Cornish Reading Challenge 2017

It’s back! You thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you? We may have missed St Piran’s Day, but the Cornish Reading Challenge will still be running in 2017 – from May 13th until May 27th.


As usual, we’ll have a host of incredible authors involved. We’ll have guest posts, book reviews, giveaways, recommendations, and many more exciting things!

On May 17th & 18th, we’ll be focusing on the West Country as a whole. This will include writers who live in the West Country, and any work set there – including my own short story collection, Weltanschauung. Grave Oversight and Only If are set in Plymouth, and I’m super excited to be getting involved as an author this year, as well as a blogger.

The Cornish Reading Challenge brings writers, readers, and bloggers together to celebrate a love of Cornwall and Cornish literature. We talk about what inspires us to write, the Cornish books that suck us in and transport us to one of the most beautiful places in England. We’ll be talking about writing in Cornwall, writing about Cornwall, and supporting Cornish authors.

Keep your eyes peeled for further information in the coming months. Get ready for two weeks of celebrating all things Cornish!

If you want to get involved, pop me an email at, or tweet me, @VikkiPatis, using #CornishReadingChallenge.

Cornish Reading Challenge 2016: Thank You!

The second annual Cornish Reading Challenge ends today.

I know, sad faces everywhere. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who got involved. To all the authors who wrote guest posts and ran competitions; to all the bloggers who helped spread the word; to everyone who entered the giveaways and commented on the posts with their favourite books and Cornish places; and to all of you who got involved on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


This blog wouldn’t be successful without people reading the posts and joining in with the features. It’s amazing knowing that the posts are interesting and worthwhile, and having the support of everyone means the world to us.


A special thank you to Liz Fenwick, for writing a guest post and giving away a copy of Under A Cornish Sky; to Sharon Tregenza, for reviewing two lovely Cornish books; to Amanda Jennings for sharing her story, and Orenda Books, for providing a copy of In Her Wake as my book for the challenge; to Jane Cable for her guest post, and SeaKisses for their giveaway; to Angela Britnell for her thoughts, and for reaching out to me.

You’re all fantastic, and the Cornish Reading Challenge couldn’t be successful without you. Here’s to next year!

#CornishReadingChallenge | @VikkiPatis

Cornish Reading Challenge 2016: Breathing Underwater by Julia Green

Author and Cornish maid Sharon Tregenza reviews Breathing Underwater by Julia Green as part of the Cornish Reading Challenge.

breathing underwater


Fourteen-year old Freya returns to the Cornish Island where, only a year before, her beloved brother met a mysterious death. Was it an accident or something far more sinister?

Julia Green’s book tells the story of a young girl coming to terms with grief and how death affects a family. It’s a poignant novel for the YA market.

It’s also a tender story of first love. There’s an array of diverse characters as well as the tantalising “presence” of the drowned boy. Is Joe a ghost or is he real?

The chapters alternate between past and present and build a satisfying tension as Freya struggles with the pain of her emotions.

“Breathing Underwater” is a mesmerising book, well crafted and full of the feel of Cornwall and its tides. There is a dream-like quality to this work. The descriptions of seas and skies glow like Cornish light. The island setting is perfect too, the geographical seclusion mirrors Freya’s feelings of remoteness from reality.

I loved ‘Breathing Underwater”. The passages flow easily and I read it in one sitting. It’s a mystery, a “coming of age” story and much, much more. Sharon-pic1

Visit Sharon Tregenza’s website to find out more about her work, or find her on Facebook, sharontregenzabooks, or Twitter,@sharontregenza.




Cornish Reading Challenge 2016: Amanda Jennings

Amanda Jennings, proud Cornish maid and talented author, explains why Cornwall means so much to her.

I am fifty percent Cornish. My mother and her family, back through many generations, are proudly Cornish. And I’m equally proud of my fifty percent.

My other half is Pinner. This bit I’m less proud of. Nothing against Pinner, of course, it just doesn’t have quite the same romance attached to it.


