Books

The Lemon Tree Cafe – Cathy Bramley

Rosie sticking to her principles finds herself jobless and helping out at her grandmother’s cafe in a village in Derbyshire. Not quite where she thought life was going to take her.

However, Rosie finds something in the cafe and being back with her family that means perhaps she has found what she has been searching for all this time.

Rosie then stumbles across some secrets, ones that have been kept from her and her family for a generation. Her Italian grandmother holds the key to the past and it will not just unlock the past but make Rosie face something she has been hiding away for years. How can the past and the present be so related.

When a handsome familiar face sails into the village then Rosie might need to face the past. However when it looks like everything she is working for is being threatened by those close she needs to dig deep, look past her failings and perhaps start to let people into her life.

This is another lovely read from an author who weaves a story through the roll hills of Derbyshire, through to the Italian streets and the warmth of family and friendship from a long time ago. All of the characters no matter how minor, have a role to play and somehow seem to be fully formed with enough background for us to love, like or loathe.

You are guaranteed a story with Cathy Bramley one you can lose yourself in and forget everything around you. Perfect for fans of Katie Fforde and Trisha Ashley.

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

The Lemon Tree Cafe is out now and was originally published in 4 parts. I read the full version as I much prefer this way of reading.

 

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Books

The Foyles Bookshop Girls – Elaine Roberts

I cannot resist a book about books or book shops and that was the main reason of course for picking this title. But the title and the cover do not really do it justice.

This is a lovely wartime saga set at the outbreak of the First World War where the world was a different place and the excitement and buzz from fighting was nothing like the true horrors of the men that returned.

The characters of the book are of course all those who work in Foyles, in particular Alice, Victoria and Molly. I of course loved the little insights into the workings of the shop – to have to go and pay at a counter and take a receipt back so you could collect the book you had purchased.

But the three girls and their lives are what drives this book forward. Alice has been in love with Freddie ,a policeman for a while, in fact he was there when Victoria lost her parents and now war is coming, the future is very different and he wants to make sure Alice remains the girl for him.

Victoria is struggling with her two siblings who she has sole responsibility for financial and emotional and it is becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet. The war helps her family to move toward some sort of purpose.

Molly is always bubbly and bright but when she becomes involved with a man she seems to lose her sparkle and when things end between them and he eventually goes to war, she wonders whether she should have just put up with what she had.

We get to meet their families as well and I was fascinated by Alice’s family dynamic. Her spritely and spirited sister Lily who was out fighting for suffragism against their indomitable father does something even more outstanding  but it is not her who makes their father see what his actions are causing.

Of course the First World War is a dominant feature of this book but I found its approach refreshing and it brought home what was happening on the Home Front as much as in the battlefields. The belief that it would all be over by Christmas of 1914 was clearly believed. But life went on and people still visited the girls in the bookshop – an escape from reality?

This is a strong start to what looks to be a trilogy of books about these women and I cannot wait to go back and see how they are all fairing.

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

The Foyles Bookshop Girls is out now. 

Books

Old Baggage – Lissa Evans

Stop and think about this title of the latest book from Lissa Evans.

Old Baggage, can mean different things to different people. It can be used as a description of some older lady, past her prime and of no use to anyone or society. It can be the baggage we bring from the past into the present. It can be actual tangible items, it can be thoughts, emotions and feelings. It can simply be an old bag with treasures inside that has sat unopened for a long time.

But what if it is all those things as Lissa Evans cleverly weaves her tale.

Matilda Simpkin, Mattie to her friends is all the things I have described and more. She is a lady of a certain age, who having been a militant activist within the Suffragette movement has now reached a stage in life where she finds she is of no use, she has no purpose. She is simply seen by others as Old Baggage.

But upon discovering a wooden club in an old bag, she wonders perhaps if there is still not more to do and can you still be idealistic and principled ten years after the main event.

However, times have changed and they are moving in a different direction and when Mattie encounters someone from her past what she believes in suddenly becomes lost in some other campaign.

