Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday afternoon. We were supposed to have heavy rain all day, but other than a couple of light drizzly showers, there’s been nothing, so I have had to water the vege garden. I picked another seven cucumbers for Luke’s roadside stand, but I fear that’s the last of them. It doesn’t look as though there are many feijoas on the tree, and there’s no sign yet of mandarins, so he may have a bit of a dry spell for a while. Dustin and Luke have been down for the afternoon and have just left to go back home so that they’ve time to give Timmy a run before it’s dark. Daylight saving ends here next week, so it will get dark even earlier.

Helen and I went and investigated the two new antique shops in the area Friday morning. We had a lovely time and finished with coffee out.

Currently I am reading, and almost finished, The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish. I’m not over-enamoured, but reserving my final opinion as she often pulls something out of the hat right at the end.

I am still listening to the family saga, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.

I am not quite caught up with my March reads yet, hopefully this week. I have two reads for review due this week: Those Empty Eyes by Charlie Donlea

Alex Armstrong has changed everything about herself—her name, her appearance, her backstory. She’s no longer the terrified teenager a rapt audience saw on television, emerging in handcuffs from the quiet suburban home the night her family was massacred. That girl, Alexandra Quinlan, nicknamed Empty Eyes by the media, was accused of the killings, fought to clear her name, and later took the stand during her highly publicized defamation lawsuit that captured the attention of the nation.

It’s been ten years since, and Alex hasn’t stopped searching for answers about the night her family was killed, even as she continues to hide her real identity from true crime fanatics and grasping reporters still desperate to locate her. As a legal investigator, she works tirelessly to secure justice for others, too. People like Matthew Claymore, who’s under suspicion in the disappearance of his girlfriend, a student journalist named Laura McAllister.

Laura was about to break a major story about rape and cover-ups on her college campus. Alex believes Matthew is innocent, and unearths stunning revelations about the university’s faculty, fraternity members, and powerful parents willing to do anything to protect their children.

Most shocking of all—as Alex digs into Laura’s disappearance, she realizes there are unexpected connections to the murder of her own family. For as different as the crimes may seem, they each hinge on one sinister truth: no one is quite who they seem to be . . .

And A Pen Dipped in Poison by J.M. Hall, which I can’t wait to get to. I loved the first book in this series and am looking forward to catching up with Liz, Pat and Thelma again.

Signed. Sealed. Dead?

Retired schoolteachers Liz, Pat and Thelma never expected they would be caught up in a crime even once in their lives, let alone twice.

But when poison pen letters start landing on the doorsteps of friends and neighbours in their Yorkshire village, old secrets come to light.

With the potential for deadly consequences.

It won’t be long until the three friends are out on a case yet again…

Only one publisher’s Widget this week, and one ARC. The widget is Summer at the Cornish Farmhouse by Linn B. Halton

And ARC is The Widow of Weeping Pines by Amanda McKinney

I am back at work fulltime from Monday. Hopefully not for too long. I will still be going to aquarobics, but other interests will be taking a back seat while I deal with the end of the financial year and training someone new for my job. *sigh* I have a meeting with the outgoing manager tomorrow. She walked off the job at lunchtime Friday after having, only days earlier, agreed to work through to the end of March. 🤷‍♀️

Enjoy however much remains of your weekend. I’m making toasted sandwiches for dinner tonight – ham, cheese, mustard. Then I will sort out the menu for the rest of the week and make a shopping list. We’re a bit like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard here as I haven’t done a grocery shop for two weeks.

Happy reading!❤📚

The Angel Tree by Lucinda Riley

EXCERPT: Dressed in a pair of wellingtons that were far too big for her and an old Barbour, Greta strode out across the virgin snow, breathing in the wonderful clean, crisp air. She paused, wondering which way to go, hoping some inner instinct would guide her, and decided to take a stroll through the woods. As she walked, she looked upwards at the deep blue sky above and a sudden joy filled her veins at the sheer beauty of the scene. It was such an unusual and rare feeling that she almost skipped as she zigzagged her way through the trees.

Arriving in a clearing, she saw a majestic fir tree standing in the centre of it, the rich green of its bushy, snow-laden branches a contrast to the tall, bare beech trees that made up the rest of the wood. Walking towards it, she noticed there was a gravestone beneath it, the inscription covered by snow. Surmising that it was almost certainly the grave of a family pet – perhaps one she had known – Greta reached down and scraped away the hard, icy flakes with her gloved hand.

Slowly the inscription began to appear.

