Friday, 24 March 2023

馃摉 Blog Tour ~ His Fatal Legacy by Heather Atkinson

Boldwood Books
20 March 2023

Alardyce Trilogy #3

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

Edinburgh 1896

Amy Alardyce's once-perfect life is in tatters. Her eldest son, Robert, has come of age, become the master of his own home, and married his childhood love Jane. But with maturity has come a terrible legacy, and the dark desires Robert inherited from his evil father Matthew, are fighting to get loose.

Whilst Jane is working hard to get her and Robert accepted into fashionable society, poor women are being hunted on the streets of Edinburgh, and Amy fears her son is to blame. And once the infamous Inspector Murphy takes up the case, Amy has to face a stark choice - denounce her son as a monster or risk her own safety to protect him from the consequences of his lethal actions.

馃摉 My Review...

I have read each of the books in this Alardyce series of gothic novels and each one gets progressively darker as we delve further into the twisted mind of Robert Alardyce who we have seen grow into a very troubled young man. This third book in the series follows on directly from where book two left off and we meet again with seventeen year old Robert as he is newly established in his own household with his lovely wife. However, all is not well in Robert's life and he must fight the demons which threaten to engulf him, and place in danger all those who care about him.

The author has captured the very essence of the tragic gothic novel and has given us a desperately troubled individual whose antics on the page are deeply compelling and more than a little shocking and yet there are also moments of empathy and compassion especially when we see Robert interacting with his young siblings. The squalor of Victorian life is captured in some detail as is the social mobility of the upper classes who seem to flit around on quite a superficial level and Robert straddles both of these lives with a troubled uneasiness.

His Fatal Legacy can be enjoyed as a standalone as the author gives enough detail to pick up the back story, however, if you enjoy dark and dangerous Victorian gothic then my advice would be to start at the beginning and get to know Robert Alardyce for yourself and ponder over the disturbing dilemma of  nature over nurture which this author brings to life so convincingly. I'm not sure if there is to be any further stories in this series however, the ending of His Fatal Legacy certainly lends itself to a continuation which would make for interesting reading.

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 #HisFatalLegacy

@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers Instagram @bookandtonic



Thursday, 23 March 2023

馃摉 Book Review ~ The Department of Conspiracy by Cal Georgeson


19 January 2023

My thanks to Cameron Publicity for my copy of this book

Sam Juniper isn’t a hero… and with good reason.

If you’re the kind of person who makes all the wrong decisions, but for all the right reasons, then you’re going to fall in love with Sam. His life is already a mess, but after leaving college, our Sam stumbles from one calamity to another in his quest to find his place in the world. Until one day he realises he’s being watched, and his life changes. Forever.

Hidden in plain sight, The Department of Conspiracy is an ultra-secret intelligence organisation. From dark experiments to kidnapping and cannibalism, they are on the case to sniff out the truth. No conspiracy is too big, no lie too small.

As Sam is dropped headfirst into this underground world of espionage and secrecy, his life spirals amidst the chaos and the fake news around him. Can he be trusted not to balls everything up? Can anybody be trusted? Will he even survive to tell anyone about it?

A funny and fast-paced story of friendship, betrayal and redemption awaits. Filled with bittersweet humour and curious characters, this new world of conspiracy will have you searching for clues from the very start.

馃摉 My review ..

Sam Juniper is effectively made homeless when his mother tells him that she is leaving the family home and that Sam must take a room in a house belonging to someone he neither likes nor wishes to live with. Forced to take stock of his life and seek gainful employment Sam's first foray into the world of work has unexpected consequences especially when he meets the mysterious Mr Milquetoast and gets inadvertently drawn into the ultra-secret world of the Department of Conspiracies.

This shadowy world of conspiracies is really well described and there were several times when I was reminded of the Ministry of Magic in the Harry Potter novels and yet this department has a foothold in a decidedly modern Britain where fake news and conspiracies abound. In the center of the action is Sam, a hapless and rather lovable individual, who has no real idea of why, or of how, he has been selected for this particular career and yet his natural  curiosity and his naive ability to look on the bright side makes him into a worthy protagonist.

I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Sam and his stalwart companions and as there is still much to learn about The Department of Conspiracies I could easily see this being developed into a delightful series. 

About the Author

Cal Georgeson left college without a plan. He eventually joined the Royal Navy as a gunner and served on HMS Edinburgh and HMS Gloucester. After 5 years in the Navy he left to become a firefighter and then a fire consultant. These days he is a construction risk specialist working in London and living in Essex.

