Book Review: Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar

Rosa here. Now Halloween is over, I love indulging in festive books so I was excited to find a copy of Kiley Dunbar’s Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop in my Box of Romance. I adored the prequel to this, The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday so was happy to revisit Clove Lore.

Book Review: Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar

Book cover for Christmas at the Borrow the Bookshop.  A traditional bookshop in the snow with a Christmas wreath on the door and decorated with lights. A woman in a bobbly hate and jumper walking towards it. Christmas trees are in the foreground
Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar

Title: Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop

Author: Kiley Dunbar

Publisher: Hera

Genre: festive romance

Release Date: 1st September 2022

Purchase Links

AMZ: https://amzn.to/39v0coN

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3QpSgpj

Apple: https://apple.co/3Oewbs0

Hive: https://bit.ly/3HI1olz

Blurb

‘Tis the season for finding love… and the perfect book

With just two weeks until Christmas, everything in Clove Lore should be perfect. But the latest holidaymaker to the Borrow a Bookshop is feeling far from festive…

Icelandic ex-bookseller Magnús Sturluson might be surrounded by love stories in the Bookshop, but he’s nursing a sadness that not even fiction can fix.

When Alexandra Robinson finds herself stranded in Clove Lore, she finds a safe place to hide from heartbreak. After all, all that’s waiting for her at home is a cheater boyfriend and the memories of her parents. As Alex finds herself embraced by the quirky village community, she finds her tough exterior thawing – and as she grows closer to Magnús, she finds an equally soft heart under his gruff shell.

It seems that Clove Lore is working its magic once again – until a great flood on Christmas Eve brings devastation in its wake. It’s up to Magnús and Alex to batten down the hatches and help bring the village back together again, while also introducing the locals to the Icelandic tradition of the jólabókaflóð – Yule book flood – where families and friends gather on Christmas Eve to exchange books and read together.

But can Magnús and Alex truly rescue the ruins of the village, and salvage their Christmas spirit? Or is there another complication lurking even closer than they thought?

Rosa’s Thoughts from the Emporium

Kiley Dunbar is an author I know I can turn to for a comfort read with quirky characters to love and a location I can immerse myself in. This book was no exception. Clove Lore and the bookshop welcomed me back like a hug and it was a joy to catch up with old favourite characters like Minty, Jude and Eliot, and of course, Aldous the dog.

The bookshop and its café is a perfect location for a Christmas story as it oozes cosiness and warmth especially when the characters sink into chairs in front of the fire surrounded by books. With the village decorated with Christmas decorations it made me feel festive even in September.

Magnus and Alex provided a fresh story and when their pasts were revealed, I was cheering them both on hoping they would both get the happy ending they deserved. Unlike many romances, Magnus and Alex get on so it was lovely to see the friendship flourish but then it meant the heartache cuts deeper when trials come their way.

The flood highlighted the devasting wide ranging effects disasters like this have but also showed the strength communities and people have when pushed to the brink.

With bookshops, the Christmas tradition of jólabókaflóð, a strong community and romance in the air, this novel is perfect for a heart-warming festive read on a cold evening with a hot chocolate or favourite drink.

It can be read as a standalone, but like all novels set in a village location, reading the first novel will give added depth to the reading experience as you have a connection with the secondary characters too.

Author Biography

Black and white photo of Kiley Dunbar
White woman, with dark long hair and glasses
Kiley Dunbar

Kiley Dunbar writes heart-warming, escapist, romantic fiction set in beautiful places, with One Winter’s Night being shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Comedy Novel Award 2021.

Kiley’s five novels include: The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday (May 2021), One Winter’s Night (September 2020), Summer at the Highland Coral Beach (2020), Christmas at Frozen Falls (2019) and One Summer’s Night (2019).

Social Media Links


Website and newsletter: http://www.kileydunbar.co.uk/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCI8wM4Fmkbyg4S_XGSnfUCA

https://twitter.com/kileydunbar

https://www.facebook.com/KileyDunbarAuthor/

Advertisement

Book Review: Tree Glee by Cheryl Rickman

The witches of Whitby are thrilled to be on the blog tour for Tree Glee by Cheryl Rickman especially Amber. All witches have a connection with the natural world but Amber developed an affinity with trees at a young age and is always on the look out for more knowledge on them.

Scroll down to see her unbiased view. Thanks to Random Things Tours for a beautiful advanced copy to read.

Book Review: Tree Glee by Cheryl Rickman

Title: Tree Gless

Author: Cheyl Rickman

Publisher: Wellbeck

Genre: Well-being, Nature, Non-fiction

Release Date: 13th October 2022

Blurb:

Tree Glee fuses nature writing, psychology and self-help wellbeing guidance all backed up by the latest scientific research.

Trees and humans essentially want the same thing – to live good, happy, purposeful lives and to flourish. We are inextricably bound. Trees provide us with the necessities of life – they clean the air we breathe, fill us with awe as we walk through forests and provide timber for the houses we live in, yet there are deeper reasons for our arboreal admiration that go beyond utility and beauty.

‘This lovely book is an absolute gem’
Joanna Lumley, Tree Aid Patron


‘Trees are so important to our health and that of the planet. This inspirational book shows just how we can thrive together’ Alan Titchmarsh MBE

Written by Positive Psychology practitioner and long-time tree-lover Cheryl Rickman, Tree Glee explores how trees
can become an essential tool in our wellbeing toolkit, helping us to feel better in a variety of different and
fascinating ways.


Looking at the psychology behind our fascination with trees, and the science behind how they comfort, restore and
revitalise us, Tree Glee examines what we can learn from the wisdom of woodlands to improve our own wellness.
Alongside this, Cheryl explores the importance of trees in our leafy suburbs and urban landscapes, sharing magical
stories of remarkable ancient trees across the globe and invites readers to reflect on their own personal ‘treestory’.


Featuring captivating photos and chapters on forest bathing and nature therapy, woodland wellbeing and tree
mythology, creative activities and conservation initiatives, Tree Glee is part ode and love letter to trees, part
practical wellbeing guide and nature-connection manual and part call to action. The book explores how by
deepening our appreciation and connection to trees and by celebrating and protecting them, we can flourish
together.

Thoughts from the Emporium

What a wonderful book! Not only does it look good, thanks to the clear layout and inspirational photographs that make you want to step outside and experience nature for yourself, it is a joy to read. Amber has always felt calmer when surrounded by trees, and they are essential for her wellbeing but now she knows the reasons why and can tap into it further.

Unlike many books where she has got overwhelmed by science, Tree Glee is highly accessible without losing any depth. There is a wealth of information including biology, psychology and ecology which is perfectly blended with Cheryl’s own experiences, mythology, suggested activities to connect with nature and appreciate it. The storytelling section tapped into Amber’s creative side and is tempted to do the #100DaysOfTrees Challenge where you record the beauty of trees for 100 days. Cheryl Rickman’s can be found on her Instagram @treeglee

Tree Glee is a must read for fellow tree and nature lovers or those wanting to improve their mental health. It would make an ideal Christmas gift too. Amber’s copy will be well loved and have a treasured spot on her own forever shelf as well as on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf.

Author Biography

Cheryl Rickman

Cheryl Rickman is a proud tree-hugger and advocate for the power of nature as a healer and energy-giver. She is also a Sunday Times best-selling author and a qualified positive psychology practitioner. Cheryl specializes in writing empowering, practical books to help people fret less and flourish more and is a wellbeing ambassador for the Network of Wellbeing. She owns a small parcel of ancient woodland in the Hampshire countryside with her partner.

