The Lake House – Christie Barlow

I have been in Heartcross since the very beginning, a village in Scotland which is unique because the love that emanates from the whole community will drag you in and hold you there in its heart. That goes for the readers as well as the characters!

Callie brings her friend, Ella to live with her in Heartcross. Ella has hit rock bottom over the last 6 months or so after losing her parents, her heart and her inheritance. She needs to escape and recuperate and what better place than with Callie the only friend who stood by her.

Sharing a flat with Callie, Ella gets to meet her new neighbour Dolores, who is a star. She has a past and when Ella discovers that her past involves singing and singing at The Lake House where Ella is now working it seems that everything is meant to be.

The Lake House whilst trying to be unique as a restaurant (it is only accessible by boat) is losing money and they need to do something to keep a float. As does Roman the boat’s main skipper to the restaurant, he is trying to keep it all together when life has dealt him a bitter blow and he needs some support.

In steps Ella and Dolores and what follows is a captivating tale of showing everyone that there is always a second chance and even a last chance in life to have what you want and be loved wholeheartedly.

If you have been in Heartcross since the beginning then you will see some of the regular characters pop in and out of the story, but this book’s focus is very much on Ella, Roman and Dolores. There is some real depth to the storyline and some frightening episodes which make you question what we believe and who we trust.

A novel that had me hooked and I devoured it quickly as I was so invested in Ella and what had happened to her, that I wanted to see her succeed and show that she and in fact everyone can come back stronger.

Great addition to the series and I implore you to read them all – you won’t be disappointed.


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

The Lake House is out now. 


Books · Knitting

December Roundup

What a December, one of the quietest I have had in a long time from a work perspective. Normally the three weeks proceeding the big day are some of the busiest with functions, lunches, Santa visits and masses of paperwork proceeding audits, etc. As work has changed and will continue to do so in the coming months, I have had to find a new sort of normal, a common phrase we hear now.

But what of the books you say? Well I had already hit my target of 100 going into December so it was a case of seeing how many I could get to by the 31st.

The last book of the year was Rosie Goodwin – The Blessed Child a real chunky saga, which curled up on the sofa under a blanket was the best place to read it. I was transported to tales similar to that of Catherine Cookson and I must go back for some others.

Going back for more is why I went to join the delightful Daisy and Hazel in Robin Stevens – Mistletoe and Murder. Although aimed at a much younger market, I still feel slightly indulgent reading such a book, but these are much better than some adult aimed books that I have read over the years.

Keeping it still Christmas was Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas, continuing the adventures of the Big Red Bus full of cream teas in Cornwall. You know that Christmas is going to be a magical time and whoever comes on the bus is going to have their hearts and heads turned.

It is always great to carry on with a series, whether it be familiar characters or places. I am an avid fan of Heidi Swain but have only just got round to reading her first novel Heidi Swain – The Cherry Tree Café. The book you could say where it all began and now having completed them all, I am itching for her next.

When you find an author you love, you can get a little impatient to wait for their newest work. So discovering authors when they have a oeuvre to work through normally keeps all of that at bay. So I went back to one I had not read Katie Fforde – A Springtime Affair, it had been languishing on my Kindle for a while so I delighted in the spring weather during a winter cold snap. The perfect tonic.

Jeeves and Wooster have always provided me with tonic of some sort and the homage I read in November was closely followed by the new one Ben Schott – Jeeves and the Leap of Faith. Sheer utter spiffing joy – I need to go back to some Wodehouse. I rue the day I gave away my books.

I wish I had given away this book, or at least as it was on my Kindle given up on it Sarah Pearse – The Sanatorium. A book that promised something it did not deliver. Not the right book for me at the time of picking it up. Though I acknowledge some have loved it and it will no doubt feature on many blogs.

I started to see Sarah Steele – The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon on books of the year posts and knew I had yet to get round to it. So to make a dent in my forever expanding netgalley list, I picked it up. Now I know what everyone was on about and really wish I had read it sooner. A wonderful dual narrative novel with a great vehicle of telling a story.

I would like to say I was ahead of the game in terms of books published next year – sadly I am not, but no matter because the one to look out for so far is Joanna Nell – The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home. Humorous, bittersweet and with a touch of ‘what if’ this is a lovely read from a relatively new untapped author. Do check out this and her other two books if you get the chance.

So that was December, there was a lot of reading what I wanted with no pressure. I think that is a good mantra to start 2021’s reading with.

As for my favourites for the year….. I have not quite decided yet…….more to follow soon.


A Springtime Affair – Katie Fforde

What better way to avoid all the doom and gloom than to read a Katie Fforde book and one full of bright, optimism and spring cheer.

Spring always heralds new beginnings and it is no different it seems for mother and daughter Gilly and Helena.

