Novella Review: Autumn at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

autumn

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: As autumn starts to draw in and the nights are getting darker, the fire is lit at the Star and Sixpence and Nessie and Sam start to turn their thoughts to the annual bonfire night. The village comes together every year to celebrate the turning of the season and this year is going to be extra-special.

The Review:

I may as well get started by presenting the reviews so far to get you up to speed (I would say these can be read as standalones but they’re too nice so you may as well go back!):

Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence

Valentine’s Day at the Star and Sixpence

Summer at the Star and Sixpence

or you could preorder A Year At The Star and Sixpence which is out 29th December 2016 and read them all as one lovely book (I am quite jealous you can do this;)

Now I have to admit, I always knew the Autumn edition of this gorgeous series would be for me. I adore Autumn. We live in the country and I’m one of those annoying people who tells their kids to savour the splendour of the autumnnal colours when they grace the trees lining the roadway approaching our abode (I don’t say it in this way, it’s more like ‘LOOK’-in the manner of a school teacher- ‘now how lucky are you to live on a road that has such amazing colours on it, look at the reds, the golds, the oranges, isn’t t so beautiful, aren’t we lucky, well AREN’T WE?’ Yes I suck a bit of life out of it, but now they have started looking they do appreciate it!) , and who takes pictures of said trees before they lose it all. And so, when I approached this book, I knew I would bask in the whole gloriousness of the imagery, and bask I did. I can tell you now that this book matched ‘Snowdrops’ for me, which had been my favourite book of the Star and Sixpence so far, and perhaps surpasses it.

The romance was ramped up, with a possible love triangle, that didn’t seem to be an equal triangle, but was there all the same. Owen and Nessie made me smile and say ‘aw’ out loud (it was fine, there was nobody around!) and in general I actually began to wonder if this was the final installment (it wasn’t, the Christmas edition, available here , is the ending and I think this will be my Christmas sit down and chill out book for this year!).

As always, the goings on of the pub put me right there, as well as the locals’ involvement in the book, this time with Ruby taking my breath away. There was the added drama of Patrick, Nessie’s soon to be ex-husband, turning up, worryingly with an interest in The Star and Sixpence. Sam, as always, was on fire, and made me smile regularly, and nod along. Nessie, being Nessie, was still a bit negative for me, but it didn’t impact too much to be honest. As for the ending, a boulder formed in the bottom of my stomach that made me want to go trawling the streets for someone who had read it, asking ‘Can you believe that just happened? Can you?’ (This was where I flew to Amazon worrying that we had just been left, but we hadn’t. Phew!)

This was one of my standouts for 2016, with drama, smile out loud moments, heartache and all round gorgeousness that put Holly Hepburn as a force to be reckoned with on the romantic comedy scene.

Rating: 5/5 (if I could unread it so that I could let it all wash over me again I would!)

 

 

Novella review: Summer at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

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Length: 80 pages

Note: The image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: The perfect summer novella for all fans of Cathy Bramley and Scarlett Bailey.

When sisters Sam and Nessie left the city lights to take over The Star and Sixpence pub in Little Monkham, little did they realise they’d be taking on the villagers too… 
 
Thrown in at the deep end with a wedding to organise at the same time as launching their new hotel rooms, the last thing they need is Sam’s past catching up with them.
 
As the scandal strikes, the only question is will the villagers stick their necks out for two relative newcomers? Or will Franny, the terrifying postmistress, see them gone for good… 

The Review: I have to start by apologising for posting a Summer book so late in the year, I know it bugs a lot of people to see for example Christmas reviews in Summer, and said people are possibly shaking their head at the sheer gall of me posting a Summer review when the nights have turned cold, the clock is gone back, and the leaves on the trees, are not only donning their Autumn finery, but also starting to lose it, so sorry, but anyhoo, here we go.

