Books I have loved recently

In my last blog post I said I was going to do a rundown of my favourite spooky reads, but the week passed, and so did Halloween, and I didn’t do it.  It feels a bit silly writing that post now, when everyone’s pumpkins have been made into soup or gone into the compost, so instead here are some books I have read – and loved – recently.  They include one very spooky story, so I haven’t entirely failed on the Halloween theme.

This is going to hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor – Adam Kay

I am possibly the last person in the world to read this book, which has been on the bestseller lists for forever, but I am so glad I did.  It is one of the funniest books I have ever read; almost every page had me laughing out loud, wincing or cringing in pain, disgust or sheer incredulity.  It is also a total eye-opener – one NHS doctor’s perspective of the never-ending shifts, sacrifices and horrendous situations they have to deal with on a daily basis.  In many places, it’s heartbreaking.  A brilliant book that everyone should read.  Entertaining, but also very important.  Here’s the blurb:

IMG_8132Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay’s This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward.

 

The Witch of Willow Hall – Hester Fox 

I’m not generally a fan of a witchy book.  Ghosts, yes, but witches, not so much – until I read this book.  Set in 19th Century America, Lydia’s family have to flee Boston following a family scandal and end up in beautiful, but isolated, Willow Hall.  Lydia soon realises that not everything is quite as it seems, and she is forced to face up to the fact that the strange goings on might have as much to do with her as with their new home.  I was utterly captivated by this book; it is subtly, menacingly spooky, but it’s also full of warmth and heart, and there’s a romantic thread that kept me pressing my Kindle page turn button (or whatever it’s called) relentlessly.  I read most of it in a day, and Hester Fox is on my ‘auto buy’ list as a result.  Historical, atmospheric, romantic fiction to drool over.  Here’s the blurb:

IMG_0259Growing up Lydia Montrose knew she was descended from the legendary witches of Salem but was warned to never show the world what she could do and so slowly forgot her legacy. But Willow Hall has awoken something inside her…

1821: Having fled family scandal in Boston Willow Hall seems an idyllic refuge from the world, especially when Lydia meets the previous owner of the house, John Barrett.

But a subtle menace haunts the grounds of Willow Hall, with strange voices and ghostly apparitions in the night, calling to Lydia’s secret inheritance and leading to a greater tragedy than she could ever imagine.

Can Lydia confront her inner witch and harness her powers or is it too late to save herself and her family from the deadly fate of Willow Hall?

The Duchess Deal – Tessa Dare 

I’m not sure whether I should admit this or not, but . . . here goes:  This was my first ever Mills and Boon book.  I know.  I hang my head.  But it is definitely not going to be my last!  The Duchess Deal is brilliant in so many ways.  It has a wonderful, strong heroine in Emma, and Ash is the perfect hot, tortured hero.  Now I’ve put them in those boxes, I have to explain that they are not cardboard cut-outs – far from it.  They’re both warm, human, flawed.  I love them!  Their story is dizzyingly romantic, seriously sizzling and so, so funny.  The best way I can think of describing it is like (very) adult Disney.  It’s the first one in a series – hurrah – so there is lots of loveliness to come.  Here is the blurb:

IMG_3135When the Duke of Ashbury returns from war scarred, he realises he needs an heir – which means he needs a wife! When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress visits wearing a wedding dress, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
– They will be husband and wife by night only.
– No lights, no kissing.
– No questions about his battle scars.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has secrets and some rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And teasing.
– Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson 

I mentioned in my last blog post how much I loved the Netflix series inspired by this book, and I’d had this on my shelf for a while, so just before Halloween I picked it as my next read.  The original story is quite different to the series, though they do pay homage to it in lots of ways, and I enjoyed spotting the elements they’d used and how they’d adapted them.