Twitter @tree glee @writeruk
Instagram @treeglee @wellbeingauthor
Facebook facebook.com/groups/treeglee
Website www.TreeGlee.co.uk www.CherylRickman.co.uk

Other blogs on this tour
14th Nov Domi Marchi (IG) @domi.marchi
15th Nov
Travelling Page Turner (IG) @travelling_pageturner
16th Nov
Stratosphere Kawaii Girl (IG) @stratospherekawaiigirl
17th Nov
Barnstaple Bookworm (IG) @branstaple_bookworm
18th Nov
Half man, half book @halfmanhalfb00k
21 Nov
Booksta Bons (IG) @bookstabons
22nd Nov
The Enchanted Emporium Bookshelf @WitchesOf Whitby
23rd Nov
Books on a hill (IG) @books_on_a_hill
Wild Writing Life @wildwritinglife
24th Nov
Lynda's book reviews (IG) @lyndoas_bookreviews
25th Nov
Salbo Reads (IG) @salboreads
Other books on the tour

Book Review: Winter’s Ghosts by Victoria Connelly

No sign of frost yet at the Witch’s Yard, Whitby but there is a chill in the air that isn’t from the hauntings of the resident ghosts. The Christmas market has arrived with the aroma of cinnamon and spice, and the lights have been switched on so it’s a magical time of the year and Rosa’s favourite season to curl up with a festive book. Excitement brewed in the Emporium with the arrival of The Wrong Ghost by Victoria Connelly on the Enchanted Bookshelf, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources. Her Book Lovers series is a firm favourite in Rosa’s Box of Romance so Rosa and Willow couldn’t wait to read.

Scroll down for their unbiased opinion.

Book Review: Winter’s Ghosts by Victoria Connelly

The Wrong Ghost by Victoria Connelly book cover. Winter scene- snowy foreground with a castle/mansion in the background with snow covered trees.
The Wrong Ghost by Victoria Connelly

Title: The Wrong Ghost

Author: Victoria Connelly

Release date: 31st October 2022

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wrong-Ghost-Victoria-Connelly-ebook/dp/B0B623PT2Y

US – https://www.amazon.com/Wrong-Ghost-Victoria-Connelly-ebook/dp/B0B623PT2Y

Blurb

When Beatrice Beaumont loses her husband, George, she finds herself raising their young daughter alone in the ancestral home, Ketton Hall, deep in the Suffolk countryside. With Christmas approaching and marking the first anniversary of George’s death, there’s nothing Bea wants more than to have him back again.

One night, she makes a wish for him to return and gets the shock of her life when a ghost appears. But it isn’t her George…

The Wrong Ghost is a delightful Christmas tale, full of warmth and charm, perfect for a dark winter’s night in a cosy, candle-lit room.

Thoughts from the Emporium

Behind this beautiful cover that encapsulates the wintery season was a delightful and gentle ghost story. As a novella of 114 pages, it provided the ideal escape from the everyday stresses for a chilly evening or two. Victoria Connelly has a talent for bringing a location alive with her descriptions by using not only sight, but touch, smell and sound and this is used well especially in scenes for Bea’s floristry YouTube videos. Both Willow and Rosa agreed they were immersed in the story and stood alongside Beatrice when she discovered Ketton Hall has more residents than she imagined. It delved into the history of the house and a tantalising mystery.

This is not a tale of horror but of grief, love and moving forward with hope. Bea’s emotions of the upcoming anniversary of her husband’s death and Christmas were dealt with sensitively and provided an instant connection to her and the wrong George. The themes covered could easily have been developed into a full-blown novel but are perfectly formed for an entertaining and warming read.

It will be highly recommended to visitors to the enchanted bookshelf and Rosa’s Box of Romance.

Author Biography

Photo of Victoria Connelly. A smiling white woman, blonde shoulder length hair. Sitting on a window seat
Victoria Connelly

Victoria Connelly lives in a 500-year old thatched cottage in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens. She is the million-selling author of two bestselling series, The Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in Germany. Victoria loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden either with a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.

Social Media Links –

Website: www.victoriaconnelly.com

Instagram: @victoriaconnellyauthor

Facebook: @victoriaconnellyauthor

Twitter: @VictoriaDarcy

16th Nov
Portobello Book Blog
Being Anne
A Little Book Problem
17th Nov
Annette_Reads_Daily 
Nicki's Book Blog
@Karenandherbooks
18th Nov
Jane Hunt Writer (Joliffe01)
Tizi's Book Review
@Libraryoflouise
18th Nov
Bookish Jottings
Captured on Film
Tealeavesandbookleaves
20th Nov
Splashes into books
The Enchanted Emporium Bookshelf
Books Are Cool
21st Nov
HTDK2002.Reads
Chick Lit Central
Rae Reads
22nd Nov
Between the lines 
StaceyWH_17
LoopyLouLaura
Other blogs on this tour

Book Review: Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by Helen Rolfe

While there maybe a strict no Christmas rule in The Enchanted Emporium until 1st December, it doesn’t extend into the courtyard outside. Sitting next to the enchanted lending library, Rosa’s Box of Romance has been decorated with fairy lights and tinsel to reflect the books inside. It’s full of this year’s festive treats for visitors to borrow or exchange including Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by Helen Rolfe thanks to Random Things Tours.

Rosa is excited to share her honest and unbiased review as part of the blog tour.

Book Review: Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by Helen Rolfe

Book cover for Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by  Helen Rolfe
Pale blue cover with festive landscape at the bottom. A shop glowing with fairy lights and flanked by 2 Christmas trees
Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by Helen Rolfe

Title: Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop

Author: Helen Rolfe

Publisher: Orion

Genre: Romance, Festive

Release Date: 22nd October 2022

Blurb

Can three sisters stitch their family back together?

Loretta has run the little sewing shop in Butterbury for years, while bringing up her three headstrong daughters. Her own grandmother taught her how to quilt, and Loretta always found time to sit with Daisy, Ginny and Fern, pulling together scraps of material – and their hopes and dreams – into a beautiful whole.

But this Christmas the family is coming apart at the seams: Fern feels like she’s failing at motherhood and marriage; Ginny’s passion for her job as a midwife is fading, Daisy is keeping two very different secrets – and most of all, Loretta seems to be hiding something from her daughters…

As they come together to create a beautiful new festive quilt, memories are stirred, the bonds between sisters healed, and new friendships woven. But when Loretta reveals the real reason she’s gathered them all back to the sewing shop, can the sisters mend the quilt, and their family, in time for Christmas?

Full of kindness, community and festive magic, this is a treat to curl up with this Christmas! Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Jenny Colgan and Ali McNamara

Thoughts from the Emporium

The title and blurb drew Rosa in thanks, in part to the recent chat in the shop about the special meaning quilts after the history of Willow’s beloved childhood patchwork quilt was revealed in Old Jax’s Quilt. It promised to be as cosy and warming as the quilt the sisters were making and it didn’t disappoint. Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop was a delightful and heart-warming start to Rosa’s festive reading.

The Sewing Box is an ideal setting for a festive read and made a refreshing read from the usual bakery or café. The family business was built on love and community which showed in the colourful and detailed descriptions of the shop and the sisters’ current and past sewing projects. Reading about how memories were held in each patch encouraged Rosa to pick up a needle and begin some festive projects of her own to create heirlooms and traditions for her small family including her own version of an advent calendar. For readers who have a creative side, this novel is an inspiring Christmas treat.

