Cat Lady by Dawn O’Porter @DawnOPorter @RandomTTours @HarperCollinsUK #fictionpubteam #contemporaryfiction #family #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review for Cat Lady by Dawn O’Porter. This is a story that is at times amusing and has some interesting looks at stereotypes and how we can set ourselves targets that are too high.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this book.

SINGLE – INDEPENDENT – ALOOF – CUNNING – AGILE – CANNOT BE TAMED

We’ve all known a cat lady – and we’ve probably all judged her too.

But behind the label – the one that only sticks to women – what if there’s a story worth nine lives?

Told with Dawn’s trademark warmth, wit and irreverence, CAT LADY is a story about defying labels and forging friendships. It’s for the cat lady in all of us – because a woman always lands on her feet . . .

MY REVIEW

I am a dog owner, I know people can have cats and dogs, but for a lot of us, it tends to be one or the other. The author has chosen the cat and a woman for the main focus of her story, there is a certain stigma or stereotype around female cat owners. They are either old or single. or both. This is something that you don’t really see with a female dog owner as much.

Dawn is neither old nor single, she is married, has a successful job and seems settled. The fact that her husband’s ex-wife keeps popping in on a regular basis is annoying, but it is understandable… to a point. The living arrangements in Dawn’s house are somewhat strange, and the author does take the stereotype of a cat lover to a more extreme scenario. It was not until I learnt more about Dawn that I realised how much the cat is her support system and also why.

When I read the synopsis for this book I was interested, it sounded a bit different and quite humorous, which it is. There is also a lot more to this book though that takes a serious look at life, expectations and dealing with hurts and upsets.

Stereotyping is easily done and the author shows this in several scenarios within a group that Dawn attends. Again there is the expectation that someone looking a certain way should be expected to have a certain pet or breed of dog. In fact, our pets, whether they are furry, scaled, feathered or shelled all have a part to play in our lives. For some, a pet can be the only interaction, but for someone like Dawn, she already interacts with her family and her work colleagues. It isn’t until she starts meeting like-minded people and her life takes an unexpected knock, or two, that she finally takes the time to stop and look at her life.

While there are some funny moments, this is also a story of accepting who you are in life and not trying to live up to unrealistic targets in the belief that this will make you successful and happy. The author uses the character of Dawn to show how life has a way of knocking you down and how you respond to this and deal with it. This was a heartwarming read. I really enjoyed it and I would happily recommend it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

DAWN O’PORTER lives in Los Angeles with her husband Chris, her two boys Art and Valentine,
cats Myrtle and Boo.
Dawn is the bestselling author of the novels The Cows and the Richard and Judy Book Club pick
So Lucky, and her non-fiction title Life in Pieces was also a Sunday Times bestseller.
Dawn started out in TV production but quickly landed in front of the camera, making numerous
documentaries that included immersive investigations of Polygamy, Size Zero, Childbirth, Free
Love, Breast Cancer and the movie Dirty Dancing.
Dawn’s journalism has appeared in multiple publications and she was the monthly columnist for
Glamour magazine. She is now a full-time writer of eight books, designs dresses for Joanie
Clothing, LOVES instagram, and has a large following on her Patreon blog.

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Go Here Instead – The Alternative Travel List by D. K. Eyewitness #nonfiction #travel #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Go Here Instead – The Alternative Travel List by D. K. Eyewitness. D. K. Witness are a well-known publisher of travel guides, and D.K is known for their many other non-fiction books. Their titles are often found in most non-fiction genres and are a good intro to topics and interests.

Bursting with beautiful photography, this alternative bucket list takes some of the world’s best-known sights, experiences and destinations – everything from over-visited national parks to crowded museums – and reveals more than 100 fascinating alternatives.

Planning a trip to Rome’s Colosseum? Why not try the ancient amphitheatre in Nimes instead. A visit to the Grand Canyon is on everyone’s bucket list – but how about adding Namibia’s spectacular Fish River Canyon to yours? And while Japan’s cherry blossoms are hard to beat, the seasonal display of hydrangeas in the Azores is just as beautiful.