You know when you see an ad for a sequel and you hear ‘Theyyy’rre back!’ and there’s much clapping and excitement? Well this is how I felt when I got back to Sam and Nessie, smack bang in the middle of renovations at the Star and Sixpence (read my reviews of Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence here and Valentine’s Day at the star and sixpence here). As usual there’s a race against time to get their charming establishment ready for an occasion, this time a wedding, with everyone doing their best of pull together to get the job done. What I love about these books is that we were invited in as if we were a resident of Little Monkham with the level of detail of both people and events making me feel like I was right there. I suppose this naturally leads to the characters, who I always feel are nicely varied, and I warmed to them all over again, in particular Franny, who surprised everyone with some unexpected opinions and a lovely speech. A ‘baddy’ presented themselves also, brilliantly done, which gave us THE insight into Sam we’ve been waiting for. I’ve always loved Sam, and this helped me understand her even more, however it did shine more of a light on Nessie also, by contrasting Sam’s vibrancy with her negativity, which was a little too much sometimes, although not enough to take away from the beautiful romance that raised its head once again.

I really enjoyed this book. I settled into it so quickly, reading on with interest to watch the glorious romance, drama and fun unfold. I’d love to tell you I can’t wait for the Autumn installment, but actually I’ve read it so I’ll be bringing you that installment on Wednesday (hint: I can’t wait to write this review!!)

Rating: 4/5

 

My February Bookish Wrap Up!

Please note: if you don’t have the time to read through the post, the pics link to the reviews! Enjoy:)

thevalentinefreezonethegirlyoulostvalentinesdayatthestarandsixpencethe astonishingreturnofNorahWellssomewhereonlyweknowthetheseushowtogethitchedSmartgirlfriendslikethese

 

So it’s been a good February, reading wise, maybe better writing-wise, as I finally put aside something I’ve been working on for a long time, that has been giving me no joy, and have started on a new story instead. I felt better the second I made the decision, as it was like pulling teeth, and although I’ve been set back a few months I’m really excited to see where the new story takes me:)

In terms of books, Valentines was very much in the air, with me finding myself very happy on reading the next of The Star and Sixpence series by Holly Hepburn, Valentine’s Day at the Star and Sixpence, which was really good, although it didn’t quite beat Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence, one of my top Christmas reads, and continuing with me finding a short gem from Fiona Gibson, author of As Good as it Gets called The Valentine-Free Zone. I was honoured to be part of Samantha Tonge’s ‘How to Get Hitched in 10 days’ blog tour. How to Get Hitched in 10 days was the perfect short story for those who are fans of their rom coms that have multiple characters and many misunderstandings and was beyond enjoyable, although in a different way to Game of Scones, which I had read last year.

 

As you can see from above it was a month where I mostly back to a few fave authors, with The Girl You Lost by Kathryn Croft being almost as enjoyable as The Girl With No Past, which was a five out of five read for me. I also rediscovered Virginia Macgregor, whose second book ‘The Astonishing Return of Norah Wells‘ was as unputdownable as ‘What Milo Saw.

I was very taken with the bewitching Smart Girl by Rachel Hollis, although I decided it might be for a different age-group to myself. I became a fan for life of Erin Lawless, as I wrote my review for ‘Somewhere only we know,’ a rom com that visits the emigration office to see if the vibrant Nadia will be deported, got to meet a group of zany friends that made me laugh out loud in ‘Friends Like These,’ jumped out of my comfort zone to investigate the 7/7 bombings in The Theseus paradox by David Videcette(I also posted an excerpt), and finally, but perhaps most excitingly, I had a blogger interview with the beyond lovely Sharon, from the brilliant Shaz’s Book blog. Not a bad month, actually!;)

Valentine’s Day at The Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn

valentinesdayatthestarandsixpence

Amazon US link

Amazon UK Link

What they say: Fall in love at the Star and Sixpence this Valentine’s Day….

Love is in the air as sisters Nessie and Sam prepare for Valentine’s Day at their newly renovated pub, The Star and Sixpence. They have a star chef winging her way from London to cook a very special Valentine’s Day dinner, for all the couples in the village.

But as sparks fly in the kitchen, will love bloom in The Star and Sixpence? A romantic short story, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley and Scarlett Bailey.

 

The Review: To start this is the second in the Star and Sixpence Series. I would say it can be read as a stand alone though there’s definitely some big things to come so I’d say go for the whole series!

