Thursday, 8 December 2022

 Meet Me Under the Mistletoe


Jenny Bayliss

A winter wedding of school friends should be the highlight of Nory Noel’s festive calendar. But that group has long since drifted apart, and Nory is dreading the lavish, week-long affair. Still, she supposes, being the only single person means she gets a king-size bed in the idyllic castle venue all to herself.

As the champagne flows, the years roll back and soon the air is alive with old sparks and old tensions. Desperate for a moment of peace, Nory escapes and crashes into Isaac, the castle’s gardener – and her former school rival.

Nory and Isaac have more in common these days than they could ever have imagined. But as she steals more time away to spend with him, Isaac reveals an astonishing secret about his past. Nory is in a unique position to help right this wrong – but uncovering the truth might mean pushing Isaac away once more . . .


Nory is attending the wedding of her school friend which happens to be near the boarding school where they all attended. She is not relishing the thought of spending a week as the only single one of her friends until she meets Isaac, who is head gardener at the country estate and who she remembers being an annoying teenager, but now he has certainly changed and Nory is smitten and finds any opportunity to run into him.

The story unfolds over the coming week in the build up towards the wedding. It has a great mix of characters who are all fully relatable and some actual laugh out loud moments that had me roaring!

This was the first book I have read by this author, but I have promptly bought the other two christmassy ones as I really enjoyed this one and really didn't want it to end!


Sunday, 23 October 2022

The Empire by Michael Ball

The Empire
Michael Ball

I'm delighted to be a part of the Blog Tour for Michael's first book. I hope to review this one as soon as I can, but with the postal strikes, i'm afraid it didn't come in time!

When Jack Treadwell arrives at The Empire, in the middle of a rehearsal, he is instantly mesmerised. But amid the glitz and glamour, he soon learns that the true magic of the theatre lies in its cast of characters - both on stage and behind the scenes.

There's stunning starlet Stella Stanmore and Hollywood heartthrob Lancelot Drake; and Ruby Rowntree, who keeps the music playing, while Lady Lillian Lassiter, theatre owner and former showgirl, is determined to take on a bigger role. And then there's cool, competent Grace Hawkins, without whom the show would
 never go on . . . could she be the leading lady Jack is looking for?

When long-held rivalries threaten The Empire's future, tensions rise along with the curtain. There is treachery at the heart of the company and a shocking secret waiting in the wings. Can Jack discover the truth before it's too late, and the theatre he loves goes dark?

It my turn on the blog tour for Michael Ball’s very first novel. I am hoping to review soon, but I didn’t get the book in time unfortunately. Good luck Michael!

Thursday, 20 October 2022

The Winter Dress


Lauren Chater


I'm delighted to be a part of the Blog Blast for The Winter Dress by Lauren Chater which is published today. You can read my review below. 

Jo Baaker, a textiles historian and Dutch ex-pat is drawn back to the island where she was born to investigate the provenance of a 17th century silk dress. Retrieved by local divers from a sunken shipwreck, the dress offers tantalising clues about the way people lived and died during Holland's famous Golden Age.
Jo's research leads her to Anna Tesseltje, a poor Amsterdam laundress turned ladies’ companion who served the enigmatic artist Catharina van Shurman. The two women were said to share a powerful bond, so why did Anna abandon Catharina at the height of her misfortune?
Jo is convinced the truth lies hidden between the folds of this extraordinary dress. But as she delves deeper into Anna’s history, troubling details about her own past begin to emerge.
On the small Dutch island of Texel where fortunes are lost and secrets lie buried for centuries, Jo will finally discover the truth about herself and the woman who wore the Winter Dress.


Jo Baaker lives in Sydney, Australia, having moved there as a child when her parents died to live with her aunt. She originally came from a Dutch island called Texel.

She is a historian with a special interest in textiles and when she was headhunted to look at a dress from the 17th century that was brought to the surface from a shipwreck near her birthplace, she had to pack her bags and get on a flight back to Texel.

The dress belonged to a girl called Anna Tesseltje who came from Amsterdam, but what was she doing on the ship in the first place? this is what Jo needs to find out and also to find out more about the exquisite gown.

This is a dual timeline story (which I love) and the attention to detail and research the author did was very thorough and based on the real discovery of a shipwreck in 2014 in Texel.

A good read for historical fiction fans. 

Thursday, 13 October 2022

 Keeping a Christmas Promise


Jo Thomas



Julie Williams

What a day for Christmas publications! And congratulations to Jo Thomas for Keeping a Christmas Promise and once again, to Julie Williams for reviewing. She does love a Christmas book!


Keeping a Christmas Promise is a delightful festive fun read. It immediately transported me to snowy Iceland with its beautiful scenery and community.

