I’ve always craved endless hours to read and play with my dogs but I have no concentration. I’ve tried psychological thrillers to grip me, lighthearted romance to try to escape….. but nothing is working!
Luckily this chap has no idea what is going on in the world. It is just a normal day.
He isn’t always like that.
At five months old he has developed selective deafness. He doesn’t respond if I tell him to stop digging the garden, chewing the plants and picking up stones., but he hears the treat tin just fine!
I wouldn’t mind if he left the contents of the garden outside, but he insists on bringing me gifts of leaves, soil, pebbles, and branches.
As if I’m not cleaning enough!
Then at 7pm, he sinks into a twelve-hour slumber fest of utter contentment.
I’m not jealous at all!
I hope you are getting some enjoyment from your books or dogs (or both).
Sending positive and healing thoughts to everyone who is struggling today.
I thought I knew how to help them. I knew nothing.
When Lydia and Josh Green walk into Karen’s office for counselling one rainy February morning, Karen sees a couple under stress, almost at breaking point. A husband working long hours at the hospital, a wife working longer hours at home with their young children.
They’re just a normal couple, with normal problems, and Karen is determined to help, but she knows she must be careful. Once in the past, she went too far – her need to fix other people’s lives tipped her over the edge… and someone got hurt.
But the couple won’t open up. And just as Karen begins to feel the couple are hiding a secret darker than the problems of an everyday marriage, she receives something which makes her question her own safety.
With everything she has been through, can Karen trust herself? She needs to listen and she needs to watch Lydia and Josh carefully – there is something there that could be the key to saving them all, if only she can unlock it in time…
The Divorce will have you reading through the night and the ending will leave you breathless. Perfect for everyone who loved Gone Girl, The Woman in the Window and The Wife Between Us.
Last year I was lucky enough to join the blog tour for The Argument by Victoria Jenkins. I enjoyed the book so much that I was eager to read Victoria’s previous book which was published in July 2019.
In The Divorce, you get to know a married couple from questions asked by their marriage therapist Karen. I found it interesting how Karen built up a mental profile of the couple through observing body language and based on what they didn’t say as well as what they did.
Lydia and Josh are resentful of each other and unwilling to divulge what is really wrong in their marriage. The tension in the room builds as week by week Karen begins to see the cracks and hostility between the couple in the awkward and strained hourly sessions.
Karen lives alone since the death of her husband. She becomes anxious about some strange occurrences and you can feel her isolation and nervous tension.
The book takes an unexpected turn, which I didn’t see coming, although I knew all was not how it seemed. At this point the book becomes gripping and I just had to keep the pages turning. The characters were not created to be likeable but I still invested in the story and found it to be an enjoyable read.
Thank you Bookouture (via NetGalley) for the chance to read and review The Divorce.
A luminous, life-affirming novel about a 12-year-old boy who is the sole survivor of a deadly plane crash
One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 216 passengers aboard: among them a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a Wall Street millionaire flirting with the air hostess; an injured soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons, bickering over who gets the window seat. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.
Dear Edward depicts Edward’s life in the crash’s aftermath as he struggles to make sense of the meaning of his survival, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and find his place in the world without his family. In his new home with his aunt and uncle, the only solace comes from his friendship with the girl next door, Shay. Together Edward and Shay make a startling discovery: hidden in his uncle’s garage are sacks of letters from the relatives of the other passengers, addressed to Edward.
As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront some of life’s most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given? And what does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?
‘A rich, big-hearted tapestry. Fans of Room and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will be spellbound by Dear Edward‘ Chloe Benjamin, author of The Immortalists
‘A profoundly beautiful, page-turning story of mystery, loss, and wonder’ Hannah Tinti, author of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley and The Good Thief
‘Dear Edward is a masterpiece that should be at the top of everyone’s reading list.’ J. Courtney Sullivan, bestselling author of Saints for All Occasions
‘I loved Dear Edward so, so much. It made me laugh and weep. Magnificent!’ Lily King, author of Euphoria
Eddie Adler’s life changes dramatically when he becomes the sole survivor of a plane crash. His family are dead and he is taken in by his aunt and uncle, who try to help Eddie rebuild his life both physically and mentally.
