Books

Darling Blue – Tracy Rees

It is 1923. The First World War is still in the minds of some people but life has moved on and this is the era of the “Bright Young Things” and we get to meet three very different women experiencing their own lives in very different ways but all been drawn together by Darling Blue.

Blue is the main character of the novel, as the title suggests, Ishbel known as Blue turns 21 and at her party, her father announces that the man who can capture Blue’s heart by love letter can have his permission to marry her. Blue is aghast at the statement but that does not stop her being intrigued by the men who do send the letters.

Midge has found love quite late in life but she doesn’t think she deserves it. She is the second wife of Blue’s father and whilst she loves the man and his daughters wholeheartedly she does not think it is reciprocated.

Delphine, desperate to escape her trapped love falls into the path of Blue who takes her under her wing and sees that she never returns to the past she is trying to escape.

All three of these women are having different experiences of love, romance, marriage and life, Tracy Rees has woven a tale of differences and similarities by these three women in this novel.

Not wanting to shy away from matters which were not named in the 1920s but Tracy tackles domestic violence, homosexuality, postnatal depression and women trying to find their way in the world of work. Topics that perhaps some might find depressing, but it is far from that. It is a quiet book which tells a simple tale, with some perhaps rather interesting diversions and the odd little twist and thrill of a turn it is a read to be savoured and reflected on once complete.

Tracy Rees books change as each one is published, none of them fit into the genre box that many probably want it to, but that is the beauty we discover different stories told in many ways that affect us all so differently.

I will certainly be intrigued as to what comes next from Tracy.

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

Darling Blue is out now. 

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Books

Victory for the Shipyard Girls – Nancy Revell

I first met the Shipyard Girls some four books previous to this one, back last year. I stumbled across the second book, had to read the first and I have been hooked ever since. So when I got the opportunity to read this one, I was not going to let it pass me by.

It is now 1942 – the war is still raging on and the Shipyard Girls are doing their best to keep up their own spirits as they work long, tough hours in one of the many shipyards in Sunderland.

Rosie is still in charge of the women welders and she tries to keep herself busy as whilst life has changed for her in some ways, especially with her strong relationship with Peter. Her old life is still playing a part and it is something that she cannot give up, despite the risks.

Gloria, despite having recovered from her ordeal, is still holding onto some secrets, not her own – but others and she knows that if she does anything those around her will get hurt.

Bel is put out that her mother Pearl seems to have a stronger bond with Maisie, than her and she is determined to find out her true parentage. Pearl has other ideas. In a change we are taken through flashbacks to Pearl’s earlier life and see what has happened to her which may indicate her behaviour in the present.

Helen is still blazing a trail being in charge at the shipyard whilst her father has had to go to Scotland – his absence is being felt keenly by Helen even though his actions have hurt her deeply. When she discovers the truth about what real love is like, she turns to unexpected quarters for help.

As with any saga if you follow it from the beginning, the characters are either in the background, still there and well rounded, or they are in the forefront of the plot and we learn more about them whether it be their past or the actions they take in the present.

I cannot say that these novels have becoming formulaic or boring, the author somehow injects different plot devices into them just to keep us readers on our toes and also covers some of the more less publicised aspects of the Second World War. I am intrigued as to where the author will go next.

This series of novels has really captured me and it is a long time since I have read any decent sagas which I want to return to and continue the story. I envy anyone who picks up the first of these novels – they have such joy to come.

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

Victory for the Shipyard Girls is out on 6 September. 

If you wish to read them in order:

  1. The Shipyard Girls
  2. Shipyard Girls at War
  3. Secrets of the Shipyard Girls
  4. Shipyard Girls in Love
  5. Victory for the Shipyard Girls (review above)
  6. Courage of the Shipyard Girls (published in 2019)

As the sixth book is still set around 1942 – I am hoping that there are many more books to come!

 

Books

The Little Brooklyn Bakery – Julie Caplin

Having originally turned down the job swap in Brooklyn New York, Sophie makes a quick decision based on emotions and events that happen to her and arrives in a city which is fast, brash and noisy – everything that Sophie is not.

Sophie is a food editor for a magazine and she throws herself into her job wholeheartedly to stop her actual heart from shattering.

Sophie is sworn off love.

