Books

The Little Christmas House – Tracy Rees

Tracy Rees first branched out into more contemporary fiction earlier this year and we have returned to the village of Hopley that she introduced us to in this her second novel and one with a very Christmassy feel.

Edward and Eliza, have moved into The Christmas House, on the edge of the village of Hopley. A world away from their house in Leeds, but not that far from Edward’s parents. The house doesn’t really live up to it’s name but Edward is determined that this will be home. Eliza simply loves it, but then when you see the world through an eight year olds eyes you can easily forget all the other stuff in the world.

But what is Edward and his delightful sparky little daughter’s real story.

Perhaps teacher Holly Hanwell will be able to get to the bottom of it. Eliza is in her class and she welcomes her in knowing that there was some problem at her previous school. Holly is embracing Christmas as she always does for the little village school she works in and it is through this she discovers more about Eliza.

But Holly is hiding from something herself – she is about to spend Christmas alone because the man she thought she would marry has left and his expecting a baby with his new love. Something that Holly could never do. Holly is hurting and needs some magic, some Christmas magic.

When Holly and Edward’s paths keep crossing it seems that they both have the main aim to help Eliza have a magical Christmas and perhaps that magic will rub off on them too.

As we learn more about their story we are introduced to Edward’s rather domineering mother who has ideas of her own about her son should be raising his child. Holly finds herself drawn to her neighbours and the changing of the seasons to understand that she can regrow and start again with a new life.

The story is split into the points of view of both Holly and Edwards but also Eliza who seems so wise beyond her years. I loved to be able to enjoy each of their stories and how they then started to weave together in another joyful story from this author. I immediately warmed to the ineptness of Edward as a father and shed a tear with Holly over her future. But without a doubt for me as well as I think Edward and Holly, Eliza had her observations spot on and that actually we should all be more Eliza in life. Enjoying the glitter of life no matter the problems it might be covering up. The glitter will always shine through.

This book shines through as a great Christmas read and should be on everyone’s list.

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

The Little Christmas House is out now.

Books

Christmas Surprises at Mermaid Point – Sarah Bennett

This little novella, is like a Christmas Present from Sarah Bennett for fans of all her books, but most importantly if you have fallen in love with Mermaids Point and everyone that lives there.

Here we are taken back to some of the characters we know well – Jake and Laurie, the main story of the first book. Laurie busy running her little café in the run up to Christmas, with some help from Jake, when he is not writing for the local newspaper are both stunned when Jake’s mother gives them an option for them to consider for their future.

Laurie’s brother Nick, has still not got over the Aurora who swept into his life and Mermaids Point in the first book and the ghost of her has been hovering for a while

Nerissa and Tom are finding their feet as a couple and Nerissa is finding her role as stepmother and friend to his children. Christmas can be a difficult time so it seems.

Alec, Tom’s brother rocks up and flirt unashamedly with everyone, including Laurie’s friend Ivy. It seems that there is something about Ivy. But Ivy has to deal with the immediate future and her mum, she hasn’t got time for distractions.

Andrew Morgan, the patriarch of the Morgan family, Laurie and Nick’s father; Nerissa brother loves everyone to be around at Christmas. What better way is there to spend your time with all those who you love and cherish whether they be family of friends. As his children fly the nest what is going to be next for him and Sylvia.

This book gives us the reader a glimpse into the lives of those we have got to know, but also hints at the stories that are yet to come and I can see at least two if not three that could be bubbling away here. Could Mermaids Point be part of our lives for a while longer?

A perfect taste of Mermaids Point and the enjoyment there is to be had by visiting. It is lovely to be able to catch up with the people and the place in between full stories. More authors need to do this!

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

Christmas Surprises at Mermaids Point is out today.

Books

A Bookshop Christmas – Rachel Burton

Young widow Megan Taylor is looking forward to Christmas and hopes that perhaps she can keep her family’s bookshop ticking over for another year. Perhaps if she has a famous well known author for a signing event that might make the tills ring!

Trouble is the author in question, Xander Stone is rather an arrogant and self- cantered individual with exacting requirements and certainly doesn’t want to be associated near the romance books in the shop.

Immediately getting the back up of Megan with his immediate dislike of all things romance, Megan suddenly wakes up from where her life is and realises if she doesn’t do something soon she is not going to do anything in her life anymore. And the first thing to do is prove to Xander Stone that romance novels are in fact not trashy words written on the page and worthy of consideration.

Of course it seems that Xander has a romance secret all of his own and it is certainly not what Megan is expecting, although I could see it coming a mile off! With Christmas round the corner and the bookshop about to be taken away from Megan, it seems that perhaps she needs to take a few risks.