Beloved son of Owen &Greta
Brother of Francesca
BORN 2nd JUNE 1946
DIED 6th JUNE 1949
May God guide his little angel up to heaven

ABOUT ‘THE ANGEL TREE’: Thirty years have passed since Greta left Marchmont Hall, a grand and beautiful house nestled in the hills of rural Monmouthshire. But when she returns to the Hall for Christmas, at the invitation of her old friend David Marchmont, she has no recollection of her past association with it – the result of a tragic accident that has blanked out more than two decades of her life. Then, during a walk through the wintry landscape, she stumbles across a grave in the woods, and the weathered inscription on the headstone tells her that a little boy is buried here . . .

The poignant discovery strikes a chord in Greta’s mind and soon ignites a quest to rediscover her lost memories. With David’s help, she begins to piece together the fragments of not only her own story, but that of her daughter, Cheska, who was the tragic victim of circumstances beyond her control. And, most definitely, not the angel she appeared to be . . .

MY THOUGHTS: The Angel Tree is a multigenerational family saga, intricately plotted and compelling. Lucinda Riley excels at this type of story, interweaving the historical and cultural mores of the times in which the story is set with a richly emotional family drama.

The Angel Tree encompasses both love and tragedy. At the heart of the story is Marchmont, the family home lived in by several generations, and which ties all the characters and story threads together.

The story is told over several different timelines, definitely nonlinear, but it works well. The main narrators are David Marchmont, his mother Laura-Jane known as LJ, Greta who married David’s uncle Owen Marchmont, and Greta’s daughter Francesca, known as Cheska. Not only does The Angel Tree span several different timelines, but also different continents.

Not all the characters are likeable, and rifts appear between family members leading to estrangements and resentments. There is a story of unrequited love running through the novel, of missed chances, misunderstandings and bad timing. Also one of envy and greed and mental illness.

I found The Angel Tree to be a satisfying read and I have gone on to immediately read another of this author’s books.

The audiobook of The Angel Tree is ably narrated by Juliet Stevenson.


#TheAngelTree #WaitomoDistrictLibrary

I: @lucindarileybooks @panmacmillan

T: @lucindariley @panmacmillan

THE AUTHOR: Lucinda Riley is an Irish author of popular historical fiction and a former actress. She spent the first few years of her life in the village of Drumbeg near Belfast before moving to England. At age 14 she moved to London to a specialist drama and ballet school. She wrote her first book aged twenty four. Lucinda died in June 2021.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Waitomo District Library for the loan of the audiobook of The Angel Tree by Lucinda Riley for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Instagram and

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Welcome to an overcast and humid summer afternoon in New Zealand. We were forecast heavy rain today, but instead it has been dry enough for me to get the lawns mowed.

I have my 5 year old grandson, Luke with me. He arrived Thursday evening and I am taking him home Wednesday afternoon. We have put up the tree, decorated the house, played numerous games of snap and go fish. We have started a tradition of ‘elevenses’ and invited ‘Mrs Helen’ my neighbour and walking partner to the first where we brought out the best china and had Christmas cake. I am also teaching Luke to play tennis (sans net), which he loves, and he is excited to, at last, be able to return a volley shot. Tuesday he is coming to aquarobics with me. Quite a few of the women brought their children and grandchildren to the classes during the week and we abandoned the aquarobics in favour of water polo and water bull rush. It was a far harder workout than our normal exercises!

It feels slightly unreal to think that this time next week it will be Christmas Day! I am mostly prepared. I’m just leaving making the chocolate crackles until later in the week. We’re going to Dustin’s Christmas Day, and then having open house here Boxing day.

It was my younger brother’s birthday yesterday, and we have two more family birthdays in December on 27th and 29th, so it’s a busy month for us.

Currently I am reading, purely for pleasure, The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway #1) by Elly Griffiths. I was drawn in from the start and will finish it this afternoon. I have read several books from this series in a rather haphazard manner but am now reading the series from the start, in order.

I am also reading Shadow Sands (Kate Marshall #2) by Robert Bryndza, a title from my backlist. I will also probably finish this today. I am planning on reading #3, Darkness Falls between Christmas and New Year, so that I am all caught up prior to the publication of #4, Devil’s Way, in January. I wholeheartedly recommend this series.

I am also reading WIN (Windsor Horne Lockwood III #1) by Harlan Coben. This is another title from my backlist.

And listening to The Love Letter by Lucinda Riley. When I first started listening to this, I thought it very similar to The Angel Tree, but now that the story has developed, it is very different but equally as enchanting. BTW, I don’t particularly like the cover.

I have nothing scheduled to read for review in the coming week, so plan to knock a few more titles off my backlist.

I received four new ARCs for review from Netgalley this week. They are: The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish, which I am very excited about. This is due for publication 08 March 2023.

