Posted in books, review

Top Ten Tuesday – My Reads of 2017… so far!

Howdy!! GoodReads has informed me today that I’ve reached the number of 100 books read this out on my challenge!  I was shocked too LOL!  I always set a number on the challenge each year but never take much notice of it until I get the reminders!  I’ve found more time to read this year due to my ill health (I have M.E so that involves a lot of ‘resting’ and being stuck indoors) and Insomnia (what else is there to do at 2am other than read?!), but also I’ve found I’ve definitely been watching less TV as there hasn’t been many series that have grabbed me and I’ve spent many a happy evening with a bar of chocolate, a cup of tea and another book off the TBR mountain and that has really helped me reach this goal!  Plus I’ve also left the ‘chunkster’ (those massive brutes of a book that scare you when you look at how many pages there are!) books on the shelves and know I need to get round to reading them so maybe the numbers will tail off slightly when I start attacking those!!

And what a year it has been already book wise!  I’m sure I say it every year, but the quality of stories (and beautiful covers!) definitely seems to improve year on year, so as a reader I feel I’ve been spoilt for choice this  year in deciding what to read – and as my bookshelves will testify – there are still plenty of wonderful stories out there for me to discover!

Just thought I’d try and make a Top Ten out of the 100 as to my favourite reads of the year so far, and as I’ve scanned through the GoodReads Challenge list I have found it very difficult (VERY, VERY DIFFICULT!!)  as there have been so many fabulous reads this year! BUT, here goes with my Top Ten of books that have tugged at my heart strings, made me laugh, made me cry, given me chills or have

just  stuck with me a little more than others – in no particular order …..  click on the title if you’d like to read my review on GoodReads!

1.  The Wild Air by Rebecca Mascull

3.  The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

4.  The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

5.  We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

6.  A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

7.  The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

8.  Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

9.  Little Teashop of Horrors by Jane Lovering

10.  Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Nice little selection there eh to cover most genres!! Have to say I’m a big fan now of mixing up the genres that I read! Some of the books this year have been a little emotional so it has been nice to then go to something lighter and more ‘hopeful’ to give me a little break!  Been such a tough task though as, happily, I’ve managed to read a ton of fabulous books so far this year and just hope the second half of the year throws up just as many great reads!! 

What has been your read of the year so far?!  Would love to hear your thoughts!


Posted in books, review

Meet Me at Number Five by Lisa Hill – cover reveal and review!

Are we ready?!  For yet another beautiful cover from the beautiful bods at Choc Lit?!  Ok then…. here goes….

How pretty?!  That’s the kind of High Street I want to wander down!  Well, now you can thanks to this fabulous release – OUT TODAY!! – so don’t waste anymore time!! Get downloading!!


For fans of Jilly Cooper, Fiona Walker and Jane Lovering. You’ll adore this fabulous debut.
What if finding happiness was a race against time?
Grace Cavendish knows a thing or two about horses – but what she doesn’t know is that her husband, top horse racing trainer Charlie Carrisbrook, is having a literal ‘roll in the hay’ right under her nose.

When the painful truth is revealed Grace has no choice but to move in with her highly-strung grandmother Clara and cousin Hennie; a single mum who has renounced men (at least that’s what she says!)

Determined to start again, Grace takes a job at the local restaurant, Number Five. And whilst serving up coffee and cake is a far cry from the stables, she enjoys it – especially as she gets to work alongside the rather scrumptious Sam Whittaker.

But the past is racing to catch up with Grace. Can her life still be a romp to victory or will a devastating secret stop her dead in her tracks? 

Amazon UK


This is Graces’ story!  And what a story it is!  I thought it was going to be a gentile look at life behind the scenes of a top racehorse trainer, with the glamour of race day mixed in but boy was I wrong!  Life at a stables is very high paced and Graces’ husband Charlie is a highly thought of trainer but a bit of a sleazebag as a husband! And when she founds out about his dalliance with a stable girl, she moves out of the family home – her family home! – and moves in with her Nana, who seems to run a home for waifs and strays not far from the stables.  It gives Grace the distance she needs to refocus her thoughts and life and that involves getting a part time job at the local cafe which she takes to like a duck to water.  

Also staying with Nana is Hennie and her children and life has dealt them some pretty rough cards too, so she has sworn off men!!  Do we believe her?!

