December Reads 2021

This month I DNF one novel, but I am halfway and may resume it at some point. So there are only four completed for December and the final one Flowers in the Attic was literally devoured over a few days.


Forsaking All Other by Catherine Meyrick

Gorgito's Ice Rink by Elizabeth Ducie

The Rabbits Foot by Marcia Clayton

Flowers in the Attic Virginia Andrews



Forsaking All Other by Catherine Meyrick

Published Courante Publishing 2018


Official Blurb

Love is no game for women; the price is far too high.

England 1585.

Bess Stoughton, waiting woman to the well-connected Lady Allingbourne, has discovered that her father is arranging for her to marry an elderly neighbour. Normally obedient Bess rebels and wrests from her father a year to find a husband more to her liking.

Edmund Wyard, a taciturn and scarred veteran of England’s campaign in Ireland, is attempting to ignore the pressure from his family to find a suitable wife as he prepares to join the Earl of Leicester’s army in the Netherlands.

Although Bess and Edmund are drawn to each other, they are aware that they can have nothing more than friendship. Bess knows that Edmund’s wealth and family connections place him beyond her reach. And Edmund, with his well-honed sense of duty, has never considered that he could follow his own wishes.

With England on the brink of war and fear of Catholic plots extending even into Lady Allingbourne’s household, time is running out for both of them.

My Review

Back in my favourite genre, historical fiction, and this gentle romance hit all the right spots. It's very well written, and the level of research for the period exceptionally high. I enjoyed every minute of this and enjoyed Bess' determination to retain a degree of control over her own future despite her father's plans to negotiate a marriage of convenience.

If you enjoyed Stacey Halls The Familiars and Philippa Gregory's Wideacre then you'll enjoy this.


My Rating

5 stars



Gorgito's Ice Rink by Elizabeth Ducie

Published by Chudleigh Phoenix Publications 2014


Official Blurb

Gorgito's Ice Rink was runner up in Writing Magazine's 2015 Self-Published Book of the Year Awards.


Two small boys grieving for lost sisters — torn between family and other loves. Can keeping a new promise make up for breaking an old one?


When Gorgito Tabatadze sees his sister run off with a soldier, he is bereft. When she disappears into Stalin’s Gulag system, he is devastated. He promises their mother on her death-bed he will find the missing girl and bring her home; but it is to prove an impossible quest.


Forty years later, Gorgito, now a successful businessman in post-Soviet Russia, watches another young boy lose his sister to a love stronger than family. When a talented Russian skater gets the chance to train in America, Gorgito promises her grief-stricken brother he will build an ice-rink in Nikolevsky, their home town, to bring her home again.


With the help of a British engineer, who has fled to Russia to escape her own heartache, and hindered by the local Mayor who has his own reasons for wanting the project to fail, can Gorgito overcome bureaucracy, corruption, economic melt-down and the harsh Russian climate in his quest to build the ice-rink and bring a lost sister home? And will he finally forgive himself for breaking the promise to his mother?


A story of love, loss and broken promises. Gorgito's story, told through the eyes of the people whose lives he touched.


My Review

There's nothing better than a book that takes you away to a far off country and fills you with sights and sounds that you've not yet experienced. I truly hope that one day I visit Russia in the snow. There is such romance tied up in the dream of skating down a frozen river. It makes me think of Bruegel, Diagilev and Dr Zhivago (from a costume perspective mainly!) all combined, and that's how the book begins, with skaters on the river.

My favourite parts were the 1940's ones, for me these sections had power, with characters that felt more real and developed than the contemporary (1990's) protagonists. Maybe this is because Emma herself wasn't someone I particularly related to, but her story arc was well put together driving the whole novel towards a satisfying conclusion.


My Rating

4 stars



The Rabbits Foot; The Compelling Tale of an Old Man's Search for his Missing Son

(Hartford Manor Book 3) by Marcia Clayton

Published Nov 2021


Official Blurb

1885 North Devon, England

Mr Edward Snell was more than a little curious when Robert Fellwood, the heir to Hartford Manor and his elderly aunt, the Lady Margery, begged an audience on a Saturday morning. However, being such valued clients, the solicitor was happy to oblige. As his clerk showed the visitors in, he was intrigued to see them followed by an old man who, though respectably dressed, had something of a vagrant about him. The crisp suit in which he was attired could not disguise his weather-beaten face or his missing teeth.


Robert introduced his Uncle Sam and explained he had come to claim his inheritance. The solicitor was old enough to remember the extensive search for Thomas Fellwood when his father, Ephraim, died in 1840. However, that was some forty-five years ago and the young man had never been found. Yet, here was Sam, who claimed to be Thomas Fellwood’s son and, even more surprising, was the fact that the Fellwood family appeared to have accepted him as such.


“The Rabbit’s Foot” is an intriguing and compelling novel with many unexpected twists and turns. Set in the small seaside village of Hartford, it tells the tale of how an old man, who has spent his life with barely a penny to his name, suddenly finds himself rich beyond his wildest dreams. However, there is only one thing that Sam Fellwood truly wants and that is to be reunited with his son, Marrok, whom he abandoned at the age of five. Will Sam find the happiness that has eluded him for so many lonely years?


My Review

I adore the characters in these books! They have sprawling extended families and defy convention and although they fill their immediate world with love, warmth and support for each other, they face some truly dark and terrible adventures. There's some satisfying symmetry in this book as it completes the trilogy; poor elevated to riches beyond their dreams, love and security for those who seemed doomed to live alone and in fear.

Now I've come to the end, there is a spin off tale somewhere, so I'm going off to find it!


My Rating

3.5 stars



Flowers in the Attic Virginia Andrews

HarperCollins; Reissue edition (1 Sept. 2011)


Official Blurb

The haunting young adult gothic romance classic that launched Virginia Andrews’ incredible best-selling career.

Up in the attic, four secrets are hidden. Four blonde, beautiful, innocent little secrets, struggling to stay alive…

Chris, Cathy, Cory and Carrie have perfect lives – until a tragic accident changes everything. Now they must wait, hidden from view in their grandparents’ attic, as their mother tries to figure out what to do next. But as days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the siblings endure unspeakable horrors and face the terrifying realisation that they might not be let out of the attic after all.

Virginia Andrews is a publishing phenomenon, with over 100 million books in print. Still as terrifying now as it was when it first appeared, Flowers in the Attic is a gripping story of a family’s greed, betrayal and heartbreak.


My Review

Omg, this arrived for Christmas and I read it in just a few days as it's utterly extraordinary. I don't know why I never read it back in the 80's at school when everyone else was reading it. I remember everyone talking about it, but at the time it didn't appeal. Same with Judy Blume.

I don't want to say too much, but this has cult status for a reason and will make you seriously think. If you haven't read it yet, I can't recommend it highly enough.


Separately, as an author, it has made me both despair and start to feel braver about some of the dark stuff I've written myself. I spent a great deal of last year re-writing to make my novel more palatable. Now I'm wondering if I shouldn't just go with my original instinct. So, lots to think about, thank you, Virginia Andrews.


My Rating

5 stars