Five on Friday with Keith Foskett @KeithFoskett

Today I’m delighted to introduce Keith Foskett. After I walked the Camino Ingles in 2012 I became obsessed with all things Camino and Keith’s book on his Camino journey was one of the first I downloaded. While Keith has walked many miles since, I’m afraid I haven’t. Keith’s latest book, is a memoir called High and Low, telling how he hiked 600 miles across Scotland, while coming to terms with depression.

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Author bio:

Keith Foskett is a long-distance hiker and the author of five books on his adventures. He was born, and still lives in West Sussex, where his love of the outdoors was nurtured on the South Downs. He quit his decorating job in 2016 to concentrate on writing.


Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?


Society by Eddie Vedder  – One of my favourite movies is Into the Wild. It epitomises everything I believe in, namely chasing freedom, carving your own path, and escaping the nine to five. The lyrics reflect this, especially where he sings about materialism.

Brass in Pocket by The Pretenders – There’s no deep meaning in this song. I like it because it was the first song I heard that epitomised ‘cool’.

Up until Chrissie Hynde appeared in my life, my staple musical diet consisted of my parent’s favourites such as Max Bygraves, Frank Sinatra, and Glen Miller. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but I needed a more rebellious sound, and look, which The Pretenders offered.

Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush – I don’t know what Kate is singing about (as with most of her songs), I just like the beat and her voice.

Enola Gay by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – I was a teenager in the eighties when I started getting into music. Many genres I hated, for example punk, but I love it now. I was a dedicated new romantic, grey stay-pressed trousers, flicked blonde hair, the lot.

OMD were a favourite, and I loved Enola Gay. It wasn’t until a few years ago I discovered it’s the name of the US bomber that dropped the nuclear bomb of Hiroshima. Suddenly, despite it’s upbeat rhythm, the song became melancholic.

The Logical Song by Supertramp – I first heard of Supertramp when my sister bought their Breakfast in America album, and I liked the cover (I didn’t even know who they were).

I’ve been listening to them for years and The Logical Song was always a favourite. This is one song I just like the sound of, but the lyrics also strike a chord. They are very apt to my life, especially when I was growing up, and they helped through a harsh time in 2017.

Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.


Walking in the outdoors.  What can I tell you? It’s what I love to do, and all my books are hiking related. If I couldn’t walk, I’d go nuts. It’s my escape, where I think, how I stay fit. I need the fresh air, the sun, the headspace, and the escape. Sometimes, I need to be as far away from society as possible.

Solitude. I’ll repeat the word, solitude. When I tell people this, they assume I mean loneliness. I don’t, and there’s a big difference.

Loneliness is struggling with isolation. Solitude is being comfortable in your own company, without the need to socialise, and I need it large doses.

Coffee.  Anyone who knows me will tell you I love coffee. I can’t put my finger on it. It’s the taste obviously, the act of brewing, that’s it’s a natural food source.

Believe me, if I don’t have my coffee first thing, you don’t want to be around me!

Pets.  I love animals. I’ve always had cats and a dog when I was younger. I plan on getting a dog this year, which I haven’t done before because I was often hiking in other countries, or travelling.

I’m curious about the communication, and how they perceive us. OK, so cats just want food and somewhere warm to sleep but I still wonder what they think of us. And dogs are way more intelligent than we give them credit for.

You can’t beat the unconditional love, especially with dogs.

The summer.  I struggle with the winter, I hate the lack of light and the cold. I live for the time between April and October. Give me sun, and lots of it, I adore walking when the sun is shining.


Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?


Stop procrastinating.  If I need to make a big decision nowadays, I will weigh it up, but I’ll make that decision quicker and stick to it. When I was younger, I’d spend ages speculating on the pros and cons.

Even when I knew that something could work, I still hesitated. Now, if it feels right I do it, and most of the time my decisions work out.

Don’t put things off because you think you’re too old.  I remember in my late thirties, I wanted to have a go at being a pro-cyclist. You know, Tour de France and all that. But, I didn’t because at 38 I assumed I was too old. Now, a few years older, I kick myself because I could have.

OK, so we can’t be a football pro aged 67, but we’re capable of wonderful things, and for my life at least, age is no longer an excuse.

Make decisions with your heart, not your head. I think most of us look at life logically, not emotionally. This makes sense, I do it myself. If we’re looking at holidays, we check the climate, the cost, etc.

Sometimes, decisions and plans don’t stack up logically, but we feel compelled to do them anyway. Conversely, other things seem great in our heads, but our hearts say no.

All I can say is that my heart is usually right and I wish I’d followed that advice when I was younger.

Don’t be afraid to be creative. It pains me to see how our education system works. Our kids are gently ushered towards ‘safe’ careers. Often our parents point us towards the logical employment choices.

The consequence is many of us are in jobs we detest, I was for years. I love what I do because it’s creative. Many people view working creatively as risky, and it is, but the rewards are greater.

I go back to the point above, working as a writer was a heart decision and I always encourage others to follow their creative passion. It often works out.

Listen to others, but make your life your ownI was easily swayed by others when I grew up. I thought everyone else knew better than I did, and a lot of the time they did. But, I wished I’d chased my dreams more.


Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.

I listen to Max Bygraves. Just kidding. Interesting question!

I power nap. I reach mid-afternoon and fade; my concentration leaves me and I tire. I power nap for 30 minutes most days and I’ve got it down to such an art that I can time it without an alarm, to within a minute.

It feels fantastic afterwards. The Japanese encourage afternoon rest because it’s proven to increase productivity.

I suffer from depression. You might know this because my new book is about depression but I only made it public knowledge last year.

I’d unknowingly suffered for several years before finally realising in 2016. I’m aware of the factors in my life that cause it, and I’ve made positive steps to avoid them, which in turn, has made me a better person.

In a weird way, depression has actually helped me.

I meditate. I missed the meditation thing. You know how we go through life and some things completely evade us, like a great movie we never heard about? Well, that was me and meditation.

I started meditating to help with my depression, but found that I could also escape my head noise, as I call it. My head buzzes with ideas, most of them completely irrelevant. Occasionally I need to empty my head of everything, and the only way I can shut it up is by meditating. The peace and quiet up there is incalculable!

Nutrition fascinates me. I love cooking and my diet is pretty healthy because it makes me feel great, and I’m looking after my body. It’s amazing how certain foods can help us, and I’m constantly trying new things.

I’m interested in the unexplainable. UFO’s, the paranormal, witches, you name it. If science can’t explain something, it fascinates me. I’d love to write a book about Wicca especially, travelling around the UK meeting those who still practice it. I’d like to know if it can help us, if spells truly work and if there’s any satanic connections.


What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?


A Border Collie. I plan on ticking this one in 2018. My travels put me off getting a dog but now I have no major travel plans, I want a one, and it has to be a Collie.

Live on a narrow boat. With the price of property in the UK, especially where I live, I have little choice. I had a mortgage when I was younger, but I sold the place and have struggled to buy anywhere since. For the price of a house deposit in south-east England, I can buy a narrow boat.

I love the simplicity, the space to have only what you need, and the adventure opportunities are endless!

Have a property abroad where I can escape to in winter. This goes back to my love of the summer and escaping the winter. If I’m ever lucky enough to afford another place to live, I’d do it. Probably southern Spain, somewhere with a warmer climate over winter.

Have a beer and a chat with Nicholas Crane. This man single-handedly got me travelling and writing. As a teenager, I watched him on Blue Peter, mesmerised as he talked about plans to run in the Himalayas. He cycled up Kilimanjaro, and hiked some amazing routes, including from Spain to Turkey which took 18 months.

In my mind, his name should be in the dictionary under ‘wanderlust’. His adventures encouraged me to follow mine.

Write a book in a different genre. I write hiking memoirs, and I love that because it’s my passion, so I hope my writing shines.

However, I have a good imagination as well so I’d like to write fiction. Plus, there’s always the book about wicca.


A few words from Keith.

I admit to having an idiot moment when I first read the questions, I couldn’t understand why they all started with ‘What are the first five things’, or ‘Highlight five things’. I thought there can’t have been much effort going into those questions, until I read the title – Five on Friday.

Like I say, one of my idiot moments!

Many thanks to Jill for asking me take part. Interesting exercise! Funny how I can happily knock out 100,000 words for a book, then get stumped by a few questions, it wasn’t easy!