When a group of friends honour their deceased friend Laura’s wish to see the spectacular Northern Lights, they embark on a mini trip to Iceland. None of them can really spare the money or time with their own hectic lives at this time of year but are determined to keep their promise to her. 

They start off in high spirits but soon encounter an avalanche as the Northern Lights evade them and are forced to stay in a remote area in the middle of nowhere but its' community are so welcoming that they soon begin to realise just where their lives have taken them and not always for the better.

I really enjoyed this Christmas story with its unique characters and I learned some Icelandic traditions.

My thanks to NetGalley and Transworld Publishers for the advanced digital copy of this gorgeous book.

 On the First Day of Christmas


Faith Hogan



Julie Williams

And I'm also delighted to say happy publication day to Faith Hogan for her new novel On the First Day of Christmas and thank you again to the lovely Julie Williams for reviewing!


This Christmas story is a little confusing at first but all comes together and makes sense when I realised that it is two versions of one tale. 

Set in Dublin, an Accident & Emergency nurse Liz, still in the throes of grief after the death of her twin sister, experiences a near death event herself as she leaves the hospital after her shift. This event changes her life as this story continues in two different ways. 

It reminded me of the film Sliding Doors and required me to give my full concentration.

It wasn't a happy, heart-warming festive read that I am used to reading, so for me it did not fill me with Christmas spirit! However, it will not put me off reading this authors books in the future.

My thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for the ARC of On The First Day of Christmas.

 A Christmas Celebration


Heidi Swain



Julie Williams

I'm delighted to be able to bring you a review by the lovely Julie Williams for latest novel by Heidi Swain, A Christmas Celebration. Enjoy!


A Christmas Celebration is not just about the festive season, it is about family, friends, and the magic that surrounds Wynthorpe Hall.

I love going back to re-visit the characters from Heidi’s previous books as she cleverly weaves them into this latest noel with such joy. I especially enjoyed Winter Wonderland, an annual event put on by the Connelly family in the beautiful grounds of the Hall, much to the delight of the community.

When Paige returns to England after leaving as an aid worker for a charity her parents suggest that as they are away she visits her Godfather Angus at Wynthorpe Hall. Paige is instantly welcomed back with open arms, love and understanding, which is just what is needed after the loneliness she has suffered recently. 

Paige discovers herself again with the help of the community and its glorious surrounding. Paige is a caring person so when she meets octogenarian Albert, she coaxes him out of his small world and they both get a new spark of life.

This third visit to Wynthorpe brings us readers a chance to meet new characters who I hope will feature in future books in this gorgeous setting of Norfolk.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for this ARC.

Tuesday, 11 October 2022

 The Christmas Letters


Jenny Hale

Happy publication day to Jenny Hale for The Christmas Letters. The lovely Julie Williams has kindly reviewed for you.

Review by Julie Williams

The Christmas Letters is a gorgeous festive read from Jenny Hale filled with romance, snow, Christmas culinary that will have your mouth watering and so much more.

Elizabeth retreats to her hometown after her relationship of seven years ends in New York. 

Elizabeth is uncertain of where her life will take her next as she had gone to The Big Apple to pursue her dream, leaving the small community of Mason’s Ridge behind.

 Upon returning, she discovers that a corporate developer is seeking much of the land including her own family’s farm. Determined to keep her childhood home and all the memories it holds makes her realise that this is where her heart belongs.

This story has lovely characters with firm friendly natures that certainly gives a heart-warming feel to the book. It is a perfect winter read to cosy up to.

My thanks to Harpeth Road Press for the advanced copy and to Julie Boon for sharing my review on her blog.

Thursday, 18 August 2022

 Every Shade of Happy 


Phyllida Shrimpton

I am beyond happy to say that the lovely Phyllida Shrimpton has a new book out today called Every Shade of Happy. I am hoping to read and review this one as soon as I can, but I just wanted to make you aware of this fabulous author. Her first book Sunflowers in February was reviewed by me back in April 2018 on my blog and to this day, it is one of my favourite books and a story that will stay with me always....

Today I have an extract for you and it is the prologue to the book. I hope to review as soon as I can, so in the meantime enjoy the beginning of Every Shade of Happy by Phyllida Shrimpton.

Algernon is at the end of his life.
His granddaughter is at the start of hers.
But they have more in common than they think...

Every day of Algernon's 97 years has been broken up into an ordered routine. That's how it's been since the war, and he's not about to change now.

Until his 15-year-old granddaughter arrives on his doorstep, turning Algernon's black-and-white life upside down. Everything from Anna's clothes to the way she sits glued to her phone is strange to Algernon, and he's not sure he likes it.

