3 Sep 2015


The sixth and final book read for this years 'What's In A Name?' challenge:  A book with  the word 'Ing' in the title. I'll be posting my Wrap-Up post soon but in the meantime would lie to thank Charlie over at The Worm Hole for being such a good host.


INNER FRONT COVER BLURB: As an heir to the Plantagenet's, Margaret is seen by the King's mother (The Red Queen) as a rival to the Tudor claim to the throne. She is buried in marriage to a Tudor supporter - Sir Richard Pole, governor of Wales - and becomes guardian to Arthur, the young Prince of Wales, and his beautiful bride, Katherine of Aragon.

But Margaret's destiny, as cousin to the queen (The White Princess), is not for a life in the shadows. Tragedy throws her into poverty and only a royal death restores her to her place at young Henry VIII's court where she becomes chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine. There she watches the dominance of the Spanish queen over her husband and her tragic decline.

Amid the rapid deterioration of the Tudor court, Margaret must choose whether her allegiance is to the increasingly tyrannical Henry VIII or to her beloved queen. Caught between the old and the new, Margaret must find her own way, concealing her knowledge that an old curse cast upon all the Tudors is slowly coming true ...

FIRST SENTENCE {Westminster Palace, London, 29 November 1499 }: In the moment of waking I am innocent, my conscience clear of any wrongdoing.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 90}: But I know in my heart that if God fails to call this little boy to a lifetime of holy service then I will have put my bright, loving boy in a wordless prison for life.

SOURCE: A Book People purchase.

MY THOUGHTS: A big fan of Philippa Gregory - she is my favourite author when it comes down to historical fiction - I have however had mixed thoughts about The Cousin's War books.

On the whole an enjoyable series, well researched as you'd expect from this author BUT after a good start I'm afraid I found the last two books, The Kingmaker's Daughter and The White Princess, a bit of a let down.

Back on form with this the sixth book. As entertaining as it is educational for lets not forget that whilst based in fact as the author herself admits there is a certain amount of poetic licence and imagination involved. I know I've said it before with both The Red Queen and The Lady Of The Rivers but for me The King's Curse really has been the strongest and most gripping book in the series .... so far. (I had heard rumours of a seventh book, The Last Rose, but I could be wrong.)

Largely chronicling life at the court of Henry VIII, perhaps the most famous and definitely the most notorious of English monarchs, this is the story of the last Princess of the House of York Margaret Pole/Plantagenet and what a story it is.

Spanning some forty years and the deaths of no less than four queens. The witness to the rise of an increasingly tyrannical King, this is the tale of a woman who, a potential rival to the Tudor destiny, is 'hidden in wedlock' for her own safety, a woman who finds herself both in and then out of favour with a court ruled over by a regent determined to break away from Rome.

A character I changed my mind about a hundred times, my emotions varying from a real dislike for to total empathy for and, ultimately, a great sorrow for. Whilst Margaret Pole may not have been a typical woman of her time - even as a privileged member of society she was more privileged than most - this book spells out loudly and clearly the perils of women whether it be in childbirth or as pawns, their fate in the hands of their husbands and their fathers before that or, as in this case, at the whim of a increasingly paranoid (mad?) king.  

2 Sep 2015


Today I'm pleased to be featuring poet, comedian and 2015 BBC Edinburgh Fringe Poetry Slam winner Scott Tyrrell whose book, Grown Up, which according to the Apples And Snakes site 

'provides a snapshot of a family man juggling the absurd demands of work and parenthood under the pressure of being normal' 

was published by Red Squirrel Press earlier this year.

Available from InPress Books here or from here at amazon.co.uk, Kate Fox writing for InPress Books has this to say ...

'Scott's poetry is as funny as the finest stand up comedy with razor sharp punch lines that hit just the right places. But it also has heart. The full warmth of life and love are in this book and it is guaranteed cheering up tonic for those who love poetry and those who think they don't but just haven't had the good fortune to encounter Scott's clever, down to earth wit and word wonder. One of the best stand up poets in the country live, but even if you haven't seen him perform (do), this books sings out from the page with a magical music all of it's own.'

