One Hot Summer – Kat French

Alice has everything some girls dream of – even the famous actor husband. But this lifestyle does not always live up to the dream.

Especially when the dream very publicly comes crashing down. Cliche though it may be, actor husband and gorgeous co-star embark on a public course of action.

Alice is left devastated, fragile and in a precarious financial position especially as she wants to hold onto the only constant she seems to have her home – Borne Manor.

To save the manor, stop her husband getting it initially and make some money she rents it out, whilst moving to live in the caravan further down the field from the house. Alice does not envisage a cowboy coming to live there. a very good-looking cowboy too.

Apparently everyone knows this cowboy, country music star Robinson Duff apart from Alice. She did not think she would suddenly be affected by the celebrity lifestyle so soon after her marriage break up.

Robinson though does not want to be seen, he wants to hide from his own celebrity and just like Alice seems to be nursing a broken heart and a failure to be able to perform.

As the summer heats up at Borne Manor, Alice and Robinson are drawn to each other and a holiday romance is in the offing. But when the heat breaks and the weather changes will everything change as well?

This is a strong summer read, which captured the essence of being a celebrity and how it is all a facade and how much the press are involved in what happens to people’s lives. The main characters are well drawn and you can feel the fragility of both Alice and Robinson as well as their inner strength.

Even the secondary characters who provide some light relief and humour to the book are still characters you care about and want to see get their own happy ending.

This is the second Kat French book I have read, the first Undertaking Love I enjoyed but I felt it was not what I would call a strong chick-lit novel. This book shows how the author has perhaps learnt and grown in their writing. It does not have that light and fluffy tone which books of this genre can sadly fall into. There is a lot of depth and for me I had to keep turning the page. A sure-fire winner in my opinion.

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

One Hot Summer is out now.


The Little Village Bakery – Tilly Tennant

I love village stories, the community feel that I can simply spy on and watch as all these wonderful characters interact with each other, the lives they lead are always or nearly always far more interesting than watching soap operas on television and the dynamic of people fascinates me. Add into the mix the mysterious stranger from out-of-town, a bit of romance and some scheme to save something dear to the village and you have me hooked.

The Little Village Bakery, ticks all those boxes and more. Millie has moved to the village Honeybourne, she is obviously escaping something and plows all her money and life into bringing back the Old Village Bakery. She wants to expand her loved hobby of making cakes into making cakes for a business, her own.

However, the ghosts of her past are never far behind and perhaps Millie will have to escape again.

Jasmine and Rich seem to be the village’s golden couple and have no need to work at their marriage, with their adorable triplets and Dylan, Jasmine’s brother who seems to be breaking hearts all over the village and beyond.  This family is very much apart of the village. Jasmine and Rich have a very happy marriage, but when an opportunity looks like it is going wrong and a past confession comes back to threaten their stability, it looks like Jasmine and Rich might need to work even harder.

Jasmine offers help and friendship to Millie when she arrives in Honeybourne, as does Dylan but it seems his idea of help might be slightly different.

Can they help bring the bakery back to life? Will Millie be able to stay in Honeybourne?

Tilly Tennant has written a strong novel, I wondered for pages and pages what Millie was running away from and when the truth is revealed it was not what I was expecting. Which made me enjoy the book more, it did not have the predictability that sometimes women’s fiction/chick lit can have.

I am glad that it seems to be the first in a series of books set in Honeybourne, because I want to go back to the village soon. This is the first book I have read from Tilly Tennant and I can honestly say it was delightful.

My only criticism is the tagline on the front of the cover – ‘A feel good romantic comedy with plenty of cake’ I agree with the former statement but not the latter, there is no mouth-watering descriptions of cake, which you would probably expect from a book about a bakery – this was a book with a very strong dominance of character and for me that worked better. You will have to provide your own cake when reading this!

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. The Little Village Bakery is published on 15 June. 

Books · Jottings

Six in Six – 2016 Edition

So I have brought it back for a fifth year – the meme that if you only do one in the year, then this is the one to do. It’s normally the meme I can only manage to do.

When did all this begin?

I started it in 2012, gave it another go in 2013 and went into 2014, then on into 2015. Lots of you have been with me since the beginning.

What is it all about?