I adore Cornwall. Ever since I can remember it’s been a part of who I am. As children we used so spend part of the summer there. We would bundle into the car, tummies fizzing with anticipation, and spend the long drive counting down the miles whilst gazing out of the windows, counting yellow cars or trying to spot dartmoor ponies, and eventually excitedly craning our necks for that first glimpse of the sea. Once down there, our days would be spent eating fish and chips from the paper, warm and dry in a parked car, overlooking stormy waves as the wind and rain raged around us. Or building camps in the woods below my gran’s house. Or getting hot and sunburnt while running in and out of the freezing sea and building villages in the sand that we would decorate with seaweed and shells and flags made from lolly sticks.

Then there were the post-beach baths to wash the sticky Sennen Cove sand from our bodies, warming up as the multi-coloured grains gathered like silt in Gran’s bathtub which was the same pink as a conch shell. We used to go down for Christmas too, and today there is still a New Year’s day swim. It’s a tradition, emerging blue and cold and tingling, to a nip of cherry brandy.

Gran was born and bred in Cornwall. Her father was the headmaster of the local secondary school in Penzance, and her mother, like her, was an optician. Both women worked their entire lives in Penzance. Gran was also the optician who covered the Scilly Isles. As a child I thought this was terribly glamorous, her boarding a helicopter to fly over to these beautiful, seemingly-tropical, islands where the sun always shined and the sea is was clear as the Caribbean and the same colour turquoise.

aj1My grandmother was a keen amateur actress, and regularly performed at the Minack Theatre, Shakespeare her favourite, on the magical stage that overlooks the sea. She loved to take us there and we would spend the afternoon making pasties, carefully carving our initials into them, then packing them into a cool bag with flasks of coffee and hot chocolate. Then we would set off for the theatre, where we would sit with blankets over our knees and thin cushions beneath us which provided little comfort on the stone seats carved into the cliff.

Gran was passionately Cornish. Even as she approached a hundred years old, there was no way she was ever going to leave either her home or Cornwall. She stayed obstinately put, living independently as she always had. She died on Mother’s Day last year, a few months before her centenary. She passed away peacefully with my mother beside her, in her bed with its beautiful view of St Michael’s Mount and the sea.

In Her Wake is dedicated to my Gran. Sadly, she died before it was published, but she was ever so delighted I’d set it in Cornwall. My parents now have a house in Zennor, and the village and its mermaid play an important role in the book. My own children, and my sister’s, now spend their summers at my parents’ house and its wonderful to watch them cementing their own indelible relationship with this ruggedly beautiful corner of England. They are becoming as passionate about Cornwall as the rest of us, and though they might only be a quarter Cornish, it’s a quarter they are very, very proud of.


To find out more about Jennings and her work, visit her website, or follow her on Twitter, @mandajjennings. To read my review of In Her Wake as part of the Cornish Reading Challenge, click here.

Cornish Reading Challenge 2016: Angela Britnell

Meet Cornishwoman-turned-Tennessean author Angela Britnell, and find out why she writes about Cornwall.

angelia britnell

I’m excited to be a part of this reading challenge to celebrate all the wonderful books set in Cornwall and the West Country.

First, I have to confess to a deep abiding belief that there is no more beautiful place in the world, partly because I was lucky enough to be born there! I’ve travelled extensively, and lived in Nashville, Tennessee now for nearly twenty years, but retain the same almost childlike thrill when I cross the Tamar Bridge back into Cornwall.

I grew up in a small village in china clay country, not the most picturesque part of the county but special in its own way. Forcing me to pick a favourite place in Cornwall is rather like telling me to pick your favourite child, and my three sons know I could never do that! But if I must choose, then it has to be Mevagissey. For those who don’t know, it’s a typical Cornish fishing village – think pastel-painted cottages clinging to steep hills and leading down to a pretty harbour. If you’re a fan of the wonderful ‘Doc Martin’ TV series, the fictional Port Wenn (Port Isaac in real life) is very similar to Mevagissey. I’m drawn to it partly because of its natural beauty, but mainly because it’s where my mother grew up, and I’m related to half the people there! My grandfather was a Mevagissey fisherman and onetime harbourmaster, and my grandmother worked in the fish factory on the quay. These days, Mevagissey is more of a tourist destination and the fishing industry struggles to survive.

When I started to write contemporary romantic fiction about fifteen years ago, I naturally gravitated towards featuring Cornwall in my stories and it remains at the core of my writing. Cornwall’s remote location is a plus because my characters often need to get away from their normal lives for various interesting reasons! The changing moods of the landscape, from summery and sunny to dark and brooding, doesn’t hurt either for adding layers to a story.

