Summer at Lavender Bay – Sarah Bennett

It is always great to not just find an author but an author who writes series of books featured in one pace. You can go back and visit the characters that become friends and see how they are all getting on.

We first met Eliza in the first of the Lavender Bay series when she was about to go away and not be back to visit her friends Libby and Beth for a while.

Faced with her future at the airport – Eliza makes a life changing decision and heads back to Lavender Bay to stay with her parents in the local pub.

Wanting to find something for herself and establish her self-worth she decides to pursue her dream of making organic soaps and wonders whether the local lavender farm will be able to help.

However her first meeting with Jack, the farmer is not exactly friendly but there is something about him that sparks her interest. And surprisingly Jack starts to think about something other than collecting the lavender crop and being responsible for Noah, his nephew.

The course of true love never does run smooth and there are a few bumps along the way, especially when Noah gets injured and Eliza’s husband turns up.

Yet again Sarah Bennett delivers a story which has you falling in love not just with the gorgeous Jack but the setting as well. I wanted to walk along the promenade at the bay as well as delight in the smell of the lavender that I am convinced was seeping off the pages.

Whilst of course this is a romance, there were some reality moments to keep you in check. The behaviour of Eliza’s husband made me wanted to scream – a mere minor character can get under your skin, that’s how good the writing was for me. Then the subject of death and the ripple effect it has on everyone left behind, made my heart-break as time inevitably moves on.

I look forward to the third book in this trilogy when I can of course catch up with Eliza and Jack, Beth and Sam but also get to the bottom of Libby and the supposed irritation of Owen which was scattered through this book in a real taster of things to come. I hope I have guessed right.

A great read whether it is Summer or Winter.

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

Summer at Lavender Bay is out now.


The Housekeeper’s Daughter – Rosie Meddon

War is coming.

It is going to bring changes to Kate Bratton whose life is already planned for her, to be a maid, marry the gardener and have children for the cycle to start all over again, just like her own mother.

When the Russell family arrive at Woodicombe House, Kate is surprisingly elevated to position of ladies maid to Naomi Russell and whilst it is not her ideal job, it means she is exposed to thoughts and ideals of others and the handsome Ned, Naomi’s twin brother.

A friendship deepens between Kate and Naomi as they are both trying to avoid the paths that have been laid out for them.

War might be coming but it is secrets which is going to be the undoing of the Russell family and it seems that Kate is going to suffer as well.

Which is the safer option to follow the path or break out on your own?

I found this book slow in parts and I admit to skim reading quite a bit until the plot got going in the last third of the book. There was too much made of nothing I felt to pad the book out and the characters other than probably Kate and her family were rather too flat.  I have read better saga’s.

If you like historical fiction and don’t mind being taken on a slow stroll through a story then this book is ideal for you. I would be intrigued a to how the saga continues, I am assumed by the marketing that their will be more than one book but I am not sure if I would want to read it.

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

The Housekeeper’s Daughter is out now. 

Jottings · Witterings

June Roundup

So there went June in a blaze of heat and potential glory for football depending on your outlook – mine being a non football one!

I am rather chuffed with the reading I have done in the last month, even six months that of course means July is the time to post our Six in Six – I do hope you can join me and please spread the word so we can get a few more this year!

So let me get on with what I have read……. Lily Graham – The Island Villa was a different read from her previous novels but it was really good and took me away, abroad without having to set foot on a plane! A proper summer read.

Talking of Summer you can’t beat a bit of gossip so why not indulge in Kat French – A Summer Scandal about an abandoned pier which is brought back to life by its new owner – but it will not be all kiss me quick hats and candy floss!

Catching up on authors previous work and not wanting to read parts of stories – led be to hold on and read the whole of Cathy Bramley – The Lemon Tree Cafe she is fast becoming a favourite author and I think now is the time to publish her stories as a whole from the start!

I caught up with the lovely saga of Nancy Revell – Shipyard Girls in Love and I am thrilled to learn that there is more to come in this series of books.

Yet again the kindle was used considerably in June – damn that netgalley I say but I make a concerted effort to read actual books, because I do love holding them – which is why I went to Jenny Colgan – The Summer Seaside Kitchen bought on a whim because I had actually bought the second in this series – I hate to read things out-of-order. Which led me to discover Jenny Colgan – A Very Distant Shore a QuickReads novel with the characters I had grown to love in the first book – which led me to immediately picking up the second and reading it as June finishes and then to be delighted to hear that there will be a Christmas one too! I love to be able to consume books like this and get lost in another place.

A.J. Pearce – Dear Mrs Bird had been in the press and across social media and not wanting to miss out, I purchased the hardcover copy of this. What a wonderful gem of a book which will take a place on my shelf and without a doubt be reread. There is something so gentle about this book which is caught up in the middle of the bombing in London during the Second World War.

I went back to the First World War with Rosie Meddon – The Housekeeper’s Daughter. An author I do not know and whilst the book was not particularly strong it did hold some intrigue and picked up but I am not sure if I would read the next book. There are a lot of books I have waiting to be read.

One that had been sitting around for a while was Hazel Gaynor – The Cottingley Secret. I had read a previous novel by this author and was enchanted. I was bound to be with this one – it contains fairies of course. I knew of the story but this fictionalised it and perhaps makes you think.

