Books

December Roundup

There we go then – December done and dusted with (well depending on when you are reading this of course).

It is time to reflect back on Decembers reading and see where it took me – into Christmas quite obviously!

I finished the lovely Canal Boat story I started earlier in the year with Cressida McLaughlin – The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas: Starboard Home. 

I also caught up on another author I read this year with her Christmas story Karen Clarke – The Beachside Christmas which was the best out of the trilogy she has written.

My favourite Christmas book was Heidi Swain – Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair I have loved all the books that I have read so far from this author and delight in the fact that I have two more to catch up on into the new year. This really is a Christmas feel good novel to lose yourself in completely. I so wanted to be apart of it.

I fell into the trap again of picking up what I thought was a short story only to find it was part one of four books. Grrr! Trouble is I fell for the cover of Holly Hepburn – Snowy Nights at Castle Court and didn’t pay much attention to anything else. Never mind, I have preordered the next three and only have myself to blame. Although I did resist another part one on netgalley. Serves me right for being smug about it!

I came across Samantha Silva – Mr Dickens and his Carol on The Book Trail blog and it sounded an interesting read – a bargain on Amazon for 99p (still is as of this post) and if you are a fan of Dickens this makes for an interesting concept about how the story of A Christmas Carol came to be. I wish I had discovered it earlier in the month as I would have gone ahead and reread the said book. It always seems strange reading it at any other time of the year!

With all this ‘nice’ christmas feeling books – i needed something to counteract it all and so I had been lent Paula Hawkins – Into the Water. Her second novel after the momentous Girl on a Train and for me the book was a bit of a let down, second books can either be amazing or just meh. For me it was the latter option, still good but not quite so gripping.

Back to some saga, to some well trodden path and who better to fill that spot than Rosie Goodwin – The Maid’s Courage. I thoroughly enjoyed it, some say it follows the same old formula but hey if it works why try and change it when it means you can escape real life for a few hundred pages.

And so to the books of 2018 – I have had a little head start by reading Trisha Ashley – A Good Heart is Hard to Find, one of her earlier works which has been tweaked and renamed. More about that in 2018.

I end the year (and slightly cheating because I am not sure if I will actually finish it before 23:59) reading Carole Matthews  – A Million Love Songs. A discover only in the last couple of years and whilst I should go back and read some of her earlier work I am too busy reading her recent stuff – another one to look out for in 2018.

Where will next years reading take me? Where will it take you?

 

 

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Books

The Beachside Christmas – Karen Clarke

This is the final part of the Beachside Trilogy and it started with a sweet ship went over to a flower stall and now we are in the middle of Christmas and the debate rages about who has the best Christmas lights and who should turn them on in the town of Shipley.

Enter Lily Ambrose, who buys a house in Shipley because she remembers the lovely summer holidays she had there when she was a child. Buying it and moving in winter in the run up to Christmas might not be the best of moves, but Lily is leaving everything behind.

When she arrives she is thrown into the Christmas lights display and rashly makes a promise that she can get a celebrity to turn on the lights, thanks to her contacts from her past.

Trouble is the celebrity is not who or what everyone is expecting. Ollie is a failed reality TV star with a chip on both shoulders and a man not afraid to hurt anyone when it comes to giving an opinion.

He needs to reinvent himself after some rather untimely PR disasters and so he agrees to turn on the lights, but he has other ideas at the same time.

Bringing Craig his long time friend and a cameraman with him to boot, it looks like the Shipley residents and the turning on of the lights is going to be the next reality show and it seems that Lily will be at the centre of it all.

Trouble is the residents have other ideas and Lily simply wants to fit in and write her novel.

This is a really lovely read and I have to confess for me the best of the three novels in this trilogy. You do not have to have read the previous two, they all work as standalone but of course some characters crossover, not so much that you cannot enjoy each book individually.

The friendships are all portrayed as genuine, the characters believable even if their actions might be unbelievably crass, you felt you part of the story. Of course there is romance, but what will become of Lily and the choices she makes? Well you will have to read the book to find out!

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

The Beachside Christmas is out now. 

Books

Annie’s Christmas by the Sea – Liz Eeles

I first met Annie back earlier in the year and I have to say I did not warm to her in the first book, however as the story progressed I could see the change in Annie and of course my change in the way I viewed her and the story.

So I was delighted to be back with Annie, to see how she is getting on by the sea away from the bright lights of London that she left behind in the first book.

Just when she has settled into Salt Bay, is enjoying being part of the choir which has restarted after a long ago tragedy. Her boyfriend Josh is everything she could want and she has started to feel that she actually belongs somewhere.

That is until the past comes back – the past that is actually her father, Barry  and he brings a stroppy teenage stepsister, Storm in tow as well. Clearly he thinks that perhaps Annie has some wealth. Their presence seems to be upsetting not just Annie but everyone in the village as well. They have put so many peoples backs up that Annie feels that perhaps she does not belong in Salt Bay after all.

Even her relationship with Josh is now under strain and when Barry gets involved with the choir, there seems to be nothing that Annie can do anymore that is just for her.

As Christmas looms round the corner and there is an unexpected fall of snow on the Cornish Coast, Annie struggles to work out how all these individuals will ever get on and how is the choir going to fair when they are entered for a competition?

Just like the first, this is a lovely story which shows how far Annie has comes from the original book (you don’t need to have read this to enjoy this book). Annie has softened she has let the place and the people embrace her and it has made her a better person. Along with us the reader, Annie is learning about a past she knew nothing about and how she can fit into Salt Bay and really be part of a community, a family, a relationship and a choir!

As good as the first novel and I look forward to reading more from this author.

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

Annie’s Christmas by the Sea is out now. 

Books

The Mitford Murders – Jessica Fellowes

The Mitford Sisters have always fascinated me. How six women made such an impact on social and political history throughout the twentieth century. The people they knew and associated with jump from the pages of a history book.

When I first saw this title, I was intrigued. even more so when I learnt the author is related to Julian Fellowes* of Downton Abbey fame. There must be a storytelling gene somewhere in them there Fellowes!

But whilst this is a story, this is also a book based in reality, based in truth but I am not going to give anymore away about what reality and what truth – because like me you can read the book and find out in the end.

Louisa Cannon lives with her mother and an unpleasant Uncle, teetering on the border of poverty in London.

She finds herself escaping her uncle and going to work at the Mitford’s Oxfordshire home where she becomes a maid and companion to the Nanny and the small Mitford girls but also a friend and confidante with Nancy Mitford the eldest. Her life is going to change and Nancy sees Louisa as a way to escape the confines of being in society.

Florence Nightingale Shore related to her namesake and a nurse as well finds herself on a train at the same time as Louisa, the two do not know each other but their lives are about to become entwined especially as one ends up dead and the other making her own investigations.

This is a book which is a mix of fact made into wonderful fiction. The settings are perfect, the insight into the Mitford Sisters early upbringing intriguing although of course we  do not know how much poetic license has been taken, but the infamy perhaps gives you an idea of the characters they were when they were small.

This really is a different murder mystery book, but also seems to sit right in the Golden Age Mystery category. I am intrigued as to how the next book will pan out and what fact or reality is going to be featured and just how will the Mitford’s fit in. There is so much scope with setting yourself such a task.

* His adaptation of Mary Poppins for the stage is phenomenal!

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

The Mitford Murders is out now. 

I loved this book but I do know that the review does not do it justice. That is what comes from being so busy that finding time to review was so difficult and I have lost the momentum you have when you want to sing from the roof tops about a book! Note to self – must try harder!

Books

November Roundup

November by tradition is always a quiet month for reading, this year even more so as it was a ‘zero’ birthday for me and much was taken up with celebrating. I am still eating the birthday cake.. don’t worry it is fruit, well made so, well-preserved.

It has very much been a Christmas month for me and catching up with people who I have come across in this years reading.

I only recently read The Canal Boat Cafe so I was delighted to see that there was more to follow with Cressida McLaughlin – The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas: Port Out where they reach Little Venice in London for some Christmas themed cakes and some ghost of Christmas past! And if you go Port Out you always go Starboard Home and that is lined up ready for reading in December.

I was lucky enough to complete the trilogy of Butterfly Cove and got to spend and early Christmas with the lovely Mia, Kiki and Nee in Sarah Bennett – Christmas at Butterfly Cove. It is always a sign of good writing and good stories that makes me sad to leave a place and that is certainly the case with this particular book.

I have mainly been disappointed by some of Tilly Tennant novels , they seem to not grab me as much as some other authors do but prepared to have my mind changed I embarked on Tilly Tennant – A Very Vintage Christmas. Sadly it was a book which could have been so much more, I do have the second in this Christmas selection she has written but I approach it with some trepidation.

Cornwall has featured heavily in many setting and plot in books I have read over the last couple of years and was probably one of the reasons I picked up Liz Eeles book back in May. I venture back for a colder and probably wetter Christmas in Liz Eeles – Annie’s Christmas by the Sea which was a lovely tale.

With all this jollity and festiveness what about a little bit of murder. This is the first in a series of novels, featuring each of the Mitford Sisters in turn. Jessica Fellowes – The Mitford Murders starts with the eldest Nancy who becomes embroiled in a murder on a train. What makes it even more intriguing is that some of the book is actually based on real life events. But I am not going to tell you which – you can read the book and find out for yourself.

So that was November, and to add a bit less Christmas and a bit more excitement I finished it reading Paula Hawkins second novel Into the Water – more of that in December.