Book Review: Just For The Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

Just for the HolidaysJust for the Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m a fan of Sue Moorcroft’s books in general, but I think this one is my favourite.
Leah agrees to help her sister and estranged husband out by tagging along on their family holiday and being the ‘Cool Auntie’ to their two teenagers. Poor Leah. I felt so sorry for her as things started off bad and got worse… and worse.
Ronan is recovering from a shoulder/collarbone injury after a helicopter crash and spending some quality time with his son Curtis.

I loved that Leah was happy with the single life and that she was a complete petrol head. I also liked the way the teenagers kept getting in the way of … well, everything.
You really feel for both the main characters.

I really enjoyed this book. Highly recommended.

Disclaimer as always – I know Sue Moorcroft through the Romantic Novelists Association. I am also a fan of her books.

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Romantic Novelists Association Conference 2017 – a talk on writing about disability

Slide from @DisRomProject 'Writing Disability in Romance: Potentials and Pitfalls

A couple of weekends ago, I went to RNAConf17 in Telford. This was my 6th conference and, as always, it was fantastic. I was in a flat with the rest of the Naughty Kitchen and sat up until waaaay past my usual bed time, eating chocolate and drinking (tea in my case, because I’m sad like that) and chatting about all manner of things. My favourite moment was when a first time conference attendee suddenly said “It’s so nice to be in the company of so many women who UNDERSTAND what it’s like to have people living in your head.” Yep. We get that.

Oh, and I had a lovely fan girl moment when I ran into Sarah Morgan. I love her books. I babbled. She was very gracious and let me take a photo with her.

I attended talks on how to manipulate images, how to ‘do’ social media, the future of the industry etc. The most eye opening talk by far was by Dr Ria Cheyne who talked to us about her research project into the representation of disability in romantic fiction. Her talk about about things to be aware of when writing disabled characters in romance. This is something I’m interested in. I’ve written depressed characters before, which I’m comfortable doing because I’ve been there. I have an idea in embryo about a mobility impaired character, and, since I don’t have first hand experience of it, I know I need to do research to make her life realistic.

Anyway, here are my notes from the session. If you have time, please visit the DisRom Project and take their survey. Pass it onto friends who read romance.

Slide from @DisRomProject 'Writing Disability in Romance: Potentials and Pitfalls
Main slide

Dis Rom Project discussion with Dr Ria Cheyne 

They’ve only had 500 or so reponses to their survey so far, so not enough to draw conclusions from. But responses to the question ‘Would a disabled character on the cover or in the blurb make you LESS likely to buy the book’ were 1%! Most people said it made no difference. A few people (around 19% said ‘it depends’).
The advice for writing about disability was:
  • Do your research – look at forums, speak to people with similar conditions. Don’t assume anything. Eg. Wheelchair users aren’t ALWAYS in their wheelchairs. A person using a white cane isn’t necessarily a 100% sightless.
  • Don’t use disabled secondary characters as a way of showing how good a main character is.
  • Don’t make disabled characters mysteriously wise (make them real people).
  • Be wary of recovery narratives where the disability is suddenly cured by a bonk on the head or a new miracle treatment. 
  • Be mindful of language. Eg ‘She was a wheelchair user’ is different to ‘she was confined to a wheelchair’.
  • Remember hidden disability – not all disability is obvious or visible.
The questions at the end were also illuminating.
Covers from Scope's Romance Classics (2016)
Click on the image to go to the page on the Scope blog

We discussed why representation was important (everyone deserves a happy ending!) and talked a little bit about how people reclaim derogatory language and how someone in wheelchair calling themselves a ‘crip’ is potentially realistic and non-offensive, an able-bodied person calling them that would be offensive, just as it would be in real life. 

We also discussed how it was a good idea to have people familiar with the condition beta read the book before it goes out. This is a sort of ‘sensitivity beta read’ to check for mistakes or misconceptions rather than to check if anyone is offended by anything (people are offended by all sorts of things, you’d never write a book that doesn’t offend someone, somewhere).
It was a really interesting talk. It made me think about a lot of things.

Here’s the link to the survey again. Please do fill it in (and share).

The Disability and Romance Project

Book review: One Dark Lie by Clare Chase

One Dark Lie

One Dark Lie by Clare Chase

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a spate of reading fantasy novels I was in the mood for something darker. This is a murder mystery with a hint of gang violence thrown in to up the level of menace.

