Books

The Holiday Cottage by the Sea – Holly Martin

Tori has come down to Cornwall for a few weeks to take a break from her broken heart as well as her work.

She has followed her friend Melody who now lives in Sandcastle Bay and has agreed to stay rent free in Blossom Cottage in return for some berry picking. Seems a fair exchange.

What she did not bank on is being chased by a turkey that thinks it’s a dog and encountering a quirky old lady who says she will marry Aidan Jackson within a year.

Aidan Jackson is in fact the owner of the cottage and the farm where the berries need picking. These are not any old sort of berries but heartberries – and they have to be picked at night, by the first full moon and candlelight and it all has to be done before the tide starts and in time for the festival which features of course heartberries and lots of romance!

Tori doesn’t know what she has let herself in for, but if it means she can spend more time with her friend Melody and her sister Isla, then it is worth it.

Trouble is Tori starts to find that Sandcastle Bay and Aidan start getting under her skin and she realises that the bustling life she was living before was perhaps not living or loving at all.

Resolutely trying to not get her heart broken again, Tori and Aidan come to some sort of an understanding, but it seems that the locals of the village and the heartberries have other ideas.

If you want pure escapism, then Holly Martin is your go to author. I was transported to the beach, to the fields, to the cottage and even to Aidan’s bedroom (saucy!) with such ease that I felt so reassured by the book that love is out there for everyone.

The humour is subtle and the wonderful characters are easy to like and love and all I want to do when I read books like this, is to keep reading, to keep wanting to know more about them, to experience what they experience. Pure escapism reading at it’s best.

Clearly Holly Martin has set up this book to be another trilogy and I simply cannot wait until I can return to Tori, Aidan, Melody et al in the future.

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

The Holiday Cottage by the Sea is out now. 

 

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Books

The Postcard – Fern Britton

Fern takes us back to Cornwall and to a place we have visited before – Pendruggan. If you have read any of Fern’s previous books then you will immediately recognise the characters and the setting. However it can quite easily be read as a standalone novel and will no doubt tempt you to go back and read more about Pendruggan and its residents!

Penny seems to be settled as the vicars’ wife and mother to the gorgeous Jenna, she is also still very much involved in her job as a television producer. She has all she needs in the village, her family and her close friend Helen.

But when her sister turns up to share the news that her mother has died at the same as her popular television programme is cancelled Penny struggles to cope. Her cry for help is noticed but not properly heard and it takes an outsider to realise what is going on as Penny’s past is laid bare for all to see.

Ella is that outsider, she becomes involved in Penny’s life through looking after Jenna as well as working for Penny’s new next door neighbour Kit. Ella though is in Pendruggan for another reason, she has come to speak to her grandmother’s solicitor about her legacy – trouble is Ella is not the recipient that is Ella’s mother who walked out and left Ella and her brother a very long time ago.

This novel for me was really honest as it deals with some rather sensitive issues and I became immersed in the storyline. Penny’s decline of mental health was distressing to read and I wanted to step inside of the book and somehow do something to help. In equal measure I also wanted to step inside and have it out with Penny’s sister about her behaviour. That is how good I think the writing is – when you want to throttle a particular character on one page and sweep up another into a hug on the next.

Along with the main characters there is of course all the secondary ones and the lovely quirikness of village life that jumps off the page along with the setting and the scenery – what more could you want in a book?

A worthy read.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. It has taken me rather a while to get round to reading it. 

The Postcard is out now. The new novel Coming Home takes us back to Pendruggan and we learn more about Ella. 

 

 

 

 

 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

April Roundup

What a month! A holiday from work, various hospital appointments, plenty of knitting, a Royal Baby, plenty of cake, couple of days at Ragdale Hall and of course plenty of reading!

Where do I start really in looking back at what I have read?

Well I am really trying to make a dent in all the books I have on my netgalley list – I get a bit clicky happy when I see a lovely bright cover and something that is going to give me the feel good factor – which I need in buckets.

Which is why I went and caught up with Annie Darling – True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop and then discover there is another one out as I had got behind with the series! I think I liked this book more than the first.

Heidi Swain – Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage was another catch up and Heidi is fast becoming a favourite author who you know as soon as you pick up a book you are going to get a great story! I still have to catch up with The Cherry Tree Cafe and of course I have her new novel waiting and tempting me on my kindle! Damn that netgalley!

Then of course I hear that Fern Britton had a new novel out earlier in the year and I realised I had not read Fern Britton – The Postcard which I had hanging around on my kindle. Why had I not read this earlier – who knows and there is part of me which thinks I should stop putting off reading books by my favourite authors – I treat them with such reverence!

Of course I need to make a dent in the books on the shelves as well and so picked up Kathleen Tessaro – The Perfume Collector which took me on a lovely journey from New York and Paris and the mystery of the art of scent.

