Books

Saving the Day – Katie Fforde

I am a big fan of Katie Fforde novels and when the opportunity came to read this short novella I of course jumped at the chance.

Allie is bored with her job in a supermarket and the people she works with, she is bored with her boyfriend Ryan. Every day she walks past a place she wants to work – a little café. One day she gets the chance.

But she needs to learn about cooking and learn that there is more to life than Ryan.

Grabbing every opportunity, Allie can see a different world in front of her.

A lovely book to escape to and enjoy anther world and also show you that all opportunities are out there and perhaps you just need a push in the right direction.

Perhaps that push is reading and Saving the Day is one of the 2021 Quick Reads series to encourage those who perhaps don’t read normally or struggle the starting blocks to discovering more adventures in the pages of books. Once you discover Katie Fforde you can indulge in all of her previous works and they will bring you sheer joy – guaranteed.

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

Saving the Day is out now.

About Quick Reads – excerpts taken from the website. Please click here to learn more.

Quick Reads provide a route into reading that prioritises great story telling and adult-focused content while ensuring the books are written in an accessible and easy to read style.

.…1 in 6 adults in the UK struggle with reading and 1 in 3 adults do not regularly read for pleasure.

…In addition, studies have shown that those who do read for pleasure have higher levels of self-esteem and a greater ability to cope with difficult situations.

It has been a while since I have mentioned the Quick Reads programme on my blog – but feel free to click on the links below to some of the previous years

Quick Reads

Quick Reads 2015

Quick Reads 2016

Books

A Letter to the Last House Before the Sea – Liz Eeles

Heaven’s Cove and Driftwood House, the B & B was first introduced to use in a previous book by this author. And we are swept back to this house, almost at the edge of the world, the sea power below as the world carries on even when everything else seems to be changing.

For Lettie Starcross, Driftwood House is the right place to escape to and perhaps she can get some answers to not just her late great aunts previous life in Heaven’s Cove but also some answers for herself. Portrayed as the Starcross Family’s resident drudge – she is there for the convenience of them all and none of it is helping her. I was immediately struck at how callous and ignorant her family were in treating Lettie, it made me want to spit! When Lettie up sticks to Heaven’s Cove it was clearly going to do more than just Lettie some good.

Great Aunt Iris leaves clues to her previous life in Heaven’s Cove but never spoke of why she left and what she left behind. Lettie, grieving for this lost stability in her life she seeks to find out about Iris past. Driftwood House it turns out was Iris previous home and her name still makes some of the older residents blanch when it is heard. Some memories run deep and history has a way of still affecting the present.

As Lettie learns more about her aunt and what happened, she also learns about the village and it’s villagers and finds herself drawn into someone else’s past which somehow makes her connect to Heaven’s Cove stronger and the pull seems greater than her previous life in London, with her family close by.

Events unfold and secrets are shared and the truth is finally known about a previous Starcross at the Last House by the Sea but will the past make the newer one finally find a place in the world.

A book whose backdrop of the rugged landscape and the weather is as prominent feature in these stories about Heaven’s Cove as much as the character’s. It gives it a sense of importance and reflects on how its powerful and beauty can be seen in the actions of those who live close by.

I really hope to go back to Heaven’s Cove…..if only I could stay in Driftwood House…..do find the time for a break away there.

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

A Letter to the Last House Before the Sea is out now.

Books

Chasing the Italian Dream – Jo Thomas

Lucia is working hard at her job as a lawyer, she knows she is up for promotion and so she is determined to win the coveted place. She knows she can do no more once she leaves for her two week holiday back to Italy, to her grandparents and the place she thinks of as home.

Upon arriving in southern Italy, I like Lucia felt automatically transported to the warmth of the Mediterranean, the smell of the lemons growing in the trees, the music of the little village and the taste of the home cooking from her grandmothers home kitchen.

All is not as it seems as Lucia, settles in she realises that her grandfather is thinking about giving up his little pizza restaurant as there is no one to take his place now he is seriously considering retiring. Lucia is horrified that this going to happen and is even further shocked when she discovers who is likely to take over.

