My December 2018/January 2019 Reading list. Better late than never!

December was a hectic month as I was busy completing edits for my upcoming book Fire & Ice which was due for release in February 2019. I actually completed all revisions on ChristmasEve.In spite of being busy, I still found some time to read. This time it’s more a list of the books that I  read than in-depth reviews. Some books were for research and some were for pleasure and relaxation. January 2019 and I  was still busy promoting the book, organising the book launch and even thinking about a sequel.

 

books on bookshelves
it was busy two months of reading.

 

It Started in Paris by Cathy KellyIt started with Paris

I ‘d had this book for ages and as I was busy and not even taking the time to visit the library I picked it up to read. I found the book initially confusing as it moved from character to character. Once I had got my head around all the various people then I was involved and wanted to know more about each individual story. It is the first Cathy Kelly book that I have read, but it won’t be the last. Warm, engagingly and a reminder of the Irish ability to tell a tale, reminiscent of the much missed Maeve Binchy

Return to Roseglen By Helene Young.

Return to Roseglen

A real heartwarming story of family ties, rural Australia and resilience. Having an older woman as  a  major character gave the book more depth

Buried in Books by  Kitty Carlisle.

Buried in BooksI was attracted by the premise and the cover but I found the story slightly confusing.

Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine.

Women of the Dunes

For me, this book was a standout! I enjoyed this book so much. A triple timeline made for interesting reading. The times spanned early Viking incursions into Britain, Victorian times and the present day in each instance, a woman was central to the story. The moody atmopsheric cover capture perfectly the isolation of the place.

Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend

Wundersmith

Could this be as good as the first book? Yes, it is. Of course, you have to embrace the spirit of’ wunder’ and fantasy but go with it and I think you will enjoy the book. Although complete in itself the book cleverly leads onto book three. Ezra Squall makes an appearance and new magic and mysteries are added. Lots of fun

The Magical Christmas Cat

Magical Christmas Cat

Again an appealing cover that drew me in, I usually enjoy the combination of magic and cats but the stories were more far out than I had imagined.

Eyewitness Viking by Susan Margeson- photos Peter Anderson.

eyewitness VikingsWonderful photography adds to the ability to  imagine how  the Vikings lived

Dirty Rotten Vikings by Sertori &Mungo Mazzega. Dirty Rotten VikingsA  resource full of facts and great illustrations, your older kids will lap this up.

Passages a short story collection.Assorted authors Serenity Press.

passages - proud author

I am a contributor to this anthology and attended the book launch on December 2nd. A varied mix of stories by talented writers.

A Girl Called Jack by Jack Monroe.

A girl called Jack Innovative and imaginative and with plenty of veggie-friendly recipes too. Some recipes are so persuasively simple that you will want to try them. I am not surprised this book was such a success and that there was a follow-up book.

January 2019

The Four Tendencies  by  Gretchen Rubin

The four Tendencies

An interesting premise and could be useful for character development too. Rubin says all people have one of four tendencies which are  Upholder, Questioner, Rebel and Obliger.  Full of information and easy to read.

A Scandal in Scarlet by Vicki Delany.

AScandal in Scarlet

I love this series and this one did not disappoint me, easy reading with an intriguing plot.

The Little Broomstick By Mary Stewart.

.The Little Broomstick

Another children’s book – by a favourite author-her Arthurian series is full of mysticism and magic while her romantic suspense was popular way back when. This is a simple story and full of humour.

The Lost Book of Salem by Katherine Howe.

The Lost book of Salem.jpg

A descendant of one of the Salem ‘witches’ writes about the events of the past in a historical mystery. As a PhD student tries to find documents to bring past events to light. I found the last third of the book didn’t quite live up to the earlier writing, but overall I enjoyed it.

Withering by the Sea by Judith RossellWithering by the sea

Stella Montgomery is a disobedient child at least her ancient and disapproving aunts think so. Somehow she manages to get embroiled in a murder and is in danger – her only helper is a boy who her aunts would totally disprove of, and he too is in danger. Id have loved this when I was about ten and enjoyed it now

Fear; Trump in The White House by Bob Woodward.Fear

Ever wondered what it’s like inside the White House under Donald Trump? Investigative journalist Bob Woodward has an impressive track record and here he names and cites sources. The picture he paints is one of confusion and chaos.

Wakestone Hall By Judith Rossell.Wakeston hall

This was book three of the Stella Montgomery series. although I hadn’t read book two it didn’t really matter as I soon picked up the story thread. Stella has been sent to school, a place where discipline is rigidly enforced. In spite a strict no talking policy she manages to make friends. When one of her friends disappears – Stella is bound to investigate.

