These are the last 4 of my top 12 books for this year.

A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE Barbara Taylor Bradford  

One of the top-ten bestselling novels ever written. “An extravagant, absorbing novel of love, courage, ambition, war, death and passion.” —The New York Times
Barbara Taylor Bradford’s The Emma Harte Saga begins with this record-shattering New York Times bestseller that traces Emma Harte’s legacy through multiple generations of indomitable women.
From the servants’ quarters of a manor house on the brooding Yorkshire moors to the helm of a profitable international business, Emma Harte’s life is a sweeping saga of unbreakable spirit and resolve. Rising from abject poverty to glittering wealth at the upper echelons of society, there is only one man the indomitable Emma cannot have—and only one she yearns for. For me, this series has stood the test of time.

THE MUNICH GIRL  Phyllis Edgerly Ring

Anna Dahlberg grew up eating dinner under her father’s war-trophy portrait of Eva Braun.
Fifty years after the war, she discovers what he never did—that her mother and Hitler’s mistress were friends.
Plunged into the world of the “ordinary” Munich girl who was her mother’s confidante—and a tyrant’s lover—Anna finds her every belief about right and wrong challenged. With Hannes’s help, she retraces the path of two women who met as teenagers, shared a friendship that spanned the years that Eva Braun was Hitler’s mistress, yet never knew that the men they loved had opposing ambitions.
Eva’s story reveals that she never joined the Nazi party, had Jewish friends, and was credited at the Nuremberg Trials with saving 35,000 Allied lives. As Anna’s journey leads back through the treacherous years in wartime Germany, it uncovers long-buried secrets and unknown reaches of her heart to reveal the enduring power of love in the legacies that always outlast war.

This is an interesting take on a woman most of us know little about. It certainly provides food for thought. It’s been on my kindle for years and I wished I had read it sooner.


“Some make chains. Some wear them.” Rosie Wallace survives on three slices of bread a day. Scarred by flame and metal, she makes her life as her ancestors have: making chains for the rich chain master, Matthew Joshua. There is no hope for a better future. No hope even for a green vegetable on the table. Her life will be making chains, marrying Jack, the boy she loves, and babies every year. But when an assault by the chain master’s son threatens the very fabric of her tenuous existence, Rosie finds the courage and the reason to fight for her own survival and the lives of her family and neighbours. Set in the first decade of the 20th century The Chainmakers’ Daughter is a haunting portrayal of abject poverty, ever-present death, and modern-day slavery. The Chainmakers’ Daughter is set in England, the Black Country from 1901 – 1910.

I have shown book one, but all three in this amazing family saga were a truly great read and contain shocking historical facts of which /I was totally unaware.

This last book is one that is so well written I lived in the story, I was there, lying helpless, and how terrifying that was. The dishes went unwashed, the bed unmade as nothing was going to tear me away from my kindle.


Talented pianist Megan Youngblood has it all – fame, fortune and Gideon.
But Gideon isn’t good enough for Megan’s ambitious, manipulative mother, whose meddling has devastating repercussions for Megan and for those close to her.
Now, trapped inside her own body, she is unable to communicate her needs or fears as she faces institutional neglect in an inadequate care home.
And she faces Annie. Sadistic Annie who has reason to hate her. Damaged Annie who shouldn’t work with vulnerable people. Just how far will Annie go?

I have found a new author in Alex Craigie and I love her work. As I read this book I could feel and experience what it must be like to lie helpless, dependent on others, not even able to speak. A chilling and emotive a book I will remember for years.

I’ve read over a hundred books this year, not all listed in my Goodreads challenge, but I have listed the top twelve that stood out for me and enriched my life. A huge thank you to all the authors, even if many are not on this list, but so many books have enriched my life.

Lucinda Spain December 2021


Here are the next four books that made a huge impact on me this year that took me to times and places during the lockdown.


