Tuesday 30 April 2024

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Ten Poems about Butterflies from Candlestick Press


Candlestick Press
April 2024

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

Butterflies must be the most beautiful of all insects. They are with us while the warm weather lasts, and seeing a Brimstone in a garden early in the year is one of the most delightful heralds of spring’s arrival.

The vividness and frailty of butterflies as they flicker across our summer meadows are why they seem to embody a sense of transience – and may also be why they are so popular with poets. For Judith Wright a butterfly’s short life is all about love:

“Lifted by air and dream
they rose and circled into heaven’s slipstream
to seek each other over fields of blue.”

from ‘Wings’ by Judith Wright

This glorious selection celebrates butterflies from all over the world – from a Swallowtail in the English Fens to a Spotted Jezebel in Australia – and reminds us to look closely at their dazzling beauty while we can.

Poems by Nandi Chinna, John Clare, WH Davies, Emily Dickinson, Robert Graves, Matthew Hollis, John Kinsella, Grace Nichols, Giles Watson and Judith Wright.

Cover illustration by Carry Akroyd.

 πŸ“–My Review ..

There's nothing more magical than seeing a butterfly appear on a warm summer's afternoon and as it gently flits from flower to flower there is a visible gentleness which belies its strength. However, some of our native British butterflies are in decline, environmental changes and loss of habitat means that since the 1970s over 80% of our native butterflies have declined, which is a tragic loss. This collection of ten poems celebrates these beautiful insects and reminds us just how precious they are to our global eco system.

Emily Dickinson's From Cocoon forth a Butterfly gets the collection off to a wonderful start:

" From Cocoon forth  a Butterfly
As Lady from her Door
Emerged - a Summer Afternoon
Repairing Everywhere "

I'm always excited when I spot a butterfly I recognise and Speckled Wood by Giles Watson shares the magic of this delicate insect:

"Speckled Woods get me every time
with that sudden flash of twenty-four carat
gold, inlaid with sepia, perching on a leaf "

To an early butterfly from The Village Minstrel by John Clare reminds of our long fascination with these exquisite creatures:

" Thrice welcome here again thou fluttering thing
That gaily seeks about the opening flower
& opes & shuts thy gaudy spangld wing
Upon its bosom in the sunny hour "

These stunning little creatures, who add such a touch of magic to a warm afternoon, are justifiably celebrated in this collection of ten wonderful poems. The colourful cover, with its beautiful illustrations of Painted Ladies, Peacocks, Holly Blues, Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers, make this poetry pamphlet something quite special.  A perfect gift instead of a card for anyone who loves the simple beauty of butterflies and the natural world.

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

Monday 29 April 2024

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Sorry Men by Daniel Bird


Signal 8 Press
1 March 2024

My thanks to Cameron Publicity for my copy of this book

A father has his daughter’s crayon drawings tattooed all over his body so he can never lose sight of them. A commuter pretends to be Russian in an attempt to avoid being robbed. After a first date, a lovesick man plays it cooler than anybody ever has. The ex-husband of a lottery winner finds optimism in the numbers she chose. Two astronauts scour the solar system for a new home for mankind whilst pining for their exes. The world of Sorry Men is one of earnestness and desperation;fate and farce; hilarity and hopelessness. It absolutely will not restore your faith in men.

πŸ“– My Review..

I read through Sorry Men in the space of an afternoon, dipping into and out of the stories at whim. Some made me smile, others made me ponder and even one or two exasperated me but collectively this set of 35 shortish stories kept me entertained.

The author writes well and gets the gist of the story across with relatively few words something that is not always easy to do, especially in a story which sometimes lasts just a few pages. As with any collection there were definitely some stories which I enjoyed more than others but that's the simple beauty of a collection, if you don't like the story, you can just move on to the next one.

The premise of the story reads that It absolutely will not restore your faith in men which I think is fair comment as none of these stories show men in a particularly favourable way but at least you know what you are getting and it's a quirky read which may appeal to some readers more than others.

About the Author

Daniel Bird grew up in Dorset, England, where he never missed a day of his paper round. He studied Drama and Theatre Arts at Royal Holloway, University of London. His stories are usually comical, occasionally dark, and always short.

His work has appeared in Liars’ League Hong Kong; Litro; Reflex Press; Mono; Fragmented Voices, and Coffin Bell. He lives and works in Hong Kong.

