Thursday 29 February 2024

πŸ“– Publication Day Book Review ~ The Long and Winding Road by Lesley Pearse

Penguin Michael Joseph
29 February 2024

My thanks to the publisher and ed public relations for my copy of this book

Born during the Second World War, Lesley’s innocence came to an abrupt end when a neighbour found her, aged 3, coatless in the snow. The mother she’d been unable to wake had been dead for days. Sent to an orphanage, Lesley soon learned adults couldn’t always be trusted.

As a teenager in the swinging sixties, she took herself to London. Here, the second great tragedy of her life occurred. Falling pregnant, she was sent to a mother and baby home, and watched helplessly as her newborn was taken from her.

But like so many of her generation, Lesley had to carry on. She was, after all, a true survivor. Marriage and children followed – and all the while she nurtured a dream: to be a writer. Yet it wasn’t until at the age of 48 that her stories – of women struggling in a difficult world – found a publisher, and the bestseller lists beckoned.

As heartbreaking as it is heartwarming, Lesley’s story really is A Long and Winding Road with surprises and uplifting hope around every corner .

πŸ“– My Review..

I've probably been reading this author's books for the last twenty or so years and Lesley Pearse never fails to entertain with stories which tug away at my heart strings and as one story ends, I always want to read more. For the first time we are given the unique opportunity to know more about this successful author in her autobiography which takes us from Lesley's difficult early childhood through to her later life. It’s an emotional read, Lesley has certainly had an eventful life and the autobiography is filled with anecdotal stories and described with all the warmth and wit which is so reminiscent of this author's ability to hold the reader in the palm of her hand.

Aptly titled The Long and Winding Road this autobiography certainly takes us on a convoluted journey through the momentous moments of Lesley’s life, a life which, it must be said, has been far from easy. There has been heartbreak aplenty but also surprising amounts of good humour and the stoical sense that Lesley is one of life’s great survivors and that despite the setbacks she encountered it has only served to make her into the fine writer she is today. 

I've thoroughly enjoyed this window into the life of this prolific writer and on finishing the book, with tissues in hand, I can now understand just how Lesley can write such emotional stories. Everything she does is straight from the heart and everything she has learned from her eventful life is reflected in the wonderful stories she writes so very well.

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. 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 story line, 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. 

Told with Lesley's trademark warmth, wit and poignancy The Long and Winding Road is the extraordinary story of a remarkable woman fighting against the odds to achieve her dreams and finally winning.

Lesley lives in Torquay where she enjoys walking on the beach with her grandchildren. A fantastic speaker and committed and passionate fundraiser for the NSPCC, Lesley is a much sought after guest at literary lunches, library events and festivals up and down the country.

Twitter @LesleyPearse #LoveLesley #TheLongAndWindingRoad

@michaeljbooks @ed_pr


πŸ“– Paperback Launch Day ~ Betrayal by Lesley Pearse

Eve should never have married Don Hathaway. Young and lovestruck, he’d given her two precious children - Olly and Tabitha – but he’s a bully. Worse than that, he is abusive. But, after one drunken rage too many, she realises if she doesn’t leave, she will die. With no money, or family to run to, she bravely summons the courage to escape and is helped by a network of women who give her sanctuary.

The path is not easy but driven by the need to give her children a future, she starts to rebuild her life. Don, however, is bitter. And getting away entirely proves impossible. Until the day Eve tries to teach him a lesson - and it all goes horribly wrong. Now, shouldering a terrible burden that she dares not share, Eve sets up a business in her newly adopted town of Sidmouth, and her fortunes go from strength to strength. 

New business, new home, new love. But how long before the past catches up with her? And how will she reconcile the fact that in relentlessly pursuing a better life, she may have betrayed not only her own, but her children's future happiness.

πŸ“– My Review..

Eve Hathaway has no option but to leave her violent husband but as with all bullies Don Hathaway refuses to admit that he has a problem and can't let Eve and his children have the peaceful life they crave. Setting up a new life for herself and her children isn't easy for Eve but with sheer grit and determination she takes them out of poverty and into a more settled existence except that Eve is burdened by a dreadful secret which overshadows her future happiness. 

Betrayal looks at the worst kind of domestic violence and does so with a sharp eye for detail and a sympathetic way of recounting a story which is all too familiar namely that of women who are scared of the consequences of leaving a violent partner. In Eve Hathaway the author has created a feisty and determined woman, who once away from her violent husband, has the ability to make a new life for herself and her children and yet with the shadow of uncertainty hanging above her the author shows just how fragile this new life can be and learning to trust isn't easy as Eve discovers to her cost and that of her family's safety.

