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

Triumph of the Shipyard Girls – Nancy Revell

Some series of books can be happily read out of order as they simply regurgitate much of previous books to pad out the new ones. Not so with Nancy Revell, I would actively encourage you to read them all in order as they follow on almost from the page of the last.

So here we are with book number eight. Polly is left behind as her husband, Tommy  goes back to fight in the war, but it seems she has a secret blossoming which means she will always have a piece of her Tommy with her at any time. More important now as they lose people very close to them.

Helen is still battling with her mother and the hold she has over Helen and the women welders in Thompson’s yard. Secrets can make you bitter and twisted and it seems that Helen has stumbled across another one and it seems her mother knows nothing about it.

Bel is enjoying working at the shipyard but it seems her mother Pearl, is not so keen. Is Bel trying to get to the truth about her heritage and it seems that someone else is also making connections. The past is about to come into the future for Bel and Pearl.

Rosie and her younger sister Charlotte, still dominate the storyline as Charlotte grows, gets older and understands more of the world she has many questions about Rosie’s work and friendship with Lily. What she discovers raises more questions than answers and sometimes it is best that some secrets are best left untold. Interestingly, we go further back into Rosie’s past to see what led her to the place she is in now and how Charlotte end up in boarding school and Rosie at Lily’s. This is what keeps the books and the plots fresh – there is always a new element to discover.

Through all of this, the regular characters feature as does the shadow of war and relentless bombing by the luftwaffe, which makes a mark on the area once again in the novel. Home are destroyed, ship production is set back but the Shipyard Girls somehow maintain there grace and warmth to see them through.

I have said before and will no doubt say again and again – this is a wonderful series of books. Women are at the heart of these stories, their strength whether it be playing their own role in fighting Hitler, fighting their demons, keeping the strength of love going during separation, keeping secrets, missing loved ones or just trying to simply manage day to day. The books are packed with so much.

I know at some point that this series will inevitably come to a conclusion, but until it does I am to go enjoy the books and keep telling you all about them.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read these books. 

Triumph of the Shipyard Girls is published on the 19 March. 

If you wish to read them all 

  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 
  6. Courage of the Shipyard Girls 
  7. Christmas with the Shipyard Girls
  8. Triumph of the Shipyard Girls 

 

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

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 · Jottings · Witterings

January Roundup

Boom and one month gone! My nan was right, time goes quicker the older you get.

But this month time has been spent reading more books that have been hanging around for a while.

I saw all the hype regarding Lucy Foley – The Hunting Party, the cover itself makes the books stand out and when I spotted her new crime novel available on netgalley I only thought it fair to read the first. A page turner that is well worth a read and I have to admit was probably worth a lot fo the hype as well! As for her second I end the month reading that and well it seems to be up there with the first!

January 2020 is the month we lost Marion Chesney/M.C. Beaton and I therefore thought it as fitting to read one of the books which I had on my shelf for a while M.C.Beaton – Agatha Raisin: There Goes the Bride. A passable book which almost cleans your brain for whatever else is to come and what you have read before, they are a simply forumliac joy. My only wish is that they do not ship in a ghostwriter to carry on the oeuvre simply for making money.

Last year was the first time of reading anything by Caroline Roberts and I had did a bit of a binge with Caroline Roberts – The Cosy Teashop in the Castle followed straight away with Caroline Roberts – The Cosy Christmas Teashop. Both delightful reads and I think a first for me reading a Christmas themed book after the event and not before. I look forward to catching up with more from this author.

To balance it all out a bit I did read some of the wonderful new novels which I gain access to through netgalley. Lorna Cook – The Forbidden Promise, second novel is as good if not better than the first. A great historical dual time narrative set in the second world war which draws you in and keeps you in the wilds of Scotland.

Going further back to the turn of the century and mining takes me to Tracy Rees – The House at Silvermoor. This time we are taken to Yorkshire, mining villages, conflicts between families and the lies and mysteries that a seemingly empty house brings. One of the best books written by Tracy Rees with such fantastic attention to detail you could almost taste the coal being mined.

And finally across the oceans to Australia and the mid nineteen eighties. Sophie Green – The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle, showing the strength of friendship and community in a shared love. Swimming. It appealed to me because of my own love of swimming although the coast around Portsmouth has slightly cooler water than that of Australia!

So that was January 2020 – not a bad month really. A time to reflect and get back to some sort of order and resemblance which helps my mental health no end. Unfortunately the grey weather does not. More books full of sunshine needed.

How has your January been? What is bringing you colour?

 

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. 

 

Books

Silent in the Grave – Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Grave is a great discovery. Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane make a rather odd duo, when they set out to find out if Edward, Julia’s husband was actually murdered or did he die of natural causes and his weakening heart condition.

We go on a journey through Julia’s strict mourning, with her family the March’s, her rather odd behaving brother Val, Portia her sister, `The Ghoul’ as well as her servants, Morag and Magda and even Desmond a character who seems rather insignificant at the beginning comes more important as the story goes on. Faithful servants like Aquinas and rather odd characters like Cass all make this story richer. This background all adds to the developing plot – who killed Edward? This doubt over his death is kept in a rather close knit way from many people, and as you read you feel privileged to be apart of the secrets that have been found and the clues that lead to dead ends as well as amazing discoveries and eventually the truth.

You are plunged into some rather low life parts of Victorian Society, but also some rather frivolous ones with the evening of entertainment by a `March’ aunt, tea with Fleur and the discovery of gypsies and their ways and means. So much more to say, but this would give vital clues to the plot and outcome and would be unfair to someone reading this review.

This is a real delight, if somewhat tongue in cheek it still serves as a great page turner and definitely worth a look, I can’t wait to read Book Two.

Looking back over the last ten years of posts I stumbled across the fact that the last time I had read anything by Deanna Raybourn was back in 2010. 

I spoke about Deanna Raybourn in a post here

Silent in the Grave was the first book by this author and I read it long before the blog and my review has only been on Amazon and I now resurrect it here. I would like to think that my reviews have improved since this one. Over the next month I will feature the other two books that I have read and reviewed and it has inspired me to go back to this series and once again join Lady Julia Grey.