Thursday, December 08, 2022

2022 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge Wrap Up


And just like that, we are at the end of the 2022 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Whilst there is still another couple of weeks to add your December links (the linky post for December is here), now there is an opportunity for you to add your wrap up post links if you have done one. You don't have to, although it is alway interesting to see what people have read throughout the challenge.

I expect that I might read at least one more historical fiction book, but in the meantime, I thought I would share my reads for the year. Please bear in mind that I am a terrible book blogger and don't review anything near all the books I have read. Here, though, are the historical fiction books I read this year, including links where there is a review. I will try to do better next year!

My list

The Girl from Paris by Ella Carey (review)

Still Life by Sarah Winman

The Postcard from Italy by Angela Petch (review)

The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

The Sweetheart Locket by Jen Gilroy (review)

The Lost Sister of Fifth Avenue by Ella Carey (review)

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell

The Things We Can't Say by Kelly Rimmer

The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs (review)

The Last Summer by Karen Swan

Lilac Skies by Shivana Bansal (review)

Far Across the Ocean by Suzie Hull (review)

Share your wrap up post below:

I will be back in late January with the statistics for the 2022 challenge.

Also, the sign up post for the 2023 edition of the challenge is up. I look forward to having you join us again next year.

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Blog Tour: The Golden Oldies' Book Club by Judy Leigh


In the village of Combe Pomeroy in rural Somerset, there is a monthly bookclub that brings a group of locals together. There's Ruth (the local librarian),  Aurora who still pines for her lost love from her youth, Verity and her argumentative husband Mark and Danielle, who has just split up from her husband. And then there is Jeannie, an apple grower and cider brewer who has been running the family business for years, as well as looking after her grandchildren and her aging mother, who has a corny joke for every occasion.

Jeannie is getting to the point of realising that she is going to need to make some changes soon as she is bone tired. But what will she do if she retires, and does it mean selling the family business? Or can she take on board some of the suggestions from her granddaughter, Ella, who seems very interested in taking over the business one day. but will that mean that she will feel redundant.

For the other members of the group, there are also major life changes to contemplate. And thankfully they have each other to lean on. A trip to the village's twin town in France brings them all closer together and gives them the friends they need as time brings changes for each of them. I loved that the changes weren't the obvious ones for all of them!

The structure of the book also follows the cider seasons: Summer, and new apples, harvest time and winter wassailing and along the way we were introduced to some of the traditions of both English and French cider making. I was particularly interested in the information in relation to the French cider making traditions given that we are going to be in the Brittany area of France in a few weeks. I always forget that it is much easier for people in Europe to pop over to another country, whereas our couple of days in Brittany is very much planned.

I mentioned that Jeannie's mother has a joke for every occasion, one of my favourites of the jokes that Jeannie's mother tells is "Oh, now, what did the farmer say when he spilled apple juice all over his laptop?" He said, "Oh, no - there's been a cider attack.""

In the author bio below, Judy Leigh is described as "the doyenne of the ‘it’s never too late’ genre of women’s fiction". That's not a term I have heard before. I do, however, enjoy reading romances where the main characters are older which I have seen referred to as late in life romances. As I have mentioned before, I didn't meet my husband until I was 46 so I totally believe that you don't have to be young to find love.

Having said that, the majority of characters in this book are quite a bit older with several of them being in their early 70s.

I did find it interesting that all of the bookclub books that were discussed were quite serious books, which I thought was an interesting contrast to her own books which her readers are reading! For example, one of the selections was Lady Chatterley's Lover. 

I hadn't read Judy Leigh before, but I am definitely looking forward to reading more.

About the book

The Golden Oldies Book Club

Deep in the Somerset countryside, the Combe Pomeroy village library hosts a monthly book club.

Ruth the librarian fears she’s too old to find love, but a discussion about Lady Chatterley’s Lover makes her think again.

