Guest Blog and Giveaway: Witches in Fiction by Heide Goody and Iain Grant

A Spell in the Country is a book about witches, magic, and mayhem and to celebrate its release, I am pleased to welcome its authors, Heide Goody and Iain Grant as guests on Duvet Dwellers Books to talk about Witches in Fiction.  There is also a chance to win some witch inspired goodies – what a great start to the week!

 

A Spell In The Country - Iain and Heide by Pete C b+w

Heide Goody and Iain Grant

 

Witches in Fiction

This February sees the publication of A Spell in the Country, the latest comedy fantasy book by Heide Goody and Iain Grant. It is their tenth novel and introduces a whole new world of magic, adventure, and silliness. Here, Iain explains how witches from fiction and film have influenced him. (Heide had something to add, so she has elbowed her way in as well).

Heide and I have written books about devils and angels and monsters and people coming face to face with the magical unknown and poking it with a big stick. However, A Spell in the Country is our first book to explicitly feature witches and, in writing it, I was forced to think about what fictional witches were my favourites. Here’s just five, roughly in the order I encountered them.

Madam Mim

The Sword in the Stone

Iain: Witches are frightening and I do remember being frightened by Madam Mim, a Disney witch dressed in pink with a shock of purple hair. I never read the TE White books the film was based on and I believe she was edited out of the final version anyway. As a child, what I found so captivating about the Disney version of Madam Mim was that she was clearly bonkers. Hair-tuggingly, eye-rollingly bonkers. Like the good old fairy tale witch, Mim lives in a tumbledown cottage far from anywhere else and seems quite happy to be bonkers all by herself in the woods. It’s only when Wart (the future King Arthur) falls down her chimney that he finds himself trapped in a witch’s lair. He has invaded her space and she’s angry. She becomes all the more frightening when she enters a shapeshifting battle with Merlin who has come to rescue Wart and she becomes a succession of scary creatures from which Merlin cannot escape. I’ll save you from having to watch the film (it’s not very good by modern standards) and reveal that Merlin eventually defeats her by turning into a germ and infects her with a non-specific spotty disease.

Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid

Heide: Another Disney film but this one based on a Hans Christian Andersen story. Our house echoed to screams of terror brought on by The Little Mermaid back in the early part of this century. Ursula the Sea Witch made such an impression on a younger member of the Goody family that if a nightmare caused a sleepless night it could usually be laid (directly or indirectly) at her door. I have deliberately not googled her to refresh my memory because my recollection of her is that she was a Lovecraftian horror with the face of a pantomime dame without much of a character arc in the film. I include her simply for the visual impression that she made on a tiny child.

The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen

Iain: Let’s stick with Hans Christian Andersen for a minute. As a child, I read the fairy tale of Gerda’s mission to rescue Kay from the Snow Queen. I think I might have found it boring beyond all reason. I don’t recall. But then, when my eldest daughter was about three or four, she inexplicably fell in love with the story. She had an audio tape version, we had one of those CD-ROM point and click games that were popular towards the end of the last century. We went to see not one, not two but three theatre adaptations of the story, one of them performed in a conference room during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in which an office chair played a major role as the Snow Queen’s sleigh. That level of exposure got a certain dad thinking about this particular witch. I even bought a 1919 first edition of the book with beautiful illustrations by Margaret Tarrant. I came to the conclusion that the Snow Queen isn’t evil. She’s not the villain of the story. She simply exists, a passive creature that thinks it wants to love the boy, Kai, but is simply incapable. She is a tragic and isolated figure. If you wish to see her reinterpreted as a villain, read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. If you wish to see her reinterpreted as a heroine, you have of course only to watch Disney’s Frozen.

 Granny Weatherwax

Equal Rites (and others) by Terry Pratchett

Iain: Possibly the greatest witch to ever step out of the pages of fiction. I love Granny Weatherwax and maybe part of that is because, in Josh Kirby’s illustrations of her, she looked a bit like my own grandma. And Granny Weatherwax certainly has the no nonsense attitude of women of a certain generation. She lives up in the Ramtop Mountains and, while by no means a high class witch, Granny Weatherwax is very ‘proper’. She’s sharp, frequently cruel to be kind and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Her prudishness is never more apparent than when she shows disgust at nakedness and informs her friends that she is never naked. Questioned about bathing, she makes it clear that each bit of her body gets washed ‘as and when it become available’. But the most wonderful and revealing part of her character comes in Witches Abroad when she has to confront her sister Lillith, an evil witch. There’s bad blood between them and we discover that much of it was because when Lillith turned evil, narrative convention meant that Granny Weatherwax was forced to become ‘the good one’ and she didn’t want to.

Vianne Rocher from Chocolat

Heide: If witches fulfill a wish-fulfillment role for women of demonstrating a certain set of powers that we all wish we had, then Vianne Rocher is the perfect example. She is sexy, smart and expert at reading people. She uses food as a significant part of her magic so those dull tasks that reek of mundane domesticity are imbued with delicious ritual and possibility. It is interesting that the film of Chocolat captures the sensuality of the book, but completely skirts any mention of magic or witchcraft.

