#Review 4* Hag-Seed by @MargaretAtwood @PenguinRHUK #LiteraryFiction #HogarthShakespeare

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Selected as a Book of the Year – Observer, Sunday Times, Times, Guardian, i magazine

Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other. It will boost his reputation. It will heal emotional wounds.

Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. Also brewing revenge.

After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It’s magic! But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?

My review:

Before I write this review, I have a little confession to make. Well actually two confessions. Firstly, this is my first book read, by Margaret Atwood. I know, I am ashamed of myself! But to be fair, I didn’t discover Steven King until my 20s! Secondly, I have not read The Tempest by William Shakespeare, of which the novel is largely based. The only Shakespeare, I have read is Romeo And Juliet & Macbeth. These being from my school days! There we go, Abby leaves confessional!

The novel opens with Felix, the artistic director of the Makeshiweg festival, being betrayed and uprooted from his position. I would like to say this is the only emotional pain in Felix’s life, but sadly it is not. Having lost his wife in childbirth and daughter 3 years later to meningitis. Felix is in deep emotional pain.
He vows revenge upon Tony, whom has betrayed him!

“Tony and Sal must suffer”

Felix packs up his belongings and retreats to a shanty cottage in the woods. Where he remains in exile for quite sometime…. Whilst in exile he begins to have delusions of his daughter. They empower him to seek vengeance and Felix becomes an internet stalker, of the men who have wronged him. On year nine of exile, he applies for a job at the Fletcher Correctional facility. Under the secret identity of Mr Duke, he applies for the role of running the literacy program delivered to the inmates.

Felix is accepted for the position and his role involved assignments and producing a play. Of which he chooses The Tempest, guiding and aiding the inmates to fully understand the play. I found Felix to be charismatic yet troubled and charming and likable. I began to root for Felix on his journey towards revenge. By running the program Felix meets new people, who improve his life and help him heal.
But not before he has, had his revenge……

I really enjoyed this novel and can see the huge appeal of the book to book groups. There is room for the debate of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and also the character is Felix and what guides his vendetta. I really enjoyed how cleverly written the novel is and I look forward to The Handmaids tale, which is also on my book shelves! 4*

Margaret Atwood
Authors Links:
Twitter: @MargaretAtwood


Q&A with @SpookyMrsGreen Catherine Green #Author of #VampireOfBlackpool

The Vampire of Blackpool NEW
Vampire Of Blackpool by Catherine Green


Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your new novel?

A) I am a British paranormal romance and contemporary English Gothic author, inspired by the seaside and our favourite holiday resorts here in the UK. My new novel, Vampire of Blackpool, is set in a place where I spent lots of time as a child, and continue to visit regularly now with my own children.

A contemporary English Gothic story, it tells the tale of vampire Meredith Hanson, her love interest Samantha Morris, and her rival, the vampire hunter Ryan James. The novel is strictly for an adult audience, and my vampires do not sparkle!

The vampire, the witch, and the hunter battle it out in a contemporary Gothic adventure in Northern England.

Meredith Hanson lives in Blackpool, the former Victorian holiday hotspot of Northern England. She masquerades as a reclusive author, feeding on the blood of unsuspecting tourists without remorse. Her life takes on new meaning when she meets a young witch in a local pub one evening. Despite Meredith’s cold demeanour, she finds herself oddly fascinated with Samantha Morris, and falls into an accidental relationship with the girl. It is at this time that a vampire hunter arrives in Blackpool. He is tough, he is determined, and his next target is an ancient vampire that has been spotted in the tourist town. He intends to bring her down and destroy her to save the lives of innocent humans. Will he succeed? Or will the experienced vampire seductress be the cause of his undoing?

The Vampire of Blackpool is available to order in paperback and eBook formats via Catherine’s website or you can find it in Amazon and other eBook stores.

