Friday, June 02, 2023

Blog Tour: The Silver Ladies Do Lunch by Judy Leigh


Welcome to the picturesque village of Middleton Ferris in Oxfordshire. Here we meet three women who have been friends since primary school, Josie, Lin and Minnie works as an academic in nearby Oxford. They regularly meet together for lunch, supporting each other all through their lives.

When their favourite school teacher, Cecily Hamilton, moves back into the village, their little circle expands to include her in their lunches. There are, however, other people who also still remember Miss Hamilton and soon we are getting to know many of the members of the village as well as their families. Soon, there are regular lunches which include many of the villagers. We are witness to the gossip (often the men are the ones most guilty of this), the changing nature of relationships, the scandals the prejudicesand more.

The main characters are the three friends, their former teacher and a young woman named Florence who finds herself in something of a pickle.  I really like the cross generational friendships that are described in this book. Whilst Josie, Linn and Minnie are all the same age, Miss Hamilton is obviously older, and the ladies also look after Florence.

Josie lost her husband the previous year, and I thought she was coping quite admirably, to the point that she went off a Caribbean cruise in honour of her husband Harry. She seems quite content most of the time but she is beginning to attract the attention of some of the men in town, although she doesn't  have any interest in romance.

Lin has been married to handsome Neil for nearly 50 years, and she has never had any reason to doubt him, but now he is spending a lot of time away from home, and she knows he is lying to her. She doesn't want to believe the worst of him, but evidence suggests that she has something to worry about, no matter how many times he tells her that everything is fine. I struggled a bit with Lin. She is portrayed as someone who can't even cook herself toast without burning it. I know that there are people out there who really don't like cooking but to not be able to do anything for herself seemed a bit strange. I understand completely why she jumped to the conclusions that she did, but still.

And finally we have unorthodox Minnie, who has never married. She went to college and then made her way into academia in Oxford, but she always makes time to see her friends.  She has a unique dress sense, and loves her life in Oxford with its museums, theatre, and history. Minnie was the character that I liked the most.

We do also get the backstory for many of the other villagers. Whilst this was fun at times,  there were way too many characters to keep track of, so for me it was sometimes a distraction to try to figure out which character belonged to which. Because there were so many characters, it may be that the most memorable character in the book may yet turn out to be Nadine the pig.

I couldn't help but think about my own childhood friendships as I was reading this. I don't have any friends from primary school that I am still in touch with.  I moved states when I was about 10 and then I was the only person from my primary school to go the high school I went to. I absolutely admire people who have managed to keep friendships for their entire lives. 

I did like the way that the author used music throughout the book covering ta range of music from the 50s through to now. I thought that was very cleverly done.

I have read a couple of this authors books now. I did like this one, but I think the previous one worked a bit better for me as it was more focused. Leigh seems to write quite a lot of characters who are around 70 years old. I have been reading quite a lot of books about older characters over the last few years but I wonder if maybe this book is at the upper end of my age limit to read about. Still fun and easy to read though.

Be sure to check out other stops on the tour to see more reviews of this book.

Rating 3.5/5

Thanks to Rachael's Random Resources, the publisher and Netgalley for the review copy of this book.

About the book

The Silver Ladies Do Lunch

When Lin, Josie and Minnie left Miss Hamilton’s class at Middleton Ferris County Primary School, sixty years ago, they could only dream about what the future had in store for them. The one thing they knew for certain was that their friendship would thrive.

Years later and life hasn’t always been kind. Josie is still mourning the loss of her beloved husband Harry a year after his sudden demise. Lin is hoping to celebrate her fiftieth wedding anniversary with husband Neil, but he’s suddenly keeping secrets and telling her lies, so she’s suspecting the worst And as for Minnie, well she loves her life in Oxford academia, but with no family to call her own, she sometimes wonders if the sacrifices were all worthwhile.

So, when the ninety-year-old Miss Hamilton – or Cecily as she lets them call her now – glides gracefully back into their lives on her glamorous purple mobility scooter, the ladies are in need of inspiration and fun. And over their regular lunches, the friends start to dream of leaving the past in the past and embracing the future, because there’s nothing you can’t achieve with good friends at your side.

Purchase Link -

About the author

Judy Leigh is the USA Today bestselling author of The Old Girls’ Network and Five French Hens and the doyenne of the ‘it’s never too late’ genre of women’s fiction. She has lived all over the UK from Liverpool to Cornwall, but currently resides in Somerset.

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Thursday, June 01, 2023

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - June


May has been another great month in the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge with nearly 80 new reviews being linked up during the month!

 Great effort! Now...onto June!

