Books

Christmas at the Beach Hut – Veronica Henry

Lizzy loves Christmas and she loves her family, but when they decide that their lives are slightly more important than family tradition at Christmas Lizzy has had enough.

She leaves a note and decamp to The Beach Hut.

Harley knows he cannot live a moment longer with Tony, his stepfather. If he does he will be pushed to take action which won’t help his mother, Leanne or little brother River.

Harley decides to leave and decamp to The Beach Hut.

Jack decides he wants to have a different Christmas this year with his young son Nat. Still grieving for his wife, he sees this Christmas as the start of something new.

Jack decides to leave his family behind and decamp to The Beach Hut.

Of course these three sets of characters and their backstories are all thrown together especially as Christmas is going to be very different this year.

This is a heartwarming story and ideal for Christmas reading. Lizzy embraces the mild panic (that many probably feel) when having to be the main organiser of Christmas and it is not until someone stops doing something do the rest of the family realise how much she does. It was bittersweet to watch how Lizzy’s husband Simon and the twins, Hattie and Luke suddenly feel completely lost without that one person to ground them all. Add into the mix a secret Lizzy is hiding and it might be Christmas will not ever be the same again.

Harley, devastated that his father is now incarcerated and not even allowed to mention him in front of his mother is struggling to cope with being an adult. To take himself out of a situation but watch as his mother and brother still suffer with a different type of incarceration means he feels  helpless at what he can do. Sometimes strangers put things in perspective and help in unexpected ways.

I fell adorably in love with Jack and Nat. The father struggling to be a single dad to Nat, who though misses his mum just simply wants to make sure that Father Christmas will know they are at the beach hut. Even if it does not have a chimney. When Jack and Nat are welcomed by Lizzy and Harley, it seems that you can perhaps see life in a different way and that the future does not necessarily have to be so bleak.

This is a great Christmas read and a wonderful example of Veronica Henry’s writing. A great place to start if you have never read anything by this author before. She has some real gems of novels and this is certainly one of them!

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

Christmas at The Beach Hut is out now. 

And I must get round to reading more Veronica Henry!

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Books · Jottings

Challenge Completed!

Just a quick interruption to reviews to say that I have reached the goal I set myself back at the beginning of the year. 

I did consider adjusting the goal but decided that was not the original plan so I am going to simply keep on reading and see where I get to at the end of the year. Then maybe it might be a different figure for 2019.

I am not sure why I have hit the target now as the last few years it has gone right to the last day of December.

Have the books been shorter? Have I not watched as much television? Have the books and authors been so good that I have had to keep reading? Whatever the answer I think this is the first year in six when I have got there with days to spare.

So if you will excuse me I better get back to the reading……..

Books

Christmas at the Little Cottage on the Hill – Emma Davies

Ruby takes her ten-year old son, Jem and baby, Darcie and takes them away from everything they know. It it the beginning of December and they are not moving to another town but this time the countryside. She doesn’t have any regrets taking herself and her children away from the bullying man she married but it seems to be affecting Jem greatly and Ruby is taking the brunt of it.

When she arrives a Joy’s Acre to stay temporarily in one of the renovated cottages, she finds herself overwhelmed with joy, love, friendship, a wedding and snow!

The local woodsman Angus makes himself useful at the cottage, bringing wood to the keeps fires always going in the cold weather and also inspiring her young son to take his anger and frustration about having had to move again through looking what nature can do and the joy it can bring.

Whilst it seems Jem is settling, Ruby finds herself being thrown into helping with the wedding and reception party at Joy’s Acre of its owners Seth and Maddie. Her skills as a knitter and craft fan mean that she is much in demand when the tree arrives that needs decorating.

Then the snow starts and doesn’t stop. That throws everyone’s plans into disarray and when the power cut comes it seems that the Christmas that they were all planning is not going well.

Amongst all the wedding plans Jem goes missing, as the snow is drifting and the power has gone out. Has Ruby’s idea of a dream Christmas been shattered? Will she ever stop hiding and believe in the power of good people, love and friendship? But only if they find Jem.

This book really has everything, plenty of wonderfully described scenery, the smell of Trixie’s baking as she whips up delights for all those working at Joy’s Acre, Clara’s abilities with flowers and gardening, Tom’s thatching and the whole of joy of being at Joy’s Acre. There is plenty to make you laugh and lots to make you cry as well. It is a well-rounded story, with characters to get to know who are constructed so well and develop as the book progresses that it is a joy to know them. I wanted to go and stay at Joy’s Acre immediately.

The place is simply brought to life as is the story and is a book that should read!

This is the final book in the series of the Little Cottage on the Hill. I would heartily recommend reading all of them in order (my OCD kicking in) because that way you’ll understand the draw of Joy’s Acre, as well as experience such strong writing and characterisation.

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

Christmas at the Little Cottage on the Hill is out now. 

 

There are plenty of female authors out there writing series of books pigeonholed as women’s fiction and some are simply passable but others like this one are a must read and have had me hooked. So much that I binge read the first two and then was there when the third was released, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to read this one via netgalley. 

