Dark Horses Ride by Lisa Edwards

After swapping a high-flying job in London for freelance life in Goa, Lisa struggles to control the tide of emotions that hit her as the dark horses of menopause descend. She begins to question whether her new life – living the dream with a younger man – is all she hoped it would be.

When the pandemic hits, Lisa decides that the universe has made the decision for her and back in England, she falls for the charms of a man her own age. However, when they embark on hiking adventures together, she discovers he is not who he appears to be. Neither are the friends she’d hoped would support her when she publishes her first book and releases her secrets for all the world to see.

After hiking her way round her homeland in North Wales, Lisa is reunited with ‘The Most Handsome Man in Goa’ before embarking on a solo trip of a lifetime to Rajasthan. But back in the UK, she is forced to confront her dark horses alone when her health and hormones threaten to derail the new life she has built for herself.

This is a story of midlife reinvention, of friendships, relationships and a working life all put to the test by the seismic effects of menopause. But it is also a story of love and homecoming. It is about the healing power of walking in nature, the therapeutic process of writing, and one woman’s determination to redefine what success and happiness look like.


Having loved the author’s first book Cheat Play Live, I was delighted when she contacted me to read and review her second book Dark Horses Ride.  Once again I was blown away by her honesty and the way she writes a book that reaches out to the reader and says, it really is okay, to be ‘you’.  She has been though a lot, she acknowledges she has made mistakes, but she has come through it and now is living a life, that so many women shrink away from, fearing the judgment of others.  This book, charts the authors continuing journey to self acceptance, though littered with many dips in the road, is essentially one of the most empowering books around for women not just going through the menopause, but for those approaching this point in their lives.

For me it is her honesty that makes this book such a remarkable read.  She discusses her relationship with a younger man, exploring and debunking the assumptions that is remarkably held by so many women, that it is in some way unhealthy.  Not a judgment often held when an older man dates a much younger woman.  She respects herself and her needs, her feelings and shows us that with an open mind, communication and respect, that such relationships can work, can be healthy and rewarding.  She flips the assumptions so many have and opens us to the fact, that by seeking to conform to societies expectations we close ourselves off from life choices that could make us happy, content and fulfilled.

Many have judged her, she has lost friends, just because she was brave enough to explore why she ended up in a loveless marriage, a job that left her stressed and on the point of a breakdown and choice to prioritise the things that make her happy. I have recently finished Mary Beards- Women and Power – A Manifesto in which she discusses not just men seek to keep women within set definitions of gender roles, by other women to and what makes Lisa Edwards writing so remarkable, is that she walked away from these negative expectations and created a life, where she was in charge of her life. It took time and that is what this book is about, the journey took, the price it cost her, but ultimately how it enabled her stand up and say, I know what is good for me and if that offends you, then I can’t live a lie to keep up appearances.

You can purchase this book from Amazon

About the author

Lisa Edwards is a former publisher who is now a freelance writer, editor and yoga teacher. She grew up in North Wales, but has lived mostly in southeast England. She lives in Worthing, West Sussex, where she lives alone and walks by the sea every day. She splits her time between the UK and India.

So Pretty by Ronnie Turner

Fear blisters through this town like a fever…

When Teddy Colne arrives in the small town of Rye, he believes he will be able to settle down and leave his past behind him. Little does he know that fear blisters through the streets like a fever. The locals tell him to stay away from an establishment known only as Berry & Vincent, that those who rub too closely to its proprietor risk a bad end.

Despite their warnings, Teddy is desperate to understand why Rye has come to fear this one man, and to see what really hides behind the doors of his shop.

Ada moved to Rye with her young son to escape a damaged childhood and years of never fitting in, but she’s lonely, and ostracised by the community. Ada is ripe for affection and friendship, and everyone knows it.

As old secrets bleed out into this town, so too will a mystery about a family who vanished fifty years earlier, and a community living on a knife edge.

Teddy looks for answers, thinking he is safe, but some truths are better left undisturbed, and his past will find him here, just as it has always found him before. And before long, it will find Ada too.


