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The Lost Queen by Carol McGrath #Review

  We travel back to the 12th Century for this gorgeous historical novel, The Lost Queen by Carol McGrath . It was published by Headline Accent on 18th July. 1191 and the Third Crusade is underway . .  It is 1191 and King Richard the Lionheart is on crusade to pitch battle against Saladin and liberate the city of Jerusalem and her lands. His mother, the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine and his promised bride, Princess Berengaria of Navarre, make a perilous journey over the Alps in midwinter. They are to rendezvous with Richard in the Sicilian port of Messina. There are hazards along the way - vicious assassins, marauding pirates, violent storms and a shipwreck. Berengaria is as feisty as her foes and, surviving it all, she and Richard marry in Cyprus. England needs an heir. But first, Richard and his Queen must return home . . . The Lost Queen is a thrilling medieval story of high adventure, survival, friendship and the enduring love of a Queen for her King.   My Thoughts

The Cheesemaker's House by Jane Cable- 5th Book Birthday Blog Tour- Review, Author Interview & Giveaway

I am delighted to be taking part in the 5th Book Birthday celebrations for a rather special book: Jane Cable's The Cheesemaker's House. I have a great Author interview as well as the chance to win a paperback copy of The Cheesemaker's House. Details on how to enter the Giveaway are at the foot of this post. 

Just think, Alice, right now Owen could be putting a hex on you!

When Alice Hart’s husband runs off with his secretary, she runs off with his dog to lick her wounds in a North Yorkshire village. Battling with loneliness but trying to make the best of her new start, she soon meets her neighbours, including the drop-dead gorgeous builder Richard Wainwright and the kindly yet reticent cafe´ owner, Owen Maltby.

As Alice employs Richard to start renovating the barn next to her house, all is not what it seems. Why does she start seeing Owen when he clearly isn’t there? Where - or when - does the strange crying come from? And if Owen is the village charmer, what exactly does that mean?

The Cheesemaker’s House is a gripping read, inspired by a framed will found in the dining room of the author’s dream Yorkshire house. The previous owners explained that the house had been built at the request of the village cheesemaker in 1726 - and that the cheesemaker was a woman. And so the historical aspect of the story was born.

Jane Cable’s novel won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Show People’s Novelist competition, reaching the last four out of over a thousand entries. The Cheesemaker’s House can be enjoyed by anyone who has become bored of today’s predictable boy-meets-girl romance novels.

“I desperately want to find out about Owen; a fascinating character... the gift here is to make you want to read on.”

Jeffrey Archer


Welcome to  Books, Life and Everything, Jane. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing.

Would you like to start by telling us a little about yourself and how you started as a writer?

I’ve always written. My father was an english teacher and a poet so it just came naturally. But it wasn’t until I was in my forties that I managed to complete a full length manuscript. In fact I completed three, but none of them was remotely publishable although it was all good practice and entertained my friends and my mother.

At the time I was running my own accountancy business but also freelancing as a cricket journalist. That honed my writing skills in a different way and helped me start to develop a voice, but I knew nothing about writing novels and it never occurred to me that I needed to.

The Cheesemaker’s House was your debut book. Could you tell us a little about how it came to be published?

It may have been the first book I felt could be published but it was the fifth I’d written. I knew it was better than the others and my mother persuaded me to enter it for The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition. It reached the final but one of the judges, Sophie Hannah, told me that although it had real potential it needed a lot of work so I took myself off to Winchester Writers’ Festival and basically learnt all about structure, plot, show and tell and all the other vital skills a professional novelist needs.

But The Cheesemaker’s House is very much a ghost story and something I discovered is that most publishers are scared of ghosts. After a number of rejections I went to a self publishing conference and came across Matador. I was really impressed with their expertise so decided I would bring out the book with them.

What was the inspiration behind The Cheesemaker’s House?

The Cheesemake's House- side view of barn
Without doubt it was the house itself. My husband and I bought it but never actually lived in it, but all the same it was our dream home. In was a higgledy-piggledy sort of place, started in 1726 and finished in the 1960s, but more importantly it had a huge garden with wonderful views of the Yorkshire Moors in the distance.