I loved the characters in this book! Grace is a fighter throughout and Nana is a very smart cookie who just wants the best for her girls and does all she can to help them fight injustices in their lives, despite her own problems.

When they find out things aren’t all they seem at the stables with Charlie and his dodgy dealings, they hatch an amazing plan to get back what their family worked hard for with some help from Guy the new farrier at the stables, and Sam the cafe owner.  

This has many laugh out loud moments but just as many moments that had me tearful so it might be handy to have a few tissues on standby – just in case you’re an emotional reader like me!

Such a confident debut from Lisa Hill and I will definitely be looking out for more from her in the future!

Posted in books, review

The Forever House by Veronica Henry – my review


The house of your dreams. But can this dream last forever?

Hunter’s Moon is the ultimate ‘forever’ house. Nestled by a river in the Peasebrook valley, it has been the Willoughbys’ home for over fifty years, and now estate agent Belinda Baxter is determined to find the perfect family to live there. But the sale of the house unlocks decades of family secrets – and brings Belinda face to face with her own troubled past.

A gorgeous escapist read for anyone needing a hug in a book – perfect for fans of Erica James, Lucy Diamond and Harriet Evans.

Amazon UK


Veronica Henry was a television script writer before turning her hand to fiction. She has published sixteen novels which she describes as realistic escapism – her setting are gorgeous, but her characters have problems and dilemmas everyone can identify with.


Veronica Henry does it again! She has this amazing ability to write the books I NEED to read and fall hopelessly in love with the characters and the setting! In this case, the wonderful home is Hunter’s Moon, the home of the Willoughby clan for more than 50 years, but things could be about to change as the current owners are facing their own personal heartbreak and need to find a solution and fast!

Belinda is the estate agent brought in to handle the sale and she is a total romantic and will only take on properties that she loves! She’s had her heart broken in the past, both personally and house related, so understands their predicament and tries to do all she can to help the situation.

Alongside Belinda’s story, we also go back to 1967 and follow Sally as she makes her way in the world and finds her way to Hunters Moon where she starts work as their housekeeper to help keep Margot Willoughby, the famous author, and her household in check. She soon falls in love with more than just the home and you get to see why it has such a hold on people who visit there.

Belinda is a fascinating character due to the really tough times she has faced, and shows how she became so driven and work obsessed. When her past walks back in the door she is conflicted and has to relive some very tough memories. The Willoughby family soon become very dear to her heart and you are left hoping that they all get the happy ending that they all so richly deserve.

Loved this book and it was the perfect read on a hot, sunny afternoon! I just didn’t want it to end!!

Posted in books, review

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips – book review


‘It tore at every maternal fibre in my body. I couldn’t put it down.’ Fiona Barton, author of The Widow

Fierce Kingdom is a bold exploration of the ferocity of a mother’s love. Riveting and beautiful, and all too real, you’ll find yourself asking, what would I do? It’s brilliant.’ Shari Lapena, author of The Couple Next Door


Lincoln is a good boy. At the age of four, he is curious, clever and well behaved. He does as his mum says and knows what the rules are.

‘The rules are different today. The rules are that we hide and do not let the man with the gun find us.’

When an ordinary day at the zoo turns into a nightmare, Joan finds herself trapped with her beloved son. She must summon all her strength, find unexpected courage and protect Lincoln at all costs – even if it means crossing the line between right and wrong; between humanity and animal instinct.

It’s a line none of us would ever normally dream of crossing.

But sometimes the rules are different.


Unbearably tense and yet beautifully written, Fierce Kingdom demands to be read in one sitting. After finishing, I pulled my loved ones a little closer.’ Paula Daly

Amazon UK – buy online and support your local bookstore

Book Depository


Gin Phillips is the celebrated author of The Well and the Mine (winner of the 2009 Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction) and Come in and Cover Me (“original and strikingly beautiful” – Elle Magazine). She has also published two middle-grade novels. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her family.


This was a book that I couldn’t put down once I had started! It is a book that appeals to every humans’ nature of wanting to protect their loved ones, and how would you do that if you’re trapped!

Joan and her son, the very smart 4 year old Lincoln, often stop by the Zoo to visit the animals as Lincoln loves to learn. There isn’t much he doesn’t know despite his tender years, and he’s currently obsessed with superheroes – aren’t we all!!