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) I suppose the story began to surface all those years ago when I was a child. I have been fascinated with the paranormal world ever since I first learned to read, and I would always sense something “other” as I went about my daily business. Blackpool is such an intriguing place, full of vibrant personalities, an unpredictable shoreline, and the mix of old and new architecture. It seemed the perfect place for a vampire to hide, and the ideal hunting ground for fresh, human blood. I think it was already in my mind, waiting to be written, and I used NaNoWriMo as the time to do so.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) Oh, I have lots! More recently I enjoyed reading She Wolf by Elizabeth Morgan – Scottish werewolves, need I say more?! I am keen to read other British paranormal novels, because most of what I previously read was by American authors. My first experience of the genre was the Nightworld series of vampire novels by L.J. Smith when I was a teenager. They set my imagination well and truly alight! I then moved on to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, and found my way to the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series by Laurell K Hamilton.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) Oops, I already mentioned a teenage one in the previous question! As a child I loved reading books by Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. I was obsessed with the original Mallory Towers series, and the Famous Five. My favourite Roald Dahl stories were Matilda and The Witches. As I got older I enjoyed books by Judy Blume, and the Anastasia Krupnik series by Lois Lowry.

Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?

A) Putting my paperback novels on the bookshelf next to the collections by my favourite famous authors! I keep moving them around, and positioning them so that every time I walk past the bookcase, I smile to myself and enjoy a little moment of pride.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) Definitely my friends and my mum! Although she doesn’t enjoy paranormal stories, and she finds my novels quite scary, my mum will always buy a new release and talk about the books with me, even if she can’t always read them all the way through. I received inspiration for Vampire of Blackpool when I visited the town with my close friend Joanna, and she helped me to compose titles for my Redcliffe novels series. And then there is my “wifey,” Natalie, who helped create the absolutely stunning artwork that you see on the novel, and always has encouraging words on days when I struggle.

Catherine Green aka SpookyMrsGreen
Catherine Green
Author Links

Author of British paranormal romance series The Redcliffe Novels, Catherine Green was raised on books from a young age, and has happy memories of Saturday mornings spent in her small local library, devouring the contents of the shelves. Catherine has always been fascinated by the supernatural world, and it feels natural for her to write about vampires, werewolves, witches and other mystical creatures in her contemporary stories.

If you sign up to Catherine’s newsletter, she will send you a free copy of her Redcliffe short story, It’s Complicated, to introduce you to her fictional supernatural seaside town in Cornwall, England.

More recently, Catherine released her contemporary English Gothic novel, The Vampire of Blackpool. These novels will show you the darker, sexier side of our favourite British seaside resorts!

You can find Catherine in the following places:
Author blog:
Twitter page:
The Pagan Housewife Blog:

*Thank you for taking part in the Q&A on my blog, I wish you every success with your writing career.



#BlogTour #Review 4.5* #TheWintersChild by @cassandrajaneuk Cassandra Parkin @Legend_Press #NewRelease

*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review*
The Winter’s Child by Cassandra Parkin

Five years ago, Susannah Harper’s son Joel went missing without trace. Bereft of her son and then of her husband, Susannah tries to accept that she may never know for certain what has happened to her lost loved ones. She has rebuilt her life around a simple selfless mission: to help others who, like her, must learn to live without hope.

But then, on the last night of Hull Fair, a fortune-teller makes an eerie prediction. She tells her that this Christmas Eve, Joel will finally come back to her.

As her carefully-constructed life begins to unravel, Susannah is drawn into a world of psychics and charlatans, half-truths and hauntings, friendships and betrayals, forcing her to confront the buried truths of her family’s past, where nothing and no one are quite as they seem.

A ghostly winter read with a modern gothic flavour. A tale of twisted love, family secrets and hauntings.

My review:

I knew reading this novel would be eerie for me, as my youngest son is also called Joel. However, even I could not be prepared for how eerie. The novel jumps between the respective years and so we see Joel at various stages of his childhood. The descriptions of Joel at 5yrs old, matched my son to a tee. All of a sudden I felt a huge feeling of unease. So much so that I decided to finish the novel that day and only did so, in the same room as my son!

