#BookReview VOYEUR by FRANCESCA REECE #20BooksOfSummer21

Book 1 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021



WRITER SEEKS ASSISTANT TO HELP WITH ARCHIVING/RESEARCH FOR A NEW NOVEL. Don’t bother to apply if your name is Shakespearean or classical.


Leah, a young woman who has found herself ‘ambitioned’ out of London, is now aimlessly adrift in Paris. Tired of odd jobs in cafés and teaching English to unresponsive social media influencers, her heart skips a beat when she spots an advert for a writer seeking an assistant.

Michael was once the bright young star of the London literary scene, now a washed-up author with writer’s block. He doesn’t place much hope in the advert, but after meeting Leah is filled with an inspiration he hasn’t felt in years.

When Michael offers Leah the opportunity to join him and his family in their rambling but glorious property in the south of France for the summer, she finally feels her luck is turning. But as she begins to transcribe the diaries from his debauched life in 1960s Soho, something begins to nag at Leah’s sense of fulfilment; that there might be more to Michael than meets the eye.



Leah is the main character of this book and her cynical view on life made me connect with her! She is drifting along in life, not sure of where she wants to go, what she wants to be so just sees where life will take her. And that is Paris to begin with, where she can people watch and teach English part time to earn some money. She finds life in France liberating and soon a job opportunity arises to work for a writer.

Michael is a writer, and sees a girl who takes him back in time as though he’s seen a ghost. She bears a striking resemblance to Astrid, an old flame, and he finds himself smitten. Through his eyes we get the story of how he met Astrid and how their story unfolded. And how those who knew him then, think he’s playing a dangerous game now by being around this young woman.

Leah then spends the Summer with Michael and his family and soon becomes very involved in the family goings on and it’s a very dark and sultry story that plays out.

It’s a very atmospheric story, with some unpleasant characters, but thanks to the setting and the clever way the story is told with the past and present, it really does do a great job of keeping your attention to which way the story will twist and turn next!





In the spirit of The Known World and The Underground Railroad, a profound debut about the unlikely bond between two freedmen who are brothers and the Georgia farmer whose alliance will alter their lives, and his, forever.

In the waning days of the Civil War, brothers Prentiss and Landry—freed by the Emancipation Proclamation—seek refuge on the homestead of George Walker and his wife, Isabelle. The Walkers, wracked by the loss of their only son to the war, hire the brothers to work their farm, hoping through an unexpected friendship to stanch their grief. Prentiss and Landry, meanwhile, plan to save money for the journey north and a chance to reunite with their mother, who was sold away when they were boys.

Parallel to their story runs a forbidden romance between two Confederate soldiers. The young men, recently returned from the war to the town of Old Ox, hold their trysts in the woods. But when their secret is discovered, the resulting chaos, including a murder, unleashes convulsive repercussions on the entire community. In the aftermath of so much turmoil, it is Isabelle who emerges as an unlikely leader, proffering a healing vision for the land and for the newly free citizens of Old Ox.

With candor and sympathy, debut novelist Nathan Harris creates an unforgettable cast of characters, depicting Georgia in the violent crucible of Reconstruction. Equal parts beauty and terror, as gripping as it is moving, The Sweetness of Water is an epic whose grandeur locates humanity and love amid the most harrowing circumstances. 




This is a beautifully written, understated story that looks into the complexities of human relationships, especially at the time in America when the Civil War had just ended so many people were dealing with loss and a new way of life.

It centres around 2 brothers and their relationship with George, a local man who shuns most human contact and finds it difficult to express his emotions. But the moment he finds these brothers on his land, he seems to connect with them and finds it easier to open up to them than his own wife.

His relationship with these 2 brothers angers many of the locals who find it strange and seems to antagonise many. With his wife on board for his vision for his land, we get to explore a number of relationships and the intricacies that come with them – friends, family, lovers.. – and it’s the exploration of the male side of things that I really enjoyed reading about. How awkward someone can be with someone so close, yet so open and free with a ‘stranger’.

With resistance from the locals to his plans, George and his family find themselves being shunned because of their relationship with the brothers, and what followed is a story that’s full of heartbreak, hope, determination and fight.

The brothers share an extraordinary bond which makes their scenes even more touching, and makes some of the situations they find themselves in even more heartwrenching as things unfold. I loved the style of writing throughout, the action builds up slowly which allows you to connect more to each character and giving a number of characters their own voice allowed you to see more of the picture and understand the times.

A staggering debut and a story that stays with you.


My thanks to amazon vine for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview #PublicationDay HAMNET by MAGGIE O’FARRELL #Hamnet


Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.

