Books

November Roundup

November by tradition is always a quiet month for reading, this year even more so as it was a ‘zero’ birthday for me and much was taken up with celebrating. I am still eating the birthday cake.. don’t worry it is fruit, well made so, well-preserved.

It has very much been a Christmas month for me and catching up with people who I have come across in this years reading.

I only recently read The Canal Boat Cafe so I was delighted to see that there was more to follow with Cressida McLaughlin – The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas: Port Out where they reach Little Venice in London for some Christmas themed cakes and some ghost of Christmas past! And if you go Port Out you always go Starboard Home and that is lined up ready for reading in December.

I was lucky enough to complete the trilogy of Butterfly Cove and got to spend and early Christmas with the lovely Mia, Kiki and Nee in Sarah Bennett – Christmas at Butterfly Cove. It is always a sign of good writing and good stories that makes me sad to leave a place and that is certainly the case with this particular book.

I have mainly been disappointed by some of Tilly Tennant novels , they seem to not grab me as much as some other authors do but prepared to have my mind changed I embarked on Tilly Tennant – A Very Vintage Christmas. Sadly it was a book which could have been so much more, I do have the second in this Christmas selection she has written but I approach it with some trepidation.

Cornwall has featured heavily in many setting and plot in books I have read over the last couple of years and was probably one of the reasons I picked up Liz Eeles book back in May. I venture back for a colder and probably wetter Christmas in Liz Eeles – Annie’s Christmas by the Sea which was a lovely tale.

With all this jollity and festiveness what about a little bit of murder. This is the first in a series of novels, featuring each of the Mitford Sisters in turn. Jessica Fellowes – The Mitford Murders starts with the eldest Nancy who becomes embroiled in a murder on a train. What makes it even more intriguing is that some of the book is actually based on real life events. But I am not going to tell you which – you can read the book and find out for yourself.

So that was November, and to add a bit less Christmas and a bit more excitement I finished it reading Paula Hawkins second novel Into the Water – more of that in December.

 

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Books

Murder at the Mill – M.B. Shaw

Iris Grey is staying at Mill Cottage, in Hazelford, a Hampshire Village. Not only is she escaping from her failing marriage but she has also been commissioned to paint Dom Wetherby’s portrait.

The Mill is the house where Dom Wetherby lives, a famous crime writer whose books have sold millions and have been made into television programmes. But now it is time for him to retire his most famous detective and his writing. The portrait is one of the gifts that his wife, Ariadne gives him.

Iris is drawn into the Wetherby family as she starts to paint Dom. She starts to see the real man and not the facade as she spends time with him.

Invited to their Christmas Eve party, Iris watches as Dom and Ariadne greet welcome and unexpected guests. There is history at this party, there is hate at this party and there is a story to tell.

When a body is found on Christmas Day floating in a nearby stream, it seems that the party may have been the catalyst for what followed.

Iris, intrigued by what has happened and encouraged by a Wetherby family member she starts to ask some questions and hopes to get to the truth of the matter.

This is a rather light cosy murder mystery. For me it took too long in setting the scene before predictably you got to the dead body. I found it meander for far too long once the body had been found and it had a slightly unbelievable element to it in the process of detection and the denouement. The clues were there, the red herrings obvious and whilst I worked it out fairly early on, it did nothing to make me doubt my theory.

As someone who has read many Agatha Christie who can pull a punchy story in around 200 pages, this book is in fact 200 pages too long. It is a pleasant diversion and was the perfect book for an easy read after a hard day.

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

Murder at the Mill is published on 30 November. 

I have never read any Tilly Bagshawe who is the author behind this book and this book, the first in what looks to be a series is a step in different direction for the author. I do wonder if perhaps this first book should be given the benefit of the doubt and perhaps the second will be stronger. I will have to wait and see.

 

 

Books

A Very Vintage Christmas – Tilly Tennant

Dodie is living her dream, she likes all things vintage both in fashion and outlook and she is running a boutique that sells vintage clothes in the seaside town of Bournemouth.

When going through some clothes, she discovers the most beautiful green coat and it has a letter contained within.

The letter is about a romance back during the Second World War and Dodie is determined to have the letter returned to the people it was either intended for or at least their close relatives.

Whilst trying to discover the true story behind the letter, Dodie is having to deal with a boyfriend who seems rather reluctant to understand what Dodie is really like. A grandmother who has more energy and spirit and is forever off doing some course or class and a brest friend who discovers the father she has never seen suddenly wants to see her.

Dodie is rather put upon and it seems that she is doing everything to help others, discover the letter as well as run a bespoke business in the run up to Christmas. Whilst she does seem to be juggling a lot she has captured the eye of Ed who helps her out to discover more about the letter she has found. Ed happens to live at the house where the letter was sent all those years ago. Surely it is all meant to be?