One Day With You by Shari Low

Apartment 303 by Kelli Hawkins

And, That Night at the Beach by Kate Hewitt

Anything there that you’d care to read?

I still have 15 requests pending. 😊

I won’t post Christmas Day, or possibly Boxing Day either. But I wish you all the best however you choose to celebrate the festive season.

Happy reading ❤📚🎄

The Will by Rebecca Reid

EXCERPT: Roxborough House is an enormous house. Too big, really. Every person who has lived there in the last two hundred years has claimed that they will be the last, that no one could possibly want to be saddled with this place. Fifteen bedrooms. Servants’ quarters. A library, two kitchens, a small sitting room, a large sitting room, a drawing room, a dining room – the list goes on. Running Roxborough is no joke. It’s a full-time job. A burden. A millstone. Inheriting it means tying one’s entire life to the place.

And yet, they all want it.

ABOUT ‘THE WILL’: The Mordaunts aren’t like most families . . .

For one, their family home is Roxborough Hall – a magnificent, centuries-old mansion in the Norfolk countryside. For another, the house isn’t passed down from parent to child – but rather to the family member deemed most worthy.

Cecily Mordaunt is dead. On the evening of her funeral, her family will gather for dinner and each will be given a letter, revealing who is the next custodian of Roxborough Hall.

The house is a burden, a millstone, a full-time job . . . but they all want it. And some are willing do anything to get it.

One family. Eight letters. Who will get what they deserve?

MY THOUGHTS: I found The Will to be compelling reading. I became totally immersed in the relationships and machinations of the Mordaunt family and read this book in less than twenty four hours.

This is my first book by author Rebecca Reid, but it certainly won’t be the last. Next on my to do list after writing this review is to track down copies of her other books.

There characters in this book are brilliantly depicted from the sweet and gentle Violet who, as it turns out, has hidden depths, to the overachieving Briony who envisages her husband’s family home as an exclusive girl’s school with herself at the helm.

The story of this family told over several timelines, non-linear, but beautifully executed. Not once did I feel confused. The timelines range from the recently deceased matriarch Cecily’s childhood through to the present time encompassing her funeral and the entailment of the family homestead.

Grant is the favoured younger son, an aging playboy with a taste for much younger women. Grant’s adopted son Jonty is a vet and the only family member who lives locally. David is Cecily’s elder son, weighed down by his successful second wife’s expectations, a desire to do right by his two daughters from his first marriage, and perplexed by a son he doesn’t understand, the result of his second marriage. Willa, a lawyer who has an eating disorder her family prefers to ignore, and Lizzie, a free spirit, are David’s two daughters and Cecily’s adored granddaughters. Cecily’s own daughter, Elspeth, has been estranged from her mother for many years. And finally there is Violet, Cecily’s constant companion and friend since Cecily turned twenty-one. One of these people will inherit Roxborough Hall. But who? And why?

The narrative of this tale is full of amazing revelations – secrets, so many secrets! There are secret liaisons, relationships, desires and dreams.

I was enormously entertained throughout this fun read.


#TheWill #NetGalley

I: @rebeccacnreid @randomhouseuk @transworld @penguinuk

T: @RebeccaCNReid @RandomHouseUK @Transworld @PenguinUK

#contemporaryfiction #familysaga #fivestarread #friendship #historicalfiction #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Rebecca Reid is a journalist based in London. She is a columnist for the Telegraph women’s section and for Metro. She writes regularly for Marie Claire, The Guardian, Telegraph online, the Saturday Telegraph, The Independent, Grazia, Stylist, and the iPaper, and she appears regularly on Good Morning Britain, where she argues with everyone from Piers Morgan to Jameela Jamil about gender politics, social class, and sex and relationships.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld, Penguin via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Will by Rebecca Reid for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate Boerner

EXCERPT: Just before sunrise on a Friday like any other, Bernice Hart decided to run away from home. She’d started mulling over the notion shortly after the occasion of her eighty-first birthday. Now, as she opened her eyes to another day, Bernice discovered the idea had fully taken root in her mind. She would slip away undetected, not in search of one last great adventure, nor as an attention-seeking antic sure to upset her family. Bernice had only one goal: she wanted to live out the remainder of her life on her own terms.

ABOUT ‘BERNICE RUNS AWAY’: Life hasn’t always been easy for Bernice, but she is reasonably content at the ripe age of eighty-one. She has raised two children, buried both her husband and son, and is doing okay despite a few minor health issues. When Bernice’s daughter, Sarah, insists the time has come for Bernice to forfeit her independence and move into her backyard carriage house, Bernice refuses.

“I have a perfectly good house in Arkansas. Why on earth would I move to Atlanta?”