Award-winning author Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel breathes full-blooded life into the story of a loss usually consigned to literary footnotes, and provides an unforgettable vindication of Agnes, a woman intriguingly absent from history.



GOLDSBORO BOOKS – signed first edition

Waterstones – signed edition




If I could give this 6 stars I would!! I found myself completely captivated by this story of family, of love, of grief and I lost count of how many tears I shed throughout!

This is the story of the man behind the plays. And it features his family – his wife, Agnes and their 3 children, Susanna, and the twins Hamnet and Judith. And each character has such a stunning tale to share that it’s hard to pick the one I enjoyed the most.

In Agnes, the mother, there’s her story of how she met her husband, the hard upbringing she had especially when she lost her mother, and her devotion to using medicinal herbs. Something that marks her out as different to others, and something her daughter Susanna finds embarrassing and resents her ‘abilities’.

And then there’s the bond between twins with Hamnet and Judith which was breathtakingly explored. When his sister takes to her bed extremely unwell, Hamnet is beside himself in what to do. His mother is out tending her herbs, his father is in London, and all he wants to do is find someone to make his sister better. He is truly pained by watching his sister suffer so much and is driven to extreme lengths to try and get her some help.

The story flits backwards and forwards in time to particularly memorable moments in all their lives and then those moments that are extremely devastating and gutwrenching. The descriptions of grief showed as a mother loses her child and the days, weeks, months afterwards were brilliantly portrayed and caused me to shed the most tears as you suffered those emotions with her.

I simply adored this book from the first page to the last. The ambience of the times is brought to life so beautifully, each character is well developed for you to connect with and it was a haunting, emotional and staggeringly brilliant read! A must read!!


My thanks to  Georgina at  Midas PR for the review copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview Do Not Feed The Bear by Rachel Elliott @TinderPress


A life-affirming novel of love, loss and letting go – for readers of ELEANOR OLIPHANT, THE TROUBLE WITH GOATS AND SHEEP and WHEN GOD WAS A RABBIT On her forty-seventh birthday, Sydney Smith stands on a rooftop and prepares to jump…

Sydney is a cartoonist and freerunner. Feet constantly twitching, always teetering on the edge of life, she’s never come to terms with the event that ripped her family apart when she was ten years old. And so, on a birthday that she doesn’t want to celebrate, she returns alone to St Ives to face up to her guilt and grief. It’s a trip that turns out to be life-changing – and not only for herself.

DO NOT FEED THE BEAR is a book about lives not yet lived, about the kindness of others and about how, when our worlds stop, we find a way to keep on moving.

published by Tinder Press


hive.co.uk  £15.25

whsmith  £13.29

waterstones  £18.99


I found this to be a really touching and emotional read featuring a cast of wonderful characters who are all dealing with their own grief and sadness, and how the kindness of others is sometimes the turning point in a life devoid of much hope and is able to give people a new perspective on what is happening in their life.

The story centres around Sydney who has dealt with some major trauma in her youth, and has carried that with her as she approaches her 47th birthday. Never really able to confront her emotions, she is a freerunner and uses that as an escape and a way of taking control over things she thinks she can’t control. Her partner Ruth is used to her ways, but still wishes she could open up more – she wants a little bit of normal in their life.

When Sydney takes herself off to a place that means so much, she is faced with new people and new outlooks. But still she can’t escape the past and you are very aware of the hold it has over all of her family and it was heartbreaking to read her thoughts as she remembered family holidays.

I loved the way the interconnecting stories flowed – from Belle the quiet soul who works in the local bookshop and hides herself away in routine and books, to Maria who wants to rescue the ‘angel’ she finds but seems unable to rescue herself. And I also loved the perspective of Stuart the dog – the family pet of Maria, Jon and Belle – it was just so cleverly written and very perceptive to have his thoughts on what was going on with his humans.

As Sydney, her father and her partner are made to face up to what happened in the past, it was really emotional to keep having their flashbacks and thoughts and to see how their prescence in this place is helping to shift the minds of the people they meet. It was so refreshing to read the different characters with such different outlooks on life – their hopes, their fears and the expectations you place on yourself and those around you.

Quirky, insightful and moving! Highly recommended!

My thanks to the team at Tinder Press for my advanced copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BookReview The Carer by Debbie Moggach


From the bestselling author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Tulip Fever, a deliciously funny, poignant and wry novel, full of surprising twists and turns.