Mary Poppins

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill

Iain: Another witch who is very different in film and prose. Like most people, I met Mary Poppins through the Disney film, not the books by PL Travers. Poppins in the books is a darker character than Julie Andrews’ version. She certainly doesn’t burst into song. Is she a witch? Of course, she is. She does magic. She flies. She enchants people. Mary Poppins is a witch and not necessarily a nice one. What is especially interesting about Mary Poppins is that we see no limit to her powers whatsoever. This was brought home to me when reading Moore and O’Neill’s comic book take on twentieth and twenty-first century literary heroes. In a tale featuring Dracula’s Mina Harker chasing down Voldemort with the assistance of ‘M’ from James Bond, we encounter Mary Poppins as the all-powerful being who saves the day. The prospect of entering a chalk picture has never been so chilling.

Hermione Granger

The Philosopher’s Stone (and others) by JK Rowling.

Iain: Let’s wrap up with one of the most famous witches in modern media. Like a lot of people, I have a fondness for the Harry Potter stories. I’m of the opinion that as the books became fatter and more bloated and less exciting, the films got better and better. Emma Watson IS Hermione Granger. Just as she out-acts her male co-stars from the first film to the last, Hermione out-thinks them and everyone else on every occasion. She is one of the greatest young protagonists in fiction, at least she would be if Harry wasn’t hogging the limelight. And she shows true virtues: hard work versus Harry’s good fortune, thoughtfulness versus Harry’s impulsiveness. Granny Weatherwax would have taken her for an apprentice and shown young Mr Potter the door. Nuff said.

Mad, sharp-tongued, icy, heroic, powerful. Heide and I have included all these influences in our book of witches on holiday in the countryside. And if you can see a little Hermione shining through here or a snippet of Granny Weatherwax poking out there, I hope you forgive us.

Thank you, Heide and Iain for sharing your favourite witches and good luck with your new book.

There are many witches out there it is hard to pick out a favourite who is yours? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Author Biographies

Heide Goody is the stupid one in the writing partnership and Iain Grant is the sensible one. Together, they are the authors of seven novels, two short story collections and a novella.

The ‘Clovenhoof’ series (in which Satan loses his job and has to move to Birmingham) has recently been optioned by a Hollywood production company. Their latest novel, Oddjobs 2: this time it’s personnel, was published in August 2017.

Heide and Iain are both married, but not to each other.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Clovenhoof-Books-285544508177333/

Website: http://www.pigeonparkpress.com/

Twitter: @HeideGoody and @IainMGrant

A Spell in the Country master cover - smaller

 

If you would like to learn more about A Spell in the Country and my thoughts click here

Purchase Links

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B078NRFL93/

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078NRFL93/

 

Giveaway

 

A Spell - Prize= IMG_0476

Witch inspired goodies

 

As promised. here is a chance to win a Witch’s Pamper Package 

The package, worth over £100 contains…

  • A lacy gothic bracelet
  • A witch’s hat fascinator
  • A pair of green and black stripy tights
  • A Yankee candle in “Forbidden Apple”
  • A set of wand-shaped makeup brushes
  • A gothic notebook (for spells!)
  • A bookmark featuring a squashed witch (with just the legs sticking out!)
  • A gemstone ring
  • A gorgeous coffin-shaped vegan eyeshadow palette from Lunatick Cosmetic labs (with a bat-shaped mirror!)

To enter follow the link below.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949467/

Good luck and happy reading!

Also, thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on this blog tour.

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Book review and Giveaway: A Spell in the Country by Heide Goody and Iain Grant

As a fan of the paranormal genre and witches, I am excited to be on the blog tour for A Spell in the Country by Heide Goody and Iain Grant. Thank you, Rachel’s Random Resources for an advanced copy for an honest review ad the opportunity to take part in this tour.

 

A Spell in the Country master cover - smaller

Book Cover of A Spell in the Country

 

Title:  A Spell in the Country

Author:  Heide Goody and Iain Grant

Publisher: Pigeon Park Press

Blurb

“Dee is a Good Witch but she wonders if she could be a better witch.

She wonders if there’s more to life than Disney movie marathons, eating a whole box of chocolates for dinner and brewing up potions in her bathtub. So when she’s offered a chance to go on a personal development course in the English countryside, she packs her bags, says goodbye to the Shelter for Unloved Animals charity shop and sets a course for self-improvement.

Caroline isn’t just a Good Witch, she’s a fricking awesome witch.

She likes to find the easy path through life: what her good looks can’t get for her, a few magic charms can. But she’s bored of being a waitress and needs something different in her life. So when a one night stand offers her a place on an all-expenses-paid residential course in a big old country house, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

Jenny is a Wicked Witch. She just wishes she wasn’t.

On her fifteenth birthday, she got her first wart, her own imp and a Celine Dion CD. She still has the imp. She also has a barely controllable urge to eat human children which is socially awkward to say the least and not made any easier when a teenager on the run turns to her for help. With gangsters and bent cops on their trail, Jenny needs to find a place outside the city where they can lay low for a while.

For very different reasons, three very different witches end up on the same training course and land in a whole lot of trouble when they discover that there’s a reason why their free country break sounds too good to be true. Foul-mouthed imps, wererats, naked gardeners, tree monsters, ghosts and stampeding donkeys abound in a tale about discovering your inner witch.”

Purchase Links

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B078NRFL93/

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078NRFL93/

My Thoughts

I have not read a book like this for a long time. It is a highly imaginative, clever romp of a book: full of magic, memorable characters and moments. The witches are all distinctly different and though I love them all, the star of the story has to be Jenny’s imp, Jizzimus with his outlandish quips and antics.* He made me splutter my tea more than once.

