The Facts of Life and Death by Belinda Bauer

Facts of Life This is a new author to me, discovered through the Kindle British Mystery Book Club. I must give praise for the vivid descriptive writing and the chilling psychological theme.

Couldn’t put this one down and I will certainly look for more by Bauer. The story is told through a 10-year old girl’s perspective but don’t be put off and think it’s childish dialogue. Young Ruby Trick adores her father and does what she can to please him. John Trick indulges Ruby, taking her fishing and on secret “cowboy missions.”

John Trick hasn’t worked in years, being laid off from several jobs and so he fills his days fishing, drinking Strongbow cider and running around with a local group called the Gunslingers. The Gunslingers are a group who dress like cowboys and watch American cowboy shows.

Ruby’s mother, Alison, appears to be a spoilsport in their lives yet she is only one working and her advice and intentions are meant for the good of the family. There is clear tension between her and John which doesn’t escape Ruby’s attention.  Her father fans the flames of resentment which causes Ruby to unfairly judge her mother.

Several chapters in the story takes a turn.  A young woman is kneeling on the beach, naked except for socks, shivering in the cold and with fear.  A man stands before her and directs her to call her mother.

‘Call your mother.’
‘What do I say?’
‘Say goodbye.’

Here it gets more chilling and escalates.  Everyone seems to have secrets in this book and I thought some of those secrets were not resolved. Maybe I missed something but I don’t want to give spoilers here.

Overall a very satisfying book and definitely a good fix for my British mystery cravings.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday



Broadchurch and The Kindle English Mystery Book Club


Today I wanted to share my excitement over the pending release of Broadchurch (season three) and a new British mystery club I recently discovered.

Season one captivated me with the story line, the music and the starring cast of David Tennant and Olivia Colman.   We caught up with the second season and are now eagerly awaiting our local library to catalog the third.  I’m second in line for the DVD so I’m sure we’ll binge watch it the week it’s available for pick-up.


As for bookish things,  I am geared up for the Kindle English Mystery Book Club.


As a Goodreads member I’ve been looking at this group  for a while and finally joined up.  If you are a fan of British authors and mysteries, this is a great group.  There are many suggestions for authors and crime novels so you’ll always have good choices.  This is helping me discover new books, way more than I can read this year ….so far.

By way of a poll on the site they select two new books to read for the month.  One is a value read, meaning it can be purchased at a good price.  For September they read Tana French’s novel The Trespasser.  As I had read that one previously I decided not to join in at that time.  The value read was Agatha Christie’s novel Sparkling Cyanide.

Coming up for October we will be reading The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards and the value read is The Whistable Pearl Mystery by Julie Wassmer.   A discussion thread opens the following month.  Looking forward to that as these authors are new to me.

So, are you a fan of Broadchurch and are you looking forward to the latest season?

What new authors have you discovered lately?  Please share 🙂

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday



Sleeping in the Ground by Peter Robinson


Book # 24 in the Inspector banks series!  I love this series so I dropped everything when the book arrived.  I will surely abandon a current book for the latest publication by Robinson or Tana French.  Absolutely.

This one starts with a mass shooting immediately following a wedding.  A sniper takes aim at a wedding party, killing the bride instantly and goes on to attack the rest of the wedding party.  It was an exciting fast paced start to be sure. Banks is away attending the funeral  of a former love and is unaware of the case until DI Annie Cabbot finally gets through on his mobile. The shooter sat on a hill with an excellent view of the church and festivities, getting away quickly before police could be called in.

As always the mystery and the ah-ha moment comes together near the very end.  Great detective work.  If you want a good police procedural type mystery this is the book for you.  I have read these books in order but you don’t have to do so.  Fair warning though – as there are personal and professional developments with Alan Banks and members of Eastvale Police Department in each book, you may discover something about one the regular characters (spoilers) if you read them out of order.

Since English painter David Hockney’s paintings were mentioned I thought I would include two.  I have a few of his paintings saved in my Pinterest account and was pleased by a mention of him in this book by artist Ray Cabbot (Annie’s father).

