I have read and reviewed 140 books this year and to keep track I now list them on a spreadsheet. I’ve chosen 6 biographical and 10 fiction books as those I most remember – those that forced me to ignore the world around me and keep turning the pages. Each one spoke to me, moved me, informed me or delighted me.

I wish there was space for more books, as these are not the only good books I’ve read this year, but simply the ones I remember best. I am in awe of the authors listed below, for their skill, their story telling and the way they wrote about their lives or the tales that flowed from their imagination.


When Angels Fly  by  S Jacksonmy-awards-24

Why? A true sory about the depths that human behaviour can sink to and the indomintible courage shown by the author in rising above it.



Under the Wings of a Good luck Phoenix

by Kathy Dobronyi

Why? I was astounded at the clear headed thinking of a child in Saigon, which left the adults way behind.


Exclusive Pedigree by Robert Fear

Why? Fascinating account of growing up in a strict religious household – it held back on sensationalism, even though famous people were mentioned.



The Stoning of Soraya M  by Freidoune Sahebjam

Why? It made me cry and remember man’s inhumanity to women, a story that needs to be read by everyone.



Good morning Diego Garcia by Susan Joyce

Why? So much of what the author thought and experienced touched my soul.



A Child is Torn by  Dawn Kopman Whidden

Why? A great story with a very good twist at the end, it was a huge surprise.


Bad Blood by Max Power

Why? Stories involving prisoners on death row have always held a morbid fascination for me and it is also an excellent story.



Goddess of undo – Kat Drennan

Why? I’m so aware of Alzheimers disease and this gave me further insight within a very readable story



Toxic Minds  by Gordon Bickerstaff

Why? Because I love the hero Gavin who is quite a coward, just like me! aslo for the scientific information which is really interesting.



The Magus covenant – Toni Pike

Why? I just adore conspiracies about secrets in the Vatican and the story was great fun too.



Pieces by Patrick Heffernan

Why? A good police detective story where team work triumphs over a super hero, who actually becomes ill!



Letting go of Love – M J Keevil

Why? I rarely read love stories, but I enjoyed this one set during World War I highlighting social issues and laws.



A crazy Act in Uganda by John M W Smith

Why? A great story well written with an amazing insight into Africa and its people.



The Seven Year Dress by Paulette Mahurin

Why? Amazing story about a woman who survived the concentration camps, an event we should never forget. This is a book that will stay with me.




It Rains in February by Leila Summers

Why? The true story of a wife who tried to save her husband – it resonated with me especially as it was set in Durban and there were close links to the media as well. A heartfelt story beautifully written.



The Lights went out by Fiona Cooke Hogan

Why? I don’t like books of short stories, I have no idea why I picked it up, but it took my breath away for the sheer beauty of the writing. I just wish I could write like this author. Maybe the fact she is Irish exaplains it all – quite brilliant.


I wish we’d had more time on the hill complex, but we were scheduled to fly out early afternoon to the next destination. Some more pictures as promised.

This group of people walked around the monument 7 times as I understand it and said particular prayers.

I wondered briefly if our guide was less than forthcoming about religious practices in case we were sceptical or disbelieving? I remembered overhearing a guide in St Peter’s in Rome, who was explaining that ‘some people’ believe this was a … pointing to some religious artifact as if she herself was not taken in by such stories, but I suspected she did believe, from the reverence displayed by her body language to the item in question.

This was my second blessing and this time the monk tied the white cotton round my wrist himself.

There were just so any buddhas everywhere, I still hadn’t found out why there were so many.

So, back we go to Victoria, only don’t expect me to be nice about her. The question of her name? Her first name was Alexandrina which I think is lovely, but Mummy wanted Victoria after herself. So Queen Victoria it was. And, there are no prizes for guessing what Victoria called her first daughter – yes, Victoria. So there we have it three generations in a row. I just hope the postman delivered the right parcels and letters to the right person. Could have been nasty, just think what might have happened.


