Monday, 20 March 2023

Book Review: The Dangerous Dance of Emma JJ by Annie Try

Hello, bookaholics, I am back with another fabulous book for you. What a treat lies ahead. 

I love Annie Try books, so when the publisher asked me to be part of this blog tour, I jumped at the chance. Emma is a looked after child with a secret at her very core. Of course, all of this brings its own emotional baggage. This could be a depressing book but it is very definitely not. Emma, is a relatable character and even though this book is for young adults I, as an adult, was rooting for her every step of the way. She shows courage and strength of character, supported at every turn by her best friend and boyfriend. The relationships are described well and are believable and the characterisation is spot on. When Emma discovers dance, her life is transformed through her passion for dancing and the reader almost feels her come alive. The book is structured well and leads the reader through the highs and lows of the teenage life. The author has a real grasp of the teenage psyche and this shines through in every carefully chosen word. 

I like the way the author has not shied away from the impact of past trauma on a young person. This is handled sensitively and is an important part of the storyline. It takes great skill to do so. It does have some faith aspects but this is woven into the story in a way which does not overwhelm. It is handled sensitively and allows the reader to think about matters of faith. 

Although this is a story for Young Adults I would also recommend it to adults. A well thought out, well written book which would have wide appeal.

If you would like to find out more about Annie Try and her work you can find her via the links below.

Thanks for reading my bookaholic friend. I will be back soon with another great read. Until then, keep reading and keep writing. 


Monday, 30 January 2023

Book Review: Hunter's Force by Val Penny


Hello, my Bookaholic friends, I have another book review for you and this is one you will not want to miss. 

I would like to start by saying I love this cover. It gives a real Tartan Noir vibe and this book certainly sits squarely in the Tartan Noir genre. The atmospheric cover carries over into the book itself which has atmosphere aplenty. 


Hunter by name – Hunter by nature.

Can DI Hunter Wilson keep Edinburgh safe when he is the hunted?

Detective Inspector Hunter Wilson is woken in the early hours of the morning by a call from his son. Cameron’s flatmate has been murdered.

Why would anybody want to kill a young woman recently arrived in the city?Hunter must call in the new Major Incident Team (MIT), however his ability to be involved in the case is severely compromised when someone from his past resurfaces with revenge on their mind

When Hunter goes missing, and his team struggle to find the clues they need to locate hm. Who would want to stop Hunter in his tracks?

Meanwhile, Hunter's team must also work closely with the MIT and with or without him, solve the murder in this taut crime thriller.


I love the D.I. Hunter Wilson crime thrillers and was excited to read this new edition of Hunter's Force. I was not disappointed. What a cracking, on the edge of your seat, up way past bedtime, read it was. 

This thriller is essentially a taut game of cat and mouse, where one is never sure who is the cat and who is the mouse. The hunter has become the hunted, whilst he is still the hunter. If you are confused, please do not be. This book is beautifully written and the stories flows well. The plot is strong and the tension ebbs and flows at just the right pace, meaning the redder is often breathless as the story unfolds. The characters are sublimely drawn, so one feels they know them intimately. Yes, even the ones you wouldn't want to know intimately in real life. In the pages of this book they give the action an extra frisson of both danger and excitement.

The setting is described perfectly and I felt I was on the streets of Edinburgh. Even if the reader has never been there, they will leave the book feeling like they have visited and know it well.

All of this is possible because Penny is an expert wordsmith who uses every carefully chosen word to its best effect. This is a book which will leave you both satisfied and wanting more. I would recommend this book and the series to you. 

Author Biography 


Val Penny has an Llb degree from the University of Edinburgh and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer but has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store.

Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories, nonfiction books, and novels. Her novels are published by SpellBound Books Ltd.

Val is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and their cat. 

Grab your copy of Hunter's Force today.

That's it for another week Bookaholics. See you soon and until then keep reading and keep writing. 

Wendy H. Jones

Wendy H. Jones is an award-winning, international best-selling author who writes adult crime books, young adult mysteries, children's picture books and non-fiction books for writers. She is also a writing and marketing coach, runs the Writing Matters Online School and is the CEO of Authorpreneur Accelerator Academy, The president of the Scottish Association of Writers and hosts The Writing and Marketing Show podcast. She is currently writing a series of historical fiction novels based around the life of a 19th Century Surgeon in the Royal Navy. 


