Books

The Kicking the Bucket List – Cathy Hopkins

Iris has created a kicking the bucket list – but the list ironically is not for her to complete before she dies.

It is in fact for her three daughters, Rose, Dee and Fleur to complete in the space of twelve months following Iris’ death. Iris sees it as a way of bringing her daughters closer to her, despite her being gone and also to show them that whatever may be going on in their lives that they ultimately have each other. For Iris, their estrangement has gone on too long, it cannot go on past her death.

The stipulation of this list is that they cannot claim the inheritance until after the twelve months has passed and they have completed all of the tasks.

It is going to be a tough year for these three women. Rose is the eldest, controlling, critical, organised and very uptight, she is hiding something from her sisters. Dee is about to lose her home and any sort of base she has ever had, she cannot find the man to make her happy. Fleur is a flighty as her name suggests to me, although successful she is alone and without any real purpose.

Will the tasks that their late mother has left them, show them what life can really be like?

The tasks are very wide-ranging and seemingly come out of nowhere, but all of them when looked at together are there to enable them to reflect. However, despite their late mother’s hope and messages in setting all of this up, it seems as if the three sisters are never going to get on.

This is a book which has a bucketful of emotions in it. At times you are going to laugh, to cry and to stop and reflect about your own place in the world and the relationships you have within that. It also makes you realise that you really do not know what is going on in people’s lives, especially those close to you and perhaps all it will need is five minutes to reconnect.

As an only child the dynamic between the sisters is intriguing and engaging as a storyline and I have read books using a similar concept to the plot, but this one was captivating and kept me reading. Well worth a read.

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

The Kicking the Bucket List is out now. 

Books

The Bluebell Bunting Society – Poppy Dolan

If you are a fan of Cathy Bramley, Trisha Ashley, Katie Fforde to name a few of my favourites, then you will love this book.

Connie finds herself coming up to 30 having not achieved anything that she really wanted to. Life certainly has not gone the way she thought it would. She is currently the caretaker of the local village hall, aptly named Bluebell Hall taking on the mantle after her grandmother died.

It might not be what she wanted to do, but she loves Bluebell Hall and the community and it all it stands for. If the numbers using the hall do not increase then it means the hall will have to be used for another purpose – one that the residents of the community will not want. It is a common problem, small villages do not want to see part of their history taken over by a big corporate entity but they do nothing to use the existing buildings until it is almost too late. Connie has ideas to draw people into the building and increase the numbers……..

…………….. this one involves material, thread and sewing machines.

Of course disaster is waiting to happen and you can see it hanging over their head (literally as it turns out) but with the determination of Connie and the friends she has suddenly made in the village it looks like Bluebell Hall could be staying for a little bit longer.

This is a heartwarming novel, which taps into the themes of friendship, loss and community. There is a smattering of romance, but for me that did not overtake the main substance of the novel, it nicely simmered in the background. Add into that the village feel, crafts and a lovely bright cover what more could you want from a novel.

Actually I do want more – I want to go back and see how Connie is faring and the other villagers.

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

The Bluebell Bunting Society is out now. 

 

 

Books

March Roundup

2017 is marching on and it is yet time to reflect back at what I have read this month. A varied choice and one where it really reflects that I am reading as I fancy and trying not to be dictated to by deadlines. This can be a challenge when so many lovely books have been appearing on netgalley. I am determined to get that feedback ratio to a better number!

Amazingly and I noticed it – all but one of the nine books I read this month were on my kindle. How I missed holding a book, in fact I am sure I craved it at times. When I did pick up a book I went to a well trodden series and one I am enjoying James Runcie – Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins. I would like to complete the whole collection of these in terms of reading the hardback copies which are beautiful in themselves, providing the publisher does not change the artwork near the end of the series.

I love a charming novel that you can sink your teeth into and escape for a few hours and when the novel is published as a whole it will be one I will recommend but luckily I got to finish reading Shelia Norton – The Vets at Hope Green: Too Close to Home and Shelia Norton – The Vets at Hope Green: A New Start. There will be more on this blog about the book in the weeks to come.

I noticed that Tilly Tennant had a new novel coming out and it appeared to be a follow on to one that I had on my kindle (thanks to netgalley) and I thought perhaps I had inadvertently stumbled into another series of books, published as short stories first before the final novel. However with Tilly Tennant – Rome is Where the Heart is I got a whole novel (a good 300 pages) and fell in love with Rome and the characters who now I have to go back and revisit in the next part. Luckily I have that to read and cannot wait to go back and be part of their lives again.

Going back to authors you know is always comforting and reassuring especially when you know what you’re going to get. Going to Dinah Jefferies – Before the Rains meant that not only was I going to get an excellent story I was going to learn something at the same time. This time I was transported to India, a time which was changing as British Rule was coming to its end. A fascinating tale.

I do love my history and I suppose with Andrew Wilson – A Talent for Murder I was getting some more that. Except this book which I think you are going to see a lot when it is published in May. It’s main character is Agatha Christie herself – bet that got your attention! I say no more at this time.

Of course going back to what you know and love is always good, but finding something new to read is just as! This is why I have discovered the wonderful tale of Jennifer Bohnet – Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera. 

