Thursday 30 April 2020

The Secrets of Ironbridge
Mollie Walton
Publication Day

I was lucky enough to read the first instalment of this series and I loved it, so I am keeping everything crossed that this will come out in paperback so that I can read this one! I have an extract for you which is the prologue and is published today as an e-book.

Returning to her mother's birthplace at the age of eighteen, Beatrice Ashford encounters a complex family she barely knows. Her great-grandmother Queenie adores her, but the privileged social position of Beatrice's family as masters of the local brickworks begins to make her uncomfortable.

And then she meets Owen Malone: handsome, different, refreshing - and from a class beneath her own. They fall for each other fast, but an old family feud and growing industrial unrest threatens to drive them apart.

Can they overcome their different backgrounds? And can Beatrice make amends for her family's past?


Queenie wondered where she was buried. A pauper’s grave, no doubt. But which sorrowful patch of ground? Queenie pictured her now, a pitiful pile of bones in a crowded pit. She imagined the girl’s spirit rising from its haphazard burial place, delighted to be free of its chaotic tumble of earth and human remains. Where would it go? Perhaps it would revisit the scenes and sights of its childhood: some sort of poor man’s hovel where it was born, maybe a patch of ground where it used to play with other urchins. But once it was done with those, inevitably, it would come to the King house, to Southover. After all, the spirit was only a young girl when she had come there as a maid-of-all-work. And what if the spirit of this servant – this Betsy Blaize – were to come to Queenie’s house now? What would she see? Even as she wondered this Queenie questioned why she had conjured the memory of Blaize’s spirit after all these years of thinking of it rarely. Out of sight, out of mind. It must be because the house was draped in worry, waiting as it was for the death of her son.
She shivered and glanced at the closed curtains in her bedroom. In her mind’s eye, she saw the spirit rise from its scrappy piece of earth across the river, floating up, up into the night sky. Over the tops of trees and industry it would go, seeing the fires of the furnaces emblazon the darkness with their hellish colours. It would skim fleetly over factories and forges, lime kilns and waggonways, pumping engines and brickworks. It might circle the pitheads and the men labouring below them in the bowels of the earth. They would never see the spirit that passed over them, buried as they were like her body, or what was left of it. Onwards, to the river itself, the mighty Severn that scoured out the Gorge and rushed through it, relentless and temperamental. The spirit would travel its length to reach the iron bridge – it would have to visit the site of its creation, after all, the place where Betsy Blaize the girl had carried her newborn child, handed it to a passing Quaker and died. Across the iron bridge it would fly, up over the houses and shops and streets, all good folk sleeping peacefully in their beds, their mattresses soft or hard depending on their gentility. Up the hill to the great house that stood above the town, frowning down upon it. Southover, the house of the hated Kings.
Queenie envisaged the spirit approaching the house from the gravel drive, making no sound as it skimmed the stones, lifting up to the window of Mr Ralph King Junior, Queenie’s son, master of the house and figurehead of the King businesses, struck down in his early sixties by sickness. If it glanced through the crack in the curtains, it would see the deathly pale face of Ralph sleeping fitfully in his bed, groaning in pain all the night through. But of course Ralph wouldn’t be her final destination. It wasn’t him who had wronged her. The spirit would float on, coming around the eastern corner of the house, slowing now, closer and closer, to arrive at its destination: Queenie’s own window.
Queenie felt a chill down her spine again and the lamp on her desk guttered like a spent candle. She adjusted her favourite cashmere shawl closer about her shoulders. She had lost some weight in recent years and felt the cold more keenly. Her devoted lady’s maid, Jenkins, kept trying to feed her up, complaining that Queenie would soon look like a skeleton if she didn’t fatten up a bit. She stood up and walked to the window, then hesitated. A sudden, sharp fear came of what might appear behind it. She scolded herself for her silliness and yanked the curtain open. She saw only the night look back at her, blank and black. The vague shapes of trees moved mysteriously at the edge of the lawns. She did not look at the family graveyard, instead turning briskly and returning to her desk. Today, the doctor had advised Queenie to ‘gather your family around you’. The others were here – her grandson Cyril and Ralph’s wife Benjamina – neither caring much whether Ralph made it through the night or not. Indeed, Queenie suspected they positively hoped he wouldn’t, so they could move on to the next stages of their lives. But there was family not present that ought to be.
Thus, she had sat down to pen this letter to the one person who was absent, who was over the sea, in a foreign city for nigh on twenty years now, her granddaughter Margaret. She pictured her now, her youth having left her, approaching middle age. Had the years been kind to her, Queenie wondered, or would she have aged badly? Margaret’s relative poverty, as a teacher of English and pianoforte, would not afford her the King lifestyle, that was certain. Perhaps it would be a blessing to her to return home again, at last, after all these years. Perhaps she would welcome it, after all she had struggled through, as a widow and a lone mother to a daughter. Or perhaps she still considered her loss of riches a small price to pay to be free of the King family. Then, Queenie’s thoughts coalesced around another, the girl, her great-granddaughter, Beatrice. Queenie had never met her. Would the girl favour her pale, yellow-haired mother or her dark, gypsy-eyed father? Queenie would soon find out if the answer to this letter were in the affirmative. She set to finish it, dipping her pen in the black ink and looping it out across the page in her neat hand.
As she wrote the words ‘your father is close to death’, she felt that chill again and hurriedly glanced back at the strip of window open to the dark night. There was a flicker of something there. Or was there? Just a spatter of rain. She stood once more and marched to the window, jerking the curtain over to shut out the night. But as she did it, she knew that it was never that simple to shut out memories – or guilt.
Queenie imagined the spirit she had conjured gliding down from her window and taking its customary place beside Queenie’s long-dead husband’s grave, standing beside it, looking up at the house. Watching and waiting in the coal-dark night, scored by the rain that fell across the King lawns and into the wild woodland beyond.

