Books

Shipyard Girls at War – Nancy Revell

Rosie is still in charge of the woman welders in the shipyard. Their novelty has yet to wear off but slowly over time others are starting to notice the part these women are playing in the Second World War. Rosie though has secrets outside of the shipyard and with these to protect, falling in love with a policeman is not going to help her circumstances or her heart one bit.

Hannah is one of the weaker members of Rosie’s team and she joined the war effort because she wanted to do something that was going to punish Hitler for what he had done to her homeland. Whilst she may not have the strength for the welding, she has other unknown skills and whilst the others have been covering for her for so long, something now has to change, before she loses her job.

Polly is using her work in the shipyard to escape the fact that her brother has died fighting. The return of her other brother wounded and no longer fit for service is making for a very tense atmosphere at an already crowded home. Coupled with this is the worry that her man, Tommy has now left the shipyard to do his bit in the Navy.

Bel, Polly’s sister-in-law and childhood friend is struggling to cope with the death of her husband Teddy, trying to bring up a small child and the reappearance of Teddy’s twin brother Joe does nothing to calm her. As time goes on, can she cope with a constant reminder of her past, especially when her mother Pearl turns up out of the blue.

Gloria is hiding a secret, not just the fact that she is pregnant and the owners of the shipyard have yet to make that discovery but also that her husband Vinnie, has reappeared and thinks he can start again and that of course this time he will be different. Gloria finds some strength, and she is going to need it when the baby decides it is going to be born where and when it wants to be.

Dorothy and Angie are girls who just want some fun and a good man on their arm, they work hard but they play hard to and despite coming from different backgrounds to the others they fit into the team nicely. Martha is mysterious, she is the strongest and biggest of the team and hardly speaks, although her sense of humour is just starting to come through just when they all need it.

Whilst not all of these characters feature prominently in the storyline of this second novel in the series, they are still fully rounded characters. The story follows on from the first novel in the series, it is 1941 and the war is making itself very well-known in the town of Sunderland where the shipyard is based. Of course the war is the background to the story but it is what is happening with these women which kept me hooked and reading voraciously.

When I picked this book up to read I did not realise that I was picking up the second (don’t you just hate it when that happens!) and whilst I started reading it, I felt like I was missing out on something. So I stopped reading and went to buy the first one, which I flew through and then quite happily picked this one back up with all those missing feelings now gone.

Don’t think you will have to read the first, it does give you enough background to enjoy the story straight away without simply regurgitating the first book. However I felt I was not quite in touch with the characters enough and I certainly did not care about them or what happened to them with the story that had gone on before which is the reason I chose to go back a book.

If you are a fan of sagas then this is the book and series for you. From the ending there will be definitely be a book three, as there is so much more to learn about these characters, about the shipyard and about how the Second World War affects the choices they make.

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

Both The Shipyard Girls and Shipyard Girls at War are out now. 

Books

The Apple Orchard – Veronica Henry

In the charming town of Peasebrook, there’s a place for everyone. War vet Joe has made new friends and a new home for himself here, overlooking a beautiful apple orchard. But when tragedy strikes and Joe is left out in the cold, it will bring them all together in entirely unexpected ways.

If you have never read any Veronica Henry and perhaps you fancy having a go then do seek out this ebook exclusive which is currently on sale for £0.00 (at time of creating this post). In it you will get a lovely story from the town of Peasebrook which is where How To Find Love in a Bookshop is set. The link will take you to my review.

There is an extract from her forthcoming novel The Forever House which will be published on the 18 May and my review will be up on this blog a week before. If you cannot wait that long and follow me on Goodreads then you will find it there already.

Books

The Kicking the Bucket List – Cathy Hopkins

Iris has created a kicking the bucket list – but the list ironically is not for her to complete before she dies.

It is in fact for her three daughters, Rose, Dee and Fleur to complete in the space of twelve months following Iris’ death. Iris sees it as a way of bringing her daughters closer to her, despite her being gone and also to show them that whatever may be going on in their lives that they ultimately have each other. For Iris, their estrangement has gone on too long, it cannot go on past her death.

The stipulation of this list is that they cannot claim the inheritance until after the twelve months has passed and they have completed all of the tasks.

It is going to be a tough year for these three women. Rose is the eldest, controlling, critical, organised and very uptight, she is hiding something from her sisters. Dee is about to lose her home and any sort of base she has ever had, she cannot find the man to make her happy. Fleur is a flighty as her name suggests to me, although successful she is alone and without any real purpose.

Will the tasks that their late mother has left them, show them what life can really be like?

The tasks are very wide-ranging and seemingly come out of nowhere, but all of them when looked at together are there to enable them to reflect. However, despite their late mother’s hope and messages in setting all of this up, it seems as if the three sisters are never going to get on.