I am looking forward to reading more of your reviews throughout the coming month! I am sure there is going to be a lot of great historical fiction discovered and shared with fellow HF lovers this year!

If you haven't already signed up, it's not too late! The sign up post is here.

Just to recap what participants need to know. At the beginning of each month I will put up a post which will have a Mr Linky embedded into it for you to add your link.

Please remember...

  • add the link(s) of your review(s) including your name and book title to the Mister Linky we’ll be adding to our monthly post (please, do not add your blog link, but the correct address that will guide us directly to your review). A direct link to your Goodreads review is also acceptable
  • any kind of historical fiction is accepted (fantasy, young adult, graphic novels...)
  • if you have time, have a look some of the other links that are present. You never know when you will discover new blogs or books!
I have created a group on Facebook which you can find here and don't forget to use the #histficreadingchallenge hashtag on the socials.

Let the reading begin!!

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Blog Tour: An Italian Island Summer by Sue Moorcroft


Ursula Quinn needs a change. She has endured a divorce, her parent have split up and now her employer is closing down. But she is done with being a tattoo artist. Her heart is calling her to go to Italy to learn more about traditional ceramics. Luckily her uncle has some connections and so it is that she finds herself working at the small family hotel that is owned by the Tringali family. Little does she know the connection is a little complicated, something that will blow up badly later in the book


In exchange for working in the morning helping guests with breakfast, Ursula gets to stay in a small attic room with a balcony, and in the afternoon she is free to learn all she can from Fabio, a local ceramic artisan.


When Alfio Tringali has a foreboding dream, he makes the sudden decision to return from Barcelona to his family hotel. His mother has recently had surgery and still doesn’t seem herself, and his sister’s husband deserted her when she was pregnant and now her small baby also requires surgery, all while trying to run the hotel. He asks his English girlfriend to come home with him and is quite surprised by her negative response.


When he returns he is somewhat miffed to find that not only is his family coping well enough, thanks in no small part to Ursula’s assistance, but the Irish woman is staying in the room he thought would be his for the duration of his stay.


Gradually though, as they are forced to spend time together, Ursula and Alfio begin to feel a growing connection, but both of them have complications. Neither of them know what their future hold. Ursula is in Sicily for the summer, and Alfio doesn’t know where he will be living in the future. And then there is Ursula’s possessive ex husband who is being a nuisance, contacting her friends and family in order to try and find out where she is. And now Alfio’s ex girlfriend is wondering if she was too hasty in saying no to him.

I really enjoyed reading about Ursula and Alfio. Ursula has had a lot to deal with. There was a traumatic event which led to the breakdown of her marriage, and she didn’t cope well at all. As a result of that, her  family are always worried about her, about her mental wellbeing. She also has no intention of having a relationship, knowing that she would find it difficult to trust a man after everything that happened. 

Ursula finds great satisfaction in learning as much as she can into her new career in ceramics, where she is combining her tattoo designs with traditional motifs. I loved the sound of the ceramics that Ursula and Fabio make. I found myself looking at ceramics online. Who knows I might still buy something


Alfio just sounds like a really nice guy. He wants to do the right thing by his family, not just now but for the future. And as a family they have to decide if they want to keep the hotel that has been in their family for generations, or if it is time for all of them to find a new direction in life.

 Earlier this year we went to Italy. Originally the plan was to go to Sicily but we ended up cutting that out of the trip so that we wouldn’t be rushing around so much. Now, I really want to go to Ortigio. It sounds like such a lovely place. It would be fantastic to stay at the kind of family run hotel that is described in the book, although I would require lifts. My husband would kill me if I booked into another hotel which would require hefting bags up stairs!

 I have been thinking about why I enjoy reading these kind of escape/travel romances. A lot of it is to do with my love of travelling, learning about new places and feeding that hunger to visit these places.I have also determined that I really enjoy these stories when both of the characters are unsettled. I do like it when someone goes to a new place and meets a local, but I prefer it when they both are having to work through the process of settling into a new life. I know that Alfio’s family is from the town but he is having to reestablish his life there after living away for many years.


Sue Moorhouse has written a lot of books, many of them set in Italy and France. I will be reading more! I did wonder if maybe Ursula’s best friend’s story might have been told in a previous book. If so, I will be starting with that book. If not, there are plenty of other options. (It is now confirmed that this story was in Under the Italian Sun)

Rating 4/5


About the book

An Italian Island Summer

Will one summer in Sicily change her life for ever?

After her marriage falls apart, Ursula Quinn is offered the chance to spend the summer working at a hotel on a beautiful island off the coast of Sicily, Italy. Excited by a new adventure, she sets off at once.