Her husband, Giacomo. A man she has not seen for at least six years and someone she has not actually got round to divorcing.

It looks like this is going to be a difficult period for Lucia and she decides to face the challenge head on and says she wants to run the restaurant too. Her Grandfather sets her and Giacomo to a competition and may the best ‘man’ win.

However it is not going to be easy for either of them, Lucia needs to be recognised as something that is seen only as a mans job and so she needs some support. That support comes from some unlikely but lovely sources and proves that any woman is as good as any man in the kitchen.

Can Lucia keep a restaurant going and a successful career in law in another country? Can she keep the tomato sauce bubbling on the stove and can she convince Giacomo that perhaps they should get divorced. As difficulties find all of them in different ways, Lucia is faced with a decision – what does she want to do with her life? And who does she want to share it with?

I am fairly new to this authors books, but they are so rich with colour and character and in the case of this one wonderful Italian flavours that I could have eaten a bucket of gorgeous pizza and pasta described so well by the author. I was transported away completely with this novel and the warmth of its story emanated off the page in waves and I was swept away to that little part of Italy where I felt I could watch the world go by.

A perfect holiday read and a perfect read if you really need an Italian dream holiday.

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

Chasing the Italian Dream is out now on Kindle and published on 10 June in paperback.

Books · Jottings

Parish Notices

Hello readers, I hope things are well in your parishes?

I thought I might pop on and share some recent books with you, just in case you haven’t had the chance to hear about them.

Hidden Secrets at the Little Village Church – Tracy Rees

A warm and heartfelt book where I wasn’t sure if I could warm to the two main protagonists who I found tiresome, sullen and quite prickly at the beginning. They both needed a good shake, but how wonderful to see such a small task be able to change Gwen and Jarvis and also my perception about them as I learnt more……..Thank you Tracy Rees this book was a pure tonic of a read and if you want to write more like this I for one will certainly be reading them. A little book of pure joy.

Holidays are quite the topic at the moment, but you can escape through reading I promise you and you might even find a mermaid on your travels.

Summer Kisses at Mermaids Point – Sarah Bennett

Laurie Morgan runs a small café, next door to a gift shop that her parents run, her brother Nick can be found on the tour boats in this delightful costal village and her aunt can also be found popping into help in the café. A real family feel to this book and I am sure in subsequent books we will get to know more about them all.

A wonderful escapist novel, which sweeps you away to the seaside, that takes you for a paddle in the waters, to the mouth watering cakes of Laurie’s café as the well as the warmth of the community environment and the strength of family. This book has so many layers of warmth that you will never feel cold reading it!

I do love a bit of history and I highly recommend this read which fascinated me.

The Girl From the Island – Lorna Cook

This is a fascinating book which gives a real insight into life under German occupation on the island and shows the conflicts and battles that the islanders had to face as well as the occupying German forces as well. The book certainly pushed your expectations to make you think of both sides during the war and for that I commend it.

This latest from Lorna Cook, like her previous novels takes an element of history that is perhaps overlooked or not given as much page space and weaves the fact with the fiction to create a story to draw you in and care.

And a latest finish, which has yet to appear on my blog is the latest from Liz Fenwick

Published in the coming days, this is a real delight and a must for fans of historical fiction, family sagas, big houses and the complexity of family.

What have you been reading in your parish? Anything of note? Anything you are looking forward to? I have only ventured to a bookshop once since restrictions lifted and I will endeavour to get there again because there is a lot of books I want to read…and of course so little time.

Books

Murder at Elm House – Helena Dixon

If there is one thing you can rely on it is the fact that Kitty Underhay, the main protagonist in these stories is that she isn’t far from a dead body or two! Her Grandmother implores her to stay out of trouble and stick to running The Dolphin Hotel in Dartmouth, but Kitty now with ability to drive can go further afield now.

In this the sixth instalment, Kitty finds herself visiting Mrs Craven, one of her grandmothers friends and someone who always has their nose into everyone’s business. Kitty finds her quite a challenge and her acid tongue can be quite cutting. Recuperating from an operation at Elm House, Mrs Craven is convinced that something untoward is going on.