His first book Sorry Men is now available in paperback and ebook.


Friday 26 April 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~The Human Kind by Alexander Baron


Imperial War Museum

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


Alexander Baron’s remarkable Trilogy of the Second World War to be published together for the first time

Spanning the Sicilian countryside to the brothels of Ostend, and the final book in Alexander Baron’s War Trilogy, The Human Kind is a series of pithy vignettes reflective of the author’s own wartime experiences.

From the interminable days of training in Britain to brutal combat across Northwest Europe, the book depicts many of the men, women – and, in some cases, children – affected by the widespread reach of the Second World War.

In his trademark spare prose, Baron’s work provides an emotive and incisive snapshot into the lives of myriad characters during this tumultuous period in history.

Based on Alexander Baron’s own wartime experiences, this new edition of a 1953 classic includes an introduction from IWM which puts the work in historical context, and concludes the author’s War Trilogy.

πŸ“– My Review..

Based on the author’s own wartime experiences, and first published in 1953, this last volume completes the War Trilogy which began with From the City, From the Plough and There’s No Home. In this collection of twenty five short stories Alexander Baron focuses on what war meant to the ordinary people who were caught up in extraordinary events. It’s an interesting collection and perhaps not what I was expecting, as it reads a bit like a personal memoir however, each of the stories have a beautiful lyrical quality which bring into stark reality some unique war time experiences. 

Some stories are quite difficult to read with emotional content which show the suffering, others are a little lighter but no less powerful. I was particularly impressed by The White Domain which shares the experiences of coal miners who were working alongside soldiers in constructing underground headquarters and on finishing Old Beethoven I have to admit to shedding a few tears. There are many of the twenty five stories which have stayed with me, particularly Chicolino which reiterates the vulnerability of children and their means of survival.

I have been particularly impressed by the stark power of these stories which linger in your mind even when you move onto the next one. Beautifully written, The Human Kind reminded me that although for us in the twenty first century these stories now read as historical fiction, for the author, this challenging time was his war-time reality and his powerful writing reminds us, quite forcibly, of that fact.

About the Author

Alexander Baron (1917 – 1999) was a British author and screenwriter. Widely acclaimed in his lifetime, he rose to prominence with his first novel, From the City, From the Plough, published in 1948 and based on his experiences of D-Day and the advance into Normandy.

It quickly became a bestseller, achieving both popular success and critical acclaim, and reportedly went on to sell in excess of one million copies. The novel cemented Baron’s reputation as a skilled, powerful, authentic writer, and he went on to write many more books, including the second and third in the sequence, both best-sellers, alongside scripts for Hollywood and screenplays for the BBC.

Twitter /  X @I_W_M #WartimeClassics #TheHumanKind

@AngelaMaryMar @RandomTTours

Wednesday 24 April 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Irish Key by Daisy O'Shea


24 April 2024

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of the book
and the invitation to be part of the blog tour

‘Take the key, my pet. I can’t ever go back. The last letter I had from Ireland was clear about that. But one day you may need a safe haven, and it’s the one thing I can give you. Ireland is in your blood, it will keep you safe.’

When Grace arrives tired, tearful and rain-soaked in Roone Bay, the little Irish village where her grandmother Caitlin grew up, she is overwhelmed with longing for Caitlin’s safe, warm arms. The crumbling wreck of Caitlin’s once-beautiful childhood cottage – whose key Grace was given on her wedding day as a secret refuge if she ever needed it – is not the fresh start she’d hoped for. But with her young daughter Olivia to look after and a painful past to hide from, Grace has to stay strong. 

Plucking up the courage to ask for help from her kind new neighbours – including quietly rugged carpenter Sean Murphy – Grace gets to work making the house habitable. Soon the view of the deep emerald sea has her captivated, Olivia is blossoming, and Sean makes her laugh in a way she’d forgotten she could… As she learns more about her family history, with Sean by her side, Grace’s curiosity unearths only further mystery. 

What drove Caitlin away from Ireland, never to return? But when Grace uncovers a long-lost letter to Caitlin that reveals the heartbreaking truth, she is suddenly threatened by her own devastating secrets. Grace may have finally found a home for her little family. But when faced with everything she ran from, will the past tear her apart once more? Or will Grace find the strength to stand up for her daughter, her love for Sean, and her new life in Ireland?

