A Summer Surprise at the Little Blue Boathouse – Christie Barlow

Eleven books later and I am still revisiting Heartcross in the Love Heart Lane series as often as I can. I absolutely envy anyone first discovering book one and knowing that they have all the wonderful stories to catch up on.

Bea Fernsby has left behind everything, steady but boring job, family, fiancé and his wandering eyes and headed as far away as possible. She ends up in Heartcross and as it goes anyone that ends up there, never leaves.

Nolan Hemingway is determined to be leaving Heartcross on his adventure on his late grandfathers boat. It doesn’t matter who he meets, he no longer has the desire to settle.

Although it is meant to be a rest from everything that has gone on, Bea finds herself a little job in the Little Blue Boathouse and discovers she might have found the place to heal her heart. Becoming involved in the community, when a potential tragedy is averted, Bea finds herself determined to see safety to the river at the heart of this community. She then finds the pull of the community too much.

However Nolan is pulled by Bea’s enthusiasm and his humour and when she becomes involved in the real reason for Nolan’s landing in Heartcross, it seems that the community has a pull to Nolan that he never realised. Then of course there is Bea who has done something to Nolan, he never thought possible.

A book filled with mystery, warmth and laughter and plenty of old friends from Heartcross to become even more fond of if that is at all possible! What I love most is the fact that these books aren’t full of fluff, but tackle some real issues that many face and handles it with such skill, that you cannot but help cheer for more of the same!

As with all of the Love Heart Lane series, they can certainly be read as standalone novels but I implore you to just read them all. You will not regret it.

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

A Summer Surprise at the Little Blue Boathouse is out now.


Falling Hard for the Royal Guard – Megan Clawson

This is one of those books which you stumble across by accident or in my case, the Instagram account of the author. The fascination of living in an iconic British Landmark had me captivated and when I found out a book had been written too then I was even more pleased.

Although it is clear that Maggie our protagonist is not Megan, I think there might be some similarities throughout the book, exaggerated for comedic and effect. But you cannot but help love Maggie.

Maggie has ended it with her boyfriend, she swears off me for the foreseeable future that is until she stumbles into the path of another one. Freddie. Standing guard at The Tower of London. Not just Maggie’s workplace but her home as well.

A friendship forms between the two, with tales of ghosts of the tower and life in the guards but there is something more about Freddie that Maggie knows and it takes a while before we find out what he is hiding. The thing with Maggie though, is what you see is what you get and everyone knows what she is up to, even in the most secure buildings in the land!

This book whilst packed full of interesting facts about the Tower of London, the Beefeaters, the Guards, the Keys ceremony and even the Ravens is ultimately a modern romantic tale. A lot of current terminology which I was not familiar with (god I have got old!) but still a lovely diversion with a bit of history chucked in. Think Bridget Jones and Mr Darcy but with uniforms. I was wondering though, as the author has her own royal guard and does in fact live at the Tower, how much of this book is autobiographical? It will be interesting to see if more books follow.

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

Falling Hard for the Royal Guard is published on 27 April.


Thirty Days in Paris – Veronica Henry

It has taken thirty years for Juliet to take thirty days now in Paris.

For Juliet, Paris has always had a special place in her heart, when she was young and naïve she found Paris was the answer to all her dreams but when misunderstandings and secrets threaten everything Juliet heads back home to England.

Now thirty years older, separated from her husband and with children who have flown the nest and no real commitment to anything Juliet can now go back to the city of her dreams. Her aim is to spend thirtday days in Paris and find herself, find what she wants to do next, where she wants to put down roots and perhaps find the past?

Thrust back into the world of Paris, it’s bustling streets, the noises, the sights, the smells, the tastes of the food Juliet is immersed completely. She seeks out old friends, makes new ones and establishes herself and finds work along the way. But she must also address the elephant in the room – why she left Paris when she did and the heart she broke on the way.

To do this Juliet puts pen to paper and writes the story of the young au pair, thirty years previous. We as readers get to read this story and learn the truth. A dual timeline which fits seamlessly into the novel and adds to the picture of Paris that is painted as well as the romance of the past, the present and the future.

Veronica Henry has done it again, she has created a novel worthy of escaping into and where I was whisked away to Paris without leaving the comfort of my home. Beautiful escapist romance and proves that even if you think your life has reached a crossroads, the new path might be even more exciting!

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

Thirty Days in Paris is published on 13th April.


One Enchanted Evening – Katie Fforde

I first met Meg back a couple of books ago with Katie Fforde asn she started a new life and new friends with Lizzie and Alexandra after meeting at a cookery school. The stories of Lizzie and Alexandra have followed and now it is Meg’s turn.

