A Cornish Christmas – Lily Graham

There is nothing like being thrown in at the deep end when it comes to getting to know characters and books. This is one of those books, it drew me straight in. I loved the setting, the characters and even the magic realism I could manage as it all formed part of the story.

Ivy and Stuart have moved to Sea Cottage in Cloudsea, a village in Cornwall. They are following their dreams and even more so now that it looks like the dream is about to become a reality with Ivy expecting a much longed for baby. The pain of them getting to this point, is dealt with beautifully and my heart went out to them both.

At such a changing time Ivy is understandably missing her mother, who has passed away. However, when she moves her mothers old desk into her own study for her illustrating that Ivy does it seems that suddenly her mother is much closer than she first thought and she can answer some of the questions that Ivy wants to ask.

Stuart has taken to country life much more than his mother would like and whilst he seems to have a rather interesting take on flavours of jam (Turnip?!) he is also keeping a secret from Ivy. However, Stuart’s mother is determined to make everyone see sense and the perfect place to be is back in London, just round the corner from her where all help can be provided and every need catered for.

She was depicted as the Mother in Law from hell, so claustrophobic, but ultimately at the heart of manner was the fact that she cared, deeply for Stuart and for Ivy.

However the halcyon life that they are creating in Cornwall is not without its difficulties and even Ivy’s mother is telling her that she needs to be strong, stronger than she has ever done before. It seems that Ivy might need to answer some of her own questions without any help or guidance.

This is a lovely read, it drew me right in and I cared about everyone, even annoying mother-in-laws! You do need tissues, because I didn’t see some parts of the story coming. But when they did, they really shook me up as a reader. The sign of a good writer. Yes it is a Christmas book but actually that doesn’t really matter that much, the strength of the characters and the setting make it more about them than the time of year! If you want a lovely Christmas read then this book will work its magic just like it did for Ivy.

I would love to go back and see how they are all getting on.

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

A Cornish Christmas is out on 30th September. 


Blog Tour – Cath Staincliffe


I am the last stop on the Cath Staincliffe tour of The Silence Between Breaths. My review of the book will be up then, but feel free to stop by some of the other blogs before then if you want to find out all about the book.

If you have been following the blog for a while you will know that I have read a few Cath Staincliffe, so perhaps have a read of some of these reviews as well so you can get a feel for the vast variety of work that this author seems to have cascading from her pen.

Dead to Me – Cath Staincliffe

Bleed Like Me – Cath Staincliffe

Split Second – Cath Staincliffe

Half the World Away – Cath Staincliffe

My review will be here on Friday 7th October.


Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky – Holly Martin

Piper has a job that probably everyone envies – she gets to go round the world and review hotels, the very best hotels. However Piper is starting to feel lost and she wants to put some roots down. She says she will do one last assignment and then she wants a break for six months.

Her latest place to visit is Juniper Island and the Stardust Lake Hotel and she gets to stay there for Christmas. Arriving early by small plane and welcomed so warmly, she thinks that it will not be so bad to be spending Christmas alone.

That is until she discovers the owner of the hotel. Gabe Whitaker. The man she has only ever loved and one that broke her heart when she needed him the most.

Gabe remembers Piper, instantly and he has never understood what happened all those years ago. Perhaps being together on a magical island at such a magical time might heal the past for them both to move on.

There are of course complications, Piper’s hotel room is not ready, no one knows why she is really at the hotel, and she suffers from nightmares reliving something from her past. Gabe now has a small daughter, Wren who has fallen in love with Piper instantly and in childish innocence wants a mum for Christmas. All of Gabe’s family are involved in his venture at Stardustst Lake Hotel and they all remember Piper too…….

This is a wonderfully descriptive book, and I really felt I was on Juniper Island and staying at the hotel without getting wet and cold from all that snow! In fact Martin brings it so much to life, it was like reading a holiday brochure. Of course the storyline is the important thing but it needs the background of the magical place to show Gabe and Piper what life is like and that the past can be healed and everyone can move on, once the truth is learnt.

There are ups and downs to face with the hotel and of course Piper has omitted to tell them one small fact about herself…….she is really their to review the hotel……

I wanted to stay at Juniper Island and find out what happens, and most of all I was adorably in love with little Wren and her innocent ways which would melt the heart of the hardest of people!

A perfect Christmas read.

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

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky is out on 22 September.

There is going to be another book as well Christmas Under a Starlit Sky is out in October and I cannot wait! 



The Perfect Gift – Emma Hannigan

Roisin was adopted. She has known this from an early age, her adoptive parents Doug and Keeley loved her just as much as their own daughter, Liv who appeared three years later. Every year Roisin receives a birthday card from her birth mother but as she turns 30, instead of the normal card a letter turns up as well. The letter makes Roisin take stock of where she is,but it also has an effect on her mother Keeley and sister Liv.