Despite Bernice’s protestations, Sarah moves forward with death cleaning and estate sale planning as though Bernice has no say in the matter.

Bernice has plenty to say about a variety of things.

With Miss Fiona packed stem to stern with only those things that spark joy (thank you, Marie Kondo) and inspired by an old black-and-white photograph of her first true love, Bernice leaves her cozy home in Savage Crossing without a glance in the rearview mirror. And without a word to her family.

Once Bernice decides to run away, there is no telling what might happen next.

MY THOUGHTS: This sounds like a hilarious jaunt. It’s not. It’s a quiet exploration of an elderly woman ‘finding herself’; discovering what is important to her. There are some humorous moments along the way, but that’s not what the book is about.

At the outset, Bernice seems like a pretty dull character. She has fallen into a rut and thinks she is perfectly happy there. But, determined not to be railroaded by her daughter into moving to Atlanta to live with her, she decides to run away – from everyone and everything.

At times I was worried about Bernice, particularly when she loses her cat, Dolly Parton, at a roadside stop. She doesn’t exactly have a lot of life skills and undergoes a steep learning curve.

I really liked Jason’s character. He owns the lakeside cabins where Bernice stays. He’s reeling from a broken engagement – the woman even took his dog when she left! He’s kind and thoughtful and keeps a close eye on Bernice, and helps her in her search for her first love, who had unceremoniously dumped her with no explanation!

I found it easy to empathise with Bernice in many situations. When she needs it, she has spunk and determination.

If you want a story with lots of action and romance, Bernice Runs Away isn’t for you. If you want a delightfully quiet read about an elderly woman looking for a second chance at life – you’ve found it.


#BerniceRunsAway #NetGalley

I: @gracegrits @onemisspress

T: @GraceGrits @OneMissPress

THE AUTHOR: Talya Tate Boerner is a delta girl who grew up making mudpies on her family’s cotton farm in Northeast Arkansas. After thirty years as a commercial banker in Dallas, she returned to the state she loves and now lives in Fayetteville with her husband, John, and two miniature schnauzers, Gracie and Annabelle. She loves to cook and believes most any dish can be improved with a side of collard greens.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to One Mississippi Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Bernice Runs Away by Talya Tate Boerner for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly

EXCERPT: Ingrid has gone limp in the cyclist’s arms. She is making ugly, meaningless noises.

‘I’m thirsty,’ I tell Bridget.

Her training kicks in. ‘That’s a sign of shock. Here.’ Her cape reveals itself to be the throw from my mother’s sofa. She wraps it around me as she examines the wound. Mother of God, she’s got the femoral artery. Rose, keep that pressure up. ‘

‘Did we do the right thing?’ asks Dom. He takes my hand. ‘Bridget, she’s freezing.’

‘You both did brilliantly,’ says Bridget. She puts one hand to my forehead and the other to my wrist.

I hear a siren sing in the distance.

‘Have we saved her life, Mum?’ asks Rose.

Bridget, who always says it’s better to remain silent than tell a lie, doesn’t reply.

‘You’ve killed my sister,’ cries Dominic to Ingrid. ‘You should’ve been locked up years ago.’

The siren closes in.

‘No.’ Ingrid shakes her head. ‘I was trying to save a life. All I’ve ever wanted was to bring Elinore back.’

The siren dies. Strobing blue light turns everyone into aliens. The ambulance door slams and I see the black boots and the green overalls of the paramedics at a sideways angle. My last thought as I close my eyes and slide backwards out of this world is how vain is the cause that I am about to die for.

For the woman that Ingrid is trying to save has never existed outside the pages of a book.


Summer, 2021. Nell has come home at her family’s insistence to celebrate an anniversary. Fifty years ago, her father wrote The Golden Bones. Part picture book, part treasure hunt, Sir Frank Churcher created a fairy story about Elinore, a murdered woman whose skeleton was scattered all over England. Clues and puzzles in the pages of The Golden Bones led readers to seven sites where jewels were buried – gold and precious stones, each a different part of a skeleton. One by one, the tiny golden bones were dug up until only Elinore’s pelvis remained hidden.

The book was a sensation. A community of treasure hunters called the Bonehunters formed, in frenzied competition, obsessed to a dangerous degree. People sold their homes to travel to England and search for Elinore. Marriages broke down as the quest consumed people. A man died. The book made Frank a rich man. Stalked by fans who could not tell fantasy from reality, his daughter, Nell, became a recluse.

But now the Churchers must be reunited. The book is being reissued along with a new treasure hunt and a documentary crew are charting everything that follows. Nell is appalled, and terrified. During the filming, Frank finally reveals the whereabouts of the missing golden bone. And then all hell breaks loose.