But then a normal visit is quickly turned into a terrifying visit by the sound of gunfire – everybody’s worst nightmare is playing out in front of them as  gunmen are on the rampage. Do you run? Do you hide? How do you keep a 4 year old quiet and calm in such a horrifying situation?

The pace of the book is tremendous as you watch the minutes, and hours tick by with Joan and her son, along with some other unfortunate visitors who are also caught up in the carnage. You also hear the POV from one of the gunmen and that adds a fascinating side to the tragedy as it plays out on the pages.

I really enjoyed the tension throughout the book, it was really well paced and how it plays on all our fears of what you would do in such a situation trapped with love ones, and how the instinct to survive takes over! An excellent read!!

Posted in books, review

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up!

Greetings all! Guess where I’ll be sitting later…. hopefully!! That’s if I can fight my way through the rather luscious greenery that has gone a little rampant over the past week!  I’m going for the ‘natural’ and ‘wild’ look in the garden this season – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!!!!!

Hope we have all had a good week – been a little stressful here  but then watching things that have unfolded on the news this week has helped put my little problems into perspective!   And another good reason to turn to books to make reality disappear for a while.

Been a very good week on the book reading front again for me!  Ill health and Insomnia has its’ benefits!!  7 books finished this week, although 1 was a bit of a cheat as it was only a few pages long – a very short novella! – but I’m counting it so there!!


Please click on the book title for a link to my GoodReads reviews if you care to find out a little more about each book!

Invincible Summer by Alice Adams  4 stars

Finding Secrets by Lauren Westwood  – 4 stars

The World of Shadow by Kate Hamer   – 3 stars

Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings by Wendy Holden  – 2 stars

The Good Women of China by Xinran  – 5 stars

Fell by Jenn Ashworth  –  4 stars

A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall   –    5 stars

How’s that for a mix of books this week?! A little bit of everything and hopefully something new for you to discover!  I always used to stick to one genre when I read a few years ago, but can’t imagine doing that now as I’d have missed out on so many wonderful stories!!


And still I haven’t bought any books!!  This has now reached critical stage as it just feels wrong but my sensible head seems to have taken over and is happy for me to work through the TBR mountain I had amassed until some gaps appear and maybe then it will let me loose again in a bookshop or online…. i’m hoping!!

But there has been books arriving for the sake of reviewing and forthcoming blog tours, as well as another fabulous parcel from Bookishly and the Urbane Publications Book Club!  Here’s a peek!

Every Secret Thing by Rachel Crowther – Blog Tour in July

Can you ever bury the past?

She’d recognised in him something of herself: that sense of not belonging, of secrets fiercely kept . . .

Five friends, newly graduated, travel together to the Lake District. Young and ambitious, they little imagine the events that will overtake them that fateful summer, tearing their fragile group apart.

Twenty years later, they return to the same spot, summoned by a mysterious bequest. It’s not long before old friendships – and old romances – are re-kindled. But soon, too, rivalries begin to re-emerge and wounds are painfully reopened . . .

How long does it take for past sins to be forgiven? And can the things they destroy ever really be recovered?

This Beautiful Life by Katie Marsh   –  received a copy for review. Paperback out in July

The addictive and emotive new novel from Katie Marsh, perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Jodi Picoult.

‘I lived over half my life before I met you both, and I hope with all my heart to live many years more. You two are the reason why. Always, always the reason why.’

Abi Cooper is living her happy ending. She’s in remission and is ready to make the most of her second chance. But during Abi’s illness her family has fallen apart. Her husband John has made decisions that are about to come back to haunt him, while her teenage son Seb is battling with a secret of his own.

Set to the songs on Abi’s survival playlist, This Beautiful Life is the moving and uplifting story of what happens as Abi tries to put her family back together – and of why life, and love, are worth fighting for

Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon –  received a copy from Readers First to review

A gripping novel of psychological suspense centered on two sisters whose lives have taken them apart, and the shocking family secrets that bind them together.

Twin sisters Robin and Sarah haven’t spoken in years.

Robin can’t leave her house. A complete shut-in, she spends her days spying on her neighbors, subtly meddling in their lives. But she can’t keep her demons out forever. Someone from her past has returned, and is desperate to get inside.