The village and wintery landscape also extended the feeling of escapism away from the family home and the sense of community and care was just what was needed in these troubling times.

Told in all the sisters and their mum, Loretta’s, point of view it gave an insight into each life, motivation and reason for drifting apart which made Rosa invested in a happy ending. They’re all relatable characters especially Fern with her desire for perfection and Loretta for a close knit family again.  It tugged at the heart. While there is a thread of romance through this book, the focus is on the bond sisters can have, idyllic locations, friendship and a tight knit community where healing and love can flourish.

It’s ideal for the dark evenings, snuggled under a duvet with hot chocolate or festive tea.

Author Biography

Helen Rolfe sitting on a wooden park bench reading. She is a white woman, shoulder length light brown hair wearing jeans, black top and sunglasses
Helen Rolfe

Helen Rolfe writes contemporary women’s fiction and enjoys weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and community. Characters often face challenges and must fight to overcome them, but above all, Helen’s stories always have a happy ending

Social media

Twitter @HJRolfe

Website www.helenjrolfe.com

Other blogs on this tour list
14th Nov
Handwritten girl @handwritten
Tealeaves and Bookleaves @fitzgerald631
Stacey Hammond (IG) @stacey_wh17
15th Nov
Karen K is reading @karenkingston8
Travelling Page turner (IG) @travelling_pageturner
Mrs E 2017 (IG) @mrse2017
16th Nov
Coffee Books and escape (IG) @coffeebookandescape
Strastosphere Kawaii Girl (IG) @stratospherekawaiigirl
The Enchanted Emporiun Bookshelf @WitchesOf Whitby
Bookish Jottings @BookishJottings
Other blogs on this tour

Monday Merry Meet: J C Clarke

Welcome to a foggy day in Whitby. Or is it sea fret? Willow is never sure but from the Emporium’s shop window, the old gaslight is just an eerie amber glow and the entrance to Black Cat Alley is hidden in the mist. Luckily, today’s guest, Jo Clarke, author of Spellboda has written directions on how to find the shop and Vincent, Willow’s ginger Maine Coon has been sent to find her. While guiding people to the alley is usually Black Cat’s job, a ghost feline and fog doesn’t mix however determined he is.

Everyone read and loved Spellboda ( review can be found here) and are thrilled to chat with Jo Clarke today.

Monday Merry Meet: Jo Clarke

Willow: Hi Jo, please come through to the back. Be careful of a rogue broomstick. It needs a repair and is fed up with waiting so keeps tripping people up to get attention. Can I get you a drink? We have a selection of tea, including Yorkshire, coffee or maybe something stronger?

Jo Clarke: Hey Willow, thanks – I’d love a cup of red berry tea. The broomstick is on good form today – I had to dodge it, so gave it a quick hug to make it feel better. I’m not sure if it liked it or not though!

Amber: Hi Jo, is it okay to crack the window open? A few of our avian friends heard you were coming and have gathered to listen to you speak. I think they like the idea of a Spellboda. I’d let them in, but the seagull will pinch the cakes and biscuits we have on the table.

Jo Clarke: Hi Amber, yes, please do… and if the seagull promises to behave, then they could make themselves comfortable with us. If you’ve got any spare carrot cake, please send it my way – it looks irresistible.

Willow: We all fell in love with the first chapter of Spellboda with its description of flight. Did this scene inspire you to write this novel or was it the characters and plot which came first?

Jo Clarke: Thank you. I really wanted to be able to show flight from a bird’s perspective and I’m over the moon so that so many readers have responded to the opening and fallen in love with it. Trevor was definitely the instigator of Spellboda. He wandered into my head one day and nagged me until I wrote him and his story!

Rosa: The relationship between Midge and Trevor is beautiful. Have you experienced of a similar relationship with a bird?

Jo Clarke: There are a few times when I’ve really connected with a bird. One was a red kite, who would soar and fly happily above me, and was the gentlest soul. Another time was when I raised a snowy owl, from the moment of her hatching. The wish to be able to talk to them is another inspiration for Spellboda. I find it amazing that it’s possible to have a connection with them, but they remain at heart wild and untamed. The feeling that they are near you because they choose to be is both humbling and awe-inspiring.

Picture of peregrine falcon aka Midge

Willow: We’ve spoken to many authors now and each have a unique publication journey. What has yours been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

Jo Clarke: My journey happened through covid, so it was a strange disjointed time of so much uncertainty, difficulty and sadness. Going through areas such as cover design and marketing planning while isolating made it all rather a detached process, but of course it couldn’t be helped. One of the stages I enjoyed the most was working with a professional editor, which helps so much to shape and craft a good story. I wish I’d been brave enough to take Trevor’s advice sooner and believe in myself, but I haven’t met a writer yet who isn’t plagued with self-doubt. Next time I’ll make sure I listen to Trevor and believe I can do it!

Willow: Do you have a specific writing routine?

Jo Clarke: I try to write every day, or five out of seven at least. If I can write 1000 words, that’s a good day! I have a tendency to over-edit as I never think anything is ever good enough, but I think a lot of writers share that habit! After completing a manuscript, I’ll walk away from it for at least two weeks, sometimes longer, and then go back to it with fresh eyes.

Amber: I’m attempting to write stories of my own. Do you have any advice for new writers?

Jo Clarke: My primary advice would be not to give up. The more you write, the better, and always be open to constructive help. It’s scary when first received, but I often found the more I worked on constructive third party ideas and thoughts for the story, the more I would then progress it myself. I find it hugely helps the creative process.

Rosa: Though my son is younger than the age group Spellboda is aimed at, I’m reading it to him at bedtime. It’s helping him understand that some children struggle to talk. How important do you think representing disabilities is in fiction?

Jo Clarke: I think this is super-important, especially for children during this time of social media presentations of ‘perfection’. I feel it’s important to try and protect them from the pressures of having to conform, and to celebrate being who they are, with all their skills and talents, however they present themselves. And to believe that every young person is significant… no-one more or less than any other.

Willow: We sell a number of candles in The Wishing Spell range in The Enchanted Emporium. They promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

Jo Clarke: I’d choose either a good night sleep, or confidence. The first because my brain goes into overdrive at night and I wish it wouldn’t! At home we call this having brain chimps… jumping around, playing and when they really get going they make it impossible to sleep! Or I’d choose confidence to help me with my current writing project…

Willow: I know that brain overdrive feeling well and it’s a wonderful description. We have one candles that invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day, when lit. Where would it take you?

Jo Clarke: It would take me to the top of Shining Tor in Derbyshire. One of my favourite places on the planet, and where Spellboda both begins and ends. It’s magical: wild and breathtakingly beautiful. One of those special places where I feel my heart can rest and be peaceful.

Amber: Ghosts and paranormal activity plague The Enchanted Emporium. Have you had any spooky experiences and have they influenced your writing?

Jo Clarke: I live near Pluckley, the most haunted village in England allegedly, with tales of ghosts of a red lady, a highwayman, a coach and horses and various other poor souls who met their ends in unpleasant ways who are said to frequent the village. Although I haven’t seen any there myself yet, I did experience a ghostly apparition once when I was younger. I love all the possibilities of magic, legend and the unknown… anything is possible – and why not keep an open mind?

Willow: If the witches could blend a potion to give you a superpower or special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

Jo Clarke: I’d love to be able to fly, and talk to birds myself, so I guess being able to become a bird for the day would be top of my list. And I’d choose to be a falcon, like Midge, so I could experience a stoop (vertical downward super high speed flight) myself, to see what they see, feel what they feel and understand how it happens.

