Chase BookFest-Cannock Chase’s first book festival devoted to women’s popular fiction and thrillers Saturday 21st September 2019.

 Anyone local to Staffordshire or Cheshire might be interested in the first Chase BookFest taking place on Saturday 21st September. If you want to know more then read on…


Authors Phillipa Ashley and Kim Nash have joined forces with the Museum of Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, to create a book festival where book lovers are invited to meet some of the UK’s most popular authors.


The Chase BookFest will be held at the Museum of Cannock Chase, Valley Road, Hednesford on Saturday 21 September 2019.


The event is Cannock Chase’s first book festival devoted to women’s popular fiction and thrillers. It has attracted a host of star names including Milly Johnson, Cathy Bramley, Miranda Dickinson, Iona Grey, Nicola May, Mark Edwards and many more best-selling and award-winning popular novelists. 


Readers will be able to enjoy author readings and join in question and answer sessions and discussions with favourite writers from the local area and further afield.


They can even have tea with an author by booking onto‘Tea and Conversation’ audiences with Sunday Times best sellers Milly Johnson in conversation with Cathy Bramley, Romantic Novel Awards winner Iona Grey, best-selling crime thriller writer 

K.L. Slater and number one best-selling novelist Mark Edwards.


A pop-up Waterstones book shop will be on site for the day along with a variety of book and craft stalls and a unique book-themed ‘Yarnbombing’ display outside. 


Bestselling author Phillipa Ashley said: “The support for previous events shows how much popular fiction is loved by readers.  We’re thrilled that the Museum has been so supportive of this event and of fiction in general.” 


Author and Head of Publicity at publisher Bookouture,Kim Nash said: “We’ve been so lucky to get so many amazing authors on board and would love to thank them all for being so enthusiastic about the festival.’ 


Lee Bellingham, Museum Services Manager for Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles, said: “The museum has been hosting very popular ‘Meet the Author’ events for some time now, and along with local authors Phillipa Ashley, Kim Nash and the book loving members of staff, we thought it would be lovely to have a book festival here. We are thrilled to be the venue for the first ever Chase BookFest.


Events like this showcase the museum not just as a home for local history, but as a community venue for arts and cultural activities. We look forward to welcoming authors from around the country to Cannock Chase for the day.”


The day runs 10am until 4pm with tickets available for £3 by calling the museum on 01543 877 666. Tea and Conversation with an author costs £5 and includes tea or coffee and cake, and Q&A Panels cost £3.  Don’t miss the chance to meet your favourite author, book in advance to avoid disappointment.   Please see the museum Facebook page and website,, for timetables and start planning your BookFest!




The Lost Child by Emily Gunnis #bookreview

About this book…

Some novels hold you in their spell and never let you go…

Unravel the mystery of The Lost Child. Read the heartwrenching new novel from the author of the international bestseller The Girl in the Letter, Emily Gunnis.

A tragic death. A missing baby. A long-kept secret… 

1960. Thirteen-year-old Rebecca and her mother live in fear of Rebecca’s father’s violent temper. As a storm batters Seaview Cottage one night, Rebecca hears a visitor at the door and an argument ensues. By the time the police arrive, the visitor has fled and both Rebecca’s parents are dead. No one believes Rebecca’s story that she heard a stranger downstairs…

2014. Iris, a journalist, is sent to cover the story of a new mother on the run with her desperately ill baby, as the police race against time to find them. When the trail leads back to Seaview Cottage, the childhood home of Iris’s own mother, Rebecca, Iris must unravel the events of the night Rebecca is desperate to forget for Seaview Cottage to give up its secrets.

My review…

Much as I loved The Girl in the Letter, The Lost Child is just so much better! I loved everything about it and felt completely and utterly emotionally shattered by the time I had finished it. This book is a beautifully brought to life journey that once started is impossible to stop. Emily Guniss has obviously put her heart and soul into The Lost Child and it has paid dividends.

