Reviews & Comments

A space for any comments, feedback and suggestions around my writing and writing in general.

40 thoughts on “Reviews & Comments

  1. Your writing touched everyone in one way or another! You have such a way of making it all sound so real.


  2. Review of The Mountains You Cannot See – an Anthology of Poetry About Mental Health – Amazon review

    “5 star – These poems are extremely thought provoking and moving, they give you an insight about how so many people experience and view mental health illness, reading these poems allows you to acknowledge how important it is for us all to support mental health, whether it’s ours or others, well worth a read” – Lesley Short, Newcastle.


  3. “You definitely have a talent for poetry. Unlike many poets your poetry is fluid, easy to understand at once and to get into”


  4. I thoroughly enjoyed your short stories in the published anthologies and on line. Your writing is raw, gritty, emotionally charged, relatable and filled with humour. I look forward to reading your book when it’s published.


  5. The Dinner Club – Review

    This book will take you on a wonderful journey of friendship filled with laughter , emotion and love. A real page turner that will make you want more with every chapter and even a sequel .

    A highly recommended book from a talented author. This book has something for everyone. A five star read!


  6. The Dinner Club book, 5 Star

    A delightful book to nourish the soul
    Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 March 2022
    From the first page, the book welcomes you in, make you feel like one of the characters. The beautifully written descriptions of the characters, help you fall in love with them, they are your friends, family, colleagues.

    The story is a journey of happiness, grief, finding yourself, being, becoming and belonging.

    I sobbed through the latter chapters, feeling the grief of loss, but at the same time, rejoicing with the characters as they embark on their onward journeys.


  7. Most heart warming book I have read!!
    Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 March 2022
    Wow what a book! I was drawn in from the start and haven’t been able to put it down!! I’ve laughed, cried a lot and finished it with a warm heart ❤
    Thank you Helen ( I can’t wait to read more)

    The Dinner Club review


  8. The Dinner Club – Brill book by a talented author. Had me laughing a crying. Will touch the soles of everyone.
    Five ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


  9. The Dinner Club review, by Bobs and Books blogger ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    It is fair to say that even though putting something in the microwave to me is cooking, I really want to join this group for dinner club.

    We start by meeting Derek and whilst he is getting to grips with his new world without his wife, he experiments with cooking. He is a very endearing character, and coming to terms with being comfortable in himself is something he strives for.. Its adorable.

    Eddie, Florence, Violet and Cara make up a wonderful cast list. Each have their own different battles to face which are far from easy, The group works so well as an accidental support group and I love that.

    These characters all felt very rich and real to me, and I like that the point of view shifts between the characters. I think its that which adds to the depth.

    There are sections which will make you giggle, some will make you cry- this is an emotional rollercoaster of a read in the best possible way. This does tackle some tricky subjects of loss, grief and domestic violence but also lots of love, positivity, and embracing your individuality.

    If you fancy some foodie escapism, this is the read for you. If you like quirky, good hearted characters, look no further.

    Engaging, sweet and charming.


  10. The Dinner Club

    If I had to describe this book in one word it would be – real. This is every day life and ordinary people, mingled together – it shows how much we all need social interaction and I think we all feel a heightened sense of that after lockdown.

    The characters you will get to know (and love) could easily be your neighbour, the young girl on the bus, the lady at the shop. They are so well written, full of personality, flaws, foibles … all the things that make people real.

    There are sad moments and joyous scenes – as in life but each is dealt with in such a rich way, you feel absorbed into the situations. I could almost taste the cup of tea and the biscuits in some scenes – warning, you will feel peckish, the dinner club eat some good food!

    When I finished, it felt like someone had given me a really warm hug. A brilliant debut by a talented author, highly recommended.


  11. The Dinner Club – 4 Star Review

    This is such a heartwarming read, all of the characters are adorable (except Ben of course!)

    I loved reading about how the dinner club started and how the group came together. The different POV’s really enable you to get to know each character, whilst I have loved seeing the group develop, I’m not ready to let go of them! Regular dinner clubs are needed!!

