Books

Leopard at the Door – Jennifer McVeigh

Rachel at 18 has decided to go back to the home she knows in Kenya.

After spending the last 6 years in England away from her father and still very much grieving for her mother, Rachel simply wants to go home.

But the home she is going to doesn’t exist anymore.

It is 1952, the world is changing. Queen Elizabeth has just come to the throne, and the empire is slowly breaking apart and moving away to be independent.

As in Kenya, the Mau Mau are playing a strong role in disturbing the peace and not in a peaceful way. Rachel thinks it is al rumours until she finally reaches her family farm.

Her father warned her not to come, maybe because he knew the risks and the danger ahead and maybe because he had not told her about Sara.

Sara now lives with Rachel’s father along with her son Harold. Sara makes no secret of her dislike of the natives and how she wants to return to some sort of civilised world. Nor does she hide her dislike of Rachel.

Rachel is shocked, the people she grew up with, the cook Jim, her childhood friend Michael are now kept on the periphery of the farm. This is not the world she left behind.

This book places you in the centre of the Kenya uprising and shows a small part of what went on with the rise of the Mau Mau. I knew very little about it, the name synonymous with violence and death but little else. This brought to life the magnificence of the African landscape, the desolation, the heat, the vast expanse, peppered with shots of violence, some of it made me want to stop reading the book. But I had to learn more about Rachel’s life and more about a turbulent time in British and Kenyan History.

I didn’t know where this book was going to lead me and although I had worked out one of the outcomes for Rachel, I did not predict the rest and it opened my eyes.

For fans of Dinah Jefferies or Julia Gregson then this book will appeal to you. Well written and taking a rather difficult and political subject and sparking your interest about it all through the wonder of historical fiction. What more can you ask from a book?

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

Leopard at the Door is out now. 

Advertisements
Books

The Wish – Alex Brown

Back to Tindledale with this novel from Alex Brown which is a village that has been brought to life be her wonderful stories over the last few years.

Sam Morgan has returned to the village where his wife Chrissie and daughter Holly live, he has been away working hard at making a life for them, so they don’t have to worry about anything. Trouble is he has missed important dates, events and not been there to deal with his daughter’s condition.

Chrissie, his wife is very reluctant to accept Sam back, in fact she doesn’t want him back. All Holly wishes is for her parents to be together again and perhaps she can help that happen.

Jude, Chrissie’s friend and Holly’s godmother is back in Tindledale from America. She takes over the local antiques shop and thinks she can rebuild a life in the village where she grew up and not have to deal with anything from her past. It seems though that someone else’s past might well be there to change things for everyone. With a faded rock star to contend with, as well as her friends marriage problems and goddaughters problems, the peaceful life Jude wants may be a while in coming.

This is a heart warming story which captures the problems of long distance relationships and secrets of the past. The village is not featured as much as previous Tindledale stories but you still get that feel of a community all coming together.

There is plenty to make you laugh, cry and empathise with in this novel and that is what makes it a pleasant read. Personally not of the best Alex Brown novels but a good escapist read if that is needed.

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

The Wish is out now. 

 

Books

The Disappearance – Annabel Kantaria

Audrey plans a once in a lifetime cruise around the Greek Isles as a 70th birthday present to herself. She asks that her two children – Lexi and John to come away with her.

Lexi and John reluctantly accompany her. But when she goes missing they then start questioning the relationship they have with each other, their deceased father and their mother.

Intriguingly we know that Audrey is missing right from the first page of the book – as we read on we are waiting until we get to that point in the story.

In dual time narrative, we are taken back to another ship and another time. One where Audrey is bound for India, where she meets the man who becomes her husband. When the world and its values were a very different place.

How does Audrey’s past have anything to do with the present and possibly the future?

I found this novel riveting, not just the background to Audrey who I felt sorry for from beginning to end but the well drawn characters of Lexie and John. Lexie has poured her heart and soul into wanting a child. That is her main focus, so much so that it is eating away at her relationship with everyone. My opinion of her changed as she tried to deal with her own personal grief as well as that of looking after an aging mother.

John on the other hand, I disliked from the start and nothing he did made me feel any different. Working himself into an early grave no doubt and trying to maintain a facade that was slowly crumbling. But the hope of an inheritance when his mother dies……

So when did Audrey go missing on that cruise and the ultimate question – did she jump or was she pushed?

There is only one way to find out and that is to read the novel.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. Even if it has taken me a while!

I had not heard of this author before and certainly would be interested to see what else she has written. 

Books

Happily Ever After at the Dog and Duck – Jill Steeples

I thought the previous book was the last in this series about the villagers of Little Leyton. It seemed that everything was tidied up and there were no loose ends, of course sometimes you always want to nip back and see what is happening.

And this is what Jill Steeples has done with this, her definite last book in the series.

Ellie, now finding her feet as a mum, as well as still being the owner of the Dog and Duck and lady of the manor in the big house in the village, which seems to attract everyone.

Ellie realises that she wants to spend the rest of her life with Max and that it is the perfect time for them to get married. So with only a few weeks to get everything organised she adds another thing to do to her already full list!

But she doesn’t bank on a fire, a mother in law moving in, lost dogs, secrets, accidents and snow!

With a lot packed into this book it is obvious that the path to the altar is not going to be straightforward, but has Ellie got the strength?

It was lovely to go back and especially spend another Christmas at Little Leyton, it felt like getting caught up again with your favourite characters in a television programme (that perfect Sunday Night Drama).

Heartwarming and a simply lovely read, best read as a whole series from the beginning then I think you get a real sense of the place and the people.

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

All of the Dog and Duck series are out now. 

 

Books

November Roundup

First of all November was the month where I completed by Goodreads Challenge.

