Christmas with the Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest (Review)

Christmas with the Teashop Girls by Elaine Everest

Blurb

It is late 1940 and the war feels closer to home than ever for Rose Neville and her staff at the Lyon’s Teashop in Margate. The worry of rationing hangs overhead as the Nippies do their best to provide a happy smile and a hot cup of tea for their customers. When a heavy bombing raid targets the Kent coastline, Lyon’s is badly hit, throwing the future of the cafe into jeopardy.

The light in Rose’s life is her dashing fiancé Capt. Ben Hargreaves and planning their Christmas Eve wedding. But she must also plan to take two new step-daughters into her life and get on the right side of her wealthy mother-in-law, Lady Diana. Is Rose ready to become a mother so soon?

When Rose’s half-sister Eileen makes contact, it seems that Rose’s dreams of having a sibling are coming true at long last. But her friends begin to suspect that something is not right between Eileen and her husband: just what are they hiding?

As the Christmas Eve wedding draws near, the bombings intensify in Kent and London, putting everything and everyone Rose loves in danger. Only one thing is for sure: it will be a Christmas she never forgets . . .

Review

I read a Christmas book by Elaine Everest last year and really enjoyed it so I thought I would read another one this year as well. 

The story centres around Rose Neville who is the manageress of the Margate Lyon’s Teashop. However, Rose is trying to manage the teashop in the middle of the Second World War, with the constant threat of bombs landing and rationing making it ever harder to keep the teashop well stocked. But she also has her wonderful mom Flora to help her keep her spirits up and all her wonderful family as well as the love and support of her fiancé Ben. 

The story opens with rather a dramatic scene that left me desperately wanting to know more and I must admit that meant I could not put the book down until I had all the answers. As the story progresses we get to meet Rose’s future mother in law and the new family she will be joining. But at the same time Eileen, Rose’s half sister makes an appearance and things start to look a bit suspicious to Rose’s friends.  

My favourite character of the book is Mildred. Mildred stands no messing whatsoever and spends her time at sea on her fishing boat. She helps Rose, Lily and Katie and treats them as if they were her own daughters. She will fight for justice and will stand up to any man. I just couldn’t help but like her. My second favourite character was Anya who is also stubborn, determined and has a fiery temper. She also comes out with some fantastic lines. 

I really enjoyed this book and definitely plan on reading more books by Everest in the New Year. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Elaine Everest was born and brought up in northwest Kent and has written widely – both short stories and features – for women’s magazines. When she isn’t writing, Everest runs The Write Place creative writing school in Dartford Kent, and the blog for Romantic Novelists’ Association. 

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Midwinter Murder by Agatha Christie (Review)

Midwinter Murder by Agatha Christie

Blurb

There’s a chill in the air and the days are growing shorter… It’s the perfect time to curl up in front of a crackling fireplace with this winter-themed collection from legendary mystery writer Agatha Christie. But beware of deadly snowdrifts and dangerous gifts, poisoned meals and mysterious guests. This compendium of short stories, some featuring beloved detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, is an essential omnibus for Christie fans and the perfect gift for mystery lovers.

INCLUDES THE STORIES:

– The Chocolate Box

– A Christmas Tragedy

– The Coming of Mr Quin

– The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest

– The Clergyman’s Daughter

– The Plymouth Express

– Problem at Pollensa Bay

– Sanctuary

– The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge

– The World’s End

– The Manhood of Edward Robinson

– Christmas Adventure

Review

I chose this book as one of my Christmas reads and I was so pleased I did because I thoroughly enjoyed this book. 

I absolutely love Poirot and Miss Marple so it was wonderful to read some short stories that include them. Poirot always makes me laugh as he really is such a big head but never seems to see it. Miss Marple on the other hand always comes across as an interfering old woman but of course she is also a genius who can work out any mystery. 

My favourite stories from the book were Sanctuary, Christmas Adventure and The Clergyman’s Daughter. These stories were wonderful reads and really shone out for me from the other stories.

I loved this series of short stories and they really put me in the mood for Christmas and went particularly well with a nice mug of hot chocolate. I highly recommend this book to either dip into or read in one go and give the book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. She also wrote the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap. She also wrote 6 novels under the name Mary Westmacott.

Christmas at Highclere by The Countess of Carnarvon (Review)

Christmas at Highclere by The Countess of Carnavon

Blurb

Highclere Castle, known as ‘the real Downton Abbey’, bustles with activity at the best of times, but it is never more alive than at Christmas. Christmas at Highclere is a look behind the scenes at the routines and rituals that make the castle the most magical place to be throughout the festive season.

