Books

The Guest List – Lucy Foley

This book has echoes of And Then There Were None before you even start, a remote island and invitations to certain people to stay on the island.

The event which you everyone wants to be on the guest list for is the wedding of Jules and Will.

Jules is a celebrated magazine publisher.

Will is a rising star in television on a ‘survival’ type programme.

This is all about doing it in style to make everyone else envious if not completely jealous.

The guests they are invite are the ones as well as Jules and Will that tell the story of how everyone came to be on this island, invited to the wedding.

Olivia, Jules half sister and someone who does not want to be there. She is harbouring a secret, a secret that if she reveals it will upset everyone. No one knows. But she has to put on a brave face and forget her past and be the bridesmaid her sister is expecting her to be.

Hannah is the plus one, she is in fact Charlie, Jules best friend wife and she is very much feeling more than a spare part than a plus one. Charlie is to be the master of ceremonies at the wedding, leaving Hannah to very much disappear into the background but by doing so she learns some devastating information from her past.

Johnno is the best man – but not the man you would expect a well known face like Will to have. Him and Johnno have a past and with that is secrets which need to remain hidden. Trouble is the other ushers are all old school friends of both Will and Johnno and it seems that some rituals still need to be reenacted in adulthood as they did in childhood.

Then there is Aoife, the outsider to all of the people on the island. It is her island, it is her house, she is in fact the wedding planner and is there to facilitate anything that Jules and Will want as this is her chance to make a name for herself. Though Jules and Will are completely unaware of the name she actually wants to make for herself.

Having only recently read The Hunting Party, I was immediately hooked by the way Foley crafts her novels. As we go from character to character they all in turn fill in information and build a picture of not just themselves but each other. The secondary characters are also somehow cleverly well rounded and developed as well, as they do play an important part in this story.

There are plenty of people to dislike, in fact probably more than to like and empathise with which means they get under your skin, they make you keep turning the page.

As the wedding proceeds, events taken their own turn. As the island batters a storm, a storm is gathering in the wedding party and there might not be any survivors from either storm.

Completely addictive and keeps you guessing right from the beginning.

A good follow up to The Hunting Party and I personally hope for more the same from the author.

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

The Guest List is published on the 20th February. 

 

Books

Holly Martin Books

I am rather an avid fan of Holly Martin and have read the following eleven of her novels in the last four years or so:

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky

Christmas Under a Starlit Sky

Spring at Blueberry Bay

Summer at Buttercup Beach

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove

The Holiday Cottage by the Sea

The Cottage on Sunshine Beach

Coming Home to Maple Cottage

The Summer of Chasing Dreams

The Little Village of Happiness

The Gift of Happiness

I have a few more to catch up on but in the meantime I am delighted to be able to tell you about her new novel.

Fall in love with the beautiful Jewel Island this summer, where the sapphire sea sparkles, the golden sun warms your skin and the islanders melt your heart. From the bestselling author of The Little Village of Happiness comes Holly Martin’s most romantic novel yet.

Sunrise over Sapphire Bay is published on the 24th April and you can pre-order the book here. Of course it is already on my list to be read!

If you are looking for books to bring a bit of sunshine into your life then these could well be the books for you.

 

I occasionally receive an advanced review copy of Holly Martin’s novels but I receive no payment or other incentive in reading, reviewing them or promoting her work. 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

This is the first Parish Notices of the year so it seems and I wanted to share some bits and pieces with you.

March seems like a long way off and my stop on this blog tour is in April but I wanted to let you know about the wonderful new book from Lorna Cook – The Forbidden Promise.

A sneak peek from my review

…this second novel is better than the first……. shows a great example of dual time narrative, compelling storylines and wonderfully drawn characters…

A book that you may have seen in or out of the press is Libby Page – The 24 Hour Cafe. In a similar vein to her debut novel The Lido, this is a book to draw you in.

 

How often do you stop and wonder about those around you – what their story is and whether it is happier or more troubled than your own? Whether there are people looking at you thinking the same, just for 24 hours Libby Page gives us that insight and as you finish the book, you go back to your own life and carry on.