Thanks for taking part Keith, and I’m pleased they proved to be not so effortless as you first thought. I will admit to my own idiot moment when I read Nicholas Crane and actually thought of Nicholas Cage! – I couldn’t understand why on earth you’d want a beer and a chat with him (apologies if you actually wouldn’t mind). I’m hoping you get your dog soon, life is so much more fun with a four legged companion.  I also know someone selling a doer upper narrow boat if you need a challenge as well as boat!  With your interest in witches you might be interested to know that technically I am one, though not of the Wicca persuasion. I only discovered recently that any female who has completed the Lyke Wake Walk is called a witch!

  o – 0 – o

Keith’s Books 

High and LowHigh and Low – see my review here

Depression threw him off course. A detour set his wilder side free.

An amusing and life-affirming travel memoir, concluding with tips for managing depressive episodes.

Keith Foskett refused to let his dark mood define his limitations. Unknowingly suffering with depression, he took to hiking the wilds of Scotland to face the inner demons that threatened to gnaw him to the bone. From the craggy Highlands of the Cape Wrath Trail and West Highland Way, to the canals criss-crossing the low country, 600 miles of unforgiving hiking terrain called his name.

Keith repositioned his compass to what really matters in life. As laughter became his travelling companion, he discovered that when dealing with emotional baggage, it’s best to pack light. Pushing his mind and body past breaking point, his journey could set a brave new course for coping with depression.

Battling ferocious weather, the ubiquitous Scottish midge, strange-sounding local delicacies and substandard TV sets, this is one man’s battle to conquer the wilds of Scotland, and his own psychological demons.


travelled-farTravelled Far – see my review here

Adventure addict Keith Foskett adores travel and the outdoors. A veteran of El Camino de Santiago in Spain, the Pacific Crest, Appalachian Trail and more, he follows a different lifestyle. Adventure and chasing dreams come first, convention and acceptance are second.
In this book he shares a collection of trips, thoughts and observations from his award-winning blog. From the extremes of the New Mexico wilderness to his beloved South Downs in England, he observes the world with clarity, hope, daydreams and humour.
With tales of local history, the changing of the seasons, facing death and pursuing his chosen path, this is a glimpse into one man’s unfaltering passion to follow his dreams.


Balancing on BlueBalancing on Blue

Short-listed for Outdoor Book of the Year by The Great Outdoors Magazine

Every year thousands of adventurers attempt to hike all 2,180 miles of the gruelling and unforgiving Appalachian Trail. Around five months later, beaten and bruised, those who finish are known as thru-hikers.

Keith Foskett weaves a true-life tale that’s as thought-provoking as it is entertaining. Accompanied by an array of eclectic characters – including a world-champion juggler, a drug dealer, and a sex-starved builder from Minnesota – he takes the reader on a compelling adventure that pushes the limits of both endurance and imagination.

During his five months living in the woods, Foskett’s psychological apprehensions are stretched to the limit against the wild elements of nature. By turns humorous and harrowing, his journey allows him to overcome his fears while reflecting on the man he’s meant to be. His adventure weaves a route through some of America’s wildest landscapes and history, and is told with insight, humour and reflection.

Perhaps he too will tame the most renowned long-distance hiking trail in the world, and emerge as a thru-hiker.


last EnglishmanThe Last Englishman

There are few who can walk a thousand miles in Keith Foskett’s shoes. One can easily forgive such unwillingness considering the places his legs have carried him.

Across arid, desolate expanses of scorching heat, the magnificence of the Sierra Nevada, and the dense forests of Oregon and Washington, those who dare tackle the Pacific Crest Trail find there’s no room for complacency when facing the extremes of the elements.

However, within the heart of a hiker lives the soul of a writer. One who can easily translate the awe-inspiring and often humbling moments of life on the trail into a powerful, honest, and light-hearted tale of desperation, perseverance, and spirit.

Discover the wonder of the Pacific Crest Trail that so many aspire to but so few prevail as you journey across all 2,640 miles from Mexico to Canada. Witness the fear as he battles a phobia of bears, snakes, spiders, and camping in the woods after dark.

With the harshest winter for years looming, be by his side as he enters into a desperate race against time, facing a dangerous, physical and very real threat to become the last Englishman to complete the greatest long distance hiking trail on Earth.


Journey in BetweenThe Journey in Between

El Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way, is the fabled path that weaves through French and Spanish countryside for 1,000 miles to its hallowed destination at Santiago de Compostella.

Thousands attempt to hike its entirety each year: some succeed, many fail.

Keith Foskett found himself at a crossroads, sensing his life was about to change. But, until a chance meeting with a stranger in a Greek bar, he didn’t know which path to take.

A week later, he found himself at the start of El Camino, and began a journey that would change him. Along the way he made friends with fellow pilgrims from all over the world, all travelling for their own different reasons.

From the pain of blisters and extremes of temperature to encountering kleptomaniacs, fake faith healers and being threatened with arrest in Spain for ‘not sleeping’, his hike was far from normal.

This is the story of one man’s walk, but it speaks to all who see life itself as a journey and are alive to the revelations that an escape to nature can bring. Written with insight, observation and a healthy dose of humour.

As this book shows, it is rarely the start and the finish that count, but the journey in between.


You can find Keith hanging out here:












Hello from the other side … of chemotherapy


Emily Dickinson quote

Well it’s been a while since I updated this blog and I think that probably tells you all you need to know about the effects of my change of chemotherapy. My last update was dated the 17th Dec and I had my next chemo on 22nd December. After I’d had my third round of epirubicin and cyclophosphamide I said to my chemo nurse that I wasn’t looking forward to the change as the side effects looked far worse than I’d already experienced. With a straight face (and no nose growth whatsoever) he said, ‘oh no – this one is far worse, the next one is easier’ – what a bloody liar he turned out to be.

If omens are anything to go by, anything that could go wrong, did go wrong, before the fated change of chemo on 22nd. It started the evening before when I checked my appointment card again and spotted I’d been given a chair time earlier than the blood time, this can’t happen as chemo can’t go ahead until they’ve got the blood results. A quick call to The Christie didn’t offer any enlightenment as they couldn’t access my records, they thought the most logical scenario was that the times had been transposed so to get to The Christie for 10 a.m . Of course it wasn’t that simple, when we arrived I was informed I should have been there at 8 a.m. so I was running well late. Even with  fast tracked blood results I didn’t get into the chair (or as it happened this time – a bed) until 2 p.m. No worries I thought, until they informed me my Herceptin injections would also be starting that day and that came with a 6 hour observation period – oh joy. It was to get worse, I thought that as I’d got my Hickman line in, it would be given via the line – silly me! As my oncologist had originally requested it before my line was inserted, it was down to be administered subcutaneously and so they couldn’t go against that instruction – aaaaargh.   The Herceptin injection takes 3-5 minutes (yes minutes) and bloody stings. My saving grace was they had the radio on and it coincided with them playing Enrique Iglesias – cue quick fantasy to take my mind off it – have to say it sort of worked.

Herceptin is a requirement for me, because my cancer is one of the 20% that is HER2 positive, unfortunately these cancers have a tendency to grow faster, are more likely to  spread and also to come back – all good news then!  Herceptin or Trastuzumab is a targeted, adjuvant therapy that blocks the ability of the cancer cells to receive chemical signals that tell the cells to grow. It is given every three weeks, for 18 cycles, so this will carry on until just before Christmas 2018.

Following the injection I was duly hooked up to the drip to take my poison, and thankfully there were no immediate reactions to the chemo. What followed was then a pretty boring 5 hours of lying around – allegedly under observation. I say allegedly because on the odd occasion I had cause to call a nurse (usually because the chemo bag had finished) I was singularly unimpressed with the response time. The junior doctor sat at the desk directly in my eye line and about 10 feet away, didn’t even lift his head – clearly beneath his pay grade to look and make sure it wasn’t an emergency, allergic reaction to the Herceptin.  The biggest excitement of the day was when I started seeing little white blobs out of the corner of my eye ‘running’ across the floor. No-one had heard of that as a side effect so another first for me. I left the hospital at 8 p.m. and was home by 9 p.m. definitely ready for my bed.

