REVIEW: ‘Les Misérables, School Edition’ – Stantonbury Theatre, Milton Keynes, July 2015


A cast of talented young revolutionaries stormed their way through the epic songs and struggles of Les Misérables at Stantonbury Theatre on Friday evening.

In a bid to demonstrate “what little people can do”, Rare Productions invited city students aged 8 to 21 to join their crusade to bring the timeless tale of broken dreams, unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption to the stage in a special School Edition.

The end result was an emotive, entertaining and engaging adaptation of the legendary musical.


Les Misérables School Edition. Stantonbury Theatre. RARE Productions. Illustration of a young girl in a blazer clutching a pile of books. The titles of the books are: 'Les Misérables, School Edition', 'Piano Vocals', 'Student Libretto' and 'Study Guide'.


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BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Cake Shop In The Garden’ by Carole Matthews, July 2015


The Cake Shop in the Garden, a book by Carole Matthews.

Carole serves up a slice of life with her new paperback, The Cake Shop In The Garden


Bestselling author Carole Matthews lives life to the full and seems to find inspiration for her riveting romantic fiction novels everywhere. She has lived in Milton Keynes with her other half, Lovely Kev, for fifteen years and many of her entertaining books are set in the new city.

Carole’s most recent yarn, The Cake Shop In The Garden, features the area of Milton Keynes (or “the Costa del Keynes” as she affectionately calls it when chatting on social media) near the Grand Union Canal. The sights, sounds and domestic situations within a sprawling house in the pretty (and fictitious) village of Whittan spring off the page as soon as chapter one begins.

Fay Merryweather runs a popular cake shop from her beautiful garden. She whips up delicious treats, ensures her customers feel completely at home and tends to the grounds – while also looking after her belligerent, bed-bound, mother. It quickly becomes obvious that this protagonist could take a leaf out of our Carole’s book when it comes to seizing new opportunities and taking responsibility for her own happiness.   View Post

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Christmas Party’ by Carole Matthews, November 2014


The Christmas Party The Christmas Party, a festive book by Carole Matthews.


The tree may not be up quite yet but now we have entered November there is a definite sense that Christmas – and the Christmas party – is not too far away. The shops are full of decorations and gifts; festive functions are being planned; and, more importantly, author Carole Matthews has a brand new seasonal paperback out.

The Christmas Party is Carole’s 25th novel and she has marked this impressive milestone by producing yet another warm, witty and wonderful story. Despite having penned so many unique and unputdownable tales, it seems that there is no shortage of ideas in this lovely lady’s imagination.

Drawing on inspiration from her own attendance as a guest at corporate Yuletide shindigs, Carole has created a cast of memorable and believable characters associated with the Milton Keynes office of a fictional oil company.

The book is set over just a few days: the day of the Christmas party, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This may seem an exceptionally short time-span but it works very well and an awful lot of action is deftly packed into the narrative.

Through Carole’s usual lively prose, readers are introduced to various Fossil Oil employees and their other halves. With little preamble, we soon delve into their personal lives and are privy to the secrets (romantic and professional) that make this Christmas party a night to remember for all concerned.

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BOOK REVIEW: ‘A Place To Call Home’ by Carole Matthews, May 2014


WE ALL NEED A PLACE TO CALL HOMEA Place to Call Home by Carole Matthews.


Bestselling author Carole Matthews is celebrated for her romantic comedy novels but her latest paperback, A Place To Call Home, shows that she can sensitively tackle hard-hitting issues too.

Domestic violence, fear and cultural difference all feature in A Place To Call Home. However, through a cast of likeable characters and her usual lively prose, Carole ensures an uplifting read.

For most people, the maxim ‘there is no place like home’ rings true. But, for the less fortunate, home is not the sanctuary it should be.

This book emphasises the importance of the people we surround ourselves with. Sometimes it takes monumental courage, a lot of trust and a little bit of luck to overcome your difficulties and make a new beginning.

Central character Ayesha moved from her native Sri Lanka to Milton Keynes (a decade before the start of the story) to meet and marry her husband, Suresh Rasheed. Their first year of marriage was a happy one but, once baby daughter Sabina arrived, Suresh grew more withdrawn, possessive and controlling.

The story opens as Ayesha and eight-year-old Sabina flee the house they share with Suresh and his parents. In the dead of night they slip quietly away, leaving behind the life of mental and physical abuse that Ayesha has endured – and fears Sabina may fall victim to next. View Post

BOOK REVIEW: ‘Calling Mrs Christmas’ by Carole Matthews, August 2013


The cover of Calling Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews, a seasonal book that is full of festive fun. The snowy scene a woman dressed in red boots, a red dress and a red Father Christmas hat. She stood next to a Christmas tree, on a path that leads to a large house that is adorned with festive decorations.



“Deck the halls with boughs of holly …!”


While the sun streams in through the open window and social media alerts inform me that everyone I know is jetting off on their summer holidays, I can be found with my nose in Carole Matthews’ latest Christmas-themed novel, Calling Mrs Christmas.

Internationally bestselling romantic comedy author Carole lives in Milton Keynes and releases two books a year – one in time for some summer fun and one as a Christmassy treat. Tales of romance, family and friendship guarantee a page-turner every time and Carole’s dedicated fans eagerly await each new release.

Some of her books are set in the ‘Costa del Keynes’ (a little Carole-ism which I find myself adopting with frightening regularity) and showcase local haunts. The rest feature other parts of the UK, often with a few chapters spent in some exciting location or other (giving our Carole the perfect excuse to escape her office in the new city and enjoy a research trip with partner Lovely Kev).

I was fortunate enough to receive a pre-release edition of Calling Mrs Christmas, the twenty-third novel from this talented lady. Unsurprisingly, this Christmas cracker shot straight to the top of my “to read” pile!

Pick up any of Carole’s books and you can expect upbeat prose, a strong storyline and captivating characters. Calling Mrs Christmas delivers these and more. View Post