Written from the Heart – Trisha Ashley

This is one of Trisha Ashley’s early novels previously published as Happy Endings, the author has made some little tweaks, but overall the story is very much as she originally published it.

This is the story of Tina Devino who whilst a published author herself in the ‘midlist’ range according to some, offers her advice to other budding authors for a small fee.

If she wants to break into the bestseller lists then she is going to have to do some of the hard work herself. She knows she is not the buxom blonde face of an author that her publisher wants to promote, even less when she discovers the man behind the publication of her next book is her ex husband Tim.

When a chance meeting with a good-looking stranger turns into better news and a new agent, Tina starts to write stories which start to get her noticed. Also what helps of course is being the girlfriend of a well-known Russian ballet dancer, Sergei. But his needs appear to be great and when Tina is not looking someone else in a butterfly mask swoops in to take its prey.

Nothing seems to be going right for Tina, her love life, her friendships and even her work. Surely the knotted mess of it all can be untangled and Tina can find the right path for her heart once again.

For me this is a passable read and one of the author’s early works, there are a few too many loose ends for me. I enjoyed the letter from budding authors, which interspersed this novel and probably gave a frightening insight to what people might possibly read or write. But the main storyline did peter out and there was no great conclusion which neither left me satisfied or wished there was a sequel.

If you are a fan of Trisha Ashley then you will enjoy the novel, not the strongest of her oeuvre but there was something about it that made me think – could it possibly be part autobiographical……..?

Thank you to the publisher for the ARC in return for an honest review. 

Written from the Heart is out now. 

Having just checked my Goodreads list and cross checked with Fantastic Fiction – it would seem that the only one I have left to read is Lord Rayven’s Revenge apart from any new books out – which I believe could be around October – yippee!





The Pet Shop at Pennycombe Bay – Sheila Norton

Jess spent many a holiday in Pennycombe Bay but now she is back to live there.

But life is not perfect for Jess, whilst she enjoys her job at the local pet shop, she is living with her cousin Ruth who is hiding a secret and takes a dislike to Jess’ dog Florence.

Jess gets involved in the local community and she meets a variety of different characters along the way,

Jim, her boss is kind to her but is also fussing and worrying over Vera, who having lost her dog has no reason to come and see Jim in the shop, that is until she has a nasty fall.

Nick and his dog Buddy become friends of Jess and of course Florence, but also of her cousin Ruth and it makes for some awkward conversations and moments, until Nick loses Buddy. Jess realises even more she doesn’t need a man in her life, Florence is just enough.

Tom pops into the pet shop for supplies and starts to chat with Jess, when he reveals that his son, Jacob is struggling in school and that they used to have a dog go in for the children to read to, Jess senses another opportunity to do good.

Getting involved with Pets as Therapy at the local hospital and school, mean that Jess can spend more time with her dog and also other people. Her small circle is now widening and Jess is embracing life a lot more in Pennycombe Bay.

With all this going Jess stills very shy and worries about the future. When she learns something about the past, perhaps she can now move forward and start talking to someone else more often than the dog Florence!

This is an enchanting book which has some great characters and includes the pets as much as the human in all the interaction. A perfect book for anyone that loves pets as well as feel good community storylines that remind you that there is a choice in being lonely or not.

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

The Pet Shop at Pennycombe Bay is published 21 February 2019.


Happiness for Beginners – Carole Matthews

The latest novel from Carole Matthews is full of so much joy, hope and happiness that the book could almost be a self-help one!

Molly lives on Hope Farm, inherited from her Aunt when she died. Molly has no one in her life, a disruptive childhood meant she spent a lot of time at Hope Farm and was at her best when it was just her, the animals and nature.

There is something special about this farm – it gives hope and inevitably happiness. All of the animals need that bit extra attention. Whether it be a skittish alpaca, a one-legged chicken, or a sheep with a chip on its shoulder. They are all animals who would have been written off and forgotten.

The same could be said for the children that also come to Hope Farm, because Molly has turned this place into a last chance saloon for children who have exhausted all traditional forms of educating and in some ways the system has failed them. Interacting with the animals seems to bring them a whole different perspective with some school work thrown in for good measure.

That is until Lucas turns up at Molly’s door. Neglected by his father, the well-known television actor Shelby Dacre. Lucas is a handful and one of the most reluctant of students, but when you stand in the shadow of a very handsome father perhaps Lucas behaviour is the only way to get his father’s attention.

Molly is struck by Lucas more than any of the other children and finds a place in her heart for him. He thrives on the farm but when that is threatened it looks like Molly and all her waifs and strays are going to have to go their separate ways.

This is such a joyous book from beginning to end. The author throws you straight into life on the farm, to the problems of the children and the basic life that Molly leads. I wanted to dive into the pages and be part of the farm, to help those kids find some sort of purpose in life and to enjoy being in nature and living perhaps a less gilded life than that of Shelby Dacre.

I loved it and would recommend it for anyone who needs to have a bit of sunshine and happiness in their life!

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

Happiness for Beginners is published on 21 February 2019.



Courage of the Shipyard Girls – Nancy Revell

I have been with the Shipyard Girls since the very beginning and I really hope to be a part of their lives for many years to come. It is 1942 the war is still on and it seems such a long time since it started and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. These characters didn’t know that they were going to have to weather another 3 years.

Polly one of the hardest working ‘Shipyard’ girls is left devastated when her Tommy goes missing, grief is breaking her heart and her heart is only going to be broken once. Everyone worries about Polly, when they can see she will only love the once.

Helen, thought she was in love with Tommy at one time as well. In fact she probably is but when her affections are taken by Theo in the previous novel, the result reveals a testing time for Helen and her family. Her decision is going to change everything but when that decision is taking out of her hands, she turns to Gloria.

Their forging friendship is very much a secret but when catastrophic events mean help comes from all over the place everyone gets to see a different side to Helen.

Bel is still coming to terms with her parentage and the thread started in a previous book is wound through this one and certainly will feature I am sure in subsequent novels. Secrets cannot be kept forever, not when others are starting to see something familiar.

Rosie is struggling with the right decision for her sister Charlotte, Sunderland is not necessarily the safest place to be. Lily and George have decided to get married at last. Kate the wonderful seamstress is thrilled to be designing and making the dress and she has an admirer as well. I could go on with snippets of all the comings and goings but there is no fun in that – you will need to catch up on everyone’s news yourself.

All the characters I have got to know and love are all featured, as in any long running series, they are sometimes in the background and sometimes featured heavily in the storylines. Nancy Revell treats every one of them with care, love and respect and I cannot wait to continue my journey at the Shipyard and find out what else the war is going to throw at them as they try and survive.

I heartily recommend this series of books. You could start with this one, but why deprive yourself of the previous five then you can completely immerse yourself in the Shipyard Girls and get to know them as well as I do. For me one of the best series of sagas around and without a doubt a simple joy to read the books when they are published.

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

Courage of the Shipyard Girls is published on 21 February. 

If you wish to read them in order:

  1. The Shipyard Girls
  2. Shipyard Girls at War
  3. Secrets of the Shipyard Girls
  4. Shipyard Girls in Love
  5. Victory for the Shipyard Girls 
  6. Courage of the Shipyard Girls (review above)
  7. Christmas with the Shipyard Girls (published in Sep 19)

Who is the author and why does she seem to bring Sunderland and shipbuilding to life? Well here is her biography, which can be found on Goodreads/Amazon etc

Nancy Revell is the Sunday Times bestseller author of The Shipyard Girls series, which is set in the north-east of England during World War Two.

Nancy is the pen name of Amanda Revell Walton, a former journalist who worked for all the national newspapers, providing them with hard-hitting news stories and in-depth features. She also wrote amazing and inspirational true life stories for just about every woman’s magazine in the country.

When she first started writing The Shipyard Girls series, Nancy relocated back to her hometown of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, along with her husband, Paul, and their English Bull Mastiff, Rosie. They now live just a short walk away from the beautiful award-winning beaches of Roker and Seaburn, within a mile of where the books are set.

The Shipyard Girls is particularly close to Nancy’s heart as she comes from a long line of shipbuilders, who were well known in the area.





House of Gold – Natasha Solomons

Over the years I have picked up Natasha Solomons novels and always enjoyed the stories that she has had to tell.

This one was no different, although I have had it languishing on my kindle and on netgalley for far too long.

The Goldbaums have a place in society, tolerated because of their wealth.

They are respected by governments across Europe, because of their wealth.

If you are a male Goldbaum then banking is your business whether you choose it or not.

If you are a female Goldbaum then your business is to be a Goldbaum wife and mother.

The Goldbaum’s are the dynasty that spreads across Europe with power and influence.

That is until war comes. The Great War.

This powerful position is played throughout the novel and I learnt a lot about how such power and wealth comes to play in war. An angle I had never considered in such depth before, but one I could see very clearly now. Though I put that down to my age and knowledge of events that have gone past since The Great War.

The story though is ultimately about Greta and how despite being a Goldbaum from one branch and having to marry into another branch is fiercely independent and determined to make her mark and not be overlooked in any way. Her actions and challenges to the norm and what is ‘expected’ were both heartwarming and heartbreaking. She can be found naked under the cherry tree in the early days of marriage, she will breastfeed her son herself. She will understand the power and knowledge that women  can have in a man’s world. She will love and she will grieve, for everything she knows about her Goldbaum history will be torn apart by war and the greed of money.

A really interesting novel, and whilst I found it rather slow in parts, the business of gold and war bonds did sometimes detract from the story too much. I knew it was based in part on some sort of truth, the family really portrayed is similar to the Rothschild’s. The strong sense of anti-Semitism was clear, although I think history was manipulated a bit to bring the point across. The impact though can be felt by the reader.

A historical novel worthy of reading, to bring another aspect to many of the novels which feature The Great War.

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

The House of Gold is out now. 

Books · Jottings

January Roundup


2019 has begun and we are already a month down. I hope if you have had snow you are safe, well and warm and if you haven’t the same sentiment applies! I am warm and we had a fluttering of snow but as for being well, I am shaking of the remnants of a chest infection and thank my GP, the wonder that is the NHS and antibiotics who made feel a lot better when I really didn’t know I was that ill.

As for the books that kept me going in January – it was a mixed bag and only one of them was an actual book – Sara Sheridan – Russian Roulette. I enjoy the adventures of Mirabelle Bevan and whilst I may not blog about the series anymore, do feel free to search the blog for the ones I have spoken about and you may well find another series to get into. Great for Murder Mystery fans.

More murder and more mystery came with the second book in another series Anthony Horowitz – The Sentence is Death. The author is in fact a character in the book and lets you into his ‘real’ life. If you know the name, you will know his oeuvre. It sounds confusing but actually is the least confusing thing about the mystery.

With murder there comes guilt. But what if the guilt was you witnessed a crime? Mel McGrath – The Guilty Party explores this concept but who is telling the truth? A very different sort of thriller, not the best I have read but interesting nonetheless.

I started 2018 reading Jennifer Wells and I started 2019 doing exactly the same. What on the fact of it seem ‘sagas’ they are in fact much more than that. Jennifer Wells – The Secret, this year’s read was no different. During the 1920s, a dancer is taken to a house to rest. In 1942 a nurse visits the same house. Surely the two things cannot be connected?

A new author to me was Helen Rolfe – The Little Cafe at the End of the Pier. Previously released as short novellas, this is the whole book (and my prefered way of reading said stories). As living somewhere with 2 piers, I felt drawn to the story and the food that was being served at the Little Cafe. If this is the quality of the writing, I will certainly be back for more.

A while since I have read any Rachael Lucas but I was drawn by the cover of this one Rachael Lucas – Finding Hope at Hillside Farm. Hope can be found in many forms at Hillside Farm but for its owner Ella and her horses, it is going to change her life forever.

Finally a book which I flew through in less than 24 hours, okay so I was aided by the fact the constant coughing kept me awake but so did the book too. In fact I recommended it to my friend as she was having a tough time and she flew through it too. So I heartily recommend Christie Barlow – Love Heart Lane. A book which will definitely make it onto the books of the year and it only being January is a feat I know but also the joy that I get to go back and visit Love Heart Lane later in the year. The book is already on preorder!!

So that was January…how was yours?