Crafts · Jottings · Knitting

Parish Notices

Hello all – what’s been happening round your own little parishes?

April has been a month of reading, resting, Ragdale Hall and spring cleaning. Two weeks off can do that for a girl you know!

I have all these great ideas of blogging about other things and I even hinted as such in my last Parish Notices post – that has yet to come to fruition. I think maybe the lack of access to proper computer and not quite there with blogging on my iPad means I only use the computer blog when I am home with my parents or if I can sneak a few minutes at work to knock up a review or something and then email myself for editing later on.

The other thing that could be stopping me writing these posts is the reading – do check out these recent reviews and recently published books

I found this book such a joyous and uplifting read and showed you that you can diversify when you need to and keep those around you as close as you can – they will love you the most. A great read and if you like your stories, full of cake and countryside then this is a must. Think Countryfile and Mary Berry mixed together!

 

An enjoyable read which has everything you want from women’s fiction – to take you away on holiday, for romance, for laughs and for some wonderful food.

Phillipa Ashley has done it again and she is fast becoming an author you can rely on for great reads.

Then there is the wonder that is Ragdale Hall – one day from the return of one of my visits I will write all about it.

After a lot of clearing out and dusting, I made space again for the jigsaw and also found that the spare room is much better than the living room in terms of light. Many an hour has been lost….

Then there is wool, colour, crochet, knitting and blankets galore!

What has been keeping you occupied in your part of the parish?

 

Books

A Perfect Cornish Summer – Phillipa Ashley

 

Any novel that is based in Cornwall is always going to be a good one and when you combine it with good storytelling such as the work of Phillipa Ashley then you are in for a wonderful read.

A Perfect Cornish Summer, fits this description. What started as a small idea ten years previously has grown into something more – the annual food festival in Porthmellow.  Sam the festival organiser had the original idea ten years ago and it was only meant to be a small event but it has grown and grown and it looks like this years is going to be bigger than ever.

When the famous headline chef for the festival has to withdraw due to some misappropriation of money  – it looks like the tenth festival will not be as stand out as Sam had first wanted. That is until Chloe an incomer to Porthmellow wanting to get more involved in the local community manages to gain TV Chef Gabe Maithas to attend.

What Chloe doesn’t realise that Gabe is well-known in Porthmellow

He left a long time ago and many people remember what he did before he went.

Sam certainly remembers as it had an impact on her and her family at the time and still now.

Will Gabe’s presence stir up old memories or will he be able to get people on side again?

Chloe, might have caused an upset, but she has made her mark on a few people in the village and her past is about to arrive and bring a whole load of baggage with it. Troy into his eighties, still helping the harbour master and his wife Evie provide some sage advice to everyone as well as humour in the book. Outspoken Bryony and her dog seem to pop up at the most interesting moments. Drew spends his time on the sea, but his quiet persona doesn’t detract from the turmoil he is going through. Zennor, Sam’s younger but probably wiser sister has some romantic interests if only they were reciprocated.

As for Sam, how can she possibly have enough time for anything when she is organising a food festival.

There is a lot going on in this novel and it takes you a few chapters to get straight who everyone is and how they all relate.  I find this with any start of a series of novels, the groundwork has to be done to keep us reading the book but also to then go and pick up subsequent novels featuring characters we have grown to love and probably dislike in equal measure.

Besides being full of characters and storylines it is also full of the descriptions of wonderful food including the mouth-watering sounding pies which Sam creates in between festival business. Of course there is the setting of Cornwall, always guaranteed to bring you brilliant weather and high winds to threaten marquees and people in equal measure.

An enjoyable read which has everything you want from women’s fiction – to take you away on holiday, for romance, for laughs and for some wonderful food.

Phillipa Ashley has done it again and she is fast becoming an author you can rely on for great reads.

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

A Perfect Cornish Summer is published on 25th April. 

 

Books

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter – Hazel Gaynor

If I asked you who Grace Darling was you would probably be able to give me a sketchy idea of lifeboats, saving people and lighthouses. That was extent of my knowledge without a book or google to hand to fill in the details.

This book whilst fictionalising the story of Grace did something else for me. It filled in huge gaps in my knowledge of the event, of the way lighthouses work, the life that was led by these families and more importantly where women stood in the hierarchy of such things.

1938, Rhode Island,America.  Matilda Emmerson has been sent to stay with a distant relative, she has disgraced her good family by becoming pregnant out of wedlock. The distant relative happens to be a lighthouse keeper and there Matilda starts to come to terms with her subsequent pregnancy and starts to learn a lot about her past. Even down to why she was called Matilda.

100 years previous and Grace Darling spots the Forfarshire in trouble and assists her father in the rescue of some survivors. In the days before social media and instant celebrity, the speed in which everyone knew about Grace is staggering for its time. Boat tours went past the lighthouse in calmer weather to get a glimpse of her and people wanted literally a piece of her. Locks of hairs, portraits it seemed these were the ‘selfies’ of the day. Grace is very humble about what she has done and sees no reason for the attention which is brought to herself, her family and the lighthouse. She remembers that lives were lost and the families that were destroyed.

