Books

Christmas Carols and a Cornish Cream Tea – Cressida McLaughlin

Meredith is not a fan of Christmas, and does her utmost to avoid for the last ten years. However her new job in a Cornish gift shop means that she has no choice but to embrace the festive season.

When her boss wants to give hampers to the great and good of Porthglow, Meredith finds herself suddenly thrust into the festive season. Coupled with helping her best friend Anisha to create a last minute Christmas spectacular for Porthglow, Meredith cannot help become swept away.

Then enters Finn, as Meredith emerges from her cold water swimming, she meets Finn. And he seems to keep popping up everywhere around the little village and volunteers to help deliver the hampers. Finn embraces the true Christmas spirit and is determined for Meredith to see what Christmas can really be like, but he is not telling all and seems to be keeping something hidden.

This booked is packed full of Christmas, Cornish coastlines, Cold Water swimming, Carols, Charm and plenty of Curiosity to keep the reader guessing about whether; the festive hampers will be a success; the blossoming relationship between Finn and Meredith and who really owns the house on the cliff, that Meredith has dreamed about for a long time.

This is not a follow on from the previous Cornish Cream Tea novels, but some familiar faces do appear, but no matter if this is your first encounter with this authors work. It is an excellent Christmas read to get you in the spirit full of light, life and love. Perfect!

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

Christmas Carols and a Cornish Cream Tea is out now.

Books

Shipyard Girls Under the Mistletoe – Nancy Revell

As this series reaches Christmas 1944, anyone who knows about the Second World War will realise that the end is in sight. And so it seems it must be for the wonderful Shipyard Girls who I have been with since the beginning, who I have shared ups and downs with, tears and laughter with and that whenever I pick up the latest novel I am picking up with lost friends.

Dorothy shares a special kiss with someone who hasn’t proposed to her. She is in complete turmoil, as she doesn’t know what she should do for the best. Her friends all tease her, but dep down they all love Dorothy and want the best for her and just maybe the person on the other end of that kiss is the right one after all!

Helen Crawford, manager of the shipyard where the women work is still battling with her mother, who has appeared back on the scene and with the behaviour of her grandfather, Charles Havelock. A man everyone despises, but seems to always come up smelling of roses. Testament to how well a character is portrayed, Charles Havelock makes you want to throw your book across the room. The secrets that are being revealed over the course of previous books as well as this one are shocking and the current behaviour sees Helen question her own family closely and whether she will find her happy ever after.

Of course we still get to see all the other wonderful characters, Polly, Gloria, Rosie and Hannah to name a few and of course little stories are weaved amongst the main plots, so we know that there is more loose ends to tie up. So excellently written and so heartfelt in making sure that whilst good always overcomes evil, eventually! The spirit of the war, the strength of communities in adversity leaps from the page and it is full of plucky women at the centre. What more could you want from a saga?

As the Shipyard Girls, the Second World War and us readers reach the conclusion of this wonderful saga, I cannot wait for the final book in the series.

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

The Shipyard Girls Under the Mistletoe is out now.

If you wish to know more about this series, then please search my blog for all the previous reviews.

Books

A Special Cornish Christmas – Phillipa Ashley

Bo Grayson loves Christmas and she thinks this year is going to be even more wonderful as she gets to spend it with the one she loves. Until he decides on Christmas eve that perhaps trying again with his fiancé might be a better option.

Bo heartbroken, decides that she will throw herself into all the other wonderful and enjoyable parts of her life. Her café is popular and she has a band of loyal local customers as well as the holiday makers but she still wants to give more. Then there is her hobby with the Falford Flingers – a rock and roll dance group which bleeds into her own personal style which makes her unique from a lot of other women.

Ran, has noticed Bo before, but his heart is also battered and bruised and merely looks from afar. However, along with Bo’s friend April for fun at a fete go and see what Madame Odette predicts for them all. All come out with the same result it seems – a generic “you will meet the love of your life by Christmas”. Looking for love is the last thing all three of them would be thinking about, however it seems that love can come in many forms and guises.

