2018 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards

bloggers-bash

 

It’s that time of year again when we all get to vote for our favourite bloggers. The difference for me this year, is that Jill’s Book Cafe has been nominated in The Most Inspirational Blogger category. I am immensely honoured and grateful to those who have nominated me and while it sounds quite trite, the nomination is really worth as much as the winning (well OK not quite). I am in amongst some great company but if anyone feels they could vote for me it would be much appreciated. As voting is very easy, why not take the time to vote for all the other amazing bloggers nominated in the other categories.

Vote now in the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards

 

 

 

Advertisements

Five on Friday with Liza Perrat @LizaPerrat

Today I’m delighted to introduce Liza Perrat. I first corresponded with Liza when I reviewed her latest novel The Silent Kookaburra. Since then we have stayed in touch and thanks to shared experiences have become friends.

P1130161 - Copie (3) - Copie.JPG

Author Bio:

Liza grew up in Australia, working as a general nurse and midwife. She has now been living in France for twenty-five years, where she works as a part-time medical translator and a novelist. She is the author of the historical The Bone Angel series. The first, Spirit of Lost Angels is set in 18th century revolutionary France. The second, Wolfsangel is set during the WW2 Nazi Occupation and the French Resistance, and the third novel – Blood Rose Angel –– is set during the 14th century Black Plague years.

Her latest novel, The Silent Kookaburra, is a psychological suspense set in 1970s Australia.

Liza is a co-founder and member of the writers’ collective Triskele Books and also reviews books for Bookmuse.

Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

music-score-notes.jpg

 

I seem to have got stuck in the 1980s as far as music goes, and haven’t really appreciated much music since this era. These are a few of my favourites, which I still love listening to:

Enola Gay by OMD

Heroes by David Bowie

Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds

Avalon by Bryan Ferry

Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin.

 

 Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.

 

Dark chocolate from the Chocolaterie de la Fontaine, artisanal chocolate shop in the French village in which I live, reminiscent of Joanne Harris’s Chocolat.

A cool glass of the French wine, Viré Clessé.

My cats.

Holidays featuring uncrowded beaches. In short, swimming. I only feel good when in the water.

My microwave (I detest cooking, so always make a huge amount at once, to freeze and microwave during the week).

 

Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?

 

Don’t sweat the small stuff; life is too short.

Enjoy the moment; life, and moments, are short.

Lose weight BEFORE menopause sets in.

Don’t EVER start smoking. Thankfully a non-smoker these days, but it took years to finally kick that foul habit.

After high school, study what you want, not what you think you should, ie, follow your dreams. Otherwise you might regret it.

 

Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.

 

I hate snobby people.

I love spending time on my own

I don’t suffer fools gladly

I’m not keen on French food, even though I’ve lived in France for the past 25 years, and it’s the gastronomic capital of the world.

Breast cancer almost-survivor!

 

What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?

 

Visit South America

See the Northern Lights

Go back to live in Australia permanently

Write lots more novels

Have a film made out of one of my books

  

Thanks for sharing with us Liza, as a lover of 1980’s music I can appreciate your music choices. I also hate snobby people and don’t suffer fools gladly, I can quite happily spend time on my own, just as long as I have plenty of books and tea (instead of wine). Good luck with achieving your bucket list, especially getting back to Australia and writing lots more novels. As we both know, life and moments can be short, so while it’s great to have dreams, making them reality is even better. 

 o – 0 – o

Liza’s Books 

Silent KookaburraThe Silent Kookaburra – see my review here

All eleven-year-old Tanya Randall wants is a happy family. But Mum does nothing besides housework, Dad’s always down the pub and Nanna Purvis moans at everyone except her dog. Then Shelley arrives –– the miracle baby who fuses the Randall family in love for their little gumnut blossom.

Tanya’s life gets even better when she meets an uncle she didn’t know she had. He tells her she’s beautiful and could be a model. Her family refuses to talk about him. But that’s okay, it’s their little secret.

Then one blistering summer day tragedy strikes, and the surrounding mystery and suspicion tear apart this fragile family web. 

Embracing the social changes of 1970s Australia, against a backdrop of native fauna and flora, The Silent Kookaburra is a haunting exploration of the blessings, curses and tyranny of memory. 

The Bone Angel Series

Spirit of Lost AngelsSpirit of Lost Angels

Her mother executed for witchcraft, her father dead at the hand of a noble, Victoire Charpentier vows to rise above her impoverished peasant roots.

Forced to leave her village of Lucie-sur-Vionne for domestic work in Paris, Victoire suffers gruesome abuse under the 18th century old regime. 

Imprisoned in France’s most pitiless madhouse, La Salpêtrière asylum, the desperate Victoire begins a romance with fellow prisoner Jeanne de Valois, infamous conwoman of the diamond necklace affair. With the help of the ruthless and charismatic countess, Victoire carves out a new life for herself.

Enmeshed in the fever of pre-revolutionary France, Victoire must find the strength to join the revolutionary force storming the Bastille. Is she brave enough to help overthrow the diabolical aristocracy?

As this historical fiction adventure traces Victoire’s journey, it follows too, the journey of an angel talisman through generations of the Charpentier family. 

Amidst the intrigue and drama of the French revolution, the women of Spirit of Lost Angels face tragedy and betrayal in a world where their gift can be their curse.

 

WolfsangelWolfsangel

Seven decades after German troops march into her village, Céleste Roussel is still unable to assuage her guilt. 
1943. German soldiers occupy provincial Lucie-sur-Vionne, and as the villagers pursue treacherous schemes to deceive and swindle the enemy, Céleste embarks on her own perilous mission as her passion for a Reich officer flourishes. 
When her loved ones are deported to concentration camps, Céleste is drawn into the vortex of this monumental conflict, and the adventure and danger of French Resistance collaboration. 
As she confronts the harrowing truths of the Second World War’s darkest years, Céleste is forced to choose: pursue her love for the German officer, or answer General de Gaulle’s call to fight for France. 
Her fate suspended on the fraying thread of her will, Celeste gains strength from the angel talisman bequeathed to her through her lineage of healer kinswomen. But the decision she makes will shadow the remainder of her days. 
A woman’s unforgettable journey to help liberate Occupied France, Wolfsangel is a stirring portrayal of the courage and resilience of the human mind, body and spirit.

 

Blood Rose AngelBlood Rose Angel 

1348. A bone-sculpted angel and the woman who wears it––heretic, Devil’s servant, saint.

Midwife Héloïse has always known that her bastard status threatens her standing in the French village of Lucie-sur-Vionne. Yet her midwifery and healing skills have gained the people’s respect, and she has won the heart of the handsome Raoul Stonemason. The future looks hopeful. Until the Black Death sweeps into France.

Terrified that Héloïse will bring the pestilence into their cottage, Raoul forbids her to treat its victims. Amidst the grief and hysteria, the villagers searching for a scapegoat, Héloïse must choose: preserve her marriage, or honour the oath she swore on her dead mother’s soul? And even as she places her faith in the protective powers of her angel talisman, she must prove she’s no Devil’s servant, her talisman no evil charm.

Héloïse, with all her tragedies and triumphs, celebrates the birth of modern medicine, midwifery and thinking in late medieval times. 

 

If you’re interested in what you’ve read you can sign up  for new book releases and receive a FREE copy of Ill-Fated Rose, the short story that inspired The Bone Angel French historical series.

Keep in touch with Liza on social media via:

WEBSITE

BLOG

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

TRISKELE BOOKS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bookchoice selection for April @BookchoiceEN

Described as “the digital book service in your pocket” they select eight e-books and audiobooks  for £3.99 a month. Yes, you read that correctly £3.99 a month (payable annually in advance). Every month the Bookchoice team selects a range of titles  – from bestsellers and award-winners to the latest literary hits and sends them direct to your email inbox.  Where books are offered in e-book and audiobook format, the offer isn’t for one or the other – it’s for both!! I subscribed in January and here are the titles for this month.

Titles in both e-book and audio-book format. 

 

christine-higdon_the-very-marrow-of-our-bones-eThe Very Marrow of our Bones by Christine Higdon 

Defiance, faith, and triumph in a heartrending novel about daughters and mothers

On a miserable November day in 1967, two women disappear from a working-class town on the Fraser River. The community is thrown into panic, with talk of drifters and murderous husbands. But no one can find a trace of Bette Parsons or Alice McFee. Even the egg seller, Doris Tenpenny, a woman to whom everyone tells their secrets, hears nothing.

Ten-year-old Lulu Parsons discovers something, though: a milk-stained note her mother, Bette, left for her father on the kitchen table. Wally, it says, I will not live in a tarpaper shack for the rest of my life . . .

Lulu tells no one, and months later she buries the note in the woods. At the age of ten, she starts running — and forgetting — lurching through her unraveled life, using the safety of solitude and detachment until, at fifty, she learns that she is not the only one who carries a secret.

Hopeful, lyrical, comedic, and intriguingly and lovingly told, The Very Marrow of Our Bones explores the isolated landscapes and thorny attachments bred by childhood loss and buried secrets.

 

martin-holmen_clinch-eClinch by Martin Holmen

You can put the gloves on the shelf but it takes a long time to wash their smell from your knuckles.

The writing’s on the wall for Harry Kvist. Once a notorious boxer, he now spends his days drinking, and his nights chasing debts amongst the pimps, prostitutes and petty thieves of 1930s Stockholm. When women can’t satisfy him, men can. But one biting winter’s night he pays a threatening visit to a debtor named Zetterberg, and when the man is found dead shortly afterwards, all eyes are on Kvist.

