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Guernsey writers: The Devil’s Claw

Guernsey, for all its past history as an occupied Island during WW2 and it’s more recent one as a financial hub, is also a place for writers. It’s also part of a Bailiwick so it does include the islands of Alderney, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou and Sark.

A quick Google search via Wiki comes up with this, an interest list. We’ve all heard of Victor Hugo, scribbling away in his Hauteville Garret with views over Castle Cornet. I never met him 😆 but I actually once met a man who knew someone that did… Two others on the list I know well, one actually lives in the same retirement home as a relative. I also had the pleasure of meeting George Torode in person, a raconteur of unprecedented proportions. If you ever come across any of his Donkey books snap them up (a different George to the chef)

But the list isn’t complete…

it includes Guernsey expats as Victor sure wasn’t local…

Where is Elizabeth Goodge and Green Dolphin Country? A fantastic writer, The White Witch still features in my best top ten reads ever.

Where is Betty Neels? Betty who? Okay so I know you’ve never heard of her but just how many writers are mentioned in their readers obituaries? I know it’s morbid but that’s just how much this writer and her books meant to so many people. Betty’s gentle romances, often set in Holland but also set in Guernsey, have been enjoyed and are still being enjoyed and talked about today.

Where is Elizabeth Bereaford? The creator of The Wombles or indeed…where is fellow expat Alderney writer, Rachel Abbott? She’s just signed a two book deal with Headline. There’s also another debut, Jill Watson missing…Alderney doesn’t even appear on Wiki as a writer hub mmm…

What about Mary Ann Schaffer and That Book? Mary wasn’t local. She only stopped off here on a cruise and yet her book has endeared Guernsey to many of her readers.

And of course I’m not there😂…

And then there’s Lara Dearman…

Lara is local but now lives in New York. Her debut novel, The Devil’s Claw is set in Guernsey and is one hell of a thriller.

Book Blurb

Following a traumatic incident in London, Jennifer Dorey has returned to her childhood home in Guernsey, taking a job as a reporter at the local newspaper.

After the discovery of a drowned woman on a beach, she uncovers a pattern of similar deaths that have taken place over the past fifty years.
Together with DCI Michael Gilbert, an officer on the verge of retirement, they follow a dark trail of island myths and folklore to ‘Fritz’, the illegitimate son of a Nazi soldier. His work, painstakingly executed, has so far gone undetected.But with his identity about to be uncovered, the killer now has Jennifer in his sights.
My review,

Well I’m not sure I’ll be visiting The Fairy Ring anytime soon, a little piece of Guernsey history entrappped in folklore. A ring of stones facing Hanois Lighthouse. No one knows exactly how they got there but thousands of island children have stepped around them or tried to – I’ve always fallen off. Now all I see is dead bodies…

it’s actually strange reading a book set so close to home. I walk these streets. I’ve even got the same name as the lead character and I know the Doreys (a well known local name). This is a well-written debut set in an amazing location and full of snippets of local life. Having the lead as a reporter for the local press was genius as any ‘Guern’ will know of our small Island ramblings and political arguments.

It’s always difficult for a new author to make their mark but Lara has done just that. I wish her well and hope to meet up in person when she next visits.

The Devils Claw, published by Trapeze, is available from Amazon here

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Am I an author now? 

The never-ending question. What makes an author?

I’m definitely a writer but aren’t most of us? Whether it’s a shopping list, or a scribbled message on a post-it note, most of us write on a daily basis. But what turns a writer into an author?

I write books, is that it? Anyone can write a book – all it takes is perseverance and an ability not to give up until that last page is penned.

My books are published, is that it? Anyone can get their book published. Amazon is littered with books, of all qualities, genres and designs as the self-published industry exponentially explodes. Not only that. You only have to load Google to find the vanity-publishing sector has stepped up to the plate to get their slice of literary pie. 

I’ve published more than one, is that it? Quantity doesn’t necessarily mean quality. I’m a great believer in less is more. Better to produce something to be proud of. 

I have an editor, is that it? Producing a product that I’m proud of needs the help of others, something I’ve learnt the hard way. An author without an editor faces an uphill struggle – why make it harder than it needs to be?