Featuring expert advice and practical tips, Go Here Instead will open your eyes to a wealth of new, and more sustainable, travel ideas. We’ve organized the book by types of trip, so whether you’re a wannabe art critic, an outdoor adventurer or you’re into your history, this epic bucket list has an alternative adventure for you. So, why not give Machu Picchu a break and travel beyond the crowds. Go Here Instead: The Alternative Travel List is your ticket to the trip of a lifetime.

Inside Go Here Instead: The Alternative Travel List you will find:

– 100 entries each focusing on an alternative to a well-known destination/sight/experience
– Stunning photography throughout with colour-coded maps and chapters
 Stylized locator maps pinpointing the alternative sights, experiences and destinations.
– A beautifully designed gift book that showcases inspiring alternatives to the world’s most popular sights, experiences and destinations.

MY REVIEW

I love to travel vicariously and especially to other countries. I don’t have a passport so reading books and looking at photos is the next best thing. I know it isn’t the same as actually being there in person though.

This is a lovely hardback book and it is great for perusing through, discovering new places and learning new things. This book is laid out in sections after a brief introduction it then goes on to the sections –

Ancient & Historical Sights
Festivals & Parties
Great Journeys
Architectural Marvels
Natural Wonders
Art & Culture
Captivating Cities

This is then followed by the INdex and the Acknowledgements.

Let me give you a couple of examples –
The alternative to Everest Base Camp in Nepal is to visit Annapurna in Nepal.
The alternative to the Sagrada Familia in Spain is to visit the Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro.

From these two examples, you can see that not all the alternatives are in the same country. Now for some who are planning visits to certain countries, I could see this being a bit annoying, but for me, it makes it really interesting. It is showing me other places that have similar features, conditions, terrains or architecture.

Each page has a photo that shows a particular feature of the place mentioned. These are clear and look great as they are accompanied by basic information about the area, region or history. There are suggestions for other similar things for further research or reading as well.

I really like how this is laid out and it makes a great book for flicking through. I think this is more of a coffee table book and it would make a great talking point for people that have actually travelled or those that want to compile a wish list. While I may not have a passport I do have a bucket list of places I would like to see if money were no object.

Lovely book, with loads of information and one I would happily recommend.

ABOUT D.K. EYEWITNESS

At DK Eyewitness, we believe in the power of discovery. We make it easy for you to explore your dream destinations. DK Eyewitness travel guides have been helping travellers to make the most of their breaks since 1993. Filled with expert advice, striking photography and detailed illustrations, our highly visual DK Eyewitness guides will get you closer to your next adventure. We publish guides to more than 200 destinations, from pocket-sized city guides to comprehensive country guides. Named Top Guidebook Series at the 2020 Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards, we know that wherever you go next, your DK Eyewitness travel guides are the perfect companion. 

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The Rules of Everything by Richard Templar @BookPublicistUK #nonfiction #selfhelp #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Rules of Everything by Richard Templar. I was offered a copy of this book to review by The Book Publicist and the brief synopsis did interest me. I am not one who usually reads this style of book, but I have found the odd one in the past quite helpful. My views are unbiased and are my own.

Whether it’s at work or in their relationships, as parents or managing their money, the Rules have described how happy and successful people behave for over 25 years. The Rules of Everything contains the top 100 rules from the bestselling Rules books, as voted for by readers, so you can follow the common-sense advice on how to be happier and more successful.

MY REVIEW

This is a book that is not something I would normally read, so I come to it with no expectations and previous knowledge of the author or his books. This book is a collection of the Top 10 Rules from several books that the author has written. The books cover many aspects of a person’s life and how they can live it better.

The sections in this book are – The Rules of- Work, Management, Life, Wealth, Parenting, Love, to Break, of People, Thinking, Living Well and a shorter one on Knowing When to Break the Rules.

