Ruthless – Cath Staincliffe

Back in 2013, I reviewed Bleed Like Me the second novel to feature Scott and Bailey (yes the ITV Series) and was interested in reading a third. Cath Staincliffe, a lovely lady who I have met and has had written some cracking books delivered a third in 2014.

Shamefully it has taken my another five years to read it. I feel like I should go and stand in a corner somewhere and think about the error of my ways.

So I am back with Gill Murray, life with her son is balanced but her ex husband is just one step away from falling apart in front of everyone and losing everything.

Janet Scott, recovering from the fall out of events in the previous book. Trying to hold together a family.

Rachel Bailey married to Sean, although both I and her are not sure why. She seems suffocated by it and spends a lot of time running.

Rachel was running the night when a blaze erupted at a abandoned chapel, she witnessed the scene but what and who else did she?

The next day, it turns out the blaze was arson and there was a fatality.

Cath Staincliffe takes us straight into the police work, the station, the briefings, the allocation of roles and the cameraride and banter between colleagues. How do you keep all that going when it seems you private life is becoming so difficult.

Then there is another fire and this time there are two bodies.

Are they connected?

Is this the start of something frightening in the area?

With gunshots, confessions, drugs and domestics this book has it all. Well plotted and I hate to say a great example of a ‘police procedural’ novel that I sometimes hear bandied about. Except somehow we manage to get under the skin of the three main detectives and that gives that fragility to humans dealing with some horrific events.

A great read and well worth the wait.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book albeit five years after publication. 

Ruthless is the third in the series with Scott and Bailey. If you want to read them all then start with Dead to Me and then Bleed Like Me.

Scott and Bailey can be found repeated on ITV3 (in the UK) if you want to see everything brought to life. I only watched a few episodes of the first series, but they are very true to the characters and bring them to life, great casting. 




The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker – Joanna Nell

Mrs Henry Parker is the wife of a retired ship’s doctor she has spent most of her life at sea. She spends her days wandering the ship as if it is her home and her nights dressed up to the nines and entertaining the very  revolving round of fellow passengers of tales of her past adventures.

But Henry seems to have gone missing and Mrs Parker sets out with her ‘Finding Henry’ shoes to search the vast liner she is on.

However through this search she makes new friends and finds herself reminiscing about the past voyages while experiencing some new adventures.

The trouble is the new adventures are not memorable, but the events of meeting Henry on that first voyage, her nursing training and other poignant events are as clear as if they happened yesterday.

Mrs Parker cannot understand why everyone is so poorly dressed at breakfast, why she is in a colouring class, gambling in a casino, dancing in a nightclub and with mysterious injuries and what seems like the endless pursuit by the people in blue pyjamas and Tuesday’s child. Amongst the muddle of Mrs Parker’s brain it all makes sense.

All the time she is looking for Henry.

This voyage of Mrs Henry Parker has to come to an end and I was surprised by the twist it took, I had already made my mind up about that had happened to Henry and I was wrong. I am so glad I was.

Some might find this book uncomfortable, tragic in a way that such a thing was allowed to go on. But the author’s insightful research and reading of someone who was suffering with senility was dealt with sympathy and kindness. It might have seemed a strange place to set such a story and how events unfolded, but I have heard first hand that this story is not in fact unique.

This is a wonderful second book from Joanna Nell and she has insightfully captured a rather difficult topic well and shown how important memories are and that we need to make so many of them.

Poignant and thoughtful this book will stay with me for a while yet. If you were a fan of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry or the story of Queenie Hennessy then you will enjoy this quiet book with so much to tell.


Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker is published on 24 September. 

It was not until I got to the end of the book that I realised that had to be some insider knowledge and it seems some of the incidents were based on reality. 

Read here to get some background on the author and her latest novel. 

I also recommend her first novel The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village which I read reviewed last year. 


The Mitford Scandal – Jessica Fellowes

It is 1928 – Diana Mitford has turned eighteen and she has the whole world and society at her feet. The Guinness’ are holding a glamorous party where you need to be seen.

It is 1928 – Louisa Cannon is at the glamourous party too, not wanting to be seen as she supplements her meagre income as a seamstress with work as a maid at these parties.

On that fateful night many things happen-

A maid plunges to her death.

Bryan Guinness proposes to Diana Mitford and she accepts.

The maid’s death is recorded as an accident.

Diana and Bryan marry and embark on a honeymoon in Paris. But Diana wants to take Louisa Cannon away with her as her ladies maid. Louisa not keen but seemingly always drawn to the Mitford sisters as they grow agrees.

