Books

Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles: the Driftwood Inn – Phillipa Ashley

Phillipa Ashley is back with her new series of novels, and this time we have stepped a little bit away from Cornwall, to the Scilly Isles. Just across the water we discover new places, new problems and new characters. The islands in the novel are fictional but could quite easily exist as further islands away from the major five of the Scilly Isles.

Within a first few pages I am hooked as I find out about Maisie, returned to Gull Island to help her parents run the pub The Driftwood Inn. She has returned home to seek quiet sanctuary from what has happened to her in the previous few months.

But it is not going to be quiet on the island. Maisie is worried about her parents health and the fact that she is of an age where starting again might be difficult. After the temporary summer staff have all gone back to find jobs, Maisie still needs someone to help her. When Patrick walks in right at the moment she needs someone it seems that is her answer.

Trouble is her and Patrick shared a stolen kiss and she cannot get him out of her mind and now she has him in her place of work and a cottage out the back of the building. Tensions are bound to build in such close proximity.

Patrick was only meant to be on Gull Island to fulfill a dying wish to a friend now he has found some work his return to Australia is postponed but what was his real reason for being on Gull Island? As Christmas comes and the advent of a new year means new beginnings will Maisie finally be able to settle and will Patrick reveal the truth for his real reason for being interested in Gull Island.

I cannot wait to return and find out more about these Little Cornish Isles and their residents and of course I want to see how Maisie is getting on.

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

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Books

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove – Holly Martin

It’s Christmas on Hope Island. Having spent Spring and Summer with Bella, Freya, Isaac and Rome this is a continuation of course of their story but this book focuses very much on Eden and Dougie.

Eden has been in love with Dougie since forever. But he broke her heart when he moved to America,

Trouble is Dougie did not know this at the time but he did know the one person that he was best friends with was the reason he kept returning to Hope Island.

Eden is settled in her Pottery Cafe and whilst she has dreams of making it bigger and doing more of what she loves, she is very content with Hope Island. Until Dougie returns.

Dougie is not just returning for a visit, for Christmas he is planning on staying a lot longer. How will Eden manage this unrequited love when he is going to be living right next door?

It all moves very fast for Eden, even left me in its wake. Romance and wishes are the way to her heart and it seems that Dougie has all the right answers. But it can it be too good to be true?

No of course not, it is simply the magic of love and the magical time of year. Christmas is bringing everyone together but can it keep them that way?

I loved this book, there was something so romantic about Dougie that I admit to shedding a tear or two and was probably secretly in love with him a little bit. That is the elegance of Holly Martin’s writing taking you straight into the heart of the novel and she has you hooked with her writing and her setting.

She can do humour just as well and I have to confess Lucy and Finn, Eden’s parents were hilariously embarrassing with an innocence about them which made me forgive there not so subtle comments or indiscretions.

Combine this with a lovely setting, the coldness of winter, the brightness of the stars, the warmth of the fire as Eden and Dougie find some common ground.

If you want snowmen, hot chocolate, roaring fires, lots of layers of clothing, romance, Christmas, weddings and bucket loads of romance, this is the book for you. It works as a standalone novel, but if you have the time get the whole Hope Island experience.

Another excellent novel from Holly Martin.

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

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove is out now. 

I look forward to seeing what Holly Martin writes next. In the meantime I still have her White Cliff bay series to catch up on, so plenty to keep me going. 

 

 

Books

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane – Ellen Berry

I am back visiting Rosemary Lane and it has been just over a year since I have been here. I was there when Della set up her bookshop specialising in one type of books – cookery ones. I wanted to go back and see how she was getting on and so I do with this new novel from Ellen Berry.

Back on Rosemary Lane, we do see something of Della, her bookshop is expanding, her happiness clearly there for everyone to see but she still worries about her sister, Roxanne.

Roxanne becomes the main protagonist for this story as she escaped Rosemary Lane as soon as she could for the bright lights of London. From nothing she has worked her way into the fashion industry and is a Fashion Editor on a glossy magazine, the sort you flick through in a waiting room but would not necessarily buy!

She has everything she wanted but it seems that something is perhaps missing – when fate means her job is suddenly changed to something else and her rather reluctant boyfriend refuses to commit to anything.  Roxanne leaves London and returns to her sister in Rosemary Lane. But what is she going to do?

Roxanne discovers that there is very little to do. Della does not really need her help in the shop and it seems the only thing left her to do is to walk the dog. Trouble is her fashion knowledge and walking a dog on a wet Yorkshire dale are at odds with each other.