In the book, Eleanor is invited to join a scientist as part of a small party investigating Hill House, which has supposedly had spooky goings-on happening in it for years.  She is a mixture of excitement and nerves, and when she arrives at Hill House it has an immediate effect on her.  Eleanor is so relatable; she wants to fit into the group and be liked, to be part of something.  But as the story progresses, things in the house become more and more sinister, and Eleanor starts to change.

This book sucks you in.  It is a masterclass in tension and slow-burning horror, and the atmosphere is overwhelming.  If you want to hold onto that Halloween feeling, then I would definitely recommend this.  Here is the blurb:

ACS_0224Four seekers have arrived at the rambling old pile known as Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of psychic phenomena; Theodora, his lovely assistant; Luke, the future inheritor of the estate; and Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman with a dark past. As they begin to cope with horrifying occurrences beyond their control or understanding, they cannot possibly know what lies ahead. For Hill House is gathering its powers – and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

Shudder.

 

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Which are your favourites?

I’m currently reading A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys, which is turning out to be as good as Fatal Inheritance – her second book.  I also have the new Karen Swan, The Christmas Lights, to devour – my first festive read of 2018.

I’d love to hear what you’re reading, and loving, at the moment.

Happy reading!

Cress xx

 

 

Cornwall, Somerset and The End

I haven’t posted on here for ages, mainly because I’ve been eyeballs-deep in my new book.  I’ve been dreaming up complicated situations for my heroine and hero to get into, creating a supporting cast of loveable/amusing/annoying characters, and imagining beautiful settings they can visit.  I wrote those two, blissful words this morning: The End.  So now the first draft is done, and the hard work starts.  I am itching to say more about this book, and I should hopefully be able to fairly soon!

This is my first week back at my desk after a couple of weeks away.  At the beginning of October, David and I went to Cornwall for a week’s holiday.  We hadn’t been at this time of year before, and apart from a couple of very windy days and one that was a continuous downpour, forcing us to stay inside and read, (what a shame), we had gorgeous weather.

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Hayles Beach, spreading out forever in the sunshine – and what great clouds!

Highlights were the lovely Trebah Gardens, a wonderful garden set in a valley, full of beautiful and exotic plants that thrive on the climate; Hayles beaches, which goes on for miles (and reminded me of 75 mile beach on Fraser Island in Australia), and watching the sun set over the sea while eating Rick Stein’s fish and chips.  I didn’t type a word in anger, though I did do lots of thinking and plotting and soaking up of scenery.

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Watching the sun set over the brilliantly named Booby’s Bay

Then followed a week at Book Camp, a writing retreat organised by Cesca Major, that is a perfect mix of writing time and socialising with other authors, picking brains and supporting each other, with delicious meals and a hot tub thrown in for good measure.  It’s in Somerset, so the surroundings aren’t exactly horrible, either.  I wrote 30,000 words that week, got very close to the end of my first draft, and spent time in the company of some lovely authors who I admire greatly.

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Book Camp sunrise – what an artistic tree!

After those two wonderful weeks I am back at home, in my cosy office, and I have just reached The End – always an auspicious moment.

Because I am a dedicated book nerd and can’t help it, I also want to share some fantastic books I’ve read recently.  I think they probably need their own blog post, but I want to mention a couple very quickly.  The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox is tense, creepy and beautifully romantic – also perfect for this time of year (and as I write, 99p on Kindle) – and The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare is a very adult version of Beauty and the Beast, and had me completely captivated.

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This has nothing to do with The Haunting of Hill House, but is me at Trebah Gardens, enjoying the October sunshine.

And finally, because this definitely deserves a mention, since I’ve been home we have binge-watched The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix.  It is so good.  It is inspired by, but not based on, Shirley Jackson’s classic novel.  It is terrifying, so be warned, but is also a brilliant portrayal of a family torn apart by tragic circumstances, and how the grief and the mystery of that event affects them over the years.  Everything about it is wonderful – the acting, directing, the non-linear timeline, the sets and the music and the ghosts.  I screamed, I sobbed (a lot) and at the end I felt utterly ruined but also redeemed by it.  If you want something for Halloween that is spooky, but also so much more than spooky, then I’d highly recommend it.