Throughout the book, the humour,  plot, and strength of personalities made it worthy of four stars but the concluding chapters rocketed it to a fantastic five. Full of action and unexpected turns this book is very visual and would make a wonderful film if done correctly.  I felt like a child again reading Roald Dahl’s The Witches for the first time and was sorry I had reached the end. I may have to just go back to the beginning and start again.

I am thrilled to know there are other books written by the duo to catch up on and they are on my TBR list.

Would I recommend it?

Oh yes! An ideal book to read for escapism and immerse yourself in zany fun.

 

*With  Jizzimus around this book is definitely not for children.

 

Author Bio

 

A Spell In The Country - Iain and Heide by Pete C b+w

Heide Goody and Iain Grant

 

Heide Goody is the stupid one in the writing partnership and Iain Grant is the sensible one. Together, they are the authors of seven novels, two short story collections and a novella.

The ‘Clovenhoof’ series (in which Satan loses his job and has to move to Birmingham) has recently been optioned by a Hollywood production company. Their latest novel, Oddjobs 2: this time it’s personnel, was published in August 2017.

Heide and Iain are both married, but not to each other.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Clovenhoof-Books-285544508177333/

Website: http://www.pigeonparkpress.com/

Twitter: @HeideGoody and @IainMGrant

 

Giveaway

 

A Spell - Prize= IMG_0476

Magical Prizes

 

I am pleased to announce for the first time on this site a giveaway! Some magical goodies could be flying your way by winning a Witch’s Pamper Package (Open Internationally)

The package, worth over £100 contains…

  • A lacy gothic bracelet
  • A witch’s hat fascinator
  • A pair of green and black stripy tights
  • A Yankee candle in “Forbidden Apple”
  • A set of wand-shaped makeup brushes
  • A gothic notebook (for spells!)
  • A bookmark featuring a squashed witch (with just the legs sticking out!)
  • A gemstone ring
  • A gorgeous coffin-shaped vegan eyeshadow palette from Lunatick Cosmetic labs (with a bat-shaped mirror!)

For an opportunity to win please follow the link and good luck.

 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949467/

Heide Goody and Iain Grant are also guests on this blog so to hear more click here.

Happy Reading!

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Deep in the forest

Book review: Senseless by Andrea Jutson

This is the first book in James Paxton series about a reluctant medium. I love crime novels and the supernatural so when both genres collide I have to read that book. Thank you to  Williams & Whiting for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

Senseless by Andrea Jutson cover

Senseless by Andrea Jutson cover

 

Blurb

A small park in a nice Auckland suburb is the least likely spot to stumble across a body. The discovery of a man recently bludgeoned to death shatters the illusion of midwinter calm.
But unfortunately for James Paxton, death is nothing out of the ordinary. Suspicion falls all too easily on the Englishman who’s hiding a secret. Not only did Paxton find the dead man – he spoke to him, too. Gifts he wished he never had are called into play when Mark Bradley begs him to track down his killer, for the sake of his daughter. Paxton’s carefully constructed new world threatens to crumble as he is sucked into the hunt for a predator, while the police snap close at his heels. And the corpses keep on mounting, one by one …
A darkly gripping mystery with an other-worldly twist.

My thoughts

This debut is based in Auckland, New Zealand and it is refreshing read about a different location away from America or UK because it adds another location to my list of places mentioned in fiction I want  visit one day.

James Paxton is a likable character who finds himself in difficult situation when he stumbles over a dead body in a park. The murder victim, Mark Bradley speaks to him and promises are made sending him on a mission to track down a killer.  There is a natural relationship with Lena, Mark’s daughter and I enjoyed the flow of dialogue and dark humour between them which drives the story forward. There were times I questioned whether someone grieving would say or do certain things she did but then I  remembered members of my family and had to agree some people would.

The antagonist is a perfect contrast to the ease of personalities of Lena and Paxton. It is a plot that keeps you guessing and the increased tension towards the end meant sleep was forgotten until I read the last page.

I am looking forward to reading more books in the series and hope some of the detectives who make an appearance in this also appear in the next one.

Would I recommend?

Yes. It is an enjoyable read with a blend of crime and paranormal. The crime gets more graphic as killing escalates so it not for squeamish.

If you want to know more visit:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Senseless-1-James-Paxton-Mysteries/dp/1911266829

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Million Love Songs by Carole Matthews

With a title of a Million Love Songs, you don’t have to read the blurb of Carole Matthew‘s latest release to know you need to put the radio on and sing along to Gary Barlow as you read this book.

Million Love Songs cover

Million Love Songs Cover

Title: Million Love Songs

Author: Carole Matthews

Publisher: Sphere

Release Date: 22nd March 2018

Blurb

Feel-good and full of emotion, Carole Matthews will make your heart sing with this glorious read.

After splitting up with her cheating husband, Ruby Brown is ready for a change. She’s single for the first time in years and she’s going to dive into this brave new world with a smile on her face and a spring in her step. The last thing she’s looking for is a serious relationship.
Mason represents everything Ruby wants right now: he’s charming, smooth and perfect for some no-strings-attached fun. Joe, on the other hand, is kind and attractive, but comes with the sort of baggage Ruby wants to avoid: an annoyingly attractive ex-wife and two teenage children.

Ruby thinks she knows what she wants, is it what she needs to be truly happy? It’s about to get emotional in Million Love Songs.

