It was teatime on Tuesday, and nobody had died yet…
In a world where the men are at war and the women keep the home fires burning, Christabel Fyttleton is faced with domestic crises involving lodgers, rationing, maypole dancers and Kaiser Bill (don’t ask!) – as well as her most daunting challenge ever.
Not only that! There’s a sudden death – again – as though she hasn’t enough to cope with already.
But is it murder, misadventure, or merely misfortune?
I received a copy of this book from Darkstroke Books and the author in return for an honest review.
This historical mystery set in 1918 has a lovely sense of place and time. The author captures the essence of 1918 England, with the war nearing its end leaving a trail of devastation, grief and emancipation in its wake.
The story focuses on the family of three sisters, grandmother and mother and their menagerie of animals. The cast features many characters living in the village who all contribute to the vibrancy of the story. The story is simple but engaging with humour, poignancy and romance all interwoven into the historical mystery.
The mystery surrounding the body is one element of this, but the enchantment is in the everyday lives of the Fyttleton women at such a historically iconic time.
Nicola Slade is an award-winning, bestselling author of historical and contemporary mysteries and romantic fiction, all set in and around Winchester and Romsey in Hampshire – which is where she lives. The House at Ladywell – a contemporary romantic novel with historical echoes – won the International Chatelaine Grand Prize for Romantic Fiction at the CIBA awards in April 2019.
She is the author of the mid-Victorian Charlotte Richmond mysteries and the contemporary Harriet Quigley mysteries. The Convalescent Corpse, published November 2018, an Amazon best-seller, the first in a new series, The Fyttleton Mysteries, set in 1918.
The Merry Month of Murder, the second book in The Fyttleton Mysteries – Published 10th September 2020
Single mother Francesca is struggling to get by when an act of desperation leads to her owing a debt to notorious gangland boss, Tony Lambrianu. Tony has his own troubles – a change of image from playboy to respectable married man is needed to further his criminal career. He has women falling at his feet, but none he wants to make his wife. As Francesca is drawn deeper into the dark underworld dealings of Tony and his associates, she has to make alliances of her own to survive. And she’ll do whatever it takes to protect her small son. This is a roller coaster ride of high stakes, dirty tricks, loyalty and love. Strap in – it’s a hell of a trip!
Please note: this is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This story is one for gritty, gangland crime fans. Francesa struggles to keep her head above water when her lover cheats and leaves. Emotionally and financially broken, she crosses path with the world of gangs and crime, and it changes her life.
Believable characters and authentic settings draw the reader into the ganglit world. Francesa is vulnerable because of her loyalty to family and her need to protect her son. These family drama elements give the story, its emotional depth. There’s also romance full of conflict and compromise which is realistic. The plot is complex and creates a believable world. This story forms part of a saga, and it’s probably best to read the books in order for continuity.
My name is Gillian Godden an Indie author and a full time NHS Key worker at a local inner city medical centre in East Hull, East Yorkshire, England. My patients come from all sectors of society and no two days are ever the same. My duty of care is to my patients and during the recent pandemic a lot of frightened and lonely people have relied upon us at the medical centre to offer guidance and support. This year is the 72nd anniversary of the NHS and we do everything we can to support out patients when they need us.
When I come home I like to wind down and writing is my escape from the mental stresses of my day. My job is not a 9 to 5 job and I work to support my patients when they need me so my days can be long.
The medical team at the surgery work together to support all our patients during their time of worry and need.
On a more personal note , I grew up in a large family and am the youngest of 7 siblings. Over the years we have lost touch as life moves on. I lived in London for over 30 years and during this time I worked in various London stripper pubs and venues. I have a grown up son who now lives and works in London as a hematology lab technician. He has been working on the Covid 19 testing and this has been a worrying time for us as a family.
Once he left for University 5 years ago I had more time on my hands I was encouraged to write a short story by a local library book competition. First prize was a P&O cruise and 2nd prize was £50, I lost to a pigeon fancier and an addicted crocheter.
My NHS colleagues supported my writing and encouraged me to continue to write, however being a little green and naive I went with a Vanity publisher, much to my cost. This experience did give me a platform to showcase my first book Francesca on Amazon and in the online book clubs. I was totally over whelmed by the response and people messaged me via social media wanting to know more about the characters and how Tony Lambrianu grew up and became so successful in the London Gangland crime world.
To answer their questions I went backwards in time and wrote Dangerous games and Nasty business. These also were successfully received by my now increasing readership, so in order to complete the series I wrote Dirty Dealings.
My readers are still interested in the characters throughout my books and asked for more information on the lives of Julie and Ralph Gold, so as I do everything I can to support my patients in my NHS job I wanted to do the same for my readers, so I am now writing Gold, the story of Julie and Ralph. Although this is a standalone book readers who have read all my other books will soon be able to find out more about Julie and Ralphs life and how they met.