There are a lot of comings and goings at strange times of the night and whilst residents should be recuperating there seems to be a high amount of deaths. Kitty cannot help but investigate especially when it seems her attempt to find out what happened to her mother interests many people and puts her forefront of some rather unsavoury characters.

All of these threads that Kitty is investigating along with private investigator, Matt Bryant, who Kitty is now officially stepping out with seems all rather random and unrelated, but as the story goes one the body count gets higher and it seems that perhaps what Kitty was looking for was closer than she first thought.

Still featuring Alice, Kitty’s faithful employee at the hotel and one of my favourite characters for her forthrightness when it comes to Kitty’s behaviour coupled with her unwavering loyalty as well, they make an interesting duo when they investigate together. Dolly, Alice’s sister is working at Elm House and seems she might have innocently seen some of the answers to many of the questions that Kitty and Matt have. I do hope we get to see more of Alice and Dolly in future novels.

As the story reaches it conclusion, of course there are many questions answered, but still Kitty is seeking the truth about her mother and it looks like we might need to wait a bit longer for that one. And as for the fordable Mrs Craven, perhaps the events at Elm House might mellow her? I of course like everyone else will have to wait and see.

This is a delightful series of cosy mysteries set in Dartmouth, Devon in the mid Nineteen Thirties, full of humour, warmth and a bit of romance amongst the body count and the scrapes that Kitty and Matt find themselves in. I recommend you start at the beginning and catch me up!

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

Murder at Elm House is published on 7 June 2021.

Links to my reviews of the previous novels can be found below:

Murder at the Dolphin Hotel – Helena Dixon

Murder at Enderley Hall – Helena Dixon

Murder at the Playhouse – Helena Dixon

Murder on the Dancefloor – Helena Dixon

Murder in the Belltower – Helena Dixon

Books

May Roundup

May has rather been a wash out, weather wise – as for the reading well it was fine with few showers!

I think in reference tot he showers I must refer to the last book I read for the month which was Julie Shackman – A Secret Scottish Escape. A book I took a chance on from netgalley but sadly it did not live up to it’s premise. Of course I feel guilty and then I question why did I finish it if I didn’t like it. I have yet to answer that question myself. I just have to recognise that not all books fit sometimes.

Trying my hand with another new author to me Faith Hogan – The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club, took me away to Ireland and the wonder that is swimming. Something I adore. Although I have yet to venture into the sea, the outdoor pool is about as far as I go, but I might be tempted to the lido quite soon. This was a book which would warm you from the coldest swim.

Of course not everyone is passionate about water and the sea and when you find yourself on the coast with bad memories of a childhood incident it can cause some heartache. Liz Eeles – A Letter to the Last House Before the Sea helps reveal secrets from the past and heal past misdemeanours in this latest book.

Sticking with the sea and the beach theme, takes me back to Jewel Island and the sensuous stories that come from Holly Martin – Sunlight over Crystal Sands. Her books are fantastic travel escapism and this series seems to be getting better and better.

Travelling all over the place with my reading means I can be in Ireland, in Cornwall or all the way up to Scotland where I get to revisit another place I have enjoyed getting to know Heartcross. Back now with Christie Barlow – Primrose Park who introduces us to more people in this village and some wonderful animals too. Another place to escape to if you feel you need that.

Back down to the Cotswolds as I go back to a village I have visited before, this time I am with newcomer Hannah who decides to restart her life in Rachael Lucas – The Village Green Bookshop. Some tough subjects dealt with tact and truth and brought to life by this author with such skill.

The only trouble with reading books from authors you have read before and part of the series means you never have that thrill of devouring them one after the other and immersing yourself amongst them. When you are all caught up, you simply have to wait until the next one appears.

It is such joy when it does and I get to go back to Dartmouth and back in history with Helena Dixon – Murder at Elm House, Kitty and her beau are still caught up in some mysteries and murders and it seems we are no nearer to finding out about poor Kitty’s mother. Which means I am now patiently waiting for the next one….

