Books

The Cornish Cream Tea Summer – Cressida McLaughlin

I wanted a second book, a sequel, a follow on to the Cornish Cream Tea Bus and I have got it in abundance with story.

Charlie now settled into her way of life in Cornwall serving the best cream teas in the area and with the added bonus of being able to also provide tours of the local area as you drink in not just the views but the tea as well.

Of course nothing runs smoothly and when Charlie’s cousin, Delilah descends on to Porthoglow and straight into life with Charlie and life on the bus it seems that the perfect existence might be a but unsettled for a while.

Delilah is running from something, but it seems to follow her all the time. Delilah likes to become all consuming involved in things and when she signs up the Cornish Cream Tea Bus to be part of on site catering for a new period drama then there is bound to be a few issues. Especially when she doesn’t check with Charlie first!

But Charlie gives her a chance and along with her rather interesting coffee concoctions, she feels safe to leave Delilah alone on the bus whilst she goes away.

Surely nothing can go wrong?

In the midst of he glitz and the glamour of working on a tv set, it seems Delilah has had her head turned and she may have inadvertently found her niche in life where she was least expecting it.

What she also didn’t expect to find was love?

These things don’t happen to Delilah it will all end in disaster, so Delilah needs to react quickly. Are her actions the right ones and can she really find the thing she has been hiding from all these years?

This is another mouth watering tale from Cressida who writes such honest and warm books filled with delightful characters and delicious food. There has to be more to tell from this bus and the lovely characters created in this and the first novel and I am thrilled that there is to be a sequel.

 

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

The Cornish Cream Tea Summer is out now. 

 

Books

Finding Love at the Christmas Market – Jo Thomas

Connie caters for the local care home and she has made friends with this eclectic mix of elderly men and women. So much so that they are just invested in Connie’s happiness as they are in their own. Connie is trying to find love and after some rather disastrous mistakes it seems she has forged a burgeoning friendship with Hendrich online and now it is time to meet.

Thanks to Pearl, one of the care home residents it looks like Connie is about to do that and she can see if he ticks all the boxes.

However Connie did not expect to be bringing Pearl and the other residents on a trip to Germany to a Christmas market along with her on her first date. It all seems to be going well until Connie finds herself stuck between two different versions of Christmas, of two Christmas markets, Christmas memories and also Christmas romance.

Is having a list the right way to start a relationship?

As we see Connie and Hendrich on various dates, we also see how Pearl and the gang start embarking on all the things they miss and love about Christmas. It seems that one Christmas market has the answer when the other perhaps doesn’t have what everyone is looking for.

I immediately warmed to Connie and her care home residents. It was as if she was giving them an adventure all of their own whilst the one she was planning was not going the way she wanted it to. Hendrich was not the man that I was expecting and was willing Connie to see what I could as the pages went by.

Was I going to get a happy ending?

Ha! That would be telling and why would I want to ruin your own trip to the Christmas Market. If you go, make sure you choose the right one!

I am relatively new to Jo Thomas novels and if this is the quality of the writing and the development of the characters then I am going to spend many a happy day going back and reading all her earlier work.

 

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

Finding Love at the Christmas Market is out now. 

 

Books

Away with the Penguins – Hazel Prior

At 85 Veronica McCreedy thinks her life is almost done. Perhaps it was not the one she ever imagined but there you are. That is until she sees a documentary on Adelie penguins and decides that is what she wants to do, see these penguins for real and to make a lasting impact on the world. If helping other poor creatures than so be it.

What she doesn’t know that is perhaps Veronica is helping more than the penguins. Her very isolated life is kept busy with litter picking, telling Eileen her carer come companion of sorts to shut doors, the crossword in the Telegraph and wildlife documentaries.

The image that is painted of Veronica to begin with is a women who may well be determined, dogged in her ways but one whose mind is perhaps starting to fail her. The loss of the glasses, the mirrors needing to be removed (and then rehung) is written so beautifully that you cannot really believe the author then transports this woman to Antarctica.

Because that is where Veronica ends up, on the South Shetland Islands, accessible via a ship that docks every three weeks at a project for Adelie Penguins where three researchers have the basic facilities, food and tolerance for each other. They do not want anyone else and certainly someone who could perhaps end their days thousand of miles from anywhere.

