Books

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found – Trisha Ashley

Alice always knew that her parents were not her real parents, her step father said she was discovered in Haworth outside the Bronte Parsonage. The story of her discovering was added to over the years until one day her stepfather dies.

It is only then that Alice discovers that her stepmother has always loathed her and never even wanted her. Suddenly adrift and alone again Alice tries to find a place to settle and maker her home and find some identity within her self.

In Cornwall she finds friendship with Edie who takes her under a wing and provides perhaps the motherly figure she has always been missing in her life. When Edie moves to Scotland, it isn’t long before Alice thinks that she will follow, her life in Cornwall not turning out to be very much.

In Scotland she starts to settle, meets Dan and helps in a local cafe where she can perfect her baking. But then tragedy strikes and Alice is adrift yet again. Now is the time to find out where she really belongs and so she heads to Haworth.

Making an impetuous purchase on an unseen cafe in Haworth Alice takes the bit between her teeth and decides to open a teashop with the rudest waitresses in Yorkshire. She does of course have many hurdles to overcome and has many doubters along the way but Alice’s determination to do something and make a mark is strong.

Hoping that she may well also discover the truth about her birth, as well as pursue a part-time career in writing fairy stories with a twist, Alice discovers that not all fairy tales are straightforward and they don not all have a happy ending.

As with any Trisha Ashley novel, this is well written, the characters fully formed and developed and there is always more than one plot line weaving its way through the book. In fact with this book you could almost say you were getting three stories for the price of one! I loved so much about this book because I cared so much for the main protagonists, I want to eat in the teashop and stay at the lovely Bed and Breakfast where Alice is made to feel at home. The short vignettes of one of the stories are no more than a paragraph and in that short space of time, I took a complete dislike to a character – that is the charm of Trisha Ashley’s novels and especially this one. There is so much packed into the pages.

One of my favourite reads of 2017 and of Trisha Ashley novels. Go buy and read it, you will not be disappointed and like me you will not want it to end.

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found is put now in hardback.

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read this book and of course to the wonderful Trisha Ashley for writing it. 

Books

February Roundup

It being a short month, February I have been reading shorter stories. Mainly because they have been available for me to read through netgalley and I have to confess to being rather requesting happy and now I need do some serious reading in the coming months.

I caught up with Shelia Norton – The Vets at Hope Green: Follow Your Heart which was part two of this serialised novel. Because I have started the novel this way, I will finish it this way.

Same applies to Bella Osborne – A Spring Affair: Willow Cottage this was the third part, so there is only one more to go before I have finished this story.

Obviously I prefer reading full novels and when I was given the opportunity to read Trisha Ashley – The Little Teashop of Lost and Found. I think it is the longest novel by far that she has written and it is definitely one of my favourite of the year and one of my favourite’s of hers. This is a book which you can disappear into and not come out of for ages!

Another of my favourite books so far this year is Jennifer Ryan – The Chilbury Ladies Choir, beautifully told through letters, notices and diary entries about the Second World War. This is an excellent debut novel and I thoroughly recommend it.

Of course when you choose books from netgalley, you are not always sure what you are getting and whether it will be a good book or not. I thought T.P. Fielden – The Riviera Express was going to be in the vain of a golden-age murder mystery story. But it did not work for me at all, I think it was the prose that jarred when reading it. Shame and the reason I finished it was I had to know who the perpetrator was.

Kellie Hailes – The Cosy Coffee Shop of Promises was a passable diversion but not a very strong example of women’s fiction. Predictable but the characters were not very well-formed and I could not connect with them. There are better novels out there.

An example of a better novel is Sarah Bennett – The Sunrise at Butterfly Cove. I was hooked immediately, I cared about the characters, I shed tears and wished for a happy ending. And it is great that I can go back to these characters and the setting as this is the first in a trilogy. Whilst it was a relatively short read, there is much packed into the pages it felt much longer.

I end the month with two books on the go, catching up with another one from netgalley as well as continuing the wonderful stories of Sidney Chambers.

Books

Blog Tours

Just thought I would let you know about two three blog tours that are stopping by this blog in February and March.

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Deborah Burrows is a new author to me and this was a really good read.

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Trisha Ashley is one of my favourites and I was thrilled to be able to read her latest. If you love her work you will love this book.

A debut novel and one of the books of the year for me so far is The Chibury Ladies Choir

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Books · Jottings

January Roundup

First month of 2107 gone. Done, dusted, put away. Surely it can only get better, brighter and warmer!

An average sort of month for reading, behind on my goodreads challenge already. which made me panic unnecessarily, because it is only the first month. However, I have throughly enjoyed all that I have read in January.

I caught up with Emma Burstall – The Cornish Guest House, I am a big fan of Emma’s work and probably should have read this when it first came out. Trouble is with authors I really like I tend to not want to read their books immedieatly as when you have done, you are bereft. I feel much the same about reading a Lucinda Riley novel.

Caught up in the hype of the new BBC Drama adaptation of Louise Doughty – Apple Tree Yard and having heard the beautiful Emily Watson be interviewed more than once, I had to read the book before it started on television. Gripping and so far the television is very much in the vision of the book I had when I read it.