I’ll never be an author, I’m an Indie, is that it? The publishing houses would probably agree with this statement but then again they are in the business of selling books. Show me a best-selling author and I’ll show you a best-selling Indie that’s been snapped up by one of the Big Six. 

I get fan mail, is that it? Book reviews are a necessary evil and readers opinions matter but letters from strangers… mind blowing

So what turns a writer into an author? 

Producing a book you’re proud of and finding that strangers are of the same opinion. 

My latest book, Englishwoman at Christmas, is published on 31st October. Maybe I’ll try the term author to see if it fits… 

Englishwoman at Christmas 99p from Amazon here 

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So, after resisting for ages I’ve finally gotten my act together and created a newsletter with accompanying sign-up. I’m not very technical when it comes to coding etc and this is probably one of the shortest newsletters you’ve ever seen but…This is a photo, for the links to work please click here

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Twenty Five Things I Would Tell My Fifteen Year Old Self…

Excellent, I agree with all but two, but then I’m female and my qualification helped

One of the characters in My Girlfriend’s Perfect Ex-Boyfriend is Gary. A troubled fifteen year old lad who’s as bright as a button, but in need of a father figure.

I loved writing him. And as the story developed, I, like my protagonist Ade, developed quite a fondness for this fresh faced youngster.

It started me thinking, if it were possible to somehow nip back in time and visit my fifteen year old self – or perhaps just send a message back somehow (maybe a text message – oh hang on, mobile phones hadn’t been invented – still, excellent idea for a plot) – what sage words of wisdom would I give myself?

Well, fans of How To Do Everything And Be Happy won’t be surprised to know that faced with this conundrum, I made a list. Just in case.

Here then is everything that I wish fifteen year old…

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Death in Foxrock: Valerie Keogh

Happy book launch to Valerie Keogh. Death in Foxrock is available to purchase here 

Book blurb

When Garda Sergeant Mike West and his partner, Garda Andrews, are called to a suspicious death they are shocked to find the small body of a child abandoned in a suitcase. Who is she? No child has been reported missing. Their search reaches outside Ireland involving other forces but without success and soon another dead body takes their attention. There is a surfeit of suspects this time but as the case evolves, the two detectives are stunned where it leads . 

Meanwhile, someone is making trouble for Kelly Johnson, and she is forced, eventually, to ask West for help.

Can West sort personal problems and professional cases and restore peace to Foxrock?

My review 

This is the next in the series featuring surprisingly normal Garda West, an Irish cop without any hang ups. In fact he’s normal. What an idea. To depict a policeman in literature that is someone that you might actually like, that you might relate to, that would be as happy with a coffee as a pint…

The cop TROPE is well known from TV shows to thrillers and to break this mould is indeed brave. Jonny Geller, that doyen of literary agents recently said on Twitter that

 ‘Plot is key, but not at the expense of character. We’ll go anywhere with a full character but question every move with a thin one.’

To write a character that is as well rounded as Garda West, but without the usual hooks of this genre needs both talent and guts. There is a plot but not just one. Subsidiary plots abound but with none of the loose ends that can cause a decent book to fail at the last hurdle. I loved the on-off nature of Garda West’s relationship with Kelly but also admired the way Ms Keogh kept a tight rein on the romance. When readers pick up a crime novel that’s what they want – crime. That’s why there’s a romantic suspence genre. I wait to see what’s next from this author…

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New Guernsey kid (writer) on the block: Lara Dearman

It is truth universally acknowledged that writers support other writers…

And if they’re from the same rock it’s a cert… In fact I’ve just spent the last five minutes stalking Lara to see if I recognise her from her photos – Guernsey is so small we all know someone who knows someone. Rest assured, Lara, you’re a stranger and I’m too busy to stalk anyone unless they have chocolate… 

Lara has recently had her debut published by Trapeze, a new imprint of Orion (one of my favourite houses on NetGalley). I haven’t read it yet but it’s on my TBR pile, which is leaning like Pisa. Here’s the blurb and links x

Book blurb

The six drowned girls stared up at them from the photographs. All young. All attractive. All dead. ‘It is a lot of dead girls. And it’s a very small island.’

