vincent Millay, Alice Duer Miller, André Naffis-Sahely, Mary Ruefle, Declan Ryan and Judith Wright.

Cover illustration by Gail Brodholt.

📖 My Review..

There's something rather special about waiting for an outbound train with the promise of a journey, maybe to see loved ones, or to visit a special place, have a shopping spree, go on an adventurous holiday or quite simply to embark upon the mundane aspect of commuting to work.

In this outbound selection we find poems which reflect the nature of travel each of them expressing the varied way in which train travel influences our lives.

Travel by Edna Vincent Millay sparked my interest

' The railroad track is miles away,
and the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn't a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking..'

The powerful nature of trains is expressed eloquently in Timberland by Mary Ruefle

'..But I'm here, hurtling across the continent with unbelievable speed..'

This lovely selection of ten poems helps us to travel the world whilst at the same time reflect on the power and speed of trains which are so much part of our world that it would be difficult to imagine life without them.

This mini-anthology finds us mostly in the UK after the more distant travels of our accompanying Outbound title.

The selection captures the timeless drama and romance of getting from A to B by train. RL Stevenson’s poem revels breathlessly in the thrill of moving at what was then thought to be high speed:

“Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle…”

from ‘From a Railway Carriage’ by Robert Louis Stevenson

But the abiding spirit of the poems is perhaps a sense of freedom – the fact of being neither here nor there – something that all too briefly allows us to imagine other possibilities and other lives.

Poems by Jonathan Davidson, Khiwani Deepankar, Emily Dickinson, Maura Dooley, Helen Dunmore, David Hart, Cynthia Kitchen, Ian McMillan, Graham Mort and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Cover illustration by Gail Brodholt.

📖 My Review..

Travelling around the UK with this return selection of poems has been such a delight. It was a lovely surprise to see my home town get a mention in Strangers on a Train by Cynthia Kitchen

in Birmingham and Crewe, sigh,
and turn to newspapers and books
the hidden word; 
when you leave at Wigan without a backward look..'

Happiness on the First Train from Barnsley to Huddersfield by Ian McMillan reminded me of train journeys into Yorkshire

'..across that impossibly
beautiful viaduct that I can never
remember the name of , and the light is arriving in the sky as if by slow train,
and now I can remember the name..'

Return train journeys are so much a part of an outbound journey and so these two lovely poetry pamphlets compliment each other and would make a perfect gift or 'instead of a card' for the enthusiastic train traveller in your life.

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Mountains, Clouds, Walking, Birds, Wine and Happiness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

Twitter @poetrycandle

Wednesday 23 August 2023

📖 Blog Tour ~ The Midwives’ War by Chrissie Walsh


Boldwood Books
18 August 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

'See that patch of blue sky, ' he said. 'Whenever you see one, that's where I'll be - thinking of you.'

Against the chaotic backdrop of World War II, Grace Murphy is working as a midwife in Doncaster Royal Infirmary with her two friends, Clodagh and Patsy. In between delivering babies and tending wounded airmen, the girls endure bombing raids, rationing and the hardships and heartbreak that war brings. But in the faces of the new babies she welcomes to the world, Grace always looks for hope, as she dreams of a time when the war will end. 

When the midwives get the chance to go to a dance at the nearby RAF Finningly, they jump at the offer. The hangar is crowded with happy dancing couples but when the glamorous Spitfire pilots saunter in, looking dashing in their leather flying jackets and brightly coloured silk scarves, Grace can't resist taking a peek. And the moment Grace meets pilot, Richard Carmichael, she knows he will capture her heart. With every daring flying raid, Grace and Richard risk losing each other forever. All Grace can do is look out for Richard in the patches of blue sky, and hope that fate will bring them their very own wartime happy-ever-after.

📖My Review

Grace, Clodagh and Patsy share a house in Doncaster where they work as midwives at the local hospital. In their precious time off they enjoy socialising and it is at a dance at RAF Finningly where Grace meets the handsome, and charismatic, spitfire pilot, Richard Carmichael. The life of a fighter pilot is fraught with danger and soon, like all sweethearts during WW2, Grace is caught between worrying about Richard's safety and keeping her spirits up during their absences.

Grace is such a lovely young woman that you can't help but want her life to run smoothly but of course fate has a nasty way of interfering and both Grace and Richard find that they have some difficult decisions to make along the way. Equally both Clodagh and Patsy also have to make the best of what wartime life brings and I enjoyed following them over the course of the story, particularly Clodagh who has her own challenges to face.

Beautifully written from start to finish, and rich in historical detail, The Midwives’ War is a warm and compassionate story about making the best of what life throws at you and of the value of friends who step in when the going gets tough. The author writes with a compassionate look at the intricacies of war-time romances whilst at the same time describing just what life was like during the middle years of the war, when love and life couldn't be taken for granted. This lovely story certainly tugs away at the heartstrings and I was so emotionally invested in the story that I didn't notice time passing.