I was drawn to all the characters, even though Mattie dominates the pages. Those she interacts with like The Flea (read the book to find out why she is called that) and young Ida who they both take under their wing. Mattie sees Ida as the future but, Ida sees a very different future and Mattie needs to change that, she did not fight for no reason.

This is a enthralling read, which did make me stop and think what became of the suffragettes and this is an ideal book to celebrate the centenary of those who fought so I can have a vote.  I enjoyed all the historical aspects of it and how I was taken back to the cells of Holloway and reminded that it was another ten years before all women had the vote.

This book is funny and moving and quietly powerful. The way the book is structured is perhaps  different from the norm (no defined chapters) but somehow this all adds to the story, as an old bag is found, old stories come tumbling out and they might well be able to define the future of women all over the world.

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

Old Baggage will be published on 14 June.

Books

The Bakery at Seashell Cove – Karen Clarke

It is only a mere few days since I was in Seashell Cove and was getting to know Cassie and how she was trying to make her mark on her parents cafe.

This time back in Seashell Cove we are with one of Cassie’s friends who we were introduced to previously, Meg. Meg is a baker and bakes the cakes for the cafe and very popular they are too.

Trouble is the bakery where Meg works is being sold so she is feeling a little vulnerable especially as her fiance Sam is more interested in bikes and racing than he is in Meg. But childhood sweethearts can overcome anything if they are meant to be together.

Whilst Sam is away riding, Meg receives some rather shocking news about her family’s past and what is exactly going on with her mother in the present. Turning to Sam seems the obvious answer but he is not being very forthcoming. Meg is starting to worry. To add to the worry of who will buy the bakery.

Nathan comes across Meg in the bakery when he is there to sell the place and show round potential buyers. Meg is not keen on it being sold and not remaining a bakery but vows to silently bake until she can’t anymore. Nathan seems quite keen for the bakery to remain and when a secret buyer is found and Meg finally gets her dream she suddenly can see what life might be like if you perhaps choose different ingredients.

This is another great read from Karen Clarke. I was transported to the warmth of the ovens in the bakery, the dusting of flour over everything made the relationships sparkle. And I positively wanted to scream at Sam. Somehow it all works but it gives you enough to care about the characters and loathe them in equal measure as well as superb settings and great plot lines.

I am wondering where we are going to go next with Karen Clarke.

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

The Bakery at Seashell Cove is published on the 8th June. 

Books

May Roundup

Last May was the month of the kindle – it seems this May was too!

That is the trouble with netgalley I get over enthusiastic with all the lovely new books and authors I can read that I find I am slightly swamped. But I made a good dent into the list and have read some really lovely books.

I reached the end of Liz Eeles – Annie’s Summer by the Sea which as the trilogy progressed got better with each book. Of course this book was set in Cornwall which is a popular setting for many authors that I read and it really does add something to the story.

I also reached the last book Holly Hepburn – Starry Skies at Castle Court. I really do try not to request books on netgalley that are parts of a story – however not paying attention made me get the first of this new series. I therefore had to keep reading the others. But if you can bear to wait then you need to be looking out for a book called A Year at Castle Court. I have nearly fallen into that trap again in recent days! But I resisted and just added them to my wish list on amazon to remember for the future.

Talking about series of books and being a bit too request happy on Netgalley, ages ago I downloaded Karen Clarke – The Cafe at Seashell Cove and it sat waiting to be read and then I spotted Karen Clarke – The Bakery at Seashell Cove. Knowing that I had not read the first spurred me on and I read them back to back which meant that I was really involved in Seashell Cove for a lovely while. A place for a holiday that’s for sure.

Amongst all this new reading I do try and get to the many books sitting on my shelf. It has been a while for this one Katharine McMahon – The Woman in the Picture. This is a follow-up to The Crimson Rooms which I read eight years ago and I was immediately taken right back as if I had only just left the characters. In the centenary of women’s suffrage this was a timely book to be reading.

