Summer at Skylark Farm – Heidi Swain

Amber has her dream job, in London, she works hard, is on call it seems all the time and is in demand. However, she does not have that ever talked about work/life balance. She has not had a holiday for more than 3 years and positively cringes if anyone messes up her near perfect kitchen, by actually cooking in it.

When her boyfriend, Jake decides he is going to go back to help his Auntie Annie at her farm so that it can still remain in the family, Amber has to decide if she can possibly cope without him in her life, let alone whether she can cope living so far away from the city and all its delights. When a job opportunity raises it head, Amber has a difficult decision to make, but her boss gives her six months to think about it, which means she gets six months to see whether farm life is for her…..but she doesn’t tell Jake any of this.

Amber embraces farm and country life fairly quickly, even if it is very much removed the country lifestyle magazines she has been used to reading. She gets on Annie and suddenly finds herself welcomed into this thriving community.

However, it was never going to be an easy transition, from incidents with kettles, emergency midwifery, the threat of cancelling the village fair, a wedding and even attempting to bake a cake in a kitchen far removed from the sterile environment in London that she was used to. Amber seems to take all of these challenges level headedly and uses the skills from her city job with as much aplomb in the country.

The one challenge she did not expect though is Jake’s ex girlfriend. Returned from wherever she went and suddenly wanting to be everyone’s friend in the village. It seems that Amber cannot manage this situation without her emotions getting in the way. The six months are nearly up and perhaps it is time to tell the truth before someone else beats Amber to it?

A really lovely read that had me in the mind of authors such as Trisha Ashley, Carole Matthews. A book with a sense of community, the coming together of everyone to fight a particular cause and the threat of the equilibrium being disturbed by a returning figure. A delightful summer read and one that makes you want to secretly don your own flower wellies and get stuck right in.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Summer at Skylark Farm is out now. 

 

The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts – Annie Darling

Posy Morland, lives above the bookshop where she works with her little brother after tragedy strikes. The only real family she has is her colleagues. All very different and all with a love of books, no more than Posy who finds her life and comfort between the pages of romances novels.

When Lavinia, the owner of Bookends dies and leaves the shop to Posy. Suddenly Posy needs to stop reading about a fictional life and start dealing with the real world, because everything she holds dear is about to be rocked at its foundations.

However trying to revive a bookshop which hardly sees any customers and has as much dust as books, is going to be a challenge in the 6 month window especially when she has to deal with Sebastian.

Lavinia was Sebastian’s grandmother and she clearly doted on him and spoilt him in abundance. He has grown up to be a ‘man about town’. Andy anyone who is anyone has been seen photographed with Sebastian in London. Posy though remembers the days when they use to play as small children and she was always that little bit in love with him. Now though he has turned into the rudest man in town.

And he has other ideas about what should be done with this little bookshop.

It will no doubt been a battle of wills and one of them is going to have to back down. But who will it be?

To get her revenge and to deal with her thoughts, Posy begins to write a story in the style of a regency romance. As readers we get to see Posy’s thoughts expressed in her writing peppered throughout this book.

As the struggle to bring the bookshop to life from the dream of Posy’s mind faces some ups and downs and some interesting encounters not just with Sebastian but the other members of the quirky staff in the shop it seems that at least the shop will have a happy ever after.

I loved this book, it was already onto a good thing being set in a bookshop and being about books. The characters were strong, it made a nice change to have a different dynamic in the family background. Older sister, younger brother; loss of parents. Grandson and grandmother and also the delightful way of bringing regency romance novels to a wider audience. I agree go and pick up some Georgette Heyer and see how some things have not changed in all the years of women’s fiction.

I am thrilled that this is the first in a series of books, but disappointed that I am going to have to wait so long for the next one.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this book.

The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts is out now.

Letters from Lighthouse Cottage – Ali McNamara

Sandybridge is a British seaside town with everything you would expect it to have. It is definitely a place for tourists to come and visit but for Grace it is somewhere she wants to escape from.

Why when there is a whole world  out there would you want to spend your life in one place. Grace is itching for adventure and to spread her wings. She is not going to get it helping her parents in their antique shop and she can’t understand why her new friend Charlie would want to settle in Sandybridge.

Help comes from an unexpected quarter for Grace and although she does escape Sandybridge there seems to be more than one thing keep bringing her back there.

It is either her parent, her dog, her best friend Charlie, her first crush Danny and even her love of history seems to still all centre around Sandybridge. Perhaps everything is really under your nose and GRace has to go away to find out it was there all the time.

With the help of Grace’s quirky acquaintance Remy, we watch as an awkward fifteen year old branches out, finds herself and others and discovers the world in very different terms to what she imagined. The book switches between Grace early years in the Eighties, which made me rather reminiscent of the eighties which I grew up in to  various important periods in her life.

There is a lot packed into this book upon reflection and it is not just full of teenage angst but the sort you get as an adult when you question the paths you take and the people you come across in your life.

A light read with a magical element or two which gave it a bit more substance than perhaps you were first expecting when you pick up the novel. This author is certainly progressing when it comes to her writing, as I have enjoyed this and her last novel much more than her first.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Letters from Lighthouse Cottage is out now.

The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane – Ellen Berry

My reading in 2016 has been taken up a lot by reading novels where bookshops feature. It is not deliberate but of course I am naturally going to be drawn to such books being a lover of books and bookshops.

This book was no exception. Kitty Cartwright has amassed a number of cookbooks, which cover everything from lard to aspic and everything in between. Cooking was her passion and her joy. However when her joy and passion went, the cookbooks stayed and now Kitty has sadly died it is up to her daughter Della Cartwright to find something to do with all these cookbooks.

And she does not want to throw them away. She wants to do something with them. In fact Della wants to do something with her life.

