Blind Side by Jennie Ensor


…  how preconceptions and prejudices can pervert the truth  Continue reading


#ReadingRhys with Shelley Day



…what it was about her work that grabbed me by the collar and wouldn’t let go Continue reading


Poppy Peacock … Limited Vocabulary … D minus



Poppy Peacock … with the lead pencil … in the library

words for murdering, not murdering words

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Jean Rhys: Letters 1931- 66



‘I never wanted to write… I was dragged into writing by a series of coincidences’

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Quartet by Jean Rhys


Penguin Modern Classics   1987 Edition


… Quartet must enter your literary pantheon

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Lost In Static by Christina Philippou


… a riveting undergraduate tale told from four opposing perspectives

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#ReadingRhys – Wide Sargasso Sea and Jane Eyre

WSS & Jane Eyre.jpg


Rhys makes us see the woman behind the words in all her flawed, terrified, bewildered beauty.

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Please, do not adjust your set…

… temporary problem with transmission.

A quick bear with update: here at Chez Peacock, my will – not to mention sanity – is certainly being tested. 

In my case it’s everything… but I won’t bore or burden you with my myriad of miseries; suffice to say this year both my reading, writing & blogging plans have suffered many interruptions through ill-timed circumstances and ill-health now affecting three generations.

But I am nothing, if not tenacious… and bizarrely, thankfully, balance is provided as we put the last plans in place to move my daughter to start Uni this week… despite her own disabilities, debillitations & ongoing ill-health. The feelgood factor and sense of achievement from that thankfully knocks the rest into a cocked-hat! 

So … hopefully, with a good wind and cessation of wax-effergy-like omens, normal services – indeed improved services – should resume by the 12th of Sept where I’m kicking off my return with blogging for #ReadingRhys and the backlog of overdue book reviews will be my game… looking forward to catching up with all of you then!
Poppy x


Wo-manning up for #WITMonth 2016






The idea of #WITmonth – far beyond just reading books by women writers in translation – is to spread the word about the specific problem of the lack of women writers in translation.’

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How To Be Brave 1st Birthday

How To Be Brave by Louise Beech


How To Be Brave 1st Birthday


Happy 1st Birthday to this extraordinary story & superb debut…

How To Be Brave by Louise Beech Continue reading

Sugar and Snails

Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin

Sugar and Snails


… an extraordinary tale of secrets, trust and identity Continue reading

A Certain Age

A Certain Age ~ Beatriz Williams

A Certain Age


a very bittersweet love triangle inspired by Richard Strauss’s opera Der Rosenkavalier Continue reading


Buy Buy Baby ~ Helen MacKinven 

A big fan of her debut Talk of the Toun I am delighted to welcome Helen MacKinven back to poppypeacockpens with the publication today of her second novel Buy Buy Baby … 

set in and around Glasgow, a moving and funny story of life, loss and longing’

Packed full of bitch banter, it follows the bittersweet quest of two very different women…


I don’t just talk to the dog, I answer back for him too.

‘It’s only 11% proof so dinnae  give me that look.’ Jinky’s stare held steady as I topped up my glass. ‘And it’s Friday night so give me a break, will you?’

‘Fair enough.’

Was it any worse than talking to yourself? Jinky crept back to his basket; I didn’t need the dog’s approval. The wine helped to take the edge off things and encouraged me to reach for the notebook … 

I’d promised my bereavement counsellor Charlotte that I would start keeping a journal of my thoughts and feelings. But now that I wasn’t a mum anymore, there was nothing to write about.


Mortgage, car loan, gym membership, designer wardrobe; it was a clutter fuck of debts. I literally couldn’t afford to miss the deadline. I had until three o’clock to submit an article to Business Scottish, one of my key clients, and with my own accounts a mess, I needed this contract to pay the mortgage…

How can a business journalist, with a shelf full of awards, end up with three maxed-out credit cards? 

It was embarrassing to say the least.

