Twin Truths Blog Tour


What is the truth?

And how do you recognise it when you hear it?

Jenny and Pippa are twins. Like many twins, they often know what the other is thinking. They complete each other. When Pippa disappears Jenny is left to face the world alone, as she tries to find out what happened to her ‘other half.’ But the truth, for Jenny, can be a slippery thing.


As an English teacher, I was intrigued by the premise of a book featuring an English teacher too. Add that to the fact that I love books with twins in – probably blaming Sweet Valley High for that  – and I absolutely loved the last Shelan Rodger book I read, and it’s safe to say that I was really looking forward to Twin Truths…

This book grabbed me and pulled me right into the story. I was really intrigued by the twin structure of the book: that we get to hear about events from both Jenny and her twin sister Pippa’s perspective and this really added to the story for me. Their childhood has had a massive impact on the way that they have developed as people and the childhood damage has affected them both very differently – we see that even though they are twins, they have developed very different coping mechanisms.

We see one sister losing herself in studying and pursuing a solitary academic pathway whereas her twin  chooses to lose herself more hedonistically,  seeking excitement and dangerous pastimes, in order to escape from the hurt which she has been exposed to.

Both sisters have very distinct voices which really emphasises the way that our early experiences can have hugely different effects on how we develop as adults. Even though Twin Truths deals with very challenging issues, they never threaten to dominate the story and the sisters feel very much like real people – rather than mechanisms to explore an issue – which I’ve often found in novels which want to look at the way we respond to trauma or tragedy.

Shelan Rodger is an excellent writer – it’s hard to talk about this novel without spoilers, so I’ll just need to tell you that you must read it for yourself. You will be intrigued by  Jenny’s life in Argentina and want to read on and find out exactly what has led to Pippa’s vanishing and how Jenny will deal with this situation. Pippa’s ‘half’ of the novel goes a long way towards making us understand Jenny and the way she reacts to events as they unfold.


I really liked the way that Twin Truths asks us to look at events from these ‘twin’ perspectives and re-see them, once we have a greater understanding of everything that the girls have been through in order for us to reevaluate our understanding of what ‘the truth’ actually is.

This isn’t just a straightforward thriller or mystery. Twin Truths goes a little deeper than that and asks us to think about the way that our personalities evolve through, because of and despite our experiences and who we can trust with our truths. The third part of the novel makes us rethink again everything that we’ve discovered in the first two sections and will leave you turning the pages, desperate to find out exactly how this fantastic read will end.

Anyone interested in family relationships, psychology and human emotions will love Shelan Rodger’s new novel. I loved Yellow Room and had really high hopes for Twin Truths and I’m delighted to say that I was definitely not disappointed. Even though this book touched on dark and difficult subject matters at times, it was dealt with very sensitively and never felt exploitative or sensational in the slightest.

Twin Truths was a book that I know I’ll be recommending to lots of readers as I was totally immersed in its characters, its pace and the way it really made me think. I can’t wait to see what Shelan Rodger does next. The idea that the opposite of truth isn’t necessarily a lie is a very intriguing one and I think that Twin Truths woud make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion…


Twin Truths was published by Dome Press on the 15th March 2018.

Many thanks to lovely Emily from Dome Press for inviting me to join this blog tour and for my copy of the book for this review.

Writer on the Shelf

Shelan’s life is a patchwork of different cultures. Born in Nigeria, she grew up among the Tiwi, an aboriginal community in Australia, and moved to England at the age of eleven. After graduating in Modern Languages from Oxford, she travelled to Argentina, where she spent nine years teaching and setting up a language school. Another chapter in England was followed by six years in Kenya, where she got involved in learning and development, with an emphasis on anti-discrimination. She now lives in Spain, working in international education – and writing.








Beneath the Water – Blog Tour



Munro House is the new start Stella needs. But it will also draw her back to a dark past…

Devastated by a broken engagement, Stella Jackson leaves her old life behind for a new start in rural Scotland. But when she arrives in the remote coastal village of Arisaig, nothing is what she expected.