The Well-Spoken Woman by Christine K Jahnke.The Well spoken woamn

With a public speaking appearance ahead of me, I wanted to get a  few pointers. This is a helpful guide.

The Books That I read in November 2018

November was a month where I didn’t get much reading done, most of the time was spent either on writing or on research. I think I have mentioned that my book Fire & Ice was accepted for publication. Of course, I am thrilled, but a lot of hard work is needed to get the book out into the world. So I have spent time working with an editor rather than reading.

woman reading a book sitting on mattress near the blue string light inside the room
Photo by Ivandrei Pretorius on Pexels.com

A Question of Thyme by Jan Jones

An easy to read and appealing story. Jen’s herb and garden business make her the least successful of her siblings, but an opportunity to create a 1915 herb garden for a tv show is too good to miss. Drama doesn’t just happen on TV, but when making it too. While the rather reclusive next door neighbour Theo could be a help or a hindrance.

 

A question of thyme

How to Hygge, The Secrets of Nordic Living by Signe Johansen

 

How to Hygge

Hygge- cosiness- a feeling of comfort.Simple practical advice about reconnecting with ourselves, getting back into nature, eating and cooking for pleasure styling a house and living a more authentic life. Enjoyable and part of my research into the contemporay Nordic culture.

 

The Viking World by James Graham Campbell

Interesting, packed full of details of Viking life, whether as raiders or farmers.  Well researched. With lots of detail of voyages and sailing,. a scholarly book. I was researching  Viking culture

The Viking World

The Age of The Vikings by Anders Winroth.

 

Age of the Vikings

The plentiful illustrations are a bonus to the text in this book and showcase Viking Art and craft as well as jewellery and rune stones. Interesting and of course – research.

 

The No Spend Year-How I Spent Less and Lived More by Michelle Mc Gogh

The No Spend year

The author set herself a challenge not to spend any money beyond things like housing costs and essential bills. The chapters cover beauty, food, travel, having fun. More useful to a UK reader than to me – but she did make impressive savings

 

Hygge a celebration of simple pleasures by Charlotte Abrahams

In contrast to the previous book this author is not Nordic but was interested in the concept of hygge. She concentrates far more on design and lighting and takes a more scholarly and idiosyncratic approach.  I didn’t find this book particularly useful but of course, if your interests are more in design then it could be a winner.Hygge

 

I also started a book which I discovered was mid-way in a series- it was too involved and intricate to pick up the story thread, so I gave up. In fairness to the author, I was reading out of sequence so I will not name it.

 

 

 

What Did I Read in October 2018?

First a disclaimer- I have been busy writing a novella and doing some research and that has taken up a lot of my time but of course, I still found time to read! My choices have been perhaps more relaxing than normal, as I was reading for escapism.

 

adult beautiful blue eyes book
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Dancing over the Hill by Cathy Hopkins

dancing Over the hIll

Cait’s thirty-year-old marriage is ho-hum, Matt her husband is as exciting as an old sock- They are ‘comfortable ‘together. If occasionally she wonders ’is that all there is?’ She accepts that yes, it is. Then she hears from a sexy old flame Tom and remembers the person she used to be, impulsive, a free spirit. Can she recapture that, and does she want to?  Witty and wise, with heaps of practical advice- better and cheaper than marriage guidance! I really enjoyed this new to me author

Death on The Menu by Lucy Burdette

Death on ther Menu

Actually, number eight in this foodie series about Key West, but I was able to read it as a stand-alone, I found the descriptions of both the food and Key West appealing. The mystery kept me guessing, the recipes sound delicious and it was a painless way to learn about the Hemingway legacy and The Truman Little White House as well as the links to Cuba.

Kicking the Bucket List by Cathy Hopkins

Kicking the Bucket list

Three sisters are reluctantly reunited by their mother’s death and her last wishes contained in her will. Daisy, Fleur and Rose have grown apart and it appears their mother’s last wish is to reunite them. They have to follow the terms of her will for a year and complete the tasks she assigns in her ‘bucket list’ before any of them can a collect their inheritance. Fleur is well off, Rose appears to be doing well but Daisy (Dee) really needs the money. If the three don’t all complete the list, then no-one gets anything. Throw in the charming and elusive Daniel who administer the bucket list and adds a little charisma to the task. At times funny but also sad and thought-provoking, it may get you to contemplate your own bucket list.

