Book Review: Sanctuary by V.V. James!

I finished Sanctuary* at a little past midnight and my first thought was that I’m very glad I order my shelves alphabetically because I have no idea where genre-organisers are going to put this one. It’s not the urban fantasy I thought it would be, it’s beyond thriller and the witches will keep it off the topical contemporary shelf. Sanctuary is hard to define beyond the word Brilliant. This is a long one today!


Sanctuary. It’s the perfect town… to hide a secret.

To Detective Maggie Knight, the death of Sanctuary’s star quarterback seems to be a tragic accident. Only, everyone knows his ex-girlfriend is the daughter of a witch – and she was there when he died.

Then the rumours start.

Bereaved mother Abigail will stop at nothing until she has justice for her dead son. Her best friend Sarah will do everything in her power to protect her accused daughter. And both women share a secret that could shatter their lives.

It falls to Maggie to prevent her investigation – and Sanctuary itself – from spiralling out of control.

My initial interest for this book was based in the research that V.V. James did into witchcraft because it’s a topic I’m personally interested in and find fascinating. The note at the end says that while the magical system draws on various sources, it shouldn’t be equated to modern day practices, and I’d love a long article from V.V. James going into this. Her talk at the Gollancz preview night was incredibly detailed, and this research shows in the book.

I know I’m not alone in my avoidance of topical books. I like a lot of books that deal with tough subjects but I feel like when they get too close to the realities of everyday, I find them very stressful to read. There were definitely moments like that in Sanctuary; the President tweets using a lot of words in all caps while disparaging Democrats, there’s religious cultural appropriation, there’s a case of rape with a lot of comments ranging from believing victims to slut shaming, even from police which- yeah. The use of police transcripts, emails, tweets and news articles interspersed between the multiple POVs make it feel very real. But there’s no direct allegory for the witches in Sanctuary and I think that’s kind of the point, there’s a bit of everything from religious persecution, sexism, unethical policing and racism. So by adding magic and witchcraft, for me, it actually stopped it being as anxiety-inducing while still addressing important contemporary problems.

The theme of consent is also explored in a really interesting way. You’ve got the rape storyline which we see all the time in real life; popular sports star doesn’t understand the word no. But you’ve also got the idea that the ‘foundational principle of magic is consent’ so magic without consent goes wrong and causes adverse reactions. I liked the way this was dealt with, and the parallels are really interesting.

A lot happens in this book, and every time you think that that things about to get better for the characters, they probably won’t. It’s a busy novel. By having so many POVs (three main and others popping in), it did feel like some characters fell a little flat and didn’t get much page time. I would’ve loved more from some of the other coven members and their children as it developed but there was so much going on that the book didn’t feel lacking without it.

And the writing, oh, the writing. The power of grief was tangible and even if the actions of the grieving were reprehensible, V.V. James made it believable. It seemed easy for the grief to lead to intolerance, even if it isn’t something we imagine in ourselves, it is something we see a lot in reality that I’ve never really thought about before reading this.

With Sanctuary, V.V. James has created a fantasy version of contemporary America that’s incredibly real and brutal. I know I won’t be alone in hoping that Sanctuary doesn’t stay a stand-alone and becomes a companion-style series dealing with similar issues in a world of fictional witchcraft.

“The giveaway of what happened here is the blown out windows. Each one is blackened with soot round the edges, like evil itself crawled out of every hole it could find.”

Sanctuary is out tomorrow! Will you be picking it up?
Continue Reading

You may also like

Book Review: A Clean Canvas by Elizabeth Mundy!

It’s been a while since I read a really good cosy crime novel so when the opportunity to be on the blog tour for A Clean Canvas* came up, I jumped at it. And I’m so glad I did because this was a blast. So much so that I’ve asked my local library to get in the first book because I really want more of Lena and her investigations.

Crime always leaves a stain…

Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner, dusts off her detective skills when a masterpiece is stolen from a gallery she cleans with her cousin Sarika. But when Sarika goes missing too, accusations start to fly.

Convinced her cousin is innocent, Lena sweeps her way through the secrets of the London art scene. With the evidence mounting against Sarika and the police on her trail, Lena needs to track down the missing painting if she is to clear her cousin.