MY THOUGHTS: I became fully immersed in the story of the Churcher and Lally families to the detriment of everything else I was currently reading. The extended family dynamics enthralled me. I became obsessed by their machinations, and their relationships, which are almost incestuous.

They are complicated families, their past and current lives closely entwined. Just how closely entwined becomes apparent during the course of the book. They support one another, play off against one another. Their children marry one another. It’s all just one big happy family. Or is it?

The characters are superbly portrayed. Who could not love and admire Nell for abandoning the claustrophobic craziness and striking out on her own? Or Dom for becoming the quintessential ‘city boy’ in retaliation to his parents loose and louche lifestyle?

But when Nell’s life, and by extension young Billie’s life, is threatened by Frank’s desperate need to always be in the spotlight, the centre of attention, the Churcher and Lally clans circle the wagons in an attempt to control the frenzy Frank has unleashed upon them, with unforeseen consequences.

While the mystery is great, it’s the characters that make this book. Actions that start out with good intentions become derailed and disastrous making it an unpredictable and rewarding read. The story inside is every bit as stunning, intricate and enticing as the cover art.

I loved every word of this, my first book by Erin Kelly, and I will definitely be reading more from this author.


#TheSkeletonKey #NetGalley

I: @erinjelly @hodderbooks

T: @mserinkelly @HodderFiction

#contemporaryfiction #familysaga #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Erin Kelly was born in London in 1976 and grew up in Essex. She read English at Warwick University and has been working as a journalist since 1998.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Skeleton Key via Netgalley for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon,Instagram and

The Saint of Lost Things by Tish Delaney

EXCERPT: Auntie’s job was to keep me under surveillance. I was not to break free again, once was enough. I was too much like my mother, who abandoned the mothering ship early; too much like my father, who we don’t talk about. He’s a traveller, not of the world, just the roads of Ireland, a king of the long acre. I’ve never heard his name, though he has plenty of labels. He’s a gypsy, a tinker, a knacker, a pikey, and plenty worse besides. I heard all of them from Granda, so I was well-prepared for what I was to hear at school. It bounced off me, the abuse of amateurs. Granda doesn’t have any truck with men who don’t own land, who don’t work it but who want to borrow it from time to time without paying their proper dues. It’s not decent to use land when it’s not going to be handed on.

One of the things that will make his fists form fast is the reality that I am his rightful heir. Indeed, I am his only heir, but I’m so tainted that he’s had to make alternative arrangements. He’s against anything of mixed blood – mongrels, Catholic and Protestant unions of any kind, Romany filth coming anywhere near a girl who was raised to be good. That I’m a bastard born under his roof is more than he can stomach. That he kept me and my mother is the single thing I have never been able to understand. His threat to put me and her out to the open road where we belonged was part of our daily bread.

ABOUT ‘THE SAINT OF LOST THINGS’: There was a time when Lindy Morris escaped to London and walked along the Thames in the moonlight. When life was full and exciting.

Decades later, Lindy lives back with her Auntie Bell on the edge: on the edge of Donegal and on the edge of Granda Morris’s land. Granda Morris is a complicated man, a farmer who wanted sons but got two daughters: Auntie Bell and Lindy’s mother, who disappeared long ago.

Now, Lindy and Bell live the smallest of lives, in a cottage filled with unfulfilled dreams. But when the secrets they have kept for thirty years emerge, everything is rewritten. Will Lindy grasp who she is again?

MY THOUGHTS: Raw and brutal, but with a beauty all its own.

These characters got inside my head. Lindy with her freaky-deaky smile – I just cracked up at her description of her antics in the supermarket – and a wicked sense of humour, one that I admired; and Bell, full of rage and resentment, are confined together in a cold and desolate house on the edge of a bog. Their detente is not at all cordial. They take what pleasure they can in rubbing one another up the wrong way. The one thing that they are united on is their fear of Granda. Quick with his fists and sharp with his tongue he never lets them forget.

Lindy is the ‘wrong child’ – in more ways than one. Granda punishes her for being alive, he punishes her for her dead mother’s sins, he punishes her because he can. Lindy uses her times of incarceration in ‘the Clinic’ to spread a little fear of her own.

But Lindy has a secret, one she has managed to keep from Bell and Granda, and the ‘wimmen’ who come to visit each week. Mrs. Martha Kennedy who is kind; Mrs. Kitty Barr, a ‘bitchy bitch’; and Mrs. Deirdre McCrossan who likes nothing better than to rake muck on people’s lives and spread it about. The sole light shining in Lindy’s miserable life is her friend Miriam, a happy, settled woman, with grandchildren who will occasionally distract Bell so that Lindy can get up to a little mischief.

