The Santa Killer by Ross Greenwood

(A D.I. Barton mystery)

The book begins with Inga, four years previously, in Stevenage. As is often the case, first chapters of crime books don’t often feature characters who live very far into the book and Inga is the same. But it always takes us straight into the action to witness a murder!

A more unusual literary device is employed in this book though, when we have chapters written from the viewpoint of the murderer – this time known as The Santa Killer from the book’s title. This chapter is set in Peterborough in the present day. We discover that the person has been following someone called Maggie, who appears to have a privileged life which the killer is envious of. I really enjoyed reading the killer’s thoughts and trying to find little clues to their identity. You are able to follow their story and see what makes them tick, reading about key incidents in their past.

The next chapter is from Maggie’s point of view, which cleverly shows us what her life is really like and it isn’t the perfect dream-like world that the killer thinks she inhabits. She is 38 and lives with her daughter Pippa (10). As we are able to see into her life and circumstances, we warm to her quickly and want her to be okay.

We also follow the police, with Detective Inspector John Barton being the lead figure in these novels. I haven’t read any of the books previously, but this is part of a series which began with The Snow Killer. I certainly didn’t feel disadvantaged reading The Santa Killer first, it works fine as a standalone.

Barton works in a police station in Peterborough along with his team DS Shawn Zander (who is dating fellow police officer DS Kelly Strange), Zelensky, Malik, DC Leicester and new recruit Hoffman. Barton is married to Holly and they have three children (Lawrence, Luke and Layla) and a greyhound called Gizmo.

I loved the dialogue in the book and there’s a lot of wit and humour. Even little cameo roles are memorable. I also liked that it was mentioned that police officers need the loo! I have often read fast-paced crime thrillers wondering when on earth they get chance for a wee! (Maybe that’s just me.)

I like the length of the chapters here, they are perfect – sometimes just a couple of pages if a brief scene, but usually around five pages on the e-book. I also enjoyed the different viewpoints. I think if you know what a murderer is thinking and feeling, they seem more believable and you have some sympathy for them, even though they are committing a horrible crime. I liked that the novel was set recently and mentioned things like lockdown and face masks, which grounded it well and made it feel real.

Overall, there’s not much to criticise in this book. It was really well-paced, I loved the characters (especially Barton), the writing is clever and the story fascinating. I’m happy to recommend this and I’d love to read the rest of the series.

BLURB

The Santa Killer

The Santa Killer is coming to town…

One night less than two weeks before Christmas, a single mother is violently assaulted. It’s a brutal crime at the time of year when there should be goodwill to all. When DI Barton begins his investigation, he’s surprised to find the victim is a woman with nothing to hide and no reason for anyone to hurt her.

A few days later, the mother of the woman attacked rings the police station. Her granddaughter has drawn a shocking picture. It seems she was looking out of the window when her mother was attacked. And when her grandmother asks the young girl who the person with the weapon is, she whispers two words.

Bad Santa.

The rumours start spreading, and none of the city’s women feel safe – which one of them will be next?

He’s got a list. It’s quite precise. It won’t matter even if you’re nice.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3n7JMG5

Author Bio –

Ross Greenwood is the author of crime thrillers. Before becoming a full-time writer he was most recently a prison officer and so worked everyday with murderers, rapists and thieves for four years. He lives in Peterborough.

Social Media Links –  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RossGreenwoodAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/greenwoodross

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rossg555/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/RossGreenwoodnews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ross-greenwood

A Chance in a Million by T.A. Williams

I first read a book by T.A. Williams back in March, when I really enjoyed An Escape To Remember. I was quite surprised to find a male author writing a romance novel, but he proved himself with that wonderful book and quickly jumped into the list of authors I will always try to read. Having spoke to him on social media too, he is a thoroughly lovely man. So I was thrilled to be able to read his latest novel – A Chance in a Million.

The prologue throws you straight into the action. It begins in Fallujah, Iraq with Captain Jane Reed dealing with an unexploded bomb. Chapter One continues to follow Jane’s story after she has left the army. She is twenty-nine years old and following a change in careers, she is applying for a job as Personal Assistant to successful author Lady Veronica Cooper, who is in her sixties. After being offered the job, she discovers it entails a move to Italy.