Imagine, if you will, a near future where governments adopt policies that suit them rather than the people they were elected to represent.
Imagine a near-future where old age and chronic problems are swept away with expedient legislation.
I know; it’s an unlikely scenario.
However, it’s a scenario in which Cassie Lincoln finds herself.
It’s a scenario that compels her to take action.
It’s a scenario that leads to despair and danger.

This rang eerily true for me in the wake of the Covid restrictions and sent chills down my spine. Again, I was glued to the pages. This is a new author I’ve discovered and I will read every book she writes.

THE ASSASSIN   Thomas Baeur

During the Napoleonic era, Umberto Guardo, a naive son of a baker in an insignificant Italian village, falls under the spell of a radical revolutionary. When the great general himself sets foot in the village, the awe-stricken lad is given a task that could alter the course of history. The Assassin portrays an Italy that once was and a small village, isolated and unaware of the world beyond its borders until the unexpected intrusion by the most famous man in the world.

This was a book I was asked to review and it was absolutely delightful! Not only was there a smile on every page, it sums up the human condition with a sharp eye for detail. How do you rouse a group of young men to go on the offense when all they want to do is drink and chase girls? I laughed and I cried as I turned the pages.


September 2020, and Covid has swept the world with devastating consequences. In England, after months of lockdown followed by a cautious loosening of restrictions, friends and family are now allowed to gather if they abide by the government’s ‘rule of six’. Ric is an architect, both by profession and by nature. He has invited guests he refers to jokingly as ‘the usual suspects’ to celebrate his son Noah’s thirtieth birthday. His crazy ex-wife Allegra will be there, and his dependable business partner Jake, together with his nubile girlfriend Eden, and of course Ric’s long-suffering partner, Sally. Secrets and lies and the bitter taste of corruption are items on the menu, and they all have reasons to be suspicious and resentful. Not one of them is exactly who they seem to be. Can anything they say be trusted? Will this be the occasion when one of ‘the usual suspects’ is pushed too far?

I am a huge fan of this author, who writes books with depth and meaning that brings them above the thriller level into the literary world.

FALL OF GIANTS   Ken Follett

Ken Follett’s magnificent historical epic begins as five interrelated families move through the momentous dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage.

A thirteen-year-old Welsh boy enters a man’s world in the mining pits. . . . An American law student rejected in love finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson’s White House. . . . A housekeeper for the aristocratic Fitzherberts takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she falls in love with a German spy. . . . And two orphaned Russian brothers embark on radically different paths when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and revolution. 

Another spellbinding family saga that moves through the decades. I could not turn the pages fast enough.

The last four choices next week.


It’s that time of year when I list the books I most enjoyed in 2021. In the latter part of the year I chose to revisit some old favourites to see if they still held an magic.

Daily, I’m bombarded with emails and blogs with invites to courses and workshops and tips and writing and sales techniques, the list is endless. I’ve beta read dozens of books, reviewed many more and still the question remained in my mind, what makes a book special? Can I improve my own writing by learning from those authors who have stood the test of time? A few I revisited didn’t, but many did.

The answer? Those books which still captivated me had a story with characters I really cared about. Narratives that did not drag, dropped in a few new facts and threw one disaster after another at the heroes and heroines. These books were written from the heart and this is the lesson I learned from all of them. The more recent books in this year’s list were the ones that blew me away, for their originality, their awakening of emotions and the passion enclosed within the covers. My grateful thanks to all the authors I’ve chosen this year.

Thirteen Hours   Deon Mayor

They killed her best friend. Now they are chasing Rachel Anderson through the streets of Cape Town. The young tourist doesn’t dare trust anyone – except her father, back home in America. When he puts pressure on the politicians, they know that to protect their country’s image, they must find Rachel’s hiding place before the killers.

A fast-paced book that kept me on the edge of my seat from the first page to the last.