Amazon Author Page

Saturday, 22 October 2022

Book Review: The Continued Times of Isabella M. Smugge by Ruth Leigh

Hello, Bookaholics, it's a lovely day for a book review. Well, it's always a good day for a book review and today I bring you one which is absolutely fabulous, darlings. 

If you haven't read the first two books in the series, then you really should do now, as these books need to be read in order to get the full effect of Issy and her development as a character. I mean, seriously, rush and get them as they are superb. So, what of this one.


Now in her third year of living the rural dream, starry Instamum Issy Smugge is up against it. A single parent of four with an award-winning brand, a gin-swigging mother convalescing upstairs and a distraught relative craving a shoulder to cry on, her diary and listed Regency home are bursting at the seams!
Of course, she can count on lively support from the colourful playground mums – and then there’s always Tom, the startlingly good-looking vicar, and his angelic wife, Claire.
But as pressure begins to mount, long-buried memories surface and difficult decisions need to be made. How will our heroine cope with painful emotions? (Clue: no filter!) And when the influencer needs influencing, who will show her the way? 


Yes, everyone's favourite mumfluencer is back in The Continued Times of Isabella M. Smugge, the third book in the Issy Smugge (rhymes with Brugge of course) series. She is now the parent of four, one a brand new baby, and doing it alone apart from help from a housekeeper, a part-time nursery nurse, a gardener and a manicurist. To add insult to injury her insufferable mother has had a stroke and is installed in one of the spare rooms whilst she recovers. Issy, in her own inimitable style, is nursing her, meaning she is paying for the round the clock, wall-to-wall nursing staff who are doing all the heavy lifting. Literally. And don't forget the fact Issy still has her image as a mumfluencer to maintain - her adoring fans expect, actually demand, it of her. How is one woman expected to cope. This is the question she asks herself and yet cope she does - in her own fabulous way. Issy's character grows throughout the books; she is definitely becoming more likeable and, dare I say, human. Not that she isn't in the first two books but she is definitely mellowing and growing as a person as the series proceeds.

Where the book, and all the others in the series, stands out is in characterisation. All the characters are expertly drawn and, love them or hate them, they are real. Each has their own foibles and I love finding out more about them as the books progress. On opening the pages of this book I felt I was meeting with family and friends once more. This is the sign of a well written series, one which I love. I loved this book just as much, possibly even more, than the others. Leigh has a way with words which she uses to great effect to entertain and delight. 

This is Christian fiction but the Christianity is weaved in in a way which does not overwhelm and is extremely natural. At times Issy feels like she is living in a parallel universe with the 'church speak' but this is handled well and explained. Whilst Christians would enjoy this book I believe non-Christians would enjoy it just as much.

Another triumph from the pen of Ruth Leigh and I hope there will be many more Issy books to come. 

Signed copies complete with merchandise can be ordered via Ruth's website ( and from good bookshops, Eden, Waterstones and Amazon from 22nd October. In Suffolk, Issy Smugge is stocked by Woodbridge Books, Dial Lane Books in Ipswich and The Halesworth Bookshop.

I was given an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. At no point was I asked to provide a positive review and this is based on my reading and enjoyment of the book.

Friday, 29 July 2022

The Wanderer Scorned - Christian Fiction by Natasha Woodcraft

Good afternoon, Bookaholics, have I got a treat for you. Today, I bring you a review of The Wanderer Scorned a cracking Christian fiction novel from the pen, or keyboard, of the highly talented Natasha Woodcraft. 


The Wanderer is a man shrouded in legend. Moving from place to place in the land of Nod, he is known primarily for the curse that hangs over his life. When that curse is invoked during the celebration of a murderous rampage, The Wanderer is summoned to tell his story.

Few know the truth of the tale encompassing life, death, love, hate, faith and doubt, for it has been obscured by centuries of rumour. Now, it will be told by the one who lived it—the man who became The Wanderer.

A story you know as you've never heard it before, The Wanderer Series presents the ancient tale of Cain and Abel from Genesis 4, reimagined in gripping new fiction.