Of course it is not going to be an easy conclusion, but Dodie and Ed get to find out all the answers.

I was disappointed by this book, there is not much relevance to Christmas other than the fact it is set then. If anything that was a distraction from the main plot lines; Dodie and her boyfriend, Dodie and her grandmother; Dodie and her vintage shop and Dodie and Ed. I wanted more from this book, because I wanted more from the letter that was found, it was a perfect opportunity and an obvious vehicle to go back to the War, to go back to the people in the letter and learn about their story. The author did not take it this way and that left me feeling this book was missing something.

A pleasant enough read if you want some escapism, but left me disappointed.

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

A Very Vintage Christmas is out now along with A Cosy Candlelight Christmas the second in the set of Christmas books from Tilly Tennant. 

I have the second book and I am hoping it is better than this one. Of all the Christmas books I have read so far this season, this book was not right. I have found with Tilly Tennant;s books that sometimes they are really good and then when I pick up another one, they are just not sitting right with me. I approach the second book with trepidation but will give it a fair chance. 

 

Books

October Roundup

So there goes October, a funny month. The weather cannot make its mind up, I have been full of cold and yet I am still swimming outside! And so begins the countdown to Christmas and the reading continues apace with it.

Lily Graham – Christmas at Hope Cottage is one of those magical Christmas stories that fill you with hope and food. There is some magic food happening on the tables of Hope Cottage.

Of course you need a drink with Christmas and it will depend on what your favourite tipple might be. I expect you can guess what mine is? Catherine Miller – Christmas at the Gin Shack sees us return to octogenarian Olive and her friends as they discover more about Gin and friendship in difficult times.

If you only have time for a few short stories then turn to Katie Fforde – The Christmas Stocking and other Stories, if you are a fan of this author you will recognise some but still read them because they are brilliantly written and capture the spirit of Christmas is just the right amount of pages. The new stories are just as capturing.

It cannot all be about Christmas in October, which is why I have gone back a bit to Summer and picked up a book that has been sitting on myself for an age. Cressida McLaughlin – The Canal Boat Cafe, why I had not read this sooner when I enjoy the author I do not know. However I was transported away to the freedom of a Canal Boat and the wonderful Summer who is struggling to make a go of a very different lifestyle, especially when it seems many are against her. I am also thrilled to see that two short stories, Christmas themed of course are due out following on from this story so I read it just at the right time.

Another book which was a sort of serendipity to me was Poppy Dolan – The Woolly Hat Knitting Club. I love crafts and in the middle of doing quite a bit of knitting, for myself and for others. In particular the little babies born at my local hospital. If you are a fan of knitting then this book is a must and if you want to knit something yourself then get in contact and I can direct you to some great patterns. I am looking forward to seeing what Poppy writes about next.

I always enjoy getting into a saga and I have this year with Nancy Revell and the Shipyard Girls series. I have read books one and two and was thrilled to be able to get hold of book three. Nancy Revell – Secrets of the Shipyard Girls is a good read and it was lovely to be back amongst women that you have grown to know and admire as war still rages and loves still has to conquer all, no matter what stands in its way.

Sometimes with all these ‘nice’ reads as I call them, you need something which is a bit more meaty with the odd dead body or two. So I was intrigued by what is to be a new series of books by an author I have heard of but not read, publishing under a different name is how I came to get M.B.Shaw – Murder at the Mill. It sounded promising but for me did not really live up expectation. I think I have read too many Agatha Christie.

Which leads me to the 1968 club and my choice which was Agatha Christie – By The Pricking of My Thumbs. I try and participate when I can in these clubs as it is a useful way for me, to be able to make my way through Christie’s catalogue!

So that is it for October, my netgalley shelves are positively bowing with the weight of books that I have requested and I have more actual books wandering around my house looking forlorn by not being read. So time for more reading.

Books

Christmas at Hope Cottage – Lily Graham

Things could be going better for Emma Holloway, she is dumped by her boyfriend and then gets knocked over by a parcel delivery van. To add insult to injury, the delivery van was actually delivering a parcel for her.

Contained within the parcel was ‘The Book’ sent to Emma to help her make some decisions. The only decision now is getting well again and it is going to a long process as Emma finds herself back at Hope Cottage with her eccentric grandmother and two equally as eccentric aunts nearby.

Now ‘The Book’ is back at Hope Cottage we start to see the magic that it may have and that perhaps the way to health, happiness and the future is to bake it. Trouble is magic can be seen as witchcraft and it seems these women are known locally and feuds and disputes go back years, hundreds of years.

So it will not help Emma, when her first love arrives back on the scene and happens to be from a family who hold onto family folklore and certainly don’t believe in magic.

But perhaps when faith is tested, people will look to any means to aid them. Can hope be restored from the pages of the book, the walls of the cottage and Emma and her grandmother?

