Richard Wilbur – Poet Laureate

Such a sad passing – a great talent lost. Reblogged from books and opinions

Source: Richard Wilbur – Poet Laureate


Book Review: Ours is the Winter by Laurie Ellingham

ours is the winter

The weather outside is frightful, and the fire is so delightful…

I come to you from the sofa of my home, sleeping dog nearby, heating on – ready to brave the cold for my sons’ harvest festival concert this afternoon and I have just finished this beauty.


Journeying across the Arctic, their pasts are about to catch up with them.

Erica, Molly and Noah are embarking on the challenge of a lifetime, driving Siberian huskies across the frozen wilderness of the Arctic. Cut off from the world and their loved ones and thrown together under gruelling conditions, it isn’t long before the cracks start to show.

Erica has it all. A loving husband, a successful career and the most adorable baby daughter. But Erica has been living a double life, and as she nears her fortieth birthday her lies threaten to come crashing down.

Molly was on her way to stardom. But when her brother died, so did her dreams of becoming an Olympic champion. Consumed by rage and grief, she has shut out everyone around her, but now she’s about to learn that comfort can come from the most unexpected places.

Noah has a darkness inside him and is hounded by nightmares from his past. Tortured, trapped and struggling to save his fractured relationship, he knows this journey is not going to help, but try telling his girlfriend that.

As their lives and lies become ever more entwined, it becomes clear that in the frozen wilds there is nowhere to hide.


You had me at huskies. Seriously, as a dog lover, my heart melted at the cover alone. Isn’t it gorgeous? This is the first book I have had the chance to read from this author, and I was lucky enough to get an early copy.
Ellingham writes beautifully, and her characters are engaging and very human. I love how she sets the scene. Before they embark on their arctic adventure, she gives the background to each character, so before you set foot in the snow, you feel as though you already know them and their struggles. The trip is much more than a once in a lifetime opportunity, for each of them they are going on a journey to deal with problems in their lives and trying to find a way forward, to move on. The description of the setting is so vivid I felt like I was there at times, and the setting is a genius metaphor and very unique in the market. This book was a joy to read, and stays with you long after the last page. Ellingham is now an ‘auto buy’ author on my list. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.
Big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC.

This is an amazing book and is currently available on pre-order – Out on November 17th – grab your copy now, curl up with a hot drink and travel to the Northern Lights from the comfort of your blanket fort……

Blog Tour: Christmas at the Gin Shack by Catherine Miller

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Welcome in the festive season with love, laughter and the perfect G&T in Christmas at the Gin Shack – the most uplifting holiday read of 2017!
Gingle bells, gingle bells, gingle all the way…
Olive Turner might have lived through eighty-four Christmases, but she’ll never get bored of her favourite time of year. And this one’s set to be extra-special. It’s the Gin Shack’s first Christmas – and there’s a gin-themed weekend and a cocktail competition on the cards!
But, beneath the dazzle of fairy lights and the delicious scent of mince-pies, Olive smells a rat. From trespassers in her beloved beach hut to a very unfunny joke played on her friends, it seems that someone is missing a dose of good cheer.
Olive knows she’s getting on a bit – but is she really imagining that someone in the little seaside town is out to steal Christmas? More importantly, can she create the perfect gin cocktail before Christmas Eve – in time to save the day?
Purchase on Amazon UK | Amazon US | Kobo

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My Review

When I first heard about fellow HQ author Catherine Miller’s Gin Shack book, I loved the idea. I think that books featuring characters of the more mature age are sadly lacking or a bit stereotypical, but octogenarian Olive is none of those things! Now she is back and it’s Christmas time. Olive has plenty to keep her occupied with unseen forces at work, and worrying about her loved ones. I adored Olive, and this book is a beautiful mix of fun, frolics and the worries and perils of growing old and caring about people. The mother son relationship was very engaging, and Olive is one of the best characters I have read in a long time. Would love to see a third book in this series! Every G & T needs an Olive 🙂

Catherine has a beautiful Christmas tale here and the sense of community, family and living life to the full. I would highly recommend both books in the series – they do follow on from each other but each can be read as a standalone too. Now excuse me, I have a sudden craving for a mince pie gin cocktail….

Cath Miller
Author Bio
When Catherine Miller became a mum to twins, she decided her hands weren’t full enough so wrote a novel with every spare moment she managed to find. By the time the twins were two, Catherine had a two-book deal with HQDigital UK. There is a possibility she has aged remarkably in that time. Her debut novel, Waiting For You, came out in March 2016. She is now the author of four books and hopes there will be many more now her twins have started school. Either that, or she’ll conduct more gin research on Olive’s behalf.

To connect and follow with the author, please see her details below


Operation Helen Phifer: Halloween



Halloween is coming – as you can see, the kids love it! We all dress up (Oliver the dog has even got a vampire cloak – hubs was not amused). I have seen It, I have the candy and the decorations, we have days out I need the fear!


I have set myself a challenge – from 25th October till 31st October I am going to only read Helen Phifer’s books – not heard of her? Oh I think you have. Or you should have. Need a refresher?

ghost housesecrets of the shadows

No, still relaxed? What about this one?

scary clown

Ah, there you go! Now, don’t be silly, it’s just a book cover. No, don’t scream. No, put down that rolling pin! I have been a fan of Helen’s since I read her first book and since then I have bought EVERY book and….not read them. Why? Life, dear blog, life. Annoying deadlines, sleep, work, children that need feeding, washing to be done.