Aurora doesn’t feel seventy-two and longs to relive the excitement of her youth, while Verity is getting increasingly tired of her husband Mark’s grumpiness and wonders if their son’s imminent flight from the nest might be just the moment for her to fly too. And Danielle is fed up with her cheating husband. Surely life has more in store for her than to settle for second best?

The glue that holds Combe Pomeroy together is Jeannie. Doyenne of the local cider farm and heartbeat of her family and community, no one has noticed that Jeannie needs some looking after too. Has the moment for her to retire finally arrived, and if so, what does her future hold?

From a book club French exchange trip, to many celebrations at the farm, this is the year that everything changes, that lifelong friendships are tested, and for some of the women, they finally get the love they deserve.


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.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Top Ten Tuesdays: Fictional Bookstores

Welcome to this week's edition of Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This
week it is a freebie so I am choosing to post a theme from earlier in the year. Back in October, I did all the thinking around the theme is Favorite Bookstores OR Bookstores I’d Love to Visit. I chose all the books, I just had to add the pictures and the words and I was done. Except I never got to it!  My twist to the theme is that I have focus on fictional bookstores rather than real bookstores. So, here are ten books set in bookstores.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - Starting out strongly with one of my favourite boosk ever!

Aria's Travelling Bookstore by Rebecca Raisin - I love that way that Rebecca Raisin writes about food, books, Paris and more!

84  Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff - What a delight this book was!

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan - I must get back to reading or listening to Jenny Colgan's books!

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George - I am hoping to visit at least one Paris bookshop soon. I am happy with big or small!

The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton - I haven't read this book yet but the title is intriguing.

The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin - This book is on my must read soon list.

Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan - this is another bookstore book I haven't read yet. It sounds like fun.

The Bookstore Sisters by Alice Hoffman - I know that this is an extra one but I thought I would share it seeing as it is a really short short story that is a recent release.

So there's my list of Fictional Bookstores.

Monday, December 05, 2022

This week

Before I get started this week I am going to mention that the sign up post for the 2023 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge is up! If you like reading challenges and you like reading Historical Fiction, or maybe want to try a new genre this is the challenge for you. The sign up details are here:

Sign up post

I'm reading...

This week I started Golden Oldies Book Club by Judy Leigh. I have heard good things about this author's books but this is the first time I have read one myself. So far it is a lot of fun! I need to finish this book shortly as I need to have my review up this week.

Despite the fact that I knew that I had a deadline for Golden Oldies, I did also start a book called Finding Love at the Christmas Markets by Jo Thomas. I read and enjoyed Jo Thomas earlier this year and when I saw this title I knew I had to read it. We are heading to Europe soon and our first step is The Netherlands. We will be spending time with family there, but the one thing that I said that I had to do while we are there is a Christmas market!

I also started listening to Mrs Harris Goes to Paris by Paul Garrico, narrated by Juliet Stevenson.We watched the movie a month or so ago and really loved it. You can tell that there has been some changes made due to political correctness (the book was originally published in 1963) but so far I am really enjoying the listening experience.

I'm watching....

I was excited to see that there is an adaptation of The Flat Share by Beth O'Leary. I have watched the first couple of episodes and liked it. I am going to watch the rest of it this week.

If I find time, my intention is to finish watching more of season 2 of Only Murders in the Building, at least before we leave.

One series we did finish was Andor. The ending of the series definitely was suggestive that there will be a second series. Here's hoping at least!

This time of year is festive movie time. This weekend I watched a British Christmas movie called Your Christmas or Mine


This weekend we went to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the theatre. It was actually really good. Generally when we go to the theatre we see musicals or comedians, but this play was good too!

It was also the final bookclub of the year. Our first theme is "New". Could be a book about a new start, a book I just bought, a new author to me, or anything. I have no idea what I am going to read but I am sure I will come up with something.

Last week we went to see Sandy Toksvig which was a lot of fun.

We have a big weekend this weekend coming and then the holiday that we started planning three years ago at least will begin. Cannot wait!!

Festive treats...

It's time to start thinking about what I am going to read and watch and eat in the lead up to Christmas. It is going to be a bit different this year as we go away part way through but we will see what we can add to the list.