Sarah can’t go home. Her husband has kicked her out, forcibly denying her access to their toddler. Sarah will do anything to get her daughter back, but she’s unraveling under the mounting pressure of concealing the dark secrets of her past. And her lies are catching up to her.

The novel takes readers back in time to witness the complex family dynamics that formed Robin and Sarah into the emotionally damaged, estranged young women they’ve become. As the gripping and intricate layers of their shared past are slowly peeled away, the shocks and twists will keep readers breathless long after the final page.


I subscribe to the wonderful Bookishly monthly tea and book club so received another fabulous parcel in the post this week containing some gorgeous goodies – bookmark, notebook, peppermint tea and another fab Penguin book to add to my collection!



And then there’s another fabulous bundle of books from Urbane Publications as part of their yearly book club of which I am a member!!  Sign up and for £99.99 you get a copy of EVERY book they publish throughout the year!  What bookworm could ever turn that offer down?!  Here’s a look at some of the May releases that I’ve just taken delivery of and looking forward to settling down with! Click on each title for a link to their GoodReads page!

Girl Reading by Katie Ward

Seven portraits. Seven artists. Seven girls and women reading. Each chapter of this richly textured debut takes us into a perfectly imagined tale of how each portrait came to be, and as the connections accumulate, the narrative leads us into the present and beyond.
Mist and Whispers by C. M. Lucas

Imagine a world in eternal darkness. A world where skeletal beasts lurk in the forest. Where the women are missing, and the men are in need of salvation…

In the West-English town of Little Wolf Green, Scott’s bookshop is about to close down. Convinced the bookshop holds the key to her mother’s identity, sixteen year old Anya Piddling vows to save Scott’s, whatever the cost.
When four books of magic and myth take the world by storm, Anya begins a journey to discover the truth about the author, known only as the Weaver. Followed closely by her friends, and one surly, bitter ex-boyfriend, Anya soon realises a whole new world awaits: a world gone very wrong, with maddening whispers in the forest, magical winged Kings and a dragon-boy that understands her, inside and out. But this world needs a saviour… and everyone is looking at her.

So, there we have it!! Another week done and dusted!  How has your reading week gone? Any goodies to share with me?!  And a sunny weekend is forecast so that should lend itself nicely to more time spent on my garden bench with an ice lolly or two to pass away the time – well, it will be too hot to do anything else so we should spend our time wisely by sitting and reading!! You have my permission!!


Posted in books, review

A Thousand Paper Birds by Tor Udall – book review


An intimate portrait of five inextricably linked lives, spanning one calendar year at Kew Gardens in London.

Nothing is set in stone. A bird can be refolded into a boat, a fish, a kimono, or any other extravagant vision. At other times it aches to return to its original folds. The paper begins to fray. It tires, rebels.

After the sudden death of his wife, Audrey, Jonah sits on a bench in Kew Gardens, trying to reassemble the shattered pieces of his life.

Chloe, shaven-headed and abrasive, finds solace in the origami she meticulously folds. But when she meets Jonah, her carefully constructed defenses threaten to fall.

Milly, a child quick to laugh, freely roams Kew, finding beauty everywhere she goes. But where is her mother and where does she go when the gardens are closed?

Harry’s purpose is to save plants from extinction. Quiet and enigmatic, he longs for something–or someone–who will root him more firmly to the earth.

Audrey links these strangers together. As the mystery of her death unravels, the characters journey through the seasons to learn that stories, like paper, can be refolded and reformed. Haunted by songs and origami birds, this novel is a love letter to a garden and a hymn to lost things. 

Amazon UK – buy online and support your local bookstore

Book Depository




After studying theatre and film, Tor co-founded a dance-theatre company and spent most of her twenties directing, writing and performing. She taught drama for several years and choreographed an opera for The Royal College of Music. A Thousand Paper Birds is her first novel. She lives in London with her husband and two young children.



Wow!!  Reading this book has been an unforgettable experience and one that is going to stay with me for quite sometime! Not sure I can do it any justice with a review but I’ll try and put how I’m feeling into words – it won’t be as beautiful as this book that is for sure.  I think I may be a little in love with this book – and I knew it would be ‘for me’ when i first saw the cover!  Absolutely stunning!!

