Books

A Home from Home – Veronica Henry

Sometimes your name can dictate where your home is meant to be.

The Culbones have always lived in Rushbrook House, across the brook from them is Dragonfly Farm home to the Melchiors. The well to do, rich, higher in society than the rundown farm and the farmers across the water.

The differences between the families goes back years but the feud is still very much in the present and when events unfold after the death of Matthew Melchior it seems perhaps a bridge can be built between these families.

Tabitha and Georgia are Matthew’s great nieces who assume that their Great Uncle Matthew will have left the farm to Tabitha if not both of them. It has been their haven when they were growing up and Tabitha’s home for a long time. The life line she needed to survive.

But Matthew has a surprise for them – the farm is to be split into three. The other benefactor is a Gabriel Culbone.

Why would a Melchior leave something to a Culbone?

Gabriel Culbone is none the wiser and knows nothing of Matthew’s existence or the farm. His mother is no help and his grandmother is in a rapid decline from dementia.

Will the secrets that are revealed through both families go some way to start building bridges?

This book drew me in straight away, two seemingly separate storylines, both fascinating and in contrast to each other were at some point going to have to intertwine – I couldn’t see how (this is sign of a good writer in my humble opinion) and when they did more questions were raised than answered.

There is a lot to take in with the book, especially when you get to all the family relations but as we go back in time to see what happened to more than one of the present characters at no time does it become confusing. There is so much to learn and piece together it will have you reading well past your bedtime.

A family saga set in Somerset, with secrets, cider, romance, friendship, new beginnings and a place for everyone to call home.

A fine example of Veronica Henry’s work which I have been reading for a long while and they keep getting better and better.

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

A Home from Home is published on 25 July. 

 

 

Books

The Foyles Bookshop Girls – Elaine Roberts

I cannot resist a book about books or book shops and that was the main reason of course for picking this title. But the title and the cover do not really do it justice.

This is a lovely wartime saga set at the outbreak of the First World War where the world was a different place and the excitement and buzz from fighting was nothing like the true horrors of the men that returned.

The characters of the book are of course all those who work in Foyles, in particular Alice, Victoria and Molly. I of course loved the little insights into the workings of the shop – to have to go and pay at a counter and take a receipt back so you could collect the book you had purchased.

But the three girls and their lives are what drives this book forward. Alice has been in love with Freddie ,a policeman for a while, in fact he was there when Victoria lost her parents and now war is coming, the future is very different and he wants to make sure Alice remains the girl for him.

Victoria is struggling with her two siblings who she has sole responsibility for financial and emotional and it is becoming increasingly difficult to make ends meet. The war helps her family to move toward some sort of purpose.

Molly is always bubbly and bright but when she becomes involved with a man she seems to lose her sparkle and when things end between them and he eventually goes to war, she wonders whether she should have just put up with what she had.

We get to meet their families as well and I was fascinated by Alice’s family dynamic. Her spritely and spirited sister Lily who was out fighting for suffragism against their indomitable father does something even more outstanding  but it is not her who makes their father see what his actions are causing.

Of course the First World War is a dominant feature of this book but I found its approach refreshing and it brought home what was happening on the Home Front as much as in the battlefields. The belief that it would all be over by Christmas of 1914 was clearly believed. But life went on and people still visited the girls in the bookshop – an escape from reality?

This is a strong start to what looks to be a trilogy of books about these women and I cannot wait to go back and see how they are all fairing.

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

The Foyles Bookshop Girls is out now. 

Books

All the Fun of the Fair – Lynda Page

Lynda is a new author to me but I was drawn to the interesting story;

It’s the 1950s and Grundy’s Travelling Fair arrives in town with a bang.

When night falls, the local town is drawn to the Fair. But when the fairgoers head home, the Grundys are left behind. Hours are long and the work back-breaking. But family and friends hold things together.

Gemma married into the lifestyle, her reliable husband Solomon making the work worthwhile. Solly’s Dad Samson is still the boss, but his other son, known as Sonny, is getting a reputation…

Times are changing. Can the family – and the fair – survive?

This is a saga (and it looks like the first of many books) which centres on the Grundy family and their lives and most of all the fair they own, run and travel with around the country. If you thought being in the fair was one of the best jobs in the world then this book will certainly change your mind.

The community of the Grundy Fair is strong and it needs to be with everything that they have to deal with in the pages of the book and this fair season. Gemma made a choice to be with the man she loves, Solomon known as Solly and leave behind another life to live this one. A life that will see them treated as gypsies, tinkers, thieves and vagrants.

Sonny made a choice about love and it seems that his was not going to be the happy ending that he wanted. So he is out to prove a point about people who work in the fair.

Then there is a cast of characters who populate and run the fair, Velda can read the future, predict what happens with her gift, but can anyone guess her secret? Ren and her candy floss may be small but she is feisty and stands up for what she believes in and knows that she needs to be heard.

Donny and Susie, have started married life together for very different reasons. Is the fair the right place to save a marriage.