Alan Bradley – The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches was the only male author who I read this month – it has been a very female dominated one. But I got back to the delightful Flavia and enjoyed her latest escapade! Flavia is one to watch for the future.

We all probably said the same about Hillary Rodham Clinton – What Happened. I really spent about three months reading this book, as I dipped in and out of it as whilst it wasn’t heavy going it was a book to concentrate on, not for light reading before bedtime! Thank you to everyone who commented on my review/post I was not sure what sort of reaction I was going to get. It is certainly a step away from my normal reading choice.

The joy of blogging means that you do get to find out about other authors and of course that is what led me to pick up Elizabeth Taylor – The Wedding Group. I found it a lonely read in both plot and character and did not enjoy it as much as Mrs Palfrey.

In the centenary year of (some) women getting the vote I was thrilled to get an advance review of Lissa Evans – Old Baggage. I am rather a late comer to Lissa Evans but this book is excellent and focuses on what happened once they got the vote – where did all those women go and what did they do?

Some women still want to live no matter how old they are or what their family thinks. You should certainly read Judy Leigh – A Grand Old Time if you think that age has become a barrier to enjoying wine, men, food and campervans.

Enjoying food is certainly a hobby of mine and I like baking but all of a sudden I want to make chutney and jams thanks to reading Veronica Henry – A Family Recipe her latest novel. I need to dig out my mum’s old recipe books now!

I whizzed through Holly Martin – The Holiday Cottage by the Sea simply because she is another author I really enjoy and she seems to capture romance and humour with fascinating jobs and lives and add a big bit of raciness in it that makes me keep reading and reading. I realise I have the White Cliff Bay series to catch up on, not that I am short of books to read.

As the month came to an end I started a new book – I love that feeling of choosing something with inly a rough idea of what you are going to get between the covers and on the pages and whether it is going to draw you in. And of course it means more books ticked off the netgalley list and moved from the burgeoning bookshelves!

Happy reading in May.

 

Books

A Grand Old Time – Judy Leigh

Evie has moved into a care home. She is only 75 and cannot see why she is in there when she looks round at all the other residents. So she decides to leave and carrying on living her life.

Trouble is she doesn’t tell anyone. A trip from Ireland to Liverpool and a lot of luck on the way finds Evie with money to burn and making her way across France.

Brendan is Evie’s only son. His marriage is in crisis, his career is stagnant and he appears to have lost the zest for life and the love of everything.

When he discovers his mother’s disappearance he sets out to bring her home. Just as he thinks he is getting closer, it seems he is actually further away.

We follow Evie as she makes her way across France, discovering new friends young and old as well as new tastes in food, music, culture, wine and a simpler way of living. She has nothing to lose and tells it how it is, whilst her abruptness might be despised by many, it brings her a new lease of life. I enjoyed this part of the book, I felt I was reading almost a travelogue and a self-help book all rolled into one.

Then you get to Brendan’s story and I wanted to cry,because I could see the deep depression he was in and I felt it. I felt he was trapped and could not find any joy in life anymore. Despite being a beautiful part of the world looking for his mother. Maura, his wife was rather irritating at the beginning but as the story progresses as they go to France to find Evie, I changed my mind about her, ironically just as Evie does.

This is a beautifully subtle novel which deals with many emotions: fear at getting old, at losing someone or something. A deep-rooted sadness which looks like it will consume once it has got hold. Balancing it out with joy, love, trust and admiration for others who can help you find your own self and your own way.

I thought this was a seasoned author with many novels to her name. No this is her debut. Her characters are strong and weak, they have their faults and the author has not been afraid of exposing the harsher side of ageing but she also shows that life goes on and in fact you can start or restart living it at any age.

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

A Grand Old Time is out now.

 

Books

True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop – Annie Darling

Verity Love works at The Lonely Hearts Bookshop which was introduced to us in Annie Darling’s first novel in this series. It has taken me awhile to get to the second one and the third is already knocking at my door waiting to be read!

Verity works very much behind the scenes in the bookshop as the manager, reluctantly being in ‘the front’ when she has to. She keeps herself to herself and sticks to what she knows best – Jane Austen and finding space, peace and calm.

Everyone Verity knows has other ideas about what Verity should be doing so to take some of the pressure off she invents a fictional boyfriend Peter, that keeps her from attending any events as fictional boyfriend is often away or they are out together. Verity can reread her Austen novels in peace and remain resolutely single.

Trouble is fate is against her and when by chance she encounters Johnny which results in some confusion it seems that Johnny is also after a fictional girlfriend to take the pressure off him.

Verity and Johnny seem to be able to be each others excuses and plus ones. What a fun summer it is going to be.

Trouble is though, everyone else they meet start making their own conclusions up. The only people who know the truth are Verity’s sisters who were adorably funny.

