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. 

Books

The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts – Jennifer Joyce

Maddie Lamington is running a teashop having poured all her energy and money into setting it up, to take the focus of some life changing events that has happened to her. She enjoys the early starts and no doubt with a name like Lamington she is going to be good at baking!

Along with help Mags and budding pop star Victoria they are just about keeping their heads above the water. The teashop may well be in a little parade of shops but it is off the main high street and event heir neighbours are walking to the big branded coffee shops to get their daily fix.

Maddie needs to do something and fast. When she sees her lonely dad still pining after her mum, since their divorce suddenly get chatting to regular customer, Birdie over apple crumble. Maddie has an idea.

Speed dating but with cake.

Along with help from Mags, the regular customers that Maddie has managed to attract to the teashop as well as Birdie’s good-looking grandson, Caleb, her man obsessed friend Nicky and her Dad she tries out her theory. It works.

That is when the hard work starts, she needs to now make these regular feature and fast. Everyone pulls together and whilst they are working on introducing people to the possibility of romance, it seems that some is already starting and it doesn’t need any help from some cake either.

With all good romances there is always plenty of misunderstandings and some of the made me laugh out loud, especially when Maddie gets her words all the wrong way round and she is certainly not going to live that down. All of the characters have a story to tell and it forms part of the bigger story and they are all dealt with in equal measure and the book ends with for me all the ends nicely tied up and finished.

I read quite a few books so far this year which have had teashops as part of their storyline and this one is one of the better ones. A great read for an afternoon with a large mug of tea and of course a large piece of cake!

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

The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts is out now.

Books

The Bluebell Bunting Society – Poppy Dolan

If you are a fan of Cathy Bramley, Trisha Ashley, Katie Fforde to name a few of my favourites, then you will love this book.

Connie finds herself coming up to 30 having not achieved anything that she really wanted to. Life certainly has not gone the way she thought it would. She is currently the caretaker of the local village hall, aptly named Bluebell Hall taking on the mantle after her grandmother died.

It might not be what she wanted to do, but she loves Bluebell Hall and the community and it all it stands for. If the numbers using the hall do not increase then it means the hall will have to be used for another purpose – one that the residents of the community will not want. It is a common problem, small villages do not want to see part of their history taken over by a big corporate entity but they do nothing to use the existing buildings until it is almost too late. Connie has ideas to draw people into the building and increase the numbers……..

…………….. this one involves material, thread and sewing machines.

Of course disaster is waiting to happen and you can see it hanging over their head (literally as it turns out) but with the determination of Connie and the friends she has suddenly made in the village it looks like Bluebell Hall could be staying for a little bit longer.

This is a heartwarming novel, which taps into the themes of friendship, loss and community. There is a smattering of romance, but for me that did not overtake the main substance of the novel, it nicely simmered in the background. Add into that the village feel, crafts and a lovely bright cover what more could you want from a novel.

Actually I do want more – I want to go back and see how Connie is faring and the other villagers.

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

The Bluebell Bunting Society is out now. 

 

 

Books

Rome is Where the Heart is – Tilly Tennant

Kate is married to Matt, they were childhood sweethearts who made the next step.

The next step probably should have been children. But for Matt it was separation.

The next step for Kate is unknown. She is in a dead-end job, which she tolerates, just and her love is for dressmaking.

At the chance to change her life, she books herself a holiday to Rome, on her own. It is time she did something with her life.

At the airport she meets Jamie, who helps guide her through a city so she can see just as much of the tourist attractions as she does of the real Rome. However, Jamie has problems of his own and it is when he leaves Kate alone she finds herself on the Spanish Steps.

That is where Alessandro finds her.

Kate had not gone to Rome to find love,but something has captured her love, for the place, the buildings, the way of life, the food, the people and Alessandro is determined to make an impact on her life and a dent in her heart in the time she is there.

Trouble is Alessandro has five sisters, a strong matriarch family head and a rather jealous ex. It is never going to go well for Kate, especially as tragic events back in England means she has to go back home.

Will Alessandro just be a past ghost or will Kate be able to maintain the dream of Rome, of Love whilst back in Manchester.

The book did start off a bit slowly for me, but it picked up pace once Kate was in Rome and I flew through the pages and the story as if I was a tourist in Rome itself. Tennant has brought the characters to life very well, I could almost sense the expectation in Alessandro’s home when Kate first goes there. Just as much as I could feel the despair and desolation when Kate returns home to finalise some issues and put a closure on one part of her life. I was most annoyed at her elder sister Anna, who seemed to be ready to take over Kate’s life, her constant interference whilst well-meant was positively irritating. But for me those feelings and emotions are the sign of a writer who has created a story which gets under your skin and characters who you actually care about.

Another book to escape on holiday with, without even having to get out of your pajamas for.

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

Rome is Where the Heart is out now. 

The second A Wedding in Italy is out soon and I am looking forward to catching up on the characters lives!

 

Books

Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera – Jennifer Bohnet

Rosie has had this dream of running her own cafe and she gets the chance to make that a reality when she decides she has had enough of being a slave for someone else to earn the credit and the money and sets out on her own to revamp and relaunch Cafe Fleur on the French Riviera. However a famous chef has taken over the hotel next door and is relaunching that, it seems that Rosie’s dreams are dashed before they even become a reality.