I love a dual timeline and here, although the main events are set during 2014, there are flashbacks to 1960 (and even earlier) as journalist Iris investigates how events from the past are connected to a missing mum on the run with her seriously ill baby. The key event that is related to every event since, is the night in 1960 when 13 year old Rebecca loses both her parents to violent deaths. Her father had mental health issues but Rebecca is determined that she heard a stranger visit their home that night…

I adored this book from start to finish! Emily Gunnis writes so beautifully that it’s just satisfyingly easy to become completely involved in the lives of her perfectly drawn characters. She breathes life into every single one of them so that they become real, flesh and blood personas who warrant our emotional responses to their dilemmas. The story she tells is a sad one where nobody seems to be living the happy life they should, all experiencing guilt over circumstances that shouldn’t affect them. But it’s a fact that during this period of history it was deemed normal to keep quiet and not talk about incidents in the open leading to family secrets that were squirrelled away to be lost (or uncovered at a future date) to much distress.

Those recurring themes of motherhood, birth and loss are implicitly linked throughout this powerful narrative. These intertwined the events taking place throughout the different time periods and I know I should have had an inkling where things were going but I was completely shocked once all the clues came together. And I don’t mind admitting that I sobbed my way through the last few pages!

A wonderfully woven novel, full of family secrets that will sweep you away into another time. I loved it more than I could possibly convey in words.

Meet the author…

I’ve wanted to be an author since my mum, Penny Vincenzi, got her first book deal when I was 13. We’d spend hours walking and talking about the worlds her characters inhabited and unpicking any plot dead ends she’d found herself in. I absolutely loved it – this is what I wanted to do!

Fast forward 30 years and I’ve discovered it’s a great deal harder than my mother made it look! But still, here I am.

After graduating I wrote scripts and had two episodes of BBC Doctors commissioned but didn’t like all the input from Script Editors and Producers. So, while I worked in various PA jobs I decided to go for it and just kept learning as much as I could until I sold my debut novel, The Girl in the Letter, which is published on eBook on 1st August 2018 and paperback in April 2019. I really hope you enjoy it, and my follow-up novel which I’m busy researching now!

I live in Sussex with my husband Steve and our two beautiful girls, Grace and Eleanor. 

If you’d like to get in touch please visit me on Twitter @EmilyGunnis, Instagram @emilygunnis and Facebook @emilygunnisauthor.

And if you do read my book, I’d love to know what you think.

Keep reading!

Love Emily x

The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A Denzil @bookouture

About this book…


Ten years ago, a boy named Samuel Murraywent missing from the quiet village of Buckthorpe and was never seen again.

Rosie Sharpe cried over her missing friend for weeks after.
But her little sister Heather knows that Rosie’s tears hide the truth. 
Because the night Samuel was last seen, Heather watched her older sister climbing back through the window of their childhood bedroom. Her jacket torn, her eyes wild and her body trembling with fear.

Heather never told anyone what she saw, but secrets can’t stay buried forever…

A decade later, Rosie and Heather return to the home they grew up in when their mother falls ill. But when their house is ransacked and they receive a threatening note, it becomes clear that someone in the close-knit village doesn’t want them there.

When Heather finally confronts her sister about what really happened on the dark, rainy night Samuel vanished, Rosie’s version of the truth is more shocking than she could ever have imagined. But can she trust her sister? And who broke into their house that night? As the lies of the past begin to unravel, they have the power to put the lives of both women in terrible danger…

My review…

Sarah A Denzil is fast becoming a favourite go-to author where I know I can pick up one of her books without reading the blurb and know that it will deliver the type of twisty psychological thriller that I love. The Liar’s Sister definitely lived up to my expectations and I loved how much it made me want more whenever I tried to put it down.

Heather is back in her childhood home looking after her mother who has terminal cancer. Her sister Rosie hasn’t been home since she disgraced herself at her fathers funeral 5 years ago but Heather needs to get her back home to be with her mother in her final days. But Heather is estranged from her sister due to a big secret in their past, that she saw her sister leaving the house on the night her friend Samual disappeared and found her bracelet outside the next day. The girls have never spoken about Heathers suspicions but being thrown together causes sparks and accusations to fly. But the truth may not be as obvious as it appears…

This was so creepy at times due to the small village location where everyone seemed to be keeping secrets from everyone else. It frustrated me that Heather and Rosie didn’t have a more open relationship and didn’t feel they could trust each other to speak about the night that Samuel disappeared. But the author built upon that mistrust to maintain a high level of suspicion that surrounded every character that appeared. But still the truth, when revealed, was far more shocking than I had been expecting and so was well worth the wait! The twists were perfectly pitched to fit in with the storyline and organically crafted so that it wasn’t all about the denouement but the family relationships that lead up to it.