The perceived wisdom with Docetaxel (Taxotere) is that the side effects don’t hit for a day or so – well that was spot on, as the tingling in my hands and feet started on Saturday evening, unfortunately this heralded the start of what I didn’t want which was peripheral neuropathy. By Sunday I’d also acquired joint/bone/muscle pain the like of which I’d never felt before – it was agony.  Take paracetamol the literature said – well I might as well have been eating Smarties. By Monday (Christmas Day), I’d dug out the Codeine Phosphate I’d been prescribed after surgery and started to mix that with paracetamol – nothing, didn’t even touch the pain.  By Boxing Day desperation had set in, the pain is not only debilitating, but it also means no sleep and for the first time in this process I just wanted anything to make it stop. I’ve never thankfully been hit by a bus, but if I had, I imagined it would feel like this. Even going to the toilet was fraught because If I sat down I couldn’t get up, my knees just couldn’t stand it. The side effects of the previous chemotherapy, faded into insignificance compared to this. I was also still having my daily stomach injections administered by the District Nurse, and the side effects from this just compounded the pain.  We rang The Christie hotline at 10.30 a.m. and hung on for an hour until we got a reply, which merely suggested we ring 111 – what!! So 3/4 of an hour on the line to 111 before the line went dead and we had to start again. After another hour we got a reply which said they’d pass my details onto a local team. Mid afternoon we got a call back asking for full details of the problem and a promise that we’d get a call back. That call back, when it came, wasn’t worth the wait. At 5.40 p.m. we were told, they had no strong painkillers on site, the chemists were due to close at 6.p.m. so ring a GP tomorrow. The parting shot of – “call us back if things got worse”, should have elicited the response “what would be the bloody point”, but I must have been ill, as I didn’t even have the energy to say that.

At least my GP next day, came up trumps and prescribed Tramadol, which my OH was able to collect for me.  By now, I was also suffering from the usual constipation, which always makes me nauseous, though the difference this time is I was actually sick and that continued for next couple of days, which totally put me off eating. By Friday, the pain had started to ease, it also meant a visit from the District Nurse with the last of my stomach injections and to flush/clean my Hickman line. After the way the week had gone, I should have been forewarned, it transpired my nurse couldn’t flush the line as their was a blockage. A quick call to The Christie and we had to bundle ourselves into the car and drive to Manchester for the blood department to attempt to clear the blockage. Unsurprisingly they managed to flush it, without difficulty so it was back in the car and home from a two and a half hour trip we could have done without. This had not been my best week.

Over the following week, while the main muscle joint pain lessened during the day, it came back with a vengeance at night. The nearest thing I can liken it to is Restless Leg Syndrome and meant I was still taking the Tramadol to try to get some sleep. Other interesting side effects was the loss of my eyelashes, my toe nails turning black, my finger nails becoming ridged and discoloured, chemo cough and nose bleeds – who knew!!

I’d like to say that after this first round of the chemotherapy change, I was better able to manage the side effects going forward. Sadly I wasn’t and the effects really took their toll after the next two sessions. Each cycle saw a repeat of the previous one, with the tiredness and fatigue being compounded as time passed. While I’d been able to work 2 weeks out of 3 under the first 3 cycles, this time I was lucky to work 1/2 a week out of three. I couldn’t get out of bed before lunch time and to be honest, if I wasn’t doing my damnedest to get some work done, I’d have stayed there.  When I saw my Breast Cancer Nurse at a  routine appointment to discuss my forthcoming radiotherapy treatment she was shocked when she saw me and dispatched me off for blood tests and an x-ray to make sure there wasn’t anything sinister causing the constipation, on the day I saw her, it had been 8 days since any movement.  My OH found it amusing that she came out to the waiting room and said to him “Jill’s not well you know” – well tell him something he didn’t know, he’s been the one that’s had to witness the being sick, the pain, the inability to eat and drink, the inability to walk and on ocassion the tears. The only good news was that the 2nd February saw the last of my chemotherapy cycles.

The fact that it’s now the 17th March before I’ve felt well enough to attempt an update is also indicative of how long it has taken to shake off the fatigue and some of the side effects. I’d like to say that things are getting back to normal, but that’s not the case. There is a misconception that once chemotherapy is finished, you get through the usual side effects and start to improve. Sadly that is not always the case. My current normal is a far cry from how I was before I started this process. I’m still bald (though delighted to report what just about passes as stubble is starting to appear), I have no eyebrow and eyelashes which means my eyes are usually red rimmed, watery and prone to styes. My nose is often sore as it’s constantly running (due to loss of nasal hair), though thankfully the nose bleeds have stopped. I now walk with a stick due to the constant pins and needles/numbness in my feet and toes caused by nerve damage. As I can’t feel my feet when walking I have a tendency to trip. The neuropathy, which also affects my fingers, should improve within months (however, if I’m unlucky it could be permanent). Insomnia is a regular problem, largely due to the leg aches and pains which tend to materialise at night – this means I’m still on the Tramadol, which doesn’t always help with the sleep but guarantees it takes me ages to wake up the next day. If I’m up before midday it’s a good day. I still have problems with heartburn, not helped by the fact I’m still not eating properly, I can manage muesli for breakfast, force myself to eat lunch (about half of what I used to eat) but by the evening I’m not interested in food, often because I feel sick. This latter is often because the constipation has hit again.

On the plus side, I’ve found I’ve been able to read a bit more – this can only be a good thing. I have so many books on my review pile though it will take a long time, before I work my way through them – I will get there, but in my own time.

Now that I’m back on the update loop, you might find shorter gaps between the next few posts and hopefully they won’t be as long.


High and Low by Keith Foskett – 4*s #review @KeithFoskett

High and Low


Depression threw him off course. A detour set his wilder side free.

An amusing and life-affirming travel memoir, concluding with tips for managing depressive episodes.

Keith Foskett refused to let his dark mood define his limitations. Unknowingly suffering with depression, he took to hiking the wilds of Scotland to face the inner demons that threatened to gnaw him to the bone. From the craggy Highlands of the Cape Wrath Trail and West Highland Way, to the canals criss-crossing the low country, 600 miles of unforgiving hiking terrain called his name.

Keith repositioned his compass to what really matters in life. As laughter became his travelling companion, he discovered that when dealing with emotional baggage, it’s best to pack light. Pushing his mind and body past breaking point, his journey could set a brave new course for coping with depression.

Battling ferocious weather, the ubiquitous Scottish midge, strange-sounding local delicacies and substandard TV sets, this is one man’s battle to conquer the wilds of Scotland, and his own psychological demons.


My Review

Since I undertook The Lyke Wake Walk, as a green and under prepared schoolgirl, I’ve had a penchant for walking over the years. While these days, my walks tend to be limited to circular pub walks, I enjoy reading about the endeavours of others and with High and Low I was not disappointed Joining Keith on the Cape Wrath Trail and West Highland Way was a journey of discovery in more ways than one.

The book is more than just a travel memoir recounting the physical journey. It’s offers an engaging and informative insight into the history, geography and even gastronomy of the area he’s walking. We get to meet the locals and other walkers, discover the etiquette of walking and get to see inside a variety of bunk houses and bothies. But most of all we get to appreciate the miles covered in all their glorious highs and miserable lows. All walkers, be they intrepid or fair weather, can recognise the euphoria of turning the corner to meet the perfect view on a sunny day, or conversely  can empathise with the miserable monotony of putting one sodden foot in front of the other on a miserable “why am I doing this” day.

When I read Keith’s last book Travelled Far, I came away with the impression of a man, who came to life and only really felt comfortable in his own skin when walking. This book challenged those impressions as the journey that Keith undertook was mental as well as physical. It was while on this walk that Keith comes to understand and accept that he suffers from depression. It’s not always comfortable reading but it’s truthful and honest. Once back at home and coming to terms with his diagnosis, Keith sets about generating a strategy for coping. His strategy if I’m honest, offers a blueprint for coping with life, which is valid for anyone, with or without depression as it acknowledges the important things in life.

For an intelligent read, that offers an insight into both the man and his walking endeavours,  you won’t go wrong in picking up High and Low.




Five on Friday with Kate Field @katehaswords

Today I’m happy to announce that Kate Field is joining us for Five on Friday. I have Kate’s books patiently waiting on my mountainous Kindle tbr.  I’m hoping that after learning more about Kate, and her books, you’ll also be tempted to read them – hopefully a bit quicker than me!



Author Biography:-

Kate writes contemporary women’s fiction, mainly set in her favourite county of Lancashire, where she lives with her husband, daughter and hyperactive cat. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Kate’s debut novel, The Magic of Ramblings, won the RNA’s Joan Hessayon Award for new writers in 2017.


Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?


‘Take on Me’ by a-ha. It came out when I was a teenager and the whole package – a catchy song, imaginative video, and handsome Norwegian men – hooked me like no other music had done up to that point. I became a huge fan, buying every record, joining the fan club, and collecting every copy of Smash Hits in which they appeared. I still listen to a-ha, much to my daughter’s disgust.

