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Tuesday, 31 March 2020

#BookReview #PublicationDay HAMNET by MAGGIE O'FARRELL #Hamnet


Drawing on Maggie O'Farrell's long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare's most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.

Award-winning author Maggie O'Farrell's new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.



GOLDSBORO BOOKS - signed first edition

Waterstones - signed edition



If I could give this 6 stars I would!! I found myself completely captivated by this story of family, of love, of grief and I lost count of how many tears I shed throughout!

This is the story of the man behind the plays. And it features his family - his wife, Agnes and their 3 children, Susanna, and the twins Hamnet and Judith. And each character has such a stunning tale to share that it's hard to pick the one I enjoyed the most.

In Agnes, the mother, there's her story of how she met her husband, the hard upbringing she had especially when she lost her mother, and her devotion to using medicinal herbs. Something that marks her out as different to others, and something her daughter Susanna finds embarrassing and resents her 'abilities'.

And then there's the bond between twins with Hamnet and Judith which was breathtakingly explored. When his sister takes to her bed extremely unwell, Hamnet is beside himself in what to do. His mother is out tending her herbs, his father is in London, and all he wants to do is find someone to make his sister better. He is truly pained by watching his sister suffer so much and is driven to extreme lengths to try and get her some help.

The story flits backwards and forwards in time to particularly memorable moments in all their lives and then those moments that are extremely devastating and gutwrenching. The descriptions of grief showed as a mother loses her child and the days, weeks, months afterwards were brilliantly portrayed and caused me to shed the most tears as you suffered those emotions with her.

I simply adored this book from the first page to the last. The ambience of the times is brought to life so beautifully, each character is well developed for you to connect with and it was a haunting, emotional and staggeringly brilliant read! A must read!!


My thanks to  Georgina at  Midas PR for the review copy in return for a fair and honest review.

Monday, 30 March 2020

#MusicMonday LET'S DANCE by FIVE

Monday is here once more! That means MUSIC!  Hosted by Drew over at The Tattooed Book Geek, it's a weekly chance to share some tunes!|

I'm in need of songs that make me smile and want to dance, and this is one of my faves for doing that!  Five and Let's Dance....

Jiggy jump to the beat
And keep bouncing
Thirty seconds and counting
Hot one, this choice critical
Situation is difficult
My caliber won't allow me to rhyme on a level where you people can hear me
See me, guess I know you want to be me
In the meantime bounce to the beat see
Music is my life
Cause my life is music
The beat of the drum in your heart
Let's dance
Like you mean it, can't you feel it, don't you know
Let's dance
Cause you need it, better believe it, here we go
Let's dance
Give your all when we're coming together on the floor
Let's dance
You know that you've got what I like
Check it down
Dropping verbal bombs on the beat
Hoping that you people think this sound is unique
Ccause I like to party
You like to party
Come on everybody got to get it started
I got something to get you jumpin'
When I kick a freaky rhyme I get the dance floor thumpin'
Just step back and take time to check
When I rock up on the mic you people never forget
So check it out.
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Richard Breen / Jason Brown / Sean Conlon / Julian Gallagher / Martin Harrington / Ash Howes / Richard Stannard
Let's Dance lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Songtrust Ave

Sunday, 29 March 2020



'So original, so beautifully done, and sinister and savage. I didn’t want it to end' Chris Whitaker, author of Tall Oaks

When you're confronted with a wolf, you have to think like a wolf...

Franck and Lise, a French couple in the film industry, rent a cottage in the quiet hills of the French Lot to get away from the stresses of modern life.

In this remote corner of the world, there is no phone signal. A mysterious dog emerges, looking for a new master. Ghosts of a dark past run wild in these hills, where a German lion tamer took refuge in the First World War…

Franck and Lise are confronted with nature at its most brutal. And they are about to discover that man and beast have more in common than they think.


publication date -  2nd April 2020



This was a quietly unsettling story which worked so well over the dual timelines in which it is set. And if you think living in isolation in the hills of France would be a pleasant, relaxing experience, then think again!!

Set in 1917 and 2017, we follow stories that are very different in their context, but very similar in their outcome! Elements of fear are mixed with the reality of day to day life and it was an exhilarating mix as the two worlds mirrored each other with the noises of the animals in the hills echoing around.

In 2017, Lise and Franck rent a cabin high up in the hills. She's recovering from illness and wants away from the stresses and strains of modern living. Franck is not so keen and the whole idea of being without a phone signal terrifies him! She immediately settles into the life of peace and tranquility, whereas it just sets Franck off on high alert - afraid of every noise he hears, or movement he sees. The only peace he finds is when he goes to a nearby village to be amongst people for supplies and a coffee, and to catch up on his phone messages as he's stressed by work issues.

