Christmas Poetry pamphlets from Candlestick Press


Ten Poems about Snow Selected and Introduced by Carole Bromley



The appeal of snow must have something to do with childhood – the excitement of waking up to a white world and placing our wellies into cold crunchiness. As adults we still feel the magic of snow’s hushed calm, which for a few days can slow down our hectic lives.

This mini anthology takes us on an enchanted journey through worlds of snow until we arrive, of course, in Robert Frost’s mysterious snowy woods. You’ll also find poems published here for the first time – winners and runners-up in our snow poem competition. Each offers a delightfully unexpected response:

“And I stood at the window and held the cat warm and purring
Heart to heart with me as we watched the snow fall

 My Review:

My childhood memories of snow are some of the happiest. Crazy snowball fights and dashing out of bed at the sight of morning snow to build a snowman. These memories we carry through our lives and we recall them when you need them most. Just reeased are two Christmas poetry pamphlets in time for the festive period that make the ideal christmas card.

Ten Poems about Snow selected and introduced by Carole Bromley we are seo reminded of those cold snowy winter days. From playing in the snow to those glitery winter snow globes. What is about waking to find snowfall and the world suddelny falls quiet. Is it me that just thinks that? Ten Poems that take us on a journey through the world of snow as seen and experienced through many eyes.

In Snow Day by Lucy Jeynes we are reminded that in one cubic foot of snow there are a billion snowflakes and each one unique. All is quiet and no sound of cars on the road. In When it Snowed by Kerry Darbishire there is Wordsworth skating in his black coat.

Each poem is a reminder of the beauty of snow and it changes the landscape. Don’t ask me to select a favourite as they are all just beautiful. This is just the perfect Christmas Card.



Christmas Spirit – Ten Poems to Warm the Heart



These ten specially commissioned poems celebrate the joy of Christmas in all its variety. Some evoke the bustle of untangling fairy lights, of shopping and cooking and opening presents, while others celebrate our more ancient seasonal traditions, such as collecting holly and ivy to bring into the house. And then, of course, there’s the mistletoe:

“I want to cry out, as Frigga did,
to the air and birds and new-found tenderness of
the world…
…Come, stand with me beneath these white berries of love.
Let me hold you, kiss you.

from ‘The Golden Bough’ by Rosie Jackson

The poems remind us that amid the inevitable hurly burly there’s always time to pause and savour quiet moments. This joyful and heart-warming selection is guaranteed to add a sprinkle of beauty and delight to every Christmas.

 My Review

What does Christmas mean to you? It means different things to everyone of course. In Christmas Spirit: Ten Poems to Warm the Heart the poems celebrate the pure joy of christmas period.

We all know how busy we are at this time of year trying to find the perfect gifts for family and friends, celebrations with family and friends and yet with the year now old we are really supposed to be slowing down to enjoy Christmas but here are ten poems to just make us stop and remember how chirstmas should be. I love bringing the outside in with Holly and Mistletoe to decorate the living room. Each poem has been specially commissioned for the pamphlet to help us just remember this special time of year and to make us pause amid the rushing around the shops and enjoy just some quiet moments and realise what christmas should be about. Think of it as a little christmas sprinkle in a card.

Thank you to Candlestick Press for the review copies of Ten Poems About Snow and also Christmas Spirit. Both Now available to order through their website: Candlestick Press

Candlestick Press are a small independent publisher based in Nottingham and were founded in 2008. The team consists of four dedicated people in Di Slaney (Publisher), Kathy Towers (Assistant Editor) and two admin assistants. Their aim is simple to spread the joy of poetry to adults and children alike who love poetry and or may be just beginning their journey in to enjoying poetry. These small pamphlets are just ideal for bedtime reading or like I have been doing and that is enjoying them on journeys.

They have published so many of these beautiful pamphlets on a wide range of topics from Christmas to Cricket, from Dogs to Sheep and even Clouds and walking and even breakfast. These wonderful poetry pamphlets make the ideal gift to send to friends and loved ones. For more information, please visit the Candlestick Press website: Candlestick Press

The Postcard Murder: A Judge’s Tale


The Postcard Murder: A Judge’s Tales by Paul Worsley QC


This is a vintage whodunit set in Edwardian London at a crossroads in time, as social revolution and psychiatry posed new questions for the Law and for the first time the Media were co-opted to run a killer to ground.

