Memories Of Midnight.

Midnight was a rescue cat, and we shared a deep bond.He would accompany me everywhere- even to visit our neighbours. People said’ he’s more like a dog than a cat.’ He was a tough veteran when we got him, but he displayed the sweetest nature. Sadly ,after only being together for three years and three months, he was killed in an accident. I felt as though my heart was broken, and that I’d never love another  animal in the same way.I had never shared such a deep connection with any animal.

Three years and three months later the black cat who I would call Mystic walked along our driveway and demanded to be let in. When I saw him in the garden under the tree that Midnight used to sit under I wrote this poem

Midnight in the garden
Midnight in the garden

 

 

 

Memories of Midnight.

I see you there, beneath the tree

Sharpening claws just like he

Used to in that very place.

It is an unexpected grace.

Seeming so familiar and dear

As if he could just appear.

A streak of blackness, passing through

Returned to me, somehow in you.

Oh, I know you are not the same!

Forget and call a well-loved name

Realise, I’ll not see him again

And welcome then the burst of pain.

Mostly though, you give me joy

Remembering my precious boy.

People say ‘it’s just a cat,

Oh you’ll soon get over that’

As if it were a lesser love

And you have no right to grieve.

In the places of my heart

You know there is a space apart.

Secure, enclosed and wholly yours,

Where sunshine and shadow still endures,

Blackness bounding lightly on long grass

The brightest eyes, warm as amber glass.

Oh the welcome in your meow

How I long to hear it now!

Loving you brings joy and pain

Yet, I have dared to love again

Another cat, with blackest fur

And a warm resounding purr.


 

Here is photo of Mystic and IMystic and me

The Magic of Pets

A post which touched me deeply and reminded me of my much-loved cat Midnight- see my post in June 2017 A Fool for Love. Reposted with permission.

The Cat's Write

When my cat died on March 20th, I stopped blogging entirely. The only reason you’ll see I posted blogs on that particular date (and after) is because I always schedule my blogs about 1-2 weeks ahead.

I would like to let you all know that I have been reading every single comment left on this blog – even if I never replied. Your comments have been little sparks of light in the darkness. Thank you too, for all the lovely, heartfelt emails and for being so understanding and sharing in my grief when I posted about losing Sven last month.

I’m not embarrassed to admit, that I, the ever optimistic happy go-lucky crazy cat lady, finally reached the end of her tether after my pet died. And we should not be ashamed of feeling sad. If we do, we help perpetuate the stigma of depression that stops people reaching…

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A quick survey- Which pages interest you the most?

Hi there,

I  could really use your help, please tell me which of the topics that I post about are of Interest to you.

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Practical articles about writing

Thoughts on writing

What I’ve been reading

My cats

Opinion pieces

Quotations

Running a writing group

How to book speakers for a writing group

What I learnt from running a book group for eleven years

Attending conferences and author talks

Other topics you’d like?

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Which Books Did I Read in March 2018?

March was a month of change for me, earlier in the month, my reading was for enjoyment. Mid-month I had sad news about the death of my oldest friend and I seemed to lose my concentration and focus. I think I deliberately chose escapist fiction to try to lighten my mood. Note the books are in the order that I read them.

 

pexels-photo-261889.jpegPromises, Promises by Erica James. 

3 stars from me.We’ve all done it, made promises to ourselves, vowing to change something in our lives. Erica James takes three people all at a point of wanting to change an aspect of their lives.

Promises, Promises by Erica James - image good reads

Maggie dreams of romance while stuck in a depressing marriage and working as a cleaner. Ella wasted seven years with a man who couldn’t challenge his spoilt teenage daughter while Ethan consoles himself for his loveless marriage by having one-night stands.

They all plan to change and make a different life for themselves this year, but promises are easily made and harder to keep.  While I did enjoy the story and was cheering them on from the sidelines at times I felt that it dragged slightly, which why I chose to give three stars.

The Sister’s Song by Louise Allan

5 stars. I am pleased that I read this earlier in the month – I did so I was about to attend a talk by Louise Allan at my local library. it may have been too sad for me to enjoy it later in the month.