The Department of Conspiracy began as a concept from Cal Georgeson’s father, who’d gotten as far as getting a literary agent before dying of cancer. Cal took part of what his father wrote, as well as other stories his father used to tell him, and over twenty years later finally set about turning that into his own book.

THE DEPARTMENT OF CONSPIRACY is available in paperback (£7.99) and ebook (£3.99) at all good bookshops and online booksellers.

For more information visit: and

Twitter @CameronTweets

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

馃摉 Blog Tour ~ The Woolworths Girl's Promise by Elaine Everest


Pan Macmillan
16 March 2023

Woolworth Series #8

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
and the opportunity to be part of the blog tour

After losing her beloved fianc茅 at Ypres in 1917, seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Billington faces a lonely future estranged from her upper-class parents due to her association with Charlie Sayers and his working-class family. No longer able to live under her parent’s roof she is taken in by Charlie’s father, escaping the suffocating demands of her parents. Betty soon learns all too well about the realities of life after an accident at the Woolwich Arsenal munitions works. Spotting an advertisement for a nearby job at Woolworths, Betty starts on a new and thrilling journey starting at the bottom of the employment ladder in the well-known store. Her work journey leads her to Ramsgate in Kent to work in a newly built store and with it the chance of marriage, but can she ever forget Charlie and the promise she made to him…?

馃摉 My review...

After losing her fianc茅 Charlie at the Battle of Ypres Elizabeth Billington is disowned by her middle class parents so she takes refuge with Charlie’s working class family and for the first time in her life, Elizabeth must find the means of supporting herself. After a brief time working in an ammunitions factory Betty, as she is now known, takes up a lowly position at the nearby F W Woolworths store. Over time Betty starts grow in confidence making new friends in the process however, she must also learn how to cope with the challenges which lie ahead.

The Woolworth Girl’s Promise is a heartwarming story about love and loss and also about the continuing grief and sadness which was felt by so many women who had lost their loved ones during the First World War.  The historical spect of the story feels beautifully authentic and I especially loved the detailed description of how the Woolworth store operated and of the opportunities which were available for women to become part of the general workforce.

Whilst this is the eighth book in the popular Woolworth Girls series of historical sagas it is perfectly possible to enjoy the story as a standalone and yet for those who are familiar with the series it’s lovely to have the backstory of one of the popular characters. The author has made this series into something rather special bringing to life both the history and the camaraderie which existed amongst the working classes during the first half of the twentieth century and of course shining a spotlight on Woolworths which is so much part of our shared history.

Elaine Everest, author of bestselling novels The Woolworths Girls, The Butlins Girls, Christmas at Woolworths and The Teashop Girls, was born and brought up in north-west Kent, where many of her books are set. She has been a freelance writer for twenty-seven years and has written widely for women’s magazines and national newspapers, both short stories and features. Her non-fiction books for dog owners have been very popular and led to her broadcasting on radio about our four-legged friends. Elaine has been heard discussing many topics on radio, from canine subjects to living with a husband under her feet when redundancy looms.

Twitter @elaineeverest #TheWoolworthGirlsPromise #WoolworthGirls


Saturday, 18 March 2023

馃摉 Book Review ~ Ten Poems about Rubbish from Candlestick Press

March 2023

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this poetry pamphlet

A load of rubbish? These poems are very far from being that! Published in time for Global Recycling Day on 18th March (and supplied with our new brown eco-envelopes), this selection finds that rubbish is far more than merely stuff we don’t want any more.

There’s a poem in which a swing-bin – complete with peelings and old tea-bags – becomes a vivid still life and a moving elegy when a family home is being cleared after a death. Elsewhere, mud-larking explores how what’s been discarded can still give us pause for thought:

“The stones, nails, shoes, this one old mitten;
they all could have some meaning if I listen.”
from ‘Learning to Listen on the Thames Beach’ by Anna Robinson

‘Rubbish’ might once have been a throwaway word, but these days it reminds us how we have cluttered the planet with our leavings – something that is powerfully explored in Carolyn Forch茅’s poem of protest.

Poems by Jo Bell, Laurence Binyon, David Constantine, Carolyn Forch茅, Lorna Goodison, John Greening, Anna Robinson, David Wagoner, John Wedgwood Clark and Susan Wicks.

ISBN 978 1 913627 09 6

Cover illustration by Hugh Ribbans.

