Books

Annie’s Lovely Choir by the Sea – Liz Eeles

How can you become so irritated by a character that it actually keeps you reading a novel. This was the case when I picked up this novel and started to get to know Annie Trebarwith.

She has no ties at all, no family although she is clearly still very much grieving for her mother, she thinks she is a free spirit and has no need to need to be tied down to anything or anyone.

A letter arrives, inviting her to her family home, to her great-aunt Alice who she never knew existed. With nothing else to do, whilst being between jobs and between men, Annie makes the trip down to Cornwall.

Annie arrives in a place she think as the back of beyond, with no phone signal and certainly no vibrant night life. She arrives into a community. Something Annie has no experience of whatsoever and she finds the thought of it frightening and curious in equal measure.

As the health of her great-aunt is somewhat precarious, Annie decides that she will stay on a bit longer to be able to perhaps help. To keep her occupied, she does in fact embrace community life by becoming involved in the reboot of the local choir. Its past tainted with tragedy.

But as finds out going over past events can sometimes to reveal some skeletons which are perhaps best kept hidden. Annie goes from being a unlikeable character to one that has time to take stock, to reflect and question everything she has been told and what she believes.

Annie finds much more by the sea than an aging aunt and a quiet life.

This is an excellent debut novel and a story which captures you and takes you on a journey. There was some predictability to perhaps one part of the story for me, but that was only a minor part as I was swept away with the weather, the scenery and the music of the choir.

I look forward to returning to hear the choir sing again by the sea.

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


Annie’s Lovely Choir by the Sea is out now. 

 

 

Books

Willow Cottage: Summer Delights – Bella Osborne

Here I am at the final part of the Willow Cottage series. I was hooked from the start and rather impatient to keep reading what was happening next, because of the breaks but at last I can find out what happens to Beth, Leo, Jack, Carly and Fergus.

Things were looking up for the main characters towards the end of the part three, but here we open the conclusion not knowing what is going to happen.

Willow Cottage despite the many teething problems seems to have affected Beth and Leo much more than they thought and it takes Jack to rescue them from it all. But no matter what Jack does, he cannot seem to do it right and it is with heavy heart that Beth puts the cottage on the market.

She is still running away to protect her son, Leo but more importantly herself. Trouble is her friend Carly decides that she wants Beth help in getting married within weeks. Running away now suddenly does not become an option for Beth.

As everything comes together the past rears its ugly head and has some surprising effects on many of the village residents. It is time to make some decisions and take a risk and make some happy ever afters!

This is a lovely escapist novel and with some perhaps surprising turns within the story it still finished with all the ends tied up and lovely heartwarming feeling.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book and finish off the series for me. 

Escape to Willow Cottage which is all four parts together is out in August and the best way to read the book in my opinion. 

You can read reviews of 

Part One

Part Two

Part Three 

Books

The Breakdown – B. A. Paris

Driving down a road in the middle of the storm is what Cass promised she would never do, but she will get home quicker that way.

That is until she sees a car at the side of the road. A woman is in the car.

What does Cass do? Stop and make sure she is okay? Drive by?

What if your actions, the choice you make, the guilt, then haunt you.

It is this catalyst which the rest of the story is based on and has us as readers launched head first into Cass thoughts and feelings as she begins to break down from what she knows is reality.

Strange phone calls, objects not in the right place, parcels arriving, all point Cass towards dementia, she might be too young but her mother died of it and she has never told her husband this. Her husband even starts to question her sanity. It seems Cass is very much on her own with this guilt, this belief.

As Cass life begins to unravel slowly, ironically the pace of the book picks up. It is a page turner, because whilst you feel so much sympathy for Cass, I did reach a couple of points where I thought she really did have dementia. The author could have taken the plot any number of ways and it was this that kept me reading.

The niggles about the story never went away for me and I guessed fairly early on who had to be behind it but the writing was so good that I even began to doubt the author was going to take us in that direction. Could you breakdown all actions separately and see them as isolated events, or were they all part of a very cleverly weaved plot. The only way to know was to keep on reading.

An excellent thriller, certainly nothing like her debut novel and if this is the quality of writing and work for that notorious ‘second’ novel then I cannot wait for what the author writes next.

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

The Breakdown is out now.

 

 

 

Books

Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses – Carole Matthews

I am still fairly new to Carole Matthews books and what I have read so far have been good reads. This book was no exception.

Christie Chapman, single mother who commutes two hours each way to London to work as a legal secretary is simply living but not necessarily alive. Everything she does is for her and her son Finn. She has the love and support of her parents who are near by. But life for Christie seems to be one long commute.

When not at work, thanks to her mother she has developed a rather obsessive interest in papercrafts. She makes cards and little gifts for friends and for people at work. She sometimes sells some, but she is really just a good hobbyist whose dreams of doing such a thing as a real job are firmly locked away because of the reality of the life she has.

When her mother entered her designs into a competition and she wins the chance to turn a hobby perhaps into something more. Part of the prize is to go to America to learn more about crafting.

Christie comes back from America with crafting ideas in abundance but also the possibility of love. However reality bites and her son is not very well and she needs to devote her time to him as much as she can.

Can she do this, commute, work, craft and have the possibility of romance? Surely something has to left behind?

Is the decision Christie makes the right one? Is the right decision her happy ending?

This is a joyful novel in parts and sad in others, but through that emotional depth, Carole Matthews has created a story which shows you how people support each other, stick together for a common goal and have faith that the decision you make is the right one for you. Do not let the fact that the novel is about crafting put you off, that is merely the vehicle that is used for expanding Christie’s world.  I was drawn into the story even if perhaps I knew how it was going to all turn out. But who cares! Not me!

A good read.

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

Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses is out now.

Books

A Talent for Murder – Andrew Wilson

No one knows the truth about Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926. We can all surmise from what we do know, but what we don’t know we can perhaps weave a story around. This is exactly what Andrew Wilson has done in this exciting novel, a must for all Christie fans.

In a strange turn of events it is Christie who has to contemplate murder rather than write about it in her popular growing novels. Can she actually commit a crime?

The majority of the novel is told from Agatha’s point of view, we learn of the effect the loss of her mother has had on her, the breakdown of her marriage and the devotion to her child. Is it these things that could possibly drive her to commit a murder?

The rest of the novel’s narrative is told in a different way and we see an outsider trying to use the mysterious disappearance to further her career. Using methodology that would not look out of place in any of the Poirot and Marple books it seems that perhaps someone has inadvertently stumbled upon the true reason for the disappearance. Can the truth be revealed before it is too late?

Of course in true Christie style with perhaps a slightly more darker graphic side to events not normally found in her novels, the truth is revealed which will perhaps shock readers. But then did you see what was happening, did you spot the red herrings, the obvious clues. No? I didn’t and that is probably what makes this a very clever novel.

We will never know the true story of those ten days of disappearance in 1926. Not even Christie herself refers to them. But a theory or a possibility that it might not have been all that it seems, gives you an excellent start to a story.

If you are a fan of Golden Age Murder or of Christie herself this makes an excellent read as it celebrates what is at the core of Christie’s novels and how they still work years after they were published and are as popular today as then.

A Talent for Murder is published on the 18 May. 

 

 

 

Books

The Forever House – Veronica Henry

We are all dreaming of finding ‘the house’, the one you know that will tick all the boxes and be the place that you stay forever. Belinda Baxter is in that position, even more so as an estate agent in the village of Peasebrook she gets to look at some really great houses.

As the commission on the houses she sells comes in, she is getting nearer to having the funds for that forever house. Now she just needs to find the right one.

Hunter’s Moon is a house that could be someone’s forever home and it is with sadness and regret that Sally and Alexander are choosing to put it on the market. It has been in Alexander’s family for over fifty years, but it was left to his wife Sally when his mother died. It is Belinda Baxter who helps the family sell the home.

However as Belinda soon discovers there is more to the selling of this house, than simply the need for cash. It is the memories that are triggered and the stories that the house could tell.

And so Veronica Henry takes us back to 1967, to when Sally and Alexander first met and the other inhabitants of Hunter’s Moon take over the story in the past.

I was hooked, especially with the dual narrative which I do enjoy reading. It can be a difficult thing to pull off successfully, but I think the author has achieved it with aplomb. She has taken two very different views of Hunter’s Moon and I fell in love with both of them. Everything is described so well that it brought the place to life, I could imagine the state of the kitchen that Sally walked when she first went there, and the wonderful way that it has transformed when it looks like Sally is going to have leave it all behind.

Of course there was romance within the pages of the novel, not just with the house itself but between some of the characters. However I felt very much that this was merely in the background and it was not important for the happy ending to be about girl meets man and falls in love. The book seems to deal with all different aspects of love and the heartbreak that can sometimes accompany it.

A wonderful family story, which I felt was different from some other Veronica Henry’s previous novels and I felt quite sad when I finished the book.  I wished it had gone on forever.

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

The Forever House is out on the 18th May.

 

Books

A Good Catch – Fern Britton

Picking this up from my shelf in a bid to make some sort of dent in it, I thought this would be a good book to while away a bank holiday with. How right I was.

Back in Cornwall, where Fern has set the majority of her novels, this was one with a difference. The story opens with Greer having returned from an inquest. Straight away you want to know what the inquest was for, someone has died, but who, why and how.

And so the book goes back to the beginning of Greer’s story, to 1975 and that of her other three friends, Loveday, Jesse and Mickey. To when they were at school and their whole lives were ahead of them, not knowing where any of them were going to end up. The world was their oyster as the cliché goes.

Trouble is someone else had other plans for two of these four, it meant that their world was never going to go farther than the fishing village of Trevay that they grew up in.

How far would you go to please your family? Would your choice mean that you never lived the life that you wanted? With who you wanted?

As the story progresses through the eighties, which I could remember and therefore could relate to this book in someway perhaps more than another era. We are effectively building up to the crescendo that we started the book with.

This is a book with strong characters the driving force behind the story. My feelings for Loveday, felt constant throughout the book. But for Greer, her attitude to life and always getting what she wanted frustrated me and left me feeling less than sorry for her. Mickey and Jesse friendship was strong and that came off the page, even when it seemed that something was about to break them in two.

Importantly in this book, is the setting of Cornwall, of a little fishing village, of the waves against the shore, the tides, the importance of water, the danger and delights that such a place can have. Fern Britton manages to bring that to life as much as the characters because the catch that these characters are going to get will not necessarily be the one they are waiting or hoping for.

Slightly different to the author’s other novels, but a good read to escape into.