Hello after a bit of a gap – I have got lots of reviews for you now as I’ve been doing LOTS of reading. I’m going to revert to my multiple-books-in-one-review strategy for a post or two otherwise I’ll never get caught up again! Unfortunately, I was a little under the weather last week: I’m OK and nearly back to full strength and it’s done wonders for the TBR and its associated Pile (see my May TBR post for the Terrible Pile).

Debbie Macomber – “Alaska Skies”, “Alaska Nights” and “Alaska Home”

(April 2017)

A set of six books (two in each volume – she does this a lot) plus a novella detailing a couple of years in the life of the fictional small town, Hard Luck, Alaska, North of the Arctic Circle and suffering from a bit of a population imbalance. The three O’Halloran brothers decide to recruit some women to work in their town, mainly to keep the pilots from their air service occupied with some new people to meet, although it turns out the brothers are more interested in keeping the ladies to themselves. Some women move to the town to find love (they don’t usually last long), some to escape, some for the challenge, and some for other reasons, as the wise cafe owner, Ben, finds out. It’s not too stereotyped – the men are gently mocked for being rubbish at romance or showing they care rather than just being strong, mean types, and there’s gentle humour and affection throughout. There is a bit of a similar pattern in the romance is threatened, will they, won’t they type stuff, but that showed up more because I galloped through these all one after the other in a couple of days. The novella, set about 15 years after the main books, gives a great resolution to people’s stories and is nicely done.

There are different characters to enjoy and the small-town community, as always, is done really well and attractively. Alaska, with its long nights and snow but flower-filled summer tundra, is almost another character and is charmingly presented. A great comfort read.

Jenny Colgan – “Class”

(29 October 2016, Buxton)

Originally published under the name Jane Beaton, these didn’t do as well as they would have under the author’s real name, so they’ve been republished, with at least one more in print and maybe others to come.

This is described as the school story for grown-ups that the author wanted to read, and it certainly is that. It takes the tropes of the girls’ school by the sea, the strange mix of teachers and the new intake of students, jostling for position, but views most of it from the point of view of Maggie, newly moved from Glasgow with a chip on her shoulder about entitlement, and the head teacher, who has a past of her own. There’s a scholarship girl as well as the usual mean girls and trendies, a bit of traditional peril, and a handsome teacher from the boys’ school along the coast, so a good mix without being too silly or melodramatic.

I did find an emphasis on weight loss but a jokey dismissal of eating disorders which doesn’t make it suitable for all readers (although the girl in question doesn’t lose weight and proves to have sporting prowess, so maybe that balances it out a bit). But the range of characters and stories is good and I will definitely look out for the next volume.

To come, we have Mark Ellen’s autobiography (at last!), Mrs Tim of the regiment and some pony stories. What have you all been up to? I know I’m behind on my blog reading (and my own competitions, sorry!!) so share some fun facts about your reading over the last 10 days or so, please!