Saturday, 9 September 2023

The Life I Stole

 The Life I stole


Nikola Scott


Review by Julie Williams

It's 1953. Memories of the war are beginning to fade.

Young Queen Elizabeth has just ascended to the throne. Isobel McIntyre is a doctor-in-training at a London teaching hospital. It's not easy being a woman working in medicine. And Isobel carries the additional burden of a shocking secret . . .

One night three years ago, Isobel took the chance to walk into another woman's life. By the time she understood the implications, it was too late to turn back. Now the secret she's been hiding for so long threatens everything - her career, new-found friendships, and a love affair that promises the kind of joy Isobel thought was only for others.

Love and happiness can't thrive in a world of lies. But does Isobel have the courage to tell the truth, whatever the consequences?


The Life I Stole is a super story of two friends, Isobel McIntyre and Agnes Crawford. They come from very different backgrounds yet their friendship is solid. 

When tragedy strikes, Agnes takes on her friends’ identity changing her life completely. Lies grow day by day as she tries to maintain her secret and fit in and she fears that lasting love can never be found.

Set in the early 1950’s in the infant years of the National Health Service, this story also tells of the struggles female medical students had to endure as they entered a predominantly male environment.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it held my attention throughout with its interesting characters and captivating storyline.

Thursday, 31 August 2023

One Moment


Becky Hunter


The day Scarlett dies should have been one of the most important of her life. It doesn't feel fair that she'll never have the chance to fulfil her dreams - all because she stopped to help a stranger. And now, she's still ... here - wherever here is - watching the ripple effect of her death on those she loved the most.
Evie cannot contemplate her life without Scarlett, and she certainly cannot forgive Nate, the man she blames for her best friend's death. But Nate keeps popping up when she least expects him to, catapulting Evie's life in directions she'd never let herself imagine possible.
If you could go back, knowing everything that happens after, everything that happens because of one choice you made, would you change the course of history or would you do it all again?


Evie and Scarlett are the best of friends, but when Scarlett is killed on her way to work, Evie is grief stricken and doesn't know how she will ever get over her friends death. 

Scarlett tries to be a good samaritan and goes to help when she sees a man get knocked off his bike, but it's while she is helping him that she herself is hit and is fatally injured. 

Scarlett realises straight away that she is dead. She cannot communicate with Evie, but she can see how she is struggling with everyday things. Evie has MS and is not only trying to come to terms with Scarlett's untimely death, but also how to deal with her diagnosis. 

When Evie finds out that it was a man called Nate who Scarlett was helping when she was killed, she finds it so hard to forgive him, but he himself is tormented by the incident and then Evie and Nate find comfort in each other over the coming months. 

When I read the blurb of this book, I just knew it was going to be a page turner. I have read several books where one of the main characters is dead and I just love how the author writes from their perspective. Scarlett was not only sad seeing Evie having to deal with her grief, but she was also devastated that she would not be around to fulfil her own  ambitions in life. 

This was a fantastic read that I finished in just a couple of days. I didn't realise at first that this was the author's debut and I really hope it isn't too long before she writes another one. I will definitely be reading it!

About the Author

Becky Hunter worked for many years in London in the publishing industry, before taking a career break in Mozambique, where she volunteered with horses and decided to give writing a go. She now works as a freelance book publicist. One Moment is her debut novel

Monday, 21 August 2023

 The Low Road


Katharine Quarmby

Norfolk, 1813. In the quiet Waveney Valley, the body of a woman – Mary Tyrell – is staked through the heart after her death by suicide. She had been under arrest for the suspected murder of her newborn child. Mary leaves behind a young daughter, Hannah, who is later sent away to the Refuge for the Destitute in London, where she will be trained for a life of domestic service.

It is at the Refuge that Hannah meets Annie Simpkins, a fellow resident, and together they forge a friendship that deepens into passionate love. But the strength of this bond is put to the test when the girls are caught stealing from the Refuge's laundry, and they are sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay, setting them on separate paths that may never cross again.

Drawing on real events, The Low Road is a gripping, atmospheric tale that brings to life the forgotten voices of the past – convicts, servants, the rural poor – as well as a moving evocation of love that blossomed in the face of prejudice and ill fortune.