[But having split with her partner, Julia has taken to online dating…]

I’d alluded to seeking a long term partner (without any mention of the ‘B’ word) and hoped it wasn’t too scary a prospect for most men. It was a no brained NOT to advertise the whole truth. No man would ever reply to the most ho estate answer, the bluntness version being “Desperately seeking a man to settle down with and start a family.


… united by the same desire – Carol & Julia both desperately want a baby.

In steps Dan, a total charmer with a solution to their problems. But only if they are willing to pay the price, on every level…
Helen writes in a very distinct contemporary Scottish style – funny, frank and unforgiving  – and has created two distinctive narratives; it’s easy to pick up whose speaking between Carol & Julia due to the differences in their dialogue but also the syntax in their thoughts too. I asked Helen how she managed the dual perspectives…

When I wrote the original draft six years ago, I was advised by my literary agent at the time that ‘less is more’ and I deleted almost all of the vernacular speech. 

When I rewrote the MS, I felt more confident as a writer and passionate about adding dialect back into the speech, but I used this only really for the character of Carol to reflect her socio-economic background. 

I also included Doric for Carol’s mum dialogue to heighten the sense of Carol being lonely and homesick. 

With Julia, I kept most of her speech as standard English to make her ‘voice’ very different as the two women operate in contrasting worlds. 

On rereading the original MS, I also felt a distance between me and the characters and after experimenting, I rewrote the novel from a first person narration as it helped me get closer to the characters.

Buy Buy Baby is published by Cranachan Publishing – a new-born publisher based in Scotland – Helen is now part of the Cranachan team who will be working with other writers to give birth to their novels too. 

Call the midwife… it’s an exciting time for Helen, Buy Buy Baby and Cranachan… 


#WheresAlbert ~ Competition




From the bestselling author of Rocket Boys comes a long awaited prequel…

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Emma Salisbury

Emma Salisbury ~ Crime Tales from Two Cities



Emma Salisbury
Emma Salisbury  Author


DS Coupland ~ Salford Series   &   Davy Johnson ~ Edinburgh Series Continue reading

20 Books of Summer 2016


Over on Cathy746books Cathy has launched her 3rd annual challenge of reading 20 books from 1st June to 5th of September…

With plenty ARCs lined up and toppling TBR piles er, towers thought it’d be good to join in and keep track of my own summer reading…

Rather than being restrained by a definite 20 I’ve only actually narrowed it down to 33… plenty scope for wild cards & flexibility!

First 10 are from my own bookhauls… 


Then 9 hardcopy ARCs…


And 11 eCopies…


For on-the-go and times when reading is difficult I’ve lined up 3 audible options too…




So this is my 33… if I manage to read – AND review – 20 of them by Sept 5 I’ll be very chuffed…

Have you read any of my choices? Have plans to read any this summer?

Why not join in with your own 20 (or 10 or 15!) See who else has over on Cathy’s Blog

The Dyslexic Hearts Club

The Dyslexic Hearts Club by Hanneke Hendrix tr. David Doherty

The Dyslexic Hearts Club


‘a Thelma & Louise-like adventure’

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Online Literary Festival ~ Writing the Body


Hayley Webster.jpg
Hayley Webster


I am delighted to be amongst a plethora of fabulous writers who have submitted pieces for Hayley Webster’s Online Literary Festival initiative… enjoy!



Cover Reveal ~ Buy Buy Baby by Helen Mackinven


Ta Dah! Fabulous new cover for

Buy Buy Baby by Helen MacKinven

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Claire King

Wine At Breakfast by Claire King


Wine At Breakfast
Wine At Breakfast


‘Claire King has found success and acclaim with her prize-winning short stories’ Continue reading


We Are Scotland by Deborah Muir



Deborah Muir


I’m delighted to welcome Deborah Muir to poppypeacockpens to discuss her new project We Are Scotland currently being crowdfunded through Unbound. Please introduce yourself & the background to We Are Scotland

I am Deborah Muir, a broadcast journalist and first time author. We Are Scotland is a narrative non-fiction book. The collection of real life stories from Scotland are told in the person’s own words and the experience they describe is entirely from their point of view, unfiltered by the usual journalistic checks and balances.