In Paris they are not alone, all societies up and coming people and some not so, including Evelyn Waugh as well as Diana’s own sister Nancy, still not yet married are also there.

Then another death occurs and Louisa cannot help that although two years have past since the death of that maid, there is something familiar about it.

Back in London, Guy Sullivan, now a Detective Sergeant is looking into the possible disappearance of a maid who was also at the party in 1928. His investigations take him to Paris as well. Is there a possibility of a link.

The third in the series, which combines fascinating fact with fiction – the murders luckily are all fiction but a number of the events covered in the book are based in truth, which is why I enjoy them immensely and the fascination keeps me hooked right to the end.

A captivating book which concentrates on Diana, the third Mitford sister, all of them are mentioned and Nancy and Pamela the two elder are more prominent than the younger ones. But this book really sees the character of Louisa Cannon our main protagonist in this series develop into a stronger character. Her detective and reasoning skills are developing as is her relationship with Guy Sullivan.

The book is well plotted, well written and totally in keeping with what you would expect from a Golden Age Mystery – I am sure at some point Poirot is going to appear!

I look forward to the next in this series and cannot wait to be totally immersed in this true and fictional world that Jessica Fellowes has wonderfully created. If they could be adapted into the small or even big screen I think it would be wonderful!

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Mitford Scandal is published on 24 September

The first two in the series are available now:

The Mitford Murders (Nancy Mitford)

Bright Young Dead (Pamela Mitford)



Bone China – Laura Purcell


Louise Pinecroft is now alone with only her father, her siblings and her mother have been consumed by the horror that is consumption.

Raised at her father’s side and having absorbed and gained the medical knowledge he has she embarks on a rather interesting experiment for consumptives who are incarcerated in prison.

All in a cave beneath their home on the Cornish cliffs, Louise Pinecroft starts to feel uncomfortable by the presence of the men and of the stories that their maid, Creeda begins to tell of little people.

The little people are out to steal others for their realm. The thought is disturbing, the premise intriguing but for me it did not have the chilling effect I think it was meant to have.

Hester Why arrives to nurse Louise Pinecroft, some forty years later who is virtually mute, reclusive and partially paralysed. Hester is escaping her past and wants to forget what went before, however it seems the strange goings on with Louise Pinecroft and the still ever present maid Creeda starts to worry Hester.

The threat of the little people still abounds. Added to this is the room full of Bone China where you find Louise Pinecroft permanently seated. The pattern of the china – Willow has its basis in fairy stories and is full of romance. Are the patterns changing, is this the work of the little people or some other dark force at work?

The books descriptions of the china, of the Cornish coastline and the journey of Hester Why stand out for me as well written and constructed. However the plot was just too fanciful for me and I was certainly not frightened or chilled by it. My logical and rational mind took over and I was not swept away as some readers might be.

Interesting none the less but I think perhaps it was lost on me. I did finish it as there were some strong elements within the book I enjoyed, the relationship between Hester and the curate as well as Louise and the prisoners, it was the other wordly element which put me off.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read the book. 

Bone China is published on the 19th September.

Books · Jottings

Parish Notices

Happy September readers!

As you might have gathered the nights are drawing in and the days are getting shorter and I have gone back to work and there is now only 14 weeks out of the 16 weeks left before I get another holiday. Not that I am counting.

So what has been happening – do check out how many books I managed to read in August. Think that might be a record!

The Christmas reading has started and I have finished the first two books listed below – reviews will feature on this blog of course, but you will have to wait until nearer the publication date.

A Perfect Cornish Christmas – Phillipa Ashley – Published 31 October

Christmas in Cornwall is just around the corner…

But after last Christmas revealed a shocking family secret, Scarlett’s hardly feeling merry and bright. All she wants this Christmas is to know who her real father is.

So Scarlett heads to the little Cornish town of Porthmellow, where she believes the truth of her birth is hidden. She just didn’t bargain on being drawn into the Christmas festival preparations – or meeting Jude Penberth, whose charm threatens to complicate life further.

Everything will come to a head at Porthmellow’s Christmas Festival … But can Scarlett have the perfect Christmas this year, or are there more surprises on the way?

The Christmas Invitation – Trisha Ashley – Published 31 October 

A brilliant new Christmas novel from the Sunday Times bestselling Trisha Ashley will more than satisfy romantic comedy fans looking for the perfect festive read.