Beautifully written from start to finish and never one to shy away from uneasy topics, Betrayal covers some difficult subjects with this author's trademark skill of empathy, sensitivity and cracking good story telling.

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. 

Twitter @LesleyPearse #LoveLesley30 #Betrayal

@michaeljbooks @ed_pr

Wednesday 28 February 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Sleeping Beauties by Lucy Ashe


Magpie Books/One World
15 February 2024

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

An unputdownable tale of obsession, jealousy and heartache against the backdrop of WW2

May 1945 and at long last, Rosamund Caradon is feeling optimistic. As she returns the last few evacuees to London from her Devonshire manor, she vows to protect dance-obsessed daughter Jasmine from further peril.

But a chance meeting with a Sadler’s Wells ballet dancer changes everything.

When the beautiful, elusive Briar Woods bursts into Rosamund’s train carriage, it’s clear her sights are set on the immediately captivated Jasmine. And Rosamund cannot shake the eerie feeling this accidental encounter is not what it seems.

For Briar may be far away from the pointe shoes and greasepaint of the Sleeping Beauty ballet that is so much a part of her, but her performance for Rosamund might just be her most successful yet.

This, Briar feels, is a show for a mother and daughter. A dance that could turn deadly...

πŸ“– My Review...

At the end of the Second World War Rosamund Caradon returns the last of her evacuees to their homes in London. On the train to London she meets the enigmatic, and rather lovely, Briar Woods who soon makes a deep impression on Rosamund's nine year old daughter, Jasmine. Jasmine's interest in ballet is further enhanced when she discovers that Briar is a Sadler's Wells ballerina. What then follows is a  complex story which looks at the bonds of motherhood and the deep abiding fear of having this mother/daughter bond severed irretrievably.

The story moves quite seamlessly between two distinct time frames, that of Rosamund and Jasmine in 1945, and Briar's life in 1936. Briar's connection to the ballet is done with beautiful precision so that it is perfectly possible to sense the atmosphere of dancing with such a prestigious company. I especially enjoyed the references to costume and all the planning that went into each production. Rosamund and Jasmine's story in 1945 is equally compelling and as the story gets deeper so the twists and turns start to evolve and we discover the secrets which have been kept hidden for so long.

Beautifully written, with a real sense of time and place, The Sleeping Beauties is a compelling story about jealousy, dangerous obsession and the complicated bonds of motherhood.

About the Author

After training at the Royal Ballet School for eight years, Lucy Ashe decided to change career plans and go to university, where she read English Literature before becoming a teacher.

Her poetry and short stories have been published in a number of literary journals and she was shortlisted for the 2020 Impress Prize for New Writers.

Twitter / X @LSAshe1 #TheSleepingBeauties



Monday 26 February 2024

πŸ“– Launch Day Book Review ~ Ten Poems about Libraries from Candlestick Press


Candlestick Press
26 February 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this pamphlet

Libraries are treasured places. We may remember visiting a local library in childhood to explore an early delight in reading. Or perhaps we have come to value them in later life, as a calm sanctuary where we can daydream among beloved books.

A library is also a portal into countless worlds of knowledge, experience and adventure:

“Oh, I could walk any aisle
and smell wisdom, put a hand out to touch
the rough curve of bound leather,
the harsh parchment of dreams.”

from ‘Maple Valley Branch Library, 1967’ by Rita Dove

With irresistible affection, these poems celebrate the many things that libraries mean to us as we move through the phases of our lives.

The poems are selected and introduced by poet Lorraine Mariner who has worked at the National Poetry Library in London for many years.

Poems by Adrian Buckner, Louise Chandler Moulton, Claire Crowther, Rita Dove, Martina Evans, Edward Hirsch, Lorraine Mariner, Ian McMillan, Charles Simic and Indigo Williams.

Cover illustration by Laura Brett.

Visit the National Poetry Library.

πŸ“– My Review...

I remember my first ever visit to the library. I thought it was a magical place, filled with a cornucopia of delights which have entertained, educated and beguiled me ever since. Strict silence was the rule, no food or drink allowed near the pages and children had to be seen rather than heard however, when my mother left me to explore the children's section I knew I had found my home.

