#BookReview YOURS CHEERFULL by A.J.PEARCE



ABOUT THE BOOK


From the author of the “jaunty, heartbreaking winner” (People) and international bestseller Dear Mrs. Bird, a new charming and upliftingnovel set in London during World War II about a plucky aspiring journalist.

London, November 1941. Following the departure of the formidable Henrietta Bird from Woman’s Friend magazine, things are looking up for Emmeline Lake as she takes on the challenge of becoming a young wartime advice columnist. Her relationship with boyfriend Charles (now stationed back in the UK) is blossoming, while Emmy’s best friend Bunty, still reeling from the very worst of the Blitz, is bravely looking to the future. Together, the friends are determined to Make a Go of It.

When the Ministry of Information calls on Britain’s women’s magazines to help recruit desperately needed female workers to the war effort, Emmy is thrilled to be asked to step up and help. But when she and Bunty meet a young woman who shows them the very real challenges that women war workers face, Emmy must tackle a life-changing dilemma between doing her duty and standing by her friends.

Every bit as funny, heartwarming, and touching as Dear Mrs. BirdYours Cheerfully is a celebration of friendship—a testament to the strength of women and the importance of lifting each other up, even in the most challenging times.


PUBLISHED BY PICADOR


PURCHASE LINK


Amazon

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audio version of this book.

Having loved Dear Mrs Bird, I was so pleased that the characters would be back for another installment, and it hasn’t let me down! It’s one of those ‘nice’ books that are a pleasure to read. You enjoy the characters so much that they become like friends as you watch over their progress.

This book is set a few months after DMB, and life at the magazine during the war continues to throw up new issues and challenges for the staff. And with it being a magazine for women, the focus on the role of women during the war is top priority, so that sets Emmy off to look at new ways of incorporating the lives of women as she forges on with her journalist career.

There’s still a snobby attitude by some towards the ‘Friend’ magazine, and that only just makes those working there more determined to do the best for their readers. The advice column is still a major success and it is giving women a voice. And with the magazine asked to help get women to help out with the war effort, I loved seeing how creative Emmy and the others were in finding ways to show the impact that women can have in a positive way.

The research and attention to detail was top notch once more, and really bought home the issues facing women at the time – dealing with worrying about their loved ones, whilst trying to carry on as normal and raise their families not knowing what was round the corner. And proving the power of coming together to raise awareness and fighting for their rights. Some things never seem to change… unfortunately!

Looking forward to book three already…. if there is to be more!!

★★★★

#BookReview WINDSWEPT by ANNABEL ABBS #NonFiction #Windswept



ABOUT THE BOOK


Annabel Abbs’s Windswept: Walking the Paths of Trailblazing Women is a beautifully written meditation and memoir that reflects on that most fundamental way of connecting with the outdoors: the simple act of walking. In absorbing and transporting prose, Abbs follows in the footsteps of groundbreaking women, including Georgia O’Keeffe in the empty plains of Texas and New Mexico, Nan Shepherd in the mountains of Scotland, Gwen John following the French River Garonne, Daphne du Maurier following the River Rhône, and Simone de Beauvoir—who walked as much as twenty-five miles a day in a skirt and espadrilles—in the mountains and forests of France. These trailblazing women were reclaiming what had historically been considered male domains.

The stories of these incredible women and artists are laced together by the wilderness walking in Abbs’s own life, beginning with her poet father who raised her in the Welsh countryside as an “experiment,” according to the principles of Rousseau. Windswept is an inventive retrospective and an arresting look forward to the way walking brings about a kind of clarity of thought not found in any other activity, and how it has allowed women throughout history to reimagine their lives and break free from convention. As Abbs traces the paths of these exceptional women, she realizes that she, too, is walking away from, and towards, a very different future. Windswept crosses continents and centuries in an arresting and stirring reflection on the power of walking in nature.

PUBLISHED BY TWO ROADS

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

Blackwell’s

hive.co.uk

MY REVIEW

Just glorious!! I found this book to be inspiring, thought provoking, educational, fascinating and just wonderful!

The author uses her own life experiences, especially when she found herself in hospital unable to walk, to explore the art of walking and the fact that there was very few books around by women about walking and their adventures, when there are so many by men. With extensive research she uncovers some amazing characters – many of whom I had heard nothing about – and has brought their stories to life by challenging herself to walk the routes they did in the past, and this really just makes this book so immersive and inspiring.