If you are a follower on Twitter then you might have seen the launch this week

The Gift of Happiness – Holly Martin is going to be arriving on 25th October.

I have also had another invitation to another Christmas

Starlight over Bluebell Castle – Sarah Bennett will be turning up on 4th November.

Just in case you want even more Christmas then

The Christmas Wish List – Heidi Swain will be out on 3rd October. Plus do check out her blog where you can find all about the 2020 novel too!

Ok – enough Christmas I hear you cry.

There are some other cracking reads out there and I draw your attention to For Emily – Katherine Slee 

This is a quiet tale of grief and rediscovery of a life seemingly lost and one that has been lived through words and pictures which have come alive as Emily goes on this mystery tour – but where will it end?

The writing is carefully constructed, the use of birds is a unique way of creating chapters and sections all linked in with the beautiful drawings described.

In my opinion a sleeper of a debut novel which is going to take people by surprise and will undoubtedly become a hit. It was a hit with me.

I also draw your attention to my Instagram account if you are that way inclined. (Can now be seen on this blog) Last year I started a project of taking pictures of things during the week and posting a collage every Sunday – to give a snapshot. Good, bad and everything in between, friends, family, meaningful, humour, colour, craft, food, books basically whatever has caught my eye. I have kept it up, even when I only had two pictures to add one week! I am not just about books and reading, though of course that is a great part of my life – but I know I don’t have the time to blog about everything that I want to so this has become a great way of recording.

So that is what has been happening round these parts – anything to tell me?

*Please note that I receive nothing from the authors for talking about their books – all I do is pass on some recommendations which might interest you.  


Another Woman’s Husband – Gill Paul

Royalty has always fascinated me and more so historical royalty, whether in the recent past or further back. I can recall asking my grandmother what it was like in 1936 when the King abdicated – she recalls it being an awful time and that it was just all so wrong and that Wallis woman had a lot to answer for.

The same as I can recall sitting with my grandmother and mother when we watched the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981.

Fast forward to 1997 and the horrific accident which changed the world, royalty and perhaps history forever.

In this we mix the real with the fiction and it blends so well.

In 1997, Paris, a tunnel, a couple, Alex and Rachel, recently engaged seem to be stuck in traffic. An accident is up ahead. The events of that night put Alex and Rachel’s relationship through a test as Alex is obsessed about the theories of the death of Princess Diana and starts to push away Rachel.

Rachel is facing a test of her own, as her own business suffers a setback. But it seems the aftermath of the death is around everyone and Rachel is drawn back to the past.

Mary and Wallis beamce friends in Summer Camp in 1911 and their friendship stood the test of time until the end. Wallis was the more confident of the two, who used this to disguise her background and her real problems. Mary went along in her shadow, relinquishing friendships, loves and even the closeness of her family due to the friendship with this woman called Wallis.

This book taught me a lot about Wallis, about her first marriage was and the reasoning behind her second marriage and the almost game that was played with her “Peter Pan” – it was very much all a fantasy for Wallis and as soon as her obsession was over, the next toy needed to be played with. It seems to me though, that in the end her actions were her undoing, she was left with only one toy to play with.

It makes you stop and think about what if? What if in both storylines? The Wallis Simpson one for me was much stronger and well researched, I wanted to get to the end to then find out how much was true (the vast majority, even in some cases down to what was spoken) to how much was conjecture – a lot in terms of conversations where there was no evidence available.

The more modern plotline did jar me slightly I think because it was so recent and the perhaps setting of the characters who were in such close proximity to the final moments made it a bit more macabre. That aside it did have some interesting elements, especially as it tied back to the Mary and Wallis story and that perhaps we did not need the reminder of the death. For me I would like to have seen a different way of handling the events.

However this was really a fascinating book and littered with names in history who fascinate me and was brought together with a compelling storyline. Just how I like my historical fiction.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Another Woman’s Husband is out now. 


The Long Call – Ann Cleeves

You could say we have enough detectives to be reading about and there is no need for a new one. How wrong you can be as Ann Cleeves introduces us to Matthew Venn in this the first of a new series.

We have moved South and West from Vera and Jimmy Perez stomping ground, to North Devon with Matthew Venn, his Sergeant single mum Jen Rafferty who has escaped a violent marriage and golden boy Ross seems to have got himself caught in a trap of currying favour with a more senior policeman.

Of course we learn all of this as we go through the book.  One might say it is conjecture a mere filling in of pages but actually the characters of these detectives show you how the case can be brought to a close.

A man is found dead on a beach.

