Books

The Breakdown – B. A. Paris

Driving down a road in the middle of the storm is what Cass promised she would never do, but she will get home quicker that way.

That is until she sees a car at the side of the road. A woman is in the car.

What does Cass do? Stop and make sure she is okay? Drive by?

What if your actions, the choice you make, the guilt, then haunt you.

It is this catalyst which the rest of the story is based on and has us as readers launched head first into Cass thoughts and feelings as she begins to break down from what she knows is reality.

Strange phone calls, objects not in the right place, parcels arriving, all point Cass towards dementia, she might be too young but her mother died of it and she has never told her husband this. Her husband even starts to question her sanity. It seems Cass is very much on her own with this guilt, this belief.

As Cass life begins to unravel slowly, ironically the pace of the book picks up. It is a page turner, because whilst you feel so much sympathy for Cass, I did reach a couple of points where I thought she really did have dementia. The author could have taken the plot any number of ways and it was this that kept me reading.

The niggles about the story never went away for me and I guessed fairly early on who had to be behind it but the writing was so good that I even began to doubt the author was going to take us in that direction. Could you breakdown all actions separately and see them as isolated events, or were they all part of a very cleverly weaved plot. The only way to know was to keep on reading.

An excellent thriller, certainly nothing like her debut novel and if this is the quality of writing and work for that notorious ‘second’ novel then I cannot wait for what the author writes next.

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

The Breakdown is out now.

 

 

 

Books

The Forever House – Veronica Henry

We are all dreaming of finding ‘the house’, the one you know that will tick all the boxes and be the place that you stay forever. Belinda Baxter is in that position, even more so as an estate agent in the village of Peasebrook she gets to look at some really great houses.

As the commission on the houses she sells comes in, she is getting nearer to having the funds for that forever house. Now she just needs to find the right one.

Hunter’s Moon is a house that could be someone’s forever home and it is with sadness and regret that Sally and Alexander are choosing to put it on the market. It has been in Alexander’s family for over fifty years, but it was left to his wife Sally when his mother died. It is Belinda Baxter who helps the family sell the home.

However as Belinda soon discovers there is more to the selling of this house, than simply the need for cash. It is the memories that are triggered and the stories that the house could tell.

And so Veronica Henry takes us back to 1967, to when Sally and Alexander first met and the other inhabitants of Hunter’s Moon take over the story in the past.

I was hooked, especially with the dual narrative which I do enjoy reading. It can be a difficult thing to pull off successfully, but I think the author has achieved it with aplomb. She has taken two very different views of Hunter’s Moon and I fell in love with both of them. Everything is described so well that it brought the place to life, I could imagine the state of the kitchen that Sally walked when she first went there, and the wonderful way that it has transformed when it looks like Sally is going to have leave it all behind.

Of course there was romance within the pages of the novel, not just with the house itself but between some of the characters. However I felt very much that this was merely in the background and it was not important for the happy ending to be about girl meets man and falls in love. The book seems to deal with all different aspects of love and the heartbreak that can sometimes accompany it.

A wonderful family story, which I felt was different from some other Veronica Henry’s previous novels and I felt quite sad when I finished the book.  I wished it had gone on forever.

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

The Forever House is out on the 18th May.

 

Books

A Good Catch – Fern Britton

Picking this up from my shelf in a bid to make some sort of dent in it, I thought this would be a good book to while away a bank holiday with. How right I was.

Back in Cornwall, where Fern has set the majority of her novels, this was one with a difference. The story opens with Greer having returned from an inquest. Straight away you want to know what the inquest was for, someone has died, but who, why and how.

And so the book goes back to the beginning of Greer’s story, to 1975 and that of her other three friends, Loveday, Jesse and Mickey. To when they were at school and their whole lives were ahead of them, not knowing where any of them were going to end up. The world was their oyster as the cliché goes.

Trouble is someone else had other plans for two of these four, it meant that their world was never going to go farther than the fishing village of Trevay that they grew up in.

How far would you go to please your family? Would your choice mean that you never lived the life that you wanted? With who you wanted?

As the story progresses through the eighties, which I could remember and therefore could relate to this book in someway perhaps more than another era. We are effectively building up to the crescendo that we started the book with.

This is a book with strong characters the driving force behind the story. My feelings for Loveday, felt constant throughout the book. But for Greer, her attitude to life and always getting what she wanted frustrated me and left me feeling less than sorry for her. Mickey and Jesse friendship was strong and that came off the page, even when it seemed that something was about to break them in two.

Importantly in this book, is the setting of Cornwall, of a little fishing village, of the waves against the shore, the tides, the importance of water, the danger and delights that such a place can have. Fern Britton manages to bring that to life as much as the characters because the catch that these characters are going to get will not necessarily be the one they are waiting or hoping for.

