Archive for July, 2016

Burned and Broken

Author: Mark Hardie
Published:23 June 2016
Reviewed: 30 July 2016 
4 out of 5 Stars
Copy supplied by Little, Brown Book Group / Sphere in return for an honest review

An enigmatic policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found burned to death in his car on the Southend sea front.

A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.

As DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell from the Essex Police Major Investigation Team are brought in to solve the mystery that surrounds their colleague’s death, they’re under intense pressure to crack the case without damaging the force’s reputation. 

When a dramatic turn of events casts a whole new light on both cases, the way forward is far from clear. Were the victims connected in some way? And just how much should Pearson and Russell reveal to their bosses as they begin to unearth some dark secrets that the force would rather keep buried?

My Thoughts & Review:

The book opens with the horrific scene of DI Sean Carragher burning to death  in his car.  The discovery of his unrecognisable body in the burnt out vehicle sparks an investigation by DS Frank Pearson and the Essex Police Major Investigation Team.  As far as openings go, this is a pretty powerful one, it immediately grabs the reader’s attention.

The narrative jumps back four days, the author recounts the events leading up to the investigation of DI Carragher’s death.  During these four days the reader is introduced to Donna Freeman, a sixteen year old in her first year out of care.  Donna is convinced that her friend Alicia has been murdered and continuously tries to get someone to listen to her that it was not an accident.  We also discover that DI Carragher was being investigated by Professional Standards for suspected corruption, witness intimidation and assault to name but a few, and that there are no shortage of suspects connected with his death.

In amongst the sprawling investigation, DS Frank Pearson has his own troubles, in poor health and undergoing tests for suspected pancreatic cancer and estranged from his wife.  DC Catherine (Cat) Russell finds the reach of the Professional Standards investigation into her former partner (DI Carragher) is coming too close to home, falling under suspicion by association, she desperately wants to protect Sean Carragher, but remaining loyal will mean telling lies for him.  
The death of one of their own sees the Police throwing resources at this case to solve it quickly, but that also means there are many pair of eyes watching the investigation, ones that will not approve of the discoveries made by Pearson and Russell.  

This is a very cleverly written thriller, with layer upon layer of detail. The use of different perspectives for narration gives the reader a good insight into the Police investigation as well as the life of Donna in care.  
The novel is split into three distinct parts, and this is a very effective technique for setting out the story, indeed this would also make this an idea book to transfer to screen. 
Well paced plot, with brilliant little details added for that extra something special.  The characters are well crafted, realistic and credible.  The location used is a welcome change from the normal big cities, so thank you Mr Hardie, you’ve broken away from the “norm” and given the reader what we’ve been screaming out for.   

A very impressive début novel and one I would have no hesitation to recommend.

You can buy a copy of Burned and Broken here.

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The Eyes of The Accused 

Author: Mark Tilbury
Published: 15 April 2016
Reviewed: 29 July 2016
4.5 out of 5 Stars
I received a copy of this book from Booklover Catlady Publicity in return for a fair and honest review


The second in The Ben Whittle Investigation series of psychological thrillers with occasional flashes of dark humour. Best enjoyed after reading The Revelation Room.

Fresh from the horrors of the Revelation Room, private investigators Ben and Maddie are plunged into a disturbing world of terror as they search for missing pregnant girl, Hannah Heath. Drawn to Frank Crowley, an original suspect in Hannah’s disappearance, Maddie is about to learn the true meaning of evil. As she gets close to Crowley, in an effort to get him to open up, she soon learns all is not what it seems. Crowley is just a small part of something unimaginable. Something so terrible and deranged, it defies reason. After Maddie disappears, Ben is left in a desperate race against time to find her and uncover the truth.