As it says above, The Wanderer is  a reimagining of the story of Cain and Abel from the book of Genesis in the Bible. What a reimagining it is. Beautifully written, Woodcraft brings the story to life using every carefully crafted word to its best possible advantage. I thought I knew the story of Cain and Abel but this brings it vividly to life, highlighting the thoughts and feelings of all involved. There is real emotion in the book and it was as if I could feel every heartbeat, thought and feeling of the characters. The characters are expertly drawn and come alive in your mind. I found myself loving them and hating them at various points of the narrative. Whichever way I fell, I found myself thinking I was in the presence of real people. The setting too is beautifully written and I could imagine a land so different to my own in many ways. I have lived in the Middle East, so my mind may have drawn on that experience to fill the setting in, but I do feel the way it is written the reader feels they are there. 

The portrayal of the Old Testament God and the characters' relationships with him are brilliantly done. While this is a bible based book it does not have a biblical feel to it, so the book could be read by anyone. The main characters' faith is real and this shines through without overwhelming. Although aimed at the Christian reader I believe this could be enjoyed equally by Non-Christians. 

The book is available from bookshops or via the Amazon links below. Please note these are affiliate links and I will receive a few pence from Amazon if you buy via the link. 


I was given an advanced copy of the book from the publisher in return for an honest review. The review is my honest review based on my reading and enjoyment of the book. At no point was I asked to provide a positive review.

That's it for another week, Bookaholics. See you soon. Until then, keep reading and keep writing. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

The Pilgrim by Joy Margetts

Good morning, Bookaholics. Today I bring you a review of a cracking historical fiction book - The Pilgrim by Joy Margetts. This is one you won't want to miss. 


Driven by ambition and family expectation, young Henry de Brampton is determined to make his mark. Destined for a prestigious career in the Church, he readily embraces the chance to experience the world before taking his vows. But fuelled by selfish desire, he recklessly betrays those he loves, with devastating consequences.

Overwhelmed with guilt, he seeks redemption among the Cistercians of Abbey Cwmhir and finds a new identity as Brother Hywel. Yet a further thoughtless betrayal will prove he cannot escape himself, and he is forced on pilgrimage to save his vocation.

A reluctant pilgrim, can the unlikely company help him discover what it truly means to be great in God’s eyes, and will Hywel ever be willing not just to receive forgiveness but also to forgive himself?


I am honoured to be opening the blog tour for Joy Margetts latest book and what an amazing book it is. It is firmly rooted in the past whilst being accessible to the modern day reader. The writing is exquisite, allowing the author to establish a real sense of time and place. The character of Hywel is extremely well drawn and I felt I was right there beside him on his pilgrimage. Each carefully chosen word drew me deeper into the story, allowing me to savour a different type of spirituality from the safety of my armchair. The spiritual pilgrimage is equally well handled and I was rooting for Hywel every step of the way. It helped me to draw closer to God through the simplicity of the spirituality during a time when things were both harder and easier. All kudos to Margetts, this book is a triumph and I can highly recommend. 

You can get the book from any Christian bookshop or from Amazon 

About the Author

Joy Margetts is a published author and blogger. Her books are works of Christian Historical fiction. Set in medieval Wales against the backdrop of Cistercian abbey life, they tell stories of faith, hope and God's redemptive power. Her debut novel 'The Healing' was published by Instant Apostle on 19 March 2021. Joy has also self- published a short novella, 'The Beloved' as both a companion to 'The Healing', and as an easy to read standalone story, which is available to buy on Amazon Kindle. 'The Pilgrim', her second full length novel, will be published by Instant Apostle on 22 July 2022

People can find me via my website at

On FB as Joy Margetts Author, on Instagram as @joymargetts, and on Twitter as @jamarge

If you would like to know more about the tour and see what other bloggers think of it, the details are below. Have a great week Bookaholics. Keep reading and writing. 

Monday, 4 July 2022

Historical Research Using Libraries


I've recently been doing a lot of research for the historical fiction and non-fiction books I am writing which resulted in me spending two days in the Rare Manuscripts Reading Room at the National Library of Scotland. Now, one might think that libraries in general and rare manuscripts in particular might be frightfully dull. Nothing could be further from the truth. This was the view from my seat - not only was a I reading abut historic Edinburgh but I was seeing it. Seeing things from above gives you a whole new perspective on what they are like. I would like to think my main character had the self same view but sadly not. The library was started in 1925 and completed in 1956 but they still managed to make it look historic and in keeping with its surroundings. Anyway I digress.

