Book Review. The Testaments. Written by Margaret Attwood.

The Testaments written by Margaret Attwood.

I was late to the parade with the Handmaids tale which I confess I did not read, instead, I watched the emotional and gripping drama on Netflix, becoming almost addicted to the series.

Desperate to know what became of Offred, her daughter, and husband I ordered The Testaments from my local library and was thrilled to be presented with my copy one day before lockdown.

I anticipated long days when I would curl up and devour this award-winning novel.

Oh, how disappointed I was. To be honest, I struggled at times, constantly searching the narrative to take me back to the Handmaids Tale.

For the most part the narrative was from three women Agnes, Nicole, and Aunt Lydia. The only narrative I found interest in was Aunt Lydia. To discover the grassroots of her journey to Gilead was what made this book worth reading.

Reading about the impending downfall of Gilead was somewhat satisfying and at times Margaret Attwood’s prose was equal to her writing in The Handmaids tale.

As an author myself, I know how hard it is to write a successful sequel, so it must be difficult to follow on from such an amazing introduction to the world of Gilead.

A steep learning curve

A steep learning curve my friends is what I and every new or potential author have to navigate in the world of publishing. Not that I’m complaining you understand. No, I am just reminiscing the time before my debut novel Alice was published, and in reality, how little I knew of this complicated and competitive world.

By the time I published my second book ‘Love, Secrets and Absolution, I was less naïve although still a long way from keeping up with the fundamental aspects of publishing. A world that has changed significantly in the past few years as traditional publishers are now competing with indie publishing.

With bookstores closing down it can be difficult to physically market books. The digital world and social platforms are accessible to everyone and although at the beginning of my journey from writer to author this was new to me, I soon realized the value of advertising my books this way.

That does not deter me from valuing the many published articles in magazines, journals, and the press. I value these very much and always navigate to the book club pages and the book review articles.

Since the publication of my debut novel, I have had the pleasure of writing for The Mansfield and Ashfield News Journal a local monthly edition that is distributed locally and available digitally.

This month for the first time, my article titled ‘Mansfield Bookshelf is featured in another journal,’ The Newark and Ashfield’ News journal. This gives me the opportunity to promote both local and well-known authors.

Please take a peep at the link below. 

Writing down your problems can help to solve them.


For those of you who have been following my blog posts since I began in 2017, it will come as no surprise to learn that during 2020 with all of its uncertainty I have continued with my journal writing which has become more important than ever.

With life in limbo and currently no sign of this changing it can be difficult to remain positive and focussed. With more people than ever feeling anxious and stressed it is important to realise that life can be and should be simple. Sometimes we can make things more complicated than they actually are. Trying to please everyone can get a bit exhausting so try and embrace who you really are. Be true to yourself.

Write down what’s on your mind, this way you can transfer all of those emotions that are doing a loop – the -loop in your head pushing up your adrenaline and cortisol levels. It doesn’t have to be a Moleskine journal or a top of the range hardback diary. No, just keep it simple and write down those thoughts, feelings, and emotions that are trapped inside of your mind. Release them as though releasing trapped birds from a cage. Allow the negativity to fly away.

Writing down your problems really does help to solve them.


Writing a journal is therapetic - k.l loveley

Welcome to the Autumn.

Welcome to the Autumn months known as The Fall in the United States. Personally, I love this time of year, particularly early autumn when the leaves are gradually turning into the most dazzling shades of red. orange and yellow.

The autumn equinox that took place on 22nd September was the turning point in the seasons when the long nights of winter begin. It is a season rich in folklore and celebrations inspired by nature. It is the season of hedgerow fruits and nuts. I clearly remember the fun I had as a child under the horse chestnut tree searching for the perfect conker while trying to avoid the spikey thorns of the fruit that contained this shiny mahogany-colored nut.

Country markets selling seasonal produce, craft wear, and artisan products are well worth a visit at this time of year and a good way of getting out in the fresh air. I recently enjoyed the pleasure of spending a weekend at one such market. The Newark Literary festival which originally should have taken place in the summer months was rescheduled for the last weekend in September and stood alongside the country market.  I thoroughly enjoyed my two days at Newark marketplace in Nottinghamshire meeting other authors and promoting my books.












Newark is a quaint market town on the River Trent in Nottinghamshire. Famous for historic connections with Oliver Cromwell and the civil war. A fascinating point in our history.

One of the many interesting authors I met at the literary market was Mark Turnbull, who was suitably dressed in his civil war costume to promote his book Allegiance of blood. A fascinating fictional story set during the civil war.

The protagonist Sir Francis Berkeley faces many trials during the civil war and his allegiance to King Charles 1. If you are interested in historic novels then check out his Facebook page where he sells his book.

Although I did not dress in costume like Mark, I did dress my market stall to compliment the theme of a country market. To my surprise, I won an award for the best-dressed stall on the market.



