Can you explain the process – do the contributors tell the story to you to write or do they write & you edit?

Yes, they tell their story, an experience they have or are going through in their own way, their own language and from their point of view. I listen as much as possible but ask questions to clarify points and to try and get them to open up as much as possible.


How willing were the participants? How did you choose what would be printed?

It surprises me daily that people are generally open but you have to approach them with respect. I’ve chapped on families’ doors at the worst point in their lives through my job as a journalist and have always been humbled by either them opening their door to talk to me or being so polite and apologetic for not wanting to.

I’m still in the process of choosing and gathering stories. Some of the ones I have are deeper explorations of stories that I have covered already as a reporter but I felt that a 30 second sound bite wasn’t good enough to explain it.

A good example of that is Michael Porter and his brothers’ case, that family deserved a bigger platform to find answers to their mother’s death abroad. A couple of stories have come about through friends who have gone through something and just want an ear and to have a record of it and they trust me to do that. It’s a big responsibility. For other stories I have thought of a subject or a situation and looked for an example. Having said all of this, one or two people have given me the run around a bit instead of just saying no and I’ve let it go as there are many more stories to fish for out there.


Given the brief is stories from Scots or those who’ve made Scotland their home, how diverse are the contributors, for instance gender, age, social backgrounds & ethnicity – did you strike for a balance or did it naturally occur ie were there some people more willing than others?

There are two stories I am currently trying to get but it’s proving very difficult and although they’re not directly linked, there is a connection. Initially I had too many women but it is balancing out now. I have to follow the story but I am aware of the huge diversity in Scottish culture and ethnicity and will of course seek to represent that.


Was there any kind of brief given when you were seeking the stories for example certain themes, issues etc?

No it’s an eclectic collection of stories because people are made up of all sorts. There are health, marital and parental issues, bereavement, achievement and people’s passions, everything that makes life the complicated and beautiful tapestry it is. I love Humans of New York and the randomness of stopping people in the street and throwing a question at them and seeing what comes of it but as Scotland is a small nation of 5 million and I have a deadline, I need to go looking for leads for stories.


What time-frame has this taken but also what time-frame do the actual stories come from / cover?

I first got the nod that the publisher could be interested back in November, confirmed in February and the deadline is November. The stories I’ve tried to make as current as possible or at least no older than the past year, it’s a snapshot of Scots at this time in history.


I think it’s great that it’s a book to read but podcasts will be available too – why did have you chosen to offer both?

I work in radio and listen to podcasts a lot, especially This American Life, Serial and many BBC ones from Radio 4. I find life and human behaviour endlessly fascinating and these reflect that. Also when you listen to someone tell their story their way, you get a real indication of their emotions and just how much it all means to them, that packs a powerful punch. You can listen on your phone, the car, train, plane, walking, running, cycling, bed, just about anywhere, some places you can’t take a book. A recent survey by Edison Research in America suggests that the same number of Americans listen to podcasts as use Twitter. OK we are not America but they’re usually on trend with changes. Also why can’t the podcasts bring new readers and vice versa?


What can you tell us about why & how you chose the crowdfunding route with Unbound?

Honestly? Chance. I was trying to write a chapter of a book I  was working on one night when I got distracted as you do, you know, everything but actually write when I saw a re-tweet on Twitter about a publisher opening up his blog for a limited time to 100 word pitches. I plunged in and explained all about my fiction novel and was rejected! I got a polite email back the following day to say best of luck blah blah, but not one to be deterred I launched into the pitch for We Are Scotland and they liked it.

Unbound as it turns out is run by the writers for the TV programme QI and a man once described as the most powerful in publishing, who is now my editor (gulp). As authors themselves they were getting tired of the way traditional publishers seemed to be narrowing the remit for what ended up on bookshelves.

Crowd funding is difficult for me though as I am a naturally private person and I am having to shout this from the rooftops. There is always the worry people won’t pledge, which is really just pre-ordering the book. I look at some of the names on Unbound like Kate Mosse and Shaun Usher and feel proud to be taken on by the same publisher, it also pushes me on to do as good a job as I can so I feel that I deserve to be alongside them.