Donation to Surfers Against Sewage

馃摉 My Review

On Global Recycling Day I am delighted to have had the opportunity to share my thoughts on this lovely collection of Ten Poems about Rubbish. From its ecologically friendly green cover, the brown eco-envelope and the stunning book marker with its picture of a industrious refuse collector there is something to make you stop and consider the subject of rubbish. We all know of the need to do our bit to recycle more and of course, one person's rubbish is another person's treasure and this lively collection of poems brings this very much to mind.

The collection begins with a poignant poem Small Finds by Jo Bell which reflects on the minutiae we leave behind..

"What's left of anyone is the unchosen.
If I could choose, it would be these:
a Belgian bottle opener, a demob trunk
a ruby necklace and  a wooden-handled paring knife."

From the still life of the rubbish bin in Swing Bin by Susan Wicks, 

"Furled white plastic,
last limp flag on a roll,
this bin liner (swing, not pedal)
was painfully separated 
along the perforations provided."

The one that made me smile  was The Apotheosis of the Garbagemen by David Wagner (1926-2921)

..."In luminous coveralls
They follow the easy directions on boxes and apple cores.
Old candy wrappers folded round sweet nothings,
And sacks with their stains on fire
They are coming through hedges, dragging geometry
In a dark clutch of rainbows.."

The final word of the collection goes to one of my favourite poems, Laurence Binyon's The Burning of the Leaves...

"Now is the time for the burning of the leaves
They go to the fire; the nostril pricks with smoke
Wandering slowly into a weeping mist..."

I have been enchanted by these ten poems about rubbish, each one quite special in its own style and format and all equally delightful in content. A perfect gift, instead of a card, for the eco conscious person in your life or as a timely reminder to be more green.

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 Clouds, Walking, Birds, Home and Kindness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

Twitter @PoetryCandle

Thursday, 16 March 2023

馃摉 Book Review ~ Dark Queen Wary by Paul Doherty


Severn House
7 March 2023

Margaret Beaufort Mystery #4

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

1472. Edward IV reigns triumphant over England and his rivals, the Lancastrians. But he is uneasy, for one true claimant remains: the young Henry Tudor, son of Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond. Henry's continued existence worries Edward, so he hatches a plan to bring a cuckoo into the nest – an imposter prince is presented to Margaret Beaufort as her son.

馃摉 My Review..

For those who know the history of this time they will be aware of the importance of Margaret Beaufort and of the animosity between her and Edward IV. In this darkly violent story this conflict seems set to engulf all of them especially when Edward tries to bring in an impostor in place of Margaret's son, Henry Tudor.

I chose to read Dark Queen Wary because I liked the intrigue of the front cover not realising that it was book four in a series but that didn't matter as once I started to read I was able to pick up the story easily. I enjoyed going back in time to the middle part of the fifteenth century with this interesting look at the conflict taking place between the ruling House of York and the defeated House of Lancaster during the momentous years of the War of the Roses. 

I have enjoyed reading this detailed historical mystery about the difficult days of Edward IV's reign and the plot is maintained with a fine eye for detail and an obvious well researched historical knowledge. Some of the descriptions are a bit bloodthirsty but such were the times in which the story is set and so lend an air of authenticity to a detailed historical adventure.


Wednesday, 8 March 2023

馃摉 Book Review ~ Nobody Puts Romcoms in the Corner by Kathryn Freeman


One More Chapter
February 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Sally is a classic romantic and Harry is a classic cynic, but when a drunken bet leads the new flatmates to (badly) recreate ‘the lift’ from Dirty Dancing, and the video goes viral (#EpicRomcomReenactmentFailure), they both realise there’s potential financial benefit in blundering their way through the romcom lexicon for their suddenly vast social media following.

Now, as Harry and Sally bring major romcom moments to new life – including recreating that classic diner scene – their faking it turns to making…out and suddenly they’re living a real life romcom of their own! But like all the greatest love stories, the road to happily ever after is paved with unexpected challenges for this hero and heroine.

馃摉 My Review..

Anyone who loves romcom movies will be delighted with this latest book from Kathryn Freeman as not only does it do a sterling job of reminding us about all those iconic classic scenes from romantic movies we have known and loved in the past but it also introduces us to two lovely characters. Sally and Harry first meet as flat mates when their drunken attempt to recreate the classic lift scene from Dirty Dancing becomes a TikTok sensation. With an eye for earning a bit of extra money various other classic scenes are attempted with unexpected consequences.

