Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.
I have long been an admirer of Wendy Clarke’s short stories; she writes with great delicacy about the deep emotional truths found at the heart of seemingly everyday lives.
Christmas is a time of heightened emotion and this collection explores themes of loneliness, loss and love, all with the constant thread of the real meaning of Christmas running through.
In ‘Finding Santa’ we sympathise with a family stranded at Gatwick Airport as the festive season starts and in ‘All I Want for Christmas’ we feel for the new step-father desperately searching the shops for the elusive must-have-toy late on Christmas Eve.
The most original story of the collection in my opinion is ‘Silent Night’, but my favourite is ‘Christmas Strike’, for its humour and for the tenderness of its resolution.
So, enjoy this wonderful collection, with a mince pie and a cup of tea at your elbow!
WARNING: keep a tissue at the ready too, as Wendy Clarke really knows how to pull at the heart-strings.
Link to Silent Night on Amazon UK
My short story ‘Gloria Crumb, the Crimplene Mum’ is published today in ‘The People’s Friend Special’.
This is how I feel:
Thank you, People’s Friend, for patiently ploughing through my stories and selecting this one!
Note to writers: The People’s Friend is the most generous of magazines and so encouraging to fledgling writers. It will comment on your work and gently steer you in the right direction. Feedback from magazines is rare these days, except from The People’s Friend. They genuinely want to help you develop.
The inspiration for Gloria Crumb came many years ago from my sister. As teenagers, we shared an aversion to crimplene. We thought it was old-fashioned and used to laugh (and not always in a nice way!) at crimplene-clad characters. I filled in a coupon at the back of a magazine which promised to send you various free samples of crimplene so that you could choose the most suitable pattern to cover your sofa – but I filled it in using my sister’s name. She was naturally enough ecstatic to receive the little multi-coloured squares in the post and set about making a patchwork bag, the home for a cardboard cut out figure she named Gloria Crumm (now changed to Crumb). I came across the bag recently at the bottom of my wardrobe and decided it was time for Gloria to feature in a story.
Hope you manage to grab a copy of ‘The People’s Friend Special’ (4.1.2017) and get acquainted with ‘Gloria Crumb, the Crimplene Mum’. You can buy The People’s Friend Special 134 from today from all good newsagents – or a digital version through The People’s Friend website. https://www.thepeoplesfriend.co.uk/category/the-magazine/
Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber’s Review Team.
This wonderful collection of short stories takes six characters from Wendy Janes’ novel ‘What Jennifer Knows’ and gives each of them a canvas to themselves. The stories link back cleverly to the novel and give further insights into the characters’ lives and behaviour. Jennifer, the heroine of ‘What Jennifer Knows’, appears in every story at different points in her life. Even though the stories are entwined with the novel, they can be read as a standalone volume with great enjoyment too.
The fifth story, ‘The Perfect Family’, explores the shifting loyalties and cruelties of childhood friendship and how a child’s perception of her parents can change in a crisis.
The emotional gem, for me, is ‘What Tim Knows’. Wendy Janes has a real understanding of what it feels like for a child to be different and how this affects the behaviour and feelings of others too. The closing scene between Tim and his mother Blythe is truly heart-wrenching.
I have no hesitation in recommending this fantastic collection and hope it will send new readers in search of the novel it is so much part of.
Link to ‘What Tim Knows’ on Amazon UK
This new collection of ten short stories can be dipped into throughout your day – a bit like a box of chocolates but without the calories.
Many of the stories have soft centres but some have more bite and crunch. You will find tales of romance, family life, love and loss, friendship and cosy crime. Feast and enjoy!
Link to Irish Charm on Amazon
Link to Murder on the Tor on Amazon UK
Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber’s Review Team.
Murder on the Tor is the latest Exham on Sea Mystery by Frances Evesham. There are two previous titles and they can be read as standalones or as part of a series.
Murder on the Tor is well-paced and written in an easy conversational style. It has an intricate plot involving amber beads, a glimpse of the seventies, dangerous jealousies and homemade chocolates, all set in the glorious Devon countryside.
Our two detectives, Libby and Max, continue their tentative romance from an earlier story, while following a trail of confusing clues about a new murder. In the end, the mist lifts and the truth is revealed, not only about the Murder on the Tor, but also about Libby’s deceased husband, Trevor and his gang of crooked friends.
My favourite character has to be Bear, the gentle giant of a dog. The account of how Bear manages to help a young girl communicate is very touching.
For readers looking for a quick cosy mystery – with hidden depths – I thoroughly recommend this delightful read.
Murder on the Levels by Frances Evesham is the second book I have reviewed as part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team. I choose this book from a long list as it sounded so much fun from the book description. I wasn’t disappointed as you can see from my review below.
Murder on the Levels is a delightfully quirky cosy mystery by Frances Evesham set in the West Country.
The central character, Libby Forest, is warmly portrayed; a baker of cakes and chocolate-maker by profession, she is unwittingly drawn into a murder mystery and detective work, not for the first time.
I loved all the musical references, my favourite being Libby’s recollection of her recorder playing at school being,
“a regular series of high-pitched squeals, like a dawn chorus of cats…”
There are poisoned cyclists, cars driven badly and much too fast, pets with definite opinions, an enigmatic love-interest called Max, and various characters we suspect are not as respectable as they seem, all contributing to an enormous web of mystery and humour. Like Mandy’s tattoos, all is not as it seems, and when the resolution comes, it is as welcome as it is unexpected.
Link to Frances’ author page on Amazon
My new collection of short stories, ‘Miss Peach’s Dream’, is free to download for five days from today.
There are three quick reads in the collection.
The first introduces us to Miss Rosie Peach, a young teacher keen to sort out other people’s problems.
In ‘Best Song in the World’, Celia tries to intervene between her son and daughter-in-law; she has to revisit sad events in her own marriage in order to help the young couple.
The heroine in ‘The Lady with the Funny Hair’ has had enough – after all, even a worm will turn in the end.
At the end of the book during this free promotion, you will find the Prologue and first three chapters of my recently published musical mystery, ‘The Funny Business of Life’.