I was interested in the story and the characters straight away. Venice was beautifully described, it felt just like I was there (and I’ve never been). It is obvious that Jane and Veronica are alike in some ways, despite being employer and employee and decades apart in age. Both women are suffering and experiencing a great change in their lives. Jane has left the army, while Veronica is finding it impossible to write anymore, following the death of her husband two years before. As a reader, you feel immediate sympathy for both of them.

The palazzo they live in is beautiful and the wardrobe of classic dresses is somewhere I’d love to see as well! The setting feels really authentic and although often glamorous, it doesn’t feel out of touch, as it does to me in some novels. Here, you feel you are experiencing everything through the characters.

In the summer months, they escape the Venetian heat by an annual move to the country estate where David (Veronica’s son) lives with his grandmother Flora, who’s a sprightly 95 years old. David is intriguing, hiding secrets and damaged by war like Jane. The characters in the novel are so deeply layered, you find out more about them as the book goes on and their stories are revealed, which I really enjoyed. Other characters I really liked are Maria the housekeeper, who I felt would be a really good friend, and her husband Alvise. Special mention to Dino the Labrador. I always love a good animal in a book and Dino is gorgeous!

T.A. Williams continues to be an author I will look out for and hope to read everything he writes. He is a great writer of stories and particularly believable characters you root for.

BLURB

A Chance in a Million

Fate brought them together, now it’s up to them to make it work…

Having left the army to recover from a traumatic experience, Captain Jane Reed is on her way to Venice to assist Lady Veronica Cooper, a world-famous writer who has lost her mojo. Plagued by grief and sleepless nights, Jane soon finds a kindred spirit in Veronica, coping with her own loss after the death of her husband.

When the two relocate to Veronica’s villa in the countryside to escape the summer tourists, Jane meets the rest of the Cooper family – including Veronica’s brooding son, David. With his own tragic past, David has resigned himself to a life of solitude. Jane finds herself determined to bring joy back into his life, even if it means finally spilling her secrets.

Can Jane and David help each other heal, and find love in the process, or are some scars too deep to treat?

Purchase Link – http://mybook.to/inaMIllion

Author Bio – I’m a man. And a pretty old man as well. I did languages at university a long time ago and then lived and worked in France and Switzerland before going to Italy for seven years as a teacher of English. My Italian wife and I then came back to the UK with our little daughter (now long-since grown up) where I ran a big English language school for many years. We now live in a sleepy little village in Devonshire. I’ve been writing almost all my life but it was only seven years ago that I finally managed to find a publisher who liked my work enough to offer me my first contract.

The fact that I am now writing escapist romance is something I still find hard to explain. My early books were thrillers and historical novels. Maybe it’s because there are so many horrible things happening in the world today that I feel I need to do my best to provide something to cheer my readers up. My books provide escapism to some gorgeous locations, even if travel to them is currently difficult.

Social Media Links –

Website: www.tawilliamsbooks.com

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/tawilliamsbooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrevorWilliamsBooks/

Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow by Jessica Redland

MY REVIEW

This is the sixth and final book in the Hedgehog Hollow series and I’d strongly recommend reading the series in order, as you get to know the characters and their backstories throughout the books. At the start of this novel, there’s a helpful guide to who’s who in the series, to refresh your memory, plus a ‘The Story So Far’ section.

This book is set a year after Book Five. It’s October, it’s Samantha’s 32nd birthday and their first baby is due in twelve weeks! Hedgehog Hollow has expanded to become a Wildlife Rescue Centre, able to look after more than just hedgehogs and Fizz, at 28, has begun her dream job there as a full-time veterinary nurse. She is still in a relationship with Yasmin, though they really don’t seem well-suited. The chapters are written from Samantha and Fizz’s viewpoints.

I’m not going to tell you any more about the plot, because you’ll enjoy learning it from the pages of this superb book. There are the twists and turns you would expect, as this is not going to be an easy ride towards a Happy Ever After sign. Like in real life, things happen to set you back, but you keep going.