Ruby writes books about real people. When she is offered the chance to write the life story of murdered academic Diana Patrick-John and she can’t help but drawn into the mystery of who killed Diana.
Nate is trying to trap his sister’s killer. He’s playing a dangerous game whilst trying desperately to keep the people he loves – including Rudy – safe.

This is a tense and atmospheric book. It’s worth mentioning the Other Place city of Cambridge, which is almost a character in itself. Beautiful. I also loved the way Ruby found academic rivalry and a low level of sniping in the academic community.

I hadn’t read the previous book in the series, but that didn’t really stand in the way of my enjoying this one. It’s a good old fashioned murder mystery – not too dark, but tense and gripping.

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This review is part of a blog tour that Clare is doing to promote One Dark Lie.

One Dark Lie - high resYou can buy One Dark Lie now. You can find out more about Clare on her website or catch up with her on Facebook and Twitter.


Inheritance Books: Carolyn Hughes

Children Reading by Valerie Everett

This week’s guest on the Inheritance Books sofa is history buff Carolyn Hughes. Welcome to Inheritance Books Carolyn, make yourself comfortable. While I put the kettle on, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself.

carolyn-publicityI’ve come to writing, or rather publishing, quite late in life. I’ve written creatively on and off all my adult life but, for many years, work and family were somehow always the main focus of my life, and it wasn’t until our children flew the nest that I realised writing could now take centre stage.

Even then, although I wrote some short stories, and one and a half contemporary women’s novels, my writing was rather ad hoc, and my tentative attempts to approach agents met only with rejection. Thinking that a Masters degree in Creative Writing might give me more focus, I enrolled at Portsmouth University. It worked! I wrote the historical novel that is now published as Fortune’s Wheel.

Why an historical novel? Well, when I had to choose what to write as the creative piece for the MA, I mostly just wanted a change from the contemporary women’s fiction I had been writing. But the choice I made was somewhat serendipitous… In my twenties, I’d written about 10,000 words of a novel set in fourteenth century England. By chance, I rediscovered the fading, handwritten, draft languishing in a box of old scribblings. Although, to be frank, the novel’s plot (and the writing!) was pretty dire, I was drawn to its period and setting. The discovery gave me one of those light bulb moments and, a few days later, I was drafting an outline for the novel that is now Fortune’s Wheel.

It was true that I’d long been intrigued by the mediaeval period, for its relative remoteness in time and understanding, and, I think, for the very dichotomy between the present-day perception of the Middle Ages as “nasty, brutish and short” and the wonders of the period’s art, architecture and literature. I wanted to know more about the period, and, through writing an historical novel, I’d have the opportunity both to discover the mediaeval past and to interpret it, to bring both learning and imagination to my writing.

Having written Fortune’s Wheel, I’d enjoyed being back at university so much that I decided to read for a PhD at the University of Southampton, and the result was another historical novel, as yet unpublished, The Nature of Things. By then, the historical fiction bug had well and truly bitten me. I soon realised that I had more stories to tell about the world I’d created for Fortune’s Wheel – a fictional manor, called Meonbridge, situated in Hampshire’s Meon Valley – and I started to plan a series of sequels. So, when Fortune’s Wheel was published last November, it was as the first of “The Meonbridge Chronicles”. I hope that the second will be published later in 2017.


Which book have you inherited from the generation above?

What an interesting question. I assume the thought behind it is to tease out possible img_1357_1influences on my writing life? (That is, indeed, the intention! – RB) However, in trying to find an answer, I realised that I couldn’t recall either of my parents (or their siblings) ever reading, or encouraging me to read, fiction! We certainly had books in the house, but, apart from the usual run of children’s books (Enid Blyton, Grimms’ Fairy Tales, Hans Andersen…), they were mostly reference (although, as a child, I would pore over them avidly for hours). But there was no Plaidy or Seton to inspire a love of historical fiction!

So what special book might I say my forebears passed down to me? I’ll choose one that perhaps inspired my love of history: This Land of Kings 1066-1399. A children’s book, published in the 50s, with bright illustrations, it was a school prize – I was nine – attained for “Progress”! As it covers the Middle Ages, perhaps, long ago as it was, it sowed the seed that grew into Fortune’s Wheel?


Which book might you like to leave to the next generation?

img_1358I will take “next generation” to be my children, one boy, one girl – both very much adults now. I think I will leave them a “history book” too, one that has more recently inspired my plunge into writing historical fiction. I have a facsimile of The Luttrell Psalter, a wonderful fourteenth century religious tome that is full of illustrations of medieval life. I love it, and I’d like to think my children would love it too, knowing how much it has meant to me these past few years…




Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us, Carolyn. All the best with Fortune’s Wheel.

