Tag Archives: book reviews

A Walk In The Woods


Today I am reviewing a marvellous book penned by Esther Chilton, the creator of estherchiltonblog. This beautiful story book “A Walk In The Woods” (front cover art work by talented Charlotte Newton) is a book I have admired greatly from the moment my paperback copy arrived.

As I began to read this exquisite collection of stories, my thoughts applauded what I was reading. I just kept thinking to myself, “My! Esther is such a clever writer!” Why do I say that. Well, besides the obvious quality, perfect editing and quality production than shine throughout the book, Esther’s style in her short stories is notable. Each finely crafted story has impact.

Before I started blogging, I never read flash fiction or short stories, I only ever read long dramatic epic novels. I have marvelled at the talent of so many writers who know how to craft a meaningful story in few yet precisely chosen and arranged words and phrases. Well Esther’s short stories in “A Walk In The Woods” are a model of telling a powerful tale, often with an unexpected twist or a pithy veridical conclusion.

As I would expect from Esther, “A Walk In The Woods” excellently showcases her talent as a writer and editor. Not only will readers enjoy her compilation of stories, but also admire Esther’s superb crafting. Esther Chilton really is such a very clever writer!!!


You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.


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Well….by now you may have noticed that I have taken on the challenge of reviewing the books published by other WordPress bloggers – which was a terrifying prospect before I began, but now I am enjoying! I began publishing reviews back in August 2020 – roughly one every two weeks.

In case you want to check out some of the fabulous books – ALL WRITTEN BY WORDPRESS BLOGGERS! – featured on CARAMEL’S CORNER, I have put together a little list of the 2020 CARAMEL’S CORNER posts:










There is more to come in 2021 – in fact I have a long list of reviews that need to be completed in my drafts folder. There are books I have read and reviewed from Ritu Bhathal, Stephen Black, Tom Burton, Esther Chilton, Nora Edinger, Sarah Fennell, Iain Kelly, Jenna Kirkpatrick, Gabriella Marie Milton, Frank Prem, Kevin Morris, Julia Tannembaum and more!

Writer, Typewriter, Author, Blogging

If you are a WordPress blogger and you have published your own book – please free to drop by and say hello and please tell me about your book! I am always interested in coming across other bloggers who love to write (as opposed to the countless robots than seem to be following me). I do have my limits, so I won’t always be able to read your book if it is graphically violent or glorifies demons etc. But I do like to support other bloggers, just as I have been encouraged and supported by other bloggers. Please feel free to leave a comment on one of my posts.

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Switching Positions

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I am very pleased to be reviewing one of the books I have bought and loved, written by one of my very favourite bloggers, Paula Light, the creator of Light Motifs II. Today I am reviewing “Switching Positions”, her romantic comedy set amidst the build up to THE American presidential election.

My biggest enjoyment factor from “Switching Positions” was the humour and energy that started from the very first page and flowed right through to the conclusion. This is why I love Paula’s blog and her books – she has what sometimes seems like an effortless comic touch. I often read just before bedtime when I am very sleepy, but I found when I was reading Paula’s rom-com than my heart was laughing so much as I read the dialogue between characters and the inner thoughts of the main characters, I did not want to sleep – I just wanted to keep reading because it was so refreshing to read such light-hearted clever wit.

White House, Usa, United States, America

So does politics drag the storyline down? Nope, not at all. I don’t even understand American politics, but Paula very cleverly and also carefully painted some of the main political leanings in what seemed like a fair and yet very funny way. I actually found it very interesting that she referred so much to how every day Americans may perceive politics and how their own changing circumstances may perhaps prompt them to weigh up their political opinions. I did feel as if her main characters are very interesting examples of how a young person may at some point ask themselves – are their ideas based simply on that of their family and friends? Or are they using their own mind, researching for themselves and making a decision that reflects their outlook on life, people, work, values?

But I want to repeat, Paula skilfully juggles the scenes in which her characters think over or voice their political opinions so that the story never becomes weighed down. Every internal conversation, and every passage of dialogue gives you a wonderful opportunity to laugh. After watching the media reports of the 2020 election, I think it is an extraordinary feat for Paula to have tackled a political setting and pulled it off in a way that makes this book so joyously playful to read.

I grew very fond of the two main characters quickly and could happily have read another twenty chapters of their developing relationship. Paula captures all the excitement, nerves, uncertainty, and wonder of a couple falling for each other and thought there are some very sweet moments, the humour is always right behind.