My Thoughts & Review:
This is the second book in the Ben Whittle series, and I would thoroughly recommend checking out the first book The Revelation Room.  However, this book can be read as a standalone, there are details that link back to the first book but nothing that would impact on this story and leave you feeling like you’ve missed something.
Ben Whittle and Maddie White are Private Investigators working for Ben’s father who owns the Private Investigation company.  Having been hired to find a missing woman named Hannah, who happens to be pregnant and due to give birth soon they embark upon an investigation that will prove to be dangerous for all involved, and when Maddie goes missing Ben knows he must do everything he can to find both women before it’s too late. 
From the very first chapter the reader is hooked, the intensity of the terror and writing style really grab your attention and ensure you are sucked in for the duration of the story.  The narration from Hannah is exceptionally well written, dark and intense, her desperation really comes through, it’s hard not to feel some horror at how she’s been kept.  
The storyline well paced, I felt that it kept my attention throughout, combined with fantastic characters I really struggled to put this one down at bedtime!  The dark humour interjected into this was a thing of greatness, Mark Tilbury shows a brilliant sense of humour through his writing, it adds an extra something to his characters and really brings them alive.
I will definitely be looking out for more from this author, his writing style really appeals to me, the characters are great and I cannot wait to see where he takes them next.
Many thanks to Booklover Catlady Publicity for this cracking read!
You can buy a copy of Eyes of the Accused here 

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Author: A.L. Bird
Published: 4 April 2016
Reviewed: 29 July 2016
4 out of 5 Stars
 Copy supplied by Carina UK in return for an honest review


The greatest bond. The darkest betrayal.

Susan wakes up alone in a room she doesn’t recognise, with no memory of how she got there. She only knows that she is trapped, and her daughter is missing.

The relief that engulfs her when she hears her daughter’s voice through the wall is quickly replaced by fear, knowing that whoever has imprisoned her has her daughter, too.

Devising a plan to keep her daughter safe, Susan begins to get closer to her unknown captor. And suddenly, she realises that she has met him before. 

My Thoughts & Review:

Thrown straight into the confusion felt by one of the main characters Susan, the reader is catapulted into the action.  Susan wakes up in a strange room, in a strange house and instantly I was hooked.  Her fear and confusion were palpable, her desperation to find out where her daughter was and if she was ok was almost painful to read.  Bird conveys Susan’s emotions and fears brilliantly, the reader can feel the tension and experiences the turmoil Susan endures.

Unfortunately, the plot and the gripping twists make this a very difficult review to write, it is extremely hard not to give any little clues away.  This is quite a dark story, very cleverly written and twisted beyond what you could imagine.  It’s the sort of story that keeps the reader guessing what will happen next, and once all the clues are revealed you will be in disbelief at what you have just read.

It’s the sort of book that stays with you once you’ve finished it, something about it made me uncomfortable reading it, so much so that my mind would wander back to the scenarios from the book and questioned what would I do in that position.  Something about Bird’s writing really gripped me, her plotting was flawless, the characters were fascinating – narration from not only Susan but also her captor gave a chilling but fascinating insight.  I will admit that this book felt a little too tense at times, there was a point I put it down as it felt claustrophobic, but this just shows the skill in the writing.  It is incredibly powerful when an author can reach the reader through the pages of their book to share the experiences of the characters and the emotions. 

You can buy a copy of The Good Mother here. 

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Then She Was Gone

Author: Luca Veste
Published: 28 July 2016
Reviewed: 28 July 2016 
5 out of 5 Stars
Copy supplied by Simon and Schuster UK Fiction in return for an honest revew


Tim Johnson took his baby daughter out for a walk and she never made it home. Johnson claims he was assaulted and the girl was snatched. The police see a different crime, with Johnson their only suspect. 
A year later, Sam Bryne is on course to be elected as one of the youngest MPs in Westminster. He’s tipped for the very top … until he vanishes.
Detectives Murphy and Rossi are tasked with discovering what has happened to the popular politician – and in doing so, they unearth a trail that stretches into the past, and crimes that someone is hell-bent on avenging.

My Thoughts & Review:

Then She Was Gone is the fourth instalment in the Murphy and Rossi series, a series I might add that is definitely worth following.  If you’ve not read any of the previous books, go seek them out!  This latest book is definitely my favourite of the set so far, and I would admit that you can read it without having read the others but why would you want to restrain yourself?!

The return of Murphy and Rossi sees them investigating the case of the disappearance of popular politician Sam Bryne.  Their strong relationship feels natural and authentic, which makes this even more of a thrill to read.  Character development seems to be given the same attention as plotting in Veste’s books, demonstrating the level of care taken over his work.  The physical settings of the book are also worth noting for this same reason, I don’t think I will see Liverpool in the same light again. 