Gilly is happy with running her bespoke B & B she enjoys the work and meeting people and embraces the little touches that make her establishment stand out from the rest – like homemade shortbread! Leo though arrives in her life rather unexpectedly and his chosen career of estate agent might come in useful if Gilly decides to move on.

Helena is about to lose her home and whilst she knows that she can go home, her weaving loom does take up rather a lot of room. When a chance encounter to help new landlord Jago leads to some interesting events, it seems that Jago is a chance encounter worth pursuing.

In the meantime, Helena’s brother Martin and obsessive wife Cressida have other ideas about how Gilly should be spending her days. They seem rather in conflict in the way Gilly wants to spend them. Helena is also struggling to see the image of her mother that Martin is trying to portray.

Surely the new blossoms of spring will come to fully bud and the dead weeds will disappear forever?

This is a joyous book which takes you through family dynamics and new love. Added to this is the delicious recipes of Gilly and the wonderful creations of Helena’s weaving which make this a true Katie Fforde book.


A must for all fans and for anyone who wishes to escape. Perfect reading to soothe the soul. 

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


Books · Jottings

November Roundup

Well only one month to go in 2020, thank goodness though I don’t think we are out of the woods just yet. But November was a month where I hit my annual target of 100 books – such a satisfying feeling and also a month where I have just simply read and not worried (well not too much) about the never ending netgalley request list.

So what was on my November shelf?

Only one Christmas book, I think I reached peak Christmas in the previous couple of months but Anne Marie Ryan – The Six Tales of Christmas was a quiet tale reminiscence of previous American styled Christmas novels that I read. It’s message was very lovely though.

Of course snow for many equals Christmas but the snow in Catherine Cooper – The Chalet was a lot more sinister and this debut thriller novel is one to watch out for. Excellent and kept me hooked quite happily and made a change from all the ‘nice’ books.

To contrast the snow what better than to go back to summer with Cressida McLaughlin – The Cornish Cream Tea Summer where I caught up with old friends and made some new ones on the lovely bus in Cornwall and with an added dollop of actors as well as clotted cream this made for a great read. I rushed out to buy the next in the series and have started that within the last couple of days of November.

Cornwall was the setting of Raynor Winn – The Salt Path a book leant to me by a friend who thought I would enjoy it. I did. I knew nothing of the South West Costal path and it was a joy to read an ‘actual’ book where I could quite happily flick back to the map at the beginning so I could see locations and get a sense of place. One of the downsides of kindle reading is this ability. Wild camping is not something I would want to do, but certainly walking and in Cornwall is a place I would like to be.

More Cornwall was featured in Emma Burstall – A Cornish Secret and Emma Burstall – The Girl Who Came Home to Cornwall. The latter of the two novels I had on my kindle for ages meaning to be read, but knowing it was book five and I had omitted to read book four and it turns out I bought that ages ago to. Anyway, enough of the procrastinating as I know I enjoy this author immensely so I just went from one to the other and it was delightful to just keep reading about the same place, same characters like watching a continuing drama without the break. I do wonder if Emma Burstall has any more plans for Tremarnock.

Now as there are six Mitford sisters, I know that there is more to follow after Jessica Fellowes – The Mitford Trial. These are really excellent novels and I got a lovely response on Twitter from the author, because I ‘got the book’ in the way she intended it to be written. I had to go and reread my review just in case I had said something insightful – well I can’t see it. But if the author is happy and then I am happy as the plots of all of these books are great and really tap into my love of history.

Feeling rather ‘out of sorts’ about many things, like many people across the globe no doubt. So I picked up Ben Schott – Jeeves and the King of Clubs again this was because I got the latest Schott novel featuring Jeeves and Wooster through netgalley and realised I had not read the first of these homages. It was spiffing, tip top and everything you would expect from Wodehouse and I have read many over the years. It was a sheer delight to be back in their world and I rush to read the latest and go back and relieve some of Wodehouse’s best. My heart was fair cheered.

Not a bad month overall and I made a dent in some old books on my netgalley list as well as reading some ‘actual’ books, I really much prefer this way, but the kindle has let me read so many more I probably would not have read. It’s a conundrum for many an avid reader I am sure?

So what was on your November shelf? Any plans for December?


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.


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. 


August Roundup

So what was your August like – as you planned? Or like most people’s taking it as it comes. As the world around us changes, pivots, tilts and decides what is going to happen next I have sought much solace from being at home, reading, crafting and just being. Luckily enough now I can go back swimming which has been an absolute balm to soothe and has helped my mental health no end. As I go back to work and wait to find out what happens in terms of hours and contracts I just hope that all the things that help me continue to do so.

August was a real mix of books and were just what was needed – Louise Candlish – The Disappearance of Emily Marr has been sat on my shelf for awhile and as I make some dents in these books I picked this one up. The first I have read by this author and it was different from perhaps what I am used to and was a great change, I must seek more of her work out. Sometime you need a book that finishes and you just don;t know what happens!