Whilst Roxanne learns that comfortable practical clothes are the way forward, no one is judging her and they take her at face value with no ulterior motive. Here she meets Michael who is just starting to find his feet in the new bakery on Rosemary Lane and when his daughter becomes friendly with Roxanne it seems that perhaps the bright lights of London have finally dulled. Of course it will not be that easy.

I enjoyed the interesting world of fashion and fashion photography. I certainly don’t want to be part of that world and the author I would guess has had some experience within it, to get it across the way she did. The bakery is perhaps not a strong feature in the book and others have commented on this, but this was a very character driven novel but it has its place in setting the scene of the village and the lane of shops.

The story of Rosemary Lane has not finished, there has got to me much more to come?  I am sure the pub that is featured in this book has a tale to tell and of course the bakery surely needs to expand? I can but dream and that is the sort of book this is. A lovely read.

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

The Bakery on Rosemary Lane is out now

The first book in the series was reviewed by me here

Books

The Word is Murder – Anthony Horowitz

A woman walks into a funeral directors to arrange her funeral.

Six hours later she is dead.

Coincidence?

Murder?

A private detective, Daniel Hawthorne has been called in by the police to help with this case. A consulting detective like Holmes or Poirot but with a character and manner all of his own. So gruff and strange I could not be anything but fascinated by him. Hawthorne is private in many ways, we know little about him and whilst he was once a police inspector, it takes us a while to find out what happened.

The narrator of this story, is drawn into Hawthorne’s world.

The narrator is in fact an author, who has used Hawthorne before to help in his research in previous novels and television adaptations. Here you can quite easily think Watson to Holmes, Hastings to Poirot. Except this author, this narrator, we all know.

It is in fact Anthony Horowitz.

All of a sudden, The Word is Murder becomes part autobiography, part fiction and part fact and it was actually fascinating to learn all about Horowitz’s world as an author and script writer, to  the idiosyncrasies of the publishing and television world. A parody but actually not  – more a reality, a truth.

But just like us as readers, Horowitz is drawn to Hawthorne and the murder of the woman hours after arranging her funeral. He is reluctant to become involved but something draws him back to Hawthorne, because it is not just the murder to unpick Horowitz needs to understand the detective as well. Without that surely he will never have a book.

This is an interesting book, where you have to remind yourself when you are reading, what bit could be true and what part was the fiction of the story being weaved by Horowitz as he helped Hawthorne (not a real person) complete his investigation.

I chose not to go into much detail about the murder in this review, mainly because I am always too frightened of giving some obvious clue and rendering anyone else reading the book as a pointless exercise.

A cleverly crafted novel which will appeal to fans of murder mysteries. I would not put it down as a thriller but it is certainly a page turner. Very different to Magpie Murders published last year but both of these books have the potential to be developed further.

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

The Word is Murder is out now. 

 

 

Books

How to be Champion – Sarah Millican

No doubt many people are going to call this book Champion and it will become a well-worn plaudits – but that is quite simply because this book does exactly what it says on the cover.

I have never been a fan of self-help books, but if they were all like this then I would be reading far more!

First of all, I read this because I am a fan of Sarah Millican. I have seen her live and watched many of her DVDs and wandered around YouTube listening to bits and pieces. There is something about what she talks about in her stand up and general day life that makes me smile, laugh out loud and totally relate to.

This is obviously an autobiography taking us through her days at school, right up to the present day via various jobs, various friends, men, stand up tours and hotels.

Of course there is some crossover in her stand up routines and this book. Clearly a lot of material came from real experiences. But if you laughed once, trust me you will laugh again and again. I did a lot of laughing out loud and it was a good job I was on my own in bed!

But you do find out more about this lovely smasher of a woman! I certainly could relate to her chapters about children and about clothes that fit or don’t fit. I was horrified about the world we live in when she recounts a review she read when she appeared in the programme Who Do You Think You Are? What she says makes perfect sense and it is amazing the world we women still live in. I have experienced many a similar thing at work and it is still shocking that such a thing exists in the twenty-first century.

A book and an author who is not afraid to tackle sex, mental health, heavy periods, depression, divorce, confidence, cats, clothes and cake with equal aplomb. The subjects are wide and varied and the laughs are there but underneath it all there is plenty to make you think.

If you are not a fan of Sarah Millican then this probably isn’t your cup of tea. But if you are then, grab a large slab of cake, a mug of tea and find out how to be champion or in my case more champion than I already am!

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

The formatting when I received it from netgalley was a bit out, and I had to make some sense of the jumbled up bits, however it was easy enough to read. But I will be going out and buying this book so I can read it how it is meant to be and of course look at the photos!

In all the excitement of reading this, I tweeted the lovely Sarah Millican about reading her book and got a like back – I know it’s not like meeting her in person, but hey I was thrilled

How to be Champion is out now.

