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. 

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Books

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove – Holly Martin

It’s Christmas on Hope Island. Having spent Spring and Summer with Bella, Freya, Isaac and Rome this is a continuation of course of their story but this book focuses very much on Eden and Dougie.

Eden has been in love with Dougie since forever. But he broke her heart when he moved to America,

Trouble is Dougie did not know this at the time but he did know the one person that he was best friends with was the reason he kept returning to Hope Island.

Eden is settled in her Pottery Cafe and whilst she has dreams of making it bigger and doing more of what she loves, she is very content with Hope Island. Until Dougie returns.

Dougie is not just returning for a visit, for Christmas he is planning on staying a lot longer. How will Eden manage this unrequited love when he is going to be living right next door?

It all moves very fast for Eden, even left me in its wake. Romance and wishes are the way to her heart and it seems that Dougie has all the right answers. But it can it be too good to be true?

No of course not, it is simply the magic of love and the magical time of year. Christmas is bringing everyone together but can it keep them that way?

I loved this book, there was something so romantic about Dougie that I admit to shedding a tear or two and was probably secretly in love with him a little bit. That is the elegance of Holly Martin’s writing taking you straight into the heart of the novel and she has you hooked with her writing and her setting.

She can do humour just as well and I have to confess Lucy and Finn, Eden’s parents were hilariously embarrassing with an innocence about them which made me forgive there not so subtle comments or indiscretions.

Combine this with a lovely setting, the coldness of winter, the brightness of the stars, the warmth of the fire as Eden and Dougie find some common ground.

If you want snowmen, hot chocolate, roaring fires, lots of layers of clothing, romance, Christmas, weddings and bucket loads of romance, this is the book for you. It works as a standalone novel, but if you have the time get the whole Hope Island experience.

Another excellent novel from Holly Martin.

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

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove is out now. 

I look forward to seeing what Holly Martin writes next. In the meantime I still have her White Cliff bay series to catch up on, so plenty to keep me going. 

 

 

Books

The Little Bakery on Rosemary Lane – Ellen Berry

I am back visiting Rosemary Lane and it has been just over a year since I have been here. I was there when Della set up her bookshop specialising in one type of books – cookery ones. I wanted to go back and see how she was getting on and so I do with this new novel from Ellen Berry.

Back on Rosemary Lane, we do see something of Della, her bookshop is expanding, her happiness clearly there for everyone to see but she still worries about her sister, Roxanne.

Roxanne becomes the main protagonist for this story as she escaped Rosemary Lane as soon as she could for the bright lights of London. From nothing she has worked her way into the fashion industry and is a Fashion Editor on a glossy magazine, the sort you flick through in a waiting room but would not necessarily buy!

She has everything she wanted but it seems that something is perhaps missing – when fate means her job is suddenly changed to something else and her rather reluctant boyfriend refuses to commit to anything.  Roxanne leaves London and returns to her sister in Rosemary Lane. But what is she going to do?

Roxanne discovers that there is very little to do. Della does not really need her help in the shop and it seems the only thing left her to do is to walk the dog. Trouble is her fashion knowledge and walking a dog on a wet Yorkshire dale are at odds with each other.

Whilst Roxanne learns that comfortable practical clothes are the way forward, no one is judging her and they take her at face value with no ulterior motive. Here she meets Michael who is just starting to find his feet in the new bakery on Rosemary Lane and when his daughter becomes friendly with Roxanne it seems that perhaps the bright lights of London have finally dulled. Of course it will not be that easy.

I enjoyed the interesting world of fashion and fashion photography. I certainly don’t want to be part of that world and the author I would guess has had some experience within it, to get it across the way she did. The bakery is perhaps not a strong feature in the book and others have commented on this, but this was a very character driven novel but it has its place in setting the scene of the village and the lane of shops.

The story of Rosemary Lane has not finished, there has got to me much more to come?  I am sure the pub that is featured in this book has a tale to tell and of course the bakery surely needs to expand? I can but dream and that is the sort of book this is. A lovely read.

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

The Bakery on Rosemary Lane is out now

The first book in the series was reviewed by me here

Books

The Snow Globe – Judith Kinghorn

It is the mid 1920s, The Great War a memory but still being very much felt by the people who live at Eden Hall but for Daisy Forbes on the cusp of something her belief in the life she has had so far is about to be shattered.