It is incredibly difficult to write this review without spoilers (but I will desist in adding any because this book deserves your full attention!), suffice to say that Luca Veste weaves a dark and twisted tale, his clever plotting and excellent narrative really pulls the reader in and keeps them hooked, expertly he ties it all together whilst keeping the reader completely in the dark.  
I felt quite pleased that I had worked out the plot at one point, forgetting whose book I was reading, until the master of trickery threw in a twist and I was stumped.  A truly brilliant read, and one I would thoroughly recommend to fans of crime fiction.  

I cannot wait to see where Veste takes Murphy and Rossi next, please get the next book written and published soon!!

You can buy a copy of Then She Was Gone here.

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Shot Through The Heart 

Author: Isabelle Grey
Published: 24 March 2016
Reviewed: 28 July 2016
4 out of 5 Stars
Copy supplied by Quercus Books in return for an honest review


Who can you turn to, if not the police?

Essex, Christmas Day. As the residents of a small town enjoy their mince pies, shots ring out in the street. Five people are gunned down before the lone shooter turns his weapon on himself.

Grace Fisher, now Detective Inspector, is tasked with making some sense of this atrocity – all the more sensitive because the first of the victims was one of their own: a police officer. The case throws her back together with crime reporter Ivo Sweatman, but as she investigates it becomes clear that the police connection goes much deeper than she thought.

As the evidence of corruption grows and she is obstructed at every turn, Grace knows she is walking further into danger. Then, her young key witness disappears…

What far-reaching compromises will Grace have to make to safeguard the innocent? 

My Thoughts & Review:

If you’ve not read Good Girls Don’t Die then I recommend you go off and get a copy to read before reading this book.

Christmas Day in a small town in Essex, families are together, people are happy, friends are merry but for Russell Fewell things are not as they should be.  He is driving his van through the village of Dunholt with presents for his children and a rifle.  
When DI Grace Fisher gets the call there has been a shooting and there are 5 bodies, including the shooter, she knows Christmas is over.  What she has yet to discover is that one of the victims was one of their own, a serving Police Officer.  
As the investigation gets under way, DI Fisher is determined to find out where the gun came from, what motive Fewell had for carrying out this tragedy and not realising that the questions she asks will be uncomfortable for many, uncovering corruption among her fellow officers could be fatal move for her career.

With narration from a variety of perspectives, including a teenage girl who is devastated by the loss of her best friend in this tragedy, the reader is shown a perspective not commonly depicted in this genre.  This contrasts well with the crime journalist Ivo Sweatman, who appeared in the previous book.  His appearance brings a welcome relief for DI Fisher when she needs to find out answers to questions she cannot ask.  

This is a complex but cleverly written book.  The plotting, narration and tension in this book are superb, the author shows great ability to create tension and scenarios that cause the reader to pause and question.  The characters are brilliantly created, so many different layers to each one, and utterly fascinating to read about.  
I did grapple with DI Fisher’s theory about the cause of the shooting, something about it just didn’t “right” with me, but that’s personal preference and no reflection on the author or her work.

Shot Through The Heart would definitely be a book I’d love to see make it on to TV – indeed Isabelle Grey’s background is in television so her writing would lend itself well to this.  

A fascinating read, one that shows the fall out of mass shootings on both the ones who investigate as well as those left behind to pick up the pieces.  A thought provoking read with characters you will want to hear more from.

You can buy a copy of Shot Through The Heart here.

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Last To Die

Author: Arlene Hunt
Published: 24 June 2016
Reviewed: 27 July 2016

3.5 out of 5 Stars

Copy supplied by Bookouture in return for an honest review
He watches. He waits. He kills …

When Jessie Conway survives a horrific mass high school shooting, in the aftermath she finds herself thrust into the media spotlight, drawing all kinds of attention. But some of it is the wrong kind.

Caleb Switch, a sadistic serial killer has been watching her every move. A skilled hunter, he likes his victims to be a challenge to him. Jessie is strong, fearless, a survivor, and now…she is his ultimate prey.