OK, so maybe she was repressed, but she took a shine to Lord Melbourne her Prime Minister – she made him call and see her every day. The man was married, and forty years older than she was, but poor dear (I’ve not gone off her yet), she’d been so starved of company and he flirted with her and she thought he was wonderful – that is, until along came Albert. I dislike Albert almost as much as I dislike Victoria, but you guessed that didn’t you?

Next week, the books I’ve chosen from my reading list in 2016 for the something awards – I’m working on the name as I write.

Have you signed up for the newsletter yet? You can just email me  or pm me on my facebook page

Have a safe week and a great Christmas. I had pressed the settings to have snow falling over my blogs this month, but as usual, something went wrong and now I get snow on all the blogs I read and not on my own – oh well I tried – again!


I left off last time in northern Thailand at the top of the hill at Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. I’ve just noticed on the notes that visitors can climb the 309 steps for free to reach the pagoda. Free! Are they kidding! As I posted last time, we took the cable car up there and viewed the panoramic sight of Chang Mai city.  We watched lots of people ring bells, there were rows and rows of them. We weren’t sure of the ‘why’ for all this, and our guide had wandered off, but just in case, we also rang several of the bells. Some were really large and their tonality to my ears at any rate, was pitch perfect.

I think this is a delightful picture of DH finding the clapper on one of the larger ones. I know I posted the other one before, but I can’t help giggling.

The whole area housed several temples, and worshippers were performing different rites at each of them. I didn’t manage to get a full explanation as to what was happening.

I took so many pictures, I’ll have to show you the rest next time.

While Queen Elizabeth is my favourite queen – a Virgo like me, we share a name and my latest colouring product also turns me a slight shade of auburn –  my least favourite monarch either male or female, is the one I have reached now – Victoria, although that wasn’t her first name.vic-haema

I started out having some sympathy with her- also a mum who wasn’t kind, and she lost her father when young, but that is where the similarity ends.

I cheered when she got her own bedroom and practiced walking down the stairs all by herself, what an achievement!  But, as soon as she realized she was queen on one hand she started throwing her weight around and on the other, turned into a silly giggly girl over a man much older than herself. Find out who later. (That’s supposed to be a cliff hanger). Definition of cliff hanger … writer cleverly writes exciting bit without completing all the knowledge leaving the readers wanting to know more, so they eagerly wait for the next episode or chapter.  And no it’s NOT Prince Albert.

Have you joined my newsletter list yet? I forgot to mention last week that I will not share it with anyone else. Either pm me on Facebook or you can email me

Still shopping? Christmas is getting closer.


Please will you re-blog this post for me? Yes, I know you’ve not read it yet, but I really, really want to get the word out.

In January I plan to start a new monthly newsletter which will contain the back story to Amie before she went to Africa and the lives of other characters in the trilogy. The first one recounts a major event in Ben’s life which I think you will find both fascinating and interesting. This will only ever appear in my newsletter and never be posted anywhere else.

There will also be early notice of price drops and promos and I will feature and promote books by other authors – so, if you’d like to be included, please contact me.

Most important of all, I will be giving you updates on the full story of the court case as Amie sues me with the intention of preventing me from writing about her any further. Plus she is asking for damages for what I have put her through already. She intends to have all Amie books withdrawn from the marketplace. (Unknown to her, I’m currently writing book 4, and do I have plans for her! Even I feel a little sorry for her sometimes.)courtroom2

Competitions and chances to win free books will also be a feature several times a year, but I will not overburden your inbox as I only plan to send out 12 issues annually.

I posted news of this on Facebook and one blog follower said she was already signed up as she received notification of my blogs in her inbox. WordPress does not give me your email addresses when you follow. They do all that stuff somewhere in some faceless building somewhere in the United States – or maybe some robot algorhythmically programmed robot does it – so I have no idea how to contact you.

So, to take advantage of this exciting opportunity (who am I kidding?)  you can either pm me on my FB page, or drop me a ‘yes’ to I do hope you will.


I’m posting the link to the opening of Amie African Adventure – book 1 with news that the audio book should be ready by the beginning of February – so exciting!

Another piece of news is that Amie is going to have a brand new cover – more in line with the third in the series. I am sad in many ways as I love her original cover, but I need to tell people what to expect in the story. One poor reader bought it thinking it was a cosy tourist trip to Africa and got quite a shock.