This is the story of Audrey and her sudden, tragic death.  Her death that doesn’t make any sense to Jonah, her husband who she has left behind.  But they shared a love for Kew Gardens and this landmark keeps them close together as Jonah tries to make sense of the world he’s now living in without his wife.  He retraces his steps, his words, his actions but none of this brings her back.  And the author captures this grief in amazing detail and in such beautiful language that your heart just breaks with each description of the void.

As the book is centred around Kew so much it allows other characters who visit the gardens and are connected to Audrey and Jonah to be introduced to the reader, and each character is another piece of the jigsaw that runs throughout the book.  There is Chloe who is an artist, and is haunted by an incident she witnesses at the park,  Harry who is an obsessive Kew gardener and Milly a young girl who is often found at the garden but what is she looking for?  Their paths all cross in one way or another and this is a fascinating aspect of the story.

It cleverly also introduces pages from Audreys’ diary so we get to see her story, much of which Jonah was unaware of and this wonderfully adds depth to the story and lets you see life through the eyes of a lost loved one.  The heartache she was hiding from him and the secrets she kept from him……

 It is quite difficult to review this book too much without spoiling major parts of the book and would highly recommend picking it up to read without knowing too much about the story, as that is how I fell into the book so was unaware of the journey I was about to embark on.

It’s a tale of love, loss, betrayal, hope, grief, lost souls, holding on and letting go  and is definitely a reading experience not to be rushed.  

One of my favourite books of the year so far!! A must read!!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for my arc copy in return for a fair and honest review.

Posted in books, review

Fell by Jenn Ashworth – book review


A haunting and otherworldly tale of the impact on one family of a guest with seemingly magical powers, who alters the course of their lives in ways neither they nor he foresee.
A haunting, mysterious tale imbued with the force of myth, by the award-winning author of A Kind of Intimacy.

When Annette Clifford returns to her childhood home on the edge of Morecambe Bay, she despairs: the long empty house is crumbling, undermined by two voracious sycamores. What she doesn’t realise is that she’s not alone: her arrival has woken the spirits of her parents, who anxiously watch over her, longing to make amends. Because as the past comes back to Jack and Netty, they begin to see the summer of 1963 clearly, when Netty was desperately ill and a stranger moved in. Charismatic, mercurial Timothy Richardson, with his seemingly miraculous powers of healing, who drew all their attention away from Annette… Now, they must try to draw another stranger towards her, one who can rescue her.

Blurring the boundaries between the corporeal and spirit worlds and subtly echoing the myth of Baucis and Philemon, this is an eerily beautiful, evocative and highly original novel, which underlines the eternal potency of hope.

Amazon UK – buy online and support your local bookstore

Book Depository


Jenn Ashworth is an English writer. She was born in 1982 in Preston, Lancashire. She has graduated from Cambridge University and the Manchester Centre for New Writing. In March 2011 she was featured as one of the BBC Culture Show’s Best 12 New Novelists. She previously worked as a librarian in a men’s prison.

She founded the Preston Writers Network, later renamed as the Central Lancs Writing Hub, and worked as its coordinator until it closed in January 2010. She has also taught creative writing at the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester, the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Lancaster.

Her first novel, A Kind of Intimacy, won a Betty Trask Award in 2010. An extract from an earlier novel, lost as a result of a computer theft in 2004, was the winner of of the 2003 Quiller-Couch Prize for Creative Writing at Cambridge University.

Author Website


I am finding this a very difficult book to review as it’s an extremely quiet story that doesn’t have big shocking moments, but is more powerful in many ways than a story with a big twist due to the subjects it brings to light and the journey that the reader is taken on as they step through the front door of this imposing, decaying house.

Annette Clifford is the daughter who returns home after the death of her parents, to discover their home way past its’ best and with 2 imposing sycamore trees overpowering the outside. When she steps indoors her past is brought back to her, and her return reawakens the spirits of her parents, so we have a fascinating POV as they watch over her and relive her childhood – the happy times, the very sad times, the anguish and the people who came into their lives along the way and the power that these people have over them. During her childhood, her parents ran a home for lodgers and it often felt at times that Annette was pushed out of the way, and with her mothers’ illness consuming them all, it was never a house filled with lots of laughter and fun.

