The Women Of Troy by Pat Barker

The Women of Troy


Following her bestselling, critically acclaimed The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker continues her extraordinary retelling of one of our greatest myths.

‘Taut, masterly, wholly absorbing. Still one of the greatest stories ever written. A book that will be read in generations to come’ Daily Telegraph on The Silence of the Girls

Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home as victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails.

But the wind does not come. The gods have been offended – the body of Trojan king Priam lies desecrated, unburied – and so the victors remain in limbo, camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, pacing at the edge of an unobliging sea. And, in these empty, restless days, the hierarchies that held them together begin to fray, old feuds resurface and new suspicions fester.

Amidst her squabbling captors, Briseis — now married to Alcimus, but carrying the child of the late Achilles — must forge alliances where she can: with young, dangerously naïve Amina, with defiant, aged Hecuba, and with wild-eyed Cassandra, the unheeded seer. And so begins the path to a kind of revenge. Briseis has survived the Trojan War, but peacetime may turn out to be even more dangerous…

My thoughts

This is another outing with a new-to-me author and again I’m wondering why I’ve left it so long.

The beautiful and previously deemed impregnable fortress city of Troy has fallen and the males – all men, boys, and male babies – have been killed to end the Trojan bloodlines and prevent potential future uprisings. The women of Troy, those who did not end their lives rather than be captured, have all been divided between the leaders of the conquering Greek armies as spoils of war, to be used as concubines and slaves. Briseis is one of the more ‘fortunate’ ones. Having been the concubine of Achilles and now pregnant with his child she has been respectably married off to one of his most loyal men which gives her a level of protection that most of the women do not have. Through her eyes we see the turmoil and trauma of the women of Troy as they grieve their loved ones and the loss of the home they loved and felt safe in, and experience the uncertainty of their new lives where a woman’s life depends on the humour of the man she has been given to. And who is likely to be the same man responsible for the deaths of her family. There are politics among the Greek leaders too, although that doesn’t feature in this book as strongly as I expected it to.

I loved this retelling of the aftermath of the fall of Troy. This book follows The Silence Of The Girls which I am intending to read very soon. Because I enjoy Greek mythology and history I am familiar with the story of Troy and the main characters, so I don’t expect to have any trouble going backward to where this book series began. I am also hoping there will be another book so that I can continue to follow Briseis’s story.

Even if you are not familiar with the fall of Troy you will not have difficulty following the names and places mentioned as the author manages to keep everything very clear, not always an easy feat. I highly recommend this book. Give it a go!

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

Harry's Trees


When you climb a tree, the first thing you do is to hold on tight…

Thirty-four-year-old Harry Crane works as an analyst for the US Forest Service. When his wife dies suddenly, he is unable to cope. Leaving his job and his old life behind, Harry makes his way to the remote woods of northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, determined to lose himself. But fate intervenes in the form of a fiercely determined young girl named Oriana. She and her mother, Amanda, are struggling to pick up the pieces from their own tragedy—Amanda stoically holding it together while Oriana roams the forest searching for answers. And in Oriana’s magical, willful mind, she believes that Harry is the key to righting her world.

Now it’s time for Harry to let go…

After taking up residence in the woods behind Amanda’s house, Harry reluctantly agrees to help Oriana in a ludicrous scheme to escape his tragic past. In so doing, the unlikeliest of elements—a wolf, a stash of gold coins, a fairy tale called The Grum’s Ledger and a wise old librarian named Olive—come together to create a golden adventure that will fulfill Oriana’s wildest dreams and open Harry’s heart to a whole new life.

Harry’s Trees is an uplifting story about the redeeming power of friendship and love and the magic to be found in life’s most surprising adventures.

My thoughts

I wish I could remember where I’d seen this book mentioned as someone’s favourite book because it is now a favourite of mine.

Harry lost his wife in a tragic accident. Amanda lost her husband unexpectedly to an undiagnosed medical condition, and her daughter, Oriana, lost her father. All three are grieving and struggling to move on.

When Harry’s situation suddenly changes dramatically his overwhelming feelings of guilt over his wife’s death drive him to the one place he loves and feels at home in: the forest. At his lowest moment his path crosses Amanda’s and Oriana’s and sets in motion an incredible chain of events that will change their lives, and those of many others.

This is a truly magical book about grief, guilt, redemption, forgiveness, and love. The title is very simple for a book that has such depths. It’s an emotional and uplifting read. I highly recommend it!

Our Lit by Li Tchaikov

Our Lit: A far future science fiction novel.


