The Island Villa – Lily Graham

Charlotte’s husband has died not unexpectedly and when he was getting his estate in order, he purchased a villa in Formentera, one of the Balearic Islands.

It was most unexpected for Charlotte and as she is struggling to deal with the death of her husband, she now finds she has this villa.

But the villa is special.

The villa used to belong to Charlotte’s grandmother. Her wonderful husband has left her a piece of the past so perhaps she can heal in the future.

This book has a dual narrative and I was taken back to 1718 where two sisters on the island of Formentera have to take in a wounded man. No one must know that he is there and if they do they must lie about who he is.

Of course the two narratives have a connection and as Charlotte learns so much about her own family background and makes new friends she can see a future forming ahead of her.

For the two sisters, some three hundred years ago. Secrets are the cause of so much pain and anguish and secret love is going to tear apart a family. I felt so much for these characters and it was an interesting part of history that i knew nothing about and has meant I have now read more. I admit to not even knowing the island existed.

I think this is a very different book from the others I have read by this author and I am not sure if this is a one-off or a change in direction permanently. It would matter neither way as all her books and great reads.

I rarely say a book should be longer but bizarrely it would have worked for this particular storyline, I simply wanted to know more. Think of the dual narrative works of Kate Morton or Lucinda Riley, books you can lose yourself in. I did lose myself in this book because I was transported to the island and the sun, the sea, the heat what more could you ask for in a summer read?

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

The Island Villa is published 29th June.






A Shot in the Dark – Lynne Truss

I am always on the lookout for interesting reads and especially books which have a historical element to them and so this murder mystery book set in the late 1950s and in Brighton sounded just the thing to take me away from all the nice fluffy reading I have been doing.

Inspector Steine is head of the local police department in a place where he says no crime is committed. . The Inspector is still dining out on the fact that a mere seven years previous he took the glory for two rival gangs who managed to all kill each other. Clearly there cannot be anymore crime in Brighton.

Sergeant Brunswick is desperate to be able to solve a crime and to go undercover to do this. He is thwarted at every turn by Steine.

Constable Twitten is a young whippersnapper who is being moved from police station to police station, not because he is no good but because he is too good. A stint in Brighton seems to the be the last resort.

Of course there needs to a crime – and so there is – now keep up at the back…..a hated theatre critic shot dead in his theatre seat whilst just about to reveal something about a crime he was victim of some years previous. A strong woman who escapes prison, a phrenologist who is not what he seems, a red-headed opinion poll lady, stolen jewels, dead actors and of course a murderer.

As I reflect back this was somewhat of a humorous novel, but for me it was somewhat lacking the humour simply didn’t work for me. The change in tone of the writing felt I was treated as rather foolish and couldn’t possibly understand what was happening without clear direction from the author so I was told what to think. That may well have been the intention but for me I rather make up my own mind about these things.

Towards the denouement it became rather ludicrous, that an Inspector so inept could continue and get away with what he had done, with no spark of conscience. The constable had the answers but was in no position to convince anyone of the truth and so much was left unsaid.

This was not the book I thought it was going to be and I was left rather disappointed and unsatisfied. However, it may well be a book that many other people will enjoy – so it is worth a try if you like murder mystery novels.

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

A Shot in the Dark is out on 28 June. 


Books · Jottings · Witterings

Six in Six – 2018 Edition

So I have brought it back for another 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 on a whim and it has been going ever since!

If you want to look back at the previous six years and get a flavour then please do.







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
  • 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
  • Six book covers I love
  • Six book covers that bear no resemblance to the story contained within
  • Six books to read to avoid politics
  • Six books I have read but not reviewed

I have again 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 2018.

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 reading days left of June and that book might well fit nicely into one of the categories.

Anything else?

Please spread the word and get people to join in and let them know that we are all halfway through our 2018 reading year!


Dear Mrs Bird – A.J.Pearce

Emmeline Lake wants to be a newspaper correspondent, in fact a war correspondent. Why not women are driving motorcycles and in factories, the war in its perverse way is giving opportunities to females that pre 1939 was not.

When she chances upon an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle she grabs the opportunity and successfully secures the job.

What Emmeline gets though is not the job she has dreamed of. She gets to work with the indomitable Mrs Bird the advice columnist for a women’s weekly magazine. Everyone has to start somewhere but she is starting by filtering most of the letters written as they are deemed unacceptable. Mrs Bird is quite clear as to what she sees as acceptable correspondence to be answering.

Emmeline does not.

Making the best of the situation she is in, Emmeline decides perhaps she could possibly answer some of these letters privately. Risking everything she does, but then she goes one step further and gets on of her answers published in the weekly magazine.

It is bound to end in disaster.

But then all around them disaster is striking out close to home. We are not just taken with the correspondence during this period of war. We are taken right into the heart of the home front and the bombing in London.

