The Girl in the Corner by Amanda Prowse

The Girl in the Corner by Amanda Prowse

EXCERPT: This evening she looked at the lit windows of the tall houses, standing like sentinels in a proud curve, and wondered, as she often did, about the lives that went on behind them, picturing the people she nodded to or greeted during the course of the day.

‘Morning Mrs Williams! … Yes, it is a bit chilly; stay warm. ‘

‘Hello Mr Jeffries. How are you today? … Oh, I’m so glad to hear it. If you need anything, you know where we are. ‘

‘Well, hello Fifi – aren’t you full of energy today!’ Rae loved to pet the cute little Shih-tzu and would smile at Fifi’sowner, the quiet young woman who never responded with anything other than a brief nod and a stony silence, her eye contact non-existant.

Yes, she wondered about the lives of these people, her neighbours with whom she lived cheek by jowl, bumping into them in their pyjamas as they put the bins out, listening to them row, cry, sing. . . She knew so many intimate details of their lives, but not their first names or their favorite colors or even why Fifi’s mum was so painfully shy. It was a strange and wonderful situation and one that she felt was peculiarly British; she considered the possibility that if the residents of Lawns Crescent had slightly less stiff upper lips and more open arms, she might have answers to all the above.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The Girl In the Corner is the poignant tale of a woman who has always been there for her family. But will they be there for her?

Rae-Valentine and Howard were childhood sweethearts. They’ve shared twenty-five peaceful years since they were brought together by Dolly, Howard’s larger-than-life sister. But now, on the night of their wedding anniversary, Howard reveals a shocking betrayal that leaves Rae reeling.

Heartbroken, she takes Dolly on her would-be anniversary trip to Antigua and the two women drink and dance and talk like they haven’t in years. But in the break from real life, Rae realises her choices have always been made for her, and suddenly she’s questioning not only her fragile marriage but also her one-sided friendships. Is she really the pushover everyone else sees?

When Howard comes looking for reconciliation, Rae has a choice to make: keep the peace, as she always has, or put herself first for once and find out who she really is.

MY THOUGHTS: I usually love Amanda Prowse’s writing, the way she makes the reader run the gamut of their emotions, but The Girl in the Corner felt a little flat to me. Even though I think that most of us have, at some time, suffered a lack of self esteem, I still found Rae hard to relate to. It took me 90% of the book before I felt anything for her and I am still not sure why. . .

It is a perfectly good story. A story many of us are familiar with, either through our own experiences, or of those of friends. It is a story of love and betrayal, of friendship being tested by circumstances, of grief in many forms, of choices made and not made.

The characters didn’t seem as well formed as in books I have previously read by this author. And I detested their names! I did shed a tear in one place, but overall this was not a memorable read.


THE AUTHOR: Amanda Prowse was a management consultant for ten years before realising that she was born to write. Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their two teenage sons.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Publishing UK, Lake Union Publishing  via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Girl in the Corner by Amanda Prowse for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the about page on for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my page


Watching What I’m Reading

What a merry weekend it has been! Which is the reason this post is a little late. . . We traveled to Rotorua Saturday for my husband’s work Christmas party, then back home early yesterday morning to put the final touches to my staff Christmas lunch so that those who were working yesterday could enjoy it before we had to open for business.

With everything that has been going on, I am afraid that I didn’t get as much reading done during the week as I had planned. I am just about to start

The Memory

which I had planned to read last week .

I have just started listening to

The Beginner's Goodbye

This week I am planning on reading

For Better and Worse

which I featured in last week’s ‘A Taste of … Tuesday’ post.

On their first date back in law school, Natalie and Will Clarke bonded over drinks, dinner and whether they could get away with murder. Now married, they’ll put the latter to the test when an unchecked danger in their community places their son in jeopardy. Working as a criminal defense attorney, Nat refuses to rely on the broken legal system to keep her family safe. She knows that if you want justice…you have to get it yourself.

Shocked to discover Nat’s taken matters into her own hands, Will has no choice but to dirty his, also. His family is in way too deep to back down now. He’s just not sure he recognizes the woman he married. Nat’s always been fiercely protective, but never this ruthless or calculating. With the police poking holes in their airtight plan, what will be the first to fall apart: their scandalous secret—or their marriage?