Determined to avoid yet another stint in prison, Kvist sets out to track down the only person who can clear his name. His hunt will lead him from the city’s slums, gangster hideouts and gambling dens to its most opulent hotels and elite nightclubs. It will bring him face to face with bootleggers and whores, aristocrats and murderers. It will be the biggest fight of his life.

 

graeme-macrae-burnet_his-bloody-project-eHis Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

The year is 1869. A brutal triple murder in a remote community in the Scottish Highlands leads to the arrest of a young man by the name of Roderick Macrae. A memoir written by the accused makes it clear that
he is guilty, but it falls to the country’s finest legal and psychiatric minds to uncover what drove him to commit such merciless acts of violence. Was he mad? Only the persuasive powers of his advocate stand between Macrae and the gallows.

Graeme Macrae Burnet tells an irresistible and original story about the provisional nature of truth, even when the facts seem clear. His Bloody Project is a mesmerising literary thriller set in an unforgiving landscape where the exercise of power is arbitrary.

 

annabel-port_annabel-vs-the-internet-eAnnabel vs the Internet by Annabel Port

Annabel Port has found herself in some bizarre and, let’s say, diverse situations. She’s sneaked around Google HQ in search of ball pools. She’s exhibited her own conceptual art at the Tate Modern (unofficially). She’s been a real-life shop mannequin at Mulberry.

There were the attempts to overthrow Prince Andrew and befriend Vladimir Putin, as well as become an erotic-fiction writer, a self-help guru and immortal.

“BUT WHY?” you might ask. “I mean, befriending Putin makes sense, but who’d want to write erotic fiction?!”

The answer is this: Annabel’s spent the bulk of her professional life working as a radio presenter, and some time ago, her co-presenter, Geoff Lloyd, grew concerned that she was slipping into a premature old age – although he mostly just wanted to make amusing radio. So, the challenges began, and Annabel transformed into someone more daring than she’d ever imagined.

Annabel vs the Internet is a hilarious, off-kilter and entirely true collection of Annabel’s favourite stories from these challenges that’ll leave you marvelling at the kindness of strangers and dumbfounded by Annabel’s audacity.

 

E-book only titles

 

ls-hilton_domina-eDomina by L S Hilton

Judith Rashleigh has made it. Living in luxury amidst the splendours of Venice, she’s finally enjoying the life she killed for.

But someone knows what Judith’s done.

Judith can only save herself by finding a priceless painting – unfortunately, one that she’s convinced doesn’t even exist.

And she’s not the only one seeking it.

This time, Judith isn’t in control. Outflanked and out-thought, outrun and outgunned, she faces an enemy more ruthless and more powerful than she ever imagined.

And if she doesn’t win, she dies.

 

james-swallow_exile-eExile by James Swallow

A vicious Serbian gang whose profits come from fake nuclear weapons. 

A disgraced Russian general, with access to the real thing. 

A vengeful Somali warlord, with a cause for which he’d let the world burn. 
A jaded government agency, without the information to stop him.

Only one man sees what’s coming. And even he might not be able to prevent it . . .

Racing breathlessly from uncharted CIA prisons to the skyscrapers of Dubai, from stormbeaten oil rigs off the African coast to the ancient caverns beneath the city of Naples, Marc Dane returns in the incredible new action thriller from the internationally bestselling author of NOMAD.

 

megan-miranda_all-the-missing-girls-eAll the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared without trace. Then a letter from her father arrives – ‘I need to talk to you. That girl. I saw that girl.’ Has her father’s dementia worsened, or has he really seen Corinne? Returning home, Nicolette must finally face what happened on that terrible night all those years ago.

Then, another young woman goes missing, almost to the day of the anniversary of when Corinne vanished. And like ten years ago, the whole town is a suspect.

Told backwards – Day 15 to Day 1 – Nicolette works to unravel the truth, revealing shocking secrets about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne.

 

rivers-solomon_an-unkindness-of-ghosts-eAn Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon

Aster has little to offer folks in the way of rebuttal when they call her ogre and freak. She’s used to the names; she only wishes there was more truth to them. If she were truly a monster, she’d be powerful enough to tear down the walls around her until nothing remains of her world.

Aster lives in the lowdeck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer, Aster learns there may be a way to improve her lot–if she’s willing to sow the seeds of civil war.

 

Audio-book only titles

 

lucinda-riley_the-pearl-sister-aThe Pearl Sister by Lucinda Riley

CeCe D’Aplièse has never felt she fitted in anywhere. Following the death of her father, the elusive billionaire Pa Salt – so-called by the six daughters he adopted from around the globe and named after the Seven Sisters star cluster – she finds herself at breaking point. Dropping out of art college, CeCe watches as Star, her beloved sister, distances herself to follow her new love, leaving her completely alone.

In desperation, she decides to flee England and discover her past; the only clues she has are a black-and-white photograph and the name of a woman pioneer who lived in Australia over one hundred years ago. En-route to Sydney, CeCe heads to the one place she has ever felt close to being herself: the stunning beaches of Krabi, Thailand. There amongst the backpackers, she meets the mysterious Ace, a man as lonely as she is and whom she subsequently realizes has a secret to hide . . .

A hundred years earlier, Kitty McBride, daughter of an Edinburgh clergyman, is given the opportunity to travel to Australia as the companion of the wealthy Mrs McCrombie. In Adelaide, her fate becomes entwined with Mrs McCrombie’s family, including the identical, yet very different, twin brothers: impetuous Drummond, and ambitious Andrew, the heir to a pearling fortune.

When CeCe finally reaches the searing heat and dusty plains of the Red Centre of Australia, she begins the search for her past. As something deep within her responds to the energy of the area and the ancient culture of the Aboriginal people, her creativity reawakens once more. With help from those she meets on her journey, CeCe begins to believe that this wild, vast continent could offer her something she never thought possible: a sense of belonging, and a home . . .

 

david-mitchell_the-bone-clocks-aThe Bone Clocks by David Mitchell 

One drowsy summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking . . .

The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly’s life from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland’s Atlantic coast as Europe’s oil supply dries up – a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes – daughter, sister, mother, guardian – is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.

Metaphysical thriller, meditation on mortality and chronicle of our self-devouring times, this kaleidoscopic novel crackles with the invention and wit that have made David Mitchell one of the most celebrated writers of his generation. Here is fiction at its most spellbinding and memorable best.

 

hp-maskew_on-the-house-aOn the House by H P Maskew

1838 and under the new Poor Law the destitute are now housed in union workhouses.

Two men unknown to each other seek to uncover the suspected mistreatment of inmates in a small Suffolk workhouse. Edgar Lawes is a local landowner and justice of the peace; Ambrose Hudson a London journalist. 

Establishing himself on the board Lawes is immediately disturbed by the inhumanity he finds. Hudson becomes an inmate and covertly keeps a journal of conditions and events which follow chronologically those of Edgar Lawes. 

The complacency of the owners is shattered by a suicide, closely followed by the brutal murder of a workhouse official. In the wake of these two deaths unlikely friendships are forged and lives are changed, but will it be for the better?

 

mark-billingham_buried-aBuried by Mark Billingham

A MISSING BOY
Teenager Luke Mullen was last seen getting into a car with an older woman. No one can understand why he has disappeared. His father – a former police officer – knows all too well that the longer he is missing, the more likely he is to turn up dead. 
A TERRIFYING VIDEO
Then Luke’s parents receive an anonymous video. It shows their son, eyes wide with terror, as a man advances towards him holding a syringe. 
A RACE AGAINST TIME
DI Tom Thorne recognises a psychopath when he sees one. And the scene on the tape chills him to the bone – he knows that a child’s life hangs in the balance, and that every minute counts…

 

A pretty impressive selection for £3.99 I think. If you want to take a look at Bookchoice you can find them here.  I would like to make it clear that I have no affiliation with Bookchoice, I’m choosing to share this with you, purely because I think it’s a great subscription package.

 

 

 

 

March Book Haul

Ooops a pretty bad month for acquisitions and by that you know I mean excessive and not that there was a paucity of good books. That said my total spend was still only £29.43 which is pretty good for what even for me was an impressive haul.

Kindle Purchases

 

Strange Disapppearance of a Bollywood StarThe Strange Disappearance of a Bollywood Star by Vaseem Khan

The enchanting new Baby Ganesh Agency novel sees Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick investigating the dark side of Bollywood.

Mumbai thrives on extravagant spectacles and larger-than-life characters.

But even in the city of dreams, there is no guarantee of a happy ending.

Rising star and incorrigible playboy Vikram Verma has disappeared, leaving his latest film in jeopardy. Hired by Verma’s formidable mother to find him, Inspector Chopra and his sidekick, baby elephant Ganesha, embark on a journey deep into the world’s most flamboyant movie industry.

As they uncover feuding stars, failed investments and death threats, it seems that many people have a motive for wanting Verma out of the picture.

And yet, as Chopra has long suspected, in Bollywood the truth is often stranger than fiction…

 

Tent, the Bucket and MeThe Tent, The Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy

For the 70s child, summer holidays didn’t mean the joy of CentreParcs or the sophistication of a Tuscan villa. They meant being crammed into a car with Grandma and heading to the coast. With just a tent for a home and a bucket for the necessities, we would set off on new adventures each year stoically resolving to enjoy ourselves.

For Emma Kennedy, and her mum and dad, disaster always came along for the ride no matter where they went. Whether it was being swept away by a force ten gale on the Welsh coast or suffering copious amounts of food poisoning on a brave trip to the south of France, family holidays always left them battered and bruised.

But they never gave up. Emma’s memoir, The Tent, The Bucket and Me, is a painfully funny reminder of just what it was like to spend your summer holidays cold, damp but with sand between your toes.

