Comfort Reading

from-above-2859257_1920 I’m not going to lie, January is not my favourite month. I know it is supposed to be the time for new starts, resolutions, diets, spending the month alcohol free, or, as I discovered this year, trying a vegan diet for the month, but for me January is a month for hibernating. Whether it is the energy slump after Christmas, the dark evenings and even darker mornings, or the gloomy weather, I find that when January comes around, all I want to do is curl up under a blanket with a mug of tea, a tin of biscuits and a good book. With the help of Goodreads, I have also realised that January is a month for binge reading as many books in a series as I possibly can. This time last year, I was captivated by the adventures of Percy Jackson and friends, having devoured both the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the Heroes of Olympus series within a month. January 2016 saw me buried deep in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices. This year, it is the turn of Patricia Cornwell, as I revisit her Kay Scarpetta series, which I first read as a teenager.

Anyone who knows me will tell you how much I love a good series. Nothing makes me happier than picking up a book and discovering that it is part of a series, and nothing frustrates me more than having to wait for the next instalment to be published. I remember sitting on the front door step waiting for the postman whenever the new Harry Potter book was released, and the devastation I felt at the end of the last book when I knew there were no more to come. Personally, I blame my mother for this addiction as she was the one who first introduced me to the wonder of the book series when she sat me down with The Famous Five and the Chronicles of Narnia as a child.


What is it though about a series that draws me to them time and time again, and particularly at this time of year? Aside from those annoying cliffhangers which mean you just have to read the next book as soon as it is available, I believe it is the comfort factor. Even with a series that you wouldn’t necessarily consider a comfort read (I’m looking at you, George R.R. Martin), I find a sense of calm in settling down to read a sequel. The characters greet you like an old friend and welcome you back into their lives. You know their histories and understand the ways of the world that they live in. It feels like coming home – even if that home is sometimes dark and mysterious. I love becoming fully invested in the characters, watching them grow and develop throughout each book, feeling their joy and their pain. Even the throw the book across the room heartbreak at the unexpected death of a favourite character is something that is met with a sense of doom-laden anticipation. No matter what devastation the next book may bring, I just can’t resist.

In an ever-changing world of uncertainty, I think I will be sticking to the familiarity that a good book series offers. I am on the constant look out for new ones if you have any suggestions. Now, if you’ll excuse me, a certain Chief Medical Examiner requires my assistance with an investigation – I’m on my way Dr. Scarpetta!


Book Review

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back – Sariah Wilson

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back (The Ugly Stepsister Series Book 1)  As a Cinderella retelling, viewed from the perspective of an ugly stepsister, this book had the potential to be all too predictable and sickly sweet. However, the delightfully cynical nature of Mattie, the eponymous ugly stepsister, stops this from being the case. Constantly belittled via Skype by her absent mother, Mattie has cast herself in the role of ugly stepsister and misfit, viewing the beautiful, outgoing Ella as the perfect fairy tale princess, complete with handsome prince in the form of Jake, Mattie’s crush since she was a child. But, as this book shows, what people see on the outside is not always what is true of the person on the inside, and princesses don’t always want to wear their crowns.

The inclusion of chapters showing the story from Jake’s point of view is a lovely touch, and adds a depth to a character who might otherwise appear unworthy of our heroine’s devotion.

With touches of John Hughes and The Princess Diaries, this book is a must read for fairy tale lovers of all ages.

Meet the Author

Jennifer Gilmour

Jennifer Gilmour

About Jennifer:

Born in the north-east, Jennifer is a young, married mum with three children. In addition to being an author, she is an entrepreneur, running a family business from her home-base. Her blog posts have a large readership of other young mums in business.

From an early age, Jennifer has had a passion for writing and started gathering ideas and plot lines from her teenage years. A passionate advocate for women in abusive relationships, she has drawn on her personal experiences to write her first novel Isolation Junction. It details the journey of a young woman from the despair of an emotionally abusive and unhappy marriage to develop the confidence to challenge and change her life and to love again.

Since the publication of her debut novel, Jennifer has continued to be an advocate for those in abusive relationships through her blog posts, radio interviews and Twitter feed. Jennifer also gained a qualification in facilitating a recover programme for those who have been in abusive relationships.

Jennifer continues to publicly support those who are isolated and struggle to have a voice. Jennifer hopes that Clipped Wings give’s a voice to survivor’s experiences and raise’s awareness further of the types of unacceptable behaviour which fall into the category of domestic abuse.


Get to know Jennifer:

What was your original inspiration to start to write?

