Mermaids #books #readingforpleasure

Mermaids are magical. And spurred on by some book titles which flittered across my social media channels thought I’d share the TSL books which mention mermaids.

To start, a mermaid to lure you into Warm and Wet by Philip Philmar
Army of Angels in Sai-Ko by Gabriela Harding
Lucifer’s Child by Gideon Masters
The Dream Speaks Back by Sue Hampton, Leslie Tate and Cy Henty
Family are the Friends you Choose by Marthe Kiley-Worthington
The Ballad of Crookback and Shakespeare by Clive Greenwood and Jason Wing
Ravelled by Sue Hampton
And the Mermaid Theatre, London features in Big Name Hunting by Arnie Wilson

And the books which influenced this post:
The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey (thanks to St Ives Bookshop which supports The Green Man and the Raven’s Quest)
The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Osterley


Green Eyes or Brown? #books #readingforpleasure

Some time ago, I saw mention that only 2% of the world’s population have green eyes. The majority have brown and 10% have blue.

Seeing this, I wondered how important it was for authors to specify their characters’ eye colour, so took a look through TSL’s books to see what authors have done. The result is below. Do you think it’s important to specify eye colour or should that be left to the reader’s imagination? Marthe Kylie-Worthington in Family are the Friends you Choose also questions authors focus on eyes.

The cat, Ginger, in Anna Ryland’s A Second Chance
Marla in Josie Arden’s Broken Ties of Time
Raphaela in The last rose of summer in This and That 2 by Josie Arden
Isabel in The Visit in Tea at the Opalaco by Jane Lockyer Willis
Fairytales and Oddities by Ezra Williams
Grey-green eyes feature in A Perfumed Holiday in Stuffed! by Johannes Kerkhoven
In a break from green eyes, brown eyes are mentioned in The Stillbirth Marriage in The Roots that gave Birth to Magical Blossoms by Amna Agib (Bit Nafisa)

Other books:
Doris Lessing’s lead character in The Summer before the Dark has brown eyes.

Thanks Pablo for the image


Inspired by 3AM

Inspired by 3AM

Whilst reading 3AM edited by Angela Kingston, the following came to mind:

Discovering that white nights (nuit blanche) refers to a night without sleep, I immediately thought of White Nights (the 1985 movie but I see there are others)

Dressing up: Leslie Tate’s Heaven’s Rage
Shapeshifters: Sam Riverbanks’ Duelling Worlds
Night cleanses day: John Samson’s Reading Lady Chatterley in Africa and Powerless



A Sudan trip

Sudan – a place that is often in the news for the wrong reasons; a territory ravaged by conflict for over a century. As with many places where there’s conflict, there’s often incredible creativity.

It inspired this song by Jenny and Rosanna Delenta, sisters born in Sudan but who grew up in South Africa. The author of the piece is TSL author John Samson

And is the inspiration behind Amna Agib’s two collections of short stories: The Roots that Gave Birth to Magical Blossoms, and The Glowing Blossoms that Kept the Roots Alive.

While not dealing directly with Sudan, William Endley‘s book on the Union Defence Force in World War 1 was written whilst he was employed in Sudan.

TSL director Anne Samson has touched on Sudan in her biography of Kitchener: The man not the myth published by Helion.

Arnie WIlson, Jeremy's restaurant, The moon is toast 0



It’s a small world – how often are these words uttered? But it really does seem to be so interconnected.

As part of an email conversation I was sent the following link: Johannes Kerkhoven – just scroll down on this landing page and there’s a lovely painting of a cricket ground. Immediate thoughts jump to The Moon is Toast by Andrew Samson. The other paintings make me think of Sheelagh Frew-Crane who painted the covers for Sue Hampton’s Ravelled and Leslie Tate’s Heaven’s Rage which then links with the film by Mark Crane, partner of Sheila…

And if that’s not enough, Johannes has published a book of limericks. Link – Arnie Wilson’s A Limerick Romp through Time.

Bringing them all together is this lovely photo of Arnie giving Jeremy a copy of The Moon is Toast soon after TSL launched Arnie’s two books: Big Name Hunting and A Limerick Romp through Time.

Other connections have been aluded to in the past: Sue Hampton and People Not Borders‘ book I am Me with artwork by Paula Watkins who teaches at Community Learning Partnership, South Oxhey, a group one of the TSL Directors is involved with. It was only at a meeting to discuss the book that links were made.

And if you’re looking for another person’s perspective on connections, see Kathleen Bates’ book Joyful Witness.

Why not share some of your literary connections with us…they all help support each other.