Veronica makes an impact not just on the other researchers but also she starts to see some parallels in the life she has led with this penguins that she has grown fond of.

Miles away in Bolton, is Patrick. Initially thought of as a waste of space, a drain on the benefit system not stuck to anything, of little purpose now that his girlfriend has dumped him, who whiles away his days growing weed and trying to survive. But Veronica McCreedy enters his life too.

After a false start, Patrick becomes fascinated with Veronica and diaries reveal what happened to her in her past. When an email from one of the researchers startles Patrick into some action, he finds himself in this remote place with an old woman he barely knows, hand raising a baby chick penguin.

Can everyone reconcile themselves to their actions of the past and the events that may have shaped them and can this now move everything forward to a better future.

This book takes your breath away, the cold of the Antarctic so richly described you can almost feel it biting your nose as you watch Veronica amongst these penguins, learning about life and survival. This is a quiet book, the noise is absorbed in the snow that surrounds them all.

I came away from the story where I felt I knew Veronica’s life fully, there were no more secrets to be discovered and that she recognised that what happened to her was continuing to happen not just to Patrick but also these delightful penguins she fell in love with.

I don’t know what I was expecting from this book, the story that is contained delighted, humoured and humbled me in equal measure and was a great surprise and truly original.

 

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

Away with the Penguins is out now and was featured on Jo Whiley’s Radio 2 Show in the Book Club slot as well as Richard and Judy’s choice for this winter. 

 

 

Books

The Windsor Knot – S.J. Bennett

There is only one Queen of Crime (Agatha Christie if you don’t know) but what if the Queen was involved in solving crime. Well she needs to fill her days somehow between all the papers, visits and family battles surely?

After a small gathering of a select few people, a Russian pianist is found dead in his room in rather strange circumstances.

As the police, secret services and other government departments descend at Windsor Castle what originally looked like suicide is in fact murder and it needs to be kept to minimum information not just for the public but also for the Queen. She does not need to be bothered with such things.

But when her servants seem to be targeted as preparators because of their backgrounds or interests, the Queen is bothered and the so called Russian interference seems to be the obvious conclusion.

Helping the Queen is her new Assistant Private Secretary, a young dynamic former solider called Rozie, who has some very useful skills and had no idea about the Queen’s other interests until she realises why her predecessor left her certain instructions.

However, Elizabeth is a lot more canny than her faithful servants realise and when she can see that the police are heading in the wrong direction, she does in her inimitable way direct them back. Of course she makes it look like it was all their own idea!

This really is an exuberant take on the cosy mystery genre and has some good research done on it, to understand the workings of the the Royal Family and also the descriptions of Windsor Castle. There are some humorous moments and it had me laughing out loud and what seems like the absurdity of it all but then do we really know what goes on behind palace walls?

Perfect for fans of crime, the Royals it is all just terribly British and l loved it!

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

The Windsor Knot is out now. 

Books

October Roundup

October ends and another lockdown looms within a couple of days. October normally seems a long month but it seems to have flown by with a plethora of books. Let’s just take some time away from the global pandemic.

Of course Christmas books still feature and even better when they feature a beloved series which I absolutely adore Nancy Revell – A Christmas Wish for the Shipyard Girls. The saga continues with all my favourite characters and because it is Christmas it always adds a lovely dimension despite it being in the middle of the war.

I know many people opt for Christmas weddings (I think I would too – though someone would need to ask me first!). Phillipa Ashley – A Surprise Christmas Wedding takes us to the Lake District instead of her normally stomping ground of Cornwall to plan the wedding of the year. I thoroughly enjoyed being transported to the Lake District and would love to be able to spend time there, I hope Phillipa takes us back there one day.

Katie Ginger – Winter Wishes at Swallowtail Bay also features a wedding and it is the wedding that is going to save the hotel in Swallowtail Bay where the trilogy comes to it’s conclusion. Again, I was swept away into the magic of Christmas and romance and how that perhaps we need to keep true to all of our wishes whatever they may be.