2020 has been depressing at times – so if you want a refreshingly playful, genuinely romantic tale, full of clever comedy and a well rounded view of the different political views that people hold in the USA (but all within that light hearted comic framework) – I would heartily recommend “Switching Positions”.

It is a delicious read and great fun! We all need more fun in 2021!


You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.


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Letting My Hair Down

I love wearing my hair down. I love it. I have only been to a hair salon once this year – August, so my hair is very long again. This year I have worn my hair up, clipped tightly for work. It feels so strange. But we have to have our hair tied neatly for work.

I love coming home from work on Saturday and literally “letting my hair down”. It is such a great feeling. Jack will spend Sunday with me and then he is going back to his on Monday to get ready for his journey up to the Lake District. He is going to make the most of the time with them.

We will be connecting via technology during the week to come, but I am working right up until Thursday evening – so he can only catch me in the evenings.

I just want to say to all the lovely bloggers who are so kind to read and comment on my posts – work has been intense during December, this past week has been nuts. We are doing alright – as a team – but the pace is fast and furious. So I come home from work and just collapse. I know it is effecting the time I have to read your posts and comment – I am sorry if I appear unappreciative. I love the bloggers on WordPress. I have lots of CARAMEL’S CORNER Book Reviews in my drafts folder to finish off. They will resume in January.

For the next week or so…I am going to be working like crazy and then at the end of the week, I finally get to let my hair down for three days in a row!!!!!!!!

We Hide What We Hate About Ourselves

Due to my own lack of attention to the scheduling on my blog, I realized I did not have a post scheduled for today. So, I as I had very little time last night when I came home from work, I decided that it was about time CARAMEL’S CORNER reviewed one of my very own books! (I know – how outrageous!!!) Don’t worry, there are lots of reviews from books written by other WordPress bloggers in the pipeline, but I need to finish them off, and work is depleting my mental energy. So today I will tell you a little about my very first novel, “WE HIDE WHAT WE HATE ABOUT OURSELVES”.

I still can’t believe I wrote a book! As many of you knew, I started with one flash fiction post in response to a writing prompt – but it grew. It grew and grew and grew! I found myself putting in a lot of personal thoughts, feelings and experiences. But that was not enough. I started to include conversations I had shared with friends, and some of their experiences and emotional reactions went into the story of my fictional character Annabelle Riley. So although, Annabelle and the other characters are fictional, they are very much based on very real, very personal accounts of my own and of some of my dearest friends.

I guess that is one of the reasons why no matter what I write in the future, I am always going to be deeply fond of how Annabelle’s story is revealed in “WE HIDE WHAT WE HATE ABOUT OURSELVES” (which turned out to be Part One of a three part series). Everytime I scrutinise my manuscript, trying to spot typos and errors in need of correction, Annabelle’s story still pulls enormously on my heart strings.

Anyway….I have not told you much about the story yet! Well, some of you know all about Annabelle…but for those of you who don’t – he is a basic outline of what to expect from “WE HIDE WHAT WE HATE ABOUT OURSELVES”

What started out as a lighthearted romance, ended up developing into a coming of age story of a character who for the first time in her life is really facing up to mental health challenges that she has ignored and tried to hide. We find Annabelle at a sort of crossroads in her life, in the sleepy town of Blackwood in Wisconsin. Chris Ward cannot help but notice the very beautiful and vivacious Annabelle and he tries very hard to impress her. But Annabelle is cautious to allow Chris to befriend her, and gradually we learn more about what has brought her to Blackwood and what she has been hiding from everyone who knows her. This book is much more than a romance, it is the story of a young woman learning about life, learning about forgiveness and real friendships, learning to grow as a person and make decisions regarding her future happiness, learning about trust and about love itself. Annabelle’s story became a true journey of life lessons.

I think that is enough of a teaser for now. Now, I know this is my book, and I am not going to go to town telling you how great it is (even though I am proud of Annabelle’s story), but what I will say is this…most of the feedback I have had from friends, family and others who have read “WE HIDE WHAT WE HATE ABOUT OURSELVES” is that they love the characters. I find it fascinating that of all the characters, it seems that Dean Mathers (you will have to read it if you want to know who Dean is) is the most popular. I had so much fun developing Dean’s character! The really odd thing was, I started writing Annabelle’s story before Jack and I made peace. So when I first mentioned Dean being this person in the past who had hurt Annabelle, I was thinking of Jack. So, when Jack and I got together, suddenly Dean started to become more important to the storyline.