Whilst this is a light-hearted read I was surprised at the reason behind Johnny’s need for a fabricated girlfriend in his life. This brought a different edge, not what I was expecting and introduced us to some rather unpleasant conceited characters.

Of course like any good Austen novel, there is a few misunderstandings along the way but set against a wonderful bookshop and the joy of Verity’s family this is a really good read.

Can be read happily read as a stand alone novel, the characters and focus of them change from book to book but it is lovely to know that Posy (from the first novel) venture into running a romantic fiction bookshop is still working.

A perfect book for romance fans.

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

True Love at The Lonely Hearts Bookshop is out now.

 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Ordeal by Innocence – Agatha Christie or TV

I read Ordeal by Innocence back in 2009 when it was first adapted for television by ITV and they stuck Miss Marple into it. I wanted to know the true story as created by Christie herself.

In light of the recent adaptation this time on the BBC I dug back out the review (posted on Amazon preblog) and have reposted below:

I picked up this as I have done with recent Agatha Christie novels in comparison to the TV adaptations.

Ordeal by Innocence, a recent Marple adaptation is a wide variation on the book. The murderer and motive are still the same and the first initial murder (which has already been committed in the book) is the same, other than that the book has more character depth and obviously no Miss Marple.

The detection of the real killer comes down to more than one person. Huish the original detective on the case when it is reopened by Dr Calgary’s evidence. Dr Calgary also feels responsible in bringing his evidence too late for the one originally arrested for the crime and seeks to rectify matters. Phillip Durrant, Son in Law to the eldest member of the Argyle family also piques an interest in the case, to take his mind off his disability. All members of the family then begin to doubt each other as reality sets in that if their brother (and son) did not commit the murder of their mother then one of them within Sunny Point (previously known as Vipers Point) and within the family did.

Christie uses her wonderful skills as a crime writer to let the reader see each character become unpicked and analysed, as each is dealt with in turn. Even those who have already died when the book begins. Rachel Argyle’s death at the hands originally thought to be one of her adopted sons, the ‘monkey -face’ Jacko is the key to unravelling the rest of the adopted children’s backgrounds. Their hopes and fears are dealt with when the death of their adoptive mother as well as what happened to their birth parents and Rachel Argyles apparent strict hold over them all comes up again as the case is re-examined.

Christie weaves the tale effectively and to the conclusion that the TV adaptation also reaches. The introduction of Miss Marple held more interest for me and I found that one investigator may have made the book more structured for me.

Nonetheless this is a story in the complexity of families, the murder a mere diversion to bring them altogether, no matter how dysfunctional they seem on the surface; do we really know what any of them are truly like when under pressure in being innocent……. it really can be an ordeal.

The latest adaptation was an ordeal. I watched it, because I like to be challenged and I like to have a view on what we expect something to be. And it is great to do mindless knitting to as well.

At times when I was watching it I was unsure as to what I was watching. It was very dark and tried to perhaps be too slick in its delivery. Christie did not need such fakery to set a tone, plot and pace. However I did think it brought out how horrible Rachel Argyle was and the hold she had over her ‘children’. As for the change of killer…….

Read this article – ironically on the BBC website and let me know your thoughts.

I have read somewhere that the executive producer has The ABC Murders as her next project – but that is Poirot and I am somewhat fearful of how that might turn out.

Nonetheless despite these differing reworkings. It creates debate and divides opinion and more than likely means people go back to read Agatha Christie. Surely that remains the main point?

Books

Lucy’s Little Village Book Club – Emma Davies

Any book that seems to be about books, book clubs, libraries or the way that others are brought together by books always seems to be a good choice to read. If like me you enjoy all these things then this is a book for you.

Lucy, temporary manager of the local library but secretly an aspiring writer thrives on the new book club that she started and the people she has grown fond of as they all arrive for different reasons at her group.

Callum, is escaping from home where he is bullied and cajoled by older brothers and lazy parents. He wants the simple things in life.

Single mum Hattie, needs some adult conversation and has her own demons she needs to work out before becoming her sister’s bridesmaid.

Widowed Oscar, is lonely and misses his wife terribly but also knows that a secret they both kept for their entire married life is about to be the cause of some heartache.

Lia is caring for her mother who has dementia and is slowly retreating into her past. A past where she danced and it seems that Lia has a passion for dancing as well.

As the book progress so do the relationships and friendships between the characters, some interesting secondary characters are introduced to add more depth to the book. There is a lot that goes on, new skills are learnt, past loves are laid to rest, newer loves are found and at the heart of it there is the strength of family and friendship in all their forms.

This is the first Emma Davies novel I have come across and I enjoyed it. I am interested to read her other novels and see is they evoke the same strength of community and friendship in a world which at the moment seems to be lacking in it.

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

Lucy’s Little Village Book Club is out now.