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

 

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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

 

Books

The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove – Karen Clarke

As the year comes to a close, many of the books I have read have been part of trilogy and inevitable must come to an end. Which is the case with the latest novel from Karen Clarke.

We are at the point of Tilly’s story, after exploring her friends Cassie and Meg in the previous two novels and who also feature in this book too. Tilly could be said to coast through life, she has a passion for many things including taking people on walks during the tourist season along the cliffs as well as some interior designing.

When she is given the job of finishing the extension to the function room at the cafe in Seashell cove she tackles it with the same laid back attitude as most things.

Trouble is there is a lot riding on the completion. Romance is in the air, and the mistletoe must be in place, for new relationships, proposals and new life. The secrets that Tilly is holding make the task even more important and even less possible.

When she meets Seth, she perhaps starts to realise what her friends have been going on about and when she gets the opportunity to perhaps help him with some more interior designing she could then perhaps spread her skills further and everyone would take her a bit more seriously.

What Tilly did not bank on, was the doubt her sister Bridget throws at her as well as Seth’s frightening mother and a young lad who just wants some fun. It could all go horribly wrong and become over complicated but of course with Christmas round the corner, it has to come right in the end. Doesn’t it?

For me this was the weakest of the trilogy and at times, I was just simply turning the pages and did not feel very involved with the story and certainly did not feel much for Tilly. It needed something else to hold the story from beginning to end – it was too bitty and seemed rather rushed.

I think this book deserves to be read straight after the previous two, I struggled to remember anything about the characters and plot and there was not enough to remind me in this book. If you are looking for a book to pass the time, with an ultimately happy ending then this series of books could well be the for you.

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

The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove is out on 5 October.

Looking back at my review I find it rather wishy-washy (perhaps like the book?) but I feel I may have reached saturation point with some of these tales, as I read a number of authors that write in a similar vein. Trouble is for me there are better stories and better authors who do this style of book and it might be I need to seriously pay attention to what I request from netgalley or pick up in a bookshop. 

Books · Jottings

September Roundup

Normally I have to confess my September reading tails off mainly due to being back to work and feeling like I have overread when I have had so much time at home during August. But this year, 2018 seems to be a very different year. I am 12 books ahead in my challenge and read a respectable 9 in September and one of them was over 700 pages long!

I am fairly new to Milly Johnson books and there is a few to catch back up with, but Milly Johnson – The Teashop on the Corner and her latest Milly Johnson – The Mother of all Christmases were both enjoyed in September, even if one of them had a slight Christmas feel! Unfortunately the ARC copy I had via netgalley was very badly formatted and it took a while to get going, but when I did I will say it was a lovely book to read.

Talking of Christmas I completed two series of books with Karen Clarke – The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove. Reading quite a lot of authors who are of a similar vein, some are more stronger than others and I have to say this series was not quite so good and I think I will certainly think twice about embarking on another read from her, not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with the writing, but I know there are other books out there which are much stronger and also lots of books I have to read as well!

I don’t think I will venture far away from Holly Martin – Coming Home to Maple Cottage all of her novels have been a delight so warm and funny, I just have to keep reading. Christmas is the perfect time for a family to come together.

I only discovered Emma Davies this year and when I say she was writing a series of books around one place, I thought I would give them a go – what turned into a read to save for my holidays got absolutely devoured long before I had even sailed away on my cruise. Which is why I was there on day of publication for Emma Davies – Return to The Little Cottage on the Hill. Bringing to life the life of a blacksmith as well as the well cooked food and the people of Joy’s Acre. I have just preordered the next one!

Without netgalley I know I would not have been able to try half the books I have read and that is where I stumble across many an author and which is why then they have a new book I always like to go and see what it is all about which is why I found myself with Jennifer Joyce – The Single Mums’ Picnic Club. I am always in two minds about reading books featuring babies, mums etc as having had or been neither I do wonder if it will be as enthralling as they maybe to mothers? Only they can answer that question I suppose but this was a great book to show how friendships can be formed with different women with different backgrounds with the commonality of being a mum.

Food is a great way to draw people together and many books feature the joy of food cooking, catching, growing, eating, preparing and when you mention patissiere you can imagine the glorious feeling of biting into a fresh chocolate eclair and the cream just oozing out! Therefore reading Julie Caplin – The Little Paris Patisserie was like this without the calories. The story for me was weaker than her previous two novels in this series, but it made me want to break a choux pastry recipe and do them for myself.