My thoughts

Million Love Songs is a perfect book for Take That fans or Thatters as they are called or those who enjoy a good sing to their music. It is littered with references to the band and they would understand the appeal of a cut out of Gary Barlow.

Ruby Brown is a recent divorcee finding her feet in the new world of singledom, dates, and independence. She is helped by her best friend TT fangirl, Charlie. I enjoyed the story from one of my fave authors but I struggled to connect with Ruby unlike the main characters in her other books. I found Charlie had more depth and interesting backstory making me long for it to be her story instead. Maybe one day Carole Matthews will revisit her.

As for the leading men,  while I loved Joe, I shared Charlie’s opinion on Mason. He made my skin crawl from the start.

It is enjoyable though it had a different feel to her other books and Carole Matthews talent pulled it off where other authors may not have been able to but I doubt it will be one I revisit again and again, unlike many of her other books.

Would I recommend?

Yes, if you love Take That or want an enjoyable light-hearted read.

Thank you, NetGalley and Sphere for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Have you read it?  Let me know your thoughts below.

 

Happy reading!

Book and First Chapter Cover Reveal: The Things We Need to Say

This is the first time I have taken part in a book cover reveal and I am excited that Rachel Burton’s  The Things We Need to Say is the first one. It is atmospheric and fits so well with the blurb. There is also the first chapter to read to tempt you and anticipate its release in May.  It is already on my TBR pile.

6 The Things We Need to Say_Final Cover

Blurb

Sometimes the things we never say are the most important.
Fran loves Will with all her heart. They had a whirlwind romance, a perfect marriage and a wonderful life. Until everything changed. Now Fran needs to find her way again and teaching a yoga retreat in Spain offers her just that. Leaving behind a broken marriage she has some very important decisions to make.
Will needs his wife, he needs her to open up to him if they’re to ever return to the ways things once were. But he may have damaged any possibility he had of mending their relationship and now Fran is in Spain and Will is alone.
As both Fran and Will begin to let go of a life that could have been, fate may just find a way of bringing them back together.

 Perfect for fans of Katie Marsh, Amanda Prowse and Sheila O’Flanagan

 

 

First Chapter of The Things We Need to Say

DECEMBER 2004

 

It started at the party. His hands on my hips, my forehead against his shoulder. He asked me to dance but he didn’t know how. We stood together at the edge of the dance floor shaking with laughter at his two left feet. I don’t know how long we stood there. I don’t know if anybody noticed.

He’d waited for me, sitting with my friends, not sure if I’d turn up or not. I wasn’t in the habit of going to work Christmas parties; I only went in the end because he said he would be there, because he said he would wait for me. I arrived just as the main course was being served. I slipped into the seat next to him. His hand brushed against my thigh as I sat down. He held my gaze for longer than he should have done.

I fell in love with him that night as we stood on the dance floor laughing, my hands on his waist, feeling the muscles of his back, the warmth of his body, through his dress shirt, the press of him against my hip.

That was where it began. I sometimes wonder if that should have been where it ended.

But later that evening, as I got out of his car, and I said those words I should have kept to myself, we both knew there was no going back.

 

JULY 2016

Fran

 

She wakes up in the same position in which she fell asleep, her husband’s arms around her, their hands entwined on her stomach. Neither of them have slept that deeply for months. Fran remembers something: a hotel room on a Greek island, a feeling of hope, of new beginnings. She doesn’t allow the memory to linger. This is what they have now. They can be happy again if they allow themselves to be.

The hot, humid weather has broken in the night and she listens to the sound of summer rain on the roof. Will moves gently against her, pulling her closer. She feels his breath against her neck and the sensation of hot liquid in her stomach, a combination of desire and need. This is their second chance – she can’t let it pass her by.

‘I love you,’ Will says sleepily.

‘I love you too,’ she replies. It feels good to be saying it to each other again. She’s never stopped loving him; she just forgot how to tell him for a while.

‘Do you want me to go and make coffee?’ Will asks, nuzzling her neck.

‘Not just yet,’ she replies, turning around to look at him. His brown eyes are dark, impenetrable pools. His hair is pushed back off his face. Sometimes she forgets how much all of this has affected him too. Sometimes she forgets everything except her own pain. She feels his warmth against her, his strength. She feels as though the gulf that had been threatening to open up between them for the last year is slowly closing. She realises they have so much life ahead of them. So much time to learn to be happy again.

‘I thought I’d lost you,’ Will says quietly, reaching up to stroke her face. ‘I thought you’d gone, but recently I feel as though you’ve come back to me.’

She smiles softly. ‘I thought I’d lost you too,’ she says. ‘This last year has been …’ She doesn’t finish. She can’t finish.

She watches as a shadow of anguish crosses his face, as his brow furrows, as his jaw tightens. She recognises that look, recognises the pain he is trying to hide. She hears the shudder of his breath. His eyes flick away for a moment; he pauses for a fraction too long.

‘No,’ he says. ‘You never lost me. I’ll always be here.’

She kisses him gently then, and feels his hand drift down the bones of her spine.

Later, showered and dressed, they finally appear in the kitchen; Will’s younger brother, Jamie, is already sitting at the table drinking coffee. Will and Fran are hardly able to stop touching each other.

Jamie smiles at them, raising an eyebrow. ‘You’re up late,’ he says. Fran feels herself blushing, her stomach flipping over, and turns away towards the toaster.