And back in 1917, it's a newcomer to the hills that unsettles the locals, especially with the start of the War hitting them hard, and this unknown strange German in the hills, with his lions and tigers - can they trust him? Is it safer for them with him around? For their peace of mind they share an uneasy truce with him, and life carries on but there's lots of fear around and they seek comfort in faith. They have so many questions about this Lion tamer in the hills - why is he there? how is he feeding his animals? - but the mayor seems to be on his side so they settle into trying their best to ignore him and getting on with their lives, but with strange things happening it's not long before nerves are on edge. And when he gets close to one of the villagers you wonder how that will change the dynamics of the lives they're all living.

With work pressure building for Franck, Lise seems totally at ease amongst nature and I enjoyed seeing how they both reacted to the environment they were living in. The story seemed to switch to a darker theme with Franck and his battle with his mind, and the introduction of a wild dog that shows up on their doorstep that seems to have a connection with Franck. The silence used to be deafening for Franck, but the more time he spends in his surroundings it seems to give him clarity about a few things going on his life and he knows he needs to act on that.

I enjoyed the unpredictability of the story and a few of the threads took me by surprise which was really clever and it appealed to my twisted mind in showing how irrational our minds can make us at times of stress and fear. The remote setting was perfect and added to the uneasy feeling that you get as a reader as you watch events unfold. An enjoyable and dark read!




A thought-provoking Medieval mystery you don’t want to miss! Perfect for fans of S D Sykes, L C Tyler, Karen Maitland and S J Parris.

Not every corpse put in a pit has died of the plague…

England, 1349

The Black Death is tearing through the country and those not yet afflicted are living in fear.

Martin Collyer wakes up in his family's charcoaling hut in the Forest of Dean to find his father dead on the bed beside him, half-sewn into his shroud. As Martin’s most recent memory is of being given the last rites, he cannot account for why he is alive and why his father – whose body bears not a trace of the plague – is dead.

With no home to go to and set free from the life of virtual servitude that his father had planned for him, Martin sets off on a journey across England to seek salvation for his father’s unconfessed soul.

He befriends another traveller on the way. But the man – Hob Cleve – seems to be harbouring dark secrets of his own.

As more suspicious deaths occur, Martin is left wondering whether Hob can be trusted.

What is Hob hiding? Is Martin travelling with a killer?

And what really led to Martin’s miraculous recovery?

THE BLACK AND THE WHITE is a chilling historical mystery set during the Medieval plague era.




Amazon  99p


A timely read considering the world we find ourselves  living in, and I was utterly absorbed by this historical tale, set during the Great Plague and following a man on a mission of discovery. Not easy when you are joined on your journey by a man who has completely different values and outlook on life.

Martin finds himself waking up alongside his dead father, while the plague ravages family and villages, and wonders why he's been spared. He wakes up clutching a figure of Saint Cynryth, a figure his father idolised, and Martin sees this as a sign to seek salvation for his father and to spread the word of this Saint that may, or may not, have saved his own life.

Martin is a quirky character! He is utterly devoted to doing the right thing and playing by the rules, but is troubled by nightmares - during the day he's lonely, by night he's terrified by demons.  As he travels from village to village on his way to Salster, where the shrine to the Saint is said to be, he is joined by Hob, who appears from nowhere to save him from being attacked. 

Wary but glad of the company, they make an odd duo travelling along and I loved watching their different attitudes towards the 'miracle' - Hob is a cynical soul and is bemused by the hold that this Saint has over Martin!  The way they challenge each other and their way of thinking was a fascinating part of the journey for me, and wondering if either of them really trust one another.  There are also a number of strange goings on that happen along the way which were an added twist to try and unravel!  It's a story that plays on the emotions of the characters - Martin especially as he's trying to find meaning amongst grieving for the loss of his family and finding himself alone.

It's a slow burner of a story but that allows you to immerse yourself more in the characters and get to understand their state of mind, and I thought the ending was particularly bittersweet and unexpected!  



