Friday, 21 February 2020

Review: Inside Out by Demi Moore

Famed American actress Demi Moore at last tells her own story in a surprisingly intimate and emotionally charged memoir.
For decades, Demi Moore has been synonymous with celebrity. From iconic film roles to high-profile relationships, Moore has never been far from the spotlight – or the headlines.
Even as Demi was becoming the highest paid actress in Hollywood, however, she was always outrunning her past, just one step ahead of the doubts and insecurities that defined her childhood. Throughout her rise to fame and during some of the most pivotal moments of her life, Demi battled addiction, body image issues, and childhood trauma that would follow her for years – all while juggling a skyrocketing career and at times negative public perception.  As her success grew, Demi found herself questioning if she belonged in Hollywood, if she was a good mother, a good actress – and, always, if she was simply good enough.
As much as her story is about adversity, it is also about tremendous resilience. In this deeply candid and reflective memoir, Demi pulls back the curtain and opens up about her career and personal life – laying bare her tumultuous relationship with her mother, her marriages, her struggles balancing stardom with raising a family, and her journey toward open heartedness. Inside Out is a story of survival, success, and surrender – a wrenchingly honest portrayal of one woman’s at once ordinary and iconic life.

Review: Well this book was a really wild ride. It was intriguing and really gripped me from the first page. I had heard a lot of scandal about this one but I didn't know I was going to learn so much about a person I know very little about. 

Obviously I have seen some of Demi Moore's films and I have read about her relationships in gossip magazines but it was really great to hear what she had to say and to learn an awful lot about her through this audio book. She narrates the book and it was wonderful spending the day listening to her tell me about her life. 

This book really does go deep. You have heard that it contains scandalous confession, but to me this book was just a woman baring all for her memoir. I earned about the hard work she has put into her career and also what she has had to overcome from her past. She talks openly about relationships, good and bad. Health issues and the issues facing women today. She does recognise her privilege and you can tell that she values her children over all else. Demi Moore came off really well from reading this book. I liked the fact that her sense of humour came across and I feel like a learned a lot reading this book. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Book Vs Movie: Mrs Fletcher by Tom Perrotta


Quick Reads 2020

Today is publication day for Quick Reads 2020 and I couldn't be more excited about the line up of authors that just hit my kindle after my pre-ordering frenzy after these titles were announced. I am such a huge fan of Quick Reads and wanted to share a bit more about this year's Quick Reads collection-you can learn more about Quick Reads as a whole at the bottom of the post...

I'll leave buy links for all of these in the post but you can of course also request them from your local library! 

Reviews will be up for these very soon!

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor. You work 97 hours a week. You make life and death decisions. You are often covered in blood (or worse) from head to toe. And the hospital parking meter earns more money than you do. Adam Kay's diary was written in secret after long days, sleepless nights and missed weekends. It is funny, moving and sometimes shocking. This is everything you wanted to know -- and more than a few things you didn't -- about life on and off the hospital ward.

Adam Kay says: "Literacy and healthcare have much in common; they are among our fundamental rights as individuals. They both require sustained funding, governments who believe in the possibilities they offer, and outspoken champions. Quick Reads are the most wonderful champion for literacy."

Detective Inspector Harry Virdee has a lot on his plate. His team is facing government cuts, tensions are building between Bradford's two rival drugs gangs and his wife Saima is due to give birth any day now. So when bodies start turning up in the old industrial district, the pressure is on to get the case wrapped up as quickly as possible, or risk a full-scale gang war. But the man behind the murders is ruthless. And things are getting personal. Harry must think fast and bend the rules if he wants to keep his city, and his family, safe...

A.A. Dhand says: "I'm thrilled to be part of such a vital scheme as Quick Reads and hope to give readers a short, sharp burst of entertainment which brings literacy and fast-paced storytelling into their lives."

When Lizzie's daughter Meg is given a life-saving heart transplant, Lizzie feels hugely grateful to the nameless donor. Then she receives a letter from the donor's mother, Karen, asking to meet, and it seems like the least she can do. But as soon as Karen is welcomed into their lives, Lizzie feels something isn't right. And, before long, she can't help but worry that by inviting Karen in, she might have put Meg in danger.

Clare Mackintosh says: "Quick Reads addresses a very real need -- pacey, good-quality storytelling, in an accessible format -- and I'm honoured to be contributing to 2020's line-up with a story I've been wanting to write for several years."

