#BookReview THE WAY OF THE HARE by MARIANNE TAYLOR #20BooksOfSummer20


The Brown Hare is an animal we all know but rather rarely see, even though it is quite common, active by day and lives in the wide open spaces of classic lowland countryside. It can make itself almost invisible, lying still in its form until it takes off suddenly, fleeing at astounding, breakneck pace. Those lucky enough to see a hare in a moment of stillness, may see in its staring golden eyes a strangeness and mystery that hints at its legendary status. It is a favourite subject of wildlife artists and sculptors in love with depicting its lithe and leggy form in full flight, and its March mating madness. A nationwide treasure-hunt for a golden hare, sparked by Kit Williams’ famous 1979 book Masquerade ended with more mystery than it began. It’s smaller cousin, the Mountain Hare, is an even greater mystery, living on bleak uplands where snowfall shuts down access in winter. It changes colour with the seasons and is hunted by the great Golden Eagle, but most of us hardly know it exists. The book explores the lives of both of these hares, in life and in story, and attempts to unravel the real animal from its image in our collective imagination, and examine just why it holds such fascination for us. The book includes accounts of first-hand encounters with wild hares, and research evidence from those who have worked with them and studied them. It is illustrated with line drawings and a section of colour photographs taken by the author. 



This is Book 8 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

I love all things ‘bunny’ so was genuinely fascinated and entertained by this book which is full of everything you ever needed to know, and more!, about the wonderful creature that is the hare!

It is packed full of info so sometimes does feel a little too wordy, but there is so much to be shared about hares that I think it needs to be this way! As well as the ways of the hare, the biology, the habitats and biology, it also features the role that hares play in literature and folklore and it really makes you think of just how relevant they are in the world around us.

There’s also some lovely colour photographs – I’d have been happier with more but then that’s just me! – and they really added to the whole hare experience of this book. It’s very immersive and a comprehensive study of a truly fascinating creature.




What happens when you send a group of celebrities to a tiny seaside village?

Advertising executive Chloe Walsh thought she was visiting her friend Roisin to get away from it all, but little does she know her kooky friend has a master plan to breathe some life into her sleepy seaside village through a new wellness retreat – and she needs Chloe’s skills.

So starts a community effort to put the retreat, Serenity Bay, on the map. Everyone from Andy at the Surf Shack to Tony at the chocolate shop is involved – even Roisin’s Gran has a few ideas!

But Chloe strikes gold almost too soon, attracting the attention of a major production company. Now a colourful group of celebrities are preparing to descend on Serenity Bay to film a reality TV show. Is the village ready for the fun and scandal that are bound to follow?


Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Serenity-Bay-addictively-funny-ebook/dp/B08B8TCP1D/

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/summer-at-serenity-bay

Apple: https://books.apple.com/au/book/summer-at-serenity-bay/id1518789842?mt=11&app=itunes&at=11lNBs   

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/summer-at-serenity-bay-helen-bridgett/1137184352?ean=2940163071692

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Helen_Bridgett_Summer_at_Serenity_Bay?id=nvftDwAAQBAJ


Sign me up for the Serenity Bay Wellness Retreat!! I adored my time with these characters and in such a wonderful setting – and hands off Andy the surfer! He’s mine!!

Chloe is the central character in this book and she’s looking for a new outlook on life.  She’s fled London after problems with her job and her ex, and she finds herself back with her bestie, Roisin, in Northumberland.  Far away from the hustle and bustle of city life that had been central to her working and personal life, so taking to a quieter way of life is a bit of a battle!

But she feels at home with Roisin and her nan and soon finds herself helping them out in setting up a Wellness retreat to try and revive the area they live in and earn some well needed money.  It gives Chloe that creative buzz again and she finds herself jumping right in with all aspects of it and even using her London contacts to find willing customers!