About the Author

Chrissie Walsh was born and raised in West Yorkshire and is a retired school teacher with a passion for history. She has written several successful sagas documenting feisty women in challenging times for Aria.

Twitter @WalshChrissie #TheMidwivesWar

@BoldwoodBooks @rararesources

Monday 21 August 2023

☼Summer Reading ~ Azúcar by Nii Ayikwei Parkes

Destination ...Caribbean 

Peepal Tree Press Ltd

8 June 2023

My thanks to the publisher and Tory Lyne-Perkis for my copy of this book

Part socio-political satire, part romance, Azúcar (sugar) is the long awaited second novel from the critically acclaimed Ghanaian-British novelist, Nii Ayikwei Parkes (author of award winning novel Tail of the Blue Bird (Jonathan Cape). Set in a world where everything is on the move: people, ideas, food and music, Azúcar is a magic realist tale set on a fictional island in the Caribbean that asks what price we pay to have a place called ‘home’?

Sonada Sun is the sweetest rice in the world, and on the mythical Caribbean Island of Fumaz two young lovers, Ghanaian-born, Caribbean-raised musician Yunior and Caribbean-American college student Emelina Santos, heiress of the Soñada dynasty, lock eyes at a fiesta yards from her family’s city home.

In the ensuring years Yunior and Emelina travel divergent journeys through history, music, myth and heartbreak; confronting the question of what it means to belong to a place or to another person. Several years later the two are united in a quest to save Emelina’s family’s plantation from closure. To succeed they must find a way to bring back to life a plantation with soil so saturated with sugar that it can no longer support crops.

Yunior brings the knowledge of a scientist, the skills of a farmer and the heart of a musician to life in Fumaz. As a farmer, he sees how much of his West African food has journeyed across the Atlantic to make the island’s unique cuisine; as a musician he becomes part of the spirit that puts the island on the world stage, out of all proportion to its size.

Love and death, harmony and conflict are the motives of a set of vividly drawn characters, brought alive by Parkes’ flowing, elegant and heartfelt prose, that alongside people, food and music moves freely back and forth across the seas between Africa and the Caribbean.

📖 My Review..

In ordinary circumstances, Ghanaian-born, Caribbean-raised musician Yunior and Caribbean-American college student Emelina Santos, heiress of the Soñada dynasty, would never have met, that is, until fate brings them together. 

Set on a fictional island in the Caribbean, music, life, love, tragedy and heartbreak bring these two beautiful people together in a lyrical story which looks at the idea of destiny, what it means to be family and of the importance of bringing life back to those who have had hope taken away from them. A short but powerful story I read Azúcar in one sitting and was captured by Yunior's story as he pursues his dream but was also equally invested in Emalina's quest to fulfill her destiny by taking control of her family's sugar-soaked rice plantation. 

In Azúcar two quite separate stories converge and both Yunior and Emelina are lively protagonists however, it is their individualism which brings them together and their very differences which make this into such a compelling and beautifully written story about the need to find the place we call 'home'.

About Nii Ayikwei Parkes

London based Ghanaian-British writer, editor and publisher, Nii Ayikwei Parkes is one of the UK’s leading black voices, winning critical acclaim as a poet, novelist, broadcaster, and children’s author.

His debut novel, Tail of the Blue Bird (Jonathan Cape, 2009), was hailed by the Financial Times as ‘a beautifully written fable… simple in form, but grappling with urgent issues,’ and lauded internationally, becoming a bestseller in Germany and notably winning France's two major prizes for translated fiction – Prix Baudelaire and Prix Laure Bataillon – in 2014. He is also the author of two books for children – The Parade and Tales from Africa – under the pen name K.P. Kojo.

A published poet since 1999, his poem, ‘Tin Roof’, was selected for the Poems on the Underground initiative in 2007, followed by the poem ‘Barter,’ chosen from his first full poetry collection The Makings of You (2010). His 2020 poetry collection The Geez, was longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, shortlisted for the Walcott Prize and was a Poetry Book Society 2020 Recommendation, while his a Ga language book, The Ga Picture Alphabet was shortlisted for the 2021 Jhalak Children’s & YA Prize.

He is the author of the poetry chapbooks: his début eyes of a boy, lips of a man (1999), M is for Madrigal (2004), a selection of seven jazz poems; and Ballast (2009), an imagination of the slave trade by balloon.

In 2001 Nii Ayikwei Parkes founded flipped eye publishing, a UK based publishing house which focuses on voices from the margins of British society. As editor and publisher at flipped eye Nii has played a key role in developing poets including Inua Ellams, Malika Booker and Nick Makoha as well as publishing the débuts of award-winning writers including Roger Robinson, Warsan Shire and Nikesh Shukla.