As Caleb picks off his current victims one by one, chasing, killing and butchering them with his crossbow, he’s closing in on Jessie… But will Jessie defy the odds and escape with her life? Or will she be Caleb’s final sacrifice …  

My Thoughts & Review:

Opening with a shooting in a high school this book certainly grabs the reader’s attention.  The female protagonist Jessie Conway, is a special needs teacher at the school in question and following this horrific event, her life is turned upside down.  She is labelled a local hero after her part in saving the lives of those in the school and helping to “take down” the shooters, but the spotlight draws the attention of sadistic serial killer Caleb Switch who has her locked in his sights.

Jessie is an interesting character, she has a past that not even her husband is aware of, and despite her being portrayed as strong minded and very determined, she is troubled and damaged.  Caleb is a dark and twisted character, and I think Hunt has written this character very well.  He displays the characteristics readers have come to expect from psychopathic killers – cold, feels no empathy, ruthless and very scary to name just a few.  In spite of the terrible qualities of Caleb, his is a character that I thoroughly enjoyed reading about, incredibly interesting and I would say well researched.  

Narration from both Jessie and Caleb’s perspectives allows the reader full access to the inner workings of their minds, gives great insight to the depravity of Caleb’s mind when it comes to his victims and hunts.  
The plot flows well for most of the story, but for me there was a lull in the middle slightly, but the final third of the book made up for it.  
As far as psychological thrillers go, I thought it was ok, although it felt more like an action story at times.  
The one aspect of the book I was less keen on was the story of the reporter who dug into Cassie’s past.  This seemed to trail off and was never really finished, but I suppose it served its purpose in bringing the information out to the reader. 

Overall it was a good read, just maybe not living up to the expectations I had of it.  I would definitely look up some of Hunt’s other books as I did enjoy her style of writing. 

You can buy a copy of Last To Die here 


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We’ll Always Have Paris

Author: Sue Watson
Published: 28 July 2016
Reviewed: 26 July 2016
4.5 Stars out of 5

Copy supplied by Little, Brown Book Group and Sphere in return for an honest review


My Thoughts & Review:

This book certainly didn’t start as I thought it might, Rosie Draper, nearing 65 loses her husband Mike to cancer……initially, I wondered what I was letting myself in for, but somehow, Sue Watson manages to turn this tragic event into something that draws the reader in slowly.  
Rosie, feeling that she has had her happiness, is ready to move on in her grief and settle for living out her days peacefully with the memories of her husband.  Never in her wildest dreams does she imagine a chance meeting with her first boyfriend.  

The romance aspect to the book was really well written, heartfelt and uplifting to read.  Reading how Rosie coped with the loss of her husband and struggling to get back to a place mentally where she could go on was very carefully written.  Care and consideration was shown by the author to this sensitive aspect of the book and for that I am grateful.  All to often authors brush over this and never really attempt to put into words how events such as this can impact on the characters left behind.  
Rosie is a lovely character, she teaches us so much – never to give up hope, never to give up on love but most importantly hindsight is something we have to learn from. 
All of her characters are realistic and most people will be able to identify with them, I loved the way they all seemed to open up and develop as realisations dawned upon them.  
Sue Watson writes a wonderful book, with a strong female lead character, some romance but most of all, she gives the reader pause for thought.  This book was exceptionally good at making me reflect on things and inspiring hope for what lies ahead.  More than I bargained for when I first read the description of the book, but I am so glad that I did read this one.  

I would definitely recommend this book, it’s the sort of heart warming story that cannot fail to capture the attention of readers, and their hearts in places too. This was the first book written by Sue Watson that I have read, but it definitely won’t be the only one, having thoroughly enjoyed this, I will be searching Amazon later for more of her books to enjoy!  

You can buy a copy of We’ll Always Have Paris  here.

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Find Her

Author: Lisa Gardner
Published: 9 February 2016
Reviewed: 25 July 2016
4 out of 5 stars 
Copy supplied by Headline in return for an honest review


AN ESCAPED KIDNAPPING VICTIM BECOMES AN AVENGER OF INNOCENTS. CAN SHE ESCAPE WHEN SHE’S TARGETED AGAIN? The eighth novel in Sunday Times bestseller Lisa Gardner’s Detective D.D. Warren series. Harlan Coben says FIND HER is ‘taut psychological suspense’ which ‘should not be missed’. 

