The Secret Seaside Escape – Heidi Swain

We have broken away from Wynbridge (I am sure we will return at some point) and we have pitched up on the Norfolk coast in Wynmouth.

The rock pools, the sea, the sand, the beach huts, shared experiences and loves of family holidays are just distant memories to Tess, but Wynmouth is where she feels she had the best parts of her life.

When it all feels like it has come to much at her high pressured job working for her very demanding and exacting father in the family firm and still reeling from the death of her mother, Tess decides to step away from it all.

Not telling anyone, she rents a cottage next to a pub in Wynmouth. Shutting all technology in a drawer and taking only herself and a recent discovery with her, Tess intends to hole up in Wynmouth until she feels ready to go back.

Trouble is Tess, cannot switch off that easily and she soon becomes involved in this lovely seaside town and the community.

Tess forms a bond with Sophie who runs the local cafe and her daughter Hope. Tess can see the potential in the cafe, once in PR, always in PR and helps Sophie spread the word a bit more.

Meddling a bit more, she branches out at the pub and becomes close to Sam, the landlord of the her rental cottage as well. Sam is slightly aloof and seems he is running away from something too.

When a familiar face returns to Wynmouth it doesn’t just upset the locals, it upsets Tess too. It seems that by running away she has run into something else from her past.

Tess is about to learn a few lessons in nothing being as it seems.

This is yet again a five star read from Heidi Swain (as have all her previous novels). Instantly I was taken to the seaside, not so much of a problem when you live near one, but to have it jump off the page was wonderful. The characters were just as good as they always are. Fully formed, even those that merely played a small part in the story. I took an instant like and dislike to many of them only to find my prejudices and assumptions were sometimes wrong as I did not know the full story.

If you cannot get to a seaside, this is the perfect way to escape – but you might need to provide your own ice cream!

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

The Secret Seaside Escape is published on 30 April. 




Sunrise over Sapphire Bay – Holly Martin

The cover invites you into this story and is almost like a holiday poster wanting to whisk you far away from everything. And so this story does.

Aria has lived on Jewel Island all her life and she can’t think of anywhere else she would rather be. Even  with her twin sisters in different parts of the world, she would still rather be working in the family hotel with their father.

The hotel is not really doing very well and Aria is trying to do the best she can amongst the challenges of not changing anything and remaining fiercely loyal to everyone who works there and everyone who supplies the hotel

But it is all about to change with the arrival of Noah he brings a different perspective to everything but when that perspective is suddenly taken away and Aria is left heart broken it seems throwing herself into the hotel is all she can do. That is until tragedy strikes.

Aria and her sisters, Skye and Clover are all reunited back on Jewel Island. The sisters have been left the money from their father, Aria a stake in the hotel, the remaining stake belongs to Noah. The man who stole Aria’s heart and broke the previous year.

Can Aria cope with the changes to the hotel and having Noah back in her life?

Will Noah tell her the real reason he left so abruptly the year before?

This is another excellent Holly Martin novel which draws you straight into not just the plot,but the place as well. Like with previous novels I could easily imagine myself visiting Jewel Island, staying at the hotel and exploring all the wonderfully names places. Of course the characters I will meet mean it is an ever better place to visit and it is not just the main ones of Aria,Skye, Clover and Noah. The wonderful receptionist Tilly about to have a baby, Angel the man who can cope with everything and seems to deal with anything Noah throws at him, Zoe the receptionist there to spy on the staff as well as godmothers, busybody councillors and porn watching vicars wives!

This book has everything, it is about embracing your dreams and working hard not just for yourself but for everyone else and realising that no matter what you do or how you do it, you are making a difference to someone.

This is the beginning of a gem of a series, pure shiny gold!


Thank you to the author who kindly provided me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I have received nothing in return and the only thing I give is the recommendation to read this book. 

And you will be pleased to hear that there will be a welcome return to Jewel Island in the autumn and I cannot wait!


The Lost Girls – Jennifer Wells

1912 – May Day in Missenham.

Everyone remembers that day – that is the day two girls disappeared. Two girls were murdered.

From two different parts of society Iris Caldwell and Nell Ryland were the unlikeliest of friends, brought together through circumstance and design rather than a desire for true friendship. Each very different.

Nell Ryland, was seen as the wild child, the rebel. A respectable vicars’ daughter who made seemingly one mistake and was forced to pay for it for the rest of her life. Well the rest of her life until that fateful day in May 1912.

Iris Caldwell, childlike, waiflike living very much away from the adult world, so as to not grow up and become one. Cocooned by her father in their home until that fateful in day in May 1912.