The year is 1907: 22-year-old Emily Dimmock lies murdered in her Camden Town flat, her head all but severed from her body. With not a thread or stain or fingerprint to point to the perpetrator, a young artist is manoeuvred into the shadow of the scaffold.

The tale is told verbatim by witnesses presided over by the author, who draws on his own experience as a Judge at the Old Bailey to get inside the mind of the outspoken but irresolute Mr Justice Grantham. The result is as compelling today as it is definitive of the era in which the murder was committed.

The book is illustrated with two maps and 27 photographs, 10 of which are in full colour.


Guest Post by Paul Worsley QC:

Having sat as a Judge at the Old Bailey for over ten years I am used to preparing written trial documents, ruling on submissions to admit or exclude evidence. Likewise the Summing Up to the jury requires  careful preparation. The jury needs to be told the Law – which they must accept from the Judge. But then a summary of the factual issues and a reminder of salient pieces of evidence in a coherent and  chronological manner is required. Thus as a Judge over the years I have gathered some experience of writing a document called ‘the Summing Up’ for the jury. Often they receive part of the summing up in written form to help them when they retire to consider their verdict.

As a Judge in retirement one is freed from the pressures that each case brings. But there is a sense of missing the courtroom, the ushers, clerks and colleagues, the taking of a verdict and then perhaps deciding upon the fate of a convicted killer. So it seemed to me to be a natural step in retirement to turn to writing about True Crime. It has long held a fascination and indeed it was probably those old cases where miscarriages of justice had occurred that enticed me into a murky world of motives and murders. Writing about a case, against the background of the law as the framework, seemed not unsurmountable. Then mastering the evidence and the rival arguments came next. It seemed natural to approach the case from the point of view of the Judge. Only when I started researching the case of Robert Wood did I realise that this was a novel approach not adopted before by other writers. By reading in the transcripts of the Judge’s rulings, observations and Summing Up it was not too difficult to get into the mind of an old-fashioned, blunt, reactionary Judge. Then using my experience of how witnesses give evidence, how the public gallery can react and how counsel go about their task made the story come alive. The Prosecution’s task is to seek to make a jury sure of guilt. The Defence seek to raise doubts. The case then unfolds  against the backdrop of the scaffold, whose shadow hung heavy over any trial for murder in the early 20th century.

To set about the task in earnest it was necessary to read round the case. Several books have been written about the trial or it has figured as a chapter in books about the Old Bailey or defence advocate Marshall Hall. Then to the National Archives at Kew to read the actual transcript of the evidence taken down as it was given in 1907. Then a decision as to how to present the evidence. Chronologically? Witness by witness? Subject by subject? Issue by issue? How to prune the days of evidence and speeches into something readable?

How to capture the sense of the moment and the atmosphere of the courtroom? I turned to the newspaper cuttings of the trial. Most helpful in this respect were the scrapbooks of cuttings which Marshall Hall KC kept of all his cases. There were reports from different daily newspapers of the same case and the same detailed proceedings. It must have been a monumental task to gather each daily paper and find the report on the case, then cut it out and place in a scrap book. It says perhaps something about the ego or even feeling of insecurity of the collector, wanting to see his name in newsprint and his successes emblazoned in the headlines.

Then how to approach the retelling of the tale? I decided to adopt an old device of narrating it to a  third party, in this case the Judge’s son who questions at different stages the old Judge’s preconceptions. How to make it a page turner by not simply accepting the verdict but coming up with a solution that fitted the evidence and showed that the jury got it wrong.

Then perhaps a Postscript to suggest how the case might have been tried in the 21st century with the powerful tools now at the disposal of investigators and lawyers. Would the verdict have been the same if Wood was tried today, with the evidential aids of CCTV and DNA to help the investigators? Finally letting the reader sit as a 13th juror and decide what the verdict would have been had they themselves tried the case of Robert Wood for the Postcard Murder.