She is resigned to her life until the Parish Priest, who enjoys a good chinwag with Lindy, makes a discovery . . . and nothing will ever be the same again.

The characterisation is superb, but if you’re looking for a joyous read, this isn’t it. It is beautiful, sad and bleak; tales of hopes dashed and crushed, but with perhaps a little redemption in the end.


#TheSaintofLostThings #NetGalley

I: #tishdelaney @randomhouseuk

T: @TishDelaney2 @HutchinsonBooks

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #familysaga #historicalfiction #irishfiction #mentalhealth #sliceoflife #smalltownfiction

THE AUTHOR: Tish Delaney was born and brought up in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles. Like a lot of people of her generation, she left the sectarian violence behind by moving to England. After graduating from Manchester University, she moved to London and worked on various magazines and broadsheets as a reporter, reviewer and sub-editor. She left the Financial Times in 2014 to live in the Channel Islands to pursue her career as a writer.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone, Hutchinson Heinemann via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Saint of Lost Things by Tish Delaney for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

The Cottage on Winter Moss by Allie Cresswell

I’m excited to be taking part in the blog tour for The Cottage on Winter Moss by Allie Cresswell today.

Burned-out author Dee needs fresh inspiration. Impetuously, she abandons London and her good-for-nothing boyfriend to go wherever her literary quest takes her. Journey’s end is a remote village on the shores of a wild estuary, overshadowed by a ruined pele tower. She rents Winter Cottage and waits for a story to emerge.

The bleak beauty of the whispering dunes, the jacquard of colour and texture of the marsh and a romantic tree in a secluded glade—The Trysting Tree—all seduce DeeNevertheless, the secretive behaviour of a handsome neighbour, lights across the marsh, a spurious squire and a bizarre, moonlit encounter all suggest there is something odd afoot.

Local gossip and crumbling graveyard inscriptions give Dee the opening she needs. She begins to weave hints about the tragic history of a local family, feuding brothers and a fatal fire into a sweeping historical saga. Her characters clamour for a voice as the tale spools effortlessly onto the page—demanding to be told. Dee feels more like its instrument than its instigator.

As she becomes enmeshed in the local community, Dee is startled to find her fiction unnervingly confirmed by fact, her history still resonating in the present-day.

Is she being guided by echoes of the past?

FROM THE AUTHOR: My new book is a dual timeline novel, a book within a book. This extract is from the inner book, ‘<i>The Trysting Tree, </i> a family saga stretching over a period of almost one hundred years. It features an unusual silver birch tree that grows on a remote and eerie marsh. The tree plays a significant role in the family annals and here, Todd Forrester waits beneath it to meet his childhood sweetheart, the squire’s wayward daughter, after seven years of separation.

The tree was in shadow, the sunset blocked out by the hill that rose up between the Moss and the coast. It’s silver branches had a strange luminescence of their own, though, and he had no difficulty navigating his way through the encircling screen of willow and elder to the still heart of the glade. The evening was windless – a rarity – and a deeper level of quietude shimmered amongst the saplings so Todd almost felt as though he was under a spell.

An early owl flew low over the marsh, calling to its mate, and in the east a silver moon rose in the pearly sky.

He felt her before he saw her – the slight flex of the bough beneath his thighs, the shiver of leaves above his head in spite of the calm of the night. He remained still for a few moments, as though he had felt nothing, as though he still waited. He could feel her impatience mounting, a pulsing vein through the fibre of the tree. He knew she was stifling laughter. If he honed his ears he could hear her breath, muffled by a hand clapped over her mouth. Leisurely, he removed a packet cigarettes from his pocket and took his time about lighting one, blowing the smoke up through the canopy of the tree, but keeping his eyes down. It would madden her, he knew, that her trick had backfired. Now she was the one who was kept waiting.

At last he said, ‘Are you going to come down?’

The tree above him shook, and her hoot of amused frustration erupted. ‘Oh!’ she cried out. ‘I thought you’d never cotton on.’

Then he looked up into the branches of the tree, squinting past their tracery, the glow of their bark in the moonlight making a miasma that dazzled his night vision. The tree trembled and she emerged from it, like a dryad, dropping lightly onto her feet on the bough beside him.

‘I knew you’d come,’ she said, lowering herself until she was sitting beside him.

He did not turn his head to look at her but inspected the tip of his cigarette with casual interest. ‘I knew <i>you</i> would,’ he returned levelly – much more levelly than he felt. His hands were sweating. A pulse throbbed in his throat, and he felt the old ache of his desire for her in the pit of his stomach. He was suddenly conscious of his flat vowels, the narrowness of his world. Her accent was like a shard glass in comparison and he could not even begin to imagine the life she led in London. He inhaled, and she smelled of roses and something astringent she could not name.