Embroiling herself in the sketchy world of thwarted talents, unpaid debts and elegant fraudsters, Lena finds that there’s more to this gallery than meets the eye.

A Clean Canvas is the second book in the Lena Szarka mysteries with a Hungarian cleaner solves crimes in London, and if that doesn’t appeal to you then I don’t know what will. There’s something about reading about cleaning and a main character who genuinely enjoys it that just inspired me to do a bit around the house. I even found myself running a wet rag over the skirting boards! I’ve read a cosy crime series about a cleaner before (the Lily Bard series by Charlaine Harris) and this was so much more realistic to me.

I’ll admit, even with a good many detective books on my shelves, I didn’t see who the thief was until the very end. I had many theories along with Lena and it felt like we explored them together rather than being led down a path then told it was a dead end. There were twists and turns and lots of intersections with other life events crossing over our main storyline. It’s a great example of cosy crime and why I tend to reach for it more than other styles of crime books.

I liked that even in a light-hearted read, there was still a fair bit of social commentary on how the middle-classes treat people who work for them, especially immigrants. When something is stolen, it seems like everyone’s first thought is Lena and her cousin. When things go missing from a clients house, the suspitions are immediately aimed at Lena. It was interesting to see that addressed and not treated as a joke.

The only thing that didn’t work for me was the portrayal of OCD. I felt it came across as quite stereotypical, like a caricature of a person with OCD. However, at 280 pages, I imagine it would be quite difficult to dive into it. The rest of the book was so wonderfully diverse that it really was the only blip.

You can find A Clean Canvas here, and the first book in the series; In Strangers’ Houses here!

“Coffee is terrible everywhere in this country… But at least it is not tea.”

Do you like cosy crime?
Continue Reading

You may also like

Book Review: Christmas with the East End Angels by Rosie Hendry!

The ‘Saga’ genre isn’t featured very much in my reading, despite the appeal of the covers with their pretty distinctive style and quantity of them at my local library. So, when I was offered a book in the genre that also focused on two of my big interests in fiction; Christmas and WWII, I was ready to read Christmas with the East End Angels*!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – and the East End Angels are working hard to keep Londoners safe.

Frankie is trying hard to keep everything together. She can count on the support of the East End Angels, even in the face of family trouble.
Winnie’s beloved husband, Mac, is putting himself at risk every day in the bomb disposal unit and she’s finding it hard while he’s away.
Bella is growing in confidence and happiness. Her friendship with Winnie’s brother, James, is getting closer all the time.

Christmas on the Home Front is a hard time with loved ones far away – but the women of the Auxiliary Ambulance service are making do and mending.

The books I lean towards are very suspenseful and action-packed so this was a change. It focuses on London post-Blitz and feels very calm and away from the action of war, despite their readiness! With this came a focus on character and feeling that, despite not reading the previous two books in the series, meant that I was emotionally invested. It was so relatable that I felt their grief and even found myself getting a little teary eyed!

It was also quite cheesy. It’s definitely part of the charm of this genre but the dialogue isn’t always super realistic with everyone saying every little positive thing they think out loud. There are lots of declarations about doing what they need to do for the war and keeping calm and carrying on!

This is balanced out by the amount of research and background knowledge that Rosie Hendry obviously has on the time period. It isn’t overdone as some historical fiction is, where the authors are trying to shove every bit of information they have in. Hendry writes like people living at the time with her characters revealing interesting tidbits: like the lack of rationing on sprouts!, in a realistic way that I really appreciated.

Since it is Christmas of the East End Angels, the book covers two Christmases and the year in between. This is a nice way to ease you into the season since I know not everyone is as keen as I am to get their decorations up as soon as the last trick-or-treater has taken their candy. Personally, I would’ve preferred a bit more of a festive vibe, but I have been singing carols since September so I’m not sure I can be trusted…

Are you a fan of the Saga genre? Have you started reading your Christmas themed books yet?
Continue Reading

You may also like

Book Review: The Haunting of Mount Cod by Nicky Stratton!

It’s been a while since I dipped my toe into the cozy crime genre. It’s a genre that I truly love but, like romances, it seems to be sold primarily in Ebook form which I can’t read. So when I got an email about a paperback copy of The Haunting of Mount Cod by Nicky Stratton* for the blog tour, you can bet I was waiting by my the letterbox for its arrival.



