Books

The Paris Secret – Lily Graham

Valerie has been in Paris before, when she was three, she has never been back since. When she was three she was fleeing for her safety to England and her aunt.

Now in her twenties, Valerie goes back to a place to make sense of the future.

Getting a job in a bookshop in Paris, for any voracious reader would be a dream job. What makes this job more special for Valerie is in fact this is the bookshop she was born in and it is still owned by her grandfather, Vincent Dupont.

But Valerie is not being entirely truthful and does not tell Vincent who she really is.

What she discovers though is her past and what happened before that fateful day she was sent to England and will Vincent give up the bitter secret he has been holding onto for a number of years, eating away at his heart and spirit?

This is an emotional book, which transports you backwards and forwards in the 1940s and 1960s, in a different take perhaps on a dual time novel. The only short space of time is interesting because so much has happened and changed for a city such as Paris. History has taught us this and the author has used some of that to bring this story to life.

I worked out what Vincent was hiding from Valerie’s and I would have been interested to read some other accounts of that circumstance and the consequences for subsequent generations but that wasn’t to be. Despite knowing this, it did not spoil the novel at all – it was handled beautifully and told so well.

I felt I have been immersed in a place; Paris, a setting; a bookshop and a story.

This book is very different to Lily Graham’s earlier work – but do you know what? It is great writing and storytelling which will have me going back for more.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Paris Secret is out now. 

 

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Books

Island Christmas – Jenny Colgan

This is the third book in the Mure Island series, and whilst it can be read as a standalone, you will not get the feel of the island in my opinion if you have not picked up The Summer at the Seaside Kitchen, Endless Beach and also a QuickRead book A Very Distant shore.

I was ready to pounce when this was released, so was delighted to be able to read it thanks to the publisher and netgalley.

Mure is a remote Scottish Island where all the action is set. And with Christmas approaching, it is place where you cannot get more remote as the weather sets in and the landscape changes to that of a winter wonderland. If you want to experience, the power of weather as you take refuge in front of log burning fires, with the ones you love and delicious food then this is the place to be.

Flora, who returned to the island has settled back into life as an islander. Her new relationship with American lawyer Joel is still very up and down. The island knows how to celebrate with Christmas coming and Flora’s home is used as the base for the islands party. How can you party and be pregnant and have not told the father? Flora is full of emotions and she has undeniable strength which she is going to need to call on.

The refugee doctor, Saif and his two young boys are still settling down on the island and they are very much becoming part of the island – so much so that they have starring roles in the school nativity. But the casting angers Saif and he cannot see anyway of staying on the island. Then a phone call about his wife comes through, perhaps it is time to move on.

This book is packed full of emotion and within the darkness of some of the plot strands and the landscape and weather, there is an inevitable lightness which sees you through. It is a cleverly skilled author who can manage the both with success. It is all here in abundance. I could say more, but to do so would ruin it for you.

Whilst perhaps, the series could come to an end. I really hope it does not. I was fascinated by the community life, the remoteness of the island, the weather and the characters that the author has created.

All of this series are excellent reads and if you can have the joy of starting at the beginning and powering through all of them you will have a wonderful experience and be desperate to experience Mure for yourself, if only for a holiday!

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

An Island Christmas is published on 18th October. 

The other Mure books are all out now. 

Books

The Little Paris Patisserie – Julie Caplin

So far in this series of books we have been to Copenhagen, crossed the Atlantic to Brooklyn and now we are a mere train journey away to Paris.

Nina feels stifled by her family, the youngest with three very protective brothers, means she can hardly sneeze without any of them suddenly thinking she is coming down with pneumonia and telling how she should be looking after herself.

Coasting through life so far, knowing she can rely on going home when the going gets tough – Nina decides this time that she needs to move away if she ever has a chance of breaking out from under their control.

Nina ends up in Paris.

To  help to run a patisserie course.

With Sebastian – her brother’s friend and the man Nina has had a secret crush on for as long as she can remember.

What possibly could go wrong?

Whilst the author brings to life the patisserie course, the mouth-watering eclairs she described nearly had me getting up in the middle of the night to make choux pastry. The relationship between Nina and Sebastian seemed to take a long time to blossom and I found a great part of the book very pedestrian as whilst it was clear Nina was trying to find her feet away from her family, it took a long time. The secondary characters were more interesting for most of the book and the interesting way they went about preserving and recreating the patisserie was far more interesting for me than the romance between Nina and Sebastian.

