Book~Reviews, Giveaway Prizes, Impress Books

The Joyce Girl @annabelabbs ~ #Bloomsday @ImpressBooks1 #WIN #Signed Edition


To celebrate a year of publication Impress Books have given us a beautiful signed first edition of The Joyce Girl  and luxury chocolates to giveaway to one lucky reader of Love Book Group.

Here is the review we ran earlier this year, have a wee read and enter the giveaway at the end.

My Review ~ Spoiler Free 

Lucia Joyce

Today I have my review of The Joyce Girl By Annabel Abbs. The book is beautifully written. It’s very enjoyable to read and it flows easily.  Actors say when they make movie biographies and they spend so long learning about the character they play that they get a special unique experience. If that’s the case then I hope it goes for writers too. Because I truly want to believe that the spirit of Lucia Joyce, was with Annabel Abbs as she wrote The Joyce Girl. Looking on with pride and love for Annabel’s wonderful work.

Normally, I start my book and I try to read as much as I can over two or three sittings. As I began the book I realised my normal reading practice of forming the characters in my head would not work. As Lucia and her family were real people. So I googled for some photos, then I found a voice recording of James Joyce and so I had it in my head. This is not necessary for the enjoyment of the book. It was just a person thing of mine.

The book takes us through the avant-garde Paris to London and Zurich. I have been to Paris and it is a City with a heartbeat of culture and love. It is captured exquisitely in the book.

As I turned each page, I grew more and more in love with Lucia Joyce and her passion for dance and love. The characters and their journey are brought to life. Her unusual family lifestyle and living in the shadows of Mr James Joyce.

The book would have taken a lot of research and you can tell it was written with care and attention to details.  It covers an array of many topics. With so many strong characters.

The Joyce Family.
Lucia Joyce
The Joyce Family

This is a must read, even if your TBR pile is so high.  After finishing the book I wanted to learn much more about Miss Joyce. Lucky there are some wonderful links on Annabel Abb’s website.

Twitter ~ @annabelabbs
Buy your copy of The Joyce Girl BY Annabel Abbs ~ Published By Impress Books ~ Amazon Click Here


The Cover & Description



The Joyce Girl tells the fictionalised story of Lucia Joyce’s affair with a young Samuel Beckett and then a young Alexander Calder. The only daughter of Irish author, James Joyce, and Nora Barnacle, Lucia aspired to be a modern dancer. Talented and ambitious, she trained with many of the most famous dancers of her time. The novel switches between past and present as Lucia retells her story to the pioneering psychoanalyst, Doctor Carl Jung, who she was sent to by her father to take the ‘talking cure.’

A story of thwarted ambition and the destructive love of a father, The Joyce Girl is a true story but imagined where facts were unavailable.

Described by the author, Emma Darwin, as “a gripping and little-known story at the heart of one of the twentieth century’s most astonishing creative moments…researched deeply and brought to richly-imagined life.”

Profits from the first year UK royalties go to YoungMinds in memory of Lucia Joyce, who spent most of her life in an asylum.


About Annabel Abb’s 

Annabel Abbs

Annabel Abbs grew up in Wales and Sussex, with stints in Dorset, Bristol and Hereford. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of East Anglia and a Masters in Marketing from the University of Kingston. After fifteen years running a consultancy, she took a career break to bring up her four children, before returning to her first love, literature.

Her debut novel, The Joyce Girl, won the 2015 Impress Prize for New Writing and the 2015 Spotlight First Novel Award, and was longlisted for the 2015 Caledonia Novel Award and the 2015 Bath Novel Award. Her short stories and journalism have appeared in various places including Mslexia,  The Guardian, The Irish Times, Weekend Australian Review, Elle, The Author, The Daily Telegraph, Psychologies and the Huffington Post. She has been profiled in Writing Magazine, Sussex Life, Next NZ, Litro and Female First, Her blog,, featured in the Daily Telegraph in August 2015 and May 2016. She lives in London and Sussex with her family and an old labrador.