Lady Laura Boxford lives with her pug, Parker in the retirement complex of Wellworth Lawns, formerly her family home. One day she and her friend Venetia see the ancient actor, Sir Repton Willowby arriving. He’s Venetia’s cousin by marriage and Venetia says he murdered his wife. He lives at the Edwardian pile, Mount Cod and he says he’s being haunted by the ghost of an eighteenth century serving wench called Rosalind.


Laura is convinced he’s a charlatan using the ghost as a ruse for finding a new wife. She determines to get to the bottom of the mystery on account of Venetia’s daughter who stands to inherit Mount Cod. But did Sir Repton murder his wife and is the house haunted?


Something I really appreciated from the get-go was the age of the main characters! It’s very rare to read a book with older characters that aren’t just there to give wise advice to the youth. The Haunting of Mount Cod is not only jam-packed with older people, it’s set in a care home. And Laura, Venetia, Repton- the whole cast are still having adventures, going out and about, solving crime. It made me realise how much I want to read from this different perspective, and how many of my books seem to be unspoken dystopias where everyone disappears at 40.

As for the crime, it did get a little confusing as more and more characters got involved but I was flip-flopping back and forth about who did it and why until the big reveal. And then, of course, everything made sense! That’s the kind of experience I want with any kind of crime novel, cozy or not. I want to know everything the narrator knows and figure it out with them. Laura was the best kind of cozy crime narrator; nosey and determined!

One thing that let the book down for me was the representation. There is Bulgarian maid who leaves words out of her sentences, an “OCD headcase“, and g*psy is used a lot, which isn’t great- but these characters are older and I think its unfortunately a fairly accurate representation of the older generations. It’s a slur that some people don’t see as damaging but since they are portrayed as heavy drinkers and thieves, it’s something to consider. However, a character does describe themselves as Gender Queer which is pretty rare to see, and the female MC calls out a sexist comment made by a man.

Overall, I enjoyed my trip back into cozy crimes and I’m going to have to explore more into the genre as they’re such lighthearted reads that I can fit between the Victorian tomes that fill my reading list right now. If The Haunting of Mount Cod sounds like your kind of read, you can pre-order it for Thursday here! And make sure to check out my fellow blog tour hosts for their opinions and extracts!

“This toing and froing of ideas in her head was like windscreen wipers going full tilt in a snow storm.”

Do you have a favourite cozy crime? What is it?
Continue Reading

You may also like

Book Review: Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff!

My non-fiction shelf is dominated by medical memoirs; be it a doctor from the 1800s or a midwife from the 1950s, I can’t get enough of the mix of medicine and drama. So when the opportunity to be on the blog tour for Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff* came up, I jumped! Based in the 1970s? Covering student nursing? In London? It sounded right up my alley, and I couldn’t wait.

Not Your Average Nurse by Maggie Groff!



To a young girl the life of a student nurse sounds exciting, but with long hours and short shrift it’s never easy. So when Maggie Groff embarks as a student nurse at London’s King’s College Hospital she must quickly get to grips with the demands of her chosen career. It’s sink or swim.

In a delightful romp through time, played out against the march of feminism and the fashion, music and movies of almost half a century ago, we follow Maggie’s highs and lows as with trial and much error she becomes a highly skilled nurse and sets sail for a new life in Australia.

From the watchful gaze of stern ward sisters and the ordeals of nursing at a poor housing estate to becoming an industrial nurse at the iconic Sydney Opera House, Maggie shares her stories of mistakes and mayhem, tea and sympathy, and the life-affirming moments that make it all worthwhile.

This book is a wonderfully written memoir covering 1970 to 1985 and has some brilliantly written parts, as one would expect from an award-winning novelist. What I didn’t expect was to be whipped away to Switzerland, Australia and Ibiza, and to be shown the differences between hospital nursing, industrial nursing and even elderly nun nursing. All while staying pretty charmingly British and cosy to read.