At the edge of Arisaig sits Munro House; grand, imposing and said to be cursed by a string of tragic deaths. No less intriguing is its eccentric and handsome young owner, Jamie Munro, who hires Stella as his assistant while he pursues a seemingly impossible aim. Working through the great house’s archives, Stella soon finds herself drawn in by a cache of increasingly erratic letters from a young Victorian woman about her husband, Dr James Lockhart, a man whose single-minded ambition has strange parallels with Jamie’s.

Just as Stella begins developing feelings for Jamie, she discovers that the connection between the Lockharts and the Munros could have sinister repercussions for them both. She’s finally found the life she wants to live—but is it all an illusion?


As soon as I read the blurb from Anne Cater about Beneath the Water I was sold! I absolutely love reading books set in areas that I’ve visited and the fact that this book was set in Scotland, to boot meant that I didn’t hesitate for a minute. Receiving the book was a real pleasure as its gorgeous cover is absolutely stunning, like a Monet painting in its washed blue tones and its matt cover makes it tactile as well as beautiful to look at.



I loved the character of Stella and thoroughly enjoyed this blend of modern-day mystery and historical flashes that permeate the story. I found the snippets from the perspective of Jessie Lockwood thoroughly intriguing and I was kept guessing about how the modern and the historic elements of this novel would come together by the end of this tale.


This novel is set in the remote and beautiful Arisaig and all I can say is – if you have never been, you will definitely be tempted after finishing this novel. Life in the village is very vividly recreated and you definitely will feel like you’re immersing yourself in the life of the village alongside Stella as she heads north to get over her soul-destroying breakup.  If you’ve ever driven past a remote beautiful house and wondered what stories lie behind its gates then this is definitely the novel for you.


Stella’s fascination with Munro House and its mysterious owner Jamie Munro are very credibly portrayed and even his stranger preferences – such as getting her to sign a non-disclosure agreement – are handled well and make him even more intriguing for the reader. Stella is a strange mixture of vulnerability and strength and I found this really appealing. Being holed up in your best friend’s house when your life has been turned upside down is a dreadful experience – because I’ve been there!

Sarah Painter develops her characters so well that you really begin to root for Stella whose heart condition meant that her early years were very uncertain – and hope that her heart will be healed in this beautiful and remote location. The local gossip and whisperings as soon as she lands a job with the mysterious Jamie are also very well handled and makes you very definitely rooting for Stella to make it out the other side of her disastrous breakup with Ben.

The historical element to the story is also very well handled. It really kept me wondering how the glimpses of the past would connect with present-day Munro House and I loved the insights we got from Jessie’s letters into how different things were in the past and how much for women has changed since Jessie’s time. As a personal side note, I was born in Simpson’s maternity hospital in Edinburgh, named after James Young Simpson so I loved hearing about him in the novel and felt that this has personal resonance for me

I absolutely loved Beneath the Water. I feel like the setting, the character of Stella and the connections I felt with the book all made this a fantastic reading experience for me. Romance isn’t a genre that I’m drawn to, but the historical dimension and the mystery of Munro House made this book a real page-turner for me.

I’d like to thank Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and I’m looking forward to seeing what my fellow bloggers thought of it later Sarah Painter has written several other novels so I’m off to decide which one to order next as I really enjoyed this my trip to Arisaig and I’ll be recommending it to my mum who’s a big fan of a historical read and I’m sure she has a few memories of Simpson’s Maternity hospital herself…




Writer on the Shelf

Sarah Painter B&W Author Photo
Before writing books, Sarah Painter worked as a freelance magazine journalist, blogger and editor, combining this ‘career’ with amateur child-wrangling (AKA motherhood).

Sarah’s debut, The Language of Spells, became a Kindle bestseller and was followed by The Secrets of GhostsThe Garden of Magic and In The Light of What We See.

Sarah Painter’s website

Sarah Painter on Twitter


Fabulous interview with Sarah by the lovely Joanne at Portobello Book Blog

Zelda aged 10 weeks
Zelda aged 10 weeks


Sarah lives in rural Scotland with her children, husband, and a grey tabby called Zelda Kitzgerald.

She drinks too much tea, loves the work of Joss Whedon, and is the proud owner of a writing shed.

The Dark Lake – Dive in at your peril!