But as the weeks pass, Algernon is surprised to discover they have something in common after all – Anna is lonely, just like him. Can Algernon change the habits of a lifetime to bring the colour back into Anna's world?




Algernon’s feet, constricted by brand-new leather shoes, dangled a good two inches above a bare wooden floor where he sat. The narrow bed, metal-framed and identical in every way to all the others in the dormitory, sagged wearily beneath him, and a coarse woollen over-blanket made the back of his legs itch. A single pillow, where he was to lay his head that night, whispered to him of other schoolboy’s nightmares still caught inside its cotton slip.

Algernon’s bony knees, poking out from black flannel shorts, sported ruddy brown grazes which peppered their way over the bulge of his kneecaps before disappearing into the carefully folded cuffs of his new grey socks. Dragging a nail along the skin of his right leg he gathered a line of pinprick scabby crusts which, when bringing his finger up close to his face, he was able to examine closely. Each one, he thought, was a beautiful relic of the life he’d left behind. He flicked the debris from his nail onto the floor and watched how a single tear of blood trickled down his shin before rather satisfyingly staining the cuff of his new grey socks. His knees told of a very recent and daringly triumphant act of bravery and for a brief, liberating moment Algernon indulged himself in the memory of it.

His fingers curled tightly around the railings of his village school and his face pressed against the cold, black iron. He was on the outside looking in. A ball, accidentally kicked onto the roof of the school, had wedged itself in the dip between the gables and the chimney and his friends were all looking up at it, defeated by the problem. Being the most adventurous of boys Algernon had, quick as a flash, climbed over the railings and scaled the side wall knowing every inch of it as he did. Having officially left the little school only the day before, he was trespassing now of course but finding himself back on the right side of the railings once again a delicious sense of familiar belonging lifted his heavy heart. In his mind he was shinning up

the drainpipe, the rough brick catching his hands until he reached the chimney stack and clung to it.

Two boys staged a fight to distract the schoolmaster while a gathering of upturned faces waited for the ball. He tossed it down to them. Still clinging to the chimney stack he tilted his face until he could feel the fresh wind against his cheeks. From his vantage point he could see past the village and out across an expanse of glorious fields, each patch-working their way towards the shores of the River Fal and an overwhelming need to fly gripped his soul.

Algernon stared at his knees, at the evidence of his ungraceful dismount from the roof into a surprisingly deep puddle where he was treated like a hero by his friends. The story they told belonged to yesterday. Yesterday he had said goodbye. Yesterday he was free to run wild in the green fields of Cornwall. Yesterday he was a child. Today, according to his parents and the sign above the entrance to his new private boarding school, Algernon Edward Maybury, aged seven years, was now a young Catholic gentleman.

God, Algernon had noticed, was in the very architecture of his new school, resplendent in arches and glorious through stained glass windows and His only son hung flogged and bleeding from a cross on seemingly every wall. God, however, felt entirely different in this place where his heart now quivered inside his skinny chest. Algernon’s God was in his church back in Cornwall where every Sunday a congregation of familiar faces coughed and rustled through hymns and the Divine Liturgy. Algernon’s God asked that everyone wore their best clothes to church and greeted each other with a smile on the way in. At Algernon’s church the priest always had a precarious dew drop on the end of his nose and Mrs Dyer, the organist, had an enormous bottom that always made him and his friends laugh behind their hymn books when they weren’t having their wrists slapped for being more interested in the contents of their nose than the word of Our Lord. Crying babies were jiggled in their mother’s arms and the air smelt of incense and the promise of Sunday luncheon.

This new God was different. The air in this building, this school where Algernon now sat on the narrow bed, was heavy with a thousand secrets all spiralling silently among the dust motes and hiding behind the eyes of the Brothers who held the futures of all one hundred and sixteen schoolboys in their care. Algernon knew that despite God or because of God, he wasn’t sure which, this place was not a happy place.

He also understood that from now on he could no longer expect to be called Algernon. He would, as his father informed him in the brief minutes between decanting his son from his Austin motorcar and hauling his huge school trunk from the boot of the car onto the drive, now be addressed by his surname ‘Maybury’. His father also informed him that he would excel in

class, be victorious in the sports field, and take it on the chin when a likely drubbing were to come his way. Algernon had nodded sombrely and wordlessly while his mother had simply smiled encouragingly, her earlobes stretched and wobbling from the huge pearls that hung heavily from them. His parents then climbed back inside their car offering final stiff-upper-lipped farewells and casting promises through the open window to see him in a few weeks’ time.