πŸ“– My Review

Grace and her daughter Olivia arrive in the small coastal village of Roone Bay in Ireland. Leaving her controlling husband has been a huge upheaval but Grace is determined to make  a fresh start in the place where her family once called home. However, she arrives to find the family home little more than a ruin and with no place to stay Grace is astonished at the kindness of strangers and with the help of these kind people Grace and Olivia can begin to heal.

Beautifully written with a strong theme of special friendships and the anguish of long buried secrets The Irish Key soon finds its way into your heart and I couldn't wait to see how Grace and Olivia's story would play out in the wider context of this lovely story. I enjoyed the interactions between the central characters especially Grace's burgeoning relationship with Sean Murphy and the special connection she has with Noel O'Donovan who owns the big house in the village.

Filled with a strong sense of time and place the story moves between time frames so that we get to understand what Grace is leaving behind and with the strength of the story in Ireland pulling the whole thing together this really is a memorable story and one which stays with you long after the last page is read.

About the Author

Sue Lewando was a teacher for several years before migrating to the office environment, where she was PA to the Treasurer of Clarks Shoes, a multi-national company, then, briefly, PA to Susan George, the actress best known for Straw Dogs. Sue had many genre books published (M&B and Virgin), under pseudonyms, and self-publishes her crime thrillers. She was on the committee of the Romantic Novelists’ Association in England, for whom she assessed typescripts. She has been a fiction tutor for the London School of Journalism for twenty years. She has two grown-up children, a happy second marriage, and a bundle of cats and dogs. She moved to West Cork with her husband to undertake a farmhouse refurbishment project, foster their joint passion for playing Irish traditional music, and to invest time in their individual academic projects. She recently completed a Masters in Creative Writing at UCC, taking the opportunity to explore diverse writing genres. She works with the Jeremy Murphy Literary Consultancy in the capacity of typescript analyst, ghostwriter, editor, and online publishing advisor. She loves good commercial fiction, and is a devotee of the Oxford comma.

Twitter / X @bookouture #TheIrishKey #BooksOnTour

Tuesday 23 April 2024

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Times’s Prisoner by Linda Gillard


10 February 2024
Independently Published

The dead are invisible. They are not absent.

With her personal and professional life in ruins, Jane Summers, author of historical whodunnits, receives an extraordinary bequest from an old enemy. But there’s a condition attached. If she is to become more than just a sitting tenant at Wyngrave Hall, a crumbling Elizabethan manor house, Jane must solve a centuries-old mystery.

She invites a motley crew of women to share her new life at the Hall: Rosamund, a tough but troubled nurse; Sylvia, retired actress and national treasure; loyal Bridget, gardener and handywoman, who knows the chequered history of Wyngrave Hall and understood the selfish eccentricities of its previous owner.

But unknown to the women of Wyngrave Hall, there is another, unseen occupant, one with a desperate agenda: to enlist Jane’s help solving the coldest of cold cases.

πŸ“–My Review..

Jane Summers is astonished by an unexpected legacy which gives her the tenancy of Wyngrave Hall, an Elizabethan Manor House which has its fair share of secrets. Sharing her good fortune with three other women, Jane soon finds that the house has its own distinct personality and with a centuries old mystery to solve she soon finds that there is certainly enough to keep her occupied.

As always this talented author brings time and place alive in the imagination, the story is wonderfully descriptive and as the mystery is revealed piece by piece so we get a glimpse into the dark heart of Wyngrave Hall and the deadly secret which as been kept for centuries. The cast of characters blend into the story so seamlessly that there are never any clunky moments or the distraction of one character hogging the limelight although there is one mysterious character who I developed a real fondness for and enjoyed their time on the page. Moments of humour interspersed with a genuine feeling of doom the story reads like a Shakespearean tragedy which is enhanced by quotations from Hamlet which head each chapter and which herald events as they unfold.  

Time’s Prisoner is a lovely blended story which takes the sadness and secrets of the past and brings them entirely up to date in a compelling story which resonates from the chilling prologue and which doesn’t let go of your imagination until the last page is turned and even then days after I finished I found myself wondering how the occupants of Wyngrave Hall were faring. I’m thrilled to learn that the author is writing a sequel. Fabulous!

About the Author

Linda Gillard lives in North Lanarkshire, Scotland. She’s the author of ten novels, including STAR GAZING, shortlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year in 2009 and the Robin Jenkins Literary Award for writing that promotes the Scottish landscape.