‘It’s been a long time,’ he said.

‘Seven years,’ she agreed. ‘A lot has happened.’

‘Not here,’ he said. ‘My mam died, that’s all.’

‘Oh,’ she said. Her hand traveled from where it had lain in her lap and took his. He winced, that she would feel its dampness; <i> her </i>hand was cool and dry. But he didn’t refuse her gesture. Still they did not look at each other. ‘I’m sorry.’

He didn’t reply because suddenly his throat was thick with grief and he knew that if he spoke his words would come out as a sob. He swallowed, choking down his sadness.

She said, ‘Have you got a spare cigarette?’

He had felt let go of her hand to fumble one out of the packet for her, and when he struck the match his hand shook. He could not help but turn to her then, to hold the flame to the end of her cigarette. They looked at each other through the flickering tongue of light, their faces inches from each other. Her eyes were dark wells made fathomless by an application of smoky make up and thickly blackened eyelashes. He realised her whole face was painted – powder, rouge and a gash of red lipstick. The match went out but he continued to look at her, seeing both the impossible image of the fashionable debutante that had burned itself into his retinas and also, in his mind’s eye, the softly delicious girl he had known before, his old playmate, the brave, impish, teasing vixen. He loved her. He had always loved her. The hectic exasperation he had felt about her as a child had been love, but he had been too young and stupid to recognise it.

Slowly, he raised a hand to her face and, with his thumb, smeared away the greasy coating from her mouth. Then he leaned towards her and kissed her.

The UK purchase link is:

The Australian link is


I have been writing stories since I could hold a pencil and by the time I was in Junior School I was writing copiously and sometimes almost legibly.

It was at this time that I had the difference between fiction and lies forcefully impressed upon me, after penning a long and entirely spurious account of my grandfather’s death and funeral…..

The teacher had permitted it as being good therapy for bereavement whereas in fact it was only a good excuse to get out of learning my multiplication tables (something I have never achieved).

Clearly I was forgiven. For for my next birthday I asked for a stack of writing paper and my parents obliged, it being more easily obtained and wrapped than a pony.

A BA in English and Drama at Birmingham University was followed by an MA in English at Queen Mary College but marriage and motherhood put my writing career on hold for some years until 1992 when I began work on Game Show.

In the meantime I worked as a production manager for an educational publishing company, an educational resources copywriter, a bookkeeper for a small printing firm, and was the landlady of a country pub in Yorkshire, a small guest house in Cheshire and the proprietor of a group of boutique holiday cottages in Cumbria.

I am currently teaching literature in the community alongside full time writing.

I have two grown-up children, Tom and Abby, and am married to Tim.

I live in Cheshire. 

The Family Inheritance by Tricia Stringer

EXCERPT: ‘Hello, Hazel.’

The gentle voice startled her. She spun and the room seemed to spin with her as if everything was suddenly slightly off kilter. She stuck out a hand and gripped the back of a chair. The woman before her had been the one she’d noticed talking to Father Donnelly earlier. Hazel hadn’t recognized her from the distance but now, here, right in front of her . . . those eyes . . .

‘Are you all right?’ The woman gripped her arm and edged her to the chair.

‘What are you doing here?’ Hazel’s words came out in a croak.

‘I’ve come to see you and . . .’ The woman stood back a little and glanced around. ‘Your family.’

Hazel looked around too but everyone was busy packing up and taking no notice. She got back to her feet, pushed away the hand that still rested on her arm. She had to end this before her daughters came back.

‘You keep away from my family. They’ve had enough for one day.’

The woman hesitated, looked at her pityingly. ‘He’s gone now, Hazel.’

‘I know that,’ Hazel hissed, her heart beating faster. ‘But they don’t know about you.’ She could hear footsteps coming closer across the wooden floor. She didn’t dare look around. It was bound to be one of her daughters.

‘We can start afresh.’

‘We cannot.’

‘Hello?’ It was Felicity who’d stepped up beside her mother.

‘Who are you?’ June asked.

‘My name is Alice Pollard.’ The woman smiled at each of them.

Hazel’s heart beat so fast and her head pounded so hard she thought herself in danger of having a stroke like the one that had killed her husband.

‘I’ve just farewelled my husband . . . this is not the time.’

‘For what, Mum?’ It was June’s sharp voice again. ‘What’s going on?’

Alice fixed her gaze on Hazel. ‘I’m Alice Pollard nee Jones . . . your mother’s sister.’