Algernon clenched his fingers tightly until his knuckles turned white and he craned his head towards the open leaded windows of the dormitory. If he willed them hard enough his parents might change their minds and return for him. The long drive outside, which led all the way to the huge iron gates, remained heartbreakingly empty. The overwhelming desire to fly away filled him to the brim and he wished with all his heart that he could climb onto the windowsill, grow wings and soar high into the clouds.

Echoes of the voices of other boys bounced across the dorm, along cold corridors and out from shadows. They told of pecking orders and alarming rites of passage that made Algernon… rather Maybury feel so terribly small. He didn’t cry, not then at least, but cast his gaze down towards his own, unpacked trunk and breathed in air that smelt of fear. When at last he understood that his parents most definitely would not be returning for him, he squeezed his small hands tightly together and prayed to his God back home that the school holidays would come quickly so that he could leave this place and return to the fields, the rivers and the beautiful craggy coastline of Cornwall where he belonged.

About the Author

Phyllida Shrimpton is a full time UK author who first wanted to write a novel after having a vivid dream at the age of 15 which she thought might make a good plot for a book. Finally in 2015 she finally stopped procrastinating about it and turned this dream into the plot for a YA novel, Sunflowers in February, published in 2018. This novel won the Red Book Award in Falkirk, Scotland and was shortlisted for the Centurion Book Awards for Bath and North East Somerset schools. The Colour of Shadows was published in 2019 and was shortlisted for the Amazing Book Awards.

Deciding to make the move to writing adult novels, Phyllida’s latest novel Every Shade of Happy will be published in August 2022 by Aria Fiction.

Phyllida’s books are centred around uplifting fiction and with the firm belief that there are two sides to every story.

The Manhattan Girls

 The Manhattan Girls


Gill Paul

Blog Tour

It's always a delight to host Gill's books on my blog as I have loved all of her previous ones and it’s a pleasure to be kicking off the blog tour for the Manhattan Girls. You can read my review below.

New York City, 1921

An impossible dream. The war is over, the twenties are roaring, but in the depths of the city that never sleeps, Dorothy Parker is struggling to make her mark in a man’s world. A broken woman. She’s penniless, she’s unemployed and her marriage is on the rocks when she starts a bridge group with three extraordinary women – but will they be able to save her from herself? A fight for survival. When tragedy strikes, and everything Dorothy holds dear is threatened, it’s up to Peggy, Winifred and Jane to help her confront the truth before it’s too late. Because the stakes may be life or death… 


This story centres around four women by the names of Dorothy Parker (Dottie), Jane Grant, Winifred Lenihan (Winnie) and Peggy Leech and their different lives, but how they become friends.

 It is set during the roaring 20's in New York City  where women are dominated by men and so these determined bunch of women set up their own bridge club. This is during the prohibition period, so no alcohol was supposed to be consumed and the girls also find a way of getting contraband alcohol for their bridge club sessions!

Dottie is married to Eddie, but all is not well within the marriage and when things deteriorate, Dottie struggles with life and even though she has her friends at the bridge club, she feels alone and helpless.

Jane is a reporter and is married to Howard.

Winifred is an actress and is constantly fighting off the lecherous men who tell her they can make her a star, but just want to use her.

Peggy works for a magazine and dreams of writing a novel. 

This is a story of how women in the 20's had to watch their backs, but these were determined women who wanted to make a difference and what I loved about the book was the way it was brilliantly researched and I loved the wording that was used, especially words like gumption and speakeasy! such great words of the era.

I must admit, when I see a book with a list of characters at the front, it always fills me with fear that I will forget who the characters are, but this book wasn't like that at all and was easy to get in to. 

Again, the author has written a book about people that I find myself googling to find out more about and also leaves me eagerly awaiting the next one!

Thank you Gill for always writing such amazing books about people that we wouldn't necessarily know much about.

About the Author

Gill Paul is an author of historical fiction, specialising in the twentieth century and often writing about the lives of real women. Her novels have topped bestseller lists in the US and Canada as well as the UK and have been translated into twenty languages. The Secret Wife has sold over half a million copies and is a bookclub favourite worldwide. This is her twelfth novel. She is also the author of several non-fiction books on historical subjects. She lives in London and swims year-round in a wild pond.

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

 Daughters of Paris


Elisabeth Hobbes

Blog Tour

It's my turn on the blog tour for Daughters of Paris by Elisabeth Hobbes and I can bring you an extract today. The cover looks absolutely fabulous and from reading the blurb and extract, I will have to get a copy of this one! Enjoy the extract.


This scene takes place in the autumn of 1938. Colette has been away visiting friends in England for a few months and Fleur has begun working in a bookshop in the Montparnasse area of Paris. Encouraged by Monsieur Ramper, her employer, she has gone out to explore the area on her way home one evening and a café has cought her eye.