‘Love is all Around’ by Wet Wet Wet. This song makes me think of my wedding, back in the 1990s. It was only a small do, with no evening reception, so there was no first dance or anything like that. But the day before the wedding, I watched ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ for the first time with my bridesmaid, and the soundtrack featured this song. I remember watching the film and thinking, ‘Crikey, this is actually happening’ – in a good way, of course!

‘17 Again’ by the Eurythmics. One of our first holidays as a married couple was spent driving round the Kent and Sussex countryside listening to the album ‘Peace’ that featured this song. Although it was a long time ago, it’s one of the holidays I remember most clearly. I was writing my first novel at the time, a Regency romance, and spent many hours sitting in a wing-back leather chair in an old barn thick with cobwebs, scribbling away.

‘The Wheels on the Bus’. My daughter was very late to start talking, although she communicated effectively with a series of noises and gestures. One day, when she was almost three, we were sitting at a table sticking and gluing when I heard an indistinct but recognisable version of Wheels on the Bus drift across the table. It was an incredible moment.

‘Tonight we Fly’ by The Divine Comedy. I love The Divine Comedy’s music – the soaring melodies, and the way they can tell a complete story in a song – but this is one of my favourites. I particularly like the last few lines about not missing out as this life is the best we have.


Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.

Books. It has to be the top answer. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t read, and I can’t imagine a time in the future when I won’t.

Ribena. I don’t drink tea or coffee, so this is my drink of choice. There’s something extremely comforting about a hot Ribena on a cold day.

Holidays. We try to have at least two every year, three if we’re lucky. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy – quite often we hole up in a tiny cottage in the UK, dodging rain showers – but getting away from the routine of daily life, and seeing somewhere different, always leaves me feeling more cheerful and inspired.

Hair straighteners. I wish they had been invented when I was a teenager. It would have saved a lot of angst!

Pen and paper. I like the physical act of writing, of seeing words produced on the page, even if it’s nothing more interesting than a shopping list.


Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?

Don’t be so self-conscious. No one is looking at you.

Don’t put off having a family because you’re busy at work and the boss wouldn’t like it.

Talk properly to your grandparents. Ask them about their lives before it’s too late.

Don’t let shyness limit what you do and who you meet.

Ignore the hairdresser who wants to cut your hair short and layered. It will never grow back properly.


Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.

I was born with ‘clicky hips’, which means that my hips hadn’t developed fully before I was born. I spent the first months of my life with my legs in plaster, fixed in a V shape, and my dad had to adapt the furniture so I could lie in a cot and sit in a chair. There are no photos of me from those early months, so I often used to wonder if I’d been adopted!

Continuing the health theme, I suffered a knee injury in my first year at secondary school, and wasn’t able to join in with PE for the rest of my time at school. I had to spend PE lessons  helping the librarian instead – no hardship for a bookish, unsporty child!

My nickname at primary school was ‘shrimp’, as I blushed so often that I was always pink. It’s not something I’ve ever grown out of.

Both my parents are only children, so I have no aunts, uncles or cousins. I’ve always wished I could have belonged to a large family.

I have an A level in Latin. It hasn’t proved particularly useful so far.


What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?

To see the Northern Lights.

To visit the Scilly Isles.

To spend a month living in London, visiting the museums and galleries, going to the theatre and concerts, walking in the parks, and generally seeing what city life is like.

To volunteer at a stately home.

To own a Mulberry handbag.


Thanks so much for sharing with us Kate. I’m with you om holidays – they don’t have to be grand or exotic but just a break from the daily routine. As a teenager I insisted a hairdresser cut my waist length hair, short and layered like David Cassidy’s – not my best idea I should have had some-one to better advise me (though I suspect I wouldn’t have listened). I suspect lots of us also wished we could have ditched PE to help in the library. Good luck with your bucket list – I’d like to see the Northern Lights too.  


   o – 0 – o

Kate’s Books 


Truth about you, me and usThe Truth about, You, Me and Us

Sometimes the hardest person to be honest with is yourself…

Five years ago Helen Walters walked out on her ‘perfect’ life with the ‘perfect’ man. Wealthy, glamorous and bored, she longed for something more.

Now a talented artist with a small business, Helen creates crazy patchwork crafts to support her young daughter, Megan. Penniless, content and single, she is almost unrecognisable.

But when her past unexpectedly collides with her new life, Helen finds herself torn. She knows what the easiest choice is, but is it what she wants?


Magic of RamblingsThe Magic of Ramblings

Running away can be the answer if you run to the right place…

When Cassie accepts a job as companion to Frances, an old lady living in a remote Lancashire village, she hopes for a quiet life where she can forget herself, her past and most especially men. The last thing she expects is to be drawn into saving a community that seems determined to take her to its heart – and to resuscitate hers…

Frances has lived a reclusive life at Ramblings, a Victorian Gothic mansion, for many years. So why now does she advertise for a companion and welcome strangers into her house?

Barney is hiding away at Ramblings, forging a new life as a farmer after his medical career ended in scandal. He doesn’t trust the mysterious woman who comes to live with his rich aunt, especially when she starts to steal Frances’ affection – and maybe his own too…

Can love, friendship, and the magic of Ramblings overcome the secrets of the past and unlock a brighter future?


You can keep up to date with Kate via

Twitter @katehas words


Bookchoice selection for March @BookchoiceEN

I first came across Bookchoice in December courtesy of when it was offering a free trial. Well you know me, a free, no obligation trial of ebooks and audio-books was always going to be taken up. Initially, I’ll admit I was just interested in the freebies but I was really impressed with the range and quality of book choices and so I signed up in January.

You may well be asking by now, what is Bookchoice as you’ve not heard of it. Well it has been around since 2014, when it was launched in the Netherlands, however it only launched in the UK in November last year. Described as “the digital book service in your pocket” it selects eight e-books and audiobooks  for £3.99 a month. Yes, you read that correctly £3.99 a month (payable annually in advance). Every month the Bookchoice team selects a range of titles  – from bestsellers and award-winners to the latest literary hits and sends them direct to your email inbox.  Where books are offered in e-book and audiobook format, the offer isn’t for one or the other – it’s for both!!

background article published by the Bookseller in January gives you a broader picture of Bookchoice’s ethos and aims.

So, here’s what March had to offer, and even though I already had several of the titles in e-book format I still think it represents excellent value for money, particularly in regard to the audio-book offerings.


Titles in both e-book and audio-book format. 



21st Century Yokel – Tom Cox


A charming mix of memoir and nature writing by the bestselling author of The Good, the Bad and the Furry

Following Tom Cox as he wanders through the Devon countryside, 21st Century Yokel is a wittily told tale of traditional folklore, family life and the links we have to the landscapes around us.

Filled with animals, dear friends and laugh-out-loud anecdotes, join Tom as he navigates one of the most rural and breath-taking counties of England, illustrated with his own landscape photographs. 

Ebook: 416 pages / 16.6 MB        Audiobook: 11 hours / 151.6 MB



Beforelife – Randal Graham


A whip-smart satire that asks – what if you ended up in heaven and no one believed in Earth?

When a train hits Ian Brown as he waits on the platform, he thinks his life is all over. That’s it. The end.

But when he awakens in the afterlife, he begins a whole new chapter of his life – or death, if we’re being particular.

There’s only one problem; everyone in the afterlife is convinced this is it. That there was never a “beforelife” and Ian’s memories of his beloved wife, Penelope, are not real. Struggling to find his place in the afterlife and determined to be reunited with Penelope, Ian must deal with a cast of famous and infamous characters to prove that the beforelife is real.

Ebook: 456 pages / 2.7 MB      Audiobook: 15 hours / 484.8 MB



Punishment – Anne Holt


The first instalment in the Vik/Stubo series by Norway’s bestselling female crime writer – for fans of Jo Nesbo and Stieg Larsson.

Three children are taken. All at different times, all seemingly unconnected. One by one their small bodies are returned to their families.

The police need to know everything they can about the kidnapper, and they approach former FBI profiler Johannes Vik. At first she is reluctant to help, but this case is more than what it seems – the children have all been returned with a note, ‘You got what you deserved’. 

The media is enthralled, the police are baffled, but time is running out… 

Ebook: 416 pages / 1 MB      Audiobook: 11 hours / 356.2 MB



The Marrying of Chani Kaufman – Eve Harris


A witty portrait of modern Orthodox Jewish London, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

Chani and Baruch have met three times. Four, if you include the occasion of his proposal. Now they face each other at their wedding ceremony. 

