Books

Sunshine over Bluebell Castle – Sarah Bennett

I described the first in this trilogy from Sarah Bennett as Antiques Roadshow meets Downton Abbey – now Alan Titchmarsh has turned up and the Chelsea Flower Show is going to have competition!

Expect of course it isn’t Alan Titchmarsh but Will Talbot, a lad from the wrong side who found the right side from the kindness of neighbour who sparked his interest in gardening and landscaping and has led to him being one of the most popular ‘men about town’.

Trouble is Will doesn’t want to play the PR, Social Media game anymore and wants to go back to getting his hands dirty.

When Iggy Ludworth dreams about gardeners it is always Will Talbot not just for the sophisticated good looks but the vision he has. Iggy is struggling with the vision of the gardens for Bluebell Castle. She decides to contact him and send him some photos of what she thinks he could help with.

The photos and the offer of the work comes at the right time for Will.

Escaping to a castle seems the perfect place to hide from the media. Even if his disappearance still makes for news.

Ensconced in the castle and the gardens and already feeling like part of the Ludworth family, especially with Iggy. Will finds that this is all he ever wanted to do – get his hands dirty with his love of gardening and turning an idea into reality whilst sharing it all with that someone special.

When a surprise visitor turns up and disrupts the harmonious atmosphere in the castle it seems that perhaps a castle is not the best place to hide for any of the family.

What I love about this second book is whilst the main plot line focuses on Iggy’s, Arthur her brother was the main protagonist in the first book they are not forgotten and sidelined as they can be in such series of book by other authors. Arthur and Lucie are very much a part of the book as they are a part of the castle as well as the pack of dogs that seem to greet every visitor with vigour and enthusiasm. Tristan, Iggy’s brother, their Aunt and Uncle, Morgana and Lancelot are there as well and they all have their parts to play and are not merely two dimensional added characters.

I almost feel like I could step into the castle and be apart of the renovation, the history and also its  future.

This has to be my favourite series so far from this author and if you are looking for escapist reads that take you away, where it may not all be rosy but at least some people get their comeuppance and others get their happily ever afters then you need to by this series of books.

I am so looking forward to returning to the Bluebell Castle series later in the year.

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book. This has no way influenced my review. 

In a world of sometimes sad stuff, escaping into a book with a happy ever after is the perfect tonic! 

Sunshine over Bluebell Castle is published on 5th August.

Do check out the first in the series though – Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle

 

Books

Six in Six 2019 – My Choices

So without further ado here is my Six in Six for 2019.

  • Six books with workplaces in their title

Farm

Cafe

Shipyard

Picture House

Lighthouse

School

  • Six authors I have read before
  1. Lucinda Riley
  2. Heidi Swain
  3. Nancy Revell
  4. Christie Barlow
  5. Veronica Henry
  6. Sarah Bennett
  • Six books from the past that drew me back there
  1. Sara Sheridan – Mirabelle Bevan Series (Russian Roulette & Indian Summer)
  2. Lorna Cook – The Forgotten Village
  3. Hazel Gaynor – The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter
  4. Liz Fenwick – The Path to the Sea
  5. Georgina Clarke – Death and the Harlot
  6. Erica James – The Dandelion Years
  • Six new authors to me
  1. Lorna Cook – The Forgotten Village
  2. Erica James – The Dandelion Years
  3. Georgina Clarke – Death and the Harlot
  4. Caroline Roberts – Rachel’s Pudding Pantry
  5. Laura Purcell – The Silent Companions
  6. Kirsty Wark – The House on the Loch

 

  • Six Extracts from reviews I have written in 2019

This is a wonderful heartwarming novel, which deals with many issues across a spectrum – from “cradle to grave” and all of the characters in the book are wonderful. Add to that the setting of Scotland and the power of the weather and it felt I was transported right up there and was sharing the community spirit which simply floated off the pages. (Love Heart Lane – Christie Barlow)