Lara Cliffe and her three friends are off on a mini break for her hen party. It's three weeks before her wedding to 'Steady Freddie', one of the kindest men on the planet. But something is worrying Lara. Her friends say it's wedding jitters, but she isn't so sure. Fifteen years ago the love of her life, Danny Belfont, walked out on her three weeks before their wedding. And she has never been able to get him out of her heart. Then, on the overnight ferry, Lara finds that Danny is playing in the onboard band and he spots her in the crowd. Will she meet him the next night to talk? As the wonderful city of Amsterdam works its magic on Lara, she tries to sort out her thoughts. And if fate has brought Lara and Danny back together... is it really for love or for something quite different?

Milly Johnson says: "It [Quick Reads] opens the door and says 'come on in and fall in love with books'. Reading is the key to a life enriched."

Sapphire is the hot-headed leader of Red Roses in an area where gang loyalty is all that matters. But after a tragic event, Sapphire vows to leave her old life, friends and her gang behind. Life without the Red Roses and the violence that always followed them is certainly quieter to say the least. When she meets a boy called Apollo on her way to Notting Hill Carnival, she feels something she'd never felt before, and thinks he could be the one. That's until she discovers he's a member of rival gang. Will she ever escape her past with the Red Roses, and how many lives will be ruined until she does? Funny, emotional and raw, with Notting Hill Carnival acting as the backdrop of this retelling of West Side Story, by the Sunday Times bestselling author of Queenie.

Candice Carty-Williams says: "As someone who comes from a family of non-readers, and someone whose mum is dyslexic, Quick Reads is such an important resource."

Jojo Moyes, The Makeover

Following the end of her marriage, a woman finds herself in a department store where she agrees to have a makeover. She needs a fresh start. But the makeover doesn't go the way either she or the make-up girl expect.

Jojo Moyes says: "I've seen first-hand the real impact of Quick Reads and I believe these books are more important than ever."

Sophie Kinsella, Decluttering

When a couple set aside a day to unclutter their garage, they not only come across happy memories and fun secrets but also a painful family secret.

Sophie Kinsella says: "Simple, straightforward story-telling is a wonderful way to bring books to the widest possible readership, and I hope that a whole new tranche of readers will discover the power of words."

Ian Rankin, Easy Street

A woman darts back into her house to check everything is ready for her and her husband to go on holiday. As she is reminded of their life together he sits outside in the car. Full of surprises to the last gasp-inducing twist.

Ian Rankin says: "Writers need readers, which is why I'm such a fan of Quick Reads. An ability to read leads to a lifetime of enjoyment and opens up new worlds of knowledge."

Mari Hannah, Let No One In

Features the first outing for PC Kate Daniels from the bestselling DCI Kate Daniels series. She is on her first ever night shift, left to guard the crime scene, alone and unarmed. What happens next takes her completely by surprise.

Mari Hannah says: "Bravo to The Reading Agency for this wonderful initiative. Reading changes lives; it's a gateway to many opportunities."

Louise Candlish, Lock Up and Leave

On the day Clare and her cheating husband are due to go on holiday, she takes satisfying revenge on him and his mistress. It's payback time.

Louise Candlish says: "A recent discussion about crime fiction with inmates at a local prison confirmed what I'd first discovered as a bored child with a free public library on my doorstep - life is better with books. Much better."

Adele Parks, A Quiet Road

When a new neighbour raises the tone of the neighbourhood, Annie is only too pleased. The neighbour is divorced, comes with a big chest freezer and has a liking for night-time gardening. How can Annie have got her so very wrong?!

Adele Parks says: "I've met with hundreds of people who have told me that Quick Reads have changed their lives. Reluctant readers become confident ones."

Mahsuda Snaith, The Estate

Asmi and her mother know one kind of estate and it's not the glorious country pile they are invited to visit. On arrival, Asmi discovers she has inherited the house - but why? How does its history link with hers?

Mahsuda Snaith says: "As a dyslexic reader with a love for stories I absolutely support everything Quick Reads promotes; accessible reads by brilliant storytellers that not only leave you with the satisfaction of completing a whole piece of work but also take you on fantastic journeys."

Mike Gayle, You and Me

A poignant story of a newly single father taking his teenage daughter shopping for the first time.

Mike Gayle says: "Reading has always been so important to me, a gateway to other perspectives, worlds and times."

