I love reading! Well, I suppose you worked that out from the title of this site, didn’t you?

I read flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, novels, full-length books, poetry books and am quite fond of book series too.

I also read most genres, though there are some I am more likely to read than others, but hey, I will give pretty much anything a go!  You never know when you are about to uncover a hidden gem.  Unless you read it, you don’t know if you will love it…and that is part of the magic of books.

I like to do what I can to support indie authors (I’m one myself), so if you would like me to review your book / story, just get in touch 🙂

If you have any suggestions, recommendations or review requests, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me.

Have a great day!

To learn more about me, read my about page.  To see what I’ve already reviewed, visit the A-Z review index.


Latest Book Acquisitions

Since I last posted an update on the latest books I’ve acquired (6 back in January, 1 read, 1 in the process of reading), I have added the following to the never-gets-smaller pile of books awaiting to be read:

  • The King Arthur Trilogy by Rosemary Sutcliff
  • The Cheltenham Square Murder by John Bude
  • Darien by C. F. Iggulden
  • Shiang by C. F. Iggulden
  • Henry VII and the Tudor Pretenders by Nathen Amin
  • Real Murders by Charlaine Harris
  • A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris
  • Three Bedrooms, One Corpse by Charlaine Harris

Have you read any of these? Any spoiler-free thoughts you wish to share?

Book Review: Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir was my April book for the From My Bookshelf Challenge 2023

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Historical fiction chock full of historical detail, real events and real people. A gripping page turner. 5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

I am now a condemned traitor . . . I am to die when I have hardly begun to live.

Historical expertise marries page-turning fiction in Alison Weir’s enthralling debut novel, breathing new life into one of the most significant and tumultuous periods of the English monarchy. It is the story of Lady Jane Grey–“the Nine Days’ Queen”–a fifteen-year-old girl who unwittingly finds herself at the center of the religious and civil unrest that nearly toppled the fabled House of Tudor during the sixteenth century.

The child of a scheming father and a ruthless mother, for whom she is merely a pawn in a dynastic game with the highest stakes, Jane Grey was born during the harrowingly turbulent period between Anne Boleyn’s beheading and the demise of Jane’s infamous great-uncle, King Henry VIII. With the premature passing of Jane’s adolescent cousin, and Henry’s successor, King Edward VI, comes a struggle for supremacy fueled by political machinations and lethal religious fervor.

Unabashedly honest and exceptionally intelligent, Jane possesses a sound strength of character beyond her years that equips her to weather the vicious storm. And though she has no ambitions to rule, preferring to immerse herself in books and religious studies, she is forced to accept the crown, and by so doing sets off a firestorm of intrigue, betrayal, and tragedy.

Alison Weir uses her unmatched skills as a historian to enliven the many dynamic characters of this majestic drama. Along with Lady Jane Grey, Weir vividly renders her devious parents; her much-loved nanny; the benevolent Queen Katherine Parr; Jane’s ambitious cousins; the Catholic “Bloody” Mary, who will stop at nothing to seize the throne; and the protestant and future queen Elizabeth. Readers venture inside royal drawing rooms and bedchambers to witness the power-grabbing that swirls around Lady Jane Grey from the day of her birth to her unbearably poignant death. Innocent Traitor paints a complete and compelling portrait of this captivating young woman, a faithful servant of God whose short reign and brief life would make her a legend.

Favourite Quote

A sentiment I think many of us will understand:

I’d prefer to be left alone with my books.

(From Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, page 63)


I thoroughly enjoyed the book, in as much as one can enjoy a book that you know is going to end in the execution of a young woman. The period was brought to life very easily, though it took me a few pages to get into it in an immersive way. Yet as soon as I did, I struggled to put the book down.

The life of Lady Jane Grey is told through the eyes of some of the most well-known people from Tudor history, though some will seem a little obscure to those who do not know the era well. Chief amongst the notable names are Queen Katherine Parr and Lady Mary, as well as Lady Jane herself.