I escaped the box.

The coffin that was both my prison and my lifeline.

My prison as I waited each day for release.

My lifeline as being locked inside meant being away from him.

I escaped the box, but I didn’t escape its consequences.

Now danger’s irrelevant. 

All I care about is making them pay. The other predators out there. Those just like the man who took me.

And if someone tries to grab me again? I know how to protect myself. 

And when another girl is taken? 

Have no doubt: I will do anything, anything, to find her.

Escaped kidnap victim Flora Dane has once again disappeared. Has the self-proclaimed vigilante become a victim? Or is something far more sinister at play? D.D. will have to race against the clock if she is going to Find Her.

My Thoughts & Review:

Despite being the eighth book in the Detective D.D. Warren series, I felt I was able to read this with little trouble.  There were references to previous cases which may have added extra information for other readers but nevertheless had no impact on me.  This book reads well as a standalone book, however where an author has established a series I do like to go back and read the books that I have missed just to catch up (looks like my summer reading pile has grown considerably!).

Flora Dane is a very interesting character, having been held captive for 472 days she was eventually found and returned to her family.  Instead of regressing back into herself, she turns vigilante to hunt down predators, and so when another young girl goes missing, Flora is determined to find her.  Despite putting herself in danger, Flora goes off to find the girl and disappears again, leaving Detective Warren to search for both girls in a gripping and frightening race against time.  Narrating from three perspectives, the author really immerses the reader in the action; details of the investigation, Flora’s current captivity and Flora’s previous kidnapping and time held captive.  The portrayal of Flora’s captivity was harrowing to read, Lisa Gardner really earns her gold stars for creating such a claustrophobic atmosphere that makes the reader feel uncomfortable.  Her attention to detail reflects at how much research has been done into both victims and perpetrators, thoroughly interesting, fascinating yet creepy all at the same time!   

The characters were interesting and realistic, there was a real believability to them, especially FloraFlora’s struggles made it hard to pin her to solely being a victim or a vigilante/ predator, so many of her actions and decisions were easily traced back to what she endured and I wonder if she might have been suffering Stockholm Syndrome

This is a book best read at breakneck speed, it’s thrilling, disturbing and utterly fascinating.   The pace of this good, very easy to read in one day (if you get peace and quiet to do so), but maybe try and get most of it read before bedtime!  
I would absolutely recommend this to fans of psychological thriller booksI can’t wait to see how the previous books compare to this one, hopefully this is another author to add to my “keep an eye out for” list. 

You can buy a copy of Find Her here. 

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183 Times a Year

Author: Eva Jordan
Published: 15 September 2015
Reviewed: 19 July 2016
4 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from Booklover Catlady Publicity in return for a fair and honest review

Mothers and daughters alike will never look at each other in quite the same way after reading this book—a brilliantly funny observation of contemporary family life.

Lizzie—exasperated Mother of Cassie, Connor and Stepdaughter Maisy—is the frustrated voice of reason to her daughters’ teenage angst. She gets by with good friends, cheap wine and talking to herself—out loud.

16-year-old Cassie—the Facebook-Tweeting, Selfie-Taking, Music and Mobile Phone obsessed teen—hates everything about her life. She longs for the perfect world of Chelsea Divine and her ‘undivorced’ parents—and Joe, of course.

However, the discovery of a terrible betrayal and a brutal attack throws the whole household into disarray. Lizzie and Cassie are forced to reassess the important things in life as they embark upon separate journeys of self-discovery—accepting some less than flattering home truths along the way.

Although tragic at times this is a delightfully funny exploration of domestic love, hate, strength and ultimately friendship. A poignant, heartfelt look at that complex and diverse relationship between a Mother and daughter set amongst the thorny realities of today’s divided and extended families.