HOUSE OF SILENCE and THE MEMORY TREE became Kindle bestsellers. Linda's tenth novel, TIME'S PRISONER was published in February 2024 and she's now working on a sequel.

Monday 22 April 2024

πŸ“– Publication Day Book Review ~ A Duke of One's Own by Emma Orchard

22 April 2024

Thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Summer, 1816. A notorious rebel is about to meet her match...

Lady Georgiana Pendlebury is no stranger to breaking the rules of polite society. But when a so-called ‘friend’ invites her to a clandestine party, Georgiana is shocked to discover the event is more scandalous than even she could have imagined. So when a mysterious stranger offers help, she accepts, not realising their encounter will turn her life upside down.

Later that summer, Georgiana is invited to attend a house party at an infamous castle in Yorkshire. The gathering is a loosely veiled effort to arrange a marriage for the Duke of Northriding, who desperately needs an heir. Duke Gabriel Mauleverer has a terrible reputation as a rake, and Georgiana is happy to be a guest purely for the entertainment, but upon arrival, she is shocked to discover that the Duke is none other than the stranger who rescued her weeks earlier.

As the other ladies vie for the Duke’s attention, Georgiana is desperate to avoid their shocking secret getting out. But she finds herself caught, unable to avoid Gabriel’s gaze. Are they a threat to each other? Or could they be the answer to each other’s greatest desires?

My Review..

Lady Georgiana Pendlebury isn't your usual Regency miss, she enjoys a rather unconventional lifestyle which inevitably leads her into trouble. Her meeting, one night, with a mysterious stranger changes the course of both their lives and brings unexpected results. Whilst the Silver Duke has his own rather louche lifestyle, he can't get this beautiful stranger out of his mind and when he meets her again, sparks fly in more ways than one.

This is a lively, and rather spicy, romp through the vagaries of Regency society where there is never a dull moment as we observe as aged rouΓ©s gather in the jaded decadence of a London salon, to the starkness of a Yorkshire castle where prospective brides are paraded in front of Gabriel Mauleverer, Duke of Northriding, as he attempts to pick out his future wife.  I raced through the story in a couple of afternoons, there's a nice amount of intrigue to keep interest, and lots of sparky passion between the lead characters and whilst the peripheral characters add interest this really is Georgie and Gabriel's story. 

A Duke of One's Own has a hint of a modern day Georgette Heyer, the narrative is authentic, no modernisms to spoil the flow, and whilst it is unashamedly sexy, it is also super duper romantic.

About the Author

Emma Orchard was born in Salford. She studied English Literature at the Universities of Edinburgh and York, before working behind the scenes in publishing and television for many years. Her first job was at Mills & Boon, where she met her husband in a classic enemies-to-lovers romance. She now lives in North London.

X @EmmaOrchardB #ADukeofOnesOwn


Wednesday 17 April 2024

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Gathering by C J Tudor

Michael Joseph

11 April 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book


In a small Alaskan town, a boy is found with his throat ripped out and the blood drained from his body.

The brutality of the murder of chillingly echoes a killing from twenty-five years ago.

Out-of-state detective Barbara Atkins is brought in to assist the sheriff, Jensen Tucker, who investigated the original case.

However, the inhabitants of Deadhart believe they know who is responsible: one of the nearby vampyr colony who live in an old mining settlement deep in the mountains.

Barbara is under pressure to authorize a cull of the entire colony.

But the evidence doesn’t stack up, people are lying, and the more Barbara and Tucker delve into Deadhart’s history, the darker the secrets they uncover.

As the snow thickens and the nights grow longer, another teenager goes missing and body parts are found.

Time is running out for Barbara and Tucker to find the truth.

Are they hunting a cold-blooded murderer, or a bloodthirsty monster?

And which is more dangerous?

πŸ“– My Review..

Out-of-State Detective Barbara Atkins isn't given the warmest of welcomes when she arrives at the remote Alaskan town of Deadhart but then she has been sent to investigate the horrific death of a teenager who the townsfolk believe to have been murdered by one of the vampyrs who live in the out of town colony. However, there is little evidence to support this and with tempers running high Barbara is fighting not just the townsfolk whose hatred of the vampyr community is legendary but also the vampyrs themselves whose ancient malevolence is as palpable as it is threatening.

