Sunday, 31 May 2020

The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page - A Well-Written, Captivating Story

I loved The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page; it was so interesting! What a follow-up to The Lido!
It is a feel good, well written, captivating story about twenty-four hours in Stella's all night café near Liverpool Street Station. It focuses on two friends, Hannah and Mona who met at a friend's party, and who share a flat together as well as working together at Stella's. They work separate shifts, twelve hours on and twelve hours off but on this day, things begin to change.
It is 12am and the first twelve hours follow Hannah's shift as she watches and serves the lonely, the alone, the happy and the sad. Her own story is revealed through her thoughts: her dreams of becoming a singer; her anguish about her ex-boyfriend, Jaheim, and her long friendship with Mona.
Libby Page also takes several of the customers and illustrates their stories to form a rich patchwork of human relationships e.g. the homeless student, Dan; the couple in their sixties, Martha and Harry and Monique, the first time mother. Cleverly, each story is memorable in its own right.
But it is at 11am when Hannah gets a text from Mona that things begin to change.
When Mona arrives to take over from Hannah, Libby Page picks up her story as the shift progresses, about her dreams of becoming a professional dancer, her relationship with Hannah and the events that have led up to today.
It is a thoroughly engrossing story, and one that I was sorry to finish. I'm looking forward to the next book by Libby Page very much!

Sunday, 17 May 2020

The Strawberry Thief by Joanne Harris - Mysterious and Magical

Returning to Lasquenet-sous-Tannes is like returning to a favourite French village after many  years. Vianne Rocher's chocolaterie is still there in the village square, along with Narcisse's flower shop and Francis Reynaud's church, but a chill wind is blowing and snow is falling from the clear blue sky. Someone will be dead before dawn. This is how Joanne Harris starts her fourth novel in the series which began with Chocolat twenty years ago.
It is Narcisse who has died, leaving his valuable woodland to Rosette, Vianne's strange youngest daughter who is only sixteen years old, much to the disgust of Narcisse's daughter, Michèle.
He used to call Rosette his Strawberry Thief because she would eat his wild strawberries, but Michèle can't understand why he should leave her the land.
This story is told from the points of view of Vianne, Rosette, and Reynaud, and also through a confession that Narcisse has written to him before his death, whilst Morgane Dubois arrives to open a new business in Narcisse's empty shop. But who is she and what does she want?
Mysteries abound as the wind changes, forcing changes in the lives of those living in Lasquenet, and revealing many parallels between them.
This another wonderful mysterious, magical novel about this entrancing place and its people and I really enjoyed it so much that I think I will go back and, starting with Chocolat, read the series all over again.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Coming Up Roses by Rachael Lucas - The Perfect Book to Relax with in the Garden

If you are looking for the perfect book to relax with in the garden, then Coming Up Roses by Rachael Lucas is the one for you.
Daisy has arrived in Steeple St John to house-sit for her parents whilst they are on a gap year trip to India and also to look after their elderly golden retriever, Polly. Daisy studied horticulture at agricultural college, and after a disasterous relationship there, she's glad to get away and immerse herself in putting her parents' garden to rights.
She quickly gets involved with village life after dousing Elaine with her hose by mistake, and being invited to her house where she meets Jo, a counsellor at Elaine's husband's school. She also becomes friendly with eighty-five-year-old Thomas, a gardener who knows most of the gardens in the village. There is also Ned, a local vet, who she meets a the Parish council meetings and George, the gorgeous Irishman with blue eyes who is out to steal her heart.
Rachael Lucas has written a great representation of village life led by the formidable, Flora, the leader of the Parish council whom Daisy and Ned find so funny, but all this is challenged by the developers who want to build three executive homes in the garden of Orchard Villa when Daisy's parents decide to put it up for sale.
I really enjoyed this warm-hearted, funny book and it is the third novel that I've read by Rachael Lucas this year. I can thoroughly recommend it.

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Secrets of Santorini by Patricia Wilson - A Passionate Romance with a Totally Gripping Mystery

Main photo from
It didn't look as if I'd be going on my holiday to the Greek Islands this year, so I bought Secrets of Santorini by Patricia Wilson instead and I've really loved it!
It is a passionate romance with a totally gripping mystery, told in turn by Bridget, and Irini, her daughter.
In about 1990, Bridget, an archeology student, in Dublin, falls in love with her professor, Tommy McGuire who is fifteen years older. Because such an affair isn't acceptable, he resigns and goes to Santorini to do some research on finding Atlantis. Bridget then gives up her course and flies out to join him and they get married.
On the day that they find Queen Thira's dragonfly necklace which could be the key to solving the mystery of Atlantis, he has an heart attack and Bridget has to sell the necklace to pay for his operation and hospital stay. At the same time, she find out that she's pregnant.
At night, her dreams are full of Queen Thira who rules Atlantis with her ten kings and her battle with Poseidon for some land in Crete where they can escape to when the volcano that Atlantis sits on erupts.
In the present day, Irini, Bridget and Tommy's daughter, has never felt loved and wanted by her parents. At the age of five, she was shipped back to Ireland to boarding school. Now her parents have returned to Dublin, but her mother cannot stay away from Santorini, so she goes back.
Tommy is ill, but Bridget is now also seriously injured in hospital in Crete so Irini goes there to try find out why her parents have always been so distant, and to see her mother one last time. At Heraklion airport, a Greek man rescues her suitcase from the carousel and clumsily, she drives her trolley over his foot. Later, in her hire car, she knocks a man off his bicycle, breaking his arm, and it's him! He's called Angelo, and after this very shaky start, they fall in love and he helps her with her quest.
Why have Irini's parents always been so distant?
Why was Bridget compelled to go back to Santorini?
Why were Bridget's dreams full of the story of Queen Thira and her daughter, Oia?
What happened to the dragonfly necklace that Bridget sold?
This unputdownable novel is told against the very realistic backdrop of Santorini and Crete, nestling in the blue Aegean Sea. Even a neighbour noisily mowing his grass, couldn't pull me away from this story. Fantastic!
And even more fantastic, another book by Patricia Wilson, Greek Island Escape, is out on April 16th!