I really really loved thinking of the characters, getting to know their personalities, their habits, their values, their ways of speaking to each other. To me, character development is one of the most satisfying aspects of writing. I drew so much inspiration from friends in developing those characters and put a lot of real life mannerisms into my fictional tale. It’s a very joyful thing to read the story and see these distinct people jump out from the page and interact with each other. I just love Ralph Crabbe and Burt and Pearl Jennings – love them!

I knew that the big debate for some readers would be between Chris Ward and Robin Grainger. I deliberately made sure that both men have their flaws and their lovable points. I loved describing the tension and jealousy between the two men.

Annabelle’s character was sometimes harder to work on. But then I realized why about half way through the story when I was talking to a publisher about Annabelle. The truth is Annabelle is quite lost at times, she is still getting to know herself throughout her story. She lets us in slowly because she is guarded about who she trusts. In the first few chapters it is mainly other characters that explain Annabelle until she starts to find her own voice and slowly reveals more about her life.

She is facing her mental health challenges for the first time, so she is up and down. She has emotional outbursts, she gets stressed and frustrated, she wants fragile at times, but she also is slowly although painfully making some progress and becoming stronger. In fact, Annabelle has a big journey ahead of her as she starts to accept help with her mental health. Book one “WE HIDE WHAT WE HATE ABOUT OURSELVES” is just the start for her.

Annabelle’s story includes some pretty heavy subjects, but I have made every attempt to keep her story overall lighthearted and easy to read, and it is my genuine hope that you will love reading her epic emotional voyage.


You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.


Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet



Today I am reviewing “Zion” a book written by Racheal, the creator of Racheal’s Novels. But if you are sharp, you may notice that Racheal seems to have a writing name… “Ash Digest”. Please correct me if I have that the way round Racheal.

“Zion” is the first book in a trilogy. Book Two and Book Three are also available on Amazon and I will be reviewing them at some point. One of the most remarkable details about this book was that at the age of thirteen years old Racheal started writing “Zion“, and went on to complete the trilogy by the time she was sixteen. Woooh hoooooh!!! Go Racheal!!!!!!! That is super-cool to have three of your novels published on Amazon by the time you are sixteen.

My main impression when I began reading Zion, was wow! It reads as if you are watching an action movie. I try not to compare – but there is a Star Wars/ Battlestar Galactica feel to the story, that makes it easy to imagine in your mind. Racheal packs a lot of action in right from the start.

She also plants the seeds into what will develop into a great storyline, which is carried through the three books which make up the entire Zion Trilogy.

I was quickly trying to work out what was going to happen, how the characters were connected to each other, and who was going to win. I had so many questions and Racheal likes to reveal them when they spring a surprise at he readers. She is a clever girl!

In Book One I sense that she is helping readers to get to know her main characters, who feature as the storyline develops. I don’t want to drop spoilers, but I was particularly drawn to her character development. She shows the strengths and weaknesses and inner secrets of her characters, and we see them, courageous, terrified, clever, funny, confused and full of strong faith. With so much gripping action and drama in some parts of the book, the backstory and character development was very enjoyable and balanced out the pace of the read.

As any first book of a trilogy should do, I reached the end of Zion, thinking “I can’t wait to find out what happens next!”


You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.


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Heart Songs


This week I am very pleased to be reviewing a collection of poems that I was deeply touched by. Many of you will know of Michelle, a blogger with a beautiful heart, the creator of Mws R Writings. The first poetry book I bought from Michelle’s collection (I believe she has published four poetry books so far) was “Heart Songs“.

I think Michelle is on exactly the right track with the titles of her poetry books. “Heart Songs“, like her other poetry is totally heartfelt from start to finish. If you already follow Michelle as a blogger, you probably will be to an advantage in reading her poetry. She has shared her heart on her WordPress blog, but does so even more poignantly in her poetry.

woman sitting on bed while holding book

Her poetry book made me feel so much affection for her. On a personal note, I love that she employs so much rhyme. I am very partial to songlike poems with rhyming verses. I enjoyed Michelle’s style of poetry so much that I read her book from cover to cover, before I went right back to the beginning and read each poem more slowly.

I know from her WordPress blog that Michelle has reasons to have sadness in her heart. Sadness is one of the strands of”Heart Songs“, but throughout her collection, her poems reveal her efforts to rise above sadness and to focus on healing, finding joy, loving, living. There is a line from the very first poem in this collection that I hope Michelle is happy for me to share with you:

"....I am just a poet with a heart full of either hurt or joy..."
red roses on book

Hurt and sadness…joy and strength…but above all a desire to love. There are times when you can sense that it is taking a lot of effort to not let sadness rule the heart of the poet. But this heart is victorious. She sings!