I don’t have to wait with the Murder Most Unladylike novels as I have few more of these to read before I have caught up with the complete set, the latest read being Robin Stevens – Creams Buns and Crime. Despite being for children, these really indulge my love of Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton’s school stories and I think are great starting point for some young readers wanting to branch out a bit.

In world full of fake news, of accusations about who said what to whom and how they were treated by the parents flit backwards and forwards across the Atlantic, it is a perfect way to escape it all between the pages of the book. However this latest, Marika Cobbold – On Hampstead Heath takes this and shows us the people that we have perhaps become and the way we need this news at the same time showing you the people who are trying to control it all. A book which challenged me and left me feeling better for being challenged.

As we go to June, I know regular followers of my blog with be well aware of Six in Six and I will be bringing that back for 2021. Do look out for the information posts in the coming days and spread the word to those who might want to join in our small select group!

Books

Primrose Park – Christie Barlow

It is always great when you get an author who love reading and the y create a place and a set of characters you can return to time and time again. And so that is the case with Primrose Park for our sixth visit to the wonderful village of Heartcross and the surrounding area.

Vet, Molly has one main focus in her life, her career, she has worked hard to get where she has considering her past and she is always looking to develop her skills when it comes to animals. When the chance to learn more about dog behaviour she finds herself at a conference in a hotel.

What she doesn’t expect is to run head long into a handsome man called Cam and be holding his boxers within minutes of meeting him. The attraction is clear and sparks are almost flying off the page. Abandoning dog behaviour for one night is not all that bad – is it? But the next morning Cam is gone.

For the next few months Molly is distracted by the man that made her heart stop and she knows there must be more to find out, but then how does she find him when she knows nothing but his name and occupation. So life continues, but Molly is in for one or two surprises in the coming months.

Playing on her goodwill, Molly finds herself stuck with Darling the dog, after Birdie says her mother Dixie can no longer cope with her. So she has enough to keep her busy until she meets that man again in Primrose Park…..

All of a sudden Molly is in turmoil again and she turns to her friends and familiar faces to readers if you have read all the previous novels, (This works as a standalone) help her come to terms with Cam returning. Does Molly have time to become involved with this man, especially as he seems to have some connection to the village, to Birdie, Dixie and even Darling the dog.

Christie Barlow has done it again with a book full of warmth and community and adds in for good measure some tough drama as well. It is certainly not all light and fluffy. I loved Molly she simply jumped off the page and her relationship with her female friends was genuine and strong and nothing in the book felt forced. The tough subjects were shocking but it is always good to be reminded that not everyone in the world is nice but you don’t have to worry when the community of Heartcross pull together then make sure everyone benefits from all of the good that they can do.

One of the best of the series so far and I am delighted that there are at least a couple more to come, I love going back and visiting my friends. If you are looking for a series to get lost in, I highly recommend this one.

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

Primrose Park is out now.

Books

The Village Green Bookshop – Rachael Lucas

Hannah is fed up with being a wife and a mother, what is she doing with her life other than those two things?

When a chance to take over from her cousin in the village shop a little Cotswold Village she jumps at the opportunity to take control and do something to help her son, Ben who has fallen in with the wrong sort and perhaps restart her marriage with her husband.

Trouble is her husband seems reluctant but when her son recognises one of the residents as ex footballer Jake Lovatt, also a newcomer and that he is also coaching the local side, he can’t see that much wrong with this village where nothing goes on. Her husband will follow them both later.

But of course with any village story, there is lots going on. Resident stalwart Helen, self appointed head of everything to do with the village welcomes Hannah and likes the idea of expanding the shop to include a bookshop for all of the residents. Nicola is desperate for a baby and becomes friends with Hannah, as she encourages her to help with the new bookshop to take her mind off things.

Hannah and Jake are the main protagonists in this story and it is clear to see that there is a spark between them, but Hannah is married and Jake appears to have been seen with a mystery woman in his new home. Of course nothing is as it seems to both of these people and when events take a turn they find themselves thrown together and look to each other for support.