*

The story though is ultimately about Greta and how despite being a Goldbaum from one branch and having to marry into another branch is fiercely independent and determined to make her mark and not be overlooked in any way. Her actions and challenges to the norm and what is ‘expected’ were both heartwarming and heartbreaking. She can be found naked under the cherry tree in the early days of marriage, she will breastfeed her son herself. She will understand the power and knowledge that women  can have in a man’s world. She will love and she will grieve, for everything she knows about her Goldbaum history will be torn apart by war and the greed of money. (House of Gold – Natasha Solomons)

*

This is a fantastic read. It has everything you want from a book, humour, tragedy, light and dark moments and covers some difficult subjects with careful consideration. Plus I got to learn a lot about viticulture as well as the word itself! Wonderful characters which are introduced gradually and all play a part in the overall story. They are not all flung in at the beginning of the novel, but woven into the tale as you go so they are full formed and can be remembered quite clearly once you have put the book down.

Vintage Cathy Bramley which absolutely fizzes! (A Vintage Summer – Cathy Bramley)

*

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

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. (Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle – Sarah Bennett)

*

This novel is told from all the three main character points of view, to help with your understanding and timeline, chapters are dated so we go between present day and the past.

The writing is so subtle that I was immediately drawn into the house party of Boskenna and the mystery that continued to build around the events and the house had me in mind of Rebecca…….I was convinced that Mrs Danvers was going to appear. Whilst of course she doesn’t the secrets that are tied up in the house and the family are going to have to come out.

The Cornish setting added to the atmosphere and the author has an uncanny knack of making it all three dimensional away from the page. I could taste the salt in the sea air and feel the heat of the sun. (A Path to the Sea – Liz Fenwick)

*

This is a great read which took me to the ever changing weather and landscapes of the Highlands of Scotland. Whilst characters first appeared in an earlier novel by Colgan which I had not read, there was enough background to see me through as this book is very much focussed on Zoe and Hari as well as the three children she comes to care for.

Subtly done, some rather difficult situations are encountered, selective mutism, mental health issues in youngsters as well as romance and friendships, the book has so much to give and was one of my favourite reads of 2019 so far. (The Bookshop on the Shore – Jenny Colgan)

 

  • Six books I have read but not reviewed
  1. Sarah Sheridan – Russian Roulette
  2. Agatha Christie – Dumb Witness
  3. Lucinda Riley – The Angel Tree
  4. Erica James – The Dandelion Years
  5. Judy Finnigan – Eloise
  6. Laura Purcell – The Silent Companions

That is my choices, I am really enjoying reading yours and there is still time to join in and tell everyone what you have enjoyed in the first six months of 2019.

 

Books

A Home from Home – Veronica Henry

Sometimes your name can dictate where your home is meant to be.

The Culbones have always lived in Rushbrook House, across the brook from them is Dragonfly Farm home to the Melchiors. The well to do, rich, higher in society than the rundown farm and the farmers across the water.

The differences between the families goes back years but the feud is still very much in the present and when events unfold after the death of Matthew Melchior it seems perhaps a bridge can be built between these families.

Tabitha and Georgia are Matthew’s great nieces who assume that their Great Uncle Matthew will have left the farm to Tabitha if not both of them. It has been their haven when they were growing up and Tabitha’s home for a long time. The life line she needed to survive.

But Matthew has a surprise for them – the farm is to be split into three. The other benefactor is a Gabriel Culbone.

Why would a Melchior leave something to a Culbone?

Gabriel Culbone is none the wiser and knows nothing of Matthew’s existence or the farm. His mother is no help and his grandmother is in a rapid decline from dementia.

Will the secrets that are revealed through both families go some way to start building bridges?

This book drew me in straight away, two seemingly separate storylines, both fascinating and in contrast to each other were at some point going to have to intertwine – I couldn’t see how (this is sign of a good writer in my humble opinion) and when they did more questions were raised than answered.

There is a lot to take in with the book, especially when you get to all the family relations but as we go back in time to see what happened to more than one of the present characters at no time does it become confusing. There is so much to learn and piece together it will have you reading well past your bedtime.

A family saga set in Somerset, with secrets, cider, romance, friendship, new beginnings and a place for everyone to call home.

A fine example of Veronica Henry’s work which I have been reading for a long while and they keep getting better and better.

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

A Home from Home is published on 25 July. 