Sister's Song.png

Beautifully written and desperately sad Louise Allan’s The Sisters Song touches on musicality and motherhood. As a non-musical person, I am sure many of the musical references were lost on me. Louise explores the times and manners of a bygone age with sensitivity and empathy. There is such a contrast between the sisters, one born for motherhood yet denied it, the other resenting it. The themes resonated with me and helped to explain my own conflicted relationship with my mother, who by her own admission ‘never wanted children’. Other themes such as sibling rivalry, the position of women in society and their inability to influence much in their lives, the shame of illegitimacy on both mother and child. The book veers more to the literary end of the spectrum rather than the strictly popular fiction. It is a book that will remain with you long after you have finished reading it,

I received a proof copy of the book through a Good reads giveaway, with no obligation to review it.

Feels Like Home by Lisa Ireland

4 stars/ A rural romance with enough zing to keep you guessing. Jo a bestselling novelist returns to her old hometown for her best friend’s wedding. What she didn’t bank on is heart-throb Ryan would be back in town, they have a history.

Feels Like Home Lisa Ireland

Fate throws them together, but each time it seems they are growing closer one or the other pulls back, neither wants to commit. He broke her heart and then married someone else. She vowed never to return but love and loyalty dragged her back. I found the characters engaging and relatable and there was enough tension to make me doubt if they would get a happy ever after.

How to be Everything by Emilie Wapnik.

 How to be Everything- from Book Depository3 stars I picked this book up because the title intrigued me. When I read the blurb, I found that it was based on her successful TED talk. The premise is that some of us don’t necessarily fit into the neat pigeon holes that society assigns us. So, if you are a lawyer you can’t possibly be a musician as well. Emilie argues that if you find several options appealing you can if you choose to, explore them all. She has called these people Multi-potentialities.

The chapters then go on to discuss how to apply the concepts to different kinds of career mixes. This section I found a bit repetitive, as the information was so similar. I suggest this book would be of most befitting for those at the beginning of their careers.

Cake at Midnight by Jessie L Star.

There is something so likeable about Giovanna, who is known as Gio to her friends Declan and Zoe. The trio has a strong friendship forged in childhood, and Gio thinks that her crush on Declan is a secret. When she does him a favour and he humiliated her, she knows she must move on. She wants a month with no contact from him

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To ease her heartache during the sleepless nights she bakes delicious cakes and soon she is sharing them with her fellow insomniac and sexy neighbour, Theo.Can heartbreak heal that fast? But then Declan has a crisis and Gio knows she has to be there for him. Will Theo understand?  A nice escapist read.4 stars

The Cat Among Us by Louise Carson.

Although this is a murder mystery it is a lovely gentle book about community and cats The cats are very much individuals with their own personalities. When Gerry, an artist inherits her old house she begins to suspect that her aunt was murdered.

The Cat among us

One cat ‘First Cat’ seems intent on helping her solve the puzzle. I found that the book really drew me in and I enjoyed it immensely. Perhaps not for you if you are not a cat lover. I gave it 5 stars.

Ghouls Gone Wild by Victoria Laurie

A book that explores the ghost hunter’s world and their contacts with spirits. In this case with malevolent spirits in Scotland.

Ghouls gone wild

M.J. Holliday and Heath are battling an ancient curse cast by a powerful witch centuries ago.  A witch who seemingly has never died and has descendents bent on revenge Action packed and disturbing-As Victoria Laurie (herself a psychic) mentions in the forward this book is inspired by real events. I am glad I was not there to experience them! 4 stars

 

The Vineyard in the Hills by Lily Malone

I’ve just found a new favourite author, Lily Malone. The Vineyard in the Hills, set in beautiful Margaret River and South Australia has such engaging characters.

The vineyard in the hills

Remy is smart and sassy, but she’s had to give up her dreams and her viticulture degree to return home after the death of her gambler father. He’s left debts and Remy and her mum must pay them.She takes a job in a winery as a vintner’s assistant and begins to enjoy the work.

Then she meets Seth, one of the owner’s sons. He usually travels to promote the winery and is home on a rare visit.Their attraction is instant, could Remy be heading for a happily ever after.? A crisis causes Remy and her mother to leave the area. She is confident Seth will find her, but he doesn’t seek her out.

