The Last House on the Street

This is a dual timeline novel, set in Round Hill, North Carolina, in both 1965 and 2010. In 1965, Ellie has decided to volunteer for SCOPE (Summer Community Organization and Political Education), which organized students in an effort to help African Americans in the South register to vote. She expected her family to object, but was not prepared for the level of anger aimed her way. In 2010, Kayla has just lost her husband to a tragic accident and is in unbelievable pain, continuing their plans to move into their new house in Round Hill. Then strange things begin happening, and it appears that someone does not want her there.

I enjoyed the description of and research into events in 1965. I was impressed with the character development of Ellie and Win. However, the events occurring in the 2010 timeline were not fully realized. Although there was a surprise at the end, the plot wasn’t completely developed or resolved. So much could have been added to make this a complete novel, such as more representation of the African American community in the 2010 timeline. Also while I loved the 1965 Ellie for the most part, the 2010 version of Ellie was a real letdown.

I was surprised, as I have loved all of Diane Chamberlain’s books prior to this one.

I received a free copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Diane Chamberlain

Diane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and (London) Sunday Times best-selling author of 27 novels. The daughter of a school principal who supplied her with a new book almost daily, Diane quickly learned the emotional power of story. Although she wrote many small “books” as a child, she didn’t seriously turn to writing fiction until her early thirties when she was waiting for a delayed doctor’s appointment with nothing more than a pad, a pen, and an idea. She was instantly hooked.

Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and lived for many years in both San Diego and northern Virginia. She received her master’s degree in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, she was a hospital social worker in both San Diego and Washington, D.C, and a psychotherapist in private practice in Alexandria, Virginia, working primarily with adolescents.

More than two decades ago, Diane was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, which changed the way she works: She wrote two novels using voice recognition software before new medication allowed her to get back to typing. She feels fortunate that her arthritis is not more severe and that she’s able to enjoy everyday activities as well as keep up with a busy travel schedule.

Diane lives in North Carolina with her significant other, photographer John Pagliuca, and their odd but lovable Shetland Sheepdog, Cole

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Book Review: A Christmas Legacy #Christmas #VictorianMystery

Gracie Tellman, former maid to Charlotte and Thomas Pitt, is enjoying her home and family in Victorian-era London and looking forward to Christmas with her daughter, Charlie, when a knock sounds at the door. Millie, a young maid in the Harcourt household, has come with disturbing news. High-quality food is disappearing, and it won’t be long before the mistress of the house finds out. The servants are scared that somebody will be accused of theft, and nobody knows the culprit. Gracie decides to take Millie’s place for nine days leading up to Christmas in order to solve this mystery. Gracie soon learns that all is not as it seems, and reveals that sometimes evil can parade about in fancy clothes.

This satisfying Christmas novella combines mystery, suspicion, upheaval, acts of kindness, and a Christmas miracle together to create a captivating story. The perils of servant life in a Victorian household are well described, and the young age of some of the servants at the time is shocking. The rich also had the ability in those days to completely ruin the lives of their servants by sending them to the street, homeless, with no reference. The fact that some homeowners held this power over the heads of those in their employ in order to terrorize them is disturbing. But despite the tumult, a sense of truth, loyalty, and fairness is also woven into the story, and it ends with a miracle so wonderful that it could only happen at Christmas. Anne Perry has once again created a Christmas tale that will captivate the reader and transport them straight to Victorian London during the holidays.

I received a free copy of this book from Ballantine Books for Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anne Perry is the bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels, including Dark Assassin and The Shifting Tide, and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including The Cater Street Hangman, Calandar Square, Buckingham Palace Gardens and Long Spoon Lane. She is also the author of the World War I novels No Graves As Yet, Shoulder the Sky, Angels in the Gloom, At Some Disputed Barricade, and We Shall Not Sleep, as well as six holiday novels, most recently A Christmas Grace. Anne Perry lives in Scotla

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Blog Tour and Review: Death in the Last Reel

BOOK DESCRIPTION

‘Stop standing in the way of bullets.’

