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

The Vets at Hope Green – Part 3

Getting involved with a serialised novel can be a blessing and a curse, especially when the story is strong and you want to keep reading.That is the case with The Vets at Hope Green – I first talked about the book here when the second part was due out.

Thanks to the publisher and netgalley the third part was sent to me

Sam is settling into life and her unexpected pregnancy, but she is trying her hardest to hide it from her crotchety boss, Joe.

Joe seems to be hiding something and when a chance encounter at some stables, Sam begins to see a different side to this man, but his secrets still remain hidden. It begins to remind Sam of something she is trying to forget, another secret no one knows about.

Sam might well be able to hide some secrets, but her past she left behind in London, returns with some rather unwelcome news.

As this part closes, there is a shock and it seems that everything at Hope Green is going to change.

I am looking forward to reading the final part.

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

The Vets at Hope Green: Part Three is out on 16th March on kindle. The final part in April and the full novel (the best way to read this story) is out in June. 

Books

The Riviera Express – T.P. Fielden

Old fashioned, golden age murder mysteries are one of my favourite genres and when I got the chance to pick this book up and read it I thought it would tick all the boxes for me. I am not sure it did?

I love the cover, it has an almost 1930s style to it, which is in contradiction to the setting of the book which is late 1950s in the South West.

When the premise gives you lines such as ” Murdered on the 4.30 from Paddington” you can almost hear Miss Marple drop her knitting needles and come scurrying. Of course it was not going to be her, but in fact Miss Judy Dimont, “corkscrewed hair reporter for the local rag, The Riviera Express.”

The irony was not lost on me, dead body on the train dubbed The Riviera Express and the reporter turned investigator working on the local paper The Riviera Express.

Gerald Hennessey is the dead body. He is a famous film actor.

But why exactly was he on a train to Temple Regis? And what relevance is the three letters in written on the window of the train carriage?

This gives enough for Miss Judy Dimont to think about when another body turns up, then someone goes missing and it seems that Miss Dimont is convinced that there is a connection between these three people.

Trouble is she needs to do all this investigating without letting her editor, Rudyard Rhys know. And there is a past hinted at there which adds to Miss Dimont’s difficulties.

All of this makes for an interesting read and as I got through the book, I had to finish it because I wanted to know who the murderer was and why. I didn’t work it out, either because the clues missed me completely by or they were too far hidden in the rather odd way of writing. From the offset it was very disjointed and did not flow easily from paragraph to paragraph and plot line to plot line. There was definite breaks and that almost jarred my reading of it all.

My focus was broken on this book and I was left rather disappointed. The book should have been a lot better as the premise, setting and some of the characters within the novel had a lot of potential. I think the writing let it down.

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

The Riviera Express is out now.

I would love to know your thoughts if you pick up this book to try. I am in two minds as to whether I would pick up the second book. 

I also would love to know who T.P Fielden is? Goodreads- ” leading author, broadcaster and journalist”. Which makes me think that they are more well-known under another name? 

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

Apple Tree Yard – Louise Doughty

I am late to the party in reading this book, I knew it was maknig a splash in the thirller genre when it was first published, but I simply passed it over. My only reason for picking it up now to read was because it was about to be broadcast on the BBC on a Sunday Night. And the reasoning, logical part of me likes to make comparisons.

For those who do not know the premise:

Yvonne Carmichael sits in the witness box. The charge is murder. Before all of this, she was happily married, a successful scientist, a mother of two. Now she’s a suspect, squirming under fluorescent lights and the penetrating gaze of the alleged accomplice who’s sitting across from her, watching: a man who’s also her lover. As Yvonne faces hostile questioning, she must piece together the story of her affair with this unnamed figure who has charmed and haunted her. This is a tale of sexual intrigue, ruthless urges, and danger, which has blindsided her from a seemingly innocuous angle. Here in the courtroom, everything hinges on one night in a dark alley called Apple Tree Yard.

Instantly you want to know what has happened, who are these people that you have let into your life and why are their actions as addicative as you are in reading this book.

But not everything is as it seems.

The story is pieced together, the parts revealed at different points, the reasons behind the actions are not necessarily in the order that you would expect. You have to keep reading to understand.

The actions of one will affect so many.

It is for the court to decide, it is for us as the reader to decide what we think Yvonne has done, we do not know for a long time, and for me the television adaptation successfully kept this element of the book in the first epsiode certainly.

The book is not for the feint-hearted, it is much stronger in description of some of the scenes depicted. It all adds to the plot, nothing in this book is put there just because the author can. It is there for a reason, to aid the story, to move it forward and to make us the reader question every action.

As the end comes closer, we learn more and it was here I felt that I had missed a vital part. What was the reasoning in Yvonne’s accomplice’s actions. It was never explained, we never got into their head. Does that leave me feeling disappoined or more intrigued. I guess that is why the book has hooked so many.

Have you read the book?

Have you seen the adaptation?

What do you think of the choice of actors?

 

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.