#Article by Lou – Celebrating Authors – Fern Britton @Fern_Britton #HarperCollinsUK @fictionpubteam #CelebratingAuthors #ContemporaryFiction #LiteraryFiction #RomanticFiction #HistoricalFiction #TV #ReadingCommunity #WritingCommunity #CelebratingAuthors

Celebrating Authors – Fern Britton
 By Louise – Lou

As part of my blog in 2023 until it reaches 5 years old in September, I will be celebrating an author or publisher every so often. Join me as I celebrate works of Fern Britton in this part of my series of blog posts. Find a short article and a bit about a couple of her books and links below.

A handful of books by Fern Britton

Fern Britton is a well-known TV presenter and author. She has successfully published over 15 books – stand-alone books, novellas and non-fiction over many years and at least one was a Quick Reads book in the Reading Agency scheme. She is also known for her tv presenting on programmes such as Ready Steady Cook, This Morning, Watercolour Challenge (rebooted), My Cornwall and many more.

I’ve read a number of books by Fern Britton, most pre-blog, so one day I will write reviews of more as I highly recommend her; but whilst writing my blog, I have had amazing opportunities such as to review her books and during lockdown, be part of a small group of people on Zoom to interview her in a Q&A set up by her publisher, all of which you can find in the links below in this short article. I was fortunate enough to attend an in-person talk at Good HouseKeeping magazine a couple of years later where she talked warmly and intelligently about The Good Servant as well as candidly about her life, including gardening. She also gave people opportunity to have a signed book and to meet her, which was fortunate for me as her kindness has been beyond and I like to thank people in person. I highly recommended her books, tv programmes and her talks.

Fern Britton’s tv programmes are inspiring, interesting and warm. Anything she touches, her passion and genuine curiosity oozes, pulling in her audience. It’s a great skill and no mean feat, considering the amount of programmes made on many channels.
Her books are excellent for curling up with for all year round reading with your favourite snack and drink, whatever the weather. They are evocative and compelling, whether it is romantic fiction, such as A Seaside Affair or historical such as The Good Servant. She has the mystique in her writing to enthral and enchant as she envelopes the reader in the scenery and gives them a clear window into many characters lives. She also has the ability to use facts as a base and fictionalise a story just enough to steer away from it becoming non-fiction as she has in Daughters of Cornwall and The Good Servant.

Daughters of Cornwall is fiction, but was inspired by her own family. It’s a fascinating story across the generations, taking in 1918, 1939 and 2020. It truly is a compelling read with bloodlines and secrets from start to finish.

Within the link for the blurb and full review, you will also find a write-up of the Q&A and about the online book launch. Daughters of Cornwall

The Good Servant is a fictional story based on fact about Marion Crawford (Crawfie) is a young Scottish woman who becomes a governess to two princesses – Princess Margaret and the princess who became our queen – Queen Elizabeth II. It is a thoughtful, interesting book that now holds a deeper poignancy than ever before.
There are twists and motives uncovered and a sense of duty revealed in this engaging read.

Find out more about the fascinating, well researched book in the blurb and review within the link. The Good Servant


#Review By Lou of. Awakening By David Munro – part of #AdventuresInTime Series #DavidMunro #Awakening #Fantasy #TimeTravel #Nostalgia

By David Munro

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Thanks to David Munro for inviting me to review Awakening – Book 3 of Adventures In Time. It’s entertaining with a dose of nostalgia and sadness. There’s a lot of good reading to be had in this novella. Check out he blurb and review below.


James Carsell-Brown is a time traveller. He finds himself in 2014 where he meets an attractive lady. Unknown to him, she is the ghost of a young woman who took her own life in 1916. By fate, James is thrown back in time to before the gruesome act occurred and begins to investigate. Can he prevent the suicide? Is time on his sideor his enemy?


Meet Charlie  Carsell-Brown. It’s Saturday, 1967 and a beautiful summer’s day with a great dose of nostalgia of sweets, comics, tv and films. It doesn’t shy away from the issues, that have had consequences today, such as Dr. Beeching and his massive reduction in railway routes. If you weren’t around then, it is an entertaining education.

Charlie has plans to go on his travels – heading to Glasgow, then further north to Crianlarich to Inveraray and onto Ardrishaig. The book also takes readers to Edinburgh.

