Books

Before the Rains – Dinah Jefferies

There is something very atmospheric about this book, as the heat of India becomes intense as they wait for the rains to break the searing heat, to bring water and life to the land it also reflects the tension within the palaces, within the British position and with the main characters of this story.

Photojournalist Eliza returns to India, it is 1930 she is widowed and she is escaping her life with her work. Given the opportunity from a family friend, Clifford Salter and a member of the British Government, Eliza gets the chance to spend a year taking photos, to create an archive of a royal family in one of the states.

The last time she was in India, she watched her father die in tragic circumstances.

Eliza hopes that she may well be able to put some ghosts to rest. Although she cannot guarantee she will not in fact raise some ghosts from the past.

She meets Jay, the second son and not ever destined to become the Prince. There is a spark of something more than the respect that develops for each other.

Jay shows Eliza parts of India, for her project but Eliza shows Jay through her pictures, her eyes exactly what his people are living like, the poverty that they endure day after day. Jay shows how that British Rule is perhaps causing more trouble that it is worth and that the people of India are capable of forming their own destinies without colonial rule.

Eliza and Jay, clash as two very different worlds collide, through that collision that spark begins to develop. But it can never be. Can it?

This rich evocative novel is a love story, a love story that is forbidden in a land where love is not considered the reason for relationships to form. It is all about power, money, alliance and land.

As with all her novels if you have ever read them, the author paints a picture of a place where the colour leaps from the page, the smell wafts past as you immerse yourself in the culture which form the background of the story. But of course it is now always the background it actually is the story as well as the characters.

With intrigue, deception and mistrust within the palace walls and all over India, Eliza is there at a time when perhaps barriers could be broken down…..

A compelling historical fiction novel which will evoke some rather upsetting emotions within the reader as the follow Eliza and Jay’s story. Vividly descriptive and beautifully written this is a book you must read.

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

Before the Rains is out now. 

Please check out my blog for other Dinah Jefferies novels, I recommend them all. 

 

Books

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found – Trisha Ashley

Alice always knew that her parents were not her real parents, her step father said she was discovered in Haworth outside the Bronte Parsonage. The story of her discovering was added to over the years until one day her stepfather dies.

It is only then that Alice discovers that her stepmother has always loathed her and never even wanted her. Suddenly adrift and alone again Alice tries to find a place to settle and maker her home and find some identity within her self.

In Cornwall she finds friendship with Edie who takes her under a wing and provides perhaps the motherly figure she has always been missing in her life. When Edie moves to Scotland, it isn’t long before Alice thinks that she will follow, her life in Cornwall not turning out to be very much.

In Scotland she starts to settle, meets Dan and helps in a local cafe where she can perfect her baking. But then tragedy strikes and Alice is adrift yet again. Now is the time to find out where she really belongs and so she heads to Haworth.

Making an impetuous purchase on an unseen cafe in Haworth Alice takes the bit between her teeth and decides to open a teashop with the rudest waitresses in Yorkshire. She does of course have many hurdles to overcome and has many doubters along the way but Alice’s determination to do something and make a mark is strong.

Hoping that she may well also discover the truth about her birth, as well as pursue a part-time career in writing fairy stories with a twist, Alice discovers that not all fairy tales are straightforward and they don not all have a happy ending.

As with any Trisha Ashley novel, this is well written, the characters fully formed and developed and there is always more than one plot line weaving its way through the book. In fact with this book you could almost say you were getting three stories for the price of one! I loved so much about this book because I cared so much for the main protagonists, I want to eat in the teashop and stay at the lovely Bed and Breakfast where Alice is made to feel at home. The short vignettes of one of the stories are no more than a paragraph and in that short space of time, I took a complete dislike to a character – that is the charm of Trisha Ashley’s novels and especially this one. There is so much packed into the pages.

One of my favourite reads of 2017 and of Trisha Ashley novels. Go buy and read it, you will not be disappointed and like me you will not want it to end.

The Little Teashop of Lost and Found is put now in hardback.

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read this book and of course to the wonderful Trisha Ashley for writing it. 

Books

A Spring Affair: Willow Cottage – Bella Osborne

I was so excited to be able to read the next part in Beth and Leo’s story. I have grown to care for Beth and Leo and only want what is best for them especially as in this book we find more about what Beth is running from and why.

The cottage is really starting to take shape and trying to save money, Beth is determined to do as much as she can on her own. Even though Jack has helped she realises that she is getting too close to him especially when she learns something about his past. Bella puts two and two together and sadly makes five, and it is this which sets her on a path to alienate herself from everyone again. She is not planning on staying at Willow Cottage for long and it seems she may have to move quicker than she first thought.

When a rain-soaked day ends up with her kitchen flooded, she has no choice but to turn to Jack.

In this part we see more of Carly and her boyfriend, Fergus which was great as it added more depth to the book. Of course Carly and Fergus knew little of what Beth was running away from but as they learn so do we. As backgrounds are filled in on the characters as the story progresses it made me want to keep reading but now I will have to wait for the final part.

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

Willow Cottage : A Spring Affair is out on 23rd March.  The final part is due out in May with the complete book out in August. 

 

 

Books

The Vets at Hope Green – Part 3

Getting involved with a serialised novel can be a blessing and a curse, especially when the story is strong and you want to keep reading.That is the case with The Vets at Hope Green – I first talked about the book here when the second part was due out.

Thanks to the publisher and netgalley the third part was sent to me

Sam is settling into life and her unexpected pregnancy, but she is trying her hardest to hide it from her crotchety boss, Joe.