Thanks to this author's atmospheric description of life in small town Alaska I felt as if I had stepped out into the cold and snow with Barbara as she sets about challenging misconceptions and untruths, whilst at the same time she hunts a violent killer who will stop at nothing. In linking the bigotry and hatred of the townsfolk with a similar loathing of humans by the vampyr community you have a combustible situation which threatens to spiral out of control. With its creepy atmosphere and challenging characters, Deadhart, with its community of bigoted townsfolk, and violent vampyrs is very much a central character in this chilling story, and even though the town and its people really scared me, I can't wait to go there again. The cleverly controlled ending of The Gathering certainly hints that there might well be a return visit. Bring it on !! 😱😱

About the Author

C. J. Tudor is a British author whose books include The Chalk Man and The Hiding Place. She was born in Salisbury, England but grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives.

X @CJTudor


Thursday 11 April 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Running on Empty: 18,000 Miles Down Africa with Parkinson's by Guy Deacon

Delighted to be part of this blog tour on

 World Parkinson's Day


Publication Day

Ad Lib
11 April 2024

Thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Aged 60 and having lived with Parkinson’s disease for over 10 years, Guy Deacon CBE set out for one last adventure, to drive solo from his home in the UK to South Africa. This incredible journey, crossing Europe and the full length of Africa, would take the former army officer and father of two over 12 months, 18,000 miles, 25 countries, 5 breakdowns, an emergency evacuation and 3650 prescription pills.

Quite simply an incredible feat for a man travelling alone with Stage 3 Parkinson’s.

With very little use of his hands, poor spatial awareness and often appearing drunk to those who do not understand the disease, Guy would drive, live and sleep in his VW Transporter for 12 months, often camping alone in the jungle and remote spots hundreds of miles from the nearest village or town.

Guy's VW Transporter
By kind permission of the publisher

Navigating himself through cities and towns without knowing the language, Guy would often get lost and relied on locals for directions after taking a wrong turn or when network coverage killed his GPS or when the roads weren’t marked on the map.

Throughout the 18,000 mile journey Guy kept a video diary and was joined on four occasions by a documentary maker. This has resulted in 85 hours of footage and several thousand photographs of this incredible adventure through the heart of Africa which will be made into a 1 hour documentary for Channel 4 to be released in Spring 2024.

Guy was supported throughout his journey by The Cure Parkinson’s Trust a charity set up to find a cure for Parkinson’s as well as Parkinson’s Africa, whose mission is to raise awareness and empower those with Parkinson’s to make informed decisions about their own health.

πŸ“– My Review...

I am in awe of anyone who challenges themselves for the good of others and this intrepid journey across Africa by Guy Deacon shows the mettle of the man. His absolute strength of character shines through and whilst the journey was fraught with problems and discomfort Guy never lost track of his goal which was ultimately to raise awareness for Parkinson's Disease. 

I enjoyed reading the first part of the book which details Guy's army career, this gave an insight into his personality and allowed a glimpse of his tenacity and strength of will so that the epic journey of 18,000 miles, 25 countries, 5 breakdowns, an emergency evacuation and 3650 prescription pills wasn't so out of character but of course, due to the debilitating nature of Parkinson's disease, it would prove to be a huge challenge. 

The detail of his journey in his trusted VW Transporter was an eye popping mission and I enjoyed reading of Guy's 'adventures', the people he met en route, the incredible acts of kindness he encountered, along with elements of uncertainty and also of his unique connection to others who suffer from this illness and those doctors in Africa who are doing what they can to combat the disease. Accompanied occasionally by a documentary film maker, Guy's incredible journey will feature in a Channel 4 documentary which is due to air in Spring 2024.

As this is World Parkinson's Day I am delighted to have been asked to be part of this blog tour, to acknowledge Guy's remarkable achievement and also to raise awareness for this debilitating disease. Parkinson's Disease is a neurological condition for which there is no cure however, there are ways to control the condition with medication. Living with the illness is both challenging and frustrating and all credit to the author for raising awareness of this debilitating disease.

About the Author

Guy Deacon CBE joined The British Army in 1985 after reading anthropology at Durham University. During his time as a student and in the early years of his career in The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, he travelled extensively throughout Africa.

