Wednesday, 1 July 2015


So a long, lazy summer has just begun and it's time to get outside and enjoy the sun. The flowers are planted, the lawn seeded, watered and groomed and all your garden knick-knacks and solar lights set up.
Here's a photo of our backyard.
My husband keeps sneaking out and buying more lights and ornaments. The latest one is the lighthouse with a revolving solar light. And he's threatening to bring in some garden gnomes. As if the pelican with the knapsack isn't enough!
So now what? It's time to enjoy it all with some great food, drink and fun!

COCKTAILS ON THE DECK: There's nothing better than having friends over for a deck party and sipping on some cool summer cocktails. Check out these great recipes from Pinterest.

Blood orange margarita: a rich, tangy taste! Get the recipe here
I'm very partial to gin-based cocktails, so here's another one for a cool basil cucumber gin cocktail from Host the Toast
  • Cool raspberry lemonade sangria. get the recipe here

    Come on - you can do better than burgers and hot dogs! Be adventurous with the marinades and rubs. Check out these ideas. Recipes are linked to the photo captions:

    Barbecued shrimp and peach kabobs
    Spicy marinated shrimp with Tabasco

    Dry rub spicy barbecue chicken wings
    I have a thing for crispy, mouth-watering potatoes and an ever bigger thing for rosemary. This recipe combines the two:
    Grilled rosemary potatoes

    There's nothing better to lose yourself in than a great summer read. On the deck, at the beach, by the pool. A great page-turner can bring some magic to those leisurely summer days. Check out these suggestions:
    THE CHAPERONE by Laura Moriarty. Read what happens when a plain, shy housewife accompanies the young, beautiful and unpredictable starlet (real-life) Louise Brooks, to New York. A tender, beautiful story about love, passion and liberty.

    THE OTHER TYPIST by Suzanne Rindell. A chilling and addictive thriller set in 1920's New York, with an unusual narrator who becomes increasingly strange and unreliable as the story progresses. Reminiscent of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
    MARY COIN by Marissa Silver. A breathtakingly beautiful novel that mixes fact with fiction in the imagined story behind Dorothea Lange's iconic Depression era photograph,  Migrant Mother.
    APPLE TREE YARD by Louise Doughty. You'll lose yourself in this page-turning suspense story of a fiftyish woman - a renowned geneticist who finds herself on trial for murder. Across the courtroom is her lover and accomplice. How did she end up in this situation? Why did she make love to him the first day they met at the Houses of Parliament? Read the book and find out!

    Okay - now everything's set, kick your feet up and enjoy. There's a long, hot summer ahead.


    THE PITMAN'S DAUGHTER is back on the Amazon bestsellers lists in the US and UK. It never ceases to amaze me how popular this book is. (I'm now considering another similar book called THE ICE CREAM SELLER'S SON. More news on that later)  That's me two places behind E.M Forster's A Passage to India, and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry:

    My first thriller LILAH, actually entered an Amazon bestseller 100 list for the first time. If you're looking for romantic suspense, check it out:

    THE SAVAGE INSTINCT is out on all Amazon marketplaces now and for those of you in Winnipeg, will soon be at McNally Robinson. It already hit the Top 100 literary historical fiction list last week, so check it out at, and If you love to read novels that mix fact with fiction, then check it out. It's set against the backdrop of real life mass poisoner, Mary Ann Cotton's arrest and trial.

    Here's an excerpt from the beginning:

    Mary Ann Cotton, she’s dead and forgotten
    She lies in a grave with all her bones rotten
    Sing, sing, oh what shall I sing
    Mary Ann Cotton is tied up with string
    Where, where? Up in the air
    Sellin black puddens a penny a pair

    DURHAM, MARCH 1873

    I was twenty six when I became acquainted with madness. That same year I encountered the murderer, Mrs. Cotton, and learned that the evil ones among us mingle freely in the gilded drawing rooms of the respectable middle class, as well as in the filthy alleyways of abject poverty.
    I’d always viewed the world with an artist’s eyes. Drawn to edges, angles, curves and textures. The way light plays with shade, casting surfaces into bold relief until the beauty of their imperfections are revealed. But now I know this does not apply to people, whose flaws can be so loathsome - so entrenched that nothing can redeem them
    And I fear the shadows now, for they conceal a small figure with a chequered shawl, blank eyes and a pitiless soul. She stands at the foot of my bed holding a cup out to me.
    Drink, drink, she says, for two pennorth of arsenic dissolves nicely in a hot cup of tea.

    Just remember - if you read and enjoy one of my books, it would be great if you'd write a review for Amazon. This really helps to promote the books to other readers!

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