A girl turns up at many of the stops of the fair, she is looking for someone, but who? And what do the shaven, suited thug looking men want on their frequent visits?

This story has so much packed into it, I thought I would be reading forever, but like all good novels it came to an end and left me wanting more. I was transported to the fair, to the hard work, the back-breaking work in all weathers to bring some joy to people in local villages only a once a year. The strength of friendship and the value of community.

A great read and an author who I want to read more of.

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

All the Fun of the Fair is published on the 19 February.

 

Books · Jottings

January Roundup

Been a funny month, been reading but not had the inclination to blog, then not had the time because I have been knitting and then not had time to knit because I have been working or away. February is more of the same and I cannot wait!

It has been a slow start to the year, especially when I had a week at the beginning to get stuck into some books. But finishing my challenge of 100 in a year seems a long way off at the moment.

Got really into sagas this month and was surprised with Jennifer Wells – The Murderess which had more than the average saga.

I was swept up with Elaine Everest – The Woolworths Girls a book I bought myself last year and wanting to make a dent in actual books thought I would read. Which then led me to read Elaine Everest – Carols at Woolworths so I could continue the tale. The next book is a Christmas one and although I would not normally read such themed books in February it looks like I might have to so I can keep up with all the characters that I have grown to love.

I fell for the latest serialised Holly Hepburn by accident but have read book two now Holly Hepburn – Frosty Mornings at Castle Court now I have started I am going to have to finish!

A book that I wish I had not started and should have not finished was Stuart Turton – The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle the idea of the book sounded great, the delivery of it was clever but it just did nothing for me. I was disappointed with it and with myself for perhaps wasting time on pursuing it to the end.

Sophie Green – The Inaugural meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club – this was an interesting book which took me all the way to the outback, to a cattle station, to Australia. It was a strong female character led novel and it had me intrigued about the isolation. It reminded me of another book I have read by Monica McInerney which then reminded me I have one of hers waiting to be read…….

But in the meantime I picked up another saga to read for a blog tour, a new author to me with a cracking good story to tell.

How was your first month of 2018 reading wise?

 

Books

The Seven Streets of Liverpool – Maureen Lee

It is very hard to write a review on the fourth book in a series when it is some fifteen years plus since  you have read the first three. My memory needed a bit of a refresh and because I did not review books way back then, I felt I was starting to read this book with no prior knowledge.

However, I was soon back in Pearl Street and it was familiar territory. Some characters and events I had remembered others I have forgotten and so I just let the story sweep me along.

The device of using the first and last chapter as part of a ‘reunion’ to be able to tell the story of the characters during the Second World War was rather a waste of pages and words. It brought nothing to the story at all. It could quite easily have been an epilogue in case you needed to fit all the pieces together.

As with the whole Pearl Street series, Lights Out Liverpool, Put Out the Fires, Through the Storm, the characters are strong women and their love for their families and the men they choose, even if they might be a ‘wrong-un’. Add to this the community spirit that was forged during the dark days of the Second World War. Everything was make do and mend and the worry was whether your children were going to be called up if they reached of age and where your husband might be fighting. Add to this the war on the home front and the bombs falling in Liverpool these books though, historical sagas for want of a genre do a wonderful job of giving some insight into social class and life at home during the war.

I have read all of Maureen Lee’s novels, it is almost now a yearly event for when the paperback version of her latest hits the shelves. I will be honest and say that some are a lot stronger than others but if you do want something which is a simple read, then you can do no wrong with this author. I just hope that she does not return to Pearl Street, for I fear I will have to back and reread them first.

Reflecting upon this review I can see that I have actually failed to mention the plot and name any of the characters, that was a choice. I have also not posted a review on Amazon. 

Why?

In a similar vein to reviewing all the Agatha Raisin books I was a bit lost as to what to write about as the story has a rather predictable (perhaps well worn?) plot. Not that that should detract from the overall enjoyment that the book gave me. 

 

Books

The Mill Girl – Rosie Goodwin

The Mill Girl can only be described as a book which is a historical family saga. If you like books in that genre then you are going to love this from Rosie Goodwin. It resonates Catherine Cookson. You can quickly envisage thanks to the writing the places that the characters live and work in. The characters that Rosie Goodwin creates just reinforces it all.

Maryann works at the local cotton mill with her father. Her brother, Benny is down the coal mine. Their sister Violet wants out of what she thinks the squalor of where she is living. She gets an opportunity to break free from this 1850s community in Warwickshire to seek fame and fortune elsewhere. When Benny gets a new job up at the big house, owned by Wesley Marshall, owner of the cotton mill where Maryann works the family breaks apart even further.

Maryann is determined and having lost a lot of people she loves in some tragic circumstances she can see no harm in speaking her mind especially when she believes that what she is saying is true. This leads to further complications and Maryann suddenly finds herself in a very different role.

As we follow this family and its young members as their lives progress we are faced with prejudice, disability, prostitution, scandal, murder, suicide, cruelty, poverty, power, loneliness and love. A whole gambit of issues and emotions is packed into these pages and these characters.