Five years later, Remy is running her own vineyard in South Australia when their paths cross again. The attraction is still there. but so is the hurt and mutual suspicion. Can Seth sort out the truth from all the lies he’s been told? Can Remy trust her heart and Seth, or is she heading for more heartbreak? 5 stars.

 

 

 

 

I’d Never Forget You

 

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‘Those were the days my friend we thought they’ d never end’

I am sharing this blog post with Frank Solanki’s permission. I recently lost my oldest, dearest and closest friend. This poem touched my heart, I read it with tears in my eyes, recalling the times both good and bad that we shared. Lynn had known me far longer than anyone else, even my husband. I find joy in remembering the good times

 

Frank Solanki

Look back upon the flying time
How swiftly it went
Strongly etched in this heart of mine
The memories we spent
Now that we’re no longer together
Distant and apart
My heart beats now even stronger
Yearning for your heart
I know that your heart misses me
Mine misses you too
I know you’d never forget me
And I’d never forget you

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What makes a good writing group?

Questions to ask about a writing group.

Coloured pencils Jess Watters Unsplash

There many opinions on what makes a good writing group, but I think that we can agree on a few things.Most of us need the right sized group, one that meets at a convenient time and place and one that helps us to grow as writers and to achieve our aims.So, if you are considering joining a writing group it pays to ask a few questions.

  1. What is the composition of the group?Does it matter to you if it is a mixed or a single-sex group? Both types of groups can have advantages and disadvantages. A mixed group provides a microcosm of the potential readership for your stories or book. However, that can be challenging ii your stories are not mainstream.Crime and fantasy/sci-fi appeal to both genders, while other types of writing typically appeal more to one or the other. For example, romance writing has a mainly female authorship and readership; while war stories mostly appeal to men.
  2.  Does Age Matter?people-woman-coffee-meeting.jpgThe general age in the group may be a factor for you, although it is wise to be flexible about this. Talent is not confined to one age group and both younger and older members can contribute to the dynamic of a mixed age group.3. How friendly do you need the group to be?Many of us complete our best work inspired by a little ‘friendly’ competition. And the operative word is friendly. Many writers have a horror story or two to tell of savage criticism towards their work or even their personality( a real no, no!) which has wounded them and eroded their confidence in their writing abilities. A good facilitator should prevent this, reminding everyone that the focus is solely on the work. Any group that is not welcoming to new members and encouraging of them is not a place that you want or need to be.

    4 What do you want?Writng laptop thougth Catalogue

    A good writing group is a community of like-minded people, one that provides that ‘safe space’ in which to discuss your work. There is no need to bore your long-suffering family, instead talk to the people who understand the blow of rejection and the thrill of success. The members of a writing group near you.

    As I was writing this post I asked various group members about their experiences with our writing group. The group I attend meets weekly and is a mixed group.Members attend writing events and the group books authors as speakers.

    5. What Writing Group Members Say About Their Writing Group

    One member said’ I need the inspiration of others work, I am fascinated by the way that other people write and think’.

    This is an aspect of a writing group that is so intriguing, that there are so many different approaches to writing about one topic.

    Another commented’ each week I struggle and I am amazed when people say that I am improving.’As mentioned earlier, we may be the harshest critics of our own work and a group can provide objectivity.

    A third said ‘the group has inspired me to try different styles and ways of writing’

    A veteran of other groups noted that ‘some groups tend to be dominated by egos, which can be very stressful’

    A member who had not written since junior school commented that it was ‘right place, right time,’ adding cheekily the group picked me!’ She continued more seriously by saying that ‘written has been ( and is) challenging, yet stimulating’

    As for me, it is no exaggeration to say that joining a ringgit group changed my life. Writing group members encouraged me to apply for mature age university entrance. I was accepted and had some of the most challenging yet thrilling years of my life. Following on from that I submitted my writing and had some stories and articles published in national magazines. None of which I would have accomplished without the help and support of my writing group.

    So pluck up your courage and think about joining your local writing group. Your local library will most likely have the details of local groups

     

What is Standing in Your Way?

It is easy to blame others for not having enough time. Easy to cite all the things we need to do, as well as the things that we want to do. I’ve been there, making all the excuses. They work faster, they’re younger, smarter, have more help, a supportive partner, or family, an endless list.