What resonated with me is that effort to not to be swallowed up by sadness. Some of Michelle’s poems contain reasoning, as if she is persuading her own heart. Sometimes we have to do that. Sometimes we have to battle with our own hearts, our own negative feelings, gently steering them in a more positive, helpful, nourishing direction. I appreciate that some of Michelle’s poems are almost like therapy, a mini-counselling session, but penned in a song-like poetry that will help you to remember the lesson learnt.

I really did love Michelle’s heartfelt poetry, particularly because it showed in a beautiful way that even when you have genuine causes for sorrow, sadness does not need to control you or define who you are. Hope, joy, and love are still within reach.

Book, Love, Heart, Read, Paper, Romantic

After a beautiful, heartwarming, inspiring of song-like poems is the last page: Michelle’s Biography! What a beautiful heart she has! A heart that tasted deep sadness but can sing, she can sing songs of love and joy!

Thank you Michelle – for sharing so much of your beautiful heart with us through your gorgeous poems.


You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.


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Wish Upon A Leaf


This week I am reviewing one of my favourite books written by Teresa Grabs, who many of us know as The Haunted Wordsmith, but has now created The Word Cubby. I own five of Teresa’s books and I have shared a couple of them with the younger ones in my family. I like all of Teresa’s stories, but especially her young reader books.

Wish Upon A Leaf” is ideal for readers aged 9-12 years old. But I loved it. It is a truly heartwarming story. Very early on in the book, I became very fond of the three children, Timothy, Sarah and Edward, who are the main characters in this book, and the more their character were developed the more I wished for them to have a happy ending.

I love the way Teresa builds a vivid picture of the world surrounding the children. I also grew to like the adult characters in the story who were are concerned for the children’s welfare.

Person, Human, Child, Girl, Hat, Book

Even though it is a long time since I was a 9-12 years of age, I found the story held my attention from start to finish and firmly tugged on my heart strings. My nieces and nephews absolutely loved this story.

My own parents were concerned with the content of the books I read, so I think that authors seeking to craft a book that will appeal to children, they ought to be aware that responsible parents/guardians may wish to vet books before their children read them.

I think Teresa has done a fantastic job of crafting a delightful story which will touch young hearts and leave them with an uplifting message. I would be very happy to recommend the story to any of my friends who have children as I think they will fall in love with Timothy, Sarah and Edward, just as I did.


You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.


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Managing The Depression Puzzle


Today I am going to review one of the most impressive books written by a blogger whom I respect immensely. Of all the books written by WordPress bloggers that I have bought and read, “Managing The Depression Puzzle” written by Ashley Peterson, the creator of Mental Health @ Home, is one of the most useful and valuable.

I have to read a lot of health related material in connection with my role within the NHS. As well as having relatives and friends with mental health challenges I also have had a taste of trauma, despair and intense emotions after some of my own experiences. Here is a quote from the World Health Organisation on the subject of mental health:

“Mental disorders afflict hundreds of millions of people in every part of the world and impact on the lives of their loved ones. One in four people will be affected by mental disorder at some point in their lives.

Depression is the single largest contributor to worldwide disability. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are among the most severe and disabling disorders.

Although huge numbers of people are affected, mental disorders remain hidden, neglected and discriminated against.”

World Health Organization (WHO).

It is my belief that some people are still frightened about the subject of our mental health, even though all people, people of all ages and cultures, should be aware of what can impact both their physical, emotional and mental health. The value of a health professional like Ashley Peterson writing articles on WordPress about mental health and producing comprehensive books is highly appreciated.

Ashley has already published three books and I bought and read all three in fascination. I am reviewing “Managing The Depression Puzzle” because it is so fresh in my mind.

The most important thing I wanted to mention to you is that right from the start I love the tone of this book. I felt as if Ashley was an experienced guide and was holding my hand and reassuring me, as she explained all sorts of facets of a mental health diagnosis and the array of potential treatments to aid recovery. As I mentioned above, there is still so much fear as well as stigma about mental health. So to read this book and to feel as if I was not on my own, but Ashley’s calm and wise voice was going over things step by step, and at a pace that was comfortable to read was very helpful.