Sarah A Denzil always delivers for me and this addictive and shocking plot was the perfect skeleton to flesh out with intriguing characters and an unsettling setting so that everything came together perfectly. There’s nothing like a good family secret to set everyone off against each other is there?!

A highly enjoyable read!

Meet the author…

Sarah A. Denzil is a British suspense writer from Derbyshire. In her alternative life–AKA Sarah Dalton–she writes speculative fiction for teenagers, including The Blemished, Mary Hades and White Hart.

Sarah lives in Yorkshire with her partner, enjoying the scenic countryside and rather unpredictable weather. 

Saving April, Sarah’s debut suspense thriller, is a psychological look into the minds of the people around us who we rarely even consider – our neighbours. What do we really know about them, and what goes on when the doors are closed?

The Regret by Dan Malakin @Bloodhoundbook @DanMalakin

About this book…

What if someone wanted to ruin your life?

Rachel Stone’s world was destroyed by a stalker, Alan Griffin. After he went to prison, she rebuilt her life.

Now she has a three-year-old daughter and is in a new relationship. But someone is stalking her again. Her phone, her emails and her social media are hacked.

Rachel believes it’s Griffin, out of prison and looking for revenge. She needs to find him and make him leave her alone. But as Rachel is drawn into a hunt, she realises that something even more horrific is happening – something that will make her confront the childhood that has lingered like a ghost, and will force her to face the truth about her new life.

Is Griffin the one ruining her life? Or someone else, far more dangerous, responsible?

My review…

This is one scary book! Not in a horror kind of way but in an “OMG that is just too close to home” kind of way where the plot is so realistic and relevant to today’s society that you immediately become very cautious about your own life experiences! It’s definitely going to take me a lot longer to check my emails in future not to mention covering those laptop cameras with tape…

Rachel Stone is a nurse, just an ordinary mum of one, in a new relationship with her partner and, although cautious, a user of everyday technology just as we all are. But Rachel is hiding a secret from her past. When she was younger, she had a stalker who terrorised her and ended up serving a jail sentence. So it’s no surprise that when Rachel starts to experience problems with her social media and email accounts, the first person she thinks of is Alan Griffin especially when she finds out he has recently been released form prison. As Rachel fights to protect her family, her job and her life she doesn’t know who to trust or turn to but in order to find out she needs to revisit the shocking events of her past.

This is one of those books that completely takes over your life as you desperately fly through the pages searching for answers to your questions. Rachel is somewhat naive when it comes to trusting people and I did get very frustrated by her at times. But once things start to come to light about her past, you understand why and are just as desperate as she is to work out who is doing this to her and why. Is there more to the stalker story than she’s letting on?

This book is so frightening because you can see how easy it is for it to happen and I’m pretty sure a lot of it HAS happened in real life! The author definitely know his stuff and writes with a confidence in his research that gives his book its alarming voice of authority. The technology behind the hacking is quite in-depth in its detailing and is presented by the antagonist with a cruel, almost matter of fact and unemotional, detachment. And although Rachel could be frustratingly naive and annoying at times I did feel completely powerless watching things develop, just as she was.

Dan Malakin is an incredibly talented author with a natural ability for storytelling that makes his characters feel very lifelike. The plot flows perfectly here and once it all came together at the end, I put the book down with a highly satisfied sigh. Yep, I really loved this one and can definitely recommend it all.

Meet the author…

When not writing, Dan works as a data security consultant, demonstrating to corporations that should know better just how easy it is for hackers to access their most sensitive information. As a writer, his short stories have been widely published both in print and online, and he has twice been shortlisted for the Bridport prize. His debut novel, The Regret, was published by Bloodhound Books in Summer 2019. He lives in North London with his wife, daughter, and very, very hairy dog.