An absolute delight to be taking part in the Blog Tour today to share my thoughts on LEMON DRIZZLE MONDAYS AT THE LITTLE DUCK POND CAFE by ROSIE GREEN. My thanks to the author, publisher and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

Lemon Drizzle Mondays at the Little Duck Pond Café 

Molly Hooper has a secret. It haunts her dreams and casts a dark shadow over life with her gorgeous three-year-old daughter, Eva. Arriving in Sunnybrook has given her a glimpse of sunshine. The Little Duck Pond Cafe crew seem so welcoming and there's even the chance of a new job. Baking delicious cakes has always taken Molly to a happy place, so the job - at the glorious Brambleberry Manor Cafe - might just be perfect for her. It would mean she and little Eva could finally put down some roots at last. But is Sunnybrook the sanctuary Molly is searching for? Or will the past come back to haunt her, wherever she hides?

 Purchase Link - 


 Rosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little. Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by 'the baddies'. Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all - unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love. Rosie's series of novellas is centred around life in a village cafe. The latest, ‘A Winter Wedding at the Little Duck Pond Cafe', is out now.

 Rosie has also written a full-length, standalone book, 'Snowflakes over Moondance Cottage', out now.

 Follow Rosie on Twitter -


I have adored this series from the start and this latest installment - #9! - didn't disappoint!! Having so much time following the characters in Sunnybrook, this book was another welcome trip back to catch up with all the latest goings on and to hear the story of another inhabitant!

Molly gets her chance to share her story in Lemon Drizzle Mondays, and it's another cracking story of friendship, overcoming problems and the power of kindness!  Molly and her daughter, Eva - just the cutest little girl! - are having landlord issues and finding life a little tougher than normal. Starting a new job she doesn't get off to the greatest starts when crossing paths with Matt, the local bookbinder, and she just wonders if her bad luck is going to continue! Her new job at Brambledown Manor Cafe starts off slowly, and they need to find ways to get new customers through the door. And that's where kindness comes into action! It's a novel way of attracting new people through the door and shows the power of community - and the power of offering cake as a reward!!

Once again, we get to reconnect with characters from previous Little Duck Pond Cafe installments, and it just feels like coming home again catching up with them all! Knowing what Molly has been through in the past, it really makes you feel for her and just want the best for her and little Eva.

It was just wonderful to escape into this world with this wonderful community and I'm already counting down the days until the next installment!!  Highly recommended!!


Saturday, 28 March 2020



This is a joyful, uplifting book for those of us who sometimes wake up and feel we’re not good enough. Spoiler alert: we are!

Meet Greta.

She’s funny.

She’s flawed.

She’s hiding so much behind her big smile she’s forgotten who she is.

But Greta is about to discover that the key to being happy is…being you.

Greta Gale has played the part of the funny fat one her entire life, hiding her insecurities behind a big smile. But size doesn’t matter when you can laugh at yourself, right?
Until Greta realises she’s the only one not laughing. And deep down, she’s not sure if she’ll ever laugh again.

But with her world feeling like it’s falling down around her, Greta is about to discover she’s stronger than she feels. And that sometimes the best moments in life come when it’s all gone a bit pear-shaped…


PURCHASE LINKS - e-book format - out now

paperback - out 16th April 2020


I adore Greta!! She is me! She is you! That woman who is smiley on the outside, pretending life is sweet and making fun of herself, but full of crippling doubts on the inside and wishing the pain would just go away. And what the author has done brilliantly in this book is use that connection to us always beating ourselves up that we're not good enough, and we get what we deserve... when that's not the case. We are worthy and we need to be true to ourselves to find that happy place we all deserve to live in.

Greta comes from a 'thin' family - that's how she sees it as a woman of a fuller figure, and she seems to react well to the digs and 'banter' but beneath the smiles she's hurting and she's playing a dangerous game with her health. It's only when things go too far that her family find out the severity of the situation and she's forced to face up to how her life is spiralling out of control.

The saving grace in her life is her namesake, Dr Greta Gayle, a hugely successful American lifestyle guru, who she is obsessed with due to them sharing the same name. It's the only thing they have in common, but she always seems to find inspiration from the Dr and her Instagram posts when she needs guidance.

While in rehab she is stripped away from her crutches in life, and that makes things begin to fall into place for her. Why has she been so afraid to be herself? What is she hiding from? It's often at our lowest points that life becomes a little clearer and she is forced to make changes in her way of thinking thanks to a therapist and the others she meets while in there. She sees she's not alone in feeling a failure, or useless, or out of place and that makes her feel a little more connected.

What follows is a trip to America with her beloved Uncle, and both of them find out a lot about themselves while over there and facing up to their pasts. He has lived his life with regrets too so thinks this is the perfect opportunity for both of them to live a little, and I loved their bond and how much they meant to one another.  And I loved the nods to The Wizard of Oz throughout!! Read the book and you'll find out more!