Priests and Religious men

Priests and Religious men

Religion in the UK is apparently on the decline yet it features in a few novels – in fact a surprising number.
For example in novels authored by TSL writers, we have:

Most well-known in British literature:
Father Brown by GK Chesterton
and the Irish-based sitcom Father Ted
The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough
all of which
feature Roman Catholic priests.

Some factual church histories include:

And a musical – Faith is the Key by Barbara and John Towell (forthcoming)



Cook #Books #readinglist

When one hears of Cook books, one’s mind automatically turns towards recipe books. At TSL we don’t have recipe books as such but we do have the Sir Chocolate series where each book contains simple recipes illustrating the story which young people can make.
Similarly, Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town also has some recipes to illustrate the story and enjoy.

But we also have a book or two by or mentioning Cook:

Brian Cook’s Home Ground tells the story of families farming in the Yorkshire Dales, international business and the search for love.
A little more obscure is Andrew Samson’s The Moon is Toast – well, you’ll just have to buy the book to see if Alistair Cook is mentioned (or find the index on the TSL website).

And then some related titles:
Beatrice Holloway’s Facts, Folklore and Feasts of Christmas and Debbie Nagioff’s collection of drama pieces, An American Lunch.


Chimney Sweeps

Chimney Sweeps

Little did I know when I met Paul Ross at the TSL sponsored Meet the Author Day that I was meeting a chimney sweep: a real live chimney sweep! I’d read about them and seen pictures of them but assumed they were pretty much an extinct breed. How wrong I was!

Paul has since published a book for children about a chimney sweep – Rodney and his daughter Jemima go on adventures and solve mysteries using their special gifts. These are stories he told his own children when they were little and now his grandchildren get to see them in print.

Probably the most well-known chimney sweep is Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist followed closely by Charles Kingsley’s The Water-babies: A fairy tale for a land-baby. Hans Christian Anderson also wrote about The Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep

And for those interested in a history of Chimney Sweeps in Britain, here’s a brief overview.


Thanks Pablo for the image


aristocracy 0

Aristocracy: a developing theme

Aristocracy: a developing theme

Despite today’s ideas of equality, the Aristocracy still features strongly in literature. Suprisingly, in a number of books published by TSL. For this list, we turn things around adding a couple of other related books to those by TSL authors:

1. Maya Alexandri – The Celebration Husband features the von Brantburgs
2. Josie Arden – Broken Ties of Time featuring Lord Winsforth
3. Ray Wooster – A Boy’s War Journal 1942-1942 featuring the Bracon family
4. Sam Riverbanks – The Duelling Worlds featuring the Royal Family of Cumbra

Short stories:
The Brute and the Beast in Ravelled and other stories by Sue Hampton
Where the bee sucks in Tea at the Opalaco and other stories by Jane Lockyer Willis

Children’s stories:
Sir Chocolate and the Strawberry Cream Berries by Robbie and Michael Cheadle

The bonus books are:
Lord Greystoke aka Tarzan
Count Dracula
Pomp and Circumstance by Sue Hampton

And more from TSL authors since 2016:

Big Name Hunting and A limerick romp through time – Arnie Wilson
From Commoner to Coronet by Beatrice Holloway (coming 2018)

Henry Dawe performs Two Paces Back, a charity music video celebrating the life of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and raising funds in aid of The Silver Line helpline for older people.

Not quite an aristocrat but with a Crown in his name is Christopher Crown and the Immortal Signal by Tricia Price.

Thanks to Pablo for the image


A Jewel(l) of a find

A Jewel(l) of a find

Back in 2016, I worked with the Jewell family editing their grandfather Norman Parsons Jewell’s manuscript recalling his time On Call in Africa in War and Peace, 1910-1932. It opened new windows on the First World War in Africa and has since led to further research. The book also contains the story of his wife Sydney – who, as a young girl, published poetry and sent a book to Queen Victoria. She was also one of the first women to attend Trinity College Dublin as a student before travelling to Seychelles where she got married and then moving to Africa during World War 1.

Mr Jewell and the Crown Jewels feature in The Hidden Sun – a light adventure-suspense romance set on Cyprus during the British occupation of the 1950s.

Mystery at the Manor – Jemima and her father Rodney, the chimney sweep, solve the mystery of stollen jewells at the manor.

Other books by someone named Jewell:

Jewells seem to dominate as authors non-fiction

  • Jewell’s Crescent City (1893) by Edwina Jewell tells the commercial, social, political and general history of New Orleans, reprinted in 2011 by Applewood Books
  • Women in Medieval England (1996) by Helen Jewell – the opening lines of the review tell it all.
  • Lisa Jewell has written a number of novels: After the Party, The Making of Us