Books

A Walk in Wildflower Park – Bella Osborne

Originally published in four individual parts, this is the novel in full and in my opinion the best way to read it.

Anna’s life takes a massive turn when she is dumped by her fiance and then moves to a house on the edge of Wildflower Park. A private park for residents and one only accessible by key and location of house.

Determined to concentrate on her career, Anna wants to put all thoughts about men out of her head. That is until she literally bumps into her new colleague and then starts getting mysterious flirty texts from a random stranger.

It seems that Anna is not going to be able to avoid men, but it also means she is going to have to face the past that she has also been avoiding.

Sophie, Anna’s neighbour, colleague and closest friend is frustrated with being a mum and a wife and no one is treating her as Sophie. Pregnant with her third and dealing with all sorts of problems, Sophie makes some radical choices and tries to show how much she does.

I was unsure of where this story could go and whether it would take the all too  familiar path and whilst you could say on the surface it does. Bella Osborne makes her characters face their fears. She handles the sensitive issues with tact and confidence and you feel time and thought has gone into the portrayal and how the characters and ultimately the readers will react.

This is a really strong book with characters who are relatable, humourous and who you can not just sympathises but also empathise with.

A story of the strength of friendship and how no matter how wild life gets – your friend will be the flower you always rely on to keep blooming.

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

A Walk in Wildflower Park is published on 27 Jun

Books

The Bookshop on the Shore – Jenny Colgan

Zoe is a professional child carer as well as mum to Hari. However struggling to afford to live in London when the father of your child tries to make it as a DJ around the country and abroad and rarely pays any attention or money Zoe is starting to struggle.

When an opportunity to escape all of this for a fresh start, Zoe jumps at the chance to take herself and Hari away from it all. Away from it all though happens to be Scotland.

As an au pair to three rather difficult and challenging children – Zoe is going to be ‘Nanny Seven’. Six have gone before and not conquered the problem will Zoe be able to?

With Hari in tow she makes the move.

But has Zoe made a mistake and taken on more than she could possibly deal with?

Not only is she trying to culture a nice environment for these three children and she does work wonders with some really obvious and simple methods. She has also offered to help run the little bookshop in a van whilst the current owner Nina has a baby.

Zoe does not have the knack of Nina in matching books to customer but she has an eye for other books when it comes to her customers as well as the three children.

She starts to make an impact on everyone in the house, in the van and in the community.

When events mean that it looks like Zoe is going to have to move on, it can only possibly take something monumental to change her mind.

But will it happen in time?

This is a great read which took me to the ever changing weather and landscapes of the Highlands of Scotland. Whilst characters first appeared in an earlier novel by Colgan which I had not read, there was enough background to see me through as this book is very much focussed on Zoe and Hari as well as the three children she comes to care for.

Subtly done, some rather difficult situations are encountered, selective mutism, mental health issues in youngsters as well as romance and friendships, the book has so much to give and was one of my favourite reads of 2019 so far.

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

The Bookshop on the Shore is published on 13 June. 

I am going to catch up with Nina, one of the charters in this book in The Little Shop of Happy Ever After so I can experience more wonderful Scottish landscapes and great stories!

Books · Jottings

Parish Notices

Just in case you have missed a few delightful books that I heartily recommend I thought I would just drop you all a note so you can catch up.

The Path to the Sea was published this week and if you like all things Cornwall then this is the book for you

The Path to the Sea works on so many levels and is a book to escape right into and immerse yourself in secrets of history, of life, of family and of love.

My full review can be found here. And if you want to find out more about the author and the choices she amde for this book then please pop across to The Book Trail for a wonderful insight and interview.

I do wax lyrical about Heidi Swain on this blog but her latest book Poppy’s Recipe for Life was published on 30 May.

Something about Heidi’s novels makes me want to move straight in and become involved and if I could meet my own Mr Grumpy and drink elderflower cordial then I think life would be complete. In fact life is complete with any of Heidi Swain’s novels and this latest one is no exception.

And excitingly the Christmas book looks like I could just jump straight in too – but will have to wait until October.

I am not just excited about this book but also this one as well:

The new Emma Davies book which takes us back to some of the characters we met in The House at Hope Corner. Looking for a new author to read and devour then I recommend Emma Davies.

There is of course other series you could be getting stuck into and if you like strong women, plenty of social history and a murder or two then I suggest the Mirabelle Bevan series. The latest book is out now

It is 1957, and the heat of the summer has yet to dissipate in Brighton.

Mirabelle is intrigued by a little girl sat on a bench just near her apartment, this girl is from London but she is recovering at a convalescent home for children so they can benefit from the sea air. The little girl keeps running away from this home and it appears she may be being bullied.