This is a story of starting again and realising that perhaps you never have really stated living because you made one choice and accepted it. This book deals with some tough subjects, the coercive controlling relationship, troublesome teenagers, dealing with being famous and marriage problems. Of course there is a happy ever after, but that is what you wanted in this delightful book set in such a picturesque place and where I want to browse the shelves of the Village Green Bookshop at my leisure.

If you are a fan of Rachael Lucas, you will recognise the setting and some of the characters as they feature in a previous novel, The Telephone Box Library but this book can be read quite easily as a standalone. My one hope is that I get to go back to this village again as I am sure it has more stories to tell.

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

The Village Green Bookshop is published on the 27 May.

Books

The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club – Faith Hogan

Taken to the West Coast of Ireland in this novel has allowed me to swept away with the story and also out to sea, with the ladies of the midnight swimming club. By the end of the novel I hope more would have embraced the notion of walking into the Irish Sea and allowing the water, the waves and the peace to envelope them and heal them.

For the three main characters in this book, it is what brings them together at very different points in their life.

Elizabeth, recently widowed from the local GP, she finds that whilst she was keeping one of the secrets of her husband for her entire married life, he had a few more and this has resulted in her looking at her future from a penniless point of view.

Jo has been enjoying her dips in the sea for a long time and has encouraged her long standing friend Elizabeth to try it. Elizabeth is rightly distracted and Jo thinks she might have the answer to some of her problems; her own daughter Lucy.

Lucy burnt out as a A & E doctor in Dublin, working nights because it fits in, now her husband has left her and moved to the other side of the world. With a teenage son permanently attached to his computer gaming ,she thinks a change of scene will do them both some good, so she answers her mother’s request.

As Lucy arrives back to the village and things move forward for both Elizabeth and Lucy, it seems that it is now Jo’s turn to need their help. As the news affects them all, a strength of character drives them to bring all the women from the village and beyond to raise money for the local hospice together for a dip in the sea.

I enjoyed this tale of women’s strength and support played out in many different ways, whether it was the simple action of letting someone find their path in life or holding their hand as they embraced another life. A great tale of women’s friendship that warmed the heart and reminded me why friendships like that are so needed. As someone who embraces the outside swimming, I could relate to the peace it can give as it somehow grounds you and washes away that moment of stress.

If you want a book full of friendship and faith then this is the book which will warm your heart, even in the coldest water!

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

The Ladies’ Midnight Swimming Club is out now.

Books

The Wife Who Got A Life – Tracy Bloom

Cathy is a mum, a wife, a daughter and a sister but she doesn’t seem to be Cathy anymore. So she decides she needs to change her life and change it now.

When her husband makes the decision that he wants to change his career from management consultant to teacher thinking he has something to share with them all, Cathy is horrified.

So if she wants to change herself she needs to make sure everyone around her changes as well – not only is Cathy going to get a life so is her whole family. With some rather hilarious motivation goals for achievement, we go through as Cathy finds herself a cook. She isn’t much of a cook and for everyone to survive she needs someone else to do the cooking.

Cathy finds herself with a few new book-keeping clients and with her mum approach to some of these new start ups, she gets the acknowledgment she has perhaps been missing all of her life.

Showing her daughter, Kirsty what first love was all about and her son Freddie, what would happen if he didn’t do well were other achievements she could tick off her list. If someone could have told her you don’t need to have periods anymore years earlier then I think she might have achieved more. Her relationships with her sisters, mainly conducted over various named WhatsApp groups made me chuckle as they decide between them who should be buying the toilet roll for their parents!

I found this book very humorous but it did come across simply as someone who changed their life and in some cases some of those around them as well. It did not have a beginning, middle or end which linked. It was like a snapshot out of a year of Cathy’s life, what any diary would be I suppose. Perhaps because I am neither, wife, mother or sister I could not relate to it as much as some readers? However it was a great diversion from some of the bleakness of late and if you want a funny read then it will tick that off the list for you!

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

The Wife Who Got a Life is out now.