Keith Stuart, An Accidental Date

A spin-off from the bestselling A Boy Made of Blocks. 13-year-old Sam is on the autism spectrum. When he goes on his first date, his anxious father and mother decide to follow him - with surprising results.

Keith Stuart says: "I am incredibly proud to be involved with Quick Reads because literacy is such a vital life skill, not just practically but in terms of mental health and well-being."

Fanny Blake, Sisters

When two estranged sisters are brought together after their father's death, they find a letter that will change both their past and their future.

Fanny Blake says: "Reading can widen your horizons without your even having to leave home, and should be a pleasure that that is open to everyone at any age or stage of their lives."

Here's some more information from the Quick Reads site which you can visit here. 

Quick Reads plays a vital role in addressing the UK's adult literacy crisis, engaging the one in three adults who do not regularly read for pleasure and the one in six adults who find reading difficult. Publishing on 20 February with a new brand identity by Here Design, the engaging and accessible books by best-selling authors will help bring the pleasures and benefits of reading to everyone, by inspiring emerging readers as well as those who have little time or have fallen out of the habit.

Showcasing the very best contemporary writing with everything on offer from comedy to crime, the standalone titles include a psychological thriller from Clare Mackintosh; Candice Carty-Williams' retelling of the West Side Story to a carnival backdrop; an adaptation of Adam Kay's hilarious and painfully honest memoir; a story of a life changing hen weekend from Milly Johnson; an introduction to DI Harry Virdee from A.A. Dhand; and an anthology edited by Fanny Blake, featuring everything from nosy neighbours to new-found family, with short stories from the likes of Adele Parks, Ian Rankin and Sophie Kinsella.

The titles are available for just £1 at bookshops and are free to borrow from libraries. They are used across the country in colleges, prisons, trade unions, hospitals and adult learning organisations.

Debbie Hicks, Creative Director at The Reading Agency said: "We are delighted that Quick Reads is returning with such an impressive list of titles. We are so grateful to all the authors who have given their words and time to support this life-changing programme, and of course to Jojo Moyes who has made this all possible. We look forward to sharing these brilliant stories by brilliant authors and to inspiring even more people to discover a love of reading."

Fanny Blake, Quick Reads Commissioning Editor and author of Sisters, in A Fresh Start said: "I have been involved with books and reading all my adult life, as a publisher, journalist, reviewer and novelist, and find it shocking that one in six adults in the UK find reading difficult. Quick Reads plays an invaluable part in changing this statistic, and I'm thrilled to have been involved with the programme for the last four years as an author and Commissioning Editor. Reading can widen your horizons without your even having to leave home, and should be a pleasure that that is open to everyone at any age or stage of their lives. Quick Reads can help make this happen, and I know that the extraordinary list of 2020 titles will bring pleasure to many more readers."

Review: The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another "Astrokid," and finds himself falling head over heels--fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.
Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch.

Review: I did this book on audio and i heartily recommend reading this book in that format if you can because you get real broadcasts from the reality TV show following the astronauts and their families which just brings the whole thing to life. 

I warmed to Cal and his story right from the beginning of the book. I loved the fact that he is a social media star but one with a difference. He not only uses his platform to show off neighborhoods in New York but also he uses his voice, one that so many people will be able to identify with for political good. Every aspect of social media is explored incredibly well in this novel through the reality TV show and through Cal and his online presence. 

I also love the relationship that Cal develops with Leon. This a friendship as well as a romance. This is own voices for queer representation and I love that Cal and Leon live their queerness in different ways. I like the fact that Cal has to handle making new friends in a new place when he has been so comfortable with his relationships in NYC. 

This book also deals with issues surrounding mental health and the power of science, two topics not normally found together in a novel, especially not a novel that has been marketed as a gay, young adult romance. I love that the writer has fitted so much into such a small space without ever compromising an engaging story line. All of these issues are dealt with so well through events and characters in the book, I am in awe of how these issues were included in such a natural and never forced way. 

This book is something that will stay with me for a while, I am still thinking about the characters and I can't wait to see what this author comes up with next!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Guest Review: The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas

Dooleybridge, County Galway: the last place Fiona Clutterbuck expects to end up, alone, on her wedding night.
But after the words 'I do' have barely left her mouth, that's exactly where she is - with only her sequined shoes and a crashed camper van for company.
One thing is certain: Fi can't go back. So when the opportunity arises to work for brooding local oyster farmer, Sean Thornton, she jumps at the chance. Now Fi must navigate suspicious locals, jealous rivals and an unpredictable boss if she's to find a new life, and love, on the Irish coast. And nothing - not even a chronic fear of water - is going to hold her back.