‘Thanks for last night,’ Jamie goes on. ‘I needed that.’ Recently separated from his wife, living apart from his children, Jamie is lonely. Last night wasn’t the first Saturday night he’d spent with them. Fran knows Will has been throwing himself into cheering his brother up. She doesn’t mind. Jamie makes Will smile and it’s good to see him smile again.

As Will and Jamie start talking about the cricket, she feels her husband’s hand on her thigh, the warm, solid sensation of him right there next to her. They have been given a second chance, and they have grabbed it with both hands. She isn’t naive enough to think everything is going to go back to the way it used to be, but she knows that they can move on; they can talk and heal together. They can take another chance on living, find a new kind of normal.

Will stretches, draining his coffee cup. ‘This weather isn’t going to let up is it?’ he says looking out of the window where the rain is rattling against the frames like beads in a jar. ‘I’m going to have to cancel the cricket.’ As captain of the village team it is up to him to reschedule this afternoon’s match. Fran is quietly delighted that the weather means she doesn’t have to spend her last afternoon with her husband before she goes away watching him play cricket. Will gets up and walks into his study, shutting the door behind him.

‘How are you feeling about tomorrow?’ Jamie asks.

‘Nervous,’ Fran replies. ‘It’s the first time I’ve been on a plane on my own, which is pathetic at my age, I know.’

‘It’s OK to be nervous.’

‘It’s the first time Will and I have been apart since …’ She trails off. Jamie knows what she’s talking about. ‘I’m worried about him too.’

Jamie smiles. ‘I’ll look after him,’ he says.

After a moment Jamie gets up and follows Will into his study. He doesn’t knock; he just opens the door and walks in. As Fran starts to clear the breakfast dishes she hears raised voices but can’t quite make out what they are saying. She rolls her eyes to herself. As an only child she has long since given up on understanding Will and Jamie’s relationship: best friends one minute, bickering the next. She just hopes Jamie doesn’t stay too long – she wants her husband to herself for the day.

 

Will

 

It rains all day, the sky grey and waterlogged and heavy with cloud. After Jamie leaves, Will pulls Fran towards him, his hands at the back of her head where her skull meets her neck, where her hair is cut so short.

‘No cricket,’ he says. ‘I’m all yours.’

She smiles, standing on tiptoe to kiss him.

‘Can we just watch a film or something?’ she says. ‘I’m tired and I have to pack for Spain later.’ His stomach drops at the thought of her going away. He wishes he’d never encouraged her to do it.

‘I’d forgotten about Spain,’ he says.

‘No you hadn’t. It’s the only thing we’ve talked about for ages.’

Will had watched Fran spend the last few weeks flipping back and forth between excitement and terror at the thought of going to Spain on her own. He knew she was strong enough to do it; he knew she was stronger than anyone realised. But he also knew that she wondered if she was ready. When she first mentioned Spain to him he had seen it as a perfect opportunity to help her begin to put herself back together again after what had been the worst year of both their lives. He tried to believe that everything life threw at him was an opportunity.

Fran had been teaching at a studio in central Cambridge for six years and had been asked to teach for a week on a retreat in Spain. Will had always supported her teaching, always tried to put her career on a level par with his own and had done everything he could to help her find the strength to go back to work in January. None of it had felt as though it was enough. None of it would make up for the last year, the things he had said, the things he had done. Suddenly he is terrified about being on his own. Neither of them have been alone for months.

‘What do you want to watch?’ he asks, squatting down in front of the TV.

‘Can we watch Some Like it Hot?’ Fran replies.

Will rolls his eyes. He must have seen it a hundred times, but puts it in the DVD player anyway and goes to settle himself on the sofa. ‘Come here,’ he says, and she sits with him, leaning back against his chest.

‘Are you OK about Spain?’ he asks quietly.

‘I think so,’ she says. ‘I’m nervous, but I’m excited as well.’

‘Elizabeth will be there with you, won’t she?’

‘Yes, and Constance. In fact, I already know most of the other people who are going. I’ll be fine.’ She pauses. ‘Are you going to be OK?’ she asks quietly.

‘I’m going to miss you,’ he says, lying back on the sofa, wrapping his arms around her. He doesn’t know how to answer the question. He wants to tell her everything but knows that now is not the right time.

‘I’m going to miss you too,’ she replies.

He kisses the top of her head as she presses ‘play’ on the remote control. He watches her as she watches her favourite film, her lips moving along with the characters – she still knows every word by heart. They used to spend rainy Sundays like this when they were younger, when life seemed easier.

Halfway through the film he realises that Fran is crying – fat, salty tears running down her cheeks.

‘Fran?’ he asks quietly, pressing pause on the remote.

Fran doesn’t reply, she just turns around and he takes her in his arms. He feels her body against his. She clings to him as though her life depends on it and he holds her close as she cries and cries. He can’t remember the last time he saw her cry like this. They had both done their grieving in private over the last year but to Will it feels as though Fran has been holding all this in for months, shutting herself down. He’s relieved that she finally seems ready to let go.

‘I want my old life back,’ she sobs. ‘I want to be happy again.’

‘So do I,’ Will whispers. ‘And we will, in time. I promise.’

‘I wish we’d never bought this house – we had so much hope.’

‘Shhh …’ Will says softly, stroking her hair as she weeps against him.