A perfect read when on holiday or a read when you want to escape from the dull greyness and want some bright sunshine and good story.

All books are an escape perhaps some more than others, lots make you think when you least expect it. Cathy Hopkins – The Kicking the Bucket List is an example of that.

This is a book which has a bucketful of emotions in it. At times you are going to laugh, to cry and to stop and reflect about your own place in the world and the relationships you have within that.

Then there is the sheer joy that books can bring, just simply by the story they tell and the feeling you get when you have read it, knowing that behind the bright colourful cover there was something to be found. The cover of Poppy Dolan – The Bluebell Bunting Society made me smile before I had even read it.

As March ends I am in fact in the middle of reading three books which is very unlike me. Luckily they are all different, in different eras that I have been able to achieve this without my brain going into a complete meltdown. What I do need to do though is to start finishing them (if you excuse the oxymoron) there are plenty of books waiting in the wings.

You may have noticed a slight difference in blog layout and colours, I hope it is not too offensive on the eye, but felt like a fresh change. It is Spring after all.

 

Books

A Spring Affair: Willow Cottage – Bella Osborne

I was so excited to be able to read the next part in Beth and Leo’s story. I have grown to care for Beth and Leo and only want what is best for them especially as in this book we find more about what Beth is running from and why.

The cottage is really starting to take shape and trying to save money, Beth is determined to do as much as she can on her own. Even though Jack has helped she realises that she is getting too close to him especially when she learns something about his past. Bella puts two and two together and sadly makes five, and it is this which sets her on a path to alienate herself from everyone again. She is not planning on staying at Willow Cottage for long and it seems she may have to move quicker than she first thought.

When a rain-soaked day ends up with her kitchen flooded, she has no choice but to turn to Jack.

In this part we see more of Carly and her boyfriend, Fergus which was great as it added more depth to the book. Of course Carly and Fergus knew little of what Beth was running away from but as they learn so do we. As backgrounds are filled in on the characters as the story progresses it made me want to keep reading but now I will have to wait for the final part.

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

Willow Cottage : A Spring Affair is out on 23rd March.  The final part is due out in May with the complete book out in August. 

 

 

Books

Sunrise at Butterfly Cove – Sarah Bennett

Attracted by the cover and nothing more really, I picked this book up. Not knowing what I was going to get, after having read some rather weaker women’s fiction I was a bit wary with this choice.

Within the first couple of pages, all doubts were thrown away as I settled into this wonderful novel. Right from the beginning you are swept up into Mia’s life.

Mia is heartbroken, her future was taken away from her when her husband died. She has not moved on in any way apart from doing one thing, buying a run down guest house by the sea and singlehandedly renovating it. Whilst not quite estranged from her family they have taken other paths and routes through life and Mia has now distanced herself from them all.

The only family she has is Madeline and Richard, local residents at Butterfly Cove who have taken her under their wing and been helping with the house.

That is until Madeline stumbles upon Daniel Fitzwilliam, newly arrived from London and looking for a place to stay. Madeline just knows the prefect guesthouse for him.

Trouble is the guesthouse is not finished and Mia is not looking for any guests yet.

Daniel is running from something and seems hurt by the actions and decisions he has made.

A friendship begins to develop and they both recognise something in each other and slowly a healing process takes place.

As relationships heal, move forward so does the renovations on the guest house and it becomes very much a feature of both Mia and Daniel. The future is held within the walls, decorations, colours and the photographs.

Whilst you could say it was inevitable what was going to happen, I think the story has a lot more depth to it and a lot of raw emotion and love is contained in the short amount of pages than can be found wanting in some much longer novels. It is this which kept me reading, kept me awake to see the guest house develop, to see Mia grow stronger, to see Daniel forget his past and for everything to come together. All the characters are fully developed and this is what makes it a real strong story.

And the best bit of the novel – this is in fact the first in a trilogy. Which means I can go back and visit Butterfly Cove.

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

Sunrise at Butterfly Cove is out now. 

Books

The Cosy Coffee Shop of Promsies – Kellie Hailes

There is quite a lot packed into this novel and it is relatively short at only 155 pages.

Mel is living her dream of settling in one place and running a coffee shop and she does not need a man to make her life fulfilled and complete.

That is until she goes into the local pub and sees a brand new sparkling coffee machine.

Tony is trying to do anything that he can to save the pub, that is his main focus. The women seem to never stick around in his world. The pub has become the other woman.

Mel is prepared to do battle with Tony.

Promises are made, but they are heavily weighted one way. With the imminent arrival of her mother who is seeking for the right one, Mel needs a fiance and needs one quick.

A deal is struck, but will emotions and feelings remain out of it?

I enjoyed this novel, it was a very light read. However, I did skim read some of it because it had a predictability about it, not much was gripping me. I think what was missing from this novel was the secondary stories from some of the other characters. It’s total focus was Mel and Tony and I felt that they would have been given more depth if we had some sort of interaction with other characters and their lives. Even Mel’s mother is not very two-dimensional.

A light read for when you need something to enjoy but perhaps not get swept up in.

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

The Cosy Coffee Shop of Promises is out now on kindle. 

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.