Books · Jottings

October Roundup

What a funny old month – the reading slowed down and then has sped up at a great speed due to illness and not being able to sleep! At this point I am grateful to my kindle, but not so grateful to whoever gave me an ear & chest infection along with laryngitis. It has been a quiet and deaf last few days of October.

Anyway, enough of my ailments – what about the books?

In a bid to make a dent in my own bookshelves I only managed to read Katie Fforde – A Secret Garden. A classic Katie Fforde and a perfect piece of escapism. There is something rather comforting relying on particular authors to transport you away, which is why I was eager to read Jenny Colgan – Island Christmas.

I stumble across this series of Colgan books by accident and devoured them all up and then had to wait to continue the wonderful story of the lives and characters of the fictitious island of Mure, based on an island in the Hebrides. If a book inspired you to go somewhere it was these books – in a busy and demanding world sometimes the thought of escape to recapture oneself is a dream.

I am also just discovering more of Milly Johnson’s work and so to take another book that has been languishing on my netgalley shelf this time I picked up Milly Johnson – The Perfectly Imperfect Woman. It had everything in a story that I like and made me keep coming back for more.

Trouble when you start a series of books and you are hooked, you do have to keep coming back for more, which is why I got hold of the last in the trilogy of Lavender Bay Sarah Bennett – Snowflakes at Lavender Bay. I know series have to end, but there are some of the characters I always want to go back and see again – that was this book.

Trying to lose some of what some people might call ‘fluffy’ reading I picked up Lesley Kara – The Rumour. I love rumours, what starts out as something innocent can snowball and gather pace until it bears no resemblance to the truth. But what if some rumours are actually pure simple truth? I say no more, but I think this a book that you are going to have to look out for when published at the end of the year.

Rumours is how many an Agatha Christie is solved, that innocent piece of gossip actually leads Poirot or Marple to the truth. In bid to make my way through her body of work and because I caught the adaptation on the television a while back I picked up Agatha Christie – After the Funeral. Some might think it bizarre to read after the watch, and for the majority I would agree. But when it comes to Dame A sometimes a little prior knowledge means that I approach the book as a challenge and see if I can see the clues.

Rumours and clues and then of course there is secrets. Moving away from women’s fiction, Lily Graham is branching out into dual time narrative historical fiction and she is winning the race. Lily Graham – The Paris Secret is a book which reminds you of the innocence of love during wartime and what some of the consequences could be. Fascinating.

Finally, I got to Joanna Nell – The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village which is another book been hanging around the netgalley shelf. It is a lovely quiet read, that takes you all the way to Australia – I did not realise this until about two-thirds of the way through the book. (*rolls eyes*). I did not even pick it up from the language, but it tells the story of the women in a retirement village who are not quite yet ready to retire from living a life!

So that was October, and whilst I write this in November and having already finished one book I am hoping that the lurgy dispatches soon as much as I enjoy all the stories, I would like some actual sleep at night.

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Books

The Moon Sister – Lucinda Riley

Here I am at the fifth story in The Seven Sisters series by Lucinda Riley. I had only just finished The Pearl Sister and this arrived, I debated whether to wait and look forward to reading it or diving straight in.

I chose the latter.

Tiggy D’Aplièse is the fifth of the girls to be adopted by Pa Salt, the billionaire who has died at the beginning of all these novels and leaves clues as to where he found all of his daughters. I can recall Tiggy being mentioned in previous novels, but her presence perhaps is not as dominant as her other sisters. It is in this book that we learn about Tiggy.

i is intuitive when it comes to animals and has a sense about her, that perhaps the rest of us don’t. Despite opportunities that could perhaps take her all over the world, Tiggy follows a path to the wilds of Scotland when she introduces wildcats to the Kinnaird Estate and whilst she stays to settle them in thanks to an offer from the Laird, Charlie she also sense another purpose whilst she is there.

Chilly has been on the Kinnaird Estate for a number of years and whilst the way he chooses to live his life, might seem strange to many, his sixth sense knows that one day he will meet a girl and send her back home – that girl is Tiggy.