Nii Ayikwei is the literature programmer for Brighton Festival the city’s annual multi-cultural arts festival and serves on the boards of World Literature Today and the AKO Caine Prize. Previously he has served as a judge for several literature prizes including the Commonwealth Prize, the NSK Neustadt Prize and the Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize. In 2014 he was named one of Africa's 39 most promising authors of the new generation by the World Book Capital Africa 39 Project.

Outside of literature, Nii Ayikwei has written for publications such as the Financial Times, National Geographic, the Guardian and VICE, created adverts for the likes of Guinness and DHL, and modelled for Toyota and Ozwald Boateng.

Twitter @BlueBirdTail


Friday 18 August 2023

📖 Book Review ~Ruin Beach by Kate Rhodes #TeamScilly

Simon &Schuster

DI Ben Kitto #2

My thanks to the publisher and Tracy at Compulsive Readers for my copy of this book

DI Ben Kitto has become the Scilly Islands’ Deputy Chief of Police. As the island’s lazy summer takes hold, he finds himself missing the excitement of the murder squad in London. But when a body is found anchored to the rocks of a nearby cave, it appears he’s spoken too soon. The island of Tresco, and the deep and murky waters that surround it, hold a dark secret. One that someone seems desperate to uncover..

📖 My Review..

This is now the second book in this series and following on from where the first book finished we now see that DI Ben Kitto has decided to remain on his beloved island of Bryher and is enjoying his probationary role as Deputy Commander of the Isles of Scilly Police. With the discovery of a woman's body at Piper's Hole, on the nearby island of Tresco, Ben's investigative skills are, once again, about to be tested to the limit. The macabre aspects of this horrific crime certainly lends a brooding nature to the investigation and Kitto soon discovers that no-one on the island is above suspicion, especially those who knew the victim well.

The Scilly Isles are once again taking centre stage and the vivid description of the island, and island life, are what make these books so fascinating. I'm enjoying getting to know more about Ben Kitto who, I feel, we start to understand a little more in this story and it was good to see the return of familiar characters from the first book, especially Shadow and Eddie. The murder investigation is tightly plotted with more than enough red herrings and twists and turns all of which kept me guessing until all was revealed.

The author writes well and controls an intricate plot with fine attention to detail and a natural way of bringing time and place alive in the imagination. I've really enjoyed spending time on Ruin Beach and look forward to Ben Kitto's company again in Burnt Island which is book number three in this addictive series of crime novels.

About the Author

Kate Rhodes is an acclaimed crime novelist and an award-winning poet. She lives in Cambridge with her husband, the writer and film-maker, Dave Pescod. She visited the Scilly Isles every year as a child which gave her the idea for this new series. She is one of the founders of the Killer Women writing group.

Twitter @K_RhodesWriter #TeamScilly




Thursday 17 August 2023

📖 Book Review ~ Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons


31 July 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Was the greatest love story of all time a lie?

The first time Romeo Montague sees young Rosaline Capulet he falls instantly in love.

Rosaline, headstrong and independent, is unsure of Romeo's attentions but with her father determined that she join a convent, this handsome and charming stranger offers her the chance of a different life.

Soon though, Rosaline begins to doubt all that Romeo has told her. She breaks off the match, only for Romeo's gaze to turn towards her cousin, thirteen-year-old Juliet. Gradually Rosaline realises that it is not only Juliet's reputation at stake, but her life.

With only hours remaining before she will be banished behind the nunnery walls, will Rosaline save Juliet from her Romeo? Or can this story only ever end one way?

A subversive, powerful untelling of Shakespeare's best-known tale, narrated by a fierce, forgotten voice: this is Rosaline's story.

📖 My Review..

The essence of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet will, undoubtedly, stand the test of time. however, in Fair Rosaline, the author gives us an altogether different interpretation of this iconic love story which may not please the purists but hey, this is fiction and is, after all,  just the author’s interpretation of the story.

There is bit of a slow start but then once it picked up pace I enjoyed watching how the story unfolded. The author writes well and there’s enough historical authenticity to help bring the story to life. Looking at the background to the story of ill-fated young lovers is what makes this interesting especially as we look more at Rosaline’s character and her role in this story. Whilst Romeo doesn’t come out of this unblemished what it does show is that women, at this time, in history had very little choice as fathers, lovers and husbands all used them for their own ambition.

Fair Rosaline is an interesting version of a story I thought I knew well so all credit to the author for providing an imaginative re-telling of a much loved classic.

About the Author

Natasha Solomons is a writer and the New York Times bestselling author of The Gallery of Vanished Husbands, The House at Tyneford, and Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English. She lives in Dorset, England, with her husband and their two young children. 

