Books

April Roundup


And there goes April……I normally have a lot of time to read in April due to holiday, but this year was very different. Less holiday due to work computer systems, personnel changes and the like means that I have had the bare minimum to catch up. It has slightly annoyed me really as has the lack of doing what I like doing. However I have read some books and some cracking ones at that.

The Second World War seems to have been a theme when I look back on the books I have read. I was delighted and also saddened to finally reach the end of this series with Nancy Revell – Three Cheers for the Shipyard Girls. I am now on the look out for another saga series to get immersed in, so if you have any recommendations then please comment and let me know.

From the Shipyards of the War and staying very much on the home front I ended up in a cooking competition on rations with Jennifer Ryan – The Kitchen Front. Whilst perhaps some of the ingredients leave a lot to be desired this strong story of friendship and what you can achieve with every little is excellent. It was lovely to see a book which concentrated on a different part of the war. Jennifer Ryan has a knack of doing that with her story telling.

You never think of what happened to libraries during the War. Kate Thompson – The Little Wartime Library shines a light on such a place, deep underground at Bethnal Green. Synonymous with a tragedy of its own. This was a delightful, heart-breaking book which tells you the power of friendship and strength through books.

More libraries featured this month by pure accident and that was with the latest Katie Ginger – The Little Library on Cherry Lane. A library threatened from something different but nonetheless showing such an important place that libraries can be. Makes me feel so guilty that I do not use mine as often as I should.

Female friendships is a theme in many books I read and they can cross generations as they do in Joanna Nell – The Tea Ladies of St Jude’s Hospital. An author I have read before who can capture the wonder of the elderly in such a comic way that her books have a great sense of fun about them.

Cathy Bramley – The Summer That Changed Us is the latest in this author’s work and I think I have pretty much read all of them. This one was different, it spoke to me in a completely different way. I adored it from beginning to end, it dealt with some real tough subject matter but not in a frivolous way but in something more realistic akin to real life. Cathy’s work keeps getting better and better.

Reading brings me such joy an contentment but I always like to be challenged sometimes by what I pick up. The final two books I want to talk about this month do that. Clare Chambers – Small Pleasures was on my shelf for a while after seeing it being raved about on Between the Covers a relatively new book programme on BBC2. Wow! A gentle book with an interesting themes to make it not so gentle and a bit more powerful.

Thrillers always have that way of being powerful, if they have the right hook to draw you in, the hours whizz by and you suddenly find it is way past your bedtime! Lucy Foley – The Paris Apartment was no exception. Whilst Lucy has moved away from the almost ‘locked room’ mystery this had a lot of a similar elements and branched out a little bit more. I was hooked, I was drawn in and I had to keep turning the page. A little bit slow in parts and not my favourite of hers but still a great thriller to escape with.

So that was my April, I am trying to erode the huge list of books to read on my shelf, on my kindle and on my want to buy list! Then of course I need to be writing about the books too, which seems to be harder and harder at the moment. A few more hours in the day, a few more days in the week and all we be fine!

Books

Cover Reveal – The Wisteria Tree of Love

Any regular followers to this blog will know that I enjoy Holly Martin’s novels and that I have been lucky in the past to read some pre-publication and taken part in blog tours. Here I am with a cover reveal of her next novel – The Wisteria Tree of Love.

Get you preorders in here

You can start the adventure of the first in this series of books here while you wait for the Wisteria to blossom and the book to be released.

Books

Love Blooms at Mermaids Point – Sarah Bennett

Following a series means that you can get really involved in the characters lives as you see them pop in and out of the differing books. Last time I met Alex he was helping his brother, Tom the new Doctor at Mermaids Point settle in. He was at a crossroads in his life and could see that this little gem on the coast had healing properties. Even more so when he meets and flirts unashamedly with Ivy.

Ivy is having a tough time and her immediate future is all she can care about.

Time has moved on, Alex has made the decision to move to Mermaids Point and restart his life away from the city, away from the rash decision to publish a book under a pseudonym and also from his ex wife Jo. Buying a rundown bookshop seems like the perfect choice for Alex, it seems that rash decisions follow him everywhere.

Ivy is coming to terms with the death of her mother and the massive hole caring for her that has left. Now she can start to focus on herself. What she doesn’t realise is that the home, the life she has known is suddenly upended and she finds herself looking for everything home, job but most definitely not love.