As you can see this list of topics does cover a vast array of items that are intrinsic to the way a person lives. The author gives tips, advice, scenarios and ways of being better, more successful, richer, happier and so on.

While I did find a lot of things in this book to be useful and also a lot is common sense, there were also certain things that really jarred with me. I could see what the author was getting at but some of the things didn’t feel right. But this is advice and it is up to an individual as to whether they want to take it or leave it. For me the work and life balance are important, I have a balance between the two that I am happy with, maybe it is because I am older and have had the experience of working, having children, running a house and balancing all sorts of things that at I have naturally prioritised things.

I just found that some of the sections were more relevant or more appealing to me. I could use some of the advice and techniques and this is also a book that makes a good introduction to this author. It is ideal for then going on to other books of his for a more comprehensive read on certain topics that would be more relevant to yourself.

This is a guide and it can be used as a basis to work through so that you can define your own set of rules. Rules are something that can help keep you on track as you work towards a target or goal, they can help you prioritise and help you focus. I do think that some of the rules were just not for me, I am in my 50s though and I could see them being of more benefit to me quite a number of years earlier.

The book is laid out well, each section has an intro and then goes through the Top 10 tips with examples and at the end of each tip there is a summary, it is almost like a mantra.

This book is quite practical, it is a good starting point and if you like to pick up new techniques and see other sides to life and living then this is one for you. I did enjoy reading it and for the most part, this has some good advice and can help you with coping strategies. Overall a good one and one I would happily recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Richard Templar is the author of the international bestselling Rules books. Over 2 million people around the world have enjoyed and now play by Richard Templar’s Rules. The complete list of titles is as follows: The Rules of Life, The Rules of Work, The Rules of Management, The Rules of Wealth, The Rules of Parenting, The Rules of Love, The Rules to Break, The Rules of People, The Rules of Thinking, and The Rules of Living Well.

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The Sanctuary by Andrew Hunter Murray #mystery #20booksofsummer #NetGalley #PenguinUKBooks #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Sanctuary by Andrew Hunter Murray. I had requested this book from Penguin Books via NetGalley as the title and synopsis interested me.

This is the 9th book I have read in my #20booksofsummer reading challenge.

In a disintegrating and increasingly lawless land, a young man is travelling north.

Ben is a young painter from the crowded, turbulent city. For six months his fiancée Cara has been living on the remote island of Sanctuary Rock, the property of millionaire philanthropist Sir John Pemberley. Now she has decided to break off their engagement and stay there for good.

Ben resolves to travel to the island to win Cara back. But the journey there is a harsh and challenging one, and when he does arrive, a terrible shock awaits him.

As Ben begins to find his way around Pemberley’s perfect island, he knows he must also discover – what has made Cara so determined to throw her old life away? And is Sanctuary Rock truly a second Eden, as the mysterious Sir John claims – or a prospect of hell?

MY REVIEW

When Ben’s fiance Cara doesn’t return from her work trip, Ben gets worried. She works on an island with no phone signal and communication is by letter. Cara likes her job a lot and she likes the importance that it offers her.

This story is set around a two-tier society, those that can afford to live in Villages, and those that can. The Villages are a new way of living. The main island is known as Sanctuary Rock, a remote island that has a strict and limited access system.

For Ben, this is a society or system that doesn’t quite sit well with him. He has visited Villages to paint portraits for the wealthier residents. He however is happier in the city in his small flat. There are benefits to these hubs as those who cannot afford to live in them can work in them. Travel and work are via permits.

Ben finally has enough of waiting for Cara so decides to make his way to The Sanctuary. A dangerous journey to undertake with no idea what he will find when he gets there.

Once there he is surprisingly welcomed as it seems that Cara is respected there. While he still waits for her to return from another job he is shown and welcomed to the island. It has a good feel, almost like a utopian society where everyone works together. There is however an underlying ominous feel, is everything as good as it seems or is it too good to be true?