Meg’s mother, Louise is running a small hotel in Dorset, it is in great need of improvement and cannot compete with the rival hotel nearby because horror of horrors there is still shared bathrooms and toilets, en-suite was a new concept in 1960s. That is the least of their worries, as the chef has walked out and a annual banquet is to be held and so Meg is drafted in to do what she does best – cook.

Trouble is she is a woman in very much a man’s world and when the son of the owner Justin appears, he shakes Meg’s confidence to be able to produce anything edible. Meg is determined to rpove her worth not just in the kitchen but across the whole hotel as well.

She will show Justin, just how good women can be.

As well as a love hate relationship between Meg and Justin, we see Louise blossoming relationship with Justin’s father Andrew. Then we have the wonderful eccentric permanent residence Ambrosine who has a past that could come in useful and Susan and all her relatives who seem to be working at the hotel in every role possible.

Although you could say this book is historical, the 1960s could be seen to be by some, for me it is more a reflection on how women’s roles were changing and that in some cases, women are still seen to be so far behind their male counterparts.

Packed full of everything you need to escape. Perfect.

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

One Enchanted Evening is out now.

Books · Jottings

March Roundup

Here we are again, another month gone and another round up post. A quarter of the way through 2023 which in terms of reading is way behind where I have been in previous years, but I have loved the books I have been reading, so do you know what – who cares!

What I am most pleased about is reading actual books and making a dent in the actual bookshelves instead of the virtual ones. Some of have been hanging around for a while but it was time for Liz Fenwick – A Cornish Affair to take it’s turn. This was a wonderful foray into Cornwall and I so wanted to be delving into the history of the house and the speculation of the jewels that were lost. I only have one of the back catalogue to read and can also look forward to her new one out this year as well. If you follow Liz n social media, she has been researching on the Orient Express for her next novel. That sounds really exciting.

A Cornish Affair featured a big house and so did Godmersham Park – Gill Hornby which is another delve into the world of Austen’s and the more secondary people that are not regularly featured when it comes to talking about Jane Austen. This book takes you back to another time, where life is so different for women. It is a good example of historical fiction and I really felt the language of the time which must be a very difficult thing to emulate.

Talking of big houses, M.H. Eccleston – The Trust is a delightful quirky cosy mystery book which pokes fun at the National Trust and English Heritage properties around the country. A body in an Ice House, poisonous mushrooms, fake paintings and an art conservator running away from a marriage makes a jolly good read. I am going to seek out the next.

Always waiting for the next book to be published (and also written) and so pleased when it is, Sarah Bennett – Where We Belong the beginning of a new series by this author. Again there is a big house in the novel too, but transformed into a hotel, with a distillery, camping, some ruins and romance packed within the pages it is a hit with me and certainly should be with anyone who picks it up. I get so invested in Sarah’s stories I want to transport myself to wherever they are set.

Of course being transported back in time is always a good way to get me interested in reading and in the last few books from Katie Fforde, that is what I have done. Her latest Katie Fforde – One Enchanted Evening is no exception. We are continuing to follow these young women in the 1920s as they find their feet with their lives and their loves. Added to this was big dollop of cooking and delicious sounding food at a hotel in the country which needs reinventing, and Meg and her mum knows just what to do. I don’t know how Katie keeps these novels so fresh but I am forever grateful for her writing.

From cooking to gardening with Lorna Cook – The Hidden Letters. War is being talked about across Europe and also in the big house in Cornwall. The occupants don’t think such things will affect them. But they do and for Cordelia the affects are most life changing. a book perfect for fans of historical fictions and Lorna Cook knows how to take a different aspect of war and use that as a basis for her plots.

How to plot a novel must be a complex thing and a murder plot even harder, throw in some cryptic crossword clues and you have a fine web to weave. None more so than Robert Thorogood – Death Comes to Marlow where we are back trying to work out how a man died in a locked room, with the key in the door and all key suspects with watertight alibis. One of my greatest wishes is to be able to do a cryptic crossword – I clearly need more practice!

That was March and by some sheer coincidence, ‘big houses’ were a feature in all of the books in some form or other! Just goes to show you want you can do with such a concept when it comes to fiction.

How was your March, how is your 2023 reading going? Do share any books which feature big houses that you think I might like.

I wonder what April’s theme will be ?

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Parish Notices

It has been nearly a year since there has been some Parish Notices around this parish. Where has that year gone? In fact where is this year going? Reading has taken a slow start and everything seems to have taken a different pace at the moment, not just reading but work, blogging and crafting and everything really. Perhaps that is just the way it should be.

Anyway, I thought I would drop by with a few of the books I have read recently that might have passed you by.

The new series from Sarah Bennett is out with Where We Belong

 Full of family dynamics and friendship tests as well as broaching tough topics with alcoholism, class difference, overbearing fathers or non existent ones. So much is contained within the pages. With skill, Sarah Bennett has drawn me into a wonderful place full of rich and interesting people and I cannot wait to find out more about them, their secrets and their dreams.