1. Christmas in Bellbird Bay by Maggie Christensen

2. Twenty One Nights in Paris by Leonie Mack

3. Guardians of the Galaxy Holidays Special

4. The Great Christmas Cook Off by Helen Buckley

5. Your Christmas or Mine
6. Greg Wallace's Weekend Breaks - Christmas Markets in Venice
7. Sarah Addison Allen's Instagram Advent Calendar

Posts from the last week

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: December linky
Six Degrees of Separation: The Snow Child to The Bookstore Sisters

I've linked this post to It's Monday, what are you reading? as hosted by Book Date

Sunday, December 04, 2022

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2023 Sign Up

Welcome to the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge for 2023! I am super excited to be hosting this challenge again this year. You are welcome to join if you are have participated before or if it is your first time!

Reading Challenge details

Each month, a new post dedicated to the HF Challenge will be created where you can add the links for the books you have read. To participate, you only have to follow the rules:

Everyone can participate! If you don't have a blog you can post a link to your review if it's posted on Goodreads, Facebook, or Amazon, or you can add your book title and thoughts in the comment section if you wish.

Add the link(s) of your review(s) including your name and book title to the Mister Linky we’ll be adding to the monthly post (please use the direct URL that will guide us directly to your review)
Any sub-genre of historical fiction is accepted (Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult, History/Non-Fiction, etc.)

During the following 12 months you can choose one of the different reading levels:

20th Century Reader - 2 books
Victorian Reader - 5 books
Renaissance Reader - 10 books
Medieval - 15 books
Ancient History - 25 books
Prehistoric - 50+ books

To join the challenge you only need to make a post about it, add your link in Mr. Linky below or just leave a link to your blog if you are not yet ready to post about it yet. If you don't have a blog you can just leave a comment for this post saying that you are joining, and link to your Facebook, Goodreads or other social media page where you will be sharing your reviews.

Don't forget to use the challenge hashtag #histficreadingchallenge, join in on the Facebook page, and grab your challenge badge here:

I look forward to having you join us in reading some great Historical Fiction during 2023!

Six Degrees of Separation: From The Snow Child to The Bookstore Sisters


Welcome to this month's edition of Six Degrees of Separation, which is a monthly meme hosted by Kate from Books Are My Favourite and Best.  The idea is to start with a specific book and make a series of links from one book to the next using whatever link you can find and see where you end up after six links.  I am also linking this post up with The Sunday Salon, hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz. 


This month the starting point is The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey.

The Snow Child is a fairy tale retelling. I do love a fairy tale retelling, although I haven't read this one. The first book that came to mind was Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. I am aware that I have used this book before and when I looked at the next book, I realised that I am in danger of choosing the same books as I have before.

Therefore, for my second book I am going to twist a little and choose something a little different and choose a graphic novel. There are a whole series of graphic novels that feature well known fairy tale characters such as Snow White, Prince Charming and Old King Cole. Years ago, I read about 15 of these books but I chose Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham.

Another graphic novel author I have read and enjoyed is Marjane Satrapi. I have read her Persepolis books but this time I am choosing to focus on her book Chicken with Plums. I have watched the movie adaptation of Chicken with Plums. There is a section of the movie which is 20 minutes of montage and it is exceptional.

For my next book I am choosing a book called Die for Me by Amy Plum. This is a YA book featuring all sorts of paranormal characters. It also has an amazing cover. The book is set in Paris and you can tell that the author loves the city. In fact, there is one place that I am planning to visit in our upcoming trip to Paris because I read about it in this book.

A recent book that I read which had me salivating over the city of Paris was Twenty One Nights in Paris by Leonie Mack. And it had the added bonus of being set at Christmas.

Both of these books have an image of the Eiffel Tower, because let's face it there's not many books set in the city that doesn't. This is another.

Whilst I have a gazillion other books set in Paris that I could finish this chain with, instead I am going to choose a short story that I read last month by Alice Hoffman, called The Bookstore Sisters. I know that I really should read more of Alice Hoffman, but this is the only story I have read so far.

