Books

Murder on the Pier – Merryn Allingham

This is the second in the Flora Steele series of novels, which features the aforementioned and crime writer Jack Carrington set in the 1950s in the South Downs.

Time has moved slightly on, since we last saw Flora. Determined to keep the bookshop going and concentrating more on than that than murders it seems that in Abbeymead, peace has resumed.

On a day trip to Brighton, Flora does not expect to find a body floating under the pier and even more she doesn’t expect it to be someone she knows; Polly Dakers.

Polly had her whole life in front of her and was determined to be a model and be noticed, but probably not in this way. Clearly looking like an accident to others, Flora is convinced there is some foul play at work and she is determined to find the truth.

However, with possible suspects and motives stacking up, Flora’s determination finds herself hanging on to life on more than one occasion. All the while at her side is crime writer Jack. A strong friendship developed in the first novel is progressing nicely in this one and it seems that both Flora and Jack are destined to be more than friends. That is if Flora stops getting both of them into scrapes!

This was a delightful sojourn to a cosy crime, and I was thoroughly delighted to have worked out the murderer which is a rare occurrence for me. Always great to have seen the clues and see how it all fits together in the end.

Great historical cosy crime to take you away from everything, even if someone people meet a grizzly end, there seems to be just a gentleness of Flora, Jack and the other residents of Abbeymead. I look forward to going back there.

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

Murder on the Pier is out now.

Books

The Girl from Bletchley Park – Kathleen McGurl

I am always fascinated about stories to do with Bletchley Park, whether fact or fiction, so this choice of book was a must for me.

1942 – Pamela has the chance to go to university and study maths. But she has the opportunity to do something for the war effort and it seems rather unrealistically her skills are in need. Deferring university she finds herself, in the uniform of a Wren and at Bletchley Park. Here she meets lifelong friends, Clarissa, Norah, Edwin and Frank. But whilst she is swept away in the work of the Park and the thought of potential love there is something not quite right about one of these people. Where exactly do their loyalties lie in a time of war?

Julia is Pamela’s granddaughter. Julia’s life seems idyllic, own software company, big house, two growing sons and a happy marriage. However it seems that all is not what it seems in the present day. Julia’s time is completely filled, but when with the help of her brother she find some photos of her grandmother in the place that was Bletchley Park, Julia becomes fascinated by a part of her grandmothers life she knew nothing about.

Whilst the secrets of Pamela’s life comes out through photos and reminiscences of a friend, it is the solace with which Julia finds her self seeking whilst her own life has imploded with it’s own worst kept secrets. As life changes beyond recognition for Julia, she finds herself in the position of thinking about secrets both past and potentially future.

This dual timeline novel was interesting, I liked the strength of both of the main female characters, but found the men to very weak. Perhaps that was the point? But I would have like a bit more of a mix. I could positively have shaken Julia’s husband. This is a great insight into the work of those at Bletchley Park and a good piece of historical fiction.

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

The Girl from Bletchley Park is out now.

Books

A Murder Inside – Frances Brody

It is 1969 and this is the first in what will be a series of books from the author. Dealing with strong female characters find us the readers meeting Nell Lewis, the new governor at HMP Brackerly Edge in Yorkshire.

This is to be the first open prison for women and Nell is tasked with bringing this palace into a more modern setting, not just in terms of buildings but also those who work within the walls, the grounds and the local area.

However, there is some background with these female prisoners who are towards the end of their sentences. Surely it can’t have anything to do with the previous governor being found dead his garden – found dead by Nell herself.

Nell finds herself drawn back to her previous days as a WPC and calls on the support of a former colleague all the while trying to help these women, all who have their own paths to forge once they can escape the prison system and stigma.

This is a great start to a series and the setting and the idea behind it is unique and one that fascinates me. I hope we don’t have to wait too long before we can catch up with Nell and see how HMP Brackerly Edge is faring as the world starts changing around them all.

If you are a fan of the historical cosy mystery, female dominated and like the idea of starting a new series then I think this is one to keep your eye on.

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

A Murder Inside is out now.

Books

Christmas Carols and a Cornish Cream Tea – Cressida McLaughlin

Meredith is not a fan of Christmas, and does her utmost to avoid for the last ten years. However her new job in a Cornish gift shop means that she has no choice but to embrace the festive season.

