Books

November Roundup

November by tradition is always a quiet month for reading, this year even more so as it was a ‘zero’ birthday for me and much was taken up with celebrating. I am still eating the birthday cake.. don’t worry it is fruit, well made so, well-preserved.

It has very much been a Christmas month for me and catching up with people who I have come across in this years reading.

I only recently read The Canal Boat Cafe so I was delighted to see that there was more to follow with Cressida McLaughlin – The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas: Port Out where they reach Little Venice in London for some Christmas themed cakes and some ghost of Christmas past! And if you go Port Out you always go Starboard Home and that is lined up ready for reading in December.

I was lucky enough to complete the trilogy of Butterfly Cove and got to spend and early Christmas with the lovely Mia, Kiki and Nee in Sarah Bennett – Christmas at Butterfly Cove. It is always a sign of good writing and good stories that makes me sad to leave a place and that is certainly the case with this particular book.

I have mainly been disappointed by some of Tilly Tennant novels , they seem to not grab me as much as some other authors do but prepared to have my mind changed I embarked on Tilly Tennant – A Very Vintage Christmas. Sadly it was a book which could have been so much more, I do have the second in this Christmas selection she has written but I approach it with some trepidation.

Cornwall has featured heavily in many setting and plot in books I have read over the last couple of years and was probably one of the reasons I picked up Liz Eeles book back in May. I venture back for a colder and probably wetter Christmas in Liz Eeles – Annie’s Christmas by the Sea which was a lovely tale.

With all this jollity and festiveness what about a little bit of murder. This is the first in a series of novels, featuring each of the Mitford Sisters in turn. Jessica Fellowes – The Mitford Murders starts with the eldest Nancy who becomes embroiled in a murder on a train. What makes it even more intriguing is that some of the book is actually based on real life events. But I am not going to tell you which – you can read the book and find out for yourself.

So that was November, and to add a bit less Christmas and a bit more excitement I finished it reading Paula Hawkins second novel Into the Water – more of that in December.

 

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Books

Christmas at Butterfly Cove – Sarah Bennett

This is the concluding book in the Butterfly Cove trilogy and is a lovely book to curl up at Christmas with and go back and visit some characters that I cared about and perhaps secretly fallen in love with too.

This book focuses on Nee, the younger sister of Mia and Kiki who feature as main characters in the first two books respectively.

Nee is an artist, but her art has left her. She will not tell anyone what has happened to her but she arrives at Butterfly Cove to heal wounds at the end of the last book but it turns out that perhaps she is simply reopening some. Especially when she comes face to face with her husband.

Nee was married and then she left him. No one knew about the marriage. No one knew why she left. But it turns out Luke her husband happens to be the brother of the man who Kiki has fallen in love with.

Nee has never looked back but Luke has only done that as he is still in love with Nee despite what has happened.

Can it be healed? Or is this one wound which will never go away?

Nee is trying to avoid life and when their father needs one of them to help, the sisters let Nee go and tend to him and their mother. Luke is not far behind and so is Christmas.

Gathered at Butterfly Cove for the festive period, Luke convinces Nee that this is the best place to be to heal. And he can be the balm that can soothe her. His patience, his dedication and his help made me fall in love with Luke. How I wanted him to be looking me.

But will Nee open up about what has happened in the past and can Luke really let go if he is not what Nee wants? Christmas has a funny way of making some things happen and it cannot all be magic surely?

Like the previous two novels, this is a great story that draws you right in to the characters, plenty of mention of Mia and Kiki as you see how their lives are progressing since we last saw them. The secondary characters have stories to tell and they all play a part in making this a Christmas to remember. Even the tables laden with food makes you believe that you are really there at Butterfly Cove taking part in the festivities yourself.

This is a lovely book and a great conclusion to the trilogy. I am sad to leave them behind, but I think I know that everything will be okay for them, ups and downs no doubt, but Butterfly Cove will be a happy, loving place for anyone whoever visits in the future.

I heartily recommend this book and the previous two. In fact just indulge in all three and you will forget everything that is bad in the world and rejoice in what can only be good.

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

Christmas at Butterfly Cove is out now.

 

 

 

Books

Christmas at the Gin Shack – Catherine Miller

If you have run out of gin, now is the time to stock up in time for Christmas. Nothing better than settling down to a great read and a great tipple.

But have you ever thought of having a festive G&T ?

Olive has.

Still residing at Oakley West retirement home but living life to the full, she is still very much part of the Gin Shack which was created out of her own simple idea and is featured in the first novel, The Gin Shack on the Beach.

Creating a Gin themed weekend and a G&T competition is enough to keep Olive, her son Richard, the managers, Tony and Esme as well as Randy and Veronica, Skylar and Lucas and many more familiar faces.

However, everything seems to be going against them. Tony is taken ill suddenly, and a rival bar sets up business. Their promoting skills seem to be directed at bringing the Gin Shack’s name to shame and affecting their business.

Add to this, returning fathers, disappearing children, grottos, food, mince pies and of course plenty of gin.