The-Dark-LakeA hot summer. A shocking murder. A town of secrets, waiting to explode… A beautiful young teacher has been murdered, her body found in the lake, strewn with red roses.


Local policewoman Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock pushes to be assigned to the case, concealing the fact that she knew the murdered woman in high school years before.

But that’s not all Gemma’s trying to hide. As the investigation digs deeper into the victim’s past, other secrets threaten to come to light, secrets that were supposed to remain buried.

The lake holds the key to solving the murder, but it also has the power to drag Gemma down into its dark depths

The Dark Lake opens with a dead body in a lake – a body which is soon identified as popular teacher Rosalind Ryan.  The news shakes the town of Smithson to its core especially detective Gemma Woodstock who we discover was at school with Rosalind. Fans of  The Dry will already be loving the sound of Sarah Bailey’s debut novel and what’s not to love? A small Australian town, a mysterious death and buried secrets make for an engrossing and atmospheric read that will keep you gripped until its conclusion.


The Beast from the East was a pain in the neck, but every cloud has a silver lining and three days at home to devote to reading meant that The Dark Lake has been read from cover to cover by all three members of this household with a resounding thumbs up from all concerned.  I loved the atmospheric writing and a sense that we are right alongside Gemma as she uncovers things lurking beneath the surface in Smithson.

It is a testament to Sarah Bailey’s writing that the small town atmosphere of rumour and grudges is vividly brought to life on the page and we follow Gemma and partner Felix McKinnon as they investigate the life of Rosalind to get a better picture of how she lived her life. They are curious about her decision to return to the small town in the first place – what or who has drawn her back and has this got anything to do with her demise? After all, why would anyone want to murder Rosalind?  Finding out what lurks under the peaceful outer appearance of Smithson was definitely one of this novel’s strengths and I very much enjoyed their efforts to get to the truth – no matter how murky things got.

We also discover that even back in the day, when they were students together, Gemma never really felt like she knew the ‘real’ Rosalind. There is a touch of the Laura Palmer here in the way that an ordinary small town can be hiding so much and the slow reveal was equally satisfying – if a little less bizarre, obviously.  Gemma and Felix are perplexed by a fair few aspects of Gemma’s life in the modern day too – why for example did she take up residence in a far from salubrious apartment when her dad was clearly very wealthy? For someone who seemed so beloved by the town the only thing that seems clear about Gemma’s investigation is that everything seems very unclear as far as Rosalind is concerned…

Add Gemma’s own secrets into the mix and the pressure soon begins to simmer as we follow her deeper and deeper into the town’s hidden heart. No-one here is entirely blameless and you will definitely enjoy working out whose version of events seems closest to the truth as the investigation gets more and more complex.

The Dark Lake is first and foremost a blooming good read.  Sarah Bailey’s debut novel reads like the work of someone far more established and her setting is fantastically well realised. It almost feels like True Crime at times – praise indeed from me – as you get so absorbed in the story and really want to see where it takes you and find the truth about Rosalind’s death.


I heartily recommend it and would like to thank Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour and sending me a copy, how cute does it look in today’s #OnTheShelfie?

If you fancy reading it yourself – and I really think you should then you can buy yourself a copy here

Can’t wait to see what Gemma investigates next and will be sure to keep an eye on Sarah Bailey as we all enjoyed reading it a great deal.


Writer On The Shelf

Sarah Bailey Author Picture.jpg

Sarah’s first novel, The Dark Lake, was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin in May 2017 and in the USA and Canada in October.

Sarah lives in Melbourne, Australia and has two young sons.

She has fifteen years experience in the advertising industry and is currently a director at creative projects company Mr Smith.

Sarah’s second book, Into The Night, featuring Detective Gemma Woodstock, will be published in 2018.



Twitter: @sarahbailey1982

If you liked the sound of The Dark Lake, you might enjoy hearing what these fab fellow bloggers had to say about it…


The Perfect Girlfriend – Take Off for Blog Tour!