I was on an awareness course about Domestic Abuse. Alongside me were about 8 other women who had been in abusive relationships. As the day progressed, I found that I simply couldn’t believe that some of what the other women were saying was exactly what I had gone through but just in a different format. Domestic Abuse tends to go in a cycle (see photo below) and whichever way it begins, the behaviour spirals again and again. At first it could be months between incidents but for me, as time went on there were many instances within one day. It is quite normal to try to prevent the cycle from starting again by changing your behaviour as much as possible. By the end of the course I had come to understand that we were all subjected to the same behaviour and that no one knew before that this could even happen to someone i.e. that a relationship can be so unhealthy and soul destroying. I realised that others simply needed to know more about this unacceptable behaviour; they needed to see the warning signs before the relationship goes further or the behaviour gets even more serious.  On the other hand I needed others to see the behaviour for what it is. If people are in a relationship and the behaviour within it is not acceptable and is not their fault, it can’t simply be changed by changing yourself.


I knew I had a story to tell and with my previous unfinished written work I realised my first novel had to be more than a book but a message – a way for others to be able to pass a book on to help victims and to get the penny to drop and bring about realisation of what is happening sooner. This means that when the relationship ends victims and survivors realise they are not the only ones out there and its ok to talk about the abuse. 

How do you focus and not let your work with domestic abuse affect you emotionally?

Originally I didn’t look after myself and worked on Isolation Junction, blog posts and research even if I wasn’t in a good place. I couldn’t switch off to what I felt needed to be exposed and couldn’t understand why something so common was hidden so well. It did take its toll on me and I am happy to admit and address this. The solution was simple and that was to train myself to channel my thoughts and focus on my current happenings and not letting my mind wander. It can be still a challenge but I feel like I manage myself better and take a healthier approach.

How do you direct people who may need support after reading your books?

At the end of my books there is a message from me which include the UK 24-hour free-phone National Domestic Violence helpline, which is 0808 2000 247. There is also a support page on my website;

I do receive a lot of messages and I have personally referred to local centres, once I directed someone in Africa to her local support service. I have been a listening ear to many as well, the first step is telling someone about whats happened to you and so I urge anyone to speak to a ‘safe’ person or service. ‘safe’ meaning someone who isn’t involved with the perpetrator or who you most certainly can be trusted and will help you.

What do you do aside from writing?

I am a mum of three which keeps me pretty busy when I am not writing; I have a 5, 7 and almost 2 year old. As a family we enjoy the hobby Geocaching which gets us out and about, learning about the local area as well as having some fun. It can get rather competitive, if you haven’t heard of it Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

I am also a Jamberry Nail Wraps Consultant which brings in most of my income to support my work in the domestic abuse sector including my writing. You can find out more about that on my other website:





Clipped Wings on Amazon UK;

Clipped Wings on Amazon USA;

Goodreads author profile;

Clipped Wings on Goodreads;

Huffington post blogger profile;


Isolation Junction – Jennifer Gilmour


Starting from today, 8th January, and running until Friday 12th January, the lovely Jennifer Gilmour is offering her novel, Isolation Junction, for free on Amazon Kindle. You can find my review of the book here, but in the meantime, in her own words, Jennifer explains why she has chosen to do this:-

My name is Jennifer Gilmour and I am a survivor of domestic abuse, I have published two books both with a focus on raising awareness about domestic abuse at their core. Whilst both aim to raise this awareness one is written as a work of fiction whilst the other is a compilation of survivor stories and therefore non-fiction. Both work in different ways to educate and raise awareness of this insidious and unacceptable behaviour.

Over Christmas, incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police rise. Assault and domestic murders increase 25% during the festive period with a third of them been on Christmas Day itself. Bombarded with images of the perfect nuclear family gathered around the gold baubles of a Christmas tree, it can be easy to forget that Christmas is a time of coercion, punishment and violence for many women* and men.

Now I know it isn’t Christmas anymore but January can be just as bad because all those credit card bills come in alongside your usual direct debits. There is even a day in January called Blue Monday and this year it’s on the 15th. The date is generally reported as falling on the third Monday in January, but also on the second or fourth Monday, or the Monday of the last full week of January.

The formula uses many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.

Can you imagine this formula and applying it to an abusive relationship?

For 5 days my debut novel Isolation Junction is going to be FREE on Amazon Kindle, this is the first time ever to happen. It’s the week before Blue Monday, I wonder if those reading will be inspired to take action?

I ask you all to share the link and break the silence surrounding domestic abuse.

