The month of romance is still continuing despite Valentine’s day being over. With #RNADiverseLoveWeek starting tomorrow and knowing Linda Corbett was visiting for the next Monday Merry Meet, Rosa chose to take her debut Love YouFrom A to Z home with her for some weekend reading.
Experience has told Jenna Oakhurst that Happy Ever After may happen in all the best stories, but Happy For Now is the best one ought to expect in real life. Yet lately even that isn’t quite enough, so when a strange set of circumstances leads her to discover a mysterious letter in an abandoned storage unit, she takes the chance to embark on a journey into the unknown…just like the heroines from the storybooks.
Reaching out to the letter’s author, Henry Somners, changes Jenna’s world irrevocably and she starts to realise that the magic she believed in as a child might not be such a fanciful notion after all…
Thoughts from the Emporium
Rosa’s read many novels where a letter is found and sending the protagonist on a hunt for the sender, but this one has a unique twist. She never knew storage containers contents could be sold if they were effectively abandoned and it was such a purchase that incites this tender love story.
Though a handful of romantic novels now have disabled protagonists, they are still rare so not representative of the world we live in. Jenna was a refreshing personality with a strong desire for financial security and deals with chronic pain. The novel gave a realistic depiction of how she adapts to it daily but her disability wasn’t there as inspiration porn but was just part of her everyday life. This is how disabled representation should be.
Rosa enjoyed watching her embrace different things and the relationship between her and Henry flourish. One of her favourite location’s was the guinea pig rescue centre. Run by Jenna’s sister and partner, Kat it added scenes of humour and oodles of cuddly guinea pigs to love.
With a fun premise, it was ideal weekend reading and perfect for fans of Jessica Redland. Rosa knows it will be a welcome addition to her Box of Romance and enjoyed by many visitors. She’s looking forward to reading more from this new romance author in the future..
Linda Corbett lives in Surrey with her husband Andrew and three permanently hungry guinea pigs. As well as being an author, Linda is treasurer for Shine Surrey – a volunteer-led charity that supports individuals and families living with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. For many years she also wrote a regular column for Link, a disability magazine, illustrating the humorous aspects of life with a complex disability and she is a passionate advocate of disability representation in fiction. When not writing, Linda can be found papercrafting, cross stitching, or cuddling guinea pigs. Love You From A-Z is her first published novel.
Rumours have been swirling around the Emporium today nudging the witches to tidy up for a potential visitor for a Monday Merry Meet. On closer investigation they seem to have stemmed from a rather excited children’s book Luke Stevens and The Blood of St George by Ben Peyton. It was easy to discover the culprit when it jiggled and jumped into passer-bys hands when they approached the bookshelf. Encouraged by the novel’s tenacity and the word dragon in the title, Amber took it home to read.
Scroll down to read her review and why not, subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss Ben Peyton’s interview tomorrow.
Book Review: Luke Stevens and the Blood of St George
“With a great central concept, this is a fast-paced imaginative romp for the younger reader.” Carl Ashmore – Best-selling author of The Time Hunters series
“Ben Peyton’s debut novel is chock-full of action and suspense that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Luke Stevens and the Blood of St George hits all the marks that a blockbuster should.” Rick Jones – Best-selling author of The Vatican Knights series
On his 13th birthday and presented with an unusual gift, Luke Stevens suddenly finds himself thrust into a battle between good and evil, with him right at the heart of it. For within Luke flows the blood of a legend, and there are those that will stop at nothing to get their hands on what Luke now has in his possession.
With a group of Guardians to help him, Luke has no choice but to step up and fulfil an ancient prophecy where mankind’s way of life is threatened by a ruthless enemy seeking global domination. What follows is a race against time where one thing is certain: Luke’s life will never be the same again.
Full to the brim with action, humour, crazy gadgets and history, prepare yourself for an exciting adventure that will keep you turning pages long into the night.
Welcome to Luke Stevens and the Blood of St George…
Thoughts of the Emporium
As far as Amber is concerned, dragons in fiction make for a better book, and this is no exception. Despite being older than the intended target audience, the tale of Luke Stevens drew her in and didn’t release her until the end. It would have been one of her favourite reads growing up. She hasn’t had as much fun reading this genre since Simon Mayo’s Itch.
This action packed thriller has everything she wanted – drama, tension, memorable plot and distinct characters. And a visit to one of her bucket list places to visit, The National Art Gallery to see the impressive painting of St George slaying the dragon by Tintoretto.
Fast paced, Luke Stevens and the Blood of St George resembled a James Bond movie with fledgling superpowers and family secrets. Humour was blended in effortlessly with fight scenes, adventure and the battle between good and evil. What more could she want? No wonder the excitable book demanded attention.
It’s zipped into Rosa’s bag now – Alejo may be on the younger scale of the readership but Rosa can’t wait to use his bedtime reading sessions as an excuse to read it herself.