A nature-loving cat and her conservationist mum team up to save endangered species! Boo the tabby cat is born on a Lincolnshire farm and seems destined for a simple life. Everything changes when she’s put up for adoption and is taken in by Ellie Caldwell, an adventurous Cambridge graduate student who loves animals and is studying to become a wildlife conservationist. Between lectures, Ellie heads to the countryside for camping trips, her Instagram-anointed ‘adventure cat’ in tow. On rocky trails, Boo discovers that, like Ellie, she has a passion for the natural world, and because she’s able to communicate with all animals, she can relate their challenges back to Ellie. But there’s a serious problem: whenever Boo tries to tell Ellie something, all Ellie hears is “Meow.” Can they work out a communication system, and in doing so, save endangered animals from harm while encouraging public support of nature and wildlife?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a conservationist book aimed at older children and young adults. The main protagonists in this tale are a young women studying for a post-grad and her cat Boo.
Superficially this is a lovely adventure fantasy story about a cat talking to other animals and then learning to communicate with her human. As an adult you may have to suspend belief to accept this concept, but for children who are more receptive to the extraordinary, this concept should work.
The underlying messages are valid, and the motivations of Ellie, Boo and their friends positive. It’s an engaging story with relatable characters and teaches whilst it entertains.
Millie Kerr is an author, journalist and photographer focused on wildlife conservation. A former lawyer, Millie uses storytelling to help people see splendour and fragility of the natural world. Her creative essays and reported articles—which predominantly involve travel and wildlife—have appeared in dozens of top-tier American and British publications, among them The Economist, National Geographic Traveller, Popular Science, and The Wall Street Journal. Millie has also worked for numerous global conservation NGOs, both as an in-house writer and an external consultant; and her legal career saw her working in private practice and government. She graduated from the University of Cambridge with a Masters of Philosophy in Conservation Leadership and has lived between the UK and USA for fifteen years. Her adopted cat, Baboon, has been her constant companion, although unlike their fictitious counterparts, they only enjoy indoor adventures.
Imogen Tolliman never knew her mother. And when an accident robs Immi of her father too, she goes to live with her grandfather, Tollie, in his picturesque lock-keeper’s cottage by the Aysbury marina.
Tollie is the star of the Santa Ahoy Special each Christmas – a festive boat ride along the canal that enthralls both children and adults alike. And as Immi grows up, she starts to appreciate the magical community she is lucky enough to live in.
When Immi meets Gray Adams, she instantly realises he’s someone special. And as their relationship gets serious, they start to plan for the Christmas to beat all Christmases.
But as the day approaches, and the romantic snow showers turn into blizzards, their dream of a Christmas to remember, looks set to be one they’ll never forget – for all the wrong reasons. Can they salvage the festivities, or will old secrets that are finally uncovered turn Immi’s life upside down forever?
Let Lucy Coleman transport you away to a dreamy Cotswolds Christmas full of snowflakes and secrets, log fires, mistletoe, friends and much-loved traditions.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books in return for an honest review.
This is a lovely festive slice of community spirit, friendship and love. Immi has faced a lot of grief in her young life, but she’s showered with love by her grandfather and the community where they live, she feels blessed. Her love life is peachy with Gray except they don’t see each other as much as they like, so she writes a letter to Santa.
The two protagonists are quirky characters, but they are good people and as the story progresses you like them more. This story emphasises the meaning of Christmas, family and coping with what life throws your way, and the result is a heartwarming and ultimately satisfying festive read.
Extract from the book…
I read an article the other day, giving tips on how to manifest the life you want. You begin by writing a letter and… burning it. Whether you want to free yourself of worry, realise a dream, or simply declutter your mind, a well-respected life coach believes that the universe is listening. I’m not sure how I feel about that statement, but I can see how it might be cathartic for some people – assuming they have the guts to do it properly.
What I’m discovering, though, is that being honest with oneself isn’t easy. After almost an hour, most of it spent with a pen in my hand hovering over the piece of paper in front of me, it remains blank. Even though I love the idea of releasing negative energy into the ether, or drawing positive energy towards me, I can’t do it. I’m not ready to bare my soul to anyone. Least of all, myself.
Maybe I’ll write a letter to Santa, instead, and burn that. Start small and work your way up, Immi, I tell myself. As one of my three jobs involves wearing an elf costume every weekend in December, I figure that if I’m not ready to reach out to the universe, Santa is the next best option.
This year I’m hoping Christmas is going to be a truly joyful occasion to make up for the disappointments of last year. When the man you love – your soul mate – is supporting a parent through the big C, life can feel as if it’s on hold. I won’t lie, it’s been tough. My mind and my body ache when he isn’t here with me because I’m simply going through the motions rather than living my life.
Anyway, what harm can it do to honour an age-old tradition? After all, I’m one of Santa’s biggest fans. They say the act of believing makes things happen and I’ve seen that with my own eyes. So here goes:
When I was six years old, I wrote you a very special letter. I handed Dad the sealed envelope and we stood together, hand in hand, as he threw it onto the fire. I watched in fervent anticipation as the wisps of pale grey smoke, tinged with little curls of white, disappeared up the chimney.