As always the story sparkles with wit and undeniable charm and whilst it's not all plain sailing for our romantic heroes there is something rather whimsical about the story which really appealed to me. I loved getting to know both Sally and Harry, they are both delightful characters. Sally with her head firmly in the clouds waiting for her Mr Right to appear whilst Harry, more pragmatic and down to earth, isn't really sure what love is all about however, over the course of this lovely story we see both characters really start to blossom.

Delightful from start to finish Nobody Puts Romcoms in the Corner was the right book at the right time for me and I devoured it in one romcom infused sitting.

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 #NobodyPutsRomcomsInTheCorner


Monday, 6 March 2023

Book review ~ Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent


2 March 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Sally Diamond cannot understand why what she did was so strange. She was only doing what her father told her to do, to put him out with the rubbish when he died.

Now Sally is the centre of attention, not only from the hungry media and worried police, but also a sinister voice from a past she has no memory of. As she begins to discover the horrors of her childhood, recluse Sally steps into the world for the first time, making new friends, finding independence, and learning that people don't always mean what they say.

But when messages start arriving from a stranger who knows far more about her past than she knows herself, Sally's life will be thrown into chaos once again.

馃摉My Review..

It's been awhile since I read a Liz Nugent novel and I'm left wondering why it took me so long. Strange Sally Diamond is one of those totally immersive novels which, right from the start, captures your imagination and I think Sally is certainly one of the most memorable literary characters I've met this year.

The story gets off to a harrowing start with Sally following her father's instructions by putting him out with the rubbish when he died. That Sally takes everything that people say quite literally is obvious from the start and although the small Irish community where she lives are both fascinated and repelled by her, there is also an element of acceptance as Sally has, despite her adoptive parent's protection, always been considered to be a bit odd. Now in her forties and, after her father's death, quite alone in the world, Sally has to learn to find her way but when sinister messages start to arrive from someone Sally doesn't know it opens up a whole set of secrets about her difficult past which have been hidden for far too long. These secrets are not an easy read and once exposed can never be forgotten, or forgiven.

Beautifully written, with no word wasted, and no emotion left unexplored, Strange Sally Diamond is a complex, and utterly addictive, story which shocks you to the core and which doesn't let go of your emotions until the very last page is turned.

About the Author

Before becoming a full-time writer, Liz Nugent worked in film, theatre and television. Her four novels - Unravelling Oliver, Lying in Wait, Skin Deep and Our Little Cruelties have each been Number One bestsellers and she has won four Irish Book Awards, as well as the James Joyce Medal for Literature. She lives in Dublin.

Strange Sally Diamond is a BBC Between the Covers Book Club Pick 2023

Twitter @lizzienugent #StrangeSallyDiamond



Sunday, 5 March 2023

馃摉 Blog Tour ~ Maid of Steel by Kate Baker


28 February 2023

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

It’s 1911 and, against her mother’s wishes, quiet New Yorker Emma dreams of winning the right to vote. She is sent away by her parents in the hope distance will curb her desire to be involved with the growing suffrage movement and told to spend time learning about where her grandparents came from.

Across the Atlantic – Queenstown, southern Ireland – hotelier Thomas dreams of being loved, even noticed, by his actress wife, Alice. On their wedding day, Alice’s father had assured him that adoration comes with time. It’s been eight years. But Alice has plans of her own and they certainly don’t include the fight for equality or her dull husband.

Emma’s arrival in Ireland leads her to discover family secrets and become involved in the Irish Women’s Suffrage Society in Cork. However, Emma’s path to suffrage was never meant to lead to a forbidden love affair…

馃摉 My Review...

The early part of the twentieth century was a difficult time for women especially for those who felt that women deserved the same rights as men and who were prepared to support the Women's Suffrage Movement. After a tragic accident in her workplace Emma leaves her native New York and heads to Queenstown in southern Ireland where her parents hope that she will forget all about her desire to be involved with the suffragettes. However, Emma finds that Ireland too is undergoing a time of great social change and her growing involvement with the Women’s Suffrage Society in Cork makes her realise just how much is at stake.

The historical aspects of the story, both real and imaginary, are obviously well researched and this shows in the strength of the writing which brings places and people alive. I especially enjoyed Emma's quest to discover more about her own family history and there are enough elements of surprise to keep the story moving along nicely. Combining a sense of history with a forbidden love affair certainly gives the novel a nice romantic edge and I followed this aspect of the story with interest and hoped that everything would work out well in the end. I'm not going to spoil the story by giving much away as this is one of those lovely stories which should be allowed to unfold with all of its surprises intact.