Amber: I’m nosy, do you have a favourite place to write and read?

Jo Clarke: My favourite place would be at home, in my book room. It’s peaceful, has lots of light, a good view over the garden where I can see oversized rabbits lolloping around, and a cosy little fireplace for winter days.

Amber: That sounds a dream room. The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf is dedicated to books with a magical, fantasy or paranormal leaning. What book would you add?

Jo Clarke: Without doubt The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and its sequel, The Moon of Gomrath, by Alan Garner. He’s my inspiration and I hope so much one day I can write as well as him!

Rosa: I have a Box of Romance, full of romantic novels for people to borrow. What would you add there?

Jo Clarke: Sorry Rosa, I don’t read much romance but I thought the Twilight novels were very romantic.

Rosa: And finally, what are you working on at the moment? Or is it top secret? 

Jo Clarke: This goes back to my need for a confidence candle! I’ve been asked to write the script for Spellboda – the movie – by an LA production company so I’m working on that now. It’s so exciting but also nerve-wracking! I’m also writing book two of Trevor’s adventures, so busy days!

Willow: That sounds amazing and we’d love to see Spellboda on the screen. Good luck with your new ventures. I’ve slipped a complimentary confidence candle in with some Sleep Well tea. Thank you for visiting.

Author Biography

Photo of JC Clarke White woman with long blonde hair wearing a black top
JC Clarke

Previously a falconer, consultant and writer-presenter of CITV’s Wild World, JC Clarke is now loving the writer’s life and is also a script consultant and copywriter.
She’s been involved in falconry and conservation industries for over twenty years and is passionate about protecting wildlife. Having worked with children and young adults as a youth worker, JC Clarke hopes that her writing will help young people believe they are worth something and should aim for their dreams. An alumna of the Curtis Brown Creative Writing for Children Course, Jo was shortlisted for Best Opening Chapter for Spellboda at the 2019 Jericho Writers Festival of Writing. She lives in Ashford, Kent with her family – and a large number of animals!

Social media:

Website: https://www.jcclarkeauthor.com/

Twitter: Jo Clarke

Book cover midnight blue background, silver silhouette of a bird with wings spread open.
Spellboda by J C Clarke

Title: Spellboda

Author: J C Clarke

Publisher: The Book Guild

Genre: Middle grade, Children’s fiction, YA, Fantasy

Release Date: 23rd September 2021

Blurb

A journey to trust and self-belief… join Trevor in his adventure as he discovers his incredible gift. Share the magic of his journey as he learns we can achieve anything – when we really, really want to.

For fans of Piers Torday & CS Lewis

Trust, belief and a little magic… then maybe they could both fly free.

Since Trevor’s mum died his dad can barely look at him without yelling. Home is awful, school is worse. People just let you down, and Trevor only talks to Mrs. Bingo-Wings, his mum’s cat. But then he meets Midge, a peregrine falcon in danger, and finds out he has a gift that could change his life forever. Trevor is thrown into the heart of a magical adventure that could promise freedom – for Midge and for himself – but can he overcome his doubts and fears, and take on the destiny he’s only just discovered?

Surprise Merry Meet: Stephanie Hansen

We know it’s not Monday for our usual Merry Meet, but we’re excited to welcome author, Stephanie Hansen, for a swift chat as part of the blog tour for her novella, Altered Helix arranged by Rachel’s Random Resources. Unfortunately Amber is at college, so can’t be here today but she is sorry she has missed this Merry Meet. Altered Helix is a book she can’t wait to read.

Pumpkins and pumpkin mugs

Surprise Merry Meet: Stephanie Hansen

Willow: Take a seat. First question has to be what would you like to drink? We have a selection of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate? Or I’m brewing some mulled cider in the workroom.

A coffee would be splendid. The characters in Altered Helix (my debut novella) often frequent Broadway Café. Though, your mulled cider sounds especially wonderful as a fall drink. You made this decision difficult. We hit our first frost advisory of the season last night and it is bone chillingly cold, so any warm drink will do.

Willow: Your book, Altered Helix, features a haunted house. As we have many paranormal activities in the emporium, we’re intrigued about what inspired your setting?

I worked at a haunted house when I was 20 and fell in love with it. The best is waiting for the right moment to scare people and seeing everyone enjoy it. People scream and hold on to each other. Their smiles after going through the haunted house are spectacular.

Willow: That sounds fun. Your book is also set in a dystopian America where the government has collapsed and homelessness is rife, placing your protagonist, Austria, in danger. What came first, the plot or the characters?

Mostly the characters developed first, but it was also a mixture of plot too. My characters often reveal their emotions through the smallest of gestures. Even though the characters first came to me before my hearing loss, the story was not completed until after I became unilaterally deaf. When you struggle to hear people, you often rely on subtle cues, and I’ve incorporated it into a lot of my fiction. I also create a working outline for books before writing, but inevitably the characters make different decisions than I’d planned, hence the “working” outline.

Willow: It must have been hard dealing with hearing loss but your visual observations add an extra layer to the book. We’ve just had Halloween, do you normally celebrate it? And if so, how?

I love reading scary books around Halloween. I just started White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson and I think it will be a perfect spooky thriller for the season. Complete with what appears to be a haunted house set in a town that reminds the protagonist of The Walking Dead, it’s bound to give me goosebumps of fright. I also enjoy watching scary movies but it’s hard to pick a favourite.

Willow: I’ll have to recommend it to Amber, she loves horror reads. What has your publication journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?

If I may, as a literary agent, I’d like to discuss multiple publication journey options. I believe many paths (self-publishing, small press, mid-size house, major house publishing, etc.) can be taken for a successful experience. The important thing is to research each and find the one that works best for you as a writer. Some genres thrive in self-publishing, so it may be the best option. As many self-published authors know, it’s like opening a business and you’re the business owner. You need to either handle all responsibilities or delegate them to qualified individuals. It’s an investment. My agency handles subsidiary rights for self-published authors. We’re familiar with what foreign publishers, audio producers, gaming apps, and film producers are looking for, plus we can organize the process. For instance, I’m currently closing four foreign translation publishing deals for one author and will announce them all together in order to gain attention from film producers. Please follow the Metamorphosis Literary Agency social media for more information.

Willow: We have authors from all types of publication paths popping in and would be writers so will let them know. It must be a fascinating job. We follow our set rituals in the shop when preparing stock. What is your writing routine like?

Many of my story ideas begin as a dream. I wake up and rapidly jot down every detail that I remember. Then I begin handwriting the story into notebooks. I know that adds time as I’ll have to type later, but something about the process allows words to flow freely. With Altered Helix, I made a detective board of sorts to connect inciting incidents, character development and more (see an example below except the one I used while writing was physical and up on a wall). I was quite a novice at that point but had a lot of fun and have integrated it into a lot of what I continue to do. 😊 Once I have some bones and skin in place for the story, I now but didn’t in the beginning, share it with a critique partner. We work on the opening, try to see if there are plot holes, etc. and then I correct what I have and continue with the rest of the story. I couldn’t have done this in the beginning of my writing journey as it may have halted the story creation process. Once complete, I have another partner look at it for errors, problematic wording, things that would trip up a reader, etc. After that, I revise. Then, I have yet someone else review for grammar, typos, etc. What is a witch without a powerful coven?

A plotting board for a writer showing photos of building, creepy night time scene, bed with straps on and a garden wedding

Willow: Working with others does have its benefits and it is lovely to have those you can trust to work with. Many readers and our customers harbour the dream of writing a novel. Before we get round to blending a spell to help with the process, do you have any advice for new writers?