 

Smash All the WindowsSmash all the Windows by Jane Davis (on pre-order due 12th April)

For the families of the victims of the St Botolph and Old Billingsgate disaster, the undoing of a miscarriage of justice should be a cause for rejoicing. For more than thirteen years, the search for truth has eaten up everything. Marriages, families, health, careers and finances.

Finally, the coroner has ruled that the crowd did not contribute to their own deaths. Finally, now that lies have been unravelled and hypocrisies exposed, they can all get back to their lives.

If only it were that simple.

Tapping into the issues of the day, Davis delivers a highly charged work of metafiction, a compelling testament to the human condition and the healing power of art. Written with immediacy, style and an overwhelming sense of empathy, Smash all the Windows will be enjoyed by readers of How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall and How to be Both by Ali Smith.

 

Devil Rides OutThe Devil Rides Out by Paul O’Grady

Birkenhead, 1973. The eighteen-year-old Paul O’Grady gets ready for a big Saturday night out on the town. New white T-shirt, freshly ironed jeans, looking good. As he bids farewell to his mum, who’s on the phone to his auntie, and wanders off down the street in a cloud of aftershave, he hears her familiar cry: ‘Oh, the devil rides out tonight, Annie. The devil rides out!’

The further adventures of Paul O’Grady – following on from the million-copy-selling At My Mother’s Knee- are, if anything, even more hilarious and outrageous than what has come before.To say that The Devil Rides Out is action-packed is an understatement. Its extraordinary cast of characters includes lords and ladies, the legendary Vera, a serial killer, more prostitutes than you can shake a stick at and drag queens of every shape and size. Wickedly funny, often moving, and searingly honest, Paul’s tales of the unexpected will make your jaw drop and your hair stand on end. And you’ll laugh like a drain. The Devil Rides Out is one hell of a read!

 

Villa of SecretsVilla of Secrets by Patricia Wilson

Rebecca Neumanner’s marriage is on the brink of collapse, as her desire to be a mother becomes an obsession. Then she receives news from her estranged family in Rhodes. 

Called back to the beautiful Greek island of her birth, she realises how little she knows of the grandmother she has eluded for over a decade. Bubba has never spoken of the Nazi occupation during her youth, but there have always been whispers. What desperate measures did she take that terrible day in 1944 when her family was ripped apart? Can the rumour she had blood on her own hands really be true? But Bubba intends to take her secrets to the grave. 

However, as Rebecca arrives on Rhodes, bringing the promise of new life, this broken family must come together. The time has come to tell the truth about the darkest of days . . . 

 

Forsaken FriendA Forsaken Friend by Sue Featherstone & Susan Pape 

No-one said friendship was easy. 

Things can’t get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad’s factory isn’t bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother’s smallholding should do the trick – and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help. 

But then there’s Declan, not to mention Duck’s Arse back in Yorkshire… 

It’s not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend’s ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up – except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy’s opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren’t as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee’s juggling more roles – and emotions – than she ever imagined. 

Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn’t such a grand idea. 

 

Erotic stories for Punjabi WidowsErotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Every woman has a secret life…

When Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she’s shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals.

Yet to her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty – these are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands; being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories. But as they begin to open up to each other about womanhood, sexuality, and the dark secrets within the community, Nikki realises that the illicit nature of the class may place them all in danger.

East meets west and tradition clashes with modernity in a thought-provoking cross-cultural novel that might make you look again at the women in your life…

 

Remarkable ThingsRemarkable Things by Deidre Palmer

When Gus Albourne inherits Aunt Augusta’s cottage in the Sussex village of Hangburton, he finds himself with more than a property on his hands.
Why did Augusta make Gus, her adoptive nephew, her sole beneficiary, while his late brother, Robert, the natural son, was left out of the will? Robert’s widow, Elspeth, and disabled daughter, Jenny, are far more deserving than Gus, but when he tries to share the legacy with Elspeth, she refuses, hinting at a long-ago family feud involving Augusta.
It’s a mystery, one which Gus must solve in order to make amends for his aunt’s unfairness and help Elspeth. But an unexpected find in the cottage brings a new twist, leading him to the questionable story of his birth mother, Catherine.
With his own history fast unravelling before his eyes, the last thing Gus needs is a relationship, but when he meets Millie Hope it’s impossible to stay away. Millie feels the same about Gus, but until she finds her missing daughter, Karen, her life must stay on hold.
When Millie’s ex-husband dies, finding Karen becomes even more urgent. But there’s more than one barrier to the search. For a start, there’s Jack, Karen’s terrifying ex-boyfriend. And then there’s the reason Karen disappeared in the first place, which is less certain as time goes on.
Solving someone else’s problems seems a whole lot easier than solving your own, as Gus and Millie discover. But just as the curtain seems set to fall on their respective dramas, more shocks are in store, and Gus faces the hardest decision of his life.

 

Life's a Beach and ThenLife’s a Beach and Then … by Julia Roberts

Holly Wilson has landed a dream job but there is one proviso… she must keep it secret, and that means telling lies. Holly hates telling lies.
Her latest assignment has brought her to the paradise island of Mauritius where she meets a British couple, Robert and Rosemary, who share a tragic secret of their own.
The moment they introduce Holly to handsome writer, Philippe, she begins to fall in love, something she hasn’t allowed herself to do for twenty years.
But Philippe has not been completely honest and when Holly stumbles across the truth, she feels totally betrayed.

 

WildflowersThe Wildflowers by Harriet Evans

Tony and Althea Wilde. Glamorous, argumentative … adulterous to the core.

They were my parents, actors known by everyone. They gave our lives love and colour in a house by the sea – the house that sheltered my orphaned father when he was a boy.

But the summer Mads arrived changed everything. She too had been abandoned and my father understood why. We Wildflowers took her in.

My father was my hero, he gave us a golden childhood, but the past was always going to catch up with him … it comes for us all, sooner or later.

This is my story. I am Cordelia Wilde. A singer without a voice. A daughter without a father. Let me take you inside.

 

Lost GirlThe Lost Girl by Carol Drinkwater

Since her teenage daughter went missing four years ago, Kurtiz Ross has blamed and isolated herself. Until, out of the blue, Lizzie is sighted in Paris.

But within hours of her arrival, Kurtiz sees the City of Light plunged into terror.

Amid the fear and chaos, a hand reaches out. A sympathetic stranger offers to help a terrified mother find her daughter.

The other woman’s kindness – and her stories of her own love and loss in post-war Provence – shine unexpected light into the shadows.

The night may hold the answers to a mystery – but dare Kurtiz believe it could also bring a miracle?

 

My Grandfather's Eyes

My Grandfather’s Eyes by B.A. Spicer

 

·When Alex Crane stumbles upon an intriguing piece of family history, she is consumed by piecing together childhood memories which will ultimately redefine her place in the world.

 

 

Time to Say GoodbyeTime to say Goodbye by S D Robertson

HOW DO YOU LEAVE THE PERSON YOU LOVE THE MOST?

Will Curtis’s six-year-old daughter, Ella, knows her father will never leave her. After all, he promised her so when her mother died. And he’s going to do everything he can to keep his word.

What Will doesn’t know is that the promise he made to his little girl might be harder to keep than he imagined. When he’s faced with an impossible decision, Will finds that the most obvious choice might not be the right one.

But the future is full of unexpected surprises. And father and daughter are about to embark on an unforgettable journey together . . .

 

Bear with MeBear with Me by Jessica Redland

Jemma has the job of her dreams as curator for the children’s section of a museum in London. She spends each day surrounded by the one thing she’s absolutely passionate about: teddy bears. When boyfriend, Scott, shows a genuine interest in her passion instead of laughing at her for “playing with teddies all day”, she knows he’s a keeper.

Returning home to the North Yorkshire seaside town of Whitsborough Bay to celebrate her birthday, Jemma thinks she’s heading for her happy-ever-after when Scott unexpectedly proposes. So, a few days later, why isn’t he retuning her calls or responding to her texts?

Julie has always been a wonderful single mother to Jemma and her little brother, Sean. As owner of specialist teddy bear shop, Bear With Me, and the creative genius behind the successful range of Ju-Sea Bears, she inspires Jemma with her ability to balance a demanding career with home life. So why is the shop now in disarray and why is Sean so upset?

Sam thought he had his future all worked out. With a promising neurology career, a home, and a devoted fiancée, life was looking good. But now he’s all alone in a strange city, far from everyone and everything he cares about, struggling to rebuild the tatters of his life. Did he do the right thing by running away? What does the future hold and is he strong enough to face it?

Sometimes love finds us when we least expect it. But sometimes love leaves us, just as unexpectedly. When you’ve loved and lost, can you bear to let love in again?

 

American GirlThe American Girl by Rachael English

Boston 1968. Rose Moroney is seventeen, smart, spirited – and pregnant. She wants to marry her boyfriend. Her ambitious parents have other plans. She is sent to Ireland, their birthplace, to deliver her daughter in a Mother and Baby home – and part with her against her will.

Dublin 2013. Martha Sheeran’s life has come undone. Her marriage is over, and her husband has moved on with unsettling speed. Under pressure from her teenage daughter, she starts looking for the woman who gave her up for adoption more than forty years before.

As her search leads her to the heart of long-buried family secrets, old flame Paudie Carmody – now a well-known broadcaster – re-enters the frame.

 

Tuscan ChildThe Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen

In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal.

Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father’s funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.

Still dealing with the emotional wounds of her own personal trauma, Joanna embarks on a healing journey to Tuscany to understand her father’s history—and maybe come to understand herself as well. Joanna soon discovers that some would prefer the past be left undisturbed, but she has come too far to let go of her father’s secrets now…

 

Radium GirlsThe Radium Girls by Kate Moore

Ordinary women in 1920s America.
All they wanted was the chance to shine.
Be careful what you wish for.
 