However love has a funny way of finding you and that comes in the form of Alex, who can provide everything Ivy needs. Trouble is Ivy needs to see it first and Alex perhaps needs to be truthful about who he really is.

Being back in Mermaid’s Point is like returning home. The Morgan’s who feature strongly in the first couple of books are of course quite present in this novel, but it is very much the story of Alex and Ivy. You are on their side from the beginning and if I could have stepped into the book I would have certainly have shook both of them at some points, where the misunderstandings were just that.

Of course the path of true love never runs smooth and this relationship whilst off to a fast and fantastic start has to face some stumbling blocks. Some people don’t like this genre of fiction because it is making life to be too perfect, this is not true here. The author shows us life in all it’s ups and downs and realities most importantly and where doubts about people and trust issues can be affected by ones past. Both Alex and Ivy have that in abundance to resolve for them to be able to move on together of course.

Another strong read to this series of books and I highly recommend. Now if I could find my own Alex………

Love Blooms at Mermaids Point is out today.

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

Books

The Blossom Tree of Dreams – Holly Martin

Wishing Wood seems almost Enid Blytonesque and that I am going to be transported to different lands through that magical tree and meet all sorts of different characters. Of course this books content is far from what happens in The Faraway Tree, but it had the magical quality about it of escapism to a different place, a different time and where there will always be a happy ending.

Indigo Bloom, had one magical night and now she is off to tell the owner of Wishing Wood, River Brookfield the news of that fateful night. What she doesn’t realise that she is going to land head long into his family and his life and it might not necessarily be what she or River wants.

There is also another problem – it appears that River, doesn’t remember her.

Hurt but in need of a job and somewhere to live, Indigo keeps her secret. However there is something magical about the place, the treehouses all tell a story and one in particular is exactly as she once described to River.

Add into the mix River’s daughter and a past hurt that has seem him completely abandon all hope of his own happy ending. With two brothers all with a family history of not perhaps the ideal upbringing who all cling to that idea of a happy family, a happy ever after can Indigo break through all the barriers and make River finally see what has been under his nose all along.

This is a wonderful, escapist novel and just what you would expect from the pen of Holly Martin. It was great to see the male character just as dominant as all the female ones, including River’s delightful daughter all palying an equal part int he story. There was somethign so incsuive,s o well rounded and thought out with this book that it made my heart just sing.

Now whilst I wait for the next in her series I am off to investigate treehouses and wishing woods and my own happy ending.

Thank you to Holly Martin for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The Blossom Tree of Dreams is out now.

Books

The Staycation – Cressida McLaughlin

You can be a travel agent without ever going abroad – can’t you?

For Hester Monday this is something she has been doing for over a year and no one has yet rumbled her. She has not set foot on a plane since she was a young girl, something happened then, it has scarred her and she cannot move forward.

Enter Jake Oakenfield, not allowed to travel back to New York on a plane because of an heroic deed which has left him with injuries and holed up in a luxury hotel in London.

Can Hester take him holiday to faraway places without leaving the hotel room? Of course she can. But can she do it all without revealing how she hasn’t been tp any of the places she is talking about?

The most important question for Hester is can you have a holiday romance when you are not even on holiday?

The sparks between Jake and Hester are clearly there, but some honesty and facing fears for both of them are the only things that are going to move them beyond the sparks which were flying off the page in places, into something much more solid.

I would say for me, this is a move from the author’s normal books and I was not disappointed but it didn’t have for me that something her other books have. I so wish I could name what that ‘thing’ was, maybe it didn’t give me enough of a pull to want to go back and revisit the characters.

However if you are missing travel across the globe or even the luxury places around the UK, then this book will whisk you away with a big dollop of romance thrown in for good measure.

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

The Staycation is out now.

Books

Mistletoe at Moonstone Lake – Holly Martin

Way back in June, I was lucky enough to get the preview cover reveal of Holly Martin’s latest novel set on the magical Jewel Island. Now it is time to tell you all about what that cover might reveal!

It is Christmas at Jewel Island and if you have been with Holly (and me reviewing these books!) from the beginning then you will recognised some familiar names and faces from the island. However like all of her books, they can be read as a standalone and this would be a great place to start if this is your first time reading the author.