I think the greatest compliment I can pay So Pretty by Ronnie Turner is that over a week since finishing it, it haunts me still.

So much so, that I have to keep reminding myself that this is a work of fiction and that there isn’t a shop called Berry and Vincent in Rye, because I would find myself avoiding it. It felt so chillingly real and the fear almost visceral. I pulled the duvet up tight and only read when there was someone in the house. It creates an atmosphere so dark that it permeates the story and provides the perfect backdrop to a narrative about how where evil lurks, human vulnerability can so easily be preyed upon. The writer cleverly showing that the damage caused by abuse and neglect, by perversion and a lack of empathy, can crack open the truth her characters hide from themselves. Few writers could handle such an intense and creepy storyline as well as Ronnie Turner, they tend to over play the intensity and then the fear leaks away because it becomes all about clichés, but here it weaves in and out of the story with a quiet intensity, making it feel far more eerie! Every time she takes us into the shop, its like the walls are closing in around the reader.

The characters are pitch perfect, their pasts teased out slowly, so we come to accept that, they seem to be fated to meet where evil is ready and waiting. The secrets that have shaped their lives, the damage that this has done, brings them to a small village, where their already deeply fractured lives, will leave them facing their own worst fears. Both Teddy and Ada, ignore the warnings of villagers that within the shop lurks evil, why? Because the writer cleverly makes both of them outsiders, it isolates them and makes them distrust the whispers of locals. If she had made them more ordinary the whispers and cruelty of the gossips wouldn’t have been ignored. So already blighted by cruelty, they seek out the other, under the misguided impression that friendship will be their salvation. It added a layer of heart breaking pathos to the story, human cruelty has left them venerable, but it is also that which drives the monster lurking into the shadows to seek them out.

It is a story that shows that it is not only within the shadows that monsters hide, but souls of those hate all that is good!

You can purchase this novel directly from the publisher Orenda Books

Also from Amazon and Waterstones

About the author

Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. At an early age, she discovered a love of literature. She now works as a Senior Waterstones Bookseller and barista. Ronnie lives in the South West with her family and three dogs. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and taking long walks on the coast.

You can follow the author on Twitter.

Dirt by Sarah Sultoon

This is no utopia…

1996. Northern Israel. Lola leaves an unhappy home life in England for the fabled utopian life of a kibbutz, but this heavily guarded farming community on the Arab-Israeli border isn’t the idyll it seems, and tensions are festering.

Hundreds of miles away, in the Jerusalem offices of the International Tribune newspaper, all eyes are on Israel’s response to a spate of rocket attacks from Lebanon, until cub reporter Jonny Murphy gets a tip from a mysterious source that sends him straight into the danger zone.

When the body of an Arab worker is discovered in the dirt of the kibbutz chicken house, it triggers a series of events that puts Lola and the whole community in jeopardy, and Jonny begins to uncover a series of secrets that put everything at risk, as he begins to realise just how far some people will go to belong…


Books for me are a source of great joy, they take me to places I will probably never visit, or to worlds that only exist in my imagination! I want them to pull me from the world and events I live alongside, to transform my immediate surroundings into tropical islands, deserts or seedy cities full of criminals and characters of all descriptions! So when I first pick up a new book, I’m both excited and a little nervous that it will do all this. Dirt by Sarah Sultoon did that and more, it took me from a wet and rainy Wales, yep that is why the grass is always green here, to Northern Israel. To a Kibbutz that sits on the border between Israel and Lebanon, where in the dirt in which their crops grow and secrets from the past threaten to destroy a community already tottering on the edge of an abyss.

The characterisation is amazing, both the main characters Lola and Johnny and those that weave their way in and out of their lives. The secrets that haunt them all, is what creates the tension in the story and a building sense of anxiety in the reader. At one point I was so anxious about their fate I nearly did something I would never normally do, take a peak at the end, but I resisted and allowed the building pressure to reach a very thrilling conclusion. Both Johnny and Lola are damaged by their pasts and seeking to find a future in which they can feel rooted into a life that feels safe enough to stop the past consuming their lives. Sarah Sultoon managed to not only make me care about them, she made me actively dream of a better future for both. No all that troubles them is resolved and that left questions unanswered, but for me that was perfect, because life is complex as well as fluid and doesn’t stop when the story concludes.