‘The first thing we asked was, “Does this stuff hurt you?” And they said, “No.” The company said that it wasn’t dangerous, that we didn’t need to be afraid.’

1917. As a war raged across the world, young American women flocked to work, painting watches, clocks and military dials with a special luminous substance made from radium. It was a fun job, lucrative and glamorous – the girls themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered head to toe in the dust from the paint. They were the radium girls.
  As the years passed, the women began to suffer from mysterious and crippling illnesses. The very thing that had made them feel alive – their work – was in fact slowly killing them: they had been poisoned by the radium paint. Yet their employers denied all responsibility. And so, in the face of unimaginable suffering – in the face of death – these courageous women refused to accept their fate quietly, and instead became determined to fight for justice.
Drawing on previously unpublished sources – including diaries, letters and court transcripts, as well as original interviews with the women’s relatives  – The Radium Girls is an intimate narrative account of an unforgettable true story. It is the powerful tale of a group of ordinary women from the Roaring Twenties, who themselves learned how to roar.

 

Under a Maltese SkyUnder a Maltese Sky by Nicola Kearns

Being caught up in war is not what Ana Mellor expects when she lands in Malta to join her Wing-Commander father. In the midst of horror and destruction, the courage and resilience of the Maltese people is revealed as they struggle to survive. Ana falls in love but treachery intervenes with catastrophic consequences.

Meanwhile, disillusioned with Ireland’s fight for political independence, Ernie McGuill leaves home to join the British Army. Due to the outbreak of war he trains as a fighter pilot and is posted to Malta.It is against this background that the characters of Ana, Ernie and many others are interwoven in a story of betrayal and intrigue. This is not unravelled until generations later when two women make a journey to Malta – a journey that is to have astonishing consequences.

 

Biscuit GirlsThe Biscuit Girls by Hunter Davies

Ivy, Dulcie, Barbara, Ann, Dorothy and Jean all had different reasons for applying to work at Carr’s biscuits, but once they had put on their overalls and walked through the factory gates they discovered a community full of life, laughter and friendship.

To those who didn’t know, the biscuit factory that towered over Carlisle might look like just another slice of the industrial North, a noisy and chaotic place with workers trooping in and out at all hours. For the biscuit girls it was a place where they worked hard, but also where they gossiped, got into scrapes and made lifelong friends. Outside the factory walls there might be difficult husbands or demanding kids, and sometimes even heartbreak and tragedy, but they knew there would always be an escape from their troubles at Carr’s.

Some, like Barbara, only applied because she needed the extra cash, until things got a bit easier at home. Her supervisor cross examined her about who would be looking after the kids while she was at work, but let her have the job. Like many of the women who joined up ‘temporary’ Barbara went on to stay at Carrs for 32 years.

Beginning in the 1940s, these heartwarming and vividly-remembered stories have all been told by the women themselves to Hunter Davies.

 

Anglesey BlueAnglesey Blue by Dylan H Jones

It’s not the homecoming Detective Inspector Tudor Manx was expecting, but solving the case is just the start of his problems.

Recently transferred from the London Met to the North Wales Constabulary, Detective Inspector Tudor Manx has come to the Isle of Anglesey hoping for a quiet life. 

But his hopes are dashed when a brutally mutilated body is found crucified to the bow of a fishing boat sending shockwaves through the peaceful community. 

Manx’s faces pressure to solve the case quickly equipped with an inexperienced team.

Is the body a message or a premonition of more murders to come?

Adding to his mounting problems, Manx’s troubled past returns to haunt him. Manx left the island after the disappearance of his younger sister, Miriam; a cold case that still remains unsolved.

Can Manx solve the case before the body count rises?

How will he cope when he is forced to choose between his family and his duty as a police officer?

 

Still DarkStill Dark by Alex Gray

New Year’s Eve should be a time for celebrating. But for Detective Superintendent William Lorimer, this is one night he will never forget…

Called to a house after gunshots are reported, the carnage Lorimer finds there leaves him traumatised and questioning his future with Police Scotland.

Meanwhile, the body count is rising on Glasgow’s streets. A number of known addicts are dying from accidental overdoses, but something’s not adding up. Where would the city’s poorest residents get hold of high-quality morphine?

As Lorimer struggles to return to duty, he spots a link between the deaths and a previous case involving the euthanasia of vulnerable patients. It seems the man responsible has resurfaced – and this time he’s got the backing of a dangerous criminal from Glasgow’s underworld.

Can Lorimer and his team get the killer off the streets for good before more innocent people die?

 

 

Small weeping

A Small Weeping by Alex Gray

When a murdered prostitute is found in a Glasgow train station, DCI Lorimer is perplexed by the ritualistic arrangement of her body. It isn’t long before there is another murder and he realises there’s no time to waste if he is to stop Glasgow’s latest serial killer.

A taut, suspense-filled thriller, A Small Weeping takes the reader on a gripping journey from the inner city to the wilds of the Scottish Isles, and far into the darkest depths of human nature.

 

Cafe at seashell coveThe Cafe at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke

Welcome to the Café at Seashell Cove, where you’ll find irresistible home-baked cakes, smiling friendly faces – and maybe even a second chance at love…

When Cassie Maitland needs a holiday from her glamorous but stressful job in event management, she escapes home to gorgeous Seashell Cove, where her family’s cosy café sits perched on the cliffs above sparkling waves and golden sand.

But a lot has changed while Cassie’s been away: her parents have transformed their tired café into a welcoming haven, her friends Meg and Tilly have whole new lives, and old flame Danny’s twinkling eyes and winning smile make Cassie feel even more flustered than they used to.

Keen to throw herself back into local life, Cassie starts to run themed events – including a not entirelysuccessful cat-café day, complete with dozens of felines. Luckily Danny is always around to lend a helping hand, and Cassie soon begins to wonder if her life in London was really all she made it out to be…

Could a new start in Seashell Cove be exactly what Cassie needs?

 

Bluethroat morningBluethroat Morning by Jacqui Lofthouse – pre-order (due 22 May)

Alison Bliss, celebrity model and critically acclaimed writer, walks into the sea one ‘bluethroat morning’. In death she becomes a greater icon than in life, and the Norfolk village where she lived is soon a place of pilgrimage. Six years later her husband Harry, a schoolteacher, is still haunted by her suicide and faithful to her memory. Until he meets Helen and they fall in love.

Harry and Helen’s relationship initiates a return to the scene of Alison’s death where they meet ninety-eight year old Ern Higham, and a tale is revealed that has been generations in the making. As Harry pieces together a tragic history and finally confronts his own pain, he discovers that to truly move forward, first he must understand the past …

 

Goat in the MezeGoat in the Meze by Katerina Nikolas

A hapless American couple who are stranded in the bonkers backwater Greek village of Astakos are befuddled and bemused by the antics of the villagers who charm and outrage them with their quirky ways. 
The elusive underwear thief is busy plundering the local washing lines hoping his identity will never be revealed, whilst the Pappas is up to his neck in nefarious schemes. Mail order Russian bride Masha is indulged by that old fool Vasilis in her passion for plastic surgery, and Stavroula plots to extricate herself from her marriage to the supposedly dead Toothless Tasos. 
Not a day goes by in Astakos without deviousness and humour as part of the scenic backdrop. 
The humorous antics of life in a fictional Greek village have the feel good factor to make you laugh-out-loud.

 

Poisoned PenPoisoned Pen by Anthea Cohen

Shelbourne was a pretty little village, a place where everyone knew everyone else. 

But, as would be expected, gossip was rife and little was left unknown. Especially when there were a bunch of older women who enjoyed a gossip or two over coffee mornings. 

All particularly normal for a small village, but when someone starts to send notes in white envelopes, things take a more sinister turn. Was someone having a bit of fun? Were they just bored? Or was there more to these notes? 

When Jane Fisk overhears her friends talking about her son, she is shocked. Is that what they thought about him? Just because he was forty and still living at home with her? Surely they knew that he was all she had left of a turbulent relationship. 

Dorothy and Michaela, two friends living together, also receive a note that throws their long-term friendship into disarray. Hugh Ainsworth knows his wife wasn’t cut out for the parish life, but she was still with him, wasn’t she? And poor Carmen, the gossip hub of the village … 

All it takes is a series of typed notes to send a calm village into a frenzy that would tarnish its reputation and change the lives of the residents forever. 

 

Little Italian BakeryThe Little Italian Bakery by Valentina Cebeni – pre-order due 19 April

The scent of freshly baked biscuits, lemon and aniseed reminds Elettra of her mother’s kitchen. But her mother is in a coma, and the family bakery is failing. Elettra is distraught; she has many unanswered questions about her mother’s childhood – Edda was a secretive woman. The only clue is a family heirloom: a necklace inscribed with the name of an island.

Elettra buys a one-way ticket to that island, just off the coast of Sardinia. Once there, she discovers a community of women, each lost in their own way. They live in a crumbling convent, under threat from the local mayor and his new development plan. It is within the convent’s dark corridors and behind its secret doors that Elettra discovers a connection to her mother’s past. She also falls in love again: with friendship, baking and adventure.

 

In Strangers' HousesIn Strangers’ Houses by Elizabeth Mundy

There are some crimes you can’t sweep under the carpet…

Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner working in London, knows all too well about cleaning up other people’s messes. When her friend Timea disappears, she suspects one of her clients is to blame. However, the police don’t share her suspicions and it is left to Lena to turn sleuth and find her friend.