Unputdownable, fun and tender with characters that jump off the page. Perfection’ Marian Keyes

James is getting on a bit and needs full-time help. So Phoebe and Robert, his middle-aged offspring, employ Mandy, who seems willing to take him off their hands. But as James regales his family with tales of Mandy’s virtues, their shopping trips, and the shared pleasure of their journeys to garden centres, Phoebe and Robert sense something is amiss. Is this really their father, the distant figure who never once turned up for a sports day, now happily chortling over cuckoo clocks and television soaps?

Then something happens that throws everything into new relief, and Phoebe and Robert discover that life most definitely does not stop for the elderly. It just moves onto a very different plane – changing all the stories they thought they knew so well.

published by Tinder Press


Amazon UK  £12.96

hive.co.uk  £12.59

whsmiths £11.89


I found this to be quite a touching read telling the story of an elderly man being helped by a carer as his own 2 grown children don’t have the time, or inclination(!), to spend time with him and they become strangely jealous of Mandy the carer as they begin to see their father in a different light, and it enforces that thought that sometimes you don’t see a parent as a person in their own right until maybe sometimes it’s too late.

Phoebe and Robert are the children involved and their own lives aren’t going as smoothly as they’d both like – a loveless marriage for one, and doomed love affairs for the other -not how they’d seen themselves being in their 60’s. They still both have a lot of resentment towards their father from childhood as he always seemed to miss out on events they’d like him to be at, and now it seems they’re getting their own back by not being there when he needs them.

But with the appearance of Mandy, they see their day begin to enjoy life once more! He’s visiting different places and laughing more – the suspicions then begin to surface with Phoebe and Robert in wondering if Mandy has an ulterior motive of befriending James. The truth shocked me!

In seeing this story play out, we also get to look back at James as a younger man – newly married and with young children and a completely different side to him is revealed and I loved the alternative perspective which really brings the depth to the characters and very cleverly shifts your judgement and challenges your view of certain people.

This book really showed how the actions of others impact so deeply on others and the startling confessions revealed throughout were brilliant in taking the story in a different direction to where I thought it was all going to go! Excellent read!!


#BookReview The Six Loves of Billy Binns #BillyBinns @TinderPress @Bookywookydooda

About the book

THE SIX LOVES OF BILLY BINNS is a deeply moving debut set in London against the backdrop of the changing 20th century. it is reading group fiction perfect for those who loved the quirky pathos of Gail Honeyman’s ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE and the warmth and humour of Rachel Joyce’s THE PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY.

At 117 years old, Billy Binns is the oldest man in Europe and he knows his time is almost up. But Billy has a final wish: he wants to remember what love feels like one last time. As he looks back at the relationships that have shaped his life – and the events that shaped the century – he recalls a life full of hope, heartbreak and, above all, love.

Published by Tinder Press

Publication Date – 24th January 2019

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk  £12.59

waterstones £16.99


Confession time – this book left me a blubbing mess!! Uncontrollable sobbing on the sofa as I finished reading the story of the wonderful but flawed Billy Binns and his remarkable life, and an amazing debut from the author which has already made me want to put this on my ‘best books of 2019’ already!! Yep, I loved it that much!!

Billy Binns is well over a hundred years old and he knows time is running out as he spends his days in the care home, and as he starts reminiscing about his life and loves we get to experience with him as he looks back at the six loves that have made his life so extraordinary.

Going back over the years we get to hear about his childhood, and then the special people who came into his life at various times, and when he looks back he often finds he is starting to remember things differently and his memories often surprise him. And the flashbacks aren’t all sweetness and light – there are some really dark, tough times that Billy has lived through and I think that darker side really made him feel more human and made it easier to connect with as a reader. He hadn’t sailed through life, he wasn’t perfect, he had many regrets – and the way his story was told embraced his shortcomings just as much as his triumphs.

There were many twists along the way in his story that left me shocked and were gut wrenching at times. In his life his pursuit of love sometimes led him to honourable decisions, and reckless decisions on other occasions. There’s also a touching look at his time in the care home, with the staff he bonds with, the other residents he gets to know and the reality of their situations which is all too clear when a chair is left empty in the communal lounge.

Billy Binns stole my heart in this book and it is one I look forward to picking up again very soon to read all over again – even though I know it will bring back the tears! Wonderful!!


#BookReview Tin Man by Sarah Winman

About the book

This is almost a love story.

Ellis and Michael are twelve when they first become friends, and for a long time it is just the two of them, cycling the streets of Oxford, teaching themselves how to swim, discovering poetry, and dodging the fists of an overbearing father. And then one day this closest of friendships grows into something more.

But then we fast forward a decade or so, to find that Ellis is married to Annie, and Michael is nowhere in sight. Which leads to the question, what happened in the years between?