Zoey had this Christmas all planned out, in fact her wedding was to be on Christmas Eve, but it seems her fiancé had other ideas and now Zoey finds herself at Jewel Island Christmas Market selling her quirky drawings and paintings to those looking for something different as a gift.

Staying near her mum on this magical island seems the best tonic for a jilted bride. That is until fate throws something in her way.

In fact fate in the form of Kit Lewis, doesn’t just throw something in her way he throws something over her! From that moment, their fate is sealed. The attraction instant and you are immediately behind these two lost souls who seem drawn together.

That is until a secret Zoey has been keeping is going to destroy everything. It wasn’t her secret to tell and she is determined to keep that promise.

Can the perfect Christmas sparkle for these two on Jewel Island?

As ever, this is a wonderfully uplifting book which is filled with everything you would expect from this author and everything you would expect from a Christmas market too! Mulled Wine, Hot Chocolate, Snow, Churros and a visit from Santa. What more could you want to get you in the festive mood?

Thank you to the author who kindly provided me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I have received nothing in return and the only thing I give is the recommendation to read this book. 

Books

September Roundup

Depending on how the month ends on what day during the week, depends on how quickly I can get these roundup posts done! Hence why I am a couple of days out from those that follow my blog and expect to see the previous months round on the first.

But better late than never and whilst autumn has clearly arrived in my part of the world, Christmas has too!

It is always nice to go back to something familiar with stories so I was more than happy to return to Jewel Island for this festive season with Holly Martin – Mistletoe at Moonstone Lake. And with a name like Holly what more would you expect Christmas wise!

Of course being a fan of authors and series of books makes reading sometimes easy but with that comes an absolute joy to be part of another world for a while and so I was thrilled to welcome back Sarah Bennett – Autumn Dreams at Mermaids Point and with a novella following close behind, I was delighted to keep the story going for that bit longer with Sarah Bennett – Christmas Surprises at Mermaids Point.

Whilst not my favourite Christmas book so far of 2021, Rachel Burton – A Bookshop Christmas did give me that cosy Christmas bookshop feel that you can get in certain bookshops.

Christmas is not the main theme of Helen Rolfe – The Kindness Club on Mapleberry Lane but it certainly played a part in bringing the kindness of a family together, whether they be true family or simply neighbours.

Of course nothing brings people together than the threat of the closure of a library. In Bella Osborne – The Library, two unlikely people strike up a friendship and find solace in books. There appears to be a number of books this year featuring similar tales and all of them have been thoroughly enjoyable and make me ever so guilty that I hardly visit the library!

I wonder how long the waiting list at the library is for Richard Osman – The Man Who Died Twice? His second novel and if I may say so, I think better than the first. I can see this series lasting quite a while with the quirky residents getting into some rather interesting mysteries. Retirement is not boring for them or us.

Looking back it seems that all the books read in September were on my kindle and were netgalley reads. I have to confess of having got a bit happy with requesting and find myself playing catch up which is how I had only just got round to reading Anthony Horowitz – A Line to Kill, the third novel in the Hawthorne series. Featuring the author himself this book works in such a wonderful way.

Quite a lot of Christmas, quite a bit of murder so I took myself back to some historical reading with Dinah Jefferies – Daughters of War, the first in a new trilogy from this author. Taken to France and the Nazi occupation and the French Resistance, I am interested to see where this series takes us next.

So that was September, October promises to be just as good. I have plenty lined up to read and currently engrossed in an actual book as well as the countless on my netgalley to read list. I hope to balance out the Christmas reads with some more interesting and quirky ones in between. Who knows where I will end up.

I hope your September reading has been what you wanted, anything I have missed?

Books

The Country Village Summer Fete – Cathy Lake

Little Bramble Village is the childhood home of Emma and since she has left, she has hardly returned for more than a few days if that. But on the edge of her forties and with her fifties looming fast, she suddenly feels that perhaps she has achieved nothing and certainly doesn’t have anything to show for it.

Returning to Little Bramble, with the reason to look after her widowed father who seems to have lost his way is Emma’s excuse to perhaps take stock of where she is in life and where she wants to go next.