That was June, over my target in terms of books read for my 2018 goal – and enjoying the football because that means more reading as nothing on the TV! It also means less knitting – too hot!


The Island Villa – Lily Graham

Charlotte’s husband has died not unexpectedly and when he was getting his estate in order, he purchased a villa in Formentera, one of the Balearic Islands.

It was most unexpected for Charlotte and as she is struggling to deal with the death of her husband, she now finds she has this villa.

But the villa is special.

The villa used to belong to Charlotte’s grandmother. Her wonderful husband has left her a piece of the past so perhaps she can heal in the future.

This book has a dual narrative and I was taken back to 1718 where two sisters on the island of Formentera have to take in a wounded man. No one must know that he is there and if they do they must lie about who he is.

Of course the two narratives have a connection and as Charlotte learns so much about her own family background and makes new friends she can see a future forming ahead of her.

For the two sisters, some three hundred years ago. Secrets are the cause of so much pain and anguish and secret love is going to tear apart a family. I felt so much for these characters and it was an interesting part of history that i knew nothing about and has meant I have now read more. I admit to not even knowing the island existed.

I think this is a very different book from the others I have read by this author and I am not sure if this is a one-off or a change in direction permanently. It would matter neither way as all her books and great reads.

I rarely say a book should be longer but bizarrely it would have worked for this particular storyline, I simply wanted to know more. Think of the dual narrative works of Kate Morton or Lucinda Riley, books you can lose yourself in. I did lose myself in this book because I was transported to the island and the sun, the sea, the heat what more could you ask for in a summer read?

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

The Island Villa is published 29th June.






A Shot in the Dark – Lynne Truss

I am always on the lookout for interesting reads and especially books which have a historical element to them and so this murder mystery book set in the late 1950s and in Brighton sounded just the thing to take me away from all the nice fluffy reading I have been doing.

Inspector Steine is head of the local police department in a place where he says no crime is committed. . The Inspector is still dining out on the fact that a mere seven years previous he took the glory for two rival gangs who managed to all kill each other. Clearly there cannot be anymore crime in Brighton.

Sergeant Brunswick is desperate to be able to solve a crime and to go undercover to do this. He is thwarted at every turn by Steine.

Constable Twitten is a young whippersnapper who is being moved from police station to police station, not because he is no good but because he is too good. A stint in Brighton seems to the be the last resort.

Of course there needs to a crime – and so there is – now keep up at the back…..a hated theatre critic shot dead in his theatre seat whilst just about to reveal something about a crime he was victim of some years previous. A strong woman who escapes prison, a phrenologist who is not what he seems, a red-headed opinion poll lady, stolen jewels, dead actors and of course a murderer.

As I reflect back this was somewhat of a humorous novel, but for me it was somewhat lacking the humour simply didn’t work for me. The change in tone of the writing felt I was treated as rather foolish and couldn’t possibly understand what was happening without clear direction from the author so I was told what to think. That may well have been the intention but for me I rather make up my own mind about these things.

Towards the denouement it became rather ludicrous, that an Inspector so inept could continue and get away with what he had done, with no spark of conscience. The constable had the answers but was in no position to convince anyone of the truth and so much was left unsaid.

This was not the book I thought it was going to be and I was left rather disappointed and unsatisfied. However, it may well be a book that many other people will enjoy – so it is worth a try if you like murder mystery novels.

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

A Shot in the Dark is out on 28 June. 


Books · Jottings · Witterings

Six in Six – 2018 Edition

So I have brought it back for another year– the meme that if you only do one in the year, then this is the one to do. It’s normally the meme I can only manage to do.

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 six years and get a flavour then please do.







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

I have again added a few new ones this year.

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 2018.

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 2018 reading year!


Dear Mrs Bird – A.J.Pearce

Emmeline Lake wants to be a newspaper correspondent, in fact a war correspondent. Why not women are driving motorcycles and in factories, the war in its perverse way is giving opportunities to females that pre 1939 was not.

When she chances upon an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle she grabs the opportunity and successfully secures the job.

What Emmeline gets though is not the job she has dreamed of. She gets to work with the indomitable Mrs Bird the advice columnist for a women’s weekly magazine. Everyone has to start somewhere but she is starting by filtering most of the letters written as they are deemed unacceptable. Mrs Bird is quite clear as to what she sees as acceptable correspondence to be answering.

Emmeline does not.

Making the best of the situation she is in, Emmeline decides perhaps she could possibly answer some of these letters privately. Risking everything she does, but then she goes one step further and gets on of her answers published in the weekly magazine.

It is bound to end in disaster.

But then all around them disaster is striking out close to home. We are not just taken with the correspondence during this period of war. We are taken right into the heart of the home front and the bombing in London.

Emmeline also volunteers at the Auxiliary Fire Service as a telephone operator overnight – she gets to hear first hand the devastation of the German bombers – then one night it is brought much closer to home.

It seems that Emmeline could be about to lose a lot through her actions and the war.

This is a wonderful novel which transports you into the heart of Emmeline’s life, into the heart of London, into the reality that is war on the Home Front. Not afraid to tackle subjects either through the letters that are written in to Mrs Bird or the main storyline of the book, this debut author captured my heart and attention immediately and I was completely drawn into the story.

Perfect if you enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society .