There is a misconception that many romance/romcom/women’s fiction books are light and fluffy, somehow disposable or inferior to other genres. This is absolute rubbish, of course. These books show real life – we deal with families, relationships, birth, marriage, death, financial struggles and so on – real issues, big and small. In this book, there is a storyline about abuse, which is perfectly handled. Jessica Redland is one of the best at combining serious issues and lighter moments seamlessly.

To us loyal readers, Hedgehog Hollow is real. I can picture where everything is, what it looks like and I feel I know all the characters as if they were real people. Jessica Redland is one of my favourite authors, she writes in such a warm and authentic way. You care about the characters and want to follow their stories throughout the series.

As with every book, I find myself learning more about hedgehogs, which is always a delight as they are amongst my favourite animals. (And I loved Debbie Harry!) Since Chloe and Lauren opened Crafty Hollow, I can also get my sewing fix along with my hedgehog fix in the book and I’d love to be able to sign up for the craft workshops!

Overall, I’ll always recommend a Jessica Redland book. Her writing style is so natural and a real delight. Her Hedgehog Hollow series has been such a joy, each book is like catching up with old friends over a cup of tea and maybe feeding a hoglet if you’re lucky. I’m sad the series has finished, but I’m also excited about her future books, as I’m sure they will be equally wonderful.

BLURB

Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow

It’s the countdown to Christmas at Hedgehog Hollow Wildlife Rescue Centre, and everyone is gearing up for a festive season to remember…

It should be the most wonderful time of the year for Samantha and Josh as they prepare for the arrival of their first baby. But life at Hedgehog Hollow rarely goes to plan and the pair are faced with adversaries, old and new, and unexpected challenges to overcome.

Fizz’s job at the heart of the rescue centre is a dream come true but her personal life is more like a nightmare. With her love life a disaster and her past about to dramatically catch up with her, she needs the love and support of her Hedgehog Hollow family more than ever.

As the snow falls over Hedgehog Hollow, will Samantha and Fizz find the Christmas miracle they need to overcome their heartache and find happiness?

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3tTzPjm

Author Bio –

Jessica Redland writes emotional but uplifting stories of love, friendship, family and community. Her Whitsborough Bay books transport readers to the stunning North Yorkshire Coast where she lives with her husband, daughter and sprocker spaniel. Her Hedgehog Hollow series, set in a hedgehog rescue centre, takes readers into the beautiful rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Wolds.

Social Media Links –  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JessicaRedlandAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessicaRedland

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jessicaredlandauthor/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/JessicaRedlandNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jessica-redland

The Reason by Catherine Bennetto

The Reason by Catherine Bennetto

As soon as I read about this book on Twitter, I knew it sounded just the kind of book I’d love to read.

“A heart-warming and humorous novel that offers an escapist and emotional journey. Proving two widely known truths: that money can’t buy happiness but small acts of kindness do spread joy.”

Sounds great, huh? So I was very excited to be on the blog tour for this book and receive a review copy of the paperback, which has a distinctive cover of a dark grey cloud dropping brightly coloured raindrops.

The story is about Brooke Paige who is 43 and lives with her daughter Hannah (10) and their dog Cookie. The drama starts straight away with a rather comedic situation that shows us immediately what Brooke and Hannah are like. I loved them both immediately and they seem so realistic, especially Brooke with all her flaws.

The characters in this book are absolutely wonderful, each one full of idiosyncrasies and eccentricities and superbly crafted. Brooke’s parents are great, especially her father with his bag of live birds! (You need to read it!) There are some fabulous animals too. The book is so funny and very witty, but clever too.

Brooke becomes very rich following her husband’s sudden death, but resents the money. Seeing a collection tin in a local shop, she realises she can use the money to help people. But she can’t let people know just how rich she is. So she sets about finding ways to assist those who need it.

There are serious topics covered here, amongst all the humour. Hannah is being bullied at school by a girl called Livie. There’s also grief and loss and how it affects those left behind. The story is very moving and heart-warming and it’s a book you will enjoy, but also one you’ll remember a long time after you’ve finished reading the last page.

BLURB

How much is the smile from the person you love worth to you?
 