It is a beautifully written book and your heart often breaks for Annette as she is consumed by the past and seems reluctant to move on – or is that the house refusing to let her go? I did find it a little confusing at certain times but plan on re-reading this again very soon and hope now I’ve finished it that all will fall into place.

It is a dark, sad and unassuming book that is a fascinating character study of a dysfunctional family but with good intentions at their core. It combines the fragility of reality with the drama of fantasy and if you are looking for a book that is a little different from the norm then look no further!

Thank you to the publishers and BookBridgr for my review copy in return for a fair and honest review.

Posted in books, review



It is my great pleasure to welcome AnneMarie Brear along to my Blog today for a guest post!   I recently had the pleasure of reading this book and adored it – please click on the link to my previous Blog Post where I revealed the cover and reviewed the book My Review on my Blog   – so now I just get an extra shot at letting you discover this fabulous book for yourselves!!

So without further ado, over to AnneMarie for her extract and info!!

Where Rainbows End: Extract Post



“I’m not a man, but that won’t stop me. Just you wait and see.”

It’s 1850 and the Noble family have arrived in Australia to start a new life after scandal drove them from their native England. Headstrong Pippa Noble is determined to reclaim their honour by making her father’s plans for a successful stud farm a reality.

Pippa is immediately spellbound by the untamed outback landscape, although she learns the hard way about the unforgiving nature of the bush – sometimes with devastating consequences. When circumstance leads to Pippa tending the new farm alone, it is the steadfast friendship of neighbouring country estate owner Gil Ashford-Smith that helps her through.

Then an unexpected visitor from England arrives, putting Pippa’s dreams in jeopardy. But she refuses to let go. She will hold onto her family’s land and make her mark, even if it means losing everything else …




‘Pippa! Come look!’ Davy ran into the stables. ‘There’s a carriage coming with two shiny black horses with white feathers on their heads.’ He grabbed her hand and pulled her outside. ‘A carriage!’

Intrigued, Pippa frowned at Robson as he came to stand at her side. They both stared along the valley track. Indeed a large, shiny black carriage pulled by magnificent horses rumbled beside the creek towards them.

‘Who could it be?’ Pippa glanced at Robson for his input.

‘Nay, miss, I know of no one with such a carriage in this district.’

Davy jumped up and down, clapping his hands. ‘It’s a Prince!’

Pippa gently pushed him towards the house. ‘Go to your mother.’

She and Robson walked away from the stables and waited under the big gum tree near the footbridge. On the other side, Davy and Millie watched the carriage approach.

The driver halted the fine pair and drew the carriage to stop. The door was flung open and Gerald popped his head out. ‘Pippa!’

Pippa’s eyes widened in disbelief. ‘Father?’

Gerald exited the carriage and handed Hilary down and then the maid, Cissie. ‘We’re here at last!’ he shouted, reaching back into the carriage.

Hilary ran up to Pippa and hugged her. ‘It’s good to see you! Have we surprised you? How are you? Mother fainted! As soon as we started the descent into the valley, she screamed that we would all fall to our deaths and then fainted.’

Blinking rapidly to make sure of her vision, Pippa let Hilary’s words wash over her. Her family here! She couldn’t believe it. They’d sent her no word of their impending arrival.

‘Come, come, Esther. Pippa wishes to greet you,’ Gerald cajoled his wife out of the carriage. ‘You’re safe now, so stop your hysterics.’

Pippa stepped forward and kissed her mother’s pale cheek. ‘Welcome, Mother.’

Esther, fanning herself with a white handkerchief, sniffled. ‘What a journey, Philippa, what a journey.’ Slowly she raised her head and gazed about. Her eyes widened, her mouth dropped open.

The heavy weight of guilt sunk Pippa’s happiness at her family’s arrival. Her mother’s rigidness confirmed her fears. She hated the valley. ‘Mother—’

‘You …’ Esther turned to scan the whole valley and all it contained, her eyes filling with tears. ‘Gerald …’ She blinked, her chest heaving as though she struggled to breathe. ‘You brought me here?’



‘How could you?’ Esther’s voice lowered in anger. ‘I’ll not spend one night in this god-forsaken backwater!’ She spun on her heel, re-entered the carriage, and slammed the door.

Pippa stared at her father, whose cheeks flushed beet red. He stormed to the carriage and jerked open the door. ‘Get out at once!’

