The Brontë Sisters: Life, Loss And Literature by Catherine Rayner

Paperback Published: 28 Feb 2018




Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall…these fictional masterpieces are all recognised as landmarks of English Literature. Still inspirational and challenging to readers today, upon release in the mid-nineteenth century they caused a veritable sensation, chiefly due to their subject matter and unconventional styles. But the greatest sensation of all came when these books were revealed to be the creations of women.
This is the story of those women and of the forces that shaped them into trailblazing writers.

From early childhood, literature and the world of books held the attention and sparked the fertile imaginations of the emotionally intense and fascinating Bronte siblings. Beset by tragedy, three outlets existed for their grief and their creative talents; they escaped into books, into the wild moorlands surrounding their home and into their own rich inner lives and an intricate play-world born of their collective imaginations.

In this new study, Catherine Rayner offers a full and fascinating exploration of the formative years of these bright children, taking us on a journey from their earliest years to their tragically early deaths. The Bronte girls grew into women who were unafraid to write themselves into territories previously only visited by male authors. In addition, they tackled all the taboo subjects of their time; divorce, child abuse, bigamy, domestic violence, class, female depression and mental illness. Nothing was beyond their scope and it is especially for this ability and determination to speak for women, the marginalised and the disadvantaged that they are remembered and celebrated today, two hundred years after their births in the quiet Yorkshire village of Haworth.

This timely release offers a fresh perspective on a fascinating family and a unique trio of talented and trailblazing sisters whose books will doubtless continue to haunt and inspire for generations to come.


Catherine Rayner sets before us the cultural, societal and family background which gave birth to three writing sisters. She looks at each and considers how they helped shape the lives and minds of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë and how they helped shape their writing which in turn reflected their lives and thinking.

The hardship of life in the times to which they were born may only have touched them indirectly here and there but the hierarchy of society was felt directly, especially as women, this and the heartbreak of loss suffered throughout their relatively short lives was so strongly imprinted in them that it could not but influence their writing.  Catherine Rayner explores how this manifests in their youth and as adults.

I would say that the author goes into a fair bit of detail when considering the writing of the sisters so, if you haven’t read one of their books, perhaps skip that section until you do.

Much has been written about the Brontë sisters, indeed the family, and this will be a fine addition to them.

Rating: 3*

With thanks to Pen and Sword Ltd via NetGalley for an eARC of this book in return for an honest opinion.


Publisher:     Pen and Sword Ltd


Paperback Published:       28th February 2018

Social History / Women of History
Imprint:                               Pen & Sword History
Series:                                  Trailblazing Women
Pages:                                   256
ISBN:                                    9781526703125

Author:                               Catherine Rayner is a Life Member of The Bronte Society, a Trustee on the Council of the Bronte Society and the Chair of its Conference and Publications Committee. She studied at Hull and Leeds Universities and has degrees in English and Philosophy with Social History, Health and Social Care, and an MA in Victorian Literature. She has studied and researched the lives of the Brontë family for over forty years, and has previously written two theses on Emily Brontë, as well as various articles. Alongside this, she is a qualified nurse and has studied the effects of childhood on the development and psychology of adults.

Trolls Blog Tour 2018: Jan 22 – Feb 4 Here Come The Trolls and Day of the Trolls by Ron Butlin, Illd. by James Hutcheson

‘OUT NOW’ – FREE download with each book!


I was delighted to be part of this delightful book tour with thanks to Kelly @lovebooksgroup who has organised it and from whom I received these two scrumptious books, full of comic verse all about those mischievous TROLLS!


Here Come the Trolls

Aimed at 3-7 year olds I can see that this humorous, rhythmical verse, story ‘Here Come The Trolls’ will cause many a giggle amongst the youngsters who should really be 3-70 year olds because its audience is also those who read to children.

A fun, well illustrated book that will appeal to all who are fed-up with having their home over-run by those pesky TROLLS!

Buy from Birlinn direct

Buy from Amazon


Here Come The Trolls was published 15 Oct 2015 by Birlinn Ltd


The Day of the Trolls

And the second book is out now!

Yes! Ron Butlin and James Hutcheson have collaborated once again.

