Books

Four Weddings and a Festival – Annie Robertson

If you immediately misread this title as Four Weddings and a Funeral then you are going to enjoy the book immensely. In fact if you are a Richard Curtis fan and have enjoyed Four Weddings, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones then this is definitely the book for you. It is littered with references which whilst I got some only a true fan would have got them all.

Friends; Bea, Kat, Lizzie and Hannah joked for many years about all getting married in the same summer and when one engagement leads to another, it looks like this might well be the case.

However, Bea starts to have doubts. She turns down her engagement because she does not think that Simon is the man for her. She thinks she might have found that makes her go weak at the knees when he takes her photo at the first wedding of the season, but it seems he has a promise to fulfil.

Lizzie the first to get married, in the fields with a very countryside themed wedding is marrying the man she is clearly in love with, doting and besotted with. Except that he is about to go back on tour and that will mean leaving her behind.

Hannah is beyond excited about being a wife but has failed to point out to her grandparents who are paying for the wedding, that Remy her partner is in fact female. They might notice at some point all her friends keep telling her.

Kat is practical and certainly doesn’t want any of the fuss and trimmings of other weddings. But does that mean she is not committed? And is Henry feeling the same?

But when events at a festival take life on a different turn and a wedding you never saw coming happens then will these four women find their happy ever after just like in the Richard Curtis film.

This is a lighthearted book very much in line with the films that it liberally refers to throughout, great as a beach read but not if you want something with a bit more depth which I generally do.

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

Four Weddings and a Festival is out now. 

 

 

 

Books

The Secret Cove in Croatia – Julie Caplin

Books can take you on holidays and experiences vicariously and whilst there are some books I read I have no want or desire to become involved – reassuringly for my readers anything to do with murders is at the top of this list! However ones that require no passport or vaccinations then I am there being transported to blue seas, warm sun and the sense of pure relaxation. Utter bliss.

In this the fifth of the Romantic Escapes series by Julie Caplin, I am transported by yacht to Croatia.

Maddie is offered a job as chief cook and bottlewasher onboard a luxury yacht for the summer. One of the yachts that are chartered with those who have so much money they have no sense as to what to do with it.

Despite the hard work, Maddie thinks it might give her time to make sense of what she wants to do with her life.

Nick is a sheep farmer and when a chance encounter with supermodel Tara, sees him forming a relationship with her. What better place to consolidate that than on holiday. Lazing onboard a luxurious yacht seems the perfect place for a supermodel and her eye candy boyfriend.

That is until he meets Maddie, down to earth, comfortable in her skin and also friends with Nick’s sister as well!

Add into the mix another supermodel, a stylist, people famous for being rich and arrogant and you get some rather over inflated egos and precious personalities which in interaction with the down to earth Maddie and to some extent Nick made for humorous reading.

Of course there are some underlying issues when you lead such a high profile life in public when every action has to have a reaction on social media and perhaps some of them were glossed over and not given any closure.

But the real plot was the sparks that fly between Nick and Maddie and when the boat is moored in the secret cove it seems that perhaps, the sheep farmer and the deck hand have more in common than they think. That is until the boat starts to move again.

Croatia and the harbours and towns that they stopped at are painted in something more than a holiday brochure but were brought to life. I am not sure about the yacht as I am not sure my sea legs would survive, however it is always great to see how the ‘other half live’.

A perfect read for a perfect holiday escape. I wonder where Julie Caplin is going to take me next?

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

The Secret Cove in Croatia is out today. 

 

Books

A Postcard from Italy – Alex Brown

Grace loves her job at the storage company, even more so when she discovers long lost treasures and items of interest.

When opening one unit, belonging to a Connie Levine. Grace discovers a whole life inside and one with a very interesting story. Grace is determined to discover the truth and reunite these items with their rightful owner.

To do this though, Grace is going to have to step right out of her comfort zone and embark on a journey leaving behind all that she knows and is familiar.

One person not happy about this is, Grace’s mother Cora who has come to rely on her daughter to do everything for her as she is now unable to do anything for herself and is housebound. Encouraged by her work colleagues and friends, Grace makes the decision to go to Italy on this journey and leave her mother behind with some interesting consequences.