UK link:

US link:


Book Review

Isolation Junction – Jennifer Gilmour

IsolationJunction Cover


Ice cold rain splattered her face; her toes and fingers were numb and yet she sat there huddled up and gently rocking herself. It was a black night with no stars, like someone had just switched off the sky. The only light shining on her face was the orange glow of a single street light. Rose couldn’t cope anymore, she was crying into her hands so hard it hurt her heart; it was a deep spike of a pain rushing through her body and this wasn’t the first time she had felt it.

Rose is the mother of two young children, and finds herself living a robotic life with an abusive and controlling husband. While she struggles to maintain a calm front for the sake of her children, inside Rose is dying and trapped in ‘Isolation Junction’.

She runs an online business from home, because Darren won’t let her work outside the house. Through this, she meets other mums and finds courage to attend networking events, while Darren is at work, to promote her business.

It’s at one of these events that Rose meets Tim, a sympathetic, dark-haired stranger who unwittingly becomes an important part of her survival.

After years of emotional abuse, of doubting her future and losing all self-confidence, Rose takes a stand. Finding herself distraught, alone and helpless, Rose wonders how she’ll ever escape with her sanity and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1,000 reasons she can’t, will she be able to do it?

Will Tim help her? Will Rose find peace and the happiness she deserves? Can Rose break free from this spiralling life she so desperately wants to change? 


When I start reading this book, I was concerned that the subject matter would make it a difficult book to read, that it would be depressing and upsetting. However, this is not the case at all. Jennifer handles the content sensitively, and although you can feel Rose’s desperation, the way in which the book moves from the present day to flashbacks of the abuse that Rose suffered, means that there is a feeling of hope running throughout the book.

Isolation Junction is such an important read for anyone who finds themselves in an abusive relationship as it shows that there is help available, and a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dark things may seem. I (thankfully) have never found myself in a situation anything like Rose, and this book was a real eye opener for me. Before reading it, I would have said that I didn’t know anyone who had been in an abusive relationship, but now I recognise a lot of what was going on with a friend back when we were in our early twenties. There is so much emphasis on physical abuse that I think people forgot about the mental abuse and coercive behaviour that a lot of victims suffer at the hands of their abuser.

Please read this book and help spread the messages that it contains.

Note from the Author:

Information about Isolation Junction:

Isolation Junction was fully funded by a Kickstarter Campaign which over funded at 110%.

Over eighteen months within 2015-2016 I wrote my first novel with the aim of not only raising awareness of an insidious behaviour which brings hidden misery to so many but of bringing about changes at a national level.  A ‘survivor’ myself, I am well aware that changes to national policies and working practices are still needed so that situations in which women (and men) present in emotionally abusive situations are recognised and dealt with appropriately and with compassion.

I believe that particular training needs to be focused on recognising the perpetrators of this behaviour, as often they are very persuasive people who are able to manipulate the services themselves.

Kickstarter link:

Book Review

Blackbird – N.D. Gomes


This book is a beautifully written, heartbreaking story of how a teenage girl copes in the aftermath of her adored older sister’s disappearance. Whilst the mystery of what happened to Olivia is a theme throughout the book, it is not the most important one for me. Instead, it is a story about how a family claws their way slowly back from the brink of self-destruction, and how a younger sister who worshipped her sibling adjusts to becoming the only child. As all of Alex’s relationships break down around her, the friendship she forms with DI Birkens is particularly touching as they slowly help each other find their way home.

Gomes’ descriptions of Orkney draw you in and really make you feel that you are right there on the island. Alex’s love for the island is clear from the outset, whilst Olivia’s feelings of claustrophobia, both at being trapped on the island, and in the choices she has made, is almost palpable from the short entries told from her perspective. These extracts also provide some valuable details that only Olivia would know, and show just how much she was hiding, and how badly she wanted to reconnect with her sister.

Although initially I did not see the connection between all the blackbirds falling from the skies of America at the same time a young woman disappears on Orkney, as the story unfolded and Alex’s description of how the birds in the sky reminded her of Olivia’s dancing, the symbolism of these two unrelated events became clear.

I did work out what the situation behind Olivia’s disappearance was before it was revealed in the book, but I do not think that writing a great mystery was what the author had in mind. This book goes much deeper than that, and it will be a while before the emotions of the story really leave me.


2017 in Review – The Best of the Bunch


As we enter into 2018, I wanted to commit to memory the best bits of 2017 – time spent with friends and family, favourite songs, films, and, of course, books. For my very first blog post ever, I thought sharing my Top Ten books that I read in 2017 would be a good place to start. Choosing just ten from the sixty or so that I read last year was no easy task, but here they are, pictured above. I won’t bombard you with a review of each of them all at once, but keep your eyes peeled as reviews will be coming throughout the year. I would love to hear your thoughts if you have read any of these, or if you have a Top Ten of your own.