The Book Ninja by Ali Berg And Michelle Kalus

Book Ninja

If you love books, then can that love for books help you find love? Frankie Rose certainly hopes so. She leaves books on trains all over Melbourne with her name and contact number. The man of her dreams will be sophisticated, cultivated and well read.

Meanwhile, she goes on numerous dates with men who don’t fit the bill. Then she meets Sunny on a train, his quick thinking saves her from embarrassment and she could fall or him. But for his disastrous (in her eyes) taste in books.

Original, funny, quirky and quite delightful.

The Kitchen Table Tarot by Melissa Cynova

Kicthen Tarot

Interested in Tarot? Ever wanted to learn more? This is the book to provide the answers- I read through the information and did my first simple Tarot reading for myself. To make it easier, I noted down the cards as I turned them over and if they were the right way up or inverted After that I wrote down the meanings and found that I had a perfectly acceptable Tarot reading. If Tarot interests you, then this could be the book to get you started in doing readings.

To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell

moon & Back

An easy to read romance.  Ellie is trying to get her life back on track after the tragic death of her husband. But he is still very much in her heart and occasionally in her living room talking to her. She knows he’s not real, but she doesn’t want to let him go. Is she missing out on life by clinging to the past and what happens when she feels an attraction to someone else?

The Perfect Location by Kate Forster

The Perfcet location

Even seemingly perfect lives hold traumas and secrets– an easy to read tale of three famous women who appear to have it all. Had a bit of fun ‘star spotting’ and wondering if I was right! Fast paced and reminiscent of Jackie Collins

1001 Ways to Be Creative by Barbara Ann Kipfer

 1001

At times our creativity can be elusive, but with 1001 ideas you are bound to find at least one or two which help you rekindle that spark of creativity. Ideal to dip in and out of, some ideas will make you giggle, some may well inspire you, and there are some great quotes about creativity too.

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Molly RinglandTeh Lost flowers of Alice Hart

Very much a publishing sensation the cover imagery, as well as the almost fairy-tale beginning, seemed to promise a whimsical and intriguing tale. At times there was an almost dark fairy-tale quality to the book- I’d describe it as veering towards the more literary end of the spectrum. There was so much sadness that ultimately, I had to will myself to keep reading and finish the book. I know many have loved it and the prose is engaging. As others have commented the last third didn’t sit so well with the first two-thirds of the book, it felt like a different story

What Did I Read in September 2018?

 

 

person holding and reading book during daytime
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com.

The Jewels of Paradise by Donna Leon

Jewels of Paradise

This is the first book by Donna Leon that I have read. I chose it because it was a standalone and not part of her successful Commissario Brunetti series. The prose is quite cool and scholarly as musicologist Caterina Pellegrini is hired to research an almost forgotten Baroque composer Steffani’s supposed ‘treasure’. It would probably resonate more strongly with those who are more musically inclined than I am.

The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

 

SecretsSheKeeps_FC

An absolute tour de force- in spite of the reader having a good idea what is about to happen, Robotham, manages to keep up the tension and suspense. While at times loathing Agatha it was hard not to feel sympathy for her too. There wasn’t one false note from a male author writing two female characters. Compelling.

High Tide by Veronica Henry

High Tide Veronica Henry

 

An appealing mix of characters from this well-known author. Kate back from New York, for her mother Joys’ funeral. Beautiful Vanessa from the big house is burying her husband Spenser and wondering why she isn’t grieving. Sam has moved to Pennfleet to escape loneliness and stress, but has he done right by his teenage children? Local Nathan keeps his wits about him to earn his living beyond the summer season.

Charming characters and an idyllic location with just enough spice to keep it interesting makes this a perfect beach or holiday read.

 

A Room at the Manor by Julie Shackman

A Room at the Manor

Lara returns to Scotland from Malta, her life in tatters. Her fickle boyfriend found someone else, her PR career is also gone. She needs to start again. What she has always wanted to do is bake, but perhaps with more charm and warmth than Kitty Walker her current boss allows at True Brew Tearooms.

A friendship with the former laird Hugo Carmichael provides an unlikely means of escape as Lara takes to the new challenge with enthusiasm, not everyone is happy though.

The delicacies that Lara creates will have you drooling, (don’t read if you are on a diet!) While handsome bad boy Vaughan, makes Lara dream of more than baking.

Write Smart, Write Happy by Cheryl St John.