At Residenza dei Tringali, Ursula receives a warm welcome from everyone except Alfio, son of the Tringali family. He gave up his life in Barcelona to help his mother Agata with the ailing business, and is frustrated with Ursula’s interference – and she in turn is less than impressed with his attitude. As they spend more time together, though, they begin to see each other in a different light.

But what with Ursula’s ex-husband on her tail, family secrets surfacing and an unexpected offer that makes Alfio question his whole life, there’s plenty to distract them from one another. Can she face her past and he his future, and together make the most of their Sicilian summer?

Purchase Links

Amazon UK EB

Amazon UK PB

Kobo UK EB

Amazon US -

About the Author

Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author, #1 on Kindle UK and Top 100 on Kindle US and Canada. She writes two books a year for publishing giant HarperCollins and has won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Novel of the Year, Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary.

Her novels, short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses appear around the world.

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Twitter [@suemoorcroft]

Instagram [] @SueMoorcroftAuthor

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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Weekend recap

Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week the theme is Things That Make Me Instantly NOT Want to Read a Book (what are your immediate turn-offs or dealbreakers when it comes to books?). However, this weekend I went to Rachael Johns Reader Retreat so my theme this week is ten things I liked about the retreat!

Location - The venue was in a small town called Hahndorf which is in the Adelaide hills. The town has a German heritage and is a great tourist destination. There is a strong foodie vibe in the town. I will say it was very rainy, particularly on Saturday night and during the day Sunday. I could have done with the flight changes on the flight home on Sunday but that was a minor inconvenience.

Venue - Luckily I managed to get to share accommodation with someone I hadn't met before so it was just a case of walking up the hill to the venue. Above is the view from the balcony. I can see this as a wedding venue

Car -  Because I was going to see my brother and mother before going to the venue I hired a car which was a Toyota Corolla.  It was a hybrid car which I have never driven before. It was a bit weird to not be able to hear the car when it started.

Merch - There was plenty of goodies in the goodie bag. This is just what we got on arrival and there was more during the weekend.

Pink - The theme for Friday night cocktail party was pink, but there was a whole lot of pink everywhere all weekend! I have realised I could wear something pink for a week and still not run out of clothes.

Food - The food was pretty good, especially the morning and afternoon teas and lunches although I forgot to take photos on Sunday. The Saturday night dinner was ...okay but it was another opportunity to dress up. I went the sparkles route.

The other attendees - Over the weekend I meant a load of new people, but also got to spend some time with people I have known for years!

Speed Dating - One of the sessions was author speed dating. The authors moved around from table to table. Some came bearing gifts of bookmarks or chocolate, others asked us questions. All of them were interesting!

Book club  - There were two book club sessions. I hadn't read one of the books, but the session for the book I had read was really interesting, which was The War Nurses by Anita Hodgson.

Hearing what's coming next - There were lots of conversations about what comes next with all of the authors. We got to see some upcoming covers. For example, this one by Meredith Appleyard which is so gorgeous. I know I want to read this book based only on the cover. There were many others.

I have already paid my deposit for next year!

Have you been to an author/reader retreat?

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Weekend Cooking: Granny's Melting Moments

A couple of weeks ago I was in my home town of Perth. One of my aunties had some recipes for me that my grandmother used to make. One of them was a recipe for Melting Moments, and it was written in my grandmother's handwriting. It gave me quite a jolt to see that as she died a couple of years ago now during COVID so we weren't able to go to her funeral. She had, however, been in care for a number of years now and as a result I hadn't read a letter from her for many years.

Last weekend, I invited my sister and her family around for Sunday afternoon. Ostensibly it was to celebrate my husband's birthday, but I thought it would be fun to make them for her, which is what I did! I also made some scones )lemonade and cream version) and a couple of loaves of banana bread. You can find the recipe for the scones here, and for the banana bread here. I added cream cheese frosting adapted from one of our favourites which is this Carrot, Walnut and Ginger cake. Instead of ginger juice I added lemon juice

Firstly though, here is the recipe that my grandmother used to make

For me though, I definitely need a filling for melting moments, so I went and found a filling which was 60 grams of butter, and around 80 grams of icing sugar mixture and a splash of lemon juice to give it a lemon zing. They were a big hit. Well, let's put it this way. There were no leftovers. Here are the finished product

As usual, not pretty but certainly tasty

This was the whole spread

Do you have any recipes that have been passed down to you?

Weekly meals

Saturday - Chicken enchilada
Sunday - Scrambled eggs on toast 
Monday - Sausages, mash and gravy
Tuesday - Mexican chicken and rice
Wednesday - Out for dinner
Thursday - Out for dinner
Friday - Canapes

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors going to the Rachael Johns author retreat this weekend

Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week the theme is Things That Make Me Instantly Want to Read a Book (these can be auto-buy authors, tropes you love, if an author you love blurbed it, settings, genres, etc.). However, this weekend I am going to the Rachael Johns Reader Retreat so my theme this week is authors attending the retreat

Rachael Johns - Of course I had to start with the host!

