Books · Jottings

March Roundup

I just looked back at March last year and it was a bit of a terrible month for reading and I want to say perhaps it was because it is a March thing, as this March has not been much better but for very different reasons of course.

I like a lot of people are no doubt struggling to concentrate on reading, especially when I can get locked in the vacuum of news endlessly and all theories, opinions and facts. As this strange time goes on I now consciously make more of an effort to step away from it all.

But enough of what everyone is dealing with on with the books for March.

When time are tough you can always turn to certain authors and I have used this mantra this month, especially with some of their new novels about to hit the shelves in April.

Heidi Swain – The Secret Seaside Escape it is so great to be back with Heidi and this wonderful new novel is set in Wynmouth and has the same feel good factor as all her previous ones and with a seaside to wander down through the pages of a book, when you perhaps cannot get to the real thing.

Wanting to wander in more wonderful landscape with jewelled names and descriptions then you can pick up Holly Martin – Sunrise over Sapphire Bay where the warmth of the sun as well as the story will make you want to pack your bags and go for a visit. Holly always delivers.

And if you want to escape even more as did the main character in Katie Ginger – Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay then you are in for a treat. Just make sure you pop into the little gift shop and pick up a memento of your visit.

No doubt we will be back to visit these places later on in 2020.

Of course going away on holiday and even a cruise seems such a distant dream at the moment, but having picked up a book which had been languishing on my shelf for a while I was taken to that cruise with Rachel Rhys – Dangerous Crossing. It’s 1939, on a ship to Australia and the mix of people you are going to meet, their class, their status, their religion, their background, their past and their future is going to all be mixed up on this long voyage. It was a page turner.

In a change from her normal type of novel I approached Emma Davies – My Husband’s Lie with slight trepidation, would this work. Well it did, it was a it of a roller coaster and has some real insights into emotions throughout the book. It works and made you think that sometimes you always need to go forward, never back.

Jennifer Wells – The Lost Girls another historical fiction read for the month was very much on the theme of never going back, never staying still and always moving forward. And of course it is always those you least expect isn’t it?

When all is wrong with the world you can always rely on the known and in the case of Agatha Christie  – A Murder is Announced. I did know, I have seen the TV adaptation enough to know who the crime was committed by but probably because I thought I had read the book, I find I had not and therefore corrected that immediately. A Murder is Announced was the chosen book for Read Christie 2020 in February, I might pick up another one in the coming weeks.

So that was my March.

How was yours?

Books

The Forbidden Promise – Lorna Cook

Second novels can sometimes suffer from sort of ‘syndrome’ not quite as good as the first, the most difficult to write, sweated over for months and months on end, massive edits and rewrites and never quite reaching the pinnacle of the first novel.

In the case of The Forbidden Promise this suffers with none of these, though I am unsure if the author suffered any of the aforementioned symptoms. For me this second novel is better than the first (and that was good) and shows a great example of dual time narrative, compelling storylines and wonderfully drawn characters.

Present day. Invermoray House in Scotland. The current residents of the home, Liz and her son James are struggling to make ends meet and the only way is for the house to be made to pay  its way. A Bed and Breakfast seems a good idea with some typical HIghland pursuits for any guest that might fancy it.

Kate is famed for her PR skills and that was her previous role in London but when an incident leads her to want to hid from all she knows she takes refuge in a job at Invermoray House. Intrigued by the mystery of the house she does some research to discover a family bible with one of the names crossed out – Constance McLay.

1920. Invermoray House. Constance McLay’s 21st birthday party. War has yet to really touch them so far north, it appears nothing has changed. But war is coming in many forms as young men, including Constance’s brother and his friend join up and the estate workers go to fight for their country.

With the excuse of an headache, Constance escapees her own celebrations and wanders down to the loch.

There she sees a spitfire, dive and crash into the loch. Instinct kicks in and she saves the pilot and with one sweeping gestures promises to keep him safe in the abandoned ghillies cottage. However Constance finds that this promise is hard to keep.