Hilary silently came to Pippa’s side and took her hand as, in disbelief and with acute embarrassment, they watched their parents argue and wrestle. At last, Esther emerged from the carriage, dishevelled and indignant.

‘I will stay but one night, then I am returning to Sydney to the Talbots.’ She marched past them all and crossed the footbridge. Hilary hurriedly followed her.

Sighing, Gerald walked away, around the other side of the carriage, and, after a glance at Hilary, Pippa went to join him.

‘I’m sorry, Father. I didn’t expect you. Hilary’s letter said it could be another month as Mother had engagements. Inside the house is not complete yet. I kept the men working on extending the stable block.’

‘I do not blame you in the least, dearest.’ His eyes softened and he slipped his arm around her waist to hug her to him. ‘In fact, I’m so very proud of you.’ He gazed out over the valley, at the cluster of buildings, the horses and sheep grazing. ‘What you’ve achieved here in such a short time is inspirational, my dear. You have the courage of a lion.’

Pippa kissed his thin cheek, aware that his ill health had taken its toll on him. ‘I did it for us all, Father. This is our home now, and we’ll be successful, I know it.’

‘I have no doubt about it, not with you in charge.’

‘Oh, but Father, I’m not in charge now you’re here.’

Gerald shook his head. ‘No, Pippa. This is your dream, your future.’

She stepped back, frowning. ‘But it’s yours, too. We share it together.’

‘Yes, but I don’t have the youth, the energy, the heart that you do.’ He shook his head and sighed. ‘All I wanted to do here was to make money. You wanted to make a home.’

She touched his arm, frightened by how old and defeated he looked. ‘We can do both, Father.’

He remained silent for a long time, staring out over the land.

‘Please don’t be dispirited, Father. We can be successful. The mistakes made in England do not have to be repeated here.’

‘My health is failing, but I tend to think that is a good thing.’


Gerald held up his hand. ‘Hear me out. I insist we have honesty if nothing else after so many years of lies.’ He paused and took a deep breath. ‘If I were hale and hearty and a few years younger, there would be no stopping me, but no doubt that would have led to our ruin as it did back home.’


‘I’ve had time to think while bedridden and holed up with the Talbots, and I’ve made a decision.’ He took both her hands in his and smiled. ‘I was going to tell you this later, but I might as well do it now and be done with it.’

‘What is it?’ Pippa braced herself for bad news, for his tone was the same he used in England when he would admit failure in some investment or when the bailiffs came to clear the house of their belongings to repay his gambling debts.

He sucked in a deep breath. ‘The valley is yours to do with as you please. I’ll sign it all over to you, with the provision that you support your sister.’

Pippa blinked. ‘But what about you and Mother?’

‘We shall return to England.’



Buy links for ebook:

Kindle UK:

Kindle US:


Author Bio:


Australian born AnneMarie Brear writes historical novels and modern romances. Her passions, apart from writing, are reading, researching, genealogy, roaming historical sites, buying books and gardening. She is an author of historical women’s fiction, contemporary romance and several short stories and is currently living in England.
AnneMarie Brear on the web:
Twitter @annemariebrear.

Posted in books, review

Shame on me!! It has been 6 months since I started this challenge via the GoodReads The Book Vipers group I belong to so having just completed another book from the list I thought it best to share my progress!  And to hopefully keep it fresh in my mind to keep on track as there are still some weighty books left to get through!

The BookBuster challenge itself is based on the fab TV gameshow BlockBusters where you answer questions based on the alphabet on a board!  For the purpose of this challenge many are using the alphabet A-Z to read a book where the author, or title if you so wish!, corresponds to that letter!

So here is another look at my list – still deciding if I might change some along the way but at the moment I’ll be sticking to this little lot…..

