Upside Down Inside Out by Monica McInerney

Even though this book is twenty years old, it is as fresh and enjoyable today as when it was published.

EXCERPT: Eva could hardly find her breath. How dare he? How dare he talk to her like that? Hands trembling, heart thumping, she summoned every scrap of pride, stood and picked up her bag. There was nothing else to say. Feeling like a robot, she climbed the steps to the front door, opened it and started walking as quickly as she could.

Then, just a few steps along the footpath, she realised she did have something else to say. So she turned around and came back.

The other customers shifted expectantly in their seats. ‘Excellent,’ one of them said to her friend. ‘Round two.’ They settled back to listen.

Eva walked up to Dermot’s table and stood right in front of him. She could feel her cheeks burning in anger and embarrassment. This time he had the grace to look uncomfortable.

‘One last thing, Dermot. You can forget about the shop. My uncle isn’t selling it.’ Because he wants to give it to me, she was about to add.

But Dermot interrupted her. ‘Oh, well,’ he shrugged. ‘There’ll be others.’

Somehow, that hurt more than anything he’d said before. Standing looking at him, she thought of his deceit, his imagey ways, his American slang. All the things that had annoyed her rushed at her memory.

At that moment his mobile phone started to ring, playing a very loud tune. The sound reminded her of one of his particularly annoying habits. Moving quickly, she picked up the ringing phone, silver-plating and all, and upended it into his pint glass. The dark liquid gurgled and slopped around it.

‘No, Dermot, don’t tell me. Let me guess the brand by the sound it makes.’ She waited a beat as they both watched the phone glug to the bottom of the glass. ‘Ah, yes. Now I have it,’ she said clearly. ‘It’s a Guinness.’

With that, she walked out again. And this time she didn’t come back.

ABOUT ‘UPSIDE DOWN INSIDE OUT’: Eva is off to Australia, hoping to forget a fizzled romance and find inspiration for a new career. Joseph is taking a vacation from his stressful London job. Each is on a search for some answers about life. Then something unexpected happens: They meet each other.

MY THOUGHTS: I absolutely adored this light-hearted romantic comedy from Monica McInerney. I laughed a lot and cried a little at the comedy of errors that conspired to keep Joe and Eva apart. The characters are wonderful and very realistic, including the two cads Greg and Dermot. As well as love, romance, and friendship, Upside Down Inside Out deals with a particularly poignant family relationship. There’s also a wonderful black kitten called Tyrannosaurus Rex who causes his own brand of havoc.

Recommended to be read with a platter of antipesto and a good Australian Shiraz.

I: @monicamcinerneyauthor @penguinbooks

T: @PenguinBooks

THE AUTHOR: Monica grew up in a family of seven children in the Clare Valley wine region of South Australia, where her father was the railway stationmaster and her mother worked in the local library. Before becoming a full-time writer she worked in children’s television, tourism festivals, book publishing, arts marketing, the music industry and as a waitress, a hotel cleaner, a Kindergym instructor and a temp. For nearly thirty years she and her Irish husband have been moving back and forth between Australia and Ireland.

Happy Publication Day – The Glass House by Brooke Dunnell

EXCERPT: Putting her items on the belt, Julia realised she’d never considered the possibility of running into old ghosts. Really, it was inevitable. This was where she’d spent the first twenty years of her life, and though she’d moved farther and farther away over the years – to a flat near the train line, then a share house on the coast, and then to the Eastern States – there were plenty who hadn’t. When Goldie was still alive, there were always stories of who she’d seen at the shop or the park, what the gossip was at the community hall and the library and the playing fields. It was like an invisible fence penned in most of the kids Julia and Paul had grown up with, restricting them to the immediate area or a few suburbs away, at most. Even if they had managed to escape, their parents were still in the family home, just like Don, acting surprised when their adult kids had to move back in because they couldn’t afford real estate.

On her trips to Perth with Rowan and Evie, she’d never bumped into people she knew, but then they’d only really used Don’s house as a base. As soon as they woke in the mornings, they were in the Commodore, driving to the city or the beach, wandering around Fremantle or Subiaco or Hillary’s, day trips to the hills or the Swan Valley. Acting like tourists, and tourists never knew anyone.

Driving home, Julia sat erect, hands at ten and two like a police car was breathing down her neck. Her eyes roamed the footpaths for other blasts from the past. In the taxi from the airport, she’d been preoccupied by all the things that seemed to have changed; what she should have been aware of was everything that hadn’t.

ABOUT ‘THE GLASS HOUSE’: Julia Lambett heads across the country to her hometown where she’s been given the job of moving her recalcitrant father out of his home and into care. But when Julia arrives at the 1970s suburban palace of her childhood, she finds her father has adopted a mysterious dog and refuses to leave.

Frustrated and alone, when a childhood friend crosses her path, Julia turns to Davina for comfort and support. But quite soon Julia begins to doubt Davina’s motivations. Why is Davina taking a determined interest in all the things that Julia hoped she had left behind? Soon Julia starts having troubling dreams, and with four decades of possessions to be managed and dispersed, she uncovers long-forgotten, deeply unsettling memories.

MY THOUGHTS: The Glass House is a quietly absorbing story, one that takes us on a journey with Julia as she is cleaning out her 92 year old father’s house in preparation for him entering a retirement home.