I have only reviewed the last book as it was a netgalley request I was simply enjoying reading the others and as regular readers to this blog should know I don’t always review every book I read. 

Having read a lot of women’s fiction for the last couple of years, I am starting to get a bit more pickier in the authors and books I pick up. Netgalley can introduce to some great and not so great (in my humble opinion) and I found myself getting caught up in reading everything by a particular author when it was only just ‘blah’. I have made a conscious decision not to do that anymore especially when I read books such as this one and know there is some quality writing out there. 

 

 

 

Books

The Mother of All Christmases – Milly Johnson

Meet three women who through one common denominator are going to be friends forever – they are all pregnant.

But that is the only common thing between them all.

Eve, pregnant and due on Christmas Day owns and runs the Winter Wonderland theme park which was featured in a previous Johnson novel. You don’t have to have read it to make any sense of this story, but it was lovely to meet back up with familiar characters.

Having a baby is not really a problem, but when there are other distractions and some dangerous accidents going on, is Eve really safe to carry on working there?

Annie, childless and now content with her life with her italian husband, Joe runs the cracker factory which specialises not just in the mass market ones but also handmade, bespoke ones too. But as she ages, the inevitable she thinks is happening that is until she is told that she is in fact pregnant and not going through the menopause. Utter joy fills both Annie and Joe.

Palma agreed to be a surrogate for a couple she thought could not have children. It was the way she was able to access money and get herself out of the life she found herself in. She wanted better and she was not afraid to work for it, but she needs to escape her past. Trouble is the couple split up and Palma is left with some very difficult choices.

Coming together at their Doctor’s new Christmas Pudding Club the women forge a friendship and we get to see them as they go through the highs and lows of their impending motherhood.

Add into that, some unsavoury character, cracker making, a wedding, an important boxing match and of course Christmas and there is much packed into this novel. It made me laugh out loud and it made me cry with joy and sadness. What more could you want or need from a novel?

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

The Mother of All Christmases is published on the 15th November. 

Books

Snowflakes at Lavender Bay – Sarah Bennett

Libby has lived all her life in Lavender Bay and whilst she has seen her friends go and gravitate back to the place she has no desire to leave it. Lavender Bay is her world and she is quite happy about that fact.

However her friends, Eliza and Beth both have romance in their lives and this is something that perhaps if Libby admitted it to herself she craves as well.

When Owen walks into the local pub and all of their lives, it seems that he is going to be a permanent feature in Lavender Bay.

Owen and Libby seem to rub each other up the wrong way and you can see the sparks fly whenever they get into conversation with each other. But perhaps with them sparks comes a little flame of desire?

That is if Libby can make up her mind what she wants – and also what she really wants to do with her life?

Libby does not want to run the fish and chip shop – she has a fancy for cream teas and scones.

Her dad thinks she should see some of the world when he retires and sells the fish and chip shop they run. Only trouble is that he hasn’t told her this…..so he goes ahead and sells the shop.

Will the new owner of the fish and chip shop reveal their identity or will Libby carry on trying to create her dream life without knowing all the facts?

This is the final part of the Lavender Bay trilogy and probably was my favourite of the three. It can easily be read as a standalone but if you do decide to read them all – in order then you will see how cleverly this novel has been almost woven on top of the previous two as you see things from Libby and Owen’s point of view.

There is something about being taken to the seaside as winter comes in, as the tourists go home and only the hardy locals understand that community has to survive in all seasons. The snow (which is not really common by the beach I live by) adds an almost magical element to the story and gives it a real wintry feel.

A great read for those cold wintry nights – even the warm ones too!

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

Snowflakes at Lavender Bay is published on 8 November. 

You can see all my reviews of Sarah Bennett’s books here 

Sunrise at Butterfly Cove

Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove

Christmas at Butterfly Cove

Spring at Lavender Bay

Summer at Lavender Bay

 

Books · Jottings

October Roundup

What a funny old month – the reading slowed down and then has sped up at a great speed due to illness and not being able to sleep! At this point I am grateful to my kindle, but not so grateful to whoever gave me an ear & chest infection along with laryngitis. It has been a quiet and deaf last few days of October.

Anyway, enough of my ailments – what about the books?

In a bid to make a dent in my own bookshelves I only managed to read Katie Fforde – A Secret Garden. A classic Katie Fforde and a perfect piece of escapism. There is something rather comforting relying on particular authors to transport you away, which is why I was eager to read Jenny Colgan – Island Christmas.

I stumble across this series of Colgan books by accident and devoured them all up and then had to wait to continue the wonderful story of the lives and characters of the fictitious island of Mure, based on an island in the Hebrides. If a book inspired you to go somewhere it was these books – in a busy and demanding world sometimes the thought of escape to recapture oneself is a dream.

I am also just discovering more of Milly Johnson’s work and so to take another book that has been languishing on my netgalley shelf this time I picked up Milly Johnson – The Perfectly Imperfect Woman. It had everything in a story that I like and made me keep coming back for more.

Trouble when you start a series of books and you are hooked, you do have to keep coming back for more, which is why I got hold of the last in the trilogy of Lavender Bay Sarah Bennett – Snowflakes at Lavender Bay. I know series have to end, but there are some of the characters I always want to go back and see again – that was this book.