A – Lyrebird by Cecilia Ahern
B – 2am at the Cats Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino
C – Call of the Undertow by Linda Cracknell
D – Julius Winsome by Gerard Donovan
E – Doorways by Robert Enright
F – The Somnambulist by Essie Fox
G – Little Girl Lost by Janet Gover
H – Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
I – The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
J – 183 times a year by Eva Jordan
K – Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
L – The Original Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
M – The Moth Snowstorm by Michael McCarthy
N – Uprooted by Naomi Novak
O – Wesley the remarkable owl by Stacey O’Brien
P – The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
Q – Exercises in Style by Raymond Queaneau
R – The bookshop on the corner by Rebecca Raisin
S – The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
T – The Secret Library by Oliver Tearle
U – The Witchfinders Sister by Beth Underdown
V – Sex Object by Jessica Valenti
W – Girl Reading by Katie Ward
X – The Good Women of China by Xinran
Y – A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Z – Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon 

As of today, 11th June 2017, I have now read 10 of these – doing better than I thought lol –  and discovered some amazing books along the way so am very grateful to this challenge for that at least!  Here’s a peek at what I’ve already read and if you click on the title it will take you to my GoodReads review page if you so wish to see what I thought of each book!

1. –  Lyrebird by Cecilia Ahern   – 4 stars

2. 2 A.M at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino   – 4 stars

3. Call of the Undertow by Linda Cracknell  – 4 stars

4. Little Girl Lost by Janet Gover   – 5 stars


5.  Reasons to stay alive by Matt Haig   –   4 stars

6.  The Breakdown by B.A. Paris  –  5 stars

7.  The Moth Snowstorm by Michael McCarthy   –  5 stars

8.  Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau   –  4 stars

9.  The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery  –  5 stars

10.  The Good Women of China by Xinran   –  5 stars

Not doing too bad am I?!  Is anyone else taking part in this challenge?! Any on my list that I shouldn’t put off reading any longer?!  Was planning on going for Girl, Reading next – one of those books I was drawn to in a bookshop based on the cover – and the blurb didn’t sound too bad either!


Posted in books, review

Invincible Summer by Alice Adams – book review


Four friends. Twenty years. One unexpected journey.

Eva, Benedict, Sylvie and Lucien graduate in 1998, into a world on the brink of the new millennium. Hopelessly in love with playboy Lucien and keen to shrug off the socialist politics of her childhood, Eva breaks away to work at a big bank. Benedict, a budding scientist who’s pined for Eva for years, stays on to do a physics PhD, and siblings Sylvie and Lucien pursue more freewheeling existences–she as an aspiring artist and he as a club promoter and professional partier. But as their dizzying twenties become their thirties, the once close-knit friends, now scattered and struggling to navigate thwarted dreams, lost jobs and broken hearts, find themselves drawn together once again in stunning and unexpected ways. Breathtaking in scope, this is sure to be the book of the summer.

Amazon UK £7.99 paperback – buy online and support your local bookstore £6.09 paperback


Alice Adams is half Australian but has lived in England for most of her life. She grew up in a house without a TV and as a result became a voracious reader. Career-wise, she’s done everything from waitressing to working in investment banking, and in addition to a BA in philosophy and an MA has a multitude of maths, finance and computer programming qualifications. She lives in North London but escapes into the wilderness as often as possible.







I always find it refreshing to stumble across a book out of the blue and not expect much from it, and then you find yourself swept along in an intoxicating look at the world through the eyes of 4 friends from the beginning of their friendship in Bristol, 1995 right the way through to a beach in Dorset in 2015! This was such a book and I’m very glad it found me!!

The 4 friends are Eva, Lucien, Sylvie and Benedict – all very different personalities (Lucien and Sylvie are siblings) but drawn together through University where they set out with different dreams and ambitions and this book cleverly documents the stages they all go through over the next 20 years.

The book gives you brief snapshots in the most memorable times of their lives – the highs and the lows of which there are plenty – and how the group of friends are very much part of each others’ lives even if the years have taken them to different places and further away from each other. It is full of the angst of growing up and how they all see themselves progressing in life, to the reality of life and things not turning out quite how you expect. The ones you expect to succeed don’t always reach their potential, and it’s how they deal with it through the years that keeps you turning the pages to see what journey their lives will take them on next.

Each character gets plenty of time for the reader to embrace, and setting it against real life events really helps you set the scene and capture the moment during their lives. I really felt invested in their lives and how they got to reassess what is important to them depending on what was thrown at them throughout.

There is sadness, laughter, flirting, fallings out, marriages, divorce, dealings with the law, depression, success, despair, new arrivals and old secrets and how 4 people find their place in the world and I just found it to be a fabulous read that I devoured in one sitting!! Highly recommended!!


Thank you to Alice May Dewing at Picador books for my copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review.