Author Information:

Paul Worsley QC retired in 2017 as a Senior Circuit Judge at the Old Bailey and lives in North Yorkshire. His career, which spans over forty-five years in the Criminal Law, began in 1970 after reading Law at Oxford University. He first practised at the Bar from Chambers in Leeds, contesting many murder cases, often characterised by the rural area in which the crimes took place and the people who inhabit the vast wilderness of the North York Moors and Wolds to the south. In his first case in 1982, he secured the liberty of a farmer’s son who shot dead both his parents: they had treated him as a slave and made him sleep in the dog kennel. Six years later, he appeared for Yvonne Sleightholme, who famously went blind after being arrested for shooting dead her ‘love rival’ in a remote Yorkshire farmyard. Later, he successfully prosecuted ‘Wearside Jack’ (John Samuel Humble), who derailed the Yorkshire Ripper Investigation after sending hoax letters to the investigating officer (thence to the press), claiming to be the Ripper, In retirement, Paul is outspoken about the death penalty and trial without jury, and draws interesting parallels between the postcard murder case and today’s legal controversies. The 1907 case was the first in which the media was co-opted to run a killer to ground. Today, TV’s Crimewatch does that all the time to great effect. But there have been cases (Wearside Jack and the Cliff Richard ‘production’, for example) where collaboration between police and media did not serve justice so well. Then there is the question as to how far the law should reflect public opinion, as topical today. The influence of public opinion on Mr Justice Grantham in the postcard murder case had disastrous consequences, causing him to change his mind part way through his summing-up (an event without precedent). As a result, the jury discharged a guilty man. The case suggests that in every era public opinion has its blind spots and what we need is absolute judgement in Law. Is it not the job of judges to apply the Law and not decide what it should be? The author is a practised speaker and is available to roll out a series of talks at public forums, including law colleges and university faculties, and wherever his new book might take him.

Thank you Midas PR for the review copy of The Postcard Murder: A Judge’s Tale by Paul Worsley QC.

The Postcard Murder: A Judge’s Tale by Paul Worsley QC was published by Pilot Productions and was published on 14th November 2019 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

100 Things I Meant to Tell You by Arthur Smith.


100 Things I Meant to Tell You by Arthur Smith


Arthur Smith’s first book for many years, 100 Things I Meant to Tell You brings together 100 stories, poems and articles gathered over a colourful lifetime making a living on the
comedy circuit.

In 2005 Arthur turned down a Perrier Award for Lifetime Achievement, saying “They wanted to tell me I was old and cool; well, I know that already.” Currently the popular host of BBC Radio 4 Extra’s Comedy Club, he has travelled all over the British Isles and the rest of the world perform-ing and reporting on a range of subjects as diverse as Flotsam and Jetsom in Holland (in a series for BBC 1’s The One Show) and more recently, goat yoga in Ipswich, but never before has he corralled all these wonderful stories into book form.

Some humorous, some anecdotal, some nostalgic and some extremely poignant, the stories include the time Arthur was arrested for ‘breach of the peace and possession of a megaphone’, the time he hitched a lift from a nun and heard his own voice (imitating Leonard Cohen) playing on her car radio, the fight he had with Billy Connolly, his flight in a Tiger Moth, and – in verse – his hatred of Teletubbies.

Covering a huge range of subjects and emotions, tales of hilarious, chaotic antics are juxtaposed with gentle, bittersweet stories about love affairs that ended badly and his mother’s journey into dementia, making this a cornucopia of delight for Arthur Smith fans everywhere.

My Review:

What can I say about Arthur Smith? He is one of my favourite comedians. Anyone who has seen and loved the BBC series Grumpy Old Men will know just how funny Arthur Smith really is. Now just released is 100 Things I Meant to Tell you. (AA Publishing).


After studying at the University of East Anglia Arthur became a dustman and even starred in a rock band before eventually becoming a full-time entertainer and one of our best loved ones at that. Arthur Smith is a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival now for over 40 years. Not to mention that he has travelled the world performing he comedy act as well as performing in plays.

In 100 Things I Meant to Tell You the legend that is Arthur Smith brings us his own unique great humour and there are here many things that you will have never previously known of before that even I at times gasped at while reading. This can only be described as a rip-roaring memoir. But really I think it is more than just a memoir. A lesson in life perhaps from one of the great grumpy old men. His humour is my humour just plain dry.