I was delighted to find the opening poem The Mobile Library by Martina Evans. For years, when my children were small, I relied heavily on the mobile library service which visited my local area every Tuesday:

'And that was the best thing,
when I was sure it was still there,
my feet pressing into the deep steps...'

Capturing the thrill and excitement of libraries there is much to enjoy in this anthology of ten poems which reminds us of the beauty and wisdom of books, the thrill of chasing down a special book title and the sheer enjoyment of a place dedicated to the wonder of books.

From The Librarian at Her Post by Lorraine Mariner

'...My armour 
melts away and I say 'Yes, this place really exists'
I've been keeping it safe for you...'

And finding lost treasures, dusty tomes which haven't been opened in forever but which reveal magic on the inside:

From In the Library for Octavio by Charles Simic

'There's a book called
 'A Dictionary of Angels'
No-one has opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did, the covers creaked, the pages 

Beautifully produced, and with its colourful cover and end papers Ten poems about Libraries is every bit as magical as the libraries it champions.

About the Publisher

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/X @poetrycandle

Thursday 22 February 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Freeborn Girls by Sally Keeble


Eleanor Press
15 February 2024

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

“Did life ever deal you a real wild card?”

It’s June 2019 and London’s in turmoil. But steely MP Frances Quilter is distracted from affairs of state by affairs of the heart: a new love affair and the demands of her ailing mother.

So, when trouble erupts on the Cooper, a sink estate in her south London constituency, Frances misjudges the public mood—with fatal consequences. Disaster looms.

Once the Cooper estate was idyllic farmland, beloved home of the Gardiner family. But when the English Civil War erupts, the farm is attacked and the family members scattered. One, a feisty girl called Elizabeth, is sold as an indentured labourer and in 1643 boards a sailing ship for the perilous voyage to America.

In “Freeborn Girls,” former MP Sally Keeble weaves a captivating story of intrigue, love and adventure following the fortunes of Frances and Elizabeth: two women separated by almost 400 years of history—but linked by a twist of fate.

Can Frances salvage her career, or her love affair? Does Elizabeth survive? And who’s the enigmatic American who arrives in London to intern for Frances that eventful summer?

A page-turner of a time-slip novel for readers of historical fiction books about women finding freedom in tough times.

πŸ“– My Review..

Local MP Frances Quilter represents an area of London which is ripe for redevelopment although the residents of the Cooper estate are determined to fight for their survival. Frances has a history with this area and is doing what she can, amidst the jumble of 2019 politics, to fight for the resident's rights. Four hundred years ago at the start of the English Civil War this area of London was home to Elizabeth Gardiner, a 'freeborn girl' who finds that she too is about to become a displaced person when her life, and livelihood, take a very different direction.

This is a very much a story of two distinct sections and I enjoyed slipping forwards and backwards in time and followed both time frames with interest. The author captures the post-Brexit political world well and shows the insider dealings and the general shenanigans that go on behind the scenes but never forgets that at the heart of story are people who have been dealt a rough hand in life. The historical aspect of the story is atmospheric and shows in stark reality the lack of choice that women had and how they maintained the strength of will to deal with the hardships of their lives and search for their own form of freedom.

Freeborn Girls is a well written story about how women struggle to get by and, despite the four hundred year gap, the freeborn girls, in Frances Quilter's part of London, are just about surviving despite the challenges which come their way.

About the Author

Sally's debut novel, She, You, I, has been hailed as "a book of our time," and "a gem of a novel."

It's an emotional roller-coaster of a story of lost love, buried hurt and strong women over three generations.

Sally writes about the things she’s passionate about—the triumphs and tragedies of people’s lives. It’s what originally took her into journalism and then politics, in the UK and beyond. She spent her early years in the USA, Switzerland and Australia, returning to the UK after working as a journalist in South Africa. After serving as an MP in the UK, she worked in international development and travelled widely, especially in Asia and Africa.

Now she splits her time between Northampton and Bawdsey, a village in coastal Suffolk.

You can find out more about Sally on her website at or follow her on Facebook: at Sally Keeble Author or on Instagram @sallykeeblebooks or Tik Tok @sallykbooks

Twitter / X @Sally_Keeble #FreebornGirls

Instagram @sallykeeblebooks





Tuesday 20 February 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Memory of Us by Dani Atkins

Head of Zeus
15 February 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

A twist of fate. An unexpected love story...