Susannah Harper is the protagonist, she is a broken and damaged soul after the disappearance of her teenage son Joel. The disappearance occurred 5yrs ago, since then Susannah has started a blog about the dangers of psychics and how they target vulnerable individuals. The novel details her own accounts of incidents with psychics, including the one that finally pushed her husband to leave her.

The novel opens at Hull fair, where a Roma fortune teller informs her that on Christmas eve she will see her son’s face again. Susannah is at the fair with her sister Melanie and her niece and nephew. Joel disappeared one day, after leaving school at lunchtime and has never been seen since. The pain, grief and anguish of the mother is evident on every page. It feels so real and I began to be absorbed by her story.
But that is exactly what she had intended………..

“This will be the last Christmas eve you’ll see his face again” Psychic

Susanah’s blog entries are scattered throughout the novel. The make for fascinating reading. There are taunting and malicious comments from the ghouls and trolls of the internet world. Also details of her relationship with her son. They offer an insight into her most inner thoughts and show how she is barely coping under the strain. Through her blog she meets local mum Jackie whose son Ryan has also gone missing. A friendship forms and it is as bizarre as it is intense. The blog details the way psychics fool people and provides points for readers to take note of.

“They thrive off our belief, we’re what keep their profession alive” Susannah

As the plot unravel we learn more about Susannah’s marriage to John, Joel’s father. We also learn there was a strange family dynamic throughout Joel’s childhood. One of competitive loving and control. We learn that Joel was an unhappy and depressed teenager, struggling with life at every turn. The novel details the day of the disappearance. The police officers who worked the case DI Armstrong (Nick) and DC Wood.

“John always loved me the best, but the one I loved the best was Joel” Susannah

When Susannah begins to have visions of Joel, everywhere she goes. Her sister Melanie fears for her sanity and urges her to seek help. Instead Susannah finds comfort in the arms of married police officer Nick. The friendship with Jackie, is intensified when Susannah tricks her into visiting psychic James O’Brien. James offers cryptic clues and misinformation, then finally he has an announcement that left me gobsmacked………..

The visions increase as Christmas approaches and I really feared for Susannah, she is a vulnerable woman, with so many untrustworthy people surrounding her.
Susannah is desperate for the truth and she wants it at any cost……..

The novel moving around Joel’s lifetime really adds to the plots depth. The confusion and mystery is on overload and this novel has ending that will rip your heart out!
*You have been warned! 4.5*

Cassandra Parkin
Authors Links:
Twitter: @cassandrajaneuk


#Review #EvilGames by @WriteAngie Angela Marsons @bookouture 5* #CrimeFiction #Series

Evil Games by Angela Marsons

The greater the Evil, the more deadly the game…

When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.

With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.

Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal.

My review:

I have heard lots about this series, from my blogger friend Sarah Hardy over at By The Letter Book Reviews. But sometimes it takes me awhile, to get round to reading a book recommendation. I am so glad I finally got round to reading the DI Kim Stone series. I now plan on buying ALL the others in the series. I must acknowledge for fairness, I started with this one, not at the start of the series. I often do this, if a specific synopsis appeals to me. Having worked in adult mental health previously for ten years, this was the perfect novel for me.
There are some amazingly on point, examples of mental health. So to my review…

I would describe this as police procedural and also very realistic. As DI Kim Stone and her team battle to solve multiple cases. I really liked Stone, as broken as she is inside, it only made me admire her more! She is savvy, feisty and ruthless in her pursuit of justice. The novel opens with her raiding a paedophiles property and taking his two young daughters into protective custody. You can feel Stone’s anger at the dire situation the young girls were placed in and she completely empathises with the victims.
She is determined to uncover everything about what took place, in Leonard Dunn’s cellar of depravity.

Across town Dr Alexander Thorne is attempting to help rape victim Ruth, heal after her brutal attack. The knowledge that her attacker has been released from prison, has caused a recent suicide attempt. Ruth is not well and desperately needs some support. Alex asks her to visualise stabbing her victim and obtaining ‘her light back’ and so the manipulation begins……..

