Books

November Roundup

First of all November was the month where I completed by Goodreads Challenge.

I think this is the first time I have done so as early as mid November. Ironically my reading has since slowed down and I have given up on two books, but more of that later. I am quite chuffed but still maintain I won’t change that 100 number for 2019.

It seemed to be the month of completing series of books as I did when I picked up Emma Davies – Christmas at the Little Cottage on the Hill. I highly recommend these books and they are great if you fancy a binge read.

It is always a great when you think a series of books is over and then you get another one Jill Steeples – Happily Ever After at The Dog & Duck does just that and now I think the series is finally over! Again another lovely set of books to read.

Of course thanks to netgalley I get to read a lot of books but no matter how many I read on my kindle I still love holding a book in my hands and the chunkier the better. That was the case when I picked off my shelf Michelle Magorian – Impossible. This is the author of Goodnight Mister Tom and through the years I have read many of her other books and they have always been a great delight and capturing reads. This one, not so much but not enough to stop reading her books.

Another actual hold in your hand book was Celia Imrie – Sail Away. I have always been sceptical of famous people or ‘celebs’ writing fiction and in some cases it doesn’t always work and in others it does. This falls into the latter (thank goodness) and was a great pick since I went on my first cruise this year. Luckily though none of the things that happened in this book I was aware of on my cruise. But I did miss seeing any of the dancing in the afternoon!

Cruising seemed to be a theme when I then unaware picked up Annabel Kantaria  – The Disappearance. It had been languishing on my netgalley to read shelf which was the only reason for choosing it. But did she jump or was she pushed? Who, where and why? You will have to read the book to find out for yourself.

The classic whodunnit means I alway go back to Agatha Christie and in slow time bid to read all her novels I have ticked another off the list – Agatha Christie – The ABC Murders. This is one of the latest Sarah Phelps adaptations and will be shown over the Christmas period on the BBC.

Obviously because Christmas is coming I cracked on with some more Christmas reading with a most recent publication Veronica Henry – Christmas at The Beach Hut. A good festive read on the beach and a return to a place the author has been before. Ironically The Beach Hut was the first of this authors work that I read!

The final book for the month I read was Alex Brown – The Wish another book which has been hanging around on my netgalley shelf and I don’t know why because I enjoy this authors work. Sometimes you can have just too many books to read and not enough time.

I am currently reading a book I knew nothing about – The Truth About the Harry Querbert Affair which has got me gripped but I have been so busy with birthdays, nights out, work that the reading and the knitting has taken a bit of a back seat.

Whether it is because I have been busy or tired but there were two books which just did not do it for me. The Last Romeo – Justin Myers and The Year of Surprising Acts of Kindness – Laura Kemp. We should probably give up on more books than we do as there are so many more out there to read.

So that’s November and here we are in December and I need some more Christmas reading to get me in the spirit after a whole weekend of Christmas decorating at work.

 

 

 

 

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Books

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman – Milly Johnson

Marnie has made plenty of mistakes in her life. Her latest drives her away from her home, her job and her friends. But actually Marnie hasn’t really found her true home or her true job. And as for her friends and family it all seems to have been a lie.

When she makes friends with an old lady, Lilian, on an internet chat room and blurts out her whole story, little does she know that it is about to change her life forever.

Marnie heads to Wychwell, in the Yorkshire Dales. To seek sanctuary in the village of Lilian’s. It is in fact Lilian’s village, she is the owner, the lady of the manor in fact.

When events take a rather odd turn, Marnie it turns out is the one the whole village will look up to and her actions are going to be under scrutiny.

Not only is Marnie dealing with the fallout of her sudden role, but the death of her adoptive mother, her precious sister and her flaky friend. Plus there are rumours abound in the village about a witch.

There is so much packed into this book and the characters really pop off the page. Marnie is flawed as are all humans, but she doesn’t accept her flaws and cannot see what anyone else could possibly see in her. But as readers we can and so does some of the key characters. Marnie’s background brought tears to my eyes and could quite easily have made a sadder story than it turned out to be.

Village life, baking, gossips, rumours of witches, deaths, handsome men, meddling neighbours and love. Everything you want in a book and more!

This is one of the better Milly Johnson books I have read.

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

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman is out now. 

Books

The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village – Joanna Nell

I think secretly we all want to grow old disgracefully – I certainly do.

So do a number of the residents of the Jacaranda Retirement Village.

Meet Peggy, widowed with just her dog Basil for company. Her children David and Jenny have other ideas about where Peggy should be living and are ready to pounce as the slightest indication of dementia or even a fall.

But Peggy is just simply existing in her beige apartment, with her beige clothes, living rather a beige life. her excitement for the week is either a visit to the doctor or seeing fellow resident Brian head off swimming.