Some of that was covered in the last question, but I’ll add more here. I fear many authors fall so in love with their first manuscript that they can’t shelve it, therefore, restricting future creations from existence (or at least delaying them by quite a bit). By that I mean, they refuse to accept that it shouldn’t be published. Often these first manuscripts are the best writing lessons for an author and for that purpose very useful, but it doesn’t mean it should be published. A very talented agent shared some information about successful authors and what number novel it was that broke them out. I think by seeing this, it might help aspiring authors understand that everyone’s journey is different. https://twitter.com/EmilyKaitlinnn/ So, I guess my advice is to not only create one land of enchantment but many.  

Willow: That is helpful. Thank you. The Enchanted Emporium sells a number of candles in The Wishing Spell range, which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

This one, which helps the user focus while the candle burns. I can be handling paperwork for the business when I see a new publishing deal announcement and it inspires a different direction for an author’s manuscript that I’m currently shopping. Or I can be writing one story when another story idea pops into my head. I have a notebook to keep all of these ideas organised BUT the idea’s there in my mind. It wants to build on it right then. I also have a couple teenagers, so the candle which “makes those around you help without asking” was very tempting. You made another decision difficult for me. Well done. Your magic brewing is extraordinary.

Willow: We have one candle that invokes memories of your favourite season when lit. Where would it take you and what would you be doing?

That’s hard. I’m currently in the Midwest and what I love is the changing of seasons. I probably prefer summer for being outside and seeing green everywhere. My body struggles with temperature changes at first. So, the current 50ish degree temps during the day are freezing me but give it a month and 50 will feel warm. I do really enjoy the activities during fall and spring. Fall is my favourite reading and writing season, which I think is shared by many as I believe the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) month is November. In the winter, when things are covered in snow, it is also very pretty.

Willow: Every season has its beauty and the Midwest sounds a good place to experience them. If we could blend a potion to give you a special ability for 24 hours, what would it be and what would you do with it?

The ability to cure someone of a physical illness or disease. There are a couple of people dear to me who currently suffer from physical ailments, and I’d like to be able to rid them of the burden. Of course, one must be careful. After I lost two of my grandpas, I begged to whatever power that be to have me be the next one to get sick because I know my body could handle it and I didn’t want to lose another grandparent. Within months I came down with a very serious illness which caused my severe, unilateral deafness and 90 dB 24/7/365 tinnitus, but I didn’t lose another grandparent for years. So, I should probably ask before accepting, what is the cost of this ability?

Willow: The cost of some spells can be high, so it is always wise to consider the consequences. What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

I love so many books by Seanan McGuire! I absolutely devoured The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab as quickly as possible! Plus, the strength in sisterhood in the Girls with Sharp Sticks series by Suzanne Young is awesome! If you want page turning, heart pounding series, try Crave by Tracy Wolff or The Bone Witch by Ivy Asher. My end all, be all go to is Relentless by Karen Lynch. And now you can see why my family believes I’m turning our house into a library! 😊

Willow: Every house should have a library and with those books my own bookshelf will be overflowing. What would you add to Rosa’s box of Romance?

If you have not read One Last Stop by Casey McQuistion, please do. It’s simply divine. This book was so pleasant to read; National Treasure meets Ghost in the most splendid way. Years ago, I was an avid Nora Roberts fan. Have you read any of her books? I think one of my favourites had been The Garden Trilogy. Have you read The Dragon Heart Legacy? I haven’t yet but want to. If you do, please let me know so we can read it together. Also, another one that tugs at the heartstrings is If I was Your Girl by Meredith Russo.

Willow:  I adore Nora Roberts books and enjoyed The Garden trilogy too but for obvious reasons love the Three Sisters series. Finally, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

I’m currently working on the gaming app adaptation of Altered Helix. It’s been a lot of fun and I can’t wait for it to fully release in 2023! I’m also working on a story that began for me as a short story, then evolved to a screenplay, and now I’m adapting it to a novel (almost backward to my journey with Altered Helix). It’s fun dissecting a story to different platforms but keeping the heart intact. It’s challenging and, hopefully, will help me grow as an author.

Willow: Those sound thrilling projects and look forward to hear about their progress. Thank you for coming in for a chat all the way from America.

Thank you so much for having me. I thoroughly enjoyed your questions and bid you adieu.

Book cover for Altered Helix. Bright blue cover with the silhouette of boy and girl holding each other looking down.
Altered Helix by Stephanie Hansen

Title: Altered Helix

Author: Stephanie Hansen

Publisher: Hypothesis Books

Release date: 19th May 2020

Purchase Link – https://books2read.com/u/mdzJjX

Author Biography

Photo of Stephanie Hansen. White woman smiling with very blue eyes.
Stephanie Hansen

Stephanie Hansen is a PenCraft and Global Book Award Winning Author. Her debut novella series, Altered Helix, released in 2020. It hit the #1 New Release, #1 Best Seller, and other top 100 lists on Amazon. It is now being adapted to an animated story for Tales. Her debut novel, Replaced Parts, released in 2021 through Fire & Ice YA and Tantor Audio. It has been in a Forbes article, hit Amazon bestseller lists, and made the Apple young adult coming soon bestsellers list. The second book in the Transformed Nexus series, Omitted Pieces, released in 2022. Her next novella, Ghostly Howls, releases 2/7/23. She is a member of the deaf and hard of hearing community so she tries to incorporate that into her fiction. 

Social Media Links –

https://www.authorstephaniehansen.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/stephanie-hansen ,

https://www.facebook.com/writer.stephaniehansen ,

https://www.instagram.com/stephaniehansenauthor/ ,

https://www.tiktok.com/@stephaniehansenauthor

https://twitter.com/hansenwriter

Book Extract: More than Mistletoe by The Christmas Collective

Now the Halloween celebrations are over, the Emporium’s focus is on the colder and darker evenings, as we head towards winter and Yule. Unlike many shops, Willow is adamant they won’t decorate for Christmas until December. While it infuriates Amber who wants to put the Yule tree up now, the shop provides an oasis of calm amidst the frenzy and festive delights springing up in neighbouring streets in Whitby. It also ovoid upsetting the tree spirits. There is enough chaos in the shop with the ongoing feud between Black Cat and Vincent, and Mrs Marley’s interference without adding avenging spirits to the mix.

Christmas isn’t completely banned, new festive books are appearing on the Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf and in Rosa’s Box of Romance. Some of the best romances cover this magical season. More than Mistletoe by The Christmas Collective has arrived, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources and Rosa is excited to share an extract with you, to tempt you to read further.

More than Mistletoe book cover. Dark blue background with silver stars. A bunch of mistletoe in the centre tied with a red ribbon. Tag line Twelve Christmas Stories of kisses, wishes and near misses.
More than Mistletoe by The Christmas Collective

Title: More than Mistletoe

Author: The Christmas Collective

Release Date: 25th October 2021

Purchase Link – http://mybook.to/morethanmistletoe

Blurb

Cosy up for Christmas with 12 very different tales of love with all the festive feels!

More than Mistletoe, the debut anthology from The Christmas Collective, is an eclectic and inclusive mix of stories, with swoon-worthy characters, second chances and happy endings.

Between the pages, you will discover classic romance, festive thrillers, LGBTQ+ love stories, hilarious romcoms and historical settings, these stories really do span the whole spectrum of festive fiction.