A last thought. If you haven’t an idea what to buy for a particular person this Christmas, the trilogy in paperback might be suitable? Ignore Amazon’s pronouncement that it’s not available – no ideFeatured Image -- 4372a why they put that up – all three books are for sale.

I’m scribbling this quickly while DH is out buying more Christmas lights. As we unpacked them we remembered he sniffed loudly and asked me last year what I was cooking, it smelt appetizing. “Nothing,” I told him. It was the lights. One string was about to burst into flames and burn the house down. Then I must decorate the tree, won’t take long, it’s only 80 cm high!!


Uh, yeah you can tell tree decorating does not come high on my skills list either!! Well I tried.

Till next week, when I’m back in the Far East, at least here on the blog. Happy shopping.



I don’t very often feature other writers on my blog but if I discover their books and I’ve read and loved them, then I want to share them with you.

Colin Griffiths is one such writer.

He was born in South Wales, Cardiff in 1958 and grew up on a council estate built to house the steelworkers. The place was called Underwood, surrounded by trees with just one road in. He was never sent to school – his father was a painter and took Colin to work with him.

Almost everyone worked at the steelworks back then and Colin was no exception. He was a steelworker for 22 years and then studied in his thirties to qualify for teaching and counselling.

He secured a job as national education officer for a trade union, but after 12 years he was made redundant and decided to remain in Yorkshire.


Colin is 58 now and does something much easier, he watches CCTV monitors in a nice warm office. He always wanted to write, and composed poetry in his teens – “they were a bit deep” (his words). He found them 40 years later and published them on Amazon – almost 250 of them – but says they are very raw and unpolished. He also wrote a horror book about Underwood, which he describes as a great grounding for his future books! Colin wrote his first novel ‘Never Say Goodbye’ just two years ago at the age of 56, and he’s currently working on his 10th book.

“I write almost every day, I find it a good release and I often go to bed, and lie awake thinking of ideas and scenarios.”

When Colin discovered self publishing and uploaded his books he received a lot of criticism about editing. (I confess to being one of them).

I didn’t get it at the time. I have to admit and I still don’t know when to use a semi colon. But I do realise now the importance of having an edited book. Grant Leishman has edited five of mine free of charge. He is a diamond.”colin-never-say-goodbye

Colin grew up reading a lot of Steven King books and his own are also in the paranormal or psychological genre. Of the 9 books he’s already published “Life for a Life” is the shortest but the one he holds dearest. He told me the indie author world is a great one and the majority of authors are a fantastic help. He’s come across some whose only intention is to knock and demean. He even had a troll – “in the end it was all so comical.”

colin-and-michelleColin has two children from his first marriage, a boy and a girl and three wonderful grandchildren. Two of his grandsons are talented footballers and he loves watching them play. He’s been married to Michelle for three years, which he says “… proves you’re never too old to find love!”

I still get an amazing buzz when someone purchases one of my books. The thrill of getting a good review is amazing. I write for the love of it now and if people want to read and enjoy what I write, then that is amazing.

I’m certainly in awe of a writer who can write so many books incolin-book-2 such a short time. My personal favourite is The Doll’s House  The characters in the house come to life at night with murder in mind.

Check out Colin’s books.


colin-book-5Can Francis break the links that tie her to her evil mother? Can David persuade her to lead a new life, with him? Or will her mother stop them?

(Don’t you just love that cover!)




A Life for a Lifecolin-a-life-for-a-life

Gavin was eleven years old when his little brother died. Damien was the youngest of seven when his life was tragically taken away. Did the family pull together in grief?



Someone Else’s Dream

It’s been thcolin-book-1ree years since the awful death of his three year old daughter Aimee.. Matt Conner did not take that loss well. For three years he had been medicated to help him deal with his loss. On the third Anniversary of Aimee’s death, he made the mental choice to start …


I hope Colin writes lots more books in the future, I’m in awe of what he has achieved against the odds.

Please re-blog and pass the word along to give Colin the publicity he deserves. J