This is quite an addictive story and it does have a dystopian feel to it, but not overly so and this makes it more accessible. THere are ethical questions raised within the story and this is a great way of interacting with the reader and made me think about options, dilemmas and principles.

The story unfolds further and you start to notice the cracks, things are not as they seem but quite what they are I wasn’t able to put my finger on, following Ben in this story finally led me to a truth that I didn’t expect.

This is a mystery novel that has a sci-fi or dystopian twist to it. The plot was a slower one but it gave all the information and explanations to set the reader up for the revelations to follow. I really enjoyed this one and I would be happy to recommend it.

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The Retreat by Sarah Pearse @TransworldBooks #thriller #policeprocedural #NetGalley #20booksofsummer #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review for The Retreat by Sarah Pearse. This is the second book I have read by this author, the first one The Sanitorium (full review HERE) was a tense and very addictive read.

My huge thanks to Bantam Books and Transworld Books for accepting my review request for this title via NetGalley.

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Sanatorium, a Reese’s Book Club Pick, detective Elin Warner’s second outing, as she uncovers the truth behind the suspicious deaths on a stunning island getaway.

Most are here to recharge and refresh. But someone’s here for revenge. . .


An eco-wellness retreat has opened on an island off the English coast, promising rest and relaxation—but the island itself, known locally as Reaper’s Rock, has a dark past. Once the playground of a serial killer, it’s rumoured to be cursed.

Detective Elin Warner is called to the retreat when a young woman’s body is found on the rocks below the yoga pavilion in what seems to be a tragic fall. But the victim wasn’t a guest—she wasn’t meant to be on the island at all.

When a guest drowns in a diving incident the following day, Elin starts to suspect that there’s nothing accidental about these deaths. But why would someone target the guests, and who else is in danger?

Elin must find the killer—before the island’s history starts to repeat itself . . . 

MY REVIEW

This is the 2nd book in the Detective Elin Warner series, the first one being The Sanitorium that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The Retreat took me a few chapters to get into as there were several characters to get used to and also different timelines. Once I started to recognise these I found it a much more coherent story. With the different characters there are back stories that the author has also given, these didn’t make much sense until I started to realise who was who and what their relationships are.

If you read the previous book you may remember that Elin has struggled and she still doubts if she is up to the job. When she gets sent to an island off the Devon coast to look into a suspicious death she really has to get her act together. The island has a mysterious past that has been fueled by hearsay, local legend and also murders in the past. Hoping to change the local and public image of the island by turning it into a luxury retreat.

This is a story that takes a while to get settled, but once I got to grips with things I found it really hard to put down. It has a tense air to it given its isolated location, the tales and also the overall general feel of the place. While some are there literally to unwind in the spas, pool and yoga lounges others can take advantage of the watersports. This is a rugged island that the owners have tried to tame for the benefit of its paying guests. This again is something that doesn’t altogether well with some.

This does get more complex as the story progresses, but it is easier to follow. There is more to this than a mysterious death and I do like the atmospherics that the author has brought into the book using the island itself almost as its own character. The island gives it a “locked room” feel and you can feel the danger looming.

As well as the crime and police procedural side of this story, there are also some personal stories, those of the main characters for this story and for the returning ones. AS this is the second book in the series the author is still fleshing out Elin and I am looking forward to getting to know her as the series progresses.

This is one for those who like tense crime, thriller, procedural murder and mystery novels. After the first few chapters it becomes very addictive and it is one that could be read as a stand-alone, but to be honest, this is only the 2nd book so why not read them in order. This is a book I would happily recommend.

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The Caretakers Amanda Bestor-Siegal #NetGalley #LittleBrownUK #contemporaryfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today from The Caretakers by Amanda Bestor-Siegal. I had requested this one from Net Galley. My thanks to Little Brown UK for granting my request.