The return of those pesky little creatures, that no-one wants around, are now causing havoc in the local mall…….

will they get their just desserts? ……

you know there’s only one way to find out….


get your copy and read the second wonderfully funny instalment all about those pesky little…..


Pre order from Birlinn Ltd

Pre order from Amazon



‘Day of The Trolls’ is published on 4 August 2017 by Birlinn Ltd

Free Downloads

When you purchase these gems you will find information inside the back cover on how to download a free audio of each book – isn’t that terrific!


Would you like to read the rest of the tour?




Ron Butlin is an award-winning poet, playwright, novelist, short story writer chidlren’s author and librettist whose works have been translated into many languages. He regularly gives creative writing workshops in schools, and was Edinburgh Makar from 2008 to 2014. Follow @RonButlinMaker

James Hutcheson is an award winning illustrator and book designer. Follow @SKARPHEDON

Publisher: Birlinn Ltd.,


A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind by Shoukei Matsumoto

Bestseller in Japan and Europe



Cleanliness is next to enlightenment. In this Japanese bestseller a Buddhist monk explains the traditional meditative techniques that will help cleanse not only your house – but your soul. Live clean. Feel calm. Be happy. We remove dust to sweep away our worldly cares. We live simply and take time to contemplate the self, mindfully living each moment. It’s not just monks that need to live this way. Everyone in today’s busy world needs it. In Japan, cleanliness is next to enlightenment. This bestselling guide by a Zen Buddhist monk draws on ancient traditions to show you how a few simple changes to your daily habits – from your early morning routine to preparing food, from respecting the objects around you to working together as a team – will not only make your home calmer and cleaner, but will leave you feeling refreshed, happier and more fulfilled.

In this book, a bestseller in Japan and Europe, Shoukei Matsumoto offers up the cleaning practices of Buddhist monks, to help us all live simply and mindfully in each moment.

My Thoughts

A small insight into what it is like to be a Buddhist monk, what their days consist of and how their way of life, their mindset, could help the rest of us appreciate all that we have – yes, ‘things’ – but especially our family, friends, colleagues and, indeed, others in our communities. Through treating our belongings properly, cleaning etc., we will improve our relationships with those we love and those we are not so close to and more importantly, perhaps, with ourselves.

What a charming, gem of a little book. Read your way through this Buddhist monks reasons for why cleaning helps unclutter the mind and body, why it is important to living a simple and contented, happy life and get a few cleaning/life tips along the way.

Thanks to Penguin via NetGalley for this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3.5*


Publisher:   Penguin Books UK

Published:   4 Jan 2018

EDITION:     Paperback
ISBN:            9781846149696


Author: Shoukei Matsumoto is a Buddhist monk at the Komyoji Temple in Tokyo, Japan. Since entering the Temple in 2003, his days begin with cleaning. Cleaning is greatly valued in Japanese Buddhism as a way to cultivate the mind.

THE FEED by Nick Clark Windo

Coming 25 Jan 2018


The Blurb

Tom and Kate’s daughter turns six tomorrow, and they have to tell her about sleep.
If you sleep unwatched, you could be Taken. If you are Taken, then watching won’t save you.
Nothing saves you.

Your knowledge. Your memories. Your dreams.
If all you are is on the Feed, what will you become when the Feed goes down?

For Tom and Kate, in the six years since the world collapsed, every day has been a fight for survival. And when their daughter, Bea, goes missing, they will question whether they can even trust each other anymore.

The threat is closer than they realise…


The Musings

As you know I attended the the Headline New Voices 2018 event in Manchester this month and The Feed by Nick Clark Windo is the first of the five to be published. With thanks to Headline for my copy.


We open in a restaurant, Kate and Tom waiting to be served. It’s an evening off, together in the quiet just the two of them without The Feed. As they wait, impatiently, they talk  – Kate pops back onto The Feed even though they are supposed to be being slow tonight and Tom notices, he is annoyed. They begin to argue, maybe change slow night to tomorrow and then it happens. The President has been assassinated, killed, they are told: GO HOME.

Six years later…… we read what happened on that fateful night and how it has been since then – the devastation, the loss, the fear. With just, perhaps, a little glimmer of hope.

The Feed is a novel which has taken our modern day need for connections to the next stage – literal connection to communication, information, each other – and then suddenly all of it is taken away.