‘I will if you will.’

Does the camera ever lie?

1911: After the violent murder of three policemen in the line of duty, tensions between London constabulary and Whitechapel anarchists simmer. Meanwhile accusations and counter accusations of espionage further weaken relations between Germany and Britain. Can Margaret Demeray and Fox find out which potential enemy is behind a threat to the capital before it’s too late?

In the shadow of violence in the East End, just as Dr Margaret Demeray starts to gain recognition for her pathology work, a personal decision puts her career at the hospital under threat. Needing to explore alternative options, she tries working with another female doctor in Glassmakers Lane. But in that genteel street, a new moving-picture studio is the only thing of any interest, and Margaret’s boredom and frustration lead to an obsessive interest in the natural death of a young woman in a town far away.

Meanwhile intelligence agent Fox is trying to establish whether rumours of a major threat to London are linked to known anarchist gangs or someone outside Britain with a different agenda. When another mission fails and he asks Margaret to help find out who provided the false intelligence that led him in the wrong direction, she can’t wait to assist.

BUY LINKS

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paula Harmon

Paula Harmon was born in North London to parents of English, Scottish and Irish descent. Perhaps feeling the need to add a Welsh connection, her father relocated the family every two years from country town to country town moving slowly westwards until they settled in South Wales when Paula was eight. She later graduated from Chichester University before making her home in Gloucestershire and then Dorset where she has lived since 2005. She is a civil servant, married with two adult children. Paula has several writing projects underway and wonders where the housework fairies are, because the house is a mess and she can’t think why.

BOOK REVIEW

This is a compelling mystery/thriller set in the United Kingdom in 1911, prior to Word War I. Margaret Demeray is a strong female protagonist–a pathologist who helps determine suspicious means of death. Intelligence Agent Fox is a spy, and the relationship between the two of them is full of sparks. The dialogue between our two protagonists is witty and fun, and they are not afraid of an argument. There are multiple storylines in this book, and they all progress well, with twists, turns, and surprises. The limits and constrictions put on women of that time are made evident. Real events from history are woven expertly into this story as the world appears about to begin The Great War. This is Book Two in the Margaret Demeray series, but can be read as a standalone.

Book Review: The Wind Chime

This is the first of the books I reviewed for the November 2021 edition of Historical Novels Review Magazine, and it is one of my favorites. Historical Novel Society just made this book an Editor’s Choice.

I had to wait to share these with you, but now that it’s November 1st, I can start posting the reviews I wrote two to three months ago. Enjoy.

In Windsor, England, 2019, Amelia is completely without family, having lost her daughter and then her parents to serious illness.  Without any surviving relatives, she is adrift and contemplates selling the family home in Windsor.  When fulfilling the last request of her mother to clear out the attic, she finds some intriguing photographs of a large estate in Pembrokeshire featuring the Attwater family.  When Amelia uncovers the diary of Osyth Attwater, she realizes she may have discovered some family secrets.  

In Pembrokeshire, Wales, 1883, young Osyth Attwater is a dreamer and writer who awaits the gathering of the Attwaters, her storytelling family, at their oceanside mansion each year.  There is a wind chime in the garden that signals the arrival of relatives, and she greatly looks forward to the tales they will tell.  But then she overhears a conversation that will shatter her world.

This dual timeline novel of family secrets, fairy tales, missing pieces, and a special wind chime is both enchanting and compelling.  In their separate timelines, Osyth and Amelia both search for answers.  The theme of mental health, and how it was managed in 1883 versus the present, is explored.  The secrets that families keep and the reasons they keep them is examined in heartbreaking detail. The pace and flow of this book are gorgeous, and we are caught up in the beauty of Wales, the magic of fairytales, and the mystery of family secrets.  With Amelia, we piece together puzzling bits of family history and try to see the whole picture. The Wind Chime will engage all of your senses as you see the gorgeous Victorian mansion, feel the heartbreak, smell the ocean air,  taste the tears of grief, and hear the wind chime calling you home.  This is a soul-touching and captivating read.  Highly recommend.