This is Arthur’s life through his very own eyes. It is gags galore but there are also moments when he tells his story with great humility as he talks about his near death experiences.

With Christmas coming up it is just the perfect gift for anyone who is a fan of the great man and entertainer Arthur Smith.

288 Pages.

 Thank you Vanessa Oboagye (Midas PR) for the review copy of 100 Things I Meant to Tell You by Arthur Smith.

100 Things I Meant to Tell You by Arthur Smith was published by AA Publishing on 31st October 2019 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Ness by Robert Macfarlane & Stanley Donwood


Ness by Robert Macfarlane & Stanley Donwood



Somewhere on a salt-and-shingle island, inside a ruined concrete structure known as The Green Chapel, a figure called The Armourer is leading a ritual with terrible intent.

But something is coming to stop him.

Five more-than-human forms are traversing land, sea and time towards The Green Chapel, moving to the point where they will converge and become Ness. Ness has lichen skin and willow-bones. Ness is made of tidal drift, green moss and deep time. Ness has hagstones for eyes and speaks only in birds. And Ness has come to take this island back.

What happens when land comes to life? What would it take for land to need to come to life? Using word and image, Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood have together made a minor modern myth. Part-novella, part-prose-poem, part-mystery play, in Ness their skills combine to dazzling, troubling effect.

My Review:

A shingle spit of land off the Suffolk coast lies Orford Ness now it is reclaimed by nature but years before it played a part for nearly seventy years as scientists carried out secret military research covering from WWI to nuclear weapons. Ness (Hamish Hamilton) by Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood is more than just poetry and words it speaks from the shifting winds that change the landscape of Ness.

hag01-trans (1).png

There on this shingle land is a concrete building called The Green here there is a figure who is called the Armourer who is conducting a ritual and it is a ritual with terrible meaning soon there are forms that are more than just humans and their intent is to stop him from carrying out his intent.

It is a landscape for birds and this landscape is coming back to reclaim it back for nature. This is poetry, this is a novel, it is prose. You can judge how you wish to view this astonishing short book. Like Ness itself it is just magical and beautiful. Now it is quiet except for the sound of the wind and the sound of the birds that have reclaimed Orford Ness and the sound of shingle underfoot.

A Hagstone is when water and other elements pound the stone so that eventually a hole appears. It is folklore that says to view through a Hagstone is to look at the past, or the future. This is beautiful book of under 100 pages.

96 Pages.

Thank you to Hamish Hamilton for the review copy of Ness by Robert Macfarlane & Stanley Donwood.

Ness by Robert Macfarlane and Stanley Donwood was published by Hamish Hamilton on 7th November 2019 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett and Jackie Morris


The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett and Jackie Morris


Little Eepersip doesn’t want to live in a house with doors and windows and a roof, so she runs away to live in the wild – first in the Meadow, then by the Sea, and finally in the Mountain. Her heartbroken parents follow her at first, bringing her back home to ‘safety’ and locking her up in the stifling square of the house. But she slips away once more, following her wild heart out of the door and far away…

Barbara Newhall Follett was just thirteen years old when she published The House Without Windows in 1927. The book went on to become a million-copy bestseller. Years later, as an adult herself, Barbara followed in the footsteps of her radical heroine – dissatisfied with the limitations of life as a respectable married woman, she walked out of her house one day and simply disappeared.

Penguin are delighted to republish Barbara Newhall Follett’s extraordinary feminist fable for the next generation of nature lovers and escapees to discover and cherish. Newly introduced by Jackie Morris, and filled with her beautifully inked artwork, The House Without Windows is an irresistible paean to the natural world and its transcendent effect on the human heart.

My Review:

Barbara Newhall Follett was born in 1914 in New Hampshire and a name that may be not be familiar to many people but by the age of twelve she had written a book that was timeless. I knew of her lost classic The House Without Windows from my younger days but lost over time. But now thanks to the publisher Hamish Hamilton and artist and illustrator Jackie Morris The House Without Windows has been re-issued. I can tell that that the embossed cover is just simply gorgeous and inside Jackie Morris has added illustrations that bring Barbara Newhall Follett’s story alive.