To order a copy of this book on Amazon click here
Wartime at Liberty's
Fiona Ford


Congratulations to author Fiona Ford on the paperback publication day for the third instalment in the Liberty series, Wartime at Liberty's. I have my copy on order and as soon as it arrives, I am going to read how the girls are getting on! Look out for my review soon...
In the meantime, you can read a snippet below and if this has wet your appetite, then you can start by reading Christmas at Liberty's and then The Liberty Girls. If you are a saga lover you will be hooked I can guarantee it!

London, 1942
Flo Canning’s heart is beyond repair following the news that she has been dreading since the outbreak of war. As Flo throws herself into the role of fabric manager at Liberty’s, old and new friends alike help pull her from a whirl of despair.
Between work and home life there’s plenty to keep Flo occupied. Not least new deputy store manager, Henry Masters, whose arrival has consequences that Flo and her workmates could never have foreseen.
But there is more tragedy still to come, and Flo and her friends will need each other more than ever if they are to survive the uncertainty ahead.

To order a copy of Wartime at Liberty's click here

Saturday 25 April 2020

The Poor Relation
Susanna Bavin

I jumped at the chance to be a part of this blog tour as I love this authors writing. You can read my review below of yet another great historical fiction saga by the wonderful Susanna Bavin.


1908, Manchester. Mary Maitland is an attractive and intelligent young woman determined to strike out on her own and earn a living. Finding work at a women’s employment agency, her creative talent is soon noticed and Mary begins writing articles for newspapers and magazines.

But being of independent and progressive mind are troublesome traits when those you hold dear must constantly live up to the expectations of the well-to-do family to which they are linked. With increasing pressures from the powers that be, can Mary find the fine line between honouring her family and honouring herself?

Mary Maitland was born on the wrong side of the family tree, to parents known as the "poor relations".  Determined she doesn't want to end up the typical female of the Edwardian era and become a dutiful wife and mother, she leaves the job her father found for her at the Town Hall to begin a career in an employment agency, much to the horror of her parents.

It's not long before she starts writing newspaper articles, but as a woman even this comes with it's problems, especially when she mentions her writing to her father who will do anything not to bring anymore shame onto the family as he feels he has a lot to prove to the richer members of his family.

Mary has to overcome many hardships, but with her spirit, it wouldn't keep her down for long!

Too many characters in this one for me, but the attention to detail with the characters was very good because some you loved and some you loved to hate!

Thank you to the lovely author for her constant support and for writing such wonderful family sagas and to Rachel at Rachel's Random Resources for allowing me to be a part of the blog tour.

Thursday 16 April 2020

The Cotton Spinner
Libby Ashworth


When Jennet and Titus Eastwood are forced to move from their idyllic cottage into the centre of Blackburn to find work in the cotton mills, their lives are changed in ways they could never have imagined and their new home on Paradise Lane is anything but . . . Then Titus is arrested and sent to prison for attending a Reform meeting. Jennet is left to fend for herself and soon things go from bad to worse as Jennet finds herself pregnant and alone – with another man’s child . . .

I am delighted to be able to share with you some Q&As that the author has very kindly sent over to Boon's Bookcase on publication day. So put your feet up with a nice cuppa and read what inspired the author to write the book and about her career as an author.

Q&A's with the author

Where is The Cotton Spinner set?
The Mill Town Lasses is set in my home town, Blackburn in Lancashire. During the Industrial Revolution it grew from a small market town to a place that employed thousands of people in the mills.

Who are the main characters?
The main characters are Jennet and Titus Eastwood, and in the later books we meet Jennet’s sister Hannah and her friend Mary. Then book three focusses on Jennet’s daughters Peggy and Bessie. 

Do you have a link to the subject matter or the characters in The Mill Town Lasses series?
This is my family history! Jennet and Titus were my great, great, great, great grandparents. My ancestors moved from the small villages that surround Blackburn to work in the mills and it must have been a huge change for them. It would have been a tremendous change of lifestyle I wanted to tell the story of the hardships and the rewards that it brought.