Trying to lose some of what some people might call ‘fluffy’ reading I picked up Lesley Kara – The Rumour. I love rumours, what starts out as something innocent can snowball and gather pace until it bears no resemblance to the truth. But what if some rumours are actually pure simple truth? I say no more, but I think this a book that you are going to have to look out for when published at the end of the year.

Rumours is how many an Agatha Christie is solved, that innocent piece of gossip actually leads Poirot or Marple to the truth. In bid to make my way through her body of work and because I caught the adaptation on the television a while back I picked up Agatha Christie – After the Funeral. Some might think it bizarre to read after the watch, and for the majority I would agree. But when it comes to Dame A sometimes a little prior knowledge means that I approach the book as a challenge and see if I can see the clues.

Rumours and clues and then of course there is secrets. Moving away from women’s fiction, Lily Graham is branching out into dual time narrative historical fiction and she is winning the race. Lily Graham – The Paris Secret is a book which reminds you of the innocence of love during wartime and what some of the consequences could be. Fascinating.

Finally, I got to Joanna Nell – The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village which is another book been hanging around the netgalley shelf. It is a lovely quiet read, that takes you all the way to Australia – I did not realise this until about two-thirds of the way through the book. (*rolls eyes*). I did not even pick it up from the language, but it tells the story of the women in a retirement village who are not quite yet ready to retire from living a life!

So that was October, and whilst I write this in November and having already finished one book I am hoping that the lurgy dispatches soon as much as I enjoy all the stories, I would like some actual sleep at night.

Books

The Moon Sister – Lucinda Riley

Here I am at the fifth story in The Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley. I had only just finished The Pearl Sister and this arrived, I debated whether to wait and look forward to reading it or diving straight in.

I chose the latter.

Tiggy D’Aplièse is the fifth of the girls to be adopted by Pa Salt, the billionaire who has died at the beginning of all these novels and leaves clues as to where he found all of his daughters. I can recall Tiggy being mentioned in previous novels, but her presence perhaps is not as dominant as her other sisters. It is in this book that we learn about Tiggy.

i is intuitive when it comes to animals and has a sense about her, that perhaps the rest of us don’t. Despite opportunities that could perhaps take her all over the world, Tiggy follows a path to the wilds of Scotland when she introduces wildcats to the Kinnaird Estate and whilst she stays to settle them in thanks to an offer from the Laird, Charlie she also sense another purpose whilst she is there.

Chilly has been on the Kinnaird Estate for a number of years and whilst the way he chooses to live his life, might seem strange to many, his sixth sense knows that one day he will meet a girl and send her back home – that girl is Tiggy.

That home is Granada, Spain.

And so Tiggy and us are taken back to 1930s Spain, the Spanish Civil War is not far away. But in the shadow of the Alhambra, Sacramonte, is a village in the caves of the hills where the gitano’s (gypsies) have settled after being driven out of the main city.

Here is where Tiggy learns of another life, another world, a place where her spiritual side makes sense and her the vibrations that not just come from here senses but the feet of the flamenco dancers.

The most famous of the area being Lucia, Tiggy’s grandmother.

The author, transported me back to this place, the darkness of the caves, the problems that the gitanos faced being on the outer edges of the city, of society, of religion, of what was considered normal behaviour. But showed a community brought together by all that makes them different, the culture, the music and of course the dance.

Words are lyrical, they can take you somewhere, they can form pictures in your imagination. But in this book, the description of the flamenco dancing and the music, but the flamenco especially, just resonates off the page. You can feel the vibrations of the feet, as they stamp and form, as the beat increases, as the arms move in almost synchronicity to the feet, as the dress is moved in time to the music and as the appreciative audience are held spellbound by such a display.

And so the story knits together as Tiggy unpicks her past, finds out where she came from and why she ended up being looked after by Pa Salt. I have had my ideas since the very beginning of this series about Pa Salt and in this book, as Tiggy is the more spiritual one, she begins to pick up thoughts and feelings, that any of the other sisters, but everything just seems out of reach. Only time will tell as the series moves on.

From Scotland, where estates, struggle to survive, in a less feudal world, to the city and heat of Spain, where those lesser classes are kept on the outskirts and treated with contempt and suspicion. To the mystery of the unknown, to that sixth sense that perhaps we all have when all we have to do is trust in what we believe and what we see.

I think like all the previous novels, I have learnt so much about something perhaps I did not know enough about and also been transported to places I will perhaps never get to see. This is for me the beauty of dual narrative books such as these. The past is place which we should not forget because it is very much what forms our future as it is for the six sisters in this series of novels.

I wait with great anticipation for the next book and Electra’s story.

Thank you the publisher for sending me this book in advance for review. I am eternally grateful to keep learning of the seven sisters, to escape into a well written world and books that show storytelling at its best. 

I am a fan of Lucinda Riley, but I write all my reviews honestly and feel lucky to be able to read her stories sometimes in advance of publication. 

The Moon Sister is published on 1 Nov 2018.