That home is Granada, Spain.

And so Tiggy and us are taken back to 1930s Spain, the Spanish Civil War is not far away. But in the shadow of the Alhambra, Sacramonte, is a village in the caves of the hills where the gitano’s (gypsies) have settled after being driven out of the main city.

Here is where Tiggy learns of another life, another world, a place where her spiritual side makes sense and her the vibrations that not just come from here senses but the feet of the flamenco dancers.

The most famous of the area being Lucia, Tiggy’s grandmother.

The author, transported me back to this place, the darkness of the caves, the problems that the gitanos faced being on the outer edges of the city, of society, of religion, of what was considered normal behaviour. But showed a community brought together by all that makes them different, the culture, the music and of course the dance.

Words are lyrical, they can take you somewhere, they can form pictures in your imagination. But in this book, the description of the flamenco dancing and the music, but the flamenco especially, just resonates off the page. You can feel the vibrations of the feet, as they stamp and form, as the beat increases, as the arms move in almost synchronicity to the feet, as the dress is moved in time to the music and as the appreciative audience are held spellbound by such a display.

And so the story knits together as Tiggy unpicks her past, finds out where she came from and why she ended up being looked after by Pa Salt. I have had my ideas since the very beginning of this series about Pa Salt and in this book, as Tiggy is the more spiritual one, she begins to pick up thoughts and feelings, that any of the other sisters, but everything just seems out of reach. Only time will tell as the series moves on.

From Scotland, where estates, struggle to survive, in a less feudal world, to the city and heat of Spain, where those lesser classes are kept on the outskirts and treated with contempt and suspicion. To the mystery of the unknown, to that sixth sense that perhaps we all have when all we have to do is trust in what we believe and what we see.

I think like all the previous novels, I have learnt so much about something perhaps I did not know enough about and also been transported to places I will perhaps never get to see. This is for me the beauty of dual narrative books such as these. The past is place which we should not forget because it is very much what forms our future as it is for the six sisters in this series of novels.

I wait with great anticipation for the next book and Electra’s story.

Thank you the publisher for sending me this book in advance for review. I am eternally grateful to keep learning of the seven sisters, to escape into a well written world and books that show storytelling at its best. 

I am a fan of Lucinda Riley, but I write all my reviews honestly and feel lucky to be able to read her stories sometimes in advance of publication. 

The Moon Sister is published on 1 Nov 2018.

 

Books

The Paris Secret – Lily Graham

Valerie has been in Paris before, when she was three, she has never been back since. When she was three she was fleeing for her safety to England and her aunt.

Now in her twenties, Valerie goes back to a place to make sense of the future.

Getting a job in a bookshop in Paris, for any voracious reader would be a dream job. What makes this job more special for Valerie is in fact this is the bookshop she was born in and it is still owned by her grandfather, Vincent Dupont.

But Valerie is not being entirely truthful and does not tell Vincent who she really is.

What she discovers though is her past and what happened before that fateful day she was sent to England and will Vincent give up the bitter secret he has been holding onto for a number of years, eating away at his heart and spirit?

This is an emotional book, which transports you backwards and forwards in the 1940s and 1960s, in a different take perhaps on a dual time novel. The only short space of time is interesting because so much has happened and changed for a city such as Paris. History has taught us this and the author has used some of that to bring this story to life.

I worked out what Vincent was hiding from Valerie’s and I would have been interested to read some other accounts of that circumstance and the consequences for subsequent generations but that wasn’t to be. Despite knowing this, it did not spoil the novel at all – it was handled beautifully and told so well.

I felt I have been immersed in a place; Paris, a setting; a bookshop and a story.

This book is very different to Lily Graham’s earlier work – but do you know what? It is great writing and storytelling which will have me going back for more.

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

The Paris Secret is out now. 

 

Books · Jottings

September Roundup

Normally I have to confess my September reading tails off mainly due to being back to work and feeling like I have overread when I have had so much time at home during August. But this year, 2018 seems to be a very different year. I am 12 books ahead in my challenge and read a respectable 9 in September and one of them was over 700 pages long!