Phillipa Ashley has created another wonderful Cornish tale of Christmas, community and somehow brings the world of rock and roll dancing to life from the page as I am sure I was tapping my foot along as the Falford Flingers – flung each other round various dance floors and with varying partners!

A wonderful joyous book for a Christmas read which brought together, the delicious smells and tastes of Christmas, the Cornish coastline, the crafts that can help us heal and the wonderful added bonus a sprinkling of romance just like the sprinkling of snow we all want at Christmas.

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

A Special Cornish Christmas is out now.

Books

Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop – Helen Rolfe

Butterbury Sewing Box has been in the family for years and Loretta loves running it, and enjoyed all the time she spent with her three daughters in the shop. Creating wonderful family items but also creating memories with her girls; Daisy, Ginny and Fern.

As Christmas approaches once again, Loretta is saddened by how fractured her family has become and that her daughters do anything to spend as little time together as possible. Loretta with some help from her father, hatch a little plan to make this a Christmas more special than any other.

We get to see each of the girls in turn, and the story goes between all of them, including their mother. Daisy the youngest stayed after tragedy struck the family and whilst she knows her stuff in the Sewing Box, photography is her real passion.

Middle daughter Ginny, is a midwife and has spend her years travelling everywhere and spending as little time as possible in Butterbury than she has to. But being back in the village and bumping into past friends and relishing the joy she once got out of creating, Ginny thinks maybe coming home now was the right thing to do.

Fern, the eldest and the one who has to be in control is slowly unravelling it seems. Some simple moments of forgetfulness and the pressure she puts on herself it seems that she is heading for burnout. Going back home is going to be the toughest for Fern.

AS the three women come back home, they discover the past has not been forgotten and that they need to all work out their differences and at the same time get to the bottom of their mother’s request for them to be home at this particular Christmas.

It also turns out Loretta does have a few secrets of her own and they are not what you think they are going to be.

As Christmas looms and their aim to finish their piece of creative collaboration for their grandfather finally comes together, it seems that the three sisters have sewn something else together as well. What a wonderful present for them all.

This is the second visit to Butterbury, first featured in The Little Cottage in Lantern Square and like that one, is full of the wonders that types of craft can bring to a community as well as individuals. This made the book more wonderful for me as crafts is something I love to do as well. I hope there are more tales to come from Butterbury and if they are at Christmas even better!

The perfect book; full of community, cheer, and Christmas!

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

Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop is out now.

Books

A Cosy Christmas at Bridget’s Bicycle Bakery – Alex Brown

Bridget, newly widowed with a young daughter and twin teenagers heads back to Mulberry-on-Sea thinking this is the place where she can heal and her family can start again. With only a few weeks to Christmas she seeks sanctuary in the beach house that her widowed husbands parents own.

Not perhaps the ideal way to start another Christmas without her husband, trying to make a home in a beach house that is perhaps not quite full waterproof and a car about to drive its last mile. Her introduction to the community doesn’t leave a lot to be desired, but she soon find solace in coming back here.

Bridget turns to her love of baking, bread especially and finds herself sharing her loaves with the locals. She meets up with old friends and makes new ones with people who are on their own for whatever reason and just want some company. All of this means that suddenly Bridget’s bread is gaining in popularity and when her twins set up an little enterprise from their own home, it seems that Bridget is well and truly now part of the community.

At the same time, the children are blossoming and they are finding this second Christmas a little easier to deal with. Even when you have to deal with drunk grandmothers on zoom calls and rather exuberant dogs.

This really is a Christmas read which has community spirit rising off the page, just like the bread that Bridget bakes. The best bit is the fact that you can smell and taste the bread and you don’t put on an ounce of weight! The thought of freshly baked bread, eaten with lashings of butter and a large cup of tea on the beach, all wrapped up warm had me wishing I was spending time at Mulberry on Sea.

A book to whisk you away, full of Christmas, community and carbs – what more could you want! I hope to see more of Bridget soon.

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

A Cosy Christmas at Bridget’s Bicycle Bakery is out now.

Books

Christmas Wishes at Pudding Hall – Kate Forster

What better way to spend Christmas than at Pudding Hall – it sounds a lovely place. Sadly its residents are not so lovely.