Wanting to put my feet up from all those weddings what better way to escape that to a lovely Christmas market and experience the smells, the tastes, the scenes in Jo Thomas – Finding Love at the Christmas Market. I am relatively new to Jo Thomas books, though I have seen them on shelves before now and this is only the second I have read, but this was just as joyous and took me on a trip abroad with a band of merry makers of a certain vintage. What a wonderful piece of escapism when we are all limited in where we can go at the moment.

Some people don’t like moving far from what they know and I was wonderfully surprised to be going back to a place I know; Hope Farm with Carole Matthews – Christmas for Beginners. This is a place for all things broken both animal and child and even adults to be put back together and be able to show the world the sort of person that they are. It is a place that I hope Carole Matthews returns to again.

Many a Christmas card has a penguin or two adoring the front but what if you got the chance to see the real things in their natural habitat. Well the next best thing is reading Hazel Prior – Away with the Penguins which is going to be ‘one of those’ books. Very much in the vein of Harold Fry and it is a book which is gentle despite the harsh landscape of the Antarctic, it was like an Attenborough documentary with a story. Beautiful and quiet.

I don’t think a month has gone by without some sort of murder happening on this blog, book wise of course. I wanted to get ahead of the game for when the Kenneth Branagh version of the film come out and tick another one off the list so it was Agatha Christie – Death on the Nile that I picked it up. I knew what happened I have seen the film and Suchet version often enough but you can’t help marvel at the original work and the little grey cells of Poirot and when you know, you can see all those little clues and red herrings.

Christie is without a doubt the Queen of Crime but it seems she may have a rival on her hands and this time it is the Queen herself. S.J. Bennett – The Windsor Knot is a new murder mystery series which features yes The Queen, Elizabeth II as the solver of crimes, ably assisted by her private secretaries who all have secret about the real goings on behind those palace doors. And when a body is found in Windsor Castle it seems the Queen’s nose for finding out the truth twitches once more.

Like reading too many Christmas books that could merge into one, you can end up doing the same with cosy mystery series where they are set in certain eras and with the same protagonists. At the moment I have opted for Helena Dixon – Murder on the Dance Floor which takes me to inter war years, in a hotel with the delightful Kitty Underhay who manages to be in the wrong place at the wrong time but also has some personal mysteries of her own to solve.

Trying to solve mysteries would sum up the whole of Philip Pullman – The Subtle Knife. Again in the interest of completeness I wanted to read the book before the new series started on the television. Fantasy, Science Fiction or however you might categorise this book is not normally my choice of book, but these are so well written that I am rather intrigued by it all and now I have read this, I need to progress to the third in the Dark Materials trilogy.

It has been a while since I abandoned a book, but I did this month. What bothered me more was that it was from an author I have read before and this time it really was not working for me. It all seemed robotic and as if a machine had churned out the story with no real depth of feeling to the characters or even the setting. That is to say the book just did not work for me – it has worked for others. It was immediately obvious when I chose another book and started to fly through that and knew the writing was exactly what I was looking for and that is the book I carry on reading into November.

Happy Reading for November in whatever restrictions you find yourselves under.

Books

Christmas for Beginners – Carole Matthews

We first met Molly in Happiness for Beginners and her wonderful eclectic mix of animals and children on Hope Farm.

The farm having had to be moved has reinvented itself with more vim and vigour than before and with a new more spacious caravan with indoor facilities, Molly is starting to feel more at home here than ever before. Even Shelby Dacre, well known actor’s son Lucas seems to be thriving in such a place. It is a shame that the relationship between Shelby and Molly is not thriving.

Knowing that Molly is somewhat reliant on the funds provided by her boyfriend, she does not want to become beholden to Shelby and wants to look at a way of raising funds, to keep the farm the special place it has become for all waifs and strays be it animal or human.

An Open Day in the run up to Christmas with a full nativity seems to be the way to go, along with stalls, Christmas delights and of course a rather camp sequinned Santa. Molly cannot think of anything worse than having to interact with all of these other people, she is most happy interacting with the animals or challenged children. But she knows that she needs to face some of her own challenges if she is going to make a success of the day, the farm and hopefully her relationship with Shelby.

However, Shelby is facing his own challenges and it sees his career take a different path and if Molly wants to continue with her relationship some changes will need to be made. And what of Lucas in all of this, surely his feelings need to be considered?