When her boss wants to give hampers to the great and good of Porthglow, Meredith finds herself suddenly thrust into the festive season. Coupled with helping her best friend Anisha to create a last minute Christmas spectacular for Porthglow, Meredith cannot help become swept away.

Then enters Finn, as Meredith emerges from her cold water swimming, she meets Finn. And he seems to keep popping up everywhere around the little village and volunteers to help deliver the hampers. Finn embraces the true Christmas spirit and is determined for Meredith to see what Christmas can really be like, but he is not telling all and seems to be keeping something hidden.

This booked is packed full of Christmas, Cornish coastlines, Cold Water swimming, Carols, Charm and plenty of Curiosity to keep the reader guessing about whether; the festive hampers will be a success; the blossoming relationship between Finn and Meredith and who really owns the house on the cliff, that Meredith has dreamed about for a long time.

This is not a follow on from the previous Cornish Cream Tea novels, but some familiar faces do appear, but no matter if this is your first encounter with this authors work. It is an excellent Christmas read to get you in the spirit full of light, life and love. Perfect!

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

Christmas Carols and a Cornish Cream Tea is out now.

Books

Shipyard Girls Under the Mistletoe – Nancy Revell

As this series reaches Christmas 1944, anyone who knows about the Second World War will realise that the end is in sight. And so it seems it must be for the wonderful Shipyard Girls who I have been with since the beginning, who I have shared ups and downs with, tears and laughter with and that whenever I pick up the latest novel I am picking up with lost friends.

Dorothy shares a special kiss with someone who hasn’t proposed to her. She is in complete turmoil, as she doesn’t know what she should do for the best. Her friends all tease her, but dep down they all love Dorothy and want the best for her and just maybe the person on the other end of that kiss is the right one after all!

Helen Crawford, manager of the shipyard where the women work is still battling with her mother, who has appeared back on the scene and with the behaviour of her grandfather, Charles Havelock. A man everyone despises, but seems to always come up smelling of roses. Testament to how well a character is portrayed, Charles Havelock makes you want to throw your book across the room. The secrets that are being revealed over the course of previous books as well as this one are shocking and the current behaviour sees Helen question her own family closely and whether she will find her happy ever after.

Of course we still get to see all the other wonderful characters, Polly, Gloria, Rosie and Hannah to name a few and of course little stories are weaved amongst the main plots, so we know that there is more loose ends to tie up. So excellently written and so heartfelt in making sure that whilst good always overcomes evil, eventually! The spirit of the war, the strength of communities in adversity leaps from the page and it is full of plucky women at the centre. What more could you want from a saga?

As the Shipyard Girls, the Second World War and us readers reach the conclusion of this wonderful saga, I cannot wait for the final book in the series.

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

The Shipyard Girls Under the Mistletoe is out now.

If you wish to know more about this series, then please search my blog for all the previous reviews.

Books

A Special Cornish Christmas – Phillipa Ashley

Bo Grayson loves Christmas and she thinks this year is going to be even more wonderful as she gets to spend it with the one she loves. Until he decides on Christmas eve that perhaps trying again with his fiancé might be a better option.

Bo heartbroken, decides that she will throw herself into all the other wonderful and enjoyable parts of her life. Her café is popular and she has a band of loyal local customers as well as the holiday makers but she still wants to give more. Then there is her hobby with the Falford Flingers – a rock and roll dance group which bleeds into her own personal style which makes her unique from a lot of other women.

Ran, has noticed Bo before, but his heart is also battered and bruised and merely looks from afar. However, along with Bo’s friend April for fun at a fete go and see what Madame Odette predicts for them all. All come out with the same result it seems – a generic “you will meet the love of your life by Christmas”. Looking for love is the last thing all three of them would be thinking about, however it seems that love can come in many forms and guises.

Phillipa Ashley has created another wonderful Cornish tale of Christmas, community and somehow brings the world of rock and roll dancing to life from the page as I am sure I was tapping my foot along as the Falford Flingers – flung each other round various dance floors and with varying partners!

A wonderful joyous book for a Christmas read which brought together, the delicious smells and tastes of Christmas, the Cornish coastline, the crafts that can help us heal and the wonderful added bonus a sprinkling of romance just like the sprinkling of snow we all want at Christmas.

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

A Special Cornish Christmas is out now.