Despite Don being a bit of an old curmudgeon at times, I quite liked him. He is kind and loyal, and on the odd night that Julia goes out to meet friends, he still waits up for her. He knows he can’t continue to live on his own, and has agreed to downsize to assisted living, but he’ll do it on his terms and in his own timeframe.

Julia sees dealing with her father’s problems as a welcome break from her own – a struggling marriage to Rowan and her seeming inability to have a child.

Old friends make an unexpected reappearance in her life and trigger some repressed memories that she struggles to make sense of.

I love that the author doesn’t tie everything up in a nice neat bow at the end. The ending is perfect, just as it is.

This is a quietly meandering book about life, friendship, and the changing nature of relationships throughout a lifespan. I enjoyed it greatly and will certainly be lining up to read more from this author.

The Glass House by Brooke Dunnell is due for publication 1st November 2022



I: @brooky.brooks @fremantlepress

T: #BrookeDunnell @ FremantlePress

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #familydrama #sliceoflife #womensfiction

THE AUTHOR: Brooke Dunnell lives in Perth, where she is completing a PhD in creative writing at the University of Western Australia. Her short stories have appeared in Voiceworks, the University of Canberra Monitor and on the Harper’s Bazaar website. Her story ‘Buddhas’ featured in the collection Allnighter and was read on ABC Radio National.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Fremantle Press for providing a copy of The Glass House by Brooke Dunnell 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 will also be published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Sunday afternoon; the fire is lit, the day wet and gloomy. We are stretched out in our chairs watching the supercar racing from Townsville, Queensland, where the skies are gloriously blue and everyone is wandering about in t-shirts and sunglasses.

This morning I started Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please, and I can’t put it down. I have abandoned my other reads in favour of this.

I am also reading We All Have Our Secrets by Jane Corry

And listening to Death of a Green-Eyed Monster (Hamish Macbeth #34) by M.C. Beaton and R.W. Green

In the coming week I have three books to read for review, two of which I have already started. They are:

We All Have Our Secrets by Jane Corry

Emily made a mistake, a mistake midwifes can’t afford to make. Escaping to her dad’s home in Devon to regroup and check in on him – his dementia has been worsening, and her guilt along with it – she is surprised when a beautiful stranger answers the door. Francoise is her dad’s new carer, but Emily’s father seems to have deteriorated under her care.

Emily doesn’t trust Francoise – but she doesn’t trust herself either. Each has a secret. And one of them will kill to keep it.

Rejected Goddesses by Natalie Watson and Nina Holmes

“Every woman is a rejected goddess at some point in her life … but it’s okay to be rejected as long as you feel like a Goddess.”— Robyn Ryan and Cat Romano.

I’m Robyn Ryan.
I’m thirtyish and I’m a third-generation caffeinated Irish. I’m a journalist turned baker on the verge of bankruptcy. I’m a mommy to a dog with a huge attitude.
My personal life sucks.

I’m Catarina Romano, shortly Cat.
I’m thirtyish and I’m a third-generation fiery-tempered Italian with a nuclear explosive and overprotective family.
I’m a notorious male-basher. No wonder I’m single.
I’m also an author of the worstseller “Italian Connections.”

We are two best friends in a temporary rut of our lives in Mystic Oak, MA.

Can our ginormous dreams come true in the smallest town on earth? 

And Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please

Divorced and on a deadline, bestselling novelist Bea Pinkerton has a serious case of writer’s block. With her agent breathing down her neck, Bea will do ANYTHING to avoid writing another word.

So an invite to a reunion with her old school friends at a beautiful chateau in France, is Bea’s perfect chance to escape. Surely here, relaxing with old friends and drinking cold fizz, Bea will find inspiration?
But as soon as Bea arrives, she realises this is not going to be the peaceful getaway she anticipated. Her old school friends Gin and Audrie are in various states of marital distress and to top it off a camera crew has arrived to film the goings on at Chateau De St Cyr. Far from being calm, the trip is total chaos!

Thank goodness for Bea’s new French neighbour Laurent Sinclair – handsome, charming and perhaps exactly the romantic muse she needs to get her mojo back. But is Bea brave enough to take a second chance at love at her age? Perhaps with a little help from her friends… 

Only two new ARCs this week. They are:

The Missing by Lisa Childs

and The Sandcastle Hurricane by Carolyn Brown

I am picking Luke up on Tuesday and bringing him home to stay for a few days. It’s the first week of the school holidays and the forecast for the whole week is rain, rain and more rain! If it does clear up we will visit the Kiwi House. I’m planning on taking him to the library Wednesday where we will borrow as many books and jigsaws as we can.

We are currently having a Covid resurgence here in New Zealand so I have stocked up on a few treats for him as I really don’t want to be taking him out shopping.

Happy reading my friends ❤📚

The Wednesday Morning Wild Swim by Jules Wake

EXCERPT: Thirty and still waiting for her life proper to start. She lived in a crappy house with four other people she barely knew; had to write her name on her milk, which still didn’t deter the midnight milk thief; couldn’t so much as chill a bottle of wine in the fridge for more than half an hour because that baby would be long gone, and don’t even get her started on the daily battle against the mould in the bathroom which had stained the grouting beyond saving.