Searching through their houses as she scrubs their floors, Lena desperately tries to find out what has happened. Only Cartwright, a police constable new to the job, believes that this will lead to the truth – and together they begin to uncover more of Islington’s seedy underbelly than they bargained for.

But Lena soon discovers it’s not just her clients who have secrets. And as she begins to unravel Timea’s past she starts to wonder if she really knew her friend at all.

 

Love at the Italian LakeLove at the Italian Lake by Darcie Boleyn

Sophia Bertoni discovers her boyfriend in bed with another woman, and realizes her life is going nowhere. Leaving her high-pressure job, she travels to Italy to stay with her grandmother while she figures out her next move.

When Sophia – quite literally – bumps into devastatingly handsome Joe Lancaster her plans are turned upside down. As the two realize they’re both spending the summer in the same town, a love affair seems on the cards.

But Sophia and Joe are both burdened by family secrets. Despite their attraction, will the sun set on Sophia and Joe’s romance – or will they find love at the Italian lake?

 

Baobab Beach RetreatThe Baobab Beach Retreat by Kate Frost

Tanzania. A place to be happy, to sleep uncovered with the sound of waves crashing to the shore. For Connie Stone, it’s a place to heal. 

When Connie leaves behind a cheating husband and heartache in the UK for her aunt’s beach retreat, the last thing she wants is for her life to once again be complicated by men. 

Yet when her past follows her to Tanzania, her time to heal is short-lived and a reckless decision shatters her hopes for a fresh start. An unexpected return to the UK reveals a long-hidden family secret that Connie has to deal with before she can decide the direction her life should take. 

Getting over a broken heart was never going to be easy. Can Connie put the past to rest and find peace and love in a country far from home?

 

Too Clever by HalfToo Clever by Half by Will North

The naked, maimed body found floating off the coast of Cornwall’s English Channel presents a vexing puzzle for Detective Inspector Morgan Davies and her Scene of Crimes Manager, Calum West. Post-mortem confirms the dead man’s wounds are evidence of torture, but without a name, a crime scene, or a motive, the detectives are stymied. 

Two days later, a woman reports her partner, Archie Hansen, missing. A farmer and Druid, Archie had made a dangerous discovery he dared not share with anyone. Is he the anonymous floater?

Unraveling this mystery of betrayal, greed, and revenge will test the investigative skills and intuition of Davies and West as never before. With so little evidence, can they outsmart a wickedly clever killer?

 

Beauty of PerhapsThe Beauty of Perhaps by Eryn Scott

Teacher required. Must have boat.

Twenty-eight year old Molly is a predictable, no surprises, plan ahead kind of girl, and the last person who should answer the ad for a teaching job on the remote Scottish island of Lilliebrae. She’s never been the type of adventurous spirit that would even consider such a radical change. And truthfully, she only took the job after her life in America went from bad to worse.

From day one on the island, Molly’s sure she’s not meant to stay. When a rugged journeyman arrives, things get even more complicated and she’s pushed even further outside her comfort zone. With his help, Molly works on finding the beauty of perhaps. 

In this snapshot of modern day Scotland, Eryn Scott weaves one woman’s journey of self discovery with Scottish tradition and a sprinkling of windswept love.

 

Flip-Flops, Fiesta & FlamencoFlip-Flops, Fiesta and Flamenco by Donna Hepburn

Abby and Lou have been BFF’s since the first day at Uni. Despite being opposites in both looks and personality they were drawn to each other, sharing a flat, dreams and a love of animals. 

Through the ensuing years despite heartache and divorce, they remain as close as ever. 

Abby would be the first to admit her life needs an injection of fun. Middle-aged, divorced and slightly overweight, she’s a mother/general dogsbody to two layabout sons, a pink-haired Amazonian on-off girlfriend and an incorrigible British Bulldog named Chester. Her lifelong dream of living in Spain’s glorious sunshine has been long forgotten or has it? 

Lou was stuck in her own rut, never fully recovered from a tragedy in her past. A long list of online dating disasters had left her wondering if she will ever find love again. Her cool ice-maiden persona is shattered along with her cat’s eardrums when she wins £400,000 on an online bingo site. Could this be the answer to both their prayers? 

Flip-Flops packed, they embark on their adventure, but it isn’t all sun and sangria. Warring pets, new neighbours, cooking experiments, scary wildlife and an escapee Donkey named Santos combine to make it an unforgettable Summer. 

Can their friendship survive or will the Mediterranean dream become a nightmare?

 

Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy EndingsMiss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings: an Anthology- on pre-order due 18 May

Sometimes what you need is right there waiting for you…

Miss Moonshine’s Wonderful Emporium has stood in the pretty Yorkshire town of Haven Bridge for as long as anyone can remember. With her ever-changing stock, Miss Moonshine has a rare gift for providing exactly what her customers need: a fire opal necklace that provides a glimpse of a different life; a novel whose phantom doodler casts a spell over the reader; a music box whose song links love affairs across the generations. One thing is for certain: after visiting Miss Moonshine’s quirky shop, life is never the same again…

Nine romantic novelists from Yorkshire and Lancashire, including best-selling and award-winning authors, have joined together to create this collection of uplifting stories guaranteed to warm your heart. This intriguing mix of historical and contemporary romances will make you laugh, cry, and believe in the happy-ever-after.

 

Saints for all OccasionsSaints for all Occasions by Courtney Sullivan

Nora and Theresa Flynn are twenty-one and seventeen when they leave their small village in Ireland and journey to America. Nora is the responsible sister; she’s shy and serious and engaged to a man she isn’t sure that she loves. Theresa is gregarious; she is thrilled by their new life in Boston and besotted with the fashionable dresses and dance halls on Dudley Street. But when Theresa ends up pregnant, Nora is forced to come up with a plan – a decision with repercussions they are both far too young to understand.

Fifty years later, Nora is the matriarch of a big Catholic family with four grown children: John, a successful, if opportunistic, political consultant; Bridget, privately preparing to have a baby with her girlfriend; Brian, at loose ends after a failed baseball career; and Patrick, Nora’s favorite, the beautiful boy who gives her no end of heartache. Estranged from her sister and cut off from the world, Theresa is a cloistered nun, living in an abbey in rural Vermont. Until, after decades of silence, a sudden death forces Nora and Theresa to confront the choices they made so long ago.

 

The CactusThe Cactus by Sarah Haywood

People aren’t sure what to make of Susan Green – family and colleagues find her prickly and hard to understand, but Susan makes perfect sense to herself, and that’s all she needs. 
At 45, she thinks her life is perfect, as long as she avoids her feckless brother, Edward – a safe distance away in Birmingham. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits.

Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control.

When she discovers that her mother’s will inexplicably favours her brother, Susan sets out to prove that Edward and his equally feckless friend Rob somehow coerced this dubious outcome. But when problems closer to home become increasingly hard to ignore, she finds help in the most unlikely of places.

 

Eden's Garden

Eden’s Garden by Juliet Greenwood 

Two women struggle with love, family duty, long-buried secrets and their own creative ambitions. But more than a hundred years ago Ann left a trail through London, Cornwall and Wales that leads Carys on a tantalising and increasingly shocking search for the truth.

What is the connection of the dilapidated north Wales estate, Plas Eden with her childhood sweetheart and her own family history, and what are the secrets of the statues in the garden?

 

Out of the AshesOut of the Ashes by Vanessa Evetts

What would you do if you lost everyone you loved overnight?
How do you keep living when everything in you is screaming out in pain?

GRACE KINGSTON had it all. A passionate marriage, two gorgeous children and a career she loved until they were ripped from her life in a hit and run.
Thrust into a life she didn’t choose, she battles under the weight of her grief, and the conflicting desire to honour their memory. When she finds a handwritten bucket list in her son’s bedroom, she sells everything she owns and takes off on a quest that transforms her.

Conquering some of her greatest fears and insecurities, across three continents, Grace is faced with a decision. Does she keep living her life in survival mode, clinging to the memory of her husband and children, or does she release them from her tight grasp and build a new life without them? 
What will it take to claim a life, filled to the brim with the passion and joy she desires? This raw, breathtaking story delves into the darkest places of grief and reveals the beauty that rises out of the ashes.

 

Inside the O'BriensInside the OBriens by Lisa Genova

Joe O’Brien is a Boston cop; his physical stamina and methodical mind have seen him through decades policing the city streets, while raising a family with his wife Rosie. When he starts making uncharacteristic errors, he attributes them to stress. Finally, he agrees to see a doctor and is handed a terrifying, unexpected diagnosis: Huntington’s disease.

Not only is Joe’s life set to change beyond recognition, but each of his four grown children has a fifty-fifty chance of inheriting the disease. Observing her potential future play out in his escalating symptoms, his pretty yoga teacher daughter Katie wrestles with how to make the most of the here and now, and how to care for her dad who is, inside, always an O’Brien.

 

The Second CupThe Second Cup by Sarah Marie Graye

Would your life unravel if someone you knew committed suicide? Theirs did. 

Faye knows her heart still belongs to her first love, Jack. She also knows he might have moved on, but when she decides to track him down, nothing prepares her for the news that he’s taken his own life. 

Faye is left wondering how to move forward – and whether or not Jack’s best friend Ethan will let her down again. And the news of Jack’s death ripples through the lives of her friends too. 

Abbie finds herself questioning her marriage, and wondering if she was right to leave her first love behind. Poor Olivia is juggling her job and her boyfriend and trying to deal with a death of her own. And Jack’s death has hit Beth the hardest, even though she never knew him. 

Is Beth about to take her own life too? 