I had been looking forward to the arrival of this short story since I read ‘Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence‘ at Christmas time and I was not disappointed. We return to the small village of Little Monkham, which is home to their charming ‘sixteenth century coaching inn,’ The Star and Sixpence, to join Sam and Nessie, who, at Christmas time, had moved into said establishment after they inherited it from their late, absent father, and we find them in the midst of all the bustle of preparations for a Valentine’s night event. Obviously, given that this is a short story and not a novella, there wasn’t the amount happening that was in the first book (a novella) and I was sorry for this, I could easily have done with a novella instead, but that’s just me, more will appreciate the length and content of this.

All in all, I soon jumped back into everything, looking forward to seeing what was happening with Joss, Owen, Ruby, Frannie and all the villagers. The short story flew by in a series of the fuzzy, warm, welcoming descriptions that Holly Hepburn does so beautifully and my interest was definitely piqued enough to, again, be anticipating the next installment ‘Summer at the Snowdrop and Sixpence’ (there were a few suggestions in this story as to where the pub could go as well as some mysteries still not divulged so bring it on!). I’d definitely recommend, and if possible, given the weather for those on this side of the world, I’d say even go for the first in this series too, the Christmas one, as it’s not top heavy on the festiveness, it’s there but the story will easily take you through as it’s not quite Summer yet! At this very moment (13th February) Valentine’s Day at the Star and Sixpence is FREE ON AMAZON so make sure to treat yourself!

Rating: 4/5

My Christmas Wrap up (and an extra little something for Christmas…)

Well, all that’s left is to give an overview of all the Christmas books on my blog. I have to say I enjoyed the books of the festive season so much, they really brought forward all the excitement and cheer of Christmas so that I got into the mood in early October! They were so diverse that I have a few favourites. Not only that, but there’s a few I have no doubt I’ll be recommending a few years on, they dragged me in and wouldn’t let me out of their warm, beautifully festive clutches! You’ll guess what they are from the reviews.

So here it goes. Obviously the list isn’t complete due to the demise of my right hand, my Kindle, but I’ve covered those that I would have gotten a chance to read had my one year old not been curious about the device he sees in my hand most days (read all about it and take a look at the books I had to leave behind here!) The reviews are linked in with the name of the books to make it easier for you. Enjoy and merry Christmas!

If you like them a little bit dark,  geeky … and brilliant The Art Of Christmas (a short story) by Jane Lovering is for you

the art of christmas

If you like them warm, beautiful and magical, with lashings of fairy dust and charm, then Every Time a Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington is for you

everytimea bell

If you like them charming, funny and gorgeously festive, with romance and a nice hint of suspense, then Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence (a novella) by Holly Hepburn is for you.

Snowdrops

If you love a bit of a dash to the altar, coupled with warmth, beauty, festiveness and all in between then Snowed in For Her Wedding (a short story) by Emma Bennet is for you.

Snowed In For Christmas

If you like short, hilarious, mad cap ‘mom lit’ that’ll make you laugh out loud and while away the hours after the kids are gone to bed, then Survival of The Christmas Spirit by Aimee Horton (short story) is for you.

SurvivalOfTheChristmasSpirit

If you like them spooky, kooky and yet warm, christmassy and funny then Make A Christmas Wish by Julia Williams is for you.

make a christmas wish

If you like books with  beautiful characters, stunning Christmas scenes and gorgeous romance with some comedy in there too, then Christmas Ever After by Sarah Morgan is for you.

ChristmasEverAfter

If you like a warm, magical, festive ‘dreams can come true’ romantic comedy, then Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale is for you.

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses

If you like them to be all about family getting together at Christmas, with pandemonium and brightness and festiveness, tears and smiles, then An Endless Christmas (a novella) by Cynthia Ruachti is for you.

Anendlesschristmas

If you want to go on a Christmassy road trip, that’s bright, festive, and all about goodwill and cheer, with a reminder of the holy side of Christmas, then The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson is for you.

TheChristmasJoyRide

I’ll finish with All I Want for Christmas, a piece I’m very proud of as it was written by our Imagine, Write, Inspire writing group led by the amazing Carmel Harrington (I know, blatant self promotion here, but I honestly think you’ll enjoy!). So if you like one long festive, quirky romantic comedy, narrated by different people to give different parts of our lead character’s story, then All I Want for Christmas is for you!

alliwant