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Adult Fiction

The Allotments

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My debut literary novel follows a year in the lives of a group of allotment holders in a small North Yorkshire market town.


A warm and funny love story, it explores the importance of community and the therapeutic value of gardening, whilst touching on issues like homelessness, disability, loneliness and age.

When the friends uncover corruption that threatens them and the future of all the allotments, they have to find a way to fight back and protect all that is important.

Review by @what_esther_read

What an enjoyable read!

This novel covers the lives of the allotment ‘owners’ in Kirkby over all four seasons and I really enjoyed uncovering the characters lives. And even though I’m not much of a gardener myself, I could imagine myself sitting in one of their sheds with a cuppa in my hand watching the world go by.

The book centres around Josie, Kara and Jack, with lots of other characters in the mix that add to the novel’s charm. They all add to the story even if some characters are quite detestable!

There’s lost and rediscovered family, love, loss, corruption, fraud and even some not so straight forward going’s on in a barn.

Community spirit is the centre of this book and how people can help others when they truly want to, even if some people do their best to try and crush it.

This made a real change from the thrillers I’ve been reading and I enjoyed every moment of it.

Review by @mybooksquares

The book introduces the reader to what is a diverse group of allotment users, allotment lovers and other people who are intent on ruining the sanctuary that it has become for many.

Despite there being a huge cast of (wonderful) characters, not once did I feel like I didn't know who anyone was. 
I enjoyed this story so much I would love for there to be a follow up *hint hint Jean 😆
I hope this is a compliment, but I got real Heidi Swain vibes whilst reading and I think that comes from the skilled way the community feeling was built throughout the book!

Review by @twilight_reader 

This is the most different style of book I’ve read in a long time. Full of friendships, love, community and of course having an allotment. I found this book extremely refreshing as it isn’t the sort of book I’d be drawn to but I was so glad I got the chance to read this.


I found the setting wonderful based in Yorkshire I loved how the author gave you that knowledge through the writing without having to tell you where.

For me I found it so special to read as you truly start to feel like one of them. This has given me so much inspiration to not only want an allotment but to spend time and appreciate the joy that having a garden can give me. I adored how the layout of the book travelled over time too. Every time of year was described beautifully.

I found the pace of this perfect, it wasn’t too fast or too slow but gave me the right balance to fully get to know and appreciate the characters back stories and who they are. I can’t wait to read more from this author to see what other unexpected settings can be bought to life.


This was the perfect balance of joy and reality. On top of all this the cover is the best to spark the curiosity.

Review by @booksnink 

I jumped at the chance to read this as I have had one for nearly half of my life and have been chairlady for the last five years.
Jean writes this book based in the idyllic Yorkshire town of Kirkby and we follow Josie at the beginning who is a widowed former headteacher in her 60’s and she is chairlady of The Allotments.

Jean has captured allotment life perfectly and I could relate to a lot the characters and certain scenes at the beginning with a sleeper in a shed. The characters are extremely believable and I could see quite a few of my own plot holders in the characters throughout the book.


I loved how the different characters came in to the book and how each had a story to tell of their own involving their pasts.
I found this book to be really entertaining and with a number of the characters you really felt for them and their circumstances.

This is a glorious book that shows love and loneliness, tragedy and triumphs and surprises when you least expect them.

Jean’s writing it beautifully descriptive and you really get a solid image of the area and the people. I absolutely loved this book and it was an ideal read for me and it will be for my plot holders as I have spoken to and recommended it to some of them who I know are readers.

Even if you aren’t in to growing your own at home this book really was absolutely lovely to read and who knows it might make you take the leap and look in to finding an allotment around your own area.

Rose Bush
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New Release

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I really enjoyed this heart warming and thought provoking book, rooted as it is in North Yorkshire which I loved. It was good to catch up with the characters from book one, The Allotments, and I loved the new characters. Poppy, the villain of the piece was even nastier than before! Who was the murderer and how it was done kept me guessing all the way through -          I couldn't put it down! I'm hoping there will be a third book, please, Jean!