Maggie Groff has had a truly amazing life. She shows the up and the downs of nursing- and life at the same time. While I don’t think I could handle the night duty and the emergencies, I’m totally jealous. I was quite close to looking into a nursing career while reading! But I think what this memoir really shows is what you can do with a strong attitude and determination. Maggie Groff knew what she wanted and she did it, be it quitting an underpaying job or flying out to live across the globe all alone.

The comparison to Call the Midwife has to be made because they’re both memoirs about UK based nursing in the past, although set 20 years apart. I get the same comforting feeling I get from the books, and the slightly-less-so-but-still-there judgement of women by their appearance, but Maggie Groff has had a much more varied career. If you liked one, I think you’d like the other.

One thing I did raise my eyebrows a little at the one racist paragraph, where she tells the reader about a rumour implying the Chinese nurses were eating ducks from the park; “I never believed the rumour, especially as I had started it.” It was obviously the 1970s and we all say things when we’re young, but this was never addressed again which is unfortunate.

Overall though, this is what it says on the cover, an entertaining true story of a student nurse in 1970s London. And so much more. Prepare to see the effects of Feminism in nursing, a family lose a mother to cancer and a great balance of a polished story and the raw real-life events.

If you want to read it, you can pre-order here for it’s release on Wednesday. And there will be more blog tour posts from KellyDeeJoLorraineCarly and Adele during the week!

“It wouldn’t matter if he was a thief or a prince. Everyone who walks through the hospital doors receives the same respectful treatment. It’s what underpins King’s, Maggie. It’s what’s right.”

 Where do you put memoirs on your shelf; fiction or non-fiction? Will you pick this one up?

*I was provided a copy of the book for the blog tour, this hasn’t changed my opinion.
Continue Reading

You may also like

Blog Tour: Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott Thomas

It’s rare you see books from the German perspective when it comes to the Second World War and Nazi Germany. I’ve only read one. So when I got an email about Fifteen Words blog tour, and a guest post by the author about her choice to write from a German perspective? Count me in! Hopefully my readers will find this as fascinating as I do. So, without further ado, Monika Jephcott Thomas…

Fifteen Words by Monika Jephcott Thomas



Two young doctors form a profound and loving bond in Nazi Germany; a bond that will stretch them to the very limits of human endurance. Catholic Max – whose religious and moral beliefs are in conflict, has been conscripted to join the war effort as a medic, despite his hatred of Hitler’s regime. His beloved Erika, a privileged young woman, is herself a product of the Hitler Youth. In spite of their stark differences, Max and Erika defy convention and marry.

But when Max is stationed at the fortress city of Breslau, their worst nightmares are realised; his hospital is bombed, he is captured by the Soviet Army and taken to a POW camp in Siberia. Max experiences untold horrors, his one comfort the letters he is allowed to send home: messages that can only contain Fifteen Words. Back in Germany, Erika is struggling to survive and protect their young daughter, finding comfort in the arms of a local carpenter. Worlds apart and with only sparse words for comfort, will they ever find their way back to one another, and will Germany ever find peace?


The story I had to tell…

We’ve all sorted through dusty boxes in attics full of photos of our parents in their salad days, letters they sent to each other, memories they shared, perhaps even secrets they kept. For those of us over forty those memories, no doubt, were often coloured by the Second World War. It was whilst doing just that in my own parents’ trove of memories that I discovered stories that were the thrilling, gripping, emotive stuff of novels, which is why I decided to turn them into one.

I think it is safe to say, all writers want their novels to be a critical and commercial success, so writing a novel in English (since I came to live in the UK in 1966) about two young Germans struggling to survive the war in Nazi Germany may seem to be commercial suicide when there has been a tendency in recent years to decry any depiction of the German perspective of the war as revisionist in the pejorative sense.

But my novel doesn’t seek to suggest a moral equivalence between the Axis and the Allies, or to minimize Nazi crimes, or deny the Holocaust. On the contrary. I felt compelled to write this novel now in an age when Europe is once again seeing how war can displace and tear apart the lives of families from so many different countries at the same time, just as it did in World War Two. Then, not only Polish and Russian people became refugees, not only did millions of ordinary British, French, Italians, Africans (the list goes on) lose their lives, but millions of ordinary Germans too. And although it seems almost too obvious to state, it clearly still needs to be stated: not all Germans were Nazis, not all of them supported what Hitler was doing.