Sunday, 5 April 2020

A Nice Cup of Tea by Celia Imrie - An Adventure, A Mystery, A Comedy and A Delightful Romp

A Nice Cup of Tea by Celia Imrie is a perfect book to relax with and dream that you are sunning yourself on the French Riviera. So pour out that tea, or a nice glass of wine and enjoy!
I haven't read the first two books about the group of retired expats who buy a restaurant in Bellevue-sur-Mer, although I have read Sail Away which I loved, so I certainly will read the others now.
This one begins when they are hoping La Mosaïque will be saved by the sale of a valuable mosaic thought to be by Picasso, but that all falls through at the last moment and Theresa, Sally, William, Benjamin and Carol are left trying to save their restaurant with hilarious and surprising results.
This book has everything from a stalker who seems to be following Theresa;  a runaway, Theresa's granddaughter, Chloe; bankruptcy, La Mosaïque; the glamorous world of filming, Sally; sailing, Sally again; the French Rivera, a beautiful backdrop to the story; and drugs, don't ask!
It is an adventure, a mystery, a comedy and a delightful romp with a cast of wonderful characters which I thoroughly enjoyed and I hope that you will too.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Staying at Home This Year? Why Not Travel by Book? - Part Two

No one is going to be travelling anywhere for time being, so what better than to immerse yourself in one of these wonderful novels that are due out this summer? These are by some of my favourite authors, and I'm looking forward to settling down, indoors or out, and sailing away with them!

From Venice with Love by Rosanna Ley out on June 25th -  Destination Venice
I have travelled all over the world with Rosanna Ley since reading her first book, The Villa, which was set in Sicily. I love her books because she always makes the setting a key part of the story.
I'm looking forward to this one because it starts in Dorset, and goes to Lisbon and Prague before reaching Venice. A wonderful trip indeed!
It is about two sisters: Harriet who is struggling to run the family farm and Joanna who returns home only to set off again to solve the mystery of Emmy, who wrote the bundle of illustrated love letters which she finds.

The 24 Hour Café by Libby Page was due out on June 25th, but now it's been put back to February 18th 2021, but we can still read it on Kindle or in hardback. Personally, I prefer a paperback, but there you go! - Destination, Your local café
I'm looking forward to reading Libby's second book because I enjoyed her worldwide success, The Lido, so much.
If you are missing your local café, because of social distancing, this will one be a treat. Stella's café is open for twenty-four hours each day and everyone is welcome. Hannah and Mona work there and have dreams of their own, but during one twenty-four hours, their friendship will be tested, lives will be changed and the community will come together.

The Family Holiday by Elizabeth Noble also due out on June 25th - Destination, not sure! Looks like a bit of a magical mystery tour as there is little information available about it online.
Anyway, I've enjoyed all her other Sunday Times best selling novels over the years, so I'm sure this one will be no different. The blurb says it's about 'the joys and heartbreak of a family divided and reunited', so I'll be glad to go wherever it takes me.

Kate and Clara's Curious Cornish Craft Shop by Ali MacNamara due out on July 23rd - Destination, Cornwall!
Earlier this year, I read all Ali's Notting Hill trilogy, and also once again enjoyed Step Back in Time which you must read if you love The Beatles!
However, I have read all her more recent books too because they always have a wonderful touch of magic.
Kate has at last opened her quirky craft shop selling her handmade textile designs. However, some embroidered pictures and mysterious paintings hint about a sixty-year-old love affair, which Jack, who runs the local art shop, helps her to solve, resulting in the discovery of many similarities between them and the 1950s pair.  I can't wait to find out what happens!

Escape to the French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas due out on July 9th - Destination, Provence
Jo is another of my favourite authors, and I have read all her books since her very first, The Oyster Catcher, which came out in 2014. All her books have been about food and love, from oysters to lemons! This one is about baking with lavender.
After a disastrous six weeks in Provence, Del and her husband, Ollie, decide to return home, but as the removal van drives away, she decides that a new life in France without him would bring her the most happiness. She finds a recipe book at the market which Fabian runs and begins to bake, but will this really bring her the joy she desires?

I hope that you will enjoy my selection of novels and try some new authors. Travelling by book is much cheaper than your usual holiday, after all!
If you missed Part One, you can find it here.
Happy travelling!

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Finding Hope at Hillside Farm by Rachel Lucas - A Great Read for Mother's Day

What better title could you want at the moment and what better book to cheer you up?
Finding Hope at Hillside Farm  by Rachael Lucas certainly fits the bill.
Ella's Aunt Bron goes off to Australia for six months, leaving her to run Hillside Farm. She enlists the help of local girl, Charlotte with her ever-changing hair colour, to help her run her equine therapy business.
One day Ella sees a strange young girl peering through a hedge at her. She finds out her name is Hope and she has come with her grandparents, Jenny and Lou, to spend six months in Llanidaeron in a rented cottage. They, along with Hope's father, Harry, are all trying to come to terms with the death of Hope's mother, Sarah, five years ago.
Eventually, Hope comes to the stables as Ella's first child client, and learning to gain confidence with the horses helps her with confidence in her own life.
Through Hope, Ella finds that she comes to terms with her own past which means that she can now make the most of her own life as well.
Rachael Lucas describes life perfectly in this Welsh village with all its wonderful characters, and I found it such a joy to read.