Something about the book didn’t work for me, it felt like a couple of stories woven to make one. The Die-Hard Romance Book Club held at the bookshop had some great characters not really explored, the Regency Christmas party seemed very left field and the romance between the two main protagonists was a bit too forced for my liking. All of this meant I perhaps didn’t warm to the book like I could have done. However, others will love it I am sure, so don’t let one persons opinion put you off.

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

A Bookshop Christmas is out now.

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

It has been a while since we have had any notices around this parish, time is speeding by and I try and spend as much of it doing all the things I enjoy. But I never get round to sharing them with people. If you follow my on Instagram then you will see me post my weekly picture of what has been a reflection of my week. So if you want some more regular idea of what I have been up to then that is the place to go. One day I think I will have the time to witter on about it all on my blog….one day….

However I am dropping into to tell you all about the Christmas reading that has already been going on around this parts.

I am part of a blog tour for Tracy Rees – The Little Christmas House

Come back on the 27th October to find out what happens behind the doors in The Little Christmas House.

What about spending Christmas in a Castle and with Trisha Ashley. One of the best ways to spend Christmas

………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!

Or of course you could take a trip to Jewel Island if you should fancy.

...Everything you would expect from a Christmas market too! Mulled Wine, Hot Chocolate, Snow, Churros and a visit from Santa. What more could you want to get you in the festive mood?

You could choose to discover Mermaids Point in this novella which introduces you to the characters in festive spirit and that means you will need to go back and catch up on their stories.

This little novella, is like a Christmas Present from Sarah Bennett for fans of all her books, but most importantly if you have fallen in love with Mermaids Point and everyone that lives there.

Visting a unique place for a Christmas outing is sometimes a change so why not visit Fox Farm

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.

Every home needs a Christmas Tree no matter how large or small.

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.

There is more to come and I am excited about escaping (hopefully!) in some of these.

I must get on as these books won’t read themselves.

Books

Mistletoe at Moonstone Lake – Holly Martin

Way back in June, I was lucky enough to get the preview cover reveal of Holly Martin’s latest novel set on the magical Jewel Island. Now it is time to tell you all about what that cover might reveal!

It is Christmas at Jewel Island and if you have been with Holly (and me reviewing these books!) from the beginning then you will recognised some familiar names and faces from the island. However like all of her books, they can be read as a standalone and this would be a great place to start if this is your first time reading the author.

Zoey had this Christmas all planned out, in fact her wedding was to be on Christmas Eve, but it seems her fiancé had other ideas and now Zoey finds herself at Jewel Island Christmas Market selling her quirky drawings and paintings to those looking for something different as a gift.

Staying near her mum on this magical island seems the best tonic for a jilted bride. That is until fate throws something in her way.

In fact fate in the form of Kit Lewis, doesn’t just throw something in her way he throws something over her! From that moment, their fate is sealed. The attraction instant and you are immediately behind these two lost souls who seem drawn together.

That is until a secret Zoey has been keeping is going to destroy everything. It wasn’t her secret to tell and she is determined to keep that promise.

Can the perfect Christmas sparkle for these two on Jewel Island?

As ever, this is a wonderfully uplifting book which is filled with everything you would expect from this author and everything you would expect from a Christmas market too! Mulled Wine, Hot Chocolate, Snow, Churros and a visit from Santa. What more could you want to get you in the festive mood?

Thank you to the author who kindly provided me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I have received nothing in return and the only thing I give is the recommendation to read this book. 

Books

Cover Reveal – Holly Martin

I have been reading and reviewing Holly Martin’s books on this blog for a while and thought as we are nearer to Christmas 2021 than we were to Christmas 2020, I would share her latest book in the Jewel Island series and it has a Christmas theme.

If you want to get ahead and preorder then do so here

Start you visit to Jewel Island today

Sunrise Over Sapphire Bay

Autumn Skies over Ruby Falls

Ice Creams at Emerald Cove

Sunlight over Crystal Sands

Books

Murder in the Belltower – Helena Dixon

Kitty Underhay is spending Christmas at her relatives home Enderley Hall, hopefully without the dead bodies that littered the place the last time she was there for a visit.

Alongside Kitty is her dependable maid Alice, taken from the Dolphin Hotel that Kitty runs alongside her grandmother in Dartmouth.