    I have always loved the idea of a dinner club and these are the exact sort of character I would want to be a part of.


  12. I don’t have enough words for this great one day read that pulled me into the lives of these humble characters. I felt myself wishing for my own dinner club with people from different walks. I also felt I met some new friends and adored every one of these characters and I truly related to some of their struggles. I loved Derek’s rise in standing up for himself. The beloved elderly Florence who the whole world would love to sit and have tea with! Cara, who overcomes so much on her own through her young life. Eddie’s journey, through the relatable subject of grief and being a single parent. Violet’s relationship and her grueling journey through domestic demise! I loved the descriptives of food prepared so eloquently by each character in this wonderful group that were so supportive of each other! I seriously couldn’t stop reading this book! My thanks to Helen Aitchison for taking me away for the day into a great enjoyable read! Bravo!


  13. The Dinner Club ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I found myself immediately drawn in by the relatable main characters: Derek, so downtrodden and bullied by his once-“comfy pair of slippers” wife, excited at the outset of his bachelorhood and wrestling with a secret; Eddie, intensely in love with his deceased wife Issy, so much that he can’t imagine life without her; Florence, a sharp mind in an ailing body; Cara, getting by on desperation and spiky charm; and Violet, the broken wife. All of them are drawn for different reasons to join Derek’s dinner club — based on the cheery British reality show called (in the book) Dine In With Me.

    The main characters are introduced one at a time, gently, letting the reader in on their lives a bit at a time, digging slowly deeper into their inner thoughts and emotions. It could feel a bit exposition-heavy, but the author blends it seamlessly into each story. Every character is rounded, three-dimensional. I always get bogged down if the dialogue doesn’t feel natural in a story, and here the dialogue flows and moves the plot forward in a really natural way. I especially love the interaction between Derek and his best friend Bri.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say the food is the star of the story, but — the food! Derek’s culinary explorations had me figuratively drooling at various points in the story. His growth is reflected not only in the process of coming to terms with himself and his new life but also in his growing confidence in the kitchen.

    Once the main premise is established, the story wastes no time. The characters, with all their baggage, bumble and buzz and collide in different ways as they find their places in the story and in the world. You might think you know how the story will end, or how each character will end up — but no matter what, you’ll be surprised and maybe a bit gratified.

    Helen’s novel is a comfortable read, with likeable characters that will resonate with the reader. You’ll want to curl up in an armchair and devour it in one go — whether to follow Derek’s culinary journey or to find out what happens to the people in the story who appeal most to you.

    And you’ll probably want to cook yourself something delicious to go with it!


  14. Fabulous book, congratulations Helen. I love the Northernisms & the characters are just lovely. A heartwarming read.


  15. The Dinner Club Review – 5 star

    Five people.

    Five secrets.

    Five characters for you to fall in love with.

    Although The Dinner Club is a place for cooking, eating and socialising… it’s also so much more than that. It’s an escape from reality. A place where, for a temporary time, the characters don’t have to think about their vulnerabilities and can present themselves as whoever they want people to see. And although some choose to keep secrets while others use The Dinner Club as a way of expressing themselves, it doesn’t take long for the pain and truth of each character to unravel.

    This book covers so many issues within the characters, from domestic abuse to grief to homelessness. Every reader is going to find at least one character relatable to an extent. And if they don’t… well, they’re very lucky.

    I particularly love Cara. Maybe because she’s such an underdog, maybe because there’s an aspect of her personality that’s very relatable to me. But I don’t want to reveal and spoil. I couldn’t help but spend the whole book just rooting for her. And then there’s dear old Florence… damn. She took me on a right journey of tears and laughter. I sometimes struggled reading her sections. Not because I didn’t like her or anything negative… she just made me miss the fact all my grandparents are gone from this world, with her nurturing nature. No matter how much time you spend with your grandparents before they go, you still feel as if they had tons of stories you’ve missed out on. Maybe Florence was, for me, the character who made me confront one of my own biggest issues: grief.

    (Why am I crying as I’m writing this? Damn, Helen! Haha.)