 

100 Tiny ThreadsA Hundred Tiny Threads by Judith Barrow

It’s 1911 and Winifred Duffy is a determined young woman eager for new experiences, for a life beyond the grocer’s shop counter ruled over by her domineering mother.

The scars of Bill Howarth’s troubled childhood linger. The only light in his life comes from a chance encounter with Winifred, the girl he determines to make his wife.

Meeting her friend Honora’s silver-tongued brother turns Winifred’s heart upside down. But Honora and Conal disappear, after a suffrage rally turns into a riot, and abandoned Winifred has nowhere to turn but home.

The Great War intervenes, sending Bill abroad to be hardened in a furnace of carnage and loss. When he returns his dream is still of Winifred and the life they might have had… Back in Lancashire, worn down by work and the barbed comments of narrow-minded townsfolk, Winifred faces difficult choices in love and life.

 

We Were the Salt of the SeaWe Were the Salt of the Sea by Roxanne Bouchard

As Montrealer Catherine Day sets foot in a remote fishing village and starts asking around about her birth mother, the body of a woman dredges up in a fisherman’s nets. Not just any woman, though: Marie Garant, an elusive, nomadic sailor and unbridled beauty who once tied many a man’s heart in knots. Detective Sergeant Joaquin Morales, newly drafted to the area from the suburbs of Montreal, barely has time to unpack his suitcase before he’s thrown into the deep end of the investigation. On Quebec’s outlying Gaspé Peninsula, the truth can be slippery, especially down on the fishermen’s wharves. Interviews drift into idle chit-chat, evidence floats off with the tide and the truth lingers in murky waters. It’s enough to make DS Morales reach straight for a large whisky…

Both a dark and consuming crime thriller and a lyrical, poetic ode to the sea, We Were the Salt of the Sea is a stunning, page-turning novel, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

 

Purple ShroudPurple Shroud by Susan Parry 

The body of a man lies half-hidden in the purple heather, stabbed to death on the North York Moors. Detective Sergeants Nina Featherstone and Hazel Fuller set out to discover his identity and locate the mystery woman who accompanied him on the Coast to Coast Walk before disappearing without trace. When another body is found on a rifle range near Catterick, they begin to suspect a military connection.
While Mills assists with the forensic evidence, she remains preoccupied with another investigation – to discover who shot the red kite and left poisoned bait on the moor that nearly killed Earl.

 

El Camino de SantiagoEl Camino de Santiago by Simon Green

*UPDATED FOR 2018 *
If you have ever wanted to hear about what it’s like to walk the Spanish pilgrimage ‘El Camino de Santiago’, about the preparations needed, the things to pack (and not to pack) and get real first-hand information quickly and easily, then you can now learn more through the experiences of a pilgrim who walked 220kms in 9 days.

Read the ‘secret diary’ documenting the thoughts and happenings, the people met and the events we found on the way to Santiago de Compostela. 

Including lots of practical information learnt from day-to-day experience as well as post-walk thoughts from several weeks after returning home.

 

The Lighthouse Keeper's DaughterThe Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Cherry Radford – pre-order due 5 April

There’s someone out there, and an unforeseen, irresistible connection…

After the break-up of her marriage, Imogen escapes to her aunt’s converted lighthouse on Beachy Head. Writing for a tedious online magazine but hoping to start a novel, she wants to be alone until she finds an entrancing flamenco CD in her borrowed car and contacts the artist via Twitter. It turns out that actor-musician Santiago needs help with English, and is soon calling her profesora.

Through her window, the other lighthouse winks at her across the sea. The one where her father was a keeper, until he mysteriously drowned there in 1982. Her aunt is sending extracts from his diary, and Imogen is intrigued to learn that, like her and Santi, her father had a penfriend.

Meanwhile, despite their differences Imogen is surrounded by emotional and geographical barriers, Santi surrounded by family and land-locked Madrid their friendship develops. So, she reads, did her father’s but shocking revelations cause Imogen to question whether she ever really knew him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five on Friday with Keith Foskett @KeithFoskett

Today I’m delighted to introduce Keith Foskett. After I walked the Camino Ingles in 2012 I became obsessed with all things Camino and Keith’s book on his Camino journey was one of the first I downloaded. While Keith has walked many miles since, I’m afraid I haven’t. Keith’s latest book, is a memoir called High and Low, telling how he hiked 600 miles across Scotland, while coming to terms with depression.

Copy of Copy of LR-Edit-SAVEDFORWEB(1-of-1)-2.jpg

Author bio:

Keith Foskett is a long-distance hiker and the author of five books on his adventures. He was born, and still lives in West Sussex, where his love of the outdoors was nurtured on the South Downs. He quit his decorating job in 2016 to concentrate on writing.

 

Which 5 pieces of music/songs would you include in the soundtrack to your life and why?

music-score-notes.jpg

Society by Eddie Vedder  – One of my favourite movies is Into the Wild. It epitomises everything I believe in, namely chasing freedom, carving your own path, and escaping the nine to five. The lyrics reflect this, especially where he sings about materialism.

Brass in Pocket by The Pretenders – There’s no deep meaning in this song. I like it because it was the first song I heard that epitomised ‘cool’.

Up until Chrissie Hynde appeared in my life, my staple musical diet consisted of my parent’s favourites such as Max Bygraves, Frank Sinatra, and Glen Miller. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but I needed a more rebellious sound, and look, which The Pretenders offered.

Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush – I don’t know what Kate is singing about (as with most of her songs), I just like the beat and her voice.

Enola Gay by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – I was a teenager in the eighties when I started getting into music. Many genres I hated, for example punk, but I love it now. I was a dedicated new romantic, grey stay-pressed trousers, flicked blonde hair, the lot.

OMD were a favourite, and I loved Enola Gay. It wasn’t until a few years ago I discovered it’s the name of the US bomber that dropped the nuclear bomb of Hiroshima. Suddenly, despite it’s upbeat rhythm, the song became melancholic.

The Logical Song by Supertramp – I first heard of Supertramp when my sister bought their Breakfast in America album, and I liked the cover (I didn’t even know who they were).

I’ve been listening to them for years and The Logical Song was always a favourite. This is one song I just like the sound of, but the lyrics also strike a chord. They are very apt to my life, especially when I was growing up, and they helped through a harsh time in 2017.

Highlight 5 things (apart from family and friends) you’d find it hard to live without.

 

Walking in the outdoors.  What can I tell you? It’s what I love to do, and all my books are hiking related. If I couldn’t walk, I’d go nuts. It’s my escape, where I think, how I stay fit. I need the fresh air, the sun, the headspace, and the escape. Sometimes, I need to be as far away from society as possible.

Solitude. I’ll repeat the word, solitude. When I tell people this, they assume I mean loneliness. I don’t, and there’s a big difference.

Loneliness is struggling with isolation. Solitude is being comfortable in your own company, without the need to socialise, and I need it large doses.

Coffee.  Anyone who knows me will tell you I love coffee. I can’t put my finger on it. It’s the taste obviously, the act of brewing, that’s it’s a natural food source.

Believe me, if I don’t have my coffee first thing, you don’t want to be around me!

Pets.  I love animals. I’ve always had cats and a dog when I was younger. I plan on getting a dog this year, which I haven’t done before because I was often hiking in other countries, or travelling.

I’m curious about the communication, and how they perceive us. OK, so cats just want food and somewhere warm to sleep but I still wonder what they think of us. And dogs are way more intelligent than we give them credit for.

You can’t beat the unconditional love, especially with dogs.

The summer.  I struggle with the winter, I hate the lack of light and the cold. I live for the time between April and October. Give me sun, and lots of it, I adore walking when the sun is shining.

 

Can you offer 5 pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?

 

Stop procrastinating.  If I need to make a big decision nowadays, I will weigh it up, but I’ll make that decision quicker and stick to it. When I was younger, I’d spend ages speculating on the pros and cons.

Even when I knew that something could work, I still hesitated. Now, if it feels right I do it, and most of the time my decisions work out.

Don’t put things off because you think you’re too old.  I remember in my late thirties, I wanted to have a go at being a pro-cyclist. You know, Tour de France and all that. But, I didn’t because at 38 I assumed I was too old. Now, a few years older, I kick myself because I could have.

OK, so we can’t be a football pro aged 67, but we’re capable of wonderful things, and for my life at least, age is no longer an excuse.

Make decisions with your heart, not your head. I think most of us look at life logically, not emotionally. This makes sense, I do it myself. If we’re looking at holidays, we check the climate, the cost, etc.

Sometimes, decisions and plans don’t stack up logically, but we feel compelled to do them anyway. Conversely, other things seem great in our heads, but our hearts say no.

All I can say is that my heart is usually right and I wish I’d followed that advice when I was younger.

Don’t be afraid to be creative. It pains me to see how our education system works. Our kids are gently ushered towards ‘safe’ careers. Often our parents point us towards the logical employment choices.

The consequence is many of us are in jobs we detest, I was for years. I love what I do because it’s creative. Many people view working creatively as risky, and it is, but the rewards are greater.

I go back to the point above, working as a writer was a heart decision and I always encourage others to follow their creative passion. It often works out.

Listen to others, but make your life your ownI was easily swayed by others when I grew up. I thought everyone else knew better than I did, and a lot of the time they did. But, I wished I’d chased my dreams more.

 

Tell us 5 things that most people don’t know about you.

I listen to Max Bygraves. Just kidding. Interesting question!

I power nap. I reach mid-afternoon and fade; my concentration leaves me and I tire. I power nap for 30 minutes most days and I’ve got it down to such an art that I can time it without an alarm, to within a minute.

It feels fantastic afterwards. The Japanese encourage afternoon rest because it’s proven to increase productivity.