His career has taken him all over the world including 18 months in The Congo with the UN after which he was awarded an OBE for his services in disarming and demobilising rebel forces. After a wide variety of roles, his later career was spent in managing careers of officers and soldiers and he ended up as Colonel of The Royal Armoured Corps where he was responsible for much of the strategic thinking on how The Royal Armoured Corps could best provide an armoured capability to UK Defence. For this work he was awarded a CBE. He retired in 2019.

Guy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010 on his return from The Congo. He carried on working until the age of 57. At that point he started planning his journey from the UK to South Africa which has occupied his time since.

As an ambassador for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and Parkinson’s Africa, Guy has visited 25 African countries and spotlighted the issues associated with Parkinson’s disease in Africa. He has appeared on local and national television and radio in most of the countries he visited reaching in the region of 500 million people. His message was clear:

Parkinson’s is a straightforward neurological condition with no cause nor cure and certainly not a result of witchcraft; that it is not contagious and people with Parkinson’s should not be isolated. Any stigma associated with the disease should be rebutted.

Guy lives in Dorset with his wife and their dog. He has two grown up children. He continues to raise awareness of the issues of Parkinson’s as best he can, despite suffering from the condition himself.

About Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is the fastest growing neurological condition in the world. The underlying symptoms of Parkinson’s are treated with a range of medication, but currently none of these slow, stop or reverse the progression of the disease. Parkinson’s makes day-to-day activities such as eating, getting dressed or using everyday objects like a phone or computer difficult. The main symptoms of Parkinson’s are tremor, muscle stiffness and slowness of movement.

Social Media

X @ghjdeacon

@CureParkinsonsT #WorldParkinsonsDay


Tuesday 9 April 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ The Little Penguin Bookshop by Joanna Toye


11 April 2024

My thanks to the publisher for the invitation to the blog tour

Books can change lives, even in wartime. . .

When World War II breaks out, Carrie Anderson sets up a bookstall at her local train station in the hope of providing a sense of escapism for travellers, troops and evacuees.

Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and armed with a colourful array of Penguin paperbacks, Carrie’s business soon booms. And when she gifts a book to a dashing officer, an act of kindness becomes the beginning of Carrie’s very own love story.

But as war rages on, and Mike is posted abroad, Carrie’s world is turned upside-down.

With the help of her station community, and the power of her paperbacks, can Carrie find the strength to battle through?

πŸ“– My Review..

Whilst the prospect of opening a bookstall at her local train station is daunting it is also a dream come true for eighteen year-old Carrie Anderson whose love of books shines through. Catering for those who are passing through this busy station on their way to London, Carrie not only caters to general passengers but also to the troops who are en route to France. Carrie's colourful display of sixpenny Penguin paperbacks soon proves to be very popular and are a welcome escape from a troubled world. 

Setting the story at the very onset of WW2 allows the momentum to grow slowly and as we get to know Carrie and her lovely family so we begin emotional ties which will last throughout the whole of the book. In many ways it is a gentle coming of age story as by running her own business Carrie starts to gain in confidence and independence whilst at the same time experiencing an emotional attachment to a handsome officer. The other characters who form a big part of the story have their own particular troubles and I have enjoyed getting to know Bette and Ruby in the tea-shop, and also Penny who takes up the role of railway porter. The warmth and companionship of these women help Carrie through some troubling times and add a lovely dynamic to this charming story. The ending of the book certainly lends itself to a continuation and I hope we get to see more of Carrie and her family and friends in future stories.

The Little Penguin Bookshop is a really lovely story which shows that when people are struggling to come to terms with what's happening to them books can be a welcome escape from reality.

About the Author

Jo wrote for many years as a writer and producer on saops ranging from Radio 4'ds The archers to TV's Doctors and EastEnders. She wrote several spin-off books and novelisations before inventing her own fictional world in six previous sagas: her World War Two 'Shop Girls' and 'Victory Girls' titles. She lives in the countryside near Bath - perfect for walking and plotting!

X @JoannaToye #LittlePenguinBookShop


Monday 8 April 2024

πŸ“– Blog Tour ~ Dangerous Times on Dressmakers' Alley by Rosie Clarke


Boldwood Books
5 April 2024

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

Welcome to Dressmakers Alley, a twisted place filled with dark and deadly secrets London’s East End 1923

In the heart of Dressmakers Alley Madame Pauline’s sweatshop is rumoured to be a particularly unpleasant place to work. Filled with seamstresses paid a pittance who turn a blind eye to what darker activities are hidden behind locked doors.