 

Pre-order on Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2kLqSYL
Publication Day – 11th May 2018

 

Author’s Bio

Things We Need to Say author Rachel Burton

Rachel Burton Author

Rachel Burton has been making up stories since she first learned to talk. After many false starts, she finally made one up that was worth writing down.

After graduating with a degree in Classics and another in English, she didn’t really know what to do when she grew up. She has worked as a waitress, a paralegal and a yoga teacher.

She has spent most of her life between Cambridge and London but now lives in Leeds with her boyfriend and three cats. The main loves of her life are The Beatles and very tall romantic heroes.

Her debut, The Many Colours of Us, was an Amazon Kindle bestseller. Her second novel, The Things We Need to Say, is released on 11 May 2018. She is currently working on her third novel in which the heroine follows the love of her life to live in a city in northern England. It has no autobiographical elements at all…..maybe.

Find her on Twitter & Instagram as @bookish_yogi or search Facebook for Rachel Burton Author. She is always happy to talk books, writing, music, cats and how the weather in Yorkshire is rubbish. She is mostly dreaming of her next holiday…
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/rachelburtonauthor/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/bookish_yogi
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/bookish_yogi/ 

 

Happy reading!

 

 

Forget Her Name by Jane Holland

Book Review: Forget Her Name by Jane Holland

I am pleased to be involved in Rachel Gibley’s blog tour for Forget Her Name by Jane Holland. I received an advanced copy of an honest review. Thank you for the opportunity.

 

Forget Her Name book cover

Forget Her Name by Jane Holland

Blurb

Rachel’s dead and she’s never coming back. Or is she?

As she prepares for her wedding to Dominic, Catherine has never been happier or more excited about her future. But when she receives an anonymous package—a familiar snow globe with a very grisly addition—that happiness is abruptly threatened by secrets from her past.

Her older sister, Rachel, died on a skiing holiday as a child. But Rachel was no angel: she was vicious and highly disturbed, and she made Catherine’s life a misery. Catherine has spent years trying to forget her dead sister’s cruel tricks. Now someone has sent her Rachel’s snow globe—the first in a series of ominous messages…

While Catherine struggles to focus on her new life with Dominic, someone out there seems intent on tormenting her. But who? And why now? She doesn’t have the answers – and in one final question lies her greatest fear.

Is Rachel still alive?

My Thoughts

This complex psychological thriller kept me on my toes with its twists and turns throughout with suspense building as this disturbing story progressed. I felt on edge and in a state of confusion just like Catharine/Cat as she unraveled the mystery surrounding her sister’s Rachel death.  Jane Holland has created a group of characters that all have depth and back stories which made it hard to know who to trust, and who was a friend or foe.  There were so many directions the plot could go to I found it impossible to second guess what was going to happen next nor the conclusion. This made it a joy to read.

Would I recommend?

I would recommend for those who love a good psychological thriller.

Available at:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Forget-Her-Name-Jane-Holland-ebook/dp/B073TTLYQV
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Forget-Her-Name-Jane-Holland-ebook/dp/B073TTLYQV

About the Author

 

Forget Her Name - Author Pic
Jane Holland

 

Jane Holland is a Gregory Award-winning poet and novelist who also writes commercial fiction under the pseudonyms Victoria Lamb, Elizabeth Moss, Beth Good and Hannah Coates. Her debut thriller, Girl Number One, hit #1 in the UK Kindle Store in December 2015. Jane lives with her husband and young family near the North Cornwall/Devon border. A homeschooler, her hobbies include photography and growing her own vegetables.

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media Links –
https://twitter.com/janeholland1
https://www.facebook.com/jane.holland.1253
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JaneHollandAuthor/

 

Have you read this book? Let me know your thoughts below.

Happy reading!

Meet the Author: Jennifer Gilmour

 

Jennifer Gilmour is a force to be reckoned with; not only is she an author of two books, she works tirelessly to raise awareness of domestic abuse and change things at a National level to improve the support abuse survivors are given. Her debut book, Isolation Junction was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign and is a fictional account of Rose living in an abusive relationship and her fight to break free. This is FREE on Kindle between 8th-12th Jan 2018. Jennifer’s second book, Clipped Wings is a compilation of survivor’s experiences. It is a pleasure to meet her on the blog today.

“Ice cold rain splattered her face; her toes and fingers were numb and yet she sat there huddled up and gently rocking herself. It was a black night with no stars, like someone had just switched off the sky. The only light shining on her face was the orange glow of a single street light. Rose couldn’t cope anymore, she was crying into her hands so hard it hurt her heart; it was a deep spike of a pain rushing through her body and this wasn’t the first time she had felt it.”

 Extract from Isolation Junction

 

Jen G reading

Jennifer Gilmour – Author

 

What was your original inspiration to start to write?