So is her colleague Todd, who also works on the magazine and happens to be on the next desk to Sophie and the cousin of her landlady, Bella.

Spending unnecessary time with Todd thanks to helping out in Bella’s bakery, Sophie begins to see what she might have been missing in London and that perhaps she should have a bit of fun….she is only here for 6 months after all.

The two strike up an interesting friendship as Todd helps Sophie see the real Brooklyn and Sophie helps Todd discover what food can be really like.

Sophie was a secondary character in Caplin’s first novel set in The Little Cafe in Copenhagen, I vaguely remember her but not much. You don’t need to have read the first novel to get any sense of the characters. This works as a standalone and for me was better than the first book.

Like the first book, the plot line perhaps is a well-worn one, but sometimes they are the best and that is not a criticism, merely an observation. Even following a heartbreak, love and warmth can be found again and if food and the simple pleasure and joy it can give is incorporated in the story you have everything you could possibly want in a book.

A delicious read without the added calories!

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

The Little Brooklyn Bakery is out now. 

 

Books

The Pearl Sister – Lucinda Riley

This is the fourth book in the series by Lucinda Riley and one I have had waiting to be read for almost a year. My reasoning behind it was if I didn’t read it then I would not be upset when I finished it because I knew it was going to be a fascinating and wonderful read that would keep me hooked.

Of course I have read it and all the reasons behind not reading it stay – I am somewhat perverse in my logic but I wanted to dedicate the time to be immersed in the story.

Here we are with CeCe, she is the fourth of the sisters that Pa Salt adopted. We know a lot about her from The Shadow Sister, the third novel as she was very much keeping Star in her shadow and they had developed a bond for a very early age which did not look it was ever going to be broken.

But whilst CeCe might think it was broken, for Star the bond had just changed. I was annoyed by CeCe’s behaviour in the previous three novels and I was disheartened by her almost childlike behaviour despite them being young adults.

I approached her story with trepidation.

CeCe feeling rejected, unwanted and definitely unloved begins her travels to Australia with the only clue that her adoptive father has left her the name of a woman pioneer and an old black and white photograph. Two things that seemingly have no links to each other let alone CeCe.

But this is a Lucinda Riley book and there is a link and a wonderful and beautiful story to tell.

Cece stops over in Thailand where she has been before and lives very simply and the life she feels most comfortable with. She encounters Ace who appears to be a reflection of what she is feeling and hiding from and a friendship blossoms.

Ace is the person who helps CeCe with one part of the clue that Pa Salt has left behind that of the woman pioneer – Kitty McBride.

Back to the past, Kitty McBride was the daughter or a clergyman in Scotland and when the opportunity for her to travel to Australia comes up, Kitty thinks this is the best way to escape the knowledge of her father’s less than religious actions.

We travel with Kitty across the oceans and land just as we do with CeCe in the present day story. Kitty arrives in Adelaide and she encounters the Mercer family and twin sons, Drummond and Andrew. Their wealth is built on the pearl fisheries sand the cattle stations further out in the outback. Kitty falls for one of the brothers and finds that she won’t be returning to Scotland and the family she left behind but starting a new one in Broome.

CeCe finally arrives in Australia, knowing little of what she has left behind in London or Thailand and carries on her rather lonely journey to find out who she is and where she came from. Drawn through clues and a sense of something else CeCe finds herself in the outback, the red plains of the desert, the searing heat and vastness and the Aborigines who were here a long time before even Kitty McBride arrived let alone CeCe.

Can CeCe find her past and in turn see where her future might lie? As her other sisters have started to scatter around the world has CeCe found the place she can call home?

The transition throughout the book about CeCe reading about Kitty McBride and the reading Kitty McBrides narrative was as seamless as it always is. Of course leaving you wanting more but at the right point to consolidate what you know as you weave yourself within the story.

I learnt so much, I was ignorant to the pearling industry and the role it played in Western Australia and how diving evolved to capture something so rare and beautiful that the original discoverer was held almost to ransom by the pearling master. The aboriginal aspect of the story played an important role within the plot of the story and I was fascinated by the extreme heat, the landscape and the lives that these people live. I may never get to Australia in my life but I feel by reading this book I have got very close to experiencing such a visit.