About the Author

Kate Baker wrote terrible holiday diaries as a child, which her husband regularly asks her to read out loud for their entertainment. She has since improved and has written with intent since 2018. Maid of Steel is her second novel; the first is lining drawers in the vegetable rack at their farmhouse.

Twitter @katefbaker #MaidofSteel


Thursday, 2 March 2023

馃摉 Featured Book of the Month ~ The Hidden Letters by Lorna Cook


2 March 2023

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

On the eve of a world war, a forbidden love will blossom in the garden of a stately home and one young woman will make a choice that will change her life forever…

As the storm clouds of war gather, Cordelia seeks refuge in the grounds of her family estate.

Isaac has recently arrived to tend to the gardens, and the connection between him and Cordelia is as immediate as it is forbidden.

Isaac begins to secretly teach her how to cultivate the gardens, so when he and all the young men are called away to war, Cordelia takes over.

From the battlefields of Europe, Isaac sends her letters, that give her hope for a future in peacetime.

But when these messages abruptly cease, Cordelia must face up to the worst and take her future – and the fate of the garden they both loved – into her own hands...

馃摉 My Review...

Isaac Leigh has been employed to make improvements to the garden at Pencallick House and under normal circumstances would never come into contact with Cordelia Carr-Lyon who, as the daughter of the big house, has limitations placed upon her, and a burgeoning friendship with a handsome gardener is strictly out of bounds. However, the country is on the brink of war and social restrictions whilst still in place seem to melt into insignificance as Isaac and Cordelia gradually get to know each other. It is this secret friendship and clandestine bond which must sustain their relationship through some deeply troubling times especially as the storm clouds of WW1 gather their inevitable momentum over Europe. 

Lorna Cook writes the most wonderfully detailed historical dramas which are filled with an abundance of emotions, from love and passion, through to sadness and despair and, believe me, there were many times during this beautiful novel when I had to reach for the tissue box. The story moves from the wild and windswept Cornish coast, to war ravaged Europe and from stately manor house to humble cottages and all the while keeping at its heart a love story which beguiles, entertains and tugs away at the heartstrings.

The Hidden Letters is every bit as good as I hoped it would be from this talented author and I have no hesitation in making it my Featured Book of the Month for March.

About the Author

Lorna Cook is the author of the Kindle bestseller The Forgotten Village. It was her debut novel and the recipient of the Romantic Novelists' Association Joan Hessayon Award for New Writers as well as winner of the Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Lorna lives in coastal South East England with her husband and two daughters.

Twitter @lornacookauthor


The Hidden Letters is published today by Avon Books

 and is available from wherever you buy your books.

Wednesday, 1 March 2023

馃摉 Book Review ~ The Marriage Season by Jane Dunn

Boldwood Books
26 January 2023

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

In Regency England, marriage is everything. For young widow Sybella Lovatt, the time has come to find a suitable husband for her sister and ward Lucie. Male suitors are scarce near their Wiltshire estate, so the sisters resolve to head to London in time for The Season to begin.

Once ensconced at the Mayfair home of Lady Godley, Lucie’s godmother, the whirl of balls, parties and promenades can begin. But the job of finding a husband is fraught with rules and tradition. Jostling for attention are the two lords – the charming and irresistible Freddie Lynwood and the preternaturally handsome Valentine Ravenell, their enigmatic neighbour from Shotten Hall, Mr Brabazon, and the dangerous libertine Lord Rockliffe, with whom the brooding Brabazon is locked in deadly rivalry.

Against the backdrop of glamorous Regency England, Sybella must settle Lucie’s future, protect her own reputation, and resist the disreputable rakes determined to seduce the beautiful widow. As the Season ends, will the sisters have found the rarest of things – a suitable marriage with a love story to match?

馃摉 My Review...

Young widow, Sybilla Lovatt lives a quiet life in the country with her younger sister Lucie, however, Lucie is now of an age to marry and so it is with some trepidation that they head for London where Lady Godley, Lucie's rich godmother is set to launch her into London society. With the marriage season upon them it is imperative that Lucie makes a good impression and sets about the task of finding a good husband.