I was on an awareness course about Domestic Abuse. Alongside me were about 8 other women who had been in abusive relationships. As the day progressed, I found that I simply couldn’t believe that some of what the other women were saying was exactly what I had gone through but just in a different format. Domestic Abuse tends to go in a cycle (see photo below) and whichever way it begins, the behaviour spirals again and again. At first it could be months between incidents but for me, as time went on there were many instances within one day. It is quite normal to try to prevent the cycle from starting again by changing your behaviour as much as possible. By the end of the course I had come to understand that we were all subjected to the same behaviour and that no one knew before that this could even happen to someone i.e. that a relationship can be so unhealthy and soul destroying. I realised that others simply needed to know more about this unacceptable behaviour; they needed to see the warning signs before the relationship goes further or the behaviour gets even more serious. On the other hand I needed others to see the behaviour for what it is. If people are in a relationship and the behaviour within it is not acceptable and is not their fault, it can’t simply be changed by changing yourself.

cycle_of_abuse

I knew I had a story to tell and with my previous unfinished written work I realised my first novel had to be more than a book but a message – a way for others to be able to pass a book on to help victims and to get the penny to drop and bring about realisation of what is happening sooner. This means that when the relationship ends victims and survivors realise they are not the only ones out there and its ok to talk about the abuse.

How do you focus and not let your work with domestic abuse affect you emotionally?

Originally I didn’t look after myself and worked on Isolation Junction, blog posts and research even if I wasn’t in a good place. I couldn’t switch off to what I felt needed to be exposed and couldn’t understand why something so common was hidden so well. It did take its toll on me and I am happy to admit and address this. The solution was simple and that was to train myself to channel my thoughts and focus on my current happenings and not letting my mind wander. It can be still a challenge but I feel like I manage myself better and take a healthier approach.

How do you direct people who may need support after reading your books?

At the end of my books there is a message from me which include the UK 24-hour free-phone National Domestic Violence helpline, which is 0808 2000 247. There is also a support page on my website; http://jennifergilmour.com/support/

I do receive a lot of messages and I have personally referred to local centres, once I directed someone in Africa to her local support service. I have been a listening ear to many as well, the first step is telling someone about what’s happened to you and so I urge anyone to speak to a ‘safe’ person or service. ‘safe’ meaning someone who isn’t involved with the perpetrator or who you most certainly can be trusted and will help you.

What do you do aside from writing?

I am a mum of three which keeps me pretty busy when I am not writing; I have a 5, 7 and almost 2 year old. As a family we enjoy the hobby Geocaching which gets us out and about, learning about the local area as well as having some fun. It can get rather competitive, if you haven’t heard of it Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.
I am also a Jamberry Nail Wraps Consultant which brings in most of my income to support my work in the domestic abuse sector including my writing. You can find out more about that on my other website: https://jennifergilmour.jamberry.com/uk/en/

What is your favourite book?

My favourite book is the Harry Potter series, it took me to a different world away from my reality growing up as a child, teen and adulthood. It started my imagination going as I have been writing from a young age and it was all fantasy writing and poetry.

What is your favourite drink?

That’s hard because I have a cup of tea (breakfast tea) four times a day and I can’t go without my tea. But I have a Dolce Gusto machine and I absolutely love caramel latte.

Where is your favourite place to write?

Favourite place to write has to be a lovely local café that does amazing coffee (to keep me going) and scrumptious cake. Although, we have a lovely big bay window that we plan to add a couple of individual chairs and a little coffee table, I imagine using this a lot and can see myself writing with the sun beaming through the glass

Jennifer Gilmour

About the Author

From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write her first novel Isolation Junction. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again.

Since the publication of her debut novel, Jennifer has continued to be an advocate for those in abusive relationships through her blog posts, radio interviews and Twitter feed. Jennifer also gained a qualification in facilitating a recover programme for those who have been in abusive relationships.

Jennifer continues to publicly support those who are isolated and struggle to have a voice. Jennifer hopes that Clipped Wings give’s a voice to survivor’s experiences and raise’s awareness further of the types of unacceptable behaviour which fall into the category of domestic abuse.

Links:

Website; www.jennifergilmour.com

Facebook; www.facebook.com/isolationjunctionbook

Twitter; www.twitter.com/JenLGilmour

Clipped Wings on Amazon UK; https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B076KNZJZQ

Clipped Wings on Amazon USA; https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076KNZJZQ

Isolation Junction; UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01LX4HLT0

US link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LX4HLT0

Goodreads author profile; https://www.goodreads.com/JenniferGilmour

Clipped Wings on Goodreads; https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36449221-clipped-wings

Huffington post blogger profile; http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/author/jennifer-gilmour

My Best Reads of 2017

New Goals

It is time to say goodbye to 2017 and welcome 2018. Reading challenges are over and new ones are beginning. I exceeded my goal of 42 books in the Goodread’s challenge by reading 63. The goal for 2018 is 52 starting with The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert. There have been many good books published last year and I discovered lots of new authors thanks to online book clubs especially The Fiction Café Book Club.  My TBR list has grown exponentially with books I would never have found without this positive, active book community.  I tried to choose my top 10 but this proved impossible.

My top 15 books read in 2017

 

 

These are in no particular order.


The Shadow Sister by Lucinda Riley
This is the third book of one of my favourite series, The Seven Sisters. It is set in a  rambling bookshop, the countryside made famous by Beatrix Potter and has a main character I would love to talk to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caraval by Stephanie Garber
This was recommended to me by a friend but I kept putting it further down my TBR but this was a decision I regret because it is a unique book, full of action and vivid imagery. My full review can be read here

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Path Keeper by N.J Simmonds

This is an original plot with a fiesty main character. A full review can be read here

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

A full review can be read here

 

 

 

 


Regan: Snatcher of Souls by R. McDowall

It is dark, well written love story. I am looking forward to the next installment.