What also was brought to life for me was Deborah Burrows – Ambulance Girls. A new author to me and I was asked whether I wanted to partake in the blog tour for the book. The setting is London in the Second World War, and the focus is on those that stayed behind and risked their lives while the bombs were reigning down. However there was a lot more depth to this book and I am looking forward to more in the series.

If you want comfort, easy reading then I normally turn to an author I know will provide that. Which is why I picked up Debbie Macomber – A Girl’s Guide to Moving On. It was one of a series which I did not realise, but it did not detract from the story. The book fulfilled what I wanted it to, but if you asked me to tell you what it was about I probably would struggle.

I have been rather request happy on netgalley in the last month, which is why I was suddenly at the recommended 80% feedback and now I am not. Like a child in a sweetshop looking at all the bright colours I was hooked by so many, and I think some might be of a similar ilk. However I started with Karen Clarke – The Beachside Sweet Shop. If the rest are as good as this, it will be great and I get my feedback percentage back up.

I have also picked up a book from my shelf that has been hanging around for a while which has been in complete contrast to everything else I have read this month Essie Fox – The Somnambulist. I am late to the Essie Fox party but that must mean I have a few to catch up on and enjoy.

So that was January – and I finish it reading another one of my requests from netgalley, which I can feel is going to be a stand out book.

 

 

Books

Paula Daly – Top Tips for Budding Writers

 

My latest review was the latest book from Paula Daly – The Trophy Child. Whilst I have participated in the blog tour for this, I was a bit remiss in not publishing the fact but the lovely people at Penguin Random House and of course Paula herself has sent me some ‘tips for budding writers’ to support my review which was published on this blog on the 27 January.

Without further ado, I hand over to Paula:

Full disclosure: I could not have found the time to write when I had a full time job and a young family. Some people do. I am not one of them. I’ve read accounts of people getting up at four in the morning, writing a thousand words before work, to pursue their dreams of becoming a published author, but when my kids were small the best I could do was get a meal on the table each evening, and make sure they had clean uniforms to wear.

I started writing when, after a move to France, I was able to work part time when I returned to the UK. I have three children and my youngest would have been around three at the time. For me, the key to getting the words down on paper was carving out a decent amount of time in which to write. Say, an hour or so. So I got super-organised with everything else that needed doing around the house. Everything that could be done outside of that hour I did fast and efficiently, to protect the writing time. Then I would pick my youngest up from nursery, put him in front of the TV with some toys, jigsaws and a drink, and I would write in the next room for as long as I was able to.

Now that my kids are teenagers everything is easier. And now that I’m a fulltime novelist I no longer have to slot writing in around a day job. But I do employ a number of tricks to maximise my writing time. Here are my five top tips:

1)                          Plan your meals weekly and shop for groceries online. This whole process takes me twenty minutes per week using the Tesco app. I used to find grocery shopping for five frustrating and a colossal drain of my energy. Now I can have it delivered to my kitchen towards the end of my writing day. So I get the word count done and all I have to do is put the stuff away.

2)                          Don’t answer the phone. My extended family know that I don’t answer the phone if I’m working. I screen calls and if it’s not one of the kids, or their school calling, I don’t pick up. Relatives don’t think writing is a proper job and think you can stop and have a chat whenever you like. You can’t. Call them back when you’ve finished. Or else better still, call them and put them speakerphone when you’re doing something mindless like folding washing. Two birds etc.

3)                          Have a notepad handy. When I first started writing, I was bursting with ideas but I couldn’t get these ideas down on paper until my allotted ‘writing time’. So I would write notes all day: when the vegetables were boiling, when the kids were in the bath, when I was outside school waiting for them to come out. What I found was, when I did finally get down to writing, it felt more like I was taking dictation, as I had all of my ideas already formed.

4)                          Lose the guilt. To make a real go of this you’re probably going to have to put your writing before your kids a little more. And what I mean by that is, you may have to get rid of some of the extra-curricular activities. My youngest quite liked football and wanted to join a team…but we refused. I didn’t want to spend my weekends, rising early, driving thirty miles to stand in the freezing rain, when I could have been reading a book in bed instead. Because to be a writer you must read a lot. And you need the time to do it.

5)                          Once the kids are of an age when they can be left to play alone, tell them you’re writing and you’re not to be disturbed. They won’t care. Really, they won’t. And they won’t become damaged by your not spending ‘quality time’ with them either. Most kids don’t actually like quality time and would much rather be pleasing themselves than doing an activity that you deem to be a good use of their time.

Thanks to Paula, I hope it has inspired some people out there. If it hasn’t then remember all that hard work of Paula’s has gone into creating some cracking good reads – do check out The Trophy Child.

Books

Books in 2016

I am probably a bit late in looking back at my books of 2016 but it is still January.

I read 101 books and therefore I completed my challenge on Goodreads and go forth with 100 in 2017.

So with thanks to Goodreads – 101 books equates to 31,182 pages. The longest at 683 pages, the shortest at 17!

Never mind the statistics – what about the books.

The Storm Sister – Lucinda Riley. I have the third in The Seven Sisters series to read and I am putting it off, because I know I will love it so much – how peculiar! It is by my bed waiting I promise.

