Silent in the Sanctuary – Deanna Raybourn

This is the second Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane novel by Deanna Raybourn, if you have not read the first then do so, though this book will fill in some of the background story you will not get the full picture of their relationship and all its underlying currents.

Lady Julia is recovering from her ordeal in the previous book in Italy with two of her brothers Plum and Ly, but their father wants them all back home for Christmas, and for Ly to bring his new Italian bride with him. They come home bringing with them Alessandro, a friend from Italy who harbours a secret passion for Lady Julia to their country pile Bellmont Abbey or March Manor, where they are greeted by many members of their rather funny and eccentric family as well as a surprise or two and the mysterious Lord Wargrave. But is he mysterious or does Lady Julia already know him?

What then transpires is something which brings all great detective novels together – a murder. Who has committed this murder and why? And why has one of the house guests and cousin of sorts to Lady Julia claimed sanctuary in the chapel attached to the abbey? Did they really commit the murder or are they protecting someone.

Brisbane investigates with some help from Lady Julia, who whilst helping in one investigation ends up causing friction in another – the real reason that Brisbane has descended on Bellmot Abbey. Everyone is under suspicion and as the snow closes any access in or out of the murder, items go missing and the body of the victim is stored (and a post mortem carried out) in the game larder. It rather puts some of the guests (and the cook) of the food!

Raybourn has brought the two characters of Lady Julia and Brisbane back to life again, and this book reads as a witty tale of (despite the murder) escape into life in Victorian England. Ten out of ten for capturing so much of the society by an author who is an American but not once does this book slip from what it is all about – England. If like me you love reading about that upper class society world in an age gone by and you are not averse to a bit of murder and intrigue then this is the series of books for you. Raybourn successfully leads the ending of the story into the next one and I cannot wait to read it.

This review was first published on Amazon in 2009 and is featured on this blog as part of my look back at the last ten years of blogging. 



The 24 Hour Cafe – Libby Page

The 24 Hour Cafe, known as Stella’s is a window to another world, another world where everyone is going about their own business, with their own past, their own present and their own decisions to their own future.

Libby Page, lets us as readers, drop into the cafe to see exactly the people that might cross the cafe doors in 24 hours and what their stories might be.

We need a vehicle for all these people and their stories – Mona and Hannah, waitresses who work double shifts, would be dancer and singer respectively, housemates and best friends. Stella’s Cafe is simply where they fill their time whilst waiting for that once in a lifetime opportunity. It seems to be taking a long time to arrive.

As we learn more about Mona and Hannah and how they came together, we also see into the lives of the young student with nowhere to live, the honeymooners in later life, the relationships blossoming and breaking, the lonely, the workers, the parent escaping the child, the random acts of kindness, the future, the past and everything in between.

These little scenes of life show you how so much is going on around you and that all that you are really interested in and aware of is your own little world. Reflected in Mona who was aware of Hannah, but Hannah’s actions shrink her world and it ends up testing their friendship.

How often do you stop and wonder about those around you – what their story is and whether it is happier or more troubled than your own? Whether there are people looking at you thinking the same, just for 24 hours Libby Page gives us that insight and as you finish the book, you go back to your own life and carry on.

An excellent observational read that makes you stop and think – no doubt a book that will much talked about during 2020.

Many thanks to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The 24 Hour Cafe is published on 23 January. 



Silent in the Grave – Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Grave is a great discovery. Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane make a rather odd duo, when they set out to find out if Edward, Julia’s husband was actually murdered or did he die of natural causes and his weakening heart condition.

We go on a journey through Julia’s strict mourning, with her family the March’s, her rather odd behaving brother Val, Portia her sister, `The Ghoul’ as well as her servants, Morag and Magda and even Desmond a character who seems rather insignificant at the beginning comes more important as the story goes on. Faithful servants like Aquinas and rather odd characters like Cass all make this story richer. This background all adds to the developing plot – who killed Edward? This doubt over his death is kept in a rather close knit way from many people, and as you read you feel privileged to be apart of the secrets that have been found and the clues that lead to dead ends as well as amazing discoveries and eventually the truth.