Juliette loves Nate.
She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight
attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.
The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing.
Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend.
And she’ll make sure no one stops her from
getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…


The course of true love never ran smoothly, but the (flight) path of this novel is as twisty and skilful as any you’ve read this year. I guarantee that you’ll need to strap yourself in and get ready for an unforgettable read once you’ve checked in with Karen Hamilton for her debut novel…

If you love an unforgettable narrator who will really get under your skin and whose voice will stay with you for a long time after you’ve ‘safely landed’ after reading then look no further. Once you’ve boarded this novel, you won’t want the journey to end.



Juliette – or Lily as Nate knew her when they were involved – is the kind of narrator that really comes alive for you as you read. In her relationship with handsome pilot Nate, she  explains how she did her very damndest to be indispensable. Whatever Nate wanted, Juliette obliged. She was a Stepford Wife in the making providing gourmet meals, fabulous dinner parties and being a scintillating and enthusiastic companion in all his hobbies to boot.

The prologue – set back in 2000 – really sets the scene and allows us to see glimpses of a much younger Juliette/ Lily. The earlier scenes allow us an insight into the way she thinks and paves the way for us to see how the novel unfolds.


After all of her efforts, it’s not hard to see exactly why Juliette is so aggrieved to be shunted off to a rented flat miles away, paid for as a ‘parting gift’ now that Nate has decided that she hasn’t quite made the grade and has moved on without her.

Juliette’s decision to ‘seize the day’ rather than take things lying down and retrain as an air hostess for Nate’s airline is just the start of the adventures and believe me, there’s never a dull moment in this book! Juliette is a fantastic character, she’s totally lacking moral scruples but all the better a character for it! It’s hard to believe that this is Karen Hamilton’s debut novel as it’s such a great read. The plot zips along at a cracking pace and the dark humour here makes you – if not quite admire Juliette – certainly be impressed at her imagination as she seeks a way to make sure that she gets what she wants!

hand-airplane-air-lin-love-windowI’m no fan of books being painted as ‘The next…’ and we’re all sick I’m sure, of seeing books compared with The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl. This definitely isn’t ‘The Girl in The Skies’ – it’s not trying to be anything else, it’s perfectly happy being its own dark delicious self.  I’d actually love to see it on screen and will be dragging people along with me to see Juliette in the flesh! If you like your heroines flawed, gutsy and full of drive, then you’re going to LOVE Juliette. Her endless resourcefulness and limitless imagination will certainly keep you entertained as you make your way through this novel – all too quickly, I might add as I could have certainly stayed on board with Juliette for the long haul!

Juliette’s character has stayed with me and I can’t wait for more people to read The Perfect Girlfriend so that I can chat about that ENDING with them. You know that I hate spoilers so I’ve tried hard to avoid mentioning exactly how this charming sociopath goes about winning Nate back – but suffice to say, there’s never a dull moment as Juliette’s motto might be ‘The sky’s the limit’ when it comes to getting back your man.


Thanks so much to Anne Cater for sending me this book to review for the blog tour – I absolutely love taking part in Anne’s tours and look forward to seeing what she thinks of the books too. If you haven’t read her review you can find it here

The other thing I have to point out here is how GORGEOUS the blog tour poster is – complete with our own fabulous wee aeroplanes highlighting our stops on the tour


Here are some of the verdicts from some of my favourite writers – you can see how excited they are about The Perfect Girlfriend and I can only say they’re absolutely right!






Writer on the Shelf:

I caught the travel bug after an early childhood spent abroad (Angola, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy) and have worked as cabin crew for a major airline. In 2006, my husband and I put down roots in Hampshire and four years ago, I gave up flying to raise our three sons and concentrate on my writing. Now that they are a little older, I’ve begun travelling again (as and when it’s possible) and enjoy exploring places through their fresh eyes.

The Perfect Girlfriend is my first novel (due Spring 2018). It is a psychological thriller about a sociopathic flight attendant, Juliette Price. The book is rooted in my work experience, but not autobiographical! I realised early on in my flying career, that the moment I changed out of uniform, I became anonymous. It made me think about the identities behind uniforms and work personas and became an idea that would later help create my protagonist.

When Juliette is dumped by her pilot boyfriend, Nate, her dreams of a ‘happy ever after’ are thrown into jeopardy. She vows to win him back, whatever it takes. She surreptitiously embeds herself into his life by adopting a new persona and securing a position as a flight attendant with the same airline. However, these are only the first steps in her master plan as she reveals just how far one woman will go to achieve her dreams.