There are some books that you just know you are going to love and this was one of them. When I read the blurb and saw that it was based in Harleston, Norfolk, I knew I had to read it as I have visited there several times and heard lots of stories about local customs and even witchcraft!

Hannah is the illegitimate child of Mary Tyrell. They live on a farm and help milk the cows and are cared for by the farmer and his wife. 

When Mary gets pregnant again and gives birth in secret, Hannah helps deliver the baby and rocks her to sleep in her cradle. When Hannah wakes up the next day the baby is dead and so Mary tells her she must get rid of it. Hannah carefully bundles the baby up and puts her in a nearby river, hoping that she won't be found. 

The baby is found a few days later and Mary is accused of it's murder and thinking of no other way out, she commits suicide, leaving Hannah to be sent to a Refuge. Poor Hannah has to endure the heartbreak of her Mother being ridiculed in public after her death, because suicide was thought of as a crime in the 1800's.

It is in the Refuge that she meets Annie Simpkins. They become firm friends which then turns to love, but when the girls are caught stealing clothes from the laundry, they are put on trial and their punishment is that they will be transported to Botany Bay. 

I read three quarters of this book in one day, I just could not put it down. I needed to find out what happened to Hannah and Annie! 

The book was very well researched by the author and as I have visited the area in Norfolk where it is based, I have heard a lot of stories of folklore and witches, so this interested me from page one. 

Thank you so much to Unbounders for sending me a copy for an honest review. I absolutely loved this book and can't believe it is this author's first novel. I really hope she writes more (and soon!) as I for one, will look forward to reading it!

Tuesday, 15 August 2023

All Good Things by Amanda Prowse

All Good Things
Amanda Prowse

Review by Julie Williams

Lake Union 15/08/23

All Good Things is Amanda Prowse’s latest fabulous novel that I really enjoyed.

This is a family drama that delves into the lives of two families. The Kelleways, who outwardly appear perfect in every way and their neighbours, the Harrops, who just muddle through life enduring whatever is thrown at them. 

There are no main characters in this story as each family member has a prominent role and I found this refreshing and interesting. Each person has something to unravel, be it dishonesty, pain or love. The individual chapters are told by the person. 
Secrets unfold and shock the naivety of the characters as their pretence is unravelled. Ignorance is bliss for some but profoundly hurtful for others.  

I have no hesitation in awarding 5 stars to this delightful story that held my attention throughout.

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

A Daughter's Gift


Mollie Walton


 North Yorkshire, September 1940.

It's a year since war was first announced and the dangers are becoming all too real for Rosina Calvert-Lazenby and her courageous daughters. When Raven Hall is requisitioned by the army, Rosina must do all she can to protect her family home from the rowdy troops. After Rosina's burgeoning relationship with young sergeant Harry is interrupted as he's posted abroad, the arrival of an older officer who takes a keen interest in her could also spell trouble...

Meanwhile, Rosina's fearless second daughter, twenty-year-old Evelyn Calvert-Lazenby, decides to join the Auxiliary Fire Service. Determined to help with the Blitz effort in London, she faces extreme danger. Two kind professional firemen, the Bailey brothers, take her under their wing to help protect and guide her. But with the bombings getting worse, there can be no guarantees...

Who will be safe? How can Rosina protect all those she loves? And is love still possible with such high stakes?


This is the second instalment of the series, the first one being A Mother's War and I think this series is going to get better and better. This book concentrates of Rosina and her daughter Evelyn (Evvy).

Rosina is still holding fort at Raven Hall and is so upset to receive news that the Army will be taking over the hall for their use and leaving only a few rooms for Rosina and her daughters and staff to use. The officer in charge is Allan Vaughan who at first is very stuffy and unapproachable, but over time, his demeanour softens and Rosina sees a new side to him, if she can get past his secretary first!

Evvy joins the Auxiliary Fire Service in London and is soon whizzing around town on a motorbike assisting her fellow firefighters and her Station Officer Lewis Bailey, who she holds in high regard, but there is also his brother Sam, who is sweet on Evvy and she is rather fond of him too!

The writing is so good and gives you a real insight in to what it really was like during the blitz.