As for her job – the latest in a very long line – it turned out that working in a vintage clothes shop wasn’t quite as glamorous as she’d been led to believe. In truth, it was more like working in a charity shop, frequented by young people without the charity element, although she did meet some interesting people and there were perks. Last month, she’d snaffled a pair of vintage Louboutin shoes from an auction lot of accessories, having spotted the scuffed red leather soles. And before anyone should go thinking that was thieving, she’d told Sally, the owner of the shop, that she’d got her eye on a pair of shoes and she’d paid the suggested twenty quid because Sally wasn’t fussed about looking at them. It wasn’t as if she ever got paid overtime for all the times she stayed late at the shop, or had even seen as much as reimbursement for the Mac Red Rock lipstick that Sally insisted was essential for the job. Being blonde, blue-eyed and with a magnolia complexion, it really wasn’t her colour. Ettie felt you needed a brunette bob, nice thick lips and a mysterious smile to pull that look off, and possibly a trench coat that belted in the middle. She had thinnish lips that were quick and ready to smile and there was absolutely nothing mysterious about her. What you saw was what you got. Plenty of enthusiasm and not much staying power.

ABOUT ‘THE WEDNESDAY MORNING WILD SWIM’: Ettie is trying to figure out her future.

Dominic’s just trying to forget his past.

But with the help of some unlikely friends, young and old, a secret lake hidden in the grounds of a beautiful estate and a scruffy dog, a new community is formed – right when they all need each other the most.

MY THOUGHTS: An absolute gem!

This is a fun read about friendship and kindness with a generous dollop of romance and a dressing of humour.

It’s impossible not to love Ettie. She may always be late for work, but her sunny nature, enthusiasm and warmth more than makes up for it. She loves people and loves helping them, even if doing so causes chaos in her own life.

Other characters include Ettie’s granddad, a man with a heart of gold and a wonderful allotment; Gracie, a widow and Dominic’s business partner in the hotel venture; and Dominic, who has been badly hurt in the past and has trust issues.

The Wednesday Morning Wild Swim is a delightful and enchanting romantic-comedy with so much more to it. Beautifully written, it flows along, pulling the reader into the storyline and providing more than a few belly-laughs.

Ettie, with her heart of gold, is torn between trying to be loyal to her boss, helping her granddad instil a sense of worth into a teenage amputee, and some confidence into Gracie, who seems to have given up on life since the death of her husband.

There’s also an assortment of other interesting characters, some of whom were in the first book of this series. Although The Wednesday Morning Wild Swim is the second in the Yorkshire Escape series, it is easily read as a stand-alone. This is one of those lovely series that focuses on a location and each book focuses on a different set of characters.

Laura Brydon’s narration of this audiobook was absolutely superb.


#TheWednesdayMorningWildSwim #NetGalley

I: @juleswakeauthor @harpercollinsuk

T: @Juleswake @HarperCollinsUK

#audiobook #contemporaryfiction #chic-lit #romance

THE AUTHOR: consider myself an honorary Yorkshire woman living in the Chilterns, who still misses proper hills.
I always had an over active imagination which was fuelled by a passion for reading from a young age. A trip to the Bronte’s parsonage at Haworth with my grandmother cemented my desire to be a writer one day.

After reading English at the University of East Anglia, working life began in the glamorous, but deeply shallow world of PR (and I enjoyed every minute of it) , where my fiction writing skills were honed on press releases and copy-writing projects.

One day didn’t happen until I happened to take a break between jobs which also coincided with a local 6 week writing course. This brilliant course started me writing in earnest.. It was now a case of not being able to not write. When the course finished, I set up the Tring Writers Circle. As a writer, its good to network with other like minds who also have people talking in the head, or are dreaming up the latest plot.

I felt obliged to set a good example, which also proved to be a genuine displacement activity for other tasks which I didn’t enjoy so much, such as cooking and ironing. Fortunately my husband is good at the former and an occasional participant in the latter.

In January 2019, with both my children at university, I took the bold decision to give up my job as a school business manager and commit to full-time writing.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of The Wednesday Morning Wild Swim written by Jules Wake and narrated by Laura Brydon 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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

It seems like an awfully long time since I last did this post,but in reality it was three Sundays ago. I had a wonderful time with Kyle while he was home. Some days we just sat around and talked, some we visited old haunts like Mokau Beach where we used to go every Christmas holidays when he was small, and other days he went and visited his friends. He’s planning on coming home again somewhere around Christmas. And we are planning to go visit him next winter. Luke was very excited to meet his Uncle Kyle again and they spent hours building Lego together. We’ve had Luke stay two nights this week as his school had a teacher only day Friday. We took him home Saturday morning and watched him play soccer before we came back home. He really enjoyed the ducks and ducklings that seem to have moved into the neighbourhood and drew pictures of them which are now on the fridge doors. As is usual when Luke stays, we read and reread many of his books, and I did very little reading for myself.

Currently I have reading The Beach Babes by Judith Keim, A Seashell Cottage Book.

Although I am enjoying the storyline, I’m finding the dialogue stilted and formal. It’s a quick, enjoyable read though.