I’m going to try and do a post next week of my top Halloween reads, (I am determined to be better at updating and sharing things on here), but until then, have a lovely weekend and happy reading!

Cressy xx

The House of Birds and Butterflies is published today

Hurrah hurrah, the day is finally here! My fourth full-length book, The House of Birds and Butterflies, is published today as ebook and beautiful (if I do say so myself) paperback.  It’s already had a five star review in Heat magazine, which is pretty amazing.  If you’re still undecided about whether to buy a copy, here is the blurb:

Abby Field loves every inch of Meadowsweet Nature Reserve on the idyllic Suffolk coast where she lives and works. Especially Swallowtail House, the rambling but empty country house that seems to look out at her each time she passes it’s shut-up windows.

When a TV wildlife programme choses a rival location for their new series, Meadowsweet is under threat – unless Abby can whip up a plan to keep the visitors flocking. But she finds herself distracted by the arrival of a brooding – and annoyingly handsome new neighbour… bad-boy novelist, Jack Westcoat.

With the pressure on, Abby and her cute rescue huskie, Raffle, must pull something special out of the bag. But with Jack in need of a good friend – and Abby feeling the pull of attraction, she can sense her resolve fluttering away…

out now

You can buy the paperback in Asda and some Waterstones stores – definitely Norwich, where I’m doing a signing on Saturday the 11th August, if you fancy a day out.  Jarrold books in Norwich probably have them, but I haven’t checked yet.  Online you can buy the paperback at Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smiths, Foyles and other lovely book retailers.

I know I’ve said this before, but I really loved writing this book, and my publishers have done an amazing job with the cover, so if you covet beautiful books then this might be the paperback for you.  If you do read it, I’d love to know what you think. Photos of you with the book, where you’re reading it, or if you spot it on a shelf in a bookshop, are brilliant – I never get tired of those and will RT/Share/Repost the heck out of them!

If you want to let me know what you thought, Amazon and Goodreads reviews are always very welcome, and you can get in touch with me via my contact page, or via my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages. I would really love to hear from you!

I’m off to go and celebrate with coffee (it’s a bit early for fizz) and enjoy some of the never-ending sunshine.

Happy reading!

Cress xx

Five weeks to go, and why I love nature reserves

When I was little, my parents took me and my sister for a day out to a place called Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve.  It was quite a long drive from our South East London home, and I didn’t know what to expect.  My initial reaction was terror, because the visitor centre wasn’t open but Mum and Dad insisted we could walk around anyway.  I was convinced we were trespassing, and I’ve never been the biggest risk taker. (Cue laughter from all who know me at what a massive understatement that is).

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Strumpshaw Fen at sunset

Once I’d come to terms with my new status as a master criminal, I started to pay attention to my surroundings.  We walked along wide tracks surrounded by trees, smelling earth and greenery, the traffic sounds replaced by birdsong.  We ended up at the edge of a large lake, in a wooden hide overlooking a secluded part of the water, overhanging trees bowing close to the surface.  Dad told me that his favourite bird was a kingfisher.  He told me about its beautiful blue and orange feathers, and that it was small and fast, and not always easy to spot.  The stillness was infectious.  We sat quietly, not wanting to break the spell, listening to the birds chirruping in the trees, the occasional honk of a coot, the slight rustle of reeds as the wind whispered through them.

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Not the original kingfisher, but a much more recent one at Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve

We sat there for what seemed like ages.  It was ages.  Days, possibly.  Dad seemed resigned to not seeing the kingfisher.  And then I spotted it – a flash of colourful feathers, so bright it seemed artificial, a toy rather than a bird – the dart as it caught a fish and returned to a shaded branch to eat it. Apparently I said; ‘What’s that, there?’ in an ignorant sort of way, and pointed to the bird Dad had been searching for.  We watched it as it went back and forth from water to tree branch, and it was beautiful – a jewel in the landscape.  It is known as “the kingfisher moment” in our family, and it was, I think, the first time I really paid attention to wildlife.