I am fairly new to Milly Johnson books and there is a few to catch back up with, but Milly Johnson – The Teashop on the Corner and her latest Milly Johnson – The Mother of all Christmases were both enjoyed in September, even if one of them had a slight Christmas feel! Unfortunately the ARC copy I had via netgalley was very badly formatted and it took a while to get going, but when I did I will say it was a lovely book to read.

Talking of Christmas I completed two series of books with Karen Clarke – The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove. Reading quite a lot of authors who are of a similar vein, some are more stronger than others and I have to say this series was not quite so good and I think I will certainly think twice about embarking on another read from her, not that there’s anything fundamentally wrong with the writing, but I know there are other books out there which are much stronger and also lots of books I have to read as well!

I don’t think I will venture far away from Holly Martin – Coming Home to Maple Cottage all of her novels have been a delight so warm and funny, I just have to keep reading. Christmas is the perfect time for a family to come together.

I only discovered Emma Davies this year and when I say she was writing a series of books around one place, I thought I would give them a go – what turned into a read to save for my holidays got absolutely devoured long before I had even sailed away on my cruise. Which is why I was there on day of publication for Emma Davies – Return to The Little Cottage on the Hill. Bringing to life the life of a blacksmith as well as the well cooked food and the people of Joy’s Acre. I have just preordered the next one!

Without netgalley I know I would not have been able to try half the books I have read and that is where I stumble across many an author and which is why then they have a new book I always like to go and see what it is all about which is why I found myself with Jennifer Joyce – The Single Mums’ Picnic Club. I am always in two minds about reading books featuring babies, mums etc as having had or been neither I do wonder if it will be as enthralling as they maybe to mothers? Only they can answer that question I suppose but this was a great book to show how friendships can be formed with different women with different backgrounds with the commonality of being a mum.

Food is a great way to draw people together and many books feature the joy of food cooking, catching, growing, eating, preparing and when you mention patissiere you can imagine the glorious feeling of biting into a fresh chocolate eclair and the cream just oozing out! Therefore reading Julie Caplin – The Little Paris Patisserie was like this without the calories. The story for me was weaker than her previous two novels in this series, but it made me want to break a choux pastry recipe and do them for myself.

A lot of the books I have read in September have been modern, contemporary novels and whilst Tracy Rees – Darling Blue is a modern author who manages to write historical fiction that just about manages to fit in that genre as her books change with each story and fit in nothing but the Tracy Rees box. Tracy wrote me a lovely message after the review of her latest was published here on this blog

It’s always nice to hear positive things about my books and especially so when I feel the reader really got it! I love how you said about each book being different and not fitting into the genre box. That’s something that’s really important to me, to keep doing something different and try for variety even within the loose category of ‘historical fiction. It’s not playing safe but it keeps me interested and hopefully gives each book its own life.

It always crosses my mind that if an author reads my review they may not like it. Of course not every book is for every person even if you have read from the author before. But so far for me Tracy Rees has delivered.

Of course fans of this blog (if there are any out there) should know I am a fna of Lucinda Riley and for me her books continue to deliver book after book.

Having finished The Pearl Sister back in August when Lucinda Riley – The Moon Sister landed on the mat, I had two options – place it reverently by the bed, thinking oh how wonderful I have this to read and I get to experience the story of The Seven Sisters or dive straight in and indulge in whatever story comes away from the page. reader I did the latter and so glad I did. The review is to follow as I want the book to settle in my mind, for the vibrations to continue that bit longer as I try to consolidate how I really feel about this story. One thing is for sure, each one is my favourite and I cannot distinguish between the first five.

So a pretty good September, but I know for October I want to get an inroad into my actual teetering pile of books I have around my home. The kindle and netgalley is a wonderful thing but I feel I need to hold onto some actual books for a while.

Happy Reading in October.

 

Books

Victory for the Shipyard Girls – Nancy Revell

I first met the Shipyard Girls some four books previous to this one, back last year. I stumbled across the second book, had to read the first and I have been hooked ever since. So when I got the opportunity to read this one, I was not going to let it pass me by.