This is a book which has a bucketful of emotions in it. At times you are going to laugh, to cry and to stop and reflect about your own place in the world and the relationships you have within that. It also makes you realise that you really do not know what is going on in people’s lives, especially those close to you and perhaps all it will need is five minutes to reconnect.

As an only child the dynamic between the sisters is intriguing and engaging as a storyline and I have read books using a similar concept to the plot, but this one was captivating and kept me reading. Well worth a read.

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

The Kicking the Bucket List is out now. 

Books

March Roundup

2017 is marching on and it is yet time to reflect back at what I have read this month. A varied choice and one where it really reflects that I am reading as I fancy and trying not to be dictated to by deadlines. This can be a challenge when so many lovely books have been appearing on netgalley. I am determined to get that feedback ratio to a better number!

Amazingly and I noticed it – all but one of the nine books I read this month were on my kindle. How I missed holding a book, in fact I am sure I craved it at times. When I did pick up a book I went to a well trodden series and one I am enjoying James Runcie – Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins. I would like to complete the whole collection of these in terms of reading the hardback copies which are beautiful in themselves, providing the publisher does not change the artwork near the end of the series.

I love a charming novel that you can sink your teeth into and escape for a few hours and when the novel is published as a whole it will be one I will recommend but luckily I got to finish reading Shelia Norton – The Vets at Hope Green: Too Close to Home and Shelia Norton – The Vets at Hope Green: A New Start. There will be more on this blog about the book in the weeks to come.

I noticed that Tilly Tennant had a new novel coming out and it appeared to be a follow on to one that I had on my kindle (thanks to netgalley) and I thought perhaps I had inadvertently stumbled into another series of books, published as short stories first before the final novel. However with Tilly Tennant – Rome is Where the Heart is I got a whole novel (a good 300 pages) and fell in love with Rome and the characters who now I have to go back and revisit in the next part. Luckily I have that to read and cannot wait to go back and be part of their lives again.

Going back to authors you know is always comforting and reassuring especially when you know what you’re going to get. Going to Dinah Jefferies – Before the Rains meant that not only was I going to get an excellent story I was going to learn something at the same time. This time I was transported to India, a time which was changing as British Rule was coming to its end. A fascinating tale.

I do love my history and I suppose with Andrew Wilson – A Talent for Murder I was getting some more that. Except this book which I think you are going to see a lot when it is published in May. It’s main character is Agatha Christie herself – bet that got your attention! I say no more at this time.

Of course going back to what you know and love is always good, but finding something new to read is just as! This is why I have discovered the wonderful tale of Jennifer Bohnet – Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera. 

A perfect read when on holiday or a read when you want to escape from the dull greyness and want some bright sunshine and good story.

All books are an escape perhaps some more than others, lots make you think when you least expect it. Cathy Hopkins – The Kicking the Bucket List is an example of that.

This is a book which has a bucketful of emotions in it. At times you are going to laugh, to cry and to stop and reflect about your own place in the world and the relationships you have within that.

Then there is the sheer joy that books can bring, just simply by the story they tell and the feeling you get when you have read it, knowing that behind the bright colourful cover there was something to be found. The cover of Poppy Dolan – The Bluebell Bunting Society made me smile before I had even read it.

As March ends I am in fact in the middle of reading three books which is very unlike me. Luckily they are all different, in different eras that I have been able to achieve this without my brain going into a complete meltdown. What I do need to do though is to start finishing them (if you excuse the oxymoron) there are plenty of books waiting in the wings.

You may have noticed a slight difference in blog layout and colours, I hope it is not too offensive on the eye, but felt like a fresh change. It is Spring after all.

 

Books

Rome is Where the Heart is – Tilly Tennant

Kate is married to Matt, they were childhood sweethearts who made the next step.

The next step probably should have been children. But for Matt it was separation.

The next step for Kate is unknown. She is in a dead-end job, which she tolerates, just and her love is for dressmaking.

At the chance to change her life, she books herself a holiday to Rome, on her own. It is time she did something with her life.

At the airport she meets Jamie, who helps guide her through a city so she can see just as much of the tourist attractions as she does of the real Rome. However, Jamie has problems of his own and it is when he leaves Kate alone she finds herself on the Spanish Steps.

That is where Alessandro finds her.

Kate had not gone to Rome to find love,but something has captured her love, for the place, the buildings, the way of life, the food, the people and Alessandro is determined to make an impact on her life and a dent in her heart in the time she is there.

Trouble is Alessandro has five sisters, a strong matriarch family head and a rather jealous ex. It is never going to go well for Kate, especially as tragic events back in England means she has to go back home.