Featuring twelve up and coming new authors, this refreshing, diverse and romantic read, is a must-have read that will leave you reaching for your Christmas jumper, gingerbread cookies and a mug of hot chocolate!

Extract from More than Mistletoe

This extract is taken from Lumikinos by Lucy Alexander. This is the opening story in the More Than Mistletoe anthology. In this beautifully atmospheric tale, Erica finds herself caught in a snowstorm in the Cotswolds on Christmas Eve. When the traffic grinds to a halt, Erica and the other stranded drivers support each other through the long wait. An immediate connection with one particular driver, the handsome Jack, feels so right, it’s almost as if a force as great as Christmas itself is trying to bring them together.

Extract from ‘More Than Mistletoe’: Lumikinos by Lucy Alexander

‘Any news?’ called Jack, as he helped Erica down the steep bank.

Erica spotted the man in the orange hard hat moving down the line with a lantern.

‘No news,’ he called back. ‘Won’t be getting out of here tonight after all, I’m afraid. Plough’s fixed but couldn’t shift it. They’re sending the big one from Oxford first thing. Reckon you’ll be out of here in time for your Christmas dinner, though, okay?’

Jack nodded.

Erica sighed – but perhaps not quite so heavily as she would have earlier. ‘So … now what?’ she asked.

Jack shrugged. ‘I guess we’d better call our families,’ he suggested.

‘Yes. Yes, you’re right.’ Erica nodded. She took a step towards her Clio, which was now almost completely buried in snow.

‘And then …’ Jack rubbed the back of his neck. ‘Do you maybe want to have a drink or something? I’ve got some Baileys in the car. I was going to give it to my mum for Christmas but … well, looks like we’ll be here for a long time, and would be nice to have some company. You don’t have to, though …’

Erica smiled. ‘No, that would be great.’

Half an hour and some uncomfortable phone calls later, Erica found herself sitting with Jack in his Land Rover, sipping Baileys out of their plastic keep cups and talking as though they had known each other for years, not hours.

It turned out that Jack worked in the city and had gone to the same university as one of Erica’s housemates, and she was pleased to learn that his flat wasn’t too far from her studio. She wasn’t usually much of a chatterbox, but Jack was easy to talk to, and they were just comparing their families’ Christmas traditions when there was a cheerful knock on the window. The glass was completely covered in snow and condensation; Erica opened it to find a group of their fellow drivers, including the Werther’s Originals lady, beaming at them.

‘Hello, dears!’ she cried. ‘We’re all having a campfire and a few nibbles. Would you like to join us?’

Erica and Jack were only too glad to join the others gathered around the campfire – which turned out to be a blazing pile of bracken and old newspaper that some enterprising person had set fire to with a lighter. One person was melting snow in a travel kettle to make tea, and someone else was passing around a tin of roasted chestnuts. Erica toasted her fingertips and felt her toes begin to thaw as she and Jack stood beside the flames. She couldn’t help smiling – strangers were sharing hipflasks and swapping Christmas stories, and if it hadn’t been for the circumstances, Erica would have thought this was rather a nice way to spend Christmas Eve.

Erica and Jack were both hungry, but they too shared what little food they had – a box of M&S biscuits which Jack had bought for his grandmother, and an assortment of Christmas treats that Erica had got from the Bath Christmas market. Erica had also bought a cuddly toy reindeer at the market as a gift for her nephew; this she gave to a little girl whose mother was at the end of her wits trying to settle her down to sleep in the back of their car. Around the same time, a rather sweet old man with an ancient Austin remarked that his heater was broken, so Jack and another driver got out their toolboxes and helped him to fix it.

Later, someone pulled out a guitar, and everyone who wasn’t busy lending blankets and extra clothes to those less well-prepared, gathered back around the fire to join in a spot of spontaneous carolling. Erica was no songbird, but she enjoyed listening to Jack’s tuneful voice as he stood singing beside her.

As the final notes of “In the Bleak Midwinter” soared up towards the starry skies, Jack turned to her and murmured that it was getting late.

Erica felt suddenly warm, and she didn’t think it was because of the fire. Looking up at Jack, she smiled somewhat nervously. ‘It is late,’ she agreed.

‘Do you want to go to bed?’ he asked, then he laughed awkwardly. ‘Er – sorry – I mean, are you tired?’

Erica blushed. She was glad of the firelight flickering over her face. ‘I’m not tired,’ she lied. She found herself longing for the night not to be over just yet.

Mug next to a mince pie and holly
Image by Lidia from Pixabay

Author Biography

‘The Christmas Collective is a group of twelve romance authors who came together when shortlisted for a festive romance competition. Together they have created two Christmas Romance anthologies, More Than Mistletoe (2021) and The Mistletoe Mixtape (2022).

The Christmas Collective authors are spread far and wide, across the UK, Ireland, Spain and South Korea, however, one thing connects them despite the distance: a love of romance and Christmas.’

Website

http://thechristmascollective.co/wordpress/

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/thechristmascoll

Twitter

https://twitter.com/ChristmasCo2022

Instagram

https://instagram.com/christmasco22?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

TikTok

https://www.tiktok.com/@christmasco2022?_t=8V3OdLw3XWQ&_r=1

Other blogs on the tour graphic
2nd Nov
Books, Life and Everything
Captured on Film
KarenKisreading
A Little Book Problem
Books and Bubbles

3rd
Just Katherine
BookLOverWOrm
mrsljgibbs on Instagram
The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf

4th Nov
@roziereadsandwine
Tizi's Book Review
@libraryoflouise

5th Nov
Review Thick and Thin
Ceri's Little Blog
Book Reviews by Taylor
Seduced with literature
PuzzlePaws Blog
Staceywh_17
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

6th November
jen_loves_reading
BTPBookclub
Herding Cats
Tealeavesandbookleaves
Heidi Lynn's Book Reviews
Other blogs on the tour

Book Review: Widdershins by Helen Steadman

Willow and Amber were thrilled when Widdershins and Sunwise, the second book in the series arrived on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf, courtesy of Random Things Tours. They knew the stories were written with love and attention when they unwrapped the package to discover the books came with a corn dolly for fertility, and lavender and tea to aid sleep.

Scroll down to see if they were right.

Book Review: Widdershins by Helen Steadman

Widdershins by Helen Steadman

Title: Widdershins

Author: Helen Steadman

Genre: Historical Fiction, Witchlit

Release Date: 8th April 2022

Blurb

‘DID ALL WOMEN HAVE SOMETHING OF THE WITCH ABOUT THEM?’


England, 1649. A sadistic witch hunter. An apprentice healer accused of witchcraft. Can she escape the hangman’s noose?
When John’s parents die at the hands of a witch, he faces a choice: an easy life with a woman who serves Satan, or a hard life with a preacher who serves God. The cursed orphan chooses the church. Raised on raging sermons, he discovers his true purpose: to become a witchfinder and save virtuous souls from the jaws of hell.
In a town mesmerized by superstition and fear, two destinies collide. As John rounds up t

he local witches, Jane gets more than she bargained for when bartering with the apothecary. Instead of trading herbal remedies, she finds herself on trial for consorting with the devil. Can she prove her innocence, or will she be condemned to death?


If you like historical novels based on real witch trials, you’ll love Helen Steadman’s Widdershins and its sequel, Sunwise. Recommended for fans of The Familiars, Tidelands and The Witchfinder’s Sister.