He’s destined to be the King of Terra Aurora, but only if he defeats the Red Endlai. It’s the only way the prophecy can come true. To succeed, he needs the help of his hunting students and, more importantly, he needs to believe in magic.

Goldie is a Professor of the Hunt. Prophesized to defeat the Red Endlai, he’s forced into action when one of his students is abducted. He can’t, however, confront the troll-like monsters on his own and must enlist the help of his six undergrad students, each with immensely powerful, idiosyncratic auras.

After an unusually vicious attack by the monstrous, flesh-eating Red Endlai, Terra Aurora is put under lockdown. Unprecedented in its nature, the fact that they are using advanced technology to thwart the Terra Auroran’s magical detection defenses could mean the end. It’s time for action. It’s time for Goldie to fulfil his destiny or risk the annihilation of his people. But, is defeating the Red Endlai enough or does the prophecy hold secrets beyond anyone’s imagination?

Set in a world one hundred and twenty-five thousand years in the future, Our Lit is a magical sci-fi novel perfect for lovers of adventurous, speculative fiction. An epic mix of science fiction and fantasy, it’s sure to become a favorite classic.

My thoughts

This was an enjoyable outing. It was a unique concept, well delivered and well written. There were a lot of characters but they were introduced in such a way that it was easy to keep track of who was who, and I especially liked the way more and more of their personalities were revealed as the story unfolded. A bit like the story itself, which kept adding new dimensions to an already larger than life story. It looks as though there will be more stories set in this world and I look forward to reading them.

Other People’s Marriages by Kerry Fisher

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As I stood at my own birthday party, listening to my husband’s speech about me, I could no longer silence the thought that had started as a low-level hum five years ago and built until I could no longer ignore it… did I want to leave him?

Steph has spent decades building a family with her husband Mal, and putting that family first. She is the glue that holds them all together and she has convinced herself that she’s been happy… most of the time. But as she stands at her birthday party watching her husband talking about a wonderful marriage she doesn’t fully recognise, the doubts that she has been pushing down for so long begin to grow…

After the party, as Steph tries to gather her courage to leave Mal, she receives a letter from her old friend Evie. Steph hasn’t spoken to Evie since a sunny weekend on a holiday beach twenty years earlier, when the two friends said things to each other that could never be unsaid. And now, Evie is seeking a reunion and a way to repair the friendship. But this reunion threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy two families.

Other People’s Marriages is an absolutely unputdownable and heartbreaking read about the lies we tell to keep our loved ones close. Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty and Diane Chamberlain.

My thoughts

Steph, Evie and Teresa become fast friends from the moment they meet at a playgroup with their small sons. The story opens as Steph is celebrating her 60th birthday and reminiscing about her life and friendships. We learn that Evie is no longer one of the circle to Steph’s great regret, and the story begins from there.

The story is about marriages and what makes and breaks them or holds them together. But it is also about friendships, the decisions friends make to protect each other, and sometimes having to decide where a line is or at what point someone might have crossed it. And what is forgivable.

I really liked Stepha, Teresa and Evie, and the honesty of feelings and emotions that each woman has and which I would say most women can relate to. And I also really liked that a good part of the book takes place when the three friends are in their 60’s so that we see how individual life events have altered their perspectives and objectivity.

I love Kerry Fisher’s books but this one has jumped to be my new favourite.

If Only by Angela Marsons

If Only


Find love. Have a baby. Ditch the mother-in-law from hell. Three best friends, each wishing for the one thing they want the most. But what if they’re searching for happiness in all the wrong places?

Cher is head over heels for her new boss. He’s gorgeous, smart and funny but he barely even notices her except to ask for a coffee refill. How can she get him to see that she’s the perfect girl for him?

Sarah is longing for a baby with the man she loves. The only trouble is David is already married. Will he finally leave his wife so they can be together?

Deb should be looking forward to her wedding with lovely fiancé Mark but with her mother-in-law from hell Margie taking control of everything, will her dream day turn into her worst nightmare?

So, when one summer evening, over several glasses of wine, Cher, Sarah and Deb stumble across an old book on Sarah’s shelf and drunkenly decide to cast a wishing spell, they don’t think for one minute that it will come true. It’s just three best friends having a laugh and throwing some herbs around the garden. Or is it?