Lady Carnarvon will guide you through Advent, Christmas preparations and Christmas Eve all the way through to the day itself, and beyond. Learn how the castle and grounds are transformed by decorations, including the raising of a twenty-foot tree in the saloon, the gathering of holly and mistletoe from the grounds. All the intricacies of the perfect traditional Christmas are here: from crackers and carol singers. The festive feeling is carried through to Highclere’s Boxing Day traditions, the restorative middle days and the New Year’s Eve celebrations.

This book also tells the story of historic Christmases at Highclere – of distinguished guests warming themselves by the fire after a long journeys home through the snow, unexpected knocks on the door, and, always, the joy of bringing family – and staff – together after a busy year.

As well as telling the stories of Highclere Christmases past and present, Lady Carnarvon provides recipes, tips and inspiration from her kitchen so that readers can bring a quintessentially British festive spirit to their own home. Lady Carnarvon divulges the secret to perfectly flakey mince pies, the proper way to wrap presents so that you and your guests are guaranteed a Christmas to remember.

Lavish, celebratory and utterly enchanting, Christmas at Highclere is celebration of one of the UK’s most beloved historic houses and is the perfect gift for any Downton Abbey fan.

Review

My husband and myself are massive fans of Downton Abbey and so I bought this last year for my husband’s Christmas present and it has been on the recipe book shelf waiting for Christmas to arrive. 

I picked this book up to look up some Christmas recipes as I wanted some new challenges for the Christmas season and quickly decided that I would be making the Yule log for Christmas. However, I then decided to start reading the book from the beginning and all of a sudden I was hooked and could not put it down.

I love the Countess’ writing style, she is very skilled and brings everything to life beautifully. The Countess starts with the season of Advent and how the castle prepares for the Christmas period by decorating for opening and also what preparations they make for family and friends who will be visiting over the period. The Countess then continues through the festive season until Epiphany.

This book has family history and traditions, personal anecdotes about the family’s past Christmases and then recipes peppered throughout the book all linked to the different stages of the festive period. The accompanying pictures are absolutely stunning and they really show how stunning the castle is, although my favourite pictures are of the family’s many dogs.

I absolutely loved this book and I have several recipes that I will be trying out on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. I highly recommend this book and definitely give it 5 out of 5 Dragons. I have also added the other books the Countess of Carnarvon has written to my wish list as I really want to read more of her work.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

A former auditor for Coopers & Lybrand, Lady Carnarvon is the wife of George Herbert, 8th Earl of Carnarvon. Today, she manages affairs at Highclere Castle, home of the worldwide television drama Downton Abbey, including overseeing its grounds and gardens and many special events such as the Egyptian Exhibition in the cellars of the Castle.

Fascinated by Highclere’s history, Lady Carnarvon has written four books. The first two are about the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb with Howard Carter in 1922. Her latest are New York Times Bestseller Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere, and Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey.

Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews (Review)

Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews

Blurb

Fay and Danny are madly in love and it’s all Fay’s ever dreamed of. But she left everything – including the delightful cake shop she used to run – to be with Danny on his cosy canal boat The Dreamcatcher. And as she soon finds out, making delicious cakes on the water isn’t always smooth sailing!

Then Fay gets a call from her friends, a call that sends her back to her friends and the Cake Shop in the Garden. It will be hard being away from Danny but their relationship is strong enough to survive . . . isn’t it?

Fay soon falls happily back in love with her passion for baking – especially now she’s on dry land again! – and starts to wonder if she ever should have left. With Christmas around the corner, Fay is determined that her friends will have a very merry time, but does that mean even more time away from Danny? Can Fay really get everything she ever wanted in Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights.

Review

I actually bought this book last year but I didn’t get around to reading it so I dug it out for my Christmas reading list this year and I am so pleased I did.

This is the first book I have read by Matthews and it won’t be my last, I also didn’t realise that this book is a sequel so I will be buying the first book in the New Year as I really want to read about how these characters came together.

Fay and Danny are a lovely couple and I will be honest Danny has the patience and kindness of a saint and will do anything to please Fay, which includes looking after her friends and putting up with her sister. Fay is a very caring character who almost feels too much for everyone and at times I do wish she would perhaps say no.

My absolute favourite character is Lija. Lija is grumpy and prickly but she really does have a heart of gold and her swearing is very funny at times. Rainbow is also a lovely character but she can be extremely annoying at times.

Then there is Stan and Stan is a character that you can’t help but adore. He really is a perfect gentleman.

Fay rushes back to her friends Lija and Stan when Stan becomes ill and Danny follows shortly afterwards with their canalboat and there is where the story begins. Fay now helps Lija run the cake shop and helps Stan to get better all with Danny helping and supporting where he can.

I truly loved this story but I will be honest I was expecting a bit more baking involved as most of the story is set in the kitchen of the cake shop. I can’t wait to read more about Fay and Danny and give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Carole Matthews born 1960 is a British author. Matthews has published 34 novels and currently lives in Milton Keynes with her husband.

Christmas Reading List 2020 Update

Hello!

I thought it was time for a Christmas reading list update. I am really racing through my Christmas books and I am thoroughly enjoying them and I have also added some extra ones into the mix as well.

I am currently reading Midwinter Murders by Agatha Christie and Christmas at Highclere by The Countess of Carnarvon.

Here are the books I have read so far…

Christmas is Murder by Val McDermid

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

The Lion Book of Christmas Poems by Sophie Piper

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

A Perfect Cornish Christmas by Phillipa Ashley

A Midwinter Promise by Lulu Taylor

Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest

Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews

So the Christmas books I have left over are…

The Christmas reading is going really well and I can’t quite believe how quickly I am finishing books at the moment. Christmas at Highclere wasn’t originally on the reading list but I started browsing through it yesterday and I just got hooked.

Please drop me a comment with your Christmas reads as I would love to see what everyone is reading or planning to read over the festive period.

WWW Wednesday: 16/12/2020

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The rules are answer the questions below and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you will read next?

Hello!

I can’t believe we are back to Wednesday again, time seem to be flying by at the moment. I hope this post finds you all well and not to stressed as the festive season approaches.

So here is what I have been up to with my reading.

What I am Currently Reading

Literally just started it so not much to say so far.

What I have Recently Finished Reading

Just finished Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights yesterday and couldn’t put it down, review will follow shortly.

Christmas is Murder by Val McDermid review here.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling review here.

What I think I will Read Next

The Christmas reading list is going down and I am really surprised just how quickly I am getting through my Christmas books.

Please drop me a comment for a bookish chat and of course please leave your WWW Wednesday link and I will head over for a visit.

Happy Reading.

Christmas Murder: A Chilling Short Story Collection by Val McDermid (Review)

Christmas is Murder: A Chilling Short Story Collection by Val McDermid

Blurb

The Queen of Crime Val McDermid is a master of the dark and sinister story, and these powers are demonstrated in full force in Christmas is Murder, a festive collection of chilling tales.

From an irresponsible baron whose body is discovered beneath a silver birch tree, to an author who is haunted by the spiteful presence of a jealous writing partner, the characters McDermid conjures are enigmatic and dangerous, never above suspicion.

Follow Tony Hill and Carol Jordan as they track a deadly killer who is preparing to strike on Christmas Day, and lose yourself in a festive exclusive – a recently unearthed case for a classic detective duo, set as the lights are going out across Europe.

These evocative, atmospheric tales will shock and delight. This is the perfect book to curl up with as the frosty winter draws in and each night gets darker than the last, written by one of our greatest living crime writers.

Review

I was so excited to see this book and immediately ordered it off Waterstones. I love a good Christmas murder mystery but sadly I was rather disappointed with this book.

The first thing I really disliked was the fact that a lot of these short stories seemed like they should have been longer but that McDermid had just removed chunks of the story to make it shorter. They jumped around too much and there was no development which even in a short story should be present.

The second thing that got on my nerves was the fact that some of the stories basically had nothing to do with Christmas and even if they did the link was tenuous at best. For a Christmas murder mystery book this was a disappointment for me.

I did however like some of the stories, my favourite was The Girl who Killed Santa Claus. This story was wonderful and a really good short story and was a welcome change from the rest of the short stories.

I am afraid I have only given 2 out of 5 Dragons to this book and I will be honest and say that I will not be reading another Val McDermid book as I just did not enjoy her writing.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies. 

She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2010. In 2011 she received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award. 

She writes full time and divides her time between Cheshire and Edinburgh.

WWW Wednesday: 9/12/2020

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The rules are answer the questions below and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you will read next?

Happy Wednesday!

I am absolutely loving my Christmas reading at the moment and I seem to be flying through books which is brilliant.

So here is my week in books.

What I am Currently Reading

I’m just over half way through with this and sadly I have only enjoyed one story so far. I really hope it gets better.

What I have Recently Finished Reading

I enjoyed all of these books and highly recommend them. I’ve only reviewed two of them so far, so here are the links: Skipping Christmas | Christmas at Woolworths.

What I Think I will Read Next

My Christmas reading list this December is above so it will be one of these books but not sure which. As usual it all depends on my mood.

So there is my WWW Wednesday! Please drop me a comment if you want a chat and of course please drop me the link to your WWW Wednesday and I will head over for a visit.

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham (Review)

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Blurb

Imagine a year without Christmas.

No crowded shops, no corny office parties, no fruitcakes, no unwanted presents. That’s just what Luther and Nora Krank have in mind when they decide that, just this once, they’ll skip the holiday altogether.

Theirs will be the only house on the street without a rooftop Frosty the snowman; they won’t be hosting their annual Christmas Eve bash; they aren’t even going to have a tree. They won’t need one, because come December 25 they’re setting sail on a Caribbean cruise. But, as this weary couple is about to discover, skipping Christmas brings enormous consequences – and isn’t half as easy as they’d imagined. 

Review

The first Christmas movie I watched this year was Christmas with the Kranks and I loved it! Then my best friend told me that it was based on the book Skipping Christmas so I immediately went on to Waterstones and ordered myself a copy. Thankfully I was not disappointed.

The first thing I noticed was how faithful the movie is to the book and that was really good as I always hate it when the movie is so far from the book. Luther and Nora are husband and wife who are about to spend their first Christmas without their daughter but Luther wants to celebrate Christmas differently this year. When Luther thinks of Christmas he just sees expense and mobs of people so he decides this year Nora and himself will skip Christmas and go for a cruise instead.

Nora loves Christmas. She loves the decorations, the parties, the present buying absolutely everything but Luther persuades her this year they will go on a cruise and through the book you can see how Nora is affected by the lack of Christmas traditions in her life. Nora is a typical housewife who spends all her time dashing from one charity thing to the next, who is always helping the needy and making sure everything at home is just right.

Luther however is always counting the money and to be honest is a really selfish character and he really got on my nerves at times and I must admit this does come across in the film but the film had more of a comic element to offset the selfish behaviour. I really felt sorry for Nora having to deal with Luther through all of this but I was pleased he got his comeuppance and everyone was happy.

The other characters who were my favourites were Spike and Ned Frohmeyer. Spike was a real character and Ned was the typical nosy neighbour but there for anybody in need and always trying to bring the street together to be the best they can be.

At just under 200 pages this book took no time at all to read and was a good light-hearted quick read that made me laugh. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons and highly recommend it to anybody who wants a funny read over the festive period.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

John Grisham (1955) is an American novelist, attorney, politician and activist. He is best known for his legal thrillers.

Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest (Review)

Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest

Blurb

Even though there was a war on, the Woolworths girls brought Christmas cheer to their customers

Best friends Sarah, Maisie and Freda are brought together by their jobs at Woolworths. With their loved ones away on the front line, their bonds of friendship strengthen each day. Betty Billington is the manager at Woolworths, and a rock for the girls, having given up on love . . . Until a mysterious stranger turns up one day – could he reignite a spark in Betty?

As the year draws to a close, and Christmas approaches, the girls must rely on each other to navigate the dark days that lie ahead . . .

With so much change, can their friendship survive the war?

Review

I picked up this book before Christmas last year from a book stall at a Christmas fair but I never got around to reading so it was added to my Christmas list for this year and finally I have managed to read it.

I will be honest I struggled at the beginning of this book and I wasn’t entirely sure I would continue reading it but thankfully I carried on as I could see it was going to be a good story. The reason I struggled was due to Everest’s writing style, when there are a lot  of characters all talking Everest doesn’t make it very clear who is saying what and in several instances there aren’t even quotation marks to show there is a dialogue going on which really put me off. However, once I got used to it I soon got into the story.

My favourite character of the book is Ruby who is Sarah’s grandmother. Ruby looks after everyone and includes everyone as family even people she has just met. If she sees they need help she is there doing whatever needs to be done. She is also a big believer that any problem can be solved with tea and is regularly making a brew.

Freda is a wonderful character who I really felt for as she seems to get the worst luck in this book but bless her all she wants to do is do her part for the war effort and keep on going. Sarah who is married to a Spitfire pilot and has a baby daughter is also the same and happily goes the extra mile for anybody in need. 

I will be honest I would have loved a bit more about Betty because she was a fantastic character that I really wanted to see more of. Betty is a leader and a strong woman who is a true friend to Sarah, Maisie and Freda. 

This book is detailing the run up to Christmas through these friends’ lives and it is beautiful and really enjoyable. I absolutely loved the story and the excessive use of tea because as a massive tea drinker myself I believe that tea solves most problems. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons just because I struggled with Everest’s writing style but I do intend on reading the rest of the series.

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Purchase Links

Amazon

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Elaine Everest was born and brought up in northwest Kent and has written widely – both short stories and features – for women’s magazines. When she isn’t writing, Everest runs The Write Place creative writing school in Dartford Kent, and the blog for Romantic Novelists’ Association.