Thoughts from the Emporium

What a fabulous read! History plays an important role in the witches’ lives yet to their shame neither had heard about the Newcastle witch trials which this series covers. Beautifully written with intricate details masterfully blended into each scene, this novel immersed both Willow and Amber into the 17th century. It allowed them to breathe in the aromas of the herbs, choke on the stench of disease, hear nature and the hubbub of village life, and experience the culture of the time. For part they enjoyed walking side by side with Jane learning the ways herbs were used and how they were integrated in society, but the sense of danger and the tightrope knowledgeable women walked was terrifying.

Glimpsing into the life of John made an emotional impact that surprised them. Despite knowing the horrors he’d commit, they pitied the boy he was and understood the reasons how he came to change his stance when strict fanatic puritan views were rife. The hatred and twisted views after radicalisation were harder to forgive as was the societal change taking power away from women during birth to those of male medics. The impacts of these can still be seen today.

The collision of Jane and John’s lives horrified the witches and were grateful those times have passed but the fear lives on. They are eager to read Sunwise to find out more.

Helen Steadman is a wonderful storyteller and makes historical fiction accessible where in other hands, it could have been heavy with too many facts and no soul. She tapped into the characters and era and made them come alive. This is witchy historical fiction at its best and on par with Barbara Erskine. The Enchanted Emporium is proud to have theses books in its collection and the witches are now hoping Helen Steadman will wander down Black Cat Alley for a Monday Merry Meet. Willow suspects they have much to discuss. Watch this space!

Author Biography

Photo of Helen Steadman. White woman smiling with dark shoulder length hair and cosy jumper. Trees in the background.
Helen Steadman

Dr Helen Steadman is a historical novelist. Her first novel, Widdershins and its sequel, Sunwise were inspired by the seventeenth-century Newcastle witch trials. Her third novel, The Running Wolf was inspired by the Shotley Bridge swordmakers, who defected from Solingen, Germany in 1687. Helen’s fourth novel is God of Fire, a Greek myth retelling about Hephaestus, possibly the least well-known of the Olympians. Helen is now working on her fifth novel.
Despite the Newcastle witch trials being one of the largest mass executions of witches on a single day in England, they are not widely known about. Helen is particularly interested in revealing hidden histories and she is a thorough researcher who goes to great lengths in pursuit of historical accuracy. To get under the skin of the cunning women in Widdershins and Sunwise, Helen trained in herbalism and learned how to identify, grow and harvest plants and then made
herbal medicines from bark, seeds, flowers and berries.
The Running Wolf is the story of a group of master swordmakers who defected from Solingen, Germany and moved to Shotley Bridge, England in 1687. As well as carrying out in-depth archive research and visiting forges in Solingen to bring her story to life, Helen also undertook blacksmith training, which culminated in making her own sword. During her archive research, Helen uncovered a lot of new material and she published her findings in the Northern History
journal.

Monday Merry Meet: Heidi Swain

Happy Samhain! The witches’ favourite time of year. It’s also the only day they wear the iconic witch’s pointy hat. While Willow dons a black hat that shimmers purple in the Emporium’s lights, Amber’s is a more subdued affair. Made of brown felt, it is battered, twisted and entwined with autumnal leaves and toadstools.

Both are ready for trick or treaters that maybe brave enough to wander down Black Cat Alley for some of sweets including Willow’s homemade enchanted lollies. Lucky for them, she refused Amber’s suggestion to hex a few to keep things interesting.

The emporium’s shop window is a blaze with flickering pumpkins, shrouded with cultivated cobwebs, the ghosts are enjoying the possibility they maybe seen. Vincent, the large ginger Maine Coon and ghostly Black Cat are on guard waiting for their special guest, Heidi Swain.

This Sunday Times bestselling author is one of Rosa’s favourite writers so she is sipping yet another chamomile tea to calm her nerves so she can speak. She has also muted her mobile as Alejo is unimpressed his Trick or Treating has been delayed so she can have fangirl moment.

Monday Merry Meet: Heidi Swain

Willow: Welcome Heidi. Please come in from the cold though its not much warmer in here. Our heating is struggling to compete with the extra ghosts that have appeared since Mrs Marley discovered you were visiting. She’s a huge fan of your audiobooks which I usually play for her while I’m at work. Unlike Percy, she has never mastered the art of telekinesis so page turning is a chore. She loves Wynbridge and Nightingale Square.  

Thank you for the welcome and thank you to Mrs Marley. I’m delighted to discover you are a fan of Wynbridge and Nightingale Square. I’m sure both Wynthorpe Hall and Prosperous Place have their own ghosts, but they are yet to make themselves known to me.

Rosa: I love them too. There are several of your books in my Box of Romance and they’re my go to comfort reads. What can we get you to drink? There are many blends of tea including Yorkshire, coffee, hot chocolate or Amber has concocted a special warm Halloween punch? It’s her take on mulled cider. I tried some and it warms you up a treat.

Thank you, Rosa. I would love some of that seasonal punch. It sounds like the perfect tipple for this chilly day.

Willow: Amber is staying on trick or treat duty while we chat. With the many ghost stories the emporium has attached to it and the reputation of us witches draws in some kids. Not as many as I’d have expected though. I think they preferred it when it was a derelict building and played the part as the haunted house to visit as a dare well. Is Samhain something you usually celebrate?

It certainly is. I follow the Wheel of the Year and along with dressing the hearth and enjoying a pumpkin feast, I consider Samhain the start of my magical new year. It is when I make plans and set exciting intentions for the months ahead.

Rosa: Christmas isn’t Christmas without one of your books. What is your latest about?

That’s very kind, thank you! A Christmas Celebration takes us back to Wynbridge and more specifically Wynthorpe Hall, for the festive season. With a few folk temporarily away from the hall, the arrival of Paige (goddaughter to Catherine and Angus), couldn’t be better timed. Unbeknown to everyone else, she’s carrying a secret, but finding herself quickly drawn into helping at the hall and in the town, there’s initially little time to dwell on it.

In the run to Christmas, Paige also makes two new friends, both carrying their fair share of secrets and of course, catches up with Molly, her witchy friend who lives in the Wynthorpe woods.

The emphasis is very much on community spirit and coming together, both for Christmas and beyond.

Willow: It is your 15th novel.  What has your publication journey been like? Is being a writer how you expected it to be?

I keep counting the books on the shelf in my writing room. I’m amazed there are fifteen there already!

My debut, The Cherry Tree Café was picked up after submitting to the Books and the City #OneDay open submission opportunity. That was back in 2014 and the e-book was published almost a year to the day in 2015. Since then, I’ve been writing two books a year for Simon and Schuster, secured a fabulous agent, become a Sunday Times bestseller and been shortlisted twice for an RNA award.

Being a writer has far exceeded my expectations and I’m both grateful and proud that I found the courage to make it happen. When I started out, I used to write from 5 to 6 in the morning before my kids got up, then in my car during my lunch break and again in the evenings. I had a few books published before I made the leap to write full-time but it was worth every chilly, dark start I made along the way. Nothing beats the sight of my books lined up on a supermarket or bookshop shelf. I love the writing life!

Willow: We have many would-be writers popping in for copious amounts of tea or confidence candles, do you have any advice for them?

That’s wonderful! I wish them every success. One of the best pieces of advice I can give is, don’t wait for what you imagine to be the perfect opportunity to start writing. You’ll never have more time – no matter how hard you try to manifest it – you have to look at your schedule and work out where you can squeeze in a few minutes, cast a circle of protection around them and use them! You’ll be amazed how quickly the word count grows once you’ve made the commitment.