As Christmas approaches and the thought of a lovely family time seems to be disappearing across the horizon, Molly has enough to deal with, teenage angst, domestic abuse, sickness, some misbehaved alpacas, an anti social sheep and a couple of turkeys. It seems that perhaps the hope at the farm and for Molly is no longer there.

Only some Christmas magic is going to help.

This is a wonderful follow up to Happiness for Beginners and I felt I was transported back to the farm and simply picked up where I left of as if I was part of the family. This is the beauty of Carole Matthew’s books, I was swept away with some real difficult issues but with an abundance of love and interesting characters I was going to have a magnificent second visit. Carole please can I come and visit Molly and Hope Farm again?

Perfect for anyone who wants a real lift in this difficult times and if you can pick up Happiness for Beginners first you are going to have the best time at Hope Farm and I am jealous that you get to discover it all for the first time.

 

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

Christmas for Beginners is out now. 

 

 

 

 

Books

Murder on the Dancefloor – Helena Dixon

It seems that even if Kitty Underhay tries to live a normal life, murder seems to follow her around. In this her fourth outing, murder is found at the dinner table at the Imperial Hotel. Kitty and her close friend Captain Matt Bryant are also at the table.

The victim it seems has ingested potassium cyanide and is a pompous unpopular local councillor Harold Everton.

He previously has spoked to Matt and asked him if he could help with something in his capacity as a private investigator.

Also at the table is the councillor’s downtrodden wife, his equally downtrodden daughter, a nephew who seems to have money, a married solicitor who was always advising Everton as well as a brother and sister hotel owners who seem to want answers from Everton as to why planning applications were not being approved.

It is a lot for the police to check through and Kitty and Matt soon find themselves embroiled in the affair and when an accident turns out to be murder it seems that perhaps those who know too much might be the next victim.

Are Kitty or Matt in danger?

This is an equally interesting read to the previous books in the series. It can be read as a standalone and is a good introduction to the series, you meet all the main characters. Kitty’s grandmother, Mrs Treadwell, her bumptious and annoying friend Mrs Craven who makes me smile every time she appears on a page. Then there is Alice, an employee of the hotel but also when needs must she comes to Miss Kitty’s aid as a confidante, friend and ladies maid when the role suits.

What perhaps you don’t get a sense of is the back story which runs through this story and we start to get some answers about Matt’s past and his experiences of war. Plus the disappearance of Kitty’s mother is also investigated more and it seems more questions are raised than answers given. It is therefore reassuring to know that there will be more Miss Underhay.

Great for fans of historical mysteries, with plenty of diversions and twist with a bit of threat involved, these really are gentle reads but show the spark that Kitty has and how perceptions are changing about women in more dominant roles. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

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

Murder on the Dancefloor is published on 28 October. 

 

 

Books

Winter Wishes At Swallowtail Bay – Katie Ginger

In conclusion to this trilogy we are approaching the most wonderful time of the year and what better way to spend it than at a wedding!

Nell runs Holly Lodge a small boutique hotel in Swallowtail Bay, but business is not great and when an incident at a competitor’s hotel starts to cause trouble for Nell, it seems she is going to have to try some different events to get business moving again.

One thing she has decided on is that hosting her friend Cat and fiancée Kieran’s wedding at the hotel is going to be the best event ever. Nell is a romantic and lives in her imagination with the help of all those wonderful romcom movies out there to pass the time. She wants to give Cat the best wedding that she can, the wedding that she wants but it seems that Cat’s mother wants to give Cat the wedding that she should have. Will Nell be able to steer the wedding to a happy ever after.

As well as dealing with difficulty mothers and fraught brides, Nell decides to host a wedding fair, a wreath making event for the local elderly residents and also holds the school’s carol concert. She relies on the help of her old university friend, Tom. There friendship is strong and tight, but it seems that Tom is hiding some life changing secrets of his own and cannot begin to share them with the one person he truly loves.

Whilst this might appear a light fluffy read full of weddings and Christmas cheer it brings a real sense of friendship, community and sticking with the ones you love.  Overcoming obstacles, is the key theme throughout the book and there are many to overcome, tyrannical mothers, loss of control, stray cats, disability, trolling on the internet, there is a lot that touches not just Nell but all the main characters in the book.

But for Nell will she every have that happy ever after she wants when she realises life is not a film?

