Books · Jottings · Witterings

Six in Six 2021 – My Choices

Here are my choices for this years Six in Six – there is still time to join in. Please see the original post here for all the details.

  • Six authors I have read before

Sarah Bennett – Summer Kisses at Mermaid’s Point

Tracy Rees – The Little Book of Secrets

Heidi Swain – A Taste of Home

Holly Martin – Sunlight over Crystal Sands

Katie Fforde – A Wedding in the Country

Helena Dixon – Murder in the Belltower/Murder at Elm House

  • Six books that took me by the hand and led me into the past

Nancy Revell – The Shipyard Girls on the Home Front 

Helen Fripp – The French House 

Kate Quinn – The Rose Code

Emily Hourican – The Glorious Guinness Girls 

Lorna Cook – The Girl from the Island

Liz Fenwick – The River Between Us 

  • Six books I have read but not reviewed

Lucinda Riley – The Sun Sister

Julia Quinn – Bridgerton: The Duke and I

Marika Cobbold – On Hampstead Heath

Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Wedding

Christine Lee – The Midwife’s Sister

Amanda Owen – Tales from the Farm from the Yorkshire Shepherdess

  • Six books that I really want to buy in the next 6 months

Robert Galbraith – Troubled Blood

Stacey Halls – Mrs England

Emma Barnett – Period

Sue Teddern – Annie Stanley, All At Sea

Jodie Chapman – Another Life

Richard Osman – The Man Who Died Twice

  • Six books that feature a building in the title

Julie Caplin – The Little Swiss Ski Chalet

Katie Ginger – The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse

Poppy Alexander – The Littlest Library 

Rachael Lucas – The Village Green Bookshop 

Beth Cowan-Erskine – Loch Down Abbey

Gervase Phinn – Tales out of School

  • Six book covers that were bright and cheerful

So that is my Six in Six. It is always great to look back and I cannot wait to see where the next six months of reading takes me.

I will be back in August with a roundup post of all the blogs that have joined in and shared their last six months reading. Still time to take part!

Books

Sunrise by the Sea – Jenny Colgan

We all need some sunshine in our lives and that is so for the main character in this novel, Marisa Rosso. Suffering with the loss of her grandfather, grief has consumed her and she cannot understand why others are not feeling the same as much as they cannot understand why she has reacted as she has.

Marisa moves as far as way as possible to, Mount Polbearne a tidal island at the foot of Cornwall. She hopes to be able to continue working remotely and find some solace in this far away place.

What she doesn’t bank on is a giant Russian piano teacher next door, and a struggling bakery that could do with a slice of Marisa’s Italian heritage cooking to help it to survive. When disaster strikes in the village, Marisa is forced to confront many demons and uses this strength to help others in a time of need.

Of course not everything runs smoothly but the uplifting spirit found in Jenny Colgan’s books means that you keep reading to the end.

This is the fourth novel set in Mount Polbearne and I came to it, not having read any of the others (soon to be rectified) but it can easily be read as a standalone but I do want to know more about this little place and Polly as well as Neil the Puffin, who is adorable!

A perfect summery read filled with lovely moments of laughter, love and luscious amount of food.

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

Sunrise by the Sea is out now.

Books

June Roundup

That was June – not quite the flamin’ one of last year but still, one hopes we have some more summer to come or at least some non wet days and blue sky will do me.

As for the reading, the lists are getting a bit out of hand I need to make a dent in the netgalley requests and the books on the shelves, but I have a list of books that I want to buy, thanks to the lovely Between the Covers BBC programme and books that have been popping up all over the internet!

But what have I read?

From the shelves, that have been hanging around a while was Christine Lee – The Midwife’s Sister a perfect for fans of Call The Midwife. Gives a very different side to life in the fifties and sixties and explains a lot perhaps about the relationship that we saw of Jennifer Lee portrayed on the television. It captured me and had me hooked, as I simply was fascinated by their life.

Then another book which captured me was Jean E. Pendziwol – The Lightkeeper’s Daughter a book which I picked up on a whim in a bookshop and had yet to get to. I think it might be about the third or fourth book this year to feature a lighthouse! They do fascinate me and this one took me across the sea to Canada, the only thing I would have liked to have seen in the book was a map of Lake Superior so I could get a sense of the place. Nonetheless a book that was worth the wait and one I would recommend.

Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Wedding was a book which was not on my shelf for very long. One of those impulse supermarket book purchases to cheer the soul and knowing how I have been following the story of the Cornish Cream Tea Bus, it was great to return and catch up.

Then you go and discover a series of books that you have not read when you come to the latest with Jenny Colgan – Sunrise by the Sea which features another lighthouse and is the fourth based on a setting the author has used before, so that is now added to my list. I think they will be great for those comfort reads when you just want to read.

Another author I can always rely on to just take me away is Katie Fforde – Saving the Day and this one is no different. Even better if you are pushed for time because it is one of the short stories featured from the Quick Reads series books which aims to get people reading. I really don’t know where I would be if it was not for the escape that reading gives me.

Some authors give you familiarity and some authors give you great books but you just don’t know what you are going to get when you start those first few pages. Liz Fenwick – The River Between Us is the latest from the author and all of her books get better and better as they go along and all so different. I loved this one, probably because of the historical elements to it but the modern elements of the story was as important as well, sometimes one dominates the other but here they are given equal importance. Perfection.

Not knowing what I was going to get from this one, as her previous two were so different, it was great to be transported away with Libby Page – The Island Home. A book that dealt with some tough issues and how you can be lonely amongst many and content amongst few. But so you really know everyone’s true story and is it only the one you choose to see.

Of course you can stick to what you know, but I do try and challenge myself with new authors and did so with Beth Cowan-Erskine – Loch Down Abbey a tongue in cheek look at the big house mystery with a few too many characters and whilst a passable diversion, not sure I would recommend.

Dare we say the word Christmas in June, but having received a second book in a series through netgalley and seeing that the first was a mere 99p on Amazon I thought it fair to start at the beginning. Which is why I read Cathy Lake – The Country Village Christmas Show although not overtly full of Christmas it is mentioned and was a nice introduction to this author who I have never heard of before. That said, I don’t think I needed to have read it before her latest. Whoops!

So that was June, half way through the year. For followers of my blog, Six in Six is returning so get working on those lists, and please link back to me so I can capture your links and share the lots of lovely books out there that some of us definitely will not have read!

How was your June reading? Meeting your challenges? Or just seeing how it all goes?

Books

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

Books

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

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!

Books

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

Books

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. 

Books

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.

Books

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…..do 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.

Books

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