Ben Peyton is a former actor (a regular in ITV1’s The Bill) and now a full-time dad and writer. He has written reviews and articles for Filmhounds Magazine, Time & Leisure Magazine and several online blogs. Luke Stevens and the Blood of St George is his debut novel.
Now the chaos of Yule and the New Year is over, we are delighted to share our first Monday Merry Meet of 2023. Today Jane Lovering, author of 25 books has popped in for a chat about her books, writing and of course magic. We all fell in love with her The Forgotten House on the Moor, a romance with a ghost hunting twist last year and can’t wait to read her new release, There’s No Place Like Home.
Grab yourself a cuppa and join us to discover more about this author.
Monday Merry Meet: Jane Lovering
Willow: Welcome Jane, we’re so excited to have you here. I hope you’re not allergic to cats. Vincent, our lumbering Maine Coon, has taken to sleeping on the sofa in the staffroom. Amber will move him out of the way so you can sit down.
Jane: I love Whitby! It’s not that far from where I live, so I can call it research, wandering down the little old streets and popping into the wonderful crooked little shops in the Old Town. Oh, and I’m not at all allergic to cats – in fact I’ve had them all my life. I don’t have one now because Current Dog is a Patterdale Terrier and the only response to hearing that someone owns a Patterdale is ‘oh dear, I am sorry.’ She’s a fiend. Vincent can sit on my lap if he likes.
Willow: Be prepared to be squashed by him then. He loves attention. What would you like to drink? We have Yorkshire tea, herbal tea, coffee or something stronger. Since Christmas we have some homemade sloe gin left or wine.
Jane: I can’t drink alcohol at all, so I’ll have a big mug of Yorkshire Tea, please. Very strong, no sugar, hardly any milk. I have the tea palate of a jobbing builder. Oh, and if you’ve got any biscuits…
Amber: One mug of builder’s tea coming up and we always have biscuits.
Rosa: I’ve just finished your new book, There’sNo Place like Home. It is set on the Yorkshire moors and, like your other books, has a wonderful sense of place. Do you spend a lot of time in potential locations to capture their atmosphere? Where is your favourite spot?
Jane: Most of my books are set around where I live, or within a few minutes’ walk/drive. I spend a LOT of time walking and running locally (see under ‘Patterdale terrier owner’) and it all serves to help me absorb atmosphere and scenery. Although when I’m running, I’m mostly sweating and swearing, to be honest. I don’t really have a favourite place, I love all the moors and fields and becks and dales and woods around me. It depends on my mood. Sometimes the exposed bleakness of the moors is best, and sometimes I just want some rustling woodland with leaves, and squirrels to chase. Er, for the dog, not me.
Willow: Your new protagonist, Izzy, joins a reality show to track down big cats wild in the British countryside. What was your inspiration for this idea?
Jane: A friend is fascinated by Bigfoot and watches a lot of those ‘Hunting Bigfoot’ programmes. He suggested that I wrote about a British Bigfoot hunt, but I’m just a wee bit more sceptical than he is. However, I know people who’ve seen what they have sworn are big cats out in the countryside, and I thought that finding one of these might make a good story. Then I needed to work out the how and the why – and came up with a reality TV show. They always seem to feature people doing ridiculous things that nobody would ever want to do in the normal course of events, and people will seemingly do anything for money…
Rosa: Among other things, this novel tackles homelessness. Was it something you planned to cover to raise awareness of the situation people find themselves in, or did it develop while writing about Izzy?
Jane: My characters tend to come to me fully formed, so I already knew that Izzy was homeless. The only thing I had to work out was how it came about, and come up with a way that was plausible – a way which would make many readers think ‘that could have been me’.
Amber: You’ve written 25 books. What has your publication journey been like? If you did it again, would you change anything?
Jane: D’you know, I don’t think I would? I’ve been very very lucky, and I’ve met such wonderful people and made such good friends along the way, that I don’t think I’d have anything any different – other than maybe have it happen twenty years earlier!
Willow: We always love hearing about author’s day. Do you have a strict your writing routine?
Jane: Well, it’s not ‘strict’ because I don’t believe in beating myself up over it, but I tend to wake up, make a big mug of tea and then go back to bed with the dog and my laptop. I try to write 1000 words a day, and then I’m up and out for a run with the dog and then off to work (I don’t start work until 3pm before you think I’m one of these ‘early risers’ whom I swear are a myth).
Amber: I dabble in writing. Do you have any advice for novice writers?
Jane: Read read read. Not just in the genre you want to write, but anything and everything. Biographies, ‘How To’ books, novels, poetry – every word you read informs the writer you become. Oh, and don’t ask for feedback on your writing from family, or anyone who might die at your hand if they criticise you. Find a beta reader or writing partner who is not emotionally invested in you – they are the only people who will be honest. Joining a writers’ group can be helpful, but it depends on the group – avoid any with loud, dominant characters who are only there to read their work and be told how wonderful they are.