A great read full of fun and frivolity and plenty of humour and heart warming moments. And let’s be honest – you can’t beat a winter wedding!

Bring your tinsel and tissues to this book and sit back and enjoy.

 

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

Winter Wishes at Swallowtail Bay is out now. 

All of the Swallowtail books can be read independently of each other, there are familiar characters but they only play background roles until it is time for them to shine in their own stories. 

Books

A Surprise Christmas Wedding – Phillipa Ashley

Lottie thought all her dreams had come true, when on a beach in Cornwall her boyfriend Connor, gets down on one knee and proposes it seems the happy ending she has always wanted. And that is only the start of the book…..

Suddenly miles away in the Lake District, Lottie is on her own and having started a new job at Firholme,  a beautiful estate in the Lake District and in the run up to Christmas she thinks she has finally found somewhere to settle.

With it’s own cottage and hunky but slightly grumpy, Jay her new neighbour and new colleague as at the estate, this Christmas might be slightly better than the last.

When the chance to organise a wedding before Christmas to put Firholme on the map seems too good an opportunity to miss, it is all hands the estate to provide the happy couple the wedding of their dreams,

That is until Lottie finds out that one half of the happy couple is in fact Connor, the man that twelve months previous had proposed to her.

Can she remain professional and organise the wedding or will she always be distracted by what might have been?

It is not just Lottie who needs to move on, Jay also needs to come to terms with the past and stop hiding amongst the Christmas trees on the estate with his dog Trevor.

Will these two lost souls find solace in each other’s company or are their pasts destined to always influence the future.

In a move from her normal setting Phillipa Ashley has taken us to the Lake District (more please say I) and added into the mix, a big dollop of snow, nativities, excited children, plenty of sweets and some moments just to keep us all grounded and remind us of what other’s might be suffering despite what we think of as our own plight.

If you want a well rounded Christmas story with characters to love and hate and laugh and cry with then this book is for.

Feel good festive and a good example of Phillipa’s work.

 

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

A Surprise Christmas Wedding is out now. 

Books

A Christmas Wish for the Shipyard Girls – Nancy Revell

I cannot believe we have reached book nine and it is coming up to 1943 for the Shipyard Girls that I have grown to love over the previous books. History tells us that the Second World War is taking a new path and I know as I read there is some momentous changes abound. It worries me that we could be near the end of this wonderful series.

But as ever I am taken into the lives of Rosie, head welder of her close knit team of women whose wish is to know that her husband Peter is alive and well. She also wishes Charlotte her younger sister would develop some interest in someone other than Lily.

Gloria and her young daughter Hope, wishes that her she could be reunited with the man she loves and that her daughter will actually see her father.

Dorothy and Angie, best friends in and out of work, wish that falling in love would be easy and that there should be no barrier to it.

Polly wishes for the safe arrival of her baby and that her husband, that she hasn’t seen since last Christmas gets to meet the most important person in their lives besides each other.

Bel wishes for what others have, Gloria and Polly especially, but something is preventing it all happening and it seems that she needs to close many door from her past before she can perhaps move forward with being a mother.

Helen, wishes that her mother and grandfather’s influence has not got so deep seated within her and that she would never be good enough for Dr Parker, their friendship it seems is all that there will be.

Pearl has no wish to relive the past but stumbling across it, she realises that she might be able to make her daughter Bel’s wish come true – to close the door on the past.

Along with other regular faces, this is a book packed with raw emotion. I was so incensed by the behaviour of Miriam, Helen’s mother that I had to put the book down. That said when the dénouement to a plot line that has been in development for many books comes to a head, I was almost out of my chair cheering on the main characters. The rollercoaster of emotions that Nancy Revell portrays in this book means it should come with a health warning.

At the heart and the core of all of the books, is the strength that these women have in taking on work, specifically and historically been the preserve of men, dealing with birth, death and everything in between. Love, laughter, tears and friendship everything you could want from this book and even your own life!

This series of books has not lost momentum and I am thrilled that they simply seem to get better and better. Perfect example of a well written historical saga for everyone to enjoy.

 

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

A Christmas Wish for the Shipyard Girls is out now.  

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 
  9. A Christmas Wish for the Shipyard Girls