Brooke’s life has derailed. Her social life and career have evaporated, her daughter is desperately unhappy and being bullied at school, and, for a 43-year-old, she probably spends way too many weekends at her parents’ house. But the reason for all this is no mystery. A year and a half ago, Brooke’s husband died.
 
But Brooke does have one secret. Her husband’s death, the worst thing that has ever happened to her, has made her unbelievably rich.
 
Despite her despair, Brooke suddenly realises she has the power to make her daughter’s life, and the world a little brighter.

The Soldier’s Daughter by AnneMarie Brear

I only heard of AnneMarie Brear for the first time early this year, when I read and reviewed her wonderful novel The Orphan in the Peacock Shawl, so I was looking forward to reading more of her work.

The Soldier’s Daughter begins in January 1860 in the West Yorkshire village of Lylston. Evie Davenport is 23 and lives in High Lylston House with her father Major Davenport (60) and a small staff comprising of the cook Mrs. Humphry, the housemaid Fanny, the kitchen maid Lizzie, Mr. Bronson to drive the carriage and his son Colin, (18) who did odd jobs.

After being born and brought up in India, this was the second English winter she was dealing with. Near the start of the story, we are introduced to Evie’s best friend Sophie Bellingham who lives in Bellingham Hall. While Evie plans never to get married, Sophie wishes to marry Alexander Lucas. But when Evie meets Alexander, she understands the attraction…

I got into the story straight away, being interested in Evie and her life. She is a great character and one you side with straight away. I loved how she talks about political and topical issues, at a time when many women were not encouraged to express an opinion. She is a bit of a shock to the villagers, even daring to ride astride a horse, not side saddle! I loved the servants and I liked the Bellingham family too and the setting of the village and its inhabitants. Well, most of them. Mrs Myer is a nightmare!

The novel covers many different topics, including wealth, status and all it entails, including the slave trade in America at the time. It also conveys the era in a way which feels very evocative.

It is a beautiful novel, really well-written with charming characters and a story that you will be interested to follow.

Highly recommended.

BLURB

The Soldier’s Daughter

‘Mesmerising from beginning to end.’ Lizzie Lane


Yorkshire 1860

With the heat of their beloved India far behind them, Evie Davenport and her widowed British Army officer father, are starting a new life in England. But Evie is struggling. With her dearest mother gone, Yorkshire with its cold, damp countryside and strict societal rules makes Evie feel suffocated and alone.

Her friendship with Sophie Bellingham, the gently reared daughter of a wealthy rail baron, is Evie’s only comfort. Until the arrival of local cotton mill owner, Alexander Lucas.

Newly returned from America, it is expected Alexander will marry and finally make England his home. And Sophie with her family connections and polite manners is the obvious choice.

But when Alexander meets Evie, a simmering passion ignites between them. Evie, with her rebellious spirit is like no other woman Alex has ever met, but to reject Sophie for Evie would cause a scandal and devastate everyone Evie loves.

Evie knows she must do her duty. But in doing so faces the unbearable future of being without the man she loves.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3n8RzDr

Author Bio –

AnneMarie Brear is the bestselling historical fiction writer of over twenty novels. She lives in the Southern Highlands in NSW, and has spent many years visiting and working in the UK. Her books are mainly set in Yorkshire, from where her family hails, and Australia, between the nineteenth century and WWI. Her first title for Boldwood was published in January 2022.

Social Media Links –  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annemariebrear

Twitter: https://twitter.com/annemariebrear

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annemariebrear/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/AnneMarieBrearNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/annemarie-brear

Salmacis by Elizabeth Train-Brown

First of all, I should say I am Elizabeth’s big sister, so there may well be a natural bias to my review, but I will try to be as balanced as possible.

This is a collection of twenty-five poems. Some are just two verses long, while others go across three pages, so there is a variety of style. They touch on many themes but mainly about being a woman and what that means. The poems are mainly written in the first person, so they feel very personal. We read about being born, periods, breasts, hair, self-harming, violence, death…

Some of the poems are rather disturbing (for example – 3 a.m. voice notes on snapchat) and all of them stand up to repeated readings, where you will find something you missed the first time around. One of my favourite poems here is lessons I almost learned, which is both comedic and horrific, but beautifully observed.