What exactly was I reading and researching? The answer, Edinburgh and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (as it had been known since 1801) from 1834-1838. Therefore, I was interested in newspapers, magazines and pamphlets from that period. The process was simple as outlined below.

Firstly, as I am a member of NLS, I searched their online database for periodicals from the period. I also researched  the year before and the  year after as I was trying to get a sense of the times in which my main character lived. This included political, social, medical provision, housing, economic, and anything else I could think of that might shape the way he lived and what he believed. 
When I arrived at the library my documents were waiting for me and I had to sit at a desk which had a foam book rest and a weighted cord to hold the pages open. 

The first magazine I looked at was The People's True Friend. The first ever edition was printed in Edinburgh on 31st December, 1834. A shiver went down my spine knowing that my main character, who was actually a real person, may have read this whilst he went to medical school in Edinburgh. Imagine if he had held this very newspaper. This gave me a real sense of connection to him bringing him closer and I could see him more clearly in my mind. The first ever article was crammed full of information about the turmoil in the government of the time. I got a clear picture of the political and social situation of the time. However, I was surprised that, despite this being an Edinburgh publication, it focussed on what was happening in London with no mention of how this impacted on Scotland. However, I can make assumptions based on what was reported. 

My next manuscript was Johnstone's Edinburgh Magazine for January 1834 and an article entitled London Thieves and London Misery. Again, I was surprised by the London Focus of the lead article. Did this demonstrate the importance of London during that time? It certainly made me think and look to exploring this further. This was an impassioned article on the poor of London and how the prisons were full of those who were unfortunate and merely stealing to survive. There was a plea for compassion and a change in social thinking which could reduce the numbers of prisoners. Social reform was obviously needed and at the forefront of people's minds. Again, it got me thinking about what the situation in Edinburgh might be. 

The two periodicals had many things in common such as stories, poems, recipes and songs, as well as news from home and abroad. The people of Edinburgh seemed to be well read and interested in a variety of issues and stories, reflective I feel of the emphasis on education and reading in Scotland. 

I did read other magazines and pamphlets but the length of this blog prevents me going into more detail. If you are writing historical fiction I would urge you to visit the national library in your country and look at some rare manuscripts. You will learn a lot more than you think. 

About the Author

Wendy H. Jones is an award-winning, international best-selling author who writes adult crime books, young adult mysteries, children's picture books and non-fiction books for writers. She is also a writing and marketing coach, runs the Writing Matters Online School and is the CEO of Authorpreneur Accelerator Academy, The president of the Scottish Association of Writers and hosts The Writing and Marketing Show podcast. She is currently writing a series of historical fiction novels based around the life of a 19th Century Surgeon in the Royal Navy. She is represented by Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Agency.


Amazon Author Page

Saturday, 28 May 2022

Book Review: The Magnificent Moustache and Other Stories


Good morning Bookaholics, I trust you are well and ready to have a fantastic day. I know I am. Today I bring you a review of a book which I think everyone would enjoy, whatever their age.

From the absolutely magnificent cover to every magnificent word, this book is a triumph. I've never posted a picture of the entire cover before, but I believe this book deserves it. Kudos to the publishers and the designer. 

Turn the pages and you soon find that the stories inside more than live up to the promises of the cover. The language used is delightful and the stories engrossing. The back blurb says that you can read the stories in one short sitting. I found myself saying I'll just read one more and before I knew where I was, I had read the entire book. My intention was to tell you about my favourite story but I am failing miserably as I loved every last one of them. I also loved the way in which I thought the story was going and then there was a twist at the end. The characters are over the top in an endearing way and are absolutely delightful. The stories themselves pulled me in to some very different worlds and made me laugh out loud. 

This book is a masterpiece of how the short story should be written and how words should be used to entertain. I cannot recommend it enough. It would make a fabulous present or even gift to yourself. 

The book will be available to buy in the next couple of weeks. 
Available as an e-book or as a paperback.
Purchase on Amazon or order at all good bookshops.

You can follow the author on

Facebook: Jenny Sanders - writer

Instagram: @jennysanderswriter

Blog: Dancing Through Chaos

That's it for another week Bookaholics. See you soon and, until then, keep reading and writing.