The #Bookvent Calendar 2021 – Day One


#Bookvent – Celebrating my top reads of 2021

Here we are again. I can hardly believe that the time has once again arrived for me to share my top reads of the year. For the uninitiated, Bookvent is my annual countdown towards Christmas in which I share my top reads of 2021. Usually I struggle to whittle down the list and so I set some very clear criteria. Bookvent titles must

Have been published in 2021
Have been judged to be at least a 5 star read
Red Hot Reads titles automatically make the list

There is no ranking to the way in which the books are presented in the early part of the list, they are just in the order of publication and/or review date. Only when I get to the final day is there any kind of ranking as I will be presenting my top three reads of the year. It has been a strange year this year in as much as I have actually given out a really high number of RHR awards and so my list is almost exclusively made up of them, with just a few other books that, having looked back on them, I probably should or would have awarded top honours to if I was writing my review again now. And because space is limited this year, and I have. read a lot of back list titles that I loved, I will be doing an extra post later in the month celebrating those titles and some of the other books that really made their mark on my reading year.

But first – Bookvent Day 1. This is the one and only book that I bent the rules for, but only because it was published on New Years Eve! Because it was so late in 2020 it missed out on my Bookvent last year but I couldn’t, for the sake of 24 hours, let it miss out this year. Now this book really made an impression. One of a long running series and perhaps not the kind of book that most readers would associate with my blog, this book made me laugh and it made me smile, but it also made me shed the odd tear or too. With one absolutely memorable character who we could all wish to be, and the proof that it’s never too late for second chances, my day one bookvent read is …


The Lake House by Christie Barlow

The only book you need during lockdown – heartwarming, uplifting and a cast of characters who will become your best friends!

Love Heart Lane – where friends are there for you no matter what

There’s a newcomer to the village of Heartcross and she’s never been more in need of a friend.

As the new waitress at the local bistro, The Lake House, Ella is ready to start afresh ––and that could mean there’s love on the horizon in the form of the gorgeous Roman, the local water taxi driver. Every day Roman is there to ferry Ella to the restaurant on the other side of the lake and every night he makes sure she gets home safe. But Roman has secrets of his own…

Can the Love Heart Lane community offer Ella a chance of a new life? Or will the ghosts of her past catch up with her?


I think we all need a holiday cottage in Heartcross. Christie Barlow has created such a wonderful series, a wonderful community, that every time you pick up a book and start reading, it is like coming home. The series has a wonderful array of characters who drop in and out of the stories, providing you with the familiarity you crave, and the sense of community and belonging that make these books such a treat to read. More than that though, with each story, each new waif and stray that the community adopts – and there are many – you feel the warmth, the good humour and the positivity that makes this series a winner for me. Each of the central characters has a story, some tragedy or happenstance that draws them to seek refuge in Heartcross, and in this case it is Ella, nursing a broken heart and still bearing all the scars of a very broken relationship, even if what we learn is probably more obvious to the reader as casual observer than it is Ella herself. But beyond her story, this is a tale of new beginnings and second chances and every bit as heartwarming as Christie Barlow’s other stories. With elements of romance, plenty of humour, a few crossed wires and some moments of tension, there is a little but of everything in this book and I loved it. But for me it is Dolores who really makes this book a winner. She is an absolute hoot, full of hidden depths and a dream of a character. I can only hope I have all the vim and vigour of Dolores when I’m ninety. She made me laugh, so, so much. What a gal.

Yes this is a romance and, like all good romances, the path to true love is a particularly rocky one. Or should that be choppy – it’s love on the waves after all. Sort of. With a glorious finale to a wonderful tale, this book had me shedding tears whilst cheering our heroine Ella along on her voyage of discovery. An absolute cracker and, as I write this up, I have the next book in the series, Heartcross Castle, lined up to read and I cannot wait. This bookvent nod is as much for the series as it is for this particular book, they are so much fun.

You can find my full review of The Lake House right here.


Happy #bookvent reading all