This is almost a love story. But it’s not as simple as that. 

Published by Tinder Press

Purchase Links




I didn’t think this book had captured my heart totally UNTIL the last page which I read through teary eyes and realised how much this simply beautifully written book had crept inside my soul, and I’d lived the lives of these characters alongside them and felt every high and low of life with them.

It’s not a simple story of love but one of friendship, adoration and grief. Told from the point of view of both Michael and Ellis, it follows both men over the years and the impact that their connection has on each other, and also how the role of Annie is so pivotal and important to both men and their relationships. The 3 of them are integral to one another.

It features the tougher parts of their lives as they both are trying to figure out how their pasts have affected their behaviour and emotions – whether they are shutting out feelings or behaving erratically in their later lives – and it is tenderly dealt with by the author who gives them space to breathe and discover themselves.

Incredibly this book is only just over 200 pages long and packs so much in to keep your heart and mind captivated. Stunning.


#BookReview The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola #PublicationDay

About the book

From the author of THE UNSEEING comes a sizzling, period novel of folk tales, disappearances and injustice set on the Isle of Skye, sure to appeal to readers of Hannah Kent’s BURIAL RITES or Beth Underdown’s THE WITCH FINDER’S SISTER.

‘A wonderful combination of a thrilling mystery and a perfectly depicted period piece’ Sunday Mirror

Audrey Hart is on the Isle of Skye to collect the word-of-mouth folk tales of the people and communities around her. It is 1857, the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and the crofters are suspicious and hostile, claiming they no longer know their stories. Then Audrey discovers the body of a young girl washed up on the beach and the crofters tell her that it is only a matter of weeks since another girl has disappeared. They believe the girls are the victims of the spirits of the unforgiven dead. Initially, Audrey is sure the girls are being abducted, but then she is reminded of her own mother, a Skye woman who disappeared in mysterious circumstances. It seems there is a link to be explored, and Audrey may uncover just what her family have been hiding from her all these years. 

Published by Tinder Press

Publication Date – 26th July 2018

Purchase Links

Amazon UK


Book Depository

Official Author Website


An enthralling mix of history, mystery, thriller and folklore that I adored and now has me itching to read more folklore tales!

I loved THE UNSEEING from this author, so have been eager to read her latest release and once more I’ve been captivated by the setting, the characters and the unsettling feeling throughout as the tale of missing girls unfolds on the Isle of Skye.

Set in 1857, Audrey is not ready for a life of conforming. An unhappy home life due to her father and stepmother, she is eager to get away so is happy to escape to Skye to fill the vacancy advertised as a collector of folktales for Miss Buchanan. Her mother used to collect stories too, so Audrey has grown up around the dark local tales and wishes to help collate more. She is initially met with resistance from a lot of the locals as they are scared to share the stories as they’ve been brought up to believe that there’ll be trouble if stories of the fairy folk are shared. This ties in with the mystery disappearances of young girls, and when Audrey discovers the body of one girl washed up on the shoreline it is only natural that the locals fear more trouble is coming their way.

There’s a great range of characters in this book – Audrey is a troubled young woman but eager to get on in life and not settle for life as a wife as expected in those days. She is desperately missing her mother and wants to know more about the way she died too and while she is back in the area she also finds out more about her. Miss Buchanan is another great character! A very imposing woman who is virtually housebound due to an accident, but still has an inquisitive mind and great hold over the locals. Her nephew Alec has been assisting her with the folklore tales but is keen to be a writer and story collector in his own right so is often distracted by his own endeavours.

I also loved the way the story of Bainne is dotted throughout this book. A story from the folklore world, it gives a real insight into the fairy life and a sense of how much power the stories had over the local communities who often ran their way of life according to superstition. And with the times they were living in being so tough it was easy to see why they put so much faith in these dark stories – as one character said ‘it’s better to be terrified than miserable’ .

I really enjoyed the slow build of this story. With various threads running throughout there was always something going on, a new story to be told, a new mystery to be investigated and combined with the bleak setting it really made this an unsettling and atmospheric read. Whenever Audrey got close to uncovering a truth there was always something put in her way to make her start questioning her own sanity, and as a reader you were never quite sure who to trust as so many seemed keen on keeping Audrey away from their way of life.

Highly recommended for those who love their tales dark and disturbing!!

The Last Wilderness by Neil Ansell #bookreview #nonfiction


Neil Ansell’s THE LAST WILDERNESS is a mesmerising book on nature and solitude by a writer who has spent his lifetime taking solitary ventures into the wild. For any readers of the author’s previous book, DEEP COUNTRY, Robert Macfarlane’s THE OLD WAYS or William Atkins THE MOOR.