BLURB

As recounted by the Roman poet Ovid, a young nymph, Salmacis, one day spied Hermaphroditus bathing; consumed with passion, she entered the water and, begging the gods to allow them to stay together, the two became one – part man, part woman. An Eclectic Pagan, for Elizabeth Ovid’s fables are more than fiction, and form a framework for exploring identity. Drawing on the rich mythological history associated with the tale of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, and re-examining the tale through the lens of metaphor, Salmacis: Becoming Not Quite a Woman is a stirringly relatable and powerful exploration of gender, love and identity. this is my lake salmacis, and i am the wild nymph with a hollow in her belly and nothing between her legs

Ten Years by Pernille Hughes

Ten Years follows Becca and Charlie over a decade. In the prologue, we meet Ally, who falls in love with Charlie and is Becca’s best friend. The first chapter, set in 2011, is set at Ally’s funeral. Becca (still Ally’s best friend) and Charlie (by then Ally’s fiancé) are both there. They can’t stand each other and are pleased they won’t ever need to see each other again after that sad day.

We fast forward a year, to 2012 and Becca receives an email – from Ally. Her deceased friend has instructions for her, things she wants her to do. Both her and Charlie have to visit Ally’s mum, Valerie, on the anniversary of her daughter’s death. So much for never seeing each other again… Valerie is wonderful, such a lovely character – and a great contrast to Charlie and Becca’s constant bitching and point scoring. She passes on an instruction from Ally – her wishes were that Charlie and Becca scatter some of her ashes at the top of Snowdon.

And so begins a series of tasks where the two enemies are forced to spend time together…

Ten Years is a moving account of grief, yet the book is never bogged down by it. There is a lot of humour throughout and both Becca and Charlie are realistic, if often infuriating, characters you come to care about. I was really shocked at some of the things they say to each other! Ouch!

You also get to know Ally. Even though she dies very early on, her presence is there through her messages and through Charlie and Becca’s conversations and memories – and the fact they are seeing each other at all. This made it seem less bleak really, because Ally’s presence was there and she accompanies them on their yearly adventures to fulfil her last wishes.

The novel shows how people deal with loss and how they try to move on, while never forgetting the person they loved and lost. They is a lot of depth to the book, but it never feels heavy. It’s much more than “just a romcom” though. In fact, I wouldn’t even describe it as that. There’s a romance, sure, but it’s more about how two people change over a decade and how their relationship changes with time and maturity.

BLURB

Ten Years

Becca and Charlie have known each other since university.
Becca and Charlie have also hated each other since university.

Until now. Until Ally’s bucket list. The death of their loved one should mean they can go their separate ways and not look back. But completing the list is something neither of them can walk away from.

And sometimes, those who bring out the worst in you, also bring out the very best…

Over the course of ten years, Becca and Charlie’s paths collide as they deal with grief, love and life after Ally.

Not since Emma and Dex in One Day and Will and Lou in Me Before You will you root for a couple as much.

Purchase Link – www.linktr.ee/TenYears

Author Bio –

Before she moved to writing full-time, Pernille (pronounced Pernilla) Hughes studied Film & Literature at university. After graduating she went into advertising and later on to market Natural History films before working in Children’s television, which meant living in actual Teletubbyland for a while! From 2011–2015, she was a regular contributor for the Sunday Times column ‘Confessions of a Tourist’. She has two novels published to date PROBABLY THE BEST KISS IN THE WORLD and PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE (formerly published as Sweatpants At Tiffanie’s). Her next book TEN YEARS will be out in August 2022.

Pernille lives in Buckinghamshire and while the kids are at school she scoffs cake and writes stories in order to maintain a shred of sanity.

Find her on Instagram and Twitter at @Pernillehughes or on Facebook at her Pernille Hughes Author page.www.pernillehughes.com (There’s a free story to be had!!!)

Social Media Links –

www.pernillehughes.com (Free short story available here)

Twitter https://twitter.com/pernillehughes

Instagram @Pernillehughes

Facebook at her Pernille Hughes Author page.

Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar

I absolutely love the premise of this novel, as so many of us book lovers will. The idea is that you pay to live above, and run, a bookshop and café for a two-week break. Here we discover the Borrow-A-Bookshop at Clove Lore, a village on the Devonshire coast. The village itself sounds idyllic, with its donkey sanctuary, harbour and traditional English pub. (I’m just packing my bags, as I write…)

The shop is owned by Jowan, who is in his sixties and has a gorgeous old dog called Aldous -“his skinny tail curled between his legs like a fallen question mark” (love that description!). The person looking after the bookshop this Christmas is from Iceland – Magnus Sturluson. But he seems strangely subdued, not excited about the prospect of what many would see as a dream holiday.

Meanwhile 26-year-old Alexandra Robinson is all at sea – literally. Running away from Port Kernou in Cornwall, she was on board her 27ft river cruiser, but a storm blew her into Clove Lore and now she is stranded there with her boat damaged. As Magnus helps rescue her, he is enchanted by her eyes…

This is the first of Kiley Dunbar’s books I have read, though I did buy The Borrow A Bookshop Holiday, but haven’t had chance to read it yet. I will be pushing it up my TBR pile, now I know how good Kiley’s writing is. I loved this book, it has a fairytale quality to it. I love a good Christmas book too and let’s face it, this one even had donkeys in it!

I liked all the characters and it was good to find out more about Icelandic culture through Magnus’s story. I also loved Izaak and Leonid and their love story. The village is full of wonderfully rounded, believable characters that you care about. They put a real heart into the story and the whole novel is full of warmth.

BLURB

Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop

‘Tis the season for finding love… and the perfect book

With just two weeks until Christmas, everything in Clove Lore should be perfect. But the latest holidaymaker to the Borrow a Bookshop is feeling far from festive…

Icelandic ex-bookseller Magnús Sturluson might be surrounded by love stories in the Bookshop, but he’s nursing a sadness that not even fiction can fix.

When Alexandra Robinson finds herself stranded in Clove Lore, she finds a safe place to hide from heartbreak. After all, all that’s waiting for her at home is a cheater boyfriend and the memories of her parents. As Alex finds herself embraced by the quirky village community, she finds her tough exterior thawing – and as she grows closer to Magnús, she finds an equally soft heart under his gruff shell.

It seems that Clove Lore is working its magic once again – until a great flood on Christmas Eve brings devastation in its wake. It’s up to Magnús and Alex to batten down the hatches and help bring the village back together again, while also introducing the locals to the Icelandic tradition of the jólabókaflóð – Yule book flood – where families and friends gather on Christmas Eve to exchange books and read together.

But can Magnús and Alex truly rescue the ruins of the village, and salvage their Christmas spirit? Or is there another complication lurking even closer than they thought?

Purchase Links

AMZ: https://amzn.to/39v0coN

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3QpSgpj

Apple: https://apple.co/3Oewbs0

Hive: https://bit.ly/3HI1olz

Author Bio – Kiley Dunbar writes heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places, with One Winter’s Night being shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2021.

Kiley’s five novels include: The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday (May 2021), One Winter’s Night (September 2020), Summer at the Highland Coral Beach (2020), Christmas at Frozen Falls (2019) and One Summer’s Night (2019).

Social Media Links –

‘Kiley Dunbar Author Book Page’ on Facebook
website and newsletter: http://www.kileydunbar.co.uk/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI8wM4Fmkbyg4S_XGSnfUCA

https://www.facebook.com/KileyDunbarAuthor/

The Fall of Roman Britain by John Lambshead

I was interested in reading this book because the subtitle is ‘And Why We Speak English’ and I was fascinated to discover the answer to that question. As well as an interest in language, I also love history and archaeology, so this book ticked lots of boxes for me!

Being from Lincoln, I have always been aware of Roman history and how it has made our city into what it is. We see Newport Arch regularly, for example and drive past the Roman remains in the grounds of the Lincoln Hotel.

The Fall of Roman Britain is quite a short book of around 160 pages, but there is a lot in there! Almost from the first page, I was learning new things. I mean, did you know that there was a land bridge connecting England to the continent until around 8000 years ago? No, me neither. Just think how different our country would be if that still existed.