I received a free copy of this book from Sapere Books via Historical Novels Review Magazine. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alexandra Walsh

From tales spun for her teddies when she was a child (usually about mermaids) to film scripts, plays and novels, Alexandra Walsh has always been a storyteller. Words are her world. For over 25 years, she has been a journalist writing for a wide range of publications including national newspapers and glossy magazines. She spent some years working in the British film industry, as well as in television and radio: researching, advising, occasionally presenting and always writing.

Books dominate Alexandra’s life. She reads endlessly and tends to become a bit panicky if her next three books are not lined up and waiting. Characters, places, imagery all stay with her and even now she finds it difficult to pass an old wardrobe without checking it for a door to Narnia. As for her magical letter when she was 11, she can only assume her cat caught the owl!

Alexandra’s other passion is history, particularly the untold tales of women. Whether they were queens or paupers, their voices resonate with their stories, not only about their own lives but about ours, too. The women of the Tudor court have inspired her novels. Researching and writing The Marquess House Trilogy (Book One: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy) has brought together her love of history, mysteries and story telling.

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Book Review: When Ghosts Come Home

Winston Barnes, Sheriff of a Coastal North Carolina town in the 1980s, is investigating a plane crash. The pilot, passengers, and cargo have disappeared, a young black man is dead, and everyone is a suspect. At the same time, racial tension is exploding in the town, and the Sheriff’s daughter has left her husband and returned home. To top it all off, the Sheriff is in the middle of running for re-election.

This is a mystery told from multiple points of view, but also the story of a town torn apart by racism and corruption. Racism is the main theme, but the issue of grief is also explored. The author gives us a look deep into the hearts of the characters, especially Jay, Ed Bellamy, Winston, and Colleen. Not many mysteries can touch the heart, but this one does by baring the souls of the characters so well. 
It is written with the slow, rhythmical pace of a small town, but will occasionally reach out and slap you in the face with a shock or surprise, just as life will sometimes do. Fans of mysteries will enjoy this novel, but anyone who loves a well-developed story with complex characters should give this a read.

I received a free copy of this book from William Morrow and Custom House via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

COVER RATING

The photo on the cover is very relevant to the book. I’ve gotten used to graphic design on the covers, which I think might pop a little more than photos, but the colors in the clouds do stand out. Since Cash is already a best-selling author, is the cover still just as important? What does everyone else think?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wiley Cash is the New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home. He’s been a fellow at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and he teaches fiction writing and literature at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, where he serves as Alumni Author-in-Residence. His new novel, When Ghosts Come Home, will be available September 21. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, photographer Mallory Cash, and their daughters.

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Blog Tour and Book Review: Wilson Indeed

*Book Review near the bottom of the page

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Book Blurb :- In The Market Square, the fantastical setting for all his dream activities, Wilson Armitage is able to take night classes on any subject and absorb a wealth of knowledge from just a few hours of sleep.  As though logging into a wifi of dreams to download information.  As his childhood passes, both wary of and reticent to acknowledge his extraordinary ability, Wilson attempts to lead a normal life and stay beneath the radar of family and friends.At the age of seventeen however, his cover is blown by Daisy Meadowcroft.  During a chance encounter in The Market Square, they agree to meet the next day and are propelled from a dream world into the reality of a coffee shop in the centre of Manchester.  Enthralled by their shared gift, they strike up a close friendship and encourage each other to seek a rational, scientific explanation for their unique talents.

Butterfly Assassins, the second book in the trilogy, is available on Amazon.

In a recent survey, 85% of people said yes to the question: “Do you believe there are things out there that science can’t explain?”

If you’re one of those 85%, you’ll love The WiFi of Dreams series.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steve Walsh

For twenty years Steve Walsh honed his skills in prose as an advertising copywriter; the ‘ideas’ man in a Manchester based marketing agency that carried his name.

In the late 1990’s he stumbled into the world of the dotcom entrepreneur and his claim to fame is as the creator of the hotel booking service, laterooms.com and the first car insurance comparison site, easycover.com. So, the birth of Meerkats, a Welsh opera singer, and being confused.com might be considered as down to him, for which he apologizes. 