This really is a joyful novel to read. It is full of warmth and humour. Family relationships are strengthened and it has such a wonderful sense of community that it is a shame that life perhaps is not quite like that. What I also love is the cross-section of ages, covered with the characters this is not simply a book about a group of people all of a certain age. This is a book which shows you age is no barrier to friendship and bringing everyone together is so beneficial; everyone has a part to play and experience to bring.

It is a Christmas book and you can read it without having read the first and still enjoy it. But frankly why would you want to do that when you can read the first and completely immerse yourself in gin. I need to try a Christmas gin.

I think the storyline in this book and the characters, show there is scope for a third book, well I hope so!

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

Christmas at The Gin Shack is out now

Books

October Roundup

So there goes October, a funny month. The weather cannot make its mind up, I have been full of cold and yet I am still swimming outside! And so begins the countdown to Christmas and the reading continues apace with it.

Lily Graham – Christmas at Hope Cottage is one of those magical Christmas stories that fill you with hope and food. There is some magic food happening on the tables of Hope Cottage.

Of course you need a drink with Christmas and it will depend on what your favourite tipple might be. I expect you can guess what mine is? Catherine Miller – Christmas at the Gin Shack sees us return to octogenarian Olive and her friends as they discover more about Gin and friendship in difficult times.

If you only have time for a few short stories then turn to Katie Fforde – The Christmas Stocking and other Stories, if you are a fan of this author you will recognise some but still read them because they are brilliantly written and capture the spirit of Christmas is just the right amount of pages. The new stories are just as capturing.

It cannot all be about Christmas in October, which is why I have gone back a bit to Summer and picked up a book that has been sitting on myself for an age. Cressida McLaughlin – The Canal Boat Cafe, why I had not read this sooner when I enjoy the author I do not know. However I was transported away to the freedom of a Canal Boat and the wonderful Summer who is struggling to make a go of a very different lifestyle, especially when it seems many are against her. I am also thrilled to see that two short stories, Christmas themed of course are due out following on from this story so I read it just at the right time.

Another book which was a sort of serendipity to me was Poppy Dolan – The Woolly Hat Knitting Club. I love crafts and in the middle of doing quite a bit of knitting, for myself and for others. In particular the little babies born at my local hospital. If you are a fan of knitting then this book is a must and if you want to knit something yourself then get in contact and I can direct you to some great patterns. I am looking forward to seeing what Poppy writes about next.

I always enjoy getting into a saga and I have this year with Nancy Revell and the Shipyard Girls series. I have read books one and two and was thrilled to be able to get hold of book three. Nancy Revell – Secrets of the Shipyard Girls is a good read and it was lovely to be back amongst women that you have grown to know and admire as war still rages and loves still has to conquer all, no matter what stands in its way.

Sometimes with all these ‘nice’ reads as I call them, you need something which is a bit more meaty with the odd dead body or two. So I was intrigued by what is to be a new series of books by an author I have heard of but not read, publishing under a different name is how I came to get M.B.Shaw – Murder at the Mill. It sounded promising but for me did not really live up expectation. I think I have read too many Agatha Christie.

Which leads me to the 1968 club and my choice which was Agatha Christie – By The Pricking of My Thumbs. I try and participate when I can in these clubs as it is a useful way for me, to be able to make my way through Christie’s catalogue!

So that is it for October, my netgalley shelves are positively bowing with the weight of books that I have requested and I have more actual books wandering around my house looking forlorn by not being read. So time for more reading.

Books

The Christmas Stocking & Other Stories – Katie Fforde

The first thing to note is that this publication has two short stories which have previously been published around Christmas time. However they are short stories and so wonderfully written that it will do you no harm in reading them all over again – just like I have!

Candlelight at Christmas (previously published) – featuring characters from Recipe in Love (which I still have not read) shows how Christmas can be as much fun, even if you have the in-laws from hell, too many guests and suddenly no electricity to cook the turkey!

A Christmas in Disguise (previously published) – can Jo really pull of not just being someone else but also cooking a Christmas Dinner and pretending to be a girlfriend all in one day!

The Christmas Stocking – Romy is busy selling decorations and gifts on her stall at the market. The weather has taken a turn for the worse and the cold is really starting to bite Romy.

When a mysterious man brings her a hot drink to warm her up, so begins an unlikely friendship which is intensified by it being Christmas Eve the next day, the snow, the music studio all in the depth of the woods. Romy’s Christmas this years is going to be very different from what she planned.

A Dream Christmas – getting married on Christmas Eve is a dream for many (me included) and when Ginny and Ben finally make it out of their wedding reception and have some time for themselves.

When the taxi drops them at Withycome Lodge, the housekeeper’s cottage it seems to be in the middle of nowhere almost a dream…..log fires, warming baths, snow and an unseen member of staff mean this is going to be the honeymoon that everyone dreams of.

Or is it?

Dogs are for Christmas  – Stella  goes for a walk early Christmas morning to the Dog Walker’s Christmas Tree where people come to remember their treasured pets that are no longer around. She wants to put her dad’s dogs ashes there. Her dad’s beloved dog, died a few days after its owner.