To enter our exclusive giveaway CLICK TO ENTER ~ GOOD LUCK

UK Only ~ Ends 23/06/2017 Winner picked at random by Rafflecopter

Miss Lucia Joyce 

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Lucia Joyce

One of the last photographs taken of Lucia Joyce (Source: ) she died on the 12th December 1982, aged 75.

My heart is now etched with never ending compassion and love for  Lucia Joyce. Thank you so much, Annabel Abbs. I don’t think I would have gotten to know her if it hadn’t been for you. Much Love, Kelly xx



Book Blog, Impress Books

Widdershins By Helen Steadman @hsteadman1650 ‏@ImpressBooks1 #Review

Widdershins By Helen Steadman
Impress Books ~ 01/07/17

© KAL Photography 2017

My Review

The Cover:

It’s beautiful, with the two silhouetted figures against the shrubbery and herbs. With the vanilla colouring and bold browns and deep purple. It looks very elegant and important.

I must also mention the fabulous way it was delivered from Impress to myself and fellow bloggers.  Wrapped in brown paper and tied up with white string, with a simple snippet of rosemary. The smell, as you opened the package, was delightful and unexpected. I wish all book post was both visually stunning and fragrant.

My favourite Quote/Sentence:

I didn’t have a favourite quote this time around but I did have words I had never heard before in my puff. Here are a few:


There was many much more but these made me have to think. Also ‘Singing Hinnies’ made me have to get the old Google out and have a search.

My Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, it was a journey of adventure even before I gently tore away the brown paper packaging. The book had a lovely calm feel about it. As I said before its elegant cover draws you in.  I would definitely recommend it and my friends would be surprised as historical fiction is really not my favourite. But the way Widdershins is written you don’t feel like your getting fact after fact rammed down your neck. You are merely an ear to a fantastic story.


I enjoyed both of the main characters. Hearing their journey’s and the outcome.  I hated Johns father and my heart broke for him with the beatings and little Jinny.  But Helen Steadman put me right in the scene as if I was a ghost.  That’s how I felt throughout the book, that I was there listening and watching. Smelling the herbs and potions.


The book is very well paced, I was never bored only excited for what was to come.

I highly recommend this to book to everyone who loves a story with heart and history.

Back Of The Book

Did all women have something of the witch about them?’ Jane Chandler is an apprentice healer. From childhood, she and her mother have used herbs to cure the sick. But Jane will soon learn that her sheltered life in a small village is not safe from the troubles of the wider world. From his father’s beatings to his uncle’s raging sermons, John Sharpe is beset by bad fortune. Fighting through personal tragedy, he finds his purpose: to become a witch-finder and save innocents from the scourge of witchcraft. Inspired by true events, ‘Widdershins’ tells the story of the women who were persecuted and the men who condemned them.

Pre-Order your copy today ~ Amazon UK

Widdershins blog tour

Who was the real Scottish witch-finder behind the Newcastle witch trials?

There is no definitive evidence as to who the Newcastle witch pricker was. In my novel, Widdershins, my witch finder is the fictitious John Sharpe.

However, one possibility is that the Newcastle witch-finder might have been John Kincaid, the notorious witch pricker from Tranent in the south east of Scotland. Certainly, he was testing people in North Berwick shortly before the Newcastle witch trials. So, as he was a hundred miles away pricking people to determine whether or not they were guilty of witchcraft, it’s not inconceivable that Kincaid was the witch-pricker invited to cleanse Newcastle of its alleged infestation of witches.

  1. Webster’s Collection of Rare and Curious Tracts on Witchcraft includes a declaration from John Kincaid, Pricker, when he was in Dirlton in June 1649. This declaration was witnessed by six local officiaries. Kincaid’s declaration discusses how he tested a man and his spouse for witchcraft.

