Secrets of The Italian Gardener by Andrew Crofts


I won this book on a giveaway run by RedDoor Publishing, it was on offer as the pages themselves had been inserted upside down in the hardback cover.  This intrigued me so I entered hoping to gain a unique book to add to my library.  I had read the blurb and it sounded interesting, but there is so much more to this book than i could have imagined.


A ghostwriter is employed by Mo, a Middle Eastern dictator, to write his autobiography.  The leader’s time is in demand from his family, advisors and ministers, so time with Mo is very short, sporadic and often interrupted.  While waiting for appointments to meet with Mo, he spends time in the beautiful, peaceful and tranquil gardens of the palace.  He meets the philosophical Lou, he is the gardener.  He is from a well-known Italian aristocratic family, he is a longtime friend of Mo and not entirely what you would expect.  There is more to Lou than first meets the eye.  He tells the writer anecdotes and stories from their lives together.

The writer has his own troubles and heartbreak to deal with, they are wonderfully interwoven through the story as thoughts and day dreams and memories.  The whole story comes together and joins up, to lead you through a tale that is unexpected.  There are hardships, heartbreak, tragedy and turmoil.

This is a readers book.

It starts to simply, but as you read further you experience things from a different perspective than normal. You go through the same realisation as the writer as things start to make sense.  There are some sensitive subjects in this book that have been very well dealt with.


Mo, the wealthy dictator of a volatile Middle Eastern country, enlists a ghostwriter to tell his story to the world, enshrining him in history as a glorious ruler. Inside Mo’s besieged palace the ghost forms a friendship with a wise and seemingly innocent Italian gardener who slowly reveals that the regime isn’t all it appears to be. The ghost discovers the shocking truth of who really holds the power and wealth in the world.
As a violent rebellion threatens all their lives, the ghost is also struggling to cope with a personal secret too painful to bear.
“Secrets of the Italian Gardener” takes the reader on a heart-pounding journey through the bloody downfall of a doomed tyrant in the company of a young couple struggling to cope with the greatest private tragedy imaginable.


Hardcover, 145 pages
Published 2015
ISBN13 9781910453087
Edition Language English

The Confession Of Stella Moon by Shelley Day


I received this book in a giveaway run by Kelly Lacey @Lovebooksgroup and the author Shelley Day.  My review is honest and unbiased.


I give this book a 4* review.

When you first meet Stella Moon it is in the form of a confession.  She confessed to murdering her mother, Muriel Willoughby Moon in 1970.  She is released in 1977 and this is where the story of what led her to do what she did.

Stella was brought up by her grandmother Ruby Willoughby, when the courts found Muriel unfit to look after Stella, they awarded custody to Ruby.  Stella’s story is a complicated one, there has been a lot of horrible things that she has gone through, and in fact is still struggling to understand.  She is haunted by things she can remember, as well as those gaps in her memory that are blank.

She has to deal with her past to be able to step forward in her life.  She is going to have to deal with memories that have been deeply buried, memories that are terrifying, horrible, strange and also with the guilt that comes with them.  The guilt she carries for her mother and others.  She will need help and she does get it in the form of a social worker, Gareth, who ends up stepping into something much bigger than he realised.

I really liked this book, there are so many layers to this book.  The stories that gradually emerge are very cleverly linked.  The characters are very well written, and are convincing.  It is a story that shows a journey of discovery, of growth and realisation. Sometimes what we think happens, is different from what actually happened.

I would recommend this book to readers of general fiction as well as crime, mystery and thriller.


A timely and intelligent book’ – AL Kennedy. 1977: A killer is released from prison and returns ‘home’ – a decaying, deserted boarding house choked with weeds and foreboding. Memories of strange rituals, gruesome secrets and shame hang heavy in the air, exerting a brooding power over young Stella Moon. She is eager to restart her life, but first she must confront the ghosts of her macabre family history and her own shocking crime. Guilt, paranoia and manipulation have woven a tangled web. All is ambiguous. What truth and what lies are behind the chilling confession of Stella Moon?


Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 7th 2016 by Contraband (first published July 2016)
Original Title The Confession of Stella Moon
ISBN 1910192414 (ISBN13: 9781910192412)
Edition Language English

Killing Floor by Lee Child


I have heard of this author, seen the books even watched a film based on one of his books, but never read one.  This is the first of the Jack Reacher novels.


I have given this a 4* review because I liked it.

Jack Reacher is ex military police, loner, a drifter, survivalist and has been trained for many dangerous situations.

He was on a bus and see’s the name Margrave.  He jumps off the bus and visits the town because of an old guitarist was once there.  It is a quiet, out-of-the-way town and has not had a murder in thirty years.  Is it a coincidence then that a murder occurs when Jack arrives ?

He is arrested and questioned, but a witness places him at the scene of the crime.  How can this be when he wasn’t there, he has a water tight alibi, but until everything is checked out he has to remain under lock and key.  It soon becomes clear that Jack is innocent as another body turns up.

This story has a basic plot line, it is easy to follow and not complicated.  There are several characters that are easily identifiable as you read.  There is some background history on Jack and some more key characters.  But there are some that are mentioned that no other details are given to.

I liked this story because it is a reasonable action, adventure story.  It is a perfect lazy afternoon or holiday read.  I would recommend this book to people who like this genre, but also to readers in general.  It will be interesting to read other books in this series to seen if the plots improve as the author gains more knowledge and creates more of a rapport with his title character.


Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He’s just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Jack knows is that he didn’t kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn’t stand a chance of convincing anyone. not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.


Paperback, 525 pages
Published 1998 by Bantam Books (first published March 17th 1997)

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig


I would like to thank Netgalley and Canongate books for this ARC for my honest and unbiased opinion.

My Review:

I give this a 5*

How would you feel if you lived longer than anyone else ? Not just a few years older, but, centuries older.  This is what has happened to Tom Hazard.  He has a genetic condition that causes him to age slower than most people.  He is over 400 years old yet looks 41.  He has only loved one person in his life, apart from his mother, and that is Rose.

This story follows Tom as he re-lives, through flashbacks and memories,  his childhood, growing up and falling in love with Rose, his hunt for the elusive Marion, his role within a secret society up to present day.  We soon learn that Tom is not alone with this condition, there are several others and some older than Tom.

Tom has lived through wars, the plague, loss, betrayal and new beginnings many times.  He is not allowed to fall in love, that is the number one rule the secret society has placed on him.  He is not allowed to make his condition known, another rule.  While he is with the society they will protect him, they will help him start a new life, in a different place.  He starts a new life often because as people around him age, it would become suspicious if he didn’t.

This is a great book that makes you think about not taking time for granted.  There are several things I have taken from this book.  It is a book that makes you think.   The characters have been well written, and the main story line, I think, is a great idea.  So many times when we are given centuries old persons, they are then linked with vampires and the like.  This story is so far away from that type of plot, it makes it a refreshing read.  I would recommend this book to readers of historical as well general fiction.

Time is what you make of it.  You cannot live in the past, though you can learn from it.  Once you realise time is what it is and that you have no control over it, then it no longer rules you.  The future is what you make it.


I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong.

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.

He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.

The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.

How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.


Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: July 6th 2017 by Canongate Books
Original Title How to Stop Time
ISBN1782118616 (ISBN13: 9781782118619)
Edition LanguageEnglish