The Light Over Broken Tide by Holly Ducarte

REVIEW TIME: by Ellen Read


Young love, an Irish legend, a hidden lighthouse and Peter Pan – I was hooked before I started reading.

This is also a story of mental illness, an otherworldly encounter, loss and grief. Holly Ducarte handles these difficult themes with great sensitivity.

‘We’re all like paper dolls. Happiest when linked to another, often unaware of our flimsiness. So easily torn. What happens when we reach out to find there’s no one there to hold our hand?’
These are the opening lines of the story.

Becky is torn and is reaching out for a hand to hold. She finds it in Shawn, the boy-next-door, who believes magic does exist.

In the beginning, I had mixed feelings about Rebecca because she is rebellious and so difficult to get along with, but I sensed her vulnerability. She is a teenager, she’s lost her mother, doesn’t know her father well, and is then whisked away to a new house in a new coastal town in Nova Scotia. I soon felt empathy for her. This is really a testament to Ducarte’s writing that she portrayed Becky so well.

Becky’s relationship with her father, Andy, is an important thread in the story and I was pleased with how it developed. In the beginning, I wasn’t certain if I’d like Andy but my respect and liking for him grew.

I loved the references to Peter Pan and, in the magical dreamlike scenes, I felt myself fly away with them on their adventure. Shawn becomes Becky’s Peter Pan. This gives her a lifeline but forces beyond her control send Rebecca spiralling into dark places. When she emerges, she wonders what was real.

This book moved me so deeply.

I highly recommended this YA read. It’s excellent, something very different.

Well done, Holly Ducarte, on your debut novel.


Mrs Preston’s Kitchen

Thank you to Michael Chrobak for inviting me to write a guest post for his blog.

Please visit his link below.

Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings to Everyone


You may wonder why I have a wombat in my photo. This is Waddles. I bought him in Daylesford when I was researching my next book. So what does a wombat have to do with a cozy murder mystery?

My next book, the second in The Thornton Mysteries is set in Daylesford, Victoria, Australia, where the Thorntons have a holiday home. It isn’t as grand as Thornton Park but it’s a large house set into the side of Wombat Hill. There’s the clue. Daylesford, in its gold mining days, was called Wombat.

I first went to Daylesford about ten years ago. It’s set in the Macedon Ranges and is a favourite spa town. The area is known for its mineral springs. Mt Franklin, which most Australians know of, is about a twenty minute drive away.

The Thornton’s home is Wombat Hill Manor, and just as I did with Thornton Park, I based Wombat Hill Manor on a real building. It was initially built as a private residence and later sold to the Catholic Church as a Convent.

It’s now The Convent Gallery, beautifully restored as an art gallery and restaurant/cafe. If you go to Daylesford, I recommend going there. It’s about a one hour drive from Melbourne and worth the trip.

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I’ve been to Daylesford twice this year, the first time to do research for my book. The second time was after I finished my first draft and I wanted to check on some details.

This year has been a busy one. The two trips to Daylesford. A trip to Adelaide and the Barossa Valley, which besides being a wonderful holiday, was also research for book three. For those who don’t know, the Barossa Valley in South Australia is famous for it’s wineries. I’ll be starting book 3 early in the new year. You’ll remember from reading The Dragon Sleeps that Benedict’s family own a vineyard in South Australia. There’s a hint about book three.

I’ve not long returned from a trip to Hawaii. It was another fabulous holiday with my family. I thought I can’t go to such a location and not write a book set there. I didn’t have any ideas for a story when I arrived but I had the start of Book 4 before I left. My dilemma was why would the Thorntons want to go to Hawaii. Book two is set in 1928. Book three in 1928 also. So why in 1929 would they want to travel so far? The reason came to me. I was so pleased! Originally, I intended writing three books but now book four is on the schedule.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends and I wish you a Happy New Year.

REVIEW: Eléonore by Faith Rivens.


This if Faith Rivens debut novella and it certainly delivers. From the very beginning the story grabbed me and didn’t let go. I haven’t read an Urban Fantasy at all. For my first to find the protagonist is a demon hunter and a librarian and a mother is very appealing. I particularly love the relationship between Eléonore and her son. It’s very touching and real. Rivens portrays a mother’s love so heart-warmingly. Raphael is another engaging character and the dynamics between him and Eléonore are exciting and foreshadow more to be told.

It is well-written, with a snappy pace and has a great structure to the story. I liked the small diary entries at the beginning of each chapter that help the reader understand the demon hierarchy.

I highly recommend this book. You really can’t go wrong.