Nick Clark Windo takes us to a time when all that Kate and Tom have come to know is gone and they don’t know why or by whom, or what, and their world is plunged into a fearsome place – their ability to survive dependent on information they can no longer access, having to learn anew with the knowledge that if they sleep without being watched they will be taken. And into this world has come Bea, their daughter, who knows nothing of what life used to be, who seems wise beyond her years whom they love and would do anything for, to protect. Then one night just as she turns six something happens and their world turns upside down, again.

This is a fascinating, thought provoking story which carries you along it’s twists and turns sometimes racing, sometimes holding your breath along with Kate and Tom as they lose everything, survive and then lose everything that matters – and we ride along – will they be able to survive again? Will they find out what has happened to their world, to their family, to them? And if they do what will it mean, will it matter? A convincing, believable story giving us a disturbing look into the future that keeps you wondering and grips you





Although not the type of book I prefer, I liked it!

The Rating: 4*

The Information

ISBN:                       Hardback – 9781472241900  eBook – 9781472241887

Publication date:  25 Jan 2018

Page count:            368



The Author:           Nick Clark Windo studied English Literature at Cambridge University and acting at RADA. He was a student on the Faber Academy Writing a Novel course. As well as writing, he works as a film producer and communications coach. He lives in London with his wife and daughter. The Feed is his first novel.  Follow: @NICKHDCLARK

Why We Sleep, Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker


Now out in Paperback

Book Blurb

Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, health and longevity and yet it is increasingly neglected in twenty-first-century society, with devastating consequences: every major disease in the developed world – Alzheimer’s, cancer, obesity, diabetes – has very strong causal links to deficient sleep.

Until very recently, science had no answer to the question of why we sleep, or what good it served, or why its absence is so damaging to our health. Compared to the other basic drives in life – eating, drinking, and reproducing – the purpose of sleep remained elusive.

Now, in this book, the first of its kind written by a scientific expert, Professor Matthew Walker explores twenty years of cutting-edge research to solve the mystery of why sleep matters. Looking at creatures from across the animal kingdom as well as major human studies, Why We Sleep delves in to everything from what really happens during REM sleep to how caffeine and alcohol affect sleep and why our sleep patterns change across a lifetime, transforming our appreciation of the extraordinary phenomenon that safeguards our existence.

My Thoughts

Fascinating and well worth taking the time to read about how important sleep is to be a healthy being. It is an excellent measure of where you are with regards to understanding  how Sleep affects your body and mind, why bringing sleep back into your health regime should be a major priority and, basically, are you getting enough sleep? If not then adjust your life to make it so.

Employers: take heed – don’t infringe on workers free time, give them time to unwind and sleep – your workers will be healthier, your business will be the better.

Makes you wonder about those who work in areas where they can be up for long periods with no sleep – medical professionals, armed forces, etc. – especially around decision-making!

Read how sleep relates to Alzheimer’s, cancer, general good health.

Yes, this does get a bit ‘technical’ but Matthew Walker does explain and gives some great, although occasionally not very nice, examples to help the reader to understand. In the end the message is pretty simple and one well worth taking on board.

So read the book and for a healthier life make time for sleep.

With thanks to the publisher, Penguin, via NetGalley for a copy in return for an honest review.

Rating: 3.5/4


Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Penguin (4 Jan. 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0141983760
ISBN-13: 978-0141983769


‘Vital … a life-raft’ Guardian ‘

‘A top sleep scientist argues that sleep is more important for our health than diet or exercise’ The Times

‘It had a powerful effect on me’ Observer

‘I urge you all to read this book’ Times Higher Education



Event: Headline New Voices 2018, Manchester

How wonderful to have a book event in Manchester and better yet an invitation from Headline to attend


An event to celebrate the launch Headlines New Voices 2018. Down in the bowls of Lock 91 we gathered. Writers, publishers, booksellers, bloggers – book folk gathering to talk about books specifically five new books arriving in 2018 – we were were generously given food, drink and five book proofs. On a night many would prefer to be tucked up at home we had gathered not only from Manchester but several had travelled from further afield and, of course, our five writers and publishing team had travelled from London via Edinburgh to Manchester.

The books.