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Set in a wealthy Parisian suburb, an emotionally riveting debut told from the point of view of six women, and centered around a group of au pairs, one of whom is arrested after a sudden and suspicious tragedy strikes her host family–a dramatic exploration of identity, class, and caregiving from a profoundly talented new writer.

Paris, 2015. A crowd gathers outside the Chauvet home in the affluent suburban community of Maisons-Larue, watching as the family’s American au pair is led away in handcuffs after the sudden death of her young charge. The grieving mother believes the caretaker is to blame, and the neighborhood is thrown into chaos, unsure who is at fault–the enigmatic, young foreigner or the mother herself, who has never seemed an active participant in the lives of her children.

The truth lies with six women: Geraldine, a heartbroken French teacher struggling to support her vulnerable young students; Lou, an incompetent au pair who was recently fired by the family next door; Charlotte, a chilly socialite and reluctant mother; Nathalie, an isolated French teenager desperate for her mother’s attention; Holly, a socially anxious au pair yearning to belong in her adopted country; and finally, Alena, the one accused of the crime, who has gone to great lengths to avoid emotional connection, and now finds herself caught in the turbulent power dynamics of her host family’s household.

Set during the weeks leading up to the event, The Caretakers is a poignant and suspenseful drama featuring complicated women. It’s a sensitive exploration of the weight of secrets, the pressures of country, community, and family–and miscommunications and misunderstandings that can have fatal consequences.

MY REVIEW

Every now and again I come across a book that leaves me a little unsure. The Caretakers is one such book. It is a mystery of sorts, but the mystery is more a way to a means. By this, I mean that the mystery gave the author a chance to create storylines around her characters so that the focus was more on the characters than the mystery.

The story focus on Au pairs who live and work in France, they are The Caretakers. The caretakers of the children, the house and the secrets. The author takes various characters and gives each of them a story, about the family they work for, where they have come from and also their thoughts and opinions. This means there is a lot of back and forth between characters and also timelines. I did find this easy enough to follow and keep up with who was who.

While there are several sub-stories in this book they do eventually intertwine, some more than others. The au-pairs of foreigners to France and so they are alone, it is natural that they navigate towards one another and this is done via a French Speaking school for au-pairs and also when they meet up socially. They form tentative bonds and some friendships are more of a way of feeling not so alone in a foreign country.

The time of the story when the girls are working is around the time of the 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo, the author uses this to add a touch of friction, and unease and it gives a chance for opinions to surface from differing perspectives. It was a way of discovering more about living in France and being French, very interesting.

This is very much a character-driven story, at times I did actually forget that there was a mystery that started my journey with this book. This is a book where I kind of want to say not huge amounts happened, but actually, there was. It has a subtle dramatic feel and for me, I got a sense of nervousness, trepidation at living in a new country, trying to start a new chapter in life, or just trying to prove people wrong. There are several different voices in this book and each one brings their own story, thoughts, personality, history, hopes for the future or just to escape something from their past.

This is a slow burner, but it was also very captivating. There was something about this book that didn’t allow me to put it to one side. As I mentioned earlier, it is a subtle book because it isn’t always immediately obvious where the author is going as she flits from character and time.

This was a really interesting read, it is one for those who like character-driven novels, contemporary and literary fiction. I would happily recommend this one as it did keep me hooked.

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How to Spot a Psychopath by M.Q. Webb @marswebb1 @RandomTTours #psycological #thriller #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for How to Spot a Psychopath by M.Q. Webb. This is a very good psychological thriller, the title does kind of give this away 🙂

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of this book.

We’ve all wondered about someone… are they… how do I know?

How to Spot a Psychopath is a thoughtful, intelligent, psychological thriller full of conflicting accounts and sharp turns. How to Spot a Psychopath will keep you questioning who is hiding what, and why.

When four-year-old Mia Edwards goes missing on a play date, everyone suspects that Jessica Green knows what happened to her, especially Mia’s mother, Holly, but Jessica isn’t talking.