The Marriage Season looks at the vagaries of living in Regency England when it was imperative for young ladies of quality to marry a suitable husband and it has been such a delight to follow in Lucie and Sybilla's footsteps as they go from glittering ballrooms, to taking refreshment in the grand salons of the affluent rich and exercising their horses in the park whilst also getting to know those distinctly eligible bachelors who vie for their attention.

Beautifully written and with a fine eye for historical detail The Marriage Season brings the Regency world of courtship to life and introduces a set of charming characters who remain with you long after the last page is turned.

About the Author

Jane Dunn is a leading biographer, the author of Moon in Eclipse: A Life of Mary Shelley, A Very Close Conspiracy: Vanessa Bell and Virginia Wolf, and Antonia White: A Life. Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens was published in the spring of 2003 and spent seven weeks in the top ten of the Sunday Times bestseller list. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Dunn lives near Bath with her husband, the linguist and writer Nicholas Ostler.

Twitter @JaneDunnAuthor


Tuesday, 28 February 2023

馃摉 Book Feature ~ My Chronicle Book Box


I was really thrilled when Louise at My Chronicle Book Box contacted me on Twitter to say that I had won a beautiful book box in her recent competition.  This feel-good prize has really boosted my spirits during a difficult time. It was all was presented in such a wonderful way and I am delighted with the contents of the box.

My photograph

Based in Yorkshire My Chronicle Book Box was created in 2017 and since then this book subscription service has gone from strength to strength. There are various subscription options to choose from and all the books are especially chosen, with bookish goodies which compliment and enhance the experience.

My photograph

My Feel-Good book box contained a signed copy of The Notekeeper by Hannah Treave, which I am so looking forward to reading, along with a beautiful book mark and two really pretty note cards. Everything was wonderfully gift wrapped which made unboxing such a joy. 

You will discover lots more interesting stuff about My Chronicle Book Box by visiting their website  

Find them on Social media

Twitter @MyChronicleBB



Friday, 24 February 2023

馃摉 Blog Tour ~ Ascent by Cathie Dunn (Giveaway)

8 April 2023

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

A brutal Viking raid heralds the dawn of a new, powerful dynasty – the House of Normandy

Neustria, Kingdom of the West Franks
AD 890

Fourteen-year-old Poppa’s life changes when Northmen land near Bayeux. Count B茅rengar, her father, submits to them, and she is handfasted to Hr贸lfr, the Northmen’s heathen leader, as part of their agreement.

To her relief, Hr贸lfr leaves immediately in search of further conquest, only returning to claim her years later. In the face of retaliating Franks, they flee to East Anglia, where she gives birth to their son and daughter.

When Hr贸lfr and Poppa return to reclaim Bayeux, his new campaign strikes at the heart of Frankish power, and King Charles of the West Franks offers him a pact he cannot refuse. In exchange for vast tracts of land in Neustria, Hr贸lfr must convert to Christianity and accept marriage to Gisela, the king’s illegitimate daughter.

Poppa’s world shatters. She remains in Bayeux, with her daughter, Adela. When Gisela arrives one day, demanding she hand over Adela, to be raised in Rouen, Poppa’s patience is at an end. But Gisela makes for a dangerous enemy, and only one woman will survive their confrontation high up on the cliffs.

Will Poppa live to witness the dawn of a new era?

馃摉 My Review...

Travelling back to the dark days in the latter part of the first millennium takes us right into the heart of Nuestria in the ancient kingdom of the West Franks. There we meet with Hr贸lfr, the heathen leader of the Northmen, who dares to infiltrate the peace of Bayeux where he lays claim to the town as his own.  Hr贸lfr strengthens this uneasy relationship with a handfasted marriage to Poppa of Bayeux, the young and spirited daughter of Count B茅rengar, which adds to the sense of destiny in these early days of the House of Normandy.

Ascent is a well written historical saga which brings to life the uncertainty and danger of living in a time when it was all too easy to get caught up in violence. Back to a time when danger lurked on every corner and brave, and strong, fighting men were constantly having to protect their hearth, and homes, from marauders who wished them harm. 

Throughout the story there’s a real sense of history and even though the story moves forward through time quite quickly it never felt rushed or lacking in detail. I enjoyed getting to know more about Poppa of Bayeux who was a real historical figure and uniquely instrumental in forging the House of Normandy. Poppa’s relationship with Hr贸lfr was not without its challenges and this fictional account of their time together helps to put history into context whilst allowing a sympathetic love story to emerge.