Willow: Great advice and an ideal excuse to visit bookshops guilt free. Whitby has a delightful one. The Enchanted Emporium sells several candles in The Wishing Spell range which promise to help your day go smoothly. Which would you choose?
Jane: I live alone in a tiny little cottage (well, I’ve got the dog…) so I’m fine for peace and tranquillity, I sleep very well (because it’s so quiet), and I believe in making my own luck and security. I think it would have to be focus and concentration because I can be – how shall we put it politely? – a wee bit scatty and disorganised.
Willow: One candle invokes memories of your perfect holiday or day when lit. Where would it take you?
Jane: I’m not sure. I think my life is pretty perfect at the moment, actually! Possibly it would remind me of Christmases, spent with all my children around me, eating food, playing games and laughing. If it could blank out the hours of cooking, the arguing, the mess and the washing up, that would be nice too.
Amber: Ghosts and paranormal activity plague The Enchanted Emporium. Have had had any spooky experiences – did it influence your writing The Forgotten House on the Moor and other books?
Jane: A few minor happenings that I couldn’t explain – this is a very old cottage and I’ve had the usual amount of strange window and door openings, knockings and clonks. Over the years, I’ve seen things which might have been supernatural, and I have a belief that we don’t understand everything about the world beyond us. That sense of mystery, of enquiry and the ‘maybe’ runs through a lot of my books.
Willow: Your cottage sounds delightful. Unlike your character, Holly Grey in Hubble Bubble, we don’t dabble with magic, it’s in our blood. Bearing that in mind, if we 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?
Jane: I would like to be able to see the world through the eyes of animals. To experience what they do and understand how they see us. I think it might help me to understand why they seem to be such irrational creatures – I’d love to sit up trees with squirrels and stomp along with badgers and skitter about with the ponies!
Willow: I think I’d have to join you with that superpower, experiencing Whitby through the eyes of Vincent or some of the wild birds would be eye opening. What book would you add to The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf?
Jane: You’ve probably got them all! But I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘Mythology of the British Isles’ by Geoffrey Ashe, about the history of folklore in Britain and the origin of myths, which is fascinating.
Willow: That’s one we don’t have but it sounds like it’s a need.
Rosa: I have a Box of Romance books I share with friends and customers. What would you add to it?
Jane: That’s too hard! That’s like asking me to choose my favourite child! I have so many friends who write amazing romances, that I couldn’t possibly select just a few, it wouldn’t be fair.
Willow: It can be a cruel question. And finally, what are you working on currently? Or is it top secret?
Jane: My next book is with my editor and awaiting edits, but I’m actually currently writing a book set on Orkney, about a witch’s cottage, the person who inherits it and what happens when she does. It might be right up your street!
Willow: It truly does and we can’t wait to read it. I hope the writing goes well and you’ll have to pop back and tell us all about it.
Isabel, Izzy to her friends, has got nothing left to lose when she makes the bravest decision of her life.
A month living under canvas on the Yorkshire Moors with five strangers wouldn’t normally be her idea of a good time, even if there is prize money to be won at the end of it, but she’s all out of options.
Joining her in this wild goose chase, being filmed for a TV show, are farmer Seb, whose marriage is creaking but who is desperate not to lose his family. Sheltered Ruth who needs an opportunity to show she can make her own decisions. Glamorous socialite Kanga, who has been living a lie. American Junior who has his own secret that has led him there. And last but not least, mysterious and brooding Mac, who Izzy can’t help but be drawn to.
As the fickleness of nature tests them all to their limits, this disparate group come together to face the challenge. But when Izzy finally tells them the truth that has brought her out on the Moors, will that be the end of their adventure, or the beginning of her future? Because what Izzy really needs is a place to call home, and someone to share it with could be even better…
Jane Lovering is the author of 25 novels and novellas, which she calls ‘dark psychological romance, with jokes’. She lives in North Yorkshire, where many of her books are set, in a creaky old cottage with an obsessive Patterdale Terrier and a lot of cobwebs. She has won four Romantic Novel of the Year awards, likes biscuits and running (cause and effect) and Tony Robinson. Jane is actually a very nice person, despite her tendency to snarl ‘what do you want?’ out of open windows whilst holding back a growling dog with one hand. Honestly.
Happy New Year from all at The Enchanted Emporium and we wish you a magical 2023 with plenty of happiness, good health and laughter. And books, lots of books and tea. If the current influx of books arriving on the enchanted bookshelf and in Rosa’s Box of Romance is anything to go by we’re in for a treat.