As we are transported to Italy with Grace she starts to embrace what might have been Connie’s life and what brought to her Italy, what happened to her during the war and why she has left in storage,  expensive paintings and items of jewellery.

This is a different novel from Alex Brown, if you have read any previously. There is a dual time aspect to it and whilst it is not defined through separate chapters like some books using the same narrative but from the items that are found, jewellery, paintings of the Italian powder pink villa and the letters and diaries that were kept. It is through these that you get a sense of a story, a sense of a person and whilst for some it may not have worked, it has here for this author.

If anything this book combined my love of fiction and history nicely into one and all of the characters brought something to the book whether they were from the past or the present. I was that irritated with Grace’s mother, Cora from the outset, I would have quite happily put a pillow over her head if it meant Grace could escape. I was in team Grace all the way even when she was in Italy, kindly finding out about someone else’s life and without realising it making a new life of her own.

This is a great holiday read and if you are new to the author this would be a great place to start. Avid fans will simply just lap it up and hope for more soon.

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

A Postcard from Italy is out now.

Books

Expectation – Anna Hope

In what I feel is a enormous change of direction from this author, my expectation was that this book was not going to work. Her previous two novels very much set in the historical fiction genre – this one, modern fiction. Was it going to work?

My fear was it was not –  they were unfounded and I found this a very interesting and engaging novel and at times quite uncomfortable reading.

Hannah, Cate and Lissa are friends, we see the story weave between present day and their lives now and the past where you begin to understand the past behind the present.

Brought together through different means but living a world where you have little or no responsibility, to be able to fight a cause with passion and to live the world you want to live.

Then life changes, the friendships between them change as they all deal with what is in front of them.

Hannah – married, desperate for a baby and despondent by the fact that nothing has worked. The strain is starting to show in her marriage, especially when her friend Cate has a baby.

Cate is struggling with being a mother, stuck in Kent away from her friends and dealing with a child that she thinks she can never protect enough.

Lissa, a failed actress still trying to make it in a world where she still seeks approval from her mother who clearly made the wrong sort of impact on Lissa as a child. Still single, she envies those in stable relationships.

None of these women’s expectations for being an adult resemble everything they talked and dreamed about.

Can their friendship survive such changes both small and large and can your expectations ever really be met.

I was captivated by this book as I could not see where it was going and what it was trying to do or achieve but I felt this was the intent of the author. No one can see where we are all going or where we might end up as expectations change as the world and people change around us.

A novel to read that brings great discussion about the friendships and dynamics of such in your own lives. When you have finished the book, give yourself time to digest and reflect you may well start to look at things differently and expect something else.

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

Expectation is published on 11 July 2019.

If you are intrigued by Anna Hope’s previous novels then do check them out.

Wake 

Wake is a word that conjures up different meanings and images.

The wake held after the funeral of a loved one.

Wake when you emerge from sleep

In the wake of what has happened.

In fact in Anna Hope’s debut novel, all three of these meanings have been woven into a moving  story which will stay with you long after you have finished it. In fact the tomb of the unknown soldier and the cenotaph are there as permanent reminders.

The Ballroom

John comes from Ireland. He had a past which he has lost and he has ended up far from home.

Ella had thrown something through a window. Her actions mean she has ended up away from home.

Charles wanted to prove himself, wants to make an improvement in people’s lives through music.

All three are captured in the heat wave of 1911.

They are in an asylum on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors.

Their paths cross in different ways.

John is a threat to Charles.

Charles thinks that Ella can eventually leave

John and Ella normally segregated are brought together in the Ballroom.

Books

Foxglove Farm – Christie Barlow

Six months ago, I discovered Love Heart Lane in the village of Heartcross, a lovely Scottish village which had been at the centre of Christie Barlow’s first novel in what is turning out to be a series. Back with familiar faces and the spectacular scenery of the highlands meant I knew was going to be in for a treat.

I first got to know Isla in the last book and we were all there when cut off from the mainland due to the weather, Isla gives birth with her husband by her side.

However it has not been plain sailing, for Isla since we last met. She feels lonely, her husband Drew is working all the hours on their farm and he seems to be sniping at every opportunity. The strong bond they had seems to be weakening and Isla cannot understand why and Drew will not talk to her.