Stone is called out to a crime scene where a convicted rapist has been found murdered. Viciously murdered in a stabbing. The reader is obviously aware of the two overlapping victims. But Stone is not, what comes next will pit these damaged women against each other. The developing mind games between Stone and Alex plays out, almost reminiscent of Batman and the joker. Both determined to break the others will.

There is a wealth of characters in the novel and many struck at my heart strings. The character of Shane, a childhood sexual abuse survivor, was heart-breaking. I began to despise Alex myself and every manipulative stunt she pulled angered me more and more. I would possibly go as far as saying she is one of the vilest characters I have ever read!

When the team discover evidence that another person was present in Leonard’s cellar, they rush to find out who. Attempting to gather information from the young victims Daisy and Louisa, proves fruitless. But then DNA evidence is uncovered, now the team just need to find a credible suspect. As Alex begins to dig into Stone’s past, Stone is returning the favour. One thing is clear, when these two finally come head to head. It is going to be, one epic showdown! The novel had me hooked from beginning to end and the author even saved an epic twist, for right at the very end. I am now off to buy the rest in this series and devour them as and when I can!
Highly recommended.
A huge bright and shiny 5*

Angela Marsons
Authors links:
Twitter: @WriteAngie

#BlogTour #GuestPost #TheRedBeachHut by Lynn Michell @InspiredQuill @LinenPressBooks

*Apologises for delayed post, I have been in hospital and therefore unable to post on my designated date. Better late than never, here it is*

The Read Beach Hut by Lynn Michell
“Their​ ​eyes​ ​met​ ​and​ ​locked.​ ​Pulling​ ​his​ ​hand​ ​from​ ​his​ ​pocket,​ ​Neville​ ​waved.​ ​Once.”
Eight​ ​year​ ​old​ ​Neville​ ​is​ ​the​ ​first​ ​to​ ​notice​ ​that​ ​the​ ​red​ ​beach​ ​hut​ ​is​ ​occupied​ ​again.
Abbott,​ ​panicked​ ​by​ ​what​ ​he​ ​believes​ ​is​ ​a​ ​homophobic​ ​cyber​ ​attack,​ ​is​ ​on​ ​the​ ​run.​ ​The hut​ ​is​ ​his​ ​refuge​ ​and​ ​shelter.
Inevitably​ ​man​ ​and​ ​boy​ ​collide.​ ​Their​ ​fleeting​ ​friendship​ ​is​ ​poignant,​ ​honest​ ​and​ ​healing. But​ ​Abbot’s​ ​past​ ​threatens​ ​to​ ​tear​ ​him​ ​away,​ ​as​ ​others​ ​watch​ ​and​ ​self-interpret​ ​what they​ ​see.
An​ ​evocative​ ​portrayal​ ​of​ ​two​ ​outsiders​ ​who​ ​find​ ​companionship​ ​on​ ​a​ ​lonely​ ​beach, Lynn​ ​Michell’s​ ​novel​ ​is​ ​about​ ​the​ ​labels​ ​we​ ​give​ ​people​ ​who​ ​are​ ​different,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​harm that​ ​ensues.


Writing Different Characters

Lynn Michell


The question asked most frequently by readers in an audience in front of a writer who has read from her novel is: ‘Is X based on you and your life?’ or ‘Is Y based on someone you know?’. Well, Yes and No. We can only write about what we have experienced, in some way, at some level, but our skill as writers is to transform those experiences, thoughts and emotions so that they transition and settle naturally into a narrative that isn’t about us. Now that’s not easy. A fair number of novels that arrive as submissions to Linen Press are authors’ life stories thinly and poorly disguised as fiction. They are of little interest, except to the writer.


How to transition to literary fiction? I think of my memory as a great big Lucky Dip of postcard images, snatches of conversation, gut felt feelings, and other detritus from the past. When I write, I probably clothe my characters with some of this rag-bag of words and pictures and feelings, but I don’t deliberately put my hand in and rummage around.


That’s forcing the issue and trying too hard and that effort will show in the prose. No, it’s more that bits and pieces float up of their own accord as I write, and only afterwards will I perhaps understand some of the connections.