Now I really must work harder at trying to win an award for one of my fictional books or my collection of poetry which now stands pride of place on a bookcase that I renovated during the lockdown. I live in hope!  Take care everyone.






Book review. Before The Rains.

My interest in the work of Dinah Jefferies began after reading ‘The Tea Planter’s Wife.’

On my first visit to the library following lockdown, my eye was drawn to the exotic book cover of Before The Rains written by Dinah Jefferies. Without hesitation, I chose the book in the full knowledge that this would be a great read.

I was not disappointed.

From the first chapter, I was transported to 1912 India. I could almost see the vibrant colours and smell the aromas of India. I loved how she built up an image of the exotic beauty of the palaces and the contrast with rural locations.

The reader gets more from this story than the heart-wrenching tale of love against the norms and traditions of society. The protagonist Eliza is a determined young British woman who carries with her a lot of emotional baggage which has its roots in India where she witnessed the murder of her father during political unrest. When the British Government send her to India as the official photographer to the royal family, she is determined to be successful and make a name for herself.

However, not all members of the Royal household are pleased to have her at the palace. Filled with secrets, intrigue, underhand behaviour and romance, the palace even with all of its exquisite beauty becomes a dangerous place.

Added to this is the relationship between members of the royal family and the injustice of British rule which is responsible in part for the poverty of the people.

On her arrival at the palace, Eliza meets Jay the handsome brother of the prince who is more interested in the lavish lifestyle his position brings him than his interest in his role as the Maharajah.

Jay, however, is cut from a different cloth and when Eliza awakens him to the poverty of his people and introduces him to the idea of providing water to help irrigate the lands around his palace, they begin a forbidden romance full of passion.

Eventually, they have to choose between what society expects and what their hearts tell them.

The descriptions of this amazing country and the way Dinah Jefferies has brought them to life has reinforced my desire to one-day travel to India and witness these sights for myself.

Bookaholic and proud of it.

Today Saturday, September 12th 2020 I stepped foot inside of my local Library in Mansfield Woodhouse Nottinghamshire. It is no exaggeration to say that for me it was like going home.

Lockdown and COVID -19 have reinforced my love for this great institution. The familiar smell of books and the beautifully arranged shelves. I was like a child in a sweetshop. I kid you not, the first bookshelf I went to I picked up the first three books that took my eye, and such was my excitement.



Did you know that the first library to operate a free lending library without subscription was in Campfield Manchester in 1852 and the first purpose-built public library opened in 1857?

Today we take the library for granted but just imagine how amazing it must have felt in the late nineteenth century to be able to borrow books freely.

Recently I read a delightful book written by Salley Vickers, titled ‘The Librarian.’ Set in 1958 in post-war Britain this is a story about a young devoted Librarian Sylvia Blackwell. She tries desperately hard to fire the enthusiasm of the local children, but as in all good stories, there are other things at play. It is a story that reinforces the power of books as a tool of inspiration and how reading can change and inspire anyone.




Love and Respect.

Remember that love and respect for others will provide strength and understanding.

Around the world, relationships blossom while civil unrest and senseless wars rage on. Climate change resulting in fires, floods and extinction affect the everyday lives of populations. We read of the tragic effects of these events and now as the pandemic of corona-virus sweeps the world, it is important to remember that love can provide courage and strength to face these catastrophic events.

This month I take you to such places, where amidst the turmoil love not only survives but thrives. Through the stories of great authors, readers can learn how the path of love and friendship sometimes has many twists and turns.

The stationary shop of Tehran.

Author Marjan Kamali in her novel ‘The Stationery Shop of Tehran ‘explores themes of love and loss amidst the turmoil of Iran in the year 1953.

Known as the Iranian Coup d etat, when the United States of America and the United Kingdom sought to overthrow a foreign government during peacetime, this beautiful, well-written novel describes the shocking violence that changed Iran forever.

In a small Tehran stationery shop, a young couple meets for the first time. Roya loves everything about the shop. The translated books from around the world, pens and inks. Most of all, she loves Bahman who enters the shop one day with his energy and burning passion for justice.

Through the action of family and friends, their lives together as man and wife are not to be. Despite moving to Canada and married to a wonderful, kind man, Roya never stops loving Bahman and he her.  The ending of this tragic novel is bittersweet, to say the least.

The Kite runner.

In the Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini, the love is of a different kind.

Set in Afghanistan this book is filled with many personal tragedies involving the destruction of a nation brought about by war. The author skillfully takes the reader through death, rape war, torture, fascism and destruction. Two young friends, Amir and Hassan are the main characters in this heartfelt story. When they are twelve years old their worlds change. Written in the first-person narrative, Amir takes the reader through his kite-flying years in Afghanistan, through to his period of exile in the United States with his father, who successfully provides a satisfactory standard of living.

After the death of his father, Amir discovers a very painful truth about his father and friend Amir, making for an incredible storyline.