Marc Ferrier, owner of the hall is living there with his twin ten year old sons seemingly permanently attached to their gadgets whilst he spends his hours focused wholeheartedly on his business and nothing else. Along with his lawyer and his lawyers partner. It’s more of an office than a home.

That is until Christa arrives. Divorced, homeless and jobless in one fell swoop she takes the job of cooking at Pudding Hall for a silly amount of money, but it gives her chance to at least have a roof over her head for a month while she decides what to do next.

Christa shows Marc and his boys that there is another life to lead and one that is filled with pure enjoyment of Christmas and the simpler things in life. Whilst always remembering that there is some who are less fortunate than you might think.

With some ghosts of the past to face up to and some ghosts of the future to perhaps tackle, this is without a book which takes the good old fashioned Christmas tales of the past and gives it a lovely unique twist.

Written as if you are experiencing the ultimate Christmas Menu, Kate Forster takes the joy of food and Christmas and combines it with this lovely story which can be devoured in a couple of sittings at least. And not a ounce of weight will you put on!

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

Christmas Wishes at Pudding Hall is out now.

Books

The Perfect Christmas Gift – Katie Ginger

Bella’s Christmas’s are always special, she loves the build up and the time she gets to spend with those she loves, her boyfriend, her family and her friends. Except this Christmas is going to be very different.

Bella returns home to find a suitcase and her boyfriends trying to leave without telling her. Bella is heartbroken and wonders how this Christmas can be at all special when she feels so desolate.

Bella’s next door neighbour is Nick, single father to Freddie a boy at the school where Bella teaches. He has not really got to grips with managing life as a single father but is determined to put his son first when he is subjected to bullying at school.

When Bella comes up with the wonderful idea of a giving tree, so everyone gets some Christmas joy throughout the village she starts to see a future. Her interactions with Nick become more frequent and she find him very much different to her ex boyfriend. Add into the mix, the festive season, the snow falling and the expectation of what is to come and it all seems plain sailing.

Until a ghost of the past returns and it looks like Bella is back to square one and facing a very different Christmas than the one she hoped for.

This is a wonderful tale, it embraces the joy of giving, of being with family (no matter how mad!) and of enjoying a white Christmas from the comfort of your own home. Added to that was the wonderful picture that the author created with a lot of the book set in a village school, where the children are such vibrant little characters that you can’t help but laugh and enjoy their innocence.

A book to warm your heart and not afraid to shy away from tackling some not so warming subjects. Handled with care, makes this a wonderful book to escape in this Christmas.

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

The Perfect Christmas Gift is out now.

Books

Underneath the Christmas Tree – Heidi Swain

What could be more Christmas than a Christmas Tree Farm. Wynter’s Trees is just that in Wymouth and where everyone in the area comes to get their tree at the most magical time of the year.

Wynter’s Trees tries to make it as magical as possible but for some like Liza Wynter it has been the place she has been avoiding ever since her father died. Now her father’s partner wishes to retire and pass his share onto his son Ned, but for Liza she has decided to get rid of the place forever and hopes that perhaps Ned might wish to take the whole place over.

Returning for one last Christmas and to sort out her family home and fathers possessions, Liza does not expect to find a place which is thriving under Ned’s leadership. Diversification is being used and the concept of making the visit to the farm more of a destination rather than a chore shows the potential that the farm has. Liza is moved because this is exactly hat her father would have dreamed of having, if his life wasn’t so cruelly cut short.

There are too many memories tied up in the place for Liza and she knows she needs to break free from the place to be able to move and do what she wants with her life. However it seems the magic of Wynter’s Trees has other ideas. Becoming attached to Bandit the dog, the little beach huts full of local crafts people that arrived on the farm, along with seeing the joy the farm can bring to so many different people of different ages, Liza perhaps thinks she has made a rash decision.