I have received three ARCs from NetGalley this week  –

Between the Lies

The Collector (The Bone Collector, #2)

The View from Alameda Island

And that’s my lot for the week. I hope that you have had a wonderful week’s reading, and that you are not getting stressed by the rapid approach of Christmas, because that’s not what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter if things aren’t perfect. What matters is the love you feel for your family and friends, spending time with them, and creating beautiful memories. And if you can do some random act of kindness to make someone else’s day a little better, that is a bonus.

I bought my almost twelve year old grandson

The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, #1)      The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus, #2)    The Mark of Athena (The Heroes of Olympus, #3)

for Christmas, and I will give him the remainder of the series for his birthday. I also managed to pick up a copy of

We Need to Weaken the Mixture

for my husband, and a couple of titles off the sales table for myself

Need You Dead (Roy Grace, #13)  and  Tell Tale: Short Stories

Have a wonderful week of reading,my friends. 🎅💕💖📚

Watching What I’m Reading

What a week it has been. Although it is officially summer now, the weather is still in changeable spring mode. It was cold and wet enough yesterday that we lit the fire. Today it is 26.5C and we have had a gloriously fine morning, but now clouds are rolling in, the thunder is rumbling and the wind has picked up.

I have had a good week’s reading, finishing the reads I had set myself last week. Currently I am reading

The Diary

which I started last night.

I am about to start listening to

The Lucky Ones

the cover of which caught my attention and sidelined me from my objective of finding the audiobook of one of my Netgalley backtitles.

They called themselves “the lucky ones.” They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night–was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

And I am about to start reading


which, you may remember, I featured a few weeks back on my Taste of…….Tuesday post.

In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever.
Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.

This week I am planning on reading

Her Final Confession (Detective Josie Quinn #4)

I have read the other books in this series, and they have been excellent as I am sure this one will be.

Watching her friend dragged away in handcuffs, Josie couldn’t believe for one second that Gretchen had killed that poor boy. Confession or not, someone else was involved. She would find out who…

When the body of a young student is found on the driveway of a local Denton home, a photograph pinned to his collar, Detective Josie Quinn is first on the scene. The house belongs to Gretchen Palmer, a dedicated member of Josie’s team, missing for the last twenty-four hours.

Working around the clock, Josie is stopped in her tracks when Gretchen hands herself in to the police. She knows that there’s no way Gretchen could ever be a killer, so why would she confess to a murder she didn’t commit? 

Digging deep into Gretchen’s secretive life, Josie uncovers a link between the boy, the photograph and a devastating case in Gretchen’s past. But just when Josie thinks she has it all figured out, the bodies of a young couple surface on the other side of town. Can Josie get to the truth in time to save her friend from a life in prison or certain death? 

I have had a great haul of ARCs from NetGalley this week.

Her Final Confession (Detective Josie Quinn #4)


The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt

Game of Scones (A Sugar & Spice Mystery #1)

Die Last (Max Wolfe, #4)

A very mixed bag! Some of these have been sitting on my ‘wishlist’ for ages. ..

And of course, I bought a copy of

Mavis and Dot: Frolics, foibles and friendships by the seaside

which the author wrote in memory of a dear friend who passed away from ovarian cancer. All profits from the sale of the books will go towards research into the cure for cancer.

Well, that’s my lot for the week.

Happy reading my friends. 😎

A Village Affair by Julie Houston

A Village Affair by Julie Houston

EXCERPT: The banishing of my husband bit hadn’t been quite as calm and stiff-upper-lip as I might pretend. There was no scenario such as you might find in a 1920s silent movie, where the heroine (me) holds one hand to a pale forehead and points to the door with the other while the baddie (Mark) falls to his knees, wringing his hands and pleading forgiveness, while the other baddie (bloody Tina) slinks off into the night like the she-snake she had suddenly become. Au contraire. In reality, it was like something off The Jeremy Kyle Show.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Cassie Beresford has recently landed her dream job as deputy head at her local, idyllic village primary school, Little Acorns. So, the last thing she needs is her husband of twenty years being ‘outed’ at a village charity auction – he has been having an affair with one of her closest friends.

As if that weren’t enough to cope with, Cassie suddenly finds herself catapulted into the head teacher position, and at the forefront of a fight to ward off developers determined to concrete over the beautiful landscape.