In terms of the progression from youthful to mature writing, I’d guess that most of us start with what we know and later develop the confidence to invent and create characters who are unlike any we’ve known. My debut novel White Lies began with my very elderly father dictaing his memoirs as a soldier. As the present faded, so his years of active service in World War II and in Nairobi during the Mao Mao uprising became increasingly vivid and real. These were the periods of his life when he was most fully alive, doing what he was trained to do. So yes, in that novel where I explore different kinds of war and


different kinds of loving, one of my protagoists, David, is like my father, telling the story of the bloody uprising of the Mao Mao through eyes that only understand the colonial perspective. His wife, Mary, who has a passionate, adulterous affair with another officer who understands Africa, is in some ways not unlike my mother, but she isn’t her. I’ve given Mary my mother’s fragility and looks because I couldn’t imagine my father/David married to anyone who wasn’t fair and gentle but that’s where the similarity ends. Mary is herself – bold and passionate with a steeliness that allows her to defy convention and risk everything for the man she loves.


 In The Red Beach Hut, I shed all connections with myself and my past, at least

consciously and explicitly. Who knows what goes on in the subconscious depths? It happened like this: when I wrote White Lies, I thought a lot about the themes and characters and gradually sketched in the people who walk the pages and the plot line that tells their stories. Abbott and Neville, in contrast, came of their own accord, ready made. I’d be pulling out weeds or walking the dog when I’d hear them talking. I’d tune in to their thoughts. I could see their faces and what they wore. They walked along the beach and into my heart. Avril Joy says exactly the same about writing her second novel Sometimes A River Song. The voice of Aiyana, child of the river, illiterate but wise and finely tuned in to her river landscape, came to her first and she listened to her. The story came later.

05 04

 I grew to love Neville and Abbott because although not perfect they represent much that is good – honesty, trust, compassion – when they are pitted against an explicit, bitter intolerance against people who are diferent, people who don’t fit society’s narrow norms and conventions. And during the time of the 2015 General Election when the novel is set, as now, sound bites of hatred were swilling around the political landscape and being aimed at immigrants, refugees and gays. Think of Nigel Farage’s Rivers of Blood poster. Abbott and Neville are outsiders in a society that has closed its doors on anyone who is not vanilla flavoured. I want others to warm to them as I did, and accept them.

Lynn Michell
Authors links: h=true =UTF8&qid=1506877098&sr=8-1&keywords=the+red+beach+hut
Author bio:
I​ ​write,​ ​have​ ​always​ ​written,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​run​ ​​Linen​ ​Press​,​ ​a​ ​small​ ​indie​ ​press​ ​for​ ​women writers.​ ​It’s​ ​a​ ​fine​ ​balancing​ ​act​ ​but​ ​ever​ ​since​ ​I​ ​watched​ ​​Elvira Madigan,​ ​I’ve​ ​secretly wanted​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​tight​ ​rope​ ​walker. My​ ​fourteen​ ​books​ ​are​ ​published​ ​by​ ​HarperCollins,​ ​Longman​ ​and​ ​The​ ​Women’s​ ​Press and​ ​include​ ​an​ ​illustrated​ ​writing​ ​scheme​ ​for​ ​schools,​ ​and​ ​​Shattered,​ ​a​ ​book​ ​about​ ​living with​ ​ME.​ ​Those​ ​closest​ ​to​ ​my​ ​heart​ ​are​ ​fiction:​ ​​Letters To​ My Semi-Detached Son, my debut​ ​novel​ ​set​ ​in​ ​Kenya,​ ​​White Lies and​ ​my​ ​latest​ ​novel​ The Red Beach Hut. When​ ​not​ ​writing​ ​or​ ​editing,​ ​you’ll​ ​find​ ​me​ ​building​ ​a​ ​house​ ​and​ ​creating​ ​a​ ​landscape​ ​out of​ ​rocks​ ​in​ ​an​ ​oak​ ​clearing​ ​high​ ​above​ ​a​ ​small​ ​village​ ​in​ ​southern​ ​France.​ ​Hands​ ​on.