The idea being that as the end of June approaches and we are then halfway through the year,  let us share the books we have read in those first 6 months. In fact let’s share 6 books in 6 categories, or if time is of the essence then simply share just 6 books. Whatever combination works for you as long as it involves 6 books. Of course the same book can obviously feature in more than one category.

What categories can I choose from?

  • Six new authors to me
  • Six authors I have read before
  • Six authors I am looking forward to reading more of
  • Six books I have enjoyed the most
  • Six books I was disappointed with
  • Six series of books read or started
  • Six authors I read last year – but not so far this year
  • Six books that took me on extraordinary journeys
  • Six books that took me by the hand and led me into the past
  • Six books from the past that drew me back there
  • Six books from authors I know will never let me down
  • Six books I must mention that don’t fit nicely into any category
  • Six books I started in the first six months of the year and was still caught up with in July
  • Six trips to Europe
  • Six blogging events I enjoyed
  • Six bookish things I’m looking forward to
  • Six Espionage or Historical Novels I enjoyed
  • Six Cool Classics
  • Six Non-US/Non-British Authors
  • Six From the Non-Fiction Shelf
  • Six books that didn’t live up to expectations
  • Six books that I had one or two problems with but am still glad I tried
  • Six books that are related to The Great War or Second World War
  • Six bookshops I have visited
  • Six books I’ve read in an English translation
  • Six books which are better than the film
  • Six books which are worse than the film
  • Six books that have sport as their major theme
  • Six favourite places to read book
  • Six books read on kindle and then went and bought an actual copy
  • Six books I abandoned
  • Six classics I have read
  • Six books I have read on my Kindle
  • Six physical books I have read.

I have added a few new ones this year.

Or you can come up with your own category,  (If you do: please comment and I can add them to this list for future years)

What do I need to post?

Simply choose six of the categories above and list six books under that category. Some bloggers use pictures, some put excerpts of reviews. The main thing being it is six categories and six books. Of course if you want to do a shorter version, then just post something about six books you have read in the first six months of 2016.

Please link back to this post and/or my blog and share this post so we can have lots of people joining in. All those that participate I will endeavour to collate into one post.

When do I post?

Anytime in July. We have still a few reading days left of June and that book might well fit nicely into one of the categories.




How to Find Love in a Bookshop – Veronica Henry

Any novel that has a bookshop as part of the overall plot is a winner for me, even before I have started reading. Added to that is one of my favourite authors in Veronica Henry and I know that I am onto a good enjoyable read.

Nightingale Books is a bookshop in a Cotswold Town. It is a place where when you enter you can escape for such a long time, a refuge for all those true book lovers.

It is owned by Julius Nightingale, who made the decision to set up this bookshop when he found himself a single father to a small child in the 1980s.

Some thirty years later Emilia returns to her childhood home in tragic circumstances and tries to keep a promise to her father. Dealing with emotions whilst trying to work out what to do, as developers try and make the decision for her.

The customers are unique and quirky and all have their story to tell. Sarah Basildon came into the bookshop for books but left with something important, Jackson is trying to help connect with his son but has an ulterior motive, cookery books help Thomasina but not when it comes to love and Bea finds herself committing a crime she never thought she could.

With various storylines going on, they are all pulled together through the bookshop. All of the characters were either likeable or disagreeable that I had to keep reading to make sure they all made the right decisions. I knew Veronica Henry would take us to the right conclusion, but it was a bit touch and go and I did wonder a couple of times. The sign of a good writer – she had me hooked and I cared about these people.

A feel good read and it would be good to go back and read some more about Nightingale Books and their characters in the future.

Now…… how do I find love in a bookshop?

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

How to Find Love in a Bookshop is out on June 16th.


The Unseen – Katherine Webb

This is the second Katherine Webb that I have read and has been languishing on my shelf for a while. I felt it was time to read it as it was chosen as one of my challenging reads for this year.

This is a dual narrative book, which is something which I enjoy immensely. Set in 2011 and hundred years previously in 1911.

In the present, Leah is asked to discover who a body might possibly be discovered near Ypres clearly from the First World War. No other identification on the man other than two very intriguing letters. Written by a H Canning.