Join Fi as she learns the rules of the ocean - and picks up a few pearls of Irish wisdom along the way...

Review: Having just finished and loved Jo Thomas’s latest book, Coming Home to Winter Island, I was determined to read more of her books. I have started with her award-winning debut novel, The Oyster Catcher. I was hoping that this would be of a similar standard to Coming Home to Winter Island, and needn’t have been concerned. Once again, I was hooked by this story right from the start and finished it in just 2 days, left with a desire to make a trip to the west of Ireland.

The central female character in this book is introduced to the reader as Fi, a young English lady who has somehow ended up in Dooleybridge, a small Irish town on Galway Bay that once had a thriving oyster industry, but is now somewhat rundown. The reason why she is there apparently without any means of returning to her home is explained gradually as the story progresses. Desperate for money and somewhere to stay, she accepts a job from the somewhat mysterious and moody Sean Thornton, an oyster farmer with a property just outside the town. Despite a crushing fear of water, she settles into her new life, however temporary she hopes it might be. However, as time goes on, she finds herself drawn to the town and its many characters, and hoping that she can find a way to save Dooleybridge and, most of all, Sean.

I really enjoyed this book. I was captured from the very beginning by Fi’s plight and liked the way that the author gradually introduced the story of how she came to be marooned in Dooleybridge. The town itself was very well described, and I could just picture myself walking along its streets and walking into its bar or coffee shop. The locals were just as I would imagine in a small town - all eagerness to find out what Fi was doing, and, in some cases, suspicious of her motives. They certainly added quite a bit of humour to the story. Sean Thornton was a strange character that I wasn’t sure if I was going to like. I was worried for Fi going to live and work with him, but he grew on me as he began to thaw. Despite the dilapidated state of his farm, its setting on the shores of the bay sounded very attractive. I began the book knowing nothing about oyster farming, but feel as though I have learned quite a bit about it. I won’t be consuming an oyster any time soon due to my shellfish allergy, but the thought of eating them fresh out of the sea had my mouth watering. This is another Jo Thomas novel that I would recommend to other readers; I am looking forward to the next one.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Review: Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. That's why when she finds out she'll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, a member of the rival royal family behind a humiliating scandal involving her little sister, she schemes to get revenge on the young nobleman in order to even the score between their families. The plan? Make him fall in love with her and then break his heart the way his family has broken hers.
Grey Emerson doesn't connect with people easily. Due to a curse placed on his family by the Raos that his superstitious father unquestioningly, annoyingly believes in, Grey grew up internalising that he was doomed from the day he was born. Sequestered away at St. Rosetta's Academy, he's lived a quiet existence in relative solitude. That is, until Jaya Rao bursts into his life. Jaya is exuberant and elegant and unlike anyone Grey has ever met before, but he can't help feeling that she's hiding something behind her beautiful smile and charmingly awkward attempts at flirting. Despite his better instincts, though, he starts to fall for her.
Jaya's plan isn't totally going according to plan. For one, Grey is aggravatingly handsome. And for two, she's realising there's maybe more to him than his name and his family imply.
The stars are crossed for Jaya and Grey. But can they still find their fairy-tale ending?

Review: Whilst this was a slight departure for me, genre wise, I love this author so there was no way I was not going to read this one and I was drawn into this story line right from the off and the drama and intrigue kept me turning the pages until the very end!

I really liked the characters in this book, there wasn't too big of a cast of people to get to know so it felt easy to slot into the school environment with Jaya and Grey. I liked all of Jaya's girl group and they were all so different from one another, as well as Jaya's sister Isha that I found them easy to identify and felt like I was part of the group. Grey is also very different from anyone else and I loved the little nods that he had to his unhappiness and his past in the same way as we see in the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. 

There is genuinely a good amount of diversity in this novel and it never seems to be there for diversity's sake. These characters are just who they are, this is their lives and we pick up right where we find them. I love when books show me people who are different from myself but not in a 'this book is here to show you diversity for diversity's sake' kind of way. This is something that I feel like translates into all of Sandhya Menon's books and why I love her writing and her characters so much. 

I really like the setting for this book, a boarding school right here in Colorado. I found it easy ti picture the comings and goings of the school day and I enjoyed getting to know their rules and traditions. You know this is a fancy boarding school becauaee they take a day out to go shopping in Aspen and also the fact that there is a good amount of royalty at this school-so fun. 

