Books

Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square – Heidi Swain

Having found a little hideaway in a lovely cottage in Nightingale Square Kate thinks she may be able to escape not just her family who live in Wynbridge (featured in Heidi Swain’s other books) but also her soon to be ex-husband David. His indiscretions can no longer be ignored.

However hiding away is not what the locals have in mind for Kate. When the whirlwind that is Lisa arrives, with her children in tow as well as Heather and her new perfect baby, Kate is thrust into community life and has to face perhaps some of the baggage she has been holding onto.

But it is not just the cottage that interests Kate but also the big house that dominates the square – Prosperous Place.

When Prosperous Place is sold, the community fears that it may be developed and the feel of the square will change. But the new owner, Luke has some link to the house and wants to bring it back to what it was and when he lets the community use the gardens for a community allotment he gets a lot more than extra vegetables. He starts to make friends……….

Kate’s background in history and antiques means that she is in an ideal position to help Luke but when the past no longer remains history and comes screaming back into the present it looks like Nightingale Square could well change forever.

I thought I was going to get another story from Wynbridge, as I have grown to love that place and all its characters. Whilst this book is connected (Kate is Jemma’s (Cherry Tree Cafe) sister-in-law) it firmly takes place in the square. It has a mystery from the past, a sense of community, great characters and some well written annoying ones who could get under your skin within a couple of sentences.

All signs of a great read and one you will not want to put down, in fact I would have happily packed my bags and gone and lived there. There is a skill to writing books which drag you not just into the story but also to care about all the characters, no matter how much of a role they play. This and any of Heidi Swain’s novels meet that requirement.

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

Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square is out now. 

 

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Books

A Year at Hotel Gondola – Nicky Pellegrino

The beauty of books means that you can be transported away to other places, times and foreign lands without as much as going to an airport or spending any money.

It is very much so with any book you pick up by Nicky Pellegrino. Some of them are better than others and I was a bit disappointed with this one I have to say.

Kat is a food writer, adventurer and television star. Not one to stay in any place for too long, she travels the world. At 50 with her mother’s words of ‘probably got twenty good years left’ ringing her ears, she thinks perhaps putting down some roots and grounding herself for a whole year might be the answer.

With the fall back of writing a book rather than a television programme, Kat discovers Venice, Hotel Gondola and a wonderful man, the deal is they see what happens in the year – it is Kat’s get out clause clearly.

Venice gets under Kat’s skin as she starts to feel more like a local, knowing the places to go for the best food,the best views, the shortcuts through the maze of streets. As Spring turns to Summer, it is not going smoothly for Kat and the year she thought she was going to have starts to turn out very differently.

The setting and the atmosphere of Venice is brought alive from the page and you can see the impact that the tourists have on a city which cannot redevelop because of where it is but yet the tourists keep flocking. You become immersed on the culture, the place and the food.

However, I disliked Kat from the very beginning and as the book progressed I became more irritated by her, not because that was her character but I felt she was not fully formed enough to be taking part in the story, there perhaps needed to be more ‘flesh to her bones for the story’ to have worked. Kat didn’t have that certain something that made that book as good as some of the previous ones.

Despite this minor problem, the book is enjoyable and a perfect read if you want to be transported away for a while.

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

A Year at Hotel Gondola is out now. 

 

 

Books

A Home at Honeysuckle Farm – Christie Barlow

Ten year old Alice loves living at Honeysuckle Farm in Brook Bridge, but after an argument between her mother and grandfather she leaves the farm and has no more contact.

They end up in New York.

She doesn’t know why they left, what the argument was about and why New York?

Thirteen years later, Alice is finding New York, expensive, lonely and a difficult place to find work in. When she learns of her grandfathers failing health – she decides to return.

Alice wants to heal the family rift but she also needs to heal herself as well. Honeysuckle Farm and home is the place she knows she can do it in.

Back in Brook Bridge, Alice is reunited with her grandfather, her friends from the past and the odd heart-throb. In such a small village it is impossible to understand all that has been going on since Alice left and what long-held feuds existed before that point.

Wanting to get to the bottom of the family rift, Alice stumbles across some of the past and realises when she gets swept into community life – that is the key to her future and she is going to have to work hard at it.

This book captures so much; secrets, love, community and dancing! There are a few emotional roller coasters along the way not just with Alice but with the supporting characters to. They are all well-developed and play a part in the storyline which shows the strength of the writing.

A warm fuzzy novel that leaves you wanting more and as Christie Barlow writes more her storylines go from strength to strength. You will not be disappointed.

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

A Home at Honeysuckle Farm is out now. 

Books

The Wedding that Changed Everything – Jennifer Joyce

As a child Emily believed in fairy tales – but then her childhood changed and her belief in such things disappeared, consigned to the bin or the fire.

As an adult Emily still doesn’t believe in fairy tales and is taken a hiatus on finding Mr Perfect, she is having to wade through a lot of Mr Not Much Good and it is getting to her.

Emily’s friend Alice has other ideas. As she is now in love thanks to Emily, Alice feels that she should return the favour. And what better place to find that person that at a wedding.