9781781325827-300dpi-cmykCarolyn’s book Fortune’s Wheel is available to buy now. You can find out more about Carolyn on her website, Facebook (CarolynHughesAuthor) or Twitter (@writingcalliope)




Would you like to share your own Inheritance Books? Email me or mention it in the comments.



A few of my favourite things

Here, for no good reason, is list of things that I love:

Reading – My mum taught me to read. By the time I got to school, I was reading Teddy Robinson and Amelia Jane books to myself. This meant that the library books at school were way to baby-ish. I asked the school librarian if I could go to the middle school library section. She let me, with supervision, choose the big books. Hooray for open minded librarians!

Lego – My brother and I had Lego when we were kids and we shared the sets (there was no pink Lego on those days). I was the one who read the 2016-04-11-17-01-43instructions and built the sets. He was the one who went free style and built houses with escape hatches and booby traps. My kids aren’t particularly interested in Lego (although one of them loves Minecraft), so I can’t pretend I’m buying Lego for them… I make Lego book trailers for my novels.


Confectionery – I like to bake. I love to EAT cake. I was once called a cake Fiend. Such was my reputation that the lady from the canteen used to stop by on Friday and pass me a cake that was going to go off over the weekend… I don’t eat as much cake as I used to because I was in serious danger of being wider than I am tall. I’m only 4 ft 8, so there isn’t much room to play with.

Chocolate – technically, this should go under confectionery… but I feel it deserves a special mention.

Peter Parker – note, the preference for Peter over Spidey. Everyone wants to have secret superpowers and I’m no exception. Also, Peter designed his own web solution and the cartridges that fire the stuff  with the trigger nested in his palm. A chemist and an engineer. Be still my beating heart. 

Firefly – I love Firefly. Buffy passed me by somehow, so my introduction to Joss Whedon’s work was actually Doctor Horrible (loved it!). Then I saw Firefly. I’ve seen the whole series several times and I’m more than a little bit in love with Alan Tudyk (how can you not love a man who combines talent and silliness!). Shiny.

British Comedy –  Blackadder, The IT Crowd, Black Books, Green Wing, Spaced, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, to name a few… I’m ambivalent towards Monty Python apart from Life Of Brian. I love Life of Brian because it contains my favourite joke.

Star Trek the Original series – because it Blew My Mind.

Dr Who –  Strictly New Who only. I started watching it with the 10th Doctor. I went back and caught up with the Eccleston years, but David Tennant is The Doctor to me. Always. I didn’t watch Dr Who when I was a child. It was on too late, probably, or was too scary. Come to think of it, I’m not sure it even made it to Sri Lanka. Did it? Anyone?

The Big Bang Theory – because I love nerd jokes and I knew people like that at university. Clever is the new sexy. 

Clearing fluff from the filters on the tumble dryer – because it’s so satisfying.

Beta male heroes – because they are so much more fun than alphas. I like a man who can take a joke. If they wear glasses, so much the better. I reckon all men look more attractive with glasses on. See also, Big Bang Theory and Peter Parker.

So, what do you love? Tell me in the comments.


Inheritance Books: Chrissie Bradshaw

This week’s Inheritance Books come from romance author Chrissie Bradshaw. Hi Chrissie, welcome to Inheritance Books. Please take a seat. While I make the tea, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself.

img_2468I live beside the Northumbrian coast with my family and love taking my Welsh terrier,Oscar, for a daily run along the seashore. My other feel good essentials are tea, chocolate and a good book. A career in education, as a teacher then as a literary consultant, has given me the chance to share my passion for reading with young people. I believe that there are books to suit every taste and love match-making a book with a reader. That’s why I think your ‘inheritance’ slot is such a good idea! This year has been an exciting one because I won the Elizabeth Goudge award 2016 from the RNA and published my first novel A Jarful of Moondreams. It is available as a paperback or ebook.

How cool, well done you! You’ll be getting your name added to all the famous ones on the Elizabeth Goudge trophy. 


Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special?

Ifullsizerender-2 Capture the Castle was published in 1948 by Dodie Smith, before I was born, but the characters still seem fresh today. I first read Dodie Smith’s The 101 Dalmations, as a child but wasn’t given I Capture the Castle until I was an adult. It’s a book I treasure because Cassandra is, like me, a secret scribbler and her observations capture her castle environment and its inhabitants vividly. I’d pass this book to teens or adults because Cassandra’s teenage concerns are still relatable to other generations.