The twelve-year-old asks that he should now be referred to as Edward, preferring Eddie to stay in the past along with the memories of his mother, father, and brother. It is incredibly hard not to really feel for the grief-stricken, traumatised child who finds even the simplest acts like eating and sleeping incredibly difficult.
The story moves between two timelines, the passengers on the airline and the lead up to the crash and Edward’s recovery. His childless aunt and uncle try to connect but they have been thrown into the unknown and you feel their desperation to do the right thing. However, Edward finds a true friend in Shay, a young girl who lives next door.
Dear Edward is about the stages of grief and the slow, harsh road to acceptance. It’s heartbreaking, real and brings out emotions that you thought were well hidden. The fact that the story revolves around such a young boy makes the storyline even more powerful and the way that Ann Napolitano describes emotions is extremely profound. I loved the sensitivity that comes through and although the story is about sadness, it also lifts you and makes you want to reach out to your loved ones.
Thank you to Ellie from Viking, (Penguin) for a copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.
Today I am thrilled to join the blog tour for Away With The Penguins by Hazel Prior.
Thanks to Anne Cater, Transworld Publishing and the author for a copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.
Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary. And she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick, although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone. She can be found either collecting litter from the beach (‘people who litter the countryside should be shot’), trying to locate her glasses (‘someone must have moved them’) or shouting instructions to her assistant, Eileen (‘Eileen, door!’). Veronica doesn’t have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway . . . And she has no idea where she’s going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies. But today . . . today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change all of this. She is going on an intrepid journey – to save the penguins.
Last year I thoroughly enjoyed reading Ellie and the Harpmaker by Hazel Prior. It was an extremely unique read and one of my favourite books from 2019. When I heard that the author had a new publication and that it featured penguins I was excited to find out more.
From the start, I loved the feisty octogenarian, Veronica McCreedy. Although she wasn’t always kind to her loyal housekeeper Eileen, I knew that she had a warm heart and determined spirit. A wooden box containing diaries and a locket has remained locked away for decades. Once opened they stir up some memories which Veronica has tried hard to forget. She begins to wonder what will happen to her vast wealth when she passes away and decides to grab the chance to go on an amazing adventure.
One of Veronica’s main pleasures in life is to watch tv wildlife documentaries, especially her particular favourite which is all about the life of penguins. When Veronica announces to Eileen that she intends to join the research party into the life of Adelie penguins in Antarctica, the housekeeper hopes it will soon be forgotten. However, this is Veronica McCreedy and nothing gets in her way once her mind is made up!
Despite warnings from the scientists about the harsh conditions Veronica arrives, promising a large donation to the research fund, once she has seen the penguins for herself. The book is expertly researched and the author is extremely knowledgable about these most endearing creatures and their conservation.
There are some incredibly poignant moments as we learn more about Veronica’s past and a grandson called Patrick enters Veronica’s life. There are both humorous and heartfelt moments in this quirky, informative read. I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully written story which has such an important message behind it.
I honestly didn’t think Hazel Prior could top Ellie and the Harpmaker but she has produced another gem and I can’t wait to see what comes next from this talented author.
About The Author
HAZEL PRIOR lives on Exmoor with her husband and a huge ginger cat. As well as writing, she works as a freelance harpist.
There are some things in life that only a dog can teach you.
A poignant, heart-wrenching, but ultimately uplifting novel about the unbreakable bond between a boy and his dog. Perfect for fans of A Dog’s Purpose, The Art of Racing in the Rain and Marley and Me.
In the farming town of Riverside in Washington, Toby Fuller is feeling more alone than ever. Nothing Toby did was ever good enough for his father, but he never expected his father to leave, to abandon him and his mother forever. He loses hope, until a scruffy golden retriever called Buddy follows him home from school.