The Rabbi’s wife teaches young women what it is to be a good wife. But within the bounds of her own marriage, Chani is no longer sure what exactly that means.

As one relationship is beginning, another is changing. Harris opens up a closed community in a rich portrait of ritual, restriction and rebellion, and the roles of family and faith in modern life. 

Ebook: 350 pages / 875.6 KB      Audiobook: 11 hours / 340 MB



The Sewing Machine – Natalie Fergie

 Historical fiction

An extraordinarily moving debut about family heritage, for fans of The Keeper of Lost Things and Lost for Words

1911. An incident at the Singer textile factory forces the workers to go on strike. For Jean, life and work as she knows it will never be the same again. With the war looming, she struggles daily with rationing, poverty and fear.

2010. A hundred years later and following the death of his grandfather, Fred begins to discover his family’s history and unpicks the stories of his ancestors, one stitch a a time.

The Sewing Machine is a multi-generational narrative documenting the challenges and heartbreaks faced in some of the most important decades of the past century.

Ebook: 320 pages / 1.2 MB      Audiobook: 9 hours / 142 MB


E-book Only Titles



Snowblind – Ragnar Jonasson


The first Dark Iceland novel, perfect for fans of Jo Nesbo and Jussi Adler-Olsen

Driving through the tunnel to Siglufjördur, Ari Thor Arason can’t shake a feeling of unease. It settles as he emerges into a landscape of blinding snow. And he’s hardly begun to settle in to the tiny police force before the 24-hour light of the arctic summer cedes to unrelenting darkness. But nothing ever happens here, or so he thinks. 

An unconscious woman lies bleeding in the snow. A man tumbles to his death down the steps of the local theatre. And it seems that every door that Arason’s investigation brings him to only leads deeper into the secrets of this isolated community. 

Ebook: 300 pages / 601.1 KB



The House at the End of Hope Street – Menna van Praag


A charming novel about the power of self-belief, for fans of Stephanie Butland’s Lost for Words

Finding herself lost, alone and at the door of 11 Hope Street in Cambridge, Alba Ashby doesn’t know how much her life is about to change. Welcomed in by the wonderful and wise Peggy Abbott, Alba is invited to stay, on one condition: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around.

Alba soon learns that some of the most inspirational women in history have ‘found’ themselves after spending time at this magical address and now it’s her turn to uncover the magic of 11 Hope Street.

Ebook: 293 pages / 457.9 KB



The Many – Wyl Menmuir

 Literary fiction

Part murder mystery, part surrealist drama, a story you won’t soon forget. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016

Timothy has just moved from the city to an isolated coastal town, where he buys a house previously owned by the recently deceased Perra and finds himself being watched suspiciously by the locals. Ethan is a fisherman who mourns Perra’s death, while fearing for his livelihood, as thousands of dead fish wash up on shore. 

As he struggles to get closer to the truth, Timothy finds himself lost in a world where the line between reality and nightmares is increasingly blurred. Perfect for fans of English gothic novels and Twin Peaks alike. 

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016
Observer Best Fiction of 2016
Den of Geek Top Books of 2016 

Ebook: 143 pages / 1.3 MB


Audio-book Only Titles



Capital – John Lanchester

Literary fiction

The Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller and BBC mini-series – a witty reflection of daily life in 21st-Century London

Everyone who lives on Pepys Road knows they’re lucky to live there: a banker and his shopaholic wife, an elderly woman dying of a brain tumour, the Pakistani family who run the local shop, the young football star from Senegal and his minder.

Then one day they each receive an anonymous postcard that says: We want what you have.

In the months that follow, the residents are all affected in different ways as they strive to unfold the mystery of these messages, while also dealing with the aftermath of the financial crash that leaves no one untouched.

Audiobook: 18 hours / 495.9 MB



Insidious Intent – Val McDermid


The latest heart-stopping instalment from the queen of crime’s Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series

When a burned body and car are discovered on a quiet country road, DCI Carol Jordan and psychological profiler Tony Hill are brought in to dig deeper. It soon becomes clear that this was no accident, and that the murderer they’re desperately trying to track down has an even more elaborate plan than anyone first guessed. A gripping story with a shocking ending.

Audiobook: 10 hours / 203.1 MB



We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

Literary fiction

The book club favourite, million-copy bestseller, and Man Booker Prize nominee

Rosemary’s young, just at college, and she’s decided not to tell anyone a thing about her family. So we’re not going to tell you too much either: you’ll have to find out for yourselves, what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other.

Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone – vanished from her life. There’s something unique about Rosemary’s sister, Fern. And it was this decision, made by her parents, to give Rosemary a sister like no other, that began all of Rosemary’s trouble. So now she’s telling her story: full of hilarious asides and brilliantly spiky lines, it’s a looping narrative that begins towards the end, and then goes back to the beginning. Twice.

It’s funny, clever, intimate, honest, analytical and swirling with ideas that will come back to bite you. We hope you enjoy it, and if, when you’re telling a friend about it, you do decide to spill the beans about Fern – it’s pretty hard to resist – don’t worry. One of the few studies Rosemary doesn’t quote says that spoilers actually enhance reading.

This is one of those books that every reader just has to try for themselves and make up their own minds about. It’s original, inventive, funny and surprising, beloved by the critics, and with a twist so good we don’t even want to hint at it.

Audiobook: 9 hours / 128.6 MB


A pretty impressive selection for £3.99 I think. If you want to take a look at Bookchoice you can find them here.  I would like to make it clear that I have no affiliation with Bookchoice, I’m choosing to share this with you, purely because I think it’s a great subscription package.

February Book Haul

Rather than post weekly (which so far this year I haven’t been managing) I’ve decided to make it a monthly feature. As I often buy books that have been on offer it means that by the end of the month, those offers may well have finished Can I suggest that anyone wanting to pick up on any offers follows me on Facebook where I post most days.

Kindle Purchases

(My total purchase price for month £10.98)


After Leaving the VillageAfter Leaving the Village by Helen Matthews

Two women. Two villages. Different destinies. Odeta’s life has shrunk to a daily round of drudgery, running her father’s grocery store in a remote Albanian village. One day a stranger from Tirana walks into the shop and promises her a new career in London. Odeta’s life is about to change, but not in the way she expected. 
Journalist Kate lives on a quiet London street and seems to have a perfect life but she worries about her son Ben, who struggles to make friends. Kate blames the internet and disconnects her family from the online world so they can get to know their neighbours. On a visit to her home village in Wales, Kate is forced to confront a secret from her past. But greater danger lies closer to home. Perhaps Kate’s neighbours are not the friendly community they seem.


Effie GrayEffie Gray by Suzanne Fagence Cooper

TIE-IN EDITION FOR THE NEW FILM STARRING EMMA THOMPSON The Scottish beauty Effie Gray is the heroine of a great Victorian love story. Married at 19 to John Ruskin, she found herself trapped in an unconsummated union. She would fall in love with her husband’s protégé, John Everett Millais, and inspire some of his most memorable art, but controversy and tragedy continued to stalk her. Suzanne Fagence Cooper has gained exclusive access to Effie’s family letters and diaries to show the rise and fall of the Pre-Raphaelite circle from a new perspective, through the eyes of a woman whose charm and ambition helped to shape the careers of both her husbands. Effie Gray is a compelling portrait of the extraordinary woman behind some of the greatest paintings of the Victorian era.


Runaway WifeThe Runaway Wife by Dee MacDonald (published 24 April)

One evening in early August, while mashing the potatoes for dinner, Connie McColl decides she’s had enough…

Connie McColl is tired of solving one family crisis after another – usually involving her unruly grandchildren – while her husband Roger spends all day at his beloved golf course. Surely it must be time for her to shake off her apron and start living again?

So Connie packs a bag, gets in her little green car and drives off…

On her journey from England to Scotland, Connie stops in on long-lost friends and makes all sorts of colourful new companions along the way. As Connie has the time of her life, sleeping under the stars and skinny dipping in the sea, she finally begins to rediscover herself. And she starts to wonder, will she ever be ready to return home? 

Or will this summer change her life forever?


Kindness of StrangersThe Kindness of Strangers by Julie Newman (published 19 April)

Widow Helen is desperate for a perfect family life, and will do everything she can to get what she wants.

A veteran of the Afghanistan conflict Martin is adrift and seemingly without hope – can he ever win back his estranged family?

Pregnant teenager Charley is striking out on her own to create a new life for her unborn child, but her mother Lizzie has other ideas.

When three seemingly disparate lives connect, the past and the present collide to reveal secrets, lies and how far people are willing to go to hide the truth.