Will Alessandro just be a past ghost or will Kate be able to maintain the dream of Rome, of Love whilst back in Manchester.

The book did start off a bit slowly for me, but it picked up pace once Kate was in Rome and I flew through the pages and the story as if I was a tourist in Rome itself. Tennant has brought the characters to life very well, I could almost sense the expectation in Alessandro’s home when Kate first goes there. Just as much as I could feel the despair and desolation when Kate returns home to finalise some issues and put a closure on one part of her life. I was most annoyed at her elder sister Anna, who seemed to be ready to take over Kate’s life, her constant interference whilst well-meant was positively irritating. But for me those feelings and emotions are the sign of a writer who has created a story which gets under your skin and characters who you actually care about.

Another book to escape on holiday with, without even having to get out of your pajamas for.

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

Rome is Where the Heart is out now. 

The second A Wedding in Italy is out soon and I am looking forward to catching up on the characters lives!

 

Books

Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera – Jennifer Bohnet

Rosie has had this dream of running her own cafe and she gets the chance to make that a reality when she decides she has had enough of being a slave for someone else to earn the credit and the money and sets out on her own to revamp and relaunch Cafe Fleur on the French Riviera. However a famous chef has taken over the hotel next door and is relaunching that, it seems that Rosie’s dreams are dashed before they even become a reality.

Despite Rosie being the main protagonist in this novel, as the title suggests. There are in fact other women struggling with their own dreams. Erika dreamt of love ever after with Pascal and their daughter, running her own small business to appeal to an eclectic sort of shopper. However, it seems fate had other ideas and now Erika has to make some decisions about how she is going to spend her life and how it is going to affect her daughter.

GeGe is struggling to make ends meet. As an estate agent, she never knows when the next sale is going to be and  with the rent on her desk going up, she needs to break out on her own. With some part-time work offered through a friend, GeGe hits upon an idea.

If these three women did not have enough to contend with, there is the added complication of old love wanting another chance and new love being rather circumspect in their actions. Add in a mother with a toy boy and a mother in law who thinks she should have more say and you have a novel that is full of character and a story which keeps you reading. My only criticism of the novel, is that I did not know how all these English people happened to be in the Riviera, more because I am nosy and want to know how they ended up there. It does not in any way detract from the plot.

The escapism of this novel is simple in its idea. The blue sky and sea of the Riviera, the walking along the shore line as the waves gently move in and out. The warmth of the sun that lasts well into the evening as it sets creating a  backdrop for anyone with a view to envy. The descriptions of the food as the cafe makes it mark as tourists and locals, sit,sip coffee, eat croque monsieur and watch the world go by,

A perfect read when on holiday or a read when you want to escape from the dull greyness and want some bright sunshine and good story.

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

Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera is out now. 

 

 

 

Books

Before the Rains – Dinah Jefferies

There is something very atmospheric about this book, as the heat of India becomes intense as they wait for the rains to break the searing heat, to bring water and life to the land it also reflects the tension within the palaces, within the British position and with the main characters of this story.

Photojournalist Eliza returns to India, it is 1930 she is widowed and she is escaping her life with her work. Given the opportunity from a family friend, Clifford Salter and a member of the British Government, Eliza gets the chance to spend a year taking photos, to create an archive of a royal family in one of the states.

The last time she was in India, she watched her father die in tragic circumstances.

Eliza hopes that she may well be able to put some ghosts to rest. Although she cannot guarantee she will not in fact raise some ghosts from the past.

She meets Jay, the second son and not ever destined to become the Prince. There is a spark of something more than the respect that develops for each other.

Jay shows Eliza parts of India, for her project but Eliza shows Jay through her pictures, her eyes exactly what his people are living like, the poverty that they endure day after day. Jay shows how that British Rule is perhaps causing more trouble that it is worth and that the people of India are capable of forming their own destinies without colonial rule.

Eliza and Jay, clash as two very different worlds collide, through that collision that spark begins to develop. But it can never be. Can it?

This rich evocative novel is a love story, a love story that is forbidden in a land where love is not considered the reason for relationships to form. It is all about power, money, alliance and land.

As with all her novels if you have ever read them, the author paints a picture of a place where the colour leaps from the page, the smell wafts past as you immerse yourself in the culture which form the background of the story. But of course it is now always the background it actually is the story as well as the characters.

With intrigue, deception and mistrust within the palace walls and all over India, Eliza is there at a time when perhaps barriers could be broken down…..

A compelling historical fiction novel which will evoke some rather upsetting emotions within the reader as the follow Eliza and Jay’s story. Vividly descriptive and beautifully written this is a book you must read.

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

Before the Rains is out now. 

Please check out my blog for other Dinah Jefferies novels, I recommend them all.