This is a wonderful tale of love and hope, of believing in something you perhaps cannot explain but know is right. Emma’s story starts quite abruptly and her injuries from the accident that find her back at Hope Cottage were frightening and life altering, but it made her think a lot more about her life up until that point. The author uses this in the form of flashbacks so we can see how Emma found herself to be away from her family home, how her mother made the same decisions that she had and how the presence of something unexplainable can actually cause deep resentment in a community.

The book has everything you want from a Christmas novel and more, strong female characters recognising the fact that it is okay to be different, a sprinkling of snow and romance and delicious baking to wake up the tastebuds.

Perfect reading in the run up to Christmas and you cannot go wrong with Lily Graham’s novels as I have read and enjoyed everyone. A wonderful storyteller.

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

Christmas at Hope Cottage is out today!

 

Books

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove – Holly Martin

It’s Christmas on Hope Island. Having spent Spring and Summer with Bella, Freya, Isaac and Rome this is a continuation of course of their story but this book focuses very much on Eden and Dougie.

Eden has been in love with Dougie since forever. But he broke her heart when he moved to America,

Trouble is Dougie did not know this at the time but he did know the one person that he was best friends with was the reason he kept returning to Hope Island.

Eden is settled in her Pottery Cafe and whilst she has dreams of making it bigger and doing more of what she loves, she is very content with Hope Island. Until Dougie returns.

Dougie is not just returning for a visit, for Christmas he is planning on staying a lot longer. How will Eden manage this unrequited love when he is going to be living right next door?

It all moves very fast for Eden, even left me in its wake. Romance and wishes are the way to her heart and it seems that Dougie has all the right answers. But it can it be too good to be true?

No of course not, it is simply the magic of love and the magical time of year. Christmas is bringing everyone together but can it keep them that way?

I loved this book, there was something so romantic about Dougie that I admit to shedding a tear or two and was probably secretly in love with him a little bit. That is the elegance of Holly Martin’s writing taking you straight into the heart of the novel and she has you hooked with her writing and her setting.

She can do humour just as well and I have to confess Lucy and Finn, Eden’s parents were hilariously embarrassing with an innocence about them which made me forgive there not so subtle comments or indiscretions.

Combine this with a lovely setting, the coldness of winter, the brightness of the stars, the warmth of the fire as Eden and Dougie find some common ground.

If you want snowmen, hot chocolate, roaring fires, lots of layers of clothing, romance, Christmas, weddings and bucket loads of romance, this is the book for you. It works as a standalone novel, but if you have the time get the whole Hope Island experience.

Another excellent novel from Holly Martin.

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

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove is out now. 

I look forward to seeing what Holly Martin writes next. In the meantime I still have her White Cliff bay series to catch up on, so plenty to keep me going. 

 

 

Books

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane – Ellen Berry

I am back visiting Rosemary Lane and it has been just over a year since I have been here. I was there when Della set up her bookshop specialising in one type of books – cookery ones. I wanted to go back and see how she was getting on and so I do with this new novel from Ellen Berry.

Back on Rosemary Lane, we do see something of Della, her bookshop is expanding, her happiness clearly there for everyone to see but she still worries about her sister, Roxanne.

Roxanne becomes the main protagonist for this story as she escaped Rosemary Lane as soon as she could for the bright lights of London. From nothing she has worked her way into the fashion industry and is a Fashion Editor on a glossy magazine, the sort you flick through in a waiting room but would not necessarily buy!

She has everything she wanted but it seems that something is perhaps missing – when fate means her job is suddenly changed to something else and her rather reluctant boyfriend refuses to commit to anything.  Roxanne leaves London and returns to her sister in Rosemary Lane. But what is she going to do?

Roxanne discovers that there is very little to do. Della does not really need her help in the shop and it seems the only thing left her to do is to walk the dog. Trouble is her fashion knowledge and walking a dog on a wet Yorkshire dale are at odds with each other.

Whilst Roxanne learns that comfortable practical clothes are the way forward, no one is judging her and they take her at face value with no ulterior motive. Here she meets Michael who is just starting to find his feet in the new bakery on Rosemary Lane and when his daughter becomes friendly with Roxanne it seems that perhaps the bright lights of London have finally dulled. Of course it will not be that easy.

I enjoyed the interesting world of fashion and fashion photography. I certainly don’t want to be part of that world and the author I would guess has had some experience within it, to get it across the way she did. The bakery is perhaps not a strong feature in the book and others have commented on this, but this was a very character driven novel but it has its place in setting the scene of the village and the lane of shops.

The story of Rosemary Lane has not finished, there has got to me much more to come?  I am sure the pub that is featured in this book has a tale to tell and of course the bakery surely needs to expand? I can but dream and that is the sort of book this is. A lovely read.

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

The Bakery on Rosemary Lane is out now

The first book in the series was reviewed by me here