Kiss CarloKiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani

It’s 1949 and South Philadelphia is bursting with possibility. The arrival of an urgent telegram from Italy upends the life of Nicky Castone, a young man who, orphaned as a child, now lives with his Uncle Dom and his large and boisterous family in the city. Surely there is more to life than this, despite a steady job in the family business and a sweet-natured fiancee?
In secret, Nicky begins moonlighting at the local Shakespeare theatre company and is quickly drawn to the stage, its colourful players… and to feisty Calla Borelli, who runs the show. Before long he finds himself on the horns of a dilemma: can he return to the conventional life his family expects of him? Or does he have what it takes to chart a new course and risk losing everything he cherishes?
Told against the backdrop of some of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, this epic novel brims with romance as long-buried secrets are revealed, mistaken identities are unmasked, scores are settled, broken hearts are mended and true love reigns. Kiss Carlo is a jubilee, resplendent with hope, love and the abiding power of la famiglia.


Italian DreamThe Italian Dream by Tamara Kate Jarvis

Sophie gave up a high flying career to find her dream life but has ended up stuck in a dead end job that was only supposed to be temporary. She’s also stuck with a nice but boring boyfriend, her parents’ constant disappointment, and a life that’s going nowhere. When her boss offers her the chance to have that life permanently, she panics and flees to Italy to stay with her friend, Jen, in a village on the outskirts of Florence.
Here in Italy the skies are blue, the sun is shining and Sophie falls in love with a beautiful old Manor house in the village. And what’s more, there’s a mysterious, handsome man with dark eyes, olive skin and dark blond hair who seems to have taken an instant dislike to her… Why? And will she ever be able to leave all of this behind?


Beauty ShopThe Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson

War changes everyone, inside and out. The remarkable true story of the Guinea Pig Club. 

England, 1942. After three years of WWII, Britain is showing the scars. But in this darkest of days, three lives intertwine, changing their destinies and those of many more.

Dr Archibald McIndoe, a New Zealand plastic surgeon with unorthodox methods, is on a mission to treat and rehabilitate badly burned airmen – their bodies and souls. With the camaraderie and support of the Guinea Pig Club, his boys battle to overcome disfigurement, pain, and prejudice to learn to live again.

John ‘Mac’ Mackenzie of the US Air Force is aware of the odds. He has one chance in five of surviving the war. Flying bombing missions through hell and back, he’s fighting more than the Luftwaffe. Fear and doubt stalk him on the ground and in the air, and he’s torn between his duty and his conscience.

Shy, decent and sensible Stella Charlton’s future seems certain until war breaks out. As a new recruit to the WAAF, she meets an American pilot on New Year’s Eve. After just one dance, she falls head over heels for the handsome airman. But when he survives a crash, she realises her own battle has only just begun.


MurderessThe Murderess by Jennifer Wells

1931: Fifteen-year-old Kate witnesses her mother Millicent push a stranger from a station platform into the path of an oncoming train. There was no warning, seemingly no reason, and absolutely no remorse.

1940: Exactly nine years later, Kate returns to the station and notices a tramp laying flowers on the exact spot that the murder was committed; the identity of the victim, still remains unknown.

With a country torn apart by war and her family estate and name in tatters, Kate has nothing to lose as she attempts to uncover family secrets that date back to the Great War and solve a mystery that blights her family name.


Pulling up the WeedsPulling up the Weeds by Caroline Ashton

Five very different women find they have two things in common… they’re all widows and they all need to move house. 

Rosie – fair, fat and fifty – needs more space to nurture her new business venture – growing herbs. Virginia cherishes her social standing and is mortified that the minuscule pension her consultant husband has left her unable to keep up appearances, whilst Andrea’s house is filled with memories, holding her back from starting a new life.

Gwen’s children, with half an eye on the equity in her house, are trying to push her into sheltered accommodation and Ellie, the recently widowed youngest of the group, is eager to leave the cramped house her husband bought to leave funds for his dream restaurant. 

With their differing temperaments and opinions, finding the perfect house to share is not easy. A large rectory seems to be the ideal answer but managing to live in harmony proves tricky – until a surprise visit shocks them into realising they have far more in common than they’d thought.


White HorizonWhite Horizon by Jan Ruth

Three couples in crisis, multiple friendships under pressure.
On-off-on lovers Daniel and Tina return to their childhood town. After twenty-five years together, they marry in typically chaotic fashion, witnessed by old friends, Victoria and Linda who become entangled in the drama, their own lives changing beyond recognition. However, as all their marriages begin to splinter, and damaged Victoria begins an affair with Daniel, the secret illness that Tina has been hiding emerges. Victoria’s crazed and violent ex-husband attempts to kill Daniel and nearly succeeds, in a fire that devastates the community. On the eve of their first wedding anniversary, Tina returns to face her husband, but is it to say goodbye forever, or to stay?


Keep You NearKeep you Near by Robin Roughley

How far would you go to find your missing sister?

A normal day in the park turns into a nerve shredding nightmare for eleven-year-old Marnie Hammond when she find herself in a desperate chase to stop the ‘bad man,’ from abducting Abby.

Fifteen years later, Marnie is a Detective Sergeant but the memory of her missing sister still haunts her dreams.

When it becomes clear that someone is stalking the streets of Kirkhead DS Hammond has her hands full, and after remains are discovered buried in dense woodland, Marnie fears the worst. But this is only the start of a nightmare that will unearth more bones, more victims and the terror that Abby might be among the dead.

To stop the monster Marnie knows she must break the rules, but when the twisted killer turns his attention on her it becomes a fight not only for the truth but for her sanity and her survival.

Can Marnie catch the murderer and solve her sister’s disappearance? 


Baby DearBaby Dear by Linda Huber

Caro and Jeff Horne seem to have it all until they learn that Jeff is infertile. Caro married Jeff because her biggest wish was to be a mother, and he had the means to give their children a better life than she’d had. Jeff, who is besotted with Caro, is terrified he will lose her now they can’t have a baby.

Across town, Sharon is eight months pregnant and unsure if she really wants to be a mother. Soon her world will collide with Jeff’s. He wants to keep Caro happy and decides that getting a baby is the only way.   

Then Caro is accidently drawn into an underworld of drugs…

Meanwhile, Jeff is increasingly desperate to find a baby – but what lengths is he prepared to go to?

Is Sharon in danger, and will Caro ever have the family she’s always dreamed of?


Artist's MuseThe Artist’s Muse by Kerry Postle

Vienna 1907

Wally Neuzil must find a way to feed her family. Having failed in many vocations, Wally has one last shot: esteemed artist Gustav Klimt needs a muse, and Wally could be the girl he’s been waiting for. But Wally soon discovers that there is much more to her role than just sitting looking pretty. And while she had hoped to establish herself as an emerging lady, the upper classes see her as no more than a prostitute.

With her society dreams dashed Wally finds herself at rock bottom. So when young artist, Egon Schiele, shows her how different life can be Wally grabs hold of the new start she’s been desperately seeking. As a passionate love affair ensues will he be the making of her or her undoing?


Trip of a LifetimeThe Trip of a Lifetime by Monica McInerney

‘I always thought memories were unchangeable. Set in stone, shaped by the years. But there are always others too, ones you haven’t let yourself remember . . .’

The wilful and eccentric Lola Quinlan is off on the trip of a lifetime, taking her beloved granddaughter and great-granddaughter with her. More than sixty years after emigrating to Australia, she’s keeping a secret promise to return to her Irish homeland.

Lola has always been her family’s port in a storm, but she’s hiding the hurtful reason she left Kildare as a young woman. Lola’s walk down memory lane will force her to confront her bittersweet past – and discover that the truth can indeed set you free . . .


Hot ChocolateHot Chocolate by Alice Castle

Bella Renfrew has the perfect life – gorgeous children, handsome husband Tom, fantastic job. She’s bubbly, warm and everybody loves her. So why does she need so much chocolate? It is not until her habit literally jams up the workings of her career that Bella first begins to suspect what everyone else knows for sure – she has a serious problem. Bella has a meltdown and relocates the family to Brussels, for Tom’s job. But, as Hot Chocolate shows, you can run from chocolate, but you just can’t hide. It is in Belgium, home of the world’s finest chocolate, that Bella has her epiphany. A chance encounter with a chocolatier sets her on a new path – a path which just happens to be strewn with new admirers, for both Bella and Tom. As Bella gets to know chocolate from the inside out, she finally conquers her addiction and emerges as a better, and sleeker, person. But will her marriage survive?