Ascent is the first book in a proposed series about the forgotten women of early history who helped to shape the foundations of the House of Normandy for the coming millennium.

About the Author

Cathie Dunn is an award-winning author of historical fiction, mystery, and romance. The focus of her historical fiction novels is on strong women through time.

Cathie has been writing for over twenty years. She studied Creative Writing online, with a focus on novel writing, which she also taught in the south of France. She loves researching for her novels, delving into history books, and visiting castles and historic sites. A voracious reader, primarily of historical fiction / romance, she often reviews books on her blog, Ruins & Reading.

Cathie is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Richard III Society, and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

After many years in Scotland, Cathie now lives in south of France with her husband, and rescued Charlie Cat and Ellie Dog. 

*Giveaway to win a  signed copy of Ascent (Open INT)*

*Terms and Conditions– Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

Twitter @cathiedunn #Ascent


Thursday, 23 February 2023

馃摉 Book Review ~ Dear Mr Pop Star by Dave Philpotts, Derek Philpotts


Independently Published
January 2023


My thanks to the authors for my copy of this book

Bonkers letters to Rock, Pop and Punk Legends 

with genuine hilarious replies from the actual artists

For over a decade, ‘Team Philpott’, as their followers fondly refer to them, have been on a quite bonkers crusade, writing old-fashioned letters to punk, pop and rock stars, picking up on genuine ambiguities within their lyrics or often deliberately misunderstanding them for comedic effect.

The letters are eminently publishable in their own right, but what makes this project especially deserving of attention is that it has achieved a feat never before attempted or probably even thought of. The artists quite unexpectedly started to reply, writing back in just as witty and articulate a fashion, politely pointing out exactly where the original letter went wrong...or right.

2023 sees the eagerly awaited New Edition of Dear Mr Pop Star. This revised reboot is a much leaner volume with lots of new content and is already looking to be the most popular offering yet.

A donation will be made to homeless charities from the profits of every copy sold as a thank you to the artists involved.

馃摉 My Thoughts..

Back in 2018 I took part in a blog tour to help promote a slightly bonkers book, the authors' words, not mine, which featured descriptions of hand written letters to famous pop stars which called into question, albeit politely, the ambiguity of their song lyrics. The book caught my imagination and made me laugh out loud, so it was with interest that I took a look  at this reissued 2023 version which has some new content alongside some old favourites.

The content is just as funny as I remember and as I became reacquainted with the author's slightly wacky sense of humour so the letters became all the more enjoyable and I found myself laughing again at the interaction which goes on between them. Coming in at just short of 180 pages, Dear Mr Pop Star is a quirky little book and I found myself dipping into and out of it at whim. I found it especially entertaining to while away the time, whilst waiting for an appointment or when just sitting having a quiet coffee. In our complicated, and often fraught world, it's nice sometimes to just sit back, relax and be entertained and that's exactly what Dear Mr Pop Star does. 馃槉

Twitter @DerekPhilpott

The book is available via Amazon Click To Print Paperback and Kindle

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Author in the Spotlight ~ Mollie Walton, Romantic Novelists' Association Finalist


I'm delighted to welcome author Mollie Walton back to Jaffareadstoo

Photo credit: Hudson and Rose Photography

Firstly, congratulations on being one of the finalists in the RNA Romantic Saga Category for your novel A Mother’s War.

Thank you so much! I’m so delighted to have been shortlisted. I have tremendous respect for the RNA and they do so much to help writers and represent our genre positively to the world. I’m over the moon to be a finalist and really don’t mind who wins! I’m just thrilled to be in the final five!

A Mother’s War is the first in a trilogy of historical sagas, where did you get the first flash of inspiration?

In the summer of 2020, I took my daughter on holiday to Raven Hall Hotel in Ravenscar, not far from Scarborough and Whitby. We needed to escape from the house after the lockdown, so the cliff-top location of the hotel looked ideal to feel that sense of space we’d been missing.

Raven Hall

Around that time, I was working on ideas for a new WW2 saga, yet hadn’t decided on a location yet. When I arrived at the hotel and saw the incredible view of Robin Hood’s Bay and the farm and moorland tumbling down to the cliffs, it took my breath away. And it almost instantly came to me: this is where I want my WW2 story to be set, in Raven Hall itself.

Robin Hoods Bay

Without giving too much away what can you tell us about A Mother’s War?