Write Smart

Helpful advice from an experienced writer who has over fifty books published. St John encourages whilst at the same time demolishing all those pathetic excuses we make about not having enough time, self- doubt etc.

 

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Rules of Magic

If you ever thought that being magical would make your life easier and happier this book will slowly but persistently demolish that notion. Sister Franny and Jet could not be less alike, but each finds in her own way that magic cannot solve all problems. While their charismatic brother Vincent who seems born for trouble enjoys his powers until he too learns that magic has its price. This prequel to Practical Magic works well as a stand-alone story.

New York Nights by C.J Duggan.  The second book in this series.

New York Nights

Aussie Sarah Williams dreams of New York and when an opportunity to work as an au pair there beckons she accepts. She is almost awed by the Worthington family who scrutinizes her prior to her meeting with Ben Worthington whose daughter Grace she is to care for. Unfortunately, for me, the book didn’t have the same pizzazz as Paris Lights. Perhaps Sarah was alone too much or stuck in the apartment as she spent long periods alone. I didn’t really get a sense of Ben either. I will be interested in what other readers think.

 

Seven Books That I Read in August

August has been a busy and challenging month, with writing contests to enter, and technology challenges to overcome, computer glitches and getting connected to the National Broadband Network but I still made time to read. My selections were perhaps a tad more lighthearted than usual.

person holding book from shelf
Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

The Fast and The Furriest by Sofie Ryan: A Second Chance Cat Mystery

The cover of this book with its handsome black cat and its title attracted me. Two cat -loves- of- my- life were black cats, Midnight and Mystic. Previously I’ve enjoyed a couple of cat mystery series Midnight Louie by Carol Nelson Douglas and The Cat Who series Lilian Jackson Braun.This might easily be another series to add to my favourites list.

The Fast & the Furriest

The fast and the Furriest is the fifth book in the series, but it was easy to get involved. Sarah Grayson owner of Second Chance refurbishes objects and furniture for her store, with the help of Mac, who can turn his hand to most things. There is also a handsome black rescue cat called Elvis. Life is good in North Harbor, Maine until a woman from Mac’s past visits and ends up dead. Suspicions abound, but Sarah can’t believe Mac did it and Elvis agrees. They just have to prove it.

Antiques Flee Market by Barbara Allan. A Trash & Treasure Mystery

Antiques Flee MArket

Spell check wants to change the title but it is Flee market, not Flea market, a play on words! Almost a reprise of The Fast and The Furriest although this time the featured animal is Sushi a Shih Tzu dog. The story is mainly told by Brandy Borne with occasional interjections by her mother Vivian. It’s a madcap mix of fun and danger. Chapters include Flea market tips. Again, part of a series, but I was still able to follow a lot, if not know all the backstory

Paris Lights by C J Duggan

I was fortunate enough to win a  copy of this book but was under no obligation to review it. Its been on my bookshelves for a month or two.PAris LIghts Book

Claire Shorten should be enjoying a romantic time in Paris, strolling by the Seine, exploring the districts and eating fabulous French food, with her boyfriend who she is sure is about to propose. Her dreams crash when he dumps her, leaving her alone in Paris, the city of romance.

Claire manages to get a job at a small hotel and that’s when things get interesting as she meets the inscrutable yet sexy Louis Delarue. He’s a celebrity chef with attitude to spare. A fun read with a sexy, stylish vibe and a certain ‘Je ne sais pas’ that extra ingredients which lifts it from a standard romance. This is the first books I have read by CJ Duggan and I really enjoyed it as I sped through it.

The Other Wife by Michael Robotham

The Other Wife

An intriguing premise what if everything you thought you knew about someone was wrong? This is the problem facing clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin and it’s not an academic problem, it concerns his injured father. It kept me guessing as layer after layer of subterfuge and deceit was revealed. Like Joe we want to know ‘the truth’ but whose truth is the real story? My sympathises fluctuated between characters and I found it a believable and satisfying read, an absolute page-turner.

London Bound By C.J Duggan.

London Bound

London!  Australian Kate Brown has dreamed about it and now she’s there London is tantalisingly close. If only she can escape the ‘it’s for your own good’ clutches of her grandmother who seems to want to occupy every minute of Kate’s day. Fortunately, handsome neighbour Jack Baker finds Kate intriguing and wants to know her better in spite of the unfortunateness of almost running her down.