Her Hidden LifeHer Hidden Life by V S Alexander (published 3 May)

It’s 1943 and Hitler’s Germany is a terrifying place to be.
But Magda Ritter’s duty is the most dangerous of all…

Assigned to The Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat, she must serve the Reich by becoming the Führer’s ‘Taster’ – a woman who checks his food for poison. Magda can see no way out of this hellish existence until she meets Karl, an SS officer who has formed an underground resistance group within Hitler’s inner circle.

As their forbidden love grows, Magda and Karl see an opportunity to stop the atrocities of the madman leading their country. But in doing so, they risk their lives, their families and, above all, a love unlike either of them have ever known…


Bad to the BoneBad to the Bone by Tony J Forder

A skeletal body is unearthed in a wooded area of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. DI James Bliss, together with DC Penny Chandler, investigate the case and discover that the young, female victim had been relocated from its original burial site.

A witness is convinced that a young female was struck by a vehicle back in the summer of 1990, and that police attended the scene. However, no record exists of either the accident or the reported victim. As the case develops, two retired police officers are murdered. The two are linked with others who were on duty at the time a road accident was reported.

As Bliss and Chandler delve deeper into the investigation, they start to question whether senior officers may have been involved in the murder of the young women who was buried in the woods.

As each link in the chain is put under duress, so is Bliss who clashes with superiors and the media.

When his team receives targeted warnings, Bliss will need to decide whether to drop the case or to pursue those responsible.

Will Bliss walk away in order to keep his career intact or will he fight no matter what the cost? 


Island in the EastIsland in the East by Jenny Ashcroft

Two great loves. One shattering betrayal. A war that changes everything.

Singapore, 1897
Twenty-year-old identical twins, Harriet and Mae, born from a scandalous affair, have spent their lives slighted by gossips. They’ve carried each other through the loneliness, believing that together they can survive anything.

But then their mysterious benefactor sends them to Singapore to live with his relative, the watchful David Keeley, who will choose one of them to marry. In the tension of David’s house, a distance opens up between the twins, but it is only when they meet the handsome Alex Blake that their relationship truly fractures, resulting in a life-shattering betrayal with devastating consequences . . .

Ivy, an intelligence officer with the women’s naval service, is posted to wartime Singapore. Carrying her own ghosts from Blitz-torn London, she arrives to the looming threat of a Japanese invasion. Nothing can prepare her for what’s waiting on the island – not the unexpected love, nor the strangers from her grandmother, Mae’s, past, and the shocking secrets that now echo down through the generations.


RookeryThe Rookery by Emily Organ

There’s a killer in the slums.

London 1884. When a thief robs Fleet Street reporter Penny Green, she finds herself caught up in a horrifying murder.

Someone is terrorizing the residents of St Giles Rookery and Scotland Yard sends Inspector James Blakely to investigate. When the serial killer claims a victim outside the slums, Victorian London is sent into panic. 

Can Penny’s friendship with the people of St Giles uncover the culprit? She and James must overcome their complicated relationship to work together, but each new murder threatens to derail their work for good.


Lake in SwitzerlandA Lake in Switzerland by Melinda Huber

Stacy can’t believe her luck when her best friend Emily invites her on a holiday to Switzerland.
She arrives at the Lakeside Hotel with high hopes, but the problems begin straightaway. Emily’s recent injury doesn’t let her do much, and something is wrong at the hotel. Where are all the guests? Why is the owner’s son so bad-tempered? And then there’s the odd behaviour of Stacy’s fiancé, back home. It’s hard to enjoy the scenery with all this going on…
By the last day of the holiday, Stacy knows her life will never be the same again – but the end of the week is just the beginning of the Lakeside adventure.


Secrets in the SkySecrets in the Sky by Pauline Wiles

How far should you go to keep a secret?

No-one ever accused Sophie Campbell of being a coward. From caving trips to rooftop pranks, it appeared nothing could hold her back, especially once she landed a dream job promising travel all over the world.

But Sophie’s jet-setting lifestyle is not what it seems and she’s been spending more time in the quiet English village of Saffron Sweeting than she cares to admit. When her beloved Great Aunt Wol dies suddenly, Sophie loses one of the few people who truly know her. As friends, family and an old flame gather for the funeral, questions soon follow. Worse, Sophie finds herself increasingly attracted to the man most likely to expose her secrets. Can she manage to guard her past, yet finally follow her long-held dream?

Featuring both new and familiar characters, this stand-alone romantic comedy is set two years before Kindle best-seller Saving Saffron Sweeting. With side helpings of British tea, cake and wit, Secrets in the Sky explores how finding the courage to be yourself can be the toughest challenge of all.


60 Ways to Die in South America60 Ways to Die in South America by Tracy Ashworth

Carpe diem, they say. Get out of your comfort zone, they shout from the goddamn rooftops. But they never mention being kidnapped for your kidneys, now do they?

Journalist Lucy Hart’s mojo has shrivelled up like a raisin. Her job in the Classifieds Section of a local newspaper is boring as bat crap, her dating life makes her weep into her wine and her roommate is a fan of extremely loud sex.

Lucy is almost resigned to her life being all sorts of sad when she’s forced to take a travel writing assignment in South America of all places. And as if that’s not bad enough, she’s thrust into the whole horrendous adventure along with the newspaper’s stuck-up freelance photographer, Jack Dawson.

Will Lucy end up baked into an empanada or will she grow a pair of lady balls?




Five on Friday with Terry Tyler @TerryTyler4

Today I’m delighted to welcome Terry Tyler, an author I first started chatting to on Twitter, so I can confirm she does indeed love it, as she admits too later on.




Terry Tyler is a writer with sixteen books on Amazon. Her latest three are part of her
new post-apocalyptic series; ‘UK2’, the third novel in the trilogy, will be available in the
spring. She is proud to be self-published, and writes many blog posts about writing and
self- or indie publishing in general, as well as being an avid reader and book reviewer;
she is part of Rosie Amber’s reviewing team.
Terry is a recently converted vegan, loves The Walking Dead, Netflix, winter, history,
South Park and the countryside. She lives with her husband in the North East of


 Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?



‘Freebird’ by Lynryd Skynryd.  It reminds me of the 1970s and being in my teens, the pubs I used to go to (no one asked for ID in 1976!), the bands I saw, when everyone wore denim everything.  It’s one of those songs that makes you want to be hitching down a desert highway at sunset, and has remained a favourite.

‘Hangman Jury’ by Aerosmith.  I was a fully signed-up rock chick during the late 80s and early 90s (!!), and went to see bands all the time, but none were greater than the mighty Aerosmith!  I still love them now ~ this is my all-time favourite track by them, I think, from the 1987 album ‘Permanent Vacation’.  It’s the rock and bluesy side of them that I love the most.

‘The Lark Ascending’ by Vaughan Williams.  I discovered this piece of music when I lived in a lovely house in Northampton, that we called the Enchanted House.  I bought it with my ex-husband in 1999, and we knew as soon as we walked through the front door that we had to have it.  It had an enchanted garden, too.  In the summer, I often had this music on loudly, with the windows open, so we could hear it in the garden, too.  It’s just so beautiful.

The theme tune to The Walking Dead, by Bear McCreary.  Simply because it’s my favourite TV show ever, and if I was far away it would always make me think of being at home watching stuff we love on our stupidly huge telly, which is probably where I am happiest!

‘Nimrod’, Elgar’s 9th Enigma Variation.  Played by the Band of the Royal Marines (CD version) at my father’s funeral in October 2017; he’d said this was the music he wanted.  There were representatives there from the Royal British Legion and Royal Engineers, with standard bearers; it was perfect.


Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.


The means to write.  Even a biro and notepad will do.  I’ve always written, from childhood, and not just novels; I’m talking about letters, articles, lists, funny bits and bobs, diaries ~ though I haven’t kept a diary since 1990, when a boyfriend read it, and discovered how madly in love with him I really was.  Six months of playing it cool, all gone in a couple of pages!

Twitter.  Seriously.  I love the site, it’s an endless source of entertainment to me.  Where else can you find links to so many interesting articles, news, etc?  I’ve met people on there who have become real life friends, my sister has built her entire, successful business via it, it’s ever-changing, a place to discover new books, films, art, photography, funny stuff, and a wonderful way to get my books ‘out there’.  When I’m having a self-imposed internet break, I always miss it.

My tablet with its Kindle app.  I read every day, and always on this.  It’s light to hold, convenient, I can download on a whim, store all my books, highlight good bits ~ and have a quick game of backgammon when I need a break from reading.