Libby Page’s The Vintage Shop of Second Chances made me wish I was good at dressmaking!

This wonderful gentle novel from Libby Page shows emotions and depth to the characters as well as the plot. It is great to see friendships across generations, something that I myself wholeheartedly embrace. There is much to learn from all your friends whether they be old or new and this book reflects that in abundance. Added in is the wonder and joy that clothing can bring people, how colour can bring much into your life and cheer even the most greyest of situations.

Georgina Moore’s debut novel was fantastic, clearly her experience in publishing stood her in good stead. The Garnett Girls is an excellent book and one of my favourites for the year.

Who exactly are The Garnett Girls, do they know themselves and will we ever find out by the end of this mesmerising debut novel from Georgina Moore.……A fantastic debut novel which was something a step above being simply women’s fiction it is on a much deeper level than that. For anyone who wants to peep into family life and be completely absorbed.

And I am going to go back a few months to The Bletchley Girls by Anna Stuart as I have the next novel to read on my kindle taking me back to Bletchley and I cannot wait.

Three unlikely women meet at train station, Stefania, Ailsa and Fran. They only currently have one thing in common, they have signed the Official Secrets Act and they are heading for the same place Bletchley Park……..Historical fiction at it’s best when you learn so much about the past from an author that has thoroughly researched and used real stories to bring a narrative to life.

Hopefully that has piqued your interest and that you are reading some cracking good reads and looking forward to even more in 2023.

It may well be another year before there is a Parish Notices who knows, perhaps next time I might feature some crafting?

Hope things are blossoming well in your parish?

Books · Witterings

February Roundup

And within a blink of an eye, February has gone. I seemed to have picked up a bit of the reading, but no where near on target. Carol commented when I mentioned this last time, “Every year has it’s own pace” and do you know what she is so right and I have felt I have embraced a pace in all sort of different parts of my life. Sometimes it is a simple sentence that can resonate every day. Thank you Carol.

So the pace of books this month has taken me everywhere and do you know what I have enjoyed every one of them.

If you need sunshine in your life then you can do no wrong with the latest Libby Page – The Vintage Shop of Second Chances, a beautiful yellow cover, a beautiful yellow dress, oh how I wish I was good at dressmaking. A lovely book which reminds me of so many of my own generational freindships.

More blue skies could be found in Jane Coverdale – Under a Cerulean Sky a new author to me and one who I would like to go back to and read more. It also played into my love of historical fiction and I learnt so much about a part of the world not normally covered in books I have read previously.

Sticking with history was by picking up Sarah Waters – The Paying Guests which is set in London in the 1920s and has also shamefully been on my netgalley shelf for nearly 9 years which I am sure makes it history as well. It just seemed the right time to pick up this book and I have to say perhaps I am glad I read it when I did. Maybe I might read more Sarah Waters this year as I know there is a book on my shelf.

So far, all kindle so I picked up an actual book with Richard Osman – The Bullet that Missed so delightfully British, so funny and an absolute delight to burrow under the covers on a dank day and read away to my hearts content. He has really hit upon something and I can see that these books could run and run if the writing stays as on point as it currently is.

Travelling again from my bookshelf with Veronica Henry – Thirty Days in Paris. A go to author without a doubt and her writing and storytelling gets richer. This book positively oozed the gloriousness of Paris, the food, the scenery, the love in every page. I was there at every moment of the character’s life.

A month where I have devoured and appreciated every word and enjoyed every page. As Spring starts to appear and March gets going, I think, in fact I know the books I read going into the month are as wonderful as these.

How was your February? What is your reading pace this year?

Books · Jottings · Witterings

Books in 2022

Again, I seem to have waited for 2023 to start and settle before I got round to looking at what I read in 2023. This must be the last roundup post to be published.

So first off, I did not reach that magic number 100: 2 short. Who knows why but do you know what I haven’t let it stress me out, I think I have read a decent amount of books and learnt not to read books just to keep the numbers up if I am not enjoying them.

The Shortest Book was Holly Hepburn – The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures at 100 pages

The Longest Book was Robert Galbraith – Troubled Blood at 944 pages

Of the 98 books read that is the equivalent of 30,476 pages! Of course this is all dependent on which version I save to my Goodreads list and I am not particularly fussed about ensuring it is the correct one, as I read quite a lot of advanced review copies.

As for the kindle it was 79 books and these would have been thanks to the wonder that is netgalley which is also a curse as it means I am not reading books from my shelves as much as I should.

To stick with common themes in my look back of the year we will start with:

Multiple Books by the same Author

Top spot for 2022 was Helena Dixon with 4 books. 2020 was the last year with 4 books.