On your website, you describe the setting in The Cheesemaker’s House as ‘almost another character’. Could you explain a little more?

The house really informs the story – it couldn’t have been set anywhere else. From its location on the village green, to the barn
garden room door
which desperately needed love and care, every nook and cranny seemed to hold a secret.

My writing is very driven by place – the setting always come first and the characters follow. And the settings are always real. I think it because I’m asking readers to suspend disbelief, a solid base to start from always helps.

How did you go about researching the house in the story?

Author studies the original lease
The story of the house was given to me on a plate – well, in a large envelope – by the previous owners, so that part was easy. What was more difficult was finding out what everyday life would have been like for ordinary people in Yorkshire in the 1720s. In the end I turned to a book about folklore I found in my father’s library and that was a real stroke of luck because it was there I read about charmers who would become so central to the story.

Have you three words which sum up The Cheesemaker’s House?

Mysterious, compelling, romance

Apart from writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?   

I definitely have the travel bug. There’s so much world to see and I plan to spend increasing amounts of time on the road. I’m interested in history and archaeology, both in terms of visiting and learning, and having moved to Cornwall I try to walk every day. I love being in the water too and want to spend more time bodyboarding and swimming in the sea.
Have you any writing projects underway which you can share with us?

I’m sorry – if I told you I’d have to kill you!


My Thoughts

The Cheesemaker's House is just up my street! It has some intriguing characters, a slightly mysterious and unnerving setting and some genuinely unsettling moments. With definite ghostly overtones and a storyline which takes you on a journey into the past, it sent shivers down my spine. At times, you can feel that you are there in the house and imagine the effect it has on Alice, Owen and even Richard. You are kept guessing as to whether Alice is experiencing ghosts or whether it is all imagined and I love that.

    You see the story through Alice's eyes and feel her reactions to the events which appear to be happening. Richard and Owen are such contrasting characters but you come to realise that most of the villagers know something about Owen which Alice does not, at first. I particularly liked the secondary characters, especially Margaret who seems to be something of a 'wise woman', watching over from a distance. Another woman who sparked my curiosity turned out to be Owen's Grandmother, who died before the story began. She seems to have had such a strong effect on Owen and of course had her own part to play in the overall action.

   The most dominant part of the story has to be the Cheesemaker's House itself which has stood there for hundreds of years. It is so vividly described that you feel that you can absolutely visualise it and breathe it in. Time has its own fluidity and there are echoes from the past everywhere. I can thoroughly recommend this as an engaging read, full of atmosphere and emotion. The author skilfully blends together twin strands, centuries apart and the emotion is tangible but never sentimental.

In short: Romance with a touch of the supernatural.

About the Author

Although brought up in Cardiff, Jane Cable left Wales to study at the age of eighteen and has lived in England ever since. Her father was Anglo-Welsh poet Mercer Simpson so growing up in a house full of books Jane always read – and wrote. In 2011 she started to take her hobby seriously when The Cheesemaker’s House, which became her debut novel, reached the final of The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition. She writes romance with a twist of mystery which has been published independently and through the UK ebook giant, Endeavour Press. Jane is an active member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a director of Chindi Authors.

In 2017 Jane moved to Cornwall and this year will become a full time author. She’s passionate about her new home, cricket, travelling and her husband of 22 years – although not necessarily in that order.

You can follow Jane here: Website   |  Twitter   |  Facebook

Book links: Amazon UK   |  Waterstones   |  Kobo   |  iBooks  

Thanks to Jane Cable and Rachel of Rachel's Random Resources for a copy of the book and a place on the tour.

Don't forget the rest of the tour!

Giveaway  (UK only)

To win a paperback copy of The Cheesemaker's House, just Follow and Retweet the pinned tweet at @bookslifethings. Closing Date is Friday 10th August 2018 and there is one winner- UK only. 
Good luck!


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