But what of Scott's recent triumph at this years BBC Edinburgh Fringe Poetry Slam competition?

Scott Tyrrell


Newcastle-based poet Scott Tyrrell wins BBC Poetry Slam.

South Shields born Scott Tyrrell, a Stand-Up Poet and Graphic Designer, has just won the BBC Edinburgh Fringe Poetry Slam Grand Final. The BBC Slam is now the most diverse and most coveted Poetry Slam in the UK, with the widest national and regional representation of UK poetry. This year alone the competition featured a World champion, a European champion, 7 national champions and the Roadhouse champion. The competition has been running over the festival in a series of heats to decide which poets would make the final four competitors, who battled it out on Saturday night in a packed BBC Festival tent. The event was streamed live on BBC Arts via the iPlayer. The final featured excellent established performance poets Dan SimpsonPaula VarjackToby Campion and of course, Scott Tyrrell. The event was put together by Spoken Word artist and Slam host, Sophia Walker - herself a previous BBC Slam winner.

The Grand Final featured three rounds; in the first each poet had just 3 minutes to wow the judges (who comprised of five esteemed figures from the UK Spoken Word and poetry publishing scene). The judges scored the poets from 1-10 on performance, writing and audience response. In the second round the lowest scoring poet was dropped and the three remaining poets battled it out again, with another 3 minute poem. In the final round Scott and Toby Campion went head to head. It was close but Scott pipped it by just 0.3 of a point.

This has been a great year for Scott - winning both The Great Northern Slam at Northern Stage earlier in the year and the UK Anti-Slam Championship at The Roadhouse in London. (The Anti-Slam is a tongue-in-cheek national competition in which established spoken word artists battle it out to be the worst poet in the UK.) So Scott is now technically one of the best and worst performance poets in Britain!

Scott was also official Blogger for the poetry tent at Glastonbury this year.

The full 2015 BBC Poetry Slam on BBC iPlayer:

A Clip of Scott's performance from the BBC Slam:

About Slam and the UK Spoken Word Scene

The UK Spoken Word scene has exploded over the last decade, with vibrant scenes across the whole of the UK including Edinburgh, London, Manchester, Bristol, York and Newcastle, and is growing into a formidable poetry scene. The likes of Kate Tempest (Mercury Prize Winner) and huge talents Hollie McNish, Dizraeli and Luke Wright and Kate Fox have been among those leading the charge to establish Spoken Word as an art form that's here to stay in the UK.

Young poets from all over Britain and Ireland are finding an outlet for their talents as writers and performers, particularly in Slam competitions - an idea which started in Chicago decades ago and has become an international approach to inject real energy and competition into what has traditionally a very bookish art form. Anything to do with Spoken Word goes with Slam. So comedy, rap, drama, beat poetry and storytelling are all allowed - and encouraged - which is why slams nearly always feature a diverse range of literary talent. 

About Scott Tyrrell

Scott is a multiple poetry slam winner, award-winning comedian and graphic designer. He has been writing and performing poetry for 15 years and was a founding member of the legendary Tyneside poetry troupe, the Poetry Vandals. He has represented Newcastle/Gateshead in three major national Poetry Slams and won. He lives and works in Newcastle with his wife, stepdaughter and son.

1 Sep 2015



Loved the portrayal of the plagues. Not sure how I felt about how God was portrayed. Frustrated by a muttering Ramses. 

All in all a rather anti-climatic non-event that I watched (in vain as it turned out) hoping for something truly epic to happen. TT

Certainly lacking in biblical authenticity and a bit of a show-piece for CGI. The plagues are gruesomely depicted to great effect but are surrounded by some of the most wooden acting that just makes the film a bit of a grind really.  God depicted as a child was an interesting moment but as the appearances are limited, insufficient to create a great deal of interest. NJT


The best of a bad bunch in a trio of films none of which we are in a hurry to watch again soon ... if ever.