My Thoughts & Review: 
I’m so glad I took a chance on this book, when I read the description I was curious but not entirely sure if it was the book for me.
A funny, entertaining and light hearted read for most parts, the reader is introduced to a typical dysfunctional family, a mother nearing the end of her tether with her teenage daughter and stepdaughter, and worrying her delightful son will find his hormones and will turn into another moody teen.  Throw in her ex husband who seems to have abandoned the kids almost completely, her new partner working away from home a lot so not able to support her when it comes to the kids, it’s no wonder that Lizzie needs the help of good friends and wine to keep her sanity.  
Lizzie is a fantastic character, her quirkiness makes her leap off the pages and seem so real.  I can see traces of my own mother in her, and I can see myself already following down some of the pathways taken by Lizzie, especially talking out loud to myself and having a full blown conversation half inside my head and aloud.  
Cassie is the typical 16 year old, her life revolves around what others think of her, her social status and making sure everyone knows that life isn’t easy when you’re 16.  She’s a character that I think most people can see traces of themselves in, I know I certainly can and I really need to apologise to my mother for that – amazing I made it through teenage years without any injuries!
The narration from alternating perspectives of Lizzie and Cassie is incredibly well written.  It gives the reader a great insight into each character, but it also opens the characters up even more, makes them even more relatable.   

The writing is superb, for a début novel I was impressed.  I particularly liked how Eva Jordan dangled the implication of there being more to a situation but not giving all the details away at that time.  Doing this ensured that my attention was held captive by her storytelling but also, illustrated that Jordan has quite a talent for writing.  

I would definitely say this is a book that both teenagers and adults should read, it relates to so many issues cleverly whilst telling a heart warming story.  Most importantly though, it reminds us not to take others for granted and appreciate the things that others do for us – even if it is just emptying the dishwasher or taking cups from the bedroom before they start to grow penicillin cultures.  
You can buy a copy of 183 Times a Year here.  

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For those not already aware of the #ParcelsOfJoy project on Twitter run by the wonderful Bex allow me to give you a little background.

Initially thought up as a way for her to share her batches of home baking, Bex hatched on the idea of a parcel exchange with strangers willing to share a little happiness with each other via post – be this baked cookies, banana bread, fudge or non edible delights such as books or knitted goodies.  In fact, looking at the pictures posted by participants of the project, there are a variety of items being sent and gratefully received by strangers.

Having participated in some swaps, I can honestly say I am truly honoured and touched at the lovely and thoughtful parcels of joy I have been sent.  Something so lovely about sending someone a parcel of random loveliness just to try and brighten their day.

Leading on from Bex’s recent post on Parcels of Joy blog I thought I would introduce myself and add a little about me.

I’m Kate, a city girl that moved out to the countryside.  I love to read (might give the game away with all the book reviews eh?), I knit when I can, my wool collection rivals my book collection, I love to knit practical things like hats, scarves, wrist/hand warmers, cleaning cloths.  Ok so I don’t like to knit garments because I get fed up before I finish them usually (there’s a pile of half finished projects in a box somewhere!).  I have a daughter who loves books too, it’s great to teach young ones to have an appreciation of books.  
I’m married to a wonderful man who seems to be able to turn his hand to most things – burst pipes, engine troubles, replastering walls, building fences and gates….think I got lucky marrying that one!  

I love going for walks on the old railway line that runs through our village, seeing the history of the line through the old bridges that are still in place and seeing the ever changing landscape always cheers me up.  I also love to sit and watch the sea, something so mesmerising about it.
I have a slight unhealthy addiction to watching tv shows like NCIS, Grey’s Anatomy and The Big Bang Theory.  But equally, I am fascinated when there are documentaries on about the Cold War or mythology, witchcraft and the likes.  
I am a stationary fiend, I cannot walk past places like Paperchase etc without going in to “look”.  You can never have enough notebooks and pens!  
I love candles, something soothing about watching the flickering flame on a candle.  
I’m lactose intolerant, but that doesn’t stop me eating chocolate….it should,  but it doesn’t.  
A big fan of baking and cooking, but sometimes my enthusiasm isn’t matched by abilities, but I can boast an impressive recipe books.  
Interested in local and Scottish history and folklore – it’s always nice to find out things about the places you visit or where you live. 

Can’t think of anything else really to say about myself really, apart from thank you to all the lovely people that have sent me a Parcel of Joy, I have been touched and humbled by your gestures and they have definitely brightened my day.

If you would like to find out more about the project, check out Bex’s blog.

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