I suffer from depression. You might know this because my new book is about depression but I only made it public knowledge last year.

I’d unknowingly suffered for several years before finally realising in 2016. I’m aware of the factors in my life that cause it, and I’ve made positive steps to avoid them, which in turn, has made me a better person.

In a weird way, depression has actually helped me.

I meditate. I missed the meditation thing. You know how we go through life and some things completely evade us, like a great movie we never heard about? Well, that was me and meditation.

I started meditating to help with my depression, but found that I could also escape my head noise, as I call it. My head buzzes with ideas, most of them completely irrelevant. Occasionally I need to empty my head of everything, and the only way I can shut it up is by meditating. The peace and quiet up there is incalculable!

Nutrition fascinates me. I love cooking and my diet is pretty healthy because it makes me feel great, and I’m looking after my body. It’s amazing how certain foods can help us, and I’m constantly trying new things.

I’m interested in the unexplainable. UFO’s, the paranormal, witches, you name it. If science can’t explain something, it fascinates me. I’d love to write a book about Wicca especially, travelling around the UK meeting those who still practice it. I’d like to know if it can help us, if spells truly work and if there’s any satanic connections.

 

What are the first 5 things you’d have on your bucket list?

 

A Border Collie. I plan on ticking this one in 2018. My travels put me off getting a dog but now I have no major travel plans, I want a one, and it has to be a Collie.

Live on a narrow boat. With the price of property in the UK, especially where I live, I have little choice. I had a mortgage when I was younger, but I sold the place and have struggled to buy anywhere since. For the price of a house deposit in south-east England, I can buy a narrow boat.

I love the simplicity, the space to have only what you need, and the adventure opportunities are endless!

Have a property abroad where I can escape to in winter. This goes back to my love of the summer and escaping the winter. If I’m ever lucky enough to afford another place to live, I’d do it. Probably southern Spain, somewhere with a warmer climate over winter.

Have a beer and a chat with Nicholas Crane. This man single-handedly got me travelling and writing. As a teenager, I watched him on Blue Peter, mesmerised as he talked about plans to run in the Himalayas. He cycled up Kilimanjaro, and hiked some amazing routes, including from Spain to Turkey which took 18 months.

In my mind, his name should be in the dictionary under ‘wanderlust’. His adventures encouraged me to follow mine.

Write a book in a different genre. I write hiking memoirs, and I love that because it’s my passion, so I hope my writing shines.

However, I have a good imagination as well so I’d like to write fiction. Plus, there’s always the book about wicca.

 

A few words from Keith.

I admit to having an idiot moment when I first read the questions, I couldn’t understand why they all started with ‘What are the first five things’, or ‘Highlight five things’. I thought there can’t have been much effort going into those questions, until I read the title – Five on Friday.

Like I say, one of my idiot moments!

Many thanks to Jill for asking me take part. Interesting exercise! Funny how I can happily knock out 100,000 words for a book, then get stumped by a few questions, it wasn’t easy!

 

Thanks for taking part Keith, and I’m pleased they proved to be not so effortless as you first thought. I will admit to my own idiot moment when I read Nicholas Crane and actually thought of Nicholas Cage! – I couldn’t understand why on earth you’d want a beer and a chat with him (apologies if you actually wouldn’t mind). I’m hoping you get your dog soon, life is so much more fun with a four legged companion.  I also know someone selling a doer upper narrow boat if you need a challenge as well as boat!  With your interest in witches you might be interested to know that technically I am one, though not of the Wicca persuasion. I only discovered recently that any female who has completed the Lyke Wake Walk is called a witch!

  o – 0 – o

Keith’s Books 

High and LowHigh and Low – see my review here

Depression threw him off course. A detour set his wilder side free.

An amusing and life-affirming travel memoir, concluding with tips for managing depressive episodes.

Keith Foskett refused to let his dark mood define his limitations. Unknowingly suffering with depression, he took to hiking the wilds of Scotland to face the inner demons that threatened to gnaw him to the bone. From the craggy Highlands of the Cape Wrath Trail and West Highland Way, to the canals criss-crossing the low country, 600 miles of unforgiving hiking terrain called his name.

Keith repositioned his compass to what really matters in life. As laughter became his travelling companion, he discovered that when dealing with emotional baggage, it’s best to pack light. Pushing his mind and body past breaking point, his journey could set a brave new course for coping with depression.

Battling ferocious weather, the ubiquitous Scottish midge, strange-sounding local delicacies and substandard TV sets, this is one man’s battle to conquer the wilds of Scotland, and his own psychological demons.

 

travelled-farTravelled Far – see my review here

Adventure addict Keith Foskett adores travel and the outdoors. A veteran of El Camino de Santiago in Spain, the Pacific Crest, Appalachian Trail and more, he follows a different lifestyle. Adventure and chasing dreams come first, convention and acceptance are second.
In this book he shares a collection of trips, thoughts and observations from his award-winning blog. From the extremes of the New Mexico wilderness to his beloved South Downs in England, he observes the world with clarity, hope, daydreams and humour.
With tales of local history, the changing of the seasons, facing death and pursuing his chosen path, this is a glimpse into one man’s unfaltering passion to follow his dreams.

 

Balancing on BlueBalancing on Blue

Short-listed for Outdoor Book of the Year by The Great Outdoors Magazine

Every year thousands of adventurers attempt to hike all 2,180 miles of the gruelling and unforgiving Appalachian Trail. Around five months later, beaten and bruised, those who finish are known as thru-hikers.

Keith Foskett weaves a true-life tale that’s as thought-provoking as it is entertaining. Accompanied by an array of eclectic characters – including a world-champion juggler, a drug dealer, and a sex-starved builder from Minnesota – he takes the reader on a compelling adventure that pushes the limits of both endurance and imagination.

During his five months living in the woods, Foskett’s psychological apprehensions are stretched to the limit against the wild elements of nature. By turns humorous and harrowing, his journey allows him to overcome his fears while reflecting on the man he’s meant to be. His adventure weaves a route through some of America’s wildest landscapes and history, and is told with insight, humour and reflection.

Perhaps he too will tame the most renowned long-distance hiking trail in the world, and emerge as a thru-hiker.

 

last EnglishmanThe Last Englishman

There are few who can walk a thousand miles in Keith Foskett’s shoes. One can easily forgive such unwillingness considering the places his legs have carried him.

Across arid, desolate expanses of scorching heat, the magnificence of the Sierra Nevada, and the dense forests of Oregon and Washington, those who dare tackle the Pacific Crest Trail find there’s no room for complacency when facing the extremes of the elements.

However, within the heart of a hiker lives the soul of a writer. One who can easily translate the awe-inspiring and often humbling moments of life on the trail into a powerful, honest, and light-hearted tale of desperation, perseverance, and spirit.

Discover the wonder of the Pacific Crest Trail that so many aspire to but so few prevail as you journey across all 2,640 miles from Mexico to Canada. Witness the fear as he battles a phobia of bears, snakes, spiders, and camping in the woods after dark.

With the harshest winter for years looming, be by his side as he enters into a desperate race against time, facing a dangerous, physical and very real threat to become the last Englishman to complete the greatest long distance hiking trail on Earth.

 

Journey in BetweenThe Journey in Between

El Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way, is the fabled path that weaves through French and Spanish countryside for 1,000 miles to its hallowed destination at Santiago de Compostella.

Thousands attempt to hike its entirety each year: some succeed, many fail.

Keith Foskett found himself at a crossroads, sensing his life was about to change. But, until a chance meeting with a stranger in a Greek bar, he didn’t know which path to take.

A week later, he found himself at the start of El Camino, and began a journey that would change him. Along the way he made friends with fellow pilgrims from all over the world, all travelling for their own different reasons.

From the pain of blisters and extremes of temperature to encountering kleptomaniacs, fake faith healers and being threatened with arrest in Spain for ‘not sleeping’, his hike was far from normal.

This is the story of one man’s walk, but it speaks to all who see life itself as a journey and are alive to the revelations that an escape to nature can bring. Written with insight, observation and a healthy dose of humour.

As this book shows, it is rarely the start and the finish that count, but the journey in between.

 

You can find Keith hanging out here:

Website: http://www.keithfoskett.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Keith-Foskett-Fozzie-270894196286427/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KeithFoskett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello from the other side … of chemotherapy

 

Emily Dickinson quote

Well it’s been a while since I updated this blog and I think that probably tells you all you need to know about the effects of my change of chemotherapy. My last update was dated the 17th Dec and I had my next chemo on 22nd December. After I’d had my third round of epirubicin and cyclophosphamide I said to my chemo nurse that I wasn’t looking forward to the change as the side effects looked far worse than I’d already experienced. With a straight face (and no nose growth whatsoever) he said, ‘oh no – this one is far worse, the next one is easier’ – what a bloody liar he turned out to be.

If omens are anything to go by, anything that could go wrong, did go wrong, before the fated change of chemo on 22nd. It started the evening before when I checked my appointment card again and spotted I’d been given a chair time earlier than the blood time, this can’t happen as chemo can’t go ahead until they’ve got the blood results. A quick call to The Christie didn’t offer any enlightenment as they couldn’t access my records, they thought the most logical scenario was that the times had been transposed so to get to The Christie for 10 a.m . Of course it wasn’t that simple, when we arrived I was informed I should have been there at 8 a.m. so I was running well late. Even with  fast tracked blood results I didn’t get into the chair (or as it happened this time – a bed) until 2 p.m. No worries I thought, until they informed me my Herceptin injections would also be starting that day and that came with a 6 hour observation period – oh joy. It was to get worse, I thought that as I’d got my Hickman line in, it would be given via the line – silly me! As my oncologist had originally requested it before my line was inserted, it was down to be administered subcutaneously and so they couldn’t go against that instruction – aaaaargh.   The Herceptin injection takes 3-5 minutes (yes minutes) and bloody stings. My saving grace was they had the radio on and it coincided with them playing Enrique Iglesias – cue quick fantasy to take my mind off it – have to say it sort of worked.