German concentration camps are synonymous with the war, but some people will be surprised to find out that the Soviets ran equally barbaric camps for their millions of German prisoners. In my novel Fifteen Words I hope the reader will find the many other truths told there eye-opening.

But I think my aim with this novel was to write a human story first and foremost. A story about two people in love, struggling to reconcile their different opinions, being swayed by all the powerful forces vying for their faith, be that friends, parents, religion or political parties; the kind of things anyone around the word can relate to. And the more stories we read and tell which show how similar we are, beneath all the wonderful and incredible cultural differences we possess, surely the better the world will be for those children sifting through our memories in the dusty attics of the future – or rather the dusty hard drives and digital footprints of the future – where, one can dream, war will play less of a leading role.


Fifteen Words is being released tomorrow and you can get it here!

Have you read any WWII books from a German perspective? What did you think?
Continue Reading

You may also like

Victoria Walters: Top 5 Books!

I’m really excited today to have a post from debut author Victoria Walters! She is going to share her top 5 books as part of the blog tour for her new book; The Second Love of my Life, published last week. Which is incidentally about a character called Rose Walker, add an Imogen to the beginning of that and you’ve got my name. Spooky. Anyway…

I love so many books so choosing just five is a nightmare for me! I have changed my mind a lot while answering this question but there’s a deadline so I need to make a decision. I am going to go with the ones that I have re-read the most and the ones that have made the most impact on me as a writer.
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen. Austen is my favourite author and I could have easily chosen all of her books for my favourite list but I’ll go with my favourite favourite of hers. I like to re-read this every year. I love Elizabeth, I love the wit and romance, and I’m still waiting for my own Mr Darcy to come alog!
Harry Potter – JK Rowling. I think we are all agreed that this series can be counted as one book, right?! This series will always have a special place in my heart. I love these books so much and spending time in Harry’s world is always time very well spent.
I Capture The Castle – Dodie Smith. This is such a lovely book – a quirky, coming-of-age story with a unique voice that draws you in from the first line. One of my comfort reads, it leaves me feeling all warm and fuzzy.
Twilight – Stephenie Meyer. This is the book that inspired me to take my writing seriously and led to me writing a YA book and finding an agent so really I don’t think this novel (TSLOML) would exist without it. I couldn’t put this book down when I first read it, and it still sucks (sorry for the pun!!) me in whenever I pick it up again.
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë. Just a brilliantly written novel with a main character you root for from the first page. A coming-of-age story mixed with romance and a touch of horror too. The setting and tone are perfect all the way through and the ending always brings tears to my eyes.
Don’t forget to check out my fellow hosts; Sophie, Stacey, Laura and Leah! And thank you to Victoria!
What are your top 5 books?
Continue Reading

You may also like

Christmas Movies with Emma Hannigan!

I’ve got a special author post for you today! As part of her blog tour, Emma Hannigan, author of the new release; The Heart of Winter, is here talking about her favourite Christmas movies that get her in the spirit. Personally, I’ll be watching festive films all December so if you want to know some great options, look no further…


Christmas means different things to different people. Some loath it, finding all the fuss and expenditure infinitely stressful. I can appreciate that line of thinking, but I’m afraid I’m one of those annoying people who gets excited from October onwards!

I also like to be organised. I never do all my shopping in one swoop. I begin picking up bits and bobs from September. I know, feel free to groan. I’m an unashamed Christmas smug. If it makes you feel any better, I still tear off to the shops on the 23rd and panic buy. Why? Because I suddenly think the things I’ve bought aren’t good enough! Agh!

As I write this with full on excited Christmas anticipation I would like to share with you, the things that give me that magical feeling. I wonder if any of you have the same little triggers?

I know there are a load of new movies with Christmas themes, but I tend to fall back on the ones I grew up with. Yule tide wouldn’t be the same without The Wizard of Oz. I know I’m free to watch it at any time of the year, but for some reason I never do. The ruby slippers, Munchkins and dulcet tones of Judy Garland take me back to Christmases past, when I counted down the days to Santa Clause’s arrival.

Home Alone was another stalwart in our house. It’s one of those fabulously violent yet hilarious movies that appeals to all ages.