I have just started a backlist title from February, The Wedding Murders by Sarah Linley. So far, so good.

And I am listening to The Secret Life of Albert Entwhistle by Matt Cain. Again I have only just started this, but so far, so good.

This week I have five books to read for review. They are:

Blind Justice by David Mark, #10 in the DS McAvoy series

The call comes in before DS Aector McAvoy has had time for breakfast. The news is bad: A body. Found in the woods out at Brantingham.

The reality is even worse.

The young man’s mutilated corpse lies tangled in the roots of a newly fallen tree, two silver Roman coins nailed through his sightless eyes. Who would torture their victim in such a brutal manner – and why?

DS McAvoy makes the victim a promise: I will find answers. You will know justice. But justice always comes at a cost, and this time it may be McAvoy’s own family who pay the price.

Backstory by William L. Myers Jr. I haven’t previously read this author.

In the aftermath of his wife’s apparent suicide, Jackson Robert Hunter wakes up outside a bar with a badly battered head and no memory. Revelations convince Jackson that his wife’s death wasn’t a suicide, but a murder, and he sets out to find the killer.

While hunting the villain and struggling with his amnesia, Jackson discovers that his own backstory is a dark one, littered with broken hearts and dead bodies: a wife he betrayed; a lover he abandoned; a squad of crooked cops he double-crossed; and a city that lives in fear of his name.

Jackson’s odyssey takes him from a small town in Kansas to Philadelphia, then back cross-country to Las Vegas. Along the way he encounters a sister he didn’t know he had, a niece he failed to save, and a mentor ready to lead Jackson down the darkest of paths.

Finally, at the end of his journey, Jackson discovers that it’s not another man he’s been running to, or from, but his own damning deeds, and the paradoxical redemption they might bring.

Her Dying Day by Mindy Carlson. This appears to be a debut novel.

Aspiring filmmaker June Masterson has high hopes for her first documentary, the true story of the disappearance of famed mystery author Greer Larkin. June learned about the vanishing at age fourteen, locked down on her family’s isolated commune. Now, the deeper she digs into the project, the darker the story gets.

Everyone has a theory. Greer’s mother, Blanche, and her best friend, Rachel, believe that Greer’s fiancé, Jonathan, is the culprit. Greer’s agent is convinced that Greer committed suicide after a debilitating bout of writer’s block. And Jonathan claims it was either Greer’s controlling mother or Rachel, whose attachment to Greer went way beyond friendship.

In desperation, Rachel gives June a suitcase full of Greer’s most personal writings in hopes of finding proof against Jonathan. Then Rachel turns up dead. As June pores over Greer’s writings, she makes a devastating discovery that could finally reveal the truth about the author’s fate. But now, June finds herself in the sights of a killer who’ll stop at nothing to keep their darkest secret. 

Local Gone Missing by Fiona Barton, whose writing I love.

Elise King is a successful and ambitious detective–or she was before a medical leave left her unsure if she’d ever return to work. She now spends most days watching the growing tensions in her small seaside town of Ebbing–the weekenders renovating old bungalows into luxury homes, and the locals resentful of the changes.

Elise can only guess what really happens behind closed doors. But Dee Eastwood, her house cleaner, often knows. She’s an invisible presence in many of the houses in town, but she sees and hears everything.

The conflicts boil over when a newcomer wants to put the town on the map with a giant music festival, and two teenagers overdose on drugs. When a man disappears the first night of the festival, Elise is drawn back into her detective work and starts digging for answers. Ebbing is a small town, but it’s full of secrets and hidden connections that run deeper and darker than Elise could have ever imagined. 

And The Gin Sisters Promise by Faith Hogan, an Irish author I have read and enjoyed previously.

When Georgie, Iris and Nola’s mother died and their father disappeared into his grief, the sisters made a pact: they would always be there for one another, no matter what.

Now, decades later, they haven’t spoken for years and can barely stand to be in the same room. As his health declines, their father comes up with a plan to bring them back to one another. In his will, he states that before they can claim their inheritance, they must spend six months living together in their childhood home in the village of Ballycove, Ireland, and try to repair their broken relationships.

As the months progress, old resentments boil over, new secrets threaten to come out and each sister must decide what matters more: their pride, or their family. Can they overcome their past and find a way to love each other once more?

And now to new ARCs I’ve received since I last posted. I’m guessing that there’s going to be quite a few!

The Dark Room by Lisa Gray

The Beach Babes by Judith Keim, which I am currently reading.

Guilt Trip by Ed James, DS Vickie Dodds #5

Me and Paul: Untold Stories of a Fabled Friendship by Willie Nelson with David Ritz

After She’d Gone by Alex Dahl

The Last House on the Cliff by Anne Wyn Clark

Old Friends Reunited by Maddie Please, a new author to me.

The Girl Who Survived by Lisa Jackson

The Will by Rebecca Reid, another new author to me.

Everything in Between by Valerie G. Miller, a collection of short stories on love, loss and family by another new to me author.

The Girl Who Left by Jenny Blackhurst, yet another new author to me.

And one audiobook – The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder, narrated by Dan Bittner and Khristine Hvam

So twelve books over three weeks, I haven’t gone overboard averaging four books a week. I did try to drop in occasionally to see what everyone was doing.