Alice’s sister is getting married, in the family castle and the celebrations are running for a week and Alice has decided that Emily is going to be her plus one.

Emily is not so keen, but there is mystery to this castle and the relationship between Alice, her sister and two other friends, Tom and Archie who were all once close but have now drifted apart. While trying to avoid everyone she is paired up with, she keeps bumping into Tom. Which isn’t always a bad thing, especially when you get lost in the grounds.

As the past comes to the present and the truth about soured friendships is brought out in the open, perhaps Emily can see that love is quite attainable if you perhaps don’t try so much!

This is a lovely escapist read, what more do you want than a wedding, a castle, old feuds, a wicked stepmother and a gorgeous gardener?

I was not sure how this book was going to pan out, it took a while to get going and the prospect of being emerged in wedding preparations for a week did seem a tad odd. But it works well and had me laughing out loud as well as booing and hissing the baddies as if I was almost at a summer pantomime!

A good read in wedding season!

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

The Wedding that Changed Everything is out now. 

 

 

Books

Take A Chance on Me – Carol Wyer

Charlie’s life is going nowhere – she might have a lovely job baking cakes for the local cafe and volunteering at the local hospital radio. But that is all that is in her life, with her ex husband remarried and about to be a father again, Charlie thinks that she is missing out on life.

Mercedes, doesn’t let her horse riding accident stop her doing anything. Of course there are some things she cannot do so she comes up with an idea that Charlie needs to complete Mercedes Bucket List and in return she will complete Charlie’s.

But the bucket lists are very different and cover belly dancing (which sounded like great fun!), swimming with sharks, zip wiring, knitting, bungee jumping, appearing on television and that life is for living and also for loving.

Add into the mix, Jake a local journalist who seems to keep turning up when Charlie is not at her best and old boyfriend who has his own agenda and the plot moves from humorous and touching to quite thrilling.

The storyline kept me reading, but the book for me only had moments that captured my attention and I was absorbed in the story. I was left disappointed by this, because I felt I was reading pages that added nothing to the story. It perhaps needed to be a bit stronger in plot and character to keep me hooked from beginning to end.

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

Take A Chance on Me is out now and has previously been published as Three Little Birds. 

Books

Dancing Over the Hill – Cathy Hopkins

Married life for Cait and Matt has become, tea, biscuits and the latest boxset.

Gone is the romance, the love, the respect.

It is replaced with resentment, loathing and routine.

Surely after 30 years together there must be something which is holding them together.

Cait cannot see what it is and when an old flame gets in touch, everything is thrown up in the air.

Matt on the other hand discovers that being made redundant

Cait feels she is missing something and when Matt suddenly retires, he can’t find what he wants to do – let alone be.

What follows is a journey as we watch this relationship go through peaks and troughs as they recapture the past, look to the future and be ever present. The secondary characters, of Cait’s good friends, Lorna an Debs add some grounding to the storyline. But when it comes down to it, the only two people that are going to be able to do anything are Cait and Matt.

For me this book seemed to not go anywhere, we were watching the challenges of a relationship which was by no means interesting just ordinary. Perhaps that is the appeal. But I could not relate to very much in the book and I think that is why I struggled with it. From other reviews many will relate to it so don’t be put off by my perception of the book.

Not all books work for the reader.

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

 

 

Books

Summer on the Little Cornish Isles: The Starfish Studio – Phillipa Ashley

And so ends another magical trilogy from Phillipa Ashley where we have returned to those gorgeous little isles (more commonly known as Scilly Isles) and catch up with some of the locals we have grown to love and know in the first two novels and meet some new characters too.

Poppy and her boyfriend Dan come to Cornwall on holiday, to escape the inner city life they are living they fall in love with place so much, and with the little Starfish Studio Dan makes the decision that they should have what they know behind and take it on and live there all the time.

It sounds like the perfect dream for Poppy, that is until Dan changes his mind about going and also about Poppy being his girlfriend with only days before she goes.

Poppy therefore arrives to lick her wounds, heal and make a success of this little studio. She learns to accept help from the locals – Jake the landlord’s grandson is tasked to make sure she settles in well but he is very distracted as well as being ruggedly handsome too!

Poppy does everything she can to get the studio to open to catch at least some of the summer season – despite leaks, territorial cats and obnoxious artists she manages to open and then Dan suddenly reappears…….just when she thought her emotions were more stable.

Like the previous two novels I was immediately transported to these little Isles and could see myself calling in at the Starfish Studio to purchase a piece of unique artwork to remind me of the journey I had taken. Of course I can’t, I have been reading a book and that is the skill of the author I was drawn right in. I wanted to know why Jake is distracted by his past, why Leo is flitting from one to another and how can I possible wipe the smug look of Minty’s face?

This and all the other prvious novels will take you away to a wonderful place and give you a great story at the same time.

I wait with anticipation to see what Phillipa is going to write next and where she is going to take us.

 

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

Summer on the Little Cornish Isles: The Starfish Studio is out now.