While I found this an enjoyable read, for me it didn’t have quite the pizzazz of Paris Lights. It ended so abruptly that I turned the page expecting more and was nonplussed to discover it had ended,

Brain Rules for Aging Well by John Medina

Brain Rules

A molecular biologist explains the habits of those people called ‘super agers’ people who stay fit and healthy into old age. The book explores the current scientific thinking and how that can be translated into ordinary lives. Explodes some myths along the way, such as nostalgia is bad for you. It’s good to reminisce. Fascinatingly scientist has managed to double the lifespan of mice but so far there are no human applications. An absorbing read although I did read it slowly. Lots of simple and effective advice.

Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee

Lenny's Book of Everything

I was fortunate enough to be sent an advance reading copy of this book. It’s a book which is hard to categorize and a story that stays with you after you have closed the pages. In a sense, it reminded me of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. Narrator Lenny worries about Davey, her younger but much bigger brother and their single mother Cynthia Spink. They are dealing with hardships and illness, and with longings for a better life, a better outcome. Lenny wonders about her absent father and knows that her mother is ’thin with worrying.’ When their mother wins a set of Burrell’s Build it at Home Encyclopaedia, arriving in weekly instalments it opens knowledge and imagination for both.  Her determination that her children will have the best that she can provide is expressed in her letters to Burrell. Lenny and Davey became real to me I smiled at Davey’s imaginary eagle improbably named Timothy. I ached for Lenny with her longing to find her missing father. It might be a stretch for most ten-year-olds but any literate imaginative ten+ should love this book.

 

 

 

Which Books did I Read in July 2018?

 

white teddy bear with opened book photo
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In spite of July being a busy and challenging month, I did manage to keep up with my reading. For a writer, reading is essential but more than that its a pleasure. I cannot imagine my life without reading.

The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang

A feeling of nostalgia had me reaching for this well-loved childhood classic. Beautifully produced and with the original illustrations, it is a visual delight. Reading now as an adult, I was surprised at how some of the stories defied the happily ever after tradition.The Blue fairy Book

The Olive Sisters by Amanda Hampson

After reading Amanda Hampson’s later book The Yellow Villa I was looking forward to reading this. Initially, I found the dual timeline confusing. As I read on the strands of the story became clearer. The sisters came to Australia with their family from Italy. Their family relationship is complex. Later, one of their descendants inherits the farm. For her, it becomes a refuge and retreat as she uncovers more about her past and long-lost family secrets.

The Olive Sisters

The Upside Of Over by J.D Barrett

When TV newsreader Olivia makes a drunken mistake her whole life implodes. She loses her marriage, her career and her self-esteem. How did it all go so horribly wrong? And what can she do now?

Luckily, a couple of friends are still there for her as she picks up the pieces. Through her own efforts and with their help she discovers that the network was eager to get rid of her due to her age and this was the perfect excuse.

Olivia discovers that there is an upside to over, being your own person and authentically yourself.  Funny, sexy and wise, but not necessarily for the prudish.

Upside of OVer

Disclaimer I won a copy in a contest but was under no obligation to review the book.

Date with Mystery by Julia Chapman

DAte with Mystery

Book Three in The Dales Detective Series.

Although I hadn’t read the two previous books I still enjoyed this book. It’s an amusing mystery full of Yorkshire wit and grit. About three-quarters of the way through the book I had a good idea as to what had happened but no idea of the why-the reason. I am not too sure about the contrivance of having characters called Samson and Delilah. It stretches the bounds of credulity, but it seems to work for TV’s Shakespeare and Hathaway, so that may just be a personal quibble.

The Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

the Beach hut

When I picked this book up I hadn’t realised that it was an interconnected series of short stories.  All are based around the beach huts on Devon’s Everdene beach. A peek into many lives over the weeks they use the huts. Some stories come full circle while others remain incomplete, left to the readers’ imagination. Initially,  I found it rather disconcerting to move from one story to another. I feel the cover gives an impression of a lighter read, while the stories have more depth.

 

PR Secrets for Savvy Authors By Louisa West

PR

As a writer, you need to get your work noticed and for that, you are going to need PR. (Public Relations) Maybe you are an introvert who doesn’t want to put yourself ‘out there’. Or perhaps you are an extrovert but don’t want to come over as ‘pushy.’ And what is PR anyway?

Help is here, Louisa West is both an author and PR professional. The book is written specifically for authors and addresses their concerns. From learning the difference between PR and marketing, to how to feel ‘legit’ and how to establish your ‘brand’.

The importance of networking effectively with readers, writers and influencers. It demystified the whole process of how to post in social media and how to make it work for you.  Presented in an easy to read style – this book should be an important part of any authors toolbox

I learnt a lot and I think it’s a great read for anyone wanting to know more about PR

Disclaimer I was gifted an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.