Ned though realises that if he wants to continue to fulfil his wishes at the farm, he will need to buy Liza out as well as take over his father’s share, trouble is there is something beguiling about her and Ned is rather distracted. Liza knows there is a connection, but does everything she can to divert attention elsewhere. However, cupid’s arrow strikes as it does and it seems that Liza and Ned are destined to be together. If only they could work out their differences about the farm and where it is potentially heading, then it could and would be Christmas all year round for them.

Another great Christmas read from Heidi Swain, in fact another great read which brings the magic of Christmas and community together all set tot he backdrop of a sprinkling of magic just like some snow! Whilst we have gone back for a second visit to Wynmouth, you do not have to have read the previous one to get a sense of the place and the people that live there.

If you are looking for a Christmas read to curl up in front of a log fire, the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree, a hot chocolate full of calories then this is the book for you. Because even if you haven’t got any of those things, this book will give it to you in abundance and transport you to Christmas at any time of the year.

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

Underneath the Christmas Tree is out now.

Books

One More Christmas at the Castle – Trisha Ashley

What better way to start your Christmas reading in August than with the latest from Trisha Ashley. If there was a book I wanted to disappear into and become part of the story, interact with characters and even live in the castle this was the one.

Mitras Castle current owner Sabine Powys knows that this will be her last Christmas there and she wants it to one to remember; the past traditions, the past glorious food and games and it also seems the weather is going to provide them all with a winter wonderland as well.

To achieve this though she is going to have to employ some help and enter “Heavenly Houseparties” – Dido and Henry that pretty much cater for your every needs. Whether that be cooking and cleaning, to those little touches, such as flower arranging and creating seed cake. They are selective in where they go and who they work for, but that has enabled them to be picky and work only a few times a year. What the perfect job!

With any old castle there are plenty of secrets to discover and the wonderful cast of characters that are invited to stay. We learn not just about the characters present but also their past and how they all come to be invited to Christmas at the castle.

When Dido arrives at the castle and gets to know the grounds that bit more, she finds affinity with the place, as if she has been there before. As more of Sabine’s family arrive and other waif and strays including Xan, an old school friend of Henry’s and a former crush for Dido. It looks like this is a Christmas that everyone is going to remember.

Throughout the book we are treated to what some might see as the minutiae of domestic help life, but for me it was simply glorious to absorb yourself into such fine detail. That “upstairs downstairs” element that has always fascinated many people for years, me included. Especially in such modern times.

Trisha Ashley’s Christmas novels are always a hit with me and this one is no exception. Pure Christmas escapism with plenty of mulled wine and mince pies to keep you full up at any time of the year.

The perfect book for Christmas and one that is worthy of a reread for many Christmases to come!

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

One More Christmas at the Castle is published 11 November 2021.

Books

Christmas at Fox Farm – Helen Pollard

Daisy has not really known a home and when she accepts a year at Fox Farm in the artist studio she suddenly finds she has found her place. Fox Farm is a destination place, with an art gallery, pottery studio, gift shop, café as well as the artist studio. The owner Jean has taken Daisy under her wing and when Jean falls ill, Daisy feels drawn to help the farm continue in the run up to one of the more busier periods – Christmas.

However it turns out that Jan has been bolstering the farms finances with her own savings and now stuck in hospital with a long road to recovery in front of her, it seems she needs to turn to her nephew, Alex to keep the farm going. Alex thinks of Fox Farm as his second home and tries to do what he can to save it and move it forward.

There are stumbling blocks at all turns, Alex’s own business starts to become neglected, not everyone at Fox Farm thinks the changes are for the best, Sebastian his cousin thinks he knows what his best for Jean and Fox Farm and the sparks tat fly between Daisy and Alex are distracting to say the least.

As Christmas looms, will Daisy finally find her home? Will Alex be able to concentrate on what he loves the most and will Jean have a farm to come back to?

I was already to jump into my car and find Fox Farm and spend a few hours experiencing what it had to offer as Helen Pollard brings it alive. To see the wonderful art work, to eat delicious cakes and hot chocolate whilst watching the children get excited about Christmas seems like the perfect place to spend some time. What better book to bring out the true Christmas spirit with a lovely romance added in.

Perfect for fans of Katie Fforde and Trisha Ashley and for all fans of Christmas novels.

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