Have a great week of reading. ❤📚

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Good afternoon all. Currently I am reading The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan. This is very different to her Cormac Reilly series, but is definitely gripping.

I am also reading Beneath Cruel Waters by Jon Bassoff.

and am almost finished listening to The Bletchley Women by Patricia Adrian. Although it’s not what I was expecting, I am enjoying it.

I’ve had a good reading week and will finish all four books I had scheduled either tonight or early tomorrow, although I am again a bit behind with writing reviews.

This week I am reading The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

In every person’s story, there is something to hide…

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Six Graves by Angela Marsons

It’s a typical teenage bedroom with posters covering the walls and clothes littering the floor. But the girl lying on her bed, wearing a delicate chain around her neck, is lifeless. A circle of red stains her white vest top and Kim feels a sharp stab of sadness. How had the girl’s mother looked down at her sleeping child and pulled the trigger?

When Detective Kim Stone rushes to the scene of a house fire, she’s shocked to discover it’s claimed the lives of two teenage children and their parents. But this tragedy is not quite as it seems. Each body is marked by a gunshot wound and the mother, Helen Daynes, is holding the gun.

The case sparks painful childhood memories for Kim who suffered at the hands of her own abusive mother. As she begins to untangle the dark web of secrets within the Daynes family, Kim and her team discover Helen had a history of clinical depression. But could it have driven her to murder her loved ones?

Then Kim uncovers a tiny, vital clue in Helen’s bedroom that throws the investigation wide open. Could someone else have killed the Daynes family?

With the case only just underway, a deadly threat is made to Kim’s own life. Years ago, she rescued two little girls from the clutches of a dangerous psychopath who has just escaped prison and is coming for her.

A witness protection officer glued to her side, Kim must bite back her fear, as she keeps digging into the Daynes’s background and soon hits upon a shocking secret from Helen’s past that could crack the case. With the remaining family members in danger, Kim is under pressure like never before.

The monster circling Kim raises the stakes when he threatens the life of another innocent victim. He’s leading Kim straight to him. Forced to go against direct instructions from her superiors, will that one fateful decision cost her more than her job?

Blood Sugar by Sacha Rothchild

“I could just kill you right now!” It’s something we’ve all thought at one time or another. But Ruby has actually acted on it. Three times, to be exact.

Though she may be a murderer, Ruby is not a sociopath. She is an animal-loving therapist with a thriving practice. She’s felt empathy and sympathy. She’s had long-lasting friendships and relationships, and has a husband, Jason, whom she adores. But the homicide detectives at Miami Beach PD are not convinced of her happy marriage. When we meet Ruby, she is in a police interrogation room, being accused of Jason’s murder. Which, ironically, is one murder that she did not commit, though her vicious mother-in-law and a scandal-obsessed public believe differently. As she undergoes questioning, Ruby’s mind races back to all the details of her life that led her to this exact moment, and to the three dead bodies in her wake. Because though she may not have killed her husband, Ruby certainly isn’t innocent.

And The Last to Disappear by Jo Spain

A small town. A frozen lake. Three missing women. One body.

When young London professional Alex Evans is informed that his sister’s body has been pulled from an icy lake in Northern Lapland, he assumes his irresponsible sister accidentally drowned. He travels to the wealthy winter resort where Vicky worked as a tour-guide and meets Agatha Koskinen, the detective in charge. Agatha is a no-nonsense single mother of three who already thinks there’s more to Vicky’s case than meets the eye.

As the two form an unlikely alliance, Alex also begins to suspect the small town where his sister lived and died is harbouring secrets. It’s not long before he learns that three other women have gone missing from the area in the past and that his sister may have left him a message.

On the surface, Koppe, Lapland is a winter wonderland. But in this remote, frozen place, death seems only ever a heartbeat away. 

I will be listening to After Happily Ever After by Leslie A. Rasmussen

Maggie Dolan finds herself at forty-five at a crossroads in her life. Once a high-level executive, she’s chosen to be a stay-at-home mom for the last seventeen years. But now with her daughter, Gia, soon leaving for college, and her husband, disconnected and with secrets he hasn’t shared, Maggie decides it’s time to figure out what she wants for the rest of her life. As she begins her journey, she has to deal with a narcissistic mother, a brother who doesn’t like her and most damaging of all, the news that her father, her rock, has medical issues that may take him from her. Overwhelmed by all these issues, she’s led in a direction that could destroy what she’s built and make her question the choices she’s made. She’s torn between the life she’s always known and something more exciting that she never expected.

Five new ARCs this week: An Island Summer by Jenny Hale

The Seamstress of New Orleans by Diane C. McPhail

When We Had Wings by Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris, and Susan Meissner

The Guilty Couple by C.L. Taylor

and The Saint of Lost Things by Tish Delaney

The fire is blazing and a roast of lamb is cooking in the oven. We are forecast rain tomorrow. Will it arrive? The clouds look promising, but we’ve been here before . . . To all my friends in Queensland please stay safe. It looks like you have another week of heavy rain on the way. Keep calm and read on.