It is now 1942 – the war is still raging on and the Shipyard Girls are doing their best to keep up their own spirits as they work long, tough hours in one of the many shipyards in Sunderland.

Rosie is still in charge of the women welders and she tries to keep herself busy as whilst life has changed for her in some ways, especially with her strong relationship with Peter. Her old life is still playing a part and it is something that she cannot give up, despite the risks.

Gloria, despite having recovered from her ordeal, is still holding onto some secrets, not her own – but others and she knows that if she does anything those around her will get hurt.

Bel is put out that her mother Pearl seems to have a stronger bond with Maisie, than her and she is determined to find out her true parentage. Pearl has other ideas. In a change we are taken through flashbacks to Pearl’s earlier life and see what has happened to her which may indicate her behaviour in the present.

Helen is still blazing a trail being in charge at the shipyard whilst her father has had to go to Scotland – his absence is being felt keenly by Helen even though his actions have hurt her deeply. When she discovers the truth about what real love is like, she turns to unexpected quarters for help.

As with any saga if you follow it from the beginning, the characters are either in the background, still there and well rounded, or they are in the forefront of the plot and we learn more about them whether it be their past or the actions they take in the present.

I cannot say that these novels have becoming formulaic or boring, the author somehow injects different plot devices into them just to keep us readers on our toes and also covers some of the more less publicised aspects of the Second World War. I am intrigued as to where the author will go next.

This series of novels has really captured me and it is a long time since I have read any decent sagas which I want to return to and continue the story. I envy anyone who picks up the first of these novels – they have such joy to come.

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

Victory for the Shipyard Girls is out on 6 September. 

If you wish to read them in order:

  1. The Shipyard Girls
  2. Shipyard Girls at War
  3. Secrets of the Shipyard Girls
  4. Shipyard Girls in Love
  5. Victory for the Shipyard Girls (review above)
  6. Courage of the Shipyard Girls (published in 2019)

As the sixth book is still set around 1942 – I am hoping that there are many more books to come!

 

Books · Jottings · Witterings

August Roundup

What a month August has been – I have been away on my first cruise to Norway and had a lovely three week break from work and of course read some wonderful (and not so) books.

So where to start – with the not so books I think.

Kim Barnes – In the Kingdom of Men has been sat on my shelf for a very long time and I decided in a bid to read some on my shelf to pick this one up. Set in the lates 1960s, around the oil industry between America and the Arabs it was a very claustrophobic novel which really did not come to much until the last thirty pages or so of the book. I have read it and passed it on. Someone else might get more from it than me.

When I picked the latest Nicky Pellegrino – A Year at Hotel Gondola I knew what I was expecting to get, sadly I was disappointed with the strnegth of character but I was transported away to Italy and Venice, so there was some good to be had.

Carol Wyer – Take a Chance on Me was another book that had been sitting on my netgalley shelf for a long time and I thought again it was about time I made room on their too! A book that you could read when you needed something that did not hold your attention, I have read better.

I took a chance on Lesley Eames – The Silver Ladies of London when I spotted it. A lovely historical saga with four female protagonists with different backgrounds finding themselves in London, no where to live, no job and only a Roll Royce. What more could a girl want in the 1920s. A great saga and I will look out for more by this author.

Sometimes when you are reading, all you want to go back to is what you know and love which is why I have picked up authors I know I am going to get a great story from.

I am keeping up with this series, thanks in part to netgalley but also because I am so involved with the characters which is why I couldn’t wait to read Nancy Revell – Victory for the Shipyard Girls – when it appeared on netgalley. Forget soap operas – this series is much better.

I am lucky to get access to current releases early thanks to netgalley and some I read straight away and some I hold to and read at another time – don’t ask me what the logic is I don’t know myself. Anyway I caught up with last years Christie Barlow release and thought let’s just dive into this years so I did with Christie Barlow – A Home at Honeysuckle Farm which takes you from New York to a small village from losing your dreams to finding them again. And this is a book to get you in the mood for the upcoming series of Strictly!