I was never keen on CeCe from the very beginning of this series, there was something about her that grated, but I think that is because I did not know the reasons behind her and her actions. I wrongly judged when I did not know the facts.

I have learnt with the Pearl Sister and I have learnt to admire CeCe for the decisions she made to move her life forward. As the story of CeCe came to its conclusion the trepidation has turned to excitement as her life has now started and she has finally found her place.

If you want to get stuck into a series of books that knocks spots off even the best and most well written television series – then this series of books is for you. Your imagination is your television screen as it will bring to life all of Lucinda’s work and transport you completely.

The Pearl Sister along with The Seven Sisters, The Storm Sister and The Shadow Sister is out now,. 

The fifth book in the series The Moon Sister is published on 1st November 2018. 

I received a copy of this book for an honest review, and any followers and regular readers to my blog will know that I am a fan of Lucinda Riley and have also met her. All my reviews of her books are honest and genuine and the only thing I get is the joy from spreading the word about this author. 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

August Roundup

What a month August has been – I have been away on my first cruise to Norway and had a lovely three week break from work and of course read some wonderful (and not so) books.

So where to start – with the not so books I think.

Kim Barnes – In the Kingdom of Men has been sat on my shelf for a very long time and I decided in a bid to read some on my shelf to pick this one up. Set in the lates 1960s, around the oil industry between America and the Arabs it was a very claustrophobic novel which really did not come to much until the last thirty pages or so of the book. I have read it and passed it on. Someone else might get more from it than me.

When I picked the latest Nicky Pellegrino – A Year at Hotel Gondola I knew what I was expecting to get, sadly I was disappointed with the strnegth of character but I was transported away to Italy and Venice, so there was some good to be had.

Carol Wyer – Take a Chance on Me was another book that had been sitting on my netgalley shelf for a long time and I thought again it was about time I made room on their too! A book that you could read when you needed something that did not hold your attention, I have read better.

I took a chance on Lesley Eames – The Silver Ladies of London when I spotted it. A lovely historical saga with four female protagonists with different backgrounds finding themselves in London, no where to live, no job and only a Roll Royce. What more could a girl want in the 1920s. A great saga and I will look out for more by this author.

Sometimes when you are reading, all you want to go back to is what you know and love which is why I have picked up authors I know I am going to get a great story from.

I am keeping up with this series, thanks in part to netgalley but also because I am so involved with the characters which is why I couldn’t wait to read Nancy Revell – Victory for the Shipyard Girls – when it appeared on netgalley. Forget soap operas – this series is much better.

I am lucky to get access to current releases early thanks to netgalley and some I read straight away and some I hold to and read at another time – don’t ask me what the logic is I don’t know myself. Anyway I caught up with last years Christie Barlow release and thought let’s just dive into this years so I did with Christie Barlow – A Home at Honeysuckle Farm which takes you from New York to a small village from losing your dreams to finding them again. And this is a book to get you in the mood for the upcoming series of Strictly!

Julie Caplin – The Little Brooklyn Bakery – last time I went to Copenhagen this time it is Brooklyn. THat is the beauty of reading it can transport you anywhere! This is the second in the series of books and I thik much better than the first. I have the third to read and I cannot wait to be transported away again.

Binge is very much a word of recent times – Binge Eating and Binge Watching spring to mind – then there is Binge Reading. I know I probably don’t really qualify for the amateurs even when it comes to Binge Reading, but when I discover an author and a particular story I am sometimes hooked that I have to read the next one in the series. Which is why I was going to take Emma Davies – The Little Cottage on the Hill on holiday with me but then I started reading it and was hooked so went straight into Emma Davies – Summer at The Little Cottage on the Hill before I had even thought about packing! I have just downloaded the third in the series and preordered the fourth!

Looking at my lists, it seems that I only have one Heidi Swain to catch up on, which oddly enough is her first novel. I will get to that I promise but in the meantime I could not help delving into Heidi Swain – Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square which moves away (but close) to the lovely Wynbridge and all its characters. But no fear I was back there in her Christmas (yes I said the word) Heidi Swain – Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland though you will have to wait a while for the review for this one!