I think this is the first time I have done so as early as mid November. Ironically my reading has since slowed down and I have given up on two books, but more of that later. I am quite chuffed but still maintain I won’t change that 100 number for 2019.

It seemed to be the month of completing series of books as I did when I picked up Emma Davies – Christmas at the Little Cottage on the Hill. I highly recommend these books and they are great if you fancy a binge read.

It is always a great when you think a series of books is over and then you get another one Jill Steeples – Happily Ever After at The Dog & Duck does just that and now I think the series is finally over! Again another lovely set of books to read.

Of course thanks to netgalley I get to read a lot of books but no matter how many I read on my kindle I still love holding a book in my hands and the chunkier the better. That was the case when I picked off my shelf Michelle Magorian – Impossible. This is the author of Goodnight Mister Tom and through the years I have read many of her other books and they have always been a great delight and capturing reads. This one, not so much but not enough to stop reading her books.

Another actual hold in your hand book was Celia Imrie – Sail Away. I have always been sceptical of famous people or ‘celebs’ writing fiction and in some cases it doesn’t always work and in others it does. This falls into the latter (thank goodness) and was a great pick since I went on my first cruise this year. Luckily though none of the things that happened in this book I was aware of on my cruise. But I did miss seeing any of the dancing in the afternoon!

Cruising seemed to be a theme when I then unaware picked up Annabel Kantaria  – The Disappearance. It had been languishing on my netgalley to read shelf which was the only reason for choosing it. But did she jump or was she pushed? Who, where and why? You will have to read the book to find out for yourself.

The classic whodunnit means I alway go back to Agatha Christie and in slow time bid to read all her novels I have ticked another off the list – Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders. This is one of the latest Sarah Phelps adaptations and will be shown over the Christmas period on the BBC.

Obviously because Christmas is coming I cracked on with some more Christmas reading with a most recent publication Veronica Henry – Christmas at The Beach Hut. A good festive read on the beach and a return to a place the author has been before. Ironically The Beach Hut was the first of this authors work that I read!

The final book for the month I read was Alex Brown – The Wish another book which has been hanging around on my netgalley shelf and I don’t know why because I enjoy this authors work. Sometimes you can have just too many books to read and not enough time.

I am currently reading a book I knew nothing about – The Truth About the Harry Querbert Affair which has got me gripped but I have been so busy with birthdays, nights out, work that the reading and the knitting has taken a bit of a back seat.

Whether it is because I have been busy or tired but there were two books which just did not do it for me. The Last Romeo – Justin Myers and The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness – Laura Kemp. We should probably give up on more books than we do as there are so many more out there to read.

So that’s November and here we are in December and I need some more Christmas reading to get me in the spirit after a whole weekend of Christmas decorating at work.

 

 

 

 

Books

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman – Milly Johnson

Marnie has made plenty of mistakes in her life. Her latest drives her away from her home, her job and her friends. But actually Marnie hasn’t really found her true home or her true job. And as for her friends and family it all seems to have been a lie.

When she makes friends with an old lady, Lilian, on an internet chat room and blurts out her whole story, little does she know that it is about to change her life forever.

Marnie heads to Wychwell, in the Yorkshire Dales. To seek sanctuary in the village of Lilian’s. It is in fact Lilian’s village, she is the owner, the lady of the manor in fact.

When events take a rather odd turn, Marnie it turns out is the one the whole village will look up to and her actions are going to be under scrutiny.

Not only is Marnie dealing with the fallout of her sudden role, but the death of her adoptive mother, her precious sister and her flaky friend. Plus there are rumours abound in the village about a witch.

There is so much packed into this book and the characters really pop off the page. Marnie is flawed as are all humans, but she doesn’t accept her flaws and cannot see what anyone else could possibly see in her. But as readers we can and so does some of the key characters. Marnie’s background brought tears to my eyes and could quite easily have made a sadder story than it turned out to be.

Village life, baking, gossips, rumours of witches, deaths, handsome men, meddling neighbours and love. Everything you want in a book and more!

This is one of the better Milly Johnson books I have read.

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

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman is out now. 

Books

The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village – Joanna Nell

I think secretly we all want to grow old disgracefully – I certainly do.

So do a number of the residents of the Jacaranda Retirement Village.

Meet Peggy, widowed with just her dog Basil for company. Her children David and Jenny have other ideas about where Peggy should be living and are ready to pounce as the slightest indication of dementia or even a fall.

But Peggy is just simply existing in her beige apartment, with her beige clothes, living rather a beige life. her excitement for the week is either a visit to the doctor or seeing fellow resident Brian head off swimming.

That is until Angie a childhood friend turns up at the village and starts to shake things up not just for Peggy but for the stalwarts on committees and the like.

Angie takes Peggy under her wing, when she has that ultimate fall and gets some colour back into Peggy’s life with her clothes as well as her hobbies. Peggy does things she has never done before and embraces it all with aplomb and with much shock to her family.

But Angie is hiding some secrets and it doesn’t take long for the roles to be reversed and Peggy suddenly sees life in a different way.

This is a gentle book, that meanders along doctors appointments, committee meetings, aqua aerobics, almost the mundane aspects of perhaps what some people thinks of as retirement. It is all told humour and some stark reality about life with certain medical conditions and the process of ageing.

It is all about life being lived whatever your age and limitations – basically the author is telling us there is nothing to stop you other than death!

A skilful debut novel which draws on the author’s experiences clearly as a GP – (I only discovered this after I had read the book) and interestingly her setting, Australia was not so obvious to me despite perhaps the language clues and it too me until two-thirds of the way through the book to realise where it was set. (Again, the author UK born has moved to Australia). What it did show me that no matter where you are in the world, there is an expectation of how our aging population are being treated.

Interesting to see what comes next from this author.

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

The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Village is out now.