However going back means she needs to face what she left behind in the village all those years ago – her first love. Confronting her actions from the past and the villagers who have long memories too, means that perhaps Emma needs to stop and reassess what she was really running away from. Can the answer be found in her mother’s workshop, full of jams and chutney? Can the answer be found in making friends and catching up with old ones? Can the answer be watching your dad deal with the widowhood? Can the answer be in the past?

Clear, really from the start where and how this book was going to pan out, it was a pleasant diversion and was great to return a place I have visited before, in the first novel. They work well as standalone books and there is no need for any prior knowledge. I would have like a bit more intrigue, ‘will they, won’t they’ jeopardy before the happy ending. It was just a bit too neat for me.

A book to while away the hours, but for me perhaps a series I would not return to, when there are perhaps stronger books out there.

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

The Country Village Summer Fete is out now.

Books

The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse – Katie Ginger

Amelia has not been back home for over ten years and has established her life in Paris. But when she discovers that she has inherited Meadow Farmhouse from her Great Aunt Vera, she just needs to pop back, sort it out and make sure it is sold. Meadow Farmhouse was not really her home was it?

However, Amelia was not prepared for the emotions that would hit her when she returned to the village of Meadowbank and her past.

The farmhouse is a dilapidated state and it seems that Vera had let it go and having had little contact with her since her departure and not healing the refits that might have developed, Amelia starts to think that maybe restoring the farmhouse will help her heal.

Is Amelia really healing from the restoration of the farmhouse.

She still has to confront her old love, Adam who is still very much part of the village.

She still has to deal with the death of her parents, that led her to living with Vera and being an irritation and an inconvenience.

It seems though Vera had a few secrets of her own, that Amelia knew nothing about. And when she discovers an old wedding dress and a locket with a picture of a man she does not recognise. It seems that there is a mystery to solve and perhaps this might lead her to solve all the mysterious questions that have come to mind since she has been home.

The main one – is Meadow Farmhouse really home?

This is a wonderful book which is full of questions about where home really is and who are friends really are? Sometimes we need to step away from something and get a new perspective and I think Amelia does this in this book, thanks to the other wonderful characters that she comes across, both young and old. So much is learnt from what is not said, that there must be more tales to tell from Meadowbank.

For fans of village tales and renovating houses and hearts in equal measure.

 

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

The Secrets of Meadow Farmhouse is out now. 

 

 

Books

A Wedding in the Country – Katie Fforde

I am a fan of Katie’s books and have read a number of them and whilst some naysayers might say that you always get the same story (I disagree) you do have a certainty with them. This book too me out of that certainty and rather than being set in the present day I was whisked back to 1963. I wasn’t sure it would work – but it did, in abundance!

Lizzie has arrived in London to complete a course at a cookery school, not for a career in a kitchen, but for a career as a wife. There is not just cooking, by flower arranging, sewing skills and general skills on how to look after your husband to make sure he has the best in life.

Lizzie has arrived in London in the Swinging Sixties which comes as rather a shock to her and her parents as it seems that this influence on this naïve middle class girl is going to change her life forever.

When Lizzie teams up with Alexandra and Meg who live in a run down house in Belgravia with David, who has a rather avuncular role in their lives, she starts to see that life could be a lot better if she does not go along with her mother’s plans.

Enter Hugo, titled, a career in the law and rather handsome, he would be the ideal man to bring home for mother to approve of. Just one problem, Hugo also has his life planned out for him by his father.

Will Lizzie and Hugo follow their hearts, or will they conform?

I was transported back to the London of the Sixties, but what I was also transported back to were the emotions and roles of women then. As a woman in her mid forties, this makes for uncomfortable reading, to think that my life would have been mapped out as such – marriage, cooking good dinners, flower arranging and dressmaking. Thank goodness for women like Lizzie who stepped out of this role and made it possible for me to not follow that path – though there is nothing wrong with my cooking but my dressmaking could probably do with some work!

That said it was a great world that Katie Fforde has created and I wanted to sit at the kitchen table in Belgravia as much as I wanted to escape to the little cottage in the country or be waited on at the big house! This was all part of the warmth of the story as much as the characters exploits.

An excellent book and should be read by all young girls, in fact read by all women because in such a short time the world has changed beyond the one portrayed in this novel. A great look at the past as much as it is a reflection of women’s roles in the world.

 

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

A Wedding in the Country is published on 18 February 2021.