Then readers will meet 8 year old James, who is rather lost, but meets Rosalind and Edward, which becomes full of intrigue as a mysterious coach house also comes into the fore, where adventures occur. The cemetery is particularly fascinating, where a woman haunts it…

The book as a whole is full of nostalgia, but not all through rose-tinted glasses. It has the good and the bad, some of which is still felt today. It is a journey through popular culture, time travel and a slight political edge here and there. The people you meet along the way and the places you go are of interest.

The ending is strong and powerful and in someways, thought-provoking.


#Celebrating #Author Joanne Harris @Joannechocolat @BHHillustration @orionbooks @Gollancz @Leanne_Oliver1 @alexxlayt #CelebratingAuthorsSeries

Celebrating Joanne Harris

As part of my blog in 2023, until it reaches 5 years old in September, I will be celebrating an author or publisher every so often. Join me as I celebrate works of Joanne Harris. Here, after a little about her, are some links to some reviews of books I’ve read whilst writing a blog.

Joanne Harris has written over 25 books, features in many anthologies, has audiobooks, game scripts, the libretti for two short operas, several screenplays, a stage musical, attends book festivals and comic cons, judges competition, holds doctorates to universities, is a member of The Storytime Band and is the current Chair of Society of Authors. She has a great website you can browse here: Website

I have been reading books by Joanne Harris across 2 decades and always been impressed by the calibre of writing and ability to tell so many stories in different genres. She also gives author talks at book festivals, which are always fascinating and it is always an absolute pleasure to meet her.
Below is a photo of the books I own. It’s a mixture of books I have bought, been given as a present from family members and those gifted by her publishers – Orion Books and Gollancz. Also, discover what her new book at the end of this blog post… I have not got it yet, but it’s exciting to see that cover…

Joanne Harris has something for everyone. The genres span across cookery books, gothic contemporary fiction, romantic fiction, historical fiction psychological thrillers, short stories, folklore/fantasy each with compelling plots with human nature, community and issues of the day in many universal themes. The range in-which she writes in is impressive and admirable to say the least, each with much to explore in setting, characterisation and plot in general. There is that je-ne-sais-quoi in every single book that makes them compelling and terribly hard to put down, once opened, from the first to the last page.

Her stories don’t only stop at book or audiobook form, she also writes some short stories on her Twitter account (where she also talks about her shed in the most imaginative ways possible, a series of ten things that often consists of useful tips and advice on writing etc, amongst other things). She formed a band called the Storytime Band. I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing the Storytime band, but it sounds great and another medium of her telling stories. The band consists of Paul Marshall: Keyboards, guitar, vocals, Kevin Harris: Drums, percussion, vocals. Duncan Parsons : Bass, effects, Joanne Harris: Flute,  vocals.

As you meander down, I have included links to some reviews I wrote on my blog, they are by no means all the books I’ve ever read by Joanne Harris, but those I read and reviewed from the time I began my blog to the time of writing this blog post. 

The Strawberry Thief is part of the Chocolat series. The order of which is: Chocolat, The Lollipop Shoes, Peaches for Monsieur Le Curè, The Strawberry Thief.
A series set in rural France, follows Vianne and her daughter, Anouk and later her other daughter Rosette. The series is a feast to the senses and a delightful look into society. It shows certain traditions and attitudes to newcomers, new ideas, different perspectives. There’s a traditional small community feel, friendships forged and naysayers gained and much to win over. The series sees the family’s journey evolve when they go to Paris in The Lollipop Shoes and eventually they return to small town life in Lansquenette-Sous-Tannes in The Strawberry Thief. There’s much imagery in the series. There’s a sense of certain things staying the same , such as Roux staying on his boat, where readers meet him in Chocolat and it is lent again, but there is also change in the air. People mellow and also grow up. There is now Rosette, who is known as Vianne’s “special child”, who is now one of the main focuses in what is another delightful book.
I have my full review of The Strawberry Thief, which I remember racing to buy, including the blurb in the link: The Strawberry Thief

A Narrow Door is part of her Psychological Thriller series – BlueEyedBoy, Gentlemen and Players, Different Class, A Narrow Door.