1937 – a cine film has been found which record the events of that fateful day.

As the locals gather to watch, they see one of the missing girls clearly on the film walking with Sam Denman, a local man. Is he the last person to see her alive? Surely the film maker knows something?

With twenty five years having passed, can the truth really be found out all these years later?

The mystery is told from the perspective of Agnes, Nell’s mother in 1937 and Nell herself back in 1912. You don’t get to hear Iris voice which when you learn about her you perhaps realise that if you did it would be almost so different to the story we are told about her.

The book was a page turner, despite I thought a slow start, once it picked up pace I had to know what happened that day. Some of it did suddenly seem obvious to me, but perhaps not to those so closely involved that they were blind to their actions and the events.

Historical fiction with that an intriguing mystery added into the mix. Whilst part of a series set in Missenham, these books standalone as books to be read without prior knowledge of others in the series.

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

The Lost Girls is published on 23 April 2020.


A Suffragette Saviour

These strange times mean that some people are finding their hobbies are a great distraction. That has always been the case for me, it is just I have not shared much of it on this blog in the last few years or so.

However in a change from books I thought I would share what has been keeping me occupied (one of the many things) in recent weeks.

Please let me introduce you piece by piece to Emmeline Pankhurst – in the form of a slide show (I hope it works on whatever device you are using)


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Full Disclaimer – I simply followed a pattern, not that clever to make something up such as this. But forever grateful to Kerry Lord of Toft who creates such things.

In honour of International Women’s day we are launching a brand-new club!

This club is all about celebrating the remarkable women who changed our world for the better. Once every four months, a new crochet pattern and yarn bundle will be released to make the next inspirational female in this series. Based on the doll standard form in Kerry Lord’s best-selling crochet book Edward’s Doll Emporium, these amigurumi creations will become an heirloom collection for you to treasure. Along the way you’ll meet some of the world’s most influential women – some who you’ll have heard of, and others that will be new to you. The perfect gift for the great women in your life.

I am really pleased with how it has turned out and I did follow the pattern with some slight adjustments to hook size for the dress and I missed the bun off the hair as I felt the hat and the hair were just perfect for me.

It took me roughly four weeks, but that is with me making other things as well. I look forward to seeing what remarkable woman is next in the series – and I might just share it with you too!


Letters From the Past – Erica James

This is one of those books which is packed full of everything you could possible want from a story to sweep you away.

Told from the different perspectives of various different characters you are thrown into getting to know a lot of people and quickly. I did have to go back and reread who everyone was as I was a bit lost and felt as I had not read the first novel where these characters are introduced I was at a disadvantage. However once I did this I got a sense of how they were related and something about their past I was able to involve myself fully with the book.

As letters from the here and now start landing on doormats across Melstead St Mary, you almost wish that Miss Marple would appear to solve it all for these people and make her wry observations about people’s actions and reactions.

Evelyn, celebrating twenty years of marriage to Kit, is shocked to receive one which brings doubt on her actions from the past and questions about what she did during the war.

Julia, weak, feeble and under the command of her husband receives one, but she knows she has probably done something wrong anyway, she has spent all her life in repentance.

Hope, driven by her work, driven to escape when she receives a letter is driven into another state. One that everyone desires she will come out of.

Romily, the matriarch of this family. Bringing them all together, keeping them all apart where necessary and trying to live her own life.

Full of secrets, mysteries and love this really is a book which did indeed sweep me away from rural Suffolk, London, Oxford and Palm Springs. It has characters to love, loathe, trust and distrust. It made me change my mind about some and know I was completely right about others. This was a book which I invested in and it gave me an abundance of returns. Thank you Erica James, wonderful storytelling.


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

Letters From the Past is published on the 16th April. 


I am relatively new to Erica James work but if this is the standard then I am going to read more starting with Coming Home to Island House where we first get to meet these characters. 


Parish Notices


Well it is three weeks since I lasted posted a little notice and how our lives have changed since then. At that point it was the day before we were told, this is it. Everything is to close and we are not to go far from our homes unless really necessary. My normal routines have been thrown into disarray and I am now finding others, like a lot of others probably have yet to find one that works.

I have still gone to work, I have reduced my hours considerably and I am now on leave. I needed a rest, my heads was full and I was starting to suffer from it. I recognise the signs. But of course when I go back everything will still be up in the air. I there again need to find another work routine.

The reading as I might have mentioned before took a bit of a dive, it has picked up, I think because of the books I chose. Agatha Christie, Poirot and some Katie Fforde have been wonderful places to escape into. Also reading without thinking about reviewing can be a blessing. I am so glad that I made the decision not to review every book I read anymore.

Keeping busy is of course important (as is not eating your body weight in food every day). I go out for my prescribed exercise, I have a rather steep hill (it probably isn’t that steep) to climb where I can look across the Solent and can see the formation of Portsmouth Harbour and beyond if it is clear. It has become my nemesis and I am determined to walk up there without getting out of breath!

I needed something to listen to on these walks, and whilst music can be great, I have the radio on most days for most of the day. I wanted to be educated so I have got into Something Rhymes with Purple Podcast with Susie Dent and Gyles Brandreth. Great fun, interesting and I am learning as I am pounding the pavements, looking out for rainbows and signs in windows. I have come across some knitting on a lamppost, books being offered in boxes outside houses and a general sense of we are all in this together.

As keeping the hands occupied (and away from the chocolate) I can turn to my knitting, crocheting, sewing and anything else in between, I present to you a selection of some of the last few days efforts.

It has been a while since I have shared so much of my craft stuff on this blog. There was a lot more in the early days of the blog and I am also still looking back through 2012 posts so I can do a review of that year soon. That could be my project for next week?

How are you all managing? What are you up to?


My Husband’s Lie – Emma Davies

Never go back, it is never the same. But Thea does exactly that, but she has no idea why it was never going to be the same, because she had no idea what had happened then.

When Thea spots her own childhood home up for sale, she realises that it is meant to be and she can now bring her family up in the same warm,loving home that she was. In a small town where her and her husband Drew were neighbours and childhood sweethearts.

But it seems that Thea is not welcomed like she thought she would be.

The house is perfect, everything she remembers including the secret hiding places, but outside of those walls it seems that the place has changed and it seems everyone is talking about her, avoiding her and trying to imply something.

Thea does not know what it is.

Until she finds something hidden, in one of her childhood hiding places.

An old yellow and faded newspaper article from not long before her family suddenly moved away.

Everything she thought she knew is wrong. Even her husband seems to know everything she doesn’t.

The memory of her childhood is shattered and Thea fights to make herself heard in a place where no one is listening. Perhaps they are not listening because what Thea says is all false. But surely the truth will out.

Only actions and time will see if people will understand, help and importantly listen and observe as to what is going on around them.

Sometimes the things closest to you are the hardest to see.

This is a marked change in direction for Emma Davies and one I was not quite so sure about. However her brilliant writing and narrative really hit home when it came to some of the more difficult topics. Bullying can happen at any age and it sometimes takes some radical action to understand the mentality and reasoning behind someone else actions. The contrast between childhood bullying and adult bullying really was an excellent way of reflecting how these things permeate our society in an easily accepted way without question.

My Husband’s Lie is a book which will take you on a journey through your emotions and you might need to hang on tight as you find out the truth.

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

My Husband’s Lie is published on the 9th April. 




Books · Jottings

March Roundup

I just looked back at March last year and it was a bit of a terrible month for reading and I want to say perhaps it was because it is a March thing, as this March has not been much better but for very different reasons of course.

I like a lot of people are no doubt struggling to concentrate on reading, especially when I can get locked in the vacuum of news endlessly and all theories, opinions and facts. As this strange time goes on I now consciously make more of an effort to step away from it all.

But enough of what everyone is dealing with on with the books for March.

When time are tough you can always turn to certain authors and I have used this mantra this month, especially with some of their new novels about to hit the shelves in April.

Heidi Swain – The Secret Seaside Escape it is so great to be back with Heidi and this wonderful new novel is set in Wynmouth and has the same feel good factor as all her previous ones and with a seaside to wander down through the pages of a book, when you perhaps cannot get to the real thing.

Wanting to wander in more wonderful landscape with jewelled names and descriptions then you can pick up Holly Martin – Sunrise over Sapphire Bay where the warmth of the sun as well as the story will make you want to pack your bags and go for a visit. Holly always delivers.

And if you want to escape even more as did the main character in Katie Ginger – Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay then you are in for a treat. Just make sure you pop into the little gift shop and pick up a memento of your visit.

No doubt we will be back to visit these places later on in 2020.

Of course going away on holiday and even a cruise seems such a distant dream at the moment, but having picked up a book which had been languishing on my shelf for a while I was taken to that cruise with Rachel Rhys – Dangerous Crossing. It’s 1939, on a ship to Australia and the mix of people you are going to meet, their class, their status, their religion, their background, their past and their future is going to all be mixed up on this long voyage. It was a page turner.

In a change from her normal type of novel I approached Emma Davies – My Husband’s Lie with slight trepidation, would this work. Well it did, it was a it of a roller coaster and has some real insights into emotions throughout the book. It works and made you think that sometimes you always need to go forward, never back.

Jennifer Wells – The Lost Girls another historical fiction read for the month was very much on the theme of never going back, never staying still and always moving forward. And of course it is always those you least expect isn’t it?

When all is wrong with the world you can always rely on the known and in the case of Agatha Christie  – A Murder is Announced. I did know, I have seen the TV adaptation enough to know who the crime was committed by but probably because I thought I had read the book, I find I had not and therefore corrected that immediately. A Murder is Announced was the chosen book for Read Christie 2020 in February, I might pick up another one in the coming weeks.

So that was my March.

How was yours?


The Forbidden Promise – Lorna Cook

Second novels can sometimes suffer from sort of ‘syndrome’ not quite as good as the first, the most difficult to write, sweated over for months and months on end, massive edits and rewrites and never quite reaching the pinnacle of the first novel.

In the case of The Forbidden Promise this suffers with none of these, though I am unsure if the author suffered any of the aforementioned symptoms. For me this second novel is better than the first (and that was good) and shows a great example of dual time narrative, compelling storylines and wonderfully drawn characters.

Present day. Invermoray House in Scotland. The current residents of the home, Liz and her son James are struggling to make ends meet and the only way is for the house to be made to pay  its way. A Bed and Breakfast seems a good idea with some typical HIghland pursuits for any guest that might fancy it.

Kate is famed for her PR skills and that was her previous role in London but when an incident leads her to want to hid from all she knows she takes refuge in a job at Invermoray House. Intrigued by the mystery of the house she does some research to discover a family bible with one of the names crossed out – Constance McLay.

1920. Invermoray House. Constance McLay’s 21st birthday party. War has yet to really touch them so far north, it appears nothing has changed. But war is coming in many forms as young men, including Constance’s brother and his friend join up and the estate workers go to fight for their country.

With the excuse of an headache, Constance escapees her own celebrations and wanders down to the loch.

There she sees a spitfire, dive and crash into the loch. Instinct kicks in and she saves the pilot and with one sweeping gestures promises to keep him safe in the abandoned ghillies cottage. However Constance finds that this promise is hard to keep.

As war starts to touch Invermoray House more directly, Constance finds that she is torn between her heart and her head.

Some eighty years later as Kate tries to find out more about Constance she also finds that her heart and her head are working independently of each other.

As the plot goes back and forth you start to form a picture of what life was like for Constance and also how it is perceived by Kate, trying to find out more about her, as if you were being told the same story from different perspectives.

What also holds the book up as excellent is the fact the author uses the landscape to be as much of a character as the characters themselves. This adds weight and depth to the plot and kept me hooked as I turned the pages wanting to find out the truth, the secrets, the lies and the promises that were made.

Lorna Cook is fast becoming an author you need to look out for.

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

The Forbidden Promise is published on the 19th March. 


The House at Silvermoor – Tracy Rees *Paperback Publication*


The 5th novel from the author of the winner of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition, Amy Snow. Perfect for fans of Katheryn Hughes, Lucinda Riley and Dinah Jefferies.


Josie has never questioned her life in a mining village on the South Yorkshire coalfield. But everything changes when she meets Tommy from the neighbouring village. Tommy has been destined for a life underground since the moment he was born. But he has far bigger dreams.

Josie and Tommy become fast friends, united by their desire for something better and by their fascination with the local gentry who have their keeping. Wealthy and glamorous, the Sedgewicks of Silvermoor inhabit a world that is utterly forbidden to Tommy and Josie. Yet as the new century dawns, and the pair become entangled with the grand family, they discover a long hidden secret and learn that nothing is impossible.

 …..Tommy and Josie form an unlikely friendship which is innocent and heartwarming  perhaps but their fascination with doing something other than mining and seeing another part of the world through the gates to the Heston Manor they wonder perhaps what life is like in there……

….As fates take their own path, Tommy and Josie find themselves at another big house – Silvermoor. How can a place be so welcoming, opening and accepting when Heston Manor is everything but?

……The research that must have gone into this book was clearly there to see – the scenes in the mines at times had me gasping for breath……

……For me this is the best book by Tracy Rees so far and is a must for any fans of historical fiction, think Catherine Cookson but on a much higher level…….

To see my full review click here.

About the Author

Tracy Rees was born in South Wales. A Cambridge graduate, she had a successful eight-year career in nonfiction publishing and a second career practising and teaching humanistic counselling. She was the winner of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition and the 2015 Love Stories ‘Best Historical Read’ Award. She is based in Swansea.