Another thing that this author does so well is romance and I loved all of the romantic moments in this one. Whether it was a look or an out and out kiss these moments were all wonderful and made me feel all smushy inside. 

I really enjoyed this novel and can't wait for more of this kind of romance from Sandhya Menon. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Reading Wrap Up: January 2020 (31 books?)


Top Ten Tuesday: The Last 10 Books that Gave me a Book Hangover 18/2/20

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This is such a good topic, we don't talk about this enough!

Contemporary-A-Thon Round 6 Reading Wrap Up

Last week was the Contemporary-a-thon round 6 was last week and I do have a vlog coming up for you to watch to see my progress but I thought I would share my wrap up with you first so you could see whether I met the reading challenges or not. 

The week basically went well on the whole until it came to the weekend and then that was just a bit of a write off for me. I went away and I didn't do any reading until the night I came back, the last night of the readathon. I had fun though and I don't mind that it meant I might have missed out on a couple of challenges because I was still having a good time and I know I will read (or have read) those books. I mean I still read 2251 pages and saw 4 movies in the cinemas this week so its been a pretty good week for entertainment! 

These were the challenges...

1. read a contemporary book with green on the cover 
2. read a contemporary from a new to you author
3. read a diverse contemporary (keeping in mind that it is Black History Month!)
4. read a backlist contemporary (something that has been on your TBR for over a year)
5. read a dark/hard hitting contemporary
6. read a contemporary with an illustrated cover

7. read a contemporary that is beloved by a member of the book community (and shout out the creator!)

And this is what I read...

This meets challenges 1, 2, 6 and 7 - 352 pages

This meets challenges 4,  6 and 7 - 400 pages

This meets challenge 3 - 337 pages

I read the final 50% of this. This meets challenges 1 and 6 - 225 pages

This meets challenges 2, 3, 5 and 6 - 368 pages

This is not a contemporary but my library audio download was due back to I listening to the last 75% of this and wanted to share it with you because it was good... 320 pages

I only read 65% of this (249 pages) on Sunday night when I got back from my trip but his meets challenges 1, 3 and 6 had I read the whole thing. My review will be up very very soon. 

As I say my vlog of this week will be coming your way later on in the week and look out for reviews for all of these books. I already have a book vs movie video for PS I Still Love You on my channel so I'll leave that below for you to enjoy!

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Movie Reviews: February 9th-15th 2020


Guest Review: Perfect Remains By Helen Fields

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.
In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…
Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.
It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

Review: This is the first of a series of crime novels written by Helen Fields featuring Detective Inspector Luc Callanach. I have read some of the later books in the series, so it was nice to read the beginning of the series. Luc Callanach is the son of a Scots father and a French mother. Following his father's death when Luc was young, he moved with his mother to France, eventually becoming a Police Officer working for Interpol in Lyon. In this book, we find out why, following an incident, Luc is obliged to leave Interpol and return to Scotland, where he joins Police Scotland's Major Investigation Team in Edinburgh. This causes some resentment with certain members of the squad, but he quickly finds an ally in Detective Inspector Ava Turner.

At the outset of the book, Ava is investigating a spate of babies abandoned in Edinburgh. Luc is thrown in at the deep end when a woman goes missing in Edinburgh and, shortly afterwards, a body is discovered in a burnt out bothy in the Cairngorms. As Luc and his team investigate, another woman goes missing. It therefore develops into a race against time before the body count mounts up. I found that the tension was maintained throughout the book and there were plenty of twists to the plot. This resulted in my wanting to keep reading and move on to each subsequent chapter to find out what happened next. I should add a warning that some of the violence was quite gruesome.

I don't know if I was reading too much into it, but there did appear to be a nod to the Ingmar Bergman film "The Seventh Seal" in that a game of chess features in both the film and this book. Like most works of crime fiction, some of the forensic science findings in this book seemed too good to be true. However, this is a minor criticism, and I found the book to be a thrilling, albeit graphic, account of major police investigations into a series of crimes.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Blog Tour: Extract from Walking Back to Happiness by Penelope Swithinbank

It's my stop on the blog tour for Walking Back to Happiness today. I have an extract to share with you and if you like the sound of that, click here to order your copy. All the author info is at the bottom of this post. Please remember to stop by the other blogs on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews. 