Hester is married to Arthur Canning, local vicar of Cold Ash Holt. They have a new member of staff in their house, recently released from prison, Cat. Although Hester knows the reason behind Cat’s imprisonment she does not want anyone else to know. Sadly though, the strong-willed behaviour of Cat and the continual hacking cough, make many start to wonder?

Everything should be rosy for Hester and Arthur. Expect something is missing in this marriage and her husbands, obsession with nature and his odd beliefs start to bother Hester. When a fellow enthusiast is invited to the house to stay with Arthur and Hester it seems this obsession is going to turn to murder.

This is not a surprise, the book cover is quite clear this is what is going to happen. However you have no idea exactly when this is going to occur, why and by whom. It is a guessing game throughout the story and is parallel to the discoveries that Leah is trying to make in the present section of the novel.

I enjoy Webb’s writing, she manages to weave a story full of mystery and cynicism and if you have any prior knowledge of the story of the Cottingley Fairies. But whilst the similarities and parallels to this are throughout the book I was pleased to see how something so powerful as suffragism and the treatment of suffragettes was brought straight off the page and made the idea of fairies seem a fanciful one.

An enjoyable and compelling read.


Amy Snow – Tracy Rees

No one knows who Amy Snow is, where she came from or what her true name is. She was named Amy by Aurelia Vennaway who found her in the snow one January at Hatville Court. 

Unfortunately her start in life is not one of warmth and kindness. She is hated by the owners of Hatville Court and the kitchen staff who are tasked with looking after her find her an additional nuisance to deal with. She is neither servant nor companion, employee or friend. Amy Snow exists to no one at Hatville. 

Aurelia though has other ideas and is very strong-willed against her parents and Amy becomes embraced in Aurelia’s life.

Aurelia has a very different outlook on the way her life is to go and whilst it seems that the newly crowned Queen Victoria can choose her man for love, Aurelia cannot according to her parents. Amy is surplus to requirements and feels bereft,  but there is more grief to endure when it turns out Amy is ill and her life is to be cut short.

Amy becomes her companion and upon her Aurelia’s death she learns of one last gift handed to her as she leaves Hatville Court.

It is this letter that Amy has to decode as she goes on a journey and revisits the paces Aurelia has been, meets people who Aurelia became friendly with and finally works out the secret that has been kept hidden.

Along the way Amy learns about herself and she finds herself in shock and turmoil with some of those she encounters and how very much out her depth and social class she is, despite the frippery and money that she has gathered along the way.

I love books that feature letters as along with Amy I unpick Aurelia’s story and search for the clues and the truth. I had worked out what the secret was, but was still swept along with the journey. I always feel privileged to share such a personal item in novels, it can be used very effectively to tell a story as it is in this book.

Being set in Victorian England, there are obviously going to be comparisons to some other great fiction of the time, Jane Eyre springs to mind, orphan struggle, class position, romance and the search for something. Being the time of Dickens and he is referred to in the novel itself brought with it the descriptions of Victorian life away from the page. The darker places of cities as well as the bright lights of balls, calling cards and receiving guests. The thought of travelling two days to Bath from Twickenham by coach seems unbelievable when it can take mere hours now. All of this is and more is packed into the novel.

At over 500 pages this is a book to sink into and I did not want it to end, I would purposely put the book down even though I wanted to know what happened next, so I could enjoy Amy and ultimately Aurelia’s story for a little bit longer.

For a début novel, this is a good example of historical fiction and it was a complete joy to read.


Summer at the Star and Sixpence – Holly Hepburn

The Star and Sixpence is a pub in Little Monkham a village far away from the bright lights of London where it’s now owners Nessie and Sam come from.

Not only are they trying to run a pub, but they are also having to run the gauntlet of the villagers too. It turns out whatever decisions you are making affect everyone whether you realise it or not!

Then there is their love lives. Nessie is trying to move on and has decided to finalise her marriage split with a divorce so she can perhaps fire her passion for her next door neighbour Owen. Sam on the other hand is about to see her relationship with Joss reach a difficult junction when the past comes back to haunt her and threatens everything she holds dear.

All of this whilst they are trying to organise a wedding for Jojo and Jamie which the whole village will be involved in and invited to. The Star and Sixpence are going to have the couple as their first guests in their renovated rooms on their wedding night.