The Feed by Nick Clark Windo – ‘a gripping post-apocalyptic thriller for fans of The Girl with All the Gifts and Station Eleven, that asks: What would you sacrifice to save the world?’ Will be published in hardback and ebook on 25 January 2018. #NEEDTHEFEED


The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton – ‘a frightening depiction of unbridled obsession, where love and pure hatred grapple on a knife edge…. The story of one woman’s terrifying mission to take back what is hers, no matter the cost.’ Will be published in hardback and ebook on 8 March 2018. #LOVEYOUTODEATH


The Wolf by Leo Carew – ‘is a thrilling, savagely visceral, politically nuanced and unexpectedly wry exploration of power and identity – and how far one will go to defend them. The first in his Under the Northern Sky series.’ Will be published in hardback and ebook on 5 April 2018. #UNDERTHENORTHERNSKY


In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunarante – ‘Provocative, raw, poetic yet tender….  A vivid and deeply affecting account of city life, the novel follows three young men on a London council estate over 48 hours when suddenly everything is at stake.’ Will be published in hardback and ebook on 3 May 2018. #MADANDFURIOUS


The Tall Man by Pheobe Locke – ‘Introducing her dark and chilling crime-thriller….. it is an unforgettable blend of spine-tingling chills and paranormal suspense which will leave you checking the corners of your bedroom at night….. addictive blend of dark psychological suspense and spine-tingling chills, …. set to be the thriller of the summer.’ Will be published in hardback and ebook 14 June 2018. #THETALLMAN

The Authors

Here they are: Leo Carew, Nick Clark Windo (back row) and Karen Hamilton, Pheobe Locke and Guy Gunarante (front row).


Their books can be pre-ordered, which is a great thing to do. So if you think that one, or more, or all might be up your reading alley go to your favourite bookseller and give New Voices 2018 a warm welcome.

With thanks to Headline Publishing and their wonderful team for bringing this event out ‘to the sticks’ and for the invite – it was a terrific evening.


Dark Game by Rachel Lynch

OUT: 29 Jan 2018




Kelly’s gut turned over as she realised the danger she was in. She heard no sirens. She knew that she was simply collateral. To these men who made a lot of money from the suffering of others, they’d have no problem snuffing her out.

After a scandal forces DI Kelly Porter out of the Met, she returns to her home turf in the Lake District. Crimes in the Cumbrian constabulary tend to be of the minor sort, but Kelly begins work on a cold case that shocked the local community – the abduction and brutal murder of ten-year-old Lottie Davies.

Meanwhile, Kelly is also investigating two seemingly straightforward crimes: a case involving an illegal immigrant, and a robbery following the death of local businessman Colin Day. But evidence comes to light that reveals a web of criminal activity beyond anything Kelly imagined. Behind the veneer of sleepy, touristy towns lies a dark and dangerous underworld. As Kelly threatens to expose those with much to lose, she risks paying the ultimate price to get to the truth…


This is a terrific first in a series of at least four books, see information below, and Rachel Lynch’s second book to be published.

It is a gritty police procedure, well written, structured and very believable. Rachel Lynch brings together three threads from the seedy underbelly of a Cumbria she describes with a certainty which comes from knowing the area so well and builds up the tension to deliver a book which is a gripping read right to the end.

With thanks to Canelo via NetGalley for providing me with an eARC in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5*


ISBN 9781788630153

Format: Kindle Edition – currently £1.99 on pre-order at Amazon: PRE-ORDER DARK GAME by Rachel Lynch
File Size: 700.0 KB
Print Length: 305 pages
Publisher: Canelo (29 Jan. 2018)

Canelo was founded in 2015. In addition to the main Canelo list, it also incorporates the Frisch & Co and Abandoned Bookshop imprints.

Meet the Author:


Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria, studied History at the University of Lancaster and gained her Post graduate Certificate of Education at the Institute of Education, London.She then worked as a History Teacher in London before marrying an Army Officer in 2001. ‘The Dependants’ was her first novel. She is now represented by Peter Buckman, the Ampersand Agency and published by Canelo. Dark Game is the first book in her DI Kelly Porter series. Canelo signed the first three books in the DI Kelly Porter series and Rachel is currently writing the fourth.