Lazy Sunday Morning Catch Up On My Chestnut Reading Tree #goodbyeAugust #helloSeptember #minireviews

I can’t believe that it’s September already! Where have the last six weeks gone?! Now you may (or may not!) have noticed that My Chestnut Reading Tree has been rather quiet over the last six weeks but I decided to give myself some time away from the blog to get some much needed R&R and to catch up on all those little things I needed to do. It’s been wonderful having a little social media break and although it’s been a struggle not to constantly be on my phone sharing and interacting, it was much needed and I’m now refreshed and back with a bang! Well, not really but here’s what I’ve been up to the last six weeks!


The last day of term also signalled my annual trip to the Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. It was a stressful journey over as it’s the first time I’ve driven but it’s something I would definitely do again, especially as next year the Harrogate weekend is a week later so it won’t be coinciding with all the summer holidays traffic! I had a fabulous weekend catching up with old friends and making new ones although as usual I hardly took any photos and had to steal everyone else’s when I got home.

Here I am with miss damppebbles, my lovely roomie and #blogbestie Emma Welton, alongside authors Peter Swanson and Mike Craven.

My course…

Another reason I’ve been away from my blog over the last few weeks is because I stupidly signed up for a course forgetting that it didn’t start in September but from the date you signed up! So every two weeks I’ve had assessment deadlines that I’ve had to fit in! I’ve throughly enjoyed studying again after the course I did in Understanding the Care and Management of Diabetes last year. This time I’ve also chosen a work related course and I’m studying Understanding Behaviour that Challenges. I’m nearly half way through now and have passed the first two units with flying colours! Might have to sign up for another course afterwards as I find it keeps my brain ticking over nicely and challenges my terrible memory for words that keep slipping away from me at times.

My holiday…

I had the best time in Italy for a week with my eldest daughter and granddaughter, a yearly tradition now but possibly the last one as she gets married next year! We visited Sorrento, the island of Capri and Pompeii inbetween lots of resting around in the glorious sunshine, swimming and reading (DD#1 is a big reader too). I put on half a stone due to the amazing food in our hotel so I’m now going to spend the next few weeks getting back on track with my healthy eating and get that back off (why is it not as easy to take off as it is to put on?!).

Holiday Reading..

Now I normally take (and read!!) a book a day on holiday but this time we were so busy and tired at the end of the day that I only read 4!! And one of those was the last chapter of a book I was already reading and that I finished on the plane over! But here’s my round up of those 4…

The Assistant by S.K. Tremayne

This one isn’t out until December but it’s a compelling and addictive read that is well worth popping onto your wish list. It’s a topical and controversial storyline based around the use of a Home Assistant called Electra that runs everything so beautifully in the flat that Jo is living in. But this home Assistant seems to do more than turn the lights on and give the weather (which is what our lovely Alexa does for us!) and when she starts telling Jo that she knows her secrets it’s the start of a nightmare for Jo who struggles to get people to believe her, especially since Jo has a family history of mental health issues. I completely gobbled up this book as it grabbed my attention from the blurb initially and then because I just couldn’t believe what I was reading! The twists and turns come thick and fast and there are some very shocking and unexpected ones thrown in there as well! It’s a book that gathers speed throughout so that by the time you’re approaching the denouement, all your senses are increased and you will be desperate to find out what’s been going on and why! For me this is the authors best book since The Ice Twins. Loved it!

The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood

I had been really looking forward to this one as I’m a huge Alex Marwood fan. So I bought the hardback version as a treat and it was well worth it! There is a very different vibe to the storyline here but it is still the same dark and compelling plotting that I’ve come to expect from Alex Marwood. After a slightly shaky start, it crept up on me until I was completely hooked, rather like being gradually taken over and mesmerised by the cult leader who is creepily brought to life in The Poison Garden. This isn’t a fast paced thriller full of twists and turns but more of a fascinating character driven study of how cults affect the mental health of those taken in by them. There is no sense of “right or wrong” judgement by the author as she sets her events in motion, just a realistic and completely understandable journey for those involved. My heart was full of emotions and compassion for those characters who’s actions would have been deplorable in “the real world” but Alex Marwood gives them so much depth that their reasoning makes complete sense to the reader. Beautifully written and expertly crafted this is a book that will stay with me for some time.