But through it all, the irresistible joy of her pupils, the reality of keeping her teenage children on the straight and narrow, her irrepressible family and friends, and the possibility of new love, mean what could have been the worst year ever, actually might be the best yet…

MY THOUGHTS: I read the majority of A Village Affair with ‘a ridiculous grin’ on my face, much like the one Cassie has on her face when. . . but no, I can’t tell you that. It is addictive reading. It is ‘splutter into your coffee/wine’ funny – I did both – it is light, and amusing, not at all predictable, and I want more from this author.

Every time I thought I knew where the story was going, it very cleverly changed direction, and 75% through there is a delicious OMG! moment that caused my stomach to churn, my heart to plummet. I was screaming ‘No, no, no!’ in my mind, my mouth hanging open, my eyes popping. I was in the hairdressers at the time, otherwise the ‘No, no, no!’ would have been out loud.

This is the second book I have read and loved by this author. Julie Houston is firmly on my ‘must read’ list!

A Village Affair is due for publication by Aria November 6th 2018.

THE AUTHOR: Julie Houston’s first three novels GOODNESS, GRACE AND ME, THE ONE SAVING GRACE and LOOKING FOR LUCY are all Amazon Humour #1 best sellers both here in the UK and Australia. LOOKING FOR LUCY hit the #1 best seller overall in Australia. Her new novel, A VILLAGE AFFAIR will be published in November 2018 and HOLLY CLOSE FARM in February 2019.

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.

She is published by HeadOfZeus/Aria and represented by Anne Williams at KHLA Literary agency.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Julie Houston for providing a digital ARC of A Village Affair for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the about page on for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my page

Watching What I Read

Well, I am glad I didn’t over commit myself on the reading front this week as I have only just finished

Treacherous Is the Night (Verity Kent, #2)

The fact that I have only just finished is absolutely no reflection on the quality of the book, believe me! Watch for my review tomorrow.

I paid a visit to my local library yesterday and picked up a copy of

The Comforts of Home (Simon Serrailler, #9)

which I will be starting as soon as I finish

Small Great Things

If you haven’t yet read Jodi Picoult’s latest, I strongly urge you to do so.

And I am currently listening to

The Blackhouse (Lewis Trilogy, #1)

This week I am planning on reading

The Little Shop of Found Things (The Little Shop of Found Things #1)

A new series about a young woman whose connection to antiques takes her on a magical adventure, reminiscent of Outlander

New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter Paula Brackston returns to her trademark blend of magic and romance to launch a new series guaranteed to enchant her audience even more.

Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind for a fresh start, taking over an antique shop in the historic town of Marlborough. Xanthe has always had an affinity with some of the antiques she finds. When she touches them, she can sense something of the past they come from and the stories they hold. So when she has an intense connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine she has to know more.

It’s while she’s examining the chatelaine that she’s transported back to the seventeenth century. And shortly after, she’s confronted by a ghost who reveals that this is where the antique has its origins. The ghost tasks Xanthe with putting right the injustice in its story to save an innocent girl’s life, or else it’ll cost her Flora’s.

While Xanthe fights to save her amid the turbulent days of 1605, she meets architect Samuel Appleby. He may be the person who can help her succeed. He may also be the reason she can’t bring herself to leave.

With its rich historical detail, strong mother-daughter relationship, and picturesque English village, The Little Shop of Found Things is poised to be a strong start to this new series.


In Her Shadow

Isabel’s life seemed perfect. Successful business, beautiful house, adoring husband. And then she was dead.

For four years Jessica has never doubted that her sister Isabel’s death was an accident. But when Jessica’s young daughter seems to know long-forgotten details about her aunt’s past, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that there’s a more sinister truth behind the tragedy.

As Jessica unearths disturbing revelations about her sister, and about the people she loved and trusted most, it becomes clear Isabel’s life was less than perfect and that Jessica’s might also be at risk.

Did someone murder Isabel? Are they now after Jessica and her family? The key seems to lie in the hands of a child. Can Isabel reveal the truth from beyond the grave, or is the answer closer to home?

In Her Shadow is a gripping tale of family secrets, lies and obsession from the two million copy bestselling author Mark Edwards.

I received three ARCs from NetGalley this week

The Promise

Murder in the Dark (Ishmael Jones, #6)

Broken Ground (Inspector Karen Pirie, #5)

We have the family descending on us for lunch. This is their first visit to our new home. I hope that they love it as much as we do.  The lamb is in the oven, the vegetables all prepared, so now I just need to throw together the Greek Salad. I am glad it’s a beautiful day, especially after yesterday which was wet, cold and windy. We lit the fire and I spent the day reading between naps and watching the Supercars racing at Pukekohe. Today we will be able to eat outside and enjoy the magnificent views.