My thoughts

I love the crime thrillers that Angela Marsons writes, mainly because I really like her characters. So when I saw that she had written outside her usual genre I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. If Only is well written and with good characterisation, but I was just a wee bit disappointed that I didn’t like one of the three main characters, and spent most of the book feeling frustrated with another because she seemed shallow rather than disingenuous. I really liked the third character though, and by the end of the book I had warmed considerably toward the other two. There were some genuinely hilarious moments, such as at the swimming pool, that had me cackling away to myself. And a couple of very poignant moments that caught me unawares which I loved. I’m trying not to say too much in case of spoilers, but I really liked how the book ended and I think there is scope for a sequel so that perhaps we find out whether the course of true love runs smoothly for Cher and what opportunities open up for Sarah and Deb.

A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson



This stunning companion to Kate Atkinson’s #1 bestseller Life After Life, “one of the best novels I’ve read this century” (Gillian Flynn), follows Ursula’s brother Teddy as he navigates an unknown future after a perilous war. “He had been reconciled to death during the war and then suddenly the war was over and there was a next day and a next day. Part of him never adjusted to having a future.”

Kate Atkinson’s dazzling Life After Life explored the possibility of infinite chances and the power of choices, following Ursula Todd as she lived through the turbulent events of the last century over and over again. A God in Ruins tells the dramatic story of the 20th Century through Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy — would-be poet, heroic pilot, husband, father, and grandfather — as he navigates the perils and progress of a rapidly changing world.

After all that Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is living in a future he never expected to have. An ingenious and moving exploration of one ordinary man’s path through extraordinary times, A God in Ruins proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the finest novelists of our age.

My thoughts:

I agonised over whether to give this a 4 or a 5 star. Four because it went on a bit too long and I initially hated the ending. Five because although it went on a bit too long the writing is so good that it kept me reading, and the author’s note at the end said that she considered this to be the story of one of the many lives of Ursula (Life After Life by Kate Atkinson), a companion piece rather than a sequel, and this made more sense of the ending for me.

“A man is a god in ruins. When men are innocent, life shall be longer, and shall pass into the immortal, as gently as we wake from dreams.“ – Ralph Waldo Emerson

All through Life After Life I considered Teddy’s character to be a bit too perfect to be true, and that opinion did not change with reading A God In Ruins. The quote above indicates that it was very intentional. I became very fond of him, though, and very invested in what would happen to him.

It’s a beautifully written book and I ultimately gave it 5 stars.

The Lights of Sugarberry Cove by Heather Webber

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The Lights of Sugarberry Cove is a charming, delightful story of family, healing, love, and small town Southern charm by USA Today bestselling author Heather Webber.

Sadie Way Scott has been avoiding her family and hometown of Sugarberry Cove, Alabama, since she nearly drowned in the lake just outside her mother’s B&B. Eight years later, Sadie is the host of a much-loved show about southern cooking and family, but despite her success, she wonders why she was saved. What is she supposed to do?

Sadie’s sister, Leala Clare, is still haunted by the guilt she feels over the night her sister almost died. Now, at a crossroads in her marriage, Leala has everything she ever thought she wanted—so why is she so unhappy?

When their mother suffers a minor heart attack just before Sugarberry Cove’s famous water lantern festival, the two sisters come home to run the inn while she recovers. It’s the last place either of them wants to be, but with a little help from the inn’s quirky guests, the sisters may come to terms with their strained relationships, accept the past, and rediscover a little lake magic.

My thoughts

The thing I like about Heather Webber’s books is how uplifting and full of likeable characters they are. She manages to create homely settings that make you want to live there, with characters who you want to be your friends. Her books have a warm, comforting vibe to them and when you finish them you feel contented. This story deals with difficult relationships, secrets, and misunderstood motives. The main characters are sisters Sadie and Leala who have returned home to care for their loved but difficult mother. Sadie and Leala both have their reasons for not wanting to stay at the cottage they grew up with, despite both having a deep and abiding love for both the cottage and the community it sits in. The side characters are delightful and each have their own stories and problems to work through.

I highly recommend this author’s books.

Hyperion Cantos Series by Dan Simmons

The Fall of Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos #2)

Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, #3)
The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos, #4)

On the world called Hyperion, beyond the law of the Hegemony of Man, there waits the creature called the Shrike. There are those who worship it. There are those who fear it. And there are those who have vowed to destroy it. In the Valley of the Time Tombs, where huge, brooding structures move backward through time, the Shrike waits for them all. On the eve of Armageddon, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth on a final voyage to Hyperion seeking the answers to the unsolved riddles of their lives. Each carries a desperate hope—and a terrible secret. And one may hold the fate of humanity in his hands.

The Fall Of Hyperion

In the stunning continuation of the epic adventure begun in Hyperion, Simmons returns us to a far future resplendent with drama and invention. On the world of Hyperion, the mysterious Time Tombs are opening. And the secrets they contain mean that nothing–nothing anywhere in the universe–will ever be the same.