Herceptin is a requirement for me, because my cancer is one of the 20% that is HER2 positive, unfortunately these cancers have a tendency to grow faster, are more likely to  spread and also to come back – all good news then!  Herceptin or Trastuzumab is a targeted, adjuvant therapy that blocks the ability of the cancer cells to receive chemical signals that tell the cells to grow. It is given every three weeks, for 18 cycles, so this will carry on until just before Christmas 2018.

Following the injection I was duly hooked up to the drip to take my poison, and thankfully there were no immediate reactions to the chemo. What followed was then a pretty boring 5 hours of lying around – allegedly under observation. I say allegedly because on the odd occasion I had cause to call a nurse (usually because the chemo bag had finished) I was singularly unimpressed with the response time. The junior doctor sat at the desk directly in my eye line and about 10 feet away, didn’t even lift his head – clearly beneath his pay grade to look and make sure it wasn’t an emergency, allergic reaction to the Herceptin.  The biggest excitement of the day was when I started seeing little white blobs out of the corner of my eye ‘running’ across the floor. No-one had heard of that as a side effect so another first for me. I left the hospital at 8 p.m. and was home by 9 p.m. definitely ready for my bed.

The perceived wisdom with Docetaxel (Taxotere) is that the side effects don’t hit for a day or so – well that was spot on, as the tingling in my hands and feet started on Saturday evening, unfortunately this heralded the start of what I didn’t want which was peripheral neuropathy. By Sunday I’d also acquired joint/bone/muscle pain the like of which I’d never felt before – it was agony.  Take paracetamol the literature said – well I might as well have been eating Smarties. By Monday (Christmas Day), I’d dug out the Codeine Phosphate I’d been prescribed after surgery and started to mix that with paracetamol – nothing, didn’t even touch the pain.  By Boxing Day desperation had set in, the pain is not only debilitating, but it also means no sleep and for the first time in this process I just wanted anything to make it stop. I’ve never thankfully been hit by a bus, but if I had, I imagined it would feel like this. Even going to the toilet was fraught because If I sat down I couldn’t get up, my knees just couldn’t stand it. The side effects of the previous chemotherapy, faded into insignificance compared to this. I was also still having my daily stomach injections administered by the District Nurse, and the side effects from this just compounded the pain.  We rang The Christie hotline at 10.30 a.m. and hung on for an hour until we got a reply, which merely suggested we ring 111 – what!! So 3/4 of an hour on the line to 111 before the line went dead and we had to start again. After another hour we got a reply which said they’d pass my details onto a local team. Mid afternoon we got a call back asking for full details of the problem and a promise that we’d get a call back. That call back, when it came, wasn’t worth the wait. At 5.40 p.m. we were told, they had no strong painkillers on site, the chemists were due to close at 6.p.m. so ring a GP tomorrow. The parting shot of – “call us back if things got worse”, should have elicited the response “what would be the bloody point”, but I must have been ill, as I didn’t even have the energy to say that.

At least my GP next day, came up trumps and prescribed Tramadol, which my OH was able to collect for me.  By now, I was also suffering from the usual constipation, which always makes me nauseous, though the difference this time is I was actually sick and that continued for next couple of days, which totally put me off eating. By Friday, the pain had started to ease, it also meant a visit from the District Nurse with the last of my stomach injections and to flush/clean my Hickman line. After the way the week had gone, I should have been forewarned, it transpired my nurse couldn’t flush the line as their was a blockage. A quick call to The Christie and we had to bundle ourselves into the car and drive to Manchester for the blood department to attempt to clear the blockage. Unsurprisingly they managed to flush it, without difficulty so it was back in the car and home from a two and a half hour trip we could have done without. This had not been my best week.

Over the following week, while the main muscle joint pain lessened during the day, it came back with a vengeance at night. The nearest thing I can liken it to is Restless Leg Syndrome and meant I was still taking the Tramadol to try to get some sleep. Other interesting side effects was the loss of my eyelashes, my toe nails turning black, my finger nails becoming ridged and discoloured, chemo cough and nose bleeds – who knew!!

I’d like to say that after this first round of the chemotherapy change, I was better able to manage the side effects going forward. Sadly I wasn’t and the effects really took their toll after the next two sessions. Each cycle saw a repeat of the previous one, with the tiredness and fatigue being compounded as time passed. While I’d been able to work 2 weeks out of 3 under the first 3 cycles, this time I was lucky to work 1/2 a week out of three. I couldn’t get out of bed before lunch time and to be honest, if I wasn’t doing my damnedest to get some work done, I’d have stayed there.  When I saw my Breast Cancer Nurse at a  routine appointment to discuss my forthcoming radiotherapy treatment she was shocked when she saw me and dispatched me off for blood tests and an x-ray to make sure there wasn’t anything sinister causing the constipation, on the day I saw her, it had been 8 days since any movement.  My OH found it amusing that she came out to the waiting room and said to him “Jill’s not well you know” – well tell him something he didn’t know, he’s been the one that’s had to witness the being sick, the pain, the inability to eat and drink, the inability to walk and on ocassion the tears. The only good news was that the 2nd February saw the last of my chemotherapy cycles.

The fact that it’s now the 17th March before I’ve felt well enough to attempt an update is also indicative of how long it has taken to shake off the fatigue and some of the side effects. I’d like to say that things are getting back to normal, but that’s not the case. There is a misconception that once chemotherapy is finished, you get through the usual side effects and start to improve. Sadly that is not always the case. My current normal is a far cry from how I was before I started this process. I’m still bald (though delighted to report what just about passes as stubble is starting to appear), I have no eyebrow and eyelashes which means my eyes are usually red rimmed, watery and prone to styes. My nose is often sore as it’s constantly running (due to loss of nasal hair), though thankfully the nose bleeds have stopped. I now walk with a stick due to the constant pins and needles/numbness in my feet and toes caused by nerve damage. As I can’t feel my feet when walking I have a tendency to trip. The neuropathy, which also affects my fingers, should improve within months (however, if I’m unlucky it could be permanent). Insomnia is a regular problem, largely due to the leg aches and pains which tend to materialise at night – this means I’m still on the Tramadol, which doesn’t always help with the sleep but guarantees it takes me ages to wake up the next day. If I’m up before midday it’s a good day. I still have problems with heartburn, not helped by the fact I’m still not eating properly, I can manage muesli for breakfast, force myself to eat lunch (about half of what I used to eat) but by the evening I’m not interested in food, often because I feel sick. This latter is often because the constipation has hit again.

On the plus side, I’ve found I’ve been able to read a bit more – this can only be a good thing. I have so many books on my review pile though it will take a long time, before I work my way through them – I will get there, but in my own time.

Now that I’m back on the update loop, you might find shorter gaps between the next few posts and hopefully they won’t be as long.

 

High and Low by Keith Foskett – 4*s #review @KeithFoskett

High and Low

 

Depression threw him off course. A detour set his wilder side free.

An amusing and life-affirming travel memoir, concluding with tips for managing depressive episodes.

Keith Foskett refused to let his dark mood define his limitations. Unknowingly suffering with depression, he took to hiking the wilds of Scotland to face the inner demons that threatened to gnaw him to the bone. From the craggy Highlands of the Cape Wrath Trail and West Highland Way, to the canals criss-crossing the low country, 600 miles of unforgiving hiking terrain called his name.

Keith repositioned his compass to what really matters in life. As laughter became his travelling companion, he discovered that when dealing with emotional baggage, it’s best to pack light. Pushing his mind and body past breaking point, his journey could set a brave new course for coping with depression.

Battling ferocious weather, the ubiquitous Scottish midge, strange-sounding local delicacies and substandard TV sets, this is one man’s battle to conquer the wilds of Scotland, and his own psychological demons.

 

My Review

Since I undertook The Lyke Wake Walk, as a green and under prepared schoolgirl, I’ve had a penchant for walking over the years. While these days, my walks tend to be limited to circular pub walks, I enjoy reading about the endeavours of others and with High and Low I was not disappointed Joining Keith on the Cape Wrath Trail and West Highland Way was a journey of discovery in more ways than one.

The book is more than just a travel memoir recounting the physical journey. It’s offers an engaging and informative insight into the history, geography and even gastronomy of the area he’s walking. We get to meet the locals and other walkers, discover the etiquette of walking and get to see inside a variety of bunk houses and bothies. But most of all we get to appreciate the miles covered in all their glorious highs and miserable lows. All walkers, be they intrepid or fair weather, can recognise the euphoria of turning the corner to meet the perfect view on a sunny day, or conversely  can empathise with the miserable monotony of putting one sodden foot in front of the other on a miserable “why am I doing this” day.

When I read Keith’s last book Travelled Far, I came away with the impression of a man, who came to life and only really felt comfortable in his own skin when walking. This book challenged those impressions as the journey that Keith undertook was mental as well as physical. It was while on this walk that Keith comes to understand and accept that he suffers from depression. It’s not always comfortable reading but it’s truthful and honest. Once back at home and coming to terms with his diagnosis, Keith sets about generating a strategy for coping. His strategy if I’m honest, offers a blueprint for coping with life, which is valid for anyone, with or without depression as it acknowledges the important things in life.

For an intelligent read, that offers an insight into both the man and his walking endeavours,  you won’t go wrong in picking up High and Low.