Though he’s struggling to walk, Buddy matches Toby step for step, never taking his eyes off him, as if Toby is all he needs in the world. And from that day on Buddy never leaves Toby’s side.
Buddy shows Toby a loyalty that he has never known. But then disaster strikes and Toby’s life is changed forever. Will Buddy be able to give Toby the strength he needs to carry on?
A tale of how unconditional love can bound into your life when you least expect it, giving you hope in the darkest of times.
When I picked up A Dog’s Hope I knew that it would be a tearjerker but I wasn’t quite prepared for the flood of emotions, (happy and sad), that I experienced reading this book. The story describes an unbreakable connection between man and dog, who learn to rebuild broken lives together.
Sixteen-year-old Toby is feeling lost, angry and alone, his parents have divorced and he has to move with his mother to a new town. One day whilst walking home from school he notices a dirty and matted golden retriever at the side of the road. Despite Toby telling him to go home the dog is intent on following him.
Somehow the dog knew instinctively that Toby could be trusted not to hurt him and chooses him to be his companion. From then on the two are inseparable, coming together at the precise moment that they needed each other the most.
Casey Wilson tells the story from both Toby and Buddy’s point of view and over various timelines. The story is simply stunning, beautifully written and a must-read for anyone who has had the pleasure of sharing the love of a dog.
Many thanks to Noelle at Bookouture for a copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.
‘The campaign for Lucy’s Law has been smashing’ PAUL O’GRADY
The true story of one little dog who helped bring an end to puppy farming in the UK.
Lucy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was born into a Welsh puppy farm in 2008. She was repeatedly bred to produce litters of cute puppies, who were taken from her shortly after birth to be sold online and transported many miles across the UK. Life on a puppy farm is grim, and the dogs aren’t vaccinated, loved or looked after.
Rescued in 2013, Lucy’s life turned around when she was chosen for adoption and rehabilitated by Lisa Garner, dog-lover extraordinaire. Lisa had shared her life with many dogs beforehand, but she recognised something extra special about little Lucy, and so their unique journey together began which would eventually change the world…
As a dog lover, I have read and written articles about ‘Lucy’ s Law’ which is a campaign to stop puppy farming in the UK. The campaign was set up by the author of “Lucy’s Law’, Marc Abraham, and it will come into force in the UK in April of 2020.
The book describes exactly what a puppy farm is, the horrendous conditions the mothers and babies live in and how these cruel breeders operate. Marc Abraham details the horrific medical conditions that puppy mill dogs endure including skin conditions, eye ulcers, and heart murmurs to name just a few.
A direct quote from the book:-
“Our Cavalier won’t ever have felt the wind in her coat, the sun on her back, or even grass beneath her filthy, urine-scalded paws”
In an ideal world, these dogs would normally thrive on companionship, love to play and just want a warm lap to sit on.
What is most surprising is that the law was doing nothing to protect these poor animals.
Marc Abraham is a veterinary surgeon with a huge heart. He wasn’t prepared to sit back and let this horrendous practice continue. During his campaign, he met a little Cavalier called Lucy, who has now sadly passed away. Marc explains his crusade and how Lucy came to be the face and name behind Lucy’s Law.
Marc has often appeared on television programmes including BBC Breakfast, The Alan Titchmarsh Show and This Morning. Through his work on tv, he came into contact with many celebrities including Ricky Gervais and Paul O’Grady who are devoted to rescue and true animal lovers.
This book reinforces that we can all do something to protect those who are most vulnerable. We owe it to these poor dogs to educate ourselves about this horrendously cruel practice, pass on the information to others and report suspicious breeders.
A personal thank you goes out to Marc, Lucy’s owner Lisa Garner and all the other campaigners who fought so hard to bring this law to stop unscrupulous breeding.
To Lucy, rest in peace sweetheart you made a huge difference.
Thank you to Mirror Books for a copy of the book, via Netgalley, which I have reviewed honestly.