This was such a relaxing and inspiring read! The community, even despite a little resistance from some, were a great support throughout the process as they could see how it could improve their lives and incomes.  Things never run smoothly, even more so when a bunch of celebs show up to film a reality show! I would totally watch a series that featured wellness retreats like this!! Seeing how getting out in nature, being creative, living more simply can help your mind, body and soul is a lesson to us all!  But with celebrities comes ego’s and diva behaviour so things do take a dark turn with the police getting involved!

I loved the friendship between Chloe and Roisin and loved every single minute of my time in Serenity Bay! I hope we get to go back and visit again soon!!


#BlogTour BROKEN FLOWERS by KATE MCQUAILE #BookReview @QuercusBooks #BrokenFlowers @KateMcQuaile

A huge delight to be part of the Blog Tour this weekend for BROKEN FLOWERS by KATE MCQUAILE. My thanks to Katya for the copy of the book and putting everything together.


Your mother. The one person you trust. What if you’re wrong?

Widowed Nan is on her way to her beloved son’s wedding. She should be excited, but she is dreading her return to Paradise Place – a small area of Notting Hill that she hasn’t dared set foot on for decades. Nan had arrived there as a young girl in the late seventies, desperate for freedom and a career as an artist. But, drawn into a dark obsession that spun out of control, Nan was forced to flee.

And while the only thing seemingly connecting her son’s wedding and her old secret life is Paradise Place, Nan quickly gets the impression that someone is watching her every move . . . someone she thought was dead.


Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paperback £8.99

hive.co.uk  £8.15

Blackwell’s  £7.99


Dark.  Twisted.  Enthralling!!  The perfect read for making time disappear fast!!  The more you find yourself getting involved with these characters, the more you find yourself turning the pages to find out what happens next!! I loved it!

The character of Nan, is the centre of this book, and boy what a story she has to tell!! When she finds herself heading to London to see her estranged son ahead of his wedding,  the more you find yourself wondering what has kept her away from London for so long, and why her relationship with her son is so strained…. nothing is going to prepare you for the truth!!

The story then flashes back to the 1970’s and Nan arrives in London as  a young artist.  On her own for the first time she finds herself drawn into a world of dark obsessive love – a far cry from her ‘normal’ life back home in Yorkshire.  When things spiral out of control she is left suffering mentally and her life is never the same again despite her best efforts to live life the normal way.

Returning to London she finds herself back at places she tried very hard to put out of her mind, and those flashes from the past begin to take over her every moment again.  Is her mind playing tricks on her, or is the past she thought she’d left behind finally catching up with her?

I loved the pace of this story! It felt really unsettling at  times when things were happening to Nan and the shocking events of the past were brilliantly played out to keep the tension up!  The fact that she hid so much of her past from those around her really seemed to mess her up and cloud her judgement and thought process in knowing how to move on.  Sticking her head in the sand wasn’t going to work for the situation she found herself in!  And now it’s come back to bite her big time!!

I really enjoyed the twists and turns and can’t wait to read more from this author in the future!  


#BookReview Happy Days of the Grump by Tuomas Kyro #20BooksOfSummer20


Everybody recognises the Grump, everybody knows a grump. And maybe there’s a little grump in every one of us . . .
The Grump, at eighty years old, is more focused on death than life; building his own coffin and keen to write his will in ink – who can trust technology, after all? – he knows that everything was much better in the old days.
But when the Grump finds himself in hospital in a semi-conscious state after falling down his basement steps, his life passes before his eyes. Thinking of the people closest to him and reflecting on the changes society has brought about, he realises he must come to terms with the cards life has dealt him.
With wry humour and sharp observations on family and relationships, The Happy Days of the Grump is a black comedy, sure to bring a smile to the face of even the grumpiest among us. 



This is Book 7 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

This was a little more serious than I was expecting, and I found myself feeling quite sorry for the Grump as he faced his demise! His mind is sharp as a tack, but his body is failing him and to be stuck in that quandry of wanting to carry on as normal, but unable too makes him question the world around him. I also found myself feeling a little sad for him that his family seemingly couldn’t wait to get him into a care home instead of talking through other options with him. He seemed to be the one coming up with the workable options on that front!