Another recommend is Tracy Rees – The House at Silvermoor. If you want something Catherine Cookson-esque in fact something even better than this is the book for you.

This book is packed full of wonderful passages and it’s pace at times might seem slower than other novels but then I think that is intended…

……There are many more scenes I could choose from to describe how wonderful the writing is but that would just spoil the book for you.

It is ten years this year since I first started the blog and there is a reflection post of that very first year and throughout this year I hope to revisit each of the years in turn. It has jogged my memory of books, authors and crafts I was doing and so I hope to return to some of these and perhaps share some early reviews as well.

So whilst my parish maybe wet and windy thanks to Storm Ciara Dennis I have books and crafts to keep my company. What is going on in your parish?

 

Books

In the Crypt with the Candlestick – Daisy Waugh

A new author to me and I was drawn to the cover without a doubt and the promise of:

In the traditions of two great but very different British writers, Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse, Waugh’s hilarious and entirely original twist on the country house murder mystery comes complete with stiff upper lips, even stiffer drinks, and any stiffs that might embarrass the family getting smartly brushed under the carpet…

At Tode Hall, at ninety three Sir Ecgbert has finally died. Widow Lady Tode no longer wants to be lady of the manor and neither of her three children have much interest in the Tode Hall.

So the hall and all its residents is passed across to a distant relative much to the chagrin of the remaining family and staff.

However Lady Tode’s idea of spending her twilight years in Capri are thwarted when she ends up dead in the Hall’s mausoleum. What follows is a half hearted attempt to find out who the culprit was and with the aid of the granddaughter of a former employee and a ghost it seems the answer has been staring them in the face all the time.

This is not your normal murder mystery, a book which had a sense of wanting to be stuck in the past, the cover gives that impression but was very much in the present. The correlations to Wodehouse I could see, think Blandings not Jeeves and I am not sure if it has the real sense of Christie, that you may see in other homages.

However it was humourous in an almost pastiche to the country house murder mystery and was a passable diversion. It perhaps did not deliver as well as it could have done. Shame it had potential.

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

In the Crypt with a Candlestick is published on 20 February. 

 

Books

The House at Silvermoor – Tracy Rees

A new century, the twentieth is upon Tommy and Josie and they have plans but they are seemingly stuck in their respective Yorkshire coal mining villages and it seems their destiny is mapped out for them, long before they were born.

Tommy knows he will go down the mine in the footsteps of his brothers, the men that marry his sisters and his fathers. He also knows that not everyone comes out the same as they were before they were underground. However Tommy wants to learn more about the world, he has a thirst for knowledge and that is not sated by this little village.

Josie, living in a neighbouring village in the shadow of a different mine to Tommy, she sees the effect that this rich mine owner is having on the locals and most of all her family.

Meeting one day Tommy and Josie form an unlikely friendship which is innocent and heartwarming  perhaps but their fascination with doing something other than mining and seeing another part of the world through the gates to the Heston Manor they wonder perhaps what life is like in there.

Heston Manor is all closed up, no one lives there since a tragedy some years previous and the owner, also the owner of the mine in the village where Josie lives is not someone to be trifled with – especially when you find yourself on their land.

But there is a secret to Heston Manor and both Tommy and Josie are drawn back there time and time again. What they discover can it change their lives or the lives of everyone in the village.

As fates take their own path, Tommy and Josie find themselves at another big house – Silvermoor. How can a place be so welcoming, opening and accepting when Heston Manor is everything but?

As all the strands of the story start to weave together it seems that Tommy and Josie are about to embark on a very different future to the one they thought they would have.

This book is packed full of wonderful passages and it’s pace at times might seem slower than other novels but then I think that is intended as you start to understand the differences between the main characters, their respective villages, the mines, the ‘big’ houses and the classes.

The research that must have gone into this book was clearly there to see – the scenes in the mines at times had me gasping for breath. Claustrophobia set in as I was taken with Tommy under the ground, where you could not stand up straight, breathe properly and almost taste the coal. There are many more scenes I could choose from to describe how wonderful the writing is but that would just spoil the book for you.