The one thing you cannot get away from in this story, as no doubt at the time, is the prevailing religious fervour. With a distance of centuries between now and then, it is impossible for us to really understand why some people would rather die than follow a different branch of the same religion, or even send someone to their death for believing something different to you. Yet this is the world these people inhabited; this is the world Jane had to live in. And it is dangerous, and it is deadly, especially when decisions are made for political advancement, and in attempts to manoeuvre closer and closer to the throne.

Naturally, given the author, there is much historical detail here and I appreciated how the religious struggles of the time were presented in a very fair manner. The Catholic Lady Mary (who would become queen after Jane’s short reign) brings balance in the narrative to Jane’s staunch Protestant faith. And where there is no historical record, I think the reader can rest assured that the author provides genuine historical possibilities to fill in the gaps.

Jane was well-known for her intelligence and love of learning, something that would have been available to precious few women at the time. In fact, it is worth noting that there is an interesting parallel between Lady Jane and Elizabeth in this regard.

My favourite character, probably because she is one of my favourite people from the time, is that of Katherine Parr. My least favourite characters, apart from the scheming Dudley, were Jane’s parents, Frances Brandon and Henry Grey. Were they as cold and as ambitious as this book would have us believe? You would like to think not, yet it is clear their daughter was not old enough nor influential enough to put herself in the position of vying for the throne. As for Lady Jane Grey herself, I’m not sure I can say I liked her (in the story), but I did pity her greatly. Her so short reign, and her eventually execution is perhaps one of the most tragic events in English royal history.

There is a lot going on in this story, and there has to be because we know of so much that was happening at the time, and it can’t be presented in a vacuum. So not only do we get the story of Lady Jane Grey, but also the story of Tudor England in the latter years of Henry VIII’s reign, as well as the legacy of the monumental events of his earlier marriages. Then, there is the reign of his son and heir, Edward VI, who is of roughly the same age as Jane…

It’s not perfect, (for example, Jane as a toddler sounds very much like Jane as an adolescent), yet I found it a gripping page turner all the same. Recommended to those who love historical fiction and those with an interest in Tudor history.


Book Cover Love #7

The Woman In Black by Susan Hill

There is something quite eerie about this book cover, the almost silhouette of a woman walking through a twilight landscape with the too-bright light of the moon behind her. Combine that with the patterning around three of the sides, a scrawling script and the barest hint of colour…this is a perfect book cover for a ghost story.

The Woman In Black was my chosen Halloween Read for 2016. In my review I wrote: “The Woman in Black is a psychological ghost story that spends its time building up to a very creepy atmosphere, one that is heightened by that which isn’t said rather than that which is… If you enjoy ghost stories or are looking for a fitting tale to read one cold, dark night, this would be a very good choice.”

You can read the review in full here.

Quick Review: Good Cop, Bad Cop by Simon Kernick

Summary (from Goodreads)

Undercover cop Chris Sketty became a hero when he almost died trying to stop the most brutal terror attack in UK history. With the suspects either dead or missing, the real motive remains a mystery.

But someone is convinced Sketty is a liar.
A criminal mastermind.
A murderer.

Blackmailed into revealing the truth, Sketty will share a twisting tale of betrayal, deception and murder…with a revelation so shocking that nothing will be the same again.


I enjoyed this so much more than I thought I would. Having picked this up expecting an all right kind of story, what I found was an entertaining, captivating and gripping yarn that kept me hooked throughout. It was a real page-turner of a read, with lots of twists and turns. A well-written, high energy thriller, where the characters were interesting and the pace was good.

A very good read, that kept me wondering whether Sketty was just an unlucky undercover cop or the criminal mastermind some suspected him of being. Yet at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel for him.

I don’t often read modern thrillers any more, but I found this was a real palate cleanser from the genres I usually read (historical fiction, cosy mysteries and fantasy). I must admit it has whetted my appetite for more.

This is the first book I’ve read by the author, but I doubt it will be the last.