As war starts to touch Invermoray House more directly, Constance finds that she is torn between her heart and her head.

Some eighty years later as Kate tries to find out more about Constance she also finds that her heart and her head are working independently of each other.

As the plot goes back and forth you start to form a picture of what life was like for Constance and also how it is perceived by Kate, trying to find out more about her, as if you were being told the same story from different perspectives.

What also holds the book up as excellent is the fact the author uses the landscape to be as much of a character as the characters themselves. This adds weight and depth to the plot and kept me hooked as I turned the pages wanting to find out the truth, the secrets, the lies and the promises that were made.

Lorna Cook is fast becoming an author you need to look out for.

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

The Forbidden Promise is published on the 19th March. 

Books

The House at Silvermoor – Tracy Rees *Paperback Publication*

 

The 5th novel from the author of the winner of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition, Amy Snow. Perfect for fans of Katheryn Hughes, Lucinda Riley and Dinah Jefferies.

 1899

Josie has never questioned her life in a mining village on the South Yorkshire coalfield. But everything changes when she meets Tommy from the neighbouring village. Tommy has been destined for a life underground since the moment he was born. But he has far bigger dreams.

Josie and Tommy become fast friends, united by their desire for something better and by their fascination with the local gentry who have their keeping. Wealthy and glamorous, the Sedgewicks of Silvermoor inhabit a world that is utterly forbidden to Tommy and Josie. Yet as the new century dawns, and the pair become entangled with the grand family, they discover a long hidden secret and learn that nothing is impossible.

 …..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……

….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?

……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……

……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…….

To see my full review click here.

About the Author

Tracy Rees was born in South Wales. A Cambridge graduate, she had a successful eight-year career in nonfiction publishing and a second career practising and teaching humanistic counselling. She was the winner of the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition and the 2015 Love Stories ‘Best Historical Read’ Award. She is based in Swansea.

 

Books

The Break Up – Tilly Tennant


It is all over for Lara, her boyfriend tells her that it is over and that there is someone else and Lara knows exactly who it is.  Walking out of the restaurant, Lara cannot get a cab home, its raining and then she is followed home by a cat who insists on being let in and making itself at home. It seems that Fluffy which Lara calls her is the only thing she can rely on.

Trouble is Fluffy is also known as Satchmo and has ben getting regularly fed and watered at Theo’s house.

When Lara sees Theo and Fluffy/Satchmo a rather interesting dynamic develops and it seems that there is going to be a continual battle over the cat.

But as Lara is a wedding planner and Theo plays in a band – it looks like there paths are going to continue to cross and the issue about whose cat it is, is not going to go away.

It anything though the cat is bringing Lara and Theo together and no matter how hard they try, the organised Lara and laid back Theo seem the perfect fit if only they could be honest with each other.

An enchanting book which captures your heart and you can be swept along with the ‘loveliness’ of it all as the characters go through ups and downs in a “will they won’t they” between Lara, Theo and of course the cat! Add in the backdrop of weddings and you have a booked packed with romance!

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

The Break Up is published on 26 March. 

 

 

Books

Clover Cottage – Christie Barlow

This is the third book in the Love Heart Lane series and I am delighted once again to be transported North to the wonderful Scottish village of Heartcross.

Vet Rory Scott has always wanted to do something more than be the Vet at his father’s practice in Heartcross. He wanted to branch out, do something, see the world and have an impact on animals worldwide not just locally.

However feeling an obligation to his father and mother he stays in Heartcross and starts to settle with girlfriend, Allie. It all seems to be going well until…

Rory’s father rents out the house that he is currently living in and gives Clover Cottage, rundown and in need of a lot of TLC to Rory. But he is not telling Rory something and this coupled with the stubborn need not to improve or the practice frustrates Rory.

Even more so when celebrity Zach Turner and his dog Sydney turn up in the area. Whilst Rory can help Sydney the dog he has to rely on other people in another place to be able to fulfill the dream. And when Zach makes him an offer it looks like he would be foolish to refuse it.

