Books · Jottings

December Roundup

That is it then December 2106 reading complete and the year complete as well. It has been relatively quiet on here in the last couple of months. Whilst I have been around and I have been reading I have had a few bad blogging weeks, I was not feeling the love and nor did I have the time to dedicate to reviewing and posting about the books I have been reading.

I have been reading and a lot of it if the total count for December is anything to go by. I stuck with the Christmas theme which I think I started way back in September!

Liz Fenwick – A Cornish Christmas Carol was a modern take on a classic and it reminded me I have more of Liz Fenwick’s excellent books to catch up with.

I discovered Heidi Swain during the year and when I spotted – Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market I knew I wanted to read it and it would be a cracking book to settle down to at Christmas. I was not disappointed. I must get round to getting her first novel so I am all up to date.

I have read little by Milly Johnson when I go back and look on my Goodreads list, A Winter Flame had been languishing on my shelf for a while and I needed some comfort reading and this was certainly it. Found another author with a fairly good back catalogue to catch up on.

Tilly Tennant is another an author who I discovered in 2016. Once Upon a Winter is the whole book of four shorter stories which interlink and also with a bonus. Not as strong perhaps as her Honeybourne series that I have started, but passable nonetheless.

Now know I say this every time I do it, but I seem to keep falling into series of books. Where the story is released in parts – I blame netgalley on the whole as they are the ones who normally spike my interest. Which is how I got to Sheila Norton – The Vets at Hope Green and read the first of the The Reading Group Series Della Parker – The Reading Group: December. I certainly want to read more from Sheila Norton, but I am not sure about Della Parker. I was not connecting with the characters quick enough to be drawn into their lives. Perhaps I will see what the third book turns out like.

More new authors continued with Penny Parkes – Out of Practice full of doctors, passion and heartache all set in a village. What more could you want?

More great stories! Tracy Rees – Florence Grace was a wonderful story, full of windswept moors, and a society of a long time ago. Historical fiction is something I must read more of.

Jill Mansell – Meet me at Beachcomber Bay takes us back to Cornwall in her new novel. This was a real refreshing read and I felt it was different from some of her previous books I have read.

The last book of 2016 is another new one Paula Daly – The Trophy Child. Was not sure if I was in the mood for a thriller, after reading all this nice cosy fiction. Turns out I was. It kept me hooked and will be one to watch in 2017.

So that is it for 2016. I need to review my year of reading, I need to decide on what my challenges will be for 2017 if any and which way the blog perhaps needs to go.

In the meantime….. Happy New Year.


Florence Grace – Tracy Rees

Florrie Buckley knows she was loved and adored by her mother and her father. Being brought up on the wild moors of Cornwall, she knows the importance of nature. She knows the importance at listening to what the spirits are telling you and where they are guiding you and that perhaps whilst it might not be convention it is the way to lead your life.

That is until Florrie Buckley learns something about her past.

Florrie is in fact related to the ‘Grace’ family and she is in fact the grand-daughter of Hawker Grace who is determined to make sure the Graces are well-known in london society and the people who everyone wants to know and be seen with.

This comes with restrictions. The wild life that Florrie led is cut short.

She is to be Florence, to be in London far away from open spaces, not to walk barefoot through the grass and to be accompanied at all times, with no chance of an independent opinion.

This is a book to escape into, I learnt much about Florence as she fought against her way within the Grace family and the story whilst some might say meanders or is slow is actually building, as you lose yourself completely with what is going to happen to Florence.

I cared little for the Graces and quite frankly thought they were self-centred snobs with no regard for anyone else apart from themselves. Florence by the end teaches them something, but it is too late for some of the Graces. Florence learned to keep her counsel, because she knew that her life was never meant to be in London. Cornwall was calling her back, despite the distractions and attractions that were turning her head.

Set in Victorian England, this book reminded me less of Victorian gothic writers and more of a story which had a Catherine Cookson element to it. Wild barefoot uncontrollable girl, not after a better life, but one is thrust upon her, when all she wants is to be wild and free again. Will that happen?

Historical Romantic fiction if it has to be pigeonholed but a thoroughly good story which left me wanting to read more and reminds me of why I like such genres.

As a second book, sometimes authors can miss the target, especially when you have had a success with the first, Amy Snow and had it endorsed by the likes of Richard and Judy. But actually I think this book far exceeds the first and I loved that one!

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read thi novel. 

Tracy Rees third novel is out in 2017. 


The Last Pearl Fisher of Scotland – Julia Stuart

I have always enjoyed the quirkiness of Julia Stuart’s books, and whilst it is a long time since I have read any, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to read this her latest novel.

Brodie McBride is a pearl fisher, in fact he is the last in Scotland. All his life he has been doing this and collecting perfect pearls to complete a piece of jewellery for his wife.

Once it is complete, he will know that their marriage will survive anything. Until that point, Brodie frets.

But being the last at something, means he has been left behind. And so therefore has his wife Elspeth and their daughter Maggie. All Elspeth wants is to be able to protect her daughter and afford a prosthetic arm for her to make up for what she has had to put up with.

All Maggie wants is to make sure her parents are together. Anything else would not be right. She has to take matters into her own hands.

That is when it all unravels for Brodie.

The author creates another world, which whilst it is based in reality, in time and place and this book certainly is more than her others. There is another “other” world about it. All of the characters are crafted and the interact just as if you were eavesdropping on them.

I felt for Maggie and could see her desperation in what she was trying to achieve, I could see why Elspeth wanted something else and how Brodie seem to have hit rock bottom when he had to stop pearl fishing.

The emotion of the story and the characters draws you right into the plot and it was a book where I was not really sure where it could go, a beauty of Julia Stuart’s writing.

Quirky, funny and emotional all wrapped up between the pages of book.

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



A Cornish Christmas Carol – Liz Fenwick

I think The Christmas Carol, synonymous of Charles Dickens is a well-known story and one that I can read again and again at this time of year. Liz Fenwick has taken the premise, the structure and the approach and given it a Cornish twist in this her short story.

Abigail is avoiding Christmas at all costs, she has done it before she can do it again and she can avoid a Cornish Christmas which were the ones she loved the most when she was a child.

Trouble is the journalist she was sending to Cornwall to cover the carols there is forbidden to fly due to her pregnancy, there is no one else to go apart from Abigail. She has to go.

She has to confront everything she has left behind in her drive to get to the top of her profession, but with this trip to Cornwall she is in fact going back to basics and back to the very beginning and she is going to confront everything that Scrooge had to face.

Will Abigail discover herself again? Or will she drive through everyone and still come out on top?

Within the pages of this short story, the author has you guessing about the past of Abigail, as you try and fit all the pieces together that form herbackground. Anyone that can do that, give you characters to love and hate in equal measure, as well as bring the Cornish countryside to life is on to a winner as a storyteller.

Read this and experience Liz Fenwick’s wonderful storytelling and I also promise it will make you want to go back and read Dickens’ version as well. Always difficult to base a tale on something so well-known but the author pulls it off here with aplomb.

A Cornish Christmas Carol is out now. 




Candlelight at Christmas – Katie Fforde

If you are a fan of Katie’s novels then you may well recognise the characters in this short story, just for Christmas. If you do not recognise the characters, then no matter it means you can then go and catch up on them in one of Katie’s previous novels Recipe for Love, which is exactly what I am going to do!

Fenella is aiming for the perfect Christmas, surrounded by the important people in her life,her close family and friends.

What she was not aiming for was having her critical old-fashioned parents in law and an unexpected power cut to deal with whilst still trying to maintain the facade of a perfect Christmas.

In such a small contained way, Katie has set the scene at Somerby House and given us enough about the characters to feel empathy or absolute frustration with in very few words. That is the key to this authors ability to create such wonderful stories.

If you want Christmas stories but you don’t have time for a chunky paperback to while away the hours then this is the book for you, as is her other Christmas short stories.

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

Available now on kindle with an exclusive extract from her forthcoming 2017 novel too.




A Year 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.

Their story has been told through a number of short stories over the course of 2016 and I came to it in the Summer but the story progressed through Autumn and it finishes as it should I suppose at Christmas.

I caught up with Autumn, where Nessie and Sam are embracing village life and getting into the Bonfire spirit, whilst their own personal fireworks are going off around them.

As Christmas fast approaches, everything is settling down at the pub and it is becoming popular and successful in the village. But for Nessie and Sam it is not all plain sailing.

Nessie has to contend with an ex mother in law and Sam is missing her film star boyfriend.

However this book brings everything together and has a most satisfying ending. I could quite happily read it all again.

All of the novellas, are now available to purchase in one book A Year at the Star and Sixpence from 29th December 2016. Of course if you cannot wait until then, you can purchase them all separately.

I look forward to the next set of books from Holly Hepburn in 2017.


November Roundup

Where to start with my November reading? Probably not as much read as could have been, but birthdays, celebrations, dinners out, christmas decorations seriously cut into the reading time. It also has cut into reviewing and blogging time as well, as you may well have noticed on this blog.

Nonetheless I did manage to read some crackers and some with a Christmas theme, I am getting in early with all the Christmas reading.

I got to finish off the series Holly Hepburn – Christmas at The Star and Sixpence and I am looking forward to seeing what else she comes up with, though I think I still prefer the whole read and not the novella/series/part way. I keep saying that and I still keep going to read books this way!

I revisited The Cornish Cafe with Phillipa Ashley – Christmas at The Cornish Cafe very much a book for the settee with a blanket,tea and mince pies. It is pitched as a trilogy but I am not sure when the final book is going to be out.

More Christmas with Katie Fforde – Candlelight at Christmas. A great short story and always a good way to be introduced to Katie Fforde’s work. It turns out in this novel, they are recurring characters from one of the novels I have not read and so I have to read that as soon as possible!

Now if you were paying attention, you will notice that I go on about preferring to read books in their whole and not in the parts – then what do I do? Start another series Della Parker – The Reading Group: January. Whoops! Clearly with the months, this is a series that could go on a while!

Now for something completely different Julia Stuart – The Last Pearl Fisher of Scotland. I have read most of this author’s work and highly recommend it if you want something really quirky! I only have one to read and that is because I have struggled to get hold of a copy. In this book, whilst it is perhaps not as quirky as previous novels, it has a real depth and focus which is quite heart breaking.

Another quirky novel and one that I struggled with is Mave Fellows – Chaplin and Company. If I struggled why did I not give up on it? I think because it was a beautifully written novel and deserved to be read but it was difficulty in places and I think I may have missed some of the story.

You cannot beat a good murder mystery and if you like such things then I heartily recommend Kate Saunders – The Secrets of Wishtide.  It is really frustrating when you discover what is going to be a series of books and you have only the first one to read – all you want to do is devour all that have been written. I am on the lookout when the next one of these is to be published!

Still reading Christmas stories as the month closes and I am hoping that I will have lots of time to do even more reading!