A book with strong female characters, some of them initially not that likeable until you start to realise the circumstances in which they are surviving. It is not only other people’s actions and emotions that can affect you. Your surroundings, the landscape can have detrimental effect to; the sea can tear them apart, keep them separate, can show you the truth and it can shape your life forever.

If you like historical fiction and want something different, then this is certainly the book for you.

A worthy and worthwhile read.

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

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter is out now. 

Books

Rachel’s Pudding Pantry – Caroline Roberts

Three generations of women are living at Primrose Farm, they have lost their husband, father, grandfather and whilst still reeling from the event they are struggling to hold on to everything that is dear to them. Including the farm.

Rachel has taken on the mantle of farmer and not afraid to get her hands dirty or spend sleepless nights with lambing ewes, nothing is a bother even looking after her own small child, Maisie.

Jill, Rachel’s mum is famed for her baking and her pudding, although Rachel is just as good. as she emerges from a stage of grief, Jill takes to making puddings for more than just her family.

A small idea is transformed in a bigger one and when Jill and Rachel take on something on a larger scale it has to work to keep the farm going.

With any of these gentle tales, nothing quite goes to plan and that is what makes it such a lovely story to read, you are drawn right into the story, into the farm, the kitchen and the smells of the baking as you care immediately about all the characters and what happens to them.

Add in a big dollop of romance and all the fresh air of the countryside positively goes to your head. Tom the neighbouring farmer, attractive and still single, who is willing to help with whatever countryside or pudding emergency might be required. Can romance blossom over sticky toffee pudding and sheep? Or will exes, children and misunderstandings get in the way?

I found this book such a joyous and uplifting read and showed you that you can diversify when you need to and keep those around you as close as you can – they will love you the most. A great read and if you like your stories, full of cake and countryside then this is a must. Think Countryfile and Mary Berry mixed together!

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

Rachel’s Pudding Pantry is published on the 18th April. 

 

Books

The Family Secret – Tracy Buchanan

Amber, divorced and still single, working in her gift shop is still grieving for the child she lost ten years previously. Her child is now her work and she can think of nothing else.

That is until a girl wanders onto the beach by Amber’s gift shop with no recollection of who she is, where she is, why she is there or even her name and age.

Amber senses a story with this girl and the girl only seems to trust Amber. But can Amber help this lost soul when she is in fact still lost herself.

Gwyneth is a famous wildlife documentary maker. She is never at home always on the way to or coming from the latest project. Gwyneth finds herself lost in the wilds of Scotland, by a frozen loch and decides to cross it to get some help. It turns out she will need the help.

That help comes from Dylan McCluskey at home for Christmas.

Two storylines, twenty years apart and with very different tales to tell. Both could have been seperate stories and Tracy Buchanan has created them so well that you had to keep reading because you knew at some point these stories were going to cross, to connect to unearth the secrets that had been kept for many years.

Not only are we given excellent characters with flaws to relate to, with guilt and secrets to hide but the author has put it all in some rather bleak settings, the winter at the beach, the snow of Scotland even transporting us to Iceland where the light is not always so bright. All of the landscapes and places bring another layer to the story and add to the whole atmosphere of the story.

This is a great read and one that you will get hooked by, I had to keep reading to find out the truth, the secrets and who exactly the mysterious girl without a memory was.

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

The Family Secret is out now. 

 

Books · Jottings

March Roundup

It has been a very odd month reading wise – work has been horrendous in varying measures and I have been so exhausted and stressed by it all I have probably not read as much as I normally do and had a slump of about five days when I just could not get into any book at all.

I felt disheartened, especially when I ploughed on with Judy Leigh – The Age of Misadventure when I perhaps should have given it up. It was an okay book, but nothing about the characters made me warm to any of them and if anything they were quite irritating and the plot meant you needed to suspend reality for a little while. I know some have loved it and will love it but it really was not for me. That will be my extent of my review on netgalley.

I did try to start a number of other books over the month, The Road to Grantchester was one, which I read quite a bit, but I found the war setting at the beginning rather harrowing and put the book down, as I felt it was not helping my mental state. In the end I just went a couple of days without reading.

It all sounds depressing but there was some lovely bright reads amongst my melancholy March!

Sarah Bennett – Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle this is the first in a new series from Sarah Bennett, who I have been reading since her first book was published and you will find her a popular author on this blog. This I think is goign to be the beginning of the best series so far. I am pitching it as Antiques Roadshow meets Downton Abbey – it will bring some much needed sun and warmth into your life. It helped me no end – and I cannot wait to go back to Bluebell Castle.

Of course Cornwall always brings as smile to the soul, even if I have never been and only lived the place vicariously through my reading. Phillipa Ashley – A Perfect Cornish Summer does just that and adds in a food festival to make your mouth water as you read. A perfect read for summer and holidays in fact at anytime!