The women she features are Frieda Lawrence, Gwen John, Clara Vyvyan, Nan Shepherd, Simone de Beauvoir, Georgia O’Keefe, but there is also reference to Daphne Du Maurier and Emma Gatewood.
All very different women but all sharing a deep passion for walking, exploring – and shockingly for women – walking by themselves!! The shame!! But in their adventures they enjoyed the freedom it gave them and allowed them to find their own minds, and the author shared these feelings as she uses each chapter to share her walk, alongside that of the woman she was walking in the footsteps of. There’s a look back in time to the lives of these amazing women, their trials and tribulations, the scandals, alongside her own experiences and thoughts on the changes over time as to the attitudes towards a variety of different topics.

It explores the benefits to your health of walking, the stories of the kindness of strangers met along the way, the pitfalls and reality of walking in the middle of nowhere by yourself, and the overwhelming sense of achievement and confidence these women had when they had finished a walk. And how eager they were to go on other adventures. Some weren’t afraid to go against convention, some lost their families over their actions, but most were just inspired by the solace they felt while walking, despite all of them having a real strong attachment to ‘home’ and realising just how little they needed in their lives.

I learnt so much about these women as the author relayed their stories, alongside her own walking experiences and how that time alone gave her time to think over her life choices. Reading about these women, inspired me to research a little more about them and their work and it’s been enlightening to learn more about these amazing women. The way the author connected with each woman also made this more of an experience as she wanted to feel what

It is one of those books that inspires, educates and just makes you want to walk!! To use your time wisely, and when you get the chance to grab that time for yourself and go out exploring, no matter how near or far!

★★★★★

#BookReview THE LAMPLIGHTERS by EMMA STONEX



ABOUT THE BOOK 


They say we’ll never know what happened to those men.

They say the sea keeps its secrets…

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .

The Lamplighters is a heart-stopping mystery rich with the salty air of the Cornish coast, and an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.

PUBLISHED BY PICADOR

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

Blackwell’s

MY REVIEW

Holy Moly!! This is one of those books that leaves you feeling bereft when it ends! The characters take over your every thought and you’re left experiencing every kind of emotion as you read their stories unfold in front of your eyes. And all set against the backdrop of an imposing lighthouse and the unpredictability of the sea.

The story is told as now and then! Looking back at the families of the men who worked on the lighthouse and how they dealt with the mystery of the men’s disappearance on one fateful night. There’s no sign of a struggle, they left no trace behind … so where did they go and what happened to them? The book is based on a real life event, but the author has a wonderful time reimagining the events surrounding the disappearance and the impact on the families left behind.

With the story being told from both the viewpoint of the men as they worked on the lighthouse, and to the women dealing with life married to them and the years that followed after their disappearance, you really get a wonderful sense of how the isolation the men often felt, alongside how the women coped and tried to come to terms with their lives after – their own theories of what happened and the letters shared between the women as their friendships shattered.

There’s so much going on within each chapter and revelation. I loved the way the story came back to life as the mystery was looked into by a writer who wanted to try and get to the bottom of it all. Old wounds are reopened and feelings have to be confronted.

A wonderfully evocative book that has a little bit of every genre in it and I adored every single second of it!!

★★★★★

#BookReview A HISTORY OF WHAT COMES NEXT by SYLVAIN NEUVEL @MichaelJBooks

ABOUT THE BOOK


Imagine everything you thought you knew about human progress was wrong. What would you do?

Mia is not sure what she is, but she isn’t human. Smarter, stronger than her peers, all she knows are the rules: there can never be three for too long; always run, never fight.

When she finds herself in Germany, 1945, she must turn the Nazi’s most trusted scientist with an offer: abandon the crumbling Nazi party, escape Germany with your life, come to work for the Americans building rockets.

But someone is watching her work. An enemy who’s smarter, stronger, decidedly not human and prepared to do anything to retrieve something ancient that was long lost.

If only she had any idea what it was . . .

PUBLISHED BY MICHAEL JOSEPH

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon

blackwell’s

goldsboro books – signed edition

MY REVIEW

This was an exciting and imaginative piece of speculative fiction, that features some really strong female characters, who are front and centre of the plot to try and save the world – despite the humans doing their best to destroy it all with the advancement of rocket technology.