That is until Angie a childhood friend turns up at the village and starts to shake things up not just for Peggy but for the stalwarts on committees and the like.

Angie takes Peggy under her wing, when she has that ultimate fall and gets some colour back into Peggy’s life with her clothes as well as her hobbies. Peggy does things she has never done before and embraces it all with aplomb and with much shock to her family.

But Angie is hiding some secrets and it doesn’t take long for the roles to be reversed and Peggy suddenly sees life in a different way.

This is a gentle book, that meanders along doctors appointments, committee meetings, aqua aerobics, almost the mundane aspects of perhaps what some people thinks of as retirement. It is all told humour and some stark reality about life with certain medical conditions and the process of ageing.

It is all about life being lived whatever your age and limitations – basically the author is telling us there is nothing to stop you other than death!

A skilful debut novel which draws on the author’s experiences clearly as a GP – (I only discovered this after I had read the book) and interestingly her setting, Australia was not so obvious to me despite perhaps the language clues and it too me until two-thirds of the way through the book to realise where it was set. (Again, the author UK born has moved to Australia). What it did show me that no matter where you are in the world, there is an expectation of how our aging population are being treated.

Interesting to see what comes next from this author.

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

The Single Ladies of the Jacaranda Village is out now. 

 

Books

Christmas at the Beach Hut – Veronica Henry

Lizzy loves Christmas and she loves her family, but when they decide that their lives are slightly more important than family tradition at Christmas Lizzy has had enough.

She leaves a note and decamp to The Beach Hut.

Harley knows he cannot live a moment longer with Tony, his stepfather. If he does he will be pushed to take action which won’t help his mother, Leanne or little brother River.

Harley decides to leave and decamp to The Beach Hut.

Jack decides he wants to have a different Christmas this year with his young son Nat. Still grieving for his wife, he sees this Christmas as the start of something new.

Jack decides to leave his family behind and decamp to The Beach Hut.

Of course these three sets of characters and their backstories are all thrown together especially as Christmas is going to be very different this year.

This is a heartwarming story and ideal for Christmas reading. Lizzy embraces the mild panic (that many probably feel) when having to be the main organiser of Christmas and it is not until someone stops doing something do the rest of the family realise how much she does. It was bittersweet to watch how Lizzy’s husband Simon and the twins, Hattie and Luke suddenly feel completely lost without that one person to ground them all. Add into the mix a secret Lizzy is hiding and it might be Christmas will not ever be the same again.

Harley, devastated that his father is now incarcerated and not even allowed to mention him in front of his mother is struggling to cope with being an adult. To take himself out of a situation but watch as his mother and brother still suffer with a different type of incarceration means he feels  helpless at what he can do. Sometimes strangers put things in perspective and help in unexpected ways.

I fell adorably in love with Jack and Nat. The father struggling to be a single dad to Nat, who though misses his mum just simply wants to make sure that Father Christmas will know they are at the beach hut. Even if it does not have a chimney. When Jack and Nat are welcomed by Lizzy and Harley, it seems that you can perhaps see life in a different way and that the future does not necessarily have to be so bleak.

This is a great Christmas read and a wonderful example of Veronica Henry’s writing. A great place to start if you have never read anything by this author before. She has some real gems of novels and this is certainly one of them!

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

Christmas at The Beach Hut is out now. 

And I must get round to reading more Veronica Henry!

Books

Christmas at the Little Cottage on the Hill – Emma Davies

Ruby takes her ten-year old son, Jem and baby, Darcie and takes them away from everything they know. It it the beginning of December and they are not moving to another town but this time the countryside. She doesn’t have any regrets taking herself and her children away from the bullying man she married but it seems to be affecting Jem greatly and Ruby is taking the brunt of it.

When she arrives a Joy’s Acre to stay temporarily in one of the renovated cottages, she finds herself overwhelmed with joy, love, friendship, a wedding and snow!

The local woodsman Angus makes himself useful at the cottage, bringing wood to the keeps fires always going in the cold weather and also inspiring her young son to take his anger and frustration about having had to move again through looking what nature can do and the joy it can bring.

Whilst it seems Jem is settling, Ruby finds herself being thrown into helping with the wedding and reception party at Joy’s Acre of its owners Seth and Maddie. Her skills as a knitter and craft fan mean that she is much in demand when the tree arrives that needs decorating.

Then the snow starts and doesn’t stop. That throws everyone’s plans into disarray and when the power cut comes it seems that the Christmas that they were all planning is not going well.

Amongst all the wedding plans Jem goes missing, as the snow is drifting and the power has gone out. Has Ruby’s idea of a dream Christmas been shattered? Will she ever stop hiding and believe in the power of good people, love and friendship? But only if they find Jem.