Roisin is succeeding, but it seems that there is something round the corner, that is going to put a stop to that and she will need to embrace all these changes if she is to get the life she wants.

Keeley, is doing everything, running her B&B, looking after her grandchildren, baking, organising, whilst her newly retired husband Doug thinks he can spend his time fishing and being anywhere but at home. When a guest at the B&B recognises Keeley for than just a wife and a mother she begins to wonder if perhaps it is time to do something for herself.

Liv has reached breaking point and she cannot manage having a husband working away, two children and maintain a home. She thinks she can emulate her mother’s success with a her own B&B but it does not go to plan. I felt for Liv, her slow decline was quite painful to watch and my heart went out to her

Nell is a recluse, a lighthouse keeper who hardly has any contact with anyone apart from the chatterbox that is her cleaner, Mo. When a young runaway seeks sanctuary at the lighthouse, Nell realises that she been hiding from the past and perhaps this young runaway, Mouse is the key to acknowledging the past and stop hiding.

This is a lovely story, which deals with some real issues, does so in a light way but not at any time detracting from the serious issues raised. The book is full of secrets and pasts which are shared, forgiven and strengthen relationships and friendships without question.

A delightful example of Emma Hannigan’s work.

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

A Perfect Gift is out now. 



The Plumberry School of Comfort Food – Cathy Bramley

This book was originally published as four short novellas, but I chose to wait to devour the book in one go, because I knew I would get frustrated in reading up to a certain point and not being able to carry on.

That is one of the reasons I am wary of this current way of marketing and selling books. I am so glad I waited in this case, especially as I know what I was going to get from the author which was a cracking good read.

Apart from cooking the best fish finger sandwich there is, Verity is no longer interested in cooking anything anymore since the loss of her best friend, Mimi. Verity is still in touch with Mimi’s husband, Gabe, and godson Noah. As well as Mimi’s mother, Gloria who helped the young girls in their cooking all those years ago when they pretended to be tv chefs on-screen.

When Verity loses her job and her man in quick succession,the two things intrinsically linked she seeks comfort. That comfort comes in the form of Gloria who using her knowledge of cooking and her past experience along with the bubbly and blunt Liverpudlian friend Mags is creating a cookery school in Plumberry.

She needs some help running it and Verity has nothing to do……..

Verity has to face her fear of having lived on ‘ping’ meals for the last few years and embrace the importance of cooking and how much of a comfort it can be. However the new Michelin star chef, Tom has other ideas about food and what the school should provide and it is very far from comforting. Before the doors have even opened it looks like there is going to be conflict.

Verity is a long way from home and from her friends as well as Gabe and Noah but she starts to fit in at Plumberry and make new friends. Even Tom has relented in some ways to the ideas that Verity has to make this a cookery school to stand out from others.

Tragedy strikes right in the middle of the first weeks after the grand opening. It seems that the only person who can keep everything going is Verity, but can she possibly continue when she has all these conflicting feelings and secrets which it turns out are perhaps not as secret as she first thought.

This was a story with many depths and layers and kept me entranced as I really was with these characters and I so wanted to take part in a course at the school or at least work there as Verity liked organising and I could so relate to that! I had my suspicions about what kept all so close and my heart really broke in two when you could see the results of decisions made in the past.

But for Verity it is the decisions in the present that she has to face if she is going to make her own comfort in Plumberry.

Drawn straight into the plot, the scenery and the characters readers are taken on a rollercoaster through the 400 plus pages of story. Fantastic escapism and a strong book which stands out from the crowd.

My test on how good these books are – do I want there to be a sequel, do I want to go back and find out more? The answer is definitely yes!




The Last Will & Testament of Daphne Le Marche – Kate Forster

Daphne has a skill with making beauty products, when a chance takes her to Paris in the mid 1950s, a young village girls dream becomes a reality and her dreams becomes reality.

Sixty years later and everyone knows the name Daphne Le Marche, through the products she has created as well as the actions and affairs of her children and grandchildren.

With her time now at an end Daphne is determined to bring a fractured family together and surprises everyone with her last will and testament. No one could have predicted what her last requests would have been especially her family.

From the corners of the globe, cousins, mothers, daughters and fathers are thrown together to continue the Le Marche name and brand. Will the future be able to hold onto the past or will they be able to build on it and move forward.

This is a story of how family secrets can destroy a family as well as bring them together. Forster has created some characters that you want to get behind and hope they get their happy ending, like Camille and Billie. But with balance she creates, obnoxious pig-headed arrogance in Robert who I could happily have strangled. Others may have had more patience than me.

I particularly liked the dual narrative in this book, when we taken to Paris in the 1950s as events unfolded in the present day, we were slowly filled in on the past of Daphne Le Marche and what made her the formidable woman that she was right up to the last will that she wrote.