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Small Tortoiseshell butterfly at Minsmere Nature Reserve

Since that day I have been a nature lover and a (very amateur) birdwatcher, and visit nature reserves often.  There’s so much to see, the magical moments when you’ve been sitting quietly and then you spot something – a bird of prey, a bittern, a huge dragonfly or an otter.  And, I have discovered, it is impossible to feel stressed out walking through a nature reserve.  They’re places of total calm, of cool, leaf-covered walkways and glittering water.  One time, I approached a hide to discover there was a wasps’ nest in the roof – they had put signs up to warn people, in case you missed the striped beasts swarming all around it – and I just turned and walked away.  I walked away.  Anywhere else I would have run, screaming, because even at the age of 36, I am terrified of wasps.

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Dawn walk at Strumpshaw Fen – a very early start that was so worthwhile

I have been on dawn walks and dusk walks, seen deer and bats and thousands of rooks all going into roost together as one, mesmerising mass.  I have watched – and squealed about – an otter splashing in the shallows, almost trodden on an adder, held out some food for a robin and held my breath as it landed on my hand.  I have lost all sense of feeling in my toes and I have been soaked to the skin.  I have asked people what they’re looking at and nodded authoritatively when they’ve told me it’s a bar-tailed godwit or a snow bunting, even though up until that moment I’d never heard of those birds.  I have eaten lots of cakes in RSPB cafés.

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Kestrel at Strumpshaw Fen

Nature reserves offer calm, exercise, excitement, beauty, wonder and, often, much needed refreshment at the end of a long walk.  They show off our country’s natural habitats, are looked after by dedicated people who want to preserve the marshland or meadows, the lakes and lagoons, and protect and encourage the native wildlife.  They are special places and also, I have long thought, the perfect setting for a book.

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Young robin at Titchwell Marsh

The House of Birds and Butterflies is a love story, because that is the kind of book I enjoy writing.  It is a love story between two people, but it is also about my love of nature reserves, those havens of calm where you can lose all sense of time, forget about the everyday niggles and just walk or sit, listen to the bird song, look out for a tree creeper or a bullfinch or a peacock butterfly (or a wasp to run away from).

I hope that, if you read The House of Birds and Butterflies, you get a sense of why I’m such a fan of nature reserves.  Maybe you will go and read it at a nature reserve, sitting on a bench or in a hide, surrounded by the trill of blackbirds and chaffinches.  Is method reading a thing?  I don’t know.  Anyway, whether you’re sitting in the sunshine, on a train, lying in bed or curled up in your perfect, dedicated reading nook, (which, by the way, I’m very jealous of) I hope you love reading it as much as I loved writing it.

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Little Egret at Minsmere

(All the pics are mine, taken at various different nature reserves over the years.)

Six weeks to go!

There are only six weeks to go until my new book, The House of Birds and Butterflies, comes out in all its full length, full ebook and paperback glory. I am starting to get the pre-publication butterflies, which is very apt this time round, and part of me can’t believe this will be my fourth paperback.

I thought I’d do a short blog post each week as a sort-of countdown, and will be answering any questions you might have, as well as rambling on in my usual way about my writing process and ideas. If you have any questions then you can send me a message via my contact page, or on Facebook or Twitter. I’ve had a few already and am busy thinking up my answers to post in the coming weeks.

I’m so looking forward to this story being out in the world, in bookshops and supermarkets and, ultimately, readers’ hands, bedside tables and bookshelves. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

Birds of a Feather is published today

This is it: the fourth and final part of The House of Birds and Butterflies is out today.  It’s called Birds of a Feather, and it’s the conclusion of Abby’s story at the Meadowsweet nature reserve in Suffolk.  Here’s the blurb:

IMG_1239Summer is in full swing on the Meadowsweet Nature Reserve and Abby is wondering what the future holds for her and Jack. Can she trust that he has left his bad-boy image behind? When an unwanted face from Jack’s past shows up – Abby gets a shock and she realises that it isn’t just Jack who needs to examine his heart – perhaps she does too?

With the nature reserve’s future also hanging in the balance, this is one summer of sunshine and secrets that Abby will never forget…

If you’ve been waiting eagerly for the last part, then I hope it lives up to expectations.  If you’ve yet to read any of it, then all four parts are out now – no more waiting!  You can binge the whole book box set.  Hurrah!

I really loved writing this book, and am very proud of it, so I hope that you enjoy the last part.  If you do, and have a few minutes, then an Amazon review would mean such a lot to me.  I know I say this every time, but that’s because it’s true; they’re so important for authors as well as readers.

The finished paperback should be ready in a few weeks, and I can’t wait to hold its beautiful, page-riffly loveliness, in my hands – and show it off.  I’ll be running some giveaways up to the paperback publication day on the 9th of August, so keep a look out here and on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages.

Happy reading!

Cressy xx

The end of a book

This week, I finished my page proofs for The House of Birds and Butterflies.  This is the very final stage of editing, when I get sent a chunky paper manuscript with the whole book laid out exactly as it’s going to be in the paperback, and I have to read through it a final time.  It’s for spotting any typos or grammatical errors, making the final, small changes that will ensure the book is as perfect as possible, and hopefully not spotting a huge continuity error that will send me spiralling into a well of despair, knowing it’s too late to fix it.

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Page proofs for The House of Birds and Butterflies

Luckily, I didn’t find one of those, and my last changes are in the super-competent hands of the editorial team at HarperFiction.  Page proofs are a strange thing: as well as panic-inducing, it’s also a pretty magical stage.  I get to see my words laid out as they will be on the page, the beautiful illustrations that will accompany each chapter heading, and read the full book as readers will, (though with considerably less intrigue, as hopefully by now I can remember what’s going to happen . . . )

But the best thing about page proofs is that I now have those fluttering butterflies of excitement in my tummy, knowing that in only a few weeks’ time, the finished paperback will be ready, and in my hands.  Holding my paperback is a moment that will never get any less thrilling; this will be number four – four paperbacks, all with my words inside! – and I’m possibly more excited about this one than any of my other book babies, though I’m sure I think that every time.

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Chapter heading detail

It’s an ending for me, because my work on the book is done.  No more tweaking or fiddling, no more time to wonder whether it’s as romantic or as engaging as I want it to be.  Game over.  Finito.  But of course, it’s also a beginning, because the book will be out of my hands and into readers’: my characters will come alive, people will imagine themselves walking along the trails of Meadowsweet Nature Reserve, and hopefully find themselves getting caught up in Abby’s story.

I can’t wait for The House of Birds and Butterflies to head out into the world in all its papery glory.  And for me, time to start again, to think about the next one, to take those few scribbled notes in my notebook and turn them into a synopsis, then chapter outlines, then scenes and chapters and – eventually – a novel.  It feels a very long way from that big, chunky manuscript that’s been sitting on my desk, but I know that, somehow, it will get there.

Cressy xx

Twilight Song is here

Today is publication day for the third part of The House of Birds and Butterflies.  (I’m a little bit disappointed that Avengers: Infinity War chose today to come out too, somewhat stealing my thunder . . .)  Anyway, part three is called Twilight Song and has the most beautiful purple, twilightish cover.  If you’ve enjoyed The Dawn Chorus and The Lovebirds then hopefully you’re waiting eagerly to find out what happens next to Abby, and fingers crossed Twilight Song doesn’t disappoint.  Here’s the blurb:

IMG_1242Spring is blooming at Meadowsweet nature reserve.  Although the sunshine is drawing in the visitors like never before, events co-ordinator Abby knows she’s treading on thin ice. She’s spending more and more time with village newcomer Jack, and she’ll need to make a real success of the springtime camping extravaganza at the reserve if she’s to keep her disgruntled boss off her back.

Abby hasn’t thrown too many questions at Jack about his shadowy past – she’s enjoying the budding romance, so why break the spell?  But when the secrets start spilling out and a glamorous blonde presenter from the nature show, Wild Wonders, turns Jack’s head, Abby knows it’s time to face the music…

As this is part three, and it possibly ends on a little bit of a cliffhanger, I wanted to reassure you that Birds of a Feather, the final part, is only a few weeks away, published on the 18th of May!

If you do read it then I’d love to know what you think via any of my social media channels or my contact page, and here is my customary request that if you can spare a few minutes to put a review on Amazon, then I would love you forever.  It makes a huge difference, both to other readers, and also to the book’s visibility, and I am grateful for every one.  Thank you!

Happy reading,

Cressy xx

What I’ve been up to

It’s been such a long time since I wrote a post, even failing to announce the publication of part two of The House of Birds and Butterflies – The Lovebirds.  It came out a couple of weeks ago, and it’s had a fab reception so far with eight, five-star reviews on Amazon.

IMG_1241It’s publication week for part three, Twilight Song, which comes out on Friday, and I’m hoping readers will love it just as much!

While I’ve been failing to update my website, I’ve been busy putting the finishing touches to the paperback of The House of Birds and Butterflies, which comes out this summer.  There’s always extra material to do, like the dedication and acknowledgements, and this time round there’s also a Q&A with me at the back, about my inspiration for writing this book – among other things – which I hope you’ll enjoy reading.

I’ve also been keeping up with my reading and in a future post will update you on the brilliant novels I’ve devoured recently – Louise Candlish’s Our House and the new Karen Swan summer read, The Greek Escape, are particular highlights.

Now that the weather’s starting to feel springlike, we’ve put the furniture back on our deck, which is beyond exciting.  For anyone who follows me on Instagram, The Deck (#decklife) features heavily.  My husband, David, built it on the back of our kitchen last year, and I love it.  I’m determined to spend as much time as possible on it this summer, writing, reading and watching the birds on the feeders.

Added to that I’ve been turning the scribbled beginnings of my next book into a fully formed synopsis, and I couldn’t be more excited about this new idea.  I hope I’ll be able to share more about it with you all soon.

So that’s about it!  Lots of lovely bookish things as always, with some – hopefully – exciting things on the horizon.  I’d love to know what you’ve been up to, what you’ve been reading and whether you’ve had a chance to dip into any of The House of Birds and Butterflies.

Enjoy the sunshine!

Cressy x

My recent reads

I have read a lot of books recently.  Maybe it’s the fact that spring is a long time coming and going outside isn’t an attractive proposition, or maybe I’ve just got into the reading groove.  Whatever it is, I’m not complaining.  There are so many good books to devour, and here are some of my favourite recent reads.

The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake

Cosy, funny and romantic, this delicious story had me racing through the pages as Clara makes her mark on the quaint village of Yulethorpe.  I defy you to read it and not want to surround yourself with beautifully-scented candles.  Here is the blurb:

It’s autumn in Yulethorpe and everyone is gloomy. It’s cold, drizzly and the skies are permagrey. The last shop on the high street – an adorable little toy shop – has just shut its doors. Everything is going wrong for Yulethorpe this autumn. Until Clara Kristensen arrives.

ACS_0037Clara is on holiday but she can see the potential in the pretty town, so she rolls up her sleeves and sets to work. Things are looking up until Joe comes to Yulethorpe to find out exactly what is going on with his mother’s shop. Joe is Very Busy and Important in the City and very sure that Clara is up to no good. Surely no one would work this hard just for the fun of it?

Can a man who answers emails at 3 a. m. learn to appreciate the slower, happier, hygge things in life – naps, candles, good friends and maybe even falling in love?

The Lemon Tree Café by Cathy Bramley

Cathy is a master of women’s fiction, and while I haven’t read her whole back catalogue, what I have read I’ve loved.  The Lemon Tree Café is funny, uplifting and inspiring.  It’s full of brilliant characters, and Cathy’s easy, warm writing puts you right in the action.  It’s a story you can get completely lost in, and feel all the better for it.  Here is the blurb:

When Rosie Featherstone finds herself unexpectedly jobless, the offer to help her beloved Italian grandmother out at the Lemon Tree Cafe – a little slice of Italy nestled in the rolling hills of Derbyshire – feels like the perfect way to keep busy.

ACS_0039Surrounded by the rich scent of espresso, delicious biscotti and juicy village gossip, Rosie soon finds herself falling for her new way of life. But she is haunted by a terrible secret, one that even the appearance of a handsome new face can’t quite help her move on from. 

Then disaster looms and the cafe’s fortunes are threatened . . . and Rosie discovers that her nonna has been hiding a dark past of her own. With surprises, betrayal and more than one secret brewing, can she find a way to save the Lemon Tree Cafe and help both herself and Nonna achieve the happy endings they deserve?

Crazy in Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling

If you follow me on social media you will know I’m a HUGE fan of Annie Darling’s books, and the third instalment is utterly brilliant.  I can’t express how much I love these stories, the pitch perfect humour and loveable, flawed characters, the way Annie draws on classics – this one is all about Wuthering Heights – and the gorgeous romances, as satisfying as a hot chocolate with a kick of Baileys.  I could go on, but I won’t.  Suffice to say, I loved this book.  Here is the blurb:

You can go crazy searching for the one…

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Nina is addicted to bad boys, the wilder, the better. Despite her friends’ misgivings, she firmly believes that true love only takes one form: wild, full of passion and fire and punctuated by tempestuous arguments. She won’t settle for anything less.

But years of swiping right has uncovered nothing but losers and flings, and Nina is no closer to finding her One True Love than she ever was. And when a man from her past walks into the shop Nina knows she has nothing to fear: the geekiest boy in her school has become a boring suit with no chance of making her heart go pitter patter.

Which just shows how little Nina knows about her heart…

And now for something a little bit less romantic . . .

Girl on Fire by Tony Parsons

I read a lot of crime fiction, and there are a few series that I have to keep up with.  Tony Parsons’ DC Max Wolfe series is one of them.  I love his writing style, and Max Wolfe is one of my favourite fictional characters.  They’re always fast-paced and action packed, but this one is heart-rending too.  It tackles terrorism in the UK, and looks at it in a balanced way, stripping it back to the people involved.  Unputdownable, tense and very emotional, I think it’s his best one yet.  Here’s the blurb:

ACS_0040When terrorists use a drone to bring down a plane on one of London’s busiest shopping centres, it ignites a chain of events that will draw in the innocent and guilty alike.

DC Max Wolfe finds himself caught in the crossfire in a city that seems increasingly dangerous and hostile.

But does the danger come from the murderous criminals that Max is tracking down? Or the people he’s trying to protect?

Or does the real threat to Max lie closer to home?

Other Books

I also finally got round to reading Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris, which was a rollercoaster of a ride.  It was difficult to read in places, and I had my heart in my mouth most of the time.  Not a relaxing read, but a brilliant one.  And yesterday I finished The Santiago Sisters by Victoria Fox, which is an epic, sweeping, (and sizzling) story about twin sisters from Argentina who are separated as teenagers.  Full of glitzy locations and tempestuous relationships, I was completely sucked in.  A fun, escapist read!

What have you been reading recently? Do you like to mix up genres or do you stick firmly to one? Have you read any of these books? I’d love to know what you think.

Happy reading!

Cressy xxx