Cassie’s voice is engaging from start to finish, I love it from the first sentence to the last and both of those sentences are memorable. I won’t spoil it by quoting the last sentence but I can share the first. She starts with ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink….’ Why? How did you get in there? Who are you? Where are you? I’m hooked.

I usually like a novel with a resolution and I Capture the Castle has an unresolved ending yet it still remains a satisfying read. Cassandra Mortmain and her cast of characters are both complex and entertaining and, as a reader, I was totally involved in castle life and cared about what would happen to her troubled father, her moody beautiful sister, the eccentric Topaz and hardworking handsome Stephen and wanted the American Brothers, Simon and Neil, to come to the rescue in some way.
It’s a book I’ll pass on to my niece and granddaughters and I‘m sure they’ll be enthralled as I am by the Mortmain family.


That’s an excellent book. Which book would you leave to future generations? Why?

fullsizerenderMy sister recommended Still Alice by Lisa Genova and the story haunts me..
Alice Howland is a Harvard professor who discovers she has early-onset dementia. She tells her story for as long as she can tell it.
Alice starts out with a successful career, a husband and three grown children. When she first begins to grow forgetful, she dismisses it but eventually, when she gets lost in her own familiar neighbourhood, she realises that something is wrong. She is only 50 years old. As she loses her memory, will she lose herself? Alice has to learn to live in the moment but she is still Alice. This addresses one of my worst nightmares and Alice’s story helped me to discover and come to some understanding of the illness. I’m glad I read it and I hope future generations come to read it with the comfort of knowing Alzheimer’s disease has since become a treatable condition.

I also identify with Lisa Genova’s struggle to get this novel published. She self published in the end and, when the novel became a best-seller, she was accepted by a mainstream publisher and her novel was made into a film. Now who wouldn’t love to follow in those footsteps?

Who indeed. Thank you for sharing your favourite books with us, Chrissie. All the best with your latest book.


Chrissie’s book A Jarful of Moonbeams is available in ebook and print on Amazon. You can catch up with Chrissie on her blog, on Facebook or on Twitter@Chrissiebeee (3 eees).  



Would you would like to share your own Inheritance Books? Just email me on rhodabaxter(at)!

Goodreads book review: The Fairy’s Tale by F. D.Lee

The Fairy's Tale (The Pathways Tree, #1)The Fairy’s Tale by F. D. Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This partly a story about free will in an Orwellian state… and partly a story about stories.

Bea is a cabbage fairy who wants to be a fairy godmother. Fairies aren’t usually made godmothers… least of all cabbage fairies. In the meantime things are going wrong in the state – the mirrors are breaking and the human belief in Fae is fading.

This is a well thought out, well realised world. It’s also funny. Bea is a bit of a bumbling Everywoman (Everyfairy?) at the beginning, but gets stronger and stronger as a character as the book progresses.

My favourite character is probably Ana – the ugly sister who isn’t mean or stupid. She definitely gets the best lines. The relationship between her and her step sister Sindy is lovely too. King John was a bit annoying at first, but grew on me as we got to see more of him.

The ending was dramatic and Happy For Now (you can’t really have a Happy Ever After for Bea, seeing as the book is about narrative convention and predetermined plots!). There were a lot of loose threads at the end of the book – what happened to Seven? And who/what is Mistasinon? What’s the story with Melly? And Bea’s family? All fodder for sequels, I guess.

All in all, good fun. If you like Terry Pratchett, or the Artemis Fowl books, you’ll like this.

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It’s time for another colouring in advent calendar


A few years ago, I started drawing an advent calendar to colour in at work. I usually ask my favourite muse (who blogs over at The Inspiration Highway) for a theme. This year, it’s foxes. So here’s my foxy advent calendar to colour in. Have fun. Don’t forget to tweet me your colouring in pictures!


Download the PDF: 2016-christmas-colouring-in

Goodreads book review: The Velvet Cloak of Midnight by Christina Courtenay

The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight (Shadows from the Past #4)The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight by Christina Courtenay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve just realised I hadn’t reviewed this book. I finished it weeks ago, so my memory is already fading. (This is why I joined Goodreads – to keep track of what I read!)

This is a lovely story. It’s time slip/ ghost story. Sometimes, in time slips one of the stories over shadows the other (usually the one in the past is the more compelling one). In this case, both stories are equally compelling. I liked that a lot. All the characters were interesting and I really cared for them.
Now I want to go visit Raglan Castle!

Usual disclaimer – I write for the same publisher as Christina Courtenay. I received a free copy via Netgalley.

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