Emmeline also volunteers at the Auxiliary Fire Service as a telephone operator overnight – she gets to hear first hand the devastation of the German bombers – then one night it is brought much closer to home.

It seems that Emmeline could be about to lose a lot through her actions and the war.

This is a wonderful novel which transports you into the heart of Emmeline’s life, into the heart of London, into the reality that is war on the Home Front. Not afraid to tackle subjects either through the letters that are written in to Mrs Bird or the main storyline of the book, this debut author captured my heart and attention immediately and I was completely drawn into the story.

Perfect if you enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society .


The Lemon Tree Cafe – Cathy Bramley

Rosie sticking to her principles finds herself jobless and helping out at her grandmother’s cafe in a village in Derbyshire. Not quite where she thought life was going to take her.

However, Rosie finds something in the cafe and being back with her family that means perhaps she has found what she has been searching for all this time.

Rosie then stumbles across some secrets, ones that have been kept from her and her family for a generation. Her Italian grandmother holds the key to the past and it will not just unlock the past but make Rosie face something she has been hiding away for years. How can the past and the present be so related.

When a handsome familiar face sails into the village then Rosie might need to face the past. However when it looks like everything she is working for is being threatened by those close she needs to dig deep, look past her failings and perhaps start to let people into her life.

This is another lovely read from an author who weaves a story through the roll hills of Derbyshire, through to the Italian streets and the warmth of family and friendship from a long time ago. All of the characters no matter how minor, have a role to play and somehow seem to be fully formed with enough background for us to love, like or loathe.

You are guaranteed a story with Cathy Bramley one you can lose yourself in and forget everything around you. Perfect for fans of Katie Fforde and Trisha Ashley.

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

The Lemon Tree Cafe is out now and was originally published in 4 parts. I read the full version as I much prefer this way of reading.



The Foyles Bookshop Girls – Elaine Roberts

I cannot resist a book about books or book shops and that was the main reason of course for picking this title. But the title and the cover do not really do it justice.

This is a lovely wartime saga set at the outbreak of the First World War where the world was a different place and the excitement and buzz from fighting was nothing like the true horrors of the men that returned.

The characters of the book are of course all those who work in Foyles, in particular Alice, Victoria and Molly. I of course loved the little insights into the workings of the shop – to have to go and pay at a counter and take a receipt back so you could collect the book you had purchased.

But the three girls and their lives are what drives this book forward. Alice has been in love with Freddie ,a policeman for a while, in fact he was there when Victoria lost her parents and now war is coming, the future is very different and he wants to make sure Alice remains the girl for him.

Victoria is struggling with her two siblings who she has sole responsibility for financial and emotional and it is becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet. The war helps her family to move toward some sort of purpose.

Molly is always bubbly and bright but when she becomes involved with a man she seems to lose her sparkle and when things end between them and he eventually goes to war, she wonders whether she should have just put up with what she had.

We get to meet their families as well and I was fascinated by Alice’s family dynamic. Her spritely and spirited sister Lily who was out fighting for suffragism against their indomitable father does something even more outstanding  but it is not her who makes their father see what his actions are causing.

Of course the First World War is a dominant feature of this book but I found its approach refreshing and it brought home what was happening on the Home Front as much as in the battlefields. The belief that it would all be over by Christmas of 1914 was clearly believed. But life went on and people still visited the girls in the bookshop – an escape from reality?

This is a strong start to what looks to be a trilogy of books about these women and I cannot wait to go back and see how they are all fairing.

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

The Foyles Bookshop Girls is out now. 


Old Baggage – Lissa Evans

Stop and think about this title of the latest book from Lissa Evans.

Old Baggage, can mean different things to different people. It can be used as a description of some older lady, past her prime and of no use to anyone or society. It can be the baggage we bring from the past into the present. It can be actual tangible items, it can be thoughts, emotions and feelings. It can simply be an old bag with treasures inside that has sat unopened for a long time.

But what if it is all those things as Lissa Evans cleverly weaves her tale.

Matilda Simpkin, Mattie to her friends is all the things I have described and more. She is a lady of a certain age, who having been a militant activist within the Suffragette movement has now reached a stage in life where she finds she is of no use, she has no purpose. She is simply seen by others as Old Baggage.

But upon discovering a wooden club in an old bag, she wonders perhaps if there is still not more to do and can you still be idealistic and principled ten years after the main event.

However, times have changed and they are moving in a different direction and when Mattie encounters someone from her past what she believes in suddenly becomes lost in some other campaign.

I was drawn to all the characters, even though Mattie dominates the pages. Those she interacts with like The Flea (read the book to find out why she is called that) and young Ida who they both take under their wing. Mattie sees Ida as the future but, Ida sees a very different future and Mattie needs to change that, she did not fight for no reason.

This is a enthralling read, which did make me stop and think what became of the suffragettes and this is an ideal book to celebrate the centenary of those who fought so I can have a vote.  I enjoyed all the historical aspects of it and how I was taken back to the cells of Holloway and reminded that it was another ten years before all women had the vote.

This book is funny and moving and quietly powerful. The way the book is structured is perhaps  different from the norm (no defined chapters) but somehow this all adds to the story, as an old bag is found, old stories come tumbling out and they might well be able to define the future of women all over the world.

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

Old Baggage will be published on 14 June.


The Bakery at Seashell Cove – Karen Clarke

It is only a mere few days since I was in Seashell Cove and was getting to know Cassie and how she was trying to make her mark on her parents cafe.

This time back in Seashell Cove we are with one of Cassie’s friends who we were introduced to previously, Meg. Meg is a baker and bakes the cakes for the cafe and very popular they are too.

Trouble is the bakery where Meg works is being sold so she is feeling a little vulnerable especially as her fiance Sam is more interested in bikes and racing than he is in Meg. But childhood sweethearts can overcome anything if they are meant to be together.

Whilst Sam is away riding, Meg receives some rather shocking news about her family’s past and what is exactly going on with her mother in the present. Turning to Sam seems the obvious answer but he is not being very forthcoming. Meg is starting to worry. To add to the worry of who will buy the bakery.

Nathan comes across Meg in the bakery when he is there to sell the place and show round potential buyers. Meg is not keen on it being sold and not remaining a bakery but vows to silently bake until she can’t anymore. Nathan seems quite keen for the bakery to remain and when a secret buyer is found and Meg finally gets her dream she suddenly can see what life might be like if you perhaps choose different ingredients.

This is another great read from Karen Clarke. I was transported to the warmth of the ovens in the bakery, the dusting of flour over everything made the relationships sparkle. And I positively wanted to scream at Sam. Somehow it all works but it gives you enough to care about the characters and loathe them in equal measure as well as superb settings and great plot lines.

I am wondering where we are going to go next with Karen Clarke.

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

The Bakery at Seashell Cove is published on the 8th June. 


May Roundup

Last May was the month of the kindle – it seems this May was too!

That is the trouble with netgalley I get over enthusiastic with all the lovely new books and authors I can read that I find I am slightly swamped. But I made a good dent into the list and have read some really lovely books.

I reached the end of Liz Eeles – Annie’s Summer by the Sea which as the trilogy progressed got better with each book. Of course this book was set in Cornwall which is a popular setting for many authors that I read and it really does add something to the story.

I also reached the last book Holly Hepburn – Starry Skies at Castle Court. I really do try not to request books on netgalley that are parts of a story – however not paying attention made me get the first of this new series. I therefore had to keep reading the others. But if you can bear to wait then you need to be looking out for a book called A Year at Castle Court. I have nearly fallen into that trap again in recent days! But I resisted and just added them to my wish list on amazon to remember for the future.

Talking about series of books and being a bit too request happy on Netgalley, ages ago I downloaded Karen Clarke – The Cafe at Seashell Cove and it sat waiting to be read and then I spotted Karen Clarke – The Bakery at Seashell Cove. Knowing that I had not read the first spurred me on and I read them back to back which meant that I was really involved in Seashell Cove for a lovely while. A place for a holiday that’s for sure.

Amongst all this new reading I do try and get to the many books sitting on my shelf. It has been a while for this one Katharine McMahon – The Woman in the Picture. This is a follow-up to The Crimson Rooms which I read eight years ago and I was immediately taken right back as if I had only just left the characters. In the centenary of women’s suffrage this was a timely book to be reading.

I love my historical fiction even if it is not necessarily considered highbrow but comes in the saga form which is how I came to pick up Elaine Roberts – The Foyle’s Bookshop Girls. I did think that maybe I would get to see a bit more of an insight into the Foyle’s bookshops than I did get. However it was great writing and yet again I will need to revisit!

I have only read a few books by this author but Emma Hannigan – The Wedding Promise was one of the last written before she sadly died recently of cancer. This was a lovely book, really heartwarming and I escaped abroad with the characters.

I have even been to Copenhagen with Julie Caplin – The Little Cafe in Copenhagen. Embracing the concept of Hygge in your life to make you stop and take stock of what is going on around you and how it is affecting you!

Gail Honeyman – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a title you might have seen gracing many bookshop shelves in recent months. I was aware of it but didn’t really know much else. My friend read it and lent it to me. A good read that reminded me of The Rosie Project a lot of the time and also of myself in a self reflective way.

Well that was May, I am motoring through books on my kindle and trying to make more of an effort with those on my shelf too.

I wonder where June will take me? If you are wondering about the Six in Six – it will return for 2018!

Where has May taken your reading?