 

 

Books

Four Weddings and a Festival – Annie Robertson

If you immediately misread this title as Four Weddings and a Funeral then you are going to enjoy the book immensely. In fact if you are a Richard Curtis fan and have enjoyed Four Weddings, Notting Hill and Bridget Jones then this is definitely the book for you. It is littered with references which whilst I got some only a true fan would have got them all.

Friends; Bea, Kat, Lizzie and Hannah joked for many years about all getting married in the same summer and when one engagement leads to another, it looks like this might well be the case.

However, Bea starts to have doubts. She turns down her engagement because she does not think that Simon is the man for her. She thinks she might have found that makes her go weak at the knees when he takes her photo at the first wedding of the season, but it seems he has a promise to fulfil.

Lizzie the first to get married, in the fields with a very countryside themed wedding is marrying the man she is clearly in love with, doting and besotted with. Except that he is about to go back on tour and that will mean leaving her behind.

Hannah is beyond excited about being a wife but has failed to point out to her grandparents who are paying for the wedding, that Remy her partner is in fact female. They might notice at some point all her friends keep telling her.

Kat is practical and certainly doesn’t want any of the fuss and trimmings of other weddings. But does that mean she is not committed? And is Henry feeling the same?

But when events at a festival take life on a different turn and a wedding you never saw coming happens then will these four women find their happy ever after just like in the Richard Curtis film.

This is a lighthearted book very much in line with the films that it liberally refers to throughout, great as a beach read but not if you want something with a bit more depth which I generally do.

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

Four Weddings and a Festival is out now. 

 

 

 

Books

The Secret Cove in Croatia – Julie Caplin

Books can take you on holidays and experiences vicariously and whilst there are some books I read I have no want or desire to become involved – reassuringly for my readers anything to do with murders is at the top of this list! However ones that require no passport or vaccinations then I am there being transported to blue seas, warm sun and the sense of pure relaxation. Utter bliss.

In this the fifth of the Romantic Escapes series by Julie Caplin, I am transported by yacht to Croatia.

Maddie is offered a job as chief cook and bottlewasher onboard a luxury yacht for the summer. One of the yachts that are chartered with those who have so much money they have no sense as to what to do with it.

Despite the hard work, Maddie thinks it might give her time to make sense of what she wants to do with her life.

Nick is a sheep farmer and when a chance encounter with supermodel Tara, sees him forming a relationship with her. What better place to consolidate that than on holiday. Lazing onboard a luxurious yacht seems the perfect place for a supermodel and her eye candy boyfriend.

That is until he meets Maddie, down to earth, comfortable in her skin and also friends with Nick’s sister as well!

Add into the mix another supermodel, a stylist, people famous for being rich and arrogant and you get some rather over inflated egos and precious personalities which in interaction with the down to earth Maddie and to some extent Nick made for humorous reading.

Of course there are some underlying issues when you lead such a high profile life in public when every action has to have a reaction on social media and perhaps some of them were glossed over and not given any closure.

But the real plot was the sparks that fly between Nick and Maddie and when the boat is moored in the secret cove it seems that perhaps, the sheep farmer and the deck hand have more in common than they think. That is until the boat starts to move again.

Croatia and the harbours and towns that they stopped at are painted in something more than a holiday brochure but were brought to life. I am not sure about the yacht as I am not sure my sea legs would survive, however it is always great to see how the ‘other half live’.

A perfect read for a perfect holiday escape. I wonder where Julie Caplin is going to take me next?

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

The Secret Cove in Croatia is out today. 

 

Books

Parish Notices

Hello everyone – how are you coping with the hot weather (if you have had any). It becomes too hot to knit, crochet or do anything crafty so I do resort to jigsaws and going to bed early and reading more.

It has been a month since I was last wittering on my parish notices so I thought I better tell you about some of the books that you may have missed out on and also some great books coming up!

First of all have you heard about Six in Six? Check out the link here which explains how it works but already some people are posting their choices and linking back to me so I can collate them all into a roundup post in August. My choices are coming soon. Please do spread the word. We are a select few that take part every year, but it would be great if there was more.

You will have to see if this book features on any of my choices but I recommend this and the previous novel about Heartcross, Love Heart Lane and it’s residents.