The series follow the characters in an all boys grammar school – St. Oswalds, in England. Every book is immersive and twisty. They all give great insight into the world of a boys grammar school. BlueEyed Boy also has music you can look up to accompany each chapter. As well as school life, it also shows the online world. Gentlemen and Players and Different Class takes you further into St. Oswalds, Roy Straitley and the pupils. As you delve further, you reveal more about the personalities of the characters and how everyone has a story to tell or is part of a story. A Narrow Door however shows a changing of times. A new headmaster – Rebecca Buckfast, but some of the staff such as Mr Straitley is the same and he has his followers in who are dubbed as “The Brodie Boys”. It is a powerful book of strong female character and it tackles patriarchy, but also within this comes a wonderfully sinister, complex and twisty psychological thriller.
Each of the books in the series are beautifully written.
Find out the blurb and my full review in the link: A Narrow Door
Joanne Harris also appeared at Bloody Scotland as part of her book tour with A Narrow Door. Here is the link to the blog tour I took part in for Bloody Scotland championing her: Bloody Scotland

The Blue Salt Road is a modern fairy story and yet also takes on The Child Ballads. Although there are a few – A Pocketful of Crows, The. Blue Salt Road, Orfeia, Honeycomb they are standalone. She writes these as Joanne M. Harris. They are mythical and fantastical with strong themes and storytelling.
The Blue Salt Road tells the story a Selkie, The Folk (humans) and the Kraken. There is however, 1 named human.
It is thought provoking about the natural world. It is emotional, romanticises nothing. There are gorgeous illustrations by Bonnie M. Hawkins.The drawings are expressive in this and Orfeia and perfectly illustrate and add to the mystique and emotions of the intriguing books that certainly piqued my curiosity and then grabbed me.
Check out the blurb and my full review in the link: Blue Salt Road

ORFEIA takes on another Child Ballad. It tackles grief and incredibly well. Queen of May had fallen in love with a man from the Folk and sacrificed a lot, so the tale goes. The grief of the loss of a child hits right to your soul. There is also the intriguing character of The Shadow Man. There are also atmosphere changes as there are jovial moments. It’s a richly, tightly woven story that also brings hope. It is again with more marvellous and dark drawings from Bonnie M. Hawkins. Find out the blurb and full review in the link: ORFEIA

Honeycomb is just one of the short story books Joanne Harris has written. Jigs and Reels and A Cat, A Hat, A Piece of String are others with some humorous tales to tell as well as emotional and rather serious ones. There are a couple of witty recurring characters.
Honeycomb – for this particular copy has a rather beautiful tactile material cover. It is enchanting book of 100 short stories. They are full of betrayal, gifts, magic, love, beautiful illustrations, this time by Charles Vess.
The book invites you listen to the tales of the bees, each one loosely interconnecting and overarching. Readers have a treat in relatable stories and with characters such as the Honeycomb Queen and the Lacewing King, a Chancellor, a Teacher, the Slightless Folk and the Silken Folk, Death and more…

The book is compelling as well as well as thought-provoking. They may be mythical fairytales, but each makes relatable points and doesn’t steer too far away from the world as we know it as it’s a very grounded book.
Discover the blurb and full review in the link: Honeycomb

Coming in May 2023
Broken Light

#Interview #QandA By Lou with #author of Conveniently Married To A Laird By Jeanine Englert @JeanineWrites @HarlequinBooks @MillsandBoon @rararesources #RomanticFiction #HistoricalRomance #HistoricalFiction

Conveniently Married To A Laird
By Jeanine Englert
Interview/Q&A conducted by Louise (Lou) Bookmarks and Stages blog

Today I have the great pleasure to share with you, an interview with the author of Conveniently Married To A Laird – Jeanine Englert, published by Harlequin, Mills & Boon as part of the blog tour by Rachel Random Tours. Discover more about Jeanine Englert’s inspiration and more as I probe into the darker themes, history and characters within Conveniently Wed to the Laird. Find out why book she is reading, one is which I reviewed and enjoyed… First, take a look the romance oozing from the cover. Discover if all will be as it seems in the eye-catching blurb (no spoilers though). Then, you’ll be all ready for the fascinating interview I have conducted and have ready to present to you, just after the short blurb.

Conveniently Wed to the Laird

The laird’s bridal bid…

Is love too high a price to pay?

When new laird, Ewan Stewart, comes across a wife for sale at a market, he outbids everyone to rescue her. He never intended for Catriona to become his bride, but a convenient marriage could secure his clan’s future and her freedom. They agree that their arrangement must stay free of love, yet Catriona’s bravery and fire intrigue him. Can Ewan resist falling for his wife—the one rule he must not break?