‘Mademoiselle?’ A waiter dressed in black with a ruby-coloured apron around his waist approached her. He stared at her through a pair of very thick, round glasses. His light brown hair made Fleur think of an owl.

‘A table for one, or are you meeting somebody?’

‘For one, please,’ she replied. ‘But not too near the band.’

The waiter grinned. ‘Of course. This way, please.’

He escorted Fleur to a small table with two chairs set against the back wall and handed her a menu. He returned a few moments later with a carafe of water and Fleur ordered a café crème, thinking how disapproving Monsieur Ramper would be. One or two of the other patrons looked at Fleur and she smiled back self-consciously. She took a book out of her bag and began reading it, referring occasionally to her English dictionary.

‘What are you reading?’ the waiter asked when he brought the coffee. She showed him the front cover.

‘Jane Eyerer?’

‘Eyre,’ she corrected. ‘It’s an English book.’

The waiter pulled up a chair and sat without asking. ‘You speak English?’

‘A little,’ she admitted with pride. ‘Not enough to read this without a dictionary.’

‘You’re a student?’

Fleur took a sip of coffee to delay answering and give herself a chance to observe him. He had a searching face and was probably not much older than she was, though his glasses and a line between his eyebrows – which Fleur was later to discover was the result of a childhood spent squinting at the world without glasses – made him appear older.

‘No, but I enjoy reading and I’m trying to teach myself. I work in the bookshop a few streets away.’

This obviously met with his approval because the waiter held out his hand. ‘I am Sébastien.’

Fleur shook it and told him her name.

‘I am very pleased to meet you, Fleur. I am a student,’ he said proudly. ‘Of art and literature.’

‘And a waiter?’ Fleur asked.

Sébastien’s jaw tightened. ‘I need to eat. The café is owned by my second cousin, Bernard, and he gives me as many shifts as I can manage. I don’t have rich parents like some of them.’

He waved a hand around the room. Fleur looked around. Thanks to living with Delphine, she could tell many of the patrons were wearing quality garments.

‘Forgive me for saying so, but this doesn’t seem like the sort of place where wealthy Parisians would gather.’

His eyes grew hard, and she thought she’d offended him but the corner of his mouth jerked into a quick smile. ‘Very perceptive. Some of them like to pretend they are not rich. Some have rejected families but kept the trappings before they slammed out of the house.’ He leaned in close to Fleur and spoke in a low, drawling voice that made the skin on the back of her neck shiver. ‘See Sabrina over there with the black hair? She had a fight with her father and walked out of an apartment just off the Champs-Élysées but went back the next day to pack three suitcases of shoes, hats and bags.’

‘Naturally. How could anyone survive otherwise?’ Fleur laughed. ‘I should bring my friend Colette here. She would find it remarkable.’

She grew sober at the mention of Colette’s name. She had never replied to Fleur’s letters so she couldn’t really describe Colette as a friend any longer and on consideration, she liked the idea of having something of her own.

Sébastien frowned. ‘If she would view us as a circus or zoo exhibit, don’t bother. I’m afraid I had better get on with work now.’ Sébastien picked up her empty cup and gave the table a quick wipe. ‘I hope we will meet again, Fleur.’

She looked at his smile and her stomach did a slow flip. ‘So do I.’

‘If you come on a Wednesday evening, a few of us gather to discuss … the world. You’d be welcome to join us.’ He’d paused before completing the sentence, leaving Fleur to wonder what aspects of the world they discussed. Somehow, she could not imagine this young man or his friends listening to this discordant noise while they sat and nodded in agreement at government policies. Her scalp prickled with excitement.

‘Yes, I would like that, thank you.’

 About the Author

Elisabeth began writing in secret, but when she came third in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write contest in 2013, she was offered a two-book contract, and consequently had to admit why the house was such a tip. Elisabeth’s historical romances with Harlequin Mills & Boon and One More Chapter span the Middle Ages to the Second World War and have been Amazon bestsellers and award shortlisted.

Elisabeth is a primary school teacher but she’d rather be writing full time because unlike five-year-olds, her characters generally do what she tells them. When she isn’t writing, she spends most of her spare time reading and is a pro at cooking one-handed while holding a book.

She was born and raised in York but now lives in Cheshire because her car broke down there in 1999 and she never left.

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

The Choice

The Choice


Penny Hancock


An estranged daughter. A missing grandson. A mother faced with an impossible choice.

Renee Gulliver appears to have it all: a beautiful house overlooking a scenic estuary on England’s East Coast, a successful career as a relationship therapist, three grown-up children, and a beloved grandson, Xavier. But then Xavier vanishes after Renee fails to pick him up from school, and the repercussions are manifold.