Six months ago, I discovered Love Heart Lane in the village of Heartcross, a lovely Scottish village which had been at the centre of Christie Barlow’s first novel in what is turning out to be a series. Back with familiar faces and the spectacular scenery of the highlands meant I knew was going to be in for a treat.

Such is the quality of the plotting and the writing that you can be swept away to this little village in the highlands and know that you could fit right in.

Both Love Heart Lane and Foxglove Farm are out now.

If I could not move to the Highlands then I want to move to The Little Village of Happiness, the latest novel from Holly Martin

The little village in Cornwall needs people and in return for a years free rent for both accommodation and shop, Willow sees it as the perfect opportunity to escape from the gossip of her town and to lick her wounds from being dumped the day after getting engaged.

I could escape completely within the pages of the book. The characters made me laugh and cry – they also made me cross with their actions too! This books isn’t just full of light fluffy romance, there are some interesting issues dealt with sensitively and they made the plot so much richer and thoughtful.

The Little Village of Happiness is out now.

Of course you could always move abroad……

Grace loves her job at the storage company, even more so when she discovers long lost treasures and items of interest.

When opening one unit, belonging to a Connie Levine. Grace discovers a whole life inside and one with a very interesting story. Grace is determined to discover the truth and reunite these items with their rightful owner.

As we are transported to Italy with Grace she starts to embrace what might have been Connie’s life and what brought to her Italy, what happened to her during the war and why she has left in storage,  expensive paintings and items of jewellery.

A Postcard from Italy is out now.

Of course you could forgo abroad and just stay in a castle.

I almost feel like I could step into the castle and be apart of the renovation, the history and also its  future.

The second in the Bluebell Castle Trilogy from this author who will be making many people smile with her Happy Ever Afters for years to come.

Sunshine over Bluebell Castle it published on 5 August.

Sometimes though it is best just to stay at home.

Sometimes your name can dictate where your home is meant to be.

The Culbones have always lived in Rushbrook House, across the brook from them is Dragonfly Farm home to the Melchiors. The well to do, rich, higher in society than the rundown farm and the farmers across the water.

A family saga set in Somerset, with secrets, cider, romance, friendship, new beginnings and a place for everyone to call home.

The latest from Veronica Henry is published on the 25 July.

So many places you could go and the beauty of books means you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your favourite reading spot!

So that is what has been happening around this parish – what about yours?

Books

A Postcard from Italy – Alex Brown

Grace loves her job at the storage company, even more so when she discovers long lost treasures and items of interest.

When opening one unit, belonging to a Connie Levine. Grace discovers a whole life inside and one with a very interesting story. Grace is determined to discover the truth and reunite these items with their rightful owner.

To do this though, Grace is going to have to step right out of her comfort zone and embark on a journey leaving behind all that she knows and is familiar.

One person not happy about this is, Grace’s mother Cora who has come to rely on her daughter to do everything for her as she is now unable to do anything for herself and is housebound. Encouraged by her work colleagues and friends, Grace makes the decision to go to Italy on this journey and leave her mother behind with some interesting consequences.

As we are transported to Italy with Grace she starts to embrace what might have been Connie’s life and what brought to her Italy, what happened to her during the war and why she has left in storage,  expensive paintings and items of jewellery.

This is a different novel from Alex Brown, if you have read any previously. There is a dual time aspect to it and whilst it is not defined through separate chapters like some books using the same narrative but from the items that are found, jewellery, paintings of the Italian powder pink villa and the letters and diaries that were kept. It is through these that you get a sense of a story, a sense of a person and whilst for some it may not have worked, it has here for this author.

If anything this book combined my love of fiction and history nicely into one and all of the characters brought something to the book whether they were from the past or the present. I was that irritated with Grace’s mother, Cora from the outset, I would have quite happily put a pillow over her head if it meant Grace could escape. I was in team Grace all the way even when she was in Italy, kindly finding out about someone else’s life and without realising it making a new life of her own.

This is a great holiday read and if you are new to the author this would be a great place to start. Avid fans will simply just lap it up and hope for more soon.

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

A Postcard from Italy is out now.