Anthea Hodgson - I am currently reading this book in anticipation of the book club discussion 

Victoria Purman- I've read a few of this author's books now.

Tricia Stringer - I have been reading this author for years, right from her initial book.

Penelope Janu - I have only read one of this author's books but I know people who love her

Emily Madden - When I read The Lost Pearl I was inspired to make a lemon crunch cake

Sandy Barker - I love the idea of this author's books which are all about fun locations and romance. I have read this book but I am very much looking forward to getting in on her next series from the first book

Leonie Kelsall - This author is local to where the retreat is being held and has been super helpful

Kim Lock - I haven't read this author yet.

Meredith Appleyard -  Or this one.

There are more authors going, but here are ten!

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Weekend Cooking: First, Cream the Butter and Sugar by Emelia Jackson

Tomorrow is World Baking Day, so it is only right that I should talk about a book about baking today.

Emelia Jackson first rose to prominence in Masterchef Australia back in 2014 when she came third in the season. At that time she became known as the "Queen of Choux". She returned in 2020 to win the Back to Win season. Since then, she has gone on to be an ambassador with one of our baking companies, online and more.

Late last year, Jackson released her first cook book which is called First, Cream the Butter and Sugar and it is amazing! As I have mentioned previously, I tend to try to borrow cookbooks from the library before buying them which I did with this week. I then sat and went through the book highlighting all the recipes that I wanted to try. It didn't take long to realise that this was a book that I needed to own! And that it is a book that I am going to be able to use as a baking guide for many years to come. In fact, the other day I was thinking about how many recipes I have bookmarked. If I make one recipe a week, I think it will take me at least 3 or 4 years to get through them.

The book is broken in to six sections - cookies, cakes (both everyday cakes and celebration cakes), tarts, choux, yeasty bakes and finally fillings, sauces and toppings. Each section is comprehensive. For example in the cookie section alone there are more than 25 different recipes. More, if you count that there are seven different variations on macaron flavours. Each recipe in the book includes both metric and imperial measurements and using alternate names of ingredients. For example, where the recipe below calls for caster sugar it also says superfine in the book, making it accessible no matter where you live.

The recipes vary in complexity from easy to much more complicated. For example, the recipe I am sharing today is called a Lazy Apple Pie Cake, also known as Lenja Pita. This is a cake of Serbian origin. The idea is that there is a layer of butter cake, topped with a layer of apples, and then another layer of cake. It's a very simple idea and it is definitely a winner. And it doesn't only work for apples. The author suggest that you can use the same technique for pears, apricots, peaches, berries and cherries. T/he hardest thing about this particular cake is peeling and slicing all the apples!

To give you an idea of the variation in the complexity, here is another option for an apple cake. I haven't yet made spiced apple layer cake with brown butter cream cheese icing, but it is on my list. 

I can't wait to continue to explore all the recipes in this book. I am sure that you will hear more about this book over the coming months! The next recipe I will be making is banana bread. The plan is to combine it with a cheesecake cream cheese frosting which comes from the red velvet recipe in the book.

Lazy Apple Pie Cake (Lenja Pita)

200g caster sugar

150g unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract

2 eggs

300g plain flour

200ml full-cream milk

icing sugar for dusting

750g green apples, peeled and sliced

120g caster sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract.

Preheat the oven to 160C. Line a 23cm spring-form cake tin with baking paper.

To make the apple filling, combine the apple slices, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in a large bowl and toss together.

Using an electronic mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the caster sugar, butter and vanilla until light, creamy and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until completely combined.

Whisk the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl to remove any lumps. Add the flour and the milk alternately to the butter mixture, stirring until completely combined but being careful not to overwork the butter.

Spread half of the batter in an even layer over the base of the cake tin and top with the filling (it will look like a lot of apple, but it will cook down and balance the sweetness of the cake). Gently spread the rest of the batter over the apple. The batter will be quite thick so it will some gentle guidance to spread it in an even layer. Bake the cake for 1-1 1/4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean and the apple is soft. All the cake to cook completely in the tin.

Liberally dust the cake with icing sugar to serve.

Weekly meals

Saturday - Pork chops, mash, broccoli
Sunday -  
Monday - 
Tuesday - Birthday dinner (meatballs)
Wednesday - Takeaway
Thursday - Steak, broccolini, mushrooms and potato
Friday - Takeaway

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page


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