My daughter is utterly obsessed with The Grinch so it’s been added to the list. Even in her teens she still lights up when it’s on. Her word-for-word recitation alongside the actors can be slightly annoying after half an hour. So she’s been instructed to say the words on the inside now!

I have a confession to make. I’ve never seen It’s a Wonderful Life. I have heard so much about it and for some reason I cannot fathom, I haven’t managed to watch it. Now that I’ve made this confession, I’ll make it my business to rectify the situation before the dawn of 2016.

Needless to say, the movies all must be accompanied by treats. I’ve never been a crisps or savouries type of gal. So it’s chocolate all the way. I still get giddy with excitement at the sight of a selection box. Tins of Roses, Quality Street or Heros are my idea of heaven. The only down side is that it’s impossible to step away from the tin once it’s open. Those divine jewel coloured wrappers seems to call out to me in high-pitched tinny voices saying “eat me”. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

After all, what good would January be if I wasn’t feeling over-fed and slovenly? My post chocolate binge is the best reason in the world to get myself back to the swimming pool. Herbie my dog is the world’s biggest January fan. Our walks increase and he never needs to sit at my feet with those please-bring-me-for-a-walk eyes. Movies with chocolate guilt kick start my year with a splash and a strut.

I hope you watch all the movies that warm the cockles of your heart. I hope you are surrounded by the people you love and most of all, I hope there’s chocolate – and lots of it! 

Thank you to Emma for this post! You should definitely watch It’s a Wonderful Life, it’s a great film and on Netflix! Don’t forget to check out The Heart of Winter and look for my review coming next week.


What are your favourite Christmas movies?
Continue Reading

You may also like

Barbara Nadel: Research Trip on a Budget!

I love travel, and I love when books take me away to places that I’ve never visited. Barbara Nadel writes detective novels based in Istanbul and she’s here today to talk about her last research trip and her experience travelling on a budget. Her new book is Land of the Blind, the 17th Inspector Ikmen mystery!


Every so often my life falls apart. It’s nothing to worry about, that’s just the way that it is. I’m accustomed to frequent upheavals and so it’s probably better that they happen to me rather than to someone who is used to a more even keel.

So it was last year, we hit the financial rocks again just as I was planning my next research trip to Istanbul. I’m always budget conscious when it comes to flights and so I will often fly at bizarre times to save a few pounds. My flights were fine. I frequently stay with friends and so accommodation is generally taken care of too. But this time I had to find a place to stay and pay for it. It was then that I discovered that even my usual haunts were now beyond my etiolated pocket. So I picked a cheap place that was in an area I know and crossed my fingers.

My arrival at the Hotel Blah (name changed to protect the guilty) was hardly auspicious. The man in front of me in the immigration queue at Ataturk Airport fell to the ground fitting and, despite the best efforts of a nurse, died in front of me. Now I’ve worked in a hospital and so I’ve seen death before. But this was death of a sudden, out of context nature and was a deeply distressing incident all round mainly because the poor man’s wife could speak neither Turkish nor English. So no one could communicate with her. She just howled.

I arrived at my hotel in a bit of a state. Luckily for me a friend was there to meet me and whisked me off to a local restaurant for many calming cups of tea. Only when I returned to the hotel later that night did I realise that it was semi derelict. There was a vast hole in the wall beside the staircase which allowed for excellent views of the house next door and was a wonderful source of draughts. But I was tired and skint and so what the hell?

My room, which was basic Turkey circa 1978 was comfortable and clean. It was a pity that the sexual athlete next door, an imposing Russian man, was so noisy in his congress with several women but I assumed he wouldn’t be doing that every night.

And so day dawned on a creature more zombie than human which I attempted to revive with a bit of breakfast in the breakfast room or garden shed out the back. It had a wonderful view of the Sea of Marmara and the food was good enough to set me up for a day of relentless walking. I needed to visit a cemetery in one of the northern suburbs of the city and had decided that, rather than use up valuable cash on my Istanbul Kart travel pass, I’d use my legs.