A Village Secret by Julie Houston

EXCERPT: Prologue – November 2020
‘Jen? I’m so desperately sorry you’ve had to sit through all this. All this utter rubbish that’s come out, in there, this afternoon.’ Laurie Lewis, my husband of sixteen years, ran down the steps and through the milling crowd towards me, pulling me towards him, desperate to protect me from the melee that was insistent on reaching out greedy, intrusive arms and hands in my direction.

‘You know, don’t you Jen?’ Laurie was vehement, pulling my face up towards his own, those incredible navy eyes of his blazing into mine, despite the crowd moving in on us. ‘I love you? Will always love you? That all this . . .’ he gestured an arm to the seething throng determined to reach its goal, ‘. . . means nothing. It’s you and me who mean everything . . .’ He broke off, arms still around me as the media reached us.

‘What do you think of the verdict, Jennifer?’

‘Did you know about all of this, Jen? What do you think about it all?’

ABOUT ‘A VILLAGE SECRET’: When Jennifer goes up to Cambridge University with her head full of the Romantic Poets, she never dreams that she will find her very own Byron. But then she meets gorgeous actor Laurie Lewis, and finds herself living a real-life love poem.

Fifteen years and two children later, Jennifer and Laurie’s relationship is starting to feel more like an epic tragedy. After a series of revelations turn her world upside down, Jennifer will do anything to keep her family together – even if it means moving hundreds of miles away to Laurie’s childhood home in Westenbury, Yorkshire.

As she reluctantly enters into village life – complete with interfering in-laws, new friends and a surprise delivery of alpacas – Jennifer is amazed to find herself feeling happy for the first time in years. But the village holds one last, devastating secret and Jennifer must decide once and for all what she wants her future to hold.

MY THOUGHTS: There were parts of this book I loved (a lot of them) but also a couple of parts that made me cringe.

Shall we get the ‘cringe’ factors out of the way first? Firstly the example Jen is setting to her children. She enables Laurie’s cheating ways although both George and Ada are mortified by their father’s behaviour. She’s in love with the idea of the man she fell in love with – George Byron. Apparently Laurie is a dead ringer for the poet. The second cringe factor is that Jen again falls instantly in love with another man, almost swooning over him like scenes from the bodice rippers she has taken to writing. But, to her credit, she does decide to live independently and focus on her children, keeping Tod as a non-residential love interest.

I didn’t really become engrossed in the storyline until the family moved to Westenbury, Yorkshire, into Laurie’s family home on the farm. That’s a bit of a culture shock for the family who are used to a sumptuous London home.

With the exception of Laurie (pillock) Lewis, who is a detestable self-serving womaniser whose only regret is that he got caught, I enjoyed the characters. Jennifer I never really warmed to – a woman who didn’t leave her husband until she had another firmly in her sights. I loved her mother Cynthia who muttered ‘pillock’ every time Laurie was in her sight or was mentioned. Janice, Laurie’s sister, is an absolute scream. She’s straight talking, honest and practical. Laurie’s mother Rita is another gem, but one with a guilty secret, or two.

Overall I enjoyed A Village Secret which had me laughing in places. A good addition to Julie Houston’s Village series.


#AVillageSecret #NetGalley

I: @juliehoustonauthor @ariafiction

T: @JulieHouston2 @Aria_Fiction

#contemporaryfiction #familydrama #romcom #sliceoflife

THE AUTHOR: Julie lives in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire where her novels are set, and her only claims to fame are that she teaches part-time at ‘Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding’s old junior school and her neighbour is ‘Chocolat’ author, Joanne Harris. After University, where she studied Education and English Literature, she taught for many years as a junior school teacher. As a newly qualified teacher, broke and paying off her first mortgage, she would spend every long summer holiday working on different Kibbutzim in Israel. After teaching for a few years she decided to go to New Zealand to work and taught in Auckland for a year before coming back to this country. She now teaches just two days a week, and still loves the buzz of teaching junior-aged children. She has been a magistrate for the past nineteen years, and, when not distracted by Ebay, Twitter and Ancestry, spends much of her time writing. Julie is married, has a twenty-four-year-old son and twenty-one-year-old daughter and a ridiculous Cockerpoo called Lincoln. She runs and swims because she’s been told it’s good for her, but would really prefer a glass of wine, a sun lounger and a jolly good book – preferably with Matthew Mcconaughay in attendance.

She hates skiing, gets sick on boats and wouldn’t go pot-holing or paddy diving if her life depended on it.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Head of Zeus, Aria, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of A Village Secret by Julie Houston 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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Easter to you all.

Currently I am reading The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith. I adore Isabel Dalhousie and had a sudden urge to visit with her despite not having finished all my reads for review for the week.

I am almost finished listening to Treasure and Dirt by Chris Hammer which is set in a mining community in the west of New South Wales, Australia.

This week I have four titles to read for review. They are A Rose Petal Summer by Katie Fforde


Caro Swanson has taken a job in a remote part of Scotland.

She’s answered an ad in The Lady: being a companion to an elderly gentleman who lives in a country estate could be perfect! Surely it’s time to make a change and do something different for a while?

The fact that she may also see Alec, the young man who she met some years previously and who she has always thought of as her ‘one who got away’, is of course purely incidental.

Soon Caro is falling in love – not only with Alec but with the stunning country house she’s now living in. But the estate is in financial difficulties, and Caro soon realises there’s only one way to rescue it.