Young Winnie Brown is keen to prove her value to the Women Movements and secures a job as a seamstress to investigate the whispers of some unsavoury goings on. Her concerns are soon justified when she discovers that there are terrible things afoot, as she hears a desperate cry for help.

Meanwhile, happily married, Lady Diane Cooper is the darling of London’s high-society. Beautiful and talented, she seemingly has it all. But the strict constraint’s society assigns her leaves her friustated, she craves more freedom. With the help of her devoted dresser Susie can she realise her dream?

What is the connection between Lady Diane's world and the poor exploited young women of Dressmakers Alley? Can the two worlds come together for the good of all?

πŸ“– My Review..

Those who have read this author's previous historical sagas will be delighted with the opportunity to start a new series which is set during the early years of the twentieth century. In the aftermath of WW1 the country is starting to get back to some semblance of its pre-war status and yet there are still huge divisions between those who have money and those, like Winnie Brown, who need to make ends meet. A supporter of the Women's Movement, young Winnie is persuaded to take up a meagre role in order to infiltrate a dressmakers establishment on the aptly named Dressmakers' Alley in a seedier part of  the East End of London where it is suspected that some nefarious deeds are taking place.

With her usual warmth and empathetic style of writing the author weaves a story which is quite dark in places and filled with an element of danger which sees Winnie caught up in a whole heap of trouble. Perfectly blending the lives of the poor, with those of the upper-classes, we get to see both sides of life and observe just how difficult it was for all women to make their mark as even the affluent women had to abide by a  set of  social constraints.

I've enjoyed spending time on Dressmakers' Alley, trying to piece together all the strands of the mystery and hoping that everything would work out for Winnie and the girls at Madam Pauline's sweatshop. As this is the first book in the series I am sure that we will discover more about this world which the author recreates so thoughtfully.

About the Author

Rosie Clarke is a #1 bestselling saga writer whose most recent books include The Mulberry Lane series. She has written over 100 novels under different pseudonyms and is a RNA Award winner. She lives in Cambridgeshire.

X / Twitter @AnneHerries 


@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers


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Friday 5 April 2024

πŸ“– Publication Day Book Review ~ The Persephone Code by Julia Golding

Harper Collins
One More Chapter
5 April 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book


Deep below the hills of the Buckinghamshire countryside, the infamous Hellfire Caves house a pleasure palace for the idle rich – a secret society steeped in satanism, opium and debauchery of the highest order.

When the club’s warden, Antony Pennington, is brutally murdered, his bastard sister, Dora, must follow the clues to decode who the killer is, aided by an unexpected ally – ex-Army officer, former opium addict and son of a Viscount, Dr Jacob Sandys.

As a shadow dogs their every footstep, Dora and Jacob find themselves in the midst of a shocking conspiracy, caught between the legendary Illuminati and the Hell Fire Club. With time running out, they must fight against both the most influential gentleman of the ton – and the undeniable attraction they feel towards each other

πŸ“– My Review...

Dora Fitz-Pennington's brother is brutally murdered and with only a handful of clues to his killer, Dora must try to find out why her brother died in such horrific circumstances and of the connection to the notorious Hell Fire Club. With the help of Dr Jacob Sandys, an ex-army officer and a former opium addict they negotiate the tricky clues left behind.

The story gets off to a good start and I enjoyed trying to piece together the many parts of the mystery in order to discover just what was going on in the infamous Hell Fires caves and the significance of the clues which Dora and Jacob must solve in order to discover why the club's warden Antony Pennington met such an untimely death.

The Persephone Code is an exciting romp through the Regency world with an interesting couple of  lead characters who very early on the story realise that they are attracted to one another. Dora is a feisty heroine, her acting backgrounds comes in useful and she is no shrinking violet when it comes to getting what she wants. There are more than enough twists and turns in the plot to keep you guessing and it certainly lives up to its description of The Da Vinci Code meets Bridgerton.

About the Author

Julia Golding is a multi-award winning writer for children and young adults. She also writes under the pen names of Joss Stirling and Eve Edwards. Well over half a million of her books have been sold worldwide in more than twenty different languages.Married with three children, she lives in Oxford, UK.

Twitter / X #ThePersephoneCode


Wednesday 3 April 2024

πŸ“– Book Review ~ The Split by S E Lynes


8 March 2024

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

The end of our marriage was only the beginning…

Last night, we celebrated our anniversary. Over candlelight, we talked about the children, our work, and I was so happy, and felt so loved.