A lot of the books I have read in September have been modern, contemporary novels and whilst Tracy Rees – Darling Blue is a modern author who manages to write historical fiction that just about manages to fit in that genre as her books change with each story and fit in nothing but the Tracy Rees box. Tracy wrote me a lovely message after the review of her latest was published here on this blog

It’s always nice to hear positive things about my books and especially so when I feel the reader really got it! I love how you said about each book being different and not fitting into the genre box. That’s something that’s really important to me, to keep doing something different and try for variety even within the loose category of ‘historical fiction. It’s not playing safe but it keeps me interested and hopefully gives each book its own life.

It always crosses my mind that if an author reads my review they may not like it. Of course not every book is for every person even if you have read from the author before. But so far for me Tracy Rees has delivered.

Of course fans of this blog (if there are any out there) should know I am a fna of Lucinda Riley and for me her books continue to deliver book after book.

Having finished The Pearl Sister back in August when Lucinda Riley – The Moon Sister landed on the mat, I had two options – place it reverently by the bed, thinking oh how wonderful I have this to read and I get to experience the story of The Seven Sisters or dive straight in and indulge in whatever story comes away from the page. reader I did the latter and so glad I did. The review is to follow as I want the book to settle in my mind, for the vibrations to continue that bit longer as I try to consolidate how I really feel about this story. One thing is for sure, each one is my favourite and I cannot distinguish between the first five.

So a pretty good September, but I know for October I want to get an inroad into my actual teetering pile of books I have around my home. The kindle and netgalley is a wonderful thing but I feel I need to hold onto some actual books for a while.

Happy Reading in October.

 

Books

Coming Home to Maple Cottage – Holly Martin

This is the final book in the Sandcastle Bay series and we conclude with Isla’s story who we know from the previous two novels. Isla returned to Sandcastle Bay when her brother Matthew was killed and she became guardian of his small son, Elliot.

It wasn’t what Isla planned, but now she would not be without the delightful little boy and the even more gorgeous Leo although he was never in her plans either!

Leo happens to be Elliot’s godfather and has as much of a vested interest in the boy as anyone and Elliot is growing to love his godfather and the male influence that is obviously needed in his life.

Isla and Leo want to give Elliot the best life but neither are sure whether that best life is with them all together as a family. They enjoy their time together, parties, fireworks and simple family routines like dinner and playing in the garden.

It all seems rosy and idyllic that is until the past comes back and threatens all that they have grown to love.

Can Isla and Leo deal with what has happened and the possibility of the future? Will Elliot have the parents that he deserves after a rough start in life.

This is a great laugh out loud read and conclusion to the series, Elliot and his take on Isla and Leo’s relationship, especially when he sees them in bed together was funny. But with all that humour as well, there is plenty of romance and a few tears can be shed along the way as well. A sign of a good book which covers all the emotions and leave you completely satisfied when you have finished the novel.

Thank you Holly for the joy you bring in your writing.

Coming Home to Maple Cottage is a book that can be read as a standalone but it is even better when you read it as part of the series.

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

Coming Home to Maple Cottage is published on 28 September. 

Books

The Little Brooklyn Bakery – Julie Caplin

Having originally turned down the job swap in Brooklyn New York, Sophie makes a quick decision based on emotions and events that happen to her and arrives in a city which is fast, brash and noisy – everything that Sophie is not.

Sophie is a food editor for a magazine and she throws herself into her job wholeheartedly to stop her actual heart from shattering.

Sophie is sworn off love.

So is her colleague Todd, who also works on the magazine and happens to be on the next desk to Sophie and the cousin of her landlady, Bella.

Spending unnecessary time with Todd thanks to helping out in Bella’s bakery, Sophie begins to see what she might have been missing in London and that perhaps she should have a bit of fun….she is only here for 6 months after all.

The two strike up an interesting friendship as Todd helps Sophie see the real Brooklyn and Sophie helps Todd discover what food can be really like.

Sophie was a secondary character in Caplin’s first novel set in The Little Cafe in Copenhagen, I vaguely remember her but not much. You don’t need to have read the first novel to get any sense of the characters. This works as a standalone and for me was better than the first book.

Like the first book, the plot line perhaps is a well-worn one, but sometimes they are the best and that is not a criticism, merely an observation. Even following a heartbreak, love and warmth can be found again and if food and the simple pleasure and joy it can give is incorporated in the story you have everything you could possibly want in a book.

A delicious read without the added calories!

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

The Little Brooklyn Bakery is out now.