Renee is wracked with remorse; the local community question her priorities, clients abandon her; and, as long-held grievances surface, her daughter Mia offers her a heart breaking ultimatum. Amid recriminations, misunderstandings and lies, can Renee find a way to reunite her family?


Renee is a therapist and is used to giving people advice about their relationships, but what is she to do when her own relationship with her daughters means she has to choose between mending the six year estrangement between her and her middle daughter Irene, or seeing her eldest daughter Mia and her son Xavier. 

When Renee forgets to pick her Grandson Xavier up from school and he goes missing, the whole family are distraught and panic sets in as to who could have taken him and where could he be?

Irena is Renee’s daughter, but has not been in contact with them for 6 years, having fled to Paris to become an eco-warrior and feels so hurt by having been told by her father and sister that she’s “dead to them” because of not coming home when her father had a stroke. The only person who tried to keep in contact was Renee, but Irena wants nothing to do with them (or so her friend Hermione tells her).

This book has a mixture of love, loss, tension and has a great mix of characters, some you love and some you don’t! I loved it and would thoroughly recommend this one.

Thank you to Anne Cater/Tracy Fenton of Random Tours and PanMacmillan for asking me to be a part of the Blog Tour.

About the Author

Penny Hancock is the author of internationally bestselling novels including Tideline a Richard & Judy book club pick, The Darkening Hour and A Trick of the Mind and I Thought I Knew You. She writes articles and short stories on family psychology for the national press. Penny divides her time between a village outside Cambridge and her children and grandchildren in London. The Choice is her fifth novel.

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

 Beyond a Broken Sky


Suzanne Fortin


I'm delighted to be a part of the blog tour for Beyond a Broken Sky by Suzanne Fortin. As soon as I read the blurb about this one, I just knew I would love it and I wasn't wrong! I really couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. I think that's the sign of a good book! You can read my review below and I will definitely be reading more from this author!

Some secrets are better left buried... 2022. Stained-glass expert Rhoda Sullivan is called to Telton Hall to examine a window designed by an Italian prisoner of war during WW2. It should be a quick job but when she and the owner's son, Nate Hartwell, discover a body underneath one of the flagstones in the chapel, Rhoda cannot let the mystery go. She knows what it's like to miss someone who is missing – her twin brother disappeared just before their eighteenth birthday, and she has been looking for him for nearly a decade. But when the threats start, it's clear someone doesn't want the secrets of Telton Hall to come to light. 1945. Alice Renshaw is in trouble. Pregnant and alone she is sent away to hide her shame and taken in by Louise Hartwell who has a farm in Somerset worked by prisoners of war. As the weeks pass, Alice finds solace in new friendships, but not everyone at Telton Hall is happy about it. And even though peace has been declared in Europe, the war at home is only just beginning... 


Rhoda Sullivan is called to Telton Hall to look at a stained glass window in a chapel that is soon to be demolished. As a stained glass expert, she is fascinated to find this window that was rebuilt during WWII. Little does she know that what she is about to find will possibly change her life forever. 

She meets Jack who is the owner of Telton Hall and his son Nate on the premises and once she starts looking at the chapel and the glass window, they come across some human remains in the cellar of the chapel. Rhoda is determined to find out what happened and who the body is, but Jack is uncooperative and says Rhoda shouldn't interfere and that whoever hid the body back in the 40's was probably dead themselves by now!

In 1945 Alice is sent to Telton Hall by her father as she has just discovered she is pregnant by an American Air Force man called Brett. A "shotgun wedding" is arranged, but Brett stands Alice up at the alter saying he can't go through with it. Alone and pregnant, she is sent away to the country until she gives birth and helps on the farm there with another girl called Lily, who she becomes great friends with. 

Louise Hartwell owns Telton Hall and along with taking in unmarried mothers, she also has a couple of Italian POWs who also work alongside the girls on the farm. Paolo, is a trained glazier and on Louise Hartwell's instructions, sets about working on the damaged window in the chapel.  Louise's stepson Billy is jealous of the POWs and tries everything in his power to disrupt anything they do. He also has his eye on Alice and seems to find any opportunity to be alone with her. 

This is a dual timeline book which goes back and forth from 1945 to the present day. I love these types of books and I can't wait to find out how the stories link and this one was a brilliant story from beginning to end. The characters were very well described and I loved Alice and felt so sorry for her being in the predicament she was and Billy was just so vile I wanted to punch him myself! but that is the art of great writing when you love and hate characters in equal measure!