Psychiatrist, Dr Oscar de la Nuit, is determined to save Jess from the same mistakes he’s living with.

Will Jess lead to his redemption, or will she be his downfall?

Is Mia safe, and will Jess be able to return to the life she had before?

MY REVIEW


What a great introduction to Oscar de la Nuit the author has created with this first book in the series. It is a series I am looking forward to reading more of.

Oscar is a psychiatrist and he transfers a high profile person into his care as he believes he can help her. The person is Jess, she is accused of killing the missing child Mia, but won’t talk about it. Public opinion and the police have already decided on her guilt, but what exactly is she guilty of, or is she guilty of nothing at all?

This is a wonderfully intriguing and twisted psychological thriller. It is one that is told in a now and then format and I do like this method of storytelling. Information is given from the past when it is relevant to what is happening in the now.

As well as this being a story about Jess, this is also a story of what happened in Oscar’s life. This becomes relevant as he tries to help Jess.

There are several characters in this book and some have a larger part to play than others. There are a couple that felt a little clunky in being there but were needed for part of the story development. On the whole, the characters bring their own traits and agendas, but not everyone plays the role they are supposed to. Not all professionals act professionally.

There is a strong sense of mistrust for many of the characters and I do think this is what really helps the story move along at a good pace. The constant doubting and second-guessing yourself as a reader is brilliant. By the end of the book, I didn’t know who I could completely believe or trust, but I had hoped for a certain outcome.

I really liked this book, it felt full of suspicion quite early on and this carried on through the story. It is a good pace and I did feel it quickened over the latter half. This is one for those who like suspense riddled psychological thrillers and one that I would happily recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MQ Webb enjoys writing thrillers, suspense, mysteries and horror. They once worked in an office in a building that was actually an old goal.


How to Spot a Psychopath is the first book in the Oscar de la Nuit series.

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Crow Court by Andy Charman @AndyCWriter @unbounders @RandomTTours #historicalfictoin #mystery #paperbackrelease #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Crow Court by Andy Charman. This is a mysterious historical fiction story that I very much enjoyed.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my copy via the publisher Unbound.

Spring, 1840. In the Dorset market town of Wimborne Minster, a young choirboy drowns
himself. Soon after, the choirmaster—a belligerent man with a vicious reputation—is found
murdered, in a discovery tainted as much by relief as it is by suspicion. The gaze of the
magistrates falls on four local men, whose decisions will reverberate through the community
for years to come.


So begins the chronicle of Crow Court, unravelling over fourteen delicately interwoven
episodes, the town of Wimborne their backdrop: a young gentleman and his groom run off to
join the army; a sleepwalking cordwainer wakes on his wife’s grave; desperate farmhands
emigrate. We meet the composer with writer’s block; the smuggler; a troupe of actors down
from London; and old Art Pugh, whose impoverished life has made him hard to amuse.
Meanwhile, justice waits…

MY REVIEW

This is a fabulous debut by the author and it was one that I really enjoyed. It is historical fiction with a mystery surrounding events between 1840 – 1863 set in Wimborne, Dorset. A young choirboy drowns himself and the choirmaster disappears. Rumours about the horrible and vile way the master treats the boys are all around the community. No one knows for sure what happened to the master, but several others have left the country. This adds fuel to fire about who was involved in the disappearance.

This is a slower-paced mystery and a historical fiction story. It deals with some awful actions from the choirmaster. There are some in denial, some think justice may have been served but over the course of the next 23 years, there is always a suspicion hanging over people.

The author has done a great job with this story and I did enjoy the local dialect, a list of these words can be found at the end of the book, but most of them can be worked out from the context they are set in.

This is a story that really involves many people from the local community, you get an insight into certain people’s lives and how they have carried on over the years. The chapters are laid out as the year’s change, so a quick glance will show you how many years have lapsed with each new chapter.