PURPLE HIBISCUS    Chimamanda-Ngozi-Adichie

Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother Jaja lead a privileged life in Enugu, Nigeria. They live in a beautiful house, with a caring family, and attend an exclusive missionary school. They’re completely shielded from the troubles of the world. Yet, as Kambili reveals in her tender-voiced account, things are less perfect than they appear. Although her Papa is generous and well respected, he is fanatically religious and tyrannical at home—a home that is silent and suffocating.
As the country begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili and Jaja are sent to their aunt, a university professor outside the city, where they discover a life beyond the confines of their father’s authority. 

A fascinating glimpse into another world and culture.

THE BOY KING   Janet Wertman

His mother, Jane Seymour, died at his birth. Now his father, King Henry VIII, has died as well. Nine-year old Edward Tudor ascends to the throne of England and quickly learns that he cannot trust anyone, even himself.
While Edward can bring frustratingly little direction to the Council’s policies, he refuses to abandon his one firm conviction: that Catholicism has no place in England. When Edward falls ill, this steadfast belief threatens England’s best hope for a smooth succession: the transfer of the throne to Edward’s very Catholic half-sister, Mary Tudor, whose heart’s desire is to return the realm to the way it worshipped in her mother’s day.

I love historical novels and this blending of facts with a fictional narrative made for an excellent read.


The box set Was a Man is the captivating final installment of the Clifton Chronicles, a series of seven novels that has topped the bestseller lists around the world. Cometh the Hour opens with the reading of a suicide note and book 3  opens with an IRA bomb exploding during the MV Buckingham’s maiden voyage across the Atlantic. So continues the lives of the Cliftons and the Barringtons throughout the twentieth century.,

There are seven books in this series and I devoured them one after the other. I really like
Archer’s easy read books but it is the story which makes them good. There are several main characters to relate to and you care about them. It’s not surprising his work has stood the test of time.

Four more choices next week.


As those who know me well will tell you the moment I finished a video script, a programme or a book I hate it. Yes, I push it out into the world almost hoping no one will notice.

But not this latest book. Now, it will either sink without trace or hit the heights. It will mess with the reader’s mind, puzzle them, infuriate them or thrill them. I have no idea how it will be received.

However, it is different, very different. I’m not exactly breaking new ground here, but there is a Reader Beware warning before you get to page one, so if Amazon takes you to Chapter One, please press the Go To Button and flip on from the cover.

Polly London was found on the steps of a polyclinic in London when she was only a few hours old. She was approaching thirty when she received a text telling her she had won over £150 million in the national lottery.
A whole new world opened up, but would it change her for better or for worse?
How do you react to winning a fortune? Do you keep it a secret or shout from the rooftops?
Polly did both, with alarming consequences. From that moment, her life took two separate paths, but at every step of the way, she was unaware of a shadowy figure that followed her all over the world.
Who was he and what did he want?
This is a book with a difference, with an ending you’ll never expect!

And I promise you it all becomes clear in the end.

Available in eBook and print, also read for free in KU and only $/£0.99 for this week only. You can save $/£2.00 by grabbing it now.

And I’d love some feedback if you have a moment to spare.

Take care


Blogger’s Books: Lucinda E Clarke

A huge thank you to Pete for posting about my latest book.


Author and blogger Lucinda has a new book release on the 23rd of November, and I am very happy to feature it here today.

When Polly Won the Lottery

Polly London was found on the steps of a polyclinic in London when she was only a few hours old. She was approaching thirty when she received a text telling her she had won over £150 million in the national lottery.

A whole new world opened up, but would it change her for better or for worse?

How do you react to winning a fortune? Do you keep it a secret or shout from the rooftops?

Polly did both, with alarming consequences. From that moment, her life took two separate paths, but at every step of the way, she was unaware of a shadowy figure that followed her all over the world.

Who was he and what did he want?


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Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore Update – #Reviews – #Poetry Colleen M. Chesebro, #psychologicalthriller Lucinda E. Clarke, #Memoir Brigid P. Gallagher

A huge thasnk you to Sally for including me in her line up of recommended authors.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the first of the cafe updates this week with recent reviews for authors on the shelves.