You are plunged into some rather low life parts of Victorian Society, but also some rather frivolous ones with the evening of entertainment by a `March’ aunt, tea with Fleur and the discovery of gypsies and their ways and means. So much more to say, but this would give vital clues to the plot and outcome and would be unfair to someone reading this review.

This is a real delight, if somewhat tongue in cheek it still serves as a great page turner and definitely worth a look, I can’t wait to read Book Two.

Looking back over the last ten years of posts I stumbled across the fact that the last time I had read anything by Deanna Raybourn was back in 2010. 

I spoke about Deanna Raybourn in a post here

Silent in the Grave was the first book by this author and I read it long before the blog and my review has only been on Amazon and I now resurrect it here. I would like to think that my reviews have improved since this one. Over the next month I will feature the other two books that I have read and reviewed and it has inspired me to go back to this series and once again join Lady Julia Grey. 

Books · Crafts · Jottings · Witterings

Ten Years of Lists and Reviews – 2010

This year marks 10 years in August since I started this blog and posting out into the unknown. And as it is a new decade as well, I thought it might be good to reflect back at the last ten years of posting and see how much has changed.

To be honest when I have gone back and looked at some of the posts I have wanted to cringe – did I really say that, did I share that nonsense? I did share a lot more about my crafts in the early posts, which I do not seem to now. Mainly I think because I no longer have a laptop and the only access for a computer (other than work) is when I visit my mum and dad – I have yet to master WordPress on my iPad successfully enough to warrant using it all the time. Perhaps I should endeavour to do more of that in 2020?

The first post I want to link back to is from August 2010 and funnily enough does feature some craft. These were also the days when I had a digital camera and photos were uploaded that way – then along come iPads and iPhones and it all seemed a bit more easier and less of a faff. So much has changed in 10 years.

These are some of the finished projects from that post –

As for the books I read in 2010 – an eclectic mix for sure. Not all of them were reviewed on this blog as I did not start it until three quarters of the way through the year – some of the reviews were originally on Amazon. That said I have looked back and randomly picked out two books (click on the book covers to be taken to the review)

Definitely a different sort of crime novel, not your average detective novel – no goody and baddy with the other one the victim. A novel with many layers, and not necessarily ones where the truth is going to be made clear to all, including the reader.

This is the story of Julie Jacobs who upon the death of her Aunt, her guardian since her mother and father died in a tragic car accident, learns the truth about her name, her place in life, her background and her history. History which goes back to the 14th Century and involves a familiar story to Julie, in fact her favourite – William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

If you are a fan of Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet and theories about where Shakespeare got his stories from and where they fit into today literature then this is the book for you.

So that is a look back from the posts of 2010 and if anything I have picked up a reminder of the lovely stitching designers I liked and have patterns of galore in my home. The books I read were very varied and I picked up an author I have not read anymore of since 2010 – Deanna Raybourn so I think I might have to rectify that and also share the reviews of the first three novels that I read.

I am going to look at 2011 next, so please pop back at some point over the coming weeks and months to see what I have rediscovered.



The Telephone Box Library – Rachael Lucas

Who could not fall in love with this cover, but the words within it are just as delightful to fall in love with.

After teaching for ten years Lucy has to take a break otherwise she will burn out completely. To get away from it all, to rest recuperate and perhaps find out what she wants to do next she spends the next six months in a little cottage in a Cotswold village.

The catch she can live virtually rent free in this cottage if she looks after another village resident, Bunty.

Trouble is Bunty really doesn’t need much looking after, despite what her daughter in law thinks. She is quite content, in a house full of memories and an eclectic mix of pets.

Lucy a history teacher is fascinated with the area and the fact that they are so close to Bletchley Park, which played a pivotal part in World War Two she knows she will be able to do some of her own research during her recuperation.

However the villagers have other ideas and Lucy finds herself, making friends quickly and becomes involved with local projects such as what to do with the old red telephone box, now surplus to requirements.

But the telephone box holds special memories for Bunty and has history with it – but will she ever tell anyone what she did during the war? Lucy’s research goes into overdrive and she wants to find out the truth behind Bunty and what she did in the war, so many other villagers know something but Bunty is not very forthcoming.