There is a wonderful simmering speculative suspicion throughout this tale and it does have an impact of differing degrees over the various people. The author uses social class and culture to show how the disappearance affects or implicates. The story started with a suicide and a disappearance, it raised its head again towards the end, but, in the middle, it did get lost a bit. While at the time I did wonder about this, now as I write this review up it seems to me that the story just lay dormant for a few years. It is only when other things come to pass that it is reignited.

There are many characters in this story, only a few of them I can honestly say made an impact for me. Others were there and while they did have their roles I didn’t feel any connection to them. There are, however, some good descriptions of the characters and I did like the use of the dialect for the more manual workers, and this was something that I enjoyed a lot.

This is one for those who like a slower-paced more literary style of historical fiction. It has a strong leaning towards the feel of a classic as well. It is a story of a community and of a mystery that spans over two decades. It is one I would happily recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andy Charman was born in Dorset and grew up near Wimborne Minster,
where Crow Court is set. His short stories have appeared in various
anthologies and magazines, including Pangea and Cadenza. Crow Court
is his first novel, which he worked on at the Arvon course at The Hurst in
Shropshire in 2018. Andy lives in Surrey and is available for interview,
comment and events

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Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook @LizziePook @RandomTTours @MantleBooks #historicalfiction #mystery #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook. This is a wonderful historical fiction set in 1886 in Western Australia.

My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my copy of this book from Mantle Books.

Fortune favours the brave . . .
It is 1886 and the Brightwell family has sailed from England to make their new home in
Western Australia. Ten-year-old Eliza knows little of what awaits them in Bannin Bay beyond
stories of shimmering pearls and shells the size of soup plates – the very things her father has
promised will make their fortune.


Ten years later, as the pearling ships return after months at sea, Eliza waits impatiently for
her father to return with them. When his lugger finally arrives, however, Charles Brightwell,
master pearler, is declared missing. Whispers from the townsfolk point to mutiny or murder,
but Eliza knows her father and, convinced there is more to the story, sets out to uncover
the truth. She soon learns that in a town teeming with corruption, prejudice and blackmail,
answers can cost more than pearls, and must decide just how much she is willing to pay, and
how far she is willing to go, to find them.


A gloriously rich and wonderfully assured debut, Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter is set
in a mesmerising yet unforgiving land, where both profit and peril lie deep beneath the
ocean surface rendered with astonishing clarity, it is a novel that marks Lizzie Pook
as a name to watch.

MY REVIEW

Eliza Brightwell starts a new life with her parents and siblings in Bannin Bay, N.W region of Australia. Her father is hoping to make his fortune from pearl diving. The voyage from the UK to Australia has been long and arduous. It is 1866.

This is a historical fiction that tells of Eliza and her arrival in Bannin Bay at the age of 10 and back and forth to her life in her 20s. The earlier years tell of sadness, filling in the details of how her father has successfully made a living as a Pearler. It also tells of the hardships of those in the Bay. A mix of cultures, classes and backgrounds. The author builds a wonderful image of this desolate, dusty and dry region, and it is easy to see how quickly one could fall into poverty.

Eliza is a little bit of an enigma, she isn’t interested in the frivolity and frippery as some women are. She is more interested in the natural world, in plants, animals and about what she sees around her. Life is very different from where she first began.

When the boats return from their latest trips her father’s boat is the last one in. It is without her father, her brother is dismissive as are the rest of the crew. She is bewildered, confused and concerned. Not one for being fobbed off she decides to discover what happened herself.

Well now, there is no doubt that this is a headstrong and determined character who knows her own mind. She will take advice but she is also willing to follow what she believes is right. When she senses that there is more to her father’s disappearance she just has to go with her gut.

In this era of history, slavery is common, a time of British Colonialism and of discovery. The pearling industry is something I don’t think I have read about before so this was a really interesting read. There was enough of the basics to make me more curious for further reading.

Eliza was a character I wasn’t sure about at the beginning, but the more I read the more I started to understand her. She would be seen as a feminist and therefore not really accepted into certain circles. In fact, she is her own circle and the author has done a brilliant job with her.