So begins a magical romantic summer, one that will take Caro from Scotland to London and the south of France, in search of a classic lost perfume that might just restore all their fortunes.

The Beach House by Beverley Jones

When Grace Jensen returns to her home in the ocean-front town of Lookout Beach one day, she finds a body in a pool of blood and a menacing gift left for her: a knife, a coil of rope and handcuffs.

The community of Lookout Beach are shocked by such a brutal intrusion in their safe, close-knit community – particularly to a family as successful and well-liked as the Jensens – and a police investigation begins to find the trespasser.

But Grace knows who’s after her. She might have changed her name and moved across the world, deciding to hide on the Oregon coast, but she’s been waiting seventeen years for what happened in the small Welsh town where she grew up to catch-up with her.

Grace might seem like the model neighbour and mother, but nobody in Lookout Beach – not even her devoted husband Elias – knows the real her. Or how much blood is on her hands.

The Widow’s Husband by Lesley Sanderson

For seven years I believed my husband was dead – until the note arrived this morning…

The day her husband Tom disappeared, Rachel’s life fell apart. Childhood sweethearts with two young children, they’d done everything together. And then, suddenly, Tom was gone. Without a word, without a note, without a single sign of where he might be, leaving Rachel to survive alone.

Now, nearly seven years later, Rachel has come to terms with life as a single mother, caring for their children who still secretly long for their father’s miraculous return.

But in his absence, Tom’s hidden life started to emerge, and Rachel has discovered things a wife should never have to. A secret life that betrayed everything Rachel thought she knew. Not knowing where he’d gone was no longer the main worry keeping her awake at night – it seemed much more likely he’d been silenced. Forever.

Until today, when – with just one month until Tom is to be declared legally dead – Rachel receives a note in handwriting she recognises with dread:

My darling, I’ve missed you so much. Give me a chance to explain. I’m coming home.

The husband she’d lost is alive.

And so are all his secrets… 

And Other People’s Lives by J.E. Rowney

“Let me ask you. Are you worried that someone is watching you, or are you worried that you think someone is watching you?”

Sophie Portman has lost her husband, and she thinks she may be losing her mind.

She seeks the help of psychiatrist Andrew Thacker, but as she starts to open up, the truth begins to unravel and nothing is quite as it seems.

I have received eleven new reads for review this week 😱🤯

Six Graves (DI Kim Stone #16) by Angela Marsons

Beneath Cruel Waters by John Bassoff

Auld Acquaintance by Sofia Slater

The Last to Disappear by Jo Spain

A Familiar Stranger by A.R. Torre

The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone

Murder Through the English Post by Jessica Ellicott

And four audio ARCs. After Happily Ever After by Leslie A. Rasmussen and narrated by Tiffany Phillips

The Bletchley Women by Patricia Adrian, narrated by Imogen Wilde and Antonia Whillans

The Wednesday Morning Wild Swim by Jules Wake narrated by Laura Brydon

The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hildebrand narrated by Erin Bennett

I think that I have had some older requests from my pending list approved at the last moment as a couple of these are published next week. I now have nine books to read for review in the last week of April. I still have 28 titles on my pending list despite using that wonderful new button that removes your request.

Have a happy Easter everyone and I hope the Easter Bunny has been kind to you. He seems to have lost my address . . . .

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Currently I am reading The Life You Left Behind by Debbie Howells which, to be totally honest, I am not enamoured with. It started out well, but then it was like it was trying too hard to be mysterious. I began to feel like I was being lectured to on watching for suicidal tendencies and environmental problems, of which I am perfectly aware and doing my personal best. This is not what I expecting from this author. I applaud her intent, but this is really not working out for me.

I am also reading another book from my backlist, Coast to Coast Murders by James Patterson and J.D. Barker. I am loving this and unsure why it has taken me so long to get to this.

I am listening to Do You Follow by J.C. Bidonde. I’ve only just started this but already it’s interesting and keeping my attention.

This week I have four titles to read for review. They are:

Put Out to Pasture (Farm to Table Mysteries) by Amanda Flowers

There’s fowl play afoot on the farm

Shiloh Bellamy has saved her family’s farm from financial ruin—but now what? She’s barely scraping by on the farm’s new organic business model and the fall festival she organized to drum up business comes to a screeching halt when the body of a prominent townswoman is discovered underneath a scarecrow in a nearby field. Worst of all, the evidence points to Shiloh’s childhood best friend, Kristy, as the prime suspect.

Between cooking up delicious treats made with her farm’s produce, convincing her cantankerous father to let her do things her own way, and dealing with a newcomer in town who could be serious competition for her customers, Shiloh doesn’t have time to wade into a murder investigation. But with a killer on the loose and suspicious activity circling closer and closer to Shiloh and the people she loves, she realizes there’s nothing to do but roll up her sleeves and get down to the dirty work of finding the killer and clearing Kristy’s name once and for all.