The Ballroom – Anna Hope is a beautifully written book. And with it also being her second novel, she creates something wonderful in this story. I recommend it.

I think 2016 was a year of reading basically what I wanted, with little thought to what I should have been reading and certainly reviewing. That is why I iindulged in some “family saga” novels. Rosie Goodwin is an example of this and I had to indulge in all of Dilly’s story from beginning to end. Dilly’s Sacrifice, Dilly’s Lass and Dilly’s Hope complete the trilogy.

I seem to return to a lot of places in 2016. Early in the year there was Helen Pollard – The Little French Guesthouse, followed by its return. I spent the whole year on and off with Holly Hepburn – At The Star and Sixpence. Tilly Tennant introduced me to The Little Village Bakery and I got to spend Christmas with them too. Then Phillipa Ashley and I were at Summer at the Cornish Cafe and I spent Christmas there as well.

I caught up with Cathy Bramley at the Plumberry School of Comfort Food and was delighted to share Christmas Dinner with them too in Comfort and Joy. I shared Christmas with Holly Martin under a Cranberry Sky and a Starlit Sky. I was back in Tindledale for The Secret of Orchard Cottage and again with them at Christmas with Not Just for Christmas.

Wynbridge was the place that Heidi Swain brought to life in Summer at Skylark Farm and again I went back at Christmas with Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market. I did the same with Bella Osborne and Willow Cottage as well.

What is wonderfully comforting about these books is it feels like you are going back to old friends when you pick up the books. Getting a glimpse into their lives.

Of course there are other authors and characters I have revisited. I love Mirabelle Bevan and caught up with these tales and waiting patiently for the next. I am behind with the delightful Flavia de Luce so I have more of them to catch up on which is great. I am also all up to date with The Little Village School series by Gervase Phinn.

I spent a lot of time I think this year, devouring book after book because I wanted to know what happened next and I did not want to leave the characters behind.

Of course there were new books to consider, ones that were different from what I normally read, there was looking back a lot less thrillers in 2016. The ones worthy of a mention are Lissa Evans – Crooked Heart, Cath Staincliffe – The Silence Between Breaths, Kate Williams – The Storms of War, Anthony Horowitz – The Magpie Murders and Tracy Rees – Florence Grace.

I do not have a favourite book of the year, I enjoyed them all for different reasons  as they provided joy, sadness and tears all at the right time. I think that is the best way to enjoy reading and I aim to continue doing exactly that in 2017.

 

 

Books

September Roundup

Here we go then, we are staring down the barrel of the last 3 months of 2016. The end may be in sight for my reading challenge and I am three-quarters of the way through at this point and three-quarters through the end of the year is a great place to be. I do not want to tempt fate and say I am on course, because who knows what might happen.

But for September I have still been in Christmas quite a lot, especially as I got to revisit Holly Martin – Christmas Under a Starlit Sky. A perfect Christmas read.

I also had time to pop into see Beth and young Leo in Bella Osborne – Christmas Cheer: Willow Cottage. This is a book I picked up earlier in the year, but it is one that is being released in parts which can work with some books, not so much with others and makes the story slightly disjointed. This is the case with this book, but I still want to know what happens so will hold out until 2017 for part three. I wish I had found the book later so I could have read it as a whole.

I have also revisited the delightful Flavia in Alan Bradley – Speaking From Among the Bones. It is a pleasure to immerse yourself in a series of books and not have to worry about reviewing them, not that I mind reviewing, but it is nice to get your teeth into something different as much as it is with the familiar.

Another revisit was Holly Hepburn – Autumn at The Star and Sixpence and another part released novel, but I am enjoying this one especially as when I discovered Holly Hepburn earlier this year I had a few to bring me up to date with The Star and Sixpence. I only have a few weeks to wait until the final part, but for recommendation purpose it is another which needs to be read as a whole novel.

Back to some murder with the latest Poirot story from the pen of a well-known contemporary author Sophie Hannah – Closed Casket. I thought it was very good and in the spirit of a Christie novel, and providing you can remember this with the book then you will enjoy it for what it is – a good old-fashioned murder mystery.

Which leads me to Anthony Horowitz – Magpie Murders. If you like your murder mysteries – if you like the clues and the red herrings, then this is certainly the book for you. It is a book within a book and a mystery within many more. The beauty of this book is it makes you think about every murder mystery you have read before and question what you thought you knew. Clever!

The previous two books were set in a certain period of time and I do like my historical fiction and in September I eventually got round to reading Kate Williams – The Storms of War. I have a beautifully signed book after having seen her at the Guildford Book Festival last year, but have just got round to picking it up. I look forward to reading the next in the series as I move into the Roaring Twenties.

2016 seems to be a year for going back to familiar authors you know and ultimately love. So was the case with Emma Hannigan – The Perfect Gift. I have not read as many as I thought I had of this author but I do know that when I pick up a book from her, I am going to get a read which is open, honest and compelling. Yet more to discover from this author no doubt who is not afraid of tackling the most sensitive of subjects.

So that was Septmber and I end it reading a book which is not to be published until January 2017 and that seems like months away!