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Following on from the first book, The Allotments, this book continues the story of Kirkby and its residents as they try to build a new community, The Square, within sight of the allotments. The book also tackles some challenging issues such as blackmail and domestic abuse without being sensationalist. The characters have moved on from the first book, but this story can stand alone. A thoroughly enjoyable read, which you will struggle to put down. Perfect for those with an interest in gardening although not essential!


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Having read The Allotments I have been eagerly awaiting its follow up The Square and I was not disappointed! Great reading and I hope there will be more to come 🙏.

Young Adult

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two degrees

Starting in the year 2039, we follow fifteen-year-old Lexey when she is forced from her home in York by flooding, and goes to stay at her Aunt Jenny’s farm, high on the North York Moors.


Lexey’s father is missing abroad, and when her aunt joins her mother in her search for him, Lexey is left alone with no power, no means of communication and rapidly dwindling food supplies.

Lexey will need to grow up fast, learn to live in a new way, redefine what family means and work out who she can trust… and who she can’t.


Whilst this story should stand as a dire warning of a possible future for us all should global warming continue to increase, it’s also a joyous and heart-warming adventure story of love and hope.

Review by @young_adult_reads_
This book starts off with some really strong worldbuilding. In this story the global warming had taken over and most towns are flooded. It's almost a dystopian Outlook created by men. We het to know Lexey, a 15year old that had been training to deal with floodings all her life. Her father is missing. After a bad floodings she is sent to live with her aunt but after she leaves to get her mother and disappears, Lexey is left on her own. It isn't long until het little family expands though, with one of the most important members being Finn. With her "new" family Lexey learns to survive on her own. Growing her farm and taking care of the house. She faces struggles and overcomes them.

This book shows the problems the world could face because of global warming. It's a warning.

Lexey is a strong, young woman. Even though she is only 15, she feels my age(18) or even older. She is so mature, so independent. We should all learn something from Her. Her kindness. Her strength. Her ways of protecting the earth. Living in sync with nature is possible and Lexey and her family teach us how it's done.

This story is also one of young love. Of 2 teenagers finding each other while having to grow up too fast.
It's a story of communities learning to help each other. Live with each other. It's a story about treating others the same way you wanted to be treated.

This is another book that made me think. It made me think of the small things that i forgot that have An influence on the global warming. The things we all can do to stop it. It made me realise how big this issue is. It also made me realise how strength van come from kindness. Hoe helping others is always the right choice to make.

This story is really strong and compelling. It's so good that I finished it in one sitting. It's amazing.

Review in Publisher's Weekly (

Fifteen-year-old Lexey struggles to navigate countrywide flooding and ongoing ecological catastrophe after becoming separated from her family in this dystopian drama, set in 2039 Yorkshire, England. When devastating floods cut Lexey off from her parents, she’s forced up north to the Yorkshire Moors to take refuge on her idiosyncratic aunt Jenny’s farm. There, she reconnects with—and falls for—childhood friend Finn O’Connell, and welcomes other disaster survivors from myriad locales.


Though some newcomers are not as gracious as others, Lexey, Finn, and their growing found family remain adamant that they should provide aid to as many people as they can, believing that kindness in the face of adversity and a seemingly bleak future is the only path toward survival. Lexey’s life is not without levity; her and Finn’s feel-good budding romance culminates in a hopeful resolution.


Illingworth (The Allotments) capably tackles topics such as climate disaster, death, and grief—and their subsequent effects on one’s mental health—and details what everyday life could look like should global warming and the mistreatment of the planet continue. Characters read as white. Ages 12–up.

Young Adult
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Children's Books

Beach Beings


Beach Beings (or beachies as they call themselves) are very small and live unseen amongst the rock pools of our coastline. This story picks up where we last left siblings, Pebble and Shore, and follows their adventures with their new friends. As the young beachies navigate the joys and challenges of growing up and falling in love, they also face countless dangers, not only from their old enemies the Shell Clan but also from Huge Beings and the sea itself.