This was a pleasant read but perhaps not as satisfying as a chocolate eclair may have been.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Little Paris Patisserie is out now.

 

Books

The Single Mums’ Picnic Club – Jennifer Joyce

Three single Mums, single for very different reasons: George, Frankie and Katie are thrown together unexpectedly and they strike up a friendship over food!

Picnic’s in particular.

George has the most passion for food and her picnics are second to none, made because she is lost when her son starts school. It is her skill and talent that leads all of these women to come up with a unique twist on their little club.

Katie still cannot understand why her husband left her with two teenage children. When he comes to pick up the children, the tension is thick and Katie just cannot bring herself to sever the ties to bring the marriage to an end. With the strength of these new friends and a helping hand from an unexpected source, Katie can move on.

Frankie is still dealing with the fact she has twins and no husband to help her, why did he have to die? To make their lives perfect she is doing everything she can but forgetting to look after herself in the process. That is until she meets Katie and George.

Told from the perspective of each of the main characters, we get to see the friendship develop and how being a single mother has defined them and how they try to break away from that definition and become their own person and identity again.

A book that explores strength of female friendship and the need for that interaction, the male characters are secondary to them all. Whilst at times it perhaps did not hold up with enough depth to some of the characters it was a good read, to while away a few hours.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Single Mums’ Picnic Club is out now.

 

Books

The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove – Karen Clarke

As the year comes to a close, many of the books I have read have been part of trilogy and inevitable must come to an end. Which is the case with the latest novel from Karen Clarke.

We are at the point of Tilly’s story, after exploring her friends Cassie and Meg in the previous two novels and who also feature in this book too. Tilly could be said to coast through life, she has a passion for many things including taking people on walks during the tourist season along the cliffs as well as some interior designing.

When she is given the job of finishing the extension to the function room at the cafe in Seashell cove she tackles it with the same laid back attitude as most things.

Trouble is there is a lot riding on the completion. Romance is in the air, and the mistletoe must be in place, for new relationships, proposals and new life. The secrets that Tilly is holding make the task even more important and even less possible.

When she meets Seth, she perhaps starts to realise what her friends have been going on about and when she gets the opportunity to perhaps help him with some more interior designing she could then perhaps spread her skills further and everyone would take her a bit more seriously.

What Tilly did not bank on, was the doubt her sister Bridget throws at her as well as Seth’s frightening mother and a young lad who just wants some fun. It could all go horribly wrong and become over complicated but of course with Christmas round the corner, it has to come right in the end. Doesn’t it?

For me this was the weakest of the trilogy and at times, I was just simply turning the pages and did not feel very involved with the story and certainly did not feel much for Tilly. It needed something else to hold the story from beginning to end – it was too bitty and seemed rather rushed.

I think this book deserves to be read straight after the previous two, I struggled to remember anything about the characters and plot and there was not enough to remind me in this book. If you are looking for a book to pass the time, with an ultimately happy ending then this series of books could well be the for you.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove is out on 5 October.

Looking back at my review I find it rather wishy-washy (perhaps like the book?) but I feel I may have reached saturation point with some of these tales, as I read a number of authors that write in a similar vein. Trouble is for me there are better stories and better authors who do this style of book and it might be I need to seriously pay attention to what I request from netgalley or pick up in a bookshop. 

Books · Jottings

September Roundup

Normally I have to confess my September reading tails off mainly due to being back to work and feeling like I have overread when I have had so much time at home during August. But this year, 2018 seems to be a very different year. I am 12 books ahead in my challenge and read a respectable 9 in September and one of them was over 700 pages long!

I am fairly new to Milly Johnson books and there is a few to catch back up with, but Milly Johnson – The Teashop on the Corner and her latest Milly Johnson – The Mother of all Christmases were both enjoyed in September, even if one of them had a slight Christmas feel! Unfortunately the ARC copy I had via netgalley was very badly formatted and it took a while to get going, but when I did I will say it was a lovely book to read.

Talking of Christmas I completed two series of books with Karen Clarke – The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove. Reading quite a lot of authors who are of a similar vein, some are more stronger than others and I have to say this series was not quite so good and I think I will certainly think twice about embarking on another read from her, not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with the writing, but I know there are other books out there which are much stronger and also lots of books I have to read as well!

I don’t think I will venture far away from Holly Martin – Coming Home to Maple Cottage all of her novels have been a delight so warm and funny, I just have to keep reading. Christmas is the perfect time for a family to come together.