Treat yourself to a copy of The Perfect Girlfriend



Karen Hamilton’s website

Karen Hamilton on Twitter

The Betrayal Blog Tour

Treachery and theft lead to death – and love


1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…
1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.
1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.
2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona, buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir.

Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…
Searching for the rightful owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?
Who betrayed Leo?
Who knew about the stolen Renoir?
And are they prepared to kill – again?

The Betrayal is the sixth novel by Anne Allen in her series set on beautiful Guernsey. If you haven’t indulged yourself by immersing yourself into her world yet, then what are you waiting for? Even though this was the first one that I’d read, it stood up well as a stand-alone piece but I enjoyed it so much, it’s left me keen to explore the other five as soon as I can.

The only novel I’d previously read that gave me insight into the occupation of the Channel Islands was the fantastic Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society


This prior understanding of the Nazi occupation helped me immerse myself in the second part of the novel’s dual narrative, and I soon found myself lost in this book which I read all in one go. Dual narrative novels are a great favourite of mine but sometimes I can fall into the trap of enjoying one story much more than the other and flipping forward impatiently to “get back” to the more interesting narrative. I can honestly say that The Betrayal felt well- balanced on tbevejoke with the two different time periods both having sufficient charm and “draw” to allow me to move between them effortlessly.

Fiona was my favourite character and I loved the way that her quest drew me in. Who hasn’t yearned to start up a small shop filled with things they love? Fiona’s story with all the ensuing mystery over the hidden stash of Isi tings really captured my imagination and I found myself daydreaming about finding a lost Dickens manuscript and what I’d do if my daydream of opening my very own beautiful wee bookshop ever came true…

I’ve never been to the Channel Islands but The Betrayal was certainly a real temptation to me in drawing me there if I ever get the chance. Both time periods use the dramatic setting to great effect and it was my ability to be transported there through the skill of Anne Allen’s writing that made me wish that I could see these beautiful islands for myself and walk in Theresa and Fiona’s footsteps.

The Betrayal will be enjoyed by lovers of both historical fiction and romance who enjoy being immersed in a good story with characters that you can imagine yourself meeting and interacting with. I found Fiona’s narrative hen more compelling but I was totally engrossed in Theresa’s wartime narrative and broken hearted over what she and many others like her had to endure during this bleak time in history. I love novels that you finish knowing more about a period than you did before reading them, and this is certainly the case with The Betrayal. I enjoyed this book a lot and will certainly be recommending her to my mum who certainly enjoys a period romance and who I think will definitely become a firm fan of Anne Allen and her Guernsey novels.


Writer On The Shelf



Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.

By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, six having been published and the seventh, The Inheritance, is due out in 2018.

Social Media Links – Website:


Great news if you fancy reading Anne’s back catalogue:


A Triple Celebration and a Price Reduction!

For this week only, until 18th February, the price of books 2-6 of The Guernsey Novels is only £1.99, with book 1, ‘Dangerous Waters, remaining at 99p

This is in celebration of Anne Allen’s birthday, the 6th anniversary of the publication of ‘Dangerous Waters’ and the recent publication of book 6, ‘The Betrayal’.

Check out the other bloggers on The Betrayal Blog Tour this week and keep your eyes peeled for news of the fabulous Giveaway of a signed copy


Thank you so much to Rachel for inviting me on the Blog Tour and introducing me to the Guernsey series. I can’t wait to read the rest now

Home – Blog Tour

Home Blog Tour BannerJesika is four and a half.

She lives in a flat with her mother and baby brother and she knows a lot. She knows their flat is high up and the stairs are smelly. She knows she shouldn’t draw on the peeling wallpaper or touch the broken window. And she knows she loves her mummy and baby brother Toby.

She does not know that their landlord is threatening to evict them and that Toby’s cough is going to get much worse. Or that Paige, her new best friend, has a secret that will explode their world.