It is an academic text, well-researched, all sources quoted and an extensive bibliography. It isn’t a book you can read quickly, because there is a lot of information to process. Obviously, different chapters will be of more interest to different readers. For example, I am not particularly interested in reading about boats used to attempt to invade Britain (Chapter One) but am completely fascinated by what can be gleaned from studying bones (Chapter Two) and the Impact of Climate Change (Chapter Six).

I appreciate John Lambshead’s writing style and his little witty asides, which break up the subject matter, which is often quite “heavy” by its nature. The chapters are of a good size – not too long – and the conclusions at the end of each one are a well thought out feature. The sub-headings in each chapter are also handy for looking up a particular topic.

A book I would definitely recommend if you are interested in this subject.

A Scandinavian Summer by Helga Jensen

This book is written in the first person by the wonderful Martha (47), who works in a library. We are introduced to her in the prologue, along with her husband Anthony (an accountant), and their daughter Rosie (16).

After a shock ending to the prologue, Chapter One is set two years later. Rosie has moved out and Martha is living by herself. As you’ll guess by the title, Martha ends up in Scandinavia – Denmark, to be precise. I was due to visit Denmark in the 1980s, but my mum was ill, so we didn’t go. This book felt like I finally got to visit! And what a fascinating country too.

Helga Jensen has a unique writing voice, which I loved straight away. It’s a chatty, confiding style that is easy to relate to. I could really empathise with Martha (“I was never destined for adventure. I was put on this earth to wear comfortable clothing and look after others.” That’s me!!) and she comes across as so real. I could definitely relate to her anxiety about travelling alone.

Martha is grieving, feeling lonely and trying to find herself and work out what she has achieved with her life so far. So there are some deep topics, but it never becomes heavy, because there’s a lot of joy, wit and clever observational humour in the book. This is the first of Helga’s books that I have read, but I certainly don’t expect it to be the last. (I’m eagerly awaiting Gareth the Goldfish Goes to Denmark!!)

I have read over a hundred books this year, but Helga’s writing is amongst the very best. With many characters, you feel like you are watching them from a distance. With Martha, I felt I was living her life. Lars was great too and I enjoyed reading how her thoughts about him changed, seeing how she had to battle all her guilt and grief over her husband’s death before she could put her own feelings first.

This has everything you could possibly want in a book and I am recommending it as highly as I can!

10 out of 10 from me.

BLURB

A Scandinavian Summer

It’s the right time for love, but is it the wrong place?

After the tragic, premature death of her husband Anthony, Martha has spent all her time focused on her teenage daughter Rosie in their small Welsh village.

But with Rosie leaving the nest, and Martha’s own job on the line, it feels that life is passing her by.

Inspired by her love for Scandi-noir dramas, Martha impulsively books a trip to Denmark, determined to push herself out of her comfort zone – even if the thought terrifies her…

Her trip to the tiny island of Fano becomes something much more: in the form of handsome stranger, Lars. Can Martha find love under the Scandinavian skies… but more importantly, can she find herself?

A romantic, warm and uplifting read, guaranteed to leave you smiling. Fans of Jenny Colgan and Kathryn Freeman will adore this feelgood read!

Purchase Links

AMZ: amzn.to/3JdMRO6

Kobo: bit.ly/3J5FyrT

Apple: apple.co/35X1tDk

Hive: bit.ly/3GHtlJn

Author Bio –

Helga Jensen is an award-winning British/Danish best-selling author and journalist. Her debut novel was a winning entry in the 2017 Montegrappa First Fiction competition at Dubai’s Emirates Literary Festival. Her debut was also a contender for the coveted 2021 Joan Hessayon Award for new writers. Helga’s second romantic comedy, A Scandinavian Summer, went straight to number one on the Amazon Kindle charts for Danish travel on its publication day. Helga holds a BA Hons in English Literature and Creative Writing, along with a Creative Writing MA from Bath Spa University. She is currently working on a PhD.

Social Media Links –

Social media contacts

Twitter – https://twitter.com/HelgaJensenF

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/Helgajensenauthor/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/helgajensenfordeauthor/