How did you become a writer?
I don’t think I became a writer. I always was one. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making up stories in my head. I had my first professional publication at the age of eleven when I sent an article about the Spanish Riding School in Vienna to Diana magazine for girls. They printed it and paid me £1. I thought it would be easy to become a ‘real’ writer after that!

What’s the best thing about the writer’s life?
For me, now that I have a publishing deal, the best thing is being able to go to my desk and write without feeling guilty – without feeling that I should be doing something more important. I’ve always had to fit my writing in around other commitments, so it’s nice to be able to do what I enjoy doing and know that it’s earning me some money as well. Plus, I don’t have to go outside and can work in scruffy, comfortable clothes.

What else do you like to read for pleasure?

I’m a member of the Tuesday morning reading group at Blackburn library and I enjoy it because it challenges my reading choices. Since I joined a few years ago I’ve read books that I would never have picked up from the shelf. Some I haven’t been too keen on, but there have been some treasures. Our most recent read has been The Death’s Head Chess Club by John Donoghue. That’s something I would never have chosen for myself, but I enjoyed it. My next read is going to be the third book in Hilary Mantel’s Tudor trilogy – The Mirror and the Light. I’ve been waiting impatiently for this one! I’ve also recently read Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments – her follow up to A Handmaid’s Tail. I find I do tend to choose historical fiction to read and I spent my teens working my way through Catherine Cookson. I enjoy the
classics too with Elizabeth Gaskell being a favourite author, particularly North and South, which brings us back to the mills!

Where do you like to read or write?

My favourite place to read is in bed. My favourite place to write is probably at my desk in the small upstairs room, but writing involves a lot of thinking and I can do that anywhere and often do, even if it does look like staring into vacant space rather than working.

If you could trade places with anyone in history who would be?

That’s a tricky question. The past is so full of squalid housing and horrible diseases I’m not sure I would want to go there at all. Although I like reading and writing about the past I rather like living in the present, besides when I describe my childhood and my grandmother’s tin bath and outside toilet it sounds like ancient history anyway. So I think if I went back in time it would have to be to change places with someone who had a fairly privileged lifestyle. Maybe I would have to choose Elizabeth I. She had more power than any other woman in history that I can think of – and power is always a useful thing.

The Cotton Spinner, the first in the Mill Town Lasses series by Libby Ashworth, is published by Arrow in physical and e-book on 16th April

To order a copy of the paperback on Amazon click here

Thursday 2 April 2020

The Forbidden Promise
Lorna Cook

I'm delighted to be a part of the blog tour for The Forbidden Promise. I have to admit, this is the first book I have read by this author, but I will definitely be reading her previous book, The Forgotten Village.

You can read my review below of this fabulous dual time novel which stars in 1920 in Scotland and then back to the present day.
I love a book where you are hooked from the very first page and this was one of them.

The story starts in Scotland in 1940 and Constance's parents are hosting a 21st birthday party for her at their lavish home, Invermoray House. As she is trying to avoid the advances of her brothers' friend Henry, she fakes a headache and tells her parents she is retiring to bed. She decides to go for a walk to clear her head by the loch near the house and hears an aeroplane which sounds like it is in trouble and approaching her in the darkness! 

On hearing an almighty crash in the water, Constance dives into the cold, dark water and pulls the pilot (Matthew) out of the plane and miraculously, he survives.

Constance takes him to a nearby folly to recover and when he is strong enough to talk, he tells her he doesn't want to be found and cannot fight any longer.

Will Constance go against all her believes and shield Matthew from the RAF, who will undoubtedly court marshal him for deserting, or will she tell her parents of her finding and hand him over to the authorities? and is Matthew telling Constance everything?

Scotland 2020
Kate decides to start afresh and takes on a PR job in Invermoray house to get it up and running as a successful tourist attraction. She meets James, the owner's son, sooner than she anticipated when she nearly runs him over in her car!

James is very distant towards Kate to say the least and tells her in not so uncertain terms that he doesn't want her help in setting up the tourist business. It doesn't take long for Kate to think she has made a terrible mistake going to Scotland, but on seeing Invermoray and looking at the pictures on the wall of generations past, she is more determined than ever to find out what happened all those years ago and to put any ghosts to rest...

When I read a book, I often play the scenes and characters out in my head as if it were a film or drama (I don't know whether everyone does that!), but with this book I can really see it as a film. The storyline was fabulous and yes, there is a twist, which I didn't see coming and a light bulb went off in my head and the story all starts to piece together!

Thank you so much Harper Collins for sending me a copy of this book and for allowing me to be a part of the blog tour. I can fully recommend this fabulous read and am definitely going to read the author's first novel, The Forgotten Village. Can't wait for the next one!...