They didn’t like it, my legs. Six miles on a right leg held together by plates and pins that stick in your flesh when you exert yourself too much isn’t a whole load of fun. I had to get the metro back after limping around cemeteries talking to cats and finding some very disturbing statuary. Night-time in the hotel was once again a lively Russian themed event so, again, it was a good job I was knackered.

The other problem was food. Breakfast was taken care of, now in the company of many large women from somewhere in the Balkans, all very jolly. But what of the rest of the day? When you’re really skint you eat weird stuff. If you’re at home you can cobble together a meal from a load of old lentils and tomatoes. But out in the ‘wild’ you have to graze where you can. So it was things like a cup of coffee with a complimentary biscuit, chocolate bars and a plate of rice with some veg. Long gone are the days when I could get a man to buy me a meal. The amount of scaffolding and paint needed to hold my face up and make it respectable looking do not exist in this galaxy. But I did have a very nice cuppa with a priest and a lovely meal, at the end of my stay, with friends.

The Russian next door was on a sexual roll for all of that week. But human beings are adaptable and so I learned how to drop off to the sound of multiple orgasms. As I checked out, the police arrived to shut the place down which was a shame. Cheap, clearly doubling as a knocking shop (for those who don’t speak East End this is a brothel) it was clean, if cold and when you returned at night you did feel a bit like you were living in some sort of espionage novel. Did I mention that you had to knock and then show you face to get in? You did, it was wonderful.

So no Rolls Royces for me. But then I’m not really a Rolls kind of a girl. My life’s a bit more back together now and so I expect if I go to Istanbul again soon I’ll bung a whole load of cash on my Istanbul Kart and eat some protein. But maybe not. Maybe that would be too much like tempting fate…

Thank you to Barbara for this post! It sounds like it was a very interesting trip. Land of the Blind is available now here!

What are your budget travel tips? 

Continue Reading

You may also like

Sheila O’Flanagan: Top 5 Holiday Reads!

Today I have a very exciting post for you! Sheila O’Flanagan, the author of If You Were Me, has written a list of her top 5 holiday reads. For me, reading on holiday is the best reading you can do- there’s no internet, no distractions, it’s just relaxing entertainment and I’ve written two posts; here and here about my choices for holiday books so I thought it would be interesting to see Sheila’s. So here we go!

I like a mixture of genres when I go on holiday. I always pack at least one light book, and something humorous because its nice to chuckle on the sunbed. I also enjoy a thriller, as well as a historical read, either fiction or non-fiction. Hopefully youll find this a nice summer mixture of light and a little more challenging:
I love Ciara Geraghtys writing and the fact that all her books are quite different from each other. This one is a love story but its more about finding yourself again. Part of it is written from a male point of view and its brilliantly done. Saying something is funny and poignant is a bit of a cliché but its definitely true about this lovely book and its my top choice for summer reading this year!
I really enjoyed both of these novels when they were first published. They shed a different light on the Tudor court of Henry VIII and some of the most memorable characters in English history. Even though the TV series was really good (if a bit dark indoors!) nothing compares to the books.
The Jack Reacher series is my go-to series for a thriller with an iconic hero whos always a match for the bad guys. Sometimes a series with the same character can get a little stale but one of the ways Child manages to keep Reacher interesting is by not being chronological with all of the novels and occasionally going back to a previous time in Reachers life. This one takes us back to his time in the US army and his investigation into the sudden death of a General.
Sophie is one of the funniest writers around. I prefer her stand alone novels to the Shopaholic series and I think my favourite of her books was Ive Got Your Number which was laugh-out-loud hilarious. Finding Audrey is a YA novel about a girl with Social Anxiety Disorder and it sounds just as good as Sophies adult novels so has to be worth a read.
Confessions by Jaume Cabré
This is a 750 page novel translated from Catalan and you need a nice stretch of free time to read it. Its about a man who begins to examine his familys past after the death of his father. In fact its the story of Europe from the Inquisition to Auschwitz but it was the opening line that made me buy it: It wasnt until last night, walking along the wet streets of Vallarca, that I finally comprehended that being born into my family had been an unforgivable mistake. Who hasnt thought that at some point!!!

Thank you to Sheila for sharing her top 5 holiday reads. My book wishlist has definitely grown! 
What are your holiday reads?
Continue Reading

You may also like