Why and how are you specifically supporting Moat Brae House, the birthplace of Peter Pan?

I’m donating 10% of my profits to Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust  and that’s another reason I want We Are Scotland to do well. I’m including their story in the book. The Trust wants to turn this old house and its garden where author JM Barrie played as a child and later said was the inspiration for the book into a children’s literature centre. They’ve already raised millions and are just a little short of full funding plus there will be ongoing expenses. The house in the middle of Dumfries, in south west Scotland, was about to be knocked down and had been a haven for vandals when the trust stepped in. I have a 5 year old daughter whose imagination delights me and I want her and other children to enjoy books, storytelling and reading, what a legacy to leave for future generations. Imagine going to Neverland?


Looking at your own writerly background…

‘She has wanted to be an author since the age of 10 but thought journalism was a more realistic way of earning a living from telling stories’

– if money was no option, given the choice, would you rather write fiction?

I’d like to write fiction also but without real life to relate to I wouldn’t be able to write strong characters and also the truth is often stranger than fiction, you wouldn’t believe what some people get up to.


What context, structure & genre etc would interest you?

I’d love to write for children as I remember being between 8 and 12 and books really transporting me to another place and it kicked off my love of reading. I do have an idea for an adult crime story too.


Have you written any fiction – entered competitions, published stories, submitted to agents etc?

I entered a competition where a publisher was looking for an idea, not a full manuscript. I haven’t heard back, maybe it was lost in the post, except it was email, ah well! Also my current editor didn’t like my first idea. It’s part of the process.


In your biography piece for Unbound it says …

‘Panic grips her if a book is outwith her reach’

– can you explain exactly what that means.

If I have even 5 minutes spare, say waiting at the dentists or waiting for my daughter’s school bus, I need to be reading. I have fiction and non-fiction books on my phone, beside my bed and in various bags. I hate wasting a minute where I could be reading or writing.


What do you enjoy reading? What do you look for in stories of fiction & non-fiction?

I’m a bit late to the party with this but the non-fiction title I’m reading just now is the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. This lady’s cells have been responsible for major breakthroughs in health research. The story is about race, class, family and science. In contrast I am reading Beetle Boy by M.G.Leonard, a children’s book, and it’s so enjoyable to remember what adventures were like as a child.

I like things that inform me but I love a bit of cosy crime too like Agatha Raisin by MC Beaton, just to switch off and have a giggle. I loved Iain Banks, he was such a great loss. Hilary Mantel and Christopher Brookmyre are other favourites. Quite wide really isn’t it? One thing they must have is originality and good writing.


Are you part of a Book Group? What would be your ideal book for any group discussion… and why! 

No, I’m not ironically, I don’t have the time! Maybe I could take part in an online one, I’m open to suggestions. I’d like a debut fiction novel to be part of it as it means those reading it have no expectations from the writer.



Many thanks to Deborah for a great insight into her background and this exciting new project.
You can find out more about Deborah and follow her journey to publication on her blog D. A. Muir where she reveals…
a passionate belief that real life stories about the pivotal moments in the lives of Scots is going to make fascinating reading. I love my country, I love the people
and her ‘unfiltered thoughts on crowd funding so far.
and of course more information about Deborah and We Are Scotland – and the many ways you can help support it – can also be found on  Unbound 

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Literary Laryngitis by Poppy Peacock

Talking to Kendra Olsen about my Literary Laryngitis

Kendra Olson

Today I’m pleased to welcome fellow writer and blogger, Poppy Peacock, to the blog.

ppp colour avatar

I have a confession. Well, two actually… I didn’t spend my, ok arguably misspent, youth with my nose in a book. I did read, from rib-tickling escapism to rousing expeditions but sporadically rather than emphatically.

I haven’t yearned to write since being knee-high either, as many writers often profess; I was more of a talker. Writing was mostly formal and confined to official documentation & business reports; any creativity only leaked into odd letters & emails to far flung friends and relatives in a voice very different to my work one. When writing about my news & happenings I tended to write the way I spoke – strong regional accent laced with local dialect & idiolect of the North East of England – and definitely NOT always grammatically correct.