A lovely example of Kate Forster’s writing which draws you with the characters and the story, the only small confusion I had was struggling to pin down where the modern-day story was taking place, it seemed to flit between too many places within a few pages. However, the characters kept you reading.

An engaging read.

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

The Last Will and Testament of Daphne Le Marche is out on 8th September. 

Catch up on my reviews for Kate Forster’s other novels

The Perfect Christmas

The Perfect Retreat




Christmas at the Little Village Bakery – Tilly Tennant

I am back in Honeybourne and I am glad as I was desperate to know what was happening to the characters I fell in love with in the first book The Little Village Bakery.

Christmas is just round the corner, and Millie seems to have settled into life in this little village along with Dylan and a couple of new additions to the bakery since the last book as well.

Jasmine and Rich are still very much together, and whilst this book does not focus on them very much, they are there in the background and it seems that perhaps everything is not as rosy as it seems Spencer and his girlfriend, Tori are the main characters this time round. Spencer having been in America comes back to his home village to spend Christmas not just with Tori but with his parents and hers. The meeting of families which is bound to be doomed from the start when we realise that Tori’s parents are not exactly enamoured of Spencer.

They will be less when they arrive in this snowy country village.

Like her previous novel, this is a very character driven story and it draws you in and holds your attention, without it all being light and fluffy. In fact there were some darker moments and conflicts that were perhaps once buried in the past, coming screaming into the present.

Added to that the bonus, of it being winter, it has snowed and the world outside the goings on in this village is gloriously painted in white. The village come together, in fact everyone comes together as is expected in these types of books, especially when you add being snowed in, Christmas and difficult in-laws to the mix!

A lovely Christmas read (though it worked just as well – reading it in August!) and it was great to catch up with the folk of Honeybourne, I just hope there is more to follow, that village has plenty more stories to tell I am sure.

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

Christmas at the Little Village Bakery is out on 16 Sep on Kindle. 



The Storm Sister – Lucinda Riley

This is the second in a series of seven novels by one of my most favourite authors Lucinda Riley.

This book is dedicated to the second eldest sister, Ally. Like all her other siblings she was adopted by the man they came to call Pa Salt and were brought up in Geneva, in a place called Atlantis.

Very little else is revealed about Pa Salt at the beginning of this novel, and although Ally makes a discovery in regards to his yacht very early on, it is very much her story throughout. What Ally witnesses has stayed with me and forms part of an ongoing mystery of Pa Salt, I have my ideas but I want to see what comes out from the rest of the novels.

The book opens with setting the scene of what Ally is like, her passion for sailing and the man she falls deeply in love with. Immediately we are in the warm waters of Greece, the sun beating down. Out at sea, floating with not a care of what is going on anywhere else but in that moment.

When the tragic news comes through to Ally, she gathers at the family home where she learns, as do her sisters all about her past. That is if she wants to know about it.

Armed with the Greek quote “In moments of weakness, you will find your greatest strength” , translated by her older sister Maia and the coordinates left on the armillary sphere along with a book about a music composer, Ally takes all the information she has and leaves Atlantis to go back to her passions.

Tragedy strikes very quickly again for Ally and she feels she has nothing left in the world, so it makes sense to perhaps find out her true heritage, one that is going to take her far from the warm Greek seas to the bleakness of Norway.

Ally is transported back to a time to the story of Anna and Jens, from their humble beginnings, to their exposure on the stage in the first ever production of Peer Gynt. The world of music, of Grieg and Ibsen and the romance that was bound to be troubled from the very start. Whilst we have a dual narrative between Ally and Anna, we are taken on a much longer journey. We go through the generations of those related to Anna and Jens and we learn more about them and how the actions of Anna and Jens are still resonating years later. Many years later.

As we learn, Ally does too and when she meets Thom it seems that all of the pieces of her past jigsaw are finally slotting into place. However, there is a strength she finds from the tragedy she has suffered, one that I confess I to have guessed, but was thrilled by the secret of knowing when Ally didn’t.

Embarking on a series of books with a theme running through them all must be daunting and there is often criticism of the second book being slightly lack lustre. This book does not fit into this stereotype. I loved the first, where I learnt so much about Rio, Paris both in present day and in the past. Now I am learning about sailing, about Norway, about music and as in both of the novels about love, loss and pursuing a dream.

It was lovely to know that as Ally was on her journey, we had more interaction with Maia from the first book, you knew she was settling into the choices she made. There were clues about what sort of journey perhaps Star is going to face and I simply cannot wait (though I am going to have to) to find out more about these sisters, as in this book for me, more of their personalities were coming out and they intrigue me and frustrate me in equal measure.

If you want to get lost in not just a character driven series of novels but also ones that take you back to another time where you learn so much then these are certainly the books for you. Something I did take away from the book was the choice of Peer Gynt. It meant I had to go and find the music that was being constantly referred to. Of course I knew the music, but ignorantly I did not know the name. What a wonderful piece of music which I have listened to countless times since picking up this book. Suddenly hearing the piece of music makes the story so much more alive for me.

The Storm Sister is an excellent read and I recommend it, even if I am slightly biased in Lucinda Riley being a favourite of mine!

Thank you to the publisher for a copy of this book. The Storm Sister is out now. 

The third book in this series of seven The Shadow Sister is out in November 2016. 

Books · Jottings

August Roundup

August is always a bumper month of reading due to the amount of time I have off work and August 2016 is no exception.

Looking back I seem to have stuck to a particular genre of reading, I think that is mainly because I needed comfort from my reading and you get that from familiar authors and known tales. Lucinda Riley – The Storm Sister, the second in this planned series of seven books was published last year, it has taken me that long to get round to reading it. Not because I didn’t want to read the book, but I was almost frightened of reading it because I knew I would then have to wait for the next one. Ironically I have the third waiting and I do not think I will wait so long to read it this time. I really want to know more about the story.

Reading a series of books one after the other, must be like binge watching box sets. Which is the reason I followed Gervase Phinn – The School Inspector Calls with the fourth book Gervase Phinn – A Lesson in Love. I adore school tales, I love village tales and anything with Yorkshire humour in it is going to be a winner. These books have it all in abundance. Thinking that A Lesson in Love was to be the last, it turns out another books is winging its way out in October. I have preordered it already. Another book I cannot wait to read.

Working my way through some of the books that I challenged myself to read on my Random Reads I picked up Marian Keyes – The Brightest Star in the Sky. Not the strongest of Keyes novels for me and could have easily been better if it had been a couple of hundred pages shorter. Nonetheless I read it and it was passable, which is probably the reason I have not reviewed it. I am sticking to my not reviewing every book I read, and it is rather refreshing to read, close the book and pass it on.

I am also becoming more freeing in giving up books that are not doing it for me. (Perhaps I should have done that for the Marian Keyes one?) This was even more freeing because it was a book I had requested on netgalley. Rowan Coleman – The Happy Home for Broken Hearts. The blurb sounded good enough to intrigue me. Unfortunately the characters and the plot left a lot to be desired and I could not get drawn into the book at all. I put it down and honestly said on my netgalley review that the book was not for me. Get me!

Talking of not reviewing, Minna Howard – Mothers and Daughters was another passable book which was brought to my attention through Twitter, as being free on Amazon. It seemed my sort of book. It was but nothing to write home about and I am glad I did not pay for it.

Of the remaining books that I have read in August, I only paid for one of them. Netgalley is a blessing and a curse all wrapped into one. However I am lucky to have read a few books which I have reviewed and they will be coming out on this blog over the coming weeks. Including Kate Forster – The Last Will and Testament of Daphne Le Marche, an author I have enjoyed in the past and this time was no exception.

Lily Graham – A Cornish Christmas, Holly Martin – Christmas under a Cranberry Sky, Christie Barlow – Lizzie’s Christmas Escape, Tilly Tennant – Christmas at The Little Village Bakery reviews are coming up in the build up to the festive season. I have no idea why I have read that many Christmas based novels in August, but they were all rather good reads!

Back with authors that netgalley has introduced me to meant as soon as I spotted Helen Pollard – Return to the Little French Guesthouse I knew I wanted to read it. Back to the French countryside for the sun, the wine and the happenings in that little guesthouse.

I am pretty much up to date on reading all of Trisha Ashley’s novels, I think there are a couple of back catalogue ones that I have missed so far. Trisha Ashley – A Leap of Faith is a reissue of a previous novel An Urge to Jump and whilst not one of Trisha’s strongest, it made for an amusing read.

So far all of Cathy Bramley’s novels have been excellent and her latest Cathy Bramley – The Plumberry School of Comfort Food was brilliant and I know I am doing the right thing by waiting until they come out as a whole novels as opposed to novellas. It is a great way to read a story but when they are this good you need to devour them in one sitting.

Cath Staincliffe – A Silence Between Breaths is the only book of the month that cannot possibly fit into any of the genres of the others I have read. It was a breathaking read, that had me going back for one last chapter until I reached the conclusion. Having read Staincliffe’s work before I knew what I was getting, when I opened the first page. This book was a book that made you think, made you question and made you hold your breath. I am part of the upcoming blog tour for this novel so there will certainly be more about the book and the author on this blog very soon.

Phew! That was August, I have retreated to familiar as the month ends with dear Flavia and her latest adventures. It seems to me to be a year of sticking with what you know and going back to old favourites. Time to reflect perhaps and I have been doing a lot of that in recent weeks.

How was your August?