From My Bookshelf – May 2023 Book Reveal

And May’s book is…

Don’t Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier.

And the treat to accompany the book for May, some incense. (Fragrance: Egyptian Musk, is anyone was wondering…)

You can find out everything you need to know about the From My Bookshelf challenge, including links to the books as they are revealed, and the reviews once they are written, here.

Quick Review: A Spoonful of Murder by J.M. Hall

A Spoonful of Murder is the first book to feature Liz, Pat and Thelma by J. M. Hall.

Summary (from Goodreads)

Retirement can be murder…

Every Thursday, three retired school teachers have their ‘coffee o’clock’ sessions at the Thirsk Garden Centre café.

But one fateful week, as they are catching up with a slice of cake, they bump into their ex-colleague, Topsy.

By the next Thursday, Topsy’s dead.

The last thing Liz, Thelma and Pat imagined was that they would become involved in a murder.

But they know there’s more to Topsy’s death than meets the eye – and it’s down to them to prove it…

Sit down with a cup of tea, a slice of cake and this perfectly witty, page-turning cosy crime novel. Fans of The Thursday Murder Club, Death in Paradise and Midsomer Murders will be hooked from the very first page.


I absolutely loved this book. Knowing two former teachers, I can categorically say I recognised Liz, Pat and Thelma, and connected with them instantly.

A Spoonful of Murder is an entertaining, light-hearted cosy mystery. The three main characters, Liz, Pat and Thelma are so ordinary, but when one of their friend’s passes unexpectedly, and yet not-so-unexpectedly, the three find themselves pulled into something they don’t want to be involved with: an amateur murder investigation. Yet they can’t turn their back on it in good conscience.

Although light and entertaining, the story does deal with some very real issues affecting the elderly, including dementia and conmen, all of which I thought were handled sensitively. At the other end of the emotional scale, there were also some laugh out loud moments. The highlight of the story had to be the Northern Knights, especially when Liz finds herself at their headquarters in search of answers and gets more than she bargained for. Another was the Zumba class.

Well written and engrossing, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I loved the setting – a garden centre coffee shop is the perfect place for old friends to discuss and try to solve a murder! There is a second book to feature these three amateur sleuths, A Pen Dipped In Poison, and I can’t wait to read it.


From My Bookshelf – April 2023 Book Reveal

And April’s book is…

Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir.

And the treat to accompany the book for April, a bar of chocolate. Yum!

I’m a little late sharing last month’s book, but have no fear, I did read it (and eat the chocolate) in April. I’ll be sharing the review for Innocent Traitor later this month 🙂

You can find out everything you need to know about the From My Bookshelf challenge, including links to the books as they are revealed, and the reviews once they are written, here.

Book Review: Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch

Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch was my March book for the From My Bookshelf Challenge 2023.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Lovely cover, but I struggled to get into this book. DNF

Summary (from Goodreads)

A thrilling and powerful novel about a young boy lured to sea by the promise of adventure and reward, with echoes of Great Expectations, Moby-Dick, and The Voyage of the Narwhal.

Jamrach’s Menagerie tells the story of a nineteenth-century street urchin named Jaffy Brown. Following an incident with an escaped tiger, Jaffy goes to work for Mr. Charles Jamrach, the famed importer of exotic animals, alongside Tim, a good but sometimes spitefully competitive boy. Thus begins a long, close friendship fraught with ambiguity and rivalry.

Mr. Jamrach recruits the two boys to capture a fabled dragon during the course of a three-year whaling expedi­tion. Onboard, Jaffy and Tim enjoy the rough brotherhood of sailors and the brutal art of whale hunting. They even succeed in catching the reptilian beast.

But when the ship’s whaling venture falls short of expecta­tions, the crew begins to regard the dragon—seething with feral power in its cage—as bad luck, a feeling that is cruelly reinforced when a violent storm sinks the ship.

