Blackberry Wine – Book Review

As a fan of contemporary literature, I love a good story. Over the years I have developed a taste for narratives that are complex, well told and written in short chapters. This week I want to share a book which has all of these elements and many more.

BlackBerry Wine – Delicious and Tempting

This story is about Jay Mackintosh and is partly told through the lens of a bottle of long-brewed wine which he holds dear to him. His ‘specials’ (the wine bottles) remind him of his childhood stays at his grandparents’ where he explored the northern landscapes and befriended an old man who was filled with tall tales and gardening tips. He also made homemade blackberry wine.

Now, Jay has decided to follow his dream and move to a quaint village in France -Lansquenet- where he bought a run-down farm house and began writing another book. His big selling novel was several years earlier and he hadn’t been able to replicate that book for lack of ideas.

In Lansquenet (also a setting for the Chocolat novels) he finds a split family with a mysterious rift. He also makes friends with the initially suspicious locals. When an ex arrives from England to mix things up, Jay has a wake up call that changes his outlook on things.

Haunted by memories of the intriguing old man, Joe, he finds himself torn between memories, hopes and emotional awakening.

In A Nutshell

As always, Joanne has written a narrative which is fascinating, warm and full of twists and turns. It is not a thriller but sits well as a strong drama. The story is carefully written, with elements which seem unrelated but then become clearly woven together in a satisfying way.

Final Thoughts

Check out Blackberry Wine and see for yourself. Even though it was published in 2000 it is still highly relevant, really entertaining and well worth reading with a coffee on a rainy day (I say this as rain is going to soon be the most common type of weather in the UK – thanks climate change). Please comment your own thoughts on this book and share if possible.

To learn more about Joanne Harris’ books, visit her author website.

For another of my book review posts, check out my thoughts on Three Wishes by Australian author Liane Moriarty.

If you have Kindle Unlimited, perhaps you would like to check out my original short stories. I would appreciate some reads to celebrate the fourth birthday of my book Short Dates. Thank you so much for checking out my bookish blog,

Read, Watch, Listen (January)

Recently I have had a few weeks off work for the Christmas holidays. I mainly spent it on holiday but I fortunately found some time to catch up on some quality TV shows, read a few chapters of a good book and turn on some music that I enjoyed. Usually I mention a podcast but currently I am still listening to the same podcasts that I reviewed previously so I chose to mention one of my favourite singers this time instead.

So, I hope that I can interest you in the following sources of entertainment. One is a YA book by two established writers, another is a cooking show which concentrates on Italian cuisine, and the third is an album of memorable songs by a legendary vocalist.

Reading: What If It’s Us (by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera)

I really enjoy YA books by certain authors. Becky Albertalli is one of my absolute faves and I now have a great respect for Adam Silvera too. It was only a matter of time before I got around to reading a book that they jointly wrote.

Anyone who knows me will be aware that I love to read stories told from more than one point of view. This book has that. Ben and Arthur meet randomly in a post office queue in New York and are then totally intrigued by one another. Their LGBTQ story is well told and funny. Although I am only half way through, I am drawn into the lives of these two characters as they deal with all sorts of things, including family issues, friendship dilemmas and the possibility of dating each other.

Watching: StanleyTucci: Searching For Italy

As a massive fan of Italy, ever since I went to Rome and Pompeii in 2000, I was excited to find that Stanley Tucci had decided to make a cookery show where he travels around Italy and discovers the history behind some exquisite and traditional cuisine.

One week he went to Piedmont and the city of Turin (its capital) in the northern area of Italy. His calm, likeable nature makes him a brilliant presenter and you find yourself fascinated by his family heritage and the stories that he tells about how Italian food has been his love for his entire life.

I am so grateful to him for homing in on different parts of Italy and highlighting specific local foods. The only down side is that most of the food involves loads of butter or fats. But putting that aside, it all looks absolutely delicious. I now have Turin at the top of my holiday list and have been inspired to go to many of the places that he explored.

Listening to : Whitney Houston

After seeing the wonderful movie ‘Whitney: I Wanna Dance With Somebody,’ I have been swept up with memories of this incredible performer. Being lucky enough to see her at her best on 1999 and witnessing her perform again twice, I have always been a massive Whitney fan.

I have been replaying some of her greatest hits and watching some of her greatest performances on Youtube. Here are a few of my favourites:

In A Nutshell

I have been watching a lot of TV shows and films and will probably review a few individual books in the next few months. Hopefully, sharing a couple of examples of ones that I am loving may inspire you. Please comment your thoughts on these and whether or not they grab your interest. Perhaps there is a similar book you have just read.

Being Watched – My Little Book (Snippet)

Today I wanted to share another extract from my new YA mystery book – ‘Being Watched’ which is available in Kindle and Paperback at all the usual places. I hope that it grabs your interest.

Here goes…

It was getting close to twilight when I called out to mum.

“I’m off to hang out with Max.”

“Alright, remember your key,” she yelled back as I undid the door that linked the garage to the kitchen.


I had picked up some crisps and other vital supplies on my way down and squeezed a bottle of lemonade into my rucksack before picking up my bike. I took a deep breath and was just about to leave when my phone started ringing. It was Max.

“Sorry man, I can’t make it,” he said with a frog in his throat. “You know how much I wanna be there. My throat has flared up and I have just been sick.”

“Oh man. That sucks,” I said shrugging my shoulders.

“Can we do it tomorrow instead?” he said with a genuine sound of someone who was not well.

“Don’t worry. We got this,” I said, putting the phone down and opening the garage up. I wheeled my bike out, clicked off the light and pulled the door down behind me. Taking a deep breath, I switched on my lights and took off.


My first stop would be the local shop. I needed to see if they had any garlic, just in case it was a vampire. Ok this was a long shot, but you have to be prepared for everything right? As I zoomed through the aisles, I soon set eyes on a clove of garlic and chucked it into my basket. Nearby they sold kitchen knives so I thought I may as well get one of those too. It would take the place of a stake just in case I needed to stick whatever was in there in its chest.


Maybe I was getting too carried away and this was starting to be me acting out my favourite movies a little, but I knew Siobhan would be pleased that I had taken precautions. To my surprise, when I got to the checkout, the cashier asked me for ID as she said I could only buy a knife if I had proof of age. Of course, that was one thing I had forgot to bring with me so I gave her the knife back and paid for the garlic. I also grabbed some cheap chocolate buttons to add to my supplies. I knew Siobhan had a soft spot for them and we might both need some instant energy during our mission. Especially if things got really scary.


I threw that idea to the back of my thoughts and got back on my bike. I didn’t want to be late and leaver her waiting for me at the top of that hill. My feet ached a little as I had done some cricket practise earlier. Every time I turned the pedals they reminded me that I had fallen over trying to catch a long ball. Eventually I neared the top of the road and could see her stood next to her bike, earphones on, staring at her phone. She waved when she caught a glimpse of me.

“Hey, what took you so long?” she jested, knowing full well that we were both early.

“What you listening to?” I asked as I got off my bike and sidled up with her.

“Shawn Mendes. What else?” she replied, as if to say it was obvious.

“You know Max can’t make it? He came over sick.”

“That guy is sick. For sure,” she laughed, not really meaning it in a bad way, but equally not referring to him being cool either.

“Are you ready for this?” I asked, nervously.