And finally I come to Lucinda Riley – The Pearl Sister. You could say I have saved the best for last and whilst that is partly true it is more to do with the fact that I have had this book for a year and it is by my bed sat being unread – it is almost as if I do read it the magic of the anticipation of the novel goes away. How daft, thinks me so I got on and read it in August – it is a mighty tome to read and not very conducive to lying down in bed but easy enough for sitting in the shade while the heat was baring down. It is everything I anticipated and more and now having the next one in the series, I am not making the same mistake – I started it straight away when it arrived.

So that was my August, some mighty fine reading and I am motoring through books, not sure why but there you go. Too hot perhaps to do anything else these last two months.

So as we turn to Autumn I feel the Christmas reads will be on me soon and I will be dreaming about the days of Summer and all the lovely places I have been.

How was your August? What are you looking forward to in September?

 

Books

The Silver Ladies of London – Lesley Eames

This book caught my eye, it looked like my sort of book –  historical saga. I know nothing of the author and so decided to take a risk, it was either going to work or not.

I am pleased to say it worked and it worked really well that I had to keep reading, way past my bedtime! (Thank goodness I was on holiday!)

1923 Northampton.

Four girls Ruth, Lydia, Jenny and Grace all work together in a big house in domestic roles.

That is until the day they are dismissed without references.

But that is the day that it all changes for them.

Ruth, has come into some money thanks to a kindly aunt and much to her parents chagrin and a codicil of the inheritance, she takes the money and runs….. to London.

And Lydia, Jenny and Grace all go with her.

What they find is a very different place from the one they left behind, but with determination and a silver Rolls Royce also left to Ruth they decide to make a life for themselves.

Lydia the feisty and outspoken of the four, is only happy when she is driving a car and fiddling under the bonnet. Her mother ran out on her more than fifteen years ago and her father is not interested, who would miss her?

Jenny has style and can make something out of nothing when she is faced with old clothes or material. Wanting to escape a rather odious step father who has other plans for her, Jenny thinks she is safer in London.

Grace is determined to make some money to make sure her grandmother is well looked after. The natural leader, organiser and administrator of the four she uses all these skills to set them up and makes sure she can leave the all behind when she has to return.

Four strong female characters, all with faults come together and focus on all their positive strengths to take one Silver Rolls Royce and provide a service for people in London in a time when women have only just recently obtained the vote and then not all of them and that the First World War has changed many perceptions.

This is a great discovery of a novel, really well written and it was great to watch the four girls discover London for the first time and witness the changes that were going on around them. Of course there is some romance on the horizon and it comes instantly and sometimes as a slow burning love but whatever gets in their way, may it be distance, violence, threats or even fire the Silver Ladies have a strength to carry on.

A very good historical saga which focuses on different aspects of the 1920s and is a novel that doesn’t show women in a pure domestic light.

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

The Silver Ladies of London is out now.

 

Books

Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square – Heidi Swain

Having found a little hideaway in a lovely cottage in Nightingale Square Kate thinks she may be able to escape not just her family who live in Wynbridge (featured in Heidi Swain’s other books) but also her soon to be ex-husband David. His indiscretions can no longer be ignored.

However hiding away is not what the locals have in mind for Kate. When the whirlwind that is Lisa arrives, with her children in tow as well as Heather and her new perfect baby, Kate is thrust into community life and has to face perhaps some of the baggage she has been holding onto.

But it is not just the cottage that interests Kate but also the big house that dominates the square – Prosperous Place.

When Prosperous Place is sold, the community fears that it may be developed and the feel of the square will change. But the new owner, Luke has some link to the house and wants to bring it back to what it was and when he lets the community use the gardens for a community allotment he gets a lot more than extra vegetables. He starts to make friends……….

Kate’s background in history and antiques means that she is in an ideal position to help Luke but when the past no longer remains history and comes screaming back into the present it looks like Nightingale Square could well change forever.

I thought I was going to get another story from Wynbridge, as I have grown to love that place and all its characters. Whilst this book is connected (Kate is Jemma’s (Cherry Tree Cafe) sister-in-law) it firmly takes place in the square. It has a mystery from the past, a sense of community, great characters and some well written annoying ones who could get under your skin within a couple of sentences.

All signs of a great read and one you will not want to put down, in fact I would have happily packed my bags and gone and lived there. There is a skill to writing books which drag you not just into the story but also to care about all the characters, no matter how much of a role they play. This and any of Heidi Swain’s novels meet that requirement.

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

Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square is out now.