It is a intense and exciting thriller that manages to be both compulsive as well as unbearably tense! We find ourselves in a story set on the literal border between two countries at war and it creates an atmosphere that becomes increasingly claustrophobic as the story progresses. The inhabitants of the Kibbutz live with the threat of violence every single day, they work and live in a community that is fighting for it’s very survival. Just reading the blurb on the back set my nerves on edge, that delicious feeling of anticipation when picking up a book you instinctively know is going to be great, if it can only live up to the potential teased at in the blurb. Dirt by Sarah Sultoon did, it delivered on all levels, leaving me at moments so on edge, so utterly mesmerised that I forgot about the rain, the news, my own worries and felt instead the almost unbearable heat on my skin, the dirt between my toes. I felt touched by the temporary insanity caused by running from bombs hurtling over their heads, wondering if this one would end both their lives and the community that had provided a refuge from the secrets they’re hiding from. That is the measure of how good this novel is, I became Lola who has run from an unhappy home life, I became Johnny who is seeking answers about past betrayals. I lived and breathed in the story set in the dirt of a land torn apart by a history so devastating, that this story couldn’t help but be a reflection of the pain caused by war. Within it’s pages Sarah Sultoon manages to capture how all the tensions from the conflict, the secrets of those that live within the Kibbutz form the perfect storm, where death feels an almost inventible consequence of both the history of the land and those that seek out a life lived on the edge of war.

You can buy this book directly from the publisher Orenda Books.

From Amazon or Waterstones

About the author

Sarah Sultoon is a journalist and writer, whose work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs. As passionate about fiction as nonfiction, she recently completed a Masters of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, adding to an undergraduate language degree in French and Spanish, and Masters of Philosophy in History, Film and Television. When not reading or writing she can usually be found somewhere outside, either running, swimming or throwing a ball for her three children and dog while she imagines what might happen if…..

You can follow the author on Twitter

My Favourite Non Fiction Reads of 2022.

2022 was a wonderful year for non-fiction reading and I read so many amazing books. From autobiographies to historical books about women lost to time and a life led following the loss of a soul mate. It was hard to narrow it down to a top ten, but after much thought, this is the list of those that just, and only just, stood above the others. They are in no particular order!

This Much Is True by Miriam Margolyes

Miriam Margolyes is an actress and personality that divides people between those who love her and those that find her unbearable. I love her, she is outspoken, honest and unapologetic. For that I admire her. The book is very much a reflection of who you see on screen, so if you like her, you will love it, if you don’t, then probably best you avoid adding it to your to be read pile of books!

The Boy With the Top Knot by Sathnam Sanghera

Without out a doubt this was one of the most moving books I read in 2022. Sathnam Sanghera talks about a life lived amongst secrets and how it shaped his own quest to live his own life freely. It’s honesty is compelling and the writing is wonderful.

The Librarian – A Memoir by Allie Morgan.

Having spent a lot of time in the library as a child, I picked this book up and added it to my book pile. It was funny, very moving and totally not what I expected, which I found delightful. Rather than a simple story of the everyday running of a library, it is a deeply moving story of the battle to save what are for many places of sanctuary.

Dog Days by Andrew Cotter

You would think this was a simple book about a man and his dogs. The story of a sports commentator who bored during the Covid lockdowns, started to make videos about his much loved Labradors Olive and Mabel. It is much more than this, it is a story of resilience through one of the darkest periods in modern history and how the love between one man and his dogs, helped him find a route through to better times.

The Grand Tour – Travels With My Elders by Ben Aitken

This delighful book has sat on my book shelf since before the Covid lockdowns and I finely got around to reading it in 2022. Witty and funny, it is a memorable social commentary of the joy to be found in the company of our elders.