Dazzling visuals but alas a lacklustre story and charmless characters (I wonder if the book, Here Be Monsters by Alan Snow, is any better?) which though it might appeal to children of a certain age may well have the little ones and adults (if they are anything like me) bored within minutes. TT

Beautifully animated with sumptuous background detail but must agree that the story felt a bit lacking in dynamic. The prejudices of the populous against the Boxtrolls utilised by the powerful and those envious of them to make life miserable for the minority... a kind of morality tale but trying too hard. NJT


Why-oh-why the trend for incidental music that is so loud its guaranteed to have you reaching for the volume control .... and that's when I haven't got my hearing aids in.

One of those films that right from the off had me feeling I was missing something integral to the plot. A glorified video game of a film with fight scenes more suited to those who enjoy computer games. Not as humorous as it seems to think it is. Not even the gun-toting raccoon raised a smile - and we all know how much I love my furry critters. The only redeeming feature? A good musical sound track. TT

Meh... Not as funny/serious as it likes to think it is. Groot only had one line (repeated ad infinitum) and was the most interesting character. NJT

A post based on Kelly's One-Sentence Movie Reviews, you can read her thoughts on Exodus: Gods And Kings here, her thoughts on Guardians Of The Galaxy here.

31 Aug 2015


PLEASE NOTE: Whilst I endeavour to keep Media Monday family friendly some of the articles featured do have links to articles of a more adult nature. TT

The reason why Christopher Robin always lost at Poohsticks has been revealed by engineers who claim that sticks 'stout, heavy and covered in bark' should have been used instead of 'skinny' sticks.

A linguistic expert has pointed out that a missing accent on a sign has changed Bhòid (meaning Bute) to 'Bod' (the Gaelic for penis) meaning that the first thing visitors to the island see is a big sign saying 'Welcome to Penis Island'.

Analysis carried out by The Telegraph has revealed that someone collecting lego could have earned almost three times as much as if they had invested in the stock market.

Not only does how you fasten your bra speak volumes apparently ....

According to a body language and behaviour expert the way you eat your pizza says a lot about your personality.

Which, a crust first kind of eater, means I'm 'pretty unusual, 'bold, different' and 'think outside the box'. What about you? TT

And as for the bookish news ....

According to research the ideal bedtime story should be 8.6 minutes long, feature a dragon, a fairy and a wizard and be set in a castle.

29 Aug 2015


With reviews of books such as Lynda La Plantes Prime Suspect and more recently Sophie Hannah's Hurting Distance and Robert Muchamore's Maximum Security  I thought it might be nice to formally introduce you to Leanne. TT


My name is Leanne and I live in the little leafy town of Ryton, in the Tyne Valley. I work with with Mr T and have counted the Terrys as good friends for almost a decade now.

I have a full blown obsession with literacy - in particular the importance of reading. I've been an avid reader since I was a tiny girl and I truly feel that it has shaped my life.

I will be lucky enough to be popping up on Tracy's wonderful blog every so often as a guest reviewer, so it's probably about time I told you lovely folks a bit more about myself. As I could happily waffle on all day, I felt it may be slightly less torturous for you if I made two lists ...

Things I love and value above all others:
  • My long suffering other half, Joe
  • My awesome family and friends
  • My Bedlington Terrier, Willow
  • All books - in particular crime, historical fiction and cosy murder mysteries
  • The authors Sharon Bolton, Mari Hannah, MC Beaton & Richard Montanari
  • The smell of new books
Things I hate:
  • Arrogance
  • Bullying
  • Racism & fascism 
  • Wasps
  • Flying
  • Celery
  • Animal cruelty
  • Parsnips
  • Rudeness - in particular individuals who have a lack of manners
  • Sharks
  • Negativity
  • Being too hot
  • Blood.