As with all these ‘period’ novels, love and romance are at its core and that you actually don’t have to be very rich to be happy and in love. Having nothing but love makes your world much richer than those of your peers in the case of Maryann and her family.

This book has a lovely feel and shows how the workings of a big house can be made so much easier and harder depending on who is in residence. I wanted to be able to sit with Nellie in the kitchen and share a cup of tea as Ted, Benny, Cissie and the gorgeous Fleur wandered in and out. I wanted to shake some of the residents upstairs for their behaviour and cruelty to others.

It is the kind of book that gets you hooked in and whilst there is plenty going on and a number of subplots, everything is tied up in the end and the ending is going to be a happy and one with justice as well.

It doesn’t matter that you know this, it is how the author takes you to the point of the book which is important and Rosie Goodwin does it so well and skillfully.

Thank you to netgalley for a copy of this book for review. 

The Mill Girl is out now in all formats. 

I am looking forward to reading more Rosie Goodwin. Historical Family Sagas were my books of choice going from teenager to adult and through my university days. It was the easy reading that kept me going I think and also the sense of community and love with ran through a number of these books. 

Books

1022 Evergreen Place – Debbie Macomber

Life is still happening in Cedar Cove for its residents and whilst some are recovering from illness and death. There are others who are embarking on new chapters in their life and they have decided to tell us all about it in this tenth book in the series.

Mary Jo is in love with her neighbour, that is certain. He is equally in love with her and her delightfully daughter who he helped bring into this world one Christmas Eve in his job as a local fire-fighter. Trouble is their relationship is just not getting off to the right start, there are too many secrets and stubbornness in both characters and it looks like they might be going to lose each other. The one thing neither of them want to do is to lose is baby Noelle to her real father. He is simply interested in making trouble and nothing else.

Meanwhile the marriage of Rachel and Bruce is suffering. The problem is Bruce’s daughter Jolene, who whilst once thinking it was a good idea for Rachel to marry her dad, now that it has happened it seems to have not the same effect. You can feel the tension building between them all and it is inevitable something is going to happen. It is just Rachel has a surprise and it looks like it could ruin it for them all. Perhaps she has only one choice.

But this book is not just about these Cedar Cove residents, there are many mentioned as we catch up on their lives. Olivia is recovering well from her cancer. Her brother WIll, seems to have settled back into the area, but women are not falling at his feet as they once did. Grace, Olivia’s friend has a new initiative at the library which seems to be working, and brings together two rather different teenagers. And so it all goes on full circle with their lives intertwining whilst we read what happens.

If you are a fan of sagas, then this is the series for you, but I would go and start at the beginning you will enjoy it much more!

I only have one more of this series to read  – the aim to read it before the end of 2013. 

Books

The Inn at Eagle Point – Sherryl Woods

Abby has spent a number of years away from her home town of Chesapeake Shores only popping back when is needed for family celebrations. However her sister, Jess has always been at home. Being the youngest of the family and the one who was affected most by their parents separation, she feels she has something to prove to everyone.

Jess has a dream of running the Inn at Chesapeake Shores and that dream is becoming a reality but it is coming at a cost a financial cost. Figures and money are not Jess’ strong point. The only place she can turn after the bank issue an ultimatum is her sister Abby.

Abby is the high flying financial whizz and returns to help Jess. Everything should be fine, but the bank’s ultimatum was issued with one simple prerequisite and it is that which suddenly keeps Abby in Chesapeake Shores for longer than a day. Not only does the upheaval affect her, but her children and her ex-husband. Family tensions are stretched to the limit. Will the Inn ever have the grand opening it deserves?

This is a lovely escapist novel where rather than featuring on a number of community characters it is a family orientated one and Abby O’Brien Winters is obviously the choice for this novel. To tighten the setting of the novel, the O’Brien’s  had a hand in building the community and the escapist descriptions of the area, washes over you in delight as you start to get involved with the characters. You can see as the book progress how each of her siblings, her parents and related family will all become stars in their own right as the series of books progresses.

If you are looking for a new series of books in the vein of Debbie Macomber then I can see this series will be ideal for you and The Inn at Eagle Point is the first.

I am torn with this novel. It covers some serious issues such as divorce and family breakdown, disabilities as well as good old fashioned romance and it is done well. Why am I torn? I think it is because I don’t think I can get into another “series” at the moment. Much as I want to. 

For me at the moment the similarity to Debbie Macomber is quite strong and it has reminiscent of her Cedar Cove series. I do know that Macomber has now released the first in a new series of books (her Cedar Cove one is at an end and I only have a few to catch up on) and that book is called The Inn at Rose Harbor (American spelling). Mmm can you see what I am thinking? 

I think the decision to be made here is that I need to finish the Cedar Cove series (one of my 2012 challenges) and then perhaps see what I feel like in reading another series so similar. I can always keep Sherryl Woods in my back pocket for the  future!