We did, briefly, wonder whether we were experiencing deja vu when this review came to our notice this morning; the reviewer’s name seemed uncannily familiar. And yes, we checked – Heather Rose Jones has actually reviewed Farah Mendlesohn’s delightful SPRING FLOWERING before. However, on investigation, this turned out to be whole new review in a different venue, six months after the last, although we’re reassured to learn that Heather’s opinion of the book doesn’t seem to have altered in the slightest.

This is a perceptive review, and we especially appreciated this paragraph:

“The most common failure mode of historical romance is to drop modern women into the past and have them react in anachronistic ways. Mendlesohn’s characters are a delightful exception: neither too modern in their self-awareness of their sexuality, nor tormented and angsty about it in a way that only really developed in the 20th century.”

We know that’s what our historical authors are always aiming for, so confirmation that one of them has hit the target is particularly welcome!

The review’s conclusion:

“…a book for those who want their historic romance to be as true to the history as to the romance. I found it a breath of fresh air and hope it will be an inspiration for more stories of this type…”

would make us want to go out and buy the book immediately ourselves, if we didn’t already have a copy or two stashed away. Thank you again, Heather; we really appreciate your good opinion, and are once again grateful to you for sharing it.

The Refugee Council

A guest post by editor Fiona Pickles

As those who were involved in preparing our charity anthology CALL TO ARMS – and, hopefully, also those who bought copies and enjoyed them – may remember, all the proceeds from the sale of this volume go directly to the Refugee Council. We sent them their first ‘royalty payment’ at the end of February, and in return they kindly sent us a letter of thanks and a copy of their ‘Impact Report’ for 2016-17 to enable us to see where our contribution is likely to be spent.

Not only is it nice to be acknowledged by such busy people, it’s also very valuable to have some sort of picture of the work they do. On the whole we could probably have guessed most of it, but there were a few highlights which stood out and captured my imagination, so I thought I would pass those on to you.

In 2016-17, the Refugee Council supported 7,522 refugees and asylum seekers and 3,318 unaccompanied children. They helped 97 young people who had been trafficked – 77 girls and 20 boys. They pushed for refugee status and resettlement funding for Syrian refugees, enabling them to attend university in the UK – and also to apply for passports, so that they can travel abroad to see their families.

They support refugee children whose age is disputed, who are sometimes treated by default as adults and therefore put into unsuitable accommodation; they provide them with language teaching, help with socialisation, access to sports facilities and homework support. They also provide psychotherapeutic services for children and young people, and training and support for foster carers.

In addition to helping refugees with documentation and legal services and steering them towards suitable work and accommodation, they have helped a number of refugee doctors to retrain and requalify so that they can be employed in the NHS. It’s difficult to imagine anything more closely resembling a win-win scenario than this!

There is, too, an extensive programme assisting and supporting destitute asylum seekers who are otherwise forced to rely on the standard asylum support payment of £5.00 per day (about $7.00 US) – intended to cover food, clothes, toiletries, travel and in fact everything else the individual may require. The Refugee Council provides hot meals, showers, laundry and barbering facilities and – perhaps even more importantly – moral support and social opportunities for people who must at times feel very isolated by their position.

In fact, it probably doesn’t take too much imagination to put oneself into the position of an asylum seeker or refugee, hundreds or perhaps thousands of miles from home in a country where the weather, the language, the customs, the clothes and just about everything else are not only unfamiliar but potentially quite terrifying. Getting away from the threats, the violence, the famine or the fear in their home country and making a difficult journey half-way around the world is only the beginning of the story for them. Once they arrive in the UK, however, the Refugee Council is – together with Oxfam, Amnesty International UK, the British Red Cross and a number of other organisations with dovetailing remits – right there in the front line of people stepping up to welcome them and help them to settle in.

All in all, then, it’s difficult to think of a better use for our “ill-gotten gains” than to support the Refugee Council in their sterling efforts, and we look forward to sending them further payments every three months throughout what we hope will be the long lifetime of CALL TO ARMS.

You can find more information about the work of the Refugee Council on their website.

We’d like to thank anthology editor Heloise Mezen for nominating the Refugee Council as our chosen charity, and for undertaking all the initial discussions with them. Take a bow, Heloise; none of this would have been possible without you!

New review of A TASTE OF COPPER

We were delighted to see this new review of Elin Gregory’s A TASTE OF COPPER, by reviewer Sammy, which has recently appeared on The Novel Approach Reviews.

For such a short novella, I was thrilled by the lush quality of this author’s writing. From the stark beauty of the countryside to the harsh living conditions that Maheris and Olivier endure while guarding the bridge, I felt fully immersed into this medieval tale. I rarely find many novels in this genre that have both a ripping good storyline as well as such attention to detail. A Taste of Copper managed to both educate and entertain, and that places this historical romance at the top of the genre for me.

Thank you, Sammy, we loved it too – although I suppose that goes without saying! – but you’ve articulated the book’s merits so much better that we ever could have done. It really is a little gem!

New review of SHEEP’S CLOTHING

We’re delighted to say that another new review has crossed our path this morning, this time from reviewer Jules at The Novel Approach who has recently been reading Elin Gregory’s SHEEP’S CLOTHING.