The Grump is very set in his ways, so when life starts to change for him he isn’t sure how to accept it other than to find fault with all that the modern world has to offer – hard to disagree with him about some of his well made points!!

It made for an engaging read, even if it didn’t really go anywhere and felt a bit flat at times. It was fascinating to see the world through his eyes and I admired his spirit of never wanting to give up, even if those around him seemed to be giving up on him living a somewhat independant life.


My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 4th July 2020

Hello! Happy Saturday! Another month is with us! What fun will it bring I wonder?! As long as it brings me more books, then I’ll be happy!

My reading pace has slowed down – I’m blaming the windy, cooler weather! – so just managed to finish 3 books this week! Better than nothing I guess! There may have also been 3 new additions to my bookshelves but I have stayed away from Netgalley again!!

Here’s my look back!


A Strange Country by Muriel Barbery – 4 stars

Old & Ugly by C L Moir – 5 stars

Escape to the Art Cafe by Sue McDonagh



Lenka Janiurek’s story really begins after the death of her mother when she was a small child, and speaks of the men who came to define her life; she is the daughter of a Polish immigrant father, the sister of five brothers, the wife of one husband, the lover of several men, and the mother of two more. Her memoir speaks of identity and trying to find your place in a country that isn’t your own, within a family that doesn’t feel like your own. This remarkable book traces Lenka’s journey from the UK to Eastern Europe, from the 1960s to the present day. However, across the years, she remains haunted by the rage, addiction and despair of the men she is closest to. Alongside these challenges, she develops a powerful connection with the natural world, particularly water, which provides her with strength and joy.

THE OFFING by BENJAMIN MYERS – signed copy from Blackwell’s

After all, there are only a few things truly worth fighting for: freedom, of course, and all that it brings with it. Poetry, perhaps, and a good glass of wine. A nice meal. Nature. Love, if you’re lucky.

One summer following the Second World War, Robert Appleyard sets out on foot from his Durham village. Sixteen and the son of a coal miner, he makes his way across the northern countryside until he reaches the former smuggling village of Robin Hood’s Bay. There he meets Dulcie, an eccentric, worldly, older woman who lives in a ramshackle cottage facing out to sea.

Staying with Dulcie, Robert’s life opens into one of rich food, sea-swimming, sunburn and poetry. The two come from different worlds, yet as the summer months pass, they form an unlikely friendship that will profoundly alter their futures.

From the Walter Scott Prize-winning author of The Gallows Pole comes a powerful new novel about an unlikely friendship between a young man and an older woman, set in the former smuggling village of Robin Hood’s Bay in the aftermath of the Second World War.


Norway, 1880. Young, inquisitive Astrid is unlike the other girls in the secluded village at the end of the valley. She dreams of a life that consists of more than marrying, having children, and eventually dying from hard work in the fields. And then the young pastor Kai Schweigaard comes into her life.

Kai Schweigaard has taken over the small parish of Butangen, with its 700-year-old stave church. The old church is one of the few remaining examples of early Christianisation, with effigies of pagan deities carved into the wooden walls. And the bells – two sister bells forged in the 16th century, in memory of the Siamese twins Halfrid and Gunhild Hekne – are said to have supernatural powers. Legend has it that they ring of their own accord when danger is imminent.

But the pastor wants to tear it down, to replace it with a more modern, larger church. He has already contacted the Kunstakademie in Dresden, which is sending its talented architecture student Gerhard Schönauer to oversee the removal of the church and its reconstruction in the German city. For Astrid this is a provocation too far.

But Astrid falls in love with Gerhard. He is so different from the young men in Butangen: modern, cosmopolitan, elegant, he even smells different. And she must make a choice: for her homeland and the pastor, or for an uncertain future in Germany. Then the bells begin to ring . . . 