Slightly different to the author’s other novels, but a good read to escape into.

 

 

Books

The Returning Tide – Liz Fenwick

Windward, 1945 – The marquee is out there on the lawn waiting for the wedding guests. Adele watches on and wonders how she has got to this point.

Windward, 2015 – The wedding marquee is out on the lawn waiting for the guests. Elle watches on and wonders how she ended up here.

It is in fact not the intervening years which complete the story it is that which has passed before.

Adele and Amelia, twins, identical perhaps by sight but not by personality. Amelia is the more carefree perhaps reckless one, Adele the constrained thoughtful one. But as war has started to reach Cornwall and the men they know are disappearing, the girls, once old enough join the WRNS in 1943 to escape. Ironically it is Adele who finds herself in London and Amelia who is restricted to a driving job in Cornwall. It will be the first time that they have been apart and not had the other to wholly rely on.

The story of the sisters, continues as war progresses. War separates and divides, as if a tide is washing in and out. The sisters keep in contact but rarely see each other. That is until one day when events mean they will never see each other again.

Across the ocean, Lara is struggling to cope with the loss of her great-grandfather, the breakup of her marriage and the loss of her job. She feels adrift and nothing seems to be able to settle her. When her great-grandfather’s last word is Adele, she wants to find out more about the man and the great-grandmother she never knew, and of course Adele.

This is historical fiction at its best. Liz Fenwick has taken all the right elements, a time in history which was defining for the course of the Second World War and one that is on occasions missing from history. We have families struggling on both sides of the Atlantic with their secrets about the past. You of course as reader know information that some of the characters don’t but I was totally enthralled with how they were going to find out and how all the pieces of the story fitted together.

The story is told in alternating time frames and I admit there are a lot of jumps to begin with, but once you overcome that you will be gripped by the story and totally unaware of the joins in the time frames. This was also helped for me with the letters between the sisters, in the main to fill in the gaps as the story progressed. It was a useful technique to bring the story together and emphasised how news was imparted during such times.

A chance conversation with a member of her family led to Liz Fenwick writing this novel which is very different to her previous work. Whilst this is not an exact retelling of events, elements of reality are very much between the pages and it is worth remembering that what you are about to read in this book, did in fact happen.

One simple action was all it took for the course of someones life to change irrevocably. As the tide went out, it was never going to return……but what if it did………?

An excellent read and one of the best books I have read so far in 2017.

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

The Returning Tide is out now. 

 

Books

April Roundup

Woosh and there went April! I thought I was going to get ahead with my reading and I suppose in some ways I did, but really I should stop requesting good books on netgalley, so I only have myself to blame.

I am missing holding actual books ion my hand. Although reading Agatha Christie – The Murder of Roger Ackroyd which was in a very large book which held a quintet of Poirot stories, meant I could not really hold this book up effectively without doing myself some damage, if I were to drop the book. Of course I am expanding my Christie reading but if you look out for a book I have been advertising for a couple of weeks now, this Christie story now I have read it, makes a lot of sense.

War featured quite heavily now I look back at the list that I have read. Given the opportunity to read Nancy Revell – Shipyard Girls at War which I discovered to be book two, I had to go and read the first, Nancy Revell – The Shipyard Girls. It really is a delight to be able to read one book after the other knowing you are going to be with familiar characters and you can see their stories develop even more. Now I have to wait until the third one is published before I can revisit the shipyard.

Lissa Evans – Their Finest Hour and a Half took me into the Ministry of Information and was a rather quirky book, not perhaps as good as Crooked Heart for me but it was an interesting read.Now I am just waiting for my local cinema to put it on at a decent time for me to go and watch.

Cornwall is always a favourite of mine to set a book, despite never having been there. Liz Fenwick – The Returning Tide add to this with her new novel, but one which also touches on Operation Tiger, and reminded me of something which I knew little about.That is one of the many things I love about reading, the way it can spark an interest and you can go and find out more. This is definitely one of favourite books of the year.

Sticking with historical fiction you cannot go fairly wrong with Kate Morton – The Lake House.It is a while since I have read any of her work, as other authors have taken over but I remember the joy if escaping into such a large expansive novel. Sadly the book did not work with me this time, but I will not let that put me off reading others.

Netgalley gives me a chance to indulge in women’s fiction, chick-lit if the phrase takes you and that is how I came to pick up Jennifer Joyce – The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts. A new author to me and it was a pleasant surprise, as after a while some of the books seem very similar, but this one did stand out.

Christie Barlow – Evie’s Year of Taking Chances is another book picked up from netgalley but one where I knew the author, having read and enjoyed some of her work before. I gave to admit I am taken in by the bright coloured covers. However, this was a book which dealt with some issues you would not necessarily think would go with women’s fiction but it worked in this book, which is probably down to the author. Not one of my favourites by her, as I thought it was all a bit to convenient,  but good nonetheless.