He now uses his vivid imagination and gentle Mancunian wit to write visionary fantasy novels with bold concepts. Wilson indeed, the first book in his trilogy The WiFi of Dreams takes the reader on a richly imagined, fact meets fiction adventure story to which we can relate and feel we can touch. A whimsical interrogation of the inexplicable and fundamental tenets of our lives – the role and meaning of dreams, the nature of the hereafter, hard and soft science, a love story – what more can you want? 

BOOK REVIEW

I was captivated by this imaginative novel that immediately throws you straight into the action on the first page. At first, this book seems to be going a certain direction, but suddenly you realize you are reading something extraordinary and going on an amazing adventure with the intriguing young Wilson. Going to school in his dreams, Wilson can speak several languages, restore classic vehicles, perform life-saving medical procedures, and more, and he is still a kid.

When he meets Daisy in the dream state and they decide to meet in the real world, that’s when the fun really begins, and when danger starts to lurk ever closer. From the dream world to the real world, Wilson’s abilities soon become known to the “powers that be.” When Wilson and Daisy investigate the disappearance of Vanessa, the mother of Wilson’s best friend, they truly begin to shake things up.

Wilson Indeed is a captivating mix of fantasy, science and mystery that will take you on a fascinating ride into the world of dreams. Through Wilson and Daisy, we can explore the possibilities of what can happen when the fantastical world we visit when we sleep crosses into real life. This is the first book in the Wifi of Dreams series. I highly recommend this to fans of Fantasy, Young Adult, Mystery, and Science Fiction, as well as those who love genre mashups.

Thank you to Zooloo’s Book Tours for a copy of this book. I also purchased one on Amazon. My opinions are voluntary and are my own.

This is a 5-star read for me. I will note, however, that the book needs a better cover. The cover should be as fantastical and imaginative as the story.

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Book Review: Murder at Wakehurst

After the death of her uncle, Cornelius Vanderbilt, in 1899, Emma Cross is in mourning and has no desire to accompany her cousin Neily (Cornelius Vanderbilt III) to a decadent and rousing party. The party will be held in Newport, Rhode Island, at the home of a member of one of America’s richest and most powerful families. But Neily had been estranged from his late father, and his wife Grace implores Emma to attend to help keep him out of trouble. Then, during an elaborate jousting ceremony, a distinguished judge is murdered, and Emma finds the body. Police detective Jesse Whyte does not seem to be on the case as usual. There is a new detective, and he wants no help from Emma. Emma, a reporter, continues to investigate the crime anyway, with the help of Derrick Andrews, heir to a Providence newspaper fortune. This is the ninth book in the Gilded Newport series.

This fantastic series continues with another installment, and plenty of twists, turns, and red herrings. The life of opulence lived by the Gilded Age’s privileged families is richly described. As a Vanderbilt cousin, Emma has access to elegant parties and mansions, but she is also looked down upon by some as a poor relation who has to work for a living. While sometimes hanging with the high-flyers, Emma keeps her feet firmly on the ground. Her position as an outsider with connections is an intriguing one, as she can hold her own amongst the elite, but is also accepted in the staff kitchens. This is another gripping and clever mystery about a sleuth who inhabits two worlds at once, and it will transport you to a time of luxury, greed, and the quest for power. Highly recommended.

I received a free copy of this book from Kensington Books for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own. 

Murder at Wakehurst will be released on August 31, 2021. Books 1 – 8 in the Gilded Newport Mysteries are available now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alyssa Maxwell

Alyssa Maxwell knew from an early age that she wanted to be a writer. Growing up in New England and traveling to Great Britain fueled a passion for history, while a love of puzzles drew her to the mystery genre. She is the author of The Gilded Newport Mysteries and A Lady and Lady’s Maid Mysteries. She and her husband reside in Florida, where she is a member of the Mystery Writers of America-Florida Chapter, Sisters in Crime, and the Florida Romance Writers. 