The women, mothers and daughters, are seen at various times throughout history, but the main characters, Mia and her mother Sara, are based around Germany in 1945 as the world is busy destroying itself with another war, and the race is on to expand the rocket technology to cause even more destruction. The women work on the premise ‘Take Them to the Stars’, and you watch as they try and engineer their way into a male dominated world to try and steer humans to a different path. Added to the mix is ‘The Tracker’ whose task over the years is to stop these women, by any means necessary, and it really is often a race against time to save themselves or those around them when the tracker closes in on their new location.

What I loved about this book is the pure strength of the characters – with history repeating itself over and over – we see these women faced with constant hurdles, and their own emotions of anger at the world they witness. We get to see the impact of wars on the countries after the events, how it affected the population and how the bond between mother and daughter never waivers. There’s more show of humanity in their behaviour than amongst the humans they encounter at times!

This was a book with a great mix of sci-fi and history, and I found it to be really compelling and had a great ‘spark’ about it. There’s also some fascinating author notes at the end, along with a playlist that really added something extra to the whole reading experience.

★★★★

My thanks to Lucy at Penguin Randomhouse for sending me an advanced copy to read in return for a fair and honest review.

#BlogTour CROW COURT by ANDY CHARMAN #BookReview #CrowCourt @AndyCWriter @unbounders @RandomTTours

Delighted to be sharing my thoughts on CROW COURT today on the fabulous Blog Tour! My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of  Random Things Tours for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!

‘Debut novels shouldn’t be this perfectly formed. Its subject is historic, yet its exploration of morality feels utterly modern. A rarity in historical fiction: it truly places you in the here and now of a world once removed. Crow Court already looks, feels and smells like a classic’ – Ben Myers, author of The Gallows Pole and The Offing 

‘Inventive, original and deeply moving. There is a warmth and humanity, an acceptance of the vagaries and challenges of life’ – Alice Jolly, author of Mary Anne Sate, Imbecile

Unbound’s lead fiction title for 2021: a stunning debut from a breathtakingly assured new voice in fiction Spring, 1840. In the Dorset market town of Wimborne Minster, a young choirboy drowns himself. Soon after, the choirmaster—a belligerent man with a vicious reputation—is found murdered, in a discovery tainted as much by relief as it is by suspicion. The gaze of the magistrates falls on four local men, whose decisions will reverberate through the community for years to come.

 So begins the chronicle of Crow Court, unravelling over fourteen delicately interwoven episodes, the town of Wimborne their backdrop: a young gentleman and his groom run off to join the army; a sleepwalking cordwainer wakes on his wife’s grave; desperate farmhands emigrate. We meet the composer with writer’s block; the smuggler; a troupe of actors down from London; and old Art Pugh, whose impoverished life has made him hard to amuse. Meanwhile, justice waits… 

‘A confident and exciting debut: exactly observed, densely textured and richly flavoured, Crow Court is throbbing with life’ – Rick Gekoski, author of Darke 

‘This clever narrative is both page-turning and original – an innovative and beautifully-written historical novel that features an array of diverse characters and voices from its vividly-realised Dorset setting’ – Jane Harris, author of Sugar Money

 ‘A gripping mystery, beautifully teased out over several decades, full of intrigue and ambiguity’ – Andy Hamilton, author of Longhand

 Published by UNBOUND

PURCHASE LINKS

hive.co.uk
blackwell’s

About the author: 


Andy Charman was born in Dorset and grew up near Wimborne Minster, where Crow Court is set. His short stories have appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including Pangea and Cadenza. Crow Court is his first novel, which he worked on at the Arvon course at The Hurst in Shropshire in 2018. Andy lives in Surrey and is available for interview, comment and events

.MY REVIEW


I was drawn to this book because of the links to Wimbourne, a place where I spent many happy holidays as a child, and it was brilliant to be transported back in time for this ‘history mystery’ that had me anxiously turning the pages to see how things would pan out for all the characters.  And it was a novel experience not to be having much sympathy for the choirmaster victim!! His death shook the local community albeit tinged with relief, but as the story evolves and widens you see behind the facade and the beliefs, and get the reality of someone abusing their power but people keeping quiet about it.  


When a choirboy drowns in Wimbourne, nobody has any idea of the chain of events that  his death will lead to.  But the whispers begin and we get to see various stories of local characters who are linked with the tragedy and how the gossip affects them and their behaviour. 

The story is told in such a way that you get a real feel for the history of the times – the goings on, the way of life and the local dialect used, which has a handy glossary at the back of the book so you can understand phrase used a little more!