Of course when it comes to murder mystery you have to know what happens, otherwise what would be the point! The book you will no doubt see a lot of is Richard Osman – The Thursday Murder Club. Sadly the formatting on the advanced copy was poor and that did make it harder to read, but once I got over my fastidious and got into the book I was hooked. If you want a book that says everything about being British – then this is it.

Of course if you want fastidious then look no further than Hercule Poirot. I can accept a tribute to such a great character and a great author and I know there are some naysayers out there but Sophie Hannah – The Killings at Kingfisher Hall is an excellent novel and a great introduction to good old fashioned golden age murder mystery.

Sticking with the golden age theme then picking up Anthony Horowitz – Moonflower Murders which took be back to Atticus Pund and his author Alan Conway, it is a novel within a novel. And if you think that can’t possibly work – trust me it does.

A book with no definite chapters can be a troubling read – it can work and it can fail spectacularly and reminds me of a colleague who writes emails and notices in a stream of what I can only call verbal diarrhoea. However when it works it works brilliantly as it does with Lissa Evans – V for Victory. A book that takes you to the heart of the conclusion of the war on the home front and the devastation still be wrought across London.

If you want devastation then imagine not having enough hay to feed the animals for the next year, or enough lambs to be able to sell or breed. Imagine doing that miles from any where and with nine children in tow. Well known on the television for their programme on Channel 5. I picked up Amanda Owen – The Yorkshire Shepherdess, Amanda Owen – A Year in the Life of The Yorkshire Shepherdess and Amanda Owen – Adventures of the Yorkshire Shepherdess as a treat for not having a holiday this year. Amazing, what a life and again there is many critical of her chosen life and the way she has decide to raise her children – but I feel that they will be more well rounded adults than many of their generation to come. Their playground is acres of land and if that is the only way you can enjoy the outdoors then I implore you to read the books and watch the programmes.

Books are a great place to escape to other places and what better than to experience Holly Martin – Autumn Skies over Ruby Falls who manages to always achieve this and throws in a big dollop of romance too. I am booked into visit Jewel Island again I hope.

I also want to go and stay in Christie Barlow – Starcross Manor or even the little B & B in Heartcross because I know I will be welcome and there will be plenty of people to catch up on and you can walk for miles, breathe the fresh air and reconnect with nature.

Of course it can be whatever season you wish but what better than a Katie Fforde – A Rose Petal Summer where I was taken from London to Scotland to France and all back again. I simply enjoy Katie’s novels and they are just like old friends, pick one up and you are immediately whisked away.

Talking of old friends what about when you have made a pact with your oldest friends that it is the three of you forever? What happens to Ruth Jones – Us Three life has a funny way of making it a lot harder than you imagined and perhaps only giving you things you can actually deal with. Some friendships are just not meant to be forever.

Friendship betrayal and forgiveness can lead to all sorts of disaster and even escaping to Helen Rolfe – The Little Cottage in Lantern Square can have consequences . When it threatens your whole world surly the answer is to confront it head on and not run away again?

I don’t think I was disappointed with any of these books they all proved to be the right books at the right time. Serendipitous you could say!

How was you August?



The Little Cottage in Lantern Square – Helen Rolfe

Hannah is running a business from her little cottage in Lantern Square – Tied up with String. Bringing individual and unique care packages to anyone who requests one. Her only company is her two cats Smokey and Bandit. It is far cry from the life she left behind, a high powered accountancy job, a man with even higher aspirations and a best friend.

Now it is just her and Hannah is adapting to life in Butterbury where Lantern Square is based and she is throwing herself into community life. We get to meet the gardener Rhys, the local Doctor Joe, the rather fearsome next door neighbour Mrs Leadbetter as well as some more interesting characters in the local old peoples home where Hannah volunteers.

This book has a real community feel about it and as Hannah starts to fit in, her past starts to appear.

Luke the man she left to come to Butterbury seeks her out and tries to make her see that she was making a mistake by leaving him. Trouble is Hannah’s heart is torn when she finds herself interested in others in the village. Luke is going to have to work hard to win her back, but is he trying too hard?

Then Georgia her former best friend appears, begging forgiveness for an event from their past and Hannah looking for the good in everyone thinks that maybe it is time to move on. But there is something about Georgia that just does not sit right with Hannah and she doesn’t know what it is?

As the year progresses and events within the community show how much Hannah loves being in Lantern Square and she soon realises where she should be and who she should be with. But will it all happen in time?

This is a great comforting read that can be devoured in pretty much one sitting as you feel you are part of the place, you know the characters so well; some lovely, some downright destructive. The events described make you want to join in and feel part of something. It all jumps off the page with great warmth.