#BookReview ESCAPE TO THE ART CAFE by SUE MCDONAGH #publicationday #EscapeToTheArtCafe


Heartbreak and cake at the Art Café …

It was meant to be the perfect romantic holiday. But then Flora Bexton’s boyfriend does the unthinkable, and she responds in the only logical way: she steals his motorbike and escapes for a holiday by herself on the Welsh coast.

Far from the lonely trip she imagined, Flora soon finds comfort at the friendly local Art Café where the legendary hot chocolate and cake help to ease her troubled mind. And when Aussie-Welsh lifeguard Jake Foley steps in just when Flora needs help the most, she realises that her ‘holiday’ feels more like home with every passing day …



Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Escape-Art-Cafe-uplifting-page-turner-ebook/dp/B0872BX3WR/r

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/escape-to-the-art-cafe

Apple: https://books.apple.com/gb/book/escape-to-the-art-cafe/id1507978185?mt=11&app=itunes&at=11lNBs 

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/escape-to-the-art-cafe-sue-mcdonagh/1136855018?ean=2940162660330

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Sue_McDonagh_Escape_to_the_Art_Cafe?id=WZfqDwAAQBAJ


Book 3 in the Art Cafe series introduces us to 2 totally new characters and wow!! What an introduction!! I love this series, and it delivers once more with a wonderful setting, and fabulous storylines to escape into – and a new swoonsome hunk to drool over in the shape of Jake!! Where do I get to meet blokes like these?! I need to move myself to Wales I think!

This book centres around Flora who finds herself in Wales at her parents holiday home and she’s got plenty to escape from after the ultimate betrayal. But she’s not so sweet and innocent herself as she’s stolen her boyfriends’ motorbike to escape on – that’ll teach him!! But it’s not the 30th birthday to remember as she finds herself alone and in trouble in the water – Jake to the rescue! He’s recently returned from Australia where he was a lifeguard and is staying with his grandparents in their hotel, which is in need of a bit of TLC.

The moment they meet there are sparks – who can blame Flora! – but she’s very wary, and you get the impression Jake is hiding some sadness too. A pair well matched with unresolved issues from their past plaguing their present!

As always, the community surrounding the Art Cafe are welcoming to the newbies amongst them and Flora finds herself settling in really well and even thinking of starting up her own hair dressing business. But disaster is never far away and once again the power of community is brought to the fore after a devastating storm and it helps cement certain feelings and brings unknown truths out which could scupper progress made.

What I love about this series is just how relatable the characters are. How they have to face up to dilemmas in their lives and really get to know themselves when their backs are up against the wall. This can easily be read as a stand alone but you’ll be wanting to go back to visit the others in the series once you read this! Wonderful!!




Grab your passport and escape to the land of dazzling skycrapers, steaming bowls of comforting noodles, and a page-turning love story that will make you swoon!

For travel blogger Fiona, Japan has always been top of her bucket list so when she wins an all-expenses paid trip, it looks like her dreams of the Far East are coming true.

Until she arrives in vibrant, neon-drenched Tokyo and comes face-to-face with the man who broke her heart ten years ago, gorgeous photographer Gabe.

Fiona can’t help but remember the heartache of their last meeting but it’s not long before the Japanese art of contentment and a special, traditional tea ceremony work their magic…

Amidst the temples and clouds of soft pink cherry blossoms, Fiona and Gabe start to see life – and each other – differently.





The gorgeous cover drew me in and I’m so glad it did! I loved the story, the characters, the setting and am very glad to have discovered a new author to me! Time now to devour her other books!!

Fiona is the centre of this story as she wins a trip to Tokyo to learn from a top photographer, ahead of her exhibition in London. She’s is totally out of her comfort zone so this is a big step for her, but she knows how important this could be for her photography so she sets off and stays with a lovely family who run a teashop in Tokyo, which gives her the perfect opportunity to learn more about the Japanese culture and indulge her love of tea!!
There is a switch in her mentor though, and it’s someone from her past so that brings new pressures to her trip. Will he remember her? Luckily for her, Gabe seems a little pre-occupied with his own personal issues – not so good for her being mentored to the best of his ability though!