 

Books

September Roundup

I hate to say it but after a lovely summer of reading, I have hit the Christmas reading already – what I hear you cry. It is still autumn and we haven’t even put the clocks back yet.

But the nights are getting darker earlier and I am waking up on int he dark to drag myself out to go swimming before work, so it can only mean that Christmas is really on its way. I even confess to having made a couple of lists for presents.

So the festivities have started with Holly Martin – Christmas at Mistletoe Cove. I really do like Holly’s books and read this series of books which concludes with Christmas on the Scilly Isles.

Funnily enough, coincidence perhaps, the next Christmas read was Phillipa Ashley – Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles: The Driftwood Inn. This also happens to be set on the Scilly Isles. It is the first in a new series of books from this author who I have to say produces books which are a great read.

Christmas funnily enough is covered in Judith Kinghorn – The Snow Globe but rather than being contemporary, this takes you back to the mid 1920s. Romance is around, but sometimes the choices you make are not always ‘seen’ to be the right ones.

So with Christmas out-of-the-way, let’s get back to summer and something a bit more warming and Katie Fforde – Summer of Love. I am a fan of Katie’s work and whilst I read the new books when I can if I can get hold of a copy, I am busy working my way through her back catalogue. Still got a few books to get through yet.

Summer makes you think of swimming and if you are lucky, lidos. I chose The Lido Girls  – Allie Burns when it appeared as a choice on netgalley. But the book was not for me and I abandoned it, the first this year and felt as I normally do quite ruthless, but some books just don’t work and when you have lots more to read then I feel I cannot waste time ploughing through a book which I get no enjoyment from.

I know I am going to get enjoyment and a laugh from Sarah Millican – How to be Champion and was thrilled when it popped up on netgalley. Even more thrilled to be approved and read a copy. If she makes you laugh, then without any doubt this book will too. I am going to get a copy for myself as I didn’t get to see the pictures and the formatting was a bit adrift on my kindle, so it did make for disjointed reading. But a ‘champion’ book!

I have noticed when you pick books up from netgalley that they can start you discovering one place and you have to go back and keep reading more about it, that is certainly the case with a few of the books I have got hold of lately. Which is why I chose and have read Ellen Berry – The Bakery on Rosemary Lane which takes us back to the Yorkshire village where new business are popping up and contentment is being found.

Looking back over the year I have read quite a lot of contemporary womens fiction. You get drawn certain ways with books and you just have to keep reading them. I know some are very similar it setting and style. If the writing is good, the plot believable and the characters three-dimensional then I carry on reading. Now and again I do like to throw in something different and this month besides an autobiography it was Anthony Horowitz – The Word is Murder. A different take on a murder mystery book and one which involved the author himself. Confused, you could well be but it is worth sticking with as it is a cleverly constructed novel.

So quite a good month for reading but there is plenty more to read so I must get on…..

Books

The Hourglass – Tracy Rees

Tracy Rees third novel, and whilst it is of course a novel set in the present and in the past, I found it different from her first two but I can’t put my finger on what it was, as it is certainly as good as them.

Present day: Nora suddenly has a clear image of a beach, a seaside town. It seems to be calling to her and it is a place she has only been to once in the past. The place is Tenby, Wales.

1950s: Chloe spends three weeks every summer with her aunt and uncle at a seaside town. An opportunity which she spends the other 49 weeks of the year dreaming about. Not only the journey, but the beach and her best friend are their. The place is Tenby, Wales.

It is clear that Tenby holds a spell over these two women. Nora stricken with anxiety and the fact she is forty and seems to have achieved very little in life, abandons everything she has job, flat, boyfriend and travels to Tenby as she attempts to find herself.

As Chloe’s summers are charted every year we see her grow, her blossom from girl to young woman, from small fantasies to big dreams and they are always most clear when she is in Tenby. The reality is somewhat different.

Tenby is beautifully described and placed perfectly within the story. I was there visiting, I was walking the same path and viewing the same landscape and scenery no matter what the weather, the author does this effortlessly. Google pictures of Tenby and you will see even the cover correctly illustrates the place so beautifully.

The story progresses between these two women and you do find out fairly early on the link between them as that is important as the story and the women’s lives move in very different directions but oddly enough they move most importantly to each other. Suddenly the anxiety of the past and the present makes sense and the future now can be something very different.  When the sand has run out, you have to turn the hourglass over and start all over again.

Tracy Rees is an author you have to try if you have not before, if you like historical fiction, with strong characters who can you empathise with and perhaps dislike in equal manner as well as set amongst an ever-changing landscape then her books are for you.

I am now just disappointed that I will have to wait a while to read her next one.

Thank you to the publisher Quercus for the review copy of this novel. The Hourglass is out now.