When the unpredictable weather strikes again at Foxglove Farm all of Isla and Drew’s problems are suddenly in the foremost of the whole communities mind. Like every good community they all pull together and help, with the milking, the lambing and bringing the dreams of Isla to fruition as well as getting Drew, literally back on his feet.

Throw into the mix some alpacas, handsome strangers, criminals and a few old campervans and all of a sudden you have a story that you have to stay with come what may. There are some funny moments that made me chuckle and some beautiful heart rendering ones which made my heart break and sing in equal measure.

Such is the quality of the plotting and the writing that you can be swept away to this little village in the highlands and know that you could fit right in.

Not afraid to tackle some real issues and also to move away from a new romance, a common feature in women’s fiction, the author focuses very much on the romance that is in all good relationships and this book is for anyone who wants to perhaps some more substantial than light and fluffy.

I am excited to learn that there will be another trip back to Heartcross but I am also jealous of anyone who has yet to read this book and the first, you have such a treat awaiting you.

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

Foxglove Farm is out now. 

Find out where it all started at Love Heart Lane. 

 

Books

A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle – Liz Eeles

I am back in the Cosy Kettle for another cup of tea and a piece of cake and to catch up with the villagers of Honeyford.

In this second in the series, the main storyline features Flora, the owner of the Cosy Kettle and Bookshop in Honeyford who we met in the first book and was a characters who I thought was very reserved and quiet but I wasn’t sure why.

Now having met more of her husband, Malcolm and realised what you thought about him in book one is true and when Flora discovers his infidelity she suddenly realises that perhaps something is missing in her life. She has always been under someone else’s shadow and it is time for her to step into the light.

As she does, Flora becomes even more involved in village life, but after years of knowns the unknown seems very frightening and it be easier if she slipped back into her old life.

However, Honeyford, the book ship and the cosy kettle have other ideas for Flora.

Taken in by Luna, who runs the mystical shop, Flora embraces a different way of living and also has to share the house with Luna’s widowed son Daniel and his son, Caleb.

Getting involved in summer celebrations, Flora throws herself into hosting a famous author, a baking competition as well as trying to make a decisions about her husband means that Flora has a lot goign on.

But when she returns to Luna’s home, she can see the simplicity of nature and that all around her and she perhaps needs to make a change in her life to be able to move on.

Is Flora going to make the right change?

Another satisfying read and with the right amount of well developed secondary characters, Becca the manager of the Cosy Kettle, Knackered Mary, unlikely friends Millicent and Marigold, Callie (prominent in the first book), her eccentric grandfather Stanley still making his hilarious mark as well as some sumptuous descriptions of cakes and you have all you could want from a book.

Great for a light summer read!

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

A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle is published on 1 July. 

Books

The House on the Loch – Kirsty Wark

This is the first book I have read of Kirsty’s I was intrigued by what a well known journalist and broadcaster would make of being an author. I was not disappointed and it was not a story I was expecting.

This is the story of a family, a family from the past and the present and also how they are going to evolve into the future.

Walter MacMillian, falls madly in love with Jean and they marry, Patrick and Fiona are their children. Whilst there is no specific time period given you get the sense of it being the Fifties, references are made to the war and Walter witness a well known event when he was a small boy.

Living in the house by the loch is everything that Walter wants and Jean thinks it is what she needs to stabilise her own life. However, the demons are not far away and Walter begins to worry about her and the children. Has he done the right thing by bringing her to the house.

Years later, Jean is dead and Walter still lives near the house and has left a piece of land to each of his children where lodges have been built for them. Now his children, Patrick and Fiona bring their respective children, Carson, Iona and Pete to the same place they grew up as children.

The loch seems to be a draw for them all until one fateful weekend when tragedy strikes.

Told through flashbacks, which fit seamlessly into the present story of the novel, you start to unpick the real truth about this family and the events that have happened.

I was intrigued by this novel which kept me reading, it some ways slow paced as I had no idea where the story was going or if it was ever going to get there (it did). One of the major catalysts in the story was in the middle of the novel and was so heart wrenching I cried. If that was what we were building to what on earth was the rest of the book going to be like. Therefore I had to keep reading to unpick the tale and bring it all back together in some ways just like the family were doing.

A seriously addictive novel and well written which took me straight to the Scottish Highlands and into the middle of a family in crisis. Better than a soap opera any day!

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

The House on the Loch is out now.