It’s not a long book so Jules has very wisely kept the review short to match – but it does include this wonderful passage:

“I found myself immediately taken in by the cheeky humor of the story and the characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed author Elin Gregory’s easy comedic style and dialogue. […] I loved the originality of this fun little read. Definitely check this one out if you’re in the mood for something different that will make you chuckle!”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves, Jules – and thank you for your time and your comments!


Once more we’re indebted to our friends over at the Historical Novel Society for some hugely encouraging reviews of our output. HNS reviewer Viviane Crystal has been considering two of our more recent publications, with highly gratifying results:

Speaking of Morgan Cheshire’s A TIME TO KEEP, the reviewer clearly enjoyed the author’s gentle tone:

This story of their love is depicted in serene, peaceful ways, highlighting the normalcy of their relationship

and concludes by calling it “[n]icely crafted historical fiction“, with which we can only concur!

The reviewer was also impressed with our Second World War anthology CALL TO ARMS, singling out some stories for individual mention – such as Megan Reddaway’s ‘The Man Who Loved Pigs’ and Julie Bozza’s ‘We Live Without A Future’ – before concluding that the book as a whole is “An interesting […] and memorably inspiring body of historical fiction.

Coming from someone who presumably by definition reads a great deal of historical fiction, this is quite an accolade – and one we’re immensely pleased with.

Thank you so much, Viviane Crystal and the HNS! We’re thrilled that you enjoyed our books so much, and grateful that you took the time to let us know!


A reviewer rather splendidly named Optimist King’s Wench, over at Boy Meets Boy Reviews, has been enjoying her first encounter with Elin Gregory’s writing through reading her highly-praised THE BONES OF OUR FATHERS.

Among other very welcome comments there is this delightful paragraph:

“This is my first experience with this author and even though there weren’t a lot of bells and whistles that I typically enjoy in my reads what I realized somewhere along the way was a growing familiarity with these characters that snuck up on me. It’s a quiet story that packs a punch, a sneaky, ninja punch, but still.”

Since we definitely know Elin to be a sneaky ninja, we’d have to agree with this assessment…

Thank you, Optimist, we’re glad you enjoyed the book, and hope you and other readers will be intrigued enough to follow up on some of Elin’s other titles as well!

QUEER COMPANY 3 – Early bird rate extended!

Following our recent Twelve Days of Christmas discount promotion, we have decided to retain the Early Bird registration rate of £50.00 until January 31. Full details are available here!

There are still places available at QUEER COMPANY 3, so if you would like to grab a place at the discounted rate now would be a very good moment to do so.

We look forward very much to seeing you all in Manchester at the end of April!


Actually, as we don’t always get notified when new reviews appear, these are a few weeks old by now – the festive season having intervened. Nevertheless we’re always delighted when reviewers take the time to comment on our work!

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On 25 November 2017 Dee England at Love Bytes Reviews gave this assessment of Farah Mendlesohn’s debut novel SPRING FLOWERING:

This wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t for me. If you enjoy historical lesbian fiction with an extremely languid pace, and a sex scene or two to spice it up, this could be just the ticket.

Disappointing as this is, we do understand that it’s not possible to hit the bullseye every time – and we’re also aware that many readers consider the book’s leisurely construction one of its greatest assets – so we’ll thank the reviewer for their time and politely agree to disagree on this one, we think!

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Also at Love Bytes Reviews, Becca – in a review published on December 13 – delivered an emotional response to Morgan Cheshire’s Rainbow Award winning A TIME TO KEEP.

This book was exceptional. It depicts the life of two very young lovers as they start their journey and live their lives. […] The story weaves you on a path full of love, hope and loss in a very … almost poetic way.

Having witnessed the writing process at close quarters we know this review will mean a great deal to the author, so on Morgan’s behalf we’d like to thank the reviewer for her most encouraging words.

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It’s not impossible that there are more reviews, of these and other MANIFOLD PRESS titles, which haven’t reached us yet at Megaheadquarters. If you know of one that we haven’t mentioned, on a substantive review site or blog, please don’t assume we’ve seen it and ignored it; the day-to-day practicalities of keeping the Press going often mean that things get missed accidentally, and we’re always grateful for a timely reminder!

Our Famous Twelve Days of Christmas Giveaway – Day Twelve winner

Dear Readers

We’d like to thank everyone for taking part in this year’s festive giveaway. The winner for Day Twelve is Julia, who chose Dorian Dawes’s innovative fantasy horror anthology HARBINGER ISLAND. Fiona will be emailing that to you shortly, Julia!

To those who entered and didn’t win, we hope very much that this won’t put you off exploring our varied back catalogue; there quite literally is something there for every taste! And to those who did win, we know you’ll enjoy your books … and what better way could there be of keeping the New Year Blues at bay?

Our three new titles – APPOINTED LIMITS by Jay Lewis Taylor, and A TASTE OF COPPER and SHEEP’S CLOTHING, both by Elin Gregory, will be out on 1 February – but we’ll be keeping in touch between now and then. Meanwhile, thank you again for joining in – and we wish you all a healthy, peaceful and prosperous 2018.

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