There are many secrets being kept and many ‘naysayers’ who won’t even entertain the idea that the claims about the choirmaster and his ‘indiscretions’ – even as a reader, you are really left doubting the rumours at times, and struggle to pin down the accused as they all have seemingly good stories behind them!  So what really did happen that night?!  There’s always more to the story than meets the eye!


I really loved the pace of this story.  The language did take some getting used to, but once I was accustomed to it I really felt that I was on the fly on the wall watching the crime being solved in front of me.  The different storylines are woven together very carefully and link brilliantly together! An impressive debut!
★★★★★

#BookReview THE SURPLUS GIRLS’ ORPHANS by POLLY HERON @CorvusBooks @SusannaBavin

ABOUT THE BOOK

Manchester, 1922

Molly Watson has had enough. Engaged for the last three years to a penny-pinching pedant, she finally decides she’d rather be a ‘surplus girl’ than marry a man she doesn’t truly love. Aware of the need to support herself if she is to remain single all her life, Molly joins a secretarial class to learn new skills, and a whole world opens up to her.

When she gets a job at St Anthony’s Orphanage, she befriends caretaker Aaron Abrams. But a misunderstanding leaves them at loggerheads and damages her in the eyes of the children she has come to care about so deeply. Can Molly recover her reputation, her livelihood and her budding friendship before it’s too late?

PUBLISHED BY CORVUS

AUTHOR WEBSITE

PURCHASE LINKS

AMAZON


MY REVIEW

The second book in The Surplus Girls series, and another brilliant storyline that centres around the women after the war and the expectations that were placed on them by their family and society, no matter what their own hopes and dreams were!

Molly is the main character in this book and she has a spirited story to tell. She is back working at the local sweet shop and engaged to a man whose behaviour will leave you aghast as it did me! But it was the respectable thing for her to do, to tow the line, to marry, to become a mother.. so when Molly decides she wants more for herself it really is frowned upon.

I loved her determination so she sets out to improve her education and prospects and ends up working at the local orphanage, where a whole other set of emotional circumstances let you see another side of life at the times. The story of some of the children -especially Danny – is enough to break your heart and as Molly spends more time with them, along with Aaron the caretaker, they open others’ eyes to the plight of these children and to ‘think outside the box’, so to speak, in how to get through to them and make their lives better.

Molly is a really wonderful character, especially in the era the story is set in. She has a belief in herself and she doesn’t just want to settle for the norm! She wants choices and a future and seeing how others perceive her because of these decisions is quite enlightening and makes you cheer her on even harder!

A wonderful read and highly recommended!

★★★★★

My thanks to the author and publisher for the advanced reader copy, in return for a fair and honest review.

#AudiobookReview CHARLOTTE by HELEN MOFFETT

ABOUT THE BOOK


Everybody thinks that Charlotte Lucas has no prospects. She is twenty-seven years old, unmarried, plain, and seemingly without ambition. When she stuns the neighbourhood by accepting the proposal of buffoonish clergyman Mr Collins, her best friend Lizzy Bennet is angry at her for undervaluing herself. Yet the decision is the only way Charlotte knows to provide for her future, and marriage will propel her into a new world, of duty, marriage, children, grief and ultimately illicit love, and a kind of freedom.

Jane Austen cared deeply about the constraints of women in Regency England. This powerful reimagining takes up where Austen left off, showing us a woman determined to carve a place for herself in the world. Charlotte offers a fresh, feminist addition to the post-Austen canon, beautifully imagined, and brimming with passion and intelligence

PUBLISHED BY MANILLA PRESS

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audioversion of this book

This is the ‘what might have happened next’ once Pride & Prejudice was finished and it surprised me as to how much I wanted to know! And it worked! There’s some artistic licence throughout, obviously, but it made for such an engaging and endearing read as we get to see what happened to Charlotte in her married life.

Charlotte is one of those characters that you struggle to find things to dislike about – she’s a realist, she’s pragmatic and resilient. In her marriage to Mr Collins, they have children and are drawn together over the loss of a child – it makes her look at him through different eyes. But she’s still fighting the times of nothing being expected of women other than being married and having children, and she struggles with where that leaves her daughters in the future.

She goes to stay with Lizzie and Darcy for sometime to help her friend through some sadder times, and her eyes are opened to different experiences and viewpoints of the world.