Previously published in four part novellas, this is the complete story in one book – a way I much prefer. This book won’t leave you disappointed which the previous one I read did, sometimes books just hit the right spot and this one certainty did.


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

The Little Cottage on Lantern Square is published on 20 August. 



Escape to the French Farmhouse – Jo Thomas

Although I have seen this author’s name around before, this is the first time I have picked up one of her books to read and I was not disappointed. I will search out more by this author for the future.

Del and Ollie have moved to a rambling farmhouse in Provence, France. It has not worked in healing the gaping chasms in their marriage and after six weeks – they are due to return to the UK.

Expect in a whim, completely out of character Del decides to stay and watches as her husband drives away from their life.

Now all alone, Del is faced with starting her life again. What can she do? How will she pay for the house?

Del finds herself drawn to the friendly locals and has more in common with their lifestyle than the expats who have set up home and are trying to a piece of Britain abroad.

Upon finding an old recipe book she discovers that lavender was used extensively in cooking and tries out a few recipes. Encouraged by Fabian who runs the local antique come junk shop who provides her with more than just furnishings for her farmhouse. He introduces her to more locals and also to someone who can help her reinvigorated the lavender fields that once dominated the countryside.

Armed with new friends, a new outlook and a new project it looks like Del is staring to find out who she is in the backdrop of love, loss and lavender.

This book has everything you could possibly want – warm sunshine, the scent of lavender (if that is your thing), the mouth watering recipes created by Del and the food at the bistro, the joy of helping those less fortunate than yourself and the sharing of all of this to create a great summery read.

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

Escape to the French Farmhouse is out now on kindle or in paperback on 6 August. 

Have you read any Jo Thomas? Which book should I go to next?

Books · Jottings

July Roundup

As 2020 ambles along, the reading has been keeping apace and I seem to be devouring more books and spending more time with reading, crafts and jigsaws than I do television. The best bit about July was that first length in the outdoor pool at the gym on the 26th July. Sheer utter bliss!

Of course it is the books you are most interested in – so without further ado.

Proper sagas are what is missing in some of my previous reading months and years and I have found that whenever I go back to them, I seem to what to read more and more. Dilly Court – The Constant Heart a story to get lost in and that I did, I am sure I enjoyed it more by the feel of the book in my hand – I read a tremendous amount on my kindle (thanks to netgalley) but you cannot beat that feeling of being lost in a story and pages and holding on to it in your hands.

Joanna Rees – The Hidden Wife, is the second in a trilogy about the era of the Bright Young Things, the 1920s. This time action in the main has moved to Paris and as the story develops on one side of the channel, the past is stirring things up at home for all the main characters.

Moving forward a few decades got me to Cathy Mansell – The Dublin Girls, although read on kindle this is another author who if you are looking for something of the Catherine Cookson variety, then you have found it. Set in 1950s Ireland it is a great example of fiction that captures you and holds your attention to the very end.

Of course murder mysteries and thrillers can hold your attention too as did Simon Mayo – Knife Edge – the opening few pages have you right in the heart of the plot and the story and whilst I did think it got a bit “ploddy” for a while it soon picked up pace and had your heart racing to the denouement.

Talking of denouements is a great plot to segway into Agatha Christie – The Man in the Brown Suit, which was the Read Christie 2020 book for July. One I have never read, very different from a Poirot and a Marple but with the familiar face of Colonel Race who you see in other Christie novels. Another books ticked off my Christie list.

Chattering as I am about lists, I have add a new author for me to catch up on and read more of since I gave Jo Thomas – Escape to the French Farmhouse a go. I was swept away to the french countryside and the lavender fields, the glorious food and the love of a simple life. I cannot think of any better way in escaping the world than with a book like this.

You cannot always escape your past and sometimes it comes back to not just haunt you but to weave its way into your present day as it does with Emma Davies – The Wife’s Choice. A move away from perhaps what you are used to and this was an wonderful look at dysfunctional families and lives that need to move on.

Of course with dysfunctional families you cannot always go back to places you knew as a child but soemtimes you are drawn there as in Trisha Ashley – The Garden of Forgotten Wishes. Trisha’s books get better and better and this is no exception. And for those who cannot get into a garden for whatever reason, read this book – all the hard work without the muddy hands and aching back!

And of course we all like a happy ending, a good old fashioned wedding and a bit of a cry and Caroline Roberts – Summer at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry delivers that in spades. What I assume is the end of series of books featuring Rachel and all her delightful cooking came to a satisfying conclusion. I look forward to reading what comes next from this author. (In the meantime I a Chocolate Shop to visit).

So that was July, a mix of genres as I need to be reminded that life is not all sunny and roses, but in the main I spent my time simply enjoying all the stories.

And there is plenty more to come in August.

How was your July? Anything you wish to recommend?