Puppy Farming and Dog Rescue Posts From Waggy Tales Blog.
There are many reports about how humans can gain positive mental health therapy from dogs.
We know that stroking a pet can reduce blood pressure and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine which reduce stress levels. Also, studies show that pet owners have lower cholesterol and triglycerides which prevent heart disease.
There are other huge benefits to general health from owning a pet, but I wanted to share how it can improve mental health too.
This post shows how owning dogs has helped on my personal journey suffering from mild depression and severe social anxiety for decades. I’m hoping that it will help others who are thinking of adding a dog to their family, but worried that they won’t be able to cope.
I enjoy my own company but never feel truly alone when my dogs are with me. A dog is always there to give a warm welcome when I return home even if I’ve only be gone for a short time.
My dogs make me laugh every day, give me cuddles and a reason to get up in the morning.
They Never Judge You
It’s normal for anyone who has mental health problems to have bad days. Sometimes you want to hide under the duvet and the slightest chore is overwhelming.
Dogs accept you for who you are and for them it really is ok, not to be ok.
They absolutely don’t care if you haven’t combed your hair or emptied the laundry basket, they never judge and love you unconditionally….no matter what!
I always state how important it is to have a routine for your dog. However, it’s important for humans too. Routine adds structure to your day, defines day and night and promotes regular meal times.
Feeding times, walks and playtimes all need to be done when you have a dog, instantly installing a routine that can be built on.
We know that physical exercise really helps mental health problems. You may not feel like throwing on running gear but grabbing a dog lead and going for a stroll around the block is much easier to tackle.
On good days that stroll will become a substantial walk, and it is then that you begin to see huge mental health benefits.
Knowing that your dog needs a daily walk will give you the inspiration and confidence to take that first step.
Making New Friends
You would never approach a stranger in the street and start a conversation. However, it’s the most acceptable thing in the world if you have dogs!
Every dog owner likes to talk about their dogs and they really love to hear that you think their dogs are well trained, beautifully groomed or just downright cute.
It might start as a friendly ‘hi’ or remark about the weather, but it still puts a smile on your face and brightens your day.
Before long, regular chats take place and the dogs get some valuable canine friendship too!
There is no better feeling than having a contented dog snoozing beside you. They are always there to offer comfort and happy to spend hours at your side. Dogs pick up on our moods and will know when you are struggling with anxiety and depression. Just stroking your pet will reduce stress levels and the company of a dog eases feelings of loneliness.
Living In The Moment
This is something that I have struggled with but my dogs have helped so much, to take each day as it comes.
We are overwhelmed with plans and activities and forget to just relax and live for today. Dogs are excited by small things like a new toy or bone, a friendly visitor or a delicious treat.
They have taught me to enjoy the simple things in life.
Since I got my puppy I have hardly ever switched on the television. I just find it fascinating to watch my puppy play, interact…even sleep!
My dogs make me laugh, fill empty hours and surprise me every day.
The dynamics in the house have changed since the puppy came along and I’m fascinated to see how the puppy will change the pack hierarchy. Over the days the puppy has become accepted by my other dogs and mutual respect has formed. It’s good to see new canine relationships form which will hopefully go on to form a tight bond.
Thinking Long Term
If you are a dog or cat owner it is a potentially a fifteen-year commitment to give the animal the care that it needs.
Therefore, you automatically start thinking about your long term health and how you can improve it.
The love and responsibility of a dog will make you rethink your diet, get a health check or join a yoga class. These are things that may have previously been pushed to the back of your mind, but now you will be spurred on to do them because you want to be healthy for your dog.
It’s not just adults who suffer from mental health problems. Children can have anxiety and a furry friend can really help restore confidence, give comfort and put the fun back into life.
Dogs teach children how to be responsible. They learn to empathise, care and be respectful in the company of animals.
This is a post that I wrote about children and dogs.
If you don’t feel that you can take on the responsibility of taking on a dog yourself, why not borrow one?