Books

Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop – Helen Rolfe

Butterbury Sewing Box has been in the family for years and Loretta loves running it, and enjoyed all the time she spent with her three daughters in the shop. Creating wonderful family items but also creating memories with her girls; Daisy, Ginny and Fern.

As Christmas approaches once again, Loretta is saddened by how fractured her family has become and that her daughters do anything to spend as little time together as possible. Loretta with some help from her father, hatch a little plan to make this a Christmas more special than any other.

We get to see each of the girls in turn, and the story goes between all of them, including their mother. Daisy the youngest stayed after tragedy struck the family and whilst she knows her stuff in the Sewing Box, photography is her real passion.

Middle daughter Ginny, is a midwife and has spend her years travelling everywhere and spending as little time as possible in Butterbury than she has to. But being back in the village and bumping into past friends and relishing the joy she once got out of creating, Ginny thinks maybe coming home now was the right thing to do.

Fern, the eldest and the one who has to be in control is slowly unravelling it seems. Some simple moments of forgetfulness and the pressure she puts on herself it seems that she is heading for burnout. Going back home is going to be the toughest for Fern.

AS the three women come back home, they discover the past has not been forgotten and that they need to all work out their differences and at the same time get to the bottom of their mother’s request for them to be home at this particular Christmas.

It also turns out Loretta does have a few secrets of her own and they are not what you think they are going to be.

As Christmas looms and their aim to finish their piece of creative collaboration for their grandfather finally comes together, it seems that the three sisters have sewn something else together as well. What a wonderful present for them all.

This is the second visit to Butterbury, first featured in The Little Cottage in Lantern Square and like that one, is full of the wonders that types of craft can bring to a community as well as individuals. This made the book more wonderful for me as crafts is something I love to do as well. I hope there are more tales to come from Butterbury and if they are at Christmas even better!

The perfect book; full of community, cheer, and Christmas!

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

Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop is out now.

Books · Jottings

November Roundup

Where has this year gone? In a blink of eye we have one month to go. As the new from the world of the pandemic seems worrying, we have to hunker down and forge through.

And that is what I have done in terms of my November reading and I have to say might have reached peak Christmas reading! However I have reached 100 books ahead of schedule, so now it is a case of how many books will I read in 2021!

But that is a mere 31 days away so what about the November books I hear you ask, so without further ado……

Full of Christmas in all it’s forms and with plenty to make you hungry especially with Alex Brown – A Cosy Christmas at Bridget’s Bicycle Bakery the thought of freshly baked sourdough had my mouth watering and having it delivered by the welcoming and wonderful Bridget would make anyone’s Christmas complete.

A cream tea is one of my most favourite things to and without putting on an ounce of weight I managed to delight in Cressida McLaughlin – Christmas Carols and a Cornish Cream Tea. And with the descriptions of the hampers, made me want to splurge this festive season from my favourite hamper place!

Another about Christmas is all the crafts you can partake in and I am partial to one or two of them which is why Helen Rolfe – Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop appealed to me and was a real heart warming novel of how crafts can bring family and community together.

I think most Christmastimes I normally pick up a Phillipa Ashley and this year was no different and for this year I was back in Cornwall, rock and rolling by way through Phillipa Ashley – A Special Cornish Christmas which was full of delicious food, crafts and some nifty footwork. A great way to spend a Christmas.

With all the Christmas there is always time to look at times gone by and as this saga draws o its natural conclusion, I find myself looking for a new series to get my teeth into. In the meantime I was delighted to finally see the end of the war in sight in Nancy Revell – Shipyard Girls under the Mistletoe. There is still some bad apples to sort out, but the future look like it will throw up some wonderful happy endings.

With no Christmas but plenty of history I was thrust into the 1880s with Claire Evans – The Fourteenth Letter a book that had been hanging around on my shelf for a while. A strange novel that had me hooked because I wanted to know what was going on and not because it was good. I am not sure as I reached the end that I did know what was happening?

I definitely didn’t know what was going at Bletchley Park and I am not sure I would have been a good code breaker during the warm but it is a place that fascinates and I think I would have enjoyed my time there. As did Kathleen McGurl – The Girl from Bletchley Park who with a dual timeline novel takes us back and looks at where secrets are all around us.

No more secrets for November’s reading that’s for sure. So on with December, there is plenty to be reading on my kindle thanks to netgalley, but I think only a few more Christmas/Winter themed novels will slip through at this point.

In the meantime, on with advent, the decorations and the festivities!