The beach is near where Matthew lives with his husband, Jonstahon.

Turns out the man went to the Woodyard Centre where Jonathan is manager.

Then an attendee of the centre goes missing.

Can they all be linked together or is it just a coincidence that everything seems to come back to the Woodyard and the deaths and abductions are just a byproduct.

What is exactly going on?

If you have never read a detective story before (why not?) this would be an ideal place to start. The plot and the pace of the novel show you how it all works, the reasons behind the actions of the criminals but the detectives as well. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, this book shows you how it works when it goes right and obviously wrong.

You are absorbed in the place, the descriptions are so easy to visualise and you can feel yourself there amongst everyone. The choice of relationship for the main detective to have and the introduction of Down Syndrome characters brings another layer to this book. If you think you were getting the stereotypical characters and plot be prepared for something else.

A great start to a series of books which I hope will keep us all entertained and enthralled for many years to come.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Long Call is out now. 


For Emily – Katherine Slee

Renowned children’s author Catriona Robinson has dedicated all her books to the people that have meant something to her during her life.

Her granddaughter Emily, one of the dedicatees has never given it much thought until the death of her grandmother.

Catriona became Emily’s life when a tragic accident robbed her of her beloved parents and for a while the ability to walk, talk and function as a human being.

Now seemingly alone in the world, a final task from her grandmother is to go and search out all those that have had books dedicated to them. Popularity of Catriona means that no one wants to believe there is no more stories to come and the trip suddenly becomes a quest for a lost manuscript, the final story, the one that has yet to be published.

The only person that can discover any of this is Emily. But since her accident, Emily exists in a very small world, near the cottage in Norfolk, not conversing with anyone and seeking solace in the illustrations she did for her Grandmothers work but also in the birds she starts to draw after her grandmother dies.

However, it seems this legacy has to be fulfilled and Emily has to break down barriers and step outside what she knows.

This is a quiet tale of grief and rediscovery of a life seemingly lost and one that has been lived through words and pictures which have come alive as Emily goes on this mystery tour – but where will it end?

The writing is carefully constructed, the use of birds is a unique way of creating chapters and sections all linked in with the beautiful drawings described.

In my opinion a sleeper of a debut novel which is going to take people by surprise and will undoubtedly become a hit. It was a hit with me.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

For Emily is out now. 


Books · Jottings

August Roundup

And there goes August in a blink of an eye and eighteen, yes eighteen books later! I think that must be a record for me and I am not really sure what I can put it down to.

Well three weeks off work probably helps as does it being too hot to do much else that read. Added to that being away and not having to worry about cooking the dinner and washing the dishes meant even more time to read. But enough of how and why – what have I read!

Where to start as this month has also been the month that I have picked up the most physical books in a long time, as opposed to reading them on my kindle. This started with Agatha Christie – The Secret Adversary which had been languishing on my shelf for a while and it was one of the books chosen for Read Christie 2019 for the month of July so I thought I would get along and read it and tick another one off my Christie List.

Another book on my shelf that has been there a while was Tom Winter – Lost & Found. I had not lost it but found it again and decided it was time I got round to reading it. It still captured my interest from the first moment I picked it up and the gentleness and tragic story that unfolded was wonderfully written. I will look out for this author again.

Clearing the bookshelves again with a chunky one this time – Robert Galbraith – Lethal White. I got the hardback copy for a Christmas present last year and thought I better get round to reading it. Oh how I wished for the paperback version – still a chunky book but perhaps not as dangerous as a hardback. That said I was hooked and dragged it away with me and for the first day I was engrossed enough to keep reading it as I wanted to get up to date with Cormoran Strike and Robin. Now I am and I am ready for the adaptation – starting to be filmed according to Holliday Grainger (interviewed on Radio 2 with Zoe Ball in August). Not sure how long we will have to wait for another book though.

There are some definite gaps on my bookshelves now especially when I picked up Katie Fforde – Recipe for Love. You are always guaranteed a good story with Katie Ffforde and this was no different as whilst I had read a short story featuring these characters I had not understood how we got to the point. It was great to back to the beginning and see how it all started. I am slowly catching up on her oeuvre and spotted an unread one in a charity shop so snaffled it up for when I want something to lose myself in.

Maeve Haran – In A Country Garden was an author I had not read before and I was intrigued by the cover and the premise of the book so picked it up to make another dent in my bookshelf. A laugh out loud book about growing old and coming together to help each other. Not an author I might pick up again but it was a pleasant diversion.