It is going to take all that Nessie and Sam have got to make sure everything works.

I love village stories, I love the strength that all these people have to come together and welcome people and stand up for their own in the face of adversity. I really enjoyed this book and it was a lovely diversion and summer read.

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

Summer at the Star and Sixpence is out now on kindle.

It was only when I finished the book did I realise that there were others in the series, I was unaware of this at the time of reading, because the author successfully filled in the back story enough that I never thought I was actually missing out on anything.

So I spent a pleasant Saturday afternoon and evening catching up with everything to do with The Star and the Sixpence.

The story first starts in Snowdrops at The Star and Sixpence available to buy now for £1.99 on Amazon

Continues with Valentine’s Day at the Star and Sixpence – free on kindle now!

And then of course there is Summer at the Star and Sixpence.

I am having to wait until 6 September before I catch up with Autumn at the Star and Sixpence

Following that I can spend Christmas with them all too!

Now I am always in two if not three minds when it comes to short stories and novellas, much preferring to read the story as a whole and not having to wait. This is the exception to the rule at the moment, because I was unaware of the series of books. Now I will continue to read them all no matter how short or how long!


May Roundup

Yet again another month has passed and I am a bit adrift from my roundup post. I can only blame life – it has a tendency to get in the way of blogging. I can assure you books are being read, but they are just not being blogged about with much frequency.

May was in the main a month full of lovely heart warming reads. Those that were not were on a very different level.

Marita Conlon-Mckenna – Rebel Sisters was certainly different to the previous books by this author that I have read. It was historical fiction and in an area, the Easter Rising which I knew little about. Fascinating.

I have always enjoyed murder mysteries and have always known of Patricia Wentworth, but had yet to read any of her novels. With the reprint of some of her lesser known ones I picked up Fool Errant. It is not a book I have reviewed in full, mainly because the plot was very complicated and whilst I did enjoy reading it, the thought of actually reviewing it gave me palpitations. Apparently according to my mum who read it at the same time as me, this is nothing like her Miss Silver novels. Those I have yet to read.

Complicated but perfectly plausible with the added bonus of being set in the past Sara Sheridan – British Bulldog is the fourth in the Mirabelle Bevan mysteries, this time we learn a lot more about Mirabelle’s lost love and question whether perhaps Mirabelle knew him at all. I am really looking forward to reading the next one, conveniently already on my kindle thanks to netgalley.

Katherine Webb – The Unseen was one of my challenge books to read in 2016. But it had an added bonus, it was a dual narrative tale which I do enjoy and was set shortly before the First World War and the main focus was ordinary girls who supported suffragism. Some of the scenes were quite graphic and coupled with the innocence of something other worldly, this make for a very contrasting read.

I was more than thrilled to get hold of Alex Brown – The Secret of Orchard Cottage through netgalley and devoured it as soon as I could. Trouble is with doing that, I have to wait an absolute age for the next one! I will never learn.

It is the same when you start a new series of book as well, as was the case of Phillipa Ashley – Summer at the Cornish Cafe. This is the first in a trilogy which I picked simply because of the cover and the setting. I was not disappointed but again I will have to wait.

What I did not have to wait for much was Holly Hepburn – Summer at the Star and Sixpence. Again choosing this to read I did not realise it was part of a selection of other novellas, which I am sure will perhaps make up a whole novel at some point in the future. A nice read. A nicer one when I did not have to leave the characters for too long when I could then go and read Holly Hepburn – Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence and Holly Hepburn – Valentine’s Day at the Star and Sixpence.

Keeping with the theme of May as it seemed for starting or immersing my self in a series of books was Tilly Tennant – The Little Village Bakery, the first book set in the village of Honeybourne. It has everything you could want in a book about a village, and I had to keep reading it. I wonder how long I will have to wait until the next one?

The last book for May was not part of a series, but was by an author I have read before. One Hot Summer – Kat French, again another book where we have a big house, a village, a few local eccentrics, plenty of gossip and even some fame thrown into the mix.

Plenty of nice Summer reads int here to choose from. I wonder where June will take me to make it six months of reading, in theory I should have read 50 books by then…….

Are any of you interested in doing the Six in Six this year?