Everyone thought I was asking you for a doll’s house, but actually, I asked you to bring my mum back home to us. Dad didn’t understand why I burst into tears on Christmas morning, after I’d unwrapped the wonderful presents beneath the glittering tree. And, at the time, I didn’t understand that I had asked for the impossible.
Every year until I was twelve, when I wrote my last letter, I just asked for toys, books and clothes, as the other kids did. But in my heart there was only one thing I longed to have, because I honestly believed that it would make my life complete.
But I appreciate now how lucky I was, and that the true magic of Christmas was there all along. I was surrounded by love. The love of my dad, my grandparents and our friends. No child could ask for more than that.
This year there is only one thing on my list and it’s to be able to celebrate Christmas with the man I love, Gray, by my side. I need it to reassure me there really can be an us and that life isn’tgoing to cheat me, yet again.
Just keep everything crossed for me, will you? That’s all I ask. And keep up the good work. A lot of people believe in you, regardless of their age. In today’s world that’s both magical and inspiring, because what is life without hope?
With much love, Immi
Lucy Coleman is a #1 bestselling romance writer, whose recent novels include Snowflakes over Holly Cove. She also writes under the name Linn B. Halton. She won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award and lives in the Welsh Valleys.
A life fractured into parallel worlds. A quiet magic to accept or ignore. A decision to make.
Escape from difficult family dynamics is teenager Rainbow’s desire. When she discovers a strange gift for communicating with trees, she thinks she’s found her salvation. Even better, a mysterious but gentle man living in her Dorset village helps develop her powers.
But when tragedy strikes, Rainbow’s life is torn apart, creating parallel worlds in the process. In one life, the vulnerable Rainbow strives to salvage her family. In the other, her alter-ego, Mary, flees her past. Over the next few years the two versions of Rainbow follow very different lives. The source of their grief, however, is the same – a confession buried deep within their memories.
Could France offer more than a mere escape? As the two worlds draw closer and memories resurface, Rainbow and Mary’s futures must be determined. Can they receive the healing they need? Or will the renewed pain be too much to bear? Only by risking their lives will they know.
Rainbow thought she’d died in the accident. She had to be dead because she could see Amrita Devi, and Amrita came from a Bishnoi legend.
Amrita was hugging a silver maple tree on the edge of a wood. A heaven full of trees seemed fitting to Rainbow, though lightning had split this particular maple and one of its two branches was almost dead. It needed some good hugging.
The Bishnoi girl was exactly as Rainbow had imagined: small and sprite-like with long black hair, and wearing a colourful sari in pinks and reds. Rainbow’s mum had told her the legend nine years ago, when Rainbow was four. According to the fable, Amrita had tried to save an ancient tree from woodcutters.
Amrita lifted her head from the trunk and beckoned to her. Rainbow crept through the silence to the silver maple and mirrored Amrita, lacing her arms around its trunk and hugging it. Then she closed her eyes and let herself be drawn into the tree’s reassuring comfort. It was as if she, Amrita and the maple were one, holding and healing each other. This was definitely heaven.
She opened her eyes to tell Amrita how great it all felt. But Amrita raised a finger to her lips and pointed towards a figure that had just arrived. It was another Rainbow.
This Rainbow looked angry. She kicked through decaying leaves, her hands shoved deep into her jean pockets. When she heard Amrita’s low call, she stopped and stared at them both. Her face was shock-white and her lips frozen blue.
Amrita stretched a hand towards her, inviting her to join them at the silver maple. But this strange Rainbow refused to come closer. Amrita pleaded, her voice an ethereal shimmer. “Xylem and phloem, xylem and phloem,” she said. “You’re not cambium. You shouldn’t have divided. Come! Be healed!”
The strange Rainbow ignored Amrita’s peculiar entreaty. She turned her back and stamped away.
Rainbow realised she’d been holding her breath. She let it out in a sigh of relief. She didn’t want to share Amrita and heaven with this imposter. She tried to catch Amrita’s eye and smile at her, but Amrita was no longer as solid as before. The whole of heaven rippled, like a bubble in a breeze. The colours weakened. Each separate entity blurred into a red-gold fuzz of whirling leaves. Then the bubble burst.
Excerpt from Tree Magic by Harriet Springbett
Harriet Springbett’s childhood on a small farm in West Dorset gave her an early exposure to nature, which continues to inspire her writing.
She qualified as an engineer but, during a Raleigh International expedition in Chile, she realised she preferred words to numbers. She abandoned her profession, moved to France, studied French and then worked as a project manager, feature writer, translator and TEFL teacher. She now lives in Poitou-Charentes with her French partner and their teenage children.
Since her first literary success, aged 10, her short stories and poetry have been published in literary journals and placed in writing competitions, including a shortlisting in the 2017 Bath Short Story Award.