ABOUT ‘THE FAMILY INHERITANCE’: Felicity Lewis’s fiftieth birthday party in her newly renovated home, loving husband and daughter Greta by her side, is going off with a bang when disaster strikes. Her father, Franklyn, with his usual impeccable timing, has keeled over and died.

For some members of the family, his wife Hazel for example, Franklyn’s death is not the great loss it first appears to be. But when his toxic and inexplicable will is read out, it becomes clear that long-buried secrets are about to surface, starting with the astonishing reappearance of Hazel’s long-lost sister.

Indeed, Franklyn’s death sets in motion a chain of events that will cause three generations of Gifford family women to question everything they hold dear – their relationships, their loyalties, even their identities. Until, that is, they choose to fight back against their dark inheritance …

MY THOUGHTS: An absolutely delicious family saga full of decades old secrets and the lies that are perpetuated to keep those secrets.

I loved this story of four women whose lives are turned upside down when the family patriarch dies and his will is read. Believe me, you will love to hate Franklyn Gifford, a miserable old git who has found a way to maintain control over his family even after his death.

His widow Hazel is secretly relieved by his death, believing herself to be free for the first time since she married him. But Franklyn has other plans for her, his will leaving Hazel almost destitute, and her family ripped apart.

The story is told from the points of view of four women: Hazel, the widow; her estranged sister Alice; Hazel’s younger daughter, Felicity; and Felicity’s daughter, Greta, all of whom are facing a watershed moment in their lives.

The characters are totally relatable with a good mix of traits. There are characters that you will root for, characters that you will worry about, and one or two that are eminently dislikeable. Stringer makes good use of the weapon of inherited money, the rifts it causes, and the greed that becomes evident at times like these.

I would have liked for the furore that I imagine would have occurred when Hazel contests the will to have been included as I can’t see June and her husband meekly accepting Hazel’s decision, but the whole situation is skipped, which is my only, and minor, criticism.

The Family Inheritance is a well written, moving family saga with a tightly woven plot that kept me absorbed from start to finish.



I: @triciastringerauthor @hqstories

T: @tricia_stringer @HQstories

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #sliceoflife #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: Tricia lives in the beautiful Copper Coast region of South Australia, often exploring Australia’s diverse communities and landscapes, and shares this passion for the country and its people through her authentic stories and their vivid characters.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed a copy of The Family Inheritance by Tricia Stringer published by HQ Fiction from the Waitomo District Library. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Well here we are, the first Sunday of 2022. I am still very much in holiday mode and not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, although it is only for the one day and then I have the remainder of the week off. I’m not sure that I can drag myself out of bed in time!

Currently I am reading The Woman Who Came Back to Life by Beth Miller. What characters!

And The Family Inheritance by Tricia Stringer, a library book. This is my first book by this Australian author and I am loving it.

I am also listening to an audiobook from the library, Murder is Easy (Superintendent Battle #4) by Agatha Christie. I haven’t previously read any of this series, but am enjoying this immensely. I have a firm suspect in mind for the murderer, but am I right?

This week I am planning to read The House Fire by Rosie Walker

Play with fire and you’ll get burned . . .

Who can you trust in this brand new edge-of-your-seat thriller.

A tired old seaside town hiding a series of unsolved arson attacks.

A derelict mansion in the woods with a long-buried secret.

A bundle of old love letters that mask a dark story.

When Jamie’s documentary investigation gets too close to uncovering the truth behind a series of deadly arson attacks that tormented Abbeywick in the 1980s, her family might be the ones who pay the price.

But for her younger sister Cleo, the secrets Jamie uncovers have the potential to get exactly what Cleo wants: to remove her mum’s toxic new husband from their lives, forever.

All it takes is one spark to send everything up in smoke . . .

And The Betrayal by Terry Lynn Thomas

Attorney Olivia Sinclair is shocked when she receives an anonymous video showing her husband Richard sleeping with someone else. After years of handling other people’s divorces, she thought she could recognise a marriage in trouble.

She angrily throws Richard out of the home they share. But days later she’s arrested—for the murder of his mistress.

Olivia knows she’s innocent but, with all the evidence pointing at her and an obvious motive, she must find the real killer to clear her name.

She may be used to dealing with messy divorces, but this one will be her most difficult case yet. Olivia’s husband has already betrayed her—but would he set her up for murder?

I received three new ARCs in the past week: The Bluebonnet Battle by Carolyn Brown

Shadow in the Glass by M.E. Hilliard

And, better late than never, The Bells of Christmas II: Eight stories of Christmas hope

What are you reading this New Year?

Happy reading my friends. It’s too hot to be out in the garden so I am going to stretch out on the daybed out on my deck where there is a little breeze and read some more. Enjoy your New Year reads my friends.