Don’t Tell Teacher by Suzy K Quinn

This one fascinated my granddaughter who had read the blurb on the back and I ended up having to explain what the book was about so that she didn’t worry but no spoilers for you! This is a great twisty novel that keeps you on your toes and guessing throughout. It certainly got me frustrated whilst I tried to work out what the hell was going on with the new school that Lizzie sends her 8 year old son to after her very nasty divorce! It was very dark and menacing with a fabulous sting in its “tale” and gripped me from start to finish. I can’t wait to read more from this author as she spins a great story that is very readable and realistic. Compelling and shocking!

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

This was my very first read on The Pigeonhole app which I recently downloaded and can highly recommend. You chose a book and then on a certain date you get the first “stave” and then another one everyday until the end of the book. It’s a great way to connect with other readers as well as it’s like a big old buddy read where you can chat about what’s happened at the end of that stave or leave comments throughout. Word of warning on that point though is that sometimes if others talk about what they think is going to happen it may act as a spoiler so just beware!

Rewind has a unique storyline and presentation that worked really well for me. A voyeuristic holiday home manager gets more than he bargained for when he witnesses a nasty murder one night. Andrew will put you in mind of Norman Bates in Psycho but this twisty thriller is not what you think it is and will keep you guessing throughout as to who is responsible and why. It’s a brilliantly crafted, addictive storyline that plays on our obsession with social media and delivers an horrific experience into how it’s taking over our everyday lives. Gripping and intense with a compelling storyline, I was sucked into each stave and couldn’t wait for the next one to appear each morning. Loved it!

So that’s me all caught up and up to date now! I’ve got some reviews coming up and a few blog tours as well but I’m now back on track with my reading and reviewing. Tomorrow it’s back to school for 2 staff training days before the children come back on Wednesday and I’m looking forward to the challenges in the new school year ahead. And it will soon be Christmas time again 😉

Happy reading

Jo x

The Apartment by K.L. Slater @KimLSlater @midaspr @audibleuk

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for The Apartment by K.L. Slater. Huge thanks to Anna at Midas PR for my invite onto the tour.

About this book…

They say every cloud has a silver lining…. 

When Freya Miller is struck by tragedy, losing her husband and her home within a short time, she is burdened with many worries. The main one being where she and her five-year old daughter, Skye, are going to live. A chance meeting with the charismatic Dr Marsden changes all that. He offers the young mother the most amazing opportunity; an apartment at one of London’s most exclusive addresses for a fraction of the market rental cost. It’s an offer Freya simply can’t refuse. Within a couple of weeks, Freya and Skye are moving into Adder House and meeting the other welcoming residents. They very quickly feel part of the family.

But just when Freya truly believes all her problems are history, a series of strange, unexplained occurrences begin. It leaves Freya with the unshakeable feeling that even when their apartment door is securely locked, she and her daughter are not alone. Freya thought she’d left all her troubles behind her yet she soon realises there are problems here that are far more terrifying than before.  

For behind the doors of Adder House, everything is most definitely not as it seems.  

Old secrets refuse to stay buried and someone is determined to keep a terrible past, very much alive. 

My review…

I devour all of K.L. Slaters books but this time I listened to one on Audible and had a very different but thoroughly enjoyable experience! The Apartment has an incredibly creepy and atmospheric storyline that worked perfectly as an audiobook and I though Tuppence Middleton performed her parts perfectly. Often I’m put off an audiobook if the narrator doesn’t work for me but that certainly wasn’t the case here.