28 Aug 2015


What a great way to learn some more about our blogger buddies. I saw this tag on Through Tasha's Camera and simply had to join in the fun.

Hmm, Mr T, books and hedgehogs you know about but (in no particular order) what of the other things I love .... 

#1 Candles, I love candles (though I have to be careful that they aren't too scented). And just as much as the candles themselves I have what is probably an even bigger passion for ...

#2 Candle holders.

#3 Balloons. Not so much the ones that burst easily with a big bang but the 'happy birthday' 'get well soon' etc helium balloons that have become so popular over recent years. 

#4 Yellow. My favourite colour. Bright and cheerful. Our bedroom is painted in the most glorious rubber-duck yellow. Arguably not a restful colour but it instantly brightens my day on waking.

#4 Baskets. I once heard a comedian ask what it was with women of a certain age and baskets (I wish I could remember who it was). Of a 'certain age' myself now I admit I've developed a bit of a thing for baskets.

#5 Guide books. Not that I'd ever dream of doing anything as sensible as buying a travel guide before we went on holiday but once there I have to buy a guide book of everywhere we visit whether it be home or away. In fact such is my obsession that returning from our Mediterranean cruise we found ourselves paying a hefty excess luggage fee - the reason? Yeah, you guessed - guide books.

#6 Good news stories. I love it when I come across a story that renews my faith in human nature. You know the sort I mean? The so-called teenage yob who people cross the road to avoid who saves his elderly neighbour from her burning house, that sort of thing.

#7 Peanut butter and sliced banana on toast. What we refer to as bannofee toast and currently my breakfast of choice.

#8 Having a good sort out. We've recently shredded more old paper work than I care to think about, filled our recycling bin three times over and sent a whole load of unwanted goods to the PDSA charity shop.

#9 Smiles. Like being polite a smile costs nothing. Like yellow they brighten the day.

#10 My various health issues. Yes, I know it sounds odd BUT I'd like to think my various health issues (those surrounding my mobility or lack there of in particular) have contributed in making me that little bit more considerate/tolerant of those with their own issues.

And as for the things I hate?

#1. My various health issues. I hate the pain. I hate the not necessarily being able to just get up and go. I dislike (and in equal measure/depending on my mood that day find funny) the people who ask Mr T how I am despite the fact that I'm sat there. 

#2 Doctors. Not all doctors, just those (and in particular I'm talking hospital consultants) who rather than see you as a whole person simply see you as the 'leg', the 'head' .... the whatever part of the body they specialise in.

#3 Cruelty to vulnerable people/animals. I don't think I need say any more on this one.

#3 Rudeness. After all a 'please'/'thank you' costs nothing.

#4 Attention seeking on FaceBook. This might seem trivial when you think of all the 'casual' racism/sexism on the various social network sites (#5 and #6 on my list) BUT I'm beginning to develop a low tolerance for those who leave cryptic messages - I'm annoyed', 'Feeling devastated' - only for when you enquire as to what is wrong reply 'I don't want to talk about it.' Aggghhh. If you don't want to talk about it don't put it on FaceBook.

#7 Lateness. OK so circumstances dictate that we can all be late from time to time but I'm talking about the people who are constantly late.

#8 People who don't stop to think. Let me explain. I'm getting increasingly annoyed by those who complain when they see an outwardly healthy individual using a toilet meant for disabled users/using a disabled parking space etc. Not all disabilities are obvious.

#9 Inconsiderate planning. Talking of toilets ... I can become hugely irate over some toilets for disabled people. Obviously designed by able bodied individuals, they (the toilets that is) are sometimes less than useless.

#10 My becoming an increasingly grumpy old(ish) woman. (Say nothing Mr T).

Hmm, surprisingly cathartic. Care to brighten your day/get something off your chest? Please be sure to share your top ten loves and hates with us.