You could ask a friend or neighbour if you could take their dog for a walk or tag along on a dog walk. Spending time with dogs really improves mental health even if it is just for a short time.
BorrowMyDoggy.com is an excellent UK website which has been specifically designed to connect people with mental health problems and friendly, fun-loving pooches.
Here are a few of the dogs who have helped me over the years. Some have lived with me their whole lives, belong to family members or others I have fostered for just a short time. The main thing is that they have all really helped me.
Some were clowns who made me laugh, others needed lots of exercise so we walked for miles. There are the ones who just knew when I needed a hug, one would get up in the night with me when I couldn’t sleep and a special rescue dog taught me to count my blessings!
I really hope this post has helped to show how time spent with a pet can give valuable mental health therapy.
Do you have a dog who has helped with anxiety or depression?
Three women. Three very different lives. One life-changing adventure.
Charlie is a single mum unlucky in life. Her multiple jobs make barely enough to feed the family cat, never mind being able to give her son the life he deserves. So when an opportunity to make a lot of cash comes along, she simply has to take it.
Suzie has always wanted to be a mother. But fate has been cruel and now time is running out. Soon her final frozen egg will be destroyed and her last chance of having a baby will go with it. With her husband resolved to their childless life Suzie takes matters into her own hands.
Dawn is about to turn fifty and seems to have misplaced her mojo along with the car keys. But with an interfering mother-in-law and a gaggle of judgemental mums at her children’s school, it’s proving harder to find than a decent fitting bra. Especially after a series of highly embarrassing incidents…
Over the course of a year three lives are about to collide and as they do be prepared to laugh, cry and fall in love with these women as they discover how life can give you a second chance.
Perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond, Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella and Paige Toon.
I really enjoyed A Year of Second Chances which features the lives of three very different women who are all struggling or missing something in their lives.
Suzie and Dawn have been friends since university, they meet Charlie who is a cleaner at the gym they attend. Dawn is approaching fifty and craves some excitement in her life, Suzie is heartbroken after several failed fertility treatments and Charlie has a loan shark knocking at her door.
Charlie and Suzie come up with a plan that could be beneficial to them both. Meanwhile, Dawn is on a mission to come out of her comfort zone (with hilarious consequences). A blast from the past reappears who causes Suzie’s heart to flutter and an extrovert mother in law gives Dawn some major headaches.
I loved the Spanish au pair Ramone who is studying English and makes ‘special’ brownies. There is literally something for everyone in this story, the characters are hugely relatable and there are plenty of shocks and surprises along the way. My heart went out to each of the women at different times, I loved the friendship, the humour, and the romance. A lovely escapist novel from a talented author.
Reading the acknowledgments I was shocked to read that this book nearly didn’t happen because Kendra Smith was badly hurt in a road traffic accident whilst writing A Year of Second Chances. Sending Best Wishes to this amazing author and brave lady.
Thank you to Aria Fiction for a copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly.
A body is found in the hills – but the truth still lies buried…
In a small town in the Deep South, Flora Dane is part of a task force committed to hunting down every last trace of notorious serial kidnapper Jacob Ness. As his last victim, imprisoned by Ness in a small box for over a year, she knew him better than most. Even after his death, his evil still lingers.
But this is the kind of town that doesn’t take kindly to strangers asking questions.
The kind of town where dark secrets lurk just beneath the surface.
The kind of town she might not leave alive.
Featuring Detective DD Warren and FBI Special Agent KimberleyQuincy.
‘A string of murders, a crack FBI team and a voiceless girl desperate for revenge – this twist-a-minute thriller has it all.’ KARIN SLAUGHTER
‘A twisty-turny psycho-thriller with a plot and characters that won’t let you go. Lisa Gardner is at the top of her game!’ KATHY REICHS
‘When You See Me is another rocket-fuel-propelled thriller from Lisa Gardner. This culmination of her great talents . . . starts out chillingly intimate and explodes into a sky-high denouement that will leave you breathless.’ GREGG HURWITZ
When You See Me is the latest Lisa Gardner publication in a crime series featuring Detective Sergeant DD Warren.