It is Christmas, a time for family for being together and for sharing in traditions, such as the snow globe that comes out every year and is one of Daisy most precious items. However everything she knows is shaken up and settles very much in a different way, just like her snow globe. Can it all return to the way it was or a brighter future?

Upon overhearing from servants that her father has a mistress and then seeing her mother invite said mistress as a guest for the Christmas season, Daisy’s world and perception changes. She struggles to deal with such information and cannot understand how her mother puts up with such things and how even her older sisters seems fully aware of what is happening. Daisy is struggling to understand love and this is not helping her.

She turns to her friend, Stephen who she has known since childhood, but he has plans of his own and they may not include still being friends with Daisy as their positions in life suddenly become very different and their social gap could widen.

All the time she is being encouraged to settle down, to marry, not necessarily for love but perhaps for necessity. Dealing with kisses, proclamations of love and marriage proposals she does not know where to turn to seek the right advice. Her mother has gone travelling, her father she feels she cannot approach, her sisters either free spirits or already tied down with domesticity. What is the right way and if the globe is shaken once more the snow will settle exactly in the right place and then the answer will become clear. The questions she has been asking are making Daisy even more puzzled.

This is a book which encompasses the lives of those upstairs and downstairs in a big house, where people gather and it is described in such a cinematic way that you can see it easily being transferred to a screen. Of course it is very much Daisy’s story but I enjoyed her mother Mabel as she sets out to challenge convention and prove that love is worth fighting for.

There is something about historical fiction that I am drawn to, the chosen era reflecting the storyline as this book does. The characters having the same anxieties as those today, with twists and turns as life takes us all on different paths. You learn so much about another time, another place but you also learn that love is sometimes all that is needed. This book encompasses all of that.

A sheer joy to read.

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

The Snow Globe is out now. 

For some reason, not everyone has read or even knows about Judith Kinghorn, her books do not seem to widely available in the UK. Let us change that I recommend her first three highly. I look forward to reading her fourth on my kindle ready to go. But to be honest, these are the sorts of book that need to be read gripped between your hands as you immerse yourself in the stories within the pages. 

Books

September Roundup

I hate to say it but after a lovely summer of reading, I have hit the Christmas reading already – what I hear you cry. It is still autumn and we haven’t even put the clocks back yet.

But the nights are getting darker earlier and I am waking up on int he dark to drag myself out to go swimming before work, so it can only mean that Christmas is really on its way. I even confess to having made a couple of lists for presents.

So the festivities have started with Holly Martin – Christmas at Mistletoe Cove. I really do like Holly’s books and read this series of books which concludes with Christmas on the Scilly Isles.

Funnily enough, coincidence perhaps, the next Christmas read was Phillipa Ashley – Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles: The Driftwood Inn. This also happens to be set on the Scilly Isles. It is the first in a new series of books from this author who I have to say produces books which are a great read.

Christmas funnily enough is covered in Judith Kinghorn – The Snow Globe but rather than being contemporary, this takes you back to the mid 1920s. Romance is around, but sometimes the choices you make are not always ‘seen’ to be the right ones.

So with Christmas out-of-the-way, let’s get back to summer and something a bit more warming and Katie Fforde – Summer of Love. I am a fan of Katie’s work and whilst I read the new books when I can if I can get hold of a copy, I am busy working my way through her back catalogue. Still got a few books to get through yet.

Summer makes you think of swimming and if you are lucky, lidos. I chose The Lido Girls  – Allie Burns when it appeared as a choice on netgalley. But the book was not for me and I abandoned it, the first this year and felt as I normally do quite ruthless, but some books just don’t work and when you have lots more to read then I feel I cannot waste time ploughing through a book which I get no enjoyment from.

I know I am going to get enjoyment and a laugh from Sarah Millican – How to be Champion and was thrilled when it popped up on netgalley. Even more thrilled to be approved and read a copy. If she makes you laugh, then without any doubt this book will too. I am going to get a copy for myself as I didn’t get to see the pictures and the formatting was a bit adrift on my kindle, so it did make for disjointed reading. But a ‘champion’ book!

I have noticed when you pick books up from netgalley that they can start you discovering one place and you have to go back and keep reading more about it, that is certainly the case with a few of the books I have got hold of lately. Which is why I chose and have read Ellen Berry – The Bakery on Rosemary Lane which takes us back to the Yorkshire village where new business are popping up and contentment is being found.