Now that Kitty is officially stepping out with Captain Matthew Bryant, she is delighted that an invitation has been extended to him as well. To make up the eclectic house party along with Kitty’s Aunt, Uncle and cousin; there is Hattie, a distant relation of Kitty’s Uncle, Lord Medford. Simon Frobisher; a botanist, The Cornwells; two Americans wanting to experience an English Christmas and Victor and Juliet Vanderstrafen who it turns out know Matthew Bryant from his previous work.

It seems this mix of people and the transudations in the house are going to make for an interesting Christmas.

When some village disputes make there way to a cocktail party given at Enderley Hall it isn’t long before a dead body turns up.

Enter Inspector Greville, it seems there is much to this death and when rooms are mysteriously searched and it appears someone might be watching Kitty, it only seems inevitable that another body is going to be found.

But this time it looks like suicide and it seems that Kitty cannot resist all the intrigue and questions she has and when she thinks Matthew is keeping something from her, she turns to sleuthing, ably assisted by Alice who innocently with her downstairs gossip possibly hits on a clue or two herself.

This really is a wonderful example of a murder mystery set in a country house. Who are all these people thrown together? What secrets are they holding? And is their behaviour a true reflection of who they really are?

Helena Dixon carefully weaves the tale and the mystery to it’s denouement in true Christie style and you could briefly imagine that Poirot was sitting in a corner nodding sagely at Kitty. All the characters are there to be liked and loathed in equal measure and you get a real sense of setting and place as the story progresses.

Whilst each of these books can be read as standalone, there is a common thread running through them all, of course there is the burgeoning relationship between Kitty and Matthew but also the disappearance of Kitty’s mother. I implore you to start at the beginning they are an absolute joy to read.

I cannot wait to see what Kitty gets up to next.

 

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

Murder in the Belltower is published on 1 February 2021.

 

Books · Knitting

December Roundup

What a December, one of the quietest I have had in a long time from a work perspective. Normally the three weeks proceeding the big day are some of the busiest with functions, lunches, Santa visits and masses of paperwork proceeding audits, etc. As work has changed and will continue to do so in the coming months, I have had to find a new sort of normal, a common phrase we hear now.

But what of the books you say? Well I had already hit my target of 100 going into December so it was a case of seeing how many I could get to by the 31st.

The last book of the year was Rosie Goodwin – The Blessed Child a real chunky saga, which curled up on the sofa under a blanket was the best place to read it. I was transported to tales similar to that of Catherine Cookson and I must go back for some others.

Going back for more is why I went to join the delightful Daisy and Hazel in Robin Stevens – Mistletoe and Murder. Although aimed at a much younger market, I still feel slightly indulgent reading such a book, but these are much better than some adult aimed books that I have read over the years.

Keeping it still Christmas was Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas, continuing the adventures of the Big Red Bus full of cream teas in Cornwall. You know that Christmas is going to be a magical time and whoever comes on the bus is going to have their hearts and heads turned.

It is always great to carry on with a series, whether it be familiar characters or places. I am an avid fan of Heidi Swain but have only just got round to reading her first novel Heidi Swain – The Cherry Tree Café. The book you could say where it all began and now having completed them all, I am itching for her next.

When you find an author you love, you can get a little impatient to wait for their newest work. So discovering authors when they have a oeuvre to work through normally keeps all of that at bay. So I went back to one I had not read Katie Fforde – A Springtime Affair, it had been languishing on my Kindle for a while so I delighted in the spring weather during a winter cold snap. The perfect tonic.

Jeeves and Wooster have always provided me with tonic of some sort and the homage I read in November was closely followed by the new one Ben Schott – Jeeves and the Leap of Faith. Sheer utter spiffing joy – I need to go back to some Wodehouse. I rue the day I gave away my books.

I wish I had given away this book, or at least as it was on my Kindle given up on it Sarah Pearse – The Sanatorium. A book that promised something it did not deliver. Not the right book for me at the time of picking it up. Though I acknowledge some have loved it and it will no doubt feature on many blogs.

I started to see Sarah Steele – The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon on books of the year posts and knew I had yet to get round to it. So to make a dent in my forever expanding netgalley list, I picked it up. Now I know what everyone was on about and really wish I had read it sooner. A wonderful dual narrative novel with a great vehicle of telling a story.

I would like to say I was ahead of the game in terms of books published next year – sadly I am not, but no matter because the one to look out for so far is Joanna Nell – The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home. Humorous, bittersweet and with a touch of ‘what if’ this is a lovely read from a relatively new untapped author. Do check out this and her other two books if you get the chance.

So that was December, there was a lot of reading what I wanted with no pressure. I think that is a good mantra to start 2021’s reading with.

As for my favourites for the year….. I have not quite decided yet…….more to follow soon.