Without further ado, onto the interview.

    1.  Who or what inspired you to write?

I have been writing since I was 8 years old. It was mostly poetry until I went to get my master’s degree in writing that I expanded into short stories and later novels. My first novel took me 11 years to complete and will never see the light of day, as it is horrendous. To quote Karina Gioertz: “I write because in the end it’s the only thing I don’t know how not to do.”

  1. What inspired you to write Historical Romance and set it in Scotland, showing not only a bit of the class system, but also the selling of people, in this case, a wife in the Grassmarket, whom you have Ewan Stewart coming across and how and where did you research this?

I have always loved reading historical romance. Some of my early favourite historical romance authors were Jude Deveraux, Julie Garwood, and Judith McNaught.

I fell in love with Scotland when I studied abroad in England for a semester when I was in college. One weekend in late November, we took a train to Inverness and stayed the weekend. It was a magical experience that I often draw upon when I write my books set in the Highlands.

Much of my research is done from reading books, finding historical articles or letters online, exploring maps, as well as watching modern day videos on YouTube of the places my books are set in since I can’t visit. Having digital access to so many historical documents online has really helped my process.

  1. Conveniently Wed to A Laird is darker than the title suggests, with flashbacks of losing a loved one and references to abuse from a previous husband and foster parent, how did that feel writing about such deep, dark topics and did you do anything after writing them to be in the next moment of your life outside writing?

I think I am naturally drawn to write about these topics based on my original desire and hope to be a social worker and the experiences I had during internships working with survivors of abuse. I suppose I don’t even think of them as dark or deep, but merely part of our society.

I also tend to write in the early hours of the morning before I go to work, so it is quite easy to jump back into my day. As a teacher, I am always busy, on the move, and in the moment when I am at school.

  1. The characters Ewan Stewart and Catriona marry out of convenience to save the Stewart clan, before their romance evolves. Do you think this was commonplace and what inspired you to take this particular angle?

Marriage of convenience is such a uniquely historical trope that I am often drawn to it. The idea of marrying someone out of necessity or convenience rather than love has always interested me. And while I don’t think such marriages were entirely commonplace at the time, I do believe they were at times necessary for both parties involved. I also believe it served Ewan and Catriona’s characters well as they were both disappointed by their past experiences with love and reluctant to the idea of marriage.

  1. What’s next for you, in terms of writing?

I’m currently editing book 1 in The Secrets of Clan Cameron series for Harlequin/Mills & Boon which is titled A Laird without a Past. It will be out in late July of 2023. I am also starting to draft book 2 in that same series.

  1. Are you reading anything at the moment and if so, what?

I just finished Lenora Worth’s Deadly Holiday Reunion as I always love a good suspense, and I’ll be starting The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston next.


#BookReview By Lou of Earthman By David Munro #DavidMunro #Earthman #HistoricalFiction #1960s #SciFi #RomanticFiction

By David Munro

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Earthman By David Munro is a cross between science fiction and historical fiction with a touch of romance. Set in the 1960s, it is an intriguing book of adventure and perilous times. Discover the blurb and my review below. Thanks first to David Munro for asking me to review. He’s written several books, including Georgina, a historical fiction book. Earth man is published today- Monday 16th January 2023.


EARTHMAN is set in 1962 and a time when the Cold War was at its height. in October of that year, America and Russia were about to unleash a nuclear holocaust on the planet and civilisation held its breath.
The story begins in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands. A stranger with an American accent appears from nowhere and interest amongst locals heighten. He is befriended by a young woman who takes a shine to him. She has graduated from university and seeks adventure. Being stifled in a rural highland village is suffocating her. When she learns about the stranger’s identity and a mission he has to complete, Emily accompanies Jack Brewster on an adventure. It is the opportunity she has been waiting for.
The story has a mysterious slant and a sub-plot which involve an alien race. The avoidance of a nuclear war between the super-powers in the story is a strong possibility.


As Russia unleashes its Might now, it unleashed its strength in 1962, the year of The Cold War and not even remote Scottish villages up in the Highlands were immune for the worry of what might happen next…
This is where the book is historical fiction as it recounts that very real threat on the world. 