If she had been found moments later, Amelia's heart would have stopped and never recovered. Instead she was taken from the desolate beach to the nearest hospital just in time to save her life. When her sister Lexi arrives from New York, Amelia's heart is beating, but the accident has implanted a series of false memories. These memories revolve around a man named Sam, and a perfect love story that never existed.

Determined to help her sister, Lexi enlists the help of Nick, a local vet who bears a striking resemblance to Sam. Together, Lexi and Nick recreate and photograph Amelia's dream dates in the hopes of triggering her true memories.

But as love starts to stir between Lexi and Nick, they must navigate a complex web of emotions. How can Lexi fall for Amelia's dream man without hurting her sister?

πŸ“– My Review..

Amelia is found unconscious on a deserted beach, only moments from death. She is taken to the nearest hospital deeply unaware of the seriousness of her condition. however, when her younger sister Lexi arrives from New York, Amelia confuses her family with her apparent connection to a man called Sam who her family have never heard of before.

What then follows is a beautiful family drama about the connection between these special siblings and the abiding love between Amelia and Lexi gives the book its heart and soul. It is both heart warming and heart wrenching in equal measure and there were times when the author took every ounce of emotion and wrapped the story around my heart so that it will stay there long after other stories are finished and forgotten. Beautifully written, and sensitively explored, there is a steadfast family connection, some laugh out loud funny moments and a beautifully written love story which had me wiping away tears on more than one occasion.

Some books are so special that its difficult to describe them without giving far too much away and The Memory of Us  is one those stories which needs no spoilers from me, just read it.

About the Author

Dani Atkins has won the RNA Award three times and her books are sold in twenty countries. Born in London, she now lives in Hertfordshire with her family. Her emotionally charged novels explore the intricacies of human relationships and the power of love. Her writing journey comes from a lifelong passion for storytelling where she blends drama and romance. 

Her debut novel ‘Fractured’ led her to literary acclaim and followed with a bestselling repertoire of novels such as ‘The Story of Us’, ‘Our Song’ and ‘This Love’. Her latest novel ‘The Memory of Us’ reveals profound truths of the human experience and encourages readers to look at the key themes of family, love and sacrifice. The compelling narrative draws from her own personal experiences where a heart attack during lockdown led her to consider her own mortality and the pain and anguish that comes with that. 

In The Memory of Us the protagonists Amelia and Lexi hail from Dani’s own relationship with her best friend and the inseparable bonds of sisterhood, especially at times of trauma.

Twitter / X @AtkinsDani #TheMemoryofUs

Instagram @daniatkinsauthor



Thursday 15 February 2024

πŸ“– Publication Day ~ The Happiest Ever After by Milly Johnson

Simon & Schuster
15 February 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Polly Potter is surviving, not thriving. She used to love her job – until her mentor died and her new boss decided to make her life hell. She used to love her partner Chris – until he cheated on her, and now she can’t forget. The only place where her life is working is on the pages of the novel she is writing – there she can create a feistier, bolder, more successful version of herself – as the ­fictional Sabrina Anderson.

But what if it was possible to start over again? To leave everything behind, forget all that went before, and live the life you’d always dreamed of?

After a set of unforeseen circumstances, Polly ends up believing she really IS Sabrina, living at the heart of a noisy Italian family restaurant by the sea. Run by Teddy, the son of her new landlady Marielle, it’s a much-loved place, facing threat of closure as a rival restaurant moves in next door. Sabrina can’t remember her life as Polly, but she knows she is living a different life from the one she used to have.

But what if this new life could belong to her after all?

πŸ“– My Review..

Polly Potter should be living her best life but is pulled down by a mediocre relationship with her partner Chris and working for a boss who neither appreciates nor values her contribution to the business. Her escape from the mundanity of her life comes in writing about a fictional character called Sabrina who is everything that Polly is not. However, when an unexpected event occurs Polly wakes up believing that she really is Sabrina and her life takes off in a whole new direction ,

The Happiest Ever After is quite simply joy wrapped up in 400 pages of  delightful writing in a story which which has you laughing out loud one minute and then reaching for the tissue box as your heart strings get well and truly pulled.  I loved reading about Polly/ Sabrina, I cheered at her small triumphs and desperately wanted her to find the happiness she so richly deserved and hoped against hope that certain people in the story would get their comeuppance.  I especially loved the snippets from the Daily Trumpet which had me chortling into my cuppa at their apparent daftness. 

I really believe that special books come along just when you need them and as I gleefully escaped into the story the grey skies and rain clouds around me disappeared. Brilliantly observed, and as expertly written as all Milly Johnson's books are The Happiest Ever After is an absolute joy to read from start to finish.