Indian Summer is book number seven but my review will link you to all the series so far, if you want to get a taste of them.

What has been happening around your parish? Anything of note?

* I have received no incentive in promoting these books other than the wish to tell more people about them.

Books

The Au Pair – Emma Rous

Laura was the au pair to Edwin Mayes at Summerbourne whilst she takes a break from her A Levels after some personal events which have left her isolated and alone.

Being holed up in a big house with a delightful little boy to mind seems the perfect remedy. Gorgeous scenery and plenty of space to gather oneself as well as entertain a little inquisitive boy on the Norfolk coast.

Trouble is Laura doesn’t know what she is walking into when she joins Edwin and his parents, Dominic and Ruth at Summerbourne.

Slowly Laura learns that Edwin was in fact a twin.

That twins have been at Summerbourne before and there is some in the village that say the house and twins are cursed.

Seraphine Mayes is mourning the loss of her father, she feels adrift in the world now. Her twin Danny spends a lot of time traveling and her older brother Edwin is not around too much.

Her father’s death has hit her bad and living alone at Summerbourne, the family home she starts to go through some possessions.

She finds a photograph of her mother, holding only one baby – but which one – Seraphine always thought there was something different about her?

Is Laura the key to the past? And will the answers unearth too many secrets and even more lies?

This is an interesting read – whilst it has all the hallmarks of a dark thriller it has something light about the setting of a country home in Norfolk, vast stretches of beach, the sea. It could not have worked but it has combined both for an interesting story, told between two points of view, Laura and Seraphine – you get to see the secrets discovered and can see them happening first hand all at the same time.

I was drawn into it, it kept me reading and whilst some may say it has weak points and perhaps some of the plot was a bit too unbelievable, for a debut novel this was a worthy read. Emma Rous is an author we need to be watching out for in the future.

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

The Au Pair is out on kindle now and published in paperback on 11 July.

Books · Jottings

May Roundup

Here we go then May done and dusted. How did that happen?

I am trying my best to read my shelves as well as all the wonderful (and not so wonderful) books I am lucky enough to get through netgalley.

I aim to do more of the shelf reading as we go into June. But for May I took off Laura Purcell – The Silent Companions which had been hanging around for a while and I don’t know why because I was fascinated with this novel and whilst I have not reviewed I would certainly recommend it to readers who like the gothic and the ghostly.

Another book which has to have been on the shelf even longer was Judy Finnigan – Eloise. This was her first novel and very readable, it kept me hooked and whilst I was intrigued by the characters, despite some of the weakness they had in being fully formed by the author there was something about the writing which felt very simplistic. I have her second to read so I want to see if anything has improved. That said if you want a simple readable novel you cannot go far with this one.

Then you get readable novels which are wonderfully written and cleverly plotted and tell stories of the past and present and this was very much so with Liz Fenwick – The Path to the Sea. The latest novel is for of secret and mystery and the setting is in almost three dimensions it is so wonderfully described. I really must get round to reading the other Liz Fenwick books I have.

I have read some Tilly Tennant books and loved them and I have read some and thought they were missing something and had become a bit pedestrian. But I dived into Tilly Tennant – Hattie’s Home for Broken Hearts and was suitably surprised. Sometimes you have to stick with authors, they can suddenly surprise you!

No more so when I picked up Ali McNamara – Secrets and Seashells at Rainbow Bay another author whose books I was not keen on from the early part of her oeuvre but who has suddenly developed and become someone whos books I really love to read. Her latest is no different and the added bonus of some mystery and some ghosts made it a book to enjoy and probably read again.

Another bonus is a free book and that was the case with Cathy Bramley – We’ll Meet Again whose free short story via Amazon gives some background to the new serialised novel she has coming out soon. I am going to be patient and wait until the whole thing is out and I was really good and did not read the preview which was also included in the short story.

Of course I go back to authors again and again, which is why I visited Emma Davies – The House at Hope Corner having devoured her books last year and was thrilled to be immersed once again and in a wonderful plot and with delightful characters and the expectation of more novels towards the end of the year.

Catching up with a series is always a blessing and I am slightly jealous of people who have yet to start the Mirabelle Bevan series but I thoroughly enjoyed Sara Sheridan – Indian Summer. If you want strong female characters, history and mystery then this is the series for you.

I am a bit behind with Rachel Dove’s series of novels which have been set in Westfield. So with the opportunity to read her latest, I thought I better get on and catch up with the residents which is why I was with Rachel Dove – The Flower Shop on Foxley Street. 

It might seem I read nothing but authors that I know and love and of course I do, but at one time they had to be authors who were new to me and this is the case with Emma Rous – The Au Pair. A debut novel and one that will keep you on the edge of your seat despite its initial flaws, the writing, the plot and the author is one to be intrigued by.