It's so much easier to say 'be yourself' than actually go through with it, and this book perfectly demonstrates that struggle we all go through of trying to fit in, losing sight of who we are and the reliance of outside influences to get us through the day. In Greta, there's a character who is funny, pretty, smart but yet she can only see her size, and following her on her often painful journey was uplifting, emotional and a delight to be part of! Highly recommended!!


My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up - 28th March 2020

Hello lovely bookish folk! How are we doing?! All ok i hope! Very scary and surreal times we're living in, so I hope we're all doing as we're told and STAYING AT HOME and WASHING YOUR HANDS!!  I've been extremely thankful for the sunshine this week as it has meant that I've been able to escape out into the garden - a great place to go and forget what is going on in the world!  

So how is your reading going?! I've been using books to escape and so my afternoons have been spent reading in the sunshine when I can - so good for the soul! So I've managed to finish 6 books this week which has been fabulous! I've been very restrained on the book buying front with no new purchases arriving, BUT there's always Netgalley and that may have lured me back to add 3 newbies to my shelf!

Here's my look back!



Netgalley got me again....

Out June 25th 2020

From the brothels and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-Robinson's Daughters of Night follows Caroline Corsham, as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget . . .

Lucia’s fingers found her own. She gazed at Caro as if from a distance. Her lips parted, her words a whisper: ‘He knows.’

London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline 'Caro' Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly-paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker, Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.

But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro's own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous than she can know . . .

out September 2020

A brand new space opera on an epic scale from the New York Times bestselling author of a beloved YA fantasy series.

It was supposed to be a routine research mission on an uncolonized planet. But when xenobiologist Kira Navárez finds an alien relic beneath the surface of the world, the outcome transforms her forever and will alter the course of human history.

Her journey to discover the truth about the alien civilization will thrust her into the wonders and nightmares of first contact, epic space battles for the fate of humankind, and the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

out June 2020

It is 1950. In a devastating moment of clarity, Margery Benson abandons her dead-end job and advertises for an assistant to accompany her on an expedition. She is going to travel to the other side of the world to search for a beetle that may or may not exist.

Enid Pretty, in her unlikely pink travel suit, is not the companion Margery had in mind. And yet together they will be drawn into an adventure that will exceed every expectation. They will risk everything, break all the rules, and at the top of a red mountain, discover their best selves.

This is a story that is less about what can be found than the belief it might be found; it is an intoxicating adventure story but it is also about what it means to be a woman and a tender exploration of a friendship that defies all boundaries



Friday, 27 March 2020

#BlogTour THE WALLS WE BUILD by JULES HAYES #BookReview #Giveaway @rararesources @JulesHayes6

Delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for the wonderful THE WALLS WE BUILD by JULES HAYES. My thanks to the author and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

There's also a giveaway on my page today - you lucky bunnies! - so watch out for that, along with my review, as this is one book you don't want to miss out on!!

The Walls We Build

 Three friends … Growing up together around Winston Churchill’s estate in Westerham, Kent, Frank, Florence and Hilda are inseparable. But as WW2 casts its menacing shadow, friendships between the three grow complex, and Frank – now employed as Churchill’s bricklayer – makes choices that will haunt him beyond the grave, impacting his grandson’s life too. 

Two Secrets … Shortly after Frank's death in 2002 Florence writes to Richard, Frank’s grandson, hinting at the darkness hidden within his family. On investigation, disturbing secrets come to light, including a pivotal encounter between Frank and Churchill during the war and the existence of a mysterious relative in a psychiatric hospital.

 One Hidden Life … How much more does Florence dare reveal about Frank – and herself – and is Richard ready to hear? 

Set against the stunning backdrop of Chartwell, Churchill’s country home, comes a tragic story of misguided honour, thwarted love and redemption, reverberating through three generations and nine decades.

 For readers of Kate Morton, Rachel Hore, Katherine Webb, Lucinda Riley and Juliet West. “Passion, intrigue and family secrets drive this complex wartime relationship drama. A page turner. I loved it.” #1 bestselling author, Nicola May

Purchase Links


Jules Hayes lives in Berkshire with her husband, daughter and a dog. She has a degree in modern history and holds a particular interest in events and characters from the early 20th century. As a former physiotherapist and trainer – old habits die hard – when not writing Jules likes to run. She also loves to watch films, read good novels and is a voracious consumer of non-fiction too, particularly biographies. Jules is currently working on her second historical novel, another dual timeline story. Jules also writes contemporary thriller and speculative fiction as JA Corrigan.