Julie Caplin – The Little Brooklyn Bakery – last time I went to Copenhagen this time it is Brooklyn. THat is the beauty of reading it can transport you anywhere! This is the second in the series of books and I thik much better than the first. I have the third to read and I cannot wait to be transported away again.

Binge is very much a word of recent times – Binge Eating and Binge Watching spring to mind – then there is Binge Reading. I know I probably don’t really qualify for the amateurs even when it comes to Binge Reading, but when I discover an author and a particular story I am sometimes hooked that I have to read the next one in the series. Which is why I was going to take Emma Davies – The Little Cottage on the Hill on holiday with me but then I started reading it and was hooked so went straight into Emma Davies – Summer at The Little Cottage on the Hill before I had even thought about packing! I have just downloaded the third in the series and preordered the fourth!

Looking at my lists, it seems that I only have one Heidi Swain to catch up on, which oddly enough is her first novel. I will get to that I promise but in the meantime I could not help delving into Heidi Swain – Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square which moves away (but close) to the lovely Wynbridge and all its characters. But no fear I was back there in her Christmas (yes I said the word) Heidi Swain – Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland though you will have to wait a while for the review for this one!

And finally I come to Lucinda Riley – The Pearl Sister. You could say I have saved the best for last and whilst that is partly true it is more to do with the fact that I have had this book for a year and it is by my bed sat being unread – it is almost as if I do read it the magic of the anticipation of the novel goes away. How daft, thinks me so I got on and read it in August – it is a mighty tome to read and not very conducive to lying down in bed but easy enough for sitting in the shade while the heat was baring down. It is everything I anticipated and more and now having the next one in the series, I am not making the same mistake – I started it straight away when it arrived.

So that was my August, some mighty fine reading and I am motoring through books, not sure why but there you go. Too hot perhaps to do anything else these last two months.

So as we turn to Autumn I feel the Christmas reads will be on me soon and I will be dreaming about the days of Summer and all the lovely places I have been.

How was your August? What are you looking forward to in September?

 

Books

The Silver Ladies of London – Lesley Eames

This book caught my eye, it looked like my sort of book –  historical saga. I know nothing of the author and so decided to take a risk, it was either going to work or not.

I am pleased to say it worked and it worked really well that I had to keep reading, way past my bedtime! (Thank goodness I was on holiday!)

1923 Northampton.

Four girls Ruth, Lydia, Jenny and Grace all work together in a big house in domestic roles.

That is until the day they are dismissed without references.

But that is the day that it all changes for them.

Ruth, has come into some money thanks to a kindly aunt and much to her parents chagrin and a codicil of the inheritance, she takes the money and runs….. to London.

And Lydia, Jenny and Grace all go with her.

What they find is a very different place from the one they left behind, but with determination and a silver Rolls Royce also left to Ruth they decide to make a life for themselves.

Lydia the feisty and outspoken of the four, is only happy when she is driving a car and fiddling under the bonnet. Her mother ran out on her more than fifteen years ago and her father is not interested, who would miss her?

Jenny has style and can make something out of nothing when she is faced with old clothes or material. Wanting to escape a rather odious step father who has other plans for her, Jenny thinks she is safer in London.

Grace is determined to make some money to make sure her grandmother is well looked after. The natural leader, organiser and administrator of the four she uses all these skills to set them up and makes sure she can leave the all behind when she has to return.

Four strong female characters, all with faults come together and focus on all their positive strengths to take one Silver Rolls Royce and provide a service for people in London in a time when women have only just recently obtained the vote and then not all of them and that the First World War has changed many perceptions.

This is a great discovery of a novel, really well written and it was great to watch the four girls discover London for the first time and witness the changes that were going on around them. Of course there is some romance on the horizon and it comes instantly and sometimes as a slow burning love but whatever gets in their way, may it be distance, violence, threats or even fire the Silver Ladies have a strength to carry on.

A very good historical saga which focuses on different aspects of the 1920s and is a novel that doesn’t show women in a pure domestic light.

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

The Silver Ladies of London is out now.