Again, this book has been thoroughly researched and is a real page turner. This series is getting better and better. The characters are great and each book leaves you wanting more! I really can't wait for number 3.

Tuesday, 2 May 2023

 One Last Letter from Greece


Emma Cowell

Devastated by her mother’s death, Sophie longs to get away from an empty house full of memories and a life that hasn’t quite turned out as she had imagined.

So when a chance discovery among her mother’s belongings hints at a past Sophie knows nothing of, she jumps at the opportunity for escape and a chance to heal. The magical, idyllic Greek town of Methoni awaits…

But Sophie—determined to uncover her mother’s secrets—is about to discover so much more. Among the tranquil waters and cosy tavernas, Methoni’s locals offer Sophie the answers she craves, along with unexpected romance and, if she’ll take it, a chance at her own happiness…

Will walking in her mother’s footsteps help Sophie discover who she was meant to be all along…?


I saved my copy of this book for when I went on my very first cruise, which just so happened to be to the Greek islands and Turkey!

Sophie is grieving for the loss of her dear mother, who was an artist in Greece when she was younger. She is also coming to terms with ending an abusive relationship and so makes the decision to go to Greece to find out more about her mother's past and also to locate a painting which she knows her mother painted, but has been missing for years. 

Once she arrives in Greece, it isn't long before she meets the gorgeous Theo, who could very easily distract her from the reason she went to Greece in the first place, but will her feelings get in the way of her finding the missing painting?

I loved this debut by Emma Cowell and this was a real page turner. Very well researched and made me feel that I was right there in Greece with Sophie!

Can't wait to read the second novel by this author!

Tuesday, 18 April 2023


I have always loved Gill's books and am super excited for this one. I just love the cover and the colours and gowns are superb! Publication day is 31st August, so a little while to wait, but you can pre-order on the link below. The countdown has begun...

In this stunning new novel, bestselling author Gill Paul reveals the infamous rivalry of cosmetic titans Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein.

They could have been allies: two self-made millionaires who invented a global industry, in an era when wife and mother were supposed to be any woman’s highest goal. Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein each founded empires built on grit and determination…and yet they became locked in a feud spanning three continents, two world wars, and the Great Depression.

Brought up in poverty, Canadian-born Arden changed popular opinion about make up—persuading women from all walks of life to buy skincare products promising them youth and beauty. Rubinstein left her native Poland, launching her own company with scientific claims about miracle creams and anti-aging herbs.

And when it came to business, nothing was off-limits: poaching employees, copying products, planting spies, hiring ex-husbands, and one-upping each other every chance they had. This was a rivalry from which there was no surrender!  And through it all, were two women, bold, brazen, and determined to succeed—no matter the personal cost.

 Publication dates are August 31st in the UK, Australia and NZ, September 5th in the US.


Friday, 31 March 2023

 A Mother's War


Mollie Walton

North Yorkshire, September 1939.

Rosina Calvert-Lazenby, the widowed matriarch of Raven Hall, must be strong for her five daughters as the war approaches. When the RAF come to stay, Rosina is intrigued by their charismatic – albeit young – sergeant. But is there time for love with the war looming?

Grace Calvert-Lazenby is twenty-one years old and ready for a new adventure. Joining the Women's Royal Naval Service, she trades the safety of Raven Hall for exhausting drills and conflicting acts of secrecy. It's not easy, but Grace knows that everyone has a part to play in what's to come.

With so much on the line, will Rosina and Grace have the courage to lead those around them into the unknown?


This first instalment tells the story of Rosina Calvert-Lazenby and her daughter Grace who joins the WRENS at the outbreak of WWII. They have had a privileged life until now and when Grace and her siblings are sent to different parts of the country, it is her mother Rosina who is left to look after the great house with minimal staff to help.

The army ask Rosina if they can use Raven Hall for some of their officers to have their meals and Rosina is only too willing to help the war effort, but also to have company and bring life back into the house. When a dashing young officer called Harry comes to the house, Rosina instantly takes a shine to him and he to her, but she is instantly aware that he is much younger than her and what will people think.

Grace trains to become a morse code breaker and becomes great friends with Nancy, who just happened to be one of the maids at Raven Hall before the war! Together they work hard, but also go to dances together and poor Grace, who isn't very street wise at first, learns the hard way that not everyone is as nice as they seem, even if there is a war on!