I only discovered Emma Davies this year and when I say she was writing a series of books around one place, I thought I would give them a go – what turned into a read to save for my holidays got absolutely devoured long before I had even sailed away on my cruise. Which is why I was there on day of publication for Emma Davies – Return to The Little Cottage on the Hill. Bringing to life the life of a blacksmith as well as the well cooked food and the people of Joy’s Acre. I have just preordered the next one!

Without netgalley I know I would not have been able to try half the books I have read and that is where I stumble across many an author and which is why then they have a new book I always like to go and see what it is all about which is why I found myself with Jennifer Joyce – The Single Mums’ Picnic Club. I am always in two minds about reading books featuring babies, mums etc as having had or been neither I do wonder if it will be as enthralling as they maybe to mothers? Only they can answer that question I suppose but this was a great book to show how friendships can be formed with different women with different backgrounds with the commonality of being a mum.

Food is a great way to draw people together and many books feature the joy of food cooking, catching, growing, eating, preparing and when you mention patissiere you can imagine the glorious feeling of biting into a fresh chocolate eclair and the cream just oozing out! Therefore reading Julie Caplin – The Little Paris Patisserie was like this without the calories. The story for me was weaker than her previous two novels in this series, but it made me want to break a choux pastry recipe and do them for myself.

A lot of the books I have read in September have been modern, contemporary novels and whilst Tracy Rees – Darling Blue is a modern author who manages to write historical fiction that just about manages to fit in that genre as her books change with each story and fit in nothing but the Tracy Rees box. Tracy wrote me a lovely message after the review of her latest was published here on this blog

It’s always nice to hear positive things about my books and especially so when I feel the reader really got it! I love how you said about each book being different and not fitting into the genre box. That’s something that’s really important to me, to keep doing something different and try for variety even within the loose category of ‘historical fiction. It’s not playing safe but it keeps me interested and hopefully gives each book its own life.

It always crosses my mind that if an author reads my review they may not like it. Of course not every book is for every person even if you have read from the author before. But so far for me Tracy Rees has delivered.

Of course fans of this blog (if there are any out there) should know I am a fna of Lucinda Riley and for me her books continue to deliver book after book.

Having finished The Pearl Sister back in August when Lucinda Riley – The Moon Sister landed on the mat, I had two options – place it reverently by the bed, thinking oh how wonderful I have this to read and I get to experience the story of The Seven Sisters or dive straight in and indulge in whatever story comes away from the page. reader I did the latter and so glad I did. The review is to follow as I want the book to settle in my mind, for the vibrations to continue that bit longer as I try to consolidate how I really feel about this story. One thing is for sure, each one is my favourite and I cannot distinguish between the first five.

So a pretty good September, but I know for October I want to get an inroad into my actual teetering pile of books I have around my home. The kindle and netgalley is a wonderful thing but I feel I need to hold onto some actual books for a while.

Happy Reading in October.

 

Books

Coming Home to Maple Cottage – Holly Martin

This is the final book in the Sandcastle Bay series and we conclude with Isla’s story who we know from the previous two novels. Isla returned to Sandcastle Bay when her brother Matthew was killed and she became guardian of his small son, Elliot.

It wasn’t what Isla planned, but now she would not be without the delightful little boy and the even more gorgeous Leo although he was never in her plans either!

Leo happens to be Elliot’s godfather and has as much of a vested interest in the boy as anyone and Elliot is growing to love his godfather and the male influence that is obviously needed in his life.

Isla and Leo want to give Elliot the best life but neither are sure whether that best life is with them all together as a family. They enjoy their time together, parties, fireworks and simple family routines like dinner and playing in the garden.

It all seems rosy and idyllic that is until the past comes back and threatens all that they have grown to love.

Can Isla and Leo deal with what has happened and the possibility of the future? Will Elliot have the parents that he deserves after a rough start in life.

This is a great laugh out loud read and conclusion to the series, Elliot and his take on Isla and Leo’s relationship, especially when he sees them in bed together was funny. But with all that humour as well, there is plenty of romance and a few tears can be shed along the way as well. A sign of a good book which covers all the emotions and leave you completely satisfied when you have finished the novel.

Thank you Holly for the joy you bring in your writing.

Coming Home to Maple Cottage is a book that can be read as a standalone but it is even better when you read it as part of the series.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Coming Home to Maple Cottage is published on 28 September.