I am a big fan of Veronica Henry and always like to read what ever is coming next from her. Her latest novel Veronica Henry – The Forever House is a wonderful read and one I did not want to finish. So to make sure I could carry on for a bit longer, I picked up the short story Veronica Henry – The Apple Orchard which is fine example of this authors work if you ever want to try it out.

So that was April, a funny mix of books when I look back, but on with May and seeing what that brings me.

Thank you to all my readers, I appreacite any of the time you spend reading the posts which make up my reading year.

Books

Evie’s Year of Taking Chances – Christie Barlow

Evie can lose herself in the books she looks after in the local library. Until recently she shared this enjoyment with her mother, Irene who has now retired.

On her birthday, someone leaves a book on the desk for Evie, from one of her favourite authors, Evie is excited but also more intrigued with an inscription that has been left inside for her.

What starts is a year of Evie really finding out who she is and where she comes from. Irene is not in fact her real mother, but someone who came into her life and made everything all right. Evie thinks it may be time to find out who her real mother is and makes the first step towards this.

As Evie starts to discover more about her past, it seems that the people she has in her life are just as important and all have their roles to play. Aiden the new librarian and his sweet little boy Theo, Wilson the delivery man who the librarians see daily and Noah Jones, author.

Of course Clara, Evie’s colleague and housemate is learning as much about Evie as Evie is about herself, but it is time for Evie to open her heart up to everyone not just the love she may have missed out on because of a troubled start in life.

If you are a fan of books, then this is the one with you, what could be more delightful than to spend your time with librarians, fans of books, book club members and authors. Maybe the ending was all a bit too convenient but it did not matter to me, it was a heartwarming read and I would love to have spent more time in the library with the Evie and her friends.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the chance to read this book. 

Evie’s Year of Taking Chances is out now 

Books

Shipyard Girls at War – Nancy Revell

Rosie is still in charge of the woman welders in the shipyard. Their novelty has yet to wear off but slowly over time others are starting to notice the part these women are playing in the Second World War. Rosie though has secrets outside of the shipyard and with these to protect, falling in love with a policeman is not going to help her circumstances or her heart one bit.

Hannah is one of the weaker members of Rosie’s team and she joined the war effort because she wanted to do something that was going to punish Hitler for what he had done to her homeland. Whilst she may not have the strength for the welding, she has other unknown skills and whilst the others have been covering for her for so long, something now has to change, before she loses her job.

Polly is using her work in the shipyard to escape the fact that her brother has died fighting. The return of her other brother wounded and no longer fit for service is making for a very tense atmosphere at an already crowded home. Coupled with this is the worry that her man, Tommy has now left the shipyard to do his bit in the Navy.

Bel, Polly’s sister-in-law and childhood friend is struggling to cope with the death of her husband Teddy, trying to bring up a small child and the reappearance of Teddy’s twin brother Joe does nothing to calm her. As time goes on, can she cope with a constant reminder of her past, especially when her mother Pearl turns up out of the blue.

Gloria is hiding a secret, not just the fact that she is pregnant and the owners of the shipyard have yet to make that discovery but also that her husband Vinnie, has reappeared and thinks he can start again and that of course this time he will be different. Gloria finds some strength, and she is going to need it when the baby decides it is going to be born where and when it wants to be.

Dorothy and Angie are girls who just want some fun and a good man on their arm, they work hard but they play hard to and despite coming from different backgrounds to the others they fit into the team nicely. Martha is mysterious, she is the strongest and biggest of the team and hardly speaks, although her sense of humour is just starting to come through just when they all need it.

Whilst not all of these characters feature prominently in the storyline of this second novel in the series, they are still fully rounded characters. The story follows on from the first novel in the series, it is 1941 and the war is making itself very well-known in the town of Sunderland where the shipyard is based. Of course the war is the background to the story but it is what is happening with these women which kept me hooked and reading voraciously.

When I picked this book up to read I did not realise that I was picking up the second (don’t you just hate it when that happens!) and whilst I started reading it, I felt like I was missing out on something. So I stopped reading and went to buy the first one, which I flew through and then quite happily picked this one back up with all those missing feelings now gone.

Don’t think you will have to read the first, it does give you enough background to enjoy the story straight away without simply regurgitating the first book. However I felt I was not quite in touch with the characters enough and I certainly did not care about them or what happened to them with the story that had gone on before which is the reason I chose to go back a book.

If you are a fan of sagas then this is the book and series for you. From the ending there will be definitely be a book three, as there is so much more to learn about these characters, about the shipyard and about how the Second World War affects the choices they make.

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

Both The Shipyard Girls and Shipyard Girls at War are out now.