Afraid by Alexandra Ivy and Lisa Jackson

Dark secrets and revenge converge as former students from an elite boarding school, which is also a haven for the daughters of the rich and famous, come face to face with the crimes of the past…

Lucy Champagne was sent to St. Cecilia’s after her movie-star mother was brutally attacked by her sleazy boyfriend, Ray Watkins. Lucy’s damning testimony landed Ray a twenty-five-year sentence. But now, Ray is free. And he’s going to find Lucy and make her pay, no matter how far and how fast she runs . . .

Rayne Taylor found unexpected happiness at St. Cecilia’s, until her roommate, Natalie, committed suicide. Only when Rayne finds a box of mementoes from that time does she realize how wrong she may have been about Natalie’s death—and how far someone will go to keep the truth hidden . . .

Erin MacDonald remembers little about the long-ago night she and her sister, Anna Beth, were kidnapped. While Erin was found safe, Anna Beth vanished forever. Now Erin has reluctantly come back to the family estate, where Detective Rafe Montego hopes to finally crack the case. But as flashes of Erin’s memory reemerge, she learns how deep the danger goes . . .

Blood Tide by Neil Lancaster

You get away with murder.
In a remote sea loch on the west coast of Scotland, a fisherman disappears without trace. His remains are never found.

You make people disappear.
A young man jumps from a bridge in Glasgow and falls to his death in the water below. D. S. Max Craigie uncovers evidence that links both victims. But if he can’t find out what cost them their lives, it won’t be long before more bodies turn up at the morgue…

You come back for revenge.
Soon cracks start to appear in the investigation, and Max’s past hurtles back to haunt him. When his loved ones are threatened, he faces a terrifying choice: let the only man he ever feared walk free, or watch his closest friend die…

Midnight Lies by Chris Collett

Secrets, lies, bodies. Nothing stays buried forever . . .

An abandoned campsite in Norfolk. Developers unearth a human skeleton. The remains of an eighteen-year-old girl.

Robina Scanlon. A blast from the past that shocks Detective Tom Mariner to his core.

She was his holiday romance in the sweltering summer of 1976.

He thought she was the one who got away. Now he realizes she never even left.

All these years, she’s been buried back at their campsite. Who left her there to rot?

Mariner heads to Norfolk, driven by an obsessive need to uncover the truth. But the trail went cold years ago, with just one lead left to cling to.

Robina was last seen out on the campsite, with a mystery man at her side.

Was he her friend? Her killer? Or what?

The closer Mariner gets to the twisted truth, the more he fears the answers lie buried in his own dark past.

Can he face up to his demons before the killer strikes again?

I only read three of the five books I had scheduled for last week, so what do you think I should start with this week?

This week I got five new Netgalley ARCs, and I thought I was cutting back! They are:

My Mother’s Gift by Steffanie Edward

The Girls by Bella Osborne

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

The Tea Ladies of St. Jude’s Hospital by Joanna Nell

and Unmissing by Minka Kent

Well, that’s my lot for the week. I’ve been at work and am tired so it’s sandwich, shower and bed for me. Have a wonderful reading week.

The Dating Duel by Christine Cameron

EXCERPT: ‘Come on. You’re missing this. He’s great.’

I thanked Margaret under my breath as I pulled layers of sparkly tulle around my face and peeked up at the stage. Garth Underwood, aka Jackson Ames, my husband and the reason I didn’t do country music, was too close for comfort. Dark brown hair hanging in soft waves above winter-grey eyes, an open smile and deep dimples you couldn’t help but touch had made him irresistible to me then.

It was still making a good case.

And at the front of the stage, at least a dozen of the women who’d undone another button hoping to catch his eye would find their partners lacking after tonight.

We hadn’t seen each other in five years and time hadn’t hurt him; almost six feet, with broad tattooed shoulders, jeans that fit so tight they should be illegal, and God help me, still wearing that damn hat.

ABOUT ‘THE DATING DUEL’: What are the chances?

Three weeks before her wedding to all-round good guy Kieran, Christy is dragged out for her hen’s night by flatmate and best friend, Sophie. The entertainer is none other than Jackson Ames, the man she met and married in a quickie wedding in Nashville, Tennessee. He was gone in the morning, and she has never seen him again, until now. What is he doing in Glasgow? And why now?

But, most important of all, are they still married?

MY THOUGHTS: Chic-lit is not my normal genre, but I loved this hysterical romp with Christy, Kieran and Jackson. A great alternate title for this would be ‘The Dilemma’, because that’s just what Christy finds herself in.

I loved the characters. Christy is impulsive but kind, and confused. Sophie puts her own life on hold to try and sort out Christy’s love life. But Christy is not the only one who has been keeping secrets; Sophie has a few of her own, and a definite bias towards one Christy’s suitors.

And the men? Well only one of them can win the hand and the heart of the woman they both love. But which will it be? Solid, dependable Kieran, who has dreams Christy knows nothing about? Or the charismatic Jackson, who has never forgotten the woman he married?

The Dating Duel is the third book I have read and loved by this as yet unpublished author. Yes, unpublished! If anyone reading this is in publishing, please take a look at her work. Christine never fails to entertain, amuse and delight me with her writing. It needs to be more widely read.



I: @booksshoeschocolateandcoffee

T: @Cinnamonhill11

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christine Cameron is an as yet unpublished author who divides her time between Scotland and Crete.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Christine Cameron for providing a digital ARC of The Dating Duel 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 and Instagram