A fabulous story that had me feeling happy and sad at the turn of the page and one that has left me thinking that I could see a sequel there somewhere with Alice! Thank you to the author for a great read and one that I will definitely recommend. 

About the Author

Suzanne Fortin also writes as Sue Fortin, a USA Today and Amazon UK & USA bestselling author, with The Girl Who Lied and Sister Sister both reaching #1 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Her books have sold over a million copies and translation rights for her novels have been sold worldwide. She was born in Hertfordshire but had a nomadic childhood, moving often with her family, before eventually settling in West Sussex where she now lives with her husband and family.

Thursday, 9 June 2022

 One Last Letter from Greece


Emma Cowell

It's paperback publication day for One Last Letter from Greece by Emma Cowell. My lovely friend Julie Williams has already read it and has kindly agreed to review for me. She has already told me that I would love it, so I am going to get myself a copy and take it with me on my Greek cruise in September!

The breathtaking, escapist debut novel from Emma Cowell, perfect for fans of Victoria Hislop, Carol Kirkwood and Karen Swan.

Devastated by her mother’s death, Sophie longs to get away from an empty house full of memories and a life that hasn’t quite turned out as she had imagined.
So when a chance discovery among her mother’s belongings hints at a past Sophie knows nothing of, she jumps at the opportunity for escape and a chance to heal. The magical, idyllic Greek town of Methoni awaits…
But Sophie – determined to uncover her mother’s secrets – is about to discover so much more. Among the tranquil waters and cosy tavernas, Methoni’s locals offer Sophie the answers she craves, along with unexpected romance and, if she’ll take it, a chance at her own happiness…
Will walking in her mother’s footsteps help Sophie discover who she was meant to be all along?...


Sophie is left in the throes of grief and uncertainty when her beloved flamboyant Mother Lyndsay dies way too soon. Left with a feeling of despair he decides to take a trip to Greece in the hope of finding a painting missing from her Mothers collection. 

As soon as she sets foot on Greek soil she is overwhelmed by the friendliness the community offers. A chance meeting with Theo who comes to her aid after she treads on a sea urchin sets her broken heart fluttering. 

Both have their own problems and had previous relationship disasters but the spark between them is more like a flame and hard to extinguish. A secret is then uncovered that rocks their world leaving them both with challenges and decisions to overcome.

One Last Letter from Greece is a beautiful story and I was hooked from the start. Tears of sadness and joy surround this tale making it an emotional ride but one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

This gorgeous, emotional, sentimental story will resonate with any daughter who has lost their mother.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publishers Harper Collins for the ARC.

Monday, 16 May 2022

The Summer Fair


Heidi Swain


Thank you so much to my lovely friend Julie Williams who has very kindly reviewed yet another of Heidi's books and you can read her great review below. 


I love Heidi Swain’s book so I was so pleased to be back in Nightingale Square with its familiar characters and new ones.

This time we are introduced to Beth who has the lucky opportunity to move into the square after previously living with a group of people who take her for granted and are downright messy. 

Beth moves in to house share with Eli who seems to keep to himself and is almost perfect except he plays loud music when he is in. This is a problem for Beth as she has eradicated music totally from her life for a while now due to events in her past. 

Beth works in a care home which she loves and especially adores its quirky residents who definitely keep her on her toes.

Her past catches up with her when she discovers her old friend Pete working in a local music shop, at first she avoids him but soon realises that this is impossible. 

Between Pete, Eli and the care home residents Beth’s love of music is rekindled and a spark is ignited with a special character.

This book can be read as a standalone but as all Heidi’s previous ones are fabulous they too are too good to miss.

Thursday, 12 May 2022


The House at Strone


Claire Nielson


When three children spend a summer alone in an old house by the sea,
they little dream what mysteries and adventures are going to enthral and
challenge them.

I am absolutely delighted to be able to do a Q&A with the author of The House at Strone. This is a children's book and I haven't hosted anything like this before, although I do read some YA books! but this one sounds such a lovely read that I had to host on Boon's Bookcase!

About Claire:

With a long career in television and theatre, author Claire Nielson enjoys an incredibly colourful life. From leaving school at 16 and saving money to run away to Italy with her best friend, appearing in household shows including Taggart, The Two Ronnies and Fawlty Towers, to co-founding a successful drama workshop company, Claire's time has been busy and fulfilling.

Family is important to Claire who enjoys telling her grandchildren stories of the special childhood holidays she enjoyed at her grandfather's home in Strone. After years of begging her to write these stories down so they (her grandchildren) can tell these stories to their own children, lockdown provided the perfect opportunity for Claire to pen her first children's book, The House at Strone. Now living in Stratford-upon-Avon with her husband, actor Paul Greenwood, when Claire isn't writing stories, she enjoys playing the piano (albeit badly!), cooking, walking and painting.