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

This was a stunning retelling of the women killed by Jack The Ripper. It takes them from the shadows of history and tells their stories, speaking up for women that history has simply treated as the victims of the man that killed them. It is haunting and very moving and should be read alongside any book about the man who for too long has been the only focus of historians.

The Madness of Grief by The Reverend Richard Coles

The Madness of Grief is a very honest story of how the loss of a loved one can not only be an all consuming tragedy, but a force by which our lives are redefined. Richard Coles talks about how all consuming loss is, about not just the heartbreak, but about the anger and how we descend into a period of madness from which escape can feel impossible. A truly beautiful read.

Around The World In 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesm

I love books about travel and this is one of the best. It celebrates the train journeys that can take us to some of the worlds most amazing places to live, from cities, to cultures surviving on the edge of mountains. Truly an example of how books can take you to places that some of us will never visit.

The Bookseller’s Tale by Martin Lantham

I am a sucker for a book about books, booksellers or bookshops and so dived into this and loved it. It is an astounding book about the history of books, bookseller’s and about our favorite places to snuggle up and read.

Women and Power – A Manifesto by Mary Beard

This stunning pocket-sized book sat on my bookshelf for many years! Which is a shame as I was inspired by her words, felt angry at the how women have been written out of history, excluded just for being female. I want better for my niece and my godchildren, and this book inspires change.

I already have some wonderful sounding non-fiction books lined up to read in 2023 and I will continue to read those books that have patiently been waiting to be read, some for months, others for years.

My Favourite Fiction Reads of 2022.

I very lucky in that I tend to know the books I will enjoy and so rarely read a book that I can not finish! So you won’t be surprised to fins out that I read some fantastic fictions reads in 2022. Here they are, in no particular order.

Lessons by Ian McEwen

This I will admit is not normally a writer that I am drawn to, but I was lucky to be offered a place on the blog tour! I am so glad I did, because it is stunning, both the story and the writing. I indulged in hours of reading, where the troubled world around me receded into the distance and the story of one man’s life became my world for a while.

The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson

When I received the email offering the opportunity to read and review The Little Wartime Library I jumped at the opportunity. It ticked so many boxes. Its set in one of my favourite periods of history, World War Two, then there is the fact that the story revolves around a library, in the underground which is run by two female librarians. It literally called out to my bookish heart and I couldn’t wait to dive in. I wasn’t disappointed, was a total joy to read.

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

Magical and delightful, this is fantasy writing at it’s very best. Full of adventure, I found it impossible to put down, becoming lost in the richly imagined story of a quest, that leads one man to uncharted Peru. Here he finds, friendship and the answer to his families connection to this place of wonder. One of my favorite writers, Natasha Pulley delivers another stunning story.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Plucked off my to be read pile, I delved into this book having loved Malibu Rising. This was a fascinating story of falling in love with the wrong person in pressure cooker of Hollywood fame. It is a splendid read from one of my very favourite authors.

Mr Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo

I adored this story about the tale of an older man who has hidden his sexuality all through his life, married and had children, all because he faced rejection from the community he loves. What he wants is to live his life honestly, escape a marriage that is making him and his wife miserable and move in with Morris, the love of his life, but does he have the courage? I loved the complexity and honestly of Barry as a character and the way Bernardine Evaristo brings to life the very real struggles he still faces in overcoming his fear of rejection.

The Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Mcneal

Circus Of Wonders was the first book I finished in 2022 and it was the perfect start to my reading year. It is magical, moving and thought provoking, with a cast of characters of wonderful characters.

Dear Mrs Bird and Yours Cheerfully by A J Pearce

Dear Mrs Bird and its sequel Yours Cheerfully are one of the reasons I don’t compile my list of favourite reads until the end of December. Read over the Christmas holidays, they were moving, funny and beautifully written.