What is Bunty’s secret and what does it have to do with the telephone box?

It seems that the interest of the village, the phone box and the surrounding areas as well as some of the other villagers are a real pull for Lucy. Perhaps this is where she needs to be to make her own history.

This is a joyous and delightful read which appealed to me greatly considering my love (and degree in) for history and the fact that I too am fascinated by what went on at Bletchley Park and that no one knew anything about it. I really don’t think in today’s world of social media that secrets could now be kept.

The book has so much packed in between the cover that you just can’t help but be drawn into the story both the past and the present. Strongly recommended by me!

Another great read from Rachael Lucas and it is a place I would love to go back and visit sometime.

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

The Telephone Box Library is published on 9 January. 




Tracy Rees – Books

The House at Silvermoor is the fifth book by the author Tracy Rees. I have been lucky enough to read it and my review will be coming up in the next few weeks.

However it got me thinking about her previous four books and I thought it would be an opportunity to tell you all about her books. They are historical fiction in the main, but there is something about each and everyone of them that does not actually fit nicely into a prescriptive box. This is something that speaks to me – as I do not fit nicely into a prescriptive box as some of my friends will testify to.

To go back to the beginning..


Amy Snow

No one knows who Amy Snow is, where she came from or what her true name is. She was named Amy by Aurelia Vennaway who found her in the snow one January at Hatville Court.

Unfortunately her start in life is not one of warmth and kindness. She is hated by the owners of Hatville Court and the kitchen staff who are tasked with looking after her find her an additional nuisance to deal with. She is neither servant nor companion, employee or friend. Amy Snow exists to no one at Hatville.

Aurelia though has other ideas and is very strong-willed against her parents and Amy becomes embraced in Aurelia’s life.

Being set in Victorian England, there are obviously going to be comparisons to some other great fiction of the time, Jane Eyre springs to mind, orphan struggle, class position, romance and the search for something. Being the time of Dickens and he is referred to in the novel itself brought with it the descriptions of Victorian life away from the page. The darker places of cities as well as the bright lights of balls, calling cards and receiving guests. The thought of travelling two days to Bath from Twickenham by coach seems unbelievable when it can take mere hours now. All of this is and more is packed into the novel.


Florence Grace

Florrie Buckley knows she was loved and adored by her mother and her father. Being brought up on the wild moors of Cornwall, she knows the importance of nature. She knows the importance at listening to what the spirits are telling you and where they are guiding you and that perhaps whilst it might not be convention it is the way to lead your life.

That is until Florrie Buckley learns something about her past.

Set in Victorian England, this book reminded me less of Victorian gothic writers and more of a story which had a Catherine Cookson element to it. Wild barefoot uncontrollable girl, not after a better life, but one is thrust upon her, when all she wants is to be wild and free again. Will that happen?

The Hourglass

Present day: Nora suddenly has a clear image of a beach, a seaside town. It seems to be calling to her and it is a place she has only been to once in the past. The place is Tenby, Wales.

1950s: Chloe spends three weeks every summer with her aunt and uncle at a seaside town. An opportunity which she spends the other 49 weeks of the year dreaming about. Not only the journey, but the beach and her best friend are their. The place is Tenby, Wales.

The story progresses between these two women and you do find out fairly early on the link between them as that is important as the story and the women’s lives move in very different directions but oddly enough they move most importantly to each other. Suddenly the anxiety of the past and the present makes sense and the future now can be something very different. When the sand has run out, you have to turn the hourglass over and start all over again.

Darling Blue

It is 1923. The First World War is still in the minds of some people but life has moved on and this is the era of the “Bright Young Things” and we get to meet three very different women experiencing their own lives in very different ways but all been drawn together by Darling Blue.

All three of these women are having different experiences of love, romance, marriage and life, Tracy Rees has woven a tale of differences and similarities by these three women in this novel.

All of the titles are linked to my reviews and I do hope that you perhaps find a book here that might interest you. All so different, all so compelling and all worth a read.