This month felt a bit harder than normal, but mainly because there were so many connections to books that I have already used before so I had to find different connectsion! I have, however, managed to get to the end!

Next months chain starts with Beach Read by Emily Henry, which I am super excited about because I love her books. I am not 100% sure that I will be able to do a Six Degrees post because I will be in Paris then, but let's see how we go.

Next month's 

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Weekend Cooking: What I Baked (In My Kitchen) in December

The first Saturday of the month is when I share all the things that I baked in the previous month, which is great when you have been baking but this month I only made one thing, and it is likely that I will only be making one thing in December too!

Last week I posted about making florentines and that is the only baking I did this month. I have bought the ingredients to make another cake but ended up not making it (actually that has happened twice now), and I did offer to make another cake when my husband's team came over but that didn't happen either.

I posted about making these florentines last week

Which means that either this is a very short post or I come up with something else to post about. 

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, do you ever do advent calendars? Last year I bought a famous skincare one. I love the products that I did use, but the reality is that I only just opened the last of the windows a couple of weeks ago.

This year I have been on a bit of tea journey. I was given some teas for Christmas last year, and so this year I have been exploring some differnet flavours. I therefore decided to buy the T2 advent calendar. I already know that there is going to be an issue with the opening of the windows because we go on holidays a week before Christmas and I am not taking this advent calendar with me!

It actually opens out again so in the end it is about a metre wide when it is fully open, so not ideal for opening on the plane! Of course, I can take just the teabags on the plane with me, but that's not really the point right?

The good thing about mixed collections such as this is that you get to try flavours that you wouldn't normally try. The bad thing is that sometimes it means that you try things that you don't particularly like.

I tend to only have one cup of tea a day but I am discovering that there are some flavours that don't work as your first cup of the tea of the day. For example, yesterday the flavour that I got was Packs a Peach, which was delicious but I am thinking that on days with these fruity flavours maybe I have a morning tea and then have this later in the day.

Today, when I opened the calendar window, I got a China Jasmine flavour which I enjoyed.

During the year, I have also been making tea out of these other collections as well. The yellow tin below is a collection of different breakfast teas, which has options called New York Breakfast, Melbourne Breakfast, Adelaide, Scottish, Singapore, Irish and more. My favourite is New York Breakfast, which is "A pancake-inspired tea made with full-bodied black tea, maple syrup flavours and cinnamon."

In the purple tin there is currently some Madagascan Vanilla loose leaf tea. I also have an Easter special collection which I have barely touched and more.

We have also bought multiple mugs. They have these lovely generous mugs that are great for my coffee addicted husband!

Even just looking on the website today I have found some new things I might want to buy, but I am thinking I should probably finish some of the ones I already have.

Are you doing any advent calendars this year?

I am sharing this post with In My Kitchen, hosted at Sherry's Pickings

Weekly meals

Saturday - 
Sunday -  Open steak and cheese sandwiches
Monday - Sausages and chips
Tuesday - Chicken Parma
Wednesday - Chorizo risoni
Thursday - Out for dinner
Friday - Leftovers

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

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge - December




Last linky for the month and I am late! My apologies.

We had another great month in the challenge with around 75 reviews shared in November. Thank you to everyone who shared! I can't wait to see what you all share in December.

I will also be sharing the stats for November in the next couple of weeks. If you didn't catch them, here is a link to the stats for October.

I am going to start posting about next year's challenge already. The sign up post will be up in the next couple of days. This year I will also be putting up a wrap up post for you to add your links into. The round up for overall stats for the whole of 2022 will be up towards the end of January once we are home from Europe.

This year in addition to the monthly Linky posts, I also did the stats for each month which I thought were interesting and I think other people enjoyed them too. If anyone has anything that they would like to see added to the stats or if you have an idea for the challenge I would be happy to hear them too. You can either leave them in the comments or email me at ozdiamondlil at

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.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Weekend Cooking/Blog Tour: The Great Christmas Cook Off by Helen Buckley

I am a big Bake Off fan whether it be Great British Bake Off, Great Australian Bake Off, Great Kenyan/Kiwi/Canada/Professionals or any other variation. So when I was offered a blog tour for a book set during a bake off like competition at Christmas it was a no-brainer for me.