Barbara Hewhall Follett

Barbara Newhall Follett

The story actually starts a few years before she reaches the age of twelve and Follett had written the story to give to her mother on her own birthday. But tragedy struck when the family were all asleep and fire ripped through the house. The family survived but they lost nearly everything and Follett’s story was lost in the fire.


Jackie Morris

So what does the young Follett do next? She spends the next few years recounting every moment of the story and re-writes it almost word for word. It is a remarkable testament to a determined young girl so driven to tell this story of Eepersip trying to escape into the wilderness that is The House Without Windows. Little Eepersip does not want to live in a world of made of bricks and glass she wants to live outdoors and so one day she flees the family home out to the meadow, the sea and where the mountains are. Eepersip is free to walk and feel the fresh air, to see where the wild animals, birds and butterflies live after all they are free. This beautiful story as seen through the eyes of a young child who had a troubled start in life. Follett managed to get her book published and a run of 2,500 copies were printed and all sold.

Suddenly Barbara Newhall Follett’s book became a bestseller and at the age of just twelve she hailed as a bright new star in the world of literature. From here you would think that life would be full of great adventures for Follett she travelled as a new writing star would do. Follett continued to write stories and then in 1934 she married.

On 7th December 1939 she left her apartment that they lived in and was never seen again. There have been over the many year’s various stories as to why she walked out of the apartment. Was it the rejections of her stories or life she living between the four walls and a longing to be free as little Eepersip was, to run to the sea and the mountains. We will never know the answer as to why she disappeared but what Follett left was a beautiful story of a young girl escaping into the wilderness to live in nature.

The House Without Windows cries out not only to be read but to be read outdoors it is beautifully written and just enchanting. Highly Recommended.

The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett and Jackie Morris has made the 2019 shortlist for the Waterstones book of the year.

Special copies of The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett and Jackie Morris are available through Number Seven Tales Art and Play Bookshop, Dulverton. Jackie Morris has signed copies of the books and there is a silver Snow Hare stamped in the book by Jackie. These are just beautiful collector’s edition copies available and are perfect for Christmas gifts. Telephone the shop for availability and postage. 01398 324457.

240 Pages.

My thanks to the publisher Hamish Hamilton for the review copy of The House Without Windows by Barbara Newhall Follett and Jackie Morris. Published on 3rd October 2019 and is available to through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Cage by Lilja Sigurðardóttir


Cage by Lilja Sigurðardóttir

Translated by Quentin Bates.


As a group of foreign businessmen tries to draw Agla into an ingenious fraud that stretches from Iceland around the world, Agla and her former nemesis, María find the stakes being raised at a terrifying speed.
Ruthless drug baron Ingimar will stop at nothing to protect his empire, but he has no idea about the powder keg he is sitting on in his own home.
At the same time, a deadly threat to Sonya and her family brings her from London back to Iceland, where she needs to settle scores with longstanding adversaries if she wants to stay alive.

My Review:

Cage (Orenda Books) is the third and also final part in the Reykjavik Noir Series by Lilja Sigurðardóttir following on from Snare and Trap. Goodness how I love these tense edge of the seat thrillers and Cage delivers on all fronts as it was a review copy I was reading I found myself highlighting key parts throughout the book.


Those that have read the previous two novels in the series know that that there are two main characters in Agla and her lover Sonja. For her part in a major banking scandal Agla was locking in prison and know she is out but there is no Sonja to meet her. Agla throughout was a tough no-nonsense character but locked away she has faced her own demons and now she is out she has to face up to life without her lover despite how she feels inside.

Agla has been recruited to look into a scam that spans borders across the world and requests the help of an old quittance in Maria but there is previous with the pair. When Maria realises just how big this fraud is and the scale and who is involved she decides to help Agla. But at the top of this fraud is one man who in in the previous books was the head man of the scams and he will not be stopped and will deal with anyone caught sticking their nose into his business. Ingimar will protect what he has built. All in all, this is an edge of the seat thriller that keep a pace all the way through. What Sigurðardóttir has delivered in the trilogy is a stunning read from book one to the last page of book three. It has everything from drug-smuggling, banking scandals, politics, murder and love. One aspect of Cage I like was that the chapters are short and this makes for a perfect read on the commute to work. (nothing worse than having to leave a chapter half way through). All in all, Cage delivers and I will miss the characters in the series. So now what Lilja Sigurðardóttir what on earth are you going to give us? Highly Recommended.