This gripping crime thriller kept me awake until the early hours. The fast-paced police procedural was intricately plotted, gritty and all-consuming. It starts when a human bone is found by a couple hiking and ends with a town in absolute turmoil.
DD Warren is sent to Georgia where the remains of a young girl are found. An FBI task force has been put together headed by Special Agent Kimberley Quincy and accompanied by civilian Flora Dane, a kidnap survivor turned vigilante. The local Sherriff is part of the task force, along with Flora’s friend Keith an expert in criminology and a computer whizz.
The team suspects that the bones are the victims of deceased predator Jacob Ness. Flora knew Ness well, he kidnapped and held her hostage for over a year.
An intricate search plan in the remote Appalachian mountains is put into action and other bodies are revealed.
Are these also the victims of Jacob Ness or is more than one killer involved?
Interspersed throughout the chapters is the voice of a young girl who is captured, traumatised and unable to speak. The words of the nameless girl are so harrowing I was desperate to find out who could perform such unspeakable crimes. As the story progresses the girl is given the name Bonita and communicates through pictures and the use of colour to portray feelings.
This brilliant crime thriller really keeps you guessing. The twists and turns make it difficult to know who to trust and the writing is completely compelling and expertly researched. Each character in the task force has their own skillset which became vital at different times in the story. I felt carried along on a journey with them, desperate for each one to remain safe and ended the book feeling tired and emotional.
Definitely one of my favourite crime thrillers for a long time!
I wish I had read the previous books in the series, this has certainly whetted my appetite for more DD Warren books and I will be actively searching for others in this compelling series written by Lisa Gardner.
Many thanks to the publisher, via NetGalley, for a copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.
Two weddings and a baby…but who will get their happy ever after?
Emily Prescott’s life isn’t going to plan. Her dreams of starting a family with fireman boyfriend Greg and opening up her own bakery in London feel like they will never come true. So when a wedding invite arrives from her oldest friend, Beth Williams, Emily is thrilled. Not only will she get to return to her childhood home in Scotland, but best of all – Beth wants her to bake the wedding cake!
However, her excitement is cut short when she discovers that Greg has cheated on her. Devastated by his betrayal, Emily flees to Glendale Hall, Beth’s grand estate in the Highlands, and tries to distracts herself with helping with the wedding plans, but that’s not easy when Greg keeps hounding her to forgive him. Then she’s introduced to Glendale’s new young and handsome vicar Brodie, and things become even more complicated.
When Emily discovers that Greg’s betrayal runs deeper than she imagined, she finds herself with a whole host of decisions to make, especially when she discovers her long awaited dream is finally being fulfilled – at exactly at the wrong time…
Escape to Scotland and fall in love with this gorgeous and inspiring romance from the bestselling author of Coming Home to Glendale Hall! The perfect feel-good read for fans of Holly Martin, Heidi Swain, and Jill Mansell.
This time the story is concentrated around Emily, who travels to Glendale Hall in Scotland to attend her friend Beth’s wedding. Emily was a real friend to Beth when she appeared on her doorstep, homeless, pregnant and alone. Now, the tables have reversed and it is Emily who needs the help of a friend.
All the previous characters are there, with an added extra, a hunky vicar called Brodie who really catches Emily’s eye.
I love the location of Glendale Hall, the Scottish mansion with a host of warm, caring characters. Emily frustrated me at times, in my opinion, she gave her boyfriend Greg far too many chances. I wanted her to surround herself with people who love her and to achieve her dream of owning her own bakery. I was so eager to find out what choices Emily makes that I devoured the book quickly and will really miss the residents of Glendale.
There is romance, weddings, a thoroughly enjoyable storyline and lots and lots of delicious cake!
This can be read as a standalone, but please don’t miss out on Coming Home To Glendale Hall, it’s a perfect winter romance.
Thank you to Hera Books via NetGalley for a copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.