So from Derbyshire with Sarah to Cornwall with Phillipa I then went to the Cotswolds with Liz and more food after all that travelling. Liz Eeles – New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle treats us to a cup of tea and a cherry tart if you fancy in the cafe situated in a bookshop. What more could a book loving customer want! And we can go back for seconds at the Cosy Kettle when the next book comes out.

The last few years my blog has been dominated by a lot of women’s fiction – I know that is not everyones cup of tea but isn’t that the great thing about reading and books? Something to fit everyone and every mood. Of course I do love a good historical saga and anything set in the past as well which is why some of the books I read are vastly different to the perhaps the majority!

That was the case with this debut novel Georgina Clarke – Death and the Harlot: A Lizzie Hardwicke Novel where I was transported back to the 18th century, to London, to highwaymen, murders and ladies of the night. What an interesting background for a murder mystery and an interesting twist of a sidekick for a detective!

Further forward to the Second World War with Lorna Cook – The Forgotten Village a dual timeline and narrative about a village requisitioned and never returned to its residents. It still lays empty today.

Even further forward to the 1980s and 1990s, as I grow older I realise this is very much the past and history for some! Tracy Buchanan – The Family Secret  a new author to me and one who I will return to. This is a story of mothers, of loss and of secrets that are kept to protect and punish others. Fascinating and gripping!

All of the books read in March are from netgalley requests and I think I need to spend some time reading off my shelves for a while. So many books calling out to me and with two weeks of holiday about to start, there is plenty of time for reading.

Happy April everyone!

Books

Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle – Sarah Bennett

Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle

She wasn’t looking for love…

When Lucie Kennington flees the bright lights of London for the quiet Derbyshire countryside, she’s shocked to discover that the heir to the Bluebell Castle estate is far from the wizened employer she expected.

In fact, Arthur Ludworth might just be the most handsome man Lucie’s ever laid eyes on – and a terrible distraction! So when she stumbles across a legendary painting feared lost for centuries, she can’t believe her luck – perhaps this is the hidden treasure to save Arthur and his family from ruin?

But it’s only a matter of time before Lucie’s past catches up with her and by then it’s too late, she’s falling for him…

Perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley, Rachael Lucas and Hilary Boyd.

MY REVIEW

Lucie is on the run. On the run from something she did not actually do, but in the world of antiques, auction houses and reputation she needs to disappear for a while. Holed up in a castle seems a good as place as any.

But there is work to be done at this castle – answering the job advertisement for a curator to record all the artefacts held within Bluebell Castle. Lucie has visions of Arthur Ludworth the current Baronet as some old relic who is going to be as difficult as he is helpful.

What Lucie does not realise is she is about to walk into something out of an Arthurian Legend.

Arthur Ludworth, eldest male in triplets by minutes is left the legacy of Bluebell Castle and all the bad investments and therefore debts that his father left behind. He knows that he needs to capture the idea of perhaps opening up his home to cash in on the Castle’s history as well as its artefacts, but there is also talk of a missing painting which might explain the obsession that all Ludworths have had with Arthur, Lancelot and the Knights of the Round Table.

Lucie finds herself enthralled by the story of the legend, the artefacts in the castle, the diaries and Arthur Ludworth certainly not an old relic but one who is distractingly handsome.

Will the missing painting remain a legend?

Will Lucie’s past catch up with her?

Will Bluebell Castle survive the debts, the intrigued and the new love burgeoning within its walls?

Not up for me to tell you – go and read this wonderful new novel in the first of a new series from Sarah Bennett.

It has everything that I could possibly want from a really good story; romance, mystery, history, a castle and even a Butler! If all or any of these things, fascinate you then read the book, it will bring joy to you in abundance.

It is like the Antiques Roadshow meets Downton Abbey and I am totally in love with it! Sarah Bennett has done it again and I think this is going to be her best series to date.

 

Thank you to the author, netgalley and Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to read this book and be part of the Blog Tour. 

Great news to – we are going to return to Bluebell Castle later in the year!

In the meantime you can buy Spring Skies Over Bluebell Castle on

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

Apple

Kobo

Who is Sarah Bennett?

Sarah Bennett has been reading for as long as she can remember. Raised in a family of bookworms, her love affair with books of all genres has culminated in the ultimate Happy Ever After – getting to write her own stories to share with others.

Born and raised in a military family, she is happily married to her own Officer (who is sometimes even A Gentleman). Home is wherever he lays his hat, and life has taught them both that the best family is the one you create from friends as well as relatives.

When not reading or writing, Sarah is a devotee of afternoon naps and sailing the high seas, but only on vessels large enough to accommodate a casino and a choice of restaurants.

Sarah is the author of the Butterfly Cove, Lavender Bay and the forthcoming Bluebell Castle trilogies, published by HQ Digital UK.

Find Sarah on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon Author Page