This book really has everything, plenty of wonderfully described scenery, the smell of Trixie’s baking as she whips up delights for all those working at Joy’s Acre, Clara’s abilities with flowers and gardening, Tom’s thatching and the whole of joy of being at Joy’s Acre. There is plenty to make you laugh and lots to make you cry as well. It is a well-rounded story, with characters to get to know who are constructed so well and develop as the book progresses that it is a joy to know them. I wanted to go and stay at Joy’s Acre immediately.

The place is simply brought to life as is the story and is a book that should read!

This is the final book in the series of the Little Cottage on the Hill. I would heartily recommend reading all of them in order (my OCD kicking in) because that way you’ll understand the draw of Joy’s Acre, as well as experience such strong writing and characterisation.

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

Christmas at the Little Cottage on the Hill is out now. 

 

There are plenty of female authors out there writing series of books pigeonholed as women’s fiction and some are simply passable but others like this one are a must read and have had me hooked. So much that I binge read the first two and then was there when the third was released, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to read this one via netgalley. 

I have only reviewed the last book as it was a netgalley request I was simply enjoying reading the others and as regular readers to this blog should know I don’t always review every book I read. 

Having read a lot of women’s fiction for the last couple of years, I am starting to get a bit more pickier in the authors and books I pick up. Netgalley can introduce to some great and not so great (in my humble opinion) and I found myself getting caught up in reading everything by a particular author when it was only just ‘blah’. I have made a conscious decision not to do that anymore especially when I read books such as this one and know there is some quality writing out there. 

 

 

 

Books

The Mother of All Christmases – Milly Johnson

Meet three women who through one common denominator are going to be friends forever – they are all pregnant.

But that is the only common thing between them all.

Eve, pregnant and due on Christmas Day owns and runs the Winter Wonderland theme park which was featured in a previous Johnson novel. You don’t have to have read it to make any sense of this story, but it was lovely to meet back up with familiar characters.

Having a baby is not really a problem, but when there are other distractions and some dangerous accidents going on, is Eve really safe to carry on working there?

Annie, childless and now content with her life with her italian husband, Joe runs the cracker factory which specialises not just in the mass market ones but also handmade, bespoke ones too. But as she ages, the inevitable she thinks is happening that is until she is told that she is in fact pregnant and not going through the menopause. Utter joy fills both Annie and Joe.

Palma agreed to be a surrogate for a couple she thought could not have children. It was the way she was able to access money and get herself out of the life she found herself in. She wanted better and she was not afraid to work for it, but she needs to escape her past. Trouble is the couple split up and Palma is left with some very difficult choices.

Coming together at their Doctor’s new Christmas Pudding Club the women forge a friendship and we get to see them as they go through the highs and lows of their impending motherhood.

Add into that, some unsavoury character, cracker making, a wedding, an important boxing match and of course Christmas and there is much packed into this novel. It made me laugh out loud and it made me cry with joy and sadness. What more could you want or need from a novel?

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

The Mother of All Christmases is published on the 15th November. 

Books

Snowflakes at Lavender Bay – Sarah Bennett

Libby has lived all her life in Lavender Bay and whilst she has seen her friends go and gravitate back to the place she has no desire to leave it. Lavender Bay is her world and she is quite happy about that fact.

However her friends, Eliza and Beth both have romance in their lives and this is something that perhaps if Libby admitted it to herself she craves as well.

When Owen walks into the local pub and all of their lives, it seems that he is going to be a permanent feature in Lavender Bay.

Owen and Libby seem to rub each other up the wrong way and you can see the sparks fly whenever they get into conversation with each other. But perhaps with them sparks comes a little flame of desire?

That is if Libby can make up her mind what she wants – and also what she really wants to do with her life?

Libby does not want to run the fish and chip shop – she has a fancy for cream teas and scones.

Her dad thinks she should see some of the world when he retires and sells the fish and chip shop they run. Only trouble is that he hasn’t told her this…..so he goes ahead and sells the shop.

Will the new owner of the fish and chip shop reveal their identity or will Libby carry on trying to create her dream life without knowing all the facts?

This is the final part of the Lavender Bay trilogy and probably was my favourite of the three. It can easily be read as a standalone but if you do decide to read them all – in order then you will see how cleverly this novel has been almost woven on top of the previous two as you see things from Libby and Owen’s point of view.

There is something about being taken to the seaside as winter comes in, as the tourists go home and only the hardy locals understand that community has to survive in all seasons. The snow (which is not really common by the beach I live by) adds an almost magical element to the story and gives it a real wintry feel.

A great read for those cold wintry nights – even the warm ones too!

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

Snowflakes at Lavender Bay is published on 8 November. 

You can see all my reviews of Sarah Bennett’s books here 

Sunrise at Butterfly Cove

Wedding Bells at Butterfly Cove

Christmas at Butterfly Cove

Spring at Lavender Bay

Summer at Lavender Bay