3 books: Merryn Allingham, Christie Barlow, Cathy Bramley, Holly Martin, Cressida McLaughlin, Jo Thomas. Authors in bold featured in this category in 2021.

2 books: Phillipa Ashley, Vicki Beeby, Sarah Bennett, Liz Eeles, Sharon Gosling, Molly Green, Stacey Halls, Tracy Rees, Helen Rolfe, Jennifer Ryan, Heidi Swain, Tilly Tennant. Authors in bold featured in this category in 2021.

As you can see I go back to the authors I know and love, who will give me a great read and also comfort as well. Of course as tastes change and books are written and discovered, there are more authors added into the mix.

No Agatha Christie (well not really) in this list but there is one reread. P.G.Wodehouse – Carry on Jeeves, I really wish I had not given away my Wodehouse books I had collected years ago. These are such a great joy. For 2023, I want more rereads, I want more Agatha Christie.

What about my favourite, I really can’t say I have one. There have been some cracking good reads and I am pleased to have delved a bit back into the historical fiction/saga area which has always been of great interest to me. So here is a snapshot of those books that stand out in 2022, a mix of many genres.

I think it is good that I haven’t got a stand out book of the year and haven’t had for many. I always think that leaves a lot to live up to with all the other books out there waiting to be read. So as for 2023, expect to see more of the same I think and more of reading what I want at a gentle leisurely pace or fast and furious depending on the book and the timing.

Finally thanks must go to my readers, book blogging has changed a lot of the years and a lot more is done on social media rather than specific blogs and also with a lot more visual content, especially videos. I am grateful to everyone who pops by and reads my wittering, for the time being I will continue to read and post.


The Hidden Secrets of Bumblebee Cottage – Christie Barlow

I have often describe these books as sagas that are perfect for Sunday night television, and this the latest novel is no exception. They are so enjoyable that they actually become more difficult to review as each book goes on, as the story of Love Heart Lane and Heartcross has evolved so much since the very beginning.

I implore anyone to read the first, read the last or any in between and you will immediately be transported and captured in Heartcross that you will never want to leave.

In this book, Jinny decides that life working for a megalomaniac newspaper editor, who is also her father is too much and she quits. She quits everything her job as a journalist, her flash car, her posh flat, basically her life and with nothing tying her to London anymore takes up a job in Heartcross at The Bees Knees. This job tending bees and making chutney is far from her previous life as you can get. Jinny really isn’t suited to this job.

Heartcross attracts all those who need help to heal from whatever has happened to them in the past and it is that which draws Jinny to the job and place and perhaps why she was chosen for the role. Jinny gets to meet Gabe who helps her out at The Bees Knees so she can learn the ropes. Jinny’s enthusiasm knows no bounds and you can predict perhaps some of the bother that she is going to get into, but all with the wisdom of youth and exuberance Jinny does manage to make it all work.

However there is something mysterious about Gabe, and Jinny can’t help that she is curious. Clearly being a journalist never goes away. But is the truth what Jinny is expecting and can Gabe really let anyone close to him?

Great to see familiar characters from the series appear, especially Molly and Cam from the previous novel which is how the threads of the place keep me interested and returning book after book.

A prefect book to fill your heart with sunshine in the dreary winter month filled with laughter and romance. What more could you want. Just more from the series that’s all!

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

The Hidden Secrets at Bumblebee Cottage is out now.


Mistletoe and Mulled Wine at the Christmas Campervan – Caroline Roberts

Lucy is back in her horsebox Pizza Van, cooking those delicious sounding pizzas and she is invariably near or alongside, Jack with his red Cocktail Campervan, shaking up his latest concoction to delight the customers. They are still in the early days of their relationship.

But it is not without it’s troubles. Lucy has fallen out with her best friend Becky, who knows Jack’s reputation of old. Becky just doesn’t want Lucy to get hurt. When Jack stats behaving strangely, Lucy begins to worry and worry even more when her ex-fiancé turns up wanting to get back together.

In the run to Christmas, where the events that Lucy and Jack are attending are of the festive variety, this really takes you away to all those wonderful magical moments. I can smell the mulled wine, I can taste the festive pizzas, I can feel the cold as I wend my way amongst all the twinkling lights and cheery carols.

Amongst all this festive cheer though, Jack and Lucy are perhaps not being honest with each other, when events mean they are forced to confront their doubts and declare their feelings, something else momentous happens which could ruin it forever.

This is the perfect escape into Christmas and I loved the fact that the author has pulled the main characters from her other wonderful novels and given them a guest appearance which adds to the community feel of the book. I felt festive, full of delicious food and drink and wanted to embrace every Christmas Market I possibly could find! The book is magical and I hope we get to go back for a cocktail or two with Jack and Lucy at some point again.

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

Mistletoe and Mulled Wine at the Christmas Campervan is out now.