* * * * *


Following a traumatic incident in London, Jennifer Dorey has returned to her childhood home in Guernsey, taking a job as a reporter at the local newspaper.After the discovery of a drowned woman on a beach, she uncovers a pattern of similar deaths that have taken place over the past fifty years.Together with DCI Michael Gilbert, an officer on the verge of retirement, they follow a dark trail of island myths and folklore to ‘Fritz’, the illegitimate son of a Nazi soldier. His work, painstakingly executed, has so far gone undetected. But with his identity about to be uncovered, the killer now has Jennifer in his sights.

Available from Amazon here 

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The Little Village Christmas, Happy Publication Day

Book blurb

Alexia Kennedy – interior decorator extraordinaire – has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community café it’s always dreamed of.

After months of fundraising, the villagers can’t wait to see work get started – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.

But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.

However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…

My review

This is my third read by Ms Moorcroft and it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact I’d go as far to say that she’s the queen of this genre. Barney is inspired and soon had me thinking of Hedwig from that other book and, just like that book, this also held magic between the pages. Ben and Alexia both have something to prove to themselves and relationships that ignite from first meet are my favourite kind of reads. Last year we had hats, then a car called pig and now we have Angel – My review is finished – go buy the book here

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Christmas at Corwenna Cove, Happy Publication Day


Book blurb

When Grace Phillips travels to Conwenna Cove to help her parents move there 30 years after their honeymoon in the village, she sees why they fell in love with the place. The festive decorations, carols in the air and constant supply of delicious mince pies certainly make it hard to leave. Grace soon meets local vet Oli Davenport and initially finds him rude, but learning about his passion for animals and how much he cares for his two kids helps Grace to see a softer side to Oli.

It’s been two years since Oli lost his wife to cancer. Though he loves eleven-year-old Amy and five-year-old Tom more than anything it’s hard to be mum and dad. He has no interest in romance until he crosses paths with beautiful and kind-hearted Grace. The sparks fly but both Oli and Grace are holding onto fear about letting someone into their heart.

As the snow falls and Christmas wishes come true can Conwenna Cove work its magic and help Grace and Oli find the happiness they both deserve?

My thoughts

Ah now there’s a thing, a book with strands of personal truth as I too spent my honeymoon in Cornwall, not 30 years ago, only 25.

Ms Boleyn’s support of greyhound rescue dogs is well known and I just love the way she’s been able to weave this into the storyline. A widower, a writer, a magical place that embodies all the best parts of Christmas and lots and lots of animals. Quod erat demonstrandum…

Thank you, NetGalley for the ARC, this review is mine though – you can’t have it.

Buy me here  😉

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Happy Publication Day: Jane Linfoot 

Jane Linfoot is what I’ve coined one of my favourite Chocolate Writers. When I’ve had a bad day and writing just isn’t for me I have a group of go-to favourite authors that I know can be relied on to give me that essential word fix and, do you know what? Her words are just getting better and better.

Christmas Promises at the Little Wedding Shop:

Book Blurb

The charming fourth book in the best selling `The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea’ series Christmas arrives at Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s enchanting and most adorable little wedding shop. There’s nothing more magical than a winter wonderland wedding, and the girls are determined to make this festive season their most romantic yet. The champagne is on ice while the mistletoe is hanging from every nook, and the exquisite lace and pearl-encrusted dresses, glistening like the frosted shop windows, are waiting to be chosen. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and romance is most definitely in the crisp winter air- with promises, proposals and Christmas kisses aplenty… What will the season bring, in this enchanting fourth book of `The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea’ series? Available here

My review

I adore Holly and the way her life needs a large kick of Christmas sparkle after a bumpy year of bereavement and horrid relationships. But Rory – OMG… it was also lovely to catch up with Jess, Immie, Sera and Poppy although this can be read as a standalone. Is this good bye to this series? I hope not…

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Christmas reads: Jane Linfoot, Darcie Boleyn, Sue Moorcroft

Yep, it’s that time again when I start thinking about the man in the red suit burning his bum on the wood burner.

With my first Christmas book launch, looming on the horizon I’ve decided to treat myself to some festive reads so here are three additions to that ever heaving TBR pile. I’m particularly keen to see what Sue has done with her interior designer because my book has one too, but no owls. Reviews to follow…