About the Author

Milly Johnson was born, raised and still lives in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. A Sunday Times bestseller, she is one of the Top 10 Female Fiction authors in the UK, and has sold millions of copies of her books sold across the world. The Happiest Ever After is her twenty-first novel.

Follow on Social media

Twitter/X @millyjohnson


Wednesday 14 February 2024

πŸ’˜ Valentine's Day ~ Fourteen Poems about Kissing from Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this pamphlet

Most of us can remember our first kiss, whether it was glorious and transporting or merely awkward. Kissing, it transpires, can happen anywhere – on a train, in a city park or against a kitchen fridge.

The poems dramatise the fact that a kiss can make time stand still or send us into a dizzy spin:

“And the world all whirling
Round in joy
Like the dance of a dervish…”

from ‘Kisses in the Train’ by DH Lawrence

The selection wouldn’t be complete without a sly antidote to all this romance, which is why we’ve included Mary Ruefle’s ‘Why I Am Not A Good Kisser’ with its inventory of things not to do or think about when a kiss is in the offing.

Poems by Kim Addonizio, Marjorie Allen Seiffert, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Burns, William Drummond of Hawthornden, Hattie GrΓΌnewald, DH Lawrence, Roddy Lumsden, David Mills, Shazea Quraishi, Mary Ruefle, Roberta Spear, Sara Teasdale and Jean Toomer.

Cover illustration by Sara Boccaccini Meadows

πŸ’˜My Review..

Fourteen Poems about Kissing is the perfect poetry pamphlet for Valentine's Day as each of the poems share thoughts and feelings which are quite special. I've enjoyed reading the verses from poets who are well known and yet nestled like little gems are those lesser known poets who express, so eloquently, the emotion of kissing in its purest form.

' Your lips two pillows where my dreams rest.
where do conversations end and kisses begin
when syllables and lipstick wear the same breath?..'

From Syllables and Lipstick by David Mills

'Before you kissed me only the winds of Heaven
had kissed me and the tenderness of rain-
Now you have come, how can I care for kisses
Like theirs again?

From The Kiss by Sara Teasdale

The anthology is intimate, perfectly expressed and is a real treasure which captures the romance of Valentine's Day, a special anniversary or even a wedding day, and wraps everything so beautifully in the words of fourteen wonderful poems which stay in the mind, and heart, long after the pamphlet is closed πŸ’˜

About the Publisher

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/X @poetrycandle


Tuesday 13 February 2024

πŸ“– Publication Day ~ The Jerusalem Files by Corjan Mol and Christopher Morford


Watkins Publishing
13 February 2024

Thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

A non-fiction Da Vinci Code for the 21st century, this thrilling treasure hunt traces the voyage of the legendary Jewish Menorah from the Jerusalem of the Knights Templar through France, Portugal and North America, providing mind-blowing history and mystery for fans of The Curse of Oak Island.

The Jewish Menorah is one of the world’s most sacred artefacts, a man-size lampstand with seven arms, made from a single block of gold, that is an iconic symbol for the Jewish people. King Solomon placed it in the inner sanctum of the Temple of Jerusalem, but by the 5th century AD, all trace of it had disappeared from the official record, and it was assumed lost.

Two historical researchers, Corjan Mol and Christopher Morford, now reveal the astounding secret of what happened to the Menorah. Through their meticulous research as well as a jaw-dropping stroke of luck, Mol and Morford discovered that the Menorah was dug up from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in the time of the Crusades by the Knights Templar and smuggled to France with the help of the French King Louis IX. From there it was taken to Portugal, to end up in North America after interventions by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. The secret was hidden in plain sight in both France and North America, on a scale so big that it took 800 years for it to be discovered.

I am delighted to share an extract from The Jerusalem Files 
on its publication day 


An end and a beginning

In a dimly lit chapel at the western edge of Paris, the answer to a great mystery unraveled.

We stood on French soil in a sacred space, in a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Our feet straddled an invisible line—an imaginary arch stretching out before and behind us, connecting distant points, both east and west, spanning half the globe.

We were at the end of a long road, yet had arrived at a new beginning. In this holy place we found ourselves surrounded by architecture adorned with fragments of now all too familiar symbolism, the significance of which we now fully understood.

After many months of searching, the meaning of these symbols fell into place, and we were finally able to decipher and reveal the story they told.