It’s so easy to sit on the sidelines, whining. Last week I faced myself down and decided that I was my own biggest obstacle.

 

Obstacles by Igor Rodriguez- Unspalsh
Image from Unsplash

 

When I assessed it there was loads of time, hours that I frittered away.After years at work, I am now able to be at home. I have no boss to answer to, no time schedule to keep. I had aeons of time, my problem was with me.

Like many people, I am at my most productive early in the day. Instead of writing then, which was what I ‘d declared I most wanted to do. I was reading and replying to emails, clicking on Facebook, checking the news. When I ‘d finished doing all that I hit an energy slump and I’d run out of time.The biggest obstacle in my way was ME. What a sobering thought,

If I never try I can never fail. Was what I was telling myself? It was a moment of self-enlightenment.

Things had to change, so I’ve altered my morning routine and I think for the better.STOPI will not allow myself to go onto the Internet until I have done at least one hour of writing. It’s been surprisingly easy and I still check emails and Facebook. Now though, I feel a sense of accomplishment- because I have kept my promise to myself and have actually been writing.

Are you standing n your own way?

How?

Let me know in the comments.

Which Books Made My February Reading List?

A long, hot summer-  one with plenty of reading time

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I read nine books this month, a mix of fiction and non-fiction.  Often a serious book will prompt me to choose something lighter to read or I will pick a non-fiction book instead.

Does your own reading follow a pattern or do you choose books at random?

           In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

 

In The Midst of Winter
Simon and Schuster

 

Three people brought together by chance, in a snowstorm. Richard, a university professor, Evelyn, an undocumented migrant from Guatemala and Lucia, a visiting Chilean academic, she is also Richard’s tenant.

Each has past filled with secrets and heartache. They form an unlikely alliance to help Evelyn who was involved in a minor car accident with Richard. Terrified she can hardly speak as she faces a  major problem.Her problem involves them in something far more serious than anticipated. In spite of some bleak events, this is a life-affirming and inspiring book. I won a copy of In the Midst of Winter in a giveaway but  there was no obligated to write a review

.                               5:2Vegetarian by Celia Brooks

 

5 2 VegetarainWhile I am not a vegetarian, I don’t eat a lot of meat, so this book appealed to me. With recipes for easy fast day meals, speedy breakfasts and simple snacks, the book was just what I was looking for. There is a section on convenience foods and packed lunches, with suggestions for how the recipes in the book can be used as packed lunches. All in all a practical and useful book. I borrowed this book from the library

 The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life by Sharon Pywell.

 

The Romance Readers Guiee to Life

This is a book that is quite hard to categorise, in fact, it’s a bit of a genre-busting book. The cover although brilliant is slightly misleading as it conveys the promise of a romance.The story concerns, ghosts, history, domestic violence, entrepreneurship, the relationships between siblings, a murder and a pirate tale. There is a parallel storyline between the supposedly real-life events involving the two sisters and the romance storyline. In a sense, I felt that the title was deceptive in its promise of “romance”. The romance was certainly there, but the author delivered another and more complex and darker version of what life and romance might be. I would certainly be interested in reading another of her book.This book was one that I bought.

                             Jenna’s Truth by Nadia L King

 

Jenna's Truth
from Good reads


The book was written in response to the tragic suicide of Amanda Todd a US teenager who was bullied to death.Jenna’s Truth is a powerful story, which is very relevant for today’s’ teens and their concerned parents.

Written in the first person it feels very authentic. When Jenna is befriended by the popular girl at school she doesn’t question why, as this is her dream come true. Tina’s aim is to lull Jenna into a false sense of security and then to betray her trust.The casual cruelty of the situation is well depicted. Driven by desperation Jenna feels that she has nowhere to turn.

This is a book that should be widely read and its message shared, to speak out against bullying and that there are things that can be done to stop the spread of bullying.In addition to the story itself, the book has pages of resources against bullying and cyberbullying, discussion questions and activities. For international readers, there is a glossary of Australian terms.

   The Hairy Dieters Eat for Life by Si King and Dave Myers

 

Hairy Dieters
Photo from The Hairy Dieters website

 

One look at the cover photo will show how well the boys have succeeded in losing weight. The recipes are colourful and tasty and they should appeal to the man in your life.Unless you are eating one meal a day they may be mostly too high in calories for using with 5;2 or the Fast diet. Eat for Life would be good to use to on non-fasting days to keep your calorie count in check.