Then sudden, severe illness all but…

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Reader, I Married Him (2)

Reader, I Married Him Ed. by Tracy Chevalier

Reader, I Married Him (2)

a collection of short stories celebrating Charlotte Brontë

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Louise Beech

Bloggers’ Perfect Books…

Delighted to take part in this initiative with Louise Beech – author of How To Be Brave via Orenda Books…

Louise Beech


Louise Beech

Book Bloggers can quite literally make or break writers – mostly they make them as they’re such a lovely lot.  They often reveal – via their passion for all things literary – little gems of novels we’ve never heard of, great big fat magical debuts we’re curious about, and old favourites just when we need reminding.  So I decided to ask a few of them what, in an absolutely perfect world, they want from a book.  And if they could think of any books that actually achieved this, well, even better.  Feel free to sniff around their incredible blogs too, as I’ve included those for your pleasure.  Enjoy!

Victoria Goldman


I love books that enable me to get inside the characters’ heads. I want to feel their pain, grief, anger, excitement and laughter, not just read about their emotions. This doesn’t mean I have to like the characters, but I…

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Truestory final cover

Truestory by Catherine Simpson

Truestory final cover


frank, funny and faithful

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ The Prodigal

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000030_00050]

“A brilliant read, and a sparkling debut.” Continue reading


#ThrowbackThursday ~ Talk of the Toun

For #ThrowbackThursday I caught up with Helen MacKinven 5 months after publication of her debut novel Talk of the Toun …

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The Song Collector by Natasha Solomons

Screenshot_2016-03-30-08-02-43 (1)

‘… a profound story of love, loss and reconciliation’ Lady Continue reading

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

At The Edge of the Orchard cover

What happens when you can’t run any further? Continue reading

What A Way To Go by Julia Forster

Cover Blog Tour no 2

fresh, heartwarming and very funny

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A Wicked Old Woman by Ravinder Randhawa

A Wicked Old Woman

‘Sharply observed, witty, confident ~ brimming with drama, masquerade & mischief.’ Continue reading

#NovellaNov ~ Favourites from Janet Emson

Janet Emson.jpeg


I am delighted to welcome Janet from fromfirstpagetolast to poppypeacockpens to share some of her favourite novellas for #NovellaNov… Continue reading

#NovellaNov ~ Favourites from Kendra Olson


I am delighted to welcome Kendra Olson – author of the splendid The Forest King’s Daughter –  to poppypeacockpens to share some of her favourite novellas for #NovellaNov… Continue reading

#NovellaNov ~ Favourites from Cathy Brown

Cathy Brown


I am delighted to welcome Cathy from 746 Books to poppypeacockpens to share some of her favourite novellas for #NovellaNov… Continue reading

#NovellaNov ~ Favourites from Claire Stokes

Claire Stokes


I am delighted to welcome Claire  – an avid reader I met through Twitter – to poppypeacockpens to share some of her favourite novellas for #NovellaNov… Continue reading

#NovellaNov ~ Favourites from Helen Stanton


Helen Stanton



With many on the novellas on my shelves based in Paris, I am especially delighted to welcome Helen from Mad about the Books who is now living in Paris to poppypeacockpens to share two of her favourite Parisian novellas for #NovellaNov… Continue reading

#NovellaNov ~ Favourites from Ali Hope


Ali Hope.jpg


I am delighted to welcome Ali from HeavenAli to poppypeacockpens to share some of her favourite novellas for #NovellaNov… Continue reading

#NovellaNov ~ Favourites from Linda Hill

Linda Hill

I am delighted to welcome Linda from Linda’s Book Bag to poppypeacockpens to share some of her favourite novellas for #NovellaNov…

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#NovellaNov ~ Favourites from Helen MacKinven


I am delighted to welcome Helen, author of Talk of the Toun, to poppypeacockpens to share some of her favourite novellas for #NovellaNov… Continue reading