Also, be proactive in seeking out opportunities to be published. Once I’d decided I was going to be a published author, rather than thinking I wanted to be a published author, great things happened but I still had to make them happen. Take control and responsibility for your writing journey.

Willow: Mrs Marley would also like to ask a question, if you could choose one character to have tea with, who would it be?

I would love to have tea with Molly, who lives in the Wynthorpe woods. The atmosphere in her little cottage is so warm, welcoming and incense infused, it would perfect. That said, I’m not sure what sort of tea Molly would brew!

Three tarot cards lying next to a crystal. " of wands, a man holding a staff looking into the distance, king of pentacles a king sitting on his throne holding a coin and one of cups - a golden chalice being held up by a large hand.
Image by JOAN A BROWN from Pixabay

Rosa: We love Molly. I’m sure she’d fit in well here. She lives in the woods of Wynthorpe Hall and reads the tarot cards for people. Have you ever had yours read and did it come true?

I’m so pleased you love Molly too. She’s someone readers have really warmed too. She’s cast us all under her spell. I read my own cards and yes, they’re pretty accurate. A while ago I started working with a different deck and we didn’t bond at all, so I’ve gone back to my original cards and I’m much happier. There was an instant energy shift.

Willow: Some cards are like that. The Enchanted Emporium sell a number of candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?

I would choose either financial security or confidence, but between the two, financial security would come out on top.

Willow: One candle we sell invokes memories of your perfect day when lit. Where would it take you?

This is a tricky one! I’ve been blessed with so many perfect days, such as the day my editor said the words ‘we’d like to offer you a two-book deal’! That was phenomenal!

However, I’m going to pick the day my daughter and I travelled to London to see Kpop group, SF9 perform in Hammersmith. The concert in the evening was fabulous, but the entire day ran so smoothly – even traffic lights changing as we approached so we could cross roads without waiting and finding each other straight away in the city even though we’d travelled from opposite ends of the country. There was definitely magic in the air that day!

A pumpkin with two small resin ghosts.
Image by Alexa from Pixabay

Willow: Even when it’s not Halloween, The Enchanted Emporium is plagued by ghosts and paranormal activity. Have had had any spooky experiences – has it influenced your writing?

I have lived in both National Trust and National Trust for Scotland properties and there were plenty of bumps in the night there! Ghostly goings on haven’t influenced my writing, but I often include a solstice celebration. The one on the beach in Underneath the Christmas Tree was a joy to write.

Rosa: You must have so many tales to tell living in those properties. Normally, we’d ask about what potion you’d have the witches blend for you but in your books, there is a wishing tree in the grounds of Wynthorpe Hall. What would you attach to the tree and what wish would you ask to be granted?

I adore the Wishing Tree! I think it would have to be a notebook and I would ask for endless inspiration. There’s no sign of the well running dry, but it would be a comfort to have a back up.

Willow: What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?

I know it’s a little early in the year, but every December 1st I read A Christmas Carol and I have quite a few beautiful copies of it now, so I’ll add that timeless tale if I may.

Rosa: You can never have too many copies of A Christmas Carol. There are many stunning editions. What would you add to my Box of Romance?

Not surprisingly, I have a few favourite romance authors, so I had a tricky time picking just one book to add! Trisha Ashley has an entire shelf to herself on my bookcase, more than one actually if you include the hardbacks, so I’m going to add Twelve Days of Christmas. Another festive title, but one I often visit whatever the calendar says.

Willow: And lastly what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?

I’ve recently submitted the first draft of the summer 2023 release which publishes next April. It’s called The Book-Lovers’ Retreat and is a standalone read which I am absolutely loving working on. It is set in the Lake District, which is somewhere I have wonderful memories of visiting, and is already available to order.

Here’s the blurb – The Book-Lovers’ Retreat, set in the Lake District, tells the story of three friends who spend the whole summer in a hideaway cottage, the real-life setting of their favourite book. As the summer develops, so will their friendship, they will find love in all its forms and, as a result, their lives will change course forever…

So exciting! I’m also making plans for Christmas 2023 as I need to start writing that book very soon!

Rosa: That book sounds amazing, it’ll be on our pre-order list. Thank you for visiting and good luck with your writing. Happy Samhain!

Heidi Swain Author Biography

Photo of Heidi Swain. White woman in glasses and smiling. Short cropped hair and red dangly earrings

Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi Swain gained a degree in literature and flirted briefly with a newspaper career before she plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously.

A lover of vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz, she now writes feel good fiction with heart for Simon and Schuster. Her debut novel, The Cherry Tree Café was published in July 2015 and she became a Sunday Times Bestseller in 2017. Heidi writes two books a year – a summer and winter title.

She is represented by Amanda Preston and lives in the east of England with a mischievous cat called Storm.

Links

Website: http://www.heidiswain.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Heidi_Swain

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WriterHeidiJoSwain?ref=hl

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heidi-Swain/e/B00YNN3LDI?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1620727029&sr=8-1

Publisher: https://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/

                  http://booksandthecity.co.uk/

Book cover for A Christmas Wish by Heidi Swain. Purple with her name in gold and title in white. The bottom shows a winter scene, snow covered fir trees and a mansion

A Christmas Celebration by Heidi Swain

Blurb:


When Paige turns up unannounced at Wynthorpe Hall, she discovers the place she knew when she was growing up has changed beyond all recognition. She’s only planning to stay for a short time, but is quickly pulled into local life.
 
One night while driving home after delivering library books and shopping to residents she stumbles across an isolated cottage and meets Albert, its elderly and rather grumpy owner. She quickly realises there’s more to Albert than meets the eye and the same can be said for the other man she can’t seem to help running into, handsome but brooding Brodie.
 
All three of them have a secret and a desire to hide away from the world, but with Christmas on the horizon, is that really the best way to celebrate the season?

Book Highlight: The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw

A new book has arrived on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf, The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw thanks to Random Things Tours. With a stunning cover and an intriguing blurb involving a creepy house and spiritualism Amber has snuck it into her college bag. Watch this space for a review but in the meantime scroll down to see why the book caught her eye.

Book Review: The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw

The Parlour Game by Jennifer Renshaw

Title: The Parlour Game

Author: Jennifer Renshaw

Genre: Dark Gothic

Release Date: 31st August 2022

Blurb

DEATH IS ONLY THE BEGINNING… a dark gothic tale for fans of The Clockwork Girl and The Woman in Black.

London, 1873.

Ivy Granger, an amateur botanist, is plagued by disturbing dreams and faceless whispers. Misunderstood by her father, she fears for her sanity – threatened with the asylum or worse, the hands of a man she loathes.

But a stranger at her mother’s funeral reveals Ivy’s world has been a lie and she could have a different life, for she is capable of so much more…

Miss Earnshaw, London’s most renowned spiritualist, is Ivy’s only hope of revealing what secrets her mother took to the grave and discovering her true purpose.

Ivy’s journey for knowledge takes her to Blackham House, a building haunted by a terrible past – full of macabre artefacts and ancient studies of the supernatural. But behind closed doors, the Blackhams collect more than relics alone, and Ivy will soon find herself at the centre of a conspiracy spanning generations and a hidden evil waiting to be unleashed.

Can Ivy survive in a world where women must play their part or risk being silenced?

Author Biography

Jennifer Renshaw

Jennifer Renshaw grew up in Sussex, England, and is a former analyst. She has always been fascinated by history and enjoys a gothic mystery. She now lives in Denmark with her family and two portly cats.

Find out more at http://www.jenniferrenshaw.com

Other blogs on the tour