Books · Jottings

November Roundup

Well only one month to go in 2020, thank goodness though I don’t think we are out of the woods just yet. But November was a month where I hit my annual target of 100 books – such a satisfying feeling and also a month where I have just simply read and not worried (well not too much) about the never ending netgalley request list.

So what was on my November shelf?

Only one Christmas book, I think I reached peak Christmas in the previous couple of months but Anne Marie Ryan – The Six Tales of Christmas was a quiet tale reminiscence of previous American styled Christmas novels that I read. It’s message was very lovely though.

Of course snow for many equals Christmas but the snow in Catherine Cooper – The Chalet was a lot more sinister and this debut thriller novel is one to watch out for. Excellent and kept me hooked quite happily and made a change from all the ‘nice’ books.

To contrast the snow what better than to go back to summer with Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Summer where I caught up with old friends and made some new ones on the lovely bus in Cornwall and with an added dollop of actors as well as clotted cream this made for a great read. I rushed out to buy the next in the series and have started that within the last couple of days of November.

Cornwall was the setting of Raynor Winn – The Salt Path a book leant to me by a friend who thought I would enjoy it. I did. I knew nothing of the South West Costal path and it was a joy to read an ‘actual’ book where I could quite happily flick back to the map at the beginning so I could see locations and get a sense of place. One of the downsides of kindle reading is this ability. Wild camping is not something I would want to do, but certainly walking and in Cornwall is a place I would like to be.

More Cornwall was featured in Emma Burstall – A Cornish Secret and Emma Burstall – The Girl Who Came Home to Cornwall. The latter of the two novels I had on my kindle for ages meaning to be read, but knowing it was book five and I had omitted to read book four and it turns out I bought that ages ago to. Anyway, enough of the procrastinating as I know I enjoy this author immensely so I just went from one to the other and it was delightful to just keep reading about the same place, same characters like watching a continuing drama without the break. I do wonder if Emma Burstall has any more plans for Tremarnock.

Now as there are six Mitford sisters, I know that there is more to follow after Jessica Fellowes – The Mitford Trial. These are really excellent novels and I got a lovely response on Twitter from the author, because I ‘got the book’ in the way she intended it to be written. I had to go and reread my review just in case I had said something insightful – well I can’t see it. But if the author is happy and then I am happy as the plots of all of these books are great and really tap into my love of history.

Feeling rather ‘out of sorts’ about many things, like many people across the globe no doubt. So I picked up Ben Schott – Jeeves and the King of Clubs again this was because I got the latest Schott novel featuring Jeeves and Wooster through netgalley and realised I had not read the first of these homages. It was spiffing, tip top and everything you would expect from Wodehouse and I have read many over the years. It was a sheer delight to be back in their world and I rush to read the latest and go back and relieve some of Wodehouse’s best. My heart was fair cheered.

Not a bad month overall and I made a dent in some old books on my netgalley list as well as reading some ‘actual’ books, I really much prefer this way, but the kindle has let me read so many more I probably would not have read. It’s a conundrum for many an avid reader I am sure?

So what was on your November shelf? Any plans for December?

Books

The Six Tales of Christmas – Anne Marie Ryan

What better place to be in the run up to Christmas than in a bookshop, in a Cotswold village. Surely you should be living your best life trying to find the right book for the right person as a gift.

For Simon and Nora this has been their life for a number of years, but it seems that this could be the last Christmas at the bookshop. They need to draw people in, stop them going to the chains, to the online stores and to offer that something different.

When an act of kindness takes on a whole new twist, they send out six different books, randomly to people and it just so happens that the books that land with these six very different people all have very different problems and the books strike a chord with them.

As we learn more about the recipients we also learn more about Simon and Nora and how the bookshop, leaky roof and all is the things that keeps them together and how they relish being part of a small community who appreciate the kindness from its residents.

If you want a book to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside then this is the book for you, the bonuses being it features a bookshop and some great reads as well which you could quite easily take away as recommendations if you have not read them already.

Very different feel for me than some Christmas books I have read and it deals with current issues; mental health, loneliness, separation, probably more highlighted at the moment during the current pandemic. But there was something almost magical contained with the pages of the book as if I was watching some film, it felt American, but I cannot put my finger on why whilst reading it. However, I discovered afterwards that the author was born in America. I wish I could pin down what it was, the book reminded me of the Christmas books I have read by Debbie Macomber and I think that is a closest comparison I am going to get.

A book that can start your festive reading off if you have not started yet.

 

Thanks to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read the book. 

The Six Tales of Christmas is out now.