Author Q&A

When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?

I think, as soon as I could read, I began to make up stories I hoped people would believe in, though for a long time my only success was with my doting grandmother. Between the ages of ten and thirteen, to my great delight, I was lent an old hunting lodge in the middle of a wood near Strone. (I know!) I turned this into a rather primitive theatre, in which I persuaded my reluctant friends to act plays I had written, often having to chase after them on my bike to force them to attend rehearsals. This soon turned me towards acting rather than writing which leads me straight into to the answer of the next question…

What did you do as a job before becoming a writer?

Well, apart from a short stint in a cigarette factory after I left school, I’ve been an actor all my life, (still am when I get the chance) but I kept writing and was lucky enough to be commissioned to write several non-fiction books published by Thorsons, Parkgate Books, Ebury Press and Princess House.

My acting career kept me very busy. Having trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Dramatic Art (now Royal Scottish Conservatoire), I won a year’s contract to The Citizen Theatre, Glasgow. This began a long career in theatre, including London’s West End, The Globe, and Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop. I also appeared in many TV plays, drama series and comedies, including Dr Finlay’s Casebook, Upstairs, Downstairs, The Brothers, The Crow Road, Taggart, Monarch of the Glen, The Two Ronnies, and Fawlty Towers. In my mid-forties I fulfilled a lifetime ambition to study and was lucky enough to be accepted as a mature undergraduate at King’s College, Cambridge, to read English literature. After getting my degree I was able to return to acting, writing and teaching with more solid ground under me.

How did you carry out the research for your book?

Having lived through the period in which The House at Strone adventures occur, I didn’t have to do a huge amount of research, but I had to try to make sure that all the post-war details, about rationing etc, were correct. The Internet was helpful on those details, and I also used books about the area to jog my memory, in particular Life on the Shore, a self-published memoir by Alex C. Thomson. I also studied old maps and checked remembered places with John, my elder brother. He still lives in Scotland, in a beautiful part of the Trossachs, called Brig o’ Turk.

Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?

The easiest aspect is the exercise of imagination upon real or half-remembered impressions. The hardest is the subsequent editing and refining.

What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?

To be honest, because I seem to do a lot of other things, (acting, painting, etc) I fit in my writing whenever I can, though I do try to do some every day. I find first thing after breakfast the best time, but also, strangely, around five o’clock in the evening. I mostly sit at a desk in a tiny room that is more like a corridor, but where I can shut the door and concentrate. It adjoins the room I call my studio, where all my art stuff lives, so, sometimes when I get stuck with the writing, I can go and muck about with paints for a while to refresh me.

When you're not writing, what do you like to read?

I am a bit of a glutton when it comes to books. I often have two, or three on the go at once, to suit whichever mood I happen to be in. I love the classics, all the usuals, but find, having lived so long, that they are many having to be re-read now. Why they are classics is, of course, because they mean different things at different times in your life. I am also much enjoying the widening range of writers being published and translated now. This is really exciting, often challenging, but always mind-stretching. Exploring the literature of different cultures has made me much more critical of the accepted norms of many of the novels I swallowed whole in my youth!

How important do you think social media is to authors in today's society?

Funny you should ask that, because I’m just finding out how important it is! It’s been quite a journey of discovery for me and probably very good at preventing me from becoming too much of a stick-in-the-mud. I’ve tried hard as an older person to keep up-to-date with technology but there is no doubt that the digital generation can show me a thing or two. Having said that, I think it might also be quite fun for them to read my

book, The House at Strone, to see what kids got up to before even television was around. We still managed to have a lot of fun and perhaps we had more adventures because we were outside so much, interacting with nature and wilderness more than a lot of children have the chance to do now.

Could you tell the readers a bit about your book?

My book, The House at Strone, is about three children who stay by themselves for a whole summer in an old house by the sea. Quite challenging at the best of times but this is 1947 when post-war food shortages are at their worst and rationing more severe even than during the war.

The House at Strone is a real house. It’s still there, standing on the shores of the Holy Loch in Argyleshire on the Firth of Clyde. It belonged to my grandfather. We children adored it and went to stay there every holiday. Then my grandfather died, my mother needed to go into hospital and because my dad was a GP and ran a busy practice in Glasgow, we managed to persuade our parents that we three children, my sister Elsa, thirteen, my brother John, eleven, and I, just eight, could spend a summer holiday there all by ourselves. This is the true basis of the story, but I took the situation, the atmosphere and some of the real characters and wove them, with a lot of fiction, into an adventure novel. I illustrated it myself to try to capture some of the visual impressions still strong in my mind from my childhood.