Stella did not think she would suddenly have company so early and especially not from two exuberant misbehaving dogs, Tris and Izzy and an apologetic dog sitter, Fitz.

Perhaps Stella’s Christmas is going to be full of dogs after all.

The Christmas Fairy – everyone needs one surely? Ella is sent to help Brent look after his two nieces and nephew when their parents have to make a mad dash to France to look after sick relatives. Ella as the fairy is there to make sure everything is going okay and occupy them all in the depths of Scotland and so they don’t miss their parents too much.

Trouble is Ella seems to be sprinkling a bit of fairy dust very close to home. Perhaps she will get her Christmas wish too.

This is a collection of wonderful stories which can be read time and time again. Perfect for getting into the Christmas Spirit whatever the month or the weather! In fact I think they would make great Christmas Eve afternoon stories, curled up in the front of the log fire. A hot toddy, a mince-pie warm oozing with Brandy Butter, the tin of Roses open with wrappers left about in gay abandon like coloured snowflakes. Indulge it may be the only time you can in what can be a busy time!

This also includes a preview of Katie Fforde’s new novel, out in 2018. As with such things when they appear in books I do not read them, as the frustration of not being able to continue the story is incalculable!

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

The Christmas Stocking and other stories is out on 2 Nov

 

Books

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club – Poppy Dolan

Dee Blackthorn is ruthless when it comes to the corporate business world and she strives for one hundred percent success. She works hard and that is all she does, there is no stop, there is no pause. Dee lives for her work.

That is until one day she finds herself without a job and back living with her brother, JP. Suddenly working all the time is not the priority.

Which is not necessarily a bad thing because JP has managed to break both his wrists. JP becomes Dee’s priority but also in some ways her project as she wants to help him get on better. JP is not any normal brother though.

JP runs the local haberdashery and has found peace and pleasure in his knitting. He is popular online and regularly helps anyone that he can. But how can he now when he can’t even hold a knitting needle. Dee has to help him but there is a problem…..Dee cannot knit….

When she bumps into an old school friend, Becky in the supermarket who has just given birth to beautiful boy prematurely, she persuades JP that knitting little hats for premature babies would be a great way of just not helping Becky but lots of people in the same situation.

When Ben turns up looking for Dee, he becomes involved in the whole knitting furor and becomes friendly with JP. Trouble is Dee remembers what Ben was like to work with and thinks that there must be some ulterior motive. Ben becomes a surprise natural with the knitting, much to Dee’s irritation but he does embrace the whole idea of expanding the premature baby hat campaign.

Dee’s skills from her work life are in their element and what she can do is organise and make something small and successful, huge and mega successful. Is that what everyone and JP wants especially when it begins to hurt the people Dee loves. Dee cannot always see the real meaning sometimes of something so small and the pleasure that can be gained from a small number of people working for a bigger cause.

I loved this book, certainly one of my favourite of the year. Without a doubt because of the story but also because as a fellow knitter I can relate to all the yarn stories and the varieties of yarn, the difficulty in learning a new technique and being able to find someone to help you when needed.

This is a book which refocuses on the small little things in life because they are the most important and that sometimes having a big impact does not leave a lasting one. It is a great read and if you are a knitter as well, then this book is certainly a great read. Perhaps it might inspire you to pick up a pair of needles and knitting for someone.

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

The Woolly Hat Knitting Club is out now. 

As you may (or may not) know I am a knitter as one of the many crafts I like to try my hand at. I already knit for the premature babies at my local maternity hospital. My mum always did long before she had me and continues to do so, I have just simply followed tradition. So here are a couple of hats and a selection of the cardigans as well. 

 

 

Books

Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles: the Driftwood Inn – Phillipa Ashley

Phillipa Ashley is back with her new series of novels, and this time we have stepped a little bit away from Cornwall, to the Scilly Isles. Just across the water we discover new places, new problems and new characters. The islands in the novel are fictional but could quite easily exist as further islands away from the major five of the Scilly Isles.

Within a first few pages I am hooked as I find out about Maisie, returned to Gull Island to help her parents run the pub The Driftwood Inn. She has returned home to seek quiet sanctuary from what has happened to her in the previous few months.

But it is not going to be quiet on the island. Maisie is worried about her parents health and the fact that she is of an age where starting again might be difficult. After the temporary summer staff have all gone back to find jobs, Maisie still needs someone to help her. When Patrick walks in right at the moment she needs someone it seems that is her answer.

Trouble is her and Patrick shared a stolen kiss and she cannot get him out of her mind and now she has him in her place of work and a cottage out the back of the building. Tensions are bound to build in such close proximity.

Patrick was only meant to be on Gull Island to fulfill a dying wish to a friend now he has found some work his return to Australia is postponed but what was his real reason for being on Gull Island? As Christmas comes and the advent of a new year means new beginnings will Maisie finally be able to settle and will Patrick reveal the truth for his real reason for being interested in Gull Island.

I cannot wait to return and find out more about these Little Cornish Isles and their residents and of course I want to see how Maisie is getting on.

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