I love my historical fiction even if it is not necessarily considered highbrow but comes in the saga form which is how I came to pick up Elaine Roberts – The Foyle’s Bookshop Girls. I did think that maybe I would get to see a bit more of an insight into the Foyle’s bookshops than I did get. However it was great writing and yet again I will need to revisit!

I have only read a few books by this author but Emma Hannigan – The Wedding Promise was one of the last written before she sadly died recently of cancer. This was a lovely book, really heartwarming and I escaped abroad with the characters.

I have even been to Copenhagen with Julie Caplin – The Little Cafe in Copenhagen. Embracing the concept of Hygge in your life to make you stop and take stock of what is going on around you and how it is affecting you!

Gail Honeyman – Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a title you might have seen gracing many bookshop shelves in recent months. I was aware of it but didn’t really know much else. My friend read it and lent it to me. A good read that reminded me of The Rosie Project a lot of the time and also of myself in a self reflective way.

Well that was May, I am motoring through books on my kindle and trying to make more of an effort with those on my shelf too.

I wonder where June will take me? If you are wondering about the Six in Six – it will return for 2018!

Where has May taken your reading?

 

Books

The Cafe at Seashell Cove – Karen Clarke

This is the first in a new series of books from the author Karen Clarke, who in 2017 gave us the Beachside series. This time we are in Seashell Cove and quite frankly I want to move there straight away, it seems to be a hive of activity.

Cassie long since left Seashell Cove but she has come back home because she needs a break from her career – well that is what she is telling anyone who asks and probably is trying to convince herself as well.

To keep herself occupied Cassie decides to breathe some new life back into her parents cafe. She is too late it seems the cafe has a lot going for it, but not one to be put off despite her parents reluctance  – she starts thinking about how she can set up a cat cafe or coffee tasting to bring something different to the area.

Trouble is Seashell Cove does not need anything different. It has everything for everyone which is why Cassie’s brother has also returned and started surprisingly to settle down. Even Cassie’s old school friends, Meg and Tilly have a different outlook on living in Seashell Cove. Then there is Danny who remembers the girl he sat with in art classes in school, perhaps now he can see a future being painted before his very eyes.

Of course Cassie’s impact on Seashell Cove has some interesting and somewhat humorous outcomes. In fact all the characters are likeable and even the disagreeable ones are quite fun in their own way! At its heart is the strength of family love for each other and respecting decisions. I did think at one point it might not all be settled how it should be, but of course with a bit of humour even the quirkiest of families can love each other.

Heartwarming and funny is sometimes all you need in a book and this is one book which will satisfy the reader!

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

The Cafe at Seashell Cove is out now.

I was lucky enough to get the next book in the series and have dived right in after reading this one. I don’t want to miss out on any of the action. 

 

 

Books

Annie’s Summer by the Sea – Liz Eeles

Back in the beginning city girl Annie came down to Cornwall when she receives an unexpected letter from an unknown relative, Great Aunt Alice. Annie ends up staying and becoming part of the community of Salt Bay.

In this the final part of the trilogy we get to see how far Annie has come from that city slicker to a real Cornwall local who is loved by all.

Of course it is not going to be an easy ride and when Annie finds that she has been left the house she now calls home, Tregavara House she realises being away from the city is not merely a whim or fancy it has become reality. Even more so now her gorgeous boyfriend Josh has moved into the house and along with step sister, Storm and Emily Alice’s carer they make for an interesting story.

Of course being married to Josh would certainly mean Annie will stay in Cornwall, but when a fierce summer storm batters Salt Bay the house shows its true colours and worth and along with ruining Annie’s wedding dress it might ruin her chance to have a permanent home.

It was great to return to Salt Bay and catch up with everyone there. I disliked Annie at the very beginning of this trilogy and so was thrilled that the writing was so good that I actually changed my mind and grew to love her and everyone else in Salt Bay.

I will be sad to be leaving but know that now I am gone, that all will be well,.

A great trilogy for a summer read that gives you that feel good factor long after you have finished the book.

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

Annie’s Summer by the Sea and the first two novels are out now.