The only thing that felt out of place for me was the rather OTT sex scene, but other than that this book a brilliant little look at the now and then for Charlotte – seeing how she got to where she was, the life she imagined and the life she got and was good to see how the attitudes towards women were starting to change amongst society.

★★★

#BlogTour THE SMALLEST MAN by FRANCES QUINN #BookReview #TheSmallestMan @franquinn @RandomTTours @simonschusteruk

Hugely delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour today for THE SMALLEST MAN by FRANCES QUIN.  My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for letting me be part of it all!!


ABOUT THE BOOK

The smallest man. The biggest heart. The mightiest story. A compelling story, perfect for fans of The Doll Factory and The Familiars.


 Nat Davy longs to grow tall and strong and be like other boys, but at the age of ten, he’s confronted with the truth; he’s different, and the day when the stares and whispers stop is never going to come. 


Narrowly escaping life in a freak show, he’s plucked from his family and presented as a gift to the new young queen of England – a human pet to add to her menagerie of dogs and monkeys. But when Nat realises she’s as lost and lonely as he is, the two misfits begin an unlikely friendship – one that takes him on an unforgettable journey, as England slides into the civil war that will tear it apart and ultimately lead the people to kill their king. 


Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is narrated by an irrepressible hero with his own unique perspective on life. His story is about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together. 


PUBLISHED BY SIMON & SCHUSTER


PURCHASE LINKS


Amazon
hive.co.uk

THE AUTHOR 


Frances Quinn read English at King’s College, Cambridge, and is a journalist and copywriter. She has written for magazines including Prima, Good Housekeeping, She, Woman’s Weekly and Ideal Home. She lives in Brighton with her husband and who Tonkinese cats. The Smallest Man is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter @franquinn.

 
‘An enchanting tale about a small man with a big heart. Nat Davy is so charming that I couldn’t bear to put this book down. I loved it’ Louise Hare, author of This Lovely City

MY REVIEW

I always love to learn about different characters in history, and this book has introduced me to such a character! The story of ‘Nat’ is based on the real life character Jeffrey Hudson, who found himself close to the royal action during the very turbulent times of the 17th Century.  Using this character gave a really fascinating insight into that period of history and to get his perspective of the goings on at Court, obviously with some artistic licence!

But in creating the character of Nat, it also allowed the story to develop as seeing life through the eyes of someone who was ‘different’ from everyone else and was stared at from a very young age.  This bought him to the attention of those with money, and coming from a very poor family, his father used this to his advantage to sell Nat to a wealthy family, who would then gift him to the new Queen as her ‘toy’.  

The Queen herself was very young and very new to society, so in Nat she found an ally and someone who could understand her feeling out of place.  I think the story gives a really good lesson in how to love yourself just as you are and not to try and be someone else. 

As the  reign of  King Charles I is show to be more and more rocky, I loved how the story showed the darker times for the Royal Family building up to ‘that’ moment in history that still shocks to this day.

I really enjoyed the way the story was written and allowed a different perspective to a momentous time in British history and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

★★★★

#BookReview HOLLY’S CHRISTMAS SECRET by KIRSTY FERRY

ABOUT THE BOOK


Once upon a Cornish Christmas …

It’s almost Christmas at the Pencradoc estate in Cornwall which means that, as usual, tea room owner Sorcha Davies is baking up a festive storm. And this year Sorcha is hoping her mince pies will be going down a treat at ‘The Spirit of Christmas Past’ exhibition being organised at the house by new local antiques dealer, Locryn Dyer.


But as Locryn and Sorcha spend more time together, they begin to uncover a very special story of Christmas past that played out at Pencradoc more than a century before, involving a certain ‘Lady’ Holly Sawyer, a festive dinner party and a magical secret encounter with a handsome author …


PUBLISHED BY CHOC LIT


PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hollys-Christmas-Secret-perfect-heart-warming-ebook/dp/B08GSM8519/  

Apple: https://books.apple.com/us/book/hollys-christmas-secret/id1529429721?itsct=books_toolbox&itscg=30200&at=11lNBs&ls=1

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/holly-s-christmas-secret

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hollys-christmas-secret-kirsty-ferry/1137551652?ean=2940162757702

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kirsty_Ferry_Holly_s_Christmas_Secret?id=G9j7DwAAQBAJ

MY REVIEW

We return to Pencradoc for another magical time slip story, and once again it just sweeps you away with the history and the mystery and I loved it!

This is book 3 in the Cornish Secrets series, but can easily be read as a standalone as each story follows a different character and experience.