Meet the Author post with Rebecca McDowall can be found here

 

 


Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland

Set in my favourite places –  York, Whitby and a bookshop this had to be included in my top reads. I loved the characters and it made me accept that maybe, poetry is accessible and can be enjoyable.

 

 

 


A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

I was impressed by the film so immediately read the book. A review will be posted soon but it is a must read.

 

 

 


A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle by Kiltie Jackson

An uplifting funny read that is deeper than your average romance. A full review can be read here

 

 

 

 


Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

I can not believe it has taken me this long to read any Alice Hoffman’s books. It is magical, well written with characters that remain with you long after you close the book.

 

 

 

 


Sleepers Castle by Barbara Erskine

Barbara Erskine is one of my favourite authors and this is has become one of my favourites with the Welsh setting, plot and characters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gift/The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

I could not choose between these two psychological thrillers. Louise Jensen is an author to follow if you enjoy a good twist. Reviews can be found here and here.

 


Strangehollow by Emily Hare

I purchased a copy through Emily Hare’s Kickstarter campaign this year. It is a stunning collection of illustrations of the creatures and tales from Strangehollow.

 


Soulweaver by Heidi Catharine

Technically, this should be in next year’s list because it is not released until later this month but I received an ARC. A review will be posted shortly but it is a thought-provoking, magical read.

 

 

 

Dead Woman Walking

 

Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton

Another one of my favourite authors. She excels in original plots, twists and suspense. I am looking forward to her new book this year The Craftsman.

 

 

 

 What books have you enjoyed in 2017?

Happy reading and may 2018 be full of good books and happiness.

 

 

More book reviews for Christmas

It is Christmas Eve! How did that arrive so quickly?  There is just enough time to squeeze in  a quick collection of reviews of other books I have read this Christmas.

Romance

Christmas stockingTitle The Christmas stocking and other stories

Author Katie Fforde

This is a gentle, delightful collection of stories for the festive period by a popular author.  They are perfect length to read with a cup of tea when you can snatch a few moments.
I enjoyed them especially A Dream Christmas but prefer the author’s longer work where you can connect to the characters more.

 

Mistletoe coveTitle Christmas at Mistletoe Cove

Author Holly Martin

Holly Martin has written a festive romance that made me make wish wishes did come true. The characters are relatable and I had my fingers crossed throughout that life would be perfect and nothing bad would happen to the fun loving pair. It has the funniest smouldering sex scene I have ever read. It is worth reading purely for that.

 

Christmas WishTitle   A Christmas Wish

Author  Erin Green

A Christmas Wish is a treat to curl up with on a cold day, in your snuggly socks and drinking hot chocolate.
On Christmas Eve Flora finds herself staring at the steps of a house where she was abandoned as a baby in 1984. Unsettled in her life she decides she needs to discover her history and her links to the village. With the help of policeman, Joel who literally crashes into her life, she delves into the secrets and rumours of Pooley.
The festive air, charming characters and possibility of romance along with the mystery of her parentage makes you read just one more chapter.
I look forward to reading more books by Erin Green.

 

Non-fiction Books

HarkTitle Hark! The Biography of Christmas

Author Paul Kerensa

This a well presented and written non-fiction book about the history of Christmas throughout the ages. It is easy to read and it’s gentle humour makes it a joy.

It is ideal for Christmas fanatics like me to have in their stocking.

 

 

 

Chistmas flandersTitle Christmas: a biography

Author Judith Flanders

As a lover of Christmas, I thought I knew what this time of year was about and the origins of our traditions but this book opened my eyes to how little I really knew. This is an in-depth exploration of Christmas and takes you through the evolution of Christmas including religion, festivities, books, gifts and decorations.  It is a perfect read for those who get excited at the first sign of decorations in the shop or are always on the look out for more knowledge to impress friends and family especially over the Christmas dinner.

It is a book, I long to have a physical copy of on my bookcase to dip into every year.

 

What festive books have you been reading?

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and many books arrive in your stockings.

Merry Christmas and happy reading!

 

 

 

 

 

Book review: We will always have Christmas by Jenny Hale

We will always have Christmas

Title We will always have Christmas
Author Jenny Hale

Blurb

An enchanting story about the magic of Christmas, the importance of family, and the joy of falling in love during the most romantic season of the year…

Christmas has always been a special time for Noelle Parker. Winter evenings spent with family and friends, drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies at her family’s cozy bakery have shaped her love for all things festive. But this year everything is changing…

The beloved bakery is facing closure and Noelle needs a miracle to save Christmas.

Determined to raise funds for the family business, Noelle sets about revamping the bakery while juggling a surprise new job, caring for the elderly and cantankerous William Harrington in his luxurious, sprawling mansion.

As Noelle melts the frostiness of the house with cake baking, snowball fights and glittering decorations, she helps William to reconnect with a romance that has spanned decades and unexpectedly finds herself falling for his grandson – the gorgeous but mysterious Alexander Harrington…

In the countdown to Christmas, can Noelle save the bakery, reunite a family and create some magical memories of her own along the way?
This is a delightful read and is perfect to help you get in the mood for the Big Day or relax with when you need to take a break from the chaotic preparations.

Jenny Hale has captured Christmas in the pages of this book with her descriptive festive scenes and taste bud tingling food.  By the end of the story I longed to be in the kitchen of the bakery eating cake and drinking hot chocolate.

This is book that can happily be reread next year when you need a festive fix.

Thank you NetGalley for sending me an ARC to review.

 

Happy reading!