Here's what it's all about...

Two vicars, their marriage in tatters with wounds reaching far back into the past, set out on a journey to find healing and restoration. Their route will take them from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, but will it help them find their way home? Along the 320-mile route across rural France, burdened by backpacks and blisters, Kim and Penelope stumble across fresh truths, some ordinary, others extraordinary. But will they be defeated by the road ahead or triumph over the pain of the past? Is there a chance they'll find themselves in France and walk back to happiness? In this simple but enchanting book, part travelogue and part pilgrimage, Penelope invites you to walk with her and her husband on their epic journey as they encounter new faces and new experiences, and reconnect with each other and with God. Every step of the way, you'll discover more about yourself and what's really important to you.

And here's that extract for you...

Preamble A Great Walk

‘Portugal? Portugal? You want to go to Portugal by taxi?’
The taxi driver outside the airport at Béziers in south-west France is incredulous. He summons his fellow drivers around him to repeat our destination and they howl with laughter at our mispronunciation of Portiragnes. My husband, Kim, repeats it authoritatively in French:
‘Non, non, Portiragnes. Portiragnes-plage, s’il vous plaît,’ he says again. ‘We want to go to Portiragnes Beach, please.’
It is the start of our Big Adventure: to walk from the Mediterranean  to the Atlantic across France, from the Languedoc through Midi-Pyrenees and then Aquitaine. It is mere 530 km, more or less. 330 miles. 20,908,800 inches. We will feel every single one. But it will change us in ways we could never have imagined.
The Great Walk – la Grande Randonnée – has been on my bucket list for nearly thirty years after reading Miles Moreland’s book recounting his own grand marathon across the south-west of France. And I love walking, especially with a dog.
It began with dog walks when I was  a ten-year-old, getting up early on summer mornings to sneak out of the house with our family Springer Spaniel and walk her with a friend in the woods near our homes. And as a teenager, when we had moved to live near the sea, there was nothing better than tramping across the fields to the beach, black Labrador in tow, and usually by myself. The freedom and the fresh air were life-giving to rather solitary teenager. Later, with a clergy husband and a home and family of my own, I walked the streets of Norwich pushing my ‘stately pram of England’, a baby asleep in the pram, a toddler on the seat on top and an older toddler on the shopping tray underneath, my own dog, a golden Cocker Spaniel, trotting along beside me. We walked to the shops and the shopping was stowed all around the children; we walked to the  park and the children played on the swings; we walked to nursery school.
Then, after another move close to my parents-in-law, we walked to prep school near Bath. We moved to Stamford, for twelve happy years in The Rectory, and the children walked by themselves to school and I took the yellow Labrador Ollie on long rambles across the fields or by the river. And when the children grew up and left home, my husband and I began walking together on weeklong holidays in Italy  Casteluccia to Spoleto, Todi to Assisi, the Amalfi Coast; together we led pilgrimages on the Via Francigena, from San Gimignano to Siena or on to Montalcino. I organised pilgrimages on the Cotswold Way for groups of women, doing the 100 miles from Chipping Campden to Bath in six days and discovering the difference it makes physically, spiritually, emotionally, to walk for days on end, leaving the stress of normal everyday life for a while, concentrating on the countryside and the peace and the sheer rhythm of
placing one foot in front of another.
And how the silence and the solitude leave more space for the still small voice of God.
One day, my husband Kim and I promised ourselves, one day we will walk together across France from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.
And here we are. Sitting in a taxi on our way from the airport to the Mediterranean, excited, scared – and, if we are honest, a little lost in our marriage and our lives.

‘For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) it’s always ourself we find in the sea.’ (e.e. cummings)

Will we really walk from sea to sea? And will we find ourselves and each other again in France?

Penelope is an avid walker and spends a lot of her time stomping in the hills and valleys near her home outside Bath. She is a chaplain at Bath Abbey and a spiritual therapist and counsellor for clergy (and some normal people too). Since becoming a vicar nearly 20 years ago, she has worked in churches in the UK and the USA, and has led pilgrimages in the UK and in Europe. She and her husband Kim have been married for more than 40 years and have three children and six grandchildren. Penelope rarely sits down, loathes gardening and relaxes by reading, going to the theatre or playing the piano. She is the author of two books, Women by Design and Walking Back to Happiness and is currently working on her third, due out in 2020: Scent of Water, a devotional for times of spiritual bewilderment and grief.