Food and Drink mentioned

Banks and Ray Cabbot have a conversation about Ray’s moving to Yorkshire:  “Banks laughed and drank more Laphroig. He could get used to the peaty taste again very easily. “Any particular reason you want to move to Yorkshire?
Ray shuffled in his seat,” Something about the light up here.  Hell, if Hockney could do it, I don’t see why I can’t.

Avocado, quinoa and tomato salad for Annie’s pub lunch.

Roast Cod with watercress sauce and roasted cherry tomatoes, buttered new potatoes and haricots verts with white Rioja wine.

Ken Blackstone is always a fan of curry and I like when Banks meets up with him to discuss a case.  They ordered a couple of pints of lager, samosas to start, then Vindaloo for Blackstone and Lamb Korma for Banks, with Aloo Gobi, rice and plenty of naans.

Pat, the Australia barmaid, brought in two large platters of nachos and pints of Black Sheep bitter.

As you can see there was plenty of food inspiration for me to choose from.  I was tempted by the nachos and Annie’s salad but ultimately had the craving for Indian food so……I made a Veggie Tikka Masala.  Something Ken Blackstone can get into and vegetarian style for Annie.  Recipe may be found at Squirrel Head Manor.


Linking up with:
Heather for September’s Foodie Reads
Beth Fish Reads for Weekend Cooking Series
Joy for British Isles Friday
Girlxoxo Reading Challenge – September theme Murder Mystery
Simona’s Novel Food #31


Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson

singled out

Singled Out: How Two Million British Women Survived Without Men After the First World War.

This book is a newly acquired item at our local library.  Since the subject matter and time period is one I am interested in I had to get on the list.  It’s definitely a scholarly publication and not a beach read at all.  OK, that should go without saying considering the topic and title.

The author clearly researched this in great detail and so it read like a textbook at times.

There are excerpts from diaries and memoirs written by the women of that era.  Those passages tell you so much about their resolve, their loneliness and in many cases about ambition to make life better for women in the workplace.

This blurb form the book tells you quite a bit.


A chapter about “Surplus Women” tells us about consequences of women who weren’t able to marry as their fiancées were killed during the war.  Some of the men who returned suffered from PTSD ( called shell shock back then) or from awful debilitating injuries and were unable to resume the life they left.   The young ladies who imagined a life with husband, children and a traditional place in society (considering the norm of those times) had to adjust to a completely different way of life.

I didn’t finish the book but plan to request it again from the library.  I just ran out of time.

About the author

Virginia Nicholson was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and grew up in Yorkshire and Sussex. She studied at Cambridge University and lived abroad in France and Italy, then worked as a documentary researcher for BBC Television. Her books include the acclaimed social histories Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939, Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men after the First World War, and Millions Like Us: Women’s Lives During the Second World War. 

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday


The English Rose Cafe in Havana Florida

It’s been a while since I could post and hook up with British Isles Friday.  I missed it.  Actually I have read a few books since the last time I posted but life takes a turn with family death and a hurricane so……I have neglected the book blog.

Today I want to join in and share a new place we discovered in Havana Florida. It’s a cute English tea room and decorated to resemble a cross between a pub and a tea room.


We haven’t tried it yet but have looked through the windows.  One day before the storm we walked by with Aja, getting her last walk in before the rains started.  A couple was sitting outside enjoying a bottle of wine and sandwiches.  Since we had Aja we couldn’t stop…..but we plan to in the future.



I love all the decorations, new and old, and I may just need to get the waving Queen gadget for my car.  Hope all is well in your world!

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday.


A Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes…and other bookish thoughts

barnesjulian_senseofanendingI recently finished A Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.  When I realized a movie was in the works for this book I decided to stop procrastinating and get started.  Every once in awhile I like to do a comparison of the book vs film.

Have you read this one?  If so you’ll know the ending and that would just about ruin the movie for me, knowing what was coming.  It’s not a dynamic book in regard to action or mystery but it’s a well written study of an ordinary man’s life and memories.   More importantly, how our memories change with age.