Heart-stopping. A need to read novel.” Kit de Waal, author of My Name is Leon

A brave, important, heart-breaking book.” Emma Flint, author of Little Deaths


As soon as I saw Home on the Penguin Books’ Facebook page, I was desperate to read it. It’s one of those books that presents you with such a perfectly-realised world view that you literally feel like you’re coming up for air when you have to take a moment away from it.

If you’ve read one of my reviews before, you’ll know that I absolutely detest spoilers so I’m going to try – as one of the very first stops on this tour – to avoid them so that you too can have the unblemished experience of ‘meeting’  Jesika for yourself.

I first saw Home on the Penguin Books Facebook page which made me desperate to read it. How gorgeous was the photo that they added to illustrate their post?


Amanda Berriman might be a debut author, but you’d never imagine this from reading Home.  The clarity of voice that Jesika has rings out from every page and – this is the best of all possible book compliments – you actually forget that she is a created character in a novel and feel that she is there speaking to you and asking you to see her world as she sees it.

Most people might be put off by the fact that their narrator is 4 years old – with the obvious limitations that this causes in terms of comprehending what is going on around her and happening to her. I would say that its very restriction is Home’s very strength. It’s like bending down to hear a child speak and just for that moment the child and what they are saying to you becomes everything.  Jesika’s voice achieves this for the reader for by narrowing our gaze to hers, we very successfully experience her world as she sees it and feel what she is feeling in a profoundly affecting way.

Home Cover


Jesika’s world is the world that we know is there,  but would rather not think about. Today it seems like it’s much easier to make documentaries about sink estates and call it ‘Feral kids go wild’ or something equally damning rather than attempt to see what these children are experiencing from their perspective.  Maybe the truth is that sometimes it’s just too difficult. Reading Home felt at times like being dropped into the world we were exposed to in I, Daniel Blake and seeing it from a toddler’s-eye-view. There is something even more horrifying, perhaps in seeing this world through the eyes of an innocent who has no idea that her audience see what she doesn’t and fully realises that not all childhoods need to be like this.

Berriman’s skill as a writer means that our immersion into Jesika’s world is seamless. I have heard several comparisons with Room and I agree that the worlds are equally fully realised but in Home the claustrophobia you feel is not merely physically limited – here in Home  the characters are trapped in one place by circumstances and the ‘baddie’ is a little harder to contemplate as what is trapping Jesika and her mum in their lives is the society we have contributed in creating.

I absolutely loved Home and was devastated to close the final page. For the entire day that I was reading Home, I felt that whole experience of ‘doublethink’ where you are at once immersed in a character’s world and at the same time able to see things that they can’t and want to be able to reach into the pages and steer them through – whilst understanding that you simply can’t. This book does contain themes that some readers might find upsetting and although they are dealt with in a subtle and dignified way, the subject of child abuse is a red flag for some readers who should be warned that this novel might be very challenging indeed for them.


I’d like to thank the very lovely  Anne Cater for inviting me to kick off this blog tour alongside her and I definitely recommend that you go and check out her #MyLifeInBooks post with Amanda Berriman right after you read this blogpost. It’s ace.

If you get the chance, you should also also  take a moment to check out her reading tips in The Daily Express,  as she unfailingly recommends a right good read!



If you enjoyed this post, please look out for my fellow bloggers’ Blog Tour stops over the next 10 days, I can’t wait to see what they think

Home Blog Tour Banner

If you liked the sound of Home, click here and you can order yourself a copy – and if you liked it, you could drop a review on Amazon, Goodreads or anywhere else that might help a debut author get some exposure – it really does make the difference!

Order Home here – out Feb 8th


Amanda Berriman

Amanda Berriman was born in Germany and grew up in Edinburgh, reading books, playing music, writing stories and climbing hills.
She works as a primary school teacher and lives on the edge of the Peak District with her husband, two children and dog.
Follow Amanda on Twitter at @MandyBerriman

Beautiful Star Blog Tour


History is brought alive by the people it affects, rather than those who created it. In Beautiful Star, we meet Eilmer, a monk in 1010 with Icarus-like dreams; Charles I, hiding in 1651, and befriended by a small boy; the trial of Jane Wenham, witch of Walkern, seen through the eyes of her granddaughter. This is a moving and affecting journey through time, bringing a new perspective to the defence of Corfe Castle, the battle of Waterloo, the siege of Toulon and, in the title story, the devastating dangers of the life of the sea in 1875.