Now her daughter Sophie has left home, and her husband sudden interest in golf turns out to be something else entirely, Della wants to do something for her. And she wants to remember her mother and the fun time she had with those cookbooks.

Everyone thinks opening a shop that only specialises in cookbooks is madness, but Della is determined to see  it through and she starts to embrace another part of her life she never saw coming.

If you are a fan of Trisha Ashley, Carole Matthews and Katie Fforde to name a few then this book is just right for you to while away a few hours.

The storyline is good to keep you turning the page and whilst perhaps you think Della is a bit of a mumsy drudge she has in fact got strength from somewhere and stands up to everyone and for what she wants to do. By the end of the book I was cheering her on as she achieved much more than just simply opening a specialised book shop.

A feel good book and I would love to go back to Della and see how she is getting on in her bookshop on Rosemary Lane.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane is out today. 

 

The Secret by the Lake – Louise Douglas

Amy has never really belonged to a family. Even her own and despite when she has to go back and deal with a family crisis does she realise that the family she really misses, is the one she worked for, the Laurent family, Alain and Julia and their daughter Viviane.

When a tragedy within the Laurent family drives Amy back into their lives. She knows she can never leave them and must always protect them and their secrets.

The cottage where is Amy is helping Julia and Viviane is small, oppressive, dark and holding onto a very large secret.

One which is going to change everything. Julia’s dead sister, Caroline is the key to unlocking the secret. But for as long as the family are holed up in this cottage with no light coming it, the secret will eventually consume them.

Viviane seems to be in contact with Caroline, could it be that her death was exaggerated. The neighbours remain distant as if by talking to Amy they will become tainted somehow.

This is a rather dark book and has a ghostly quality to it, which I found interesting but rather depressing, mainly because of my rational mind taking over and not becoming absorbed into the story. That said, I do acknowledge that Louise Douglas has created a mysterious ghostly tale and one which I could not work out until near the very end.

The author captures the mood of the book, not just by the characters but by the scenery and landscape. The perpetual greyness, of living in this cottage near a lake, which seems forever shrouded in mist. That all escaping dampness which seems to penetrate deeply into all the characters both seen and unseen. It all adds layers to the story and which I readily appreciate, even if I was less than absorbed by the storyline.

Not my favourite Louise Douglas, but good nonetheless.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 

The Secret by the Lake is out now. 

 

Six in Six – 2016 My Choices

Thank you to everyone who has joined in so far in July. Thank you for all the lovely links back to me as well. I hope you find something that you can enjoy here. I will hopefully gather everyone who has joined in and put them all on one lovely post at the end of July.

So if you don’t know what Six in Six is well check out this post here.

Without further ado here are my choices:

  • Six books that I have read but not reviewed
  1. James Runcie – Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil
  2. David Nicholls – Starter for Ten
  3. Maureen Lee – The Kelly Sisters
  4. Alan Bradley – I am Half Sick of Shadows
  5. Sara Sheridan – British Bulldog
  6. Rosie Goodwin – Dilly’s Lass
  • Six authors I am looking forward to reading more of
  1. Lissa Evans – Crooked Heart
  2. Rachel Dove – The Chic Boutique on Baker Street
  3. Tracy Rees – Amy Snow
  4. Phillipa Ashley – Summer at the Cornish Cafe
  5. Annie Darling – The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts
  6. Bella Osborne – Willow Cottage
  • Six books I was disappointed with
  1. Patricia Wentworth – Fool Errant
  2. David Nicholls – Starter for Ten
  3. Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera – The Awakening of Miss Prim
  4. Louise Douglas – The Secret by the Lake
  5. Katherine Webb – The Unseen
  6. Shelley Harris – Jubilee
  • Six authors I have read before
  1. Katie Fforde
  2. Maureen Lee
  3. Veronica Henry
  4. Sara Sheridan
  5. Nicky Pellegrino
  6. Cathy Bramley
  • Six Books I Really, Really Loved
  1. Anna Hope – The Ballroom
  2. Cathy Bramley – Wickham Hall
  3. Rosie Goodwin – Dilly’s Sacrifice
  4. Rosie Goodwin – Dilly’s Lass
  5. Tilly Tennant – The Little Village Bakery
  6. Sara Sheridan – British Bulldog
  • Six covers I really loved 

It is interesting how books where I loved the covers did not live up to expectation and that books with rather nondescript covers were enthralling.

Here is to the next six months of reading. Have fun everyone!

Willow Cottage: Sunshine and Secrets- Bella Osborne

Thinking I was getting a whole story when I chose this book, based on the bright cover and the premise of another cottage come village tale, I was a bit disappointed it was only part one. Not being overly keen on serialised books, which seem to dominate at the moment. However, I became more disappointed once I started reading the book because I became hooked with the characters and their lives and I wanted to know more about Willow Cottage. I was clearly going to have to enjoy what I could read and wait patiently for the next part.

Beth buys a cottage at auction, unseen. No surveyor report, no photographs, Beth knows nothing about the cottage at all. All she does know is she has to get away and protect her son Leo and this seems the ideal opportunity.

When she does arrive in the village, she struggles to find Willow Cottage and whilst doing so encounters many of the eccentric locals. Then there is moody Jack who seems intent on showing up the mistake Beth has done in buying the cottage.

This is not the project Beth was looking for in the cottage, it is going to take more than some paint and carefully arranged cushions for Willow Cottage to stand out from behind the trees let alone as a habitable property with the prospect of selling it.

We get to know a little bit about Beth, but I couldn’t quite work out, what Beth was running away from, we see and learn a little bit through characters from Beth’s past but it does not all seem to be as it should. And that is why I kept reading and why I must now read part two!

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to read this book. 

Part 1 – Willow Cottage: Sunshine and Secrets is out today!