    As a person who’s dealt with mental health issues my whole life and been through more than I probably should have, this book has taught me one major, major thing: your trauma, your secrets, your vulnerabilities… they are not you. They may shape you but they are not your entire personality. And never be afraid and feel like you have to hide them, because people who truly accept you and love you for you won’t ever judge or make you feel any less of a human.

    So, well done, Helen, for writing a truly incredible book.


  16. After reading this story I want to join my own Dinner Club.

    There are five people in this story with five completely surprising secrets. The people are as varied as their secrets and yet they form the most amazing circle of friends who love, support, and most importantly accept each other just as they are.

    Derek, who forms the dinner club, is adjusting to single life after his wife leaves him. Eddie is adjusting to life as a widower and now single father to a young girl. Florence, the oldest of group wants a new adventure, a chance to create memories. Violet is desperate for a distraction from her abusive husband. Cara is struggling to find her footing after having aged out of foster care.

    What starts as a way to enjoy food and cooking among strangers becomes a safe place for everyone mentioned above, a place to talk about anything and everything, a sounding board for big decisions and friends who will stay true and loyal for life.

    As the story progresses we learn each character’s secret and also get to see how they come to decisions they need to make regarding these secrets. This part is so well done by the author. The gradual trust among the friends and revealing of the secrets, the way they all joined close around each other in love and support. I felt like I was reading about actual people and I keep wanting to check for updates on how things are going with them all.

    Everyone will be able to relate to to at least on aspect of these people and their secrets, if not more. This novel is a beautiful reminder that what we all need most in the world is love and acceptance, regardless of our differences. Deep down we all just need to know we have a place where we are not judged and people are not trying to change us. Ms. Aitchison does a beautiful job of illustrating this through the stories of these people. I couldn’t help but love and root for each and every one, except for Ben, that is. I cannot wait to see what Helen Aitchison writes next. She is a very gifted story teller.

    Thank you to Cahill Davis for the copy of this novel in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own.



  17. The Dinner Club by Helen Aitchison

    Derek has not been living his best life. His wife has been rude and demeaning to him for years, lowering his self-esteem, causing anxiety, and creating self-doubt. Now that they have separated, Derek is ready to improve himself and start fresh. But he’s unsure how. Until he starts to watch cooking shows and discovers the joy cooking brings to him! He makes a decision and posts an ad at the local grocery store to find others, like him, that love food and cooking but need some friends to share the meals with.

    Slowly, inquiries come in, and Derek plans a get-to-know-you meeting. They are a small group of men and women diverse in age, occupations, and lifestyles, but they all seem like a great fit for the dinner club.

    They are all nervous about the first evening of dining together, especially Derek, as he is hosting and has more to show to them than just his cooking skills. He has a deeply hidden secret that he hopes the others will accept.

    As the group becomes friends, they discover that they all have things that they have kept back from sharing with the group that they each slowly reveal. And, one person’s secret is urgent to escape from.

    “I really enjoyed The Dinner Club! It started a bit slowly, but once it got going, I got into the story of each person and what was happening in their lives. I love that a group of strangers came together and made the world a brighter place for each other!”-Books and Pens on Green Gables

    I was given The Dinner Club to read and review. Thank you!



  18. Dinner Club Review *****

    I could not put this holiday read down!! Soaked up every page and became enraptured by every character. Didn’t want to get to the end… Absolutely sublime!


  19. Dinner Club Review *****

    so well written with great realistic character’s and a flowing story line, no bells or whistles needed just good honest writing , fun at times and drama when needed, opens your eyes and heart to a range of social issues but not too heavy a read


  20. Dinner Club Review *****

    There’s a lot going on in the world at the moment, so it was a relief to escape into a well-written, compelling but ultimately sweet read where good things happen to good people. With the vibe of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, it was the perfect read. I loved it.


  21. Dinner Club Review *****

    Oh my, I’m not one to review normally but with this book I just couldn’t wait to get to the end of the page to turn and see what happens next. A BRILLIANT story and inspirational book that makes you realise how true connections are so important and new connections can be life changing.