When "Queen of Chocolate" Beatrice Wodehouse is invited to participate in The Great Christmas Cook Off alongside other well known bakers she knows that it will be great for her public profile. Whilst she had a wealthy (but unhappy) upbringing, she has built her successful business and online profile by herself. 

One of the other participants in the competition is Beatrice's social media nemesis Charlie Simmonds. The two are known for their clashes which all stem from their fundamental differences in their opinions about baking. Beatrice is all about the decadence of chocolate, sugar and butter, whereas Charlie is determined to show the world that you can have healthy bakes that taste amazing! Charlie has his own reasons as to why he is so passionate about healthy eating and lifestyle choices.

The Cook Off is being filmed at a luxury hotel owned by one of the judges, so Beatrice and Charlie, along with the other four contestants and judges have to spend a lot of time together, both during and outside of filming.

When there is an unfortunate incident occurs on the first day of filming, no one thinks too much of it. Accidents happen, especially when you are under the pressure of being filmed and competing against other talented bakers. However, as more incidents occur, it appears that there might be a saboteur in the group. Could Charlie be sabotaging Beatrice in the ultimate quest to win, or maybe it's the other way around?

Over the course of the week, the bakers are asked to make their own version of Christmas classics, ranging from mince pies to trifle and Christmas pudding. Most of the dishes sound absolutely delicious, although to be fair I definitely sit on Beatrice's side of the argument. For example, when Charlie makes his Christmas Pudding it features sweet potato as one of the ingredients and I couldn't quite figure out how they would taste. 

As the week of filming progresses, Charlie and Beatrice begin to realise that maybe their enmity is actually hiding something different, especially once they begin to understand each other's past and motivations

This was such a fun read with lots of delicious sounding Christmas food. I was, however, surprised that there were no recipes included.  I think that maybe this was explained by the author note where the author admits that she isn't a baker herself although she is more than happy to eat great baking. I was also a bit surprised to see that this is part of a series, but this is definitely standalone. All the books in the series take a reality TV format and use it as the frame for the story.

This was a lot of fun! And good to help get into a Christmassy mood!

Rating 4/5

Thanks to Netflix  and  Rachel's  Random Resources for the review copy of this  book.

About the Book

The Great Christmas Cook Off

It’s the festive showdown to end all festive showdowns …
“Queen of Chocolate” Beatrice Wodehouse, known for her decadent desserts, is ready to go head to head with her social media nemesis, clean lean baking machine Charlie Simmonds, in the Great Christmas Cook Off TV show.
Beatrice is fed up of Charlie’s sanctimonious attitude and is ready to show him that food is there to be enjoyed. Surely she’ll blow his keto, low sugar, low-carb mince pies out of the water with her chocolatey creations?
Except filming for the Cook Off turns out to be anything but sugar, spice and all things nice when the contestants realise there’s a festive saboteur in their midst – leading to melted ice cream, trifle mishaps and private stories leaked to the press.
As the countdown to the final commences, suspicions run high and sparks are bound to fly – and not just from the flaming Christmas puddings!
Part of the Spotlight series but it can be read as a standalone story.

Purchase Links

UK -

US -

About the Author

Ever since I was little I wanted to be a writer, to turn daydreams into books. I'm fascinated by fame, in love with Happy Ever Afters, and enthralled by slow-burn romances. I squeeze in time to write around looking after my two sons. Find out more about me on my website

Social Media Links –




Weekly meals

Saturday - Out for dinner
Sunday -  Pressure cooker spaghetti bolognaise
Monday - 
Tuesday - Beef Stroganoff
Wednesday - Chicken Kiev, mash and beans
Thursday - Chicken Enchiladas
Friday -Out for dinner

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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