This was a thoroughly researched book and kept me interested from the very first page and as I love wartime sagas, this was right up my street! This was powerful, moving, beautifully written and I really can't recommend it enough.

I am off now to read the second instalment, A Daughter's Gift! 

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

 Queen of Clubs


Beezy Marsh


This is the follow up to the fabulous Queen of Thieves and I couldn't wait to catch up on the women of South East London who earned their living thieving from the department stores in the West End of London.

This book starts with Zoe who is evacuated to the country during the war and is so excited to be leaving London and her uncaring mother. She loves her life in the country and when her mother decides it's time for her to come home, she knows she is going to hate it. 

Zoe wants to make a life for herself without her mother and so decides she wants to be a dancer and comes across Nell who is the owner of a nightclub called Rubies. Little does Zoe know that Nell is the leader of the female gang known as the Forty Thieves and it isn't long before Zoe is drawn in to a world which will test her to the very core.

Nell runs the nightclub Rubies (named after her daughter) with her partner Jimmy, who is well known on the London gangland scene. Zoe is smitten with Jimmy and it doesn't take long for Nell to notice this and this can only mean one thing. Trouble.

What a real page turner this book is. Full of suspense and sometimes difficult storylines to read about, but written superbly and with great insight into the world of the forty thieves, so hats off to the author for her thorough research. I said it about the first book (Queen of Thieves), but this would truly make a great film and I am chomping at the bit to read the next instalment!

 Thank you Beezy Marsh for taking me back to my birth place of South East London. It was a real treat!

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

Snowed In For Christmas


Sarah Morgan

She’s snowed in with the family. The only problem? They’re not her family.

A family gathering
This Christmas the Miller siblings have one goal – to avoid their family’s well-meaning questions. Ross, Alice and Clemmie have secrets that they don’t intend to share, and they are relying on each other to deflect attention.

An uninvited guest
Lucy Clarke is facing a Christmas alone, and the prospect of losing her job – unless she can win a major piece of business from Ross Miller. She’ll deliver her proposal to his family home in the Scottish Highlands and then leave. After all, she wouldn’t want to intrude on the Miller’s perfect family Christmas.

A Christmas to remember
When Lucy appears on the Miller’s snow-covered doorstep, she is mistaken for Ross’s girlfriend. But by the time the confusion is cleared up, a storm has hit and Lucy is stuck. As everyone settles in for a snowed-in Christmas, tensions bubble to the surface and suddenly Lucy finds herself facing a big family fallout with a family that isn’t hers…


Lucy Clarke loves her job so much, that she decides to go to Scotland to personally deliver a proposal to Ross Miller who is the CEO of a sports wear company. As she is on her way to the family home that he will be spending Christmas in, the weather decides to make a turn for the worse and Storm Scrooge closes in, promising everyone a white Christmas! 

Lucy meets Ross on the doorstep who is none too pleased that a total stranger has come to his family home and when Lucy tries to leave out of pure embarrassement, she takes a tumble in the snow and breaks her ankle!

Ross Miller has two siblings. Alice is a Doctor in a hospital and has just been proposed to by her boyfriend Nico, but she is such an overthinker, that she can 't say yes straight away and that puts pressure on their relationship because Nico doesn't know whether Alice really loves him or not. 

Clemmie is the youngest and is a nanny in London. She has decided to move back to Scotland as she has made a lifechanging decision, but will her family like it? and also, the fact that her childhood friend Fergus still lives in the village and she wants nothing more than for them to be more than friends, but she is sure that he doesn't feel the same. 

Nanna Jean is the Grandmother who says it like it is. She is just hilarious and had me snorting with laughter on more than one occasion and mum Glenda is so anxious that Christmas is going to be a disaster and always overthinks things and is adamant she is a bad mother.

I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of characters in this book and it gives a good insight into all the characters personal lives and how even the craziest of families can come together in a crisis!

I'm going to own up to something now - this is the first book by Sarah Morgan I have read (I know!), but I can honestly say, it won't be my last! I already have some from my very good friend Julie to read and I can't wait for her new one to come out in May!