Despite the gaps on my bookshelves there is still plenty to choose from but that doesn’t stop me buying more – well I have to fill those gaps with something! I am not a big fan of my local Waterstones, the books seem to be getting less and less and the other stuff more and more. However, I came away with enough to keep me occupied. Some before I even got out of the shop. Amanda Brown – The Prison Doctor had me hooked when I nipped to have a coffee and a cookie as a treat (well I was on holiday) and finished within twenty four hours, passed to my mum who ploughed through half the book in one afternoon in the garden. Its brutally honest tale was rather like watching “car crash television” and I forever grateful that there are people who do these jobs. These types of books are either a hit or a miss. This was a hit.

From Prisons to Schools with two books I picked up from the children’s section – Robin Stevens – Murder Most Unladylike and Robin Stevens – Arsenic for Tea. School girl tales which I spotted when scrolling through some website and I was intrigued. Think Enid Blyton meets Agatha Christie and you are already halfway there. I picked up book three at the same time but have yet to allow myself to read it. A bit of a risk but still and I am delighted to discover that there are another five plus short stories to catch up on. The covers are great and colourful, the illustrations are top notch and in fact they are totally spiffing stories!

Talking of murder and being ladylike leads me to the next Mitford sister in Jessica Fellowes – The Mitford Scandal. This is the third novel and therefore third sister, Diana is the main character. These are really engrossing stories and you forget how much society overlapped in the early part of the twentieth century and that some these names are still known today.

Now if you mention Ann Cleeves to me, I might say wife of Henry VIII but also Vera the great character she created and brought to life by the sublime Brenda Blethyn. You also might think about Shetland as well. However now we are going to have someone else to talk about in – Ann Cleeves – The Long Call. DI Matthew Venn is the new detective on the block and we are all the way down in North Devon. A man’s body is discovered not far from Venn’s home and a vulnerable adult goes missing. Can they be connected in any way? Even more excitingly this has been optioned for television and we will have another detective series to enjoy over and over again.

Still with me – just over halfway now!

A holiday would not be a holiday without some treats and this book is definitely one of them – Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Bus. Normally released in parts I find Cressida’s books make much better reading as a whole and this is no exception. Who would not want to traverse Cornwall in a bus eating scones and clotted cream?

Talking of Cornwall took me to Laura Purcell – Bone China. Well written and with some fascinating elements however, the plot was too fanciful for me and my rational, logical mind always fights such things. The second of this authors books I have read and have felt the same.

Perhaps it is too fanciful for a woman to run off and join the Navy. They can nowadays although they are still very much in a man’s world. But what if it was over 200 years ago and the Navy were off to fight a war. Beryl Kingston – Hearts of Oak, is a reissue of an earlier novel and tells such a story of a women looking for husband as he is surreptitiously press ganged into Nelson’s Navy. Yes that Nelson and yes that battle. As a Portsmouth girl, the places and the local stories resonated with me. A great piece of historical fiction which has some fact woven into the story.

As well as making in dent in bookshelves in shops and home, there are some older requests on netgalley for which I have yet to get to. One of them was Rachel Burton – The Many Colours of Us, now having read it I do not know why it took me so long and why I have not perhaps caught up with her more recent work. An emotive story which you made you see all sides of events and the characters within the plot and you can see how many colours make us all up.

We all have different stories to tell and versions of ourselves but when Anna Darton runs away from home  she needs to reinvent herself and so she does in Joanna Rees – The Runaway Daughter. It is 1920s London and you can be anything that you want to be but your past is always in the shadows and sometimes cannot be outrun.

The past is a funny place to research even more so when it gives you clues to your own future. Katherine Slee – For Emily is a debut novel which I think is going to make quite a noise. The imagery used is carefully thought out and the quietness of the book suggests a time of grief and rediscovery for all.

New beginnings are common themes for many books and in Rachel Dove – The Fire House on Honeysuckle Street this is no different apart from the fact that both Lucy and Sam are starting again and they have to move forward no matter what. The latest from Rachel Dove’s books set in the fictional Yorkshire place Westfield.

And finally……what better place to start reading about Christmas in August than with Phillipa Ashley – A Perfect Cornish Christmas. This book was not overtly Christmassy and had just enough festive cheer and tragedy that was needed to make a very interesting story come to life. No more about it though – you will have to wait a few months to read my review!

Thank you for making it thus far and popping into my little reading world.

I hope you enjoyed your August, I certainly did mine and now as I look to going back to work tomorrow I also look forward to seeing where my reading might take me next.