Tony remembered a letter he had written to a friend, it’s tone and language benign and casual. When that original letter is given to him some 40 years later he’s shocked by the vitriolic tome and his thoughts.  That letter changed many things along the way but it’s only revealed how all that worked out near the end.

This mess on the table here is my latest haul from the library. I just started The Alice Network.  It’s a page turner so far.  Himself by Jess Kidd is next, unless my Peter Robinson book is released then I’m jumping on it.


The weather has been poor with rain every single day.  To get one of our walks in we went to a local mall and roamed it at a pretty good pace.  This particular mall is dying and almost 90% of the stores are closed.  That makes for good walking inside with nearly zero traffic.  Even teens don’t hang out there.

The only bookstore there is a Barnes and Noble so we walked around in there checking out some new titles.  Doug would like the new Neil DeGrasse Tyson book and I would like the latest Susie Steiner mystery.  The Pumpkin Cookbook was also available but as chance has it, I just grabbed it from the library.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday  for the Sense of an Ending book.  The author, Julian Patrick Barnes, is an English writer.  He won the Man Booker Prize for this book.


The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

forgotten Garden

This book has more than one story line, there are multiple narratives and I hung on to each and every one. Of the Kate Morton books I have read so far, this is by far the very best one. It’s not predictable and the armchair traveling in this took me to Cornwall and London England, Sydney Australia and New York City. Traveling and mystery – what more could I ask for?!

The story lines all come together in spite of many characters living and dying in different time periods. There is a mystery about one of our main characters named Nell. The book starts in 1913 with Nell as a 4 year old, hiding out aboard ship destined for Australia. A lady she refers to as The Authoress tells her to hide and wait for her. But the lady never returns and young Nell is left alone with her suitcase at a port in Australia.
A port master can’t leave a small child alone so he takes her home for the evening. No one reports her missing, no one comes to claim Nell so eventually the port master and his wife keep her. No formal adoption, they just move away and start fresh.  Years later the Port Master and wife have four daughters and Nell thinks they are all her natural family.

On Nell’s 21st birthday her father (the port master) tells her about how they found her. It’s devastating to lose one’s identity just like that. In a snap Nell feels she doesn’t belong and tries to find out where she does belong.  The story skips back and forth in time so you know what happens with Nell until her death late in life. This introduces us to another major character – her granddaughter Cassandra.

Cassandra is close to her grandmother Nell and after her death she inherits everything. But there is one property she is surprised to find out about. The deed to a house called Cliff Cottage in Cornwall England.

Cassandra’s story starts in 1975 but we jump to 2005 and things get mysterious. She is the one who will search the clues left about Nell’s true identity. I like her character very much and enjoyed her chapters.

The Authoress is revealed as Eliza Makepeace (what a cool name!) and she is an adventurous character. She is also the writer of fairy tales. Her back story is fascinating and weaves into Nell’s story eventually. There are quite a few other characters that play crucial parts but rather than get into it all – please read this one if you are a Kate Morton fan. Twists I didn’t see coming and a good conclusion with mysteries solved.

Some food mentions here but it’s not a foodie book.
Bowls of beef and rosemary stew
Pasta with pine nuts and Gorgonzola cheese
Morgy Broth
Sandwiches (and tea of course)

Roasted chicken and smoked Gouda pressed sandwich.  There’s a bit of leftover spinach in there too.  A simple side salad with grape tomatoes, feta and balsamic vinegar dressing. Oh. Yeah.  This was a treat Cassandra may enjoy at the hotel in Cornwall.


Are you fans of Kate Morton’s novels?  If so, which are your favorites?  I have read this one as well as The House at Riverton and The Lake House.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday  and with Deb at Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday series. The linkup for this week’s Souper Sunday may be found HERE. Also linking with Heather’s July linkup for Foodie Reads. Check out Foodie Reads at Based on a True Story. You’ll always find good reviews there 😊