276 Pages.

My thanks to Karen (Orenda Books) for the review copy of Cage by Lilja Sigurðardóttir.

 Cage by Lilja Sigurðardóttir was published by Orenda Books and was published on 17th October 2019 and is available to through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.


Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem


Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem


Mudlark (/’mAdla;k/) noun A person who scavenges for usable debris in the mud of a river or harbour

Lara Maiklem has scoured the banks of the Thames for over fifteen years, in pursuit of the objects that the river unearths: from Neolithic flints to Roman hair pins, medieval buckles to Tudor buttons, Georgian clay pipes to Victorian toys. These objects tell her about London and its lost ways of life.

Moving from the river’s tidal origins in the west of the city to the point where it meets the sea in the east, Mudlarking is a search for urban solitude and history on the River Thames, which Lara calls the longest archaeological site in England.

As she has discovered, it is often the tiniest objects that tell the greatest stories.

My Review:

Before I settled down to write this review I Googled ‘What is a mudlark’ and it say they are people who scavenge along river beds for items of value. But there is so much more to Mudlarking than just looking for items of value. The River Thames is tidal and is really an archaeological site all of its own. Just stop and think about the history of the Thames. Now Lara Maiklem in Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames (Bloomsbury) gives us an insight to the items she has found and that each one has a story.


As the tide recedes then history is just waiting to be discovered. the Thames is the main artery of London. Would London even exist if the Thames was not there? Where there is a main river then towns and cities are built and with it comes items that are discarded into the river all just waiting to be discovered by Lara Maiklem. For Maiklem she has been walking the Thames now for about fifteen years and every item she finds is of historical value. Each has a story back in years gone by. From the many clay pipes that are discovered daily to items of incredible value and even ordnance dropped by German aircraft in WWII as London went through the blitz.

Of course you just cannot turn up at the banks of the Thames and start searching for items, being a Mudlark is not that simple. You have to apply for a permit and you have to be a member of the Society of Mudlarks and even then you have then needed to have held a standard permit for over two years and then it is still not that simple. This is a society surrounded in mystery. There is so much history to the Thames. I lived in London for over thirteen years and was fascinated by the river.

There are those of course who see the river as a bit of a goldmine just waiting to discover the next item of value with their metal detectors, but not for Lara. Each item she finds is carefully examined and cleaned and then researched. From early man to the Romans through to the period of the Great Fire of London when people hurled their belongings into the river rather than seeing them being consumed by the fire that spread along the river bank.

There is so much history just beneath the mud on the banks of the Thames and each time Lara makes a visit as the tide drops she looks and finds. Just turn over that rock and there is another piece of history just waiting to be found.

What I loved about Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames was that it read so easily and Lara’s care and also interest in the items she has found. Lost items are just waiting to be found it may take a few hundred years but someone else will be find our lost items. Some years ago I tossed an engagement ring into the Thames from London Bridge after a relationship ended. I would like to think that in a few hundred years-time a Mudlark scouring the riverbank will find that very ring. That in itself is a romantic thought. A wonderful read and highly recommended.

336 Pages.

Mudlarking: Lost and Found on the River Thames by Lara Maiklem was published by Bloomsbury and was published on 18th August 2019 and is available to through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Breaking & Mending: A Junior Doctor’s Stories of Compassion & Burnout by Joanna Cannon


Breaking & Mending: A Junior Doctor’s Stories of Compassion & Burnout by Joanna Cannon



 had never felt so ill. I was mentally and physically broken. So fractured, I hadn’t eaten properly or slept well, or even changed my expression for months. I sat in a cubicle, behind paper-thin curtains and I shook with the effort of not crying. I was an inch away from defeat… but I knew I had to carry on.

Because I wasn’t the patient. I was the doctor.”