All of Tracy’s books can be found via Amazon and more information about the author can found here.

Please note I have received nothing in return for this post or any of the reviews – I just wanted to share my reviews of the books.


Books · Jottings · Witterings

Books in 2019

And with a blink if eye another year has passed (in fact a decade – more about that on another post) and it is time to reflect on what perhaps I have read this year…..

Numbers and statistics first!

107 books in total – 2 less than last year but still more than recent years. And there was no rush to the finish either.

Shortest book was 48 Pages

Longest book was 672 Pages

In total 35,554 pages read.

81 were on my kindle. In the main that is in fact due to my requests on netgalley which has enabled me to read a lot of lovely new books before they hit the shelves and I can share them with you all. However I find that sometimes that can be my undoing as when I ventured into my local bookshop, I looked round and thought ‘read that and that’. That said I am endeavouring to keep my list down on netgalley to a more manageable level and reading more off my shelves….well that’s the plan.

So what books have stood out for me in 2019? Everyone’s list is different, for different reasons and I think sometimes list envy kicks in when you think I have not read the books that everyone else is or has read. So my list is my list.

Mystery and Crime – When I got back to looking at the last ten years of reading, I realise that perhaps this genre has tailed off in recent years. My need for “happy” probably is my current state of mind. However I choose these books

Historical Fiction – now what do I choose to put in this category? Books about the past and ‘real’ people or books simply set in the past. Which some of the books in the previous category would happily fit into.


Multiple Books – in other words authors who I have read more than one of their oeuvre in 2019.

More statistics – 7 authors who I have read 3 books of are as follows Sarah Bennett, Agatha Christie, Emma Davies, Rachel Dove, Liz Eeles, Holly Martin, Robin Stevens. 

I will give a special mention to Agatha Christie – whose work is still confounding people even after all these years.  She cannot of course say anything back to me!

I will pick out another 3 who deserve special mentions

Sarah Bennett – 2019 was the year of Bluebell Castle and the best of her work so far, in my humble opinion. I am a great advocate of her work and witter on about it on here and twitter where we are tiwtter chums.

Holly Martin – her books need no introduction, apart from the fact if you want an absorbing read and pure escapism. Holly must be your go to author.

Robin Stevens – a new author to me and I stumbled across this delightful series of children’s books. They are pitched for 9-11 year olds but I think they are tremendous jolly fun. A cross between Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie and I just love the bright colours of the covers.

Of the authors who I have read 2 books of it is quite a list, Phillipa Ashley, Trisha Ashley, Christie Barlow, Julie Caplin, Georgina Clarke, Liz Fenwick, Rachael Lucas, Libby Page, Laura Purcell, Nancy Revell, Caroline Roberts, Helen Rolfe, Sara Sheridan, Heidi Swain and Tilly Tennant.

Who to choose of the 15….

Heidi Swain – one of the authors who I can rely on to cheer me from beginning of a book right up to the end. And despite many witterings on here I still have not read her first book The Cherry Tree Cafe.


Georgina Clarke – combining many things, strong women, crime and history. What more could someone like me who is a fan of such things want in a novel. A new author this year and one to watch!


Nancy Revell if there ever was a series that you wanted to run and run this is it. If you love historical saga then you will love The Shipyard Girls series.

Christie Barlow – the Love Heart Lane is another heartwarming series and I just want to move there! Which considering I also want to move to Bluebell Castle with Sarah Bennett and Wynbridge with Heidi Swain, it is going to be rather difficult.

And Finally.…mention must go to these

As I look back at this year, I then go back and look at the last decade of reading. But that is for another post because I am really not sure how I consolidate, categories, list or even talk about all those books.

In terms of this blog, I cannot believe it has been going for so long. Thank you to everyone who visits whether it is every week or only now and again.

In 2019 I posted 102 posts (50,731 words!), which looking back is about average. Gone are the heady days of 177 posts in 2012. I actively chose to stop reviewing every book I read as it was becoming too much to maintain and I suppose I have stepped away from posting anything other than ‘book’ posts in the recent years.

So let’s get on with the next year, the next decade and the next book!