The building we were standing in was almost Romanesque in style and possessed an austere atmosphere. A spire ascended over our heads, unique and unusual in form. From the top of it rose a curious miniature tower that appeared to have been secretly whisked away from a medieval castle and erected right here. In turn, this tiny tower was topped by a five-pointed star: a pentagram, which is the ancient symbol of Jerusalem and of Mary, as she is the Star of the Sea. These two—the tower and the pentagram—were clues that we had been following for some time. They were tell- tale signs laid out before us that crossed a span of centuries, cropping up time and time again during the course of our investigation.

Whenever we caught sight of one of these clues, it would spur us on, indicating to us that the footprints we were following were not imaginary. We knew of no such spire that existed anywhere else in the world, and had not come across anything even remotely similar on any other church or chapel.

We strode purposefully to the center of the chapel, crossing a flat, oval paving stone that we knew was the capstone of a solitary pillar in the crypt below, standing guard in the middle of a circular chamber, sealed long ago. As above, so below. It seemed as though every statue whispered that phrase.

On our way, we passed a large rectangular slab that sealed the entrance to the subterranean vault. It was situated directly in front of the altar, and we had smiled at the inscription on it: “Mementote Praepositorum Vestorum.” This was a quote from the Bible, Hebrews 13.7 (niv): “Remember your leaders.” It was a curious phrase, yet here, in this sanctified space, one of those very leaders was present.

The last rays of light from the setting sun illuminated the altar, shimmering down through the translucent body of a silent figure in the exquisite stained glass overhead. This was someone instantly recognizable to us: St Louis, King Louis IX of France, the legendary medieval sovereign who had impelled us to begin a journey that had us criss-crossing half the world, following the breadcrumbs which led, ultimately, to this precise location.

My thanks to Laura at Watkins Publishing for her kind permission to share this book extract

About the Authors

Corjan Mol is a Dutch entrepreneur and historical researcher, who has featured in several TV documentaries, including BBCs Forbidden series. He is a researcher, theorist and recurring cast member of the #1 American rated cable reality TV show The Curse of Oak Island.

Christopher Morford is a 32nd degree Freemason, Gnostic bishop and occult historian and restaurateur from South Carolina who is a featured theorist and consulting researcher on The Curse of Oak Island TV reality show.

Twitter / X @watkinswisdom 


Discover more about The Jerusalem Files

Monday 12 February 2024

πŸ“– Book Review ~ What We Thought We Knew by Claire Dyer


25 January 2024

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

The families at numbers two, four and six Penwood Heights are connected by work, friendship, the loss of a child and a secret truth which has sat in the bedrock of their lives for years. In the centre of this tight-knit group is Faith, who believes her job is to act as a paperweight, keeping them all safe. And she does this until someone from her past reappears and threatens to sabotage everything. And, as the pieces fall, these families, these friends, realise that what they thought they knew about one another was nothing more than make-believe. They also discover that trust is illusory and for Faith, at least, that keeping other people’s secrets can be more dangerous than keeping her own.

πŸ“– My Review...

Penwood Heights is home to three families whose lives intertwine, their children play together, and the husbands drink in the local pub whilst their wives host movie nights and dinner parties. They pick blackberries in the woods and picnic in summer meadows. They laugh together, celebrate successes together and then ultimately they grieve together when tragedy rocks the foundations of their close knit group. Moving forward and backwards in time we get a sharp view of these three families, we witness the after effects of the tragedy and we move with them as they pick up the pieces, some coping better than others but always seeming to remain a cohesive whole. Faith is the one person who seems to holds them all together but when something happens to disturb the equilibrium, it is Faith who bears the brunt of the fallout.

Beautifully written and sensitively explored this story unpicks the myriad threads of interconnected friendship and family life, revealing tangled secrets which would be better if they had been left hidden. However, the  inevitability of secrets being exposed and dissolved reveals much and these revelations are what gives the book its absolute strength and makes the story compelling reading. I raced through the story in a couple of sittings as I really couldn’t put the book down and wanted to know how this tangled web of secrets would evolve and eventually play out in the wider scheme of events.

I’ve now read several books by this talented author and each one leaves me wanting more. What We Thought We Knew will remain with me for quite some time and has already secured its place on my Book of the Year list. 