REVIEW: Wardens of Archos

Wardens of Archos

Wardens of Archos is the second book in Sarina Langer’s Relics of Ar’Zac fantasy series.

I was so pleased to be back in Rifarne with Rachael and her colleagues. It was great to pick up the story from where it finished in the first book. New characters were introduced and joined Rachael on her journey to new lands in an attempt to find the answers to what is hidden beneath the ancient Krymistian ruins of Archos.

The story moves at a good pace and always left me wanting to turn the page. Sarina Langer’s world building is excellent, with plenty of description but nothing to slow the pace down. The new worlds came to life.

I loved the dynamic between Rachael and Cale. Their story develops further.
Thank you to the author for providing a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

If you enjoy fantasy, you’ll love this book.

Review: My Year of Stories by Abigail Shepherd

My Year of Stories

This is a delightful book that follows the journey of Abigail Shepherd from unpublished writer to debut novelist, with the release of her YA book Victoria’s Victorian Victory.

In My Year of Stories, we follow Abigail’s journey with twelve stories to represent each month, preceded by an excerpt from her journal. I like the addition of this diary extract as it gives the reader an idea how each story was created and when.

This is a book you can read in one sitting or go to when you want to read another story for the first time or as a reread. You’ll find you’ll want to do that. I read the first story, The Dandelion Clock when it was first published in Whim online magazine but I enjoyed reading it again as January’s story in this book. There is also a prequel to Victoria’s Victorian Victory.

The stories are each different, some sweet and moving, others humorous and some a little dark.

I highly recommend My Year of Stories. You’ll enjoy the read.

REVIEW: Beauty in Thorns – Kate Forsyth

Beauty in Thorns


Beauty in Thorns – Kate Forsyth

 I love Kate Forsyth’s writing and when Beauty in Thorns was released I couldn’t wait to read it.

It is a story set around the Pre-Raphaelite circle of artists and poets, including William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

For many years, I’ve adored their wonderful paintings, so I knew I’d love getting lost in their tumultuous world. I discovered there was so much I hadn’t known about their work and their relationships. Kate Forsyth brings to life their story of love and heartbreak with such care and beauty.

I also loved learning about the women in this circle. Lizzie Siddal, Georgie (Georgiana) Burne-Jones nee Macdonald, Jane Morris nee Burden, and later in the novel Margot Burne-Jones the daughter of Georgie and Ned (Edward)Burne-Jones. I was especially moved by Lizzie Siddal’s tragic life. I think I admired Georgie’s stoicism the most.

Kate Forsyth’s research is excellent and her story telling is superb. If you haven’t read Beauty in Thorns as yet, I highly recommend it.

If you’re unfamiliar with the art of the Pre-Raphaelites, it will add to your appreciation of this book if you look up some of their paintings.

A Cup of Conversation: Soulla Christodoulou talks with Ellen Read author of The Dragon Sleeps

I was recently asked to do an interview for Soulla Christodoulou’s new series, A Cup of Conversation.

Thank you so much, Soulla.

You can read it here



The House That Inspired Me.


Thornton Park is the Thornton family home and is where the mystery takes place in my book The Dragon Sleeps.

It’s a murder mystery set in the late 1920s.

A Dragon statue. An ancient sword. What treasure is worth killing for?

Alexandra Thornton is determined to discover how these things are connected to the antiques her great-grandfather brought with him from Hong Kong so many years ago. What secret has remained hidden for the last eighty years?

Top left is the main hall, the others are of the drawing room. Far right is my book.

These photos are of the real house that inspired me – Werribee Mansion in Victoria.

You can go through the mansion if you’re visiting Melbourne or Victoria. It’s definitely a worthwhile day.

REVIEW: Rise of the Sparrows by Sarina Langer

Rise of the Sparrows

Rise of the Sparrows by Sarina Langer

I absolutely loved this book. Sarina Langer has masterfully created a new world filled with fantasy, prophecy and magic.

Rachel is a homeless orphan and is shunned for having ‘the gift’ – which in her case is visions of people dying. Cephy, who joins her, has a much more powerful and darker gift. When Cephy burns down her old home, the villagers of Blackrock respond with violence. The two flee and head into the forest, a world alien to them.

They encounter new dangers. The White Guard is chasing them. They meet a Mist Woman, who offers them shelter, but Rachel instinctively feels she can’t be trusted. Then a young rebel tells Rachel she must fulfil a prophecy. He takes her to meet the Sparrows; but can she trust him?

The story moves along at a great pace and the ending is action packed and filled with energy and excitement, with twists and turns.

The characters are well written. The story strongly crafted.

This is a fabulous first novel for Sarina Langer. I look forward to the next book.