What I loved about Fiona and Gabe, is how they work so well off one another, especially when they’re out and about taking photos. They seem to inspire one another to look at things from a different perspective! This starts to rub off into their own lives as well and allows them to change old routines and take control of their own lives, instead of being dictated to by others. There’s also a little edge to their ‘banter’

This is a book that teaches you about ‘being you’ and the setting of Tokyo was just perfect to help explore the ways of the Japanese and how they find beauty in the simplest of things. It is the perfect escapism read and I loved it!


#BlogTour CALL ME JOE by MARTIN VAN ES & ANDREW CROFTS @RandomTTours @The_JoeProject @RedDoorBooks @AndrewCrofts @LiterallyPR #CallMeJoeBook #TheJoeProject

Delighted to be part of the Blog Tour for CALL ME JOE by MARTIN VAN ES & ANDREW CROFTS. My thanks to the authors, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for putting this all together and letting me be part of it all!


The world is on the brink of disaster.
The environment, society and mankind itself are facing extreme challenges in a world that is both more connected, and yet more divided than ever before. Fear and confusion seep into all parts of everyday life now, more than ever, the world needs one voice, one guide…

One day the Earth is plunged into darkness and when light appears again so does a man – call him Joe – claiming to be the son of God.

Can Joe bring the world’s most creative thinkers and leaders together to tackle the ills of mankind?

Can he convince us all to follow him before it’s too late?

In this compelling and prescient novel, Martin van Es and Andrew Crofts highlight the key concerns of our time and imagines a future where we, at last, all work together to ensure the future of our world and all the life that calls it home.



publisher website



Here’s an apt book for the times!!  So much of this struck true with me of the world we currently find ourselves living in, that it made it so much easier to connect with and understand! If only we had a Joe…..

This is a book told through the eyes of a few characters, all part of the world but all living very different lives.  Except they all soon share a common experience when the world goes black for 12 minutes… there was no warning, there are no contingency plans in place for such an occurrence  – and how people react around the world is a fascinating insight into humanity!

Sophie is a school teacher when this event happens so has to try and keep her pupils calm while this madness is going on.  When light returns she sees a man walking across the school fields who says he’s just arrived.  She finds herself talking to him and feeling that she needs to help – the pupils in her class are even more fascinated by him and I loved the innocence of children and their questions to him.  If only adults had such an open mind!  For Joe he is openly questioning why humans do so much harm to their planet and one another.  It makes no sense to him – he’s not the only one who wonders why!!

Meanwhile, Governments all around the world are showing their true colours. Suspecting one another of having a hand in what has happened, trying to work out how to deal with what has happened.  And the more they hear about ‘Joe’ and the effect he has on people that he meets in person or via videos, the more they soon pull together to try and discredit him as he baffles them. Is he for real?

This book does a brilliant job of showing up the role of ‘fake news’, the word of the media vs the experiences of people, and how those in favour of the status quo are rattled by this new prescence spouting new ideals and reaching people in a different way to the norm.    It shows up the inequality, the greed, the overpopulation, the climate issues. the intolerance that humanity faces day in, day out and how trying to change people and their ways leads to resistance and underhanded tactics by those not in favour.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, especially with its’ relevance to the present time!  The battle between those who don’t want change against those who would prefer a kinder, more fair world was fascinating and this book gives you a lot to think about!