Now, I hate autumn, and winter. Yes, the leaves, the sunsets, pumpkin spice latte, blah blah blah. I am grumpy till Halloween comes, then I bloomin’ love it. This mild mannered teacher and romance author has a dark side, peeps and Helen Phifer feeds it with her books. And also scares the bejesus out of me.


The challenge is on people, 25th October I dive in. Remember me fondly….join me if you dare…

Big News from author Peter Jones! (No dragons allowed)

This week, my friend and fellow author Peter Jones (not the dragon) has a new book out – My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend! And I don’t know about you but I just love that title. So much so that I invited Peter onto the blog to tell us how he came up with it. Take it away, Peter.

Hello Rachel! Thanks for inviting me back onto the blog.

So. Book titles…

hate them!

Specifically, fiction book titles.

Why? Because they’re so important, and so much rides on getting them just right. You might spend 10 months of your life writing circ. 80,000 words, but unless those half dozen words on the cover are absolutely perfect, you could quite easily have been wasting your time.

Non-fiction book titles are easy; just describe what your book is about and make darn sure you have a key-word in there (something that people looking for your book might type into google). So for instance, a book about finding happiness in this ever increasingly busy world might be called How To Do Everything And Be HappyThat would work.

But fiction? That’s a whole different ball of wax.

Take for instance my last novel; The Truth About This Charming Man. Not a bad title. But not particularly good either. Unless you saw the cover it doesn’t really tell you what the story is going to be about. Some have argued that even if you DID see the cover, you still wouldn’t know what it was about!

And my novel before that: The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The GirlTerrible title! Awful! I mean okay, it’s quite funny, a bit of alliteration can’t hurt – and the cover helped a bit – but having previously published four self-help books, most people assumed it was another self-help book! What was I thinking choosing a title like that?

Anyway, fortunately the same cannot be said for my latest fictional offering. This time I’ve cracked it! This time I have a title which is both funny, AND gives the reader a hint of what’s to come. And what’s more I can’t really take any credit for it.

I met my partner Valerie about three years ago.  Val had just come out of a long term relationship with… well, let’s call him Steve. It had been an amicable split so it wasn’t uncommon for her to mention Steve occasionally. I’d say something like, “I’ve made some fresh bread this weekend,” and she’d say, “oh, Steve used to do that.” Only bloody Steve would have made the bread from flour that he’d milled himself. From a stone that he dug out of the ground. Whilst building his house. Single handedly.

One day I got so cheesed off hearing how fantastic Steve was I said, “if you don’t shut up about Steve I’m going to put him in a novel and then kill him off!” To which Val laughed and said, “what would you call the book? My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend?”

Well. It was a such a good title, how could I resist?

“No!” said Val, seeing the light bulb hovering above my head. “You can’t! Absolutely not!” But this was Friday. And you know how this works Rachel – by the end of the weekend we had renamed Steve, morphed him into this completely unbearable character called Sebastian.

We’d also decided that the protagonist would be a down-on-his-luck school teacher called Adrian, and that his girlfriend would be a sassy American PR executive called Paige. More than that a plot was beginning to emerge that was just too fun not to write!

Now obviously it’s all made up. But that said, I really hope Steve doesn’t recognise himself in it.

Click or tap here, to visit amazonHot news! 

Peter’s latest novel, My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend, is just 99 pennies for the entire month of October 2017. Click or tap here to visit amazon or type BuyTheBook.TODAY into your web browser.

And you can follow Peter on social media via the links below

Writing books and raising children

Writing books and raising children

Very interesting piece on writing novels and raising children – I can relate, can you?

Aine Reads Books

-Author Margaret Scott on the surprising similarities 

You produce your first and you think you’re a genius. Then you move onto your second…
My first daughter slept at seven weeks, was sitting in a corner doing jigsaws by a year and could be brought anywhere. I thought I was the bee’s knees, this was all down to me. I was the bomb. My first novel was a joy to write, suffered very few rejections and was received really well. I was on fire, couldn’t wait to write another.
My second daughter didn’t sleep for four years. She didn’t walk until she was two. She used to sit on the floor arms out, squawking for attention, morning, noon and night. My second attempt at a novel is still languishing in a drawer somewhere. 115,000 words of unmitigated (unpublished) disaster. Despite tears – lots of tears – neither child nor novel took…

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#Extract & #Giveaway ~ The Flower Shop on Foxley Street by Rachel Dove @BrookCottageBks #FridayReads

Blog tour stop!

Between the Lines ~ Books’n’Stuff

Series: Westfield series – Can be read as a standalone.

Genre: romantic fiction

Release Date: 26th July 2017

Publisher: HQ Digital/Harper Collins

A new love could be about to bloom for Lily in this bright, warm women’s fiction title that fans of Holly Hepburn and Cathy Bramley will love.

Lily Rose Baxter loves her little flower shop on Foxley Street and the freedom and independence from her family that it represents.

Lily can’t help but feel that something is missing from her life…, but when mysterious stranger Will Singer comes into her shop looking for the perfect bouquet of roses, all that could be about to change.

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US



Will Singer looked every inch the thirty-two-year-old man he was. The bathroom mirror rarely did anyone any favours, but this particular winter morning it appeared to be magically channelling the mirror from Snow…

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