I could name many of the familiar Cornish set books as favourites of mine but at the moment it has to be Winston Graham’s ‘Poldark’ series. I read them in the 1970’s when the first television series came out and am now joyfully re-reading them – I could claim it has nothing to do with the gorgeous Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark in the new TV series, but I’d be struck down by a bolt of lightning! Seriously though, Winston Graham is a truly wonderful writer and captures Cornwall and its people in a very special way.

The eBook I’m offering today as a giveaway prize is ‘The Wedding Reject Table.’ It’s a light hearted romantic novella published by Choc Lit and features Maggie Taylor, a cake decorator, and Chad Robertson, a lawyer from Nashville Tennessee, who meet at a wedding in Cornwall when they’re both assigned to ‘the reject table.’ Chad solves her wedding cake disaster and raises her hopes because a ruined cake is only one of her problems. I’m thrilled that it’s been shortlisted for a RoNA award this year by the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Thank you again Vikki for inviting me to be here today, and I hope everyone discovers more Cornish books and authors that they grow to love!

Visit Angela’s website for more information, or find her on Twitter and Facebook.

To enter the giveaway, simply email your details to, or get in touch on Twitter: @VikkiPatis #CornishReadingChallenge

Cornish Reading Challenge 2016: A Sea of Stars by Kate Maryon

Author and Cornish maid Sharon Tregenza reviews A Sea Of Stars by Kate Maryon as part of the Cornish Reading Challenge.

a sea of stars


Twelve-year old Maya wants to go surfing with her friends but her mother is over protective – or does she have a reason to fear for Maya’s safety? Then the wild and wonderful Cat comes on the scene as a prospective sister and life changes dramatically – for everyone.

But Maya isn’t sure if she really wants this massive change in her life. When her parents tell her the news Maya says “And I should have been excited; I should, because who wouldn’t be when their dream has just come true? And I tried very hard to smile about it, but I couldn’t get my lips to work properly. I just froze to the spot and my tummy clenched up as if my insides had turned into this big skipping rope and someone was knotting it up all tight.”

Secrets and tension unfold amid the beauty of the dramatic Cornish coast. Will the two very different girls ever become true sisters?

Maryon’s writing style is effervescent – here sad, there funny, always engaging. The tone is perfect for its Middle Grade readership. You are immediately drawn into the story and care deeply for Maya and her mixed emotions.

Importantly, “A Sea of Stars” is now required reading for all people hoping to adopt in Cornwall and recommended reading for many other counties.

It’s a super book – a bright shining joy of a book. I highly recommend it for readers of all ages. Sharon-pic1

Visit Sharon Tregenza’s website to find out more about her work, or find her on Facebook, sharontregenzabooks, or Twitter,@sharontregenza.

Cornish Reading Challenge: In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

As part of the Cornish Reading Challenge 2016, I read In Her Wake by the incredibly talented Amanda Jennings.

A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life. Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.


In Her Wake is the tale of Bella Campbell, as she is forced upon a road that leads to discovery – of her family, of her past, of herself. This journey leads her to Cornwall, where she uncovers secret after secret, in an attempt to finally uncover who she really is.

The imagery evoked by Jennings is beautiful. The rugged Cornish landscape, so familiar to me, was brought back in a nostalgic rush with her words. The siren’s call of the sea, so wonderfully described, reminds me of my own early days in Cornwall, before I was accepted as an honourary Cornish maid. If you love Cornwall, either as a local or an emmet, you’ll love getting lost in this book.

Jennings also does something I’ve never seen before – the inclusion of the Cornish language. A wonderful addition to an already beautifully compelling novel.

Reading this book reminded me of being a girl from upcountry, thrust into the depths of Cornwall, but with an open mind and an open heart. Cornwall (and Plymouth, which I make no apology for loving as well), filled them.

In Her Wake twists at every turn. You’ll think you know where you are, and then Jennings will do it again. Superb.

You can download In Her Wake now, and the paperback will be published by Orenda Books in April. To find out more, visit the publisher’s website, or follow the author on Twitter, @MandaJJennings.

What are you reading for the Cornish Reading Challenge 2016? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter!

@VikkiPatis | #CornishReadingChallenge