In this powerful memoir, Joanna Cannon tells her story as a junior doctor in visceral, heart-rending snapshots.

We walk with her through the wards, facing extraordinary and daunting moments: from attending her first post-mortem, sitting with a patient through their final moments, to learning the power of a well- or badly chosen word. These moments, and the small sustaining acts of kindness and connection that punctuate hospital life, teach her that emotional care and mental health can be just as critical as restoring a heartbeat.
In a profession where weakness remains a taboo, this moving, beautifully written book brings to life the vivid, human stories of doctors and patients – and shows us why we need to take better care of those who care for us.


My Review:

Many will know of Joanna Cannon the author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep and Three Things about Elsie but before Joanna became an author she graduated from medical school and became a hospital doctor before specialising in psychiatry. Now Joanna Cannon has penned a powerful memoir Breaking & Mending: A Junior Doctor’s Stories of Compassion & Burnout about her time working on the wards.


What Joanna Cannon has created here is a window into her own world back in the days when she graduated and suddenly everything became real. From attending seminars an and all the studying now suddenly Joanna was faced with pressures of being a junior doctor and seeing real patients with real medical problems, all of them want to be seen and made well. Then there is attending the first post-mortem. We have all been patients in one form or another but many of us would run a mile at the thought of becoming a junior doctor and the sheer pressure of just the job title would be enough to frighten many of us. It takes a very special person to hear the calling of wanting to go through all the training and studying to become a junior doctor and then enter the NHS that is creaking under so much pressure and cut-backs.

I have only met Joanna Cannon once but I have known Joanna on Social Media since before her first novel was released. There are some people who a just destined in their lives to help others and Joanna is that person. Her compassion for her fellow man has been clear since those early days and a heart that cries out to help others. When I was reading Breaking & Mending I was so moved by her own story of being a junior doctor and at times moved me to tears.

When we are broken in one way or another we enter hospital to be mended and we see nurses and doctors constantly under pressure. When a junior doctor or anyone else working in medicine is broken who is there for them? That is a question many of us will have asked ourselves when we have been in hospital but never see. They are human just like we are and they break but in a way that we may never see or hear. But reading Joanna’s powerful memoir those stories are here contained on each page. Those that work in medicine deserve our respect and also our understanding.

The stories that Joanna shares with us are incredibly emotional and at times utterly heart-breaking. Yet this is one of the most beautiful and heartfelt books I have read this year. I am so very grateful for being given the chance have read Breaking & Mending and is a book I would recommend to everyone.

I have held back this review as Joanna Cannon is appearing at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on Monday 7th October at 6.30pm.

There are just a few tickets remaining at the time of writing this. For more details: Please visit:   Cheltenham Literature Festival 07.10.2019 Event

#BreakingandMeding @JoannaCannon

@ProfileBooks #ExploreWellcome

176 Pages

My thanks to Profile Books for the review copy of Breaking & Mending: A Junior Doctor’s Stories of Compassion & Burnout by Joanna Cannon.

Breaking & Mending: A Junior Doctor’s Stories of Compassion & Burnout by Joanna Cannon was published by Profile Books (Wellcome Collection) and was published on 26th September 2019 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

Ring the Hill by Tom Cox

Ring The Hill Cover .jpg

Ring the Hill by Tom Cox



It is a book written around, and about, hills: it includes a northern hill, a European hill, some hills from East Anglia that can barely be called hills at all. Each chapter takes a type of hill whether it be knoll, cap, cliff, tor, bump or even mere hillock as a starting point for one of Cox’s characteristically unpredictable and wide-ranging explorations.

These can lead to an account of an intimate relationship with a beach, a journey into Cox’s past or a lesson from an expert in what goes into the mapping of hills themselves. Because a good walk in the hills is never just about the hills: you never know where it might take you.

My Review:

Over recent years I have become a bit of a fan of Tom Cox’s writing, I pick up one of his books and I am lost for the entire day. Now just released by Unbound is his latest offering. Ring the Hill. This is a book about hills! So for someone like me who loves hills and mountains (though mountains are not included in the book) the first thing I did when a copy of Ring the Hill arrived was to Google: What constitutes a hill? The answer is really quite simple according to the National Geographic. A hill is a piece of land that rises higher than everything around it. So there you have it. Armed with this I settled down to what turned out to be a real gem of a read.


