His name was Joseph, but for years they had called him Panenka, a name that was his sadness and his story. Panenka has spent 25 years living with the disastrous mistakes of his past, which have made him an exile in his home town and cost him his dearest relationships. Now aged 50, Panenka begins to rebuild an improvised family life with his estranged daughter and her seven year old son.

But at night, Panenka suffers crippling headaches that he calls his Iron Mask. Faced with losing everything, he meets Esther, a woman who has come to live in the town to escape her own disappointments. Together, they find resonance in each other’s experiences and learn new ways to let love into their broken lives.








I wanted my first book read in 2021 to be a stunner – I haven’t been disappointed!! The champion writer of capturing human emotions and life dilemmas faced is back with this breathtaking piece that brings us the character of Panenka, who in his 50’s and is suffering cripping late night headaches, and has done so since his football career finished. With the recent reports of ex footballers dealing with head injuries after their careers, this is a timely release but centres mostly on the effect of those dealing with the consequences and trying to carry on – and often sticking their head in the sand hoping it’s just a headache and nothing too serious.

Surrounding Panenka is his family – his daughter and his beloved grandson Arthur – and they’re very close which is something that hasn’t always been that way. But time and his failing health, has given Panenka space to reflect and regret and in this book it shows the side of life when we overthink, we rue decisions made and play out moments in our head thinking how life could have been so different.

While he’s dealing with struggling to ask for help, we also have flashbacks to his football career for the team Seneca FC. It plays a huge part in the local community and their lives, making stars of their players and how the good times, and bad, on the pitch played out over the years. As a football fan myself, I often forget the ‘humans’ behind the names, and it was fascinating to read Panenka and his story of key moments in his football career and the impact they had on him as a person. The jubilation after a great game, the despair after a bad one…..

But overall, it’s a story of human emotions. Those who struggle to reach out and ask for help, of people feeling unloved or unwanted, rarely showing a vunerability and wanting to find a connection with someone that leaves you able to share your fears instead of feeling like a burden and that you’ll upset your loved ones by sharing too much. It’s about living with regrets and trying to make up for them and all those ‘if only’ moments…..

An absolutely spectacular read and one I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to start the year off with….. is it too early to make my ‘2021 books of the year’ list??!!! Wonderful!!





Leonard and Hungry Paul are two friends who see the world differently. They use humour, board games and silence to steer their way through the maelstrom that is the 21st century.

‘The figure in Munch’s painting isn’t actually screaming!’ Hungry Paul said. ‘Really, are you sure?’ Replied Leonard. ‘Absolutely. That’s the whole thing. The figure is actually closing his ears to block outa scream. Isn’t that amazing? A painting can be so misunderstood and still become so famous.’

LEONARD AND HUNGRY PAUL is the story of two quiet friends trying to find their place in the world. It is about those uncelebrated people who have the ability to change the world, not by effort or force, but through their appreciation of all that is special and overlooked in life.

published by Bluemoose Books


Publisher Website




A sheer delight!  No over the top characters, no outlandish plot, just a story of 2 men who are perfectly content in their own skin.   They have their routines, they live very quiet lives – it may be unconventional for many but for them it works perfectly.  And they both have hearts of gold who will often overthink situations, but that method works for them and I just fell  more and more in love with them with each page I turned!

Leonard and Hungry Paul are the men in question – they’re both very loyal to their families, and loyal in friendship too.  Their quiet way of living is at odds with the louder, more hurried world we’re now living in and as they encounter new situations they try and make sense of it all, seeking solace in a board game and a chat.

There is a real innocence about this book – there are no big egos involved, and they’re completely at ease with who they are and what their place is in the world.  And the relationships between family and friends were so solid and really touching.  They find comfort in one another, but still find time to test the water  and make the scary jump into new territories, without making a fuss or even telling others until it has become a reality or success.

As Leonard ventures into the world of dating I found myself sharing his anguish over how to make the first move, what’s the right etiquette etc, and as Hungry Paul wins a competition and finds a new job, I was almost proud of him, watching on as he navigated a new start – and I want in on the Sunday Night Quiet Club!!! It sounds like my kind of club!!

This is a book where you revel in their victories and share their pain when they’re suffering.  It’s a celebration of the quiet souls in this world who don’t need constant attention or praise and brings to attention the fact that the little things in life can bring the biggest rewards. It’s not about who has got the most money, or the flashiest car, if you don’t have that peace of mind of knowing who you are as a person,  then it’s all worthless. And these men are very clear as to who they are!

So many wonderful little details throughout made this such a perfect book – and I cherished every single page!! Highly recommended!!