#NovellaNov ~ Favourites from Karen Langley

Karen Langley.jpg


I am delighted to welcome Karen from Kaggsys Bookish Ramblings to poppypeacockpens to share some of her favourite novellas for #NovellaNov… Continue reading

#NovellaNov ~ Favourites from Claire Fuller


Claire Fuller

I am delighted to welcome Claire  – author of Our Endless Numbered Days to poppypeacockpens to share some of her favourite novellas for #NovellaNov… Continue reading

#NovellaNov ~ Favourites from JacquiWine

Jacqui Wine


I am delighted to welcome Jacqui from JacquiWine  to poppypeacockpens to share some of her favourite novellas for #NovellaNov… Continue reading

Dead Babies & Seaside Towns by Alice Jolly

Dead Babies and Seaside Towns.jpg


‘A compelling memoir of stillbirth, surrogacy and seaside towns’ Continue reading

#NovellaNov ~ Favourites from Susan Osborne

A Life in Books


I am delighted to welcome Susan Osborne from A Life in Books to poppypeacockpens to share some of her favourite novellas for #NovellaNov… Continue reading

#NovellaNov ~ Favourites from MarinaSofia



I am delighted to welcome MarinaSofia from Finding Time to Write to poppypeacockpens to share some of her favourite novellas for #NovellaNov… Continue reading

Catherine Simpson ~ The books that inspired Truestory…

Truestory final cover

Eternally fascinated by what other people read – especially hearing about which books are influential to someone’s writing – I’m delighted to welcome Catherine Simpson to poppypeacockpens …   Continue reading

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell

Impossible to pick just ONE favourite book for Shaz’s Book Blog earlier this week… but I did relish the opportunity to champion one of my milestone reads from one of my favourite authors… Continue reading

Talk of the Toun – attitudes to sex & sex education in the 80’s…


‘An uplifting black comedy of love, family life and friendship, Talk of the Toun is a bitter-sweet coming-of-age tale set in the summer of 1985, in working class, central belt Scotland.’

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The Awakening by Kate Chopin


‘She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before’ Continue reading

Is The Butcher Bird a feminist novel?

SD Sykes

I’m delighted to welcome Sarah (SD Sykes) to poppypeacockpens for my stint on her Blog Tour. She’s written a fabulous post looking at the misogyny in her latest novel The Butcher Bird after one of her most trusted readers – her daughter Natalie – declared she’d written ‘a feminist book’ …

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#NovellaNov ~ Reading Novellas in November

The ideal reader is someone who likes a jolly good yarn     and enjoys thinking about the book as well… Iris Murdoch

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The Prodigal by Nicky Black

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You could say ah’m muckle chuffed, like, to have Nicky Doherty – who together with Julie Blackie make up the collaborated author Nicky Black –  on poppypeacockpens… Continue reading

Talk of the Toun by Helen MacKinven


‘An uplifting black comedy of love, family life and friendship, Talk of the Toun is a bitter-sweet coming-of-age tale set in the summer of 1985, in working class, central belt Scotland.’ Continue reading

Bonnie Road by Suzanne d’Corsey


Ideal for an autumnal evening… seductive storytelling
weaving Scottish settings & history with witchcraft & romance

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Around the World Blog Tour – Ireland & Margaret Scott

BC Ireland

The Around The World Blog Tour is a partnership between TripFiction and #BookConnectors ~ bloggers and authors, travelling the world, through fiction.

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Music as a Literary Tool

Behind the scenes at poppypeacockpens I’ve been Chewin’ the Fat about various aspects of storytelling and a recurring theme is how music is used as a literary tool. Continue reading

Puzzling Procrastination & Star Ratings


I’ve been spending the day pondering & plotting my reading, writing & reviewing plans, making reasonable restorative resolutions for the imminent Academic New Year. Continue reading

Wo-manning up for #WITMonth 2015

The much discussed gender disparity in publishing is very much a global issue: an issue Meytal Radzinski @Biblibio wants to raise awareness for … Continue reading