Being married to a History teacher, I am well used to moments from the past taking me by surprise and allowing me to see things through new eyes as I look back at events unfolding. Andrew Swanson’s Beautiful Star was a fabulous read that allowed me to dip in and out of the past and experience those moments of connection with another time, place and person that we can experience through the very best historical writing. I loved the eclectic range of stories and voices here and warmly recommend it to readers who love a book that completely transports them to a different time and allows you to think about our connections to the past, even as we are experiencing our distance from it.

The range of characters and settings is wonderful in Beautiful Star: you’ll find yourself transported from the battlefields of Waterloo to a small village in coastal Fife and meeting people all across the social spectrum from a young drummer boy to the king himself. My absolute favourite was the story of Lady Mary Bankes, who bravely protected her beloved Corfe Castle when it was besieged by Roundheads and I will definitely be using this one in class when we look at heroes and bravery,  This story was definitely one I’d  never heard of, and as usual for me I was straight online, researching her story and making plans to visit beautiful Corfe Castle for myself


Lady Mary’s story

I loved the way that Bright Star felt like a treasure trove of ‘found’ stories that you could dip into and experience a spot of time travel for yourself. I love immersing myself in historical fiction and often feel that sense of ‘the bends’ when I finish a novel set in another time and have to return to the present day. If I had to use the time travel analogy for this book, I’d say that these stories are like time travelling ‘mini breaks’ in that they transport you utterly back into their time and then bring you safely home afterwards with lots to think about after all you’ve seen and heard.

This is the first book that I’ve read by Andrew Swanston and I will definitely look out for his other books now as his writing is fantastic at evoking a ‘voice’ and I found myself totally immersed in the details of the Scottish story in the collection: Beautiful Star. His research is absolutely meticulous and it is fascinating to find out tiny details about the past from his writing. The eponymous tale describes an 1875 event where a small fishing community in Fife community is devastated by a disastrous storm that swoops in on its fishing fleet. Swanston isn’t merely interested in the huge ramifications of this awful disaster, he allows us a real insight into the villagers’ routines and lives that really does feel like time travel. It really brings them to life and makes the impact of their loss all the more devastating. It really reminds me of the song Cargill by King Creosote from their album From Scotland with Love – definitely worth a listen if you are unfamiliar with it.

Bored yet busy with my hands
Cargill, you’ll have me round the bend
Cargill, you’re pulling all the strands
Of my heartstrings entangled in your net

My luck’s turned thrawn
Always the quayside chores
A sister on each arm
Strong of shoulder weak at the knees
Cargill, I’m the finest catch that you’ll land

Cargill do not presume to understand
The dread of counting home the fleet
The sudden thrill of seeing you’re safely back
Your catch has fallen at your feet

Cargill do not presume to understand
The dread of sounding the alarm
The sudden thrill of seeing you’re safely back
Cargill, I’m the finest luck that you’ll charm

Cargill do not presume to understand
The dread of counting home the fleet
The sudden thrill of seeing you’re safely back
Cargill, I’m the finest catch that you’ll land
Cargill, I’m the finest luck that you’ll charm
Cargill, I’m the finest catch that you’ll land


There really is something in this collection for everyone.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and have passed it onto my famously intolerant of fiction husband who is absolutely loving it. Thanks so much to Emily from @DomePress for inviting me to take part and being so lovely when I was involved in a terrible car accident a few weeks ago. It really does go to prove my theory – that Book people are the best people.



Writer on the Shelf


Andrew read a little law and a lot of sport at Cambridge University, and held various positions in the book trade, including being a director of Waterstone & Co and Chairman of Methven’s plc, before turning to writing.  Inspired by a lifelong interest in early modern history, his Thomas Hill novels are set during the English Civil War and the early period of the Restoration.  Andrew’s novel Incendium was published in February 2017 and is the first of two thrillers featuring Dr. Christopher Radcliff, an intelligencer for the Earl of Leicester, and is set in 1572 at the time of the massacre of the Huguenots in France.

Follow him on Twitter here

Buy yourself a copy of Beautiful Star here