Despite Rosie being the main protagonist in this novel, as the title suggests. There are in fact other women struggling with their own dreams. Erika dreamt of love ever after with Pascal and their daughter, running her own small business to appeal to an eclectic sort of shopper. However, it seems fate had other ideas and now Erika has to make some decisions about how she is going to spend her life and how it is going to affect her daughter.

GeGe is struggling to make ends meet. As an estate agent, she never knows when the next sale is going to be and  with the rent on her desk going up, she needs to break out on her own. With some part-time work offered through a friend, GeGe hits upon an idea.

If these three women did not have enough to contend with, there is the added complication of old love wanting another chance and new love being rather circumspect in their actions. Add in a mother with a toy boy and a mother in law who thinks she should have more say and you have a novel that is full of character and a story which keeps you reading. My only criticism of the novel, is that I did not know how all these English people happened to be in the Riviera, more because I am nosy and want to know how they ended up there. It does not in any way detract from the plot.

The escapism of this novel is simple in its idea. The blue sky and sea of the Riviera, the walking along the shore line as the waves gently move in and out. The warmth of the sun that lasts well into the evening as it sets creating a  backdrop for anyone with a view to envy. The descriptions of the food as the cafe makes it mark as tourists and locals, sit,sip coffee, eat croque monsieur and watch the world go by,

A perfect read when on holiday or a read when you want to escape from the dull greyness and want some bright sunshine and good story.

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

Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera is out now. 

 

 

 

Books

Before the Rains – Dinah Jefferies

There is something very atmospheric about this book, as the heat of India becomes intense as they wait for the rains to break the searing heat, to bring water and life to the land it also reflects the tension within the palaces, within the British position and with the main characters of this story.

Photojournalist Eliza returns to India, it is 1930 she is widowed and she is escaping her life with her work. Given the opportunity from a family friend, Clifford Salter and a member of the British Government, Eliza gets the chance to spend a year taking photos, to create an archive of a royal family in one of the states.

The last time she was in India, she watched her father die in tragic circumstances.

Eliza hopes that she may well be able to put some ghosts to rest. Although she cannot guarantee she will not in fact raise some ghosts from the past.

She meets Jay, the second son and not ever destined to become the Prince. There is a spark of something more than the respect that develops for each other.

Jay shows Eliza parts of India, for her project but Eliza shows Jay through her pictures, her eyes exactly what his people are living like, the poverty that they endure day after day. Jay shows how that British Rule is perhaps causing more trouble that it is worth and that the people of India are capable of forming their own destinies without colonial rule.

Eliza and Jay, clash as two very different worlds collide, through that collision that spark begins to develop. But it can never be. Can it?

This rich evocative novel is a love story, a love story that is forbidden in a land where love is not considered the reason for relationships to form. It is all about power, money, alliance and land.

As with all her novels if you have ever read them, the author paints a picture of a place where the colour leaps from the page, the smell wafts past as you immerse yourself in the culture which form the background of the story. But of course it is now always the background it actually is the story as well as the characters.

With intrigue, deception and mistrust within the palace walls and all over India, Eliza is there at a time when perhaps barriers could be broken down…..

A compelling historical fiction novel which will evoke some rather upsetting emotions within the reader as the follow Eliza and Jay’s story. Vividly descriptive and beautifully written this is a book you must read.

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

Before the Rains is out now. 

Please check out my blog for other Dinah Jefferies novels, I recommend them all. 

 

Books

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found – Trisha Ashley

Alice always knew that her parents were not her real parents, her step father said she was discovered in Haworth outside the Bronte Parsonage. The story of her discovering was added to over the years until one day her stepfather dies.

It is only then that Alice discovers that her stepmother has always loathed her and never even wanted her. Suddenly adrift and alone again Alice tries to find a place to settle and maker her home and find some identity within her self.

In Cornwall she finds friendship with Edie who takes her under a wing and provides perhaps the motherly figure she has always been missing in her life. When Edie moves to Scotland, it isn’t long before Alice thinks that she will follow, her life in Cornwall not turning out to be very much.

In Scotland she starts to settle, meets Dan and helps in a local cafe where she can perfect her baking. But then tragedy strikes and Alice is adrift yet again. Now is the time to find out where she really belongs and so she heads to Haworth.

Making an impetuous purchase on an unseen cafe in Haworth Alice takes the bit between her teeth and decides to open a teashop with the rudest waitresses in Yorkshire. She does of course have many hurdles to overcome and has many doubters along the way but Alice’s determination to do something and make a mark is strong.

Hoping that she may well also discover the truth about her birth, as well as pursue a part-time career in writing fairy stories with a twist, Alice discovers that not all fairy tales are straightforward and they don not all have a happy ending.

As with any Trisha Ashley novel, this is well written, the characters fully formed and developed and there is always more than one plot line weaving its way through the book. In fact with this book you could almost say you were getting three stories for the price of one! I loved so much about this book because I cared so much for the main protagonists, I want to eat in the teashop and stay at the lovely Bed and Breakfast where Alice is made to feel at home. The short vignettes of one of the stories are no more than a paragraph and in that short space of time, I took a complete dislike to a character – that is the charm of Trisha Ashley’s novels and especially this one. There is so much packed into the pages.

One of my favourite reads of 2017 and of Trisha Ashley novels. Go buy and read it, you will not be disappointed and like me you will not want it to end.

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found is put now in hardback.

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read this book and of course to the wonderful Trisha Ashley for writing it.