Looking back over the year I have read quite a lot of contemporary womens fiction. You get drawn certain ways with books and you just have to keep reading them. I know some are very similar it setting and style. If the writing is good, the plot believable and the characters three-dimensional then I carry on reading. Now and again I do like to throw in something different and this month besides an autobiography it was Anthony Horowitz – The Word is Murder. A different take on a murder mystery book and one which involved the author himself. Confused, you could well be but it is worth sticking with as it is a cleverly constructed novel.

So quite a good month for reading but there is plenty more to read so I must get on…..

Books

The Hourglass – Tracy Rees

Tracy Rees third novel, and whilst it is of course a novel set in the present and in the past, I found it different from her first two but I can’t put my finger on what it was, as it is certainly as good as them.

Present day: Nora suddenly has a clear image of a beach, a seaside town. It seems to be calling to her and it is a place she has only been to once in the past. The place is Tenby, Wales.

1950s: Chloe spends three weeks every summer with her aunt and uncle at a seaside town. An opportunity which she spends the other 49 weeks of the year dreaming about. Not only the journey, but the beach and her best friend are their. The place is Tenby, Wales.

It is clear that Tenby holds a spell over these two women. Nora stricken with anxiety and the fact she is forty and seems to have achieved very little in life, abandons everything she has job, flat, boyfriend and travels to Tenby as she attempts to find herself.

As Chloe’s summers are charted every year we see her grow, her blossom from girl to young woman, from small fantasies to big dreams and they are always most clear when she is in Tenby. The reality is somewhat different.

Tenby is beautifully described and placed perfectly within the story. I was there visiting, I was walking the same path and viewing the same landscape and scenery no matter what the weather, the author does this effortlessly. Google pictures of Tenby and you will see even the cover correctly illustrates the place so beautifully.

The story progresses between these two women and you do find out fairly early on the link between them as that is important as the story and the women’s lives move in very different directions but oddly enough they move most importantly to each other. Suddenly the anxiety of the past and the present makes sense and the future now can be something very different.  When the sand has run out, you have to turn the hourglass over and start all over again.

Tracy Rees is an author you have to try if you have not before, if you like historical fiction, with strong characters who can you empathise with and perhaps dislike in equal manner as well as set amongst an ever-changing landscape then her books are for you.

I am now just disappointed that I will have to wait a while to read her next one.

Thank you to the publisher Quercus for the review copy of this novel. The Hourglass is out now. 

 

Books

The Weekends of You and Me – Fiona Walker

Jo is single, hurtling towards 40 and with nothing to show for it. She has a plan but before she begins, she decides to throw herself into one final last fling.

Harry is divorced, passionate and very grumpy but he has something about him that people seem to flock to.

He catch’s Jo’s eye at a dinner party and suddenly everything changes for both of them.

This book, is told over a ten-year period and it reflects on the same weekends that they have through different parts of their relationship. The weekends are at this rundown dirty cottage deep in the Shropshire countryside where there is little access to the outside world and clearly whatever happens there stays there. A place to unburden yourself.

The weekends follow a formulaic pattern no matter what has been happening in their lives, no matter what they have left behind or what they have to go back to face after the weekend is over.

A dirty weekend in the literal and figurative sense at the beginning of the relationship with the cottage as well as their own tangled lives. As time moves on interestingly the cottage also begins to change and becomes more instantiated, that initial escapism and living simply lost. Perhaps their passion is lost as well?

I was intrigued by the concept of the way the story was told and was not sure what I was going to get, when I then started back at the beginning of one of Harry and Jo’s weekends. However there were a few times where it was slow and plodding and felt it was being padded out to keep the same concept going for the sake of the story.

I want to say I enjoyed the book, and I certainly did with the descriptions of the house, the landscape, the Shropshire hills and when it seemed to throw all seasons of weather at the cottage. The cosy fueled nights in at the pub and the interesting choices of music. But as Harry and Jo’s relationship progressed I felt like I was voyeuristically watching it come apart piece by piece and it was rather uncomfortable to watch.

Perhaps too much reality to call it a book for escapism. A book that left me disappointed.

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

The Weekends of You and Me is out now. 

I cannot comment if this atypical of this author’s work as this is the first book I have read. If you have read any of her other works and would like to recommend one, please do.