Which Books Did I Read in June 2018?

June was a good month for reading as I read seven books almost all of them were fiction. I like to try different authors and genres as well as reading nonfiction.  Here are this month’s selections.

adult back view blur book
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

              The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

THE DARK LAKE
I don’t want to give plot details away, so of necessity, this review will be non-specific. I was fortunate enough to win a copy of the book in a giveaway but was under no obligation to review it.
I think the book is well written, but I found it hard to warm to the protagonist Gemma Woodstock. She is obviously a dedicated detective and this time the case is personal. While I found the hint of intrigue about the past worked well initially, I grew impatient with the continual repetition and non-disclosure. The book had an unpredictable ending, overall, I didn’t find it a satisfying read

           Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

kell_9781101883075_are_all_r1.indd

This is fiction based on fact and tells a remarkable story of how an American Socialite and philanthropist Caroline Ferriday made a difference to so many women’s lives. Always a Francophile and a volunteer at the French consulate she was gradually drawn into working far more closely with women who had been incarcerated and brutally mistreated in the notorious Ravensbruek concentration camp.
Initially, I found the triple timeline somewhat confusing as each woman’s point of view was presented. American Caroline, Polish Kasia and German Herta. It was worth persevering because this is a story that needed to be told. Unimaginable horrors and deprivations, cruelty, and kindness death and despair, hatred and forgiveness. This is a memorable story, meticulously researched and beautifully written quite unforgettable. The authors note details the research and the real people whose lives were impacted by these terrible events.
Note Caroline Ferriday and Herta Oberhauser were real people Kasia is a composite of many of the Polish women who were held in the

               Mail Obsession by Mark Mason 

MAIL OBSESSION

A great book for trivia lovers and those interested in finding out quirky facts about Britain. Not a book to read at one sitting. This is a book to amuse and delight, but one that is probably best read in small doses. There is a temptation to read out many of the amazing facts and bits of information to your long-suffering family.

A few snippets which amused me.  In 1879 Belgium trialled using cats to deliver the mail. The thirty-seven cats did not cooperate, ( who would have thought that!)and the trial was abandoned.

The Queen carries several items in her handbag, including a handkerchief, lipstick, spectacles, a folded five-pound note and a handy suction hook to stick under a table to hold the bag itself

My favourite though is that on April Fool’s Day 2010 The company Gamestation inserted a clause in their online contracts which enabled them to claim their customer’s souls.

 The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers

THE CLEANER OF CHARTRES

An unknown woman arrives in Chartres and stirs up forgotten feelings and prejudices. Each person sees something different in Agnes Morel with her dark skin and topaz eyes. She cleans the famous Chartres cathedral. Does the cathedral influence her as she polishes the labyrinth walk? Can a wrong ever be righted? Can a sinner find redemption? Is holiness more important than kindness? Everyone has an opinion about her. The town gossips Madame Picot and Madame Beck spend their time speculating about her past. Abbe Paul from the cathedral, Professor Jones and Philippe Nevers all have a certain fondness for Agnes. While Robert, the painter uses her as his muse, model and mistress. Dr Denman wonders if he did right by Agnes. Alain the restorer wants to help her to find her own identity. The nuns’ Mother Veronique and Sister Laurence knew Agnes years ago and their intervention in her story is not the happiest of events,
We saw each person’s perception of Agnes but each time there was something of their personality in the observation too. Was Agnes more sinned against than sinning? Judge for yourself.

           The Yellow Villa by Amanda Hampson

THE YELLOW VILLA

Despite its charming cover, this story has more involved in it than you might at first imagine. A young Australian couple Mia and Ben, buy a villa in France hoping to make a fresh start. They meet a sophisticated older couple Susannah and Dominic and are initially impressed with the pair of Expat Brits.
Throughout the story, fresh information is revealed and the veneer of each couple’s ‘perfect’ life gradually discloses uncomfortable truths about their relationships and each other. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

            Water Under The Bridge by Lily Malone

WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE
The characters were well drawn, and the story events were intriguing. The relationship between Ella with her son was realistic, a boy out of his depth missing his old life and friends. Ella is challenging herself embarking on a new career, selling real estate and trying to put her past behind her. Handsome Jake is a complication that she doesn’t need, and he’s the owner of the house she has listed to sell. It’s inevitable they will keep meeting.
The story while complicated is certainly feasible and is the beginning of a series by Lily Malone