5 Great Scary Books For Halloween

The Halloween holiday is nearly here and, as readers of this blog know, it’s one of our family’s favourite celebrations. As both a tongue-in-cheek celebration of the macabre and a recognition of the peak of the autumn season, it can be a delightful time of year for all who get into the spirit.

It’s also a wonderful time of year to spend an hour a day reclining in a comfortable chair with a hot, sweet drink and a good book in hand. And not just any book!  Here is a selection of great scary stories for Halloween.

During this season, there’s just something special about breaking out a spooky tale, whether it be a ghost story, a story involving Halloween themes, or a book that genuinely scares you.

These stories just suit the season, which is one reason a lot of people have a favourite Halloween read or two.

Super scary stories for Halloween

There are dozens of good spooky books you could read over the coming month or so. These, however, would be some of my top suggestions.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury is best known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451. Even so, however, this title gives the immediate impression that you’re in for a special, scary tale. And if you don’t know the book but the phrase sounds familiar anyway, you’ve probably heard it in another iconic literary source. The Harry Potter Wiki traces the phrase back to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, noting also that it appears in a song performed in Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban.

As for the Bradbury novel itself, it takes place in 1962 and concerns two boyhood friends (William Halloway and the wonderfully named Jim Nightshade) as they confront a mysterious carnival that shows up in town, led by the sinister “Mr Dark.” It’s almost a coming of age novel masked in horror, but it’s a perfect scary story nonetheless.

Harry Potter (series) by J.K. Rowling

While we’re at it with Something Wicked This Way Comes, we may as well full acknowledge the series in which its title appears as a song lyric. The Harry Potter books are, for the most part, not that scary. There are certainly some darker moments in the later books, which are decidedly more aimed at adults than the early ones. Scares aside though, this is a series full of open flames and pumpkins, ghosts and like creatures – witches and wizards for that matter! It’s ideally suited to the autumn season and Halloween holiday, particularly if you’re not a fan of open horror.

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley



Given how famous the name Frankenstein is, it’s amazing how many people have the wrong idea about the original work by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. The most recent of many films about these characters was a sort of reimagining or spinoff featuring Daniel Radcliffe. The most visible of a few games based on the same is an animated arcade experience included among the free slot offerings at a casino gaming site. Many still connect the name “Frankenstein” even to the famous Mel Brooks black-and-white film that turned it into a comedy.

It’s fine for a story and set of characters like this to evolve like so, but it’s also important not to forget the original tale. Shelley’s Frankenstein is a gothic science fiction tale, rooted in the story of Prometheus and in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and concerning one Dr Frankenstein’s semi-accidental creation of a horrific monster. It’s really that simple, and in its simplicity, it is still a spectacular read.

The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

There may not be a more iconic Halloween tale at this point in history than The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow. Originally published nearly 200 years ago within a collection of essays by Washington Irving, the story concerns a town called sleepy hollow in the late 18th century. The town is plagued by haunted tales, including that of a deceased, headless Revolutionary War soldier who rides at night in search of his own head. It is this character among others that the protagonist, Ichabod Crane, is confronted by one night while attempting to win the hand of his love Katrina Van Tassel.

It by Stephen King

It has only recently turned into a sort of fresh cultural phenomenon. This is because of an ambitious film that came out in 2017, with past adaptations having failed to gain much significant traction. The film was a hit, so much so that its sequel is already in production. Naturally, this has also led to more and more people looking up the old Stephen King book and either re-reading or reading it for the first time.

The book follows a fairly simple setup: that of seven children in a small town who are haunted by a creature that is able to change itself into different forms to represent their greatest fears.

The creature is best known in the form of the sinister clown Pennywise but is ultimately one of the most dynamic and haunting villains in literature.

If you’re up for a very in-depth read (it’s an extremely long book, hence the multiple films) and some legitimate scares, look no further than this Stephen King classic.

What are your favourite scary stories for Halloween?

Review: Me & My Menopausal Vagina By Jane Lewis

As women, many of us suffer from annoying vaginal problems from time to time.  These seem to increase with age, culminating in a veritable cornucopia of symptoms by the time you arrive at your menopausal years.

vaginal atrophy - woman looking out to sea whilst standing on rocks

Having written previously about challenges with Vulvodynia and Bartholin’s Cysts, I have often written about the woeful state of gynaecological advice many women receive from their doctors.  This tends to range from “pull yourself together” to “it’s only to be expected at your age” and of course the one I am thinking of having printed on a t-shirt “stick a bit of cream on it”.

Imagine then the pain and distress of having to live with Vaginal Atrophy – think of it like extreme vaginal dryness which gives the sufferer pain that is hard to numb, hard to cope with and impossible to ignore.

Vaginal atrophy (atrophic vaginitis) is thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to your body having less estrogen.

Sex is agony, wearing knickers hurts and even walking causes discomfort.  For many women, vaginal atrophy not only makes intercourse painful, but it also leads to distressing urinary symptoms. It is not a problem many of us would feel comfortable talking about to our nearest and dearest, let alone to our wider social circle.

Like any chronic condition, the challenge is not just physical.  It is the mental dissolving of what was once a stalwart and happy constitution.  The questioning of how one small part of your body can come to literally rule your life.

It can feel as if there is nowhere to turn.  No answers.  No support. Just unending discomfort which nags you at every turn.

What a comfort and a relief, then, to find this marvellous book by Jane Lewis – “Me & My Menopausal Vagina”.  On first picking it up you might think that it will be a dry (if you’ll pardon the pun) read about this medical condition, but actually, it is an open, honest and quite a life-affirming read which pulls no punches and yet manages to offer hope at the same time.

Me & My Menopausal Vagina is one woman’s journey of menopause and vaginal atrophy. It was written in collaboration with her daughter, Penny, in a tongue-in-cheek way to help break taboos of vaginal atrophy

For a start, Jane talks you through the various nooks and crannies of your vagina.  You’ll think you’ll know what goes where, so to speak but can you be precise?  It’s important because if you can’t explain where your pain is, it will be more difficult to get the correct help and treatment.

Jane shares her experience of vaginal atrophy and talks about HRT and other treatments.  She acknowledges the effect that VA can have on your mental health and offers suggestions as to how to talk to your nearest and dearest about this condition.  There is also a very helpful chapter on maintaining some sort of sex life.

If you have vaginal atrophy the last thing you feel like doing is having sex but how guilty does that make a woman feel?  And how difficult is it to get your partner to understand that any pleasure has been replaced with painful burning, chafing and even bleeding?

Jane also shares her daily routine for minimising her discomfort and the products that have worked for her.  I have to say I have already discovered the fabulous Yes company with their range of organic vaginal moisturisers and lubricants and I heartily recommend you check them out.

It’s particularly important to understand vaginal atrophy so that we can help our daughters when they, in later life, may suffer the same problems. And of course, there is no reason why our sons shouldn’t be educated about VA so that they can offer support if needed.

One thing is certain.  Vaginal Atrophy needs to be talked about far more openly and long-term treatments need to be advanced.  As Jane says, topical oestrogen products like Ovestin tend to be prescribed on a short-term basis when they should really be offered on a longer basis.

Like me, Jane is conflicted about HRT although she mentions the famous piece of research which links HRT to an increased risk of breast cancer.  That research has, it appears, been largely discredited but the decision to take HRT is an incredibly personal one and the patient needs to weigh up the benefits against the risks. In Jane’s case, she felt that she could not not take it.  I am not quite there yet.

Me & My Menopausal Vagina reads like a chat with a good friend who tells it like it is and doesn’t pull any punches.  Jane says, openly and honestly, that she will always have this condition but much more needs to be done.

If you have started to notice discomfort or dryness down below then pick up this book.  Arm yourself with all the information and then go and see your GP.

You may be horrified to find how behind the times some of them are.  I recently asked about bio-identical HRT and the answer I got was “oh, I don’t really know about that.  You’ll need to go to a menopause clinic and the nearest one is Bristol”.  I’m in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Something really needs to be done because there must be thousands of us suffering and, as Jane says, what happens to all the older ladies in care homes or living on their own.  Many of them will still be suffering the effects of conditions like this.  Who is helping them?

Think of it like this.  If a man went to the doctor with a split, burning, bleeding penis, would he be told to put some cream on it and consult someone 40 miles away? Would he be told it’s just his age and one of those things?  Would he be told it’s all in his mind?


When you suffer from a chronic condition like Vaginal Atrophy (or Tinnitus or Fibromyalgia) – which seems to vanish to the back of the medical priority pile when it comes to diagnosis, there are some books you return to again and again for their wise words.  And because they give you comfort.

This is one of them.

You can find the book on Jane’s website mymenopausalvagina.co.uk or on Amazon.

You can also connect with Jane on Twitter @mymenopausalvag and Facebook @My Menopausal Vag.

The Best Pregnancy & New Mum Bibles I Swear By

When you’re pregnant, you’ve often plenty of time to research every aspect of pregnancy – and there’s LOADS of information out there. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be reading all the pregnancy and baby books you can get your hands on! Particularly if you’re an older mum too (anything over 35).

pregnancy and baby books - pregnancy woman reading on a yellow sofa

There are distinct schools of thought on the best way to bring up baby, from the controlled crying techniques of Gina Ford to the co-sleeping recommendations of James J. McKenna.

Pram or baby sling? Breastfeed or bottle feed? Cot or Moses basket? There are reams of information on every aspect of motherhood even down to what to put in your hospital bag.

You really need clear, concise information from a reputable source you can trust and these pregnancy and baby books became my bibles. I heartily recommend all of them.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff

This was the book I turned to every night and at every twinge.  Murkoff does not sugar-coat the information and points out what can go wrong as well as what is usually nothing to worry about. Don’t expect cuddly photos of newborns, but do expect practical, “does what it says on the tin” advice.

Pregnancy and baby books: cover of What to Expect When You're Expecting (4th edition)

The latest edition (the fourth) has been completely revised and updated.

“Heidi Murkoff has rewritten every section of the book, answering dozens of new questions and including loads of new asked-for material, such as a detailed week-by-week foetal development section in each of the monthly chapters, an expanded chapter on pre-conception, and a brand new one on carrying multiples.

The Fourth Edition incorporates the most recent developments in obstetrics and addresses the most current lifestyle trends (from tattooing and belly piercing to Botox and aromatherapy).

There’s more than ever on pregnancy matters practical (including an expanded section on workplace concerns), physical (with more symptoms, more solutions), emotional (advice on riding the mood roller coaster), nutritional (from low-carb to vegan, from junk food-dependent to caffeine-addicted), and sexual (what’s hot and what’s not in pregnant lovemaking), as well as much more support for that very important partner in parenting, the dad-to-be”.

Your New Pregnancy Bible – The Experts Guide To Pregnancy And Early Parenthood by Dr Anne Deans

On the other hand, if you want to spend, like I did, hours staring at pictures of developing babies so you can gauge how big your little one is at every stage of your pregnancy, this is the book for you.

Pregnancy and baby books: cover of Your New Pregnancy Bible by Dr Anne Deans

Far friendlier in tone than “What to Expect”,  it has clear explanations of the labour process and a great medical reference section. It gives added peace of mind because it was written by a team of eminent specialists under the direction of a leading UK obstetrician.

“….this latest edition of Your Pregnancy Bible has been updated to take account of recent changes in antenatal and newborn care and to provide a more comprehensive discussion of caesarean deliveries.

Given a fresh design, it still contains special fold-out sections on each of the trimesters and the birth process; week-by-week images of the developing baby; in-depth chapters dealing with all aspects of antenatal care, labour preparation, delivery experiences and care of the newborn; comprehensive reference sections on medical treatments and procedures in both pregnancy and the postnatal period and an extensive glossary of ante- and neonatal terminology”.

Secrets of the Baby Whisperer

When Caitlin was born I was completely clueless.  I hadn’t even put a nappy on a baby before.  And I certainly didn’t know anything about a day in the life of a baby.  For example, I had no idea that a newborn will need substantial naps during the day and will not be able to play for much more than 45 minutes at a time.

Pregnancy and baby books: cover of Secrets of The Baby Whisperer

It was with a huge sigh of relief that I stumbled upon Tracy Hogg’s wonderful Baby Whisperer books. Both this one and her problem solving guide (below) were invaluable in teaching me the importance of routines so that everyone in the family knows what is happening and where they are. Tracy sadly died in 2004 but her advice is still relevant today I think.

“In this remarkable parenting book, Tracy demystifies the magic she has performed with some five thousand babies. She teaches parents how to work out what kind of baby they have, what kind of mother and father they are, and what kind of parenting plan will work best for them.

Believing that babies need to become part of the family – rather than dominate it – she has developed a practical programme that works with infants as young as a day old. Her methods are also applauded by scientists: ‘Tracy’s is a voice that should be heard. She appears very knowledgeable about modern infant research and has incorporated this to a level parents can understand. In spite of all the baby how-tos on the market, this one will stand out.’

In case you’re wondering The Baby Whisperer method is often described as being in between crying it out methods and no tears methods. I liked it because Tracy does not advocate letting babies cry it out (unlike Gina Ford).

BUT she does not advocate “accidental parenting” which is where parents accidentally use props to get baby to sleep – like giving them a bottle, or rocking them, for example.

Several methods are given in the book to help parents teach their baby the all important sleep basics which includes a strictly structured routine (E.A.S.Y.) and the pick up put down (pu/pd) method for putting baby to bed.

E.A.S.Y. stands for Eating, Activity, Sleep and You and Tracy suggests timings for each activity according to the age of the baby.  The Pick Up, Put Down Method looks at how you put your baby to sleep in her cot and focuses on getting her to sleep alone.  Tracy suggests a “Four S” wind down ritual to set the scene (swaddling perhaps, sitting quietly, and shush-patting to help quieten your little one down). Even if you don’t adopt her ideas wholesale,  there are enough ideas in the book to help you work out what works for you and your baby.

The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems

The follow-on book to “Secrets Of The Baby Whisperer”, this one answers a whole host of questions from parents of babies at differing stages of development.


It focuses on the “Big Three” – sleep, feeding and behaviour from infancy to the age of 3 and explains Tracy’s philosophy and methods in much greater detail.  I think you really need both of these books to get the best out of the system.

Annabel Karmel’s The Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner

Once Caitlin started her weaning around 4 months and had got past the baby rice and simple apple puree stage, I became completely stuck on what to feed her.  Annabel Karmel’s books were fantastic at giving a range of ideas for simple purees and combinations to educate your child’s palette and to introduce a wide range of foods.

I think it’s no coincidence that Caitlin will now eat anything and is quite adventurous in her tastes (olives, for example).   By the time Ieuan came along, he had less of a range of purees and mini-meals and is far fussier with food than his sister.

You will need a good blender and a range of freezer-proof pots in varying sizes.

Annabel Karmel is undoubtedly the UK’s No.1 author on feeding babies and children and this particular book is the one I turned to time and time again.

It contains: “the best first foods to try, tasty recipes and ideas for introducing more complex flavours and textures; meal planners and time-saving menu charts allowing you to highlight and record which recipes your children liked and disliked. The original version of this book has sold over 4 million copies worldwide, with Annabel becoming a leading resource for parents who want to give their growing family tasty, wholesome meals that even the fussiest eaters will love”.

So there you have it – my bibles, the pregnancy and baby books now handed on to other expectant and new mums so that they can feel as comforted by them as I did.  I’d love to hear about the books that you turned to during your pregnancy or that you are finding helpful whilst you await the arrival of your little one.

Review: Caroline Hirons Skincare The Ultimate No-Nonsense Guide

I’ve had skin for 56 years but the briefest of flick-throughs of Caroline Hirons’ long-awaited skincare bible is all I need to convince me that things have, well, slipped – both literally and metaphorically.

Written in Caroline’s ballsy, take-no-prisoners style there’s everything here you could possibly want to know – whether its routines, skin concerns, product application, the right amount of SPF and how your diet affects your complexion.

You’ll find Caroline’s signature cheat sheets, simple tips and tricks to glow (inside and out!) understanding ingredients lists, and advice on how to choose the products that are right for you.

There’s no doubting that Hirons knows her stuff and it’s not surprising that she made the leap from blogger to bona-fide industry expert in a way that many of her rivals, frankly, have not. It’s hard to argue with over 100 million views of her blog and over 13 million views of her YouTube videos.

A globally qualified advanced aesthetician, Caroline Hirons is trained in (well) over 100 brands and has been in retail for 34 years, working as a consultant to brands in the beauty industry for over ten years, advising brands where they should be selling and why.

Authenticity is a popular ‘buzzword’ in blogging circles and Caroline delivers it in spades – whether expressing her loathing of wipes, her horror of not cleansing in the morning or expecting miracles from an expensive moisturising cream when you haven’t cleansed properly, you are left in no doubt that there is plenty more to be done for glowy skin.

I did wonder how accessible the book would be for those of us with mature skin, but I needn’t have worried.  Caroline offers you a step by step guide to addressing skin concerns at any age, as well as her Holy Grail products.

That said, Hirons is not elitist and understands that many of us can’t afford the stellar prices some of the products command.  Her motto is, to paraphrase, do your best, buy the best you can afford but for God’s sake TRY.

This skincare bible is a weighty tome split into colour-coded sections including:-

  • A good skincare routine
  • Skin types and conditions
  • When life happens (acne, hormones, pregnancy, chemo)
  • Your Kit (what to invest in)
  • Here’s the thing (industry insights you need to know)

There is a huge amount of information here, including a comprehensive glossary.

It’s the only skincare guide you need.

Caroline Hirons. Skincare The Ultimate No-Nonsense Guide is published by HarperCollins and is available on Amazon and at all good bookshops.

I am giving away one copy of Caroline Hirons Skincare to one lucky reader (hard copy or Kindle, winner’s choice).  Entry is via the Gleam Widget below and the usual terms and conditions apply which can be found on my giveaways page.  UK entrants only.  No cash alternative.   The giveaway ends at 23:59 pm on Friday 31 July.

Caroline Hirons Skincare Book


Good luck!


Great Children’s Books For Lockdown Reading

Whilst we’re all still stuck at home with our little ones, it’s a great opportunity to catch up with some reading.  In this post, you’ll find 10 great suggestions to keep your little ones entertained – and to hopefully help them keep up with their reading and English development whilst the schools are closed.  Heads up – this post does contain affiliate links which means I may receive a small payment to help run Mother Distracted.

All our family are avid readers – and I have to confess that my Amazon wishlist is currently of epic proportions.  Thankfully, Caitlin and Ieuan take after their parents and, once removed from the Wi-Fi, will happily delve into the pages of a book – albeit now they are into young adult and adult fiction (carefully vetted of course).  They are great late night readers too.  I am a firm believer that a book at bedtime helps you sleep.

Here are my suggestions for younger children:

Gaspard the Fox by Zeb Soanes and James Mayhew

Meet Gaspard the Fox as he sets out one summer evening in search of adventure and something to eat. This charming and humorous picture book celebrates urban foxes and their relationship with the humans and animals they share the city with. With stunning original illustrations by award-winning children’s book author James Mayhew, this is the first in a series of collaborations between Zeb and James following the adventures of Gaspard and his friends.

The Very Silly Dog by Nick Cope

Loved by listeners around the UK and internationally, children’s singer-songwriter Nick Cope’s work takes on a new form in this series of illustrated books, with original artwork from Nick and his son, Burt.

The Very Silly Dog begins with an inevitable mishap by its titular character, with some very amusing consequences…

Includes song lyrics and guitar chords at the back of the book for children and adults to play and sing along

Why is the sky blue? by Nick Cope

Why is the Sky Blue? is an entertaining take on the inquisitiveness of young children, featuring Joe and his dad and all the weird and wonderful questions Joe has about the world.

No I don’t wanna do that! by Nick Cope

No I Don t Wanna Do That is the story of young Joe, who, put off all the range of activities his mum suggests, would rather have fun at home instead. How endearing a choice this is, in the end, is really down to any parents reading!

Thimble Holiday Havoc by Jon Blake

Jams lives with his mum, dad and his best friend Thimble, a hugely clever monkey who isn’t exactly one of Dad’s biggest fans. (Don’t tell anyone what Thimble did with the superglue…) When Mum organises a house-swap holiday to France, what can possibly go wrong? Then Thimble and Dad find the keys to a speedboat, a drill and a makeshift burglar outfit…

Thimble Monkey Superstar by Jon Blake

Life is never boring now that Jams and his family have a monkey to look after. Jams and his mum love Thimble, but Dad is determined to get rid of him – to a zoo, a school, even a demolition site. But when Jams and his dad are in mortal danger, Thimble proves once and for all why he is a Monkey Superstar! Thimble is very clever and very naughty – and just the best friend Jams has been waiting for.

Steve and the singing pirates by Dan Anthony

Life is tough for nine-year-old Steve and no one understands him, least of all his family or his piano teacher. But when the call comes from the Library of Dreams Steve takes charge of the baton in an eighteenth-century sing-off complete with pirates, wigs and a rascally cut-throat edge. Second in the Steve’s Dreams series about lovable loser Steve.

Steve’s Dreams – Steve and the sabre-toothed tiger by Dan Anthony

It’s the summer holidays, but for nine-year-old Steve life in his home town is full of hidden menace. He believes he must protect his family from a dangerous, unpredictable world. But he can’t solve all the problems on his own. He’s just not quite big enough.

Alex Sparrow And The Furry Fury by Jennifer Killick

Catching the school’s runaway guinea pigs is not giving Alex job satisfaction, but how can he find a bigger test for his and Jess’s awkward superpowers? Jess is more worried about the bullied new boy, whose Mum runs the animal sanctuary. She volunteers at the sanctuary, but soon realises that something is very wrong; the animals are terrified. People report strange events: things missing, property destroyed, and the local squirrels have turned mean. The police have no suspects. It looks more and more like a job for Agent Alex…

Pete and the Five-a-Side Vampires by Malachy Doyle

Pete and his faithful companion, Blob, love to go wandering in the pitch-dark night, then stumble over a van-load of vampires… And end up at the most frightful fancy dress party ever!

There are plenty of other children’s favourites of course, David Walliams and Roald Dahl, for example, or why not consider some real children’s classics?

Happy reading!

Posts may contain affiliate links

Easy Dressing Up Ideas For World Book Day

Don’t panic.  It’s World Book Day on 5th March 2020 and the challenge is on to kit your child out as their favourite character from a book.

In case your imagination has run dry and you need inspiration, the following posts should give you plenty of budget-friendly ideas.

And don’t worry, if you’re a craft-duffer like I am, trust me you will be able to do one of these.

And if not, there’s always Smiffys, or Amazon (bad mum alert!).

Keep reading for plenty of useful suggestions and relevant links.


2020 celebrates the 23rd World Book Day, the aim of which is to encourage children in the UK and Ireland to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own.

Schools are being sent packs of Book Tokens and age-ranged World Book Day Resource Packs (age-ranged into Nursery/Pre-School, Primary and Secondary) full of ideas and activities, display material and more information about how to get involved in World Book Day.

World Book Day has its own really useful website with plenty of dressing up ideas which you can find here.

This year if you donate £1 to dress up and you can help change lives at the same time by helping Book Aid International.

You’ll find even more dressing up ideas on the Book Aid International website here.

Ieuan as Willy Wonka
Ieuan as Willy Wonka

30 last-minute World Book Day costume ideas that you can create at home without a needle and thread

Wales Online have put together some really useful ideas – and you could even re-use the costumes you doubtless had to cobble together for Roald Dahl Day.

World Book Day 2015: What To Wear – The Guardian

A useful collection of real-life costumes featuring photos parents have sent in to the Guardian’s photo gallery.

As you might expect, you’ll find some useful ideas on Netmums and Mumsnet.

If you live in the North East, ChronicleLive has 41 Inspiring World Book Day Costumes From Families in Newcastle and the North East.

More ideas from The Daily Post in North Wales in its piece “When is World Book Day 2017. Some Ideas And Find Out What Is Expected To Be This Year’s Best Seller”

Caitlin as Roald Dahl's Matilda
Caitlin as Matilda

More ideas from the Manchester Evening News and the Liverpool Echo and ChronicleLive’s “10 World Book Day Costume Ideas from Tesco, Asda and Sainsburys“.

This list may also help “15 Best Children’s Books Of All Time” from The Telegraph.

But are there any characters you shouldn’t dress your child up as?  I recently heard the story of a woman who sent her son to school dressed as serial killer Dexter and then there was the mum whose son’s favourite book was his Top Gear Annual – so she sent him in dressed as Jeremy Clarkson.

And on that bombshell……

Posts may contain affiliate links

Win “PR School Your Time To Shine” Book By Natalie Trice

Back in my marketing days, PR (Public Relations) was often viewed as a bit of a dark art.  It was all about connecting with the right people for the right reason at the right time – and that often involved a sizeable budget and a PR agency worth its salt.

As any experienced freelancer or blogger knows, you have to promote your business while working in your business – and that can be stressful, time-consuming and something that constantly gets put on the back burner.

But a new book by Natalie Trice throws light, literally and figuratively on the subject with her new book, “PR School:  Your Time To Shine – A Masterclass In Publicity For You And Your Business”.

Natalie has over 20 years of experience of working in the PR industry with some pretty heavyweight clients.  Her passion is to inspire and teach us to share our story and promote our business without losing the plot.

Natalie’s book is for you if you:-

  • are left out in the cold whilst your competitors are all over the press
  • are dying to tell your story but don’t want to be seen as bragging
  • want to work with influencers but don’t know where to start (*waves)
  • want to drive sales and raise your profile but are fed up shelling out for ads with no return

Let’s be honest – it’s tough out there at the moment and, given the current political chaos, even established businesses have their work cut out to stand above the crowd and be heard.

Author & PR Expert Natalie Trice

Natalie’s book teaches you how to plan your PR strategy and make it happen by being your own PR. Written in a breezy, down to earth style, you’ll love her practical advice – but be warned, there will be homework.  It is a PR School, after all.

PR School: Your Time to Shine includes:

  • Clear explanations of what PR is and how it can help businesses to thrive, and individuals to be seen as experts in their field
  • Creative exercises put learning into practice and results become tangible
  • Comments from experts, journalists, and influencers, give a real insight into the world of PR and how to get it right
  • An industry worthy resource centre for all things PR and business
  • Confidence boosting tips and ideas that will take readers out of their comfort zones and beyond their wildest self-promotion dreams

Natalie describes her book as “a business development adventure that helps readers to tell their stories in a powerful, convincing way so they can cut through the noise, make an impact and potentially change their lives as their sales increase and their profile is raised.

There are even expert comments on mindset, bravery and banishing imposter syndrome so that self-doubt and procrastination are left behind and an exciting new phase can begin in 2020.”

What a great way to start the new decade!

Natalie at her home in Devon

Find out more about one of the best books for PR 2020 at PR-school.co.uk and buy the book on Amazon.  Plus I have one copy of the book to give away.

Simply enter via the GLEAM widget in the usual way.  You’ll find terms and conditions on my giveaways page.

The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Tuesday 17th December.  UK entrants only.

PR School Your Time To Shine Book

Grab An Autumn Break & Chill Out With The Nation’s Favourite Books

Although there’s an autumnal nip in the air and you may be tempted to embrace all things Hygge and to dig out your favourite throws and cushions, September and October herald the time to grab a last minute sunshine holiday deal for many.

If you’ve spent the long summer school holiday wrestling with kids crafts, crumbs and crankiness, bribing the grandparents so you can get away somewhere warm is extremely tempting.  Just think of the blissful relaxation you’ll get on your sunlounger with a fully loaded Kindle or your favourite page-turner.

The people at Stena Line wanted to know which books were the UK and Ireland’s favourite so they asked over 1,000 people to tell them what their ultimate holiday reads were.

The results speak for themselves. While some are what you might expect, others are pretty surprising…how many have you read?

  1. The Harry Potter series
  2. The Bible
  3. 50 Shades of Grey
  4. The Lord of the Rings
  5. Stephen King’s It
  6. Catch 22
  7. The Hobbit
  8. A Song of Ice and Fire series 
  9. The Godfather
  10. War and Peace. 

Unsurprisingly, the eternally popular Harry Potter came out on top but The Bible in second place is a bit of a surprise – not least given the book at number 3 – 50 Shades of Grey. Both satire and horror make an appearance in the top 10, too, with Catch-22 at number six and the classic, It at number five. And although a book about the French invasion of Russia doesn’t first come to mind when you think of a relaxing holiday read, Tolstoy’s War and Peace came in at number 10.

There were some differences between men’s and women’s choices too:-

Women’s Top 5

  1. Harry Potter
  2. The Bible
  3. 50 Shades of Grey
  4. Lord of the Rings
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird

Men’s Top 5

  1. The Bible
  2. Harry Potter
  3. Lord of the Rings
  4. Stephen King’s It
  5. Catch 22

I’m not surprised that 50 Shades of Grey didn’t make it into the Men’s top 5, are you and I don’t know many men who take a copy of the Bible on holiday with them.  The husband is more likely to take something by Richard Dawkins!

All of these are great books though and I’ve not read quite a few of them.  Here’s a little more about each one.

10. War and Peace — Leo Tolstoy

You really wouldn’t think of this one as a typical beach read, would you?  Often claimed to be one of the greatest literary achievements in history, Leo Tolstoy’s epic anti-novel War and Peace chronicles the French invasion of Russia in the 19th century. Despite clocking in at over 1200 pages, it earned the tenth-highest number of votes from those surveyed.

9. The Godfather — Mario Puzo

The greatest crime epic ever put to the screen was originally a novel by Mario Puzo. Thanks to Puzo’s authentic insights into the world of the Mafia, the English-speaking world was introduced to Italian words like “consigliere” and “omertà”.

While it might be overshadowed by its film adaption, The Godfather remains a hit with Brits on holiday, with a tally of votes that puts it in ninth place on the list. Don Corleone would be proud.

8.  A Song of Ice and Fire series — George R. R. Martin

Game of Thrones might have been the world’s most-watched TV show in its original run, but it owes its success to the expansive book series that George R. R. Martin started two decades before HBO aired its first episode.

And while the legacy of the TV adaption might have been marred by a lacklustre final season, fans of A Song of Ice and Fire still hold onto hope that Martin can unravel those mistakes when he completes his masterwork.

Though certainly one of the best stories of recent years, A Song of Ice and Fire came in at an eighth place in the voting, eclipsed by an older — and arguably more enduring — fantasy series…

7. The Hobbit — J. R. R. Tolkien

The second author to have two ‘r’s as initials in his name is also the original. Tolkien enters the rankings at number seven with The Hobbit, a book he originally wrote for his children. Nevertheless, it remains beloved by children and adults alike thanks to its imagination and gripping plot.

As a lighter read than Tolkien’s other novels, it makes sense why The Hobbit would be so popular with those on holiday. It promises escapism without the comedowns of more serious works on this list — and remains a satisfying re-read again and again.

6. Catch-22 — Joseph Heller

Catch-22 is an odd book. Still, few have been quite as successful in taking a difficult subject — in this case, the Second World War — and creating a genuinely funny satire.

For that reason, Joseph Heller’s comedy about the trials and tribulations of U.S. airman Captain John Yossarian has a level of popularity among readers that seems only to increase with age. It’s been adapted several times into film and TV, including a recent outing produced by George Clooney.

5. It — Stephen King

The roaring success of Andy Muschietti’s film adaption might have something to with how well Stephen King’s It ranks in the list.

Though certainly not a short read (it’s over 1,100 pages long), King’s consistently gripping writing and fast-moving plotlines make It an iconic and irresistible read. Like The Shining and Pet Sematary, the disturbing story of Pennywise the Clown is one that readers feel drawn back to again and again. Voters put it just inside their top five.

4. The Lord of the Rings trilogy — J. R. R. Tolkien

Even before the films smashed box-office records and won more Academy Awards than you can count, J. R. R. Tolkien’s seminal book series was beloved by millions of readers around the world.

The epic story of Frodo’s journey to destroy the “one ring to rule them all” is as compelling as it is timeless, which accounts for why The Lord of the Rings comes high up in the list in fourth place.

The mature narrative, complex characters and — let’s face it — massive battle scenes make The Lord of the Rings a slightly more satisfying offering than The Hobbit. It’s one of the ultimate escapist novel series.

3. 50 Shades of Grey — E. L. James

Be honest — you were waiting to see if this one was on here. While it can’t quite compete with the world-building of The Lord of the Rings or the razor-sharp wit of Catch-2250 Shades of Grey offers a different kind of escapism for its readers. And while it’s hard to imagine anyone being so self-assured as to openly read it by the pool or in a cafe, there are clearly plenty of people who like to lose themselves in this adult fantasy from the comfort of their hotel rooms. E. L. James’s record-breaking erotic novel has dog-eared copies in many a suitcase today, winning itself a podium slot at third place in our list.

2. The Bible

In stark contrast to our last entry, The Bible lands in second place on our list of ultimate holiday reads. For religious holidaymakers, the time away from the hustle and bustle of life proves the perfect opportunity to reconnect with their faith.

And even for those who don’t have any religious belief, one thing’s for sure: no other book has had such a significant impact on Western literature on the whole.

From the reign of King David in the Old Testament to the teachings of Jesus in the New, the stories within its pages are referenced in thousands of books throughout history. For religious and non-religious people alike, The Bible is a must-read, and a hit with voters.

Yet despite such an expansive influence, there was one book series that even The Bible couldn’t compete with…

1. The Harry Potter series — J. K. Rowling

If you’re surprised that Harry Potter took the top spot in our poll, you’re in the minority. For anyone who’s ever looked at even the sales numbers from J. K. Rowling’s massively influential book series, the answer was clear from the start.

Since Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published in 1997, the Harry Potter series has sold roughly half a billion copies. Half a billion. And nowhere is it more popular than on when Brits finally get a chance to relax on the ferry abroad or on the sunny balcony of their hotel room.

Despite being initially aimed at children, the Harry Potter books matured along with its audience. Its gradually darker subject matter, clever plotting and — most importantly — its deeply sympathetic cast make Harry Potter a series that, perhaps more so than any other, demands to be revisited on a regular basis.

Which of these have you read?  What books do you think should have been on the list?

For me, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, George Elliot’s Middlemarch and Charles Dicken’s David Copperfield should be there.  But what about the works of Jane Austen, or Charlotte Bronte?

Let me know your favourites in the comments below.

Shades of Justice by Carolyn Arnold – Book Review


The line between good and evil isn’t always clear…

Detective Madison Knight has risked her badge—and her life—in the pursuit of justice before, and she just might need to do so again.

Two victims are found murdered and naked in the home of Steven Malone, who is the largest contributor to the Stiles PD. One victim is his wife.

The other victim is a John Doe. This high-profile double homicide immediately pits Madison against her sergeant, who seems more intent on protecting the Malones’ reputation and retaining a benefactor than catching a killer.

Madison will need to pull on her tenacity and courage if she’s going to follow the evidence without prejudice. In the process, it becomes clear that finding justice isn’t always black and white, and often the shades in between tell the fullest story—and it’s not something she will forget anytime soon.

Shades of Justice is a murder mystery with twists and turns that will have readers flipping the pages until the wee hours of the morning. The ninth instalment in an internationally bestselling series, it doesn’t matter if this is the first book you’re reading in the Detective Madison Knight series or not; all the books stand alone!

Buy this book now and join the investigation! Uncover clues, follow leads, and catch a killer like hundreds of thousands of readers in this series have done before you. Perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and JD Robb.

Available to buy from…… Amazon   Barnes & Noble    Kobo  GPlay Paperback

My Review

It’s been a while since I reconnoitred with Carolyn Arnold’s writing (see my review of the fabulous The Secret Of The Lost Pharaoh) but I found Shades of Justice featuring detective Madison Knight to be a real page-turner which works just as well as a stand-alone detective story as it does as part of the series.   

I love the procedural information that Arnold injects into her writing which makes you feel as if you are part of the investigative team.  This time, Madison and her partner Terry are trying to unravel the double murder of a furniture mogul’s wife and struggling to get the truth out of the bereaved family.  

Add to that Madison’s quest to unmask corrupt police officers in her department and you have a story worth of Line of Duty.  Will her quest for the truth put her life in danger yet again?

And why is Sergeant Winston doing everything he can to hamper Madison’s investigation?  Is the corruption a little too close to home?

The relationship between Madison and Terry is well-drawn and throws up the odd surprise when Terry starts to act out of character.  

Then there’s hunky Troy, Madison’s current love interest who is also acting rather oddly and clearly has something to hide.

Shades of Justice races to a satisfying finish and will leave you looking forward to the next instalment.  

Highly recommended.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM THE DETECTIVE MADISON KNIGHT SERIES Murder. Investigation. The pursuit of justice. Do you love trying to figure out whodunit? How about investigating alongside police detectives from the crime scene to the forensics lab and everywhere in between? Do you love a strong female lead? Then I invite you to meet Detective Madison Knight as she solves murders with her male partner, utilizing good old-fashioned investigative work aided by modern technology. This is the perfect book series for fans of Law & Order, CSI, Blue Bloods, Rizzoli & Isles, Women’s Murder Club, and Hawaii Five-O. Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning.

Read an excerpt

About the author

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international best-selling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™. Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower. She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers at http://carolynarnold.net/newsletters.

Find the author on the following sites… Website  Facebook Twitter  Pinterest Goodreads Amazon Author Page   Bookbub

Follow the Book Tour

I received this book through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.

Are you a book reviewer or book blogger? Join our book tours reviewers team – Apply Here x

Current book tours open for sign ups HERE


The Strongman And The Mermaid – Book Review

NEW RELEASE… The Strongman And The Mermaid
2019 Donora, Pennsylvania

Ninety-one-year-old Patryk Rusek hides in his attic, hoping the searchers think he’s escaped. When Lucy finally bursts in, she discovers her beloved grandfather clutching a fat, hand-illustrated, antique book. In it is the story of Donora, the town that shaped America, its people and Patryk himself. Before long, Lucy and her son Owen lose track of their goal to get Grandpa Patryk somewhere “safe” as they’re drawn into the book, back in time, into stories that read like real-life fairytales born of purpose, hard work, and chance.

1910 Donora, Pennsylvania

In the early dawn of Donora, Pennsylvania, the mills make and shape the steel that builds America. Mary Lancos lives in a home on the hill overlooking the town and its mighty Monongahela River. That tiny house bursts with her siblings and boarders. Wind whipping through the walls and windows makes Mary determined to marry well and create a better life.

Shy Pole, Lukasz Musial, arrives in Donora seeking the clear blue skies, green lawns, and better life he’d seen pictured on a postcard. Settled in Donora’s Polish community, Lukasz secures a coveted job in the wire mill. Life is set on course to achieve the American Dream. All he needs is a wife who believes in him, in his mighty, quiet, strength.

After a series of casual, friendly meetings, fate brings Mary and Lukasz to the river under a snowy, pink moonlit sky and everything changes. Their attraction is sudden and consuming, turning the pair onto an unexpected path. With mounting disapproval from Mary’s parents, she and Lukasz must decide if love is enough to risk losing everything else that matters.

Available to buy from the following sites…
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Paperback

“Kathleen Shoop has bejewelled this book with her magnificent imagination and impeccable writing. The Strongman and the Mermaid by Kathleen Shoop is a romance that goes beyond looks and settles deep into the souls of readers. Every so often, a love story comes that your heart can’t let go. One of those love stories, for me, has been Mr Darcy and Lizzy in Pride and Prejudice. Now Mary and Lukasz in The Strongman and the Mermaid will stay with me for a long time to come.”
— Ankita Shukla for Readers’ Favorite

“The Strongman and the Mermaid by Kathleen Shoop is a gorgeous story, a gripping romance with a strong setting. The plot structure is unusual and it has beautiful twists. I love stories with great characters and a well-developed conflict and I always want to see characters evolve through the conflict. It is something that this author does impeccably well. The narrative is emotionally rich…The writing is cinematic, punctuated by exciting dialogue. The Strongman and the Mermaid will keep you awake through the night.”
— Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite

“I was hooked from the very start…The Strong Man and the Mermaid is skillfully plotted and written in beautiful prose. The reader is pulled into a fairytale-like world with strong and memorable characters. The love adventure between Mary and Lukasz is one of the key elements that add to the entertaining potential of this narrative. Kathleen Shoop keeps it real and human, succeeding in creating an emotional connection between the reader and the characters.”
— Ruffina Oserio for Readers’ Favorite

The Donora Story Collection Book 1 – After the Fog

Historic, environmental drama wrapped in a love story…

It’s 1948 in the steel town of Donora, Pennsylvania, site of the infamous “killing smog.” Public health nurse, Rose Pavlesic, has risen above her orphaned upbringing and created a life that reflects everything she missed as a child. She’s even managed to keep her painful secrets hidden from her doting husband, loving children, and large extended family.

When a stagnant weather pattern traps poisonous mill gasses in the valley, neighbours grow sicker and Rose’s nursing obligations thrust her into conflict she never could have fathomed. Consequences from her past collide with her present life, making her once clear decisions as grey as the suffocating smog. As pressure mounts, Rose finds she’s not the only one harbouring lies. When the deadly fog finally clears, the loss of trust and faith leaves the Pavlesic family—and the whole town—splintered and shocked. With her new perspective, can Rose finally forgive herself and let her family’s healing begin?

***2013 Eric Hoffer Award Finalist***

***Independent Publisher Awards: 2012 Silver, Best Regional Fiction–Mid-Atlantic***

***National Indie Excellence Awards: 2012 WINNER– Literary Fiction***

“Shoop masterfully details familial struggles, secrets, and consequences that keep the reader riveted till the end.” – Melissa Foster

“A great and satisfying read. Rose’s triumph over adversity touched me deeply. Ms Shoop truly knows how to tug the heartstrings. S. K. McClafferty, author of The Ghost and Devlin Muir.” – S. K. McClafferty, author of The Ghost and Devlin Muir

“This is a well-written story set authentically in a historic place and time, around an intricate plot which includes most of the elements that provide for a good “soap opera,” or a book that would be accepted by Oprah Winfrey.” – Historical Novel Society

Available to buy from the following sites…
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Barnes and Noble  Kobo Paperback

About Kathleen Shoop

Bestselling author, Kathleen Shoop, holds a PhD in reading education and has more than 20 years of experience in the classroom. She writes historical fiction, women’s fiction and romance. Shoop’s novels have garnered various awards in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY), Eric Hoffer Book Awards, Indie Excellence Awards, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Readers’ Favorite and the San Francisco Book Festival. Kathleen has been featured in USA Today and the Writer’s Guide to 2013. Her work has appeared in The Tribune-Review, four Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Pittsburgh Parent magazine. Kathleen coordinates Mindful Writing Retreats and is a regular presenter at conferences for writers.

I adore writing historical fiction (The Letter series, After the Fog and Donora Stories) but am having a blast writing romance like Home Again, Return to Love and Tending Her Heart (Endless Love series). Thank you so much for the time you take to read.

Guest Review Of The Strongman And The Mermaid By Carly Wilson

‘Strongman And The Mermaid’ is the first book I have read by Kathleen Shoop, and I was given a copy in exchange for an honest review, so here it goes…

Firstly, the book title made me think this was going to a story about something entirely different to what it actually was about, but when I found it was a historical romance I was absolutely thrilled. I absolutely love reading this type of book, and it was exactly the type of story I look for.

Secondly, it was incredibly well-written, a clever concept and felt unique to me as a story.

You learn the story through the narration/perspective of Patryk, an elderly man who is discovered hiding in his attic protecting a book. When he is discovered by his granddaughter Lucy and her son Owen, they notice the book which enables you to learn the plot as Patryk reiterates the story to them. He tells them the story of Donora, and the main characters Mary and Lucasz.

The book makes a compelling read and has me hooked. I love that it was a story within a story for me and it had a very ‘old fairytale’/ ‘tale as old as time’ for me.

I personally have not read a book set in this era, or like this story, so it felt very unique and refreshing which I cannot praise enough as sometimes romances can feel very generic.

I love that Lucasz is a Polish man who has travelled to Denora in the hopes of forging a successful career and to ‘live out the dream’, and I was rooting for the characters to obtain their happily ever after.

The book is believable, beautifully written and poses the question as to whether ‘love is enough?’. Mary and Lucasz meeting is fate and their romance is utterly swoon worthy and sweet.

After reading this book, I am very much looking forward to reading more of Shoop’s work, and would happily recommend this book to other fellow historical romance lovers, or romance readers. It makes for a good read and you will not be disappointed.

Follow the author on the following sites…
Website Facebook Twitter Pinterest Goodreads Amazon Bookbub

Follow the tour

Are you a book reviewer or book blogger? Join our book tours reviewers team – Apply Here x

Current book tours open for sign ups HERE

Classic Children’s Stories For World Book Day

World Book Day is an annual awareness day which celebrates authors, illustrators, books and, a subject close to my heart, reading. In fact, it has been designated a worldwide celebration of reading by UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation).

The main aim of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children to explore the pleasure of reading by giving them the chance to have a book of their own. And to help with this, participating schools have been sent packs of book tokens and age-ranged World Book Day Resource Packs with lots of ideas, activities and display material.

When I learned to read, we had the old Janet & John books (“Look, Janet, the dog has the ball” – it’s ingrained now!) and fairy tales came in the form of the classic Ladybird books.

World Book Day has got me thinking about those books dear to my heart and that I’d want to talk about in school.

These are just some of them – and I’ve specifically listed the paperback versions because, much as I love my Kindle, it is never quite the same reading experience.

And I believe our kids have far too much ‘screen time’ as it is. On the other hand, of course, if you wanted to read these to your kids as a bedtime story, many fabulous children’s books are downloadable free of charge.

7 Children’s Classics For World Book Day

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Young Heidi goes to live with her grandfather in his lonely hut high in the Swiss Alps and she quickly learns to love her life there. Her strict aunt decides to send her away, back to the town. Heidi can’t bear being away from the mountains and is determined to return to her happy life with her grandfather.

Milly Molly Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley

These are stories of a little country girl, Milly-Molly-Mandy who lives in a tiny village in the heart of the countryside. She is a busy little bee, whether earning money to give a party, minding the village shop, having a picnic or going sledging. Despite the stories being nearly 80 years old, they are still enjoyed today.

What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge

Katy Carr is a tomboy who dreams of being “beautiful and beloved, and amiable as an angel”. Unfortunately, Katy is untidy and always getting into mischief. When a terrible accident threatens her grand plans for the future, she needs all her courage and humour to see her through.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Mary Lennox is sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle and everybody says she is the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. Pale, spoilt and quite contrary, Mary is also horribly lonely. One day she hears about a garden in the grounds of the Manor that has been kept locked and hidden for years. And when a friendly robin helps Mary find the key, she discovers the most magical Secret Garden.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

This is one of the best selling books of all time, selling over 50 million copies. Although ostensibly about animal welfare, it is really an allegory about how to treat people with kindness, sympathy and respect. Narrated by the horse, Black Beauty, each chapter tells of an incident in Black Beauty’s life and contains a lesson or moral.

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

Actually the second in The Faraway Tree series, this is about Joe, Beth and Frannie who find an enchanted wood on the doorstep of their new home. This is the start of many magical adventures with characters such as Moonface, Saucepan Man and Silky the fairy. Blyton is arguably the most famous children’s author of all time and her stories still sell thousands of copies every year.

The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Wind in the Willows is a children’s novel by Kenneth Grahame, first published in 1908. It is the story of kind, sleepy badger, brave and lively ratty and irresponsible Toad, together with the sinister weasels and stoats who capture Toad Hall when Mr Toad is in jail.  It is up to his friends to, as Ieuan (and Captain Adorable) would put it, save the day and save Toad Hall.

Incidentally, my mother used to say I drove my car like Mr Toad.  Hmmm.

Which children’s classics would you add to this list?

Posts may contain affiliate links

Dangerous Delays By Joyce T Strand – Book Review

NEW RELEASE… Dangerous Delays by Joyce T Strand

Finding a corpse buried with Native American artefacts wasn’t the first delay of the renovation Emily faced. But she was not prepared for what followed. A murder investigation, excavation to uncover more artefacts, and drug dealers looking for missing product further delay the mansion’s restoration into an iconic B&B. While facing these setbacks, Emily is also realizing her growing attraction to a local chef, a man who believes a relationship isn’t possible due to his commitment to care for his brain-injured brother.

Available to buy from……
Amazon Barnes and Noble Paperback

About Emily Lazzaro

Emily Lazzaro is the daughter of Wayne Lazzaro, the winemaker for the Hilltop Sunset winery in the previously published three Brynn Bancroft mysteries. She moved with her fiancé to Ramona, Calif., a rural community near San Diego, following graduation from college with a degree in hospitality. Her fiancé was eager to purchase a vineyard and develop a winery in the up and coming Ramona wine region, which suited Emily’s goals.

However, after moving to Ramona, it becomes apparent to Emily that she is not a good match for her fiancé. She discovers that he does not respect her opinions and insists on making decisions without her input. So she breaks off the engagement.

She decides to remain in Ramona despite her fiancé living there with his new vineyard. She appreciates the unique rocky terrain and proximity to the ocean and San Diego, along with the mixture of fine wineries, artists, and equestrian activities. She makes her living doing people’s taxes, and when Dangerous Changes opens, we discover she is looking to make a career change.

Also available:

Dangerous Changes (An Emily Lazzaro Mystery)

A series of events rattle Emily Lazzaro: a near-death encounter with a pickup on a narrow mountain road, the murder of a would-be client, and an ex-fiancé who won’t let go. Can she survive a police investigation, pressure from her ex’s company, and the suspicions of a possible new love-interest—so that she can make the changes to create a meaningful new life in a special town in southern California?

Available to buy from……
Amazon Barnes and Noble Paperback

My Review Of Dangerous Delays By Joyce T Strand

This is my second Joyce T. Strand mystery, the first being Overcast Sunset, one of the three Brynn Bancroft Mysteries.

All of her novels are inspired by actual events and/or real people, although they are definitely fictionalized.

I particularly enjoy Strand’s straight to the point explanations and her obvious knowledge of police procedure.  These give an added realism to her writing.

Dangerous Delays is an equally engrossing murder mystery where all the characters have something to hide and we are left guessing what is going to happen next with a sense of foreboding. Strand is adept at building the tension and creating an atmosphere of impending danger whilst teasing the reader with clues and plenty of red herrings.

When the body of a young woman is accidentally unearthed on the site of a b&b restoration in Ramona, she is thought to be of Native American descent.  But is she? Or is she a missing festival organiser?  What other secrets does the site have to reveal and who exactly is the dubious event planner who suddenly appears from the Mid West?

There are plenty of plot twists and a burgeoning romance for Emily with a will-they, won’t-they storyline to add a little more character development to the story but the main focus is the unearthed corpse and who is responsible.

I found Dangerous Delays to be gripping, highly enjoyable and I am looking forward to the next instalment.

Read more of my book reviews here.

About the Author

Joyce T. Strand is the author of contemporary and historical who-done-it mysteries. She is the author of the Jillian Hillcrest Mysteries, ON MESSAGE, OPEN MEETINGS, and FAIR DISCLOSURE; the Brynn Bancroft Mysteries, HILLTOP SUNSET, and LANDSCAPE FOR MURDER; the Emily Lazzaro Mysteries, DANGEROUS CHANGES, and the latest release DANGEROUS DELAYS; and a historical mystery, THE JUDGE’S STORY.

Much like Jillian, Joyce headed corporate communications at several biotech and high-tech companies in California’s Silicon Valley for more than 25 years. Unlike Jillian, however, she did not encounter murder in her career. She focused on writing by-lined articles, press releases, white papers, and brochures to publicize her companies.

Joyce has been a mystery fan since she read her first Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy stories as a teenager. She has always enjoyed the challenge of following clues to solve a mystery before it is revealed. Therefore Joyce relished the transition from writing press releases to writing fiction.

Today she writes and publishes a blog (http://strandssimplytips.blogspot.com), contributes articles to a regional wine magazine, and continues to pen mysteries. She lives with her two cats and her collection of cow statuary in Southern California near San Diego. She enjoys seeing Broadway musicals, eating at gourmet restaurants, and tasting fine wine—in addition to reading mysteries, of course.

Joyce received her PhD from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C. specializing in international relations and her B.A. from Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA specializing in political science.

Find the author on the following sites…
Website Blog Facebook Twitter Pinterest  Goodreads Amazon Author Page

Follow the Book Tour

I received this book through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.

Are you a book reviewer or book blogger? Join our book tours reviewers team – Apply Here x

Current book tours open for sign ups HERE