But the next morning, when I check my phone, there is a message. From a friend. And a string of photos appear of my husband, Will, with another woman: walking along the street holding hands. Going into fancy hotels. Standing at a window, his arms around her, her head on his shoulder…

I beg Will to tell me what’s going on. But all he can say is that it’s not what I think. As if the betrayal wasn’t bad enough, he won’t even be honest with me.

And now there’s someone watching our house. Will is acting like a stranger and I think he’s following me. I can’t trust him anymore, and I desperately need to know who sent me those photos and why.

But maybe Will is telling the truth.

Maybe it’s not what I think.

Because the more our pain stops us talking, and the more the two of us tear each other apart, the more I wonder if I ever knew him at all – and what I’ll have to risk to protect my children.

And when at last the secrets are revealed, will the truth save our family, or destroy us all?

πŸ“– My Review..

After a perfect evening to celebrate their wedding anniversary Jessica is devastated when, the following morning, she receives photographs on her phone which show her husband Will with another woman. Refusing to accept that there could be a plausible explanation for the photographs Jessica insists that Will leaves their home and two children and refuses to listen to any of his explanations. Will is devastated by the mess which has been created and when he is offered a lifeline by a kind stranger, he soon discovers, to his cost, that there are many facets to kindness and not all of them are good ones.

Cleverly written, in a story which grips from the very beginning this is a salutary story of what happens when you get drawn into a world which you cannot control and of the terrible consequences which follow deadly mistakes. Filled with secrets and lies The Split is another intricately crafted psychological suspense story from a talented writer who, with each successive story, just gets better and better.

About the Author

Formerly a BBC producer, after gaining an MA in Creative Writing, S. E. Lynes became a Creative Writing Tutor at Richmond Adult Community College and now combines writing, mentoring and lecturing.

Twitter @SELynesAuthor #TheSplit


Tuesday 2 April 2024

πŸ“– Publication Day Book Review ~ Nowhere To Hide by Keri Beevis

Boldwood Books
2 April 2024

Thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Passion. Obsession. Cruelty. Control... There is no limit to how far some people will go for love. 

Duncan Stone is one of the country's most eligible bachelors, and he wants to take me, Callie Parker, on a date.

At first I am surprised and flattered, the envy of my friends. Then when our whirlwind romance escalates and he asks me to move in with him, it's like a dream come true.

But as I get to really know my new boyfriend, my fairytale turns into a nightmare. Duncan is no Prince Charming. He is the Devil.

Soon, isolated from my friends and family, watched day and night, a prisoner in my own life, I know if I am going to survive, I need to escape.

When a chance encounter with an old friend throws me a lifeline, I realise this is my live or die moment, and I find a hiding place deep in the Norfolk countryside.

I'm supposed to feel safe here, so why do I hear footsteps outside my hideaway late at night, and sense that someone is watching me?

Is it paranoia, or has Duncan managed to find me? Perhaps the danger is closer to home than I realise.

πŸ“– My Review..

Callie Parker thinks that she is the luckiest girl alive when she catches the attention of Duncan Stone. His suave good looks and charismatic charm make him quite a catch however, Callie soon discovers that dreams can very soon turn into absolute nightmares. Callie is trapped in a relationship which is as dangerous as it is toxic and her only chance is to escape, but as she is constantly watched this proves to be harder than she could ever have imagined.

The story grips right from the start and I enjoyed reading the alternate chapters which detail Callie's life in the past and also what is going on in the present so that we get a comprehensive picture of what led her into her relationship with Duncan Stone. Emotional and atmospheric, Nowhere to Hide is a difficult book to enjoy as it explores everything that is dangerous and volatile about coercive control and does so in detail which makes for uncomfortable reading. All credit to the author for tackling such a difficult subject and of doing so in a way which makes such a strong emotional impact on the reader.

Well written, with a fine eye for detail Nowhere to Hide is psychological suspense at its absolute best.

About the Author

Keri Beevis is the internationally bestselling author of several psychological thrillers and romantic suspense mysteries, including the very successful Dying to Tell, published by Bloodhound. She sets many of her books in the county of Norfolk, where she was born and still lives and which provides much of her inspiration.

Twitter @keribeevis #NowhereToHide

@boldwoodbooks #boldwoodbloggers