Happy reading my friends 😎

Winter Cottage by Mary Ellen Taylor

Winter Cottage

EXCERPT: “Was it love at first sight?”

Mrs Buchanan is silent for a long moment. The drumbeat of secrets grows louder. “Yes. But that love wasn’t for my husband, Robert.”

Blue eyes are calculating like the fox’s were when he sniffed fresh fish in the trap.


“See you on Friday.”

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Still grieving the loss of her wandering, free-spirited mother, Lucy Kincaid leaves Nashville for the faded town of Cape Hudson, Virginia. She goes to see the house she’s inherited—one she never knew existed, bequeathed to her by a woman she’s never even met. At the heart of this mystery is the hope that maybe—just maybe—this “Winter Cottage” will answer the endless questions about her mother’s past…including the identity of her birth father.

Rather than the quaint Virginian bungalow Lucy expected, Winter Cottage is a grand old estate of many shadows—big enough to hold a century of secrets, passions, and betrayals. It also comes with a handsome and enigmatic stranger, a man next in line to claim Lucy’s inheritance.

Now, as Lucy sifts through the past, uncovering the legacy of secrets that Winter Cottage holds, she’ll come to discover as much about her family history as she does about herself. In searching, she could finally find the one thing she’s never really had: a home.

MY THOUGHTS: The opening chapter of Winter Cottage by Mary Ellen Taylor drew me in, but then I felt that the book lost its way for a time, before finally getting back on track and reaching a satisfying conclusion. It all became a little confusing with the story split over two timelines and quite a large cast of characters. Each story has merit, and each could easily have stood on its own. But, in the end, the tying of the two stories together worked for me.

We have all been guilty, at one time or another, of saying nothing when we ought to have spoken up, whether it was a matter of principal or something more personal. And it is the unsaid things in family relationships that are at the centre of this mystery. That, and settling for second best.

Taylor has a lovely turn of phrase. ‘Old pains bob like distant buoys.’ and ‘the drumbeat of secrets grows louder’ are two examples that stuck in my mind.

Lucy’s character struck a chord with me, as did that of Natasha, but I thought Hank too good to be true! The plot is not predictable, in fact mostly entirely the opposite. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader interested.

While not entirely enthralled by Winter Cottage, it intrigued me enough that I would read more by this author, and I intend to check out the books this author has written under the name of Mary Burton.


THE AUTHOR: Mary Ellen Taylor grew up in a southern family that embraced stories of all kinds, from a well-told anecdote to a good yarn or a tall tale. It may have been inevitable that Taylor would take her storytelling heritage to new heights, moving beyond the oral tradition to become a published author.

Taylor, who finds cooking and baking to be important creative outlets, explores some of the challenges and comforts of those pursuits in her Alexandria set novels THE UNION STREET BAKERY, SWEET EXPECTATIONS, AT THE CORNER OF KING STREET and THE VIEW FROM PRINCE STREET. The novels, which explore themes of family, adoption, belonging and personal history, are influenced by her life and family. Both her grandmother and her daughter were adopted, as is Daisy McCrae, the protagonist in her first novel written as Mary Ellen Taylor, THE UNION STREET BAKERY.

Taylor was born and has spent most of her life in Richmond, but also lived in Alexandria for four years. She received her degree in English from Virginia’s Hollins University, and worked in marketing and sales before she became convinced she could write and sell one of the many stories swirling in her head. Today, twenty-eight of her romance and suspense novels and five novellas written as Mary Burton have been published, earning praise from readers and reviewers and have made her a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. THE UNION STREET BAKERY was her first novel as Mary Ellen Taylor.

When not writing or appearing at conferences and book signings, Taylor continues her culinary pursuits. She’s been a kitchen assistant for more than fifty culinary classes over the past seven years at Sur la Table and earned her Baking and Pastry Arts Certificate from the University of Richmond’s Culinary Arts program. In addition to spending time with her family and her three miniature dachshunds, Buddy, Bella and Tiki, Mary Ellen enjoys walking and honing her culinary skills.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Montlake Romance via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Winter Cottage by Mary Ellen Taylor for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the about page on for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my page

Maeve Binchy: Collected Stories: Collected BBC Radio Adaptations

Maeve Binchy by BBC Radio Comedy

EXCERPT: John was the youngest of the seven Ryan children and the indulged pet of a mother who had been amazed and delighted at his arrival when she had been sure her family was complete. He had been overfed and given fizzy drinks with sweet cake as long as he could remember. As a lad the running and leaping and cycling miles to a dance had kept him trimmer. Now, between sessions of writing his poetry and serving in his bar, it was a sedentary life.