BUY LINKS FOR MURDER AT WAKEHURST

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#Audiobook Review: Once There Were Wolves

This review is of the audiobook, provided to me by MacMillan Audio. 

Once There Were Wolves is the tale of two sisters, one of whom works with endangered wolves. Inti Flynn comes to Scotland, along with a team of wildlife biologists, to reintroduce gray wolves into the Scottish Highlands. She brings her twin sister Aggie, who has suffered horrible abuse, with her. Inti is met with anger and fear from the neighboring farmers who are afraid the wolves are going to attack their sheep. When a farmer is found dead, suspicion falls upon the wolves, and maybe Inti herself.

This is a beautiful book that gives us a peek into the lives of gray wolves, and the difficulties of introducing them back to their native habitats. Inti has a special and fascinating gift or curse, which allows her to understand the wolves and her fellow humans on a very intimate level. She has mirror touch synesthesia, which causes her to physically feel the pain and sensations of others, including animals. Aggie’s withdrawal into herself and Inti’s ability to communicate with her twin is touching and real. The murder mystery is intricate and nuanced, with many twists and turns. 

The audiobook narrator, Saskia Maareveld, did a wonderful job with all the characters, taking on different roles and accents with ease.

My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.

Once There Were Wolves will be released August 3, 2021.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Charlotte McConaghy

​Charlotte McConaghy is an Australian author living in Sydney. She has a Masters Degree in Screenwriting from the Australian Film Television and Radio School, and a number of published SFF works in Australia. 

Her novel MIGRATIONS is her first foray into adult literary fiction, published in North America by Flatiron Books, and by Penguin Random House in Australia and the UK. It is being translated into over 20 languages, and adapted to film. 

Fuelled by her love of nature and her interest in stories of fierce women, McConaghy’s newest novel, ONCE THERE WERE WOLVES, is about a biologist charged with reintroducing wolves to the Scottish Highlands in order to rewild the landscape and bring a forest back to life. It will be released in August 2021.

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MY INSTAGRAM POST

I recently started spending some time on my previously neglected Instagram account, and I’d love to get some more followers and “likes” over there, so there is a link to my Instagram post for “Once There Were Wolves” in the photo above, and if you have an Instagram account, please follow and I will follow back.

#Blog Tour: The Spinster’s Fortune

THE SPINSTER’S FORTUNE BY MARY KENDALL

*Book Review at the bottom of the page

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Publication Date: April 6, 2021
Darkstroke Books
Paperback & eBook; 227 pages

Genre: Historical Mystery

Moonlit alleys, shadowy tunnels, and buried secrets…

Summer of 1929.

Of supposed unsound mind without a penny to her name, Blanche Magruder lies alone in a home for the aged and infirm.

Meanwhile, her house, a crumbled ruin in the heart of Georgetown, Washington, D.C., is pillaged nightly by thieves looking for treasure rumored to be hidden there.

A distant niece, Margaret O’Keefe, is tapped as executor and soon becomes embroiled in the hunt for recovering monies, taking it on as a welcome escape from her financial and marital woes.

As Margaret discovers caches in unlikely spots throughout the house, family mysteries begin to unravel. She questions whether Aunt Blanche is an insane fool or a daring genius, yet Margaret must also wrangle with her own hidden truths.

Pressed towards a convergence of their pasts and presents, the two women must ultimately face down a fateful discovery in order to rectify their lives.

Shrouded in gothic undertones and dark artifice, THE SPINSTER’S FORTUNE is a tale that takes the reader on a strange journey through tangled webs of family deceit. But where does it end?

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Kendall

Mary Kendall lived in old (and haunted) houses growing up which sparked a life-long interest in history and story-telling. She earned degrees in history related fields and worked as an historian for many years. Her fiction writing is heavily influenced by the past which she believes is never really dead and buried.

Fueled by black coffee and a possible sprinkling of Celtic fairy dust, she tends to find inspiration in odd places and sometimes while kneading bread dough.