It seems that the couple in question, Patrik Watsone and Menie Halyburtoun, presented themselves voluntarily to Kincaid at Dirlton Castle near North Berwick in Scotland. After testing them with a pricking device, Kincaid claimed ‘I found the divillis marke upon the bak syde of the said Patrik Watsone…’ and ‘…upon the left syde of the said Menie Halyburtoune hir neck a littill above her left shoulder…’ He found them both guilty after pricking the devil’s marks he claimed to find about their persons, and after finding that these marks were insensible and did not bleed.

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Witches consort with the devil in North Berwick (Source: Newes from Scotland)

Following Kincaid’s revelation, the deposition of Menie Halyburtoune (again witnessed by six local officiaries) on 1 July 1649, subsequently detailed her copulating with the devil, following this spectacle being reported by her husband.

John Kincaid of Tranent was still at large as late as 1661, when he was reported in Dalkeith in Scotland. Here, he tested a woman called Janet Peaston, claiming he’d found two devil’s marks upon her body.  When Kincaid pricked these marks, the woman felt no pain, and no blood was let. In fact, so little pain did she feel when pricked, she was unable to correctly identify the points on her body where she had been pricked. This is surprising, given that ‘they being preins of thrie inches or thairabout’. Yet, Kincaid still subscribed to his test under oath and this test was witnessed by seven people, among them, the local minister and elders, including a Major.

We may never know the identity of Scottish witch-finder employed by Newcastle, but John Kincaid was a notorious witch-pricker who worked in the borders between Scotland and north-east England, and so he is certainly one possibility worth considering.


Newes from Scotland (1591) ‘Declaring the damnable life of Doctor Fian a notable sorcerer, who was burned at Edenbrough in Ianuarie last.’ London: William Wright (in Special Collection Ferguson Al-a.36 at Glasgow University).

  1. Sands (1881) Sketches of Tranent in the Olden Time, Pitcairns’ Justiciary Records, vol 111., p. 602 in Chapter 3 ‘Witchcraft, 1591’.
  2. Webster (1820) Collection of Rare and Curious Tracts on Witchcraft and the Second Sight; with an Original Essay on Witchcraft, Edinburgh: Thomas Webster.

Thank you to Impress Books for the opportunity to be on the tour and to the wonderfully talented Helen Steadman for her beautiful book. 

We are running a Twitter giveaway ~ head over to our Twitter Page and see the pinned post.


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Author, Favourite Five, Impress Books

He’s Gone @_AlexandraClare @ImpressBooks1 #FavFive


How do you find a missing child when his mother doesn’t believe you have the right to even exist? When Detective Inspector Roger Bailley returns to work as Robyn, all she wants is to get on with the job she loves while finally being herself. When toddler Ben Chivers is snatched from a shopping centre on her first day back at work, Robyn has to find Ben and herself as she deals with the reactions of her police colleagues, the media, and her own daughter.

#Favourite Five with Alex Clare 


What’s your favourite book cover by another author and why?

Can I cheat and pick a category? I have a real weakness for golden age crime and love the new British Library series of books, with their wonderful, vibrant covers. They are instantly recognisable and put you straight into the mood of the story before you even open the book.

Where is your favourite place to read? 

The prospect of a long journey with a new book is always a very exciting one. I do treasure times when I can get really immersed in a story.

What is your favourite snack to nibble, whilst reading?

I don’t snack and read (too high a risk of marking the book) but I do sometimes try drink-matching, so coffee with a contemporary, city novel or a glass of port with a golden age detective story.

What is your favourite book and why?

My favourite book is Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy largely because my favourite character is Bathsheba Everdene. She was feisty before the word was invented, clever but sometimes did some idiotic things and I think would be right at home in the 21st century.

 Who is your least favourite book character?

Waldo is one of those people who would be enormously improved by death.’ Saki (HH Munro) The Feast of Nemesis

Thank you to Alex Clare for taking part on the blog today and for the team @ImpressBooks1

You can purchase your own copy of ‘He’s Gone’ here: Amazon UK



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