He didn’t know if he wanted it for his sons; he had such hopes for them – that they might see the world a bit, study and then go on for the University. That had been beyond the dreams of his parents’ generation. Their main dream had been to see their children settled into emigration; the church had helped of course, educating two nuns and two priests out of the Ryan family. John didn’t see any vocation amongst his own offspring. Michael was dreamy and thoughtful: maybe a hermit? Or Dara a resourceful Reverend Mother somewhere? Eddie was a practical child, possibly a missionary brother teaching pagan tribes to build huts and dig canals. Declan, the baby. Maybe they could make a curate out of him near home where they could keep an eye on him.

This was all nonsense, of course. None of them would end up within an asses roar of a religious life. Still, John Ryan never saw the future standing surrounded by three sons and possibly his daughter, all in the trade.

ABOUT THIS AUDIOBOOK: A collection of full-cast dramatisations and readings from the bestselling author

‘There’s nobody like Binchy for warming the cockles’ Times

Maeve Binchy was one of Britain’s best-loved storytellers and this compilation of her finest fiction, as heard on BBC Radio, demonstrates all the warmth, wit and compassion that made her so popular.

Firefly Summer is a moving, humorous novel about a sleepy Irish town facing monumental change, dramatised in six parts with a full cast including David Soul and Lorcan Cranitch.

No Nightingales, No Snakes features full-cast dramatisations of five Maeve Binchy short stories, with a distinguished cast including Niamh Cusack, Sam Dale and Harry Towb.

The Garden Party contains four short stories specially commissioned for BBC Radio 4, read by Niamh Cusack, Dervla Kirwan, Doreen Hepburn and Stella McCusker.

The Homecoming comprises four more stories exclusively written for BBC Radio 4, read by Sean Campion, Joanna Myers, Patricia Hodge and Kate Binchy.

Dealing with families, friendship, love, loss, sorrow and joy, these stories will delight all Maeve Binchy fans. Duration: 6 hours approx

MY THOUGHTS: This was a delightful trip down memory lane. I adore Maeve Binchy and I miss looking forward to a new book coming out from her. I had read Firefly Summer years ago, so that was like meeting up with old friends I hadn’t seen in some time. The short stories were new to me, and I loved them.

And yes, I know that I have categorized this as contemporary-fiction and that for many of you it won’t be, but for me it is. It reflects the era in which I grew up, when we played in the paddocks not coming home until dark, or our mothers were threatening to feed our tea to the dog. We read books rather than screens, there were no mobile phones, and we used our imagination. I am glad to have grown up in this era, it was a magnificent time.

The BBC dramatisations are, as always, excellent. Highly recommended. There really is nobody like Binchy for warming the cockles of the heart.


THE AUTHOR: Maeve Binchy was born on 28 May 1940 in Dalkey, County Dublin, Ireland, the eldest child of four. Her parents were very positive and provided her with a happy childhood. Although she described herself as an overweight child, her parents’ attitude gave her the confidence to accept herself for who she was.

She studied at University College Dublin and was a teacher for a while. She also loved traveling, and this was how she found her niche as a writer. She liked going to different places, such as a Kibbutz in Israel, and she worked in a camp in the United States. While she was away, she sent letters home to her parents. They were so impressed with these chatty letters from all over the world that they decided to send them to a newspaper. After these letters were published, Maeve left teaching and became a journalist.

Maeve married Gordon Snell, writer and editor of children’s books. When they were struggling financially, Light a Penny Candle was published, which made her an overnight success. Many of her books, such as Echoes, are set in the past in Ireland. Some of her later novels, such as Evening Class, take place in more modern times. Her books often deal with people who are young, fall in love, have families, and deal with relationship or family problems. The main characters are people whom readers can empathise with.

She passed away on 30 July 2012, at the age of 72.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Maeve Binchy: Collected Stories via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my profile page or the about page on for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my page