    Don’t hesitate, you’ll love it.


  22. Dinner Club Review *****

    I absolutely adore this book; five ordinary people from completely different backgrounds who come together to share food and friendship. The writing is gentle and thoughtful, and the writer allows the reader to get to the know and care about the characters. Helen Aitchison has a truly wonderful and unique style of writing that is authentic and believable. It was funny, witty and heart breaking at times, but thoroughly enjoyable. I

    would recommend it to anyone, to read it, and I can’t wait for the next book by this very talented writer.


  23. Dinner Club Review *****

    What a grest page turner this book was. I didn’t want to put it down. Made me laugh and cry. Well done Helen Aitchison a beautifully written story of strangers coming together. I want to join the Dinner Club myself. A really great book


  24. Dinner Club Review *****

    After very little reading in recent years, I have to admit that this book has reignited my love of reading. Once I started I found it difficult to put it down. The characters were all so different but I enjoyed each and every one of them and their coming together for the dinner club. I loved the variety of emotions the book evoked, from laughter to crying and a general willingness of the characters to find their happy endings. A fantastic read and I look forward to seeing more from this author in the future.

    Thank you for reminding me of the wonders of reading!!!


  25. Dinner Club Review *****

    What a stunner of a debut (full-length) novel!

    I fell in love with Derek’s character from the first page, but it’s not just about him. There are a whole host of beautifully written characters that give this story such heart.

    Helen weaves in the back stories of the dinner club members and their motivations for joining it with great skill and empathy for their individual circumstances. Finding connection over the delicious dining experiences they create really tugs at that ancient human ritual of bonding community with food.

    I cried, I laughed, and I cried again.

    Adding Helen to my list of ‘must buy as soon as they release a book’ authors.


  26. Dinner Club Review *****

    Wow, what an absolutely amazing debut novel. I was hooked from the start and I found myself very quickly becoming attached to all of the characters for different reasons. Their stories and secrets were told with love and feeling and on more than one occasion I found myself linked to them on a personal level. This is a story that can be easily related to modern day living today. I found I wanted the book to go on and on and I want to find a Dinner Club!! It’s had me laughing and crying and I hope for more novels from Helen Aitchison. Fab and thank you.


  27. Dinner Club Review *****

    This beautifully written and crafted book took me on a such an incredible journey. I’d been looking forward to its release for some time and the author surpassed all my expectations. The characters are so well realised…each one felt real to me, and it was an absolute pleasure to spend time in their company. I cried as they struggled through adversity and loss…and laughed along with them through the happy times.

    There is so much depth and soul to Helen Aitchison’s writing. I can’t wait to read more from this supremely talented author. Highly recommended! (The only downside was when I finished this book after just two sittings…I just wanted more! And that’s the sign of a very good book!)


  28. Dinner Club Review *****

    I loved this book from the moment I started reading. So beautifully written and I especially loved how each of the character’s ‘secrets’ was handled sensitively and respectfully. I was particularly impressed with Helen Aitchinson’s handling of the domestic violence issue. It wasn’t needlessly over-dramatized and the survivor’s experience came across as authentic, having sadly been in this position myself in the past. A talented author and a wonderful debut novel. I’m looking forward to her next book.


  29. Dinner Club Review *****

    This is an amazing book I couldn’t put it down. Every page made you want to be part of that dinner club. The characters were so real we lived experience that intertwined. Look it so much I’ve gifted to others. Brilliant debut novel well done to a very talented lady.


  30. Dinner Club Review *****

    This is Helen’s debut novel and she absolutely smashed it 👏 🙌 The story is heart-warming, gut wrenching and inspiring. The main characters – Derek, Florence, Cara, Eddie and Violet are real, down to earth and so relatable. Five strangers, each going through their own storms, meet through their mutual love of good food only to become a one big family family, one that supports, nurtures and accepts each other just as they are and as a result each of them becoming the best version of themselves.
    This book took me on a rollercoaster of different emotions – it made me laugh, throw my kindle through the window, happy and shed tears at the end of the book.