Allie has not got the drive of her boyfriend Rory, she loves him, she loves the village and she now certainly loves Clover COttage ans she can see her future there. She has spent many years being uprooted and thinks she has now found her final place to stay but why does Rory want to go further afield?

Can these two people seemingly going in opposite directions actually get to where they are meant to be – together?

Coming back to Heartcross and all the people I have got to know is like catching up with friends, life goes on and just now and again you need to pop in and see what has been happening and I was so glad I did. Even more thrilling when you know there is another chance to catch up with them all later in the year.

For fans of good women’s fiction which is not light and fluffy but has real depth of emotion and character – read them all from the beginning of the series. You won’t regret it!

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

Clover Cottage is published on the 20 March 2020.

Books

Murder at Enderley Hall – Helena Dixon

This is the second novel from Helena Dixon and the second to also feature the delightful Kitty Underhay, You do not need to have read the first, but it does help fill in a bit of the background of Kitty and the dashing private detective Matt Bryant.

Kitty having discovered family she did not know she had and that they lived fairly close by she goes on a visit.

Having borrowed a chambermaid from the hotel she lives in with her grandmother, Kitty sets off on a new adventure to meet these relatives.

There is an Aunt and Uncle plus a cousin, as well as a few more assmeled house guests that make up such a house party. Her Uncle is obviously involved in some important government work and as tensions are growing in Europe, it is 1933 and things are changing, there is an air of mystery to the whole proceedings especially when some important papers go missing.

Then old Nanny Thoms is found dead at the bottom of the stairs.

Kitt’s friend Matt Bryant turns up and proves to be useful in getting to what is really going on at Enederly Hall.

Then another body turns up, guest are arrested and mysterious faces at the window and bodies in lakes all start to get a bit too much for Kitty.

Surely Kitty is not going to lose the family she has only just found?

This is a wonderful second novel and starts to fill in the gaps about Kitty’s family. It is a wonderful take on a the country house murder mystery and the growing friendship between Kitty and Matt is delightful. The added dimension of it being a history murder mystery is all the more interesting as you can see how in these interwar years, the First World War is still very much affecting people and the obvious growing threat in Europe is goign to have some sort of effect.

There is much to like about these two novels so far in the series I look forward to seeing what other mischief Kitty gets embroiled in. The series could potentially run for a while.

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

Murder at Enderley Hall is published on 19 March 2020.

Books

Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay – Katie Ginger

This is the start of a series of books by Katie Ginger, set in the glorious Swallowtail Bay.

Here in the first, Stella recently divorced puts all her money into a gift shop with some questionable gifts in it and two holiday lets in Swallowtail Bay. She has nothing to lose apart from all her money, but she has escaped what she knows and this is her chance to start again.

With only her dg Frank for company, Stella throws herself into the gift shop and starts to make a small success of it, even if some of the locals are slightly perturbed that it was her who managed t purchase the shop.

Miles had his eye on the shop as he is fed up with travelling and wants to put some roots down in the only place he has known as home – Swallowtail Bay. The gift shop seemed ideal until Stella came along.

Stella starts to fit in and make friends, single mum Lexi is trying to make ends meet by working in one of the local cafes next door and her friendship grows with Stella. As it does with some of the more older residents of the seaside town.

But even if Stella seems to be making a success of the little gift shop that you could spend a lot of time browsing in, her holiday lets are going to test her even further. You never know who you are going to get rent them. It proves for some interesting actions and reactions.

Some of the local residents seem to have a lot to say about Stella and when she is then invited to her ex husbands wedding she wonders whether it was all worth it and she is going to fail.

This really is a book full of warmth. Friendships forged and never forgotten. The cross generational divide which brings communities together works in Lexi’s favour and her passion for all things vintage I am sure would make a book on its own. Of course there is a romantic element within the book and whilst of course these things don’t always run smoothly sometimes the best things for people are simply staring them in the face!

A great book to escape to on a wet day or a hot day. Swallowtail Bay is a place you will want to visit again and again.

 

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

Spring Tides at Swallowtail Bay is published on 18 March.