This time Sorcha, the tearoom owner, is the main focus of this story as she helps get things ready for the Spirit of Christmas Past exhibition being held there. Locryn is the new local antique dealer, and he’s also involved so that means they have to start spending a lot of time together! And that’s when the fun starts!!

They both begin to watch the past unfold in front of their eyes and it’s always such a remarkable sight to see characters of the past play out their storyline. We get to travel back to 1906 for the ghostly goings on, and are introduced to Elsie Pencradoc and her friend Holly who are planning a big Christmas party!

This had such a fairytale feel to it throughout – from the setting to the storyline – and I just adored my time spent in the company of all these characters! A spectacular supernatural story!!

★★★★★

#BlogTour THOSE WHO KNOW by ALIS HAWKINS @DomePress @Alis_Hawkins

A huge delight to be stop today for the fabulous Blog Tour for THOSE WHO KNOW by ALIS HAWKINS.  My thanks to Emily Glenister at Dome Press for putting this tour together and letting me be part of it all!  


ABOUT THE BOOK

Harry Probert-Lloyd has inherited the estate of Glanteifi and appointed his assistant John as under-steward. But his true vocation, to be coroner, is under threat. Against his natural instincts, Harry must campaign if he is to be voted as coroner permanently by the local people and politicking is not his strength.


On the hustings, Harry and John are called to examine the body of Nicholas Rowland, a radical and pioneering schoolteacher whose death may not be the accident it first appeared. What was Rowland’s real relationship with his eccentric patron, Miss Gwatkyn? And why does Harry’s rival for the post of coroner deny knowing him? Harry’s determination to uncover the truth threatens to undermine both his campaign and his future.

PUBLISHED BY DOME PRESS

PURCHASE LINKS

Publisher Website

hive.co.uk

blackwell’s

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alis Hawkins grew up on a dairy farm in Cardiganshire. After attending the local village primary school and Cardigan County Secondary school, she left West Wales to read English at Oxford. Subsequently, she has has done various things with her life, including becoming a speech and language therapist, bringing up two sons, selling burgers, working with homeless people, and helping families to understand their autistic children. And writing. Always. Nonfiction (autism related), plays (commissioned by heritage projects) and, of course, novels. Alis’s first novel, Testament, was published in 2008 by Macmillan and was translated into several languages. (It has recently been acquired for reissue, along with her medieval trilogy of psychological thrillers by Sapere Books). Her current historical crime series featuring blind investigator Harry Probert-Lloyd and his chippy assistant, John Davies, is set in Cardiganshire in the period immediately after the Rebecca Riots. As a sideeffect of setting her series there, instead of making research trips to sunny climes like more foresighted writers, she just drives up the M4 to see her family. Now living with her partner on the wrong side of the Welsh/English border (though she sneaks back over to work for the National Autistic Society in Monmouthshire) Alis speaks Welsh, collects rucksacks and can’t resist an interesting fact.

Social Media & Links 

Twitter: @Alis_Hawkins

 Website: http://www.alishawkins.co.uk

MY REVIEW

Book 3 in the series and Harry and John are back! And this time their cases prove to be more complex than ever.  Especially with Harry having his head turned by the lure of local politics.  He is aiming to be elected coroner full time, but it isn’t proving an easy task.

The death of a popular local teach has raised some alarm bells. He was found on the floor, seemingly having fallen out of a loft.  Did he fall or was he pushed?   And when the local magistrates want the case closed quickly, the irks Harry as he’s never one to just settle!  He wants to find out what really happened and if he has to ruffle some feathers to get to the truth, he doesn’t care!

As always, we have the alternating points of view of Harry and John which works so well for these characters as it gives you time with them both to watch things unfold.

The more they delve into the life of the deceased teacher, the darker the plot becomes. His aim was to prove how good small welsh schools could be, but many were against this, and they uncover family feuds too so the list of suspects begins to grow.  Despite their own battles personally, their focus rarely waivers from the case.

The sense of history surrounding the story is as strong as ever, showing up the treatment of women and how society expected them to behave was especially illuminating.

This is a story full of secrets and scandal, and I just loved how determined and clever Harry and John were in getting to the bottom of the mystery of just how the teacher died.  I also really appreciated the notes at the back of the book that gave more historical insight into the times when the book was set. 

A fantastic novel, and a series that I hope will carry on for some time to come!!

★★★★★