Black Hearts by Doug Johnstone

Black Hearts the fourth in the Skelf’s series is abundant proof of why author Doug Johnstone’s books not only appear on so many prize lists, but also why the series has been optioned for development into a TV series. It is a thoughtful, touching book, full of moments of sorrow and excitement, all mixed up into one of the best drama’s available to read.

The Blending by Johana Gustawsson

For a dedicated fan like myself any new novel by Johana Gustawsson is cause for excitement! So, when her new novel arrived, I cleared my calendar and dived right in. The verdict, it is marvelous, in fact the best word to describe it is breathtaking.

Nothing Else by Louise Beech

There are many reasons I read and as perverse as it sounds to a non reader, one of reasons I do is the delicious pain created deep in our souls about characters we have come to love? An inborn sense of yearning for a character to find peace or if they can’t, that we understand and embrace our hearts being toyed with and this is why I loved this novel.

The Pain Tourist by Paul Cleave

This a novel from the pen of an author whose books don’t need statements such as ‘you will never see the twist coming’ flashing from the front cover, his writing speaks for itself. It is superb and you really need to add it to your book collection, thriller reader or not, because words are used as weapons, not stickers and endless hackneyed over used phrases stuck to the front cover.

Dashboard Elvis Is Dead by David F Ross

The humour is dark, often incredibly so and I loved it. I laughed, I cried and I never wanted it to stop. You laugh because you care, you laugh because you know that within life, humour is often found at the darkest and most absurd of moments. In a book that deals with addiction, violence and so much more, by sometimes turning tragedy into laughter, means you are exploring human nature during its most vulnerable of moments and doing so, not to make light of a dark subject, but to give it a sweeter sense of pathos.

I read so many wonderful fiction books this year and I can’t wait to see what wonderful stories I will lose myself in, in 2023.

My Wonderful Reading Year – December 2022 – The Journey Continues.

Here we are, approaching the end of another reading year. I am genuinely shell shocked at how fast 2022 seemed to whizz past! It has been a year of adjustment for me for personal reasons and how I approach the way I read. I started to focus more on the books I had bought myself or been given as gifts, rather than taking part in lots of blog tours. I just felt right and I loved this much more relaxed approach. I have bought less books and loved reading the ones that have sat on my bookshelf for a while. This is an approach I will continue with in 2023 and I looking forward to discovering some treasures that have patiently been waiting for their moment in the spotlight!

So first up are the books I read from my own to be read pile!

Coming Up For Air by Tom Daley

I found this book to be really moving as Tom Daley talked about his life and the process of coming to terms with a life very much lived in the public spotlight!

Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearce

This wonderful book is one of the reasons I refuse to pick my favourite books of the year until the year end. One of the last books read in December, it is a joyful, funny and moving read and I loved it!

Yours Cheerfully by A J Pearce

Just like Dear Mrs Bird, I spent hours of happy reading with the further adventures of Emmerline and Bunty. I do hope there is more to come.

People From My Neighbourhood by Hiromi Kawakami

I love Japanese fiction and so I picked this book as my suggestion for the December read for Cardiff Waterstones book club. It is an odd sort of read, with some stories working better than others. Definitely better read one story at a time, rather than all together!

Now for those book I read as part of a blog tour.

Dashboard Elvis Is Dead by David F Ross

The humour is dark, often incredibly so and I loved it. I laughed, I cried and I never wanted it to stop. You laugh because you care, you laugh because you know that within life, humour is often found at the darkest and most absurd of moments. In a book that deals with addiction, violence and so much more, by sometimes turning tragedy into laughter, means you are exploring human nature during its most vulnerable of moments and doing so, not to make light of a dark subject, but to give it a sweeter sense of pathos. Within the pages of Dashboard Elvis, tears are turned into laughter, laughter into tears and it is done within a novel that celebrates humour and characterization at their very best.

Dirt by Sarah Sultoon

In this wonderful thriller in which landscape is very much part of the story, providing a menacing and threatening backdrop to a story about secrets and lies.

Well that was the last reading month of 2022. Here’s to 2023 and more wonderful books to read.