Although unable to help Hassan in the past, Amir against all odds and at great risk to his own life finds a way to help his friend and to redeem himself in the process; making for a very satisfying and emotional ending to this exceptionally well-written b

The little coffee shop of Kabul

Remaining in Afghanistan, I wish to draw your attention to author Deborah Rodriuez who has written a novel set in Kabul against the backdrop of political power and unrest at the hands of the Taliban. The little coffee shop of Kabul is owned by Sunny an American citizen who arrived in Kabul to follow his  love. The little shop is the backdrop to several characters within this setting which provides a different perspective from the media-driven images of Afghanistan. Skilfully, Deborah Rodriuez spins a human touch to a war zone filled with fear and bloodshed.

This story contains multiple protagonists, however, two of the Afghan women who feature in this book Halajan and Yasmina are absolute powerhouses with their unexpected spirit and emotional strength.

The book contains several twists and turns as a reader would expect from a novel within this setting. To summarise, I would say that this is a story about true companionship and acceptance of life’s challenges.









Afternoon tea anyone?

A warm welcome back to my followers and a huge hello and welcome if you are new to this blog. We have certainly been experiencing a very different way of life since Covid-19 became a familiar word to most of us. Even my three-year-old granddaughter has begun to draw pictures of the virus with its space-like features. Her favourite question of late is, ‘Nana when the world is not sick, can we go swimming?’

For those of you who read my February Blog post, you will be aware of our rapid escape from China when the outbreak began, bringing our daughter and family with us. Fortunately for me, they have been living with us throughout lockdown, making for a very lively household.

I have taught them baking, sewing, knitting gardening and the art of tidying their own space, while their parents have worked from home and provided home-schooling.

Afternoon tea anyone?



However, I have managed to squeeze in a little creative time for myself, linked to my favourite pass time of reading and writing.

So today I share with you a picture of my DIY project. A bookcase of course and a small children’s chair. Both previously pine and now chalk paint white.

I must admit to feeling proud and even more so when the first books I put on the shelf were my own published works. When I first purchased the bookcase thirty-five years ago, it was but a dream that one day I would have a book published and now I have three with another on the way.


Recently as a result of the lockdown, I returned to my collection of DVD S enjoying many hours watching films that I had long forgotten. Amongst these was ‘The Pursuit of Happyness, yes it is spelt wrong, which is a point of view in the film.

Will Smith starred in this moving tale inspired by a true story of Chris Gardner, a San Francisco salesman who was struggling to make ends meet. When his girlfriend leaves him to raise their five-year-old son on his own he is determined to pay off his debts. Sadly they are evicted from their apartment and forced to sleep on the streets. With determination to pursue the happiness he so longs for, Chris takes a huge gamble and applies for an internship in a brutally competitive stockbroker- training programme. His grit and determination pay off as he rises above his many obstacles and becomes a successful Wall Street legend.

I love the positivity in this film and the way it portrays the human spirit, which for me was reassuring. Having recently read a book titled Freud The Key Ideas I had become somewhat perplexed about the human mind.


According to Freud, ‘Artists and writers have great insight into the workings of the unconscious. But he saw them as escapists from reality and claimed they avoid the real world by living out their fantasies through their work. Mm interesting concept except that Freud’s work on dreams and the unconscious has greatly influenced writers and artists in the twentieth and now the twenty-first century. As a writer myself perhaps I should take offence at this suggestion. Writing however can be therapeutic and therefore unconscious thoughts that may be damaging can be transferred into the life of another character or object.


Having read many of Freud’s hypotheses and ideas, which by the way he frequently reviewed and changed his mind about. There is one of his statements that I agree with and most definitely resonates with the outstanding film aforementioned.

He saw the purpose of human life as being the pursuit of happiness with I not Y. This he declares is driven by the pleasure principle.

He had a point when one thinks about it. Happiness and pleasure I will take one or both any day and leave the negative emotions in the deleted bin of my writer’s brain.

VE Day

Like many people in the UK, the residents of our little cul-de-sac consisting of two houses and four bungalows have bonded over these past few weeks since lockdown began. Without doubt, each week our camaraderie goes from strength to strength.


The VE celebrations on Friday, May 8th once again brought us out into the street to celebrate. We have been out clapping and cheering the NHS and all support workers every Thursday at 8 pm since this brilliant idea was put forward. I believe that this was the seed that began bringing people together. From this grew our Sunday afternoon quiz on the street, with my husband taking on the role of quiz master.


On VE day the quiz was bought forward to Friday which once again was a glorious British day with the sun shining and the sky azure blue. We dressed in our forties clothes, played 78-speed records on our record player outside and enjoyed afternoon tea. One of the residents provided us with Prosecco in memory of her father who died in the war. We toasted our oldest resident who turned eighty the previous day and to the health of the world.


These are difficult times we are living through and people should be kept safe and healthy so although we celebrated at distance with a whole road between us, we were not deterred from celebrating this day which marks the day towards the end of World War Two when fighting against Nazi Germany came to an end in Europe.