Jack, the main protagonist, is where some of the science fiction lies. He has other problems of his own, trying to get his story of being abducted by aliens believed. He just knows that the President of the USA needs to be alerted to the danger the world is in. But then historical fiction, sci-fi and romantic fiction all collide and merge and meld together.

The book begins in Plockton, a village in the Highlands of Scotland. It seems all idyllic with the loch as part of its scenery and the local chit-chat as people go about their daily lives. Not all is quite well as there’s been a theft in the village. Emily lives in Plockton and is bored of small village life and feels it closing in, near to the point of suffocation. She wants to live more and add more to her life experiences. She and others are ready to leave because they’re not going to get what they seek in the Scottish Highlands. She is in need of adventure and that is provided, when she meets Jack Brewster, who has the wildest story ever to be told. The difference in culture is also stark as they learn about each other. At first he lies to her and she can see right through him, which makes her even more curious about him. She does find out more about Jack and the mission he knows he needs to embark on. It’s all too enticing for Emily. It is of course her ticket out of her current predicament. Within here lies adventure and a touch of romance.

The book is has a fast-paced narrative that carries that sense of immediacy and tension as the plot builds within the political situation and a space race. It is a bit surreal in parts, but worth sticking with as this is far from full-on Sci-fi. It is an intriguing book with a human who has great insight and some strange experiences. He has a device that can see into the future, securing his insights , the question is, will he be believed and complete his mission? 


#Review By Lou – New Neighbours of Coronation Close – Book 1 of a new series by Lizzie Lane – Happy Publication Day @baywriterallat1 @BoldwoodBooks #HistoricalSaga #FamilySaga

New Neighbours of Coronation Close
By Lizzie Lane

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fans of Lizzie Lane will be delighted to know that today is the publication of book 1 of a brand new historical saga series introducing readers to the people who reside in Coronation Close, set in 1936. See the blurb below and then my review. Thanks first to Boldwood Books for the review copy.

The start of BRAND NEW SERIES from bestselling author of ‘The Tobacco Girls’ Jenny Crawford has resigned herself to a loveless marriage living hand to mouth with their two children. Like many others, husband Roy struggles to find work at the docks but a chance encounter turns the family’s fortunes around.Not only does he get regular work but they are also allocated a council house on Coronation Close on the outskirts of the city. Jenny and the children are overjoyed, this is the fresh start she could only ever dream of. But trouble feels never too far away. With Roy spending more time with Sir Oswald Molsey bullying black shirts, Jenny is left to her own devices and eager to fit in begins to make new friends.Thankful of peace, Jenny has her head turned firstly by an old love and then by her knight in shining armour.Does she allow herself to glimpse a chance of happiness?Whatever happens the consequences could be dire if Roy ever finds out. 

New Neighbours of Coronation Close is set in an interesting time in history. Set in 1936, the Molsey’s, in particular, Sir Oswald Molesy is making his mark and his views known (as is Hitler overseas, taking a firmer grip and making his views known ever more prominently); the monarchy is changing as a King is dead, which is where the book begins and the next in line is ascending onto the throne. It captures many moments of history, which puts events into context in amongst what was happening in the wider society. It’s pretty dark at times, as history shows us, but also hopeful as you root for a better life for Jenny.

Coronation Close is where Jenny Crawford and her husband Roy move to. It’s in the suburbs and secured because of Roy’s interest in politics, not just anyone’s politics, but he gets very close to Sir Oswald Mosley’s brand of politics. Life, just because they have a better council house now, is far from cosy. Roy has a temper on him and everything changed once he stuck a ring on her finger. There were money troubles as Roy and life around the docks, searching for work was difficult, prior to him meeting Sir Oswald Mosley. Roy becomes increasingly interested in him and spends vast amounts of time with him and seemingly changing their luck around; giving Jenny time to wonder if she can changer her life from one where she feels tied to the shackles of a loveless marriage to daring to set her sights to something happier.

It gives insight into a different period of time, when things were changing politically and yet domestically, whether you were an average person or monarchy, certain things were the same in certain attitudes and ways of having to be seen as doing what was considered the respectable thing to do above all else as there are consequences, no matter who you are and not always good ones. The question is, will Jenny, upon meeting an old lover, choose to change her life and do something considered radical for the times or will she remain with Roy? What of the monarch too?

It is certainly a book worth checking out.