The first author today is Colleen M. Chesebro with a recent review for Word Craft Prose & Poetry.

About the guide and collection

Are you ready to learn how to craft Japanese and American poetry? Consider this book the first step on your journey to learning the basics of how to craft syllabic poetry. Inside, you will discover many new forms, syllable combinations, and interpretations of the different Japanese and American forms and structures of haiku, senryu, haiga, tanka, renga/solo renga, gogyohka, haibun, tanka prose, the cinquain, and its variations, Etheree, nonet, and shadorma poetry.

So… what are you waiting for? Let’s craft syllabic poetry together!

A recent review for the guide and poetry collection

Jul 26, 2021Adele Marie Marie rated it five stars

Whether you already write poetry or, like…

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A New Book–A Year In The Life of Belinda Brand–by Lucinda E. Clarke!

Charles French kindly hosted a few words from me about my new book.

charles french words reading and writing


I am very happy to announce that Lucinda E. Clarke has a new book coming out! Please check out her work and her website and blog!

Lucinda Clarke Book


No one told me when I morphed from TV scripting to scribbling books that I should choose a genre and stick with it. Stephen King did it, Wilbur Smith did it and all the other writer ‘household names’ did it.

Lucinda E Clarke didn’t.

Not, because I was being difficult, but because I didn’t know any better. I can’t remember all the topics I wrote and filmed over the decades, from health to housing, to voting, manufacturing, educational subjects, finance, dramas, plays, corporate, council and so on and so on. You name it I’ve written a programme about it, and, that even includes splitting the atom.

I followed the advice I’d heard a hundred times over, ‘Write what you know’…

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I should be writing this from the nearest lunatic asylum. (Goodness can I call it that? You never know what’s acceptable these days, but you get the drift?)

I have a problem.

I love writing, I hate marketing. I was married to a salesman in a former life and I know all the buzz words. Listen, discover a problem, solve it and then close the deal. He could sell fridges to Inuits or Eskimos and send them away happy.

Me? Not so much.  As I work on a project – and I was the same with my film making – my enthusiasm has no bounds. I’ll bore anyone silly talking about it, sit and tweak for hours and make it as perfect as possible. The moment I finish it and send to client or publish I hate it. Yes, really.

When I was compiling the box set of the first three Amie stories, I re-read them and thought ‘Goodness did I write these? Hey they’re quite good.’  But at the time, I pushed them out into the world half hoping no one would notice.

I become shy and embarrassed and while getting some one-star reviews does not send me into the fox hole (you have plenty of clients from hell / frustrated Spielbergs when you write for a living) I am basically shy.

I have a long list of what to do before a book launch, but I also have a mental block about doing anything about it. It’s so hard for me to get excited and enthusiastic even when my beta readers rave about the latest scribble.

My fingers refuse to type words such as ‘Great!’ ‘Fantastic!’ ‘Best book you’ll ever read!’

So, A Year in the Life of Belinda Brand comes out tomorrow and I’ve priced it as low as I can, @ $/£ 0.99 but my heart is now with Polly, my newest victim heroine, I’m enthusiastic about her – for now.

So, let me just paste the book blurb and live in hope and I’ll scurry back to my current WIP and Polly who has just won the lottery with dire consequences.


Belinda Brand becomes an overnight sensation when Hollywood offers to make a film of her runaway bestseller. A confident, modern woman, she has the world at her feet – and a secret she is convinced no one will ever discover. Leah, her gentle and long-suffering stepmother will guess, but she would never betray her, or would she?

When menacing notes appear after the Awards ceremony in London and then follow her across the Atlantic, Belinda realizes someone is threatening to expose her.

As she struggles to stay calm, her best friend disappears, Belinda’s celebrity life turns into a nightmare and there is no one she can trust.

If the Brand family thought they could lead a quiet, normal life, they were wrong. Danger continues to lurk in the shadows.

A fast-paced, page-turning psychological thriller, full of surprises, twists, and turns.