It’s the story of Rosina, a mother of five daughters, who is a widow and has raised her children more or less single-handedly in Raven Hall. We meet them all at the very beginning of WW2, when she gathers her daughters by the radio to listen to Chamberlain’s speech in September 1939. From there, each novel in the series follows one daughter and also Rosina, through their wartime experiences. A Mother’s War is the first book in the series and we have the eldest daughter Grace’s story, as she becomes a Wren and is trained to be a wireless telegraphist, listening in to U-boats.

When you started writing did you always intend this to be a trilogy of novels? And if so, do you now know where the journey will end?

Yes absolutely – it was a three-book deal, so I knew I was going to tell the first three daughters’ stories. The second book is out next month and I’m writing the third book at the moment. We shall see if some more books are coming in this series...I certainly have an arc worked out for all the characters. I’m an obsessive planner as a novelist, so I always have a lot planned out in advance, although this often changes during the writing itself.

In your research for A Mother’s War did you discover anything which surprised you about the people or the area?

I was delighted to discover more about North Yorkshire, as I’ve been a fan of that area for many years, having visited Whitby a few times when I was younger. It’s a gorgeous landscape with a great sense of history. I was particularly fascinated to discover there had been a secret listening station on the moors just above Scarborough and that’s where Grace’s story came from. There, they listened into communications from U-boats and other German navy vessels and these messages were then sent immediately down to Station X i.e. Bletchley Park. Many now know about Bletchley and the codebreakers, but this was an essential part of the story I felt was far less known about. It inspired me to have my character become a secret listener.

A Mother’s War features strong female characters; do you have a favourite character and why?

Ah, that’s such a difficult question, like choosing a favourite child! (I only have one child, so I never have to think about that though!) I identify with all of them in different ways: I understand some of Rosina’s dilemmas as a lone parent; I also feel that Grace’s somewhat introverted ways mirror some of my own interior preoccupations at that age. Then there’s Nancy, the maid who becomes a Wren and a wireless telegraphist – her self-confidence and ambition is quite different from myself at her age, so I admire her hugely! So, I’m equally fond of them all, to be honest.

Your writing is always very authentic, have you always had an interest in history?

Thank you so much for saying that. That’s certainly what I always try to do. Whether I’m writing as Rebecca Mascull or Mollie Walton, it’s always been really important to me to get my facts straight. My aim has always been to create fictional characters, yet to place them within realistic historical settings. Sometimes I’ve had real people come and go from the stories, yet the main set of characters are always fictional for me. Even if the events of my stories may sometimes seem unusual (or even unlikely), my goal is always to ensure that my research backs up my plots i.e. even if it didn’t happen, it very well could have happened. I love reading about history and visiting places where historical events have happened; I sometimes get ‘history shivers’ when I think about certain events or visit such places, where the past suddenly feels very real and present. I love that feeling and that’s what I’m always trying to aim towards when I’m writing, so that the reader is transported and yet feels it’s as real as today’s world.

As a tantaliser, what can you tell us about the next book in the series?

2 March 2023

Ooh, well, readers don’t have long to wait, as it’s out in less than a month! A Daughter’s Gift, the second book in the Raven Hall Saga, follows the second daughter Evvy, as well as Rosina’s life at the hall. Evvy goes to London and joins the Auxiliary Fire Service just before the Blitz begins in earnest, while Rosina has to contend with the army requisitioning the hall. We catch up with the other sisters too, while we follow Evvy and Rosina through their own trials. I can’t wait to share it with readers – it’s out in hardback and ebook on March 2nd, with the paperback coming in August. The third daughter, Connie, is having her story written right now! And her book will be out in March next year. I’m loving this family and these five girls and I hope readers enjoy their stories as much as I do. 

Mollie, thanks so much for being a great guest, its always such fun to have you on the blog. 

Thanks so much for featuring me on your wonderful blog, Josie. Great questions, as ever. 馃槉


The Romantic Novelists' Association (RNA) is a professional body primarily for writers of romantic fiction. Founded in 1960 to provide a voice for romance authors and to be a network for writers, it continues to raise the prestige of romantic fiction and encourage romantic authorship. Their 1000+ membership includes writers across the spectrum of commercial and women's fiction, along with publishing industry professionals, booksellers, and book reviewers. In addition to organising annual publishing awards, they also host arange of workshops, talks, networking events, a three-day annual conference, and provide support to unpublished authors through their New Writers' Scheme.

For more information about the Romantic Novelists’ Association, please visit their website: