Cover Reveal – Holly Martin

I have been reading and reviewing Holly Martin’s books on this blog for a while and thought as we are nearer to Christmas 2021 than we were to Christmas 2020, I would share her latest book in the Jewel Island series and it has a Christmas theme.

If you want to get ahead and preorder then do so here

Start you visit to Jewel Island today

Sunrise Over Sapphire Bay

Autumn Skies over Ruby Falls

Ice Creams at Emerald Cove

Sunlight over Crystal Sands


Six in Six – 2021 Edition

Here it is again – I hope that the small select few of us that complete this meme can perhaps spread the word so we have a few more participants this year. However it is always great to see fellow book bloggers joining in.

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 years and get a flavour then please do.

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

2017 2018 2019 2020

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
  • Six books I have read in lockdown
  • Six classic mysteries
  • Six books about Royalty
  • Six pretty book covers
  • Six books set in a country other than my own
  • Six books that feature a Pandemic
  • Six books that are great when self-isolating
  • Six books recently added to my wish list
  • Six mysteries, thrillers or crime novels NOT by Agatha Christie
  • Six books with titles connected to rivers, seas and storms
  • Six nature related books
  • Six books about Librarians and Libraries
  • Six books I really want to buy in the next six months
  • Six books that feature a building in the title

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 2021.

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 2021 reading year!


The Island Home – Libby Page

Teenagers Ella and Molly have found each other through social media and have started a burgeoning friendship and why shouldn’t they – they are cousins.

They have never met.

Ella’s mother Lorna, left the island where Molly is at the age of eighteen and has never returned.

Molly’s father Jack is Lorna’s brother and has not seen his older sister since she left all those years ago.

Now Lorna is returning, back to the Island of Kip that she once called home and she is going back to her parent’s funeral. Two people she hasn’t spoken to or seen since she left.

So many questions need answering for Lorna and her brother Jack, and for us as readers. Ella and Molly’s friendship naturally goes from online to real life with ease and as Lorna watches she can see what Ella may have been missing all of her life. In fact maybe Lorna has been missing it to?

Told from the perspective of Lorna and Jack’s wife, Alice which I thought an interesting choice, as we only learn about him through the eyes of someone who has not known him all his life. We learn how Alice came to be on the island and the life she has created for herself and her small family. Whilst she may only have Jack and Molly, she has the whole island as a family too.

As the days unfold on Lorna’s visit, as we keep tenderly turning the pages there is a sense of something not quite right and it takes a long time for you to find out what the ‘not quite right’ was. Gently told and slowly unfolding is typical of Libby Page’s writing and is what draws me back to her stories. Sometimes you do not need the thrilling, racy page turning that you get in some books. Slow and paced can have just an affect and it did for me, as tears ran down my face between one interaction Lorna has with her old school teacher.

Of course the book is focussed very much on Lorna and her daughter’s story, but the island community feel is strong and we learn of people from Lorna’s past who have become close friends with Alice. It was if Lorna returned and saw the life she could have had, that Alice was having with all the people Lorna left behind.

A real thoughtful book which concentrates on the simplicity of family and friendship, with some difficult moments that leaving you thinking, even if it seems that all works out alright on the surface. I think for Lorna, Alice, Jack, the children and the island of Kip, you know that life will have some more tough moments to follow. Through the whole story, the author has made us aware of that, a skill which is not always used well with some authors. The story of these people will continue long after you have finished reading.

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

The Island Home is published 24 June


Sunlight over Crystal Sands – Holly Martin

Holly Martin is taking us back to Jewel Island again and I think this might be my favourite story so far….

Lyra has dreamed of living on Jewel Island since she was small and visited it’s beaches. Years later she has her ideal job and is living in a gorgeous little cottage. Embracing the more carefree aspect of life that she rarely does, Lyra sets out to explore on her bicycle.

However a slight mishap has her landing at the feet of Nix, who gets rather more than he bargained for upon their first meeting. But there is something familiar between these two and the attraction becomes too much for them both…….

…after waking, Lyra discovers that Nix has disappeared and that perhaps the most special night of her life has just been all a con. She knows she should not have abandoned her heart to someone and vows to never make the mistake again with anyone, especially Nix.

It seems though that circumstances are going to bring them much closer together and that there may be more adventures ahead for Lyra and Nix.

As ever Holly Martin brings us a sparkling novel which is full of romance and adventure. Regular visitors to Jewel Island will be pleased to know that previous characters make an appearance and of course the hotel plays a part as it does with all the previous novels.

We are swept along with the possibility of the future for Lyra and when she learns more about herself you see her at a cross roads on this adventure map and you are just hoping that she takes the right path and finds what she has been pining after but not willing herself to give herself over to. Sometimes you don’t need a map to find the treasure when it has been with you all of your life.

If you need to escape then these novels are a must full of life, love and lust and just the tonic you need to bring some shiny sparkly loveliness into your life.

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. 


The River Between Us – Liz Fenwick

This is the latest from Liz Fenwick and is a must for fans of historical fiction, big houses and the complexity of family.

Theo recently divorced finds herself starting again in The Boatman’s Cottage which is on the river bank bordering both Devon and Cornwall. The cottage is run down and has many secrets to tell and whilst Theo wants to restore it to show of it’s best, the gardens hold just as much of an attraction as the cottage itself.

The cottage formerly part of an estate which is now an hotel, Theo finds herself welcomed by the locals and when she discovers a box of letters in the cottage, she finds herself drawn back to the past and with the help of these new friends, discovers the mysteries.

Lady Alice, is about to be presented at court, it is the Edwardian period, war is on the horizon and the obvious route for Alice is marriage. However she has much to say on the path her life is supposed to take, and does so at the most inopportune moment. Destined never to be married, she is shipped off to a house in Devon, right by the Tamar river. The river just does not divide two counties, it divides two worlds. Two worlds that destiny has decided will meet when class clearly says it cannot.

For those who adore dual timelines, this is the book for you and I enjoyed the contemporary side of the novel as much as the past. Themes are reflected through both time periods and it shows how there are still prejudices, that there are still class divides now as much as their was in the past. They might be hidden amongst other behaviours but they are there all the same.

But what makes this book stand out for some others? The evocative nature of the sweeping landscape, the flowers and trees that are both appreciated in the past and the present. How something so male dominated as fishing is shown to be achievable whatever your gender. I was swept away with this novel as if I was paddling in the waters of the Tamar and adoring the flowers that were bringing new life around me.

Full of emotion, full of life and full of everything you need to make a first class book – The River Between Us is one of the best books of the year I have read.

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

The River Between Us is out now.


Saving the Day – Katie Fforde

I am a big fan of Katie Fforde novels and when the opportunity came to read this short novella I of course jumped at the chance.

Allie is bored with her job in a supermarket and the people she works with, she is bored with her boyfriend Ryan. Every day she walks past a place she wants to work – a little café. One day she gets the chance.

But she needs to learn about cooking and learn that there is more to life than Ryan.

Grabbing every opportunity, Allie can see a different world in front of her.

A lovely book to escape to and enjoy anther world and also show you that all opportunities are out there and perhaps you just need a push in the right direction.

Perhaps that push is reading and Saving the Day is one of the 2021 Quick Reads series to encourage those who perhaps don’t read normally or struggle the starting blocks to discovering more adventures in the pages of books. Once you discover Katie Fforde you can indulge in all of her previous works and they will bring you sheer joy – guaranteed.

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

Saving the Day is out now.

About Quick Reads – excerpts taken from the website. Please click here to learn more.

Quick Reads provide a route into reading that prioritises great story telling and adult-focused content while ensuring the books are written in an accessible and easy to read style.

.…1 in 6 adults in the UK struggle with reading and 1 in 3 adults do not regularly read for pleasure.

…In addition, studies have shown that those who do read for pleasure have higher levels of self-esteem and a greater ability to cope with difficult situations.

It has been a while since I have mentioned the Quick Reads programme on my blog – but feel free to click on the links below to some of the previous years

Quick Reads

Quick Reads 2015

Quick Reads 2016


A Letter to the Last House Before the Sea – Liz Eeles

Heaven’s Cove and Driftwood House, the B & B was first introduced to use in a previous book by this author. And we are swept back to this house, almost at the edge of the world, the sea power below as the world carries on even when everything else seems to be changing.

For Lettie Starcross, Driftwood House is the right place to escape to and perhaps she can get some answers to not just her late great aunts previous life in Heaven’s Cove but also some answers for herself. Portrayed as the Starcross Family’s resident drudge – she is there for the convenience of them all and none of it is helping her. I was immediately struck at how callous and ignorant her family were in treating Lettie, it made me want to spit! When Lettie up sticks to Heaven’s Cove it was clearly going to do more than just Lettie some good.

Great Aunt Iris leaves clues to her previous life in Heaven’s Cove but never spoke of why she left and what she left behind. Lettie, grieving for this lost stability in her life she seeks to find out about Iris past. Driftwood House it turns out was Iris previous home and her name still makes some of the older residents blanch when it is heard. Some memories run deep and history has a way of still affecting the present.

As Lettie learns more about her aunt and what happened, she also learns about the village and it’s villagers and finds herself drawn into someone else’s past which somehow makes her connect to Heaven’s Cove stronger and the pull seems greater than her previous life in London, with her family close by.

Events unfold and secrets are shared and the truth is finally known about a previous Starcross at the Last House by the Sea but will the past make the newer one finally find a place in the world.

A book whose backdrop of the rugged landscape and the weather is as prominent feature in these stories about Heaven’s Cove as much as the character’s. It gives it a sense of importance and reflects on how its powerful and beauty can be seen in the actions of those who live close by.

I really hope to go back to Heaven’s Cove…..if only I could stay in Driftwood House… find the time for a break away there.

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

A Letter to the Last House Before the Sea is out now.


Chasing the Italian Dream – Jo Thomas

Lucia is working hard at her job as a lawyer, she knows she is up for promotion and so she is determined to win the coveted place. She knows she can do no more once she leaves for her two week holiday back to Italy, to her grandparents and the place she thinks of as home.

Upon arriving in southern Italy, I like Lucia felt automatically transported to the warmth of the Mediterranean, the smell of the lemons growing in the trees, the music of the little village and the taste of the home cooking from her grandmothers home kitchen.

All is not as it seems as Lucia, settles in she realises that her grandfather is thinking about giving up his little pizza restaurant as there is no one to take his place now he is seriously considering retiring. Lucia is horrified that this going to happen and is even further shocked when she discovers who is likely to take over.

Her husband, Giacomo. A man she has not seen for at least six years and someone she has not actually got round to divorcing.

It looks like this is going to be a difficult period for Lucia and she decides to face the challenge head on and says she wants to run the restaurant too. Her Grandfather sets her and Giacomo to a competition and may the best ‘man’ win.

However it is not going to be easy for either of them, Lucia needs to be recognised as something that is seen only as a mans job and so she needs some support. That support comes from some unlikely but lovely sources and proves that any woman is as good as any man in the kitchen.

Can Lucia keep a restaurant going and a successful career in law in another country? Can she keep the tomato sauce bubbling on the stove and can she convince Giacomo that perhaps they should get divorced. As difficulties find all of them in different ways, Lucia is faced with a decision – what does she want to do with her life? And who does she want to share it with?

I am fairly new to this authors books, but they are so rich with colour and character and in the case of this one wonderful Italian flavours that I could have eaten a bucket of gorgeous pizza and pasta described so well by the author. I was transported away completely with this novel and the warmth of its story emanated off the page in waves and I was swept away to that little part of Italy where I felt I could watch the world go by.

A perfect holiday read and a perfect read if you really need an Italian dream holiday.

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

Chasing the Italian Dream is out now on Kindle and published on 10 June in paperback.

Books · Jottings

Parish Notices

Hello readers, I hope things are well in your parishes?

I thought I might pop on and share some recent books with you, just in case you haven’t had the chance to hear about them.

Hidden Secrets at the Little Village Church – Tracy Rees

A warm and heartfelt book where I wasn’t sure if I could warm to the two main protagonists who I found tiresome, sullen and quite prickly at the beginning. They both needed a good shake, but how wonderful to see such a small task be able to change Gwen and Jarvis and also my perception about them as I learnt more……..Thank you Tracy Rees this book was a pure tonic of a read and if you want to write more like this I for one will certainly be reading them. A little book of pure joy.

Holidays are quite the topic at the moment, but you can escape through reading I promise you and you might even find a mermaid on your travels.

Summer Kisses at Mermaids Point – Sarah Bennett

Laurie Morgan runs a small café, next door to a gift shop that her parents run, her brother Nick can be found on the tour boats in this delightful costal village and her aunt can also be found popping into help in the café. A real family feel to this book and I am sure in subsequent books we will get to know more about them all.

A wonderful escapist novel, which sweeps you away to the seaside, that takes you for a paddle in the waters, to the mouth watering cakes of Laurie’s café as the well as the warmth of the community environment and the strength of family. This book has so many layers of warmth that you will never feel cold reading it!

I do love a bit of history and I highly recommend this read which fascinated me.

The Girl From the Island – Lorna Cook

This is a fascinating book which gives a real insight into life under German occupation on the island and shows the conflicts and battles that the islanders had to face as well as the occupying German forces as well. The book certainly pushed your expectations to make you think of both sides during the war and for that I commend it.

This latest from Lorna Cook, like her previous novels takes an element of history that is perhaps overlooked or not given as much page space and weaves the fact with the fiction to create a story to draw you in and care.

And a latest finish, which has yet to appear on my blog is the latest from Liz Fenwick

Published in the coming days, this is a real delight and a must for fans of historical fiction, family sagas, big houses and the complexity of family.

What have you been reading in your parish? Anything of note? Anything you are looking forward to? I have only ventured to a bookshop once since restrictions lifted and I will endeavour to get there again because there is a lot of books I want to read…and of course so little time.


Murder at Elm House – Helena Dixon

If there is one thing you can rely on it is the fact that Kitty Underhay, the main protagonist in these stories is that she isn’t far from a dead body or two! Her Grandmother implores her to stay out of trouble and stick to running The Dolphin Hotel in Dartmouth, but Kitty now with ability to drive can go further afield now.

In this the sixth instalment, Kitty finds herself visiting Mrs Craven, one of her grandmothers friends and someone who always has their nose into everyone’s business. Kitty finds her quite a challenge and her acid tongue can be quite cutting. Recuperating from an operation at Elm House, Mrs Craven is convinced that something untoward is going on.

There are a lot of comings and goings at strange times of the night and whilst residents should be recuperating there seems to be a high amount of deaths. Kitty cannot help but investigate especially when it seems her attempt to find out what happened to her mother interests many people and puts her forefront of some rather unsavoury characters.

All of these threads that Kitty is investigating along with private investigator, Matt Bryant, who Kitty is now officially stepping out with seems all rather random and unrelated, but as the story goes one the body count gets higher and it seems that perhaps what Kitty was looking for was closer than she first thought.

Still featuring Alice, Kitty’s faithful employee at the hotel and one of my favourite characters for her forthrightness when it comes to Kitty’s behaviour coupled with her unwavering loyalty as well, they make an interesting duo when they investigate together. Dolly, Alice’s sister is working at Elm House and seems she might have innocently seen some of the answers to many of the questions that Kitty and Matt have. I do hope we get to see more of Alice and Dolly in future novels.

As the story reaches it conclusion, of course there are many questions answered, but still Kitty is seeking the truth about her mother and it looks like we might need to wait a bit longer for that one. And as for the fordable Mrs Craven, perhaps the events at Elm House might mellow her? I of course like everyone else will have to wait and see.

This is a delightful series of cosy mysteries set in Dartmouth, Devon in the mid Nineteen Thirties, full of humour, warmth and a bit of romance amongst the body count and the scrapes that Kitty and Matt find themselves in. I recommend you start at the beginning and catch me up!

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

Murder at Elm House is published on 7 June 2021.

Links to my reviews of the previous novels can be found below:

Murder at the Dolphin Hotel – Helena Dixon

Murder at Enderley Hall – Helena Dixon

Murder at the Playhouse – Helena Dixon

Murder on the Dancefloor – Helena Dixon

Murder in the Belltower – Helena Dixon