About the Author

Claire Dyer’s poetry collections are published by Two Rivers Press, her novels by Quercus, The Dome Press, Matador and Pegasus. Her latest novel is ‘What We Thought We Knew’, and a further collection, ‘The Adjustments’, is forthcoming with Two Rivers Press in April 2024. She teaches creative writing and runs Fresh Eyes, an editorial and critiquing service. She is Poetry Consultant to the Council of the SWWJ, has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and is represented by Broo Doherty at DHH Literary Agency.

X/Twitter @clairedyer1

Website Facebook Instagram

Amazon UK

Thursday 8 February 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Summer of Lies by Louise Douglas

Boldwood Books
7 February 2024

My thanks to the publisher and to Rachel's Random Resources for the invitation to the tour

The summer is the hottest yet in the Brittany coastal town of Morranez, but when a new case lands on the desk of the Toussaints detective agency, there can be no time to relax. As wild fires bear down on the town, the alert goes out for a missing girl.

Nineteen-year-old Briony Moorcroft has seemingly been taken from her sleepy Welsh village and brought to France. Her parents are baffled and scared – Briony needs her life-saving medicine or this case will become even more sinister, and with the police dragging their heels, the Moorcrofts are relying on Mila Shephard and Carter Jackson’s sleuthing skills.

Meanwhile there are mysteries troubling Mila’s life too. Two years after the accident that swept her sister Sophie and brother-in-law Charlie away and left their daughter Ani in Mila’s care, new evidence resurfaces that makes Mila doubt everything.

Can Carter and Mila find Briony before it’s too late? And is the truth about Sophie and Charlie finally about to be revealed…

πŸ“– My Review..

Working for the Touissaints Detective Agency in Brittany, Mila Shepard and Carter Jackson are charged with searching for Briony Moorcroft who is missing from her home in England and is presumed to be in France with a woman who may do her harm. With nothing much to go on, and with time ticking away, Mila and Carter must do all they can to find the missing girl as soon as possible.

The story moves along at a cracking pace and I enjoyed following not just Mila and Carter’s quest to find Briony but also the snippets of information about a recent tragedy in Mila’s life which has resulted in her being based in France and caring for her niece Ani. I liked very much the emotional aspect of the story especially the details of Mila’s life and her struggle to come to terms with the sadness which surrounds her. I also followed the missing person investigation with trepidation, enjoying how the author controlled the tension whilst allowing all the complicated strands of the story to come together.

What I love about this author’s skilful writing is her ability to capture the reader’s imagination right from the start and her strength in bringing a multilayered and complex story to life is done with huge insight into what makes people tick.  I was really sorry when the story came to end but was delighted to discover that the ending lends itself to a further continuation, which will definitely be something to look forward to in the future. 

The Summer of Lies is a follow up to The Lost Notebook which I read and enjoyed in 2022.

About the Author

Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author and an RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country.

Follow on social media

Twitter @LouiseDouglas3 # TheSummerOfLies

@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers




Tuesday 6 February 2024

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Sugar Less by Nicole M. Avena


Union Square & Co
8 February 2024

My thanks to Midas PR for my copy of this book

Too many of us blame our lack of willpower for our sugar cravings rather than acknowledge that sugar is everywhere around us—and is highly addictive. It’s unsurprising that even the best-intentioned people struggle with kicking the habit, since approximately 80% of products in a supermarket contain sugar, and much of it is hidden.

In Sugarless, Dr. Avena—a leading expert on food addiction—spells out the substance's detrimental effects on the brain and body by providing cutting-edge research on its addictive qualities, which are comparable to that of cocaine, nicotine, and alcohol. Then she provides a simple-to-follow 7-step program (along with 30 sugar-free recipes) that will help readers gradually wean themselves off sugar and other sweeteners and break the vicious diet cycle. Ultimately, readers will be able to break free of the sugar shackles, without self-blame.

Dr. Avena was the first to study sugar addiction in the laboratory, and she has authored more than 100 scholarly journal articles on the topic. Today, she’s the world’s leading expert on sugar addiction, and her findings have informed our overall understanding of nutrition and health.

Sugarless has a foreword by the 12th-time New York Times bestselling author and integrative psychiatrist Daniel Amen, MD who has a huge following in the health and wellness space.

πŸ“– My Review..

Like everyone, I know that I have far too much refined sugar in my diet and even though I start off with good intentions of giving up I can never truly eradicate sugar from my diet completely but I really would like to cut down on my intake  however that's easier said than done. That's why this book has been  a timely reminder of just what damage sugar does to our metabolism and gives us an idea of how much better we would feel if we made the effort , not just to cut down, but to go completely sugar free.