    Highly recommended! 🙌 Well done, Helen! I can’t wait to read your next book 🙏 💜


  31. Dinner Club Review ****

    This is not my normal genre but I really enjoyed it. I did find it a little slow going to start with but once all the main characters had been introduced the pace quickened and I found myself drawn into each of them. All of the five main characters are going through personal issues/traumas and each is introduced gradually as the book progresses. Wonderful characterisations. Well written, with a touch of humour, this is an endearing read.

    Briefly, when Derek’s wife leaves him because of what she calls his ‘perversion’ he picks himself up and decides to start a dinner club. With the number settled at four we meet the other three diners. Florence, an elderly lady whose mind remains active but her body is failing. Eddie, a widower who is struggling to deal with the tragic death of his wife. And Violet, an abused wife who wants to leave her husband but doesn’t have the strength to do so. Alongside these there is also Cara, a young woman who has been in and out of care for most of her life but who is determined to make something of herself.

    Although this is a seemingly lighthearted read it does deal with a number of serious issues. Loss, illness, physical and mental abuse, and more but there is also love, support, friendship and acceptance; acceptance for who you are or for what cards life has dealt you. Lots of wonderful messages and ultimately a joyful and uplifting read. A great debut novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


  32. Dinner Club Review *****

    A book which is both funny and emotional. I really enjoyed it. Great character development and a wonderfully warm storyline.


  33. Dinner Club Review *****

    An amazing debut novel!

    From the very first page I was hooked on a journey with all of the characters. I found myself unable to put this book down . I was hungry (no pun intended) to find out what lay ahead for the members of the Dinner Club. Helen writes beautifully, weaving their stories together perfectly . Covering really tough topics with empathy and compassion in her writing. One of the many things that stood out to me was the positivity that flows between this group of characters . Despite the situations they find themselves in they can lean in towards each other for support . The biggest group of encouragers. When you close the book the story and the characters stay with you – a sign of a really special book.

    Well done Helen, I’m really looking forward to your future releases


  34. Dinner Club Review *****

    I absolutely LOVED this book! It’s the heart warming tale of five people who come together over a love of food. It’s way more than a book about food though. This is a tale of people, love, bravery, self-discovery, friendship, hope, compassion, loss and so much more.

    The Dinner Club introduces us to Derek, Eddie, Violet, Cara and the gorgeous Florence. They are the most lovable, realistic, relatable characters you could wish to meet in one book. I didn’t get too far before feeling like I knew each and every one of them and that I was also a member of their little gang! The author managed to achieve characters that were not just believable but felt like people you already knew and I absolutely fell in love with them. I found myself willing them on and wanting the very best for them every step of the way.

    This voyage of discovery (with the adorable Derek steering the ship) brought a tear to my eye and made me laugh out loud. Honestly, I didn’t want the adventure to end.

    I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.


  35. Dinner Club Review *****

    I will start by saying I am not a reader, I usually buy a book with the intention of reading but then it never gets opened. So I started skimming through this book and sort of planning when to read it ( if ever) Wow.. I starteded it Saturday Morning and by 5pm I had finished it. The characters were described so vividly and felt so real. I loved the tone of the book and I visualised everything. I can not recommend this highly enough. Helen has brought back the love of reading to me after losing it for at least 30yrs.. Watch this space Helen Aitchison will be a household name in no time.. Can’t wait for the next novel.


  36. Dinner Club Review *****

    Such a heartwarming and moving story…I fell in love with the characters who felt so real and loved how life brought together such an unlikely group of people who complimented each other in so many ways. Really cleverly written and I loved the local-isms…it felt like I could hear the characters talk as I read! I genuinely couldn’t put the book down, the short chapters drew me in and I found myself constantly wanting to know what happened next. I would love to see a follow up and see where the characters take us next!


  37. Wow I’ve just finished the diner club.
    I laughed I cried I could not put it down.
    I felt I knew then all personally.
    Congratulations on your debut novel.
    Looking forward to the next one !!!


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