Joe seems to be hiding something and when a chance encounter at some stables, Sam begins to see a different side to this man, but his secrets still remain hidden. It begins to remind Sam of something she is trying to forget, another secret no one knows about.

Sam might well be able to hide some secrets, but her past she left behind in London, returns with some rather unwelcome news.

As this part closes, there is a shock and it seems that everything at Hope Green is going to change.

I am looking forward to reading the final part.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to continue to read this story. 

The Vets at Hope Green: Part Three is out on 16th March on kindle. The final part in April and the full novel (the best way to read this story) is out in June. 

Books

The Riviera Express – T.P. Fielden

Old fashioned, golden age murder mysteries are one of my favourite genres and when I got the chance to pick this book up and read it I thought it would tick all the boxes for me. I am not sure it did?

I love the cover, it has an almost 1930s style to it, which is in contradiction to the setting of the book which is late 1950s in the South West.

When the premise gives you lines such as ” Murdered on the 4.30 from Paddington” you can almost hear Miss Marple drop her knitting needles and come scurrying. Of course it was not going to be her, but in fact Miss Judy Dimont, “corkscrewed hair reporter for the local rag, The Riviera Express.”

The irony was not lost on me, dead body on the train dubbed The Riviera Express and the reporter turned investigator working on the local paper The Riviera Express.

Gerald Hennessey is the dead body. He is a famous film actor.

But why exactly was he on a train to Temple Regis? And what relevance is the three letters in written on the window of the train carriage?

This gives enough for Miss Judy Dimont to think about when another body turns up, then someone goes missing and it seems that Miss Dimont is convinced that there is a connection between these three people.

Trouble is she needs to do all this investigating without letting her editor, Rudyard Rhys know. And there is a past hinted at there which adds to Miss Dimont’s difficulties.

All of this makes for an interesting read and as I got through the book, I had to finish it because I wanted to know who the murderer was and why. I didn’t work it out, either because the clues missed me completely by or they were too far hidden in the rather odd way of writing. From the offset it was very disjointed and did not flow easily from paragraph to paragraph and plot line to plot line. There was definite breaks and that almost jarred my reading of it all.

My focus was broken on this book and I was left rather disappointed. The book should have been a lot better as the premise, setting and some of the characters within the novel had a lot of potential. I think the writing let it down.

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

The Riviera Express is out now.

I would love to know your thoughts if you pick up this book to try. I am in two minds as to whether I would pick up the second book. 

I also would love to know who T.P Fielden is? Goodreads- ” leading author, broadcaster and journalist”. Which makes me think that they are more well-known under another name? 

Books

The Cosy Coffee Shop of Promsies – Kellie Hailes

There is quite a lot packed into this novel and it is relatively short at only 155 pages.

Mel is living her dream of settling in one place and running a coffee shop and she does not need a man to make her life fulfilled and complete.

That is until she goes into the local pub and sees a brand new sparkling coffee machine.

Tony is trying to do anything that he can to save the pub, that is his main focus. The women seem to never stick around in his world. The pub has become the other woman.

Mel is prepared to do battle with Tony.

Promises are made, but they are heavily weighted one way. With the imminent arrival of her mother who is seeking for the right one, Mel needs a fiance and needs one quick.

A deal is struck, but will emotions and feelings remain out of it?

I enjoyed this novel, it was a very light read. However, I did skim read some of it because it had a predictability about it, not much was gripping me. I think what was missing from this novel was the secondary stories from some of the other characters. It’s total focus was Mel and Tony and I felt that they would have been given more depth if we had some sort of interaction with other characters and their lives. Even Mel’s mother is not very two-dimensional.

A light read for when you need something to enjoy but perhaps not get swept up in.

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

The Cosy Coffee Shop of Promises is out now on kindle. 

Books

February Roundup

It being a short month, February I have been reading shorter stories. Mainly because they have been available for me to read through netgalley and I have to confess to being rather requesting happy and now I need do some serious reading in the coming months.

I caught up with Shelia Norton – The Vets at Hope Green: Follow Your Heart which was part two of this serialised novel. Because I have started the novel this way, I will finish it this way.

Same applies to Bella Osborne – A Spring Affair: Willow Cottage this was the third part, so there is only one more to go before I have finished this story.

Obviously I prefer reading full novels and when I was given the opportunity to read Trisha Ashley – The Little Teashop of Lost and Found. I think it is the longest novel by far that she has written and it is definitely one of my favourite of the year and one of my favourite’s of hers. This is a book which you can disappear into and not come out of for ages!

Another of my favourite books so far this year is Jennifer Ryan – The Chilbury Ladies Choir, beautifully told through letters, notices and diary entries about the Second World War. This is an excellent debut novel and I thoroughly recommend it.

Of course when you choose books from netgalley, you are not always sure what you are getting and whether it will be a good book or not. I thought T.P. Fielden – The Riviera Express was going to be in the vain of a golden-age murder mystery story. But it did not work for me at all, I think it was the prose that jarred when reading it. Shame and the reason I finished it was I had to know who the perpetrator was.

Kellie Hailes – The Cosy Coffee Shop of Promises was a passable diversion but not a very strong example of women’s fiction. Predictable but the characters were not very well-formed and I could not connect with them. There are better novels out there.

An example of a better novel is Sarah Bennett – The Sunrise at Butterfly Cove. I was hooked immediately, I cared about the characters, I shed tears and wished for a happy ending. And it is great that I can go back to these characters and the setting as this is the first in a trilogy. Whilst it was a relatively short read, there is much packed into the pages it felt much longer.

I end the month with two books on the go, catching up with another one from netgalley as well as continuing the wonderful stories of Sidney Chambers.