‘A gem of a book, an extraordinary tale. Ansell’s rich prose will transport you to a real life Narnian world that C.S.Lewis would have envied. Find your deepest, most comfortable armchair and get away from it all’ Countryfile

The experience of being in nature alone is here set within the context of a series of walks that Neil Ansell takes into the most remote parts of Britain, the rough bounds in the Scottish Highlands. He illustrates the impact of being alone as part of nature, rather than outside it.

As a counterpoint, Neil Ansell also writes of the changes in the landscape, and how his hearing loss affects his relationship with nature as the calls of the birds he knows so well become silent to him.

Publisher;  Tinder Press

  • ISBN-13: 978-1472247117



Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support a local bookstore

Book Depository



I found this to be a calming and enlightening read and am in total admiration of the author and wilderness walker, Neil Ansell, who sets off alone to enjoy the beauty that the world has to offer despite his own failing health.

It is set in the North West Highlands and the descriptions make it sound like heaven on earth! Would have loved to have had some photos to accompany the text, but he has a wonderful way with words that helps paint the picture of the scenes he encounters. And with his failing hearing, you do get the sense that he picks up more on the sights although he does mention the sounds he misses as his beloved songbird soundtrack is slowly disappearing to him because of his deafness.

This doesn’t stop him setting off alone to explore the Highlands and noticing changes in the wildlife and scenery from trips he’s made years ago, and it does make you worry about the mess that humans are leaving behind, especially as he even finds rubbish dumped along one of his paths in the middle of nowhere.

It’s a fascinating mix of nature writing as he encounters a variety of wildlife, alongside his own thoughts on his love of the solitude and how that hasn’t always been compatible with his lifestyle, and that he doesn’t feel he’s missing out on things because he likes to be alone. It also touches on how those travelling nowadays aren’t really cut off from the world with the use of GPS and the internet, as opposed to when you’d occasionally get sent a postcard from someone away and how you can never really be cut off from what’s going on in the world because of technology and that saddens him.

I loved how he wrote this over a period of 5 visits over a year so you get to see the changes each season bring and how his outlook differs over each time. It was absorbing and uplifting and I will be more interested to pick up the other books from this author now to enjoy more of his adventures and views.


My thanks to the publisher for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt – book review


When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden – thirty two years old and still living at home – immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime.

Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie’s unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie’s uncle to take care of a problem.

This unforgettable debut makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America.

Haunting, gripping and gorgeously written, SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE by Sarah Schmidt is a re-imagining of the unsolved American true crime case of the Lizzie Borden murders, for fans of BURIAL RITES and MAKING A MURDERER.
‘Eerie and compelling, Sarah Schmidt breathes such life into the terrible, twisted tale of Lizzie Borden and her family, she makes it impossible to look away’ Paula Hawkins

Out May 2nd 2017

More about Lizzie Borden via Wikipedia

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore – £10.65 hardback pre-order

Amazon UK  £6.49  Kindle Edition

Lizzie Borden took an axe

And gave her mother forty whacks.

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her father forty-one.

I do love the books I read to be a little out of the ordinary – in subject matter or writing style – and this book certainly fits into that ‘out there’ category !!  You might remember the story as more of a skipping rope song than just a grissly murder, and I have to say that I knew very little of the Bordens’ or the events of that night, but since finishing this wonderfully dark book then I’ve been obsessed with reading all I can about that event and those involved!

It is an astonishing debut as I found that the author tells the story in a really compelling way.  Taking it in turns with each chapter to share the viewpoint of the main protagonists, and that really built up the backstory and the present so well.  There is very little empathy to be had with many of the characters but there are little glimpses into their lives that shows you how they had seemingly suffered that you find yourself warming, only a little!, to their situation.  It shows life in a very unhappy family and just how resentment, hatred and tension builds up and festers within people, until they reach a tipping point and then……

The story centres around events leading up to and that night in question in 1892 when Lizzies’ father and stepmother were brutally murdered, and we follow the plot via the viewpoints of four different characters, the main ones being Lizzy and her sister Emma.  I found the story from Bridget, the housekeeper, a fascinating one too!  And their stories are enthralling and captivating with a very dark edge that just keeps you turning the pages wanting more details – or maybe that’s just my twisted side showing itself again!

I’d highly recommend this to those of you looking for something different from a read and one that allows you to peek behind the net curtains as to the events that led up to such an awful crime.

Thank you to Georgina Moore, Publicity Books and Tinder Press for the advanced copy in return for a fair and honest review!