Narration is so smooth that I felt like I was on the adventure myself along with Beachies. It’s a story worth reading. Go ahead with this and have a great time.


Updated and republished by Kirkbee Books in Nov 2023 to include a full colour hardback version as well as a paperback

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This story follows the lives of siblings Pebble and Shore as they try to survive on their own. In this adventure, we see the perils of the sea and the seaside from their level. We get to know the other beachies and creatures they meet along the way, learn about their culture and share the dangers they face. The story is fast-moving, exciting, funny and touching, with a strong environmental message, but mostly it's about love and hope; the love of our families and the power of love that won't let us give up until every one of us is safely home.


📚📚Book Review📚📚

This is such a great children's read, it is fun even though it has a subtle message about the environment and looking after it, it isn't done in a way that jeopardises the fun elements in the book.

I loved these books! a combination of “The Littles”, The Borrowers, Stuart Little, and good old Darby O’Gill but full of adventures. Tara Lewis

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The Danny Dragon Series

Stories of kindness and friendship and the everyday adventures of a dragon, Danny, and his brave little friend Susie.

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Danny's Summer Holiday


Susie goes on holiday and Danny decides to go too, but that means keeping out of sight and keeping out of trouble - not easy for a dragon to do. 

Danny's Easter


Susie's new teacher decides to have a 'Great Egg Race' and sets off a chain of events involving lots of chocolate and a foiled robbery. 




As Spring comes to the village of Whyrum, Danny flies off to the annual Dragontide Festival and returns with his cousin Ambrose. Susie decides they will have their own festival, but soon they are faced with a more important challenge.

Danny's Christmas


In this magical Christmas story, Danny tries to save Susie’s nativity play, but things go wrong and he has to put them right again.

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Danny's Bonfire Night


Danny s Bonfire Night is the story of how Danny and Susie met and how Danny saved the day at the village bonfire night.

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Jean Illingworth

Jean Illingworth is a contemporary author of fiction for children and adults, writing fast moving adventures for children and young adults, and heart-warming but thought provoking stories for adults. Her books have strong female lead characters and return frequently to environmental concerns, but there is also a common thread of the importance of kindness and friendship and the power of love.

Jean lives in North Yorkshire with her husband of over 40 years, DJ, a musician, and their son, Jamie. She has always written poetry, songs and short stories, and for many years had a full length novel or two on the go, but never quite finished them. Writing fiction has often been an antidote to her day job as a health and safety adviser, along with landscape photography and gardening.


Jean started to work with her son, Jamie, to help him get established as an illustrator, and the Danny Dragon series of illustrated short stories for young readers was launched, with their first book, ‘Danny’s Bonfire Night’ published in 2018.

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Eight more books in the series followed (5 now published) and then Jean drew on her love of the seaside and wrote her first full length children novel for mid-grade readers, ‘Beach Beings’, which Jamie then illustrated. Fans of the book demanded a sequel, and so Jean wrote ‘Beach Beings - Distant Shores’, published July 2021.


Going up another age group, concerns about global warming then promoted Jean to write a novel for young adults, 'Two Degrees', a dystopian adventure set on the North York Moors in the near future. As its publication in October 2021 coincided with COP 26, Jean was asked to do radio interviews about the book's message.

In the space of just twelve weeks, during lockdown 3, Jean completed her first novel for adults, ‘The Allotments’, a story of loneliness and love, community and corruption: and gardening. To finish off an extraordinary year of publication, this was published in November 2021.

Jamie Illingworth

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Jamie has always loved to draw, and after training in animal management and 3D animation, returned to his first love of drawing to illustrate the Danny Dragon series.


“As soon as Jamie drew Danny and Susie, I knew who they were,” said Jean. “Likewise with Beach Beings; he created the look of the beachies and captured their individual personalities perfectly. He has the ability to turn my vague descriptions and rubbish sketches into living, breathing magical characters that inspire me to write more.”

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