#BookReview A SUMMER OF DROWNING by JOHN BURNSIDE #20BooksOfSummer20


A terrifying and dream-like new novel from one of our greatest contemporary writers. At a critical point in her career, painter Angelika Rossdal suddenly moves to Kvaloya, a small island deep in the Arctic Circle, to dedicate herself to the solitary pursuit of her craft. With her, she brings her young daughter, Liv, who grows up isolated and unable or unwilling to make friends her own age, spending much of her time alone, or with an elderly neighbour, Kyrre Jonsson, who beguiles her with old folk tales and stories about trolls, mermaids and — crucially for the events that unfold in the summer of her eighteenth year — about the huldra, a wild spirit who appears in the form of an irresistibly beautiful girl, to lure young men to their doom. Now twenty-eight, Liv looks back on her life and particularly to that summer when two boys drowned under mysterious circumstances in the still moonlit waters off the shores of Kvaloya. Were the deaths accidental, or were the boys, as Kyrre believes, lured to their deaths by a malevolent spirit? To begin with, Liv dismisses the old man’s stories as fantasy, but as the summer continues and events take an even darker turn, she comes to believe that something supernatural is happening on the island. But is it? Or is Liv, a lonely girl who has spent her entire life in the shadow of her beautiful, gifted mother, slowly beginning to lose touch with reality? Set in the white nights of an Arctic summer, the novel has the heightened, hallucinogenic atmosphere of a dream, but culminates in a moment of profound horror. Intensely imagined and exquisitely written, A Summer of Drowning is a play of dark and light, of looking and seeing, that will hold and haunt every reader.


This was Book 5 of my 20 Books of Summer 2020.

What a dark and fascinating book! The start has instant impact on and just whets your appetite for finding out more about the odd goings on in an isolated place in Norway. And the story centres around the observations of Liv who lives there with her mother. Liv is a quiet loner, happy to observe the goings on and often left to her own devices. But she revels in the solitude and is fascinated by the behaviour of others.

When 2 brothers die in the same way, the events rock the town and lots of whispers begin about what may have happened. The events of that summer changed everything for everyone. There has always been whispers of a presence amongst them, but often dismissed, but the more Liv sees the more she starts to wonder if the stories she has been told are real.

There is a real sense of uncertainty throughout this book – from the perspective of Liv, the behaviours of other characters – but what remains the same is the isolation of the village and what effect that has on those living there.

It also explores the impact that family complexities have on a character and their outlook on the world. LIv is very much like her mother in some respects, preferring her own company, but often looking for something more from others.

I did find myself having more questions than answers by the end of the book, but still found it to be a really evocative and impressive read.




Surely everyone deserves a second chance?

Ex-fireman and edible flower farmer Shay McGillen has plenty of reasons not to give Sarah Pickering even one chance when she turns up in his small Yorkshire village. After all, she is only there to try and convince him and his fellow villagers to sell up so her company can build a bypass. If Sarah thinks she can make Shay give up his farmhouse and his business, she has another thing coming!

But when an unexpected blizzard leaves Sarah stranded in Shay’s home, he soon realises that they are far more alike than he could have ever imagined – and perhaps both of them deserve a second chance …




This was one of those books that seems to be perfect to read on a sunny or rainy afternoon! I loved the characters of Sarah and Shay, and the village community feeling was what we all hope to find wherever we live!

Sarah has just moved to the village with seemingly double intentions! She’s escaping something sad from her past, but also hopeful of helping the locals see fit to accept the plan of her company who want to build a massive bypass. She knows they are being offered very good money to move away so can’t understand why they are all so reluctant to comply and move away!

Shay is a flower farmer who has lived in the village for sometime, and does all he can to keep himself to himself.  He has also suffered tragedy in his past and you get the sense he feels guilty and is happy to punish himself by staying lonely.  His first encounter with Sarah isn’t the start they both wanted, but when the weather gets in the way they are forced to spend more time together and they soon find a common connection as they open up to one another, and it was really touching to see how their past shaped how they see the world now, and that by talking to one another about things helped them find a little happiness in the world.

But things never run smoothly, and when the bypass company start to play hard ball we get to see how the truth comes out about Sarah and her role and Shay finds himself feeling betrayed by how he opened up to her.

There is a great balance between the light and dark subjects in this book, and I loved how you could relate to both characters and the way they have faced up to tragedies in their lives, and how we need to go easy on ourselves at some point!