So what is Ring the Hill all about. In Tom’s own words A knoll, cap, cliff, tor or even just a bump, Tom is going to take you the reader on a trip across the country and even a European hill.

The first thing that I have to say is what a glorious cover design and Glastonbury Tor on the cover. I was sold straight away and talking of Glastonbury and its Tor, it does take centre stage for me in the book as Tom takes us around the mystical town and surrounding parts of Somerset that have mystery just around every corner. I hold Glastonbury Tor very close to my heart it is a very special place but I just don’t know why. It has history of course as the last About of Glastonbury Abbey, Richard Whiting was hanged, drawn and quartered along with two of his Monks on the 15th November 1539.

There is so much to rejoice in Tom’s writing as he makes it look so easy (I am sure he would argue with me over that) and it is a real pleasure to read as he takes us across the land to hills and bumps and Knolls. And there is great humour in Tom’s writing while on his adventure to discover the hills and the towns around them.

Ring the Hill is the sort of book you want to pack in your rucksack and head off to climb a few hills one Sunday and them find a cosy pub with a log fire and settle down with your favourite tipple and I promise you time will just disappear while you read this joyous book.

Now get your walking boots on! Highly recommended.

#RingTheHill     @cox_tom     @unbounders

340 Pages.

Thank you to Unbound and also Anne Cater (Random Things Tours) for the review copy of Ring the Hill by Tom Cox.

Ring the Hill by Tom Cox was published by Unbound and was published on 3rd October 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare – Paperback release

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The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal by Horatio Clare

Paperback release


As November stubs out the glow of autumn and the days tighten into shorter hours, winter’s occupation begins. Preparing for winter has its own rhythms, as old as our exchanges with the land. Of all the seasons, it draws us together. But winter can be tough.

It is a time of introspection, of looking inwards. Seasonal sadness; winter blues; depression – such feelings are widespread in the darker months. But by looking outwards, by being in and observing nature, we can appreciate its rhythms. Mountains make sense in any weather. The voices of a wood always speak consolation. A brush of frost; subtle colours; days as bright as a magpie’s cackle. We can learn to see and celebrate winter in all its shadows and lights.

In this moving and lyrical evocation of a British winter and the feelings it inspires, Horatio Clare raises a torch against the darkness, illuminating the blackest corners of the season, and delving into memory and myth to explore the powerful hold that winter has on us. By learning to see, we can find the magic, the light that burns bright at the heart of winter: spring will come again.

My Review:

Released on 3rd October is The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal (Elliott & Thompson) in Paperback. Written in the form of a diary that starts in October and works its way through from autumn through the winter months. This is a repost of my review for the hardback edition which was released in November 2018.

Horatio Clare Author Picture

I am someone who loves the outdoors and all things nature, the dark winter months trapped in an office has often left me feeling tired and exhausted and then come the weekend I cherish every moment of the hours of daylight.

Here in Horatio Clare’s excellent diary, he talks openly of how he to suffers as we move from kicking our way through the autumn leaves and then as the days grow shorter and then into November one of the darkest months of the year. I really found Horatio’s open and honest account to be very reassuring. Many of us suffer in silence especially in the workplace.

The excitement of Christmas comes to Horatio Clare and his family, with memories of childhood and now with his own family. But silently he suffers knowing that there is a tax bill and other debts to be paid and how he is going to find the money to pay all this. It is during the winter months he becomes more or less withdrawn to save money. At times there is a little tension in the household.

Seasonal depression is not something anyone should suffer in silence with (all except me apparently). Nature too shuts down but there is joy to be found in nature during the darkest months. The joy of chilly frosty morning walks at the weekend. There is so much we can enjoy about winter but we have to appreciate its beauty. The Light in the Dark is a moving and poetic look at this time of year and one book I rejoice in. This is a torch to guide us through the dark winter days until Spring’s first rays of light warm us. I am delighted to highly recommend The Light in the Dark: A Winter Journal.

#TheLightInTheDark @HoratioClare @eandtbooks

224 Pages.

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