Sugar Less is an easy book to read, although I would have liked larger print, and it is nicely informative without being preachy. I enjoyed reading the different chapters and found much to think about in the seven steps of the plan which covers diverse topics such as how sugar is harming your health at step one, through to being  sugar less for life in the book's conclusion.

It's not an easy task to break a dependence on food and this book doesn't aim to fix things overnight nor does it pretend to be the definitive guide but I found it a good stepping stone and fully intend to give becoming sugar less a try. The 30 sugar free recipes at the end of the book are  a nice little bonus and an incentive to give them a try.

About the Author

Nicole Avena, PhD, is a pioneering research neuroscientist and expert in the fields of nutrition, diet, and addiction. She’s the author of several books on nutrition and early development, including What to Eat When You’re Pregnant (2015), which has sold over 40,000 copies. Dr. Avena is assistant professor of neuroscience at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and a visiting professor in health psychology at Princeton University. She received a PhD in psychology and neuroscience from Princeton University in 2006, and then completed her postdoctoral fellowship in 2010 at the prestigious Rockefeller University in New York City.

Dr. Avena has published over 100 scholarly journal articles on topics related to diet, nutrition, and overeating, and she frequently presents her research findings at major scientific conferences and university symposia. She has also served as a consultant to Nestle, the parent company for Enfamil, and others. Dr. Avena is a go-to expert on diet and nutrition in national media and often appears on The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctors, and CNN. She writes regularly for, MindBodyGreen, and ShareCare.

Instagram: drnicoleavena

Twitter: DrNicoleAvena

Facebook: DrNicoleAvena


Union Square & Co. is a talent-driven publisher whose mission is to promote excellence in contemporary publishing and to honour the vision of our creators by providing best-in-class production, editorial and design choices. Headquartered in New York City, Union Square & Co., LLC, is a subsidiary of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., and includes the adult imprints Union Square & Co., Puzzlewright Press and Sterling Ethos; the children’s imprints Union Square Kids and Boxer Books; and the gift and stationery publisher Knock Knock. For more information, visit

Monday 5 February 2024

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The King's Witch by Tracy Borman


Hodder & Stoughton

Frances Gorges Trilogy #1

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

As she helps to nurse the dying Queen Elizabeth, Frances Gorges longs for the fields and ancient woods of her parents' Hampshire estate, where she has learned to use the flowers and herbs to become a much-loved healer.Frances is happy to stay in her beloved countryside when the new King arrives from Scotland, bringing change, fear and suspicion. His court may be shockingly decadent, but James's religion is Puritan, intolerant of all the old ways; he has already put to death many men for treason and women for witchcraft.So when her ambitious uncle forcibly brings Frances to court, she is trapped in a claustrophobic world of intrigue and betrayal - and a ready target for the twisted scheming of Lord Cecil, the King's first minister.Surrounded by mortal dangers, Frances finds happiness only with the precocious young Princess Elizabeth, and Tom Wintour, the one courtier she can trust. Or can she?'

πŸ“–My Review..

An Elizabethan at heart, Frances Gorges is forced to spend time at the Jacobean court of King James I. Much preferring to spend time in her herb garden at her home in  Hampshire, Frances feels claustrophobic at the court at Whitehall and her role as lady-in-waiting to the young Princess Elizabeth places her very firmly at the heart of intrigue. Her growing friendship with the enigmatic courtier Tom Wintour will place Frances in a very precarious position and her skill with healing brings her into dangerous contact with the King as he continues his quest to rid England of its multitude of witches.

I’m a bit late to the party with this one as, I’m sorry to say, it has languished on my Kindle since its publication but I’m really pleased to have discovered the story now. Beautifully written and meticulously researched, this is the first in a trilogy of novels which feature this bold and feisty heroine. I enjoyed getting to know Frances Gorges in this first book which sets the scene and brings to life the dangerous, and decadent, Jacobean court. Placing the book very firmly at the start of the reign of James I will allow the series to progress and I especially enjoyed learning more about the Gunpowder Plot which features very strongly in The King's Witch.

Looking forward to completing the trilogy:


Tracy Borman is a historian and author from Scothern, Lincolnshire, England. She is most widely known as the author of Elizabeth's Women, a portrait-gallery of the powerful women who influenced Queen Elizabeth I. In July 2022 Borman was made Chancellor of Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln.

Twitter / X @tracyborman