This is a story that ebbs and flows at its own pace. Sometimes it is faster like the storm in the ocean, other times it is slower more languorous and this slower pace gives a chance for the literary side to tease itself out. This at times has a really lovely literary fiction flow, as well as being a mystery and historical fiction in genres. It didn’t take me long to get into this story and I did find the book nagging for me to be picked back up when I had put it down. A fabulous debut from this author and one I would happily recommend.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lizzie Pook is an award-winning journalist and travel writer contributing to The Sunday
Times, Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Condé Nast Traveller and more. Her assignments have
taken her to some of the most remote parts of the planet, from the uninhabited east coast of
Greenland in search of roaming polar bears, to the foothills of the Himalayas to track
endangered snow leopards.


She was inspired to write Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter, her debut novel, after
spending time in north-western Australia researching the dangerous and
fascinating pearl-diving industry. She lives in London.
You can find Lizzie on Twitter and Instagram.

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The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn @LittleBrownUK #historicalfiction #NetGalley #PublicationDay #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn. This is set in 1665 in and around the village of Eyam, a wonderful historical fiction read.

My huge thanks to Little Brown UK for granting my request to read and review an e-copy of this book.

It is 1665 and the women of Eyam keep many secrets.

Isabel Frith, the village midwife, walks a dangerous line with her herbs and remedies. There are men in the village who speak of witchcraft, and Isabel has a past to hide. So she tells nobody her fears about Wulfric, the pious, reclusive apothecary.

Mae, Wulfric’s youngest daughter, dreads her father’s rage if he discovers what she keeps from him. Like her feelings for Rafe, Isabel’s ward, or the fact that she studies from Wulfric’s books at night.

But others have secrets too. Secrets darker than any of them could have imagined.

When Mae makes a horrifying discovery, Isabel is the only person she can turn to. But helping Mae will place them both in unimaginable peril.

And meanwhile, another danger is on its way from London. One that threatens to engulf them all . . .

Based on the real history of an English village during the Great Plague, The Hemlock Cure is an utterly beguiling tale of fear and ambition, betrayal, self-sacrifice and the unbreakable bond between two women. 

MY REVIEW

The village of Eyam is a village I know from history lessons at school. Also known as “The Plague Village”, it is in Derbyshire and pronounced “eem”. It is nestled in the gorgeous Peak District National Park. The village is known as the Plague Village due to the Plague or Black Death that swept through Europe in 1665/66. If you are not aware of how the village tried to manage the plague in their village please have an internet search.

Eyam is such a village that is hearing of the plague that is starting to sweep through the country. Wulfric is the village apothecary and with the help of his daughter, they make the medicines to help those who are ailing. This is a time when it is a male dispensing cure is a respected profession, not so much if you are a female though. Wulfric’s daughter Mae knows she has to be careful when she starts to prepare her own recipes, her father would never have such a thing happen under his roof.

This story is one of a daughter trying to do the very best she can, but her father will never praise her, look proudly at her. In fact, he is just downright awful to her, he has no respect for women and thinks they are all evil. Mae’s mother is dead, and it is a close friend that keeps an eye out for Mae, something that makes Wulfric angry.

The story is set around the village of Eyam and the author has used actual events woven into her fictional story. The story wanders around Mae’s home and surrounding area and also in London. It shows the different ways people are trying to void the plague and also how devastating its reach is.

This is a slower-paced story and one that I did find engaging. It also flits between different characters and times, this threw me initially. I don’t always read headings and this was a bit of a downfall for me as not only are there several characters voices, they are also in slightly different years. Doing this means that the author adds nuggets of information from a few previous years to her current timeline.

This is a historical fiction story that does have mentions of real people and a brief mention after the story does go into more detail about this. There is also a good bibliography for further reading. I did enjoy this story as there is a mystery to it as well as the dynamics within Mae’s family and the village. I would happily recommend this one.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx