Summer at the Dog and Duck- Jill Steeples

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This is a lovely return to the Dog and Duck and the lovely landlady- Ellie Browne. I loved the first book in the series and you very quickly settle amongst familiar characters and the wonderful village community and feel like you are rejoining friends. This would be the perfect read to take on your holidays- easy to relax into and a feel good story.

Ellie and Max are a lovely couple but life throws more than a few obstacles in their path during the course of the book with his ex and his sister making an appearance.

A pub called the Dog and Duck just has to have a resident dog and black labrador Digby is an adorable character in his own right. The regulars are lovely and really make you want to live in Little Leyton with the Dog and Duck as your local.

The Gin Shack on the Beach- Catherine Miller

 

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Olive’s son convinces her that it is time to move into a retirement village in a old hotel. She sees the virtue in no longer having to cook and wash up- but doesn’t want to give up her independence OR her gin and tonic down at her beach hut.

She finds some kindred spirits at the centre who are also bold enough to grow old disgracefully and join the ‘wear purple’ brigade. They discuss ways to bend the rules and enjoy a glass of gin away from ‘Matron’ and the escapades begin. I absolutely loved Olive, Randy and Veronica and their refusal to be be treated as though they were at boarding school and more like the Famous Three escaping on expeditions. You wondered what they were going to try next and how despairing Matron and Olive’s son were going to be.

The beach hut community sounded wonderful and the idea of the gin club was born and I loved the way that the idea grew and became a wonderful reality and the beach hut community were always there for each other in more ways than one.

I’m not a gin drinker but I must admit that the descriptions of the different gins they sampled made me want t0 try a few of them and join the gin club to get my very own tokens for gin! Even the bottles sounded like something I needed to own!

Any book set by the coast is a winner for me and this was such an adorable read. You quickly engage with the characters- apart from Matron! You can imagine yourself trotting off to buy something purple to wear and compiling a bucket list for an octogenarian to complete, disgracefully refusing to get old. There are many funny and also many touching moments in the book. Catherine Miller has written a pure delight that you won’t want to put down, apart from maybe to add a few ice cubes to a glass of gin just to join in with the spirit of things obviously!

I can’t wait to read more by this author.

Summer at Hope Meadows- Lucy Daniels

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I bought the Animal Ark stories for my daughters as I thought they were such a lovely series full of animal mad children. I requested this book through Net Galley without realising that this book ( and I imagine- the first in a new series) features Mandy Hope as a grown up newly qualifed vet coming back to help her parents. I also hadn’t realised that the original books were written by a team of writers and this new one is written by a vet.
It was such an adorable read, the characters were already so familiar to me, although the new characters were also wonderful. You get a real sense of village community and the feeling that you have moved into the pages of the book.
I’ve recently been accompanying my daughter to a daycare farm and I was surprised how much we’ve learnt about animals since we’ve been spending one day a week in a dream come true. This book felt very similar- you are so absorbed with the story that you could easily read this in one sitting.
It covers the concept of making dreams a reality, family, relationships and overcoming the fear of the ‘new vet’ status and lovely animal patients.
I’ll be first in the queue to read another book in this series.

Ginny Moon- Benjamin Ludwig

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I found this a fascinating read- I don’t always find it easy to read books with an autistic character having a daughter on the spectrum.
Ginny has had an extremely difficult life, being taken away from an abusive mother and struggling to settle into a ‘forever’ home. She also struggles with processing more than one question at a time- which resonated here. We were always told that any information had to be given in bite sized chunks as she wouldn’t process more than one bit of information at the same time.
Ginny’s ‘voice’ is described very realistically- you can almost see into her mind and see her processing the situations. She takes situations literally- never ask an autistic person for an honest answer if you aren’t really looking for one! You can also feel the agonies her ‘forever’ family are going through- it’s a huge commitment to take on a child with additional needs.
There are some unexpected twists and at times you do wonder where the book is headed and what will happen to Ginny

The cafe in Fir Tree Park- Katey Lovell

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This was a really lovely read set around a cafe in Fir Tree Park. Maggie took over running the cafe when her ex husband went to prison following a bank robbery. She has brought her children up single handedly ever since and loves baking and making her cafe look pretty for special occasions. The parties held there sound wonderful.

Each chapter is told by one of the 4 leading female characters but as they are all related or work at the cafe you hear more about all characters. The ideal read whilst drinking a cup of tea with a slice of Lemon Drizzle- even better if enjoying it whilst sitting in the sunshine,

The book deals with all sorts of relationship issues, bullying, friendships, hidden love and a wonderful cast of characters. Lovely romances develop during the book and it is just such a comforting way to lose yourself reading for a few hours. I suggest that you will need to visit the bakery aisle before starting as you will definately be craving a lovely piece of cake before you finish.

The cover is so inviting and I look forward to reading more by Katey Lovell.

Secrets of the Dead- Carol Wyer

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The second thriller from Carol Wyer is just as chilling as the previous book in the Robyn Carter series. A series of unexpected deaths and murders seem unrelated apart from a note left with each victim. She needs to solve the case or discover who else might be in danger and why.

I love lead detectives who veer a little from the expected path to get the results they want- and also have a great interest in their team. She employs her cousin, a private detective to get the information she’s not allowed to investigate! He was a great character along with his wife and loved their stay at the spa.

I enjoy books set in local settings where I recognise places and can picture exactly where they are. My dad was born in Lichfield- so I was thinking of him whilst I was reading this book. Sometimes you just wish you could pass a book on as he would have loved this one.

It is fast paced and you feel as though you are part of the investigation, maybe not helping much as you seem to be second guessing and veering down the wrong path. I love books where you keep guessing. I am so pleased to have found another thriller series that I can eagerly await the next case.

The summer house by the Sea- Jenny Oliver

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When Ava attends her grandmothers funeral- she decides to spend the summer at her house in Mariposa. She hopes that the town will have retained the charm of her childhood memories – but is dismayed to find it tired and jaded. She decides to help Cafe Estrella turn itself around and find new customers to keep the tills busy.

When her brother faces a blip in his career , he also decides to find a new path forward by chilling in the sun. He brings his little boy, who is a delightful character who throws himself into everything on offer by the sea.

This book has everything- healing family relationships, romance, a village full of fantastic characters who build a vivid backdrop to the story , and churros which sound absolutely delicious. Throw in a movie star- who may or may not have been on Ava’s bedroom wall as a teen and we have the ingredients for the most fantastic summer read.

I have read and enjoyed several of Jenny Olivers previous books and this one was a really lovely read. You are guaranteed to fall in love with it’s charms and be reluctant to draw yourself back into the real world rather than read ‘just one more chapter’. This really would make the ideal book to pack in your suitcase.