Quite a good month of reading and I also made the decision to let loose a book that I wasn’t getting on with too. Such a relief to not trawl through something that is bringing you no joy whatsoever.

So on with June, I am up to speed with my yearly Goodreads Challenge and of course look out for Six in Six which will make a return for the select few who join in. I would love for you to spread the word when I put the post up.

Happy Reading in June.

Books

The Path to the Sea – Liz Fenwick

Three women, Grandmother, Mother, Daughter and one house – Boskenna almost like the fourth women in this story of secrets and lies and the mystery that can arise from one action and subsequent reactions.

It is the 1960s, the world is still very much in the throws of the Cold War, there is much going on. To get a break from that Joan and her diplomat husband have arrived to spend time in Cornwall, at their home, Boskenna. However it seems that you are never alone.

One weekend, to celebrate her husband’s birthday a house party is underway but there is some undercurrent between the walls, between the guests and between Joan and her husband.

Events take a rather interesting and dangerous course and it is one weekend that no one will ever forget.

Especially Joan’s daughter, Diana.

She witnesses many things, she is apart of everything but is unseen in the shadows as she watches the glamourous people at her fathers party. But some things she sees are forever indelibly seared on her brain and she can always see them, she can always feel the guilt for the events that happened.

She has hardly ever returned to Boskenna but now forced to because of the ill health of her mother, she is going to have to confront her past.

This forces, Diana to be rather distant with her own daughter, Lottie.

Escaping from the disasters of her life in London, Lottie returns to Boskenna to see her grandmother in her final days. Her grandmother apologises, reminiscent of a deathbed confession and Lottie, intrigued by what has happened in the past and very much affected by what has happened to her tries to find out the truth.

This novel is told from all the three main character points of view, to help with your understanding and timeline, chapters are dated so we go between present day and the past.

The writing is so subtle that I was immediately drawn into the house party of Boskenna and the mystery that continued to build around the events and the house had me in mind of Rebecca…….I was convinced that Mrs Danvers was going to appear. Whilst of course she doesn’t the secrets that are tied up in the house and the family are going to have to come out.

In present day telling, the mystery that Lottie was trying to unravel was fascinating and the discovery of diaries and pictures added to it all.

The Cornish setting added to the atmosphere and the author has an uncanny knack of making it all three dimensional away from the page. I could taste the salt in the sea air and feel the heat of the sun.

The Path to the Sea works on so many levels and is a book to escape right into and immerse yourself in secrets of history, of life, of family and of love.

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

The Path to the Sea is published on the 6th June 

Books

Indian Summer – Sara Sheridan

I have been with Mirabelle from the beginning and here I am with her in her seventh book. I have to say it is good to be back, but this is not a book to start the series with, go back and start from the beginning, you will understand the characters, their past and their current dynamics far more that plunging straight in halfway through.

It is 1957, and the heat of the summer has yet to dissipate in Brighton.

Mirabelle is intrigued by a little girl sat on a bench just near her apartment, this girl is from London but she is recovering at a convalescent home for children so they can benefit from the sea air. The little girl keeps running away from this home and it appears she may be being bullied.

Returning her, Mirabelle discovers Uma, a nurse with a past and who seems rather distracted by what is going on in the home. Mirabelle’s intrigue is further piqued when the local priest ends up dead she is found with the body.

Mirabelle appears to be very vulnerable in this novel, she is still coming to terms with the end of her relationship with McGregor, Vesta her assistant is caught up with family life and her new baby and even fellow colleague Bill seems distracted. Mirabelle feels she is very much on her own and when Dr Chris Williams pays her some attention, he seems the perfect escape – but what is he hiding and is he too good to be true.

Mirabelle is still pulled back to the home and the nurses, and when a nurse disappears she cannot leave well alone. Trouble is Mirabelle likes a mystery but she appears to be hindering other operations going on in Brighton, both legal and illegal.

Can Mirabelle survive or will everyone she knows betray her and she will be left to face the consequences alone.

This is an excellent novel and is as strong as the first in the series. I was hooked from the beginning, my mind making all sorts of conclusions to what was going on in that home and what a dead priest and a missing nurse had to do it will all. As the book reached its claustrophobic denouement, I was right not to have trusted some of the characters but was completely way off on what was really going on.

I heartily recommend this book and the series as a whole. If you want to read some great fiction which knocks holes in the glass ceiling of equality in all its diverse forms then this is an author and series for you.

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

Indian Summer is out now. 

The Mirabelle Bevan series is as follows – links take you to my reviews. 

Brighton Belle

London Calling

England Expects

British Bulldog

Operation Goodwood

Russian Roulette