 Jules Hayes can be found at: 

Twitter @JulesHayes6 -
Facebook Author Page: JulesHayesAuthor - 
Instagram: JulesHayes6 - 

Writing as JA Corrigan, Jules can be found at:

 Twitter: @juliannwriter - 
Facebook Author Page: JA Corrigan - 
Instagram: corriganjulieann


Chartwell has always had a special place in my heart after many happy visits there with family, so that link drew me into reading this book and the special feeling of Chartwell is alive and kicking on the pages of this book as I found myself totally swept up in the lives of the characters and became so involved with their lives, secrets and struggles.  I may have even shed a tear or three as the story unfolded!!

This is the story of 3 friends from Kent - Hilda, Frank and Flo - and how their lives evolved through childhood to adulthood, during the times leading up to WW2 and beyond, and how secrets and lies never fail to cast a shadow over lives and what happens when you try and redeem the wrongs and how those living now deal with the pasts they are only just discovering.

What made this so special for me was the way that the stories ebbed and flowed with each character with them having such fascinating and compelling stories to explore.  There was always that link too back to the Churchill family which added to the history and sense of everyone pitching in during tough times. Meanwhile, real life was still going on around them and there was some serious issues going on in various families and showing how people dealt with things back then was eye opening. 

It was heartbreaking at times, especially watching the character Anna going through her struggles and it was dealt with in such a touching and sensitive manner.  The story draws you in beautifully with the revelations from the past as the family secrets are played out, and you often get the feeling that sometimes secrets are often best never shared.

This was a stunning piece of  fiction that has a little bit of everything thrown in - from the historical, to the emotional aspects of real life and the struggles we can all face - and I adored spending time in the company of these wonderful characters! Highly recommended!!


Want to win your own copy?! Well, now you can!! Read on for more details!!


Giveaway to Win a Signed copy of The Walls We Build (Open INT) 

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Good Luck!!!

Thursday, 26 March 2020




The Garden Jungle is a wonderful introduction to the hundreds of small creatures with whom we live cheek-by-jowl and of the myriad ways that we can encourage them to thrive.

The Garden Jungle is about the wildlife that lives right under our noses, in our gardens and parks, between the gaps in the pavement, and in the soil beneath our feet. Wherever you are right now, the chances are that there are worms, woodlice, centipedes, flies, silverfish, wasps, beetles, mice, shrews and much, much more, quietly living within just a few paces of you.

Dave Goulson gives us an insight into the fascinating and sometimes weird lives of these creatures, taking us burrowing into the compost heap, digging under the lawn and diving into the garden pond. He explains how our lives and ultimately the fate of humankind are inextricably intertwined with that of earwigs, bees, lacewings and hoverflies, unappreciated heroes of the natural world.

The Garden Jungle is at times an immensely serious book, exploring the environmental harm inadvertently done by gardeners who buy intensively reared plants in disposable plastic pots, sprayed with pesticides and grown in peat cut from the ground. Goulson argues that gardens could become places where we can reconnect with nature and rediscover where food comes from. With just a few small changes, our gardens could become a vast network of tiny nature reserves, where humans and wildlife can thrive together in harmony rather than conflict.

For anyone who has a garden, and cares about our planet, this book is essential reading. 




This is a book that will make you look at your garden differently! It doesn't only focus on how it looks, but the goings on underneath the soil and the insects and wildlife that visits your little part of the earth daily, and as a keen gardener and fan of wildlife, I'm even more eager now to do more bit and take time out to notice the little things - and leave things a little more 'wild' to help do my bit!

This is a really relevant book for the times we are living in - and no more than now, with many people staying home due to the 'lockdown' and spending more time in their garden than they normally do! The only downside for me is that the people who need to read this the most are the ones who won't pick this up as it's not full of glossy photos, or quick fixes for a 'low maintenance' garden - the kind of people who revel in the throwaway society we find ourselves in, who want everything to be easy to look after and to keep all the creepy crawlies out! This books shows just how important all the wildlife is to the make-up of the garden, and doesn't preach at you but explains things brilliantly and shows just how simple it can be to get the balance in the garden just right.

There are nods to using peat free compost, the benefits of being outdoors, the importance of allotments and growing your own, along with many other subjects such as the variety of animals that use our gardens daily, that shows that we can all do 'our bit' in a little way to help this planet of ours.

I really loved seeing a list of favourite plants he uses to attract different forms of wildlife, along with instructions on how to make your own wormery which has got me tempted to give it a go! I've learnt so much from this book and found it to be so informative and interesting, from a man who is clearly passionate about the subject he writes out! Highly recommended!!