Have you seen the recent Guardian newspaper articles regarding the rise of witch lit or witcherature? We’ll link them here and here. We agree 2022 been the year of the witch as our favourite books will show and it looks like the trend will continue. Aren’t we lucky? Willow needs to conjure a pause time to read spell to read them all. Maybe, just maybe we will have exciting news to tell about our own story based in our shop written by writer, Kate Kenzie later this year but you know what some writers are like with deadlines and self doubt, it could be delayed again. You can follow her progress and give her a kick up the bum – sorry encouragement here.
Our blog is in its infancy, toddling about but we’ve had a ball chatting to authors in our Monday Merry Meets. They’ve brightened up our weeks and you can catch up with those you may have missed below. This year we’ll continue to fling our staff room doors and provide tea while we gossip with more writers and customers who stumble down Black Cat Alley. Our first guest is Yorkshire romance author, Jane Lovering. Why not press subscribe so you don’t miss any future chat?
Enough rambling before our first cup of tea and the sun has risen over Whitby, here are our favourite books of 2022 from the bookshelf and Rosa’s Box of Romance in no particular order (that really is a ask too far). Are you ready?
The Best Books of 2022 on the Enchanted Emporium’s Bookshelf
The Change by Kirsten Miller – One of the finest examples of witcherature and feminist writing we’ve seen. It kicks ass, has superb powerful characterisation and is unforgettable for its humour, darkness and immersive plot.
The Gifts by Liz Hyder – This was another immersive, breath stopping novel. Not witches this time but angels in the nineteenth century when misogyny and greed is rife. The cover is beautiful and with this unforgettable storyline, it deserves to sit on everyone’s bookshelf
The Hex Appeal by Kate Johnson – Full of humour, and with plenty of highly imaginative mayhem this witchy romcom made us chuckle out loud.
The Witches of Moonshyne Manor by Bianca Marias – with a cast of six octogenarian witches, this novel captivated us and it highlights how commercial witch lit can be. The Moonshyne witches will be forever in out hearts.
Widdershins by Helen Steadman – Historical fiction based on the Newcastle witch trials in 1649. The detail and knowledge portrayed on the page brought the era and danger to live.
Demon by Matt Wesolowski. – From witches to a demon haunting a village in Yorkshire. The podcast format worked well for this horror novel and sent shivers down our spines.
The Ghost of Ivy Barn by Mark Stay – Another fun and immersive witchy novel in the Witches of Woodville series. It has humour, action and highly memorable, quirky characters. Once read you have to keep reading the series over and over.
The Witch and the Tsar by Olesya Salnikova Gilmore – The last book reviewed last year and with impressive world building, this retelling of the Baba Yaga folk tale is a must for witcherature fans.
What were your favourite reads last year? Drop us a line or comment we’d love to know.
The first ever review from the Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf is for the gorgeous The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield, a magical novel based in the time running up to the French Revolution. It doesn’t linger long on the bookshelf before it is borrowed by a passing witch.
Scroll down to discover why.
Book Review: The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield
Title: The Embroidered Book
Author: Kate Heartfield
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Fantasy, historical
Release Date: 17th February 2022
‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all’
1768. Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.
The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless.
When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences. In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives. But every spell requires a sacrifice.
And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.
Thoughtsfrom the Emporium
Harper Voyager excel at designing book covers that catch your eye and lure you in as if they are enchanted like many of the articles in this book. The cover made Willow desire this book even before she read the blurb.
After studying history at uni, she adores novels that blend magic with historical fact devoured this mighty tome in days. When Amber read it, she was concerned she’d be confused as her knowledge of Marie Antoinette was minimal but these were unfounded. As promised by Willow, she was immersed into lives of Charlotte and Antoinette after they discover an embroidered book of magic. The spectacular blend of magic, history and sense of place kept both witches enthralled.
It is an epic read of 656 pages where the two sisters have to journey through the complex politics of these turbulent times while balancing family and societal expectations when their central reason is to do anything is to do the best for their respective countries. It’s told with empathy and made me consider questions about power, class and influence.
The palaces and characters were brought to life, making reading it a highly visual experience. Both witches and many customers who’ve also read it agree, it would make a wonderful tv series under the right director.
Why is it on the Enchanted Emporium Bookshelf?
The Embroidered Book is as beautiful inside as out and though it’s a work of fiction it gives many of the store’s readers a platform to build their knowledge of this era on while they are immersed in magic and spells. Full of imagination, the spectacular magical world building overlays historical fact making it a must for fans of both history and fantasy.
The bookshelf has witnessed the downfall of many who have taken a book of spells to the detriment of themselves and those around them. It hopes those witches who read The Embroidered Book will heed its warning.
Kate Heartfield is the author of The Embroidered Book, a historical fantasy novel out in February 2022. Her debut novel won Canada’s Aurora Award, and her novellas, stories and games have been shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, Sunburst and Aurora awards. A former journalist, Kate lives near Ottawa, Canada.