My hair straighteners.  My hair in its natural state is frizzy corkscrews.  The time it takes to straighten it after every wash is so worth it.  Come the zombie apocalypse, when power fails, I have already decided to have it all braided.  If I can find a hairdresser to do it before The Dead start knocking on the window, that is.

My photographs.  I’ve been snapping away since 1976.  Years ago, friends used to say, ‘oh God, she’s got her camera out again’… now, they’re pleased I captured all those random nights out in 1984, or whatever.  The older I get, the more I treasure pictures of my family, too, especially of those no longer with us.



Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?


Develop good eating/drinking habits.  What you put inside yourself matters.  Now that I am older and more careful, I wonder how much better I would have felt/looked all my life if I’d always been so.  Also, all those pigeons can come home to roost sooner than you think; I think I stopped treating myself as if I was immortal just in time.  Get rid of any excess weight, and exercise enough.  NOW.  After 30, it’s harder to maintain any sort of reasonable weight without employing methods that are bad for you.  After 40 and 50 it’s REALLY hard.

Appreciate your parents.  Find common ground with them, visit them, understand how much they love you and everything they do for you.  When they are gone, you’ll wish you had.

Listen and learn.  Now, I wish I had enough time to learn about everything, and I simply don’t have enough years.  Read, think, take note.  If you have an interest, develop it.  Your life will be far richer for it.  And travel, if you have any inclination for it.  Because your teens, 20s and early 30s, when you’re young, fit, and have no responsibilities, is the time to make the most of that youth, energy and freedom.  Get on that train, now!

Don’t waste time and emotional energy on rubbish relationships.  The boyfriend who will never love you as you love him, or the one who wants more of you than you can give, who you’re trying to convince yourself you like more than you do … the ‘fair weather’ friends, those who persuade you into activity that doesn’t feel right, the people you don’t really like much but don’t like to say you don’t want to see.  It’s all a waste of time, and when you’re spending valuable hours with them, you’re shutting out the possibility of all the people you could meet, who will add to your life, not detract from it: the radiators, not the drains.

Don’t try to fit a round peg in a square hole.  What your parents and teachers want you to be/do might not be right for YOU.  I spent years and years trying to fit into ‘straight’ jobs, but was happiest when I was self-employed or doing something a bit more fun.  I suspect I’d have been happier going to live in some off-the-grid commune than working in HM Inspector of Taxes (see below!).



Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.


I am terrifically anti-social.  Mostly, I hate going out and socialising.  Which is weird, because until I was in my late 40s, I loved it.  I went off it at the same time as I went off drinking; I am sure the two are related!  Now, I just want to be at home, and I only go out a few times a year.

In the 1980s, I had a shop.  Gifty stuff.  With my first husband, who was a goldsmith.  I used to make big fluffy mohair jumpers, and sold loads of them.

I am possibly the worst driver in the world.  I had 30 lessons in a gear car, until the instructor said, “I think we’ve gone as far as we can go”, and suggested I try an automatic.  Took me about 70 lessons before I took my test.  I passed it, but haven’t driven since, because I know I am not safe behind the wheel.

I used to be a civil servant.  HM Inspector of Taxes, Unemployment Benefit Office, and JobCentre.  The first was incredibly, horrendously boring.  ‘Have the new paperclips come yet, Enid?’ ‘They’re over there, Mr Mellish’.  (Quote: Monty Python)

Despite my outgoing social media persona, I don’t like talking to people in real life about my writing/books.  The other day, someone I’d only just met said, “X told me you’re a writer, is that true?”  I just said ‘yes’ and changed the subject.  On the same day someone else asked me what sort of thing I write, and I stuttered and mumbled through a vague explanation that probably ensured the person would never buy any of my books.  One of the reasons I dislike talking about it is that at some point, a person will always ask how many I sell, or if I make a living from it, which I find rude.  I always want to reply, ‘I’ll answer that if you’ll tell me how much you earn.’  Or that person, who knows nothing of the 2017 publishing industry, will be sniffy once they discover you are not published by Simon & Schuster.


What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?


Can this bucket list be things you would love to do, not things that are actually possible?  If so…

Visit Iceland, Greenland, New Zealand, Bolivia, and so many other countries, but I am sure I will never do any of this, for various reasons I won’t go into.  Should have done all that travelling when I was younger!

Write historical fiction.  I adore history, read loads of historical fiction and would love to write it, but I am wary of doing so because the research will be an enormous task, and I am sure I could never write it as well as my favourites.

I’d love to live in a log cabin, by water, just me and my husband, miles away from the rest of the world.  As long as it had Wi-Fi…!  I keep thinking that it must be possible, somehow…

Time travel.  Wouldn’t that be marvellous?  I’d like to go back, not forwards.  Too frightening.

I don’t have a fifth one.  I think I must, therefore, be pretty contented!


Thanks so much for taking part in Five on Friday Terry. Being of a similar vintage I remember being a teenager in the 70’s and indeed it was just as well no-one asked for ID!!  Some great advice for your younger self as well, what a pity we have to wait so long to be wise. Hope you get your log cabin by water, it sounds idyllic. 

  o – 0 – o

Terry’s Books 

Recent works

Tipping PointTipping Point (Project Renova Book 1)

The year is 2024. A new social networking site bursts onto the scene. Private Life promises total privacy, with freebies and financial incentives for all. Across the world, a record number of users sign up.

A deadly virus is discovered in a little known African province, and it’s spreading—fast. The UK announces a countrywide vaccination programme. Members of underground group Unicorn believe the disease to be man-made, and that the people are being fed lies driven by a vast conspiracy.

Vicky Keating’s boyfriend, Dex, is working for Unicorn over two hundred miles away when the first UK outbreak is detected in her home town of Shipden, on the Norfolk coast. The town is placed under military controlled quarantine and, despite official assurances that there is no need for panic, within days the virus is unstoppable. 

In London, Travis begins to question the nature of the top secret data analysis project he is working on, while in Newcastle there are scores to be settled…


LindisfarneLindisfarne (Project Renova Book 2)

Six months after the viral outbreak, civilised society in the UK has broken down. Vicky and her group travel to the Northumbrian island of Lindisfarne, where they are welcomed by an existing community. 

New relationships are formed, old ones renewed. The lucky survivors adapt, finding strength they didn’t know they possessed, but the honeymoon period does not last long. Some cannot accept that the rules have changed, and, for just a few, the opportunity to seize power is too great to pass up. Egos clash, and the islanders soon discover that there are greater dangers than not having enough to eat.

Meanwhile, in the south, Brian Doyle discovers that rebuilding is taking place in the middle of the devastated countryside. He comes face to face with Alex Verlander from Renova Workforce Liaison, who makes him an offer he can’t refuse. But is UK 2.0 a world in which he will want to live?


Patient ZeroPatient Zero 

The year is 2024.

A mysterious virus rages around the UK.
Within days, ‘bat fever’ is out of control.

Patient Zero is a collection of nine short stories featuring minor characters from the post apocalyptic Project Renova series. All stories are completely ‘stand alone’.


Devil You KnowThe Devil You Know – See my review here

Every serial killer is someone’s friend, spouse, lover or child….

Young women are being murdered in the Lincolnshire town of Lyndford, where five people fear someone close to them might be the monster the police are searching for.
One of them is right.

Juliet sees an expert’s profile of the average serial killer and realises that her abusive husband, Paul, ticks all the boxes. 

Maisie thinks her mum’s new boyfriend seems too good to be true. Is she the only person who can see through Gary’s friendly, sensitive façade?

Tamsin is besotted with her office crush, Jake. Then love turns to suspicion…

Steve is used to his childhood friend, Dan, being a loud mouthed Lothario with little respect for the truth. But is a new influence in his life leading him down a more sinister path?

Dorothy’s beloved son, Orlando, is keeping a secret from her—a chilling discovery forces her to confront her worst fears.


Best SellerBest Seller

Three women, one dream: to become a successful author.

Eden Taylor has made it—big time. A twenty-three year old with model girl looks and a book deal with a major publisher, she’s outselling the established names in her field and is fast becoming the darling of the media.

Becky Hunter has money problems. Can she earn enough from her light-hearted romance novels to counteract boyfriend Alex’s extravagant spending habits, before their rocky world collapses?

Hard up factory worker Jan Chilver sees writing as an escape from her troubled, lonely life. She is offered a lifeline—but fails to read the small print…

In the competitive world of publishing, success can be merely a matter of who you know—and how ruthless you are prepared to be to get to the top.


Older Works


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