Drifting across an increasingly hallucinatory ocean, the sur­vivors, including Jaffy and Tim, are forced to confront their own place in the animal kingdom. Masterfully told, wildly atmospheric, and thundering with tension, Jamrach’s Mena­gerie is a truly haunting novel about friendship, sacrifice, and survival.

Favourite Quote

“This new labyrinth of narrow lanes teemed with the faces and voices of the whole world.”

(From Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch, page 8)


First: this book has a beautiful cover. It’s what attracted my attention and persuaded me to buy it. I didn’t even read what the book was about. Yes, I do that a lot!

Second: I did not finish it. It’s very rare for me not to finish a book, and even rarer for me to review it after not finishing. But having read 60 pages out of approximately 350 pages, I noticed a handful of things:

  1. I did not care about the characters at all. Not even a little.
  2. I wasn’t eager to pick up the book and continue reading it.
  3. I’ve mentioned elsewhere I’m not keen on reading about animals not being lovingly cared for, and the 60 pages I read was full of caged animals, some of them looking sad.

So, given things were not going great by page 60, I decided to call it a day.



From My Bookshelf – March 2023 Book Reveal

And March’s book is…

Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch.

And the treat to accompany the book for March, a hand-poured candle in the fragrance, Berry Blast, made for me by my sister ❤

You can find out everything you need to know about the From My Bookshelf challenge, including links to the books as they are revealed, and the reviews once they are written, here.

Book Review: The Prince and The Pilgrim by Mary Stewart

The Prince and The Pilgrim by Mary Stewart was my February book for the From My Bookshelf Challenge 2023.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A light, easy romance read that is a little predictable in places. 3 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

The bestselling author of the Merlin Trilogy returns to King Arthur & Camelot to tell of daring adventure & unexpected love.

ALEXANDER THE FATHERLESS: Alexander has come of age to take vengeance on the treacherous King of Cornwall who murdered his father. He sets off toward Camelot to seek Arthur’s justice & is diverted by the sensuously beautiful Morgan le Fay, Arthur’s sister. Using her enchanting wiles, Morgan persuades the him to attempt stealing the Holy Grail. He’s unaware her motives are of a dark nature.

ALICE THE PRETTY PILGRIM: Daughter of a widowed duke, Alice has experienced lively adventures, accompanying her father on yearly pilgrimages. Now, on her father’s final visit to Jerusalem, she comes under the protection of a young prince whose brothers were murdered, a prince possessing a silver cup believed to be the Grail. Thus the stage is set for two young seekers to meet–& to find not what they’re seeking for but, instead, the greatest treasure of all…love.

Favourite Quote

“Midnight meetings, and spells, and witches flying through the air when the moon’s down, and gathering in some spot to brew evil against their enemies.”

(From The Prince and The Pilgrim by Mary Stewart, page 114)


First published in 1995, it felt older than that when I reading it, like it was written a few decades before, though I’m not sure why I thought this.

It is the 5th book in Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Saga, though this is a standalone novel. Set in the same world, it is not set in Camelot, and from what I gather, there is very little crossover between the trilogy and this novel.

It is a light, easy and fairly quick read, but it is a little predictable in places. Charming in a way, if you’re looking for a sweet romantic read, but I’m not sure I was.

As for Alexander and Alice, I thought they were were interesting main characters, but a little stereotypical: she the pure, chaste woman, and he, not so pure and chaste, but that’s not his fault. It’s because of a evil witch who wants to sleep with him.

Well-written, it is easy to envisage the early medieval world in which it is set. There is politics, scheming, religion, action, drama, magic and murder, but it lacked something, that enchantment I feel when reading about the Arthurian world. Also, not a fan of Morgan le Fay always being the bad, evil, untrustworthy schemer.

I’ve only read one other book so far by Mary Stewart, Thornyhold, which I reviewed here back in 2020, and from what I said in that review, I marginally preferred it to this story. I would like to read the books in the series that come before this. From the reviews I’ve read, these hold all the magic and majesty I was hoping for in this.