The Apartment has a real life case at its heart that is used as part of the narrative, looking back to an event in the past, but leaving the listener unsure as to how it connects in the present day. When something is too good to be true it usually is, so when Freya Miller is approached by a stranger whilst in a cafe who offers her somewhere to live for a peppercorn rent she can’t believe her luck! She has to move due to recent personal problems after the death of her husband. But being offered an apartment in Adder House, for herself and her 5 year old daughter Skye, means she can make a fresh start in one of the most salubrious parts of the city. She does get very strange vibes from the mysterious Dr Marsden but when she sees the apartment and meets the other residents she puts asides her worries and moves in. But then a series of strange occurrences take place and she starts to wonder about the secrets hidden within the walls of this prominent house and how to uncover them before they envelope her and Skye forever.

This was a suspenseful thriller that kept me guessing about the connection between the past and the present. The root of the truth is a fascinating true life case from the 1920s that I Googled as soon as I had finished The Apartment to find out more. It certainly made for shocking and harrowing reading. But I loved how K.L. Slater wound her own fictional and intriguing story around that case to marry the two ideas perfectly. The Apartment itself was an atmospheric setting that crackled with tension from all of its residents, none of whom I trusted once the strange events started to take place in Freya and Skye’s new home. I had no idea who was involved and who wasn’t (let alone why!) so I thoroughly enjoyed the finale when everything came together.

I’d recommend The Apartment without hesitation. Such a gripping storyline, I loved it!

Meet the author…

Kim is the million-copy best-selling author of eight standalone psychological crime thrillers. At the age of 40 Kim went back to university and now holds an MA in Creative Writing. Kim is a full-time writer and lives with her husband in Nottingham. She enjoys travelling, eating out, is an avid film fan and most of all, she loves reading across all genres.

Secrets of a Highland Warrior by Nicole Locke (Lochmore Legacy) #blogtour @rararesources

Today I’m delighted to be sharing my review of Secrets of a Highland Warrior by Nicole Locke which is the final book in the Lochmore Legacy series.

About this book…

The key to his past…

…lies with the enemy sharing his bed!

Part of The Lochmore Legacy: a Scottish castle through the ages! Rory Lochmore had expected to wage battle, to claim land and finally secure his standing within his clan… Instead he won a wife. A McCrieff wife. Their convenient marriage could unite the two long-feuding clans forever. But can a political alliance give way to a passion strong enough to stand the secrets of the past?

My review…

So it’s the final book in this brilliantly conceived series and what a book it is too! You can read any of The Lochmore Legacy books as standalone books but to be honest, half of the enjoyment for me has been working backwards through different time periods to get back to the mystery that has followed a Scottish castle through the generations. The books in order are:

His Convenient Highland Wedding (The Lochmore Legacy, Book 1) by Janice Preston

Unlaced By The Highland Duke (Mills & Boon Historical) (The Lochmore Legacy, Book 2) by Lara Temple

A Runaway Bride For The Highlander (Mills & Boon Historical) (The Lochmore Legacy, Book 3) by Elisabeth Hobbs

Secrets Of A Highland Warrior (Mills & Boon Historical) (The Lochmore Legacy, Book 4) by Nicole Locke

Rory Lochmore isn’t looking for a wife when he goes to reclaim his family’s land but it looks like a marriage of convenience to Ailsa McCrieff could bring their warring families together. And I thoroughly enjoyed this couples unconventional courtship! I had a picture in my head of Merida the Disney princess in Brave for some reason whenever I thought about Ailsa, probably due to the red hair but also due to a feeling of her being ahead of her time (this isn’t a criticism of the authors historical research!). There was a fire between Rory and Ailsa that really fitted perfectly into this series and gave us avid readers a fitting ending to this captivating series. Which brings me to the Epilogue which had me in tears as everything came together and all the ends were tied. Such an inspired finale to say goodbye to characters who have come to feel like family.

This is my first Nicole Locke romance and after what I’ve experienced in Secrets of a Highland Warrior, it certainly won’t be the last! And thank you to whoever came up with this concept and all the authors who made it such a pleasure to read and review.

Meet the author…

Nicole first discovered romance novels hidden in her grandmother’s closet. Convinced hidden books must be better, Nicole greedily read them. It was only natural she should start writing them (but now not so secretly).

If she isn’t working on the next book in her historical series, she can be reached at or on twitter @NicoleLockeNews!