The author currently resides in Maryland with her family (husband, three kids, barn cat and the occasional backyard hen) who put up with her mad scribbling at inconvenient hours.

THE SPINSTER’S FORTUNE , a mystery set in Georgetown, Washington DC, is her debut novel and is a twisty, tangled dive into a web of family deception murky with gothic undertone

#BOOK REVIEW

This is an intriguing historical mystery set in 1929 in Washington D.C. It is loosely based on the story of the real Blanche Magruder, who actually hid treasure in her house for her relatives to find. Although it is set in 1929, through Blanche we are transported to the Civil War era and other events during her life. Each character is fascinating in his or her own way, but none more so than the spinster sisters, Emily and Blanche. Margaret’s story, including the treasure hunt, her shaky marriage, and her growth as a person, is in itself a captivating tale. The attempts of others to benefit off of the carefully hidden treasure is interesting to watch. This story has it all–a hidden treasure, well written characters, intrigue, lies, and a shocking surprise. This book is so well done that I was surprised it is Mary Kendall’s debut novel. I can’t wait to read her next one. I received a free copy of this book through Hall of Fame Virtual Book Tours. My opinions are my own.

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#Book Review: The Thin Place

This was another book I reviewed for the May issue of Historical Novels Review, and it was also an Editor’s Choice.

Scotland, present day. Reporter Ava is working on a story about Overtoun Bridge, outside Overtoun House in West Dunbartonshire, Scotland. Over the years, at least fifty dogs have jumped to their deaths from the bridge. Legends describe Overtoun Bridge as a “thin place,” where the boundary between Heaven and Earth is very thin. The locals will not cooperate, so Ava, pregnant with her first child, begins to investigate. Ava is also trying to get medical history from her mother, who was adopted, but she is uncooperative.

In 1929 England, Marion meets Hamish at a tea dance at the Savoy Hotel. She is swept quickly into marriage and is soon living in the huge and mostly unused Overtoun House in Scotland, sometimes visited by a very absent husband who has little love to share with her.

In 1949 in Scotland, Constance is confined to her room by her mother because she is very ill. Her mother and the doctor are the only people she sees, and she longs for contact with the outside world. When her mother brings her a puppy, some joy comes into her life.

This is a captivating but chilling historical mystery which combines the very real Overtoun house with fictional characters to create an intriguing story. The reports of dogs jumping to their deaths from Overtoun Bridge are heartbreaking but true facts that are spun into this fascinating mystery. The characters are well developed, and their connections begin to come alive. Overtoun House itself becomes a character, alternating between telling secrets and refusing to give them up. The bridge seems to live and breathe, hoping to lure captors to their deaths. This is a spellbinding novel that I highly recommend to those who enjoy historical mysteries with a touch of the paranormal.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Historical Novels Review. My review is voluntary.

NOTE: The mystery of dogs jumping off of the Overtoun Bridge is very real. At least 300, if not more, dogs have inexplicably jumped off the bridge. At least 50 of them have died. If you would like to read more about this mystery, check out this link.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

C.D. Major

C.D.Major is the pen name of Cesca Major – a novelist and screenwriter. 

Cesca has always been fascinated by mysteries from the recent past. 

Her book THE OTHER GIRL was a number 1 Amazon Bestseller and longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award in 2021. It’s a historical thriller perfect for members of a book club. Set in an asylum in 1940s New Zealand it is inspired by the strange phenomenon of children claiming to have past life memories. Her latest book, set in the present day, THE THIN PLACE is based around the sinister happenings at Overtoun Bridge in Scotland – a place where dogs have been known to leap to their deaths. 

Cesca has presented shows for ITV West and Sky Channels in the past. She enjoys hosting or speaking on festival panels and films vlogs about the writing process. She runs writing retreats twice a year in the West Country and teaches creative writing courses for the Henley School of Art. She writes uplifting books under her own name and the pseudonym Rosie Blake, and currently has an original TV series in development. Cesca lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and twin girls.

She loves to hear from readers so please feel free to send her a message over at Twitter or Instagram.

Website

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