Student, Typing, Keyboard, Text, Startup

Ashley clearly knows her subject. Her professional experience shines through from start to finish. She has been careful to cite her resources which makes her work even more authoritative and authentic. But if you know anything about Ashley, you will know she has been there, and she has the T-Shirt! Yes, one of the most significant factors in reducing fear and providing reassurance is the way Ashley candidly mentions her own experience throughout her book.

I mentioned earlier that I have had some challenges myself, and at times it was irritating when people told me what I should do to “get-over” it and move on with life. I have started reading some mental health resources and given up quickly because they were so unrelatable and frankly provoking.

But I did not feel this way at all when I read Ashley’s “Managing The Depression Puzzle“. I never felt patronised or pressured towards one treatment option. Ashley dignifies her readers in presenting clear information and allowing them to determine how useful it is to them. I especially appreciated that, because decisions on medications, therapies and matters like spirituality may be deeply personal. Whoever you are, whatever makes you “you”, Ashley communicates a respect for you being the one who is equipped to make decisions.

Communicate, Brainstorm, Logo, Face

She is careful not to endorse on the basis of what has worked for her, explaining how different we all are, and that what may work for one person may not work for another. But in providing information on a wide range of treatment options, from medications and therapies, from physical factors such as nutrition, exercise and sleep to perhaps more emotional factors such as pleasurable activity, creativity and spirituality, Ashley looks holistically at all of the aspects that can add up to make a significant difference to any of us who are aware we need to address mental health challenges that are impacting negatively on our enjoyment and satisfaction in life.

This book is excellent for anyone who has experienced any form of depression or another diagnosed mental health condition. I think it a great aid for those working within a medical field. However, even if you have not (or perhaps we should say not yet) had to avail yourself of professional assistance to support your mental health, a very large section of Ashley’s book still of great benefit. I say this because all of us have good days and bad days, all of us find it hard to maintain balance. So in the process of detailing and discussing all of the factors that can make a difference to our mental health, Ashley has shone light on how all of us can be aware of how becoming unbalanced, or neglecting some of the factors that make you “you” and me “me” overtime, can be detrimental to us.

We live in a world that is changing rapidly. Perhaps so far, your life has been relatively calm. But what if your stress levels began to increase and your mental health began to suffer? The last few chapters of “Managing The Depression Puzzle” deal with some of the frightening challenges that may come along with a mental health crisis. Yet again, Ashley provides tremendously reassuring practical suggestions that indicate that even if your darkest fears came descended before you, there is so much help available.

One of the most helpful aids to managing your own depression puzzle or mental health challenges is somebody who knows what they are talking about. Not only have they studied the subject inside and out, but they have also experienced what it is like to go through a mental health crisis and to try different treatment options to aid their recovery.

Ashley Peterson is an absolute treasure! Through her writing she is making an invaluable contribution to mental health resources. I am sure that not only will you be impressed by her in-depth knowledge, but also you will find that in candidly sharing so much of herself, she provided reassurance and that feeling that you are not alone in the sometimes frightening field of mental health.


You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.


Preposterous Tales From The Newbury Short Story Teller


The book I have chosen to review in this week’s CARMAEL’S CORNER is the perfect solution for feeling blue about all the silliness in the world at large. I bought a book written by Martin Strike, who you may know as The Newbury Short Story Teller. I love Martin’s very humorous stories, which often show a farcical side to people and life. He complied a fantastic collection of his short stories and published them in the sensational “Preposterous Tales From The Newbury Short Story Teller”.

I used to live in Newbury Town Centre, and then later I moved to a beautiful estate a few miles from Newbury. So for me, it is easy to conjure up images when Martin references locations in the Newbury area. I found it a very happy reminder of a place I came to love.

But even if you don’t know Newbury I heartily recommend this book to you. Why? Because we all need some laughs! Martin’s writing is packed with humour. Every story from start to finish will bring smiles to your face. The comic characters, descriptions and conversations he employs can’t fail to cheer you up.

People, Woman, Girl, Female, ReadingOf all the books I have bought from WordPress readers I have to say, this was the one that left me in the best spirits. His compilation of light hearted and very amusing tales, which highlight some of the absurdities of human behaviour (and it’s not only Newbury where you will find oddballs) are a terrific read.

If you would like a treat to pick up your mood, I definitely would recommend Martin’s “Preposterous Tales From The Newbury Short Story Teller”, because it is great fun and full of great storytelling.


You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations (books written by WordPress bloggers), please leave a message in the comments below.


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