Two hundred and seventy-four years after the fall of the WorldWeb in Fall of Hyperion, Raul Endymion is sent on a quest. Retrieving Aenea from the Sphinx before the Church troops reach her is only the beginning. With help from a blue-skinned android named A. Bettik, Raul and Aenea travel the river Tethys, pursued by Father Captain Frederico DeSoya, an influential warrior-priest and his troops. The shrike continues to make enigmatic appearances, and while many questions were raised in Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion, still more are raised here. Raul’s quest will continue.

The Rise Of Endymion

The time of reckoning has arrived. As a final genocidal Crusade threatens to enslave humanity forever, a new messiah has come of age. She is Aenea and she has undergone a strange apprenticeship to those known as the Others. Now her protector, Raul Endymion, one-time shepherd and convicted murderer, must help her deliver her startling message to her growing army of disciples.
But first they must embark on a final spectacular mission to discover the underlying meaning of the universe itself. They have been followed on their journey by the mysterious Shrike–monster, angel, killing machine–who is about to reveal the long-held secret of its origin and purpose. And on the planet of Hyperion, where the story first began, the final revelation will be delivered–an apocalyptic message that unlocks the secrets of existence and the fate of humankind in the galaxy.

My thoughts

(Disclaimer – I do not feel qualified to write a review on this series which does it justice. Quite frankly, I’m not clever enough!)

The Hyperion Cantos series is absolutely mind blowing!

I’m going to be thinking about this series for a long time as I ponder all four books and continue to piece things together that weren’t spelled out but instead were left to us to figure out. And there are layers upon layers upon layers of brilliant complexities to work through. This series has given my gray matter a workout like no other series I have ever read.

Half a point deducted for the final book only because the descriptions, no matter how beautiful and vivid and brilliant, slowed down the story at times. I gave the other three books in the series a very solid 5 stars each, and the series as a whole is a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ read!


The Liar’s Daughter by Rona Halsall

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The call comes on an ordinary Sunday afternoon to say your sister has been admitted to hospital with a serious head injury. But you don’t have a sister… do you?

You’ve never doubted your parents. You’ve loved them without question your whole life. But your stepmother is uncharacteristically speechless, and your father isn’t well enough to understand.

So you get in your car.

Turn the key in the ignition.

Knowing everything behind you is a lie.

Not knowing what lies ahead: the truth… or something far darker?

A deliciously dark and twisty tale of deception, secrets and family ties, The Liar’s Daughter is perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, The Woman in the Window and The Family Upstairs.

My thoughts

I was completely hooked by the end of the prologue which had a decidedly creepy vibe to it, and by the end of the book I was not disappointed. I loved the fast pacing which made the story race along, and the writing just flows. There were new revelations and twists galore so that nothing ended up being as it seemed and I had to keep revising what I thought about the different characters as we learned more about each one via different points of view and timelines. Things that that seemed black and white were completely flipped around! This is a dark and twisty psychological thriller with loads of suspense to keep you turning the pages, and plenty of “What?!” and “Wow!” moments.

Rona Halsall’s books just keep getting better and better. I can’t wait for the next one!

My reviews are also posted in:

The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg

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The beloved author returns to the small town at the heart of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe with a heartwarming novel about secrets of youth rediscovered, hometown memories, and everyday magic.

Bud Threadgoode grew up in the bustling little railroad town of Whistle Stop, Alabama, with his mother Ruth, church-going and proper, and his Aunt Idgie, the fun-loving hell-raiser. Together they ran the town’s popular Whistle Stop Cafe, known far and wide for its friendly, fun, and famous “Fried Green Tomatoes.” And as Bud often said to his daughter Ruthie, of his childhood, “How lucky can you get?”

But sadly, as the railroad yards shut down and the town became a ghost town, nothing was left but boarded-up buildings and memories of a happier time.

Then one day, Bud decides to take one last trip, just to see where his beloved Whistle Stop used to be. In so doing, he discovers new friends, new surprises about Idgie’s life, and about Ninny Threadgoode, Evelyn Couch, other beloved Flagg characters, and also about the town itself. He also sets off a series of events, both touching and inspiring, which change his life and the lives of his daughter and many others. Could these events all be just coincidences? Or something else? And can you go home again?

My thoughts

Rounded up to 4.5

This book is a sequel to Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg and it was a lovely read. Although the focus is mainly on Buddy and his daughter, Ruthie, we get to revisit all the characters from Whistle Stop and find out what became of them. I always worry about sequels when they come so long after an original (*cough* Go Set A Watchman) but this is one I absolutely loved.