Books

Happily Ever After at the Dog and Duck – Jill Steeples

I thought the previous book was the last in this series about the villagers of Little Leyton. It seemed that everything was tidied up and there were no loose ends, of course sometimes you always want to nip back and see what is happening.

And this is what Jill Steeples has done with this, her definite last book in the series.

Ellie, now finding her feet as a mum, as well as still being the owner of the Dog and Duck and lady of the manor in the big house in the village, which seems to attract everyone.

Ellie realises that she wants to spend the rest of her life with Max and that it is the perfect time for them to get married. So with only a few weeks to get everything organised she adds another thing to do to her already full list!

But she doesn’t bank on a fire, a mother in law moving in, lost dogs, secrets, accidents and snow!

With a lot packed into this book it is obvious that the path to the altar is not going to be straightforward, but has Ellie got the strength?

It was lovely to go back and especially spend another Christmas at Little Leyton, it felt like getting caught up again with your favourite characters in a television programme (that perfect Sunday Night Drama).

Heartwarming and a simply lovely read, best read as a whole series from the beginning then I think you get a real sense of the place and the people.

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

All of the Dog and Duck series are out now. 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

Books · Jottings

October Roundup

What a funny old month – the reading slowed down and then has sped up at a great speed due to illness and not being able to sleep! At this point I am grateful to my kindle, but not so grateful to whoever gave me an ear & chest infection along with laryngitis. It has been a quiet and deaf last few days of October.

Anyway, enough of my ailments – what about the books?

In a bid to make a dent in my own bookshelves I only managed to read Katie Fforde – A Secret Garden. A classic Katie Fforde and a perfect piece of escapism. There is something rather comforting relying on particular authors to transport you away, which is why I was eager to read Jenny Colgan – Island Christmas.

I stumble across this series of Colgan books by accident and devoured them all up and then had to wait to continue the wonderful story of the lives and characters of the fictitious island of Mure, based on an island in the Hebrides. If a book inspired you to go somewhere it was these books – in a busy and demanding world sometimes the thought of escape to recapture oneself is a dream.

I am also just discovering more of Milly Johnson’s work and so to take another book that has been languishing on my netgalley shelf this time I picked up Milly Johnson – The Perfectly Imperfect Woman. It had everything in a story that I like and made me keep coming back for more.

Trouble when you start a series of books and you are hooked, you do have to keep coming back for more, which is why I got hold of the last in the trilogy of Lavender Bay Sarah Bennett – Snowflakes at Lavender Bay. I know series have to end, but there are some of the characters I always want to go back and see again – that was this book.

Trying to lose some of what some people might call ‘fluffy’ reading I picked up Lesley Kara – The Rumour. I love rumours, what starts out as something innocent can snowball and gather pace until it bears no resemblance to the truth. But what if some rumours are actually pure simple truth? I say no more, but I think this a book that you are going to have to look out for when published at the end of the year.

Rumours is how many an Agatha Christie is solved, that innocent piece of gossip actually leads Poirot or Marple to the truth. In bid to make my way through her body of work and because I caught the adaptation on the television a while back I picked up Agatha Christie – After the Funeral. Some might think it bizarre to read after the watch, and for the majority I would agree. But when it comes to Dame A sometimes a little prior knowledge means that I approach the book as a challenge and see if I can see the clues.

Rumours and clues and then of course there is secrets. Moving away from women’s fiction, Lily Graham is branching out into dual time narrative historical fiction and she is winning the race. Lily Graham – The Paris Secret is a book which reminds you of the innocence of love during wartime and what some of the consequences could be. Fascinating.

Finally, I got to Joanna Nell – The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village which is another book been hanging around the netgalley shelf. It is a lovely quiet read, that takes you all the way to Australia – I did not realise this until about two-thirds of the way through the book. (*rolls eyes*). I did not even pick it up from the language, but it tells the story of the women in a retirement village who are not quite yet ready to retire from living a life!

So that was October, and whilst I write this in November and having already finished one book I am hoping that the lurgy dispatches soon as much as I enjoy all the stories, I would like some actual sleep at night.

Books

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland – Heidi Swain

Last Christmas I was transported to Wynthorpe Hall in Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair.  I was introduced to Angus and Catherine, owners of the hall.

Jamie, Archie and Christopher are their sons.

The Hall is a magnet for gathering waifs and strays into their family fold which is how Anna was introduced in the first novel But we also have the cook Dorothy; handyman Mike; local wise lady Molly and cleaner come general factotum Hayley.

So that is the setting, the place and the characters. This novel introduces another visitor to the Hall, Gabe who comes to help Jamie with his outdoor adventure scheme which he has started to help children that have perhaps not had the best start in life.

Gabe soon fits into the ways of the hall but his first meeting is when he literally bumps into Hayley as she goes to investigate where her fiance has disappeared to and who with on the night of their engagement party.

The results are as you would expect and Gabe, ironically short for Gabriel is the angel that saves her.

Hayley swears off all men and ever finding that one true honest love and goes back to her acerbic and strong-willed ways. Gabe seems to get under her skin though and just as she thinks perhaps life maybe different, he retreats. Every time it is further and until Hayley is forced to give up and her head is turned back to the past.

In the meantime, building on the success of last years sleigh rides – Angus wants to open a Winter Wonderland and he needs everyone on board family or otherwise for it to work. Hayley and Gabe are push together again but it seems that Hayley’s talents might lie elsewhere.

Will the Winter Wonderland work? And will Hayley and Gabe sort out whatever it is they keep falling out over?

Heidi Swain in my opinion has done it again in drawing you into a story which of course has a romantic plot line but has so much else going on as well. She manages to make sure all the characters are well-rounded and have depth, even if they are minor and I am as much intrigued by Dorothy and Molly as I was delighted to be able to catch up with Anna and Jamie.

You can read this as a stand alone novel, but to be honest if you want to get a complete feel for the setting, the characters, and of course Christmas then I highly recommend going back and reading Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells.

An excellent Christmas read and if your Christmas is normally wet, grey and miserable this is a sure-fire way of immersing yourself in a Christmas that can exist!

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

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland is published on 2 November 2018.

Heidi Swain’s other novels (in order of publication and if you want to read them in order)

The Cherry Tree Cafe

Summer at Skylark Farm

Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market

Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage

Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair

Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square