Twitter @natashasolomons #FairRosaline


Monday 14 August 2023

☼Summer Reading ~ Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum


Destination ....Fire Island 

Michael Joseph
8 June 2023

Thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

You are cordially invited to summer on New York State's idyllic Fire Island.
Thirty miles of golden sand:
No traffic. No tourists. No trash.

The city elite gather here every year, trailing kids, their nannies, wine and seafood imported from Manhattan: hard workers need their playtime.

Take the Parkers and the Weinsteins. Lauren and Jen hold sway on the beach and the tennis court. Their husbands are childhood friends bearing grudges as deep as they are secret.

Their lone single friend, Rachel Woolf, is looking to meet her match, whether he's the new tennis pro - or someone else's husband. She's not picky.

And while this season starts out quietly as any other, it soon changes when beneath the boardwalk, a body is found.

☼My Review..

The rich people arrive at their summer residences in Salcombe on Fire Island every year. It is a place where old money mixes with new and where beach side properties have been held by generations of the same family. Into this potent mix comes several families whose annual tolerance of each other is about to be stretched to limit. Bored and dissatisfied with each other the husbands and wives all seem to have something to hide not just from each other but also from the gossipy nature of an island resort where everyone knows everyone else’s business.

The story opens with a discovery of body under the boardwalk an event which leaves Salcombe reeling as crime is rare but as we soon discover no-one is above suspicion. Bad Summer People, with its whip-smart observations about the minutiae of island life, is done so cleverly that it feels like you are waiting in the shadows as this plot takes it’s inevitable trajectory towards tragedy. It’s been a while since I read a story where all of the central characters are totally unlikable but all credit to the author for making each of them so compelling. They are all rich, bored, selfish and self-obsessed and yet so utterly fascinating I couldn’t stop reading and felt a real sense of satisfaction when all the myriad strands came together so cleverly.

Bad Summer People, filled with an abundance of secrets and lies, is a fabulous summer read.

Emma Rosenblum is Chief Content Officer at Bustle Digital Group. Prior to BDG, Emma served as the executive editor of Elle, the editorial director of Bloomberg Pursuits, a senior editor at Bloomberg Businessweek, and a senior editor at Glamour. She began her career at New York Magazine. Bad Summer People is her first novel.

Twitter @EmmaRosenblum #BadSummerPeople


Thursday 10 August 2023

☼Summer Reading ~The Summer Wedding in Santorini by Samantha Parks


Destination ... GREECE 

One More Chapter
March 2023

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

Escape to the beautiful Greek island of Santorini for the wedding of the year…

Anna has the perfect life on the island of Santorini with her gorgeous vineyard-owning boyfriend Nikos, and she travels the world for work. So why does she feel that something is missing?

When Anna’s best friend Elena gets engaged, she should be celebrating with her, but instead it seems to cause cracks in her own relationship that she never saw coming.

Nikos is thrilled that Anna's career is going from strength to strength, but being without her so much has left him feeling disconnected in ways that could have devastating consequences for their future.

As celebrations get underway for the wedding of the summer, secrets will be revealed, and ultimatums will be given. In the end, Anna and Nikos must decide whether their love story can have the happy ever after they both desperately want…

My Review..

Anna travels the world photographing exotic locations for prestigious clients so when she returns to her summer house on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini she wants nothing more than to snuggle down with her handsome boyfriend, Nikos. However, all is not going well for them as Nikos is becoming increasingly resentful of Anna's constant absence in his life. The catalyst in their relationship comes when their close friends announce their engagement and start to plan for a spectacular wedding and invite Anna and Nikos to be their maid of honour and best man. With the cracks in their loving relationship growing ever wider both Anna and Nikos have some in depth soul searching before they discover what is really important in their relationship.

The Summer Wedding on Santorini is an enjoyable summer read which, of course, has the advantage of being set on the beautiful island of Santorini, a place of warmth and sunshine with spectacular sunrises and sunsets. The author does a great job of bringing the island, and its people, to life whilst at the same time giving us an in-depth look at the anguish which both Anna and Nikos go thorough in their search for love. The Summer Wedding in Santorini can be read as a stand alone story however, the characters can also be found in the previous book, The Summerhouse on Santorini..

A light and easy summer read, perfect for poolside or a lazy afternoon in the garden ☼

About the Author

Samantha Parks is the pen name of Sam Gale. Her pen name comes from her late grandmother Velma Hobbs nee Parks, who was one of Sam's greatest role models. Sam was born in North Carolina but now resides in Bournemouth, UK, with her husband Alex. She owns a successful marketing company and is enjoying her slow descent into "crazy plant lady" status.

Twitter @samanthajgale #theSummerWedding