                    The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

 

Things that we keep
Image from Good reads.

Although the book tackles potentially depressing topics –such as young age Alzheimer’s disease and the aftermath of fraud and suicide, it is not a depressing read. In parts, the story felt reminiscent of Lisa Genova’s Still Alice as Anna, writes herself journal entries to try and retain a sense of who she is.

Anna Forster is only thirty-eight and worked as a paramedic so she knows the outcome of her disease only too well. Now, she is a resident of RosalindHouse, an assisted living facility. Jack, her twin chose it because there is another young resident.

Eve, Bennett has come to Rosalind House as the cook, a far cry from her easy life of wealth and privileged, as a pampered wife. Her circumstances have changed and she has an important motive for being there.

The story has a parallel structure with Eve and Anna telling their own stories, I found it was easy to read and it kept me turning the pages.

But, the author left Anna and Luke, (the two young age Alzheimer sufferers,) still functioning and maintaining a sense of their own personalities. So while their final outcome was spelt out, the book did not go there. A thought-provoking book.

                           Million Love Songs by Carole Matthews

Million Love Songs HAchette
Image Good reads

After a marriage breakup and a blow to her self-esteem, Ruby Brown wants to start a new life. Forget love and commitment, it’s time for Ruby to let her hair down and have some fun.

Although her friend Charlie warns Ruby about Mason Sloan ( aka Shagger Sloan) and their boss. Ruby enjoys flirting with him. He’s a charmer and an outrageous flirt and his bad boy reputation doesn’t hurt either.

Then there is Joe, her diving instructor who is good looking, caring, friendly but with serious baggage, An ex-wife, who he is technically still married to and two teenage children,

Having the two such different men in her life Ruby is spoilt for choice.Can she tame bad boy Mason? Does she want to? Will Joe see her as more than a casual friend? Is she ready to take on his surly children?

Charlie her best friend and huge Take That! fan swoons over Gary Barlow, it’s far safer than getting involved with a real-life man, one who could hurt you. Ruby’s emotions sway in favour of one and then the other. Her love life has never been busier or her heart so torn.

 Nevermoor; The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

 

NeverMoor image Hachette
image Hachette

While I am not the intended readership of this book, it’ss for primary school aged children ) I enjoyed it very much. I feel it is probably more advanced than most primary aged readers and at 448 pages it is quite a long read. I suggest its more for a mid-grade readership, perhaps 11+

Who could resist reading about Morrigan Crow who is cursed? She is an unusual but relatable character and the concept and ideas of the story worked well. Although it’s a longish book I never felt that the story dragged

Transported to an unfamiliar world Morrigan has the protection of Jupiter North, who proves to be an erratic and eccentric guardian.But without him, she knows that she would be dead.

She learns that in order to remain in Nevermoor she has to face four trials. She feels ill-equipped to handle even one and the mysterious Jupiter isn’t exactly helping.

For an older reader, there are plenty of oblique references to our world, which are likely to amuse you. I particularly liked the reference to the Gobleian library. A second book in the series planned for release in 2018 and I am sure many fans will be looking out for it.

             Ghouls Just Haunt to Have Fun by Victoria Laurie.

 

19918890._UY200_
from Good reads.

This is part of a series of books written by real-life psychic Victoria Laurie.It’s not the first book in this series, but it is the first one that I picked up and it can easily be read as a stand-alone.

Its a fast and easy read, with a mixture of humour and suspense. M.J Holliday is talked into appearing on a TV show by Gilly her business partner The show is being promoted as a cross between The Antiques Roadshow and Ghostbusters. MJ and other psychics will sense what the objects handed to them have to say.

They are staying in ‘the most haunted hotel in San Francisco’. It is obvious that more than a TV show has to happen. So a murder and an apparent suicide, a portal, and a demon are all in the days work for MJ. and Heath the fellow psychic that she is working with.

The first two-thirds of the book engaged me, the last third less so. It felt a bit rushed and my suspicions about certain characters proved to be correct.

Do any of my choices appeal to you? What have you been reading this month? I’d love to know!

Books I read in January 2018

I read nine boosk this month but I only reviewed eight.

February already!  January flew by in a flash, and it was a busy month, as I expect it was for many people. I started a diet ( the 5:2 or Fast diet). I also prepared a submission for an Arts festival and also did a short online writing course.

Our TV schedule provided me with plenty of opportunities to read, I managed to read nine books this month. I am only reviewing eight of them because I gave myself permission to abandon one book., so I don’t feel it is fair to comment on that.

Image coverdesign Pixababy public domian BOOKS
image pixababy.

Vasilisa The Wise and Other Tales of Brave Young Women by Kate Forsyth illustrated by Lorena Carrington

Vasilisa-cover

A beautifully presented book and one with an uplifting message- that girls can do just about anything, Having read and loved all of the Andrew Lang Coloured Fairy Books, I suppose that I was a natural fit for this book. It did not disappoint me.The tales are all little-known folk-tales, which are retold sympathetically by Kate Forsyth.Adding to the charm of the book are the delightful and almost magical illustrations by Lorena Carrington.You will probably want to keep a copy for yourself, but this book would make a wonderful gift for most teenage girls.

The Other Woman by Laura Wilson

The Other Woman

A domestic noir that left me virtually on the edge of my seat.The Other Woman completely subverts a reader’s expectations, at the same time providing shocks and surprises in plenty. It kept up the pacing and the growing tension. Best of all, it did feel completely plausible. It was easy to project yourself into Sophie’s enviable life and then its gradual disintegration. Surprises up to the very last page. An author I will look out for.

The 5.2 Diet By Kate Harrison.

5.2 diet book

Easy to read and very practical, this book is based on Michael Mosley’s The Fast Diet. In it, Kate Harrison explains how the diet changed her way of eating and how it worked for her.Part one also contains the scientific information that underpins the diet. Part two tells personal experiences and shares recipes and food ideas. Easy to follow and encouraging. Brands listed are UK ones.

A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan

A Secret History fo Witches

A big book of 484 pages which spans the times from 1821 to 1937 and follows the lineage of one family the Orchieres. When they are forced to flee from France the family settled in Cornwall. Their secret is of course that one of them is a witch. The craft is passed from generation to generation, with each daughter facing her own challenges, needs and desires.Equally not all mother-daughter relationships are shown to be perfect.

For me personally, its pacing felt a little slow, until I got to 1886, midway through the book. Then I raced through the rest of the story, feeling a deepening connection with each of the women. There were some surprising developments in 1937 onward, which added to the veracity of the book. The author has chosen to use pseudonym and dedicated the book to her mother, which could add to the intrigue, If you have the patience this is an enjoyable read,

The Other Side of the Season by Jenn J. McLeod.

The Other Side of the Season

I find dual timeline stories intriguing and in reading this one I felt as though I had hit the jackpot. Both the times that were chosen were interesting, the 1970s and the present day.For me, the characters were real., flawed and complex. Some were instantly relatable while others were harder to appreciate. This book played with my emotions( in a good way) as I cared about the characters. It was one of those books that I both wanted to finish and equally one that I didn’t want to end. The landscape is a part the appeal but the book is never bogged down by description. Its Jenn J McLeod’s best book yet.

River Road by Carol Goodman

.River Road

An almost literary thriller. I enjoyed it but anyone who expects a fast-paced read will find it too slow for their taste. Professor Nan Lewis is a college creative writing lecturer who might have hit and killed a student as she returned from a year-end party. Nan’s private life has been a mess since the tragic death of her young daughter six years earlier. She turns up for class and teaches and grades student’s papers but increasingly is drinking more and more. Could she have done it and not remember? And if she didn’t, then who did?

Gifts for Our Time by Anna Jacobs.

Gifts for our time Anan Jcobs

The final book in the Rivenshaw series. Although you could read it as a stand-alone novel as all the major plot points are covered.Set in post-war Britain with its privations and shortages, Gifts for Our Time is an enjoyable read. Jacobs skilfully draws the many threads of the previous books together, and also adds new characters, this book is a worthy conclusion to the series

Disclaimer . I won a copy of the book in a giveaway, but was not required to write a review.

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