A novel full of opposites, which in show the love and hate, the warmth and coldness, ironically the coal gives you warmth the work to get it so heartlessly cold. I am not sure what the message was from this book – but for me it swept me away and I hope it does you.

For me this is the best book by Tracy Rees so far and is a must for any fans of historical fiction, think Catherine Cookson but on a much higher level.

 

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

The House at Silvermoor is published on 6 Feb 2020.

 

Books

The Little Village Library – Helen Rolfe

Cloverdale has a different sort of library, the sort of library you can borrow useful things – a hedge trimmer, breadmaker or ladder. But the library is also fast becoming the centre of the community as its founder Jennifer wanted it to be. Dance classes, sewing and using a drill all feature but so does that sense of community, friendship and belonging.

Some residents including jennifer are hiding things and until all these secrets and anger can be forgiven and forgotten Cloverdale will yet to have that real community feel.

Jennifer is at a loss now her children are growing up and away from her support, she is looking to capture the past she had before she gave it all up to be a wife, a mother and a carer.

Jennifer’s sister Isla has returned to Cloverdale after wandering the planet for months, never settling in one place but now it seems that Isla can put down roots and stay but why is her sister so against this.

Adam and his two children, Zoe and Zac but what are they hiding from and why is nothing much mentioned about their mother and Adams wife. Where is she? Why has she seemingly abandoned her children? Will a diary reveal the secrets?

Viola is helicopter parent, perfect in whatever she does, she judges to harshly and makes her own conclusiojns, which is what happened to her friendship with Jennifer many years ago. Now they are all back in Cloverdale will past misdemeanours be forgiven and will everyone be embraced into the community.

The basis of this book, the library was a great thing however the plot I found the be very laboured and I did consider giving up at more than once. The only thing that kept me reading was to find out what all the characters had done in the past, the secrets they held. The book was not a light hearted read as the cover may imply, it dealt with some difficult subjects, it dealt with them well but perhaps they were not the right book for them to be featured in.

I was left disappointed by this book especially when a previous book by this author, The Little Cafe at the End of the Pier was a great read. I would approach another of her books with a bit more trepidation.

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

The Little Village Library is published on 6 February 2020.

 

Books

Silent in the Sanctuary – Deanna Raybourn

This is the second Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane novel by Deanna Raybourn, if you have not read the first then do so, though this book will fill in some of the background story you will not get the full picture of their relationship and all its underlying currents.

Lady Julia is recovering from her ordeal in the previous book in Italy with two of her brothers Plum and Ly, but their father wants them all back home for Christmas, and for Ly to bring his new Italian bride with him. They come home bringing with them Alessandro, a friend from Italy who harbours a secret passion for Lady Julia to their country pile Bellmont Abbey or March Manor, where they are greeted by many members of their rather funny and eccentric family as well as a surprise or two and the mysterious Lord Wargrave. But is he mysterious or does Lady Julia already know him?

What then transpires is something which brings all great detective novels together – a murder. Who has committed this murder and why? And why has one of the house guests and cousin of sorts to Lady Julia claimed sanctuary in the chapel attached to the abbey? Did they really commit the murder or are they protecting someone.

Brisbane investigates with some help from Lady Julia, who whilst helping in one investigation ends up causing friction in another – the real reason that Brisbane has descended on Bellmot Abbey. Everyone is under suspicion and as the snow closes any access in or out of the murder, items go missing and the body of the victim is stored (and a post mortem carried out) in the game larder. It rather puts some of the guests (and the cook) of the food!

Raybourn has brought the two characters of Lady Julia and Brisbane back to life again, and this book reads as a witty tale of (despite the murder) escape into life in Victorian England. Ten out of ten for capturing so much of the society by an author who is an American but not once does this book slip from what it is all about – England. If like me you love reading about that upper class society world in an age gone by and you are not averse to a bit of murder and intrigue then this is the series of books for you. Raybourn successfully leads the ending of the story into the next one and I cannot wait to read it.

This review was first published on Amazon in 2009 and is featured on this blog as part of my look back at the last ten years of blogging.